Hayabusa2 touches down on asteroid, shoots it

Impactor blasts bits of asteroid into a sample collection cone.

JOHN TIMMER – 2/22/2019, 2:05 PM

Plot of the timing of Hayabusa2's approach.
Enlarge / The timeline of the approach and sampling process.JAXA

Today, in an extended Twitter thread and ensuing press conference, JAXA’s Hayabusa2 team announced that everything had gone well in gathering an asteroid sample for eventual return to Earth. While we don’t yet know about the material it obtained, the Japanese spacecraft has successfully executed all the commands associated with the sample recovery.

Hayabusa2 has been in space since 2014, and it slowly made its way to an orbit 20km above the surface of the asteroid Ryugu. In late 2018, the spacecraft made a close approach to the asteroidand released two small, solar-powered robots that have been hopping on the surface since. This week has seen the first of what are intended to be several sample-gathering attempts.

The procedure for this is pretty straightforward: Hayabusa2 snuggles up to the asteroid and shoots it. The probe has a sample-gathering “horn” that it can place up against the asteroid’s surface. Once it’s in place, Hayabusa2 can fire a bullet into the asteroid’s surface, blasting material loose that will be gathered by the horn and stored for return to Earth. JAXA, the Japanese space agency, calls its gun a “projector” but admits that the thing it fires is a bullet. JAXA has a webpage that describes some on-Earth testing of the whole system.

If you're going to shoot an asteroid, you're going to need a big bullet.
Enlarge / If you’re going to shoot an asteroid, you’re going to need a big bullet.JAXA

This obviously requires Hayabusa2 to leave its orbit at 20km and approach the asteroid. Approach is done rather cautiously, with an initial speed of 145 meters/hour, slowing to 36m/hr during the final steps, which means covering 20km took a significant chunk of time. The team monitoring Hayabusa2, however, has confirmed that all the commands planned during the approach were executed appropriately, which indicates that Hayabusa2 now carries the first of several asteroid samples.

The initial samples will be the surface material, which has been exposed to radiation and high energy particles possibly since the formation of the Solar System. But Hayabusa2 also carries a heavier bullet that’s intended to blast off the surface material to expose material that’s remained protected for billions of years. Ryugu is thought to be rich in water and organic matter, and it could provide a time capsule for the study of these starting materials prior to their incorporation into planets and moons.

[Lifted from: https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/02/hayabusa2-touches-down-on-asteroid-shoots-it/]

Declassification Error Reveals Gina Haspel Ran CIA Gitmo Torture Site After 9/11

A seeming error in a heavily redacted transcript from a Guantanamo Bay Naval Base court has revealed that CIA Director Gina Haspel was the chief of base there in the early 2000s, during the heart of the CIA’s torture program. The revelation fills in a part of Haspel’s career the director was reluctant to speak about during her 2018 confirmation.

The document in question is a massive, partially redacted transcript of a secret hearing held at Guantanamo on November 16, 2018, via the Office of Military Commissions, a site concerning war courts. On page 22,088, lawyer Rita Radostitz invokes Haspel’s name, arguing that she is needed to testify in a case regarding Radostitz’s client, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, because the classification rules have changed so much under Haspel’s purview that her testimony as chief of base at the CIA’s Guantanamo black site, where Mohammed was tortured in the early 2000s, is necessary.

This April 13, 2016 file photo shows the seal of the Central Intelligence Agency at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

© AP PHOTO / CAROLYN KASTERDeclassified Cables Detail Torture CIA Director Haspel Supervised at Black Site

In the court transcript, Radostitz notes that prosecutors claim they are “not trying to cover up the torture… But the one thing that they’re not willing to talk about is the names of the people involved in the torture.” A large redacted section follows, and then Radostitz says, “it makes it impossible for people at Guantanamo, who may have seen her when she was here as chief of base, to identify her and talk about it.”

