1. says

    From Steve Benen:

    […] I’m starting to think Donald Trump doesn’t understand the point of bluffing — because like his routine lying, the president seems to do it for no good reason.

    On Wednesday, Trump endorsed a massive government spending bill, and on Thursday, the White House and its allies spent much of the day telling everyone how much the president is looking forward to signing the omnibus package into law. This morning, however, Trump, for reasons that are not yet clear, threatened to veto the proposal he ostensibly supports because it lacks immigration provisions he claims to support.

    In response, lawmakers didn’t bother to offer Trump anything — at which point he signed it anyway.

    Speaking at the White House, Trump called the spending bill a “ridiculous situation,” while standing in the White House Diplomatic Room, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence, and several Cabinet members.

    “There are a lot of things I’m unhappy about in this bill,” the president said, pointing to the inclusion of unspecified items in the bill that he said were added in order to get necessary funding for the U.S. military. […]

    So what did Trump gain from raising the prospect of vetoing this bill, only to back down a few hours later? Nothing of value. For all his trouble, despite the manufactured drama, the only thing the president gained from this experience is fresh evidence that he bluffs badly.

    What’s more, Trump didn’t do his stature any favors, either: he condemned the spending package as wasteful, and then signed into law anyway, as if he were powerless to defend his stated principles. Presidents don’t generally go out of their way to make themselves appear weak like this. […]

    The president this afternoon also asked Congress to give him a line-item veto. Trump probably doesn’t know this, but the Supreme Court rejected a line-item veto as unconstitutional 20 years ago.

  2. says

    More awfulness from Bolton’s past, including the part he played in the 2000 election:

    “I’m with the Bush-Cheney team, and I’m here to stop the count.”

    That’s what John Bolton reportedly said as he entered a room in Tallahassee, Fla. in December 2000 where election workers were re-counting the votes from the recent presidential election.

    […] it’s worth noting that Bolton has also had at least two star turns in the effort to undermine U.S. democracy over recent decades.

    Bolton was in South Korea in 2000 when he was summoned to Florida by James Baker, the Bush family consigliere who was running the effort to thwart the recount. Bolton’s first stop was Palm Beach County, where he lodged challenges against punch-card ballots that were cast for Al Gore but contained those famous hanging chads. Then Bolton went up to Tallahassee for the state-wide recount, where he reportedly helped shut down a hand count of thousands of disputed ballots from Miami-Dade County.

    After the Supreme Court ruled to make Bush president, Dick Cheney said Bolton’s job in the new administration should be “anything he wants.” Soon after, Bolton was nominated to a top State Department post.

    In fact, Bolton’s anti-democratic activism goes back much further. He played a central role in bringing the challenge to campaign finance laws that produced Buckley v. Valeo, the disastrous 1976 Supreme Court ruling accepting the notion that political money is speech and therefore deserving of First Amendment protections. The ruling paved the way for Citizens United and the other Roberts Court decisions that have opened the floodgates to big money in politics. […]

  3. says

    From Josh Dawsey:

    “DACA recipients have been treated extremely badly by the Democrats,” Trump says. He ended the program!

    From Mark Murray:

    “We wanted to include DACA in this bill, but the Democrats wouldn’t let us do it” — Trump

    In fact, Trump’s administration rescinded the program (but that’s been blocked by the courts)

    From Gabe Ortiz:

    […] “I do want the Hispanic community to know that Republicans are much more on your side,” Trump claimed, “than the Democrats who are using you for this purpose.”

    Sure, […] if Latinos ignore you throwing paper towels at Puerto Ricans, ending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) protections for thousands of Central Americans, the fact that your administration is challenging the recent court decisions that partially revived DACA, and that recent polling showing that 7 out of 10 Latinos “believe the Republican Party doesn’t care about or is hostile toward” toward them. […]

  4. says

    Programs on NRA TV commented on the March for Our Lives:

    This is the event that is supposedly being put on by children. It is not. It is being organized by a group of often violent women who speak a lot of rhetoric and anti-gun rhetoric. They support cop killers. This is the organizers of the Women’s March, and I believe that these kids are being used as pawns and being duped to push an ultimate socialist agenda, not just an anti-gun agenda.

    This is from NRATV’s Twitter feed:

    “@womensmarch, a major force behind the anti-gun @AMarch4OurLives, is led by radicals who threaten to blow up the White House, sexually smear the First Daughter, honor cop killers…adhere to the violent threatening rhetoric of anti-Semitic @LouisFarrakhan” @stinchfield1776 #NRA

    More from NRATV’s Stinchfield speaking on camera:

    You then have to wonder, where is this money really going? [Referencing a donation from George Clooney.] When you look at the backers of this and the nonprofit — so-called nonprofit — organizations that are running it, I wonder how much money is actually going to go to putting on this march or how much will fund a socialist movement, an anti-gun movement, designed at one thing and one thing only: To not just destroy the Second Amendment — that has been a goal — it is also to destroy the entire Constitution and rip this country down, tear it apart as we know it and build it back up as a socialist dreamland.

  5. says

    An update on George Papadopoulos:

    […] the former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign who has pled guilty to lying to the FBI, was reportedly encouraged by a senior-level campaign official to make contact with the Russians.

    The campaign’s deputy communications director, Bryan Lanza, urged the young adviser in a September 2016 email to accept an interview with a Russian news agency shortly before the election concluded, The Washington Post reported Friday.

    “You should do it,” Lanza wrote, pushing him to help improve the U.S. “partnership with Russia.”

    The exchange suggests Papadopoulos received a campaign superior’s blessing to accept the foreign invitation.

    Papadopoulos is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Moscow’s meddling after pleading guilty last year. […]


  6. says

    Oh, no. Idaho is making what sounds like an illegal move in the state’s never-ending quest to restrict access to abortion services:

    Under a new law, Idaho will require abortion providers to report personal details about their patients, including how many times they’ve had the procedure in the past.

    Gov. Butch Otter (R) signed a bill into law on Thursday that will require abortion providers to collect data on women’s personal and health details, The Associated Press reported Friday.

    The report will include the woman’s age, race, number of children, if any of their children have died and the number of their past abortions.

    The legislation also requires medical practitioners to report a list of any possible abortion complications, including infection, blood clot, hemorrhaging, depression, anxiety and sleeping disorders.

    The new law comes just two days after Otter approved a so-called abortion reversal law, which requires women to be informed that a drug-induced procedure can be halted halfway.

    Medical experts — including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists — have pushed back, saying there is little scientific evidence to support that theory.

    The laws follow a nationwide trend from Republican-led states trying to restrict a women’s right to terminate a pregnancy. […]


  7. says

    WV ACLU – “Bob Murray Is At It Again”:

    First, Bob Murray threatened to sue John Oliver for being mean to him. Then, Bob actually did sue John Oliver for being mean to him. Eventually, the judge in the lawsuit rightfully decided to dismiss the case.

    But if you think that’s where the comedic gold ends, you’re wrong.

    Last month, Bob Murray sent a letter to the judge, complaining about his case being dismissed. In it, he complained about receiving “multiple insulting and threatening email and telephone messages,” including “Consume defecation, Bob.”

    The judge, rightfully, forwarded a copy of the letter to John Oliver’s lawyers and posted the original letter on the case’s docket, making it public record.

    Both the judge’s letter and Bob’s letter are works of art….

  8. blf says

    A follow-up to @97(previous page) about Ozland’s überracist Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, and formerly the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection (hence in charge of the concentration camps on Manus Island and Nauru). Apparently this nazi-in-the-“government” said Some of the crazy lefties at the ABC[] and on the Guardian, Huffington Post, express concern and draw mean cartoons about his debunked claim S.African farmers are in extreme danger and Australia should fast-track visas for them. One of those cartoonists, First Dog in the Moon, at one of those sites, the Grauniad, responds, A mean cartoon of Peter Dutton, who I am dead to (cartoon): “Peter Dutton says the Guardian and the ABC are dead to him. Is there a bigger sook in Australia today?”

      † ABC is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, loosely modeled on the BBC.

  9. blf says

    Extreme misogyny exposed at prestigious French military school:

    French newspaper Libération unveiled on Friday a major report on extreme misogyny in the military preparatory school, Lycée Saint-Cyr. It detailed severe sexism and harassment for female students in this ultraconservative school.

    Libération revealed a series of shocking testimonies from young students at this privileged military academy, located south of Paris. Girls[] reported daily intimidation, including having their doors kicked in at night to prevent them sleeping, defecation in front of their dormitories, threats of physical harm and internet postings avowing death to the fat.


    This report was triggered by a letter written by one 20-year-old female student to French President Emmanuel Macron in December 2017. As a result, many of her fellow students sent letters to Libération.

    […] Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly confirmed that “this problem is real”.


    Affirming “zero tolerance” to harassment, she announced her commitment to ensure that measures are implemented, such as the exclusion of students reported for harassment or abuse, and sanctions against the teaching body if it does not take the agreed course of measures.

      † Oh please, France24, you got it correct in the previous(and some other) paragraph — “female students” — so now use, say, “Young women”… (Admittedly, at least once in the text redacted from the above excerpt, they do use “boys” when referring to the culprits, but that poor choice doesn’t balance / cancel this poor choice (which is done several times).)

  10. says

    WaPo oped – “Andrew McCabe: Not in my worst nightmares did I dream my FBI career would end this way”:

    …I have been accused of “lack of candor.” That is not true. I did not knowingly mislead or lie to investigators. When asked about contacts with a reporter that were fully within my power to authorize as deputy director, and amid the chaos that surrounded me, I answered questions as completely and accurately as I could. And when I realized that some of my answers were not fully accurate or may have been misunderstood, I took the initiative to correct them. At worst, I was not clear in my responses, and because of what was going on around me may well have been confused and distracted — and for that I take full responsibility. But that is not a lack of candor. And under no circumstances could it ever serve as the basis for the very public and extended humiliation of my family and me that the administration, and the president personally, have engaged in over the past year.

    Not in my worst nightmares did I ever dream my FBI career would end this way.

    The next day I woke to find the president of the United States celebrating my punishment: “Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI — A great day for Democracy.” I was sad, but not surprised, to see that such unhinged public attacks on me would continue into my life after my service to the FBI. President Trump’s cruelty reminded me of the days immediately following the firing of James B. Comey, as the White House desperately tried to push the falsehood that people in the FBI were celebrating the loss of our director. The president’s comments about me were equally hurtful and false, which shows that he has no idea how FBI people feel about their leaders.

    There is nothing like having the opportunity to be a part of the greatest law-enforcement organization in the world, working every day for goals that you respect and cherish. It is the best job you will ever have. Even if a president decides to attack you and your family. Even if you get fired on a Friday night, one day from your retirement.

  11. blf says

    Gardaí fear Russian interest in Ireland increasing due to US tech giants (“Garda Síochána”, or more commonly, “Gardaí” or the “Guards”, are the Irish police; Irish Times edits in {curly braces}):

    The growth of the tech sector in Ireland, and especially the presence of US tech giants in the Republic, may be behind plans by Russia to expand its Dublin embassy, gardaí believe.

    Many in the Garda suspect a strategic decision has been taken to expand Russia’s presence here specifically to monitor the international tech companies located in the Republic.


    The expansion looks set to bring about a Russian presence here, attached to the embassy, that is disproportionate to the size, or international significance, of a country such as Ireland.


    “The concern in the {Garda} is around the Russian embassy; why they feel the need to get bigger here at this time. There is no clear explanation from them for that,” said one informed source.

    Garda officers believe the Russian assessment of Ireland may have shifted to a longer-term view that ranks the Republic as now being more strategically important than previously because of the concentration of the international tech sector here.


    It has been claimed Russian interests also used [Cambridge Analytica]’s techniques.

    Garda sources said those recent developments, and the fact many of the social media companies used are in Ireland, will form part of the security assessment about the Russians for the Government.

    I wonder if there is any connection to the zillions of fake Irish-named idle accounts on farcebork(? twittering?) noticed a few months ago?

  12. says

    “Trump’s National Security Council recommends expelling Russian diplomats”:

    President Donald Trump is expected to receive a recommendation from his National Security Council on Friday that he expel a yet-to-be-determined number of Russian diplomats from the US in response to the poisonings of a former spy and his daughter on UK soil, a source with knowledge of the situation told CNN.

    The decision to send that recommendation to the President comes after a high-level meeting at the White House on Wednesday during which the NSC drew up a range of options to take action against Russia, according to multiple State Department officials and a source familiar with the discussion.

    Ultimately, the outcome of that meeting was a recommendation that Trump should expel more Russian diplomats from the US — an option several sources told CNN was the most severe response under consideration.

    If Trump decides to act on the NSC recommendation, it is expected to be soon — possibly early next week, a source involved in the discussions said….

    What could the less severe responses have been?

  13. says

    “We Beat Mark Zuckerberg In Hawaii, And We Can Beat Him In Washington”:

    …Facebook’s lack of transparency is part of a broader pattern by its leadership. Mark Zuckerberg is an unelected, unregulated oligarch who controls industries and shapes the fate of our democracy without our consent. Congress must stop relying on his empty promise to self-regulate his monopoly, and take action to protect the American people.

    Politicians shouldn’t be afraid to take on Zuckerberg — I’ve done it myself, and won. In 2014, he bought 700 acres of beachfront land in my home state of Hawaii. He built a wall around the property and then tried to force hundreds of Native Hawaiians to forfeit their gathering rights to the land by suing them. This same tactic was used by sugar barons in the Gilded Age to displace thousands of Native Hawaiian families from their ancestral lands.

    Instead of letting a billionaire buy another vacation home and displace local families, I introduced a bill that would keep Hawaiian lands in Hawaiian hands. We organized thousands of Native Hawaiians and residents to fight back, and we won; Zuckerberg dropped the lawsuits.

    Washington needs to learn from the people of Hawaii. We need bipartisan Congressional investigations into unregulated monopolies like Facebook, and once Democrats retake the House in 2018, we need to push for bold new antitrust policies that challenge corporate power.

    Today, we’re seeing a new generation of billionaires take control of our democracy. The growth of unregulated giants like Facebook has given rise to a digital oligarchy and a new Gilded Age. Our democracy is on the brink of collapse because our economy is owned by a handful of enormous corporations and our elections are being manipulated by a small group of billionaire donors.

    It’s not enough for Mark Zuckerberg to say that he’s sorry, or promise to strengthen privacy standards. The promises Zuckerberg made this week were the ones Facebook made after a major privacy breach in 2011. Those steps were never taken, so we can’t trust those promises now. Facebook is one of the most dangerous unregulated monopolies because of the central role it plays in informing the public and shaping our elections. We must take action now….

  14. says

    Skimming the February DoD memo, and it’s rubbish. I don’t see where the members of the “Transgender Review Panel” are listed, their expertise established, or a proper scholarly citing and quoting process undertaken. It’s an obviously political document with preordained conclusions. And a sloppy one at that – “the RAND study cites to a journal article…”

    It’s a disgusting embarrassment for the Pentagon.

    Is Trump hoping people will turn on Mattis for this, so if he fires him the public will cheer? Mattis likely approved it under duress, possibly hoping it would be blocked by other means. In any event, he’s far preferable to the Trumpists who set this all in action and have kept up the pressure on the DoD.

  15. robro says

    What a surprise…The Guardian says Bolton worked with Cambridge Analytica.

    And a Cambridge Analytica director of business development, Brittany Kaiser is talking to The Guardian, saying Nix is lying. The company did work with Leave.EU and Ukip. She recently left the company and is “tired of making excuses for old white men.”

    Also this from Ms. Kaiser: Cambridge Analytica’s blueprint for Trump victory. She saw a post-election debriefing presentation. Also interesting insights into how they worked for Trump.

  16. says

    Zack Ford: “There is so much anti-transgender junk science in Mattis’ report to the president. I can’t imagine a single trans-affirming practitioner or researcher (i.e. anyone in mainstream medicine) served on the panel of ‘experts’.”

  17. says


    BREAKING: The Department of Defense announced its plan tonight to implement President Trump’s directive to ban transgender service members from serving in the military.

    That directive has been blocked by federal courts in four separate cases, including our case, Stone v. Trump.

    What the White House released tonight is transphobia masquerading as policy, for the sole purpose of carrying out President Trump’s reckless and unconstitutional ban. It undermines the ability of trans service members to serve openly and military readiness as a whole.

    This policy effectively coerces transgender people who wish to serve into choosing between their humanity and their country, and makes it clear that transgender service members are not welcome.

    Transgender people in our military deserve more from their government.

  18. says

    I’m so impressed with these kids who organized the March for Our Lives today, I’ll probably be on the edge of tears all day.

    Looks like they got perfect weather in DC.

  19. says

    Joy Reid: “One of the things that’s amazing about politics is that conservatives often seem to have more awareness and respect for Pelosi (and Schumer’s) political skills than some liberals do. The right is crystal clear about how badly ‘Chuck and Nancy’ rolled Trump on that omnibus budget.”

  20. says

    From Jelani Cobb, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] On Wednesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a memo directing U.S. Attorneys to seek the death penalty against drug dealers and citing four statutes—some involving murder related to drug-dealing activities, others not—which provide them with the legal basis for doing so. It is a curious document whose paradoxes are apparent and would be, in saner times, particularly noteworthy. The first paragraph states,

    The opioid epidemic has inflicted an unprecedented toll of addiction, suffering, and death on communities throughout our nation. Drug overdoses, including overdoses caused by the lethal substance fentanyl and its analogues, killed more than 64,000 Americans in 2016 and now rank as the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.

    These are the basic facts of the opioid crisis. Were the rules of logic followed in the remainder of the memo, Sessions’s direction would still be unsettling, but at least it would not be fundamentally dishonest. The recitation of data, however, provides the foundation for a wildly misguided pivot in the second paragraph. “Drug traffickers, transnational criminal organizations, and violent street gangs all contribute substantially to this scourge,” he wrote.

    These parties—with the coded racial implications of phrases like “transnational criminal organizations” and “violent street gangs”—were the basis of the hang-’em-high rhetoric Trump deployed in New Hampshire, and Sessions translated into policy, a day later.

    Yet the fifty-plus thousand Americans who died of opioid-related overdoses in 2016 fell victim as part of an epidemic whose roots can be directly traced to the proliferation of prescription painkillers and policies the pharmaceutical industry pursued to facilitate this state of affairs. When the Drug Enforcement Agency began cracking down on unscrupulous distributors implicated in the explosion of both legal and illicit painkillers, the industry successfully lobbied to have the agency’s enforcement abilities curtailed. As Patrick Radden Keefe wrote in the magazine last year, the surfeit of opioid prescriptions has generated billions for Purdue Pharma and members of the Sackler family, whose genealogy almost certainly does not include anyone named D-Money.

    […] The opioid crisis is disproportionately centered upon white Americans. As an investigative report from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune found last year, in Florida, nine out of ten overdose victims and eight of ten people arrested for possession were white. Yet African-Americans who are arrested for possession still face disproportionately long sentences when compared with white offenders.

    In response to a crisis generated by corporations, facilitated by lobbyists, and lopsidedly affecting white Americans, the Sessions Justice Department reverted back to “New Jack City”-era language about street gangs and the implied threat of black and brown drug dealers.

    The Sessions directive to seek the death penalty will not likely become a significant element of this war on drugs—death-penalty prosecutions have fallen precipitously in the past decade, a decline driven by the increasing reluctance of juries to impose it and the wariness of prosecutors to deploy the exorbitant resources necessary to win a capital-punishment conviction. It’s just as likely that Sessions’s memo was meant to serve as both political theatre and a job-preservation scheme for the chronically embattled Attorney General, whom the President has complained is “weak.” […]

    More at the link.

  21. says

    John Bolton may extend his toxic sphere of influence by ousting dozens of White House officials, replacing some of them with his own picks.

    Incoming national security adviser John Bolton, the third under President Trump’s administration, reportedly has plans for a “massive shakeup” at the National Security Council involving the removal of “dozens” of White House officials, according to a Foreign Policy report Friday.

    When he replaces current National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster next month, the former ambassador to the United Nations and fierce foreign policy hawk will reportedly start with holdovers from the Obama administration, multiple sources told Foreign Policy.

    Bolton is reportedly targeting “officials believed to have been disloyal to Trump, those who have leaked about the president to the media, his predecessor’s team, and those who came in under Obama.” […]

    A second former White House official bluntly warned that “everyone who was there during Obama years should start packing their shit.” […]

    Although it’s unclear if Bolton would get on board with “the staff purge his allies and advisors are pushing,” some names that have been reportedly floated around include deputy national security advisor for strategy Nadia Schadlow and McMaster deputy Ricky Waddell. […]


  22. says

    News from the March for Our Lives:

    […] Organizers of the “March for Our Lives” rally in Washington hoped their protest would match in numbers and spirit last year’s women’s march, one of the largest Washington protests since the Vietnam era and one that far exceeded predictions of 300,000 demonstrators.

    Bearing signs reading “We Are the Change,” ”No More Silence,” ”Keep NRA Money Out of Politics,” protesters lined Pennsylvania Avenue from the stage near the Capitol, stretching back toward the White House. The route also takes in the Trump International Hotel. President Donald Trump was in Florida for the weekend; a motorcade took him to his West Palm Beach golf club on Saturday morning. […]

    People flocked, too, to a “March for Our Lives” event near the Parkland school where the massacre happened. Police presence was heavy as organizers set up and demonstrators streamed in. Eden Kinlock, 17, came from 20 miles away to pass out water, “a small thing but it helps in the bigger picture.” Many Parkland students came to the Washington rally. […]


    One of my favorites of the signs seen at the rally: “The only thing easier to buy in the USA than a gun is a Republican.”

  23. says

    The rally in DC is nothing short of amazing. MLK Jr.’s adorable granddaughter led the crowd in a chant a few minutes ago. An incredibly eloquent 11 year-old spoke. The crowd is appreciating and supporting the speakers and cheering them on when they get emotional. Periodically, they chant “VOTE THEM OUT!”

  24. says

    Voting/election news from Wisconsin:

    […] On Thursday a court ruled that Walker [Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin] has to hold two special elections, which he was trying to avoid doing. Now, […] Walker is working with the Republican state legislature to change state law governing special elections, rendering the court ruling moot. In other words, he’s changing the law to avoid holding elections he’s afraid the GOP might lose.

    Democrats are calling the move a “clear attack on democracy.” Hard to argue with that.


  25. says

    From the New York Times, bad news for Trump’s border wall proposal:

    The report was based on internal Customs and Border Protection documents from the 2017 fiscal year. It concluded that less than one half of 1 percent of the agents’ suggestions to secure the Southwest border mentioned the need for a wall.

    The documents show that the Border Patrol identified what it called 902 “capability gaps,” or vulnerabilities, on the Southwest border. The word “wall” was suggested as a possible solution for just three of those gaps.

    Agents mentioned a “fence” or “fencing” as a possible solution 34 times — less than 4 percent of the 902 vulnerabilities identified, the report found.

    I don’t think people in the Trump administration, nor in leadership positions in the U.S. Border Patrol, are listening to the people on the ground.

  26. says March for Our Lives in New Zealand. March for Our Lives in Australia, just look at those kids, many of them are elementary school age.

    March for Our Lives in Japan:

    March for Our Lives in Sweden:

    And, of course there’s more. You can see photos on the #MarchForOurLives Twitter feed from Berlin, Rome, Copenhagen, Milan, Frankfurt, Geneva, Amsterdam, Brussels, Paris (that’s a big rally!), London, Leeds, Edinburgh, Madrid, Belfast, and more.

  27. says

    From Emma Gonzalez:

    All we did was keep the door open for everybody else to speak, and it’s something that should have been done long ago.

    I want and incredibly large voter registration turnout to happen here. I want people who don’t understand what we’re feeling to come away with this thinking, “I might understand this.” … It’s incredibly important to us that we have really really strong voter education and registration, and that we have a lot of people who empathize, rather than feel apathy.

    Fox News is clueless:

    […] The anchors from Fox and Friends kicked off their day by asking Independent Women’s Forum’s Julie Gunlock if the students, while meaning well, weren’t actually “misguided” on gun control. Gunlock agreed with that premise, adding, “I do think to some degree all these marches and Hollywood stars and networks pushing this leads to a little bit of protest fatigue.” Co-host Pete Hegseth ended the interview by sarcastically saying “I take my gun guidance from Miley Cyrus.”

    In fact, over the course of the morning, Fox and Friends somehow managed to find a way to devote more of its time to the coverage of co-host Abby Huntsman’s return from maternity leave — complete with montages, video messages from Ambassador to Russia (and father) Jon Huntsman, and live shots of her husband with her new baby — than they did covering of the March for Our Lives. […]


  28. says

    With warrants in hand, law enforcement officers raided Cambridge Analytica’s headquarters in the UK:

    U.K. authorities raided Cambridge Analytica’s offices overnight amid an investigation into whether the political consulting firm illegally acquired Facebook data to target voters.

    Around 18 investigators were seen entering the company’s London headquarters after obtaining a warrant to search its database and servers Friday night, the Guardian reported. The search lasted seven hours, according to the BBC.

    “This is just one part of a larger investigation into the use of personal data and analytics for political purposes,” the Information Commissioner’s Office said late Friday after receiving the warrant. “As you will expect, we will now need to collect, assess and consider the evidence before coming to any conclusions.” […]


  29. says

    From Barack Obama:

    Michelle and I are so inspired by all the young people who made today’s marches happen. Keep at it. You’re leading us forward. Nothing can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change.

    From Hair Furor: nothing.

    Team Trump personnel who were not on the golf course did issue a statement that touted the ban on bump stocks and other baby steps. The statement also applauded activists for “exercising their First Amendment rights.”

  30. says

    From Representative John Lewis:

    You know the NRA gave me an “F” and I am proud to wear that “F” […]

    On the Democratic side of the House of Representatives, many members of Congress are wearing an F […]

    You must never give up. Never give in. Keep your place and you are going to have a victory.

    From Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer:

    The only thing standing in the way of achieving their goals is the president, whose White House today praised the students as courageous.

    What the students want is for the president to show courage, not once again in empty words, but in real action, by at minimum supporting universal background checks.

    [We are] inspired by their [the student’s] enthusiasm, steadfastness and focus on electing representatives who support their goals.

    Schumer marched in the New York City rally.

  31. blf says

    Fox News is clueless

    May I suggest they know almost exactly what they are doing? What is the proportion of people in the States who rely on, or trust, them?

    The usual metaphor is “herding sheep”. I suggest “feeding goldfish” also applies — regular dollops keeps ’em gulping for more and more and moar… despite overfeeding being lethal.

  32. blf says

    I have no idea if there were any March for Our Lives near where I live; it’s possible (e.g., there was a Women’s March in Marseille), but a quick search is inconclusive. Perhaps the leading story in France at the moment is Gendarme Lt Col Arnaud Beltrame, who voluntarily swapped places with the hostage(s?) of an armed apparent-terrorist (who had already killed three people). Lt Col Beltrame was eventually shot by the apparent-terrorist, who died shortly thereafter when the police stormed the premises after hearing the shots on Lt Col Beltrame’s mobile phone (he had cleverly left the line open so police could easedrop).

    Unfortunately, Lt Col Beltrame died this morning.

    He was to be married in June.
    “The couple, already wed under civil law, were planning a religious ceremony. Instead, the priest who would have officiated at the wedding was called to Beltrame’s bedside, where [his wife] Marielle was keeping vigil on Friday evening, to give him the last rites” — Gendarme who swapped place with hostages hailed a hero in France.

  33. says


    I have no idea if there were any March for Our Lives near where I live; it’s possible (e.g., there was a Women’s March in Marseille), but a quick search is inconclusive.

    Apparently, there was an event – at least one planned – in Aix-en-Provence.

    Perhaps the leading story in France at the moment is Gendarme Lt Col Arnaud Beltrame,…

    Beltrame is the definition of a hero.

  34. says

    I was choked up hearing so much Spanish spoken at the DC rally today. I’ve been to so many demonstrations, some of them tiny – for Latin America, for immigrants, for unions, for immigrant unions – and I never thought I’d see the day that a rally of 800,000 people in Washington would be led in part by kids named Gonzalez, Fuentes, and Chavez saying things like “La lucha sigue.”

  35. KG says

    With warrants in hand, law enforcement officers raided Cambridge Analytica’s headquarters in the UK – Lynna, O.M.@44

    Unfortunately, the crooks had plenty of time to dispose of the evidence – though it’s possible they have overlooked something, since there tend to be multiple copies of everything in these digital days.

    Two significant current stories in the UK link to Cambridge Analytica:
    1) Its parent company was awarded UK government contracts and accreditation between 2008 and 2013 (note that this covers the end of the last “New Labour” government as well as the Tory-LibDem coalition that followed it), despite having boasted in its publications about interfering in foreign elections.
    2) A former volunteer with Vote Leave, the official pro-Brexit campaign, alleges that it broke electoral law by giving money to a supposedly independent group in order to get round spending limits, but directed that group to spend the money with Aggregate IQ, a Canadian company allegedly linked to Cambridge Analytica. (Agggregate IQ denies it has ever had a contract with Cambridge Analytica, but that leaves plenty of room for links, e.g. with other supposedly separate companies run by the same bunch of crooks.)
    I strongly suspect there’s still a lot more to come out about this web of corruption.

    I missed the “March for Our Lives” sympathy event in Edinburgh yesterday, but attended a march to the Scottish Parliament called by an anti-Brexit group. There were other marches on this theme around the UK, but coverage in the mainstream media was limited, as it was for a “Hands Off Our Parliament” demonstration on Friday, protesting against the UK government’s “power grab” plan to take control of many regulatory powers post-Brexit, which should come to Holyrood (the Scottish Parliament). By contrast, the “March for Our Lives” events have been well covered here.

  36. says

    KG @ #63:

    2) A former volunteer with Vote Leave, the official pro-Brexit campaign, alleges that it broke electoral law by giving money to a supposedly independent group in order to get round spending limits, but directed that group to spend the money with Aggregate IQ, a Canadian company allegedly linked to Cambridge Analytica.

    Here’s Carole Cadwalladr’s report on the story. She’s furious that Theresa May’s office outed the whistleblower in an apparent attempt to portray this as a personal spat, with help from some in the media.

  37. says

    SC @65, I guess we know what Trump would do if he were a lawyer.

    From Matt Shuham:

    […] CNN reported Friday that Joe DiGenova’s role on Trump’s legal team was in question despite Trump attorney Jay Sekulow’s announcement, four days earlier, that DiGenova “will be joining our legal team later this week.” DiGenova and his wife Victoria Toensing, who work as partners, met with Trump on Thursday, CNN reported.

    And several high profile litigators have reportedly declined to serve the President, including former solicitor general Theodore Olsen.

    Trump’s May 11 tweets came in response to a New York Times report that he was in talks with Emmet Flood, who represented former President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings. The Washington Post said Thursday that Trump’s discussions with Flood were “still preliminary.” CNN’s Katelyn Polantz reported the same day that Flood was one of several attorneys to turn Trump down in recent weeks.

    Mark Corallo resigned as the spokesperson for Trump’s legal team in July. Months later, the New York Times reported that he was concerned about potential obstruction of justice issues he witnessed on the job; namely, that former White House communications director Hope Hicks assured Trump revealing emails between Donald Trump Jr. and British publicist Rob Goldstone concerning a Russian lawyer promoting dirt on Hillary Clinton “will never get out.” (They ultimately did get out.)

    And while Trump may claim “Fame & fortune will NEVER be turned down by a lawyer,” his decades-long history of stiffing employees and contractors likely hasn’t helped his case.


    Not only do some lawyers not want to represent Trump, they don’t want to be associated with him in any way.

    I think the latest news on the diGenova team is that Trump is not hiring them for the defense against the Russia probe, but that he may use them to defend against other lawsuits. Scuttlebutt is that Trump met with diGenova and his wife, but the personalities clashed. Trump probably just didn’t find them to be “out of central casting.”

  38. blf says

    Beltrame is the definition of a hero.

    Yes. I admit I was crying when typing @50.
    Hair furor couldn’t resist barging in, twittering France honors a great hero. Officer died after bravely swapping places with hostage in ISIS related terror attack. So much bravery around the world constantly fighting radical Islamic terrorism. Even stronger measures needed, especially at borders! (from French supermarket siege: memorial service held for victims). It is true the suspect was born in Morocco (I do not know when he moved to France), and there does seem to be a daesh connection, but that twittering still annoys me: It turns a tragic event into self-promotional propaganda for Bone Spurs (or at least for things he claims to want, like Muslim bans and walls). It would have been a fine comment if he’d stopped after the first two sentences (before the So much … Islamic terrorism …).

  39. blf says

    In the UK (although I presume the problem is not limited to the UK), Jehovah’s Witnesses accused of silencing victims of child abuse:

    Scores of alleged victims come forward and describe culture of cover-up in religious group in UK

    More than 100 people have contacted the Guardian with allegations of child sexual abuse and other mistreatment in Jehovah’s Witness communities across the UK.

    Former and current members, including 41 alleged victims of child sexual abuse, described a culture of cover-ups and lies, with senior members of the organisation, known as elders, discouraging victims from coming forward for fear of bringing reproach on Jehovah and being exiled from the congregation and their families.


    The stories told to the Guardian ranged from events decades ago to more recent, and many of those who came forward have now contacted the police.

    They told the Guardian about:

    ● An organisation that polices itself and teaches members to avoid interaction with outside authorities.

    ● A rule set by the main governing body of the religion that means for child sexual abuse to be taken seriously there must be two witnesses to it.

    ● Alleged child sex abuse victims claiming they were forced to recount allegations in front of their abuser.

    ● Young girls who engage in sexual activity before marriage being forced to describe it in detail in front of male elders.


    The Guardian also heard from those who described strict upbringings and a culture of hierarchy which meant physical and other psychological abuse were rife and often ignored.


    More details at the link. There’s also a long entry at Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge, which goes back years and also discusses other countries.

  40. says

    Rick Santorum is so awful!

    Rick Santorum on Sunday criticized students organizing for gun control, saying they wanted “someone else to solve their problem” with legislation.

    During a panel discussion on CNN, the former Republican senator and current CNN commentator said “Hollywood elites and liberal billionaires” had funded the gun control marches that took place Saturday and told politically-active students to, “instead of looking to someone else to solve their problem, do something about maybe taking CPR classes or trying to deal with situations that– where there is a violent shooter.”

    Trauma surgeons explained in the wake of the Valentine’s Day mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School […] that wounds from high-velocity bullets like those delivered by alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz’s AR-15 are much more difficult to treat than those from handguns. […]

    “How are they looking at other people?” host Brianna Keilar interjected. “They took action.”

    “They took action to ask someone to pass a law,” Santorum said.

    “They didn’t take action to say ‘How do I as an individual deal with this problem? How am I going to do something about stopping bullying within my own community? What am I going to do to actually help respond to a shooter?’” […]

    “I’m proud of them but I think everyone should be responsible and deal with the problems that we have to confront in our lives, and ignoring those problems and saying they’re not going to come to me, and saying some phony gun law is going to solve it– Phony gun laws don’t solve these problems, that’s what we found out,” Santorum responded. […]


  41. says

    blf @70, that sounds like some of the abuse that takes place in Mormon polygamous communities.

    In other news, some Chinese leaders have reacted to Trump’s new tariffs:

    […] Speaking to global business leaders at a development forum, Vice Premier Han Zheng appealed for cooperation to make economic globalization “beneficial for all.”

    “A trade war serves the interests of none,” Han said at the China Development Forum. “It will only lead to serious consequences and negative impact.”

    Han didn’t mention Trump by name or refer directly to the dispute with Washington, but the country’s newly appointed economy czar warned Saturday that Beijing will defend its interests. The government issued a $3 billion list on Friday of U.S. goods including pork and stainless steel pipes it said might be hit by higher tariffs.

    […] a bigger battle is brewing over Trump’s approval Thursday of a possible tariff hike on $30 billion of Chinese goods in response to what Washington says is Beijing’s improper acquisition of foreign technology.

    Global financial markets have sunk on fears Chinese retaliation might prompt other governments to raise import barriers, depressing global trade. […]


  42. says

    From the NRA:

    Today’s protests aren’t spontaneous. Gun-hating billionaires and Hollywood elites are manipulating and exploiting children as part of their plan to DESTROY the Second Amendment and strip us of our right to defend ourselves and our loved ones.

  43. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Lynna #73, the NRA paranoia is showing. Nobody has said take away guns except the NRA. They are the ones with the problem, not the people.

  44. says

    From Zack Ford, writing for Think Progress, we get the news that Vice President Mike Pence played a leading role in Trump’s latest ban on transgender people serving the military. Pence is the evil behind this, with his false smile?

    […] Vice President Pence and some of the country’s most prominent anti-LGBTQ activists had a role, […] which explains why the report explaining the decision is rife with anti-trans junk science.

    Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern reported Friday night that, according to multiple sources, Pence played “a leading role” in creating the report, along with Ryan T. Anderson of the Heritage Foundation, which has been dubbed “Trump’s favorite think tank,” and Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (FRC), an anti-LGBTQ hate group. Both Heritage and FRC praised the report Friday. According to Stern’s reporting, it was true that Mattis favored allowing transgender military service, but Pence “effectively overruled” him.

