Paul Krugman: Making Ignorance Great Again (NY Times)
As George Orwell noted many years ago in his essay "In Front of Your Nose," people can indeed talk nonsense for a very long time, without paying an obvious price. But "sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield." Now there's a happy thought.
George Orwell: In Front of Your Nose (First published: Tribune. - GB, London. - March 22, 1946.)
When one is making out one's weekly budget, two and two invariably make four. Politics, on the other hand, is a sort of sub-atomic or non-Euclidean word where it is quite easy for the part to be greater than the whole or for two objects to be in the same place simultaneously. Hence the contradictions and absurdities I have chronicled above, all finally traceable to a secret belief that one's political opinions, unlike the weekly budget, will not have to be tested against solid reality.
George Orwell: In Defence of P. G. Wodehouse (Orwell.ru)
If Ezra Pound is caught and shot by the American authorities, it will have the effect of establishing his reputation as a poet for hundreds of years; and even in the case of Wodehouse, if we drive him to retire to the United States and renounce his British citizenship, we shall end by being horribly ashamed of ourselves. Meanwhile, if we really want to punish the people who weakened national morale at critical moments, there are other culprits who are nearer home and better worth chasing.
Wesley Morris: What Was Bill Maher's Big Mistake? (NY Times)
I know what he meant. Lots of people know what he meant. Nonetheless, the thing about some jokes is that they're open to interpretation, and the interpretation isn't up to him.
Charles M. Blow: Trump's Incredible Shrinking America (NY Times)
My whole life I have taken for granted America's leadership in the world. America's might and majesty were cornerstones of international relations, cooperation and diplomacy. We were a beacon and balance to the world. America has been imperfect - sometimes disastrously so - but it always seemed to me bent toward the belief that America and the world could be made more perfect. Well, that time has come to a close. America is exiting the world stage. Donald Trump is drawing the curtains.
Andrew Tobias: We All Do Better When We All Do Better
"My friend and political hero Paul Wellstone, who once held the seat that I now hold in the United States Senate, had a great way of putting it. He said, 'We all do better when we all do better.'" - Al Franken
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Trump's London Tweets: How Low Can He Stoop?
By John Cassidy 08:30 A.M.
Even by Trump's own debased standards, his tweets following the terrorist attacks bore closer inspection.
The American Embassy in London is currently leaderless. In January, Donald Trump said that he would pick his friend and supporter Woody Johnson, the owner of the New York Jets, as Ambassador to the Court of St. James. But as with many other appointments in the Trump Administration, this one has yet to be made official. On Sunday night, when the Embassy put out a series of tweets in response to this weekend's terrorist attack in London, they were issued in the name of Lewis Lukens, the charge d'affaires and acting Ambassador, a career diplomat who has served in Australia, China, Ireland, Iraq, and the Ivory Coast. (From 2008 to 2011, Lukens ran the executive secretariat at the State Department.)
from Marc Perkel
from that Mad Cat, JD
BIRDS NOT OF A FEATHER.
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WHERE THE TRUTH GOES TO DIE.
THE TOP OF THE CLASS.
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In The Chaos Household
June Gloom kept the sun away til late afternoon.
Music icon Bob Dylan has delivered his long-awaited Nobel lecture, citing Buddy Holly and "The Odyssey" among his inspirations, a relief for the Swedish Academy after it honoured the songwriter with its prestigious literature prize for the first time.
"The speech is extraordinary and, as one might expect, eloquent. Now that the lecture has been delivered, the Dylan adventure is coming to a close," Sara Danius, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, wrote in a blog post on Monday.
In the speech, sent to the Academy with an audio link in which Dylan reads it aloud, the enigmatic rock star reflects on the possible links between his lyrics and literature.
Dylan had until June 10 to submit the lecture, the only requirement to claim the eight million kronor (819,000 euros, $923,000) that comes with the prize.
