Karl-Ludwig Poggemann / Flickr Donald Trump took the oath of...
Karl-Ludwig Poggemann / Flickr

On to the good news!

Trump

Cohen releases tape:

Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, released the recording to CNN, which aired it Tuesday night. The audio recording, which was made by Cohen and is difficult to hear at times, comes after The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported on the existence of the recording last week.

Made two months before the presidential election, the tape appears to show Cohen, who was Trump’s personal attorney at the time, discussing “how to set the whole thing up with funding.” At one point, Trump appears to ask “what financing?” and seems to ask “pay with cash?”

Cohen appears to then say “No, no, no, no, no, no, I got …” before Trump is heard saying, or asking, “check,” and then the recording abruptly ends. Although the exact wording on the tape is unclear at times, it does make it clear that Trump was aware of the model’s allegation of the affair and the plans to pay to ensure her silence.

Pompeo to be questioned:

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s planned testimony on Capitol Hill Wednesday will test his ability to explain President Trump’s apparent affinity toward Russia — and the will of Republicans who control Congress to get to the bottom of it.

Trump proposes free trade with Europe:

President Donald Trump says he’ll propose to European officials on Wednesday that both sides drop all tariffs, barriers and subsidies.

Trump has floated the idea in the past, but he tweeted Tuesday night that he doubts the Europeans will go for the idea.

GOP

Grifters gotta grift:

Political donations to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) were improperly used to cover $5,518 in private jet travel, according to a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission by a campaign watchdog group.
The Fresno Bee reports that public filings show leadership political action committee New PAC paid $11,036 to Paramount Business Jets on March 7. Nunes sponsors the PAC, which was refunded $5,518 on May 18 due to overpayment, it added.

Except when someone stops them:

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) has introduced a bill that would make it a criminal offense for President Trump and his family to “enrich themselves by using his presidency.”
The new bill, titled Prevent Corrupting Foreign Influence Act , would “significantly improve upon the existing ban on America’s highest elected officials receiving financial benefits from foreign powers,” according to a statement on Monday.

House GOP leaders are reneging on a vow to hold an immigration vote before the August recess, a move that puts House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in a particularly awkward spot as he seeks to become the next speaker.
In June, McCarthy (R-Calif.) personally promised several rank-and-file members a vote on a new guest-worker program for farmers, an offer backed by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The assurance was critical at the time: It persuaded Reps. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) and Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) not to sign on to an effort — which Republican leaders were desperately trying to stop — to force a vote on legislation creating a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers, the immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. The so-called discharge petition ultimately fell two signatures short.
But now, Republican leaders have no plans to take up the guest-worker program before the summer break, according to four sources in leadership. Ryan does not want to hold a vote that’s certain to fail, they said. But that reasoning is of no consolation to Ross and other proponents of the guest-worker bill, who said McCarthy’s promise to hold a vote was unconditional.
“That was not the deal; the deal was that we’re taking it up regardless,” Ross said, arguing that the lack of 218 votes shouldn’t preclude the promised vote. “There are those of us [who] need to go back [home] and show that we’re doing all we can to do what we said we would do. And if it fails, it fails.”

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) on Tuesday ripped President Trump for the claims he made about trade, saying that the president’s “tariffs are taxes” and that other countries’ economic policies does not justify America’s “incompetence.”

“Umm… no. Tariffs are taxes. American consumers are the ones who get hit with U.S.-imposed tariffs,” Amash, who has often criticized the president on economic issues, wrote on Twitter, quoting a previous tweet from the president claiming that, “Tariffs are the greatest!”

“The fact that other countries are bad at economics—and harm their own people with tariffs and other protectionist schemes—does not justify our own economic incompetence,” Amash added.

Folks, I can’t summarize this article fairly: GOP doesn’t like Trump tariff relief proposal.

House considers rules change:

Under the plan, the ability of one representative to essentially force a vote of no confidence in the speaker would be eliminated. That threat from members of the House Freedom Caucus led to the resignation of Speaker John A. Boehner in 2015 and is seen as a way that just a few members can handcuff the speaker.

Instead, the so-called motion to vacate the chair would be replaced by a process in which one-third of the House would have to publicly sign a petition to force such a vote.

The rules proposal was drafted over months of negotiation among the 48 members of the Problem Solvers Caucus, which is equally split between Republicans and Democrats. It would institute new standards for the automatic consideration of legislation with strong bipartisan support. The authors believe the plan, which has the backing of at least 75 percent of the group’s membership, would foster more bipartisanship and incite debate on major issues that are being sidelined by political considerations.