    A separate source independently confirmed to ThinkProgress Saturday that Pence was involved, characterizing him as forming his own ad hoc “working group,” including Anderson and Perkins, separate from the panel of experts Mattis had assembled. Though it bears Mattis’ signature, the report released Friday appears to reflect the findings of Pence’s working group and not the committee report that Mattis submitted to Trump last month. Mattis’ original document is not currently publicly available, but it was widely reported that Mattis favored an inclusive approach that resembled what had originally been proposed by Defense Secretary Ash Carter under President Obama in 2016. […]

    In particular, the report features numerous anti-trans talking points that FRC and other anti-LGBTQ groups have used in various campaigns favoring discrimination against transgender people. It also attempts to distort the research on transgender health in ways that directly parallel Anderson’s recently released book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment. Anderson likewise argued in his book against supporting trans people in their gender transitions, and the recommendations in the report rely on a strikingly similar framing.

    Asked directly on Saturday whether he was involved in the report, Anderson cheekily responded in a series of tweets that “there’s no evidence” he was involved in crafting the report, but he repeatedly refused to directly deny his participation. […]

    More at the link.

  45. says

    Nerd @74, agreed!

    Cameron Kasky responded to the NRA during an interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News:

    […] Kasky directly addressed the accusation that they and other students are motivated by their egos.

    “I think that’s the most pathetic thing I’ve seen out of this, possibly even beating ‘crisis actors’,” he said, referencing the baseless conspiracy theory that they and other student activists are actors who have been paid to make the shooting that killed 17 people seem worse than it was.

    “And that’s the NRA. You’ll notice they can’t attack our argument so they’re attacking us personally. The fact that they are saying that all we want out of this is for people to know our names? They have no idea how much each of us would give for it to be February 13th again,” he said, referring to the day before the shooting.

    “The fact that they stooped that low, — I can’t imagine how much lower they can get.”

  46. says

    From Democratic Senator Tim Kaine:

    He [Trump] is either lying or he is completely delusional. […] If President Trump believes in DACA, all he has to do is retract his executive order from September, where he broke a promise to Dreamers and said he was going to end the program.

    We do not have the support of the White House; we don’t have the support of Republicans. We either have to change their minds, or we have to get more Democrats in office.

  47. says

    More signs from March for Our Lives rallies:

    If only my uterus could shoot bullets then it wouldn’t need regulation.

    Teachers will stand up to gunmen, but Congress won’t stand up to the NRA.

    I should be worried about my G.P.A., not getting shot.

    The number of bullet holes in this poster is the number that can be shot in the time it takes to read it.

    Arm teachers with resources not guns.

    I’m a 1st grade teacher. Trump’s solution to school violence is so stupid that if he were a first grader, I would send him back to kindergarten.

    T-minus 510 days until I can vote. (teenager)

    T-minus 496 days until I vote. (mother of teenager)

    Pack lunches, not heat.

    I miss earthquake drills.

  48. blf says

    In Ozland, Companies that pay less tax create fewer jobs, Labor research shows:

    Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh’s paper finds companies paying less than 25% tax are shedding jobs

    Companies paying a lower effective rate of tax have a worse record on job creation than those paying closer to the full 30% tax rate, new research by Andrew Leigh finds.

    In a paper published in the Economic Analysis and Policy journal, Labor’s shadow assistant treasurer finds that companies paying an effective tax rate of less than 25% are shedding jobs while those paying 25% or more are growing their workforce at an annual rate of 2%.


    Huge caveat: This is politically-motivated alleged-research — apparently, there is a proposal to “[lower] the company tax rate for companies earning more than $50m[] from 30% to 25% by 2026-27″ to supposedly “boost job creation” (yeah, sure, sounds very tricky downian to me).

      † Australian dollars, I presume: A$50m is about US$38.5m currently.

  49. blf says

    This is from earlier in the week, and I don’t know off-hand if either or both of the provisions described were included in the omnibus funding bill hair furor signed, Trees older than America: a primeval Alaskan forest is at risk in the Trump era:

    Tongass is the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest, with trees more than 1,000 years old. But a pro-logging effort could uproot them
    Under the Trump administration, the future of [the Tongass, the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world,] is uncertain. The Alaskan senator Lisa Murkowski is pushing for more old-growth logging, and has sought to attach pro-logging provisions to the omnibus bill on US government spending that is being negotiated this week in Congress. If such efforts are successful, the country stands at risk of losing some of its last remaining coniferous old growth in order to sustain south-east Alaska’s last industrial-scale sawmill.


    In 2014 a motley group of timber executives, conservationists, fishermen and Native shareholders came together at the behest of the US Forest Service to examine the sustainability of the practice. In 2016 […] they settled on a plan that set aside units of old growth for logging but ultimately phased out the large-scale cuts over the course of two decades.

    Senator Murkowski has proposed scrapping this plan, reasoning that it takes too much old growth off the table too quickly. Her hesitancy to support the move away from old growth is consistent with her efforts to unlock Alaska for gold, timber and oil extraction. She recently spearheaded the successful push to open the Arctic for oil drilling. Born in the logging town of Ketchikan, she has long been in the thrall of the old-growth timber industry.

    Her latest attempt to boost logging involved adding two provisions to the omnibus bill on US government spending — one would exempt the Tongass from a rule banning the creation of new logging roads, the other would scuttle a plan to transition from logging older trees to younger ones. […]


  50. blf says

    Some more great signs from March for Our Lives rallies:

    ● Make the NRA get a background check before they buy a Senator

    ● If teachers have to carry guns, Presidents should have to read books

    ● Congress You Are Not Ballotproof

    ● If you need an AR-15 to down a deer, it’s time you take up golf

    ● (A Slow — School traffic warning sign, riddled with bullet-holes.)

    ● My Uterus is more regulated than Assault Rifes

    ● I’m a teacher, not a sniper

    ● (An image of a massively elongated Humvee, painted School Bus yellow.) 21st Century Schoolbus

    From Best signs from March for Our Lives protests

  51. blf says

    And from the eejit brigade, High-watt laser pointer a safer way to stop shooters:

    There is an alternative to guns that, with one button, can render an attacker helpless but relatively unharmed. School staff should pack a high-wattage green laser pointer. A high-wattage laser pointer can blind a person at a distance of 100+ feet. It may cause permanent eye damage but it is not lethal. And a blind attacker is effectively neutralized.
       This laser “weapon” is powerful yet simple. Hitting the target — the attacker’s eyes — is easy. No registration or permissions are required. And, it’s cheap. The attacker’s blindness may be brief but can give students and staff crucial seconds to flee or overpower the blinded attacker. It’s not perfect; the shooter will still have gun in hand. But better to face a disoriented, blind shooter than one with vision.
       Inexpensive, powerful, non-lethal high-wattage laser pointers can provide teachers with simple, non-lethal, off-the-shelf “weapons” to neutralize shooters.

    Some quick searching suggests even the typical 5mW green laser pointer is incredibly dangerous when used improperly, and (in 2011) there are models of up to 2W, which is a danger at a distance of a mile. Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge points out:

    The United States Coast Guard requires their air crews to return to base if a green laser is pointed at them, and have their eyes examined for eye damage. People have been given up to five years in jail for aiming a green laser at an aircraft.

    Powerful green laser pointers do have a legitimate use, in astronomy: The beam is easily seen at night, making it an excellent tool for pointing out stars, etc. Many yonks ago, I was on an astronomy course where the instructor used a whopping huge Maglite torch (flashlight), either a 6- or 7-cell D battery unit (this was in the pre-LED days) for the same purpose. The thing weighted a metric feckton, and it seems reasonable he’d prefer a much lighter, etc., unit.

  52. chigau (違う) says

    blf #83
    They say that automatic weapon is rendered inoperative because the person at the trigger cannot see?

  53. blf says

    They say that automatic weapon is rendered inoperative because the person at the trigger cannot see?

    Yeah, that is the hard bit. The easy bit is the gunfondler holding still whilst the teacher is trying to find where the laser pointer is, aims it at the gunfondler, nothing happens, turns the pointer on and just about blinds themselves, aims again, and misses a very small target, which happens to be wearing mirrored sunglasses, and having gotten bored is no longer holding still and waiting, raking the room with gunfire, and oh, b.t.w., there’s a mirror behind the gunfondler…

    Plus, of course, laser pointers don’t have sights, so “aiming” isn’t that simple.

  54. blf says

    Anger at Scottish policy that may force rape victims to testify:

    Campaigners say move to compel court appearance if deemed in public interest is inhumane
    Rape Crisis Scotland, as well as cross-party parliamentarians, have hit out at the new reluctant complainers policy which means rape victims who try to withdraw from cases may be compelled to testify where prosecution is deemed to be in the public interest.

    “For anyone who has the courage to report it and then gets to the point where they can’t continue — to then force them to testify is inhumane,” said Sandy Brindley, the chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland. “It’s also self-defeating — if you have to put them in the cells the night before it’s not going to be useful evidence.”


    “Women rightly feel that the criminal justice system revictimises them and I agree with Rape Crisis Scotland that more needs to be done to understand why women, initially prepared to give testimony, then consider withdrawing,” said John Finnie, the justice spokesperson for the Scottish Greens.

    Brindley argues that very often the problem is the justice system itself. “Rather than compelling victims, what we need is to address the reasons people withdraw,” she said. “Take the delays: it’s not uncommon for people to work themselves up to give very difficult evidence only to get called up the night before and told it has been delayed.”


  55. says

    Cadwalladr: “NEW: Prime Minister of St Kitts says he is “seeking legal advice” following our @guardian report that Cambridge Analytica worked with hackers to obtain his emails to find politically damaging material.”

  56. blf says

    And a loon on the far left, French politician arrested for tweet celebrating death of ‘hero’ policeman:

    A left-wing French politician has been arrested over a tweet apparently celebrating the death of a policeman who was hailed a hero after he took the place of a hostage and was killed by a jihadist gunman.

    Police arrested Stephane Poussier at his home in Dives-sur-Mer, northwest France, on Sunday after he sent two tweets welcoming the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Arnaud Beltrame.

    Whenever a policeman is shot… I think of my friend Remi Fraisse, Poussier said on Twitter, referring to an environmental activist killed by a stun grenade fired by police during a 2014 protest over a dam.

    And this time it was a colonel, great! Additionally, it means one less Macron voter, he added.


    Poussier’s remarks provoked strong reactions and his Twitter account was disabled.


    Poussier stood unsuccessfully in elections last year as a candidate for the La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party of radical leftwinger Jean-Luc Melenchon.

    His comments were condemned by the party and Melenchon, who said on Twitter that it would on Monday file a complaint against him for justifying terrorism.

  57. says

    Neera Tanden: “If we had a normally functioning Congress instead of Trump patsies, they would actually investigate whether Trump and his mob-like organization was threatening violence against ex girlfriends to ensure their silence. Pretty sure that breaks some laws.”

  58. says

    “How much is Rick Gates telling Mueller about Trump?”:

    …Manafort may have struck a larger public profile, but Gates spent more time in Trump’s orbit. Manafort left the Trump campaign under a cloud of scandal in mid-August 2016. Gates, his right-hand man, stayed on through the election before assisting the Trump inauguration and Trump’s early presidency.

    Worst of all for the White House, Gates lacks hard-wired loyalty. He is not family like Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., or his son-in-law Jared Kushner. Nor is he among true Trump believers like Corey Lewandowski and Brad Parscale.

    Gates’s senior campaign role alongside Manafort, who has longtime ties to Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs, might give the special counsel’s team insight into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Kremlin. And his proximity to Trump early last year could make him privy to White House conversations of interest to Mueller, possibly including discussions of Trump’s May 2017 firing of FBI director James Comey….

  59. blf says

    US gunmaker Remington files for bankruptcy:

    Remington Outdoor, one of the US’s biggest gunmakers, has filed for bankruptcy protection as it struggles against a mountain of debts and falling sales.

    The 202-year-old company, which made the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used in the Sandy Hook […], filed for chapter 11 protection in Delaware bankruptcy court on Sunday.


    Gunmakers have suffered since the election of Donald Trump […], because gun enthusiasts typically buy more firearms when they fear that politicians might be about to bring in tighter controls. In the first nine months of Trump’s presidency [sic], Remington’s sales declined by 27.5%.

    “They call it the Trump slump,” said Robert Spitzer, a professor at the State University of New York and expert on the economics of guns. “Gun sales have become politicised to a great degree. Gun purchases recently have been made not just because someone wants a new product but to make a statement; not just because of fears that there might be tighter regulation, but also to make a statement against Obama.”

    [Remington is owned by] Cerberus Capital Management [whose] billionaire chief executive, Stephen Feinberg, is a major Trump supporter and donated nearly $1.5m to pro-Trump political action committees in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.


    Cerberus is one of the so-called “distressed assets” specialists — typically, assets-strippers and frequently also vultures (deliberately drive firms into bankruptcy).

  60. says

    NBC annoyingly has the Daniels interview wrong. They’ve taken the line that it was “anticlimactic,” despite the explosive new information provided, because of Avenatti’s tweet with the picture of the disk. They’re claiming Avenatti was suggesting that documents or other evidence were going to be provided in the interview and then weren’t; but what Avenatti said on their network just a few days ago was that he was holding that evidence for if/when Trump and Cohen would try to deny the allegations made during the interview.

    Also, this is an interesting thread.

  61. says

    Ayman Mohyeldin: “BREAKING: The US Government has reveleaed that Pulse Night Club shooter Omar Mateen’s father was an @FBI informant from 2005-2016! And at one point based on a tip tried to raise and transfer $50k-$100 overseas to contribute to an attack against the Pakistani govt.”

  62. says

    OK – found an article summarizing the responses – “US and EU expel scores of Russian diplomats over Skripal attack”:

    The US, the EU, Canada and Ukraine have ordered the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats in response to the nerve agent attack in the UK, in a show of solidarity that represents the biggest concerted blow to Russian intelligence networks in the west since the cold war.

    Nearly a hundred Russian diplomats in western countries alleged to be spies are being told to return to Moscow, in a coordinated response to the use of a chemical weapon in the 4 March attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence official, and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury.

    “Today’s extraordinary international response by our allies stands in history as the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers ever and will help defend our shared security,” the UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson tweeted. “Russia cannot break international rules with impunity.”

    EU members Germany, France and Poland are each to expel four Russian diplomats with intelligence agency backgrounds. Lithuania and the Czech Republic said they would expel three with Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands expelling two each. Ukraine, which is not an EU member, is to expel 13 Russian diplomats, and Canada four.

    The article continues re Canada: “Canada also announced it was expelling four diplomatic staff serving in Ottowa and Montreal, who the Canadian government said were ‘intelligence officers or individuals who have used their diplomatic status to undermine Canada’s security or interfere in our democracy’. A pending application from Moscow for three more diplomatic posts in Canada is being denied.”

    I think this part is inaccurate: Canda is expelling four diplomats they’re identifying as spies, total. Plus, they’re denying applications to three more to enter. So seven in total. Their official statement (linked @ #95) is somewhat confusing, but it’s seven expulsions/exclusions in total.

  63. says

    Gah – I managed to lose some text in my copypasting – “US and EU expel scores of Russian diplomats over Skripal attack”:

    The US, the EU, Canada and Ukraine have ordered the expulsion of dozens of Russian diplomats in response to the nerve agent attack in the UK, in a show of solidarity that represents the biggest concerted blow to Russian intelligence networks in the west since the cold war.

    Nearly a hundred Russian diplomats in western countries alleged to be spies are being told to return to Moscow, in a coordinated response to the use of a chemical weapon in the 4 March attempted murder of Sergei Skripal, a former Russian intelligence official, and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury.

    “Today’s extraordinary international response by our allies stands in history as the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers ever and will help defend our shared security,” the UK foreign secretary, Boris Johnson tweeted. “Russia cannot break international rules with impunity.”

    The Russian government warned it would retaliate, raising the prospect of further tit-for-tat expulsions.

    The US has ordered the expulsion of 60 Russian officials who Washington says are spies, including a dozen based at the United Nations.

    EU members Germany, France and Poland are each to expel four Russian diplomats with intelligence agency backgrounds. Lithuania and the Czech Republic said they would expel three with Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands expelling two each. Ukraine, which is not an EU member, is to expel 13 Russian diplomats, and Canada four.

    The Russian consulate in Seattle is also being closed as part of the US’s package of punitive measures. A senior US official said that the consulate closure and the expulsions would be carried out “in solidarity with our closest allies” in reaction to what he said was “a reckless attempt by the [Russian] government to murder a British citizen and his daughter with a military grade nerve agent”.

    A second official said the measures were also intended as a response to a “steady drumbeat of destabilising and aggressive actions” by Moscow against the US and its allies.

    The officials being expelled from the US include 48 in the Russian embassy in Washington and 12 at the Russian mission at the UN, who the US say are spies engaged in “aggressive collection here in the US”.

    Donald Trump did not comment on Twitter, his usual form of expression on issues he feels strongly about. At the time officials were briefing reporters about the US measures, the president put out a tweet saying: “So much Fake News. Never been more voluminous or more inaccurate. But through it all, our country is doing great!”

    The European council president, Donald Tusk, said 14 EU states had expelled Russian diplomats in response to the attack, adding that “additional measures including further expulsions are not excluded in coming days, weeks”.

    Theresa May will report back to MPs on Monday on her efforts to garner international support for an uncompromising approach to Russia. On Wednesday, the House of Commons foreign affairs select committee will hold a special evidence session designed to consider what further steps the government could take to restrict the movement of Putin-linked Russian money in London.

  64. blf says

    The NRA’s Strategic Blunder:

    How the gun lobby created the movement that threatens to swamp it.
    Like the Republican Party and Trump, the NRA responded to a diversifying nation by cultivating racial reaction. Before Trump’s “American carnage,” NRA leader Wayne LaPierre routinely portrayed the US as a dystopia overrun by madmen, criminals, perverts and fanatical terrorists. The government won’t save you, LaPierre told his followers. Only guns — lots and lots of guns — will.

    The NRA seized its advantage under GOP legislatures and a GOP Congress to promote a no-compromise agenda of guns everywhere for anyone. It went for all the marbles — guns in bars, churches, schools, colleges, parking lots, playgrounds — hoping to make them so pervasive that the cultural pendulum could never swing back. And it fought, even after massacres of children, to make sure that the most damaged and dangerous among us maintained convenient access to military-grade firepower.

    Instead of seeking to accommodate a changing world, it vastly overreached. Payback is unlikely to be pleasant. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, the NRA has got to go” was a frequent chant throughout the country Saturday.

    The gun-safety movement put youth at the vanguard, and countless youth filled in the ranks behind them. Some registered to vote. The kids knew what they were marching for — there’s a list. And they knew who they were marching against. One sign captured it succinctly: “Teens vs Old people (NRA).”

    If you’re looking for long-term power and relevance in the US, getting on the wrong side of kids, women and racial minorities is probably not the best idea. The NRA understands this. The group has been making left-footed attempts in recent days to show it’s hipper than you think, even featuring NRA spokesman Colion Noir, who is black, taking offense at the white privilege of the kids who survived the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and have become leaders in the gun-safety cause. Black lives (suddenly) matter; just don’t expect support from the NRA if your black son gets shot by a thug or a cop.

    And, It’s official: March for Our Lives was one of the biggest youth protests since the Vietnam War:

    The preliminary crowd counts confirm the weekend’s marches and rallies were huge.

    At least 1.2 million people marched for gun control over the weekend at events across the US, according to early tallies from researchers Erica Chenoweth and Jeremy Pressman.

    The count is still preliminary: The researchers estimate that there were more than 450 marches in the US over the weekend but only have crowd estimates for about half of them.


    The second excerpt goes on to discuss “a key problem: issue intensity. Essentially, lots of Americans support gun control, but it’s not really their top priority when they go out to vote. Meanwhile, those who oppose stricter gun laws are simply more likely to make it the one issue they’ll vote on.”

    […] Gun owners are 80 percent more likely than non-gun owners to have contacted a public official about gun policy in the past year. And supporters of laxer gun laws are nearly 60 percent more likely than supporters of stricter gun laws to have contacted a public official over the issue in the same time span.

    […] About 28 percent of gun owners have contributed to an organization that takes a position on gun policy, while only 10 percent of non-gun owners have. That helps explain how a group like the National Rifle Association (NRA) has become so powerful, while there are no political equivalents — in terms of influence — on the other side.

    [… G]un owners and supporters of laxer gun laws are more likely to have recently engaged a public official or political organization on this issue. That matters: If a senator gets phone calls every few months from gun owners and opponents of stricter laws, that’s going to make a bigger impression than calls from non-gun owners and supporters of stricter laws every year or so.


  65. blf says

    Unsurprisingly, Senator AR-15 favours additional mass murder, Rubio’s response to the March For Our Lives prioritizes gun owners over gun violence:

    That NRA money apparently goes a long way.
    Rubio […] emphasized that many people believe banning guns will infringe on their rights and ultimately will not prevent these tragedies.

    [… M]aking a change requires finding common ground with those who hold opposing views, he said in the statement.

    But Rubio’s approach on guns has been the opposite of finding common ground. Since the shooting, he has said he will continue to accept money from the National Rifle Association, claiming the group has less power over him than it does other lawmakers. Indeed, his tune hasn’t changed much since the day after the Parkland shooting, when he took to the Senate floor to argue against gun control efforts.

    At the march, students from Parkland wore bright orange price tags with the amount of $1.05. This, they had calculated, was what each student in Florida was worth as a fraction of the money Rubio received from the NRA.

    That’s brilliant!

    Rubio’s statement was pilloried on Twitter […]. Many pointed out that describing the march as being about a gun ban demonstrated that he wasn’t actually listening to the arguments being made. Others called out the fact that so long as Rubio maintains a 100 percent rating from the NRA, he’s the one who is making no effort to find common ground.

  66. says

    SC @98, I see I was wrong, sort of, when I said earlier that I didn’t think Trump would expel Russian diplomats. Diplomats are being expelled, but as you noted, Trump is keeping his distance from the action:

    Donald Trump did not comment on Twitter, his usual form of expression on issues he feels strongly about. At the time officials were briefing reporters about the US measures, the president put out a tweet saying: “So much Fake News. Never been more voluminous or more inaccurate. But through it all, our country is doing great!”

  67. says

    What doofus Trump tweeted:

    Obama Administration legalized bump stocks. BAD IDEA. As I promised, today the Department of Justice will issue the rule banning BUMP STOCKS with a mandated comment period. We will BAN all devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns.

    Steve Benen debunks Trump’s tweet:

    […] As is too often the case, Trump seems confused […] In reality, whether the president understands this or not, the Obama administration didn’t “legalize” bump stocks. The devices were already legal and in the marketplace. What Obama administration officials actually concluded was that new restrictions on bump stocks would need to be approved by Congress, rather than through new regulations created by the executive branch.

    As the New York Times reported on Friday afternoon, “Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Friday that the Justice Department was proposing to ban so-called bump stocks through regulations rather than wait for Congress to act, a move that defies recommendations by federal law enforcement officials and could subject the department to litigation from gun rights groups.” […]

    So, when Trump boasts that he’s banning these devices, what he means is that he’s advancing a legally suspect policy that’s likely to struggle in the courts. If the lawyers are right and the measure fails in the judiciary, the president’s latest move will have been a waste of time […]

    The Democratic White House followed the law; congressional Republicans ignored legislative proposals on the issue; and bump stock sales continued.

    Several years later, the Trump administration’s Justice Department came to the same conclusion and told policymakers that in order to ban bump stocks, Congress would need to pass new legislation. The difference is, while Obama followed the legal guidance, Trump is ignoring it.

  68. says

    From the Washington Post:

    […] The bill provides $1.6 billion for barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, but with some serious strings attached. Of the total, $251 million is earmarked specifically for “secondary fencing” near San Diego, where fencing is already in place; $445 million is for no more than 25 miles of “levee fencing”; $196 million is for “primary pedestrian fencing” in the Rio Grande Valley; $445 million is for the replacement of existing fencing in that area; and the rest is for planning, design and technology – not for wall construction

    The biggest catch is this: The barriers authorized to be built under the act must be “operationally effective designs” already deployed as of last March, meaning none of President Trump’s big, beautiful wall prototypes can be built. […]

    What Trump thinks the bill is funding:

    We funded the initial down payment of $1.6 billion. But we’re going to be starting work, literally, on Monday, on not only some new wall – not enough, but we’re working that very quickly – but also fixing existing walls and existing acceptable fences. […]

    So, we have $1.6 billion for the wall. That will start immediately. This is a short-term funding, but it’s immediate. It starts immediately.

    Does Trump know he is lying, or did his staff tell him a bedtime story to calm him down? Trump is deceiving the public. Most of us know not to believe him, but his voters are not well served by this fairytale about the wall being built.

  69. says

    From the Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) interview:

    “I was in a parking lot, going to a fitness class with my infant daughter. Taking, you know, the seats facing backwards in the backseat, diaper bag, you know, getting all the stuff out. And a guy walked up on me and said to me, ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,'” Daniels said, according to a transcript of the interview.

    “And then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl. It’d be a shame if something happened to her mom.’ And then he was gone,” she added.

    Daniels said that she interpreted the event as direct threat and that she was “rattled.”

  70. says

    Follow-up to comment 105.

    […] Though Clifford didn’t say who she thought the man was, nor whether he had any connections to Trump, an attorney representing Michael Cohen — Trump’s personal lawyer who wrote up the nondisclosure agreement Clifford signed in 2016 — sent her a cease and desist letter regarding that portion of the interview, writing that Cohen “had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any such person or incident, and does not even believe that any such person exists, or that such incident ever occurred.” […]

    “It had to have come from someone associated with Mr. Trump,” he [Avenatti, Stephanie Clifford’s attorney] told “Good Morning America” host George Stephanopoulos.

    “There’s no other place for it to have come from,” he continued. “It didn’t come from the magazine, that makes no sense. It certainly didn’t come from my client.”

    Asked if he had any evidence tying Trump or his lawyer, Michael Cohen, to the threat, Avenatti said “other than common sense, no.”

    “We are in the process of running to ground exactly who that was, and I am confident, at the end of this, that we’re going to discover it,” he told NBC’s “Today” host Savannah Guthrie.

    “She can describe that person in great detail,” he added, referring to Clifford. “She remembers it like it was yesterday, because, like any mother in that situation, it was terrifying.” […]


  71. says

    Follow-up to comments 105 and 106.

    From Josh Marshall:

    2. The big takeaway from her account of their relationship was that she quickly asserted a dominant position in her interactions with Trump and maintained that throughout. Some of that you get in the somewhat for laughs spanking encounter. The big point there wasn’t some BDSM thing. It is she showed she wasn’t intimidated by him. Note that in the second encounter after it was clear he had no real news about an Apprentice appearance, she said no to more sex. She’s continued to do that through recent weeks and especially in this interview. Notice the unambiguous statement: she never found him attractive or wanted to sleep with him.

    3. Note that Daniels’ then lawyer apparently had much more lucrative offers to tell her story but directed her toward the deal with Michael Cohen. Given that Karen McDougal and Daniels both ended up with the same lawyer, there’s now lots of evidence suggesting that the lawyer, Keith Davidson, was actually in cahoots with Cohen. That’s a big no no in terms of holding on to your license to practice law.

    4. Daniels has now put Cohen in a tight legal bind. Most experts think this is a straight up campaign finance violation, perhaps brazen enough to be prosecuted criminally. […]

    5. Finally, the big news. Who threatened Daniels? She made it very clear she could identify the person if she saw him again. No doubt she and her lawyer agreed that she would make that crystal clear. If you know Cohen’s business associates and particularly his past in the Taxi medallion business – strongarming major magnates in that world – you don’t need to have any question about who sent that goon. This is how Cohen operates because it’s how Trump operates.

  72. says

    Follow-up to comment 71.

    David Hogg responded to Rick Santorum:

    I think @RickSantorum might need to learn CPR for the NRA following midterms

    That’s from Hogg’s Twitter feed. This is from a CNN interview with David Hogg and his sister Lauren:

    I just think it’s completely absurd that he’s even thinking about teaching us CPR when we’re having gun violence all across America and even in our schools,” Miss Hogg said. “The fact that he’s saying CPR when my friends are dying on my floor and nothing is being done about it — he’s just using it as a distraction away from guns.

    “I saw it last night on the news,” Mr. Hogg said. “Students are able to respond and administer whatever first aid they can assuming the person’s still alive. At the end of the day, if you take a bullet from an AR-15 to the head to no amount of CPR is going to save you because you’re dead.”

    From Ted Lieu:

    Dear Rick Santorum: CPR is good for heart stoppage. Not good for victims of multiple AR-15 bullets, which typically impart 3 times the lethal energy upon impact than a 9mm handgun bullet. AR-15 bullets obliterate organs and cause so much bleeding that victims die very quickly.

  73. says

    Student activists have called for town halls to be held on April 7 in every congressional district in the USA.

    Everyone should call for a town hall with their representative on April 7th. Your town hall should be 2hrs and start between 8am and 4 pm call your rep today to organize it and if they refuse to show up just invite their opponent. LETS GO!! Visit @townhallproject for help

  74. says

    The propaganda response from the NRA:

    […] According to a previously unpublished review by Pathmatics, a company that scrapes data from online ads, the NRA spent more than six times as much on digital ads after the Parkland shooting than it did in the weeks before it. Its average daily spending in the 24 days before Parkland was $11,300, according to Pathmatics. In the 24 days after its silent period, that average jumped to $47,300.

    Nearly all of the increase was on social media, primarily Facebook, where the NRA took its spending from an average of $4,400 a day in the three weeks prior to Parkland to $34,000 a day in the three weeks after the silence. Florida was heavily targeted in the post-tragedy ad burst. The state went from ninth most targeted in January to third between mid-February and mid-March. […]

    Chicago Tribune link

  75. says

    Steve King mocks Emma Gonzalez in response to March For Our Lives

    On Sunday afternoon, King specifically attacked 18-year-old Parkland survivor and student activist Emma Gonzalez, sharing an image of the teen holding back tears as she relived her trauma before a crowd of nearly 800,000 Saturday.

    “This is how you look when you claim Cuban heritage yet don’t speak Spanish and ignore the fact that your ancestors fled the island when the dictatorship turned Cuba into a prison camp, after removing all weapons from its citizens; hence their right to self defense,” the text accompanying Gonzalez’s photo read. […]

  76. says

    Update on Devin Nunes, whose unpopularity in his own district in California is growing:

    […] While projections show that Nunes is still safe in the upcoming 2018 elections, momentum against the incumbent has been building.

    Nunes is widely perceived to be no more than a surrogate for President Donald Trump thanks to his mismanagement of, and subsequent recusal from, the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian meddling during the 2016 election. So much so, that the district’s leading newspaper, The Fresno Bee, which had previously endorsed Nunes, labelled him “Trump’s stooge” in January. […]

    Nancy Gilmore, a retired engineer and lifelong Democrat from nearby Clovis said there are people in desperate need of help and Nunes has been unresponsive to their needs. “He’s voted against air quality, EPA regulations, clean drinking water. Very baseline health issues. There’s the whole Russia thing, but what’s most concerning is his complete and utter disregard for this district.”

    Gilmore believes Janz has a fighting chance. “When Pennsylvania happened, it was like, wow, this could happen here,” she told ThinkProgress, referring to Democrat Conor Lamb’s recent surprising victory in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district. […]

    “Before you know it, Nunes can find his whole district has eroded right out from underneath him without him even noticing it.” […]

  77. says

    Follow-up to comments 105, 106 and 107.

    From Maggie Haberman:

    NEWS – Trump had dinner with Michael Cohen last night. Night before the Stormy Daniels interview.

    Cohen demanded that Daniels “immediately retract and apologize through national media” for making such a claim”, a claim that Cohen was responsible for the thug who physically threatened Daniels in a Las Vegas parking lot.

    The only problem is that Daniels never made such a claim.

    Daniels did not not suggest nor did she insinuate in any way that the man who threatened her was sent by Michael Cohen.

    […] Oddly, Cohen’s letter also expresses his belief that the 2011 incident never occurred. It’s unclear why Cohen would know, since he professes to have had nothing to do with it.

    There are, however, other documented instances of Cohen threatening people who speak out about Trump. […]


  78. quotetheunquote says

    Lynna #111
    I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction.
    -Clarence Darrow

    I’m really hoping I’ll live long enough have the “great satisfaction” – dare I say downright glee – of reading Rep. King’s one day.

  79. says

    quotetheunquote @114, I know what you mean. Same for Rick Santorum.

    In other news, Senate Republicans and other Republicans seem to pressuring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to retire. They want him to retire before the midterm elections this year so that they will have an issue around which they can rally the conservative base.

    […] While Kennedy, 81, has not directly signaled his plans for retirement, at least one senator has predicted it could come over the summer. Others maintain that confirming a conservative successor to Kennedy, who was nominated by Ronald Reagan in 1988, would be easier while Republicans control the Senate. […]

    “The only reason we won the White House and kept the Senate was because of that open Supreme Court seat,” the lawmaker added, referring to the vacancy following Scalia’s death. […]


  80. says

    Ann Coulter, who used to be a Trump fan, to the point of sounding like a cult follower, seems to be falling out of love with Trump:

    So Stormy says she and Trump had sex only once. I guess if you want the guy to screw you repeatedly, you have to be one of his voters.

    She is pissed off because Trump signed a bill that did not completely fund the border wall. Poor Ann.

  81. says

    A group of evil men plotted to discredit one of Roy Moore’s accusers by bribing the accuser’s attorney. No low is too low.

    An attorney who represented one of the women who accused former Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexual misconduct says that some of Moore’s supporters offered him money to drop her as a client.

    Attorney Eddie Sexton was approached by two Moore supporters a few days after his client, Leigh Corfman, came forward to accuse Moore of sexual misconduct when she was a minor, according to The Washington Post. They are reported to have asked Sexton to drop Corfman as a client and publicly denounce her accusations through a statement that would be given to Breitbart News, a media outlet notoriously friendly to President Donald Trump and run at the time by his former chief strategist Steve Bannon. In return, Sexton would be paid $10,000 and introduced to Bannon.

    One of the men who allegedly participated in the call, Gary Lantrip, told Sexton that “all they want to do is cloud something” and that “if they cloud, like, two of them, then that’s all they need.” The term “cloud” was presumed to be a reference to casting doubt on the credibility of the multiple accusations against Moore.

    Lantrip was also recorded using coded language to discuss paying Sexton $10,000, promising him that after they “make some quick little-bitty for you … and then, on down the line, we can go to D.C.”

    Both of the men implicated in the report, Lantrip and Bert Davi, have denied doing anything wrong.

    Moore himself worked strenuously to discredit the accusations of the women who came forward against him during the 2017 campaign, including threatening to sue The Washington Post for publishing its initial story. After he accused Corfman of being “politically motivated,” “malicious” and “completely false,” she sued him for defamation of character. […]


  82. blf says

    Witness in Mueller probe ‘aided UAE agenda in US Congress’ (a lot of this text reads like it came from the AP, this is not quite Al Jazeera’s style):

    George Nader, a witness in a US foreign meddling probe, secretly aided UAE agenda in Congress, AP investigation finds.

    A top fundraiser for President Donald Trump received millions of dollars from a political adviser to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last April, just weeks before he began handing out a series of large political donations to US legislators considering legislation against Qatar, the UAE’s chief rival in the Gulf, an Associated Press (AP) investigation has found.

    George Nader, an adviser to the UAE who is now a witness in the US special counsel investigation into foreign meddling in US politics, wired $2.5m to the Trump fundraiser, Elliott Broidy, through a company in Canada […].

    They said Nader paid the money to Broidy to bankroll an effort to persuade the US to take a hard line against Qatar, a long-time US ally but now an adversary of the UAE.

    A month after he received the money, Broidy sponsored a conference on Qatar’s alleged ties to Islamic “extremism”. During the event, Republican Congressman Ed Royce of California, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, announced he was introducing legislation that would brand Qatar as a terrorist-supporting state.

    In July 2017, two months after Royce introduced the bill, Broidy gave the California congressman $5,400 in campaign gifts — the maximum allowed by law. The donations were part of just under $600,000 that Broidy has given to Republican Party members of Congress and Republican political committees since he began the push for legislation fingering Qatar, according to an AP analysis of campaign finance disclosure records.


    In October, Broidy also raised the issue of Qatar at the White House in meetings with Trump and senior aides.

    The details of Broidy’s advocacy on US legislation have not been previously reported. The AP found no evidence that Broidy used Nader’s funds for the campaign donations or broke any laws. At the time of the advocacy work, his company, Circinus, did not have business with the UAE, but was awarded a more than $200m contract in January.


    Scores of Broidy’s emails and documents have leaked to news organisations, drawing attention to his relationship with Nader. Broidy has alleged that the hack was done by Qatari agents and has reported the breach to the FBI.

    It’s no surprise that Qatar would see me as an obstacle and come after me in the way it has, he said in a statement.


    Considerably more details at the link, including more antics by Royce after the “donation”.

  83. says

    From today’s White House press briefing:

    White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said on Monday that President Donald Trump does not believe porn actress Stormy Daniels’ claim in a “60 Minutes” interview that she was threatened in 2011 not to share the details of her alleged relationship with Trump.

    “The president doesn’t believe any of the claims that Ms Daniels made last night in the interview are accurate,” Shah said in the daily press briefing when asked about the alleged threat made against Daniels.

