Trump lashes out at his former lawyer after guilty plea
By ZEKE MILLER, JONATHAN LEMIRE, and DARLENE SUPERVILLE
Wednesday, August 22
WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing a growing threat to his presidency, President Donald Trump lashed at his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, a day after the onetime “fixer” implicated Trump in a campaign cover-up to buy the silence of women who said they had sexual relationships with him.
Trump on Wednesday accused Cohen of making up “stories in order to get a ‘deal’” from federal prosecutors. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations that the lawyer said he carried out in coordination with Trump.
“If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!” Trump tweeted Wednesday.
In a split screen for the history books, Cohen’s admission to the crimes in federal court in New York on Tuesday came at nearly the same moment that Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, was convicted by a jury in Virginia of financial misdeeds. Manafort faces separate charges in September in the District of Columbia that include acting as a foreign agent.
The back-to-back blows resulted from the work of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s attempts to sway voters in the 2016 election, including hacking Democrats’ emails, whether the Trump campaign may have cooperated, and if the president himself obstructed justice in investigating both.
Trump has denounced the probe again Wednesday on Twitter as a “witch hunt.”
Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, said Wednesday that Cohen has information “that would be of interest” to the special counsel. Davis said Cohen is not looking for a presidential pardon.
“My observation is that the topics relating to hacking and the crime of hacking … that there are subjects that Michael Cohen could address that would be of interest to the special counsel,” Davis said in a series of television interviews.
Trump soon weighed in on Twitter, taking his shot at Cohen and praising Manafort, saying he has “such respect for a brave man!”
Manafort, Trump wrote, had “tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break.’”
But there was no doubt that Cohen’s acknowledgement of a coordinated payoff scheme puts Trump’s presidency on the defensive.
“It’s going to be hard for the president to try to discredit all this. It’s circling him,” said David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor who is not involved in the case.
Cohen and Manafort played prominent roles in Trump’s political rise in 2016.
Cohen said once he’d take a bullet for Trump, and was intimately familiar with Trump’s personal, business and political dealing for more than a decade. Cohen released a secretly recorded audio of Trump discussing a payout made via a third party to model Karen McDougal who says she had a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006.
Cohen initially denied making the payments to the women — McDougal and adult film actress Stormy Daniels — or that Trump had any knowledge of them. But he changed his story as prosecutors closed in. Davis, his attorney, told CNN Wednesday of Cohen, “There has been an evolution in his loyalty toward Donald Trump.”
The payments to the women could be regarded as an illegal campaign expenditure if the money was clearly meant to influence the 2016 election.
Trump, on Twitter, maintained otherwise, saying, “Michael Cohen plead (sic) guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime.”
He also complained that “President Obama had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!” Trump was apparently referring to a fine levied on the former president’s 2008 campaign over missing and delayed disclosure of high-dollar donors in the final days of that race.
In a deal with federal prosecutors, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight counts, including tax evasion. He could get about four to five years in prison at sentencing Dec. 12.
Manafort was convicted of eight felony counts, including charges of filing false tax returns and failing to report foreign bank accounts. Prosecutors will decide whether to retry him on 10 other charges.
Manafort was a well-connected Republican consultant and lobbyist who prosecutors say made $60 million in foreign money working for Russia-backed politicians in Ukraine. He was campaign chairman for months during the GOP nomination battle in 2016.
Trump said Tuesday the legal developments had nothing to do with Russian election interference and that he felt “badly for both” men. At the West Virginia rally, he focused on developments on trade, taxes, North Korea and his plans for a space force.
“Where is the collusion?” he asked.
His supporters chanted Trump’s campaign staples “Drain the swamp!” and “Lock her up!”
The White House is trying to keep the focus on the November election, when control of Congress is at stake. Trump allies such as former strategist Steve Bannon seek to frame the election as a referendum on the potential impeachment of the president. Trump confidants have long argued that the president’s fate in such a scenario would ultimately be more a matter of politics than law.
Also Tuesday, prosecutors and defense attorneys for former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn agreed to postpone his sentencing after he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with a Russian official, in a sign his cooperation was still needed in the Mueller probe.
Trump confidants are reasserting that it is the White House position that a sitting president cannot be indicted. They are citing a 2000 opinion of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which provides legal advice and guidance to executive branch agencies.
Trump’s lawyers have said Mueller plans to adhere to that guidance, though Mueller’s office has never independently confirmed that. There would presumably be no bar against charging a president after he or she departs the White House.
For many around Trump, Cohen has represented a greater threat than even the Russia investigation, drawing from Cohen’s decade of working as the then-celebrity real estate developer’s fixer.
An FBI raid on Cohen’s New York office and hotel room in April rattled the president, who has complained publicly about what he felt was government overreach while privately worrying about what material Cohen may have had after working for the Trump Organization for a decade.
