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407 posts
  • Opinion
  • Plastic Trash
Eighty pieces of plastic bags were found in the stomach of short-finned pilot whale after an autopsy
Eighty pieces of plastic bags were found in the stomach of short-finned pilot whale after an autopsy (Thai Whales)

During the five days that rescuers tried to save the life of an ailing pilot whale found in a canal in Thailand last week, it vomited up five plastic bags. That, it turns out, was just a horrifying preview of what was discovered after the whale finally expired: 80 plastic bags stuffed into the whale’s stomach.

This is not the first marine animal to be found to have been harmed by ingesting plastic trash in the ocean. Or even the first whale.  In 2013, the body of a sperm whale washed up on a beach in Spain with 37 pounds of garbage blocking its stomach.

But it may be the most heart-wrenching death-by-plastic story yet. And it comes at an pivotal moment. Humans are — finally — waking up to the fact that their addiction to throwaway plastic is killing wildlife in a much more graphic and gruesome manner than climate change. Stories like these ought to be a rallying call for new, and significant, restrictions on single-use plastic items.

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  • Opinion
  • The Witch Hunt
President Trump sits with Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions during the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony in Quantico, Va., on Dec. 17, 2017.
President Trump sits with Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions during the FBI National Academy graduation ceremony in Quantico, Va., on Dec. 17, 2017. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

I don’t usually feel the urge to offer President Trump helpful advice, particularly not when the advice would also help his zombie minions in Congress. I’m more of a grip-it-and-rip-it kind of critic. And there’s just so much to criticize.

Then I saw this tweet this morning:

I sensed a soul in pain, and the part of me that loves small children and animals is seizing control of the keyboard to say: Mr. President, never utter another word about pardoning yourself. Just shhh. SHHHHH. Shhhhh.

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  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the same-sex wedding cake case.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the same-sex wedding cake case. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

The Supreme Court on Monday finally issued its ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, aka the same-sex wedding case case.

Three quick points:

The 7-2 decision is narrower than some social conservatives would prefer, focusing in large part on the majority’s perception that the Colorado Civil Rights Commission displayed hostility toward Christian baker Jack Philips’ religious convictions against same-sex marriage. This issue also featured in December’s oral argument in the case, as I explained here

By a whole bunch of different metrics, too few women occupy leadership positions in U.S. businesses. Just look at corporate boards of directors: At the 3,000 companies tracked on the Russell 3000 index, fewer than 1 in 6 board seats is filled by a woman. More than a quarter of the California companies in that group had no female directors at all. The representation of women is far higher on corporate boards in Western European countries, several of which mandate that women hold 30% to 40% of the board seats.

  • Opinion
  • Election 2018
  • Rich Dudes
Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente before a Democratic Presidential Forum in Des Moines, Iowa in 2016. He's a Republican now.
Roque "Rocky" De La Fuente before a Democratic Presidential Forum in Des Moines, Iowa in 2016. He's a Republican now. (Charlie Neibergall/ Associated Press)

Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente is running for U.S. Senate in California’s June 5 primary.

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It’s a good question, and one that has come up more than once since the Los Angeles Times editorial board decided to throw in with former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the governor’s race on June 5: What about John Chiang? After all, we’d endorsed Chiang for both his current job as state treasurer and his previous gig as state controller.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
President Trump shakes hands with North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol after a June 1 meeting at the White House.
President Trump shakes hands with North Korean envoy Kim Yong Chol after a June 1 meeting at the White House. (Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

A week ago, when President Trump’s much-ballyhooed super-summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was suddenly canceled, I wrote an editorial for The Times asking whether, “seriously, is anyone really shocked?” But just to be clear, I’m no more shocked by the fact that it is back on than I was that it was cancelled in the first place.

That’s because Trump is the most erratic, impulsive, inconsistent leader imaginable. And the guy he’s planning to meet across the table is hardly a paragon of diplomatic gravitas himself.

From the start, the summit was undertaken in, to say the least, an unorthodox manner. It began with name-calling between Little Rocket Man and the Dotard, with the protagonists hurling insults, calling each other “deranged,” “short,” “lunatic,” “reckless,” “fat,” etc. It also included more serious threats: We will “totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said at one point. Kim said: “The entire area of the U.S. mainland is within our nuclear strike range.”

  • Trump
  • Opinion
In this Dec. 15, 2017, photo, the HealthCare.gov website is shown.
In this Dec. 15, 2017, photo, the HealthCare.gov website is shown. (Jon Elswick / Associated Press)

As bad as the Trump administration and congressional Republicans have made things for Americans who buy health insurance in the individual market, it could be worse. In fact, the Trump administration may make it worse later this year, just in time for the midterm elections.

Specifically, the administration is considering a way to increase the pain inflicted by its decision last year to stop reimbursing insurers for certain subsidies they are required to provide low-income Americans enrolled in Obamacare plans. These “cost-sharing subsidies” lower deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. The decision shifted the cost of billions of dollars’ worth of subsidies from federal taxpayers onto the people buying health insurance in the individual market.

Insurers and regulators in most states found a way to redirect that bullet so that taxpayers continued to absorb much or all of the cost. Now, however, officials at the Department of Health and Human Services are thinking about barring this practice, resulting in higher premiums for more of the roughly 20 million Americans who buy insurance in that market.

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  • Opinion
  • The Swamp
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, shown at a news conference in New York on Thursday, has opposed same-sex marriage.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, shown at a news conference in New York on Thursday, has opposed same-sex marriage. (Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

Like his predecessors, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo allows his name to appear on a vast number of statements issued by the State Department, a lot of which land in my email inbox.

For example, Pompeo on Friday extended “my best wishes and congratulations to our friends in Italy on this 72nd anniversary of the foundation of the Italian Republic.”

But Pompeo’s name also appeared on a message with potentially more political significance than “Happy Birthday, Italy.”

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Swamp
Senior White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow speaks to reporters at the White House on Friday.
Senior White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow speaks to reporters at the White House on Friday. (Susan Walsh/AP)

In keeping with this week’s theme of double standards, how does President Trump get away with tipping off the markets about this month’s jobs report — something his predecessors never dared to do?

At 7:21 a.m. Eastern time, Trump tweeted this:

Here’s what happened next, according to the Washington Post: