Discuss: Political Madness All the Time


Lynna is your curator. Oh god the madness will never end.

(Previous thread)

Comments

  1. says

    A new lawsuit has been filed against the Education Department, thanks in large part to actions by Education Secretary Betsy Devos:

    Two women who claim they were defrauded by a for-profit college have sued the Education Department and a private loan servicer in a case their attorneys say could provide a new legal remedy for tens of thousands of students frustrated with the department’s inaction on claims seeking loan forgiveness.

    [The Education Department] begins work this week rewriting Obama administration rules designed to boost protections for students defrauded by their schools. […]

    Attorneys for the two students say the new approach is necessary because Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has stalled consideration of tens of thousands of similar claims from borrowers. […]

    “People’s rights not to pay for defective products is well established in law, so whatever the Department of Education is or is not doing, the legal rights of borrowers continue to exist and are enforceable against the government just as they are against private parties,” said Toby Merill, a litigator at Harvard University’s Project on Predatory Student Lending, which represents defrauded students.

    “Yvette and Tina deserve to be able to move on with their lives, and because it’s clear that the department doesn’t have any intention for doing anything for cheated students, it’s necessary to bypass them and go straight to the court for their fair hearing,” she added.

    Abby Shafroth, an attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, said borrowers are turning to the courts because nothing else is working.

    “They’ve come to this approach because all other avenues have failed,” Shafroth said. “At a certain point there has to be another way, the department cannot say ‘You have to use our process and not provide a process.’ ” […]

    Talking Points Memo link

  2. says

    “Roy Moore supporter Brandon Moseley of @ALReporter on CNN just now compared sexual touching of a 14-year old to stealing a lawnmower, stressing it was a misdemeanor.”

    This is disgusting and also false when applied to the Moore case – as the WaPo article said quite clearly: “The law then and now also includes a section on enticing a child younger than 16 to enter a home with the purpose of proposing sexual intercourse or fondling of sexual and genital parts. That is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.”

  3. says

    Another woman is accusing Roy Moore of sexually assaulting her when she was a minor:

    NEW YORK, NY (WBRC) –

    Attorney Gloria Allred is scheduled to hold a press conference with a woman accusing embattled GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual assault. […]

    According to a press release from Allred’s office, the woman says Moore sexually assaulted her when she was a minor.

    “The new accuser wishes to state what she alleges Roy Moore did to her without her consent,” Allred’s statement said.

    Washington Examiner link

  4. says

    Here’s an upcoming court case that we should keep our eye on:

    “Crisis pregnancy centers” are anti-abortion organizations that often masquerade as reproductive health clinics in order to lure pregnant people away from clinics that will provide them with abortion care.

    As the California legislature determined in a law intended to prevent these centers from deceiving people, “CPCs ‘pose as full-service women’s health clinics, but aim to discourage and prevent women from seeking abortions’ in order to fulfill their goal of ‘interfer[ing] with women’s ability to be fully informed and exercise their reproductive rights.’”

    The fate of this law will now be decided by the Supreme Court. The Court announced Monday that it will hear NIFLA v. Becerra, which claims that California’s law violates the First Amendment’s free speech guarantee.

    The law has two relevant parts. It requires state-licensed facilities that provide certain health or counseling services to post a notice informing patients that “California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women,” as well as a phone number that patients can call to inquire about these services. Meanwhile, it requires unlicensed facilities to display a notice that “this facility is not licensed as a medical facility by the State of California and has no licensed medical provider who provides or directly supervises the provision of services.”

    The plaintiffs are anti-abortion groups […] who claim that the law requires them to convey a message that they would prefer not to convey,[…] It is a surprisingly difficult case, in large part because of past cases involving laws intended to discourage abortion. […]

    https://thinkprogress.org/supreme-court-deceptive-cpc-97bb4f8f133b/

  5. says

    Oh, FFS.

    A group of 53 Alabama pastors has signed onto a letter urging Alabamians to vote for Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore after the allegations of sexual misconduct were leveled against him.

    The letter, published on AL.com and posted on Moore’s wife’s Facebook page, praises the candidate for his “immovable convictions for Biblical principles” and says he suffered “persecution” for his faith by opposing gay marriage as Alabama’s chief justice.

    “For decades, Roy Moore has been an immovable rock in the culture wars – a bold defender of the ‘little guy,’ a just judge to those who came before his court, a warrior for the unborn child, defender of the sanctity of marriage, and a champion for religious liberty,” the letter reads. […]

    “We are ready to join the fight and send a bold message to Washington,” the letter reads. “Dishonesty, fear of man, and immorality are an affront to our convictions and our Savior and we won’t put up with it any longer.” […]

    The Hill link

  6. says

    Follow-up to comment 3 and to SC’s comment 6. The Hill link.

    […] The woman, Beverly Young Nelson, said she was sexually assaulted by Moore when she was 15 and 16. […]

    During the news conference, Allred said Nelson had kept the allegations a secret because she “feared” Moore, who was serving as a defense attorney in Etowah County, Ala.

    Nelson said Moore wrote in her yearbook saying: “To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore, D.A.” […]

    Nelson told her sister and mother about the encounters at the time. A bit later, she told her soon-to-be husband. There is corroboration.

    Her lawyer said that Nelson is not pursuing civil or other litigation. She is asking for a hearing, during which she can testify under oath.

  7. says

    Follow-up to comment 7.

    […] “Mr. Moore attacked me when I was a child. I did nothing to deserve this sexual attack. I was frightened by his position, by his power,” Nelson said.

    Nelson said Moore offered her a ride home from work, then attempted to force her to have sex with him, leaving bruises on her neck as she struggled to free herself and refusing to stop when she asked.

    “I tried to open my car door to leave, but he reached over and he locked it so I could not get out. I tried fighting him off while yelling at him to stop. But instead of stopping, he began squeezing my neck, attempting to force my head onto his crotch. I continued to struggle. I was determined that I was not going to allow him to force me to have sex with him,” Nelson said. “I was terrified. He was also trying to pull my shirt off. I thought that he was going to rape me.”

    Moore eventually stopped, Nelson said. She said he told her no one would believe her if she shared her story.

    “He said, you’re just a child, and he said, I am the district attorney of Etowah County, and if you tell anyone about this, no one will ever believe you,” she said. […]

    Talking Points Memo link

  8. says

    Roy Moore’s response, as relayed by his campaign chairman:

    “Gloria Allred is a sensationalist leading a witch hunt, and she is only around to create a spectacle. Allred was the attorney who claims credit for giving us Roe v. Wade which has resulted in the murder of tens of millions of unborn babies,” Moore campaign chairman Bill Armistead said in a statement released before Allred’s press conference began. “We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: Judge Moore is an innocent man and has never had any sexual misconduct with anyone.”

  9. says

    A correction to comment 7. Nelson did not tell her sister and mother right away. She kept the sexual assault secret because she feared Roy Moore. She thought he would do something to her or to her family.

  10. says

    While Alabama Republicans continue to back Roy Moore, other Republicans are urging that Moore withdraw from the Senate race, or that he face some consequences:

    […] In a statement, Gardner [National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory Gardner] said Moore is “unfit to serve in the United States Senate and he should not run for office.”

    “If he refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him, because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate,” Gardner said.

    Gardner said the women accusing Moore of sexually pursuing them while he was in his early 30s and they were teenagers “spoke with courage and truth.” […]

    Link

  11. says

    Follow-up to comment 10.

    […] Nelson told her younger sister about the attack two years later, told her husband before they were married, and also told her mother. She and her husband were Trump supporters, she says, and her decision to come forward “has nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats.” Rather, it “has everything to do with Mr. Moore’s sexual assault when I was a teenager.” She came forward because of the courage of other women in coming forward first, showing her that she wasn’t Moore’s only victim. […]

    Daily Kos link

  12. blf says

    France24 is saying that in an interview with Fethullah Gülen in July, he said he had been informed of an apparent bribe paid by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law to Flynn’s company, Exclusive: US-exiled cleric Gülen says he knew about Turkey’s ‘Flynn bribes’ (I’ve corrected the spelling of the surnames Gülen and Erdoğan):

    In an exclusive interview with FRANCE 24 in July, US-exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen said he had been informed of an alleged “bribe” meeting between ex-US national security adviser Michael Flynn and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law.
    […]
    In July, FRANCE 24’s Philip Crowther and Leela Jacinto met with the wanted Turkish cleric who told them that he had been informed of Flynn’s meetings with Turkish officials.

    “I learned about the report of that meeting, that Erdoğan’s son-in-law met with Flynn and they paid his company a considerable sum of money,” Gülen said. “Indeed for a person like Flynn, who served in high positions, who comes from the military and served in respectable positions, for him to accept such money — which might be considered a form of bribery — I don’t think it’s befitting for a person of his stature.”

    […]

    There is a video at the link.

    Neither the son-in-law nor the company is named in the report, and it is unclear if France24 ever followed-up on this. The company is presumably Flynn Intel Group.

    Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak is reported to have been involved in shady tax evasion maneuvers in Malta, Erdoğan’s son-in-law set up Malta accounts to avoid millions in tax (Erdoğan’s surname corrected):

    In 2012 the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, helped set up eight companies in Malta in a bid to avoid paying millions of dollars in taxes for his company

    In 2012 the son-in-law of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Berat Albayrak, helped set up eight companies in Malta in a bid to avoid paying millions of dollars in taxes for his company — Turkey’s massive energy, textile and construction group conglomerate Çalık Holding, a report in the Malta Files has shown.

    The Romanian Centre for Investigative Journalism and The Black Sea included the report within the Malta Files, which were published yesterday [21-May-2017] by the European Investigative Collaborations in 13 countries, […] which show how Malta works as a base for tax avoidance inside the EU.

    [… many details …]

    Despite having no background or experience in politics, Albayrak has led the Turkish Energy Ministry since November 2015. Many now believe that Erdoğan is grooming Albayrak as his successor. Albayrak joined Erdoğan on his recent visit to the US where the pair were filmed together outside the Turkish Embassy in Washington, looking at their security detail beat up peaceful protesters.

    Mr Albayrak is married to Esra Erdoğan (the older daughter). The younger daughter is Sümeyye Erdoğan, who is married to Selçuk Bayraktar. Mr Bayraktar seems to keep himself out of the news (at least in English). Which of those two men is the “Erdoğan son-in-law”, Gülen meant is unclear, albeit the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Albayrak seems probable.

    As an aside, Malta has come up before, as a place where Joseph Mifsud has claimed especial expertise. The Grauniad (Joseph Mifsud: more questions than answers about mystery professor linked to Russia) notes Mifsud is a Malta native, so that is perhaps to be expected.

  13. KG says

    SC@491, Lynna, OM@498,

    A key point about the TPP is that it excluded China. Undoubtedly it had the aim SC points out, of allowing corporations to sue governments for “compensation” for loss of expected profits as a result of regulatory changes – but it also had a geostrategic aim: to bind as many of China’s neighbours as possible into a pact with the USA. I’m currently reading Jude Woodward’s The US vs China: Asia’s New Cold War?. Woodward’s central argument is that China’s booming economy has caused most of its neighbours to reorient their own economies, and their foreign policy, toward China and away from the USA. Most of them still want to keep good relations with the USA, but they won’t be drawn into the policy pf “containing” China, promoted by Obama (and Clinton, when she was Secretary of State). The American foreign policy establishment has been promoting a picture of China as an aggressive power in a military sense, although there’s actually scant evidence of this: since China is on course to overtake the USA as the world’s largest economy decades before it could even think about matching it militarily, it makes no sense for China to militarise competition for influence between the two. It will be interesting to see if any replacement for TPP negotiated by the other states involved includes China.

  14. says

    Unreal – “The Secret Correspondence Between Donald Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks”:

    …The messages, obtained by The Atlantic, were also turned over by Trump Jr.’s lawyers to congressional investigators. They are part of a long—and largely one-sided—correspondence between WikiLeaks and the president’s son that continued until at least July 2017. The messages show WikiLeaks, a radical transparency organization that the American intelligence community believes was chosen by the Russian government to disseminate the information it had hacked, actively soliciting Trump Jr.’s cooperation. WikiLeaks made a series of increasingly bold requests, including asking for Trump’s tax returns, urging the Trump campaign on Election Day to reject the results of the election as rigged, and requesting that the president-elect tell Australia to appoint Julian Assange ambassador to the United States.

    After [a DM sent on October 14, 2016, after which Jr. tweeted out the link Assange had sent him and the same day “Pence denies Trump camp in cahoots with WikiLeaks” was published], Trump Jr. ceased to respond to WikiLeaks’s direct messages, but WikiLeaks escalated its requests.

    “Hey Don. We have an unusual idea,” WikiLeaks wrote on October 21, 2016. “Leak us one or more of your father’s tax returns.” WikiLeaks then laid out three reasons why this would benefit both the Trumps and WikiLeaks….

    It is the third reason, though, WikiLeaks wrote, that “is the real kicker.” “If we publish them it will dramatically improve the perception of our impartiality,” WikiLeaks explained. “That means that the vast amount of stuff that we are publishing on Clinton will have much higher impact, because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source.” It then provided an email address and link where the Trump campaign could send the tax returns, and adds, “The same for any other negative stuff (documents, recordings) that you think has a decent chance of coming out. Let us put it out.”

    Trump Jr. did not respond to this message.

    WikiLeaks didn’t write again until Election Day, November 8, 2016. “Hi Don if your father ‘loses’ we think it is much more interesting if he DOES NOT conceed [sic] and spends time CHALLENGING the media and other types of rigging that occurred—as he has implied that he might do,” WikiLeaks wrote at 6:35pm, when the idea that Clinton would win was still the prevailing conventional wisdom….

    In the winter and spring, WikiLeaks went largely silent, only occasionally sending Trump Jr. links. But on July 11, 2017, three days after The New York Times broke the story about Trump Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with connections to Russia’s powerful prosecutor general, WikiLeaks got in touch again.

    “Hi Don. Sorry to hear about your problems,” WikiLeaks wrote. “We have an idea that may help a little. We are VERY interested in confidentially obtaining and publishing a copy of the email(s) cited in the New York Times today,” citing a reference in the paper to emails Trump Jr had exchanged with Rob Goldstone, a publicist who had helped set up the meeting. “We think this is strongly in your interest,” WikiLeaks went on.

  15. blf says

    KG@15, A similar thought had occurred to me. Ms Caruana Galizia was pursuing quite a number of different corruptions in Malta, and it’s not inconceivable she, or her son Matthew, a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, had encountered something linked-to or involving Mifsud. She had found Russian-connected corruptions, for example, from The Economist (The death of a crusading journalist rocks Malta):

    Last year [her blog] Running Commentary revealed that [Malta PM Joseph] Muscat’s chief of staff and one of his ministers had Panama-registered companies and trusts in New Zealand. Ms Caruana Galizia claimed, and they denied, that the offshore vehicles received kickbacks from Russians who had bought Maltese passports. […]

    A reader’s comment here (University investigated Joe Mifsud for financial irregularities) claims:

    […] BBC discovered that both Trump’s campaign team and The Leave campaign had used the services of Cambridge Analytica, and Daphne Caruana Galizia said she had discovered that the MLP[] had used its services as well in 2013. Now American investigators have discovered that one of the links between the Trump campaign team and Russian authorities is a mysterious Maltese professor who bragged of his numerous Russian contacts. The same professor had popped up in Muscat’s 2013 electoral campaign. […]

    That same blog also notes Mifsud keeps popping up in a dubious fashion in Maltese affairs (The mystery professor), which would seem to make it quite likely she was aware of him.

    Her own blog Running Commentary does mention a number of people with the surname Mifsud, but it’s not clear if any of them are the mystery professor. (I have the impression Mifsud is a rather common Maltese name.)

    However, as you say, drawing a link to her assassination is very speculative. And has a whiff of paranoid conspiracy theory about it.

      † MLP = Malta’s ruling party, led by PM Joseph Muscat.

  16. says

    “Locals Were Troubled by Roy Moore’s Interactions with Teen Girls at the Gadsden Mall”:

    …This past weekend, I spoke or messaged with more than a dozen people—including a major political figure in the state—who told me that they had heard, over the years, that Moore had been banned from the mall because he repeatedly badgered teen-age girls. Some say that they heard this at the time, others in the years since. These people include five members of the local legal community, two cops who worked in the town, several people who hung out at the mall in the early eighties, and a number of former mall employees.

    Gadsden’s current law-enforcement community could not confirm the existence of a mall ban on Moore. But two officers I spoke to this weekend, both of whom asked to remain unnamed, told me that they have long heard stories about Moore and the mall. “The general knowledge at the time when I moved here was that this guy is a lawyer cruising the mall for high-school dates,” one of the officers said….

  17. says

    Another, from AL.com – “Gadsden locals say Moore’s predatory behavior at mall, restaurants not a secret”:

    Roy Moore’s penchant for flirting with teen girls was “common knowledge” and “not a big secret” around Gadsden, according to some area residents.

    …People who lived in Etowah County during that time have said Moore’s flirting with and dating much younger women and girls was no secret.

    “These stories have been going around this town for 30 years,” said Blake Usry, who grew up in the area and lives in Gadsden. “Nobody could believe they hadn’t come out yet.”

    Usry, a traveling nurse, said he knew several of the girls that Moore tried to flirt with.

    “It’s not a big secret in this town about Roy Moore,” he said. “That’s why it’s sort of frustrating to watch” the public disbelieve the women who have come forward, he said.

    Five other current and former Etowah County residents also spoke to AL.com with similar accounts.

    “Him liking and dating young girls was never a secret in Gadsden when we were all in high school,” said Sheryl Porter. “In our neighborhoods up by Noccalula Falls we heard it all the time. Even people at the courthouse know it was a well-known secret.

    “It’s just sad how these girls (who accused Moore) are getting hammered and called liars, especially Leigh (Corfman).”

  18. blf says

    [Gloria] Allred was in law school when Roe v. Wade was decided.

    There are photographs of an individual identified as Norma McCorvey (Roe)’s attorney “Gloria Allred” (Norma McCorvey, ‘Roe’ in Roe v Wade case legalizing abortion, dies aged 69 and January 22, 1973: In ‘Roe v. Wade,’ the Supreme Court Legalizes Abortion in All Fifty States). However, those photographs are dated to 1989, not 1973, and are presumably related to the 1989 attempt to overturn the decision (Supreme Court, 5–4, Narrowing Roe v. Wade, Upholds sharp state limits on abortions).

    The 1989 “Gloria Allred” (more precisely, Gloria Rachel Allred) appears to be the same person Roy Moore is bellowing about. Ms McCorvey’s attorneys in 1973 were Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington.

  19. blf says

    Catalan independence: EU experts detect rise in pro-Kremlin false claims (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    Fake news-debunking East Stratcom unit saw upsurge in false information published in Russian and Spanish about independence referendum
    […]
    In the run-up to and aftermath of the bitterly contested Catalan independence referendum, EU officials have seen an increase in false information published in Russian and Spanish.

    World powers prepare for war in Europe, proclaimed the headline of the Russian-language site Polit Ekspert on the day of the Catalan parliament’s declaration of independence. A Moldovan politician, Bogdan Ţîrdea, claimed in a Facebook post: EU officials supported the violence in Catalonia.

    An article for the Kremlin-backed news agency Sputnik about a minor secessionist appeal on the Balearic Islands was given the headline Independence movements: a contagious timebomb in a state that does not listen.

    […]

    The findings emerged after Spain’s foreign minister, Alfonso Dastis, said intelligence suggested Russian hackers were targeting the European Union.

