Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for May 17th, 2017

Trump’s overseas trip must be canceled. The risks are too great.

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Sarah Posner makes a cogent argument, well worth reading in full, in the Washington Post. It begins:

President Trump is scheduled to depart Friday on his first international trip as president, with scheduled visits in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the West Bank, and the Vatican, followed by attendance at meetings of NATO in Brussels and the G7 alliance in Sicily. Talking to reporters this morning, national security adviser H.R. McMaster brushed off questions about Trump’s sharing of classified information with Russian officials, focusing instead on the trip’s purpose to “highlight the need for unity among three of the world’s great religions” and further “an agenda of tolerance.”

But less than two hours after McMaster spoke, the New York Times reported this afternoon that Israel is the ally whose intelligence Trump inappropriately shared with Russian officials. Although Israel would not confirm the report, it would, if true, vindicate the fears of Israeli intelligence officials who warned, even before Trump took office, that intelligence shared with the United States could be leaked to Russia, and potentially passed on to Iran.

Here’s the upshot of all this: Trump’s trip must be canceled. Our national security, our relationships with allies, and the security of the world are at risk due to the president’s erratic behavior and inability to adhere to basic norms of both democracy and diplomacy.

Even for a capable president, Trump’s itinerary would represent an ambitious agenda. In Trump’s hands, though, it’s fraught with the perils of tweets, statements, misstatements, boasts or other inappropriate Trump outbursts that could trigger or intensify geopolitical and religious tensions. Beyond politics, the idea that Trump is capable of promoting even an iota of religious tolerance is almost too absurd to even address.

In short, the trip is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

First, and most crucially, revelations about Trump’s conduct over the past 24 hours have rightly spooked our allies. After yesterday’s blockbuster Post article exposing Trump’s cavalier sharing of classified information with Russian officials, the White House has not taken a single step to reassure them, such as publicly acknowledging Trump’s conduct and promising it won’t happen again.

Instead, the White House’s efforts at damage control have only made matters worse. The White House hasn’t meaningfully denied the story; it has only denied that Trump did anything wrong. Today, after Trump tweeted that he had an “absolute right” to share “facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety” with Russian officials, McMaster seemed to acknowledge that the story was indeed true, but that what Trump did was “wholly appropriate.”

But  Trump’s loose lips may have endangered the life of an intelligence source and that person’s family, and it certainly is already damaging our relationships and crucial intelligence-sharing arrangements with allies, according to Stephen Tankel, a defense and national security expert writing at The Post’s Monkey Cage blog.

What’s more, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 May 2017 at 6:09 pm

Spring Shrimp Surprise 2

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It will come as no surprise to regular readers that, on making SSS again today, I modified the original recipe (modifications made at the link)

The olives were a good idea, I think, as well as the jalapeño. Sherry was okay, but I’m sticking with dry vermouth in the future. Fish sauce does add to the recipe.

It contains a lot of vegetables per shrimp, but that’s part of the “spring.”

Written by LeisureGuy

17 May 2017 at 5:49 pm

The worst job in Washington right now: Working for Trump

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Ashley Parker and Abby Phillip give a close-up of the West Wing spirit:

As Donald Trump has grown increasingly angry and frustrated with his White House staff, the beleaguered targets of his ire have a quietly roiling gripe of their own — their boss, the president himself.

In the nine days since he fired FBI Director James B. Comey, Trump has lurched through a series of crises of his own making — from the explosive report Monday that he had revealed highly classified intelligence to Russian officials to the bombshell Tuesday that he had urged Comey to end the federal investigation into Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser.

And in his wake remain his exhausted aides and deputies, the frequent targets of Trump’s wrath as they struggle to control an uncontrollable chief executive and labor to explain away his stumbles.

Wednesday evening brought yet another challenging development for the White House, as the Justice Department announced a special counsel to investigate possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Some White House staffers have turned to impeachment gallows humor. Other mid-level aides have started reaching out to consultants, shopping their resumes. And at least one senior staffer has begun privately talking to friends about what a post-White House job would look like, according to two people close the staffer.

Trump, for his part, largely believes his recent string of mishaps are not substantive but simply errors of branding and public relations, according to people close to him and the White House. Indeed, as he faced a wave of criticism following the disclosure he had leaked “code-word” intelligence material to Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting last week, the president took to Twitter to claim he had “the absolute right” to do so.

White House officials are particularly worried about the news this week that Comey took meticulous memos about conversations he had with Trump — including one in which Comey claims that Trump requested that he end his investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to two people in close contact with administration officials. Aides realize that the White House has squandered its credibility and will have difficulty pushing back against the latest allegations, one of the people said.

