The co-founder of Birthright Israel has been accused of sexual harassment

Michael Steinhardt, 78, a retired hedge fund founder, is among an elite cadre of donors who bankroll some of the country’s most prestigious Jewish nonprofits. His foundations have given at least $127 million to charitable causes since 2003, public filings show.

But for more than two decades, that generosity has come at a price. Six women said in interviews with The New York Times and ProPublica, and one said in a lawsuit, that Mr. Steinhardt asked them to have sex with him, or made sexual requests of them, while they were relying on or seeking his support. He also regularly made comments to women about their bodies and their fertility, according to the seven women and 16 other people who said they were present when Mr. Steinhardt made such comments.

Along with Charles Bronfman, a billionaire heir to the Seagram liquor fortune, Mr. Steinhardt founded Birthright Israel, which has sent more than 600,000 young Jews on free trips to Israel. He spearheaded the creation of a network of Hebrew charter schools. A new natural history museum in Tel Aviv bears his name.

A grim prognosis for the areas of the Midwest already inundated by floods

The U.S. is likely to see “historic, widespread flooding” through May, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s spring outlook.

“The extensive flooding we’ve seen in the past two weeks will continue through May and become more dire and may be exacerbated in the coming weeks as the water flows downstream. This is shaping up to be a potentially unprecedented flood season, with more than 200 million people at risk for flooding in their communities,” writes Ed Clark, the director of NOAA’s National Water Center.

The Midwest has already seen record-breaking flooding due to rapid snow melts and heavy spring rains. And with more rain and snowmelt on the way as the seasons turn, NOAA warns that “the flood threat will become worse and geographically more widespread.”

If Parliament agrees, the EU is ok with delaying Brexit until May 22

EU leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the Article 50 process, postponing Brexit beyond 29 March.

The UK will be offered a delay until 22 May, if MPs approve the withdrawal deal negotiated with the EU next week.

If they do not, the EU will back a shorter delay until 12 April, allowing the UK time to get the deal through or to “indicate a way forward”.

May also dismissed calls to revoke Article 50 - as a petition calling for that on the Parliament website attracted more than two million signatures - saying people had voted to leave and were told their decision would be respected.

James Comey expresses his extremely measured hopes for the Mueller report as rumors of the investigation’s impending end continue to circle

The country is eagerly awaiting the special counsel Robert Mueller’s report. Many people know what they want it to say — what they feel it simply must say — namely, that Donald Trump is a criminal who should be removed from office. Or that he is completely innocent of all wrongdoing.

But not everyone knows what it “must” say. Even though I believe Mr. Trump is morally unfit to be president of the United States, I’m not rooting for Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that he is a criminal. I’m also not rooting for Mr. Mueller to “clear” the president. I’m not rooting for anything at all, except that the special counsel be permitted to finish his work, charge whatever cases warrant charging and report on his work.

I am rooting for a demonstration to the world — and maybe most of all to our president and his enablers — that the United States has a justice system that works because there are people who believe in it and rise above personal interest and tribalism. That system may reach conclusions they like or it may not, but the apolitical administration of justice is the beating heart of this country. I hope we all get to see that.

A Marine general claims that Trump’s border stunts are hurting the branch’s operational abilities

The commandant of the Marines has warned the Pentagon that deployments to the southwest border and funding transfers under the president’s emergency declaration, among other unexpected demands, have posed “unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency.”

In two internal memos, Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller said the “unplanned/unbudgeted” deployment along the border that President Trump ordered last fall, and shifts of other funds to support border security, had forced him to cancel or reduce planned military training in at least five countries, and delay urgent repairs at bases.

