Paul Krugman: Trump and Pruitt Will Make America Gasp Again (NY Times Column)
The incoming administration is blind to the benefits of a healthy environment, including to business.
Jonathan Chait: Donald Trump Has Proven Liberals Right About the Tea Party (NY Mag)
It's one thing to suspect tea-party rhetoric was phony, quite another to believe the entire GOP could disregard every single putative principle of the movement even before it had its hands on power. Why is anybody pretending these notions ever really mattered?
Paul Krugman: The Economics of Regional Self-Esteem (NY Times Blog)
Apparently even suggesting that the decline in some kinds of traditional employment can't be reversed, and that sustaining regional economies can be hard, is a demonstration of elitist contempt for regular people.
Josh Marshall: Ryan Plays the DC Press Corps Like a Fiddle (TPM)
What [Republicans] do know is that by repealing Obamacare they can lock in a huge tax cut for the wealthiest Americans. So as if you're one of those 20 or 30 million Americans about to lose their coverage. All is not lost, Ryan got his top supporters a really big tax cut in exchange for the coverage you got under Obamacare.
Jonathan Jones: Time magazine didn't give Trump devil horns. God did (The Guardian)
Why is there a Twitter fantasy about his satanic cranial outgrowths? Because his election really does feel like something out of a horror film.
Ijeoma Oluo: Pizzagate is a lie. But what it says about our society is real (The Guardian)
Americans who believe fake news aren't duped. They willingly decide to accept whatever outrageous story fits their bias and hatred.
Danuta Kean: Stephen King attacks Bob Dylan's Nobel prize knockers (The Guardian)
Guitar-playing horror legend speaks out against literary authors such as Gary Shteyngart and Irvine Welsh who have scorned the singer's award.
Aditya Chakrabortty: "Wolfgang Streeck: the German economist calling time on capitalism" (The Guardian)
The political economist on Trump's election, why we should be happy about Brexit and the crises facing western democracy.
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In The Chaos Household
Overcast and gray kinda day.
Comic actor T.J. Miller was arrested in Hollywood on Thursday on suspicion of assaulting a driver, police said, after the pair reportedly locked horns over President-elect Donald Trump.
Celebrity news website TMZ reported that the driver, who it said was working for Uber, claims he was slapped in the head by the "Silicon Valley" star when they arrived at his home.
Officers arrested Miller at a private address around 1:00 am (0900 GMT) and took him into custody, LAPD officer Jenny Hauser said.
The actor, who was charged with battery, posted $20,000 bail. He was released just under five hours later and ordered to appear in court on January 9.
Feathered Dinosaur Tail Found
Researchers have discovered the partial tail of a feathered dinosaur that was preserved in amber some 99 million years ago, according to a study released Thursday.
One of the lead authors, Lida Xing from the China University of Geosciences, happened upon the feathered dinosaur fossil at an amber market in Myanmar last year.
The chance find lends fresh insight into the extinct feathered creatures as well as the evolution of feathers themselves.
"This is a new source of information that is worth researching with intensity and protecting as a fossil resource," said Ryan McKellar, one of the scientists who worked on the study published in the US journal Current Biology.
The researchers are sure the amber has preserved a dinosaur and not a prehistoric bird, McKellar said, because "the tail is long and flexible."
The discovery of smallpox DNA in a 17th century child mummy may shorten the timeline of the deadly infectious disease's history, according to a study published Thursday.
Specimens of the smallpox-causing variola virus now exist only in secured laboratory freezers. The highly contagious and sometimes fatal disease was finally eradicated in the late 1970s through a worldwide vaccination campaign.
But the origins of the virus remain unknown.
The discovery of the smallpox virus within the DNA of a skin sample of the mummy child, found in a crypt underneath a Lithuanian church, could shed light on how it began and developed, researchers said in the study published in the US scientific journal Current Biology.
The researchers reconstructed the entire genome of the ancient strain of the virus and compared it with versions of the variola virus genome dating from the mid-1900s and before its eradication in the late 1970s.
Virtually Unwrapped In Australia
The hidden secrets of Egyptian mummies up to 3,000 years old have been virtually unwrapped and reconstructed for the first time using cutting-edge scanning technology in a joint British-Australian exhibition.
Three-dimensional images of six mummies aged between 900BC and 140-180AD from ancient Egypt, which have been held at the British Museum but never physically unwrapped, give an insight into what it was like to live along the Nile river thousands of years ago.
"We are revealing details of all their physical remains as well as the embalming material used by the embalmers like never before," the British Museum's physical anthropology curator Daniel Antoine told AFP at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney Thursday.
Two of the travelling mummies were previously exhibited at the British Museum in 2014, with the other four being revealed to the world for the first time in the Sydney show that opens on Saturday.
A dual-energy computed tomography (CT) scanner at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London -- of which only a handful are in operation around the world -- was used to obtain thousands of slices of images of the mummies, with volumetric software then harnessed to create 3D models, Antoine said.
GOP Introduces Plan To Massively Cut
On Thursday, Rep. Sam Johnson, a Republican from Texas and chair of the Ways and Means Committee, introduced legislation to significantly cut Social Security.
The bill introduced by Johnson, who is also the chair of the Social Security subcommittee, slashes benefits, adds means testing, and would raise the retirement age from 67 to 69.
