January 31, 2017 Last Updated 7:42 am

Journalists quick to compare AG firing to Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre; eBook service Shelfie shuts down servers today

Morning Brief: Apple to release earnings after the bell, but what normally would lead the news today seems rather trivial when thousands of protestors are filling the streets

The apparently never-ending soap opera that is the new US government is proving exhausting for many journalists. More than a few have expressed the opinion that it is hard to believe that the Trump administration could go from one crisis to another, each day, without simply collapsing from within. Last night, of course, the drama involved Sally Q. Yates, the acting attorney general, who said earlier in the day that the Department of Justice would not defend Donald Trump’s executive order banning Muslims from seven countries from entering the US. She was quickly fired and replaced.

Breitbart celebrates firing

Many journalists immediately began comparing the firing of Yates to the Saturday Night Massacre that occurred in 1973 under Richard Nixon. That probably is a wrong thing to do, though one can understand the instinct to do it. We are in unprecedented territory here, and there are very few things in history we can compare this administration’s actions to.

In 1973, Attorney General Elliot Richardson was asked by Richard Nixon to fire the independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox for demanding that Nixon hand over his oval office tapes. Nixon saw it as a direct threat and wanted Cox fire, Richardson wouldn’t do it, so resigned instead – as did Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus. Nixon then ordered the Solicitor General, Robert Bork to fire Cox, and he did, something that he had to defend when he was nominated (and rejected) for the Supreme Court.

The new president is within his rights to fire his attorney general, but not a special prosecutor, so there will be no impeachment over the firing of Yates. Yet the firing appears to signal that Trump will not tolerate dissent, and the rule of law will be of secondary importance to having the administration’s demands met.

The New York Times, Michael D. Shear, Mark Landler, Matt Apuzzo and Eric Lichtblau:

Trump Fires Acting Attorney General Who Defied Him

President Trump fired his acting attorney general on Monday night, removing her as the nation’s top law enforcement officer after she defiantly refused to defend his executive order closing the nation’s borders to refugees and people from predominantly Muslim countries.

In an escalating crisis for his 10-day-old administration, the president declared in a statement that Sally Q. Yates, who had served as deputy attorney general under President Barack Obama, had betrayed the administration by announcing that Justice Department lawyers would not defend Mr. Trump’s order against legal challenges…

…Ms. Yates’s order was a remarkable rebuke by a government official to a sitting president, and it recalled the so-called Saturday Night Massacre in 1973, when President Richard M. Nixon fired his attorney general and deputy attorney general for refusing to dismiss the special prosecutor in the Watergate case.

USA Today, Steph Solis (no link due to obnoxious auto-play video):

For some, Sally Yates’ firing resembles Saturday Night Massacre

Many compared what happened to Yates, an Obama holdover who defied Trump’s executive order suspending immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries, to former President Richard Nixon’s clash with his Attorney General’s Office over the handling of the Watergate investigation. That disagreement led to the resignations of Attorney General Elliot L. Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William D. Ruckelshaus…

…Presidents and their attorneys general have clashed time and time again. Attorney General John Ashford almost resigned in 2004 after two White House officials tried to push him to approve former President George W. Bush’s secret wiretapping program — all while in the hospital for pancreatitis, according to Salon. But Yates’ is the first public ouster of an attorney general since the Nixon-era. Enter the Internet drawing parallels between Yates and Richardson, two attorney generals who left their post after refusing to follow the president’s orders.

“Clashes between presidents and attorney generals aren’t unprecedented, but neither are they common,” said Sean P. Cunningham, a history professor at Texas Tech University.



The daily, massive protests that are occurring around the country have not, of course, gone unnoticed elsewhere in the world. One can only imagine what the turmoil will do to the tourist trade. But it also will go into the decisions being made by trade groups, academics, potential exchange students, etc.

Inside Higher Ed, Elizabeth Redden:

Boycotting the U.S.

The new target of the academic boycott movement is the United States.

More than 3,000 academics from around the world have signed on to a call to boycott international academic conferences held in the United States in solidarity with those affected by Trump’s executive order barring entry by nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries. The ban on entry into the U.S. has left some students and scholars with valid visas stranded outside the country while others are stuck inside it, unable to leave the U.S. for personal or professional reasons for fear they won’t be let back in…

…“When we saw the recent news about what’s been dubbed the Muslim ban, we questioned what we could do as academics,” said Nadine El-Enany, a lecturer in law at Birkbeck School of Law at the University of London and an organizer of the call to boycott conferences.

“As academics, we felt that the best way that we could demonstrate very clearly that we are unwilling to benefit from privileges that are so unfairly, unjustly denied others is to refuse to take up those privileges but also to clearly indicate that our business, as educators, cannot go on as normal while such an emergency is happening,” said El-Enany, who has withdrawn from an upcoming conference on law, culture and the humanities hosted by Stanford University.



There is very little barrier to entry to creating a new eBook or digital magazine newsstand. One fires up the app and solicits publishers. It has led to a very fragmented market… for a while.

Eventually, readers settle into their habits, and a small number of platforms survive. It is a brutal business, where every platform attempts to differentiate itself in some way. Whether that difference is enough will determine how long they can stay in business.

Shelfie:

Shelfie is Shutting Down

We regret to inform you that Shelfie will be ceasing operations on January 31, 2017.

What this means for Shelfie users:

  • Our servers will be shutting down on January 31. You can re-download any DRM-free books between now and then.
  • You no longer have access to DRM (.acsm) books.
  • Your app will cease to function in a meaningful way on January 31.

We started Shelfie with the idea of connecting books and readers and we have worked hard over the past four years to make that a reality. We are grateful for the support we have received from amazing readers like you, who have been a part of Shelfie.

Keep reading,

The Shelfie Team

The Digital Reader, Nate Hoffelder:

Shelfie to Shutdown on 31 January – Download Your eBooks NOW

Launched in 2013, Shelfie (or as it was known then, Bitlit) was based on a simple idea. Download its app, take a photo of the print books on your shelves, and it would tell you which titles had matching ebooks you could download for free or at a low cost…

..Shelfie was unique in that it was built to be platform independent and work with participating any publisher. Shelfie offered both DRM-free and DRMed ebooks, and in 2015 it added audiobooks.

Shelfie signed over a hundred publishers to offer their titles through its platform, and it also worked with indie bookstores. Participating bookstores found that they could almost double their sales by promoting a book as having an optional bundle through Shelfie…

…Basically, Shelfie died for the same reason Entitle died, or why Readmill sold out to Dropbox. They simply could not sustain themselves on the crumbs left by the major ebook platforms.



Apple releases its quarterly earnings after the bell this afternoon. Normally, this would be the big news of the day, at least for tech reporters. But as many journalists have said recently, we all cover politics today. Tech reporters that never had to deal with political issues are today being handed statements regarding immigration bans.

So, when CEO Tim Cook fields questions this afternoon during the investor conference call, you can be sure that at least one analyst will want to ask about Trump’s immigration ban. Whether Cook will choose that question, or evade it will be up to him. But investor conference calls are about as close as we come here in the States to Prime Minister questions time.

VentureBeat, Chris O’Brien:

Apple faces big earnings test with eyes on iPhone sales, service revenues, China, and what comes

Every Apple earnings release has a way of feeling like the Super Bowl of corporate finance. That’s just part of the game when you’re the world’s most valuable company and expectations are stratospheric every time you take the field.

But the release of Apple’s Q1 2017 earnings later today carries particular weight for a company coming off a tough 2016. Last fiscal year, the company reported its first annual decline in revenue in over a decade. Every major category of hardware declined, in terms of units sold from the previous year.

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