Tag Archives: Hole

The Hole in the Impeachment Case

The Hole in the Impeachment CaseThought experiment No. 1: Suppose Bob Mueller’s probe actually proves that Donald Trump is under Vladimir Putin’s thumb. Fill in the rest of the blanks with your favorite corruption fantasy: The Kremlin has video of the mogul-turned-president debauching himself in a Moscow hotel; the Kremlin has a bulging file of real-estate transfers through which Trump laundered racketeering proceeds for Putin’s favored mobsters and oligarchs; or Trump is recorded cutting a deal to drop Obama-era sanctions against Putin’s regime if Russian spies hack Democratic accounts.Thought experiment No. 2: Adam Schiff is not a demagogue. (Remember, this is fantasy.) At the very first televised hearing, when he alleged that President Trump told Ukrainian president Zelensky, “I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent . . . lots of it,” Schiff was not defrauding the public. Instead, impeachment’s Inspector Clouseau can actually prove that Trump was asking a foreign government to manufacture out of whole cloth evidence that Vice President Biden and his son were cashing in on the former’s political influence (as opposed to asking that Ukraine look into an arrangement so objectively sleazy that the Obama administration itself agitated over what to do about it).What do these two scenarios have in common, besides being fictional? Answer: If either of them were real, we’d already be talking about President Pence’s upcoming State of the Union address.This is the point that gets lost in all the endless chatter over impeachment strategy and procedure. Everything that is happening owes to the fact that we do not have an offense sufficiently grave for invocation of the Constitution’s nuclear option. If we had one, the machinations and the posturing would be unnecessary — even ridiculous.Why are we talking about how Chairman Schiff, Speaker Pelosi, and House Democrats rushed through the impeachment inquiry without making a real effort to interview key witnesses?Why was the Democrats’ impeachment gambit driven by the election calendar rather than the nature of the president’s offense? Why were the timing of hearings and the unreasonable limits imposed on Republicans’ ability to call witnesses dictated by the frantic rush to get done before Christmas recess — to the point that Democrats cynically vacated a subpoena they’d served on a relevant administration witness, fearing a few weeks of court battles that they might lose?Why did Democrats grope from week to week in a struggle over what to call the misconduct they accused the president of committing – campaign finance, extortion, quid pro quo, bribery? How did they end up with an amorphous “abuse of power” case? How did they conclude that an administration that goes to court rather than instantly surrendering potentially privileged information commits obstruction?Why such tedious recriminations over adoption of Senate procedures that were approved by a 100–0 vote the last time there was an impeachment trial? Why all the kvetching over whether witnesses will be called when those procedures provide for the calling of witnesses in the likely event that 51 senators — after hearing nearly two weeks of presentation and argument from both sides — want to hear from one or two of them?Why, with Election Day only ten months away, would Speaker Pelosi stoke an impeachment vote that could be perilous for many of her members, on the insistence that Trump was such a clear and present danger she could brook no delay, but then . . . sit on the impeachment articles for a month, accomplishing nothing in the interim except to undermine the presidential bids of several Senate Democrats, who will be trapped in Washington when they should be out campaigning with Iowa’s caucuses just two weeks away?None of this would have happened if there had been a truly impeachable offense.Adam Schiff is a smart guy. He did not idly dream up a “make up dirt” parody. He framed it because he knows that’s the kind of misconduct you would need to prove to warrant impeachment and removal of a president. In fact, Schiff could never prove that, but he figured parody is good enough for 2020 campaign purposes — and that’s what this exercise is all about.If collusion with Russia had been fact rather than farce, Trump would never have made it to an impeachment trial. He’d have had to resign, Prior to November 8, 2016, Republicans were not the ones in need of convincing that Russia was a dangerous geopolitical threat. If it had been real collusion that brought Democrats around to that conclusion, the votes to impeach and remove would have been overwhelming.And the timing would have been irrelevant. If Americans had been seized by a truly impeachable offense, it would not matter whether Election Day was two years, two months, or two weeks away. The public and the political class would not tolerate an agent of the Kremlin in the Oval Office.If there were such egregious misconduct that the public was convinced of the need to remove Trump, such that two-thirds of the Senate would ignore partisan ties and do just that, there would be no partisan stunts. Democratic leaders would have worked cooperatively with their GOP counterparts, as was done in prior impeachments. They would have told the president: “Sure, you can have your lawyers here, and call whatever witnesses you want.” There would be a bipartisan sense that the president had done profound wrong. There would be a sense of history, not contest. Congressional leaders would want to be remembered as statesmen, not apparatchiks.If there were a real impeachable offense, there would be no fretting about witnesses at the trial. Senate leaders would be contemplating that, after hearing the case extensively presented by both sides, there might well be enough votes to convict without witnesses. But if there were an appetite for witnesses, witnesses would be called . . . as they were in Watergate. And just as in Watergate, if the president withheld vital evidence of appalling lawlessness, the public would not be broadly indifferent to administration stonewalling.If there were an obviously impeachable offense, the garrisons of Fort Knox could not have stopped Nancy Pelosi from personally marching impeachment articles into the Senate the second the House had adopted them — in what would have been an overwhelming bipartisan vote (of the kind that Pelosi, not long ago, said would be imperative for a legitimate impeachment effort).The Framers expected presidents to abuse their powers from time to time. And not just presidents. Our Constitution’s theory of the human condition, and thus of governance, is that power is apt to corrupt anyone. It needs to be divided, and the peer components need to be incentivized to check each other. The operating assumption is that, otherwise, one component would accumulate too much power and inevitably fall prey to the tyrannical temptation. But as Madison observed, men are not angels. Separation of powers arms us against inevitable abuse, it does not prevent abuse from happening. Abuse is a given: Congress uses lawmaking power to encroach on the other branches’ prerogatives; judges legislate from the bench, presidents leverage their awesome powers for political advantage. The expectation is not that government officials will never overreach; it is that when one branch does overreach, the others will bring it into line.That is the norm: corrective action or inaction, political pressure, naming and shaming, power of the purse, and so on. We expect to criticize, inveigh, even censure. We don’t leap from abuse to expulsion. We don’t expect routinely to expel members of Congress or impeach presidents and judges. That is reserved for historically extraordinary wrongs.On Ukraine, nothing of consequence came of President Trump’s bull-in-a-china-shop excesses. Sure, they ought to be a 2020 campaign issue. Democrats, instead, would have us exaggerate them into historically extraordinary wrongs. For that, you need gamesmanship. If there were real impeachable misconduct, there would be no time or place for games.