The border deployment and funding transfers, as well as recovery costs from hurricanes Florence and Michael, new housing allowances and civilian pay raises, are taking a toll on combat readiness, Neller wrote to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Navy Secretary Richard Spencer.

vision 2020
vision 2020
Intelligencer Chat: Are Democrats Too Nervous to Nominate a Woman?
The trauma of 2016 may have given rise to a cautious way of looking at 2020.
foreign policy
foreign policy
Trump Calls on U.S. to Recognize Israeli Sovereignty Over the Golan Heights
The president just vowed to nullify the international law prohibiting states from acquiring new territory through military conquest.

He was several right-wing extremist new cycles ago

CNN: Cesar Sayoc has pleaded guilty in court to mailing explosive devices a variety of targets, including CNN.
amy klobuchar
amy klobuchar
Amy Klobuchar Questioned for ‘Tough on Crime’ Record As Prosecutor
How she treats staff is now just one of multiple criticisms of the candidate’s idea of “toughness.”

He won’t ever stop

Trump on McCain in new Fox interview: “he was horrible”

George W. Bush hits hole-in-one on 16th anniversary of Iraq War

college admissions scandal
college admissions scandal
College Admissions Scam Fallout: What Happened to Everyone in the Scandal
USC has rejected several applicants, influencer Olivia Jade Giannulli lost major endorsement deals, and Hallmark is done with Lori Loughlin.

Trump hands Netanyahu a gift ahead of Israeli elections

After 52 years it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!

Flooding has already been awful in parts of the Midwest this month, and relief may not be in store soon

just asking questions
just asking questions
Alex Gibney on Why Elizabeth Holmes Would Have Believed Her Own Lies
“There was a lot of cognitive dissonance going on. I think she knew that the machine had problems. But there was a kind of willful denial.”
Facebook Stored Passwords Insecurely for Years
Facebook employees could have easily accessed the login info for hundreds of millions of users.

This is really getting out of hand

Sky News can reveal the armed forces have activated a team in a nuclear bunker beneath the Ministry of Defence to step up preparations for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit

WhatsApp with that?

 Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, uses an unofficial online messaging service for official White House business, including with foreign contacts, his lawyer told the House Oversight Committee late last year.

The lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said he was not aware if Mr. Kushner had communicated classified information on the service, WhatsApp, and said that because he took screenshots of the communications and sent them to his official White House account or the National Security Council, his client was not in violation of federal records laws.

In a letter disclosing the information, the Democratic chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee said that he was investigating possible violations of the Presidential Records Act by members of the Trump administration, including Mr. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump. He accused the White House of stonewalling his committee on information it had requested for months.

The GOP power grab in Wisconsin in on hold

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A judge has issued a temporary injunction blocking Wisconsin Republicans’ contentious lame-duck laws limiting the powers of Gov. Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, both Democrats.


Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) on Thursday urged President Donald Trump to stop disparaging the late Sen. John McCain, calling the Vietnam war hero “a dear friend” and defending him against the president’s criticisms. …

Ernst’s remarks came during a town hall meeting at a high school in Adel, Iowa, where several attendees voiced anger about Trump’s attacks about McCain. One attendee described McCain as a “genuine war hero” and called Trump’s comments about McCain “cowardly.”

“I do not appreciate his tweets,” Ernst said, when pressed by the attendee why she didn’t previously speak out more forcefully. “John McCain is a dear friend of mine. So, no I don’t agree with President Trump and he does need to stop.”

Mainstream Democrats have changed their thinking on Israel

New: @KamalaHarris is not going to @AIPAC, an aide confirms to @POLITICO

And yet we keep waiting

As we anticipate the end of Mueller, signs of a wind-down:
-SCO prosecutors bringing family into the office for visits
-Staff carrying out boxes
-Manafort sentenced, top prosecutor leaving
-office of 16 attys down to 10
-DC US Atty stepping up in cases
-grand jury not seen in 2mo

Enjoy this picture of Robert Mueller arriving at work today

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images
vision 2020
vision 2020
John Hickenlooper Recounts the Time He Took His Mother to See Deep Throat
Top this anecdote, Bernie.

Blink once for “yes”

Attorney General Bill Barr just walked past me inside the Justice Department. I asked him, “Is today the day?”

