Trump Protest in New York Fizzles Out: ‘More Reporters Here Than Trump Supporters’

Trump Protest Fizzles Out: 'More Reporters Here Than Trump Supporters'

Dear Commons Community,

A New York City rally to protest against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s purported plans to indict the former president fell spectacularly on its face yesterday after more journalists showed up to the event than pro-Trump activists.

An email obtained by Newsweek hours earlier announced that the “peaceful protest” was set for 6 p.m. local time in lower Manhattan, organized by the New York Young Republican Club.

“I’m at the pro-Trump protest put on by the NY Young Republicans Club,” tweeted Ben Collins, senior reporter for NBC News, shortly after the protest started. “Not a joke, there are more reporters here than Trump supporters. This was supposed to be the big one.”




George Conway:  “Republicans – complete disgraces” in their support of Donald Trump “a recidivist criminal…he’s committed fraud all of his life. He’s lied all of his life.”

George Conway tears into 'malignant narcissist' Trump over Mueller report | Washington Examiner

Donald Trump and George Conway

Dear Commons Community,

Conservative attorney George Conway yesterday slammed Republicans for their defenses of Donald Trump against a potential criminal indictment in New York.

The former president said in a post on his social media site over the weekend that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday as part of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation of him. The probe relates to a 2016 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, an adult film star, who was paid off days before the 2016 presidential election as she was allegedly on verge of going public about an affair she claims she had with Trump in 2006.  As reported by The Huffington Post.

“The Republicans are behaving like complete disgraces,” said Conway, who is in the process of divorcing Trump’s former senior counselor, Kellyanne Conway. “By saying that Trump is being persecuted, they’re essentially saying you can’t touch Trump and Trump is above the law.”

“And whatever slack you might have wanted to cut a former president, that was gone after Jan. 6,” he added. “This man is a recidivist criminal. I mean, he’s committed fraud all of his life. He’s lied all of his life.”

Prominent Republicans have been quick to rush to Trump’s defense following his announcement. Several top members of the House of Representatives, including House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, characterized a potential indictment as politically motivated and an abuse of power.

“You are reportedly about to engage in an unprecedented abuse of prosecutorial authority: the indictment of a former President of the United States and current declared candidate for that office,” Republican Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio), James Comer (Ky.) and Bryan Steil (Wis.), who chair the Judiciary, Oversight and House Administration committees, respectively, wrote in a letter to Bragg dated Monday.

Conway said the Republican defenses were “completely ridiculous” given the evidence. Republicans have sought to discredit the version of events presented by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, who was jailed in 2018 over his involvement in the hush money payments. Cohen has been cooperating with authorities in multiple investigations against Trump and says he facilitated the hush money payments at Trump’s behest.

“The notion that Cohen’s going to be discredited on it is ridiculous given the paper trail. We see the checks that were signed by Donald Trump,” Conway said. “It’s hard to say that he’s being picked on for paying $130,000 in hush money to a porn star and concealing that and using a straw donor, which was Cohen, to do that and saying he’s being persecuted somehow when no one has ever done that.”

Conway does not hold back when he goes after Trump and his supporters!


Video: Maggie Haberman Reveals Trump is “very anxious” about potential indictment and arrest!

Tapper rolls the tape on Trump's attacks on Haberman. See her response

Donald Trump and Maggie Haberman

Dear Commons Community,

Former President Donald Trump is “very anxious and does not want to face getting arrested” ahead of a possible indictment over hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, according to The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman.

Haberman made the comments (see video below) as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg signaled his office may be close to filing charges against the former president, a historic moment linked to a $130,000 payment made to Daniels in the final days of Trump’s 2016 campaign. If he is indicted, it would be the first time a former president has been criminally charged.

The investigation is just one of several Trump faces: Others are probing his effort to overturn 2020 election results in Georgia and his absconding with classified documents to his Mar-a-Lago estate.

“He’s very anxious about the prospect of being indicted for a couple of reasons,” Haberman told CNN’s Jake Tapper yesterday. “Two things can be true at once. He is aware that there are reasons to believe this could help him politically … But he does not want to face getting arrested, which is what happens when you get indicted. You get fingerprinted. You get brought in. You have to ask for bail. None of that is something that he is excited about.”

Haberman went on to reiterate her reporting last week that Team Trump is preparing for a broad attack against Bragg and his associates amid any charges, hoping to smear the group as Democratic agents and linking them to his 2024 rival, President Joe Biden. A spokesman for his campaign attacked the investigation last week as a “witch hunt,” threatening that Americans would “not tolerate” an indictment.