    […]

    Defence Minister Dolores de Cospedal said it was clear that a lot the messaging on social media around the Catalan crisis came from Russian territory, though a definitive link to the government had not been proved.

    […]

    Ben Nimmo, an expert in disinformation at the Atlantic Council, told the Guardian that “the Russian propaganda machine’s approach to the Catalan question varied”, with the Kremlin-backed news agency Sputnik taking a far more outspoken editorial line than the TV station RT.

    Sputnik put “an astonishing emphasis” on the tweets of the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in its reporting before the independence vote, he said. […]

    “Until September this year {Assange} had never tweeted on Catalonia. The decision to give him that prominence can’t be justified on his expertise, so the only logical reason for them to give him such prominence is because he was criticising Spain,” Nimmo said.

    RT was “a lot more balanced than Sputnik on Catalonia”, Nimmo said, which suggested there had been no central direction on how to treat the story. […]

    […]

    EU experts who monitor Russia’s domestic media have noted the comparisons that state TV draws between Catalonia and Crimea, annexed by Vladimir Putin in 2014. Is Spain repeating Ukraine’s mistakes? asked a guest on Rossiya 1. Russian commentators have also described the wealthy Catalan region as Europe’s Donbass, arguing that for the first time since 1945 a real civil war and real violence could break out.

    The coverage on Russian state TV dwells on the failures of Europe’s democracy, a message that is likely to intensify ahead of the Russia presidential election in March 2018, Nimmo believes. “The one thing that Putin wants to avoid is a repeat of the street protests in 2012, so they are pushing out this argument now that there is no such thing as real democracy.”

    […]

  20. says

    [a DM sent on October 14, 2016, after which Jr. tweeted out the link Assange had sent him and the same day “Pence denies Trump camp in cahoots with WikiLeaks” was published]

    Sorry – I have the dates wrong and it was Trump Sr. who tweeted it (which is even more inculpatory). The correct details are in the article.

  21. says

    “Donald Trump Jr. made senior Trump campaign staff, including Kushner and Bannon, aware that he was in touch with WikiLeaks”:

    President Donald Trump’s son told high-level Trump campaign officials, including Kellyanne Conway and Jared Kushner, that the self-described transparency organization WikiLeaks had made contact with him in September 2016.

    “A PAC run anti-Trump site putintrump.org is about to launch,” Wikileaks wrote, according to a series of private messages obtained by The Atlantic and published on Monday.

    “The PAC is a recycled pro-Iraq war PAC,” WikiLeaks continued. “We have guessed the password. It is ‘putintrump.’ See ‘About’ for who is behind it. Any comments?”

    Trump Jr. replied: “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around. Thanks.”

    Trump Jr. then passed along WikiLeaks’ message to high-level campaign officials, including his brother-in-law and senior campaign adviser Jared Kushner; campaign manager Kellyanne Conway; digital director Brad Parscale; and senior strategist Steve Bannon, a source familiar with the congressional investigations into Russia’s election interference told The Atlantic….

  22. blf says

    ‘Tobacco at a cancer summit’: Trump coal push savaged at climate conference:

    […]
    The Trump team was heckled and interrupted by a protest song at the UN’s climate change summit in Bonn on Monday after using its only official appearance to say fossil fuels were vital to reducing poverty around the world and to saving jobs in the US.

    […]

    “Promoting coal at a climate summit is like promoting tobacco at a cancer summit,” said Michael Bloomberg, […] UN special envoy for cities and climate change.

    Benson Kibiti, from the Kenya Climate Working Group, said: “More coal will entrench poverty.”

    When questioned, just one of the four energy executives Trump’s team chose to speak at the event expressed support for his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement.

    […]

    The appearance of an executive from Peabody Energy, the US’s biggest coal miner, was particularly provocative. In 2016, the Guardian revealed the company had funded at least two dozen groups that cast doubt on manmade climate change and oppose environment regulations.

    […]

    Another panellist, Barry Worthington, executive director of the United States Energy Association, illustrated his points in favour of fossil fuels using future energy projections from ExxonMobil, BP and Statoil. He said US energy companies were already cutting carbon and was the only panellist to back Trump’s Paris pullout, saying: Frankly, we don’t need the Paris plan.

    […]

    Andrew Steer, CEO of the World Resources Institute, said the US event was irrelevant: “It is a total distraction. It will not change the overwhelming momentum away from coal. The closing of coal plants in the US has accelerated since Trump was elected. It’s King Canute trying to hold back the tide.”

    Earlier on Monday in Bonn, the US’s neighbours Canada and Mexico further isolated Washington by announcing a new partnership with the 15 US states that have pledged strong climate action. Canada’s environment minister, Catherine McKenna, and her Mexican counterpart, Rodolfo Lacy, joined with the governors of Washington state and California, Jay Inslee and Jerry Brown, to form a group that will focus on phasing out coal power and boosting clean power and transport.

    “We are all in this together,” said McKenna. “The countries that move forward and realise there is a $30tn opportunity will be creating clean jobs and growing their economy.”

    […]

    I believe this is a video of the protest song.

  23. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Chuck Rosenberg, a lawyer who knows and worked with Jim Comey, and recently retired from the DEA, is on Rachael Maddow. I’ll post a link if one comes available.

  24. says

    Used-book shopping today, I came across a 2009 book by Michelle Malkin with the actual title Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies. Really – this exists.

  25. says

    Hahaha – “GOP megadonor Adelson publicly breaks with Bannon”:

    Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, the GOP’s most prominent megadonor, is publicly breaking with former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon over his efforts to oust Republican incumbents in 2018.

    “The Adelsons will not be supporting Steve Bannon’s efforts,” said Andy Abboud, an Adelson spokesman. “They are supporting Mitch McConnell 100 percent. For anyone to infer anything otherwise is wrong.”

    The public pronouncement comes about a month after Adelson met with Bannon in Washington….

  26. says

    KG:

    Undoubtedly it had the aim SC points out, of allowing corporations to sue governments for “compensation” for loss of expected profits as a result of regulatory changes – but it also had a geostrategic aim:…

    I’m still befuddled by Obama’s pushing it in 2015/16. It wasn’t just harmful; the Democratic grassroots and progressive intellectuals openly objected to it. Bernie Sanders published an oped in early July 2016 about the Democratic platform, saying in part:

    If both Clinton and I agree that the TPP should not get to the floor of Congress this year, it’s hard to understand why an amendment saying so would not be overwhelmingly passed.

    Let’s be clear: The trade agreement is opposed by virtually the entire grassroots base of the Democratic Party.

    Every trade union in this country is strongly opposed to the pact. They understand that this agreement will make it easier for corporations to throw American workers out on the street and move factories to Vietnam, where workers are paid 65 cents an hour.

    Virtually every major environmental group is opposed to the TPP because they understand that it will make it easier for the biggest polluters in the world to continue despoiling our planet.

    Major religious groups are opposed because they understand that it will reward some of the biggest human-rights violators in the world.

    Doctors Without Borders is strongly opposed to this agreement because its members understand that it would increase prescription-drug prices for some of the most desperate people in the world by making it harder to access generic drugs.

    This agreement also threatens our democracy. We cannot give multinational corporations the ability to challenge our nation’s labor and environmental laws simply because they might reduce expected future profits through the very flawed Investor State Dispute Settlement system. That would undermine the democratic values that our country was founded on.

    During the coming days and weeks our campaign* will be reaching out to grassroots America to do all that we can to oppose the TPP and make sure that it doesn’t get passed.

    It seems like so many liberal pundits have forgotten about both the problems with the process and substance of the TPP and its plain unpopularity with the Democratic base, in the months leading up to an election. If Obama had been less concerned with “containing” China and more concerned with…anything he professed to care about, this wouldn’t have been such a disaster.

    * Yes, his campaign. In July. In this moment he was selfish, shortsighted, reckless, and stupidly doctrinaire. But his objections to the TPP were genuine and substantive.

  27. says

    November 10, 1939:

    “Tonight an estimated million Britons are tuning in to English-language Nazi propaganda from ‘Germany Calling’, radio station in Hamburg.”

    “People know ‘Germany Calling’ is exaggerated & often lies, but it gives information on British sea & air losses- suppressed by UK government.”

  28. KG says

    News from the Yoo Kay:
    1) The EU (Withdrawal) Bill returns to the Commons today, with literally hundreds of amendments to be discussed – many put down by Tory MPs. The lazy and ignorant David Davis, the minister in charge of the bill, has attempted to head off possible defeats by making a completely empty offer: Parliament will get a vote on the final deal – but if it’s voted down, the result will be the UK leaving the EU without any deal at all! This “offer” has been met with scepticism.
    2) Theresa May has deviated from the Trumpist line by accusing Russia of “election meddling”. This is in large part to get the EU to give the UK what it wants in negotiations (all the advantages of membership with none of the costs or responsibilities), on the grounds that “a strong economic partnership between the UK and EU would be a bulwark against Russian agitation in Europe.” (That quote is from the BBC article linked, not direct from May.)

  29. Ogvorbis: Swimming without a parachute. says

    This does not surprise me at all. Well, I’m sure that a Sessions-appointed special cousel to investigate the Clinton Foundation and the uranium will be handled with the same professionalism, bipartipartisanship, and lack of any political agenda as every thing else Team Tang has done.

  30. says

    “Duterte spokesman: Trump offered to return Philippine fugitive during bilateral talks”:

    A spokesman for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Tuesday that President Trump offered to return a fugitive who had fled to the United States and did not bring up human rights issues at all during their bilateral meeting a day earlier.

    Spokesman Harry Roque’s account of the meeting in an interview with The Washington Post appears to contradict White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who said “human rights briefly came up” as the two leaders discussed the Philippines’ bloody fight against illicit drugs.

    At one point, Trump offered to extradite a Philippine fugitive in the United States. “Do you want him back?” Trump asked, according to Roque. The U.S. president added: “I will send him back because I know you follow the rule of law.”

    In the United States, extraditions are not actually the province of the president, but rather requests are reviewed and forwarded to the relevant U.S. attorney’s office. Then a judge ultimately makes the decision whether the person is sent back.

    Roque, in the interview, said he believes Sanders was interested in making it appear that Trump had raised human rights in a bid to placate Trump’s “domestic constituency.” He said he decided not to challenge Sanders’s statement immediately after it was distributed to reporters in an email as a way of compromising with her. He said a charitable reading of the meeting would be that Duterte was alluding to human rights issues when he said the drug war was important as an issue of “human development.”

  31. says

    This is the third (known) alleged instance of Trump or one of his minions offering to hand someone over to an authoritarian regime: Gulen, Guo, and now this person. There’s also the recent incident with Bill Browder’s visa.

  32. says

    “Before He Was Tapped By Donald Trump, Controversial Judicial Nominee Brett J. Talley Investigated Paranormal Activity”: “On his questionnaire for the Senate Judiciary Committee, a copy of which was provided to The Daily Beast, Talley says that he was part of The Tuscaloosa Paranormal Research Group from 2009-2010. The group, according to its website, searches for the truth ‘of the paranormal existence’ in addition to helping ‘those who may be living with paranormal activity that can be disruptive and/or traumatic’.”

    …”Talley’s work in this field is not the typical biographical detail found on the resume of a federal court nominee.”

  33. says

    “In his written opening statement Jeff Sessions said he has never changed his story. Just an extraordinary, disqualifying fiction.”

    Conyers just read out some of Trump’s recent tweets pressuring the DoJ to go after Clinton (and expressed his disgust at “Pocahontas” – says at least when Nixon said such things about minorities he did it in private). “In a functioning democracy, is it common for the leader of the country to order the criminal justice system to retaliate against his political opponents?”

  34. blf says

    Oh goody, another nutcase meltdown. I like nutcase meltdowns, watching a few tightly-twisted garments flung through the air over some reasonable thing. In this case, First hijab-wearing Barbie based on Ibtihaj Muhammad:

    Barbie will release its first hijab-wearing character in 2018, a doll based on the Olympian fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.

    The 31-year-old sportswoman rose to fame at the 2016 Summer Olympics, after becoming the first female Muslim-American to earn a medal at the games, and the first American woman to don the headscarf at the competition.

    [… Ms Muhammad & others approve …]

    However, not everyone was pleased about the latest doll.

    Twitter user Amy Mek, who describes herself as a psychotherapist and supporter of US President [sic] Donald Trump, accused Muhammad of anti-Semitism.

    Ann Coulter [… wrote] ISIS Ken sold separately.

    […]

    As the article notes, Mattel is quite late here.

  35. blf says

    Hate crimes rose by nearly 5 percent in 2016: FBI:

    Incidents of hate crimes in the US went up to 6,121 during 2016, seeing an increase of 4.6 percent compared to the previous year […].

    The crimes committed, particularly against African-Americans, Jews and Muslims, rose for the second consecutive year, with a spike of 10 percent from 2014 to 2015.

    […]

    The [FBI’s] report says that about 58 percent of 2016 incidents were racially motivated, with over half of those being directed at the African-American community.

    Roughly 21 percent of the incidents were religiously motivated, with 54 percent targeting the Jewish community and about 25 percent targeting Muslims. Roughly 18 percent of the hate crimes were based on biases towards sexual orientation.

    [A spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Corey] Saylor, who tracks anti-Islamic incidents throughout the US, said he would “argue that it has a lot to do with the irresponsible rhetoric used by some politicians on the campaign trail”.

    […]

    The increase was predicted in data collected by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. Their study (PDF) showed a 4.9 percent increase in hate crime incidents.

    According to the research, Tennessee and Rhode Island saw the largest decreases in hate crime incidents, with 30 and 18 percent reductions since 2015, respectively.

    Indiana and Minnesota saw the greatest increases, with 123 and 27 percent surges.

    Figures from 2015 show that 51 percent of religiously motivated incidents were anti-Jewish and 22 percent were anti-Islamic.

    […]

  36. blf says

    Dr Singham here at FtB notes there are also apparently allegations of improper finances against Ray Moore, I am enjoying watching Mitch McConnell squirm. Quoting an editorial at AL.com (somehow related to the Birmingham News), Our view: Roy Moore grossly unfit for office:

    Investigations into Moore’s nonprofit the Foundation of Moral Law, have revealed a man who champions himself above all else. […] Moore has used his platform to personally enrich himself and his family and to pursue his own, radical agenda.

    This is apparently referring to a recent investigation by the Washington Post, Undisclosed deal guaranteed Roy Moore $180,000 a year for part-time work at charity:

    Former Alabama judge Roy Moore […] once said publicly that he did not take a “regular salary” from the small charity he founded to promote Christian values because he did not want to be a financial burden.

    But privately, Moore had arranged to receive a salary of $180,000 a year for part-time work at the Foundation for Moral Law, internal charity documents show. He collected more than $1 million as president from 2007 to 2012, compensation that far surpassed what the group disclosed in its public tax filings most of those years.

    When the charity couldn’t afford the full amount, Moore in 2012 was given a promissory note for back pay eventually worth $540,000 or an equal stake of the charity’s most valuable asset, a historic building in Montgomery, Ala., mortgage records show. He holds that note even now, a charity official said.

    A Washington Post review of public and internal charity documents found that errors and gaps in the group’s federal tax filings obscured until now the compensation paid to Moore […]

    […]

    […] In his last two years as president, as fundraising dwindled, Moore’s compensation amounted to about a third of the contributions to the group, tax filings show.

    The charity has employed at least two of Moore’s children, although their compensation is not reflected in tax filings. Moore’s wife, Kayla, who is now president, was paid a total of $195,000 over three years through 2015.

    Moore’s charitable and political activities have also overlapped in significant ways. The former longtime executive director of the charity now serves as Moore’s campaign manager. The charity retained the same fundraising firm used by three of Moore’s most recent campaigns for state office, public records show.

    An Internal Revenue Service audit of the Foundation for Moral Law’s 2013 finances, provided by the charity, concluded that it left out information about fundraising and other activities on its public tax filings and also identified discrepancies between those filings and its internal books. […]

    Seven charity and tax law specialists consulted by The Post said the nonprofit’s activities raised questions about compliance with IRS rules, including prohibitions on the use of a charity for the private benefit or enrichment of an individual.

    […]

    There are numerous more details at the latter link.

    (I don’t recall seeing this bit of sleaze by Moore mentioned before — I certainly wasn’t aware of it — apologies if it’s already been covered previously.)

  37. says

    From SC’s link in comment 58:

    “Is it possible, Mr. Sessions, that you and other members of the Trump campaign coordinated closely with Russia during the 2016 election and you have simply forgotten about it?”

    Worth repeating for the laughs. We need all the laughs we can get.

    I noticed that Republicans questioning Jeff Sessions have been prefacing their questions with falsehoods like, “the thoroughly debunked and scurrilous dossier” in reference to the Steele dossier. Nope. Not debunked. So far, the dossier has held up well. I think “politically motivated” was thrown in there too. Republicans really want to investigate Clinton in connection with the production of the dossier.

  38. says

    Hank Johnson is asking good questions about the AT&T merger and efforts to prevent future foreign election interference. I hope someone follows up on the question about whether anyone in the Trump administration/campaign has contacted him or the DoJ about the merger. Sessions is good at shifting the answer away from the question asked; they should tell him he can address his other points after he answers the basic question, because he uses up the time and it doesn’t get answered.

    It’s amazing how clearly and quickly he can answer questions about deportations, in contrast to his befuddlement and stammering when answering Democrats’ questions.

  39. says

    Follow-up to comment 51.

    More on Brett Talley, who has been nominated by Trump for a lifetime position on the federal bench in Alabama:

    […] Talley also appears to have failed to disclose other work he published online, including his reaction to massacre of children at Sandy Hook elementary. “My solution would be to stop being a society of pansies and man up,” Talley wrote in 2012. […]

    Link

  40. says

    (I don’t recall seeing this bit of sleaze by Moore mentioned before — I certainly wasn’t aware of it — apologies if it’s already been covered previously.)

    It has, but it’s worth raising again. I was just thinking this morning about how much of the Right – and especially the Religious Right – involves blatant grift. Trump, Sekulow, Moore, Huckabee,… People support them unwaveringly and in return get fleeced.

  41. says

    Since Sessions expressed that he doesn’t think the DoJ should be interfered with for political purposes, someone should ask him why neither he nor Rosenstein have pushed back publicly on Trump’s efforts to interfere (they could show the recent emails again).

  42. blf says

    Thirty countries use ‘armies of opinion shapers’ to manipulate democracy — report:

    Governments in Venezuela, the Philippines, Turkey and elsewhere use social media to influence elections, drive agendas and counter critics, says report
    […]
    Unlike widely reported Russian attempts to influence foreign elections, most of the offending countries use the internet to manipulate opinion domestically, says US NGO Freedom House.

    “Manipulation and disinformation tactics played an important role in elections in at least 17 other countries over the past year, damaging citizens’ ability to choose their leaders based on factual news and authentic debate,” the US government-funded charity said. “Although some governments sought to support their interests and expand their influence abroad, as with Russia’s disinformation campaigns in the United States and Europe, in most cases they used these methods inside their own borders to maintain their hold on power.”

    Even in those countries that didn’t have elections in the last year, social media manipulation was still frequent. Of the 65 countries surveyed, 30, including Venezuela, the Philippines and Turkey, were found to be using “armies of opinion shapers” to “spread government views, drive particular agendas, and counter government critics on social media”, according to Freedom House’s new Freedom on the Net report. In each of the 30 countries it found “strong indications that individuals are paid to distort the digital information landscape in the government’s favour, without acknowledging sponsorship”.

