Discuss: Political Madness All the Time

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

(Previous thread)


  1. says

    Trump makes excuses for not preparing properly for the summit with North Korea:

    I think I’m very well prepared. I don’t think I have to prepare very much. It’s about the attitude. It’s about willingness to get things done. But I think I’ve been preparing for the summit for a long time. As has the other side…They’ve been preparing for a long time, also. So this isn’t a question of preparation, it’s a question of whether or not people want it to happen, and we’ll know that very quickly.

    Trump also repeated several times that he is “willing to walk away.”

    He made the point that he walked away from the Iran nuclear deal, and that now Iran is “very different,” and that Iran has “very different leaders.”

  2. says

    A link back to the previous chapter of this thread, to a comment about the Democrats pushing Trump to end his administration’s “inhumane decision” to separate children from their parents at the border.

    A link back to the previous chapter of this thread, to a comment about Trump’s fake patriotism, and a look at the real patriotism of the Lynx team.

  3. says

    It looks like Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is taking a page out the Trump playbook in order to bully National Park superintendents:

    Yellowstone National Park’s superintendent said Thursday he’s being forced out as a “punitive action” following disagreements with the Trump administration over how many bison the park can sustain, a longstanding source of conflict between park officials and ranchers in neighboring Montana.

    Superintendent Dan Wenk last week announced he intended to retire March 30, 2019, after being offered a transfer he didn’t want to take. […]

    He wasn’t given a reason and said the only dispute he’s had with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who oversees the park service, was over bison.

    Ranchers in neighboring Montana have long sought reductions in Yellowstone’s bison numbers […]

    Park biologists contend the current population of more than 4,000 bison is sustainable. But Zinke and his staff have said the number is too high, Wenk said, […]

    Zinke is a former Montana congressman. His close attention to projects back home has stirred speculation Zinke has future political ambitions in the state. […]

    Wenk said he’d had multiple conversations with Zinke and his staff about bison, most recently this week.

    “We’re not a livestock operation. We’re managing a national park with natural systems,” he said. “We do not believe the bison population level is too high or that any scientific studies would substantiate that.” […]

    Yellowstone straddles the borders of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho and was established in the 1872 as the first national park. […]


  4. says

    Ben Carson has proven himself to be a dunderhead when it comes to helping poor and low-income people.

    Housing Secretary Ben Carson says his latest proposal to raise rents would mean a path toward self-sufficiency for millions of low-income households across the United States by pushing more people to find work. For Ebony Morris and her four small children, it could mean homelessness.

    Morris lives in Charleston, South Carolina, where most households receiving federal housing assistance would see their rent go up an average 26 percent, according to an analysis done by Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and provided exclusively to The Associated Press. But her increase would be nearly double that.

    Overall, the analysis shows that in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas, low-income tenants — many of whom have jobs — would have to pay roughly 20 percent more each year for rent under the plan. That rent increase is about six times greater than the growth in average hourly earnings, putting the poorest workers at an increased risk of homelessness because wages simply haven’t kept pace with housing expenses.

    “I saw public housing as an option to get on my feet, to pay 30 percent of my income and get myself out of debt and eventually become a homeowner,” said Morris, whose monthly rent would jump from $403 to $600. “But this would put us in a homeless state.”

    Roughly 4 million low-income households receiving HUD assistance would be affected […]

    The proposal, which needs congressional approval, is the latest attempt by the Trump administration to scale back the social safety net, […]

    Of the 8.3 million people affected by the proposal, more than 3 million are children. […]

    “There’s no evidence that raising rents causes people to work more,” said Will Fischer, a senior policy analyst at the policy center, which advocates for the poor. “For most of these rent increases, I don’t think there’s even a plausible theory for why they would encourage work.”[…]

    The Department of Housing and Urban Development says elderly or disabled households would be exempt from the changes, but an estimated 314,000 households stand to lose their elderly or disabled status and see their rents go up, according to the outside analysis. […]


  5. says

    This is a follow-up of sorts to comment 479 in the previous chapter of this thread.

    […] [Trump’s first lie, a discussion of] the day he descended the escalator in Trump Tower and announced that he was running for president. The lying began with the very first words out of his mouth as a candidate for president: “Wow. Whoa. That is some group of people. Thousands. This is beyond anybody’s expectations. There’s been no crowd like this.”

    He had a row of American flags behind him, and he faced a crowd of what could have been, because of the size of the lobby of Trump Tower, only several hundred spectators. Who were they, these cheering “thousands?” Many in the crowd had been hired from a New York-based casting agency for movie extras, Extra Mile Casting. […]

    CNN would later report that on the street outside Trump Tower, “campaign volunteers flagged down pedestrians to hand them the campaign T-shirts and invite them inside for the announcement.” […]

    And now we see Trump setting up the same kind of fake crowds at White House events. White House used interns to fill out crowd at Trump’s replacement Super Bowl event

    What happens when you throw a Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl celebration party at the White House and no one wants to come? You send in the interns, who may or may not be Eagles fans, to make it look like the replacement anthem-and-flag hootenanny was fulfilling an actual need and not simply an empty, perfunctory exercise in fake patriotism. […]

  6. says

    “All the best people.” Not all of them are in the Trump administration … yet. Jeanine Pirro wants to be a member of the Executive Branch. Hard to believe, but I think she would be worse than Jeff Sessions.

    Fox News host and Trump superfan Jeanine Pirro wants to be attorney general. […] she has repeatedly told aides to […] Trump over the past 18 months that she’s interested in the country’s top law-enforcement job.

    That would seem to be a longshot for a wildly iconoclastic TV host […] But Trump regularly tunes in to her show and has received her in the Oval Office and at Mar-a-Lago, and she’s become one of his most influential advisers on the legal challenges that have come to define his presidency.

    Pirro, a former district attorney and judge in Westchester County, New York, uses her Saturday night show on Fox, Justice with Judge Jeanine, to urge Trump to throw out the top officials at the Justice Department and FBI and replace them with political cronies who will prosecute the Clintons and other Democrats. She persistently claims that “deep state” officials conspired to elect Hillary Clinton and frame Trump—and that the president’s embattled attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is abetting them by recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

    […] She is not shy about pushing Trump to remove Sessions. During one of her fiery opening monologues in May, she called Sessions “the single most of dangerous person to the agenda of President Trump, the Republican Party, and ultimately to all Americans…the most dangerous man in America.” Her reasoning is that Sessions won’t take government traitors and Democrats “out in cuffs” […]


  7. says

    The Scott Pruitt “Swamp King” stories just don’t stop.

    The tomfoolery of Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency’s leader, has reached a new level, somehow.

    This week, we learned that he directed an aide, Millan Hupp (who has since resigned), to run personal errands for him last year, including looking into buying a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel, finding housing, and booking vacations.

    There are rules against asking federal employees to perform personal tasks, as well as restrictions on employees providing gifts of time or material to their bosses. There are additional rules limiting what you’re allowed to do on government time.

    Then on Thursday, the Washington Post reported that Pruitt also sent his 24-hour security detail, which costs $3.5 million, to run errands for him, including driving him to multiple locations to look for a moisturizing lotion offered by Ritz-Carlton hotels, and picking up his dry cleaning, though the time frame wasn’t specified. […]


    I wouldn’t call that “tomfoolery,” I’d call it corruption.

  8. says

    Trump’s hurricane briefing at FEMA covered a lot of topics. Puerto Rico wasn’t one of them.

    […] US presidents hold a yearly briefing with FEMA leaders to discuss how the government is preparing for the hurricane season, which this year started June 1, and the president usually gives public remarks beforehand to remind Americans to prepare too. That’s not what happened this year.

    Trump spent most of his time boasting about his administration’s accomplishments and praising his Cabinet officials, who were also present.

    When he did get around to talking about hurricanes, he mentioned Puerto Rico only once, lumping it in with a few other states hit by natural disasters in 2017. […]

    Trump praised Scott Pruitt, but couldn’t be bothered to address the issue of deaths in Puerto Rico, of botched FEMA contracts, of power outages in Puerto Rico, etc.

  9. says

    ” Spare the Rod: Should Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recuse himself from the Russia probe? The relevant ethics rules say no.”:

    Does Rod Rosenstein have a conflict of interest that requires him to recuse from the Russia investigation? Those asking the question point to the deputy attorney general’s purported contacts with the president around the firing of James Comey — and in particular his authorship of a memorandum Trump purportedly consulted as part of his decision to cashier the then FBI director.

    Do these questions—suggestions, really—point to a genuine problem? The latest example is Sen. Lindsey Graham’s just-released May 31 letter in which he asked Rosenstein if he should recuse himself “from further interactions with and oversight of the Mueller investigation.”

    As watchdogs and experts on government conflicts who have advised on thousands of them over a combined half-century of legal practice, the answer is a resounding no. Any suggestion of a disabling conflict at this stage is contrary to ethics rules. Rosenstein’s involvement in the case has quite properly been cleared by Department of Justice career ethics officials — the same individuals who appropriately recommended that Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuse. The fact that Rosenstein may be a fact witness in a case that he supervises does not provide sufficient grounds for his recusal under any of the applicable standards….

    Analysis at the link.

  10. says

    Maggie Haberman: “Yikes. I asked @FLOTUS spokeswoman @StephGrisham45 about Giuliani saying that she believes her husband re Stormy Daniels. Response: ‘I don’t believe Mrs. Trump has ever discussed her thoughts on anything with Mr. Giuliani’.”

  11. says

    Katie Bo Williams:

    INBOX: DOJ Inspector General today wrote Senate Judiciary Chair Charles Grassley that the IG report will be released on *June 14.* (A week from today.)

    IG Michael Horowitz has accepted the committee’s invitation to testify at a hearing on Monday, June 18.

  12. says

    Further to #11 – Macron:

    The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be. Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force.

  13. says

    Trump is scheduled to leave for the G-7 Summit in Canada tomorrow. Trump’s preparation seems to be hurling vague insults, including insulting his Canadian hosts.

    Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.

  14. says

    Uh-oh. This sounds like it could be bad news. Trump wants to claw back $15 billion in spending that he previously approved when he signed a bipartisan government funding bill. Republicans in the House agree with Trump.

    The House voted along party lines late Thursday to pass a White House proposal that would claw back nearly $15 billion in previously approved government funding.

    The House approved the measure in a vote of 210-206, with conservatives calling it a step in the right direction after they ripped into the price tag of the $1.3 trillion spending bill President Trump signed earlier this year. […]

    “The HISTORIC Rescissions Package we’ve proposed would cut $15,000,000,000 in Wasteful Spending! We are getting our government back on track,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. […]

    Opponents blasted the administration’s decision […]

    “The nearly $15 billion in rescissions cut numerous efforts to create jobs, […]. It cuts funding for the economic development administration, and for community development financial institutions. Both of which create jobs in rural areas and distress communities,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, said on the floor.

    House GOP leadership dismissed the claim, citing a nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report affirming that no child would lose their insurance due to the spending clawback.

    […] House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said ahead of the vote, “In fact, we overfunded the CHIP program, and so as that surplus money was identified, we made sure that that money will be able to be used to reduce the deficit and go to other things.” […]

    The CBO analysis supported Republican arguments that the plan would not affect children’s health. Its analysis found that the rescissions would not affect any spending on children’s health, and would not affect any coverage. But it also showed that the move would have little impact on spending. […]

    As far as deficits go, the CBO found that the bill would only cut about $1.1 billion in spending over a decade, an infinitesimal amount when compared to annual spending that has already topped $4 trillion, mostly from mandatory spending outside the budgetary process. […]

    Whether the Senate will move on the measure remains unclear. […]

    If the Senate passes the rescission bill, it will be the largest single presidential rescission request to pass since 1974, when the current budgetary process was put in place. […]


  15. says

    Here we go again. Team Trump is making yet another move to damage or destroy Obamacare.

    In a dramatic move, the Trump administration declared its intention to refuse to defend the Affordable Care Act from a federal lawsuit by 20 GOP-controlled states who are arguing that Congress’ repeal of the individual mandate renders parts of the rest of the health care law unconstitutional, according to a filing from the Department of Justice Thursday evening.

    In particular, the administration is arguing that the ACA’s ban on discrimination based on pre-existing conditions and limits on charging older patients higher premiums are invalid, and they are requesting that the court put a halt to those provisions in January of 2019, when enforcement of the individual mandate is set to be terminated. […]

    Thursday’s legal brief is a new phase of the administration’s crusade against the ACA. It is extremely rare, but not unprecedented, for the Justice Department to refuse to defend a federal law, as the agency is generally duty-bound to argue in defense of any current laws or policies that come under legal challenge. […]

    In this case, even though the DOJ is refusing to defend the ACA, several attorneys general representing blue states, led by California, have intervened in defense of the law and will argue that it should be preserved in its entirety. […]

    “The reasoning is worse than ridiculous,” a source involved in the lawsuit on behalf of groups defending the ACA. “And the consequence is that starting next year – sick and old people will have to pay much more for coverage – the key element of the Obama reforms.” […]


  16. says

    From SC’s link in comment 13:

    When his fury subsided, the boy collapsed on the kitchen floor, still sobbing. “Mama, Papa,” he said, over and over.

    Nearby lay the family pictures, which he had flung on the floor.

    That’s the reaction of José, a 5-year-old boy who does not know if he will ever see his family again.

    Yes, team Trump’s immigration policies are evil.

  17. says

    […] The lying, the cheating, the racism, the sexism, the cruelty, the backstabbing and hypocrisy has risen to a level one can barely stand. It has reached a whole new level. Stormy Daniels has value. Stormy Daniels is a person. Stormy Daniels should not have been threatned. Stormy Daniels should not be demeaned. Melania is the FLOTUS…and this is a boomerang Rudy just flung.


    See Giuliani defends misogynistic rant against Stormy Daniels for more background information. Excerpt below.

    “If you’re a (feminist) and you support the porn industry, you should turn in your credentials.”

    “I know Donald Trump…when you look at his three wives, right? Beautiful women, classy women, women of great substance, but Stormy Daniels?” Giuliani said.

    Melania, however, posed nude over sixteen years ago for GQ magazine, undermining his own argument.

    “I respect all women. I even have to respect criminals,” Giuliani said. “But I’m sorry, I don’t respect a porn star the way I respect a career woman, a woman of substance, or a woman who has great respect for herself as a woman and as a person and isn’t going to sell her body for sexual exploitation.” […]

  18. says

    Big article from Natasha Bertrand – “Senate Investigators May Have Found a Missing Piece in the Russia Probe: An ex-congressman has alleged ties to the Trump campaign—as well as to powerful figures in Russia and Ukraine. Finding out what he knows is crucial, a top Democrat in the Senate says.”

    You really have to read the whole thing, but it connects former congressman Curt Weldon to attempts to lift sanctions on Russia and to that Artemenko/Cohen/Sater pro-Kremlin “peace plan” from last year, with which Vekselberg was apparently involved (could help explain why Vekselberg’s cousin’s company paid Cohen more than a million dollars). Dianne Feinstein, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has been seeking more information about Weldon and his connections to Cohen and so forth for a while.

  19. says

    Dan Pfeiffer: “The American President leaves summit with Canada and the Europeans in a fit of anger so he can get to Singapore in time to pay the North Korean dictator’s hotel incidentals is a weird turn of events.”

  20. says

    Daniel Dale:

    Premier Doug Ford! Canada’s biggest province elects a right-wing populist – Rob’s brother, businessman, millionaire heir who ran against “elites” and for the “little guy”; one-term city councillor who vows to clean up a scandal-plagued Ontario government.

  21. says

    Lynna @ #20, I can’t get this sentence out of my head: “Dona Abbott, Bethany’s refugee program director, said that these newly separated children frequently have nightmares, anxiety and stomachaches.”

  22. says

    Adam Davidson commenting on the video of #22 above: “This was a carefully-practiced line. He prepared for this. It was very important to him. It’s obvious in how he says it; how he is visibly remembering the precise words he came up with.”

    (Also, this is how “politically correct” has come to be used – it’s “politically correct” to eject a regime from a multinational body for invading a neighboring country and lying about it.)

  23. says

    “Italy breaks with European allies and voices support for Russia after populist party takes power”:

    Italy’s incoming right-wing populist prime minister has used his maiden speech to call for the lifting of sanctions against Russia, opening a rift with the country’s EU allies on the issue.

    Giuseppe Conte, who leads a coalition of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and far-right League, said his government would “promote a review of the sanctions system” in meetings with other EU leaders.

    In his first speech to the Italian senate, Mr Conte outlined his administration’s priorities, including a crackdown on irregular migrants and an end to austerity economic policies.

    A lawyer with practically no political experience, Mr Conte was the PM choice of League leader Matteo Salvini and Five Star leader Luigi di Maio. The two politicians will now serve as his deputy prime ministers.

    “We will be the advocates of an opening towards Russia,” Mr Conte told senators.

    “A Russia which has consolidated its international role in recent years in various geopolitical crises.

    “We will promote a revising of sanctions, starting with those that demean Russia’s civil society.”

    Mr Conte’s intervention on Russia comes as Vladimir Putin visits neighbouring Austria, where a right-wing coalition government also favours closer ties to Moscow.

    “We need to build cooperation with the EU. We do not aim to divide the EU.” Mr Putin told Austrian broadcaster ORF during this visit.*

    Italy has some past regrettable alliances they might want to keep in mind.

    * A complete and total lie.

  24. says

    Alec Luhn: “In Soviet times, if you were sent to the Gulag rather than being shot, your case file was destroyed but your info was recorded on a card. Those cards are now being destroyed under a secret 2014 order, erasing the memory of Gulag victims.”

  25. says

    SC @29, maybe Trump is really talking to Putin. Trump continued to insult Canada and other G-7 countries this morning. He seems to be doing this for Putin.

  26. says

    Here’s an excerpt from Steve Benen’s comments regarding Trump’s call to bring Russia back into the international group of countries that are meeting today in Canada:

    Whether [Trump] knows this or not, Russia was a part of this body – it was the G-8, not the G-7 – but the other member nations expelled Russia after its aggression toward Ukraine, including the seizure of the Crimean peninsula.

    Trump, elected in part thanks to an illegal Russian intelligence operation in the United States, apparently wants to end Moscow’s punishment – as if Russia’s recent conduct, including an attempted assassination attempt on British soil, warranted some kind of international reward.

    The New York Times added this morning, “The notion of readmitting Russia to the world’s most exclusive club without any concession by the Kremlin reflects the unusually friendly approach that Mr. Trump has taken to Russia since becoming president, a policy at odds with both Republicans and Democrats in Washington as well as leaders in Europe.”

    It’s almost as if Trump feels indebted in some way to Moscow, and the Republican doesn’t mind embarrassing himself while looking for new ways to make Russia happy.

    As regular readers probably know, the White House has been eager to insist that when it comes to Russia, Trump has been incredibly “tough.” Indeed, again this morning, the American president managed to say with a straight face that he’s been Putin’s “worst nightmare.”

    The evidence to the contrary, of course, has long been overwhelming. As of this morning, Trump’s position is even more ridiculous.

  27. says

    Oh, FFS. Trump is so confused, so wrong about this. He is falsely accusing the Obama administration of making a criminal move … again.

    Whenever it strikes his fancy, Donald Trump likes to accuse the Obama administration of criminal misconduct, whether it makes sense or not. In fact, the Republican president did it again yesterday.

    “The Obama Administration is now accused of trying to give Iran secret access to the financial system of the United States. This is totally illegal. Perhaps we could get the 13 Angry Democrats to divert some of their energy to this ‘matter’ (as Comey would call it). Investigate!”

    For those who don’t keep up on Trump’s antics, “the 13 Angry Democrats” is the name he likes to use to describe Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. The fact that the probe is led by Mueller, a Republican, who reports to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, another Republican, is one of the details the president prefers to ignore.

    Regardless, in this case, Trump is referring to the international nuclear agreement with Iran, and the fact that the Obama administration issued a special license from Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, which allowed Iran access to its own money. It was a one-time transaction, made necessary by the broader deal.

    Was this illegal? Nope. As a Washington Post report explained overnight, “[T]he granting of the license was not illegal; [Trump’s] statement is simply false.” The piece added that the license utilized by the Obama administration “made the transaction perfectly legal.”

    In fact, the New York Times’ Peter Baker added that the Senate Republicans who investigated this weren’t happy with what transpired, but they never said the Obama administration’s actions were illegal. Trump just made it up. […]


  28. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] Over the course of 16+ months, President Trump has acted consistently and with some success to destabilize and break up the western alliance (both its formal manifestation in NATO) but also its less formal dimensions in trade and other partnerships. He has also worked consistently on really every front to advance the interests of Russia. [Snipped details of Trump also damaging alliances with Japan and South Korea.]

    The last twenty four hours of attacks on our closest allies capped by President Trump’s seemingly out of the blue demand to bring Russia back into the G-7 […] simply brings the matter into a newly sharp relief. If candidate Trump and President Putin had made a corrupt bargain which obligated President Trump to destabilize all U.S. security and trade alliances (especially NATO, which has been Russia’s primary strategic goal for 70 years) and advance the strategic interests of Russia, […]

    Take a moment to let that sink in. […]

    Sanctions are an instructive example. The administration did finally impose a limited version of the sanctions Congress authorized early in Trump’s presidency. But on every sanctions front, it has been always absolutely as little as possible and always kicking and screaming. He has also been surrounded by people like H.R. McMaster and many others of a similar outlook, who clearly aren’t friendly to the strategic interests of Russia. So Trump has been operating to a degree within the constraints of U.S. public opinion and the heavy remonstrations of his top advisors. And yet … at every opportunity, he did everything he could realistically do to advance that agenda.

    Back to the main point. We have a President who clearly got a great deal of assistance from Russia in getting elected. We can argue about how important it was to his victory. But the reality of the help is not in any real dispute. […]

    He’s doing all the stuff he’d have been asked to do if such a corrupt bargain had been made. At a certain point – and I’d say we’re clearly at or past that point – it really doesn’t matter whether we can prove such a bargain was made. […] The bank robber helped the teller get the job and now the teller just won’t seem to lock the safe or even turn on the alarm. We can debate forever whether the teller is just absent-minded or has some odd philosophical aversion toward locks. The debate may be unresolvable. It truly doesn’t matter.

  29. says

    Report on #34 above – “Russian museum discovers secret order to destroy Gulag data”:

    A museum studying Soviet prison camps has discovered a secret Russian order from 2014 instructing officials to destroy data on prisoners – a move it said “could have catastrophic consequences for studying the history of the camps”.

    Case files of the Gulag prisoners were often destroyed but their personal data was kept on registration cards, which are still held by police and intelligence officials.

    The Gulag History Museum in Moscow has discovered a classified 2014 order that instructed Russian officials to destroy the registration cards of former prisoners who had reached the age of 80 – which today would include almost all of them.

    The museum’s archive expert, Alexander Makeyev, told the Interfax agency that they discovered the cards had been destroyed in one region, the remote Magadan in eastern Russia, home to some of the Soviet Union’s biggest prison camps.

    Repressions perpetrated under the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin left a profound scar on the Russian nation, destroying lives and displacing millions. But in recent years under Vladimir Putin, officials have tried to play down Stalin’s terror, hailing the leader for building a new economy and helping the Soviet Union win the second world war….

  30. says

    “Justice Department Still Can’t Convict Any Trump Inauguration Protesters At Second Trial”: “…Jurors also said it wasn’t helpful that a police officer who testified in the case, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Officer William Chatman, wore a shirt to court that made light of police brutality….”

    From the Intercept:

    Under an image of a nightstick enlaced with a pair of handcuffs, [Chatman’s shirt] read, in capital letters, “Police brutality … or doing what their parents should have?”


    Commander Keith DeVille, who oversaw the police response to the J20 protest, admitted on cross examination to joking that Holocaust survivor Raoul Wallenberg — who has a street named after him in Washington — was “the one that got away.”

    And much more.

  31. says

    BREAKING A new indictment was returned by prosecutors with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III this afternoon in federal court in Washington, according to court papers. Details are expected imminently.”

  32. tomh says

    It may have been a narrow ruling, but this is the kind of fallout to be expected after the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cake decision.

    Following the Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling in favor of a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple, an East Tennessee business owner is celebrating by reposting a sign that reads, “No Gays Allowed.”

    The owner, Baptist minister Jeff Amyx said, “Christianity is under attack. This is a great win, don’t get me wrong, but this is not the end, this is just the beginning,” Amyx said. “Right now we’re seeing a ray of sunshine.

  33. KG says

    Holocaust survivor Raoul Wallenberg – SC@42 quoting The Intercept

    That’s a weird and erroneous description of Wallenberg. He was a Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews – by giving them Swedish papers IIRC – and is though to have died in Soviet custody after the Red Army took Hungary.

  34. says

    JUST IN: Judge Kimba Wood ‘agrees with the Government’ that Cohen, Trump, and Trump Org objections to the special master’s privilege recommendations should be filed publicly—except for the parts that specify ‘the substance of the contested documents’.”

  35. says

    “John Kelly Instructed DHS Official Not To Email Staff To Avoid Public Scrutiny”:

    When John Kelly was Secretary of Homeland Security, he instructed an official to refrain from sending emails to staff about the department’s work to limit public scrutiny and leaks.

    “As we discussed in NYC about the toxic atmosphere here in the D.C. cesspool, my folks are nervous about e-mails you send and ask that you no longer include them on any postings,” Kelly wrote in a June 8, 2017, email. The identity of the person he sent the email to was redacted on privacy grounds. “FOIA is real and everyday here in the cesspool, and even federal court action on personal accounts is real.”

    Kelly’s email, referring to the Freedom of Information Act, which allows journalists and the public to petition the federal government for a wide range of official records, including emails, was obtained by BuzzFeed News in response to a FOIA lawsuit.*

    Kelly, now President Trump’s chief of staff, also confirmed in his email what had been rumored: that his personal email account had been hacked. Due to the breach, Kelly said he rarely communicates electronically and instead does “almost everything now by phone or face-to-face comms.”…

    More at the link. I’m so tired of these vile, unprincipled, mendacious, corrupt, incompetent, ignorant, petty, bigoted people. Every one of them.

    * LOL. It’s like when their meetings about stopping leaks immediately leak.

  36. says

    […] Trump said Friday he was considering granting a posthumous pardon for Muhammad Ali — prompting a lawyer for his estate and family to say thanks, but no thanks: The boxing great had his criminal conviction overturned by the Supreme Court nearly 50 years ago. […]

    “He was not very popular then, his memory is very popular now,” Trump said at the White House shortly before a departure for the G-7 summit in Quebec City, Canada. “I’m thinking about that very seriously.” […]


  37. says

    Pointless tragedy:

    Manuel Antonio Cano Pacheco should have graduated from high school in Des Moines last month… Instead, Manuel died a brutal death alone in a foreign land, a symbol of gang supremacy in a country plagued by violent drug cartels. It happened three weeks after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement returned him to Mexico, a country he had left at age 3 when his parents brought him here without a visa. […]


  38. says

    More and more people are pushing back against Trump’s immigration policy that separates children from their parents. Trump is dealing with this by blaming Democrats … over and over again.

    [Trump] has taken a variety of steps to assure Americans that Democrats are to blame for his immigration policies. It’s demonstrably ridiculous, but that’s Trump’s story and he’s sticking to it.

    Last week, for example, the president urged the public to “put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there [sic] parents.” This week, he added, “Separating families at the Border is the fault of bad legislation passed by the Democrats.”

    This morning, Trump took the argument away from Twitter and repeated it aloud to reporters. Asked about separating children from their parents, the president argued:

    “Well, the Democrats — this is a Democrat bill. The Democrats can end that very quickly. All they have to do is sit down with us and negotiate a real bill allows us to keep criminals out of this country. It’s very easy.

    “… I don’t like the children being separated from the parents. I don’t like it. I hate it. But that’s a Democrat bill that we’re enforcing. We can change it in one day. All they have to do is come and see us.”

    Even by Trump standards, this is indefensibly incoherent.

    First, the idea that congressional Democrats won’t negotiate with the White House on immigration is badly at odds with reality. […]

    Second, blaming his own family-separation policies on “a Democrat bill” is just bonkers. As we discussed last week, Trump is plainly lying,

    The “bill” he keeps pointing to doesn’t exist. As NBC News reported the other day, there’s a 2008 law “requiring children traveling alone at the border to be released in the ‘least restrictive setting’ while their cases are processed,” but it doesn’t require Trump to separate children from their parents, and it was a bipartisan measure signed by George W. Bush.

    […] White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen – have made no secret of the fact that they’re separating these families, on purpose, in order to discourage additional immigration.

    As the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell explained, “The Trump administration’s goal is to inflict pain upon these families. Cruelty is not an unfortunate, unintended consequence of White House immigration policy; it is the objective. […].”

    All of which raises the question of why, exactly, Trump is telling this specific lie.

    […] Trump seems to understand that his own policies are so shameful, his own agenda is so deeply at odds with our collective conscience and sense of morality, that he wants Americans to blame others for his actions. […]

    Trump could, of course, simply take responsibility for his approach to governing […]. Gaslighting the public is easier than explaining why his administration is needlessly punishing these immigrants.

    […] if the president is offended by his own policy in this area, and he can’t think of a defense for his own agenda, why doesn’t he stop separating children from their families?


  39. says

    Trump proves once again that he ignorant, wrong, willing to lie, and lazy when it comes to actually preparing for the North Korea summit, or for the G-7 meeting:

    “I don’t think I have to prepare very much,” Trump told reporters, adding, “This isn’t a question of preparation.”

    This morning, before the president departed for a G-7 meeting in Canada, a reporter asked Trump if he was serious about not needing to prepare. The Republican replied:

    “I always believe in preparation, but I’ve been preparing all my life. You know, these one-week preparations, they don’t work. Just ask Hillary what happened to her in the debates.”

    For the record, Trump referenced Hillary Clinton four times this morning, during a fairly brief Q&A with reporters on the White House’s South Lawn.

    The election was 577 days ago, but he’s still running against his former rival. One gets the sense he’ll never stop.

    Regardless, Trump’s argument against preparation this morning was bizarre. “Just ask Hillary what happened to her in the debates”? To the extent that reality matters, in 2016, polls showed Americans saw Clinton as the winner of the first debate. And the second debate. And the third debate. She was prepared, he wasn’t, and she won. […]


  40. says

    Charlie Pierce – “I Don’t Need to ‘Understand’ Anyone Who Still Supports This President*: What his administration* is doing to these migrant children is a national disgrace.”:

    The New York Times had a story on Friday that should’ve brought shame and derision upon anyone who voted for the racist monster in the White House, and upon the racist monster that the other racist monster installed at the head of the Department of Justice. The United States government is now committing human rights atrocities within its own borders and against the most vulnerable people it can find. I don’t need to “understand,” much less take seriously, anyone who still supports this president* and his administration* because, if you do, you’ve taken the idea of America and run battery acid through its veins….

  41. says

    Ari Melber just asked Michael Steele “Is this Washington’s first lotion scandal?” and he answered “Is this Washington’s first lotion scandal? Well,…not really. There have been some in the past that involved lotion, but, you know, those…they’re more discreet than this.”

  42. says

    That was the worst opening few minutes of Rachel Maddow’s show I think I’ve ever seen. JFC. Sure, that’s why Reagan’s “democracy” initiative and the IRI and NDI have been controversial.

    Honestly, it’s like liberals don’t realize Latin America exists.

  43. says

    Hi, regular readers of this thread. Other obligations will take up my time for the next few days. I will not be posting. You know the drill: carry on as usual.

  44. says

    Well. This is fucking wild.

    “Arron Banks ‘met with Russian officials multiple times before Brexit vote’”:

    Arron Banks, the millionaire businessman who bankrolled Nigel Farage’s campaign to quit the EU, had multiple meetings with Russian embassy officials in the run-up to the Brexit referendum, documents seen by the Observer suggest.

    Banks, who gave £12m of services to the campaign, becoming the biggest donor in UK history, has repeatedly denied any involvement with Russian officials, or that Russian money played any part in the Brexit campaign. The Observer has seen documents which a senior Tory MP says, if correct, raise urgent and troubling questions about his relationship with the Russian government.

    The communications suggest:

    – Multiple meetings between the leaders of Leave.EU and high-ranking Russian officials, from November 2015 to 2017.

    – Two meetings in the week Leave.EU launched its official campaign.

    – An introduction to a Russian businessman, by the Russian ambassador, the day after Leave.EU launched its campaign, who reportedly offered Banks a multibillion dollar opportunity to buy Russian goldmines.

    – A trip to Moscow in February 2016 to meet key partners and financiers behind a gold project, including a Russian bank.

    – Continued extensive contact in the run-up to the US election when Banks, his business partner and Leave.EU spokesman Andy Wigmore, and Nigel Farage campaigned in the US to support Donald Trump’s candidacy….

  45. Hj Hornbeck says

    That photo.

    European leaders stood arrayed on one side of a narrow conference room table, leaning in. On the other side: President Trump, seated alone, his arms folded.

    The photo, released Saturday on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Instagram account and later tweeted by Trump national security adviser John Bolton, fast became a Rorschach test for an increasingly troubled relationship.

    Trump was clearly isolated. But was he making an overdue stand against an expiring global order? Or was he just the odd man out in the world’s most powerful club? The enchantingly unreadable facial expressions make it impossible to know.

    But this seems to be the worst-possible outcome for the G7 summit: after seeming to make progress with Trump and earn concessions while giving them, European and Canadian leaders had the entire deal scrapped on a whim.

    The depth of exasperation showed in a Sunday afternoon statement from French President Emmanuel Macron’s office. “International cooperation cannot be dictated by fits of anger and throwaway remarks,” the statement said. “Let’s be serious and worthy of our people.”

    Merkel told an ARD television interviewer, “The withdrawal, so to speak, via tweet is of course . . . sobering and a bit depressing.” For many in Europe, the question is how best to preserve any kind of multilateral cooperation. Dealing with Trump’s whims and last-minute changes of mind has proven a strategic nightmare.