Trump himself said this weekend his arrest was imminent, attempting to rally his supporters and calling for protests should any charges be levied against him.


Haberman said the post wasn’t part of any “grand plan” but still signaled his deep anxiety about the DA’s investigation.

“He and his political folks are preparing for a huge blitz politically to push back on the Manhattan district attorney,” Haberman said. “I don’t think that his Truth Social post yesterday morning calling for protests was part of a grand plan, he did it and a bunch of his aides were surprised by it.”

Ms. Haberman knows what she is talking about!



Video: Former House White Press Secretary Jen Psaki Debuts New Show on MSNBC!

(Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC)

Dear Commons Community,

Joe Biden’s former White House press secretary Jen Psaki opened her new MSNBC program yesterday by telling the audience, “It’s a hell of a week to launch a new show.”

She was talking about the major news of the weekend: Donald Trump’s potential arrest and his call on his supporters to protest, and that she led with it was to be expected, given MSNBC’s long focus on  the former president.

Still, with Inside with Jen Psaki, her challenge will be to make a mark during a busy Sunday morning period with all the major cable and network channels having news-oriented shows.  Regardless, I thought her debut was excellent although her interviewee Hakeem Jeffreys was a bit stiff in his responses to her questions.  Below is a video of her opening where she comments on “the ugly truth” that is Donald Trump and his legal issues especially as related to his possible indictment in New York City for paying “”hush money” to former porn star Stormy Daniels.

Her approachable and confident manner came through during the show as it did when she was a White House press secretary.

Good luck with the show Ms. Psaki!


The King’s College (Manhattan) likely to close!

The King's College - A Christian liberal arts college in New York City

Dear Commons Community,

Administrators at The King’s College, a small Christian liberal arts college in Manhattan, have been meeting with students in recent weeks to deliver a grim message: All of you should find someplace else to go to school.

The college has been struggling for years. But what began as a handful of layoffs in November quickly escalated to a doomsday scenario. Now it appears likely the school will close, and school officials have been going from department to department to show students a list of schools that might accept them as transfer students.  As reported by The New York Times.

The King’s College is a small school. But as the city’s only high-profile evangelical college committed to “the truths of Christianity and a biblical worldview,” it is more well known than its enrollment numbers — over 600 students before the pandemic, down to roughly half that now — might suggest.

Its sudden decline has drawn national attention.

Most of its students are white, and many come from conservative households far from New York City. For them, King’s has been a pathway to a world beyond their lives back home, where roughly half were home-schooled or attended private, often Christian, academies.

In interviews, most said they hoped to stay in New York and transfer to non-evangelical schools, like Fordham University, Columbia University or the City University of New York. Representatives of the college did not respond to messages seeking comment.

“The one truth I am committed to is biblical truth,” said Matthew Peterson, 19, who said he grew up in a “homogeneous” Christian community in Ohio. “I really wanted to come to New York, where I knew I would be confronted with all sorts of ways of living and belief systems.”

Before the pandemic, the school dreamed of expanding, to give its brand of nondenominational Christianity a secure place in the country’s media and financial capital. But it appears instead to have been undone by a pandemic-related decline in enrollment and revenue. An unsuccessful foray into the world of for-profit online education, meant to help, may have only accelerated the downward spiral.

At a recent meeting, Paul Glader, a journalism professor, told students in his department to do everything they could to secure a spot at another school.

“If I were in your shoes, I would apply to all these schools, I would pray a lot, I would talk to my parents a lot. This is your life,” he said, as two administrators standing nearby nodded in agreement. “That being said, I hope we survive.”

King’s was founded in 1938 and moved campuses twice before it shut down in 1994 during an earlier period of declining enrollment and financial woe. It was revived in 1999 by Campus Crusade for Christ, whose founder, Bill Bright, said he wanted the school to educate two million students within its first decade.

The school never came close to that. But not long ago, it appeared to be standing on solid ground.

Before the pandemic, donations were reliable enough that King’s purchased a former hotel that it converted into a dorm named in honor of Richard and Helen DeVos, the parents-in-law of former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. They were longtime donors who died in 2018 and 2017.

Before the school moved downtown in 2012, it boasted a rented campus in the Empire State Building. The high profile conservative writer Dinesh D’Souza once served as its president.

But since 1999, King’s has run multimillion-dollar deficits each year and relied primarily on donations to make ends meet.