    […]

    “The fabrication of grassroots support for government policies on social media creates a closed loop in which the regime essentially endorses itself, leaving independent groups and ordinary citizens on the outside,” [director of the Freedom on the Net project, Sanja] Kelly said.

  43. says

    Rep. Bass is doing a great job questioning Sessions about the focus on so-called Black Identity Extremists and the ignoring of real, violent White Identity Extremists. She’s getting the facts on the record.

  44. says

    Cicilline asked whether anyone in the WH contacted the DoJ about the AT&T deal or any other deal. Sessions just refused to answer about any contacts with the WH. Goodlatte said that’s fine.

  45. blf says

    India supreme court ‘in crisis’ over retired judge corruption case:

    Senior lawyers in India say the country’s supreme court is in crisis over the case of a former high court judge accused of offering to influence decisions for cash.

    Events in the case in recent days have led to extraordinary accusations of misconduct against India’s most senior judge and fierce criticism of the supreme court […].

    Critics accuse the Indian chief justice, Dipak Misra, of intervening to ensure only judges of his choice can hear a sensitive case relating to corruption involving a retired high court judge.

    The retired judge, IM Quddusi, is accused of conspiring to bribe supreme court justices in a case over which Misra himself presided. It is not known which justices, if any, were allegedly offered bribes.

    [… Misra has repeatedly overturned decisions / petitions for the case to be heard by an independent tribunal …]

    The Friday hearing was a chaotic affair, with one lawyer arguing the petition, Prashant Bhushan, escorted from the court while flanked by security after verbally remonstrating with Misra.

    Bhushan later tweeted that the chief justice was guilty of “very serious misconduct”. “He has violated basic principle of natural justice, that you can’t be judge in your own cause,” he said.

    […]

    The article is at pains to point out there is no allegation that “Misra or any other supreme court justice behaved corruptly”, only that one of the problems is “a possible likelihood of bias if Misra was to consider a case with some connection, however tenuous, to him or other judges.”

  46. blf says

    Trolls force shutdown of French anti-harassment hotline (about two weeks ago; the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    Internet trolls carrying out an orchestrated campaign of intimidation and death threats have forced the shutdown of a French telephone hotline aimed at shaming men who refuse to take no for an answer.

    The anti-harassment phone number was launched on Friday afternoon as a tool for women being pestered by over-insistent males.

    Victims were advised to give a mobile phone number to men whose behaviour was inappropriately persistent.

    When the men contacted the number they received an SMS message reading: “Hello! If you’re reading this message it’s because you have made a woman uncomfortable{…} It’s not complicated: if a woman says ‘no’ don’t insist. Learn to respect women’s freedom and their decisions. Thank you.”

    The “anti-relou” (anti-pest) number […] was inundated in the 48 hours after its launch as the telephone number spread on social networks. In three days, the number received 26,000 messages, with each reply costing 16 centimes.

    At the weekend, Clara Gonzales and Elliot Lepers temporarily suspended the campaign as the bill for SMS charges passed €600 (£527) due to the number of people texting the number, with only some of them genuine victims of sexual harassment. The pair launched a crowdfunding campaign to pay the growing bill.

    The hotline was shut down definitively on Tuesday, after the concerted trolling campaign saw 20,000 hate messages, including death threats, sent on Monday afternoon.

    […]

    In a statement on Twitter, the pair added: “We will try to reactivate a similar service as soon as possible.”

    Gonzales and Lepers were inspired to set up a French version of the “Rejection Hotline” after hearing about a similar initiative set up by the American feminist website the Mary Sue, which suggested it as an option when dealing with “men who won’t respect their wishes or space”.

    Related, Allegations of sexual violence soar in France after Weinstein scandal:

    Police see 30% increase in year-on-year figures for October in wake of series of high-profile allegations against famous figures
    […]
    The sharp increase in reports in October, up from 1,213 in the same period last year to 1,577 (30%), was revealed by an official source to Agence France-Presse.

    Asked about the increase, France’s justice minister said the country’s legal system was equipped to deal with the extra workload […]

    […]

    Last week, Richard Lizurey, the director general of the gendarmerie national, wrote to officers and prefects, calling for a “general mobilisation” to prevent violence against women and to support victims.

    […]

    The French president, Emmanuel Macron, is expected to address sexual violence on 25 November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

  47. says

    “Secret Finding: 60 Russian Payments ‘To Finance Election Campaign Of 2016′”:

    On Aug. 3 of last year, just as the US presidential election was entering its final, heated phase, the Russian foreign ministry sent nearly $30,000 to its embassy in Washington. The wire transfer, which came from a Kremlin-backed Russian bank, landed in one of the embassy’s Citibank accounts and contained a remarkable memo line: “to finance election campaign of 2016.”

    That wire transfer is one of more than 60 now being scrutinized by the FBI and other federal agencies investigating Russian involvement in the US election. The transactions, which moved through Citibank accounts and totaled more than $380,000, each came from the Russian foreign ministry and most contained a memo line referencing the financing of the 2016 election.

    The money wound up at Russian embassies in almost 60 countries from Afghanistan to Nigeria between Aug. 3 and Sept. 20, 2016. It is not clear how the funds were used. At least one transaction that came into the US originated with VTB Bank, a financial institution that is majority-owned by the Kremlin.

    Much as checks include a memo line, wire transfers often include a note that states what the money is for. The note on this set of transfers does not indicate what election the money was to be used for, or even the country. Seven nations had federal elections during the span when the funds were sent — including the Duma, Russia’s lower house of Parliament, on Sept. 18, 2016. Russian embassies and diplomatic compounds opened polling stations for voters living abroad.

    Following the congressional requests, Citibank turned over a range of financial documents. The material includes more than 650 suspicious transactions between November 2013 and March 2017 totaling about $2.9 million. That money was sent to four Russian accounts operating in the US: the embassy; the Office of Defense, Military, Air and Naval Attaches; and Russian cultural centers in Washington and New York City.

    Most of these wire transfers were not related to the election, sources say, but are the subject of FBI scrutiny for their possible ties to Russian corruption and money laundering.

    The FBI and congressional investigators are now inspecting each of those transactions….

  48. says

    “These are the GOP officials who have spent the most at Trump properties “:

    …Between Election Day 2016 and the end of September of this year, federal political committees reported paying at least $1.27 million to Trump entities, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

    Not a dollar has come from any Democrats.

    Among congressional Republicans, 40 have spent campaign or leadership PAC money at Trump properties, including the D.C. hotel and other hotels and golf clubs throughout the country. The Trump Organization declined to comment.

    Below are the 10 national Republican officials who have spent the most at Trump properties since Election Day 2016 — and the congressional candidate who has spent the most at the president’s venues.

    President Trump
    $534,864 spent at Trump-branded properties since Jan. 1, 2017

    Among Republican politicians, Donald Trump’s best customer this year — by far — has been Donald Trump.

    President Trump, who began fundraising for his 2020 reelection on Inauguration Day, has spent heavily at Trump Organization properties through his campaign and two affiliated committees since Jan. 1. His campaign has paid $482,371 for rent at Trump Tower in New York. It paid $22,700 for stays at the Trump hotel in D.C. It spent $2,596 on “office supplies” from Trump Ice, a bottled-water company.

    In addition, the Republican National Committee spent $176,738 at Trump properties this year, including $122,000 to host a fundraiser headlined by the president at the Trump hotel in Washington in June….

  49. says

    These fuckers.

    Ben Wikler:

    How new plan works:
    1. GOP ends Obamacare’s individual mandate
    2. Fewer healthy people buy insurance
    3. Premiums shoot up for everyone else
    4. Millions can’t afford insurance who want it
    5. Govt saves $ on subsidies
    6. $ goes to corporations & rich people

  50. blf says

    How a Russian ‘troll soldier’ stirred anger after the Westminster attack:

    […] After the [Westminster terrorist attack in March], the tweeter shared a photograph of a young Muslim woman walking along the bridge looking at her phone, and wrongly accused her of ignoring the injured. It was swiftly picked up in the media […]

    SouthLoneStar appeared to be a fairly conventional member of the American “alt-right” taking a sudden interest in London. […]

    But there was a hidden — and disturbing — dimension to the incident, because this tweeter was part of a Russian disinformation campaign.

    [… examples of the fake accounts activities & oddities …]

    [Twitter] suspended the account and decided that SouthLoneStar was the creation of the Internet Research Agency, a Russian “troll army” based in St Petersburg. This is where, in rooms of about 20 people working 12-hour shifts for pay of between 45,000 and 65,000 rubles a month (£575–£830), a modern disinformation campaign is crafted.

    […]

    The article notes these trolls tend “to activate accounts early and leave them dormant until they are needed”, which reminds me of the suspicious activity that’s been noticed in Ireland.

  51. blf says

    Roy Moore challenged Alabama law that protects rape victims, documents reveal :

    […]
    As chief justice of Alabama’s supreme court, Moore twice argued that the state’s “rape shield” law should not prevent alleged sex offenders from using certain evidence about their underage accusers’ personal lives to discredit them.

    The cases were among 10 between 2013 and 2016 where Moore dissented from the court’s majority view and sided with alleged offenders who were appealing to the court as part of their efforts to overturn convictions or punishments for sexual crimes.

    […]

    A review by the Guardian of all decisions issued by the Alabama supreme court during Moore’s second stint found decisions on 16 criminal cases that involved alleged sexual crimes. Moore sided with the offender over state prosecutors in 13 of those cases.

    On 10 occasions, this meant dissenting from the court’s majority view. […]

    […]

    [If the case of] Eric Higdon, a daycare center intern convicted of raping a four-year-old boy […] Moore in July 2015 […] argued the evidence did not support a lower court’s finding that Higdon had assaulted a child using “forcible compulsion”.
    […]

    Like the four-year-old boy consented or something?! What a creep.

  52. says

    “RNC cuts off Moore”: “The RNC is pulling out of a joint fundraising agreement it had with Moore, according to a senior party official briefed on the decision. It is also canceling a field program it had set up ahead of the state’s Dec. 12 special election. The committee had about a dozen paid canvassers in Alabama working for Moore. It will no longer transfer any money to the race.”

  53. says

    SC @86, Shepard Smith deserves a medal.

    In other news, there’s been a mass shooting in northern California.

    A gunman killed four people and wounded a number of others at random Tuesday at multiple locations in rural Northern California, including an elementary school, before police shot him dead, authorities said.

    Two hospitals said they were treating seven people, including at least three children.

    No children were killed, Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said. The shooter, who has not been identified, was fatally shot by police after engaging two officers who returned fire at an intersection in the community of Rancho Tehama Reserve, about 130 miles north of Sacramento, Johnston said. […]

    NBC News link

  54. says

    WOW==> US congresswoman @JackieSpeier (D-CA) tells Chuck Todd: ‘there is about 15 million dollars that has been paid out by the House on behalf of harassers in the last 10-15 years’ to settle sexual harassment claims… by the way that is US taxpayer money that was used!”

    And the victims have to sign an NDA before they’re even able to go into mediation, so the public doesn’t know who its money is being used to protect!

  55. says

    Another amazing fake story emerged from Trump’s muddled brain. He thinks that President Obama, onboard Air Force One, flew to the Philippines but was not allowed to land.

    […] I mean, the Philippines, we just could not have been treated nicer. And as you know, we were having a lot of problems with the Philippines. The relationship with the past administration was horrible, to use a nice word. I would say ‘horrible’ is putting it mildly. You know what happened. Many of you were there, and you never got to land. The plane came close but it didn’t land.

    And now we have a very, very strong relationship with the Philippines, which is really important…. So we’ve accomplished a lot.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] That in no way reflects reality. In the real world, Obama was scheduled to meet Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Laos last year, but the Democratic president canceled following a Duterte tantrum.

    A year earlier, before Duterte took office, Obama visited the Philippines and the trip went smoothly.

    In other words, Trump has embraced an odd fantasy as if it were true, pointing to an incident that never occurred as evidence of his diplomatic superiority over his predecessor. […]

    From the Washington Post:

    [Trump’s rhetoric was] exceedingly strange.

    […] Obama actually called off his meeting with Duterte — not the Philippines. So it’s unclear what Trump means when he says the Obama administration “was not exactly welcome.”

    And Obama had some pretty good reasons for not meeting with Duterte. Chief among them is that police in the Philippines, with Duterte’s apparent blessing, have killed thousands of people without due process during Duterte’s drug war. After Obama criticized those killings, Duterte called him a “son of a whore.” That’s what led to Obama canceling a planned meeting with Duterte at the ASEAN conference in Laos. Obama said it wasn’t personal, but his State Department said that it didn’t think such insults were conducive to constructive dialogue. […]

    Trump is confused, delusional. And he always tries to pull other people into his delusion, to make them complicit in his lies, “You know what happened. Many of you were there, and you never got to land.” Yes, other people were there, and they know what happened. Reality is/was nothing like the drivel Trump spouts.

  56. says

    More about the @Umpire43 account – “The Troll Smearing Roy Moore’s Accuser Stole a Dead Navy SEAL’s Identity.”

    (It bugs me how weird lines keep ending up in otherwise decent articles. “Minutes after Guccifer 2.0 released a new blog post, Lewis tweeted his support of the hacking collective, which U.S. intelligence officials believe was behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee that was distributed by Wikileaks last year.” Hacking collective? Believe? The intelligence agencies, along with multiple independent experts, concluded that Russian intelligence hacked the DNC and “Guccifer 2.0” was their front.)

  57. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 81.

    The GOP tax plan will have lots of unintended consequences. The plan has no explicit rules/provisions that cut Medicare, but that is exactly what will happen:

    The Republican tax bill would force $25 billion in immediate cuts to Medicare, according to the Congressional Budget Office, a move that could be stopped only with a bipartisan vote.

    Those are the consequences under the pay-as-you-go law that Congress passed in 2010. That law requires tax cuts and certain spending increases to be paired with offsetting provisions. If not, the law forces automatic spending cuts…. Congress could prevent the cuts, but that couldn’t be done under the fast-track procedures they’re using for the tax bill.

    https://www.wsj.com/livecoverage/tax-bill-2017/card/1510696375

    More details and an explanation are available at the link.

  58. says

    Britt Lawson, a registered nurse from Pittsburgh, is fighting one instance of injustice perpetrated by the Trump administration:

    [Lawson] traveled to Washington in January to serve as a volunteer medic for a weekend of protest activities against president-elect Donald Trump.

    Lawson ended up spending most of the weekend incarcerated by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). She and more than 200 other people, including journalists and legal observers, were indiscriminately rounded up by police on inauguration day and thrown into jail. […]

    In an unprecedented move, U.S. federal prosecutors turned what would have been a normal legal response to a protest — presenting charges to a court against specific protesters who engage in vandalism or violence — into a broader attack on dissent. They charged Lawson and her fellow arrestees — who have become known as the “J20” resistance — with several felonies that could send them to prison for more than 60 years.

    Out of the legal scramble, Lawson emerged as part of a group of seven defendants who will be first in line to have their cases heard in D.C. Superior Court. Under the current schedule, her trial will start Wednesday and is expected to last at least a couple weeks. Donations to J20 defense funds have helped pay for her travel and housing costs.

    The case’s outcome could set a precedent that would affect all of the remaining defendants awaiting trial who face the same strict maximum sentence. “I’m feeling generally confident for the case broadly as well as for my specific case. I feel like it will be a helpful and a psychological boost if we get some early acquittals,” Lawson said. […]

    https://thinkprogress.org/j20-defendants-face-trial/

    Much more at the link, including this explanation from Alex Vitale, a professor of sociology and the coordinator of the Policing and Social Justice Project at Brooklyn College:

    […] “It is not lawful for the police to engage in collective, indiscriminate punishment and arrests. In their desire to bring the protest to end as quickly and as decisively as possible, they decided to act in an extralegal fashion,” explained Vitale, who is serving as an informal adviser to lawyers for the J20 defendants. […]

  59. says

    Oh, FFS. We really don’t need less regulation on banks.

    On Monday, the Senate Banking Committee announced that it struck a rare bipartisan deal to deregulate banks. The deal would gut several of the protections enacted in 2010 in response to the financial crisis as part of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, most notably a key rule requiring that “Too Big To Fail” banks—those with more than $50 billion in assets—undergo stricter oversight. The deal is backed by nine Democrats, which means that if the full Republican caucus backs the bill it would have enough votes to overcome a filibuster.

    The plan […] would quintuple the threshold for a “systemically important” designation by the federal government, raising that figure from $50 billion in assets to $250 billion. The result? Several dozen major banks and financial institutions—including BB&T, American Express, Credit Suisse, Regions Financial, Citizens Financial, and SunTrust—would no longer be subject to the most rigorous risk checks enacted in 2010 to monitor big banks’ ability to withstand financial shock.

    These checks include annual stress tests by the Federal Reserve, as well as higher capital ratio requirements. The total number of financial institutions subject to this highest level of supervision would drop from 40 to about 12. This same deregulation was proposed this summer by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, […] and a number of the banks that would be excluded have failed stress tests in the past. […]

    Link

  60. says

    WikiLeaks Set Off an Attack on Our Trump-Russia Project—Right After Messaging Donald Trump Jr. About It

    […] But there was more to the story of WikiLeaks’ apparent effort to conspire with the Trump campaign against PutinTrump.org—and I had a front-row seat to it, as editorial director of the site. Within just minutes of reaching out to Trump Jr., WikiLeaks also publicized the password, setting off a wave of online harassment, email bombs, and personal threats against people behind the site. […]

    Our site was soon hit with a surge of traffic and spam while it was still password-protected and meant to be out of public view—and that was just the beginning. Within hours, people involved with launching the site were doxxed and personally targeted on Twitter, an attack that quickly spread to Reddit and to alt-right and pro-Trump news sites.

    Mother Jones is withholding some details about the attack at the request of the people who were targeted due to their concerns about further harassment: Their cellphone numbers, home addresses, and other information about them and their family members were publicized, alongside calls to go after them. Their email accounts were hit with a spambot attack, signing them up for thousands of unwanted subscriptions—many in a foreign language—which rendered the accounts unusable. In a panic, one of them sent me a message: “We are getting 100,000 spam messages to our inbox and all of our personal info is on twitter.” They also received menacing emails and crank phone calls.

    “It was the scariest times in our lives,” recalls one of the people targeted. “There were messages threatening our families.” […]

  61. says

    The New York Times covered Trump’s recent trip to Asia quite well. As a result, Trump indulged in a hyperbolic Twitter rant against the Times:

    It is actually hard to believe how naive (or dumb) the Failing @nytimes is when it comes to foreign policy…weak and ineffective!

    The failing @nytimes hates the fact that I have developed a great relationship with World leaders like Xi Jinping, President of China.

    They should realize that these relationships are a good thing, not a bad thing. The U.S. is being respected again. Watch Trade!

    Possible explanation for what triggered the rant:

    […] earlier Wednesday Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas Friedman penned a piece criticizing President Trump for allowing himself to be manipulated by Xi on trade, an issue the president has made a priority in his overseas diplomatic talks.

    “Xi has been brilliant at playing Trump, plying him with flattery and short-term trade concessions and deflecting him from the real structural trade imbalances with China,” Friedman wrote in an op-ed titled, “China Could Sell Trump the Brooklyn Bridge.”

    Link

  62. says

    Oh, FFS. Really, Donald? Needy toddler syndrome.

    President Donald Trump on Wednesday questioned whether the three UCLA basketball players released from China on Tuesday after being accused of shoplifting while traveling abroad would thank him for his hand in delivering them back to Los Angeles.

    “Do you think the three UCLA Basketball Players will say thank you President Trump? They were headed for 10 years in jail!” the president tweeted Wednesday morning.

