Discuss: Political Madness All the Time

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

(Previous thread)


  1. says

    Jake Tapper: “It’s not an accident that the US government is making it so difficult for journalists, lawmakers, lawyers and others to bring you images and firsthand accounts from these separated parents and children. They are hiding the truth from you because they fear your reaction.”

  2. says

    Josh Marshall:

    Key issue: ICE and its union campaigned aggressively for Trump in 2016, with the demand to “let them do their jobs” and “enforce the law”, which is to say, enforce all available laws to the maximum degree possible. It’s a rogue agency.

    Hitler played the SA against the SS until it became advantageous to just murder the SA. (He was also perfectly happy to kill off his most loyal officials and diplomats, if it served his purpose.) These were some of his most loyal acolytes. ICE is committing crimes, and none of them should feel safe. No one has their back.

    Tim Snyder’s On Tyranny is as annoying as I’d expected (but I recommend The Road to Unfreedom), but the warning to beware paramilitaries is important.

  3. says

    (From last night:) “Two stories today: WaPo White House chief notes Trump is ‘echoing the words and images of the white nationalist movement to dehumanize immigrants and inflame racial tensions’…NYT runs piece about decline in ‘civility’ on both sides, noting people are angrily insulting Trump.”

  4. says

    I’ll just leave this here:

    [Ian] Bremmer went on to describe a bizarre incident toward the end of the summit, when Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined some of other the allies “to press Trump directly to sign the [group] communique that talked about the commitment to a rules-based international order.”

    “Trump was sitting there with his arms crossed, clearly not liking the fact that they were ganging up on him,” Bremmer said to the news outlet. “He eventually agreed and said OK, he’ll sign it. And at that point, he stood up, put his hand in his pocket, his suit jacket pocket, and he took two Starburst candies out, threw them on the table and said to Merkel, ‘Here, Angela. Don’t say I never give you anything.’ ”

    “The relationship is about as dysfunctional as we’ve seen between America and its major allies since the trans-Atlantic relationship really started after World War II,” Bremmer continued.

  5. says

    “Scott Pruitt Has Spent a Total of $4.6 Million on Security, New Disclosures Show — Including $1,500 on ‘Tactical Pants'”:

    Scandal-plagued Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has now spent more than $4.6 million from public coffers on security, according to documents obtained by The Intercept and Documented under the Freedom of Information Act. The amount represents a $1.1 million increase from Pruitt’s total security costs as released in another disclosure just a month ago.

    Pruitt’s high spending on security has become the subject of mounting criticism and a host of official investigations: Several EPA inspector general investigations have been opened, as well as an ongoing investigation by the Republican-controlled House Oversight Committee.

    Records released under the Freedom of Information Act list expenditures totaling $288,610 on a range of security-related items. The EPA, according to three expense line items for April, spent a total of $2,749.62 on “tactical pants” and “tactical polos.”

    Since last year, shortly after his Senate confirmation, Pruitt’s office began purchasing security-related items, including multiple vehicle leases, over $80,000 worth of radios, $700 in shoulder holsters for the radios, and a kit to break down doors, among other purchases.

    Despite the mounting criticism of Pruitt’s high spending, his security expenses have continued to rise. Security payroll spending for his office increased in the most recent quarter by $138,373 — totaling $742,205 and almost double the cost from the same period in 2017….

  6. says

    Finally some movement – “Sara Netanyahu, wife of Israeli PM, charged with fraud”:

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, was charged on Thursday with fraud for allegedly misusing state funds in ordering catered meals at their official residence, a court spokesperson said.

    The indictment charged that Netanyahu, along with a government employee, fraudulently obtained more than $100,000 for hundreds of meals supplied by restaurants, bypassing regulations prohibiting the practice if a cook is employed at the home.

    She was charged with aggravated fraud and breach of trust, according to the indictment released by the Justice Ministry to the media.

    A former deputy director of the prime minister’s residence is also charged in the case.

    Sara’s indictment marks the latest development in a series of scandals embroiling the Netanyahu family. In February, police recommended her husband be indicted on charges of corruption and bribery….

  7. says

    “Young immigrants detained in Virginia center allege abuse”:

    Immigrant children as young as 14 housed at a juvenile detention center in Virginia say they were beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete cells.

    The abuse claims against the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center near Staunton, Virginia, are detailed in federal court filings that include a half-dozen sworn statements from Latino teens jailed there for months or years. Multiple detainees say the guards stripped them of their clothes and strapped them to chairs with bags placed over their heads.

    In addition to the children’s first-hand, translated accounts in court filings, a former child-development specialist who worked inside the facility independently told The Associated Press this week that she saw kids there with bruises and broken bones they blamed on guards. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to publicly discuss the children’s cases.

    Many of the children were sent there after U.S. immigration authorities accused them of belonging to violent gangs, including MS-13. President Donald Trump has repeatedly cited gang activity as justification for his crackdown on illegal immigration.

    But a top manager at the Shenandoah center said during a recent congressional hearing that the children did not appear to be gang members and were suffering from mental health issues resulting from trauma that happened in their home countries — problems the detention facility is ill-equipped to treat.

    Most children held in the Shenandoah facility who were the focus of the abuse lawsuit were caught crossing the border illegally alone. They were not the children who have been separated from their families under the Trump administration’s recent policy and are now in the government’s care. But the facility there operates under the same program run by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement. It was not immediately clear whether any separated children have been sent to Shenandoah Valley since the Trump administration in April announced its “zero tolerance” policy toward immigrant families, after the lawsuit was filed.

    The Shenandoah lockup is one of only three juvenile detention facilities in the United States with federal contracts to provide “secure placement” for children who had problems at less-restrictive housing. The Yolo County Juvenile Detention Facility in California has faced litigation over immigrant children mischaracterized as gang members. In Alexandria, Virginia, a board overseeing the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Center voted this week to end its contract to house federal immigration detainees, bowing to public pressure.

    A hearing in the case is set for July 3 before a federal judge in the Western District of Virginia….

    Much more at the link.

  8. says

    Juliette Kayyem: “It’s clear that federal agencies have no idea what to do with the 2500+ kids. It’s shocking & immoral. This administration has made no plans for family reunification. The only headline today should be that the Trump administration refuses to reunite 2500+ kids w/ their families.”

  9. says

    This was an interesting interview yesterday, especially the mention of Russia:

    Donny Deutsch talks to Ari Melber about his conversation today with Michael Cohen. Deutsch reveals Michael Cohen used to believe he would never “turn” on Trump, but will ultimately do “what is best for him and his family”. Deutsch also reveals that Cohen’s secret tapes will make Trump “look bad” and that “missing links” with regards to Russia may come out of the Cohen investigation, noting, if he were Trump he would be “very worried right now”.

  10. says

    “Nation’s mayors, local superintendents to protest family separation policy in Tornillo”:

    Several mayors from across the nation will travel to Tornillo to protest the Trump Administration’s family separation policy, according to the United States Conference of Mayors.

    Mayors will arrive at the Tornillo port of entry on Thursday, June 21, at 8:45 a.m.

    A press conference will begin at 9 a.m.

    Last week during its 86th Annual Meeting, USCM unanimously passed a resolution registering its strong opposition to separating children from their families at the border.

    Several [school] superintendents of the El Paso area will also assist to another protest also at the Tornillo port of entry on Wednesday, June 20 at 10 a.m.

    The superintendents will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. to pledge their support for family unification for immigrant children.

  11. says

    “Mining to begin in national monument eliminated by Trump”:

    Canadian mining company, Glacier Lake Resources Inc., has announced that they have acquired rights to the “Colt Mesa” copper and cobalt mine located on lands eliminated from Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

    In December 2017, President Trump removed protections from nearly 1 million acres of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and 1.2 million acres of Bears Ears National Monument, both located in Utah. The move amounted to the largest elimination of protected areas in U.S. history. Within Trump’s proclamation was a provision that in February 2018, the areas excluded from the monuments would become open to private mineral companies to begin staking mining and drilling claims.

    “[T]he Colt Mesa project is a welcome addition to the Company’s ever growing portfolio of projects,” Saf Dhillon, president and chief executive officer of Glacier Lake Resources, said in a press release. “Surface exploration work will start this summer on the Colt Mesa property and drill permitting will be initiated shortly.”

    Shortly after Trump’s executive order, Native American tribes, scientists, and conservation and historic preservation organizations filed suit against the administration, arguing that only Congress — not the president — has the power to reduce the size of national monuments. Members of the lawsuit claim the excluded lands remain part of a national monument and are legally closed to mining.

    If the ongoing lawsuit rules that the boundaries of the monuments remain in effect, mining claims could be overturned.

    The Administration’s efforts to sell out America’s national monuments is deeply unpopular with most Americans. During the Department of the Interior’s 60-day comment period on the topic, more than 2.8 million people submitted comments — 98 percent of which expressed support for maintaining or expanding national monuments.

  12. says

    Great article – “Trump aide Stephen Miller, meet your great-grandfather, who flunked his naturalization test”:

    A photo of Nison (aka Max) Miller stares out from the screen, sullen and stern, in faded black and white. “Order of Court Denying Petition” is the title of the government form dated “14th November 1932,” to which it is attached, the one in which Miller is applying for naturalization as an American citizen.

    And beneath the photo, the reason given for his denial: Ignorance.

    Nison Miller is the great-grandfather of White House adviser Stephen Miller, who has taken credit for being one of the chief architects of the administration’s family separation policy. And this 85-year-old document is just one bit of ammunition in a campaign being waged by the unofficial band that goes by the hashtag #Resistance Genealogy.

    Believing that the past is prologue, they search online archives for nuggets about the ancestors of public figures and politicians who disparage today’s immigrants. They use tools they developed as a personal hobby to make the point that people like Miller are holding newcomers to a standard that their own forebears could not meet.

    “The point isn’t to play ‘gotcha,’” says Renee Stern Steinig, a former president of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Long Island, who first found the Miller naturalization application last summer. “It’s to show that we are a nation of immigrants, and you are here because someone else picked up and came here for a better life.”…

  13. blf says

    Not content with threatening the Roma and the Vatican, Italy’s new nazi government is also now threatening its critics, Matteo Salvini threatens to remove Gomorrah author’s police protection:

    Roberto Saviano has escort to protect him from mafia, but has criticised interior minister

    Matteo Salvini, Italy’s far-right interior minister, has threatened to remove the police protection of one of the country’s most famous writers, Roberto Saviano, who has been under threat from organised crime since his breakthrough success about the mafia, Gomorrah, was published in 2006.

    Saviano is one of Salvini’s toughest critics and is a constant fixture on Italian media. He is one of hundreds of journalists and writers who are under constant guard in Italy, because of current or previous threats to their safety by the mafia.


    Earlier this week Saviano wrote a piece for the Guardian in which he said Italy’s war on migrants had made him fear for the future of his country.

    Saviano’s supporters and some leading politicians immediately criticised Salvini’s comments, saying the statement was an abuse of Salvini’s power as interior minister and threatened the country’s democratic values.

    Writing for the Guardian[], Saviano thanked supporters for showing solidarity, but said the fight was not really about him: he was only being used as an instrument for Salvini to “destroy the rule of law”.


    In Italy, [Saviano’s] frequent commentary on television and newspaper columns, and his frequent criticism of Italian society and political corruption, has also annoyed some. In taking on Saviano, Salvini seems to be siding with those Italians who think the writer has been too critical.


    The article points out Salvini “has control of Italy’s domestic security, as well as insight into police investigations and domestic surveillance.” However, according to several cited sources, “there were strict and transparent procedures in place dictating police protection and for whom it was offered.”

      † My added link. For some reason, Saviano’s latest column wasn’t linked-to, despite being referenced. From his newest column, Matteo Salvini is threatening me mafia-style. But I’m not afraid (link at -mark in above excerpt):

    Living under around-the-clock police protection is a tragedy. Italy has more journalists in this situation than any other western country. This is because Italy has the most powerful and dangerous criminal organisations in the world. But instead of freeing journalists from the dangers they face, Matteo Salvini, the interior minister, threatens them.

    By raising the possibility of removing my police escort, Salvini is signalling my place in the long list of his enemies.

    His enemies are the Italians of the south, the Italians he does not deal with and will never do. His enemies are the Africans living in Italy, the Indians living in Italy, the Pakistanis living in Italy. His enemies are girls and boys born in Italy to foreign parents. His enemy is the Roma community, all the Roma. His enemies are those foreigners who he wants to kick out of Italy and those Italians who no doubt Salvini would want to kick out, but who have to stay. Among these Italians forgotten by politics and institutions, is me.


    Words are important. The words of the minister of the interior are mafia-type words. The mafias threaten. Salvini is threatening me.

    Salvini talks about money. He says he wants to save money by removing my police protection. Salvini should start talking about the frozen bank accounts of his League party. […]

    […] I am not scared by a fool who was afraid even of travelling too far south in Italy until a few years ago.

    We have to talk today in Italy, we have to discuss the situation. But not with Salvini: he is a buffoon and talking to buffoons is a waste of time.

    Salvini wants to win by threatening. Italians of my stamp want to convince through communication, by talking. We must talk to the people of the League party who are horrified by the words and actions of their leader. We must talk to the parties which allied during the elections with Salvini; to those who entered into coalition with Salvini; and to those who are on the receiving end of a man who cannot do anything but threaten.

    This unscrupulous, cynical man must not be allowed to arm (literally) the forces of intolerance.

    Those who remain silent now will be guilty for ever.

    Salvini is so out-classed “buffon” is a compliment.

  14. blf says

    Not exactly political so a bit off-topic… There’s this stuff called “iced coffee” which is allegedly a drink but is actually banned under all known chemical and biological weapons treaties, and is also banned for use as a land mine (just to make sure). Amazing, people actually buy and drink it. I did try one once a long long time ago (last century, when they were still a rare novelty (at least where I was at the time)). I not only didn’t finish it and spat out what I hadn’t swallowed, but swore I would never ever have one again, even when, say, threatened with a pea or a republican. I’m not the only one who viscerally hates it, Put down your iced coffee and stop torturing your taste buds: “Whatever mass delusion that has convinced Americans that drinking watery, cold coffee that neither truly refreshes nor truly perks you up needs to end”.

    It seems the stuff is an ecological disaster as well,
    Iced coffee is ruining the environment — and your body
    : “From plastic straws to almond milk, the season of cold brews is officially ruining the planet”. Unfortunately, the meat, so to speak, of the article is a graphic, so no excerpt per se. Also, the “officially” in the quoted teaser is not-explained, nor are any sources cited, and I haven’t bothered to verify the claims (perhaps motivated reasoning here as I obviously concur the stuff should not exist). However, one alternative suggestion has me spluttering: “[… T]ry Ripple, a pea-based milk alternative that is more sustainable than most nut milks.”

    Um, excuse me — pea-based!? Pea-based!!!1! I think I’d rather eat a Dalek.

    (Actually, sustainable production for the stuff seems plausible, but nonetheless, it’s a fecking pea!)

  15. says

    A link back to SC’s comment, (in the previous chapter of this thread), in which the team Trump plan to merge the Labor and Education departments is discussed.

    Yes, I know, such a merger is madness. Nevertheless, team Trump is forging ahead.

    In other news: In CNN’s new national poll, Democrats lead Republicans on the generic congressional ballot, 50% to 42%. The eight-point difference is up from a three-point lead that Democrats had in the same poll last month.

    And in other, other news, here is an update on Trump’s trade war: China tariffs on U.S. soybeans could cost Iowa farmers up to $624 million. Des Moines Register link

    First Lady Melania Trump is in Texas. Let’s hope she actually meets some migrant families. So far, various talking heads are lecturing her.

  16. says

    From the breaking news about Melania Trump’s visit to the border:

    First lady Melania Trump on Thursday traveled to Texas to visit immigrant children in detention facilities as a result of the Trump administration’s family separation policy.

    President Trump made the announcement during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

    Melania Trump’s office later said in a statement she made the trip to “take part in briefings and tours” at a facility run by a nonprofit.

    “Her goals are to thank law enforcement and social services providers for their hard work, lend support and hear more on how the administration can build upon the already existing efforts to reunite children with their families,” her office said.


  17. blf says

    Why Trump thinks domestic violence victims don’t deserve asylum:

    If there is one theme to the Trump administration’s immigration rules, largely crafted by Jeff Sessions and the White House policy adviser Stephen Miller, it is this: target the most vulnerable.

    We saw that at play in the egregious policy […] of separating children from their parents at the border, and warehousing them in cages where they cry for their parents. And we see it in a less-remarked-upon policy shift, too: Sessions’s directive to refuse grants of asylum to women fleeing domestic violence.

    To hear Trump tell it, these increasingly authoritarian immigration rules are to protect Americans from the bad hombres coming across the border. And transnational gangs like MS-13 are a real threat and do real violence. It’s telling, though, that the Trump immigration policies don’t do anything to target these potentially dangerous men. Instead, they pick off the lowest-hanging fruit: women and children.

    […] Sessions classifies intimate partner violence as private, and leveled against women for personal reasons. That’s significant because obtaining a grant of asylum requires that the asylum seeker show they are persecuted for their race, religion, political views, national origin, or membership in a particular social group. While of course some men suffer domestic violence as well, and some women are perpetrators, overwhelmingly it is women who are abused at the hands of men — it’s not just “domestic violence”, it’s gender-based violence, perpetrated because men believe they have a right of absolute control over women, and often ignored by law enforcement because, like Sessions, police and governments all over the world considered raping and beating your wife or girlfriend a private, personal matter.


    Not every victim of a crime is entitled to asylum — most are not. But when a particular kind of crime is leveled against a particular group of people because of their membership in that group, and when a nation’s government refuses to get involved, that is what asylum is for. Sessions, because of his deep antipathy toward immigrants and his misogynistic worldview that domestic violence is a private family matter, has undercut this promise of safe harbor — and taken a law meant for protection and turned it into a cudgel of sexist cruelty.

    According to the Vox article cited & linked-to in the above except, Jeff Sessions just all but slammed the door on survivors of domestic violence and gang violence:

    […] Jeff Sessions issued a ruling Monday [11 June] in an immigration case, Matter of A- B- [PDF], that will make it hard or even impossible for Central Americans fleeing gang violence in their home countries, and women fleeing domestic violence, to get asylum in the US — or even be allowed to stay in the US to seek asylum instead of being summarily deported.


    Sessions is using his traditional, but rarely used, powers of self-referral to reshape the way immigration courts work. The new ruling will have an immediate impact on tens of thousands of cases currently in the pipeline.

    It could even trap some of the families separated in the past few weeks by the Trump administration’s new zero-tolerance border policy — depriving the parents of any way to stay in the country, and drastically reducing their chances of relocating their children before they’re deported.

  18. says

    From the text quoted by blf in comment 25:

    […] To hear Trump tell it, these increasingly authoritarian immigration rules are to protect Americans from the bad hombres coming across the border. And transnational gangs like MS-13 are a real threat and do real violence. It’s telling, though, that the Trump immigration policies don’t do anything to target these potentially dangerous men. Instead, they pick off the lowest-hanging fruit: women and children. […]

    Team Trump has shown over and over again that they are bullies who pick on the most vulnerable people. And, any follow-up that team Trump does, or should do, is marred by incredible incompetence and lack of foresight.

    As part of this picture of incompetence, we are now seeing that Republican representatives in the House of Congress simply cannot deal effectively with immigration issues. Even when they stop ignoring the issue and start attempting to write and pass bills, they can’t do it.

    Hardline conservative Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) summed things up pretty neatly when asked if the GOP’s big immigration bills were likely to pass on Thursday: “No.”

    That’s the consensus from most Republican lawmakers, who have been whipsawed by President Trump’s erratic behavior on immigration and stymied by their own inability to land on a compromise bill that can get 218 votes in the House. […]

    The House plans to vote on two immigration bills on Thursday: One conservative bill that would give President Trump almost all he has asked for on border security while offering a more onerous process for undocumented immigrants brought here as children to stay in the country legally, and a compromise bill that’s still a moving target just hours before the vote itself, but would offer much of what Trump wants as well as a more permanent fix for the DREAMers. […]

    Even as conservatives made it clear the bill wasn’t going to get the support from the right that’s needed, some of the more centrist members also began to peel off, further dooming the bills.

    “I have long advocated for securing our nation’s borders and providing a permanent legislative fix for DACA recipients, but this proposal does not accomplish either goal,” Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX), a leader of the pro-immigration Republicans, said in a statement. […]

    Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID), a retiring Freedom Caucus member and immigration expert, made it clear that Trump has not been helpful in the process, saying his attacks against Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) during his Tuesday meeting that was supposed to be a rally for the immigration bills had done the opposite, calling it “unfortunate.”

    “The president needs to understand that that may have actually lost him votes at this meeting,” he said. “The reason he was there was to emphasize he had our backs and I think a different message was sent that day.”


    Meanwhile, Melania Trump is in Texas where she said more than once that she wants to reunite families. The fact that her husband and his cronies have no plan to reunite families is going to hamper her plans. Still, maybe she can jolt Hair Furor into action.

  19. says

    From former federal ethics chief Walter Shaub, regarding Melania Trump’s visit to the border:

    This photo op press conference is a load of crap! This is the biggest flim flam con job! Shame on everyone involved!

    No talk about how they’re going to return kids whose parents have been deported. No explanation of how identities are recorded and their parents are tracked.

    This is pure propaganda. They hope schmaltz is the opiate of the masses.

    From Melania Trump:

    “We all know they’re here without their families and I want to thank you for your hard work, your compassion and your kindness you’re giving them in this difficult time,” she said. “I’d also like to ask you how I can help these children to reunite with their families as quickly as possible.”

    She later asked how long children typically stay in the facility and what kind of activities they do.

    “This is their home,” one of the staffers told her. “They refer to these as shelters, but it is really a home for the children.”

  20. says

    Follow-up to comment 28.

    As the first lady spoke with officials at a detention facility for immigrant minors on the border about reuniting children with their parents on Thursday afternoon, […] Trump told reporters that he’s directed his Cabinet officials to reunite the families his administration ripped apart in the first place. […]

    “I signed a very good executive order yesterday but that’s only limited,” he said. “No matter how you cut it, it leads to separation ultimately. I’m directing HHS, DHS and DOJ to work together to keep illegal immigrant families together during the immigration process and reunite these previously separated groups.”

    He then went on to blame the Obama administration for the family separation policy, despite the fact that his administration enacted the “zero tolerance” policy that has led to an uptick in the arrests and criminal charges being brought against anyone caught crossing the border illegally. […]

    Before his comments on Thursday, it was unclear whether the administration planned to make efforts to reunite those already separated from their parents.


    They should have had a plan to reunite families before they started separating families. They should have never separated families in the first place. It’s a Trumpian clusterfuck.

  21. says

    From total dunderhead Representative Pete King, a Republican from New York:

    Americans care more about Americans.

    I think it will tone down. This immediate crisis seems to be going away. And if they aren’t arresting families every weekend, then yeah, it’s going away, from the public eye. And if it’s not in the public eye, if you don’t have the dramatic footage, there is always another issue that comes along. There’s a new issue every week.

    The President is absolutely right that we should be detaining more of these people. You need some deterrent so they don’t think that anyone who wants to come across the border, as long as they have children, can do so. On the other hand, we shouldn’t be doing it unless we have all the structures in place to accommodate the families right away.

    He thinks he and other Republicans are not going to pay a price for this in November. He is wrong.

  22. says

    From Hair Furor:

    Why don’t the Democrats give us the votes to fix the world’s worst immigration laws? Where is the outcry for the killings and crime being caused by gangs and thugs, including MS-13, coming into our country illegally?

    From Ted Cruz, via Steven Dennis:

    Ted Cruz urged Democrats to tone down their rhetoric on immigration, saying it’s not conducive to finding a bipartisan solution.


  23. says

    From Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer:

    The administration has the authority and the resources to immediately begin the process of family reunification. Any delay in doing so is simply unacceptable. We request that the administration present its plan to Congress and the country as soon as possible, and immediately begin steps to implement it.

    Such a plan must include:
    – Steps to fully undo the “zero tolerance” policy, which has created such a crisis;
    – Immediate action to reunify families; and
    – When reunited, your Administration must quickly present alternatives to detention.

    These alternatives, which have a proven track record, are significantly cheaper for taxpayers than the artificially-prolonged incarceration of asylum seekers that only enriches private companies in the business of running prisons.

    For the sake of the children, we strongly urge you to begin this process today.

  24. says

    Things could get worse if the Supreme Court rules the wrong way:

    The Trump administration’s position in Trump v. Hawaii, the Muslim Ban case, is that “aliens outside the United States seeking a visa or initial admission have no constitutional rights at all regarding entry into the country.” […]

    The Trump litigation [claims] America’s borders are a civil rights-free zone. […] the president claims that he was acting in the interest of “national security.”

    Should Trump ultimately prevail in this lawsuit — and the Court’s Republican majority appeared likely to hand him a victory at last April’s oral argument — Trump will almost certainly read the decision as a green light to commit greater atrocities against immigrants. Though there are legal distinctions between the Muslim Ban case and the arguments supporting the family separation policy Trump implemented earlier this year, the Court’s history is riddled with cases where the justices turned their back on a marginalized group — and authoritarian actors treated that decision as a license to go buck-wild.

    […] the Trump administration already plans to ask the courts for a broad license to detain immigrant children. […] directs Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to ask a court to modify a settlement the government agreed to in 1997 — the “Flores agreement” — “in a manner that would permit the Secretary, under present resource constraints, to detain alien families together throughout the pendency of criminal proceedings for improper entry or any removal or other immigration proceedings.” […]

    If the Supreme Court upholds the Muslim ban, many lower courts are likely to read that as a signal that the nation’s highest court no longer wants them to pay particular heed to the rights of immigrants. The Trump administration, meanwhile, is likely to feel emboldened to push harsher policies. And Trump’s supporters — well, if history is any guide, there is a danger they could also feel emboldened to take matters into their own hands. [….]


    Much more at the link.

  25. says

    Well, in a way, this is good news: at least the ultra conservative immigration bill didn’t pass.

    House Republican leaders decided to delay a vote on their immigration bill in the face of near-certain defeat, kicking the can down the road one more day as the chamber failed to pass a more conservative alternative to the bill Thursday afternoon.

    The conservative bill, authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), mustered just 193 votes. All Democrats and dozens of Republicans rejected it because of its onerous limits on allowing undocumented immigrants brought here as children to stay in the country.

    The other, slightly less conservative version appears destined to a similar fate, with dozens of hardline conservatives and a handful of GOP moderates saying they’ll vote against the bill, thus promising its failure. […] Republicans have failed to coalesce around immigration reform for more than a decade, and haven’t been able to agree on a solution even on broadly popular concepts like the one these bills were aimed at addressing — giving the undocumented immigrants brought here as children legal standing after President Trump’s move to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

    The two different bills also sought to handle another Trump-manufactured crisis: The forced separation of migrant families at the border.

    The GOP’s failure to address the issue stems partly from Trump’s erratic and bellicose behavior on immigration, as well as his unpredictable and inconsistent support of congressional Republicans’ attempts to clean up the mess he made. It’s also been stymied by conservative Freedom Caucus members’ refusal to compromise and support legislation, even on a so-called compromise bill that they were intimately involved in crafting that closely tracks with Trump’s own demands on immigration policy.

    House moderates have also failed to get the votes needed to join Democrats to force a clean vote on the DREAM Act. […]


  26. says

    Here’s a mistake that could have been avoided:

    First lady Melania Trump on Thursday visited unaccompanied migrant children in a shelter in McAllen, Texas, a sign of goodwill and compassion even as her husband refuses to address the thousands of families already separated as a result of his “zero tolerance” prosecution policy.

    Yet, the jacket Melania Trump wore on her way to McAllen quickly caused a stir.

    Bitch Media identified the coat the first lady was wearing as she climbed the stairs to her plane: “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” it reads. […]

    Reached for comment Thursday, Stephanie Grisham, a spokeswoman for the first lady, told TPM: “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message. After today’s important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn’t going to choose to focus on her wardrobe.” […]

  27. says

    All the best people.

    This is from New Jersey Republican House candidate Seth Grossman:

    Our nation was founded in 1776 with the idea that we are all created equal and endowed by our creator with equal and unalienable rights. If you want to know where this evil and un-American perversion of “diversity” will take us, go to Afghanistan, Lebanon, or Syria. Those countries are divided into dozens of diverse groups with different languages, different religions, and different ethnic groups who hate each other, are afraid of each other and who kill each other.

    The greatness of America is not “diversity” as virtue or end result. The greatness of America is overcoming diversity to create one united nation with single language, Constitution, and culture of liberty. In our American culture of liberty and equal opportunity, we must judge, hire, promote, and reward everyone by his or her own talent, character, work, and achievement– not by checking off diversity boxes.

    Until the Civil War, most adult men and women were married and considered themselves a single economic and social unit who made most decisions together. Progressives who expected radical change were surprised to see little or no change in election outcomes when women started voting. […]


    The New Jersey GOP, a former adviser to Gov. Chris Christie and the NAACP have all condemned Grossman for his comments.

  28. says

    Update on Paul Manafort’s court battles:

    A federal judge Thursday rejected former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s bid to suppress key evidence from his upcoming criminal trial.

    U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson sided with special counsel Robert Mueller and against a motion from Manafort lawyers who argued that materials the FBI seized last May from a self-storage owned by Manafort’s firm were taken in violation of Manafort’s constitutional rights. […]


  29. says

    John Bolton in Moscow. What could go wrong?

    […] “On June 25-27, U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton will meet with U.S. allies in London and Rome to discuss national security issues, and travel to Moscow to discuss a potential meeting between Presidents Trump and Putin,” National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said in a tweet, following reports in Russian media that Bolton would make the trip to Moscow. […]


    Looks like we heard about this first from Russian media.

  30. says

    From Michael Avenatti:

    We are now representing whistleblowers within ICE, outside contractors, etc. They have reached out to us to provide us with info as to what is really going on. We are going to blow this wide open and take the info to the American people so they can decide what happens next.

    Hmmm. This should be interesting.

  31. says

    It sure looks like Trump is lying about his agreement with Kim Jong Un

    It’s also possible Trump doesn’t know what he agreed to.

    President Donald Trump either doesn’t know what he agreed to with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week or he’s lying about it.

    At a rally in Duluth, Minnesota, on Wednesday, Trump defended his decision to meet with Kim, bragging that he extracted a major concession from the dictator: “Sentence one says ‘a total denuclearization of North Korea,’” Trump said. “There will be denuclearization. So that’s the real story.”

    […] That’s not true.

    Here’s what the first sentence of the agreement Trump and Kim signed last week actually says: “President Donald J. Trump of the United States of America and Chairman Kim Jong Un of the State Affairs Commission of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) held a first, historic summit in Singapore on June 12, 2018.”

    Okay, so Trump’s boast about it being the “first sentence” was clearly wrong. But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and say he misspoke. What he was obviously trying to convey was that he got Kim to agree to completely dismantle his country’s nuclear program, and that it will eventually happen.

    Well, here’s what the joint agreement says on that: “Chairman Kim Jong Un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” It shortly afterward adds a vital caveat: “[T]he DPRK commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

    That is not the same as Kim agreeing to “a total denuclearization of North Korea.” Not at all. Not even close.

    And it’s not just some picky semantic distinction here: Kim committing to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula (which he did) and Kim committing to the complete denuclearization of North Korea (which he didn’t) are two very different things.

