Grifters and Sadists Rule the Roost ; US’s Muddled Involvement With Syria ...and More Picks 1/15

Study: US Aquifers Have Much Less Water Than Previously Thought (Chris)

From the Revelator: “‘We found that the average depth of water resources across the country was about half of what people had previously estimated,’ says Jennifer McIntosh, a distinguished scholar and professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona.”

Grifters and Sadists Rule the Roost (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “Welcome to Trump’s America, where grifters in power line their pockets and ordinary workers are treated with absolute contempt.”

Guess What Government Agency Is Working During the Shutdown: the IRS (Dan)

The good news? Tax refunds will still be sent out. The bad news? Affluent tax dodgers, who often use complicated schemes to avoid paying what’s owed, will be more off the hook than usual.

The FBI’s Investigation of Trump as a ‘National Security Threat’ Is Itself a Serious Danger. But J. Edgar Hoover Pioneered the Tactic. (Jimmy)

The author writes, “It’s the FBI’s job to investigate possible crimes under the law or infiltration by foreign powers, not ideological sins. If a politician adopts policy views that are ‘threatening’ to US national security or which is unduly accommodating to America’s adversaries or ‘enemies,’ that’s not a crime and the FBI thus has no business using its vast investigative powers against a politician who does that.”

‘Tell Me How This Ends’ — America’s Muddled Involvement With Syria (Reader Luke)

The author writes, “As with his call a year earlier for Assad to step aside, Obama’s chemical-­weapons declaration would haunt him. A former US ambassador to the Middle East told me, ‘The “red line” was an open invitation to a false-­flag operation.’”