Donald Trump has said and done a lot of things over the past two and half years that, were he not president, would have resulted in a pair of orderlies dragging him from his desk while he screams, “WHERE ARE YOU TAKING ME? FAKE NEWS! IT‘S THE WINDMILLS! COVFEFE!!” Chief among them: his ongoing feud with a guy who died 12 months ago; claiming you can get cancer from sound; telling reporters that Queen Elizabeth had the best three days of her life when he visited the U.K. in June; and canceling a trip to Denmark because it wouldn’t let him buy Greenland. But like a guy in the habit of cranking the crazy to 11, on Wednesday the president seemingly outdid all of the batshittery that came before when he displayed a doctored hurricane map showing Dorian hitting Alabama in what appeared to be an attempt to cover up his own “alternative facts” about the storm.
In a video released by the White House on Twitter, Trump speaks to reporters while displaying a National Hurricane Center “Cone of Uncertainty” forecast from August 29, in which the graphic has been altered by what looks to be a Sharpie to indicate the storm would travel from Florida to Alabama. It’s embarrassing for a few reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the makeshift alteration is reminiscent of a teenager trying to change an “F” to an “A” on his report card, but also because it sure looks as though the president, or someone working for him, made the change to back up a series of disproven lies he told over the last several days:
The story starts on Sunday morning, at 10:51 a.m. ET, when Trump tweeted out a warning about the severity of Hurricane Dorian. “In addition to Florida -- South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” the President wrote. Trump was wise to issue an alert, since Dorian was rapidly strengthening at the time. But he was wrong to include Alabama in his list of affected states. Alabama borders the Gulf of Mexico but not the Atlantic, and was never forecast to be “hit” by the storm.
When Trump posted his incorrect tweet on Sunday, local meteorologists like James Spann refuted it right away...The Birmingham, Alabama, branch of the National Weather Service agreed. At 11:11 a.m. ET, the office had tweeted that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”
At roughly the same time, Trump spoke to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, claiming “Georgia is going to be hit. Alabama is going to get a piece of it, it looks like,” the latter of which was zero evidence had indicated. An hour later, at a FEMA briefing, he repeated the claim using his unique linguistic flourish: Dorian “may get a little piece of a great place,” he said. “It’s called Alabama,” adding that the state “could even be in for at least some very strong winds and something more than that, it could be. This just came up, unfortunately.” Again, it hadn’t come up, but that didn’t stop the president from angrily lashing out on Monday, after several outlets pointed out that he was spreading factually inaccurate information, tweeting: “I suggested yesterday at FEMA that, along with Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, even Alabama could possibly come into play, which WAS true. They made a big deal about this...when in fact, under certain original scenarios, it was in fact correct that Alabama could have received some ‘hurt.’ Always good to be prepared!”
Which brings us to today, when it sure seems like someone was trying to cover his ass in the dumbest way possible.
Asked about the altered forecast, Trump claimed that his briefings included a “95% chance probability” that Alabama would be hit and that he didn’t know if the chart had been drawn on, which was a good noncommittal answer considering the fact that whoever took a Sharpie to the map like it was a poster on a subway platform may have broken the the law. Per the Washington Post:
Altering official government weather forecasts isn’t just a cause for concern—it’s illegal. Per 18 U.S. Code 2074, which addresses false weather reports, “Whoever knowingly issues or publishes any counterfeit weather forecast or warning of weather conditions falsely representing such forecast or warning to have been issued or published by the Weather Bureau, United States Signal Service, or other branch of the Government service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 90 days, or both.”
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WeWork CEO sorry about that whole trademark thing
Adam Neuman apparently realized in retrospect that charging the company he founded for the right to use the word “we” wasn’t very cool:
WeWork CEO Adam Neumann has returned about $5.9 million worth of stock that was originally paid to him to acquire the trademark “We.” In an amended S-1 filing on Wednesday, WeWork’s parent company, the We Company, noted that it was unwinding the agreement “at Adam’s direction.” The $5.9 million was issued to Neumann after WeWork rebranded to the We Company in January.
The trademark payment was cited by critics as an example of WeWork’s less-than-stellar corporate governance.
FTC official swears fining YouTube small fraction of its annual revenue for illegally collecting personal information from children will be strong deterrent
As the old saying goes, “make a corporate giant pay an amount of money they can fish out of the sofa in the lobby and they’ll be totally above-board from here on out.” Per CNBC:
Andrew Smith, an official at the Federal Trade Commission, told CNBC on Wednesday that while he can understand disappointment over the size of YouTube’s settlement with the agency, he’s confident it was the right amount. Earlier in the day, the FTC announced that Google’s YouTube will pay a $170 million fine to settle a complaint that it earned millions by illegally collecting personal information from children without a guardian’s consent.
“I think it’s a penalty that sends a strong message to the marketplace,” said Smith, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “I have to respectfully disagree with the detractors. This is a historic fine by anybody’s standards.” Google’s parent company, Alphabet, reported second quarter earnings in July that placed the company’s revenue at $38.94 billion.
“For the third time since 2011, the Federal Trade Commission is sanctioning Google for privacy violations,” FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra said in a dissenting statement. “This latest violation is extremely serious. The company baited children using nursery rhymes, cartoons and other kid-directed content on curated YouTube channels to feed its massively profitable behavioral advertising business.”
Trump claims Dow would be at 36,000 if not for trade war with China
“Let me tell you,” he insisted to reporters on Wednesday. “If I wanted to do nothing with China, our stock market, our stock market would be 10,000 points higher than it is right now but somebody had to do this. It was out of control and they were out of control.”
Boris Johnson Calls Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn a “Big Girl’s Blouse” (the Daily Beast)
Pentagon takes money from Puerto Rico, European projects to fund Trump’s wall (Washington Post)
Top Interior official who pushed to expand drilling in Alaska to join oil company there (Washington Post)
“Hundreds of other people could be implicated” in Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell court documents (CNBC)
Why Apple Is Borrowing $7 Billion While Sitting on a $200 Billion Cash Pile (Bloomberg)
How U.S. Banks Took Over the World (WSJ)
“‘I could see it looking at me, like taunting me,’ she said of her fallen AirPod, also trapped beneath a sidewalk grate. Feeling a mix of ‘stupidity and despair,’ Ms. Madison, who lives in Queens, looked up the cost of a single replacement AirPod, $69, and vowed to recover hers. She looped a length of floss through holes in the e-cig charger, lowered it into the grate and retrieved the earbud with magnetic force.” (WSJ)
Maid of honor shows up to sister’s wedding in giant T-rex costume (Fox13)
— The Trump-baiting Anthony Scaramucci interview that roiled the president
— Who is Ghislaine Maxwell? Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged enabler, explained
— Trump’s bizarre handwritten notes to Justin Trudeau
— The private-jet controversy plaguing the British royal family
— The real-life events that may have inspired Succession
— From the Archive: Another whodunit in the Hamptons
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