1. says


    There was another terrorist attack in Cambrils before five suspects were shot dead, authorities have confirmed.

    A spokesman for the regional government of Catalonia said:

    The alleged terrorists were in an Audi A3 and apparently knocked down several people before coming across a police patrol and a shoot-out ensued.

    Seven people, including one police officer, were injured. The officer’s injuries are not life-threatening but one other person is critically injured and another seriously.

    The five suspects were in an Audi A3 car, which was driven deliberately into pedestrians on the seafront in Cambrils on Thursday evening.

    Police said some of the attackers were wearing what looked like explosive belts, adding that they were “working on the hypothesis that the terrorists shot dead in Cambrils could be linked to what happened in Barcelona”.

  2. blf says

    The Grauniad is pointing out that despite other advisory boards disbanding in protest, hair furor’s evangelical panel is intact and none of its members have condemned teh nazi or his comments, Trump’s evangelical panel remains intact as others disband. […]:

    As three other advisory boards disband following the president’s [sic] response to the Virginia violence, Jerry Falwell Jr tweets support for Trump

    [… T]he president’s [sic] religious evangelical advisory board, a mix of radical born-again preachers, televangelists and conservative political influencers, still stands pristine. Not only have members avoided criticism of the president [sic], while occasionally scolding the violence in general — some have been openly supportive of Trump’s statements assigning blame on many sides and slamming those who turned up to oppose the militant neo-Nazis.

    Jerry Falwell Jr tweeted on Wednesday: Finally, a leader in the White House. Jobs returning, North Korea backing down, bold truthful statement about Charlottesville tragedy. So proud of Donald Trump. […]

    The article then goes on to list and give a brief description of the members of teh trum-prats council of nazis. Some of them are:

    ● Michele Bachmann
    ● James Dobson
    ● Jerry Falwell Jr
    ● Robert Jeffress

    …you get the idea. A gallery of some of the most evil bigoted scammers you can find.

  3. says

    Barcelona/Cambrils attacks:

    – they still haven’t officially identified the perpetrator of the Barcelona attack; four people have been detained so far
    – a woman who was a victim in the Cambrils attack has now died
    people from 34 countries were killed or injured in the Barcelona attack
    – the Cambrils attackers had an axe and knives in their car, and stabbed someone in the face before they were killed; they also wore belts with fake explosives
    – none of the four people arrested had a history of terrorist involvement

  4. says

    “‘Art of the Deal’ Ghostwriter Thinks President Trump Will Resign Before the End of the Year”:

    The ghostwriter of Donald Trump’s famous memoir The Art of the Deal doubled down on his prediction that Trump will resign the presidency before the end of the year.

    “The snowball is beginning to gather momentum as it comes down the mountain,” Tony Schwartz told Anderson Cooper on CNN Thursday. “It reminds me a lot of Watergate and the last days of Nixon… He’s put himself in an isolated, no-win position. The level of his destructiveness is staggering.”

    His television appearance echoed tweets he had published the day before saying Trump would resign office — and soon….

    David Cay Johnston was on All In last night saying that Trump’s behavior is only going to get uglier and more destructive.

  5. says

    Trump is tweeting:

    “The Obstructionist Democrats make Security for our country very difficult. They use the courts and associated delay at all times. Must stop!”

    “Radical Islamic Terrorism must be stopped by whatever means necessary! The courts must give us back our protective rights. Have to be tough!”

    He gets more dangerous by the hour.

  6. blf says

    Trump could lose honorary law degree after Charlottesville remarks (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    ● Lehigh University considers rescinding president’s [sic] doctor of laws status
    ● Robert Gordon University took back Trump’s honorary business degree in 2015

    One of the three universities to give Donald Trump an honorary doctorate is considering whether to revoke it in the wake of his controversial comments about the violence in Charlottesville last weekend.

    The board of trustees at Lehigh University […] will decide whether to rescind the president’s [sic] doctor of laws status when it next convenes in October.

    If Trump is stripped of his degree it would be the second time controversial remarks have cost him an honorary academic qualification. Robert Gordon University, in Aberdeen [Scotland], revoked Trump’s honorary doctorate in 2015.

    The move by Lehigh comes after Kelly McCoy, a former student, launched a petition urging the university to revoke Trump’s doctorate.


    McCoy wrote: “{Trump’s} rejection of diversity and his lack of respect for the differences of others around him stands in direct opposition to the principles laid out here. He does not reflect Lehigh University’s values. Therefore, he does not deserve to bear the distinction of an honorary degree from Lehigh.”


    Trump is currently the holder of four honorary doctorates. He was made honorary doctor of laws by Lehigh in 1988, honorary doctor of humane letters by Wagner College, in Staten Island, in 2004, and he holds two honorary doctorates from Liberty University [sic], in Lynchburg, Virginia.

    In February, 33 academics at Wagner College co-signed a letter condemning Trump’s actions since he took office. The letter, published in the Staten Island Advance, said Trump’s travel ban, stance on climate change, and stance on LGBTQ rights represented “a threat to our democracy, our economy, our American values, our international alliances”.

    Asked if Wagner College is considering revoking Trump’s honorary doctorate, spokesman Lee Manchester said: “We have no comment on this story”.


  7. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Any word on Miller and Gorka? *crosses fingers in futile hope*

  8. says

    Here’s the NYT article about the meeting referred to in #29:

    President Trump dined on Thursday night at his Bedminster golf club with a handful of his most generous donors, as he tried to build support for his hobbled legislative agenda amid mounting criticism from within his own party, three people briefed on the dinner said.

    The dinner was scheduled weeks ago as part of a donor-outreach initiative by the Trump administration as it prepares an overhaul of the tax code, according to several people involving in the planning.

    But it came as the White House is struggling to move past the racially charged controversy that Mr. Trump fueled in the wake of the deadly white supremacist rally last weekend in Charlottesville, Va….

    The invited donors and their families have combined to donate millions of dollars to committees supporting Mr. Trump’s campaign and inauguration, and Mr. Trump’s team hopes they will contribute millions more to groups pushing his legislative agenda. They included the New York investor Robert Mercer, the Kentucky coal executive Joseph W. Craft and the Wisconsin roofing magnate Diane Hendricks, according to people familiar with the dinner.

    Mr. Mercer’s presence was noteworthy, since the White House confirmed Friday that Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, had been ousted. Mr. Mercer has long funded the political and business activities of Mr. Bannon, who was brought onto Mr. Trump’s campaign at the recommendation of Mr. Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah Mercer.

    …The White House has worked assiduously to cultivate more support from advocacy groups and their donors ahead of a push to overhaul the tax code. Their support could be even more critical if businesses and trade groups, which might otherwise support tax reform, hold back out of concern of affiliating with Mr. Trump.

    Populism all around!

  9. militantagnostic says

    SC @37

    Bannon is already back in charge of Breitbart.

    Back to the ministry of truth.

  10. says


    …“The Trump presidency that we fought for, and won, is over,” Bannon said Friday, shortly after confirming his departure. “We still have a huge movement, and we will make something of this Trump presidency. But that presidency is over. It’ll be something else. And there’ll be all kinds of fights, and there’ll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over.”

    Bannon assigns blame for the thwarting of his program on “the West Wing Democrats,” but holds special disdain for the Washington establishment – especially those Republicans who have, he believes, willfully failed to provide Trump with meaningful victories.

    And, he believes, things are about to get worse for Trump. “There’s about to be a jailbreak of these moderate guys on the Hill” – a stream of Republican dissent, which could become a flood.

    As for himself, Bannon says the fight is just beginning.

    “I feel jacked up,” he says. “Now I’m free. I’ve got my hands back on my weapons. Someone said, ‘it’s Bannon the Barbarian.’ I am definitely going to crush the opposition. There’s no doubt. I built a fucking machine at Breitbart. And now I’m about to go back, knowing what I know, and we’re about to rev that machine up. And rev it up we will do.”

  11. Hj Hornbeck says

    At least now we know what the swamps will be filled with.

    The Trump administration has ended a six-year-old ban on selling bottled water at some national parks that was aimed at easing plastic pollution and the huge amount of waste being recycled. In a statement that closely tracked the arguments of a campaign by the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) in opposition to the ban, the National Park Service said the 2011 action under the Obama administration “removed the healthiest beverage choice at a variety of parks while still allowing sales of bottled sweetened drinks.” The move follows a review of the policy “in close consultation with Department of Interior leadership,” according to the statement Wednesday. The department declined to elaborate. The decision came three weeks after the Senate confirmation of David Bernhardt as deputy interior secretary. Bernhardt is a former lobbyist with the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which has represented one of the largest water bottlers in the United States, Nestlé Waters. Nestlé distributes the Deer Park brand.

  12. says

    Jason Kessler, organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, tweeted something evil about Heather Heyer last night – “On Saturday morning, the tweet had been deleted from Kessler’s account, which initially claimed he’d been hacked but then backtracked and said he’d been on a mixture of drugs.” His account has since been deleted.

    I noted several days ago that some of the Unite the Right rallyers were members/leaders of College Republicans on different campuses. Here’s an interesting article about the meaning of this movement for the Republican Party:

    This is the state of the GOP leadership pipeline. In a decade, state legislatures will start filling up with Gamergaters, MRAs, /pol/ posters, Anime Nazis, and Proud Boys. These are, as of now, the only people in their age cohort becoming more active in Republican politics in the Trump era. Everyone else is fleeing. This will be the legacy of Trumpism: It won’t be long before voters who reflexively check the box labeled “Republican” because their parents did, or because they think their property taxes are too high, or because Fox made them scared of terrorism, start electing Pepe racists to Congress.

  13. blf says

    Follow-up to @46, Trump attacks Boston counter-protesters as anti-police agitators:

    Donald Trump described anti-fascist and anti-racist demonstrators who converged on Boston as anti-police agitators on Saturday […]

    Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston, Trump tweeted. Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you.


    Another counter-protester, who gave his name only as Paul, told the Guardian: “Well, he is not wrong. Our generation has been radicalized by police murdering people of color. And cops shut down a massive section of Boston and protected about 25 rightwingers while 45,000 people joined counter-protests.

    “I think for a lot of people it’s clear what side the police are on. It wasn’t on the side of the people protesting white nationalists even though Marty Walsh {the mayor of Boston} talked tough earlier in the week.”


    Opponents feared that white nationalists might show up in Boston, raising the specter of ugly confrontations in the first potentially large and racially charged gathering in a major US city since Charlottesville. But only a few hundred conservatives turned out for the rally on Boston Common, in stark contrast to the estimated 40,000 counter-protesters and the conservatives abruptly left early.

    One of the planned speakers of the conservative activist rally said the event fell apart.

    Too bad it wasn’t a Cable Street where the nazis were bombarded before abandoning.

  14. says

    “I think for a lot of people it’s clear what side the police are on. It wasn’t on the side of the people protesting white nationalists even though Marty Walsh {the mayor of Boston} talked tough earlier in the week.”

    On the other hand, this was the Boston Chief of Police today.

  15. says

    “500 Neo-Nazis Rally in Berlin, and Meet Strong Opposition”: “…The Hess supporters were forced to turn back about a half-mile short of Spandau Prison because of a blockade formed by counterprotesters…”

    Trump has a rally planned in Arizona on Tuesday, at which he’s hinted he could possibly pardon the appalling racist Joe Arpaio. Major peaceful resistance is being organized, and people in the WH are reportedly very concerned about the event.

  16. says

    “Confederate Statues Were Built To Further A ‘White Supremacist Future'”:

    …Yet many historians say the argument about preserving Southern history doesn’t hold up when you consider the timing of when the “beautiful” statues, as Trump called them, went up.

    “Most of the people who were involved in erecting the monuments were not necessarily erecting a monument to the past,” said Jane Dailey, an associate professor of history at the University of Chicago.”But were rather, erecting them toward a white supremacist future.”

    The most recent comprehensive study of Confederate statues and monuments across the country was published by the Southern Poverty Law Center last year. A look at this chart shows huge spikes in construction twice during the 20th century: in the early 1900s, and then again in the 1950s and 60s. Both were times of extreme civil rights tension.

    In the early 1900s, states were enacting Jim Crow laws to disenfranchise black Americans. In the middle part of the century, the civil rights movement pushed back against that segregation.

    James Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association, says that the increase in statues and monuments was clearly meant to send a message.

    “These statues were meant to create legitimate garb for white supremacy,” Grossman said. “Why would you put a statue of Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson in 1948 in Baltimore?”

    “Who erects a statue of former Confederate generals on the very heels of fighting and winning a war for democracy?” writes Dailey, in a piece for HuffPost, referencing the just-ended World War II. “People who want to send a message to black veterans, the Supreme Court, and the president of the United States, that’s who.”

    To build Confederate statues, says Dailey, in public spaces, near government buildings, and especially in front of court houses, was a “power play” meant to intimidate those looking to come to the “seat of justice or the seat of the law.”…

  17. says

    David Fahrenthold has to keep updating his story on charitable organizations pulling their events from Mar-a-Lago as more drop out – I think it’s up to 9 (of 16 scheduled for the winter social season) formal cancellations with several more moving in that direction: “These losses could reduce the club’s revenue by hundreds of thousands of dollars by each event, and deny President Trump his dual role as president and host to the island’s partying elite. If he returns to the club for weekends next winter, the president could often find its grand ballrooms quiet and empty.”

  18. says

    “In Turkey, Schools Will Stop Teaching Evolution This Fall”:

    When children in Turkey head back to school this fall, something will be missing from their textbooks: any mention of evolution.

    The Turkish government is phasing in what it calls a values-based curriculum. Critics accuse Turkey’s president of pushing a more conservative, religious ideology — at the expense of young people’s education.

    At a news conference last month, Turkey’s education minister announced that new textbooks will be introduced in all primary and secondary schools, starting with grades 1, 5 and 9 this fall, and the rest next year. They will stop teaching evolution in grade 9, when it’s usually taught.

    “Evolutionary biology is best left to be taught at the university level,” Education Minister Ismet Yilmaz told reporters. “It’s a theory that requires a higher philosophical understanding than schoolchildren have.”

    “Among scientists, of course, we feel very sorry and very, very worried for the country,” says Ali Alpar, an astrophysicist and president of Turkey’s Science Academy, an independent group that opposes the new curriculum. A Turkish association of biologists and teachers’ unions have also expressed concern about the new textbooks.

    “It is not only evolution. Evolution is a test case. It is about rationality — about whether the curriculum should be built on whatever the government chooses to be the proper values,” Alpar says. He also objects to how the government has converted many secular public schools into religious ones — Turkey’s publicly funded Imam Hatip schools — in recent years….

  19. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    MSNBC is reporting that Jerry Lewis, comedian and MD fundraiser, is dead. I feel that the Redhead’s spirit will be saddened by the news, as she was a fan.

  20. lumipuna says

    Details are trickling slowly about the Finnish mass stabbing incident that occurred on Friday (mentioned by SC #14). The police are calling it terrorism but no specification like “Islamic terrorism” yet. Two victims are dead and eight injured. The lone attacker was shot and hospitalized, he will likely survive. He’s a young Moroccan man who arrived last year as an asylum seeker; his current asylum status is not disclosed. Heated debate on refugees will now ensue.

    The victims are mostly women, which “may have been intentional” or not. The only two injured men were stabbed while trying to help victims. Incidentally, both of these heroes seem to have some sort of ME background (one is a UK citizen living in Sweden).

  21. militantagnostic says


    Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence and three times is enemy action. So far we are only at twice. However, GPS spoofing is a thing.

  22. militantagnostic says

    Lumpina @65

    The victims are mostly women, which “may have been intentional” or not. The only two injured men were stabbed while trying to help victims. Incidentally, both of these heroes seem to have some sort of ME background (one is a UK citizen living in Sweden).

    When I heard this yesterday, I thought of the misogynist who shot several female engineering students at the Ecole Polytechnic in Montreal. I noticed several of the right wing British Newspapers making of big deal about the heroic Brit. I wonder if they knew he had a Middle Eastern background when they wrote those articles.

  23. lumipuna says


    I have a hunch that the attacker had some grudge against “western women”, possibly Islam or ISIS inspired and definitely inspired by sexual resentment.

    Just heard there was already a racist protest + counterprotest in Turku on Saturday, so fingers were flipped at racists on the same day in Boston and Turku.

  24. says

    The US embassy in Russia is suspending non-immigrant visas: “In a step that could affect hundreds of thousands of Russian tourists, the U.S. Embassy in Russia said Monday it would suspend issuing nonimmigrant visas for eight days from Wednesday in response to the Russian decision to cap embassy staff.”

    They’ll resume issuing them on September 1st, but only in Moscow and on a limited basis. This will affect large numbers of Russians.

  25. says

    “Exclusive: Secret Service depletes funds to pay agents because of Trump’s frequent travel, large family”:

    The Secret Service can no longer pay hundreds of agents it needs to carry out an expanded protective mission – in large part due to the sheer size of President Trump’s family and efforts necessary to secure their multiple residences up and down the East Coast.

    Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles, in an interview with USA TODAY, said more than 1,000 agents have already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances that were meant to last the entire year.

    The agency has faced a crushing workload since the height of the contentious election season, and it has not relented in the first seven months of the administration. Agents must protect Trump – who has traveled almost every weekend to his properties in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia – and his adult children whose business trips and vacations have taken them across the country and overseas.

    “The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,” Alles said. “I can’t change that. I have no flexibility.”

    Alles said the service is grappling with an unprecedented number of White House protectees.

    It’s outrageous. Congress has to ensure that these people are paid in full for their work. Additionally, Christina Wilkie reports: “I also hear from multiple sources that Secret Service agents are at the end of their rope, sick of being treated like servants by Trump.” Trump treats them badly* while he and his family make them do unpaid work, all while tens of thousands of public dollars go from the Secret Service into his coffers.

    * Note the Trump Org. tried to gouge them for rent in Trump Tower and when they refused to be extorted they had to move to a trailer on the street.

  26. says

    “Lobbyist at Trump Campaign Meeting Has a Web of Russian Connections”:

    Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian immigrant who met last summer with senior Trump campaign officials, has often struck colleagues as a classic Washington mercenary — loyal to his wife, his daughter and his bank account. He avoided work that would antagonize Moscow, they suggested, only because he profited from his reputation as a man with valuable connections there.

    But interviews with his associates and documents reviewed by The New York Times indicate that Mr. Akhmetshin, who is under scrutiny by the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, has much deeper ties to the Russian government and Kremlin-backed oligarchs than previously known….

  27. says

    So Bannon or his allies seed a narrative at Vanity Fair (the second link @ #74) and then source their story to VF.

    Here’s the pertinent passage in the VF article:

    On Sunday, Breitbart took renewed aim at McMaster, with a headline claiming he advocated “Quran Kissing.” But most of all, there’s a deep animosity between Bannon and Kushner, amplified by a lack of respect. Bannon finds Kushner’s political instincts highly questionable. “He said Jared is a dope,” one Bannon ally recalled. The two clashed fiercely on personnel decisions and policy debates, both domestic and international, many of which Bannon lost. But Bannon, who was the only West Wing advisor to publicly support the president’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, is especially galled at being scapegoated as an anti-Semite in its wake. “It’s one of the attacks he takes most personally because it’s not true,” a Breitbart staffer told me. Bannon’s allies lay out a more complicated backstory. Bannon, they say, lobbied Trump aggressively to move America’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but was blocked by Kushner. And, according to three Bannon allies, Bannon pushed a tougher line against the Palestinians than Kushner did. In May, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visited the White House, Bannon stayed home. “I’m not going to breathe the same air as that terrorist,” Bannon texted a friend.

    First, there’s extensive evidence, spanning decades and unrelated to Kushner, that Bannon’s anti-Semitic. Second, aligning with the Israeli far-Right and encouraging actions that would spark more violence in their region isn’t evidence you’re not anti-Semitic. Third, “I hate Muslims more” isn’t evidence you’re not anti-Semitic. Fourth, provoking, providing a platform for, and allying with Nazis and the KKK is fucking anti-Semitic.

    Incidentally, there are now fake antifa accounts being publicized by the far-Right in the US and probably the Kremlin’s propaganda operation. They’re using fake or doctored images and making ridiculous claims. I’ve seen this for many years in rightwing propaganda in Honduras and Venezuela.

  28. says

    “Liberty University graduates return diplomas because of support for Trump by Jerry Falwell Jr.”:

    Since the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. has been a staunch supporter of Donald Trump. For some students and alumni of the evangelical Christian school in Lynchburg, Va., Liberty’s perceived alignment with the president has been a source of “shame and anger,” a group of graduates wrote last week.

    Last week, many reached their breaking point. After Trump’s equivocation about neo-Nazi groups following the violence in Charlottesville, Falwell tweeted that he was “so proud” of Trump for his “bold truthful” statement on the tragedy.

    Falwell appeared on “Fox & Friends” Monday morning to reiterate his support for the president.

    “President Donald Trump does not have a racist bone in his body. I know him well,” Falwell said. “He loves all people. He’s worked so hard to help minorities in the inner cities… He’s doing all the right things to help the people that are in need, the minorities.”

    His television appearance earned him a nod from Trump, who tweeted Monday that Falwell had been “fantastic” on the show.

    “The Fake News should listen to what he had to say,” Trump said on Twitter. “Thanks Jerry!”

    In response to Falwell’s unwavering support of Trump, Liberty University graduates are calling on fellow alumni to take a stand against by returning their diplomas. They are also writing letters to Falwell’s office and to the Board of Trustees, calling for his removal. More than 260 people have joined a Facebook group titled “Return your diploma to LU.”

    By publicly “revoking all ties, all support present and future,” the graduates hope to send a message to the school that “could jeopardize future enrollment, finances and funding,” according to the Facebook group. They are urging graduates to return their diplomas to Falwell’s office by Sept. 5.

    In addition, several alumni have written letter to university officials calling on Falwell to disavow Trump’s statements, NPR reported….

    I’d like to know exactly how much support Falwell and other Christian Right figures and organizations received from Trump and the Kremlin in, say, the four years prior to the election.

  29. Saad says

    SC, #61

    This is so, so, so, so good.

    Awesome. That makes me proud.

    LOL @ Ludacris’s response video!

  30. says

    Brian Beutler:

    …We’ve always known that Trump is a whirling dervish of rampaging Id,* and now it seems that his advisers—assuming their comments are offered in some semblance of good faith—know it too. The irony here is that what the advisers believe is an iron-clad argument for propping up Trump’s presidency is actually an argument for ending it.

    Nobody who claims to be protecting the public from even worse outcomes can credibly claim that their influence will last, or that they’ll be in the right places at the right times whenever Trump’s unbridled instincts tell him to do awful things. Their efforts to extend the Trump presidency expose the public to greater risk, not less.

    Meanwhile, instead of making thin excuses to the press, these same officials could be repurposing their considerable power and influence to make a lasting change.

    The so-called Committee to Save America does not describe a diffuse, unwieldy group of career officials with little influence outside their cubicles. It’s supposedly the eminences of the executive branch, such as the White House chief of staff, the national security adviser, the secretary of defense, and the director of the National Economic Council.

    Among themselves, they lack the formal authority to terminate Trump’s presidency, but it doesn’t take much creativity to imagine how they could build it legitimately, either through political channels or channels outlined in the Constitution.

    Neither of these approaches would guarantee Trump’s resignation or removal, but both would place intense pressure on Congress to end its dereliction of duty.

    * I agree with Beutler’s general point, but not with this particular assessment of Trump’s psychology. I don’t think the “Id” concept is useful in any context.

