What a (news) day.. Here’s everything worth reading on Dec. 16, 2016
Trump and Related
The Donald announced his pick for ambassador to Israel… and he almost couldn’t be worse. David M Friedman wants to expand settlements in Palestinian territory, thinks Israel should annex the West Bank altogether, and has advocated for the American embassy to be moved to Jerusalem. (The Trump team reiterated that it also wants to see the embassy relocated, on Friday)
He also compared the Jewish, “pro-peace” J Street lobbying group to Nazi collaborators:
They are far worse than kapos — Jews who turned in their fellow Jews in the Nazi death camps. The kapos faced extraordinary cruelty and who knows what any of us would have done under those circumstances to save a loved one? But J Street? They are just smug advocates of Israel’s destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure American sofas — it’s hard to imagine anyone worse.
— Friedman, Arutz Sheva
The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act incorporates a definition of anti-Semitism which, among other things, considers Israel/Nazi comparisons anti-Semitic. Surely, the spirit of the law also includes other comparisons of Jewish institutions to Nazis or their collaborators, yes?
The ASAA does not contain an “unless you’re a right-winger” carve out. Once again, there’s an opportunity for Jewish organizations to demonstrate that they’re unafraid to call out anti-Semitic rhetoric when it emerges from the right.
— David Schraub, Haaretz
Matt Taibbi on Goldman Sach’s infiltration of the executive:
His chief strategist, the unabashed white-supremacist loon Steve Bannon, is a former Goldman banker, as is adviser Anthony Scaramucci. Steve Mnuchin marks the fourth Goldman-pedigreed treasury secretary in the last four presidencies, after Bob Rubin, Lawrence Summers and Hank Paulson.
But the real shocker is the recent appointment of Goldman Chief Operating Officer Gary Cohn to the post of director of the National Economic Council. Bannon and Mnuchin were former, past Goldmanites. Cohn, meanwhile, is undoubtedly at least the number-two figure at the world’s most despised bank, if not the outright co-head with Blankfein. He has been at the center of many of its most infamous episodes, including the Greek affair.
So much for draining the swamp.
Russian Hacking v. American Democracy
The case that Russia interfered in the U.S. election has grown stronger, at least symbolically. No damning evidence has been released, but the FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence — which oversees American intelligence agencies — both now support the CIA’s assessment that the Kremlin was involved.
At a press conference Friday, Obama said that he had told Russian President Vladmir Putin to “cut it out,” regarding Russian hacking as early as September. He also said he didn’t publicly retaliate to protect the integrity of the election.
On the same day, Putin called for the U.S. government to either released evidence of Russian involvement or stop talking about it:
“They should either stop talking about that or produce some proof at last. Otherwise it all begins to look unseemly.”
– Putin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov, via CNN
In an op-ed for the Boston Globe, John Shattuck went so far as to say that a “specter of treason hovers over” the president-elect:
By denigrating or seeking to prevent an investigation of the Russian cyberattack Trump is giving aid or comfort to an enemy of the United States, a crime that is enhanced if… he is in fact seeking to cover up his staff’s or his own involvement in or prior knowledge of the attack.
Exxon Mobil CEO and Trump pick for secretary of state Rex Tillerson may not be as anti-science as many initially feared. Via The Hill:
[Under Tillerson] Exxon shifted from its public position of doubting climate change to declaring that there is “no question” that human activity was the source of carbon dioxide emissions contributing to the phenomenon…
After Tillerson took over, the company backed a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, implemented an internal accounting measure to put a fee on carbon emissions and stopped funding many groups that outright reject the scientific consensus behind climate change, all major shifts away from its previous positions.
Exxon endorsed last year’s agreement in Paris on global warming.
That doesn’t mean anyone should be putting any faith in him to change Trump’s views (or do anything not terrible), however:
Tillerson nonetheless disagrees with environmentalists’ views that fighting climate change means using less fossil fuels. Instead, Exxon looks at solutions like replacing coal with natural gas — which the company produces — and adapting to the effects of a changing world.
Giraffes are on their way out… of existence.
From the Guardian:
The world’s tallest animal is at risk of extinction after suffering a devastating decline in numbers, with nearly 40% of giraffes lost in the last 30 years, according to the latest “red list” analysis…
The natural world is in the midst of a mass extinction as wild places are destroyed by conversion to farmland, mining and pollution, and animals are hunted in huge numbers. In October, a major analysis found the number of wild creatures was on track to fall by two-thirds by 2020, compared to 1970. Recent red list updates have found the eastern Gorilla and whale shark moving closer to extinction, while the prospects of the giant panda are improving.
Dylan Roof, the man who massacred nine black churchgoers last year, was convicted on 33 counts in U.S. district court yesterday. According to NBC News, the jury will reconvene on Jan. 3 to decide whether Roof will face the death penalty or the rest of his left behind bars.
From Chris Hayes’ piece in The Nation, regarding Obama’s presidency:
By the end of Obama’s two terms, wages were growing at their fastest pace in 60 years, unemployment was down to 4.6 percent, and 20 million more people had health insurance. Life had improved — tangibly, if at the margins — for millions…
[T]he Democratic Party under Obama became associated with institutionalism. Its message was: Things are getting better; America still works; just hang on, because daybreak is around the corner. This allowed the Republicans — the party of plutocracy and deregulation and the US Chamber of Commerce — to become, in the person of Donald J. Trump, the insurrectionist party, the party of those who believe, as Trump said so many times, that “the system is rigged.”
Jeff Sharlett (who I’m a hug fan of) wrote a great piece on antisemitism:
And here’s your Moment of Zen:
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