Discuss: Political Madness All the Time


Lynna is your curator. How are you all holding up, America?

(Previous thread)

Comments

  1. birgerjohansson says

    What madness?
    This is the best of all possible worlds. America has low taxes, Britain is leaving those moochers of the European Union and Cuban cigars may finally become available for us as we relax in exclusive clubs far from the rabble.

  2. says

    A follow-up of sorts to SC’s comment #1.

    […] So Michael Cohen’s uncle Morton Levine’s social club was the headquarters of Russian organized crime in the U.S. […]

    The El Caribe seems like the logical locus which brought Cohen into this world.

    Link

    Much more at the link.

  3. says

    Both Cohen and SDNY have submitted their response to the judge on the review of the Cohen files. Both submitted a handful of names for a special master (I agree with Khazumi that one isn’t required and would set a dangerous precedent). SDNY says they expect to begin going through the seized material next Friday, April 27, and to have finished around May 11.

    In semi-related news, Elizabeth Prelogar has filed an appearance for the Mueller team in the Manafort case. She’s described here as primarily an assistant to Michael Dreeben, but she’s also reportedly fluent in Russian and went to Russia on a Fulbright.

  4. says

    11 House Republicans are calling on Attorney General Sessions to prosecute (in no particular order):

    -Hillary Clinton
    -James Comey
    -Andrew McCabe
    -Sally Yates
    -Loretta Lynch
    -Peter Strzok
    -Lisa Page
    -Dana Boente”

    Matthew Miller: “you know your idea has reached the outer limits of crazy when even Louie Gohmert doesn’t sign onto it.”

  5. says

    Looks like Trump has started to include Stormy Daniels in his tweet tantrums, not by name, but my reference to actions taken:

    A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it)!

    Michael Avenatti, lawyer for Daniels, responded:

    FBI search warrants uncovering EXISTING documents and recordings showing con job after con job pulled on REAL people and very REAL American citizens (who didn’t know it). Welcome to the playing field. #whereyoubeen #basta

    In my experience, there is nothing better in litigation than having a completely unhinged, undisciplined opponent who is prone to shooting himself in the foot. Always leads to BIGLY problems…like new claims (i.e. defamation). LOL. #xmas #hanukkah #basta

    Trump tweeting about the Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen court battles does like Trump taking the bait, or shooting himself in the foot. Choose your metaphor.

    Link to CNN’s article showing the sketch of the man who purportedly threatened Daniels.

  6. says

    Adam Schiff, responding to McConnell’s insistence that he wouldn’t bring the bipartisan bill to protect Mueller to the Senate floor: “When the dark chapter of the Trump presidency is written in the history books, the harshest criticism will be reserved for the GOP leadership in Congress, which put party over country and refused to defend our institutions and the rule of law when they were most at risk.”

  7. says

    SC @8. My apologies. I was going by what I heard in an interview. Turns out to be wrong. I should have checked.

    In other news, Bob Corker had something to say about Trump taking unvetted advice from whomever he calls on the phone or sees on TV:

    […] Forget sanctions on Russia, I can name probably 10 other things where one day we’re doing one thing, the next day we’re doing another.

    At night there are people calling in from all over the country [and] he’s calling them. The chief of staff doesn’t know who he’s talking with. It’s a different kind of environment.

    My staff spends the whole week making sure I’m meeting with people that are not crackpots. The President is very entrepreneurial, he gets input at 11 o’clock at night, let’s say, comes in in the morning and he’s got a different mindset. […]

    Sean Hannity was mentioned by other reports as one of the guys giving Trump unvetted advice.

  8. says

    “Sean Hannity’s former director helped launch a pro-Kremlin propaganda network — and fell in love with Putin”:

    One of Sean Hannity’s former directors — who claims an instrumental role in developing Fox News — moved to Russia to help a sanctioned oligarch start up a right-wing TV network.

    Jack Hanick, whose now-deleted LinkedIn profile shows he began working for Fox News three months before its first broadcast aired in October 1996, left the network in August 2011 and helped launch the Orthodox Christian network Tsargrad TV three year later.

    The religious network’s founder, Konstantin Malofeev, is a Kremlin-connected oligarch who’s been under U.S. sanctions since 2014 for financing pro-Russian separatist rebels in Crimea.

    Despite the sanctions, Hannity’s former director Hanick — who has since been accepted into the Russian Orthodox Church with his family — to help launch the network.

    Malofeev has leveraged his faith and conservative values to accumulate substantial personal wealth as founder of private equity firm Marshall Capital Partners, and he made much of that money as an investor in the Russian telecoms giant Rostelecom.

    He paid back favors to the Kremlin by making Tsargrad TV an overt supporter of Russian president Vladimir Putin and his “nationalist” policies — and Hanick played an instrumental role.

    Hanick became an outspoken supporter of Putin, traveled to a 2013 event in Moscow with other American anti-LGBT activists to praise Russia’s ban on gay “propaganda” — which he later blamed for a breakdown in relations between the U.S. and the Kremlin.

    Hanick left Tsargrad TV — which has featured InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and was the only Russian TV network to cover Trump adviser Carter Pages’ 2016 speech in Moscow — about three years ago but continued working as a consultant to the media company.

    The former Fox News executive was invited to celebrate Trump’s 2016 election in Moscow by Kremlin propagandist Konstantin Rykov — who boasted on Facebook that he helped recruit the “Apprentice” star in 2012 to run for president as part of an “insane” plan to reshape the global order.

    Hanick can be seen celebrating Trump’s election in a video of the event, where he praises Russia for embracing the Christian values he says the U.S. has abandoned….

  9. says

    From Steve Benen, some analysis of the contradictory statements about Russia that have emerged from team Trump:

    Q: Do you think that the administration has been tough enough on Russia?

    PAUL RYAN: Oh, yeah…. We have moved miles in the right direction on our Russia policy…. We have so improved our policy with respect to Russia, far more hawkish, far more realistic.

    Perhaps the House Speaker hasn’t been paying close enough attention to Donald Trump’s latest moves on Russia.

    […] Shortly before he praised the administration’s toughness on Russia, the president changed his mind — and embarrassed U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley — about imposing new sanctions on Russia over its support for the Assad regime in Syria. That’s not what a hawkish, tough-on-Russia president would do.

    This news came just days after we learned Trump threw a profanity-laced tantrum when he thought his administration’s expulsion of Russian diplomats might make it look like we were being harsher toward Putin’s government than Europe. That’s not what a hawkish, tough-on-Russia president would do, either.

    There was also a report today in the New York Times about Trump yelling angrily at his television when he recently saw Nikki Haley “criticizing Russia over its intervention in Ukraine.” That’s not what a hawkish, tough-on-Russia president would do, either.

    All of this comes less than a month after Trump congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin in the wake of his sham election, despite being handed briefing materials that said, in all-capital letters, “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.” That’s also not what a hawkish, tough-on-Russia president would do.

    There’s a deeply strange conversation underway, in which Trump, Paul Ryan, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and their allies insist that this White House has been impressive in its “toughness” toward Moscow. “Nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have,” the president recently said about himself.

    And as part of that same conversation, we’re confronted with voluminous evidence that points in the exact opposite direction. […]

    More at the link.

  10. says

    Trump’s pile of lies about California, (tweeted at 3:59 AM this morning):

    There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept. Jerry Brown is trying to back out of the National Guard at the Border, but the people of the State are not happy. Want Security & Safety NOW!

    From Gabe Ortiz:

    […] it’s clear what he’s talking about when he uses “crime infested” and “breeding” language—this is how you dehumanize people. This is how you turn them into animals, and make it easier for racist supporters to verbally and physically attack them, and for the government to chip away at their rights, to lock them up and to eventually deport them and their families. This isn’t a dogwhistle, it’s a bullhorn.

    From Congressman Ted Lieu:

    Crime rates in CA decreased from 2010 to 2016.

  11. says

    “‘Russian Elon Musk’ raped and tortured to death in custody, say experts”:

    A broken spine, signs of electric torture, asphyxiation, knife wounds and rape – these were just a few of the grim and unexpected findings of an official medical report into the death of a Russian inventor in pretrial custody.

    Valery Pshenichny, 56, was jailed in January after being accused of embezzling 100m rubles (£1.1m) in a defence contract to develop 3D submarine models. Just three weeks later, his body was found hanging from an improvised lace noose in his St Petersburg prison cell.

    Prison authorities initially insisted it was suicide, but friends of the businessman sensed something was up….

    Surprisingly, authorities have agreed foul play was involved, and have signalled a dramatic departure in their investigation by reportedly collecting DNA samples from prison guards.

    The apparent brutality of Pshenichny’s case has already brought comparisons with another Russian prison scandal, the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in November 2009….

    …Like Sergei Magnitsky, Pshenichny’s problems began when he accused another of fraud….

  12. says

    “Sadiq Khan challenges Corbyn to ‘walk the walk’ on antisemitism”:

    Sadiq Khan has weighed in on the Labour antisemitism debate, claiming that some of the cases were so “glaringly obvious” that the party should have been quicker at kicking out offenders.

    The London mayor singled out his predecessor Ken Livingstone, saying it was “difficult to believe” that he had not been expelled nearly two years on from his “clearly antisemitic” remarks.

    He issued a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn to “walk the walk” on tackling antisemitism within the party, after the Labour leader instructed his new general secretary, Jennie Formby, to make it a priority.

    Corbyn has been accused of failing to tackle the issue head-on after a series of recommendations from an internal review by Shami Chakrabarti were slow to be implemented, with several still outstanding….

  13. says

    Update to #4 – another notice of appearance in the Manafort case: Adam Jed. Hm.

    From this helpful article on the Mueller team members:

    Adam Jed is an appellate lawyer who comes from the DOJ’s Civil Division. Jed, a 2008 Harvard Law School graduate, once clerked for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. He has worked at the DOJ since 2010. In 2014, then-Attorney General Eric Holder awarded Jed the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, a top DOJ honor, according to a DOJ news release.

    Randomly, it notes that Prelogar was Miss Idaho 2004.

  14. davidnangle says

    SC @ 20, Cable news can never let a Republican disappear, as long as they have verbal damage still to do. He can have appearances for life, as can they all.

  15. says

    SC @17, thanks!

    In other, but related news: I wonder if donors to Trump’s re-election campaign ever get tired of this stuff. Campaign funds may have been used, again, to pay legal fees.

    The law firm representing Michael Cohen […] has received payments from President Trump’s re-election campaign.

    The payments to the law firm by Trump’s campaign could ultimately complicate any efforts by Robert Mueller’s team to win Cohen’s cooperation in the Russia investigation. […]

    Trump’s 2020 campaign paid over $214,000 to McDermott, Will and Emory during the last three months of 2017, FEC records show. The campaign paid the firm an additional $13,000-plus in the first three months of this year.

    All three lawyers representing Cohen in the federal probe into his financial dealings work for McDermott. […]

    The Cohen probe reportedly grew out of a referral from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who handles the federal Russia investigation. But these two probes are being run separately. […]

    It likely would be legal for the Trump campaign to pay Cohen’s legal bills in the Russia investigation, as long as both parties agreed to it, since that probe grew out of the 2016 campaign, experts in campaign finance say. But if the payments also cover McDermott’s representation of Cohen in the probe into his finances, they could violate campaign finance laws. […]

    Even if the Trump campaign is only paying McDermott for its Russia-focused work on Cohen’s behalf, the fact that the same lawyers are representing Cohen in the financial probe creates a complicated ethical situation, raising questions about whose interests are being represented: Cohen’s, Trump’s, or the Trump Organization’s. […]

    Link

  16. says

    Follow-up to comment 23.

    […] Cohen has reportedly said he’d rather “jump out of a building than turn” on his friend and longtime business partner. If the Trump campaign is paying for Cohen’s legal representation, he’s even less likely to do so. […]

  17. tomh says

    @ 24
    I say, put him on the top floor of the Trump Tower and give him a choice. Let’s see if he really means it.

  18. says

    “Big banks are minting money right now”:

    Trump’s corporate tax cuts helped fuel Wall Street’s blockbuster first-quarter results. Ditto for the recent market mayhem, which Trump played a starring role in at times.

    Morgan Stanley and Bank of America (BAC) both revealed record quarterly earnings this week. A critical measure of profitability at Goldman Sachs hit a five-year high.

    And banking king JPMorgan Chase (JPM) hauled in $8.7 billion during the first three months of 2018. That’s the largest quarterly profit by any US bank — ever.

    The industry* got a huge boost from the Republican tax law. Banks traditionally pay high tax rates, making them among the biggest winners from the corporate tax rate falling from 35% to 21%.

    Big banks have also cashed in on the return of volatility to Wall Street. The market drama, driven by Trump’s trade crackdown as well as plunging tech stocks and fears about inflation, boosted trading activity as clients rushed to execute orders. That’s a big moneymaker for Wall Street firms, which suffered from an unusually tranquil 2017….

    * One of my pet peeves is referring to banking (PR, advertising,…) as an industry.

  19. says

    More team Trump attacks on education:

    The federal government […] funds Head Start, the national preschool program that serves poor families. Barnett pointed out in a recent op-ed that the program’s budget was so small this year that Head Start had to scrap plans to make the school day longer. The Trump administration has proposed cutting Head Start even further.

    The federal government also administers the Preschool Development Grants Program, which last year contributed more than $230 million to state preschools—the Trump administration has proposed eliminating the program entirely. This money is especially important, Barnett points out, because it’s earmarked to increase preschool access for poor children. “That’s an incredibly important piece of this puzzle,” he says.

    Link.

    More at the link.

    Mr. Barnett, mentioned above, is Steven Barnett, a lead author of new Rutgers University report, and the senior codirector of Rutgers’ National Institute for Early Education Research.

  20. says

    New Zealand’s prime minister is 37 years old, the youngest world leader of any nation. She is pregnant, and about her pregnancy says, “I look forward to the day where there won’t be news stories about that because it won’t be nearly as unusual but for now I accept that that’s just the way it is.”

    She is making more news by commenting on a comparison to Trump:

    […] Jacinda Ardern said she’s “infuriated” at the notion that her immigration policies are compared to those of President Trump. […]

    “We are a nation built on immigration — I’m only a third-generation New Zealander,” she said. “The suggestion in any way that New Zealand wasn’t an open, outward facing country — the suggestion that I was leading something counter to that value — makes me extremely angry.”

    Ardern added that her party is working to double their refugee quota and she is “absolutely not” building a wall like her American colleague.

    Ardern was responding to a September 2017 post by the Wall Street Journal that she was the equivalent to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “except she’s more like Trump on immigration.” […]

    Link

  21. says

    All the best people.

    The White House has chosen a former Trump campaign staffer accused of sexual harassment as acting chief information officer at the Department of Veteran Affairs […]

    Camilo Sandoval, the former director of data operations for President Trump’s 2016 campaign, was already working in the VA and has been mentioned in several media reports for repeatedly clashing with former VA Secretary David Shulkin.

    Shulkin was ousted from the department last month, one of a string of high-profile Trump administration departures this year.

    A former Trump campaign employee, Jessica Denson, sued Sandoval for $25 million last year, alleging that he harassed, slandered and sexually discriminated against her while working on the campaign, according to Politico.

    Denson states in the lawsuit that Sandoval threatened to fire her and started rumors aimed at undermining her credibility, including claims that she was behind a leak of Trump’s tax data.

    Sandoval previously worked at the Treasury Department before moving to the VA, but was reportedly required to work in a basement office after battling career staffers. […]

    Link

  22. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 11.

    From Matt Yglesias:

    […] Clinton was, of course, extensively investigated by multiple committees of the US Congress as well as the FBI. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy went so far as to concede at one point that the only actual purpose of the Clinton investigations was to hurt her poll numbers […] the FBI’s investigations exonerated Clinton […]

    Nonetheless, House Republicans suggest that she should be prosecuted on the theory that because the Steele dossier was paid for in part by a lawyer who worked for the Clinton campaign, the campaign was “disguising payments to Fusion GPS” in a way that violated federal campaign finance law.

    But the issue here, to be clear, is not a particular zeal for campaign finance law. It’s a broad request that the full force of the US government be brought to bear against Trump’s political enemies. […]

    On policy issues, Trump has largely adopted Paul Ryan’s views. In exchange, mainstream GOP leaders like Mitch McConnell are shutting down legislation that would stop Trump from firing Robert Mueller, while fringier figures like the signatories to Trump’s letter are urging him to go further and mount politically motivated prosecutions of the opposition party.

    “The authoritarianism is coming from inside the House.”

  23. says

    “Right-Wing Extremists Guilty In Terror Plot Against Muslim Refugees”:

    Three right-wing militiamen from rural Kansas were found guilty on Wednesday in a plot to slaughter Muslim refugees living in an apartment complex in Garden City.

    Patrick Stein, Gavin Wright and Curtis Allen were found guilty on charges of weapons of mass destruction and conspiracy against civil rights. Wright was also found guilty on a charge of lying to the FBI. The defendants will face a potential life sentence.

    The jury decided the case after slightly less than a day of deliberations….

  24. says

    SC @30, agreed. More money for bankers, lots more, and less money for children in low-income communities.

    Republican policies will soon allow auto lenders to discriminate on the basis of race. That more or less fits into the pattern. Link

  25. says

    “New York Attorney General Seeks Power to Bypass Presidential Pardons”:

    Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of New York is moving to change New York state law so that he and other local prosecutors would have the power to bring criminal charges against aides to President Trump who have been pardoned, according to a letter Mr. Schneiderman sent to the governor and state lawmakers on Wednesday.

    The move, if approved by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and the Legislature, would serve notice that the legal troubles of the president and his aides may continue without the efforts of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

    Under the plan, Mr. Schneiderman, a Democrat, seeks to exempt New York’s double jeopardy law from cases involving presidential pardons, according to the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. The current law and the concept of double jeopardy in general mean that a person cannot be tried for the same crime twice.

    Right now, New York state law prevents people from being prosecuted more than once for crimes related to the same act, even if the original prosecution was in federal court. There are already a number of exceptions to the law, and the letter says that Mr. Schneiderman is proposing to add a new one that could be used if federal pardons are issued.

    Mr. Schneiderman’s move has the potential to set off a battle in the State Senate, where Republicans have narrowly controlled the chamber through alliances with Democrats. Earlier this month, though, most Democrats in the chamber ended a long-running feud, which has left a degree of doubt over long-term control of the body. An April 24 special election in Westchester County could determine who will lead the chamber.

    The measure would likely be supported by Mr. Cuomo, who is tacking left in the face of a primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon, the actress and activist. The state’s Assembly has long been a bulwark of liberal ideals.

    The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution has a double jeopardy clause that says “nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” But that applies to multiple prosecutions of the same federal offense.

    The states are almost evenly split between those that have additional double jeopardy protections at the state level and those that do not, giving a measure of viability to Mr. Schneiderman’s effort. And Mr. Schneiderman has successfully backed changes to the double jeopardy law before….

  26. says

    “White Evangelical Support for Donald Trump at All-Time High”:

    A new PRRI survey finds white evangelical support for President Trump at an all-time high, with 75 percent holding a favorable view of the president and just 22 percent holding an unfavorable view. This level of support is far above support in the general population, where Trump’s favorability is at 42 percent.

    White evangelical support for Donald Trump has steadily increased over time. Notably, Trump’s favorability among white evangelicals never reached 50 percent during the 2016 primary season. By the early fall of 2016, however, his favorability among white evangelicals had jumped to 61 percent. By the inauguration it increased to 68 percent, and shortly after the inauguration in February 2017 it jumped again to 74 percent. Over the course of 2017, there were minor fluctuations, but Trump’s favorability among white evangelicals never dipped below 65 percent during this time.

    Trump’s support among white evangelicals at this stage of his presidency is strikingly solid….

  27. says

    “UK government loses key Brexit vote”:

    The UK Government has lost a key Brexit vote, with the upper House of Parliament backing calls to remain in the EU customs union after Brexit.

    The House of Lords voted 348 to 225 to amend the government’s EU Withdrawal Bill, which will now return to the House of Commons where the defeat is likely to spur renewed opposition.

    The amendment requires the government to report to Parliament by October 31 on what steps it has taken to remain in the customs union, which allows goods to flow freely across the European Union.

    The government opposed the amendment. Prime Minister May had previously said Britain will not remain in the customs union after Brexit takes effect….

    I’m not entirely clear about what this means going forward.

  28. says

    “Rep. Schiff Introduces Legislation to Prevent Abuse of Presidential Pardons”:

    Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced the Abuse of the Pardon Prevention Act, legislation to prevent this President or any other from abusing the pardon power for their own personal benefit or to obstruct justice. The legislation would require that if the President pardons someone in connection with an investigation in which the President or one of his family members is a target, subject, or witness, the evidence against recipient of the pardon would be provided by the Department of Justice to Congress.

    “President Trump already has signaled that he is willing to use his constitutional powers in order to protect those who remain loyal to him, even if they are convicted of obstruction or perjury,” said Rep. Schiff. “By pardoning Scooter Libby last week, Trump has sent a clear and unmistakable message to potential witnesses against him or members of his family that: ‘if you have my back, I’ll have yours.’

    At a time of constitutional peril, it is incumbent on the Congress to stand up for the rule of law by creating a strong disincentive to the President issuing pardons to protect himself and obstruct ongoing investigations.”…

  29. says

    “Erdogan Calls Snap Elections In Turkey, And State Of Emergency Is Extended”:

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called new presidential and parliamentary elections for June 24, more than a year earlier than scheduled. The change announced Wednesday by Erdogan speeds the implementation of the constitutional changes approved last year, which will give the president broad new powers upon completion of the next national election.

    Just hours after Erdogan’s televised address Wednesday, Turkish lawmakers voted to extend the country’s state of emergency through July — the seventh such extension since Ankara first implemented it after an attempted coup in July 2016.

    Speaking at the presidential palace in Ankara before the parliamentary vote, Erdogan told the country that, with political uncertainty rampant in the region, there was simply no time to lose in scheduling new elections….

  30. thirdmill301 says

    1. Remember when Candidate Trump told us that if we elected Hillary Clinton it would be four years of nothing but scandal and controversy?

    2. At this point I am unable to feel a shred of sympathy over any bad thing that happens to anyone who agreed to work for Donald Trump.

    3. At this point,I do not care if the Trump pee tape is real. He has done so many stupid and awful things that if the tape does exist, it would be just one more thing to add to the list, and wouldn’t even be anywhere near the top of the list.

    4. The Trump administration needs a theme song. A month ago I would have suggested either “Don’t Know Much About History” or “If I Only Had a Brain”, but now it seems “Stormy Weather” might be appropriate.

    5. The Trump administration would be hilarious if it were happening in a movie, but the problem is that as a movie plot, nobody would believe it.

    6. I wonder if any journalists (are you listening, Jake Tapper?) now regret having spent most of 2016 yapping about her emails.

  31. says

    “Tennessee lawmakers punish Memphis for removing statues”:

    The Republican-dominated House in Tennessee voted Tuesday to punish the city of Memphis for removing Confederate monuments by taking $250,000 away from the city that would have been used for a bicentennial celebration next year.

    The retaliation came in the form of passage of a last-minute amendment attached to the House appropriations bill that triggered heated debate on the House floor and stinging rebukes from lawmakers from Memphis.

    Rep. Antonio Parkinson began to call the amendment vile and racist before being cut off by boos from fellow lawmakers.

    “You can boo all you want but let’s call it for what it is,” the Memphis representative said.

    Another Memphis Democrat called the move to take away the money unchristian, hateful and unkind, and she said she was tired of lawmakers treating her city as if it wasn’t part of the state.

    “I know some of you all would be happy if we gave the doggone part of the state to Arkansas,” Rep. Raumesh Akbari, said. “Arkansas would gladly take us. But I’ll tell you something: I don’t support this, and I think if you do it you’re being ugly. It’s not fair. Memphis is a part of Tennessee. I didn’t even realize how much y’all disliked Memphis till I got to this Legislature.”…

  32. says

    “Ex-Playboy Model, Let Out of Tabloid Contract, Can Freely Discuss Alleged Trump Affair.”

    Terms are very favorable to McDougal. Her lawyer is describing it as a “total win.”

    American Media indicated earlier this month that it would fight Ms. McDougal, asking the Los Angeles Superior Court to dismiss her lawsuit.

    But that was roughly a week before federal investigators obtained email communications, audio recordings and other documentation from Mr. Cohen during their raid of his office, home and hotel room. Those materials included information about American Media and the McDougal suit, people involved in the case said.

  33. twarren1111 says

    Well, I guess we know now what happens if someone who scores 40 out of 40 on the Hare PCL-R becomes president.

    dangerouscase.org

    The point is not the ‘Goldwater policy’. The point is that in 2018 we know enough about neurobiology. The point is that the first question in mental health is ‘does the sufferer have findings consistent with a mental issue AND does the sufferer affect interpersonal relationships because of it?’

    As the mental health professionals state clearly at dangerouscase.org the answer to both is yes. I’m not saying if you have NPD you can’t be president, or a doctor or a teacher or a parent, but if you fit the criteria and are affecting others then you must be evaluated. And if you do have NPD then it has to bo outed to the appropriately affected people. If you’re the POTUS that means every human needs to know. Because the lack of empathy, the lack of a functioning paralimbic system means that you are a thinking brain stem. In other words, a thinking reptile. And the ability to maintain fiduciary responsibilities is just not possible. By neurobiology. And we all need to know that if it’s true.

    The only hypothesis that explains all the evidence is that trump lacks a functioning paralimbic system. And that is a testable hypothesis. He already scores a 40 on the PCL-R just using publicly available data. 40 years of it. An EEG and a fMRI will verify. Then the cabinet should act.

    I don’t understand why this is so hard to see and understand. It’s science.

  34. says

    Josh Marshall has expanded on what he wrote at Lynna’s link @ #3. He draws more insights from an excerpt/book by Seth Hettana, of which he got a review copy (it’ll be released in May). (I linked to the excerpt here last week.) The key point is about Cohen’s Ukrainian/USian father-in-law, Fima Shusterman, and his connections to Russia, Ukraine, and (possibly) Trump. Marshall: “I’d never realized Shusterman was such a critical player – perhaps even already a source of cash for Trump and, if Seth’s source is right, the reason Cohen got his job.”

    What’s long caught my notice is that one of the few parts of the Steele memos redacted by Buzzfeed concerns this family relationship. How the memos work is that each one starts with a series of bullet points, followed by a paragraph expanding on each bullet point and sometimes a “company note.” The one from I think October 18th 2016 contains:

    -Kremlin insider highlights importance of TRUMP’s lawyer, Michael COHEN in covert relationship with Russia. COHEN’s wife is of Russian descent and her father a leading property developer in Moscow

    4.* Speaking separately to the same compatriot in mid-October 2016, a Kremlin insider with direct access to the leadership confirmed that a key role in the secret TRUMP campaign / Kremlin relationship was being played by the Republican candidates personal lawyer Michael COHEN. [REDACTED BY BUZZFEED NEWS]

    Company Comment 6.**

    6.[REDACTED BY THE MOSCOW PROJECT]***

    Both of these redactions are about three lines of text. As I said, there are few redactions, and all of the others appear to be names/descriptions of sources. If you consider what Buzzfeed didn’t redact, there clearly seems to be something very sensitive related to Cohen’s family in the memos for Buzzfeed to block it out.

    * This section refers to the bullet point above.
    ** I assume this develops the redacted section of the summary.
    *** This is misleading – it’s also redacted by Buzzfeed.

  35. says

    *explodes*

    “In Closed-Door UN Meetings, Trump Administration Officials Pushed Abstinence For International Women’s Health Programs”:

    In closed-door meetings at the United Nations in March, Trump administration officials pushed socially conservative views on women’s rights issues — including abstinence-based policies over information about contraception — that were further to the right than those expressed by most other countries present, including Russia and the representative for the Arab states, UN officials who attended the meetings told BuzzFeed News.

    The Trump officials’ approach at the UN meeting makes it clear that the administration intends to extend its views on abortion, contraception, and sexual education beyond US borders to an extent that is unusual even for Republican administrations.

    The comments came during the annual UN Commission on the Status of Women, a two-week session described by a spokesperson for the US Mission to the United Nations as the UN’s “most important meeting on women’s empowerment.”…

    Early in this series of meetings, Bethany Kozma — a senior adviser for gender equality and women’s empowerment at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and anti-transgender activist — emphasized that the US was a “pro-life nation,” sparking a strong reaction from delegates in the room, two officials in the room confirmed to BuzzFeed News.

    Shannon Kowalski, the director of the International Women’s Health Coalition, said that the Trump administration’s stances on women’s health presented in the meeting were “further to the right” than they were at last year’s commission, or even under George W. Bush’s administration….

    Throughout the two-week session, Trump administration officials discussed shifting international policy on women toward abstinence-oriented education and teaching women sexual “refusal skills.” Those views — as well as the US’s push for more conservative policies on immigration, trade and environmental regulation — ended up uniting most of the 45 CSW member states against the US on family planning issues, six sources who attended or were familiar with meetings told BuzzFeed News.

    Two Trump administration officials — Alma Golden of USAID and Valerie Huber of the US Department of Health and Human Services — emphasized their agencies’ anti-abortion views at another off-the-record meeting during the session….

    According to the delegates, the Trump officials discussed “sexual risk avoidance” programs — a coded term for encouraging teenagers to delay sex until marriage — and told the group that HHS was conducting research to show these tactics helps lower teen pregnancy and STD rates, the delegates said.

    Huber also discussed teaching young women sexual “refusal skills,” Torres and two other sources confirmed.

    “She spoke of ‘trying to get women to make better choices in the future,’ which is that terrifying and outmoded idea that women make bad sexual choices and that what happens to them is their fault,” one of the delegates who attended the meeting told BuzzFeed News, adding that during this moment of the #MeToo movement, it seemed “particularly regressive.”

    Prior to serving at HHS, Huber was the president of Ascend, an association that promotes abstinence until marriage as the best way to prevent teen pregnancy. During her time at HHS as secretary for population affairs, Huber restructured the Title X family planning grant requirements to emphasize “natural family planning” (meaning nonhormonal, high-failure-rate methods of regulating pregnancy, such as ovulation tracking). She was also involved in stripping funding from HHS’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and shifting federal funding to research about the “economic impact of sexual delay.”

    Huber was recently promoted to senior policy adviser to the assistant secretary of health at HHS. It is unclear whether Huber will have influence over the US’s international health policy in this new role, or if the position is limited to domestic policy.

    In order for the Commission on the Status of Women’s “agreed conclusions” to be released, there must be unanimous consensus from every member state. Notes taken throughout the negotiations and provided to BuzzFeed News show that the US contested the addition of references to “modern contraception,” “emergency contraception,” and “unsafe abortion,” among other similar phrases to the documents. According to the notes and an official involved in the negotiations, the US said that abortions can only be safe for the woman and never for the fetus.

    The final version of the conclusions have no references to contraception, abortion, or sex education, but maintain references to “sexual and reproductive health and rights,” and “universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning.”

    “The rest of the membership came together and stared the [US] down and said, ‘We’re going to still have language on sexual and reproductive health, yes we are,’” the UN official said. “And we won.”…

    This. Also the RNC finance chair had to resign amid decades of allegations of sexual harassment/assault/rape, and a deputy finance chair (the one whose office wasn’t just raided by the FBI) just had to resign when it was revealed that he paid over a million dollars to his (paid) mistress to keep quiet about their affair and the abortion he pressured her to have.

  36. blf says

    SC@38, In theory, if the UK remains in the customs union post-brexit, that would help considerably with the problem of the Ireland–N.Ireland land border. It is also part of the so-called “fallback solution” already agreed with the EU should no other solution to the border problem be agreed. The other part of the fallback solution is to maintain regulatory alignment; together, the two parts come very close to N.Ireland (at least) effectively remaining in the EU albeit with any say in the EU’s operation, regulations, &tc. As such, a de facto “border” in the Irish Sea is created between the bigger island (Great Britain) and the entire island of Ireland. The DUP and überbrexiters (at least) are totally opposed, albeit if they don’t come up with a solution agreeable to Ireland and the rest of EU, it is what will happen. Hence, as per previous comments, the attempts to claim the Good Friday Agreement, which created the current fully-open land border, is no longer needed — no Good Friday Agreement, no “need” for an open land border, “problem solved”.

    And that’s just the impact on the island of Ireland. As for the rest of the UK, I’m unclear. However, all(?) this only applies if the UK, or at least N.Ireland, remains in the customs union. Which, excepting the special case of the fallback solution for the land border on the island of Ireland, hasn’t been agreed. (It occurs to me I haven’t a clew what happens if there is no brexit agreement at all, as I think the fallback solution applies only if there is a brexit agreement with no other solution to the land border.)

    The UK’s PM (Theresa May), überbrexiters, and DUP are all opposed to remaining in the customs union (and to regulatory alignment). The Labour party apparently supports remaining in the customs union (no idea about regulatory alignment).

      ─────────────────────────

    Whilst I was doing some checking for this comment, I came across this article, which I think I missed when it was originally published. It describes the situation with the brexit and the land border, Why Can’t UK Solve the Irish Border Problem in Brexit? (Feb-2018). That article dates from when (Feb) the EU wrote down & published what the UK had agreed (in Dec-2017). After publication, the UK tried to throw a wobbly and claim they had agreed no such thing. (From memory, the UK has since admitted what the EU wrote done — the fallback solution (which the article, perhaps misleadingly, calls a “proposal”) — is what was agreed.)

  37. blf says

    me@58, Oops! Bad bad Tpyos offering (regarding the fallback solution’s de facto Irish Sea “border”): with any say → without any say

  38. blf says

    China’s Weibo reverses ban on ‘homosexual’ content after outcry:

    China’s Sina Weibo on Monday reversed a decision to remove gay content after outcry among gay Chinese who say the company had smeared homosexuality by lumping it with pornography as it tried to meet government censorship directives.

    China’s Twitter-equivalent Weibo said on Friday it would remove pornographic, violent or gay videos and cartoons in a three-month campaign, singling out a genre of manga animations and comics that often depict raunchy gay male relationships.

    In response, [LGBT] advocates poured online to criticise the decision using hashtags, open letters and even calls to dump Sina shares.

    On Monday, Sina said the clean-up would no longer target gay content.

    The outcry reflects a fear that growing censorship tends to ban all gay content as dirty, a setback for efforts to carve out an online space of tolerance for homosexuality in China’s traditionally Confucian society, LGBT advocates say.

    […]

  39. blf says

    Farcebork is still desperate to avoid even the concept of responsibility, Facebook moves 1.5bn users out of reach of new European privacy law:

    Company moves responsibility for users from Ireland to the US where privacy laws are less strict

    Facebook has moved more than 1.5 billion users out of reach of European privacy law, despite a promise from Mark Zuckerberg to apply the spirit of the legislation globally.

    In a tweak [sic] to its terms and conditions, Facebook is shifting the responsibility for all users outside the US, Canada and the EU from its international HQ in Ireland to its main offices in California. It means that those users will now be on a site governed by US law rather than Irish law.

    The move is due to come into effect shortly before General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force in Europe on 25 May. Facebook is liable under GDPR for fines of up to 4% of its global turnover — around $1.6bn — if it breaks the new data protection rules.

    The shift highlights the cautious phrasing Facebook has applied to its promises around GDPR. Earlier this month, when asked whether his company would promise GDPR protections to its users worldwide, Zuckerberg demurred. We’re still nailing down details on this, but it should directionally be, in spirit, the whole thing, he said.

    […]

    Facebook told Reuters that we apply the same privacy protections everywhere, regardless of whether your agreement is with Facebook Inc or Facebook Ireland. It said the change was only carried out “because EU law requires specific language” in mandated privacy notices, which US law does not.

    Privacy researcher Łukasz Olejnik disagreed, noting that the change carried large ramifications for the affected users. “Moving around one and a half billion users into other jurisdictions is not a simple copy-and-paste exercise,” he said.

    “This is a major and unprecedented change in the data privacy landscape. The change will amount to the reduction of privacy guarantees and the rights of users, with a number of ramifications, notably for for consent requirements. Users will clearly lose some existing rights, as US standards are lower than those in Europe.”

    […]

    Facebook also said the change did not carry tax implications. That means users will exist in a state of legal superposition: for tax purposes, Facebook will continue to book their revenue through Facebook’s Irish office, but for privacy protections, they will deal with the company’s headquarters in California.

    The company follows other US multinationals in the switch. LinkedIn [owned by Microsoft –blf], for instance, is to move its own non-EU users to its US branch on 8 May. We’ve simply streamlined the contract location to ensure all members understand the LinkedIn entity responsible for their personal data, it told Reuters.

  40. KG says

    SC@38, blf@58,

    The amendment passed by the House of Lords doesn’t actually specify the Customs Union, but a customs union. And it only commits the government to making a statement about the steps it has taken on a customs union. Nonetheless, the government is likely to try to reverse the defeat when the bill returns to the Commons – because despite the rhetoric about “Parliamentary sovereignty” it does not want to be in any way constrained by Parliament in the Brexit process. It will probably succeed: a few Tories will vote to keep the amendment, but a few Labour MPs will vote to remove it – and many Tories who would like to support it will be deterred by the possibility it could threaten the government’s fall. The Commons can override any Lords defeat (by reversing it twice, IIRC – so the amendment could be reinstated by the Lords, then removed again by the Commons, and the Lords would then have no further power to put it back in – but I don’t know if they could then pass a different amendment with a similar aim).

  41. says

    “Cohen drops libel suits against BuzzFeed, Fusion GPS”:

    Embattled attorney Michael Cohen has dropped a pair of much-touted libel suits against BuzzFeed and the private investigation firm Fusion GPS over publication of the so-called dossier detailing alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russia.

    Cohen abandoned the suits late Wednesday as he continues to fight to recover documents and electronic files seized from his home, office and hotel room last week by federal authorities as part of what appears to be a broad criminal investigation into his conduct.

    Dropping the suits could help Cohen avoid being questioned by lawyers from Fusion GPS or having to turn over evidence related to the case — both steps that could undercut his defense in the criminal probe….

  42. blf says

    The amendment passed by the House of Lords doesn’t actually specify the Customs Union, but a customs union.

    Good point.

    I am aware the amendment is only for a report on agreeing / having a (as per your correction) customs union, not a commitment to any customs union. For obvious reasons, that report should include a section on the directly-related Irish land border problem, including the already-agreed fallback solution of the (as far as I know) customs union for N.Ireland.

    I concur the UK “government” will try to overturn the amendment (I don’t know if anyone has specifically said so (yet) or not). However, Senior MPs to stage Commons vote on staying in customs union next week (12:55 mark):

    Senior backbenchers are going to force a Commons vote on staying in the [sic] customs union next week.

    It will be a vote on a backbench motion, which means that it will not be binding on the government and — if precedent is anything to go by — Tory MPs will just be encouraged to take the afternoon off instead of voting in the the division.

    But the debate will allow pro-Europeans in the Commons to mount a show of strength. And, crucially, it will establish whether there are seven or more Tories willing to vote for staying in the customs union — enough to defeat the government customs union amendments to legislation get put to a vote later in the spring.