The title “chief of base” is one used by the CIA to refer to officers in charge of secret foreign outposts, including the spy agency’s network of secret overseas prisons, called “black sites.” The US Senate Intelligence Committee’s 2014 torture report notes two such sites in Guantanamo, code named “Maroon” and “Indigo.” These were separate from the Pentagon’s “Camp Delta,” the better known prison inside the naval base.

Haspel’s record of supervising and approving of torture is well known. Her role as chief of base of a CIA black site in Thailand in 2002 played a major role in the debate about her confirmation as CIA director in May, Sputnik reported. During her time at the Thailand site, Haspel oversaw the torture of detainees, which helped Haspel perfect the formula for future “enhanced interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding. Haspel herself oversaw the destruction of recordings of that torture, Sputnik reported.

The CIA’s “Torture Report” has received much heated criticism, both from human rights activists and from apologists more concerned with national security.

CC BY 2.0 / JUSTIN NORMANACLU Sues CIA to Find Body of Man Agency Tortured to Death

Mohammed, who was captured in Pakistan in 2003 by Pakistani intelligence and delivered to the CIA, was subjected to torture at various CIA sites in Pakistan, Poland and Guantanamo, including 183 episodes of waterboarding, according to US Department of Defense documents. He confessed during those so-called “enhanced interrogations” to being the principal architect of the September 11, 2001, attacks, among numerous other acts.

Because of these forced confessions, Mohammed’s lawyers, including Radostitz, have sought to have his case thrown out or removed from consideration for the death penalty, as the transcript above demonstrates.

Former CIA officer and torture whistleblower John Kiriakou noted that the court document doesn’t contradict anything Haspel has claimed so far, mostly because she’s kept mum about most of her time with the agency.

“What we don’t know is whether or not she confirmed to the Senate Intelligence Committee in her closed, classified session that she had been the chief of base there. The CIA has been very, very careful, either to mask or just deny most of her career. If you go into the CIA website, and you look at her bio, her bio simply says that she’s been at the CIA for 32 years, most of that was overseas, she likes movies and ice hockey, and that’s it.”

Kiriakou told Sputnik it appears that Haspel was trying to cover up her long history with the torture program by changing the agency’s rules regarding classification, making it basically impossible, as Radostitz laments in the document, for lawyers defending detained clients to do their jobs effectively.

​”See, we didn’t know that the classification guidelines had changed,” Kiriakou told Sputnik. “We further didn’t know that it was Gina Haspel who changed them. And so it’s literally impossible for a Guantanamo defense attorney to even ask for the name of a torturer for the purpose of the deposition; you just have to stumble on the information, and Gina Haspel made that even harder to do.”

Kiriakou said he believed the revelation that Haspel at been chief of base at Guantanamo was a mistake. He described the surprise shown by the CIA publications review board when he submitted an op-ed for RSN containing the information.

On the eve of Haspel’s nomination vote, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed asked a military judge at Guantanamo for permission to share six paragraphs of information about Haspel with the Senate Intelligence Committee, the New York Times reported. That information was never passed on.

Acting CIA Director Gina Haspel prepares to testify at her Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 9, 2018

© REUTERS / KEVIN LAMARQUECIA Agents Who Torture Get Promoted; Agents Who Object Get Jailed – Activist

On May 4, during Haspel’s confirmation process, Democratic Senators Kamala Harris, Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden and Martin Heinrich wrote a letter to Daniel Coats, US director of national intelligence, seeking information about Haspel’s past in preparation for her hearing, writing that “the American people deserve transparency regarding the background of a nominee who will be asked to represent them, and their values, around the world. Without making this information available to the American people, Ms. Haspel’s nomination cannot be fully and properly considered by the Senate.”

However, while they never got that information, later that month the Senate nonetheless voted to confirm her, and Haspel was sworn in as CIA Director on May 21.

This, Kiriakou said, points to a real weakness in the congressional oversight process.

