MIT decides it likes money more than morals

This is very disappointing:

MIT should maintain its financial and research ties to Saudi Arabia, despite the kingdom’s involvement in a civil war and humanitarian crisis in neighboring Yemen, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s suspected links to the brutal killing of a journalist, an internal university report recommends.

In some ways their explanation is worse than the act:

“It is true that those organizations are part of a government that has been implicated in the murder of journalist Khashoggi, that is pursuing repressive policies at home, and whose participation in the Yemeni civil war has been widely condemned,” wrote Richard K. Lester, the associate provost of international activities, in the report.

But terminating MIT’s engagement wouldn’t have “any meaningful ameliorative effect on those actions. On the positive side, these organizations are supporting important research and activities at MIT on terms that honor our principles and comply with our policies,” according to the report.

Wow, so I shouldn’t vote because one vote doesn’t have much of an impact. For the same reason, I shouldn’t recycle or give money to charities (and none of us peons should give to MIT) or be nice to people or well anything–after all, I’m only one non-rich, non-influential person. He should give anti-inspirational talks. Also, the organizations are obviously trying to buy a better reputation and Lester has bought it:

“The judgment I’ve reached was not driven by financial considerations,” Lester said in an interview on Thursday. “We’ve had the relationships with good people, who are trying to do good things. . . . We are not going to punish them for the actions of their leaders.”

The leaders of these organizations are the leaders of the country–MIT is directly rewarding people who have done all the terrible things he mentioned above.

Yeah, global warming is real

Donald Trump is being stupid again (or is that still) on Twitter:

Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter ALL RECORDS – Whatever happened to Global Warming?

And there’s no hunger in the world since I just ate lunch. Also, his government just released a report:

A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies Friday presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the U.S. economy by century’s end.

The report, which was mandated by Congress and made public by the White House, is notable not only for the precision of its calculations and bluntness of its conclusions, but also because its findings are directly at odds with President Donald Trump’s agenda of environmental deregulation, which he asserts will spur economic growth.

Trump has taken aggressive steps to allow more planet-warming pollution from vehicle tailpipes and power plant smokestacks, and has vowed to pull the United States out of the Paris Agreement, under which nearly every country in the world pledged to cut carbon emissions.

The report puts the most precise price tags to date on the cost to the U.S. economy of projected climate impacts: $141 billion from heat-related deaths, $118 billion from sea level rise and $32 billion from infrastructure damage by the end of the century, among others.

For some reason, President Trump didn’t tweet about the report. He ignores stuff that doesn’t reinforce his worldview.

Trump tries to help Saudis

As Kevin Drum notes, this is pretty disgusting:

Trump administration officials last month asked federal law enforcement agencies to examine legal ways of removing exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen in an attempt to persuade Erdogan to ease pressure on the Saudi government, the four sources said.

The effort includes directives to the Justice Department and FBI that officials reopen Turkey’s case for his extradition, as well as a request to the Homeland Security Department for information about his legal status, the four people said.

Trump and Erdogan also recently discussed another option to relieve tensions — the release of Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who was sentenced in May to 32 months in prison by a U.S. federal judge for his role in a scheme to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, two people familiar with the discussion said. Erdogan has criticized the case against Atilla as a political attack aimed at undermining his government.

Erdogan has wanted to extradite Gulen for years because he claims Gulen was behind the attempted coup against Erdogan, but the US hasn’t complied because there is no real evidence, Now the Trump administration would be willing to give up this long time resident of the US to ease pressure on Saudi Arabia after they killed another long time US resident. And, as KD notes, this isn’t the first time that the Trump administration has been willing to give up Gulen:

A year ago the Wall Street Journal passed along a remarkable story about Michael Flynn, the crackpot National Security Advisor appointed by Donald Trump in late 2016 and then fired in early 2017. According to the Journal, Flynn and his son met in 2016 with some associates of Erdoğan who proposed to pay the Flynns $15 million to secretly kidnap Gulen and fly him to Turkey. This was in September, while Flynn was a top campaign surrogate for Trump. A second meeting was held in December, after Flynn had already been appointed NSA.

Now it seems there is pushback from the deep state:

The CIA has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month, contradicting the Saudi government’s claims that he was not involved in the killing, according to people familiar with the matter.

The CIA’s assessment, in which officials have said they have high confidence, is the most definitive to date linking Mohammed to the operation and complicates the Trump administration’s efforts to preserve its relationship with a close ally. A team of 15 Saudi agents flew to Istanbul on government aircraft in October and killed Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate, where he had come to pick up documents that he needed for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman.

In reaching its conclusions, the CIA examined multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that the prince’s brother Khalid bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi, according to the people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the intelligence. Khalid told Khashoggi, a contributing columnist to The Washington Post, that he should go to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents and gave him assurances that it would be safe to do so.

The Trump administration really wants to work with the Saudis, after all Jared Kushner is best friends with the prince, even if it means sacrificing a US resident or two, we’ll see what other Republicans say.

Trump again blames the victims and gets stuff wrong

There was a devastating wildfire in Paradise California:

 The flames burned down more than 6,700 buildings, almost all of them homes, making it California’s most destructive wildfire since record-keeping began. There were 35 people still missing.

Sheriff’s deputies recovered human remains from at least five homes as they went house-to-house in Paradise canvassing for the missing. It was unclear if the remains were in addition to the nine fatalities already reported by the Butte County Sheriff’s Office.

So what does President Trump tweet?

There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor. Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!

That’s both offensive as hell and, this being Trump, wrong:

“Mr. President, with all due respect, you are wrong. The fires in So. Cal are urban interface fires and have NOTHING to do with forest management. Come to SoCal and learn the facts & help the victims,” the Pasadena Firefighters Assn. said on Twitter.

