“One of the published photos, and probably the last straw that broke the camel’s back showed the couple explicitly having sex on top of the pyramid.”

The thing that amazes me is not that they were able to have sex there, but that there is no security to prevent them from climbing the Great Pyramid at night.

“Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate’s relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided.”

(“AMI” is the company which publishes The National Enquirer. “Pecker” is the head of that company.)

“It’s a critical admission because, if true, it transforms the payment into a criminal violation as opposed to simply a private transaction.”

It’s weird to hear old guys who don’t understand tech at all try to tell a tech expert how his own company works.

Here’s a classic exchange:

LAMAR SMITH: You’ve never punished a Google employee for manipulating search results, is that right?

GOOGLE CEO SUNDAR PICHAI: It’s not even possible for an individual employee to do that.

SMITH: I disagree. I think humans can manipulate the process.

Now here’s the really good part – by bringing this matter up in a public forum, covered by every news site and many bloggers (even me), Smith just made it even MORE likely that a search for idiot will turn up a story about Trump – or about Lamar Smith! If a Google search for “idiot” should actually lead to Lamar Smith, the picture would certainly be convincing!

 

But here’s the really sad part: this simple, elderly fellow who can’t understand the very basic concepts behind a Google search, is (at least for a few more weeks) the chairman of the House Committee on Space, Science, and Technology!

Gee, I can’t imagine why American students keep falling farther behind the rest of the world in science.

At least Smith seemed alert enough to know who he was talking to. That’s an indication of genius by congressional standards. He seemed like Dr. Steven Hawking compared to Louis Gohmert, who complained to the CEO of Google about Wikipedia, or Steve King, who complained about Apple.

“Congressman, iPhone is made by a different company.”

Gohmert’s complaint at least sounded like something that really happened. In King’s case, he not only addressed his concerns to the wrong guy, but it was pretty obvious that he had totally fabricated his complaint, but was too tech-challenged to realize how transparent his lie was.

The plea and co-operation agreement indicates that Paul Erickson knew she was a Russian agent and helped her carry out her assignments.

People will be throwing around the T word, but there are no treason indictments in peacetime. The Constitution defines treason very specifically, and even the Rosenbergs were not charged with it. Erickson could, in the worst case, end up being charged with espionage, which can carry the death penalty.

The best are North Dakota and Iowa

“North Dakota is fairly safe for drivers, with a fatality rate of 1.16 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled and a theft rate of 234.7 vehicles per 100,000 inhabitants — lower traffic fatality and vehicle theft rates than the national averages. The state also tends to be cheaper for drivers with lower gas prices, repair and maintenance costs and an average insurance vehicle premium of $1,086 compared with the $1,365 people typically pay nationally, according to Insure.com. Better still, the average commute time in North Dakota is about 18 minutes, and just 10 percent of roads are in poor condition, according to the Bankrate study.”

And Iowa? Well, it’s safe because if you veer off the road, there’s nothing in the entire state to hit except corn fields. Iowans never seem to appreciate that visitors go the “highest point in Iowa” to laugh, because it seems to be about two feet higher than the surrounding area. Oh, the majestic view!

The worst state for drivers? Pretty obvious. See if you can guess from the description. “It’s not just long wait times; 44 percent of roads are in poor condition. It also has more thefts as well as higher insurance premiums, repair costs and gas prices.”

Federal prosecutors said in a new court filing that President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen should spend significant time in prison

Cohen was prosecuted by two separate parts of the Justice Department, Mueller’s office and federal prosecutors in Manhattan. Their reports differed sharply:

“Prosecutors for the Southern District of New York filed a memo arguing that he should serve substantial time, possibly years, in prison  — saying that while Cohen did provide useful information to investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 election, he refused to disclose everything he knew.” (I was surprised to hear this. I thought Cohen was genuinely contrite.)

Mueller filed a separate document, taking a much softer stance, saying that while Cohen’s crime was “serious,” he had “taken significant steps to mitigate his criminal conduct.”

Mueller: Paul Manafort lied about contacts with Trump administration this year

I love this guy!

If he had co-operated fully, the prosecutors might have asked for him to be sentenced to massive fines and time already served, ala General Flynn. Instead, he committed more crimes under house arrest, so they placed him behind bars, whereupon he committed more crimes during his “cooperation” interviews. And don’t forget the wheelchair! He breathes life into the definition of “incorrigible.”

In Orson Welles’ unfinished (but recently restored and completed) “The Other Side of the Wind” one character is described as “so crooked he’s got rubber pockets to steal soup.” That describes Manafort to a T.

Imagine the frustration of his lawyers. He must ignore everything they tell him. I hope they got their fees in advance, and insisted on being paid in cash, ‘cuz you just know his checks are gonna bounce.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson accused of rape and sexual harassment by four women

I just found out from reading this article that Tyson and I were in grad school at the University of Texas together in the mid 80s. Our paths would not have crossed. I never spent any time on campus except in classes because I was living 200 miles from campus! Even if I had been living in Austin at the time, I might not have run into him. He was working toward a Ph.D, and I was in the business school taking an executive MBA program, so we had no common coursework and studied in completely different buildings. (Not to mention that I was only there on weekends, and he probably studied M-F.)