    “Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” is a phrase the North Koreans like to use a lot. What they mean by it: Pyongyang is willing to dismantle its nuclear program — if and only if South Korea also denuclearizes.

    But South Korea doesn’t actually have its own nukes. What it does have, though, is what’s called the US “nuclear umbrella.” […]

    So what North Korea is essentially saying here is, “Sure, we’ll give up our nukes. Just as soon as you (Trump) withdraw all US military support for South Korea.” […]

    What’s worse, North Korea only promised to “work toward” that goal, not actually reach it. […]

    It’s worth noting that earlier accords the US and North Korea signed were much stronger on the denuclearization issue. […]

    It’s not surprising that something Trump said turned out to be false. But it’s very troubling if he is actually unaware of what he and Kim shook hands on. […]

  32. says

    Sinclair forced its TV stations to air pro-Trump propaganda on family separation

    The Sinclair Broadcasting Group — the pro-Trump media conglomerate — […] regularly forces its 193 local stations to air a segment by former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn. His most recent segment (flagged by Media Matters) took on the family separation crisis on the border that has dominated the news for several days.

    The crisis was sparked by the Trump administration’s recent decisions to jail asylum-seeking parents for illegally crossing the border, which led to their children being separated into detention centers.

    But Epshteyn saw something different in the media coverage of the crisis:

    Many members of the media and opponents of the president have seized on this issue to make it seem as if those who are tough on immigration are somehow monsters. Let’s be honest: While some of the concern is real, a lot of it is politically driven by the liberals in politics and the media.


    It’s reminiscent of the way propaganda works in places like Hungary, where government-friendly stories “appear almost simultaneously across several platforms and feature near-identical headlines,” according to a recent Reuters report.

    Sinclair currently owns 193 stations, which reach 39 percent of US viewers. It might soon reach 72 percent of Americans if its purchase of Tribune Media goes through. […]


  33. says

    I’m still finding it hard to accept that the US government intentionally separated 2300 children, including babies, from their parents and put them in detention centers, and that people are saying some might not be reunited. Why isn’t this a national emergency?

    I was looking for an old post on my blog yesterday, which I didn’t find but I did come across this one. The stealing of babies in rightwing dictatorships in Spain, Argentina, and Chile to give them to rich or politically connected families is seen as an unimaginable horror and crime with consequences still today, decades later; and here they weren’t stolen for adoption, but to put in jails for the cruelest motives. It’s a nightmare.

  34. says

    SC @41, from Wonkette’s coverage of the jacket:

    […] Melania Trump’s spokesman confirms to Acosta, with a little reminder to us NOT TO BE SEXIST like a COMMON MICHELLE WOLF.

    FLOTUS spox confirms Mrs. Trump wore a jacket to visit border kids that reads: “I really don’t care. Do you?” Spox says: “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message. After today’s important visit to Texas, I hope the media isn’t going to choose to focus on her wardrobe.”

    That is a very true thing! Sometimes we don’t shut up about Hillary Clinton’s Mao jackets and how they are covering up her spina bifida and Down syndrome, and forget to focus on her policies of Not Putting Babies In Concentration Camps. And other times, a former fashion model can’t be held responsible for LITERALLY WEARING AN ‘I DON’T CARE’ JACKET while she is going to see those same babies.

    So, you know, eat me.

  35. says

    The NRA went after Rachel Maddow for showing compassion on live TV:

    Rachel Maddow you are one of the most dishonest, disgusting people I’ve ever seen,” Former U.S. Army Ranger and NRATV Frontlines correspondent Chuck Holton declared on Wednesday. The night before, during her MSNBC broadcast, Maddow began to read an Associated Press report that broke while she was on the air. The account of “tender age” detention centers meant to house toddlers and infants ripped away from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border left Maddow in tears, unable to mumble the harrowing details. […]

    In response to the most-watched progressive pundit breaking down in tears over caged children, NRATV, the digital video arm of the National Rifle Association, went on the attack.

    Grant Stinchfield has a question for Rachel Maddow: Where are your tears for America’s children? Watch NRATV at 10 CT/ 11 ET as @stinchfield1776 addresses @maddow’s latest #MSM stunt LIVE.

    NRATV’s Grant Stinchfield demanded to know “Where’s Rachel Maddow’s tears Nisa Mickens? Her dead body was found on the side of the street, brutally beaten, a day before her 16th birthday. She was gruesomely beaten to death by MS-13 gang members. They used machetes and bats. Her face was so badly beaten, authorities said she her body was barely recognizable when found . . . Rachel Maddow, your tears show me, you care more about the lives of MS-13 gang members, than you do about the American children they murder.” […]


    More at the link, including several despicable video excerpts from NRA TV.

  36. says

    Sam Stein: “seriously though. It’s just a jacket. Let’s move on to other things.”

    I’m not focused on it, but I can’t agree with this. It’s also “just a hijab” and “just a pantsuit.” Women are well aware that even if people don’t listen to us they pay attention to our clothing, even if it doesn’t literally have words on it, which the jacket did.

  37. says

    Adam Schiff: “Secretary Nielsen privately told lawmakers the Administration may go back to separating children from their parents. Congress must ensure that NEVER happens. I’m urging the House Appropriations Committee to prevent funds from ever being used to separate families entering the US:”

  38. blf says

    I recently mentioned Bruce Cockburn’s If I had a rocket launcher (Trigger Warning: Very intense video !), which begins with the lines: “Here comes the helicopter / Second time today / Everybody scatters / And hopes it goes away / How many kids they’ve murdered / Only God can say…” — which is essentially what just happened in Brazil, Brazilian teenager dies after police helicopter strafes favela: “Witnesses say helicopter fired into a densely populated area near a school, striking a 14-year-old boy who later died in a hospital”. The ‘copter was apparently a “police helicopter [that] fired indiscriminately into a densely populated area near a school — an accusation supported by cellphone footage.”

    (I’m sorry, I am too enraged and saddened to continue. And, tonight was Fête de la Musique, which is a grand fun time — also involving lots of alcohol — and coming back and reading of a slum being strafed by the fecking police is simply more than I can handle… Quoting Mr Cockburn’s song again: “I don’t believe in hate / I don’t believe in generals / Or their stinking torture states…”)

  39. says

    !!! – “What does the British government know about Trump and Russia?” (emphasis added):

    …So how might Britain be sucking up to Trump? A Labour MP, Ben Bradshaw, thinks that the government has not always done all it can to assist the Mueller inquiry into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia. Bradshaw was the minister in charge of the Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6, and has doggedly pursued allegations about Russian meddling in other people’s elections. ‘I’m told that Mueller’s team were over here late last year and they weren’t happy with the level of cooperation they were getting,’ he said. Another source, with links to the ‘intelligence community’, said this was continuing, even after the Skripal poisoning.

    These claims — of a decision to go slow with Mueller, driven by expediency — have not been confirmed, but if true, the government may have miscalculated….

    The most important ‘British connection’ is, of course, Christopher Steele, the former MI6 officer whose ‘dossier’ is the road map for the US inquiry. After he wrote it, Steele asked the retired head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove what he should do and was advised that the US authorities had to be told. Dearlove’s partner in a forum for intelligence professionals at Cambridge University was Professor Stefan Halper, apparently a long-standing CIA ‘asset’. Halper was used by the FBI to get close to George Papadopoulos, an aide on the Trump campaign. Papadopoulos was drinking in a Kensington wine bar with the Australian High Commissioner and told him that Russia had supplied ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton. Hearing about the conversation, the then director of the FBI, James Comey, began a counter-intelligence investigation with the CIA.

    That is the cover story, anyway: a US intelligence official told me there were ‘many gathering clouds’ in the summer of 2016. Among them might be GCHQ’s intercepts of Trump’s associates talking to Russians….

    Then there’s Cambridge Analytica…. An American lawyer I know told me that he was approached by a Cambridge Analytica employee after the election. They had had the Clinton emails more than a month before they were published by WikiLeaks: ‘What should I do?’ Take this to Mueller, the lawyer replied.

    There is another (alleged) British connection: the US media reports that former Ukip leader Nigel Farage is a ‘person of interest’ to the Mueller team…

    After President Trump’s shock election victory, I’m told that Steele briefed his old colleagues in the British intelligence apparatus. His material was taken seriously and then handled at an ‘appropriately senior level’ within the government. But once the dossier was leaked and published in January 2017, he appeared to have been sidelined by the government, his friends say, ‘for political reasons’.

    Ministers have also been careful to say that so far there is no evidence of Russian interference in British politics. Steele and others believe evidence of this will emerge. The self-styled ‘bad boy of Brexit’ Arron Banks is being investigated by the Electoral Commission, which wants to know the source of £2.3 million given to Leave.EU, along with at least £6 million in loans to the organisation on ‘non-commercial terms’….

    The ‘Western intelligence community’ — a nebulous group encompassing Steele, his associates, the US intelligence agencies and many experts in Britain — believe the Kremlin is directing operations to try to shake public faith in democracy across Europe and the US. They think Russia has the same aim as the Soviet Union once did: to break up Nato and the EU, and dominate a continent of weak nations. They view Russia as a criminal state, where the state and the mafia are two faces of the same predatory beast. If that is right, then for the government the choice over whether to back Mueller — and the rule of law — should be no choice at all.

  40. says


    It is shockingly difficult for immigration attorneys to locate children separated from their parents at the border. Today I spoke to lawyers who represent more than 400 parents. They’ve located two children.

    Some of the bureaucratic failures are remarkable: Border Patrol agents who forgot to note that a child crossed the border with a parent. Mothers who were never given the toll-free phone number where they can ask about their kids.

    US officials often don’t answer that toll-free number. When attorneys get through, officials respond that their client’s child is “in the United States.”

    In other cases, children are transferred from one shelter to another, and the new facilities don’t make note that the child was separated from a parent. Meaning they could be mistakenly considered an unaccompanied minor.

    Much of the government’s information about the child’s parent — necessary for reunification — comes directly from the child. What kind of information can a toddler provide? And what if that toddler speaks an obscure indigenous language?

    So what do attorneys tell their clients? One lawyer at @TRLA says this: “We have to say we don’t know where your child is. The government is responsible for keeping your child safe. No parent would be satisfied with that.”

  41. says

    “It Can Happen Here”:

    …In their different ways, Mayer, Haffner, and Jarausch show how habituation, confusion, distraction, self-interest, fear, rationalization, and a sense of personal powerlessness make terrible things possible. They call attention to the importance of individual actions of conscience both small and large, by people who never make it into the history books. Nearly two centuries ago, James Madison warned: “Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks—no form of government can render us secure.” Haffner offered something like a corollary, which is that the ultimate safeguard against aspiring authoritarians, and wolves of all kinds, lies in individual conscience: in “decisions taken individually and almost unconsciously by the population at large.”

  42. says

    “National Enquirer sent stories about Trump to his attorney Michael Cohen before publication, people familiar with the practice say”:

    During the presidential campaign, National Enquirer executives sent digital copies of the tabloid’s articles and cover images related to Donald Trump and his political opponents to Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen in advance of publication, according to three people with knowledge of the matter — an unusual practice that speaks to the close relationship between Trump and David Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., the Enquirer’s parent company.

    Although the company strongly denies ever sharing such material before publication, these three individuals say the sharing of material continued after Trump took office.

    “Since Trump’s become president and even before, [Pecker] openly just has been willing to turn the magazine and the cover over to the Trump machine,” said one of the people with knowledge of the practice.

    During the campaign, “if it was a story specifically about Trump, then it was sent over to Michael, and as long as there were no objections from him, the story could be published,” this person added.

    The Enquirer’s alleged sharing of material pre-publication with Trump’s attorney during the campaign highlights the support the tabloid news outlet offered Trump as he ran for president. It also intersects with a subject that federal prosecutors have been investigating since earlier this year: Cohen’s efforts to quash negative stories about Trump during the campaign. As part of that, prosecutors are also looking into whether Cohen broke campaign finance laws, according to people familiar with the investigation….

  43. militantagnostic says

    SC @52
    Perhaps someone is taking The Arrogant Worms too seriously. Was the border patrol looking for Canadians with packs of matches?

  44. KG says

    The ‘Western intelligence community’ — a nebulous group encompassing Steele, his associates, the US intelligence agencies and many experts in Britain — believe the Kremlin is directing operations to try to shake public faith in democracy across Europe and the US. They think Russia has the same aim as the Soviet Union once did: to break up Nato and the EU, and dominate a continent of weak nations. They view Russia as a criminal state, where the state and the mafia are two faces of the same predatory beast. If that is right, then for the government the choice over whether to back Mueller — and the rule of law — should be no choice at all. – Paul Wood in The Spectator quoted by SC@54

    But with the UK due to leave the EU, possibly in an acrimonious way, and the Trumpists running the USA, the British government may well think they can’t afford to antagonise Trump – one of the many appalling consequences of the Brexit vote, and possibly the worst of them. They may even wish to keep open the option of siding with Putin’s Russia, Trump’s (or his successor’s) USA and the international Far Right against whatever remains of the EU.

  45. says

    “The real hoax about the border crisis”:

    It’s all a hoax. A great big hoax.

    Not the family separations, the babies alone in cages, the drugged immigrant children, the stolen toddlers too traumatized to speak, the wailing children whom Ann Coulter slanders as “child actors.”

    Sadly, those cruelties are all too real.

    The hoax is the premise that President Trump’s administration has invented to rationalize such crimes against humanity: his narrative that America has been “ infest[ed]” with hordes of crime-committing, culture-diluting, job-stealing, tax-shirking, benefits-draining “aliens.”

    No part of that description is remotely true….

    It’s hard to comprehend how Trump has so successfully hijacked the national conversation around immigration. With virtually no facts on his side, he has managed to fabricate a multipart border emergency, and convince a majority of his own party that this imagined emergency necessitates state-sanctioned child abuse. Sadly, Trump’s manufactured crisis has now led to very real tragedy.

  46. says

    An update on the little girl, Jimena, who is heard on the ProPublica recording asking to call her aunt: “For a 6-Year-Old Snared in the Immigration Maze, a Memorized Phone Number Proves a Lifeline.”

    Can’t get over this part:

    A staff member at the shelter in Phoenix, Arizona where Jimena is being held couldn’t fully explain why the girl had not been allowed to speak to her mother, or even whether her mother had been consulted about vaccinations Jimena has received. The shelter worker, who would not provide her name, said that at one point, when Jimena’s mother called from an immigration detention facility in Port Isabel, Texas, the little girl was in a mandatory “Know Your Rights” workshop and couldn’t be excused to take the call. The shelter worker said the mother, who has very little money to pay for phone calls and spotty access to a telephone, was told to call back.

  47. says

    Marc Caputo, Politico:

    The most-efficient and least-expensive way to help reunite immigrant kids with their families: let the mainstream news media into these facilities to interview people

    We’ll find them faster than any government contractor can. We’ll do it safely. We’ll do it openly and for free

  48. says

    Good for them:

    When @AmericanAir announced they would NOT transport children who had been forcibly separated from their families at our border, I was so impressed with their decision to put children first and business second.

    Last night, I found myself on an @AmericanAir flight with kids who crossed into our country unaccompanied and were being brought to NYC assisted by @CCharitiesUSA.

    Our crew held up our departure to ensure the status of these children, and not only did a Spanish-speaking member of the crew welcome them, but when I offered to pay for meals for them I learned that @AmericanAir was making food available to them at no cost.

    I was awed by the grace with which the entire crew is caring for these kids and so thankful for it. Renews my faith during a particularly dark time.

  49. says

    Poisoning military families to own the libs – “The Military Drinking-Water Crisis the White House Tried to Hide”:

    The Trump administration feared it would be a “public relations nightmare”: a major federal study that concluded contaminated groundwater across the country, especially near military bases, was more toxic than the government realized. Political aides to President Donald Trump and Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt pressured the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry against releasing the results.

    “The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge,” an unidentified White House aide wrote, according to Politico. “The impact to EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful. We cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be.” The study was not released.

    That is, until Wednesday. Amid a media firestorm about the administration’s immigration policy, the ATSDR—a division of the Department of Health and Human Services—quietly published its 852-page review of perfluoroalkyls, or PFAS, which are “used in everything from carpets and frying pan coatings to military firefighting foams,” according to ProPublica. “All told, the report offers the most comprehensive gathering of information on the effects of these chemicals today, and suggests they’re far more dangerous than previously thought.”

    These chemical compounds pose health risks to millions of Americans….

    But military personnel and veterans are particularly at risk, because PFAS compounds are in firefighting foams, which have been used in training exercises at military bases across America since the 1970s. Those foams have leached into the groundwater at the bases, and often the drinking water supply. Nearly three million Americans get their drinking water from Department of Defense systems.

    The DOD has reported widespread contamination at its bases, as well as their surrounding areas….

    The EPA had been assuring people who lived on these bases that they were safe from the potentially harmful effects of PFAS—which range in severity from weight gain to liver disease to cancer—at levels of 70 parts per trillion. But the new ATSDR study says safe levels were actually much lower, from 7 to 11 parts per trillion.

    …Military personnel often live on bases with their families, so those drinking contaminated water can include pregnant women and children—two populations especially vulnerable to PFAS. And these compounds can remain in the body for six to ten years. “Veterans who have since moved off likely continue to have it in their bodies,” Benesch said.

    …Providing the study earlier would have forced the EPA to consider changing its regulations sooner, Benesch said. Had parents and pregnant women on military bases known about the study, perhaps more of them would have avoided the tap water.

    What, then, did the study’s temporary suppression achieve for Trump and Pruitt? It bought some time for the chemical manufacturers that support them, so they can prepare for the inevitable onslaught of personal injury lawsuits related to PFAS contamination. It also delayed public pressure to increase government spending on environmental cleanups at military bases and on updating rural water infrastructure. But the study’s delay may not have achieved what Trump and Pruitt most wanted it to. Let the public relations nightmare begin.

  50. says

    JFC, his “reputation” – “Pompeo: ‘I was there when he said it. He made a personal commitment. He has his reputation on the line in the same way that we do…we’re going to create a brighter future for N. Korea. We’re going to denuclearize just as quickly as we can achieve that’.”

  51. says

    Update to #68 above:

    Breaking: Jimena spoke to her mother! She cried through the entire call, asking her mom when they were going to be together again. I suspect hearing her mother’s voice for the first time after being so traumatically torn apart brought the pain rushing back. This is Zero Tolerance.

  52. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 56.

    […] The system that tracks children from their initial capture at the border to their detention at group shelters and finally to their release to sponsors is as labyrinthine as it is opaque. (It took WIRED more than 20 rounds of emails to get answers from the three government agencies involved about how the process works.)

    “The families I work with can’t find their kids. Across the board their experience is that they continue to ask their deportation officers where their children are and they are not told,” says Austin-based attorney Kate Lincoln Goldfinch, whose firm works with hundreds of asylum seekers at a time.

    The Women’s Refugee Commission is putting together recommendations for Congress and the White House to “establish a clear and consistent process by which DOJ, DHS, and HHS” record and track families who are separated, according to senior policy adviser for migrant rights Emily Butera. Among WRC’s recommendations are specifics like including the place separation occurred in every child’s case file, and providing parents with written and verbal information about where their children are being sent, as well as contact information for that facility, and the process for locating their child in detention. WRC also calls for regular phone calls between family members, a ban on time limits for those phones, and the promise that parents will be notified of and allowed to participate in any immigration court proceeding affecting their child, free of charge.

    “This administration has separated children from their parents with no clear process for putting that family back together,” says Butera. […]

    “I’m horrified,” says one former official at the Department of Health and Human Services who worked on the program that handled the influx of unaccompanied minors into the US during the Obama administration and spoke anonymously because of restrictions instituted by a current employer. “The long-term challenges of separating these kids and putting tender age children into a system that was designed to care for teenagers puts a significant burden on the system and will create terrible long-term impacts.” […]

    Immigrants in ICE detention are supposed to have access to free phone calls to contact lawyers, consulate workers from their home countries, and government hotlines where they can try to locate their children. The phones work differently in every facility. People need to input a special code to get access to those free calls. Advocates say that in some instances parents can’t figure out how to use the free line on the phones at all. Many parents do not speak Spanish, but rather speak indigenous languages that instructional pamphlets are not translated into. Advocates say long hold times have made it difficult for detainees to get through.

    Lincoln Goldfinch could point to only one instance where a client of hers was able to call their child. “And that was because a deportation officer took it upon herself to schedule [a call]. It took a deportation officer who was willing to make the extra effort,” she says. In that particular case, the client was only able to locate her child because friends and family on the outside had tracked the child down.

    […] Now stories are surfacing of parents being deported without their children, a situation at least one Texas official equated to government-sponsored kidnapping. […]

    Questions remain about how exactly the president’s executive order will be implemented in practice—or whether it’s even legal. For now, the order may prevent more families from experiencing the pain of separation. But for the thousands of families already enduring that trauma, the long and convoluted process of reuniting with their loved ones has only just begun. […]


  53. nobonobo says

    SC @56

    It is shockingly difficult for immigration attorneys to locate children separated from their parents at the border…

    It isn’t that difficult to photograph kids and print some yearbook-format books with names, city, facility, etc. for 2500 kids. Same for parents. They both have time to browse and search.

  54. says

    SC @56 and 66, as well as nobonobo @82: I don’t think team Trump gave a hoot about making sure that children could be reunited with their families. I don’t think team Trump engaged in any planning for, nor did they set up a system for reunification. Other people, other organizations are going to have to do that. The photos are a good idea.

    In related news, here is part of Trump’s rant in which he continues to blame Democrats:

    Democrats don’t care about the children. They don’t care about the injury. They don’t care about the problems. They don’t care about anything. All they do is say, “Obstruct, and let’s see how we do.” Because they have no policies that are any good. They’re not good politicians. They got nothing going. All they’re good at is obstructing.

    And they generally stick together. I respect them for that. That’s about it. Their policies stink. They’re no good. They have no ideas. They have no nothing – the Democrats. All they can do is obstruct, and stay together, and vote against, and make it impossible to take care of children and families and to take care of immigration.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] As if the tirade needed a little something extra, Trump added that Democrats “created, and they’ve let it happen, a massive child-smuggling industry.”

    […] the facts are plain, even if Trump prefers to ignore them. […] Democratic leaders, far from engaging in knee-jerk obstructionism on immigration, sat down, worked on possible solutions, negotiated in good faith, and endorsed six different bipartisan immigration packages. Trump rejected each of them. […]

    More recently, House Democrats agreed to work a compromise immigration package with House Republican moderates, and the effort appeared to be on track – right up until GOP leaders killed it. (House Speaker Paul Ryan was reportedly “desperate” to see the bipartisan bill fail.)

    Last week, House GOP members got to work on a separate compromise immigration proposal, involving conservative Republicans and not-quite-as-conservative Republicans. Congressional Democrats were “cut out of negotiations.” […]

    It didn’t have to be this way, but if White House officials want to understand how the Republican effort turned into such a fiasco, they shouldn’t be looking at Democrats.

  55. says

    This morning, Trump scuttled all Republican efforts to solve immigration problems by tweeting some more nonsense.

    After repeatedly saying Congress needs to solve the immigration problem, […] Trump on Friday called on lawmakers to delay dealing with the critical issue until after the midterm elections — while accusing Democrats of concocting politically motivated “phony stories of stories of sadness and grief” on the border.

    “Republicans should stop wasting their time on Immigration until after we elect more Senators and Congressmen/women in November,” Trump tweeted. “Dems are just playing games, have no intention of doing anything to solves this decades old problem. We can pass great legislation after the Red Wave!”

    NBC News link

  56. says

    Follow-up to comment 84.

    […] For those keeping score, GOP lawmakers took up this issue at the behest of the White House. After working with Trump on a bill, the president announced on Friday that he wouldn’t sign it. Officials in the West Wing soon after reversed course, saying the president didn’t understand the question.

    On Tuesday morning, Trump urged Congress to “get it done” right away, because “now is the best opportunity ever.” That night, however, the president appeared on Capitol Hill and left members more confused about his expectations.

    On Wednesday, Trump met privately with several House Republicans, and reportedly expressed some sympathy for the GOP criticisms of the leadership’s bill.

    On Thursday, with just hours to go before a scheduled vote, the president tweeted that he didn’t understand “the purpose” of House Republicans even trying to pass an immigration bill, which led to this morning’s directive that House GOP lawmakers should stop working on this altogether.

    Even by 2018 standards, this is astonishing. Three days ago, the president implored his own party to keep trying, assuring House Republicans that he’s with them “1,000 percent” and he “will not leave you in the wilderness.” Today, that same president thinks his Capitol Hill allies “should stop wasting their time.”

    If it wasn’t obvious before that these guys aren’t ready for prime time, it is now.


    It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for Paul Ryan.

  57. says

    What Trump said:

    We’re re-opening NASA. We are going to be going to space.

    From the New York Times:

    Contrary to Mr. Trump’s puzzling suggestion, NASA has been operational since its creation in 1958 and is already in space.

    NASA is currently conducting dozens of missions in space, including exploring Mars, studying Jupiter and reaching the outer edges of the solar system. Three American astronauts are also currently staffing and conducting experiments on the International Space Station.

  58. says

    A collection of Michael Avenatti’s rage against ICE and Trump is instructive. Avenatti includes letters written by mothers who have been separated from their children at the border.

    Where needed, Avenatti provided translations.
    Enough to break your heart.

    Here is a letter my client Levis just wrote to her 6 yr old son Samir, whom she has not seen or comm with in over 2 weeks. They told her he was being taken for a “bath” & would be brought right back. He is a gentle boy and very attached to his mother. She is terrified.

    From the mother’s letter:

    […] I am sorry my son about everything that is going on, this separation hurts my soul…”

    “but I want you to know that I am not abandoning you, son your mom is here and I think about you a lot, when I wake up the first thing I think about are your eyes and I also feel your hugs every morning and I feel your kisses my son…”

    “I miss you deeply Samir, I want you to know that very soon we will be together again and I will hug you. I love you!!! I want to tell you face to face that I am proud of you, you are my purpose…”

    “do not worry my son, I am doing well…I know you are suffering because you love me. Very soon we will be singing the song we sing and we will be together praying to God…”

    “I do not have any more words to express how much I love you, I wish you could feel how it feels in my heart, I feel someone took a piece from my heart…”

    To hear you say that I am a warrior fills me with courage to keep fighting every day.
    I talk about you every day with my friends and I tell them that you are the sweetest boy that I’ve known…” […]

    From Avenatti:

    I have witnessed a lot of drama, pain, and sadness in my legal career. And I have had many moments of doing everything in my power to hold myself together. I have never witnessed anything this upsetting. I will never forget. Toughest day of my career by far. Perhaps of my life.

    Much more at the links.

  59. says

    nobonobo @ #82:

    It isn’t that difficult to photograph kids and print some yearbook-format books with names, city, facility, etc. for 2500 kids. Same for parents. They both have time to browse and search.

    To be clear, that wasn’t me – I was quoting Kevin Sieff (whose full article can be read @ #69). Also, I know – I suggested that @ #66! (I had in mind a database; they could send the pictures/information online and people could scroll through them on iPads or phones or whatever.) I mean, the number of children separated from their parents is totally unconscionable, but as a practical matter I don’t see why it should be seen as such a monumentally difficult or impossible task.

  60. says

    I’m still a bit stuck on the jacket. Setting aside the politics, I can’t believe she wore it on a televised, public trip. It would be a silly thing for a teenager to wear. For someone who’s 48 and the First Lady, traveling on Air Force One, it’s utterly ridiculous.

  61. says

    JUST IN: On the US House floor, Rep. Lieu plays audio of children at detention facilities, despite being ruled out of order by the chair: ‘Why are we hiding this from the American people?'”

    (Video at the link.)

  62. says

    Chris Hayes:

    First time illegal entry into the United States is a misdemeanor.

    Lying on or omitting materially relevant information from your SF86 (as Jared Kushner did multiple times by his own admission) is a felony.

    Guess which one’s getting prosecuted?

  63. says

    Republicans in the House of Congress took aim at food stamps via the farm bill they just passed. As with all things sponsored by Republicans since Trump took office, this is a snafu. (situation normal: all fucked up)

    From the Washington Post:

    A deeply polarizing farm bill narrowly passed the House on Thursday, a month after the legislation went down to stunning defeat after getting ensnared in the toxic politics of immigration.

    The legislation, which passed 213 to 211 with 20 Republicans joining Democrats in their unanimous opposition, includes new work rules for most adult food-stamp recipients – provisions that are dead on arrival in the Senate.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] the farm bill will need 60 votes in the upper chamber, and there’s obviously no way Senate Democrats are going to go along with a regressive bill like this one.

    […] the House bill “includes cuts and changes to SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) that would eliminate or reduce food assistance for more than 1 million low-income households with more than 2 million people.”

    […] the GOP bill would also create a new layer of government bureaucracy, which “eats up nearly all the ‘savings’ from kicking people off food stamps,” intended to make it more difficult for qualifying Americans to receive benefits..

    […] the House’s farm bill is almost impressive in being misguided in so many ways at once. The New Republic’s Alex Shephard recently described this farm bill as capturing of “everything that’s wrong with Congress” in one piece of legislation, which was shaped by dysfunction, cynicism, and “bad policies that will make Americans less healthy and safe.”

    […] Traditionally, the farm bill has been one of Congress’ easier lifts, largely because it’s nearly always been done in a bipartisan way since its initial iteration in the early 1930s.

    Lawmakers have been able to avoid tumult because the farm bill has included food assistance to struggling households, which addressed the concerns of members representing urban areas, and agricultural assistance to farmers, which addressed the concerns of members representing rural areas.

    This year, however, House Republicans decided the farm bill would be a vehicle for a conservative ideological mission. […]

  64. says

    From Vox’s Matt Yglesias:

    […] Trump’s response to the crisis at the US-Mexico border … reminds us that he does not know anything about public policy, diplomacy, constitutional law, or legislative strategy.

    So you get instead what he’s delivered over the past two weeks – aggressive hostage-taking, lying, trolling, chaos, dissembling, and cruelty – none of which is going to advance Trump’s legislative goals or address the underlying issue of the northward flow of asylum seekers. Even the executive order he signed on Wednesday raises more questions than it will probably solve.

    All presidents are tested now and again, and Trump is failing massively. It’s not quite the first time, and it certainly won’t be the last. Being president of the United States is a difficult job, and Donald Trump has no idea how to do it. […]

    The border crisis is a reminder that Trump has no idea what he’s doing

  65. says

    “Inside the Ukraine peace plan in Mueller probe: More authors, earlier drafting than believed”:

    A controversial peace plan for Ukraine and Russia that has drawn headlines and scrutiny from Special Counsel Robert Mueller was initially devised in early 2016 with significant input from an ex-congressman and a Ukrainian-American billionaire, according to a former Ukrainian legislator who promoted the proposal before Donald Trump’s election.

    Ex-Ukrainian legislator Andrii Artemenko told McClatchy in several recent interviews that the peace proposal, which some analysts believe had a pro-Moscow tilt, was hatched in February 2016 during side discussions at a Ukraine-focused conference at Manor College in suburban Philadelphia. Former Republican Rep. Curt Weldon and New York real estate mogul Alexander Rovt were involved, said Artemenko, who also participated.

    “It was called the Rovt-Weldon plan,” said Artemenko, noting that he had been friends with Weldon for almost a decade.