To Play Joe Paterno
The Jerry Sandusky sex scandal that took down Penn State's illustrious college football program is getting the HBO movie treatment.
Al Pacino is set to star in the project, with Barry Levinson attached to direct and exec produce, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Pacino will play Joe Paterno, the winningest coach in college football history who becomes embroiled in the sexual abuse scandal surrounding his longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky. The scandal challenges his legacy and forces him to face questions of institutional failure on behalf of the victims.
Debora Cahn (Grey's Anatomy, The West Wing), John C. Richards (Sahara, Nurse Betty) and David McKenna (SWAT, American History X) will pen the script. Levinson will exec produce with his producing partners at Levinson/Fontana, Tom Fontana and Jason Sosnoff, in addition to Ed Pressman, Rick Nicita and Lindsay Sloane. HBO will produce the film in association with Sony Pictures Television.
Solo Climber Without Ropes
Alex Honnold had dreamed about climbing the mighty El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without any safety gear for eight years. But every time he looked up the massive granite wall, he found it too daunting.
That was the case until this weekend, when the elite rock climber reached the summit in about four hours using only his hands and feet. The 31-year-old on Saturday became the first to climb the 3,000-foot (914-meter) granite wall alone without a safety harness or ropes to catch him if he fell.
Honnold, who grew up in Northern California, began preparing for his historic climb two years ago. He scaled the route countless times, rehearsing it while climbing with protective gear and memorizing each hole he had to grab and the way he had to position his body until he felt comfortable enough to attempt the "free solo" climb.
The most difficult part of the route is about 2,300 feet off the ground, where there are very small holds where only a thumb can fit.
Honnold is first to climb the iconic rock alone without protection in mere hours.
Fossils Turn Up In Metro Dig
It's been around 11,000 years since giant ground sloths roamed North America, but evidence of one of them recently surfaced in Los Angeles, during excavation for a transit project managed by the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Fossils from a giant sloth and a bison were unearthed on May 16 in a layer of sandy clay about 16 feet (5 meters) below Crenshaw Boulevard between 63rd Street and Hyde Park Boulevard, according to a post published online May 31 by The Source, a blog about the LA Metro.
The rocky fragments were identified on May 24 by Gary Takeuchi, collections manager at the La Brea Tar Pits and Museum, as pieces of leg bones - one belonging to a sloth and the other to a bison, LA Metro representatives said in a statement.
Fossils of other ancient massive beasts, which roamed North America during the last ice age, have unexpectedly appeared during other LA construction projects in recent years. In April, work on a subway line extension near the La Brea Tar Pits was temporarily halted while paleontologists recovered first a camel bone and then a bone from an elephant relative, a mammoth or mastodon. And in December 2016, workers discovered a skull and partial tusks, as well as a section of mammoth tusk, also close by the tar pits.
In fact, fossils such as these turn up more frequently in LA than you might think, Takeuchi told Live Science in an email.
Donald Trump (R-Crooked) on Monday wrongly accused Democrats of stalling his ambassadorial nominees in the Republican-controlled Senate, where diplomatic picks cannot be filibustered.
"Dems are taking forever to approve my people, including Ambassadors. They are nothing but OBSTRUCTIONISTS! Want approvals," Trump said on Twitter.
Trump's tweet came as he carried on a long-distance spat with London Mayor Sadiq Khan in the aftermath of a deadly terrorist attack over the weekend. The U.S. embassy in London directly contradicted the president's criticisms of Khan. Trump has yet to nominate an ambassador to Britain.
In fact, the president's relatively small number of ambassadorial nominees are making their way through the process, which starts with the administration sending the relevant paperwork to the GOP-controlled Senate Foreign Relations Committee. After a president makes such nominations, the panel holds a confirmation hearing, followed by a vote on whether to refer nominees to the full Senate for confirmation. Republicans determine the Senate floor schedule, and as a result of past changes imposed by Democratic former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, ambassadors cannot be filibustered.