And they just can’t help embarrassing themselves:

Rep. Ron DeSantis, a Republican from Florida, referred to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — the 28-year-old Democrat who defeated Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a primary last month — as “this girl Ocasio-Cortez or whatever she is.”

If you thought that was bad:

Georgia state lawmaker Jason Spencer resigned Tuesday night after he was lured into exposing both his racism and his buttocks on Sacha Baron Cohen’s new Showtime series, “Who Is America.”

Spicer still offering alternative facts:

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer‘s new book, “The Briefing,” is reportedly riddled with inaccuracies, including falsely identifying a former chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) as the author of a controversial dossier alleging ties between President Trump and Russia.

ABC News White House corresponded Jonathan Karl wrote in a review for The Wall Street Journal that Spicer’s book is “much like his tenure as press secretary: short, littered with inaccuracies and offering up one consistent theme: Mr. Trump can do no wrong.”

“Mr. Spicer has not been well served by the book’s fact checkers and copy editors,” Karl wrote. “He refers to the author of the infamous Trump dossier as ‘Michael Steele,’ who is in truth the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, not the British ex-spy Christopher Steele.”

On the other hand:

A bipartisan pair of senators on Tuesday asked the Treasury Department to impose financial sanctions on the 12 Russian intelligence officers indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller last week for allegedly hacking the emails of top Democratic Party officials.

In a Tuesday letter, Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to target the alleged cyber-criminals under sanctions enacted by President Trump through executive orders and legislation he signed.

Bannon behind Census question:

In May 2017, the emails show, President Trump’s chief strategist at the time, Steve Bannon, requested that Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross “talk to someone about the census.” A month later, Mr. Ross began demanding that the question be added, and a top aide pledged to press Justice Department officials to say they needed better citizenship data for law enforcement.

The emails, which were disclosed late Monday, cast further doubt on the administration’s initial explanation that the citizenship question was added at the request of the Justice Department, which officials said needed the data to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday issued state pardons to seven immigrants to help them avoid deportation.
The pardons will make immigration-related relief possible, if not automatic, for the seven individuals, Cuomo’s office said in a press release. Cuomo framed his action as a rebuke to the hard-line immigration policies championed by President Donald Trump.
“While President Trump engages in policies that rip children out of the arms of their mothers and tries to ramp up the deportation of New Yorkers to advance his political agenda of hate and division, we will protect our immigrant communities,” Cuomo said in a statement. “With the Statue of Liberty in our harbor, New York will always stand against the hate coming out of Washington and instead serve as a beacon of hope and opportunity for all.”
Cuomo issued similar pardons to 18 individuals facing deportation in December.

Immigrants win in court:

A federal judge on Monday denied the Trump administration’s bid to throw out a lawsuit that alleges its decision to end special protections shielding Haitian, Salvadoran and Honduran immigrants from deportation was racially motivated.

U.S. District Judge Denise Casper’s ruling means the case that seeks to block the administration from terminating temporary protected status for thousands of immigrants from those three countries can move forward. She also rejected the administration’s request to remove Republican President Donald Trump as a defendant in the case.

“This represents an extremely favorable outcome for the Honduran, Haitian and Salvadoran immigrants who have felt completely blindsided by the federal government’s refusal to maintain this humanitarian protection program and who are firmly convinced that racism and discrimination were at the heart of the decision to terminate TPS,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal. He’s executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, which filed the lawsuit in February.

Civil Rights

Chile investigates Catholic church:

Chile has investigated 158 members of the country’s Roman Catholic Church for committing or covering up sexual abuse against minors and adults, the national prosecutor’s office said Monday.
The investigations include reports of abuse by bishops, clerics and lay workers filed since 2000. Some of the cases date as far back as 1960.
In all, the number of victims is 266. That includes 178 children and teenagers, and 31 adults. The age of victims was not established in 57 other cases.

Cuba drafts new constitution:

The new constitution includes the recognition of private property, the creation of the role of prime minister, the right to same-sex marriage and the omission of the word communism in the language.

One country stops penalizing dissidents: (hint—it’s not the USA)

Parliament has legislated the amnesty proclamation with one objection and one vote abstaining.

The proclamation gives amnesty to accused, implicated, charged or sentenced dissidents and allows them to return to Ethiopia and to take part in political activities. However, the legislation does not give amnesty to those involved in criminal activities such as ethnic cleansing, murder, kidnapping and torture.

[…]

Ethiopia has dropped charges against opposition figures, broadcasters, bloggers and rebels who were charged with different crimes.

#MeToo win:

A Pennsylvania state advisory board recommended that Bill Cosby be deemed a “sexually violent predator,” which would require the convicted comedian to undergo lifetime counseling and register as a sex offender, prosecutors said in a court filing on Tuesday.