His response: a death stare… before walking off without saying a word.
the city
the city
SPECIAL REPORT: NYPD’s Mental-Illness Response Breakdown
As 911 calls reporting emotionally disturbed people double in a decade, training lags and a key response team is shut out of the emergency system.
the national interest
the national interest
9 Reasons a Biden–Abrams Ticket Is a Brilliant Idea for Both Biden and Abrams
A kooky, out-of-the-box idea that actually makes total sense.

An impressive milestone

Jimmy Carter has just become the oldest living former president in United States history.

At the age of 94 years and 172 days, he passes George H.W. Bush, who was 94 years, 171 days when he died last November.

Turns out airplane safety features aren’t really optional

For Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers, the practice of charging to upgrade a standard plane can be lucrative. Top airlines around the world must pay handsomely to have the jets they order fitted with customized add-ons.

Sometimes these optional features involve aesthetics or comfort, like premium seating, fancy lighting or extra bathrooms. But other features involve communication, navigation or safety systems, and are more fundamental to the plane’s operations.

Many airlines, especially low-cost carriers like Indonesia’s Lion Air, have opted not to buy them — and regulators don’t require them. Now, in the wake of the two deadly crashes involving the same jet model, Boeing will make one of those safety features standard as part of a fix to get the planes in the air again.

… Boeing’s optional safety features, in part, could have helped the pilots detect any erroneous readings. One of the optional upgrades, the angle of attack indicator, displays the readings of the two sensors. The other, called a disagree light, is activated if those sensors are at odds with one another.

Boeing will soon update the MCAS software, and will also make the disagree light standard on all new 737 Max planes, according to a person familiar with the changes, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they have not been made public. The angle of attack indicator will remain an option that airlines can buy.

In case you forgot that there are terrible people out there

Dozens of graves at a Hebrew cemetery in Massachusetts were recently vandalized, prompting police to open a hate crime investigation.

Police found swastikas and anti-Semitic graffiti at the Fall River cemetery and believe the incident occurred on March 16 or early March 17, according to a Tuesday social media post.

Gravestones were defaced using a black marker and some were pushed over, police said.

On Tuesday, police estimated that 25 gravestones were vandalized, but that estimate more than doubled on Wednesday to 59, The (Fall River, Mass.) Herald News reports

The paper previously reported the graves were marked with words such as “heil Hitler” and “Hitler was right.” One was reportedly tagged with “Oy vey! This is MAGA country.”

Actually, you probably will

Health care costs are too high that is true but comparing us to Finland is ridiculous. Ask them how their health care is. You won’t like their answer.

Fawning all over the president seems to be working

Lindsey Graham’s approval among South Carolina Republicans in April 2018: 51%

Today: 74%

(h/t @winthropu)

Thanks Florida, but we’re not sure we need to see the video

Attorneys for New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and more than a dozen other defendants charged in a Florida prostitution sting filed a motion to stop the public release of surveillance videos and other evidence taken by police.

Attorneys filed the motion Wednesday in Palm Beach County court. The State of Florida does not agree with the request, according to the filing.

In the motion, the attorneys asked the court to grant a protective order to safeguard the confidentiality of the materials seized from the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, and “in particular the videos, until further order of the court.”

voting rights
voting rights
Democrats’ Voting-Rights Push Could Begin a Third Reconstruction
Partisan polarization over voting rights shows how much political power, now as in the 1860s and 1960s, depends on who participates in democracy.

Some good advice from corporate America: just ignore Trump’s tweets

When Mr. Trump was running for president, he promised to personally stop American companies from shutting down factories and moving plants abroad, warning that he would punish them with public backlash and higher taxes. Many companies scrambled to respond to his Twitter attacks, announcing jobs and investments in the United States — several of which never materialized.

But despite Mr. Trump’s efforts to compel companies to build and hire, they appear to be increasingly prioritizing their balance sheets over political backlash.