    Asked for the basis of Trump’s belief, Shah said that “there’s nothing to corroborate her claim.” […]


  84. says

    Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is going to feel some direct and personal pressure on the issue of gun control:

    A group of high school students in Wisconsin say they’re not letting House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) off the hook when it comes to gun reform — and they’re willing to walk the 50 miles from their hometown to his Janesville office to deliver their message.

    The Shorewood High School students first started their trek, called “50 Miles More,” on March 24, and expect to arrive in Janesville on March 28. On their official website, they explain that they organized the march as a way to continue the momentum from March For Our Lives, follow

    “Our first march is a four day, 50 mile march from Madison to Janesville, the home of House Speaker Paul Ryan. It is directed at Paul Ryan for his lead role in blocking and burying any chance of gun reform again and again,” the students wrote. “We are ready to keep the pressure on our nation’s top leaders until gun reform is a priority for Republicans and Democrats. We are not afraid. We fear being shot in our own schools and neighborhoods much more than we would ever fear the NRA or the politicians they support.” […]


  85. says

    In Trump world, there’s a history of clumsy, physical threats being issued, sometimes by Trump’s bodyguard, and sometimes by his lawyers:

    […] In 2009, as BuzzFeed’s Jason Leopold reported, an attorney named Kristopher Hansen called the FBI and reported that he’d received a threatening phone call from a man he believed to be Donald Trump’s bodyguard.

    Hansen represented a group of investors in Trump’s casino company, which was going bankrupt (potentially costing the investors $1.25 billion in defaulted debt). Hansen told the local police department that the caller threatened his wife and children:

    My name is Carmine. I don’t know why you’re fucking with Mr. Trump but if you keep fucking with Mr. Trump, we know where you live and we’re going to your house for your wife and kids.

    According to Leopold, the FBI found Hansen’s account credible enough that they gave him a portable recording device and asked him to record any other calls he got. Meanwhile, they traced the number that had shown up on Hansen’s BlackBerry back to a Manhattan phone booth across the street from the theater that hosted The Late Show With David Letterman — on which Trump taped an appearance a few hours after the call was made. […]

    There’s also a claim of physical intimidation in Trump’s business history. in 1995, a Trump building superintendent and his family sued the Trump Organization for false imprisonment, saying the superintendent’s wife and child were assaulted by Trump security guards. […]:

    Four men prevented Hatixbe Bajrushi and her son from leaving. Matthew Calamari, the hulking head of security, shoved the boy. Trump’s brother-in-law, James Grau, barked questions, demanding to know why they were there. Michael Nicoll, another guard, pushed them back when they tried to leave. Grau snatched her purse and passed it to Calamari, Nicoll, and Domenic Pezzo to rifle through.[…]

    Calamari threatened to harm the family if they spoke to police about what happened, according to the lawsuit. After 90 minutes, the police arrived and the Bajrushis were freed.

    None of the security guards named in the lawsuit were charged, although FBI special agents told BuzzFeed News that two of them were questioned as “persons of interest.”

    Because neither of these allegations resulted in criminal charges, much less convictions, they’re not proof of anything. But they bear a resemblance to some aspects of Daniels’s story: the threatening phone calls, the willingness to threaten or harm children. At the very least, they’re evidence that she’s not the first person to accuse Trump surrogates of acting like B-movie thugs.

    Michael Cohen is on the record intimidating a reporter. […]

  86. says

    Update to #s 93 and 133 – Avenatti is now on with Nicolle Wallace. Daniels just sued Cohen for defamation, and they’re adding to their original filing or whatever about the NDA the argument that it’s invalid because it was in furtherance of a scheme to violate election law.

  87. says

    CA-related stories (part 2):

    “Vote Leave members ‘may have committed criminal offences'” (emphasis added):

    Members of the official Brexit campaign during the EU referendum may have committed criminal offences relating to overspending and collusion, according to lawyers advising whistleblowers who worked inside the organisation.

    Clare Montgomery and Helen Mountfield, barristers from Matrix chambers, concluded in a formal opinion that there was a “prima facie case” that Vote Leave submitted an inaccurate spending return and colluded with BeLeave, which was aimed at students.

    They were reviewing a dossier of evidence supplied by solicitors Bindmans, which contained examples of alleged collusion showing that Vote Leave and BeLeave were not separate and therefore that the leave campaign spent over the £7m legal limit set by the Electoral Commission.

    MPs will debate the allegations in the Commons on Tuesday, after the Lib Dems secured an emergency debate. The dossier has also been passed to the Electoral Commission, which is responsible for election law.

    Tamsin Allen, from Bindmans, told a press conference “that there is a strong suspicion that the campaigns were very closely linked and co-ordinated, in which case it may be that Vote Leave spent huge sums unlawfully and its declaration of expenses is incorrect”.

    Vote Leave, whose leading members include Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, strongly denies any coordination with another campaign group during the referendum.

    But Allen said there were grounds to suspect Dominic Cummings, Vote Leave’s campaign director, “of having conspired to break the law” because he was among those engaged in discussions with BeLeave about their organisation, activity and funding.

    Emails compiled by Bindmans appear to show that Vote Leave assisted in the creation of BeLeave’s branding and that there was constant communication between to the two groups, who were based in the same office. They suggest that they used a single shared drive where campaign materials were shared.

    The lawyers said there were also “grounds to investigate” Stephen Parkinson, Vote Leave’s national organiser, who now works as Theresa May’s special adviser and Cleo Watson, who was Vote Leave’s head of outreach and also now works at No 10. Parkinson and Watson have denied any wrongdoing….

    Cadwalladr is saying the scope of the allegations/investigation demand a public inquiry. Is that the equivalent of a special commission in Congress or a special counsel/prosecutor?

    Facebook has acknowledged that it collected phone and text logs from people who used Android devices, and the FTC has confirmed it has an investigation into FB’s privacy practices.

  88. says

    No and no. In the UK, a public inquiry is usually a large bucket of whitewash. For power whitewashing, use a royal commission.

    Hm. But it seems it’s less vulnerable to whitewashing as a relatively public investigation, no? Compared to the other forms of investigation? Thanks for the link.

  89. blf says

    Afghan clerics in talks with Isis to break polio myths (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Islamic clerics are consulting with Taliban and Islamic State to ensure immunisation campaign goes ahead despite scepticism and distrust

    Islamic clerics have agreed to work with the Afghan government to persuade the country’s militant groups to let vaccination programmes run in remote areas.

    Imans are to consult with the Taliban, Islamic State (Isis [daesh]), and other factions in the mountainous Kunar province in an effort to get efforts to eradicate polio back on track, after six new cases were reported in the country this year.

    Hard-line Islamist militants and clerics in the three countries where the disease still exists, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan, have been opposing polio vaccination campaigns, as myths have become ingrained that they are part of a conspiracy to sterilise Muslim children or a cover for western spies. There have been several attacks and killings of nurses and volunteers.

    The Afghan government began a national immunisation campaign earlier this month, with around 70,000 workers knocking on doors and stopping families in health centres, streets and at border crossings. Almost 10 million children were vaccinated but a significant population lives in militant-controlled areas like Kunduz where Taliban insurgents last year banned inoculations.

    The vaccination programme was badly discredited, after a fake campaign was used as cover in the US efforts to find Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

    Thank you, CIA. Not! (See, e.g., How the CIA’s Fake Vaccination Campaign Endangers Us All (no obvious date).)
    The local doctor who helped the CIA, Shakil Afridi, is still languishing in prison (the extra charge against him keeps changing), and there are claims he has been tortured. To the best of my knowledge, other than a symbolic reduction in aid to Pakistan, the US hasn’t done anything of significance to help Dr Afridi.

    “We are fully responsible for the next generation living in a polio-free environment,” [Mawlawi Abdul Khaliq, a religious leader from Kunar province,] said. “The role of Islamic scholars is important.”


    Kunar’s public health director Aziz ur Rehman Safi said: “Due to the Isis ban on the vaccination drive{…} there is a fear that an estimated 12,000 children are unlikely to be vaccinated in the latest campaign.”

    Clerics said they believe that by the end of 2017 polio vaccination teams had been unable to immunise more than 14,000 children in the province, and there were fears that this figure would continue to rise.


    Starting in about 2009, a somewhat similar strategy was used with considerable success in Nigeria, Muslim clerics in Nigeria advocate for polio vaccination and mobilize community (Aug-2014):

    A few years ago, northern Nigeria was a global epicenter of polio transmission, but a program that mobilized local Muslim clerics, who were once opposed to immunization and are now advocates for vaccination, has helped radically reduce infections, according to researchers.

    Gambo G Aliyu, a research fellow in vaccine evaluation at the University of Manitoba in Canada, and his colleagues launched a pilot program in 2008 in Gezawa, an area near Kano, northern Nigeria’s largest city, where there was strong opposition to polio vaccination.

    Working with a government health agency, they used mobile roadside film shows to educate the community about the risks of polio and show testimonies from caretakers of polio sufferers and those affected by the disease. And they directly involved local Muslim leaders called imams, who had been distrustful of the vaccination programs, to mobilize the communities.

    “This is the society I belong to, and I know how seriously they take the message from the Friday prayers. I believe they will take the advice of the imam most seriously,” said Aliyu, lead author of the report published […] in PLOS Medicine.

    In six months of the pilot program, the number of immunized children younger than 5 went from 2,755 to 11,364.


    A milestone for the program was when it gained the support of the Sultan of Sokoto, a spiritual leader in Nigeria, who helped launch the Northern Traditional Leaders Committee for Primary Health Care and Polio Eradication in 2009.


    “The missing link with campaigns in the past was that we didn’t figure out how to connect with the society,” Aliyu said. “From now on, we will maximize the use of traditional and religious leaders as part of the campaign.”

    When the committee of imams was launched in 2009, there were 384 new wild poliovirus cases reported in Nigeria, most in the northern states. By 2010, the number of reported cases had plummeted to 21.

    And then in 2014 WHO declared that polio was no longer endemic in Nigeria, there having been no cases for two years. However, it resurfaced in 2015(?), and there are still areas with a very low vaccine take-up rate.

  90. blf says

    And speaking of using local practices to solve local problems, from today’s International New York Times, A Voodoo Curse on Human Traffickers (also happens to be in Nigeria):

    Human traffickers have officially been cursed. On March 9, Oba Ewuare II, the traditional ruler of the kingdom of Benin, in southern Nigeria, put a voodoo curse on anyone who abets illegal migration within his domain. At the same time, he revoked the curses that leave victims of trafficking afraid that their relatives will die if they go to the police or fail to pay off their debt.

    Before being smuggled into Europe, women and girls in the area […] are made to sign a contract with the traffickers who finance their journey, promising to pay them thousands of dollars. The agreement is sealed with a voodoo, or juju, ritual, conducted by a spiritual priest […]

    The oba has authority over all the spiritual priests in the Benin kingdom (not to be confused with the West African country of Benin). He summoned them to his palace that Friday to make his announcement.


    What the oba has done is likely to be more effective than anything the international anti-trafficking community has managed to do after millions of dollars and many years.

    The Benin kingdom of the Edo people has a proud history dating back to the 13th century. But lately Edo State has gained notoriety as a hub of sexual exploitation. According to the United Nations, over 90 percent of the thousands of women taken from Nigeria to Europe to work as prostitutes are coming from Edo.


    The oba’s intervention was probably motivated by a recent CNN series on human trafficking that focused on Edo. Mr Edebiri said that the portrayal of the kingdom as a “den of illicit activity” outraged him and his colleagues. Around the same time, Julie Okah-Donli, the director of Nigeria’s National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons, paid the oba a visit. She said she told him that it was difficult to prosecute traffickers because the victims worried about breaking their oaths.

    The fear of these oaths and their supposed consequences is one big reason women remain enslaved in sex work and debt bondage; they often rebuff attempts by activists to set them free.


    “This belief in juju has been a strong impediment to our prosecution” of traffickers, Arinze Orakwue, a top official at the Nigerian anti-trafficking agency, told me. “You can’t prosecute when nobody is willing to come forward to say this person did this to me.”

    His agency expects Oba Ewuare’s pronouncement to have a significant impact in all of Edo. The oba’s decree “is a very strong weapon to support anti-trafficking,” Mr Orakwue said, because the Edo people’s “belief system is strongly rooted in traditional worship.”

    The agency’s appeal to the oba is an example of using African solutions to solve African problems. Well-meaning foreign governments and groups can continue to inject millions of dollars into Africa to fix our problems, but those interventions would be much more effective if local people and customs were more deeply considered.


    Well-done to Director Julie Okah-Donli; and to Ewuare II, Oba of Benin (formerly one of Nigeria’s Ambassadors).

  91. blf says

    Hehehe… Austrian full-face veil ban condemned as a failure by police:

    An Austrian ban on full-face coverings introduced as part of an “integration” policy aimed at limiting the visibility of orthodox Islam in public life has been criticised by police after it emerged that the law has mainly resulted in the issuing of warnings against people wearing smog masks, skiing gear and animal costumes.

    Figures published by the weekly news magazine Profil on Monday show that 29 charges citing the “anti-face-veiling act” have been filed with police since the law came into force last October.

    Research shows that only four of these charges concerned a face being covered by a veil — all of which were levelled at the same woman.

    In other instances, police issued warnings against people covering their faces with scarves, skiing masks or animal costumes. In the Tyrol, six charges were filed because of people wearing “winter clothing”, while a number of Asian tourists were requested to remove their smog masks at Vienna’s Schwechat airport.

    In late October, police in Vienna interrupted a camera crew filming outside the Austrian parliament and forced a man dressed as the rabbit Lesko, the official mascot of the parliament’s youth outreach scheme, to remove his bright-blue mask with furry ears.


    “If this law was intended as a contribution in the fight against conservative Islam, then I can only say: it’s gone belly up,” Hermann Greylinger of the Austrian police union told Profil, adding that many police officers were declining to actively enforce the law.


    [When the law was proposed in 2017], Muslim associations criticised the ban, suggesting that no more than about 150 women in Austria wore full veils.


    France also has one of these absurd laws (I believe it was the first in Europe). I don’t recall any ridiculous incidents similar to those in Austria, but like Austria, the law is unhelpful (Five years into ban, burqa divide widens in France (dated sometime in 2016)†):

    France is home to the largest number of Muslims in Western Europe, with about 5 million. When the law went into effect, it was estimated that fewer than 2,000 women wore the full veil.


    According to figures released by the Interior Ministry, as of October police had made 1,623 stops since the ban came into effect and handed out 1,546 fines to a total of 908 women. Several of them were repeat offenders. One was fined 33 times.

    Most of the women who wear niqabs nowadays live in the suburbs and have chosen to wear them as an act of defiance since the law came into effect, [filmmaker & sociologist Angus] De Feo says. Some feel that they are standing up to an attack on Islam, and others don’t necessarily have a religious motivation at all. […]

    The above DW excerpt is about Rachid Nekkaz, who pays the fine for many women in France and Belgium (over 1000 fines and 235,000€ at that time). I believe I’ve mentioned him before in this series of poopyhead threads. Mr Nekkaz himself does not support wearing the niqab: “I support their freedom to wear the clothing of their choice. If they choose freely to wear the niqab, in a democracy, I think we should support these women even if we don’t agree with their choice.”

      † The date is 10.04.2016. I have absolutely no idea whose convention DW (Deutsche Welle) is using, so am unclear if that means (04-)Oct-2016 or (10-)Apr-2016. Eejits. Examining other articles, it looks like it means the latter (April 2016).

  92. says

    “Christopher Steele’s Other Report: A Murder In Washington”:

    The FBI possesses a secret report asserting that Vladimir Putin’s former media czar was beaten to death by hired thugs in Washington, DC — directly contradicting the US government’s official finding that Mikhail Lesin died by accident.

    The report, according to four sources who have read all or parts of it, was written by the former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who also wrote the famous dossier alleging that Russia had been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” Donald Trump. The bureau received his report while it was helping the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Police Department investigate the Russian media baron’s death, the sources said.

    The BuzzFeed News series also revealed new details about Lesin — including that he died on the eve of a scheduled meeting with US Justice Department officials. They had planned to interview Lesin about the inner workings of RT, the Kremlin-funded network that he founded.

    Now BuzzFeed News has established:

    Steele’s report says that Lesin was bludgeoned to death by enforcers working for an oligarch close to Putin, the four sources said.

    The thugs had been instructed to beat Lesin, not kill him, but they went too far, the sources said Steele wrote.

    Three of the sources said that the report described the killers as Russian state security agents moonlighting for the oligarch.

    The Steele report is not the FBI’s only source for this account of Lesin’s death: Three other people, acting independently from Steele, said they also told the FBI that Lesin had been bludgeoned to death by enforcers working for the same oligarch named by Steele.

    Now BuzzFeed News has learned that federal prosecutors called witnesses before a grand jury during 2016 to compel them to testify under penalty of perjury about Lesin’s death, and they amassed more than 150 pages of material from the proceedings….

    Citing grand jury secrecy, two law enforcement officials with direct knowledge of the case declined to say what witnesses were called or describe their testimony. They said that prosecutors used a sitting grand jury, rather than empanelling one specifically for the Lesin case, and that they were investigating the media baron’s death as a homicide.

    Details about Steele’s Lesin report are based on interviews with 11 sources, almost all of whom are current or former FBI agents or US intelligence officials. Two sources said they had read the whole report, while two other sources each said they read about half of it. Seven others said they heard about it from colleagues or had been briefed on it….

  93. says

    Michael Avenatti: “To address the rumor: We DO NOT have a ‘Monica Lewinsky type’ dress. Thus, there is no dress to be tested for DNA. But we are making progress on the assault/stalking that occurred around the same time that Mr. Cohen threatened @intouchweekly magazine in May 2011.”

  94. says

    “Mormon Church changes policies on abusive relationships”:

    The Mormon church has changed its policies on domestic abuse and now advises leaders against encouraging members to stay in abusive relationships.

    Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) announced Monday that they had revised the church’s policies on preventing and responding to abuse.

    “Our hearts and prayers go out to all who are affected by this serious problem,” the church’s First Presidency wrote in the announcement….

  95. says

    Yvette Cooper goes next.

    Q: You say you have not seen evidence of Russia interfering in elections. Have you looked for this?

    May says she does not look for things herself. That is for others.

    Q: But have you asked government agencies to look at this?

    May says at the time of the election work was done to ensure the integrity of elections.

    Q: Don’t you think you should check, particularly in the light of the claims about Aleksandr Kogan? (See 3.55pm.)

    May says what is important is that the Electoral Commission look at this.

    Q: So you are not ordering an investigation?

    May says the Electoral Commission are looking at this.

    May is doing everything possible to dismiss the issue while pretending to take it seriously. She must have repeated “We’re not complacent” five times, while failing to point to anything to support that claim.

  96. says

    From retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens:

    […] For over 200 years after the adoption of the Second Amendment, it was uniformly understood as not placing any limit on either federal or state authority to enact gun control legislation. In 1939 the Supreme Court unanimously held that Congress could prohibit the possession of a sawed-off shotgun because that weapon had no reasonable relation to the preservation or efficiency of a “well regulated militia.”

    During the years when Warren Burger was our chief justice, from 1969 to 1986, no judge, federal or state, as far as I am aware, expressed any doubt as to the limited coverage of that amendment. When organizations like the National Rifle Association disagreed with that position and began their campaign claiming that federal regulation of firearms curtailed Second Amendment rights, Chief Justice Burger publicly characterized the N.R.A. as perpetrating “one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.” […]

    The quoted text above is from a New York Times op-ed.

    Additional perspective from Steve Benen:

    […] Putting aside some of the core issues at stake in the 2008 ruling, let’s not forget that Scalia’s 5-4 decision may have been celebrated by the right, but it nevertheless endorsed “longstanding prohibitions” on firearm ownership from felons and the mentally ill, bans on guns in government buildings, limits on the commercial sale of guns, and bans on “dangerous and unusual weapons,” including “M-16 rifles and the like.”

    In other words, the kinds of proposals reformers are demanding are entirely in line with the kind of constitutional framework Scalia articulated a decade ago – a framework the right claimed to support.

    I mention this, not to contradict Stevens, but to reject the idea of a binary choice between repealing the Second Amendment and leaving the status quo in place indefinitely. The same changes sought by leaders of the March for Our Lives could be approved immediately by lawmakers and could withstand a legal challenge from the NRA and its allies.

    What stands in the way is not the Second Amendment, but the political will of officials currently in office.

  97. says

    Republicans plan to use changes to the census to weaken Democrats and strengthen Republicans.

    From the Washington Post:

    […] Republicans already have a significant edge on the congressional and state legislative maps, thanks to how our population is distributed and to the GOP having earned the power to redraw lots of the new maps after the 2010 Census. And [yesterday’s Commerce Department announcement] could significantly increase their advantages for two reasons:

    1. It might dissuade noncitizens from participating in the census, thereby diluting the political power of the (mostly urban and Democratic) areas they come from.

    2. Even without that, it would hand Republicans a new tool in redrawing districts even more in their favor.

    From The New Republic:

    […] the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 census questionnaire will both lower the response rate of households and threaten the accuracy of the count.

    According to a September 2017 census memo, researchers conducting field tests last year noticed a “new phenomenon” of increased fear among immigrant participants. Many of them referenced concerns about the “Muslim ban” and Immigration and Customs Enforcement activities, which caused people to report inaccurate information or refuse to participate at all.

    The addition of a citizenship question would exacerbate this climate of fear among minority and immigrant populations and drive critical participation levels even lower.

    California’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, says he will sue to challenge the legality of the Republican plan: “Including the question is not just a bad idea – it is illegal.”

    And here is the excuse/bogus reason that the Trump administration is putting forward for this change:

    The Commerce Department said Monday that the 2020 U.S. Census would include a question about citizenship status.

    The Commerce Department said in a statement that the citizenship data would help the Justice Department enforce the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voting rights. Opponents have said the question will discourage immigrants from responding to the census.

    A bipartisan group of 161 mayors have asked the Trump administration NOT to politicize or sabotage the national count.

  98. says

    Follow-up to comment 102.

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] By all evidence […] Trump had to be pushed to sign off on this expulsion of Russian diplomats/spies. Reports also say that Trump refused to commit to the expulsion until he saw that other European allies committing first. Both domestically and internationally, Trump seems to have been faced by a fait accompli. All that said, he did sign off on a major expulsion. Yet note that Russia appears to be placing the blame on the United States and President Trump.

    At some level perhaps this is unsurprising. The US is Russia’s decades long geopolitical rival – not the UK, Germany or the Netherlands. But this is part of a pattern that is worrisome and revealing on a number of levels.

    This latest move notwithstanding, President Trump has been extremely accommodating toward Russia and lavish in his praise and defense of Vladimir Putin. It has not been reciprocated. Russia has continued with a series of aggressive buzzing of US navy ships, particularly in the seas north of Europe. Putin gave that wild speech about new nuclear missiles that could obliterate Florida and could overwhelm any missile defense (we’ve known both are true for like half a century). Trump’s toadying has been met with provocations and what can only be called trolling, though perhaps that’s not yet part of international relations jargon.

    Something is up here.

  99. says

    “NRA Says It Receives Foreign Funds, But None Goes To Election Work”:

    The National Rifle Association acknowledged that it accepts foreign donations but says it does not use them for election work — even as federal investigators look into the role the NRA might have played in Russia’s attack on the 2016 election.

    Pressure on the organization has also been increased by a McClatchy report that suggested that the FBI had been investigating whether a top Russian banker with Kremlin ties illegally funneled money to the NRA to aid Donald Trump’s campaign for president. The Federal Election Commission has also opened a preliminary investigation into this question.

    The NRA is not required to be transparent about how money moves among its various political entities, and this leaves questions unanswered about how these foreign funds were ultimately spent….

    Their responses to Sen. Wyden suggest they have something to hide.

  100. says

    According to the Washington Post, Trump continues to claim in private that the Stormy Daniels story is a “hoax.” Trump is also telling people that he does not find Stormy Daniels attractive. So, apparently, part of Trump’s proof that this is a hoax is that Ms. Daniels is not his type.

    In other news, here is an update on hurricane-battered Puerto Rico that looks at the situation by comparing Puerto Rico to Houston:

    […] “We have the U.S. Army and Marine Corps. We go anywhere, anytime we want in the world,” bemoaned retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who led the military’s relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. “And [in Puerto Rico] we didn’t use those assets the way they should have been used.” […]

    No two hurricanes are alike, and Harvey and Maria were vastly different storms that struck areas with vastly different financial, geographic and political situations. But a comparison of government statistics relating to the two recovery efforts strongly supports the views of disaster-recovery experts that FEMA and the Trump administration exerted a faster, and initially greater, effort in Texas, even though the damage in Puerto Rico exceeded that in Houston.

    Within six days of Hurricane Harvey, U.S. Northern Command had deployed 73 helicopters over Houston, which are critical for saving victims and delivering emergency supplies. It took at least three weeks after Maria before it had more than 70 helicopters flying above Puerto Rico.

    Nine days after the respective hurricanes, FEMA had approved $141.8 million in individual assistance to Harvey victims, versus just $6.2 million for Maria victims.

    During the first nine days after Harvey, FEMA provided 5.1 million meals, 4.5 million liters of water and over 20,000 tarps to Houston; but in the same period, it delivered just 1.6 million meals, 2.8 million liters of water and roughly 5,000 tarps to Puerto Rico.

    Nine days after Harvey, the federal government had 30,000 personnel in the Houston region, compared with 10,000 at the same point after Maria.

    It took just 10 days for FEMA to approve permanent disaster work for Texas, compared with 43 days for Puerto Rico.

    Seventy-eight days after each hurricane, FEMA had approved 39 percent of federal applications for relief from victims of Harvey, versus 28 percent for Maria. […]

    Much more at the link.

    Politico link

  101. quotetheunquote says

    @SC #151:


    Paging a Time Lord! Take us back please….

  102. says

    Follow-up to comment 148.

    Here are some responses from Democrats:

    […] Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who heads the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, said his group would sue the administration to block the question.

    “Make no mistake — this decision is motivated purely by politics,” Holder said.

    Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez called the addition “a craven attack on our democracy and a transparent attempt to intimidate immigrant communities.”

    Civil rights groups also opposed adding the question to the decennial survey. […] the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights — an organization that includes senior officials from the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, the AARP and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, among many other groups — said the question would degrade the quality of the data the census produces.

    “Adding a new citizenship question to the 2020 Census would destroy any chance for an accurate count, discard years of careful research, and increase costs significantly,” the group wrote.

    The Justice Department cited Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in its request for the new question, but civil rights groups said the department had never used Census data to enforce the Voting Rights Act in the first place.

    “As attorney general, I did not — nor did my predecessors — request the addition of a citizenship question to the decennial census to enforce the [Voting Rights Act],” Holder said in a statement. “We did not need to: Data derived from the existing census process was perfectly adequate for any voting litigation that arose.”


  103. says

    Follow-up to comment 154.

    From Senator Chuck Schumer:

    The census, written about and hallowed in the Constitution, is being distorted by this administration for political purposes. President Trump and Secretary Ross should be ashamed of themselves. Hopefully the courts will correct this glaring abuse.

    From Senator Diane Feinstein:

    Adding a question designed to depress participation in certain communities is an assault on the foundations of this country. Given President Trump’s toxic rhetoric and aggressive policies toward immigrants, it’s clear his administration wants to include this question to discourage participation in immigrant communities.

    From Senator Dick Durbin:

    Politics has no place in the census, but this administration will stop at nothing to push its anti-immigrant agenda.

    Meanwhile, Trump’s re-election campaign and associated PACs are fundraising on the proposal. The fundraising also reveals the political nature of the citizenship question addition to the census.

  104. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Disgraced former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who’s running for the US Senate seat Jeff Flake is giving up, promised a group of fans at the Western Conservative Conference in Phoenix last weekend that once he’s a member of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body, he’ll finally be able to address one of the most burning issues of our age: Barack Obama’s phony birth certificate. And yes, he got applause for it. […]

    His audience seemed very appreciative of Arpaio’s promise to finally nail down Barack Obama’s birth certificate once he has real power, which makes perfect sense for the current crop of wingnuts. It’s not enough, he seems to be saying, to simply reverse as many of Obama’s policies as possible. The hardcore rightwing loonies genuinely dream of the great day when they can declare Obama’s two terms in office null and void, finally removing him from history altogether. Only then will they have their country back — a country that never, ever had a black president.


  105. says

    […] CRAY BONKERS panel discussion on the Anderson Cooper show “This Is A News Program, Kind Of,” which runs on CNN while the Chris Hayes TV Hour is happening on MSNBC. David Schwartz, who appears to be a two-bit wanna-be thug lawyer, and who represents fellow two-bit wanna-be thug lawyer Michael [Cohen], was on the panel, along with Avenatti and Jeffrey Toobin, and oh boy, what a show! But where Schwartz did the POUNDY POUNDY YELLY MADNESS thing, because he has nothing to say, Avenatti just grinned and let the baby cry, while he looked at Anderson Cooper like “Are you seeing this right now?” […]

    Avenatti was able to do this because Michael Cohen and his lawyer are both very bad lawyers, and it’s best to just let them dig their own graves every time they open their mouths.

    Scroll down to view the video.


  106. tomh says

    “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” — Napoléon Bonaparte

  107. says

    Yep, this pretty much sums up why so many Republicans are deciding not to run for office again:

    Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.) announced his retirement […] the Pennsylvania Republican conceded to his local paper that Donald Trump’s antics influenced his decision. “Whether it’s Stormy Daniels, or passing an omnibus spending bill that the president threatens to veto after promising to sign, it’s very difficult to move forward in a constructive way today,” Costello said.

  108. says


    Still feeling spurned by the paltry $1.6 billion allotted for his border wall in last week’s funding bill, […] Trump is now urging the military to pay for the project, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.

    Trump ended an early Sunday morning tweet detailing the wealth of the military and the necessity of the border wall with “Build WALL through M!” Unnamed advisers told the Washington Post that “M” stands for military.

    According to the report, Trump floated the idea to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Wednesday, receiving little reaction, though unnamed senior officials later dismissed the viability of the proposal. […]

  109. says

    Well, what did you expect them to say?

    It’s a morning for reassurances. First Kellyanne Conway declared that the expulsion of Russian diplomats over the nerve agent attack on the UK means Trump never liked the Russians. Now White House Counsel Don McGahn has determined that $500 million in loans that Jared Kushner picked up after Trump moved into the White House is also no cause for concern.

    In a statement from Kushner attorney Abbe Lowell to CBS News early Tuesday, Lowell says he confirms White House counsel has concluded there were “no issues involving Jared.” […]

    No cause for concern. No issues involving Jared. Is that sarcasm?


  110. tomh says

    Op-Ed in the NYT today, “Yes, You Can Indict the President.”

    He wouldn’t hold a criminal trial until a president were out of office, but, “An indictment in this context serves a critically important purpose: Without it, the usual five-year statute of limitations for most federal crimes would elapse, forever precluding a president from being held accountable for potentially serious crimes.”

  111. says

    Follow-up to comments 148, 154 and 156.

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied about the citizenship question in the U.S. census. She lied during the press briefing today.

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders falsely claimed on Tuesday that the citizenship question the Trump administration decided to add to the 2020 Census has been part of the national survey for decades.

    “This is a question that’s been included in every census since 1965, with the exception of 2010 when it was removed,” Sanders said, later repeating the same claim.

    The citizenship question has not been part of the census since 1950. As Michael Li, a voting and redistricting lawyer with the Brennan Center for Justice, explained, a citizenship question has been included on the ongoing American Community Survey, but not on the full form, decennial census since the middle of the twentieth century. […]


    Time traveling back to 1950.

  112. says

    SC @173: bad poetry can kill.

    Follow-up to comment 165:

    Trump, who told advisers he was spurned in a large spending bill last week when lawmakers appropriated only $1.6 billion for the border wall, has begun suggesting that the Pentagon could fund the sprawling construction, citing a “national security” risk.

    After floating the notion to several advisers last week, he told House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) that the military should pay for the wall, according to three people familiar with the meeting last Wednesday in the White House residence. Ryan offered little reaction to the notion, these people said, but senior Capitol Hill officials later said it was an unlikely prospect.

    The individuals spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely about private discussions.

  113. says

    ICE being unethical, inhuman monsters:

    Army Private 1st Class Miguel Perez, Jr., the Afghanistan veteran deported by the Trump administration this past weekend, said Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents took selfies “like fishermen with a prize fish” during the flight and despite being transported with a group of others, was singled out ahead of them. “They wanted to make sure to get rid of me first,” he told the Chicago Tribune. Perez wasn’t allowed to say goodbye to his family and “didn’t realize he’d been deported to Mexico until it was too late to turn back,” CNN reported:

    Perez was escorted across the US-Mexico border from Texas and handed over to Mexican authorities Friday, ICE said in a statement. Perez says a truck took him to an airport in Indiana. He was then flown to Brownsville, Texas, ICE said.

    When he got off the plane, Perez said he arrived at a “place that looked like an office.”

    “I did not know it was already the bridge to enter the other side,” he said, adding that he walked through a door that closed quickly behind him. “When I went back they told me everything is over.”

    Perez had been in ICE detention since 2016, after getting his green card revoked over a nonviolent drug conviction. Perez “said that what he saw and experienced in Afghanistan sent his life off the rails,” leading him to struggle with PTSD and addiction. The same administration that wants to throw a parade to honor the military could have stopped his deportation and helped put him on a road to recovery. They didn’t. “Although I am free,” Perez said from Tijuana, “there is not much joy in being free.” […]


  114. says

    “Putin’s Grim Reality: Public Fury Over Children’s Deaths in Mall”:

    At the end of a month that has seen him unveil new “invincible” missiles, announce a space mission to Mars and secure a sky-high vote in Russia’s election, President Vladimir V. Putin faced a grim reality on the ground Tuesday: a nation enraged by the deaths of children trapped in a burning mall.

    Mr. Putin traveled to Siberia to lay flowers next to a makeshift memorial for at least 64 people, many of them children, who burned to death on Sunday. Some of the children died as they banged on locked exit doors and screamed for help from their parents over cellphones.

    “How could this ever happen?” Mr. Putin asked local officials, echoing a question now being asked across Russia by a population that just recently voted overwhelming to re-elect a president who, during his previous 18 years in power, repeatedly boasted of making Russia strong and safe.

    Public anger at the horrendous fire — and claims that official bungling and corruption played a part — drowned out official fury over Monday’s expulsion of Russian diplomats by 23 countries. Even on state-controlled television, news about the fire pushed aside routine denunciations of the West as the agent of Russia’s ills just as four more countries ordered out diplomats over a nerve-agent attack for which London has blamed Moscow.

    Horrific accounts of children struggling to escape the blazing shopping mall, however, distracted public attention from a diplomatic crisis that would normally have been seized on by the Kremlin to launch a noisy campaign stoking patriotic fervor and promoting its view of Russia as a besieged fortress whose problems are mostly because of “Russophobic” foreigners.

    Mr. Putin’s comforting words in Siberia, where he harangued officials and visited the memorial, had to compete with a rival narrative of corruption spread on social media and on the website of Aleksei A. Navlny, the anti-corruption campaigner who was barred from running in the March 18 election against Mr. Putin.

    That Russia is far from being a monolithic one-party state, despite Mr. Putin’s lopsided re-election, was clear from the organization in Moscow on Tuesday evening of two separate events to mourn the dead in Kemerovo.

    One was state-sponsored, near the Kremlin; the other was held in Pushkin Square, by Muscovites who wanted no part in the official gathering. The alternative wake began as a solemn vigil with mourners burning candles and laying flowers, some of them in tears, but gradually turned into a small-scale political rally with chants of “Russian without Putin!” “Corruption kills!” “Shame on television!” and “Silence means death!”

    [Putin] blamed “criminal negligence” and “slovenliness” for the blaze, which started in a children’s play area and then swept through nearby cinemas crowded with young people.

    Mr. Putin avoided mention of what many, including those who lost family members, believe was the real cause of the fire: a state system, including multiple agencies responsible for limiting fire and other risks, eaten away by corruption and incompetence.

    Igor Vostrikov, who lost his wife, three children and a sister in the fire, summed up this view with an enraged message on social media. “I no longer have a family,” Mr. Vostrikov wrote. “The ruling regime is guilty. Every bureaucrat dreams of stealing like Putin. Every state functionary treats people like garbage.”

    Government investigators, added Mr. Vostrikov, “will find a scapegoat, and the issue will be done with, but the threats — incompetence, widespread corruption, alcoholism and total degradation of society — will go nowhere.”

    Despite draconian fire regulations and an army of inspectors to enforce them, Russia has one of the world’s worst fire safety records. Between 2001 and 2015, according to a study by International Association of Fire and Rescue Services, Russia had an average of 7.5 deaths per 100,000 people from fires, compared with 1 in the United States, 2.7 in Kazakhstan and 0.5 in France and Germany. Russia, where fire inspectors are notorious for extorting bribes, had the worst death rate of 41 countries covered by the study….

  115. says

    “Seth Rich’s brother sues right-wing activists, Washington Times over conspiracy theories”:

    The brother of Seth Rich, the slain Democratic National Committee staffer whose unsolved murder became the basis for conspiracy theories on the far-right, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against individuals and media organizations that he alleges peddled false and unfounded claims about him.