    Neither the roles of Weldon and Rovt in the early framing of the plan, nor the fact that it was being devised nearly a year before it was given to a Trump associate for delivery to the administration, have been reported previously. The new names add to a roster of individuals with close ties to Trump who have been identified in connection with the proposal: Trump’s personal lawyer and “fixer,” Michael Cohen; a former sometimes-real estate partner, Felix Sater, who was also an old friend of Cohen; and the president’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the transition and is cooperating with the Mueller probe….

    Much more at the link. Natasha Bertrand points out that what Artemenko told McClatchy differs from what he told her.

  66. says

    Melania’s choice of jacket looks worse and worse.

    “So Zara is selling ‘White Is The New Black” t-shirts” Link

    “The most amazing thing… Zara, the brand that made Melania’s “I don’t care” jacket that she wore to visit a child internment camp, has come under fire in the past for designing clothes that look exactly like Holocaust uniforms. You can’t make this shit up.”

    There were also handbags with symbols that looked like swastikas.

    Maybe Hair Furor, fascist that he is, bought the jacket? Holocaust shirts, swastika bags …. aiyiyiyi.

  67. says

    SC, at his “Angel Family” event, Trump autographed the photos of murder victims that the families brought to the event.


    And, of course, Trump told several lies, including this one:

    At one point, Trump claimed that 63,000 Americans have been killed by undocumented immigrants since 9/11.

    “Sixty-three thousand. That number that they say is very low because things aren’t reported,” Trump said. “Sixty-three thousand. You don’t hear about that.”

    […] that figure — which was tossed around during a roundtable discussion Trump had in March to fear-monger about immigrants — is unverified. Statistics from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) indicate that less than half that many undocumented immigrants have been arrested for homicides during that time frame.

    There’s more debunking of Trump’s lies at the link.

  68. says

    Ari Melber had Michael Avenatti and others on today talking about, amongst other things, the Cohen/Trump/AMI relationship (see #59 above. Two aspects of the story that weren’t discussed: First, the endless focus on Hillary Clinton’s health, including the suggestion that the National Enquirer would reveal her private medical records, reminded me of the allegations about Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in Nigeria, including claims that they hired Black Cube or the like to hack Muhammadu Buhari’s medical files. Second, we’ve lost the thread about AMI’s losses over the past several years coupled with their dubious arrangements with the regime in Saudi Arabia, which is also under suspicion.

  69. says


    Judge Wood provides more detail in adopting the Special Master’s report. Of the 161 items found privileged/personal (out of tens of thousands), ONLY EIGHT (8) involve Cohen providing legal services. The rest are communications w lawyers representing Cohen.

    I understated it. Per the first footnote, “292,226” items were part of this batch. Accordingly, so far:

    – 0.055% of items seized from Cohen in the raid are being treated as privileged or highly personal in any way

    – 0.0027% of those items show him acting as a lawyer

  70. says

    Laura Jarrett:

    The House Judiciary Committee Chairman has just subpoenaed FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok for a deposition on June 27, 2018 at 10:00 am; his lawyer said last week he would come voluntarily.

    “We regret that the Committee felt it necessary to issue a subpoena when we repeatedly informed them that Pete was willing to testify voluntarily” – statement from Aitan Goelman, Strzok’s attorney, in response to subpoena news.

  71. says

    “There’s no migration crisis – the crisis is political opportunism”:

    “Desperate times at our southern border call for desperate measures on the other side:” That was the very loud message from right-wing leaders in the United States and Europe this week.

    Their desperate measures shocked the world. The Trump administration’s policy requiring thousands of infants and children to be seized from their parents and held in detention left leaders and citizens aghast (and its most inhumane elements remain in place). On the other side of the Atlantic, we watched the new Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini order boatloads of migrant families turned back into the sea, following his call last year to deal with immigration with a “mass cleansing, street by street, quarter by quarter.”

    Most reasonable people agree that these are not humane ways to deal with what these politicians call a “migration emergency.” But too many people take their word that there actually is some sort of a migration emergency.

    To be clear: There is no immigration crisis in 2018. Not in the United States, not in Europe, not in Canada.

    “It is not a migration emergency – it’s a political emergency,” William Lacy Swing, the American director-general of the International Organization for Migration, said this week. The IOM’s 8,400 staff monitor the movement of people around the world, and while they’ve identified plenty of challenges, there aren’t any overwhelming or unmanageable movements of people this year. “The overwhelming majority of migration is taking place in a regular, safe and orderly fashion,” he said.

    “There is a very serious problem of communication, but what we’re seeing is that the numbers are pretty modest,” said Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development….

  72. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Damn, MSNBC needs to cut off the microphones of rethug assholes who refuse to answer questions, and interrupt their hosts to parrot the party line. And make it solid policy. that you can only play parrot the party line after you actually answer the questions.

  73. says

    Senate Chaplain Barry Black said during one of his nondenominational prayers this week, “As children are being separated from their parents, remind us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to protect the most vulnerable in our world.”

    The day before he signed an executive order regarding his administration’s migrant family separation policy, President Donald Trump told advisers “my people love it,” the New York Times reported Friday. […]


    In other news, here is an “oh, FFS” moment regarding Trump and North Korea:

    […]Trump tweeted that North Korea no longer posed a nuclear threat, thanks to his brilliant summitry and superlative deal-making.

    But less than two weeks after his high profile meeting with Pyongyang’s dictator Kim Jong Un, it appears that the president’s optimistic declaration might have been premature.

    Trump’s administration issued an executive order late Friday declaring that North Korea still poses an “extraordinary threat” to the United States and extending a decade-old “national emergency” designation with regard to Pyongyang for another year.

    “The existence and risk of proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material on the Korean Peninsula and the actions and policies of the government of North Korea continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” the executive order read.

    “For this reason, the national emergency … must continue in effect beyond June 26, 2018,” the president said in his statement.

    The national emergency regarding North Korea dates back to the end of the George W. Bush administration, and was put in place in 2008. […]

    Trump is so confused, so untrustworthy.

  74. says

    From Alexandra Schwartz, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] In the past, “there have been really small numbers of tender-age children that came into O.R.R. [Office of Refugee Resettlement] care—minuscule,” Bob Carey, who served as a director of the O.R.R. under President Obama, told me. “Usually, if they came in, they were in the company of an older sibling, or a pregnant teen in O.R.R. care gave birth, and then the child was with his or her mother, not unaccompanied.” Carey and other former officials I have spoken with over the past few days warned that the separation policy is putting unprecedented strain on a system that is not equipped to handle the volume and needs of the young children who have now been placed in its care.

    It’s worth clarifying that O.R.R. shelters are a far cry from the cage-filled, blindingly lit warehouses, with their thin rubber mats and Mylar blankets, that have recently been the subject of much public outrage. Those facilities are run by Customs and Border Protection (C.B.P.), and children are supposed to spend no more than three days in one before being moved into O.R.R. care. O.R.R. shelters are generally equipped with dormitories, cafeterias, communal spaces, play areas, classrooms, and also counselling services. There are mandated child-to-staff ratios. […] “There are certainly shelters that have been designed with nurseries and cribs, and have extra staff members who meet special licensing requirements,” a former H.H.S official told me. “But that’s not the majority of the system. Most shelters are designed for teen-agers, boys in particular.”

    […] “Staffing up to care for toddlers and preverbal kids is a time-consuming process, because of licensing requirements, and because of the extra training that staff need,” […]

    “It takes time to develop capacity, and it takes a lot of money as well. And, when you’re developing care capacity on an emergency basis, it’s very, very expensive to do,” Carey said. “They need bilingual workers. Some kids speak indigenous languages, so that’s an issue as well. Then there are children who may not yet be verbal, and who aren’t able to articulate their needs, and that will have to be addressed.”

    […] One terrible irony of the current crisis is that a government office whose explicit goal is to reunify children with their families is now being used to hold children who have entered its jurisdiction because the government has forcibly removed them from their parents’ care. […]

    […] amid reports that H.H.S. has agreed to share sponsors’ information with ice, undocumented adults [family members to provide care for children] have reason to fear stepping forward. “If we’re saying to people, ‘Come pick up your children, and, by the way, we need to know how to reach you, and we’re going to use that information to deport you,’ not very many people are going to come forward to pick up their kids,” Cancian said. […]


    More at the link.

  75. says

    The human toll—the individual, human toll:

    […] testimonials are part of a lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia by the three parents, who are hoping to be reunited with their children. Their statements were released publicly when their lawyers filed a motion asking for a temporary restraining order so that the parents can have “basic information about their children’s whereabouts and well-being,” as well as the chance to contact their children frequently.

    The documents are gut-wrenching. One Guatemalan asylum seeker in the suit, who says she was separated from her 9-year-old son in mid-May, writes that she does not know where her son is beyond the fact that he may be in New York. The mother, known as E.F. in the court documents, writes in a translated statement that she has only been able to speak with her son in three five-minute calls since their separation:

    My son isn’t able to give me much information about his circumstances because he is too young and too upset to understand what is happening. Every time we talk he only wants to know when he will see me again so it’s hard for him to focus on anything else.

    Each time we have spoken he only cries. In the brief moments where he can speak he tells me he is ok and that he misses me very much.

    My son used to be such a happy child who was always joking around with me. Now he just seems depressed—he doesn’t joke with me he only asks when we will see each other again and begs to be with me.

    In another statement, a Honduran father known as A.P.F. describes being separated from his 12-year-old daughter in early June. […] He writes:

    I worry about my daughter constantly. I am not able to speak with her directly. I do not know if she is well cared for. I do not know if she has been sick. I do not know if she has been sleeping well or eating well. Not knowing anything about my daughter is torture. I am not able to sleep. I desperately want to be with her.

    Another Guatemalan mother, known in the documents as M.G.U., reports that she and her three children were held in a detention center in Dilley, Texas, for 14 days before being separated. Now, like the other parents, she writes that she does not know when she will be reunited with her sons, who are two, six, and 13 years old. “When I am able to call, G.V.G. is not able to give me information about his circumstances because he is only two years old and too young to communicate how he is,” the mother writes, referring to her youngest son. She continues:

    Like every parent, I want all the information about my children. I want a video of where they are living. I want to know the therapists, the teacher, and all of the people that have contact with my children. Also, I have concerns about the school and I want to know how school is going.

    I am not able to get this information because of the problems with the telephone, it is too expensive, and if I just have 20 minutes each week to speak, I am going to talk to my children and they are not able to give me this information.

    Each minute that I do not have this information is anguish.

    Each minute that I am separated from my children is anguish. I am never at ease without this information and without my children.



  76. says

    “Trump’s false portrayal of his Sanford insult goes largely unchallenged by House Republicans: ‘It wasn’t a big deal’”:

    After President Trump insulted one of their own as a “nasty guy,” many House Republicans dodged and weaved when questioned this week about the president’s takedown of Rep. Mark Sanford (S.C.).

    Republicans’ unwillingness to challenge Trump underscores how he can disparage and then mischaracterize what he said with little pushback from his party. Few held his feet to the fire to speak the truth, fearful of a president who belittles his critics and the political peril they might face.*

    A few Republicans disputed Trump’s characterization, calling it false. But though not a single lawmaker of the two dozen questioned by The Washington Post backed up Trump’s claim that they “applauded and laughed loudly” as he dissed Sanford, very few were willing to call out the president for creating an alternate reality.

    That’s a worrisome trend in the eyes of some Trump critics, who figure that if a room full of witnesses won’t confront Trump on an inaccurate depiction, he might get away with pretty much any mischaracterization he wants.

    “There is something big about that tweet, irrelevant to the tweet itself but symptomatic of the larger amnesia that we’re collectively in as a society,” said Sanford, who wasn’t in the room that night.

    Among many Republicans, no one wants to be the next Sanford….

    * That political peril being not the risk of imprisonment, exile, or death, but a mean tweet, perhaps a stupid nickname, and a lost primary or election, along with some measure of self-respect, the respect of most of the country and world, and the knowledge that you weren’t a cowering enabler of an unhinged fascist clown, too afraid to speak the truth even in defense of a colleague.

  77. says

    Katie Arrington, who beat Sanford in the primary, was seriously injured last night in a fatal car crash. She

    suffered a fracture to her back, broken ribs, and a partial collapse of the main artery in her legs. She will have to undergo “major surgery” to remove a portion of her small intestine and a portion of her colon, and will require a stent in the main artery in her legs.

    The Democratic candidate, Joe Cunningham, has temporarily suspended his campaign.

  78. tomh says

    From the WaPo: Why a small-town restaurant owner asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave — and would do it again

    …It was important to Wilkinson, she said, that Sanders had already been served — that her staff had not simply refused her on sight. And it was important to her that Sanders was a public official, not just a customer with whom she disagreed, many of whom were included in her regular clientele.

    All the same, she was tense as she walked up to the press secretary’s chair.

    “I said, ‘I’m the owner,’ ” she recalled, ” ‘I’d like you to come out to the patio with me for a word.’ ”

    They stepped outside, into another small enclosure, but at least out of the crowded restaurant.

    “I was babbling a little, but I got my point across in a polite and direct fashion,” Wilkinson said. “I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation.

    “I said, ‘I’d like to ask you to leave.’ ”

    Wilkinson didn’t know how Sanders would react. She said she didn’t know whether Trump’s chief spokeswoman had been called out in a restaurant before, as the president’s homeland security secretary had been days earlier.
    Sanders’s response was immediate, Wilkinson said: ” ‘ That’s fine. I’ll go.’ ”

    Sanders went back to the table, picked up her things and walked out. The others at her table had been welcome to stay, Wilkinson said. But they didn’t, so the servers cleared away the cheese plates and glasses.

    “They offered to pay,” Wilkinson said. “I said, ‘No. It’s on the house.’ ”

  79. says

    tomh – glad I refreshed! Was just about to post that.

    The article quotes Mike Huckabee (Sarah’s father) tweeting about the incident and calling it “bigotry.” It doesn’t mention that a few hours prior he had tweeted this.

    (I’m tired of all of the people claiming that Huckabee not too long ago was some genial, softer face of the Republican Party. He was calling for theocracy several years ago; he’s a longtime grifter and promoter of child abuse. His Twitter “jokes” have long been hateful and cruel. He’s terrible, and it’s no surprise his daughter is who she is.)

  80. says

    Walter Shaub, responding to SHS’s tweet about the Red Hen: “Sarah, I know you don’t care even a tiny little bit about the ethics rules, but using your official account for this is a clear violation of 5 CFR 2635.702(a). It’s the same as if an ATF agent pulled out his badge when a restaurant tried to throw him/her out.”

  81. says

    Update to Lynna’s #38 above – Avenatti just tweeted: “There are few things more gratifying in my role as an advocate than when a whistleblower trusts me with explosive information (docs, images, etc.) and looks to me to ensure it is released for maximum impact for the public good. Today is another such day. #BuckleUp #Basta”

  82. says

    Trump has confused the Chinese when it comes to trade:

    Donald Trump has called on China to capitulate to U.S. demands on trade. The problem is nobody knows exactly what Trump actually wants — including the Chinese.

    One week, he condemns threats to American national security interests and the next, agrees to lift a ban on doing business with Chinese telecom giant ZTE. He rails about the U.S. trade deficit with China, then dismisses Beijing’s offer — negotiated by his own officials — to boost its purchases of U.S. goods by billions of dollars.

    Now the Chinese know how Congress critters feel when they try to involve Trump in making a deal/legislation on immigration. Now the Chinese know how the parents crossing our southern border, and how the people trying to help those parents, feel. Trump spews so much bullshit, so many contradictions, and is such a firehose of misleading information that it is almost impossible to get anything done. Trump is a walking, talking disaster.

    Back to the trade issues with China:

    Beyond the feints and jabs, he’s raised so many different issues that it’s hard to know what his priorities might really be.

    The strategy is straight out of “The Art of the Deal”: “I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after.” But some doubt that approach translates to negotiating with a global superpower. By all accounts, it has left the Chinese increasingly mystified about what Trump really wants at a pivotal moment when the world’s two largest economies are teetering on the edge of sustained trade warfare.

    “They’re absolutely confused,” Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, said of the Chinese. […]


    I don’t think this statement, “I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing […]”, is accurate either. He just aims, or fails to aim, all over the place. Daily, sometimes hourly, Trump aims at a different goal … or he blows up his previous goals. He is, at his core, totally incompetent.

  83. says

    Has anyone seen any proof to back up team Trump’s claim that 500 children have been reunited with their parents in the last two days? I see the claim, but no proof, no evidence.

    One of Trump’s immigration-related tweets from today:

    Drudge Report “OBAMA KEPT THEM IN CAGES, WRAPPED THEM IN FOIL” We do a much better job while at the same time maintaining a MUCH stronger Border! Mainstream Fake Media hates this story.

  84. says

    This story may have appeared in this thread before. If so, apologies for the repetition.

    […] This week, Hungary passed what the government dubbed the “Stop Soros” law, named after Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros. The new law, drafted by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, creates a new category of crime, called “promoting and supporting illegal migration” — essentially, banning individuals and organizations from providing any kind of assistance to undocumented immigrants. This is so broadly worded that, in theory, the government could arrest someone who provides food to an undocumented migrant on the street or attends a political rally in favor of their rights.

    “The primary aim of this legislation is to intimidate, by means of criminal law, those who fully legitimately assist asylum seekers or foreigners,” the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a local human rights group, explains in a press release. “It threatens [to] jail those who support vulnerable people.” […]

    The Stop Soros bill is every fear about right-wing populism made manifest: an attack on basic democratic rights by an elected government, one legitimized and made popular by attacks on vulnerable minorities. Americans might want to pay attention. […]


    More at the link.

  85. says

    “DOJ gives Congress new classified documents on Russia probe”:

    The Justice Department says it has given House Republicans new classified information related to the Russia investigation after lawmakers had threatened to hold officials in contempt of Congress or even impeach them.

    A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said Saturday that the department has partially complied with subpoenas from the House Intelligence and Judiciary committees after officials turned over more than a thousand new documents this week. House Republicans had given the Justice Department and FBI a Friday deadline for all documents, most of which are related to the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation and the handling of its probe into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s emails. Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said the department asked for more time and they will get it — for now.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan has backed the document requests, and he led a meeting last week with committee chairmen and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to try to resolve the issue. In a television interview two days after that meeting, on June 17, Nunes said if they don’t get the documents by this week, “there’s going to be hell to pay” and indicated the House could act on contempt or even impeachment….


  86. says

    “Some Information on the Extremist Anti-Immigrant Hate Group That Supplies Crime Victims to Trump for Exploitation”:

    …Please note: I’m not doubting for one second that the stories of loss and heartache these people tell are genuine. These aren’t “crisis actors.”

    But if you look into The Remembrance Project, the non-profit organization behind “Angel Families,” you discover a virulent, extreme right wing anti-immigrant group, whose leader has a long documented history of ties to white nationalist groups of the John Stanton strain, the same family of extremists that includes the so-called Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). Both the Remembrance Project and FAIR are designated as hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center, with good reason.

    Last year more than a dozen families who had been featured in Trump’s (and the GOP’s) anti-immigrant stage shows left the group, and some of them were open about their belief that the Remembrance Project and Donald Trump had used, abused and exploited them….

    I do object to the portrayal of these people as pure victims, exploited by Trump and other groups. They’re adults who’ve been willing to let their stories and their loved ones’ memories (without their consent) be exploited like this, framed within this hateful narrative.

  87. says

    Opposition parties are reporting serious discrepancies between their ballot counts and the results being reported. Quoting one senior opposition official’s words to me: ‘It’s almost as if we’re watching results from a different country’.”

    The most frequent jokes on the election hashtag are that the Anadolu Agency has announced Turkey’s World Cup win and maps showing the areas won by the AKP as covering the entire globe and even other planets.

  88. says


    The BBC Turkish service has produced another graphic of the difference between the official, state-run Anadolu Agency’s results and those counted by the independent Fair Elections platform.

    The difference is striking: with 65% of votes counted, AA has Erdoğan on 55.5% and Ince on 29.2%, against 43.5% and 33.9% respectively for Fair Elections:…

  89. says

    Selim Sazak: “One opposition campaign official to me: ‘The results being broadcasted are around 5 percent higher than the feed we’re getting from the High Electoral Council datalink. This is a PR campaign, plain and simple’.”

  90. says

    As SC noted up-thread, Trump is advocating for an unconstitutional approach to asylum-seekers who cross the borders of the USA. The approach he advocated is also a clear violation of international human rights laws.

    Repeating what Trump said:

    We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order.

    Earlier statement from White House chief of staff John Kelly:

    They’re overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from – fourth, fifth, sixth grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English, obviously that’s a big thing. They don’t speak English. They don’t integrate well, they don’t have skills. They’re not bad people. […] But a big name of the game is deterrence.

    Trump is not even pretending to follow U.S. law and international law.

    From Alyssa Milano:

    Hey guess what everyone? @realDonaldTrump hired undocumented immigrants for $4 an hour for a demolition project. Here are the court docs […]


  91. says

    Making bad taste official:

    The Trump administration created a special challenge coin featuring President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, The New York Times reported Sunday.

    The White House Communications Agency, a military unit that designs and creates the coins, created the Mar-a-Lago coin in recent months. […]

    Ethics watchdogs told the Times that coins depicting Trump’s properties shouldn’t be created with government resources, as it could violate federal laws banning the use of public resources to promote private institutions.

    White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told the Times that the ethics rules didn’t apply to the Mar-a-Lago coins as private staffers in the military unit funded the coins privately and that “no public funds were used” to produce them. [sounds like bullshit to me]

    Karen Brazell, the chief of staff for the White House Military Office which oversees the agency, declined to comment to The Times about whether agency resources were used to created the coins.

    Walters told the newspaper that Trump and his staff were not involved in “the creation, design, distribution or funding” of the agency coins, but that Trump “is involved in the selection and design of his official presidential challenge coins.”


  92. says

    From George Takei:

    [History] is repeating itself, but it has gone to a new low with Donald Trump. When we were incarcerated, our families were intact. My parents were with me.

    But in this case, it’s come to a chilling low where babies are torn away from their mothers and placed in separate internment camps.


  93. says

    This is extortion, and it is emotional manipulation of migrant families:

    Detained Central American migrants who have been separated from their children have been told they can reunite with them if they agree to voluntarily deportations, The Texas Tribune reported Sunday.

    The news outlet, citing a detained Honduran man and two immigration lawyers, reported that the migrants have been told they would be reunited with their children at an airport if they agree to sign off on deportations.

    The Honduran man, who was not identified, said he gave up his asylum case and signed the paperwork in an effort to reunite with his 6-year-old daughter. He said he’s now trying to rescind his agreement and fight his case in court. […]

    A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) fact sheet released Sunday morning about the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy indicated that parents who are to be deported can request their child accompany them.

    “A parent who is ordered removed from the U.S. may request that his or her minor child accompany them. It should be noted that in the past many parents have elected to be removed without their children,” the fact sheet states.

    The DHS release said the government knows where each of the more than 2,000 separated migrant children are, but did not elaborate on a timetable for when they might be reunited with their family members. […]

    The Hill link

    Texas Tribune link

  94. says

    Experts are calling major shenanigans on AA’s vote totals, some of which don’t appear plausible at all. There also seems to be confusion about whether the percentages of votes opened are of ballot boxes or actual ballots, or whether they began with the rural areas so as to be able to prematurely claim victory before the urban votes were counted.


    Things could take an unpleasant turn here.

    The leading opposition candidate, Muharrem Ince, has tweeted to say that according to the official electoral board, only 37% of the vote has been counted – while the official Anadolu Agency is reporting that 85% have been opened.

    He asks all observers not to leave the polling stations until counting is fully complete.

    There are reports that Erdoğan is preparing to make a victory speech and that Viktor Orbán has already called to congratualte him on his victory.

  95. says

    From Amy Davidson Sorkin, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] Immigration authorities have long taken custody of children who cross the border as unaccompanied minors, travelling on their own or under the control of smugglers, often in the hopes of being reunited with family in the United States. (They have not, that is, been separated from their parents at the border.) The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, which is a part of the Department of Homeland Security, generally turns them over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The O.R.R. then tries to place the children with “sponsors”: parents, other relatives, […]. (There has been at least one case of children being trafficked to work on an egg farm.) The government was supposed to have tightened background checks on sponsors recently, but it is not clear how much has been done.

    In a recent Senate hearing on the issue, Steven Wagner, an H.H.S. official, said that, at the end of 2017, the government had tried to follow up with about seven thousand of these children and could not reach nearly fifteen hundred of them. […]

    But what may be more disturbing than that number is this statement from Wagner’s testimony: “I understand that it has been H.H.S.’s long-standing interpretation of the law that O.R.R. is not legally responsible for children after they are released from O.R.R. care.”

    […] it is a bad thing when children are legally lost in America, with no one clearly accountable. […] not showing up for immigration hearings, avoiding all authorities, including those designed to protect or to educate—still leaves the long-term outlook for the children highly uncertain. And that is when the sponsors, whom the government has, again, given power over these children, are acting with good will, which may not always be the case.

    […] What had been, at best, a gray area is quickly becoming a dark morass. In early May, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new policy, he said, “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law.” His definition of “smuggling” included travelling with a child of one’s own. That accompanied child would be reclassified as unaccompanied. Since then, there have been wrenching scenes of parents being separated from small children, who do not understand what is happening, by border officials who are not necessarily trained to explain it to anyone—even if they had an explanation that made sense. […]

  96. says

    From Masha Gessen, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] Hostage-taking is an instrument of terror. Capturing family members, especially children, is a tried-and-true instrument of totalitarian terror.

    Memoirs of Stalinist terror are full of stories of strong men and women disintegrating when their loved ones are threatened: this is the moment when a person will confess to anything. The single most searing literary document of Stalinist terror is “Requiem,” a cycle of poems written by Anna Akhmatova while her son, Lev Gumilev, was in prison.

    But, in the official Soviet imagination, it was the Nazis who tortured adults by torturing children. In “Seventeen Moments of Spring,” a fantastically popular miniseries about a Soviet spy in Nazi Germany, a German officer carries a newborn out into the cold of winter in an effort to compel a confession out of his mother, who is forced to listen to her baby cry. […]

    Putin and the system he has created have consistently, if not necessarily with conscious intent, restored key mechanisms of Soviet control. The spectacle of children being arrested sends a stronger message than any amount of police violence against adults could do. The threat that children might be removed from their families is likely to compel parents to keep their kids at home next time—and to stay home themselves.

    A few hours after Putin took his fourth oath of office, in Moscow, Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed a law-enforcement conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. He pledged to separate families that are detained crossing the Mexico-U.S. border. “If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you and that child will be separated from you,” Sessions said. […]

    The practice, and Sessions’s speech, are explicitly intended as messages to parents who may consider seeking asylum in the United States. The American government has unleashed terror on immigrants, and in doing so has naturally reached for the most effective tools.

  97. says

    From Margaret Talbot, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] Hutto [in a desolate patch of rural Texas: the T. Don Hutto Residential Center] is one of two immigrant-detention facilities in America that house families […] and is the only one owned and run by a private prison company. [True as of March 3, 2008, when Talbot wrote this article.]

    The detention of immigrants is the fastest-growing form of incarceration in this country, and, […], it is becoming a lucrative business. […]

    Private companies began making inroads into the detention business in the nineteen-eighties, when the idea was in vogue that almost any private operation was inherently more efficient than a government one. The largest firm, Corrections Corporation of America, or C.C.A., was founded in 1983. But poor management and a series of well-publicized troubles—including riots at and escapes from prisons run by C.C.A.—dampened the initial excitement. […] When immigration detention started its precipitate climb following 9/11, private prison companies eagerly offered their empty beds, and the industry was revitalized.

    One complication was that hundreds of children were among the immigrant detainees. Typically, kids had been sent to shelters, which allowed them to attend school, while parents were held at closed facilities. Nobody thought that it was good policy to separate parents from children—not immigration officials, not immigrant advocates, not Congress. In 2005, a report by the House Appropriations Committee expressed concern about “reports that children apprehended by D.H.S.”—the Department of Homeland Security—“even as young as nursing infants, are being separated from their parents and placed in shelters.” The committee also declared that children should not be placed in government custody unless their welfare was in question […]

  98. says

    Joy Reid’s first segment from Tornillo, Texas today.

    News of the tent city being expanded to detain families and children indefinitely; news that attorneys have not been able to get inside the tent city in order to see the children; details of Obama-era programs that were canceled because they did not remove enough asylum seekers from the U.S.; and more.

    The video is 17:30 minutes long, and is factual. Real news. Well-informed guests were on the discussion panel.

  99. says

    Can we ask AA? According to AA on TV 92.5% of ballot boxes have been opened in Istanbul. I’m at the YSK office in Maltepe. Its 22:03 and only 15% of the ballot boxes have been opened. All ballot boxes are waiting. Where did [AA] get their results from?”

  100. says

    From Jonathan Blitzer, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] Criminal defendants are guaranteed a lawyer, but those in immigration proceedings are not. Souza and Pérez will continue to be represented by the El Paso Public Defender’s Office only for as long as they remain in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Once their criminal cases end, and they’re transferred to ICE custody, they’ll be on their own, unless they can somehow find immigration lawyers. That won’t just affect their immigration claims; it will also make it harder for them to find their children. The government separated parents and children without any plan for how to reconnect them, and the arduous work of navigating the federal bureaucracy has fallen to individual lawyers and advocates.

    The issues that affect whether or not people being detained by ICE have lawyers have not been discussed enough. I cannot imagine trying to negotiate the system without a lawyer.

    Personal stories:

    Souza entered the room. Her skin was pale, and there were dark rings under her eyes. “So, listen, it looks like some of these criminal cases might get dismissed,” Whiteley [Irma Whiteley, a staff investigator at the El Paso Public Defender’s Office] told her. (Souza’s criminal case is still pending.) “For now, I have a few pieces of paper for you. Keep these close.”

    Souza nodded as Whiteley pulled two sheets from Souza’s case file. One was a flyer with the heading “Next Steps for Families,” issued by the Department of Homeland Security, which had a list of phone numbers that parents could call to inquire about their missing children. (A few mothers in detention told me the numbers didn’t always work.) The other, prepared the day before by the office of the El Paso public defender, gave the mothers a script for what they should say to ice officers once they arrived in immigration detention: “I was separated from my child. I want to know where my child is, and I want to speak to my child. I want to be reunified with my child.” The lines were written in Spanish and in English, Whiteley pointed out, “in case an ice officer only understands English.”

    Souza, who still hasn’t spoken to her son, thanked Whiteley, but she tensed up while reading through the long list of phone numbers and the blocks of text. It was a tangle of information. She closed her eyes, and said a prayer under her breath.

    Next, Pérez came into the room. She seemed better able to focus. After nearly a month without any communication with her son, they finally spoke on the phone earlier that morning. “He’s in Michigan,” she told me. “They’re treating him O.K. They’re giving him food. He has clothes.” But she had one concern. “He said that they hit him three days after we were separated,” she said. “I asked him why they hit him, and he told me it was because he wasn’t eating the food they put in front of him. He wasn’t eating because he was upset. I don’t know all the details. He’s nine years old. He can’t elaborate.”