    “How is it possible to work this way if once you have agreed to something, two hours later the guy decides he doesn’t agree with what he agreed with?” said François Heisbourg, a former French presidential national security adviser. “Is there any space for a multilateral order under these circumstances?”

  46. Hj Hornbeck says

    Also, we have some speculation on why Donald* had his tantrum.

    The Trump fury was especially bizarre because it did not seem to be prompted by anything Trudeau had actually done. Kudlow and Navarro claimed that the problem was Trudeau’s post-G7 press conference — in which the prime minister criticized Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs in the same restrained manner he had been employing all week.

    Kudlow eventually offered a kind of explanation: Trudeau’s criticism had made Trump look weak, he said, and Trump does not want to be seen by Kim as weak when they hold their summit on Tuesday. “Kim must not see American weakness. It’s that short,” Kudlow said.

    “POTUS (president of the United States) is not gonna let a Canadian prime minister push him around, push him, POTUS, around, President Trump, on the eve of this,” Kudlow said. “He is not going to permit any show of weakness on a trip to negotiate with North Korea.”

    Let’s take a slight detour, and consider what Donald* has said about the US’ second-largest trading partner and long-time ally.

    Trump began the onslaught with a Saturday tweet in which he called Trudeau “dishonest and weak.” In Sunday interviews on CNN and Fox News, Trump’s top economic adviser Larry Kudlow and senior trade adviser Peter Navarro used still more disparaging adjectives — “amateurish,” “rogue,” “sophomoric” — and vaguely accused Trudeau of a “double-cross” and “betrayal.”

    Navarro delivered the most incendiary comment: “There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door.”

    So Donald* ripped up an agreement he signed hours earlier and shat on a longtime ally and major trading partner, to show Kim he’s a tough negotiator and increase the odds of signing a good deal? I’ve seen greater political acumen from five-year-olds.

    * In my circles, someone pointed out that Donald Trump gets very pissed at people who call him by his first name, as he considers it a sign of disrespect. They also pointed out that he called Trudeau and many EU leaders by their first name at the G7. In honour of that, I’m ditching my usual naming conventions.

  47. says

    More re #66 above – “How a Journalist Kept Russia’s Secret Links to Brexit Under Wraps”:

    The extent of Russia’s interference in the 2016 votes for Trump and Brexit has been investigated by intelligence agencies, congressional and parliamentary inquiries, the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller’s office for more than a year.

    For much of that time, a reporter in England has been in possession of extraordinary details about Russia’s cultivation and handling of Brexit’s biggest bankroller. Arron Banks was secretly in regular contact with Russian officials from 2015 to 2017, according to a cache of emails apparently not seen in those Transatlantic investigations until they were published in Britain on Sunday.

    Banks, who ran the Leave.EU campaign group, was one of the first foreign political figures to visit Donald Trump—accompanying Nigel Farage to Trump Tower—soon after the shock presidential election of 2016. Farage is reportedly a “person of interest” in the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation.

    Isabel Oakeshott, a former Sunday Times journalist who ghost-wrote Banks’ book, The Bad Boys of Brexit, was granted access to his emails in the summer of 2016 in order to help draft the diaries. The book mentions one meeting at the Russian embassy which has been the focus of great interest ever since, especially amid questions about where Banks’ sourced the multi-million pound funding of Brexit. He has denied the money came from Russia.

    Oakeshott says she did not discover the stunning extent of Banks’ true dealings with Russia until last year. Even then, she decided not to publish saying she wanted to wait until the publication of her next book White Flag? in August. It is unclear whether the Electoral Commission’s investigations into Banks’ financing of the Brexit campaign would have been completed by August.

    Oakeshott was keen to keep her treasure trove of Brexit/Russia revelations for her book launch, but she has not merely kept out of the debate about the legitimacy of the Brexit campaign. Describing herself as “a long-standing Brexit supporter,” who is close to Farage and Banks, Oakeshott has become a regular TV pundit shooting down “conspiracy theories” about the validity of the Brexit vote amid claims of Russian influence or reports about Cambridge Analytica’s disputed involvement.

    Three months ago she confronted The Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr live on the BBC after Cadwalladr’s stories uncovering the misuse of tens of millions of Facebook profiles by Cambridge Analytica, which was linked to the Trump campaign and Leave.EU….

    Banks and Oakeshott basically pulled a Don Jr. When Cadwalladr emailed Banks requesting comment about the story, they got busy turning it over to the Times with comment from Oakeshott trying to explain why she kept these emails secret for months. The investigators should get ahold of her book draft – it’s highly possible she’s lying about ever planning to reveal this information.

    Cambridge Analytica (still can’t quite get over the pretentiousness of that name) whistleblower Christopher Wylie: “There should be an investigation into LeaveEU. I already reported it to the National Crime Agency. In fact the NCA has known about the documents relating to LeaveEU’s dealings with Russia since April – and that Isabel Oakeshott was withholding the information.”

    In related news, Damian Collins tweeted on Saturday before the story broke: “Something’s clearly up. @Arron_banks and @andywigmore now say they do want to give evidence to @CommonsCMS on Tuesday because of story that’s about to come out about some emails – which I don’t have a copy of btw. Must be significant, to make them change their minds again.”

    The plot thickens.

  48. blf says

    Cost of government rises when local newspaper closes, study finds:

    When a local newspaper closes, the cost of government increases. That’s the conclusion of new survey from Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, which draws a direct line between loss of the watchful eyes of local newspapers and a decline in government efficiency.

    Paul Gao, a professor of finance at the college, said he got the idea for the study while watching John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight about the decline of local newspapers almost two years ago.

    The result of that study, Financing Dies in Darkness? The Impact of Newspaper Closures on Public Finance, argues there is a direct correlation between the loss of a local paper and higher costing — or less efficient — government.


    In one example, the report looks at the closure in 2009 of Denver’s Rocky Mountain News. The paper had provided extensive coverage of local government issues, including an audit of questionable federal funds allocated to the sheriff’s department, and a series of other handshake deals.

    Gao’s team looked at how tax dollars were being spent while the paper was being published and then again after the paper had closed. The researchers concluded that Rocky Mountain News stories had served as a watchdog agent. Without it, the spread or yield of newly issued local municipal bonds increased by 37 basis points.

    In other words, local government’s cost of borrowing money — and therefore risk — had increased once the paper had gone.


    The full paper is available at the link embedded in the above excerpt. Another example cited in the paper:

    […] Related academic studies in the political economy space show that geographic areas with reduced local media coverage have less informed voters […] and lower voter turnouts […], removing the incentives of local politicians to work hard on behalf of their constituencies […].


    […] Consider the case of Bell, California, a suburb of the city of Los Angeles with a population of about 37,000 people and a median annual household income of about $30,000. According to a 2011 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) report […], residents of Bell “wondered for a long time how their town officials managed to live like the rich and famous.” One prominent example was Robert Rizzo, the Bell town manager hired in 1993 who owned a beachfront mansion and a 10-acre horse ranch outside Seattle. In July 2010, reporters from the Los Angeles Times conducted an investigation of Bell government employee salaries, and found that Rizzo was earning $787,637 per year, up from his initial starting salary of $72,000 per year in 1993, as a result of large and regular annual raises. The police chief of Bell, meanwhile, was earning $457,000 per year, 50% more than the police chief of Los Angeles. Two months following this investigation, the district attorney of Los Angeles County filed charges against eight Bell officials, alleging that they stole $5.5 million in public funds. The FCC report suggests that the corruption in Bell, California went unchecked for such a long time because of a lack of local newspaper coverage. Community activist Christina Garcia stated that “a lot of residents tried to get the media’s attention, but it was impossible. The city of Bell doesn’t even have a local paper; no local media of any sort.” Although the city did have a local newspaper called the Bell, Maywood, Cudahy Community News, this newspaper shut down in the late 1990s. The FCC report also adds that the closest television stations, located in Los Angeles, rarely covered Bell. Further, the staffs at the major newspapers in Los Angeles were already spread so thin that they could barely provide coverage to surrounding municipalities like Bell. Terry Francke, founder of Californians Aware, a nonprofit organization which advocates for open governments, summed up the problem thusly: “… the Bell spectacle is what happens to communities without their own old-fashioned diligent news coverage by veteran newspaper reporters, or at least smart reporters led by veteran newspaper editors. The result need not be on paper, but it must be done with the community memory and professional savvy almost unique to newspaper-trained journalists with experience watching small-town politics” […].

    Part of the paper’s conclusion:

    Newspapers play an important monitoring role for local governments. Other papers have shown that the loss of a local newspaper leads to worsened political outcomes in the region, and we illustrate that there are worsened financial outcomes as well. […]

    […] Online news outlets are fundamentally changing the way that people consume news, and they are very likely to remain the dominant source for news consumption. However, these paradigm-shifting news outlets do not necessarily provide a good substitute for high-quality, locally-sourced, investigative journalism. In the long-run, perhaps an equilibrium will be reached in which these online-based organizations contract out work to local reporters and tailor their news to the local areas. In 2009, former Baltimore Sun reporter and famous television producer David Simon stated the following: “The day I run into a Huffington Post reporter at a Baltimore Zoning Board hearing is the day that I will be confident that we’ve actually reached some sort of equilibrium.” We concur, and our evidence suggests that economic growth at the county level will be better off in that equilibrium.

  49. says

    More still – “MPs call for police to investigate Arron Banks’ links to Russia.”

    Most interesting:

    Banks has also now been told by Companies House that he must publish the accounts of the offshore holding company ICS Risk Solutions, which he uses to finance his activities.

    ICS Risk Solutions lies at the heart of Banks’s finances. It is the holding company for Eldon Insurance, the insurer behind Go Skippy, and has paid over £77m since 2015 to prop up Banks’ Southern Rock underwriting arm in Gibraltar after regulators there found that business to be trading while technically insolvent.

    Banks said he would comply with any direction from Companies House.

    I said just above that “The investigators should get ahold of [Oakeshott’s] book draft – it’s highly possible she’s lying about ever planning to reveal this information.” From this article:

    Oakeshott said she only gradually appreciated [the emails’] significance and was planning to publish them at a later date as part of a book she had been working on with the Conservative donor Lord Ashcroft about the “state of the British armed forces”.

    I’m even more dubious now. Come on.

  50. says

    HjHornbeck @ #69: “So Donald* ripped up an agreement he signed hours earlier…”

    “Meet the guys who tape Trump’s papers back together: The president’s unofficial ‘filing system’* involves tearing up documents into pieces, even when they’re supposed to be preserved.”:

    Solomon Lartey spent the first five months of the Trump administration working in the Old Executive Office Building, standing over a desk with scraps of paper spread out in front of him.

    Lartey, who earned an annual salary of $65,969 as a records management analyst, was a career government official with close to 30 years under his belt. But he had never seen anything like this in any previous administration he had worked for. He had never had to tape the president’s papers back together again.

    Armed with rolls of clear Scotch tape, Lartey and his colleagues would sift through large piles of shredded paper and put them back together, he said, “like a jigsaw puzzle.” Sometimes the papers would just be split down the middle, but other times they would be torn into pieces so small they looked like confetti.

    It was a painstaking process that was the result of a clash between legal requirements to preserve White House records and President Donald Trump’s odd and enduring habit of ripping up papers when he’s done with them — what some people described as his unofficial “filing system.”

    Under the Presidential Records Act, the White House must preserve all memos, letters, emails and papers that the president touches, sending them to the National Archives for safekeeping as historical records.

    But White House aides realized early on that they were unable to stop Trump from ripping up paper after he was done with it and throwing it in the trash or on the floor, according to people familiar with the practice. Instead, they chose to clean it up for him, in order to make sure that the president wasn’t violating the law.

    Staffers had the fragments of paper collected from the Oval Office as well as the private residence and send it over to records management across the street from the White House for Larkey and his colleagues to reassemble….

    southpaw: “Future generations of scholars going through boxes of taped together presidential papers will wonder how we let this absolute lunatic get so far into his term.”

    * Why do people in the media keep saying stupid shit like this? Destroying documents that don’t belong to him by tearing them to pieces isn’t a filing system – unofficial, of sorts, or otherwise. It’s breaking the law.

  51. blf says

    This is a week old, so it may have been already mentioned — apologies if so… In California, Gun bills advance in California capital, would raise to 21 the legal age to buy rifles, same as handguns:

    Legislators on Friday [June 1] advanced many of the bills introduced in the Senate and Assembly. If approved by both houses and signed by the governor, they would raise the age for buying rifles and make it easier for authorities to confiscate guns from people believed to be dangerous.

    “Everything is certainly moving forward,” said Amanda Wilcox, legislative advocate for the California Chapters for the Brady Campaign. “Together, all these bills make a difference.”

    Gun rights supporters oppose many of the bills but said they face an uphill battle.


    Among the bills the Brady Campaign considers a priority are AB 3 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta […] and SB 1100 by Senator Anthony Portantino. Both would raise the legal age to purchase all firearms to 21, the same as for handguns in California. Portantino’s bill also would limit purchases of all guns, not just handguns, to one every 30 days. […]


    Another Brady Campaign priority that advanced is SB 1200 by Senator Nancy Skinner […]. It would strengthen her 2014 Gun Violence Restraining Order legislation, which allows family members to seek a court order to disarm a relative they fear is dangerous. The bill would include gun parts and components as items to be surrendered. […]

    Late Thursday, the Assembly approved AB 2382 by Assemblyman Mike Gipson […] that would close the “ghost gun loophole” by regulating parts and components that people barred from having a gun could use to assemble one. […]


    Another priority bill for gun-control advocates, AB 2222 by Assemblyman Bill Quirk […] passed in the Assembly with bipartisan support Thursday. It would require law enforcement agencies to log every recovered firearm used in a crime into a justice department database to help track gun trafficking patterns. […]


    Among other bills that advanced:

    ● AB 1927 by Assemblyman Rob Bonta […] would allow people fearing they might kill themselves to voluntarily enter their names in California’s background check system to prevent themselves from purchasing a gun. […]

    ● AB 2103 by Assemblyman Todd Gloria […] would require training for applicants for a license to carry a concealed firearm be no less than eight hours in length, and specify safe handling and shooting proficiency requirements. […]

  52. says

    “Web of elite Russians met with NRA execs during 2016 campaign”:

    Several prominent Russians, some in President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle or high in the Russian Orthodox Church, now have been identified as having contact with National Rifle Association officials during the 2016 U.S. election campaign.

    The contacts have emerged amid a deepening Justice Department investigation into whether Russian banker and lifetime NRA member Alexander Torshin illegally channeled money through the gun rights group to add financial firepower to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid.

    Other influential Russians who met with NRA representatives during the campaign include Dmitry Rogozin, who until last month served as a deputy prime minister overseeing Russia’s defense industry, and Sergei Rudov, head of one of Russia’s largest philanthropies, the St. Basil the Great Charitable Foundation. The foundation was launched by an ultra-nationalist ally of Russian President Putin.

    The Russians talked and dined with NRA representatives, mainly in Moscow, as U.S. presidential candidates vied for the White House. Now U.S. investigators want to know if relationships between the Russian leaders and the nation’s largest gun rights group went beyond vodka toasts and gun factory tours, evolving into another facet of the Kremlin’s broad election-interference operation.

    Of the $30 million the NRA reported spending to support Trump, more than $21 million was spent by its lobbying arm, whose donors are not publicly reported.

    Two NRA insiders say that overall, the group spent at least $70 million, including resources devoted to field operations and online advertising, which are not required to be publicly reported.

    Rogozin is a far-right nationalist who has “extensive ties to the Russian arms industry” that he managed and “is deeply hostile to the West,” said Mike Carpenter, who was a Russia specialist while a senior Pentagon official in the Obama administration.

    Another Russia expert, Atlantic Council fellow Anders Aslund, was flabbergasted that the NRA delegation met with Rogozin.

    “I can’t understand the NRA meeting with Rogozin since he was sanctioned in 2014,” he said. “ It’s so embarrassing.”

    Rudov’s career has kept him on a lower-profile trajectory running a conservative religious charity, the St. Basil’s the Great Charitable Foundation. St. Basil’s chairman and founder is Putin ally and Orthodox Church figure Konstantin Malofeev, a Russian billionaire sanctioned in 2014 by the U.S. Treasury Department because of his support for Russian-backed separatists who invaded Crimea early that year. Carpenter said Malofeev’s foundation is used to support his various causes, which have included financing mercenaries who forcibly wrested control of eastern Ukraine from the Kiev government….

  53. says

    Amy Siskind: “Our media is giving Trump exactly what he wants: covering the stagecraft of the Singapore summit-even tho Trump has not prepared and has only elevated Kim Jong Un-as if he were some sort of statesman and normal after he stormed out of the G7. You are failing the American people!”

  54. says

    “Treasury Sanctions Russian Federal Security Service Enablers”:

    Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated five Russian entities and three Russian individuals under Executive Order (E.O.) 13694, “Blocking the Property of Certain Persons Engaging in Significant Malicious Cyber-Enabled Activities,” as amended, and Section 224 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). One of the designated entities in controlled by and has provided material and technological support to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), while two others have provided the FSB with material and technological support. OFAC is also designating several entities and individuals for being owned or controlled by, or acting for or on behalf of, the three entities that have enabled the FSB.

    “The United States is engaged in an ongoing effort to counter malicious actors working at the behest of the Russian Federation and its military and intelligence units to increase Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities. The entities designated today have directly contributed to improving Russia’s cyber and underwater capabilities through their work with the FSB and therefore jeopardize the safety and security of the United States and our allies,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “The United States is committed to aggressively targeting any entity or individual working at the direction of the FSB whose work threatens the United States and will continue to utilize our sanctions authorities, including those provided under CAATSA, to counter the constantly evolving threats emanating from Russia.”

    Examples of Russia’s malign and destabilizing cyber activities include the destructive NotPetya cyber-attack; cyber intrusions against the U.S. energy grid to potentially enable future offensive operations; and global compromises of network infrastructure devices, including routers and switches, also to potentially enable disruptive cyber-attacks. Today’s action also targets the Russian government’s underwater capabilities. Russia has been active in tracking undersea communication cables, which carry the bulk of the world’s telecommunications data….

    Sanctioned people and entities at the link.

  55. says


    Also.. @BBCr4today invited me on this morning. They then rang back & asked if I would “discuss” it with Isabel Oakeshott. I said I wanted to talk about the *actual* story. They dropped it, because they said they had nobody from “the other side of the argument”. What? The Kremlin?

  56. says


    On Saturday, we exposed LeaveEU’s covert relationship to Russia. Yesterday, @Nigel_Farage was too chickenshit to take my call and answer questions on his radio show. Today he invites in top Kremlin pals, @Arron_banks & @andywigmore. Britain: meet the men who gave us Brexit.

  57. says

    Quite an article by Adam Entous – “Donald Trump’s New World Order: How the President, Israel, and the Gulf states plan to fight Iran—and leave the Palestinians and the Obama years behind.”

    The Gulf Arab Corrupt Autocrats Club has been selling out the Palestinians for some time.

    What’s revealed in this article makes it appear even more likely that Trump’s and Netanyahu’s gangs were behind the Black Cube operation to spy on former Obama officials (and we still know only a fraction of what happened with Psy Group).

  58. says

    Paul Krugman – “Debacle in Quebec”:

    …What went down in Quebec? I’m already seeing headlines to the effect that Trump took a belligerent “America first” position, demanding big concessions from our allies, which would have been bad. But the reality was much worse.

    He didn’t put America first; Russia first would be a better description. And he didn’t demand drastic policy changes from our allies; he demanded that they stop doing bad things they aren’t doing. This wasn’t a tough stance on behalf of American interests, it was a declaration of ignorance and policy insanity.

    Trump started with a call for readmitting Russia to the group, which makes no sense at all. The truth is that Russia, whose GDP is about the same size as Spain’s and quite a bit smaller than Brazil’s, was always a ringer in what was meant to be a group of major economies. It was brought in for strategic reasons, and kicked out when it invaded Ukraine. There is no possible justification for bringing it back, other than whatever hold Putin has on Trump personally.

    Then Trump demanded that the other G7 members remove their “ridiculous and unacceptable” tariffs on U.S. goods – which would be hard for them to do, because their actual tariff rates are very low.

    Was there any strategy behind Trump’s behavior? Well, it was pretty much exactly what he would have done if he really is Putin’s puppet: yelling at friendly nations about sins they aren’t committing won’t bring back American jobs, but it’s exactly what someone who does want to break up the Western alliance would like to see.

    Alternatively, maybe he was just acting out because he couldn’t stand having to spend hours with powerful people who will neither flatter him nor bribe him by throwing money at his family businesses – people who, in fact, didn’t try very hard to hide the contempt they feel for the man leading what is still, for the moment, a great power.

    Whatever really happened, this was an utter, humiliating debacle. And we all know how Trump responds to humiliation. You really have to wonder what comes next. One thing’s for sure: it won’t be good.

  59. says

    Some dates this week:

    Today (I believe):
    deadline for Cohen, Trump, and Trump Org. to file any objections to the special master’s privilege determinations. (The judge said these can’t be under seal.)

    Banks and Wigmore appear before Damian Collins’ committee (10:30 AM London time)
    US congressional primaries in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Virginia

    more Supreme Court decisions expected
    Justice Department IG report expected

    Manafort arraigned on the superseding indictment (10 AM ET)
    deadline for Cohen/Trump/Trump Org. to complete their privilege review of the remaining items

    second anniversary of the murder of Jo Cox

  60. says

    No-confidence votes have consequences – “Spain offers to take in migrant ship after Italy’s populists turn it away”:

    Spain announced Monday that it would allow a ship carrying hundreds of migrants to dock in Valencia after Italy’s new populist government turned the boat away in a move described by rescuers as unprecedented.

    The Aquarius, which is carrying more than 600 migrants who were pulled out of the sea by rescuers over the weekend, was left stranded in the Mediterranean after Matteo Salvini, Italy’s hardline interior minister and leader of the anti-immigration League party, refused to allow it to dock on Sunday.

    More than 120 unaccompanied minors and seven pregnant women are on board the ship. By Monday, supplies were beginning to run low and a number of people were in need of medical treatment, including 15 with serious chemical burns and several others suffering from hypothermia, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which operates the rescue ship Aquarius alongside SOS Méditerranée.

    MSF Spain said that while it appreciated the gesture from the Spanish government, it would be unsafe for the boat, which was over capacity and carrying people who needed medical attention, to make the three day trip to Valencia.

    The boat has not received formal instructions from Italy or Spain to set sail to Valencia, a roughly 800-mile journey. “We are staying put until we are told where to go. We have no food or water to make it to Spain anyway,” an MSF spokesperson said.
    The Maltese government, which had also refused to let the Aquarius dock, delivered noodles, biscuits and bottles of drinking water to replenish the boat.

    Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced Monday afternoon that the ship and its passengers would be welcome in Valencia, in an effort to prevent a humanitarian disaster from unfolding.

    “It is our obligation to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer ‘a safe harbor’ to these people, thus complying with obligations of international law,” he said in a statement.

    The news was met with glee by Salvini, who took to social media within minutes to celebrate. “VICTORY! 629 migrants on board of Aquarius ship, Spain-bound, our first goal has been reached!” he wrote on Facebook. Salvini had called on Italy to “close the ports” and pledged Sunday to “STOP the filthy business of illegal immigration.”

    Asked about the Italian move, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said at a briefing on Monday that he is concerned that the “space for refugee protection in Europe might be shrinking.”

    Anxiety was growing among the passengers on Monday afternoon, who were asking when they will reach shore, according to Anelise Borges, a Euronews and NBC journalist currently on board Aquarius.

    “There’s a certain tension in the air,” she told CNN. “Everyone is extremely hot and very tired.”

    Many were also worried that they could be returned to Libya. “The fear is so present, so palpable,” Borges said.

    During the recent federal election campaign that led to Italy’s new government — a coalition between the anti-immigrant League and anti-establishment Five Star Movement — Salvini promoted his party with an “Italians first” slogan and pledged to deport half a million migrants.

    In August 2016, he called for “mass ethnic cleansing” in Italy, “street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood, with strong manners if we need to,” according to Italian news agency ANSA.

    Salvini’s rhetoric has softened slightly since he took office, but on a visit to Sicily last week, he declared that Italy “cannot be Europe’s refugee camp.”

    On Sunday, several Italian mayors defied Salvini and suggested they would be prepared to welcome the Aquarius into their port.

    There are also signs of dissent within the coalition. Filippo Nograin, the Five Star mayor of Livorno, a port town in Tuscany, said on Facebook that he would welcome the migrants. He later deleted the post, telling the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that he didn’t want to “create problems” in the government.

    Such offers are largely symbolic, as only the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center, an arm of the Italian Coast Guard, can authorize the docking of a foreign-flagged ship. However, such strong and public rejection of the government’s immigration policy could put pressure on Prime Minister Conte and his coalition just a week into its term.

    The Mediterranean remains the world’s deadliest migration route, despite sharp falls in the number of people trying to reach Europe by boat….

  61. says

    Trump in Singapore:
    -met w/Kim with no preconditions
    -avoided human rights
    -will end U.S. military exercises*
    – got nothing back -desires to draw down American troops
    – got nothing back -Kim made no claim to “complete,” “verifiable” or “irreversible” denuclearization

    Amazing words from S. Korea Military about Jt. Exercises cancelled..”Regarding President Trump’s comment regarding ending of the combined military drills..we need to find out the exact meaning or intention behind his comments at this point,” a SK military official told NBC News.

    Trump says he trusts Kim Jong Un. And if he’s wrong? “I may be wrong, I mean I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey I was wrong,'” said Trump, before adding, “I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.”

    * Also insulted South Korea.

  62. says

    Anna Fifield:

    Did Trump just say there will be no more exercises with the South Korean military? “We will be stopping the war games,” he said. It will save a lot of money.

    Oh, yes he did cancel the joint military exercises. Trump said it’s “inappropriate” to have war games, which are “provocative” and “very expensive.” Six-and-a-half hours to send bombers from Guam to practice in South Korea is “a long way,” Trump says. “I know a lot about planes.”

  63. says

    “Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump made at least $82 million in outside income last year while serving in the White House, filings show”:

    Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, brought in at least $82 million in outside income while serving as senior White House advisers during 2017, according to financial disclosure forms released Monday.

    Trump earned $3.9 million from her stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington and more than $2 million in severance from the Trump Organization, while Kushner reported over $5 million in income from Quail Ridge, a Kushner Cos. apartment complex acquired last year in Plainsboro, N.J.

    The filings show how the couple are collecting immense sums from other enterprises while serving in the White House, an extraordinary income flow that ethics experts have warned could create potential conflicts of interests.*

    Both Kushner and Trump have given up daily oversight of their companies as they work as unpaid senior advisers to the president.

    But while Kushner divested some holdings, he and his wife have maintained large stakes in businesses with domestic and foreign ties. Kushner’s family real estate company has properties around the country, including thousands of apartment units in states including New Jersey and Maryland. Trump’s eponymous clothing and accessories line is produced exclusively in foreign factories in countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia and China….

    Of course these forms were released during the NK summit.

    * In fact, ethics experts have said plainly that these constitute clear conflicts of interest.

  64. says

    “We Now Know Why Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach Lobbied for a Citizenship Question on the Census”:

    In December 2017, the Justice Department asked the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau, to add a controversial question about US citizenship to the 2020 census for the first time since 1950. Civil rights groups charged that the question would depress the response rate from immigrants and threaten the accuracy and fairness of the census. The Justice Department justified the question by arguing it was needed to “fully enforce” the Voting Rights Act (VRA). But new documents show there was another reason anti-immigration hardliners like Steve Bannon were pushing for the citizenship question.

    On Friday, the Justice Department released more than 1,300 pages of documents as part of a lawsuit filed by New York and 16 other states agains the Trump administration. These files showed that prominent anti-immigration forces inside and outside the Trump administration were hoping that census data resulting from the citizenship question would be used to allocate political representation on the basis of the number of citizens in a district or state rather than the total population. In other words, a state’s number of representatives in Congress would be determined by its population of citizens—a radical departure from the current practice of counting every person regardless of citizenship. The change would deny immigrant communities significant representation and shift political power to whiter and more Republican areas.

    The initial push for the citizenship question now appears to have come from Bannon, back when he was a top White House adviser. In July 2017, months before the Justice Department proposed the question, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach—at the time the vice chair of President Donald Trump’s now-defunct Election Integrity Commission—wrote to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. He told Ross that he was writing “at the direction of Steve Bannon” and said it was “essential” that the citizenship question be added to the census. Kobach wrote that the absence of a citizenship question “leads to the problem that aliens who do not actually ‘reside’ in the United States are still counted for congressional apportionment purposes.”

    Kobach’s correspondence with Ross contradicts the Trump administration’s stated rationale for the question—Kobach never mentioned the VRA in his letter—and lends credence to the view that the question was added to target areas with many immigrants and boost Republicans politically.

    Six major lawsuits, including the one from New York and 16 other states, are currently challenging the citizenship question.

  65. says

    Mueller team moves to limit defense evidence sharing in internet trolling case, citing risk of revealing to Russian intelligence identities of ‘uncharged individuals and entities’ believed to be ‘continuing to engage in interference operations’.”

  66. blf says

    Here in France, teh le penazis† and similar lunatics have warped their small closed minds even further, French right up in arms about provocative Muslim rapper gig at Bataclan:

    Rightwing French leaders have condemned as sacrilege a decision to allow a provocative Muslim rapper [Médine] to play the Bataclan concert hall in Paris […]

      [… fairly obvious story …]

    Médine himself later hit back in a statement to AFP saying, “Can we let the extreme right dictate what concerts go on and our freedom of expression?

    “For 15 years I have fought all forms of radicalisation in my albums which has led to me being attacked by the extreme right and their supporters, who twist the meaning of my songs,” he added.

    [… T]he former leader of one of the Bataclan’s victims’ groups, Emmanuel Domenach, sent stinging replies to both [French opposition leader Laurent] Wauquiez and Le Pen’s tweets: “It’s crazy for you to use the victims of terrorism for your sterile controversy.

    “What level of dishonour does that put you in?” he asked.

    Victims’ group Life for Paris also defended the Bataclan, saying it was against censorship and that the venue should be free to book who it wanted.

    “We will not let anyone use the memory of the victims for political ends, as is the case here,” it said in a statement.


    I’ve never heard of Médine (Zaouiche), but some of the details redacted from the above excerpt suggest he can be, as France24 said, “provocative”. According to the French Le Pffft ! de toute connaissance, he is an accomplished historical storyteller, which — guessing here — is what set offs the loonies (plus being Muslim), as he can apparently effectively present historical deeds and misdeeds, often(?) casing himself as the voice of a victim. I gather some of his work takes a similar tack as Bruce Cockburn’s If I Had A Rocket Launcher (Trigger Warning: seriously intense video !), which is easily misunderstood.

    (Oh the other hand, Médine’s a French Rapper. In my opinion, French Rap is the ultimate WMD. I cannot stand the stuff… !)

      † Teh le penazis have changed what they called themselves. I will still call them teh le penazis, but for help in decoding, they now call themselves Rassemblement National.

  67. blf says

    France haunted by its own Windrush scandal:

    Between 1963 and 1982, 160,000 men, women and children from the French Caribbean islands, Guiana and Réunion were recruited, trained, and brought to mainland France to work in construction, the health service and local administration. Yet when they arrived, they were treated as second-class citizens because of their racial difference, even though, legally, they were French.

    Earlier this year, a report was published by sociologist Philippe Vitale, under the auspices of the Ministère des Outre-mer — the French government department responsible for the country’s overseas territories — looking at the treatment of a group of young children who were sent from Réunion to mainland France between 1963 and 1982. While the report does not exonerate the government for its part in actively removing young children from their families and sending them overseas, it does downplay state involvement and depicts Réunion, an island in the Indian Ocean, as a bleak, economically deprived region.


    By 1982, however, the French economy was beginning to stall. The BUMIDOM[] program was halted and family reunification was favoured over the recruitment of new workers. While for some, the BUMIDOM was an opportunity for social promotion and economic independence, others experienced this migration as a ‘deportation’, as the Martinique-born writer and politician Aimé Césaire termed it.

    The most extreme case involved the so-called enfants de la Creuse, the more than 2,000 children — some orphans, others not — who were forcibly removed from their homes on Réunion between 1962 and 1984 and taken to mainland France to repopulate declining rural areas. The region of La Creuse, in the centre of France, received the majority because each year around 3,000 of its young people headed toward larger cities to find work, and its population was aging.

    The case of the Creuse children, many of whom were ill-treated and subjected to abuse and violence, was largely unreported until the early 2000s when some of them sued the French state. […]


    While popular culture and literature are exposing the role of the BUMIDOM, the French government has yet to catch up in acknowledging the extent of state involvement — particularly in the case of Réunion — thus risking a scandal like that which overtook the UK government over the Windrush affair.

    Indeed, beyond the French-speaking world, little is known about this government-organised migration. Like the Windrush generation, people migrating through the BUMIDOM helped to rebuild France in the wake of the war and have subsequently been shunned because of their racial and cultural origins. It is time we repaid them with the gratitude and dignity that they deserve.

    The abstract of an older paper, The Ambiguities of the BUMIDOM (1963–1982): A Specific Migration Policy for the French Overseas Departments (2016; the paper itself is in French) notes:

    […] The organized migrations implemented by the BUMIDOM reveal deeply unequal relations between the mainland and the overseas departments. That is why despite the non-coercive nature of its action, the BUMIDOM is remembered as a weak institution and generally despised by the population. The agents of the BUMIDOM probably considered the migrants from the overseas territories as full citizens; however, not only were their actions constrained by the domination to which their “clients” were subjected, but the policy they implemented contributed, to a certain extent, to the persistence of their domination.

    Not-so-amusingly, to-date the only readers’s comment on the first excerpted article is Yet you don’t want to talk about why an anti-French ‘Jihad’ rapper is to perform at Bataclan? (see @114).

