Tue, May

Pot Is Edging Out Alcohol and Cigarettes as the Teenage Drug of Choice. Is That a Good Thing?

INTEL REPORT--Cigarettes and alcohol have long been the preferred gateway drugs for teenagers. And the consequences—particularly for alcohol—have been dire. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol plays a role in 4,358 deaths every year for people under 21. Meanwhile, teenage smoking contributes to early heart disease, the leading cause of death in America.

But the addiction landscape could be changing. According to new research published by professors at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, adolescents are increasingly trying pot before alcohol or cigarettes.

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A Look at Trump’s ‘A-plus’ Weekend: Finnish Leaf-Raking, ‘Pleasure,’ Calif., and Adam ‘Schitt’

INTEL REPORT--Asked how he would grade his presidency during a Sunday morning interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News, President Trump offered only the smallest amount of hesitation before giving himself top marks. 

“Look, I hate to do it, but I will do it, I would give myself an A-plus,” he answered. “Is that enough? Can I go higher than that?” 

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Feeding You the Truth about Thanksgiving

GUEST WORDS--Each year we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November — we eat turkey, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes to commemorate the 1621 feast at which Pilgrims and Wampanoags peacefully gathered in Plymouth, Massachusetts.

And every year since, Americans have put aside their own family feuds and followed strict traditions to show their appreciation for everything they have. At least that’s the narrative most of us have been taught.

But as it turns out, Thanksgiving might not actually be as rich in objective historical context and deep-rooted traditions as we’d like to believe.

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US Faces Biggest National Security Risk in Decades

INTEL REPORT--“The security and well-being of the United States are at greater risk than at any time in decades. America’s military superiority — the hard-power backbone of its global influence and national security — has eroded to a dangerous degree.” 

So begins a recently published assessment from the National Defense Strategy Commission on the state of the country’s national defense. The bi-partisan, congressionally empowered commission goes on to the paint a picture of a US military unprepared to meet the challenges of resurgent threats, one that would “struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia.” Even such calamities as a Chinese invasion of Taiwan or a North Korea missile strike on South Korea may catch the US flat-footed. (As if to illustrate this point, the Russian military succeeded in jamming GPS signals during a major NATO military exercise in Norway today.) 

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Erdogan’s Hooligans Came Knocking On NYU’s Doors

WORLD WATCH--Last week I conducted a panel discussion about Turkey under the leadership of President Tayyip Erdogan. The day before the event, we were alerted that several of Erdogan’s stooges will await us to disrupt the event, and we feared that violence may erupt. Earlier in the morning, NYU received a letter from one of the Turkish dictator’s hawkish activists, warning that NYU should not hold such an event. We ended up hiring security guards to ensure our safety, right here in New York, from Turkish thugs operating at the behest of a despot who is leading his blind followers like sheep.

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FBI Raids Home, Offices of LA Councilman Jose Huizar


INTEL REPORT--The scene could have been out of a movie: more than a dozen FBI agents striding out of elevators on the fourth floor of Los Angeles City Hall and descending on the office of Councilman Jose Huizar. 

By lunchtime Wednesday, federal investigators had served search warrants on Huizar’s City Hall suite, one of his field offices and his Spanish Colonial Revival residence in Boyle Heights, carrying boxes of materials from at least two of those locations.

The agents’ coordinated operation, described by neighbors and a handful of city employees, delivered a serious jolt to City Hall, which has not experienced such a flurry of investigative activity in more than a decade. 

The searches pose, at minimum, a serious political threat to Huizar, a City Hall veteran who is working to elect his wife, Richelle Huizar, to his Eastside council seat. (Read more.) 



Downey, CA Republicans Could Lose Up to Four More House Seats


California Republicans lost two House seats in Tuesday’s midterm election and could surrender more as tens of thousands of ballots are counted in four other contests that remain too close to call.

The party has an exceedingly small chance of holding the seats of Reps. Dana Rohrabacher and Jeff Denham, historical voting patterns suggest. Two other Republicans, Rep. Mimi Walters and Young Kim of Fullerton, hold thin leads over their opponents that could also vanish.  (Read the rest.)  






Inglewood Business is Cesspool of Lead Contamination and Illegal Immigration

INTEL REPORT--A local Inglewood business, with close ties to Inglewood Mayor James Butts is under scrutiny by claims made by current employees.  Employees feared being identified in this 2UrbanGirls article out of fear of retaliation by the well-connected business owner Daniel Kash.   

Mr. Kash has been able to leverage over $50,000 on the books donations to Mayor Butts to be awarded expedited permitting, reduction of city business taxes and lax inspections by local authorities of his $40 million-dollar operation. 

