Matthews: Will Trump Bomb Syria to ‘Distract’ from Mueller?

MSNBC’s Hardball
7:28 – 7:49 p.m. Eastern


7:29 – 7:30
CHARLIE SYKES: I’m always reluctant to get inside Donald Trump’s head because that’s kind of a scary place for me. But you’re absolutely right. This is a President who will at least vent, at least consider punching back. But as David says, there is no easy way out for him. But what Donald Trump has figured out is number one, you change the subject. You come up with distractions and you count on your base and supine Republicans to provide you cover. 

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Wag the dog? Do we bomb Syria now, Charlie? 
SYKES: Well, he woke up this morning thinking I may need a bigger distraction, you know. Look, I think we’re probably going to bomb Syria anyway. 

MATTHEWS: Ron, I saw the scary face of John Bolton behind the President. And then I saw him in the next scene sitting next to him today. What kind of advice do you get from Bolton? Attack! 

RON REAGAN: Exactly. Would any of us put it past President Trump to decide that a nice little military adventure in Syria might be a nice distraction from this? 


7:47 – 7:49
MATTHEWS: How about Wag The Dog, Susan? I was with Barry Levinson last week. I’ve been reminded, he’s the director of that film, where a President, in fiction, decides to start a little war to cover up for hanky-panky. 

SUSAN PAGE: Right. And, you know, I think that’s a very serious charge to make against a President. But I do think it’s hard for – 

MATTHEWS: It’s a question to raise when you have John Bolton sitting next to him. 

JONATHAN CAPEHART: Right. And for this particular president. 

PAGE: You also have a situation where the President is embattled on all fronts, which you could see. To turn the sound off and watch the President in that very peculiar conversation. And he looked like  he did when he did the fire and fury thing with North Korea where he is crossing his arms. He looks very defensive. He looks embattled. It’s with that mind-set that he goes into the meeting on Syria. 

MATTHEWS: Okay, even on Reagan, and Jonathan, I remember Reagan was, a lot of people thought he started that action down in Grenada to cover up for Beirut and the loss of the marine lives. It isn’t so far-fetched, is it? 

PAGE: I don’t know if it’s far-fetched, I just think it’s – it’s – 

MATTHEWS: It’s an awful charge.

PAGE: It’s a very serious charge. 

CAPEHART: I think with this President, if you can imagine it, it can possibly happen. Things that we used to think were ridiculous and could never happen, have happened.

MATHEWS: On a lower level, he does know how to play diversionary tactics. He know house to distract. 

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CNN’s Stelter: Trump Timed Bolton Announcement to Distract From Affair Accuser’s Interview

Thursday, CNN’s Brian Stelter theorized, both on the air and in a tweet, that the Trump administration timed its announcement of National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster’s departure, and the appointment of former UN ambassador John Bolton as his replacement, to distract from his network’s upcoming interview of Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model who claims to have had an affair with Donald Trump over a decade ago. And they wonder why their ratings and their credibility continue to circle the drain.

Stelter must really believe that the world revolves around his network’s programming, as seen in the following tweet (h/t Twitchy):


Here’s the related broadcast snip:


BRIAN STELTER: I did think it was interesting how Bolton said just minutes ago that he wasn’t expecting this announcement today. We know he was in the Oval Office, but he wasn’t expecting this to come out.

I’m not a big fan of the whole argument of Trump always trying to distract us, but there is an interview that’s about to air on this network with Karen McDougal, a woman accused, described in an alleged affair with him. And I just have to wonder if he’s once again making a big announcement to take away from an unflattering story.

Good grief. The far more likely scenario is that, as has so often been the case, someone in the Trump administration couldn’t keep their mouth shut for five minutes, leaked the news to the press, and caused the administration to move up its announcement.

As Nicholas Fondacaro at NewsBusters noted early Friday morning, the McDougal interview was a nothingburger. A CNN panel discussing the interview shortly after it occurred “didn’t know what to make of it, and most actually ripped into her for misleading reporters about her initial accusations against America Media Inc.”