    Pérez’s criminal case has just been dismissed, and she has an asylum case that appears strong, but she will likely remain in ICE detention while she waits for a hearing before an immigration judge. In the meantime, it’s unclear what will happen to her son. […]

  101. says

    More from the link provided in comment 464:

    […] She and I spoke while Whiteley looked for a prison guard who could open the door, so that Whiteley could pass Concepción some documents. “I’ve never been away from my kids before,” Concepción told me. “Now they’re with people they don’t know, in a place they don’t know. The mothers here—there are a lot of us.” (Souza estimates there are at least fifty in Otero.) “And none of us have our kids. We’re all crying and crying. Time passes. It’s like we’re not alive without them.” She was sobbing. “The gangs will get us if we get deported.” she went on. “I’ll be killed before I can see my kids again. At home, it’s like you’re dead even while you’re still alive.”

  102. says

    Description of what the regime in Turkey pulled in last year’s referendum.

    The contested election in Turkey is pure insanity.

    One tweet on my timeline showing government supporters declaring victory, the very next sharing photos from polling states that haven’t even begun counting despite controversial claims by state media that voting is done”

    This seems to be the expert consensus:

    “I’ll just say it: these results are bonkers. Idea the HDP would clear but that CHP vote share would shrink so much AKP-MHP would have a majority is aggressively strange.”

  103. says

    I’m completely confused by what happened in Turkey, and also disgusted by the advance of authoritarianism via elections that are increasingly unfree and unfair and how that seems to be accepted more and more over time as legitimate, so I’ll wait until tomorrow to say more. (The Guardian liveblog – link @ #139 – is still ongoing.)

  104. says

    OSCE – “Voters had genuine choice in Turkish elections, but incumbent president and ruling party enjoyed undue advantage, including in media, international observers say”:

    Voters had a genuine choice in the 24 June early presidential and parliamentary elections in Turkey, but the conditions for campaigning were not equal, with the incumbent president and ruling party enjoying an undue advantage, including in excessive coverage by government-affiliated public and private media outlets, the international observers concluded in a preliminary statement today.

    The restrictive legal framework and powers granted under the ongoing state of emergency restricted the freedoms of assembly and expression, including in the media. Nonetheless, citizens demonstrated their commitment to democracy by participating in large numbers in campaign rallies and on election day, the observers said.* Election day procedures were generally followed, although important legally prescribed steps were often omitted during the counting and tabulation of ballots.

    Six presidential candidates – one woman and five men – including the incumbent, ran for president and the Supreme Board of Elections (SBE) registered eight parties to contest the parliamentary elections.

    The campaign was vibrant and took place in a highly polarized political environment…

    “Our delegation welcomed the high voter turnout, which bears witness to the wish of Turkey’s citizens to express their will and to their awareness of the crucial character of these elections,” said Olena Sotnyk, Head of the PACE delegation. “We noticed a more intrusive presence of the police in polling stations than in previous elections, which contributed, in some cases, to creating a climate of insecurity, and possibly pressure against the electorate and, on occasion, international observers.”

    A restrictive legal framework hinders media freedom and induces self-censorship, and the state of emergency has been used to further limit this freedom. Most popular broadcast media outlets are seen as affiliated with the government, something reflected in the campaign coverage, the observers said. The ruling party and the incumbent were covered by these more often and more favourably, including by the public broadcaster, limiting the balanced information about the contestants available to voters.

    The statement says that fundamental rights and freedoms are not fully guaranteed by the Constitution and laws, and the freedoms of assembly and expression are further restricted in practice, particularly as a result of decisions by provincial governors under the state of emergency. Key amendments to election laws, perceived as favouring the ruling party, were introduced shortly before the elections, and without consultation.

    Some of the amendments weakened important safeguards by replacing political party representatives with civil servants as chairpersons of the ballot box committees (BBCs), by allowing the relocation of polling stations on security grounds, by increasing the authority of law enforcement personnel at polling stations, and by ruling that ballots missing important safeguard stamps would still be valid. The Constitutional Court dismissed the main opposition party’s challenge to the amendments. The changes also legalized election coalitions. Positively, independent presidential candidates were allowed for the first time, in line with previous recommendations.

    Women remain underrepresented in political life. While the Constitution guarantees gender equality, there are no special legal obligations for the parties to nominate women candidates. Positively, some parties implemented gender quotas. Some 20.5 per cent of candidates on party lists were female.

    The law does not establish rights for non-party citizen observers and does not provide for international observation….

    * Despite the AKP’s attacks on democracy, turnout in yesterday’s elections was around 87%.

  105. says

    HDP nominee Ahmet Şık: ‘Do not lose hope, there has taken place an election with lack of justice or transparency under unjust conditions. This country has shown great resistance to an organised crime network. The results do not show any despair, we will resist till the end’.”

  106. says

    “Special counsel obtains Trump ally Erik Prince’s phones, computer”:

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller is digging deeper into Trump ally and Blackwater founder Erik Prince, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the matter.

    Prince, America’s most famous private military contractor, acknowledged last week that he “cooperated” with Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election after falling under scrutiny amid questions about an alleged effort to establish a backchannel between the Trump administration and the Kremlin, something Prince has vehemently denied.

    ABC News has since learned that Mueller is also reviewing Prince’s communications. In response to questions from ABC News, a spokesperson for Prince released a statement noting that Prince has provided Mueller with “total access to his phone and computer.”

    Prince had a simple answer when asked by Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California, whether he ever had any “investments” or “business partnerships with Russian nationals.”

    “Zero,” Prince replied.

    Two of Prince’s former business associates, both of whom asked to remain anonymous, told ABC News they have been contacted by investigators probing a pair of proposed business deals between the Hong Kong-based security firm Frontier Services Group, of which Prince is the founder and chairman, and Russian nationals.

    The associate said he told the agents about Prince’s previously undisclosed alliance with Dimitriy Streshinskiy, a former Russian special forces soldier turned arms dealer and manufacturer.

    According to a 2015 interim report from an internal investigation conducted for the company by an outside law firm, a man named “Dimitry,” whom two sources later told ABC News was actually Streshinskiy, acted as Prince’s partner in an effort to secure a possibly illegal private security contract with Azerbaijan.

    The internal investigation, first reported by The Intercept earlier this year, was turned over to U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors at the end of President Barack Obama’s second term, multiple sources said. The findings prompted two senior company officials to resign in protest over Prince’s activities, the sources said.

    Another former business associate told ABC News that he was approached by the FBI about Frontier Services Group’s dealings with the Russian state-owned energy firm Rostec….

  107. says

    Oh, FFS.

    President Trump is continuing to hail his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a win for the United States, but says media coverage of the meeting is “almost treasonous.” In an excerpt of an interview with conservative pundit Mike Huckabee that airs on Saturday, Mr. Trump says that the two leaders came to a “wonderful agreement” in Singapore, but that it’s a “shame that the fake news covers it the way they do.”

    “It’s honestly, it’s really almost treasonous, you want to know the truth,” he said. “If you listen to the mainstream media, it’s almost like I lost the negotiation.”


    Meanwhile, one of my friend’s posts on Facebook drew a comment from a reader advising us all to stop watching so much fake news, and to get our news from the President’s twitter feed. Depressing.

    From SC’s comments about the election in Turkey, I see that Erdoğan’s control of the media played a big part in his win. Trump is trying to set up a similar situation, where he controls the media, where a climate of fear prevails around immigration, and where he saved us all by negotiating with Kim Jong Un.

    Trump would love to put “treasonous” journalists in jail.

  108. says

    So, it looks like Trump is driving Harley-Davidson out of the United States.

    Harley-Davidson, up against spiraling costs from tariffs, will begin to shift the production of motorcycles headed for Europe from the U.S. to factories overseas.

    Trump is responsible for the rising costs from tariffs. Is this how Trump rewards people in Wisconsin, voters who gave him a narrow win over Clinton in that state?

    More likely: it’s not a reward or punishment scenario, it is just another example of Trump’s ignorance screwing up international trade … all to the detriment of U.S. companies like Harley-Davidson.

    The European Union on Friday began rolling out tariffs on American imports […] The EU tariffs on $3.4 billion worth of U.S. products are retaliation for duties the Trump administration is imposing on European steel and aluminum.

    […] Trump has used Harley-Davidson as an example of a U.S. business that is being harmed by trade barriers. Yet Harley has warned consistently against tariffs, saying they would negatively impact sales.

    Harley-Davidson Inc. sold almost 40,000 motorcycles in the Europe Union last year, generating revenue second only to the United States, according to the Milwaukee company. […]

    “Harley-Davidson maintains a strong commitment to U.S.-based manufacturing which is valued by riders globally,” the company said in prepared remarks. “Increasing international production to alleviate the EU tariff burden is not the company’s preference, but represents the only sustainable option to make its motorcycles accessible to customers in the EU and maintain a viable business in Europe. Europe is a critical market for Harley-Davidson.” […]

    Harley-Davidson said that shifting targeted production from the U.S. to international facilities could take at least nine to 18 months to be completed. […]

    More potential pitfalls for Harley-Davidson and other U.S. manufacturers could be on the way. […]

    On Monday, the vice president of the European Union’s governing body said that Europe and China will form a group aimed at updating global trade rules to address technology policy, government subsidies and other emerging complaints in a bid to preserve support for international commerce. […]


    The TPP [Trans Pacific Partnership] trade agreement helped Harley-Davidson in the Asian market. Trump killed that agreement too.

  109. says

    Follow-up to comment 179.

    Another U.S. company bites the dust thanks to Trump’s reckless trade war.

    A Poplar Bluff, Missouri nail manufacturer could be out of business by Labor Day according to testimony Wednesday during a Senate finance hearing in which Republicans and Democrats cited concerns with tariffs placed on imported steel and aluminum products.

    Mid Continent Nail laid off 60 of its 500 employees last week, George Skarich, the company’s executive vice president for sales, said Thursday. Another 200 layoffs could come in the next two weeks, Skarich said.

    A 25 percent tariff on steel that started June 1 on the wire used to make the nails is pricing Mid Continent out of the market, said Skarich. A 10 percent tariff is also now being assessed against aluminum. Only imports from Argentina, Australia, Brazil and South Korea are exempted from the tariffs.

    Mid Continent Nail is among the top three manufacturers in Poplar Bluff, and produces half of the nails made in the United States. […]

    Mid Continent believes the tariffs are another blow to an industry already struggling to compete with the foreign influx of goods, often from countries already cited for unfair trade practices.

    “Eighty percent of the nails sold in the United States are imports from a variety of countries, predominantly China. We’ve been able to compete against the imports by sourcing our raw material from Mexico,” he explained. […]

    Southeast Missourian link

    In Butler County, Missouri, 79.2% of the vote went to Trump in 2016.

    Soybean production in Missouri is also feeling the pinch from Trump’s tariffs:

    […] Midwestern farmers, meanwhile, are reeling from tariffs that China announced last week on $50 billion worth of U.S. products, including soybeans, pork and chicken. July futures prices for soybeans, Missouri’s most important crop, have fallen almost 15 percent in the last two months.

    “We don’t want a trade war,” said Gary Wheeler, executive director of the Missouri Soybean Association. “That’s the worst-case scenario for us and for China.” […]

    St. Louis Dispatch link

    40,000 workers in Missouri will be affected by the Trump tariffs.

  110. says

    Fox News reporter Kevin Corke went on the air to say that immigration detention facilities were worse under President Obama, that the facilities were dirty, etc. Thirty minutes later, Trump tweeted this:

    Such a difference in the media coverage of the same immigration policies between the Obama Administration and ours. Actually, we have done a far better job in that our facilities are cleaner and better run than were the facilities under Obama. Fake News is working overtime!

    More of what Kevin Corke said on Fox:

    Very interesting to note the difference in the coverage of that policy which was actually happening during the Obama administration, versus the way it’s being covered now during the Trump administration.

    From Politifact:

    No, Donald Trump’s separation of immigrant families was not Barack Obama’s policy. Obama’s immigration policy specifically sought to avoid breaking up families. While some children were separated from their parents under Obama, this was relatively rare, and occurred at a far lower rate than under Trump, where the practice flows from a zero tolerance approach to illegal border-crossings.

  111. tomh says

    The fallout from the Colorado baker’s case continues. Today the Supreme Court vacated the Washington Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Arlene’s Flowers, Inc. v. Washington, which held that a florist’s religiously-motivated refusal to sell arranged flowers for a same-sex wedding violates the Washington Law Against Discrimination. The SC granted certiorari, vacated the judgment, and remanded the case to the Washington Supreme Court in light of Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Comm’n.

  112. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 176.

    From Ian Millhiser, writing for Think Progress:

    The Supreme Court held on Monday that white lawmakers enjoy a presumption of racial innocence, even when they draw legislative districts that empower white voters at the expense of racial minorities.

    The thrust of Justice Samuel Alito’s opinion in Abbott v. Perez is that the “good faith” of a “state legislature must be presumed,” even when there are very serious allegations of racial gerrymandering. The facts of Perez are unusual and unlikely to repeat in the future, but Alito’s presumption of white racial innocence could have a significant impact on future cases. […]

    Lawmakers now enjoy an exceedingly strong presumption of racial innocence when they draw legislative maps. It’s a great day for white nationalism.

    Much more at the link.

  113. says

    Trump attacked the Red Hen restaurant that refused to serve Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

    The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!

    From Christina Wilkie:

    As Trump accuses a small Va. restaurant of being “filthy,” worth noting the restaurant at Trump’s Mar-A-Lago has been cited 78 times in the past three years for health code violations, including “a black/green mold-like substance” on the ice machine.

    Meanwhile, the Red Hen has a good record when it comes to meeting relevant health codes. The Red Hen has a better record that Mar-A-Lago. Restaurant That Trump Called ‘Filthy’ Actually Has A Glowing Health Record

    […] Red Hen’s last inspection was completed on Feb. 6, 2018, when it received a clean bill of health with no violations or required follow up visits. The Rockbridge County official who conducted the inspection even noted the staff’s “clean uniforms/aprons,” the proper restraint of the cook’s hair and an “excellent job on code-dating.” […]

  114. says

    Bloviation and nonsense from Trump:

    I have tried to stay uninvolved with the Department of Justice and FBI (although I do not legally have to), because of the now totally discredited and very expensive Witch Hunt currently going on. But you do have to ask why the DOJ & FBI aren’t giving over requested documents?

    Bloviation and nonsense from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes:

    I know the Democrats have been hiding because they are so married to this Russia-gate fiasco that’s been going on for so long, but I would think most of the American people, including most people in politics would be very, very worried if the FBI and others are running informants into our campaigns.

    All this nonsense continues as Trump is being investigated for obstruction of justice.

  115. says

    DHS is promising to reunite parents once they’ve been ordered deported — but not while they’re still fighting an asylum claim.

    Vox link

    […] the process that the government has in place for reunification isn’t for all families separated by the administration between May 5 and June 20, when the “zero tolerance” policy separated more than 2,300 children from their parents at the border. It is solely “to ensure that those adults who are subject to removal are reunited with their children for the purposes of removal.”

    There is no such assurance for parents who are fighting deportation because they are trying to claim asylum (or another form of relief) in the United States.

    What this means, in practice, is that a parent who is currently trying to pursue an asylum claim but wants to see her child as quickly as possible will have to waive two sets of rights: her own and her child’s. She’ll have to withdraw her own asylum case and agree to be deported instead. And she’ll have to agree that her child should withdraw their own case to remain in the US — which is a separate case in the legal system because the child is now considered “unaccompanied” — in order to accompany her back to her home country.

    Lawyers are already claiming to see this at the Port Isabel facility. “We have people in there who are considering not continuing on with really strong asylum claims because they think they’ll get reunited with their kids faster if they give up their claim,” civil-rights lawyer Sirine Shebaya told the Washington Post. […]

  116. says

    Follow-up to comment 185.

    Coverage from Wonkette:

    […] the FBI has caved and handed Nunes and Rep. Trey Gowdy all kinds of documents on the Russia investigation, because Nunes and Gowdy need them for “oversight” purposes. (For Nunes, “oversight” should always be read as “leaking to Fox News in order to run interference for Donald Trump.”) We haven’t covered every single twist and turn of this fight, because it’s mostly been Nunes saying “GIVE ME OUR NATION’S DEEPEST DARKEST SECRETS” and the DOJ saying “fuck off” and Nunes saying “IMPEACH! IMPEACH! IMPEACH!” Rinse, repeat, and so forth.

    Files are now being delivered to the House Intelligence, Judiciary and Oversight committees, about why the Trump-Russia investigation was started, why FBI/DOJ got FISA warrants on actual Russian intelligence asset Carter Page, and how FBI/DOJ used an informant to brush up against the Trump campaign and find out what kind of Russian fuckery was going on there. […]

    […] while Nunes just looooooooves to receive documents, he’s apparently not much of a giver. Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democratic member of the intel committee, has some stories to tell about how Trump idiots Roger Stone and Michael Caputo literally lied to the committee’s faces (just like Erik Prince did) about their Russian contacts, completely “forgetting” about that time a guy named “Henry Greenberg,” who wore a MAGA hat and had a “viscous Russian accent,” offered them dirty Hillary Clinton dirt for the low, low price of two million dollars: […]

    “I think they just lied through their teeth to protect the fact that they were willing and eager to take a meeting with Russians who were offering dirt,” he [Swalwell ] added.

    Devin Nunes is part of this because Swalwell says he and Adam Schiff have been wanting to send Robert Mueller the transcripts of all the lies Stone and Caputo told the committee behind closed doors, but Nunes won’t let them:

    “The Nunes team has refused to cooperate with us on that and at least send [the transcripts] over to Mueller,” he added. “And so yes, I do believe that both Caputo and Stone, that special counsel should be able to look at that for perjury.” […]

  117. says

    “The Brexit Short: How Hedge Funds Used Private Polls to Make Millions”:

    At 10 p.m. on June 23, 2016, Sky News projected the words “IN OR OUT” across the top of a London building as an orchestral score ratcheted up the tension. “In or out—it is too late to change your mind,” declared Adam Boulton, the veteran anchor, seated in a makeshift studio across from Big Ben. “The polls have closed in the U.K.’s historic referendum on EU membership.” Election nights are major productions for British broadcasters, but Brexit was bigger, with Sky viewers watching worldwide.

    After the dramatic intro, Boulton jumped straight in with a huge exclusive, declaring he had “breaking news.” Nigel Farage, the global face of the Brexit campaign, had given Sky what sounded like a concession. His photo and a statement filled the screen, as Faisal Islam, Sky’s political editor, read Farage’s words aloud: “It’s been an extraordinary referendum campaign, turnout looks to be exceptionally high and [it] looks like Remain will edge it. UKIP and I are going nowhere and the party will only continue to grow stronger in the future.”

    In the next segment, Boulton delivered another exclusive. Joe Twyman, head of political research for YouGov, one of the U.K.’s most prominent polling firms, appeared on set with the results of an online exit poll conducted for Sky. He explained that the firm had been tracking the same voters—and they had moved farther into the Remain camp that day. Based on that, Twyman said, “We now expect that the United Kingdom will remain part of the European Union. It’s 52 percent Remain, 48 percent Leave, so it’s still close and it’s still too early to know definitely—but, based on the figures that we’re seeing, based on the trends that have occurred, and based on historical precedent—we think that Remain are in the strongest position.” As in past elections, Twyman added, voters had embraced the status quo on Election Day.

    Just four minutes after the polls had closed, and with meaningful vote counts still more than two hours away, Sky had aired a concession from the world’s most prominent Brexit backer, buttressed by data from YouGov. In a few hours these “scoops” would prove spectacularly wrong, but in the meantime they spawned worldwide headlines…

    The news pushed the U.K.’s currency up—herding investors toward a cliff hours ahead of one of the largest crashes for any major currency since the birth of the modern global financial system. Trillions of dollars in asset values would be wiped off the books, but not just yet.

    At 10:52 p.m., the pound rose above $1.50 and reached its highest mark in six months. A few minutes later, Ed Conway, the Sky News economics editor, appeared before a giant screen showing the spike. The pound had been tracking polls for months, Conway explained. Whether they were on couches in London or at trading desks in Chicago, people watching Sky or reading headlines sparked by its coverage had every reason to think Remain would prevail. But not quite everyone.

    Behind the scenes, a small group of people had a secret—and billions of dollars were at stake. Hedge funds aiming to win big from trades that day had hired YouGov and at least five other polling companies, including Farage’s favorite pollster. Their services, on the day and in the days leading up to the vote, varied, but pollsters sold hedge funds critical, advance information, including data that would have been illegal for them to give the public. Some hedge funds gained confidence, through private exit polls, that most Britons had voted to leave the EU, or that the vote was far closer than the public believed—knowledge pollsters provided while voting was still underway and hours ahead of official tallies. These hedge funds were in the perfect position to earn fortunes by short selling the British pound. Others learned the likely outcome of public, potentially market-moving polls before they were published, offering surefire trades.

    …While some of the practices discovered by Bloomberg fall into a gray area, the law is clear: It would have been a violation if, prior to the polls closing, “any section of the public” had gotten the same data the pollsters sold privately to hedge funds.

    One person with questions still to answer is Farage, a former commodities broker who also went to work for a London currency trading company after he moved into politics. He twice told the world on election night that Leave had likely lost, when he had information suggesting his side had actually won. He also has changed his story about who told him what regarding that very valuable piece of information.

    Bloomberg’s account is based in part on interviews over seven months with more than 30 knowledgeable current and former polling-company executives, consultants and traders, nearly all of whom spoke only on the condition they not be named because of confidentiality agreements. Pollsters said they believed Brexit yielded one of the most profitable single days in the history of their industry. Some hedge funds that hired them cleared in the hundreds of millions of dollars, while their industry on the whole was battered by the chaos Brexit wrought in global financial markets. Although confidentiality agreements have made it difficult to discover the identities of many of the hedge funds that bought exclusive or syndicated exit polls, at least a dozen were involved, and potentially many more, Bloomberg found….

    Much, much more at the link. It’s like the Brexiteers and Trumpists have made it their work to discover every form of scumbaggery they can possibly engage in.

  118. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #178 above:

    President Trump is continuing to hail his historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a win for the United States, but says media coverage of the meeting is “almost treasonous.”…

    “It’s honestly, it’s really almost treasonous, you want to know the truth,” he said. “If you listen to the mainstream media, it’s almost like I lost the negotiation.”

    For someone who projects in real time as much as Trump, it’s interesting for him to be so desperately throwing a word like “treasonous” around in this moment.

    Incidentally, the Trump Org., acting as an intervenor in the Cohen case, asked the judge if they could get an extension to July 11 to complete their privilege review, which also seems desperate and unwarranted. SDNY is arguing that they’ve offered no justification for such an extension, but said that if Judge Wood does decide to grant it, it should be no longer than a week. Wood hasn’t shown a lot of patience for these delays – I wouldn’t be surprised if she only gives them a few extra days.

  119. says

    “Arron Banks ‘discussed digging dirt on journalists’”:

    Arron Banks, who funded Nigel Farage’s Leave.EU campaign, talked about using private investigators to dig up dirt on journalists looking into his business activities, evidence seen by the Observer suggests.

    …Shocking new evidence includes emails from the same period in which Banks and Andy Wigmore, Leave.EU’s press spokesman and Banks’s business partner, appear to discuss hunting for “personal stuff” to use against Ian Katz, who was editor of the BBC’s Newsnight at the time.

    Seven days before the broadcast, after the BBC submitted a set of questions to Banks, evidence seen suggests an employee emailed Banks and Wigmore with research on Katz’s background – and that Wigmore replied: “We need personal stuff like girlfriends, if he’s in debt all the stuff a private investigator can find. That’s how we should retaliate.”

    The documents suggest Banks responded: “Agreed. Have a chat with Patrick and let’s get motoring on.”

    Banks is a director of a private security company, Precision Risk and Intelligence, which he founded with a former South African policeman. It is not known if Banks instructed a private investigator – and if he did, whether he instructed that firm – to try to obtain private information about Katz – now director of programmes at Channel 4.

    Before his appearance at the select committee for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport on 12 June, Banks told the Observer that he had carried out “oppo research” on the MPs on the committee….

    During the committee hearing, Ian Lucas asked Banks a question about his insurance company and he replied: “Are you the MP that got drunk in the House of Commons and harassed a woman and got drunk on a karaoke evening?” Lucas replied that he wasn’t. He told the Observer that he wasn’t shocked by the personal attacks though he found them disturbing.

    “They go for you. It’s to intimidate you. They are bullies. And they go for you when you get them in a corner. The allegations about their meetings and business dealings with the Russians are extremely serious and they are lashing out.”

    The Observer has also obtained evidence, from a subject access request, that Banks’s Leave.EU team put out inflammatory social media messages about “rebel” MPs last autumn despite a warning from an employee that they might be “too menacing post-Jo Cox”. The emails suggest Banks appeared to ignore the message and told him to do it anyway.

    Banks’s MEP, Molly Scott Cato, said she had written to Sajid Javid, the home secretary, demanding to know what had been done to investigate collusion between the Russian security services and the Brexit campaign, in particular what MI5 knows and what information should be made public.

  120. says

    Carole Cadwalladr’s thread about her article (with Peter Jukes) @ #190 above. It concludes:

    Is this threatening & intimidating? Yes. For all of us – Observer editor @paulfwebster, fellow reporter @peterjukes, lawyer Zoe Norden. It’s nasty. It’s a Trumpian strategy of deliberately spreading lies coupled with personal attacks & it makes publishing this stuff hard.

    This is not how a functioning democracy works. I don’t care if you voted Leave or Remain. This is a nasty, authoritarian attack on our institutions, our press, rule of law. That Brexit has legitimised.And after 18 months investigation, I can tell you this: that vote is a cesspool

    THANK YOU, everyone, who’s shown support. It’s been so important. And this is why it matters. Threats & intimidation work. No news organisation in Britain followed up our reports [providing evidence of collusion with the Kremlin] from last weekend. The BBC stands silent. The bullies are winning.

    The sole aspect of the recent article I find somewhat amusing is that they went after Ian Katz of BBC Newsnight for a report by John Sweeney. They probably didn’t bother to go after Sweeney directly because he’s taken on $cient***gy and there’s nothing left about him to dig up at this point. (It is interesting how similar their methods are….)

  121. says

    It’s tangential, but “a href=”https://twitter.com/colincampbell/status/1011297512987267073”>one thing I believe I also noticed at the time is the phrase from the tweet about the Rickets family: “secretly spending $’s against me’.” “$’s” in this context is just very odd.

  122. says


    Republicans ask Rosenstein for names of everyone working on Mueller probe

    It’s difficult to imagine that this is not a form of obstruction, since it appears clear from previous GOP behavior that the intent is targeted harassment of those involved.”

  123. Saad says

    SC, #203

    Sickening. These people are ready to capitulate at a moment’s notice. I wish we had a major news organization that actually stood up for all the people affected by these fascists.

  124. says

    Saad, I’m appalled by the Supreme Court decision to uphold the third version of Trump’s travel ban. I hope there are challenges to that decision. Ditto for the California law that aids and abets the distribution of misinformation, and the withholding of medically sound information, from women seeking abortions.

    In other news in which Republicans do something dumb and hope you won’t notice:

    […] Smaller is not necessarily simpler. The new form [standard 1040 income tax form] omits a variety of popular deductions, including those for student loan interest and teaching supplies, forcing taxpayers to search for them — and tally them up — on one of six accompanying worksheets.

    It does the same for business income, capital gains and several other forms of income. It includes a dedicated line for the expanded child tax credit, but not one for child care expenses.

    As a practical matter, Republicans took the old forms, took out a bunch of fields, moved them to a series of “worksheets,” and now plan to present the result as proof that they passed “the postcard test.” […]


  125. says

    Trump’s tweets slamming Harley Davidson this morning:

    Early this year Harley-Davidson said they would move much of their plant operations in Kansas City to Thailand. That was long before Tariffs were announced. Hence, they were just using Tariffs/Trade War as an excuse. Shows how unbalanced & unfair trade is, but we will fix it…..

    When I had Harley-Davidson officials over to the White House, I chided them about tariffs in other countries, like India, being too high. Companies are now coming back to America. Harley must know that they won’t be able to sell back into U.S. without paying a big tax!

    A Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country-never! Their employees and customers are already very angry at them. If they move, watch, it will be the beginning of the end – they surrendered, they quit! The Aura will be gone and they will be taxed like never before!

    Trump is confused.

    […] Trump seems confused about some of the relevant details. (Harley-Davidson, for example, never said the closure of its Kansas City plant had anything to do with the administration’s tariff policies.)

    But the bottom line seems to be the same: Trump apparently intends to impose new taxes on the company, and he’s publicly predicting Harley-Davidson’s eventually collapse.

    This presidency is unique in so many ways, but one of the more jarring aspects of Trump’s style is his willingness to attack American businesses, by name, when they defy his wishes. […]

    There is no precedent for anything like this in the American tradition.


    More examples are available at the link of Trump attacking companies that he views as enemies.

  126. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    Today’s High Court decision upholding the President’s anti-Muslim travel ban should focus us on a key, important fact: the federal judiciary is now heavily stocked not just with Republican appointees but conservative ideologues.

    […] we simply cannot rely on the Court’s as presently constituted to make rulings which are in line with the actual constitution or our national traditions. This is in significant part because of the corrupt appointment of Justice Gorsuch. But there’s no undoing that. We are on the cusp of what will likely be an even more dramatic example of rightwing judicial activism acting labor rights. […]

    I spoke to a friend a few days ago who said flatly, the courts are a lost cause. It’s all about politics and elections. That’s wrong. It’s not a pure either/or. Courts and litigation remain still absolutely critical. We’ve seen that even in the last year. Critically important. But on many issues, in this period of testing, saving the country will come from robust political movements, ones which will have to succeed in the face of daunting challenges to the right to vote in order to eventually redeem those rights.

  127. says

    Trump’s nonsensical blather, (in the form of an official White House Statement), in response to the Supreme Court ruling on the travel ban:

    Today’s Supreme Court ruling is a tremendous victory for the American people and the Constitution. In this era of worldwide terrorism and extremist movements bent on harming innocent civilians, we must properly vet those coming into our country.

    As long as I am President, I will defend the sovereignty, safety, and security of the American People, and fight for an immigration system that serves the national interests of the United States and its citizens. Our country will always be safe, secure, and protected on my watch.

  128. says

    Glimmers of hope:

    Neal Katyal, former deputy solicitor general in the Obama administration and the primary architect of arguments against President Trump’s travel ban, called for hope and congressional action in the face of the Supreme Court’s ruling Tuesday.

    “Over the past year, a suit brought by ordinary Americans has made its way through the federal courts, and at every step the judiciary forced the White House to amend their travel bans to bring them more in line with our Constitution,” he wrote in a statement on Twitter. “While we continue to believe that this third version fails that test, there is no question that by striking down the first two travel bans, the judiciary forced a recalcitrant administration to at least give its order the veil of constitutionality.”

    “The final chapter has not yet been written, and the President would be mistaken to interpret today’s decision as a greenlight to continue his unwise and un-American policies,” he continued. “The travel ban is atrocious policy and makes us less safe and undermines our American ideals.”

    “Now that the Court has upheld it, it is up to Congress to do its job and reverse President Trump’s unilateral and unwise travel ban,” he said.


  129. says

    Leaked audio reveals detention center staff threatening immigrant kids over speaking to the media

    […] “…The other thing that is more important, and that I’m not supposed to be telling you, but I’m going to tell you the truth,” a staffer at the facility can be overheard saying in Spanish in the audio clip. “If, for whatever reason, you tell a reporter [about your situation here], you know what’s going to happen to your case? It’s going to be on the news. And then one doesn’t know what’s going to happen — if you’re going to last here a long time. I’m not trying to scare you, I’m just telling you — it’s the truth.”