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#MeToo Will Not Survive Unless We Recognize Toxic Femininity

INTEL REPORT--Sometimes I wish I could gather up all the women I’ve ever known, or encountered, and conduct this informal poll:

Raise your hand if you’ve ever behaved badly and blamed it on your period.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever acted helpless in the face of an unpleasant-if-not-physically-demanding task like dealing with a wild animal that’s gotten inside the house.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever coerced a man into sex even though he didn’t seem to really want it.

Raise your hand if you’ve thought you were at liberty to do this coercing because men “always want it” and should feel lucky any time they get it.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever threatened to harm yourself if a man breaks up with you or doesn’t want to see you anymore.

Raise your hand if you’ve been physically abusive with a male partner, knowing you’d be unlikely to face any legal consequences.

Raise your hand if you’ve lied about being on birth control, or faked a pregnancy scare, to see how a man would respond.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever manipulated a divorce or child custody dispute in your favor by falsely insinuating that a man has been abusive toward you or your child.

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The More the President Decries Immigration, the More Americans Support It


INTEL REPORT--In tweets and campaign rallies in recent days, President Trump has returned to his signature cause of immigration, inveighing against drug traffickers and a caravan of immigrants.

Trump’s strategy makes perfect sense politically. He hopes to prod the Republican base to turn out in the midterms in November. One of the most effective ways to motivate political action is to stoke fears among your supporters.

Strikingly, however, public opinion data suggest that Trump has failed to convince the public on immigration and has even helped to turn the public against his positions — an effect that may grow stronger as his anti-immigration campaign intensifies.

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Discrimination, Retaliation and Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against LA City Councilmember Jose Huizar


INTEL REPORT--A civil lawsuit was filed yesterday against Los Angeles City Councilmember Jose Huizar, as well as against the City of Los Angeles, by Mayra Alvarez, Huizar’s former Executive Assistant and Scheduler, alleging that Huizar harassed and retaliated against her for speaking out about some of his and his office’s practices that she believed violated local, state, and federal laws. (Photo above: Huizar at podium.) 

Mrs. Alvarez also alleges that Huizar demoted her following Mrs. Alvarez’s return from maternity leave, a violation of state and federal laws prohibiting employers from punishing working women on account of pregnancy and for taking time off to recover from delivery and bond with their newborn. 

The case was filed in the Central Division of the Los Angeles County Superior Court and assigned case number 18STCV01722. 

Mrs. Alvarez’s lawsuit comes on the heels of the disclosure in recent weeks of another complaint of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation filed against Huizar through the MyVoiceLA, Mayor Eric Garcetti’s new website for staffers, city commissioners, and others to report workplace bias, retaliation and sexual harassment.  Mrs. Alvarez’s lawsuit is unrelated to that complaint.  

Huizar was previously sued in 2013 for sexual harassment by another former staffer, Francine Godoy.


(Mrs. Alvarez is represented by Terrence Jones, a former Assistant United States Attorney.  Please direct all inquiries to Mr. Jones at (213) 863-4490,[email protected].)




Deal Me Out: Trump’s Ego vs Earth

INTEL REPORT--We used to disparage someone by noting that their “ego is the size of Texas.” Does anyone say that about Trump? Yeah, no, Texas is tiny by comparison.
I can think of no one with a more vast lacuna between his abilities and accomplishments on the one side and his ego on the other.

A worldwide herculean effort finally produced the Paris Agreement as a moderate but highly necessary response to our fossil fuel profligacy and the climate chaos that has begun. Trump idiotically pulled out and the world is far worse off as an unhappy result. His deal? Pollute more, a lot more. We see more forest fires, more floods, more hurricanes and more intense hurricanes, rising seas, and more health issues from bad air. Thanks, Artful Dealer.

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Why isn’t Bitcoin Banned Everywhere?

INTEL REPORT--When I first heard of Bitcoin, it sounded like something out of a dystopian sci-fi novel. Digital, cryptographic, uncensorable money? It seemed such a radical idea, it couldn’t possibly belong in this decade. 

But if it did — if Bitcoin were to go mainstream — I was convinced it would lead to a massive geopolitical disruption, shifting the power relations between governments and their citizens. It would mean investing into Bitcoin would be like funding a revolutionary army. It would be so subversive, only a few crazy people would be willing to do it. 

Of course, I was wrong about every part of that. 

Grandmothers now own Bitcoin. And with a few notable exceptions (namely China and India), world governments have been surprisingly welcoming toward cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin is legal almost everywhere. 

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Evangelical’s Porn Viewing Is on the Rise


INTEL REPORT--At times, it feels like we're splitting into two separate societies, one of which is dominated by evangelical Christians. So it's reassuring to report that members of that faith tradition have something in common with their fellow Americans: They, too, are watching more pornography.