“I don’t think there’s as much fear,” said Gene Grabowski, who specializes in crisis communications for the public relations firm Kglobal. “At first it was a shock to the system, but now we’ve all adjusted. We take it in stride, and I think that’s what the business community is doing.”

There’s no specific stipulation that Milo must be heard, so it could be worse

President Trump is expected to issue an executive order Thursday directing federal agencies to tie research and education grants made to colleges and universities to more aggressive enforcement of the First Amendment, according to a draft of the order viewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The order instructs agencies including the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services and Defense to ensure that public educational institutions comply with the First Amendment, and that private institutions live up to their own stated free-speech standards.

The order falls short of what some university officials feared would be more sweeping or specific measures; it doesn’t prescribe any specific penalty that would result in schools losing research or other education grants as a result of specific policies.

the city
the city
City Seeks to Move Mentally Ill Inmates to Hospitals
Officials are exploring creating “therapeutic” units for inmates with complex medical needs. But who will run the units is being closely watched.
russia investigation
russia investigation
Report: Democrats Want to Find Out What Hope Hicks Knows
The former White House comms director has reportedly agreed to help House Democrats pursuing potential obstruction of justice charges for Trump.

Tech companies have a terrorism bias

Tech companies say that it is easier to identify content related to known foreign terrorist organizations such as ISIS and Al Qaeda because of information-sharing with law enforcement and industry-wide efforts, such as the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, a group formed by YouTube, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter in 2017.

On Monday, for example, YouTube said on its Twitter account that it was harder for the company to stop the video of the shootings in Christchurch than to remove copyrighted content or ISIS-related content because YouTube’s tools for content moderation rely on “reference files to work effectively.” Movie studios and record labels provide reference files in advance and, “many violent extremist groups, like ISIS, use common footage and imagery,” YouTube wrote.

The cycle is self-reinforcing: The companies collect more data on what ISIS content looks like based on law enforcement’s myopic and under-inclusive views, and then this skewed data is fed to surveillance systems, Bloch-Wehba says. Meanwhile, consumers don’t have enough visibility in the process to know whether these tools are proportionate to the threat, whether they filter too much content, or whether they discriminate against certain groups, she says.

Who are the mystery parties in the new Jeffrey Epstein suit?

Two mystery litigants citing privacy concerns are making a last-ditch bid to keep secret some details in a lawsuit stemming from wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein’s history of paying underage girls for sex.

Just prior to a court-imposed deadline Tuesday, two anonymous individuals surfaced to object to the unsealing of a key lower-court ruling in the case, as well as various submissions by the parties.

Both people filed their complaints in the New York-based 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, which is overseeing the case. The two people said they could face unwarranted speculation and embarrassment if the court makes public records from the suit, in which Virginia Giuffre, an alleged Epstein victim, accused longtime Epstein friend Ghislaine Maxwell of engaging in sex trafficking by facilitating his sexual encounters with teenage girls. Maxwell has denied the charges.

christchurch massacre
christchurch massacre
New Zealand Bans Assault Weapons Less Than a Week After Christchurch
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced the ban of military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, and a buyback plan to get them off the streets.

New Zealand bans the sale of assault rifles less than a week after Christchurch shooting

#BREAKING @AFP (Wellington) New Zealand bans sale of assault, semi-automatic rifles: PM Ardern
2020 presidential election
2020 presidential election
How Electable Is Bernie Sanders?
It’s not clear whether Sanders is actually stronger or weaker than his Democratic rivals as a potential challenger to Trump.

Updates from the catastrophic cyclone in Mozambique

Rescue teams in Mozambique are struggling to reach the thousands of people stranded on roofs and in trees and urgently need more helicopters and boats as post-cyclone flood waters continue to rise.

Rescue workers, military personnel and volunteers are rushing to save thousands of Mozambicans before flood levels rise further, but with four helicopters, a handful of boats and extremely difficult conditions, have only been able to save about 413 so far.