“[Her background] should’ve been public when Gina Haspel was first nominated,” he said. “I’m disappointed especially in the Democrats, because the Democrats, when it came time for a vote, for the most part just fell into line and voted for Gina Haspel. They should’ve been pursuing this until the bitter end. They should not have even voted on Haspel’s nomination until she came clean about her background. She never did; she told them she wasn’t going to cooperate any more, and they still made her CIA director.”

US military guards walk within Camp Delta military-run prison, at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base, Cuba.

© AP PHOTO / BRENNAN LINSLEYGuantanamo Bay Court Orders US General Jailed For Supporting Detainee’s Legal Rights

“President [Donald] Trump said, when he was president-elect, that he would bring back waterboarding and a hell of a lot worse. Those were his words. That is an impeachable act. Waterboarding, and any other form of torture, is illegal in the United States, and it always has been. The Bush administration stood on its head to pretend that it was not illegal, but it is, and Congress reaffirmed that with the McCain-Feinstein amendment in 2015,” Kiriakou said.

“Still, we have an administration where many of its senior-most officials are supporters of the torture program. And we have a CIA whose leadership is also supportive of a torture program and indeed was instrumental in implementing that torture program. It’s a very dangerous thing, it’s a dangerous time, and the only thing that’s standing between us and a return to torture is the Army Field Manual. Only because the law says that CIA interrogators may only use the techniques that are outlined in the Army Field Manual. To return to the torture program, because the Army Field Manual is an executive branch document, all it would take would be for the president to change that document. So this is a very dangerous thing.”

A hooded activist attached to a force-feeding apparatus meant to remind viewers of the actual devices used in the Guantanamo detention center.

© FLICKR/ JUSTIN NORMANTrump’s Guantanamo Order Likely Avoids US ‘Imperial Retreat’ – Analysts

However, torture was never in the manual, leading to what Kiriakou called “novel” arguments to excuse practices like waterboarding.

“John Yoo and Jay Bybee, two senior officials in the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel, wrote a very controversial series of memos, the Yoo-Bybee memos, in which they said that waterboarding and the CIA’s other techniques were not torture, because they didn’t leave any lasting effect. But they’re clearly banned in earlier law. We executed Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American POWs. And the law never changed. So that was an executable offense in 1946, and then in 2002, you’re perfectly free to go do it. So, the Bush administration relied on these novel interpretations of the law to institute this torture program. Most everybody by now acknowledges that that was wrong. Gina Haspel does not acknowledge that.”

[Stolen from: https://sputniknews.com/us/201901101071347753-Declassification-Error-Reveals-Haspel-Ran-Gitmo-Torture-Site/]

Folkways

Those coming down the mountain or down the stairs have the right of way.

Those exiting a building or space have right of way over those who are entering.

A quick, double-flash of the high beams by the driver behind you is not a signal of aggression. It indicates that they would like to pass you. Let them pass you. You do not know why they are in a rush, and so do not rush to judgment.

One long high beam flash in conjunction with a lot of open road in your lane ahead of you indicates to the trucker in the next lane that they may enter the lane ahead of you.

Don’t wait until you are braking to use your turn signal.

When you put the shopping cart back, if you notice that disorder has descended upon the cart return chutes, do your best to sort it out, if it isn’t too confuddled.

Just pick it up and put it in the trashcan.

We are hybrids. Get over it.

Every human population outside of sub-Saharan Africa is assumed to have a blend of Neanderthal and perhaps Denisovan ancestry. It is why we are the way we are. Think hard about it.

The first place to look is the fossil record. The remains of Cro Magnon, now known as Early Modern European, seem to tell a story about a sudden arrival in the Levant, followed by an immediate trek Westward and Northward into and above the Iberian Peninsula, and with this movement, his tool set gradually changed from Neanderthal to something new. Apparently, the new hybrids felt more comfortable living among their Neanderthal ancestors than their Homo Sapiens Sapiens ones.