Those in Trump’s orbit, including his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, have steadily ratcheted up attacks on Cohen, suggesting he was untrustworthy and lying about what he knew about Trump’s business dealings. When Cohen’s team produced a recording that the former fixer had made of Trump discussing a payment to silence a woman about an alleged affair, Giuliani sought to impugn Cohen’s credibility and question his loyalty.
Trump stewed for weeks over the media coverage of the Manafort trial. Though the proceedings were not connected to Russian election interference, Trump has seethed to confidants that he views the Manafort charges as “a warning shot” from Mueller.
“What matters is that a jury found that the facts presented to them by the special prosecutor warranted a conviction of someone who surrounds the president,” Weinstein said.
Superville reported from Charleston, West Virginia. Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey, Ken Thomas and Eric Tucker contributed to this report.
Follow Miller on Twitter at http://twitter.com/zekejmiller, Lemire at http://twitter.com/JonLemire and Superville at http://twitter.com/dsupervilleap
The lies we tell on dating apps to find love
August 22, 2018
Assistant Professor of Social Media Data Analytics, University of Oregon
David Markowitz does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
University of Oregon provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Nearly one-fourth of young adults are looking for love through dating websites or apps.
This relatively new form of courtship can give you access to a large pool of potential partners. It also presents a unique set of challenges.
For example, you’ve probably heard about – or have personally experienced – a date that was planned online but didn’t go well for one of the following reasons: He was shorter than his profile said he was, she looked different in person than she did in her photos, or he was talkative over text but it was like pulling teeth at dinner.
In other words, a person’s profile – and the messages sent before a date – might not capture who a person really is.
In a recent paper, my colleague Jeff Hancock and I wondered: How often do people who use dating apps lie? What sort of things are they prone to lie about?
‘My phone died at the gym’
Our studies are some of the first to address these questions, but others have also examined deception in online dating.
Past research focused largely on the dating profile. Studies have found, for example, that men tend to overstate their height and lie about their occupation, while women understate their weight and tend to have less accurate photos than their counterparts.
But profiles are only one aspect of the online dating process. Only after messaging your match will you decide if you want to meet him or her.
To understand how often people lied to their partners and what they falsified, we evaluated hundreds of text messages exchanged after daters swiped right, but before they met – a period we call “the discovery phase.” We recruited an online sample of over 200 participants who provided us with their messages from a recent dating conversation and identified the lies, with some participants explaining why these messages were deceptive and not jokes.
We found that lies could be categorized into two main types. The first kind were lies related to self-presentation. If participants wanted to present themselves as more attractive, for example, they would lie about how often they went to the gym. Or if their match appeared to be religious, they might lie about how often they read the Bible to make it seem as if they had similar interests.
The second kind of lies were related to availability management, with daters describing why they couldn’t meet, or giving excuses for radio silence, like lying about their phone losing service.
These deceptions are called “butler lies” because they’re a relatively polite way to avoid communication without completely closing the door on the connection. If you’ve ever texted, “Sorry I went AWOL, my phone died,” when you just didn’t want to talk, you’ve told a butler lie.
Butler lies don’t make you a bad person. Instead, they can help you avoid dating pitfalls, such as appearing always available or desperate.
Purposeful or pervasive lies?
While deceptions over self-presentation and availability accounted for most lies, we observed that only 7 percent of all messages were rated as false in our sample.
Why such a low deception rate?
A robust finding across recent deception studies suggests that the majority of people are honest and that there are only a few prolific liars in our midst.
Lying to appear like a good match or lying about your whereabouts can be completely rational behaviors. In fact, most people online expect it. There’s also a benefit to lying just a little bit: It can make us stand out in the dating pool, while making us feel we’ve stayed true to who we are.
However, outright and pervasive lies – mentioning your love for dogs, but actually being allergic to them – can undermine trust. One too many big lies can be problematic for finding “the one.” There was another interesting result that speaks to the nature of deception during the discovery phase. In our studies, the number of lies told by a participant was positively associated with the number of lies they believed their partner told.
So if you’re honest and tell few lies, you think that others are being honest as well. If you’re looking for love but are lying to get it, there’s a good chance that you’ll perceive others are lying to you, too.
Therefore, telling little lies for love is normal, and we do it because it serves a purpose – not just because we can.
What makes some species more likely to go extinct?
August 22, 2018
Dinosaurs had some bad luck, but sooner or later extinction comes for all of us.
Post-doctoral Researcher in Invertebrate Paleontology, University of Kansas
Luke Strotz is affiliated with the University of Kansas and his work is partly funded by the National Science Foundation.