Another victim of declining enrollments due in part to COVID.


Comparing Chatbots: ChatGPT vs. Mainstay!

Mainstay — The Engagement Platform Proven to Boost Enrollment & Retention

Dear Commons Community,

Kirk Daulerio alerted me to this piece that compares ChatGPT with Mainstay.  ChatGPT has gotten a lot of attention in recent months especially among educators for its ability to provide quick essays on a wide variety of topics.  Mainstay, which has been available for several years, bills itself as “a student engagement platform powered by behaviorally intelligent chatbots. It is purpose-built to positively influence students and guide them throughout their academic journeys.”  It can be used for a number of student support activities such as applications/admissions, counseling, and academic support.  A focus of Mainstay is “to boost enrollment, improve retention, and close equity gaps.” 

Below is a comparison of the two chatbots courtesy of Mainstay. 

The entire article is informative and portends the future of chatbots in higher education.


Solely reactive.
Like many other chatbots, ChatGPT generates text in response to individual prompts. What if you could use ChatGPT’s language generation capabilities and proactively reach out to students to suggest that they take action?
True two-way engagement.
Mainstay does much more than automatically answer student questions. Our partners also use our platform to proactively engage target audiences with the right information at the moment it’s needed (like before a key deadline.) Our Best Practice Collections offer partners a full calendar of proven, research-backed communications to spark student progress and drive positive outcomes.
Lacks human intervention or checks and balances.
ChatGPT advises its users, “The system may occasionally generate incorrect or misleading information and produce offensive or biased content.” Because it is built to generate answers based on prediction, it will sometimes guess or create answers that sound reasonable, but are inaccurate or potentially inappropriate. On its own, ChatGPT does not allow for human intervention to ensure that its responses are accurate and reflect well on your institution.
Accurate answers that keep a human in the loop.
It’s true that Mainstay’s bots cannot answer as broad a range of questions as ChatGPT. However, we are 100% confident that the answers our chatbots deliver contain accurate information because they have been finely tuned for each partner’s needs by our expert [human] team. Our AI is transparent and admits when it cannot answer questions, which ensures that a person can provide an accurate answer and expand the bot’s relevant knowledge with usage over time.

When our platform detects that a person needs to get involved because the AI cannot answer a question accurately or because a student is asking about a sensitive topic, we flag the question or conversation so that a person can seamlessly take over the conversation.

Potential vulnerability to bias.
AI models are only as good as the data they are trained on. Any deficiencies — such as bias, intentional or not — in the dataset may be mirrored in the text it generates. A model like ChatGPT that is trained on a dataset of typical conversations rather than the most supportive responses can only generate language reflective of typical dialogue, not best practices.

But what if an AI with ChatGPT’s language generation capabilities was trained specifically to support improved equity in higher education?

A focus on historically underserved students.
From our inception, we have designed our platform to improve access and equity for first-generation, minority, low-income, and non-traditional students. We provide not only the technology to have automated conversations with students, but also the messaging shown to have the greatest impact on outcomes for all students.

University of Central Florida Researchers Use Giant Test Tubes (Limnocorrals) to Study the Ocean!

a diver is installing a test tube to study a way to combat red tide

Dear Commons Community,

This story was first posted on Facebook by my colleague, Patsy  Moskal.  

University of Central Florida scientists have just completed the first successful test of any red tide mitigation technology in open water using large water column containers called limnocorrals.  These tubes — about six feet in diameter — extend from the waters’ surface to the ocean floor, allowing scientists to test real ocean conditions within a controlled setting. Think of it like a giant test tube.

Pretty cool!

Below is a longer explanation of the study using limnocorrals courtesy of the University of Central Florida UCF Today!


bongo net

A potential treatment for Florida’s devastating red tides took another step toward widespread deployment after successful testing in Sarasota Bay.

Additional detailed data analysis is required to confirm results, but UCF Assistant Professor of Biology Kristy Lewis is encouraged by the large-scale test of a red tide mitigation technology called clay flocculation that was performed in partnership with Mote Marine Laboratory.

This study is the first successful test of any red tide mitigation technology in open water using large water column containers called limnocorrals. These tubes — about six feet in diameter — extend from the waters’ surface to the ocean floor, allowing scientists to test real ocean conditions within a controlled setting. Think of it like a giant test tube.

Experts and technicians from Mote Marine Laboratory and funding from Florida Sea Grant provided the necessary resources to set eight limnocorrals into Sarasota Bay. Four columns were treated with a fine spray of the clay solution, while the other four served as a control.