    […]

    Here is the key passage:

    {This House} therefore calls on the government to include as an objective in negotiations on the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union the establishment of an effective customs union between the two territories.

    This goes further than the customs union amendment passed by the House of Lords last night, which just urged the government to explore the option of staying in the customs union in the Brexit talks. […] This motion doesn’t say the UK would definitely remain in the customs union; it just sets that as an objective.

    This is very similar to the wording of amendments to the trade bill and to the customs bill […] which have been tabled by the Conservative MP Anna Soubry. These are the votes the government is worried about losing. Next Thursday will show us how likely that prospect is.

    The wording, as quoted in the above excerpt, is again only for a customs union, not necessarily the customs union, albeit as a goal, not merely calling for a report.

    The above-cited except also points out the just-passed “amendment seemed to leave open the possibility of the government coming back and saying, having looked at it, it concluded customs union membership was a bad idea.”

    I also except a lot of spin and lying before the vote, and during the “debate”. And since it’s not binding, an unusual amount of “mysterious” absenteeism…

  43. blf says

    British regulator probes impartiality of Russia’s RT channel:

    Britain’s broadcasting watchdog on Wednesday opened seven impartiality probes concerning Russia’s RT news channel, noting “a significant increase” in programmes warranting investigation since the poisoning of a former Russian spy in March.

    “Ofcom has today opened seven new investigations into the due impartiality of news and current affairs programmes on the RT news channel,” the regulator said in a statement.

    Ofcom said that TV Novosti, the holder of RT’s UK broadcast licences, which is financed from the budget of the Russian Federation, had an overall compliance record not “materially out of line with other broadcasters”.

    “However, since the events in Salisbury, we have observed a significant increase in the number of programmes on the RT service that we consider warrant investigation as potential breaches of the Ofcom Broadcasting Code,” it added.

    […]

    The investigations centre on programmes broadcast between March 17 and April 16, following the March 4 attack.

    Ofcom has the power to impose financial penalties, or even revoke the licence to broadcast.

    […]

    RT faces seven new investigations in aftermath of Salisbury poisoning:

    Ofcom is examining instances where Kremlin-backed news channel potentially breached UK broadcast laws on impartiality

    [… N]ot all [of the seven new] cases necessarily related to the Salisbury attack.

    […]

    RT has been found guilty of 15 breaches of the Ofcom code since 2012, which the British regulator says is not an unusually high number for a news channel. Most of the breaches related to a lack of impartiality regarding coverage of Russian foreign policy, especially the wars in Syria and Ukraine.

    The channel has delighted in attacks on its impartiality, repurposing official criticism as evidence of its outsider status and claiming that the UK government is trying to shut down a dissenting voice. Last year it spent hundreds of thousands on advertising campaigns that ran on London’s public transport network. The posters mocked suggestions that Russia intervened in western elections and suggested viewers should watch RT to “find out who we are planning to hack next”.

    RT’s willingness to give a platform to figures ignored by larger mainstream news channels has made it a favoured home for political figures who struggle to get a hearing elsewhere. […] Nigel Farage has been a regular guest.

    […]

    Whilst nobody here should need reminding, both RT (formerly Russia Today) and the “news agency” Sputnik are fairly obviously Russian state propaganda organs. As France24 (first excerpt) puts it, RT gives “a platform to conspiracy theorists as well as far-right or anti-establishment figures who emphasise Western hypocrisy or corruption.” And, as both of the above-excerpted articles note, some UK MPs have called for RT (at least) to be shut down.

    (It seems possible the “platform [… for] anti-establisment figures who emphasise Western hypocrisy or corruption” is the angle under which Sputnik got an interview with poopyhead, In which I’m a wee bit negative about the atheist movement (May-2017).)

  44. says

    I would recommend this piece by Ben Wittes, despite numerous disagreements with its substance – “Behind James Comey’s ‘A Higher Loyalty’.”

    Here’s the argument with which I have the biggest problem:

    …I believed that Trump would fire Comey because it was clear who Trump is, and I knew who Comey is. I had a feeling they could not coexist. A tyranny cannot have independent law enforcement and remain an effective tyranny. A would-be tyrant thus must purge government of law enforcement that would be independent. He simply must get the law enforcement apparatus under his control—that is, protecting his friends and himself and arrayed against his enemies. I did not know who would be the Trump administration’s attorney general or deputy attorney general. But I knew that Trump would not be able to get law enforcement under his control with Comey in office—so I worried that he would remove Comey sooner or later. That this came to pass, and quickly, is not a reflection of my prescience. It is a reflection of what Comey, in his testimony to the Senate intelligence committee, called “the nature of the person.”

    This is the story line on which the public should focus—on which, indeed, focus is democratically imperative. This story line continues to this day in the president’s threats to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Special Counsel Bob Mueller, in the possibility of pardons for major witnesses, and in the vicious smears of career law enforcement officials and the sliming of the attorney general for the supposedly iniquitous crime of recusing himself from an investigation in which his conflicts were both manifest and manifold.

    Yet the public discussion of Comey, his book and his public presence does not manage to focus on this story line. And this is one of the great tragedies of the Clinton email investigation.

    My concern is that an inability to see whatever errors Comey made as the good-faith failings of a decent man trying his best under extraordinary circumstances affects the ability to process his interactions with Trump. Inevitably, your view of the Comey-Clinton story affects your ability to focus on the Comey-Trump story….

    I agree with him that the focus of the discussion has to change. The problem with what he’s saying here is that it’s not really about, and never has been about a Comey-Trump or Comey-Clinton story, but a Comey (now Sessions/Rosenstein/Mueller/DoJ/FBI)-Republican story. The “extraordinary circumstances” in which Comey made his difficult decisions and the extraordinary pressure he was under were almost entirely the creation of a group of Republicans* who, long before Trump came along, had already worked relentlessly to turn congressional committees and investigations and the justice system into weapons to use against Democrats and democracy and to further Republican power. McCarthy admitted on national television that they were cynically using the Benghazi “investigation” to damage Clinton politically. When they dragged Comey into congress after his July statement announcing the end of the Clinton email investigation (but bashing her), and he stated that no one had ever been prosecuted under those circumstances, one of them indignantly replied something like “Why couldn’t this be the first time?” Comey calmly replied that that would have been unjust, but it should have been plain to him in that moment, and during that hearing, that they cared nothing for the law, justice, truth, or fairness, and he should have remembered this in October.

    They’re still doing it, now in league with Trump and trying to advance the tyranny he wants. At the same time as Comey’s book is coming out, they’re joining Trump in defaming the institutions of law and their current and former leaders. They’re interfering in every way they can in ongoing criminal and counterintelligence investigations. They’re burying the FBI in document requests to try to sabotage its work, requiring Wray to double the number of staff working to fulfill them. They’re calling for a special counsel to investigate the DoJ and FBI. They’re referring political opponents, officials, and witnesses for criminal prosecution (see #7 above). They, Trump, and the party apparatus are slandering law enforcement and justice leaders. Refusing to conduct real investigations into actual wrongdoing, they’re leaking classified documents and writing bogus, mendacious reports to try to undermine the credibility of actual investigations. They’re calling on DoJ and FBI officials to resign or be fired. They’re pressuring them in private. They’ve destroyed the House Intelligence Committee, and Ryan has supported them.

    They’re not slowing down. The same intense pressure they put on Comey is being put on Wray, Rosenstein, Sessions, Mueller, and a number of judges involved in the current investigations. They’ve weaponized “appearance of unfairness/impropriety/bias” to use it against the lawful pursuit of facts and justice; and when people in any way cater to their demands for unusual actions to avoid this alleged appearance, they won’t hesitate to turn around and use it against them. Just this week, they’re trying to pressure judge Wood in the Cohen case to resort to extraordinary measures on this basis. The DoJ and FBI have stood up to a lot of it, but not enough. The most important thing is to appreciate that the problem exists and it’s only going to worsen when people allow or give in to it. As we’ve seen over and over, they’re going to claim unfairness, impropriety, and bias or the appearance of unfairness, impropriety, and bias regardless of the reality, because they’re partisans who are either deluded or cynically using these claims as a tool. They only care about getting their way, and in this case that means destroying an independent justice system and empowering a would-be autocrat and kleptocrat.

    That’s why the Comey-Clinton story is still important and not at all irrelevant to the Comey-Trump story.

    * This includes some in the FBI about whom Comey remains insufficiently concerned. He said in an interview that he had launched an investigation into the NY Field Office because of the leaks, but even into the spring of 2017 he was promoting a Dick Wolf docuseries about the NY Field Office. The leaks and possibly other anti-Clinton actions are part of the IG investigation at this point, but it has to be dealt with publicly.

  45. blf says

    AfD apparently stands for “Afraid of the Dance”, Berlin’s famous Berghain nightclub should lose licence, says AfD:

    German rightwing populist party says club’s continuous opening hours provoke drug use

    Berlin’s most famous nightclub, Berghain, should be stripped of its trading licence, according to a formal request submitted to a district office in the German capital on behalf of the rightwing populist party Alternative für Deutschland.

    The AfD request calls for Berghain’s opening hours to be limited to 10pm to 6am to align with “natural circadian rhythms”, and for sexual activity in the club’s “dark rooms” to be suppressed by use of “appropriate lighting and personnel”.

    Berghain is widely seen as Germany’s most famous techno club, regularly drawing dance music fans who visit the city with the sole purpose of getting past the strict door policy and spending a weekend inside the disused power station on the border of Berlin’s Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain districts.

    In 2016, Berlin’s fiscal court ruled that the nightclub should be taxed at a lower rate because it was providing high-culture entertainment comparable to a classical concert venue.

    […]

    Maximilian Schirmer, a Left party councillor who uploaded the formal request on Twitter, said: “The AfD wants to close down Berghain. Now they’ve blown it completely with the under-40s.”

  46. says

    Laurence Tribe: “I worry that Trump’s allies in Congress will trump up a contempt citation against Rosenstein (recall Holder!), or even a bill of impeachment against him, to give Trump an excuse to fire him:…”

    Robert Costa: “Professor Tribe’s take is widely shared by Democrats in Congress — and mostly privately by some Republicans who fear a crisis.”

    Greg Sargent – “Republicans are actively interfering in the Mueller probe to protect Trump”:

    One of the big political questions of the moment is this: Will GOP congressional leaders act to protect special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation against President Trump’s threats to hamstring or kill it?

    But in a way, this question, while important, doesn’t really get at the full story here, because its premise is that Republicans are mostly behaving passively toward the Mueller probe, clearing the way for Trump to act if he wishes. In reality, Republicans are, under cover of fake oversight, actively working to interfere in the investigation, on Trump’s behalf.

    Here’s the latest on this front: The Post reports that House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte is planning to issue a subpoena for release of the memos that former FBI director James B. Comey has made of his private conversations with Trump, which have been turned over to Mueller.

    The Justice Department is already signaling reluctance to release these memos….

    Does anyone really believe Republicans are motivated by nothing but pure oversight impulses here? There are two other reasons they might want these memos. The first is to deliberately provoke Rosenstein into declining to provide them all — which could create a pretext to hold Rosenstein in contempt of Congress or even for Trump to fire him.

    “The Deputy Attorney General should be aware that no matter what he gives to these members of Congress, it will never be enough,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told me this morning. “The point is to create a conflict with the Justice Department that would give the president grounds to get rid of Mueller or Rosenstein. They don’t care what damage they do to our institutions to protect the president.”…

    The second reason for getting these memos — and let’s not pretend this isn’t perfectly plausible — would be to selectively leak from them, to mislead the public by, say, creating phony impressions of misconduct on Comey’s part that could provide more fodder for Trump and his allies to delegitimize the investigation, possibly manufacturing further pretext to hamstring or kill it….

    Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney and law professor at the University of Michigan, told me that it could be “dangerous to interfere” in this manner with Mueller’s probe. If some info from the memos were to leak, she said, it could tip off other potential witnesses as to what Comey (himself a star witness) might have divulged to Mueller….

  47. blf says

    Man pictured with Michael Cohen group accused of racist threat in 1998:

    Black parking attendant alleged that Jerry Rotonda repeatedly used racial slurs and threatened to hit her for giving him a $20 ticket

    One of the men photographed smoking cigars around Donald Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen in New York last week was once accused of racially abusing and threatening to run over a black parking attendant.

    Jerry Rotonda, a Deutsche Bank executive, was charged with violating the civil rights of Shirlene Pierce after she placed a $20 ticket on his Audi for an expired meter in Boston in December 1998.

    Rotonda […] was pictured on the outskirts of a gathering Cohen held outside the Loews Regency hotel on Manhattan’s upper East side on Friday, while Cohen’s attorneys were in court trying to seal documents seized from him by the FBI.

    Pierce alleged to police that Rotonda […] used racial slurs, threatened to hit her, and concluded his rant by saying: I hope I see you crossing the street so I can run your [n-word] ass over, according to press reports from the court case.

    […]

    Pierce was reported to have said later in a victim impact statement: “What was even more frightening was that through his words, I could sense he was ready to harm me and that there would be no remorse on his part for doing so.”

    [… After some legal shenanigans resulted in the civil rights case being (mysteriously?) closed, eventually t]he Massachusetts attorney general’s office later obtained a civil injunction against Rotonda, after filing a civil rights lawsuit against him over the Pierce incident. The injunction prohibited him from threatening, intimidating, harassing or assaulting anyone based on their race.

    […]

    According to public records, Rotonda owns an apartment in the Trump World Tower in midtown Manhattan. Cohen and his wife, Laura, owned an apartment in the same building until October last year […]. Cohen’s in-laws own four apartments in the building.

    He recently started a new Manhattan real estate company with Rotem Rosen, an Israeli-American developer whose late father-in-law Tamir Sapir was involved in the development of the Trump Soho hotel in Manhattan.

    Rosen appeared to be one of the other men present outside the Loews Regency on Friday. […]

    As a reminder, hair furor is c.$300m in debt to Deutsche Bank, Trump’s long and winding history with Deutsche Bank could now be at the center of Robert Mueller’s investigation (Dec-2017). Jared Kushner also has loans from Deutsche Bank. The bank has also been caught-up in fraudulent trading activity involving, amonst others, Russia.

  48. says

    Re the Wittes article @ #70, I have a comment which is totally marginal: Both Wittes and Comey describe Comey going to the FBI cafeteria, and both make a point of noting that even as Director he didn’t cut in line. I mean, I should hope not. Is that how it goes in other workplaces – higher-ups can just cut in line? I’m offended by the very idea.

  49. birgerjohansson says

    Re S C @ 74
    When Edgar Hoover and some of his cronies walked into an elevator, the feds already
    inside were expected to leave.

  50. birgerjohansson says

    There is several hours since the last White House scandal, has I missed something when I was at work? The time zone is off.

  51. blf says

    has I missed something … The time zone is off

    I doubt hair furor or teh dalekocracy can actually alter the course of time, despite their sciences & histories being fantasies.

  52. blf says

    US: Georgia town of Newnan braces for neo-Nazi rally (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    The National Socialist Movement is one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the US.

    The small Georgia town of Newnan is bracing for neo-Nazi events this weekend, while local community members have organised a festival to oppose the far-right gatherings.

    The National Socialist Movement (NSM), described by the [SPLC] as one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the United States, will hold its annual national meeting in Newnan on Friday and Saturday.

    On Saturday, the far-right group will march through the town centre.

    Many local businesses plan to close during the march, while other community members will hold a festival dubbed “#NewnanStrong” on Friday […].

    The event will be launched on Friday, which is also the birthday of German Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

    […]

    [… T]he NSM described the annual meeting as a “historical event” and called on participants to show {their} pride, love for {their} race, {their} heritage and {the} country.

    […]

    Founded in 1996 and based in Detroit, Michigan, the NSM has been increasingly active in far-right rallies across the US, including the deadly rally in Charlottesville […]

    […]

    The NSM boasts chapters in dozens of US states, but the exact number of its members is unknown, according to Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s intelligence project.

    Despite the NSM’s attempts to rebrand itself in recent years, for example, shedding the swastika on much of its paraphernalia, Beirich insisted it is the same organisation it has always been.

    “It’s just old wine in new bottles,” she told Al Jazeera. “They’re still a flat out neo-Nazi group; it’s right there in the name.”

    […]

    According to the SPLC, the alt-right has influenced incidents in which 43 people were killed, and 67 were injured since 2014.

    The monitor has also noted that the number of hate groups grew in 2017 for a third consecutive year.

    From the SPLC, White supremacists plan rally as Georgia town gears up:

    […]
    The NSM chose to hold their rally at Greenville Street Park in Newnan due to the presence of several Confederate monuments in the city. […]

    The Georgia rally comes on the heels of the Detroit-based NSM and its leader, Jeff Schoep, signing a consent decree, agreeing not to return to Charlottesville as part of a group while armed with firearms, weapons, shields or other items which can inflict bodily harm.

    An attorney representing the NSM said the group is unlikely to return to Charlottesville for an August 12, 2018 gathering, the status of which remains unclear. Racist “alt-right” leader Jason Kessler applied for a permit to hold the 2018 rally at the city’s Emancipation Park last November but it was denied by Charlottesville officials, citing public safety concerns […]

    […]

    August 12, 2018 is the one-year anniversary of the disastrous events surrounding the 2017 Unite the Right rally, during which Heather Heyer [was killed …]

    By signing the consent decree last Friday, the NSM extracts itself from a lawsuit filed last October […] contending the heavily armed, camo-clad militia groups and their white supremacist allies endangered public safety. The neo-Confederate group League of the South reached a similar agreement with Charlottesville last March.

    Newnan is c.40 miles (c.60km) southwest of Atlanta.

  53. says

    “Smearing Robert Mueller: Sean Hannity and others are blaming the special counsel for one of the F.B.I.’s worst scandals. But there is no evidence to back up their charges.”:

    Was Robert Mueller, the special counsel, complicit in one of the worst scandals in the F.B.I.’s history — the decades-long wrongful imprisonment of four men for a murder they didn’t commit?

    This question, which has been raised before, is being addressed again — this time by some of President Trump’s most ardent supporters on the right, especially Fox News’s Sean Hannity but also Rush Limbaugh and others. My friend Alan Dershowitz, the retired Harvard Law School professor, has also weighed in.

    I was the federal judge who presided over a successful lawsuit brought against the government by two of those men and the families of the other two, who had died in prison. Based on the voluminous evidence submitted in the trial, and having written a 105-page decision awarding them $101.8 million, I can say without equivocation that Mr. Mueller, who worked in the United States attorney’s office in Boston from 1982 to 1988, including a brief stint as the acting head of the office, had no involvement in that case. He was never even mentioned.

    When Mr. Hannity and others say Mr. Mueller was responsible for the continued imprisonment of those four men, they are simply wrong — unless they have information that I, Ms. Balliro, the House investigators and the “Black Mass” authors did not and do not have. If they do, they should produce it. If they don’t, they should stop this campaign to discredit Mr. Mueller.

  54. blf says

    Video of Iran ‘morality police’ wrestling with woman sparks outrage:

    Female officer shown slapping woman and wrestling her to floor because her hijab was loose

    Shocking video footage of a young woman being wrestled to the floor by Iranian “morality police” because her hijab was loose has sparked outrage after it was posted online.

    The footage shows members of the special taskforce tackling the woman […] in Tehran. Under Iranian law, it is compulsory for women to cover themselves from head to toe in public, but many defy the boundaries by wearing loose hijab that shows their hair.

    The video shows two young friends, one wearing a maghnaeh (similar to a nun’s cowl) and the other wearing a loose headscarf that reveals part of her hair. The latter is verbally cautioned, before a female police officer slaps her in the face and wrestles her to the floor. The young woman is heard screaming repeatedly: “Let me go, let me go.”

    Within hours of the video going viral, Iran’s minister of interior, Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazil, ordered an inquiry, according to an official statement that called the incident “an unusual treatment of a woman at the hands of the morality police”.

    […]

    The footage shows one of the young women threatening the police with legal action, to which an officer can be heard responding: “You can’t do a damn shit.”

    […] The Guardian understands that the two women in the video were not out in public protesting, but celebrating a birthday.

    […]

    According to the information [a US-based Iranian activist behind a number of campaigns fighting the compulsory wearing of the hijab, Masih] Alinejad has received, the victim became so frail after being wrestled that the forces did not take her to the police station, but arrested a couple who had intervened on their behalf.

    […] Iran’s moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, has made clear that his administration is against enforcing the law so harshly, but his powers are limited when it comes to the conduct of the police, who are under the influence of the unelected faction of the Iranian establishment. […]

  55. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 56.

    I agree that this behind-closed-doors method of throwing women’s reproductive rights under the bus if enough to make one’s head explode. Team Trump also succeeded in making the USA look so stupid and unreasonable that the rest of the annual U.N. Commission on the Status of Women sided against the U.S.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] In case this isn’t obvious, in the Obama era, U.S. officials helped take the international lead at forums such as these. We’ve since taken a big step in a regressive direction, […]

    At a certain level, this isn’t entirely surprising. HHS’s Valerie Huber is a longtime abstinence advocate, and Trump put her in charge of deciding which domestic organizations receive federal family planning funds. She also helped lead the delegation to the U.N.’s meeting on women’s empowerment, where, as BuzzFeed put it, “nearly all of the other membership states – many of whom have wildly different stances and priorities on family planning issues – come together against the US.”

    Predictable or not, what we’re left with is a multifaceted fiasco. First, the Trump administration is further alienating the country’s ostensible allies. Second, Trump administration officials are apparently pushing antiquated and ineffective ideas on sexual health on the international stage as part of an ideological culture war – in ways that are likely to have adverse consequences for women around the world.

    And finally, I’d be remiss if I failed to note the irony lurking in the background. While the Trump administration pushes misguided ideas about abstinence, the head of the Trump administration faces a series of unfortunate controversies about adultery, adult-entertainment actresses, and hush-money payoffs. […]

  56. says

    “Dear Bashar al-Assad Apologists: Your Hero Is a War Criminal Even If He Didn’t Gas Syrians”:

    …Now, I totally understand why those of you on the MAGA-supporting, far-right who cheer for barrel bombs don’t give a damn about any of this. But to those of you on the antiwar far-left who have a soft spot for the dictator in Damascus, have you lost your minds? Or have you no shame?

    Is this atrocity denial really necessary? Is it the only way you know how to oppose rapacious U.S. foreign policy or Saudi-inspired extremism or Israeli opportunism? To absolve Assad of well-documented war crimes while smearing all humanitarian rescuers as “Al Qaeda” and all of the civilian victims of his bombs and bullets as “terrorists”? To cosy up to Iran and Russia in order to give the finger to the United States and Saudi Arabia? Is this not the “anti-imperialism of fools”?

    The truth is that Bashar al Assad is not an anti-imperialist of any kind or a secular bulwark against jihadism; he is is a mass murderer, plain and simple. In fact, the Syrian dictator long ago booked his place in the blood-stained pantheon of modern mass murderers, alongside the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Henry Kissinger and George W. Bush. I can think of few human beings alive today who have more blood on their hands than he has.

    So why defend him? Why indulge in conspiracy theories on his behalf? Why minimize his crimes and abuses? And isn’t it more than a little hypocritical of you to constantly call out the violence of the West or the Gulf states or the rebels, while ignoring or downplaying the violence of Assad?…

  57. says

    “Manafort Suspected of Serving as ‘Back Channel’ to Russia, DOJ Says”:

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s interest in former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort stemmed in part from his suspected role as a “back channel” between the campaign and Russians intent on meddling in the election, a Justice Department lawyer told a judge.

    The disclosure by U.S. prosecutors came Thursday during a hearing on whether Mueller exceeded his authority in indicting Manafort on charges of laundering millions of dollars while acting as an unregistered agent of the Ukrainian government. Manafort’s lawyers say those alleged crimes have nothing to do with Mueller’s central mission — to determine whether anyone in the Trump campaign had links to the Russian government.

    Defense attorney Kevin Downing argued anew to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington that even Mueller’s appointment order permitting him to probe “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation” wouldn’t cover the political consulting work that Manafort did in Ukraine for a decade.

    But Justice Department attorney Michael Dreeben said prosecutors were justified in investigating Manafort because he had served as Trump’s campaign chairman.

    “He had long-standing ties to Russia-backed politicians,” Dreeben told Jackson. “Did they provide back channels to Russia? Investigators will naturally look at those things.”

    Prosecutors hadn’t previously used such explicit language to describe their suspicions about Manafort….

  58. says

    President Obama commented on the strength of the survivors of the February shooting massacre at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida:

    […] Seared by memories of seeing their friends murdered at a place they believed to be safe, these young leaders don’t intimidate easily. They see the NRA and its allies—whether mealymouthed politicians or mendacious commentators peddling conspiracy theories—as mere shills for those who make money selling weapons of war to whoever can pay. They’re as comfortable speaking truth to power as they are dismissive of platitudes and punditry. And they live to mobilize their peers. […]

    Our kids now show us what we’ve told them America is all about, even if we haven’t always believed it ourselves: that our future isn’t written for us, but by us.
    […]

    http://time.com/collection/most-influential-people-2018/5217568/parkland-students/

  59. blf says

    Hadley Freeman snarks Michael Cohen in the Grauniad, Michael Cohen’s jacket: worthy of a shonky used-car salesman:

    […]
    As most of you are doubtless aware, Cohen is rather busy at the moment, as he is under federal investigation for — oh, where to begin: the alleged $130,000 (£91,600) payment to Stormy Daniels, because everyone knows lawyers make payments to porn stars all the time for no reason? Violations of campaign finance law? Bank fraud? Wire fraud? The choice, as Our Graham on Blind Date would say, is yours! Truly, who could have guessed that the US president having as his lawyer and spokesman a former personal injury lawyer who operated a taxi fleet in his spare time would work out so badly?

    And Cohen has been working with the Trumps for a long time. Doing what, it has never been entirely clear. He tried and failed to develop Trump golf courses in New Jersey and he tried and failed to build Trump towers in Kazakhstan. The man may not have Trump as a name, but he is a true Trump. He was even on the board of the Eric Trump Foundation (AKA, the Derek Zoolander School For Kids Who Can’t Read Good), which you might remember is nominally a children’s health charity. Alas, this foundation got into a bit of trouble last year when it emerged that some especially large beneficiaries of its largesse were the Donald J Trump Foundation and the Trump Organization, both of which are probably sick as hell, but perhaps not quite in the way donors to the Eric Trump Foundation envisaged as they handed over their dough.

    But never mind what a man does, it’s who he hangs out with that really reveals the measure of the guy. [… I]t also transpired this week that Fox News host Sean Hannity […] is also a client of Cohen’s. Hannity insisted he never retained {Cohen’s} services while simultaneously insisting in the same breath that he should have client-attorney privilege. Don’t think too hard about this — your already fragile brain might break.

    But the jacket, the jacket. Now, there has long been a theory that clothes allow people to disguise themselves, but actually the opposite is true: clothes reveal the real nature of a person. So just as […] Trump clearly spends a fortune on suits but always looks like something on the bottom of my shoe, so we see with Cohen. Sure, the man might have once spent $58m buying a New York apartment building, and sure, he owns fancy cars, but the jacket does not lie: he is nothing more than a shonky used-car salesman. […]

    There’s a photograph at the link (and another one at @73’s first link). Ms Freeman is being too kind (about the jacket (at least)): It’s hideous… all teh bestest peoples.

  60. says

    I had to go to the link to check – not that I didn’t trust you, Lynna, but because I couldn’t believe Obama actually wrote “They see the NRA and its allies—whether mealymouthed politicians or mendacious commentators peddling conspiracy theories—as mere shills for those who make money selling weapons of war to whoever can pay.”

    That’s some strong language from him.

  61. says

    Trump tweeted:

    Governor Jerry Brown announced he will deploy “up to 400 National Guard Troops” to do nothing. The crime rate in California is high enough, and the Federal Government will not be paying for Governor Brown’s charade. We need border security and action, not words!

    An excerpt of facts presented by Matt Yglesias:

    […] In reality, in 2016 (the most recent year for which data is available) the murder rate in California was 4.9 per 100,000 residents. Every murder is a tragedy, of course, but that’s lower than the national average of 5.3 per 100,000 despite California’s significantly larger-than-average immigrant population.

    Or perhaps I should say that California has a below-average murder rate likely because of its high foreign-born population since immigrants appear to commit crimes at a lower rate than the native-born population. Indeed, the three most murderous states in the country — Louisiana, Missouri, and Alabama — all have low foreign-born populations.

    Once again, Trump displayed his ignorance and his tendency to resort to bullying when the facts don’t match his fantasies.

    Governor Brown did not announce that California National Guard troops would “do nothing.”

    […] Brown said that the mission would focus on combating drug and gun crimes and human trafficking along the border, the California coast and within the state itself, as opposed to immigration enforcement.

    “The Governor’s order, issued today, specifies that the California National Guard will not enforce immigration laws or participate in the construction of any new border barrier,” Brown’s office said in a statement.[…]

    The Hill link

  62. blf says

    Trump’s EPA argues more people will die in car accidents unless California fuel rules are weakened:

    The Trump administration is embracing a curious — and some would say dated — argument as it builds its case to weaken federal rules championed by California that require cars and SUVs to average 55 miles per gallon by 2025.

    It is warning that the fuel-efficiency targets, seen by most as key to meeting climate and air quality goals in California and nationwide, could actually end up killing people.

    Taking a cue from auto dealers and free-market thinktanks [sic] skeptical of mainstream global-warming science, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is tossing aside reams of federal and California data showing the fuel economy standards are perfectly safe. Instead, Pruitt’s directive this month to potentially scale back the fuel standard says an important factor is the need to reexamine safety issues.

    The agency is preparing to make the case that tough fuel economy rules could effectively force automakers to sell smaller, lighter and thus less crash-worthy vehicles. That, in turn, would lead to more crash-related deaths. And it warns the rules could drive up the cost of cars to the point that consumers will put off buying new, safer models equipped with life-saving technology improvements.

    It’s a decades-old debate, and one the administration is not particularly well positioned to win. But it is scrambling for leverage in an intensifying confrontation with California, which has considerable power to derail the administration’s plan to give automakers a break.

    […]

    “The idea that we’re going to roll back the auto standards is absurd,” Gov Jerry Brown told reporters in Washington on Tuesday. “It’s not going to happen, and the attempts to do this are going to be bogged down in litigation long after we have a new president.”

    The defiance has moved the administration to send threatening signals to the state. Pruitt is making clear he may try to revoke the state’s decades-old authority to set its own rules, an unprecedented move. Pruitt would have to persuade the courts that he has compelling reasons.

    One of them — he hopes — would be that California’s crusade for aggressive mileage targets carries a death toll.

    It is an argument long advanced by Pruitt’s allies at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a group funded by the network of donors led by industrialists Charles and David Koch. The institute and other Koch-funded groups recently sent Pruitt a letter, pushing him to revoke the waiver allowing California to set its own rules. They accused the state of pursuing a radical national agenda against gas-powered vehicles.

    […]

    The standards require that every car become more fuel-efficient. But they do not dictate which cars hit showroom floors. Automakers can continue their trend of selling more SUVs under the rules.

    [Recently retired President of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Adrian] Lund said meeting the targets safely merely requires automakers to focus more of their technology development on fuel savings. Instead, he said, automakers are putting too much emphasis on boosting car and SUV horsepower to levels drivers don’t need. “Frankly, I don’t think people would miss that power,” he said.

    The theory that fuel economy rules lead to more deaths gained currency 30 years ago, when researcher John Graham co-wrote a landmark study that found the standards were pushing drivers into less-safe cars. The regulations have evolved since then, Graham said in an email, in large part because of changes he pushed while serving as regulatory czar for George W Bush that require automakers to make all their vehicles lighter and more fuel-efficient.

    California’s push to keep the Obama-era rules in place is backed by extensive safety modeling. […]

    The Trump administration knows such testing results — and similar testing done by the federal government — undermine its argument that the fuel economy standards are unsafe. So it is also arguing the lightweight materials drive up the cost of vehicles so much that many consumers won’t be able to afford new cars and SUVs equipped with technologies designed to keep drivers alive, such as automatic breaking systems and blind-spot monitoring.

    […]

    It’s [Pruitt et al.’s] a challenging case to make. By 2025, the targets would raise the average cost of a vehicle by less than $900. But that cost increase is eclipsed by savings that drivers would enjoy at the pump from more efficient vehicles.

    […]

    [Director of the Safe Climate Campaign of the Center for Auto Safety, Dan] Becker points out that sales of new cars keep growing — suggesting fuel economy targets are not really keeping drivers from buying newer, safer cars.

    “If these standards are so terrible,” he said, “why are these companies selling record numbers of cars and making record profits?”

  63. blf says

    Follow-up to @90 — this dates from before that latest hair furor twittering — Gov Jerry Brown says Trump administration will fund his National Guard mission — without immigration duties:

    […]
    The governor announced that federal officials have agreed to fund the plan he announced last week — a mission to “combat criminal gangs, human traffickers and illegal firearm and drug smugglers” in locations around California, including near the border. The order Brown signed makes clear that the troops will not be allowed to perform a broader set of duties as envisioned by Trump’s recent comments.

    […]

    The cost of the mission, a spokesman for Brown said, will be paid directly by the federal government. No initial estimate has been made, as the exact amount will depend on exactly how the troops will be used.

    Though the duties of California Guard members were outlined last week, the state had been waiting for an agreement by federal officials to pay for the operations. Since that time, the president has taken Brown and the state to task over its decision to avoid any immigration-related duties at the border. […]

    […]

    On Tuesday, Brown told reporters in Washington that his plan was consistent with a safer border. “That sounds to me like fighting crime,” the governor said. “Trying to catch some desperate mothers and children, or unaccompanied minors coming from Central America, that sounds like something else.”

    […]

  64. says

    All the best people.

    Next week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on the nomination of Michael Truncale, whom Donald Trump selected to sit on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. […] Truncale built his career opposing progressive policies, including the Affordable Care Act, gun control, and abortion access. He also appears to have referred to undocumented immigrants as “maggots.”

    Truncale made this comment in 2012, when running for Congress in Texas’ 14th Congressional District, [he lost].

    […] as a result of the nature of that border we have all sort of bad influences coming in. We have drugs, we have illegal gangs, there is the possibility of bombs from a host of other countries and people from overseas and we must secure that border. I think we should do it with boots on the ground. […]

    Truncale then added that “with regard to immigration, we must not continue to have the maggots coming in. […]

    Judges may hold strong feelings about border security. But Truncale’s decision to publicly malign unauthorized immigrants raises doubts about his ability to separate personal prejudices from his professional duties.

    In that respect, Truncale resembles Jeff Mateer, Trump’s previous nominee to the Eastern District of Texas. Mateer notoriously called transgender children part of “Satan’s plan.” (The White House eventually withdrew his nomination.)

    […] Democrats and some Republicans have lost their patience with openly biased nominees.

    Link

  65. says

    “National Enquirer Parent, Staunch Trump Backer, Faces Mounting Debt, Shrinking Sales”:

    The National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., has said the tabloid’s plentiful and positive coverage of President Donald Trump has been good for business.

    If so, it hasn’t been enough to boost the company’s overall performance.

    Nonpublic AMI financial reports reviewed by The Wall Street Journal reveal a company weighed down by ballooning debt, falling revenue and shrinking newsstand sales at its print magazines, including the flagship Enquirer as well as OK! and Star.

    Revenue for the fiscal year that ended in March 2017 was $203.8 million, down 9% from the prior year and 29% from 2014, when the company completed a substantial restructuring, and its debt load was $920 million….

    Mr. Pecker, a longtime friend of Mr. Trump, threw the full weight of his supermarket tabloid behind the president, especially during the 2016 election and its aftermath. Nearly a third of National Enquirer’s 122 covers since the beginning of 2016 have featured Mr. Trump or an attack on one of his opponents, with headlines like “Trump Must Build the Wall!”

    The company says its market research shows that readers want those stories and those covers have boosted sales. But Enquirer editions with Mr. Trump on the cover have sold roughly on par with those featuring celebrities during 2016 and 2017, while covers attacking Democratic rival Hillary Clinton were especially hot sellers, according to circulation data that AMI provides to the Alliance for Audited Media.

    “Our coverage of President Trump is and always has been a business decision—one in keeping with how the Enquirer has conducted business since the 1970s,” [EIC Dylan Howard] said.

    In 2016 and 2017, Mr. Pecker explored acquiring Time Inc. or some of its properties, hoping to boost AMI’s online business and capitalize on its brand to expand in podcasting, television production and events, people familiar with the matter said….

    To finance the potential deals, Mr. Pecker has engaged in talks with financiers in Saudi Arabia on and off, although no deal was reached, people familiar with the matter said. In one instance, Mr. Pecker invited a Saudi-connected businessman to an Oval Office tour in July 2017 along with the Enquirer’s editor in chief, Dylan Howard, in which they met with the president.

    A White House official said that Mr. Trump recalled the Oval Office meeting with Mr. Pecker and others and that he called the AMI CEO a “great guy.”

    The company confirmed the contacts, but said the only deal that has ever been discussed with Saudi investors is the expansion of the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition, which AMI owns, into the Middle East and North Africa.

    Oh, sure.

  66. says

    In Trump’s addled brain, the Atlantic slave trade never happened:

    We can’t emphasize enough: not only drugs. The drugs are a big factor, but you look at, human trafficking is worse than it’s ever been in the history of this world. And who would think in this modern-day age?

    Human trafficking is a significant and terrible problem, but Trump is a fool if he thinks that it as bad as it was during the time of Frederick Douglass (about whom Trump already displayed astonishing ignorance); prior to the run-up to the Civil War; etc.

  67. says

    Joyce Vance on #91 above: “This doesn’t mean McCabe will be prosecuted, but rather that the US Atty in DC will review the file & determine if there is a prosecutable case. The IG is acting like any other investigative agency, referring a case & it would have been a surprise if this wasn’t sent over.”

  68. says

    Matthew Miller on #96 above: “This cave by DOJ will have long-lasting ramifications. This is an area governed solely by precedent, and DOJ is setting precedent that it is ok for Congress to interfere with, and receive documents pertaining to, active investigations.”

  69. blf says

    In the UK, MPs to question HMRC [UK’s “IRS”] on refusal to aid French inquiry into top Tory donor:

    Tax authority’s decision over mobile firm Lycamobile called ‘completely inappropriate’

    MPs are to investigate an HM Revenue and Customs decision to turn down a French request for help with a criminal inquiry into a major Conservative party donor.

    The Treasury select committee and the public accounts committee want to explore why tax officials rejected a request from the French authorities to help with an inquiry involving the mobile network operator Lycamobile.

    It follows the disclosure on Thursday that the tax authority had sent correspondence to its French counterparts which pointed out that the telecoms company was the “biggest corporate donor to the Conservative party”.

    […]

    In March 2017, French officials asked HMRC to assist with investigations in the UK, but the request was refused.

    The parliamentary investigations have been launched after correspondence between British and French tax officials was leaked to the news website BuzzFeed.