    The staffer adds that “the kids have to be careful not to talk, because while you’re here, you guys are okay.”

    “We are protecting you,” the staffer says. “We’re trying to help you so that you can [be reunited] with your family or whoever it may be. Understood?” […]

  130. says

    More about anti-Muslim sentiment in the White House, specifically on John Bolton’s team:

    […] Fred Fleitz, the chief of staff to national security adviser John Bolton, was previously associated with anti-Muslim views, most notably as the co-author of a report he wrote with critics of Islam that called for some Muslim Americans to be stripped of their citizenship. Coming under fire for his connection to this report, Fleitz, a former CIA analyst, has tried to distance himself from it and its more extreme co-authors. But a review by Mother Jones shows that Fleitz has repeatedly cozied up to critics who go beyond denouncing radical Islam to assailing Islam overall.

    In April 2017, for example, Fleitz retweeted a call to “boycott” Homeland, the Showtime cable drama, after Mandy Patinkin, an actor on the show, said that in the current season white male government officials and the US military establishment were the villains, not the Muslim community. A Fox News story inaccurately claimed that Patinkin had maintained, “White Men in Gov’t, Military Are the Problem.” And conservatives on Twitter urged a boycott of the show. Fleitz joined in and retweeted a post that used the hashtag #IslamCult—a tag generally deployed by critics who contend Islam is not an acceptable religion. […]

    Two other co-authors of the Center for Security Policy report—retired Gen. Jerry Boykin and Tom Trento—had also publicly blasted Islam before Fleitz worked with them on the report. In 2012, Boykin, who was the undersecretary of defense for intelligence in the George W. Bush administration, said, “Islam is evil.” He also claimed in 2011 that mosques only recognize “a global caliphate, not the sanctity or sovereignty of the United States.” Tom Trento, who runs a group called The United West, railed against Islam during a 9/11 memorial service in 2013, according to a local news report. “I’m not talking about radical Islam or moderate Islam,” he was quoted as saying. “I’m talking about all Islam. Their goal is to get every single one of us to convert to Islam. And they won’t stop until we do.” […]

    Rich Lowry, editor of the National Review, claimed in a May column that Fleitz “has been careful to distinguish between his critiques of radical Islam and all Islam.” Perhaps. But as a leading official of the Center for Security Policy, Fleitz has readily worked and collaborated with colleagues who have not.


    Much more at the link.

  131. says

    I’ve Been Reporting on MS-13 for a Year. […] Things Trump Gets Really, Really Wrong.

    There’s one thing everyone can agree with President Donald Trump on about the street gang MS-13: The group specializes in spectacular violence. […] Most of the other assertions I’ve heard from the Trump administration this year about MS-13 have almost no connection to what I’m seeing on the ground.

    1. MS-13 Is Not Organizing to Foil Immigration Law
    […] The girl sat at a Panera Bread in a Long Island strip mall and told how he had kidnapped and raped her shortly after her 15th birthday, threatened her family, and forced her to get a tattoo of his name on her arm. As I talked to her, I imagined a man like the ones I had seen in news reports on MS-13—chins jutted out, arms strong from lifting weights, and gothic tattoos of the letters M and S on their faces and chests. I was shocked when I eventually saw this gang leader in court; he was a baby-faced 19-year-old who blushed when girls waved to him from the gallery. The indictment against him laid out killings that were ordered in response to adolescent trash talking.

    […] experts have found the gang has barely any role in the international drug trade. The Congressional Research Service said that it could be misleading to call MS-13 a transnational criminal organization at all, because it has no central leader or global ambitions. The gang is made up of sometimes competing cliques, often led by teenagers most interested in wielding power over other young people in their immediate circles.

    […] On Long Island, the gang’s focus has often been on controlling the halls of a single high school.

    2. MS-13 Is Not Posing as Fake Families at the Border
    In justifying the policy of child separation last week, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said, “The kids are being used as pawns by the smugglers and the traffickers. Those are traffickers, those are smugglers and that is MS-13.” The theory is that Central American gang leaders are showing up at the border falsely claiming to be the parents of children, and are also instructing unaccompanied minors to go to the U.S. and claim territory.

    Actually, there have been fewer than 200 cases of false family claims this year—a fraction of 1 percent of the total number of families apprehended at the border—and there is no indication that any of those cases involved MS-13. […]

    Even the 19-year-old gang leader charged with six murders on Long Island told his ex-girlfriend he was not a member of the gang when he came to the U.S. from El Salvador. He said it was only later, in the New York suburbs, that he was recruited.

    And some MS-13 members are born right here. The Suffolk County Police Department examined a sample of active MS-13 members and found that just a quarter had come to the U.S. as unaccompanied minors. The natural conclusion: This is not a border issue. It’s a recruitment issue.

    3. MS-13 Is Sticking Around, but It’s Not Growing
    Trump talks about the gang as if it is suddenly taking over. “The weak illegal immigration policies of the Obama Admin. allowed bad MS 13 gangs to form in cities across U.S.,” he wrote in a tweet.

    MS-13 has been stubbornly persistent, but it remains a boutique criminal organization, accounting for a tiny portion of 1.4 million gang members nationwide. […]

    MS-13 never invaded the U.S at all. It was founded in Los Angeles in the 1980s, and then mixed with California prison gang culture and was exported to El Salvador.

    The group remains significantly smaller than the Crips, the Bloods and the Latin Kings; it’s also smaller than several gangs you’ve probably never heard of, like the Gangster Disciples in Chicago. Even the Center for Immigration Studies, which has been labeled an extremist group for its anti-immigrant ideology, can’t come up with more than an average of 35 murders per year attributed to MS-13—far fewer than that Chicago gang you didn’t know existed. […]

    4. MS-13 Is Preying on a Specific Community, Not the Country at Large
    When confronted last week with audio obtained by ProPublica of wailing children separated from their parents, White House Communications Adviser Mercedes Schlapp said, “What’s very heartbreaking is to watch Americans who have lost their children because of the MS-13 gang members.” But the vast majority of MS-13 victims are young immigrants, many of them undocumented. […]

    The White House put out a statement last month that described recent murders carried out by “MS-13 animals.” Lost in the controversy over whether it was OK to call gang members animals was the fact that of the six identified victims, five were immigrants and the other was a child of immigrants.

    5. Immigration Raids and Deportation Can Only Go So Far
    Secretary Nielsen said last week that the presence of MS-13 in the U.S. is “the exclusive product of loopholes in our federal immigration laws.” The loopholes she is talking about are actually specific protections contained in United Nations conventions on refugees and torture, which the U.S. ratified. […]

    I sat in on one hearing for a Long Island 17-year-old who had been detained for half a year after he wrote the El Salvador telephone code, “503,” in a notebook at school. He had spent some of that time in a detention center now under investigation for child abuse. At the hearing, an immigration judge ordered the teen released and openly mocked the gang charges. “I note that ‘503′ is an area code,” the judge said. “He may have had his grandmother’s phone number written in his notebook. We don’t know. But I think this is slim, slim evidence on which to base the continuing detention of an unaccompanied child.”

    That’s not to say that all of the immigrant teenagers accused of gang affiliation are innocent. But Immigration and Customs Enforcement has arrested some 8,000 suspected MS-13 members in the past decade. If deportation was all it took, the gang would be gone by now. […]

    Last month, I accompanied the mother of a high school freshman killed by MS-13 to a Trump event on Long Island. Inside a government building, the president railed against the gang. “They killed a cop for the sake of making a statement. They wanted to make a statement, so they killed a cop,” he said. (They did not kill a cop.)

    […] for any policy to work, it needs to be rooted in reality.

    Apologies for the extra-long post, (and there’s much more at the link), but we need to come to grips with Trump’s use of MS-13 as an all-purpose bogey man to stoke anti-immigration fears.

  132. says

    The heist of the century:

    A month ago, the Supreme Court sided against workers’ rights in an important arbitration case. A week later, the high court sided with Ohio Republicans on purges from state voter rolls. A week after that, the justices rejected efforts to stop partisan gerrymandering.

    Today, the Supreme Court sided with Donald Trump on his Muslim ban and said California’s law on anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers is likely unconstitutional.

    What do these rulings have in common? First, they were all 5-4 decisions. And second, each of these cases probably would’ve gone the other way if Neil Gorsuch hadn’t filled the vacancy left by the late Antonin Scalia.

    The New York Times noted today: “The consequences of President Trump’s nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch to the Supreme Court — and the Republican blockade of President Obama’s nomination of Merrick B. Garland in 2016 for that seat — reverberated powerfully on Tuesday as the court’s conservative majority handed down major decisions on Mr. Trump’s travel ban and on abortion rights.”

    It’s been described by many as the “heist of the century,” and Republicans continue to reap the rewards of the robbery. […]


  133. says

    The horror continues, as confirmed today by HHS Secretary Alex Azar:

    Despite the pretense of signing an executive order that had little or no effect on how families are treated at the border, and despite making various claims about efforts to reunite families already separated by Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has made it clear: Trump is not surrendering his hostages.

    Azar testified before Congress on Tuesday where, according to the Washington Post, he told the lawmakers that if they wanted kids returned to their families, it would have to come as part of legislation. Otherwise, Trump will continue to have families held, children will continue to be separated, and no one is getting a kid back unless they’re on the way out of the country.

    “I cannot reunite them, though, while the parents are in custody because of the court order that doesn’t allow the kids to be with their parents for more than 20 days,” he said. “We need Congress to fix that.”

    So … no. Trump’s executive order didn’t end, or even seriously effect family separations. Though it did do an excellent job of collecting headlines informing the nation that Trump had “solved” this problem. […]

  134. says

    From Elizabeth Warren:

    […] Before we could get in, CBP [Customs and Border Patrol] insisted we had to watch a government propaganda video. There’s no other way to describe it – it’s like a movie trailer. It was full of dramatic narration about the “illegals” crossing our border, complete with gory pictures about the threats that these immigrants bring to the United States, from gangs to skin rashes. The star of the show is CBP, which, according to the video, has done a great job driving down the numbers.

    Then an employee described what we were about to see. “They have separate pods. I’ll call them pods. I don’t really know how they name them.” Clearly they had gotten the memo not to call them what they are: cages. Every question I asked them had a complicated answer that led to two more questions – even the simple question about how long people were held there. “Nobody is here longer than 24 hours.” “Well, maybe 24-48 hours.” “72 hours max.” And “no children are separated out.” “Well, except older children.”

    The warehouse is enormous, with a solid concrete floor and a high roof. It is filled with cages. Cages for men. Cages for women. Cages for mamas with babies. Cages for girls. Cages for boys.

    The stench – body odor and fear – hits the second the door is opened. The first cages are full of men. The chain link is about 12-15 feet high, and the men are tightly packed. I don’t think they could all lie down at the same time. There’s a toilet at the back of the cage behind a half-wall, but no place to shower or wash up. One man kept shouting, “A shower, please. Just a shower.”

    I asked the men held in cage after cage where they were from. Nearly all of them were from El Salvador, Guatemala, or Honduras.

    Then I asked them how long they had been there – and the answers were all over the map, from a few days to nearly two weeks (72 hours max?). The CBP agents rushed to correct the detained men, claiming that their answers couldn’t be right. My immigration specialist on the trip who speaks fluent Spanish made sure the men understood that the question was, “How long have you been in the building?” Their answers didn’t change.[…]

    Next we came into the area where the children were held. These cages were bigger with far more people. In the center of the cage, there’s a freestanding guard tower probably a story or story-and-a-half taller to look down over the children. The girls are held separately in their own large cage. The children told us that they had come to the United States with family and didn’t know where they had been taken. Eleven years old. Twelve. Locked in a cage with strangers. Many hadn’t talked to their mothers or fathers. They didn’t know where they were or what would happen to them next.

    The children were quiet. Early afternoon, and they just sat. Some were on thin mats with foil blankets pulled over their heads. They had nothing – no books, no toys, no games. They looked shell shocked.

    And then there were the large cages with women and small children. Women breast-feeding their young children. […]

    One thing you won’t see much of in the CBP processing center? Fathers caged with their children. After pressing the CBP agents, they explained that men traveling with children are automatically released from the facility. They just don’t have the cages there to hold them. Women with small children, on the other hand, could be detained indefinitely. I pressed them on this again and again. The only answer: they claimed to be protecting “the safety of the mother and children.” […]

    Much More at the link.

  135. says

    More from Elizabeth’s Warren’s article, (see comment 219 for the link):

    […] An ICE official brought in a group of nine detained mothers who had volunteered to speak to us. I don’t believe that ICE cherry-picked these women for the meeting, because everything they told me was horrifying.

    Each mother told us her own story about crossing the border, being taken to a processing center, and the point that they were separated from their child or children. In every case, the government had lied to them about where their children were being taken. In every case, save one, no mother had spoken to her child in the days since the separation. And in every case, no mother knew where her child was.

    At the time of separation, most of the mothers were told their children would be back. One woman had been held at “the icebox,” a center that has earned its nickname for being extremely cold. When the agent came to take her child, she was told that it was just too cold for the child in the center, and that they were just going to keep the child warm until she was transferred. That was mid-June. She hasn’t seen her child since.

    One mother had been detained with her child. They were sleeping together on the floor of one of the cages, when, at 3:00am, the guards took her away. She last saw her 7-year-old son sleeping on the floor. She cried over and over, “I never got to say goodbye. I never got to say goodbye.” That was early-June, and she hasn’t seen him since. […]

  136. says

    Another horrifying detail from Elizabeth Warren’s article:

    Detainees can pay to make phone calls, but all of their possessions are taken from them at the processing center. The only way they can get money for a call is for someone to put money on their accounts. I asked if people or charities could donate money so that they’d be able to make phone calls to their family or lawyers, but they said no – a donor would need the individual ID number for every person detained at the center, and ICE obviously isn’t going to release that information.

    Three young lawyers were at Port Isabel at the same time we were. The lawyers told us that their clients – the people they’ve spoken to in the detention center – have strong and credible cases for asylum. But the entire process for being granted asylum depends on one phone call with an immigration official where they make the case for why they should be allowed to stay. One of the first questions a mother will be asked is, “Have you been separated from a child?” For some of the women, just asking that question makes them fall apart and weep.

  137. says

    From Sotomayor’s dissent in the travel ban case:

    […] Unlike in Masterpiece, where the majority considered the state commissioners’ statements about religion to be persuasive evidence of unconstitutional government action, id., at ___–___ (slip op., at 12–14), the majority here completely sets aside the President’s charged statements about Muslims as irrelevant. That holding erodes the foundational principles of religious tolerance that the Court elsewhere has so emphatically protected, and it tells members of minority religions in our country “‘that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community.’” Santa Fe, 530 U. S., at 309. […]


  138. says

    Just today, Trump repeated the lie that construction has already begun on his precious WALL. He is lying … again.

    […] Going all the way back to April, Trump has been in the habit of claiming that taxpayer-funded construction of the wall he promised Mexico would pay for has already started.

    There’s just one problem — he’s lying.

    Congress has in fact appropriated no money for Trump’s wall. Democrats were willing to give Trump up to $3 billion on border security measures last winter, but Trump wouldn’t take yes for an answer. Instead, he refused any deal that included less than $20 billion in multi-year wall funding (in addition to rollbacks on legal immigration) as part of an omnibus immigration bill.

    A spending bill signed by Trump in March contained $1.6 billion on border security measures, but that money is only available for fencing and improvement to existing barriers — not to build the wall [based on] prototypes Trump made a big show of inspecting in March. […]


  139. says

    Follow-up to comment 223.

    More from Justice Sonia Sotomayor:

    “A reasonable observer would conclude that the Proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus,” Sotomayor wrote. “The majority holds otherwise by ignoring the facts, misconstruing our legal precedent, and turning a blind eye to the pain and suffering the Proclamation inflicts upon countless families and individuals, many of whom are United States citizens.”

    In the majority opinion, the justices explicitly overruled the 1944 Korematsu decision, but Justice Sotomayor rejected their arguments, saying that their actions “merely replaces one ‘gravely wrong’ decision with another”:

    “In the intervening years since Korematsu, our Nation has done much to leave its sordid legacy behind … Today, the Court takes the important step of finally overruling Korematsu, denouncing it as “gravely wrong the day it was decided.”…This formal repudiation of a shameful precedent is laudable and long overdue. But it does not make the majority’s decision here acceptable or right. By blindly accepting the Government’s misguided invitation to sanction a discriminatory policy motivated by animosity toward a disfavored group, all in the name of a superficial claim of national security, the Court redeploys the same dangerous logic underlying Korematsu and merely replaces one “gravely wrong” decision with another. […]


  140. says

    Team Trump is threatening federal judges:

    The Trump administration is warning a federal judge that issuing a court order mandating reunification of immigrant children forcibly separated from their parents could actually slow implementation of […] Trump’s decision to end that practice.

    The American Civil Liberties Union has asked a judge in San Diego to immediately grant a preliminary injunction that would require nearly all children younger than 5 to be reunited with their parents within 10 days and older children within 30 days.

    However, Justice Department attorneys filed a written brief Tuesday urging U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw to let federal agencies act on their own to carry out the executive order Trump issued last week abandoning the family-separation policy that triggered a continuing public outcry across the country.

    “The agencies are working to reunify families now that the President has ordered an end to family separation policies,” Justice Department lawyers wrote. “This Court should give the agencies time to take action, rather than issuing an injunctive order. … A court-imposed process is likely to slow the reunification process and cause confusion and conflicting obligations, rather than speed the process of reunifying families in a safe and efficient manner.”

    The government lawyers said efforts to implement Trump’s order are underway, but they give little new insight into officials’ plans on that front and committed to no timeline.

    The Trump administration’s filing also says a “hasty” decision to grant the order sought by the ACLU would complicate authorities’ ability to handle cases in which the family member might pose a danger to the child or the child could pose a danger to others. […]

    Politico link

    Don’t believe a word that comes out of the mouths of lawyers working for team Trump.

  141. says

    Cutting school safety funds, cutting funds for mental health? Republicans wouldn’t do that, would they?

    While everyone is focused on the horrors of Trump’s baby jails, the monumental stupidity of his trade war, and the swirling cesspool of Russian cyberfuckery, House Republicans have been busy cooking the books and cutting the social safety net, and yesterday they they made their most brazen proposal yet.

    […] the current draft of the House 2019 spending bill for the Education and Health and Human Services departments calls for $110 million in cuts to programs that fund school safety and behavioral health programs. These are the kind of programs meant to curb violence in schools with counselors and anti-bullying initiatives. Good thing we haven’t had any school shootings this year! […]

    None of this should be too surprising. The House has consistently defunded school safety initiatives for a decade. […]

    Under the House bill, funding for so-called safe schools national activities would be less than 10 percent of what it was in 2007, when similar Education Department programs had around $500 million to spend. That declined sharply in fiscal 2010, when about $300 million in state grants lapsed, and again in fiscal 2012, when it dropped from $191 million to $64.8 million

    Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole, who chairs of the subcommittee responsible for drafting the bill, cautions that the changes aren’t final and more money could be added as the bill goes through markup, but we shouldn’t hold our breath. House Republicans have been gutting the social safety net over the last few weeks, hoping the warnings of policy nerds would be drowned out by the bloodcurdling screams echoing from Trump’s baby jails. […]


  142. says

    Rep. Steve Cohen: “Very,very difficult to sit in #House #judiciary and listen as Republicans attempt to discredit #Mueller #Rosenstein #Wray #FBI #Justice department and anyone who may bring forth info re #Russia and #Trump.Committee is acting in contravention of its historic role.”

    (Yes, they brought them in again.)

  143. says

    Matthew Miller re the Ellis decision: “You mean the judge was just making a ruckus in court to enjoy a little attention and never intended to dismiss the case? I am shocked.”

    When I read the comments from reporters and experts familiar with the judge, and especially after I read the transcript of the hearing, I was much more optimistic; still, it’s one small bit of good news on a tragic day.

  144. says

    “A Decision That Will Live in Infamy”:

    In what may be the worst decision since the infamous Korematsu case, when the Supreme Court upheld the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, the court today by a 5-4 vote upheld President Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban.

    Like the Korematsu decision, Trump v. Hawaii elevates legal formalities as a way to avoid addressing what everyone understood is really at issue here — namely, prejudice. Chief Justice John Roberts’s majority opinion downplays Trump’s anti-Muslim bias, focusing instead on the president’s legal power to block immigration in the name of national security.

    The decision will be a stain not only on the legacy of the Roberts court, but on that of the Supreme Court itself. The court tried to compensate by saying how bad the Korematsu decision was. And Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a separate concurrence in which he hints that perhaps the lower courts could reconsider the question of anti-religious animus. But these efforts are far too little to save the court, or Kennedy, from the judgment of history, which will be harsh.

    …Roberts is trying to argue that, when a president is acting within his executive authority, the court should defer to what the president says his intention is, no matter the underlying reality.

    That’s more or less what the Supreme Court did in the Korematsu case. There, Justice Hugo Black, a Franklin D. Roosevelt loyalist, denied that the orders requiring the internment of Japanese-Americans were based on racial prejudice. The dissenters, especially Justice Frank Murphy, pointed out that this was preposterous.

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s most liberal member, played the truth-telling role today. Her dissent, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, states bluntly that a reasonable observer looking at the record would conclude that the ban was “motivated by anti-Muslim animus.”

    She properly invokes the Korematsu case — in which, she points out, the government also claimed a national security rationale when it was really relying on stereotypes. And she concludes that “our Constitution demands, and our country deserves, a Judiciary willing to hold the coordinate branches to account when they defy our most sacred legal commitments.”

    Roberts certainly knows the consequences of this decision. He tries to deflect the Korematsu comparison by saying that the order as written could have been enacted by any other president — a point that is irrelevant to the reality of the ban. Roberts also takes the opportunity to announce that Korematsu “was gravely wrong the day it was decided [and] has been overruled in the court of history.”

    In another context, we might well be celebrating the fact that the Supreme Court had finally and expressly repudiated Korematsu, which it had never fully done before. Instead, Roberts’s declaration reads like a desperate attempt to change the subject. The truth is that this decision and Korematsu are a pair: Prominent instances where the Supreme Court abdicated its claim to moral leadership.

    It has taken two generations for the court to begin to live down the taint of Korematsu. The taint of Trump v. Hawaii will last just as long.

    More at the link.

  145. says

    “Detention Camps on Military Bases ‘Smacks of Totalitarianism,’ Troops Say”:

    Active-duty and retired U.S. military officers and enlisted personnel are expressing a sense of moral emergency over the Defense Department setting up detention camps for undocumented immigrants on military bases.

    “It smacks of totalitarianism,” said Steve Kleinman, a retired Air Force colonel and military intelligence officer.

    Raf Noboa, an Iraq War veteran and former Army sergeant, said he was astounded by the “enormous moral offense” the camps represent and which the military will be ordered to support.

    “America’s military once liberated people from concentration camps,” Noboa told The Daily Beast. “It beggars the mind and our morality that it might be used to secure them.”

    Following site visits to four military installations, mostly in Texas, by Department of Health and Human Services officials, Defense Secretary James Mattis said on Monday that the Department of Homeland Security had formally requested the Pentagon establish the camps at two bases, which Mattis called “temporary.”

    Mattis on Monday appeared to draw some distance from the policy by saying the military would be in a “logistics support response mode,” rather than an active jailor.

    But to several active and retired servicemembers interviewed by The Daily Beast, establishing the detention camps on base wraps an unethical and questionably legal policy in the honor of military service. They considered the military to be placed in an agonizing situation that pincers soldiers and airmen between the need for military discipline and a policy harking back to the infamous detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II or the forcible separation of children of native nations after Wounded Knee.

    “Even if military people aren’t directly participating in that practice, if they’re housing the children held hostage as part of this process, they’re part of an unjust and potentially unlawful enterprise,” said Paul Yingling, a retired Army colonel.

    “The Department of Defense is participating in a scheme that appropriates the concept of military honor to perpetrate a human rights abuse. DOD’s specific task might not be illegal, at least not unambiguously illegal. But DOD would be participating in hostage taking,” Yingling said. At the Pentagon, Yingling added, senior officials “have to decide, right now, if they’re going to participate in a clearly unethical and possibly illegal hostage scheme.”…

    The report @ #77 above, which sadly hasn’t yet broken through, also seems relevant here.

  146. says

    UK issues:

    “UK democracy under threat and reform is urgent, says electoral regulator”: “The Electoral Commission has called for urgent reforms to electoral law after a series of online political campaign scandals, acknowledging concerns that British democracy ‘may be under threat’.”

    “Why did Nigel Farage tell the world he thought remain had won?”: “The threats posed by leaving the EU to the many – our jobs, rights and protections – seem to be benefiting an elite few. These City wide boys – the real ‘bad boys’ of Brexit – have used and continue to use Brexit as a way to swell their own wealth and power. This could be the ultimate big short, and a victory for disaster capitalism. It seems that Soros was right in his prediction: ‘A vote for Brexit would make some people very rich – but most voters considerably poorer’.”

    (See #188 above for context.)

  147. says

    TPM article on the Ellis decision. Some of his comments are pretty ridiculous:

    He argued that a “a bipartisan commission with subpoena power” would be a “better mechanism for addressing concerns about election interference.”

    “The appointment of special prosecutors has the potential to disrupt these checks and balances, and to inject a level of toxic partisanship into investigation of matters of public importance,” Ellis said, adding the the U.S. system of checks and balances “ultimately works only if people of virtue, sensitivity, and courage, not affected by the winds of public opinion, choose to work within the confines of the law.”

    “Let us hope that the people in charge of this prosecution, including the Special Counsel and the Assistant [sic] Attorney General, are such people,” he said.

    Even if Mueller weren’t the straight shooter he is, seeing as they’re both Republicans, I think there’s little chance of their injecting toxic partisanship into the investigation.

  148. says

    “Donald Trump made 103 false claims last week, shattering his dishonesty record”:

    The frequency of U.S. President Donald Trump’s dishonesty had steadily accelerated since late last year.

    Then, last week, it skyrocketed.

    Trump made an astonishing 103 false claims over those seven days, an average of 15 per day. That shatters his one-week record of 60, which he had set in early March.

    Trump is incessantly inaccurate, but that number is still remarkable. To put it in perspective: he uttered fewer than 100 false claims in eight of his first ten months in office. His previous average had been 101 per month….

  149. says

    BREAKING: Big win for voting rights in Virginia! Federal Court STRIKES DOWN 11 Virginia State House districts as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. Gives the legislature ‘until October 30 to construct a remedial districting plan that rectifies the constitutional deficiencies’.”

  150. says

    Malcolm Nance: “I’ve met Milo Y. He’s never held a gun, seen a gun or seen anything more violent in his life than shaking a vodka martini. He is the ultimate attention seeking fraud.”

    The last part is undoubtedly true, and “never…seen anything more violent in his life than shaking a vodka martini” made me laugh. That said, Yiannopoulos has publicly indicated that he was a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and his estranged relationship with his parents suggests other problems. It’s important to remember that war and political violence aren’t the only forms of violence, and that violence against and abuse of kids profoundly influences their adult attitudes toward all sorts of violence.

  151. says

    “A Progressive Insurgent Just Pulled Off the Biggest Democratic Primary Upset in Years: Meet Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.”:

    The Democratic Party just had its Eric Cantor moment. In Tuesday’s New York Democratic primary, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old former Bernie Sanders organizer, knocked off incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley—the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. Crowley was considered by many to be second in line to be Speaker of the House if Democrats capture the chamber in the November elections.

    Although Crowley was a reliable progressive vote in Congress, Ocasio-Cortez offered a platform that was substantially to the left. A member of the Democratic Socialists of America, she was one of the first congressional candidates to call for the abolition of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, better known as ICE….

    Crowley conceded and immediately endorsed her:

    I want to congratulate @Ocasio2018. I look forward to supporting her and all Democrats this November. The Trump administration is a threat to everything we stand for here in Queens and the Bronx, and if we don’t win back the House this November, we will lose the nation we love.

    She replied:

    Thank you, @JoeCrowleyNY, for your support and longstanding service to our community.

    I look forward to working towards a takeback of the House on a strong platform of economic, social, and racial justice for working class New Yorkers & Americans.

    Let’s do this.

    Here’s a picture of Ocasio-Cortez from November – she was working as a bartender.

  152. says

    “North Korea making ‘rapid’ upgrades to nuclear reactor despite summit pledges”:

    North Korea has continued to upgrade its only known nuclear reactor used to fuel its weapons program, satellite imagery has shown, despite ongoing negotiations with the US and a pledge to denuclearise.

    Infrastructure improvements at the Yongbyon nuclear plant are “continuing at a rapid pace”, according to an analysis by monitoring group 38 North of commercial satellite images taken on 21 June.

    Despite the lack of clarity on any nuclear deal, South Korea has pushed ahead with diplomatic efforts. The two sides met for military talks this week aimed at restoring communication lines, and railway officials agreed to explore connecting the two countries by rail.

    Checks will begin next month on long-unused lines that once allowed travel across the entire peninsula. Talks began a decade ago, but were suspended amid rising tensions. South Korea already has a gleaming steel and glass station just south of its highly militarised border with the North, with tracks marked for service to the North’s capital, Pyongyang.

    Kim singled out the South’s advanced railway infrastructure during his meeting with Moon in April, acknowledging in a rare admission of weakness that the North lagged far behind its neighbour. But progress on the nuclear issue and the lifting of sanctions would have to come before any joint rail projects.

  153. says

    I had missed this important part of Judge Wood’s order @ #228 – “Judge: Prosecutors about to get most Cohen raid materials”:

    Prosecutors will get their hands on over 4 million files seized from the former personal lawyer for President Donald Trump after a judge on Tuesday ordered most of the materials released to investigators probing the lawyer’s business dealings.

    U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood said lawyers for attorney Michael Cohen, Trump and the Trump Organization can make final designations on items subject to attorney- privilege or deemed highly personal by Wednesday night. After that, criminal prosecutors can begin analyzing undesignated files, the judge said….

  154. says

    “Congress on North Korea Deal: ‘We Have No Information’”:

    After initially promising to give lawmakers a key role in a possible nuclear deal between the United States and North Korea, the Trump administration has largely shunned Congress.

    It has been two weeks since President Donald Trump’s historic summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. But the administration has kept Congress in the dark about how it plans to proceed with the negotiations, and officials have not yet formally briefed lawmakers about the summit itself. As of Tuesday, no briefings had been scheduled.

    The absence of communication about the summit has begun to frustrate lawmakers who say, remarkably, that they know as much about the high-stakes meeting as the general public knows.

    “We have no information,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told The Daily Beast. “We’re trying to get [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo in to share with us what occurred, but I have the same information that you have.”

    But it’s not just Corker’s panel that remains on the sidelines. Earlier this month, the Trump administration granted a select group of senators from both sides of the aisle an “observer” role in the North Korea negotiation process. But that contingent, the National Security Working Group (NSWG), has not met in recent weeks and has not received briefings or other classified materials about the status of the negotiations, congressional sources told The Daily Beast.

    Complicating matters further for lawmakers is that Pompeo, in recent days, has given conflicting responses about a timetable for the negotiations with North Korea. Earlier this month, the Secretary of State said he was aiming for full denuclearization by the end of Trump’s first term in office. But on Monday, he tapped the brakes lightly, saying in an interview with CNN that he was “not going to put a timeline on it,” although the U.S. would “constantly reassess” whether North Korea is committed to seeing the process through to the end.