Clay flocculation works by the clay attaching to the Karenia brevis algae, which is responsible for Florida red tide, and sinking them to the ocean floor. Lewis has spent the last three years carefully testing the impact of introducing this non-native mineral into the ocean ecosystem. She’s not only looking for changes in the water’s nutrients and quality, but also evaluating how the clay impacts the health of invertebrates like blue crabs, sea urchins and clams.

“We want to make sure the cure is not worse than the disease,” she says.

Initial plans for the large-scale test were simply to measure the impact of the clay on the ecosystem, but the unexpected appearance of an actual red tide event heightened the realism of the experiment. Initial results suggest the clay performed as expected, but there’s still a question of whether the algae’s toxins remain dormant or active on the ocean floor. Water samples collected during the experiment should provide an answer.

The tests are the latest in a long chain of progressively larger-scale experiments — from tiny test tubes, to 5-gallon tanks and 300-gallon replicas of Sarasota Bay. Next steps depend on the outcome of test results, but there are already plans to investigate what happens to the clay-coated algae when it’s used near seagrass beds and then distributed by tide and currents.

More than a dozen people were involved in setting up and running the experiment over the course of four days, including Emily Hall, co-investigator on the grant and senior scientist and program manager from Mote Marine Laboratory. Lewis also credits UCF assistant professors of biology Michelle Gaither and Robert Fitak for providing the necessary technicians and equipment to carry out the experiment. Doctoral student John Kristoffer “JK” Andres will analyze the outcomes of this experiment as part of his dissertation research.

Visiting Sarasota, Florida, in the middle of a red tide event reminded Lewis just how critical the research is to restoring the state’s coastal health and the corresponding fallout on its economy. Lewis says she’s prepared to go another three years if that’s what it takes to find a concrete solution to red tide.

“I want to take every precaution and do our due diligence to ensure we are not doing more harm than good,” she says. “When it’s time to convince policy makers and the people who can take action, we will be prepared.”

The work is the next step in the Lewis’ research to find a method to combat red tide.


Turkey’s President Erdogan says he will back Finland’s entry into NATO!

Finland's Sauli Niinisto (L) told the Turkish president that he hoped Sweden and Finland would both be part of Nato by July

Finnish President Sauli Niinisto and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Dear Commons Community,

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday that his government would move forward with ratifying Finland’s NATO application, paving the way for the country to join the military bloc ahead of Sweden.

The breakthrough came as Finnish President Sauli Niinisto was in Ankara to meet with Erdogan. Both Finland and Sweden applied to become NATO members 10 months ago in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, abandoning decades of nonalignment.

NATO requires the unanimous approval of its 30 existing members to expand, and Turkey and Hungary are the only countries that have not yet ratified the Nordic nations’ bids. Hungary has indicated that it will approve entry for Finland and Sweden later this year. The Turkish government accused both Sweden and Finland of being too soft on groups that it deems to be terror organizations, but expressed more reservations about Sweden.

“When it comes to fulfilling its pledges in the trilateral memorandum of understanding, we have seen that Finland has taken authentic and concrete steps,” Erdogan told a news conference in Ankara following his meeting with Niinisto.

“This sensitivity for our country’s security and, based on the progress that has been made in the protocol for Finland’s accession to NATO, we have decided to initiate the ratification process in our parliament,“ the president added.

With Erdogan’s agreement, Finland’s application can now go to the Turkish parliament, where the president’s party and its allies hold a majority. Ratification is expected before Turkey holds its presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for May 14.

Commenting on Turkey’s willingness to consider ratifying Sweden’s accession to NATO, Erdogan said it would “depend on the solid steps Sweden will take.”

Explaining the difference between the Nordic countries from Ankara’s viewpoint, Erdogan claimed that Sweden had “embraced terrorism,” and cited demonstrations by supporters of Kurdish militants on the streets of Stockholm. “Such demonstrations do not take place in Finland,” he said. “For that reason we had to consider (Finland) separately from Sweden.”

Niinisto welcomed Turkey’s willingness to move on his country’s bid but also expressed solidarity with its neighbor. “I have a feeling that Finnish NATO membership is not complete without Sweden,” he said.

Referring to a NATO summit scheduled for July in Lithuania’s capital, Niinisto added: “I would like to see in Vilnius that we will meet the alliance of 32 members.”

Turkey, Finland and Sweden signed a memorandum of understanding in June of last year to resolve differences over the Nordic states’ membership.