    […]

    HMRC, Lycamobile, the UK “government” and teh nasty party are all in spin furiously faster & faster dizzying denial mode at the moment. The embedded link to BuzzFeed’s report is part five (of a five-part) investigation. Some excerpts from that fifth (last) part, The UK Refused To Raid A Company Suspected Of Money Laundering, Citing Its Tory Donations:

    […]
    French prosecutors launched a major probe into the firm and arrested 19 people accused of using its accounts to launder money from organised criminal networks two years ago, after BuzzFeed News revealed its suspicious financial activities in the UK. But the Conservatives continued taking Lycamobile’s money […]

    [… T]he French investigation has continued to gather steam. Lycamobile has been ordered to pay €20 million bail after its two French companies were formally charged with money laundering in a Paris court in November and January.

    […]

    The revelation that the government refused to assist a criminal investigation into a major political donor has raised serious questions about Conservative pledges to crack down on money laundering and financial corruption in London and brought the party’s relationship with the troubled telecoms giant under renewed scrutiny.

    Prime minister Theresa May has vowed to act vigorously against those suspected of money laundering to safeguard the integrity of Britain’s financial economy. Yet after BuzzFeed News revealed that Lycamobile was depositing rucksacks stuffed with hundreds of thousands of pounds of cash at Post Offices all around London — practices experts said should raise red flags with anti-money-laundering and tax authorities — the government has taken no criminal action against the company, even after the French launched their money laundering probe. Meanwhile, the Conservative party has accepted a total of £2.2 million from Lycamobile — including more than £800,000 after BuzzFeed News first exposed the company’s suspicious business practices.

    […]

    Links to the first four parts at the fifth part’s link.

  70. Owlmirror says

    Looking through the archives, I found a sadly accurate prediction by PZ from five years ago:

    Amazing, isn’t it? Torture! Denial of Due Process! Watch My Show!

    And this man thought he should be president. I never thought I’d see someone hunting for that office who was dumber and more evil than George W. Bush, and there he is…which probably means he’ll get elected sometime in my lifetime, given my track record on these things.

  71. blf says

    Durham first US city to ban police training with Israeli military:

    Local council adopts step against exchange with Israeli military practices synonymous with the occupation of Palestine.

    A coalition of community organisations in the city of Durham in the US state of North Carolina has successfully lobbied the city council to ban training and exchanges between Durham’s police department and the Israeli military.

    […]

    The resolution read: “The council opposes international exchanges with any country in which Durham officers receive military-style training since such exchanges do not support the kind of policing we want here in the City of Durham.”

    […]

    “We know that racial profiling and its subsequent harms to communities of color have plagued policing in our nation and in our own community,” the statement [resolution?] said.

    […]

    Demilitarize from Durham2Palestine, which spearheaded the campaign is a broad multi-religious and multi-racial coalition of groups from the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Arab and African American communities.

    […]

    Activists argue that US agencies training with Israeli military and security agencies could only bring militarisation of the US police whose mission is rather a civilian mission and community policing not population control.

    [… T]hey argue that training of US police with Israeli military invites violations of civil rights, police brutality and murder of innocent citizens.

    […]

    Alex Vitale, who teaches at the department of sociology at Brooklyn College […], told Al Jazeera that the problem of militarisation of US policing goes as far as the 1970s with the war on drugs and later war on terror.

    “Police militarisation is not a new problem in the US,” he said.

    “But Israel has created a dynamic to normalise counterinsurgency tactics with the US law enforcement community in order to win political favours and create political space for its agendas in the US.”

    […]

    The Anti-Defamation League, ADL, […] has sponsored many of the US law-enforcement agencies leaders’ visits to Israel to learn lessons from the Israeli police, military and intelligence experiences.

    According to its website, the ADL has trained more than 15,000 law-enforcement professionals on terrorism and extremism in cities like New York City, Washington DC, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Seattle, St Louis, Atlanta and Chicago.

    It also says that more than 200 high-ranking American law enforcement officials have visited Israel to participate in counterterrorism seminars.

    Vitale said the ADL exchange and training programme in Israel shows it is more of a “political project that helps Israeli agendas in the US as opposed to being a technical program designed to share developments in community policing”.

    The Jewish Voice for Peace warns on its national website of the “dangerous exchange” between the US law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) and border patrol with Israeli soldiers, intelligence and border agents.

    Israel is one of the few countries in the world whose police and military are deeply intertwined.

    […]

    Israel’s main selling point for imparting police-training lessons is rooted in its 50-year military rule and occupation of Palestinian territories, where its armed forces and militarised police regularly abuse the rights of Palestinians and keep them under military control.

    New York City’s notorious Muslim Surveillance Program, which religiously profiled and spied on Muslim Americans in New York City since 2002, was a product of exchange programmes with Israel.

    The programme used abusive tactics drawn from Israel’s treatment of Palestinians such as infiltrations, using informants, electronic surveillance and mapping and compiling of massive databases of personal information as a counterinsurgency strategy.

    A lawsuit about the illegal NYPD spy-on-Muslims-because-they-are-Muslim program was recently settled, NYPD settles lawsuit after illegally spying on Muslims:

    […]
    The agreement resolved a 2012 suit in Newark, New Jersey, after the Associated Press revealed how the NYPD infiltrated Muslim student groups and put informants in mosques to try to prevent terrorist attacks.

    The AP reported that the effort crossed into New Jersey, where the department collected intelligence on ordinary people at mosques, restaurants and schools starting in 2002. The surveillance extended across at least 20 mosques, 14 restaurants, 11 shops, two schools and two Muslim student groups in New Jersey alone.

    By the NYPD’s own admission the blanket surveillance failed to produce a single intelligence lead.

    […]

    [Legal director of Center for Constitutional Rights, Baher] Azmy said that the settlement had to be seen in the context of the anti-Muslim messages emanating from the White House. He said the lawsuit was concluded in the “age of Trump when full-throated racism and xenophobia is part of White House policy. We hope the decision sends a strong signal that profiling of the sort that consumes this White House is unconstitutional, and there are communities that will mobilise and exert their growing power to challenge those activities and prevail.”

    The named plaintiff in the case, Farhaj Hassan, a US army sergeant from Helmetta, New Jersey, said that joining the lawsuit had been an effort “to speak out in defence of the constitution and to resist any activity, even from law enforcement, that would attempt to destroy or curtail the values it stands for. When I found out about the NYPD’s illegal surveillance of my mosque, my community, little girls going to Sunday school, it hit me that officers from the most powerful police force in the country were targetting Muslims in my back yard, my home.”

  72. says

    Comey told Tapper that he personally isn’t bothered by congress getting his memos, paying attention only to their content and completely ignoring the issues raised in #s 96 and 99 above.

  73. says

    Comey told Tapper that he personally isn’t bothered by congress getting his memos, paying attention only to their content and completely ignoring the issues raised in #s 96 and 99 above.

    …and #70 above, which is the central issue.

  74. says

    So far Tapper’s speaking largely in defense of Trump. Not that any Republicans or Trump followers will thank him for it. (I’m not suggesting that’s why he’s doing it.)

  75. blf says

    Here in France, the third most important thing is food. After, ah, food. And food. And food. So in the most recent edition of food, French MPs force vegetarian food producers to mince their words:

    Manufacturers of ‘vegetarian sausages’ and similar will no longer be able to call them sausages after new ruling

    French MPs have voted to ban producers of vegetarian meat substitutes from using words such as “steak”, “bacon” or “sausage” to describe their products. Under the measure, approved on Thursday, food producers will no longer have the right to use steak, fillet, bacon, sausage or any other meaty term to describe products that are not partly or wholly composed of meat.

    The measure was proposed by MP Jean-Baptiste Moreau, who argued that products such as soya steaks, vegan sausages and other vegetarian alternatives were “misleading” for consumers. Moreau based his argument on a 2017 judgment by the European Court of Justice, which ruled that soya and tofu products could not be marketed as milk or butter.

    […]

    Whilst I tend to agree with the milk & butter ruling — that does seem too deceptive — I’m not too sure I agree with this recent measure: Perhaps because, to-date, the vegetarian sausages &tc I’ve seen don’t seem to be making any attempt to deceive.

  76. blf says

    Somewhat related to @69, Russia spread fake news via Twitter bots after Salisbury poisoning:

    […]
    Russia used trolls and bots to unleash disinformation on to social media in the wake of the Salisbury poisoning […]. Government [UK] sources said experts had uncovered an increase of up to 4,000% in the spread of propaganda from Russia-based accounts since the attack — many of which were identifiable as automated bots.

    […]

    But civil servants identified a sharp increase in the flow of fake news after the Salisbury poisoning, which continued in the runup to the airstrikes on Syria.

    One bot, @Ian56789, was sending 100 posts a day during a 12-day period from 7 April, and reached 23 million users, before the account was suspended. It focused on claims that the chemical weapons attack on Douma had been falsified, using the hashtag #falseflag. Another, @Partisangirl, reached 61 million users with 2,300 posts over the same 12-day period.

    […]

  77. says

    Re #98 above, other experts are suggesting that this is actually unusual. Knowledgeable people all seem to think the IG is above reproach, but as Ari Melber just pointed out McCabe’s firing was highly unusual. McCabe’s lawyer said he’d never seen anything like it, and he’s the former IG. So it’s unclear how much people can depend on the IG’s independence.

    Of course, Comey thinks what’s happening with McCabe is all good and an example of accountability and the system working and nothing more. I’m flummoxed by how an FBI director can be so ignorant.

  78. says

    Ari Melber: “Trump lawyer Jay Goldberg says White House Counsel Ty Cobb revealed to him that Mueller agreed not to have Andrew Weissmann involved in any investigation of the President.”

    The Right’s obsession with Weissmann is extremely creepy.

  79. says

    “Seeking Foreign Money, G.O.P. Donor Pushed for Trump to Golf With Malaysian Premier”:

    White House aides were worried enough about a visit last year by Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, under investigation by American prosecutors who say he embezzled $3.5 billion from a state investment fund, that he was denied the customary photo in the Oval Office with President Trump.

    But that did not stop a top Republican fund-raiser, Elliott Broidy, from seeking to use his White House ties to press for Mr. Trump to play a golf game with Mr. Najib, who had the authority over negotiations for a lucrative Malaysian contract with Mr. Broidy’s private defense company, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.

    In addition to providing new details about Mr. Broidy’s attempts to exploit his White House connections for personal gain, the documents also raise questions about whether Trump administration officials were aware of his efforts.

    Mr. Broidy also explored separate plans to force the exit from the United States of a Chinese billionaire and dissident, Guo Wengui, evidently to please Chinese allies in Malaysia while reaping payoffs from both the Chinese and, improbably, the United Arab Emirates. Mr. Broidy proposed working with George Nader, an adviser to the Emiratis who is cooperating in the special counsel investigation.

    Mr. Broidy and Mr. Nader met around the inauguration and worked to sway the Trump administration on behalf the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia at a time when Mr. Broidy was seeking contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars from the two countries.

    One person close to Mr. Broidy said he was interested in the [Guo] case because of his friendship with Steve Wynn, another top Republican fund-raiser. Mr. Wynn, a casino mogul who himself recently resigned as a Republican finance chairman after a sex scandal, had large business interests in China and also sought to persuade the United States to expel Mr. Guo.

    Mr. Broidy drafted another memorandum, dated May 21, 2017, to Mr. Sessions. In it, Mr. Broidy wrote that “while conducting business in Malaysia” he had learned of “a potential opportunity for the U.S. and China to increase their law enforcement cooperation.”

    A delegation from China was on its way to Washington four days later, Mr. Broidy wrote, and “the one request China will make” is the extradition of Mr. Guo, “who China alleges has conspired with others who have been arrested and charged with violations of numerous criminal laws of China.”

    A person close to Mr. Broidy said he never sent that memorandum, and a Justice Department spokeswoman said Mr. Sessions never received it.* But as late as the end of 2017 Mr. Broidy was evidently seeking to encourage Mr. Guo’s expulsion, in part by generating negative publicity about him. “Slam him,” Mr. Broidy wrote in October to an associate seeking to promote negative articles about Mr. Guo.

    The article leaves out two things: First, the possible Russia connection via Nader. Second, that Trump in fact moved to have Guo extradited to China and had to be talked out of it by reminding him that Guo is a Mar-a-Lago member.

    * If this was Sarah Isgur Flores the claim is worthless.

  80. says

    *sigh*

    This part is quite right:

    Comey says his wife asked him why he told @jaketapper he didn’t dislike Trump.

    Comey says he actually feels sorry for Trump because “he has an emptiness inside of him and a need for affirmation I’ve never seen in an adult.”

    Right, that’s a reason to pity him, not to like him.

  81. says

    LOL. Best part is that the leak came just prior to Maddow.

    (Ha! She just went to commercial, and just before the audio caught her starting to ask him “I’m a little curious, in the memo…?” as he leans in to look at it.)

  82. says

    (Seriously, though, I believe Putin made a public statement along those lines after the Steele memos were published, which could easily have morphed in Trump’s mind into something Putin told him personally.)

  83. blf says

    Congo’s award-winning digital activists speak out on life in crisis-stricken DRC:

    Index on Censorship honours a collective that bears witness to young people’s experiences in a land plagued by violence, corruption and poverty
    […]
    Information has become as factionalised as politics, an echo chamber of competing narratives. Into that vacuum, however, a group of young Congolese bloggers has attempted to inject an alternative voice.

    Launched in 2016, Habari RDC is a collective of more than 100 Congolese bloggers and web activists, who use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to give voice to the opinions of young people from all over the DRC.

    The collective won the Index on Censorship’s digital activism award at a ceremony in London on Thursday.

    The aim of these citizen bloggers is to bear witness to what is happening in every corner of the country, which is plagued by extreme poverty, corruption and violence.

    It is a bold and ambitious project in a country where, as Reporters without Borders notes: “Freedom of information is constantly violated and journalists are exposed to threats, physical violence, arrest, prolonged detention and even murder.”

    […]

    In London last week to receive the award, Guy Muyembe, one of Habari’s founders, said: “We decided about two years ago that Congo needed another voice. It was important to us because our media tends to report only about the main Congolese leaders. The one voice you never hear is the voice of our country’s young people … what their experience is.”

    And in a country whose population is overwhelmingly young — with some 64% of its citizens under 24 and 42.2% under 14 — it is a crucial point.

    Habari RDC, as Muyembe explains, has emerged at a key juncture in DRC’s fraught politics. Hopes of a new era of political stability under Joseph Kabila is under threat amid Kabila’s unwillingness to stand down after he completes two terms as president.

    Instead, despite the St Sylvestre agreement of 2016 — which had foreseen Kabila’s departure and elections in 2017 — Kabila stayed in power amid a deteriorating environment for human rights and freedom of expression.

    That has coincided with a worsening humanitarian and security crisis that has seen tens of thousands of refugees flee into Uganda, Angola, Tanzania and Zambia in recent months to escape violence.

    Last week, the country’s leadership decided to boycott a humanitarian donor conference, after arguing there was no urgent need in DRC.

    […]

    Muyembe insists that Habari RDC is about more than the crisis. It also helps individuals — for instance, raising the plight of a woman who had been raped and was rejected by her family. It has reported on the suppression of the internet; and the use of road taxes to arm militias.

    “The point of the the site is to talk about life in DRC,” he says. To that end, the site posts stories and cartoons about the country’s politics, but it also covers football, the arts and subjects such as domestic violence, child exploitation, the female orgasm, and sexual harassment at work.

    Habari’s impact has already gone beyond its vibrant commentary to effecting genuine change. One of its recent achievements was encouraging voter registration in Walikale Territory where, in the past, not only has engagement been low but people have disappeared from the register.

    An article about registration resulted in a voter enrolment campaign that saw 290,000 people signed up to vote, including 140,000 women.

    […]

  84. blf says

    World Bank recommends fewer regulations protecting workers (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Unions alarmed by suggestion that deep structural reforms are required to adjust to changing nature of work

    The World Bank is proposing lower minimum wages and greater hiring and firing powers for employers as part of a wide-ranging deregulation of labour markets deemed necessary to prepare countries for the changing nature of work.

    A working draft of the bank’s flagship World Development Report — which will urge policy action from governments when it comes out in the autumn — says less burdensome regulations are needed so that firms can hire workers at lower cost. The controversial recommendations, which are aimed mainly at developing countries, have alarmed groups representing labour, which say they have so far been frozen out of the Bank’s consultation process.

    Peter Bakvis, Washington representative for the International Trade Union Confederation, said the proposals were harmful, retrograde and out of synch with the shared-prosperity agenda put forward by the bank’s president Jim Yong Kim.

    He added that the WDR’s vision of the future world of work would see firms relieved of the burden of contributing to social security, have the flexibility to pay wages as low as they wanted, and to fire at will. Unions would have a diminished role in new arrangements for expanding workers’ voices.

    The paper “almost completely ignores workers’ rights, asymmetric power in the labour market and phenomena such as declining labour share in national income,” Bakvis said.

    The International Labour Organisation has also expressed alarm at the proposals, which include the right for employers to opt out of paying minimum wages if they introduce profit-sharing schemes for their workers.

    […]

    Five years ago, the World Bank’s 2013 World Development Report concluded that labour regulations had little or no impact on employment levels, but the draft for the 2019 WDR says that if workers are expensive to dismiss, fewer will be hired. Burdensome regulations also make it more expensive for firms to rearrange their workforce to accommodate changing technologies.

    That’s one of the frustrating things about the World Bank. Despite a well-deserved reputation for retrograde loonytarianism, they do, sometimes, show signs of thoughtful analysis and even sensible suggestions.

    […]
    The paper says that labour regulations protect the few who hold formal jobs while leaving out most workers and the sort of social protection schemes that began with the German chancellor Otto von Bismarck in the late 19th century were not appropriate because they covered only a third of developing country populations.

    Bakvis said the draft did not “examine options for incentivising the formalisation of work, despite the considerable efforts the ILO has made toward that goal and the real progress that has taken place in some developing countries to deliver the benefits of formalisation: legal protection of workers’ rights, including their right to safe workplaces, and access to social security.

    “Instead, the WDR takes informality as an inevitable state and, worse, implies that it should even be promoted. Nor does it examine how the undermining of labour market institutions through deliberate corporate strategies such as outsourcing and disguised working relations {for example, classifying Uber drivers as independent contractors} can be countered by providing legal protections for these categories of workers.”

    […]

  85. blf says

    Follow-up to a several weeks ago, a brilliant essay by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on the NFL protecting the States against witches: Can’t wait for the Handmaid’s Tale to return? Tune in to the NFL cheerleading scandal:

    Bailey Davis was fired for failing to comply with NFL regulations: she posted a photo of herself wearing a one-piece bodysuit and hanging around with a football team member

    Good news for fans of dystopian fiction: season two of the Handmaid’s Tale will premiere next week. I’ve got some even better news, though! You don’t actually have to wait that long in order to immerse yourself in an archaic society where every tiny aspect of a woman’s existence is controlled by men. You can just read about the NFL’s latest cheerleader controversy instead.

    It starts with a woman called Bailey Davis. In January, Davis was fired from the Saintsations, the all-female cheerleader squad for the New Orleans Saints, for failing to comply with NFL rules and regulations. She was accused of doing two absolutely dreadful things. Her first crime was posting a photo of herself wearing a lacy one-piece bodysuit on her private Instagram account. This violated the NFL’s rules about lingerie photography, which is strictly forbidden. Oh, unless you’re a male player, of course, in which case you can post as many photos of yourself in your underpants as you want.

    Davis’s second crime was that she was believed to have been hanging around with a member of the football team. This is strictly prohibited by the team’s anti-fraternization rules. Saintsations must ensure they keep contact with the football players to a minimum. They must block them on social media, for example, and avoid them in real life. If a cheerleader is at a bar or restaurant and a football player walks in then the woman has to leave immediately, or risk lose her job. Men, meanwhile, are subject to no such rules.

    This makes sense, of course. Can you imagine if a cheerleader and a football player were in a restaurant at the same time? Clearly the man wouldn’t be able to help himself from making lusty advances on the woman. We all know that men are basically incapable of controlling their behaviour, poor things. As the Saintsations’s coach, Ashley Deaton, told the cheerleaders, all these rules were simply an effort to protect you from player advances and activity. Davis, however, doesn’t quite seem to understand that these archaic and one-sided rules were simply meant to protect her; she has filed a civil rights complaint.

    It’s not clear how many cheerleader squads are subject to similar rules, but it appears to be a widespread issue. According to the New York Times, which reviewed a number of cheerleader handbooks this month, anachronistic rules are rife. There are restrictions governing everything from how the cheerleaders conduct themselves in their private lives to, apparently, the proper use of tampons. Sadly, no more detail was provided on this particular rule; one can only speculate as to what the improper use of a tampon may be.

    […]

    The current Sainsations controversy is about more than cheerleaders; it is yet another reminder that the NFL is an archaic institution that doesn’t care about women. In recent years it has drafted a number of players who have been accused of sexual assault and domestic violence, for example. But, hey, who cares if football players rape women or knock them unconscious; as long as they can throw a ball and don’t kneel during the national anthem that’s all that matters!

    It’s not just women, either. The NFL’s reactions to the kneeling protests and the treatment of Colin Kaepernick demonstrate that the NFL doesn’t much care about black people being killed because of racist policing. Nor, as the Washington Redskins have made clear, does it much care about the feelings of Native Americans.

    The NFL also doesn’t seem to have worried itself very much about the fact that its players are suffering devastating concussions; it wasn’t until 2016 that the league finally acknowledged a link between football and the degenerative brain disease CTE. Nor is it clear that the NFL is making meaningful attempts to prevent concussions; in 2017 NFL concussions rose 16%.

    […]

    Some excerpts from the New York Times article, No Sweatpants in Public: Inside the Rule Books for N.F.L. Cheerleaders (link embedded in above excerpt):

    Cheerleaders for the Carolina Panthers, known as the TopCats, must arrive at the stadium on game days at least five hours before kickoff. Body piercings and tattoos must be removed or covered. Water breaks can be taken only when the Panthers are on offense. TopCats must leave the stadium to change into their personal attire.

    Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders were subject to regular weigh-ins and are expected to maintain ideal body weight, according to a handbook from 2009. The Cincinnati Ben-Gals were even more precise in recent years: Cheerleaders had to be within three pounds of their ideal weight.

    Some cheerleaders must pay hundreds of dollars for their uniforms, yet are paid little more than minimum wage. Cheerleaders must sell raffle tickets and calendars and appear at charity events and golf tournaments, yet they receive none of the proceeds. Cheerleader handbooks, seven of which have been reviewed by The New York Times, include personal hygiene tips, like shaving techniques and the proper use of tampons. In some cases, wearing sweatpants in public is forbidden.

    […]

    Across the NFL, teams even try to place extensive controls on how cheerleaders conduct their lives outside work. This includes limiting their social media activity as well as the people they choose to date and socialize with. Restrictions are placed on their nail polish and jewelry.

    […]

    Unlike NFL players, who are unionized and generally free to promote themselves in any way they choose, cheerleaders are part-time workers with few benefits. A few teams, including the Chicago Bears, the Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers, do not employ cheerleaders. Most of the more than two dozen other teams with cheerleaders outline the rules and restrictions in the cheerleaders’ contracts and handbooks.

    Other rules are applied as a specific reaction to an ever-changing social environment. Cheerleaders who complain about the conditions are told that they can easily be replaced. The threats are not empty. In this employee-employer relationship, the teams have all the leverage.

    “The club’s intention is to completely control the behavior of the women, even when they are not actually at their workplace,” said Leslie Levy, who represented cheerleaders who sued the Jets and the Oakland Raiders. “It’s an issue of power. You see a disparate treatment between the cheerleaders, and the mascots and anyone else who works for the team. I can’t think of another arena where employers exert this level of control, even when they are not at work.”

    Ms Levy and other lawyers have had some success. In 2016 the Jets agreed to pay their cheerleaders, known as The Flight Crew, almost $325,000 in back pay. The Raiders agreed to $1.25 million in back pay for the Raiderettes. […]

    […]

    The handbook given to the Oakland Raiderettes included a list of fines. Cheerleaders must pay $10 if they bring the wrong pompoms to practice, or their boots are not polished on game day. If they forgot all or part of their uniform on game day, they could be docked an entire day’s pay. The Raiderettes — known as Football’s Fabulous Females — are also coached on their body language and dining etiquette. (“Bread is to be broken with your hands” and “pass food to your right.”)

    […]

    I have the impression the actual oval ball used in the alleged game is treated better than the (mostly female) dancers / cheerleaders.

  86. says

    “Trump lied to me about his wealth to get onto the Forbes 400. Here are the tapes.”:

    In May 1984, an official from the Trump Organization called to tell me how rich Donald J. Trump was. I was reporting for the Forbes 400, the magazine’s annual ranking of America’s richest people, for the third year. In the previous edition, we’d valued Trump’s holdings at $200 million, only one-fifth of what he claimed to own in our interviews. This time, his aide urged me on the phone, I needed to understand just how loaded Trump really was.

    The official was John Barron — a name we now know as an alter ego of Trump himself. When I recently rediscovered and listened, for first time since that year, to the tapes I made of this and other phone calls, I was amazed that I didn’t see through the ruse: Although Trump altered some cadences and affected a slightly stronger New York accent, it was clearly him. “Barron” told me that Trump had taken possession of the business he ran with his father, Fred. “Most of the assets have been consolidated to Mr. Trump,” he said. “You have down Fred Trump [as half owner] . . . but I think you can really use Donald Trump now.” Trump, through this sockpuppet, was telling me he owned “in excess of 90 percent” of his family’s business. With all the home runs Trump was hitting in real estate, Barron told me, he should be called a billionaire.

    At the time, I suspected that some of this was untrue. I ran Trump’s assertions to the ground, and for many years I was proud of the fact that Forbes had called him on his distortions and based his net worth on what I thought was solid research.

    But it took decades to unwind the elaborate farce Trump had built to project an image as one of the richest people in America. Nearly every assertion supporting that claim was untrue. Trump wasn’t just poorer than he said he was. Over time I have learned that he should not have been on the first three Forbes 400 lists at all. In our first-ever list, in 1982, we included him at $100 million, but Trump was actually worth roughly $5 million — a paltry sum by the standards of his super-monied peers — as a spate of government reports and books showed only much later.

    I was a determined 25-year-old reporter, and I thought that, by reeling Trump back from some of his more outrageous claims, I’d done a public service and exposed the truth. But his confident deceptions were so big that they had an unexpected effect: Instead of believing that they were outright fabrications, my Forbes colleagues and I saw them simply as vain embellishments on the truth. We were so wrong.

    This was a model Trump would use for the rest of his career, telling a lie so cosmic that people believed that some kernel of it had to be real.* The tactic landed him a place on the Forbes list he hadn’t earned — and led to future accolades, press coverage and deals. It eventually paved a path toward the presidency.

    I was a leading New York real estate reporter through the 1980s….

    But Trump was so competent in conning me that, until 35 years later, I did not know I had been conned. Instead, I have gone through my career in national media with a misinformed sense of satisfaction that, as a perceptive young journalist, I called Trump on his lies and gave Forbes readers who used the Rich List as a barometer of private wealth a more accurate picture of his finances than the one he was selling.

    The joke was on me — and everyone else. Trump’s fabrications provided the basis for a vastly inflated wealth assessment for the Forbes 400 that would give him cachet for decades as a triumphant businessman.

    In the absence of a functioning balance sheet, the list didn’t just make Trump feel like a winner, according to O’Brien; it may have provided some of the documentation he needed to borrow reckless sums of money — vast loans that he used, for years, to actually make him a winner. “The more often Forbes mentioned him, the more credible Donald’s claim to vast wealth became,” O’Brien said, arguing that Trump and the list were “mutually reinforcing”: “The more credible his claim to vast wealth became, the easier it was for him to get on the Forbes 400 — which became the standard that other media, and apparently some of the country’s biggest banks, used when judging Donald’s riches.”

    Trump returned to the Rich List in 1996 with a reported net worth of $450 million and an editor’s note that he claimed to be worth $2 billion. He never fell off it again. In his book, O’Brien criticized Forbes for rewarding Trump’s fabrications, citing interviews with “three people with direct knowledge of Donald’s finances” who estimated his true net worth after debts to be “somewhere between $150 million and $250 million.” Trump, who had told O’Brien he was worth $6 billion, sued for libel — and lost. When he lost his appeal in 2011, a New Jersey appellate judge wrote, “The largest portion of Mr. Trump’s fortune, according to three people who had had direct knowledge of his holdings, apparently comes from his lucrative inheritance. These people estimated that Mr. Trump’s wealth, presuming that it is not encumbered by heavy debt,** may amount to about $200 million to $300 million. That is an enviably large sum of money by most people’s standards but far short of the billionaires club.”

    The opacity persists. In 2016, Trump’s presidential campaign put out a statement saying the candidate had a net worth “in excess of TEN BILLION DOLLARS.” But he has never released his tax returns, and he has said that the core Trump Organization asset is the ownership of his brand — an ineffable marketing claim that is impossible to substantiate or refute.

    Much, much more at the article, including recordings of calls with “John Barron” and the despicable Roy Cohn.

    * This is the key, I think. It’s difficult to remain cognizant of the extent to which Trump, Cohen, Manafort, Stone, and that gang don’t feel bound by truth.
    ** NARRATOR: It was encumbered by heavy debt.

  87. says

    “Trump hires Giuliani, two other attorneys amid mounting legal turmoil over Russia”:

    …In recent days, the president has been regularly venting and speculating to aides about his legal status and the expected timeline for the Russia investigation to end, according to associates briefed on the discussions.

    Trump also loudly and repeatedly complained to several advisers earlier this week that former FBI director James B. Comey, former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, among others, should be charged with crimes for misdeeds alleged by Republicans, the associates said.

    Although White House officials said Thursday that Trump has not called Justice Department officials or taken any formal action, the persistent grousing has made some advisers anxious, according to two people close to the president….

    Trump also complained this week about Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, saying the judge had proved too liberal in recent cases, according to administration officials who heard about the complaints. Associates said he was incensed that Gorsuch had voted against the administration on an immigration case and said it renewed his doubts that Gorsuch would be a reliable conservative….

    Giuliani is certain to come under intense scrutiny for his role. His own pre-election activities two years ago have been the subject of criticism from Democrats, especially television interviews in which he suggested he had sources providing him inside information about the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s private email server when she was secretary of state.

    A Justice Department Inspector General report on the department’s handling of the Clinton investigations is expected to be released in coming weeks and will probably include results of leak investigations regarding the Clinton probe….

    Giuliani’s firm also advised Cambridge Analytica, and he was personally involved with the Reza Zarrab case.

  88. says

    “Exclusive: Trump pressed Sessions to fire 2 FBI officials who sent anti-Trump text messages”:

    President Donald Trump sharply questioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray during a White House meeting on January 22 about why two senior FBI officials — Peter Strzok and Lisa Page — were still in their jobs despite allegations made by allies of the president that they had been disloyal to him and had unfairly targeted him and his administration, according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

    The president also pressed his attorney general and FBI director to work more aggressively to uncover derogatory information within the FBI’s files to turn over to congressional Republicans working to discredit the two FBI officials, according to the same sources.

    The very next day, Trump met Sessions again, this time without Wray present, and even more aggressively advocated that Strzok and Page be fired, the sources said.

    Trump’s efforts to discredit Strzok and Page came after Trump was advised last summer by his then-criminal defense attorney John Dowd that Page was a likely witness against him in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice, according to two senior administration officials. That Trump knew that Page might be a potential witness against him has not been previously reported or publicly known.

    The effort to discredit Strzok and Page has been part of a broader effort by Trump and his allies to discredit and even fire FBI officials who they believe will be damaging witnesses against the president in Mueller’s obstruction of justice probe.

    Those attacks, in turn, are part of a broader push to denigrate Mueller himself and make it easier for Trump to publicly justify his potential firing….

    Trump’s efforts against Page and Strzok demonstrate that the president personally has targeted even midlevel officials and career FBI agents.

    In subsequent testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey confirmed that he regularly confided in McCabe, Rybicki, and Baker but also briefly noted that he sometimes invited other less senior FBI officials to meetings on the topic of his encounters with Trump.

    One person Comey identified was “the deputy director’s chief counsel.” This was an apparent reference to Lisa Page. No press reports then or since identified her as a potential witness against Trump before this story — even as the president, his political allies, and Republican-controlled investigative committees on Capitol Hill relentlessly attacked her.

    But the reference caught Dowd’s attention. After doing some research, Dowd concluded that Page might be a dangerous witness against the president, according to a senior administration official, because she may have attended meetings with Comey and other senior FBI managers during which Comey discussed his troublesome contacts with the president — perhaps even the meeting during which Trump allegedly ordered Comey to shut down the Flynn investigation. Moreover, as chief counsel to McCabe, Page might have been privy to information McCabe had about similar matters.

    As first reported by Foreign Policy in late January, President Trump approved a plan to carry out a campaign to discredit senior FBI officials after Dowd warned him that they were all almost certainly going to provide damaging testimony that might implicate him in an obstruction of justice case. According to the source, one of the officials specifically targeted was Page.

    According to an Axios report in January, Wray had threatened to resign as FBI director after Sessions, acting on Trump’s orders, pressured him to fire McCabe. Wray told Sessions that he had no cause or legal justification to fire McCabe. Sessions ultimately fired McCabe in March.

    In light of those events, a senior federal law enforcement official told me that he was surprised Wray did not take more seriously the president’s discussion with him regarding Page. “A president ordinarily doesn’t care about personnel and staffing decisions at the FBI. One had to at least consider this as a furtherance of an obstruction,” the person said.

    What’s been lost in the fog of conspiracy theorizing around the Mueller probe is the fact that virtually all of the FBI’s most senior managers supported Comey’s decision to announce the reopening of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails 11 days before the election — an announcement that arguably helped Donald Trump pull off his victory.

    The right’s assault on the institutional reputation of the FBI has been politically successful. A Reuters/Ipsos poll in January found that nearly 73 percent of Republicans think that “members of the FBI and Department of Justice are working to delegitimize Trump through politically motivated investigations.”

    In the meantime, the congressional investigations of the FBI have taken a toll on the law enforcement agency’s investigative capabilities.

    On March 18, Wray released a statement saying that even though the FBI had already “dedicated 27 FBI staff to review records” to the House Judiciary Committee about Comey, McCabe, Page, Strzok, and other FBI officials, the FBI was now “doubling” its efforts. There would now be no less than 54 FBI staff members who would work “two shifts per day from 8 a.m. to midnight to expedite completion of this project.”

    The number is apparently greater than the number of FBI agents working full time for Robert Mueller.

    Much more at the link.

  89. says

    NYT: “6 Takeaways From the James Comey Memos.”

    Leaves out:

    – Trump said he was angry with Flynn because Flynn didn’t notify him quickly enough about Putin’s call. Said, based on this, that Flynn had bad judgment.
    – “At least twice more in the ensuing weeks, Mr. Trump laid out a timeline for Mr. Comey and claimed that it showed that such a tape could not exist.” He told Comey twice that he didn’t spend that night in Moscow, but he did. People keep pointing out that his bodyguard, Keith Schiller, testified that he did, but that wasn’t needed. His timeline is well known, and described in Russian Roulette – he returned late that night to the hotel and at 7 the next morning shot a segment for Emin Agalarov’s music video. There’s footage from the taping.

  90. blf says

    A proposed “solution” to the Ireland–N.Ireland land border problem with brexit is an all-dancing all-singing foolproof technology so advanced it looks like magic. (Multiple reports / studies have rubbished the idea.) Until recently, no-one has the foggiest idea what this superdooper virtual border would be. Now we do (cartoon): “At long last the government has come up with the definitive answer to the vexed issue of the border in Ireland.”

    (First spotted in The New European, which is a slightly dodgy anti-brexit British newspaper. Whilst they seem broadly reliable, they also keep dropping clangers, the most recent (that I spotted) being that the raid on Cohen was “authorised by […] Mueller” — NO, Paul Connew (the authour), it was the result of a tip from Mueller’s team (Sex, Syria and scandal with Trump in middle)).

  91. blf says

    Here in France, Marine Le Pen’s niece to open training school for far-right leaders:

    Academy of political sciences in Lyon is backed by Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, a former Front National MP
    […]
    Marion Maréchal-Le Pen […] new academy of political sciences is set to open this September in central Lyon […].

    […] Maréchal-Le Pen is far more socially conservative than her aunt [Marine, the current le penazi führer] and close to the party’s founder, her grandfather Jean-Marie. She is seen by some as a future leader. [She is also often considered even more extreme than the ogre Jean-Marie –blf]

    The free and independent institution sets out to to detect and train the leaders of tomorrow who will have the courage, intelligence, discernment and competence to act effectively … in the service of society, she wrote […].

    Open to all the political currents of the right, the school says it will provide the intellectual, cultural, legal, technical and media skills to our young people that will allow them to perform as well as possible in both the business and political arena.

    It appears to be inspired in part by the Institute for Political Training, a private rightwing college in Paris that has offered seminars on How the euro is destroying Europe, Islam and Islamism […] since 2004.

    Offering a full-time education, Maréchal-Le Pen’s school aims eventually to award its students state-recognised diplomas; however, to do this it will initially need to work with an establishment already approved by the French education ministry, which could prove challenging.

    Her family name may also be an obstacle. According to L’Obs news weekly, several rightwing intellectuals have already turned down offers to teach at the school, put off by the presence of a Le Pen on the managing board. “The name is the kiss of death, and she knows it,” one told the magazine.

    […]

  92. blf says

    US official appeared to delay protections for endangered species at behest of oil group:

    The energy friendly agenda inside Trump’s interior department is revealed in records obtained by the Guardian and the watchdog groups Documented and the Western Values Project

    The Texas hornshell is a sleek green-grey mussel that once thrived in the Rio Grande watershed, its habitat stretching from southern New Mexico down into the arid Texas borderlands. Some of its habitat happens to overlap with rich deposits of oil and gas.

    Amid a long-term decline in its range, the Obama administration in 2016 proposed to declare the mussel an endangered species. Upon taking office, however, the Trump administration changed tack.

    A top interior department official, Vincent DeVito, appears to take credit for helping to delay federal protections for the species at the behest of fossil-fuel industry groups, one of several examples of his willingness to prioritize the needs of extractive industries with business before the government, according to public records […].

    DeVito, a Boston energy lawyer and the former co-chair of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in Massachusetts, is […] one of a host of political appointees hired by Ryan Zinke, the interior secretary whose department oversees well over 400m acres of public land and can determine the fate of species that inhabit them.

    Yet DeVito is now emerging as a critical player. At a speech last summer to Americans for Prosperity, a political advocacy group backed by the Koch brothers, DeVito described his role at the department as the office of energy dominance. Officially, there is no such office, though energy dominance has become a slogan for the interior department’s fossil-fuel-first policy agenda.

    The war on American energy is over, DeVito told the activists, according to a recording of the speech obtained by the Guardian. And, matter-of-fact, if there is a war, we’re going to win it and we’re going full bore, he said […]

    [… details of DeVito’s collusion to delay listing the Texas hornshell mussel …]

    Although the mussel was eventually granted protections in February 2018, former officials at the Department of the Interior (DoI) officials with knowledge of the department’s rules and procedures say DeVito’s apparent involvement in the listing process raises both ethical and legal questions.

