December 10, 2018 in 2,225 words

To set my mood:

The Dangerous ‘New Phase’ for Donald Trump

The incoming House Judiciary chairman says the president has allegedly been involved in “massive frauds against the American people”

Above: Representative Jerry Nadler

The talk on the Sunday morning shows took an ominous turn for the president after a week in which court filings put him in the middle of pre-election hush-money payments by his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, and in interactions by Cohen with Russians during the 2016 campaign. Suddenly, the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that had been focused on possible campaign collusion with Russia and obstruction of justice had expanded and entered what one senator called a “new phase” that left members of both parties discussing the prospects for impeachment.

“What these indictments and filings show is that the president was at the center of several massive frauds against the American people,” said Representative Jerry Nadler, the New York Democrat who in January will take over the House Judiciary Committee, where any impeachment proceedings would begin. He said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union that if Cohen’s allegations prove true about Trump’s direct involvement in pre-election payoffs to silence two women who alleged affairs with the president—payments prosecutors said constituted campaign-finance felonies—“they would be impeachable offenses. Whether they are important enough to justify an impeachment is a different question.”

Nadler said he disagrees with the Justice Department’s long-standing assessment, expressed in a series of memos going back to the Nixon administration, that sitting presidents cannot face criminal indictment. “This country originated in a rebellion against the English king,” he argued. “We did not seek to create another king. Nobody, not the president, not anybody else, can be above the law.” But given those guidelines, Nadler said a few days ago that he’s considering legislation to put a hold on the statute of limitations for sitting presidents, keeping Trump eligible for prosecution after he leaves office. Of course, any such bill would be controversial in the House and almost certainly dead on arrival in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat poised to take over the House Intelligence Committee, also said last week’s filings were bad news for the president. “There’s a very real prospect that on the day Donald Trump leaves office, the Justice Department may indict him,” the former federal prosecutor said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “He may be the first president in quite some time to face the real prospect of jail time. … This was the argument for putting Michael Cohen in jail on these campaign violations. That argument, I think, was equally made with respect to Individual-1, the president of the United States.”

Robert Reich:
Trump’s China tariffs are a regressive tax on Americans and risk a recession

By imposing tariffs, Trump has in effect raised taxes on most Americans and made them poorer

Donald Trump America’s Shithole tweeted last week: ‘I am a Tariff Man.’

“I am a Tariff Man,” Trump tweeted last week. “When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so…. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN.”

I’m sorry, Mr President, but you got this wrong. Tariffs are paid by American consumers. About half the $200bn worth of goods you’ve already put tariffs on come almost exclusively from China, which means American consumers are taking a hit this holiday season.

These tariffs function exactly like taxes. By imposing them, you have in effect raised taxes on most Americans. You have made Americans poorer.

Worse yet, they’re regressive. The middle class and poor pay a larger percentage of their incomes on these tariffs than do the rich.

I needn’t remind you that your Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, passed last year, slashed taxes on big corporations and the rich by about $150bn annually. You claimed it would cause companies to invest more in America and thereby create more American jobs. They didn’t. (See General Motors.)

They spent most of their tax savings buying back their own shares of stock. This gave the stock market a steroidal boost. Not surprisingly, the boost was temporary.

John Kelly is just the latest victim of Trump’s dumpster fire of calamities

The chief of staff is fired or retired or whatever. The only certainty is that another enabler has been brutally tossed aside.

John Kelly watches as Donald Trump America’s Shithole talks to the media.

It has been a busy few days for Donald Trump. A new attorney general here, a new UN ambassador there. All that legal stuff about his felonies in the 2016 election and “synergy” with the Russian government.

What’s a guy to do?

Fire someone, obviously. If there’s one thing Trump knows how to do, it’s pretending like he knows how to wield power in front of the gawking media. It worked pretty well on The Apprentice, projecting the image of power onto the boss of a small-time real-estate business with multiple bankruptcies.

But at this mid-life crisis stage of a catastrophically doomed presidency, there aren’t that many people worth firing anymore.

So it came to pass that John Kelly found himself dumped on the Trump sidewalk of history, a throwaway tidbit of news in a dumpster fire of calamities. Trump’s face-palming chief of staff was just another casualty of this president’s dismal need to destroy the reputations of those who come too close.

“John Kelly will be leaving,” he told reporters on the south lawn of the White House before flying off to see the Army v Navy football game.

“I don’t know if I can say ‘retiring,” he explained, slamming the door into Kelly’s back as he shoved him out of the West Wing. He couldn’t say retiring and he couldn’t say firing. Either way he said both, in passing, and without the man present to witness his own humiliation.

5 Ways Your Phone Is Secretly Destroying Your Life

We promise that we’re not going to lecture you about how smartphones are evil and society used to be better off in the good old days, when if you got a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, you just laid down and died, as God intended. Hell, this entire article was typed on a phone in between Pokemon encounters. But because we use our phones so much, there are a few issues we should try to look out for. Such as …

5. Excessive Smartphone Use Makes You A Distant Parent

Any parent could tell you that toddlers are full of whiny demands like “I need food” or “I need love” or “I need you to rescue me from this rabid dog.” Smartphones offer parents a reprieve from the stresses of child-rearing, but study after study suggests those reprieves need to be taken in moderation, unless you want to raise a child who’s more attached to Fortnite than you.