    Lawmakers will have an opportunity to press Pompeo on Wednesday when he testifies in front of a Senate appropriations subcommittee, but the hearing will be focused on the department’s budget for the next fiscal year.

  155. says

    “Federal Court Orders Reunification of Thousands of Parents and Children Torn Apart by Trump Family Separation Policy”:

    A federal judge late tonight ordered the reunification of thousands of parents and children forcibly separated by the Trump administration. The American Civil Liberties Union sought the nationwide preliminary injunction to halt the practice and immediately reunite all the separated families. Thousands of families have been torn apart by this inhumane practice, which is designed to scare other families from seeking refuge in the United States. Trump’s policy has sparked global outrage.

    The court said all children must be reunited within 30 days; children under five within 14 days; and all parents must be able to speak with their children within 10 days. The court also prohibited any deportation of parents without their children, absent of a knowing waiver. In the future, no child can be separated unless it is genuinely in the child’s best interest, such as a showing of a parent as abusive….

  156. says

    Peter Strzok will appear before the House Judiciary Committee in a closed hearing in a few minutes. They subpoenaed him to testify behind closed doors despite his having volunteered to testify in open session.

  157. says

    “Saudis arrest another women’s right activist”:

    Saudi Arabia has arrested Hatoon al-Fassi, a Saudi women’s rights activist and writer, as part of its crackdown on activists in the kingdom, a human rights group said.

    ALQST, a UK-based rights group focusing on Saudi Arabia, confirmed to Al Jazeera on Wednesday al-Fassi’s arrest.

    Considered a leading figure in the women’s rights field in the region and the kingdom in particular, al-Fassi has long been fighting for the rights of Saudi women, including their right to participate in municipal elections.

    As a scholar, her work focuses on women’s history and politics.

    Earlier on Wednesday, United Nations experts urged Saudi Arabia to immediately release a number of women’s human rights defenders arrested in the nationwide crackdown.

    “In stark contrast with this celebrated moment of liberation for Saudi women, women’s human rights defenders have been arrested and detained on a wide scale across the country, which is truly worrying and perhaps a better indication of the Government’s approach to women’s human rights,” they said in a statement….

  158. says

    “Heathrow airport: MPs vote in favour of expansion”:

    MPs have backed controversial plans to build a third runway at London’s Heathrow airport.

    The government won a key vote in the Commons by 415 votes to 119 – a majority of 296.

    Tory MPs were under orders to support the government – but Boris Johnson, a leading opponent of expansion, missed the vote because he was in Afghanistan.

    Labour’s official position was to oppose expansion, but its MPs were given a free vote. The SNP abstained.

    The vote was welcomed by business group the CBI as “a truly historic decision that will open the doors to a new era in the UK’s global trading relationships”.

    But Greenpeace UK said it was ready to join a cross-party group of London councils and the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, in a legal challenge against the third runway.

    And Friends of the Earth said in a statement: “MPs who backed this climate-wrecking new runway will be harshly judged by history.

    “The evidence on the accelerating climate crisis, which is already hitting the world’s most vulnerable people, is overwhelming – and expanding Heathrow will only intensify the misery.”…

  159. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 254.

    From U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw:

    Money, important documents, and automobiles, to name a few, are routinely catalogued, stored, tracked and produced upon a detainee’s release, at all levels — state and federal, citizen and alien. Yet, the government has no system in place to keep track of, provide effective communication with, and promptly produce alien children. The unfortunate reality is that under the present system migrant children are not accounted for with the same efficiency and accuracy as property. Certainly, that cannot satisfy the requirements of due process.

  160. says

    Adam Serwer: “Supreme Court decisions this term are just a full slate of attacks on Democratic constituencies: Hurting public sector unions, sanctioning discriminatory voting laws, giving Trump a roadmap for ‘colorblind’ discrimination, blessing gerrymandering, and on and on.”

  161. says

    The travel ban decision echoes some of the worst Supreme Court decisions in history

    Short excerpt from a much longer article:

    […] The result of today’s decision is that discrimination on racial and religious grounds is now de facto permissible — so long as it done under the rubric of immigration or national security. If there is what the Plessy Court called a “badge of inferiority” affixed to some because of their race or imputed religion, it is once more “solely” the result of their own imaginations.

    The racial and religious minorities — citizens and noncitizens alike — who are at the sharp end of the travel ban’s discriminatory focus have reason to fear. The Court’s decision does more than recapitulate some of the worst opinions of our constitutional history.

    It also condones a morally compromised style of governing in which policies are launched by an appeal to raw fear and hatred, and then whitewashed at the back end by a small measure of bureaucratic wheel-spinning.

    This style of populism is in ascendance today. Expectations that the travel ban will be its first and last result are wishful thinking — thanks to the Supreme Court’s tone-deaf and morally obtuse judgment Tuesday.

    Those hoping that the Court had learned something from Plessy and Korematsu will be disappointed. It hasn’t. I fear it is vulnerable racial and religious minorities that will pay the price. If they do, the Court deserves much of the blame.

  162. blf says

    India, DRC, US among most dangerous countries for women: poll:

    India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the US are among the top 10 most dangerous countries for women, according to a new poll by Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    The organisation surveyed nearly 550 experts focused on women’s issues, asking them to rank countries based on a number of key issues, including access to healthcare, prevalence of sexual abuse and discrimination.

    The experts ranked India as the most dangerous country for women.

    “The world’s second most populous nation, with 1.3 billion people, ranked as the most dangerous on three of the topic questions — the risk of sexual violence and harassment against women, the danger women face from cultural, tribal and traditional practices, and the country where women are most in danger of human trafficking including forced labour, sex slavery and domestic servitude,” the findings said.


    The last time Thomson Reuters Foundation conducted the poll [2011], India ranked fourth overall.

    This year’s survey listed Afghanistan as the second most dangerous country for women.


    The United States was listed as the 10th most dangerous country for women, ranking third on the question of sexual violence and sixth on the issue of non-sexual violence.

    Thomson Reuters Foundation pointed out that the survey was conducted after the #MeToo movement went viral last year […]


    Almost one in five women have been raped, and more than one in three experienced rape, violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the US, according to 2010 statistics by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    It is worth noting that no Latin American country topped the list, despite many countries having high rates of femicide and 49 countries having no laws to protect women from domestic violence, according to UN Women.


    Globally, it is estimated that one in three women experience physical or sexual violence during her lifetime, and nearly 750 million women and girls married before their 18th birthday.


  163. says

    The Trumps constantly repost Fox News Instagrams of their own quotes

    […] Like the mother ship cable network, Fox News’ Instagram is focused on flattering the president’s ego and pre-emptively discrediting the Mueller investigation while riling Trump’s base with snapshots of hated Democrats and insinuations of liberal hypocrisy. (It occasionally posts photos of cute animals and children too; this is still Instagram, after all.) The apparent goal is to elicit some direct response from Trump and his inner circle. As the Trumps are very vain, they often take the bait. […]

    Slapping text onto a photo and recirculating it is a glorious internet tradition—it is basically the definition of a meme. But Fox News’ Instagram denatures that tradition by 1) avoiding any of the absurd or witty juxtapositions that make memes great; 2) failing to transform either the image or the quotation in any meaningful sense; 3) serving as propaganda for a malicious idiot. And thus, they are the main factory of memes for the witless, created and reposted by people who are too cautious or prominent to go full Pepe. […]

    The best bad Fox News Instagram posts are of the “Great job, Mr. President! God bless our wise leader!” variety. These are usually direct quotes from Trump. There are a lot of these posts, and I believe that they are aimed directly at Trump and his inner circle. Trump and his family members love to repost these Trump-fluffing semimemes on their own Instagram accounts. Donald J. Trump Jr. is a prime example. His Instagram account is a haven for self-congratulatory regrams of lame Fox News quotestagrams: […]

  164. says

    Apologies if this has been covered and I missed it, but this is a new, in-depth article – “This Christian Group Fostering Migrant Kids Has a History of Coercive Adoptions”:

    A Michigan state official told Rewire.News there is no real system in place for finding the parents of children separated from their families by the Trump administration. Some of those children are being housed in the state by Bethany Christian Services, a religious adoption agency with a troubling record.

    ORR has funneled these children into a patchwork of shelters and foster homes overseen by organizations including Bethany, which has long faced accusations of discriminating against LGBTQ couples and coercing parents into giving up babies for adoption.

    Media outlets have largely overlooked the troubling record of Bethany, a well-connected powerhouse of the anti-choice movement, even as reporters have interviewed the agency’s leaders on the plight of migrant kids….

    Susan Hays is the legal director of Jane’s Due Process, one of the grassroots organizations that initially alerted the ACLU to the fact that young people in ORR custody were being denied access to care, even in instances of rape. The information led to Azar v. Garza, which is ongoing, but an injunction is currently in place allowing young people in ORR custody to access care.

    “Perhaps it’s my paranoid mind or doing this work too long, but since the policy emerged from ORR that was trying to force migrants to have children, I’ve worried this was always about getting babies [away from migrants for adoption],” Hays told Rewire.News. “We have no idea if they are shuffling children around as quickly as possible so their parents can’t find them, and I frankly don’t believe the [Department of Homeland Security’s] claim that 500 children have been reunited with their families. We have no way of knowing if they’re actually making an effort to reunite families.”

    In a written statement to Rewire.News, Bethany denied that any of the children in its custody would be put up for adoption, saying the agency “will not rest until every separated child in Bethany’s care is safely reunified with family.”

    But the concerns of advocates like Hays are rooted in reality: Christian adoption agencies like Bethany have “a pattern and history of coercing women to relinquish their children,” as journalist Kathryn Joyce has reported.

    Much like ORR’s director, Bethany has gone to great lengths to dissuade people from seeking abortions, raising questions about access to reproductive health services for migrant youths in their care, many of whom may be sexually assaulted en route to the United States.

    As Rewire.News revealed in 2016, Bethany’s particular efforts to cajole patients out of ending their pregnancies have included hiring an ad firm to target “abortion-minded women” by sending ads for Bethany to their smartphones while they are sitting in Planned Parenthood clinics.

    But that’s just scratching the surface of its long and complicated history. Here’s what we know….

    Bethany has a massive reach, with an annual revenue of more than $98 million, millions of which comes from government-funded programs, tax filings show.

    Among the lawmakers who have directed public funding to Bethany is Vice President Mike Pence. As governor of Indiana, Pence shifted funds intended for low-income families in the state to a crisis pregnancy center umbrella organization, Real Alternatives, that subcontracted with Bethany Christian Services, Rewire.News reporter Jenn Stanley reported.

    The agency has also benefited from the family of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. The Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation donated $25,000 to Bethany in 2015 and 2016, while the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation outlined $2.5 million in planned and executed donations to Bethany in its 2016 filing alone.

    Much more at the link.

  165. blf says

    This is France, which means yet another argument about food. This time, apparently there has been an uptick in protests at boucheries, allegedly by vegans. The BBC reports “Over the last few months, 15 shops were splashed with fake blood”, so the butchers’ confederation (Confédération Française de la Boucherie, Boucherie-Charcuterie, Traiteurs (CFBCT)) has just gone a bit loopy and asked for police protection (Butchers demand protection from vegans). The Grauniad (Let them eat steak: butchers fight back in French culinary wars) reports the letter calls vegans fanatics and veganism “an ideology based on disinformation and intimidation, and condemn the terrorism carried out by people who want to impose their lifestyle on the majority of the people. In the letter they write: We count on your services and on the support of the whole government so that the physical, verbal and moral violence against us stops as soon as possible. For the love of God, let French people eat what they wish!

    More frogs’s legs for all ! (Except the frogs, points out the mildly deranged penguin, rummaging around for a box of Crunchy Frog.)

  166. says

    Justice Kennedy announced that he is retiring. Trump will get to appoint another conservative to the Supreme Court. Republicans in the Senate killed the filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominees (they did that for Gorsuch), so I don’t think Democrats have much in the arsenal to fight a Trump nominee.

    This news comes after a string of conservative-leaning decisions that were very bad indeed. See comments 210 and 216 (and more).

  167. says

    Follow-up to comment 270.

    […] His [Supreme Court Justice Kennedy’s] exit is expected to create a furious fight in the Senate over his replacement, and it could thrust the often overlooked issue of judicial selection to the forefront in close Senate races in this year’s midterms. The retirement comes as a blow to Democrats, and cries of “Ohh” and “Oh, my God” punctuated a call between members of the Democratic National Committee’s rules and bylaws panel as the news broke Wednesday.

    Trump told reporters Wednesday that Kennedy, whom he said has “been a great justice of the Supreme Court,” had come to the White House earlier in the day to inform him of his retirement plans. Trump said he asked Kennedy for recommendations as to his replacement but did not say how the retiring justice responded. […]


  168. says

    Follow-up to comments 270 and 271.

    The fight has begun:

    […] Moments after Kennedy said he would retire, […] Mitch McConnell said the Senate would act before the midterm election to confirm a new pick nominated by President Trump.

    “We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor this fall,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

    Democrats immediately cried foul, arguing the nomination fight should come after the midterm election.
    “Wait, so the thing about ‘the American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice’ wasn’t really about a concern for the American people?” tweeted Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “It was just about Obama?? I am shocked! SHOCKED!!”

    Murphy’s remarks referenced the Senate GOP’s decision to block former President Obama’s pick of Merrick Garland to succeed Antonin Scalia after the justice’s death in 2016. McConnell and other Senate Republicans argued at the time that the pick was too important, and that it should wait until after the presidential election.

    Democrats remain bitter over that fight, and they sought to block Justice Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the court last year. Senate Republicans got rid of the filibuster on Supreme Court nominations in response.

    McConnell called on Democrats to give Trump’s next pick fair consideration.

    “It’s imperative that the president’s nominee be considered fairly and not subjected to personal attacks,” he said. […]

    Republicans hold just 51 seats and usually have 50 in the chamber given Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) battle with brain cancer.

    That means they can likely only afford one defection on a Trump pick — unless they can convince some Democratic senators to back Trump’s nominee. […]


  169. says

    Follow-up to comments 270, 271 and 272.

    Donald Trump Junior says that Jeanine Pirro on the Supreme Court “would be pretty awesome.”

    The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. said on Wednesday that the idea of Fox News host Judge Jeanine Pirro succeeding Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy would be “pretty awesome.”

    “This would be pretty awesome,” Trump tweeted, referencing another tweet that says, “Introducing Supreme Court Justice Jeanine Pirro.” […]


    This is an “oh, FFS” moment, and an “please, no … just no” moment.

  170. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of Kennedy’s retirement:

    The Washington Post reports that Anthony Kennedy is retiring from the Supreme Court, effective July 31. Kennedy is the “swing vote” whose swing lately has been all about letting Trump ban Muslims (national security), killing unions (First Amendment), saving Christianity from gay cakes (First Amendment again), saving crisis pregnancy centers from having to say they don’t have medical personnel on staff (what a busy First Amendment!), and murdering voting rights (no reason). And that’s all just in the past week.

    Good fucking riddance, Anthony Kennedy.

    Now Donald Trump will have the opportunity to appoint a second justice, in addition to the guy who said a company can fire you for refusing to stay in an unheated truck in a snowstorm and freeze to death. We expect […]


    UPDATE! Lol, my bad, Mitch McConnell already killed the filibuster for the Supreme Court.

    Do your fucking job, Schumer. Grow a fucking backbone […] DO NOT LET THEM CONFIRM A REPLACEMENT BEFORE MERRICK GARLAND GETS A VOTE. […]

  171. says

    “America after Anthony Kennedy”:

    …A Court without Kennedy is substantially more likely to:

    – Overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states (and maybe the federal government too) to ban most or all abortions.

    – Reject challenges to capital punishment and solitary confinement.

    – Rule in favor of religious challenges to anti-discrimination law, and perhaps, in an extreme case, reverse some past Supreme Court rulings on gay rights.

    – Bar government actors from engaging in explicit race-based affirmative action….

  172. says

    Add to the list quoted in SC’s comment 275:
    – A Court without Kennedy is substantially more likely to let Trump do whatever obnoxious, dangerous and autocratic thing he wants to do.

  173. says

    “Trump shouldn’t pack the Supreme Court while under criminal investigation”:

    Trump is on the verge of selecting a second Supreme Court nominee while his entire presidency is in question, thanks to an ongoing criminal probe by the FBI.

    The Mueller investigation has already racked up five guilty pleas and 20 indictments, and he’s not finished with his investigation yet.

    His former national security adviser Michael Flynn has already pleaded guilty to lying to law enforcement about his activities on the campaign, which include multiple contacts with foreign powers who sought to influence the outcome of the election.

    Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort is currently behind bars for attempting to tamper with witnesses testifying against him in his upcoming trial. Manafort faces multiple charges.

    Trump’s fixer and longtime attorney Michael Cohen had his property raided by the FBI and is reportedly considering offering up evidence against Trump. Cohen, who answered directly to Trump, worked to quash stories unfavorable to Trump and made payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels — and possibly others — to keep Trump’s extramarital affair out of the news.

    Additionally, Trump’s son Donald Jr. lied during congressional testimony. Trump’s son was involved — along with his son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign chairman Steve Bannon — in a meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian operative offering dirt on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

    Trump has already filled one Supreme Court seat he had no right to fill. Now, with so many indictments and convictions and an ongoing investigation into whether a foreign power helped install him in the White House and he’s been covering it up ever since, he is preparing to do it again.

  174. says

    “Manafort had $10 million loan from Russian oligarch: court filing”:

    A search warrant application unsealed on Wednesday revealed closer links than previously known between President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and a Russian oligarch with close ties to the Kremlin.

    In an affidavit attached to the July 2017 application, an FBI agent said he had reviewed tax returns for a company controlled by Manafort and his wife that showed a $10 million loan from a Russian lender identified as Oleg Deripaska.

    The application to search Manafort’s Virginia apartment was granted, providing key evidence for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments of Manafort as part of his investigation into Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign.

    The affidavit unsealed on Wednesday also disclosed that Deripaska had financially backed Manafort’s consulting work in Ukraine when it started in 2005-2006, citing information from a source whose name was redacted, a sign that a former Manafort associate may have cooperated with the investigation….

  175. blf says

    It’s not hair furor who will propose the next justice, it is Putin — albeit using hair furor as his mouthpiece (the Mouth of Putin, albeit with Daleks instead of Orcs).

  176. says

    John Lewis, world treasure: “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. #goodtrouble”

  177. blf says

    Ten nazis were arrested here in France last weekend after planning to “randomly target women wearing headscarves in the street” (Ten face charges in France over suspected far-right terror plot). These loons were apparently “being monitored by France’s DGSI intelligence agency, [who] intercepted messages showing they were seeking to buy arms” (France arrests 10 radical far-right suspects over plan to attack Muslims).

    Today, on the bus back from a nice beachside pub to the centre of the village, I happened to sit next to young lady and her preschool toddler. Judging only by her dress — and in particular her headscarf — she was Muslim. The mere idea her young child could be deprived of an obviously loving mother simply because the lady was wearing a (very nice!) headscarf is absolutely unreservingly disgusting.

  178. blf says

    EU must ‘prepare for worst-case scenarios’ under Trump, top official warns:

    Senior officials concerned about the future under a new American doctrine in which there are no friends, only enemies

    Donald Trump has been accused by the European Union of pioneering a new American doctrine in which there are no friends, only enemies.

    Ahead of what is set to be a stormy Nato summit next week — and with EU leaders gathering in Brussels to discuss a developing transatlantic trade war among other issues — the bloc’s most senior officials expressed deep anxiety about the future.

    The European Council’s president, Donald Tusk, said the EU had to now prepare for the worst due to the policies of Trump’s White House. Tusk is planning to engage in a discussion with the leaders of the 28 member states on Thursday.

    Given the impending trade war, a US decision to renege on the Iran deal and the Paris climate change pact, and the repeated attack on European allies for underspending on defence, there are concerns in Brussels over the long-term stability of the relationship. Indeed it is feared that the US change in attitude could outlast Trump’s presidency.


    I’m intrigued by the suggestion “the US change in attitude could outlast [hair furor]”. (It is not explained / explored in the excerpted article.) That sort of thing clearly applies to the judiciary, which the news about Justice Kennedy brings into sharper focus, and also (for technical reasons) to the reversal of some regulations. Beyond those two(-ish) points, I’m unawares of any profound reason rationality could be not quickly reobtained once there are no thugs in office. (It does require the dummies to actually do something, so the hope, whilst not nonexistent, is far far too slim.)

  179. Hj Hornbeck says

    I’m intrigued by the suggestion “the US change in attitude could outlast [hair furor]”. […] That sort of thing clearly applies to the judiciary, which the news about Justice Kennedy brings into sharper focus, and also (for technical reasons) to the reversal of some regulations. Beyond those two(-ish) points, I’m unawares of any profound reason rationality could be not quickly reobtained once there are no thugs in office.

    Every government is dominated by civil servants who are managed by the party in power. If the President is the brains, these people are the senses, muscle, and bone. Traditionally, all but the highest-level managers are considered neutral parties and allowed to hang around for several administrations, only being removed in case of extreme incompetence. This keeps institutional knowledge around, and preserves continuity between administrations.

    Trump has been quietly gutting the civil service, though, and while he’s left a lot of open spots the people he’s put in place are openly partisan and follow his corrupt lead. If a Democrat follows Trump and is serious about cleaning up, they’ll essentially have to gut the civil service all over again, reinforcing the precedent Trump put in place and making it easier for future Republicans to wash-rinse-repeat. If the Democrat plays nice, a lot of Trump loyalists will remain and have an effect on practically every policy managed by the Executive branch.

    The Judicial branch is only the most visible part of this process in the USA. As for Canada, I’m very curious how much of Trudeau’s inaction and legislative incompetence is due to nearly a decade of Conservative control of our Executive.

  180. says

    When I begin to fall into despair, in times nowhere near as extreme as those it portrays, I often think of the great 1969 film Army of Shadows. One of our national flaws, if such a thing can exist, is a boundless, but ultimately groundless, optimism, which can too easily transform into fatalism and cynicism when the hits keep coming. In the end, we need to have rational faith but to persist even with the knowledge that we can fight and lose.

    #existentialism :)

  181. blf says

    Ah! X cannot fire Y-supporters, who where hired mostly because X-supporters were fired by the Ys, because that means Y could then, sometime later, again do what they did before.

  182. says

    Dem lawmaker just described the Strzok interview—still ongoing, it started at 10 AM—as ‘Kafka-esque’ and ‘Orwellian’.”

    Congress bellows: We need to hear directly from Peter Strzok to find out the intent behind those FBI texts!

    Strzok shows up and explains them.

    Congress: Balderdash! His rubbish explanation is one-sided and meaningless! The only thing that matters is OUR opinion of those texts!”

  183. Hj Hornbeck says

    blf @288:

    Ah! X cannot fire Y-supporters, who where hired mostly because X-supporters were fired by the Ys, because that means Y could then, sometime later, again do what they did before.

    Personally I think they should fire the damn lot, but I can guarantee a lot of Congress people would read what you wrote and sincerely agree with it. Welcome to the wonderful world of democratic norms. :'(

  184. says

    Hi, commenters and readers of the Political Madness All the Time thread.

    I have other obligations to deal with. I will be unable to comment on this thread for 4-5 days.

    Regular commenters know the drill. Carry on.

    Refer to SC’s comment 283 if you need bucking up.

    See you later.

  185. says

    The public House Judiciary Committee hearing with Rosenstein and Wray is ongoing and on C-SPAN3 – in recess at the moment. Here’s the flavor. I’ve only seen the most recent part, but here’s the flavor. They just showed Jerry Nadler’s opening statement, which was quite good. At the end he asked the Republicans (paraphrasing), “When the Mueller investigation is completed, and the enormity of the evidence in that probe becomes known, how will the American public judge your actions here today?” I know there are so many things happening today about which this is true, but it’s a national disgrace.

  186. says

    southpaw: “The truth that Shera Bechard can tell—and why she isn’t talking—becomes, in my mind, one of the most important political stories to get in the next couple months.”

    I have to agree with this. And it seems likely that she’ll soon be questioned (if she hasn’t been already), since Nader is cooperating and SDNY now has the bulk of the Cohen items.

  187. says

    Trump tweeted today, traitorously: “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election! Where is the DNC Server, and why didn’t Shady James Comey and the now disgraced FBI agents take and closely examine it? Why isn’t Hillary/Russia being looked at? So many questions, so much corruption!”

  188. says

    “Ex-Aide to Roger Stone Is Subpoenaed in Russia Investigation”:

    A former aide to Roger J. Stone Jr., the longtime Trump adviser and self-described “dirty trickster,” was subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury hearing evidence in the Russia investigation and to hand over documents, and his lawyer said he planned to move on Thursday to quash it in court.

    The aide, Andrew Miller, has not been mentioned before publicly in the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

    Mr. Miller, a registered Libertarian, worked for Mr. Stone during the campaign, helping to arrange media interviews and conducting other tasks, according to a person close to Mr. Stone.

    A lawyer, Paul Kamenar, said he planned to file a motion on Thursday on behalf of a client who was subpoenaed to be questioned in front of the grand jury, though he did not identify Mr. Miller. Mr. Kamenar said the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative nonprofit organization, was paying for his services….

  189. says

    Republicans (I can only take about a minute of their questioning before I have to mute them) are using every trick to mislead in this hearing. They refuse to make the transcript of Strzok’s testimony yesterday public, but are fine with (not even selectively quoting from but) selectively (mis-)characterizing what Strzok said. (Ted Lieu is incensed and calling for the transcript to be released.) Chabot just opened his questions by quoting (allegedly) one of his constituents from a town hall last night who asked him about the IG’s finding of bias in the exoneration of Clinton, which is not what the IG found, but if he puts it in an anonymous constituent’s words he thinks he can get away with blatantly misrepresenting the findings of the report. Jordan earlier confronted Rosenstein with some bullshit claims from anonymous congressional staffers which appeared in rightwing media about Rosenstein having threatened them. When Rosenstein denied it, Jordan asked who he should believe – staffers he trusts or Rosentein, who’s testifying under oath.

    They’re not getting what they want in the sworn testimony, the intelligence and IG investigations, or the millions of pages of documents they’ve demanded, so they resort to the cheap trick of putting their spin in the mouths of anaonymous constituents, anonymous staffers, rightwing media reports based on the tales of anonymous staffers, and their own characterizations of testimony to which the public doesn’t have access.

  190. says

    Trump: ‘We have more money and more brains and better houses and apartments and nicer boats. We are smarter than they are. They say the elite. We are the elite. You are the elite’.”

    On the one hand, it never ceases to amuse me that Trump and Bannon are completely incapable of going along with their own populist presentation, and inevitably fall into this pitiful boasting. They literally can’t consistently use “elites” to describe others, as their script says, because they can’t bear thinking of themselves as non-elites. To be accepted as an elite is something Trump has dreamt of his entire life.

    On the other hand, it’s pathetic, both their insecurity and that this fake self-image is all they have to offer their followers, who are being materially harmed by them.

  191. says

    “Special counsel eyeing Russians granted unusual access to Trump inauguration parties”:

    Several billionaires with deep ties to Russia attended exclusive, invitation-only receptions during Donald Trump’s inauguration festivities, guest lists obtained by ABC News show.

    These powerful businessmen, who amassed their fortunes following the collapse of the Soviet Union — including one who has since been sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department — were ushered into events typically reserved for top donors and close political allies and were given unprecedented access to Trump’s inner circle.

    Their presence has attracted the interest of federal investigators probing Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, three sources with knowledge of the matter said.

    Matthew Olsen, a former senior national security official who now serves as an ABC News consultant, said their presence at inaugural events is “very concerning.”

    “This reflects a Russian strategy of gaining access to our political leaders at a time when they are just forming a government,” Olsen said. “They don’t need to be spies in the James Bond sense. They are powerful people with significant wealth who are in a position to exert influence on U.S. policy makers. And they’re in a position to report back to Russian intelligence services on what they’re able to learn.”…

    Much more at the link. They include Vekselberg and Mashkevich, who was incidentally in the Seychelles at the time of the infamous meeting.

  192. says

    “Trump Admininstration Report Warns: Separating Families Is a Lousy Idea”:

    The Trump State Department released a global trafficking report Thursday that admonishes foreign governments not to institutionalize children caught up in smuggling—an awkward do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do moment as the U.S. government continues to detain thousands of migrant children taken from their families trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

    “Removal of a child from the family should only be considered as a temporary, last resort,” the annually produced State Department study states. “Studies have found that both private and government-run residential institutions for children, or places such as orphanages and psychiatric wards that do not offer a family-based setting, cannot replicate the emotional companionship and attention found in family environments that are prerequisites to healthy cognitive development.”…

  193. says

    “Leaked transcript shows Trump threw tantrum at US allies — and trashed NATO as ‘bad as NAFTA’”:

    A newly leaked transcript shows that President Donald Trump went further than anyone had previously known in trashing traditional alliances during the recent G7 meeting in Quebec.

    According to Axios’ Jonathan Swan, Trump ranted about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) during talks with other world leaders at the G7 and even hinted that he could pull out of the alliance altogether.

    “NATO is as bad as NAFTA,” the president said, according to a leaked transcript taken during the meeting. “It’s much too costly for the U.S.”…

  194. says

    “New Fox chief cracks down on inflammatory statements”:

    Amid growing backlash against inflammatory statements by Fox News commentators, network CEO Suzanne Scott summoned top show producers to a meeting last week and delivered a clear message: They need to be in control of their hosts and panelists.

    Scott told the producers that they would be held accountable for anything said on their air, and that it was their job to head off any inappropriate remarks, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting. Appearing via video conference from Washington, D.C., to the group in New York, which also included programming executives, Scott read from a prepared script, explaining that she wanted to make sure she communicated her message precisely.

    “She said, ‘You are responsible for protecting the talent, protecting the brand,’” one of the people aware of the meeting said. “She said, ‘You are responsible as the producers. You have to protect the talent and the brand.’”

    The decision by Scott, who is in her second month as CEO, to gather the executives and producers last Wednesday and read them prepared remarks was unusual, said the people familiar with the meeting, and not something they were aware had ever happened before….

    Last year, after she rose to the position of president of programming, two of her biggest decisions were tapping Ingraham and Tucker Carlson for the prime-time slots opened up by Bill O’Reilly, who left amid his own sexual harassment scandal, and Megyn Kelly, who jumped to NBC.

    Ingraham and Carlson have helped Fox News retain its No. 1 ratings, but are also prone to making controversial statements. (Carlson has also recently sparked criticism over his statements on immigration.) The very nature of hosts like that is to be provocative, points out one former Fox News producer.

    “The management hired these people knowing fullwell what they’re doing and then pretend after the fact,” the former producer said. “‘Why would they say these things? How could it possibly happen?’ What do you mean, how could it happen? You hired this person because they say crazy things.”…

  195. says

    Phil Davis, Capital Gazette reporter: “A single shooter shot multiple people at my office, some of whom are dead.”

    There’s a press conference right now. They’ve confirmed several fatalities as well as others injured who’ve been taken to local hospitals. A suspect is in custody and being interrogated right now.