Oh, but Nature is cruel in so many ways. The new, hybrid species, even when offspring were not sterile (which was probably more often the case than not, early on), would encounter new difficulties in procreation, since the inborn sexual cues and rituals of two different species of humans were all jumbled up. Even two offspring of the same mixed breeding pair could be jumbled up in different ways from one another. This is a well-known malady for hybrid animal species, and one of the reasons that scientists resisted accepting the hybridization hypothesis for so long.

So, this moment in our history is actually easy to spot, looking back. It’s in the Upper Paleolithic/Lower Neolithic, and it often goes by the moniker of The Human Revolution, since it designates a sudden explosion in human cultural production, likely linked to some change in cognitive function and some important development in language, even according to conservative hypotheses. And what was it, really? It was the fact that everything that we could take for granted, due to shared biology, was yanked away from us. We had to invent shared topologies of abstraction and make explicit what was hitherto locked away inside of us.

This is what the science tells us. Isn’t it funny that messages attributed to Jesus tens of thousands of years later contain a mandate for social inclusion and tolerance, as well as quotes such as

“If you bring forth what is inside of you, what is inside of you will save you. If you don’t bring forth what is inside of you, what is inside of you will kill you.”

Just being together is enough

You don’t always need to speak. Sometimes you need to not speak at all, and instead, listen very closely to the world around you, and beyond it, to the noisy machinery of your own mind, as well. You are not your mind and do not have to identify with its contents or defend its contents, either, for that matter. There is nothing to protect. There is nothing to defend. All of it just happens, and it is not you. You are what remains when the mind and the emotions are quieted.

Bootstrap 5 will replace jQuery entirely

The Bootstrap team is nearing its mission to completely remove jQuery from its framework in favor of JavaScript. Bootstrap is an open-source framework for responsive mobile solutions on the web.

The team recently released version 4.3 of the framework with its plans to remove jQuery. “The cat is out of the bag—we’re dropping our largest client-side dependency for regular JavaScript,” the team wrote in a blog post. “We’ve been working on this for a long time and have a pull request in progress and near completion.”

According to the pull request, this has been in the works since 2017. Once Bootstrap is released without jQuery, developers will still be able to use the framework plugin if jQuery is detected, the team explained.

The move to remove jQuery has spurred a lot of controversy in the development community.

“This entire effort seems of dubious benefit to me,” one developer commented. “Whereas before it was ‘jQuery for EVERYTHING,’ now it seems to be the reverse: ‘remove jQuery from EVERYTHING,’ which is equally silly. jQuery does a lot of useful stuff, and all things considered remains a pretty neat project. It shouldn’t be used for everything, but spending loads of time in removing it just because it’s no longer the [cool framework] of the week just seems like a waste of effort.”

While others feel like jQuery was good for a lot of useful stuff, now it is unmaintained and has little interest or support.

“It is ‘slow’ compared to other frameworks that now use the Shadow Dom, and can be replaced with features that are native to JS — what’s there not to like about that?” another developer commented. “One less dependency, network request and more efficient code is always worth the effort.”

Other upcoming projects include improving the Bootstrap branches for development and moving to Hugo.

On What Grounds Can the FBI Investigate the President as a Counterintelligence Threat?

[This article stolen from here: https://www.lawfareblog.com/what-grounds-can-fbi-investigate-president-counterintelligence-threat]

The New York Times reported on Jan. 11 that the FBI “began investigating whether President Trump had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests” soon after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May 2017. In other words, the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation on the president.

The Times reports that my friend and former colleague, former FBI General Counsel James Baker, said during testimony to House investigators in October 2018 that “Not only would [firing Comey] be an issue of obstructing an investigation, but the obstruction itself would hurt our ability to figure out what the Russians had done, and that is what would be the threat to national security.” The Times paraphrases Baker’s testimony as follows: “If the president had fired Mr. Comey to stop the Russia investigation, the action would have been a national security issue because it naturally would have hurt the bureau’s effort to learn how Moscow interfered in the 2016 election and whether any Americans were involved.”