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2 murder suspects pulled off a 'Shawshank Redemption'-style escape by squeezing through a hole cut in a bathroom ceiling

2 murder suspects pulled off a 'Shawshank Redemption'-style escape by squeezing through a hole cut in a bathroom ceilingSantos Samuel Fonseca and Jonathan Salazarhe are awaiting trial over two separate killings. They escaped from Monterey County Jail on Sunday morning.



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The Latest: 2 inmates escaped jail through hole in ceiling

The Latest: 2 inmates escaped jail through hole in ceilingAuthorities say two inmates accused of murder escaped a central California jail over the weekend through a hole they made in a bathroom ceiling that's in a blind spot from the guards. Monterey County sheriff's Capt. John Thornburg said Monday that 21-year-old Santos Fonseca and 20-year-old Jonathan Salazar climbed through the hole measuring about 8 inches (20 centimeters) tall and 22 inches (56 centimeters) wide, slipped into the walls of the county jail and made it outside Sunday.



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Caught in the act: a black hole rips apart an unfortunate star

Caught in the act: a black hole rips apart an unfortunate starScientists have captured a view of a colossal black hole violently ripping apart a doomed star, illustrating a extraordinary and chaotic cosmic event from beginning to end for the first time using NASA’s planet-hunting telescope. The U.S. space agency’s orbiting Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, better known as TESS, revealed the detailed timeline of a star 375 million light-years away warping and spiraling into the unrelenting gravitational pull of a supermassive black hole, researchers said on Thursday. The star, roughly the same size as our sun, was eventually sucked into oblivion in a rare cosmic occurrence that astronomers call a tidal disruption event, they added.