  31. says

    From the site tracking Kremlin propaganda on Twitter:

    Unrest in the United States was front and center for Russian influence operations on Twitter this week, as users in the network sought to amplify alt-right alarmism about the left-wing Antifa (short for anti-fascist) movement. For consecutive days, the most-tweeted link in the network by far was a petition to declare Antifa a terrorist group. In addition to pushing hashtags and a direct link to the page, stories about the petition were the most-retweeted over the last 24 hours by two different Twitter accounts for Russia today, while the RT-affiliated Ruptly pushed video of a fight between neo-Nazis and Antifa activists in Berlin.

  32. Ice Swimmer says

    The Turku stabber suspect is an 18-year-old from Morocco. He had applied for asylum in Finland and was rejected and had appealed the decision. Somebody had tipped him off to the police in early 2017, suspecting that he was radicalized, but that didn’t lead to any action at the time. The staff in the kebab/pizza place he frequented said that he kept to himself and was quite brusque.

    Two people died and eight were injured. The cops caught him 3 minutes after getting the 112 call, shooting him in the leg in the process.

    Four additional Moroccan men have been arrested, of whom two may have previously committed crimes in Germany (robbery and thefts).

  33. Saad says

    SC, #109

    “BREAKING: After alt-right organizers saw huge counter-protests in Boston, they’ve canceled 67 ‘America First Rallies’ scheduled in 36 states.”

    Wow. What a brave and bold master race, full of conviction and determination.

  34. says

    It’s a minor thing, but it’s strange and creepy that Trump picks up and imitates others’ speech patterns. In the interview quoted @ #39 above, Bannon says “…and rev it up we will do.” Trump’s original heel tweet read “…and heel we will,” and last night’s Afghanistan speech included “…but attack we will.”

  35. says

    “Pressure on Manafort grows as feds track more income, possible money laundering”:

    Paul Manafort’s place in the crosshairs of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Kremlin’s attempts to sway the 2016 presidential election seems to be growing more uncomfortable.

    Two sources familiar with the inquiry tell McClatchy that investigators are working to confirm information indicating that Manafort and the consulting firms he led earned between $80 million and $100 million over a decade from pro-Moscow Ukrainian and Russian clients.

    Mueller’s expanded focus on Manafort’s complicated financial picture is zeroing in on whether he may have evaded taxes or engaged in any money laundering schemes, the sources say, and the hunt for his financial records through a labyrinth of offshore bank and business accounts has become an important prong of the investigation.

    This part: “Besides looking for hidden income and accounts, much of this activity is part of an effort to document signs that Manafort may have been involved in money laundering. People knowledgeable about the probe say investigators are looking intently at whether any of the millions he received from oligarchs and politicians came from corrupt sources, as well as his purchase almost a decade ago of three homes in New York and Florida – including a $3.7 million condo in Trump Tower — for almost $8 million in cash.”

    In cash.

  36. says

    This is an excellent piece by Brian Beutler – “Steve Bannon Is Not Your Friend”:

    …The moral of Devil’s Bargain, the new book by Bloomberg writer Joshua Green about Bannon’s role in the 2016 presidential campaign, is that Bannon’s one proven skill in political combat is the creative deployment of propaganda to damage opponents of his agenda.

    And with that influence, he will return to his core competency of savaging people he perceives as enemies of his cause. On the bright side, those people are, for the moment, Trump advisers who haven’t yet resigned or been fired.

    But over time his targets will change, and he will resume the project he began years ago of increasing the reach of anti-modern, pre-Enlightenment thought in America. His ultimate goal won’t be “economic populism” but the fracturing and weakening of ideals and political norms that have served as bulwarks against white supremacy and other forms of illiberalism.

    …[T]he subtext of Bannon’s decision to air out all of his White House grievances is to delude Trump supporters into believing that the failures of the Trump presidency rest not with him, or even with Trump, but with the remaining coterie of White House “globalists” (read: Jews and their allies) who serve masters other than Trump and Trumpism.

    As worthy as his targets are of criticism, this is ugly stuff. Anyone who monitored the 2016 election closely knows the vitriol won’t always be directed at people who don’t deserve sympathy, nor will it ever be used to advance any worthy long-term goals. Bannon’s mode of persuasion is a depraved one, deployed in the service of depraved goals—even when it is aimed at people who work for Trump.

    Tactics like his would be condemnable even in the service of loftier goals. But it is notable that they are only ever deployed in the service of the worst ideas on the right….

  37. says

    “Trump and McConnell Locked in a Cold War, Threatening the G.O.P. Agenda”:

    The relationship between President Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not spoken to each other in weeks, and Mr. McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises.

    What was once an uneasy governing alliance has curdled into a feud of mutual resentment and sometimes outright hostility, complicated by the position of Mr. McConnell’s wife, Elaine L. Chao, in Mr. Trump’s cabinet, according to more than a dozen people briefed on their imperiled partnership. Angry phone calls and private badmouthing have devolved into open conflict, with the president threatening to oppose Republican senators who cross him, and Mr. McConnell mobilizing to their defense.

    The rupture between Mr. Trump and Mr. McConnell comes at a highly perilous moment for Republicans, who face a number of urgent deadlines when they return to Washington next month….

    During the call, which Mr. Trump initiated on Aug. 9 from his New Jersey golf club, the president accused Mr. McConnell of bungling the health care issue. He was even more animated about what he intimated was the Senate leader’s refusal to protect him from investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to Republicans briefed on the conversation.

    Mr. McConnell has fumed over Mr. Trump’s regular threats against fellow Republicans and criticism of Senate rules, and questioned Mr. Trump’s understanding of the presidency in a public speech. Mr. McConnell has made sharper comments in private, describing Mr. Trump as entirely unwilling to learn the basics of governing.

    In offhand remarks, Mr. McConnell has expressed a sense of bewilderment about where Mr. Trump’s presidency may be headed, and has mused about whether Mr. Trump will be in a position to lead the Republican Party into next year’s elections and beyond, according to people who have spoken to him directly….

  38. microraptor says

    Black Republicans Face ‘Moral Dilemma’ After Trump’s Response to Charlottesville

    WASHINGTON — Gregory Cheadle, the man whom Donald J. Trump famously called “my African-American” at a California campaign rally, watched this month as now-President Trump praised “the good people on both sides” of the deadly melee in Charlottesville, Va., and he decided that possessive word “my” was in grave danger.

    His backing for the president is on “life support,” he said.

    Sign Up For the Morning Briefing Newsletter

    Shermichael Singleton’s support has flatlined. Mr. Singleton was fired from his job as a senior adviser for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in February after previous writings critical of Mr. Trump came to light, yet he remained supportive. No more.

    As the president heads to Phoenix on Tuesday to preach national unity at a campaign-style rally, even ardent supporters in the African-American community say the ties that once connected them to Mr. Trump have frayed badly.

    “It’s difficult to continue to have hope for President Trump,” Mr. Singleton said. “It’s difficult to focus on complex policy issues when you have a country that is falling apart. It’s difficult to focus on health care. It’s difficult focus on the economy. It’s difficult to focus on infrastructure when you have people who dislike other people because of their ethnicity.”

    Sorry, but it was really obvious from the get-go that Dump was a dog with mange. There’s no excuse for being surprised that you’re now feeling itchy. The Republican Party has been obviously anti-minority since longer than I’ve been alive.

  39. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    107 degrees in dry Phenix, is not the equivalent to the same as 107 in Chiwaukee, or anywhere on the right coast north of Virginia. They want my respect Simple, be able to acknowledge you and your “candidate” are wrong on certain issues.

  40. says

    107 degrees in dry Phenix, is not the equivalent to the same as 107 in Chiwaukee, or anywhere on the right coast north of Virginia.

    No one said it was. I’ve been in Arizona on many days/weeks that temperature and with bright sun. It’s hot.

  41. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It’s hot.

    Compared to more humid environment at the same temperature? That was my point, and the point of the former Chiwaukee residents I know retiring to Arizona.

  42. says

    Compared to more humid environment at the same temperature?

    No. Again, I never made that comparison. I have no idea why you did, other than perhaps to suggest that because it’s a dry heat 107 doesn’t feel very hot. It feels hot, especially in the sun.

  43. militantagnostic says

    SC @121
    Seeing shit like that makes me think the US is halfway to being a failed state.

    Imagine what would happen if antifa or black block geared up like that.

  44. says

    Shouldn’t McConnell, who is now a potential witness in an obstruction of justice investigation, have to recuse himself from any decisions related to senate committees that are investigation such?

  45. Hj Hornbeck says

    Via Matthew Rozsa of Salon:

    Daniel M. Kammen, who served as a science envoy for the State Department and focused on renewable energy development in the Middle East and Northern Africa, submitted a letter of resignation on Wednesday. Notably, he began the first letter of each paragraph with letters that spelled out I-M-P-E-A-C-H. That followed a letter earlier this month by writer Jhumpa Lahiri and actor Kal Penn to similarly spell R-E-S-I-S-T in their joint letter of resignation from the President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities.

    Spoiler: Trump’s support of white nationalists was the breaking point.

  46. says

    “Exclusive: Top Trump aide’s email draws new scrutiny in Russia inquiry”:

    Congressional investigators have unearthed an email from a top Trump aide that referenced a previously unreported effort to arrange a meeting last year between Trump campaign officials and Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

    The aide, Rick Dearborn, who is now President Donald Trump’s deputy chief of staff, sent a brief email to campaign officials last year relaying information about an individual who was seeking to connect top Trump officials with Putin, the sources said.

    The person was only identified in the email as being from “WV,” which one source said was a reference to West Virginia. It’s unclear who the individual is, what he or she was seeking, or whether Dearborn even acted on the request. One source said that the individual was believed to have had political connections in West Virginia, but details about the request and who initiated it remain vague.

    Dearborn’s name has not been mentioned much as part of the Russia probe. But he served as then-Sen. Jeff Sessions’ chief of staff, as well as a top policy aide on the campaign. And investigators have questions about whether he played a role in potentially arranging two meetings that occurred between the then-Russia ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, and Sessions, who has downplayed the significance of those encounters.

    Dearborn was involved in helping to arrange an April 2016 event at the Mayflower Hotel where Trump delivered a major foreign policy address, sources said. Kislyak attended the event and a reception beforehand, but it’s unclear whether he interacted with Sessions there….

    The emails from Dearborn and Papadopoulos were included in the batch of 20,000 emails that the Trump campaign handed over to multiple congressional committees earlier this summer….

  47. says

    “Trump clashed with multiple GOP senators over Russia”:

    President Donald Trump privately vented his frustration over Russia-related matters with at least two other Republican senators this month, according to people familiar with the conversations — in addition to the president’s public admonishments of Mitch McConnell, John McCain, and Jeff Flake.

    Trump expressed frustration over a bipartisan bill sanctioning Russia and tried to convince Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that it wasn’t good policy, according to three people familiar with the call. Trump argued that the legislation was unconstitutional and said it would damage his presidency. Corker was unrelenting, these people said, and told Trump the bill was going to pass both houses with bipartisan support.

    Trump dialed up Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) on Aug. 7, two days before a blunt call with the Senate majority leader that spilled over into a public feud. Tillis is working with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) on a bill designed to protect Robert Mueller, the independent counsel investigating the president’s Russia connections, from any attempt by Trump to fire him.

    The Mueller bill came up during the Tillis-Trump conversation, according to a source briefed on the call — the latest signal of the president’s impatience with GOP senators’ increasing declarations of independence from his White House. Trump was unhappy with the legislation and didn’t want it to pass, one person familiar with the call said.

    Trump’s chewing out of GOP senators, according to people briefed on the calls, reflected the president’s frustration that fellow Republicans would make moves that could damage him, particularly on an investigation that he detests….

    “It seems he is just always focused on Russia,” one senior GOP aide said….

    The Tillis call looks like another obstruction log to throw on the fire.

  48. says

    Boom! On Maddow just now, Simpson (GPS Fusion) is standing behind the Steele dossier. He gave 10 hours of answers to congressional staffers, and says “Release the transcript” of those interviews. It’s all in there, and he’ll back it all up.

    The Trump campaign absolutely actively worked with Russians to win the election, and the Russians have owned Trump for 5 years now. He is literally a Russian operative.

  49. says

    Useful thread about Russian bot/troll accounts with the 8 digits at the end.

    Maddow’s show last night was brilliant. I didn’t know where she could be going with Mount Ayr, Iowa, but it was so well done. I love that Simpson’s lawyer sent the statement to her exclusively.

  50. says

    Another story that broke during Maddow last night – “White House Sets Rules for Military Transgender Ban”:

    The White House is expected to send guidance to the Pentagon in coming days on how to implement a new administration ban on transgender people in the military, issuing a policy that will allow Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to consider a service member’s ability to deploy in deciding whether to kick them out of the military.

    The White House memo also directs the Pentagon to deny admittance to transgender individuals and to stop spending on medical treatment regimens for those currently serving, according to U.S. officials familiar with the document.

    The 2½-page memo gives Mr. Mattis six months to prepare to fully implement the new ban, according to these officials.

    Mr. Mattis under the new policy is expected to consider “deployability”—the ability to serve in a war zone, participate in exercises or live for months on a ship—as the primary legal means to decide whether to separate service members from the military, the officials said.

    The Pentagon’s military service chiefs hold a range of views on social issues, including on open service by gays and women in combat. But there was no push from senior leaders to re-establish the ban on transgender service members, officials have said….

  51. says

    The Guardian is reporting that Catalan police had been warned by Belgian authorities about the imam at the center of the cell that organized the Barcelona and Cambrils attacks (although it doesn’t appear to have been a very elaborate warning). This article (in Catalan) describes how people in the town where the cell was formed were genuinely shocked that these kids were involved. It’s believed that they were radicalized by the new imam, who had made contact with terrorist organizations while in prison for drug trafficking.

  52. Saad says

    Sam Harris: “I think Black Lives Matter is a dangerous and divisive and retrograde movement; and it’s a dishonest movement. I think it’s the wrong move for African Americans to be organizing around the variable of race right now… It’s obviously destructive to civil society.”

    Harrisites: Give some evidence why Sam Harris is racist!!!11

    (The Harris quote appears around the 9:30 mark in this podcast)

  53. says

    This is a good question. Fortunately, there appear to be two experienced, capable people at the head of FEMA, so probably keeping Trump as far away as possible, signing on to whatever aid is needed,* is best.

    * (There’s always a grave risk of graft whenever he’s involved in anything, though, so that can’t be counted out.)

  54. tomh says

    @ #141
    “I have to disable my adblocker to see them, granted.”
    If you use the Chrome browser, the Mercury Reader extension gets around that problem.

  55. says

    David Corn:

    Trump is an angry man obsessed with revenge and lacking knowledge about nuclear weapons. Yet now he has this end-it-all capability, and national security experts are worried, if not frightened. Anyone who enters the US military must swear an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States and to obey orders from the president and from officers. An unjustified nuclear strike certainly could threaten the existence of the United States (and, thus, the Constitution). So it’s not inconceivable that those two components of the oath could come into profound conflict. Then the survival of the world might depend upon the most unconventional form of civil disobedience.

    That the Republicans haven’t joined with the Democrats to address any number of impeachable offenses and get this existentially dangerous person out of office is inexcusable.

  56. says

    “Far-right smear campaign against Antifa exposed by Bellingcat”:

    The online campaign is using fake Antifa (an umbrella term for anti-fascist protestors) Twitter accounts to claim anti-fascists promote physically abusing women who support US President Donald Trump or white supremacy.

    Researcher Eliot Higgins of website Bellingcat found evidence that the campaign is being orchestrated on internet messageboard 4Chan by far-right sympathisers.

    Mr Higgins told the BBC the campaign was “pretty clumsy”, with obvious signs of being orchestrated.

    “Many of the accounts tweeting the images were clearly made in the last ten hours and had very few followers,” Mr Higgins explained.

    “This was a transparent and quite pathetic attempt, but I wouldn’t be surprised if white nationalist groups try to mount more sophisticated attacks in the future.”

    Well, this did give them a chance to enjoy images of injured women, to promote white-supremacist tropes, to project their violent fantasies about women onto their political enemies, and to subtly encourage violence against leftwing women, so there’s that.

  57. says

    SC @ 160 – he was correcting typos… “their” -> “there” and “to” -> “too”

    I looked closely when they were still up, and they were the same. I think maybe he double-posted the corrected ones or something.

  58. says

    “At CIA, a watchful eye on Mike Pompeo, the president’s ardent ally”:

    As CIA director, Mike Pompeo has taken a special interest in an agency unit that is closely tied to the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, requiring the Counterintelligence Mission Center to report directly to him.

    Officials at the center have, in turn, kept a watchful eye on Pompeo, who has repeatedly played down Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and demonstrated a willingness to engage in political skirmishes for President Trump.

    Current and former officials said that the arrangement has been a source of apprehension among the CIA’s upper ranks and that they could not recall a time in the agency’s history when a director faced a comparable conflict.

    The unit helped trigger the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia by serving as a conduit to the FBI last year for information the CIA developed on contacts between Russian individuals and Trump campaign associates, officials said.

    The center works more closely with the FBI than almost any other CIA department does, officials said, and continues to pursue leads on Moscow’s election interference operation that could factor in the probe led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, a former FBI director.

    Pompeo has not impeded that work, officials said. But several officials said there is concern about what he might do if the CIA uncovered new information potentially damaging to Trump and Pompeo were forced to choose between protecting the agency or the president.

    “People have to watch him,” said a U.S. official who, like others, requested anonymity to speak frankly. “It’s almost as if he can’t resist the impulse to be political.”

    When asked about Russian election interference, Pompeo often becomes testy and recites talking points that seem designed to appease a president who rejects the allegations as “fake news” conjured by Democrats to delegitimize his election win.

    Pompeo has shown a willingness to handle political assignments for the White House….

    A descendant of the unit led by legendary CIA mole-hunter James Jesus Angleton, the counterintelligence center is run by a veteran female CIA officer* who has served extensively overseas in Europe, East Asia and Russia. She was also one of the main authors of the CIA’s internal review of a deadly suicide bombing that killed seven agency employees in Khost, Afghanistan, in 2009.

    “I think she’s wary about the administration,” said a former colleague who also described her as “someone who would not fall in line” if she suspected interference in the center’s role. Preventing the center from sharing information with the bureau would be difficult — an FBI official serves as head of the center’s counterespionage unit.

    Last year, the center played an important part in detecting Russian efforts to cultivate associates of the Trump campaign….

    * I’m not sure what the point of including “female” is here, since the following sentences make it clear. Can’t imagine “male” being inserted in that sentence. That the reporters evidently expected, perhaps reasonably, that it might be jarring/confusing to readers to see female pronouns in this context is a sad commentary on our society, but adding “female” isn’t helping.

  59. says

    I looked closely when they were still up, and they were the same. I think maybe he double-posted the corrected ones or something.

    I was thinking I might have missed the errors, but I don’t believe so. The two I saw doubled were the one with “too” having been corrected and the Clapper one. Wish I had taken a screenshot so I could double-check the spelling, but the second was definitely the Clapper tweet.

  60. says

    Trump just now: “Strange statement by Bob Corker considering that he is constantly asking me whether or not he should run again in ’18. Tennessee not happy!”

  61. says

    Hello, friends. I’m back. Thanks to everyone who did a good job keeping this thread up to date.

    I was not surprised to see that Trump did not improve during my absence. In fact, in Phoenix he doubled down on his sneaky lies about what he had said previously to semi-excuse neo-Nazis and the KKK. He seems to think he can have it both ways: he can condemn them in one sentence, and then he can excuse them in the next.

    Also, his extra-long and rambling condemnations of the media during that speech prompted me to see him (again) as a whiny, spoiled child. He needs a nap and a time out.

    Of course, Trump responded to criticism of his Phoenix speech by claiming that people just didn’t like his “tone.” Well, I don’t like your tone, but that’s not the main point. I don’t like your policies, your incessant lying, and your willful ignorance.

  62. says

    Hypocrisy from Republicans regarding pretending to care about the deficit, but now seemingly happy to add a $ trillion or more to the deficit:

    It was only about five years ago that powerful people in finance loved talking about the horrendous consequences for the U.S. if it didn’t get its finances under control. They warned that the federal debt – and the interest payments – could eventually get high enough to drag down the economy, burden future generations, and even threaten national security.

    Chief executive officers of five of the biggest U.S. banks joined a campaign called Fix the Debt, signing on with hedge fund billionaires, asset managers, and private equity executives, as well as former lawmakers and others.

    The conversation on Wall Street changed after November’s election.

    Bloomberg link

    From Steve Benen:

    […] The “Fix the Debt” crowd adopted a “Forget the Debt” posture the moment Donald Trump started talking up tax breaks for the wealthy.

    The same Bloomberg article put a spotlight on former Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), who became co-chairman of Fix the Debt in 2012, and who now leads a Wall Street lobbying association. Gregg, the piece noted, now believes “it wouldn’t be so terrible if slashing taxes added $1 trillion or $2 trillion to the $20 trillion the U.S. already owes.”

    It’s hard to know whether to laugh or cry. As Jon Chait noted yesterday, Gregg was one of the nation’s leading deficit scolds during Obama’s presidency, warning of a looming apocalypse unless policymakers prioritized sweeping fiscal reforms.

    “The practical implications of [Obama’s budget] is bankruptcy for the United States,” he warned in 2009. “People will not buy our debt, our dollar will become devalued. It is a very severe situation.” No less than the dissolution of American government lay ahead: “You’re running a banana republic is what it comes down to. You can’t afford to pay those debts.”

    And even as the deficit fell, Gregg’s terror of banana republicdom did not. “At some point — and if the CBO numbers are anywhere near right, it will be in the not too distant future — we as a nation will have a fiscal crisis of potentially apocalyptic proportions,” he predicted last year. […]

  63. says

    It looks to me like Trump’s tap dance around building his border wall is designed to place blame for the project’s failure on Congress, especially on Republicans in the Senate. His rabid base is already on board with that excuse.

    So, can we give Trump one tiny bit of credit? He sees the border wall project is going to fail, so he is doing one of the few things he’s good at, blaming others.

    Meanwhile, Trump continues to brag that things are going so swimmingly that, “Few, if any, Administrations have done more in just 7 months than the Trump A. Bills passed, regulations killed, border, military, ISIS, SC!” No, dunderhead, you can’t have it both ways.

  64. says

    Former Skinheads Hear Echoes Of Their Recruitment In Trump’s ‘Heritage’ Talk

    During his rambling rally this week in Phoenix, Arizona, President Donald Trump scoffed at the idea that anyone would label him a racist for his ever-evolving response to the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. All he wanted to do, he told a crowd of his supporters, was address his concern that an undefined “they” were attempting “to take away our history and our heritage.”

    That language merely puts a presentable face on the racism that left counter-protesters bloodied on the streets of Charlottesville, according to former skinheads and law enforcement who’ve worked with them. Those individuals told TPM that Trump’s comments used the same rhetorical lures that white supremacists and other hate groups rely on to hook new members.

    “It’s dangerous because it creates a distinction between us and them,” said Michael German, a former FBI special agent who during his time in law enforcement went undercover with neo-Nazi skinheads in southern California and anti-government militia groups. “When Donald Trump talks about us and our heritage he’s only speaking to one audience, and that audience then starts to view others who are fellow Americans as somehow the enemy.”