    The lawsuit, filed by Aaron Rich in US District Court in the District of Columbia, accuses Ed Butowsky, a wealthy Texas businessman; Matt Couch, a fringe internet activist; America First Media, Couch’s media company; and The Washington Times, a conservative newspaper, of acting “with reckless disregard for the truth.”

    Seth Rich was fatally shot in Washington, DC, in July 2016. Police have said evidence indicates he was the victim of a botched robbery, but in the wake of his death, far-right activists and media organizations suggested something far more sinister. Without real evidence, they peddled a conspiracy theory that said Seth Rich leaked a trove of DNC emails to Wikileaks and was killed in retribution for the supposed leak. The theory was convenient for some on the right as they disputed allegations Russia hacked the DNC, something President Trump had raised doubts about.

    Aaron Rich’s lawsuit seeks damages for harm to his reputation and emotional distress, among other things, against Butowsky, Couch, America First Media, and The Washington Times for suggesting he played a role in the supposed email theft.

    Couch said in a Periscope video that he learned of the lawsuit from media reports and was “being sued for investigating the truth.” He then signaled to his audience that he would not back down.

    “You’re not going to detour us from investigating this and reporting the truth,” he said. “And what you’ve done now is you’ve opened yourself up to a discovery phase. A discovery phase. Which means now I can subpoena your phone records, the laptops, your cell phones. And guess what folks? I want it all.”…

    Truly vile.

  116. blf says

    League of the South: No more armed rallies in Charlottesville:

    The neo-Confederate group agreed not to assemble with weapons in the city still reeling from August’s far-right protest.

    The neo-Confederate League of the South (LoS) group has agreed not to rally as an “armed milita” in Charlottesville, Virginia […]


    The deal, which was signed off by Judge Richard Moore on Monday, is part of an ongoing civil lawsuit filed by Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection.

    The suit defines an “armed militia” as two or more armed members of the same group acting in concert.

    LoS will still be able to rally in Charlottesville, without weapons, and a single armed member will be allowed to enter the city.

    If the neo-Confederate group breaks the agreement, police will not be able to arrest them immediately, due to the fact the suit was filed in civil court. Another civil suit of contempt will have to be filed before action can be taken.


    League of the South was founded in 1994 and advocates for southern states to secede from the US. It has been active in the alt-right […].

    The SPLC considers League of the South a hate group.


    On April 7, the group plans to hold a demonstration in Wetumpka, Alabama, where it will honour David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), according to its website.


    Trivia: This is the first Al Jazeera article I can recall excerpting which hasn’t bothered to explain what “SPLC” stands for, or what the SPLC does. Whilst I can understand the utility of a quick synopsis for readers (presumably mostly non-USAian) who are unsure of who-is-what in the States, it does get a bit tiresome.

  117. blf says

    Fintan O’Toole, writing in the Irish Times, warns of hair fururian / brexit Cambridge Analytica tactics to keep Ireland’s near-total ban on abortion (there is a referendum in May), Abortion fake-news firestorm heading our way (the ban is known as the “8th” amendment to the Irish Constitution):

    Why has Save the 8th hired consultant at heart of Trump-Mercer-Brexit data nexus?

    If you like my stuff you’re an ignoramus. Many people would agree with this as a general proposition, but I mean it in a more specific sense. If you’ve ever liked or shared one of my columns online, data-analysis firms probably identify you as a hopeless lefty liberal. And you will therefore be ignorant of the big social-media campaign against the repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which bans abortion in almost all circumstances. That campaign will be modelled on those that helped both Donald Trump and Brexit to victory. It will use microtargeting to direct specific messages to those who can be most easily swayed by them. You won’t see them — and as things stand Irish regulations will do nothing to control them.


    [Thomas] Borwick is an alumnus of the now notorious Cambridge Analytica, which is owned by Robert Mercer, the billionaire Trump ally who also funds the far-right website Breitbart. Borwick was also a consultant to Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Group. And Borwick was technology director of the Vote Leave campaign, which spent more than half its entire budget with AggregateIQ, as well as the sole shareholder of Voter Consultancy Ltd, which came to prominence in Britain last November, when it used highly targeted Facebook ads to urge protests against specific anti-Brexit Tory MPs. Taking us back across the Atlantic, these ads were placed on behalf of a shadowy Florida-registered organisation called Brexit Realities. Borwick has also recently formed a company called (I kid you not) Disruptive Communications Ltd with the former Ukip MP Douglas Carswell.

    According to John McGuirk of Save the 8th, [the UK-based data-analytics and political-campaigning company] Kanto has been hired merely to create a website and track its use. This may well be so, but it is decidedly odd. Kanto is Thomas Borwick. […]

    [… H]iring Borwick to create and manage a website is like employing the SAS to run security at a school hop or bringing in Einstein to tot up your shopping bill. He seems awfully overqualified for the job. There are probably thousands of people in Ireland who could create a campaign website that would allow McGuirk and his colleagues to tell, as he puts it, whether “600 people from Tipperary are logging on”. I am sure there are highly motivated anti-abortion idealists who would even do this for free.

    So why do you need to bring in the person who ran the Brexit operation, one of the most successful campaigns of digital persuasion yet seen? How do you just happen to hire someone who is right at the heart of the Trump-Mercer-Brexit data-manipulation nexus? If the anti-abortion campaign can really afford this kind of overkill, we can also expect every Save the 8th leaflet to be delivered to our doors on a silver platter by a liveried courier riding a white charger.

    But assuming that Save the 8th really has no intention of using the dark techniques that were so successful for Trump and the Brexiteers, the certainty is that someone else will. The Irish vote matters deeply to the hard right internationally. The Eighth Amendment has always been a model for what it wants to see elsewhere, especially in the United States. Money will be no object […]

    Mr O’Toole’s point about the hard right outside Ireland being interested in the referendum could be part of the explanation for the zillions of fake farcebork(? twittering?) accounts with Irish-seeming names that are known to have popped into existence. KG (as I recall) speculated there might be a connection to the referendum, but I couldn’t see one at that time. Hair furorian / brexit Cambridge Analytica tactics and interest by outside-Ireland nutters seems like the “missing” plausible connection.

    This threat is also discussed in the New York Times, As Irish Abortion Vote Nears, Fears of Foreign Influence Rise:

    Of the eight members of the anti-abortion Irish Center for Bio-Ethical Reform who protested outside the offices of The Irish Times on a recent weekday, only three — including the group’s leader, Jean Engela — are Irish. The others include Americans and a Hungarian.


    An ethics regulator recently ordered two abortion-rights groups, Amnesty International Ireland and the Abortion Rights Campaign, to return grants of $150,000 and $25,000 to George Soros’s Open Society Foundations. It said the money was a foreign political donation intended to affect the outcome of a referendum or election, and therefore banned.

    But so far it does not appear that any anti-abortion groups have been asked to return overseas donations, despite reports that money is being openly raised on their behalf, particularly in the United States.

    One American group, the Pro-Life Action League, told an Irish newspaper in 2012 that anti-abortion groups were raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to support Irish anti-abortion groups like Youth Defence, which has been linked to far-right movements in Europe.


    The Irish Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, which picketed The Irish Times, receives foreign funding but claims to be exempt from government oversight. We are an educational body, Dr Engela said.

    He denied that the protest had anything to do with the coming vote, and asserted that some of the volunteers were full-time activists with their own sources of funding.


    The Save the 8th Campaign, an anti-abortion group, has hired Kanto Systems, a London-based political consultancy, to help run its campaign.

    Kanto Systems’s founder, Thomas Borwick, was chief technology officer for the Vote Leave campaign in Britain, and developed a canvassing app for Cambridge Analytica, the data-mining organization that exploited Facebook data on behalf of the 2016 Trump campaign.

    John McGuirk, a spokesman for Save the 8th, said that in the Irish electoral system, which does not have online voter rolls, individually targeted advertising of the sort practiced by Cambridge Analytica would not be possible. In terms of targeting advertising at individual voters, we couldn’t do that even if we wanted to, which we don’t, he said.


    The Transparent Referendum Initiative, a small group of Irish technology advocates, said it had already detected paid social media campaigns stealthily targeting Irish voters. This month, the group introduced a crowdsourced monitoring tool to detect and investigate anonymous or vaguely sourced paid advertising on Facebook. It has already identified 92 such ads relating to the Irish referendum, 55 with anti-abortion messages and 37 in support of abortion rights.


    “There is no law against someone anywhere else in the world signing a commercial contract with a British company to use foreign money or unknown money, that is not going through any official regulated campaign, in order to influence an Irish vote,” said Liz Carolan of the Transparent Referendum Initiative. “There’s a serious vulnerability in our democratic system. And it’s now being exploited by incredibly sophisticated campaign techniques, and Facebook doesn’t have to tell us who’s doing it.”


    The article goes on to quote farcebork as saying, in effect, maybe we’ll do something that might do something about things like this, eventually, but not before the referendum.

  118. says

    Hm. Reading van der Zwaan’s sentencing memorandum…kinda makes me more suspicious of him. It sounds almost like when he was at Skadden his loyalties were really with Manafort and Gates. I’m not quite buying his explanation for the lies and evidence withheld. And the long section on how he lost his job, is facing mounting expenses, and will have a hard time supporting his family, when his wife’s father has $10 billion (ranks 11th on Forbes’ list of Russian billionaires), is a bit hard to take.

  119. says

    Update to #184 – Mueller’s sentencing memorandum spells it out: van der Zwaan was basically working with Manafort, Gates, Kilimnik, and unknown people in Ukraine and Russia and consistently lying – including to Skadden – about the report. It appears from these documents that he wasn’t a young, innocent lawyer who got caught up in something big, panicked, and told a few lies to the special counsel because he was worried about losing his job. He’s crooked.

  120. says

    Mueller’s memo says that Person A (presumably Kilimnik) had ties to Russian intelligence when van der Zwaan – along with Manafort and Gates, of course – was talking to (conspiring with) him in late 2016. van der Zwaan also knew at the time that he was a former GRU officer because Gates had told him.

  121. says

    “‘Crimes’ committed by Brexit campaigners? One extraordinary coincidence offers a new clue”:

    …Now, openDemocracy has uncovered more information that casts serious doubt on Vote Leave’s contention that Grimes’s BeLeave was a separate campaign. Vote Leave and Darren Grimes made the very same mistake on their returns to the Electoral Commission.

    In all, the various Leave campaigns sent 14 invoices to AggregateIQ for digital campaigning and marketing work worth over £3.5m. The DUP and Veterans for Britain correctly listed AIQ’s address in their returns. But Vote Leave and Darren Grimes both listed the exact same incorrect address. And Darren Grimes’s signature doesn’t even appear on the invoice.

    Speaking today, SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes said that this was further evidence of Leave groups working together: “It can only be explained by one person filling out multiple forms for different groups, and making the same mistake…The case that senior Leave members have to answer becomes more serious by the day.”…

  122. says

    The Republican tax bill is turning out to be pretty much what we thought it was, a way to make corporations and rich people richer.

    […] Right after Republicans in Congress passed their tax bill, lowering tax rates on corporations, companies delivered a very public thank-you: a series of bonus and investment announcements. It was a major PR opportunity for both corporate America and the GOP, meant to show that American businesses were sharing their billions of dollars in tax cut savings with their workers and the broader economy.

    But over the next few months, the real winners from the corporate tax cut became clear – not workers and consumers, but shareholders. Companies have boosted dividends and stock buybacks.

    Vox link

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Business Insider reported yesterday […] “A new survey published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in conjunction with Stanford University and University of Chicago Booth School economists shows [the measures in the new Republican tax plan] have done little to bolster corporate investment plans.”

    As for the public, a CNBC poll, released yesterday, found that a majority of Americans have seen “no change in their paychecks” as a result of the new tax cuts.

    Some, however, have reason to be pleased: the Wall Street Journal reported this week that the average banker bonus in New York City “was $184,220 last year, the biggest annual haul for Wall Street employees since before the financial crisis.”

    Note, that $184,220 figure isn’t the salary; that’s just the average size of the bonus for New York bankers.

    After seeing a report like that, it’s hard not to think of House Speaker Paul Ryan and his recent boast about that secretary in Pennsylvania who’s now getting an extra $1.50 per week thanks to the Republican plan.

  123. says

    “All 22 female senators slam chamber’s ‘inaction’ on sexual harassment”:

    All 22 senators — from both parties — have written a letter to Senate leadership expressing their “deep disappointment” in the Senate’s “inaction” in moving sexual harassment legislation forward.

    They are calling for a vote on the legislation that would overhaul how sexual harassment claims are handled on Capitol Hill.
    “We write to express our deep disappointment that the Senate has failed to enact meaningful reforms to the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995,” the letter says. “We urge you to bring before the full Senate legislation that would update and strengthen the procedures available to survivors of sexual harassment and discrimination in congressional workplaces.”

    The letter, sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, was spearheaded by Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand and Patty Murray and signed by every female US senator….

  124. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Kansas schools that refuse to allow teachers to carry guns could be held legally responsible in the event of a tragedy under a proposal drafted after last month’s mass shooting at a Florida high school.

    Opponents of the measure, which got its first hearing Tuesday in front of the House Insurance Committee, expressed concern it could effectively mandate arming teachers rather than allowing it, as several states have done.

    […] the bill would prohibit insurers from denying coverage to a school because it lets its teachers or staff members carry weapons.

    At least nine other states have provisions in place giving teachers the option of carrying guns in schools, but the Kansas plan seems to go further than most other laws in place or under consideration. […]

    Rep. Blake Carpenter, a conservative Derby Republican who helped write the legislation that holds schools liable, said he is confident armed and trained teachers will save lives. […]

    Gun control advocates say the portion that presumes negligence against school districts is highly unusual and seems to match closely with concealed carry laws typically applied to businesses in some states, and not schools.

    Kansas law has allowed teachers to carry concealed guns since 2013 but school districts across the state have disallowed the practice after EMC Insurance Companies, the state’s primary school insurer, refused to provide coverage to schools with armed staff. […]

    Carpenter said for an insurance company to increase rates or to outright refuse to provide coverage to a school, it would have to prove that having an armed staff creates a higher risk environment. […]


  125. says

    Update to #169 – Netanyahu has been released from the hospital. He has a viral upper respiratory infection.

    “On Monday, Netanyahu was questioned for more than four hours by the Israeli police at his residence in Jerusalem as part of an investigation of a corruption case in which he is a suspect. His wife, Sara, and son, Yair, were questioned at a different location as part of the same investigation.”

  126. says

    Healthcare insurance update:

    […] Congress’ last-ditch effort to pass a bill to stabilize Obamacare’s struggling individual market fell apart, and the omnibus went to the President’s desk without it. This means insurance companies will likely announce major rate hikes this September, just before the midterm elections. […]

    The core of the proposal was the same federal reinsurance program and restoration of CSR payments that senators have been struggling to pass since last summer. But Democrats who had long campaigned for a stabilization bill revolted over GOP provisions in the version that was part of the omnibus spending package. One such provision expanded to the private insurance market a ban preventing federal funding of abortion. Another codified Trump administration guidance on cheap, short-term health insurance that Democrats call “junk plans.” The former would have meant a significant and permanent expansion of abortion restrictions, and the latter would have made it easier for companies to sell skimpy plans that charge people more or turn them away based on their age, gender and whether they have a pre-existing condition. […]

    In other words, Republicans inserted anti-abortion poison pills; and they included protections for insurance companies that scam the people that pay premiums. Republicans probably did this on purpose in order to stick another knife in Obamacare. They knew Democrats would not go for it.

    Congress’ failure to shore up Obamacare’s individual market means the spotlight is once again on the states, who now have just a few months to prevent the predicted double-digit rate increases.

    State legislatures could vote to ask HHS for permission to set up their own reinsurance programs — something Colorado and others are currently exploring. Other states are looking into ways to contain the damage to the market expected from the Trump administration’s short-term and Association Health Plans, both of which are expected to drain younger and healthier patients out of the regulated ACA market into “junk” plans. Washington State wants to force these short-term plans to follow many of the ACA’s rules, while New Jersey wants to ban them altogether. […]


    Trump is going to blame the resulting mess on Obama.

  127. says

    Carpenter said for an insurance company to increase rates or to outright refuse to provide coverage to a school, it would have to prove that having an armed staff creates a higher risk environment.

    Which would be very difficult, with only all of the data in the world to draw on.

  128. says

    Stormy Daniels’ lawyer is pushing harder to get Trump and Cohen into court, where they can be deposed.

    Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing porn actress Stormy Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Tump and his personal attorney Michael Cohen, on Wednesday filed a motion to depose both Trump and Cohen. […]

    In the filing, Avenatti said that he would like to depose Trump and Cohen each for no longer than two hours. He also asked for no more than 10 “targeted requests for production of documents directed to Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen on various topics relating to the Hush Agreement.” He said that he would like to depose the two men within three weeks of the court approving the motion.

    In a separate filing submitted to support the request for depositions and discovery, Avenatti said that he spoke with counsel for Essential Consulting on March 21 and that the defense argued that there should not be any discovery in the case and that the case should be sent to arbitration.

    Avenatti argued that discovery is necessary to resolve factual disputes between Stormy Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, and Cohen, including whether Trump knew about and consented to the hush agreement, how Trump may have communicated with Cohen about the agreement and where the money used to pay Daniels for her silence originated from. […]


  129. says


    […] there are now 54 FBI agents dedicated, full-time, to the vital task of providing House Republicans with information on investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Because Hillary Clinton’s emails continue to be the most important issue facing the nation. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team consists of approximately forty people, including 17 attorneys and twenty-some investigators.

    There are now officially more people investigating Hillary Clinton’s email, than Trump–Russia. […]

    One probe will deal with why the Obama administration allowed a Russian company to acquire U.S. uranium mines, and a second will look into why the FBI decided not to pursue charges against Clinton for use of a personal email server. […]


  130. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comments 186 and 189.

    The new Mueller court filing links the Trump campaign, Russian intelligence, and Wikileaks. There are direct connections.

    Trump exploited those direct connections on the campaign trail.

    […] Though Trump has tried to spin Manafort and Gates’ alleged criminal conduct as happening “years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign,” recent court filings indicate Gates was lying about his foreign bank accounts as recently as October 2017.

    Trump has repeatedly denied any connection with Russia, but a recent report by The Moscow Project detailed 70 contacts between Trump’s team and Russia-linked operatives, including at least 22 meetings — and none of them were reported to the proper authorities.


  131. says

    Betsy DeVos is using school shootings to justify draconian new discipline guidelines.

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Republican lawmakers are considering moves that may undo years of progress in dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline.

    A White House commission on school safety plans to hold its first meeting on Wednesday. […] There are already a lot of critics of the commission since teachers and students will be missing from the conversation, and the commission seems to be more interested in media coverage of school shootings and the influence of video games than on reforming gun policy.

    But one of the biggest concerns is that the commission is considering rolling back Obama administration guidance on school discipline that discouraged officers from disciplining students and pushed for more positive and less punitive responses to student behavior. In other words, the federal government will undo the Obama administration’s work to keep students in school and out of the criminal justice system.

    That 2014 Obama-era guidance addressed racial disparities in school discipline. Black preschool children were 3.6 times more likely than white children to receive one or more out-of-school suspensions, according to 2016 U.S. Department of Education data. Black students were 1.9 times more likely than white students to be expelled from school without educational services in K-12 and were 2.3 times more likely to be disciplined through involvement of officers. […]

    More at the link.

  132. says

    YouTube slapped him on the wrist for calling survivors of the Parkland, Florida shooting “crisis actors,” and then Alex Jones backed off a little. Not for long. We are now seeing more defamation of students from the rightwing whacko:

    […] Jones has veered back into more familiar territory. In a video released on Saturday, Infowars described the March for Our Lives as the “Hitler Youth” invasion of Washington, D.C.

    “Young fascists-in-training were corralled into the nation’s capitol to demand that government authoritarians strip away the civil liberties of all law-abiding Americans in the name of ‘gun control,’ Jones’ video said in its description.

    On Tuesday, Jones’ Infowars released a video depicting the Parkland survivors as members of the Hitler Youth — complete with audio from a Nazi rally. “They’re telling us it’s our fault and that old people are bad and that guns are bad and that they’re the future and they’re gonna take all of our rights,” Jones literally screamed. “It’s on folks, they’re coming for all your rights globally.” […]


    […] despite these absurd comparisons of the Parkland survivors to Hitler Youth, and Jones’ continued targeting of the students, there has been no action yet taken by YouTube against Jones for this latest stunt.

  133. says

    Follow-up to comment 203.

    Alex Jones is not the only rightwing doofus comparing the Parkland survivors to Nazis.

    […] A few days after Hogg and fellow Parkland survivors led a massive gun control rally in Washington, D.C., conservatives have started comparing the 17-year-old to Hitler.

    The memes and comparisons started in familiar far-right spheres of the internet — pro-Trump subreddits like r/The_Donald, 4chan’s politically incorrect board, […]

    The comparisons made their way to more mainstream social networks like Twitter and Facebook, and were even picked up by a conservative lawmaker. On Tuesday, Minnesota Republican Rep. Mary Franson posted a series of now-deleted Facebook posts that referred to David Hogg as “Supreme Leader Hogg,” later sharing a photo of the Hitler Youth wearing swastikas, describing how the group brainwashed young children.

    Ryan Saavedra, a reporter for the Daily Wire, also tweeted about the “little salute” at the end of Hogg’s speech.

    Meanwhile, in New York City, an aide to a Republican state Senator from Brooklyn was fired for posting a photo on Facebook that compared Hogg’s clenched fist and armband to a Hitler salute and a swastika. “The Democrats are doing exactly what Hitler did,” Anthony Testaverde posted. “He used the youth to disarm and control the people. This is scary.” […]

  134. says

    “Trump’s Lawyer Raised Prospect of Pardons for Flynn and Manafort as Special Counsel Closed In”:

    A lawyer for President Trump broached the idea of Mr. Trump pardoning two of his former top advisers, Michael T. Flynn and Paul Manafort, with their lawyers last year, according to three people with knowledge of the discussions.

    The discussions came as the special counsel was building cases against both men, and they raise questions about whether the lawyer, John Dowd, was offering pardons to influence their decisions about whether to plead guilty and cooperate in the investigation.

    The talks suggest that Mr. Trump’s lawyers were concerned about what Mr. Flynn and Mr. Manafort might reveal were they to cut a deal with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in exchange for leniency. Mr. Mueller’s team could investigate the prospect that Mr. Dowd made pardon offers to thwart the inquiry, although legal experts are divided about whether such offers might constitute obstruction of justice.

    Mr. Dowd, who was hired last year to defend the president during the Mueller inquiry, took the lead in dealing directly with Mr. Flynn’s and Mr. Manafort’s lawyers, according to two people familiar with how the legal team operated.

    He denied on Wednesday that he discussed pardons with lawyers for the president’s former advisers.

    “There were no discussions. Period,” Mr. Dowd said. “As far as I know, no discussions.”

    Contacted repeatedly over several weeks, the president’s lawyers representing him in the special counsel’s investigation maintained that they knew of no discussions of possible pardons.

    During interviews with Mr. Mueller’s investigators in recent months, current and former administration officials have recounted conversations they had with the president about potential pardons for former aides under investigation by the special counsel, according to two people briefed on the interviews….

  135. says

    Notes from the campaign to discredit Robert Mueller:

    […] the Drudge Report featured a story blaming Mueller, the special counsel leading the Justice Department’s Russia probe, for the FBI’s clumsy investigation into the 2001 anthrax attacks when Mueller ran the bureau.

    The independent pro-Trump journalist Sara Carter posted a story charging that Mueller, as a federal prosecutor in Boston in the mid-1980s, had covered up the FBI’s dealings with the Mafia informant Whitey Bulger. Carter was soon discussing her findings in prime time with Fox News host Sean Hannity.

    Meanwhile, Trump supporters on Twitter circulated video of testimony Mueller gave to Congress ahead of the 2003 Iraq War in which he endorsed the view, later proved false, that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. […]

    “It looks like the beginnings of a campaign,” a source familiar with Trump’s legal strategy said. “It looks like they are trying to seed the ground. Ultimately, if the president determines he wants to fire Mueller, he’s going to want to make sure there’s ample public record that he can fall back on.” […]

    “This anti-Mueller wave feels different because it is being driven directly by the president,” said Kurt Bardella, a former spokesman for Breitbart News and for California GOP Rep. Darrell Issa.[…]

    Adam Gingrich, a former Pennsylvania-based Trump campaign operative, joined the fray earlier this month with a tweet declaring it “[t]ime to #RiseUp and #FireMueller,” Gingrich wrote, using hashtags that spread across conservative circles in the following days. […]

    On Fox News, Hannity gave Mueller a thorough drubbing too. During one of his podcasts last week, the conservative pundit questioned why Attorney General Jeff Sessions was recused from the Russia probe while deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein “gets to appoint his buddy Robert Mueller?”

    “If it’s the last act I do on this Earth I’m getting to the bottom of this,” Hannity said. “I’m not going to stop. Unless I have a stroke on the air and can’t talk or function, I’m going to keep going.” […]

    “The fact neither McConnell or Ryan is not drawing a red line,” [said Charlie Sykes] “is potentially signaling a green light to Trump.”


  136. says

    Trump is, once again, standing with all the best people:

    My Administration stands in solidarity with the brave citizens in Orange County defending their rights against California’s illegal and unconstitutional Sanctuary policies. California’s Sanctuary laws release known dangerous criminals into communities across the State. All citizens have the right to be protected by Federal law and strong borders.

    Note that Trump took another opportunity to fear monger, “dangerous criminals.”

    […] “These state laws are pre-empted by federal law,” Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson said. “Our officers actually face penalties under state law if they so much as talk to federal agents for the wrong thing. […]”

    The all-Republican board’s vote came after Los Alamitos, a small city in Orange County, decided last week to exempt itself from the state’s sanctuary law, and as several other cities across the county weigh taking similar action.

    […] state Sen. Kevin de León, took to Twitter on Tuesday to express his frustration at the vote in Orange County, which is made up of 3.2 million people, 30 percent of whom are immigrants.

    “This kind of obsessive immigrant bashing is embarrassing to the county and its residents, and seems designed by the Republican Supervisors to court the approval of a racist President and his cronies,” de León wrote.


  137. says

    Details re #207 – “Ecuador cuts off Julian Assange’s internet access at London embassy”:

    Ecuador has cut Julian Assange’s communications with the outside world from its London embassy, where the founder of the whistleblowing WikiLeaks website has been living for nearly six years.

    The Ecuadorian government said in statement that it had acted because Assange had breached “a written commitment made to the government at the end of 2017 not to issue messages that might interfere with other states”.

    It said Assange’s recent behaviour on social media “put at risk the good relations [Ecuador] maintains with the United Kingdom, with the other states of the European Union, and with other nations”.

    The move came after Assange tweeted on Monday challenging Britain’s accusation that Russia was responsible for the nerve agent poisoning of a Russian former double agent and his daughter in the English city of Salisbury earlier this month.

    The WikiLeaks founder also questioned the decision by the UK and more than 20 other countries to retaliate against the poisoning by expelling Russian diplomats deemed spies.

    Assange’s comments on the nerve agent attack on double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia prompted the British foreign office minister Alan Duncan to call him a “miserable little worm” during a Commons debate on Tuesday. Duncan said he should leave the embassy and surrender to British justice….

    The Ecuadorian government’s statement says they’re also leaving the door open to future measures in response to Assange’s violating the agreement.

  138. says

    Trump loses in Panama:

    An international arbitration court ruled Tuesday night against the Trump Organization’s attempt to regain control of a luxury property in Panama following a dispute with the building’s owners.

    […] the Trump Organization sought an emergency court order to put it back in charge of a hotel-condominium complex. Earlier this month, the Trump team was evicted from the property and the Trump name was taken off the building.

    On Tuesday, an arbitrator for the International Chamber of Commerce upheld the building owners’ claim to the space, ruling that the Trump team did not meet the standard for regaining control. […]

    The majority owner of the hotel had been fighting to oust the Trump Organization for months, claiming it mismanaged the property for years. However, Trump employees and security staff refused to give up physical control of the hotel. […]


  139. says

    SC @213, “miserable little worm,” I’m going to remember that description of Assange. I see that the comments that got Assange into this recent disagreement with the Ecuadorian Government were all aimed at exonerating Russia. Miserable little worm.

    In other news, Congress approved and funded 33 miles of wall/fencing (not sure which) that bifurcate protected wildlife refuge areas in Texas. Vox link

  140. says

    Channel 4 News has another CA report going up at 7 GMT (about 10 minutes from now, I believe). I’ll link to the video when it’s available. Here’s the report:

    “Revealed: Cambridge Analytica data on thousands of Facebook users still not deleted”:

    Cambridge Analytica’s US campaign data, which was harvested from Facebook, is still circulating – despite assurances it has been deleted.

    Channel 4 News has seen part of the information extrapolated from 50 million people’s Facebook profiles and activity.

    The cache of campaign data from a Cambridge Analytica source, details 136,000 individuals in the US state of Colorado, along with each person’s personality and psychological profile.

    The data, which dates from 2014, was used by Cambridge Analytica to target specific messages at residents who would be most susceptible to them.

    As the harvesting scandal grew last week, Cambridge Analytica insisted all Facebook data it held, and any information they had derived using the Facebook data, “had been deleted”.

    Facebook also said it took steps to ensure all information related to harvested profiles was “destroyed”.

    But the Colorado dataset, along with similar data for Oregon, suggests copies of the Facebook-derived data still exists, and raises questions about who still has them.

    The data is also known to have been passed around using generic, non-corporate email systems, outside of the servers of Cambridge Analytica, and linked company SCL.

    Now, more than a week after the revelations that disgraced Cambridge Analytica and ripped through Facebook’s reputation, Channel 4 News has spoken directly to those whose privacy was breached.

    Sources have told Channel 4 News the Cambridge Analytica data was used by the Republicans in Colorado to help target voters.

    The Colorado data was allegedly also used by President Trump’s incoming national security adviser John Bolton. Mr Bolton’s political action committee, known as The John Bolton Super PAC, first hired Cambridge in August 2014, months after the political data firm was founded and while it was still harvesting the Facebook data….

  141. says

    SC @215, One of the comments in that thread is, “Paging Melania!” This certainly is a case of cyberbullying.

    In other news, a judge has ruled that DC and Maryland do have standing to sue Trump. I’m losing track of how many lawsuits Trump faces now.

    A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that Maryland and Washington, D.C. have standing to sue President Donald Trump, allowing their lawsuit claiming that the President violated the Constitution’s Emoluments clause to move forward for now.

    Maryland and D.C. have cleared one hurdle in their lawsuit against the President, but the judge has yet to issue a ruling on the meaning of the Emoluments clause, another factor that will determine whether the case can proceed. The judge, who is based in Maryland, will issue an opinion on the rest of Trump’s motion to dismiss the case at a later date.

    The judge also ruled that Maryland and D.C. only have standing to sue over activities at the Trump International Hotel and the Trump Organization’s operations in Washington, D.C., not the Trump Organization’s operations outside the District. […]


  142. says

    SC @217, I’m not surprised. In fact I expected this. I think it is likely that even more Cambridge Analytica databases are floating around. I see no reason why anyone should believe these doofuses when they say they have deleted the data they mined from Facebook. And, of course, we don’t believe Facebook’s protestations either.

    Excerpted from your post:

    the Colorado dataset, along with similar data for Oregon, suggests copies of the Facebook-derived data still exists, and raises questions about who still has them.

    The data is also known to have been passed around using generic, non-corporate email systems, outside of the servers of Cambridge Analytica, and linked company SCL. […]

    The Colorado data was allegedly also used by President Trump’s incoming national security adviser John Bolton. Mr Bolton’s political action committee, known as The John Bolton Super PAC, first hired Cambridge in August 2014, months after the political data firm was founded and while it was still harvesting the Facebook data….

  143. says

    From White House Counsel Ty Cobb:

    I have only been asked about pardons by the press and have routinely responded on the record that no pardons are under discussion or under consideration at the White House.

    Note the use of the present tense “are.” That indicates that no pardons are presently under discussion. It does not address the real issue, which is that pardons may have been discussed in the past.

  144. says

    Breaking: In response to requests from AG and members of Congress, DOJ IG Horowitz says he will investigate the FBI’s request for FISA warrant on ‘a U.S. person’– a reference to Carter Page. Probe will include role of ‘confidential FBI source’-a reference to Christoper Steele.”

    Republicans will do anything to destroy this country.

  145. says

    “Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s campaign tour buses hit by gunshots in attack”:

    Gunshots hit two buses in a caravan for Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s campaign tour in southern Brazil on Tuesday, officials in his Workers’ party said.

    No one was hurt, and the former president was not in either of the two buses, which were carrying guests and journalists. Nails had also been placed along the caravan’s route, piercing the tyres of one bus, the party said….

  146. says

    Update to Lynna’s #38 – good news: “UPDATE: Moments ago Walker’s attorney’s informed the state Supreme Court that ‘the Governor has decided not to seek relief from the Supreme Court at this time’. The call for special elections will move forward tomorrow by noon. Democracy wins!”

  147. says

    Just in: Paul Manafort is asking the judge in the DC criminal case to compel the special counsel’s office to give him unredacted affidavits underlying search warrants (part of Manafort’s research into whether he can argue evidence should be suppressed).”

    I’d love to know what was in this storage locker.

  148. says

    Tweet o’ the day.

    (Of course, Cost is referring to the white, male, industrial “labor Left.” He doesn’t “miss” the widespread demonstrations for a $15 minimum wage, tireless hotel workers’ unions, diverse public-sector unions fighting off assaults from the Kochs, or the recent successful West Virginia teachers’ wildcat strike, because these are all contemporary leftwing phenomena.)

  149. says

    “Morgan Stanley Knew of a Star’s Alleged Abuse. He Still Works There.”:

    Over 15 years, four women in Lake Oswego, Ore., a wealthy Portland suburb, sought police protection against the same man, court filings show.

    “He threatened to burn down my house with me in it,” one woman wrote in her application for a restraining order. “I don’t know what he’s going to do next,” a second wrote. “He choked me so hard it left a mark on my throat,” wrote another. “He is scaring my children and me,” a fourth woman said.

    Yet the man, Douglas E. Greenberg, remains one of Morgan Stanley’s top financial advisers — and a celebrated member of the wealth management industry.

    For years, Morgan Stanley executives knew about his alleged conduct, according to seven former Morgan Stanley employees.

    Morgan Stanley received a federal subpoena related to one abuse allegation, according to a lawyer for one of the women. In another instance, a Morgan Stanley manager alerted his superior when Mr. Greenberg was charged with violating a restraining order, according to three former employees. Another manager at the firm liked and replied to a Facebook post by one of Mr. Greenberg’s ex-wives in which she described his abuse. On yet another occasion, an official from the bank’s New York headquarters flew to Portland to investigate, two former employees said.

    Despite this information, Morgan Stanley apparently took no action against Mr. Greenberg. He is still an employee and a member of the elite “Chairman’s Club,” which recognizes brokers who not only are top producers but also meet certain “conduct and compliance standards.”….

  150. says

    Sarah Kendzior:

    This week’s US infrastructure attacks:

    * Atlanta city services paralyzed due to ransomware attack; deadline for ransom is today
    * Baltimore 911 dispatch system hacked
    * Boeing hit by serious virus, metastasizing quickly

  151. says

    Jim Sciutto: “Breaking: US District Court in NY denies motion by Saudi Arabia to dismiss case by 9/11 victims’ families to hold multiple defendants liable for ‘allegedly financing, sponsoring, conspiring to sponsor, aiding & abetting, or otherwise providing material support to’ #AlQaeda”

  152. says

    Philip Rucker: “The VA is arguably the federal government’s most chronically mismanaged bureaucracy. Trump has tapped to helm it a uniformed physician who, though well credentialed in medicine, has no apparent management experience.”

  153. says

    “Less Than a Year After Charlottesville, the Alt-Right Is Self-Destructing”:

    Some have turned federal informant. Others are facing prison time. More are named in looming lawsuits. All of them are fighting.

    Last summer, the American alt-right was presenting itself as a threatening, unified front, gaining national attention with a deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The collection of far-right and white nationalist groups proclaimed victory after President Donald Trump hesitated to directly condemn them and instead blamed “both sides” and the “alt left” for the violence. But less than a year after Charlottesville, the alt-right is splintering in dramatic fashion as its leaders turn on each other or quit altogether.

    Threats from the far-right are by no means over. The SPLC recently released a map documenting 954 hate groups in the U.S., a rise in 20 percent since 2014. In a January report, the Anti-Defamation League found that white supremacists had killed 18 people in 2017.

    But the alt-right has had a bad month….

    The details in the article are something. Weill doesn’t give enough credit to counter-movements, in my view.

  154. says

    SC @241, I can’t remember who said it, but a commentator on MSNBC said that Donald Trump’s doctor, Presidential physician Ronny Jackson, may be good at driving a sports car, but that running the Department of Veterans Affairs is like driving an 18-wheeler through a war zone in bad weather.

    The V.A: budget of $186 billion; 360,000 employees; a vast network of facilities. The staff Jackson currently oversees? 40 people.