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Russia says it won’t tell NASA why a hole appeared in the International Space Station

Russia says it won’t tell NASA why a hole appeared in the International Space StationThe mystery of why a small hole appeared in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft attached to the International Space Station last year is now somehow even more bizarre than it already was. The hole, which was detected by the crew and patched in space, sparked investigations by Russia's Roscosmos and NASA, with both agencies vowing to get to the bottom of how such a thing could have happened.Now, after months of silence, Roscosmos boss Dmitry Rogozin says he knows how it happened, but that NASA will never find out. It's a bizarre state of affairs that highlights the odd tension that has been building between NASA and the Russian space agency for some time.Initially thought to be the result of a tiny space rock or other debris slamming into the space station at high speeds, it later became clear that the hole had been drilled into the side of the spacecraft. Russia set out to determine when the hole was created, and since it was clear that it wasn't drilled in space, figuring out who drilled the hole back on Earth was a top priority.Early reports out of Russia claimed that a culprit had been determined, but nothing really came of those reports and we never learned of anyone being charged with sabotaging the mission. Had it been merely an accident, it could have been easily explained, but Russia refuses to reveal what actually happened.This is sadly not surprising. Roscosmos has been increasingly moody as of late, and with NASA no longer wanting to pay for seats aboard the Soyuz crew launches to the ISS, and planning on using SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's Starliner in the near future, the Russian space program appears to be taking it personally."What happened is clear to us, but we won't tell you anything," Rogozin said in an interview with the state-run news outlet RIA Novosti.This sounds pretty sketchy, but it fits perfectly with Russia's well-documented inferiority complex. The country has long demonstrated a complete inability to admit when something doesn't go according to plan. The decades-old disaster at Chernobyl is obviously the most glaring example, but it's clearly still happening today.Earlier this summer, Russia refused to provide information about a missile explosion that killed at least five scientists, instead choosing to downplay the severity of the incident. With that in mind, holding on to secrets about a hole that mysteriously appeared on the side of a space station used by scientists from Russia, the United States, and several other countries seems perfectly mundane by comparison.In all likelihood, Roscosmos discovered the cause of the damage and, because the truth will make the agency look foolish and incompetent, Rogozin would rather just pretend that it never happened.



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A Neutron Star Might Have Just Collided with a Black Hole

A Neutron Star Might Have Just Collided with a Black HoleScientists are comparing the historic explosion to "the night before Christmas."



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Scientists detect a black hole swallowing a neutron star 'like Pac-man'

Scientists detect a black hole swallowing a neutron star 'like Pac-man'For the first time, scientists have detected a black hole devouring a neutron star, according to a report released Monday.



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The black hole at the center of our galaxy just lit up twice as bright as ever. Who knows why

The black hole at the center of our galaxy just lit up twice as bright as ever. Who knows whyAstronomers observing the black hole at the center of our galaxy watched it light up with "unprecedented brightness." And they aren't sure why.



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Trump's response to the weekend massacres show he is an ethical black hole