    “The rhetoric draws people in because it makes them feel like they are losing something terribly important. It perpetuates the us vs. them mentality and serves no one,” echoed Angela King, a former skinhead who spent six years in prison for assisting an armed robbery of a Jewish-owned store. King went on to co-found Life After Hate, a nonprofit that works with former members of violent far-right groups. […]

    after a week of flailing statements on the violence in Charlottesville that were cheered by the extremist fringe and criticized by just about everyone else, the President has landed on talking points that those same groups use to justify their movement and bring new people into the fold.

    Trump’s remarks on George Washington offer one telling example. “George Washington was a slave owner. So will George Washington now lose his status?” the President asked reporters last week at Trump Tower. “Are we going to take down, are we going to take down statues to George Washington?”

    “How about Thomas Jefferson?” he added. “Because he was a major slave owner. Now are we going to take down his statue?”

    On that same day, onetime GOP presidential candidate and nativist commentator Pat Buchanan made the very same point in a piece at the white nationalist publication American Renaissance. […]

  65. says


    The latest expense the Secret Service has had to take on to accommodate President Donald Trump’s luxe life: $7,100 on portable toilets.

    USA Today reported Thursday that the agency signed a contract for that amount with Imperial Restrooms for bathroom trailers while Trump was on his “working vacation” at this golf club this month in Bedminster, N.J.

    That’s in addition to the $13,500 the agency reportedly spent on golf cart rentals during that same trip, putting the total amount of public funds spent on golf carts this year alone at $60,000, according to the newspaper.

    Earlier this week, Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles told USA Today that his agency is unable to pay at least 1,000 of its agents for overtime work they’ve done to protect Trump and his large family, who are keen on extravagant travel. The agency has already met the cap for salary and overtime pay for the year and can’t shell out any additional funds to agents who are working overtime.

    The Secret Service provides protection for 42 people under Trump, including 18 members of his family. Former President Barack Obama had 31 people under Secret Service protection.

    Not the first time people working for the Trump family have not been properly paid.

  66. says

    Alexandra Petri – “My letter of not quite resignation from the Trump White House”:

    …There are some principles, they tell me, that should not be sacrificed. But there are things more important than principles. There is also, of course, principal.

    How can anyone weigh these things? On the one hand, the president continually equates the KKK, white supremacists and neo-Nazis with those who protest against them. This is harmful and outrageous, and I have already denounced it in no uncertain terms, on background, to members of the media, through third parties!

    But then, on the other hand, there is the theoretical possibility of passing tax reforms that might lower the base tax rate for corporations. They say, you can’t stand by while they attack your people and President Trump defends them. I say: Corporations are my people, too.

    We must protect the most fragile and vulnerable among us. And if there is anything I have learned from the past decade of Supreme Court decisions, it is that the most fragile and vulnerable among us are corporations, whether national or multinational.

    Think of all the corporation headquarters, lost and alone, on a hostile shore, when they could be here. I have to protect them from BATs and all other dark, unseemly things that fly in the night and steal away their profits. Who will protect the three big deductions? Who will kill the estate tax? Who will remove the death tax? If not me, then who? (Other, non-me people, probably. Fine.)…

  67. blf says

    Mauritania, where chattel slavery is still openly practiced (albeit illegal since 1981 and owning slaves a crime since 2007) is currently on the proposed list of nations to receive duty-free trade status with the States. This is not going down very well, US warned Mauritania’s ‘total failure’ on slavery should rule out trade benefits (“US labour unions cite Mauritania’s unwillingness to act on slavery as Trump administration is urged to deny country duty-free exports”).

  68. says

    It occurs to me that Trump’s primary reaction to Hurricane Harvey might be resentment that Harvey is getting so much attention. It’s conceivable that he does or says something especially outrageous because he feels upstaged by the storm.

  69. says

    SC @194, that essay by Joy Reid is great!

    In other news, team Trump does not have a tax proposal. They simply did not do the work. As Bloomberg Politics reported:

    […] Republican congressional leaders don’t expect to release a joint tax plan with the White House next month, and they’ll rely instead on House and Senate tax-writing committees to solve the big tax questions that remain unanswered, according to two people familiar with the matter. […]

    Other reporters (CNBC) confirmed that the Trump administration will not release a detailed tax proposal. So much for reasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s previous promise that tax reform would be done by August. So much for White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short’s proclamation that tax reform would pass in September, or that a detailed proposal would be “locked in place.” Trump is currently bullshitting everyone about his nonexistent tax plan. Mnuchin, Short, and other team Trump members are layering on more bullshit.

  70. says

    Eric Trump is supposedly helping to run his father’s businesses and staying out of politics, right? No, he is not. Not sure how he’s doing with the businesses, but he is spending a lot of time in the political arena. Last night, Eric was the featured speaker at the Republican National Committee’s Summer Meeting in Nashville.

    Members of Trump’s 2020 campaign committee are also attending the Summer Meeting in Nashville.

  71. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    In other news, team Trump does not have a tax proposal.

    Color me shocked, shocked I say. *snicker*

  72. says

    I still can’t get over the amount of rain forecast.

    So much for reasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s previous promise that tax reform would be done by August.

    I was remembering this morning that a couple of weeks ago (in the same press appearance at which he threatened military action against Venezuela) Trump, in his typically demeaning fashion, prodded Tillerson: (I’m paraphrasing) “When will we have a response to Russia’s expulsion of the embassy staffs?” and Tillerson answered “September 1st.” (Apparently Tillerson had already set that date publicly.) We’ll see. They might just be hoping everyone forgets.

  73. says

    You know it’s Friday when… “Special Counsel Examines Possible Role Flynn Played in Seeking Clinton Emails From Hackers”:

    Special counsel Robert Mueller is examining what role, if any, former national security adviser Mike Flynn may have played in a private effort to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers, according to people familiar with the matter.

    The effort to seek out hackers who were believed to have stolen Mrs. Clinton’s emails, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, was led by a longtime Republican activist, Peter W. Smith. In correspondence and conversations with his colleagues, Mr. Smith portrayed Mr. Flynn as an ally in those efforts and implied that other senior Trump campaign officials were coordinating with him, which they have denied. He also named Mr. Flynn’s consulting firm and his son in the correspondence and conversations.

    Mr. Mueller’s team is also inquiring about the nature of Mr. Smith’s relationship with several Trump campaign advisers and aides to the president, the people familiar with the matter said.

    U.S. officials with knowledge of the intelligence said investigators also have examined reports from intelligence agencies that describe Russian hackers discussing how to obtain emails from Mrs. Clinton’s server and then transmit them to Mr. Flynn via an intermediary.

    It isn’t known if those hackers are ones that Mr. Smith contacted.

    In a document Mr. Smith used to explain his efforts and recruit assistance, he named several Trump campaign officials he said were working “in coordination” with him, including Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist for the president, and Kellyanne Conway, the former campaign manager and now White House counselor. They both said they were unaware of Mr. Smith’s work and played no role in it….

  74. says

    “Mueller Seeks Grand Jury Testimony from PR Execs Who Worked With Manafort”:

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued grand jury subpoenas in recent days seeking testimony from public relations executives who worked on an international campaign organized by Paul Manafort, people directly familiar with the matter told NBC News.

    This is the first public indication that Mueller’s investigation is beginning to compel witness testimony before the grand jury — a significant milestone in an inquiry that is examining the conduct of President Donald Trump and his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, among others.

    It is also further indication that Manafort, Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, could be in serious legal jeopardy.

    According to one executive whose firm received a subpoena, Mueller’s team is closely examining the lobbying campaign, which ran between 2012 and 2014. Some of the firms involved in the campaign received subpoenas for documents weeks ago, the executive said, and now the Mueller team is seeking testimony.

    “We think they are trying to figure out, was this a legitimate project?” the executive said. “From our perspective it was — we did a lot of work. We took it seriously.”

    The executive said six firms participated in the public relations effort that Manafort coordinated, paid for by a Brussels-based non-profit called the European Center for a Modern Ukraine. The stated goal was to build support for Ukraine’s entry into the European Union.

    At the time, Ukraine was run by a pro-Russian political party that had paid Manafort $17 million for consulting in 2013 and 2014, according to Manafort’s latest foreign lobbying disclosure filing, which he filed belatedly under Justice Department pressure….

  75. says

    SC @207, I cannot believe that Trump pardoned Arpaio! Sheesh. That’s an appalling move. It’s not even politically sound.

    And Trump’s timing! Sheesh. He pardons Arpaio while a category 4 hurricane is putting more than 20 million people in danger in the USA. Trump has no perspective, no ethics.

  76. says

    Trump is trying to shield some of his most stupid and offensive moves with the wall-to-wall coverage of Hurricane Harvey.

    1. Pardons Arpaio
    2. Insults transgender people and restricts their right.
    2. Threatens Dreamers

  77. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Sebastian Gorka has resigned.

    Miller next *fingers crossed*.

  78. says

    I’ve said it more than once here, but if you want to see the kind of person Joe Arpaio is, read the chapter about him in Johann Hari’s Chasing the Scream. He’s a grotesque, evil man.

  79. says

    SC @ 179 – seems like such a minor thing for us to go back and forth on but now I remember why it caught my attention to begin with.

    The original tweets that had the typos were also doubled. Then those were deleted, and the replacement tweets were doubled. I didn’t screencap it either but I’m sure if I had the time I could use various websites to reconstruct it.

    Anyways, what struck me then, and what strikes me now, is that there were double tweets but they weren’t done at the same time, so that rules out two open instances on the same device that caused the double tweets. They were spaced out enough that they had to come from different instances of him being logged in, with different actors pushing the button to tweet, which gets me thinking…

    Someone was logged in that shouldn’t have been. 2 different people got the same text and sent the same tweet, both logged in to @realdonaldtrump, but they didn’t do it simultaneously, so they gave themselves away.

    Makes me wonder about some of the leaking, if multiple interns are handling tweeting for him, or worse, he’s been hacked and there’s a ‘man in the middle’ that fucked up.

  80. Hj Hornbeck says

    SC @213:
    Alternatively, the Phoenix New Times has a Twitter thread on Arpaio’s misdeeds.

    He ran a jail that he described as a “concentration camp.”

    One time, as a publicity stunt, he marched Latino prisoners into a segregated area with electric fencing.

    Under him, the MCSO failed to investigate hundreds of sex abuse cases, many of which involved children.

    Oh, and one time he staged an assassination attempt against himself? That was weird.

    In related news, we have the full text of the pardon. Amazingly, it also pardons Arpaio for things he might be convicted for in future; remember, the recent conviction was for contempt of court in an ongoing case against him. I thought the president couldn’t pardon crimes that haven’t been committed, but maybe this is a loophole because it relates to an ongoing trial? Not a lawyer here, so I’m not sure on this.

  81. blf says

    I thought the president couldn’t pardon crimes that haven’t been committed

    Ford. Nixon.
    (And no trial in that very famous preemptive pardon either.)

  82. blf says

    I still can’t get over the amount of rain forecast [for Hurricane Harvey (c.25in, or over 60cm !)].

    Apparently Harvey is expected to stall after landfall, lingering in roughly the same spot for several days; hence, a metric shitetonne of rain, with consequent massive flooding.

  83. says

    “Arpaio Pardon Would Show Contempt for Constitution”:

    If President Donald Trump pardons Joe Arpaio, as he broadly hinted at during a rally Tuesday in Arizona, it would not be an ordinary exercise of the power — it would be an impeachable offense. Arpaio, the former sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County, was convicted of criminal contempt of court for ignoring the federal judge’s order that he follow the U.S. Constitution in doing his job. For Trump to pardon him would be an assault on the federal judiciary, the Constitution and the rule of law itself.

    The Constitution isn’t perfect. It offers only one remedy for a president who abuses the pardon power to break the system itself. That remedy is impeachment.

    James Madison noted at the Virginia ratifying convention that abuse of the pardon power could be grounds for impeachment. He was correct then — and it’s still true now.

  84. tomh says

    Washington Post:
    Due to Hurricane Harvey, The Post is temporarily removing the limit on the number of articles that can be read without a subscription.

  85. says

    I look at the pardon of Arpaio this way: Trump pardoned a racist. Trump pardoned a bigoted 85-year-old white man who was convicted by the courts of using the powers of his office to selectively harass (and even to jail) brown people.

    Trump is a racist. He approved of and applauded the ways in which Arpaio conducted himself.

    Trump is ignorant. He does not understand the constitutional implications. Also, Trump thinks he is king of the world, so laws do not apply to him nor to his friends.

    Trump was probably delighted to send a message to people caught up in Robert Mueller’s investigation that Hair Furor stands ready to pardon them. If people being pressured to testify feel like they have a pardon card in their pocket, they might feel like they can lie to grand jury and get off scot free.

  86. says

    From Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:

    Joe Arpaio ignored the courts of law in order to systemically target Latinos in AZ. Definition of racism and bigotry. [Trump] ran to Camp David to use the cover of Hurricane Harvey to avoid scrutiny. So sad, so weak.

    From Senator Dianne Feinstein:

    [The Justice Department] found that for years Sheriff Arpaio systematically violated the civil rights of the people he was charged with serving and protecting. President Trump indicates that he approves of that behavior with last night’s decision, which will only serve to deepen the divisions in our country.

  87. says

    Russia’s propaganda machine amplifies the alt-right.

    Russia’s army of media influencers, social media bots and trolls has increasingly amplified alt-right and far-right narratives in the United States since the 2016 presidential election.

    Russia’s efforts to push propaganda and disinformation […] are nothing new and extend beyond the U.S. to nations in Europe. But they have seemed to evolve in recent months, increasingly infiltrating and engaging with alt-right and far-right Americans online. […]

    “The long view of the Russian active measures program is chaos and disunity among the American government,” Clint Watts, a former FBI agent and cybersecurity expert who developed the Hamilton 68 dashboard, told NPR earlier this month.

    “The reason the #FireMcMaster topic is so potent is it’s one of the key themes that you consistently will see the Russians push,” Watts said. “One is anti-EU. They want to see the EU break up. The other one is anti-NATO. And they want to see the U.S. back away from both of those alliances. McMaster’s very much about staying engaged in those alliances, which is different from other people in the White House.” […]

    “Up through the election, it was heavily anti-Clinton and steadily increased in the promotion of pro-Trump material,” Foster said. “It moved into this pro-Trump realm.” He noted that while these accounts continue to push anti-Democratic messaging, the balance has shifted toward pro-right-wing messages.

    A more recent example is laid out by Atlantic Council researchers Donara Barojan and Ben Nimmo.

    According to their August 18 analysis, far-right and nationalist activists in the U.S. picked up a narrative pushed by Kremlin-backed media that the 2014 revolution in Ukraine was driven by neo-Nazis.

    The narrative, which Moscow has advanced to justify its annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, again picked up steam as Russian figures began comparing the white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville, Va., to the uprising in Ukraine. […]

    Bots, or automated accounts that tweet at high volumes, play a key role in amplifying these messages online. […]

    “We see that they’ve been more prevalent in a variety of scenarios, not only political discourse and elections but also really in a variety of nefarious or malicious applications,” said Emilio Ferrara, an assistant research professor at the University of California’s computer science department. “They are used to push conspiracy theories, they are used to push anti-science operations like climate change denial campaigns.” […]

    When it comes to pro-Russia accounts engaging in the U.S., they are not solely reaching out to the alt-right.

    There are also anti-Trump bots and trolls tied to Russia, Kalember said, that engage with left-wing audiences to push disinformation. For now, though, the engagement is more prominent on the right because the narrative fits Russia’s aim, experts say. […]

  88. says

    Quoting from the Arizona Republic’s editorial board:

    […] Donald Trump’s pardon elevates Arpaio once again to the pantheon of those who see institutional racism as something that made America great.

    Many will characterize it as a slap to the Latino community – and it is.

    The vast majority of Latinos in Arizona are not undocumented, yet they all fell under heightened scrutiny as Arpaio honed his image.

    The pardon was a slap to those who worked through the judicial system to make Arpaio accountable, too. It robbed the people hurt by his policies of justice – even before a judge could mete out a sentence.

    The pardon was a sign of pure contempt for every American who believes in justice, human dignity and the rule of law.

    “By pardoning Arpaio, Trump made it clear that institutional racism is not just OK with him. It is a goal.”


  89. says

    Sort of a follow-up to blf @233.

    Alt-right online chat rooms are playing a part in the legal response to events in Charlottesville. Some white supremacists think of Trump as their beloved leader, and they also think that Trump approves of violence that they plan.

    […] Lawyers say the chatroom discussions could be useful in the criminal case against James Alex Fields Jr., accused of driving the car that killed Heyer, or civil lawsuits filed by people injured in the confrontation.

    Unicorn Riot has so far published roughly 1,000 screenshots of chats, and the recording, conducted through the app Discord, from a source. A march organizer says the documents he has seen appear to be authentic. Transcripts show participants openly planning violence while organizers instruct them to obey the law. Participants on one call debated when it would be permissible to use riot shields as weapons. “Some screaming little Latina bitch comes at you and knocks your teeth on your riot shield, that means you hit her, and you’re going to get in trouble for the weapons,” one participant says.

    Timothy Litzenburg represents two women injured in the melee who last week sued 28 groups and individuals, including the alleged organizers of the Unite the Right march. He says the documents could be “the crux of the case,” because they show “a little flavor of how [organizers] totally intended on violence and mayhem.”

    The documents published by Unicorn Riot focus on months of chat logs from Charlottesville 2.0, a private “server” inside Discord operated by far-right provocateurs Jason Kessler and Eli Mosley, among others. Mosley, a self-described “alt-right” activist, says in an interview that the few documents and recordings highlighted on Unicorn Riot’s website appear authentic, but he does not trust the outlet. […]

    Allen Lichtenstein, a former lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, says the ensuing violence would have to happen “more or less immediately.” Mosley [Eli Mosley, a self-described “alt-right” activist] says his political opponents get hysterical over the “dark humor” of the alt-right. “The idea that little tractor meme is somehow a call to run people over is ridiculous,” he says. […]

    Litzenburg, the lawyer for the women injured at the protest, says the organizers’ warnings against violence may not protect them legally. “Saying ‘y’all be good now wink wink’ I don’t think washes your hands of violence in this case,” he says.

    Potential claims by organizers that they acted in self-defense could be undercut by chatroom transcripts that show they were “waiting and hoping for [an action] that will justifiably trigger a violent response,” says criminal-defense attorney Jeffrey Douglas. […]

    WIRED link

  90. says

    Sort of a follow-up to blf @233.

    Alt-right online chat rooms are playing a part in the legal response to events in Charlottesville. Some white supremacists think of Trump as their beloved leader, and they also think that Trump approves of violence that they plan.

    […] Lawyers say the chatroom discussions could be useful in the criminal case against James Alex Fields Jr., accused of driving the car that killed Heyer, or civil lawsuits filed by people injured in the confrontation.

    Unicorn Riot has so far published roughly 1,000 screenshots of chats, and the recording, conducted through the app Discord, from a source. A march organizer says the documents he has seen appear to be authentic. Transcripts show participants openly planning violence while organizers instruct them to obey the law. Participants on one call debated when it would be permissible to use riot shields as weapons. “Some screaming little Latina [B-Word] comes at you and knocks your teeth on your riot shield, that means you hit her, and you’re going to get in trouble for the weapons,” one participant says.

    Timothy Litzenburg represents two women injured in the melee who last week sued 28 groups and individuals, including the alleged organizers of the Unite the Right march. He says the documents could be “the crux of the case,” because they show “a little flavor of how [organizers] totally intended on violence and mayhem.”

    The documents published by Unicorn Riot focus on months of chat logs from Charlottesville 2.0, a private “server” inside Discord operated by far-right provocateurs Jason Kessler and Eli Mosley, among others. Mosley, a self-described “alt-right” activist, says in an interview that the few documents and recordings highlighted on Unicorn Riot’s website appear authentic, but he does not trust the outlet. […]

    Allen Lichtenstein, a former lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, says the ensuing violence would have to happen “more or less immediately.” Mosley [Eli Mosley, a self-described “alt-right” activist] says his political opponents get hysterical over the “dark humor” of the alt-right. “The idea that little tractor meme is somehow a call to run people over is ridiculous,” he says. […]

    Litzenburg, the lawyer for the women injured at the protest, says the organizers’ warnings against violence may not protect them legally. “Saying ‘y’all be good now wink wink’ I don’t think washes your hands of violence in this case,” he says.

    Potential claims by organizers that they acted in self-defense could be undercut by chatroom transcripts that show they were “waiting and hoping for [an action] that will justifiably trigger a violent response,” says criminal-defense attorney Jeffrey Douglas. […]

    WIRED link

  91. says

    “Trump asked Sessions about closing case against Arpaio, an ally since ‘birtherism’”:

    As Joseph Arpaio’s federal case headed toward trial this past spring, President Trump wanted to act to help the former Arizona county sheriff who had become a campaign-trail companion and a partner in their crusade against illegal immigration.

    The president asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions whether it would be possible for the government to drop the criminal case against Arpaio, but was advised that would be inappropriate, according to three people with knowledge of the conversation.

    After talking with Sessions, Trump decided to let the case go to trial, and if Arpaio was convicted, he could grant clemency.

    So the president waited, all the while planning to issue a pardon if Arpaio was found in contempt of court for defying a federal judge’s order to stop detaining people merely because he suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. Trump was, in the words of one associate, “gung-ho about it.”

    “We knew the president wanted to do this for some time now and had worked to prepare for whenever the moment may come,” said one White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the action.

    Inside the West Wing, the pardon process was set in motion. Senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, who had gotten to know Arpaio through their work on immigration policy during the campaign, advocated internally for the pardon, as did chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, according to people familiar with the deliberations….

    Renato Mariotti: “THREAD: Why is the news that Trump asked Sessions to kill the Arpaio investigation the most important obstruction evidence since Comey?…”

  92. says

    Further re #237. I’m also stunned that there are three boys there amongst the alt-whites – someone actually brought them to this event and didn’t immediately remove them when a guy fired a gun a few feet from them, and even their presence didn’t get the police to act.

  93. blf says

    I 100% support this idea.

    Indeed. I now have the urge to watch a few Colombo episodes this evening…

    Lt Colombo is a fictional character, but I suppose the same could be said for the cartoonish version of Columbus most statues presumably “celebrate”.

  94. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Ah yes, Lt. Columbo. “Just one more question [ma’am; sir]” should be the inscription.

  95. says

    Houston is being devastated. The water keeps rising, and it’ll be dark in a few hours. CNN is showing one of their reporters helping pull a man out of the water and into a volunteer rescue boat. It’s terrible.

  96. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Donated. Compared to Katrina, this storm is just sitting there. Our local flooding a month ago was minuscule compared to this catastrophe.

  97. says

    Sarah Kendzior: “In 2012, Trump used Sandy as a pretext to harass Obama. Thread is filled with people begging him to donate to hurricane victims. He didn’t. Disasters, for Trump, are opportunities for profit and ego boosts, including in NYC. Reaction to 9/11: ‘Now my buildings look even taller’. If that’s how he treats the hometown he allegedly loves, what do you think he’ll do with the rest of the US, which he holds in such disdain? There’s something fundamentally missing in him. Beyond opportunism or coldness. It’s a level of sadism I’ve never seen in a public official.”

  98. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The worst thunderstorm I ever saw in Dah YooPee, was the remnants of a hurricane that landed somewhere between Houston and New Orleans, and then moved north all the way to Lake Superior. Very impressive storm even after all those miles.

  99. says

    “‘I’m Not Afraid’: Barcelona Holds Peace Rally After Deadly Attacks”:

    Half a million people gathered in the heart of Barcelona on Saturday, clutching roses and holding banners denouncing violence and extremism, but also bearing signs warning against Islamophobia and calling on Spanish leaders to stop selling weapons.