If the story is accurate, then what the FBI did was unprecedented and possibly—I emphasize possibly, since many relevant facts are not included in the Times reporting—an overstep, or at least imprudent. The reason the FBI step might have been imprudent is that it was premised on an inversion of the normal assumptions of Article II of the Constitution.

The FBI defines its counterintelligence responsibilities as follows: “As the country’s lead counterintelligence agency, the FBI is responsible for detecting and lawfully countering actions of foreign intelligence services and organizations that employ human and technical means to gather information about the U.S. that adversely affects our national interests’” (emphasis added). The FBI sees its counterintelligence missionas “identifying and neutralizing ongoing national security threats” (emphasis added). And indeed, this seems to be the FBI’s theory, according to the Times: The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation of the president because, after Trump fired Comey, the FBI feared that Trump was a threat to the national security interests of the United States.

There is an unobjectionable sense in which the president can obviously be caught up in a counterintelligence investigation. We have known that Trump has been at least peripherally connected to one ever since Comey’s March 20, 2017 testimony, and especially since Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that he was appointing Robert Mueller to conduct a counterintelligence investigation concerning:

(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and (ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and (iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. § 600.4(a).

As David Kris notes, we have long understood that this counterintelligence investigation would sweep up Trump’s relationship with Russia, and might include the question whether Trump might be compromised by the Russians. But the Times suggests that the FBI—at least after Comey was fired—took this investigation in a different direction, at least as a formal matter, based on the premise that the president was a threat to the national security interests of the United States.

It is not unusual for a president to make controversial policy decisions that could, in some quarters, be viewed as causing harm to the national security interests of the United States. For example, many saw George W. Bush’s decisions in the war on terrorism, or Barack Obama’s rapprochement with Iran and Cuba, as harming U.S. national security. Many believe that most of Trump’s foreign policy constitutes a similar threat—his attacks on allies and international institutions, his lies and erratic behavior, and the like. But the FBI obviously would not open a counterintelligence investigation for these matters.

They would not do so because these actions—and indeed the very determination of the U.S. interest in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy—are presidential prerogatives. The Supreme Court has often affirmed, many times since United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., that it is the president himself, not the executive branch, who possesses “the very delicate, plenary and exclusive power … as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations—a power which does not require as a basis for its exercise an act of Congress.” Moreover, the president has plenary control within the executive branch of the intelligence power and classified information, which is defined, by the president, in terms of harm to national security. In short, the president is the person constitutionally charged with determining what constitutes the national security interest and national security threats for the executive branch, which is where the FBI is located.

Because the president determines the U.S. national security interest and threats against it, at least for the executive branch, there is an argument that it makes no sense for the FBI to open a counterintelligence case against the president premised on his being a threat to the national security. The president defines what a national security threat is, and thus any action by him cannot be such a threat, at least not for purposes of opening a counterintelligence investigation.

On this view of the presidency, the perverse and very controversial steps Trump has taken toward Russia as president—his disclosure of classified information to the Russian ambassador in the Oval Office; his firing of Comey because of the Russia investigation; his persistent refusal to acknowledge what his director of national intelligence described as Russia’s “ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy”; and more—are all part of his ultimate discretion to conduct foreign policy and U.S. intelligence operations. Those actions, therefore, cannot pose a threat to a national security as a justification for a counterintelligence investigation. That may sound like an extreme conclusion, but it might follow from Article II, and I think (as I explain below) that not accepting this conclusion leads to equally if not more problematic consequences.

But first: This analysis raises the hard question of what executive branch officials are supposed to do if they have evidentiary reasons to believe the president of the United States is a Manchurian candidate in the sense of being an actual agent of a foreign power seeking to undermine the U.S. government. That is what a lot of Americans think of Trump, and it appears to be what the FBI suspected. Let’s stipulate for purposes of argument that Putin has compromising information on Trump, and that the FBI has Trump on tape unambiguously pledging fealty to Putin and promising to serve as his agent in carrying out a number of concrete orders from the Russian president to damage U.S. intelligence operations (for example, by exposing U.S. spies and U.S. intelligence operations). In this situation (as Chuck Rosenberg asked me in a great episode of the Lawfare Podcast), could the FBI seek a FISA warrant premised on the claim that the president was an agent of a foreign power?