Science

Scientists confirm “shooter bias”:

Reaction-time based measures revealed that participants demonstrated ‘shooter-bias’ toward both Black people and robot racialized as Black. Participants were also willing to attribute a race to the robots depending on their racialization and demonstrated a high degree of inter-subject agreement when it came to these attributions.

Now that we have proof “shooter bias” exists, even when applied to robots, we can start to address the issue.

Environment

Greek island goes renewable:

Using a grant of 11 million euros ($12.9 million) from the European Commission, as part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation push, the plan is to transform Tilos into one of the Mediterranean’s first green energy islands.

The effort will use solar and wind power to generate enough electricity for the 550 residents who live on Tilos year-round and thousands of tourists who visit every summer to enjoy the island’s tranquil beaches and laid-back vibe.

In the coming weeks, a hybrid power plant consisting of a single wind turbine, a photovoltaic solar panel station and battery storage system is expected to start meeting the daily electricity needs of between 250 and 300 households.

Research may make solar more efficient:

During the three-year effort, funded by a nearly $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, the team will develop a new weather prediction system. Johns Hopkins engineers will then use that system to build a model that will more precisely estimate a region’s solar and traditional power needs on any given day, saving potentially tens of millions of dollars and cutting energy waste.

“This has the potential to do the economy, the environment, and consumers a lot of good,” said project lead Benjamin F. Hobbs, a professor of environmental management at Johns Hopkins. “This is why I do research—we can help people with real problems.”

Solar and wind power accounts for about 10 percent of all electricity produced in the U.S. With costs dropping for consumers, solar is expected to grow another 25 percent worldwide in the next year, Hobbs said. That’s up from essentially no one using it in 1999.

Aramark phases out single-use plastics:

Aramark, a global leader in food, facilities management and uniforms, announced a commitment to significantly reduce single-use disposable plastics, across its global food service operations, by 2022. Single-use plastic items include straws, stirrers, bags, cutlery and various packaging materials. Aramark will implement actions across the 19 countries where it serves 2 billion meals annually in schools and workplaces, sports and leisure venues, hospitals and other locations. 

Substitute for plastic wrap:

The war against plastic is getting some new players. In addition to businesses like Starbucks and McDonald’s banning plastic straws, scientists have been working on their own alternatives to unrecyclable plastic wrap.

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have used discarded crab shells and tree fibers to develop a material akin to plastic cling wrap, according to IFL Science. The crustaceans’ shells contain a substance called chitin, which is the second most abundant polymer found in nature, researchers wrote in a study published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

[…]

It’s similar to petroleum-based plastic packaging, but researchers say their cling wrap could keep foods fresher for a longer period of time because less oxygen penetrates the material.

Health

New malaria drug:

A new drug to treat malaria could help millions.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the drug Krintafel (tafenoquine) for the treatment of malaria following a Priority Review this past Friday.

The drug, developed by GSK Pharmaceuticals and Medicines for Malaria Venture, is a single dose medication designed for people who’ve had malaria before. It prevents the relapse of malaria caused by Plasmodium vivax (P.vivax).

Consumer Rights

Restaurants may start taking hygiene more seriously:

Yelp is giving consumers all the information they can handle while making an informed decision before stepping into any restaurant of their choice.

The online customer review service recently announced they are adding hygiene scores to restaurant reviews.

A use for those empty storefronts:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel will move Wednesday to implement his innovative plan to allow aspiring chefs and new retailers to test their concepts in vacant restaurants and storefronts.
Pop-up permitting was just one of a host of mayoral reforms unveiled last spring to further improve a small business climate that had already benefited from the consolidation of business licenses.

Now that the City Council has approved year-round sidewalk cafes, Emanuel is moving to implement the plan that will allow aspiring chefs and retailers to get started at minimal cost and hassle.

At Wednesday’s Council meeting, Emanuel will introduce an ordinance that will allow restaurants and retailers now required to purchase a two-year license to, instead, choose a license as short as five days.

City Hall will also offer pop-up licenses for 30, 90, 180 or 365 days.

Miscellaneous

If there’s a Krispy Kreme near you, Friday is $1 donut day.

And finally, good news for both the grammar-challenged and those of us annoyed by poor grammar:

Google is utilizing artificial intelligence to help its Google Docs users improve their grammar. The company recently detailed a new feature called Grammar Suggestions, which offers ways to improve or correct any grammar issues it finds within a document. According to Google, its artificial intelligence is able to spot multiple types of grammar issues ranging from big to small.

That’s it for today!

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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