The document included clauses addressing Ankara’s claims that Stockholm and Helsinki did not take seriously enough its concerns with those it considers terrorists, particularly supporters of Kurdish militants who have waged a 39-year insurgency in Turkey and people Ankara associates with a 2016 coup attempt.

Good news for Finland and bad news for Russia!


International Criminal Court Issues Arrest Warrant for Vladimir Putin for War Crimes!

Ukraine War Live: ICC Issues Arrest Warrant Against Russian Prez Putin,  Accused Of 'War Crimes' - YouTube

Dear Commons Community,

The International Criminal Court yesterday issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for war crimes because of his alleged involvement in abductions of children from Ukraine.

The court said in a statement that Putin “is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population (children) and that of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”

It also issued a warrant for the arrest of Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights in the Office of the President of the Russian Federation, on similar allegations.

The court’s president, Piotr Hofmanski, said in a video statement that while the ICC’s judges have issued the warrants, it will be up to the international community to enforce them. The court has no police force of its own to enforce warrants.  As reported by the Associated Press.

“The ICC is doing its part of work as a court of law,” he said. “The judges issued arrest warrants. The execution depends on international cooperation.”

A possible trial of any Russians at the ICC remains a long way off, as Moscow does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction— a position reaffirmed by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in a first reaction to the warrants.

“The decisions of the International Criminal Court have no meaning for our country, including from a legal point of view,” she said.

Ukraine also is not a member of the court, but it has granted the ICC jurisdiction over its territory and ICC prosecutor Karim Khan has visited four times since opening an investigation a year ago.

The ICC said that its pre-trial chamber found there were “reasonable grounds to believe that each suspect bears responsibility for the war crime of unlawful deportation of population and that of unlawful transfer of population from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, in prejudice of Ukrainian children.”

The court statement said that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for the child abductions “for having committed the acts directly, jointly with others and/or through others (and) for his failure to exercise control properly over civilian and military subordinates who committed the acts.

After his most recent visit, in early March, ICC prosecutor Khan said he visited a care home for children two kilometers from frontlines in southern Ukraine.

“The drawings pinned on the wall … spoke to a context of love and support that was once there. But this home was empty, a result of alleged deportation of children from Ukraine to the Russian Federation or their unlawful transfer to other parts of the temporarily occupied territories,” he said in a statement. “As I noted to the United Nations Security Council last September, these alleged acts are being investigated by my Office as a priority. Children cannot be treated as the spoils of war.”

And while Russia rejected the allegations and warrants of the court as null and void, others said the ICC action will have an important impact.

“The ICC has made Putin a wanted man and taken its first step to end the impunity that has emboldened perpetrators in Russia’s war against Ukraine for far too long,” said Balkees Jarrah, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “The warrants send a clear message that giving orders to commit, or tolerating, serious crimes against civilians may lead to a prison cell in The Hague.”

This is an important symbolic gesture that will likely never see any type of trial!


Next Step in Artificial Intelligence:  Microsoft Integrating “Copilot” AI into Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook!



AI Robot working at computer

Dear Commons Community,

Microsoft is infusing artificial intelligence tools into its suite of office software, including Word, Excel and Outlook emails.

The company said yesterday the new feature, named Copilot, is a processing engine that will allow users to do things like summarize long emails, draft stories in Word and animate slides in PowerPoint.

Microsoft 365 General Manager Colette Stallbaumer said the new features are currently only available for 20 enterprise customers. It will roll it out for more enterprise customers over the coming months.

Microsoft is marketing the feature as a tool that will allow workers to be more productive by freeing up time they usually spend in their inbox, or allowing them to more easily analyze trends in Excel. The tech giant will also add a chat function called Business Chat, which resembles the popular ChatGPT. It takes commands and carries out actions — like summarizing an email about a particular project to co-workers — using user data.

“Today marks the next major step in the evolution of how we interact with computing, which will fundamentally change the way we work and unlock a new wave of productivity growth,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement.

Microsoft rival Google said this week it is integrating generative AI tools into its own Workspace applications, such as Google Docs, Gmail and Slides. Google says it will be rolling out the features to its “trusted testers on a rolling basis throughout the year.”

Microsoft’s announcement came two days after OpenAI, which powers the generative AI technology Microsoft is relying on, rolled out its latest artificial intelligence model, GPT-4.

This is a major new development in AI mainly because it will be readily available in many digital applications that are commonly used by the vast majority of people.


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