    The mass demonstration followed two attacks that killed 15 people last week, including 13 who were mowed down by a van that zigzagged down Las Ramblas, the most famous promenade in Barcelona.

    On Saturday, marchers carried banners bearing the defiant message “No tinc por” — Catalan for “I’m not afraid.”…

  100. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    A little digging into the pre-internet days showed that Hurricane Juan in 1985 was the storm I remember. Imagine that energy just sitting on you for a week, rather than heading toward Canada after a couple of hours. *shudder*

  101. says

    “FEMA director says Harvey is probably the worst disaster in Texas history”:

    …The disaster Hurricane Harvey — now a tropical storm — has created is immense in scale, encompassing thousands of square miles of Southeast Texas. It has brought epic flooding that will affect millions of people. Rivers are still rising, the rain still falling.

    “This will be a devastating disaster, probably the worst disaster the state’s seen,” William “Brock” Long, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told The Washington Post on Sunday. “The recovery to this event is going to last many years to be able to help Texas and the people impacted by this event achieve a new normal.”…

  102. says

    “Trump’s business sought deal on a Trump Tower in Moscow while he ran for president”:

    While Donald Trump was running for president in late 2015 and early 2016, his company was pursuing a plan to develop a massive Trump Tower in Moscow, according to several people familiar with the proposal and new records reviewed by Trump Organization lawyers.

    As part of the discussions, a Russian-born real estate developer urged Trump to come to Moscow to tout the proposal and suggested he could get President Vladimir Putin to say “great things” about Trump, according to several people who have been briefed on his correspondence.

    The developer, Felix Sater, predicted in a November 2015 email that he and Trump Organization leaders would soon be celebrating — both one of the biggest residential projects in real estate history and Donald Trump’s election as president, according to two of the people with knowledge of the exchange.

    Sater wrote to Trump Organization Executive Vice President Michael Cohen, “something to the effect of, ‘Can you believe two guys from Brooklyn are going to elect a president?’ ” said one person briefed on the email exchange. Sater emigrated to the United States from what was then the Soviet Union when he was 8 and grew up in Brooklyn.

    Trump never went to Moscow as Sater proposed. And although investors and Trump’s company signed a letter of intent, they lacked the land and permits to proceed and the project was abandoned at the end of January 2016, just before the presidential primaries began, several people familiar with the proposal said.

    Nevertheless, the details of the deal, which have not previously been disclosed, provide evidence that Trump’s business was actively pursuing significant commercial interests in Russia at the same time he was campaigning to be president — and in a position to determine U.S.-Russia relations. The new details from the emails, which are scheduled to be turned over to congressional investigators soon, also point to the likelihood of additional contacts between Russia-connected individuals and Trump associates during his presidential bid….

  103. chigau (違う) says

    The usual local response to extreme weather in the USA has occured.
    Petrol at the pump has increased 9 cents per litre since noon today.
    I’m sure™ that the extra money is going to disaster relief.

  104. blf says

    Update on “the gang who couldn’t sail straight”, the ship (C-Star) hired by crowdfunded nazis to attack NGO migrant rescue ships in the Mediterranean. Apparently they been stuck off Malta for the last week, low on supplies, with Malta refusing to allow the ship to dock. The gang claims they’ve gotten some supplies from the local nazis in Malta, ferried out to the C-Star, which is staying conspicuously outside Malta’s territorial waters.

    Local reports are they’ve given up (Anti-Migrant Crew Abandon ‘Ship Of Hate’ To Reach Malta and Anti-migrant ship’s crew disembark in Malta, ending troubled mission). The first report says the gang claims the C-Star made it to Valletta (Malta), but this seems very dubious: The last vesselfinder update (about three minutes ago as I type this) still has the ship outside Malta’s waters, with the last port of call Famagusta (Turkish-controlled N.Crypus, one month ago).

  105. blf says

    Follow-up to @262/265: The people who did the brilliant Confounds the Science (parody of Sound of Silence) have also done The Tweeter (parody of The Boxer), which is also well worth a watch.

  106. says

    “Trump expected to lift ban on military gear to local police forces”:

    The Trump administration is preparing to lift a controversial ban on the transfer of some surplus military equipment to police departments whose battlefield-style response to rioting in a St. Louis suburb three years ago prompted a halt to the program.

    The new plan, outlined in documents obtained by USA TODAY, would roll back an Obama administration executive order that blocked armored vehicles, large-caliber weapons, ammunition and other heavy equipment from being re-purposed from foreign battlefields to America’s streets.

    On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scheduled to address the annual meeting of the Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union, and he may outline the program changes there.

    The military gear ban was among a host of policing reform recommendations to flow from a White House advisory group formed in the aftermath of the Ferguson rioting.

    The Task Force on 21st Century Policing, chaired by former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Laurie Robinson, a former assistant attorney general, called on law enforcement officials to “minimize the appearance of a military operation” when policing mass demonstrations.

    “Avoid using provocative tactics and equipment that undermine civilian trust,” the task force urged.

    The previously-banned equipment also included tracked armored vehicles, bayonets and grenade launchers….

  107. says

    Yashar Ali’s profile of his friend Kathy Griffin is noteworthy for its discussion of her interactions with media people and organizations, especially this:

    The most disturbing advice came via email from a member of the board of directors of the CBS Corporation, Arnold Kopelson, an Academy Award–winning producer who Griffin used to consider a friend. Kopelson emailed Griffin with a prewritten letter to President Trump that he said she should mail to him, and which Griffin shared with me.

    The letter includes phrases like, “Now with my world crumbling around me, I am listening for the first time about the great things you have done and are doing. How stupid I was to follow the lies from the ‘Left.’ It took my terrible mistake to finally see the false news,” and “I do not deserve what I am asking of you. I am begging you to open your heart and forgive me.” Kopelson said that Griffin should “exclusively release the letter to Fox Broadcasting,” adding, “Do not send to the other networks.” “If you don’t do exactly what I’ve written, your career is over,” Kopelson wrote. A spokesman for CBS Corporation declined to comment. When I called Kopelson for comment, he said, “I’m tied up” as soon as I explained the reason for the call, and hung up the phone. Kopelson did not respond to a request for comment via email.

    Ali had tweeted the letter before, but didn’t name the author. Here’s the full text.

  108. says

    “Trump-McConnell Feud Sets The Stage For A September From Hell”:

    …Because Congress ate up so much of the year with a failed push to repeal the Affordable Care Act, they have an extremely narrow time frame left to pass a budget, raise the debt ceiling, reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Flood Insurance Program and appropriate funding to stabilize Obamacare’s marketplaces. This would be a challenge even with full support from the White House, but it becomes nearly impossible with a president whose spasms of rage, loose grasp of policy, and itchy Twitter finger threaten to derail the delicate deal-making process.

    Here comes the September from hell….

  109. says

    SC @256, Obama is doing what Trump should have done. Instead, Trump is tweeting about Mexico paying for his delusions:

    With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other.

    Many thanks to everyone who followed Obama’s advice and donated to the Red Cross.

    In other news, Steve Benen provided a summary of the employment volatility in the Trump administration:

    […] * West Wing: Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh, Director of Public Liaison George Sifakis

    * White House Communications: Press Secretary Sean Spicer, Assistant Press Secretary Michael Short, Communications Director #1 Mike Dubke, Communications Director #2 Anthony Scaramucci, Rapid Response Director Andy Hemming

    * National Security team: National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland, Advisor to the National Security Council Monica Crowley, Director for intelligence programs at the National Security Council Ezra Cohen-Watnick, Deputy Chief of Staff at the National Security Council Tera Dahl, Director Of Strategic Planning at the National Security Council Rich Higgins, NSC Middle East Advisor Derek Harvey

    * The self-identified “nationalist” wing: Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon, National Security Aide Sebastian Gorka

    * Justice Department: Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, FBI Director James Comey, dozens of U.S. Attorneys

    * A cavalcade of others that includes Josh Pitcock, chief of staff to the vice president, Walter Shaub, director of the Office of Government Ethics, and Carl Icahn, who served as a special adviser to the president on regulatory reform

    […] this does not include the various shake-ups we’ve seen on Trump’s outside legal team. […]

    This is in no way normal. One might expect to see this number of firings and resignations at the end of a president’s first term, not before Labor Day in a president’s first year.

    To be sure, some of these officials quit, and others were shown the door. Either way, can the last one out turn off the lights?

  110. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 268.

    Here is the relevant part of Chris Wallace’s conversation with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (They were discussing Trump’s racially tinged comments about events in Charlottesville):

    TILLERSON: Chris, we express America’s values from the State Department. We represent the American people. We represent America’s values, our commitment to freedom, our commitment to equal treatment of people the world over. And that message has never changed.

    WALLACE: And when the president gets into the kind of controversy he does and the U.N. committee response the way it does, it seems to say they begin to doubt whether we’re living those values.

    TILLERSON: I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.

    WALLACE: And the president’s values?

    TILLERSON: The president speaks for himself, Chris.

    As Steve Benen put it: “[…] the nation’s chief diplomat [says that] the sitting president of the United States does not speak for the United States.”

  111. says

    A police chief in Oklahoma was ousted recently when his ownership of a white supremacist website was discovered.

    Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a hate map following the events in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    That map identified only one group operating in Texoma – ISD Records, a website that sells racist media and memorabilia aimed at skinheads and white nationalists.

    With a banner that reads “The Voice of Blood and Honour,” an international coalition of racist skinhead gangs, ISD Records features artists like The Klansmen and album titles including “‘Hitler was Right'”.

    We tracked down the certificate of ownership of ISD Records filed at the Grayson County Courthouse in 2004 with the signature of a Bart Alsbrook at a Denison address.

    Colbert reserve police officer Bart Alsbrook was named interim chief this week.

    WHITE SUPREMACISTS AND other domestic extremists maintain an active presence in U.S. police departments and other law enforcement agencies. A striking reference to that conclusion, notable for its confidence and the policy prescriptions that accompany it, appears in a classified FBI Counterterrorism Policy Guide from April 2015, obtained by The Intercept. The guide, which details the process by which the FBI enters individuals on a terrorism watchlist, the Known or Suspected Terrorist File, notes that “domestic terrorism investigations focused on militia extremists, white supremacist extremists, and sovereign citizen extremists often have identified active links to law enforcement officers,” and explains in some detail how bureau policies have been crafted to take this infiltration into account. […]

    In a heavily redacted version of an October 2006 FBI internal intelligence assessment, the agency raised the alarm over white supremacist groups’ “historical” interest in “infiltrating law enforcement communities or recruiting law enforcement personnel.” The effort, the memo noted, “can lead to investigative breaches and can jeopardize the safety of law enforcement sources or personnel.” The memo also states that law enforcement had recently become aware of the term “ghost skins,” used among white supremacists to describe “those who avoid overt displays of their beliefs to blend into society and covertly advance white supremacist causes.” In at least one case, the FBI learned of a skinhead group encouraging ghost skins to seek employment with law enforcement agencies in order to warn crews of any investigations.

    This infiltration of law enforcement agencies by white supremacists has been mentioned on this thread before. I thought it a good idea to add more details and more background material.

  112. Hj Hornbeck says

    Alas, we’ll probably be hearing a lot more about Arpaio in the coming years.

    Arpaio, who was convicted of contempt of court for ignoring a court order to stop holding people solely on suspicion of being undocumented, told the Washington Examiner on Monday that he may run for office again.

    “I could run for mayor, I could run for legislator, I could run for Senate,” he said. “I’m sure getting a lot of people around the state asking me” to run against Flake, he added. “All I’m saying is the door is open and we’ll see what happens. I’ve got support. I know what support I have.”

  113. Hj Hornbeck says

    Meanwhile, on the House’s investigation of Trump….

    Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said he will work with other committee members “to do everything we can to prevent two separate reports” on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

    “The ideal would be a comprehensive report with bipartisan support,” Schiff said in a phone interview from California with USA TODAY. However, he noted that past investigations by congressional committees have often resulted in separate findings by Republicans and Democrats. […]

    Asked whether he thinks the committee has sufficient resources for its investigation, Schiff replied: “No, I don’t.” “We ought to have two to three times the resources devoted to it,” he said.

    Schiff said those resources would have been greater if the House and Senate Intelligence committees had agreed to a joint investigation, combining their staff and funds. Republican leaders in the House and Senate would not agree to a joint probe, he said.

    Although the two panels coordinate, they are conducting separate, often duplicative, investigations, Schiff said. He said the two committees are roughly in the same place in their respective probes.

  114. Hj Hornbeck says

    Looks like it’s Felix Sater’s turn in the hot seat. As a follow-up to SC’s 261, the New York Times published small excerpts of emails sent by Sater to Cohen.

    I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected. We both know no one else knows how to pull this off without stupidity or greed getting in the way. I know how to play it and we will get this done. Buddy our boy can become President of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process. There is no one on this planet who wants Donald elected more than I do …

    Bear in mind, this is about a high-profile real-estate development and not hacking. Still, Trump and associates are distancing themselves from Sater.

    Mr. Cohen suggested that Mr. Sater’s comments were puffery. “He has sometimes used colorful language and has been prone to ‘salesmanship,’ ” Mr. Cohen said in a statement. “I ultimately determined that the proposal was not feasible and never agreed to make a trip to Russia.”

    Mr. Sater presented himself as so influential in Russia that he helped arrange a 2006 trip that Mr. Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, took to Moscow. “I arranged for Ivanka to sit in Putins private chair at his desk and office in the Kremlin,” he said.

    Ms. Trump said she had no involvement in the discussions about the Moscow deal. In a statement, she said she that during the 2006 trip, she took “a brief tour of Red Square and the Kremlin but I have never met President Vladimir Putin.” She did not say whether she sat in his chair.

    Put a pin in Sater, though, he has some criminal secrets that are still protected by the courts.

  115. says

    “Top Trump Organization executive asked Putin aide for help on business deal”:

    A top executive from Donald Trump’s real estate company emailed Vladi­mir Putin’s personal spokesman during the U.S. presidential campaign last year to ask for help advancing a stalled Trump Tower development project in Moscow, according to documents submitted to Congress Monday.

    Michael Cohen, a Trump attorney and executive vice president for the Trump Organization, sent the email in January 2016 to Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s top press aide.

    “Over the past few months I have been working with a company based in Russia regarding the development of a Trump Tower – Moscow project in Moscow City,” Cohen wrote Peskov, according to a person familiar with the email. “Without getting into lengthy specifics the communication between our two sides has stalled.”

    “As this project is too important, I am hereby requesting your assistance. I respectfully request someone, preferably you, contact me so that I might discuss the specifics as well as arranging meetings with the appropriate individuals. I thank you in advance for your assistance and look forward to hearing from you soon,” Cohen wrote.

    Cohen’s email marks the most direct interaction yet documented of a top Trump aide and a similarly senior member of Putin’s government….

  116. says

    “Lawyer Says He Discussed Moscow Tower Plan With Trump Three Times”:

    Donald Trump discussed a proposal to build a hotel and condominium tower in Moscow on three occasions with his company’s lawyer.

    The lawyer, Michael Cohen, said in a statement to a Congressional committee investigating Trump’s campaign ties to Russia, that the Trump Organization weighed the proposal from September 2015 to January 2016. Trump announced his candidacy for president in June 2015, and since then, he has repeatedly denied conducting business with Russia….

  117. blf says

    Here in France, one despicable tactic teh le penazis (and other Islamophobes & anti-semitics) have tried is to ban non-pork alternatives to school meals containing pork. One consequence is students who do not eat pork go hungry.

    The courts have just said non, Non-pork meals must be available for school lunch, rules French court (“Muslim organisation wins case against local government in Burgundy on human rights — not religious — grounds”). Well done to the Ligue de Défense Judiciaire Musulmans (Muslim Legal Defence League).

  118. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    BLF #289, it also helps Orthodox Jews and Vegans. *clenched fist salute*

  119. says


    …Citing Cohen’s statement, both the Washington Post and Bloomberg list a Moscow-based business entity called I.C. Expert Investment, which doesn’t at press time show up on Google in any other context than today’s news articles, as the developer the Trump Organization planned to work with.

    Trump himself signed a letter of intent with the company on Oct. 28, 2015, according to the Post, making official the agreement to begin developing the property. The Trump Organization then began exploring further financing and soliciting architectural blueprints.

    It’s not clear who would have constituted the company; where its financing came from; or why a Moscow-based business would need Cohen to ask for intervention from “appropriate individuals” who knew Putin’s press secretary.

    International Collusion Expert Investment? Intentional Criminality Expert Investment?

  120. says

    “Mueller Team Asking If Trump Tried to Hide Purpose of Trump Tower Meeting”:

    Federal investigators working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller are keenly focused on President Donald Trump’s role in crafting a response to a published article about a meeting between Russians and his son Donald Jr., three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

    The sources told NBC News that prosecutors want to know what Trump knew about the meeting and whether he sought to conceal its purpose.

    A person familiar with Mueller’s strategy said that whether or not Trump made a “knowingly false statement” is now of interest to prosecutors.

    “Even if Trump is not charged with a crime as a result of the statement, it could be useful to Mueller’s team to show Trump’s conduct to a jury that may be considering other charges.”…

  121. says

    To be clear, the tweet @ #298 was from yesterday. Today, Trump chose to talk about how Mexico was going to pay for his ridiculous wall “one way or another” and how they’ve supposedly been difficult in NAFTA negotiations because they got a “sweetheart deal.”

  122. says

    I’m honestly confused about how the Moscow deal could be related to Kremlin help with the campaign – which it plainly was, according to the Sater-Cohen emails – without being some sort of cover for or entry point to campaign collusion. There’s this weird overlap which seems inexplicable otherwise.

  123. says

    @305 and re: Osteen in general; That dummy could have been the most popular jeesus freak in amerika if he would have opened his doors. His coffers would be overflowing.

    I can’t believe he wouldn’t have understood that, so I have to believe he has a motive for turning his back. I can only imagine what it is that is more alluring to someone like him than money.

  124. consciousness razor says

    That dummy could have been the most popular jeesus freak in amerika if he would have opened his doors. His coffers would be overflowing.

    ?? He is one of the most popular, and they have been overflowing for many years…. It’s as megachurchy as megachurches get. His big stupid face appears on one of my network TV channels every fucking Sunday morning (although I don’t watch it).

    I can’t believe he wouldn’t have understood that, so I have to believe he has a motive for turning his back. I can only imagine what it is that is more alluring to someone like him than money.

    Opening it up as a shelter wouldn’t have been free, obviously. Not spending anything on this is probably what is alluring to him. They’re apparently planning to help with supplies somehow…. after it made headlines that they’re assholes, which was after everyone was blessed with his sermonizing on twitter, which gave no indication they’d do anything other than prayer/Bible-quoting/excuse-making.

    Since this is the political madness thread, it ought to be pointed out that we are talking about a tax-exempt temple to the gods of capitalism (one of them named “Jesus”). That doesn’t come with any strings attached, like serving the community, especially when and how it is most needed. If the state used it as a shelter in a disaster like this (it’s enormous, with regular seating for 16,800 and probably a lot of room to spare), then of course taxes could pay for the expenses and/or reimburse the church for damages, etc. But the deal we have instead is just hearing a lot of noise from a preacher, and if he doesn’t feel the same way you do about the costs/benefits of actually helping people in horrible situations like this, then it simply doesn’t happen.

  125. blf says

    Hair furor has been trying to build yet another golf course in Scotland. The plans are an environmentally insensitive joke, with one of the current sticking points being a proposal to continue to use a temporary sewage facility instead of connecting everything up to the proper sewage system, Trump firm’s bid for new Scottish golf course blocked by sewage row:

    Scotland’s environment agency rejects Trump Organization’s revised proposals for new course near Aberdeen
    Solicitors for the US president’s golf resort in Aberdeenshire said the company had dropped plans to use a stream to irrigate the course and to supply a man-made lagoon […]


    Sepa [Scottish Environment Protection Agency –blf], the statutory authority that polices pollution legislation, has welcomed the concessions but intensified its objections to the Trump Organization’s plans to continue using a temporary sewage drain near a cottage and the course’s small clubhouse.

    It has also insisted Trump agrees to a detailed and comprehensive environmental management plan during construction of the new course — a proposal the company has again rejected.

    There is a long history of conflict between the Trump Organization and conservationists over environmental protection on the site. Its coastal dunes, seen by Trump as central to the resort’s dramatic setting, had their legally binding status as a site of special scientific interest removed in order to allow him to build his resort.

    Conservationists were furious after Trump’s resort unilaterally closed down last year an environmental advisory group that Trump’s advisers had suggested be set up when he needed to win initial planning approval. […]

    All that reminds me of some of the lyrics in Confounds the Science:

    “Fools,” says he, “you do not know
    it makes me smart from so much dough.
    I know exactly where the problems are.”
    But his solutions are beyond bizarre

    No limits on pollution now.
    There’s not a thing we don’t allow.
    Dump the garbage in the waterway.
    Spray the toxins where your children play.
    All the signs say that life on the planet is headed for a downward fall.
    Go to the mall,
    and continue to confound the science.

  126. blf says

    Republican Trump ally reportedly says: ‘He’s an asshole, but he’s our asshole’:

    With friends like this …

    Duncan Hunter of California was one of Donald Trump’s first backers on Capitol Hill, long before it became fashionable. But like other Republicans, there are signs of buyer’s remorse.

    “He’s just like he is on TV,” the congressman reportedly told colleagues on Friday. “He’s an asshole, but he’s our asshole.”

    The comment was reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune, which said it was recounted by four people present when Hunter spoke at a Riverside County Young Republicans meeting at a sports bar in Murrieta, California.

    The San Diego-area congressman and Marine combat veteran was one of the first members to endorse Trump during his divisive, anti-establishment campaign for president [sic]. A member of the House armed services committee, Hunter has written newspaper columns defending Trump’s approach to Russia.


    The Union-Tribune article (see embedded link) quotes someone who claims to not support hair furor as being disappointed this local nazi was (paraphrasing) “disrespectful to the office of president” — um, m’am, you might want to consider just who is disrespecting the office. (Hint: He just pardoned a wannabe-gestapo field marshal, after claiming murderous nazis & largely-peaceful protesters are equivalent, and also equating people who wanted slavery so bad they fought a war to preserve it with more easily respected / admired people; who has also… &tc &tc &tc….)

    The industrial-strength blinkers these people are using are so effective you wouldn’t see the Sun if you could somehow stand on the Sun-facing side of Mercury and look straight at the Sun.

  127. blf says

    The Granuiad points out:

    An executive order issued by Trump earlier this month revoked an Obama-era directive that had established flood-risk standards for federally funded infrastructure projects built in areas prone to flooding or subject to the effects of sea-level rise — like many of those now sinking in Texas.

    Houston already has some of the laxest building regulations for structures in potential flood zones and the president [sic] wants to spread that policy across the US.

    The article, Trump’s rollback of flood protections risks further Houston-style calamity, continues:

    Although the Obama-era executive order has been revoked, there is still a chance that the regulations it spurred could stand on their own. Fema, HUD and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) all had regulations pending to implement the standard set forth by the executive order, and all those agencies had completed public review and were awaiting final adoption of the new rules.

    “It’s possible they could still be adopted absent the president’s action,” [Rob Moore (a senior policy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council)] said. “For Fema and HUD, it’s vitally important to do so, as all the post-Harvey rebuilding would have to be done to the more protective standard.”