According to the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service and the Washington Post, Trump has not picked a nominee for 442 out of 559 key positions requiring Senate confirmation. At the same time, his nonambassadorial choices have faced longer delays between nomination and confirmation than those of his predecessors.
Defamation Case Against ABC
A South Dakota meat processor's $5.7 billion defamation lawsuit against American Broadcasting Company opened on Monday, pitting big agriculture against big media, in the first major court challenge against a media company since accusations of "fake news" by U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters have become part of the American vernacular.
In the closely watched case, Beef Products Inc (BPI) claims ABC, a unit of Walt Disney Co, and its reporter Jim Avila, defamed the company by calling its ground-beef product "pink slime" and making errors and omissions in its reporting.
The 2012 news reports almost put privately held meat processor BPI out of business, a lawyer for the company said in opening arguments on Monday.
In the aftermath of ABC's reports, BPI closed three of its four processing plants and said its revenue dropped 80 percent, to $130 million.
ABC has countered that its coverage was accurate and deserved protection under the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment which guarantees freedom of religion, speech and the right to a free press.
Support For Impeachment Now Higher Than Approval Rating
Virtually every single poll tracking Donald Trump's (R-Corrupt) approval rating showed the figure plummeting Monday morning, well below the margin of error compared to the rising level of support for impeachment. The results follow Trump's controversial decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord; the ongoing investigation into his campaign's possible ties to the Kremlin is also a factor.
The president's approval rating dipped from nearly 42 percent to just 36 percent over the weekend, according to a Gallup daily tracking poll published Monday. Trump's declining popularity is inching closer toward his all-time low of 35 percent as president in March, when Gallup had the president's approval at just 35 percent. What's more, nearly 43 percent of American voters support the idea of beginning the official impeachment process for Trump, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll published Wednesday.
There are slight discrepancies between several leading polls as to where the president's approval officially stands, though each tracking poll published Monday and over the weekend seemed to show a decline in popularity following Trump's decision on the Paris Agreement. Even right-leaning poll sites like Rasmussen Reports are indicating dips in support for the president's job performance, reporting that as of Monday, 54 percent of the nation disapproves of Trump's tenure as commander in chief.
Whereas Trump enjoyed record-high popularity near the end of his first trip abroad since assuming the Oval Office (nearing 42 percent or above in several polls and indexes), now he is once again in the historic territory of being one of the least popular new presidents in modern American history. The public's increasing support for the exhaustive political process of removing the president from office comes at a time when Democratic lawmakers are taking to the airwaves and the floors of Congress to call for Trump's impeachment.
In 2016, 33 lions freed from circuses in Peru and Colombia were transported to South Africa to live out their days in a wildlife refuge. Last week, poachers broke into the sanctuary, killing two of the big cats.
The killing of the male lions named José and Liso occurred at the Emoya Big Cat Sanctuary, which had portrayed the lion airlift as a compassionate gesture that alleviated the suffering of animals held in cages and subjected to beatings and other mistreatment. The incursion highlighted how brazen poachers can infiltrate places like Emoya, which said it has 24-hour security and armed patrols and has taken additional measures to protect its property in Vaalwater, in northern South Africa.
South African police and anti-poaching units are investigating, said Animal Defenders International, a group that worked on the lion transfer from South America. The group said it is considering the offer of a reward for information leading to conviction, and that the other lions might even be evacuated pending security upgrades.
No details about the possible motive for the lion killings were provided.
While lion parts have long been used in some African cultures, conservationists have raised concerns that poachers are increasingly targeting lions because of demand in some Asian countries. African lion bones are a relatively recent substitute in tonics for the bones of Asian tigers, whose numbers were depleted by poachers. Lion teeth and claws are known to have value as trinkets.
Thirty Years' War
In November of 1632, the townspeople of Lützen, Germany, were stuck with a grim task: They had to bury some 9,000 soldiers who were left dead on a battlefield after a bloody fight during the Thirty Years' War.