    The three UCLA freshmen were arrested last week after being charged with stealing sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store […] Forwards Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, along with guard LiAngelo Ball, the brother of Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, did not play in their season opening match against Georgia Tech on Saturday, but were released on Tuesday by Chinese authorities after remaining secluded in their hotel over the weekend. […]

    Larry Scott, commissioner of the Pacific-12 athletic conference, thanked the president and his administration for the players’ release in a statement. […]

    Link

  63. says

    This article is outstanding:

    “The Making of an American Nazi: How did Andrew Anglin go from being an antiracist vegan to the alt-right’s most vicious troll and propagandist—and how might he be stopped?”

    It’s incredible how much it reads like a contemporary “Childhood of a Leader”! It also alludes to, but unfortunately doesn’t emphasize, the likelihood that Anglin was raised in an abusive environment. And of course there’s a Russia angle (which is by no means gratuitous).

    (This one, too, has one of those inexplicable weird passages:

    Anglin set up his own website, for a fake record label called “Andy Sucks! Records” that he used to dupe bands into sending him demo tapes. Here, his leftist leanings were on full display: He wrote posts encouraging people to send the Westboro Baptist Church death threats from untraceable accounts, and he mocked the Ku Klux Klan and other racist organizations. He wasn’t so different, back then, from the antifascist activists who would one day protest outside his dad’s office.

    O’Brien earlier describes the antifascist protesters outside Anglin’s father’s office as including his preschool teacher. I doubt many of them are death-threats-from-untraceable-accounts types. What this part of his history actually shows is an early manifestation of his psychology: in a variety of contexts throughout his life, he’s been prone to whipping up mobs and encouraging others to vilify, harass, threaten, and commit violence against his targets. People with tendencies like this can exist in more socially progressive movements – we’ve certainly seen some in the atheist/secular/pro-science movements over the past several years – but they tend to have less success. They find their true home in rightwing authoritarian movements.)

  64. says

    Roy Moore threatened to sue some more people. So far, everyone he has threatened to sue is not backing down.

    One of Alabama’s top local news companies said Wednesday its newspapers “will not be silenced or slowed” by Senate candidate Roy Moore’s threat to sue them over their reporting on his alleged sexual misconduct.

    The Alabama Media Group, […] issued a statement Wednesday that said the publisher “stands by its reporting” on Moore, […]

    “Roy Moore seeks election to the United States Senate. As such a public figure, he merits and can expect intense scrutiny by the electorate and the media on its behalf, including by Alabama Media Group, the state’s largest media outlet,” Michelle Holmes, vice president of content for the Alabama Media Group, wrote on Wednesday.

    The publisher confirmed that Trenton Garmon, an attorney for Moore, sent a letter dated Tuesday indicating his intent to pursue legal action in response to their coverage.

    “This letter is provided in anticipating (sic) of our firm preparing and filing a lawsuit against your client and its agents,” the letter stated, according to the publisher. […]

    “Why do you think they’re giving me this trouble? Why do you think I’m being harassed by media and by people pushing allegations in the last 28 days of the election? … After 40-something years of fighting this battle, I’m now facing allegations and that’s all the press wants to talk about,” Roy Moore said.

    Link

  65. says

    Six Democrats are now calling for Trump to be impeached:

    […] Rep. Steve Cohen told reporters that five other Democrats have signed on to his resolution to introduce five articles of impeachment against the president.

    The Democrats charge that Trump obstructed justice when he fired FBI Director James Comey; that he has violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause by continuing to frequent and profit from his businesses; and that he has undermined the federal judiciary and freedom of the press.

    “We’re calling upon the House to begin impeachment hearings,” Cohen said. “It’s not a call for a vote. It’s a call for hearings.”

    Cohen acknowledged that he doesn’t expect the House Judiciary Committee, which he accused of operating “like a branch of the administration,” to hold hearings but pledged to hold briefings with experts to highlight what he contends are the president’s impeachable offenses. […]

    https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/15/trump-impeachment-democrats-244927

  66. says

    Popehat: “People are suggesting I write about Roy Moore’s lawyer’s threat letter. Write what? How would I begin? Would you footnote a sunset over the water? Would you airbrush a rose? That letter is the Mona Lisa of unselfconscious imbecility.”

    southpaw put in the work.

    The lawyer, Garmon (who I think technically represents Moore’s wife and scammy charitable foundation), was on MSNBC with Ali Veshi and Stephanie Ruhle this morning. I was rushing around an unable to catch the whole thing. Everyone is focusing (with reason) on this part – “Roy Moore’s Lawyer to MSNBC’s Ali Velshi: Your ‘Background’ Should Help You Understand Underage Dating.” But the “banned from the mall” discussion was also interesting. Garmon actually suggested that rural Alabama malls are somehow a gold standard for security practice and record-keeping. I think he implied that he’d contacted the mall and that they told him that they didn’t have a list of banned people with Moore’s name on it from that time. (I believe the articles and interviews I’ve seen presented it as an unofficial policy that everyone knew about, so this wouldn’t necessarily be significant anyway.) Ruhle was a bit confused after he referred to his dealings with the mall on behalf of other clients, but in the process of clarifying I’m pretty sure he said that there had been reports to the mall about Moore’s behavior, but that the mall security people must not have thought they rose to the level needed for a ban. That seems like quite an admission. I don’t know if Moore told him that or if the people from the mall did, but it sounded like he was saying there had been reports. He doesn’t express himself very clearly, and as I said I was doing other things while it was on, but it seemed like that’s what he said.

  67. says

    Wow – ” How Trump walked into Putin’s web: The inside story of how a former British spy was hired to investigate Russia’s influence on Trump – and uncovered explosive evidence that Moscow had been cultivating Trump for years.”

    Quite an article. This I didn’t know:

    Steele discovered that Fifa corruption was global. It was a stunning conspiracy. He took the unusual step of briefing an American contact in Rome, the head of the FBI’s Eurasian serious crime division. This “lit the fuse”, as one friend put it, and led to a probe by US federal prosecutors. And to the arrest in 2015 of seven Fifa officials, allegedly connected to $150m (£114m) in kickbacks, paid on TV deals stretching from Latin America to the Caribbean. The US indicted 14 individuals.

    The episode burnished Steele’s reputation inside the US intelligence community and the FBI. Here was a pro, a well-connected Brit, who understood Russian espionage and its subterranean tricks. Steele was regarded as credible. Between 2014 and 2016, Steele authored more than 100 reports on Russia and Ukraine. These were written for a private client but shared widely within the US state department, and sent up to secretary of state John Kerry and assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland, who was in charge of the US response to Putin’s annexation of Crimea and covert invasion of eastern Ukraine. Many of Steele’s secret sources were the same people who would later supply information on Trump.

    One former state department envoy during the Obama administration said he read dozens of Steele’s reports. On Russia, the envoy said, Steele was “as good as the CIA or anyone”.

    I also didn’t know (among several other details) that Steele had been brought in and had started looking at Manafort in early spring 2016, before the Democrats took over the Fusion GPS contract. I’m still confused about whether the Democrats contracted with Fusion GPS in April or May.

  68. says

    “Hillary Clinton on Trump’s Special Counsel Threat: ‘This Is Such an Abuse of Power'”:

    Hillary Clinton responded on Wednesday to news that the Trump administration is considering appointing a special counsel to investigate her alleged ties to the Uranium One deal, calling the move “a disastrous step into politicizing the Justice Department” and “such an abuse of power.”

    In an exclusive interview with Mother Jones, Clinton said such an investigation would have devastating consequences for the justice system in America. “If they send a signal that we’re going to be like some dictatorship, like some authoritarian regime, where political opponents are going to be unfairly, fraudulently investigated, that rips at the fabric of the contract we have, that we can trust our justice system,” Clinton said. “It will be incredibly demoralizing to people who have served at the Justice Department, under both Republicans and Democrats, because they know better. But it will also send a terrible signal to our country and the world that somehow we are giving up on the kind of values that we used to live by and we used to promote worldwide.”

    “I’m not concerned, because I know that there is no basis to it,” she said. “I regret if they do it because it will be such a disastrous step to politicizing the justice system. And at the end of the day, nothing will come of it, but it will, you know, cause a lot of terrible consequences that we might live with for a really long time.”

  69. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Senator Elizabeth Warren is on Rachael Maddow talking about the alleged rethug tax plan. Might not be able to get a link until the morning.

  70. says

    “Taxpayers pay legal bill to protect Trump business profits”:

    Taxpayers are footing the legal bill for at least 10 Justice Department lawyers and paralegals to work on lawsuits related to President Trump’s private businesses.

    Neither the White House nor the Justice Department will say how much it is costing taxpayers, but federal payroll records show the salaries of the government lawyers assigned to the cases range from about $133,000 to $185,000.

    The government legal team is defending President Trump in four lawsuits stemming from his unusual decision not to divest himself from hundreds of his companies that are entangled with customers that include foreign governments and officials.

    In the cases, Justice Department attorneys are not defending policy actions Trump took as president. Instead, the taxpayer-funded lawyers are making the case that it is not unconstitutional for the president’s private companies to earn profits from foreign governments and officials while he’s in office.

    The government lawyers and Trump’s private attorneys are making the same arguments — that the Constitution’s ban on a president taking gifts from foreign interests in exchange for official actions does not apply to foreign government customers buying things from Trump’s companies. The plaintiffs, including ethics groups and competing businesses, argue the payments pose an unconstitutional conflict of interest.

    The Justice Department for weeks refused to answer questions about how many employees were working on the cases and for how long, falsely saying the agency doesn’t track such information. USA TODAY identified the government legal staff who are defending Trump’s business profits using the agency’s own internal case-tracking database, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act….

  71. says

    SC in comment 114: Clinton’s comments are so spot on. And it’s like her to look at the bigger picture, at the consequences. Even Trey Gowdy said that he didn’t think the standard had been met to justify opening an investigation into Hillary Clinton. When Gowdy is hesitant to open an investigation you know that investigation is not legit.

    Nerd @120, I enjoyed the Warren interview on Maddow’s show. Warren knows the issues inside and out. She doesn’t put up with any bullshit. Her laughter was also a great moment.

  72. says

    Republicans are lying repeatedly about their tax plan. Steve Benen looked at the lies of one particular Republican, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise:

    […] the Louisiana Republican’s pitch includes a straightforward suggestion: “Just look at history.”

    “If you go back to when John F. Kennedy Jr. cut taxes, if you go back to the last time we transformed our tax code – 1986 when Ronald Reagan was president – you can go to the Clinton years,” Scalise said. “Every time we’ve cut taxes you’ve seen the economy take off.”

    Later, Scalise added: “So if you look at history, every time this has been done it’s worked. Why not do it again, especially when you’ve got a slow economy?” […]

    Alas, reality is stubborn. Indeed, if we take Scalise’s advice and “look at history,” it points in a direction he and his caucus probably won’t like.

    The last time Congress approved a massive overhaul of the federal tax system, for example, the economy didn’t soar at all. This isn’t a matter of opinion; the quantifiable evidence for what happened after the 1986 tax reform package become law is readily available. (Similarly, Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts didn’t boost the economy, either.)

    It’s also fascinating to see a member of the House GOP leadership celebrate “the Clinton years” – since it was Clinton who raised taxes in 1993, to the consternation of Republicans who insisted the policy would cause a recession. Instead, “the Clinton years” offered one of the most robust economic boom periods on record.

    And as long as we’re taking a stroll down memory lane, there’s one name that seems to be getting too little attention in this debate: George W. Bush.

    It was, after all, the most recent Republican president who slashed taxes, disproportionately benefiting the wealthy, in ways the country couldn’t afford. Bush and congressional Republicans were nevertheless certain that their tax breaks would send the economy soaring, […]

    But as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently explained, “Despite promises from proponents of the tax cuts, evidence suggests that they did not improve economic growth or pay for themselves, but instead ballooned deficits and debt and contributed to a rise in income inequality.”

    And, of course, Bush left office with an economy in shambles. Conditions improved dramatically under Barack Obama’s presidency – which included tax increases. […]

  73. says

    SC in comment 114: Clinton’s comments are so spot on. And it’s like her to look at the bigger picture, at the consequences. Even Trey Gowdy said that he didn’t think the standard had been met to justify opening an investigation into Hillary Clinton. When Gowdy is hesitant to open an investigation you know that investigation is not legit.

    I think we were all far too quiet about the disgusting Benghazi farce – since we knew it was a baseless witchhunt, we let it take its course, even after they publicly admitted it was meant to hurt Clinton politically. This is now so far outside the bounds, so unsuited to a democracy.

    In related news, Luke Harding, who wrote the article in #112 above, has a new book out today: Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. Brian Klaas also has a new book out this week: The Despot’s Apprentice: Donald Trump’s Attack on Democracy. They were both on MSNBC this morning, and I believe Harding will be on “The Last Word” tonight at 10 on MSNBC. (I haven’t read either yet, so can’t criticize or recommend.)

  74. Saad says

    SC, #124

    “Senator Al Franken Kissed and Groped Me Without My Consent, And There’s Nothing Funny About It.”

    And his response is trash too:

    “I certainly don’t remember the rehearsal for the skit in the same way, but I send my sincerest apologies to Leeann,” he said. “As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn’t. I shouldn’t have done it.”

    Nice gaslighting attempt there. If he’s calling her a liar about that rehearsal, then why apologize for it?

    Also, I’m pretty sure that photo is wrong because of the sexual attack and misogyny and not because it wasn’t funny. He says it like he’s sorry because it didn’t get a big laugh.

    Overall, a pretty standard notpology as expected from a man.

  75. says

    White Nationalists Freak Out After Losing Their Verified Twitter Status

    […] Under the new guidelines, Twitter can remove verification “at any time without notice” for users “promoting hate and or/violence” against others based on their identities. Behaviors “on and off Twitter,” including “inciting or engaging in harassment,” now warrant removal.

    Unsurprisingly, the white nationalists targeted flipped out—on Twitter.

    “Verified no more! Is it not okay to be proudly White?” Spencer asked, subsequently tweeting that anyone on the right who retained their verified status was “system approved” and “utterly irrelevant.”

    Jason Kessler, organizer of this summer’s violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and whose verification last week prompted a mass backlash that ushered in these changes, posted the full letter he received from Twitter.

    “Twitter has changed their verification policy just to be able to censor me,” Kessler lamented. […]

    Pity the poor, persecuted white supremacists.

    […] Far-right activist Laura Loomer repeatedly compared the removal of her allies’ blue check marks to the Holocaust, likening it to the Nazis’ “Final Solution” to annihilate Europe’s Jewish population. […]

  76. says

    More sabotage of Obamacare by team Trump:

    An already chaotic, confusing open enrollment period, run by an administration openly hostile to the Affordable Care Act, just got worse.

    As health care consumers across the country find themselves with half as much time to enroll, and with far fewer resources for information and assistance, many people across the country are also receiving renewal notices from their insurers showing wildly inaccurate estimates of how much they will have to pay in premiums.

    Government officials and health care experts fear many consumers will not do the research necessary to learn that they qualify for far lower premiums than these letters suggest—depressing overall enrollment and weakening Obamacare’s already vulnerable individual market.

    […] Because insurers often have to send out renewal notices to their consumers before they know what next year’s federal tax credits will be, they estimate the new year’s monthly premiums based on the assumption that the consumer will receive the same amount of tax credits for premiums as they did the year before.

    But the issue was massively exacerbated this year by the Trump administration abruptly yanking cost-sharing reduction payments from insurers right before the start of open enrollment. That sudden move is causing big premium hikes, but Obamacare shields most consumers from the impact by increasing the federal tax credits. The renewal notices landing in the mailboxes of millions of people around the country show the premium hikes but use last year’s lower subsidy amounts, making it appear as though the plans cost as much as several hundred dollars more per month than they really do.

    […] Alex Feldvebel, New Hampshire’s deputy insurance commissioner, told TPM that his office has been fielding calls from confused and irate residents—some of whom received letters saying, incorrectly, that their out-of-pocket costs will jump from $200 to $600 per month. He’s been directing them to Healthcare.gov, where most find they will have to pay much less, and in many cases qualify for a free plan, but he said he’s worried about those who don’t call. […]

    Link

  77. says

    David Mendels, former CEO of Brightcove, and an Adobe executive, debunked some of the Republican lies about the GOP tax plan. First, the lie, as summarized by Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

    The average American family would get a $4,000 raise under the President’s tax cut plan. So how could any member of Congress be against it? What would your family do w/ a $4,000 raise from the President’s tax cut plan? REPLY & I’ll share your family’s story in the press briefing.

    The reply from David Mendels:

    We had clear metrics we followed in most areas–for every additional $ in sales growth we committed to, we could hire a roughly fixed ratio of addition sales reps. For every increase in call volume, we would hire a roughly fixed ratio of customer service reps. For new product ideas, we would expect management to sign up for significant and specific revenue goals. It is a simple but true concept, customers drive business growth, not tax rates, not mythical “job creators.” Tax rates impact profitability, but are only very indirectly tied to hiring. […]

    Again, simple concept: the market for labor determines what CEOs/management/investors pay employees. Tax rates are not a factor. If I want to hire an engineer with experience in machine learning, the demand in the market right now is tremendous and the supply of people with that experience is limited. Salaries are going through the roof. If I want to hire a young person out of college for a junior sales or customer service job, it is a buyer’s market and wages are moderate. Neither of those realities change if my tax rate changes. […]

    First of all, Occam’s Razor suggests that cutting corporate taxes will benefit the owners of corporations–the investor class. It it is pretty simple and obvious concept. The leap of faith required to argue the the goal is not that, but to benefit the working class, is such a stretch that it really can not be taken seriously. We know this because we have already tested this proposition and seen the results.

    Broadly in the US economy, we have seen a massive increase in corporate profits at the same time as we have seen stagnant wages. That increase in corporate profits has lead to a record stock market and a dramatic increase in wealth for investors, not to significant increases in wages for working people. A tax cut for corporations will increase their profitability. Why should we believe that this increase in profitability will lead to wage increases when we have already seen that increases in profitability over the last 10 years did not, but rather went to stock buybacks and dividend increases that benefitted the investors? […]

    Link

  78. says

    Yet another power outage has hit Puerto Rico:

    […] Earlier in the morning, Governor Ricardo Rossello had told his 140,000 Twitter followers that the Puerto Rican power utility had reached a short-term goal of getting power output back to 50 percent of normal levels, adding the hashtag, “#PRSeLevanta,” or Puerto Rico pulls itself up.

    The celebration lasted till the lights went out. A statement from the power agency said a technical problem in a plant was responsible for the outage. […]

    Bloomberg link

    From Carmen Yulin Cruz (translated):

    Governor, I believe that your percentage has just changed. The power went out at the Centro Médico (Medical Center of Puerto Rico), and Hospital Municipal (San Juan Municipal Hospital) and the CRIM—Centro de Recaudación de Ingresos Municipales (Municipal Revenue Collection Center)

    Details of some past mistakes made by FEMA:

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency spent $35.1 million on renting two emergency generators to help power blacked-out San Juan, Puerto Rico. But a group of engineers says existing infrastructure could have been used more effectively at a fraction of the cost.

    The mobile turbine generators, fully connected as of last week, bring some 50 megawatts to the partially idled Palo Seco plant west of the capital. That’s intended to stabilize power supply, at least in neighborhoods where distribution lines are intact.

    Yet the Puerto Rico Professional College of Engineers and Land Surveyors said a better alternative was to turn on some of Palo Seco’s existing facilities to provide at least five times more power, according to a report delivered to local lawmakers and an interview with the organization’s president. […]

    Link

  79. says

    SC, same here. I keep trying to get the word out, but there’s a torrent of disinformation blocking real discussion in most media outlets.