For starters, infants and toddlers were found to be more emotionally distressed and less likely to explore their environments when their mothers were on their phones. In fact, excessive phone use was considered a form of “maternal withdrawal and unresponsiveness.”

That problem continues into tweenhood, where 32 percent of children aged eight to 13 reported feeling unimportant when their parents used their phones during dinner, conversations, and other family occasions, and over half the children in the study felt that their parents used their phones too much in general. Another study suggested that kids were more likely to act out to get the attention of a phone-using parent, while the parents were more likely to be irritable in their responses, feeding a negative cycle.

One with a frankly unsurprising end.

We’re not implying that your children will grow up to be emotionally stunted criminals if you check your phone too many times during their band recital, but it is important to set clear boundaries, and leave your phone alone during family game night.

Researchers are keeping a cave’s location secret to thwart Instagram tourists


No selfies allowed.

Researchers and geologists have found an enormous cave, complete with a rushing river fed by two melting glaciers, in British Columbia’s Wells Gray Provincial Park, but they’re not sharing exactly where.

“As far as North America goes, this is a honking-big cave,” John Pollack, governor of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, told the New York Times (paywall). Until consulting with indigenous people of the area, the researchers are calling the cave “Sarlacc’s Pit,” an homage to a creature in Star Wars that lived in the Great Pit of Carkoon and digested its prey over a thousand years .

The real-life cave was found by researchers who, while conducting a caribou census, noticed something that looked like a black hole in the countryside from their helicopter, according to the Times. They sent photos to geologist Catherine Hickson, who quietly built a team of five researchers, including Pollack. That team took a helicopter to the site, and found that the water emerges from the cave more than a mile below the opening.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: Due to Instagram tourists and amateur climbers, the Canadian researchers don’t want to share the giant pit’s exact location.

Scientists solved a decades-old swamp-monster mystery in Florida


Meet the creature once thought to be a myth.

Until now, the reticulated siren was just a rumor.

A mythical and mysterious swamp monster—also known as a species of giant salamander—the reticulated siren is found in the shallow freshwater marshes of Florida and Alabama, and locally known as a “leopard eel.” Rarely spotted and never previously studied by herpetologists, the siren made its scientific debut on Dec. 5.

In a study in Plos One, researchers from Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center in Jekyll, Georgia, described, classified, and named the salamander species for the first time, placing it in the Siren family. The first such giant salamander was captured in 1970, and was at the time suspected to be an undescribed new species. But few of them have been seen since, so there hasn’t been any formal work in the intervening half-century.

This strange giant salamander has a slimy spotted body that extends about two feet. It has two forelegs, no back legs, and a set of gills that fan out like leaves just behind its head. Basically, it looks like a long eel—hence the local moniker—but is in fact the largest species of salamander discovered in the past 100 years in the US.

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

Michael Kosta heads to Switzerland to find out how the country can have so many guns without having a mass shooting crisis like the United States.

THANKS to Comedy Central and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah for making this program available on YouTube.

Head to our instagram @fullfrontalsamb to get your chance to win something from our AdVENT calendar. The comments are a safe space but also a lucrative one!

THANKS to TBS and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee for making this program available on YouTube.

Hasan Minhaj further dissects the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia in the wake of the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and examines the connection between American weapons and the mass starvation and destruction occurring in the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

THANKS to NETFLIX and Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj for making this program available on YouTube.

CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.

Welcome to Mega Compilation #8 featuring a balloon hitting championship, a baby bear struggling up a mountain, and a captivating life raft rescue. Cheers!


A New Mobile App Allows Tourists to Explore the Effects of Atomic War in Hiroshima

Some say it tells an incomplete story.

The Genbaku Dome in Hiroshima.

AT 8:15 IN THE MORNING on August 9, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped by the U.S. military on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, instantly killing tens of thousands of people. Many people became sick due to radiation, and the final death toll rose to 135,000—although some estimate it much higher.

More than 70 years later, the city has mostly recovered from the blast, but its legacy remains. The Genbaku Dome, now called the “A-bomb dome,” is a skeleton in the middle of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, a constant reminder of the day war laid the city to waste.

The city of Hiroshima wants tourists who visit the city to see for themselves the consequences of atomic war. In October, they released Hiroshima Peace Tourism, an interactive map that allows visitors to see specific sites affected by the bomb. The mobile app has four walking and bus tours of the city, ranging in length from three to eight hours, with routes that stop by memorials, cultural centers, museums, and wrecked buildings. For each site, the app provides the story of the place as well as pre- and post-bomb photos.

The app lists how far each site was from the hypocenter of the bomb. For example, Fukuro-machi Elementary School was 1,500 feet away. After impact, the gutted school became an evacuation shelter and first-aid station. The site is now a Peace Museum, and visitors can see scrawled messages on the walls of the stairways, where survivors kept track of who was alive and who was missing.

Ed. More tomorrow? Possibly. Maybe. Probably Not? Groundhog Day.