The absurdity of the notion that the McMaster-Bolton announcement was rushed to distract from the McDougal interview on the third-rated cable news network was too much for Fox News’s Greg Gutfeld to resist (and who can blame him?):


Someone needs to remind CNN’s insufferably self-important Stelter that he works for the cable news network which is running a distant third behind Fox News, which can barely see CNN in the rear-view mirror, and MSNBC.

Memo to Brian Stelter: This is not the late-1980s. CNN does not dominate the cable broadcast landscape. Domestically, it is currently on a trajectory towards becoming a bit player positioned to the left of The Young Turks. You guys aren’t the big deal you once were. Get over yourself, and get used to it.

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Media Using Royal Engagement to Distract from REAL News of Queen Exploiting the Mentally Ill


The mainstream media frenzy over the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is no surprise, as speculation has been ongoing for weeks—but the current obsession has been used to drown out serious accusations against the Royal Family that have been virtually ignored by the media.

From the moment reports claimed that Markle was dating the Prince, the rumor mill began speculating about when they would get engaged. However, when the second largest document leak in history painted the Royal Family in a much different light, attention from the mainstream media was nowhere to be found.

The Paradise Papers, a leak comprised of 13.4 million documents from two offshore service providers and the company registries of 19 tax havens, received very little media coverage—and the records implicating the Royal Family received even less.

As The Free Thought Project reported, among the world’s elite exposed in the Paradise Papers was Queen Elizabeth II. According to the leak, the Queen’s private estate has invested millions of pounds in a Cayman Islands fund that has a history of taking advantage of poor and mentally ill individuals.

The Paradise Papers also revealed that Queen Elizabeth II “has used offshore private equity funds designed to shield UK investors from having to pay US tax on their holdings.

The documents were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. According to a report on the Paradise Papers from ICIJ:

“Queen Elizabeth II has invested millions of dollars in medical and consumer loan companies, Appleby’s files show. While the Queen’s private estate, the Duchy of Lancaster, provides some details of its investments in U.K. property, such as commercial buildings scattered across southern England, it has never disclosed details of its offshore investments. 


‘Yes, the Duchy was aware that the Jubilee Absolute Return Fund was run offshore,’ said Chris Addock, chief finance officer of the Duchy of Lancaster. 


The records show that as of 2007, the queen’s private estate invested in a Cayman Islands fund that in turn invested in a private equity company that controlled BrightHouse, a U.K. rent-to-own firm criticized by consumer watchdogs and members of Parliament for selling household goods to cash-strapped Britons on payment plans with interest rates as high as 99.9 percent.”

The Queen’s investments were made in BrightHouse, Britain’s biggest rent-to-own retailer. The company was recently ordered to pay 14.8 million pounds to 249,000 customers after the watchdog Financial Conduct Authority found that it was guilty of overcharging customers and intentionally taking advantage of people with mental health problems and learning disabilities.

While investments from the Queen’s estate have reportedly been ongoing for the last 12 years, a report from the Guardian claimed that the Queen appeared to have around 519 million pounds worth of investments, as of the end of March.

The mainstream media’s hypocrisy is blatant when it comes to the Royal Family, and it serves as a reminder that when there is a new engagement to gossip about, there will be 24/7 coverage. But when documents are leaked showing that the Queen of England has reportedly made millions by exploiting poor and mentally ill individuals, the mainstream media has no interest in investigating.

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Proof junk food is like a drug: Researchers found sugary and fatty foods distract people twice as much as healthy snacks

Image: Proof junk food is like a drug: Researchers found sugary and fatty foods distract people twice as much as healthy snacks

(Natural News)
When you’re hard at work and you get into that highly productive “zone,” it might feel like nothing can stop you. However, scientists have shown that junk food can snap you right out of focus – even if you only see it subliminally.

In the study, which was carried out by scientists at Johns Hopkins University, people were asked to work on a complex computer task that had nothing to do with food. They were instructed to find the answers as quickly as they could, classifying symbols into categories.