By their own account, American evangelicals are increasing porn viewership at virtually the same rate other Americans, University of Oklahoma researchers Samuel Perry and Cyrus Schleifer write in the journal Social Science Quarterly.

This rise is driven by people who identify as evangelicals, but do not attend services frequently. Among those who spent significant time in the pews, levels of porn consumption haven't moved from where they were three decades ago.

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Martinez Takes On Trump’s Public Charge Rule


INTEL REPORT—I am the author of a resolution by the Los Angeles City Council to oppose the administration's proposed rule change.

The Department of Homeland Security's proposed rule would have a devastating impact on the well-being of children and families in Los Angeles by punishing immigrants for providing food to their families, and who lawfully receive other public services.

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Bitcoin Soars, Advocates Seek to Head Off New Restrictions in 2018

INTEL REPORT--Bitcoin enthusiasts struck it rich this year as the cryptocurrency surged. Now they’re preparing for battle in Washington to protect their industry’s ascent.

Advocacy groups are gearing up in Washington for a lobbying push in 2018, looking to limit legislation that would subject cryptocurrencies to more regulation and change tax-reporting requirements. Organizations such as the Chamber of Digital Commerce, Coin Center Inc. and the Bitcoin Foundation say they’re concerned about stifling innovation.

Their top targets include a Senate bill that would include digital currency in an update of money-laundering laws, requiring more entities to police potentially illicit transactions. Some advocates are also backing a House bill that would exempt crypto transactions of up to $600 from capital-gains tax reporting.

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Trump’s Mocking of Kavanaugh Accuser ‘Just Plain Wrong’


INTEL REPORT--Two senators considered crucial to the confirmation prospects of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh criticized President Trump on Wednesday for mocking the account of a woman who has accused his Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault decades ago. 

“There’s no time and no place for remarks like that,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said on NBC’s “Today” show. “To discuss something this sensitive at a political rally is just not right. It’s just not right. I wish he hadn’t done it. . . . It’s kind of appalling.”

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3 More Lies Bitcoin Skeptics Tell Themselves

INTEL REPORT--It seemed like last week was the week of the bitcoin skeptic as everyone from Nobel-prize winning economist Paul Krugman to legendary investor George Soros had negative things to say about the world’s first and most well-known crypto asset.

Although the arguments against bitcoin keep coming, they haven’t evolved much since 2013, when the first major run-up in the price brought out all of the haters. With skepticism abound once again, I thought now would be a good time to cover three more lies bitcoin skeptics tell themselves.

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Critics Burn Burns

INTEL REPORT--Ken Burns has no patience for the people who pick apart his documentaries without having ever watched them. He’s talking about the eggheads, the “third- and fourth-rate academics,” the journalist sitting across from him in a French-American bistro in Manhattan, whom he accuses — falsely, I can report, since that journalist is me — of having prepared by Googling “controversy.”

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Intelligence Report: Ronan Farrow Stands Behind Reporting On Latest Brett Kavanaugh Accuser


‘WANTS TO BE FAIR’--Journalist Ronan Farrow hit the morning news circuit on Monday to support hisexplosive report of a second woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaughof sexual assault.

Farrow, whose article with Jane Mayer was published Sunday in The New Yorker, stood firm amid attacks on his work and said the story Deborah Ramirez told about Kavanaugh sexually assaulting her at a party when they were Yale students “exceeds the evidentiary basis we’ve used in the past in several cases that were found to be very credible.”

There’s a “fairly high level of evidence for this kind of a case” to be published, Farrow said on CNN’s “New Day.”  

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What Social Democracy and Socialism Are — And Aren’t


INTEL REPORT--I chuckle every time I hear it — which is every day, lately. “Denmark isn’t socialism! France isn’t socialist!! There’s no socialism in Europe!” So say American elites — pundits, columnists, usually men with earnest glasses. Have they been smoking too much capitalism?

They’re reacting to the dire prospect of socialism like priests who just met the devil — only the devil was busy saving souls from hell. They don’t quite know what to do with that. How to process it. They don’t even understand, funnily enough, just like those priests, whether or not to even call it “the devil” anymore. Hence: “Nothing’s socialism!! Nope!!” — how else to square the prospect of socialism rising amongst young Americans, except by denying it exists? “That’s not the devil!! — that’s just another cowboy!!” 

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Here’s How Sarah Huckabee Sanders Excuses Trump’s Conduct

INTEL REPORT--For a just-published profile of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the New Yorker’s Paige Williams got spotty cooperation. As it turns out, Sanders treats profile writers much the way she treats the press in her increasingly rare briefings. With a meddling touch, that is. Writes Williams: “Sanders may accept that she can’t control the questions she is asked, but she nevertheless tries to take control of every exchange. In her interactions with me, she took this approach to extremes, saying that almost everything was off the record.” 

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