    Shulkin’s op-ed for the New York Times brings up some good points:

    […] I believe differences in philosophy deserve robust debate, and solutions should be determined based on the merits of the arguments. The advocates within the administration for privatizing V.A. health services, however, reject this approach. They saw me as an obstacle to privatization who had to be removed. That is because I am convinced that privatization is a political issue aimed at rewarding select people and companies with profits, even if it undermines care for veterans.

    Former senator Barbara Boxer said the same thing.

    More from Shulkin:

    Until the past few months, veteran issues were dealt with in a largely bipartisan way. (My 100-0 Senate confirmation was perhaps the best evidence that the V.A. has been the exception to Washington’s political polarization). Unfortunately, the department has become entangled in a brutal power struggle, with some political appointees choosing to promote their agendas instead of what’s best for veterans. These individuals, who seek to privatize veteran health care as an alternative to government-run V.A. care, unfortunately fail to engage in realistic plans regarding who will care for the more than 9 million veterans who rely on the department for life-sustaining care. […]

    From Steve Benen:

    As Rachel explained on last night’s show, however, the V.A. is essentially a single-payer system of socialized medicine, which necessarily makes it a target for the right. It remains a conservative fantasy to kill off the cabinet agency and push veterans into the private marketplace for ideological reasons. […]

    Indeed, the president himself has expressed support for privatizing at least some areas of veterans’ care.

    With this in mind, it becomes easy to believe Shulkin’s ouster had less to do with a travel controversy and more to do with his resistance to an ideological campaign within the Republican administration. […]

    This is the environment that Navy Admiral Ronny Jackson, the White House physician, is poised to enter. […]

    It’s hard not to wonder if Jackson knows what he’s getting himself into. […]


  155. says

    Wow – I wasn’t expecting this:

    Yulia Skripal is “improving rapidly” and no longer in a critical condition, four weeks after the Salisbury poisoning, the hospital has said.

    The daughter of ex-spy Sergei Skripal was admitted after they came into contact with a nerve agent on 4 March.

    “She has responded well to treatment but continues to receive expert clinical care 24 hours a day,” the hospital said.

    Mr Skripal remains in a critical but stable condition….

  156. says

    It looks like Ben Carson is working hard to earn the enmity of communities of color and/or low-income populations.

    From the New York Times:

    The Trump administration is attempting to scale back federal efforts to enforce fair housing laws, freezing enforcement actions against local governments and businesses, […]

    The policy shift, detailed in interviews with 20 current and former Department of Housing and Urban Development officials and in internal agency emails, is meant to roll back the Obama administration’s attempts to reverse decades of racial, ethnic and income segregation in federally subsidized housing and development projects.

    The move coincides with the decision this month by Ben Carson, the secretary of housing and urban development, to strike the words “inclusive” and “free from discrimination” from HUD’s mission statement.

    More info, from Steve Benen:

    […] This comes two months after Ben Carson’s cabinet agency also announced plans to “delay enforcement of a federal housing rule that requires communities to address patterns of racial residential segregation.” […]

    Earlier this year, we also learned that Trump’s Justice Department has “effectively shuttered an Obama-era office dedicated to making legal aid accessible to all citizens,” which also appears likely to adversely affect minority communities.

    What do African-American communities “have to lose by trying something new like Trump?” That may have been a rhetorical question, but the answer continues to come into sharper focus.


  157. says

    Follow-up to comment 250.

    It was Paul Rieckhoff, founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, who likened running the V.A. to driving an 18-wheeler through a war zone, in bad weather. The video is 9:16 minutes long. It begins with coverage of Trump’s past comments about the V.A. and with Trump’s attempt to hire another Fox News celebrity.

    Trump’s first choice for the job was Pete Hegseth, a Fox News personality, who engaged in two extramarital affairs with co-workers (while he was married) and who paid his brother $108,000 to run a non-profit, (the brother had no experience). Infidelity and scam-like business practices. Sounds like a perfect fit. There may have also been campaign finance violations since Hegseth spent 1/3 of a conservative PAC’s funds on Christmas parties for family and friends. When Hegseth ran for office, he including an anti-divorce stance in his platforms. Hegseth has been divorced twice.

    Compared to Hegseth, Jackson looks good.

  158. says

    Follow-up to comments 38, 231, and 247.

    From Scott Walker:

    Obama Attorney General Eric Holder and his Washington, D.C.-based special interest group are behind the legal push to force Wisconsin taxpayers to pay for special elections for seats that will be filled in a few months in the normal elections

    Eric Holder and the other liberals from Washington, D.C. are using the situation in Wisconsin to raise money for their battles in the fall.

    Holder’s group wants to win elections for governor with the hopes that they can use redistricting to permanently change the makeup of the U.S. House of Representatives and put Nancy Pelosi back in charge as speaker.

    Response from Eric Holder:

    As the WISCONSIN judge said yesterday, “Representative government and the election of our representatives are never ‘unnecessary,’ never a ‘waste of taxpayer resources.'”

    We will continue to advocate for the people of Wisconsin whose voting rights you have undermined and diluted.

  159. says

    More telling details about Trump’s new lead attorney, Andrew J. Ekonomou (replacing John Dowd).

    […] His law firm, Ekonomou Atkinson & Lambros, actually specializes in bringing civil and criminal forfeiture proceedings against convenience store owners accused of running video poker machines. He even does the occasional gig acting as a receiver for this or that business on the skids. […]

    […] Sekulow has a huge following on the religious right and is the one who brought Ekonomou onto the President’s team back in June. Sekulow is also a master fundraiser. Indeed, he and his family have made many millions of dollars over the years through various ‘religious liberty’ charities and foundations they control.

    Even for a pro like Sekulow, though, sometimes things don’t go exactly according to plan. One of those times came in 2002 when a letter from Sekulow arrived at the Rural Route 2 mailbox of Alice Rissler who lived just outside Charles Town, West Virginia.

    “I know you told Damion [Sekulow’s assistant Damion Boyd] that you weren’t sure whether you could help with a gift or not … But if you do find you can send as much as $25, it will be a tremendous blessing.” Sekulow or perhaps we should say “Sekulow” signed the letter “your brother advocating Jesus.”

    So far so good.

    The problem was that Alice Rissler didn’t remember any call from Damion. More jarring, the letter was addressed to Alice’s husband, who had died two years earlier. Alice got upset. She brought in her son Rich. Rich got upset. Rich called up Sekulow’s American Center for Law and Justice, the Sekulow family’s main nonprofit, to ask WTF was up or how Damion had had a chat with Rich’s long-dead father.

    He didn’t get a good response. […]

    This is when Andrew Ekonomou got involved. He sent the Risslers a letter telling them to stop harassing his client, Jay Sekulow. […]

    From the Washington Post:

    Instead of a phone call, Rissler received a letter in February from Andrew J. Ekonomou of the Atlanta law firm of Ekonomou, Atkinson & Lambros LLC., who said he was Sekulow’s attorney.

    “It is not clear to me why you have addressed your letter to Mr. Sekulow when it is Mr. Boyd with whom you wish to speak,” Ekonomou wrote. “Any further direct communications between you and my clients are to cease at once.”

    Rissler disregarded the letter, which he took as a legal threat. After writing another letter to Sekulow, and getting no reply, he wrote to Ekonomou, asking a series of questions. Among them was whether the ACLJ was violating West Virginia’s Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act and statutes dealing with fraudulent schemes and false pretenses. […]

    Ekonomou replied in May that the letter to his dead father was an “inadvertence” that occurred because Boyd had spoken with a John Rissler — Ron Rissler’s twin brother, who shares his late father’s first name but has a different middle initial. (The brother, however, has lived at a different address for many years; Boyd had never called Alice Rissler’s home.)

    In other words, fifteen years ago Ekonomou’s gig was sending nastygrams to rural Christians who got bent out of shape over Sekulow’s hyper-aggressive fundraising pitches.

    Happily, a few years later, Ekonomou and Lambros were on to bigger and better things. […] Ekonomou and Lambros ended up making so much money that they started getting unwanted media attention. The press scrutiny revealed they were working on contingency. A number of Middle and South Georgia DA’s offices had hired the duo on a contingency basis, thus incentivizing them to claim as many assets as possible since they got a percentage cut of the haul from each mini-mart.

    The Georgia legislature had to pass a new law in 2012 mandating that contract prosecutors like Ekonomou could only be paid on an hourly basis, not in bounties. […]


    Isn’t that awesome? Another sort-of, kind-of scam artist joins Team Trump. Also, Ekonomou has experience defending other scam artists, like Jay Sekulow.

  160. says

    Brian Klaas re #257: “This is why a smarter response would have been asymmetric, going after Putin-linked cash in the West or delaying joint projects like pipelines that Russia relies on. Putin expected the expulsions; he bakes it into his calculations as a reasonably minor tit for tat.”

    Meanwhile, Estonia is barring entry to 49 Russian nationals under its Magnitsky law:

    The government approved a proposal by Minister of Foreign Affairs Sven Mikser (SDE) to impose an entry ban on individuals connected to gross human rights violations, including the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009, under the International Sanctions Act.

    Per the proposal, the entry ban will be imposed on 49 individuals included on the Magnitsky List.

    “The government’s unity and decisiveness regarding this matter demonstrate our desire to draw attention to increasingly frequent violations of international law in Russia,” Mikser said. “We cannot leave gross violations of human rights unanswered.”

    According to the foreign minister, with the implementation of such measures, Estonia is supporting the safeguarding of the rule of law….

    All 49 names are listed at the link.

  161. says

    Laura Ingraham’s insult aimed at David Hogg:

    David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it. (Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA…totally predictable given acceptance rates.)

    Actually, Hogg’s GPA is 4.2.

    Hogg’s response:

    Soooo @IngrahamAngle what are your biggest advertisers … Asking for a friend.

    Pick a number 1-12 contact the company next to that #

    Top Laura Ingraham Advertisers
    1. @sleepnumber
    2. @ATT
    3. Nutrish
    4. @Allstate & @esurance
    5. @Bayer
    6. @RocketMortgage Mortgage
    7. @LibertyMutual
    8. @Arbys
    9. @TripAdvisor
    10. @Nestle
    11. @hulu
    12. @Wayfair

    So far, Trip Advisor and Nutrish announced that they are pulling ads from Ingraham’s show.

  162. says

    Follow-up to comment 259.

    Wayfair also pulled their ads from Ingraham’s show.

    After losing advertisers, Ingraham apologized to David Hogg:

    Any student should be proud of a 4.2 GPA —incl. @DavidHogg111. On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland. For the record, I believe my show was the first to feature David immediately after that horrific shooting and even noted how “poised” he was given the tragedy. As always, he’s welcome to return to the show anytime for a productive discussion.

  163. says

    The FBI Deputy Director that Trump fired, Andrew McCabe, has launched a legal defense fund.

    […] The GoFundMe page is seeking $150,000 for McCabe’s legal defense in the face of congressional inquiries and a probe into his conduct by the Justice Department’s inspector general.

    The fund also seeks to raise money for any potential lawsuits McCabe might consider filing in the wake of his ouster. […]

    Hope he receives lots of donations.

    McCabe’s photo with his family, including the dog, is adorable.

    Unlike Trump, McCabe seems to have good legal representation:

    […] McCabe’s legal team is being led by former Justice Department Inspector General Michael Bromwich, an attorney at the D.C. law firm Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber LLP. […]

  164. says

    militantagnostic @ #185:

    I assume corruption was the major cause of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Soch costing more than the preceding 7 Winter Olympics combined.

    And still being relatively ramshackle. And at which the Russians cheated. Garry Kasparov just wrote about the upcoming World Cup – “Opinion: World Cup 2018 and the ugly side of the beautiful game”:

    …The World Cup will be Sochi times 12, that being the number of host venues across the vast expanse of Russia. Stadium readiness has been a struggle despite the use of prison labor and immigrants from Central Asia and North Korea working in conditions that have resulted in dozens of deaths.

    With the Russian economy collapsing, Putin will boast about how he can still bring these events to Russia. The tournament draw put Russia into the weakest group in World Cup history, and Putin will be quick to annex (ahem) any success by the Russian squad for himself, as he did in Sochi.

    What is to be done?…

    In Sochi, activists used the international media presence to expose Russia’s anti-LGBTQ laws, although Putin was quick to clamp down as soon as the Games were over. An environmental activist arrested during the Games was put in prison for two years for spray-painting a protest message on a fence.

    But during the World Cup, the police might be relatively cautious in handling foreign visitors and journalists. The bold should exploit this to peek behind the curtain and report truthfully on the dire conditions in Russia.

    We can support the beautiful game without supporting the world’s ugliest regimes.

    Even this might be overly optimistic.

  165. says

    Trump went to Richfield, Ohio today, supposedly to tout an infrastructure plan. During his rally-like speech, Trump lied again about construction on the border wall:

    […] “We started building our wall. I’m so proud of it,” he said.

    “And we’ve already started, you saw the pictures yesterday. I said what a thing of beauty,” he added, referencing photos he tweeted on Wednesday. […]

    That two-mile fencing initiative has been prioritized since 2009. Although it is a border fencing project, it is not part of the new border wall that Trump has touted since his presidential campaign.

    On Thursday, Trump continued to promote the wall and noted that a recently signed funding bill allocates $1.6 billion for the project. He explained that the structure will be “state of the art” and “see-through.”

    “People said, ‘Oh has he given up on the wall?’ No, I never give up. We have 1.6 billion [dollars] toward the wall,” Trump said.

    “And you saw those beautiful pictures and the wall looks good. It’s properly designed,” he continued. “That’s what I do is I build. I was always very good at building. It was always my best thing. I think better than being president I was maybe good at building. Like you people, you’re good at building.” […]


  166. says

    More fuckery courtesy of Betsy DeVos and Team Trump:

    […] NPR reported yesterday that a private contractor that administers an Education Department program designed to give grants to help fund teachers’ college educations has been converting as many of one third of those grants into loans that the teachers have to pay back, with interest, even though the teachers have met the requirements of the program. How very odd!

    The TEACH grants — that’s for “Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education,” which really would be “TEACHE,” but let’s not get too hung up over a perfectly cromulent cutesy acronym — have been around for about a decade, and offer students grants of up to $4,000 toward an undergraduate or master’s degrees in education. If the recipient spends four years teaching in a school that serves low-income students, in a subject where teachers are in short supply like math or science, then that’s a nice little boost to teachers who are doing much-needed work. Anyone who fails to meet those requirements within eight years — say they drop out and found a software company or decide to teach art history at a prep school — would have to pay the money back as a loan.

    […] a whole lot of those grants are being converted to loans, even though the people who received them are dutifully teaching math or science or some other under-served topic in a low-income school. NPR obtained a copy of an Education Department report on the problem (later posted online by the department), and it appears the company that services the loans, FedLoan, has been playing fast and loose with the rules governing when grant recipients are considered not in compliance. […]

    To keep the grant from becoming a loan, grantees have to certify every year that they’re in compliance, and send in a form showing that they’re either doing the teaching or, if they’re still within the time frame, that they intend to meet the requirements. Seems that FedLoan has taken that certification process to an absurd degree of besticklement, […]

    Maggie Webb, an eighth-grade math teacher in Helsea, Massachusetts, ran into the FedLoan trap when the company failed to send her the annual form. She contacted the Education Department and sent off the completed forms in plenty of time — like an efficient, organized math teacher would […]

    “They said they never received it. So I sent it again,” Webb says. “By that point they said it was too late.”

    With interest, her $4,000 grant was suddenly a $5,000 loan, even though she’s meeting all the core requirements regarding teaching in a low-income school. […]

    According to this new government review of the TEACH grant program, Webb isn’t alone. In fact, the numbers are startling: 1 in 3 participants whose grants were converted to loans said they were likely or very likely to meet the program’s service requirements — or had already met them. Based on a representative survey, the report estimates it’s upwards of 12,000 participants. […]

    Wonkette link

    More at the link.

    […] Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy says the Trump administration is putting up new roadblocks that could stop the states from holding these companies accountable. Both the Education and Justice departments have argued that loan servicers like FedLoan should be protected from state laws and lawsuits.

    NPR link

  167. says

    More infuriating, ill-informed stuff Trump said during his speech in Ohio today:

    […] “When I got in, we had over 100 federal judges that weren’t appointed. I don’t know why Obama left that. It was like a big, beautiful present to all of us. Why the hell did he leave that?”

    “Maybe he got complacent,” Trump added.

    “It was like the gift from heaven. We were left judges,” Trump said. “They are the ones that judge all your disputes. They judge on what’s fair on the environment and what’s not fair. Where they’re going to take your farms and factories away and where they’re not.”

    Republicans took control of the Senate in 2014 during Obama’s last two years in office and did not confirm many of his nominees.

    The Senate’s top Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitchel McConnell (Ky.), teamed up to block Democratic efforts to push forward Obama’s nominees, slowing down confirmations by the most in six decades. […]


  168. says

    Follow-up to comments 259 and 260.

    Expedia can be now be added to the list of companies that will no longer advertise on Laura Ingraham’s show.

  169. says

    Another lawsuit against Trump can now proceed:

    A federal judge on Thursday ruled that a lawsuit targeting […] Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program can proceed, despite a push by the Trump administration to dismiss the suit. […]

    The Trump administration argued, however, that the lawsuit — particularly the claim that the president’s actions were racially motivated — should be thrown out, because there was no evidence to prove it. [Ha, ha!]

    […] New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) quickly praised the ruling Thursday.

    “We look forward to continuing our litigation to protect Dreamers, along with the businesses and institutions they contribute to every day in New York and across the country.” […]


  170. says

    David Hogg’s response to Laura Ingraham’s apology:

    I 100% agree an apology in an effort just to save your advertisers is not enough. I will only accept your apology if you denounce the way your network has treated my friends and I in this fight. It’s time to love thy neighbor, not mudsling at children.

  171. says

    Chris Hayes (my thoughts exactly): “We are watching the President and his congressional allies using everything in their arsenal to attempt to turn an idependent DOJ into a tool with which to prosecute political enemies. It’s happening right out in the open.”

    Sessions won’t be appointing a special prosecutor to look into bullshit Republican FISA abuse claims, but he’s named the investigator looking into bullshit Republican FBI misconduct claims. As I said above, “Republicans will do anything to destroy this country.”

  172. says

    Here’s Sessions’ letter to the Republicans putting on the pressure to turn the apparatus of the DoJ on itself and its people for the partisan purpose of protecting their corrupt stooge. I’m so angry I could spit nails.

    John Huber is the investigator in charge. He was first nominated by Obama in 2015.

  173. says

    David Hogg:

    I will only accept your apology if you denounce the way your network has treated my friends and I in this fight.

    *my friends and me

    (Trick for getting it right: remove the “my friends and” to see what you’d say.)

  174. says

    “Mueller probing Russia contacts at Republican convention: sources”:

    Investigators probing whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign colluded with Russia have been questioning witnesses about events at the 2016 Republican National Convention, according to two sources familiar with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiries.

    Mueller’s team has been asking about a convention-related event attended by both Russia’s U.S. ambassador and Jeff Sessions, the first U.S. senator to support Trump and now his attorney general, said one source, who requested anonymity due to the ongoing investigation.

    Another issue Mueller’s team has been asking about is how and why Republican Party platform language hostile to Russia was deleted from a section of the document related to Ukraine, said another source who also requested anonymity….

  175. says

    “Source: Mueller pushed for Gates’ help on collusion”:

    Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team last year made clear it wanted former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates’ help, not so much against his former business partner Paul Manafort, but with its central mission: investigating the Trump campaign’s contact with the Russians. New information disclosed in court filings and to CNN this week begin to show how they’re getting it.

    In a court filing earlier this week, the public saw the first signs of how the Mueller team plans to use information from Gates to tie Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, directly to a Russian intelligence agency. Mueller’s team alleges that Gates was in contact with a close colleague of Manafort’s who worked for a Russian intelligence agency — and that Gates knew of the spy service ties in September and October 2016, while he worked on the Trump campaign. Gates would have to talk about the communication with the man if prosecutors wanted, according to his plea deal.

    That’s in line with what prosecutors told Gates months ago during high-stakes negotiations, CNN has learned. They told him they didn’t need his cooperation against Manafort, according to a person familiar with the investigation, and instead wanted to hear what he knew about contact between the Trump campaign and Russians.

    The extent of Gates’ knowledge about any such contact or what he told prosecutors hasn’t been made public.

    Gates may have information of value to prosecutors beyond his business dealings with Manafort, according to sources familiar with his role. He never grew close to Trump, but he had ties with other members of Trump’s inner circle, including Manafort and Tom Barrack, a fundraiser and close friend of Trump’s. He also developed a reputation for keeping tabs on what others were up to, one source said.

    Gates worked alongside Manafort during the critical summer of 2016 when senior campaign officials, including Manafort, met at Trump Tower in New York with a group of Russians who had promised damaging information on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton….

  176. says

    “Exclusive: Russian ambassador pleads for help in securing Washington meetings”:

    Congressional leaders won’t meet with him. Neither will the vice president or the White House chief of staff.

    And the Russian ambassador says he is at his wit’s end.*

    In a letter to Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) earlier this month, Anatoly Antonov asked for help in obtaining meetings with a slew of U.S. lawmakers and officials. The March 9 letter was written two days after a POLITICO story detailed some of Antonov’s travails in securing meetings in Washington.

    “I would be very grateful for your advice on how to develop contacts with members of U.S. Congress, departments and agencies, as well as for your possible assistance in setting up such meetings,” Antonov wrote in the letter, obtained by POLITICO.

    Hatch has previously confirmed he met with Antonov, but a Hatch spokeswoman did not immediately reply for comment on this story. The Russian Embassy also did not reply. A White House spokesman declined comment.

    Antonov went on to list 20 top U.S. elected and administration officials that have refused or ignored his requests for meetings….

    So sad. :(

    * Not a witty guy.

  177. says

    OK, this is true.

    But even if Roseanne is appealing to a bigoted white, male working- or middle-class audience, they’re fucking pinheads. Trump has presided over a party and a movement that have done nothing but attack working- and middle-class people:

    – his cabinet
    – his kleptocratic corruption
    – anti-union labor regulations and labor law
    – sabotaging people’s protections against banks and other corporations
    – trying to take away health care from tens of millions of people
    – a trillion-dollar tax giveaway to the richest people and corporations
    – the celebration of the rich and the shaming of the poor (including children)
    – gutting environmental and worker-safety regulations

    I mean, is anyone going to be honest about how Trump is at the tip of the Republican class-war wedge? Because he fucking is. I remember this scene. It was exceptional. In addition to the fact that she’s a dipshit rightwing conspiracy theorist and bigot, that scene is the opposite of what Trump and his party actually stand for. FFS, anyone who thinks Trump is on the side of poor or working people at this point is ignorant, willingly or otherwise, or a fucking peabrain.

  178. says

    I mean, is anyone going to be honest about how Trump is at the tip of the Republican class-war wedge?

    A major aspect of their class war is the effort to divide working people along lines of race, gender, sector, and immigration status. This is not pro white, male, industrial, “native” workers, for the love of fuck.

  179. says

    Manu Raju: “Goodlatte and Gowdy applaud Sessions’ move to name US attorney to investigate FBI. ‘While we continue to believe the appointment of a second Special Counsel is necessary, this is a step in the right direction’, they said.”

    These fuckers.

  180. says

    SC @277, yeah, I noticed that. Hogg needs an editor and/or he needs more experience. I’m forgiving him because he is only 17. It takes time to learn to marshal the English language into proper sentences.

    SC @289, I love Maya Wiley’s hair as well … and I admire her finely honed intelligence.

  181. says

    SC @277, yeah, I noticed that. Hogg needs an editor and/or he needs more experience. I’m forgiving him because he is only 17. It takes time to learn to marshal the English language into proper sentences.

    Oh! I wasn’t remotely criticizing him! It was just a tweet, and we all make such mistakes in these contexts. I just wanted to take the opportunity to point to an extremely common error so I could offer a helpful tip.

    SC @289, I love Maya Wiley’s hair as well … and I admire her finely honed intelligence.


  182. says

    SC @284:

    Shulkin is being interviewed by Chris Hayes. His refusal to criticize Trump is bizarre and creepy.

    That was the weirdest damned interview.

    Shulkin’s description of talking to Trump on the phone yesterday was the strangest part.

    So Trump and Shulkin have a normal phone conversation that includes Shulkin giving Trump an update on things at the V.A. The two discuss what is being done and what needs to be done. “We spoke about the progress I was making.” Trump is engaged and interested. He asks questions. He does not mention that he is firing Shulkin. Later the same day, Kelly calls Shulkin to tell him he is fired. The call comes in just before the firing-Shulkin tweet from Trump appears.

    I mean, WTF? Was Trump too cowardly to fire Shulkin himself so he had Kelly do it?

    Shulkin’s basic claim in that interview was that other people at the V.A. were at fault, not Trump. I wonder if Shulkin has some other play in mind?

  183. says

    SC @292, that was a good tip.

    In other, “all the best people,” news:

    The Trump administration announced Thursday that it was appointing a former corporate executive to lead the Department of Health and Human Service’s efforts to lower the price of prescription drugs.

    Daniel M. Best, who spent 12 years working at Phizer Pharmaceuticals and also recently helped fashion CVSHealth’s prescription drug plans, will be a senior adviser to the secretary for drug pricing reform. […]

    the Trump administration is following a policy route that is extremely friendly to big pharmaceutical companies […]

    Last June, Kaiser Health News and Politico revealed that the administration was discussing […] ending discounts for low income hospitals, speeding drug approvals through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and strengthening monopoly rights of pharmaceuticals overseas. The last point is particularly important, because it would threaten to drive up drug prices as it thwarts competition in the global marketplace. […]


  184. says

    At least nine advertisers have now pulled their support for Laura Ingraham’s show on Fox News.

    Other news:

    Judge Stephen Reinhardt, a judge on the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and a champion of liberal causes on the court, died Thursday at the age of 87. […]

    “All parties agree that Proposition 8 had one effect only,” he [Reinhardt] wrote in 2012. “It stripped same-sex couples of the ability they previously had possessed to obtain from the state, or any other authorized party, an important right — the right to obtain and use the designation of ‘marriage’ to describe their relationships. Nothing more, nothing less.”

    Reinhardt also came into conflict with the Trump administration in recent months, declaring last year that young undocumented immigrants who are unaccompanied have the right to periodic bond hearings as well as a separate decision calling an order to deport a Mexican man “inhumane.”

    “It is difficult to see how the government’s decision to expel him is consistent with the President’s promise of an immigration system with ‘a lot of heart,’ ” the liberal justice wrote last year. “I find no such compassion in the government’s choice to deport Magana Ortiz.”

    Reinhardt’s death creates another opening on the judiciary for the Trump administration, which has pushed to fill a number of judicial vacancies that began during the previous administration as the GOP-led Senate refused to confirm Obama nominees. […]


    Reaction to other news: If Trump is too cowardly to fire Shulkin on the phone, he is probably also too cowardly to confront Putin on the phone about using chemical language to murder people in the United Kingdom.

  185. blf says

    [Hair furor] is probably also too cowardly to confront Putin on the phone about using chemical language to murder people in the United Kingdom.

    “Chemical language“?
    Comrade May, If you don’t mess up brexit even more, I’ll have H₂SO₄ put in your caviar !

  186. blf says

    Sarkoführer is accussed of trying a bribe a judge, Nicolas Sarkozy to face trial for corruption and influence peddling:

    Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has been sent to trial for corruption and influence peddling.

    The case centres over phone calls Sarkozy allegedly made to a senior judge who was investigating claims that his 2007 presidential campaign was illegally funded.

    Sarkozy is alleged to have promised the judge a comfortable promotion in return for information about the fraud inquiry.

    The judge and Sarkozy’s lawyer, Thierry Herzog, have also been ordered to stand trial on the same charges. All three have denied any wrongdoing […].

    This new legal setback came days after Sarkozy was formally put under investigation over claims he took €50m (£44m) from the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in illegal donations for his successful 2007 presidential campaign, which he also denied. […]

    Apparently, the police wiretapped the calls.

  187. blf says

    About a week ago, a group of masked facist “law students” attacked protesting students with wooden boards in Montpellier (a very nice S.France city were I, coincidently, used to live). I’ve seen a video of (part of) the attack, it’s quite harrowing (I won’t post a link). Since then the police have arrested the Dean and a professor for participating in the attack, Montpellier dean detained, suspended after masked men attack students (France24 edits in {curly braces}):

    The dean and a professor at Montpellier University law school were taken into police custody on Wednesday, suspected of taking part in a violent attack on student protesters last week. The two men have since been suspended from their duties.

    Student protesters occupied the law school auditorium on March 22 to oppose the “Vidal law”, which for the first time introduces merit-based selection for public universities. Proponents hope to limit drop-outs and lower costs while opponents fear the law will create class barriers to public education.

    Just as background, French high school graduates have been guaranteed a place at a public university (at low cost), however, the drop-rate is quite high (c.60% according to French university admissions: Shake-up broaches selection taboo, Oct-2017). For over-subscribed programmes there is a lottery. The new law — “Vidal” refers to France’s Higher Education Minister Frédérique Vidal — replaces that lottery with a Yes / Maybe / No system based on grades and other criteria.

    Back to the attack on the students demonstrating against this change with a peaceful sit-in:

    Around midnight, masked men — armed with planks of wood and batons — beat and dragged the protesters from the premises, slammed the gates behind them and then retreated back into the law school entrance hall, to the applause and congratulations of surrounding faculty members and law students who opposed the protest.


    “I was able to get out quickly. Then I saw school administrators celebrating in the entrance hall. There were 20 or so with the masked men and the dean,” one student, identified only as Camille, told France 3 Television.

    “It was totally fascist, they were yelling racist insults {like} ‘dirty arabs’,” said a student interviewed by France 3.

    In an interview the day after the incident, dean Philippe Pétel defended the actions of the masked group, referring to them merely as “law students”.

    The students wanted to defend themselves, and I can’t blame them,” he told France 3. “The law students who were there were all against the occupation {of the auditorium …} I am quite proud of my students. I approve totally.


    French authorities placed dean Pétel under formal investigation late on Thursday.

    Jean-Luc Coronel de Boissezon, the other suspended professor, teaches legal history and is described by students and colleagues as “very conservative”. He is also accused of participating — unmasked — in the brutal eviction.

    Witnesses say some of the masked attackers were junior professors and doctoral students, recognisable because they were wearing the same clothes as earlier in the day. They entered the auditorium through an entrance that is usually locked.

    Among the masked people, there may have been a law professor. Yes, it’s possible. The faculty defended their school, Pétel told Libération newspaper.


    On Wednesday, anti-fascist student protesters flooded Montpellier’s city centre, blocking the entrance to the university and obstructing tram lines. “Anti-fascist” demonstrations also erupted at other universities in solidarity with the Montpellier students.


    Whilst I think the le penazis don’t have much traction in Montpellier itself, that is historical le penazi territory. From memory, the le penazi national(?) HQ used to be Nîmes, about a 30minute train ride from Montpellier. Some of the towns in the area around Nîmes have, or recently have had, le penazi councilors / mayors. (Nîmes itself has one of the best extant ancient Roman amphitheatres, which is still in use, mostly for music concerts.)

  188. blf says

    FBI looked into Trump plans to build hotel in Latvia with Putin supporter:

    In 2010, a small group of businessmen including a wealthy Russian supporter of Vladimir Putin [Igor Krutoy] began working on plans to build a glitzy hotel and entertainment complex with Donald Trump in Riga, the capital of Latvia.


    The Guardian has learned that talks with Trump’s company were abandoned after Krutoy and another of the businessmen were questioned by Latvian authorities as part of a major criminal inquiry there — and that the FBI later looked into Trump’s interactions with them at Latvia’s request.


    Latvia asked the US for assistance in 2014 and received a response from the FBI the following year, according to a source familiar with the process. Latvian investigators also examined secret recordings in which Trump was mentioned by a suspect.

    This means the FBI looked into Trump’s efforts to do business deals in the former Soviet Union earlier than was widely known. […]


    Krutoy [(a well-known composer in Russia)] was a celebrity representative for Putin’s 2018 election campaign and has received major state honours from the Russian government for his music.

    He was born in Ukraine and is also a close friend of Rinat Akhmetov — a Ukrainian steel tycoon who in 2005 hired Paul Manafort […]


    [Ainārs Šlesers, a flamboyant Latvian businessman and former deputy prime minister, who was assisting the efforts to secure Trump’s involvement] was a central figure in the [Latvia Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) / FBI] inquiry, suspected of using public office to influence decisions on property developments benefiting companies he secretly owned. He and [well-connected Latvian businessman Viesturs] Koziols were also questioned in 2011.


    At the heart of the Latvian inquiry were secret recordings of meetings involving suspects at a hotel in Riga. According to leaked transcripts published by the magazine IR, Šlesers was heard telling a potential investor in February 2011 that he had “an agreement with Trump” after meeting him in New York, and that they were “ready to make the Trump Plaza Riga”. […]


    The Latvian authorities asked for Trump himself to be interviewed for their inquiry, according to the sources. At least one Trump Organization executive did speak with FBI officials, and the company provided written answers to additional questions.

    The US did not formally respond until September 2015, the sources said. By then, Latvian investigators were close to concluding their case, and appear not to have pursued the link with Trump any further.


    Peter Mirijanian, a spokesman for Ivanka Trump’s attorney, said: Work and meetings Ms Trump had five years before the election, which had nothing to do with the election, are not relevant topics to which we will respond.


    Ivanka Trump is reported to have been in some of the meetings (at Trump Eyesore in NYC).

  189. blf says

    In 1959, reporter John Griffin, “underwent a regimen of large oral doses of the anti-vitiligo drug methoxsalen, and spending up to fifteen hours daily under an ultraviolet lamp” until he could pass as an African-American (he successfully fooled some of his close associates). He then spent six weeks or so in the southern states, experiencing the daily Jim Crow racism of that time and place. He then wrote a book, Black Like Me (which I have read) about his experiences†; this was apparently later turned into a movie (which I have not seen).

      † The referenced Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge article on the book notes that:

    Journalist Ray Sprigle had undertaken a similar project more than a decade earlier. In 1948, Sprigle disguised himself as a black man and travelled in the Deep South with John Wesley Dobbs, a guide from the NAACP. Sprigle wrote a series of articles under the title, “I Was a Negro in the South for 30 Days,” which was published in many newspapers. The articles formed the basis of Sprigle’s 1949 book In the Land of Jim Crow.

    Of course, these efforts by Griffin & Sprigle were for short times (weeks, not years) and were travels, not a life at home.

  190. blf says

    Leave.EU group slammed over tweet ‘smearing UK Muslims’:

    Muslim and Jewish groups denounce Brexit campaign group and demand apology for ‘shocking’ post on Twitter.

    A major group supporting the campaign for the UK to leave the European Union has sparked outrage after posting an “appalling” tweet, which critics denounced as both Islamophobic and anti-Semitic.

    In its Twitter post on Thursday, Leave.EU called out the UK’s opposition Labour Party, saying it is reliant on the votes of Britain’s exploding Muslim population, and thus can’t be bothered to deal with “disgusting” anti-Semitism among its members.

    There is an on-going row (which I haven’t paid any attention to) about alleged anti-Semitism in the UK’s Labour Party.

    It’s a question of maths for these people, not justice, the post read, accompanied by an image of a tilted wooden plank, with one end showing a black box with the words 3 million Muslim votes, and the other end a smaller, blue box with the words, 300,000 Jewish votes.

    The words, Turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, were also emblazoned in the lower part of the image.


    The Brexit campaign has long been associated with anti-Muslim sentiments and xenophobia, with groups such as MCB [Muslim Council of Britain] and the hate monitoring group Tell Mama reporting heightened incidents of racism following the June 23, 2016 vote.

    An investigation by the Press Association also found that, three months after the referendum, hate crimes were at their highest since 2012.

    Damian Green, a member of parliament for the ruling Conservative Party and former first secretary of state of Prime Minister Theresa May, called the Twitter post the “worst kind of dog whistle” and urged his partymates linked with the Leave.EU movement to withdraw their support of the group.


    Just to keep things straight, ‘’ is one of a few zillion brexit-supporting groups. The “official” such group is ‘vote leave’, who are one of the groups which used Cambridge Analytica / AggregateIQ / SCL (other using-groups are “BeLeave, which targeted students; Veterans for Britain; and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist [DUP] party”, according to whisleblower Christopher Wylie, Cambridge Analytica parent company had access to secret MoD information). However, as Keep your enemies close: the splits and infighting behind the Leave campaigns points out, there is a viper’s nest of quite murky connections between these groups (and that’s not even mentioning the opaque £435,000 brexit donation to the DUP, Labour criticises move to let past donations to DUP stay hidden (Dec-2017), and What connects Brexit, the DUP, dark money and a Saudi prince? (May-2017)).

  191. blf says

    Lawyers, lawyers everywhere. And none to represent Trump:

    The US president seems in utter denial that there is any problem with his legal representation. But there is
    Lawyers, including John Dowd, have been ousted. Lawyers, most notably Michael Cohen, have been exposed as thugs allegedly paying hush money to a porn star. Lawyers, well-placed Republicans like Ted Olsen, have said no. More recently, other lawyers, like Chicago’s Dan Webb, also declined to come aboard. Lawyers found conflicts to prevent them from representing Trump, like Joe DeGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing.