While they worked on the task, photos were flashed in the screen’s periphery for a mere 125 milliseconds, which is considered too fast for them to fully realize what they saw. They were shown a mix of pictures that included healthy foods; foods high in fat and calories; and non-food items like footballs, lava lamps, thumbtacks and bikes.

While all of these pictures distracted participants from the task, foods like candy, chocolate cake, hot dogs, potato chips, cheese and donuts were twice as distracting as the non-food pictures and those of healthy foods like salad, apples and carrots. Moreover, they discovered it’s not food in general that is distracting as the healthy foods were no more distracting to participants than the non-food items.

Afterward, they recreated the experiment but threw in a twist: A new group of participants ate two fun-sized candy bars before carrying out the same computer task. Interestingly, the participants who ate the candy beforehand did not find the high-calorie, high-fat food pictures to be any more distracting than those of healthy food and non-food pictures.

Now, the scientists would like to find out if eating less chocolate prior to the test or consuming other types of snacks would lead to the same effect. For example, they’d like to see how eating an apple ahead of the task would change distraction levels. They’d also like to investigate whether offering the participants money to perform the task quickly would prevent them from getting distracted to discern just how strong the pull of junk food is.

Don’t go grocery shopping on an empty stomach

According to lead author Corbin A. Cunningham, this finding supports the old adage about not going grocery shopping when you’re hungry as the highly distracting nature of unhealthy foods could lead you to make unwise decisions. He said that even when food is irrelevant and people are trying to concentrate, junk food has a tremendous ability to sneak in and steal our attention, unless we’ve just eaten some of it!

What gives junk food the power to distract us?

In explaining the phenomenon, Cunningham said that one of the reasons that junk food appears more tempting than healthier options is the biological desire to eat energy-dense foods because they tend to taste better. He also believes there could be a little bit of “wanting what you can’t have” at play.

“While it is hard to tell, I think some of the rewarding nature of high calorie foods might be that we know we should only occasionally indulge in them. Thus, they become more ‘rewarding’ than foods that we could eat as much as we want,” Cunningham said. Their findings were published in the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.

The more we can learn about what drives people to eat junk food, the better off we’ll be as a recent study published by Lancet found that a fifth of all deaths around the world are caused by junk food, processed food, and otherwise toxic or harmful food, making it just as dangerous as smoking.

Sources include:



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As Senate hearings heat up, Warner calls FBI nomination ‘an effort to distract’ the public

Within minutes of President Trump’s announcement of his choice for FBI director on Wednesday, Sen. Mark Warner — the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee — questioned the timing, saying, “Clearly, this is an effort by the president to try to distract attention from our hearings today and our hearings tomorrow.”

Warner made the comments on CBS’ “This Morning” after Trump tweeted that he would be nominating former Assistant Attorney General Christopher Wray to replace James Comey as head of the bureau. The Virginia Democrat is the top Democrat on the committee that is hearing testimony from National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers Wednesday, and ousted FBI Director James Comey Thursday. Democrats are particularly interested in asking them whether Trump pressured them to ease or drop investigations into his campaign’s ties with Russia. Coats told the committee he wouldn’t discuss his conversations with the president in a public session.

Though Warner stopped short of saying in his interview that such pressure by Trump would constitute obstruction of justice, he said it would show “a really disturbing pattern,” and invoked Watergate as a precedent for the danger of presidents intervening in investigations involving them or their associates. Warner also offered a preview of his strategy for the two days of consequential public testimony.

“Some of the questions I’m going to ask are going to be a bit uncomfortable,” Warner said, “but I think in this case, the American public’s need to know — with this cloud that hangs over everything that this administration is doing — if they can help clarify, I hope they’ll step up.”

On CNN’s “New Day,” where he also was interviewed, Warner hinted that the hearings Wednesday and Thursday may reveal a “pattern of constant intervention,” and signaled the line of questioning he and colleagues may pursue with Comey.