The answer based on the analysis above may be “no,” at least to this extent: the FBI cannot act in a way that is legally premised on second-guessing the president’s national security bona fides. On this view, the FBI can fully investigate Russia’s interference with the 2016 election, including matters involving the president, as it has been doing for a while now. But it cannot cross the line of taking investigative steps premised on the president’s threat to national security. The Constitution leaves crossing that line up to Congress and the American people.

I am not sure this analysis or this conclusion is right—as I note, the situation in unprecedented in many ways. But I am confident that there is an important Article II question lurking here, and I suspect this question is what underlies what the Times twice said was a controversy among former FBI and Justice Department officials about the appropriateness of the FBI’s step.

In this light, the question arises: What turned on the step the FBI took? Did the bureau need to take that step? Was the FBI empowered to do something more and different by opening up a counterintelligence investigation against the president? Did it do so for a practical reason called for by the investigation, in order to ensure that it better understood what happened in 2016? Or was it just a formal bureaucratic step on which nothing of substance turned? This was a question that I raised on the podcast. None of my colleagues could say that anything at all of substance turned on the designation. (It was later suggested to me that the FBI’s step might have enabled enhanced investigative steps against the president; the matter is unclear.) If it is true that nothing of substance turned on the designation, then in one sense the step was meaningless, and the FBI was able to proceed to investigate the president’s connections to Russia and the 2016 election as before. But in another sense the step, even if legally available, was imprudent, for at least two reasons.

First, presidents and their delegates all the time engage in controversial contacts with foreign leaders and with their intelligence agents that sharply change the direction of U.S. foreign policy concerning matters that some critics believe shows undue fealty towards a foreign power. Think of some critics’ view of Nixon’s opening with China or, again, of Obama’s with Iran and Cuba. Or imagine that Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is elected in 2020 and brings controversial foreign policy views to the presidency.

One danger in the what the FBI apparently did is that it implies that the unelected domestic intelligence bureaucracy holds itself as the ultimate arbiter—over and above the elected president who is the constitutional face of U.S. intelligence and national security authority—about what actions do and don’t serve the national security interests of the United States. It further suggests that the FBI claims the authority to take this step on the basis of the president’s exercise of another clear presidential prerogative—the firing of the FBI director in connection with the Russia investigation, which the Times says was the final predicate for the FBI’s action. And it took this step did without any formal guidance on the books for applying counterintelligence rules to the president, akin to the special counsel regulations. Beyond the organizational and legal questions raised by these steps, if the FBI can open up a secret counterintelligence investigation of the president based on its belief that his actions threaten national security, it would chill controversial presidential foreign policy actions that the Constitution says are solely the president’s decisions to make, for better and worse.

Second, as my Lawfare colleague Matt Tait noted, “[Y]ou’d much rather live in a country where elected branches are a check on the national security establishment than the other way around.” I do not doubt the integrity of the contemporary FBI; quite the contrary. But at one time, under J. Edgar Hoover, it secretly collected intelligence information on the president and other elected officials and used that secret information to influence the behavior of those officials. This is an ever-present danger with any intelligence bureaucracy in a democracy. A second adverse effect of the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of the president is that it gives credence to these types of concerns about the contemporary FBI—especially if the FBI opened a counterintelligence file on the president and did not notify him, as I suspect happened in the Trump case.

