The college admissions bribery scandal illustrates how privilege works


On Tuesday morning, the FBI announced charges against 33 wealthy parents who are being accused of using bribes to get their children into universities.

Among the highest-profile names are former Full House star Lori Loughlin and former Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman.

The schools with NCAA coaches named in the indictment include coaches from Yale, USC, UCLA, Georgetown, Wake Forest, and Texas.

Some of those rich people, like Loughlin, allegedly sought to get their children admitted into college by bribing coaches through an intermediary.

Source: The college admissions bribery scandal illustrates how privilege works

Spotify files EU antitrust complaint against Apple | Reuters


Spotify, which launched a year after the 2007 launch of the iPhone, said on Wednesday that Apple’s control of its App store deprived consumers of choice and rival providers of audio streaming services to the benefit of Apple Music, which began in 2015.

Central to Spotify’s complaint, filed to the European Commission on Monday, is what it says is a 30 percent fee Apple charges content-based service providers to use Apple’s in-app purchase system (IAP).

Source: Spotify files EU antitrust complaint against Apple | Reuters

Iran hunts for more ships to keep its oil flowing | Reuters


Since U.S. President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions in November, exploratory talks with South Korea for up to 10 new supertankers have stalled, Panama has removed at least 21 Iranian tankers from its registry and Tehran is now looking for extra vessels in places such as Vietnam, the sources said.

Washington has put restrictions on Iran’s port, energy and shipping sectors but it has given waivers to the country’s eight biggest oil customers, which include China, India and Japan, so they can keep buying Iranian crude.

With oil exports accounting for an estimated 70 percent of Iran’s revenues, maintaining an effective fleet of tankers to store and move that oil is crucial for Tehran.

Source: Iran hunts for more ships to keep its oil flowing | Reuters

Not so fast: Mueller still investigating pivotal Russia probe issues | Reuters

null
The timing of the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election is a major topic of discussion in Washington, with the disclosure of the findings expected to be a seismic event in American politics.

Mueller himself has been silent throughout the probe, but his team has provided clues that prosecutors are still working on key issues, an indication he may not be ready to submit the report to Attorney General William Barr imminently.

Source: Not so fast: Mueller still investigating pivotal Russia probe issues | Reuters

Britain heads into Brexit unknown as parliament votes on no-deal exit | Reuters


British lawmakers were on Wednesday set to stave off the threat of a no-deal exit from the European Union on March 29 but the second defeat of Prime Minister Theresa May’s divorce treaty has left the country heading into the Brexit unknown.

After two-and-a-half years of tortuous divorce negotiations with the EU and two failed attempts to get her exit deal ratified by parliament, May said she would vote against a no-deal exit that investors fear would spook financial markets, dislocate supply chains and damage the world’s fifth largest economy.

Source: Britain heads into Brexit unknown as parliament votes on no-deal exit | Reuters

How the House should investigate the Trump administration


Democrats do not want for investigatory targets and platforms. After all, they inherited control of more than 100 committees and subcommittees and began planning their first hearings long before Election Day.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) was ready to launch a broad investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign with or without special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in hand; Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) was developing an agenda for an early hearing on Matthew G. Whitaker’s appointment as acting attorney general; House Oversight and Reform Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) was considering a probe of Ivanka Trump’s use of a private email server; Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) was considering a review of Trump’s foreign investments; and Ways and Means Committee Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.) was laying the groundwork for releasing the president’s tax returns.

Many of these investigations are unlikely to produce significant effects, however.

Source: How the House should investigate the Trump administration

My personal journey through polarized America


America’s polarization has unfolded over a long period of time. There have been many developments from Reaganomics to Obamacare that have divided people and intensified political conflict. I know because it has been the story of my life.

I grew up on a dairy farm in rural Ohio, taught political science at Brown University, and ended up in Washington, D.C., at one of the leading think tanks.

My two sisters are Christian fundamentalists who love President Donald Trump, while my brother is a liberal who sees the chief executive as a menace.

I recount our country’s political history as well as that of my family in my forthcoming memoir, “Divided Politics, Divided Nation: Hyperconflict in the Trump Era.”

Source: My personal journey through polarized America

Political incivility, racial hostility roil U.S. high schools, study finds | Reuters


Political grudges and racial animosity have divided students at U.S. high schools and President Donald Trump has exacerbated the problem with his rhetoric, a study released on Wednesday showed.

Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) surveyed 505 high school principals for the study. More than 60 percent of them reported some of their students had made derogatory remarks about immigrants.

More broadly, more than 80 percent of principals said some of their students had disparaged other ethnic groups.

Source: Political incivility, racial hostility roil U.S. high schools, study finds | Reuters

As wildfires devour communities, toxic threats emerge | Reuters


As an uncontrollable wildfire turned the California town of Paradise to ash, air pollution researcher Keith Bein knew he had to act fast: Little is known about toxic chemicals released when a whole town burns and the wind would soon blow away evidence.

It was the second time Bein says he was unable to gather post-wildfire research in a field so new public safety agencies have not yet developed procedures for allowing scientists into restricted areas.

Fires like the one that razed Paradise last November burn thousands of pounds of wiring, plastic pipes and building materials, leaving dangerous chemicals in the air, soil and water. Lead paint, burned asbestos and even melted refrigerators from tens of thousands of households only add to the danger, public health experts say.

Source: As wildfires devour communities, toxic threats emerge | Reuters

Nancy Pelosi’s Impeachment Blunder: It’s Not About Bipartisanship

null
.. The cheapening of the process was yet to come in the form of the Republicans’ nakedly partisan, shakily founded impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998.

The word was in no way tossed around as loosely in 1974 as it is now.

In fact, no one even knew how to do it; there was a sudden run on the bookstores of the one authoritative book on the subject.

There are other reasons to be disturbed by Pelosi’s stated position on impeaching Trump.

The Founders put the impeachment clause in the Constitution for what was to them a critically important reason: the new country was not to have a king. Therefore there had to be a way to hold a president accountable between elections.

It’s reasonable to think that the Founders would have been most perturbed at the idea that the Congress wouldn’t uphold its solemn duty to act as a check on the president because it might be a nuisance, or politically disadvantageous.

Of course, they didn’t anticipate political parties, and also took a dim view of “factions.”

Source: Nancy Pelosi’s Impeachment Blunder: It’s Not About Bipartisanship