“I don’t even know if we’ve made a dent. There are just so many people. The scale is huge. We’re busy doing the best we can,” said Travis Trower from Rescue South Africa, adding that a lot of people had been washed away but those still alive, whom he had seen from helicopter flights, were in a very bad state.

More than 400 sq kilometres (150 sq miles) in the region are flooded, according to satellite images taken by the EU, and in some places the water is six metres (19ft) deep. At least 600,000 people are affected, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), ranging from those whose lives are in immediate danger to those who need other kinds of aid.

A Brief History of Trump’s Feud With John McCain
From life until after death.

D.C. is being hit by an unprecedented wave of gentrification

About 40 percent of the District’s lower-income neighborhoods experienced gentrification between 2000 and 2013, giving the city the greatest “intensity of gentrification” of any in the country, according to a studyreleased Tuesday by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

The District also saw the most African American residents — more than 20,000 — displaced from their neighborhoods during that time, mostly by affluent, white newcomers, researchers said. The District and Philadelphia were most “notable” for displacements of black residents, while Denver and Austin had the most Hispanic residents move. Nationwide, nearly 111,000 African Americans and more than 24,000 Hispanics moved out of gentrifying neighborhoods, the study found.

In an essay accompanying the study, Sabiyha Prince of Empower DC said the city “rolled out the proverbial red carpet” for tens of thousands of new residents in the past five years. But the new dog parks, bike lanes, condominiums and pricey restaurants that followed, she said, are not viewed as improvements by long-term residents, who can feel isolated because of losing neighbors, social networks and local businesses. Prince, an anthropologist, said longtime Washingtonians tell stories of “alienation and vulnerability in the nation’s capital.”

Trump Is Somehow Still Mad About McCain’s Funeral
“I didn’t get, ‘Thank you,’ but that’s okay.”
voting rights
voting rights
Andrew Gillum’s Next Campaign: Registering Voters in Florida
Both Gillum and the Florida Democratic Party are aiming to register droves of voters, as the GOP focuses on limiting who can vote in 2020.

There’s a morbid Yakov Smirnoff joke in here somewhere

i asked Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova if she supports russians’ right to satirise their leaders and laugh at president putin if they wish. she looked mystified. “We do not have this tradition.”

This says something about the Democratic Party’s relationship to Israel right now

The liberal group MoveOn is calling on Democratic presidential candidates to skip this year’s AIPAC policy conference, citing its links to the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu and charging that AIPAC has flirted with Islamophobia.

The move underscores a growing willingness on the Democratic left to criticize Israel and its staunchest Washington supporters, particularly since freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) bashed supporters of Israel in terms widely condemned as anti-Semitic.

“It’s no secret that that AIPAC has worked to hinder diplomatic efforts like the Iran deal, is undermining Palestinian self-determination, and inviting figures actively involved in human rights violations to its stage,” said Iram Ali, Campaign Director at MoveOn Political Action, in a statement provided first to POLITICO. Ali said the move should “give a clear insight to 2020 candidates on where their base stands instead of prioritizing lobbying groups and policy people who rarely step outside of D.C.”

Pelosi’s stance on impeachment may have had an effect on voters

Trump Should Be Impeached
And Removed From Office

Now 36%
December 43%
September 47%
June 42%

How Much Is Trump Doing
To Cooperate With
Dem Investigations?

Too much 9%
Too little 53%
The right amount 32%
white supremacy
white supremacy
Racism Is Good at Hiding. Just Ask This White Nationalist Police Officer.
A school resource officer in Virginia is also a member of Identity Evropa. His job? To help bigots conceal their bigotry from the public.

What would presidential campaigns look like without the electoral college?

Will the EU go for this?