  80. says

    Haley Byrd: “What I’ve learned in the past few weeks: Sexual harassment is rampant on Capitol Hill. Few people are immune, even lawmakers. Abusers are well known, but good luck getting victims on record or on background. My heart breaks for all the stories I’ve heard. But keep them coming.”

  81. says

    Trump faith adviser compares having a Bible signed by Roy Moore to being healed by Jesus

    […] South Carolina pastor and vocal Trump supporter Mark Burns was asked to comment on the growing list of allegations against the former judge, which include reportedly being banned from a mall for his predatory behavior. Burns expressed doubt about the claims, saying Moore is a “very strong Christian conservative” and that the accusations amount to a “character assassination.”

    “Today it’s Judge Moore. Tomorrow it could be you,” Burns said.

    But MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle fired back: “It can’t be me tomorrow because when I was in my 30s, I didn’t get banned from a mall. I wasn’t calling girls out of class [or] dating girls under 18 so no, it is not possible for it to ever be me.”

    The increasingly tense interview eventually took a sharp theological turn after Burns, a pastor, referred to himself as a “man of faith.” Ruhle responded by asking how Burns feels about Moore reportedly signing Bibles on the campaign trail—a legacy of his status as a crusader for what is often called Christian nationalism. […]

    “Jesus, the Bible…had the issue of blood, she reached out and she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment,” Burns said. “She never touched Jesus but she touched his hem. In other words, she touched his cloths. It was her faith that healed her. She never touched his body, she touched his cloth. If it increases somebody’s faith, whether it be a piece of cloth, there’s no voodoo or special power in these artifacts. Whether it be a signature—if it increases somebody’s faith to believe Moore and the faith of the lord Jesus Christ, then so be it.”

    Burns’ theological argument was not immediately clear. The Bible story in question—which is referenced in three different Gospels—involves a woman whose hemorrhaging is miraculously healed after she pushed through a crowd to touch Jesus’s garment, after which Christ tells her “your faith has made you well.” The story does not state that touching the cloak “increases” the woman’s faith in the way Burns says a Bible autographed by Moore would. On the contrary, Jesus’ words imply that it was her faith that made her pursue Jesus in the first place.

    The claim is but the latest in a series of odd religious arguments that conservatives have recently used to defend Moore’s alleged predatory behavior. […]

    https://thinkprogress.org/trump-faith-adviser-roy-moore-jesus-0be2bf95f702/

  82. says

    From Mike Conceal:

    […] The crucial thing to realize is that this tax reform effort reflects more than the normal conservative allergic reaction to progressive taxation — going far beyond undoing the modest progressive grains achieved by Presidents Obama and Clinton.

    Three major changes stand out: These taxes are far more focused on owners than on workers, even by Republican standards. They take advantage of the ambiguity of what counts as income, weaponizing that vagueness to help their friends and hurt their enemies.

    And after years of pushing for a safety net that works through the tax code, in order to keep more social democratic reforms at bay, Republicans now reveal their willingness to demolish even those modest protections. Their actions make clear that a welfare state based on tax credits and refunds, rather than universal commitments, is all too vulnerable. […]

    Much more at the link.

  83. says

    “Trump Organization worth one tenth of value previously reported”:

    The Trump Organization in New York is reportedly worth one tenth of the value it previously claimed.

    Donald Trump’s family business had previously ranked near the top of Crain’s New York Business’ list of largest privately held companies.

    But this year it has fallen from number three to number 40 after the President disclosed the organisation’s revenue to federal regulators.

    While the Trump Organization claimed $9.5bn (£7.2bn) in sales last year, Mr Trump’s public filings suggest revenues of less than a tenth of that amount, between $600m (£450m) and $700m (£530m)….

  84. says

    Autocorrect got me in comment 139. Mike’s last name is Konczal, not “conceal.”

    Just for laughs, here is Wonkette’s coverage of “Baked Alaska” and others whining about being banned from Twitter.

    Scroll down to watch the video of Baked Alaska losing it.

  85. says

    Hmm…: “All the signs out there today suggesting Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab either entered a guilty plea/made a deal with prosecution on Iranian sanctions violation case. His Turkish lawyer cannot reach him but American one can. He didn’t appear today in court.”

  86. says

    Natasha Bertrand has an article about #145:

    President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner forwarded emails concerning a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite” to Trump campaign officials and failed to produce those emails to the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to a letter the senators sent Kushner’s lawyer on Thursday.

    Kushner also failed to produce emails on which he was copied involving communication with WikiLeaks, and with the Belarusan-American businessman Sergei Millian, the senators said….

    It is unclear what the “dinner invite” was a reference to. The senators also said Kushner had not produced any phone records.

    It has also not been reported that anyone on the campaign was in touch with Sergei Millian via email. Millian, a Belarus-born businessman who is now a US citizen, founded the Russian-American Chamber of Commerce in 2006.

    The Wall Street Journal and ABC reported earlier this year that Millian is “Source E” in the dossier alleging ties between Trump and Russia. Millian, who attended several black-tie events at Trump’s inauguration, has denied that charge….

  87. Ogvorbis: Swimming without a parachute. says

    SC:

    Wait, that cannot be! Impossible!!11!!! They said it would be the bestest and most leakproofiest pipeline ever builded and that leaks and spills were a non-issue because they cannot happen. Does this mean that a for-profit company lied? Or maybe it is god’s punishment for all those evil libruls in South Dakota who tried to stop pipelines because leaks and spills can happen . . .

  88. says

    Wait, that cannot be! Impossible!!11!!! They said it would be the bestest and most leakproofiest pipeline ever builded and that leaks and spills were a non-issue because they cannot happen.

    I know – inconceivable! The earlier press release said 50,000 barrels; a more recent one says 210,000. Who knows what the real figure will turn out to be.

  89. says

    The earlier press release said 50,000 barrels; a more recent one says 210,000. Who knows what the real figure will turn out to be.

    I think it is a spill of 50,000 barrels, which equals 210,000 gallons. Still, the size of the spill is likely to be adjusted in the next few days.

  90. says

    “More than a dozen top Trump campaign officials subpoenaed in Mueller probe”:

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller caught the Trump campaign by surprise last month, issuing a subpoena to more than a dozen officials despite the campaign’s voluntary compliance with his probe, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing a source.

    None of those who received the subpoena were compelled to testify before a grand jury, the Journal reported.

    “Sending a subpoena to an entity that says it has been cooperating with document requests isn’t unusual in cases in which prosecutors have some concern that their demands aren’t being met promptly or aren’t being entirely fulfilled,” the Journal wrote, citing former prosecutors….

  91. says

    This, I assume, is the Engel story referred to in #156 above – “A Panama tower carries Trump’s name and ties to organized crime”:

    …An NBC News investigation into the Trump Ocean Club, in conjunction with Reuters, shows that the project was riddled with brokers, customers and investors who have been linked to drug trafficking and international crime. Ceballos, who investigated the project, went as far as to call the skyscraper “a vehicle for money laundering.”

    The investigation revealed no indication that the Trump Organization or members of the Trump family engaged in any illegal activity, or knew of the criminal backgrounds of some of the project’s associates. But Ventura said that the Trumps never asked any questions about the buyers or where the money was coming from.

    Legal experts contacted by Reuters said the Trumps should have asked those questions. Because Panama is “perceived to be highly corrupt,” said Arthur Middlemiss, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan and a former head of JPMorgan’s global anti-corruption program, those who do business there should perform due diligence on others involved in their ventures. If they fail to do so, he told Reuters, they risk being liable under U.S. law of turning a blind eye to wrongdoing.

    Ivanka Trump, now senior adviser to President Donald Trump, did not respond to requests for comment about her involvement in the project, instead referring questions to the Trump Organization. In a statement, the company distanced itself from both Ventura and the Panama project.

    But Ventura says that the Trump family, and Ivanka Trump in particular, was involved in the details of the Trump Ocean Club, and that she interacted with him extensively.

    Ivanka Trump is featured in a promotional video for the Trump Ocean Club, made in 2011, in which she praises “the beautiful pool decks” and “our 10,000-square-foot spa.”

    “Buenos días,” she says in the video. “Hello, I’m Ivanka Trump. Welcome to Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower, Panama, rising 70 stories above the glistening Panama Bay. We’ve taken inspiration from the beauty that surrounds us to create a new landmark for Panama.” She goes on to discuss such details as the “tropical color palette” and the carvings on the guestroom headboards.

    “The Trump Organization has to approve everything because of his name on the project,” Ventura said, describing the project as Ivanka Trump’s “baby.”

    Ventura says about half of the units he sold at the Trump Ocean Club were to Russians.

    Ceballos, who says he investigated transactions related to the Trump Ocean Club during his stint as an anti-corruption prosecutor in Panama, describes the building as a magnet for international organized crime, particularly from Russia….

  92. says

    More truth about the GOP tax plan:

    […] White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders [said] that Donald Trump likes both of the competing tax plans being considered by the Republican-led House and Republican-led Senate. “Both bills achieve the president’s priorities,” she said. “That’s been his focus: tax cuts for middle-class families.”

    The argument might be more compelling if it in any way reflected reality. The GOP plan in the House increases taxes on millions of middle-class households, and as the Washington Post reported, the Senate GOP’s tax plan moves even more aggressively away from Trump’s purported “focus.”

    The tax bill Senate Republicans are championing would give large tax cuts to the rich while raising taxes on American families earning $10,000 to $75,000 over the next decade, according to a report released Thursday by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official nonpartisan analysts.

    […] Tax increases for households earning $10,000 to $30,000 would start in 2021 and grow sharply from there, JCT found. By 2027, most Americans earning $75,000 a year or less would be forced to pay more in taxes, while people earning more than $100,000 a year would continue to pay less.

    It’s worth emphasizing that the Joint Committee on Taxation is basically the Congressional Budget Office for tax bills. This isn’t a think tank or an advocacy organization; this is the congressional office responsible for scrutinizing tax bills for federal lawmakers.

    And right now, that scrutiny is telling senators that the current Republican legislation would raise taxes on American households earning less than $75,000. If the GOP’s goal is “tax cuts for middle-class families,” the Senate Republican’s proposal does the exact opposite.

    […] the Joint Committee on Taxation’s report is, to a degree, incomplete, but not in a way GOP officials can credibly complain about. For example, the analysis didn’t include the Republican tax plan’s repeal of the estate tax, which exclusively benefits multi-millionaires, and it doesn’t include the impact of repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which will disproportionately punish the poor and middle class.

    In other words, as damaging as the Joint Committee on Taxation’s latest analysis is for Republicans, the truth is actually a little worse.

    […] Republican leaders haven’t yet publicly acknowledged the evidence that suggests they had the entire story backwards.

    Link

  93. says

    Stunning. Horrifying. The attack on our judicial system is broader and more ambitious than we realized.

    In a memo to Congress, the founder and board chair of America’s most influential conservative legal society proposed a massive court-packing plan that would enable President Donald Trump to fill the judiciary with hundreds of new judges.

    The memo, co-authored by law professor and Federalist Society founder Steven G. Calabresi, proposes a monumental expansion of the federal judiciary. It also is not subtle about its motivations. As the memo states in its introduction, a major purpose of this court-packing scheme is “undoing the judicial legacy of President Barack Obama.” […]

    The ambition of Calabresi’s memo is, at times, staggering. At one point he proposes doubling or tripling the number of federal appellate court judgeships — claiming that “the optimal number of active circuit court judgeships is at least double the current number of 167 authorized judgeships… and more likely between 2.5x and 3x the current number.” He also proposes adding 185 trial judges to the 673 currently authorized by federal law […]

    The memo also seems to advise members of Congress to argue that this court-packing plan is necessary for politically neutral reasons, such as overworked courts. After a section captioned “Undoing President Barack Obama’s Judicial Legacy,” Calabresi follows up with this paragraph:

    One of the most straightforward ways for Republicans to address this problem is to make the case for a new judgeship bill that would enable the President to appoint a sufficient number of new judges that would help to change the balance of power on each of the circuit courts back to a conservative majority. This memorandum helps make that case by focusing on the problem of the federal courts’ caseloads and unpublished opinions.

    [….] Should Calabresi’s plan move forward, it could easily lead to the end of an independent judiciary in the United States. […]

    Link

  94. says

    With all of the attention to Roy Moore being a sexual predator and serial assaulter of girls, and to a lesser extent at the moment to his bigotry and lawlessness, we shouldn’t lose sight of his corruption; uncollegiality (he doesn’t appear to have been able to get along with colleagues in any sphere of his life – lived in fear soldiers in Vietnam would frag him! – but wants to join the country’s preeminent deliberative body); refusal to debate his opponent on the issues (the refusal preceded the allegations); shocking level of policy ignorance; or terrible, ill-formed policy ideas about health care, education, etc. which would do great harm to the people of Alabama.

  95. says

    SC @164, I think some of the voters in Alabama support Roy Moore as a way to say “fuck you” to Washington D.C., and to people they view as elitist and/or not godly.

    I don’t think most of the voters really knew that much about Roy Moore. Maybe now they are learning a bit more.

    I have always been surprised by how little voters know about the candidates they choose. This is just an extreme example of low-information-voting. Same old problem, but with potentially disastrous results if not solved in this case.

    Also, it is amazing how some people are able to filter out negative information about their candidate. They just don’t hear it, don’t read it, don’t absorb it.

  96. says

    And further re #164 – people aren’t paying attention to Doug Jones and the fact that he seems like a good man and a capable, qualified candidate with thoughtful policy ideas that will help Alabamians.

  97. says

    Wilbur Ross, like Trump, lies about money and about how much money he has:

    […] Two weeks ago, Forbes magazine reported that Ross [Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross], one of the president’s billionaire cabinet members, appears to have been lying about being a billionaire. The article explained, in striking candor, that “Ross lied” to the magazine, and the “fibs, exaggerations, omissions, fabrications and whoppers” have been ongoing for over a decade.

    This led the Bloomberg Billionaires Index to lower its net worth calculation for Ross to $860 million from $3 billion.

    […] Forbes reported this week:

    Six Senate Democrats requested an investigation of Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Monday, following reports that he apparently lied about his net worth and held onto investments in a shipping company that does business with a Russian enterprise partially owned by associates of Vladimir Putin. […]

    […] Their letter asked the Commerce Department’s inspector general to examine “whether Secretary Ross has provided fabrications about other assets or shielded the existence of assets, and the extent to which false representations impacted the evaluation of and implementation of the ethics agreements he must now follow.”

    […] I’m reminded of something the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank recently wrote: “Ross has a problem I do not have…. He is in Trump’s Cabinet because he is a putative billionaire, and Trump respects only billionaires and generals.”

    […] At a rally over the summer in Iowa, Trump explained why his administration is led in part by several Wall Street billionaires. “Somebody said, ‘Why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy. I said, ‘Because that’s the kind of thinking we want … because they’re representing the country. They don’t want the money.”

    “[…] those particular positions, I just don’t want a poor person.” In context, the “particular positions” included the Secretary of Commerce. Indeed, Trump added that Ross is a “legendary Wall Street genius.”

    The question now is, will the president still hold Ross in high regard now that the evidence suggests his net worth is only $860 million?

    Link

  98. says

    “Doug Jones Could Win in Alabama”: “While Moore has been garnering all of the attention lately, it is important to keep in mind that Democrats didn’t simply put up a place holder to run against him. Doug Jones is obviously not the most electrifying speaker, but he is a strong candidate with an exemplary record as U.S. Attorney and is running a great campaign.”

  99. blf says

    A follow-up to @435(previous page), about the outrageous case of apparent mistaken identify in Italy, Voice analysis ‘shows Italy has wrong man in people-smuggling case’:

    […]
    Forensic voice experts have presented evidence to a Palermo court showing a man Italian prosecutors have claimed for 18 months to be one of the world’s most wanted people-smugglers is a victim of mistaken identity.

    The voice of the Eritrean people-smuggling kingpin Medhanie Yehdego Mered, recorded in 2014, does not match that of the suspect arrested in Sudan last year […]

    […]

    “The result suggests that the detained boy is not the human trafficker Mered,” Prof Milko Grimaldi of the Centre for the Interdisciplinary Research on Language at Salento University told the court on Thursday.

    “We have used one the most accurate scientific methods in use around the world. With a margin of error of 1%, there is 99% certainty that Mered’s voice is not that of the man arrested — the highest result that can be obtained from this type of test.”

    Italian prosecutors, who have persistently refused to acknowledge they may have made an error, also submitted a voice test in which they too tried to match [Medhanie Tesfamariam] Berhe’s voice to the wiretaps of Mered.

    However, the software they used had no setting for Tigrinya, the language spoken by more than half of Eritrea’s population, and they instead carried out the test using Egyptian Arabic, an unrelated language with a different alphabet and pronunciation.

    Egyptian Arabic was “the closest geographical reference population” to Eritrea, the prosecutor’s expert, Marco Zonaro, told the court. But his tests’ wildly inconsistent results meant he could neither confirm nor exclude the possibility that the two voices belonged to the same man.

    […]

    Right. No witnesses to testify the suspect is Mered, Mered was in jail at the time of “his” arrest, Mered’s wife says the suspect is not Mered, the prosecutors won’t allow a DNA test showing the suspect is Berhe, the prosecutors’s own voice expert uses a rigged test but cannot confirm the suspect is Mered, unbiased tests confirm the suspect isn’t Mered, and so the prosecutors wiretap the Guardian.

  100. says

    Republican senator launches into angry diatribe after being confronted with basic facts of tax plan.

    […] “It would be nice, just tonight, before we go home, to just acknowledge well this tax cut really is not for the middle class it’s for the rich,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said. “And that whole thing about higher wages, well it’s a good selling point, but we know companies don’t just give away higher wages just because they have more money […] corporations are sitting on a lot of money now, they’re sitting on a lot of profits now, I don’t see wages going up. So just spare us the bankshot, spare us the sarcasm and the satire.”

    Brown was referring to the $4,000 dollar lie the White House and Congressional Republicans are using against Democrats who argue the bill is bad for middle class families. According to the GOP, cutting taxes for corporations would result in more jobs and higher wages resulting in a $4,000 dollar raise for the average American household. The brand of trickle-down economics, however, has proved itself to be unsuccessful.

    This seemed to have struck a nerve with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the Senate Finance Committee chair, who lashed out at Brown by using his working-class past to argue the tax plan is not a giveaway to the wealthy.

    “I come from the poor people, and I’ve been here working my whole stinking career for people who don’t have a chance,” Hatch shouted at Brown. “And I really resent anybody saying that I’m just doing this for the rich. Give me a break. I think you guys over play that all the time, and it gets old. And frankly, you ought to quit it.”

    Hatch went on to tell Brown he was “sick and tired” of the “overplayed” argument that the tax plan will be a boon to only the wealthy. […]

    During the exchange, Hatch was forced to fall back on claims about his own upbringing rather than dispute Brown’s substantive arguments. This is likely because there is no credible way to defend the tax plan, as study after study has proven it would actually raise taxes on middle class families. […]

  101. says

    Follow-up to comment 175.

    Here’s a better transcript of Senate Finance Committee Sen. Orrin Hatch’s rant:

    I come from the poor people, and I have been here working my whole stinkin’ career for people who don’t have a chance, and I really resent anybody that says I’m just doing it for the rich. Give me a break. I think you guys overplay all the time, and it gets old. And frankly, you ought to quit it.