      † BUMIDOM is the French acronym for the government agency responsible, Bureau pour le développement des migrations dans les départements d’outre-mer (Office for the Development of Migration in the Overseas Departments).

  68. blf says

    Scottish ministers ordered to end ‘two-tier’ FoI regime:

    Scotland’s information watchdog has ruled that Scottish ministers breached the country’s transparency laws by wrongly singling out the media for discriminatory treatment.


    He said his formal investigation […] found that ministers and their special advisers applied a two-tier screening system for [freedom of information (FoI)] requests by journalists, MSPs and party researchers.

    He found “unjustifiable, significant delays and disregard for statutory timescales” with a number of media requests, which were “expressly made subject to a different process for clearance than other requester groups”.

    Journalists were significantly more likely to have their requests refused or only partially answered in 2015/16 and 2016/17, and less likely to have full disclosure than ordinary members of the public.


    Joe FitzPatrick, minister for parliamentary business, said his government accepted all the commissioner’s recommendations and had already begun improving the treatment of journalists’ FoI requests, and had already speeded up and improved their handling.

    Confirming that the government would also produce an action plan ordered by the commissioner in three months’ time, he said he had already introduced new rules that meant requests would no longer be screened because of the identity or profession of the applicant.


  69. says

    “Michael Cohen dumps lawyers, sends ‘smoke signal’ to Trump”:

    On Wednesday, ABC News broke the story that longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen, whose home and office were raided in April by the FBI, had dropped his seasoned legal team and currently has no legal representation. ABC News reports that Cohen “is likely to cooperate with federal prosecutors in New York.”

    Other outlets quickly confirmed Cohen’s split from his lawyers, but added some nuance. The Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen “hasn’t yet decided whether he will cooperate with prosecutors in the case.” CNN reports that Cohen “had not yet met with prosecutors to speak about a potential deal, and it’s unclear whether either side is seeking one.” The New York Times, however, says “with Mr. Cohen’s legal team in turmoil, the chances increase that Mr. Cohen could cooperate with prosecutors.”

    The news comes as Cohen is reportedly telling friends that “he expects to be arrested any day now.” (Cohen denied that report to Vanity Fair.)…

  70. says

    “Customs and Border Protection agent faces inquiry after questioning reporter about her sources”:

    The actions of a Customs and Border Protection agent who confronted a reporter covering national security issues about her confidential sources are being examined by the CBP’s Office of Professional Responsibility, the agency said in a statement Tuesday.

    The agent, Jeffrey A. Rambo, contacted journalist Ali Watkins last June as the Trump administration was ramping up its investigations of unauthorized leaks to reporters, and he identified himself as a government agent.

    Rambo met with Watkins at a restaurant in Washington after initially contacting her by email. A reporter taking such a meeting with a potential source would not be unusual.

    But after he arrived, Rambo said the administration was eager to investigate journalists and learn the identity of their confidential sources to stanch leaks of classified information. He questioned Watkins broadly about her reporting and how she developed information, according to the people familiar with the incident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.

    Rambo’s behavior was un­or­tho­dox. It’s highly unusual for government investigators to question reporters about their sources, and national security leaks are generally investigated by the FBI, not CBP, part of the Department of Homeland Security. Rambo also contacted Watkins using a personal email address and declined to provide his name.

    Rambo asked Watkins, then a reporter at Politico, about her relationship with James Wolfe, then the director of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee. He gave her accurate dates and destinations for trips the two had taken together overseas — a revelation that left Watkins rattled, a person familiar with the events said….

  71. says

    “Rosenstein plans to call on House to investigate its own staff”:

    Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s ongoing battle with House Republicans reached new heights Tuesday, as the No. 2 senior leader of the Justice Department plans to call on the House to investigate its own committee staff.

    Rosenstein has butted heads with House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes for months over a subpoena for documents related to the Russia investigation, but the battle spilled out into public view Tuesday after Fox News reported staff on the committee felt “personally attacked” at a meeting with Rosenstein in January.

    Justice Department officials dispute the recounting of the closed-door meeting detailed in the story, and Rosenstein now plans to “request that the House general counsel conduct an internal investigation of these Congressional staffers’ conduct” when he returns from a foreign trip this week, a Justice Department official said.

    “The Deputy Attorney General never threatened anyone in the room with a criminal investigation,” the official said. “The FBI Director, the senior career ethics adviser for the Department, and the Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs who were all present at this meeting are all quite clear that the characterization of events laid out here is false.

    “The Deputy Attorney General was making the point — after being threatened with contempt — that as an American citizen charged with the offense of contempt of Congress, he would have the right to defend himself, including requesting production of relevant emails and text messages and calling them as witnesses to demonstrate that their allegations are false,” the official added. “That is why he put them on notice to retain relevant emails and text messages, and he hopes they did so.”

    Another former US official, also present at the meeting, agreed that at no time did Rosenstein threaten any House staff with a criminal investigation.

    Later Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions came to Rosenstein’s defense during an interview with Fox News,…

    The evidence presented in the article shows what a bullshit bad-faith tactic this is (the CNN headline isn’t helping). Rosenstein had dinner with Nunes the night of the meeting in question.

  72. says

    Peter Tatchell – “World Cup fever, gay rights abuses and war crimes – it’s an ugly mix”:

    I’m in Moscow trying to lie low and evade the Russian security service, the FSB. I’m exhausted from the stress. It’s my sixth time in the country; each time, I’ve visited in order to support LGBT+ campaigners who were attempting to hold a Pride parade and festival. On every occasion these were suppressed by the authorities, sometimes violently. I’ve been arrested twice and once been beaten almost unconscious.

    This time I’m here for the World Cup – but unlike thousands of fans, I won’t be cheering on this festival of football. LGBT+ people and many other Russians suffer state-sanctioned persecution and far-right violence. These abuses need to be challenged. Russia’s 2013 anti-gay law against “homosexual propaganda” has been used to suppress peaceful LGBT+ protests, sack LGBT+ teachers and suppress welfare organisations that support LGBT+ teenagers.

    On the eve of the World Cup, far-right and ultra-nationalist gangs have threatened to bash and stab LGBT+ football fans. The authorities have taken no discernible action against the perpetrators of these criminal threats.

    The Russian state is not the only World Cup culprit. Football’s governing body, Fifa, must also be challenged over its decision to award the 2018 World Cup to a nation where human rights are violated. Fifa has chosen to follow this travesty with the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where dissidents’ and migrant workers’ human rights are abused. Fifa pays lip service to diversity and equality while rewarding tyrant regimes with the prestige of hosting one of the world’s most celebrated sporting events.

    I have come to Russia this week because President Vladimir Putin should not be allowed to score a PR coup with the World Cup….

    The 2026 World Cup was awarded this morning (using a new and greatly expanded voting system) to the US, Canada, and Mexico jointly. Let’s hope we’re not at war by then.

  73. says

    “Lawyer For Ex-FBI Deputy Director McCabe Sues Government Over His Firing”:

    A lawyer for fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is suing the FBI, the Justice Department and its inspector general for refusing to turn over documents related to McCabe’s termination.

    McCabe, who worked at the FBI in various roles for more than 20 years, was dismissed only hours before his planned retirement in March, for what the Justice Department called a “lack of candor.”

    The firing stripped McCabe and his family of their health care benefits and delayed his ability to collect a federal pension, which he otherwise would have been able to draw on his 50th birthday.

    McCabe’s lawyer, David Snyder, maintains in a new lawsuit that the dismissal violated federal law and departed from rules and policies. But he said authorities have refused to turn over materials related to McCabe’s disciplinary process.

    McCabe’s legal team at the Boies Schiller firm has sued to demand the information under the Freedom of Information Act. They’re arguing the documents could help them build a larger case against the Justice Department for wrongful termination and due process violations.

    “We don’t create secret law in this country,” Snyder told NPR in an interview….

  74. says

    “Trump Appointee Compiles Loyalty List of U.S. Employees at U.N., State”:

    A senior advisor to the State Department appointed just two months ago has been quietly vetting career diplomats and American employees of international institutions to determine whether they are loyal to President Donald Trump and his political agenda, according to nearly a dozen current and former U.S. officials.

    Mari Stull, a former food and beverage lobbyist-turned-wine blogger under the name “Vino Vixen,” has reviewed the social media pages of State Department staffers for signs of ideological deviation. She has researched the names of government officials to determine whether they signed off on Obama-era policies — though signing off does not mean officials personally endorsed them but merely cleared them through the bureaucratic chain. And she has inquired about Americans employed by international agencies, including the World Health Organization and the United Nations, asking their colleagues when they were hired and by whom, according the officials.

    “She is actively making lists and gathering intel,” said one of the sources, a senior diplomat. Stull was named in April as a senior advisor to the State Department’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs, which manages U.S. diplomatic relations with the United Nations and other international institutions.

    Her probing, along with a highly secretive management style, has become so uncomfortable that at least three senior officials are poised to leave the bureau, according to the sources….

    Stull seems to have the support of her boss, Kevin Moley, who was appointed by the White House in January to head the bureau with the title of assistant secretary of state for international organizational affairs.

    Stull cheered his appointment on Twitter at the time, proclaiming the “Global swamp will be drained.”

    But over time, she has emerged as the most dominant force in the department. One diplomat said she seemed to outrank Moley in influence.

    According to two officials, she has stripped all references to “international law” and “international order” from action items and memos coming from the international organization bureau.

    “I don’t know if she thinks international law doesn’t exist if they just take out any reference to it, but that’s not really how things work,” one of the officials familiar with the matter said.

    “I have in my entire federal career never experienced anything at this level of chaos and dysfunction.”…

  75. says

    I have a short rant…: Where were all the liberals who are now (righteously) sickened and incensed about the conditions of migrants from Latin America when the US was helping to overthrow the government of Honduras based on a false premise? Trying in Venezuela? Bolivia? Ecuador? While indigenous/feminist/LGBT/student activists have been murdered with impunity in Honduras? Where were they during the last bogus elections in Honduras? Where are they as major US papers advocate a military coup on behalf of Venezuelan oligarchs? Where are they in regard to what’s happening in Argentina, Colombia, Brazil? How can immigration be an issue and not the deplorable continuing US policy toward the rest of the hemisphere? How can this history and its continuing effects not be central to this discussion? It can’t. US progressives can’t continue in this way.

  76. says

    Anne Applebaum:

    all of post-89 Poland’s living former presidents, plus many PMs and FMs from different parties, are calling for the EU to intervene to prevent the undemocratic destruction of the Polish judiciary

    Note that the ruling Law and Justice party did not tell voters, during their 2015 election campaign, of their plan to dismantle checks and balances in the Polish constitution. Nobody voted for this. Next elections are not for a year and a half, by then it will be too late.

    Here’s the text – “Europe, defend the rule of law in Poland!”:

    Since the fall of communism in 1989, Poland was one of the pioneers of the democratic transformations of Eastern and Central Europe. The culmination of the changes was marked by our accession to NATO and the European Union. Poland and its citizens, with their whole hearts and minds, were building the foundations of the democratic state and the rule of law that is one of the most vital merits of the united, free and democratic Europe.

    On July 3rd, the Supreme Court reform bill enters into force in Poland. It will eventually disestablish the tripartite division of powers model, the model that is the essence of the democratic rule of law and the foundation for the identity of the European Union as an institution and an idea of unified states.

    The mechanisms to defend of the rule of law in Poland proved to be ineffective.

    Despite a strong resistance and a vociferous objection raised from the depths of the society, the ruling party completes the act of dismantling of the tripartite division of powers in Poland, explicitly violating Polish Constitution.

    We, the citizens of Poland, also considering ourselves citizens of Europe, are convinced of the importance and significance of a free, democratic and lawfully ruled Poland in the European Union and therefore appeal to the European Commission and the Council of the European Union to remain committed to the fundamental principles of article 2 of the Treaty on European Union.

    We do not abandon hope that the Polish governing authorities and the parliamentary majority will declare readiness for a fair dialogue with the institutions of the European Union and the politics that undermine our common European principles will be redirected.

    The last administrative level that can defend the law and order in Poland is the European Union.

    There will be no democratic Poland without the rule of law.

    There will be no European Union without principles.

    There will be no freedom without law and order.

  77. says

    “Spain’s new interior minister just promised to remove razor wire at Melilla and Ceuta borders”:

    Fernando Grande-Marlaska, the newly appointed Interior Minister in the government of Socialist prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, has indicated his desire to remove the controversial razor wire designed to deter migrants from crossing illegally from Morocco into Spain.

    NGOs have long been calling for removal of razor wire installed along stretches of the border fences that divide Spain’s city enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla from neighbouring Morocco because of the serious injuries they cause those attempting to scale the fences.

    The new interior minister, an anti-terror judge who was appointed last week by Pedro Sanchez, pledged to remove them as soon as possible.

    “I’m going to do everything possible to see that these razor wire fences at Ceuta and Melilla are removed,” he said on Thursday in a radio interview with Onda Cero. “It’s one of my main priorities”….

  78. says

    “The SNP’s Brexit walkout shows Westminster’s contempt for Scotland can’t go on”:

    …As for ordinary voters, they may not be greatly exercised about the finer points of the constitution; they may not have followed the complex arguments over the common frameworks for the repatriation of powers. But they can hear the mood music; they know when their parliament is being slighted. Already frustrated over the democratic deficit that allows Scotland to be taken out of the EU when every part of the country voted remain, many of them will look askance at the dismissive way Conservative politicians behaved in the chamber on Wednesday.

    The anger SNP MP Joanna Cherry displayed as she shouted “This isn’t funny” will be echoed around much of the country. Anyone who doesn’t understand the potential impact of such condescension on the psyche of Scottish voters wasn’t paying enough attention last time around.

  79. says

    UPDATE: “Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies has just approved a bill to decriminalize abortion. This first step is a historic moment for human rights.”

    Bill goes to Senate next. Incredible work by activists in Argentina.

  80. says

    “New York files suit against President Trump, alleging his charity engaged in ‘illegal conduct’”:

    The New York attorney general on Thursday filed suit against President Trump and his three eldest children alleging “persistently illegal conduct” at the president’s personal charity, saying Trump repeatedly misused the nonprofit — to pay off his businesses’ creditors, to decorate one of his golf clubs and to stage a multimillion dollar giveaway at his 2016 campaign events.

    In the suit, filed Thursday morning, attorney general Barbara Underwood asked a state judge to dissolve the Donald J. Trump Foundation. She asked that its remaining $1 million in assets be distributed to other charities and that Trump be forced to pay at least $2.8 million in restitution and penalties.

    Underwood also asks that Trump be banned from leading any other New York nonprofit for 10 years — seeking to apply a penalty usually reserved for the operators of small-time charity frauds to the president of the United States.

    Underwood declined to comment on the case beyond issuing a written statement. “As our investigation reveals, the Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality,” Underwood said in the statement.

    Underwood said she had sent letters to both the IRS and the Federal Election Commission, identifying what she called “possible violations” of tax law and federal campaign law by Trump’s foundation.

    Trump’s children Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump were also named in the lawsuit because they have been official board members of the Donald J. Trump Foundation for years. Under the law, Underwood said, board members are supposed to scrutinize a charity’s spending for signs that its leader — in this case, their father — was misusing the funds.

    But in reality, Underwood wrote, the three Trump children exercised no such oversight. The board had not actually met since 1999.

    “The Foundation’s directors failed to meet basic fiduciary duties and abdicated all responsibility for ensuring that the Foundation’s assets were used in compliance with the law,” Underwood wrote.

    She asked the judge to ban each of the three from serving as a director of a New York nonprofit for a year….

    Much more at the link.

  81. says

    Full statement from NY AG’s office:

    Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood today announced a lawsuit against the Donald J. Trump Foundation, and its directors, Donald J. Trump (“Mr. Trump”), Donald J. Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump. The petition filed today alleges a pattern of persistent illegal conduct, occurring over more than a decade, that includes extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Mr. Trump’s personal and business interests, and violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations. The Attorney General initiated a special proceeding to dissolve the Trump Foundation under court supervision and obtain restitution of $2.8 million and additional penalties. The AG’s lawsuit also seeks a ban from future service as a director of a New York not-for-profit of 10 years for Mr. Trump and one year for each of the Foundation’s other board members, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump. The Attorney General also sent referral letters today to the Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Election Commission, identifying possible violations of federal law for further investigation and legal action by those federal agencies.

    As alleged in the petition, Mr. Trump used the Trump Foundation’s charitable assets to pay off his legal obligations, to promote Trump hotels and other businesses, and to purchase personal items. In addition, at Mr. Trump’s behest, the Trump Foundation illegally provided extensive support to his 2016 presidential campaign by using the Trump Foundation’s name and funds it raised from the public to promote his campaign for presidency, including in the days before the Iowa nominating caucuses.

    The Attorney General’s investigation found that Trump Foundation raised in excess of $2.8 million in a manner designed to influence the 2016 presidential election at the direction and under the control of senior leadership of the Trump presidential campaign. The Foundation raised the funds from the public at the nationally televised fundraiser Mr. Trump held in lieu of participating in the presidential primary debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 28, 2016. In violation of state and federal law, senior Trump campaign staff, including Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski, dictated the timing, amounts, and recipients of grants by the Foundation to non-profits, as evidenced by communications between Campaign staff and Foundation representatives:…

    At least five $100,000 grants were made to groups in Iowa in the days immediately before the February 1, 2016 Iowa caucuses….

  82. says

    “Trump has turned words into weapons. And he’s winning the linguistic war”:

    …Trump is subjecting American democracy to a brutal test. Our survival requires that the press halt its unwitting complicity in his power grab. The press has become complicit with Trump by allowing itself to be used as an amplifier for his falsehoods and frames. When the press gives Trump absolute power to dictate coverage, it abdicates its role as a pillar of democracy.

    How can the press do a better job? Here are some basic suggestions:

    First, journalists must understand how propaganda works on the brain and grasp the cognitive science that marketers of propaganda have implicitly mastered: frames, metaphors, narratives and brain basics.

    Second, keep a steely focus on the fact that American democracy is under attack by a foreign power, possibly with collusion from the sitting president’s campaign. This is a crisis. Certain rules don’t apply in a crisis, especially the rule that the press must amplify the president’s words, whatever they are.

    Third, stop letting Trump control the news cycle. Newsgathering should be a serious affair controlled by editors whose power rivals any politician’s. Stop chasing his tweets and elevating every sideshow. Start every story with truth and the context of what’s really important to citizens in a democracy. More BBC, less TMZ.

    Fourth, don’t spread lies. Don’t privilege Trump’s lies by putting their specific language in the headlines, the leads or the hashtags.* Don’t repeat the lies assuming people will automatically know they’re lies. People need to know the president is lying, but be careful about repeating the lies because “a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth”. Repetition of lies spreads them.

    The job of the free press is to seek the truth and report the truth, especially the morally important truths and their consequences. If the press fails to do this job, not only does it lose its freedom, but we all do.

    * For example, stop fucking using “war games” just because he said it. Putting “so-called” in front of it or using quotation marks doesn’t help. Just call them training exercises like you always did in the past, CNN.

  83. says

    “Trump Told G7 Leaders That Crimea Is Russian Because Everyone Speaks Russian In Crimea”:

    President Donald Trump told G7 leaders that Crimea is Russian because everyone who lives there speaks Russian, according to two diplomatic sources.

    Trump made the remarks over dinner last Friday during a discussion on foreign affairs at the G7 summit in Quebec, Canada, one of the diplomats told BuzzFeed News.

    The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak on the matter.

    During the dinner, Trump also seemed to question why the G7 leaders were siding with Ukraine. The president told leaders that “Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries in the world,” the source said.

    It is unclear whether Trump’s comments were throwaway remarks said in jest, or whether he was signaling a radical departure from current US foreign policy….

  84. Oggie. says

    I know this is not political, but, well, I know that my alcohol consumption has gone up since January of ’17. That said, this is one of those ones that I have mixed emotions about. Sad that a tractor trailer load of whiskey was destroyed. But, it is Fireball whiskey, so maybe not so sad. Had it been a truckload of Clanmorangie, I would have been most upset.

  85. says

    “KY Gov Threatens To Strip Medicaid From 500,000 If Court Strikes Work Rules”:

    Attorneys for Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) will tell a federal court this Friday that that the governor plans to take his ball and go home if he can’t get his way on Medicaid work requirements, premiums, and other restrictions. Bevin, who campaigned on ending the Medicaid expansion but backed down from that threat once elected, is now arguing that he will scrap the state’s Medicaid expansion if the controversial new rules are struck down by federal courts.

    Kentucky was the first state in the nation to win permission from the Trump administration to impose the new Medicaid rules, which are expected to throw nearly 100,000 Kentuckians off the program. With at least a dozen other states looking to adopt their own Medicaid work requirements, the outcome of the case could determine the future of the program not only in Kentucky but across the country.

    Kentucky and the Trump administration are jointly fighting a lawsuit from a dozen-plus Kentucky residents who fear the work requirements and other hurdles will strip them of their Medicaid coverage. The plaintiffs are arguing, among other points, that the new rules do not further Congress’ original intent for Medicaid — to provide affordable health care to low-income people.

    Kentucky’s waiver will allow the state to deny coverage to any non-disabled adult who cannot prove they are working at least 20 hours per week. The state also will be able to charge low-income Medicaid recipients health care premiums, eliminate full coverage of dental care, vision services, and over-the-counter medications for many adults, end retroactive Medicaid coverage, and implement a six-month lockout period for people who fail to re-enroll in time or report a change in income….

  86. says

    Orin Kerr: “Reading over the New York AG complaint, you have to wonder: If this is what a small corner of Trump’s business dealings looks like, what might Mueller have found?”

    Exactly. Earlier today I was trying to call to mind the list of hanging threads in the Mueller investigation, and new ones kept coming to my recollection. Trump, his family, his business, and his associates are corrupt to the core. There is so much more to come.

  87. says

    Wray just gave a press conference about the IG report.

    Matthew Miller: “This is a really important moment for Wray and the country. He is basically telling the American people directly that the president’s allegations of bias are bunk. Bravo.”

  88. says

    Dear Texas, Trump is going to set up a prison camp for 5,000 migrant children in TX. This isn’t a partisan issue, but a moral horror. As Americans we must stand & say #NOTINMYBACKYARD. If you wondered what you’d have done when Hitler set up concentration camps– now is your time.”

  89. blf says

    Oh for feck’s sake. The absurd idea farmers in S.Africa are being persecuted and murdered — as previously mentioned in this series of poopyhead threads, and which has been widely debunked — is apparently still being taken seriously by the nazi-in-Ozland’s government, home affairs minister Peter Dutton, so his party will be discussing giving them special immigration rights, Special visas for white South African farmers on agenda for Liberal council meeting:

    Liberal party members will aim to have special treatment for asylum-seeking white South African farmers made as official party policy, as the federal council prepares for its latest battleground.

    After Peter Dutton raised the issue in March, Tony Abbott [said] something like 400 white farmers have been murdered, brutally murdered, over the last 12 months.

    Despite several fact checkers debunking the claim, the idea the white South African farmers should be granted special attention, including fast-tracked visas, has persisted […].

    Tony Abbot is an exceptionally vile ex-PM of Ozland, notorious for (amongst other things) advocating the wider adoption of Ozland-like concentration camps (Manus Island and Nauru) for detaining immigrants (especially those guilty of being brown or Muslim); How Europe’s far right fell in love with Australia’s immigration policy. Those camps have been condemned by, amongst others, the UN; for instance, in 2015, UN accuses Australia of systematically violating torture convention (“Tony Abbott reacts angrily to report criticising Australia’s detention policies, saying Australians are sick of being lectured to by the United Nations“).

    Dutton’s party, headed by Ozland’s FM Julie Bishop, also has other kooky ideas:

    The Young Liberals have called on the government to follow Donald Trump’s lead and move the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and to suspend aid to the Palestinian Authority until it terminates it’s ‘martyrs’ fund’. […]

    The PA’s Martyrs Fund provides a stipend to the families of anyone(?) killed or jailed by the Israelis, and certain injured bystanders. Since that includes the families of people Israel labels “terrorists”, some people misconstrue the humanitarian support the fund provides as rewarding terrorism. Nonetheless, the fund can be very correctly and properly criticised for multiple reasons, ranging from its provocative name (and various statements) to more substantial points, including whether or not it really does assist the poorest families. The fund probably does need reforming — not abolishing.

    Dutton’s mob aren’t all kooks. One seemingly very sensible idea is mentioned:

    The ACT branch […] wants a public service recruitment process that would strip candidates’ applications of any and all identifying data to ensure gender, race and age are removed — “commonly known as blind recruitment”.

    However, their reasons for blind recruiting are possibly not-so-benign. As the redacted part notes, it is “an attempt to rid the public service of all quota hirings” (that is, to get rid of “affirmative action”-like programs). Of course, having a blinded CV (résumé) / application is not a full solution, but some (admittedly quick) searching suggests it is an important part of tackling bias when hiring employees.

  90. says

    Loretta Lynch says Comey told her that it was clear to him that “there is a cadre of senior people in New York who have a deep and visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton.”

    This is a big deal. I wish we had more assurance (beyond the source @ #168 above) that there’s a serious inquiry into this and the leaks to Giuliani. It wouldn’t surprise me if it’s been folded into the Mueller investigation.

  91. says

    An Episcopal priest on Twitter: “Dear Jeff Sessions, are you aware that the argument you made today from Romans 13 was a central argument of the German Christian (Pro-Nazi) movement over and against the Confessing Church? Im not saying you are a Nazi, but you’re interpreting the Bible like one.”

  92. says

    I agree with Lawrence O’Donnell – this is a solid summary of the IG report from John Harwood: “to sum up: Justice Dept Inspector General concluded that bias did NOT affect Clinton email investigation, that FBI had PROPER reasons for declining to prosecute her, and that the only improper actions influencing 2016 election were actions that damaged Clinton, not Trump.”

  93. says

    Contrasting images of Western values in Russia on 1st day of the World Cup. Human rights activist @PeterTatchell being arrested for calling out Putin’s murders (left) and @robbiewilliams furious for being called out for legitimizing Putin (right).”

    Photos at the link. Tatchell has since been released (note: “British fans traveling to Russia for the World Cup have been warned about threats of racism and violence by Russian ‘hooligans’, including ‘heightened risks’ to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community”).

    See #s 121 and 129 above for background.

  94. says

    Brian Schatz: “Stop pretending that banning the separation of children from parents is complex legislation. It’s ONE LINE, and it could pass ‘on suspension’ in the House on Monday, and by Unanimous Consent in the Senate on Tuesday. Attaching it to a bigger immigration bill is killing it.”

    (Also, Trump and Sessions could just end the policy any time they wanted to. Their constant lies notwithstanding, there’s nothing in the law that requires these separations.)

  95. says

    More re #186 above:

    Giuliani calls on Sessions to bring in “honest FBI agents from the New York office” who he can “trust”

    This is the most blatant obstruction of justice I have ever seen in my life. Further, his comments build on why there needs to be a full investigation in Giuliani & NY FBI.

  96. Oggie. says

    SC @ 196:

    “Trump on Kim Jong Un: ‘He speaks and his people sit up in attention. I want my people to do the same’.”

    That’s because, in North Korea, if you don’t ‘sit up in attention’, you are sent to a concentration camp re-education facility. Or are subjected to torture enhanced interrogation. Or are murdered legally executed by the state.

    I think Trump is jealous. He wants to be Kim. He wants to be a dictator. And he is heading that direction.

  97. says

    “Clapper: ‘We had a suspect’ in Kremlin-WikiLeaks transfer”:

    U.S. intelligence officials last year identified “a suspect” who served as the “cut-out” for Russian intelligence to funnel thousands of Democratic National Committee emails and documents to WikiLeaks, according to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

    In an interview for the Yahoo News podcast “Skullduggery,” Clapper told Chief Investigative Correspondent Michael Isikoff and Editor in Chief Daniel Klaidman that intelligence officials were “pretty confident” that they had identified the conduit for the hacked emails to WikiLeaks by the time he left office in January 2017. He declined, however, to provide any details about the suspect’s identity.

    “We had a suspect,” said Clapper ”I don’t know whether the suspicions we had at the time were conveyed [to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller] or whether they were validated.” U.S. intelligence officials were “pretty confident at the time but not sufficient enough to publicize it, he said….

    Podcast at the link. The discussion starts around the 25-minute mark.

  98. says

    Greg Sargent:

    Dear media:

    Please stop claiming that the IG report gives “fodder” to Trump’s attacks on the Mueller probe.

    There is no neutral way to make this claim. It effectively endorses bad-faith lies about the IG report’s actual findings.

    One of the worst conventions of political journalism is the use of the “this lends fodder” formulation to justify the floating of false claims alongside true ones.

    This convention has to go. It rewards bad-faith manipulation of the media:…

    I couldn’t agree with this more.

  99. says

    More re #202: “JUST IN: In response to new US tariffs on China, China calls ‘on all countries to take joint action, resolutely put an end to this outdated and regressive behavior, and firmly defend the common interests of mankind’.”

  100. says

    More re #206: “A Marine suffered a gunshot wound at or or near the Home of the Commandants this morning in what is believed to be a negligent discharge, a Marine official says, speaking on background due to sensitivity of situation. Likely someone on guard duty, official says. Gathering info.”

    So it appears to have been an accident of some sort.

  101. says

    BREAKING: Judge has ordered Paul Manafort jailed pending trial. He was just stepped back into custody, gave a brief wave to his wife before going back into another room out of site. Judge denied request to stay pending appeal. He was not placed in handcuffs. More shortly”

  102. says

    More from BuzzFeed – “Paul Manafort Is Going To Jail Pending His Trial “:

    …Jackson found that in light of the new allegations from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office that Manafort and his longtime associate Konstantin Kilimnik had repeatedly attempted to call and text two former business associates starting in February — an effort that one of those associates told an investigator he understood to be an effort to “suborn perjury — she could not craft release conditions that she thought would be sufficient to protect the community. Manafort did not pose a physical danger, she said, but he presented a danger to “the administration of justice.”

    “I cannot turn a blind eye to these allegations … You have abused the trust placed in you six months ago,” Jackson said.

    Jackson denied a request by Manafort’s lawyer to put her order on hold to give the defense an opportunity to appeal her decision, a request that special counsel prosecutor Greg Andres opposed. Jackson said she was concerned that in light of her order, Manafort’s risk of flight had just “multiplied.”

    Jackson rejected a request by Manafort’s lawyer to consider imposing a clearer “no contact” order covering his communications going forward in lieu of incarceration, arguing he had “largely” been in compliance with her pretrial release conditions until now.

    “This is not middle school. I can’t take his cell phone,” Jackson said.

    Jackson chastised Manafort for his behavior in the case over the previous months, noting it was not the first time she had to address his compliance with her rules. Earlier in the hearing, she had pointed to a previous incident in which prosecutors accused Manafort of violating Jackson’s order against making public statements prejudicial to the case, citing his role in editing an op-ed that ran in a Ukrainian newspaper about his case. Jackson did not find him in violation of the order, but warned him to be careful going forward.

    The judge said she was troubled that Manafort seemed “to treat these proceedings as just another marketing exercise.”…

  103. militantagnostic says

    SC @191
    If is not unbelievable, it is inevitable.
    It is one of the four Cs of Conservatism – Cruelty, Cluelessness, Cowardice and Corruption.

  104. blf says

    The Grauniad cranks up its snark machine, Six Bible verses Jeff Sessions should read as he separates migrant families:

    If the Trump administration wants to use the Bible to defend its immigration policy, here are some other extracts to consider
    ● Exodus 12:49 “The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.”
    ● Exodus 22:21 “You must not mistreat or oppress foreigners in any way. […]”
    ● Deuteronomy 10:17–18 “The Lord your God is the God of all gods and Lord of all lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God who doesn’t play favorites and doesn’t take bribes. He enacts justice for orphans and widows, and he loves immigrants, giving them food and clothing.”
    ● Luke 3:11 “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

    The quotes are obviously not from the KJV edition, giving teh donaldists an easy (albeit not-relevant) “gottcha”.

  105. blf says

    Another obstructive misogynist in the UK parliament, Tory MP Christopher Chope blocks progress of upskirting bill: “Christchurch MP is sole objector to proposal to make it a crime to take photos up skirts”. For obscure technical / procedural reasons, this sole objector — whose “reasoning” is opaque — has prevented the billing form passing this time. (It can be reconsidered, and probably will be.)

  106. says

    *China to impose tariffs of 25% on 545 U.S. products on July 6 in retaliation for U.S. tariffs;
    *U.S. products subject to immediate Chinese tariffs include farm, automobiles and seafood products: State Council”

  107. says

    NEW: Rudy Giuliani tells @NYDailyNews ‘things might get cleaned up with some presidential pardons’ when the ‘whole thing is over’ in light of Paul Manafort being sent to jail.

    Story TK.”

  108. says

    SDNY’s letter updating Judge Wood on their progress. Of the remaining items, they’ve now turned over to Cohen the contents of one of two Blackberries, 16 reconstructed pages from the shredder (intriguing), and 731 pages of encrypted messages (also intriguing). It sounds like they just have one Blackberry to go. They’ve agreed with Cohen’s lawyers that Cohen’s team will finish privilege determinations on this evidence by the 25th.

  109. says

    SC @196 and Oggie @200.

    Trump has now received enough blowback from his dictator-envy statement that he has decided to claim that it was sarcasm. I watched the video. The statement, “He speaks and his people sit up in attention. I want my people to do the same,” does not come off as sarcasm. It comes off as dictator-envy.

    That envy is backed up by effusive praise Trump has heaped on Kim Jong Un since they met in Singapore. That envy is backed up by praise Trump has heaped on Putin, Duterte, Erdogan, etc. As Oggie noted, Trump really does want to be a dictator.

    In other news, as you can see, I’m back. It will take me a long time to catch up.

    In the meantime, I wanted to thank SC for covering Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood’s suit against the Trump Foundation well. (Comment 154, 155 and others.) Also, many thanks for the great coverage of the meeting in Singapore. (Comment 98 and others.) blf in comment 71, covered an often underreported issue: the importance of local newspapers.

