Whoop-ass Wednesday

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Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the incoming chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has signaled plans to use his newly won subpoena power to aggressively investigate whether Russian interests laundered money through Donald Trump’s businesses and used the connection as leverage over the president, a line of inquiry sure to enrage Trump.

Schiff and other committee Democrats have recently said they do not intend to launch an entirely new Russia probe but will instead pursue investigative angles that other inquiries have not delved into. Schiff has repeatedly asserted that the question of whether Trump’s businesses relied on laundered Russian funds tops that list.

“No one has investigated the issue of whether the Russians were laundering money through the Trump Organization and this is the leverage that the Russians have over the president of the United States,” Schiff said at a Brookings Institution panel discussion last month, before Democrats regained control of the House in the midterm elections. He reiterated that sentiment in an NPR interview on Wednesday.

@ MOTHER JONES

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Tyrant Tuesday

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Trump called for an end to the recount even though state rules allow election officials to wait 10 days for absentee ballots submitted by registered voters living outside the United States, including active-duty military personnel.

A machine recount began over the weekend in the race between outgoing Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott and Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, with another recount under way for the Florida gubernatorial race between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum.

Republicans are eager to cement victories in a key battleground state after maintaining their control of the U.S. Senate in last week’s congressional midterm elections, while Democrats are eyeing another possible state governorship win. Each party accused the other of trying to subvert democracy.

Scott on Sunday asked a Broward County judge to issue an emergency injunction calling for law enforcement to seize all voting machines, tallying devices and ballots when they are not being used until the end of the recount and any related litigation.

@ REUTERS

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Thumbs Up Monday

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The weekend away in Paris should not have been hard. For most politicians, events like the armistice commemoration represent an opportunity to project themselves as greater than the sum of their soundbites, above the political fray, sombre yet at their ease among world leaders as they look out across the century gone by. There are lofty prepared remarks and no questions.

For Donald Trump, that was a bridge too far. The trip to France got off to a bad start and kept getting worse. He landed with a tweet, directed against his host, Emmanuel Macron, and based on a mangling in the US press of something the French president had said, to make it sound like he wanted a European army to fend off the US, as well as China and Russia.

It was not what Macron said, but Trump fulminated anyway. “Very insulting,” he declared.

In a way, the US president had come to France by mistake. He had announced the trip in August after he declared that Washington’s municipal leaders wanted to over-charge for the military parade he had demanded.

He would go to the big parade in Paris, where he had been inspired by the display of military pageantry on 14 July festivities last year. But the French do parades for Bastille Day, not Armistice Day. This time there were no tanks and no marching bands.

After a few hours in a Paris hotel, the White House called off Trump’s attendance at the first memorial event of the weekend, at Belleau, where 2,000 US marines were killed. The ostensible reason for the sudden cancellation: rain.

@ THE GUARDIAN

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Windy Sunday

THE SOLAR WIND HAS ARRIVED: As predicted, Earth is entering a stream of solar wind flowing from a hole in the sun’s atmosphere. First contact on Nov. 10th sparked faint but colorful polar auroras in the southern hemisphere, shown here in a photo taken by Ian Griffin on New Zealand’s Otago Peninsula:

“As I set up my cameras to record some star trails over Hoopers Inlet tonight (the southern cross reaches its lowest point just after sunset here in NZ at this time of year) I noticed a glow in the South,” reports Griffin. “Over the next hour or so a beautiful display of the aurora australis daubed the sky in pastel colours. You can see this is an aurora australis by the reflection of the southern cross and pointers in the water!”

More Southern and Northern Lights are in the offing as the solar wind envelops Earth’s magnetic field. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras throughout the weekend. Free: Aurora Alerts.

@ SPACEWEATHER

 

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Catastrophic Saturday

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Hell on Earth

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FRIDAy fUNNEEZ

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No Mark Fiore today 😦

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Slimy Thursday

Shale Fracking in Texas

Patricia Nelson was eager for a fresh start when she moved her family from Louisiana back home to Weld County, Colorado, in 2016. Soon after, Nelson’s friend encouraged her to come out to a meeting where Lisa McKenzie, an environmental chemist and epidemiologist at the Colorado School of Public Health, was presenting her research on the health impacts of oil and natural gas drilling.

Weld County has one of the highest concentrations of oil and gas wells in the country — 23,000 within county limits. Its air quality carries an “F” rating from the American Lung Association, with infant mortality rates twice as high as those in surrounding counties. With around 50,000 active wells overall, Colorado just surpassed California to become America’s third-largest oil and gas producer after Texas and North Dakota.

“It was a crash course in fracking,” Nelson told me by phone. Colorado law, she learned, states that drilling operations have to be 1,000 feet away from school buildings, but that ordinance — known as a setback — doesn’t include surrounding school properties, like playgrounds or soccer fields. There, as McKenzie would explain, kids playing and running around breathe harder and heavier, increasing the amount of poisoned air that enters their lungs and bloodstream.

@ THE INTERCEPT

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