    “Listing decisions under the Endangered Species Act are meant to be entirely science-based decisions that result from — in some cases — years of review by experts in the field, not political appointees,” says Elizabeth Klein, a former associate deputy secretary at the DoI during the Obama years and now the deputy director of New York University’s state energy and environmental impact center.

    […]

    DeVito’s penchant for energy dominance has played out in other ways as well. As chairman of the interior department’s royalty policy committee, he helps determine the royalty rates that energy companies must pay to drill and mine on federal lands and waters, effectively encouraging or disincentivizing them.

    At his Americans for Prosperity speech, Devito described how he consulted closely with fossil fuel groups before recommending to Zinke in February that the interior department reduce royalty rates on offshore oil and gas drillers by a third, from 18.75% to 12.5%.

    […]

    DeVito’s energy agenda also took him to West Virginia last year, where he helped coal interests obtain federal approval for a new mine near the habitat of Appalachia’s imperiled Big Sandy crayfish.

    “Mining is the single biggest factor that has eliminated this species from a lot of its range,” said Roger Thoma, a senior research associate at the Midwest Biodiversity Institute who has surveyed the crayfish extensively.

    […]

    Later DeVito went even further, and added his signature in red pen to a plan that guides regulatory scrutiny of future mines operating in or near crayfish habitat. Former interior department officials familiar with FWS rules and regulations say that a lawyer and political appointee like DeVito has neither the scientific expertise nor the authority to approve such a science-based guidance.

    “It a scientific integrity violation for a political appointee to essentially leapfrog the Fish and Wildlife Service’s process when you have an Endangered Species Act listing involved,” says Joel Clement, a long-time interior department scientist and now whistleblower who left the department after being pushed out of his post.

    “It is absolutely inappropriate. As a senior advisor {DeVito} has no authority of position — so essentially that guidance was not worth the paper it was written on.” […]

    Alls teh bestest peoples!

  93. says

    Whoa – “Democratic Party files lawsuit alleging Russia, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks conspired to disrupt the 2016 campaign”:

    The Democratic National Committee filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit Friday against the Russian government, the Trump campaign and the WikiLeaks organization alleging a far-reaching conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 campaign and tilt the election to Donald Trump.

    The complaint, filed in federal district court in Manhattan, alleges that top Trump campaign officials conspired with the Russian government and its military spy agency to hurt Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump by hacking the computer networks of the Democratic Party and disseminating stolen material found there.

    “During the 2016 presidential campaign, Russia launched an all-out assault on our democracy, and it found a willing and active partner in Donald Trump’s campaign,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.

    “This constituted an act of unprecedented treachery: the campaign of a nominee for President of the United States in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency,” he said.

    The case asserts that the Russian hacking campaign — combined with Trump associates’ contacts with Russia and the campaign’s public cheerleading of the hacks — amounted to an illegal conspiracy to interfere in the election that caused serious damage to the Democratic Party.

    The lawsuit argues that Russia is not entitled to sovereign immunity in this case because “the DNC claims arise out of Russia’s trespass on to the DNC’s private servers…in order to steal trade secrets and commit economic espionage.”

    The lawsuit echoes a similar legal tactic that the Democratic Party used during the Watergate scandal. In 1972, the DNC filed suit against then President Richard Nixon’s reelection committee seeking $1 million in damages for the break-in at Democratic headquarters in the Watergate building.

    The suit was denounced at the time by Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell, who called it a case of “sheer demagoguery” by the DNC. But the civil action brought by former DNC chair Lawrence F. O’Brien was ultimately successful, yielding a $750,000 settlement from the Nixon campaign that was reached on the day in 1974 that Nixon left office.

    The suit filed Friday seeks millions of dollars in compensation to offset damage it claims the party suffered from the hacks. The DNC argues that the cyberattack undermined its ability to communicate with voters, collect donations and operate effectively as its employees faced personal harassment and, in some cases, death threats.

    The suit also seeks an acknowledgment from the defendants that they conspired to infiltrate the Democrats’ computers, steal information and disseminate it to influence the election.

    To support its case, the lawsuit offers a detailed narrative of the DNC hacks, as well as episodes in which key Trump aides are alleged to have been told Russia held damaging information about Clinton.

    The party said the Trump defendants committed conspiracy through their interaction with Russian agents and their public encouragement of the hacking, with the campaign itself acting as a racketeering enterprise promoting illegal activity.

    The suit contains previously undisclosed details, including that the specific date when the Russians breached the DNC computer system: July 27, 2015, according to forensic evidence cited in the filing….

    The suit doesn’t name Trump as a defendant, but it does name: Manafort, Gates, Papadopoulos, Mifsud, Stone, Don Jr., Kushner, the GRU, and Aras and Emin Agalarov.

  94. says

    The DNC lawsuit is still just on PACER so I can’t see it yet. One aspect I wonder about is whether it raises the issue that Don Jr. and many others continued to indignantly deny that Russia was attacking when they had full knowledge that they were. Also, whether it talks about efforts to interfere with and publicly discredit the law enforcement agencies investigating the attack.

  95. blf says

    Trump’s extreme vetting is muzzling activists and shutting them out:

    US authorities have turned away foreign activists and interrogated Americans. It’s a policy of censorship masquerading as immigration enforcement

    The Trump administration has explained that its so-called extreme vetting program is intended to bar individuals from the United States based on their attitudes toward this country. It is the fulfillment of a campaign promise to resurrect a cold war–era ideological screening test for admission into the United States. If the growing number of activists who have been denied admission or removed from the country in recent months is any indication, that test is tricky to pass.

    Hours after landing in Minneapolis on Wednesday, Yassmin Abdel-Magied was on a flight back to London. Border agents reportedly pulled her aside upon arrival, took her cellphone, and — following a minutes-long review of her case — canceled her visa and denied her entry into the country.

    A prominent Muslim Australian activist, Abdel-Magied was scheduled to speak at the PEN World Voices Festival in New York, including at one event prophetically titled The M Word: No Country for Young Muslim Women. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) claimed Abdel-Magied was traveling on the wrong visa, though she had traveled to the United States on the same visa for similar events in the past.

    Without more information, we can’t say definitively that CBP’s justification for turning Abdel-Magied away was pretextual. But her experience aligns with those of other activists, artists and experts who have been denied entry into the United States in recent months.

    […]

    American activists, too, have confronted increased government scrutiny at the border. Also this month, border agents interrogated the journalist and civil rights advocate Shaun King upon his return from a family trip to Cairo. Along with his exhausted wife and children, King fielded questions about his reasons for traveling to Egypt and his role in the Black Lives Matter movement. King reported that the officer who questioned him had “clearly been reading my tweets and knew all about me”.

    And there is mounting evidence that even within US borders, non-citizen activists now face a significant threat of deportation in retaliation for their advocacy on issues relating to immigration. […]

    Several of them were detained after they attended demonstrations or made public comments about immigration issues. An Ice document on [Maru] Mora-Villalpando, who was detained after speaking to the media, noted her extensive involvement with anti-Ice protests and Latino advocacy programs.

    These recent incidents are part of a broader government scheme to wield immigration authority to silence activists both within and beyond the US borders. CBP and Ice agents conduct suspicionless searches of travelers’ electronic devices — including their text messages, emails, social media posts, and photographs — when they cross the US border. Under the rubric of extreme vetting, the administration now plans to require immigrant and non-immigrant visa applicants to surrender their social media handles, including pseudonyms and aliases, in connection with their applications.

    It has also contracted for the creation of an automated program that will scan social media and other websites to generate at least 10,000 investigative hits per month, which may lead to visa revocations and deportations. Finally, it retains records of individuals’ social media and other online activities within the files used to inform immigration determinations.

    Thus, from the time a non-citizen applies for a visa to her arrival at the border, through her time spent in the United States, the government will be collecting and storing her social media information, possibly scouring her private electronic communications, and continuing to monitor her expressive activities online — and the results of this surveillance may eventually trigger removal proceedings against her.

    These extreme vetting measures threaten to chill the expressive and associative activities of any individual who may seek to enter or remain in the United States. […]

    Moreover, the exclusion and removal of activists and other individuals invited to speak in the United States, like Abdel-Magied, denies American audiences the opportunity to hear from diverse viewpoints around the world — a right that the first amendment presumptively protects. […]

    Just as the travel ban effectively excludes individuals from this country on the basis of their religion, extreme vetting explicitly excludes individuals from this country on the basis of their statements and beliefs. This is censorship under the guise of immigration enforcement. […]

  96. blf says

    Trump sex scandals turn a harsh spotlight on this Beverly Hills lawyer:

    Most Beverly Hills lawyers are seldom accused of extortion.

    For Keith M Davidson, however, it’s not so rare: He is fighting three civil suits by television personalities alleging extortion.

    Davidson is the attorney who negotiated payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal during the 2016 presidential race to keep them quiet about their alleged affairs with Donald Trump.

    Both wound up firing Davidson and hiring new lawyers to get their nondisclosure deals voided.

    The growing scandal […] has turned a harsh spotlight on Davidson.

    [… H]e operates on the fringe of entertainment law. His niche is extracting money from celebrities for clients threatening to release sex tapes or share embarrassing stories with the media.

    The upside: It can produce big payouts for attorney and client alike.

    The downside: Targets sometimes file lawsuits claiming extortion. No court has found that Davidson actually extorted anyone.

    In 2012, Davidson was caught up in an FBI sting operation for trying to get Hulk Hogan to pay a client $300,000 for a secretly taped video of the wrestling star having sex, law enforcement records show. Davidson met Hogan in a Florida hotel room — unaware it was wired with recording devices monitored by FBI agents in an adjacent room.

    As soon as Hogan’s lawyer, David Houston, handed Davidson the first installment, a phony check for $150,000, FBI agents stormed in and detained him, according to the law enforcement records.

    “I was amazed that there was a lawyer actually making a living doing this,” Houston said.

    […] Hogan […] has sued Davidson for extortion, violation of privacy and other claims.

    […]

    Davidson’s law license was suspended for three months in 2010 after he admitted to professional misconduct — failing to keep a client informed of important matters in a medical malpractice case and not showing up for a court hearing, among other things.

    To pick up clients in celebrity cases, Davidson has relied heavily on two LA sources, according to the Smoking Gun website: former porn actress Gina Rodriguez, who referred Stormy Daniels to him, and Mike Walters, former chief of the TMZ news desk.

    When Daniels’ story of a one-night stand with Trump first appeared on a website in 2011, Davidson got a call from Cohen, who was irate.

    […]

    The story was removed from the web. But when media outlets approached Daniels about Trump in the closing weeks of the 2016 campaign, she had Davidson negotiate a confidentiality agreement. Cohen set up a shell corporation that paid her $130,000 11 days before the November election.

    [… and more and more and yet even more dubious behaviours …]

  97. blf says

    Grauniad editorial Brexit and the Irish border: alchemy fails again:

    […]
    Theresa May’s desire to combine exit from the EU’s customs union with an invisible border in Northern Ireland is not in doubt. The issue is not how much the prime minister wants a solution but whether a solution exists. Without one, Mrs May’s entire Brexit strategy unravels.

    Downing Street has been working on technical solutions to this problem, fleshing out formulas described by the prime minister in a speech last month as a highly streamlined customs arrangement or customs partnership. On Friday, it emerged that those proposals have been flatly rejected by the European commission as unworkable, both from a legal and a practical perspective.

    The EU has sent No 10 back to the drawing board and there is not much time to draw up something new. An obvious solution is to grab a template that has already been drawn: accepting that the UK and the EU will, after all, end up in a customs union.

    This week the House of Lords amended the Brexit withdrawal bill with a clause directing the prime minister down that path. The pressure will increase next week with a cross-party motion in the Commons urging the government to seek a customs union in negotiations.

    Hardline leaver MPs resist any compromise in that direction, seeing it as a dilution of Brexit’s essential purpose — sovereignty over trade. Customs unions have common external tariffs and limit the capacity of participating states to strike bilateral agreements. Existing EU variants of the model, such as its partnership with Turkey, involve ceding rights to Brussels without equivalent representation […]

    [… UK PM May] is negotiating against a howling chorus of Europhobia from her own party, which corrodes goodwill in Brussels. The EU side was always going to be legalistic — that is in the nature of a negotiation that must accommodate the interests of 27 countries and respect existing treaties. But the commission has been made even less flexible by Tory noises off, which hint at readiness to disregard existing rules and boasting that no deal is required.

    It is important to recall how Mrs May came to her current impasse. The commitment not to erect a hard border in Northern Ireland reflects recognition that doing so would sabotage a social and political compact put in place by the Good Friday agreement. Brexiters ignored that hazard during the referendum and have belittled it ever since. Their pursuit of the ideological chimera of absolute trade sovereignty blinds them to the reality of a fragile peace treaty that demands respectful, judicious handling.

    The UK staying in a customs union with the EU would not dissolve the border issue in one move, but it is the simplest step towards a solution.

    [… Mrs May’s] negotiation is based on fantastical precepts of diplomatic alchemy. Inevitably, the EU is not taking her base metal for gold. The prime minister has followed bad advice with stubborn dedication. […]

  98. says

    BREAKING: Judge Otero takes Michael Cohen’s motion to stay under submission, strongly suggests he file a supporting declaration, offers very ominous comments about Cohen’s situation in New York.”

    This is the California judge in the Stormy Daniels case. Cohen is trying to get a stay because testimony or records he has to provide in that case could put him in legal jeopardy in the criminal investigation in NY.

  99. says

    Entertaining Popehat report and analysis – “Michael Cohen’s Motion to Stay The Stormy Daniels Case Deferred, Cohen’s Situation Pronounced Ominous”:

    Today, in a mood for some history, I walked half a mile to the new federal courthouse to watch United States District Court Judge James Otero hear argument on Michael Cohen’s motion to stay — that is, freeze — Stephanie Clifford’s aka Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit.

    There were two themes to the hearing. One is that Michael Cohen’s situation is grave. Judge Otero — a federal judge for 15 years, who has seen thousands of federal criminal cases — repeatedly commented that it was clear from the search of Cohen’s office and subsequent proceedings before Judge Kimba Wood in New York that Cohen faced a strong probability of prosecution. “It’s substantially likely some kind of criminal action will be filed,” based on the nature of the search, Judge Otero said at one point. Later, based on his experience overseeing warrants, he opined “something big is going to follow.”

    The second theme of the hearing was that the parties’ legal interests were at war with their political and public relations interests.

    The end result was this: Cohen has until next Wednesday to file a declaration supporting his request and establishing that he intends to take the Fifth. Avenatti can file a rebuttal within 24 hours. Then the judge will rule in writing. Based on my observation, I think that there’s a strong chance that Cohen will lose the motion outright if he doesn’t file the declaration. If he does, I suspect Judge Otero will grant a limited stay — not so much to preserve Cohen’s interests in the civil case, but to give his lawyers a reasonable amount of time to get a grip on what is going on and make longer-term decisions about how to deal with the civil case. Judge Otero repeatedly noted that the criminal case could take a long time, but that it was reasonable for the lawyers to want to regroup to evaluate the situation and how to weigh Cohen’s interests in the two matters. I also suspect Judge Otero will hear the anti-SLAPP motion against Daniels’ defamation claim — it’s a strong motion and a weak claim….

    Also, LOL.

  100. blf says

    Similar to @79, German town braces for arrival of neo-Nazis at music festival:

    Large police deployment and counter-protests planned for event that coincides with Hitler’s birthday
    […]
    Anti-fascist groups have promised counter-protests, and a large police deployment aims to prevent violence during the Schild und Schwert (Shield and Sword, or SS) festival in Ostritz, Saxony, on the border with Poland.

    The two-day event is expected to attract up to 1,000 far-right extremists from Germany, the Czech Republic and Poland.

    State rules for the festival stipulates a ban on alcohol, and visitors are prohibited from bringing glass bottles, flag staffs and certain breeds of dogs.

    Organisers argue that the festival — featuring far-right music, speeches, martial arts, a tattoo convention and merchandise stalls — is a political event, granting it legal protection under the German constitution.

    […]

    The festival organiser is Thorsten Heise of the far-right fringe party NPD, which is openly xenophobic and antisemitic. The party avoided a legal ban last year because of its small membership and limited influence.

    At a hotel guarded by security guards wearing Aryan Brotherhood T-shirts, shaven-headed men could be seen pitching tents in the riverside area on Friday afternoon.

    Ostritz is in a region where the AfD scored some of its strongest results in the 2017 elections.

    Anti-fascist activists warned that neo-Nazis from across Europe may show up, with many expected to stay just across the nearby Polish border.

    “We will not stand and watch when neo-Nazis from Germany and the rest of Europe come for a party to celebrate the Führer’s birthday,” the Rechts Rockt Nicht initiative […] said online, vowing to “stand together and resist them”.

    “Facism is not an opinion, it’s a crime,” said Mirko Schultze, an organiser of the anti-fascist gathering and a Saxony state politician of the far-left Die Linke party.

    A separate Peace festival has been organised by local politicians, civic groups and church leaders, with Saxony’s premier, Michael Kretschmer, of the conservative CDU, to give the opening speech.

    The event in the town centre will feature speeches, a circus and an Arabic cafe, to show that the town values “cosmopolitanism, tolerance, democracy and peaceful coexistence”.

    […]

    Sascha Elser, a spokeswoman for Rechts Rockt Nicht, said […] “If this is really to happen, that you can gather and celebrate Hitler’s birthday without any problems or consequences, it is a clear sign that our law and society are sick.”

  101. says

    “Michael Cohen Has Said He Would Take a Bullet for Trump. Maybe Not Anymore.”:

    For years, a joke among Trump Tower employees was that the boss was like Manhattan’s First Avenue, where the traffic goes only one way.

    That one-sidedness has always been at the heart of President Trump’s relationship with his longtime lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, who has said he would “take a bullet” for Mr. Trump. For years Mr. Trump treated Mr. Cohen poorly, with gratuitous insults, dismissive statements and, at least twice, threats of being fired, according to interviews with a half-dozen people familiar with their relationship.

    “Donald goes out of his way to treat him like garbage,” said Roger J. Stone Jr., Mr. Trump’s informal and longest-serving political adviser, who, along with Mr. Cohen, was one of five people originally surrounding the president when he was considering a presidential campaign before 2016.

    Now, for the first time, the traffic may be going Mr. Cohen’s way. Mr. Trump’s lawyers and advisers have become resigned to the strong possibility that Mr. Cohen, who has a wife and two children and faces the prospect of devastating legal fees, if not criminal charges, could end up cooperating with federal officials who are investigating him for activity that could relate, at least in part, to work he did for Mr. Trump….

  102. blf says

    For the last six months or so in the UK, the Grauniad has been highlighting cases of immigrants from the Caribbean (mostly) who arrived in 1950s (generally) at the invitation of the then-UK government, lived and worked and paid taxes much of their lives in the UK, and are now being threatened with deportation and loss of benefits over alleged paperwork irregularities. This has become known as the “Windrush scandal”, named after the ship Empire Windrush, which was the first immigrants’s ship to arrive. A summary of the scandal, The week that took Windrush from low-profile investigation to national scandal:

    […]
    For the past six months, the Guardian has highlighted case after case of Home Office brutality towards the Windrush generation, describing how retirement-age citizens who have lived and paid taxes in the UK for decades have been detained, made homeless, sacked or denied benefits and NHS treatment because they have struggled to prove they are British. Seven days ago, the government had barely acknowledged the scandal.

    Everything changed this week. In the space of five days, the prime minister was forced to apologise twice for the hurt caused to victims, while the home secretary said she was sorry for the “appalling” actions of her own department and issued a strong rebuke to her staff. Amber Rudd said she was “concerned that the Home Office has become too concerned with policy and strategy and sometimes loses sight of the individual”.

    […]

    These were people who had contributed for decades and whose lives had been destroyed by Home Office harassment over their immigration status. All of them are here legally, but none of them have the documentation to prove it. [UK PM Theresa] May’s tightened immigration rules mean officials have begun demanding to see papers, often targeting those who they suspect (judging by accents and skin colour) may not have them.

    […]

    [Albert Thompson (not his real name) was denied NHS cancer treatment and told it would cost him £54,000 after four decades paying taxes] When she was filled in on Thompson’s case, May’s response was tough. Thompson needed to evidence his settled status in the UK, she said, apparently unaware that this was precisely what he was unable to do: the Home Office demands copious evidence, records have been destroyed and officials did not accept (as you would expect) his decades of tax payments. In response to every case the Guardian raised, Home Office staff issued statements saying the affected people needed to get legal advice and submit the correct applications. They were apparently unaware that legal aid cuts made that impossible, and that Home Office fees were prohibitively expensive for people who were borderline destitute after losing their jobs and being denied benefits.

    Things changed after the Barbados high commissioner, Guy Hewitt, revealed that Downing Street had rejected a formal request from 12 Caribbean heads of government to discuss the problem with May at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting, which opened in London on Monday. On Sunday, Hewitt said it was “regrettable”. Within 24 hours, Labour’s David Lammy had gathered 140 MPs from all parties to sign a letter calling on the prime minister to act, and Rudd apologised in the Commons and set up a dedicated Windrush hotline.

    This did little to stem the spiralling crisis. The Guardian’s revelation on Tuesday that thousands of Windrush-era landing slips were destroyed in October 2010 caused fresh embarrassment for the government. An ex-Home Office whistleblower said employees in his department told their managers that it was a bad idea to destroy the documents […]

    The spiralling scandal completely overshadowed the Commonwealth heads of government meeting, just when the government had hoped to confirm post-Brexit ties with old allies. On the night before a rapidly scheduled meeting with Caribbean leaders (an embarrassing Downing Street U-turn), the mother of Dexter Bristol, who died last month after being sacked for having no papers, told the Guardian she believed the stress caused by his immigration problems was responsible for his death. Bristol had been in the UK for 49 years, arriving here when he was eight. Calling on May to resign, his mother, Sentina, said her son was the victim of the government’s “racist policies”.

    It’s worth watching footage of May’s awkward apology to Caribbean leaders. She admits quite casually that she was responsible for the whole catastrophe, stating that the issue had come to light because of measures that we introduced recently and suggesting it was merely a bureaucratic concern for those people who now needed to evidence their immigration status. She made no mention of the pain caused to thousands.

    […]

    There is estimated to be about 50,000 “Windrush” people who are at risk. And nationals of the EU living in the UK are now seriously concerned what May and the nasty party will do to them post-brexit.

    The reporter who uncovered the scandal describes her experiences, Amelia Gentleman on Windrush: ‘I’ve felt like an immigration case worker’: “The Guardian reporter reflects on her investigation into the residency crisis affecting some Caribbean-born UK residents”.

  103. says

    “The Rift Between McCabe and Comey Could Help Trump”:

    The growing tension between two frequent targets of President Trump, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and his old boss, former FBI Director James Comey, was laid bare Friday morning.

    “Andy is upset and disappointed in some of the things Comey has said,” McCabe’s lawyer Michael Bromwich said at a briefing for reporters Friday morning. Comey told the Justice Department’s internal watchdog that McCabe never alerted him to disclosures he planned to authorize to The Wall Street Journal in October 2016. McCabe, who was fired last month after the Justice Department Inspector General determined that he lied about those disclosures, insists that Comey knew—and that there are email and phone records that prove it. The IG has referred McCabe for possible prosecution to the U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C.

    The open conflict between the two former associates reveals the stark reality of McCabe’s defense strategy, and its unlikely intersection with Trump’s: Both McCabe and Trump’s efforts to defend themselves against allegations that they acted improperly—McCabe through self-serving leaks, Trump through attempts to influence the FBI investigation into his former national-security adviser—now depend in large part on their ability to impeach Comey’s credibility. Trump, whose new nickname for the former FBI director is “Lyin’ Comey,” has taken this a great deal further than Bromwich, who has attributed the disagreement between McCabe and Comey’s version of events to Comey’s “fallible memory.” But Bromwich’s suggestion that Comey’s recall may be faulty comes at a particularly sensitive time for Comey, who has been trying to convince the public—through the launch of a new book and a whirlwind media tour—that he can be trusted to recall the details of his private conversations with the president….

  104. says

    I’m a bit out of the loop on this thread thanks to a work overload and a visit from out-of-town friends. This situation is likely to prevail for several days. In the meantime, many thanks to other people, especially SC and blf, who are covering all the topics.

  105. says

    I’m a bit out of the loop on this thread thanks to a work overload and a visit from out-of-town friends. This situation is likely to prevail for several days. In the meantime, many thanks to other people, especially SC and blf, who are covering all the topics.

    SC @135, the perfect evidence to show that Trump is a bullshitter and a con artist.

  106. blf says

    Thugs and their lying & stealing, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens charged with felony over charity donor list:

    St Louis prosecutors on Friday charged Missouri Gov Eric Greitens with a felony for using a charity donor list for his 2016 political campaign […].

    The charge of tampering with computer data is in addition to an earlier charge alleging that Greitens took and transmitted a nonconsensual photo of a partially nude woman with whom he had an extramarital affair in 2015.

    The new charge accuses Greitens of disclosing the donor list from the Mission Continues in 2015 without permission from the St Louis-based charity, which he founded.

    The Associated Press first reported in October 2016 that Greitens’ campaign had obtained a list of top donors to the Mission Continues and raised nearly $2 million from donors on the list.

    […]

    Greitens has denied committing any crimes and vowed to remain in office, calling the investigations into his conduct a political witch hunt. On Friday, he accused Circuit Atty Kim Gardner, a Democrat, of wasting thousands and thousands of taxpayer dollars.

    Her original case is falling apart — so today, she’s brought a new one, Greitens said in a statement. By now, everyone knows what this is: this prosecutor will use any charge she can to smear me.

    Missouri Atty Gen Josh Hawley, a Republican whose office has been investigating the Mission Continues, announced Tuesday that he had found evidence to support a felony charge against Greitens, but said it was up to the St Louis circuit attorney’s office to file charges. That office had to move quickly because the statute of limitations was approaching.

    When the Associated Press first reported on the campaign’s access to the charity donor list in 2015, Greitens denied that he had used the list for his campaign. But in April 2017, he agreed to pay a $100 fine for failing to report that his gubernatorial campaign had, in fact, received the list. […]

    The court filing says that Greitens and [an individual identified only as] KT knew the charity donor list had been taken without the permission of the charity and used without its consent. Federal law generally prohibits charities such as the Mission Continues from becoming involved in political campaigns, and the charity has repeatedly denied granting permission for Greitens […] to use the list for political purposes.

    […]

    Greitens’ attorney, Edward L Dowd Jr, said the new charge makes no sense at all, noting that it was Greitens who built the charity and raised millions of dollars for it through an extraordinary act of public service.

    Now he’s being accused of stealing an email list from an organization he built? Give me a break, Dowd said in a statement. Not only did he create this list donor by donor, friend by friend, but the Mission Continues still has the list.

    […]

    Greitens […] and Atty Gen Hawley both won election in 2016 as maverick political outsiders. Hawley is now running to unseat Democratic Sen Claire McCaskill, and Democrats have been running television ads linking Hawley to Greitens. Democrats have criticized Hawley’s earlier investigation that found no wrongdoing in Greitens’ use of a text message-destroying app, and claimed he stepped up his investigation of the charity only after it became politically beneficial.

    In the Legislature, meanwhile, Senate leaders are considering holding off on sending bills to Greitens amid the multiple investigations. Republican Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard and Democratic Minority Floor Leader Gina Walsh have not made a final decision, but Walsh has said she doesn’t believe any bills signed by Greitens should become law.

    I have no idea why Atty Gen Hawley has been investigating Mission Continues or what that “charity” does. According to the short Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge entry, it “empowers veterans facing the challenge of adjusting to life at home to find new missions.”

    Both Greitens and his attorney (Edward L Dowd) seem to be worthy of consideration for positions in hair furor’s dalekocracy. Alls teh bestist peoples!

  107. blf says

    NoRA: activists and stars launch gun control campaign to battle NRA:

    […]
    A group of activists and celebrities have launched a new campaign targeting the National Rifle Association.

    The No Rifle Association Initiative, backed by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida […] and celebrities including […] Jimmy Kimmel, aims to “shine a bright light on the bloody hands of the NRA and the politicians they purchase”.

    […]

    NoRA says it will mobilise people to vote out NRA-funded candidates in the November midterm elections. Its website offers information on registering to vote and contacting lawmakers.

    “We’re going to plaster the nation with the faces of those who take NRA blood money with posters created by iconic artist Bradley Theodore,” a statement said. “We’re going to show up at the NRA convention in Dallas and make them wish they stayed home. We might just sue the pants off the NRA.”

    The activist David Hogg, one of the survivors of the Parkland shooting, has called for a boycott of the investment companies BlackRock and Vanguard.

    The companies are “two of the biggest investors in gun manufacturers; if you use them, feel free to let them know” […], posting the hashtags #boycottvanguard and #boycottblackrock.

    According to CNN, BlackRock is the top shareholder in the gun manufacturers Sturm Ruger and American Outdoor Brands, and the second-largest shareholder in Vista Outdoor (VSTO). Vanguard is the second-biggest Sturm Ruger shareholder.

    […]

    American Outdoor Brands is better known as Smith & Wesson.

    According to Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge, “According to the ATF statistics for 2015, Ruger is currently America’s largest firearm manufacturer, as well as the second largest pistol/revolver manufacturer (behind Smith & Wesson) and rifle manufacturer (behind Remington) in the United States.”

    Remington is currently in chapter 11, suggesting that if they too were boycotted there is a possibly those death dealers could be driven entirely out of business.

  108. blf says

    Follow-up to @154, Trump attacks New York Times journalist over Michael Cohen article (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    Donald Trump lashed out on Saturday at the New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman, after she contributed to a story that suggested his longtime lawyer and fixer might cooperate with federal investigators.

    The New York Times and a third rate reporter named Maggie Habberman {sic} known as a Crooked H{illary Clinton} flunkie who I don’t speak to and have nothing to do with, are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope that he will ‘flip,’ Trump wrote.

    […]

    Haberman responded on Twitter, writing: “When I was reporting this story, I said to one person who’s observed the Cohen-Trump relationship that Trump has been abusive to him. The person replied, ‘He’s abusive to everybody.’”

    […]

    Haberman, who has been called the “Trump whisperer” for her deeply sourced reporting on the president [sic], was part of a team that this week won a Pulitzer prize for national reporting.

    The Pulitzer was awarded jointly with the Washington Post for “deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the president-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration”.

    […]

    “Whenever anyone complains to me about Trump screwing them over, my reflexive response is that person has nothing to complain about compared to Michael,” [a former Trump aide who worked with Cohen. Sam] Nunberg said.

    Trump appeared to refer to Nunberg in his second tweet of the morning: They use non-existent ‘sources’ and a drunk/drugged up loser who hates Michael, a fine person with a wonderful family. Michael is a businessman for his own account/lawyer who I have always liked & respected.

    Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!

    […]

  109. blf says

    Teh hair furor contagion is even killing off the leaches, Lobbyist retires early following Scott Pruitt condo scandal:

    […]
    The fossil-fuels lobbyist tied to a bargain-priced Capitol Hill condo that was leased by Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt is taking early retirement as a result of the scandal.

    […]

    The lobbyist, J Steven Hart, sent an email to friends and colleagues on Friday, announcing that he is leaving Williams and Jensen, the powerhouse Washington lobbying firm where he was chairman.

    Hart, 64,[] said he had been planning to retire in November but intense scrutiny resulting from the unusual rental arrangement with Pruitt had led him to expedite his departure.

    Media reports first disclosed last month that Pruitt paid just $50 a night for the condo to a corporation co-owned by Hart’s wife, who is also a lobbyist, triggering several ethics investigations.

    In his email, Hart attempted to make light of the issue.

    I want to thank so many of you who have taken the time to send me and Vicki notes and flowers as we learned a new and personal meaning of ‘Fake News’ and ‘Real Friends’. he wrote. […]

    Pruitt has described Hart as a friend and insisted that he paid a market rate for the condo. Comparable properties nearby are publicly listed at more than double what he paid.

    From memory, Pruitt (claimed?) he paid the $50 only for the nights he stayed there. I doubt the other properties nearby offer similar terms. In addition (and also from memory), there is no trace of a signed agreement; and also (from memory), a relative of Pruitt stayed in another room under unclear / unknown terms. Both provisions are also unlikely to be available in other nearby properties.

    […]
    Campaign finance records show the lobbyist hosted a 2014 fundraiser for Pruitt’s state re-election effort where more than three dozen OGE executives cut checks, even though he was running without a Democratic opponent.

    OGE Energy is one of Oklahoma’s electric utilities. Pruitt was Oklahoma’s attorney general.

    Once Pruitt arrived at the EPA, copies of his daily calendar obtained by AP through a public records request show he meet with two top OGE executives and a registered lobbyist from Hart’s firm in March 2017, when he was living at the condo.

    In October, the EPA announced it would rewrite the Clean Power Plan, an Obama-era regulation that sought to limit planet-warming carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants like those operated by OGE, which paid Hart’s firm $400,000 in lobbying fees last year.

    […]

      † I normally redact people’s ages unless they seem relevant, as is the case here: Hart is old enough he might not be lying when he said was planning on retiring later this year.

  110. blf says

    Far-right activists block Alps pass used by migrants:

    Around 100 far-right activists on Saturday tried to block a French alpine pass used by migrants in a bid to ensure that no illegal immigrant can return to France.

    Members of the rightwing Generation Identity (GI) movement trudged through the snow up to Col de l’Echelle near the border with Italy where they plan to spend the night.

    […]

    With a little bit of will, we can control immigration and borders, [GI spokesman Romain Espino bellowed].

    […]

    I admit to being tempted to hope they have to deal with an avalanche…

  111. blf says

    Earlier I noticed a new(?) le penazi poster stuck up on one of the local public noticeboards. Paraphrasing (and loosely translating), it claimed Immigration is out of control, France is being overwhelmed. Nothing else, just that alternative-facts scaremongering.

  112. blf says

    Colin Kaepernick honored by Amnesty International for peaceful protest:

    […]
    Amnesty International on Saturday honored Colin Kaepernick with its ambassador of conscience award for 2018, lauding the NFL quarterback’s peaceful protests against racial inequality.

    […]

    Amnesty International secretary general Salil Shetty called Kaepernick “an athlete who is now widely recognized for his activism because of his refusal to ignore or accept racial discrimination”.

    Amnesty hands its award each year to a person or organization “dedicated to fighting injustice and using their talents to inspire others”.

    Previous recipients of the award include […] Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai […].

    “In truth, this is an award that I share with all of the countless people throughout the world combating the human rights violations of police officers, and their uses of oppressive and excessive force,” Kaepernick said.

    Congratulations to Mr Kaepernick.

    Disclaimer: I have been an active supporter / donor to AI for decades, and have worked with AI Ireland on a fund-raising project.

  113. tomh says

    @ 166
    Kaepernick’s conscience is still costing him. The Seattle Seahawks had arranged to bring him in to work out, and probably sign as backup QB, notified him that they wouldn’t need his services when he refused to assure them that he wouldn’t kneel during the Anthem.

  114. blf says

    In the States, More young people are pro-choice […]:

    Two-thirds of young people think abortion should be legal in all or most cases […]

    […] A new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute shows that younger people have markedly more pro-choice views than their older counterparts. Only 44% of younger Americans report that abortion is against their personal beliefs (as opposed to 60% of those over 65 years old), and two-thirds of young people believe that abortion should be legal in most or all cases. […]

    From the New York magazine article, America’s Views on Abortion Are Undergoing a Generational Shift (link embedded in above excerpt; minor editing for formatting reasons (not marked)):

    […] A new survey from Public Religion Research Institute shows increasingly sharp generational splits on all sorts of reproductive rights topics, along with indications that they are becoming more progressive on abortion policy over time. Here’s how PRRI summarizes its findings:

    ● Just 44 percent of young Americans say abortion goes against their personal beliefs, compared to 60 percent of Americans over 65.

    ● Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of young people, compared to 51 percent of seniors, agree that abortion should be legal in most or all cases.

    ● Nearly seven in ten (69 percent) young people, compared to 46 percent of seniors, agree that at least some health care professionals in their community should provide legal abortions.

    And the polarization by generation may be getting more intense:

    ● Approximately one-third of young Americans today say their views on abortion have changed in recent years. Nearly three times as many young Americans say they have become more supportive of abortion rights rather than more opposed (25 percent vs nine percent).

    ● Conversely, seniors (age 65 and up) are twice as likely to say they have become more opposed (12 percent) than more supportive (six percent).

    These trends, if they persist, could also heighten the anti-abortion movement’s sense of urgency about completing its principal project, the reversal or significant curtailing of abortion rights by the U.S. Supreme Court. They are most likely within one SCOTUS Justice of making that a realistic prospect, and the three oldest Justices (Ginsburg, Kennedy, and Breyer) are all part of the fragile pro-choice majority on the Court.

    […]

    The comments on the second excerpted article should perhaps be avoided. A few choice examples:

    ● Young fools might be into abortion until they read some scripture and wake up to the fact that we, individually and as a nation, are murdering little boys and girls because of a belief that benefits can be attained thereby.
      If according to your belief, the unwanted children in the womb do not have human rights, human rights no longer exist, and thus the young no longer understand why murder is wrong or any different then a science experiment. The same philosophies that claim murdering unwanted children in the womb to be morally good are behind the psycho murders of children in the classroom. […]

    ● Way back in the sixties radical feminists coined a spurious ‘right to abortion’ that swept the world with its novelty and quasi-religious zeal.
     […]
      Education has brought us to recognition of the scientifically verifiable humanity of the victims of abortion. […]

    ● Lethal child abuse perpetrated against defenseless children in their mothers’ wombs is everybody’s business.
     […]
      It is shameful that so many have colluded in hiding this massive child abuse behind the pathetic fig leaf of ‘privacy’.

    ● “This is a big part of why liberals have to abandon the impeachment drumbeat and focus on upcoming elections on the federal, state, and local level. The momentary satisfaction of taking down Trump, if that long shot results, means Pence will ascend to make these judicial appointments. He’ll then have the luxury of running as an incumbent, while his blandness merely acts as a facade for his religious militancy.
      Look forward, not back. Get good candidates for every office at every level. Let’s vet our 2020 candidate now and prepare that person to run and govern. The only way Trump will win is if we don’t do our part and put a weak candidate up against him.”

  115. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 136.

    Giuliani brings a lot baggage to his new job on Trump’s legal defense team:

    As a prominent surrogate for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, Rudy Giuliani was an active purveyor of pre-election leaks about the FBI probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails. As a member of Trump’s transition, he played a political role during a period central to Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

    Now, Giuliani is taking on the high-profile job of helping lead Trump’s legal team combating that investigation — and other lawyers say his past activities could present conflicts, depending on how Mueller proceeds.