  110. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 218.

    From John Cassidy, writing for The New Yorker:

    During an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show on Thursday night, Rudy Giuliani […] called on the Justice Department to suspend the special counsel, Robert Mueller, as early as Friday. […]

    Giuliani’s statement indicates that a moment of crisis may be at hand. For months now, Trump’s closest allies on Capitol Hill and in the news media have been preparing to use a report by Michael Horowitz, the inspector general of the Justice Department, about the F.B.I.’s handling of the 2016 Hillary Clinton e-mail inquiry, as a pretext to go after, and, if possible, derail the Mueller investigation. Just hours after the report was released, Giuliani went on the attack. “I believe Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein have a chance to redeem themselves, and that chance comes about tomorrow,” he told Hannity. “Tomorrow, Mueller should be suspended and honest people should be brought in, impartial people, to investigate these people like Strzok. Strzok should be in jail by the end of next week.”

    […] The inspector general’s report revealed more of these Strzok-Page exchanges, including one, from August of 2016, in which Page said of Trump, he’s “not ever going to become President, right? Right?” Strzok replied, “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”

    […] At one point, the report says, “Our review did not find documentary or testimonial evidence directly connecting the political views these employees expressed in their text messages and instant messages to the investigative decisions we reviewed.” Elsewhere, the report states, in reference to the Clinton e-mail investigation, “We further found evidence that in some instances Strzok and Page advocated for more aggressive investigative measures than did others.”

    […] the investigation itself was carried out professionally and free of political bias. Rather than focussing on that conclusion, which runs counter to what Trump has been saying for almost two years, the President’s supporters, with Giuliani in the lead, are cherry-picking from the report to try to scuttle the Mueller investigation, which didn’t even start until May of 2017, after Trump had fired Comey. […]

    On Thursday, Republican statements defending Mueller and the F.B.I. were conspicuously absent. […] In her daily briefing, Sarah Sanders said of the inspector general’s report, “It reaffirmed the President’s suspicions about Comey’s conduct and the political bias among some of the members of the F.B.I.” Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, said in a tweet, “The IG report further demonstrates that a fervent anti-Trump bias existed from the very start of the Russia investigation.”

    This is the narrative that Trump has been trying to promote for months. What began as a conspiracy theory promoted by the most blinkered Trump loyalists, such as Hannity and Devin Nunes, now has the official imprimatur of the R.N.C. Who, if anybody, in the senior echelons of the Republican Party will stand up for Mueller and the rule of law now? […].

  111. says

    By falsely claiming ‘exoneration,’ Trump takes gaslighting to a new level.

    […] Trump argued that the FBI was biased against his candidacy, and the IG found the opposite. Trump claimed the Justice Department went easy on Hillary Clinton, and the IG found the opposite. Trump insisted Clinton should’ve been indicted, and the IG found the opposite. Trump whined incessantly for months about the system being “rigged” against him, and the IG found the opposite. […]

    […] the president claimed that the inspector general’s report found that federal law enforcement official “were plotting against my election.” That’s not even close to what the report said. But soon after Trump went further:

    “I think that the report yesterday, maybe more importantly than anything, it totally exonerates me. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. And if you read the report, you’ll see that.”

    This is gibberish. The report doesn’t have anything to do with the Trump campaign’s alleged cooperation with the Russians who attacked our election. The Justice Department IG made no effort to examine this in any way.

    Frustrated reporters eventually pressed the president on his brazen lying:
    Q: On the IG report, you’ve said twice now that it exonerated you and it proved there’s no collusion. The IG report –

    TRUMP: Look, if you read the IG report, I’ve been totally exonerated. As far as I’m concerned –

    Q: It had nothing to do with collusion. It had nothing to do with that.

    TRUMP: Take a look at it.

    We did take a look at it. The idea that it “exonerates” Trump is simply madness.

    […] Does he genuinely believe these ridiculously and demonstrably false assertions? Does he assume that much of the public will believe lies just so long as he repeats them? [p…]

    The more Trump peddles fairy tales, the more his presidency resembles an exasperating exercise in gaslighting.

    That’s a great summary from Steve Benen of the IG report and of Trump’s unbelievably ridiculous use of the report to promulgate more lies.

  112. says

    What Trump said today about Paul Manafort:

    Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign. I’ll tell you, I feel a little badly about it. They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago?

    You know, Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time…. He worked for me, what, for 49 days or something? A very short period of time.

    Partial fact-checking:
    – Manafort worked for the Trump Campaign for five months, which equals about 154 days (not the 49 days Trump claimed).
    – Manafort chaired Trump’s campaign in 2016. Manafort appeared on national TV as a Trump spokesperson. He played a major role in prepping for the convention. He played a major role in changing the Republican platform on the issue of Ukraine. Manafort’s deputy, Rick Gates, continued to work for the campaign after Manafort left.
    – “They went back 12 years to get things that he did 12 years ago?” Allegations against Manafort include actions he took in 2018.

    Trump can’t distance himself from himself. What is he going to do when the chickens come home to roost?

  113. says

    Yet another lawsuit against Trump is looking like it will be more of a threat to Trump:

    […] New York’s highest court on Thursday denied President Donald Trump’s attempt to put the brakes on a defamation suit from former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos.

    The decision by the New York Court of Appeals marks another failed bid from Trump to halt or delay the lawsuit brought by Zervos.


    Mariann Wang, Zervos’ lawyer, said, “This is now the third time the courts have rejected defendant’s effort to block the progress of this case. We look forward to continuing the discovery process and exposing the truth.”

  114. says

    From Kate Riga, writing for Talking Points Memo:

    Going a step further than he has before, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday that it’s time to “wrap up” Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, falling into lockstep with Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Paul Ryan, according to a Friday Washington Examiner report.

    “What I think about the Mueller investigation is, they ought to wrap it up,” he said on a Washington Examiner podcast. “It’s gone on seemingly forever, and I don’t know how much more they think they can find out.

    “If the [Inspector General] is through, why can’t the Mueller investigation finally wrap up?” McConnell added.

    McConnell is now almost exactly parroting other Republican leaders. In May, Ryan told reporters “it’s time to wrap it up.” Around the same time, Pence made a similar remark on NBC News. “Our administration has provided more than a million documents; we’ve fully cooperated in it, and in the interest of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up,” Pence said. […]


    Why is McConnell conflating the IG report with the Mueller investigation?

  115. says

    Lynna @ #227 – the absolute gall, the dishonesty, the cravenness, the abdication of his moral and constitutional responsibilities on McConnell’s part. On top of everything, #228 reminds us that the Senate Intel investigation itself isn’t completed. These are investigations into the sabotage of our elections by a kleptocratic mafia regime that wants nothing more than to destroy US democracy and power and join the US to its network of authoritarian autocracies. Mueller has (successfully) brought an astonishing number of charges for this early in an investigation, but he still hasn’t charged those who hacked the DNC and Clinton campaign or who collaborated with them, and a recent firing by Mueller says that some of the saboteurs are still at it. There are important lines of inquiry remaining to be wrapped up by Mueller, and McConnell damned well knows it. For him to say that at this moment makes me suspect he’s vulnerable himself.

  116. says

    “Police worked with violent pro-Trump activist to prosecute leftwing group”:

    A pro-Trump demonstrator who admitted hitting protesters at a far-right rally received help and support from California police, who worked with him to prosecute leftwing activists, records show.

    Documents and testimony in a trial surrounding a rightwing demonstration in Berkeley reveal that police and prosecutors pursued charges on behalf of Daniel Quillinan, a conservative activist who has posted fascist memes and came to the event with Kyle Chapman, now a celebrated figure amongst the “alt-right”. The authorities consistently treated Quillinan as a victim even though he was visibly armed with a knife, a wooden “shield” and a “flagpole” – and had told law enforcement that he “hit someone in the head”, according to court files.

    The resulting criminal trial against five anti-fascist protesters – who are accused of assaulting Quillinan during a roughly 15-second altercation – is, according to activists, the latest example of US law enforcement aggressively targeting leftwing demonstrators and favoring members of the far-right after violent clashes. In another California case, police have worked directly with neo-Nazis to go after counter-protesters, including a black activist stabbed at a white supremacist rally.

    “This makes a pretty clear statement of choosing sides,” Dustin Sawtelle, one of the anti-fascist defendants, said in an interview this week before the trial began. “We figured maybe they were trying to use charges as a scare tactic … It feels like they have to prosecute somebody.”

    At the trial in a crowded Oakland courtroom, defense attorneys argued that local police were tolerant of the pro-Trump violence on 4 March last year, that Quillinan was an armed aggressor and fascist provocateur, and that prosecutors lacked basic evidence about the alleged assault. The prosecutor, along with several police witnesses, argued that the men were observed attacking Quillinan with punches and kicks during a short confrontation outside of the rally.

    The event, billed as a “March for Trump” and “free speech” event, attracted interest from members of the alt-right and was linked to the Proud Boys, a far-right pro-Trump group of self-proclaimed “western chauvinists” that has been classified by watchdogs as a hate organization. Quillinan arrived at the rally wearing a red Trump hat, and a shirt referencing the Chilean dictator General Pinochet and a far-right meme with the words “physical removal”, which he said in court referred to the removal of “communists and Democrats”.

    It’s unclear if any rightwing demonstrators faced assault charges for the 4 March fight. Chapman, the rightwing activist, was charged with possession of a leaded stick in a case that is still pending.

    Even if the five anti-fascist protesters are acquitted, the case that has dragged on for more than a year has already impacted their lives, said Sawtelle, a 41-year-old tattoo artist and martial arts teacher. He said his personal information was posted online, leading to threats, and that he lost a job as a result of the charges. He said he has also been forced to be more cautious about his activism and participation in protests.

    “I think that’s part of the tactic – to get people away from these things,” he said, adding: “I don’t plan on quieting down.”

    Much more at the link.

  117. says

    Oh, argh. The Cohen special master has updated her earlier report.

    – I could be very confused, but I think what happened with the privilege designations is that this Monday was the deadline for Cohen and the intervenors to object to her designations. They had asked the judge last week if they could file the objections under seal and she said no, and then Monday came and went without objections. So she’s turned the non-privileged materials over to the government. (Again, I could be misunderstanding what happened.)

    – She says that Cohen’s team has been working diligently to complete their privilege review. They’ve requested, the government hasn’t objected to, and she supports an extension of the deadline for their privilege review of the remaining materials from today to the 25th. So evidently that will be the final final deadline for both the old and new materials (minus the one Blackberry they haven’t cracked yet).

  118. says

    Giuliani tells me he advised POTUS not to pardon anyone before Mueller probe ends & POTUS agrees. But pardons possible *after* Mueller probe.”

    First, floating pardons for any hypothetical date is an abuse of power, obstruction, and a deliberate attempt to undermine legal institutions (see his reference to things being “cleaned up,” particularly in light of their false claims about recent pardons and suggested pardons). Second, after the Mueller probe he won’t be in any position to pardon anyone.

  119. blf says

    Come on, Sadiq Khan, let our Trump Baby blimp fly above London:

    […] In her infinite wisdom, our prime minister has invited Trump to the UK on 13 July, when he will probably gloat and smirk over our Brexit misfortune, and hope to bully us into subjugation. To do justice to the enormity of the occasion, a group of activist friends and I have had a six-metre-high blimp made of Trump as a giant orange baby, with a mobile phone clutched in his tiny hands. Trump Baby is the kind of protest that would be impossible to ignore during the presidential visit. Trump Baby is precisely what this situation calls for.

    Imagine our dismay to find that the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, disagrees. In order to secure consent to protest in Parliament Square Gardens, you have to apply via the events team at City Hall. […] Khan’s officials, however, have insisted that Trump Baby blimp is not a protest. A protest is a gathering of people with banners and placards, they say. Apparently, Trump Baby is merely “art” and therefore not a legitimate applicant to protest outside the seat of our democracy.


  120. says

    More re #s 96 and 142 above – “Spain unveils welcoming measures to help migrants”:

    Spain’s new center-left government unveiled a series of measures Friday to “put people’s rights first” in the country’s migration policies.

    The Spanish cabinet took the first steps toward extending public health care to foreigners without residence permits, Education Minister Isabel Celaa announced, saying the government would have a decree ready in six weeks.

    Celaa also said the government planned to assess how to remove — “without losing any security” — the barbed wire capping the border fences of Ceuta and Melilla, the two Spanish enclaves in North Africa. Those fences are often stormed by scores of migrants trying to reach Spanish territory from Africa.

    Friday’s moves — along with Spain’s welcoming of the Aquarius, a rescue boat carrying hundreds of migrants that was refused entry by Italy and Malta this week in the Mediterranean — showed a sharp break between new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and his predecessor, Mariano Rajoy, whose conservative administration had a stricter approach on migration.

    Rajoy had blocked free health care for some migrants in 2012 as a cost-cutting measure. His government also refused to remove the barbed wire border fences criticized as cruel and inefficient by rights groups.

    Celaa said the government didn’t believe its new policies would encourage more migrant arrivals because they are on the move anyway to escape poverty and violence.

    “Putting people’s rights first” is a very good guiding principle.

  121. says

    OMG this thread – “Okay. I’ve found it. The absolute culmination of the ‘we have to build bridges with the far right’ argument….”

    (Incidentally, Nazi Germany had a fairly well-developed propaganda operation in the US which covertly supported movements seeking peace with and appeasement of the Nazis. After FARA was enacted in 1938, the US government enthusiastically went after Nazi agents and propagandists while allowing a vast British anti-Nazi propaganda and intelligence operation to thrive in the US (and throughout the hemisphere) under US protection.)

  122. says


    Great discussions with European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Council President Donald Tusk at the #G7Summit in Canada last week.

    WSJ earlier today:

    European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the U.S. should look at the broader trade relationship instead of focusing on line items, stressing that European companies were investing billions in the U.S. and underwriting thousands of jobs, according to a European diplomat at the gathering. He also made a personal appeal by recounting how his father was liberated by U.S. troops from a Russian prison-camp at the end of World War II after being forced into the German army by the Nazis.

    A senior EU official said the U.S. president called Mr. Juncker a “brutal killer” several times, referring to Brussels’ billions of dollars in antitrust and tax fines against American tech companies and the fact that Washington can’t engage Berlin and Paris directly for trade deals, which are handled exclusively by the bloc’s executive.

    “I think he meant it as a compliment but I’m not so sure,” Mr. Juncker, a native of tiny Luxembourg, told a regional German parliament on Thursday.

  123. says

    Thorough and insightful from Marshall – “There’s Something Fatally Wrong in the IG Report on the FBI and DOJ.”

    It doesn’t say anything about Comey’s saying he had ordered an investigation into it or the FOIA request that turned up no records relating to said investigation, but this is from yesterday, before the report was released:

    Mr. Horowitz has said he is investigating whether officials improperly disclosed information about the Clinton case to journalists. But one of the most intriguing questions involves the potential leak of information to one of Mr. Trump’s key campaign surrogates, Rudolph W. Giuliani. Mr. Giuliani appeared on Fox News in October 2016 and hinted that big news was about to break:

    “I mean, I’m talking about some pretty big surprises,” he said in one interview. In another, he referenced Mrs. Clinton and said he expected the surprises to surface in the coming days.

    Two days later, Mr. Comey broke the news that the F.B.I. was once again investigating Mrs. Clinton and her emails. Mr. Comey has said he ordered an investigation into that disclosure but it is not clear what came of it.

    I’m positive that I read recently that a FOIA request about said investigation received a response that there were no relevant records, suggesting it was never undertaken. And then there was nothing about it in the IG report, and no apparent follow-up from Apuzzo. Something strange is going on.

  124. says

    Here it is! Bradley P. Moss on May 2:

    NEW: DOJ has just confirmed, in the context of ongoing FOIA litigation, that the FBI did not locate any records memorializing investigations into unauthorized leaks to Rudy Giuliani during the 2016 campaign.

    So I don’t know what happened to the directive issued by @Comey but…

  125. says

    “Leaked Erdogan Video Stokes Turkish Vote-Rigging Fears”:

    A leaked video of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vote sparked fears of possible vote rigging ahead of presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for June 24.

    The video shows Erdogan telling party officials to secure majorities on ballot box monitoring committees to “finish the job in Istanbul before it has even started.”

    In the video, Erdogan also comments on the pro-Kurdish HDP: “I can’t speak these words outside [publicly]. I am speaking them with you here. Why? Because if the HDP falls below the election threshold, it would mean that we would be in a much better place.”

    The HDP is hovering around the 10 percent electoral threshold needed to enter parliament. Failure to pass the threshold would result in HDP votes being transferred to the party’s chief rival in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, the ruling AKP. That would give the AKP around 60 parliamentary seats, which, analysts say, could prove decisive in the closely fought campaign.

    The video of the closed-door Istanbul meeting held earlier this month was published on social media by an attending official. The official quickly removed the recording, but not before it went viral.

    More than 140,000 voters will have to travel as far as 30 kilometers to reach polling stations that were moved in the predominantly Kurdish southeast. Critics say the areas affected are strongholds of the HDP and that the move is aimed at voter suppression, which authorities deny.

    The monitoring of voter stations, particularly in the predominantly Kurdish region, is seen as key by the opposition to ensuring a fair vote. Sinan Ulgen of the Istanbul-based Edam research institution said voter security concerns are bringing together a traditionally factious opposition.

    Opposition cooperation over voter security has led to ideological barriers being broken down. The Iyi, a hardline Turkish nationalist party, and the pro-Kurdish HDP are now collaborating as part of a broader alliance to ensure a fair vote.

    “They are in talks to coordinate their approach to prevent any election fraud. Whether it is sufficient, we shall see,” Ulgen said.

  126. says

    Sorry – fixed:

    WATCH: A speech by VP Pence was interrupted by protesters against the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border.”

    Good for these people in Ohio.

  127. says

    “‘The Waiver Process Is Fraud’: Previously undisclosed statements from two consular officers raise questions about the legality of the Trump administration’s third travel ban.”:

    Any day now, the Supreme Court will issue its ruling in Trump v. Hawaii, weighing in on the legality of President Donald Trump’s third travel ban. That ban, which was instituted via executive order in September, prevents nearly all individuals from five majority-Muslim countries and North Korea, and a small number of Venezuelans, from entering the United States unless they receive special waivers. In federal court, government lawyers have pointed to that process of offering “case-by-case” waivers to deserving visa applicants as evidence that the administration’s most recent ban doesn’t suffer from the same constitutional infirmities that caused the first ban to get blocked by numerous judges.

    Public reports about seemingly deserving applicants whose waiver requests have been rejected have raised questions about whether the waiver process is as “robust“ as the government has claimed….

    In justifying the ban, Francisco described a straightforward waiver process, one reminiscent of the procedures carried out under presidents including Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. But new, previously undisclosed statements from two consular officers tasked with implementing the travel ban’s provisions contradict this depiction. Both say consular officers had no discretion to offer waivers themselves. One described the waiver process as a “fraud.” In the days before the Supreme Court is set to release its ruling in Trump v. Hawaii, these claims raise significant questions regarding the government’s assertions about the travel ban.

    If further evidence were to emerge indicating that the waiver process works differently in practice than the administration has claimed, that information could have a serious effect on the legality of the travel ban. In arguments before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the government asserted that the travel ban writ large was not reviewable under a long-standing legal doctrine known as “consular nonreviewability.” This legal theory, which was affirmed as recently as 2015, gives consular officers broad discretion to reject or approve individual visa applicants without those decisions being subject to judicial review. The 9th Circuit rejected the argument that consular nonreviewability could apply to broad presidential proclamations. It’s possible, though, that the courts could find that decisions to grant or deny individual waivers under the current travel ban—with those decisions purportedly made on a discretionary basis by consular officers—are indeed protected from scrutiny because of the doctrine of consular nonreviewability. If that happens, the administration could claim consular officers are making individualized, discretionary, nonreviewable decisions, while at the same time dictating what precisely each of those “discretionary” decisions should be.

    The full truth of how the waiver process works remains unknown to all but a small group of government officials. It may ultimately be up to the courts to decide how much the public will be allowed to know about the reality on the ground, and when—if ever—we’re allowed to know it.

    Much more at the link. It’s long past time the State Department Q&As and other documents were made public.

  128. says

    when i was four, i was taken away from my father during an intense custody battle and placed in a group home for several years by an idiot judge. we went to parks and zoos, too, and then i’d cry myself to sleep most nights. the trauma left me bent for years. this is child abuse….”

  129. says

    Jake Tapper: “The oddest thing about POTUS lying about this new administration policy causing hundreds if not thousands more children to be taken from their parents if they illegally cross the border is that his AG is out there proudly owning it.”

    As I said @ #88 above, today is the second anniversary of Jo Cox’s murder. If she were still alive, she would be speaking out against this evil policy and encouraging others to do the same.

  130. says

    Tony Schwartz (who was just on with Joy Reid):

    I believe the media needs to give up the pretense of treating Trump’s behavior as something to analyze on any rational grounds. This is entirely a story about a man acting out a severe personality disorder. Reporters don’t know how to handle that, so they avoid it.

    This presidency is now all about mental illness. Trump’s dangerous & pathological narcissism is getting progressively worse. His reality testing about summit with Kim Jung Un is very low. We are at a rapidly escalating risk as Trump’s grandiosity & paranoia rise inexorably.

    Trump genuinely reveres and envies dictators. He believes if he had their absolute power, he wouldn’t feel so empty and persecuted — but he is wrong. Nothing will ever fill his infinite sense of emptiness.

    [link] [link] [link]

  131. says

    Readers of this thread know this by now, but I’ll repeat it because it is important enough to bear repetition: Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “Persons who violate the law of our nation are subject to prosecution. I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order.”

    Slaveholders cited the same chapter and verse circa the 1850s to justify slavery, to justify beating slaves, to justify separating the members of families held as slaves, to justify recapturing slaves that escaped, to justify prosecuting people who helped slaves escape, etc.

    Furthermore, people who arrive at the border, at a port of entry, and ask for asylum are obeying the law. Those asylum seekers are being jailed on “misdemeanor” charges, which is not, I think, necessary. Moreover, asking for asylum is not an act that should in any way prompt the separation of children from parents.

    Trump probably has no idea what is legal and what is not. For what it is worth, Trump repeated … again … that the Democrats are responsible for a “law” that requires that undocumented parents seeking entry into the USA must be separated from their children. Trump is nothing if not persistent in promulgating this lie.

    More on the bible verse that Sessions quoted:

    […] There is something of a rich tradition of citing Romans 13 in the furtherance of political ideas. However, as the Atlantic’s Yoni Appelbaum noted on Twitter, the verse is typically deployed in this fashion by blackguards and despots, such as slavery apologists, defenders of apartheid, and Nazis.

    It was, in fact, the go-to Biblical verse for loyalists to the British Crown who opposed American independence. As the Washington Post’s James Hohmann noted, “Historically, whenever a politician has cited Romans 13 to justify public policy, they have lost the debate.” […]

    As the Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Sarah Smith reported, numerous Christians objected to Sessions’ “misuse of Scripture.” As one Southern Baptist pastor, Wes Faulk, told the paper, “Any government that uses Romans 13 to silence ethical objections has already realized it does not stand on Scriptural or moral high grounds.” […]


    From Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

    The separation of illegal alien families is the product of the same legal loopholes that Democrats refuse to close and these laws are the same that have been on the books for over a decade and the president is simply enforcing them.

    Bearing false witness.

  132. says

    US eyes quitting United Nations human rights council

    […] According to an anonymous source that spoke with Reuters, it’s only a matter of time before the U.S. leaves the organization.

    “Diplomatic sources said it was not a question of if, but when,” Reuters reports. If the U.S. did bail on the council, it would be the latest in a series of exits from international coalitions that America abandoned under President Trump. (See also: Paris Climate Agreement, Iran Nuclear Deal.)

    But a different U.S. official in Geneva would not confirm those reports. “We are still moving ahead with our engagement for the coming session,” which is slated to last three weeks, through July 6. […]

    No word on what the United States’ current treatment of immigrant children means for America’s record of human rights violations.

  133. says

    Josh Marshall follows up on #243: “More Evidence of the Critical Failure of the IG Report.” He still doesn’t include the information about the FOIA request or the piece from Matt Apuzzo (also @ #243) suggesting just before the report’s release that “one of the most intriguing questions involves the potential leak of information to one of Mr. Trump’s key campaign surrogates, Rudolph W. Giuliani” and that this would form part of the IG report and noting Comey’s statement that he had ordered an investigation, or Apuzzo’s odd lack of comment later on the fact that the report didn’t answer this question.

    The explanation I want is that, as some reporters have suggested (see #168 above), this is also being investigated and will be in a separate report, and Apuzzo and others are running it down. But then I don’t know why the FOIA request wouldn’t have received a Glomar-type response; on the other hand, if it’s something DoJ is trying to shuffle under the rug, I don’t know why the journalists would be going along…

  134. says

    From SC’s link in comment 267:

    […] much of the report is framed around examining whether pretty good evidence of hostility toward candidate Trump (though by no means only Trump) affected the actions of lead agent Peter Strzok. But whether the abundant evidence of bias and actions by those hostile to candidate Clinton had an effect is just passed over. […]

    [From the interview with Loretta Lynch, discussing a conversation she had with Comey]

    […] we have to talk about the New York office…and the concern that both you and I have expressed about leaks in the past. […]

    I said we both work with them. We both know them. We both, you know, think highly of them. I said, but this has become a problem. And he said, and he said to me that it had become clear to him, he didn’t say over the course of what investigation or whatever, he said it’s clear to me that there is a cadre of senior people in New York who have a deep and visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton. And he said it is, it is deep. […] he was saying it did exist, and it was hard to manage because these were agents that were very, very senior, or had even had timed out and were staying on, and therefore did not really feel under pressure from headquarters or anything to that effect. […]

    I said I’m, I’m just troubled that this issue, meaning the, the New York agent issue and leaks, I am just troubled that this issue has put us where we are today with respect to this laptop.

    […] It seems highly likely that some form of this conversation did take place: one in which both discussed the reality of deep animus against Secretary Clinton among a key group of FBI agents in the New York field office, ones who felt unbounded by supervision by FBI officials or Main Justice. […]

    1. We have strong evidence that there was a clique of senior agents in the New York field office with […] a “visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton.” We don’t have to take Comey and Lynch’s word for it. This was actually a talking point among the GOP right in the fall of 2016. It was simply proffered as evidence for Clinton’s perfidy.

    2. We have strong reporting that law enforcement officials confirmed that agents in the New York field office leaked information about the laptop to […] Rudy Giuliani. […]

    3. We know from Rep. Devin Nunes’ own account that, within two or three days of finding the emails on the laptop, what Nunes termed “good FBI agents” were leaking the information to Capitol Hill Republicans. […]

    4. We know from the IG Report itself that all the top FBI officials aside from Comey believed that the fear that the laptop information would be leaked if Comey did not announce it was a key driver in the decision to send the letter. The remaining evidence suggests those leaks would have been driven by animus against Secretary Clinton.

    […] Nunes’ own account clearly identifies these not as whistleblowers exposing possible wrongdoing but evidence of political bias leading agents to take actions to damage Secretary Clinton. […]

    it really looks like the Inspector General investigated the questions President Trump and Attorney General Sessions wanted investigated. To his credit, he looked at those questions and did not pretend to find what Trump and Sessions clearly wanted him to find. But he simply ignored the questions which were unhelpful – whether the investigations were tainted by anti-Clinton animus […]

  135. says

    From Trump’s Saturday morning tweet storm:

    The IG Report totally destroys James Comey and all of his minions including the great lovers, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who started the disgraceful Witch Hunt against so many innocent people. It will go down as a dark and dangerous period in American History!
    The IG Report is a total disaster for Comey, his minions and sadly, the FBI. Comey will now officially go down as the worst leader, by far, in the history of the FBI. I did a great service to the people in firing him. Good Instincts. Christopher Wray will bring it proudly back!

  136. says

    Update on the voter registration efforts of the Parkland students:

    Student survivors of February’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School […] kicked off their March for Our Lives: Road to Change national tour in Chicago.

    Hundreds gathered for the rally at St. Sabina’s Catholic Church on Chicago’s South Side, the Chicago Tribune reported. Among them were featured guests including Chance the Rapper, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz), Jennifer Hudson, and Will.i.am.

    […] the South Side Peace March, kicked off a 50-plus-stop tour for students who aim to rally young potential voters to register ahead of November’s midterm elections. […]

    “Four million people in this country turn 18 this year,” said Jammal Lemy, [who] lost two close friends in the shooting. “We have the opportunity to empower the youth and to push a voter registration drive.” […]

    According to David Hogg, one of the shooting’s most visible survivors, the bus tour aims to “promote the largest youth voter turnout ever.” […]


  137. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Trump’s extraordinary festival of lies on Friday morning (extraordinary even for Trump):

    […] Here he is lying about his administration’s policy of ripping babies out of their crying mothers’ arms. He says he “hates” it (lie) and that the “Democrats have to change their law” (lie lie lie lie lie) and that it’s “their law” (lie lie lie lie LIE LIE LIE LIE FUCKING LIE, BECAUSE IT’S NOT EVEN A FUCKING LAW, IT IS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION POLICY): [video at the link]

    […] Here is the president repeating the lie he’s been telling all week, about how hundreds of thousands of 115-year-old mommies and daddies who lost sons in the Korean War are just constantly begging him to bring home their remains. We don’t know why, but we find this lie kind of charming, in that “Holy Shit, The Leader Of The Free World Really Is As Fucking Stupid As He Looks” kind of way: [video at the link]

    […] Here is Trump lying and saying Paul Manafort only worked for his campaign for “49 days” (it was 144 days) and that Manafort had basically nothing to do with his campaign, and after a minute of saying word salad about that, Trump lies and says disgraced literal actual foreign agent Michael Flynn maybe DIDN’T lie to the FBI, and besides, it doesn’t matter because “Who’s lied more than Comey”? [video at the link.]

    […] we will now close out this post with the president accidentally telling the truth, a truth about how he always tells lies, and admitting that he dictated [Donald] Junior’s lie statement about his Russian treason meeting, and that it doesn’t matter because it was just a statement to the “phony New York Times,” which always writes phony stories, except for they wrote a nice story yesterday […]

  138. says

    Joe Scarborough*’s response to #252:

    I am sorry that the Trump Administration has created a vicious policy where parents are told their children are being taken to showers and never return.
    Such inhumanity is un-American. You can quote me on that.

    * (Who annoys the living fuck out of me, but whatever.)

  139. says

    It’s goin’ down – “Leave. EU faces new questions over contacts with Russia”:

    A leader of the Leave.EU campaign suggested sending a “message of support” to the Russian ambassador after the then foreign secretary made a speech that was critical of Russia, documents seen by the Observer suggest.

    The material also appears to show that Andy Wigmore, spokesman for the Leave.EU campaign and the business partner of Arron Banks, the biggest funder of Brexit, passed confidential legal documents to high-ranking officials at the Russian embassy and then denied it to parliament.

    The documents related to George Cottrell, an aide to Nigel Farage who was with him on the campaign trail for Donald Trump in July 2016. Cottrell was arrested by the FBI and charged with 21 counts of money laundering, bribery and wire fraud.

    Damian Collins, chair of the culture, media and sport select committee, said that Banks and Wigmore appeared to have misled parliament and “what we really need to know is why”. He added: “It makes you question whose side they are on.”

    According to material seen by the Observer, Wigmore, who was Belize*’s trade envoy to Britain at the time, forwarded an email to a Russian diplomat marked “Fw Cottrell docs – Eyes Only”. It is understood the email, dated 20 August 2016, showed six attachments of legal documents relating to Cottrell’s arrest by federal agents. It appears that Wigmore sent it to Sergey Fedichkin , a third secretary at the Russian embassy, saying: “Have fun with this.”**

    Collins asked Wigmore and Banks a series of questions about Cottrell’s arrest. He noted Wigmore was with Cottrell when federal agents seized him at Chicago airport on 26 July 2016, and that Farage was sent his charge sheet by the FBI. “Did you discuss George Cottrell’s arrest with the Russian embassy?” Collins asked. Wigmore replied: “It never came up. While at the time it probably seemed a big thing, there was so much else going on at the time it just was not an issue. It never came up.”

    The Observer has also seen what appears to be a discussion between the Leave.EU social media team and Wigmore and Banks in March 2016, three months before the referendum. On 11 March 2016 the Russian embassy put out a press release attacking Philip Hammond, the then foreign secretary, for suggesting that “the only country who would like us to leave the EU is Russia”.

    Ian Lucas, Labour MP for Wrexham, who is also on the committee, said: “There has been a coordinated attempt to attack, bully and intimidate anyone asking questions about this, including MPs. But what the evidence is showing is an intimate business relationship with a hostile foreign government that was being built up in the period before the summer of 2016 that needs to be in the public domain.”

    The Observer has seen a series of exchanges that suggest a picture of communications between the embassy and the Leave.EU campaign running up to the referendum which continued in the period after Farage became an active supporter and campaigner for Trump.

    The New York Times published a story about a secret ledger of payments to Manafort – that were paid via the British Virgin Islands, Belize* and the Seychelles – on 14 August 2016….

    * Interesting how Belize keeps popping up.
    ** !!!

  140. says

    Re #276, I’m a bit confused about the “message of support” allegation in the opening paragraph. I think there must have been a paragraph after

    The Observer has also seen what appears to be a discussion between the Leave.EU social media team and Wigmore and Banks in March 2016, three months before the referendum. On 11 March 2016 the Russian embassy put out a press release attacking Philip Hammond, the then foreign secretary, for suggesting that “the only country who would like us to leave the EU is Russia”.

    that was being edited and was accidentally dropped – ?

  141. says

    Here’s the explanation for #277 – there’s a whole separate article, and they must have accidentally dropped the link/summary. It’s quite something: “Arron Banks, Brexit and the Russia connection”:

    On 11 March 2016, three months before the European referendum, and long before anyone had started to wonder about foreign interference in the two political cataclysms of 2016 – Brexit and Trump – the Russian embassy in London put out a press release.

