Molester-in-Chief Monday


As the aftershocks from Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct spread to other powerful men in Hollywood and media, a group of women for whom the allegations are “gross but familiar” are wondering if the fallout will reach an even more powerful man – the one in the White House.

During the course of his presidential campaign, more than 10 women came forward with accusations that Donald Trump had touched or kissed them without consent – something he bragged about on the infamous 2005 Access Hollywood tape when he said stars like him could “grab them by the pussy”.

A number of other women accused Trump of unwanted sexual advances. And like so many of the Weinstein stories to come out this month, their claims have remarkable consistency.

Three of them spoke with the Guardian after the allegations against Weinstein – who denies the claims against him – came to light, to revisit their accusations against Trump.

Although they are glad women have spoken up against the Hollywood producer and feel the culture may finally change, they are worried the relative silence of men will continue to allow abusers to rise to power.

They are Cathy Heller, who told the Guardian last year that in the late 1990s Trump forcibly kissed her on the lips the first time they had ever met; Kari Wells, a former model and Bravo Actress, who said Trump aggressively propositioned her in 1992 while he was dating her friend; and Jessica Leeds, who said Trump assaulted her on a plane in the early 1980s when he allegedly groped her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.

@ TG

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Sunny Sunday

M-CLASS SOLAR FLARE: A new sunspot rotating into view over the sun’s southeastern limb erupted during the late hours of Oct. 20th. The resulting M1-class solar flare broke a string of deep quiet that has lasted since mid-September. An extreme UV telescope onboard NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the blast:

 The movie shows a volume of gas in the sun’s atmosphere being swept aside by the explosion.  That gas formed the core of a bright coronal mass ejection (CME)–a cloud that billowed away from the sun at approximately 340 km/s. Because the blast site was so far off the Sun-Earth line, the CME will not hit Earth.


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Saturday Stewings


It’s not news to most people that the US in no longer a true Democracy. Gilens and Page proved it in 2014, using hard data. More recently, the Economist’s Democracy Index, dropped the US down to a “flawed democracy,” in 2016, and when the firmly neoliberal Economist thinks you have issues with freedom – you’ve got issues.

It’s one thing to lose our freedoms; it’s quite another to lose them to a collection of anti-science whack jobs straight out of the middle ages.

And of course, with Herr Trump doing his best to neutralize the already eviscerated press, scare the hell out of us, keep us distracted from real issues, and govern by tweets, things have only gotten worse.

What’s not as well understood is precisely how a right wing de facto coup caused the US to move from a democracy to an oligarchy, and how the inmates took over the revolt.

Trump, of course, has added a whole new dimension to the coup. No longer are we simply living in an oligarchy, we’ve become a nation suffering from full on psychosis, and Trump is the logical endpoint of the coup’s reliance on fear, distraction, hate, anger and xenophobia. What makes it possible for an abomination like Trump to gain power is that the institutions we used to rely upon to confront the oligarchy have been taken over by it in the last four decades. Two in particular have contributed to the tragedy that is Trump.

John Atcheson @ SMIRKING CHIMP

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1aJeff Danziger cartoon1c1d1e1f1gJeff Danziger cartoon

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Bugmageddon Thursday


Deceased June Beetle

The abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years, according to a new study that has shocked scientists.

Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon”, with profound impacts on human society.

The new data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany but has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture, the researchers said.

The cause of the huge decline is as yet unclear, although the destruction of wild areas and widespread use of pesticides are the most likely factors and climate change may play a role. The scientists were able to rule out weather and changes to landscape in the reserves as causes, but data on pesticide levels has not been collected.

“The fact that the number of flying insects is decreasing at such a high rate in such a large area is an alarming discovery,” said Hans de Kroon, at Radboud University in the Netherlands and who led the new research.

@ TG

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#2 Wednesday

1aPence’s odds of becoming President are long but not prohibitive. Of his forty-seven predecessors, nine eventually assumed the Presidency, because of a death or a resignation. After Lyndon Johnson decided to join the ticket with John F. Kennedy, he calculated his odds of ascension to be approximately one in four, and is said to have told Clare Boothe Luce, “I’m a gambling man, darling, and this is the only chance I’ve got.”
If the job is a gamble for Pence, he himself is something of a gamble for the country. During the tumultuous 2016 Presidential campaign, relatively little attention was paid to how Pence was chosen, or to his political record. And, with all the infighting in the new Administration, few have focussed on Pence’s power within the White House. Newt Gingrich told me recently that the three people with the most policy influence in the Administration are Trump, Chief of Staff John Kelly, and Pence. Gingrich went on, “Others have some influence, such as Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn. But look at the schedule. Pence has lunches with the President. He’s in the national-security briefings.” Moreover, and crucially, Pence is the only official in the White House who can’t be fired.


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Tasty Tuesday


Just like Mom used to make, I can taste it from here!

Consider the Sticky Bun, the most dessert-y of all breakfast pastries, a glorious bit of sweet and chewy heaven with which to start your day. But it’s tricky to get them right! During the course of my intensive investigation over the past month I consumed countless not-worth-it calories, and a couple of big players in the NYC bakery game got caught selling day-old buns, which is a bad strategy and particularly fatal when it comes to these brioche-based beauties. That said, there are plenty of excellent sticky buns to be had around town, and these are the very best.


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