    “The big problem here is how likely is he to become a witness in the case, whether it be in a grand jury or otherwise,” said Loyola Law School professor Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor. “You can’t be a witness and a lawyer in the same case. That’s the big sticking point.” […]

    Another issue of potential conflict: Giuliani’s effort to broker a deal to resolve the case of Turkish-Iranian gold dealer Reza Zarrab, who was accused of violating U.S. law by helping Iran evade economic sanctions related to its nuclear program. Giuliani revealed in an affidavit filed last April that he met with Turkish President Recep Erdogan in an effort to resolve Zarrab’s case as part of “some agreement between the United States and Turkey that will promote the national security interests of the United States.”

    NBC News reported last November that Mueller was investigating whether fired National Security Adviser Flynn was also involved in trying to end the U.S. prosecution of Zarrab. A few weeks after the NBC report, Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to investigators and agreed to cooperate with Mueller. In the plea deal, Flynn admitted to making false statements about his work related to Turkey. […]

    Link

    More at the link.

  116. blf says

    The nasty party in the UK is copying yet another thug tactic based on a very similar use of alternative facts, Tories in new race row over identity checks for elections:

    […]
    Government plans that will force people to prove their identities at polling stations in May’s [next month’s†] local elections risk disenfranchising members of ethnic minority communities, according to a leaked letter to ministers from the equality and human rights watchdog.

    […]

    Under the new government voting rules, being trialled in several local authorities at the 3 May local elections, people will be asked at polling stations to produce documents proving their identity — such as a passport or driving licence — before casting their vote. Currently, no such proof is required.

    The Windrush scandal [see @155] has highlighted how many who came to this country from the Caribbean, mainly in the late 1950s, have struggled to prove their British citizenship because the authorities failed to register them or destroyed their landing cards, or because they have never applied for documents such as passports.

    Ministers say the pilot projects are being run […] in response to concerns about electoral fraud.

    But in a letter to [Cabinet Office minister David] Lidington […] the EHRC [Equality and Human Rights Commission] says evidence of supposed fraud is minimal and warns that there is a real risk that legal residents who might not have a passport or driving licence — or might be reluctant to produce them at polling stations — could be disenfranchised as a result.

    In the letter, the EHRC’s legal officer, Claire Collier, tells Lidington: “The Commission is concerned that the requirement to produce identification at the given local elections […] will have a disproportionate impact on voters with protected characteristics, particularly older people, transgender people, people with disabilities and/or those from ethnic minority communities. In essence, there is a concern that some voters will be disenfranchised as a result of restrictive identification requirements.”

    […]

    The UK’s own Electoral Commission reports on just how rare voting fraud is, Electoral fraud data and analysis (minor edits for format (not marked); my emboldening):

    Headline figures from data on cases of alleged electoral fraud in 2017 are:

    ● As of 31 January 2018, there has been one conviction which was in connection with an allegation of personation in polling stations.

    Suspects in eight cases had accepted police cautions:

    ● Four were in relation to registration offences
    ● Two were personation when voting by post
    ● One a false statement on a nomination form
    ● One return of election expenses.
    […]
    Almost half (165 cases) of all cases of alleged electoral fraud reported were campaign offences. The majority of these were imprint offences (96 cases).

    Only 104 cases in total — in 2017, a year when there was a general election — were “voting”. The full report, Analysis of cases of alleged electoral fraud in the UK in 2017 (PDF) provides a fuller breakdown of those cases:

    Our analysis shows that 31% of all reported cases of alleged electoral fraud (104 cases) relate to alleged voting offences. [… T]he most frequently reported types of voting case related to the offence of personation (voting as someone else) either at a polling station (28 cases), using a postal vote (22 cases) or using a proxy vote (13 cases). A further 14 cases related to the offence of undue influence.

    The remaining voting cases related to attempts to tamper with ballot papers (three cases), breaches of secrecy requirements (eight cases), alleged bribery (eight cases) and treating — providing food or drink to influence a voter to vote in a particular way (eight cases).

    The report goes on to note that 74 of those 104 cases resulting in no further action (no crime, insufficient evidence, …). It’s worth nothing that only 28 cases in the entirety of the UK were “personation” — the sort of thing showing an ID might make more difficult — leading to grand total of one conviction. (I suppose it might also caught illegal “proxy” voting — a legal means for having another person cast your vote — adding all of 13 more cases.)

    This does look straight out the States-side thug strategy of voter suppression to “solve” an essentially non-existent problem.

      † Next month is, of course, May — which also happens to be the surname of the current UK PM, Theresa May. Whilst this shouldn’t be confusing, I though I’d better note the potential for confusion, however remote.

  117. blf says

    Texas eighth-graders asked to list positives of slavery; charter school chief apologizes:

    A San Antonio charter school has apologized after a teacher asked students in an eighth-grade American history class to list the positive and negative aspects of slavery.

    The Great Hearts Monte Vista teacher who distributed the worksheet titled The Life of Slaves: A Balanced View was placed on leave and the school said it would audit the textbook associated with the lesson, said Aaron Kindel, the superintendent of Great Hearts Texas, which operates 28 public charter schools in Texas and Arizona.

    “To be clear, there is no debate about slavery. It is immoral and a crime against humanity,” Kindel said in a statement posted Thursday on the Great Hearts Facebook page. He said the school’s headmaster plans to explain the mistake to the history class.

    Scott Overland, a spokesman for Pearson, which published the textbook, said the company didn’t create and doesn’t endorse the worksheet assigned to the students […]

    I haven’t been able to find any images of the entire worksheet, so I’m currently tempted to give textbook publishers Pearson the benefit of the doubt (as in “Nothing to do with this textbook”). But I’m not. They have a “history”. For instance, as Newsweek reports (Homework Assignment Asks Students to List ‘Positive Aspects’ of Life as a Slave):

    Titled The Life of Slaves: A Balanced View, the worksheet featured two columns, in which students were told to list the positive aspects and “negative aspects” of living life as a slave. The homework, assigned in an eighth-grade American history class at Great Hearts Monte Vista, was pulled from the textbook, according to the school — a claim Pearson, its manufacturer, denies.

    […]

    It’s not the first time Pearson, one of the largest manufacturers of school textbooks, has been accused of racial insensitivity. In 2017, a nursing student blasted the company for including stereotypical depictions of race in its book.

    Hispanics may believe that pain is a form of punishment and that suffering must be endured if they are to enter heaven, the book said. Jews may be vocal and demanding of assistance.

    Pearson leaders apologized in a video tweet and removed the content from its books.

    According to the original report in the San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio school responds to assignment asking students to list ‘positives’ of slavery, the textbook in this latest incident is “Prentice Hall Classics: A History of the United States” (no information on the edition). I have not been able to find anyone who was actually looked at the textbook or its associated teaching materials.

    It is also possible Great Hearts may themselves have a “history”. As one example (of several), this blogger claims (Could You List the ‘Positive Aspects’ of Slavery? A Teacher Asked 8th-Graders to Do So):

    The teacher of the class said she was only teaching from a textbook: Prentice Hall Classics: A History of the United States, but after an outcry from parents, the book was removed while the school district conducts an investigation. I looked in Great Heart’s school manual and “investigation” is defined as: A bullshit tactic used to stall people until their low attention spans force them to forget why they are angry.

    No links or other details are provided, and I haven’t been able to verify — or to refute — that claim.

  118. blf says

    Follow-up to @163 and numerous previous comments, EPA chief Scott Pruitt did meet lobbyist linked to condo lease, despite denials:

    ● Pruitt and Steven Hart both denied any recent business
    ● Two men met at EPA HQ in July 2017 to discuss Chesapeake Bay

    Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt met in his office last year with a veteran Washington lobbyist tied to the bargain-priced condo where Pruitt was living.

    Both Pruitt and lobbyist Steven Hart had previously denied Hart had conducted any recent business with EPA.

    A spokesman for Hart confirmed on Saturday that the lobbyist met Pruitt at EPA headquarters in July 2017 to discuss efforts to preserve the Chesapeake Bay.

    The admission about the meeting came after the lobbying firm Williams & Jensen filed a new disclosure report late on Friday, hours after Hart announced his early retirement as chairman. The firm’s filing, first reported by the Hill, says Hart lobbied EPA during the first quarter of 2018 on behalf of Smithfield Foods.

    The world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield has been involved with efforts to clean up the bay since EPA fined the company $12.6m in 1997 for illegally dumping hog waste into a tributary.

    […]

    On Pruitt’s 2017 lease, a copy of which was reviewed by AP, Steven Hart’s name was originally typed in as “landlord” but was scratched out. The name of his wife, health care lobbyist Vicki Hart, was scribbled in.

    That contradicts my claim in @163 “([…] from memory), there is no trace of a signed agreement” regarding the condo. Apologies.

    Pruitt’s public calendar shows the meet at EPA headquarters on 11 July with the Smithfield Foundation, the pork-producer’s philanthropic arm. The calendar entry does not include a list of attendees. Pruitt’s calendar does not disclose any 2018 meetings with Smithfield or its affiliates, the period covered by the report filed by Williams & Jensen.

    Hart’s spokesman, Ryan Williams, confirmed on Saturday that the lobbyist met Pruitt at EPA in July. In a statement, Hart disputed the legal filing made by his former firm.

    There is then loads of argy-bargy in the cited article about who did what when on behalf of whom.

  119. blf says

    Yet another form of thug voter suppression, this time by completely denying the vote to everyone, Arizona Republicans seek law change in case John McCain seat in play:

    GOP move would change state’s process for replacing members of Congress who resign or die in office

    Arizona lawmakers [sic] are debating legislation that would keep John McCain’s Senate successor off the ballot in November’s midterm elections, should the seat become open before the end of next month.

    The bill, which could come up for a vote this week, would change the state’s process for replacing members of Congress who resign or die in office. […]

    […]

    State Democrats accused Republicans of playing politics with the bill by trying to eliminate the possibility of two open US Senate seats in a year when the state could determine control of Congress. […]

    Arizona Republicans are already defending the seat that will be vacated by retiring senator Jeff Flake. The battle to replace him is expected to be one of the fiercest — and most expensive — midterm races.

    […]

    In the event McCain’s seat becomes open, Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican also up for re-election this year, will make an appointment. The seat would appear on the next general election ballot.

    The Arizona secretary of state’s office has said that if the vacancy occurs before 31 May, voters will elect a new senator in this year’s general election. If the seat opens after that date, the appointee will serve through 2020.

    By introducing an emergency clause to the bill concerning succession to vacated congressional seats, state senate Republicans proposed changing that deadline to 150 days prior to a regular primary election, or 31 March of this year. That would ensure that McCain’s seat did not appear on the ballot in November.

    […]

  120. blf says

    Intipuca: A town that relies on remittances braces for end of TPS:

    Residents of eastern El Salvador town worry about how they will survive after the end of US Temporary Protected Status.
    […]
    Intipuca runs on remittances, but after the United States recently announced the end to temporary protected status [TPS] for Salvadorans, anxiety is high in the town.

    “If there were no more remittances to Intipuca, it would be chaos,” Jose Santos Portillo Benitez, the mayor of Intipuca, told Al Jazeera.

    About half of Intipuca’s population has migrated to the US, earning the town the nickname of the “Most Gringo Town in El Salvador”.

    Most residents are receiving money sent from a parent, sibling, son or daughter in the US.

    Money sent from abroad pays for medicine, schooling and development projects in the town.

    Remittances give a boost to the local economy, which relies on purchases made with money sent from abroad.

    Even a small decrease in remittances would be bad news for Intipuca, the mayor said. It would mean less school enrollment, cuts to cultural programmes and a slump for small businesses, he added.

    […]

    Unless US Congress passes legislation to provide an alternative migration status for these TPS holders, they will be expected to leave the country by September 2019.

    […]

    Families all over El Salvador have relied on remittances to improve their living conditions. In El Salvador, 41 percent of the population lives in poverty, according to the World Bank. Remittances reduce poverty in the small Central American nation of 6.5 million.

    […]

    Much of the development in Intipuca has been supported by remittances, both directly, sent straight to family members and indirectly, by contributing to the local economy overall.

    […]

  121. says

    “Michael Cohen case shines light on Sean Hannity’s real estate empire”:

    When Sean Hannity was named in court this week as a client of Donald Trump’s embattled legal fixer Michael Cohen, the Fox News host insisted their discussions had been limited to the subject of buying property.

    “I’ve said many times on my radio show: I hate the stock market, I prefer real estate. Michael knows real estate,” Hannity said on television, a few hours after the dramatic hearing in Manhattan, where Cohen is under criminal investigation.

    Hannity’s chosen investment strategy is confirmed by thousands of pages of public records reviewed by the Guardian, which detail a real estate portfolio of remarkable scale that has not previously been reported.

    The records link Hannity to a group of shell companies that spent at least $90m on more than 870 homes in seven states over the past decade. The properties range from luxurious mansions to rentals for low-income families. Hannity is the hidden owner behind some of the shell companies and his attorney did not dispute that he owns all of them.

    Dozens of the properties were bought at a discount in 2013, after banks foreclosed on their previous owners for defaulting on mortgages. Before and after then, Hannity sharply criticised Barack Obama for the US foreclosure rate. In January 2016, Hannity said there were “millions more Americans suffering under this president” partly because of foreclosures.

    Hannity, 56, also amassed part of his property collection with support from the US Department for Housing and Urban Development (Hud), a fact he did not disclose when praising Ben Carson, the Hud secretary, on his television show last year….

    “Christopher Reeves, Hannity’s real estate attorney, said in an email he would ‘struggle to find any relevance’ in Hannity’s property holdings, which he said were highly confidential.” LOL.

  122. says

    “Stormy Daniels’s former lawyer said to be cooperating with federal probe of Michael Cohen”:

    Keith Davidson, the former attorney for two women who were paid to keep quiet about their alleged affairs with Donald Trump, has been contacted by federal authorities investigating Trump attorney Michael Cohen and is cooperating with them, a spokesman for Davidson confirmed.

    Davidson was asked to provide “certain limited electronic information” for the probe led by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, spokesman Dave Wedge said. “He has done so and will continue to cooperate to the fullest extent possible under the law,” Wedge said in a statement Friday.

    According to CNN, the records seized from Cohen included tapes that he recorded of conversations with Davidson. Wedge said that the lawyer never consented to any recordings of his conversations with Cohen and that if such tapes exist, “Davidson will pursue all his legal rights under the law…”

    Michael Avenatii said in an interview over the weekend that Davidson’s cooperation wasn’t really voluntary.

  123. says

    “Kellyanne Conway Loses It on CNN’s Dana Bash for Asking About Husband’s Anti-Trump Tweets”:

    Dana Bash said it was supposed to be a “somewhat lighthearted” question. Kellyanne Conway did not take it that way.

    Toward the end of a long interview during which Conway dodged question after question about her boss’ legal troubles, Bash asked her, “What is up with your husband’s tweets?”

    Conway’s permanent smile began to fade ever so slightly as Bash explained that George Conway, a prominent lawyer, has been surprisingly critical of President Donald Trump on Twitter over the past year and a half….

    After somehow working in yet another dig at Hillary Clinton, Conway told Bash, “It’s fascinating to me that CNN would go there. But it’s very good for the whole world to just witness that it’s now fair game how people’s spouses and significant others may differ with them. I’m really surprised, but very, in some ways, relieved and gratified to see that.”

    …When Bash said she wasn’t trying to be “critical,” Conway said, “Of course it was, it was meant to harass and embarrass.”

    “By definition, spouses have a difference of opinion when adultery is happening,” Conway added, cryptically. “By definition, spouses have a difference of opinion when one is, I don’t know, draining the joint bank account to support things that maybe the other disagrees with. So this is a fascinating ‘cross the Rubicon’ moment and I’ll leave it at that.”

    “Kellyanne, here was my whole point in this, is that you are a professional working for the president of the United States and your husband is a very well-respected lawyer,” Bash told her, “and my point is that we don’t often see—in fact, I don’t remember the last time we saw—somebody working for the president in a high-profile position when their spouse is saying critical things about them. That is all.”

    Of course, this being Kellyanne Conway, that was not all. “CNN chose to go there,” she said. “I think that’s going to be fascinating moving forward.” In her next breath, Conway was defending her boss for calling the wife of his former Deputy Director FBI Director Andrew McCabe a “loser.”

    The best part is that after the interview and throughout the day, Conway’s husband continued to tweet the same sorts of things Bash was asking about, including retweets of this, this, and this. Kellyanne Conway could easily have said something like, “We’re married but that doesn’t mean we share a brain. I don’t have time to follow his social media posts closely, but he’s an independent person with his own mind.” That she became so strangely unwound at the question (and that the tweets continued) is suggestive of something.

    I didn’t see that interview (and wouldn’t watch any interview with K. Conway in any case), but Bash’s questioning of Bob Corker was so funny I had to rewind it to watch again.

  124. says

    “Sessions told White House that Rosenstein’s firing could prompt his departure, too”:

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently told the White House he might have to leave his job if President Trump fired his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein, who oversees the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the exchange.

    Sessions made his position known in a phone call to White House counsel Donald McGahn last weekend, as Trump’s fury at Rosenstein peaked after the deputy attorney general approved the FBI’s raid April 9 on the president’s personal attorney Michael Cohen.

    Sessions’s message to the White House, which has not previously been reported, underscores the political firestorm that Trump would invite should he attempt to remove the deputy attorney general. While Trump also has railed against Sessions at times, the protest resignation of an attorney general — which would be likely to incite other departures within the administration — would create a moment of profound crisis for the White House.

    As of Friday afternoon, more than 800 former Justice Department employees had signed an open letter calling on Congress to “swiftly and forcefully respond to protect the founding principles of our Republic and the rule of law” if Trump were to fire the deputy attorney general, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III or other senior Justice Department officials. The group MoveOn.org has sought to organize nationwide protests if such an event were to occur.

    A senior administration official said Sessions does not like the way Rosenstein has been treated by the president and had expressed such concerns for months. He has regularly sought guidance from the White House about Rosenstein’s standing with the president and asked about his interactions with Trump, this official said.

    But Sessions has had little ability to do anything about it, given his own shaky standing with Trump for recusing himself from the Russia investigation, this official said. Trump has, at times, referred to Sessions as “Mr. Magoo” and Rosenstein as “Mr. Peepers,” a character from a 1950s sitcom, according to people with whom the president has spoken….

  125. says

    NYT oped by Peter Fritsch and Glenn Simpson – “The Business Deals That Could Imperil Trump”:

    Put aside Russian collusion for a moment. Press pause on possible presidential obstruction of justice. Forget Stormy Daniels. The most significant recent development involving the president may be that the special counsel, Robert Mueller, has subpoenaed Trump Organization business records as part of his inquiry into Russian interference in the presidential election.*

    Those documents — and records recently seized by the F.B.I. from the president’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen — might answer a question raised by the president’s critics: Have certain real estate investors used Trump-branded properties to launder the proceeds of criminal activity around the world?

    We pored over Donald Trump’s business records for well over a year, at least those records you can get without a badge or a subpoena. We also hired a former British intelligence official, Christopher Steele, to look into Mr. Trump’s possible ties to Russia. In that 2015-2016 investigation, sponsored first by a Republican client and then by Democrats, we found strong indications that companies affiliated with Mr. Trump, then a presidential candidate, might have been entangled in foreign corruption.

    A string of bankruptcies in the 1990s and 2000s may have left Mr. Trump’s companies largely unable to tap traditional sources of financing. That could have forced him to look elsewhere for financing and partners at a time when money was pouring out of the former Soviet Union.

    Indeed, from New York to Florida, Panama to Azerbaijan, we found that Trump projects have relied heavily on foreign cash — including from wealthy individuals from Russia and elsewhere with questionable, and even criminal, backgrounds. We saw money traveling through offshore shell companies, entities often used to obscure ownership. Many news organizations have since dug deeply into the Trump Organization’s projects and come away with similar findings….

    More at the link.

    * This framing is tired and annoying – there’s no reason to think the investigations are wholly unrelated, and presenting them like this just plays into erroneous claims that Mueller is exceeding his mandate.

  126. says

    “John Bolton chaired anti-Muslim think tank”:

    John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, chaired a nonprofit that has promoted misleading and false anti-Muslim news, some of which was amplified by a Russian troll factory, an NBC News review found.

    The group’s authors also appeared on Russian media, including Sputnik and RT News, criticizing mainstream European leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron.

    From 2013 until last month, Bolton was chairman of the Gatestone Institute, a New York-based advocacy group that warns of a looming “jihadist takeover” of Europe leading to a “Great White Death.”

    The group has published numerous stories and headlines on its website with similar themes. “Germany Confiscating Homes to Use for Migrants,” warned one from May 2017, about a single apartment rental property in Hamburg that had gone into temporary trusteeship. Another from February 2015 claimed the immigrants, for instance Somalis, in Sweden were turning that country into the “Rape Capital of the West.”

    Gatestone’s president, Sears Roebuck heiress Nina Rosenwald, said in an email that Bolton was not involved in any of the articles and that Gatestone has no knowledge of Russian trolls having promoted its work.

    NBC News found at least four instances of known Russian trolls directly re-tweeting from the Gatestone account, according to an NBC News database of deleted tweets sent by Russian trolls. The stories were sent by trolls identified by Twitter as working for the Kremlin-linked Internet Research Agency.

    Rosenwald is vice president of the William Rosenwald Family Fund, which funds a host of pro-Israel groups including the Middle East Forum. She has also sat on the board of a number of mainstream pro-Israel organizations and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

    Gatestone has also received financial backing from Robert and Rebekah Mercer, the billionaire father-daughter team who have supported conservative candidates in the U.S. including Cruz and Trump….

    In an archived 2017 web page, Rebekah Mercer was listed as a member of the Gatestone Board of Governors….

    A search of articles on Sputnik, the Russian government-controlled news agency, turns up three web pages of Gatestone citations….

  127. says

    SC @188, the Mercers, Russian trolls, Russian TV, John Bolton, anti-Muslim “news” … it’s all of a piece. More of the swamp in which Trump swims. No good can come of this.

  128. says

    “U.S. mulls sanctions reprieve for Rusal, rocking aluminum prices”:

    The United States on Monday opened the door to sanctions relief for United Company Rusal Plc as it considered the Russian aluminum giant’s bid to avoid U.S. sanctions and weighed the potential impact of such measures on American allies and partners.

    The news shook the metals industry, sending aluminum prices down as much as 10 percent after the U.S. Treasury Department announcement.

    Shares in Rusal, one of the world’s largest aluminum companies, rose 13 percent on the Moscow Exchange after the announcement after earlier ending down 8.4 percent in Hong Kong trading. Shares of its U.S. rival Alcoa Corp were down 11 percent in morning trading.

    In a statement, the U.S. Treasury Department said Americans have until Oct. 23 to wind down their business with Rusal and that the United States was not trying to harm those who depend on the company. The previous deadline was June 5.

    It also said it would not impose secondary sanctions on non-U.S. entities engaged with Rusal or its subsidiaries.

    “RUSAL has felt the impact of U.S. sanctions because of its entanglement with Oleg Deripaska, but the U.S. government is not targeting the hardworking people who depend on RUSAL and its subsidiaries,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

    The United States could provide sanctions relief if Deripaska ceded control of the company, the department said….

  129. says

    Lynna @ #192:

    SC @188, the Mercers, Russian trolls, Russian TV, John Bolton, anti-Muslim “news” … it’s all of a piece. More of the swamp in which Trump swims. No good can come of this.

    True. I believe there’s much more to be revealed about Kremlin efforts to use/influence/infiltrate/partner with political organizations well beyond the NRA. Political groups, religious groups, think tanks, media, issue organizations,…

  130. says

    “Republican National Committee Spent $225K at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Resort Just Last Month”:

    The Republican National Committee spent more than $224,000 at President Donald Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club in March, according to newly filed FEC reports. The expenditures, which were for rental and catering fees, were to cover the costs of an RNC fundraiser there early in the month. It was, far and away, the largest amount that the committee has spent at that specific Trump property (in January, the RNC spent $62,700 at Mar-a-Lago) and it is a reflection of how the president’s private business holdings continue to be intertwined with his political activities….

  131. says

    SC @194,

    True. I believe there’s much more to be revealed about Kremlin efforts to use/influence/infiltrate/partner with political organizations well beyond the NRA. Political groups, religious groups, think tanks, media, issue organizations,

    Agreed. I think Mueller’s investigation is, in part, focusing on that larger picture. It will take a lot of facts and a really damning report from Mueller to make a dent in the “deep state” narrative from Trump’s supporters. I don’t know at this point if that battle against ignorance and misinformation can be won.

  132. says

    “Hannity Says He Didn’t Personally Discuss Real Estate Loans With HUD.”

    Hannity somehow bought the properties to help poor communities – why, it’s almost a public service! – without having anything to do with the transactions.

    Hannity also appeared to take issue with The Guardian’s description of the LLCs used to purchase the properties as “shell companies.”

    “The LLC’s are REAL companies that spend real investment money on real properties,” the Fox News host said in a statement.

    There were more than 20 of them. Also, his property holdings are “highly confidential.”

    Perfectly legit.

  133. says

    Well this tells us a lot about how the Republicans are going to run their midterm races:

    The congressional special election in Arizona’s 8th district is tomorrow, and the latest robocall from a Republican super PAC mentions Nancy Pelosi’s name three times. It doesn’t mention Hiral Tipirneni, the Democratic candidate in this race, at all.

    Some tentatively good news from a Missouri senate race:

    The latest statewide poll in Missouri found incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) with a small lead over state Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), 48% to 44%.

  134. says

    MSNBC is now showing live coverage and commentary on royals leaving the hospital with their new baby, just before a Sarah Huckabee Sanders lying session. So depressing. I’m feeling the need for an indictment.

  135. says

    From The Atlantic’s David Graham:

    […] Even [Michael] Cohen, in his frantic effort to demonstrate his loyalty, has made the error. “I’d rather jump out of a building than turn on Donald Trump,” he told Donnie Deustch.

    Turn on him with what, exactly? As Chait and Barro write, these people are at least aspirationally standing up for Trump, and yet their comments have a clear subtext of guilt. They all start with the premise that Trump has something to hide. You can’t flip on someone unless you’ve got something to offer prosecutors. Usually, the defenders of suspects in prosecutors’ cross-hairs loudly proclaim their innocence, and insist that the investigation will ultimately vindicate them. But Trump’s chorus is singing from a different hymnal. […]

    As was noted upthread, other “friends” of Trump have assumed that both Cohen and Trump are guilty. Trump himself assumed guilt of some kind when he tweeted:

    Most people will flip if the Government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories. Sorry, I don’t see Michael doing that despite the horrible Witch Hunt and the dishonest media!

    Okay, good. We’re all on the same page there.

  136. says

    This is a worthwhile discussion of RICO related to the DNC lawsuit @ #s 143-5 and 147 above.

    However, I’m becoming increasingly angry about how all of this is talked about. The politics, the legal possibilities for the suit, potential interference with the Mueller investigation… I feel like not enough people are talking about, or have ever talked about, the fact that the Democrats were the victims of a serious crime. They were grievously harmed politically, financially, and in many cases personally as the result of the actions of a criminal conspiracy (orchestrated by a foreign regime that wants to take down the US political system). The statement of harms in the lawsuit doesn’t do justice to the actual harms inflicted. Their domestic political opponents refused to acknowledge the crime even as they knew it was ongoing and in some cases cooperated with it for their own advantage. Many of them participated, in tandem with the Kremlin, in falsely blaming the crime on a young Democratic staffer who had been murdered and his brother despite his family’s pleas for them to stop smearing their innocent relatives. Republicans continue to provide cover for the criminals, to undermine the criminal and counterintelligence investigation, and to leave the door open for present and future crimes. It’s utterly fucking outrageous.

  137. says

    “Waffle House hero wrestled gun from shooter. The next day, he raised more than $24,000 for the victims’ families.”:

    James Shaw Jr. single-handedly wrestled an AR-15 from a man at a Waffle House who had just gone on a shooting rampage in Antioch, Tenn., early Sunday, killing four people.

    Shaw said he didn’t consider it heroic when he rushed at the man, took his gun and pushed him out of the restaurant. Shaw was getting breakfast with a friend at the time.

    “I’m not a hero. I’m just a regular person, and I think anybody could have did what I did if they are just pushed into that kind of cage,” he said, growing emotional, at a news conference Sunday. “You have to either react or you’re going to fold, and I chose to react because I didn’t see any other way of living, and that’s all I wanted to do. I just wanted to live.”

    After saving the lives of the other customers and the staff at the Waffle House on Sunday, Shaw was soon under the media spotlight, telling his story and answering questions. He also was recovering from a gunshot wound and burns from grabbing the gun’s barrel.

    But he wanted to do more for the victims’ families. So he organized a fundraiser. By Monday morning, Shaw had raised more than $24,000 for the victims and their families through a GoFundMe page….

  138. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Lynna informs us: “The congressional special election in Arizona’s 8th district is tomorrow, and the latest robocall from a Republican super PAC mentions Nancy Pelosi’s name three times.”

    They had best be careful, lest they summon her…

  139. says

    a_ray @205. Ha! Perfect. Thanks for the laugh.

    In other news, Trump seems determined to scuttle, (or to at least make more difficult), the upcoming talks with North Korea. And he is damaging his chances of success via Twitter, of course:

    Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd of Fake News NBC just stated that we have given up so much in our negotiations with North Korea, and they have given up nothing. Wow, we haven’t given up anything & they have agreed to denuclearization (so great for World), site closure, & no more testing!

    Analysis from Steve Benen, (putting aside Trump’s childish taunts re Chuck Todd):

    […] he [Trump] says the United States hasn’t “given up anything.” That’s plainly false. For decades, North Korean dictators have sought meetings with American presidents in order to raise the legitimacy and stature of the rogue regime. Trump’s predecessors — in both parties — easily could’ve agreed to a meeting like this, but they balked at giving the dictators what they wanted. Trump, meanwhile, agreed to such a meeting without any real forethought, deliberations, or strategy.

    What’s more, the Republican boasted yesterday that North Korean officials “have agreed to denuclearization.” That’s not even close to being true, and if Trump thinks he’s correct, he’s alarmingly ignorant about events he needs to understand. North Korea, in reality, has agreed to make this issue a part of the negotiations, but the gap between Kim Jong-un agreeing to give up his nuclear arsenal and Kim Jong-un agreeing to talk about giving up his nuclear arsenal is a chasm.

    It’s true that North Korea announced on Friday that it’s pausing its nuclear and missile tests ahead of its talks with Trump, and that’s certainly good news. It’s also true, however, that there’s no need for the United States to see this as a major concession: as far as Kim Jong-un is concerned, the pause is temporary; it can be renewed at any time […]

    One need not be an expert in game theory to understand how the strategy should play out from the perspective of the United States: before we reach the table to engage in diplomacy, we should give the impression that we’ve already made important concessions and we expect North Korea to make comparable gestures.

    Trump, whose understanding of negotiating and deal-making has been greatly exaggerated, is doing the opposite, telling the world before talks even begin that he believes North Korea has taken dramatic steps and the United States has done nothing. […]

  140. says

    Nope, nobody is in charge of policy.

    […] when staff secretary Rob Porter was forced to resign over domestic-abuse allegations, Chris Liddell took on some of Porter’s responsibilities.

    People familiar with Liddell’s approach said he is working to expand the decision-making processes put in place by Porter…. But it’s unclear whether Liddell, a New Zealand-born former corporate executive, has enough sway with the president to successfully caution him against rash moves.

    “Chris Liddell is not a policy guy,” said the former administration official.

    Jon Chait noticed the problem: Chris Liddell’s current title is deputy White House chief of staff for policy. […]

    Link

  141. says

    SC @207, as you probably noticed, Travis Reinking, who shot and killed four young people of color at a Waffle House in Tennessee, has described himself as a “sovereign citizen.” From the Southern Poverty Law Center:

    […] Sovereign citizens believe that they — not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials — get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore. […] sovereign-citizen extremists [comprise] a domestic terrorist movement […]

    Six law enforcement officers have been murdered by “sovereign citizens” since 2000.

  142. says

    “How the Border Patrol Faked Statistics Showing a 73 Percent Rise in Assaults Against Agents”:

    …A review of the LEOKA data shows that for years, the number of assaults on Border Patrol agents reported to the FBI exactly matched the figure published by CBP. In 2012, for instance, CBP reported 555 assaults on Border Patrol agents, and the FBI’s LEOKA website listed 555 as well. The next year, 2013, both agencies again used the same figure: 468. In 2014, the numbers were also identical: 373. When the Border Patrol published the number of assaults during those years, it meant “officers assaulted.”

    Then, with no public discussion, the agency apparently veered sharply from traditional reporting practices to a new system that counts the number of agents assaulted during an incident, then multiplies that figure by the number of perpetrators and the weapons used, thus neatly reversing the downward trend on the number of assaults.

    Rather than a picture of increasing violence against Border Patrol agents, what emerges from the FBI’s data is that the Border Patrol’s job has never been safer. The decrease was so significant that by 2016, according to FBI statistics, Border Patrol agents were about five times less likely to be assaulted than officers in local police departments — and only half as likely to be killed on the job by homicide or by accident. As the Cato Institute observed in November, “Regular Americans are more than twice as likely to be murdered in any year from 2003 through 2017 than Border Patrol agents were.” But even as Border Patrol work was getting safer, the agency began manipulating its data to claim increasing danger and advance a political agenda.

    The FBI will not be publishing its 2017 “officers assaulted” number for CBP until late May and declined to provide it to The Intercept. CBP also refused. Meanwhile, the agency continues to cite its inflated statistics, and the phony numbers continue to be used to justify Trump’s agenda. At the Department of Homeland Security’s 15th anniversary celebration in March, Vice President Mike Pence talked about why the Border Patrol needs $21 billion in additional funding “to provide our front-line agents with the personnel, the technology, the equipment, and the facilities to do their job.”

    Pence said all this was needed because “one of the most shocking stories we heard was in the last fiscal year” when “attacks on our Border Patrol agents had increased by 73 percent.” This, he added, was why the Trump administration was seeking $18 billion for a border wall.

    “And we will build that wall,” Pence thundered, “for the American people and our security.”

  143. says

    From Colorado, a story of deregulation gone wrong:

    […] Community groups in Globeville, Swansea and Elyria this week petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency to require Colorado health officials to set a limit that protects people and at least require Suncor to disclose emissions of the gas to local emergency responders.

    CDPHE air quality control officials in January approved a change to Suncor’s air pollution permit that exempts the company from a federal requirement to disclose hydrogen cyanide emissions. The officials set an emissions limit of 12.8 tons a year — higher than the 8.5 tons Suncor reported it emits — for the purpose of letting Suncor use a legal loophole that lets companies with permitted limits avoid disclosure of those emissions, a state document shows. […]

    Denver Post link

    Suncor is spewing 8.5 tons of hydrogen cyanide gas per year over the poorest neighborhoods of Denver. Poisoning poor people.

  144. KG says

    SC@200,

    As someone at an organising meeting I just came back from said, the royals are going to have to churn out a lot more marriages and a lot more babies to distract from Brexit, Windrush, young people unable to either buy or rent decent homes, NHS in crisis…

  145. KG says

    …and as the same person just emailed to me:

    UNEMPLOYED PARENTS LIVING OFF STATE BENEFITS BRING THIRD CHILD INTO THE WORLD

  146. blf says

    In the UK, Home Office data exemption sparks fears of further Windrush scandals:

    […]
    The Home Office is to be given sweeping data protection exemptions that will prevent anyone seeking information about their immigration status in future, campaigners for the Windrush generation are warning.

    The changes due to be brought in by the data protection bill will deprive applicants of a reliable means of obtaining files about themselves from the department through what are known as subject access requests.

    Challenging the Home Office’s notoriously poor decision-making in immigration cases will become far more difficult and result in miscarriages of justice, civil rights groups, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI), lawyers and political opponents allege.

    The legislation will also lower data protection standards for the Home Office, according to campaigners, so it no longer needs to handle data ‘lawfully, fairly and in a transaparent way”. It would not prevent the destruction of vital records such as Windrush-generation landing cards, for example.

    Data will be able to be shared secretly between public services, such as the NHS, and the Home Office, more easily under the bill, it has been claimed.

    What that last excerpted paragraph really means is NHS data will be available to the police and other goon squads. Which, in part, is a backdoor attempt to deny NHS services to people officialdom doesn’t like: Try to get medical care under the NHS and we will come and get / harass you!

    […]
    Gracie Bradley, advocacy officer for the human rights organisation Liberty, said:“If the data protection bill’s ‘immigration exemption’ becomes law, it will be near-impossible to challenge poor decision-making in immigration cases, or prevent the Home Office destroying evidence that could help people prove their right to be here.

    “And immigration enforcement teams will find it even easier to secretly access confidential information collected by trusted public services like schools and hospitals.”

    Both main legal professional bodies, the Law Society, which represents solicitors across England and Wales, as well as the Bar Council, which represents barristers, have backed the warnings.

    […]

    If the department make a mistake in an application for settled status, the organisations say, individuals will be unable to obtain the data to see how the rejection decision was arrived at, leaving them unable to fight to have their legitimate right to be in the country reinstated.

    […]

    Meanwhile, the UK “government” is currently trying to figure out how this Duck Tape thing works so it can pretend to “fix” the Windrush scandal (see @155), Windrush generation will get UK citizenship, says Amber Rudd (UK’s Home Secretary): “Home Office will waive fees and knowledge test, and applicants may get compensation”. Whilst laudable and long-overdue, such measures do nothing to eliminate the underlying causes (and indeed, as per the above excerpt, the “government” is accelerating towards making part of the underlying causes much worse), take any actual responsibility, or deal with direct consequences of what was happened. Sheona York, of the Kent Law Clinic, University of Kent, put it thusly (We’re grateful for your Windrush work — but the fight for justice goes on):

    Can we please stop demanding apologies, or resignations, or, worse still, independent inquiries, into the harm done by the “hostile environment” (Government knew of risk to Windrush generation, 23 April). What is needed is a prompt decision by the government to suspend the operation of the “hostile environment” measures introduced in the Immigration Acts 2014 and 2016, a reduction in immigration application fees, and a decision by the Home Office to prioritise careful decision-making in accordance with the law, and cut delays for applicants.

    […]

    It has been clear since the 2006 and 2013 declarations by two different home secretaries (John Reid and Theresa May [now UK PM –blf]) that the Home Office immigration department was “not fit for purpose” and that concentrating on rooting out “illegal migrants” has for many years been a losing as well as a spiteful strategy. It should be clear now that the “hostile environment” is itself creating illegality among ordinary individuals and families, and should be abandoned forthwith.

    Hostile environment” is the name used by Mrs May herself when, as Home Secretary, she largely invented a set of policies to deliberately make life miserable for people she didn’t like, such as those who are poor and don’t pay her enough in bribes, or have brown or black skin, and so on.