    Philip Hammond, the foreign secretary, had made a speech at Chatham House a few days earlier. A speech in which he noted that “the only country who would like us to leave the EU is Russia”. And the embassy had taken exception.

    A couple of hundred miles away, in Lysander House, Catbrain Lane*, Bristol, a modern office block on a busy roundabout that serves as the headquarters of both Eldon Insurance – owned by local businessman Arron Banks – and the Leave.EU campaign team – funded by Arron Banks – it seems to have caught someone’s eye.

    The press release said it showed Russia “being dragged into the domestic debate on Brexit” as part of a “wicked Russia thesis”. Written more in the language of a slighted lover than a nation state, it claimed that “this was “unfair”, and the government needed to “explain itself”. “We wouldn’t have dwelt on it,” it said, had the British government not alluded to the Russian threat “at every opportunity”. The Leave.EU team appeared to think so, too. A message from an employee to Banks and Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU’s press spokesman and Banks’s business partner, sent on the same day – 11 March 2016 – says: “Pretty strong stuff from the Russian embassy! Risky area but this might possibly be worth using for a tile?” (A “tile” is an image that they could use in social media messaging, on Twitter or other platforms.)

    Last week, the Observer published details of multiple meetings between Banks and Wigmore and the Russian embassy, the details of which they confirmed when they passed the original emails to the Sunday Times in order to try to scoop us. The documents seen by the Observer suggest Banks replies: “I think we should – let’s draft a press release in response to the Russian letter.”

    The documents suggest that the employee’s response included a press release he says he has drafted on “the great looming threat” of Russia, though he notes that one of the sentences is optional as it “may be seen as too overtly Russophile”.

    Wigmore responds: “Suggest we send a note of support to the Ambassador.”

    Was the “personal note of support” sent? We don’t know, but it’s a fascinating, revealing, and disturbing insight into the nature of the relationship between officials representing the Russian government and the main funder of the Leave campaign. A relationship that was, until now, partly covert and hidden. And which Banks conceded in parliament on Tuesday that he’d lied about for two years.

    This was the campaign headed by Nigel Farage, whose close friend and ally, Steve Bannon, had been Trump’s campaign manager and who said, on Wednesday: “I have never received any Russian financial or political support…”

    And it plunges Britain directly into the same nexus of relationships that is the focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Two years on, we are in the dark about so much. What was the exact nature of Farage’s Leave.EU campaign’s relationship to the Russian government? Why did it exist? And to what end?

    Just last week, Farage robustly denied any improper relationship with the Russians on his radio show.

    So far, all that we can say for sure is that, for the last two years, Banks and Wigmore have lied about it. And, it’s this, perhaps, that raises the most critical question of all: why?

    A week and a half ago, a fellow journalist, Peter Jukes, showed me this material for the first time, and my jaw dropped. I’d left parliament where I’d heard Alexander Nix, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, give evidence to the investigation into fake news to a parliamentary inquiry over many hours. And later that night, I found myself looking at a computer screen that shone on a light on a part of the investigation that I had never expected to uncover.

    What we know now is that this relationship is deeper and more complex than we could have imagined. And that Banks and Wigmore lied about it: to the public, to parliament. And we don’t know why.

    What we don’t know, or at least I don’t know, is whether this is collusion. If the Leave campaign colluded with the Russian government. That’s a word freighted with meaning and significance. A question that Farage won’t answer.

    When I rang into his LBC phone-in show on Monday, he slammed down the phone on me, in what, in the video, looks like a moment of panic.

    We don’t know if there was collusion. But here’s what we do know, what these communications suggest to us: that there was co-ordination.

    There’s so much more at the link. Cadwalladr’s description of the response to her journalism brings together – and they need to be brought together – the authoritarian attacks on journalists, the misogynistic attacks on women, the arrogance and impunity, the propaganda and gaslighting, and the transnational networks of political corruption.

    * I think that’s the best street name I’ve ever seen.

  142. says

    Cadwalladr: “Please read this. I don’t write personal stories. But this week I learned Russia & LeaveEU may have co-ordinated their attacks on me. Gobsmacked & a bit freaked out.”

    She’s incredibly brave.

    A few months earlier, Banks tweeted: “@carolecadwalla wouldn’t be so lippy in Russia!” A tweet he has now deleted.

    …Two weeks later, the Observer received the first of a series of extraordinary letters from the Russian embassy – one of which came personally to me from Yakovenko – about my reporting. “We think it’s a textbook example of bad journalism which raises quite a few questions regarding the true colours of the reporter.”

    Then, on 13 November, a watershed moment, when Theresa May finally stood up and accused Russia of “weaponising information” and meddling in our democracy.

    That night, I tweeted it out. “Finally!” I said.

    The response was swift. The next day, Leave.EU’s official account tweeted a video, headlined: “@carolecadwalla takes a hit as the Russian conspiracy deepens.” It described me as “hysterical Guardian investigator Carole Codswallop”. The video was a clip of the film Airplane! and they had photoshopped my face into that of a “hysterical” woman being hit repeatedly around the head. The last frame showed a woman with a gun. In the background, the Russian anthem played.

    I saw it, sitting at my kitchen table, where I live alone, and was, at first, bewildered. Bewildered, and over the course of the next 42 hours, freaked out. Hundreds of people reported it to Twitter and the police, but still it stayed up. On the evening of the second day, I asked my editor to intervene. That night, he wrote to Wigmore. The next morning, it finally came down. On Twitter, I wrote: “It was intended to unsettle me. And it did.”

  143. says

    A few months earlier, Banks tweeted: “@carolecadwalla wouldn’t be so lippy in Russia!” A tweet he has now deleted.

    Has an explanation for this tweet ever been demanded?

  144. says

    The response was swift. The next day, Leave.EU’s official account tweeted a video, headlined: “@carolecadwalla takes a hit as the Russian conspiracy deepens.” It described me as “hysterical Guardian investigator Carole Codswallop”. The video was a clip of the film Airplane! and they had photoshopped my face into that of a “hysterical” woman being hit repeatedly around the head. The last frame showed a woman with a gun. In the background, the Russian anthem played.

    Has an explanation for this video ever been demanded?

  145. says

    “Trump associate Roger Stone reveals new contact with Russian national during 2016 campaign”:

    One day in late May 2016, Roger Stone — the political dark sorcerer and longtime confidant of Donald Trump — slipped into his Jaguar and headed out to meet a man with a Make America Great Again hat and a viscous Russian accent.

    The man, who called himself Henry Greenberg, offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton, Trump’s presumptive Democratic opponent in the upcoming presidential election, according to Stone who spoke about the previously unreported incident in interviews with The Washington Post. Greenberg, who did not reveal the information he claimed to possess, wanted Trump to pay $2 million for the political dirt, Stone said.

    “You don’t understand Donald Trump,” Stone recalled saying before rejecting the offer at a restaurant in the Russian-expat magnet of Sunny Isles, Fla. “He doesn’t pay for anything.”

    Later, Stone got a text message from Michael Caputo, a Trump campaign communications official who’d arranged the meeting after Greenberg had approached Caputo’s Russian-immigrant business partner.

    “How crazy is the Russian?” Caputo wrote according to a text message reviewed by The Post. Noting that Greenberg wanted “big” money, Stone replied: “waste of time.”

    Two years later, the brief sit-down in Florida has resurfaced as part of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s sprawling investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Caputo. Caputo said he was asked about the meeting by prosecutors during a sometimes-heated questioning session last month.

    Stone and Caputo, who did not previously disclose the meeting to congressional investigators, now say they believe they were the targets of a setup by U.S. law enforcement officials hostile to Trump.

    They cite records — independently examined by The Post — showing that the man who approached Stone is actually a Russian national who has claimed to work as an FBI informant.

    Interviews and additional documents show that Greenberg has at times used the name Henry Oknyasnky. Under that name, he claimed in a 2015 court filing related to his immigration status that he had provided information to the FBI for 17 years. He attached records showing that the government had granted him special permission to enter the United States because his presence represented a “significant public benefit.”

    There is no evidence that Greenberg was working with the FBI in his interactions with Stone, and in his court filing, Greenberg said that he had stopped his FBI cooperation sometime after 2013.

    The meeting took place two months earlier than federal officials have said a counterintelligence operation was officially opened and before WikiLeaks began releasing hacked Democratic emails.

    It came in the same time period as other episodes in which Russian interests approached the Trump campaign….

    Stone and Caputo’s interactions with Greenberg mean that at least 11 Trump associates or campaign officials have acknowledged interactions with a Russian during the election season or presidential transition. Those interactions have become public in the year and a half since a Trump spokeswoman said that no one associated with the campaign had communications with Russians or other foreign entities.

    When Stone arrived at the restaurant in Sunny Isles, he said, Greenberg was wearing a Make America Great Again T-shirt and hat. On his phone, Greenberg pulled up a photo of himself with Trump at a rally, Stone said.

    “We really want to help Trump,” Stone recalled Greenberg saying during the brief encounter….*

    Much more at the link. I hadn’t realized the extent of Caputo’s political connections to Russia: “Caputo had moved to Russia [in the ’90s] to develop a Rock-the-Vote-style campaign for Russian President Boris Yeltsin.”

    * Uh…

  146. says

    Cadwalladr: “Last November, as Mueller’s investigation began to bite & the EU Withdrawal Bill approached, things turned nasty. One week after the Russian Embassy wrote to call me a ‘bad journalist’, LeaveEU posted this video. It showedme being beaten. And then threatened with a gun…”

    What I found striking about these images is the photo of Cadwalladr they chose to accompany their claim that she was “hysterical” and going into “meltdown.” She seriously couldn’t look more calm and confident.

  147. says

    Tweet o’ the day. (OMG I love these people.)

    Here’s the article that features it: “Aquarius in Valencia: Spain welcomes migrants from disputed ship”:

    Migrants rescued from the Mediterranean and turned away by Italy and Malta have arrived in Spain’s port of Valencia.

    Three vessels, including the Aquarius, which rescued the 630 migrants last weekend, have now docked in the harbour.

    Health officials, interpreters and Red Cross workers are on hand to offer support.

    Spain’s new socialist government has promised free healthcare and says it will investigate each asylum case.

    “It is our duty to help avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and offer a safe port to these people, to comply with our human rights obligations,” Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez said earlier this week.

    They come from 26 countries. Reports say the largest groups (about 150 each) are from Sudan and Nigeria, with dozens more from Eritrea, South Sudan and Algeria.

    Most of the rest of the 630 are from other African countries but a handful are from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

    Officials say the rescued migrants include 123 unaccompanied minors, 11 younger children under the age of 13 and seven pregnant women.

    Initially, the migrants will receive food and hygiene kits and everything else necessary to make them comfortable after weeks of hardship, Red Cross official Pedro Redon told the BBC.

    The pregnant women will be taken for check-ups. Everyone on board will receive psychological help and the Spanish government has promised them medical assistance.

    Police will have to identify them and take them to police stations to initiate immigration procedures.

    French President Emmanuel Macron’s government will work with Spain to deal with the migrants.

    Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said that any migrants who wish to go to France would be allowed to do, providing they had a legitimate claim to asylum.

    Valencia’s Mayor Joan Ribo, who has offered the ship a safe berth, described Italy’s decision to turn the vessel away as inhuman.

    He told the BBC that he hoped the city’s actions would act as an “electric shock” and lead to reform of Europe’s migration policies.

    Earlier, Mr Macron accused Italy of “irresponsibility” for turning the Aquarius away.

    Migration reform is likely to be a key topic at a meeting of EU leaders later this month, as many countries continue to grapple with the political fallout caused by an influx of migrants in recent years.

  148. Saad says

    The good progressive Pope Francis: Abortion to avoid birth defects is similar to Nazi crimes

    “I have heard that it’s fashionable, or at least usual, that when in the first months of pregnancy they do studies to see if the child is healthy or has something, the first offer is: let’s send it away,” Pope Francis was reported as saying.

    “I say this with pain. In the last century the whole world was scandalized about what the Nazis did to purify the race. Today we do the same, but now with white gloves.”

  149. says

    Fascinating but unsurprising. Rep. Adam Schiff says it’s the first he’s heard of the ‘good FBI agents’ immediately leaking news of the Anthony Weiner laptop to Rep. Devin Nunes.” [video at the link]

    The last sentence makes it pretty clear that he’s certain this is something the IG is investigating. It appears this came up in the briefings on the report, which is what prompted Nunes and Giuliani to start talking about the “good FBI agents” of the NY field office to try to get out ahead of it and preemptively spin it (“whistleblowers”).

  150. says

    Josh Marshall:

    Schiff says FBI leaks to Rudes are subject of forthcoming report. I’m skeptical. It sounds like IG is restricting this to tightly constrained probes of leaks rather than broader look at how anti-Clinton bias at NY field office shaped probe and leaks.

    That is a stark contrast to just released report which focused overwhelmingly on prospect of anti-Trump bias, although, to his great credit, he largely concluded it did not exist. This is a major difference.

    Perhaps the IG will surprise us. Seems doubtful.

    I’m more optimistic about this. I just have a sense that something is afoot, but I could well be mistaken.

  151. blf says

    You absolutely must not pay teachers, Oklahoma thug edition MMXVIII, Oklahoma teachers’ salary raise in limbo following historic win:

    Striking Oklahoma teachers, the worst paid in the US, won a historic pay rise in the spring. Now, conservative groups have targeted the tax hikes earmarked to pay them, and by November the cash could be gone, leaving schools and educators in limbo.

    In March, teacher salaries in Oklahoma were raised by an average of $6,100 a year, a raise paid for by a bill that raised taxes for cigarettes, cigars, motor and diesel fuel and the gross production of energy, and initially a $5-a-night hotel tax.

    [… A] petition now circulating among Oklahomans and backed by a group of conservative activists could defund the wage hikes, leave the state’s already crisis-racked school system scrabbling to find the funds to pay their teachers and has already triggered confusing calls for a stay of promised tax collection increases as the situation unfolds.


    The petition, to place a referendum on the November(?) ballet to cancel the tax increase, must turn in c.42000 signatures by July 18. The petition effort is apparently led by former Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn, who is one of those kooks adamantly opposed to any tax increases.

  152. blf says

    Some background: UK PM Theresa May has been going on for at least a year now about a “Midsland engine” — England’s Midlands area is economically depressed, and this so-called engine is a set of projects to tackle some of the problems. One of the larger manufactures in the Midlands (in Derby) is the aerocraft engine maker Rolls-Royce, who just announced they would be cutting c.3000 jobs (mostly management ?), mostly from Derby. With that background, the Grauniad’s Steve Bell on Brexit and job cuts (cartoon), or “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Brexit” as one reader’s comment put it.

    (Based on Rolls-Royce to cut 3,000 jobs in UK, it’s not entirely clear to what extent brexit is involved in these particular Rolls cuts, so pedantically Mr Bell may be conflating two different things. However, brexit certainly is an issue affecting Rolls in multiple ways.)

  153. says

    The Russian UK embassy has a very particular Twitter persona – smug, mocking,* machista, unserious, undignified, gleefully mean, proudly mendacious, disingenuously victim-playing, vaguely menacing. Arron Banks and the Leave gang appear, whether because working in concert with them or simply by osmosis, to have adopted the same basic persona.

    * (I mean, how dare they?)

  154. says

    Thread: “Hey @MichaelRCaputo You didn’t know the Russian guy before May right? Then why are your businesses registered in the same tiny little mailing service building in North Miami?…”

    Here’s how the WaPo article describes their meeting:

    By May 2016, Greenberg was in the midst of an eventually unsuccessful zoning fight to open a restaurant on the Miami River, according to public records. He showed up without an invitation at a gallery opening organized by Caputo’s public relations firm, according to Caputo’s business partner, Sergey “George” Petrushin.

    Greenberg approached Petrushin and invited him to check out the possible restaurant site the next day, Petrushin said. According to Petrushin, Greenberg eventually said that he knew Petrushin was partners with Caputo and that he had information he wanted to share that would be helpful to Trump’s campaign.

    (Caputo has a history of trying to scrub his Russian connections.)

  155. says

    Hend Amry:

    This is it. This is the time for loud, impassioned, fearless, nagging, persistent outrage. It feels like we have crossed so many red lines but intentional, irreparable damage and harm to children is a red line that can’t be ignored. Now or never.

    If it’s all futile anyway, then this is the hill we need to die on. When they begin tearing apart families, they are officially declaring war on society as we know it.

    I am not prone to hysterics. I do not get riled easily. This latest escalation and implementation of Trump’s vision for a new world order has left me stricken with a rising panic that I can’t talk down. And I’ve tried.

    If the bond of parent and child isn’t sacred, then nothing is sacred. No right is safe. No value is secure. No assurance is possible. No fear is exaggerated. No way you can look at this country the same way again, ever.

  156. says

    Once again, Kellyanne Conway is lying for Trump.

    The White House on Sunday continued to lie and evade about its new policy of splitting up migrant families at the border.

    White House adviser Kellyanne Conway on Sunday refused to admit a simple truth about the policy: President Donald Trump can immediately end it with a phone call.

    At the start of an interview with Conway, NBC “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd played a recording of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) saying just that: “President Trump could stop this policy with the phone call. […] If you don’t like families being separated, you can tell DHS: Stop doing it.”

    “Is the President ready to make that phone call to the attorney general, to DHS, to stop this policy?” Todd asked.

    “The President is ready to get meaningful immigration reform across the board,” Conway said, […]

    Like Trump, she laid the responsibility for the separation of families at the border — a new policy declared in an April memo from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and subsequently detailed in speeches by him early the next month — at the feet of congressional Democrats.

    “If people really cared about [migrant children], we would figure out a way to get the funding to expand the centers, and to close the loopholes. These loopholes are allowing open border policies. I think what the President is saying is that, if the Democrats are serious, they’ll come together, again, and try to close these loopholes and get real immigration reform.”

    Congress had nothing to do with instituting Sessions’ so-called “prosecution initiative.” The attorney general has ordered U.S. Attorneys to systematically pursue criminal charges against all migrant adults who cross the border in between designated ports of entry, including those who declare asylum. (Customs and Border Protection agents have reportedly told asylum-seekers at designated ports of entry, meanwhile, that they are at capacity.)

    Because children cannot be held in criminal detention, the Trump administration’s new policy has resulted in thousands of children being separated from their families in recent weeks. […]

    “I certainly don’t want anyone to use these kids as leverage,” she said. “I saw a headline that breathlessly screamed as much and I object to that very forcefully.”

    Todd noted the headline came from an Washington Post article that included an unnamed White House official who said “the thinking in the building is to force people to the table.” […]

    [Conway’s reply included an] astonishing attempt to blame Democrats for not bringing the issue up during a televised meeting between Trump and members of Congress in January, three months before the new policy was announced.

    “One hour! Did this issue come up?” she asked. “The Democrats only want to talk about DACA.”

    “Kids weren’t being separated from their parents then!” Todd said. “This policy [was] implemented in April!” […]

    She quickly changed the topic. “Look, the Democrats ought to just own it. Why don’t they say ‘We’re for open borders?’ But they have to be serious.” […]

    “Nobody likes this policy. You saw the President on camera that he wants this to end. But Congress has to act.”

    “He can end it on his own!” Todd objected.

    […] she refused to acknowledge the simple fact that the Trump administration has only recently insisted on separating families, and that the new policy could end today.

    […] “If the Democrats are serious, and if a lot of Republicans are serious, they’ll come together. They won’t just talk about, this week, the Dreamers, or just the wall, or just catch and release. It’s all of the above. There are ways to repatriate these families back to their home countries expeditiously.”

    Todd moved on, the White House having committed, essentially, to continuing the new policy for the foreseeable future.


  157. says

    This is really incredible. Aside from the question of why Leave, ostensibly advocating a specific policy for Britain related to its membership in the EU, would need to be pro-Putin in the first place, why have they so absorbed not only the Kremlin’s hostile line – astonishing enough in itself – but their whole style? It’s profoundly suspicious.

  158. says

    Sen. Feinstein: “UPDATE: 48 senators now support the Keep Families Together Act. We’re making progress, but we still need Republicans to join. If you’re represented by a Republican senator, tell them to support S.3036.

  159. says

    “FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress”:

    The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney said in a letter made public Sunday.

    Peter Strzok, who was singled out in a recent Justice Department inspector general report for the politically charged messages, would be willing to testify without immunity, and he would not invoke his Fifth Amendment rights in response to any question, his attorney, Aitan Goelman, said in an interview Sunday. Strzok has become a special target of President Trump, who has used the texts to question the Russia investigation.

    Goelman said Strzok “wants the chance to clear his name and tell his story.”

    “He thinks that his position, character and actions have all been misrepresented and caricatured, and he wants an opportunity to remedy that,” the lawyer said.

    If Strzok were to testify publicly, the hearing could be explosive, perhaps exposing new details about investigators’ thinking on some of the FBI’s most high-profile probes.

    Goelman said he had not discussed any dates with lawmakers on when Strzok might appear at a hearing. Politico reported that House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) had started the process to subpoena Strzok, though Goelman said that the lawmaker had done so without having asked whether Strzok might appear voluntarily.

    Goelman, who is with the firm Zuckerman Spaeder, wrote in a letter to Goodlatte that a subpoena would be “wholly unnecessary.”

    Goelman said that Strzok was not willing to use his official position to affect Trump’s chances of being elected and that “his political conviction that a Trump presidency would be disastrous for American national security is not based on his bias, it was based on information that was available to him, and his perspective on American national security.”

    He also disputed that Strzok took steps to protect Clinton,…

  160. says

    When I was maybe 4 or 5, I wandered off and got separated from my mother in a store. It was probably 15 minutes or half an hour until we were reunited, but I still remember the feeling of panic. A separation lasting minutes. Decades ago.

  161. says

    Steve Schmidt: “I’m grateful beyond words for my three healthy children who are the joy and loves of my life. But it has been a terrible Father’s Day because of the evil that is being done to children in the name of the people of the United States by this vile and venal cabal running the country.”

  162. nobonobo says

    So, the detained children attend school regularly. Seems like they are a literal captive audience for propagandists to convert to republicans. “The liberals did this to your family!”

  163. says

    Follow-up to SC @315, I was glad to see that Michael Avenatti said that he was entering the fight, “in a big way,” to protect children detained at the border and to reunite them with their families. He made the announcement on AM Joy, and again in other venues.


    Attorney Michael Avenatti blasted Senior Advisor Stephen Miller for having “sold” President Donald Trump on his “fascist” immigration policy that has separated thousands of children from their parents at the border.

    The lawyer representing pornstar Stormy Daniels took to Twitter Sunday to offer his representation of any parent who was separated from their child at the U.S. border. Avenatti tweeted out the Spanish word “Basta,” meaning roughly “enough” or “stop it” in English, as he ridiculed Miller’s callous and self-congratulating defense of Donald Trump’s immigration policy in a New York Times report. […]

    Avenatti suggested that parents who need his services should direct message him on his Twitter account. He has resources (money and people) dedicated to the fight.

  164. says

    From Laura Bush:

    […] I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero-tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.

    Our government should not be in the business of warehousing children in converted box stores or making plans to place them in tent cities in the desert outside of El Paso. These images are eerily reminiscent of the Japanese American internment camps of World War II, now considered to have been one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history. We also know that this treatment inflicts trauma; interned Japanese have been two times as likely to suffer cardiovascular disease or die prematurely than those who were not interned.

    Americans pride ourselves on being a moral nation. […] If we are truly that country, then it is our obligation to reunite these detained children with their parents — and to stop separating parents and children in the first place. […]

    In 2018, can we not as a nation find a kinder, more compassionate and more moral answer to this current crisis? I, for one, believe we can.

    Full text of the op-ed by Laura Bush is available at the Washington Post.

  165. says

    From Walter Shaub, former federal ethics chief:

    Dry your eyes and focus. Your problems are nothing compared to the problems you’re creating for the terrified children you’re ripping from the arms of desperate parents at the border. This is monstrous. Stop it. Stop it now!

    Shaub was responding to Trump’s whining about Peter Strzok and the FBI.

  166. says

    “U.N. Rights Chief Tells U.S. to Stop Taking Migrant Children From Parents”:

    The United Nations’ top human rights official on Monday entered the mounting furor over the Trump administration’s policy of separating undocumented immigrant children from their parents, calling for an immediate halt to a practice he condemned as abuse.

    United States immigration authorities have detained almost 2,000 children in the past six weeks, which may cause them irreparable harm with lifelong consequences, said Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights.

    He cited anobservation by the president of the American Association of Pediatrics that locking the children up separately from their parents constituted “government-sanctioned child abuse.”

    “The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable,” Mr. al-Hussein said.

    Opening the last session of the Human Rights Council before he steps down in August, he voiced deepening concern about a threat to global stability posed by the nationalist agendas of “self-serving, callous leaders.” Mr. al-Hussein warned that “the more pronounced their sense of self-importance, the more they glory in nationalism, the more unvarnished is the assault on the overall common good — on universal rights, on universal law and universal institutions, such as this one.”

    The escalating attack on the multilateral system and its rules, he said, would only increase the risk “of further mischief on a grander scale.”

    The high commissioner’s final overview of human rights around the world after four years in office earned a standing ovation from a packed council chamber.

  167. says

    “Who Is Behind Trump’s Links to Arab Princes? A Billionaire Friend”:

    …During the Trump campaign, Mr. Barrack was a top fund-raiser and trusted gatekeeper who opened communications with the Emiratis and Saudis, recommended that the candidate bring on Paul Manafort as campaign manager — and then tried to arrange a secret meeting between Mr. Manafort and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia. Mr. Barrack was later named chairman of Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee.

    But Mr. Manafort has since been indicted by the special prosecutor investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election. The same inquiry is examining whether the Emiratis and Saudis helped sway the election in Mr. Trump’s favor — potentially in coordination with the Russians, according to people familiar with the matter. Investigators have also asked witnesses about specific contributions and expenses related to the inauguration, according to people familiar with those interviews.

    Mr. Barrack’s email correspondence with Ambassador [from the UAE to the US] Otaiba, which has not previously been reported, was provided to The New York Times by an anonymous group critical of Emirati foreign policy, and it illustrates the formative role Mr. Barrack played as a matchmaker between Mr. Trump and the Persian Gulf princes.

    Mr. Barrack’s closeness to Mr. Trump extends to the president’s family. By 2010, he had acquired $70 million of the debt owed by Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, on his troubled $1.8 billion purchase of a skyscraper at 666 Fifth Avenue in New York. After a call from Mr. Trump, Mr. Barrack was among a group of lenders who agreed to reduce Mr. Kushner’s obligations to keep him out of bankruptcy.

    A month after his first outreach to Ambassador Otaiba, Mr. Barrack wrote again on May 26 to introduce Mr. Kushner, who was preparing for a role as a presidential envoy to the Middle East.

    “You will love him and he agrees with our agenda!” Mr. Barrack promised in another email.

    Mr. Barrack’s efforts began to pay off. Mr. Kushner met Ambassador Otaiba in May 2016. Soon after, Mr. Barrack and Ambassador Otaiba began working to arrange a secret meeting between Mr. Manafort, who became Mr. Trump’s campaign manager that June, and Deputy Crown Prince* Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, the dominant adviser to his father, King Salman.

    Mr. Barrack also pitched Mr. Manafort on the value of the Emirati connection.

    “Paul is totally programmed on the closeness and alignment of the U.A.E.” and agreed to meet Prince Mohammed “because he is a friend of your boss and the U.A.E.,” Mr. Barrack wrote.

    The emails show that the meeting was scheduled for June 24, and that Mr. Manafort sought to meet at the prince’s hotel to avoid the news media. But a spokesman for Mr. Barrack said that Mr. Manafort had canceled at the last minute for scheduling reasons.

    Regardless, Mr. Barrack’s advocacy apparently proved effective. The day after the meeting was scheduled, Mr. Barrack forwarded to the ambassador a message from Mr. Manafort with a “clarification” that modulated Mr. Trump’s call for a Muslim ban.

    A few weeks later, on July 13, Mr. Barrack informed Ambassador Otaiba that the Trump team had also removed a proposed Republican platform provision inserted to “embarrass” Saudi Arabia. The provision had called for the release of redacted pages about the kingdom in a report on the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    When Mr. Trump won in November, Ambassador Otaiba was eager to pull Mr. Barrack even closer. “We have a lot of things that we will have to do together. Together being the operative word,” he wrote in a note congratulating Mr. Barrack on Mr. Trump’s upset victory.

    “Let’s do them together,” Mr. Barrack responded….

    Much more at the link.

    * “Deputy Crown Prince” is an amusing title.

  168. says

    “Kim Jong Un More Popular Than Pelosi Among Republicans: Exclusive Poll Results”:

    Self-identified Republicans now have a marginally more favorable view of Kim Jong Un than they do for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), according to a new Ipsos poll done exclusively for The Daily Beast.

    The poll of roughly 1,000 adults aged 18 and over was conducted June 14-15, shortly after President Trump’s historic summit with the North Korea dictator. According to the results, 19 percent of Republicans indicated they had a favorable view of Kim with 68 percent saying they had an unfavorable view (12 percent of voters overall had a favorable view of Kim, compared to 75 percent who viewed him unfavorably). That compared slightly better than the perception of Pelosi, who had a 17 percent favorable, 72 percent unfavorable rating among self-identified Republicans….

  169. blf says

    For the last year, as reported-on occasionally in this series of poopyhead threads, Amnesty International’s (AI) Turkish head, and others, have been jailed and are being tried on absurd charges. There is a recent development which is encouraging, No evidence again Amnesty’s jailed Turkey head, police conclude:

    Turkey’s Amnesty chair, Taner Kılıç, could be freed this week following a year in detention after a police report conceded there was no evidence to back up the chief basis of the charges against him.


    The newly submitted 15-page police report presents no evidence to show that Kılıç ever had the encrypted mobile messaging app ByLock on his phone, which Turkish authorities claim is used by followers of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gülen. The prosecution alleged that the presence of the app was sufficient grounds to charge him with terrorist offences last June.


    The presence of ByLock on a phone has been used by the Turkish authorities repeatedly as evidence to prove[] that the owner was part of a secret network of Gülenists accused of masterminding a failed coup against the Turkish state two years ago. Tens of thousands have lost their jobs or been imprisoned on allegations of being a Gülenist in the past two years.


    Kılıç was detained on 6 June last year and sent to jail three days later. Ten other activists, including İdil Eser, Amnesty Turkey’s director, were detained a month later. Eight of them were held for almost four months before being released on bail at their first hearing in October.

    In December, the Turkish authorities admitted that thousands of people had been wrongly accused of downloading ByLock. They published lists containing the numbers of 11,480 mobile phone users, leading to mass releases. Kılıç was not yet among those listed for release.

      † The addition of eejit quotes is mine, …prove was not quoted in any manner in the original. Shame on the Grauniad for failing to indicate the highly-dubious nature of such evidence, however obvious that dubiousness is !

  170. blf says

    Trigger Warning: Some very crude racism, including use of the n– word.


    The outrageous racism that ‘graced’ Arab TV screens in Ramadan (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    Like in the past, this year’s Ramadan series featured scenes of vulgar racism against Afro/black Arabs.

    During the holy month of Ramadan, Muslims are meant to abstain from food, drinks, smoking, sexual activity and offensive language. Understandably, during this month, TV broadcasters across the Arab world tend to tone down programming and promote more family-friendly content.

    Yet year after year, racist mockery and derogatory language against Afro/black Arabs and black African migrants make it to the TV screens of millions of Arab families gathered to enjoy TV series produced especially for Ramadan.

    This year’s Ramadan TV content failed to “disappoint” in this regard.

    The Egyptian comedy series “Azmi we Ashgan” (Azmi and Ashgan) […] featured the lead actors donning blackface repeatedly throughout the series, as well as the use of racist language (including the use of the n– word) and the portrayal of black people as servants who speak in broken Arabic and practise sorcery.

    The Kuwaiti comedy series “Block Ghashmara” (The block of jokes), on the other hand, dedicated a whole episode to actors in blackface portraying Sudanese people as lazy and cynical.

    Despite the outrage on social media, the film crews behind the TV series defended themselves.

    Ahmed Mohy, the scriptwriter of “Azmi we Ashgan,” downplayed the racial slurs in his show, said on Twitter that {the team} do not aim at insulting part of the Egyptian people, because we are all one people.


    Did someone burn this apartment before or what? — laugh three of the characters in the 2005 Egyptian film, Eyal Habiba (Habiba’s children), as they look at a wall of family photos in the apartment of a Sudanese man (played by an Arab in blackface).

    These are just a few examples of anti-black racist language which has dominated Arab cinema for decades. The industry continues to inject its popular drama series, movies and talk shows with a despicable amount of racism to create undignified images of Afro/black-Arabs and black African migrants.


    Even black children have fallen victim to this racial mockery. In the 2003 Egyptian comedy, Elly Baly Balak (My thoughts are your thoughts), the protagonist addresses his wife after mistaking a black maid’s child for his own, saying You are white and I am white, how could we have this bar of dates as a child?

    It is apparent that the Arab cinema industry has no qualms about practising Arab-washing, following in the footsteps of Hollywood and its penchant for whitewashing stories and characters.


    Despite the persistence of this negative portrayal of black people and the perpetuation of racial stereotypes against them, there is almost no public debate about it within the wider Arab society. On the contrary, there is a popular outright denial that racist attitudes against black people exist.

    [… The] enduring legacy of the history of slavery in the region […] is still seen as a taboo subject and when raised, Arabs often try to deflect it by talking about Bilal Ibn Rabah, a black slave who Prophet Mohammed freed and who became the first muezzin (the person who calls to prayer). This episode of Islamic history is brandished as proof [] of the existence of egalitarian and inclusive Islamic society in which there wasn’t and isn’t any discrimination based on race.