  196. says

    John Harwood: “my high school classmate Pat Furgurson is a Capital Gazette reporter. He told his wife Becky (also a classmate) that he’s safe, charging his phone, trying to find colleagues and ‘putting out a paper, goddamn it’.”

  197. says

    Rep. Pramila Jayapal:

    I was just arrested with 500+ women and @WomensMarch to say @RealDonaldTrump’s cruel zero-tolerance policy will not continue. Not in our country. Not in our name. June 30 we’re putting ourselves in the street again.

    Join us. http://Familiesbelongtogether.org

    She was at the hearing with Rosenstein and Wray earlier today and used the opportunity to grill Rosenstein about the family separation policy.

  198. says

    “Eight newsrooms, 4 countries, thousands of kids: ProPublica launches a project to find immigrant children”:

    When the government has thousands of noncitizen children somewhere in its custody, how do you find them? You report on it — together.

    Eight news organizations are working together across four countries, trying to determine where these children have been taken and, exactly, how many there are. “Help us make sure that every single child is accounted for,” The Intercept’s explanation of the project to readers says.

    ProPublica, BuzzFeed News, Univision News, The Intercept, Frontline, Animal Político (in Mexico), El Faro (in El Salvador), and Plaza Pública (in Guatemala) are involved in the major initiative. They’re seeking information from their readers on the facilities where these children are housed — with check boxes for “I was held there,” “I worked or currently work here,” and more — and who the children are — “What is the child or children’s name (s)? What age(s)?” — in forms available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese….

  199. says

    Andrea Bernstein:

    Newly-released court papers in the Manafort case show that he got a $10 million loan from Russian oligarch Deripaska to one of his shell companies: “John Hannah LLC” That company is the shell company through which he bought his Trump Tower apartment, #43-G for all cash

    Understanding that name “John Hannah,” and the way it linked Manafort and Davis, who the AP had just reported, had a contract with Deripaska, was a major clue that Manafort’s New York real estate deals were worth looking into.

  200. says

    From a few days ago, but this is such a good piece by Michelle Goldberg – “We Have a Crisis of Democracy, Not Manners”:

    …Whether or not you think public shaming should be happening, it’s important to understand why it’s happening. It’s less a result of a breakdown in civility than a breakdown of democracy. Though it’s tiresome to repeat it, Donald Trump eked out his minority victory with help from a hostile foreign power. He has ruled exclusively for his vengeful supporters, who love the way he terrifies, outrages and humiliates their fellow citizens. Trump installed the right-wing Neil Gorsuch in the Supreme Court seat that Republicans stole from Barack Obama. Gorsuch, in turn, has been the fifth vote in decisions on voter roll purges and, on Monday, racial gerrymandering that will further entrench minority rule.

    All over the country, Republican members of Congress have consistently refused to so much as meet with many of the scared, furious citizens they ostensibly represent. A great many of these citizens are working tirelessly to take at least one house of Congress in the midterms — which will require substantially more than 50 percent of total votes, given structural Republican advantages — so that the country’s anti-Trump majority will have some voice in the federal government.

    But unless and until that happens, millions and millions of Americans watch helplessly as the president cages children, dehumanizes immigrants, spurns other democracies, guts health care protections, uses his office to enrich himself and turns public life into a deranged phantasmagoria with his incontinent flood of lies. The civility police might point out that many conservatives hated Obama just as much, but that only demonstrates the limits of content-neutral analysis. The right’s revulsion against a black president targeted by birther conspiracy theories is not the same as the left’s revulsion against a racist president who spread birther conspiracy theories.

    Faced with the unceasing cruelty and degradation of the Trump presidency, liberals have not taken to marching around in public with assault weapons and threatening civil war. I know of no left-wing publication that has followed the example of the right-wing Federalist and run quasi-pornographic fantasies about murdering political enemies. (“Close your eyes and imagine holding someone’s scalp in your hands,” began a recent Federalist article.) Unlike Trump, no Democratic politician I’m aware of has urged his or her followers to beat up opposing demonstrators.

    Sometimes, their strategies may be poorly conceived. But there’s an abusive sort of victim-blaming in demanding that progressives single-handedly uphold civility, lest the right become even more uncivil in response. As long as our rulers wage war on cosmopolitan culture, they shouldn’t feel entitled to its fruits. If they don’t want to hear from the angry citizens they’re supposed to serve, let them eat at Trump Grill.

  201. Hj Hornbeck says

    SC @ 315 & 321:

    That makes sense, but given some other aspects it’s still suspect.

    I’ll say. Thanks for the link, too!

  202. Pierce R. Butler says

    SC’s (article excerpt) @ # 278: Trump’s son was involved — along with his son-in-law Jared Kushner and former campaign chairman Steve Bannon — in a meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian operative …

    Pls be careful with further quotations from shareblue.com – anyone who can’t tell the difference between Paul Manafort and Steve Bannon really needs to step back from the keyboard.

  203. militantagnostic says

    SC @ 324

    “Trump said on Saturday that the remains of 200 service members who died in the Korean War had been returned.

    I am sure the parents of the dead service members will be appreciative.

  204. says

    Pls be careful with further quotations from shareblue.com – anyone who can’t tell the difference between Paul Manafort and Steve Bannon really needs to step back from the keyboard.

    Jesus fuck, or maybe it was a simple error, since Bannon was involved in other sketchy meetings? But thanks for the unsolicited advice – ever so helpful.

  205. says

    Mike Pence: “Discussed specific new steps that Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador can take. And told the leaders of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras: just as we respect your borders & your sovereignty, we insist that you respect ours.”

    The United States has NEVER respected the sovereignty of any of these countries, which would be infinitely better places if it had. The US promoted a military coup against a democratically elected president in Honduras in 2009 and continues today to prop up an illegitimate, corrupt, violently repressive regime there which people are fleeing for their lives and their children’s lives.

  206. says

    I am sure the parents of the dead service members will be appreciative.

    Yes, it’s been the hope of receiving these remains that’s miraculously kept thousands of them alive well into their 100s. Now they can die in peace.

  207. says

    “‘Say Hello to Your Boy. A Special Guy’.”:

    The Times has a fascinating article tonight on the Trump White House’s courtship of Justice Anthony Kennedy, building a relationship and rapport to make Kennedy comfortable retiring on Trump’s watch and ahead of the 2018 midterm election. One particular detail grabbed my attention: Justice Kennedy’s son Justin was the global head of real estate capital markets at Deutsche Bank and a key lifeline of capital to President Donald Trump.

    As many of you will remember, Deutsche Bank isn’t just any bank. As I noted in the first post I wrote about Trump’s ties to Russia and Vladimir Putin back on July 23rd, 2016, by the mid-90s, every major US bank had blackballed Donald Trump. as the Times put it in 2016, “Several bankers on Wall Street say they are simply not willing to take on what they almost uniformly referred to as ‘Donald risk.’” None would do business with him. With one big exception: Deutsche Bank.

    Deutsche also had its own problems with money laundering, particularly money laundering tied to Russia….

    When I first read the Times story I wasn’t sure whether the younger Kennedy, whose title was Managing Director and Global Head of Real Estate Capital Markets, would have been someone to actually make loans to someone like Trump as opposed to overseeing more complex or synthetic efforts like mortgage backed securities and such. But it turns out he definitely was. The FT says Kennedy was “one of Mr Trump’s most trusted associates over a 12-year spell at Deutsche.” A review of Kennedy’s bio suggests those twelve years were 1997 through 2009 – key years for Trump.

    Kennedy was one of the few bankers to accurately predict the 2007/08 mortgage backed securities meltdown and made an astonishing amount of money for Deutsche Bank by shorting mortgages starting in 2006….

  208. says

    Today’s The Capital.

    “Suspect in Maryland mass shooting had long-standing grievance with the newspaper that was attacked”:

    The suspected shooter in an attack that left five people dead at a newspaper’s office in Annapolis, Md., on Thursday has been identified as a man who had obsessively harassed and threatened the publication’s journalists for years.

    Court records and social media posts revealed that [Jarrod] Ramos launched a lengthy and disturbing vendetta against the company after its daily newspaper, the Capital, ran a 2011 column describing how he was convicted of criminally harassing a woman who had turned down his advances.

    The story, about the woman’s plight, described “months of emails in which Ramos alternately asked for help, called her vulgar names and told her to kill herself. He emailed her company and tried to get her fired.”

    “She stopped writing back and told him to stop, but he continued,” the columnist, Eric Hartley, wrote. “When she blocked him from seeing her Facebook page, he found things she wrote on other people’s pages and taunted her with it, attaching screenshots of the postings to some of his emails. She called police, and for months he stopped. But then he started again, nastier than ever.”

    Ramos accused the Capital of defamation and sued, representing himself in court, unsuccessfully. In a hearing, a judge explained to Ramos how journalism works.

    Ramos’ lawsuit was worthless, but he apparently could not let the matter go. A Twitter account launched under his name, but with Hartley’s face on it, showed hundreds of posts related to the case and its various appeals.

    The account also included a post alluding to shootings of journalists, including the 2015 attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris and two Virginia television journalists who were killed on live television later that year.

    “He waged a one-person attack on anything he could muster in court against the Capital,” Tom Marquardt, the newspaper’s editor and publisher until 2012, told the Los Angeles Times in a phone interview.

    “I said during that time, ‘This guy is crazy enough to come in and blow us all away,’” Marquardt said, adding that he and other newspaper officials had fretted over how to stop Ramos’ harassment. He even kept a file on Ramos for years after leaving the paper….

  209. says

    Reality Winner has pleaded guilty:

    Reality Winner, the former NSA contractor accused of leaking classified documents to a news site last summer, has accepted a bargain with prosecutors and pleaded guilty in federal court.

    Winner, 26, was charged with violating the Espionage Act. She was accused of leaking documents that described Russian efforts to penetrate American election systems.

    Her plea bargain calls for her to serve 5 years and 3 months in prison, with 3 years’ supervised release, Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Stephen Fowler reports. The deal still needs to be approved by a judge….

    “Benghazi attack: Libyan militant jailed for 22 years in US”:

    A US court has jailed a Libyan militant who was involved in the 2012 attack on an American compound in the city of Benghazi for 22 years.

    Prosecutors had said Ahmed Abu Khattala was the ringleader of the attack, which killed the ambassador and three others.

    But he was found guilty of lesser charges….

    “Man Charged With Killing Heather Heyer In Charlottesville Faces 30 New Counts”:

    James Alex Fields Jr., the suspect accused in the killing of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer, has been indicted on 30 counts, including hate crimes resulting in death and bodily injury.

    On Wednesday, a federal grand jury returned the indictment against Fields, who was charged with murdering 32-year-old Heyer by intentionally hitting her with his car at the white supremacist-organized “Unite The Right” march. Heyer had been crossing the street. Prosecutors say Fields also injured many others….

  210. says

    NBC News:

    “Can you please talk to us about the dead reporters in Annapolis?”

    “Do you have any words of condolence for the families, Mr. President?”

    “Why are you walking away?”

    Pres. Trump does not comment when asked about the deadly Maryland newsroom shooting.

    Video at the link.

  211. says

    “Trump told Macron France should consider leaving the EU: Reports”:

    President Donald Trump appears to be trying to break up the European Union, as reports emerge that he told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron his country should leave the bloc.

    According to a column published in the Washington Post, Trump said the U.S. would offer France a bilateral trade deal if Macron was to lead one of the European Union’s founding members out of the organization.

    When Macron was visiting the White House in April, Trump asked him, “Why don’t you leave the E.U.?” according to Post columnist Josh Rogin, who is also an analyst for CNN. Rogin quoted two unnamed European officials as his sources for the report.

    Trump then offered Macron a bilateral trade deal that would be better than that in place between the U.S. and the European Union, Rogin said. The White House refused to comment on the reports, but did not dispute the account, the Post reported….

  212. says

    Jill Filipovic:

    Really feeling like women are the canaries in the coal mines for violent, abusive men. And note that many men are abusive to women online – threatening us, stalking us, harassing us. We’re told that “it’s just the internet” and to “ignore the trolls.”

    Here’s a fun fact: One troll of a great many who I ignored turned out to be a person who was easily able to track me down in my real life, and indeed showed up and confronted me in person. Later, he was arrested & convicted for making death threats (to a man).

    Writers – and feminist writers in particular – have been sounding the alarm on this for a long time: on “incels,” men’s rights activists, men who behave in fundamentally aggressive and anti-social ways to women. We’ve been saying: This is a problem. Please see it.

    But when it’s “just” harassment of women, or violence against women, it’s kinda-sorta expected and so not such a big deal, or it’s “private” and so not such a big deal (just ask Jeff Sessions why domestic violence victims don’t qualify for asylum – private violence, he said).

    And so I am glad that we are finally talking about how every dude who shot up a school / street / club / newspaper had violence against women in his past. That’s so important. But also, I wish violence against women was enough for outrage and action in and of itself.

    I wish that when women talked about online harassment / street harassment / all the indignities that quickly segue to real threats that come with simply being a woman in public (and virtual) space, we weren’t laughed off or met with a serious nod then gently pushed to the side.

  213. says

    “Scoop: Trump’s private threat to upend global trade”:

    President Trump has repeatedly told top White House officials he wants to withdraw the United States from the World Trade Organization, a move that would throw global trade into wild disarray, people involved in the talks tell Axios.

    What we’re hearing: “He’s [threatened to withdraw] 100 times. It would totally [screw] us as a country,” said a source who’s discussed the subject with Trump. The source added that Trump has frequently told advisers, “We always get fucked by them [the WTO]. I don’t know why we’re in it. The WTO is designed by the rest of the world to screw the United States.”

    The safety valve: Should Trump defy his advisers and announce a withdrawal at some point in the future, he would run into significant legal hurdles.

    – As head of state, Trump under international law could make the notification at the WTO. But the U.S. law implementing the WTO agreements states quite plainly that withdrawal from the WTO requires an act of Congress….

  214. says

    “Revealed: How Trump confidant was ready to share inside information with UAE”:

    Donald Trump’s closest confidants were willing to exchange inside information about US government appointments with Yousef al-Otaiba, the Emirati ambassador to Washington, a new set of leaked emails has revealed.

    The president-elect’s advisers also pledged to Otaiba that they would keep his government’s interests at the heart of the new administration’s Middle East policy. The emails reveal that the relationship between the Emiratis and the president’s inner circle was cemented earlier than previously thought.

    The correspondence is between Otaiba and Tom Barrack, a longstanding friend of Trump and billionaire fundraiser. It reveals how Barrack offered to bring Trump, then a candidate, to meet the Emirati ambassador for coffee in April 2016; how the Republican platform for 2016 was altered to remove a call for the publication of 28 pages of allegedly incriminating documents from the 9/11 inquiry; and how Otaiba sought information about top appointments from Barrack while Trump was president-elect.

    The key emails were written when Trump was still a presidential candidate and at least six months before the key meeting at Trump Tower in December 2016 between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MbZ) and Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser, Jared Kushner, his Middle East adviser, and Steve Bannon, his chief strategist, which was reported by the Washington Post.

    At the time, Barack Obama, the outgoing president, was vexed by MbZ’s previously unannounced arrival in New York that the names of the people who attended the meeting were released.

    The emails will be of interest to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has widened the scope of his inquiry into potential Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election to include whether the Emiratis and Saudis funnelled payments to Trump’s election campaign. Barrack was questioned by Mueller’s team last December: he himself is understood to not be a target of the investigation.

    The close working relationship that developed between the Emirates and Trump’s inner circle when he was still a candidate is coming under increasing scrutiny….

    Much more at the link.

    (By the way, I find news publications’ use of “Democrat” when “Democratic” is called for infuriating. Stop doing that.)

  215. says

    BREAKING: @SenatorCollins says she will not factor in Roe v. Wade: ‘she won’t factor a nominee’s support for the landmark abortion-rights ruling of Roe v. Wade into her confirmation decision’. This is unconscionable. Set her straight.”

  216. says

    NEW: Canada strikes back at US w/ $16.6 B of tariffs on US steel, aluminum, + other products, effective 7/1. @cafreeland calls US tariffs ‘protectionist and illegal’, but says they ‘leave Canada no choice but to defend our industries, our workers, + our communities’.”

    Official statement at the link.

  217. says

    I ask again – where are they going with this story?

    “Donald Trump Met The Miami Pool Attendant Whom Jerry Falwell Jr. Backed In A Business Venture”:

    Six months after evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife befriended a Miami hotel pool attendant in 2012, the young man was introduced to Donald Trump during a visit to the large religious school Falwell runs, Liberty University, according to a photograph sent to BuzzFeed News.

    As BuzzFeed News reported in May, a civil lawsuit in Miami alleges that Falwell and his wife met the young man, Giancarlo Granda, at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel, where Granda worked as a pool attendant. They became close, and the Falwells flew Granda in a private plane and later set him up as part owner of a $4.65 million business venture in Miami Beach, according to the suit, sources, and state and local business and property records.

    Falwell and his attorney did not respond to questions about why Granda was visiting the university while Trump was there, and why he was introduced to Trump, who was then a reality show host and real estate magnate….

    Trump visited Liberty University Sept. 24, 2012, to give the convocation address. Accompanying him, according to a video posted on the school’s website, was his fixer Michael Cohen.

    Cohen was an acquaintance of Falwell’s and helped arrange Falwell’s milestone endorsement of Trump during the 2016 election campaign, BuzzFeed News reported, citing a high-ranking official at Liberty University.

    That endorsement paved the way for the widespread evangelical embrace of Trump in spite of the former casino mogul’s three marriages and crass talk about women and sex.

    Even before his endorsement, Falwell passionately supported Trump and said the magnate “lives a life of loving and helping others, as Jesus taught in the Great Commandment.”

    The evangelical has defended Trump through repeated scandals, including Cohen’s payment to the porn star. Most recently, Falwell was one of the few religious leaders to offer strong support for the administration’s policy of forcibly taking children from parents accused of illegally crossing the border. “I’ve got no patience for all this outcry about how inhumane it is,” he said….

  218. Hj Hornbeck says

    The first hearing for NY vs. Trump et. al has happened, and it’s not looking good for Trump.

    Although @realDonaldTrump says he’ll never settle this case, the judge is hinting strongly that he ought to, given the evidence against him.

    Judge here seems to believe there’s little way that Ivanka, Don jr, Eric could avoid punishment, asks them to just submit & save legal fees.

    Judge seems to hint that @realDonaldTrump could be called to testify. Key Q: did he violate charity law *knowingly* or act out of ignorance?

    That’s a question about @realdonaldtrump’s knowledge and state of mind. Judge says it could be hard to rule on that from paper briefs alone.

    But the judge did hand him an olive branch.

    Trump lawyer says: well, if we have a hearing, can we do it after the midterm elections?

    Judge says: sure. “People are busy.” But seriously, try to settle most of this out of court before the fall.

  219. microraptor says

    Have any journalists commented on the rank hypocrisy of Trump’s statement about the shooting and the newspaper?

  220. Hj Hornbeck says

    Not over here, but to be fair there’s so much hypocrisy to go around.

    Meanwhile, Trump’s brilliant diplomatic plan of conceding a lot to North Korea in the hope that it turns into a firm commitment is going well.

    In recent months, even as the two sides engaged in diplomacy, North Korea was stepping up its production of enriched uranium for nuclear weapons, five U.S. officials say, citing the latest intelligence assessment. North Korea and the U.S. agreed at the summit to “work toward” denuclearization, but there is no specific deal. On Trump’s order, the U.S. military canceled training exercises on the Korean peninsula, a major concession to Kim.

    While the North Koreans have stopped missile and nuclear tests, “there’s no evidence that they are decreasing stockpiles, or that they have stopped their production,” said one U.S. official briefed on the latest intelligence. “There is absolutely unequivocal evidence that they are trying to deceive the U.S.”

  221. Hj Hornbeck says

    If, like me, you were wondering where ICE came from, this is the Twitter thread for you.

    So I have missed a lot here, but i think national security experts miss the point that the progressive call to #abolishICE is not just a knee-jerk anger at cops. It is also a recognition that they aren’t doing what we built them to do. 17/

    Instead, they are using a legislative authority to accomplish a political goal, not tied in any empirical way to making the country safer. Moreover, as law enforcement, they have lost the trust of the public. That is an even [greater] threat to our system. 18/

    We took government apart and put it back together before, and it was an effort strongly supported by Rs and Ds (certainly with a fog of terrorism thrown in). Point being, we can do it again. 19/

  222. Hj Hornbeck says

    Meanwhile, the lobbying effort for Kennedy’s replacement is gearing up.

    Americans for Prosperity, a group backed by billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, […] has already publicly committed to spending up to seven figures in support of a Supreme Court nominee, provided the choice is of the same mold as Justice Neil Gorsuch. However, the coalition expects to receive regular briefings and updates by Trump’s administration as officials go through the nomination process, those same people say.

    It’s unclear which other groups have been called upon to work with Trump’s team, but those that supported Gorsuch’s nomination in 2017 include The Judicial Crisis Network and the Federalist Society. The JCN already has initiated a seven-figure ad campaign on cable TV and digital platforms calling those Trump is considering to replace Kennedy “the best of the best.”

    It reminds me of this study from 2014: the US is no longer of the people and by the people, its legislative policy is driven by the desires of oligarchs.

  223. blf says

    Only very loosely political — really only because this is the Palace of Westminster in London (that is, the Parliament building) — but restaurant critic Jay Rayner has an amusing à point review† of one of the restaurants there, House of Commons, London: ‘A nasty taste in my mouth’:

    Many wretched schemes have been devised within the Houses of Parliament to separate the British from their money, in return for scant reward. There’s the poll tax, which was a charge on breathing. There are VAT increases, instituted to sort out a financial mess you didn’t make. To these should be added one more: the shameful price they are charging to serve mediocre cooking to hapless members of the public.

    The idea is delightful. The Houses of Parliament belong to us all. Security allowing, we should be allowed in. So why not open up the dining rooms to those eager to dine literally like a lord, or even just like Michael Gove[]? Periodically they open bookings for tables in the Members’ or the Strangers’ Dining Room. The dinner service in the Strangers’ Dining Room continues […] until mid-July. Further dates will soon be announced, which is unfortunate.

    There is a complex online booking process. You need to fill in a form, give a credit card number and promise to bring ID. But they do big the whole thing up. There is talk of “award-winning chefs” without saying which awards they’ve won. They mention “top-end British cuisine” and that “classic styling comes in the form of white tablecloths”. Be still my beating heart.

    So you turn up and they x-ray your bag and search you (though, interestingly, never ask to see that ID). […]


    [The] £65 three-course menu offers four choices per course plus petit fours, coffee and a side order of profound regret. It’s an overwritten document name-checking lots of flavours that go missing in action. Likewise, the food it describes represents a kitchen straining at a modernity it might have read about once in a magazine. […]

    Both mains are roast dinners that have been at Mum’s dressing-up box. They look like grown-up plates of cooking but the more you dig in the less you get. There are over-reduced Marmitey sauces, and vegetables that have been less trimmed than given the full Brazilian. What the hell happened to the rest of them? My lamb dish looks like Mr McGregor’s garden. They’ve sliced all the baby carrots off at the knees so they stand vertical. There are two small pieces of lamb and “almond croquettes”, which taste not of almond. The potatoes on a chicken dish are so small and turned they look like those grooved dowling rods Ikea gives you to assemble a set of bookshelves […].

    […] The kitchen probably thinks this mediocrity is cutting-edge stuff. It’s not. It’s banqueting food at a ring-road hotel. It’s cutting edge as cooked by people who haven’t eaten out enough. And yes, I know the building needs renovating but that’s what I pay my taxes for. I’m not subsidising the works by overpaying for sliced bloody carrots. [… A]s well as a nasty taste in my mouth, it left me thinking that the problem with parliament really isn’t just the politicians.

    Mr Rayner is a highly-respected restaurant critic. I doubt he was exaggerating, he can be quite eviscerating, as in his very famous review of Le Cinq in Paris (‘If you’re going to kill a holy cow, use a bazooka’).

      † I couldn’t decide whether to call this a bleu or à point review: Bleu is barely-cooked (seared on the outside, almost raw on the inside), but the review is more done than that; and À Point is frequently mistranslated / understood as “medium(-rare)” but is closer-in-meaning to “cooked to perfection”.

      ‡ Micheal Grove is perhaps the most incompetent of the current UK ministers, which considering that lot includes FM Borris Johnson and brexit gumby “My brain hurts!” David Davis, not to mention PM Theresa May, is such an astonishingly low bar you need to tunnel through the earth to find it. And then he’ll fail to fall down the hole.

  224. KG says

    Andrés Manuel Andrés Manuel López Obrador has won a huge victory in the Mexican Presidential election, with an absolute majority of the vote. The alliance supporting him looks like having a majority in the Assembly, and possibly in the Senate. López Obrador is said to be a left-winger, but since he has said there will be no nationalisation and taxes won’t rise, I’m inclined to be somewhat sceptical. However, it does look like an end to a series of victories for the right in the larger Latin American countries (Brazil – essentially a coup – and the elections in Argentina and Colombia). SC, what’s your take on this?

    Trump, BTW, has sent congratulations, and Obrador, after criticising Trump fairly strongly during the camapign, has said he will seek good relations with the USA. But it’s hard to see the two not falling out pretty quickly.

  225. blf says

    it’s hard to see the two [AMLO & hair furor] not falling out pretty quickly

    France24 had a pre-election interview with Isabelle Vagnoux, “professor at Aix-Marseille University and author of several books on the region”, on this & related subjects, Will the next Mexican leader be a good ‘hombre’ for Trump?:

    If the blunt-speaking Obrador — popularly known as “AMLO” — wins Sunday’s vote, the prospect of a showdown on the border wall and NAFTA between the headstrong presidents of Mexico and the USA has worried many analysts. […]


    F24: What is Obrador’s position […]?

    IV: In recent years, a feeling of repulsion towards the USA has begun to emerge. Mexicans are less sold on the American dream. The number of Mexicans emigrating to the US is falling. AMLO exploits the beginnings of this repulsion. He offers to refocus on Mexico. […]

    What is interesting is that in the end, AMLO is a bit like Donald Trump, especially in economic terms. The two could get along… or not.

    F24: Will reviving NAFTA be a priority for the next Mexican president?

    IV: Everything will depend on who is elected. If it’s AMLO, we don’t know what to expect, as the former US ambassador to Mexico, Roberta Jacobson, recently said.[] He could renegotiate or he could take an extremely tough position. AMLO has always said that he’s not afraid of withdrawing from NAFTA. We don’t know if he’ll go that far.

    […] The popular opinion in Mexico is that we have lost more than gained because of NAFTA. That’s the view of AMLO’s supporters.


      † France24 notes Ambassador Jacobson admitted “she was unable to forecast the likely direction of bilateral relations if the forerunner in the Mexican presidential race, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, wins.”

  226. blf says

    I’ve long suggested a model of hair furor’s dalekocratic kleptomaniacal thuggery is the current Poland, who are now in the process of dismantling their own supreme court, ‘We are at verge of autocracy’: Poles protest Supreme Court law (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    When Poles across the country take to the streets on Monday against a new law they see as threatening judicial independence, they will be taking a stand against the government in one of the few ways they still can.

    [… S]ince taking power in 2015, the Law and Justice party (PiS), led by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and party chairman Jarosław Kaczyński, has chipped away at citizens’ fundamental rights to consolidate its power — tearing down democratic institutions that have been in place since the collapse of communism in 1989.

    Rights groups claim PiS has moved to silence the media, employed xenophobic rhetoric to isolate political opponents, fast-tracked appointments of party-affiliated judges and dismantled the Constitutional Tribunal.

    Now, a new law that will come into effect on Tuesday is targeting the country’s highest court — the Supreme Court — by forcing 40 percent of its judges into early retirement.


    From the outset of its rule, the right-wing PiS party sought to reform Poland’s state media.

    In January 2016, President Andrzej Duda signed a law enabling the government to appoint the heads of public media and civil service institutions, drawing sharp criticism from European media watchdogs and the EU Commission.

    Independent media outlets, meanwhile, have been subject to hefty fines for their reporting and journalists have been threatened with imprisonment.

    As a result, Poland’s ranking on Reporters Without Borders’ annual Press Freedom Index has plummeted from 18th in 2015 to 54th out of 180 countries this year.


    In 2016, Beata Szydlo, then prime minister, dissolved Poland’s anti-discrimination council that was tasked with preventing xenophobia and intolerance and the interior ministry’s human rights protection team.


    More recently, parliament considered an education reform bill that would establish university councils that some worry would politicise the curriculum.


    Crowds of up to hundreds of thousands turn up to protest against growing nationalism and restrictions to human rights.

    But according to a report by Amnesty International last week, protests are under increased police surveillance and participants now also face the threat of violence.

    “{Protesting} requires not only determination and time, but also the phone number of a lawyer and the willingness to face the consequences, which range from harassment, verbal and physical assault, and police custody to the laying of fines or the application of criminal charges,” the report said. “Those who participate in protests in Poland are frequently threatened with detention and prosecution, if not outright violence at the hands of police or security officers.”


    [Judge Dariusz] Mazur told Al Jazeera that Polish judges have continually warned of the PiS politicising the judiciary after a state-led fair courts drive, which began last year.

    Featuring billboard adverts across the country targeting local judges, the campaign draws claims of state-sponsored harassment and intimidation.

    In addition to giving President Duda the power to fill the soon-to-be vacant chairs in the Supreme Court, the forthcoming law would create an extraordinary appeal chamber within the court that could reopen cases dating back 20 years at the request of a government-appointed prosecutor-general who doubles over as the justice minister.


    Tinker somewhat with the details, add in a big red button for blowing up the planet plus a large dose of incomptence, and most of the above reads like a guidebook for hair furor, teh thugs & teh dalekocracy. (There are far more parallels than those excerpted — dislike of the EU, hatred of immigrants and women, actively destroying the environment for profit and as a distraction, and so on…)

    (Al Jazeera seems to acquiring both France24’s habit of dropping diacritical marks / accents, and the Grauniad’s reputation for typos. I have corrected, all unmarked, some of both in the above excerpt.)

  227. says

    Update to #295 above – “Top GOP Fundraiser to Stop Hush Payments Over Affair”:

    A top Republican fundraiser will stop making payments to a former mistress who signed a hush-money agreement that was negotiated last year by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer.

    Elliott Broidy, a Los Angeles venture capitalist and former Republican National Committee official, agreed to pay former Playboy centerfold Shera Bechard $1.6 million—in eight installments, beginning late last year—to keep quiet about her affair with the married donor, The Wall Street Journal reported in April.

    Now Mr. Broidy, who worked on the RNC with Mr. Cohen, will withhold the third installment of $200,000 that was due Sunday, in response to an alleged breach of the nondisclosure agreement, according to Chris Clark, a lawyer for Mr. Broidy.

    Mr. Clark said Ms. Bechard’s lawyer at the time of the agreement, Keith Davidson, improperly discussed the hush-money agreement with another lawyer, Michael Avenatti, who has replaced Mr. Davidson in representing Stephanie Clifford, a former adult-film star….

    “Elliott specifically was paying for confidentiality that would shield his family from the embarrassing mistake he made,” Mr. Clark said. “We can prove there was an intentional breach that renders the contract null and void.”