“If we have … Director Comey tomorrow describing the series of conversations he had with the president and the fact that he felt uncomfortable, why did he feel uncomfortable?” Warner said.

Referencing the written accounts of the meetings that Comey associates have described to reporters, Warner asked, “Why did he have to produce memos? It raises, to me, a huge amount of questions.”

Read more from Yahoo News:


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‘Unboxing’ videos distract from the real problem of packaging waste

What happens to the plastic, ribbon, cardboard, and glitter after the two-minute show is over?

‘Unboxing’ videos are a curious YouTube trend that involves filming the act of opening a newly purchased item. Viewers are able to see exactly how the item comes packaged and what it looks like from every possible angle. Meanwhile, the owner narrates the process, describing the feel, smell, and even emotions associated with the unboxing process.

The growth in popularity of these videos has led companies – mostly Internet-based – to beautify packaging “with brightly covered boxes, ribbons, and other cutesy delights that make the purchase feel extra special” (Racked). Stickers and glitter are not uncommon. The more appealing or unusual the packaging is, after all, the more YouTube unboxing videos will be made, which translates to sales.

There’s a dark flipside to all of this fun, however and that is the waste generated by superfluous packaging. Did you know that an estimated one-third of municipal waste comes from packaging? While a good chunk of that is likely food-related, it’s important to think about what happens to all those plastic bags, tape bits, ribbons, Styrofoam peanuts, cardboard boxes, and stickers after a parcel has been opened. Most ends up in the trash, and this adds up quickly.

Roughly 36 million tons of packaging waste hit landfills yearly after recycling efforts, according to The Guardian. Putting this into perspective, it’s equivalent to throwing away our bodyweight in packaging every 30 to 40 days.

Noah is a men’s streetwear brand that gives packaging a great deal of thought. In fact, it has gone against the flow to minimize packaging to a degree that upsets some customers. Its clothes are shipped in Kraft paper mailers, which occasionally tear open, delivering dirty or damaged products to customers. While acknowledging that this isn’t acceptable, Noah still does not want to jump on the plastic bandwagon and has reached out to the public to explain its rationale:

“We understand there’s value in the ‘unboxing experience.’ But when we ask ourselves what happens after enjoying that brief, throwback sensation of being a kid opening a present, when we wonder where all the hand-made paper, cleverly folded boxes, ribbons and glitter go, the answer is almost always the same: it gets tossed into the trash. Maybe some of it gets tossed into the recycling, but still. The whole thing lasts a maximum of 2-3 minutes. That’s a lot of waste for what is essentially a mini dose of drugs, a transient feeling that what we just bought, or the company we bought it from, is somehow superior, or that we are superior.”

It is a refreshing perspective to hear in a world that’s going increasingly crazy for online shopping. As Chavie Lieber points out in Racked, fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world after fossil fuel:

“The industry is only speeding up thanks to both fast fashion in general and e-commerce companies like ASOS and Boohoo that ship millions of packages a day, with shoppers often ordering several sizes because returns have become so easy.”

What would a solution look like?

First, aside from the obvious solution of buying less, you could shop locally instead of online. Then you’d be able to take an item home without any packaging at all.

Second, you can support those companies that take packaging seriously. Do some research before purchasing online, and remember that the act of inquiring is a powerful signal to a company.

Third, take action. If you get an overly packaged item, complain to the manufacturer and send it back. (This is what Bea Johnson, author of The Zero Waste Home, did with the packaging from her new Mac laptop.) Use social media to tell the world why you’re unhappy with wasteful packaging. Consider make an unboxing video that focuses on waste, rather than beauty and appeal!

In the meantime, Noah has explained its predicament to customers: “How much more are we willing to contribute to the world’s throw-away culture to honor the fact that you’ve bought something we’ve made?” It’s something we’d all do well to consider. Packaging is temporary. Focus on the item you’re buying, its quality and intrinsic beauty, rather than the shell in which it arrives.

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