    I get kind of sick and tired of it. True, it’s a nice political play. It’s not true…. What you said was not right. That’s all I’m saying, I come from the lower middle class, originally. We didn’t have anything. So don’t spew that stuff on me. I get a little tired of that crap. Let me just say something. If we worked together, we could pull this country out of every mess it is in. We could do a lot of the things that you are talking about, too…. [T]his bullcrap that you guys throw out here really gets old after a while.

  102. says

    Whoa – “Senate panel interested in Russians’ request for Trump meeting during campaign”:

    CBS News has learned that a Russian national requested a meeting with Donald Trump during the presidential campaign in May 2016, and the request is at the center of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s demand for more information from Jared Kushner.

    A source familiar with the document request says the “dinner invite” referred to an email requesting a meeting with a man named Alexander Torshin and a woman reported to be Torshin’s assistant, Maria Butina. The source says both claimed in the email to be members of an all-Russian organization called “The Right To Bear Arms.”

    According to the source, Torshin and Butina were hoping to meet then-candidate Trump and were eager for Mr. Trump to travel to Russia to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The request was made through an intermediary who was attached to a National Rifle Association (NRA) event in Kentucky.

    A source says the intermediary forwarded the five-page request to Trump campaign officials, including Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. Eventually it was forwarded to Kushner. The source, who has seen the email, says Kushner declined the request for a meeting, apparently commenting that people claiming to carry messages to the campaign rarely are.

    However, Torshin does have ties to the Kremlin….

    Torshin and Butina in fact met with the campaign more than once during the campaign, as detailed here.

  103. says

    “Doubts surface about key witness in Uranium One probe of Clinton”:

    Federal officials have serious questions about the credibility of a key witness in congressional investigations of Hillary Clinton’s role in the sale of a uranium-mining company to Russian interests, two sources knowledgeable about the case tell Yahoo News.

    The witness, a Florida businessman and former FBI informant named William Douglas Campbell, was considered so unreliable that prosecutors* dropped him as a witness in an unrelated case involving Russian uranium sales, according to the sources.

    Toensing, Campbell’s lawyer, said that Campbell would be able to tell Congress that discussions about the Uranium One sale were raised by Russian officials during his dealings with them. But sources who spoke to Yahoo News said that during the course of hours of interrogations by the FBI and Justice Department lawyers, Campbell never mentioned any connection between Mikerin’s dealings and the sale of Uranium One. Nor did he ever volunteer that he had documents or information relating to the Uranium One sale. The issue, one of the sources said, never came up.

    * The lead prosecutor was Rod Rosenstein.

  104. says

    “Turkey FM: @PreetBharara was ‘very close’ to Gulen and used the same indictment prosecutors filed against Zarrab in Turkey after corruption allegations shook the country in 2013.”

    Bharara: “Turkey FM is a liar. Now let’s see what happens in court.”

  105. says

    NBC story about #177 contains the following:

    While Kushner told Dearborn and other campaign officials on the email not to accept Torshin’s offer, Torshin was seated with the candidate’s son, Donald Trump Jr., during a private dinner on the sidelines of an NRA event during the convention in Louisville, according to an account Torshin gave to Bloomberg. Congressional investigators have no clear explanation for how that came to be, according to sources familiar with the matter.

    and

    One source familiar with Kushner’s testimony before congressional intelligence committees said he specifically denied, under oath, that he was familiar with any attempts by WikiLeaks to contact the campaign. But, according to the source, Kushner was sent an email by Trump Jr. about his conversations on Twitter with WikiLeaks, which were first disclosed by the Atlantic this week. Kushner forwarded an email about the WikiLeaks conversations to communications director Hope Hicks, the source said. A second source familiar with Kushner’s testimony did not dispute that account.

  106. says

    I hate this tweet. Gabby Douglas isn’t a brand – she’s a human being. She’s 21, was raised in a very religious family, and has lived in a partitioned world. I said very similar things when I was older than she is now, because I was ignorant. She hasn’t “tanked” anything. She just made a mistake. Let her grow.

  107. says

    “The Ex-Spy Behind the Trump-Russia Dossier Left a Clue for Mueller”:

    …In December of last year, Steele informed Luke Harding, a journalist for the Guardian, that “the contracts for the hotel deals and land deals” between Trump and individuals with the Kremlin ties warrant investigation. “Check their values against the money Trump secured via loans,” the former spy said, according to a conversation detailed in Harding’s new book, Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win. “The difference is what’s important.”

    ( Journalists seem to think there’s a requirement that any reference to the “dossier” has to include a stock adjective: infamous, notorious, salacious.)

  108. says

    “Birmingham Young Republicans censure Roy Moore, pull endorsement”:

    The Greater Birmingham Young Republicans voted Thursday to pull its endorsement of Roy Moore and censure the U.S. Senate candidate at its monthly meeting, saying it believes in the concept of innocent until proven guilty but not “electability until proven guilty.”

    The group also called on the Alabama Republican Party Steering Committee, which has the power to decertify Moore’s ballot access and void his votes on Dec. 12, to do the same. Earlier on Thursday, the steering committee sent out a statement affirming its support of Moore, adding that Moore’s fate should be decided by voters and not “the media or those from afar.”

  109. says

    #LEBANON: Hariri held talks (& family lunch) with Emmanuel Macron. On exit: ‘I will return to Beirut in coming days. I will participate in celebrations for our independence & it is there that I will make known my position on all issues’.”

  110. says

    “Signs of Russian Meddling in Brexit Referendum”:

    More than 150,000 Russian-language Twitter accounts posted tens of thousands of messages in English urging Britain to leave the European Union in the days before last year’s referendum on the issue, a team of researchers disclosed on Wednesday.

    More than 400 of the accounts that Twitter has already identified to congressional investigators as tools of the Kremlin, other researchers said, also posted divisive messages about Britain’s decision on withdrawing from the bloc, or Brexit, both before and after the vote.

    Most of the messages sought to inflame fears about Muslims and immigrants to help drive the vote, suggesting parallels to the strategy that Russian propagandists employed in the United States in the 2016 election to try to intensify the polarization of the electorate.

    The separate findings amount to the strongest evidence yet of a Russian attempt to use social media to manipulate British politics in the same way the Kremlin has done in the United States, France and elsewhere.

    Taken together, the flurry of reports and accusations adds to growing pressure on Twitter, Facebook and other social media companies to disclose more of their internal records about advertising payments and account registrations, information essential to illuminating the extent of Russian meddling in the referendum on Brexit.

    Any evidence that Moscow did, however, may also complicate the already vexed politics surrounding the issue.

    Social media companies disclosed Russia’s role in the American election only after prodding by Congress….

    But the British government, consumed by the negotiations for an exit from the European Union, has not yet obtained similar disclosures. Although a parliamentary committee recently asked the social media companies for information, many critics have argued that the government has little appetite for an inquiry that could muddy its mandate.

    The social media companies, including Facebook, Twitter and Google, have had little incentive to volunteer information about the exploitation of their own platforms. And the predominantly right-wing, pro-Brexit British press, particularly the powerful tabloids, have little enthusiasm for undermining the validity of the referendum.

    That dynamic may now be changing….

  111. says

    “The Catastrophe of Saudi Arabia’s Trump-Backed Intervention in Yemen”:

    …On Thursday, the heads of three United Nations relief agencies called on a nine-nation military coalition led by Saudi Arabia to end a tightened blockade it imposed on Yemen after Houthi rebels fired a ballistic missile into Riyadh, the Saudi capital, last weekend. “Closure of much of the country’s air, sea and land ports is making an already catastrophic situation far worse,” a joint statement issued by the United Nations Children’s Fund, World Food Program, and World Health Organization, said. “The space and access we need to deliver humanitarian assistance is being choked off, threatening the lives of millions of vulnerable children and families.”

    The U.N. officials said that more than twenty million people, including more than eleven million children, are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance; at least 14.8 million lack basic medical care, and a cholera outbreak has infected more than nine hundred thousand….

  112. says

    “‘We lost a great leader’: Berta Cáceres still inspires as murder case takes fresh twist”:

    …Cáceres, who won the Goldman environmental prize for her work with Copinh, was gunned down in her home in the early hours of 3 March 2016. She had led the protest against the construction of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam in Río Blanco, western Honduras. Gustavo Castro Soto, a Mexican environmental activist, was injured in the attack.

    Eight men have been charged with the murder of Cáceres, who was under state protection at the time after receiving numerous death threats. Two of the accused worked at the company leading the construction of the dam, Desarrollos Energéticos SA.

    Cáceres’ family and supporters have always suspected the involvement of state officials in her killing. Last year, a Guardian investigation revealed the existence of leaked court documents linking the planning of the murder to military intelligence specialists connected with the country’s US–trained special forces.

    Earlier this month, a report published by an expert group of lawyers concluded that senior managers in the company allegedly had a hand in her murder. The company has always denied any involvement. In response to the report, it said the company had never been involved in any violence and that information in the report had been taken out of context and “does not reflect reality”. The report was intended to create problems in the run up to the country’s elections later this month, it added.

    Domínguez Madrid said that Cáceres’ death threw the international spotlight on the battle for land rights in Honduras – the deadliest place to be an environmental activist, according to the organisation Global Witness. More than 120 activists have been murdered for trying to protect the land or environment since the country’s 2009 coup. Copinh member Tomás García was murdered just months before Cáceres, and most attacks have gone unpunished.

    Many more activists say they have been threatened with violence, or have faced intimidation and even sexual assault by police, members of the military or those paid to keep activists out of the way. Women, who have been at the centre of the protests in Río Blanco, face the added threats of abuse from their own families and communities, as machismo culture often relegates women to the sole role of homemaker.

    Santos Domínguez knows that peace for the Lenca in Río Blanco will not come until those who authorised Cáceres’ murder are behind bars and the land rights for her people are recognised.

    “Because we are poor they think we don’t know anything … But they are wrong because we are organised and we can protect ourselves from them,” she said.

    “They murdered Berta and they thought that, with her dead, we would not continue – but we showed them we can.”

  113. says

    From Adam Davidson, writing for The New Yorker:

    If it gives us nothing else positive, the Republican tax plan—and, in its Senate form, the health-care repeal—at least provides clarity. There is no debate. The middle class will, in the long run, pay more in taxes than under current law, and the rich will pay less. […]

    The numbers are in and it’s clear: this tax bill helps the rich and hurts everybody else. Just ask the very people who wrote it. The U.S. Congress Joint Committee on Taxation is run by the chairs of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee—Representative Kevin Brady and Senator Orrin Hatch, respectively. The Joint Committee’s reports of this week make startling reading, or as startling as a series of spreadsheets of tax revenue data can be.

    The report shows that this bill is much like a teaser rate on a new credit card: there are some goodies in the first couple of years, but those disappear fairly quickly, at least for those below the median income. In 2019, the first full year that this bill would be law, the benefits are concentrated on the bottom of the income stream, with middle-class people, on average, paying just under ten per cent less in taxes than they would if the law weren’t passed. With each passing year the benefits shift upward, toward the rich. By 2021, those making between twenty thousand and thirty thousand dollars a year are paying considerably more in taxes, those between thirty thousand and two hundred thousand see their benefit shrinking, and those making more start to see their taxes falling. By 2027, every income level below seventy-five thousand dollars a year sees a tax increase, while everybody above that level sees a continued decrease, with the greatest cut in taxes accruing to those making more than a million dollars a year.

    The report shows that the rich benefit and the poor are hurt in every way that it measures. For example, the effective tax rate—meaning the percentage that people, on average, actually pay after they take all deductions—changes in a precisely regressive form. The poorer you are, the higher your effective rate will rise. […]

  114. blf says

    Harvey Weinstein had secret hitlist of names to quash sex scandal:

    Producer hired team to investigate 91 film industry figures in attempt to stop harassment claims going public

    The Observer has gained access to a secret hitlist of almost 100 prominent individuals targeted by Harvey Weinstein in an extraordinary attempt to discover what they knew about sexual misconduct claims against him and whether they were intending to go public.

    The previously undisclosed list contains a total of 91 actors, publicists, producers, financiers and others working in the film industry, all of whom Weinstein allegedly identified as part of an extraordinary strategy to prevent accusers from going public with sexual misconduct claims against him.

    The names, apparently drawn up by Weinstein himself, were distributed to a team hired by the film producer to suppress claims that he had sexually harassed or assaulted numerous women.

    The document was compiled in early 2017, around nine months before the storm that blew up on 5 October when the New York Times published a series of sexual harassment allegations against Weinstein.

    Individuals named on the list were to be targeted by investigators who would covertly extract and accumulate information from those who might know of claims or who might come forward with allegations against the film producer. Feedback was then to be relayed to Weinstein and his lawyers.

    The size of the list […] appears to corroborate claims that sexual misconduct allegations against the 65-year-old were an open secret throughout Hollywood.

    […]

  115. says

    Our Whiney Toddler in Chief is not happy with all of the feedback he is getting after three UCLA basketball players were released from custody in China:

    Now that the three basketball players are out of China and saved from years in jail, LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo, is unaccepting of what I did for his son and that shoplifting is no big deal. I should have left them in jail!

    What did LaVar Ball say?

    […] LaVar Ball, the father of LiAngelo Ball, a UCLA freshman who was detained in Hangzhou following allegations of shoplifting, on Friday said “Who?” when asked about Trump’s involvement in his son’s release from custody.

    “What was he over there for? Don’t tell me nothing,” LaVar Ball told ESPN. “Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out.”

    Trump should have just let that go. Also, the three players already publicly thanked Trump. Trump is a black hole of neediness. You can never praise him enough.

  116. says

    Newspapers in Alabama have condemned Roy Moore on their front pages. They have also endorsed Doug Jones. I hope this makes a difference in Alabama.

    From The Birmingham News

    This election is a turning point for women in Alabama. A chance to make their voices heard in a state that has silenced them for too long. […]

    Every day new allegations arise that illustrate a pattern of a man in his 30s strutting through town like the cock of the walk, courting and preying on young women and girls. And though Roy Moore has denied the accusations of these women, his own platform and record is hostile to so many Alabamians.

    Unlike the national party, the Alabama Republican establishment has chosen to stand by him, attacking and belittling the brave women who have come forward.

    As a news organization, we have independently investigated stories of several Alabama woman who have spoken to us and the Washington Post about the abuse they say they suffered at the hands of Roy Moore decades ago.
    The seriousness of these incidents, including one involving a 14-year-old child, cannot be overstated. […]

    Do not let this conversation be muddled. This election has become a referendum on whether we will accept this kind of behavior from our leaders. […]

    How can we look our neighbors, our parishioners, our colleagues, our partners, or our children in the eyes and tell them they are worth less than ensuring one political party keeps a Senate seat? How can we expect young Alabamians to have faith in their government or their church, when its leaders equivocate on matters as clear cut as sexual abuse?

    A vote for Roy Moore sends the worst kind of message to Alabamians struggling with abuse: “if you ever do tell your story, Alabama won’t believe you.” […]

    There is only one candidate left in this race who has proven worthy of the task of representing Alabama. He is Doug Jones.

    Link

  117. says

    A New Jersey constituent excoriated Republican House Rep McArthur:

    […]You have been the single greatest threat to my family in the entire world. YOU are the reason I stay up at night. YOU are the reason that I can’t sleep.

    My wife was diagnosed with cancer when she was 40-years-old. She beat it, but every day, every day, she lives with it. […] Is it gonna kill me this time? Is it gonna take me away from my children?” Speaking of which, my children both have pre-existing conditions from birth: one cardiac, one thyroid.

    What happens if I loose my job? […]

    If I lose my job, I can’t afford Cobra. We can’t afford to get private insurance. We get it from my employer. If I lose it, it’s gone. If I lose my job on a Monday, if I’m lucky enough to find a job on Tuesday, which never happens, they will not have insurance ready for me. I will not be eligible for three to six months. If I lapse my coverage within 63 days, suddenly, I’m in a high-risk pool.

    My pre-existing conditions which I don’t give a shit about—come after me. Come after me, I don’t care. But you came after my wife. You came after my wife and kids.

    I work in healthcare and I know it’s complicated. The only one who doesn’t know it’s complicated is the orange-haired buffoon sitting in the White House. And you’re working with him to take something that he doesn’t understand, that he won’t be responsible for, because he’s going to be fine.

    You’re working with him and your’e working with [Paul] Ryan. You’re working with people who don’t care about us! You want to make something better, you could have made the ACA better, directly. […]

    Healthcare is not a “good.” You do not buy insurance the same way you buy a car or the same way you buy a house. This is the point—health insurance as a for-profit business is immoral. When I’m drowning and you insist I pay before you will save me? That’s immoral, Sir!

    The first words you said in Waretown: “I’m not Donald Trump.” Well, I got an orange wig you might as well put it on. […]

    Link

    Video available at the link. Powerful.

  118. says

    From March 1986:

    […] Dubinina [daughter of Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin] said she picked up her father at the airport. It was his first time in New York City. She took him on a tour. The first building they saw was Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, she told Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. Dubinin was so excited he decided to go inside to meet the building’s owner. They got into the elevator. At the top, Dubinina said, they met Trump.

    The ambassador—“fluent in English and a brilliant master of negotiations”—charmed the busy Trump, telling him: “The first thing I saw in the city is your tower!”

    Dubinina said: “Trump melted at once. He is an emotional person, somewhat impulsive. He needs recognition. And, of course, when he gets it he likes it. My father’s visit worked on him [Trump] like honey to a bee.” […]

    In Dubinina’s account she admits her father was trying to hook Trump. The man from Moscow wasn’t a wide-eyed rube but a veteran diplomat who served in France and Spain, and translated for Nikita Khrushchev when he met with Charles de Gaulle at the Elysée Palace in Paris. He had seen plenty of impressive buildings. Weeks after his first Trump meeting, Dubinin was named Soviet ambassador to Washington. […]

    […] Dubinin’s invitation to Trump to visit Moscow looks like a classic cultivation exercise, which would have had the KGB’s full support and approval. […]

  119. says

    Lynna, I won’t be around tomorrow (I get to go to the pain clinic for my birthday), so Happy Birthday to You! I hope it’s a good one.

  120. says

    Caine @210, that’s so nice of you to remember my birthday! Many thanks.

    As far as the pain clinic goes, I can only wsth you the best possible outcome. May your pain be a little less, especially on your birthday. We celebrate your birth, and every day thereafter when you are here with us.

  121. says

    SC @208, Representative Adam Schiff got it right:

    The President would have left American students in a foreign jail because their families didn’t lavish sufficient praise on him. How can someone in such a big office be so small?

  122. says

    “Make Nepotism Great Again: 20 Families Got Jobs in Trump Administration”: “A Daily Beast examination of public records reveals that there are at least 20 families, joined by either blood or marriage, in which multiple members hold some federal post or appointment. They include the families of some of Trump’s most prominent campaign supporters and agency officials, including one cabinet officer. The posts range from senior White House staff to more ceremonial and advisory positions.”

  123. says

    Rep. Wilson: “General Kelly owes the nation an apology. When he lied about me, he lied to the American public.”

    He does, and no one should let it go just because other news intervened. Kelly’s performance in this episode was appalling and dishonored every institution he represents.

  124. says

    “Special counsel sends wide-ranging request for documents to Justice Department”:

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating whether President Donald Trump sought to obstruct a federal inquiry into connections between his presidential campaign and Russian operatives has now directed the Justice Department to turn over a broad array of documents, ABC News has learned.

    In particular, Mueller’s investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter, according to a source who has not seen the specific request but was told about it.

    Issued within the past month, the directive marks the special counsel’s first records request to the Justice Department, and it means Mueller is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation….