  147. says

    From Michael Avenatti:

    In light of @brithume claiming I never have a basis for my statements and he and @ingrahamAngle taking shots at me for my harmless comments re Mr. Hannity on CNN yesterday, I think it’s only fair that I shed light on some critical FACTS re the situation: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ya6j18fy2o8742v/Hannity.pdf?dl=0

    Let this be a lesson – if you fire on me or my client, you better have your facts straight and you better pack a lunch. #basta

    This isn’t about being defensive. And it’s not about the left or the right. And it’s not about increasing bookings. This is about the truth – plain and simple. And what Mr. Trump knew and when he knew it and did he cover it up. […]

    https://twitter.com/MichaelAvenatti/status/988455717597274112

  148. says

    Trump’s big idea for health insurance excludes maternity care […]

    A new Kaiser Family Foundation study found that zero short-term health plans cover maternity care.

    The Trump administration’s “affordable alternative” to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is short-term health plans, but a new Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) study published on Monday shows just how bare-bones this coverage actually is.

    A KFF review of short-term health health plans offered on two large private insurance websites, eHealth and Agile Health Insurance, in 45 states and Washington, D.C. shows these plans rarely if at all pay for essential coverage: no plans cover maternity care; 43 percent do not cover mental health services; 62 percent do not cover substance use disorder treatment (both alcohol and other drugs); and 71 percent do not cover outpatient prescription drugs. […]

    More at the link, including informative charts and graphs.

  149. says

    Trump is still fixated on “caravans” of immigrants; a situation, an issue, and an immigrant bid for safety that Trump simply does not understand. He is spewing more disinformation:

    Despite the Democrat inspired laws on Sanctuary Cities and the Border being so bad and one sided, I have instructed the Secretary of Homeland Security not to let these large Caravans of people into our Country. It is a disgrace. We are the only Country in the World so naive! WALL

    Mexico, whose laws on immigration are very tough, must stop people from going through Mexico and into the U.S. We may make this a condition of the new NAFTA Agreement. Our Country cannot accept what is happening! Also, we must get Wall funding fast.

  150. says

    John Oliver wants to educate Trump, so he bought ads on Sean Hannity’s show.

    Link

    Scroll way down for the new video that focuses on the Iran deal.

  151. blf says

    Follow-up to @149 and other previous comments, David Davis finally visits Border, but doesn’t tell the press:

    British politician makes first trip to Border since becoming Brexit secretary
    […]
    The two-hour visit was not announced in advance and no media statement was provided, other than a post on Mr Davis’ Twitter account on Monday afternoon, because he had been on “a private visit” according to a Dexeu [UK brexit office] spokeswoman.

    “Today I started what promises to be a busy week in Northern Ireland. As we leave the EU it’s essential both the UK and EU do what it takes to keep the border, which I saw this morning, free from physical infrastructure. We are determined to get this agreed by October,” Mr Davis wrote on Twitter.

    […]

    Note the deceptive phrasing about the open border between Ireland–N.Ireland. It’s not just “free from physical infrastructure”, but also from routine checks and checkpoints.

  152. blf says

    Some more about that dubiously-motivated dummie lawsuit of the thugs et al., Omission in Democrats’ lawsuit text against Russia: lawyer:

    Democrats filed a lawsuit against Russia and the Trump campaign, but their lawyers didn’t properly define ‘computer’.
    […]
    The lawsuit further alleges the conspirators violated the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), a 1986 anti-cybercrime measure that criminalised accessing “protected computers” without authorisation.

    Fred Jennings, a lawyer who specialises in cybercrime, told Al Jazeera that “it sure looks like the DNC complaint failed” to include a necessary definition of a “computer”.

    The CFAA is the US’ primary law against cybercrime and is often used to prosecute hackers for alleged “unauthorised access” of “protected computers”.

    But the CFAA requires that lawyers clearly define “computers” and then “protected computers” — which have two separate definitions.

    In order for a computer to be “protected”, it must first be defined as a “computer”.

    The suit could face trouble in court because it failed to define hacked DNC computers as “computers” under CFAA guidelines, Jennings said.

    […]

    But Jennings said that the DNC’s lawyers failing to properly define their computers means that claim might be vulnerable to a motion to dismiss from defence lawyers “before any fact discovery” occurs in the discovery phase.

    But even if a judge did dismiss the claim, “it’s almost certain the DNC would be permitted to file an amended complaint to fix the error,” the lawyer explained.

    The definition of a computer won’t end legal proceedings, Jennings said, but it’s more that “this was an easily avoided error that could add a substantial amount of time, cost, and complexity to the DNC’s case.”

    […]

  153. blf says

    Far-right attacks increase tension in Greece’s Lesbos:

    […]
    A mob of far-right protesters have attacked refugees and migrants who had been holding a separate demonstration in the main square of Mytileni, the main town of the Greek island of Lesbos.

    […]

    Burn them alive, some of the attackers yelled, the Greek daily Ekathimerini reported on Monday.

    ANA-MPA, a state-run media agency, reported that “far-right militants” targeted women and children, while solidarity activists and refugees attempted to create a human chain to protect the victims.

    According to ANA-MPA, police used tear gas to disperse the assailants, who had turned the town into a “battlefield”.

    […]

    “This was a well-organised action, with murderous intent, by specific extreme right, criminal and hooligan elements that have nothing to do with the island or its traditions,” Syriza, the left-wing ruling party, said in a statement.

    […]

    Of the 102 incidents of violence documented by the Racist Recording Network in 2017, at least 34 targeted refugees and migrants. Another seven incidents saw human rights advocates or aid workers who work with asylum seekers targeted.

    Speaking to Al Jazeera in March, Greek police said they documented at least 133 hate crimes motivated by race, national origin or skin colour in 2017. That number is nearly three times more than the number of such crimes recorded in 2016.

    […]

  154. says

    Re #183 above – “Conservatives: Trump Crimes Are None Of Our Business”:

    …[Conservatives’] response isn’t to show that Simpson has his facts wrong or to explain why the public shouldn’t be alarmed by Trump’s financial entanglements. It is to ring fence Trump from exposure to any criminal or political jeopardy that doesn’t stem entirely from the question of “collusion.” Conservatives are preparing to argue that any crimes Trump committed that weren’t essentially motivated by a desire to cheat during the election, are no business of ours, and can’t be investigated legitimately. Their fealty to Trump now runs so deep that they’d prefer the country remain vulnerable to a potentially enormous and ongoing national security breach than do anything to determine how serious the breach is and whether anything should be done about it.

    The more explicit notion that the Russia matter is many investigative steps removed from the conduct of the Trump Organization is willfully obtuse, and the clearest indication we have to date that not only do Republicans want to blind themselves to Trump’s corruption, but if that corruption is revealed to threaten the integrity of the American government, Republicans will refuse to do anything about it. This is in some ways more alarming than the indifference conservatives have shown to the existing evidence of collusion, though the two stories are closely related.

    …We don’t know who the Trump Organization owes money to, or all the crimes it engaged in. But somebody knows, and whether the universe of people who know includes Vladimir Putin or not, is largely beside the point. Is it possible that foreign leaders and oligarchs possess information that could land Donald Trump, Jr. or Ivanka Trump in prison for years? Could these powerful individuals destroy the Trump Organization, and bankrupt the president? The unfortunate answer is yes, it’s possible. Anyone with a passing concern for the public interest will see this information imbalance as unacceptable, and the president’s susceptibility to blackmail, if in fact he is so susceptible, as untenable. The emerging conservative position is that we don’t have a right to know.

  155. blf says

    Follow-up to @170, The Grauniad’s cartoonist Ben Jennings on Identity checks at elections (cartoon): “Ok sir, all I need is your first baby tooth, a lock of your grandmother’s hair and several family heirlooms purchased in Britain after 1948…”.

  156. says

    “Cryptocurrencies Were Never Good for Anybody But the Rich: Bitcoin started as a populist alternative to government money—or was it just the rich getting richer all along?”:

    The irony is that Bitcoin was and continues to be couched in the rhetoric of being a populist alternative to government-issued money—only now it’s arguably more centralized and definitely harder to obtain than regular fiat currency. Perhaps, though, it was always designed to be that way: Bitcoin is less a currency and more a method of enriching those who consider themselves outsiders—lone wolves who have been left behind by society—when they’re largely just another flavor of the elite. As Ethereum co-founder Vinay Gupta recently put it on Twitter, “Right now cryptocurrency is a form of elite defection.”

  157. blf says

    Halima Aden — why a model wearing a hijab on the cover of Vogue matters:

    You might not care about fashion, but having women of colour represented on the UK cover of the fashion bible is a big deal. This is how true diversity happens

    It may have taken more than a century but it has happened. For the first time in British Vogue’s supposedly fashion-forward history the magazine features a model of colour wearing a hijab on its cover. Surrounding Halima Aden, who was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, are eight models of various races and ethnicities representing “new frontiers” in fashion. Because, guess what? Not only white women are beautiful!

    That is the ridiculous, outmoded, crass, hurtful and — whisper it — slightly racist message that the vast majority of Vogue (and other magazine) covers have been reinforcing for, well, ever. Since it was founded in 1916 […] the fashion bible has had a succession of white editors.

    […]

    Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s first black editor, took over last year. His first cover featured mixed race model and feminist activist Adwoa Aboah. It hasn’t been a hotbed of radicalism since (after all, this is fashion we’re talking about), but his latest editorial makes the point that “even five years ago … if you were shooting a group cover like this, the girls would not have looked like these young women do”. This is how true diversity — not the kind that’s really about ticking boxes or reinforcing negative stereotypes — happens. And it can only be sustained when people of colour are not just on the cover, but at the table too.

    Ms Ramaswamy (the authour) misses at least one point about the cover, it’s not just “women of colour represented on the UK cover of the fashion bible” but also of different body shapes. The young (still need to work on that!) women are not all superthin hypersexualised waifs, albeit most seem to be (still need to work on that also!).

    In the editorial, 9 Trailblazing Models Cover May Vogue (link embedded in above excerpt), editor Enninful touches on this:

    […] When I say diversity, I want to be clear that it is never just about black and white for me. It’s about diversity across the board — whether that’s race, size, socio-economic background, religion, sexuality. That’s what I want to celebrate with this cover.
    […]

    Don’t expect any deep insights from the editorial — it is mostly burbling from someone embedded deep in a trade that can easily involve exploitation. (Obviously, there are images at both links.)

  158. blf says

    Goldman prize awarded to South African women who stopped an international nuclear deal:

    Winners of the world’s leading environmental award faced down Vladimir Putin and the country’s recently deposed leader, Jacob Zuma, to overturn a multibillion-dollar nuclear deal

    Two grassroots women activists — one black, one white — stand together against two of the world’s most powerful men — one black, one white — over a secret, undemocratic, multibillion dollar nuclear deal.

    [… T]his is the true story of the two South African winners of this year’s Goldman environment prize who tapped their roots in the anti-apartheid struggle to take on and beat an agreement by their nation’s recently deposed leader Jacob Zuma and Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

    Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid were the sole signatories of a successful legal challenge against the plan for South Africa to buy up to 10 nuclear power stations from Russia at an estimated cost of 1tn rand ($76bn).

    After a five-year legal battle, a high court outlawed the deal last April and accepted the plaintiffs’ claims that it had been arranged without proper consultation with parliament.

    […]

    Both cut their activist teeth in the anti-apartheid struggle of the 1980s. McDaid, then a teacher, was caught up in the Trojan Horse massacre in Athlone, Cape Town. She hid students sought by police in her house and used her car to block troops chasing students.

    Lekalakala grew up in Soweto […]. She served as a shop steward in a department store when she was 19 years old. She also witnessed some of the worst of the violence […].

    […]

    This background has made the two women relatively fearless. They have both been threatened and suffered break-ins in which alarm systems were expertly dismantled and only their laptops (rather than valuables like jewellery or cameras) were stolen, suggesting the intruders were after information rather than money.

    “It’s harassment,” said Lekalakala. “But I’m very forceful. I’m used to threats.”

    […]

    They were tipped off about the nuclear deal by the Russian group EcoDefence. Although the South African government had not told the public about the plan, its business partner, state-owned Rosatom initially posted an announcement on its website. This was quickly taken down but not before Earthlife made a copy that they used to rally opposition from environmentalists, faith groups, lawyers, and, the media.

    Their court victory was a major setback for Putin’s plans to increase Russia’s income and influence, and may have contributed to the fall of Zuma after nine years in power. The president had reportedly fired two finance ministers in part because they were unwilling to approve the $76bn cost of the project. It was also a focus of corruption claims by political enemies and rivals in the ANC, given reports that Zuma’s son was a director of the sole mine that supplied uranium.

    […]

    “Civil society can claim some credit for ensuring the government didn’t run along a nuclear path that would have bankrupted the country,” [Lekalakala] said. “We’ll use the Goldman award to further our struggle and build a new generation of activists.”

  159. says

    Update to blf’s #79 above:

    Neo-Nazis held a swastika burning following a white supremacist rally in the city of Newnan, Georgia, on Saturday.

    Photographer Spencer Platt captured the scene for Getty Images. His pictures show a massing burning swastika and an othala rune – a pagan symbol that was used by some elements of the Third Reich.

    One image shows dozens of people giving Nazi salutes in front of a burning swastika that appears to be 12 to 18 feet tall.

    According to Platt and local news reports, the white supremacist group gathered in Draketown, Georgia, about 50 miles from Newnan after the protest….

  160. says

    OK – I think Nick Confessore is a decent person who means well as a journalist and in general. Here are my arguments:

    – It’s been a year and a half and there appears to have been little introspection or systematic thought about how to proceed going forward, which is frankly astounding. I’ve done more introspection, and to say that my influence is a small fraction of his would be a wild overstatement.

    – His claims about Assange not packaging anything and his “high bar” for publishing are bullshit (see #s 184 and 185 above).

    – I hate the garbage approach he’s been taking, which we’ve seen amongst atheists/skeptics for years: “I’m willing to listen to your suggestions for how we could better approach this.” No. You need to be proactive and vocal about being proactive. Also, if injured parties rightfully refuse to do all the work and are greeted with apathy, we often hear “You keep saying ‘Listen to women…’, but I tried and you don’t want to talk.” What we want is a genuine dialogue in which everyone is less defensive and more focused on assessing past errors and developing a plan for the future. It’s difficult under the best of circumstances, but definitely won’t happen when an important group won’t fully and honestly engage. Nick Confessore should want to address this every bit as much as Leah McElrath.

  161. militantagnostic says

    The driver of the van in the Toronto mass murder appears to have been an MRA/incel inspired by Eliot Rodger

    An apparent Facebook post by a man with the same name and photo as Minassian’s LinkedIn profile refers to the “Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger,” a 22-year-old responsible for a deadly rampage in Isla Vista, Calif., that left six people dead and a dozen more injured.

    The apparent posting by Minassian says the “incel rebellion has already begun. We will overthrow all the Chads and the Stacys.”

  162. says

    More proof that Trump is a terrible manager, that the White House does not follow proper procedures, and that the type of people to who Trump is drawn are flawed in ways that echo his flaws.

    Ronny Jackson’s confirmation hearing to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, has been postponed because of unspecified concerns about Jackson’s background, two sources told NBC News. […]

    The sources said senators on the Veterans Affairs Committee became aware of these concerns only recently — within the past several days — and raised them with the White House.

    NBC News link

    No real vetting before the nomination was sent to the Senate. The guy who proved willing to lie about Trump’s weight has other problems.

    From Steve Benen:

    White House Chief of Staff John Kelly “thought it was unwise for Trump to nominate Jackson so quickly without going through all the due diligence that a normal cabinet nomination process would involve.” […]

    there are unconfirmed allegations that Jackson oversaw a “hostile work environment,” drank excessively while on the job, and “improperly” dispensed medication. […]

    A Washington Post reporter noted this morning, “There was no vetting on Ronny Jackson. No formal interview. No process.” Instead, what we saw was a president pick someone he likes, in part because Jackson said nice things about him on television, without any meaningful scrutiny or forethought.

    Team Trump has failed to do proper vetting for many of the president’s nominees since taking office, and Trump and his staff never seem to learn lessons from their failures. Their incompetence isn’t just embarrassing; it’s also a chronic condition. […]

  163. says

    Well, maybe this will get Trump’s attention. A Fox News host is calling for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to resign:

    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is facing more friendly fire after this weekend, as a fourth Republican representative along with a Fox News host called on Pruitt to resign following a barrage of scandals.

    On Sunday, in response to a question on Twitter, Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) said that Pruitt “should resign” and that he was the “wrong fit from the start for [sic] agency dedicated to protecting our environment.”

    Think Progress link

    In other news, even Sarah Huckabee Sanders can’t explain away Trump having tweeted this:

    There is a Revolution going on in California. Soooo many Sanctuary areas want OUT of this ridiculous, crime infested & breeding concept.

    Here is how the question was put to Sanders and how she answered:

    Q: When he used the word “breeding,” was he making a derogatory term about Latinos in California — that they breed a lot or that they’re prone to breeding? Was he talking about —

    SANDERS: No, he’s talking about the problem itself growing and getting bigger.

    Q: But what does “breeding” mean? What does “breeding” mean to this President? Because when you think of breeding, you think of animals breeding – populating.

    SANDERS: I’m not going to begin to think what you think –

    Q: But can you tell us what the president thought?

    SANDERS: Certainly, I think that it can mean a lot of things to a lot of people.

    My bet is that Sarah Huckabee Sanders is just hoping that everyone will soon forget Trump’s reference to “breeding” in California.

  164. says

    Trump is really well and truly busted on that lie he told Comey multiple times. The lie that he could not have engaged with prostitutes in Moscow in 2013 because he never actually spent the night in Russia has been proven untrue several ways, and now we have even more proof:

    The broad timeline of Trump’s stay, stretching from Friday, Nov. 8, 2013, through the following Sunday morning, has been widely reported. And it’s substantiated by social media posts that show he slept in Moscow the night before the Miss Universe contest.

    Now, flight records obtained by Bloomberg provide fresh details. Combined with existing accounts and Trump’s own social-media posts, they capture two days that, nearly five years later, loom large in the controversy engulfing the White House and at the heart of the Comey memos, which the Justice Department turned over last week to Congress.

    Bloomberg Politics link

    From Steve Benen:

    […] this is consistent with the version of events from Trump’s longtime bodyguard, Keith Schiller, who told Congress last fall that he was offered Russian prostitutes for Trump – they declined the offer, he said – and as NBC News reported in November, Schiller “discussed the conversation with Trump as Trump was walking back to his hotel room, and Schiller said the two men laughed about it as Trump went to bed alone. Schiller testified that he stood outside Trump’s hotel room for a time and then went to bed.”

    In other words, he spent the night in Russia.

    It’s possible, of course, that the president misremembered some of the details of the trip when he spoke to James Comey about his experience a few years later.

    It’s also possible that Trump lied to the FBI director about his experience in Russia, trying to manufacture an alibi that wasn’t real.

  165. says

    French President Macron and Trump held a joint press conference today. Macron sounded like a leader and a thoughtful man. Trump said, among other stupid stuff:

    You can mark it down. If they [Iran] restart their nuclear program they will have bigger problems than they ever had before, […]

    It was a terrible deal. It should have never, ever been made. We made this terrible deal but we’re going to discuss it.

    Trump also repeated one of his favorite misleading tropes about the Iran deal: he said that John Kelly was too lazy to negotiate a good deal, and he said that the USA “gave Iran barrels of money.”

    Macron said:

    The Iran deal is an important issue but we have to take a far broader picture which is security in the overall region. What we want to do is to contain Iran and its presence in the region. […]

    It is together that we will be able to act effectively for our planet. We do not always agree on the solutions … but it is also where the fate of our children is at stake.

    Meanwhile, we have video of Trump grooming Macron by brushing dandruff off Macron’s shoulder, etc.

    They’re all saying what a great relationship we have, and they’re actually correct. It’s not fake news. Finally, it’s not fake news. It’s a great honor, a great honor that you’re here, in fact I’ll get that little piece of dandruff, that little piece.

    The Hill link. Video of Trump grooming Macron is available at the link.

  166. says

    “Trump Hints That Ronny Jackson Might Withdraw V.A. Nomination Amid Criticism”:

    President Trump acknowledged Tuesday that Ronny L. Jackson, his nominee to lead the Veterans Affairs Department, is in serious trouble amid allegations that he oversaw a hostile work environment as the White House doctor, allowed the overprescribing of drugs and possibly drank on the job.

    Speaking at a news conference with the president of France, Mr. Trump strongly defended Dr. Jackson as “one of the finest people that I have met,” but he hinted that Dr. Jackson might soon withdraw from consideration, blaming Democrats for mounting an unfair attack on his nominee’s record.

    “I don’t want to put a man through a process like this,” Mr. Trump said, calling the allegations about Mr. Jackson “ugly.” The president said, “The fact is, I wouldn’t do it. What does he need it for? To be abused by a number of politicians?”

    “It’s totally his decision,” Mr. Trump added, saying that he had talked with Dr. Jackson earlier in the day. Mr. Trump angrily accused his adversaries on Capitol Hill of going after Dr. Jackson because they have failed to block Mike Pompeo, the president’s nominee to become the next secretary of state.

    “They failed to stop him, so now they say ‘who’s next?’” the president told reporters during the news conference in the East Room.

    The concern over Dr. Jackson’s nomination, however, is bipartisan….

    In a letter to the president, [Sens. Isakson and Tester, heads of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee] requested “any and all communication” between the Defense Department, the White House Military Office and the White House medical unit “regarding allegations or incidents” involving Dr. Jackson back to 2006.

    The turmoil around his nomination all but ensures that the department, the federal government’s second largest, will remain without a permanent leader for at least several weeks at a moment when it was supposed to be adopting systematic changes to its electronic health records system and programs that allow veterans to seek care from private doctors at government expense.

    The Senate received paperwork from the Trump administration formalizing Dr. Jackson’s nomination only last week.

    “It has been really careless, maybe even negligent about the vetting in a number of these nominations,” Mr. Blumenthal said.

    Senators were keeping the details of their investigation under wraps but let it be known that the allegations are serious….

  167. says

    Trump is praising Kim Jong-un:

    At a very young age, he was able to assume power…. So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie. […]

    Kim Jong-un was, he really has been very open and I think very honorable from everything we’re seeing. Now a lot of promises have been made by North Korea over the years, but they have never been in this position.

    What Trump said in his State of the Union speech earlier this year:

    No regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea. [We see] the depraved character of the North Korean regime.

    Who knows what the heck Trump really thinks, but this new “very honorable” description is ridiculous. Many reporters have noted that such effusive praise probably weakens Trump’s negotiating position.

  168. says

    Honestly, Nick Confessore should stop tweeting about this. Neera Tanden’s emails were stolen and publicly weaponized by an adversarial government, he wrote about them in the NYT when they really weren’t anything of public interest knowing of their provenance, and now he’s trying to lecture her, the victim, with defensive falsehoods about how the influence campaign worked. “Of course, you have no dispassion at all on this topic, but who can blame you?” Seriously, stop tweeting.

  169. says

    From SC’s link in comment 249:

    […] during Trump’s time in the White House, Nunes has transformed the Intelligence Committee into a beachhead from which to rally his fellow Republicans in support of the president against his perceived enemies — not just the Democratic Party but also the F.B.I., the Department of Justice and the entire intelligence community.

    In March 2017, the committee started an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections in order to produce, as Nunes promised at the time, a “bipartisan” and “definitive” report. But since then, Nunes has used the committee only to sow confusion […] Perhaps his most notable disclosure from the investigation occurred in February when, over the objections of committee Democrats as well as the Justice Department and the F.B.I., Nunes released a memorandum alleging a conspiracy against the president. He argued that federal investigators seeking a secret surveillance warrant for Carter Page, a former adviser of Trump’s, had failed to fully inform judges that the information in the application came from a potentially biased source, the infamous dossier compiled on behalf of Democrats by the former British spy Christopher Steele. […] “It seems like the counterintelligence investigation should have been opened up against the Hillary campaign when they got ahold of the dossier.”

    Then, in March, Nunes and the committee Republicans abruptly wrapped up the investigation into Russian meddling, […]

  170. says

    From SC’s link in comment 249.

    This part makes Nunes sound very much like Trump:

    […] Nunes gained a reputation as an inattentive student.

    In the Intelligence Committee’s Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility — a secure office in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center where the committee does its work — there’s a log that keeps track of all the classified materials members request to read. The log’s primary purpose is security, but it also serves as a way of determining which members are doing their homework. According to three people familiar with the log, during Nunes’s first several years on the committee, he rated as its “least read” member. He had a similarly poor record of visiting the intelligence agencies for briefings. His lack of preparation could be seen in the committee’s classified hearings, where, according to a former committee staff member, Nunes often seemed out of his depth. “The committee gets to ask direct questions of the C.I.A. director for two hours a quarter, and if a member is using up half his time on questions that he should already know the answers to, it’s not very productive,” the former staff member says.

    Even worse, in the eyes of some of committee members and staff, was how Nunes did get his information. “He’d go out to these hinterlands and run into security guys there, and they’d give him crazy ideas,” the former committee staff member says. “He wasn’t discerning. These guys might have something interesting that’s one piece of the whole puzzle, but he’d think whatever they had to say was the whole truth.” Then, when Nunes brought back that information to Washington and intelligence officials would try to put it in context for him — or correct any misinformation — he would become suspicious. […]

  171. Chris J says

    SC@257:

    Wow. That can’t be real. I mean… if you wanted to parody a right-wing gun organization, that’s something you might produce to make it very clear why folks should be concerned about what you own.

    Those responses are pretty great.

  172. says

    From SC’s link in comment 249:

    […] A former Pentagon official suspects that during the Lajes negotiations, Nunes was making the Portuguese privy to things they should not have known. “We would have a conversation about some proprietary matters with Nunes,” this official says, “and then the next day, somehow, Portugal knew some of that.”

    Looking back on the episode now, Townsend views it as a harbinger of sorts. “When all this stuff happened with the Russians, I laughed like hell,” he says, in reference to the Intelligence Committee’s investigation descending into chaos. “Of course it’s Nunes!” […]

    Yes. And, of course Nunes wasted everyone’s time, including NATO’s military commander, James Clapper (director of national intelligence), the Defense Department, the C.I.A., the N.S.A., etc.

  173. says

    Trump’s cell phone raises new security questions:

    […] Trump is increasingly relying on his personal cell phone to contact outside advisers, multiple sources inside and outside the White House told CNN, as Trump returns to the free-wheeling mode of operation that characterized the earliest days of his administration.

    “He uses it a lot more often more recently,” a senior White House official said of the President’s cell phone…. While Trump never entirely gave up his personal cell phone once Kelly came aboard, one source close to the White House speculated that the President is ramping up the use of his personal device recently in part because “he doesn’t want Kelly to know who he’s talking to.” […]

    https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/23/politics/donald-trump-cell-phone/index.html

    “If President Trump is carrying around an unsecured Android phone, that’s 1,000 times worse than using a personal email server.”

    NPR link to an article titled: “Is Trump Tweeting From a ‘Secure’ Smartphone? The White House Won’t Say.”

    My bet is that no one knows if the phone Trump uses is secure or not.

  174. says

    I’d missed this from a couple of weeks ago – part 2 of James Risen’s series on Trump-Russia.

    It mentions Ted Malloch, about whom I had forgotten. He said at the end of March that he’d been stopped entering the US by federal agents (confirmed by a few news organizations), who asked him questions about his contacts with Farage, Assange,* and Stone and subpoenaed him to testify before the Mueller grand jury on April 13th. I’m wondering – did he? He hasn’t tweeted anything since early in March, and I can’t find anything in the news about it.

    * Assange is still incommunicado in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Meanwhile, Coinbase suspended Wikileaks’ bitcoin account yesterday, citing an unspecified violation of FinCEN regulations. Hm…

  175. Oggie. says

    Jesum Croll! It’s like there is some fucking script. Resident right-winger in my office stated: “Jackson was never charged, he was never tried, he was never convicted in a court of law so whatever he did is out of bounds for the Senate.”

    I replied: “So shouldn’t Clinton’s use of a private email server be out of bounds?”

    “That’s different. She broke the law, not some regulation.”

    Keep in mind, this is a federal employee. Who goes through annual anti-harassment training. And passes an annual test showing that he knows the different routes that a harassment case (including creating or abetting a hostile work environment) can take — arbitration all the way through civil and/or criminal courts.

    I hate Mondays.

  176. says

    Short report on #264 – “‘Lack Of Trust’: IG Report Suggested WH Replace Dr. Ronny Jackson In 2012”:

    A watchdog report ordered in 2012 by Dr. Ronny Jackson — President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs — found that he and a rival physician exhibited “unprofessional behaviors” as they engaged in a power struggle over the White House medical unit.

    The report, reviewed Tuesday by The Associated Press, suggested the White House consider replacing Jackson or Dr. Jeffrey Kuhlman — or both. Kuhlman was the physician to President Barack Obama at the time.

    The six-page report by the Navy’s Medical Inspector General found a lack of trust in the leadership and low morale among staff members, who described the working environment as “being caught between parents going through a bitter divorce.”

    “There is a severe and pervasive lack of trust in the leadership that has deteriorated to the point that staff walk on ‘eggshells,’” the report found….

  177. says

    “EXCLUSIVE: Comey Has Brought On Former U.S. Attorney Pat Fitzgerald As One Of His Lawyers”:

    Fired FBI Director James Comey has retained former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald as one of his personal attorneys, bringing in a heavy-hitting former prosecutor, close friend and longtime colleague to help him navigate his dramatic role as a potential witness in the investigation of President Trump’s campaign and potential obstruction of justice.

    Two Capitol Hill sources independently confirmed to TPM that Fitzgerald was serving as a lawyer for Comey.

    The hiring adds an additional twist to President Trump’s recent decision to pardon Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, for his role in the Valerie Plame affair.

    Comey, then the deputy attorney general, was the man who authorized the special counsel’s investigation into “the alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee’s identity” in late 2003, the case that eventually led to Libby’s conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice. His choice for special counsel, the prosecutor who got the guilty verdict on Libby, was none other than Fitzgerald.

    Comey and Fitzgerald have been close friends for more than three decades,…

    It’s unclear what exact role Fitzgerald is playing for Comey, when he officially came aboard Comey’s legal team, or whether he’s involved day to day….

  178. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    SC #268, Fitzpatrick has quite a name for himself here in Illinois, having sent two previous Governors to sentences in Federal jails…..
    I suspect he smells the foul odor from the Trump efforts to impugn Comey.

  179. Oggie. says

    Nerd @272:

    The title of the article to which you link is Court filing busts myth of Manafort ‘pre-dawn,’ ‘no-knock’ ‘raid’. Too late. This has already entered the right-wing media liarsphere. Along with Obama winning in 2012 because of the hurricane, massive voter fraud, tax cuts increase revenue, and other golden not-so-oldies, will be with us for years. Decades. At the very least, until the right wing can actually be honest. And even then, it will live on in the conspirasphere for an indeterminate length of time.

  180. says

    Could have left out the celebration of capitalism. But at least he’s arguing against “deregulated” capitalism and nationalistic trade wars.

    The whole speech is like a subtweet of Trump.

  181. says

    Rebecca Leber, writing for Mother Jones, noted that Scott Pruitt has made another, more destructive move to undermine the science behind some Environmental Protection Agency regulations.

    […] Scott Pruitt announced a sweeping new regulation that would restrict the kinds of scientific studies the agency can use in developing its regulations. […]

    For years, EPA critics have pushed Congress to forbid the agency from relying on the studies that comprise the bulk of the independent research on fossil fuels on public health. Their strategy aims to sow doubt about the health effects of air pollution, while slowing down or weakening future rules targeting particulate matter and ozone. […]

    Many scientists note that, in practice, the policy will prove to be unworkable. It would drastically limit the kinds of studies available to regulators crafting the agency’s air and water regulations, because many of these studies rely on sensitive medical records that cannot be made public, or may be owned by private institutions not keen on publishing proprietary information. […]

    The proposed rule that will be published in the Federal Register appears to get around this obstacle for industry studies by granting Pruitt the power to personally decide what exemptions can be made. […]

    Once implemented, the rule would have a far-reaching impact on the agency’s future policymaking, and its rules on lead in drinking water and air pollution. For example, the agency is due to review regulations on particulate matter small enough to lodge into the lungs and cause serious health problems. “This is very transparently a way to attack the ozone and particulate matter standards,” Gretchen Goldman, lead analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists says. “It’s written very prescriptively, focused on getting down to the inconvenient studies for those being regulated.” Every five years the EPA is supposed to assess the best available science on ozone and particulate matter and decide action from there, but with this policy in place, the work would either be slowed down to a crawl as researchers try to obtain the raw data, or it would end up being based on a skewed sample of studies. […]

    Tuesday’s move advances that goal. Joseph Goffman, a former EPA attorney who is now director of the Harvard Environmental Law program, told me, he was especially struck by “how transparent Pruitt is about rigging the process: Rigging the membership of the science boards, rigging the range of studies that will be incorporated in agency decision making. And in both cases [he’s] excluding sources of information or expertise that would lead to outcomes that Pruitt doesn’t prefer.”

    Goffman thinks Pruitt’s predecessors never went as far as Pruitt to change the agency’s internal processes to suit their political purposes. “He’s changing the internal rules of the game by which EPA plays in order to rig it.”

  182. says

    SC @247, Simply by being himself, Macron makes Trump look bad.

    Macron is so much better than Trump that I’m worried that coverage of Macron’s speech will turn Trump against him. Coverage of Macron’s speech is likely to be quite laudatory … at least from many media outlets. If Trump is offended by that, he may not listen to Macron’s arguments for preserving the Iran nuclear deal.

    In related news, Jane Goodall compared Trump to an aging chimpanzee:

    World-renowned primatologist Dame Jane Goodall has likened Donald Trump’s behaviour to that of a chimpanzee. […]

    “In many ways the performances of Donald Trump remind me of male chimpanzees and their dominance rituals,” she told The Atlantic during the 2016 presidential election. […]

    “In order to impress rivals, males seeking to rise in the dominance hierarchy perform spectacular displays: Stamping, slapping the ground, dragging branches, throwing rocks.”

    A more aggressive display was likely to lead the male to higher positions in the hierarchy and allow it to maintain its status for longer, she said. […]

    Dame Jane’s analysis of Mr Trump’s behaviour has since been echoed by prominent psychologist Professor Dan P McAdams.

    Describing what he called a male chimpanzee’s “charging display” in an article in The Guardian, Professor Adams, of Northwestern University, said: “The top male essentially goes berserk and starts screaming, hooting, and gesticulating wildly as he charges toward other males nearby.”

    He added: “Trump’s incendiary tweets are the human equivalent of a charging display: Designed to intimidate his foes and rally his submissive base, these verbal outbursts reinforce the President’s dominance by reminding everybody of his wrath and his force.” […]

    Link

    More from Jane Goodall, (good description of “dandruff-gate” when Trump wiped some invisible dandruff from Macron’s shoulder:

    “When the aging gorilla is confronted with the much more virile, new alpha-male, he shows submissiveness by grooming the alpha-male, but the gesture is actually a vain attempt by the old gorilla to humiliate his much younger rival.” — Jane Goodall

  183. says

    “President Macron delivers stunning rebuke of Trumpism — bashes ‘the illusion of nationalism’ to standing ovation from US Congress”:

    French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a rousing speech to US congress Wednesday, throwing not-so-subtle shade at his host while defending globalism, liberty, and science.

    Macron began his speech by discussing the shared history of the United States and France and then moved into a full-throated defense of globalism and freedom.

    Macron said the solution is “the opposite of deregulation and extreme nationalism.”

    Throughout, he received warm applause from the assembly, including a standing ovation when he said that “the illusion of nationalism” should not be allowed to force the Western world back into the Dark Ages….

    Video at the link.

  184. says

    SC @283, you could see that, overall, the Democrats applauded more boisterously and more often than Republicans. However, there was also a lot of bipartisan applause, including bipartisan standing ovations.

    Macron elicited more bipartisanship in the Congress than anyone else during the Trump administration. Macron did what Trump could not do.

    Macron for U.S. president? (Not possible, but fun to consider.)

  185. says

    A Republican response to Macron’s speech:

    French President is a socialist militarist globalist science-alarmist… the dark future of the American Democratic Party.

    That’s from Representative Thomas Massie of Kentucky, a fine example of the dunderheads we have in Congress.

  186. says

    Mick Mulvaney admitted that he sold access to lobbyists. So how did Fox News report that? They blacked out that bit.

    Last night the New York Times reported Mick Mulvaney, who simultaneously holds two top positions in the Trump administration, admitted to a group of bankers that, as a Congressman, he sold access to lobbyists.

    “We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress. If you’re a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn’t talk to you. If you’re a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you,” Mulvaney said.

    Mulvaney added he would talk to his constituents whether or not they donated money.

    It was a startling admission of pay-to-play from a top official in an administration that famously pledged to “drain the swamp.” Mulvaney serves both as Director of the Office of Management and Budget and the interim head of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.

    In his role at the CFPB, Mulvaney has significant regulatory power over the bankers in the room. His message was that for industry to gain an audience with him, they would need to pony up.

    You would not have learned any of this on Fox News.

    […] there was no mention on Fox News. The story also was not mentioned on Fox News’ website. […]

    Mulvaney merited a couple of brief mentions on Fox News’ sister channel, Fox Business. Those focused on Mulvaney’s spin that he was simply encouraging bankers to “participate” in the process.

    In his statement, Mulvaney did not dispute that he would only take meetings with lobbyists who donated money to his campaigns.

    Think Progress link

  187. says

    Colbert presented a segment titled “Late Show’s Midterms 2018: Profiles in Discourage.” Colbert focused on ex-convict and former coal baron Don Blankenship who is running in the West Virginia Senate primary.

    Scroll way down for the video.

  188. says

    Good news, another court decision that goes against Trump:

    A federal judge in Washington, DC, just dealt a major blow to the Trump administration’s plans to end protections for undocumented immigrants who entered the US as children.

    In a decision issued Tuesday evening, US District Judge John D. Bates called the decision to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, “arbitrary and capricious,” and ordered the Trump administration to continue the program and accept new applications. The judge gave the administration 90 days to defend its decision before the ruling would take effect.

    Bates wrote that the administration failed to adequately explain why it believes the program was unlawful, and that its “meager legal reasoning” and the Department of Homeland Security’s assessment of litigation risk was not a sufficient reason to sustain the program’s termination.

    He is the third judge to rule against the Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA […]

    Link

  189. says

    Incel, the misogynist ideology that inspired the deadly Toronto attack, explained

    Alek Minassian, the man who killed 10 people by driving a van down a busy street in Toronto on Monday, is a terrorist.

    We know this because he told us so.[…] he pledged allegiance to something called the “Incel Rebellion.” This is not an organized militant group but rather an ideal developed by the so-called “incel” movement — an online community of men united by their inability to convince women to have sex with them. (“Incel” stands for “involuntarily celibate.”)

    Some self-identified incels, as they call themselves, have developed an elaborate socio-political explanation for their sexual failures, one that centers on the idea that women are shallow, vicious, and only attracted to hyper-muscular men. They see this as a profound injustice against men like them, who suffer an inherent genetic disadvantage through no fault of their own. A small radical fringe believes that violence, especially against women, is an appropriate response — that an “Incel Rebellion” or “Beta [Male] Uprising” will eventually overturn the sexual status quo.