The president’s siege mentality was on display Wednesday when he delivered commencement remarks at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., offering graduates a warning that life is “not always fair.”

“You will find that things happen to you that you do not deserve and that are not always warranted,” Trump said. “Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly.”

The president implored the crowd to “fight, fight, fight,” and added, “You can’t let them get you down. You can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams.”

But his team is growing increasingly weary. Privately, they say, the problem is not an incompetent communications shop, as the president sometimes gripes, or an ineffectual chief of staff, as friends and outside operatives repeatedly warn, but the man in the Oval Office, whose preferred management style is one of competing factions and organized chaos.

One West Wing official recently stopped defending Trump or trying to explain away his more controversial behavior. Another characterized the operation as “trudging along,” with aides trying to focus their attention on Trump’s upcoming foreign trip and the budget landing next week.

Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary under George W. Bush, said . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 May 2017 at 5:42 pm

Why the obituary for Eudocia Tomas Pulido didn’t tell the story of her life in slavery

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Very much worth reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 May 2017 at 5:27 pm

Posted in Daily life

Companies Steal $15 Billion From Their Employees Every Year

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Ben Schiller reports in Fast Company:

When employers fail to pay overtime, withhold tips from waitresses and waiters, or misclassify workers as exempt from minimum wage regulations, they’re stealing income from the poorest members of society. “Wage theft,” the collective term for this practice, can take many forms. But it comes down to something simple: bosses stiffing workers out what they are legally owed.

This workplace larceny is worse than you might think. The Economic Policy Institute, a think-tank that investigates labor issues, analyzed records for the 10 most populous states. Looking just at one form of wage theft–failure to pay minimum wages in each state–it documents $8 billion in annual underpayments. Extrapolated across the U.S. as a whole, it calculates a total of $15 billion a year in employer misappropriation, which is more than the value of all the property stolen during robberies, burglaries, and auto thefts across the country.

The report finds 2.4 million workers affected across the ten states: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. And it says workers suffering minimum wage violations lose an average of $64 per week, almost a quarter of their weekly earnings. An average wage theft victim earns just $10,500 in wages a year–and loses up to $3,300 of that to unscrupulous bosses.

“Property crime is a better understood, more tangible form of crime than wage theft, and federal, state, and local governments spend tremendous resources to combat it,” the report, written by EPI analyst David Cooper and research assistant Teresa Kroeger, says. “In contrast, lawmakers in much of the country allocate little, if any, resources to fighting wage theft, yet the cost of wage theft is at least comparable to–and likely much higher than–the cost of property crime.”

Cooper and Kroeger say that wage theft could be reduced through better enforcement of labor laws, including increasing penalties for violators, protecting workers from retaliation, and improving collective bargaining rights. It notes that the U.S. Department of Labor, which is responsible for investigating minimum violations, is chronically under-staffed. In 2015, its Wage and Hour Division (WHD) employed about the same number of investigators as 70 years ago–about 1000–despite a huge expansion of the economy over that time. The U.S. workforce is about six times larger today (135 million in 2015) compared to the 1940s (22.6 million in 1948).

The Obama Administration expanded the WHD from 700 to 1,000 staff and appointed the first WHD administrator in more than a decade (other appointees had been held up in Senate confirmation battles). David Weil, a professor at Boston University and author of the book The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done To Improve It, is credited with stepping up misclassification investigations and helping to prosecute several offenders of labor law. By contrast, President Trump has yet to appoint a WHD administrator (or many other positions at the U.S. Department of Labor). His original choice for Secretary of Labor, Andrew Puzder–a rapid opponent of minimum wage laws–was never confirmed amid domestic abuse allegations. Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, Trump’s second choice, is considered to be more favorable towards labor. But it remains to be seen how independent he’ll be from the White House and whether he builds on the enforcement regime of the last administration. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 May 2017 at 2:54 pm

A movie movie that gets better as it goes along: “Mindhorn”

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Netflix has a new comedy up, a Netflix Original: Mindhorn. It’s a movie movie (a movie about making a movie—in effect, a backstage story), though in this case the plot is driven not by a movie but by a 1980s TV series of the “bionic human” genre. Mindhorn is about some of the cast today and also includes a fan. The protagonist of Mindhorn is the actor who played the hero of the series who is now a has-been scrambling for acting roles.

The opening is good (especially the cameo with Kenneth Branagh as himself), but my expectations were low. The movie surprised me, though, by getting better and better as it went along. Satisfying.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 May 2017 at 10:37 am

Posted in Movies & TV

Apple’s new $5 billion campus has a 100,000-square-foot gym and no daycare

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Amazing. I had thought Apple was a heads-up corporation. Guess not.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 May 2017 at 10:27 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

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