    “Revoking the flood standard was a bad idea, but the president can work with lawmakers to protect taxpayers by requiring any rebuilding using federal funds to be built to a higher standard,” [Steve Ellis, (vice-president of Taxpayers for Common Sense)] said. “If policymakers don’t protect taxpayers there is going to be a lot of waste and we’re going to be rebuilding again after future storms.”

    The reason this circumvention of hair furor’s ranting is possible is the Obama directive had yet to come into force, to allow time for the agencies to draw up regulations. Assuming some or all of the agencies who do have regulations ready-to-go do press “Go”, there then remains the hurdle (not mentioned in the article) of Congress’s ability to “review”-and-reject regulations within six(?) months of their adoption — that’s already been used by the thugs to undo several of Obama’s final(-ish) directives / regulations.

    And, of course, teh trum-prat is an environmental rapist, excuse me, “developer”, so the idea of getting money again and again to re-re-…re-build (along with all the “developer”-only tax breaks that go along with that) would attract him like a fly to honey.

  128. blf says

    A few excepts from a long article on a state in the States which sounds eerily like a kleptocracy-“ruled” so-called “third world” country, Oklahoma isn’t working. Can anyone fix this failing American state?:

    Poverty, hunger, record prison rates and education cuts that mean a four-day school week. Why are public services failing Oklahomans?

    A teacher panhandles on a roadside to buy supplies for her third-grade classroom. Entire school districts resort to four-day school weeks. Nearly one in four children struggle with hunger.

    A city overpass crumbles and swarms of earthquakes shake the region — the underground disposal of oil and gas industry wastes have caused the tremors. Wildfires burn out of control: cuts to state forestry services mean that out-of-state firefighting crews must be called in.

    A paralyzed and mentally ill veteran is left on the floor of a county jail. Guards watch for days until the prisoner dies. A death row inmate violently convulses on the gurney as prison officials experiment with an untested cocktail for execution.

    Do these snapshots of Oklahoma show a failing state?

    Added up, the facts evoke a social breakdown across the board. Not only does Oklahoma lead the country in cuts to education, it’s also number one in rates of female incarceration, places second in male incarceration, and also leads in school expulsion rates. One in twelve Oklahomans have a felony conviction.

    Rosa Brooks of Georgetown University Law Center wrote in an essay that states begin to fail when the contract between citizens and public institutions breaks down. States “lose control over the means of violence, and cannot create peace or stability for their populations or control their territories. They cannot ensure economic growth or any reasonable distribution of social goods.”

    It may be hard to believe, but entry-level employees with a high school diploma at the popular convenience store QuikTrip make more than teachers in Oklahoma.

    For four years running, the state has led the nation in tax cuts to education, outpacing second-place Alabama by double digits. Years of tax cuts and budget shortfalls mean that Oklahoma has fallen to 49th in teacher pay. Spending per pupil has dropped by 26.9% since 2008.

    Things have become so bad that the Cherokee nation, a tribe systematically cheated out of its land allotments in the creation of the modern state of Oklahoma, recently donated $5m to the state’s education fund.


    At Oklahoma Policy Institute, a progressive thinktank, the policy analyst Carly Putnam says education is only one part of the state’s dysfunction. Putnam cites the example of a popular support program for developmental disabilities which gave families of limited means resources to take care of their loved ones. It takes roughly 10 years just to get on a waiting list to be considered for the support waiver to help a disabled person, meaning applications filed in 2006 are just now being considered. Many of the disabled patients have died by the time their files are being considered.


    [Oil geologist Shane] Matson fought Obama-era regulations in Osage County, where he was exploring for oil. But his industry’s political influence has now reached untoward extremes, he thinks. Chesapeake Energy, Devon Energy and Continental Resources have lobbied to lower the state’s gross production tax, citing competition from other states. They’ve gotten their way, with Oklahoma’s oil and gas production taxes now significantly below those of its rival Texas.

    One of the state’s richest men and its most renowned philanthropist, George Kaiser, has been urging an increase in the gross production tax for years. And there’s reason to believe it’s not necessarily a partisan issue. Until recently, North Dakota had been able to expand its education system with a 6.5% gross production tax.

    And despite the tax cuts, the Tulsa-based Newfield Exploration moved most of its staff to Houston.


    The Oklahoma Policy Institute calculates that the current regime of tax breaks and refunds costs around half a billion dollars in decreased revenue ever year. That figure, if correct, would cover the current $220 million budget gap in education but would still not be enough to make up for the state’s entire budget shortfall.


    Oklahoma declared a revenue failure the second year in a row.

    “Our situation is dire,” Oklahoma finance director Preston Doerflinger said. “To use a pretty harsh word, our revenues are difficult at best. Maybe they fall into the category of somewhat pathetic.”

    Governor Mary Fallin had an answer: prayer. The governor issued an official proclamation making 13 October [2016] Oilfield[!] Prayer Day. Christians were to gather in churches and hope for a little divine intervention targeting falling worldwide oil prices. Fallin quickly back-pedalled when it was pointed out that her proclamation only included Christians. Prayer is good for everyone, she reasoned [sic†].


    As the column points out, with four-day school week, students who depend on school meals tend to go hungry. And many students do depend school meals.

    I liked this reader’s comment: “So, in summary: a place where education is disdained and mistrusted, and the solution to all problems is to petition the Great Sky Pixie.
    “And they wonder why they’re in the shit?”

      † With bigotry and reasoning skills like that, I’m surprised hair furor hasn’t appointed her to, say, head Fema. (The guy he did appoint, Brock Long, appears to be considered highly competent by essentially everyone, and is perhaps one of the most sensible appointments in what is otherwise an dalekcracy. However, hair furor wants to reduce Mr Long’s budget.)

  129. says

    (The guy he did appoint, Brock Long, appears to be considered highly competent by essentially everyone, and is perhaps one of the most sensible appointments in what is otherwise an dalekcracy. However, hair furor wants to reduce Mr Long’s budget.)

    A law passed after Katrina required that the head of FEMA have at least five years of experience in emergency management, which is very fortunate. Unfortunately, HUD is also involved in the response/rebuilding.

  130. says

    A reservoir in Houston has started to overflow. They’re evacuating the surrounding area, which is heavily populated. Harvey is going to make landfall again to the east, and more rain is still expected for Houston.

  131. blf says

    Follow-up to @317, The now-overflowing reservoir (Addicks) is one of the two the army(? corps of engineers, I assume) began releasing water from yesterday; the other one (Barker) is also expected to overflow, but the BBC is reporting the flood gauges at Barker are now out-of-action.

    Much more dangerous, the levee at Columbia Lakes (Brazoria County, south of Houston) has been breached. There is an urgent alert to people in the area to “GET OUT NOW!” (Once a levee is breached, other parts of the levee apparently also tend fail.)

  132. says

    SC @313, thanks for those links.

    Gorka was so emphatic when he declared that he was not fired, that he had resigned. And now we learn that “do not admit” orders had been issued for Gorka and that his badge allowing access to the White House had been deactivated.

    It’s kind of hilarious how he tried to spin the situation in his long “resignation” letter. What a doofus. He applied the same kind of faulty logic to his resignation/firing as he applies to Muslims. Good riddance, you bigoted doofus. And, no, I do not take your post-firing threats seriously. Maybe you and Steve Bannon can talk to each other and leave the rest of the us alone.

    Maddow did a great job of showing how Trump lied, and how frequently he lied, about doing business (trying to do business) in Russia during the campaign.

  133. says

    Follow-up to comment 324.

    Gorka is still spinning:

    “That’s why I left so we can support the President from the outside because that’s why he was elected and he is not going to give up,” he said on “Fox and Friends.” “The question is are the people around him going to support him? At least the people on the outside like myself, Steve Bannon, we are going to support him to the fullest.”

    Gorka said Trump reached out to him on Saturday after the controversial White House aide left the White House.

    “He thanked me for my service, and he also said ‘I am sticking to the agenda,’ he is sticking to the agenda. He wants me to help him on the outside, especially in the media, to support him,” he said. “That’s exactly what I’m going to do.”


  134. says

    blf @319, Those two dams, Addicks and Barker, are in the top six for dangerous dams in the USA. That infrastructure needs to be replaced. PZ was right to highlight Trump’s failure to support sensible infrastructure regulations, and his failure to come up with a really good infrastructure plan.

    And now Trump is in Texas soaking up praise from local, state and federal officials. There’s very little balance in the reporting.

    From older reporting:

    More than 28,000 dams—about one-third of all dams in the United States—are already more than 50 years old, the standard intended lifespan of most dams.

    By 2030 more than 70 percent of dams are expected to be at least 50 years old.

    About 14,000 dams across the country are classified as “high-hazard” dams, meaning a dam failure or operational error could result in the loss of human life.

    In 2008 more than 2,000 of these high-hazard dams were also rated structurally “deficient,” meaning they were at serious risk of failure.

  135. says

    Follow-up to SC @312.

    In that press conference with President Sauli Niinisto of Finland, Trump said:

    Finland is respected by Russia. Finland has been free of Russia, really — just about one of the few countries in the region that has been — for 100 years. And Russia has a lot of respect for Finland, so that’s always good.

    WTF? Russia invaded Finland in 1939.

  136. says

    Some Republican Congress critters are desperate to limit Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Their desperation is showing.

    […] DeSantis [Florida Republican Representative Ron DeSantis] has put forward a provision that would halt funding for Mueller’s probe six months after the amendment’s passage. It also would prohibit Mueller from investigating matters that occurred before June 2015, when Trump launched his presidential campaign.

    The amendment is one of hundreds filed to a government spending package the House is expected to consider when it returns next week from the August recess. The provision is not guaranteed a vote on the House floor; the House Rules Committee has wide leeway to discard amendments it considers out of order. […]

    Politico link

  137. says

    Harvey hit the poorest and most vulnerable Texans the hardest:

    […] While many South Texans evacuated north per the recommendation of Governor Greg Abbott, poorer or disabled residents may not have had the resources or the capability to follow that advice. Many undocumented immigrants, as well, may have chosen to stay behind because Border Patrol refused to suspend its checkpoints during the storm. (The governor did affirm, however, that shelters will be exempt from immigration enforcement.) Some inmates were evacuated, while others are weathering the storm in place.

    Within cities, poor communities of color often live in segregated neighborhoods that are most vulnerable to flooding, or near petrochemical plants and Superfund sites that can overflow during the storm. This is especially true for Houston—a sprawling metropolis, where new development has long been spreading thinly across prairie lands that help absorb excess rainwater. And it’s long been understood that the city is unprepared to handle the effects of a storm as unprecedented as this one. […]

    Texas is among the states that are most vulnerable to climate change, and it’s well-acquainted with the devastation floods can cause. But it was ill-equipped to deal with a storm of this magnitude: The state has devoted little money and effort towards flood-control planning. As Harvey continues to wreak havoc, it’s clear that the most vulnerable Texans are going to pay the price.


    More details, including maps and charts, are available at the link.

  138. says

    Oh, FFS:

    […] Trump on Tuesday, while visiting Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, praised government officials for their response to the natural disaster. In particular, he noted how FEMA administrator Brock Long “has really become very famous on television over the last couple of days.” […]

  139. blf says

    Lynna@327, There’s a bit of a word-game going on here with the Addicks and Barker dams. The dams are considered “Extremely High Risk” because if there was a failure of one or both, much of Houston would be underwater. And Houston’s population is large (millions), so you don’t want to risk a failure. However, the dams have problems — apparently they drain too slowly (they are mostly intended to hold back surges and so are almost never more than about one-third full) — a problem the Corps is aware of and wants to address. Which is where the word games come in.

    Corps dams are generally funded and maintained in rough order of estimated risk. These two dams, due to their critical role in protecting Houston, are called Extremely Risk so the necessary funds, &tc, are made available.

    Dams which have a high probability of actually failing are called “High Hazard Potential” dams. As far as I can determine (I’m having trouble accessing the Corps’ site) neither dam is on that list. Indeed, all reports I’ve skimmed, including the one cited in @327, aren’t saying the dams are High Hazard (of failure) but Extreme Risk (of lost of life, &tc, should there be a failure).

    And yes, the States does have a huge problem with aging dams. One case I have some familiarity with is Lake Isabella in California, where, as the New York Times put it (Feb-2011), “The Army Corps of Engineers, which built and operates the 57-year-old dam, learned several years ago that it had three serious problems: it was in danger of eroding internally; water could flow over its top in the most extreme flood season; and a fault underneath it was not inactive after all but could produce a strong earthquake.” Lake Isabella is both Extreme Risk and High Hazard.

    And then there’s the problem of non-Corps (generally private) dams…

    (Houston Public Media (University of Houston) has a fairly good overview (March-2016) of the two Houston dams, albeit it muddles slightly the distinction between hazard of failure and risk to life of a failure.)

  140. blf says

    SC, A cat just climbed out of the USB port. The mildly deranged penguin is offering to return it to you via trebuchet-assisted takeoff aircat.

  141. says

    “Special counsel subpoenas Manafort’s former attorney and spokesman”:

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller has issued subpoenas to a former lawyer for Paul Manafort and to Manafort’s current spokesman, an aggressive tactic that suggests an effort to add pressure on the former Trump campaign chairman.

    The subpoenas seeking documents and testimony were sent to Melissa Laurenza, an attorney with the Akin Gump law firm who until recently represented Manafort, and to Jason Maloni, who is Manafort’s spokesman, according to people familiar with the matter.

    It’s unclear what specific information the Mueller investigators believe Laurenza and Maloni may have. But issuing subpoenas to a lawyer of someone under investigation is unusual, in part because it raises potential attorney-client privilege issues that prosecutors tend to try to avoid. Maloni, as a public relations representative, doesn’t have the same attorney-client privilege protections….

    This part from the end is odd: “Andrew Weissmann, who is one of the senior lawyers overseeing the investigation, is known for aggressive tactics. Last month, the Mueller team ordered a dawn raid on Manafort’s home in Washington’s Virginia suburbs, as Manafort slept in his bedroom. The financial documents retrieved were largely ones Manafort had already turned over to congressional investigators.” I find this last claim hard to believe, and don’t know where CNN would’ve gotten it other than Manafort’s side.

  142. says

    Just a few notes to summarize the breaking news from the past week that is related to the Russia scandal. Many of these details were already posted in this thread, but I wanted to summarize in one post.

    First, this is from the Washington Post report:

    A top executive from Donald Trump’s real estate company emailed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s personal spokesman during the U.S. presidential campaign last year to ask for help advancing a stalled Trump Tower development project in Moscow, according to documents submitted to Congress on Monday.

    The request came in a mid-January 2016 email from Michael Cohen, one of Trump’s closest business advisers, who asked longtime Putin lieutenant Dmitry Peskov for assistance in reviving a deal that Cohen suggested was languishing.

    As noted up-thread, these facts contradict Trump’s denials (repeated during the campaign, and then repeated some more after he was elected) that he had any ongoing business interests in Russia, or that any of his people were involved in making deals in Russia or with Russians. The bank involved in the Trump Tower project in Moscow is controlled by Putin. The deal fell through, but it was active while Trump was heaping praise on Putin during the campaign.

    Relevant email correspondence from Felix Sater (a Russian-born real estate developer and Trump associate):

    Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it. I will get all of Putins team to buy in on this, I will manage this process.

    The email was published in the New York Times.

    From NBC News:

    Federal investigators working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller are keenly focused on President Donald Trump’s role in crafting a response to a published article about a meeting between Russians and his son Donald Jr., three sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

    The sources told NBC News that prosecutors want to know what Trump knew about the meeting and whether he sought to conceal its purpose.

    It looks like Trump knew more than he admitted about that meeting, and that he played a major role in issuing statements that attempted to cover up the true purpose of the meeting.

    Other news: Mueller’s team issued subpoenas to Paul Manafort’s former lawyer and to Manafort’s current spokesperson. Mueller’s team later added subpoenas for other persons associated with Manafort, to lobbying firms, to people associated with Michael Flynn, etc.

  143. says

    SC @338. Thanks.

    Here are some details:

    He stood on a raised platform of some type. Couldn’t tell if it was a step ladder or not. But he was not on a truck. Spoke into a microphone.

    “I love you, you are special, we’re here to take care of you. It’s going well.”

    “What a crowd, what a turnout.”

    Reporters heard no mention of the dead, dying or displaced Texans and no expression of sympathy for them. The message was services are coming and Texans will be OK.

    “Texas can handle anything,” POTUS said.

    “We are going to get you back and operating immediately,” he told the crowd (this contradicts the “Long haul” Sen. John Cornyn has publicly discussed and the caveat from FEMA administrator long moments earlier that it’s going to be a slow process).

    Clueless Bullshitter in Chief.

  144. says

    Trump sounded bizarrely pleased that the disaster in Texas was huge.

    […] Harvey. Sounds like such an innocent name. It’s not. It’s not innocent. […]

    Nobody’s ever seen anything this long and nobody’s seen this much water. Probably there’s never been anything so expensive in our country’s history. […]

  145. says

    OMG this exchange is something else. Scariness aside, I love that he’s saying “deal with it” about the history of the site where their traitor president ran to hide from the US army when the Confederacy lost the war. Dude, that’s pretty easy to deal with. Best part are her hashtags, including: “#byefelicia #byeStonewall #byeLee.”

  146. says

    The story of dangerous chemicals being released into the air in Texas is one that should be reported, and one that I think team Trump is likely to ignore.

    […] The huge industrial footprint in Houston has “created lots of problems when it comes to greenhouse gases and other industrial pollution,” Bullard added.

    […] the region’s extensive petrochemical infrastructure is vulnerable, posing a public health risk to residents. ExxonMobil’s Baytown oil refinery near Houston was damaged by Harvey […].

    Exxon filed two excess emissions reports with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). The agency then authorized the excess emissions from the facility during that process. […]

    At Exxon’s Beaumont petrochemical refinery, Harvey damaged a sulfur thermal oxidizer, a piece of equipment that captures and burns sulfur dioxide. As a result, the plant released 1,312.84 pounds of sulfur dioxide, well in excess of the amounts allowed by the company’s permits, the Washington Post reported.

    Meanwhile, TCEQ has shut off its air quality monitors to protect them from storm-related damage. As a result, petrochemical companies are expected to report emissions of pollutants to the nearby communities, which are largely minority and low-income. The temporary self-reporting may leave these residents uninformed about potentially dangerous pollutants in their air.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is the lead agency for cleaning up oil and chemical spills in the wake of Harvey. But the agency’s regional office, Region 6, currently does not have a permanent director.

    Royal Dutch Shell PLC said it was dealing with a similar problem at its Deer Park refinery and chemical facility in the Houston area, when a storage tank roof was damaged by heavy rainfall. […]

    Late Monday afternoon, a chemical leak prompted orders for residents of La Porte, east of Houston, to take cover and turn off air-conditioning and heating systems. The chemical anhydrous hydrogen chloride, which can cause eye, throat, and nasal irritation, had reportedly leaked from a pipeline. […]

    Harvey and its devastating impact on the region was “very predictable,” Bullard said. “Those communities that historically have borne the burden of environmental pollution and contamination from these many industries at the same time are the very communities that are bearing disproportionately the burden of this flooding.”

  147. blf says

    Hair furor, “Probably there’s never been anything so expensive in our country’s history” (see @348): I presume his clock is stuck, as he could be correct here, assuming he means cost of a natural disaster in the States as measured in current dollars. Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge says the largest (by that metric) currently is Deepwater Horizon: “Between $60 and $100billion”. Those are the same sort of numbers I’ve seen speculated for Harvey.

  148. says

    Team Trump is trying to get the UN to help in scrapping the Iran nuclear deal. They are doing this in sneaky and illogical ways, ways that will allow them (they think) to blame Iran.

    […] On Tuesday, Iran dismissed a U.S. request to have U.N. inspectors look at its military sites. […] Ali Akbar Velayati, Head of Iran’s Center for Strategic Research of the Expediency Council, said the United States needs to abandon this “wish.” He added that such inspections — to be carried out by the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) at the request of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley — would “not be allowed under any circumstance.”

    “It’s not up to the Trump administration where to inspect in Iran. It’s up to the professional inspectors at the International Atomic Energy Agency,” said Matthew Bunn, a professor of practice at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government specializing in nuclear proliferation and control. […]

    […] He added that the other signatories to the agreement — France, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and Germany — as well as the European Union could stick with the agreement, despite what Trump administration says. (Iran, for its part, has said that it will continue with the agreement if the United States withdraws, as long as other signatories remain.) […]

    The IAEA can request that a military facility be inspected if it has information that such an inspection is required. […]

    Trump has repeatedly called the nuclear agreement “the worst deal ever” […] He has been trying to persuade the international community that Iran is violating “the spirit” of the agreement, but has thus far been unable to prove this claim, and ultimately, recertified the agreement on July 17. But the deal is up for recertification every three months, and there are reports indicating that Trump is trying to make a case for not certifying the deal in October.

    Trump told the Wall Street Journal in July that he was convinced Iran was “noncompliant.” […]

  149. blf says

    Lynna@350, Thanks, I was wondering about that, since, as I recall, Katrina caused similar-ish problems — both air and water pollution / contamination — due to damaged (petro?-)chemical facility leaks. To-date, I’ve only seen brief mentions of sewage problems in the Houston area.

  150. says

    blf @351, Yes, Trump could be right about his “most expensive” claim. It bothers me that he made that claim before an assessment has been done. And it bothers me a lot that he sounded excited, pleased, that the biggest disaster was in his incompetent hands. I also don’t like Hair Furor’s default money-money-money mode, which is always attached to his more-fame-for-me mode.

    He is definitely looking forward to being congratulated for not totally fucking up:

    “We won’t say congratulations. We don’t wanna do that,” Trump cautioned. “We don’t wanna congratulate. We’ll congratulate each other when it’s all finished, but you have been terrific.” […]

    “We want to do it better than ever before,” Trump told the group of officials gathered around a table inside a firehouse in Annaville. “We wanna be looked at in five years, in 10 years from now as this is the way to do it.”

    Trump described Harvey as a storm “of epic proportion,” adding that “nobody has ever seen anything like this.” […]

  151. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’ve been part of the hazard analysis for new chemical processes. While the questions do involve hurricanes, normal floods, and tornadoes, it does not include the almost biblical flooding seen in Houston. What can we do in the tornado belt, if a tornado takes out the building containing a reactor full of potent compounds? Only hope the sealed reactor doesn’t break during building failure.
    A lot of the petrochemical industry in the Gulf coast region is “grandfathered” in. No excuse, simply an explanation.

  152. says

    You know that bit where Trump claimed that he knowingly announced his pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio during the Hurricane Harvey disaster? He “assumed the ratings would be far higher than they were normally.”

    Yes, but think about that for a moment. Trump wanted those high ratings for himself, not for Sheriff Joe. Trump was jealous of the hurricane. The hurricane stole Trump’s spotlight and he had to do something to get it back.

  153. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Maybe Nerd can shed some more light on this unnerving situation:

    Yes, organic peroxides are like the shuttle SRBs. They contain both oxidizing moieties (the peroxide functionality containing an oxygen-oxygen bond), and reducing (combustible) functionalities, meaning the hydrocarbon content of the compound. Most organic peroxides sold commercially are considered semi-stable, like the SRB propellants. And each organic peroxide has its own temperature for the onset of decomposition, and the decomposition is exothermic, increasing the rate of reaction with increasing temperature, leading to increased pressure in the containers with potential fire from atmospheric oxygen from the hot organics. Most are stored and shipped under refrigerated conditions, or preferably, used on site to start free radical polymerization reactions.

  154. blf says

    Nerd@362, Thanks, that is useful background.