    Lawyers, lawyers everywhere but none who jump for Trump.

    He will, of course, eventually find someone willing to serve as lead counsel alongside his existing, threadbare team. Unsurprisingly, he seems in utter denial that there is any problem with his legal representation.


    The problem for the white-collar defense bar’s crème de la crème is that Donald Trump is so blatantly the client from hell. He won’t listen. He won’t obey instructions. He is headstrong. He is a bully. Sometimes, he doesn’t pay his bills. Most of all, it’s possible that he isn’t capable of discerning fact from fiction. This last foible could get any lawyer who represents him into very deep legal hot water. No one wants to get disbarred for the fame and fortune of representing President [sic] Trump.


    [… G]ood luck finding a strong lawyer to go up against Stormy’s media-savvy and smart-on-his-feet lawyer Michael Avenatti, who only the other day was on cable television musing about the stupidity of Trump’s existing lawyers. On Morning Joe on Tuesday, Avenatti uttered this eminently quotable line: “In 18 years of practice I’ve seen some really good chess players. These folks are paying tic tac toe.”

    It’s hard to disagree with that.

    CNN also points out (An unheard-of problem: The President can’t find a lawyer):

    [… Hair furor is] perceived as so politically unpopular he may damage reputations rather than boost them. Lawyers at large firms fear backlash from their corporate clients if they were to represent the President. […]


    Even in a city with such a sizable legal industry, so many top lawyers and large law offices with white-collar and national security specialists have already been hired by witnesses, subjects and companies involved in the Mueller probe. Thus, few in town can take new clients at the center of it.


    Greez, it’s easy, hair furor: Just get on the phone to Putin. He’ll send over some highly-qualified clandestine help, equipped with nerve agents, polonium-210, and other kit in the authoritarian toolbox.

  192. says

    This was only being reported by his friends in the rightwing conspiracy world earlier, but now the Guardian is reporting it, too – “FBI questions Ted Malloch, Trump campaign figure and Farage ally”:

    A controversial London-based academic with close ties to Nigel Farage has been detained by the FBI upon arrival in the US and issued a subpoena to testify before Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

    Ted Malloch, an American touted last year as a possible candidate to serve as US ambassador to the EU, said he was interrogated by the FBI at Boston’s Logan airport on Wednesday following a flight from London and questioned about his involvement in the Trump campaign.

    In a statement sent to the Guardian, Malloch, who described himself as a policy wonk and defender of Trump, said the FBI also asked him about his relationship with Roger Stone, the Republican strategist, and whether he had ever visited the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has resided for nearly six years.

    In a detailed statement about the experience, which he described as bewildering and intimidating at times, Malloch said the federal agents who stopped him and separated him from his wife “seemed to know everything about me” and warned him that lying to the FBI was a felony. In the statement Malloch denied having any Russia contacts….

  193. blf says

    Dodgy maths about dodgy pay in the UK, Gender pay gap: multiple firms submit questionable data:

    The equalities watchdog has insisted it will pursue companies that submit inaccurate figures on their gender pay gaps after multiple firms appeared to file questionable information.

    Public sector employers with more than 250 staff are legally obliged to publish their gender pay gap by Friday, while private firms and charities have until Wednesday 4 April. About 7,000 of a estimated total of 9,000 organisations had filed results by Thursday.


    […A]t least 13 companies had filed suspect figures on the Government Equalities Office website, stating they had no mean or median gender pay gap and an equal split of male and female workers in every quartile.


    In one case figures for three different companies were filed by the same HR manager with the exact same figures, with no gender pay gap and an equal divide of men and women throughout the company. It is a legal requirement that company information is signed off at director level.

    Other companies have filed mathematically impossible figures — at least 17 have reported a bonus gap of more than 100%. One company reported an hourly mean gender pay gap of 106.4%, implying that for every £100 earned by a man a woman would “pay” £6.40.


    Some companies have also been accused of not being fully transparent about their gender pay gap, while sticking to the letter of the law. After filing initial figures PwC published its revised pay gap data to include partners, as did EY and Deloitte. But only one of the top five law firms, Clifford Chance, has included the pay of partners, who tend to be better paid and disproportionately male.

    Businesses have also used press releases to divert attention from the full extent of the gap, making it impossible to rely on the non-statutory figures. Slaughter & May reported a gender pay gap of 39% in its services division. However in a press release it noted that gap was greatly reduced if it excluded the secretaries, all of whom are women, from its figures.


  194. says


    (There’s a tragic aspect of this story. When Fabio’s sister had ovarian cancer, he – as a credulous believer in rightwing propaganda – became convinced that the Italian health care system was worthless and brought her to the US to be “treated” by cancer quack Stanislaw Burzynski at the cost of thousands of dollars in the belief that he could save her life. When she died, Fabio continued to believe in the quackery. The rightwing political and economic scams overlap with the medical ones.)

  195. blf says

    This is a bit weird. Someone in the States can probably comment better, but my (admittedly vague) recollection is Cosmopolitan tended to have some good stories / articles with a lot of pieces obviously aimed at young women (including health, fashion, and so on). But p0rn? Nothing at all, as far as I can recall, unless swimsuits are in your definition of “p0rn”. Actually, looking at who is responsible, it does seem to be the work of nutters,
    Cosmopolitan drawn into US culture wars as conservatives urge others to follow Walmart’s lead

    After Walmart said it would stop selling Cosmo in the checkout aisle, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation is eyeing further victories
    Delighted by its success, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCSE) is approaching other leading retailers in the US to ask them to follow Walmart’s lead, putting the magazine squarely on the battlefield in America’s never-ending culture wars.

    Although the NCSE does not have “American” or “Family” or a few other warning words in its title, it is a collection of authoritarian theological fruitcakes — see below…

    In 2015 the conservative activists persuaded Walmart to hide Cosmopolitan’s covers behind wrappers at checkout lanes in some stores, Haley Halverson, the group’s vice-president of advocacy and outreach, told the Guardian. In recent months, she said, the group asked Walmart to go further after receiving complaints from parents.

    Describing the move as a great example of corporate responsibility, Halverson said that the magazine was part of the “hypersexualised media” that “bombards” young girls.

    A lot of 14- or 15-year-old girls would pick up Cosmo because it has a One Direction band member or Selena Gomez on the cover, without really recognising there’s actually very adult material, she said. The articles are extremely graphic in describing sex acts in detail.


    Cosmopolitan is not banned from Walmart. But interested parties will have to find it amid the thicket of other titles in the main magazine section, where in one store in suburban Texas on Thursday, Disney Junior magazine and a Crayola Coloring Book perched next to copies of Tactical Life gun magazine (cover story: “Mass Shooting Mayhem”), Guns & Ammo, Sniper Journal and periodicals devoted to the AK-47 and AR-15 […].


    Founded in 1962 and known as Morality in Media until it was renamed in 2015, the NCSE, based in Washington, linked its crusade with the #MeToo movement. Halverson claimed that Cosmo is “adding to a culture that enforces male sexual entitlement. Every single issue that you pick up of Cosmopolitan will be focused on how to sexually pleasure a man in order to keep him around.”

    Ah. Morality in Media, alias Kooks in Kontrol. I remember those eejits. They are a supposedly multi-religious (albeit suspiciously strong xian fundamentalist) self-appointed watchdog, defining pretty much anything, including breastfeeding and snoring, as “p0rn”. I think the only thing it’s safe to do around them is run away, but that’s probably condemned as “fleeing the righteous hordes to avoid stoning” or something. Ye Pfffft! of All Knowledge reminds me they consider the American Library Association as part of their Dirty Dozen, their “list of leading porn facilitators”. Geesh!

    Continuing (emphasis in the Grauniad):

    The reference drew condemnation from Michelle Ruiz, a former sex and relationships editor at Cosmopolitan. “#MeToo is about unwanted sex and sexual attention, sexual assault, and harassment,” Ruiz wrote for

    “Shielding women from reading about the healthy sex they want to have has absolutely nothing to do with #MeToo. In fact, pulling Cosmopolitan — a magazine by (mostly) women for women — only serves to further shame women for wanting to own their sex lives. The real world took another step toward its slow and sure conversion to The Handmaid’s Tale.”


  196. says

    Hm. I’m going to hold off on believing the Malloch story @ #305 until there’s confirmation beyond Malloch’s own story. It’s not at all far-fetched, maybe even predictable, but I don’t trust any of these people to tell the truth, especially when they’re trying to hype books. Corsi’s claim that Malloch called him during the FBI interview sounds ridiculous. It’s entirely possible that he was questioned and that he exaggerated or misrepresented the details to some people or his evidence-free crowd got them wrong.

  197. blf says

    Maybe connected to @305 and @314, Slightly more than one year ago, the UK’s Financial Times reported Ted Malloch ‘made false statements’ to two US banks (FT edits in {curly braces}; March-2017):

    Courts ruled that would-be Trump ambassador and wife could not write off $5.9m of debt

    Ted Malloch […] made false statements to deceive two US banks into giving him multimillion-dollar loans, according to court documents.

    Legal papers obtained by the Financial Times reveal Mr Malloch and his wife Beth filed for bankruptcy in 2013, and list debts including credit cards, cable television bills and parking fines.

    But two US banks refused to let outstanding debts of $5.9m be written off, arguing that the couple had falsely represented their assets when applying for loans.

    The banks were awarded default judgment in the US, with courts relying on their assertions that the couple had acted with intent to deceive them, after the Mallochs withdrew their response to one claim and submitted none to the other.

    Mr Malloch has said he was never convicted or tried for any fraudulent activities.


    [In 2007 a] predecessor of Sabadell United Bank granted the Mallochs the [$3.5m mortgage] loan, on the basis they had assets worth $15m, including $3m in art and antiques. The couple defaulted in 2011 and subsequently estimated their assets at just $152,000.

    “It is unusual to claim that you have $15m of assets and, as it turns out, you have nothing close to that,” said Edward Taiman Jr, a lawyer who acted for Sabadell. [understatement of the day prize? –blf]

    In the second debt, One Bank & Trust said Mr Malloch and his wife declared combined net worth of $36.3m when applying for a loan of $1.5m, also in early 2007.


    [One Bank] said in court documents that the couple had “failed to explain satisfactorily the loss of assets or deficiency of assets”. They had “falsely represented . . . the nature and value of their assets and did so for the purpose of deceiving {the bank} and/or obtaining loan approval and subsequent modifications thereof”.

    Michael Kopsick, a lawyer for One Bank, told the Financial Times that Mr Malloch appeared to have made “never-ending” efforts to obfuscate the true state of his finances. “Anyone who would consider putting him in a position of trust regarding financial matters should read the bankruptcy court file,” he said.


    The FT has found multiple inaccuracies in Mr Malloch’s autobiography and online CV. He has accused the FT of political assassination.


    For the Mallochs, the story — and the false claims — did not end with the default judgments. The couple had told lawyers for their bankruptcy estate that they did not own their home in Connecticut.

    But the lawyers found that the property was owned by the Spiritual Enterprise Institute, a non-profit organisation devoted to researching the role of spirituality in economic development, of which Mr Malloch was chairman.

    The Spiritual Enterprise Institute sold the house for $547,000 and, according to court records, the net proceeds were wired to a German bank account of which “Theodore Malloch Jr Spiritual Enterprise Institute” was the beneficiary.

    Lawyers for the Mallochs’ bankruptcy estate obtained a court order requiring the couple to provide information relating to the money. Mr Malloch said he had given some of it to his wife, and $183,000 as a gift to the Global Ethic Institute in Tübingen, Germany, where he was a researcher. But the creditors found his testimony “at a minimum, inaccurate, illogical and evasive”. They told the court they were unable to trace the proceeds from the Connecticut home sale.


    From the FT link embedded in the above excerpt (Oxford distances itself from Trump favourite Ted Malloch, Feb-2017):

    Academic said to be in line for EU post accused of falsely claiming college fellowships
    Ted Malloch, who has compared the EU to the Soviet Union, taught at Oxford’s Saïd Business School until last year. He has appeared regularly on British television since the US election in November, often billed as a likely Trump appointee.

    This week the FT identified a number of misleading statements in Mr Malloch’s autobiography, including claims that he was “knighted” into the Sovereign Order of St John by the Queen and called a “genius” by Margaret Thatcher. […]

    The FT has found further signs that Mr Malloch — whose specialist subjects include business ethics — has exaggerated his academic and diplomatic credentials.

    The University of Oxford rejected Mr Malloch’s assertion to have been a senior fellow of Wolfson College. “In publicity statements about, and by, Professor Ted Malloch, he is described as having been a ‘senior fellow of Wolfson College’. This is inaccurate,” it said in a statement.

    Mr Malloch was a visiting academic for two years but “he very rarely visited the college and did not see through any of his plans for research activities in the college” […].

    An online CV for Mr Malloch — which contains his correct mobile phone number and email, and which he did not deny preparing — also states he was a fellow and director of an international summer school at Pembroke College, Oxford. Pembroke College told the FT that this was incorrect. […]

    The CV also states that Mr Malloch has written extensively for The New York Times, the Washington Post and The Economist. No record could be found of him having done so. Asked by the FT, he declined to indicate any articles. […]

    There is a list of what the FT calls “disputed claims” at the end of the second article, ranging from the serious to the comically amusing: “That he was the first to use the phrase thought leadership, a phrase that dates back to the 19th century. Contacted by the FT, Mr Malloch repeated the claim.” What is it with these loons who insist on repeating factually incorrect statements about even the most (relatively (usually)) minor matters, such as the etymology of a phrase?

    All teh bestest peoples…

    (If nothing else, the FT articles support the caution in @314; namely, without independent verifible confirmation the FBI did interview / detain Ted Malloch, his claims are simply not to be trusted.)

  198. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Some government weirdness happening. I was watching the SpaceX Iridium 5 webcast this morning, and SpaceX had to cut it off just before SECO (second stage engine cutoff), and SpaceX said they were ordered to do so by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
    When queried, the PR people for NOAA said “huh?” and “we didn’t do that”.
    Now NOAA PR folks are investigating, as MSM is also asking questions.

  199. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Update to my #316
    From NOAA (via @SciGuySpace)

    NOAA recently asserted that the cameras on the second stage, which are used for engineering purposes, qualify as a “remote sensing space system”, thereby requiring a provisional license so we could fly on time. The license prohibited SpaceX from airing views from the second stage once on orbit. We don’t expect this restriction once we obtain a full license.

    There is also no such restriction for our next mission for NASA.

    The cameras are pointed at the engine and payload. Evidently glimpses of the Earth in the background is sufficient for small minded bureaucrats to be petty-minded.

  200. says

    blf @296:

    “Chemical language“?
    Comrade May, If you don’t mess up brexit even more, I’ll have H₂SO₄ put in your caviar!

    Ha! That was a funny autocorrect error on my part. I don’t even remember what “language” was supposed to be.

    Kind of shocked that I didn’t see the error. Not a good sign.

    In other news, Trump’s own words come back to bite him … again.

    […] In his order rejecting the motion to dismiss, [Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of Federal District Court in Brooklyn] pointed directly at Mr. Trump, noting that his numerous “racial slurs” and “epithets” — both as a candidate and from the White House — had created a “plausible inference” that the decision to end DACA violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

    “One might reasonably infer,” Judge Garaufis wrote, “that a candidate who makes overtly bigoted statements on the campaign trail might be more likely to engage in similarly bigoted action in office.”

    Quoted text above is from the New York Times.

    Additional comments from Steve Benen:

    […] This wasn’t a ruling on the merits of the case — the argument against the White House’s policy is still being litigated — but it was a procedural victory for those trying to protect Dreamers from Trump’s agenda.

    What’s more, it was the latest evidence that the president is often his own worst enemy. Because if this dynamic sounds familiar — a court using Trump’s own words against him — it’s because it keeps happening. […]


  201. says

    So much for Trump’s “infrastructure” speech in Ohio yesterday:

    His appearance was billed as an attempt to promote his infrastructure plan, but Mr. Trump addressed it only briefly near the end of his remarks, and said it was unlikely to pass soon.

    Quoted text is from the New York Times.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] “Now is the time to rebuild our country.” About a minute later, Trump added, “We probably have to wait until after the election.”

    When he said “now,” he evidently didn’t mean now.

    So much for “reviving” the White House infrastructure plan.

    Why wait until 2019 when Republicans control all of the levers of federal power in 2018? Because as Reuters reported a few weeks ago, the GOP-led Congress has no interest in advancing Trump’s weak blueprint. […]

    President Donald Trump wants Congress to approve $200 billion in federal spending over 10 years designed to spur $1.5 trillion in infrastructure spending.

    Keep in mind, the problem really isn’t with Congress on this one. The arithmetic in the White House’s “plan” doesn’t make any sense, and there’s literally no reason to think $200 billion in federal spending – redirected from other priorities – would spur $1.5 trillion in investments.

    What’s more, as we discussed earlier in the month, if lawmakers wanted to make infrastructure a priority, they could. Heck, they wrote, debated, and passed a $1.5 trillion tax plan over the course of a few weeks – which suggests they could make time for infrastructure if they really wanted to.

    But they don’t, in large part because Trump’s plan is a joke.

  202. says

    Now we know how much Pruitt is paying per night to stay in a lobbyist’s house in Washington D.C.

    Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s lease at a Washington apartment owned by a lobbyist friend allowed him to pay $50 a night for a single bedroom — but only on the nights when he actually slept there.

    White House officials are growing dismayed about the questions surrounding Pruitt’s living arrangement, including his initial inability to produce any documentation about his lease or his actual payments, according to three officials. The landlord provided EPA officials with a copy of the lease and proof of the payments Pruitt made.

    In all, Pruitt paid $6,100 to use the room for roughly six months, according to copies of rental checks reviewed by Bloomberg News. Those checks show varying amounts paid on sporadic dates — not a traditional monthly “rent payment” of the same amount each month. […]

    A sampling of current listings of apartments for rent near Pruitt’s temporary pad showed studio and one-bedroom offerings available for $1,350 to $1,975 a month. Some of the current Airbnb listings for rentals of single bedrooms inside apartments and homes on Capitol Hill ranged from $45 to $68 per night. […]

    Critics said the unorthodox rental arrangement allowing Pruitt exclusive, reserved use of the room raised questions and could violate a ban on federal government employees accepting gifts valued at more than $20.

    “At the very least, it doesn’t look good for the administrator of EPA to have rented an apartment from the wife of an energy industry lobbyist who represents companies regulated by EPA,” said Eric Schaeffer, director of the Environmental Integrity Project. […]

    Bloomberg Politics link

  203. militantagnostic says

    Walking past the magazine rack at the Shoppers Drug Mart in Cochrane, Alberta I noticed a magazine that I had never seen before called The New Kingdom. Based on the cover, it looked like it was full of stories about all the “wonderful” things Prince Whatshisname is doing in Saudi Arabia. I didn’t check if it was a periodical or one off bookazine, but it definitely looked like pure advertorial for the new regime. It struck me as very odd and very clumsy even though it was well executed. Has anyone else seen this?

  204. says

    From Trump’s Twitter feed:

    I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!

    Analysis and debunking from Steve Benen:

    […] As is too often the case, the president is badly confused. When Trump says, for example, that Amazon pays little or no taxes, that’s plainly untrue. When Trump says Amazon is bad for the U.S. Postal Service, that’s also wrong.

    […] Trump’s animosity for Amazon has very little to do with the online outlet and quite a bit to do with the Washington Post, which is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. […]


    Fact-check from the Washington Post:

    […] the company charges sales taxes in the 45 states that have them and the District of Columbia. Some states require this by law; in other states, Amazon does it voluntarily. (One caveat here: Amazon charges state but not local sales taxes in some places, according to the left-leaning Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy.) […]

    Amazon itself paid $957 million in income taxes worldwide in 2017, according to a regulatory filing. It paid $412 million in 2016 and $273 million in 2015. Separate figures in the report show it was expecting to pay $100 million to $200 million in taxes at the U.S. state level in 2017. […]

    On top of this, the company may get a historic tax-break package when it chooses a site for its second headquarters. Newark, N.J., for example, has offered $7 billion in state and local tax breaks as part of its bid. Chicago has offered at least $2 billion. [….]

    Trump’s signature legislative achievement, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, lowered the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and gave Amazon a $789 million windfall in 2017. […]

    In 2017, the company noted that the Postal Regulatory Commission “has consistently found that Amazon’s contracts with the USPS are profitable,” The Washington Post’s Brian Fung reported.

    The Postal Service saw a net loss of $2.7 billion in fiscal 2017, driven by factors such as declining flat-mail volume and pension and health benefit liabilities. But its line of business for shipping and packages has been a bright spot in recent years, with revenue increasing by $2.1 billion, to $19.5 billion, in fiscal 2017. […]

  205. says

    “Behind the chaos: Office that vets Trump appointees plagued by inexperience”:

    An obscure White House office responsible for recruiting and vetting thousands of political appointees has suffered from inexperience and a shortage of staff, hobbling the Trump administration’s efforts to place qualified people in key posts across government, documents and interviews show.

    At the same time, two office leaders have spotty records themselves: a college dropout with arrests for drunken driving and bad checks and a Marine Corps reservist with arrests for assault, disorderly conduct, fleeing an officer and underage drinking.

    The Presidential Personnel Office (PPO) is little known outside political circles. But it has far-reaching influence as a gateway for the appointed officials who carry out the president’s policies and run federal agencies.

    Under President Trump, the office was launched with far fewer people than in prior administrations. It has served as a refuge for young campaign workers, a stopover for senior officials on their way to other posts and a source of jobs for friends and family, a Washington Post investigation found. One senior staffer has had four relatives receive appointments through the office.

    On the campaign trail, Trump pledged to surround himself “only with the best and most serious people,” but his administration has been buffeted by failed appointments and vacancies in key posts.

    The PPO is ultimately responsible for recruiting and vetting candidates for more than 4,000 jobs, more than 1,200 requiring Senate approval.

    Every White House faces personnel challenges and includes young and politically connected employees who get jobs through friends or family and senior officials who move on to other assignments. But the shortcomings of this office, and Trump’s appointment process in general, are among the most pronounced in memory, according to presidential scholars.

    “No administration has done it as poorly as the current one,” said Max Stier, president and chief executive of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan group that teamed up with The Post to track appointments.

    The Trump administration has received Senate approval for just 292 of 652 posts identified as key to the functioning of government by the Partnership for Public Service. The administration has offered no nominations for another 217 key Senate-confirmed posts, including director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the ambassador to South Korea.

    A number of Trump appointees have been embroiled in controversy and resigned their posts over questions about their qualifications, backgrounds and comments….

    You really have to read the whole thing to get the full flavor of the corruption and incompetence.

  206. blf says

    militantagnostic@321, I haven’t seen it myself, but I rather suspect this is what you saw, A major US publisher linked to Trump allies has put out a 97-page propaganda spread on the Saudi crown prince:

    ● A major US publisher with links to President Donald Trump has released a nearly 100-page magazine devoted exclusively to praising Saudi Arabia and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
    ● The magazine has been popping up at retailer across the US, and seems to be part of a reported multi-million-dollar global PR campaign to change the West’s perception of the Middle East country.
    ● The magazine coincides with the crown prince’s two week visit to the US.

    According to The Daily Beast, 200,000 copies of the title are available at major US retailers including Walmart and Safeway, and seems to be part of a reported million-dollar global PR campaign to change the West’s perception of the Middle East nation.

    The $13.99 magazine, “The New Kingdom,” has been seen on new stands across the country, particularly in rural areas in Oklahoma and New Hampshire.

    American Media Inc (AMI), which publishes popular US tabloids “The National Enquirer” and “US Weekly”, is behind the glossy publication. The CEO of AMI, David J Pecker, has said he is a close friend of Trump’s and reportedly admitted to killing stories about the future president.

    The media giant claims it received no editorial or financial backing for the glorified portrayal of Saudi Arabia and the crown prince, despite the magazine appearing to lack the ads that would normally cover costs.


    The Daily Beast’s article (see link embedded in above excerpt), Trump’s Publisher Pal Puts Saudi Propaganda Magazine in U.S. Supermarkets, is perhaps more detailed.

  207. says

    militantagnostic @ #321:

    Walking past the magazine rack at the Shoppers Drug Mart in Cochrane, Alberta I noticed a magazine that I had never seen before called The New Kingdom. Based on the cover, it looked like it was full of stories about all the “wonderful” things Prince Whatshisname is doing in Saudi Arabia. I didn’t check if it was a periodical or one off bookazine, but it definitely looked like pure advertorial for the new regime. It struck me as very odd and very clumsy even though it was well executed. Has anyone else seen this?

    Wow. I haven’t seen it in the US. A few weeks ago, I was struck by this image from the UK.

  208. says

    This is the guy who wrote the leaked memo a few weeks ago – “Why I left Fox News”:

    …As I wrote in an internal Fox memo, leaked and widely disseminated, I declined to renew my contract as Fox News’s strategic analyst because of the network’s propagandizing for the Trump administration. Today’s Fox prime-time lineup preaches paranoia, attacking processes and institutions vital to our republic and challenging the rule of law.

    As early as the fall of 2016, and especially as doubts mounted about the new Trump administration’s national security vulnerabilities, I increasingly was blocked from speaking on the issues about which I could offer real expertise: Russian affairs and our intelligence community. I did not hide my views at Fox and, as word spread that I would not unswervingly support President Trump and, worse, that I believed an investigation into Russian interference was essential to our national security, I was excluded from segments that touched on Vladimir Putin’s possible influence on an American president, his campaign or his administration.

    As indictments piled up…I could not even discuss the mechanics of how the Russians work on either Fox News or Fox Business….

    Fox never tried to put words in my mouth, nor was I told explicitly that I was taboo on Trump-Putin matters. I simply was no longer called on for topics central to my expertise. I was relegated to Groundhog Day analysis of North Korea and the Middle East, or to Russia-related news that didn’t touch the administration. Listening to political hacks with no knowledge of things Russian tell the vast Fox audience that the special counsel’s investigation was a “witch hunt,” while I could not respond, became too much to bear. There is indeed a witch hunt, and it’s led by Fox against Robert Mueller.

    The cascade of revelations about the Russia-related crimes of Trump associates was dismissed, adamantly, as “fake news” by prime-time hosts who themselves generate fake news blithely.

    Then there was Fox’s assault on our intelligence community — in which I had served,…

    With my Soviet-studies background, the cult of Trump unnerves me. For our society’s health, no one, not even a president, can be above criticism — or the law….

  209. says

    From the article blf links to @ #328: “Some noted that the advertisements looked better suited to a ‘sleazy gentlemen’s club’…”

    So true! Makes them both more mockable and more unsettling.

  210. says

    “EXCLUSIVE: Pruitt’s EPA security broke down door to lobbyist condo”: “Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s protective detail broke down the door at the Capitol Hill condo where he was living, believing he was unconscious and unresponsive and needed rescue, in a bizarre incident last year that the EPA has for months refused to discuss, according to sources and police radio traffic obtained by ABC News….”

    The lobbyists were reimbursed for the door by the EPA. I don’t even know anymore.

  211. militantagnostic says

    blf @325

    Yes – that’s the one. I bet it is in Real Canadian Superstore and the other Westfair stores as well. I will look for it in Safeway next time I am there. The whole thing stinks on ice. I can’t imagine anyone in their right mind paying for that magazine.

    SC @327
    $13.99 is adding injury to insult

  212. blf says

    Hey now, poor Mr bin Salman is a mere absolute rule of a feudal kingdom with only a couple of zillion billions to his name. He’s got multiple wars to fight — Yemen, Qatar, the demons in his head — and a hairy furor on a leash, all that takes money! A mere 13.99USD is a small, pitifully small, contribution to the extermination of the children of Yemen with bombs, bullets, cholera, and starvation.

  213. says

    Malloch “said the agents served him a subpoena from Mueller’s team that had been issued that day, March 28, and that he later arranged with the Special Counsel’s Office to appear for questioning on April 13.”

  214. blf says

    More on Pecker, the fecker who published the Saudi propaganda, Wooing Saudi Business, Tabloid Mogul Had a Powerful Friend: Trump:

    In July, David J Pecker, the chairman of the company that owns The National Enquirer, visited his old friend President [sic] Trump at the White House.

    The tabloid publisher took along a special guest, Kacy Grine, a French businessman who advises one of Saudi Arabia’s richest men and sometimes acts as an intermediary between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Western businesses.

    The two men and other Pecker associates chatted with the president [sic] in the Oval Office and briefly met with Mr Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East envoy, Jared Kushner. […]

    Mr Pecker has long used his media empire to protect Mr Trump’s image. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Mr Pecker’s company, American Media Inc, suppressed the story of a former Playboy model who claimed to have had an affair with Mr Trump.

    The night of the dinner, Mr Pecker got something from Mr Trump: an unofficial seal of approval from the White House.

    It was an opportune moment for Mr Pecker to showcase his White House connections. He was considering expanding his media and events businesses into Saudi Arabia and also was hunting for moneyed partners in acquisitions.


    Word soon traveled back to Saudi Arabia about the dinner: It signaled Mr Pecker’s powerful status in Washington.

    Two months later, he was in Saudi Arabia, meeting with Mr Grine and the crown prince about business opportunities there, according to AMI.

    And by January, Mr Pecker was confident enough about his growing rapport with Saudi investors that he sought their help bankrolling a possible acquisition of Time magazine, which he had long coveted, according to two people with direct knowledge of the talks. […]


    Ahead of [Mohammed bin Salman’s] visit, AMI published a 97-page glossy magazine that is essentially a promotional brochure for Saudi Arabia and the crown prince. It makes no mention of anything troubling, like the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, human rights concerns or the crown prince’s arrest last fall of many extended royals, including Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, an influential client of Mr Grine’s.

    The magazine — which refers to Saudi Arabia throughout as “the Magic Kingdom” — includes an interview with Mr Grine, accompanied by a photo of him posing with Mr Trump in the Oval Office, taken during his visit with Mr Pecker. It talks up the relationship between Mr Trump and the Saudis, noting that Mr Trump endorsed the crown prince’s high profile anticorruption crackdown.

    AMI has said it produced the magazine to capitalize on interest in the crown prince, who is next in line to the throne, and has been careful to say it received no input or guidance from Saudi officials. That carries important legal implications: Foreign direction or control of such a purely promotional publication may require disclosure to the Justice Department. […]


    AMI would not say who else was among the select group of friends Mr Pecker took to the White House at the president’s invitation. During the evening, the Middle East and the recent French elections came up. In a statement, AMI said, The entire conversation was social, with the exception of a couple very brief mentions of current events.

    Mr Pecker is best known for The Enquirer, but his media empire is wide-ranging. AMI’s titles include Men’s Journal, Hers, Flex and Muscle & Fitness.

    The publisher has used the company at times to protect close friends, including Mr Trump. Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, recently filed a lawsuit alleging that Mr Trump’s lawyer was secretly involved when AMI tried to bury her story about an affair with Mr Trump. AMI bought the rights to her story during the presidential campaign for $150,000 but never published it. In the world of gossip media, such a maneuver is known as a “catch and kill” operation.

    Mr Trump’s lawyer Michael D Cohen and AMI have denied the allegations. Mr Trump’s representatives say the affair never happened.

    During the campaign, The Enquirer also published scathing articles about Mr Trump’s rivals, as well as perceived antagonists like the television host Megyn Kelly. In promoting Mr&bsp;Trump, The Enquirer endorsed a candidate for the first time in its history.

    Since he entered the White House, AMI titles have run articles alleging a deep state plot to undermine Mr Trump. As scandals engulfed the White House, a recent Enquirer cover blared: Donald & Melania Fight Back! Exposing the Lies, Leaks and Intimidation. How They’ll Crush Their Enemies!


    Looks like militantagnostic stumbled on another morass of maggots. The article notes fecker Pecker / AMI seem to be sort of cash, which may be part of the reason he is shopping around for other morally misguided megarich maggots.

  215. blf says

    14 Million Visitors to US Face Social-Media Screening:

    Nearly all applicants for a visa to enter the United States — an estimated 14.7 million people a year — will be asked to submit their social-media user names for the past five years, under proposed rules that the State Department issued on Friday.

    Last September, the Trump administration announced that applicants for immigrant visas would be asked for social-media data, a proposal that would affect about 710,000 people a year. The proposal would vastly expand that requirement to cover some 14 million people each year who apply for nonimmigrant visas.

    The proposal covers 20 social media platforms. Most of them are based in the United States: Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Myspace, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, Vine and YouTube. But several are based overseas: the Chinese sites Douban, QQ, Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo and Youku; the Russian social network VK; Twoo, which was created in Belgium; and, a question-and-answer platform based in Latvia.


    “This attempt to collect a massive amount of information on the social media activity of millions of visa applicants is yet another ineffective and deeply problematic Trump administration plan,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project. “It will infringe on the rights of immigrants and US citizens by chilling freedom of speech and association, particularly because people will now have to wonder if what they say online will be misconstrued or misunderstood by a government official.”

    Anil Kalhan, an associate professor of law at Drexel University who works on immigration and international human rights, wrote on Twitter, “This is unnecessarily intrusive and beyond ridiculous.”


    Along with the social-media information, visa applicants will be asked for past passport numbers, phone numbers and email addresses; for records of international travel; whether they have been deported or removed, or violated immigration law, in the past; and whether relatives have been involved in terrorist activities.


    Last year, John F Kelly, who was then the secretary of homeland security […], told members of Congress that his department was considering asking visitors for passwords and access to online accounts.

    We want to get on their social media, with passwords, Mr Kelly told members of the House Homeland Security Committee. If they don’t want to cooperate, then you don’t come in.

    So far, the government has stopped short of demanding passwords, though travelers have reported being asked for them, on a sporadic basis, at airports and other ports of entry.


  216. blf says

    Trump, Lacking Leverage Over North Korea, Takes Aim at South Instead:

    South Korea settled disputes with the Trump administration over steel tariffs and the revision of a free-trade agreement this week. With those stumbling blocks cleared, it hoped the two governments could focus on the more pressing crisis of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

    As it turned out, South Korea was celebrating too early.

    On Thursday, President Trump said he might postpone finalizing the trade agreement with South Korea […] until he secured a deal in denuclearizing North Korea.

    You know why? he said. Because it’s a very strong card.

    By tying a trade deal with South Korea to progress in denuclearizing North Korea, Mr Trump is showing how little direct leverage Washington has over the isolated, nuclear-armed North just as South Korea and the United States prepare for talks with Kim Jong-un […].

    Instead, analysts say, Mr Trump has been left to exert leverage on South Korea, which is taking the lead in orchestrating the talks, and the South’s president, Moon Jae-in.

    “Things are not going as Trump has wished for, so he is twisting South Korea’s arms so that Moon will work for the kind of results Washington wanted when he meets with Kim Jong-un,” said Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul […]. “Like the businessman he is, Trump is telling Moon, I will pay you — when you produce the results.”

    Hair furor, of course, is notorious for not paying.

    Mr Trump’s decision to link the trade deal with South Korea to a breakthrough in denuclearizing North Korea shows a growing unease in Washington, analysts said. […] Mr Trump feels his approach to North Korea is being undermined in the wake of a flurry of diplomatic initiatives by Mr Kim in recent weeks, especially his meeting this week with China’s president, Xi Jinping, analysts said. […]


    Mr Kim’s decision to travel to Beijing to meet with Mr Xi before his planned summit meetings with the South Korean and American presidents was a brilliant maneuver, analysts said.

    By choosing Beijing for his first trip abroad as leader, Mr Kim recommitted North Korea to the traditional […] alliance with China. At the same time, Mr Kim’s visit helped China reassert its role in diplomacy around denuclearizing North Korea, a process that has been dominated by South Korea and the United States in recent months. If China’s role on the Korean Peninsula grows bigger, it strengthens North Korea’s leverage in talks and helps China as well if a trade war with the United States comes to pass, said Professor Shim.

    Mr Kim’s meeting with Mr Xi has already complicated Mr Trump’s calculations.

    China’s state news media reported that Mr Kim had called for “phased, synchronized” moves toward denuclearizing his country — the same approach the North insisted on in past negotiations with Washington. In those talks, the North said it would take only incremental steps toward giving up its nuclear program, beginning with a freeze, and demanded that the United States offer simultaneous incentives. Those past discussions all eventually collapsed as Washington and Pyongyang accused each other of reneging on agreements.


  217. blf says

    Keep in mind the alleged missile appears to be launched from an enclosed underground silo. That will make it look different (than, say, a Nasa launch from a pad), and — guessing — the actual method of launching may differ as well. For instance, SLBMs (underwater submarine launches) are ejected from the sub by compressed air and then the rocket ignites. I can imagine (some?) ICBMs being “pulled” out of the silo by a small top-mounted rocket, which is jettisoned when the main rocket ignites above ground, outside the silo.

  218. says

    “15 Palestinians Killed, 1,000 Wounded by Israel Fire in Gaza Border Protests”:

    Thousands of Palestinians marched to Gaza’s border with Israel on Friday in the largest such demonstration in recent memory, and 15 were killed by Israeli fire on the first day of what Hamas organizers said will be six weeks of daily protests against a stifling border blockade.

    It was the bloodiest day in Gaza since the 2014 cross-border war between Israel and Hamas.