Though they say “‘tis impossible to be sure of anything but death and taxes,” a bit of financial chicanery may get you out of paying the taxman. But no amount of trickery will stop the inevitability of death. Death is the inescapable endpoint of life.
And this is as true for species as it is for individuals. Estimates suggest 99.99 percent of all species that have ever lived are now extinct. All species that exist today – including human beings – will invariably go extinct at some point.
Paleontologists like me know there are key moments in Earth’s history when extinction rates are high. For example, researchers have identified the Big Five mass extinctions: the five times over the past half billion years or so when more than three-quarters of the planet’s species have gone extinct in short order. Unfortunately, we are also now getting a good firsthand view of what extinction looks like, with the rapid increase in extinction rates over the last century.
But what factors make any one species more or less vulnerable to extinction? The rate of extinction varies between different groups of animals and over time, so clearly not all species are equally susceptible. Scientists have done a great job of documenting extinction, but determining the processes that cause extinction has proved a bit more difficult.
Who’s more vulnerable to extinction?
Looking at modern examples, some tipping points that lead to the extinction of a species become obvious. Reduced population sizes is one such factor. As the number of individuals of a species dwindles, it can lead to reduced genetic diversity and greater susceptibility to random catastrophic events. If the remaining population of a species is small enough, a single forest fire or even random variations in sex ratios could ultimately lead to extinction.
You won’t see another passenger pigeon.
Extinctions that have occurred in the recent past receive a great deal of attention – for example, the dodo, thylacine or passenger pigeon. But the vast majority of extinctions happened well before the appearance of humans. The fossil record is thus the primary source of data on extinction.
When paleontologists consider fossils in the context of what we know about past environments, a clearer picture of what causes the extinction of species starts to emerge. To date, the likelihood of extinction of a species has been linked to a host of factors.
We certainly know that changes in temperature are one important element. Almost every major rise or fall in global temperatures in Earth history has resulted in the extinction of a swath of different organisms.
The size of the geographic area a species occupies is also crucial. Species that are broadly distributed are less likely to go extinct than those that occupy a small area or whose habitat is disjointed.
There are also random phenomena that cause extinction. The meteorite responsible for the extinction of about 75 percent of life at the end of the Cretaceous Period, including the non-avian dinosaurs, is perhaps the best example of this. This random aspect to extinction is why some have argued that “survival of the luckiest” may be a better metaphor for the history of life than “survival of the fittest.”
Most recently, my colleagues and I identified a physiological component to extinction. We found that the representative metabolic rate for both fossil and living mollusk species strongly predicts the likelihood of extinction. Metabolic rate is defined as the average rate of energy uptake and allocation by individuals of that species. Mollusk species with higher metabolic rates are more likely to go extinct than those with lower rates.
Returning to the metaphor of “survival of the fittest/luckiest,” this result suggests that “survival of the laziest” may apply at times. Higher metabolic rates correlate with higher mortality rates for individuals in both mammals and fruit flies, so metabolism may represent an important control on mortality at multiple biological levels. Because metabolic rate is linked to a constellation of characteristics including growth rate, time to maturity, maximum life span and maximum population size, it seems likely that the nature of any or all of these traits play a role in how vulnerable a species is to extinction.
Plenty more extinction unknowns
As much as scientists know about extinction drivers, there’s still a lot we don’t know.
For instance, some proportion of species go extinct regardless of any major environmental or biological upheaval. This is called the background extinction rate. Because paleontologists tend to focus on mass extinctions, background extinction rates are poorly defined. How much, or how little, this rate fluctuates isn’t well-understood. And, in total, most extinctions probably fall into this category.
Another problem is determining how important changing biological interactions are in explaining extinction. For instance, extinction of a species may occur when the abundance of a predator or a competitor increases, or when a crucial prey species goes extinct. The fossil record, however, rarely captures this kind of information.
Even the number of species that have gone extinct can be an enigma. We know very little about the current or past biodiversity of microorganisms, such as bacteria or archaea, let alone anything about patterns of extinction for these groups.
Many animals – including the Scimitar-horned Oryx – are currently extinct in the wild. Drew Avery, CC BY
Perhaps the biggest mistake we could make when it comes to assessing and explaining extinction would be to take a one-size-fits-all approach. The vulnerability of any one species to extinction varies over time, and different biological groups respond differently to environmental change. While major changes in global climate have led to extinction in some biological groups, the same events have ultimately led to the appearance of many new species in others.
So how vulnerable any one species is to extinction due to human activities or the associated climate change remains sometimes an open question. It is clear that the current rate of extinction is rising well above anything that could be called background level, and is on track to be the Sixth Mass Extinction. The question of how vulnerable any one species – including our own – may be to extinction is therefore one scientists want to answer quickly, if we’re to have any chance of conserving future biodiversity.