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426 posts
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Julian Assange, shown in London in May 2017, reportedly has been secretly charged by U.S. prosecutors.
Julian Assange, shown in London in May 2017, reportedly has been secretly charged by U.S. prosecutors. (Dominic Lipinski / TNS)

The U.S. government has been after WikiLeaks maestro Julian Assange for eight years, ever since the site published a cache of classified documents it had obtained from U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning. And now we learn, through some sloppy legal paperwork, that Assange has secretly been charged by federal prosecutors.

With what, however, we don’t know. And that’s crucial.

Assange remains ensconced in Ecuador’s embassy in London, so the likelihood of him actually being extradited and prosecuted remain slim for now. But that would change if he wears out his welcome there, as some news outlets have reported he’s doing.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Jim Acosta walks away from the U.S. District Courthouse in Washington.
Jim Acosta walks away from the U.S. District Courthouse in Washington. (Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press)

The Trump administration is putting a positive spin on a federal judge’s order that it restore the press credential of CNN’s Jim Acosta. But make no mistake: The temporary restraining order issued on Friday by U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly (irony alert: a Trump appointee) is a defeat for the administration.

It should accept that defeat gracefully, and permanently restore Acosta’s “hard pass.”

Kelly’s order is a form of emergency relief, pending further action on the merits of CNN’s lawsuit. That’s why White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders emphasized after the ruling that Acosta’s hard pass is being “temporarily” reinstated.

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  • Opinion
  • Election 2018
Nine days ago, Rep. Mimi Walters, right, looked headed for reelection. Now Democrat Katie Porter looks to be the winner.
Nine days ago, Rep. Mimi Walters, right, looked headed for reelection. Now Democrat Katie Porter looks to be the winner. (Chris Carlson / Associated Press)

What a difference (checks calendar) eight days make.

The morning after election day, things looked grim for Orange County Democrats, who had entered the fall election full of hope and enthusiasm. Election night results showed county votes falling largely behind Republicans in the House and statewide races. Although Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach, the most vulnerable of the Republican House incumbents, looked like he was headed for defeat in the coastal 48th District, Republicans were leading in other county-centric House races, and O.C. votes for statewide candidates were falling on the red side of the ledger even as Democrats were winning in the overall count.

“But wait!” activists said. “They’re still counting votes!”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, shown in May, has been busy this week repairing the company's image.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, shown in May, has been busy this week repairing the company's image. (Ludovic Marin / AFP/Getty Images)

A few days after the 2016 election, I attended the Techonomy tech conference in Half Moon Bay where Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg gave a rare interview. Reports were swirling at the time about people plying Facebook with fake news items in an effort to boost Donald Trump’s successful campaign, and Techonomy founder David Kirkpatrick asked whether Zuckerberg thought the social network had influenced the outcome. The youthful billionaire essentially laughed Kirkpatrick off:

We now know just how misguided Zuckerberg was about the uses of his company’s platform. Facebook has spent much of the Trump presidency dealing with revelations not just about fake news, but about foreign meddling in U.S. affairs and the mobilization of hate-fueled mobs around the world.

This week the New York Times triggered another wave of criticism with a lengthy investigation recounting how much effort Facebook put into denying its problems and attacking its critics. Responding to the Times’ tl;dr piece with one of his own, Zuckerberg unleashed a kajillion-word blog post outlining the steps Facebook has been and will be taking to minimize the amount of harmful content its users publish. He also dumped the right-of-center consultants who had defended the company too, umm, aggressively.

  • Opinion
  • Guns and Ammo
  • The Golden State
  • Rule of Law
Patrons leave the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks after a gunman opened fire, killing 12 people.
Patrons leave the Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks after a gunman opened fire, killing 12 people. (Los Angeles Times)

It may be that California has temporarily exceeded its capacity for processing tragedy, and grief, after two major fires with horrific damage and death and the mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks country dance bar. But we can’t let ourselves become overwhelmed because, unfortunately, we’re likely to endure repetitions of both.

Devastating wildfires are not one-offs here. They are part of the natural cycle, though our insistence on building communities in places we know will burn overlays the grids of civilization on wild space, adding fuel to the fires and human losses to the natural toll. My colleagues on the editorial board have written eloquently about this, so I’ll leave it alone. But we know what needs to be done to lessen our exposure to the dangers.

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  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
  • The Golden State
Authors of a study that found oceans are warming faster than previously thought erred in their math. But warming seas remain a problem.
Authors of a study that found oceans are warming faster than previously thought erred in their math. But warming seas remain a problem. (Richard E. Dodge / Sun Sentinel)

Well, that was unfortunate.

A study released a couple of weeks ago reporting that oceans were warming faster than previously anticipated turns out to have been off by a bit. By a large bit, in fact.

  • Opinion
  • Election 2018
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), center, joined by other GOP senators, speaks to reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), center, joined by other GOP senators, speaks to reporters in the Capitol on Wednesday. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

It’s too easy to mock Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for writing a paean to bipartisanship … for Fox News’ website

So I leave that task to others. Of whom there are many.

Instead, allow me to offer two critiques. First, when McConnell touted the achievements of the “unified Republican government,” he failed to mention how divisive all of those accomplishments were. So divisive, in fact, that none of the pieces of legislation he cited could have passed under ordinary Senate rules. Instead, the regulatory repeals, the tax cuts and the judicial confirmations all were made possible by procedural shortcuts that barred filibusters and deterred amendments. 

CNN's Jim Acosta does a standup before President Trump's Nov. 7 news conference.
CNN's Jim Acosta does a standup before President Trump's Nov. 7 news conference. (Evan Vucci / Associated Press)

On Tuesday, CNN filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse the revocation of correspondent Jim Acosta’s White House press pass.

The complaint filed in federal court in Washington, makes a persuasive case that the administration‘s action was “the culmination of years of hostility by President Trump against CNN and Acosta based on the contents of their reporting — an unabashed attempt to censor the press and exclude reporters from the White House who challenge and dispute the president’s point of view.”

CNN is also correct in noting that the 1st Amendment has been interpreted by the Supreme Court as reflecting “a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.” The quotation is from the landmark 1964 libel case of New York Times vs. Sullivan.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Swamp
John Roberts of Fox News, left, Jim Acosta of CNN and Kristen Welker of NBC stand in the White House on Nov. 7.
John Roberts of Fox News, left, Jim Acosta of CNN and Kristen Welker of NBC stand in the White House on Nov. 7. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

When the Trump administration yanked the White House press pass held by CNN’s Jim Acosta last week, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders practically accused him of manhandling a female White House intern. On Tuesday, Sanders took a different tack, accusing him of manhandling the microphone he shares with dozens of other reporters in the White House press corps.

Responding to the lawsuit CNN filed against the suspension of Acosta’s press pass, Sanders said, “After Mr. Acosta asked the President two questions — each of which the President answered — he physically refused to surrender a White House microphone to an intern, so that other reporters might ask their questions.” 

So much for the Acosta karate chop.

Physical therapists, occupational therapists and administrative staff stretch inside the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in 2013.
Physical therapists, occupational therapists and administrative staff stretch inside the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in 2013. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Public heath advocates appear to be getting desperate over the state of Americans’ inactivity.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Monday released a new set of physical activity guidelines and they are...ah...interesting. Instead of prescribing the standard block of sustained physical activity — previously at least 10 minutes at a time — the government is now urging Americans to, you know, move around more during the day and sit less.

The reasoning is that any activity is better than none for people who spend most of their lives sitting down — in a car, on the train, in front of a computer, eating meals, watching television or surfing the internet —  then they should do what they can to take breaks from the reclined life.