Chelsea Manning free at last

Chelsea Manning was released from a Kansas prison early this morning after serving seven years for her role in whistleblowing about the US government’s wrongful actions in Iraq and elsewhere. She had originally been sentenced to 35-years in prison but president Obama, perhaps seeking some forgiveness for the atrocious way that he and his administration vindictively went after her, commuted her sentence in one of his last acts before leaving office. Her punishment was the largest ever given to a whistleblower
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What has Trump done now?

I use a newsreader that collects feeds from various news sites that I follow so that I see only the ones that are new since I last checked. I check the newsreader periodically to see what has happened, starting in the morning. There used to be a fairly standard number of new posts, that is until Donald Trump became president. Now there are periodic spikes in the number of posts so that whenever I check first thing in the morning and see that there are many more updates than usual, my first thought is “Oh, hell, what has Trump said/done now?”
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How blog ‘collaboration’ offers may work

Yesterday I wrote about the many requests I get from people offering to provide content for the blog and commenters shared my puzzlement as to what exactly the business model is. How can they make enough money on ads that they can afford to pay me? This morning, I got another offer that was more explicit about what they were offering and thus sheds some light on what is going on because it explicitly describes the business model. Here is the message. (I have replaced the person’s name with X and their website with Y.org.) It begins with the now-common faux-friendly ‘Hey’.
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Film review: Hidden Figures (2016)

I tend not to watch films that deal with major historical atrocities such as slavery, the genocide of Native Americans, the Holocaust, the Civil Rights struggle, and the like because my anger at the unbelievable and pointless cruelty on display tends to obscure my appreciation of the film as a whole. This film tells the story of the important but largely unknown role that women, and black women in particular, played in the early days of the NASA space program and sure enough, I got furious, but the film was able to overcome my resistance.
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Turning down requests for ‘collaborations’

In the past few months I have been getting repeated requests for collaborations on this blog. People send me emails saying that they like what I write (always gratifying to hear!) and that they have interesting content that they could contribute and are willing to pay me for the privilege of doing so. These requests often sound like they are coming from genuine people (except for one feature that I will discuss later) and at the beginning I would write back politely declining the offers. I realized that they may not be real when I would get repeat messages from the same people reminding me of their earlier message and requesting a response. Ever since then, I have treated them as spam and simply deleted the emails without replying
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Part II of the documentary on Trump’s dealings with unsavory figures

Trump’s Achilles heel has always been his business dealings. He has demonstrated that he is extremely greedy, selfish, and has no ethical standards. Such a combination makes it extremely likely that he has indulged in all manner of unsavory business dealings with other people like him and also with outright crime figures. Although these people are skilled at covering up the money trail, financial transactions involving large sums going all over the globe are difficult to completely hide and skilled journalists should be able to track down the paper trail and connect the dots.
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Dutch documentary on Trump’s shady business dealings

There has been a great deal of speculation that Donald Trump is Russian president Vladimir Putin’s puppet. But the evidence for a direct connection has been weak. It has always seemed to me to be more likely that Trump has financial dealings with shady Russian oligarchs and mobsters and organized crime figures, and that his deference to Putin is indirect, that Putin has connections to those same shady interests and thus has knowledge that he can reveal about Trump’s dealing that can be very damaging.
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Trump may be shrewder than we think

There is a well-established pattern in American journalism. There is first a bandwagon effect where almost everyone piles on to a single narrative structure about some event. At that point, someone decides to stand out from the crowd by taking a contrarian view and argue that the conventional wisdom is wrong. So at various points in the past we had stories that suggested that Dick Cheney was not the evil mastermind of the Bush administration, that Sarah Palin was not as dumb as rocks, and so on. While these contrarian authors risk ridicule, they also get short-term notoriety and attention, which is what seems to matter more than actual credibility. I decided to be that contrarian today. This is not just for the sheer hell of it but because I heard a couple of interviews yesterday that made me realize that maybe many of the analysts of the Trump administration, and that includes me, may have been played for chumps by him.
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Is Trump losing his marbles?

Donald Trump’s performance in the The Economist magazine interview was widely ridiculed because his responses to questions were “unimaginative and incoherent” and “riddled with falsehoods and confusion”. Who would have thought the day would come when George W. Bush with his malapropisms and Sarah Palin with her word salads would be seen as exemplars of lucidity by comparison? The magazine published its own scathing review of the interview.
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