  125. says

    BLATANT: @ACUConservative [the American Conservative Union, the organization that runs CPAC – SC] ADMITS it was paid $90k to illegally launder $1.71M from a mysterious LLC” to a GOP super PAC. The 3 entities were fined $350k for the scheme by the @FEC.”

    I’m interested in whether some of these rightwing organizations have been involved in international money-laundering.

    * The mysterious LLC is – you can’t make this up – Government Integrity, LLC.

  126. says

    SC @214, thanks! And I love that S&L segment. It’s the best. Laughter. That’s what I need for my birthday.

    Also, to everyone who wished me a happy birthday on this thread, many thanks. What a treat it is to come here to catch up on the news and to find good wishes sent my way. Love you all … (most of the time).

  127. says

    “EXCLUSIVE: 30 Sources Expose Sexually Explicit Evidence of Harassment by Ohio GOP Rep Wes Goodman”: “Disgraced Ohio State Representative Wes Goodman — a Republican — in the wake of the lawmaker’s recently-revealed sex scandal and resignation is being accused by dozens of people of sexual misconduct. IJR has obtained testimonies from over 30 individuals who have had inappropriate and never-before-shared experiences with Goodman….”

  128. says

    Trump touts another airplane deal that doesn’t exist.

    Donald Trump’s recent Asia-Pacific trip was largely a bust. [Trump] helped China, watched helplessly as former U.S. trade partners forged a deal without us, and instead of taking a stand in support of human rights, cozied up to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

    Trump nevertheless […] boasted upon his return about […] Japan’s new investments in its own military. “This will include purchases of U.S. advanced capabilities,” he said at a White House event last week, including “jet fighters.”

    The New York Times noted that Trump’s claim appears to be wrong.

    The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency has yet to notify Congress of any intended sale, which must happen before negotiations can begin.

    Japanese officials have also pushed back at the notion. In a report in The Japan Times last week, the Japanese chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said that Tokyo was following its existing defense procurement plan that was approved more than three years before Mr. Trump took office.

    […] And while this may seem like a fairly modest falsehood by Trump standards, this reminded me of a larger thesis: the president says a lot of weird stuff about airplanes.

    For example, over the summer, Trump hosted a White House press conference alongside President Sauli Niinisto of Finland, in which the American leader proclaimed that Finland is “purchasing large amounts of our great F-18 aircraft.”

    According to Finland, there is no such agreement in place.

    Trump has also been caught falsely bragging about lowering the price of a new Air Force One. He’s also repeatedly claimed to have done extraordinary work saving taxpayers millions on F-35 fighter jets, which is also demonstrably wrong.

    Last week, Trump even made up a bizarre story about Barack Obama, while aboard Air Force One, trying and failing to land in the Philippines last year. […]

    Yeah, that’s a lot of lies centered around one topic.

  129. says

    From Josh Marshall, a discussion of the connections between Russia and the evangelical religious rightwing in the USA:

    […] many Russians have spent a decade cultivating relationships with the evangelical right in the United States. […] The evangelical right in the US – along with other rightist political formations in Western Europe – has come to see Vladimir Putin’s Russia as the logical head of a kind of white, Christian, authoritarian ‘international’, as the US and Europe have become less white and more culturally permissive.

    An analogous building of bonds has taken place between Russia and the NRA, […] the gun rights and right-wing evangelical community overlap to a significant extent. […]

    […] in recent days we’ve seen Alexander Torshin’s name come up again in the Russia story. He’s a key player in ties between Russia and the NRA. He’s also close to Vladimir Putin and, allegedly, Russian organized crime. [Snipped reference to “Russian backdoor overture” and Jared Kushner.] That was Torshin’s approach to a West Virginia-based evangelical activist named Rick Clay. Clay wanted to “get two sides together to talk about Christian values.”

    […] Sam Clovis, an increasingly central player in the Russia story, had strongly pro-Russian views on Ukraine well before Trump’s campaign even started. Clovis came to Trump’s campaign as a major player in conservative evangelical political circles. […]

    The relevance for today is that these were in many cases the channels through which approaches to the Trump world were made. It was furthered by the fact that Trump very early on made his tightest and most enduring political alliance with the evangelical right. It all fits together, not as a broad conspiracy necessarily but as different parts of a complex puzzle, all of which came together in 2016.

    Since ties between Russia and the evangelical right are partly organic and vastly more broadly based than whatever relationship Russia has with the Trump family we should expect it to continue long after Trump.

  130. says

    More absolutely awful statements from the backers of Roy Moore in Alabama:

    […] “I don’t know how much these women are getting paid, but I can only believe they’re getting a healthy sum,” said pastor Earl Wise, a Moore supporter from Millbrook, Ala.

    Wise said he would support Moore even if the allegations were true and the candidate was proved to have sexually molested teenage girls and women.

    “There ought to be a statute of limitations on this stuff,” Wise said. “How these gals came up with this, I don’t know. They must have had some sweet dreams somewhere down the line.

    “Plus,” he added, “there are some 14-year-olds, who, the way they look, could pass for 20.” […]

    Link

    Conclusion: some Alabama pastors do not even know that preying on 14-year-old girls is wrong.

  131. says

    “I know Roy Moore. He’s always been a con artist.”

    Since it talks about Moore’s absurd claim that (in the author’s words) “the founders were aware of no religion other than Christianity, and therefore, the First Amendment gave only Christians the right to free exercise” and also about Baptist founder Roger Williams, it’s worth noting that the Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI, has been there since 1763 and the Jewish cemetery there since at least 1677.

  132. blf says

    Another hair furor appointment targeting life on the planet, Modern air is too clean: the rise of air pollution denial:

    US sceptics [sic] are questioning the science behind air pollution and mortality, a trend that is starting to appear in countries where the air is much more toxic

    Despite report after report linking air pollution to deterioration of the lungs, heart and brain, Prof Robert Phalen believes the air is “too clean” for children.

    After all, everybody needs a bit of immune-system-boosting dirt in their lungs.

    Modern air is a little too clean for optimum health, he told the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) […] in 2012.

    My most important role in science is causing trouble and controversy, he added.

    No, it’s to sow FUD — Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt — probably for pay.

    […]
    Last week, the Washington Post and E&E News published a list of people expected to be appointed as new scientific advisers by the EPA.

    Some have operated within groups that have long denied climate change science. And now they are doing the same with air pollution.

    For example, Stanley Young is a statistician at climate denial group the Heartland Institute. He wrote in a statistical blog in 2014 that the science literature{…} is on the side that increased ozone and PM2.5 are not associated with increased deaths. (He also states that temperature rise is good for humans.)

    Now the director of the air pollution health effects laboratory at the University of California, Irvine, is set to be appointed as a scientific adviser by Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

    [… a long list of examples from around the world …]

    [… I]in the US, Janice Nolen, assistant vice-president at the American Lung Association (ALA), has already been noticing a difference since the Trump administration came into power.

    The ALA is part of a coalition of groups now suing the EPA for delaying the implementation of smog standards. Nolan says that it is “unusual” for the government to miss the routine deadline.

    “We are seeing a lot of things that were routinely done under previous administrations not being done under this one,” she says.

  133. blf says

    Re @231, I’m certain I’ve seen people going about that speed (in the UK, where 119 mph is still significantly above the limit (70 mph at the time)). From memory, the record speeding was in Texas, something around 240 mph in a Swedish-built Koenigsegg (this was the first time I’d ever heard of that make of exotic & expensive car); I don’t recall what fine / penalty the driver got.

  134. KG says

    The UK Electoral Commission has reopened its investigation into possible breaching of the limits set on referendum spending by the official “Vote Leave” campaign, following pressure froma group of lawyers who have started a case against the Commission. It is already investigating spending by Farage’s outfit, Leave.EU, but also by the anti-Brexit campaign Britain Stronger in Europe.

    Together with recent information about Russian social media activity on Brexit during (and after) the vote, the hazy possibility of a campaign for a re-vote (as distinct from a second vote, on the outcome of negotiations) appears on the horizon. I still don’t think either is likely, but less unlikely than a couple of months ago.

  135. KG says

    Merkel has failed to put together a coalition with a majority in the German Bundestag after the FPD (once classed as a “liberal” centrist party in European terms, now hardline-neoliberal in economics and increasingly anti-migrant) pulled out of negotiations with the CDU-CSU and the Greens. A new election looks likely. The SPD has reconfirmed that it will not enter a “grand coalition” with Merkel’s CDU-CSU (the last was electorally disastrous for them, and it would also make the proto-fascist AfD the official opposition), and Merkel does not seem to have the stomach for a minority government.

  136. says

    Re @231, I’m certain I’ve seen people going about that speed (in the UK, where 119 mph is still significantly above the limit (70 mph at the time)).

    It’s crazy dangerous.

  137. says

    The UK Electoral Commission has reopened its investigation into possible breaching of the limits set on referendum spending by the official “Vote Leave” campaign, following pressure froma group of lawyers who have started a case against the Commission. It is already investigating spending by Farage’s outfit, Leave.EU, but also by the anti-Brexit campaign Britain Stronger in Europe.

    Together with recent information about Russian social media activity on Brexit during (and after) the vote, the hazy possibility of a campaign for a re-vote (as distinct from a second vote, on the outcome of negotiations) appears on the horizon. I still don’t think either is likely, but less unlikely than a couple of months ago.

    Now that is welcome news.

  138. blf says

    Why is Donald Trump launching a withering attack on nonprofits?:

    [… T]he right’s love affair with philanthropy and civil society has fizzled. Donald Trump — whose claims of generous giving were debunked during the campaign — has shown no interest in forging partnerships between government and philanthropy since taking office. He has wooed a parade of business executives and minor celebrities while largely ignoring leaders from the nonprofit world — save for allies on the religious right such as Jerry Falwell Jr.

    The administration’s proposed cuts to agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Endowment for the Arts would choke off billions of dollars in grants that flow to universities, hospitals, museums and community development groups.

    Now, Republicans in Congress are advancing tax proposals that would lower charitable giving by billions of dollars and deal a major blow to the nonprofit sector.

    The Republican’s new cold shoulder toward nonprofits — which employ 10% of the labor force and enrich every corner of American life — isn’t so surprising. It reflects the rising grip of libertarianism within the party, as well as a tribal fixation with cultural enemies.

    […]

    A Trump-dominated Republican party seems to have no such social conscience. And, increasingly, the populist right views the nonprofit world with hostility.

    In other countries that have veered into authoritarianism, like Russia, civil society groups have faced outright suppression. Nothing like that is happening in the US yet, but Trumpist culture warriors have cast nonprofits and philanthropists as key villains in a narrative that pits coastal elites against the common (white) man.

    […]

    According to an analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation provisions of the recently passed House bill — specifically, a doubling of the standard deduction — 31 million taxpayers would no longer be incentivized to make charitable deductions, gutting a tax break that has helped spur giving for 100 years.

    Scrapping the estate tax […] would lower donations by eliminating a major incentive for the wealthiest Americans to devote large fortunes to philanthropy.

    […]

    The opinion column does point out there are some legitimate problems with charitable donations in the States, but that the thugs’s tax reform plans do nothing sensible to address or, at the least, not-exacerbate the problems. Instead new problems are added, and the existing problems possibly made worse.

  139. says

    The dogged Carole Cadwalladr links to this BuzzFeed article from almost a year ago giving the background on the Vote Leave investigation. Here’s a piece from her this May (I’m sure I inked to it at the time) talking about the connections with the Mercers:

    This story may involve a complex web of connections, but it all comes back to Cambridge Analytica. It all comes back to Mercer. Because the connections must have been evident. “AggregateIQ may not have belonged to the Mercers but they exist within his world,” David told me. “Almost all of their contracts came from Cambridge Analytica or Mercer. They wouldn’t exist without them. During the whole time the referendum was going on, they were working every day on the [Ted] Cruz campaign with Mercer and Cambridge Analytica. AggregateIQ built and ran Cambridge Analytica’s database platforms.”

  140. says

    KG @234, I’m sorry to see that news. I thought of Merkel as a bulwark against Trumpism, but that is a role she can’t fill if the country she governs is unstable. This is bad news for all of us.

    Germany’s far rightwing politicians tripled their share of the vote in the last election. That vote is still only 12.6%, but that’s enough to make the far-right the third largest party in Germany, which is a scary thing to contemplate.

    I wish that journalists would stop calling the anti-democratic movements “populist.” Populism sounds half-assed positive, but it is a movement that supports regressive, suppressive and anti-democratic policies. Substitute “Trumpism” and you get the idea.

  141. says

    “Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page held high-level meetings with Hungarian officials in Budapest”:

    Travels by Trump campaign adviser Carter Page to meet with senior officials in Hungary during the 2016 presidential election are being closely examined by congressional investigators, given the increasingly close ties between Hungary and Russia and the role of the country as a hub for Russian intelligence activity. The Hungarian prime minister was the first foreign leader to endorse Donald Trump’s candidacy.

    Though characterized as a low-level volunteer, Page held high-level foreign policy meetings with Hungarian officials before the 2016 presidential election, ABC News has learned.

    The meetings included a 45-minute session in September 2016 with Jeno Megyesy, who is a close adviser to the Hungarian prime minister and focuses on relations with the United States, at his office in Budapest, where Page presented himself as a member of then-candidate Donald Trump’s foreign policy team.

    Megyesy confirmed to ABC News in an interview Friday that he met with Page at the request of Reka Szemerkenyi, the Hungarian ambassador to the U.S….

    When questioned by Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the committee, during a hearing in early November, however, Page had only hazy memories of the trip. He said that he remembered seeing a Hungarian official, but he could not recall who it was.

    Megyesy said no outsiders attended his meeting with Page, but when Schiff asked Page directly if he met with any Russians during his visit to Hungary, his answer was a bit more vague.

    “There may have been one Russian person passing through there,” Page responded. “But I have no recollection because it was totally immaterial and nothing serious was discussed.”

  142. John Morales says

    re #228, I admit I actually chortled. Very droll.

    OT, but I note that I am a motorbike rider (never got my car license), and… well, what’s the point of having a bike that can do 300Km/h if you don’t give it a bit of stick now and then? Just got to do it at the right time in the right place.

  143. says

    Cadwalladr:

    Re-cap: new investigation into Vote Leave, BeLeave & Vets for Leave. 2 wks ago: new investigation: Arron Banks’ donations. Ongoing investigations into: Leave.EU, Go, Goddard Gunster & Cambridge Analytica. And by ICO: CA + data + politics.
    But other than that it all looks fine.

  144. blf says

    Florida university students to counter neo-Nazi rally (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    Let SDS {Students for a Democratic Society} and the other clowns come at me, I will shut them down, [Ken Parker] wrote in the post that was accompanied by a photo in which Parker is shirtless and wielding a rifle. Tattooed on his chest is a large swastika.

    Parker is a former Grand Dragon in the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and a member of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), according to an expose published by The Tab, a university news site for schools in the US and UK.

    Speaking to the local Action News Jax, Parker defended his comments and said he did not believe they constituted a threat.

    […]

    “Law enforcement practice is to request that there isn’t a counterprotest. There’s always a possibility of friction between the opposing parties,” [University of N.Florida (UNF) President John] Delaney added, urging both sides to “protest peaceably”.

    In response, [SDS President Monique] Williamson […] said: “Do you really want students to not push back against Nazis on campus? That’s unacceptable.”

    According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) […], the NSM is the largest neo-Nazi organisation in the US and had 61 chapters in 35 states in 2009.

    Speaking to Al Jazeera by email, NSM Commander Jeff Schoepp confirmed that Parker is a member of his organisation. He referred to the suspension of Parker [by UNF] for making the above-quoted threat on a BLM group’s Facebook page] as part of a political witch-hunt, pure and simple.

    White nationalism is rising, and if these left-wing lunatics expect to be treated fairly when our time arrives, they had better quit their punch-a-Nazi-and-kill-white-people ideology right now{…} or it could come back to bite them later on when the tables have turned, Schoepp said.

    […]

    The nazi march and anti-nazi counter-demonstration at UNF happens on “Monday”, which I think means today (20-Nov) — and since it’s now about 6pm, maybe has happened (or now is underway?).

  145. blf says

    Speaking of motobikes, a past colleague of mine, who was an enthusiastic motorbiker in the States, said he like motorbiking in Canada for two reasons: (1) The highways (he rode on at that time) weren’t too busy; and (2) The speed limit, which is in kph, was a good indication, when read as mph, of the maximum safe speed. That is, a posted limit of, say, 100 kph (c.62 mph) meant it was safe to go at 100 mph. Uuggghhhhh…

  146. says

    “FCC is expected to unveil its plan to destroy net neutrality during Thanksgiving week”:

    While Americans are busy traveling, paying attention to Black Friday deals, and spending time with family, the Federal Communications Commission will be rolling out its least popular proposal of the year: its final plan to dismantle net neutrality — the set of rules that prevent internet providers from giving some websites and internet traffic an advantage over others. According to The Wall Street Journal, the FCC is expected to unveil its proposal this week, less than three months after the public comment period ended on the initial proposal. The process generated 22 million comments for the commission to read and consider.

    The FCC’s final proposal is likely to completely undo the strict net neutrality rules that the FCC enacted just two years ago. To do that, the proposal will have to reclassify internet providers as information services, under Title I of the Communications Act, instead of common carriers, under Title II of the Act. This seemingly dull legal distinction is the difference between giving the FCC some oversight of ISPs (Title I) and the ability to place rigorous consumer protections on them (Title II)….

  147. says

    They’re a bottomless pit:

    …Following Tur calling Moore an “accused pedophile,” Nunberg tried to avoid the topic by stating that even with Moore’s vote, there was a strong possibility the new tax bill would fail in the Senate.

    Then he brought up his own sister — which proved to be a big mistake.

    “It’s not realistic to look at eight Democrats at all to support legislation. There’s only three Democrats voting for it because they’re up your re-election,” Moore explained. “I’ll say this about Roy Moore once again; I’m not here to defend him. It’s reprehensible what he did, if it’s true, and if he did it to my sister, I would be in jail for my reaction would be.”

    “If he did it to your sister would you support the president campaigning with him?” Tur jumped in.

    “If he did it to my sister would I support the campaign?” a stunned Nunberg replied. “No, I wouldn’t.”

    Tur then pounced.

    “So if it’s somebody else’s sister or daughter it’s okay,” she pressed.

    “Because it was somebody else’s sister or daughter?” Nunberg repeated. “Look, these are accusations — look, if he did it. These are accusation. He’s not been charged.”

    (Why is anyone interviewing Nunberg?)

  148. John Morales says

    To be on topic politics: my own perception is that speeding on public roads is a politically-solvable problem.

    (Why can I have a bike that can do 300 kph? How fast can your vehicle go?)

    It’s quite technologically feasible to limit the maximum speed of pretty much any private vehicle with electronic systems (here in Oz, heavy vehicles are in fact speed-limited) or to retrofit older vehicles, yet every single vehicle (mopeds and personal mobility vehicles aside) sold here can easily exceed the (ridiculously low IMO) speed limit of (at most) 110 kph. Very easy to enforce, too — if you’re caught speeding, it’s obvious you bypassed the speed limiter and you get your vehicle impounded. For a first offense.

    But it evidently ain’t politically feasible.

    So, when politicians or police decry speeding (as they sanctimoniously do on a regular basis), I see utter hypocrisy.

    (Speeding fines are a great source of income for governments)

    In my personal experience, people travelling ~10-20 kph under the speed limit outside built-up areas are a more deadly menace that actual speedsters.