Trump's response to the weekend massacres show he is an ethical black holeTrump is playing the country like he’s a conductor of a symphony of racist violence‘Under this president, people are now afraid to go the hospital or to go the police.’ Photograph: Susan Walsh/APDonald Trump continues to play his cynical game of dodging responsibility, shifting blame and exploiting tragedy. In a press conference called to address the horrors of two mass shootings in the United States over the past weekend, the president said nothing about his pivotal role in stoking fear and racism among certain segments of the population, said nothing about the fact that five of the 10 deadliest shootings in American history have happened since 2016, the fact that he has become a figurehead in the dark underground of the global white nationalist movement.Instead, Trump blamed the internet, blamed video games, blamed Congress and blamed “mental health issues”. By tying legislation for tougher gun laws to immigration reform, as he tweeted earlier, Trump also and by extension blamed immigrants, who themselves are the victims of the very racism that has been unleashed by this president.With this ethical black hole of leadership and narcissistic exploitation of other people’s tragedy, Trump proves once again – as if we needed any more proof – that he is unfit for the office he occupies. But the tragedy is larger than his job. It’s also what he’s doing to our country.How are we, the ordinary people of this country, supposed to go about our daily lives in this country any more? The victims in Ohio were doing nothing but enjoying themselves before they were gunned down. The killed and wounded in El Paso were doing nothing but back-to-school shopping.Nor does it stop there. Last April, people were terrorized in Poway, California, when a shooter entered their synagogue as they were celebrating Passover and began firing. And at least since last March, when a suspected white supremacist stormed two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 people, American Muslims have congregated more nervously, increasing security at their mosques around the country. If you think the New Zealand connection is far afield from the American context, note that both the alleged Poway and El Paso shooters referenced the New Zealand shooter directly and favorably in their own manifestos.“In general, I support the Christchurch shooter and his manifesto,” the alleged El Paso shooter’s manifesto says. “This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me.” The rhetoric here sounds suspiciously like the president’s, who for months, had been tweeting and shrieking about the so-called caravan being “an invasion of our country”. Trump even laughed at the suggestion that migrants should be shot.Such is the world of ideas that circulate dangerously and freely today. Hispanics are invaders, says the suspected El Paso shooter. Muslims want to “replace” white people, according to the accused Christchurch shooter. Jews are determined to “enslave” all the other races, proclaims the alleged Poway shooter. All of these notions are as ridiculous as they are noxious.But while such ideas can be easily dismissed, their real-world consequences cannot. When will the next shooting happen? And who will be its target? The world of the rightwing extremist is populated by too many enemies. Muslims, Latinxs, Jews, immigrants, African Americans, refugees, women. And who will the president blame next?Probably those with mental disabilities, but the idea that mass shooter phenomenon is “a mental illness problem” is another Trumpian sleight of hand. Not only does such a notion deflect responsibility from his own racist statements and actions (and not only does it conveniently forget that in 2018 Trump himself made it easier for people with mental illness to buy guns), but it also advances a dangerous falsehood. In fact, there is no scientifically discernible link between gun violence and mental illness. But with Trump making the link loudly and publicly, those with mental disabilities become even more vulnerable.In fact, Trump is playing the country like he’s a conductor of a symphony of racist violence. Each of us has come to know a particular fear under him, and he draws it out of us when he wants. Muslims have learned to prepare for violence against them when the president tweets or retweets Islamophobic content. Immigrants – including legal permanent residents, for God’s sake – are being told to live in constant fear of Ice raids and immigration detention. Jewish Americans worry about attending their synagogues. Refugees are told they will be sent back.Trump waves his baton, and the racism sings.Nor is this just a matter of perception or limited to the violent acts of the extreme fringe. Reports in El Paso indicate that some people avoided seeking medical care or approaching authorities to find their loved one because of their immigration status, leading the West Texas wing of the Customs and Border Protection to tweet: “We are not conducting enforcement operations at area hospitals, the family reunification center or shelters. We stand in support of our community.”Under this president, people are now afraid to go the hospital or to go the police. We are being taught to be afraid of the very institutions that have been created to protect us.Enough of this bloody, miserable and discordant concert of death and hatred. The basic answers are not difficult. We need fewer guns. We need less racism. We need a different president. * Moustafa Bayoumi is the author of the award-winning books How Does It Feel To Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America. He is professor of English at Brooklyn College, City University of New York



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Star orbiting massive black hole lends support to Einstein's theory

Star orbiting massive black hole lends support to Einstein's theoryObservations of light coming from a star zipping in orbit around the humongous black hole at the center of our galaxy have provided fresh evidence backing Albert Einstein’s 1915 theory of general relativity, astronomers said on Thursday. Researchers studied a star called S0-2, boasting a mass roughly 10 times larger than the sun, as it travels in an elliptical orbit lasting 16 years around the supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A* residing at the center of the Milky Way 26,000 light years from Earth. The famed theoretical physicist proposed the theory, considered one of the pillars of science, to explain the laws of gravity and their relation to other natural forces.



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