For most workers, the bill would cut Social Security benefits substantially. As Michael Linden, associate director for tax and budget policy at Center for American Progress, pointed out on Twitter, a letter from Social Security's Office of the Actuary
Nearly every income bracket would see a reduction, save for the very bottom. People making around $12,280 in 2016 who have worked for 30 years would see an increase of around 20%. But young people making the same amount would be hit hard by the changes. If they had 14 years of work experience by 2016, they would see their benefits cut in half
Stacks Deck With Retired Generals
He's not yet finished picking, but President-elect Donald Trump (R-Pendejo) already has named three retired generals to top posts, raising questions as to why there will be so much military brass in cabinet-level jobs.
Trump on Wednesday named retired four-star Marine general John Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees several critical areas including immigration and border control -- signature issues for Trump.
If confirmed by the Senate, Kelly would join retired Marine general James Mattis as defense secretary and retired Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn as national security adviser. Mattis also needs Senate approval.
While the men bring broad depth of knowledge to the cabinet and considerable expertise, some worry their numbers threaten a cornerstone of American democracy -- that civilians control the military and the government.
"One more three or four-star general given a senior appointment, and we can start referring to a Trump junta rather than a Trump administration," retired Army lieutenant colonel and military scholar Andrew Bacevich told Time magazine.
Killed More In US Than HIV, Melanoma or Firearms
The opioid epidemic continues to worsen in the U.S., with more people dying from heroin overdoses than firearm homicides, melanoma or HIV-related causes, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2015 at least 13,150 people died of heroin overdose, according to the CDC Wonder database, which houses public health data.
That number was higher than the number of people killed in firearm homicides in the same year, which was 12,974, or the number of deaths attributed to HIV, which was 6,465, according to the CDC database. It was also higher than the number of people killed by the most deadly form of skin cancer, melanoma, which the American Cancer Society estimated caused 9,940 deaths in 2015.
The staggering number of deaths related to heroin use is just a part of the toll of the opioid epidemic. In 2014, 28,000 people died from opioid overdoses -- which includes heroin overdoses -- and half were due to prescription drugs.
Breaks Her Silence
Paula Broadwell is finally breaking her silence over her affair with former CIA director and retired Gen. David Petraeus because she says she wants to reclaim her "own narrative" and career.
"Sometimes it's better to remain silent. I've had that philosophy for the last five years," Broadwell said on "CBS This Morning" Thursday in her first television since the 2012 scandal. "But I've reached a point where I feel like, 'You know what? I need to fight back for my life.'"
Broadwell, a former military intelligence officer and biographer, admitted to having an extramarital affair with Petraeus, whom she met while researching a book on his life. Petraeus, who is reportedly being considered by President-elect Donald Trump (R-Con Man) for secretary of state, later admitted he shared classified information with Broadwell. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in April 2015 for mishandling classified information, receiving two years' probation and a $100,000 fine.
Court documents in the case show that he turned over a black book of highly classified "code word" documents - including the identity of covert officers and notes of National Security Council meetings - to Broadwell, though none of that information wound up her Petraeus biography, "All In." Broadwell was demoted and lost her top secret security clearance, but she was never charged with a crime.
Broadwell said it was "a bit of a shocker" to learn that Petraeus is being considered for secretary of state, but would not say whether she thought he should be allowed to serve in a top-level post in the Trump administration.
The Pay-To-Play Administration
Donald Trump (R-Grifter) routinely blasts his political foes for "pay-to-play" politics and "crony capitalism and corruption."
But Trump is now rewarding some of his biggest campaign bankrollers with unparalleled access, influence, prestige and power in his presidential administration-in-waiting, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of new campaign finance disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission.
In all, 18 ultra-wealthy Americans - the majority are billionaires whose fortunes are greatly affected by government decisions - contributed at least $1 million to the Republican's presidential campaign and political efforts supporting Trump's bid, the Center for Public Integrity's analysis shows.
At least one person on this list, former World Wrestling Entertainment executive Linda McMahon, is slated to serve in Trump's Cabinet: Trump this week tapped McMahon to lead the federal government's Small Business Administration. In addition to spending $6.2 million to support Trump's presidential effort, she and husband Vince McMahon have together donated millions of dollars to Trump's scandal-plagued charitable foundation.
Trump is also nominating six-figure contributors to cabinet-level positions: billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos as education secretary, restaurant mogul Andy Puzder as labor secretary and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary. And four days before Election Day, Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary nominee Ben Carson's old presidential campaign committee likewise gave a pro-Trump super PAC
A fascination with spies and scandals, combined with deep patience and persistence, made Phillip Knightley a legend among investigative journalists.
Knightley, who has died aged 87, helped gain compensation for the victims of thalidomide through a landmark investigation for London's Sunday Times, and shone light on the murky world of Cold War espionage.
Former Sunday Times editor Harold Evans called him "the gold standard of public journalism."
Born into a working-class family in Sydney in 1929, Knightley worked for publications in Australia, Fiji and India before joining London's Sunday Times in the 1960s. Under Evans, the paper became renowned for its investigations. Knightley was a key part of the team that during the 1970s exposed the failings that led to thalidomide, a drug marketed as a remedy for morning sickness but caused major deformities in thousands of babies.
The stories, published after years of digging and court battles, helped bring millions in compensation for the affected children from the drug's British distributor, and led to tighter drug-licensing rules.
Knightley also uncovered previously secret details of the career of Kim Philby, a senior British intelligence official who was also a KGB mole. Knightley interviewed Philby in Moscow shortly before his death in 1988 - his only audience with a Western journalist since defecting in 1963.
Knightley's books include several volumes about Cold War spies and a history of war reporting, "The First Casualty."
Knightley is survived by his wife Yvonne and their three children.