Experts have also said forest management was not a factor in California’s two most destructive fires: the Camp, which burned more than 6,000 structures this week in Paradise, and the Tubbs fire last year in wine country.

Forest thinning would not have stopped the Camp or the Tubbs. Fueled by dry grass growing amid scattered pine and oak trees, the Camp tore across land thinned by flames just 10 years ago. The Tubbs burned grassy oak woodlands, not timber land.

Fuck Trump.

Fucking vote

It’s election day tomorrow which means it’s time to do your civic duty and vote. Voting is the absolute least you can do to keep this experiment called democracy going, so vote. The difference between the two parties is the starkest in my lifetime so you have a clear choice.

 

Of course, I urge you to support the party that:

extended health insurance to tens of millions and put in safeguards if you have pre-existing conditions;

believes we can afford to give everyone healthcare like every other rich country;

isn’t supported by racists, sexists, and xenophobes;

believes Nazis and white nationalists are self-evidently bad;

doesn’t claim to care about the deficit and then give trillions to the rich and corporations;

doesn’t want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid;

believes we should regulate the financial industry so they don’t cause another Great Recession;

supports a secular government as given in the Constitution;

believes in the science saying we are causing global warming and need to do something to stop it;

believes that renewable energy is not only good for the planet but will help our economy;

doesn’t tear children away from their parents;

believes we should follow international and US laws that say people have a right to ask for asylum;

thinks that LGBT are real people deserving of rights;

talks well of our international allies not our enemies;.

 

I could go on, but I urge you to vote even if you don’t agree with me.

Words have consequences

When asked if soldiers would fire on immigrants, Donald Trump answered that he hoped not but he said he told the military that if anyone threw rocks they should consider it a rifle. It seems the Nigerian army was listening:

The Nigerian Army on Friday shared a clip of President Donald Trump saying US troops would open fire on rock-throwing migrants to justify firing on and killing Shia protesters earlier in the week.

Nigerian troops fired on a group of roughly 1000 Shia protesters on Monday, killing over 40 people, according to Amnesty International and leaders of the march. Nigeria’s military has repeatedly been decried for ongoing human rights abuses, but the US government has continued to sell it warplanes and other military equipment.

John Agim, a spokesman for the Nigerian Army, on Friday said the video was released as a response to Amnesty International’s condemnation of Monday’s incident, The New York Times reports.

“We released that video to say if President Trump can say that rocks are as good as a rifle, who is Amnesty International?” he said. “What are they then saying? What did David use to kill Goliath? So a stone is a weapon.”

Trump now says he didn’t mean the military would shoot anyone:

 “They do that with us, they’re going to be arrested,” he added. “There are going to be problems. I didn’t say shoot. I didn’t say shoot.”

As usual, I don’t know if he’s so stupid or if he thinks we all are–of course it could be both.

In related news, it seems the Army doesn’t consider the caravan much of a threat:

According to military planning documents, about 20 percent of the roughly 7,000 migrants traveling through Mexico are likely to complete the journey. The unclassified report was obtained and published by Newsweek on Thursday. If the military’s assessment is accurate, it would mean the United States is positioning five soldiers on the border for every one caravan member expected to arrive there.

‘‘Based on historic trends, it is assessed that only a small percentage of the migrants will likely reach the border,’’ the report says. It was prepared by US Army North, a component of US Northern Command, which oversees the mission dubbed Operation Faithful Patriot.

The President has decided that out and out racism will help Republicans next Tuesday. I certainly hope he’s wrong.

Hate week

This caps off a horrible week:

 Armed with an AR-15-style assault rifle and at least three handguns, a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire inside a crowded Pittsburgh synagogue Saturday morning, killing at least 11 congregants and wounding four police officers and two others, authorities said.

The week started with news of bombs being sent to Donald Trump’s enemies:

 

a pipe bomb delivered via mail to an estate in Bedford, New York, belonging to billionaire liberal activist George Soros.
That same day, Sayoc, still under the radar of law enforcement, retweeted a post saying, ‘‘The world is waking up to the horrors of George Soros.’’

Additional packages followed, delivered the next day for Clinton and Obama and after that to the cable network CNN, former Attorney General Eric Holder, former Vice President Joe Biden — and other Democratic targets of conservative ire.

In the middle of the bombs, a racist tried to bomb a church:

A white man with a history of violence and mental illness was recorded on surveillance video apparently trying to get inside a predominantly black church in Kentucky before he went to a grocery store and fatally shot two African-Americans, police said.

It was a horrible week but there have indications for a while:

‘‘Prior to the election of President Donald Trump, anti-Semitic harassment and attacks were rare and unexpected, even for Jewish Americans who were prominently situated in the public eye. Following his election, anti-Semitism has become normalized and harassment is a daily occurrence,’’ the report says.

The New York City-based ADL has commissioned other studies of online hate, including a report in May that estimated about 3 million Twitter users posted or reposted at least 4.2 million anti-Semitic tweets in English over a 12-month period ending Jan. 28. An earlier report said anti-Semitic incidents in the United States the previous year had reached the highest tally it has counted in more than two decades.

And it didn’t stop President Trump from ramping up the Xenophobia:

 The Trump administration is planning to dispatch 800 more troops to the border at the direction of a president who has declared illegal immigration a ‘‘national emergency’’ and has been stoking fears about it ahead of the fast-approaching midterms just as he did before his own election.

He threatens to close the border, Republicans call a caravan of people seeking asylum an invasion, and obviously stupid conspiracy theories are now believed and acted on. It’s a depressing and frightening time.

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