    Slavery in Arab countries was abolished completely by 1970 (with the exception of Mauritania, which did so in 1981 [sic‡]). While not all dark-skinned people in the region are descendants of slaves and not all slaves were black, people with darker skin are stigmatised and, by default, considered to have such background, regardless of how they self-identify.


    The most populous Arab countries are in the African content and black Arabs have been a part of non-black Arab society since the early Muslim conquest of the region. But there is a staggering contempt for everything that is African or black.

    Naturally, any industry, such as cinema, that is dominated by non-black Arabs would reflect this sentiment and fail to embrace the racial diversity of the Middle East and North Africa.

    This has negatively affected many young black people who struggle to find positive role models, as they remain largely unrepresented in mainstream media. The social stigma has pushed some of them to disassociate themselves from their black identity. Some deny their African heritage, participate in intra-racial racism, strive to assimilate and even attempt to change the colour of their skin through skin-bleaching.


      † As in @330, the added eejit quotes are mine, only this time it is Al Jazeera who omitted the marker. (Admittedly, in this case, the article is an opinion piece by Hana Al-Khamri, an independent “writer and analyst based in Sweden. She used to work as a journalist in Saudi Arabia. She is also the author of the upcoming book Female Journalists in Gender-Apartheid Saudi Arabia.”)

      ‡ Oh fer feck’s sake ! Mauritania has repeatedly “officially” abolished slavery, most recently in 2007(!), but there still a large number of heredity chattel slaves (estimates vary widely, from c.2% of the population to c.20%). Technically, the 2007 law was to make it illegal to own slaves, with slavery itself (last-)abolished in, as said, 1981. This is a distinction without any practical difference, especially since “Mauritanian laws, which place the burden of proof on the slave, require that a victim file a complaint before an investigation is launched, and that human rights organisations may not file a case on behalf of a victim, despite the fact that most slaves are illiterate.”

    A recent photo-essay on current-day chattel slavery in Mauritania, The unspeakable truth about slavery in Mauritania (Trigger Warning: Extremely disturbing photographs and captions / text): “For all the government’s denials, slavery persists in Mauritania. In a rare insight into the lives of the tens of thousands of people affected, photojournalist Seif Kousmate spent a month photographing and interviewing current and former slaves. While there, he was arrested and imprisoned by police, who confiscated his memory cards, phone and laptop”.

  171. says

    Trump team cannot get its story straight on separating migrant families

    […] “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border,” Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen tweeted last night. “Period.”

    This formulation is striking because President Trump’s top domestic policy adviser, Stephen Miller, was quoted in Sunday’s New York Times touting the crackdown. “It was a simple decision by the administration to have a zero tolerance policy for illegal entry,” he said. “Period.”

    […] around 2,000 children have been taken from their families during the six weeks since the policy went into effect, and officials acknowledge the number may be even higher.

    […] members of the administration continue to struggle with how to talk about it – alternating between defending the initiative as a necessary deterrent, distancing themselves, blaming Democrats, trying to use it as leverage for negotiations with Congress or denying that it exists at all. […]

    “Nobody likes seeing babies ripped from their mothers’ arms,” said Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “As a mother, as a Catholic, as somebody who has got a conscience… I will tell you that nobody likes this policy.” Then she blamed the legislative branch. “Congress passed a law that it is a crime,” Conway said. “This is a congressional law from many years ago. It is a crime to enter this country illegally. So if they don’t like that law, they should change it.”

    […] Rudy Giuliani said that Sessions is “not giving the president the best advice” on how to handle this situation. “I know President Trump doesn’t like the children taken away from their parents,” he said. “Jeff is not giving the president the best advice!” […]

    “I don’t think you have to justify it,” countered former chief White House strategist Stephen K. Bannon […] “We have a crisis on the southern border. … They are criminals when they come here illegally. … He has a zero-tolerance situation. He has drawn a line in the sand. I don’t think he’s going to back off from it.”

    […] “I hate the children being taken away,” Trump insisted Friday on the White House lawn. “The Democrats have to change their law. That’s their law.”

    […] nonpartisan fact checkers agree that the recent surge in separations is the result of Trump’s order. He signed off on prosecuting all migrants who cross the border, including those with young children. Once they’re locked up, the administration declares the kids to be unaccompanied minors and turns them over to a division of the Department of Health and Human Services to care for. The White House has also begun interpreting a 1997 legal agreement and a 2008 bipartisan human trafficking bill as requiring the separation of families. Neither George W. Bush or Barack Obama took this posture. […]

    “Senior Trump strategists” told my colleagues […] that Trump believes he can use these kids as bargaining chips to force Democrats to negotiate a broader deal, which might include money for the border wall he desperately wants and reductions in the number of legal immigrants who are allowed into the United States. […]

    — What’s undeniable at this point is that the separations have created both escalating humanitarian and political problems for the president. Period. […]

    – Our Sean Sullivan got a brief tour of one facility in McAllen, Tex., on Sunday: “They divided the young children who had been separated from their parents, placing 20 or more in a concrete-floor cage and providing foil blankets, thin mattress pads, bottled water and food. The migrant children, some confused or expressionless, […] Detainees are being kept in bare-bones cells surrounded by tall metal fencing inside a sprawling facility with high ceilings. […]

    More at the Washington Post link.

  172. says

    An update from Steve Benen:

    […] West Virginia’s Joe Manchin signed on as a co-sponsor. That means literally every member of the Senate Democratic conference supports the “Keep Families Together Act.”

    No Republican senators have endorsed the legislation, nor have they proposed legislation of their own that would keep families together.

    The bill from Democrats is fairly narrow:

    The bill would only allow undocumented children to be separated from their parents if there is evidence of parents abusing the children or children being trafficked. Separation could only happen after consultation with a child welfare expert.

    If Republicans didn’t control Congress, Democrats could erase the Trump-Sessions bad policy. If Democrats gave Trump everything he wanted, (including $25 billion to build a wall and significant reductions in legal immigration, etc.), then maybe Trump would stop separating children from their parents.

  173. says

    Trump lied about crime rates in Germany. He told the lie as part of his effort to foster anti-immigrant tactics that violate international human rights laws.

    […] “It’s difficult to overstate just how enraged Germany is about Trump. […]

    Just last week in Berlin, Heiko Maas, Germany’s foreign minister, delivered a rather brutal speech in which he declared, “Donald Trump’s egotistical politics of ‘America First,’ Russia’s attacks on international law and state sovereignty, the expansion of gigantic China: the world order we were used to — it no longer exists.”

    [Trump] bragged about his “great relationship” with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, only to take his message to Germany in a more contentious direction this morning.

    “The people of Germany are turning against their leadership as migration is rocking the already tenuous Berlin coalition. Crime in Germany is way up. Big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!

    “We don’t want what is happening with immigration in Europe to happen with us!” […]

    First, the Republican president is simply lying about crime rates in Germany. Instead of being “way up,” they’ve actually dropped to their lowest points since the early 1990s. Why did Trump say the opposite? […] (Trump lying about crime rates, especially in urban areas and areas with a lot of immigrants, is one of his favorite things to lie about.)

    […] when conservative reactionaries start talking about immigrants “violently changing” the “culture” of a predominantly white country, the racist subtext is hard to miss. […]

    Trump published a dishonest and racially charged political attack against an ostensible ally this morning – making a bad situation, which he created, quite a bit worse.


  174. says

    A recap of the contradictory messages coming from team Trump:

    […] Donald Trump: Everyone should blame Democrats for the policy.

    Stephen Miller: Actually, we love the policy.

    Jeff Sessions: Not only do we support the policy, but the Bible justifies the policy.

    Melania Trump: It’d be nice if “both sides” got together to fix my husband’s policy.

    Kirstjen Nielsen: There’s a policy? […]


  175. says

    More WTF moments, courtesy of Hair Furor:

    The United States will not be a migrant camp and it will not be a refugee holding facility. It won’t be. You look at what’s happening in Europe, you look at what’s happening in other places, we can’t allow that to happen to the United States. Not on my watch.

    Democrats are being obstructionists. […] Problems that we’re having are Democrats’ fault.

  176. says

    More WTF moments, courtesy of Attorney General Jeff Sessions:

    We do not want to separate children from their parents. We do not want adults to bring children into this country unlawfully, either.

    He’d earlier admitted that the policy — in addition to prioritizing the criminal prosecution of parents who for the most part have committed only misdemeanors — was also meant to act as a deterrent.

    We cannot and will not encourage people to bring their children, or other children, to the country unlawfully by giving them immunity in the process.

    Sessions was speaking at the National Sheriffs Association meeting. He also asserted that families claiming asylum at designated ports of entry, rather than between them, would not be separated, which is bullshit. They are finding ways to separate even asylum seekers from their children.


    Officials at official port-of-entry points have been telling asylum seekers that the port is “at capacity.” The officials don’t let the asylum seekers in. This leaves parents with children, and other asylum seekers, waiting in no-man’s land for days in the hot sun. Eventually, they try to enter elsewhere and then they are arrested, charged with a misdemeanor, and their children are taken from them.

    Sessions also claimed that children are held in detention for no longer than 72 hours. That is also bullshit, as many reports have shown.

  177. says

    Brief notes of other WTF moments from Hair Furor and his supporters:

    Trump announced he’s directing the Pentagon to create a ‘space force’ as an independent service branch.

    Fox News hosts defended caging children, saying that team Trump merely “built walls out of chain-link fences”; and Fox News host Pete Hegseth compared his deployment in the military to children being separated from their parents for months.

    From CBS This Morning:

    This just in from @davidbegnaud: Border Patrol has reached out to @cbsthismorning and said they are “very uncomfortable” with the use of the word cages. They say it’s not inaccurate and added that they may be cages but people are not being treated like animals.

  178. says

    From Chris Jansing:

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen – in the latest explanation for parents being separated from families – claims migrants are “posing as families”… and on asylum: “Our generosity is being abused”

  179. says

    Kirstjen Nielsen’s actual words, as delivered at the National Sheriffs’ Association meeting:

    This administration has a simple message: If you cross the border illegally, we will prosecute you. If you make a false immigration claim, we will prosecute you. If you smuggle illegal aliens across an extraordinarily dangerous journey, we will prosecute you.

    But I have also made clear you do not need to break the law of this country by entering illegally to claim asylum. If you are seeking asylum, go to a port of entry.

    Let’s be honest, there’s some who would like to us look the other way when dealing with families at the border and not enforce the law passed by Congress, including, unfortunately, some members of Congress […] Past administrations may have done so, but we will not. We do not have the luxury of pretending that all individuals coming to this country as a family unit are, in fact, a family. We have to do our job. We will not apologize for doing our job. We have sworn to do this job.

    From Wonkette:

    […] There is, as we mention every goddamned time, no goddamned law requiring family separation. Also, notice how she sneaks in the justification for taking away children of asylum seekers — maybe they’re lying about being related […].

  180. says

    From Aaron Blake, writing for the Washington Post:

    […] the Department of Homeland Security secretary seems to be willing to say just about anything to get back on the president’s good side.

    Behind the scenes, Nielsen is reportedly fighting Trump’s decision to separate migrant children from parents who cross the U.S. border. But on Sunday night, she took to Twitter to offer some pretty remarkable spin by arguing that no such policy exists.

    “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border,” she said. “Period.” […]

    One could make the case that this is technically true. It’s also wholly dishonest.

    While no specific policy says children must be taken from their families, the Trump administration has decided to interpret the law to put those who cross the border illegally in jail regardless of whether they bring children — and children cannot be placed in jail. The inescapable upshot of that is that the children must be separated from their families in a way they simply weren’t in the past two administrations. […]

  181. says

    From Jonathan Blitzer, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] Emily Kephart […] set out to try to find a six-year-old Guatemalan girl who had been separated from her father after arriving in the United States, in May. The pair had been split up as a consequence of the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance policy at the border, which calls for the criminal prosecution of all migrants, including asylum seekers, who cross the border without turning themselves in to officials at so-called ports of entry. Now the father was in an immigration-detention facility in Arizona, awaiting deportation. He had no idea where his child was. Kephart was put on the case after the father called his family, back in a small town outside of Huehuetenango City, in Guatemala’s western highlands, and his family, in turn, contacted a local nonprofit that works with Kids in Need of Defense.

    Every undocumented immigrant who enters government custody is assigned what’s called an alien number. But the girl’s family didn’t know hers. Armed with only the girl’s name and birth date, Kephart dialed a 1-800 hotline set up by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (O.R.R.), the federal body in charge of handling unaccompanied immigrant children. This hotline, Kephart told me, is difficult to access for parents who are in a detention facility (hold times can last half an hour; it’s impossible to leave a call-back number) or who have been deported (international calls are expensive, and 1-800 numbers don’t often work from abroad).

    “We hit a dead end,” Kephart said. “The person I spoke with just made a note in the file of the girl they thought it might be. But we didn’t get confirmation that we were talking about the same child. They were looking at the record of someone whose first name was spelled differently, and whose date of birth was a month off.”

    […] No protocols have been put in place for keeping track of parents and children concurrently, for keeping parents and children in contact with each other while they are separated, or for eventually reuniting them. Immigration lawyers, public defenders, and advocates along the border have been trying to fill the void. […]

  182. says

    BREAKING. #Italy Interior minister and LEAGUE leader Salvini: ‘I’ve asked for a census of the Roma community living in Italy. The irregular ones will be deported. However, we’ll have to keep’ in Italy ‘the Romas with Italian citizenship, unfortunately’ (ANSA agency)”

  183. says

    Horowitz is now making an opening statement at the Senate Judiciary Committee. Wray presumably will do the same, and then questions will begin. It’s on C-SPAN.

  184. says

    Feinstein is asking Horowitz about the leaks to Giuliani. He’s saying he can’t speak to it because he’s following policy, plainly alludes to it being an ongoing investigation.

  185. says

    Good statement from Sen. Leahy.

    Now he just asked Wray and Horowitz about whether Comey was telling the truth when he said there was an internal investigation into the leaks to Giuliani and Nunes from the NY field office. Neither will answer one way or the other about a possible ongoing investigation. It doesn’t really make sense, actually, because this report was supposed to deal with all aspects of the handling of the Clinton email investigation, and it doesn’t deal with this one, and they’re saying the work is ongoing but can’t confirm that it’s something they’re investigating. They’d better be investigating it, because it’s obviously an important aspect of their investigation. So I’m confused about what’s going on.

  186. says

    This whole thing about not being able to determine that the decision to focus on the Russia investigation rather than the fucking Weiner laptop* in October of 2016 wasn’t biased is idiotic. Of course the Russia investigation was more important and more urgent than the stupid email thing.

    * Which in the end totally worked against Clinton.

  187. says

    Josh Marshall:

    I would suggest great skepticism of what appears to be the IG’s suggestion that Rudes leaks are still being examined. Tack seems to be to leave these to discrete and narrow looks at unauthorized disclosure as opposed to a pattern of bias/wrongdoing driving forward Midyear probe.

    I’m starting to share this skepticism. Horowitz’s answers seem to keep coming back to general questions about leaks, leaks to the media, etc. He hasn’t said anything about bias or explained why such a significant matter wasn’t included in this report.

  188. says

    (Especially because this report includes strong evidence of animus towards Clinton that was driving some agents’ actions and in turn possibly pushing Comey toward his terrible decision in October.)

  189. says

    “House Intel Dem Slams Chairman Nunes As Trump’s ‘Fixer In Congress’”:

    A House Intelligence Committee Democrat is lashing out at the panel’s chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), following reports that Nunes withheld sensitive information from his Democratic colleagues in the run-up to the 2016 election.

    Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) on Monday labeled Nunes “the President’s fixer in Congress.”

    The harsh condemnation comes days after the California Republican divulged that “the House Intelligence Committee” received a September 2016 tip from FBI agents regarding the discovery of a new trove of emails related to the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server. Nunes apparently never shared this information with top Democrats on his own panel.

    “From the moment that FBI Director James Comey told the House Intelligence Committee in March 2017 that a criminal and counterintelligence investigation of Trump-Russia collusion was under way, Devin Nunes has worked as the President’s fixer in Congress rather than lead a bipartisan effort to protect our democracy,” Swalwell said in a statement to TPM.

    “There’s plenty of cause for concern that anything he hears or sees goes right to the President, essentially turning over the keys to the FBI’s evidence locker to a subject of an investigation.”…

  190. says

    Blumenthal is asking about the leaks to Giuliani and Nunes. Wray says they’ll take action against leakers and “I don’t care what the motivation is, how altruistic.” WTF? He’s asking about leaks intended to damage a presidential candidate for political motives. A) That’s not an altruistic motive; and B) the question is a larger one about political bias.

  191. says

    “Listen to Children Who’ve Just Been Separated From Their Parents at the Border”:

    The desperate sobbing of 10 Central American children, separated from their parents one day last week by immigration authorities at the border, makes for excruciating listening. Many of them sound like they’re crying so hard, they can barely breathe. They scream “Mami” and “Papá” over and over again, as if those are the only words they know.

    The baritone voice of a Border Patrol agent booms above the crying. “Well, we have an orchestra here,” he jokes. “What’s missing is a conductor.”

    Then a distraught but determined 6-year-old Salvadoran girl pleads repeatedly for someone to call her aunt. Just one call, she begs anyone who will listen. She says she’s memorized the phone number, and at one point, rattles it off to a consular representative. “My mommy says that I’ll go with my aunt,” she whimpers, “and that she’ll come to pick me up there as quickly as possible.”

    An audio recording obtained by ProPublica adds real-life sounds of suffering to a contentious policy debate that has so far been short on input from those with the most at stake: immigrant children. More than 2,300 of them have been separated from their parents since April, when the Trump administration launched its “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which calls for prosecuting all people who attempt to illegally enter the country and taking away the children they brought with them. More than 100 of those children are under the age of 4. The children are initially held in warehouses, tents or big box stores that have been converted into Border Patrol detention facilities.

    …It was recorded last week inside a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility. The person who made the recording asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation. That person gave the audio to Jennifer Harbury, a well-known civil rights attorney who has lived and worked for four decades in the Rio Grande Valley along the Texas border with Mexico. Harbury provided it to ProPublica. She said the person who recorded it was a client who “heard the children’s weeping and crying, and was devastated by it.”

    The person estimated that the children on the recording are between 4 and 10 years old. It appeared that they had been at the detention center for less than 24 hours, so their distress at having been separated from their parents was still raw. Consulate officials tried to comfort them with snacks and toys. But the children were inconsolable.

    The child who stood out the most was the 6-year-old Salvadoran girl with a phone number stuck in her head. At the end of the audio, a consular official offers to call the girl’s aunt. ProPublica dialed the number she recited in the audio, and spoke with the aunt about the call.

    “It was the hardest moment in my life,” she said. “Imagine getting a call from your 6-year-old niece. She’s crying and begging me to go get her. She says, ‘I promise I’ll behave, but please get me out of here. I’m all alone.’”

    The aunt said what made the call even more painful was that there was nothing she could do….

    The aunt said she worried that any attempt to intervene in her niece’s situation would put hers and her daughter’s asylum case at risk, particularly since the Trump administration overturned asylum protections for victims of gang and domestic violence. She said she’s managed to speak to her sister, who has been moved to an immigration detention facility near Port Isabel, Texas. And she keeps in touch with her niece, Alison Jimena Valencia Madrid, by telephone. Mother and daughter, however, have not been able to speak to one another.

    The aunt said that Alison has been moved out of the Border Patrol facility to a shelter where she has a real bed. But she said that authorities at the shelter have warned the girl that her mother, 29-year-old Cindy Madrid, might be deported without her.

    “I know she’s not an American citizen,” the aunt said of her niece. “But she’s a human being. She’s a child. How can they treat her this way?”

    (Audio at the link.)

  192. says

    “Yoder calls on Sessions to end separations of children and parents at border”:

    Rep. Kevin Yoder, who chairs a House committee that guides spending on immigration enforcement, is calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to halt the separation of families at the southern border.

    “As the son of a social worker, I know the human trauma that comes with children being separated from their parents. It takes a lasting, and sometimes even irreversible toll on the child’s well being,” Yoder said. “That’s why I’m demanding that Attorney General Sessions halt the practice of family separation at the border immediately as Congress works toward legislative solutions.”

    Other members of Kansas’ all-Republican congressional delegation expressed discomfort with the practice, but no one else has called on President Donald Trump or Sessions to end the practice.

    Some offered tacit support for the separations amid gathering outrage over the treatment of the children.

    Among Kansas lawmakers, Yoder wields the most power over immigration policy. He chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee on Homeland Security, an appointment announced just last month.

    If additional funding is ultimately needed for expanded detention centers — or possibly tent cities — to hold immigrants, those requests will go through Yoder’s committee.

    “Separating children from their families at the border is a policy many of my constituents and the American people in both political parties oppose. As Congress pursues legislation to address this issue this week, an interim solution is needed. I ask that you take immediate action to end the practice of separating children from families at the border,” Yoder said in a letter to Sessions his office provided to The Eagle….

  193. blf says

    Civilians in the States, with c.4% of the world’s population, own c.40% of the world’s guns, Civilians own 85% of world’s 1bn firearms, survey reveals:

    In a detailed report, weapons watchdog the Small Arms Survey has researched the numbers of guns across 230 countries.

    Examining the ownership of revolvers and self-loading pistols, rifles, carbines, assault rifles and sub- and light machine guns, held by civilian, military and law-enforcement groups, their latest report shows there are now estimated to be more than 1bn firearms in the world — an increase of 17% over the past 10 years.

    The majority of the arms, 85% (857m), are estimated to be held by civilians (including individuals, private security firms, non-state armed groups and gangs); while law enforcement agencies own 2% (23m) and military stockpiles account for 13% (133m).

    In comparison, the Small Arms Survey 2007 report found there were 875m combined civilian, law enforcement and military firearms in the world, of which 650m were in civilian hands, a rise of 32% since 2007.

    The United States has just 4% of the world population, but the survey estimates that civilians in the US possess almost 40% of the world’s firearms — 393m weapons — equivalent to 121 firearms for every 100 residents. Americans topped the polls in 2007, owning 270m weapons, which translated into 90 weapons for every 100 residents.


    The Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report, published by the the US Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives states that US companies have manufactured more than 150m firearms since 1986, the majority of which were sold domestically.


    England and Wales are estimated to have 2.7m firearms in civilian ownership (an estimated 860,000 unregistered), which equates to 4.6 weapons per 100 residents. […]

    […] In contrast are Indonesia, Japan and Malawi, which hold less than one firearm for every 100 residents.


  194. blf says

    Heh. A joke I frequently make is about “long pigs sundrying themselves on the local beaches, smearing themselves with flavourings” — that is, people sunbathing on the beach, covering themselves in sunscreens / sunblocks. (I hasten to point out I am not making fun of the use of sunscreens / sunblocks, which is very very highly recommended ! Just snarking about sunbathing, which here in France can legally be done topless.) Anyways, it seems part of that joke / snark has a similar reality, at least in the States, Senator demands edible sunscreen be taken off shelves:

    Sunsafe RX is a product that promises to help protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. On its website, there are glowing user testimonials and photos of young, attractive people enjoying the weather. It’s the kind of marketing you might expect from a sunscreen brand, except that Sunsafe RX isn’t a cream or a spray — it’s a pill.

    It’s one of a number of products to be taken orally that make claims about protection from the sun — potentially heralding a new era when, instead of slathering yourself in lotion, you could swallow a pill and head to the beach.

    It sounds too good to be true. According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), as well as Chuck Schumer, that’s because it probably is.

    Last month, the FDA explicitly warned the public that these pills were “misleading consumers and putting people at risk” and named four companies, including Sunsafe RX, Advanced Skin Brightening Formula, Solaricare and Sunergetic, which “make unproven drug claims about protecting consumers from the harms that come from sun exposure without meeting the FDA’s standards for safety and effectiveness”. The FDA sent letters to each of the companies asking them to rethink the way the products are being marketed.

    The Democratic senator has demanded the FDA go further, asking that the products be pulled from shelves and online retailers. At a speech on Sunday, he said: “Sunscreen pills are a fraud … right now thousands and thousands of Americans are taking these pills and not putting on sunscreen. And they are endangering themselves.”

    Those worried about the ability of Sunsafe RX to prevent sunburn or skin cancer might head to the FAQ page on its website. There they would be assured that Sunsafe RX is not only effective but also completely safe and that all the ingredients in Sunsafe RX are recognized as safe and approved by the FDA for sale in the United States. The site does not mention that the FDA has explicitly said the pills are “putting people’s health at risk by giving consumers a false sense of security that a dietary supplement could prevent sunburn”.

    In a statement to the Guardian, the company said Sunsafe RX is made with ingredients that published clinical studies show protect skin from sun damage but that Sunsafe isn’t marketed as a sunscreen, and we certainly don’t tell consumers that they don’t need any other protection from the sun or that they don’t also need to use a topical sunscreen.

    On Sunsafe’s website, however, the company strikes a different tone. The site has a specific page about traditional sunscreen suggesting that sunscreen is ineffective and damaging compared with the oral products it is marketing. […]

    The local sundrying long pigs slather themselves with the flavourings, rather than drinking the flavourings.

    And I note RX (or Rx or ℞) is an abbreviation for medical prescription — the quacks are implying, if perhaps not explicitly saying, their gunk is medically-valid / -approved.

    (The Gruaniad is inconsistent in its spelling —Sunsafe RX or Sunsafe Rx — I’ve edited the above excerpt to try and consistently use the former.)

  195. says

    “BREAKING: Kobach Loses Voter Registration Proof Of Citizenship Case”:

    A federal judge on Monday ruled that Kansas’ proof of citizenship voter registration requirement was a violation of the Constitution as well as the National Voter Registration Act.

    U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson had in previous orders temporarily blocked the requirement, which was championed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Robinson on Monday handed down her final decision on the case, which went to trial earlier this year.

    Her 100-plus page opinion also knocked Kobach, who defended the law himself in court, for his “history of non-compliance with this Court’s orders,” and imposed “sanctions responsive to Defendant’s repeated and flagrant violations of discovery and disclosure rules.”…

  196. says

    NEW: U.S. Senate passes bipartisan bill 85-10 to reverse Trump policy on Chinese telecom company ZTE. Bill to goes to the House and would prohibit certain ZTE products from being used in the U.S.”

  197. tomh says

    Typical McCain, brave words, no action. Wake me when he signs on to Feinstein’s bill.

  198. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Hopefully a link will appear by morning, as Lawrence O’Donnell on the Last Word actually mentioned atheists could be and are revolted by Trump’s immigration policy of tearing families apart. I know this atheist is, without the need for religious teaching.

  199. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    Video: Last Word – 2018-06-18, Religious Leaders Call Donald Trump’s Family Separation What It Is, Sin (8:06 clip)

    Lawrence O’Donnell: To the people in our audience who are not religious, have no religion, to atheists… they can come to the conclusion that this is an immoral act without any religious guidance whatsoever. And morality can be found in certain positions without any religious guidance whatsoever or any religious belief. How do you feel when you hear politicians using religion to justify their choices?

    Lawrence O’Donnell: To the point of conscience being the voice of God. […] I think we all know – and I think we all grant – that atheists have consciences too, and for them it is not the voice of God. It is their own voice, their own conscience, their own learnings about the world, and their own morality that is telling them what this is when they see it.

  200. says

    “Donald Trump’s Deep State”:

    If you know the name Peter Strzok, ask yourself why and how.

    The how is easy: The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress have aired Strzok’s dirty laundry, including personal text messages he exchanged with his mistress, for months, to tarnish Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

    The why is a bit more complicated, but it gets at an asymmetry in American politics that is undermining the supposedly neutral institutions of government in profoundly damaging ways. It’s the same “why” that explains FBI Director James Comey’s decision to insert himself in the 2016 election, and it’s a why that will eventually turn the FBI into a partisan arm of the GOP if nothing is done to stop it.

    Wray has been FBI director for several months now, and since then, the evidence of New York field office meddling has only grown stronger, and yet the word “Giuliani” appears nowhere in the IG report. Last week, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes told Fox News that “good FBI agents” told him, too, about the potential reopening of the Clinton email investigation in late September—weeks before Comey announced it in a letter to Congress. There is no Republican other than Trump more taken with peddling “deep state” conspiracy theories than Devin Nunes, and here we catch a glimpse of why that is: Turning career security services professionals into partisan agents of the Republican Party is what he and others in the GOP want to do—indeed what they’ve already done—and so they project that same desire on to Democrats. In this warped telling Peter Strzok is the liberal “deep state” bogeyman.

    But Peter Strzok didn’t strategically leak to Democrats or the media anything that might have helped Clinton or hurt Trump. Strzok may have felt “deep and visceral hatred” for Trump, as his text messages suggest he did for many, many politicians, but as far as we can tell, he didn’t act based upon that animus. It was Nunes’s “good FBI agents” who did that. Strzok is a central character in the IG report, because if he weren’t, Trump and Nunes would attack the IG in bad faith as a participant in the deep state conspiracy to destroy Donald Trump. The “good FBI agents” get glossed over, and lumped in with other generic “leakers” for essentially the same reason. As in 2016, the Justice Department has allowed politics to shape its investigative conduct out of fear of bad-faith criticism from the right—and ever so slowly the effect is to make federal law enforcement the partisan tool Trump wants it to be. Partisan law enforcement already swung an election for him. But we don’t know their names, and it’s possible we never will.

  201. says

    Update to #362 – Trump will meet with Republican (so-called) legislators tomorrow about ZTE. No Democrats are invited, including Chris Van Hollen, the sponsor of the bill passed yesterday.

    “‘We’ve articulated our desire to better educate members about the ZTE action by Commerce, and we expect to address it in conference’, White House legislative liaison Marc Short said last week.” Incidentally, Short quit on Friday. He’ll be leaving in a few weeks. No reason given; no word about his replacement.

  202. says

    Mark Warner, yesterday: “Tonight the Senate passed our bipartisan amendment to block the Trump Administration’s bad deal with ZTE. If the President won’t act on warnings from his own top intelligence officials about the dangers posed by ZTE, we will.”

  203. says

    Update on an earlier report – “New Charges in Huge C.I.A. Breach Known as Vault 7”:

    Federal prosecutors have charged a former software engineer at the center of a huge C.I.A. breach with stealing classified information, theft of government property and lying to the F.B.I.

    The engineer, Joshua A. Schulte, 29, of New York, had been the main suspect in one of the worst losses of classified documents in the spy agency’s history.

    Government investigators suspect that he provided WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy organization, with a stolen archive of documents detailing the C.I.A.’s hacking operations, but they had not initially charged him in that crime.

    According to federal court documents, prosecutors said Mr. Schulte illegally obtained classified information in 2016 and then provided it to an organization, WikiLeaks, that posted it online.

    Prosecutors also charged him with transmitting malicious computer code and improperly gaining access to a delicate government computer system. The authorities said he granted himself access to the system and tried to conceal his activities. Prosecutors also accused him of copyright infringement….

  204. says

    “Bipartisan Group of Former United States Attorneys Call on Sessions to End Family Separation”:

    Dear Attorney General Jefferson B. Sessions:

    We write as former United States Attorneys who have served under both Republican and Democratic Presidents. Like the majority of Americans, we have been horrified by the images and stories of children torn from their families along our nation’s Southwest Border. And like a majority of Americans, we are appalled that your Zero Tolerance policy has resulted in the unnecessary trauma and suffering of innocent children. But as former United States Attorneys, we also emphasize that the Zero Tolerance policy is a radical departure from previous Justice Department policy, and that it is dangerous, expensive, and inconsistent with the values of the institution in which we served….

  205. says

    Matthew Miller:

    I can’t wait to read all of the leaked accounts of administration officials who bravely objected in private to Trump’s family separation policy.

    “Secretary Nielsen told associates she strongly objected to the remarks Secretary Nielsen made from the White House podium, calling them needlessly cruel and confrontational.”

  206. says

    “Church charges brought against Sessions”:

    More than 600 United Methodist clergy and laity say they are bringing church law charges against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a fellow United Methodist, over a zero tolerance U.S. immigration policy — a policy that includes separating children from parents apprehended for crossing into the U.S. illegally.

    However, an authority on church history and polity said he’s unaware of a complaint against a lay person ever moving past the district level.

    The group claimed in a June 18 statement that Sessions, a member of a Mobile, Alabama, church, violated Paragraph 2702.3 of the denomination’s Book of Discipline.

    Specifically, the group accuses him of child abuse in reference to separating young children from their parents and holding them in mass incarceration facilities; immorality; racial discrimination and “dissemination of doctrines contrary to the established standards of doctrines” of The United Methodist Church.

    All are categories listed in 2702.3 as chargeable offenses for a professing member of a local church.

    “I really never would have thought I’d be working on charges against anybody in the Methodist connection, much less a lay person,” said the Rev. David Wright, a Pacific Northwest Conference elder and chaplain at the University of Puget Sound in Washington State, and organizer of the effort to charge Sessions.

    But Wright said the Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy as enforced by Sessions, combined with Sessions’ use of Romans 13 to justify the policy, led him and others to conclude that more than a statement of protest was needed.

    The Book of Discipline allows for a church trial and even expulsion of a lay member, but the first step in a long process would be for the member’s pastor and district superintendent to solve the complaint through “pastoral steps,” Lawrence said.

    “I’m not aware of any circumstance in the 50-year history of The United Methodist Church when a complaint against a lay person moved beyond the stage of its resolution by a district superintendent or a pastor,” he added.

    Wright said the group’s goal in filing charges was to prompt such discussions….

  207. says

    I honestly can’t believe that it’s 2018 in the US and the public, journalists, and even Senators not only can’t get access to the facilities where thousands of girls and very young children, many of whom have been ripped away from their parents, are being held, but we don’t even know where they are. Where the hell are these kids? What’s happening to them?

  208. says

    So glad more journalists are looking into this – “How the relationship between Russia and the Religious Right began”:

    In a congressional hearing last fall, Glenn Simpson, the man whose research helped lead to the now-infamous dossier on Russia and President Donald Trump, let slip a bombshell revelation about Russian infiltration in the United States.