Even if two people take similar programs at UT, they might not meet unless they have common classes for some reason. UT is monstrous. It has 10,000 grad students and a total enrollment of about 50,000.

The Texas chapter of his life is one he does not like to discuss. (He got his master’s degree in astronomy, but was flunked out as a Ph.D candidate.) Heaven only knows why he chose to go to UT in the first place. He is a native New Yorker and had an undergraduate degree from Harvard, so he might have picked just about any prestigious grad school in the northeast. One wonders why he didn’t go to Columbia in the first place. At any rate, he eventually earned his Ph.D from Columbia in the field of astrophysics.

Anyway – digression over. Things look bad for him, but I hope he is innocent. Like just about everyone else, I really enjoy his TV appearances.

“Senators emerge from briefing by CIA director Gina Haspel. Corker says jury would convict Prince Mohammed in 30 minutes.”

Corker is famous for his days as a DA, when he would empanel an entire jury of JimmyJohns employees.

(I’m fuckin’ witcha. Corker is not a lawyer. He was a successful businessman.)

The evidence must be overwhelming because even one of Trump’s favorite lickspittles, Lindsey Graham, was willing to speak up.

How Havana is collapsing, building by building

If you talk to the old timers who got an opportunity to visit Havana before the revolution, they agree almost unanimously that Havana was the most fun place they ever visited – the dancing, the music, the gambling, the women, the joy of the Cuban spirit …

Thanks, Castro!

(You too, Obama – on general principles)

R.I.P. George H.W. Bush

When we bury him, we will bury the last of the old Republican party, the last remnant of the time when one could use “Republican” and “moral” in the same sentence without irony.

His accomplishments were enviable: naval aviator in WW2, self-made oil millionaire, congressman, head of the CIA, ambassador to the UN, VP, President. He was a dignified man who did just about anything an American can dream of doing; a man who always placed his country first.

Above all, he was a decent man. I wish we could say that of every leader.

As you undoubtedly know, I always look for a different take on these obits, since the best websites like Hollywood Reporter (entertainment figures) and NPR (others) always cover the usual list of accomplishments. In this case it is a favorite pic I call “The Two Georges,” which pictures a young Yale first baseman named George Bush talkin’ baseball with George Herman “Babe” Ruth.

It’s filled with shocking details that I had not been aware of. Epstein is the serial abuser of underage girls who used to hang with everybody who was anybody, including Donald Trump and Bill Clinton. His lawyers included Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz. (Here is Epstein’s Wikipedia page.)

Many believe his connections got him a sweetheart deal for crimes that should have left him in prison for life. The Herald said it found about 80 women Epstein allegedly molested or sexually abused over a five-year period, and the report charged that even Epstein’s brief state prison time was lax, being housed in a private wing at the Palm Beach County jail and allowed outrageous work release privileges (12 hours per day, 6 days per week) and a private security detail.

Here are some of the juicier quotes:

In the affidavit, Roberts claimed that Epstein and Maxwell directed her to have sex with (Prince) Andrew and (Alan) Dershowitz and others. She had sex with Andrew three times, she alleged — once in London, when she was 17, again in New York, when she was 17, and a third time, as part of an orgy on Epstein’s island, when she was 18. By law, at 17, she would have been above the age of consent in New York and England, but not in Florida, where the age of consent is 18. As part of the affidavit, Roberts furnished a photograph of her with the prince and Maxwell, which she said was taken in London.

Dershowitz, who was part of Epstein’s criminal defense team, was often a guest at Epstein’s homes, she said. “I had sexual intercourse with Dershowitz at least six times,’’ Roberts wrote in the 2015 court affidavit. “The first time was when I was about 16, early on in my servitude to Epstein and it continued until I was 19.’’ She detailed some of those trysts, which she said happened at Epstein’s homes in Palm Beach, New Mexico and on Epstein’s island. One of Epstein’s housemen, Juan Alessi, testified in a 2009 sworn deposition that Dershowitz visited Epstein’s Palm Beach home four or five times a year.

————–

Perhaps most outrageous of all: The prosecutor who gave Epstein his outrageously lenient sentence is now Trump’s Secretary of Labor. Some of the current lawsuits involving the case are against Secretary Acosta. The women argue Acosta and other federal prosecutors broke the law in their handling of the case.

More than 1,800 US newspapers have closed since 2004, leaving expanding ‘news deserts’ with little or no local reporting on public affairs

“More than one-fifth of local dailies or weeklies had been shuttered in a decade and a half. As a result, ‘thousands of our communities (are) at risk of becoming news deserts,’ the report said. Half of the 3,143 counties in the United States now have only one newspaper, usually a small weekly, and almost 200 counties in the country have no newspaper at all. ‘The people with the least access to local news are often the most vulnerable—the poorest, least educated and most isolated.'”