Archaeologists recently undid some of that work.
A few years ago, researchers uncovered a mass grave at the site of the Battle of Lützen.By analyzing the bones, they have now learned more about the violent lives and deaths of soldiers from this era.
The Thirty Years' War was one of the bloodiest events in European history - deadlier than the Black Death and World War II, in terms of the proportion of the population lost. Fought between 1618 and 1648, the conflict started out as a struggle between Catholics and Protestants within the Holy Roman Empire. The brutal clashes touched much of central Europe, but most of the battles were fought in what is Germany today.
Outside of the killing on the battlefields, famine and disease outbreaks devastated populations. Both sides in the conflict heavily relied on wealth-seeking foreign mercenaries (whose loyalties might change based on who was paying more), and occupying armies terrorized civilians in cities and villages.
Thirty Years' War
English actor Peter Sallis, best known for voicing Wallace in the "Wallace & Gromit" films, died Friday in a London nursing home. He was 96.
Prior to his retirement from acting in 2010, Sallis notably starred in Britain's longest-running sitcom as Norman Clegg in "Last of the Summer Wine." Sallis was the only actor to appear in all 295 episodes during the show's 1973-2010 run.
He also provided the voice of Rat in the "Wind and the Willows" TV series and appeared on dozens of other TV shows including "Dr. Who."
His vocal work in the Academy Award-winning claymation series helped him also become known outside of the United Kingdom. He portrayed the eccentric cheese-loving inventor in a number of shorts and feature including "The Wrong Trousers," "A Close Shave," and "A Grand Day Out."
Sallis last voiced the character in Nick Park's 2008 "Wallace and Gromit" short, "A Matter of Loaf and Death." He won an Annie Award for Best Voice Acting in an Animated Feature Production in the Oscar-winning 2005 film "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit."
Actor Roger Smith, who brought glamour to the TV detective genre as a hip private eye on "77 Sunset Strip," has died. He was 84.
Jack Gilardi, who is the agent of Smith's widow, actress Ann-Margret, said the actor died Sunday morning at a Los Angeles hospital after battling a terminal illness. Smith had battled the nerve disease myasthenia gravis for many years.
The actor launched his career in the 1950s when James Cagney spotted him and recommended him for films. He survived two serious illnesses to have a second career after "77 Sunset Strip" as manager of his second wife, entertainer Ann-Margret.
From 1958 to 1963, he co-starred with Efrem Zimbalist Jr. on the glossy ABC series. It made stars of both men and a teen heartthrob out of Edd Byrnes, who played a colorful parking lot attendant named Kookie.
When he first gained fame, he had been married to a glamorous Australian actress, Victoria Shaw, with whom he had three children. They divorced in 1965.
Meanwhile he was dating Ann-Margret, the dynamic singer, dancer and actress of "Bye Bye Birdie," ''Viva Las Vegas" and other films. They were married quietly in Las Vegas in 1967. Smith later quit to manage her career.
For decades Smith guided Ann-Margret's career with great care. She broke her sex kitten stereotype in dramatic fashion in 1971 when she appeared in Mike Nichols' "Carnal Knowledge" as the abused mistress of Jack Nicholson. Critics praised her performance and she was nominated for an Oscar for supporting actress.
She was nominated again in 1975 for her portrayal of Roger Daltrey's mother in the film version of the Who's rock opera "Tommy."
In 1965, Smith was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, a disorder that disrupts the transmission of nerve signals to the muscles, causing severe muscle weakness. Despite the disease, Smith continued working when he was able as the effects of the disease varied over time.
Roger LaVerne Smith was born in 1932, in South Gate, near Los Angeles. When he was 6, his parents enrolled him in a professional school in Hollywood where he learned singing and dancing. When he was 12 the family moved to Nogales, Ariz., where he excelled in the high school acting club and football team.