    “I would say broadly speaking, it appears that the Russian operation was designed to infiltrate conservative organizations,” Simpson said. “They targeted various conservative organizations, religious and otherwise, and they seem to have made a very concerted effort to get in with the [National Rifle Association].”

    While Simpson’s comments drove ongoing investigations into relations between the National Rife Association (NRA) and now-sanctioned Russian officials, another aspect of the Russian strategy has received far less attention: Which conservative religious organizations were targeted by Russian operatives? And who within those organizations proved susceptible to Russian infiltration — or even helped further the Kremlin’s aims?

    A series of interviews and never-before-seen documents, including testimonials and diaries obtained by ThinkProgress, sheds new light on how the relationship between the Religious Right and Russia first began, and how it led to several collaborative efforts in the years to come.

    In examining both the individuals and organizations involved, it’s evident that as the 2016 presidential election was heating up, those same Religious Right figures — some affiliated with groups that were reportedly funded by sanctioned Russian officials — went out of their way to defend the Russian regime. Now, with Trump in the White House, relations between Russia and American social conservatives have waned, but they’ve hardly disappeared….

    “And while WCF, now known as IOF, won’t be organizing any conferences in Russia anytime soon, it will host a major get-together later this summer in Moldova. Moldovan President Igor Dodon has manicured a reputation as a pro-Russian politician, and recently hosted both Brown and Russian neo-fascist Alexander Dugin. For good measure, Balkan Insight reported that Dodon even asked Malofeev, despite still being sanctioned by the U.S., to fund the conference.”


  209. blf says

    Follow-up to @344, Outcry over far-right Italian minister’s call for Roma register:

    M5S leader says interior minister Matteo Salvini’s call for census is unconstitutional

    Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, promised not to back down from his call for a new census of the country’s Roma community on Tuesday, even as critics said that his drive to root out and expel non-Italians was reminiscent of fascist-era race laws.

    The call for a new register, and for all non-Italian Roma to be expelled, has caused the first major rift between Salvini’s League and its Five Star Movement coalition partners, a week after Salvini violated humanitarian law to block a ship carrying more than 600 migrants from docking in Italy, forcing it to divert to Spain.

    Luigi Di Maio, the leader of the anti-establishment M5S, called Salvini’s order “unconstitutional”. A similar census pitched by the former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was blocked by an Italian court.

    It was also lambasted by Noemi Di Segni, the president of Italy’s union of Jewish communities, who said the proposal recalled the fascist race laws of the late 1920s and 1930s. The former centre-left prime minister Paolo Gentiloni also tweeted his disgust, saying: “Yesterday the refugees, today the Roma, tomorrow guns for all.”

    I have no idea what the backstory is to the snarking about “guns for all”, presuming it means “everyone has a gun” rather than “everyone is shot” (also a plausible interpretation since the snark is about nazis).

    I don’t quit and we’re moving forward, he said in a tweet. He also pointed to a 2012 proposal by politicians in Milan, which included a call for a census of the Roma community in the city. That register, according to an article in Corriere della Sera, was part of a project to help families and children overcome “discrimination and the denial of dignity” and opposing “irregularity and illegality”.

    Salvini said such proposals were deemed good when they came from the left, but racist when they were proposed by him. Italians and their security comes first, he wrote.

    That’s a new one (to me) — discrimination against the Roma is a problem throughout Europe (it’s particularly bad here in France), but I don’t recall ever hearing a “justification” being “security”. A common accusation is a tendency to commit crimes, which is perhaps what is being alluded to, but I suspect not: The new Italian fascist “government” is extremely xenophobic, and clearly views the Roma as an invading horde (along with Muslims and others).

    Salvini’s intense focus on immigration and “foreigners” has collided with M5S’s priorities of economic fairness and labour policy.

    Even if M5S tries to wrestle the agenda from Salvini, polls show that Italians are backing the interior minister, who is now polling about equal to Di Maio, at 29%, in terms of popularity.

    Discrimination against the Roma is, as said, at appalling levels, throughout all(as far as I know) of Europe. It gets worse:

    The Roma community has long been a target of Salvini, whose rise to prominence often involved press appearances at Roma camps, which he has frequently threatened to raze. Few minorities are treated with as much contempt in Italy as the Roma, who face prejudice and stereotypes that are deeply ingrained in the social consciousness.

    On Monday Salvini ordered the census and the removal of all non-Italian Roma — which he called an answer to the Roma question […]

    Salvini is on record as having praised Benito Mussolini […], and his new policy has sparked comparisons by the centre-left Democratic party to ethnic cleansing rules introduced in the late 1920s that also targeted the Roma.

    I have no hesitation whatsoever in refer to the current Italian “government” as full-fledged nazis. (You can probably find some pedantic differences, but that is missing the point from such an deep hole the WHOOSH is barely heard.)

    And it gets worse:

    Francesco Palermo, a former senator in Italy and human rights expert who has defended the rights of Roma, said it would be legally impossible to pursue the creation of an ethnic-specific census and expulsions as Salvini described, because the issue had already been taken up by Italian courts in the past, where it was rejected.

    But he said the bigger problem was that the reaction to Salvini was generally positive, and that his popularity was growing despite the extreme nature of his positions.

    “It is very simple and very scary. Except for intellectuals and certain journalists, most people would say there is nothing wrong with this, and that is the tricky point. Salvini knows this. It is a just a means to get political support,” Palermo said.

    He added that reactions would be different if Salvini was targeting other groups of people who face discrimination, but that racist views about the Roma are “innate” among many people in Italy.

    Up to 180,000 Roma live in Italy, about 43% of whom are Italian citizens.

    About 4,000 Roma live in state-sanctioned ghettos in Rome, according to a 2013 report by Amnesty International. These out-of-city ghettoes consist of pre-fabricated containers or mobile homes in fenced-off areas, often without adequate sanitation or clean drinking water. Inhabitants are excluded from other social housing despite many having lived in Italy for generations.

    Warsaw Ghetto, anyone? I must admit I was unaware of these “state-sanctioned ghettos”. A July-2015 article, Rome pledges to dismantle Roma ghettos after court ruling adds:

    Italian court finds capital guilty of ethnic discrimination amid scandal over corruption in public housing for city’s most vulnerable residents
    Press access to the ghettos is limited, but the Guardian recently visited a facility on Via Salaria which is meant to provide temporary housing for Romany families who have been displaced or evicted from other homes.

    The entrance displays a list of residents who must check in and out. While Rome allegedly spent €2m on the facility in 2014, and nearly €30m on all such facilities, the living conditions are squalid.

    Residents of the Via Salaria facility, which is next to a rubbish dump, built their own makeshift kitchen from appliances found on the street after fighting for permission to do so.


    At Via Salaria, most of the women who guardedly spoke to journalists as an imposing facility employee looked on, said their attempts to find jobs and build better lives were largely fruitless. They said they did not have adequate resident or working papers and were not given jobs because they were Roma.


    A recent study by Pew Research found that 86% of Italians had very or somewhat unfavourable views of the Roma population in Italy. This compares with 43% across Europe holding the same view.

    Sorry to repeat myself, again, but discrimination against the Roma is fecking huge problem across all of Europe.

    Those views have likely been shaped by the opinions expressed by the head of the rightwing Northern League party, Matteo Salvini, who routinely blames Italy’s problems on the Roma population and regularly calls for the razing of their camps.

    Francesco Palermo, a senator from Alto Adige in northern Italy, who is a rare voice of support for the minority group, said the Rome court ruling was a “real breakthrough” because it showed that the segregation was “not the consequence of the Roma emergency but rather its cause”.

    The decision was welcomed by Amnesty International, which said Italy should start dismantling the segregated housing. […]

    Good for Mr Palermo and AI.

    Here is an August-2008 photoessay about Roma camps (in general) in Italy, Inside Italian Gypsy camps: “In July this year pictures emerged of a beach in Naples where two young Roma Gypsy girls had drowned, while just feet away from them a carefree couple enjoy a leisurely picnic. Photographer Robin Hammond travels to the Roma camps of that area in Italy, to document the plight of the people there against the discrimination they face from the rest of the country”. Yes, the title’s use of Gypsy is cringeworthy, perhaps especially since, with the sole weird exception of “Roma Gypsy” in the quoted synopsis, the photoessay uses “Roma”. (The drowning incident referred-to is described here, Gypsy girls’ corpses on beach in Italy fail to put off sunbathers (there are no photographs).)

  210. says

    tomh @ #365:

    Typical McCain, brave words, no action. Wake me when he signs on to Feinstein’s bill.

    There are several now who could and should sign on immediately – McCain, Murkowski, Collins, Sasse, Flake, Coffman, Hatch. So far they prefer to make statements and play games, while horrific human rights abuses continue apace.

  211. says

    Bill Nelson (who’s with Debbie Wasserman-Schultz):

    HHS just blocked us from entering its facility in Homestead, Florida to check on the welfare of the children being held here. They are obviously hiding something, and we are going to get to the bottom of this.

    The company running this facility told us we would be welcomed to tour the facility. HHS then denied us entry and said that they need “two weeks notice” to allow us inside. That’s ridiculous and it’s clear this administration is hiding something.

  212. blf says

    In Iran, a World Cup poster devoid of female fans attracts mockery:

    To show their support for the Iranian national team in the 2018 World Cup, an Iranian firm put an enormous poster on the side of a building in the centre of the capital, Tehran. It reads: “Together, we are champions. One nation, one heartbeat.” However, the fact that there are no women on the poster sparked anger on social media and eventually resulted in the poster being taken down.

    [… The] poster shows about 15 exuberant men holding up a golden trophy. The crowd includes footballers and civilians. Some are wearing suits, while others are wearing more traditional garb. The crowd includes people with different skin tones and different hair. But it doesn’t contain a single woman.

    This fact didn’t escape the critics. Some Iranian women altered the image to include women’s faces and then posted it to social media.


    The company that designed these posters is called the “House of designers of the Islamic Republic”. They are known for making posters that oppose the politics of moderate President Hassan Rohani, the United States and Israel. This company is part of the larger group Owj, which has close ties to the Revolutionary Guards. […]

    Images, and links-to-images, at the link.

  213. blf says

    EU court confirms Marine Le Pen must repay €300,000 to European Parliament:

    The General Court of the European Union, the bloc’s second-highest tribunal, rejected a bid by Le Pen to overturn a ruling that she had wrongly used parliamentary funds to pay an aide who was based at her party’s headquarters in Paris.

    The Luxembourg-based court said in a statement that it “confirms the decision of the European Parliament to recover from Marine Le Pen MEP almost 300,000 euros ($347,000) for the employment of a parliamentary assistant, on the ground that she did not prove the effectiveness of that assistant’s work”.

    Le Pen […] provided no evidence “of any activity whatsoever on the part of the parliamentary assistant that comes under parliamentary assistance, which she moreover acknowledged during the hearing,” the court said.

    Le Pen swiftly announced her intention to take the case to the Court of Justice of the European Union, the bloc’s highest court.


  214. blf says

    The facists in Italy appear to have forgotten bribing the child raping cult — e.g., providing them with a toy nation — is how to gain their approval for another round of xian-supported genocide. Instead, they seem to be attacking them, albeit not on anything where they should be attacked, such as protecting child rapists. Salvini meets Cardinal Burke, staunch critic of Pope Francis:

    Matteo Salvini […] has met Raymond Burke, the Argentinian pontiff’s fiercest critic in the Vatican, signalling an unprecedented gulf between the leader of the Catholic church and a key figure in the new populist government.

    Salvini […] has long been at odds with Francis over the issue of migration, the pope’s outreach to Muslims and his calls for Europe to integrate migrant communities.


    Burke is seen as the ringleader of a faction of the Catholic church opposed to Francis. Like Salvini, he counts the far-right populist Steve Bannon, who is Catholic […], as a confidante.

    […] Salvini is Catholic and reportedly attends mass but he is divorced and lives with a partner.


  215. says

    USA Today op ed by Aitan Goelman, Peter Strzok’s lawyer – “Donald Trump is wrong. My client Peter Strzok is a patriot, not a ‘sick loser.'”:

    …So what’s the reason for this barrage of attacks on his character and this effort to portray him as a hyperpartisan member of a “deep state” conspiracy that is determined to thwart the will of the American people?

    Make no mistake: It is all part of a calculated political strategy to demonize Pete and the men and women of the FBI and the Department of Justice in order to pre-emptively discredit the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Unfortunately, Pete inadvertently provided ammunition to this effort by expressing personal political views to another FBI employee. In several of these text messages, he was critical of then-candidate Donald Trump.

    But as Pete has played by the rules — fully cooperating in an investigation and now agreeing to freely testify before Congress — the president and his allies have done the opposite. They have spent months cynically taking these texts out of context and saying that one- or two-word snippets somehow prove that the FBI investigations of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the Russia probe itself, were biased.

    The problem is, such a conclusion was proved false by the independent Inspector General investigation….

    With all of the texts released and the independent investigation completed, it’s clear that Pete is far from the monster that political operatives have self-servingly tried to create. But if what Pete has done in 20 years of law enforcement is not enough to convince you, consider what he hasn’t done.

    In October of 2016 Pete was one of a handful of people at the FBI who knew the full scope and gravity of the Russia investigation. Significantly harming — even stopping — the Trump presidency could have been accomplished by leaking that information to the media. Instead, Pete and others at the FBI went out of their way to prevent leaks and, in the weeks before the election, actively ensured that news reports didn’t overplay the seriousness of the investigation.

    These aren’t the actions of a partisan conspirator, they are the actions of an American patriot.

    Much more at the link.

  216. says

    “Governors Refuse to Send National Guard to Border, Citing Trump’s Child Separation Policy”:

    National Guard troops in five states will not deploy to the southern border, the states’ governors announced this week, over mounting objections to the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents there.

    The governors of Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Connecticut asserted their opposition by declaring that they will withhold or recall troops from the United States’ border with Mexico, adding their names to widening outrage over the policy….

    Now VA as well.

  217. KG says


    Having spent time amounting to around a year in Italy, I can confirm that open and venomous anti-Roma prejudice is common, even among otherwise apparently decent people. Yes, such prejudice is found throughout Europe, but I think it is particularly bad in Italy, probably worse than anywhere else in western Europe. Systematic violence against Roma in Italy is an all too real possibility in the immediate future.

  218. blf says

    ‘Tone deaf!’: state department offers poorly-timed tips on traveling with kids:

    It is not clear whether Carl and Kim from Passport Services realised that giving cheery “travel hacks” to help your family vacation run more smoothly was a tad inappropriate given the current political climax. However, it would have been very difficult for them to entirely ignore the stream of incredulous comments that popped up as they smiled at the camera.


    “Is the bad timing on this ‘chat’ intentional or is the US Dept of State just so incredibly tone deaf that they don’t know that the US is separating children from their parents and holding them in cages?” another Facebook user wrote.

    “I’d like help planning a visit to family members held in different concentration camps. What online services do you have to help me plan my visit?” read another comment.


    While Kim seemed totally unperturbed by the poor timing of the livestream, Carl appeared to be affected by the constant comments about children being taken from their parents. By the end of the session, his every other word was “um” and he kept repeating the fact he was “potentially driving across the border” into Canada for a family vacation soon.


  219. says

    Go Eric Swalwell: “People aren’t talking about the goddamn emails. They’re talking about people on the southern border being separated and kept in cages…”

  220. says

    From SC’s first link in comment 390:

    […] Trump falsely claims that nobody released at the border returns for their immigration hearing; even anti-immigration groups say almost two-thirds of people return. If they don’t come back, he says, “You’ll have killings you’ll have murders you’ll have this you’ll have that.”

    Trump complains that immigrants are hiring “professional lawyers.”

    The president alleges that “professional lawyers” are giving asylum-seekers false stories to recite to judges. (Obviously, he’s not providing evidence for anything.)

    Trump lies that crime in Germany is up “more than 10%.” (It’s at a 25-year low.) He mocks “Crooked Hillary Clinton” for (apparently) correctly saying that that’s a lie. “Didn’t she already have her chance?” he says.

    Trump’s use of “professional lawyers” made me laugh. He doesn’t, for the most part, hire “professional lawyers,” preferring the likes of Michael Cohen and Rudi Giuliani. Maybe he is jealous: all those real, professional lawyers are helping asylum-seekers.

  221. says

    “Rudy Giuliani Says FBI Questioned Him On Leaks That Hurt Clinton Campaign”:

    Rudy Giuliani says FBI agents interviewed him in his room at the Trump International Hotel earlier this year regarding his 2016 remarks predicting a “surprise” in the closing days of the presidential race that would benefit then-Republican nominee Donald Trump.

    “That’s all they asked about. What was I talking about in terms of ‘surprise’?” Giuliani told HuffPost Tuesday. “What was I talking about when I was talking about new information?”

    Giuliani was a top campaign adviser in the summer and autumn of 2016 and is now leading the team of lawyers representing Trump in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. His disclosure of the February interview confirms the existence of a Justice Department investigation into leaks from the bureau’s New York field office that may have cost Democrat Hillary Clinton the election.

    The precise nature of the FBI’s interest in Giuliani and the current status of its probe are unclear. FBI Director Chris Wray told lawmakers yesterday that the bureau was “aggressively investigating a number of leaks,” and Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz said his office’s investigative work “remains ongoing.”

    Told of Giuliani’s disclosure of the FBI interview, the inspector general’s office declined to comment; an FBI representative did not respond to a request for comment.

    But bureau officials have long worried about disclosures from the FBI’s New York field office, which Giuliani knew well from his role as former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

    Giuliani told HuffPost that he spoke with Kallstrom as well as one other former FBI official he would not identify.

    But Giuliani said he told the FBI agents who interviewed him that he had neither inside knowledge of the Clinton probe’s status nor advance warning of Comey’s Oct. 28 announcement. He was merely speculating that FBI agents were so upset by Comey’s earlier decision not to charge the Democratic nominee with any crimes that they would “revolt,” either by leaking damaging information about her or by resigning en masse.

    “Did I get any leaks from the FBI? I said no,” Giuliani said, adding that the “surprise” that he promised in 2016 was a 20-minute national television ad he was urging Trump to buy to deliver a speech “hitting very hard on the Comey decision.”

    Giuliani said that, contrary to what people may have inferred from his public statements, he never received any information from active FBI employees. He said that during the campaign, he was only speaking with former FBI officials, who agreed with him that bureau employees were undoubtedly livid about Comey’s summer decision not to prosecute Clinton.

    “We speculated from our knowledge of FBI agents,” he said. “The thought was that the agents were going to leak that they were very upset with the Comey decision.”…

    LOL bullshit.

  222. says

    “Breaking: Michael Cohen, Holding His Cards Close to the Vest, Has Hired a New Lawyer”:

    …Cohen, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, has now hired Guy Petrillo to represent him in the ongoing criminal investigation of his business dealings in the Southern District of New York. Petrillo, a New York attorney who works with clients in criminal and civil matters prosecuted by the government, served as the chief of the criminal division in the S.D.N.Y. from 2008 to 2009. According to his Web site, Petrillo handles cases involving money laundering and fraud, along with congressional and special investigations. Neither he nor Cohen immediately responded to requests for comment.

    News of Cohen’s legal shake-up has inevitably fanned speculation about whether he would flip. The conjecture appeared to weigh on Donald Trump, who distanced himself from his former personal attorney when asked by reporters outside the White House last week if he thought Cohen would cooperate with the government. “I always liked Michael,” he told reporters.

    The use of the past tense was not lost on those close to Cohen. These people say that Trump has been foolishly careless with how he has publicly talked about Cohen, who they believe holds all the cards in the situation. “That one line had to be the dumbest thing [Trump’s] ever said,” one person familiar with his thinking told me. And that, indeed, would be quite an accomplishment.

  223. blf says

    KG@396, Thanks! I’ve observed anti-Roma nonsense (fortunately, never violent†) in England, Ireland (technically, Lucht Siúil — Irish Travellers — who possibly not Roma), Scotland, France, and Belgium, and seen indications albeit nothing specific in Austria, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary. My first(?) brush with blatant prejudice in Europe after university was a No Travellers sign in a London pub (English and Scottish Travellers are Roma), which I admit I didn’t understand until I asked a colleague about it a few days later. (A few years later I did return to that pub — by mistake, I didn’t realise it was the same pub at first — and the sign was no longer there.)

    Whilst using Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge to confirm my quickie synopsis of Lucht Siúil, I noticed there was an important change last year: “In March 2017 they were designated an Irish indigenous ethnic group.”

    On your specific point about Italy, and European anti-Roma attitudes generally:

    The 2016 Pew Research poll found that Italians, in particular, hold strong anti-Roma views, with 82% of Italians expressing negative opinions about Roma. In Greece 67%, in Hungary 64%, in France 61%, in Spain 49%, in Poland 47%, in the UK 45%, in Sweden 42%, in Germany 40%, and in the Netherlands 37% have an unfavourable view of Roma.

    Locally, a somewhat remote site Roma would camp at was deliberately dug up and made inhospitable. I’m not certain that was intended as an anti-Roma action, but suspect it was. I do not currently know where the Roma now camp locally.

      † I did once see a young child, here in France, obviously deliberately stomp in a puddle to splash water on a Roma woman in the rain.

  224. says

    “QAnon, the Crazy Pro-Trump Conspiracy, Melts Down Over OIG Report”:

    A man armed with a rifle and a handgun drove an armored truck to the Hoover Dam last Friday and started blocking traffic. He brought a homemade sign with him that said, “Release the OIG report.”

    Except the report was already out.

    The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General released a report the day before criticizing the actions of FBI officials like James Comey during the Hillary Clinton email investigation. President Trump wrongly claimed it “exonerated” him, and right-wing media seized on the revelation that FBI agent Peter Strzok sent a text saying that “we’ll stop” Trump in 2016.

    But for followers of the byzantine QAnon conspiracy theory, who had been promised that the report would contain far more damaging revelations about Democrats, the report has been one big anticlimax. The sign the armored truck driver held up on the bridge appeared to reference the idea, promoted by QAnon, that Trump possesses another OIG report that would bring down his enemies once and for all. The second report supposedly proves the FBI, the Justice Department, and top Democrats broke laws in an attempt to stop Trump from winning the presidency. Now Trump just has to release it, QAnon says.

    Q’s clues had long hyped up the release of the OIG report. But then the report came out, and it wasn’t filled with the kinds of revelations QAnon supporters were promised. Now QAnon believers and the mysterious “Q” are scrambling to react to the report’s disappointment.

    “Praying Medic,” a QAnon proponent who has amassed more than 140,000 followers on YouTube and Twitter, focused on minor formatting details in the report. In a series of tweets, he claimed that typographical changes—“the margins, the fonts that are used”—proved that the released version of the OIG report had been tampered with.

    Q responded to the lukewarm reception of the OIG report by claiming that there were actually multiple OIG reports that actually did contain the revelations Q had promised, but that the one that was released had been changed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a nemesis for QAnon believers. In a clue published after the OIG report came out, Q claimed Trump had an “original IG unredacted report” that the public hadn’t seen.

    QAnon believers seem to have bought that line, hence Wright’s demand for the real OIG report. Now, instead of waiting for the release of an actual OIG report, they’re left waiting for one that doesn’t exist.

  225. says

    The Trump administration plans to announce its withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council on Tuesday, making good on a pledge to leave a body it has long accused of hypocrisy and criticized as biased against Israel, according to two people familiar with the matter.

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley plan to announce the withdrawal at the State Department in Washington at 5 p.m., the people said. […]

    Condemning the planned withdrawal from the UN group, Senator Chris Coons, a Democrat who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, said the decision “sends a clear message that the Trump administration does not intend to lead the world when it comes to human rights.”

    The U.S. withdrawal comes as little surprise. National Security Adviser John Bolton opposed the body’s creation when he was U.S. ambassador to the UN in 2006. In a speech to the council last year, Haley called out the body for what she said was its “relentless, pathological campaign” against Israel. She has also urged expelling members of the council that have poor human rights records themselves. Other members include China, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. […]


  226. says

    I knew it!:

    Nielsen argued that a 314% increase in accused smugglers at the border necessitated separating parents from children. DHS gave me hard numbers:

    After the increase, 0.61% of families from October through February included alleged smugglers.

    The White House liked Nielsen’s comment on that 314% so much that it tweeted it out. It was the main rationale Nielsen offered for the need to separate children from parents (and the primary rationale Sessions offered when he announced the policy).

    The net effect is that the equivalent of 6 out of 1,000 families being identified as not actually being related (though not necessarily as criminals) is why Nielsen says the zero-tolerance policy is necessary.

    It’s one of the major methods of misleading with statistics that Ben Goldacre discusses in Bad Science. These massive percentage increases always ping my skepticism radar.

  227. blf says

    The Grauniad reporter who uncovered and pursued the Windrush scandal in the UK has just won the highly-regarded UK investigative journalism’s Paul Foot Award, Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman wins prize for Windrush reporting:

    “The judges were impressed by the tenacity of Amelia Gentleman’s work, her determination to tell the stories of the victims of the government’s hostile environment policy, and the enormous impact her work had, proving that good reporting really can make a difference,” said Padraig Reidy, the chair of the judges.

    Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye, which runs the awards, said: “Congratulations to Amelia Gentleman for a campaign that was revelatory, important and amazingly effective. This was the Windrush scandal — where a cabinet minister was thrown overboard and the ship of state nearly sank.”

    A number of positive actions are being taken (see Windrush scandal: how has it changed the immigration system?). However, the hostile environment policy still exists, and the creator of the policy, the now-PM Theresa May, is still in office and running amok in circles, frequently in thin air, Wile E Coyote-like but with none of the charm.

  228. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    MSNBC is having a both Chris Hayes (All In, McAllen) and Lawrence O’Donnell (Last Word, Brownsville) report live from the Texas border tonight.

  229. says

    From Rachel Maddow:

    Ugh, I’m sorry.

    If nothing else, it is my job to actually be able to speak while I’m on TV.

    What I was trying to do — when I suddenly couldn’t say/do anything — was read this lede:

    “Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents to at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas…

    “Lawyers and medical providers who have visited the “tender age” shelters described play rooms of crying preschool-age children in crisis…

    “Decades after the nation’s child welfare system ended the use of orphanages over concerns about the lasting trauma to children, the administration is standing up new institutions to hold Central American toddlers that the government separated from their parents…

    “The thought that they are going to be putting such little kids in an institutional setting? I mean it is hard for me to even wrap my mind around it,” said Kay Bellor, vice president for programs at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, “Toddlers are being detained.”

    All from this Associated Press story that broke while I was on the air tonight, but which I was unable to read on the air:


    Again, I apologize for losing it there for a moment. Not the way I intended that to go, not by a mile.



  230. says

    “The Trump Administration Is Facing New Legal Challenges To Family Separations At The Border”:

    As the Trump administration faces growing public and political backlash over the separation of families at the US–Mexico border, another front is opening up in the courts.

    A Guatemalan woman who crossed into the United States in May seeking asylum filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court in Washington, DC, challenging her separation from her 7-year-old son. The case is believed to be the first lawsuit challenging family separations since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero-tolerance” policy in April, directing US Attorneys Offices to pursue all alleged illegal entry cases referred by the US Department of Homeland Security.

    Lawyers for the woman, who is no longer in federal custody, filed an emergency motion Tuesday night seeking a temporary restraining order that would require federal authorities to release her son from detention. “No one, except a parent, can fully understand the anguish Ms. M. has suffered, and continues to suffer, at the loss of her child,” her lawyers wrote.

    New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Tuesday that New York planned to file a “multi-agency lawsuit” against the administration alleging family separations are unconstitutional; no case has been filed yet.

    The American Civil Liberties Union is separately pursuing a proposed class action in federal court in California challenging the separation of families in immigration detention. That case was filed in March, before the zero-tolerance policy was announced, but the ACLU is seeking a nationwide preliminary injunction to stop separations while families are in immigration detention, absent a finding that a parent is unfit or poses a danger to the child; the ACLU has asked for an order that would apply to separations that occurred after the zero-tolerance policy was announced….

    More at the link.

  231. says

    “Trump Rants And Roars At House GOP Meeting, With No Clear Immigration Plan”:

    President Trump visited Capitol Hill on Tuesday to meet with anxious Republicans who hoped he’d help them put out the firestorm he started with his decision to separate parents and children. Instead, he delivered a vintage meandering and bullying speech that offered little concrete guidance to desperate House Republicans about what to do on immigration.

    Trump spent 45 minutes ranting to House Republicans on everything from taxes to his pending lawsuits Tuesday evening, according to members in the meeting, while offering barely any info about whether he’d support the specifics of a pair of bills that closely follow the President’s own policy goals on immigration.

    The President did not specifically endorse compromise legislation crafted by Republicans in the House or spend much time laying out his directives on what he needs to end his self-created crisis of family separation at the U.S.-Mexico border. Instead, he delivered a rambling and, according to some members, barely coherent tirade that was short on specifics, even as he said he was “one thousand percent” behind the House GOP efforts on immigration.

    “He said a lot of things. He said he supported the bill, I guess. It was very rambling, he talked about everything from the lawsuit to tax bills,” said Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC). “It was kind of hard to follow everything he says — it was like a bouncing ball.”

    The president even took aim at Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), who just lost a primary largely due to his past criticism of the president. After asking if Sanford was in the room, according to multiple members, Trump called him “nasty.”

    “He was very ugly,” said Jones….

  232. says

    Brad Parscale tweeted saying it was time to fire Sessions and end the Mueller investigation (because of something about the IG report which he couldn’t specify because it didn’t work out like they’d hoped). Chuck Todd (!) retweeted it, adding: “Reminder, of the key 2016 Trump campaign players who haven’t been interviewed by Mueller is Parscale. He is part of a club that includes: Stone, Manafort, Don Jr and Cohen. They’ve all met w/Congress on Russia but not Mueller, hinting All five could be Mueller targets.”

  233. says

    “The Limits Of Trump’s Cruelty Are Only Just Being Tested”:

    …The political opposition, unfortunately, remains captive to both Trump’s strategic patience, and the broader system’s tendency to give up and move on. Through every past outrage, the effect has been to acclimate about 40 percent of the country to accepting bottomless moral turpitude. Taking children hostage to deter asylum seekers and seek leverage in legislative negotiations is not popular. It will take a political toll somewhere, at some point. Trump knows this, but he also has good reason to believe that scrutiny will fade, and his political standing, weak as it is, will recover before he has to bear that cost. If he weathers a policy of torturing children without being forced, finally, to back down, just imagine the world of possible horrors that will open up to him.

  234. says

    Steve Schmidt (John McCain’s 2008 campaign manager):

    29 years and nine months ago I registered to vote and became a member of The Republican Party which was founded in 1854 to oppose slavery and stand for the dignity of human life. Today I renounce my membership in the Republican Party. It is fully the party of Trump.

    It is corrupt, indecent and immoral. With the exception of a few Governors like Baker, Hogan and Kasich it is filled with feckless cowards who disgrace and dishonor the legacies of the party’s greatest leaders. This child separation policy is connected to the worst abuses of

    Humanity in our history. It is connected by the same evil that separated families during slavery and dislocated tribes and broke up Native American families. It is immoral and must be repudiated. Our country is in trouble. Our politics are badly broken. The first step to a

    Season of renewal in our land is the absolute and utter repudiation of Trump and his vile enablers in the 2018 election by electing Democratic majorities. I do not say this as an advocate of a progressive agenda. I say it as someone who retains belief in DEMOCRACY and decency.

    On Ronald Reagan’s grave are these words. “ I know in my heart that man is good. That what is right will always eventually triumph and there is purpose and worth to each and every life.” He would be ashamed of McConnell and Ryan and all the rest while this corrupt government*

    Establishes internment camps for babies. Everyone of these complicit leaders will carry this shame through history. There legacies will be ones of well earned ignominy. They have disgraced their country and brought dishonor to the Party of Lincoln.

    I have spent much of my life working in GOP politics. I have always believed that both parties were two of the most important institutions to the advancement of human freedom and dignity in the history of the world. Today the GOP has become a danger to our democracy and values.

    This Independent voter will be aligned with the only party left in America that stands for what is right and decent and remains fidelitous to our Republic, objective truth, the rule of law and our Allies. That party is the Democratic Party.

    * The Reagan these people have in their heads is not the Reagan who existed.

  235. says

    “AMA calls for an end to border separations”:

    The largest U.S. doctors’ group, the American Medical Association, is urging the Trump administration to end promptly the practice of separating children from their migrating families at the southern border.

    The AMA’s chief executive officer, Dr. James Madara, writes in a letter that families seeking refuge in the U.S. “already endure emotional and physical stress” and that separation only makes it worse.

    Madara says it’s well known that childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences created by inhumane treatment often create negative health impacts that can last a lifetime….

    As I understand it, incidentally, both of Kirstjen Nielsen’s parents were doctors (her mother died in 2011; her father is alive and was at her swearing-in).

  236. says

    Follow-up to SC @418.

    One of the Republican legislators in the room, (a guy from Texas), said that Trump did not hear any facts or pushback about the effects of his immigration policies because he did not take questions and did not let anyone else speak.

    That’s why Trump came out afterward and said that it was “a great meeting.” He only heard his own voice, and no one called him on his bullshit.

    Related video segment The Beat with Ari Member:

    The humanitarian crisis created by Trump has engulfed his presidency as he defends separating migrant children from their parents at the border. Rep. Judy Chu joins Ari Melber after visiting a shelter housing migrant children, saying the children are “traumatized by the situation”. Founder of Border Angels, Enrique Morones notes 11,000 people have already died as a result of the border wall that “already exists” and calls the policy causing family separation “horrific”.


    A related video segment from All In:

    The civil rights attorney who obtained an audio recording of children separated from their parents crying joins Chris Hayes to talk about how she got it and how asylum seekers are being turned away at the border.


  237. says

    “US lobbyist for Russian oligarch visited Julian Assange nine times last year”:

    A longtime US lobbyist for the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska visited Julian Assange nine times at the Ecuadorian embassy in London last year, according to visitor logs seen by the Guardian.