    Minassian is not the first to turn these violent fantasies into reality. […]

  190. says

    “Pruitt’s Security Chief Moonlighted for Tabloid Publisher That Backed Trump”:

    The former Secret Service agent who leads the security detail for Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, worked on assignments for the tabloid news publisher American Media Inc. during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to records and interviews.

    The security official, Pasquale Perrotta, had received a waiver from the E.P.A. under the Obama administration to hold outside employment, but the work has now become the subject of scrutiny in both the agency and Congress.

    Federal law enforcement personnel face stringent restrictions on outside jobs to prevent conflicts of interest.

    A.M.I.’s chairman, David J. Pecker, is a friend of President Trump’s, and his publications — The National Enquirer and Radar chief among them — have put an emphasis on helping Mr. Trump and hurting his rivals, including endorsing his presidential bid….

    Mr. Perrotta declined to discuss the nature of his assignments for A.M.I. According to several people familiar with his work and documents reviewed by The New York Times, some of the activities included physical security, cybersecurity and investigative services involving litigation.

    A spokesman for A.M.I. also declined to comment on Mr. Perrotta’s assignments, but did not challenge that the company had worked with him. It is unclear when he began working with A.M.I. or how he first came into contact with the company.

    Mr. Perrotta has been at the center of intense criticism of Mr. Pruitt for deploying expensive security measures at the E.P.A. He was named chief of the administrator’s security detail when his boss was removed after resisting Mr. Pruitt’s requests, such as using lights and sirens to cut through traffic during trips around Washington, including to restaurants.

    Mr. Perrotta’s relationship with Mr. Pruitt is expected to be a subject of questions on Thursday, when the E.P.A. administrator is scheduled to appear before two separate House committees.

    In an email to The Times, Mr. Perrotta said he was being unfairly attacked….

    …In 2013, Mr. Perrotta founded a consulting firm, Sequoia Security Group.

    On Tuesday, two Democratic senators sent a letter to the E.P.A.’s Office of General Counsel asking questions about the nature of Mr. Perrotta’s outside work.

    In the letter, the senators — Thomas R. Carper of Delaware and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island — suggested that Sequoia offered a range of services that appeared to be outside the scope of the waiver Mr. Perrotta received in 2013.

    Among the services advertised on the firm’s website are “the collection and analysis of intelligence and media investigations” and “executive protection.”

    The two-page waiver from the E.P.A. only specifically cleared Mr. Perrotta to operate “a security firm that will provide cybersecurity and denial of service insurance to consumers.”

    The letter from the senators also asked the E.P.A. to provide copies of any financial disclosure statements filed by Mr. Perrotta detailing his outside income.

    Representative Trey Gowdy, Republican of South Carolina, who is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has separately asked him and four other top aides to submit to a “transcribed interview” with investigators about the security detail and Mr. Perrotta’s firm….

  191. blf says

    Collapse of North Korea nuclear site threatens fallout:

    A North Korean nuclear site in the country’s north has collapsed, threatening an “unprecedented risk” of radioactive fallout including in neighbouring China, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) newspaper reported.

    […]

    The last five of six nuclear tests by Pyongyang were conducted in Mount Mantap, including the test on September 3, 2017, which caused the collapse of the mountain.

    The report quoted geological experts in China as saying that the mountain collapsed after the detonation of a warhead weighing [sic] 100-kilotonnes about 700 metres below the mountain’s peak.

    Mount Mantap is about 75km to the nearest Chinese city of Baishan in Jilin province, which has a population of 1.2 million people.

    According to the newspaper, there had been growing fears in China that the test in September had caused a “fallout leak” coming from cracks in the damaged mountain.

    SCMP also reported that following the blast, North Korea’s top geologist, Lee Doh-sik visited Beijing’s Institute of Science at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and met with senior geology experts there.

    Satellite images published by the SCMP on Wednesday showed a mountain with thick green vegetation that turned reddish brown after the test and mountain collapse.

    At the time of the test, the US Geological Survey reported a magnitude 6.3 earthquake with a depth of 23km. China later said it had also detected a second quake in North Korea of magnitude 4.6, eight minutes after the initial tremor.

    The quake was felt as far away as the Chinese city of Changchun around 400km northwest of North Korea’s test site at Punggye-ri, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

    […]

    The SCMP report is more detailed, North Korea’s nuclear test site has collapsed … and that may be why Kim Jong-un suspended tests (link embedded in above excerpt):

    North Korea’s mountain nuclear test site has collapsed, putting China and other nearby nations at unprecedented risk of radioactive exposure, two separate groups of Chinese scientists studying the issue have confirmed.

    […]

    One group of researchers found that the most recent blast tore open a hole in the mountain, which then collapsed upon itself. A second group concluded that the breakdown created a “chimney” that could allow radioactive fallout from the blast zone below to rise into the air.

    A research team led by Wen Lianxing, a geologist with the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, concluded that the collapse occurred following the detonation last autumn of North Korea’s most powerful thermal nuclear warhead in a tunnel about 700 metres (2,296 feet) below the mountain’s peak.

    The test turned the mountain into fragile fragments, the researchers found.

    […]

    The findings will be published on the website of the peer-reviewed journal, Geophysical Research Letters, likely next month.

    […]

    Speculation grew that North Korea’s site was in trouble when Lee Doh-sik, the top North Korean geologist, visited Zhao’s institute about two weeks after the test and met privately with senior Chinese government geologists.

    Although the purpose of Lee’s visit was not disclosed, two days later Pyongyang announced it would no longer conduct land-based nuclear tests.

    Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based scholar who follows North Korea’s nuclear programme, said it was highly likely that Pyongyang had received a stark warning from Beijing.

    “The test was not only destabilising the site but increasing the risk of eruption of the Changbai Mountain,” a large, active volcano at China-Korean border, said Hu, who asked that his university affiliation not be disclosed for this article because of the topic’s sensitivity.

    […]

    Many more details at the SCMP link, which apparently is part of “a series of exclusive reports […] on China’s fears that Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test had caused a fallout leak.” The articles speculate this is the principle reason N.Korea announced recently they stopped testing (if one believes them), namely, they blew up their test site and don’t yet have another one ready.

  192. says

    Pruitt is a piece of work.

    “How Scott Pruitt Plans to Defend Himself on Capitol Hill: Spread the Blame”:

    As Scott Pruitt, the embattled head of the Environmental Protection Agency, prepares to testify before Congress on Thursday amid a series of spending and ethics investigations, an internal E.P.A. document indicates that he may blame his staff for many of the decisions that have put a cloud over his tenure at the agency.

    The document, known as the “hot topics” list, appears to lay out talking points for Mr. Pruitt’s two sessions before the House of Representatives. It suggests that Mr. Pruitt is prepared to say that he now flies coach when traveling; that others were responsible for giving two close aides who used to work for him in Oklahoma substantial pay raises; and that E.P.A. officials who were reassigned or demoted after challenging his spending all had performance issues.

    The document, which The New York Times has reviewed and the veracity of which the E.P.A. did not dispute, seemed to be a work in progress. Mr. Pruitt’s responses may change on Thursday when he appears before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee in the morning, and a House Appropriations Committee panel in the afternoon.

    His testimony coincides with rising calls from both Democrats and Republicans for Mr. Pruitt to step aside.

    Several Democrats said that they planned to ask Mr. Pruitt about environmental policy and climate change as well as ethics questions and detailed allegations of unchecked spending.

    “On the ethics, the thing I worry about most is this concerted effort to basically fire everyone who questioned him,” said Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the leading Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “The biggest concern I have, which runs across the whole spectrum, is science. He wants to put science under the rug, make decisions that are not scientifically based. Get rid of anyone who is scientifically oriented.”

  193. blf says

    In Germany, Bavarian leader orders Christian crosses on all state buildings:

    Markus Söder sparks outcry after saying cross is a cultural rather than religious symbol
    […]
    Markus Söder, whose conservative CSU party faces a far-right challenge in state elections in October, declared that the cross is a fundamental symbol of our Bavarian identity and way of life.

    […]

    Critics pointed out Germany’s constitutional separation of church and state, while some religious leaders charged Söder was playing politics with a sacred symbol.

    The satirical website Der Postillon suggested that Söder’s next move would be to decree that a copy of the German basic law be used as a doormat in front of all administrative buildings.

    […]

    Söder’s predecessor, Horst Seehofer, recently became Merkel’s cabinet minister for a rebranded “interior and homeland” ministry, where he [bellowed†] Islam is not part of Germany.

      † I’m tempted to add “while throwing sieg heils”.

  194. says

    “Trump Voters Driven by Fear of Losing Status, Not Economic Anxiety, Study Finds”:

    Ever since Donald J. Trump began his improbable political rise, many pundits have credited his appeal among white, Christian and male voters to “economic anxiety.” Hobbled by unemployment and locked out of the recovery, those voters turned out in force to send Mr. Trump, and a message, to Washington.

    Or so that narrative goes.

    A study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences questions that explanation, the latest to suggest that Trump voters weren’t driven by anger over the past, but rather fear of what may come. White, Christian and male voters, the study suggests, turned to Mr. Trump because they felt their status was at risk.

    “It’s much more of a symbolic threat that people feel,’’ said Diana C. Mutz, the author of the study and a political science and communications professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where she directs the Institute for the Study of Citizens and Politics. “It’s not a threat to their own economic well-being; it’s a threat to their group’s dominance in our country over all.”

    The study is not the first to cast doubt on the prevailing economic anxiety theory. Last year, a Public Religion Research Institute survey of more than 3,000 people also found that Mr. Trump’s appeal could better be explained by a fear of cultural displacement….

    While economic anxiety did not explain Mr. Trump’s appeal, Dr. Mutz found reason instead to credit those whose thinking changed in ways that reflected a growing sense of racial or global threat.

    In both cases, the findings revealed a fear that American global dominance was in danger, a belief that benefited Mr. Trump and the Republican Party.

    “The shift toward an antitrade stance was a particularly effective strategy for capitalizing on a public experiencing status threat due to race as well as globalization,” Dr. Mutz wrote in the study.

    Her survey also assessed “social dominance orientation,” a common psychological measure of a person’s belief in hierarchy as necessary and inherent to a society. People who exhibited a growing belief in such group dominance were also more likely to move toward Mr. Trump, Dr. Mutz found, reflecting their hope that the status quo be protected.

    “It used to be a pretty good deal to be a white, Christian male in America, but things have changed and I think they do feel threatened,” Dr. Mutz said….

    Much more at the link.

  195. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    blf: “Markus Söder sparks outcry after saying cross is a cultural rather than religious symbol.”

    Let’s nail him to one and see if it changes his mind.

  196. blf says

    Trump’s pick for US ambassador to Australia to be sent to South Korea:

    Experts say surprise shifting of Admiral Harry Harris sends ‘terrible’ message that ‘Australia is being treated here as a second-class ally’

    The Trump administration has decided to redirect its pick for ambassador to Australia, Admiral Harry Harris, to instead represent the United States in South Korea.

    […]

    Harris, the head of the US Pacific command, was due to attend a nomination hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, but it was unexpectedly postponed.

    A senior White House official told the Washington Post that the administration now plans to renominate Harris as US envoy to South Korea and Harris reportedly intends to accept.

    […]

    What is upsetting the Ozlanders is this means they still won’t have an Ambassador from the States (for over a year now). The Washington Post article, Pompeo planning to switch Australia ambassador nominee to South Korea (link embedded in above excerpt) goes into far more details and concerns.

  197. says

    In Germany, Bavarian leader orders Christian crosses on all state buildings:

    Markus Söder sparks outcry after saying cross is a cultural rather than religious symbol

    To quote some American: Bavaria is like Texas just without the guns.
    The reactions have been “interesting”, from some christian leaders opposing it because they don’t want their faith instrumentalised as a way to discriminate against non christians (i.e. muslims) to thise who claim that the cross means “love, tolerance, and inclusivity”.

  198. blf says

    Scott Pruitt offers up another gift to polluters. You know, the people he’s supposed to monitor:

    Environmental Protection Agency director Scott Pruitt proposed a new rule Tuesday that he insisted would enhance transparency, but which critics described as a thinly veiled attack on the use of science and scientific studies to craft regulations aimed at protecting the environment.

    Under the rule, the EPA could consider only studies for which the underlying data are made public. Although that may sound like something that would enhance the scientific basis of the agency’s work, in fact the new rule — long on the wish list of conservatives — would reward the very industries the agency is supposed to regulate. For instance, it would make it harder for EPA to use studies based on the health effects of pollutants to limit the damage they cause.

    Notably, Pruitt is doing by fiat what Congress has steadfastly refused to do: adopt the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment Act by Rep Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who believes human-caused climate change to be a myth and who has, as chair of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, routinely defied science to help the fossil-fuel industry. Iterations of Smith’s bill were backed by groups such as Koch Industries, Exxon-Mobil and the American Chemistry Council, according to the New York Times.

    […]

    Scientists who routinely conduct studies and comment on proposed regulations say there is nothing wrong with the system the agency currently uses. Many studies about the health impacts of pollutants are based on the private medical records of individuals. But under this proposed rule, any study that promised those individuals confidentiality could not be used. “These are phony issues that weaponize ‘transparency’ to facilitate political interference in science-based decision-making, rather than genuinely address either,” nearly 1,000 scientists said in a letter opposing the rule. “The result will be policies and practices that will ignore significant risks to the health of every American.”

    Scientists who submit studies for peer review or for publication in a scientific journal don’t generally have to turn over such confidential data.

    […]

    Pruitt has to go. His ethical lapses are legion. […]

    But the real problem with Pruitt is his unrelenting efforts to undermine the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and other protections that have reduced pollution and saved millions of American lives without undermining the US economy. Making a profit and having a clean, safe environment are not mutually exclusive.

    One of the articles in the New York Times, EPA Announces a New Rule. One Likely Effect: Less Science in Policymaking.:

    […]
    Supporters and critics alike say the policy will have far-reaching consequences that could limit the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions, air pollution and pesticides.

    The new regulation means that some of the most important research of the past decades — for example, studies linking air pollution to premature deaths and measuring human exposure to pesticides — would not be available to policymakers if scientists were unwilling to break the confidentiality agreements they struck with study subjects in order to collect sensitive personal information.

    Enacting the policy as a regulation, as the EPA intends to do, will involve accepting comments from the public and going through a lengthy bureaucratic process. But, if finalized, the measure would be difficult for a future administration to unravel.

    Public health and environmental groups have vowed to challenge the move in court.

    Richard J Lazarus, a professor of environmental law at Harvard, said Mr Pruitt would be “walking into a judicial minefield” if he told the EPA to no longer consider certain studies during agency rule-making.

    That, Mr Lazarus said, would be considered an arbitrary and capricious decision under the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs agency rule-making, and would “subject any agency regulation issued based on such a defective record to ready judicial invalidation.”

    […]

    This is the most important thing he can do, said Steven J Milloy, a longtime champion of the measure who worked on President Trump’s EPA transition team and who runs a website aimed at undermining the established science of human-caused climate change. This will really open up EPA science to public scrutiny.

  199. blf says

    These are the white stairs: the enduring insults of golfing while black:

    Last weekend police were called after a group of black female golfers were accused of slow play. Unfortunately, the incident came as little surprise

    You don’t need to wait too long to be reminded how slow golf has been to evolve in America. The latest incident came last weekend after police were called on a group of black female golfers in Pennsylvania who had apparently been playing too slowly. (If that’s really a crime, most middle-aged white businessman in America would have been arrested at some point in their lives.)

    […]

    Golf’s long history as a game for rich white men is well documented. It wasn’t until 1961 that the PGA of America removed the caucasians only clause from its bylaws, and we are not so far removed from the days of official racist policies that we do not still feel their sting. These black women paid like any other member or player, but at this club it appeared there were different rules for people of color.

    […]

    In order for women to feel safe, respected and welcomed in golf we cannot accept empty apologies like the one that Grandview golf club posted on its Facebook page. The club wrote: Our team is very sorry for any interaction that may have made any member feel uncomfortable.

    May have made”? What happened on that golf course goes deeper than supposed slow play. It speaks to the way the police has been weaponized against people of color in America. As was shown in the recent incident at a Starbucks in which police were called on two black men who were simply waiting for a friend, when someone brings the authorities into what is essentially a customer service situation, one better handled by trained employees, we are in essence saying humanity is not recognized. Empty apologies after the fact do not cut it.

    Every golf course has a way to deal with slow play and every seasoned golfer understands how to handle slow players — although in this case it appears there are questions as to whether the ladies were, in fact, playing behind the pace. Either way, we should be asking Grandview’s owner how often the cops are called to the course for “slow play”. It seems unprecedented to me.

    […]

    The authour, Tiffany Fitzgerald, is “the founder and CEO of Black Girls Golf, the largest golf community for African American women and girls”.

  200. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    There’s a more complete description of the golfing incident in the Washington Post.

    Sandra Thompson, another of the women who is also the president of the York chapter of the NAACP, told the Daily Record that her group was set to tee off at 10:08 a.m. Saturday but was delayed for almost an hour because of frost on the course. Thompson said a clerk at the course said the group could play with five players, as opposed to a more traditional group of four or fewer. Thompson did not immediately return a request for comment by The Post.

    After completing their second hole, Ojo and another woman in the group, Karen Crosby, said they were approached by Steve Chronister, who told them he was the owner of the club and that the women needed “to keep up the pace of play.”

    “He was extremely hostile,” Ojo told the York Daily Record.

    JJ Chronister said her father-in-law, Steve, is not an owner of the club but instead serves in an advisory capacity.

    Also at the second hole, another woman in the group, Sandra Harrison, talked with a golf course pro who said the women were keeping a fine pace.

    Steve Chronister approached the women again to tell them to hurry along. Thompson said they had kept the group ahead of them within their sights the whole time, as is consistent with golf etiquette.

    Thompson said Chronister told them: “You’re going too slow. I’ll give you a refund,” suggesting he didn’t want the women as members.

    “I said: ‘Do you realize we’re the only black women on this course, and you’re only coming up to us? We paid, we want to play.’ He walked off in a huff,” Thompson told the York Daily Record.

    The group skipped the third hole, only to arrive at the fourth hole behind a group that had not yet teed off, Thompson said.

    When the women reached the ninth hole, three of them — Harrison, Crosby and Carolyn Dow — left because they were so shaken up by the confrontation. Thompson said that she and Ojo were then approached by Steve Chronister and his son, Jordan Chronister, who is JJ’s husband.

    The Chronisters, along with other employees, told the women they had five minutes to leave and that they had called the police. They were also offered checks to refund their memberships.

    Crosby told the York Daily Record that Jordan Chronister was “aggressive, confrontational and condescending.”

    Jordan Chronister told the women that he had timed them on their break and that they had gone beyond the 20-minute time cap. Yet Thompson noted that the women were also told they had been timed as being on the first nine holes for one hour and 45 minutes. The course rules allow a total of four hours and 15 minutes — suggesting the women would have had time to spare if they kept their pace for the last nine holes.

    In videos posted by the York Daily Record and by Sandra Thompson on YouTube, a man who identifies himself as Jordan Chronister tells the women he had been timing them while they took a break from 12:45 to 1:28. He speaks over a woman who is asking him to explain why her group was approached. Chronister also laughs at the woman and assumes a mocking tone. At one point, Chronister is told by another man in the frame to “let the police handle it.”

    Chronister then turns toward the camera and tells the women to leave the course in the next five minutes and that the police have been called. The other man in the frame tells Chronister that “this is what she wants. This is what she does for a living.”

    The woman filming says she doesn’t understand why they were asked to leave the course.

    “What was the confrontation? You came to us,” she said. “We were trying to tee off and five of you men came up to us.”

    For once the police didn’t overreact:

    Northern York County Regional Police Chief Mark Bentzel told The Post that when the officers arrived, they learned the reason they were called was because of a dispute between the club’s management and the golfers. After talking with both groups for about 20 minutes, “we determined this was not something that the police department needed to be involved with.”

    “We determined this was not a police matter, and we left,” Bentzel said. “Other than people offering their opinion back and forth, there were no problems. No need for us to be there.”

    Officers from the Northern York County Regional Police arrived and left without filing any charges.

  201. says

    From Kerry Eleveld, a description/analysis of Macron’s appearance before Congress:

    A president finally brought inspiration to the U.S. Congress on Wednesday—and it wasn’t Donald Trump. After two days of cringeworthy PDA between Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, the leader of la République française addressed a joint chamber of Congress and stood up for the ideals of democracy, international cooperation and policy informed by actual science.

    […] “All of us gathered here in this noble chamber: We, elected officials, all share the responsibility to demonstrate that democracy remains the best answer to the questions and doubts that are raised today,” Macron told U.S. lawmakers. […]

    On policy specifically, Macron restated his firm support for the Paris climate accord and the Iran Nuclear Deal—both of which Trump has sought to doom by either pulling out of them or threatening to do so.

    “Let us face it, there is no planet B,” Macron said, adding that while we may have disagreements “like all families … we have to work together” to protect the environment.

    And on the Iran deal, Macron simply shamed Trump. “France will not leave the [Iran deal] because we signed it.” […]

  202. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Macron trolling Trump:

    French President Emmanuel Macron is casting climate policy in President Donald Trump’s signature terms.

    Addressing a joint meeting of Congress Wednesday, Macron said he was confident the U.S. will re-join the Paris climate agreement.

    His appeal: “Let us work together in order to make our planet great again and create new jobs and new opportunities while safeguarding our earth.”

    [Note to self: remember to invest in MEGA hats.]

  203. says

    Thread – “For the past little while, I’ve been working on a piece about Toronto’s relationship to the alt-right, especially the “manosphere.” Unfortunately that research has become relevant. I’m going to share as much as I can here for people who may not be familiar with these movements….”

  204. says

    I’m unhappy with resigned statements/predictions about how Judge Wood will likely appoint a special master but insist on an expedited process or appoint a special master but one from the government’s list. The assumption – and it’s probably correct – behind these suggestions is that practically speaking the appointment won’t make a significant difference given the evidence/facts.

    But the reality and the likely outcome shouldn’t remotely be the concern here (and that’s setting aside the delays the appointment of a special master would create). The judge should do what she would in any comparable case unless Cohen’s lawyers can show that there’s actual evidence that she should do something different in this specific case. They haven’t done that. All they have is rightwing hysteria and insinuation. They’ve given no basis for the suggestion that the SDNY or the filter team lack integrity or propriety.

    It doesn’t matter if anyone expects that the result would be much the same. They shouldn’t be able to work the ref like that, and it would set a terrible precedent (legally and sociohistorically) if they were to succeed in doing so here. Judge Wood should cut them off.

    /rant

  205. says

    Goddamnit. I’ve seen at least two potentially qualified people floated. Consult with the Senate, consult with VA workers, consult with veterans’ organizations. Vet* candidates. Pick someone who will be easily and quickly confirmed.

    People are dying and will die as long as this nonsense continues.

    Goddamnit.

    * (no pun intended)

  206. militantagnostic says

    Minassian attempted suicide by cop, saying he had a gun in his pocket, but the police officer re-holstered his gun, pulled out his baton and told Minassian to lie on the ground. After a controversial fatal shooting of a mental ill person a few years ago the Toronto police have emphasized de-escalation tactics.

  207. Saad says

    Ben Carson wants to triple rent for some low-income people receiving federal housing subsidies

    Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on Wednesday will propose tripling the amount the poorest households are expected to pay for rent as well as encourage those receiving housing subsidies to work, according to the administration’s legislative proposal obtained by The Washington Post.

    The move to overhaul how low-income rental subsidies are calculated would affect more than 4.5 million families relying on federal housing assistance. The proposed legislation would require congressional approval.

    Tenants generally pay 30 percent of their adjusted income toward rent or a public housing agency minimum rent — which is capped at $50 a month for the poorest families. The administration’s legislative proposal sets the family monthly rent contribution at 35 percent of gross income or 35 percent of their earnings working 15 hours a week at the federal minimum wage. Under the proposal, the cap for the poorest families would rise to approximately $150 a month, three times higher than the current minimum.

    The Trump administration has long signaled through its budget proposals and leaked draft legislation that it seeks to increase the rents that low-income tenants pay to live in federally subsidized housing.

  208. says

    “A Lynching Memorial Is Opening. The Country Has Never Seen Anything Like It.: The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, opening Thursday in Montgomery, Ala., is dedicated to victims of white supremacy.”

    The whole article is worth reading – and pictures worth seeing – but especially the part describing Bryan Stevenson, who founded the organization that created the memorial/museum:

    …Mr. Stevenson, whose great-grandparents were slaves in Virginia, has written about “just mercy,” the belief that those who have committed serious wrongs should be allowed a chance at redemption. It is a conviction he has spent a career arguing for on behalf of clients, and he believes it is true even for the white America whose brutality* is chronicled by the memorial.

    “If I believe that each of us is more than the worst thing he’s ever done,” he said, “I have to believe that for everybody.”

    But the history has to be acknowledged and its destructive legacy faced, he said. And this is particularly hard in “the most punitive society on the planet.”

    People do not want to admit wrongdoing in America, Mr. Stevenson said, because they expect only punishment.

    “I’m not interested in talking about America’s history because I want to punish America,” Mr. Stevenson continued. “I want to liberate America. And I think it’s important for us to do this as an organization that has created an identity that is as disassociated from punishment as possible.”…

    * Banish this word.

  209. blf says

    Dummies (democrats) are getting better at emulating thugs (republicans), Democrat’s paid speech to pro-Assad group thrusts Syria into Ohio primary:

    […]
    Most Democratic primaries in 2018 have focused on bread and butter progressive issues like healthcare, education and gun control. In Ohio’s gubernatorial primary, however, domestic policy has increasingly been overshadowed by an unexpected figure: Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad.

    Syria took center stage last week, after the two-time presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich revealed in an amended filing with the state ethics board that he had received $20,000 for a paid speech to a pro-Assad group in London.

    The former congressman has long been hesitant to condemn the Syrian dictator and has travelled to Damascus to meet with him on several occasions, including for an interview for Fox News where Kucinich once served as a contributor. Kucinich’s idiosyncratic foreign policy views have earned him a seat on the advisory board of the Ron Paul Institute.

    […]

    […] Kucinich’s main opponent and the current frontrunner, Richard Cordray, who is the former head of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), has used Syria as a sledgehammer.

    Last week, his campaign hosted a conference call with the former Democratic governor Ted Strickland, who who previously served in Congress alongside Kucinich. “For years Dennis Kucinich has been outspoken defender of the Assad regime in Syria even as they’ve killed countless people and used chemical weapons against civilians,” said Strickland.

    “On campaign trail Dennis has refused to condemn Assad … What we now know goes further Dennis wasn’t just defending Assad out of conviction, he was also being paid by a group that has been a vocal cheerleader for this murderous dictator.”

    […]

    Kyle Kondik, the managing editor of the nonpartisan election website Sabato’s Crystal Ball and author of a book on Ohio politics, cautioned that not only is Kucinich better known than Cordray in the state but that his attacks on guns “seem like more fruitful and topical line of attack than Syria does”. [Cordray has an ‘A’ rating from the NRA, so Kucinich has been attacking him on his support for mass murder inside the States.]

    So the choice is between just where the mass murder should occur: In the States, or in Syria. Why to go, dummies !

  210. blf says

    Global experts attend Paris conference to combat terrorist financing (France24 edits in {curly braces}):

    Ministers from 80 countries and nearly 500 experts gathered in Paris on Wednesday and Thursday for a conference on combating the financing of terror groups such as Islamic State [daesh] and al-Qaeda

    […] French authorities remain concerned about a huge war-chest amassed by [daesh] between 2014 and 2016 when it ruled over large swathes of oil-rich territory in Iraq and Syria.

    A French presidential official briefing journalists on Tuesday said that [daesh] income was estimated at about one billion dollars (820 million euros) a year.

    “It {the war chest} has been moved since, at least in part. It’s probably somewhere,” the official said on condition of anonymity. “These groups are very skilful in using sophisticated techniques to move financial resources around.”

    […]

    The idea of the two-day conference, which will close with a speech by French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday afternoon, is to share expertise and good practice that can be implemented internationally.

    […]

    Some terror experts, including Peter Neumann from King’s College in London, have argued recently that since 2001, the fight against the financing of terror groups has been ineffective.

    In a report last year entitled, “Don’t follow the money”, he argued that low-cost terror attacks were easy to mount and showed how jihadist groups could transfer money easily without using the international banking system.

    […]

  211. quotetheunquote says

    Minassian attempted suicide by cop, saying he had a gun in his pocket, but the police officer re-holstered his gun, pulled out his baton and told Minassian to lie on the ground. After a controversial fatal shooting of a mental ill person a few years ago the Toronto police have emphasized de-escalation tactics.

    It certainly looked that way to me, too. (Video here – scroll down.) It utterly exceeds my understanding, how a person could attain the level of detachment – dehumanizing of others – that must be required to deliberately take so many people with you when you go. But then, there are just so many things about people that I don’t understand…

    Must say I am impressed with the behaviour of the officer at the scene; the de-escalation training that militant agnostic refers to above must really be working.

  212. says

    At 10 ET (about 35 minutes from now):

    Pruitt will testify before a congressional subcommittee – on C-SPAN.
    The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on the bill to protect Mueller from being fired – on C-SPAN3.

  213. says

    For your amusement:
    Fifty Shades of Neustadt
    And yes, that is the official police website.
    Rough translation:
    A man called the police after he saw to men mistreat a naked woman who was tied to a chair (personal shout out to the gentleman, you did good!). When the police arrived they found the scene as described but were explained by all parties that the young couple was taking lessons in shibari bondage and all was consensual. The police “respectfully declined an invitation for a professional class”.

  214. says

    SDNY has sent a letter to Judge Wood. They’re withdrawing their general objection to the appointment of a special master in favor of recommending the appointment of one of the special masters they proposed, who would use a technology-assisted review process to complete the review expeditiously. They also refer in a footnote to Trump’s statements on F&F this morning to suggest that Cohen’s claims of a vast number of privileged documents among those seized were likely exaggerated. Trump did a lot of legal harm to Cohen and himself in that interview.

  215. says

    In this week’s testimony news:

    .@DamianCollins ‘The Russian govt was paying you to research cyberbullying…it does make you wonder why they might be interested in that…’ Kogan: ‘The US and UK interfere in foreign elections too’. Er…”

    NEW: Cambridge whistle blower told House Democrats Tuesday that Steve Bannon directed staff to test messaging in 2014 about Vladmir Putin and Russian expansion in Eastern Europe.

    Chris Wylie said it was unusual because it was the only foreign leader they tested. ‘I can’t explain why it was that they picked Vladmir Putin’.

    Wylie called Cambridge ‘a full service propaganda machine’ and said it also focused, at Bannon’s urging, on messaging that would discourage Democratic turnout.”

  216. says

    Micahel Avenatti was on Morning Joe when Trump did the F&F interview. He was saying how much he enjoyed himself and that he recommended Trump do more such impromptu interviews.

    He later tweeted:

    “Thank you @foxandfriends for having Mr. Trump on this morning to discuss Michael Cohen and our case. Very informative.”

    “Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen previously represented to the American people that Mr. Cohen acted on his own and Mr. Trump knew nothing about the agreement with my client, the $130k payment, etc. As I predicted, that has now been shown to be completely false. #basta”

  217. says

    militant agnostic @313, Thanks for that additional information. That shines a different light on the situation.

    In other news, I laughed out loud when I heard Trump tell Fox News that Michael Cohen represented him in “the crazy Stormy Daniels deal.”

    “I don’t know his business, but this doesn’t have to do with me. Michael is a businessman. He’s got a business. He also practices law. I would say probably the big thing is his business, and they’re looking at something having to do with his business,” Trump said during a lengthy phone interview with “Fox and Friends.” “I have nothing to do with his business, I can tell you.”

    Asked about Cohen’s work representing him, Trump claimed that Cohen only handled “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work…. “He represents me like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me,” the President continued, referencing Cohen’s payment to Daniels and work negotiating a hush agreement with the porn actress. “You know, from what I see, he did absolutely nothing wrong. There were no campaign funds going into this, which would have been a problem.”

    Trump’s official story before the Fox News interview was that he did not have sex with Stormy Daniels, and that he had nothing to do with non-disclosure agreements or payments. He wasn’t involved. He was in the dark. Whoops. Trump just blew his official story to smithereens.

    How does he know that campaign funds weren’t used? Trump also seems to think that if campaign funds were not used, then no problem. Hush money paid to porn stars is fine. Even if campaign funds were not used, there’s still a question of in-kind contributions to help a campaign (and $130,000 is over the legal limit).

    NBC News link

    Michael Avenatti’s response:

    Another gift from the heavens in this case. They keep coming. I don’t know how I’ve fallen into such good luck in this case, but I’m going to take it. […]

    Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen previously represented to the American people that Mr. Cohen acted on his own and Mr. Trump knew nothing about the agreement with my client, the $130k payment, etc. As I predicted, that has now been shown to be completely false.

  218. says

    Wow. Bravo to @CommonsCMS who have issued 4th summons to Zuck saying Facebook CTO failed to answer 40 separate qs today. Why was he even there? MPs were asking about integrity of our democracy. Facebook’s CTO talked about ‘product’. Something profoundly wrong here.”

  219. says

    I really liked Rachel Maddow’s interview of Ronan Farrow. The video is 6:45 minutes long.

    Ronan Farrow, author if the newly published “War on Peace,” talks with Rachel Maddow about the damage done to the State Department under Rex Tillerson, and the struggle by U.S. diplomats to continue doing important work under adverse political conditions.

    Yes, that was the general subject of the interview, but it was the details that made an impression. Like this excerpt, for example:

    When the United States initiated strikes on Syria, the administration entirely skipped the conventional step of notifying NATO allies. Tillerson received a flood of calls. […]

    [An operations officer told Farrow] “When news broke, alarmed allies were calling, saying ‘I would like to speak with Secretary Tillerson'” …. It was early on a Sunday afternoon, and Tillerson was in Washington and unoccupied. “We were told that the secretary had a long weekend so he was going to go home and have dinner with his wife and call it a night.” […]

    “We just bombed Syria without telling our allies. You might have to do some phone calls, even from home.”

    One of the other sections of the Maddow show revealed that Rex Tillerson had parroted China talking points written by Jared Kushner. So, it looks like the Chinese fed talking points to Kushner and he was dumb enough to use those talking points for Tillerson’s meetings with the leaders of China.

    Perhaps you will remember that Bill Priestap, the FBI’s chief of counterintelligence, had warned Kushner that Chinese operatives were trying to influence/compromise him. Here is the Maddow segment discussing Jared Kushner’s sketchy meetings with Chinese officials. Kushner even met alone with the Chinese Ambassador.

  220. says

    Stormy Daniels is asking to be an intervenor in the SDNY Cohen case:

    Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) (hereafter, “Ms. Clifford”) files this motion to intervene in this proceeding for the limited purpose of protecting her rights concerning materials and documents believed to be in the possession of the government that may be subject to her attorney-client privilege and settlement communications privilege. Ms. Clifford requests the Court grant this motion to allow Ms. Clifford the opportunity to request that such materials be protected from improper disclosure and that they be shared with her in a timely fashion….

  221. says

    Wow – “Stormy Daniels’ motion to intervene in the Cohen search warrants matter paints an unflattering picture of the conduct of her former attorney, Keith Davidson.” They believe Davidson was improperly sharing with Cohen his communications with her.

  222. says

    About Trump saying that Comey wrote, falsely, in his memos that he told Comey (twice!) that he had not stayed overnight in Moscow:

    […] Trump categorically denied that he told James Comey he didn’t overnight in Moscow in November 2013 at the Miss Universe Pageant. Comey recorded Trump saying this twice in his contemporaneous memos. This is a key claim since it is clearly false and it appeared to be a falsehood manufactured to rebut the prostitute allegations. From one perspective it’s one guy’s word against the other. The problem for Trump is that the space-time continuum being what it is, it’s not at all clear how Comey would know to make this up in contemporaneous memos written in early 2017. He would have no way to know it would be significant. It simply makes no sense. […]

    Link

  223. says

    Pruitt is being slimy, mealy mouthed prevaricator in the hearing:

    “What you are referring to is a secured communication area in the administrator’s office so secured calls can be received and made,” EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman told the Washington Post in a statement for a story on the booth. “Federal agencies need to have one of these so that secured communications, not subject to hacking from the outside, can be held. It’s called a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). This is something which a number, if not all, Cabinet offices have and EPA needs to have updated.”

    Pressed by Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) during a hearing of the House Committee on Energy and the Environment’s Subcommittee on Environment, all Pruitt committed to is that the matter was under investigation.

    Responding later to a question from Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Pruitt said the booth “has not been certified as a SCIF, and it does provide protection on confidential communications.”

    “I gave direction to my staff to address that,” Pruitt added, referring to what he called his lack of access to secure communications — even though the EPA already had areas to conduct secure communications. “And out of that came a $43,000 expenditure that I did not approve.”

    “Career individuals at the agency took that process through and signed off on it all the way through,” he added later, responding to another question. “I was not involved in the approval of the $43,000, and if I had known about it, congressman, I would not have approved it.”

    “That seems a bit odd,” Cárdenas responded. “If something happens in my office, especially to the degree of $43,000, I know about it before, during and after.”

  224. says

    From Renato Mariotti (former federal prosecutor):

    Fox host @SteveDoocy suggests there is something shady about Comey sharing his memos with a man who had a FBI security clearance, even though his clearance cuts in Comey’s favor.

    If the memos were “fake” how could they have been classified?

  225. says

    From the totally bonkers testimony from Diamond and Silk:

    Conservative social media personalities Diamond & Silk testified under oath before Congress on Thursday and made several false statements to the House Judiciary Committee regarding Facebook “censorship” and a payment they received from the Trump campaign shortly after the 2016 election.

    “Facebook censored us for 6 months,” said Lynnette Hardaway, one member of the pro-Trump sister duo, when asked whether the two had been “blocked” by the platform. “…Facebook censored our free speech.”

    Earlier in their testimony, the two women claimed that “subtle and slowly, Facebook used one mechanism at a time to diminish reach by restricting our page so that our 1.2 million followers would not see our content, thus silencing our conservative voices.” […]

    As ThinkProgress previously reported, the claim that Diamond and Silk were “censored” or “blocked” on Facebook is false.

    The two also claimed, in an angry exchange with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), that they had never received money from the Trump campaign, despite an FEC filing explicitly showing that they had.

    The document to which Jeffries was referring was an official campaign filing issued by the Trump campaign itself. The document lists, among other things, a number of itemized disbursements made during or shortly after the 2016 election — one of which was a $1,274.94 expenditure on November 22, 2016 for “field consulting.” The recipients of that payment: “Diamond and Silk” in Raeford, North Carolina.