In light of these implications, the question is whether the FBI’s step outlined in the Times’s story achieved any affirmative investigative goal. If it did not—if the investigation of Trump could have proceeded as a component of the Russia investigation without the FBI purporting to determine that the president is a national security threat—then this step strikes me as deeply imprudent. To be sure, the Times story also suggested that the decision was made in the confused and uncertain days after the Comey firing, and that it is “unclear whether Mr. Mueller is still pursuing the counterintelligence matter,” whatever that means. (Recall that the events described in the Times story occurred before Mueller was appointed, at about the same time that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in conversations with Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, reportedly suggested “that he secretly record President Trump in the White House to expose the chaos consuming the administration, and he discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.”) I hope that there is less to this story than meets the eye: that the story highlights a minor procedural step in a time of perceived crisis that was quickly deemed unnecessary or inappropriate and was reversed or dropped, and that the Times is now making it into a bigger deal than it was and is.

The Times story raises other hard questions. For example, what would happen if Trump, once he learned about the counterintelligence investigation of him, ordered it to cease on the grounds that he deemed it contrary to the national security interests of the United States? Would the FBI cease its investigation, or would it deem the president’s order, like its interpretation of the Comey firing, as further evidence of the president’s threat to the national security interests of the United States? Perhaps the official ordered to end the investigation would at that point resign, or would continue with the investigation until fired by the president. But these questions highlight the fraught position the FBI adopted in opening a counterintelligence investigation of the president based on its leadership’s judgment that he is a threat to the national security.

There are also hard questions on the other side. What exactly is the FBI supposed to do if it stumbles onto unambiguous evidence that the president is compromised, and acting on behalf of a foreign power, and has pledged to that foreign power to blow U.S. assets? As I noted above, I don’t think there is a problem if the FBI, to the president’s knowledge, investigates the president’s actions as a collateral component of a broader counterintelligence investigation of a foreign operation. This has been happening for a while and I see no objection to the Mueller investigation as described in Rosenstein’s order. The dangerous point comes if the FBI opens an investigation of the president, unbeknownst to him, based on its perception of his threat to national security. The line between these two things might be fudgable and the FBI might be able to collect all, or almost all, the information it needs without crossing the line. But it might also be that in some circumstances the only thing the FBI can do is to report what it stumbled upon to Congress and the American people and let them decide what to do.

As David Kris said at the end of the podcast, and I paraphrase here, there is no elegant or satisfying solution to the problem of a president about whom plausible questions are raised concerning his ultimate loyalty to the United States. I also agree with David that the conundrum the FBI found itself in in the spring of 2017 was almost entirely attributable to the president’s norm-defying (to put it mildly) behavior. But there is more at stake than just this president. As I have noted many times, one of President Trump’s most nefarious skills is to act in norm-busting ways that cause people and institutions to respond to him in norm-busting ways. If indeed the FBI took the unprecedented step of opening a counterintelligence investigation directed at the president premised on his threat to national security, I hope the bureau had much stronger evidence for doing so than the Times story provided—and I hope that something of investigative substance actually turned on it. Otherwise, the step strikes me as deeply imprudent.

Pink Floyd’s Waters slams Venezuela border aid concert

Like I said, the guy is so desperate for attention, he’ll take any position, no matter how patently absurd. Like this millionaire musician, living the high life in a Capitalistic society, is really pining away for Socialism to have a new resurgence, and Maduro’s Venezuela is his horse. Total douchebag. He cannot have arrived at that conclusion honestly, unless he was honestly looking for the most absurd, and thus potentially news-worthy thing he could say to have one more picture taken.

Don’t take my word for it: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-concert/pink-floyds-waters-slams-venezuela-border-aid-concert-idUSKCN1Q8223

Why do people watch PewDiePie??

The name is everywhere, so I checked out the channel. There’s no there there. There’s nothing there to get behind or promote. I don’t get it. I don’t understand why people care whether a Swede is overtaken by an Indian channel on YouTube in sheer views or likes. Because it is so incomprehensible to me, I have to assume it is all based on the lateral tug of identity in viewers who have never thought about the topic with any depth or rigor. It would be fun to skim through a hypothetical stack of self-reports written by fans trying to articulate their attraction to the channel, though. People are funny – especially when they don’t know why they are doing what they are doing. The mind abhors a vacuum, and they would surely produce words and rationales which, to them, might seem plausible, but my smug skepticism is pretty thick.