    Adam Waldman, who has worked as a Washington lobbyist for the metals tycoon since 2009, had more meetings with Assange in 2017 than almost anyone else, the records show.

    It is not clear why Waldman went to the WikiLeaks founder or whether the meetings had any connection to the Russian billionaire, who is now subject to US sanctions. But the disclosure is likely to raise further questions about the extent and nature of Assange’s alleged ties to Russia.

    Waldman also served as a counsel for Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov. A 2010 DoJ filing showed that the Endeavor Group was hired by Lavrov to help ease the “persistent state of limbo” that Deripaska faced as a result of his being refused entry into the US. In a letter to Waldman, Lavrov hailed Deripaska as one of Russia’s “prominent business leaders”.

    The logs, obtained by the Guardian and Focus Ecuador, reveal details of Assange’s life inside the Ecuadorian embassy, where he has been staying since June 2012. Waldman allegedly visited Assange twice on 12 and 13 January 2017, days before Trump’s inauguration as president, and again immediately after the ceremony, on 27 January.

    The Guardian has separately corroborated that Waldman was in London in late March, when he saw Assange twice more. He visited the embassy three times in April and made two more visits at the end of November 2017.

    Deripaska is a key person in the investigation by the special counsel Robert Mueller into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow….

    Much more at the link. “According to visitor logs seen by the Guardian” is a lovely phrase.

  238. says

    Lynna @ #425:

    That’s why Trump came out afterward and said that it was “a great meeting.” He only heard his own voice, and no one called him on his bullshit.

    I’ve seen reporting that they laughed along and stood to applaud him.

  239. says

    Here is an excerpt from the inane blather that constituted Trump’s comments at the National Federation of Independent Businesses meeting yesterday:

    Ultimately, we have to have a real border – not judges. Thousands and thousands of judges they want to hire. Who are these people? … What country does this? … No, seriously, what country does it?

    They said,”‘Sir, we’d like to hire about five or six-thousand more judges.” Five or six-thousand? Now, can you imagine the graft that must take place? You’re all small business owners, so I know you can imagine a thing like that would happen. But here’s a guy – they say, “Could you please be a judge? Come on, get it.” They line up to be a judge. It’s horrible.

    We don’t want judges; we want security on the border.

    When Trump pretends that someone called him “Sir,” you can bet that Trump just made that up. In this case, no one, not one person, is calling for the hiring of “five or six-thousand” judges. No one. The call to hire several hundred judges has been suggested by many people, and seems to be a bipartisan idea.

    In his comments, you can also see Trump’s visceral reaction to judges in general. He hates ’em, and he seizes every opportunity to disparage them.

  240. says

    SC @427, yeah. Bunch of lackeys. Steve Schmidt was right. Toadies. Kissing the Dear Leader’s ass.

    As for the Republican immigration bill that Trump is supposedly supporting, here are some telling details from Alice Ollstein:

    Senate Republicans calling for an end to the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant parents from their children are pushing legislation that would roll back due process, anti-trafficking and human rights protections […] allowing for faster deportations of asylum-seekers and the indefinite detention of minors. […]

    GOP bills up for consideration in the House and Senate would dramatically cut the time immigrants have to present their bids for asylum. The version drafted by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), for example, mandates the hiring of thousands of new immigration judges who must hear families’ cases within 14 days of them crossing the border.

    Oh! So there is one guy wanting to hire thousands of judges, Ted Cruz. He wants the judges to put a legalistic gloss on his bad idea of stripping human rights protections from would-be immigrants.

    […] Human rights advocates say the two-week timeline would make it nearly impossible for asylum-seekers to put together the evidence needed for a successful application, especially since the families are being held in remote facilities where access to lawyers is difficult.

    The House bill put together by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), which President Trump appeared to endorse in a muddled speech to the GOP caucus Tuesday night, would also raise the legal bar for asylum claims, making it much more difficult for immigrants to qualify. […]

    The Republican-backed bills would end the Flores settlement, a decades-old federal court ruling that bans the government from holding children in immigration detention for longer than 20 days. Should the bills pass, the administration would be able to keep some children and parents incarcerated together, potentially for long periods of time. […]

    Flores is one of the “loopholes” that Trump claims Democrats created.

    […] Democratic leaders, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), say this solution is unacceptable.

    “You put them in a correctional facility with their parents? Hooray. Isn’t that nice?” he said sarcastically at a briefing with reporters on Tuesday. “You put them behind bars. Isn’t that wonderful? What a compassionate alternative that is.” […]

    “We are not about to overturn a court decision that was designed to protect kids,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) told reporters Tuesday. “There is no reason to treat people horrifically between the time that they arrive and the time they have their asylum hearing.”

    […] Democrats continue to insist that no congressional action is necessary and that the administration could act at any moment to unilaterally end the separation of children and their parents. […].

  241. says

    Is the pressure working?

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is drafting an executive action for President Donald Trump that would direct her department to keep families together in detention after they are detained crossing the border illegally, according to two people familiar with her thinking. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the effort before its official announcement. […]

    Supposedly, Trump will sign this.

    As more follow-up to comments 427 and 429: The Republicans in the House accepted Trump’s lie that he is powerless to end family separations. Link

    Meanwhile, Trump repeated that, “They’re using the children to get into the country.” Other Republicans have made the same claim. “They’re using the children as a ticket to get into the country.” Only one percent of the people seeking entry with children are “family fraud” cases. One percent. Trump is misleading his supporters.

  242. says

    Follow-up to comment 430.

    Several commentators have made the point that we don’t even need an executive order. Trump could pick up the phone and tell Jeff Sessions to knock it off when it comes to separating families.

    Nevertheless, I think Nielsen is right to come up with an Executive Order. Trump will like the fanfare and the ritual.

  243. says

    An even more paranoid Trump? More trouble on the horizon:

    As staffers drain from the White House and the bulk of […] Trump’s most trusted advisers depart, Trump is growing increasingly lonely and mistrustful of those remaining, according to a Tuesday New York Times report.

    “The Bushies in the White House are out to get me,” Trump reportedly said about staff holdovers from the Bush administration.

    He is also so devoid of human contact that he’s eager to spar with reporters even as he slanders the profession daily, according to the Times.

    The tides do not seem to be changing, either, as rumors fly about a chunk of significant White House officials who are eyeing the exits. Per the New York Times, that list includes Chief of Staff John Kelly, White House Counsel Don McGahn, Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah and Social Media Director Dan Scavino. […]


  244. says

    Bible study in the White House is affecting Jeff Sessions … and not in a good way.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions ignited a public theological debate last week when he used the Bible, specifically Romans 13, to justify the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the U.S. border. He likely took his cues from the White House Bible Study (WHBS), a weekly Bible study for members of the president’s cabinet organized by Ralph Drollinger of Capitol Ministries.

    […] significant staff time and resources go into coordinating the Bible study every week. Documents also show that Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, who defended the policy during a press conference Monday, is heavily involved with the WHBS. […]

    The day before Sessions’ remarks last Thursday, the White House Bible Study held a meeting centered on “The Importance of Parenting and the Course of the Nation.” […]

    The biblical parenting course advocates “corporeal [sic] punishment for wrong doing” because it “is replete throughout Scripture.” Biblical parenting requires that a parent dominate their child from a young age: […]

    Drollinger, a former basketball player with a Bachelor’s degree in geography, has no education or training in public service, public policy, government, or immigration policy. Despite his lack of experience, he has been given unprecedented access to the highest levels of government — far more than any lobbyist. While his work raises a host of state-church concerns and concerns under lobbying prohibitions, considering his connections (he runs Bible studies for both the House and Senate, too), it is unlikely that those concerns will ever be investigated.

    “Jeff Sessions [will] go out the same day I teach him something and he’ll do it on camera. And I just think, man, these guys are faithful, available, and teachable.” […]


  245. says

    This is the context of Trump’s possible signing of something today to end family separation: “Senate Republicans calling for an end to the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant parents from their children are pushing legislation that would roll back due process, anti-trafficking and human rights protections — something the administration has long sought to accomplish — allowing for faster deportations of asylum-seekers and the indefinite detention of minors.”

  246. says

    The biblical parenting course advocates “corporeal [sic] punishment for wrong doing” because it “is replete throughout Scripture.” Biblical parenting requires that a parent dominate their child from a young age: […]

    *deep breaths*

    I can’t recommend Philip Greven’s Spare the Child or Alice Miller’s For Your Own Good highly enough in this moment.

  247. says

    Taking a closer look at Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s claim that, “[…] if you are seeking asylum for your family, there is no reason to break the law and illegally cross between ports of entry”; and a closer look at this statement from Jeff Sessions, “They can go to our ports of entry, if they want to claim asylum, and they won’t be arrested”:

    […] “On paper it’s totally true,” says Adam Isacson, director for defense oversight at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights organization. “It’s perfectly legal to show up at a port of entry and ask the first officer you see. The problem is that at many border crossings, at places like El Paso, at Roma, we’re hearing that [Customs and Border Protection] is sending officers out to the very line and telling people on the bridge, ‘Nope, come back later.’ Or sometimes they even lie to them and tell them they can’t take them, until they give up and cross the illegal way.” […]

    At some crossings, Isacson says, guards have claimed “capacity issues”—that there isn’t any room for additional people seeking asylum. He notes that while “it does take a while to sit down and interview” asylum seekers, many advocates are reporting that housing for asylum seekers in places like El Paso is “half full.”

    The persistence of asylum seekers, who often are forced to camp out for days on end before they can make their asylum claims, can be witnessed in several recent videos. Last week, Annunciation House, an El Paso nonprofit that works with immigrants and refugees, gave the Washington Post a video that showed a father and son from Guatemala being denied entry to seek asylum for the ninth time in nine days. That same week, the Intercept posted a video of a father and son who had to ask seven times to continue on the El Paso bridge and seek asylum, despite already being on the US side of the border. They were eventually permitted to pass. In both cases, CPB cited capacity issues as the reason for denying entry.

    […] Trump has doubled down on his stance that there is an increase in the number of asylum seekers because of “loopholes” that Democrats need to fix, WOLA reports that the majority of asylum seekers come from countries “ranking among the top five most violent countries in the world.”

    But that might not be enough for migrants to be granted asylum anymore. Last week, Sessions complicated the matter when he issued a ruling that migrants escaping gangs and domestic violence would not necessarily qualify for asylum. This change in policy could have a significant impact on families trying to cross the border, where the Trump administration is currently separating on average of 65 children a day from their families.


  248. says

    From U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May:

    On what we have seen in the United States, pictures of children being held in what appear to be cages are deeply disturbing. I clearly, wholly and unequivocally said it is wrong.

    But she is not cancelling Trump’s visit to the U.K.

  249. says

    The EO (from what Pete Williams has learned):

    – won’t end “zero tolerance”
    – will detain families together, presumably for as long as the process lasts (despite Flores which mandates max 20 days)

    Of course. And then they want legislation that will allow them to detain children with their parents indefinitely, plus other anti-human measures, which is totally unacceptable. But the separation needs to end immediately, so that’s paramount.

  250. says

    “Trump and Kirstjen Nielsen’s embarrassing surrender on separating families at the border”:

    The Trump administration insisted it didn’t have a policy of separating children from their parents at the border. It said that it was merely following the law. And it said “Congress alone can fix” the mess.

    It just admitted all that was nonsense — and that it badly overplayed its hand.

    Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who on Sunday and Monday insisted this wasn’t an actual a policy and that the administration’s hands were tied, will now have to untie them as the White House will reverse the supposedly nonexistent policy. Amid an outcry from Senate Republicans and a threat to fix the problem themselves — just as the White House had demanded — the Trump administration has drafted an executive action to change the policy and keep families united.

    Rarely has the White House so tacitly and unmistakably admitted to overplaying its hand. And rarely has it so blatantly copped to its own dishonesty about its actions. Nielsen, in particular, has a lot of explaining to do. But this whole thing is an extremely ugly chapter. And it makes clear that, from Day One, this was a political gambit to force an immigration bill through. It didn’t work.

  251. says

    Trevor Noah produced a good segment on Trump’s heartless and immoral border separation policies. Fox News’ backing of Trump is also covered, including comments about “Director of False Equivalencies, Tucker Carlson,” and about “Secretary of Inhumane Services, Laura Ingraham.” Bitter laughs. Black humor. Sharp points made. The video is 6:38 minutes long.

    Scroll down at the same link to see Stephen Colbert’s take on “defending caging children.” Colbert’s segment is 9:40 minutes long.

  252. says

    Yeah, Trump is signing an executive order to keep families together at the border, but he also said this:

    If you’re really pathetically weak the country is going to be overrun by millions of people, and if you’re strong then you don’t have any heart. Perhaps I’d rather be strong.

  253. blf says

    (Cross-posted from poopyhead’s current What would Liam Neeson do? thread, where people have also posted other relevant comments / excerpts.)

    Trump is 100% right: David Horowitz, the thinker [sic] who sponsored Stephen Miller:

    David Horowitz […] was feeling defensive on behalf of his friend and protege Stephen Miller, the 32-year-old architect of Donald Trump’s immigration policy.

    He’s a very smart young man, Horowitz said in an expletive-laden phone interview with the Guardian. Here’s the issue: should America, like every other fucking country in the world, particularly Mexico, have borders? That’s the issue. And the Democrats have just demagogued it to make it anti-immigrant. It’s bullshit.

    [… Jeff] Sessions and Miller share more than policy views: they share a mutual friend in Horowitz, who first met Miller when the younger man was still in high school, spoke at Duke University at Miller’s invitation in 2006, and who ultimately put Miller forward for a job in Sessions’s office when Sessions was a senator from Alabama.

    Miller, Sessions and […] Steve Bannon, were together at a 2014 awards ceremony in Florida hosted by Horowitz, who separately conferred an award on Bannon after he left his role as chief White House strategist.

    [… T]he astringency of Horowitz’s rhetoric on immigration and other issues, which has won him censure for extremist speech by the Southern Poverty Law Center, is readily recognizable from the podium in the White House briefing room, on television on the lips of Trump proxies such as the former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, and in the policy of family separation at the southern border.

    In an echo of a lie advanced by Trump, Horowitz denied that such a policy was in place, despite an explicit announcement of the policy by Sessions in April and elaborations by various administration figures since.

    It’s not a policy of family separation, said Horowitz. It’s the government’s hands are tied by Obama and the Democrats, so if a kid gets in, everybody gets in. It’s disgusting. It’s an abusive exploitation of these kids.

    While Horowitz’s most incendiary rhetoric these days aims at America’s racial and gender divides — he has said that women have different aptitudes than men in math […] and attacked African Americans killed by police as criminals who prey on black people — he is quick to lay down fire on the immigration issue, and to defend Miller.

    “There’s a fucking lynching going on here, and there’s a wolfpack that your newspaper is part of,” Horowitz said. […]

    Of his efforts to get Miller a job on Capitol Hill after Miller graduated from Duke, he said: I recommended Steve to Sessions. Steve’s a brilliant guy, he’s been working on immigration policy, it’s very clear that his view of immigration is exactly what it has been in this country for 200 years until Ted Kennedy revised all the fuckin’ laws. The Democrats did this. You can’t have a country with no borders. Trump is 100% right.

    Few share Horowitz’s view of Miller as a historic centrist on immigration, however, including Republicans on Capitol Hill. “As long as Stephen Miller’s in charge of negotiating immigration we’re going nowhere,” the Republican senator Lindsey Graham told an interviewer in January. “He’s been an outlier for years.”


  254. Chris J says

    @440 and 442:

    I’m really relieved right now. When I heard that Republicans were putting together a bill to stop family separation but also tack on a bunch of other immigration stuff, I thought the gambit had worked. I’m glad that the white house is just stopping the new practice now, and now it really is clear that the whole thing was a farce to use inhumane treatment of children to force policy changes.

    Best outcome. But fucking hell that was a terrifying moment…

  255. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage:

    […] migrant parents are traveling thousands of miles, fleeing violence and mass murder, traversing cartel country where they face more violence and mass murder, and if they’re lucky enough to make it to a border crossing — a legal one or an illegal one, depending on which one they can reach, which is not always their choice [Cartels often choose who gets to cross where.] — they cross and look for American border patrol agents so they can ask for a asylum, only to be arrested and have their babies stolen and put in “tender age” shelters. Don’t you feel proud to be an American right now?

    And will those babies ever see their parents again? Hahahahaha, nobody fucking knows. Maybe not! […]

    MSNBC’s Jacob Soboroff reported during Tuesday night’s Lawrence O’Donnell program that Donald Trump’s child abuse policies haven’t so far acted as a deterrent to those fleeing Central America in hopes of a better life. Because the journey can take weeks, the “no room at the inn” message just hasn’t quite gotten to everybody, we guess. Soboroff, who has covered border issues for many years, made a chilling prediction about what happens next, once the message goes out that America is stealing babies to use them as ransom for funding for Trump’s dumbass border wall — that migrants will start actually running from border patrol, and that the next images we’ll see will be of dead “tender age” children who don’t survive the trek. […]

    Chris Hayes made the point that Trump is playing a game of one-up-manship with cartels and gangs. Who can threaten and scare families more? Is it cartels kidnapping children? Is it Trump putting children in internment camps? Is it gangs threatening to kill children if they don’t do the gang’s bidding?

    From Jacob Soboroff:

    Deterrence has consequences.

    Migrants will stop seeking asylum with their families and instead try to run for it — crossing for days through dangerous routes in the deserts of Arizona or dense brush of South Texas.

    Think a baby can survive that?

  256. blf says

    As the Grauniad’s live blog points out (17:45 mark, quoted in full):

    An immediate concern for families, attorneys and advocates will be whether or not the government includes a system to reunite families in the executive order.

    There is currently no system in place to reunite families, including those where the parents have already been deported while the children are held in US government custody.

    Kids in Need of Defense (Kind), which has been working with separated children, said as recently as 12 June it had met with a two-year-old who was separated from her father in March. The father was deported within a month, but as of 12 June, the girl was still in the custody of the US government.

    They are also advocating for a four-year-old who was separated upon entry in Dec 2017. The father was deported and the daughter was still in custody as of 12 June.

    And earlier (15:19 mark):

    Advocates and attorneys are extremely concerned that there is no system for families to be reunited.

    John Sandweg, who led [Ice] from 2013 to 2014, has told reporters he expects hundreds of separated children will never be reunited with their parents.

    “Permanent separation. It happens,” Sandweg told NBC News.

    Separated adults are quickly being sent to immigration court, where they could be deported. Children, meanwhile, are low priority for immigration courts and may have to wait years before their case is heard.

    “You could easily end up in a situation where the gap between a parent’s deportation and a child’s deportation is years,” Sandweg said.

    Kids in Need of Defense (Kind), which has been working with separated children, told the Guardian one of their tactics for reuniting parents and children is putting educated guesses into the case tracking system in the hopes it would lead them to parents they were seeking.

    “You just play around: maybe the child’s number ends in five, so the adult’s number could end in six,” said Megan McKenna, Kind’s senior director of communications and community engagement. “So you put that in the system and see if you get a hit. Or it could be the other way around.”


  257. says

    From President Obama:

    […] And to watch those families broken apart in real time puts to us a very simple question: are we a nation that accepts the cruelty of ripping children from their parents’ arms, or are we a nation that values families, and works to keep them together? Do we look away, or do we choose to see something of ourselves and our children? […]

    Whether our families crossed the Atlantic, the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we’re only here because this country welcomed them in […]

    But we have to do more than say “this isn’t who we are.” We have to prove it – through our policies, our laws, our actions, and our votes, […]


  258. says

    Follow-up to comment 442.

    More inane and scary bloviation from Trump:

    The dilemma is that if you’re weak, if you’re weak — which some people would like you to be — if you’re really, really pathetically weak, the country is going to be overrun with millions of people.

  259. tomh says

    @ #446
    There is little doubt that many of these kids will never be reunited with their parents.
    From the NYT: Children Taken at the Border Arrive in New York

    At least 106 children have been sent to shelters in New York, the office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, which had confirmed the number with six of the nine shelters that contract with the federal government to take unaccompanied minors, said on Wednesday.

    A video captured by NY1 on Tuesday night showed a group of young girls being led in the darkness into a shelter in East Harlem run by Cayuga Centers, one of the agencies with a federal contract. The shelter also has contracts with the city and the state to house children. A director for Cayuga, when reached by phone Tuesday, said she was not able to comment because the contract prohibited her from speaking to the news media.

    More at the link, including, ““There is no system whatsoever to track these family separations, no efforts systematically to reunite these families,” Mr. Enriquez said. “There is no supervisor, there is no database saying, ‘child here, parent there,’ so they can come back together.”

  260. says

    ChrisJ @ #444:

    I’m glad that the white house is just stopping the new practice now, and now it really is clear that the whole thing was a farce to use inhumane treatment of children to force policy changes.

    Best outcome. But fucking hell that was a terrifying moment…

    To be clear, as far as I understand they’re ending the family separation but not the absurd “zero tolerance” policy (see #449 just above), which will undoubtedly mean that they’ll try to get around the Flores prohibition on holding children for more than 20 days. Family detention is undoubtedly better than separate detention, but it would still be insane and awful to be indefinitely detaining parents with children like that and the system will still be overloaded. The new approach will likely be challenged in court as well. (And the policy of releasing people with GPS ankle bracelets was working, so there’s no reason to detain them at all.) But it’s true that he was pressured to back down, which is what his “weak”/”strong” comments are about.

    So it appears to be a victory on the absolutely essential issue (I’ll wait until he signs the thing and I’ve read it), which is urgent, but they’re not backing down entirely. (I don’t see how congress is going to pass something along the lines the Trump gang likes, especially after he canceled the congressional picnic today, most likely to punish the Republicans for not just falling in behind him.)

  261. blf says

    As the ACLU points out: “[…] This crisis will not abate until each and every single child is reunited with his or her parent. An eleventh-hour executive order doesn’t fix the calamitous harm done to thousands of children and their parents. This executive order would replace one crisis for another. Children don’t belong in jail at all, even with their parents, under any set of circumstances. If the president [sic] thinks placing families in jail indefinitely is what people have been asking for, he is grossly mistaken.”

    Also (same link):

    Among those putting pressure on the Trump administration to end the family separation policy were major US airlines, American Air and United.

    In the past few days, people had been posting on social media about children being transported on these airlines flights. Within three days of being apprehended at the border, children are transported to shelters operated by the health department.

    Those shelters are all across the country, which is why they are transported by air. […]

    But American Air and United airlines have released statements clarifying they will not let the US government fly separated children on their aircraft.

    “We have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it,” American Air said in a statement. […]

  262. says

    “Trump Plans Executive Order to Allow Detaining Families Together Indefinitely”:

    President Trump is preparing to issue an executive order as soon as Wednesday that ends the separation of families at the border by indefinitely detaining parents and children together, according to a person familiar with the White House plans.

    Mr. Trump’s executive order would seek to get around an existing 1997 consent decree, known as the Flores settlement, that prohibits the federal government from keeping children in immigration detention — even if they are with their parents — for more than 20 days.

    Mr. Trump has for weeks refused to simply end his government’s “zero tolerance” policy that led to the separation of more than 2,300 children from their parents, saying that the alternative would be to fling open the nation’s borders and allow immigrants who cross the border illegally to remain in the country.

    But the president, furious about the pummeling he has taken in recent days, has been casting about for an escape from the crisis, people familiar with his thinking said….

    The order would keep families together, though it is unclear how Mr. Trump intends to claim the legal authority to violate what have been legal constraints on the proper treatment of children in government custody, which prevented former President Barack Obama from detaining families together during a similar flood of illegal immigration two years ago.

    And the president could quickly find himself the subject of another legal challenge to his executive authority, much the way he attacked Mr. Obama for abusing the power of his office with an immigration executive order in 2014.

    While Mr. Trump’s actions appear to stop short of calls for an end to the “zero tolerance” policy, it would be a remarkable retreat for a president who has steadfastly refused to apologize in almost any other context. And it would be a testament to the political power of the images of the immigrant children to move public opinion.

    Aides said that Mr. Trump is aware that his actions could once again be tied up in lengthy court battles. But the president and his allies believe that taking action would put pressure on Democrats by eliminating the criticism that Mr. Trump is separating children from their parents.

  263. says

    DHS spokesgoon: “It’s unfortunate that @AmericanAir , @united, and @FlyFrontier no longer want to partner with the brave men and women of DHS to protect the traveling public, combat human trafficking, and to swiftly reunite unaccompanied illegal immigrant children with their families….”

    Well done, airlines.

  264. says

    Cohen has resigned from the RNC Finance Committee to devote himself to his criminal defense:

    …In the letter, Cohen also attempted to detach himself from Trump for the first time, reportedly calling the separation of families at the U.S. border “heart wrenching.”‘

    “As the son of a Polish holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy is heart wrenching,” Cohen wrote, according to ABC. “While I strongly support measures that will secure our porous borders, children should never be used as bargaining chips.”…

  265. says

    AA statement, one of those prompting #454: “.@AmericanAir say it’s told the US govt to stop using the airline ‘for the purpose of transporting children who have been separated from their families due to the current immigration policy. We have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it’.”

  266. blf says

    On the statement quoted in @454 (also see @452):

    ● brave men and women of DHS: There undoubtedly are some, but “brave” is standing between a mother grizzly bear and her cubs.† It is not taking a crying baby / toddler from a scared person who may not have a good understanding of the language in which you are shouting.

    ● protect the traveling public: Ok, if there were Grizzles on a Plane, yeah, the people on the plane would probably need some protection. But it is the crying baby / toddler would needs the protection here.

    ● combat human trafficking: There could be some cases of trafficked children, but sending suspected victims to detention facilities is extremely unlikely to be a recommended course of action.

    ● swiftly reunite unaccompanied illegal immigrant children with their families: The children are not necessary guilty of anything, and the young ones cannot be guilty. So strike the illegal garbage. And then, of course, they are unaccompanied because your own “brave” goons separated them from their families. Finally, the flights are not, in the main, to-date, to reunite the families.

    For feck’s sake !


      † Also, in most cases, stupid. Although I suppose if it’s a choice of grizzly bears or a pea, the bears would seem less dangerous. (Superhero bravery would be to deter the bears with the pea.)

  267. says

    “Lawmakers Barred From Talking To Kids At Detention Facilities”:

    Members of Congress who visit detention facilities at the border aren’t allowed to talk to migrant children who have been taken from their parents and will be denied entry if they don’t give two weeks’ notice of a planned visit, per a new directive from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    In an email sent to all congressional offices on Wednesday, a senior HHS official says lawmakers are allowed to visit federal facilities holding children who have been separated from their families but are not allowed to interact with them or take any pictures of them or the surrounding conditions….

  268. says

    Melania may have influenced Trump’s decision to sign the executive order:

    First lady Melania Trump was instrumental in getting her husband to decide to sign an executive order and roll back his border separation policy, according to a Wednesday Washington Post report.

    According to an unnamed White House official, the first lady has “become even more vocal about her thoughts and opinions on the topic” since last weekend, when her spokesperson sent out a statement calling on both parties to solve the crisis.

    An official added that “from the start Mrs. Trump has been encouraging the President to do all he can to keep families together.”

    The Slovenian-born first lady’s own immigration lawyer, Michael Wildes, has also weighed in on the policy. “It reminds us of past mistakes. It’s a big disappointment,” he said. He reportedly added that the border separations remind him of Japanese internment and Nazi detention camps.

    Wildes took broader aim at the Trump administration’s immigration rhetoric, telling the Washington Post that the terms “anchor babies” and “chain migration” are an attempt “to try to change the narrative” and taint the “beautiful notion of family reunification” and the truth that immigrants “build up our economy and pay it forward to the next generation.” […]


  269. says

    Raising money for detained immigrants, (update on amount raised so far):

    California residents Charlotte and Dave Willner set a modest goal of just $1,500 — the minimum bond set for a single detained immigrant — on a Facebook donation page Saturday.

    Moved by the now-viral image of a 2-year-old Honduran girl wailing for her parents, they couple wanted to raise money for Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) a nonprofit organization that provides legal services to immigrant and refugee families in Texas.

    […][ “They have two key goals at this time: 1) directly fund the bond necessary to get parents out of detention and reunited with their children while awaiting court proceedings and 2) ensure legal representation for EVERY child in Texas’ immigration courts (last year, 76% of kids (over 13,000!) did not have representation)”

    Four days later, the Willners have raised over $10 million dollars from over 255,000 individuals at the time of publication, making it the single largest fundraising page in Facebook’s history. […]


  270. says

    More international condemnation of team Trump:

    […] the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein condemned the policy, saying, “The thought that any state would seek to deter parents by inflicting such abuse on children is unconscionable. I call on the United States to immediately end the practice of forcible separation of these children.” Amnesty International also called the policy “nothing short of torture.” The next day, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi also condemned the policy.

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that he “can’t imagine” what the families must be going through. “What’s going on in the United States is wrong. I can’t imagine what families living through this are enduring,” he told reporters. “This is not the way we do things in Canada.” […]


  271. says

    Antar Davidson is a former employee at Southwest Key, a chain of migrant shelters, who recently made headlines for talking about the cruel conditions at the facilities.

    […] When Trump’s zero-tolerance policy started being rolled-out, the kids who were coming into the center were so much more disturbed than the kids who had traveled to the US on their own: […] Inevitably, that led to them having a lot more needs. An organization like this has a big responsibility to these kids—that they will have the opportunity to be reunified with their parents and enter the public school system; ultimately, that they can succeed.

    But as Southwest Key’s CEO was getting rich, he was ignoring the responsibility, and doing the minimum. Over the past decade [starting under Obama], this organization has steadily seen an increase in the amount of federal funding they receive. The CEO and his wife together make more than $1 million annually, in part from federal tax money. That’s more than twice the presidential salary. While border apprehensions declined over that period, federal funding skyrocketed. That’s not a Trump problem. That was the previous administration. […]

    But the zero-tolerance policy is an inept tactic that the Trump administration is taking. It’s not a tactic that represents a clear understanding of the complexities of Latin America’s immigration situation. […] We’re facing a huge migratory wave as more and more areas of Latin America become de-stabilized.

    So when a shift leader told me to tell a group of kids they couldn’t hug, it confirmed to me something that I had been feeling for awhile: This wasn’t the humanitarian nonprofit that it was claiming to be. It was a private prison for youth that is extremely lucrative. One of the main characteristics of a system like that is a lack of compassion.

    The shift leader was completely ignoring the fact these kids had been separated from their mother, they were in a country where they didn’t speak the language, and these kids were responding to being told they were being pulled away from their own family. They were crying and holding each other for dear life, and here comes this shift leader and she thought it was appropriate to say, “Tell them they can’t hug! Tell them they can’t hug!” That’s only a rule you’d enforce if you saw these children not as children, but as a dollar amount. […]


  272. says

    What Trump said, in part, when he signed the executive order:

    I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated. I think anybody with a heart would feel strongly about it. We don’t like to see families separated. […]

    We are keeping a very powerful border and it continues to be a zero tolerance. We have zero tolerance for people that enter our country illegally.

  273. blf says

    Part 1 of 2: On the persecution of Roma in Europe (@344, @384, @398, and @409), the Grauniad has a short synopsis, Italy’s treatment of Roma people rooted in centuries-old prejudice:

    Persecution of the Roma in Europe dates back at least several hundred years. The Council of Europe details a history of extreme persecution including enslavement, forced sterilisation, separation from children and massacres.

    Roma have Indian roots, and migrated slowly westwards over hundreds of years, appearing in historical records from Europe by the 14th century. Originally nomadic, though now settled in many areas, they were first targeted by European officials over 500 years ago.

    “Roma were banned from the Holy Roman Empire in 1501 and, as of this date, could be caught and killed by any citizen,” the Council of Europe explains. In France less than two centuries later, Louis XIV ordered that all Gypsy[] men be condemned to forced labour for life without trial, women be sterilised and children be sent to poorhouses.


    Spain in 1749 launched an operation known as the “great Gypsy round-up”; Roma were enslaved in parts of what is now Romania until 1856. The Austro-Hungarian empire ran a fierce “assimilation” policy that involved separating children and parents, the Council of Europe explains.


    As late as the 1970s, Switzerland was taking children from their parents, arguing that they couldn’t educate them to be good citizens. A recent study in Britain found a huge rise in Romany and Traveller families having their children taken away, a trend blamed on institutional prejudice.

    This decade alone they have been segregated in schools in Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakian […]

      † On the use of the term “Gypsy”:

    An exonym (external name) based on the mistaken belief that the Romani people came from Egypt, the term Gypsy is loaded with negative connotations. Some dictionaries therefore either recommend avoiding the term entirely, or give it a negative or warning label. Careful speakers and most international organizations typically use Romani, Roma, or Rom, as designations for the people, although narrowly speaking, the last two designate a subgroup. However, Gypsy is more common in informal speech than Romani, and is used by some British laws and court decisions, because its offensiveness is not always understood by non-Romani, whose use of it is often not intended to cause offense. Further, some Romani organizations use “Gypsy” as a self-designation.

  274. says

    Good statement from Sen. Leahy:

    Today the American people, through their forceful and justified outrage, proved that people, joining together, can drive positive change even during the Trump administration. After weeks of false and conflicting justifications for requiring that children be torn from their parents at the border, the President backed down.

    But we must not be fooled. We need to ensure that the 2,500 children already separated are promptly reunited with their families. We must be clear that mass incarceration of families is not the answer — alternatives exist that have proven to be effective, less costly, and more humane. And the Attorney General needs to restore discretion to our federal prosecutors along the border. With limited resources, it makes absolutely no sense to delay civil immigration proceedings in order to criminally prosecute migrants with no criminal records, who pose no threat, and who are only seeking refuge from unimaginable violence and terror in their home countries.

    The President may cynically assert that protecting our borders requires abhorrent treatment of immigrant children and their parents. But that is as wrong as it is un-American. The President owns this.