    Fourteen of the marchers were killed and more than 750 wounded by Israeli fire in clashes along the border fence, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

    The Israeli military said thousands of Palestinians threw stones and rolled burning tires toward troops deployed on the other side of the border fence. It accused militants of trying to carry out attacks under the cover of mass protests, saying that in one incident, Palestinian gunmen fired toward soldiers.

    The large turnout of the flag-waving marchers in the dangerous border zone was a testament to Hamas’ organizing skills, but it also signaled desperation among Gaza residents after a decade-old border closure. Life in the coastal strip has deteriorated further in recent months, with rising unemployment, grinding poverty and daily blackouts that last for hours.

    Israel had threatened a tough response, hoping to deter breaches of the border fence. The Israeli military released video showing a row of snipers perched on a high earthen embankment facing the Gaza crowd in one location.

    Friday’s high death toll and prospects of daily protests in coming weeks have raised concerns about another escalation along the volatile frontier….

    The protest campaign is meant to spotlight Palestinian demands for a “right of return” to what is now Israel. A large majority of Gaza’s 2 million people are descendants of Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes in the 1948 Mideast war over Israel’s creation.

    The 70th anniversary of the establishment of Israel, on May 15, is marked by Palestinians as their “nakba,” or catastrophe, when hundreds of thousands were uprooted.

    Friday’s protest campaign began as Jews prepared to mark Passover, and it is scheduled to culminate with the start of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, in mid-May.

    The anniversary of Israel’s founding will be particularly fraught for Palestinians this year.

    The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem to mark the occasion. The planned embassy move falls in line with Trump’s recognition in December of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a decision that has infuriated Palestinians who seek the city’s Israeli-annexed eastern sector as a future capital.

  219. says

    I can imagine (some?) ICBMs being “pulled” out of the silo by a small top-mounted rocket, which is jettisoned when the main rocket ignites above ground, outside the silo.

    Yes, that could account for some of it. Even as it leaves the frame, though, something about it looks fake. I haven’t watched many of these launches, so it could be mostly novelty (combined with the fact that they’ve used old video and even video games – more than once!* – in the past, so I’m especially skeptical of them).

    * “Russian media, president Vladimir Putin, and Russia’s Foreign Ministry, have repeatedly used fake footage from video games for propaganda purposes. And it’s getting harder and harder to understand why. There’s more than enough real footage of war out there.”

  220. says

    “Records show Trump aides plotted political win for Rick Scott”:

    When Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced on Jan. 9 that Florida was “off the table” for offshore oil drilling, the governor cast the hastily arranged news conference at the Tallahassee airport as unplanned and the Trump administration’s decision as something Scott had influenced at the eleventh hour.

    In fact, Zinke’s top advance staffer, whose job it is to plan ahead for such events, was in Tallahassee the previous day. And top officials from the offices of both Scott and the secretary were in regular contact for several days leading up to the announcement, according to more than 1,200 documents reviewed by POLITICO Florida as part of a public records request.

    The documents, which include phone records, text messages, and emails, contradict the supposed spontaneous event that portrayed Scott as single-handedly securing a politically popular win for Florida’s environmental future only days after the administration had spelled out a controversial new national five-year plan to boost offshore oil drilling. The event left Scott, at least for the moment, with a big victory to hold over Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), whom the term-limited Scott is almost assuredly challenging in 2018.

    The records reaffirm the perception at the time that the Trump administration’s decision to reverse course and remove Florida from the list was carefully choreographed to give Scott a political win in his widely expected challenge this year to unseat Nelson.

    …Nelson’s camp has tied Scott to oil drilling, pointing to the fact that in 2010 when first running for office, Scott said that there must be “sound policies in place” when working to “explore the expansion of domestic drilling in the U.S.”

    Scott now opposes offshore oil drilling, and he immediately tweeted opposition to Trump’s oil drilling plan when it was first announced in early January. That garnered him a “full flop“ from PolitiFact Florida earlier this year.

    His stance also opened a brief rift between the two political pals, but his past statements are not likely to go away headed into the mid-term elections.

    “Just like Donald Trump,” the Florida Democratic Party responded in January, “Governor Scott is trying to rewrite his long anti-environment record with a tweet.”

    Meanwhile, Trump’s expulsion this week of 60 Russian diplomats does not require the Russia to reduce its staffing levels in the U.S. and vice versa.”


    “Pentagon silent on transgender policy released last week”:

    Nearly a week after the Pentagon publicly posted its new recommended policy on transgender troops, the department’s chief spokeswoman refused to clarify portions of the memo or settle confusion about whether service members who have already transitioned from one gender to another would be discharged under the proposed plan.

    Dana White said Thursday that pending litigation challenging President Donald Trump’s order to ban transgender forces prevents her from answering even the most basic questions, including who was on the panel that drafted the recommendations.

    Pressed repeatedly for clarification, White said that while the document was written by a Pentagon review panel, the Justice Department will be responsible for explaining it. Asked who was on the panel, White said she didn’t have that information and she deferred to the Justice Department before saying more.

    Other U.S. officials have said that the senior enlisted advisers for the military services as well as the undersecretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force were members. It’s not clear who else may have been on the panel, including possible legal or military experts. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t allowed to provide the information publicly.

    Asked why the Pentagon put out a nearly 50-page memo before the court cases were settled, White said Trump asked for it.

    “We are in this process, and we’re going to see it through,” said White.

    It’s all just a show and a scam, and every day more damage is done without anyone held accountable.

  221. says

    “From Mueller to Stormy to ‘emoluments,’ Trump’s business is under siege”:

    The carefully maintained secrecy around President Trump’s finances is under unprecedented assault a year into his presidency, with three different legal teams with different agendas trying to pry open the Trump Organization’s books.

    On one side is special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who has subpoenaed Trump Organization documents as part of his wide-ranging investigation into the 2016 campaign. On another is Stormy Daniels, the adult-film actress seeking internal correspondence as part of her effort to be freed from a nondisclosure agreement centering on an alleged affair with Trump.

    And in the most direct assault, the District and Maryland have sued Trump, alleging that he is improperly accepting gifts, or “emoluments,” from foreign or state governments through his businesses, including his hotels. A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the case can proceed, opening the way for the plaintiffs to seek at least a portion of Trump’s tax returns, which the president has refused to release.

    “I think under pretty much any reading of the judge’s order, we can get discovery of his personal financial information in that it relates to payments from foreign and domestic governments,” Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) said. He and D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) also plan to seek other documents related to the president’s D.C. hotel.

    The inquiries are exposing the risks Trump took on when he made the decision to maintain ownership of the company that bears his name while serving in the White House — a departure from 40 years of presidential tradition and the advice of ethics officials….

    Maggie Haberman, responding to a Twitter question about whether Trump’s attacks @ #349 were in response to this report or the one @ #323 above: “Hint – it’s not the one about the government.”

  222. says

    The star of the show ABC just decided to renew tweeted last August: “jew hater hillary clinton’s handler huma weiner is a filthy nazi wh*re.”

    Sorry – that was August 2016.

  223. says

    SC @351, Russian bots and trolls must be all over this QAnon nonsense.

    In other news, Richard Engel’s “On Assignment” show yesterday was excellent.

    Link to segment that includes an interview with a Russian ex-spy who is purportedly on Putin’s hit list. The list includes Christopher Steele.

    Link to segment that discusses how chaos in the White House jeopardizes the war on ISIS. This segment includes a lot of details concerning the major role the Kurds played in defeating ISIS, and how the Kurds are being mistreated and/or abandoned now. The segment is about ten minutes long. It begins in Salisbury, England where the former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned. Engel points out that “Putin is winning in Syria.”

  224. says

    The proposal by Team Trump to add a citizenship question to the census is drawing more fire:

    A Census Bureau advisory body criticized the Trump administration’s move to add a citizenship question to the upcoming decennial survey.

    “We have concerns about the lack of adequate testing, about the implications for nonresponse (unit and item), implications for the cost, and implications for the attitudes about the Census Bureau and concerns about confidentiality,” the Census Scientific Advisory Committee said, in a statement […]

    “There is a hierarchy of needs for the decennial census, with an accurate count of foremost importance, so any proposed changes should be evaluated in consideration of the potential impact on completeness and accuracy,” the panel said. […]


    I noticed that Joy Reid pointed out another aspect of Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ lies, (see comment 171) on this subject: Sanders claimed that a citizenship question was on the “1965” census, but 1965 was not decennial year. There was no census that year.

  225. says

    From Josh Marshall, “I’d missed this insane comparison.”

    Trump: If only the US-Mexico border could be as good as the barbwire, hyper-militarized DMZ between North and South Korea!!!


    Video snippet is available at the link.

  226. says

    Ted Nugent said some stupid stuff:

    Ted Nugent lashed out on Friday at the high school students who have led protests against gun violence in recent weeks, calling them “soulless” and “ignorant” […]

    “I really feel sorry for them because it’s not only ignorant and dangerously stupid, but it’s soulless,” Nugent said […] “To attack the good, law-abiding families of America when well-known, predictable murderers commit these horrors is deep in the category of soulless.”

    “These poor children, I’m afraid to say this and it hurts me to say this, but the evidence is irrefutable, they have no soul,” he added. […]

    “The dumbing down of America is manifested in the culture deprivation of our academia that have taught these kids the lies, media that have prodded and encouraged and provided these kids lies,” he said. […]


  227. says

    From Wonkette:

    How’s this for a little snapshot of Justice in Donald Trump’s America? In Texas, a woman who voted illegally in the 2016 election (she was on supervised release after a felony conviction) was sentenced to five years for her crime, because nothing’s more sacred than protecting the vote from bad people. And in Queens, New York, a former concentration camp guard who lied on his immigration paperwork in 1949 is still living at home, because while ICE is busily deporting all the undocumented immigrants it can get its hands on, there’s no way to deport an actual Nazi war criminal who no other country wants either. America: A Land Of Many Contrasts.

    Crystal Mason, of Rendon, Texas, doesn’t deny that she was on supervised release on a fraud felony when she voted in 2016. But she thinks going back to prison for five years is maybe a bit excessive, especially since, on her release from federal prison, none of the people supposedly there to help her transition back to life on the outside — including her probation officer! — mentioned that she’d be ineligible to vote until her full sentence had been completed. Her attorney, J. Warren St. John, has already appealed the judge’s decision (she opted for a bench trial), and hopes that, at the very least, she can be released on bond until the appeal:

    […] “She was never told that she couldn’t vote, and she voted in good faith. Why would she risk going back to prison for something that is not going to change her life?” […]

    Yes, yes, we know, ignorance of the law is no excuse. But for chrissakes, she served three years in federal prison on a tax fraud charge already — is five years for an illegal vote a proportionate sentence? Let’s not forget that Convicted Felon Dinesh D’Souza only served eight months in federal overnight jail after his own campaign criming, and that mining executive Don Blankenship went to Club Fed for all of one year after being convicted of conspiracy to ignore federal safety regulations — after a mine explosion that killed 29 miners. Still, we’re sure Ms. Mason will never, ever try to throw an election by one vote ever again. […]

  228. blf says

    Trump’s border wall: US military is as unlikely to pay for it as Mexico:

    [… H]is original plan for Mexico to pay for a border wall [has] yet to bear fruit […]

    Plan B might be even more of a long shot.


    “This is not a man who knows anything about how to actually govern,” said Gordon Adams, who served as associate director for national security and international affairs at the OMB under Bill Clinton. “You’d have to have congressional action to allow the transfer of the funds. And that would require 60 votes in the Senate and that means he’d have to have the Democrats on board.”

    Undeterred by any such warnings, if anyone is giving them to him, Trump tweeted what appeared to be a plan for the defense department to cover the cost of the border wall at the weekend.

    Our Military is again rich, he wrote, a week after signing a budget deal that boosted military spending by tens of billions of dollars. Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense. Build WALL through M!

    The White House did not reply to a request for confirmation that M stands for the military, not Mexico. A request for comment on the budget strategy behind the president’s suggestion likewise went unanswered.


    Plan C is to melt down the hair furor eyesores around the world and use the slag to build the pointless wall: M stands for molten.

  229. says

    Behind the chaos: Office that vets Trump appointees plagued by inexperience.

    An obscure White House office responsible for recruiting and vetting thousands of political appointees has suffered from inexperience and a shortage of staff, hobbling the Trump administration’s efforts to place qualified people in key posts across government […]

    two office leaders have spotty records themselves: a college dropout with arrests for drunken driving and bad checks and a Marine Corps reservist with arrests for assault, disorderly conduct, fleeing an officer and underage drinking.

    All the best people are vetting all the best people.

    The Presidential Personnel Office (PPO) is little known outside political circles. But it has far-reaching influence as a gateway for the appointed officials who carry out the president’s policies and run federal agencies.

    Under President Trump, the office was launched with far fewer people than in prior administrations. It has served as a refuge for young campaign workers, a stopover for senior officials on their way to other posts and a source of jobs for friends and family […]One senior staffer has had four relatives receive appointments through the office. […]

    Nepotism run amuck!

    From the start, the office struggled to keep pace with its enormous responsibilities, with only about 30 employees on hand, less than a third of the staffing in prior administrations,[…] Since the inauguration, most of the staffers in the PPO have been in their 20s, some with little professional experience apart from their work on Trump’s campaign […]

    the PPO offices on the first floor of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building became something of a social hub, where young staffers from throughout the administration stopped by to hang out on couches and smoke electronic cigarettes, known as vaping, […]

    In January, they played a drinking game in the office called “Icing” to celebrate the deputy director’s 30th birthday. Icing involves hiding a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, a flavored malt liquor, and demanding that the person who discovers it, in this case the deputy director, guzzle it. […]

    The Post compiled the names of 40 current or former PPO officials under Trump and then examined their qualifications, drawing on résumés, the White House salary disclosures for 2017, ethics filings, police reports and other public records. Reporters interviewed presidential scholars and current and former officials in the Trump, Bush and Obama administrations. […]

    the shortcomings of this office, and Trump’s appointment process in general, are among the most pronounced in memory, according to presidential scholars. […]

    One good example of the Presidential Personnel Office staff typical of Team Trump is Caroline Wiles:

    […] Wiles, then 30, is the daughter of Susan Wiles, a prominent lobbyist and political operative in Florida. Caroline Wiles joined the Trump administration as a deputy assistant to the president and director of scheduling in the White House. […] she was one of six White House staffers dismissed for failing FBI backgrounds checks […] She was eventually moved to the PPO, where she was made a special assistant to the president, a post that typically pays $115,000.

    […] On her LinkedIn page, she simply lists Flagler under education. A Flagler spokesman said she never finished her degree. […]

    Over the years, she has had multiple encounters with police. In 2005, she had her driver’s license suspended for driving while intoxicated, police records show. In 2007, she was arrested for driving while intoxicated and arrested for passing a “worthless check.” She was found guilty of a misdemeanor for driving under the influence. The charge related to the bad check was dropped in a plea agreement. […]

    All the best people, for sure.

  230. says

    Trump’s tweets:

    While we are on the subject, it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon. That amounts to Billions of Dollars. The Failing N.Y. Times reports that “the size of the company’s lobbying staff has ballooned,” and that…

    …does not include the Fake Washington Post, which is used as a “lobbyist” and should so REGISTER. If the P.O. “increased its parcel rates, Amazon’s shipping costs would rise by $2.6 Billion.” This Post Office scam must stop. Amazon must pay real costs (and taxes) now!

    Why is the United States Post Office, which is losing many billions of dollars a year, while charging Amazon and others so little to deliver their packages, making Amazon richer and the Post Office dumber and poorer? Should be charging MUCH MORE!

    Another response to Trump’s misleading tweets:

    […] Slate noted that Trump’s claim of $1.50 lost for every package shipped may have originated in a Citigroup analysis later cited by a Wall Street Journal op-ed in July of last year.

    Josh Sandbulte, whose money management firm owns Fed-Ex stock, asserted in the op-ed that “if costs were fairly allocated, on average parcels would cost $1.46 more to deliver.” That applies to all parcels, not just Amazon parcels.

    The same op-ed noted, though, that Amazon make does use of what are called “last mile” deliveries, in which local USPS depots deliver packages for a lower rate to local addresses.

    As multiple outlets have pointed out, USPS faces a slew of problems, and the massive increase in home package delivery fueled by Amazon and other retailers likely isn’t the primary cause of the Postal Services’ years of operating in the red.


    As noted up-thread, Amazon does pay taxes. See comment 322.

    I think Trump is actively trying to lower Amazon’s stock and to discredit Jeff Bezos who owns both Amazon and the Washington Post.

  231. says

    Good news: an anonymous donor has given Planned Parenthood $9 million to build clinics in Texas.

    The western part of Texas will be getting two new Planned Parenthood clinics, thanks in part to a generous anonymous donor shelling out $9 million to the provider’s Texas affiliate. This marks the return of Planned Parenthood to the region after leaving in 2013 when Texas passed a strict anti-abortion law meant to crack down on the number of abortion providers.

    There’s no word on whether the clinics will offer abortion services. If they do, they’ll be the only abortion clinics in the region. […]


    A separate donor also gave Planned Parenthood $800,000.

    Planned Parenthood in Texas is a major source of cancer screenings for both men and women in Texas.

  232. says

    Follow-up to comments 322 and 366.

    […] The thing that really eats up the Postal Service’s revenue: financial obligations to employees’ health and retirement benefit programs. A 2006 law mandates that USPS pre-fund 75 years of retiree health benefits. That requirement costs billions. […]

    Congress could also help ease some of the USPS’s financial pressure by reexamining its retirement and health obligations. That 2006 law requires the Postal Service to prefund 75 years’ worth of retiree health benefits — which basically means USPS has to make a down payment on future obligations, no matter what.

    A Post Office Inspector General blog entry from 2015 (which, of course, has a big stake in the debate) describes the prefund arrangement like this: It’s as if your credit card company estimated you’ll spend $1 million in your lifetime, so it asked you to send them that $1 million check up front. Most public and private sector unions use a “pay as you go” scheme, and postal workers’ unions and the post office itself have said these aggressive payments prevent the service from investing or developing a business model to make it more sustainable.

    Congress has introduced new legislation that will ease this financial situation by changing those prefunding requirements — among other reforms to postal rates and operations that are supposed to increase profitability. […]

    Maurice McTigue, the president of outreach at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, which focuses on government accountability, said ultimately it’s up to Congress to fix the post office’s woes. “I don’t think that it has any merit to blame Amazon,” he said. “I think if you were to blame the post office for not being as successful as it could be you would have to blame Congress, that won’t allow the post office to manage itself in the best possible way.”

    McTigue said the Postal Service occupies a strange space between government agency and competitive business, which kneecaps its ability to navigate the financial and cultural challenges, from email to online retail. “It’s sort of like saying you’re half-pregnant,” he said. “You can’t be half, and it’s neither a commercial business nor a full government department, so it lives in this netherworld.” […]

  233. says

    Follow-up to comment 360.

    Here is a link to the AM Joy segment that covers the question of adding a citizenship question to the census. The video is 10:30 minutes long.

    “It’s a total farce.” says Ari Berman, a senior reporter at Mother Jones, who was on Joy Reid’s panel.

    This is good.

  234. says

    Maurice McTigue, the president of outreach at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University,…

    Beware – the Mercatus Center is a Koch joint. His idea of proper management would probably be defunding postal workers’ pensions and healthcare while also getting rid of the ACA.

  235. tomh says

    @ 367
    Great news on PP in Texas. I hope that donor can stay anonymous, for their own safety.

  236. says

    Amy Siskind was on MSNBC earlier. She’s been documenting political events in the US since the 2017 inauguration, week by week. Here’s the list from a couple of weeks ago. It’s shocking and distressing to read through any week and realize what’s already been largely forgotten, how each week continues the same patterns, and how they combine into a months-long assault on democracy, justice, and human rights. The first year’s lists have been turned into a book, which is now available.

  237. blf says

    California Governor “Moonbeam” Jerry Brown continues to put hair furor’s nose out of joint, Trump attacks California governor for pardoning ex-convicts facing deportation:

    ● Two of five ex-convicts fled Khmer Rouge in Cambodia
    ● Trump pardoned the Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio over racial profiling

    Donald Trump attacked the California governor, Jerry Brown, on Saturday for his pardon of five ex-convicts facing deportation, including two who fled the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia with their families four decades ago.

    In a tweet, Trump referred to Brown as “Moonbeam”, a nickname a newspaper columnist coined for him in the 1970s. Trump then listed the ex-convicts’ crimes before they were pardoned on Friday. They include misdemeanor domestic violence, drug possession, and kidnapping and robbery.

    Trump, who last August pardoned Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio over the unconstitutional racial profiling of Latinos, wrote: Is this really what the great people of California want?

    According to the White House pool report, Trump sent his tweet […] from the presidential motorcade on the way to one of his golf courses in Florida.


    Brown’s pardons were the third time the Democrat has intervened on behalf of immigrants deported or facing deportation over convictions. He has accused the Trump administration of “basically going to war” with California over immigration policy.

    Brown’s pardons do not automatically stop deportation proceedings, but they eliminate the convictions on which authorities based their deportation.

    Trump’s pardon spared Arpaio from a possible jail sentence. The 85-year-old lawman [sic] announced a run for Senate in January.


    Unlike hair furor’s pardon of gestapo officer Arpaio, Governor “Moonbeam”s pardons were years after the individuals were sentenced. At least one of the individuals was facing deportation to a country where he never lived, “[Daniel Maher] is facing deportation to China, where he has never lived. He is from Macau, which became part of China after his family moved to California when he was three.”

  238. blf says

    Undocumented workers find new ally as unions act to halt deportations:

    Where once building unions would tip off Ice agents, now some are embracing their increasingly immigrant workforce
    When he arrived at the Travis air force base in Fairfield, California, military police called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) after seeing his California driver’s license indicated his undocumented status. Ice also detained a second worker, Rodrigo Núñez.

    “My life just changed in only five or 10 minutes. I felt like I lost everything,” the father of three told the Guardian.

    Two weeks later when his wife came to visit him in an immigration detention center, much to his amazement, he learned that his union, the Painters Union Local 82, was hiring a lawyer to represent him.

    “I just thought that I was a member of the union for work and so I could get insurance for my kids. I never thought that my union would help me in a case like this. It was amazing,” said Mejía Murguía.

    Under the banner #FreeHugo, his union went all out on his behalf, holding rallies around the country to stop his deportation.


    Finally, on 22 November, after 204 days in detention, he was released as a result of his union’s activism in public and in court, winning a stay on political asylum grounds.

    Rodrigo Núñez was less fortunate and was deported back to Mexico.


    Núñez’s union, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, did not defend him. While the Painters Union has chosen to embrace their increasingly immigrant workforce over the last few decades, the UBC has a much more strained relationship with immigrants.


    The leadership of North America’s Building Trades Unions has traditionally been one of the whitest sectors of the labor movement. Civil rights groups have repeatedly sued construction unions to admit African Americans, and for decades, unions like the Carpenters would call immigration authorities to deport undocumented workers.

    However, over the last two decades as construction unions sought to organize larger numbers of undocumented workers, the attitude of labor has changed. Now, in the era of Trump, many labor leaders see an opportunity to accelerate those changes.

    “Has the Trump era accelerated our efforts? Absolutely,” said the Painters Union president, Ken Rigmaiden. “There are too many reasons to mention but one, in particular, is forcing 11 million immigrants back into the dark side of the construction economy, where wage theft and intimidation thrive.”


    Because of Trump administration policy shifts regarding undocumented workers, the Painters Union is one of many that has become a sanctuary union and developed programs to defend their membership against the threat of deportation.


    One factor that has helped promote the leftward shift of the building trades has been the emergence of Latino labor leaders within their unions. One of the most prominent of those is Randy Bryce, a half Mexican, half Polish ironworker from Racine, Wisconsin, known as the “Iron Stache” for his distinctive facial hair, who has become a social media hit with his grassroots campaign against the House speaker, Paul Ryan.

    Despite living in a district in south-eastern Wisconsin that is only 5% Latino, Bryce has made immigration reform a central issue of his campaign; getting arrested recently during a protest against Ryan’s refusal to pass the Dream Act to protect undocumented children raised in the US.

    “People are getting the message,” said Bryce. “I tell people everybody is trying to gain access to the American dream. It’s getting harder and harder to find, but it’s not other people risking their lives trying to come over here to find it. It’s not their fault, it’s the boss trying to keep their foot on all of our necks.”

    More on Randy “Iron Stache” Bryce, Can this progressive ironworker (and his mustache) swipe Paul Ryan’s seat? (June-2017).

  239. blf says

    Follow-up to @340, Hand over my social media account to get a US visa? No thank you:

    Donald Trump has done such a good job making America great again that nobody in their right mind wants to visit it any more. Tourism has experienced a so-called Trump Slump; with international visitors decreasing significantly since No 45 took office.

    Now, it seems that the Trump administration is intent on putting even more people off visiting the country. The government’s latest bright idea is to ask basically everyone who wants to enter America for five years’ worth of their social media history.

    […] I’m not against social media vetting per se. Indeed, I absolutely think that having an inflammatory social media history should preclude you from doing certain things; like, you know, becoming the president of the United States, for example. Tweeting about how you think women who have abortions should be hanged should also stop you from becoming a columnist at the Atlantic, in my opinion.

    But should the US government be asking for carte blanche access to every visitor’s social media? Absolutely not. Not least because it makes no sense. If you’re planning a terrorist attack I highly doubt that you’re tweeting “can’t wait until I martyr myself LOL” or sharing hilarious Isis gifs. And if you were, then I’m fairly sure the NSA might have a few ways of figuring that out already.

    And that, I think, is really the key point here. The government doesn’t need to ask for people’s social media handles in order to vet them. […] This new proposal has nothing to do with national security. It’s about cracking down on free speech.


    Demanding that visitors surrender their social media information is about far more than who America lets into its borders — it’s about suppressing criticism of the president. So, at the very least, please tweet about it. While you still can.

  240. blf says

    The raping children cult is annoyed it isn’t getting tithes and fresh young victims from the bigger China, so may wind up sharing the “treasures”, Vatican and Beijing near deal on bishop appointments after 67-year rift:

    Beijing and the Vatican are reportedly close to an agreement on the appointment of bishops in China, a deal that could lead to the resumption of diplomatic ties severed almost 70 years ago.

    The secretary general of the bishops’ conference of the Catholic church in China, Guo Jincai, told Chinese state media on Thursday negotiations between the two sides had reached “the final stages” and an accord could be reached as early as the end of this month.

    The Catholic church and China’s atheist Communist party have long been at odds over Beijing’s refusal to recognise the pope as head of the church in the country. Now, an agreement that recognises the Vatican’s authority but approves Beijing’s say in the appointments of bishops may be in the offing.


    Some of the excessively overprivileged do not want to share the tithes and victims, Pope’s possible deal with China would betray Christ, says Hong Kong cardinal [Joseph Zen]:

    One motivation for the Vatican is the relatively small number of Catholics in a country filled with people who are increasingly searching for meaning in their lives. There are roughly 10 million Catholics, just a 10th of the overall number of Christians in the country.


    [Zen said,] Could the church negotiate with Hitler? Could it negotiate with Stalin? No.

    Chowder-for-brains, the crutch approved of their pogroms, in part since more sensible people had curtailed the crutch’s ability to wage war and torture people.

    The blood of the martyrs is the seed of new Christians, Zen said. If that blood is poisoned, how long will those new Christians last?

    Oh for feck’s sake.

  241. says

    “The net result of the company’s current mandate is dozens upon dozens of local news anchors looking like hostages in proof-of-life videos, trying their hardest to spit out words attacking the industry they’d chosen as a life vocation.”

  242. says

    Trump’s tweets from today, which he tossed out after watching a scary Fox News program about “caravans” of immigrants headed for the border:

    Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release. Getting more dangerous. “Caravans” coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!

    Mexico is doing very little, if not NOTHING, at stopping people from flowing into Mexico through their Southern Border, and then into the U.S. They laugh at our dumb immigration laws. They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA. NEED WALL!

    These big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA. They want in on the act!

    DACA plainly states that potential recipients must have arrived in the United States no later than 2007. No “big flows of people” can come in now and “take advantage of DACA.” Trump is a blustering, ill-informed, lying bully. You would think that at least some of the people around him could have told him the truth. Nope. Fox News trumps all facts.

    From the government archives of documents related to DACA:

    […] were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday; Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;; Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012 […]

    The influence of Fox News:

    […] Unsurprisingly, Trump’s outburst borrowed nearly word-for-word from an interview on “Fox & Friends Sunday,” minutes earlier, with Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council.

    That border patrol union made the unprecedented decision to endorse Trump, without a union-wide vote, during the Republican presidential primaries. Judd later served on Trump’s transition team.

    Judd and the “Fox & Friends Sunday” crew discussed a “caravan” of Central American migrants and asylum seekers […] The caravan is making its way through Mexico, toward the United States’ border, hoping, according to Flores, that it finds safety in numbers during a journey known for legal impediments and dangerous gangs

    “[…] I mean, how many times do we have to hear stories of United States citizens being killed by people that are here illegally before we actually do something?”

    Before Trump used the term “nuclear option” Sunday, Judd did, referring to a potential Senate procedure to eliminate the legislative filibuster and allow legislation with a simple majority of support avoid minority obstruction. […]


    Trump’s first tweet references “catch and release”:

    The so-called “catch and release” policy refers to undocumented immigrants being released from the government’s custody while awaiting court dates. While serving as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security last year, John Kelly said “We have ended dangerous catch-and-release enforcement policies.”

    But as Reuters pointed out at the time, it’s not so simple: Various court rulings govern how long undocumented immigrants can be held in the government’s custody. Also, there simply aren’t enough beds in the nation’s immigration detention centers to house every undocumented immigrant facing potential deportation.

    Also, being released while awaiting a court date is not how Trump describes “catch and release.”

    All of a sudden, Trump is shouting “NO MORE DACA DEAL,” which is what he and his cohorts wanted all along. He put this stuff out on Easter Sunday. Not helping “the least of these” as the Bible directs. A short summary of Trump’s alternating attacks and support for DACA recipients (mostly attacks, which he has aimed at Democrats in general):

    Trump in September of last year ended Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which grants work authorizations and protection from deportation to undocumented young people who meet certain qualifications. Two federal judges later paused Trump’s action, leaving DACA recipients to face an uncertain future.

    Since September, while occasionally voicing support for DACA recipients as a political cudgel against Democrats, Trump has made no serious effort to help turn protections for DACA recipients into permanent law.

    The Trump administration has also intervened against a handful of DACA fixes that otherwise had bipartisan support, to the frustration of Democratic lawmakers and even some Republicans.

    The “nuclear option” refers to when the Republican majority in the Senate nuked the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. That’s how we got Neil Gorsuch. Trump, and many rightwingers, want the Senate to nuke the filibuster for everything. Not likely to happen, but Trump’s continual repetition is weakening the resistance to that bad idea.

  243. says

    Shulkin tells the truth. The White House does not.

    David Shulkin, the ousted secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, contradicted the White House Sunday by saying he did not resign from that position.

    Politico on Saturday quoted White House deputy press secretary Lindsay Walters, who said: “Secretary Shulkin resigned from his position as Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.”

    Asked Sunday whether he resigned or was fired, Shulkin told CNN’s Jake Tapper: “I would not resign because I’m committed to making sure this job was seen through to the very end.”

    “So you were fired?” Tapper asked.

    “I did not resign,” Shulkin said. […]


  244. says

    Good news:

    […] MSNBC’s ratings success is driven by [Rachel] Maddow’s continued surge. She is no longer a quirky thorn in Fox’s side. She regularly wins her time period in the coveted advertising demographic of 18-34 year olds. In March she beat Hannity every single day of the month except for one. Her average audience for the month was 651,000. That compares to Hannity’s average of 568,000. But even more impressive is that Maddow also bested Hannity in total viewers fourteen out of the twenty-one weekdays in the month. Her average for total viewers was 2.99 million vs. Hannity’s 2.87 million.

    MSNBC should also be proud of having better audience numbers in the demo than Fox News for most of the evening hours including primetime. Their average from 4:00pm to midnight was 458,400 vs. Fox’s 455,800. The Last Word with Lawerence O’Donnell won its time period thirteen of the twenty-one weekdays in March. And The 11th Hour with Brian Williams came out on top on nineteen days. Both of those programs scored higher than their competition (Laura Ingraham and Shannon Bream respectively) for the full month. And although Fox News generally did better during most of the daytime time periods, Deadline with Nicolle Wallace managed to beat Fox’s Neil Cavuto on eight days. […]

    Even worse for Fox News was their actual earnings performance. Their revenue rose less than either of their competitors – a measly seventeen percent. CNN’s rise doubled that to thirty-two percent. And MSNBC rocketed up sixty-two percent.

    We can expect Fox’s earnings to fall even more in April with the advertiser exodus they are experiencing due to Laura Ingraham’s reprehensible attack on David Hogg, […]


  245. says

    Follow-up to comment 380.

    More details about that “caravan” Trump referenced in his mean tweets:

    Hundreds of Central American migrants have organized and banded together on a journey to the US border, and right-wing media and President Donald Trump are reacting with outrage, even describing the caravan as an “act of war” against America.

    “INVASION: Army of Illegal Migrants Is Marching Its Way Through Mexico to U.S. Border,” reads a Friday headline on the Gateway Pundit. The piece describes the group as a “horde” of “invading migrants” who are “organized into groups and sub-groups like an army.”

    The migrants—roughly 80 percent Honduran—are walking through 90-degree heat from south to north through Mexico, according to Adolfo Flores, a reporter documenting the journey for BuzzFeed News. He notes that yes, the group has organized into groups of 10-15 people, and there are committees to organize security, food, and logistics, but it’s “meant to help the migrants empower themselves.” […]

    PJ Media, another conservative platform, cast the caravan in similar terms, but took it one step further. In a piece titled “New Wave of Migrants from Central America Headed to U.S.,” Rick Moran calls it “an organized attack on the American border by open borders activists, aided and abetted by Mexican authorities.” Moran speculates that the group’s intention is to force the US government to “overwhelm the system” and force the US government to release the migrants within the US.

    “This is not only a direct challenge to U.S. sovereignty, it could be considered an act of war,” he writes. “These illiterate, uneducated ‘international workers’ are simply pawns being used by the Mexican government and international migrant activists.”

    Karen, a mother making the journey with her children from Honduras, had a different message. “The crime rate is horrible, you can’t live there,” she told BuzzFeed News on the side of a highway near Huixtla, a town in Chiapas, Mexico’s southernmost state, referring to her home country. “There were deaths, mobs, robbed homes, adults and kids were beaten up.”

    “If we all protect each other,” Rodrigo Abeja, an organizer with Pueblas Sin Fronteras, had said a few days earlier, “we’ll get through this together.”


  246. says

    John Bolton wants a hot cyber war.

    John Bolton has spent years imploring the U.S. to go on the attack in cyberspace — a stance that some digital warfare experts caution could set the nation up for a conflict it would be better off avoiding.

    President Donald Trump’s incoming national security adviser has made this point in a series of op-eds, speeches and appearances on panels and television, arguing that America should deploy its “muscular cyber capabilities” to strike back against digital adversaries like China, Russia, Iran and North Korea. […]

    Starting April 9, Bolton won’t have to make these pitches in public. He’ll have Trump’s ear — every single day. And with the president preparing to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, a trade war looming with China, an expected Russian digital assault on the 2018 midterms, and a deadline nearing to recertify the Iran nuclear deal, Bolton’s cyber hawkishness could have significant ramifications.

    […] cyber specialists [are] wary of blowback on American businesses and infrastructure, the lack of global rules for online warfare and the debatable effectiveness of digital strikes in the first place.

    If you’re covered in gasoline, be careful throwing matches,” said Michael Sulmeyer, a former cyber-policy adviser to Obama administration Defense Secretary Ash Carter. […]

    starting a back-and-forth cyberwar with an adversary like Russia could pose huge risks for a nation as open and wired as the United States. Just two weeks ago, federal prosecutors accused Kremlin-linked hackers of penetrating the U.S. electric grid and copying information that could allow them to take control of power plants’ computers — and potentially even shut off the lights.

    The U.S. can’t go “too muscular, too early, without recognizing what could go wrong,” said Sulmeyer, who now helms the Cyber Security Project at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center. […]

    “U.S. cyber warfare people should use WikiLeaks for target practice,” he [Bolton] said last year on Fox Business. “Take down their capabilities.” […]


  247. says

    Frank Stallone tweeted this:

    This David Hogg [P-word] is getting a little big for his britches. I’m sure someone from his age group is dying to sucker punch this rich little [B-word].

    Watch him run home like the coward he is. He’s the worst rep for today’s youth headline grabbing punk.

    Stallone was excoriated for that tweet. He deleted it and posted an apology:

    To everyone and to David Hogg especially. I want to deeply apologize for my irresponsible words. I would never in a million years wish or promote violence to anyone anywhere on this planet. After what these kids went though I’m deeply ashamed. Please accept my apology. Frank

    At least Frank Stallone is better at apologizing than Laura Ingraham.

  248. says

    The State Department removed references to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from its website. Tillerson was, temporarily at least, erased from history.

    After the Associated Press published an article that noted that Tillerson’s biography on the site led to a “We’re sorry, that page can’t be found,” the State Department spokesperson issued a statement:

    As in the past, the website navigation and content was adjusted to reflect [Tillerson’s departure.] Content related to the former Secretary was archived and content related to Deputy Secretary Sullivan reflects his new role as Acting Secretary.