JUST IN: UK Prime Minister says Britain will not leave EU on March 29, says not prepared to delay #Brexit any further than June 30
vision 2020
vision 2020
Mike Gravel, an 88-Year-Old Dark Horse 2020 Candidate Who’s a Hit With the Teens
Gravel has always been unconventional, going back to his days as a high-profile Senate opponent of the Vietnam War.
ex-felon voting rights
ex-felon voting rights
Florida GOP Readies Poll Tax to Nullify Ex-Felons’ Voting Rights
Floridians voted to re-enfranchise the formerly incarcerated last fall. Republicans want to make them pay off all court fines and fees first.

Ok, that’s a pretty good line

“I remember when a man named Dukakis got into a tank,” Trump says at the tank plant in Ohio. “He tanked when he got into the tank. … How would I look in a tank? OK? Yeah? … The helmet was bigger than he was, that was not good.”

Famous last words?

“I don’t see the current wage situation as concerning from an inflation standpoint.” –Jerome Powell

Beavis? Butthead?

“What’s his name in Texas? Beevo?” Johnny Isakson says on Georgia Public Broadcasting.

“Beto,” the host says

Hard to believe, considering the Trump administration’s well-known commitment to promoting progress on gender and equality around the globe

Dozens of women have been denied visas to attend a major UN women’s conference in New York.

According to campaigners, women from African and Middle Eastern countries that fell under Donald Trump’s travel ban were disproportionately affected.

The US is obliged under a 70-year-old treaty to not restrict people or NGOs from attending the UN headquarters.

In protest, women’s rights campaigners are petitioning the US Mission to the UN to streamline visa procedures for those traveling to the UN.

early and often
early and often
Bernie Sanders Is Hiring a Former Hillary Clinton Staffer As Research Chief
Tyson Brody helped pull together Clinton’s opposition-research book on Sanders in 2016.

A disturbing discovery in South Korea

Around 1,600 people have been secretly filmed in hotel rooms in South Korea, with the footage live-streamed online for paying customers to watch, police said Wednesday.

Two men have been arrested and another pair investigated in connection with the scandal, which involved 42 rooms in 30 accommodations in 10 cities around the country. Police said there was no indication the businesses were complicit in the scheme.

… Cameras were hidden inside digital TV boxes, wall sockets and hairdryer holders and the footage was streamed online, the Cyber Investigation Department at the National Police Agency said in a statement.

The site had more than 4,000 members, 97 of whom paid a $44.95 monthly fee to access extra features, such as the ability to replay certain live streams. Between November 2018 and this month, police said, the service brought in upwards of $6,000.

An update on the White House marital drama no one asked for

Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday defended President Donald Trump’s attacks on her husband George Conway saying he’s “a counterpuncher” and asserting that the president is free to respond when he’s accused of having a mental illness.

“He left it alone for months out of respect for me,” Conway, a senior Trump aide, told POLITICO in a brief telephone interview. “But you think he shouldn’t respond when somebody, a non-medical professional accuses him of having a mental disorder? You think he should just take that sitting down?”

“Don’t play psychiatrist any more than George should be,” she added. “You’re not a psychiatrist and he’s not, respectfully.”

yell world
yell world
Why Everyone Is Yelling at Their Phones for Fun
Thanks to screen-recording features on iOS and social media platforms, the game you play by yelling at your phone has had a surprise resurgence.
2020 presidential election
2020 presidential election
Could Joe Biden and Stacey Abrams Form an Early Dream Ticket for 2020?
There’s no real evidence to suggest it’s in the works, but it’s a fascinating possibility that could appeal to both pols.

Area man wakes up from two-year nap

Trump: Mueller is – “out of the blue” – writing a report.
select all
select all
Take a Look at Very Funny Candidate Kirsten Gillibrand’s Meme Shirt
The New York senator and 2020 presidential candidate is back in Iowa and paying tribute to “Ranch Girl.”
devin nunes
devin nunes
The Devin Nunes Cow Account Now Has More Followers Than Devin Nunes
The congressman sued the account, along with others, for making fun of him. Who could have guessed that it would backfire?