    (And, in passing, my wife has a 3-y.o (bought new) totally stock Alfa Romeo Giulietta. A comparison between the speedometer and GPS (TomTom) shows that 100 kph reads 107 kph on the speedo, which is probably rather typical, and probably explains why everyone seems to be slothing it around)

  149. KG says

    Lynna@241,

    I don’t agree with your favourable view of Merkel. True, she acted relatively well over refugees (I say relatively, because she was also prominent in pushing the infamous deal with Turkey), but her neoliberal policies are in considerable part responsible for the rise of the proto-fascist right (“Trumpism”, as you dub it) within the EU, and she was the power behind the disgraceful treatment of Greece.

    However, I agree that the instability within Germany is dangerous: a fresh election might well see the further advance of the AfD, although I can’t see it becoming the largest party. What is more likely is a sharp shift to the nationalist right by the CDU-CSU if Merkel goes, in an attempt to recover votes from the AfD. Some within the SPD (but not Martin Schultz, the current leader) apparently favour a resumption of the grand coalition – I imagine the idea is to prop up Merkel, avoid a new election, and hope for the best.

    Instability in Germany could also react on the Brexit process. Any deal, or agreement to extend the negotiating period beyong 29th March 2019, has to be ratified by all 27 EU Parliaments, and that becomes less likely if there’s no strong lead from Germany.

  150. KG says

    In my personal experience, people travelling ~10-20 kph under the speed limit outside built-up areas are a more deadly menace that actual speedsters. – John Morales@256

    I suggest your “personal experience” is utter speed-hog bullshit. Do you have any actual evidence to support this claim?

  151. John Morales says

    KG, nope. You have a point; it’s only my personal perception. I have no other basis upon which to justify it.

    (Sorry, I do try to distinguish personal opinion from personal factual belief, but I failed here)

  152. says

    “Watchdog says Homeland Security bottling up travel ban report”:

    The Department of Homeland Security’s official watchdog is accusing his own agency of slow-walking the public release of a report about confusion that ensued earlier this year after President Donald Trump issued his first travel ban executive order.

    The still-unreleased inspector general report found that senior managers at Customs and Border Protection were “caught by surprise” by Trump’s order and that agency officials “violated two court orders” limiting implementation of Trump’s directive to suspend travel to the U.S. by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, according to a letter sent to lawmakers Monday and obtained by POLITICO.

    The unusual missive to Congress on Monday from Inspector General John Roth said his 87-page report was sent to DHS leadership Oct. 6, but officials have declined to authorize its release over the past six weeks.

    Roth said officials informed his office that the report is under review for information that may be subject to attorney-client privilege or to a privilege protecting the agency’s “deliberative process.”

    “I am very troubled by this development,” Roth wrote, referring to the deliberate process claim. “This is the first time in my tenure as Inspector General that the Department has indicated that they may assert this privilege in connection with one of our reports or considered preventing the release of a report on that basis….”

    POLITICO obtained the letter Monday night from the office of Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), one of several dozen lawmakers who called for an IG probe into the impact of the first travel ban. She and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) reacted to the letter by suggesting that the Trump administration is seeking to “bury” the unflattering assessment from the IG….

  153. says

    So basically there’s a government agency that orchestrates coverups of harassment by congress members (and others they employ), a small group of people have access to its files, and at least one of them is a huge Cernovich fan.”

    Is it possible the agency was hacked?

  154. says

    “That ‘harmless’ radioactive cloud over Europe did come from Russia after all”:

    Remember that harmless radioactive cloud that mysteriously drifted across Europe back in September? Turns out it was from Russia after all and — at least at its point of origin — had radioactivity about 1,000 times higher than recommended levels.

    What remains a mystery, however, is what produced this cloud, with the most likely culprit, a serial offender of a nuclear reprocessing plant, still denying any connection.

    At the time, Russian authorities denied the existence of a leak and the state-owned Rosatom corporation said there had been no leaks in any of its plants.

    On Tuesday, however, for the first time, Russia’s Meteorological Service confirmed that it recorded “extremely high contamination” with radioactive isotopes in the southern Urals region at the end of September, according to AP and AFP. Its researchers recorded radiation almost 1,000 times higher than normal levels there.

    The confirmation largely matched the earlier assessment of French authorities, but Rosatom continues to dispute that it is responsible for the high radiation levels, although it operates a nuclear reprocessing plant in the area.

    Tuesday’s announcement raises new questions about Russia’s commitment to transparency over nuclear issues and whether authorities have adequately dealt with this latest incident. It has prompted demands by Greenpeace’s Russian branch for a more “in-depth inquiry.” Radio Free Europe quoted local officials as saying that authorities did not inform them about a possible nuclear incident at the time.

    Had a similar spike in radiation occurred in Europe, the French researchers wrote in the assessment earlier this month, the government would likely have ordered a local evacuation.

  155. KG says

    SC@270,
    I wonder if Mugabe wrote the letter! He might have done, recognising that the impeachment was going to happen, but ZANU-PF and “Crocodile” Mnangagwa have motives for wishing to avoid impeachment: first, setting a precedent that Parliament can in practice, as opposed to constitutional fiction, remove the President; second, that to dismiss the President requires a 2/3 majority in both Houses, which would give opposition parties the opportunity to demand concessions.

  156. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 251, pertaining to a judge’s ruling regarding federal dollars that go to “sanctuary cities.”

    Reaction from the White House:

    […] “Today, the rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our Nation,” a late-night statement from the White House press secretary’s office declared.

    “Once again, a single district judge — this time in San Francisco — has ignored Federal immigration law to set a new immigration policy for the entire country,” the statement continued. “This decision occurred in the same sanctuary city that released the 5-time deported illegal immigrant who gunned down innocent Kate Steinle in her father’s arms. San Francisco, and cities like it, are putting the well-being of criminal aliens before the safety of our citizens, and those city officials who authored these policies have the blood of dead Americans on their hands. […]

    https://www.buzzfeed.com/chrisgeidner/federal-judge-stops-administration-from-enforcing-part-of

    Nope, that is not a rant from an unhinged Fox News host, nor is it a knee-jerk reaction from Steve Bannon on Breitbart. That’s an official statement from the White House.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] court rulings from American cities the president doesn’t like are somehow inherently suspect.

    But I was especially struck by the “unelected judge” criticism. It’s plainly true that U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick wasn’t elected, since no federal judge is ever elected. The underlying point from Team Trump, though, seems to be that the president was elected, and the judge wasn’t, so the latter shouldn’t have the authority to block the unlawful policies of the former.

    Our system of government doesn’t work this way. […]

    “Presidents have disagreed with court rulings all the time. What’s unusual is he’s essentially challenging the legitimacy of the court’s role. And he’s doing that without any reference to applicable law. That they are blocking his order is all the evidence he needs that they are exceeding their authority.” [Excerpt from a statement by Charles Geyh, an Indiana University law professor.]

    “That’s worse than wrong,” Geyh added. “On some level, that’s dangerous.”

    […] Trump also told the public earlier this year that the American legal system “is broken” because his Muslim ban had failed in the courts. […] He’s even made the case that U.S. courts represent some kind of security threat. […]

  157. says

    Analysis from the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, as summarized by the Associated Press:

    […] while all income groups would see tax reductions, on average, under the Senate bill in 2019, 9 percent of taxpayers would pay higher taxes that year than under current law. By 2027, that proportion would grow to 50 percent, largely because the legislation’s personal tax cuts expire in 2026, which Republicans did to curb budget deficits the bill would create.

    The policy center, a joint operation of the liberal-leaning Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, found that low-earners would generally get smaller tax breaks than higher-income people.

    In 2019, those making less than $25,000 would get an average $50 tax reduction, or 0.3 percent of their after-tax income. Middle-income earners would get average cuts of $850, while people making at least $746,000 would get average cuts of $34,000, or 2.2 percent of income.

    The center also said the Senate proposal would generate enough economic growth to produce additional revenue of $169 billion over a decade. That’s far short of closing the near $1.5 trillion in red ink that Congress’ nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated the bill would produce over that period. […]

  158. says

    Three editorials:

    WaPo – “Children are starving in Yemen. The White House should intervene.”:

    It has been two weeks since Saudi Arabia imposed a land, sea and air blockade on Yemen, a country already devastated by two and a half years of Saudi bombing. Before the embargo, Yemen was suffering from the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, with 7 million people on the brink of famine and another 900,000 stricken by cholera. Those conditions have now grown far worse — and yet the Saudis persist with their siege. It is time for the Trump administration, which has indulged the Saudi leadership for too long, to intervene.

    The Trump administration, through the State Department, has objected to the ongoing blockade and called for “unimpeded access” for humanitarian supplies. But many in Yemen suspect, with some reason, that the White House is tolerating, if not encouraging, the crime. Shortly before the siege was announced, Jared Kushner paid a visit to Saudi Arabia and reportedly met late into the evening with Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince. Even if it was unaware of the subsequent crackdown, the White House has the leverage to put a stop to it. It should act immediately, or it will be complicit in a crime against humanity.

    NYT – “Let the Haitians Stay”:

    The Temporary Protected Status program provides the sort of assistance the United States should be proud to extend to foreigners fleeing civil unrest, violence or natural disasters. Enacted by Congress in 1990, it currently offers safe and legal harbor to 437,000 people from 10 countries. Many stay for a long time, their status regularly extended because of continued turmoil in their homelands.

    On Thanksgiving, of all days, the Department of Homeland Security is to announce whether it will extend the temporary protected status that was granted to about 50,000 Haitians when their country was devastated by an earthquake in 2010….

    By any reasonable measure, Haiti is not ready to take them back….

    Every member of Congress who represents South Florida, where most of these Haitians live, is in favor of extending their status. One of them, Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Miami, is among the congressional members of both parties who have proposed legislation that would allow these immigrants to eventually apply for permanent residency, which is not possible under current rules.

    Ms. Duke was right to resist the White House, and she was right to include in her decision a call on Congress “to enact a permanent solution for this inherently temporary program,” one that would make it possible for people under temporary protection to seek a more stable and permanent stay in America. And on Thanksgiving Day, the only right decision is to extend our welcome to the Haitians.

    And a remarkable one from the Charleston Post and Courier – “Danger to Honduran democracy”:

    Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez swept into power in 2014, just five years after a military coup that had the tacit approval of then-President Barack Obama’s administration overthrew a populist government. This month, Mr. Hernandez will seek an illegal second term, despite constitutional prohibitions.

    And the United States is openly supportive. That should not be the case.

    Polls show Mr. Hernandez in the lead for the Nov. 26 election.

    But his reelection would deal a serious blow to the rule of law in Honduras and undermine its fragile democracy. Indeed, his years-long flirting with a run and his eventual candidacy for a second term have already done severe damage.

    And evidence of massive corruption alongside troubling human rights violations should further preclude United States support.

    But President Donald Trump and his administration continue to provide aid to the Honduran military and have tacitly supported Mr. Hernandez for a second term despite his numerous negatives, all in the name of having a friendly leader in power.

    Openness to U.S. economic interests should not be sufficient justification to help prop up yet another Latin American strongman regime.

    There’s so much about what’s happened and is happening in Honduras that leaves me bitter and furious and heartbroken.

  159. says

    Update on Trump’s charitable scam foundation:

    […] voters were led to believe that of the two major-party candidates, Hillary Clinton was the one with the controversial charitable foundation.

    Donald Trump used his charitable foundation money to buy giant portraits of himself. He also used foundation money to make illegal campaign contributions, settle private-sector lawsuits, […]

    […] the Trump Foundation admitted in official documents that “it violated a legal prohibition against ‘self-dealing,’ which bars nonprofit leaders from using their charity’s money to help themselves, their businesses or their families.”

    [Trump] has been caught lying about all of this, arguing publicly that “all” of the money the the foundation raised was “given to charity.” He added soon after that “100%” of the millions raised went to “wonderful charities.” Neither claim was consistent with reality.

    […] Trump’s charitable foundation, which last year admitted violating federal rules on “self-dealing,” is in the process of dissolving, according to newly filed documents […]

    […] the New York Attorney General’s Charities Division is currently investigating Trump’s foundation, which means the president and his team can’t close its doors just yet. A spokesperson for the state A.G. explained, “As the foundation is still under investigation by this office, it cannot legally dissolve until that investigation is complete.”

    What’s more, there’s no reason to assume that the investigation will end anytime soon. On the contrary, new details surrounding Trump’s charitable foundation continue to come to light: the Washington Post reported yesterday, “One of President Trump’s golf courses paid back more than $158,000 to Trump’s charitable foundation this year, reimbursing the charity for money that had been used to settle a lawsuit against the club, according to a new tax filing.”

    Link

  160. says

    From Joan McCarter, writing for Daily Kos:

    As promised, Ajit Pai, the new far-right chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has taken the first action that will put the internet entirely in the hands of internet service providers, ending net neutrality protections for, well, everybody who uses the internet.

    In a release, Pai said his proposal would prevent the government from “micromanaging the Internet.” In place of the existing rules, he added, the FCC would “simply require Internet service providers to be transparent about their practices.”

    The proposal would also shift some enforcement responsibility to the Federal Trade Commission, which can sue companies whose actions do not reflect the commitments or statements they have made to the public.

    Because we all know how transparent Comcast and Verizon are, right? The providers couldn’t be more thrilled, but since they probably wrote the new proposed rules, they aren’t surprised. Says Verizon, “We’re very encouraged by Chairman Pai’s announcement today that the FCC will move forward next month to restore the successful light-touch regulatory framework for internet services.” For “light touch” read “nonexistent.”

    If the full commission decides to adopt this order at its next meeting on Dec. 14, it means that there will be no more enforcement of the net neutrality protections [protections included: no blocking, no throttling, and no “fast lanes”] in the existing open internet order millions of us fought to achieve. The internet will be classified as a mere “information service,” and the only enforcement the FTC can provide would be slaps on the wrist for violations of truth in advertising claims from the providers. […]

  161. says

    Not all the facts are in, but this incident in which two border patrol agents were injured is being rapidly spun up by conservative media into a conspiracy theory.

    […] Early Sunday morning, Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez and his partner were on patrol on the remote Texas Interstate 10, around 90 miles east of El Paso. The pair said they were “responding to activity.” A short while later, Martinez’s partner radioed to say that they had both been injured and were in desperate need of assistance.

    “Both agents sustained traumatic head injuries, along with other miscellaneous physical injuries such as broken bones,” a statement from the FBI’s El Paso field office read. “It was determined that both of the agents’ injuries were severe and required advanced medical care.” Despite doctor’s best efforts, Agent Martinez passed away. His partner remains hospitalized.

    […] The FBI confirmed that neither of the agents were fired upon, however on Monday the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) union released a strongly-worded and politically-minded statement saying that Martinez had been beaten to death by migrants with rocks.

    “[Agent Martinez] appears to have been ambushed by a group of illegal aliens who he was tracking. Our agent’s report from the ground say that he was struck in the head multiple times with a rock,” the NBPC said. “These disgusting acts and complete disregard for human life need to stop immediately…. Family members of slain Agent Martinez will never get to see him come home again all because we have failed to secure our borders.”

    However, according to the Associated Press, investigators now believe that Martinez and his partner may have sustained their injuries falling into a 14-foot culvert. The official added that the pair were patrolling after dark in an area where drugs were often hidden in storm culverts. Separately, a border patrol supervisor said that any reports about the agents being attacked were “speculation”. The local Sheriff, Oscar Carillo also stated that “the injuries to [Martinez], after talking to his doctors, were consistent with a fall. Very consistent with a fall.” […]

    Link

    The idea that illegal aliens are trying to ambush border patrol agents sounds unlikely to begin with. The idea that they would use rocks as their weapons sounds even more unlikely.

  162. says

    I linked to an article in #205 about Trump’s 1987 trip to Moscow, writing “I wish this had something about his statements in those years about geopolitics.” Turns out it was excerpted from Luke Harding’s book Collusion (see also #112 and #127 above), which I read this weekend, and in the book he did talk about some of Trump’s statements on geopolitics in those years. The book is pretty good, particularly the chapters on Manafort’s work in Ukraine and Deutsche Bank. It’s incredible how much more information has been revealed since it was published a few days ago.

    I was struck by this part, referring to a meeting Harding had with Christopher Steele after the “dossier” was published and Steele went underground:

    The purpose of the meeting was to discuss how Steele might return to normal life…. Steele had followed events in Washington closely and listened to the denials by Trump’s associates that they had anything to do with Russia.

    “They are all lying,” he said simply.

    The best answers to the story of collusion were to be found in Moscow, Steele felt, where there had been a major cover-up….

    In the United States the FBI was making progress, we agreed, getting some evidence.

    Of the wider Trump-Russia conspiracy, Steele said: “It’s massive. Absolutely massive.”

  163. says

    Sady Doyle: “I would just like to affirm how exceptionally painful it was to, like, SMELL the violent misogyny coming off certain media dudes during a woman’s run for President, get called crazy for noticing or reacting to it, and finally, to get confirmation now, when it’s too late to help.”

  164. says

    From Amy Davidson Sorkin, writing for The New Yorker:

    Angela Merkel is not going to resign as the Chancellor of Germany. “No, that’s not on the table,” she said, […]

    Almost two months ago, her party, the center-right Christian Democratic Union, and its Bavarian partner, the Christian Social Union, came in first place in the elections for Germany’s legislature, the Bundestag. But they didn’t have a majority: the C.D.U./C.S.U. coalition won just less than thirty-three per cent of the vote, giving them two hundred and forty-six seats out of seven hundred and nine. The Social Democrats, the traditional center-left party, meanwhile, suffered a historic collapse, winning only about twenty per cent, its poorest result since the days of the Weimar Republic. And, worse, in keeping with the Weimar theme, the far-right Alternative for Germany came in third, with more than eleven per cent of the vote and ninety-four Bundestag seats.

    A party so extreme hasn’t been in the Bundestag since the fall of the Third Reich. It is not an acceptable coalition partner, for Merkel or for anyone. The leaders of the Social Democrats didn’t want to form one, […] The obvious alternative was for the C.D.U./C.S.U. to form a coalition with two even smaller parties, the Greens, who have an environmentally focussed progressive agenda, and the Free Democrats, who are business-friendly conservatives. The Germans called this the Jamaika Koalition, because the colors of the parties were, respectively, black, green, and yellow, like the Jamaican flag, […]

    On Sunday night came the fall of Jamaika […] After weeks of talks, and what Merkel, in interviews on Monday, said were dozens of pages of carefully worked-out agreements on everything from energy policy to kindergarten funding, the Free Democrats walked away from the negotiations.

    This means that Germany, technically, has only a caretaker government at the moment, and Merkel has only some narrow options. She could try to govern with a minority […] She could call new elections, which wouldn’t happen until, perhaps, March. (“I wouldn’t rule it out,” Merkel said, […].) Or Merkel could, in fact, resign, and make it all someone else’s problem. […]

    One reason that Germany is in this fix is that, after twelve years with Merkel in charge, there is no other obvious leader with her national, let alone international, standing. It is telling that one of the European concerns about the end of Jamaika is that no one but Merkel has the authority to get the Brexit talks done—until there is a settlement in Germany, those may be paralyzed, too. […]

    The downstream effects on the Brexit talks was also noted up-thread, in comment 257 by KG.

    In other news, thanks, SC for those book excerpts in comment 279. Both interesting and enlightening.

  165. says

    Maddow and others have mentioned this line from a recent WaPo article, and it’s intriguing: “Witnesses questioned by Mueller’s team warn that investigators are asking about other foreign contacts and meetings that have not yet become public, and to expect a series of new revelations.”

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