    Guessing, I suspect one specific point SC@359 was asking about — and is certainly what I am wondering about — is this part:

    The Crosby Fire Department evacuated one employee last night and the rest of the staff was evacuated Tuesday afternoon when the refrigeration in some of the back-up containers also started to fail. The French specialty chemical company produces organic peroxides at the plant.

    It would be surprising if the company had not considered as scenario like this, said Sam Mannan of Texas A&M University’s Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center.

    Companies typically would have the ability to quench the organic peroxides in situations like this with another chemical so it’s no longer dangerous.

    “You’ll lose the feedstock but it’s safer than letting it go into runaway mode,” Mannan said.

    Whilst the article is unclear (not too surprising), naïve readers may get the impression the facility hasn’t and either won’t or cannot quench the organic peroxides. (Not to mention this is Texas which, whilst not Oklahoma, is often(?) perceived to be very lax in its standards and regulations.)

  155. blf says

    Japanese minister Taro Aso praises Hitler, saying he had right motives:

    Finance minister forced to retract comment after criticism that he appeared to be defending Hitler’s motives for the genocide of millions of Jews
    Hitler, who killed millions of people, was no good even if his motive was right, Aso told a meeting of his faction of the governing Liberal Democratic party […]

    Aso retracted the comments on Wednesday […].

    “It is clear from my overall remarks that I regard Hitler in extremely negative terms, and it’s clear that his motives were also wrong,” Aso said in a statement, adding that he did not intend to defend Hitler, but to stress the importance of politicians achieving results.

    “It was inappropriate that I cited Hitler as an example and I would like to retract that.”


    It is not the first time the gaffe-prone Aso has made controversial remarks about the Nazis.

    In 2013, he came under pressure to resign after suggesting that Japan should follow the Nazis’ example when considering how to change its constitution.

    Criticising the lack of support among older people for revising Japan’s postwar pacifist constitution, Aso said it could learn from how the Nazi party changed Germany’s constitution by stealth before the second world war.


  156. blf says

    ‘Essential rights’: Chile’s President Bachelet introduces gay marriage bill:

    Signed [sic?] a week after the country’s landmark easing of its abortion ban, the bill is expected to allow same-sex couples to adopt children

    The Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, has introduced a bill to legalise gay marriage, a move that follows a string of liberal reforms in one of Latin America’s most conservative nations.

    In 2015, Chile’s congress approved same-sex civil unions after years of legislative wrangling. In March, Bachelet […] pledged to send a full marriage bill to legislators before the end of the year. On Monday, she fulfilled her promise.


    The bill is expected to allow same-sex couples to adopt children.

    The move comes a week after Chile’s constitutional court approved a landmark bill that will allow abortion in some circumstances.

    Before that, Chile was one of only a handful of countries in the world that outlawed terminating a pregnancy in any situation, including when a woman’s life was in danger.


    It was not immediately clear if Bachelet will be able to push the gay marriage bill through congress before she leaves office in March 2018.


  157. lumipuna says

    In that press conference with President Sauli Niinisto of Finland, Trump said:

    Finland is respected by Russia. Finland has been free of Russia, really — just about one of the few countries in the region that has been — for 100 years. And Russia has a lot of respect for Finland, so that’s always good.

    WTF? Russia invaded Finland in 1939.

    Well, our relationship with Russia has always been “good considering circumstances”. The 1939-40 Soviet invasion attempt was called off after 3 1/2 months, just before final breakthrough. No war since 1944. No awkward tiptoeing around since the end of Soviet era.

    Finnish media, pols and diplomats seem to be generally just happy that Niinistö got to pose with Trump – many believe that visibility is highly beneficial for small countries. Even better if some small gaffes make the meeting go viral in English language social media (as long as the gaffes were made by the other president, natch). There was some mild concern that Trump mispresented Finland’s jet fighter purchases as if the deal was already done with Boeing – we’re currently just comparing offers.

    Also I don’t think Niinistö looked more awkward than usually. He has those boggly eyes, and Finnish politicians don’t smile much.

  158. says

    lumina @366, thanks for the clarification, and for the additional details.

    In other news, Trump is threatening North Korea … again.

    The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!

    That will ratchet up the tensions. Trump really seems to want to start a nuclear war.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] I’m sympathetic to the argument that it’s a mistake to treat every presidential tweet as an important breaking news story, but when a rogue nuclear power is firing missiles over Japan, and Donald Trump is publicly suggesting he no longer believes in diplomacy, we can’t simply pretend the president’s Twitter account is irrelevant.

    Because it’s a safe bet Kim Jong-un is reading it.

    To the extent that the details matter, the United States hasn’t provided North Korea with financial assistance in nearly a decade, and the last round of direct talks between the two countries ended in 2012. Trump’s tweet makes it sound like diplomacy and financial aid aren’t working, but in reality, neither have been part of the U.S. policy towards North Korea in recent years.

    So, in addition to being a bully on Twitter, Trump is also lying about the facts.

    But even putting these relevant details aside, there are a variety of questions the White House should try to answer today, starting with an obvious one: if the president is convinced diplomacy is “not the answer,” what is? While we’re at it, did Trump discuss this new posture with U.S. allies this morning, or is he just winging it again based on something he saw on television?

    Trump’s online missive comes the day after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told reporters, in reference to North Korea, “I think something serious has to happen…. Enough is enough.” Is this part of a coordinated American escalation, or are Trump and his team blowing off steam?

    Nuclear diplomacy in 140 characters is a very bad idea. […]


  159. says

    Follow-up to comment 367.

    In response to Trump’s most recent threatening tweet aimed at North Korea, Secretary of Defense James Mattis said:

    We are never out of diplomatic solutions. We continue to work together, and the minister [South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-Moo] and I share a responsibility to provide for the protection of our nations, our populations, and our interests.

  160. says

    Ivanka is on daddy’s side again, and boy is she wrong:

    First daughter Ivanka Trump, who made wage equality and workplace protections for women one of her signature issues on the campaign trail and in her personal brand, declared her support for the White House’s announcement Tuesday that it will halt a proposal requiring businesses to disclose employees’ pay, gender, race and ethnicity.

    “While I believe the intention was good and agree that pay transparency is important, the proposed policy would not yield the intended results,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal. “We look forward to continuing to work with EEOC, OMB, Congress and all relevant stakeholders on robust policies aimed at eliminating the gender wage gap.” […]

    Former President Barack Obama’s administration proposed the rule in 2016 to collect wage and pay data from employers for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to analyze.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, the White House said the information that would be collected under the rule would be too excessive to comply with the federal Paperwork Reduction Act. […]

    She [Ivanka] touted her father as someone who would fight for equal pay, and made support for working women a central pillar of her personal brand, though neither appear to have borne fruit in Trump’s new role as a senior member of her father’s administration.


    Team Trump’s move looks like one more anti-regulation knee-jerk, combined with an anti-Obama knee-jerk reaction.

  161. says

    I thought about this yesterday: Hurricane Harvey might make it possible for Trump to dump his ridiculous proposal to have U.S. taxpayers pay for a border wall (with the promise that Mexico will pay eventually).

    Journalist Noah Lanard agrees. Lanard explained how this approach might actually work:

    […] At a press conference on Tuesday, Trump promised “rapid action from Congress” to provide “many billions of dollars” in disaster relief. When asked how that fit with his border wall posturing, Trump said, “I think it has nothing to do with it, really,” adding, “I think this is separate.” But it isn’t. The hurricane may end up providing a perfect excuse not to fund the wall.

    Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can couple Harvey relief with the spending bill needed to keep the government open, as well as the debt ceiling increase. Republican congressional leaders are reportedly leaning toward that approach, which could compel members of Congress to cooperate on those measures if they don’t want to be seen as torpedoing disaster relief. […]

    If Congress takes this approach, Trump would be forced to shut down the government and deny relief to hurricane victims just to show he won’t budge on the wall. The Washington Post, citing a well-connected Republican lobbyist, reported on Tuesday that some Trump advisers are telling the president to use this opportunity to abandon his insistence on the wall without losing face, and then fight for the wall funding later this year. […]

    The Trump administration may end up making two funding requests: one to address the immediate aftermath of the storm and a larger request after the full scope of the damage is known. That would follow the approach Congress used after Hurricane Katrina, when it initially allocated $10 billion and followed up with another $51 billion. One early estimate by Chuck Watson, a risk modeler, puts damages from Harvey at $42 billion. Politico reported on Wednesday that Congress is likely to pair the initial funding with the September stopgap bill, and then add the rest to a December spending bill needed to keep the government open until October 2018. […]

    After infuriating their New York and New Jersey colleagues by voting against Sandy relief, Republican hardliners look like they may back down this time. On Tuesday, a spokesman for Freedom Caucus chair Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said disaster relief does not have to be offset by other cuts.

    And in a bad sign for Trump, Meadows isn’t demanding the border wall money either. “In talking to a number of my members, if there was a vote for a continuing resolution next week that did not include border wall funding,” Meadows told ABC News, “the majority of those members would be supportive of that.”

  162. says

    Good news: for the second month in a row Rachel Maddow’s show finished first in cable news ratings.

    MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow continued her summer surge, finishing the month of August as the host of the most-watched program in cable news. Maddow also topped cable news ratings in July.

    Maddow ended the month averaging a total of 2.783 million viewers at 9 p.m. ET, edging out Fox’s Sean Hannity, who delivered 2.679 million viewers per night at 10 p.m. […]

    The top five in the 25- to 54-year-old demographic mirrored the total viewer rankings, with Maddow finishing first and Hannity, Carlson, “The Five” and O’Donnell rounding out the top five.

    In overall basic cable ratings, Fox News finished the month as the most-watched channel for the 14th consecutive month, averaging 2.2 million viewers in prime time.

    MSNBC finished second with 1.83 million viewers, followed by HGTV, USA Network and TBS.

    The Hill link.

  163. blf says

    Rightwing alliance plots assault to defund and defang America’s unions:

    ● Conservative campaign aims to strike mortal blow on government unions
    ● A once-in-a-lifetime chance to reverse the failed policies of the American left

    Rightwing activists across the US have launched a nationwide campaign to undermine progressive politicians by depriving them of a major source of support and funding — public sector unions.

    A network of conservative thinktanks with outposts in all 50 states has embarked on a breakthrough campaign designed to strike a mortal blow against the American left. The aim is to defund and defang unions representing government employees as the first step towards ensuring the permanent collapse of progressive politics.

    The campaign carries a powerful echo of the populist creed espoused by Donald Trump. The president [sic] was propelled into the White House last November after unexpected victories in several previously Democratic rust belt states including Michigan and Wisconsin, both of which have endured withering attacks on trade unions in recent years.

    The new assault is being spearheaded by the State Policy Network (SPN), an alliance of 66 state-based thinktanks […], with a combined annual budget of $80m. As suggested by its slogan — State solutions. National impact — the group outlines an aim to construct a rightwing hegemony throughout the US, working from the bottom up.

    To do that, it first has to sweep aside the public sector unions and their historic ties to Democratic and progressive politicians. In a 10-page fundraising letter, part of a set of documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy and published by the Guardian today for the first time, SPN sets out its mission in frank language that does not disguise its partisan ambitions.

    The author of the letter, SPN’s president and CEO Tracie Sharp […] pitches the battle against unions as the start of a war on progressive politics, with the ultimate goal of winning elections for rightwing candidates. […]

    The target of such union-bashing, she openly admits, is to defund and defang one of our freedom movement’s most powerful opponents, the government unions. The long-term objective is to deal a major blow to the left’s ability to control government at the state and national levels. I’m talking about permanently depriving the left from access to millions of dollars in dues extracted from unwilling union members every election cycle (emphasis in original).


    SPN’s disclosure of its political and partisan objectives in the new documents[] could arouse the interest of investigators from the Internal Revenue Service. The group is constituted as a 501(c)(3) organisation, which renders it exempt as a charity from taxation.

    Marc Owens, a partner with Loeb & Loeb who worked as an IRS lawyer specializing in charitable tax exemptions, said that the provision was designed for charitable purposes, not for lobbying against public sector unions or for activities to influence the outcome of elections. “A charity that does those things is not engaging in charitable activities and that puts its tax exempt status in jeopardy,” he said.


      † Redacted from the above excerpt is a second document the Grauniad is also publishing, “an SPN toolkit [… that advises Republican policymakers on how to campaign for anti-union legislation.”

  164. says

    Trump flew to Missouri to talk about his tax reform plan (a plan that does not exist in reality). Greg Sargent at the Washington Post had a few things to say:

    [What] we will actually hear at this speech is the death rattle of whatever pretensions to genuine economic populism Trump has ever harbored, if any. Trump will make it official that this rhetoric is merely a disguise for the same old trickle-down economics we have heard for decades — confirming that his economic agenda is in sync with the very same GOP economic orthodoxy that he so effectively used as a foil to get elected.

    From the Wall Street Journal:

    One of the [White House] officials said Mr. Trump would make a “very bipartisan speech” that would reflect Americans’ frustration that a well-connected few are reaping economic gains.

    “We’re going to end the rigged system,” said the official, echoing language used by groups backed by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch and contending that Americans understand how they would benefit if businesses prosper. “We’re going to build a tax code that really allows all Americans to have access to the American dream.”

    The bullshit is running deeper than the floods in Houston. Notice the use of the word “access,” which Republicans also used in reference to their health care proposals. This basically means that if you are already rich, you will have access to greater riches. If you are not rich, it is your own damned fault and you don’t deserve the same kind of help that Trump is promising to upper-income business owners.

  165. says

    From “Coach” Dave Daubenmire:

    Houston, we got a problem here. Could some of the problems be the result of the judgment of God coming your way because of the slaughter of unborn children? You had a lesbian mayor who wanted to look at the prayers of pastors in their churches. What? It’s a debaucherous! […]

    From Ann Coulter:

    I don’t believe Hurricane Harvey is God’s punishment for Houston electing a lesbian mayor. But that is more credible than “climate change.”

    From The Liberty Beacon, a site that pushes the idea that “weather manipulation has been and is currently Weaponized by the Power Elite for use against Humanity” – (odd use of initial caps comes from the original):

    “As I said in the video, as soon as this storm reaches the shore, On-Land Water Vapor Generation from Texas, Louisiana, etc., will take over fueling this storm, and that process has already begun. Already the tell-tale On-Land Bursts have begun in Texas and Louisiana, and it’s going to get much, much worse. When this storm is fully over land, all of these sources will be running, and massive flooding is guaranteed.

    It’s also no coincidence that Hurricane Harvey is hitting the United States, 25 years to the day after Hurricane Andrew hit Florida. Since all of these storms are very clearly and very obviously deliberated manufactured, this “Anniversary Hurricane” was clearly intentional.” […]

    One last thing… keep an open mind to your “legit” fellow activists as they bring new information into the GeoEngineering Arena of Discussion and Disclosure. To think the Power Elites only use one form of GeoEngineering and one form of techknowledgey, is indeed short sighted.

    From Wonkette:

    […] So, in summation, Hurricane Harvey was caused by the power elite for reasons, after they murdered Glen Campbell, but also by god to punish Houston for having once elected a lesbian mayor and women for having abortions, and also Katy Perry, then the city refused to evacuate hoping that people would die and make Donald Trump look bad, but none of that really matters anyway because the rapture is coming.

    But it definitely has nothing to do with climate change!

  166. blf says

    Follow-up to @367, Defense secretary quickly contradicts Trump over North Korea diplomacy:

    Minutes after president [sic] says talking is not the answer to tensions with Pyongyang, James Mattis says diplomatic solutions never run out

    Donald Trump appeared to rule out contacts with the North Korean regime in the wake of its missile test over Japan on Wednesday, declaring: Talking is not the answer.

    Minutes later, however, the defense secretary, James Mattis, flatly contradicted the president’s [sic] blanket statement, telling reporters: “We’re never out of diplomatic solutions.”

    Such sharply conflicting statements have become a norm for the Trump administration, but it is unclear how they are being read by the regime in Pyongyang and US allies in the region.


    […] After more than three weeks went by following a 28 July [N.Korean] ICBM test, the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, hailed North Korean “restraint” and suggested: “Perhaps we are seeing our pathway to some time in the near future having some dialogue.”

    North Korea experts warned at the time that the administration was misreading Pyongyang if it thought Trump’s threats had deterred the regime from conducting more tests, including the planned Guam salvo. On Wednesday, analysts argued that the Tuesday test over Japan did not necessarily represent a complete rejection of talks.

    “They could have been more provocative,” said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association. “Pyongyang could have aimed the missiles to splash near Guam as it was planning.


    [A senior fellow at the New America Foundation, Suzanne] DiMaggio, who helped organize the first official discussions between the Trump administration and North Korean government representatives, in Oslo in May, added: “I think we should fully expect to see another missile test and even another nuclear test in the coming weeks and months.”

  167. blf says

    From @374, some nutter is quoted, [A]s soon as this storm reaches the shore, On-Land Water Vapor Generation from Texas, Louisiana, etc., will take over fueling this storm, and that process has already begun.

    Whilst I have no idea what teh crank means by On-Land Water Vapor Generation, that babbling reminds me there actually is an interesting phenomenon when Harvey was stalled over Houston: Where was all the water it was raining coming from? Normally, hurricanes suck up water from the ocean, but Houston is not the ocean.

    Well, after awhile Houston basically was (and still is) an “ocean”. There was so much water flooding Houston that Harvey was sucking it back up and recycling it as rain.

    Tidbit from Hurricane Harvey: Why Is It So Extreme?: “How did the storm rapidly blow up from Category 1 to 4, why is it so stuck over Houston, how can it possibly produce so much rain? And more”.

  168. blf says

    Trump makes policy pledge to senator investigating son’s Russia meeting:

    President [sic] promises federal support for ethanol to industry backer Chuck Grassley a day after reports that Trump Jr will meet with Grassley’s committee

    Donald Trump called a senior Republican senator from Iowa on Wednesday whose congressional committee is investigating his son, Donald Trump Jr, and promised him critical federal support for the biofuel ethanol, a key issue for the lawmaker.

    Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee and a major advocate of the ethanol industry, announced on Twitter that he had received a phone call from Trump and had been assured by the US president [sic] that Trump was “pro ethanol” and was “standing by his campaign promise” to support the biofuel.

    Hair furor did support biofuels during his 21-June rally in Grassley’s state, Iowa (and at times during his campaign). However, the industry and others are not happy, since he has proposed cuts to the EPA’s biofuels research. (Some reports suggest by as much as 70% but I’ve not been able to quickly confirm this.)

    The phone call came less than a day after CNN reported that Trump’s eldest son had reached an agreement with the committee to appear in a private session and answer investigators’ questions. […]

    As the Grauniad observes, using almost New York Times style waffle, “The timing of the president’s [sic] call is most noteworthy because it came just as the committee’s forthcoming interview of Trump Jr was publicly confirmed.”

  169. says

    More good news, (tentative good news since Trump may still blow up the whole system):

    […] In the first three months of 2017, just 8.8 percent of Americans — or 28.1 million people — lacked health insurance, the CDC said…. There are now 20.5 million fewer people without health insurance than there were in 2010, when Obamacare, as the ACA is popularly known, began taking effect, the agency said. […]

    CNBC link

    From Vox:

    […] The biggest gains in insurance coverage have been for minority groups and low-income Americans. The uninsured rate for Hispanic Americans, for example, fell from 40.6 percent in early 2013 (the year before Obamacare’s coverage expansion took effect) to 24.1 percent in early 2017. […]

    There are caveats to the good news, of course.

    […] there is still significant frustration among Obamacare enrollees (and, increasingly, among those with employer-sponsored coverage) that the plans require significant out-of-pocket payments. The plans sold on the Obamacare marketplaces can have deductibles as high as $6,000 for individuals and $13,000 for families. These plans do not come with an HSA to defray out-of-pocket costs. Enrollees have to pay their way through that entire deductible; many won’t use enough health care to do so.

    Polls of Obamacare enrollees find that these high deductibles are their biggest frustration — but it’s a difficult issue to solve. It requires either spending more money subsidizing Obamacare plans (not likely when Republicans control Congress) or regulating medical prices to drive down what people pay when they go to the doctor (not likely when any party is in control of Congress). This is one frustration that is likely to stick around, even among those happy to gain coverage, with no solution on the horizon. […]

  170. says

    Another threat from Trump:

    We must, we have no choice, we must lower our taxes. And your senator, Claire McCaskill, she must do this for you. And if she doesn’t do it for you, you have to vote her out of office. She’s got to make that commitment. If she doesn’t do it — we just can’t do this anymore with the obstruction and the obstructionists.

    Trump did not provide any details regarding the four points made earlier in his less-than-one-page tax proposal.
    1. slash corporate taxes
    2. simplify tax code
    3. remove special interest deductions
    4. tax relief for middle class families

  171. says

    Republicans may hold the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as a hostage when it comes time to negotiate over tax cuts.

    Congress returns next week to a nightmarishly short calendar during which they must pass a host of bills to keep the government running, including the reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides health coverage to millions of children in low-income families and expires on Sept. 30.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, Republicans may attempt to use the CHIP deadline as a vehicle to revive their effort to chip away at the Affordable Care Act, and could try to attach amendments to the bill to reauthorize its funding. […]

    The American Academy of Pediatrics, The National Association of Medicaid Directors and several other groups have voiced concerns about attempts to play politics with the CHIP funding, warning that any attempt to attach a controversial “poison pill” provision to the must-pass bill would put it in jeopardy.

  172. says

    Still more lies related Trump Tower Moscow, as detailed by Scott Dworkin:

    Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen said that a deal never materialized on Trump Tower Moscow. That led me to do some research last night which uncovered evidence proving Cohen was lying. […]

    […] He claimed to the Washington Post that no land had been chosen for Trump’s Moscow Tower, but years of news reports and press releases say otherwise.n June, […]

    The Trump Tower Moscow project that Michael Cohen planned for his then-Republican presidential candidate client— and directly asked for help from the Kremlin to approve — did, in fact, have a site, and was planned adjacent to the Crocus City Hall, right alongside the Myakinino metro station.

    Initial plans dated all the way back to 2013 and the Miss Universe Moscow pageant. Development partners the Agalarov family confirmed Crocus City as the Trump Tower site as late as 2015, during the campaign.

    […] Emin Agalarov — who set up with his agent Rob Goldstone, Don Jr.’s infamous meeting with Russian agents for dirt on Hillary Clinton — told TASS reporters that the real estate deal would survive the political campaign […]

    Trump had entered the Republican primary campaign two weeks earlier, on June 16th, 2015.

    TASS reported that a bank loan of up to $100 million from state-owned Sberbank would be sought for the $170 million Moscow Tower project.

    Sberbank sponsored Miss Universe 2013 and announced $2.4 billion in financing for the Trump project with Crocus just days after the pageant concluded, but landed on America’s sanctions list over the Ukraine invasion in March 2014.

    Google Street View images show that one of the towers pictured near the cover photo, inside Crocus City’s master planned space began construction on or before June 2015. […]

    Kremlin-linked developer Aras Agalarov told Russian media in September 2015 that his son Emin had been in contact with Donald Trump during the primary campaign. Komsomolskaya Pravda reports that Aras Agalarov said (via Google Translate):

    “[Trump] is busy with the presidential election campaign. And Emin had seen him recently — there, in America.”

    When asked this by KP, “Tell us and now do you have no contacts with Trump?” Agalarov replied, “Principally we have contacts.”