    The time delay in archiving Secretary Tillerson’s content was due to a normal technological process, which isn’t instant. It is consistent with past transitions, was planned in advance accordingly and occurred in a timely manner.

    I smell B.S., since the information about Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, being sworn in on April 1, was updated immediately … with no mention of Tillerson.

  249. says

    Follow-up to comments 380 and 383.

    […] Trump may still not understand what DACA even consists of, he went on to note that the “big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA. They want in on the act!”

    […] “A lot of people are coming in because they want to take advantage of DACA,” Trump told reporters. “They had a great chance. The Democrats blew it.”

    From Daniel Dale:

    This makes no sense. To be eligible for DACA, people had to have been living in the US since 2007. Nobody who arrives now would be covered by the program even if it wasn’t being terminated. Nor would they be covered by any of the citizenship deals on the table in Congress.

    Melania and Tiffany stood outside an Episcopal church with Trump while he made comments that doubled down on the stupid stuff he had tweeted earlier.

  250. says

    From Philip Rucker and Robert Costa:

    […] Trump began the past workweek cutting into steaks at the White House residence on Monday night with his political soldiers, including former advisers Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, strategist Brad Parscale, and son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.

    He ended it dining on the gilded patio of his Mar-a-Lago estate with eccentric boxing promoter Don King, who said he vented to the president about the Stormy Daniels saga. “It’s just utterly ridiculous,” King said he told a nodding Trump […]

    Nowhere to be seen was John F. Kelly, the beleaguered White House chief of staff and overall disciplinarian — nor were the handful of advisers regarded as moderating forces eager to restrain the president from acting impulsively, […]

    The gatherings neatly illustrated an inflection point for the Trump presidency. Fourteen months into the job, Trump is increasingly defiant and singularly directing his administration with the same rapid and brutal style he honed leading his real estate and branding empire. […]


  251. says

    They’ve been busy:

    “Russian bots are rallying behind embattled Fox News host Laura Ingraham as advertisers dump her show”:

    As companies yank their ads from Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham’s show in droves, she continues to draw support from one key Twitter demographic: Russian bots.

    The advertiser exodus comes after Ingraham insulted Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg’s grades on Twitter. The Fox News host announced Saturday that she would be taking a “pre-planned vacation” amid the controversy.

    On Saturday evening, #istandwithlaura was the top trending hashtag among Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operations, according to Hamilton 68, a website launched last year that tracks Russian propaganda campaigns in near-real time.

    Per the site’s data, the frequency with which the accounts tweeted the hashtag jumped by 2800% on Friday and Saturday….

    “Skripal attack: 2,800 Russian bots ‘sowed confusion after poison attacks’”:

    Russia unleashed an “extensive” disinformation operation in Britain after the Salisbury spy attack, with thousands of suspected robotic accounts spreading doubt and conspiracy on the internet, officials believe.

    It is understood that an estimated 2,800 such online accounts are suspected of posting material about the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, according to monitoring reports prepared for the government. Messages posted by the suspect accounts are thought to have been interacted with 75 million times and to have reached at least 7.5 million people in Britain….

  252. says

    “Putin’s $19,200 rent-a-mobs: Emails show Russia uses paid thugs and email hackers to sow dissent and chaos abroad”:

    Hacked* emails appear to expose the full extent of Russia’s plans to sow chaos and dissent abroad by paying for rent-a-mob rallies, hackers, and propaganda merchants.

    A tranche of emails sent by Kremlin-linked figures were leaked* to the Times newspaper on Monday. They outline a dirty-tricks campaign in Ukraine, which Russia invaded in 2014 on the orders of President Vladimir Putin.

    The emails allegedly outline how much Russia was prepared to pay for various services in a huge disinformation campaign in Ukraine….

    Experts warned that Russia could use the same weapons in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, especially in the wake of the Sergei Skripal nerve agent attack in Salisbury, England.

    “There is overwhelming evidence that the tools and techniques of Russian covert conflict are being used in and against the UK, the US and the EU,” Tory MP Bob Seely, an expert on Russian warfare who analysed the emails, told the Times.

    “In the wake of the Skripal poisoning it’s more important than ever that we understand these methods.”

    He said they represent a “shopping list of subversion.”…

    * Unclear which.

  253. says

    People: Fight the deep state! Down with big government! Government out of our lives!

    Same people: well, if the cops shot that unarmed black dude in the back eight times and then ran over a woman protesting it, they probably had good reasons.”

  254. says

    “Inside the Decade-Long Russian Campaign to Infiltrate the NRA and Help Elect Trump”: “…The notion that the flag-waving NRA of Eddie Eagle has allied itself with the Russian bear, and the government of former KGB colonel Vladimir Putin, can be hard to fathom. But an investigation by Rolling Stone establishes deeper ties between the NRA and Russia than previously reported. The record reveals this union was the product of a sophisticated Russian influence campaign nearly a decade in the making….”

    Much, much more detail at the link. It’s a good article, but doesn’t focus enough on the joint efforts to build a global neo-reactionary axis built on shared values of authoritarian and imperialist politics and white male Christian supremacy. Here’s a description of one of the people involved:

    Nearly as soon as Torshin joined the NRA, he began targeting the gun lobby’s leadership, leaning on a friend, a Nashville lawyer named G. Kline Preston IV. “I’ve probably known him 10 years,” Preston says of Torshin. “He’s one of the finest people I know. He’s a very capable, intelligent, honest man, a very devout Orthodox Christian, very serious about his faith.”

    Preston is a jovial Russophile. He studied abroad in Soviet Leningrad in the late Eighties on his way to an undergraduate degree in Russian language and literature. He has moonlighted as a vodka importer and a trader on the post-Soviet stock exchange. In 2006, Preston opened a sister law office in St. Petersburg, where his practice areas included “lobbying members of government bodies in the United States and the Russian Federation.” Torshin met Preston through mutual Russian contacts, and he invited the lawyer to speak to the Russian senate in 2009. “I’m very pro-Putin, honestly,” Preston says in a rich Southern drawl. “He’s been fantastic for Russia.”

    A campaign banner from Putin’s 2012 election hangs in Preston’s Nashville office, also decorated with Russian nesting dolls of the Trump family. Preston believes Russia shares the values of the American South, but* his own views are reactionary. He calls the Civil War “the War for Southern Independence”; the Confederate Constitution “an improvement”; and has blasted Lincoln as “a terrorist and a war criminal!” In 2013, he posted a meme on Twitter of Barack Obama looking unmanly in comparison to the buff, shirtless Russian leader. Preston wrote, “As long as U.S. is electing foreign-born presidents, I propose Vladimir [Vladimirovich] Putin.”

    The Nashville lawyer saw nothing odd about his Russian friend’s desire to meet the NRA president:…

    (I also love this detail: “[Maria Butina] presented a plaque from Right to Bear Arms to then-NRA president Jim Porter, tweeting, ‘Mission accomplished’.”)

    * “But”?

  255. says

    Prepare your irony meters for breakage. Trump is “honoring” Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

    […] Trump, who faces sexual misconduct accusations from numerous women, on Friday declared April as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.

    “Sexual assault crimes remain tragically common in our society, and offenders too often evade accountability,” Trump’s presidential proclamation read.

    Since 2001, the U.S. has observed April as sexual assault awareness month, with some advocates holding events to mark the month since the 1990s, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Both former president Barack Obama and Trump previously used presidential proclamations to raise awareness for the issue in April. […]

    USA Today link

    The full statement from the White House misspelled “assault” three times. Link. The spelling error has been corrected, but I’m wondering how they could post the statement with that many errors in the first place.

    Here are a few reminders of past hard-to-believe moments brought to you by Trump:

    […] incidents like these keep coming up. When it came time for National POW/MIA Recognition Day, for example, we were reminded of Trump’s snide mockery of former prisoners of war. He honored World Autism Day, which only brought to mind the ridiculous things Trump has said about autism and vaccines.

    Last fall, the president issued a proclamation in support of “National Character Counts Week,” in which he reflected on how “we treat others” and the importance of “cultivating strong character.”

    As we discussed at the time, this isn’t a dynamic that’s likely to go away anytime soon. If Trump honors those with physical disabilities, we’ll be reminded of his mockery of Serge Kovaleski. If the president recognizes Hispanic Heritage Month, we’ll think of his racist attacks against a Latino judge. If he honors Gold Star parents, we’ll be reminded of his unfortunate remarks about the Khan family.

    The president has a weight he’ll drag with him for the remainder of his term: his own record.

    I snipped the description of the Access Hollywood recording and of the women who came forward to tell their stories of Trump doing to them what he had described on that recording.


  256. says

    “Third Woman Sues to Void Secrecy Pact Linked to Trump”:

    A former employee of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign team sued the organization to nullify a non-disclosure agreement she signed, saying it muzzled her from airing discrimination claims.

    Jessica Denson, a Los Angeles-based journalist and actress who oversaw phone banks and Hispanic outreach for the campaign, claims she was harassed by a superior. She had earlier filed a discrimination case against Donald Trump for President Inc. in New York state court, but the campaign sought to enforce the confidentiality deal, filing an arbitration claim asserting $1.5 million in damages….

  257. says

    “Zinke’s Interior Dept Disproportionately Reassigned Native American Workers”:

    Nearly a third of the senior Interior Department (DOI) career officials reassigned under Secretary Ryan Zinke in a major agency reshuffling are Native American, even though Native Americans make up less than 10 percent of the Department’s workforce, a review by TPM has found.

    The finding comes days after Democratic lawmakers demanded an investigation into whether Zinke discriminated when he reassigned 33 career officials last summer, and follows on reports that Zinke has repeatedly told DOI officials he doesn’t care about diversity — which prompted one member of Congress to accuse Zinke of working to create a “lily-white department.”

    Former government officials tell TPM that they see the reassignment of top Native American staffers as part of an effort to remove internal opposition to Zinke’s plan to open up more tribal and public lands to the fossil fuel industry.

    The DOI reassignments are currently under investigation by several government agencies, including the Government Accountability Office, the Interior Department’s Inspector General, and the Office of Special Counsel.

    Singling workers out for political reasons or because of their race would violate federal law. Additionally, DOI’s Indian Preference rules state that the agency must give “absolute preference in employment to American Indians and Alaska Natives” in several of its offices. Those rules specifically apply to reassignments as well as hiring decisions….

  258. says

    From the article to which SC linked in comment 394:

    […] Hall agrees. “The idea of private gun ownership is anathema to Putin,” he says. “So then the question is, ‘Why?’ ” Why was a pro-gun campaign being hatched by a leader in Putin’s own party? The answer, according to Hall, is that Putin was baiting a trap. “He’s reaching out to attract the NRA, specifically, over to Russia.”

    The FBI is now investigating whether Torshin, the current deputy governor of the Russian central bank, illegally funneled cash to the NRA to support the election of Donald Trump, […] Moscow’s NRA connections have also become a focus of House and Senate Russia investigators. In his House testimony, made public in January, Simpson pointed to “Russian banker-slash-Duma-member-slash-Mafia-leader” Torshin and his “suspicious” protégé, a young gun activist named Marina Butina. “It appears the Russians,” Simpson said, “infiltrated the NRA.” […]

  259. says

    There is skullduggery behind the White House’s claim that Shulkin resigned, when in actuality he was fired:

    […] In announcing the removal of Shulkin as VA secretary, Trump tapped Defense Department official Robert Wilkie as the acting leader of the department, bypassing Shulkin’s deputy, who was next in line to succeed him. That decision has reignited a debate among legal experts about the president’s ability to hand-pick replacements for ousted Cabinet secretaries.

    The debate centers on vague language in the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, which gives the president broad authority to temporarily fill a vacancy at a federal agency with an acting official if the current office holder “dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office.” […]

    Politico link

    Analysis from Steve Benen:

    […] In other words, if Shulkin didn’t resign, the president’s personnel authority is far more limited. What’s more, if Shulkin was fired – and literally every piece of evidence makes clear that he was – then he should be replaced by Deputy Secretary Thomas Bowman until the Senate confirms a permanent successor.

    But the White House doesn’t like Bowman, an opponent of the far-right privatization push.

    And so we’re left with an administration that feels it has no choice but to play make-believe, while Shulkin tries to explain reality.

  260. says

    Josh Marshall wrote an article in which he expertly puts Trump’s criticism of McCabe, Amazon, and the FBI into perspective. Here is an excerpt:

    […] Trump’s long run of personal attacks on Andrew McCabe weren’t driven by his [McCabe’s] possible unfairness to Hillary Clinton or possible misleading testimony about those actions. Trump’s attacks on McCabe are part of his efforts to attack the FBI in order to discredit the investigation into his campaign’s collusion with Russia and related crimes. McCabe has been a useful target since his wife earlier ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for the state legislature in Virginia. That is useful in identifying him as an anti-Trump deep state zealot. Full stop.

    The fact that the FBI is an imperfect institution, ran ConIntelPro, surveilled Martin Luther King and a million other things is beside the point. And confusing the point by raising these issues is either dishonest or blinkered. President Trump isn’t trying to even the scales for these past misdeeds. He’s trying to create a system that is dramatically worse.

    […] Amazon is Trump’s target because of The Washington Post.

    Amazon doesn’t own The Washington Post. But it is owned by Amazon’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. So close enough. President Trump’s attacks on Amazon are entirely part of his attacks on independent and even mildly critical media. Full stop.

    When someone says it’s folly to give money to Andrew McCabe’s legal defense fund as opposed to cancer research, that might have some logic if it were really a zero sum proposition. But of course it’s not. The $20 you gave to McCabe wasn’t going to cancer research. And for the vast majority of givers being out that $20 bucks doesn’t make you any less able to give another $20 to the lung cancer foundation. Contributions are a form of visible protest as much as turning out for protests is and buttressing the confidence of future Trump targets that they won’t be bankrupted by his attacks has a salutary effect.

    […] a President who routinely threatens prosecutorial or regulatory vengeance against private companies because they are not sufficiently politically subservient to the President personally is entirely outside of our system of governance. At present, Donald Trump is an autocrat without an autocracy. […] But systems change. And it’s clear that ours is already starting to change under his malign influence. […]

    […] Preserving a rule of law political system from sliding into one that is corrupt and autocratic is much more important than the specifics of whether any one company is monopolistic or nefarious or the individual rights and wrongs of what some high level executive at the FBI may or may not have done. I have no idea whether McCabe lied to that IG. I’ve never spoken to the guy. I don’t really know. But there’s really no way for us to know now or have any confidence that he’s not being singled out because you simply can’t unring the bell of the sitting President demanding his professional destruction for almost a year. […]

    So jumping into the breach to visibly back up the targets of his arbitrary actions isn’t some blinkered liberalism that loses the forest for the trees in its rage and opposition to Donald Trump. It’s really the only way to oppose him. Because his attack on the rule of law and democracy itself is the heart of the danger he poses for all of us.

    More at the link, including Marshall’s more detailed recognition of past misdeeds by the the FBI, and that the FBI is not a perfect institution.

  261. says

    SC @398, they sure went to a lot of trouble to make “Jewberg” look like a real person in those online postings. He must be important to the Kremlin.

  262. says

    Lynna @ #402:

    SC @398, they sure went to a lot of trouble to make “Jewberg” look like a real person in those online postings. He must be important to the Kremlin.

    The conclusion of the article is so interesting. Experts seem to think it seems suspicious, but don’t really know what precisely was behind it. It’s definitely questionable how an account purportedly run by a bellicose senior DoD official named “David Jewberg” who happens also to be a Freemason wouldn’t play into Putin’s hands in some way; but the guy who created the persona actually makes a big deal about his Jewish heritage and is in fact a fucking Mason (as well as a member of a creepy fraternity). As they point out, it’s strange that he and his friends would go so far as to break the law to prop up the persona – creating fake Pentagon and military IDs. It’s very weird. It would be amazing if Rapoport were really a deep-cover Putin agent.

  263. says

    SC @403, as a commenter noted, van der Zwaan’s legal team is digging to find out what Mueller has. May they fall on their faces.

    SC @404, right. I think we will see a lot more on this story soon, thanks to investigative reporters.

    In other news, Trump is cheerleading for the Sinclair Network, to which SC referred up-thread.

    So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.

    It is not the job of the President of the U.S. to cheerlead for a biased news source, or any other news source for that matter.

    Here are a few more details related to Sinclair:

    […] Sinclair’s propaganda, produced by Sinclair’s Kristine Frazao, who just before joining the broadcasting behemoth was a reporter and anchor for the Russian-government funded RT news network, is tailor-made for oligarch-wannabe Trump, set up for him back in his campaign when they “struck a deal with Sinclair Broadcast Group during the campaign to try and secure better media coverage, his son-in-law Jared Kushner told business executives Friday in Manhattan.”

    The deal in the campaign gave Sinclair greater access to Trump, and in return they would run their interviews with Trump without commentary across their huge local network of 173 stations. If Sinclair’s proposed acquisition of Tribune Media is allowed by the FCC, they’ll get as many as 42 new stations, and end up with coverage over a whopping 72 percent of the national audience. The law says that a single broadcaster can only cover 39 percent of the country, but there’s a loophole that Sinclair can exploit. Before cable and satellite dominated how people get their TV, a rule was adopted that allows ultra-high-frequency stations get counted at only 50 percent of their coverage, and a good portion of Sinclair’s stations are UHF.

    The FCC should reject this acquisition, but the agency headed by Ajit Pai seems likely to approve it, despite that fact that Pai is under investigation by the FCC’s own inspector general for “improper coordination” with the broadcaster following a rule change allowing television broadcasters to greatly increase the number of stations they own. Pai and his staff met with Sinclair executives and used language from a Sinclair lobbyist in the rule change. Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has argued that “all of [the FCC’s] media policy decisions have one thing in common: They are all custom built for the business plans of Sinclair Broadcasting.”

    Sinclair is dictating the pro-Trump ideological line that local anchors are forced to parrot to the local-news consuming population. The likely growth of the Trump-approved Sinclair propaganda network and the FCC’s decision to gut net neutrality, and with it an internet open for the free flow of information and activism, makes Ajit Pai’s FCC a direct threat to our democracy.


    Russian connections, propaganda efforts, skirting Federal laws … yes, that sounds like supporters of Hair Furor.

  264. says

    Follow-up to comment 405.

    By tweeting about Sinclair, Trump has assured that the story will be featured on most media outlets. Perhaps we will at the very least have sufficient attention brought to this autocratic, anti-democracy move.

    I am particularly disgusted by Ajit Pai’s collaboration with Sinclair. Hopefully, the Inspector General will come down hard on him for that. Not holding my breath.

  265. blf says

    In Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado wins presidency in vote fought on gay rights:

    Former minister and novelist promises ‘government for everybody’ after runoff where he trounced conservative

    A centre-left former cabinet minister and successful novelist has won Costa Rica’s presidential election, decisively defeating a conservative evangelical pastor and singer who shot to political prominence by campaigning against same-sex marriage.

    Polls before the runoff on Sunday put the two men almost neck-and-neck, but with 95% of ballots counted Carlos Alvarado Quesada of the ruling Citizen Action party had nearly 60.8% of the vote against 39.2% for the National Restoration party’s Fabricio Alvarado Muñoz.


    Alvarado Muñoz […] leapfrogged to the fore of the presidential race after seizing on a decision in January by the inter-American court of human rights that its signatories […] must guarantee same-sex couples equal rights to marriage and property ownership.

    […] Calling the ruling a violation of traditionally Catholic Costa Rica’s sovereignty and values, Alvarado Muñoz pledged to pull the country out of the court and the Organisation of American States if he was elected.

    He also promised to restrict women’s access to abortions, end sex education in schools and fight gender ideology, the theory [sic] advanced by conservative Christian groups, including in Europe, that gay- and feminist-led movements are determined to destroy the traditional family and natural order of society.

    Alvarado Quesada […] pledged to implement the court’s same-sex ruling. […]

    Alvarado Quesada will take office in May. His vice-presidential candidate, Epsy Campbell, will become the country’s first Afro-Costa Rican to serve in that role.

    Congratulations to Mr Alvarado Quesada and Ms Campbell.

    As Gender ideology: big, bogus and coming to a fear campaign near you (see link embedded in above excerpt) points out:

    The phrase is neither a legitimate academic term, nor a political movement but conservatives use it to sell a false narrative and to justify discrimination
    The term first surfaced in the Vatican, in the mid-1990s, a time when sexual and reproductive rights were formally recognised by the UN, and when gender entered the lexicon of the global body. Gender equality was finally being protected and promoted by international legal obligations.

    Advances in women’s rights threatened the Catholic church, which feared this would open the floodgates to abortion and promiscuous behaviour, and lead to the downfall of western civilisation.

    By 1997 the notion of a gender ideology gained wider momentum with the publication of Dale O’Leary’s The Gender Agenda. This influential text — reportedly read by members of the Vatican — maintained that substituting the word “sex” with “gender”, in international spaces like the UN was part of a global feminist scheme to dissolve the family and remake society.

    Teh Gender joins Teh Gay as an object — but certainly not people — by those who already see and use children as objects.

  266. says

    Follow-up to comments 277 (SC), 380 and 383.

    Trump continued to tweet today in ways that incorrectly linked immigrant “caravan” to DACA. Trump also falsely maligned the leaders of Mexico. Why doesn’t someone correct Hair Furor?

    Mexico has the absolute power not to let these large “Caravans” of people enter their country. They must stop them at their Northern Border, which they can do because their border laws work, not allow them to pass through into our country, which has no effective border laws, […]

    Trump went on to rail against people trying to take advantage of DACA, which does not make any sense in this context. People traveling in the caravan are not eligible for DACA. See previous comments.

    […] “I asked some of the migrants on the caravan what they thought about Trump saying they were going to the US for DACA. Some laughed and others said they thought (correctly) they wouldn’t qualify,” wrote Adolfo Flores, the BuzzFeed reporter traveling with the caravan, on Twitter. “For whatever reason Trump is conflating two different issues, DACA and reasons these people are on the caravan. I’ve spoken with dozens of people who cite violence, instability, and poverty as reasons for leaving. Not one has mentioned DACA.” […]

    From Mexico’s foreign minister, Luis Videgaray Caso:

    Every day Mexico and the US work together on migration throughout the region. Facts clearly reflect this. An inaccurate news report should not serve to question this strong cooperation. Upholding human dignity and rights is not at odds with the rule of law. Happy Easter.

  267. says


    SC @404, right. I think we will see a lot more on this story soon, thanks to investigative reporters.

    Another odd detail is that Rapoport was the owner of the house Javanka are renting in DC.

  268. blf says

    Nigeria to investigate allegations of Cambridge Analytica involvement in elections:

    Nigeria’s government will investigate allegations of improper involvement by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica in the country’s 2007 and 2015 elections, a presidency spokesman said on Monday.

    [… A] government committee is looking into claims that SCL Elections, a Cambridge Analytica affiliate, organised anti-election rallies to dissuade opposition supporters from voting in 2007, Garba Shehu, a spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari, said.

    He said it would examine claims that Buhari’s personal data was hacked in 2015 when he was an opposition candidate in the presidential election.

    The investigation would also look into whether Cambridge Analytica’s work for the election campaigns of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party […] broke Nigerian law “or infringed on the rights of other parties and their candidates”.

    Depending on the outcome, criminal prosecutions might result, said Shehu.


  269. says

    Trump’s team is making things as difficult as possible for Summer Zervos and her lead attorney, Gloria Allred:

    Lawyers for […] Trump are seeking an appeal after a judge last month refused to dismiss a lawsuit by a former “Apprentice” contestant who says Trump groped and kissed her following her appearance on the reality-TV show.

    Trump’s attorneys filed court papers over the weekend to appeal the New York court decision that allows Summer Zervos to proceed with her lawsuit, in which she says Trump defamed her by denying her account of their encounters.

    Trump’s legal team said it plans to challenge “each and every part” of state Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter’s March 20 ruling, which rejects Trump’s claims that he is immune from state-court lawsuits while serving as president. Schecter also declined to put the case on ice while Trump is in office.

    “The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution bars state courts from exercising jurisdicition over a sitting president for reasons of federalism, comity and local prejudice,” Trump attorneys Marc Kasowitz, Christine Montenegro and Paul Burgo wrote in the appeal notice dated Sunday. The lawyers also argue that Trump’s denial of Zervos’ story cannot be fodder for a lawsuit because the statement came as part of a political campaign. […]

    The appeal will be heard by the First Department of the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court. The process is expected to take months or more. Trump’s attorneys have said they will seek to put the case on hold during the appeal, but it is unclear whether that request will be granted.


  270. says

    Trump’s team is making things as difficult as possible for Summer Zervos and her lead attorney, Gloria Allred:…

    Allred isn’t representing Zervos anymore. There were other attorneys working on her case before, and now they’ve taken over completely since Allred withdrew last week.

  271. says

    Trump attacks the Justice Department and the FBI … again:

    So sad that the Department of “Justice” and the FBI are slow walking, or even not giving, the unredacted documents requested by Congress. An embarrassment to our country!

    Response, and some background:

    […] Democrats have described the probe, led by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), as a partisan distraction aimed at muddying the waters around special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into President Trump’s campaign and Russia.

    Specifically, GOP lawmakers want to see a tranche of more than a million documents examined by Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, who is conducting a parallel probe into decision-making during the 2016 race.

    FBI Director Christopher Wray recently announced the bureau was doubling the number of personnel working to respond to the document requests, to 54 staffers working in two shifts from 8 a.m. to midnight. Lawmakers have received about 3,000 documents so far.

    The tweet, sent out the morning after Easter, is the latest salvo in Trump’s ongoing criticism of the Department of Justice. […]


  272. blf says

    Macron, the Franglais president:

    Forget the major strikes kicking off on Tuesday in France over Emmanuel Macron’s reforms. For those fighting the drawn-out battle for the French language, the French president committed the ultimate faux pas last week by tweeting in ‘Franglais’.

    The train workers’s union(s?) are going on a three-month strike, on a two-days strike, three-days work (to rule?) pattern, starting tomorrow (Tuesday 3 April), to protest Macron’s employment & unemployment law changes (both in general and those which specifically apply to the train workers). On, I believe, different schedules, other unions will also be striking. This looks to be a “interesting” spring here in France. However, all that is minor stuff compared to this winter’s butter shortage, and now Macron mixing spicing his French with Anglaisisms.

    “La démocratie est le système le plus bottom up de la terre (democracy is the most bottom up system on the planet),” Macron posted enthusiastically on Twitter during a summit on Artificial Intelligence in Paris on March 29, unleashing a torrent of furious tweets. The content of his post was not obviously contentious, except that it was in Franglais, a mix of French and English that has been steadily creeping into the French language for decades.


    Macron committed two offences in his incendiary tweet: not only was the incriminating word in English but it was also a business term. […]


    [… T]he wagging of Gallic tongues on this topic is unlikely to end any time soon.

    Macron, I hasten to add, is not hostile to English (and speaks it fluently). He has been promoting an initiative to make French “the first language in Africa, ‘maybe even the world'” (Macron unveils strategy to promote French language). Not unsurprisingly, that doesn’t go down well with some people, Macron’s French language initiative meets resistance — from French speakers:

    […] Macron is looking to make his nation’s language relevant again. Some in the Francophone world say the move stinks of colonialism.
    One of the main components of his language plan is investment in education in developing countries, particularly in Africa.


    [… A]mong African intellectuals, the linguistic ambitions of France’s president […] have met with scepticism.

    Franco-Congolese author Alain Mabanckou, a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles, turned down an invitation by Macron to help draft the plan, seeing it as a cover for continued meddling in former colonies.

    His sentiments were echoed by Franco-Djiboutian author and scholar Abdourahman Waberi.

    “If he really wanted to get away from the colonial past, he would have consulted more, listened more and engaged in more dialogue” with Africans, Waberi told AFP.

  273. says

    SC @413, thanks for the correction.

    In other news, Trump just congratulated another autocrat on winning a questionable election:

    […] Trump congratulated Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on his election win during a phone call on Monday.

    “The two leaders affirmed the strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt, and noted that they look forward to advancing this partnership and addressing common challenges,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a readout of the call.

    The Egyptian leader garnered 97 percent of the vote, according to the BBC.

    Al-Sisi’s win was considered predictable due to the dropouts and arrests of his opponents. […]

    The State Department acknowledged al-Sisi’s win in a statement on Monday but expressed concerns over the leader’s policies on freedom of expression.

    “We have noted reports of constraints on freedoms of expression and association in the run-up to the elections. We will continue to encourage a broadening of opportunities for political participation for Egyptians, and emphasize the importance of the protection of human rights and the vital role of civil society in Egypt,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.


    Journalists were arrested during that election. Trump was probably jealous of al-Sisi’s power to arrest journalists.

  274. says

    Apparently, some of Trump’s staff do try to correct his ill-informed notions:

    […] “The whole post office thing, that’s very much a perception he has,” another source said. “It’s been explained to him in multiple meetings that his perception is inaccurate and that the post office actually makes a ton of money from Amazon.” […]


  275. says

    In his speech in Ohio, Trump lied about the economy. The U.S. has a fairly good economy, so I don’t see why Trump has to pile some lies on top:

    We’ve got the greatest economy maybe ever, maybe in history. We have the greatest economy we’ve ever had.

    You know the expression, from — I guess, it was Bill Clinton — “it’s the economy, stupid.” Well, it is the economy… There’s never been an economy like this.

    Debunking and analysis from Steve Benen:

    […] Americans should generally be pleased with the overall health of the economy, but to believe this is the greatest economy in the history of the United States is plainly ridiculous.

    It’s not even the strongest economy of the 21st century. GDP growth, for example, looked good in Trump’s first year, but it fell short, not only of Trump’s campaign promises, but also of GDP growth across much of Barack Obama’s presidency.

    Similarly, job growth was encouraging in 2017, but the number of jobs created in Trump’s first year fell short of the annual totals in Obama’s second term. The unemployment rate looks great – continuing a trend that began several years before Trump took office – but it was even lower in 2000, the final year of Bill Clinton’s second term. […]

    Just so there’s no ambiguity here, my point is not to criticize the health of the economy. The recent data looks good, and that’s heartening news, regardless of any political considerations. If the president wanted to claim credit for not making things worse, it’d make sense.

    But the economy is healthy enough that Trump shouldn’t feel the need to lie about it. The idea that there’s “never been an economy like this” is absurd. On many occasions, and by every relevant metric, we’ve seen vastly stronger economies throughout American history.

    […] Telling the truth works fine. Maybe the White House should try it.

  276. tomh says

    @ 419
    Hasn’t mentioned the stock market lately, wonder why that is. He was taking all the credit when it was rising.

  277. says

    The Dow plunged more than 700 points today, thanks in large part to Hair Furor attacking companies like Amazon; and to his renewed threats of trade wars with China and Mexico. The president of the U.S. is decimating the stock portfolios of investors. I wonder how investors are going to take that?

  278. says

    “Roger Stone claimed contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in 2016, according to two associates”:

    In the spring of 2016, longtime political operative Roger Stone had a phone conversation that would later seem prophetic, according to the person on the other end of the line.

    Stone, an informal adviser to then-candidate Donald Trump, said he had learned from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange that his organization had obtained emails that would torment senior Democrats such as John Podesta, then campaign chairman for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

    The conversation occurred before it was publicly known that hackers had obtained the emails of Podesta and of the Democratic National Committee, documents that WikiLeaks released in late July and October. The U.S. intelligence community later concluded that the hackers were working for Russia.

    The person, who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing federal investigation into Russian campaign interference, is one of two Stone associates who say Stone claimed to have had contact with Assange in 2016….

    The other is Nunberg.

  279. says

    Heh. tomh @420, I see we were thinking along the same lines.

    In other news, this might turn out well. There has been so much negative feedback sent to the Interior Department over Ryan Zinke’s plan to increase entrance fees to national parks that the proposal may be canned.

    Interior Department officials are backing away from a plan to dramatically increase entrance fees at the most popular national parks after receiving more than 100,000 public comments from Americans nearly unanimously opposed to the idea.

    In October, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke proposed to increase peak-season entrance fees at 17 parks from $25 to $70 — the largest hike since World War II. Joshua Tree National Park in California, where the peak season starts in January, would have been the first to charge the higher rate, followed by a dozen other parks where visitation peaks in May and June. The cost of riding a motorcycle into the parks would have risen to $50 and walking or biking in would have cost $30. […]

    “So the NPS would more than double the current entry fee for peak season,” read the first of 50,000 comments Interior provided The Washington Post. “I know if I were considering a trip to one of these parks and suddenly found that the trip would incur an exorbitant entrance fee, I would not … repeat not take my family on this trip.”

    “$70 is insane!” another comment declared. “What the hell? You need to go to Congress, get them to fund NPS, and then get our president to actually sign it.” […]

    Washington Post link

  280. says

    “Roger Stone’s Claim of a 2016 Julian Assange Meeting Draws Scrutiny”:

    The special counsel investigating alleged links between Trump campaign associates and Russians is looking into longtime adviser Roger Stone’s 2016 claim that he had met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to a person familiar with the matter.

    In an email dated Aug. 4, 2016, Mr. Stone wrote: “I dined with Julian Assange last night,” according to a copy of the message reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Stone is a longtime informal adviser to President Donald Trump who at that point had no official campaign role.

    The note, to former Trump adviser Sam Nunberg, adds to a growing number of times Mr. Stone claimed during the campaign to be in contact with WikiLeaks. The next day, Mr. Stone publicly praised Mr. Assange via Twitter .

    In an interview, Mr. Stone said the email to Mr. Nunberg was a joke and that he never communicated with Mr. Assange in 2016.

    “I never dined with Assange,” he said. The email “doesn’t have any significance because I provably didn’t go…there was no such meeting. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. This was said in jest.”

    Mr. Stone has been inconsistent in his statements about WikiLeaks and Mr. Assange. During the 2016 campaign, he indicated that he was in direct contact with Mr. Assange. He has also said he communicated with him, but through an intermediary. In a text message with the Journal Friday, he said he never communicated with Mr. Assange.

    On Aug. 5, 2016, the day after the email claiming to have dined with Mr. Assange, Mr. Stone tweeted: “Hillary lies about Russian Involvement in DNC hack -Julian Assange is a hero.”

    Three days later, Mr. Stone told a Republican group in Florida that he had communicated with the WikiLeaks founder and that he believed more damaging documents about Mrs. Clinton would be released in the months to come. “There’s no telling what the October surprise may be,” Mr. Stone told the crowd.

    Then, on Aug. 21, Mr. Stone foreshadowed trouble for Mr. Podesta, whose emails would be dumped online weeks later. “Trust me,” Mr. Stone tweeted, “it will soon [be] the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary.”

    On Oct. 3, Mr. Stone again claimed WikiLeaks had damaging material on Mrs. Clinton: “I have total confidence that @wikileaks and my hero Julian Assange will educate the American people soon #LockHerUp.” On Oct. 5, he wrote: “Libs thinking Assange will stand down are wishful thinking. Payload coming #Lockthemup.”

    Two days later, WikiLeaks released the first batch of Mr. Podesta’s hacked emails….

  281. says

    Follow-up to comment 421.

    The trade war Trump started with China is escalating.

    The Chinese government plans to immediately impose tariffs on 128 U.S. products, including pork and certain fruits, a direct response to President Trump’s recent moves to pursue numerous trade restrictions against Beijing.

    If U.S. goods become more expensive in China, Chinese buyers could opt to purchase products from Europe, South America or elsewhere, […]

    Beijing’s move could force Trump to decide whether to follow through on expansive trade restrictions he had hoped would crack down on China even if Beijing is now threatening to harm U.S. companies that rely on Asian markets for buyers. […]

    Washington Post link

  282. says

    Sorry – the WaPo story @ #422 is from a couple of weeks ago – I saw the link and didn’t realize it was being noted as context for the WSJ report @ #424, which is new.

  283. Hj Hornbeck says

    SC @432: My best guess is that it’s tied to this.

    Wherefor, Mr. Manafort respectfully moves the Court to compel the immediate production of unredacted versions of all search and seizure warrant affidavits in order to permit Mr. Manafort to file any motion to suppress in compliance with the schedule set by the Court.

    Tacked on at the very end is this, from the judge:

    Upon consideration of [Manafort’s motion], it is hereby ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED.

    Which means that if the government prosecutors wanted to extend the deadline, they’d submit a Leave to File. I think. Whether I’m right or wrong, the document should pop up over here in a bit.

  284. says

    I believe Manafort’s lawyers, in addition to the motion mentioned @ #s 233 and 433 above, have also submitted motions to have the whole case thrown out – I could be wrong, but I think one claims Mueller has exceeded his authority within Rosenstein’s mandate and the other that Rosenstein’s mandate was itself excessively broad. One of the three responses from Mueller, and I’m not sure which one, is due today. Do they have until midnight, or a certain time?

  285. Hj Hornbeck says

    The government has until today to respond to one of Manafort’s motions to dismiss, thanks to an extension that was granted here. I don’t see any documents submitted by the government that do respond, so it’s also possible the denied Leave to File is related to that. I’m sticking with my original guess, though.

  286. Hj Hornbeck says

    Oh right, sorry about that. I think this means the deadline is midnight, as there’s no specific time mentioned in the extension.