    Link

    Video excerpt on Twitter (almost shouting, lots of repetition, and denial of facts from Diamond and Silk):
    https://twitter.com/ABC/status/989541582650167296

  226. says

    Republicans were angry with Democrats for asking questions today about Scott Pruitt’s ethics violations:

    […] “I was hoping that we could stay on policy as much as we could today, but I see some just can’t resist the limelight,” Rep. McKinley (R-WV) said during the hearing, describing [Democratic questions about] Pruitt’s scandals as “a classic display of innuendo and McCarthyism.” […]

    Link

  227. says

    More on Pruitt weaseling out of taking responsibility:

    […] So how did Pruitt defend himself? While he admitted that he is ultimately responsible for what goes on at the EPA, he shifted blame to his critics and the media, and yet never specifically refuted any of the charges in his broad-brush rebuke of the reporting.

    “Those who have attacked the EPA and attacked me are doing so because they want to derail the president’s agenda,” Pruitt told the lawmakers. “I’m not going to let that happen.”

    Pruitt went on to criticize the “tough media reports” the past few weeks. “I have nothing to hide as it relates to how I run the agency in past 16 months. Facts are facts and fiction is fiction. A lie doesn’t become true just because it’s on the front page.” […]

    Link

  228. says

    From French President Macron:

    I can hear. I seemed to constantly hear that he (Trump) had no serious desire to maintain or defend the agreement [the Iran nuclear deal]. I consider that it’s a campaign pledge he made long ago … I don’t know. Rational analysis does not lead me to think he will stay in the deal.

  229. Chris J says

    Lynna@353:

    Yeah, how dare the Democrats ask questions about ehtics violations at a congressional hearing whose whole purpose was to ask about said violations. “[H]oping to stay on policy?” Yeah, because congress would hold a hearing just to talk about how much they like or dislike policy. That’s absolutely a good use of time right there. /s

    Politics is broken, and Republican tribalism and shamelessness broke it.

  230. says

    Eyebrow-raising:

    U.S. intelligence officials preparing to brief President Trump ahead of his summit with Kim Jong-un are concerned about the fact that he is “known to have little patience for detailed briefings or lengthy documents” and might “act purely on gut instinct, as he often does with foreign leaders,” according to Reuters. Because of this, they plan to limit their presentation to Trump to an “abridged version, accompanied by photos, maps, drawings and video.” In the past, they’ve apparently also found that it helps if Trump has something he can get his hands on:

    Early in his administration, Trump was shown a scale model of North Korea’s sprawling nuclear bomb test site with a removable mountaintop and a miniature Statue of Liberty inside so he could grasp the size of the facility, two U.S. officials said.

    […] The commander in chief’s attention span and Zoolander jokes aside, it’s encouraging that officials are working to get Trump up to speed and that they’ve concluded that Kim is a “rational actor” rather than a “total nut job” as Trump once described him (though calling him “very honorable” as Trump did this week might be going a bit far). Intelligence officials are reportedly drawing on impressions gathered by Mike Pompeo, who met Kim a few weeks ago, as well as a handful of others including Dennis Rodman.

    Building a profile of Kim is certainly difficult given the level of secrecy and paranoia that surrounds the North Korean leader. The Washington Post reports that this extends to traveling with his own restroom. As a defected North Korean official tells the paper, “The leader’s excretions contain information about his health status so they can’t be left behind.”

    Link

  231. says

    Trump is threatening to meddle in Justice Department operations … again:

    You look at the corruption at the top of the FBI, it’s a disgrace. And our Justice Department — which I try and stay away from, but at some point I won’t — our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia.

    Chris @356, exactly right.

  232. says

    China seeks new renewable energy push as United States falls behind.

    As the United States works to revitalize coal and other fossil fuel industries, China is reaffirming its efforts towards renewable energy, investing considerable resources in expanding solar power and clearing hurdles for businesses to shift towards sustainable energy options.

    China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) announced on Thursday that the country would “ease the burden” on renewable power generators, ordering local governments to give priority access and to “promptly accept” such companies. Guaranteed purchase agreements must also be fortified and local governments failing to meet the standards laid out by the NEA will face repercussions. […]

    China’s efforts stand in stark contrast to those of the United States. President Trump announced that the country would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement last June, arguing that the deal put the United States at a disadvantage while benefiting other countries. The prospect of a U.S. exit has placed pressure on countries like China to take on new climate leadership roles, with or without U.S. assistance.

    More at the link.

  233. says

    Bad news for Nepalese immigrants:

    The Trump administration scored another coup in its effort to expel legal immigrants, as the Department of Homeland Security ended temporary legal protections for about 9,000 Nepalese immigrants who have been living in the United States since their homes were decimated by a 2015 earthquake.

    On Thursday, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced the department was terminating the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for Nepal. Nepalese immigrants in the country under TPS now have to find alternative legal methods to stay in the United States or depart by June 24, 2019. […]

    In Nepal right now, thousands of earthquake survivors are still living in makeshift shelters three years after the disaster killed almost 9,000 people and destroyed 850,000 homes. Aid funds dried up quickly, and in a country where about a quarter of the population lives under the poverty line, returning residents who had their TPS status revoked will likely have little chance to succeed. […]

    Link

  234. says

    “House chaplain forced out by Ryan”:

    House Chaplain Patrick Conroy’s sudden resignation has sparked a furor on Capitol Hill, with sources in both parties saying he was pushed out by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

    Conroy’s own resignation announcement stated that it was done at Ryan’s request.

    “As you have requested, I hereby offer my resignation as the 60th Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives,” the April 15 letter to Ryan, obtained by The Hill, states.

    Through his office, Conroy, who has served as chaplain since 2011, declined to comment on Thursday. His resignation is effective May 24.

    Four different sources — two from each party — say Conroy was told that he must retire or that he would be dismissed.

    The thinking among Democrats is that Ryan pushed Conroy out “because Republicans thought he was aligned with Democrats,” according to a senior Democratic aide familiar with the discussion.

    House chaplains, who offer an opening prayer each day the House is in session, are supposed to be nonpartisan.

    It’s unclear exactly what if any political dispute, however, led to the chaplain’s dismissal.

    A Democratic lawmaker said that the Speaker took issue with a prayer on the House floor that could have been perceived as being critical of the GOP tax-cut bill.

    On Nov. 6 — the first day of the markup on the GOP’s tax bill — Conroy in a prayer urged lawmakers to ensure the legislation did not exacerbate the nation’s gaping class disparities.

    “May all Members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great Nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle,” Conroy said at the time. “May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”

    A second Democratic aide said Conroy’s ouster was “largely driven by a speech on the tax bill that the Speaker didn’t like.” But the source also offered a second reason.

    “Some of the more conservative evangelical Republicans didn’t like that the Father had invited a Muslim person to give the opening prayer,” the source said.

    Ryan…has appointed Reps. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) and Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), both former pastors, and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), an Air Force Reserve chaplain, to lead the search effort to find a replacement….

    I mean, I don’t believe this position should exist, but it’s pretty funny that the Republicans tossed a chaplain because he challenged their greed, corruption, and bigotry.

  235. blf says

    Expect hair furor to try a similar stunt soon, 10m Syrians at risk of forfeiting homes under new property law:

    […]
    More than 10 million Syrians who have fled the country’s raging war have been told to lay claim to their homes by early May or risk forfeiting them to the state.

    A property law announced this month has raised widespread fears that Syrian citizens who have opposed Bashar al-Assad face permanent exile and that other people considered loyalists may be given access to their communities.

    With the majority of internally displaced and overseas refugees unable or unwilling to return to prove ownership of properties, analysts and exiles say the law, known as article 10, and the tight timeframe surrounding it could serve as an instrument of demographic change and social engineering.

    It has drawn parallels with […] the absentee property law in Israel in 1950 that legalised seizures from Palestinians driven from their lands.

    […]

    “This is the nail in the coffin for them [Syrian refugees],” said a senior EU official. “This is blatant power consolidation by Assad. It is punitive, not regulatory. Make no mistake. On the one hand, it is normal to do something like this after a natural disaster like an earthquake. But not now. And not like this. The war is still raging and metastasising. It’s not anywhere near over.”

    […]

  236. blf says

    Th Grauniad snarks hair furor, Donald Trump perfects the art of the self-contradictory interview:

    There were so many moments where Trump made literally no sense in a Thursday Fox News interview

    Throughout his life, Donald Trump’s two greatest assets have been his mental stability and being, like, really smart. We all know that because he told us three months ago.

    In fact, when you think about it — and Donald Trump has — if you consider his business life, and his TV stardom, and his presidential victory, you’d have to say he was not smart, but genius. And a very stable genius at that.

    So we can only assume that the blithering, paranoid egomaniac who somehow hoodwinked his way onto Fox News Channel’s morning show was an imposter. Someone pretending to be the very stable genius who is the 45th President of the United States.

    Talk about a crank caller. In just 30 glorious minutes of live television, the person known as “Donald Trump” proceeded to demolish two of his lawyer’s arguments about client-attorney privilege and paying hush money to a porn star, as well as his own pee-tape alibi that he never stayed overnight in Moscow.

    Along the way, he indulged in more conspiracy theories about the FBI, promised to fire people at the justice department, and made it clear he was doing nothing to celebrate the birthday of his long-suffering wife.

    […]

    Talking of Emmanuel, as “Trump” called him, he has apparently changed his mind about this whole Iran nuclear deal after spending some quality time with the man who once told us that a nuclear holocaust that would be like no other.

    He is viewing Iran a lot differently than before he walked into the Oval Office, said the guy pretending to make America great again.

    That wasn’t quite how Macron himself put it, telling reporters that Trump was making “insane” changes to international agreements, including his likely scrapping of the Iran deal.

    The Fox News interview was clearly the work of an evil genius determined to undermine the otherwise unblemished first year of the Trump presidency. Was it a coincidence that it happened just a few minutes after Trump’s nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary pulled out amid a firestorm of allegations about passing out drunk, over-prescribing opioids, wrecking cars and harassing women?

    Our dogged Fox interviewers tried to ask “Trump” about who he might nominate to succeed Ronny Jackson, but instead he indulged in an extended defense of the man whose reputation was now on life support.

    […] All it took was a reference to former FBI director James Comey to prize out this pearl on Russia: There’s no collusion with me and the Russians. Nobody has been tougher to Russia than I am. You can ask President Putin about that, he said, before mumbling something about an aluminum tax.

    Yes, let’s ask Putin about all that collusion. He’s been so very helpful with the inquiries into the nerve agent they casually sprinkled around England.

    […]

    To echo our genius-in-chief, “many people” have said that Fox and Friends is not a serious journalistic enterprise. Between Doocy and Kilmeade, you might cobble together the bread for half a sandwich in a picnic on any other channel.

    However, “many people” might just be wrong. What other show could have suckered Donald Trump into destroying the legal case of his own lawyer? What other show could have wrapped up such a compelling interview by telling the president that he was probably too busy to continue?

    Seriously, this show is a pioneer in so many unexpected ways, it truly deserves its own corner in the Smithsonian, somewhere between the first margarita machine and the first pigeon-guided missile.

    When “Trump” was mid-way through a rant about Comey not getting busted for crimes by the justice department, Doocy stepped in.

    “It’s your justice department,” he declared. “Mr President, Mr President, you’re the Republican in charge. You’ve got a Republican running it.”

    Even the slice of white bread called Doocy knows how ridiculous this sounds.

    The answer was, like, really smart: “Because of the fact they have this witch hunt going on with people in the justice department that shouldn’t be there, they have a witch hunt against the President of the United States going on, I’ve taken the position — and I don’t have to take the position and maybe I’ll change — that I will not be involved with the justice department. I will wait til it’s over.”

    That’s at least three self-contradictions in one short answer. What kind of genius accuses his own justice department of a witch hunt in the same sentence as insisting that he won’t take a position on the same justice department, while still promising to do just that?

    A very stable one.

  237. says

    “Wait, Did Stormy Daniels’ Lawyer Just Hint That a $1.6 Million Abortion Payout May Have Been for Trump and Not That GOP Donor?”

    He did seem to hint that. But while Avenatti might be right that Cohen’s lawyer didn’t list Broidy as amongst his clients in open court (I recall the same thing: they listed Trump, the Trump Org., and, eventually, Hannity), he is listed in their letter (p. 3) as one of Cohen’s three clients. So that’s oddly inconsistent…

  238. blf says

    Jeff Sessions is shamefully undermining WEB Du Bois’s legacy:

    A justice department program of research fellowships in the civil rights leader’s name has been twisted to suit the attorney general’s agenda

    Since 2002, the US Department of Justice’s WEB Du Bois program has sponsored research fellowships on issues of race and criminal justice. During Republican and Democratic administrations, a diverse group of academics have carried the spirit of the noted sociologist and civil rights leader to the race challenges of the 21st century. Given the racial disparity endemic at every stage of the justice system the DoJ’s investigation of these issues has been praiseworthy.

    But with Jeff Sessions as attorney general exploring the roots of this injustice may now be compromised. In the recently released solicitation for the Du Bois fellowships the DoJ invited scholars to engage in research on five issues arising out of the “tough on crime” era that would make a student of the Du Bois legacy shudder.

    Whereas Du Bois is widely known for promoting the idea that “the problem of the 20th century is the problem of the color line”, the DoJ solicitation displays no interest in such high-profile issues as police killings of unarmed black men or the impact of mass incarceration on the African American community. Instead, protecting police officers is the only area of law enforcement prioritized by the DoJ.

    One way to protect policegoons is to emphasize deescalation, albeit that — and having unarmed police (like Ireland and Great Britain) — is not the sort of thing one would expect to win fellowships from the hair furor dalekocracy. (Yelling “Exterminate! Exterminate!” and being unable to use stairs would qualify for multiple fellowships.)

    Another research priority, enhancing immigration enforcement, coming at a moment when barely disguised racist imagery accompanies those policies, seems particularly jarring when upheld in the name of a civil rights legend.

    […]

    […] Sessions now requires that federal prosecutors seek the most serious charge they can bring in every [drugs?] case. This policy is faulty on two counts. First, it fails to recognize that no two crimes or defendants are exactly alike, and that sentencing needs to be individualized. Second, the directive conflicts with the ethical standard for prosecutors to seek justice, not vengeance. In some cases, justice may represent a prison term, in others it may be placement in residential drug treatment.

    Sessions also has emerged as the primary political obstacle to the bipartisan sentencing reform movement on Capitol Hill, and joined with President Trump’s barbaric call for the death penalty for drug sellers.[…]

    […]

    Perhaps most unsettling about the Du Bois initiative and the thrust of current policy is its disconnect from evidence and the current realities of crime and justice. […]

  239. says

    Interesting. In the partial transcript Avenatti posted to highlight the discussion of Hannity during the previous hearing, which I read to see if there was any mention of Broidy (there wasn’t, but it’s not a full transcript), the SDNY lawyer McKay refers to an opinion by a Judge Jones (a woman) suggesting that without a review of the documents prosecutors are unfairly disadvantaged. Jones is a common name obviously, but still I assume that’s the same Jones who was just appointed special master.

  240. says

    Today is like the encapsulation of what we warned during the campaign a Trump “presidency” would be like:

    The same morning his totally unqualified pick for VA Secretary who was only announced (with no vetting) to divert from Trump’s numerous scandals and who had earlier lied in a press conference about Trump’s physical and mental health himself withdrew his name from consideration amid scandalous allegations leaving the agency without permanent leadership, Trump, who hasn’t done a regular media interview for more than a year [since the one in which he bragged that he had lied about his reason for firing the FBI director (whom he had asked to pledge loyalty and to drop the investigation into Trump’s NSA Michael Flynn who has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador about sanctions during the transition); that took place shortly after he had revealed crucial intelligence about Israel to the Russian ambassador and Foreign Minister in the Oval Office], went on Fox & Friends and attacked the leadership of the FBI and the Special Counsel who is investigating him for obstruction of justice and his campaign for conspiring with the Kremlin to attack the 2016 election (and already produced multiple indictments and guilty pleas, including an indictment of Trump’s former campaign manager) and threatened once again to do away with the rule of law, and also told a series of absurd lies to the American people, and harmed the legal case of his fixer Michael Cohen (whose home, hotel room, office, and safety deposit box were recently raided by the FBI’s public corruption unit, and who might have conspired with Russia) by claiming Cohen did very little of his legal work, but at the same time harmed his own legal interests by admitting Cohen represented him when he paid $130,000 to XXX film star (and equestrian) Stormy Daniels a couple weeks before the election to remain silent about a sexual relationship about which she claims she was threatened (physically) by a thug connected to Trump and (non-physically) by Cohen before the election, while Trump’s EPA Administrator the corporate stooge Scott Pruitt who is one of many cabinet members dedicated to destroying the environment and protections for people while giving more power to corporations testified in defense of his boundless corruption and Diamond and Silk lied under oath in a ridiculous and embarrassing congressional hearing, and the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to advance a bill to protect the special counsel but McConnell has vowed not to bring it to the Senate floor for a vote while we learn that Ryan (who refuses to remove Devin Nunes who has destroyed the House Intelligence Committee and has weaponized it against the intelligence community, DoJ, and Russia investigation) forced the resignation of the Boehner-appointed congressional chaplain because he prayed that the House would see their way to policies that help all USians rather than increasing rampant inequality during the markup of the 2017 tax law that stole from generations to hand more than a trillion dollars to corporations and the very rich…

    And this leaves out so much.

  241. says

    Bravo, Ryan: “Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), one of the leaders of the committee searching for a replacement for the ousted House chaplain, said the next spiritual leader of the House should be someone with a family who can better relate and counsel lawmakers with spouses and children.”

  242. KG says

    Well, I’m disappointed in our royals. Initially, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said their new son’s name would be “Announced In Due Course”. Highly original, I thought. But clearly, they’ve been subjected to pressure from the more staid members of the family, and he’s now been called “Louis Arthur Charles”.

  243. says

    Yikes – “Claims by Joy Reid’s Cybersecurity Expert Fall Apart: The Daily Beast investigated the MSNBC host’s claims that someone hacked her old blogs to make her appear homophobic and found that the evidence provided crumbles under scrutiny.”

    I suspect this is correct:

    …If she wasn’t hacked, it doesn’t necessarily follow that Reid is lying. Her decision to hire a security consultant to investigate the posts, and a lawyer to demand the access logs for her blog account, suggests she genuinely believes at least some of the posts were planted. After 12 years and tens of thousands of written words, Reid simply may not remember.

    It’s possible that in the end Reid will discover her adversary isn’t a determined hacker, but a far more dogged foe: The Joy-Ann Reid of years past, writing in a voice she can no longer recognize as her own.

  244. says

    It’s funny that if Ryan hadn’t forced the chaplain to resign I (and likely many others) wouldn’t have known about the tax prayer. Now it’s being quoted everywhere, and could be featured in Democratic campaign ads.

  245. says

    Further to #386 – “It’s possible that in the end Reid will discover her adversary isn’t a determined hacker, but a far more dogged foe: The Joy-Ann Reid of years past, writing in a voice she can no longer recognize as her own.”

    And a pack of rightwing scumbags cynically exploiting the situation to try to damage an influential opponent.

  246. says

    “Three U.S. senators move to block F-35 transfers to Turkey”:

    …The bill, by Republicans James Lankford and Thom Tillis, and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, comes at a time of deteriorating relations between the United States and Turkey, which supported the fight against Islamic State but has become increasingly worried about U.S. backing for Kurdish fighters in north Syria.

    The three senators, in introducing the bill, issued a statement expressing concern that Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan had embarked on a “path of reckless governance and disregard for the rule of law.”

    “Turkey’s strategic decisions regrettably fall more and more out of line with, and at times in contrast to, U.S. interests. These factors make the transfer of sensitive F-35 technology and cutting-edge capabilities to Erdogan’s regime increasingly risky,” Lankford said in the statement….

  247. says

    “Lawyer Who Was Said to Have Dirt on Clinton Had Closer Ties to Kremlin Than She Let On”:

    The Russian lawyer who met with Trump campaign officials in Trump Tower in June 2016 on the premise that she would deliver damaging information about Hillary Clinton has long insisted she is a private attorney, not a Kremlin operative trying to meddle in the presidential election.

    But newly released emails show that in at least one instance two years earlier, the lawyer, Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, worked hand in glove with Russia’s chief legal office to thwart a Justice Department civil fraud case against a well-connected Russian firm.

    Ms. Veselnitskaya also appears to have recanted her earlier denials of Russian government ties. During an interview to be broadcast Friday by NBC News, she acknowledged that she was not merely a private lawyer but a source of information for a top Kremlin official, Yuri Y. Chaika, the prosecutor general.

    “I am a lawyer, and I am an informant,” she said. “Since 2013, I have been actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general.”

    The previously undisclosed details about Ms. Veselnitskaya rekindle questions about who she was representing when she met with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and others at Trump Tower in Manhattan during the campaign….

    The emails were obtained by Dossier, an organization set up by Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, a former tycoon who was stripped of his oil holdings, imprisoned and then exiled from his native Russia. He has emerged as a leading opponent of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

    The exchanges document Mr. Chaika’s response to a Justice Department request in 2014 for help with its civil fraud case against a real estate firm, Prevezon Holdings Ltd., and its owner, Denis P. Katsyv, a well-connected Russian businessman.

    The judge in the case later wrote that the Russian government had “spurned” the Justice Department’s request for evidence, instead sending a lengthy treatise on why Ms. Veselnitskaya’s client was innocent.

    Ms. Veselnitskaya’s involvement in the official communications with the Russian government “raises serious questions about obstruction of justice and false statements,” said Jaimie Nawaday, a former assistant United States attorney in Manhattan who was a prosecutor on the case.

    She said Ms. Veselnitskaya’s actions should be referred to the United States attorney’s office for investigation, including whether she misrepresented herself to the court. “It’s completely outrageous,” Ms. Nawaday said.

    …In a telephone interview, Mr. Khodorkovsky said someone had deposited the email records anonymously into an electronic drop box maintained by his organization….

  248. says

    I was just reading this section of the report, didn’t recall knowing it before, and went to look for whether it had appeared in earlier news reports. It hadn’t, but Raw Story likewise noticed it a few minutes ago:

    he House Republicans’ report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election claims that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia — despite the fact that it also contains a potentially damaging new piece of evidence against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.

    Specifically, the report claims that both Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., met with former Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at his private residence in early December of 2015 — just two months before Flynn would formally join the Trump campaign as a foreign policy adviser.

    What’s more, the report says that Flynn Jr. sent an email to the Russian embassy after the meeting that described it as “very productive.”

    This was just ahead of Flynn’s trip to Moscow for the RT celebration.

  249. says

    From Amy Davidson Sorkin:

    “The top people in the F.B.I., headed by Comey, were crooked!” Donald Trump, apparently yelling into a phone at the White House, said in a call-in interview with “Fox & Friends,” on Thursday morning. […] Were it not for the oral exclamation points, it would be much harder to guess, when Trump speaks, where his sentences end—and, in this case, where his threats to obstruct justice might lead. […]

    It would have been very easy for Trump to decline to comment on Cohen’s troubles, […] “this crazy Stormy Daniels deal” is so crazy largely because Trump and his lawyers have done pretty much everything they could to make it more public and worse for themselves. It is in keeping with the legal madness that the case in which Cohen says he will remain silent is one that he set in motion—first by asking an arbitrator to enforce the hush agreement (which Trump, incidentally, never got around to signing) and then by filing to move the proceedings to a federal court in California. […]

    […] “Michael is in business,” he said, beginning a riff that might be set to music. “He’s really a businessman, and fairly big businesses, I understand, and I don’t know his business—but this doesn’t have to do with me. Michael is a businessman, he’s got a business. He also practices law, I would say, probably the big thing is his business. And they’re looking at something having to do with his business. I have nothing to do with his business. I could tell you, he’s a good guy.” […]

    I like the snark that blf posted in comment 369. That seems to be the appropriate response to any of Trump’s rants.

  250. says

    From the New York Times:

    Half of the top aides who came to the White House with Mr. Trump in 2017 are gone, many under painful circumstances, either because they fell out with the boss or came under the harsh scrutiny that comes with him. Some of the president’s longest-serving aides have left with bruises. His son and son-in-law have hired lawyers and been interrogated. Even his lawyers now have lawyers as they face inquiries of their own.

    Proximity to Mr. Trump has been a crushing experience for many who arrived with stellar careers and independent reputations yet ended up losing so much. Rex W. Tillerson ran the world’s largest energy company. David Shulkin was a respected doctor and a “high priest” of the medical world. Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster was an admired warrior. So was John F. Kelly. Jeff Sessions held a safe seat in Congress. So did Tom Price. Now all of them are known for unhappy associations with Mr. Trump.

    From the Washington Post:

    Think about it: Is there a single Trump aide or official who will leave the service of this president with their reputation enhanced, or at least not diminished? … Your reputation is broken the moment you decide to work for Trump.

    From BuzzFeed:

    Trump administration officials looking to escape to the private sector are getting a rude awakening: No one wants to hire them.

    Companies and firms who used to recruit from presidential administrations and brag when they were successful in poaching an aide are making the calculation that the risks of bringing on a Trump administration official outweigh the rewards, according to interviews with 10 current and former administration officials, top recruiters, and lobbyists who did not want to be named to talk candidly.

  251. says

    Trump’s view of the catastrophuck interview he granted to Fox News yesterday does not match reality. Trump thinks he did so well and had so much fun that he should do the same thing again … at least that’s what Kellyanne Conway says.

    […] Trump had such “a great time” giving an untamed, 30-minute interview to “Fox and Friends” on Thursday that he wants to do it again, on a monthly basis. […]

    White House counselor Kellyanne Conway dropped the monthly exclusive bombshell on “Fox and Friends” hosts on Friday morning, who responded with a gleeful “Wow!” at the prospect.

    “The President had a great time bringing his case directly to the American people, as he does on social media and those bilateral Q&As certainly at the South Lawn and the press pool sprays and other interviews,” Conway said. “The President has said he would like to perhaps come once a month as news breaks. … He said he wanted to replicate that pretty much on a monthly basis.”

    Conway went on to praise Trump because he “didn’t even put a semicolon in there” during his sometimes angry rant about former FBI Director James Comey, Sen. John Tester (D-MT), his Justice Department and the Russia investigation. Conway praised Trump’s “analytical and conversation skills” and said Trump appreciated the platform. She then went on to revel that “everybody had to replay your clips.”

    “That must have been delicious,” she said.[…]

    Link

  252. says

    Re #394 – The House committee learned about the meeting (which was arranged by the Flynns) from emails produced by the Flynn Intel Group, according to the footnotes. Strange that none of this leaked previously. I think we should see those emails.

  253. Oggie. says

    “Michael is in business,” he said, beginning a riff that might be set to music.

    Michael is a
    (businessman, businessman, businessman)
    He’s really a
    (businessman, businessman, businessman)
    and fairly big businesses
    (businessman, businessman, businessman)
    I understand
    (understand, understand, understand)
    And I don’t know his
    (business, man, business, man, business, man)
    But this doesn’t have to do with me
    (business, man, business, man, business, man)
    No it doesn’t have to do with me
    (business, man, business, man, business, man)
    Michael is a
    (businessman, businessman, businessman)
    He’s got a
    (business, man, business, man, business, man)

    He also practices law, I would say
    Law, I would say,
    Probably the big thing,
    the big thing,
    the big thing, is his
    (business, man, business, man, business, man).
    And they’re looking,
    (Oh yeah, they’re looking)
    at something
    (Oh yeah, they’re looking at something)
    having to do with his business
    (business, man, business, man, business, man)
    I have nothing
    (Oh, yeah, nooooothing)
    To do with his business
    (business, man, business, man, business, man)

    I could tell you
    (Tell you, tell you, tell you)
    Oh, yeah, I could tell you
    (Tell you, tell you, tell you)
    He’s a good guy
    (a good, good, good guy who’s a business, man, business, man, business, man)

    Actually, it would make a pretty good (well, really boring) blues piece.

  254. says

    James Comey’s interview on Fox News was not at all like Trump’s:

    Former FBI Director James Comey on Thursday evening pushed back on President Donald Trump’s claim earlier in the day that he is “a leaker” and “a liar.”

    “He’s just wrong,” Comey told Fox News’ Bret Baier when asked about Trump’s claim. “Facts really do matter, which is why I’m on the show to answer your questions. That memo was unclassified then. It’s still unclassified. It’s in my book. The FBI cleared that book before it could be published. That’s a false statement.” […]

    Link

  255. Oggie. says

    She then went on to revel that “everybody had to replay your clips.”

    Of course they had to replay the clips. In NASCAR, when there is a spectacular multi-car crash at 200 miles an hour, they replay, often in slow motion, from every camera that caught even part of the crash, not to mention the in-the-car cameras. Of course, the NASCAR replay clips show far less damage than the clips of Trump being Trump.

  256. says

    Oggie @401, yeah, a little on the boring side, but that made me smile. Good fodder for a Saturday Night Live sketch.

    In other news, and as a follow-up to the Diamond & Silk discussion up-thread, some Republicans are justifying wasting time with Diamond & Silk by spouting more conspiracy theories:

    During a CNN interview on Friday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) defending using Congress’ time and money to hold a hearing on Diamond & Silk’s baseless claim that Facebook is censoring them by citing a well-known conspiracy website, Gateway Pundit.

    “[Diamond & Silk’s] message is their Facebook and their Twitters and their YouTubes have been suppressed by algorithms,” King asserted. “I know that’s true.”

    Host Chris Cuomo challenged King on the point, asking him why he believes it’s true. Data analyzed by ThinkProgress indicates not only that Diamond & Silk haven’t been suppressed by Facebook, but that their total interactions have actually grown since last year — something that can’t be said for liberal pages.

    “How do you know it’s true? Facebook says it’s not true,” Cuomo pointed out.

    King replied by citing the Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft.

    “I have data that came to me from Jim Hoft of the Gateway Pundit, and I would have liked to have had him as a witness yesterday,” King said.

    “The conspiracy-advancing blogger, the Gateway Pundit — that’s who you want to rely on as your source?” Cuomo pushed back.

    “I would never describe Jim Hoft that way,” King said. “I would describe him as an objective conservative pundit — yes — but not a conspiracy-advancing one.”

    Cuomo noted that Hoft recently identified the wrong person as the Las Vegas shooter in an attempt to smear Democrats. Hoft has also published false, incendiary stories using nothing more than “Reddit users” as sources, and played a leading role in pushing false conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s health during the 2016 campaign. […]

    Link

  257. says

    SC @403, ha! I don’t know how that relationship works. At one time, Kellyanne Conway’s husband deleted some of his tweets that were critical of Trump. Nice to see he is back to being himself. Kellyanne sleeps with a hanger in her mouth so that she can keep smiling. Perpetually smiling.

  258. says

    SC @406, Oh, dear god, they quote Jared Kushner as stating “categorically that the Trump campaign ‘did not collude, cooperate, whatever other ‘C’ words you used, with any foreign governments.'” Well, okay then, that settles it.

    Sheesh.

    Oggie @404, Yes. That’s what I thought. Replaying those clips is not a good thing.

  259. says

    Corey Lewandowski went to Belgrade. It’s all perfectly innocent, right?

    Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski showed up in Belgrade, Serbia, on Monday, where he spoke at a roundtable event for business officials […] But his visit raised questions about whether he was also there as a lobbyist—activity Lewandowski has denied doing since the 2016 election—with one prominent local politician accusing Lewandowski of seeking a deal to help Serbia’s president gain access to President Trump.

    […] He also met with a group of prominent business leaders and posed for pictures with Aleksandar Nikolić, a senior Serbian politician and chairman of East West Bridge’s board of governors.

    According to Nikolić’s biography from East West Bridge, he is a top official in Serbia’s Ministry of Interior and is a co-founder of the conservative Serbian Progressive Party, which is led by Serbia’s current president Aleksander Vucic.

    Lewandowski was accompanied by Mike Rubino and Jason Osborne, two former Trump campaign aides who are now registered lobbyists for Turnberry Solutions—a firm headquartered in the Capitol Hill townhouse where Lewandowski lives and which his friends have dubbed “The Lewandowski Embassy.”

    Lewandowski has denied any connection to Turnberry Solutions, which is named after a Scottish golf course owned by President Trump. Lewandowski has also denied that he pursues work lobbying for foreign governments, despite multiple reports suggesting that he has been touting access to Trump to win business from foreign leaders. […] The Daily Beast reported last week that Lewandowski helped broker a deal between a group of Poland’s top military contractors and the BGR Group. […]

    The Belgrade visit raises new questions about whether Lewandowski is indeed engaging in foreign influence peddling. […]

    A leading member of the Serbian opposition party, Vuk Jeremic, claimed Tuesday that during Lewandowski’s recent visit he was attempting to broker a contract for Turnberry to represent Serbian President Aleksander Vucic in Washington. […] The lawmaker, a former Serbian foreign minister, also alleged that Lewandowski offered to set up phone calls between the Vucic and President Donald Trump. Jeremic also said he was concerned that Vucic would not sign a transparent contract but instead use a third party to keep payments for lobbying secret. […]

    https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2018/04/what-exactly-was-corey-lewandowski-just-doing-in-belgrade/

  260. says

    The House Republican report blames the campaign’s hiring of Page and Papadopoulos on the Republican foreign policy establishment for refusing to support/advise Trump, and sneers at the gall of Democratic members of the Committee to ask questions of witnesses concerning the involvement of Russians in Trump projects in New York, Toronto, and Panama.

  261. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 410.

    From former CIA Director John Brennan:

    A highly partisan, incomplete, and deeply flawed report by a broken House Committee means nothing. The Special Counsel’s work is being carried out by professional investigators—not political staffers. SC’s findings will be comprehensive & authoritative. Stay tuned, Mr. Trump….

  262. says

    Trump’s view of the report:

    Just Out: House Intelligence Committee Report released. “No evidence” that the Trump Campaign “colluded, coordinated or conspired with Russia.” Clinton Campaign paid for Opposition Research obtained from Russia- Wow! A total Witch Hunt! MUST END NOW!

  263. says

    Heather Digby Parton’s description of Trump’s catastrophuck interview on Fox News:

    […] The president doesn’t drink coffee or I might have suspected he’d had a couple of quad espressos before he picked up the phone. Perhaps he downs a six pack of Diet Cokes upon waking. Whatever the case, he was as manic and disjointed as we’ve ever heard him. And that’s saying something.

    He started off by saying it was Melania’s birthday, admitting he had only gotten her a card. Then went on about how much France loves him and then something about Iran and small boats circling and “barrels” full of money.

    Next he launched into a long diatribe about the supposed Democratic obstructionists who are failing to confirm his appointees, followed by a big shout-out to people he called “warriors,” which included the extremists of the Freedom Caucus, his onetime campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and the pro-Trump performance art duo known as Diamond and Silk. (They happened to be testifying before Congress that morning and it was almost as surreal as Trump’s call.)

    Then he rambled on about Dr. Jackson and appeared to threaten Sen. Jon Tester, the Democrat who had released damaging allegations about Jackson, warning the senator that his constituents in Montana really love Trump. […]

    Hmmm. Trump is praising Lewandowski. I wonder if that has anything to do with the trip to Belgrade? See comment 409.

  264. says

    From the Washington Post:

    […] The report accuses the intelligence community of “significant intelligence tradecraft failings” in determining that the Kremlin interfered in the 2016 election to help Trump, suggesting that Russia’s main goal was to sow discord in the United States. It says investigators found “no evidence that the Trump campaign colluded, coordinated, or conspired with the Russian government” — even as it details contacts between Trump campaign officials and Russians or Russian intermediaries.

    The report was met with swift criticism from committee Democrats, who alleged their colleagues had rushed to end their work prematurely in a “a systematic effort to muddy the waters and to deflect attention away from the President.” […]

    The report finds that advisers Trump brought into his campaign were either not acting on Trump’s behalf or unsuccessful in their efforts to pursue ties with Moscow, even though one of those individuals, George Papadopoulos, has admitted to lying to the FBI about his campaign outreach to the Kremlin. The report brushes aside the significance of a troubling meeting in June 2016 at Trump Tower involving Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, campaign manager Paul Manafort and a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin, saying that the meeting never led to the exchange of any useful information from Moscow.

    It goes on to assert that apparent efforts by the campaign and Russia to set up a “back channel” after the election were, counterintuitively, evidence that there was not earlier collusion.

    In contrast, the report goes after government agencies, private investigators and media outlets that pursued information on Trump’s ties to Russia. It faults the FBI and the Obama administration for failing to adequately respond to Russian campaign interference.

    It disparages the infamous “dossier” compiled by a former British spy as full of “second and third-hand” information, and claims that the file was then used to justify putting Trump campaign associates under surveillance — an assertion vehemently disputed by the FBI. […]

  265. says

    Well, that’s one way to explain why so many Republicans are retiring. Alabama Representative Mo Brooks says they are retiring because they are afraid of being assassinated.

    […]“One of the things that’s concerning me is the assassination risk may become a factor. […]

    You have to wonder with that kind of disproportionate retirement number whether what happened in June played a factor […]

    There are a growing number of leftists who believe the way to resolve this is not at the ballot box but through threats and sometimes through violence and assassinations […]

    Link

    Sounds like projection to me.

  266. says

    Oh, that’s right – I had forgotten that they’d already scaled so far back on their demands that they were asking prosecutors not to charge them with any more crimes.

  267. says

    Update to #413 – Rep. Joe Crowley:

    I asked for an investigation into why Speaker Ryan fired the House Chaplain and whether it was for a prayer urging Congress to consider all Americans — including the poor — in our work.

    House Republicans just said no.

  268. says

    “Finally, the Court notes that it is not at all clear that there is a case or controversy to be heard in the wake of the surgery that plaintiff has performed on his own complaint. The only aspect of this case that is left standing is Manafort’s effort to forestall unspecified and as yet unknown future developments in the Special Counsel investigation, and a claim of that nature, where the harm is purely speculative, raises significant standing and ripeness issues.”

  269. says

    To be clear: This was a dismissal of the civil case only, and one of the reasons for the dismissal is that adequate remedies for Manafort to challenge the indictments exist in the criminal process. So this isn’t a ruling about whether Mueller or Rosenstein exceeded their authority. That will be a separate order to come in the criminal case.

    For all of these reasons, Manafort’s civil case will be dismissed, and his concerns regarding the Special Counsel’s investigation will be taken up in the criminal case.

    A separate order will issue.

  270. says

    The section of the HPSCI Republican report on the change in the Republican platform at the RNC is pretty appalling. They play on confusion to paint a false picture, comparing the final text to the original text rather than correctly noting that it’s a watered-down version of the proposed Denham* amendment, so they can claim that “the original plank was strengthened, rather than weakened” when the real question is about the change in the amendment from supporting the provision of “lethal defensive weapons” to Ukraine to the provision of “appropriate assistance” to Ukraine.

    They say they assess (!) that this language was more “flexible” because it could include humanitarian and other assistance (without noting that other forms of assistance could simply have been added alongside lethal defensive weapons), without acknowledging that the amended language was made weaker through the intercession of Trump campaign aides. They refer to “debate among the delegates” but offer no description of what went on.

    They refuse to mention: that this was the only area of the Republican platform the Trump campaign weighed in on; that people involved said at the time and since that it was all very unexpected and strange; or that JD Gordon told several conflicting stories over several months about what had happened, more recently admitting that he was in contact with senior campaign officials about the plank when it was being amended.

    * The name is redacted several times and then…not. But it was known in any event.