    But Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen definitely lied to the news media while spinning the damaging release of emails he sent to the Kremlin asking for help with the project. He told the Washington Post this week that the Trump Moscow project was unable to obtain land […]

    Cohen said he abandoned the project because he lost confidence that the Moscow developer would be able to obtain land, financing and government approvals. “It was a building proposal that did not succeed, and nothing more,” he said.

    Contrary to the Trump Organization’s bogus spin, the massive development site below was designated, and plans for Trump Tower Moscow were proceeding during the presidential campaign […]

  173. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Chris Hayes is just reporting that the NY State Attorney General Schneiderman and Bob Muller are cooperating with their investigations.
    The main interest, is that Hair Furor can only pardon Federal prosecutions, not State prosecutions. Checkmate Trump…
    Link hopefully will follow when posted.

  174. says

    “Paul Manafort’s Overseas Political Work Had a Notable Patron: a Russian Oligarch “:

    Paul Manafort’s political-consulting firm was active for more than a decade doing work that often dovetailed with Russian political interests not only in Ukraine, but also in Georgia and Montenegro, other countries the Kremlin considered to be in its sphere of influence.

    A Wall Street Journal examination shows these efforts were broader in scope and ambition, and took place for longer, than previously reported—starting in 2004 and continuing through 2015.

    They often involved one principal figure, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a politically connected international operator whose ventures have sometimes aligned with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign-policy objectives. “I don’t separate myself from the state,” he told the Financial Times in 2007. “I have no other interests.”…

    Much more at the link.

  175. blf says

    The document Nerd@389 linked to makes clear Arkema does know about quenching, as speculated by (Professor?) Sam Mannan (see me@363), saying (e.g.), “As a rule, dilution of pure peroxides with compatible solvents will increase the safety characteristics of the peroxides.”

    The current situation, as being reported by the MSM, suggests my summary in @363 is correct-ish, “the facility hasn’t and either won’t or cannot quench the organic peroxides.”

    The reports also indicate the facility relied on refrigeration (only?); it’s not clear from the media reports to what extent they had a backup power supply. No reports I’ve seen have indicated what the plan is for a refrigeration power failure (which apparently is what has happened), excepting Mannan’s expectation the plan would be to quench the stuff.

    As a systems engineer (albeit in a totally different industry, but one which also relies on electrical power) I’m baffled at the seeming-lack of planning for a sustained power outage.† Sustained outages are known to happen.

      † Again, with the caveat I’m in a different industry, off-hand one possible plan I can think of they might have had is to truck in more fuel for (assumed & probable) generators. The massive flooding which, presumably, prevents that is unlikely to have been considered (albeit I would expect delayed deliveries & contaminated fuel to be considered). It may be that, assuming they have sufficient back-up generators & refrigeration (to cover the possibility of generator or freezer failure), trucking in more fuel might “tick all the boxes” — in which case, from broadly analogous experience, I would not be surprised by the bean-counters nixing a “last resort” quenching capability.

  176. blf says

    Federal judge blocks Texas ban on sanctuary cities in blow for Trump (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction that blocks key parts of Texas’s ban on so-called sanctuary cities two days before the law was scheduled to go into effect.

    The decision from judge Orlando Garcia on Wednesday is a victory for immigration rights advocates and a potential blow for other Republican-led states that may be keen to follow Texas — as well as for the Trump administration, which has vowed to crack down on sanctuary cities.


    The law, known as SB4, was “one of the most extreme anti-immigrant and anti-Latino pieces of legislation in the country,” Jolt, an Hispanic political activism group, said in a statement hailing the judge’s ruling.

    “SB4 sought to force local law enforcement to carry out President Donald Trump’s mass deportation agenda, opened the door to the racial profiling of Latinos who make up 40% of our state’s population, and {would} allow the removal of democratically elected officials from office just for speaking out against the law.”


    […] Judge Garcia found that most portions of SB4 “on their face, are preempted by federal law and violate the United States constitution.”

    Though he limited his 94-page ruling to the question of whether SB4 was constitutional, Garcia noted that “there is overwhelming evidence by local officials, including local law enforcement, that SB4 will erode public trust and make many communities and neighbourhoods[] less safe. There is also ample evidence that localities will suffer adverse economic consequences.”


    [SB4] was scheduled to begin on 1 September and permit local law enforcement officers to ask the immigration status of people they detained or arrested, a provision Garcia left intact, though he said officers could share details, for example with immigration and customs enforcement, but could not themselves “act upon the information they may obtain”.

    SB4 also outlaws sanctuary cities […] by criminalising and fining local officials and entities who do not comply with requests to hold jailed immigrants beyond their normal release times so they can be picked up by federal officers and potentially deported. […]

      † It’s not impossible the Judge used British spelling, but I rather suspect this is the Grauniad living up to its nickname.

  177. blf says

    Trump vows to bring back Main Street by cutting business tax to 15%:

    President says US is being taken to the cleaners by rivals and issues blunt demand for Democrats to support his reforms

    Donald Trump has vowed to cut the US business tax rate to 15%, in a speech otherwise short on specifics, but heavy on America first rhetoric.

    Addressing workers in Springfield, Missouri, the US president — who is yet to release his own tax returns — sought to take up the mantle of Ronald Reagan, the last president to oversee a major tax reduction, even though he has sharply criticised Reagan’s measures in the past.

    Yes, how much has hair furor paid in taxes, and what mechanisms did he use to reduce — or eliminate — taxes owed?

    […] Trump’s figure seems to be a stretch. Some members of Congress have already said any plan would be likely to cut business taxes to no lower than 20%, while experts say 25% is more likely.

    Reagan pulled off tax reform in 1986 but only after two years of haggling and developing relationships with House speaker Thomas “Tip” O’Neill and other Democrats to achieve bipartisan support. He was also in the sixth year of his presidency, had fewer distractions than Trump and was more reluctant to add to the government deficit.


    Instead of a Reaganesque olive branch, he then issued a threat to a Democratic Senator in her home state. Your senator, Claire McCaskill, she must do this for you. If she doesn’t do it for you, you have to vote her out of office.

    The crowd cheered and whistled. Trump added: She’s going to make that commitment. We just can’t do this anymore with the obstruction and the obstructionists. The Dems are looking to obstruct tax cuts and tax reform.

    But Trump was not always so enthusiastic. Writing in the Wall Street Journal in 1999, he described Reagan’s Tax Reform Act of 1986 as “one of the worst ideas in recent history”.

    Trump set out four priorities: simplifying the tax code and closing loopholes exploited by the wealthy and special interests (“I’m speaking against myself when I do this”); a lower tax rate that will give Americans a pay rise and the business tax reduction to make the US competitive; tax relief for middle income families, “the forgotten people”; and bringing back trillions of dollars that US companies currently park off shore.


    […] Democrats condemned what they see as an attempt to benefit corporations and the top 1%. Nancy Pelosi, minority leader in the House, said: “Instead of offering the American people a plan for real, job-creating tax reform, President Trump is pushing a billionaires-first, trickle-down tax scheme that hands out massive tax cuts to the wealthiest, at the expense of American families.

    “If Republicans have their way, they will blow a huge hole in the deficit, gut Medicare, Medicaid, social security and the Affordable Care Act — all just to fund deficit-busting tax breaks for the high-end.”

    I like the reply to a reader’s comment “Golden shower economics” (emphasis in original): “We’ll have to wait for the vid, but doesn’t trickle-down work in those circumstances?”

  178. says

    Explosions have started at Arkema.

    Rachel Maddow did another report on it last night, looking back on Texas’ lack of zoning laws and fire codes and then-AG Greg Abbott’s role in getting rid of regulations for companies to inform the public about the dangerous chemicals they produce/store.

    The piece clearly drew from one she did in 2014 on the same subject, which I was thinking about this week when I first heard about facilities flooding in Houston:

    “Koch-backed AG helps hide chemical plant dangers.”

    Written report: “Texas’ Abbott: ‘Drive around’ to look for dangerous chemicals.”

    I remembered the report very clearly, because I couldn’t believe Abbott’s disdain for the safety of the people of the state or how bought and paid for he was by the Kochs and other rich, interested donors. It was reported in local media at the time, and I thought people would be furious. They elected him governor.Explosions have started at Arkema.

    Rachel Maddow did another report on it last night, looking back on Texas’ lack of zoning laws and fire codes and then-AG Greg Abbott’s role in getting rid of regulations for companies to inform the public about the dangerous chemicals they produce/store.

    The piece clearly drew from one she did in 2014 on the same subject, which I was thinking about this week when I first heard about facilities flooding in Houston:

    “Koch-backed AG helps hide chemical plant dangers.”

    Written report: “Texas’ Abbott: ‘Drive around’ to look for dangerous chemicals.”

    I remembered the report very clearly, because I couldn’t believe Abbott’s disdain for the safety of the people of the state or how bought and paid for he was by the Kochs and other rich, interested donors. It was reported in local media at the time, and I thought people would be furious. They elected him governor.

  179. blf says

    France24 summarise some of the faked images of Houston’s flooding which are circulating, Storm of fake images in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Some seem to be ironic comments which got away from their creators, or ill-considered commentary, but some are deliberately malicious:

    [… S]everal right-wing websites have stated that emergency services were unable to get to Houston to help people needing rescue because of Black Lives Matter activists deliberately blocking the road in protest against President Donald Trump.

    [This is a] completely fake story bolstered by an old image. The photo is actually a still from an old news report by CNN showing protesters in Atlanta — over 1000km from Houston — at a demonstration against police violence in 2016.

  180. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    blf #390
    Since I was involved involved in hazard analysis on new processes, I have paid attention to the depth of safety. Refrigeration is typically run by electricity.
    Outside power was disrupted. Back up local generator kicked in.
    The flooding took out the local back-up generator, which was probably on ground level, not on top of a building. The CHP was transferred to diesel powered refrigerators.
    Cooling capacity in the refrigerators overwhelmed by the flood waters.
    There was a response in depth. But the flood was of such a size it overwhelmed the ability of the company to safely store the CHP.
    What was needed to shut down production long before landfall and either move all the CHP to safe sites out of the hurricane/flood area, or to neutralize the chemicals prior to the arrival of the storm. The company blew the call.

  181. blf says

    Nerd@402, Yes, thanks, that nicely summaries what seems to have happened. I agree there was a response-in-depth (I like that term!), and it was overwhelmed (not surprising — other than the seeming failure to pay attention to the predictions), and your conclusion “the company blew the call” is essentially what I was driving at. I think we are basically on the same page here. Again, thanks.

  182. blf says

    Re @406, oh good grief: Charlie Hebdo makes fun of everyone but Muslims — how obtuse is it possible to be?

    And no, Charlie Hebdo clearly aren’t making fun of Harvey victims, but a commentary on nazis & their stunts like that reported in @401. Eejit.

  183. blf says

    ‘We only shoot black people'[]: Georgia officer faces investigation for comment:

    News outlets report dashcam video from July 2016 shows a white female driver telling Cobb County police Lt Greg Abbott she was scared to move her hands in order to get her cellphone. Abbott interrupts her and says: “But you’re not black. Remember, we only shoot black people.”

    Police chief Mike Register says Abbott will remain on administrative duty pending an investigation, and that “no matter what context it was said, it shouldn’t have been said”.

    Abbott’s attorney, Lance LoRusso, said in a statement Abbott is cooperating with the investigation, and that his comments were meant to de-escalate a situation involving an uncooperative passenger.

    He might have been trying to deescalate, but as the chief observed, that’s not how to do it. Why was the individual scared? (Scared, Mr LoRusso, not uncooperative.) Because of excessive & unjustified police shootings. So deescalate by confirming they happen!? Geesh.

      † I self-debated about putting his statement in stooopid quotes, and ultimately decided not to since what he said seems to largely true. The actions are wrong and stupid, but that is what is happening.

  184. says

    Brian Faler, writing for Politico analyzed Trump’s speech about tax reform, a speech in which the tax plan does not match Trump’s populist rhetoric. Trump is scamming the American taxpayer.

    […] Trump argued that his plans to cut the 35 percent corporate tax rate for the first time in 30 years would benefit regular wage earners by putting more money in corporate coffers, which he said business leaders would then use to hire more people and raise wages.

    But most economists say companies’ shareholders would be the primary beneficiaries of a corporate tax rate cut. That’s because it would make companies more profitable, which would boost their stock price while also leaving them with more money to pay out dividends. […]

    Trump wants to cut the corporate tax rate to 15 percent, while House Republicans have proposed a 20 percent rate. But it’s hard to know exactly what Republicans have in mind for the tax code. Trump has repeatedly revised his plans, which have gradually become less specific. His administration is now working behind closed doors with lawmakers on what they hope will be a consensus plan backed by the House, Senate and administration. […]

    Trump has proposed cutting the number of individual tax brackets from seven to three, and setting the rates at 10, 25 and 35 percent. The top rate is now 39.6 percent. He has also said he wants to double the standard deduction and expand subsidies for child care.

    “We will lower taxes for middle-income Americans so they can keep more of their hard-earned paychecks, and they can do lots of things with those paychecks,” Trump said in his speech.

    But his plan could actually raise taxes for some low-income people, though, because he wants to end the head-of-household filing status that benefits single parents. […]

    […] independent analyses of Trump’s tax plans have found the wealthy would be the biggest winners, thanks not just to his proposed cuts in business taxes, but also his plans to cut the top marginal income tax rate and eliminate the estate tax.

    “It doesn’t fit the model for a populist plan,” said Roberton Williams, a Tax Policy Center economist. “The business cuts really help the rich, and the individual tax cuts somewhat help the rich, and overall the benefits disproportionately go to the top end.” [….]

  185. says

    This is what we expected, but it is still disheartening to see is happening. Trump told us that he likes the poorly educated. Now he has DeVos actively supporting low-quality education:

    For-profit colleges are winning their battle to dismantle Obama-era restrictions as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rolls back regulations, grants reprieves to schools at risk of losing their federal funding and stocks her agency with industry insiders.

    More than seven months into the Trump administration, DeVos has:

    • Moved to gut two major Obama-era regulations reviled by the industry that would have cut off funding to low-performing programs and made it easier for defrauded students to wipe out their loans;

    • Appointed a former for-profit college official, Julian Schmoke Jr., to lead the team charged with policing fraud in higher education — one of a slew of industry insiders installed in key positions. Schmoke is a former dean at DeVry University, whose parent company agreed last year to pay $100 million to resolve allegations the company misled students about their job and salary prospects; […]

    Yep, adding Schmoke Jr. to the swamp. Corruption guaranteed.

    […] • Stopped approving new student-fraud claims brought against for-profit schools. […]

    “The for-profit college industry appears to have gotten everything they lobbied for and more,” said Pauline Abernathy, executive vice president of the Institute for College Access and Success, which has long advocated for stronger consumer protections and tougher regulation of the schools. […]

    Much of the fight is now shifting to the states, where Democratic attorneys general have been coordinating investigations of the industry and mounting challenges to DeVos’ rollback of federal regulations.

    “From Day One, Secretary DeVos and her advisers have chosen to side with predatory for-profit schools over the interests of students and taxpayers,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in an interview. “What they’ve done is actually make it easier for schools to cheat these students.” […]


  186. blf says

    Follow-up to @392, Trump’s corporate tax plan will probably not create a job boom, report finds. Annoyingly, this article in the Grauniad is classic Grauniad, with a relatively large number of Tpyos offerings, none of which I’ve bothered to mark / correct.

    Trump has argued that a lower tax burden will help the economy, but a new study argues reducing the corporate tax rate is unnecessary and costly

    Donald Trump’s plans to reduce the corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%[] will are unlikely to create the promised boom in jobs, according to a new report from the non-partisan Institute on Tax and Economic Policy.


    [… T]he Washington thinktank found that the cuts were unlikely to work . The study looked at 92 publicly-traded corporations that reported consistent profitability between 2008 and 2015, and found that they already benefitted from low effective tax rates, paying less than 20% of that net income to the federal government in tax.

    Ryan and Trump have argued that a lower tax burden will help create more jobs, but the study argues that these companies are already paying the lower level of taxes and have not created more jobs. In fact, while the total rate of job creation among the US private sector as a whole was 6%, these 92 companies saw a 1% decline in employment. They are creating jobs at a slower rate than the economy, in spite of having precisely this “Goldilocks” tax rate.

    The Institute on Tax and Economic Policystudied 258 consistently profitable Fortune 500 companies and found that their effective tax rate was 21.2%. In at least one year, 100 paid paid no tax at all. […]

    The studies suggest that the tax rate is not tied to job creation. While researchers at the Institute for Policy Studies didn’t study the fate of tax savings on a dollar-for-dollar basis, “we realized that that these companies had huge sums of money that were going into stock buybacks,” says Sarah Anderson, director of the Global Economy Project at the institute and the report’s author.

    She and her colleagues calculated, based on publicly disclosed data, that the 10 companies that cut the most jobs each spent $45bn over the last nine years to repurchase their stock. […]

    The report’s authors also discovered that companies with lower-than-average tax rates rewarded their CEOs with higher than average paychecks and raises. The average CEO of these 92 firms saw his or her pay rise 18% between 2008 and 2016, while that of those in all companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 13%. (The average employee, meanwhile, got a 4% wage hike between 2008 and 2016.) The better they did at cutting jobs, the higher the CEO’s earning power, the Institute for Policy Studies calculated. The 48 CEOs who eliminated the most jobs earned an average of $14.9m, 14% more than the average CEO.


      † @392 reports hair furor is currently babbling 15%, but as noted previously, that’s unrealistic, with 20–25% being the lowest considered possible (not sure about prudent).

  187. blf says

    Robert Mueller and NY attorney general working on Manafort investigation — report:

    Special counsel’s team and Eric Schneiderman’s office have reportedly shared evidence in move some see as way to create leverage for Manafort’s cooperation
    Citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, Politico reported that Mueller’s team, investigating possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, and Schneiderman’s aides have shared evidence and talked frequently about a potential case in recent weeks.

    The Associated Press, meanwhile, reported that a grand jury used by Mueller has heard secret testimony from Rinat Akhmetsin, a Russian American lobbyist who attended a June 2016 meeting with Trump’s eldest son at Trump Tower in Manhattan.

    The cooperation between Mueller and Schneiderman “could potentially provide Mueller with additional leverage to get Manafort to cooperate in the larger investigation into Trump’s campaign, as Trump does not have pardon power over state crimes”, Politico reported.


    The revelation is the clearest indication yet that Mueller and his team of investigators view the meeting, which came weeks after Trump secured the Republican presidential nomination, as a relevant inquiry point in their broader probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.


    Annoyingly, there’s no link to the AP story, but it is probably this one, Source: Grand jury hears from lobbyist in Trump Tower chat, which is largely repeated in the Granuiad’s article (but mostly redacted from the above excerpt).

  188. says

    Here’s Dilanian’s story. It’s mostly context, but a bit more detail: “Manafort’s notes, typed on a smart phone and described by one briefed source as cryptic, were turned over to the House and Senate intelligence committees and to Special Counsel Robert Mueller. They contained the words ‘donations’, and ‘RNC’ in close proximity, the sources said.”

  189. says

    “Trump Attorneys Lay Out Arguments Against Obstruction-of-Justice Probe to Mueller”:

    Lawyers for Donald Trump have met several times with special counsel Robert Mueller in recent months and submitted memos arguing that the president didn’t obstruct justice by firing former FBI chief James Comey and calling into question Mr. Comey’s reliability as a potential witness, people familiar with the matter said.

    One memo submitted to Mr. Mueller by the president’s legal team in June laid out the case that Mr. Trump has the inherent authority under the constitution to hire and fire as he sees fit and therefore didn’t obstruct justice when he fired Mr. Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in May, these people said.

    Another memo submitted the same month outlined why they believe Mr. Comey would make an witness, calling him prone to exaggeration, unreliable in congressional testimony and the source of leaks to the news media, these people said….

    This is the best they’ve got.

  190. says

    Mark Levin just made possibly the most hilarious climate denial argument ever.

    National talk radio host Mark Levin has come out with some awesome new proof that man-made climate change does not exist.

    On his August 30th broadcast, first he gravely listed scientists from history: “Aristotle, Archimedes, Galileo, Tesla, Faraday, Newton, Pasteur, Einstein and Edison,” while managing to mispronounce “Archimedes” as if his first name were “Archie,” which is pretty funny in itself.

    Then Levin popped his serious question: “What do they all have in common?” […]

    “Not a single one of them ever wrote about man-made climate change.” Levin repeats this several times, as if he’s fathoming a major revelation.

    Then: ”Because ladies and gentlemen, man-made climate change is not about science. It’s not about evidence. It’s not about knowledge. It’s not about facts. It’s about an ideology, imported in the United States from Europe, like Marxism itself.” […]

    As if he couldn’t stand the inanity of his own argument for long, Levin bailed out in less than three minutes with this:

    ”Do we believe the fifth-sixth level weather people–or Aristotle, Archimedes, Faraday, Galileo, Tesla, Newton, Pasteur, Einstein and Edison? It’s so obvious, ladies and gentlemen, it’s man-made climate change, not one of these men ever mentioned it!”

    Yes, he said “Archie Meedeez” again. […]

    Video available at the link.

  191. says

    “Exclusive: Mueller Enlists the IRS for His Trump-Russia Investigation”:

    Special counsel Bob Mueller has teamed up with the IRS. According to sources familiar with his investigation into alleged Russian election interference, his probe has enlisted the help of agents from the IRS’ Criminal Investigations unit.

    This unit—known as CI—is one of the federal government’s most tight-knit, specialized, and secretive investigative entities. Its 2,500 agents focus exclusively on financial crime, including tax evasion and money laundering. A former colleague of Mueller’s said he always liked working with IRS’ special agents, especially when he was a U.S. Attorney.

    And it goes without saying that the IRS has access to Trump’s tax returns—documents that the president has long resisted releasing to the public….

  192. says

    Russel Honoré has been on CNN the past few nights saying that they need (and have needed) many more people and aircraft for the mission in Houston. He hopes he’s wrong, but he’s been there on the ground.

  193. says

    “Why a Republican Pollster Is Losing Faith in Her Party”:

    …[Kristen Soltis] Anderson’s fear is that in a rapidly diversifying America, Trump is stamping the GOP as a party of white racial backlash—and that too much of the party’s base is comfortable with that. Trump’s morally stunted response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, this month unsettled her. But she was even more unnerved by polls showing that most Republican voters defended his remarks.

    “What has really shaken me in recent weeks is the consistency in polling where I see Republican voters excusing really bad things because their leader has excused them,” she told me. “[Massachusetts Governor] Charlie Baker, [UN Ambassador] Nikki Haley, [Illinois Representative] Adam Kinzinger—I want to be in the party with them. But in the last few weeks it has become increasingly clear to me that most Republican voters are not in that camp. They are in the Trump camp.”

    The portion of the party coalition willing to tolerate, if not actively embrace, white nationalism “is larger than most mainstream Republicans have ever been willing to grapple with,” she added….

  194. blf says

    Re @428, That absurd anti-AGW “reasoning” reminds me of some anti-evolution “reasoning” I read about once: On a radio talk show, a caller|(? interviewee?) pointed out Charles Darwin hadn’t won a Nobel prize, and therefore blah blah blah… The talk show’s host agreed that was a good argument.

    Darwin died in 1882; the Nobels weren’t established until 1895 (first awarded in 1901). And Nobels are not awarded posthumously.

  195. says…scious-victim/

    Utah nurse arrested for following the law.

    In a nutshell;
    Cops bring an unconcious man and demand that blood be drawn.
    The nurse says “Unless you have a warrant, the patient is concious and consents, or he is under arrest, I cannot draw blood. This is an agreement drawn up by your department and this hospital.”
    The patient was not under arrest, there was no warrant, and he could not consent. So, of course, no blood drawn.

