Links for 05/18/17

by Michael Sean Winters

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At The New Yorker, Robin Wright looks at what we can expect from Trump's first foreign trip. The money quote:

On his first Presidential trip abroad, Trump has outsized ambitions—both naïve and godlike—laden with religious symbolism from all three Abrahamic faiths. He’ll visit the birthplace of Islam; the Jewish homeland; the birthplace of Jesus, in Bethlehem; and, then, the Vatican. “What President Trump is seeking is to unite peoples of all faiths around a common vision of peace, progress, and prosperity,” the national-security adviser, H. R. McMaster, told reporters on Friday. A senior Administration official said that Trump’s goal is “making sure that the three faiths work together.” Good luck.

The country breathed a sigh of relief at the appointment or Robert Mueller as independent counsel to investigate Russian interference in our election, and related matters. (You never know where an independent counsel's investigation will lead: Ken Starr did not know about Monica Lewinsky when he began.) But, FiveThirtyEight looks at the degree to which not even the nastiest scandal will cause the true believers to recalibrate their opinions.

In the Washington Post, a story about the sharp increase in detentions of immigrants, especially those with no criminal records. The Trump administration has been assuring U.S. bishops around the country that nothing much has changed. Hogwash. In the light of these numbers, if anyone wants to believe nothing has changed it is because they really want to believe it, not because it is the case. 

At Bloomberg, a look at some of the shady practices that accelerated the fiscal crisis in Puerto Rico. Surprise, surprise, that banks were at the center of the mess. We have seen this story before and it wasn't pretty then. Bringing back the Glass-Steigel Act would be a start. 

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