    Police arrest the nurse.
    Then police proceeds to lie to the nurse about the law.

  196. says

    Update to #s 422 and 423 – the story has been amended:

    …NBC News initially reported that the notes contained the word “donation,” but a spokesman for Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa — the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose staff has reviewed the notes — disputed that the word “donation” appears. The two sources who initially provided the information then said that the word was not “donation.” One said it was “donor,” and another said it was a word that referenced political contributions, but that source declined to be more specific….

    Not sure what if anything to make of any of it.

  197. says

    Just because… Preet Bharara and Bill Browder both tweeted from lunch together yesterday, where they were “talking some justice, talking some Russia.” (And of course in the responses there’s the predictable comment about how they should form a presidential ticket. Because apparently these days all praise of everyone – Sally Yates, Bharara,* Rachel Maddow, Mattress Mack, Heather Heyer’s mother,… – has to involve a suggestion that they be president for some reason.)

    * (who wasn’t born in the US and so wouldn’t be eligible in any case)

  198. says

    “ESPN Football Analyst Walks Away, Disturbed by Brain Trauma on Field”:

    If Ed Cunningham had not already seen enough, he would be back in a broadcast booth on Saturday afternoon, serving as the color analyst for another top college football game televised on ABC or ESPN. It is the work he has done each fall for nearly 20 years.

    But Cunningham, 48, resigned from one of the top jobs in sports broadcasting because of his growing discomfort with the damage being inflicted on the players he was watching each week. The hits kept coming, right in front of him, until Cunningham said he could not, in good conscience, continue his supporting role in football’s multibillion-dollar apparatus.

    “I take full ownership of my alignment with the sport,” he said. “I can just no longer be in that cheerleader’s spot.”

    “In its current state, there are some real dangers: broken limbs, wear and tear,” Cunningham said. “But the real crux of this is that I just don’t think the game is safe for the brain. To me, it’s unacceptable.”

    “I know a lot of people who say: ‘I just can’t cheer for the big hits anymore. I used to go nuts, and now I’m like, I hope he gets up,’” Cunningham said. His eyes welled with tears. “It’s changing for all of us. I don’t currently think the game is safe for the brain. And, oh, by the way, I’ve had teammates who have killed themselves. Dave Duerson put a shotgun to his chest so we could study his brain.”

    Duerson was a teammate of Cunningham’s with the Phoenix (now Arizona) Cardinals in 1992 and 1993. He killed himself in 2011 and was posthumously found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., the debilitating brain disease that scientists say is caused by hits to the head. It has been discovered in the brains of more than 100 former N.F.L. players.

    Cunningham was also a professional teammate of Andre Waters in Arizona, and he has vivid memories of being humiliated in his first college start by the future Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau. Waters and Seau killed themselves and were later found to have C.T.E., too.

    “This is as personal as it gets,” Cunningham said. “I’m not hypothesizing here.”

    If nothing else, Cunningham’s decision could prompt some self-examination among those who watch, promote, coach or otherwise participate in football without actually playing it….

    Much more at the link.

  199. says

    “Kushners’ China Deal Flop Was Part of Much Bigger Hunt for Cash”: “Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, wakes up each morning to a growing problem that will not go away. His family’s real estate business, Kushner Cos., owes hundreds of millions of dollars on a 41-story office building on Fifth Avenue. It has failed to secure foreign investors, despite an extensive search, and its resources are more limited than generally understood. As a result, the company faces significant challenges….”

  200. says

    “Software Glitch or Russian Hackers? Election Problems Draw Little Scrutiny”:

    …After a presidential campaign scarred by Russian meddling, local, state and federal agencies have conducted little of the type of digital forensic investigation required to assess the impact, if any, on voting in at least 21 states whose election systems were targeted by Russian hackers, according to interviews with nearly two dozen national security and state officials and election technology specialists.

    The assaults on the vast back-end election apparatus — voter-registration operations, state and local election databases, e-poll books and other equipment — have received far less attention than other aspects of the Russian interference, such as the hacking of Democratic emails and spreading of false or damaging information about Mrs. Clinton. Yet the hacking of electoral systems was more extensive than previously disclosed, The New York Times found.

    Beyond VR Systems, hackers breached at least two other providers of critical election services well ahead of the 2016 voting, said current and former intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information is classified. The officials would not disclose the names of the companies.

    Intelligence officials in January reassured Americans that there was no indication that Russian hackers had altered the vote count on Election Day, the bottom-line outcome. But the assurances stopped there.

    Government officials said that they intentionally did not address the security of the back-end election systems, whose disruption could prevent voters from even casting ballots.

    That’s partly because states control elections; they have fewer resources than the federal government but have long been loath to allow even cursory federal intrusions into the voting process.

    That, along with legal constraints on intelligence agencies’ involvement in domestic issues, has hobbled any broad examination of Russian efforts to compromise American election systems. Those attempts include combing through voter databases, scanning for vulnerabilities or seeking to alter data, which have been identified in multiple states. Current congressional inquiries and the special counsel’s Russia investigation have not focused on the matter….

    Much more at the link.

  201. says

    “Mueller Has Early Draft of Trump Letter Giving Reasons for Firing Comey”:

    The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has obtained a letter that President Trump and a top political aide drafted in the days before Mr. Trump fired the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, which explains the president’s rationale for why he planned to dismiss the director.

    The May letter had been met with opposition from Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, who believed that some of its contents were problematic, according to interviews with a dozen administration officials and others briefed on the matter.

    Mr. McGahn successfully blocked the president from sending Mr. Comey the letter, which Mr. Trump had composed with Stephen Miller, one of the president’s top political advisers. A different letter, written by the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, and focused on Mr. Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, was ultimately sent to the F.B.I. director on the day he was fired.

    The contents of the original letter appears to provide the clearest rationale that Mr. Trump had for firing Mr. Comey. It is unclear how much of Mr. Trump’s rationale focuses on the Russia investigation, although Mr. Trump told aides at the time he was angry that Mr. Comey refused to publicly say that Mr. Trump himself was not under investigation. Mr. Comey later said in testimony to Congress that the president was not under investigation….

    That last paragraph seems rushed, and I’m not sure what it means exactly.

  202. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comments 452 and 454.

    Yes, it does look like both Trump and his lawyers are desperate to discredit Comey. I think they see the sword hanging over their heads.

    Since they have renewed their attacks on Comey, they have shot themselves in the foot again. Trump especially has contradicted himself (and his lawyers have compounded the contradictions). From Steve Benen:

    […] In an interesting coincidence, while Trump’s lawyers are making the case that Comey isn’t to be trusted, two Senate Republicans – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham – claim to have evidence that the former FBI director began drafting a statement on Hillary Clinton’s exoneration before the completion of the investigation into her email server protocols.

    The GOP senators, appearing eager to help with Team Trump’s offensive against Comey, wrote in a letter to the FBI this week, “Conclusion first, fact-gathering second – that’s no way to run an investigation.”

    This is what the president was seizing on this morning to argue that the system is “rigged.”

    But this doesn’t make any sense. First, it’s not exactly scandalous to think the FBI director saw where the investigation was headed, and began making notes for a draft statement. Political hysterics notwithstanding, the case against Clinton was pretty ridiculous, and objective legal observers knew for months how the probe would end up.

    Second, Trump seems to have forgotten his own White House’s talking points. Remember, after the Comey firing, the president’s team initially said the FBI director had been too harsh in his handling of the Clinton case, which led to his dismissal. It’s a little late in the game for Trump to turn around and say the exact opposite.

    He can say Comey was too tough on Clinton or he was too quick to exonerate her, but when Trump makes both arguments, it’s a reminder not to take this nonsense too seriously.

    Trump’s tweet from this morning:

    Wow, looks like James Comey exonerated Hillary Clinton long before the investigation was over. A rigged system!

  203. says

    There are multiple reports indicating that Trump is growing increasingly irritated by his new Chief of Staff, General Kelly.

    From the Washington Post:

    […] Trump chafes at some of the retired Marine Corps general’s moves to restrict access to him since he took the job almost a month ago, said several people close to the president. They run counter to Trump’s love of spontaneity and brashness, prompting some Trump loyalists to derisively dub Kelly “the church lady” because they consider him strict and morally superior.

    “He’s having a very hard time,” one friend who spoke with Trump this week said of the president. “He doesn’t like the way the media’s handling him. He doesn’t like how Kelly’s handling him.” […]

    Trump sometimes defies – and even resents – the new structure. He has been especially sensitive to the way Kelly’s rigid structure is portrayed in the media and strives to disabuse people of the notion that he is being managed. The president continues to call business friends and outside advisers, including former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, from his personal phone when Kelly is not around, said people with knowledge of the calls. […]

    Also from the WP article: Trump was overhead “raising his voice with his chief of staff” in Phoenix. Trump was angry at Kelly “for trying to restrict outside friends from having direct access to him.”

  204. says

    Kris Kobach should take a break, or, preferably, a very long time-out. He is spreading way too much anti-immigrant nonsense.

    Kobach is the infamous Secretary of State in Kansas: he is infamous for trying to enforce various voter-restriction schemes that were so egregiously bigoted that the courts slapped him down at least three times. Kobach is still Kansas Secretary of State, and he is running for governor of that state, … and he is running Trump’s farcical voting commission that intends to prove Trump was right when he claimed that three million illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton.

    Now, Kobach has another job, as reported by the Kansas City Star:

    Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is now a regular columnist on the far-right news site run by President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist.

    Kobach … published his first article for in June — a piece that tied refugees to terrorism. He has published six more pieces since then and more are on the horizon.

    So, yeah, Kobach is now a regular contributor to Breitbart. His editorials include a link to his campaign-for-governor website.

    Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka went back to Breitbart after leaving the White House. Kobach is swimming in both swamps.

  205. says

    John McCain dissed Trump (and Congressional Republicans) more thoroughly than usual in an editorial piece he wrote for the Washington Post. Here are some excerpts:

    Congress will return from recess next week facing continued gridlock as we lurch from one self-created crisis to another. We are proving inadequate not only to our most difficult problems but also to routine duties. Our national political campaigns never stop. We seem convinced that majorities exist to impose their will with few concessions and that minorities exist to prevent the party in power from doing anything important.

    That’s not how we were meant to govern. Our entire system of government — with its checks and balances, its bicameral Congress, its protections of the rights of the minority — was designed for compromise. It seldom works smoothly or speedily. It was never expected to. […]

    Congress must govern with a president who has no experience of public office, is often poorly informed and can be impulsive in his speech and conduct.

    We must respect his authority and constitutional responsibilities. We must, where we can, cooperate with him. But we are not his subordinates. We don’t answer to him. We answer to the American people. We must be diligent in discharging our responsibility to serve as a check on his power. And we should value our identity as members of Congress more than our partisan affiliation. […]

  206. says

    Muslims in Texas did the right thing.

    While Joel Osteen needed the media to shame him into opening his megachurch for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, the Muslims in Texas didn’t need any prodding. They quickly jumped into action by opening mosques across the Houston area, handing out supplies to those in need and raising money for the victims.

    Mustafaa Carroll, the executive director of the Houston chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, explained to me, “Over 25 mosques in the Houston area have opened their doors to those seeking shelter from this deadly storm.”

    Beyond that over 100 young Muslim Texans who are part of Muslim Youth USA, together with 40 more from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, took to the streets volunteering to help their fellow Americans in need. These young Muslims handed out food, water, and other supplies to their fellow residents of the Lone Star State, while some used their personal boats to help rescue those stranded.

    And it’s not just Muslims in the Houston area who are mobilizing to help their fellow Texans. As Alia Salem, a leader in the Dallas-Forth Worth Muslim community, noted, “Muslims in the Dallas area mobilized quickly for volunteer training and donation collecting.” Salem explained, “Over 300 volunteers showed up at the Islamic Center in Dallas for training with Islamic Relief with only a few hours’ notice, and five Dallas-area mosques immediately started a collection to help those people in need.”

    These actions represent the best of America and the best of Islam. But I’m not writing this article in any way to suggest that Muslims are the only ones helping the victims of Hurricane Harvey. It’s truly been an all-hands-on-deck mentality with people of all backgrounds lending a helping hand. Countless churches have opened their doors and provided much needed relief for those fleeing the storm. Two Jewish summer camps in the area of the floods have opened their doors to people evacuating their homes. And the list goes on of people of other faiths or no faith helping out people who have lost in some cases everything to this devastating hurricane. […]

    In January, two Texas mosques were set on fire in incidents the police have deemed to be arson, one of these fires occurring within hours of Donald Trump signing his original Muslim ban executive order. Arrests in both incidents were made by the police.

    There has been a string of protests by armed right-wing anti-Muslim bigots surrounding Texas-area mosques with the purpose to bully and intimidate the local Muslim population. The most recent in June saw several hundred anti-Muslim activists take part in a nationwide effort by the vile anti-Muslim group ACT for America. […]


  207. says

    From rightwing asshat, Mike Cernovich:

    […] I’d heard from people that Trump is on house arrest. I thought ‘oh c’mon, the President of the United States, that’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard’, but I kept digging into it and I kept hearing the same thing over and over again and then, of course, John Bolton wrote his column for National Review and he’s begging people to retweet it, he said ‘this is the only way the President is gonna see it,’ and I’ll say Alex, I don’t really understand, how can Trump not see who he wants to see? This is something I don’t really fully comprehend within the White House. I have talked to a lot of people, it’s a very weird situation. […]

    But my life is in danger, my life is in jeo… You can go look at that guy, and if you look at him, you can tell that he had a vacancy in his eyes, he had a very much a serial killer, very creepy, creepy vibe. And just being around him I felt like an evil, demonic kind of presence. And I looked him in the eye and I could tell this was not a human being. This was some kind of, I don’t know, a replicant, a demon, or something. And that just goes to show how dangerous it is for everybody who is actually doing real journalism.”

    Source is Breitbart News Daily, which Trump reads.

  208. says

    But my life is in danger, my life is in jeo… You can go look at that guy, and if you look at him, you can tell that he had a vacancy in his eyes, he had a very much a serial killer, very creepy, creepy vibe. And just being around him I felt like an evil, demonic kind of presence. And I looked him in the eye and I could tell this was not a human being. This was some kind of, I don’t know, a replicant, a demon, or something. And that just goes to show how dangerous it is for everybody who is actually doing real journalism.

    What?! What the fucking fuck? Honestly, what the hell even is this?

  209. says

    SC @464:

    What?! What the fucking fuck? Honestly, what the hell even is this?

    I would say that it is sound and fury signifying nothing, but Cernovich has a big following. So, I guess this is just a good example of how totally bonkers the people on the fringes of the rightwing are.

    Also a good example of the Dunning-Kruger effect, since, like Cernovich, a lot of these asshats think they are the ones “actually doing real journalism.”

  210. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 430.

    The Daily Beast’s reporting added that if Mueller wanted to bring charges related to tax law at some point in the future, he’d need approval from the Justice Department’s elite Tax Division. That could be a little tricky: “Trump hasn’t yet named his pick to run the division, which is a post that requires Senate confirmation.”

  211. says

    So, I guess this is just a good example of how totally bonkers the people on the fringes of the rightwing are.

    It’s so bonkers. I know they’ve needed to do it for a long time, but it’s urgent that Republicans say publicly that this stuff is just batshit. It’s very dangerous.

  212. says

    I hope this is a good sign. One of the attorneys general threatening to sue the federal government if Trump fails to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) by Sept. 5th has dropped out. I hope more people drop out of this ill-considered threat.

    Tennessee’s attorney general Herbert Slatery III is one of ten Republican attorneys general who who threatened to include DACA in a larger lawsuit in order to phase out the program, if Trump didn’t do so himself.

    Excerpt from Slatery’s letter of drop-outedness:

    There is a human element to this, however, that is not lost on me and should not be ignored.

    Many of the DACA recipients, some of whose records I reviewed, have outstanding accomplishments and laudable ambitions, which if achieved, will be of great benefit and service to our country. They have an appreciation for the opportunities afforded to them by our country.

    At this time, our Office has decided not to challenge DACA in the litigation, because we believe there is a better approach […]

    Meanwhile, Kris Kobach is claiming that some DACA recipients are gang members.

  213. blf says

    who wasn’t born in the US and so wouldn’t be eligible [to serve as President] in any case

    Whilst the individual in question would indeed not be eligible, “not born in the US” is not the precise reason. McCain, e.g., wasn’t born in the USA, nor was I, but both of us are eligible — we are both natural-born citizens. I have a document from the State Dept to prove it, despite being indisputbly born in a foreign county and (being a dual national) carrying multiple passports.

    I will not apologise for sounding or being annoyed here. This is birtherism, plain and simple, and I detest the claim by people who obviously don’t know what they are talking about that “natural born = born in States”.

  214. says

    “Mueller examining Trump’s draft letter firing FBI Director Comey”:

    Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is reviewing a letter drafted by President Trump and a top aide in the days before the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey laying out in detail why the president wanted to get rid of the country’s top law enforcement official, according to people familiar with the Mueller probe.

    The multi-page* letter enumerated Trump’s long-simmering complaints with Comey, according to people familiar with it, including Trump’s frustration that Comey was unwilling to say publicly that Trump was not personally under investigation in the FBI’s inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

    Trump drafted the letter with senior policy adviser Stephen Miller on an early-May weekend visit to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., and then shared it with senior aides during an Oval Office meeting the day before the firing, according to people familiar with the discussions.

    …The contents of the letter were described in detail by several people who had read versions of it.

    The letter documents what the White House eventually acknowledged in the days after Comey’s termination — that Trump had already decided to let the FBI director go before he solicited recommendations from Sessions and Rosenstein….

    * LOL.

  215. says

    I will not apologise for sounding or being annoyed here. This is birtherism, plain and simple,

    OMG, don’t be ridiculous and calm the fuck down. Obviously, I meant that he was born outside the US and isn’t a “natural-born citizen.”

  216. says

    …and isn’t a “natural-born citizen.”

    And I put this in quotes because I think it’s a stupid criterion. Alexander Hamilton wasn’t a “natural-born citizen.” Trump is. But the requirement is a fact.

  217. says

    I have a suggestion. I can’t imagine I’m the first to come up with it. You know how Texas has such power over the content of textbooks because it’s such a huge state? Why don’t the reasonable, fact-based states group together to order textbooks and outnumber them?

  218. consciousness razor says


    It’s not so clear which ones are reasonable and fact-based, but it’s a decent idea. I’d be even happier if they (or the federal government) made their own publisher, rather than ordering them from a for-profit corporation.

  219. says

    Tashiliciously Shriked @ 440 – It’s worth noting that the “other officer” was a supervisor protecting his own. I don’t think these assholes understand how traumatic being arrested and cuffed really is for a law abiding citizen that’s done nothing wrong. I’ve had it happen to me and I’ll never forget it.

    The worst part is, this gets attention because she’s white. This sort of abuse of civil liberties goes on EVERY DAY but gets ignored by the media and twitterverse because it’s poor brown people getting arrested.

  220. se habla espol says

    More on the University of Utah nurse story, from KUTV, Salt Lake City, 10 PM news:
    Two SLCPD officers have been suspended—the other one is not identified.
    The SLC Mayor called the nurse and apologized.
    The Salt Lake County DA called the mayor and the SLCPD chief—an investigation is started. Per Utah practice, a different PD is handling it.
    The SLCPD chief also called the nurse. One or the other nurse-caller asked for her advice on fixing the problem for the future.

    The sprad of the video has been a major embarrassment to SLC—wonder why.

  221. se habla espol says

    The offering to Tpyos should be obvious.

    The Wife finds the story interesting. She got her nursing degree from the University of Utah, and spent a lot of time working in the predecessor of the ER where the event happened. Her first husband was a crooked cop, but not in SLCPD. Coincidences get strange.

  222. says

    This story and these people are incredible.

    “Samim Bigzad: UK Government’s attempt to deport Afghan asylum seeker fails after pilot refuses to take off”:

    The deportation of a young Afghan man refused asylum by the Government has been dramatically stayed after the pilot of the plane he was supposed to be removed on refused to take off.

    Samim Bigzad’s friends and family feared their efforts to prevent him being forced back to Kabul had failed when he was detained and booked on commercial flight to Afghanistan via Istanbul.

    The 22-year-old’s cousin previously told The Independent he feared he would be killed in the city he fled two years ago after being threatened with beheading by the Taliban.

    More than 3,000 people had signed a petition appealing for the deportation to be delayed so Mr Bigzad’s asylum claim could be reviewed.

    Campaigners travelled to Heathrow Airport to talk to unwitting passengers due to be on the same Turkish Airlines flight, in the hope they would raise objections to crew members.

    Bridget Chapman, who organised the trip, said activists “very quietly” approached tourists at the check-in gate to explain their flight was being used to forcibly deport Mr Bigzad.

    “We asked people to do whatever they were comfortable with raising it with airline staff,” she told The Independent.

    “Airport security asked us to stop after a while, but by that point most people had boarded.”…

  223. says

    “Brazil abolishes huge Amazon reserve in ‘biggest attack’ in 50 years”:

    The Brazilian president Michel Temer has abolished an Amazonian reserve the size of Denmark, prompting concerns of an influx of mineral companies, road-builders and workers into the species-rich forest.

    The dissolution of the Renca reserve – which spans 46,000 sq km on the border of the Amapa and Para states – was described by one opposition senator Randolfe Rodrigues of the Sustainability Network party, as the “biggest attack on the Amazon of the last 50 years”.

    Conservationists said it will open the door for mining companies to enter Renca – the Portuguese acronym for the National Reserve of Copper and Associates – which was set up in 1984 and encompasses nine protected areas.

    More than 20 domestic and multinational firms have expressed an interest in the region which is thought to contain deposits of gold, copper, tantalum, iron ore, nickel and manganese.

    Since plotting the impeachment of his running mate Dilma Rousseff last year, Temer has moved rapidly to unravel environmental protections to please the powerful agricultural and mining lobbies. The only pause in this policy came earlier this year when Temer vetoed a bill that would have opened up swathes of forest to development. At the time, the president said he was responding to an appeal on Twitter by the supermodel, Gisele Bündchen.

    But Temer has since approved several similar measures, including the latest one this week, which prompted an angry response from Bündchen. “SHAME! We are auctioning off our Amazon! We can’t destroy our protected areas for private interests,” she tweeted.

  224. says

    “Report: ‘Anti-protester’ bills gain traction in state legislatures”:

    Republican legislators in 20 U.S. statehouses have proposed — and six legislatures approved — new restrictions on the right to assemble and protest so far this year, according to a new report by the Democrat-aligned State Innovation Exchange.

    “These bills would create a new set of crimes, significantly harsher penalties, and costly fines that could apply broadly to anyone — whether they are supporters of the president, members of the Tea Party, or just concerned parents speaking out at a school board meeting,” according to an advance copy of the report. SiX works to advance progressive policies at the state level and calls the wave of bills a “new and disturbing trend.”

    “Given this passage rate, there is every reason to think we will see more of these efforts in 2018,” said the report.

    Among the states approving what SiX calls “anti-protester” legislation were Arkansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Georgia and South Dakota….

    While SiX hopes to advance more progressive policy, its challenges are significant, beginning with the numbers.

    The Democratic Party holds only 16 governorships and lost more than 900 state legislative seats during the Obama presidency. Republicans now control the governor’s mansion and both legislative chambers in 25 states, while Democrats control all branches in five.