    Mr. Avenatti said: “I’m neither going to confirm nor deny what information I have about this, whether it’s all been disclosed yet, or where I learned it. But I would encourage Ms. Bechard to disclose everything she knows about this situation to the public.”…

  228. says

    “EXCLUSIVE: Michael Cohen says family and country, not President Trump, is his ‘first loyalty'”:

    Michael Cohen — President Donald Trump’s longtime personal attorney and a former executive vice president at the Trump Organization — has always insisted he would remain loyal to the president.

    He was the fix-it guy, the pit bull so fiercely protective of his boss that he’d once described himself as “the guy who would take a bullet” for the president.

    But in his first in-depth interview since the FBI raided his office and homes in April, Cohen strongly signaled his willingness to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller and federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York — even if that puts President Trump in jeopardy.

    “My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will,” Cohen told me. “I put family and country first.”

    Cohen recently retained Petrillo, a highly regarded former federal prosecutor who once led the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan — the very same office currently conducting the criminal investigation of Cohen.

    Petrillo is expected to take over as Cohen’s lead counsel in the coming days. And Cohen makes clear that his decision about whether to cooperate will be based not on any previous loyalty to Trump — but on Petrillo’s legal advice.

    Once Petrillo fully assumes his role, a joint defense agreement Cohen shared with the president, which allowed their lawyers to share information and documents with each other, will come to an end, ABC News has learned.

    At that point, the legal interests of the president of the United States and his longtime personal attorney could quickly become adversarial.

    When I asked Cohen how he might respond if the president or his legal team come after him — to try and discredit him and the work he did for Mr. Trump over the last decade — he sat up straight. His voice gained strength.

    “I will not be a punching bag as part of anyone’s defense strategy,” he said emphatically. “I am not a villain of this story, and I will not allow others to try to depict me that way.”

    After federal agents searched Cohen’s New York properties, Trump described the raid as a break-in, an “attack on our country, in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”

    “I don’t agree with those who demonize or vilify the FBI. I respect the FBI as an institution, as well as their agents,” Cohen told me. “When they searched my hotel room and my home, it was obviously upsetting to me and my family. Nonetheless, the agents were respectful, courteous and professional. I thanked them for their service and as they left, we shook hands.”

    Cohen also refused to criticize the Mueller investigation.

    “I don’t like the term witch hunt,” he said, adding that he condemned Russia for interfering in the 2016 election.

    “As an American, I repudiate Russia’s or any other foreign government’s attempt to interfere or meddle in our democratic process, and I would call on all Americans to do the same,” he said….

  229. says

    “Russians Offered Business Deals to Brexit’s Biggest Backer”:

    …Mr. Banks always laughed off questions about his ties to the Kremlin.

    Now, a leaked record of some of Mr. Banks’s emails suggest that he and his closest adviser had a more engaged relationship with Russian diplomats than he has disclosed.

    While Mr. Banks was spending more than eight million British pounds to promote a break with the European Union — an outcome the Russians eagerly hoped for — his contacts at the Russian Embassy in London were opening the door to at least three potentially lucrative investment opportunities in Russian-owned gold or diamond mines.

    One of Mr. Banks’s business partners, and a fellow backer of Britain’s exit from the European Union, or Brexit, took the Russians up on at least one of the deals.

    The extent of these business discussions, which have not been previously reported, raise new questions about whether the Kremlin sought to reward critical figures in the Brexit campaign. Much as in Washington, where investigations are underway into the possibility that Donald J. Trump’s campaign may have cooperated with the Russians, Britain is now grappling with whether Moscow tried to use its close ties with any British citizens to promote Brexit.

    In August [2016], Mr. Banks had lunch with the Russian ambassador and discussed the Trump campaign. At their lunch after Mr. Trump’s victory in November, the two men discussed what role Jeff Sessions, then a senator, might play in the cabinet, according to people who have reviewed the records of his emails.

    Mr. Banks, though, said he doubted that the Russians had cultivated him for reasons other than routine trade promotion.

    “The idea that things were dangled as some sort of carrots for me to be involved with the Russians is very far-fetched,” he said. “I wonder what the Russians wanted from me?”

    “How the ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’ forged ties with Russia and the Trump campaign — and came under investigators’ scrutiny”:

    …Banks’s journey from a lavish meal with a Russian diplomat in London to the raucous heart of Trump country was part of an unusual intercontinental charm offensive by the wealthy British donor and his associates, a hard-partying lot who dubbed themselves the “Bad Boys of Brexit.” Their efforts to simultaneously cultivate ties to Russian officials and Trump’s campaign have captured the interest of investigators in the United Kingdom and the United States, including special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

    Both inquiries center on questions of Russia’s involvement in seismic political events that have shaken the world order, with the European Union losing a key member and U.S. voters electing a president critical of Washington’s traditional alliances.

    In Britain, recent revelations about Banks’s Russian contacts have triggered scrutiny of whether the Russians sought to bolster the Brexit effort. In the U.S., congressional Democrats who recently obtained a trove of Banks’s communications have begun exploring a different question: Did the Brexit leaders serve as a conduit between the Kremlin and Trump’s operation?

    Throughout the 2016 campaign, the wealthy insurance executive built a first-name rapport with the Russian ambassador as Banks briefed him on the breakaway campaign — exchanging frequent, chummy texts and emails, and meeting with him in person four times in about 12 months, according to Banks. At the same time, he and other Brexit backers also intently pursued entree to Trump’s world, according to interviews and dozens of emails and text messages Banks provided to The Post.

    As both relationships deepened, Banks and his associates discussed Trump’s bid and the U.S. presidential campaign with Yakovenko, the Brexit backers acknowledge. At least two of the meetings between Banks and the ambassador came shortly before or after meetings with Trump.

    Wigmore said he was “not thinking there was anything remotely sinister” in sharing information he had learned at Trump Tower with the Russian diplomat. “Why would I?”

    Much more at both links. This clueless idiot act they’ve got going will not succeed.

  230. says

    Capital Gazette editorial – “Our Say: Thank you. We will not forget.”:

    Thank you.

    Thank you for the outpouring of sympathy for the terrible tragedy that took place Thursday in our Annapolis office.

    We will never forget Rob Hiaasen, Gerald Fischman, Wendi Winters, John McNamara or Rebecca Smith, our five co-workers who were gunned down in a senseless attack.

    The words of appreciation for our work and its importance to Annapolis and Anne Arundel County is a balm to our wounds. More than 800 people subscribed to our digital edition Friday as a show of support after the terror on Thursday afternoon.

    Thank you.

    Here’s what else we won’t forget: Death threats and emails from people we don’t know celebrating our loss, or the people who called for one of our reporters to get fired because she got angry and cursed on national television after witnessing her friends getting shot.

    We won’t forget being called an enemy of the people.

    No, we won’t forget that. Because exposing evil, shining light on wrongs and fighting injustice is what we do.

    Our community has rallied around us to show they understand who we are, and that we are not the enemy of the people. We are your neighbors, your friends. We are you.

    You might not always like what we write, or the photos we shoot or the videos we produce. You may not agree with our definition of what a story is or is not.

    Most days we suspect most of you will.

    But every day, the staff of this news organization will report on the news of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County. We will never be the same as we were, now that Rebecca, Wendi, John, Gerald and Rob are gone.

    Some day we hope to be as good again. That’s all we can do.

    Until then, keep reading. We’ve only just begun.

  231. says

    NEW: The government received more than 1.3 million of Michael Cohen’s files not designated as privileged, partially privileged or highly personal today.

    The Trump Organization is reviewing the 22,633 remaining files, with a deadline of Thursday.”

  232. says

    “Russia investigators likely got access to NRA’s tax filings, secret donors”:

    For months, the National Rifle Association has had a stock answer to queries about an investigation into whether Russian money was funneled to the gun rights group to aid Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

    The NRA, which spent $30 million-plus backing Trump’s bid, has heard nothing from the FBI or any other law enforcement agency, spokesman Andrew Arulanandam reiterated in an email the other day.

    Legal experts, though, say there’s an easy explanation for that. They say it would be routine for Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators, who are looking at the NRA’s funding as part of a broader inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections, to secretly gain access to the NRA’s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service.

    On the returns, the group was required to identify its so-called “dark money” donors — companies and wealthy individuals who financed $21 million of the group’s publicly disclosed pro-Trump spending, as well as its multimillion-dollar efforts to heighten voter turnout. The NRA’s nonprofit status allows it to shield those donors’ names from the public, but not the IRS.

    A central question for Mueller’s office is whether any of the confidential donors’ names hold clues that could enable investigators to trace a donation camouflaged to hide its Russian origins – such as a shell company that might be the end point in a chain of offshore transactions….

  233. blf says

    Also in LaLaLand, the MoD (Ministry of Defence) has apparently been watching too much Doctor Who and craves having its own Black Archive. The Grauniad’s SARDIS (SnARking Da Incredibly Silly) lands, The UK has been looking for alien weapons — but there’s far cooler stuff out there:

    For 50 years the Ministry of Defence had a desk dedicated to stealing and weaponising alien tech. But what about cryosleep, or intergalactic wifi?

    The universe is vast and unexplored. For as long as humanity has existed we have gazed out awestruck into the stars, hoping against hope that we are not alone in the void.

    Might there be other life forms out there? Might we simply be an undiscovered tendril of an intergalactic community that stretches out towards infinity? And, were we ever to chance upon the miracle of an alien species, what’s the best way that we could catch them, kill them and harness their technology in order to destroy our enemies in a mist-cloud of laserbeams and blood?

    Or simply hijacking the alien (The Beast Below).

    Of course you’ve thought about this. We all have. What’s the point of aliens if we can’t hijack all their cool stuff and blow up Russia with it? The Ministry of Defence definitely thought this: a declassified dossier has just revealed that for 50 years, it reserved a desk devoted to stealing and weaponising alien technology, based on a fear that China or the USSR would beat them to it by capturing a UFO and mining its tech to build ultra-fast warplanes.

    It’s always superweapons, isn’t it? As soon as anyone brings up the notion of alien life forms, we all collectively turn into an eight-year-old boy on Christmas Eve, hopping from foot to foot because it might mean getting our hands on a cool new toy that can explode heads or boil the ocean. [… L]et me attempt to move the narrative along a little. Humanity can aim higher. Here are all the things that we could really use alien technology for.


    ● Intergalactic wifi: Arguably the worst thing about life on Earth in 2018 is that train wifi doesn’t work quite as well as advertised. Imagine if the aliens had a way of fixing it. We’d be able to tweet in tunnels and everything. Oh man, it’d be so excellent.

    The mildly deranged penguin has a Space-Time Telegraph, although I admit being able to jiggly-pokery a mobile phone like the later Doctor would be really neat…

    ● Hot Earl Grey: Remember in Star Trek when Jean-Luc Picard used to get hot Earl Grey tea out of a computer just by asking for it? Meanwhile we’re stuck over here in the dark ages with bags and kettles. Honestly, we’re no better than monkeys.

    The mildly deranged penguin wants a device which emits an endless collection of fine cheeses, superb wines, the best beers for every occasion, MUSHROOMS!, Margaritas and other drinks, and so on, but no peas. Preferably something small and lightweight she can plug into the USB port. I myself rather like the looks, at least, of the Food Replicator.

    The MoD is clearly Doctor-mad… Welcome to LaLaLand !

    (Amusingly, I once, here in France, referred to a mysterious series of crashes of the secure microprocessor I was working on as “…and then it goes into La-La Land.” This completely baffled my French colleagues.)

  234. says

    “News media paid Melania Trump thousands for use of photos in ‘positive stories only'”:

    Since her husband took office Melania Trump has earned six figures from an unusual deal with a photo agency in which major media organizations have indirectly paid the Trump family despite a requirement that the photos be used only in positive coverage.

    President Donald Trump’s most recent financial disclosure reveals that in 2017 the first lady earned at least $100,000 from Getty Images for the use of any of a series of 187 photos of the first family shot between 2010 and 2016 by Belgian photographer Regine Mahaux.

    It’s not unheard of for celebrities to earn royalties from photos of themselves, but it’s very unusual for the wife of a currently serving elected official. More problematic for the many news organizations that have published or broadcast the images, however, is that Getty’s licensing agreement stipulates the pictures can be used in “positive stories only.”

    …NBC News found at least a dozen organizations that had paid to use Mahaux’s restricted images of the Trumps in 2017, resulting in indirect payment to the first family.

    An NBC News spokesperson said NBC News did not agree or sign a statement that the image would be used for positive coverage, and was never informed that a portion of the royalties would go to the Trump family.

    Several news organizations removed the images from their websites after inquiries by NBC News.

    In a standard photo contract, the photographer gets royalties and the photo agency receives fees for each use of an image. Models are not paid royalties.

    Paying royalties to the Trumps and limiting the use to only positive stories about a prominent politician is unusual, according to Akili Ramsess, executive director of the National Press Photographers Association….

    Getty’s licensing agreement does not offer any hint that money is also paid to the Trumps, and the arrangement did not appear to have become public until the income was listed in the president’s May financial filing.

    Getty Images told NBC News that the details and amounts of payments to the Trumps are covered by confidential agreements. The agency declined to say whether there are separate royalty arrangements with other members of the Trump families, and declined all comment on the deal other than to say that once a photo has been licensed, Getty pays “contracted royalties back to the photographer and/or individual(s) as covered by their confidential agreement.”

    When NBC News reached photographer Regine Mahaux by phone, she said “everything is legal” and then asked that any questions be submitted to her by email. NBC repeatedly emailed her questions but did not get a reply.

    Mahaux has worked closely with the Trumps since 2010. Several albums on the Getty website feature her intimate photoshoots with the family in Trump Tower. “I like working with the family’s image – it speaks to me. It inspires me,” Mahaux told a French news outlet in 2017….

    Most modern first ladies have launched books and other commercial products during their stints in the White House — and then donated the entire proceeds to charity….

    The White House declined to comment on whether the Trumps have steered any of the proceeds from the Getty deal, which was consummated before Melania Trump became first lady, to a charity. Absent a public announcement, their annual tax returns might provide a hint — but unlike all other modern first families, the Trumps have not released them….

  235. says

    They seem nice – “Turkish underworld joins war on journalists”:

    Government pressure on Turkish journalists is nothing new. But now the country’s beleaguered press corps is faced with an altogether new threat: the Turkish mafia. Six journalists and the owner of Karar, a mildly oppositionist newspaper, were placed under police protection after a notorious organized crime boss, Alaattin Cakici, called on his men to “punish them,” which in mafia speak is code for murder.

    Cakici, who is in prison serving a 19-year sentence for ordering the 1995 execution of his ex-wife, made the call on Twitter…. Prosecutors have opened an investigation, but an undeterred Cakici took his campaign to another level today, claiming that “certain” Karar writers were acting in cahoots with the “liberal” and “pro-NATO” Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu.

    Cakici charged that Soylu and Karar were seeking to undermine the Turkish energy minister, Erdogan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak….

    Karar reporters said the mood at the newspaper remained “grim” and “nervous.”… Readers and others continued to flock to the newspaper in a show of solidarity. Soylu is the only government official known to have contacted the newspaper to offer support.

    The government’s limp response has spurred further speculation that Erdogan has fallen hostage to his nationalist base. Others say he may not care that his critics, no matter how mild, are being shown the stick.

    The row between Cakici, 65, and Karar erupted when Erdogan rebuffed demands from his far-right nationalist ally Devlet Bahceli to grant amnesty for a specific category of prisoners that would include Cakici….

    Bacheli, who leads the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), is expected to become vice president in the new cabinet that will likely be unveiled next week. The septuagenarian made waves when he visited Cakici in late May in the hospital where the crime boss continues to be treated for a wide range of ailments. A day after the June 24 elections, he published the names of more than 50 journalists, including two Karar columnists and a top Erdogan protege from the pro-government Sabah, “thanking” them for their “countless calumnies” against his party. The move sparked outrage, with rights groups accusing Bahceli of openly targeting the press.

    …A native of the Black Sea port city of Trabzon, Cakici is revered in ultranationalist MHP and “Gray Wolf” circles as a hero for off-the-books operations against Kurdish and Armenian militants that he allegedly conducted on behalf of the Turkish state….

    …Today Karar’s editor-in-chief, Mustafa Karaalioglu, signalled in an unusually somber column that his team would not bow to threats, writing, “Evil is spread through fear. Evil is amplified by fear. In order for fear to not take hold of our lives, it’s time we faced up to it.”

  236. says

    Update to #379 (that was quick) – “JUST IN: Judge Emmet Sullivan wants to see Michael Flynn in court on Tuesday, July 10. This has to do with the fact that the parties said his case isn’t ready for sentencing, but that they they wanted the presentence investigation report to start being prepared.”

    My personal sense, based on the wording and nature of the two memos, is that the combination delay/advance isn’t due to anything specific to Flynn’s case, but to a larger question of timing of the investigation. They don’t want the sentencing (and resulting public information) to precede some other indictments or other actions that are being planned; they want them to coincide.

  237. says

    “Anthony Kennedy, You Are a Total Disgrace to America”:

    …Anthony Kennedy went out of his way to make sure that a president who was elected with fewer votes than his opponent, and whom time might reveal to have won the White House by cooperating with a foreign adversary, and whose business career was salvaged by none other than Kennedy’s own son, gets to name his replacement—a replacement who is all but certain to undo the only good Kennedy himself ever did.

    What kind of person do you have to be to justify all that to yourself? To abet the dissolution of your own legacy? It’s like a kulak handing a Bolshevik a pistol. Except that the real price here will be paid not by Kennedy, but by the millions of Americans who will lose hard-won rights.

    May the name Anthony Kennedy live forever in infamy.

  238. says

    Great pool report @realDonaldTrump on a potential EU trade deal: ‘If we do work it out, it’ll be positive and if we don’t it’ll be positive also’, Trump said, continuing to speak as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte interjected: ‘No, not positive’.”

  239. says

    NEW A U.S judge blocks the Trump administration’s crackdown on asylum seekers, releasing applicants from five ICE field offices after ICE ignored its own policy to free those who show “credible fear” pending a court hearing.

    Judge James Boasberg: As recent events ‘make clear, the question of how this nation will treat those who come to our shores seeking refuge generates enormous debate’… ‘This Opinion does no more than hold the Government accountable to its own policy’.

    ‘Having extended the safeguards of the Parole Directive to asylum-seekers, ICE must now ensure that such protections are realized’, Boasberg wrote. Case was brought by @ACLU”

  240. says

    “Why are Republicans hiding Peter Strzok’s testimony?”:

    It’s time for the country to hear from FBI agent Peter Strzok.

    The president and his supporters argue that Strzok’s early involvement in the Russia probe taints the entire investigation. On Thursday Trump tweeted that Strzok “was given poor marks on yesterday’s closed-door testimony” and that Strzok’s role in the Russia investigation was further evidence of the “witch hunt” against him. But although the president himself had called for Strzok’s testimony to be public, Congress did not agree.

    Strzok certainly doesn’t act like someone with anything to hide. He offered to testify publicly and without a subpoena. He didn’t take the Fifth or demand immunity. Unlike the president in his dealings with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, Strzok did not haggle for months over the terms or scope of an interview. Nevertheless, Congress first threatened to subpoena him unnecessarily and then chose to keep his testimony under wraps.

    At a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Thursday, Republicans blasted Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, accusing him of withholding information about the Russia probe and supposed bias within the FBI. “We have caught you hiding information from Congress,” accused Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). “This hearing emphasizes the importance of transparency,” stated Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

    These congressmen who claim to be interested in transparency and full disclosure should be eager to make Strzok’s testimony public — particularly since the president claims that testimony will provide evidence of the “witch hunt” against him. So what are these Republicans hiding?

    Strzok’s text messaging habits, however imprudent, have nothing to do with the merits of the Mueller investigation. Keeping his testimony secret leads only to selective leaks, spin and speculation. Let’s hear what he actually had to say.

  241. says

    “‘A way of monetizing poor people’: How private equity firms make money offering loans to cash-strapped Americans”:

    …The market for “consumer installment loans,” which Mariner and its competitors serve, has grown rapidly in recent years, particularly as new federal regulations have curtailed payday lending, according to the Center for Financial Services Innovation, a nonprofit research group. Private equity firms, with billions to invest, have taken significant stakes in the growing field.

    Among its rivals, Mariner stands out for the frequent use of mass-mailed checks, which allows customers to accept a high-interest loan on an impulse — just sign the check. It has become a key marketing method.

    The company’s other tactics include borrowing money for as little as 4 or 5 percent — thanks to the bond market — and lending at rates as high as 36 percent, a rate that some states consider usurious; making millions of dollars by charging borrowers for insurance policies of questionable value; operating an insurance company in the Turks and Caicos, where regulations are notably lax, to profit further from the insurance policies; and aggressive collection practices that include calling delinquent customers once a day and embarrassing them by calling their friends and relatives, customers said.

    Finally, Mariner enforces its collections with a busy legal operation, funded in part by the customers themselves: The fine print in the loan contracts obliges customers to pay as much as an extra 20 percent of the amount owed to cover Mariner’s attorney fees, and this has helped fund legal proceedings that are both voluminous and swift. Last year, in Baltimore alone, Mariner filed nearly 300 lawsuits. In some cases, Mariner has sued customers within five months of the check being cashed.

    The company’s pace of growth is brisk — the number of Mariner branches has risen eightfold since 2013. A financial statement obtained by The Post for a portion of the loan portfolio indicated substantial returns.

    Today, three of the largest companies in consumer installment lending are owned to a significant extent by private equity funds — Mariner is owned by Warburg Pincus; Lendmark Financial Services is held by the Blackstone Group, which is led by billionaire Stephen Schwarzman; and a portion of OneMain Financial is slated to be purchased by Apollo Global, led by billionaire Leon Black, and Varde Partners.

    These lending companies have undergone significant growth in recent years. To raise more money to lend, they have sold bonds on Wall Street.

    “Some of the largest private equity firms today are supercharging the payday and subprime lending industries,” said Jim Baker of the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, a nonprofit organization that has criticized the industry. In some cases, “you’ve got billionaires extracting wealth from working people.”…

    So much of what’s wrong with the US in one story.

  242. KG says


    Of course it’s hard to say what would happen in the event of a new UK general election (so the short answer is “Dunno!”), but I can suggest some of the factors that would detemine it:

    1) Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011, an election can happen outside the normal 5-year cycle only:
    (a) If the House of Commons resolves “That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government”, and does not subsequently resolve “That this House has confidence in Her Majesty’s Government” within fourteen days. This provision recognises that in a hung parliament it might be possible for a new government to be formed, commanding a majority.
    (b) If the House of Commons, with the support of two thirds of its total membership (including vacant seats), resolves “That there shall be an early parliamentary general election”.

    The 2017 election happened under provision (b). Either is a possibility if May falls: (a) if the Tories actually split, or the “Democratic” Unionists switch sides (it’s unlikely but not impossible that if either happened, Corbyn could form a government – either all the opposition parties including the DUP would have to support him, or some Tories would have to abstain at least), and (b) if they elect a new leader, avoid a split, and think they might be able to improve their position.

    2) The election would inevitably be primarily about Brexit. But Labour are as split as the Tories on the issue. Corbyn’s line is for a “softer” Brexit than May proposes (but both want things the EU are not going to concede); the majority of Labour voters probably still oppose the whole thing, but include a significant pro-Brexit minority; most Labour MPs supported Remain, but few dare to go against “The will of the people” by proposing a second referendum on the terms negotiated (the people are not allowed any second thoughts in the light of new information). If I was advising Corbyn, I’d suggest promising either a free vote in the Commons or a new referendum on the terms – but there would still be the awkward question “What if the terms are rejected?”, as it’s not clear if the UK can unilaterally rescind its Article 50 declaration that it’s leaving – my guess is that a way would be found unless the Italian government opposed it). He could also promise to ask for an extension of the 2-year negotiation period, on the grounds that Tory incompetence has made it impossible to reach an agreement within the time limit, but such an extension requires all the other 27 to agree. So most likely he’d just say “I can do a better job than them of negotiating an agreement by next March”.

    3) All the opinion polls show the Tories with a narrow lead, but in 2017 they all showed a big Tory lead at the start of the campaign, and Corbyn nearly overtook them. It’s very unlikely Labour could gain an overall majority – they would need to win 64 more seats – but they could gain enough to be in a position to form a government with the support of the SNP andor Liberal Democrats. Both these parties would campaign on an anti-Brexit basis; my hunch is that both would gain a few seats, but that’s by no means certain. The SNP’s price for support would probably be the right to call a new Scottish Independence referendum within the term of the current Scottish Parliament (before May 2021), since the next one may well not have a pro-Indy majority. The LibDem price would be a new referendum on Brexit. On the other hand, it’s possible the Tories could regain their overall majority, if they somehow managed to present a more-or-less united front on the basis of a “red scare” campaign, and had a leader more competent at campaigning than May. It’s difficult to envisage how that united front could emerge, given the depths of bitterness between the factions, but the Tories have always cared more about power than anything else, so I can’t rule it out.

    One possibility along those lines that’s just occurred to me: the cabinet comes up with “fudge including a poisoned pill” at the Chequers meeting this week. That is, they produce an ambiguous agreement between themselves, but deliberately or otherwise, include something the EU will inevitably reject, and when it does, they go full xenophobe, calling for an election on a “Stuff the EU, we’ll go it alone like in 1940” platform (Labour would have no choice but to accept the challenge). May would resign and be replaced by a hard Brexiter such as Gove or even Rees-Mogg. Inevitably there would be some Tory MPs who just couldn’t stomach this, but they’d have no obvious leader, or political strategy. If the Tories won on this platform, the nastiest of the nasty party would have the wind in their sails, and would use the economic shock of a no-deal Brexit to push through full-scale destruction of the welfare state, remaining workers’ rights, minority and environmental protections, the devolution settlements, etc. There! Now you’ve made me scare myself :-p

  243. blf says

    Who is the Iranian group targeted by bombers and beloved of Trump allies? (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Cult-like MeK was listed as terrorist group in US until 2012 — but its opposition to Tehran has attracted backing of John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani and others bent on regime change in Iran

    The Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MeK), the extreme Iranian opposition group who was the target of a foiled bombing attack in France, was once a sworn enemy of the United States. The cult-like Iranian group was responsible for the killing of six Americans in Iran in the 1970s; in 1979 it enthusiastically cheered the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran […].

    Its opposition to Tehran’s current rulers, however, has earned the group powerful allies in the west, particularly among Americans bent on regime change.

    Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, addressed an MeK rally in Paris on Saturday, calling for regime change in Tehran. On Monday, Belgian authorities said four people, including a diplomat at the Iranian embassy in the Austrian capital Vienna, have been arrested after being accused of preparing a bomb attack in France targeted at the MeK rally.

    Many in the crowd of about 4,000 that Giuliani was addressing were eastern Europeans bussed in to attend the event in return for a weekend trip to Paris. He is among a series of high-profile US politicians, including John McCain and John Bolton, who have met the MeK’s leader Maryam Rajavi or spoken at its rallies.

    It was only in 2012 that the US delisted it as a terrorist group. But the arrival of John Bolton, the MeK’s most powerful advocate, as US national security adviser has given the group unprecedented proximity to the White House and a new lease of political life.

    There is a viable opposition to the rule of the ayatollahs, and that opposition is centred in this room today, Bolton said at an MeK rally in Paris last year. The behaviour and objectives of the regime are not going to change, and therefore the only solution is to change the regime itself.

    Bolton’s ascent to the White House has reinvigorated the group, analysts say, raising questions about the dangers of having in the earshot of the US president a group that some experts say uses human rights concerns to bury its murky past and portray itself as a democratic and popular alternative to the Islamic Republic.


    Today, it functions as a fringe exiled group with characteristics of a cult that works for regime change in Iran, though it has little visible support inside the country. It portrays itself as a democratic political institution although its own internal structure is anything but.

    Eli Clifton, a fellow at the Nation Institute, said the MeK’s influence in the US is multilayered. “When {MeK} members go and swarm Capitol Hill and seek meetings with the members of Congress,” Clifton said, “they’re very often the only voices that are heard, because there is simply not a lot of Iranian-American presence on Capitol Hill.”

    Clifton said the MeK, which operates under a set of front groups, writes very large cheques to those speaking at their events. Estimates are in the range of $30,000 to $50,000 per speech. Bolton is estimated to have received upwards of $180,000 to speak at multiple events for MeK. His recent financial disclosure shows that he was paid $40,000 for one speech at an MeK event last year.

    Jason Rezaian, the Iranian-American Washington Post journalist who was jailed in Tehran for more than a year, wrote in March that in the seven years he lived in the country, he saw a great deal of criticism towards the ayatollahs but “never met a person who thought the MeK should, or could, present a viable alternative”.

    Clifton said the MeK “shares many qualities of a cult”. That description was echoed by Iraj Mesdaghi, a Sweden-based Iranian activist who was jailed in Iran from 1981 to 1991 for his links to the MeK. […]


    Mesdaghi said MeK members kept in a massive military-style complex in Albania are particularly vulnerable because they are not given refugee status and depend on the group’s leadership for survival. From March 2013 to September 2016, about 3,000 MeK members are believed to have been sheltered in Albania, after being transferred from Iraq.

    Masoud Khodabandeh, a former senior MeK official, has written that MeK members in Albania are “effectively being held in a state of modern slavery”. In a recent interview, he described the group as a “destructive cult” which controls its members financially, physically and emotionally.


    The MeK, Clifton said, presents a narrative that it is a vibrant, secular, democratic government-in-waiting that has popular support within Iran.

    “That’s built on so many falsehoods,” he said. “It’s scary if policymakers listen to that and believe that fairytale.”

  244. blf says

    Teh le penazis have been fined, yet again, by the EU, EU parliament orders Le Pen’s group to pay over 500,000 euros — technically, it is an EU political grouping including teh le penazis which is fined:

    The decision was unanimously backed by a unit charged with vetting the accounts of the different political groupings.

    The European Parliament has ordered the political group of French far-right leader and former presidential candidate Marine Le Pen to reimburse more than 500,000 euros ($581,669.50) claimed in unjustified expenses, including expensive champagne and dinners.


    The political group Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) to which Le Pen’s party belongs, had claimed 477,780 euros ($555,820) in expenses in 2016 that the parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee deemed unjustified or non-compliant.


    This investigation follows last year’s inquiry over the abuse of expenses by National Front parliamentary assistants.

    The ENF group brings together 35 MEPs, of which almost half are from Le Pen’s party. It also includes members of the Austrian FPO, the Italian League and the Dutch Party for Freedom.


    I’m sure they are now asking Putin to order hair furor to write them a cheque (whilst presumably blustering in public about this-and-that, none of which addresses any of the points / charges).

  245. blf says

    Trump won’t lower flags to honour Capital Gazette victims: mayor:

    Annapolis mayor says Trump declined request to lower flags to half-staff to honour five killed in Thursday’s shooting.

    US President [sic] Donald Trump has reportedly declined a request to lower American flags to honour the five people killed in last week’s attack on the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland.

    The Baltimore Sun reported on Monday that Trump declined a request from Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley to order that flags be lowered to half-staffed […]

  246. blf says

    Farcebork’s lying could be catching up with it, Is Facebook a publisher? In public it says no, but in court it says yes:

    Facebook has long had the same public response when questioned about its disruption of the news industry: it is a tech platform, not a publisher or a media company.

    But in a small courtroom in California’s Redwood City on Monday, attorneys for the social media company presented a different message from the one executives have made to Congress, in interviews and in speeches: Facebook, they repeatedly argued, is a publisher, and a company that makes editorial decisions, which are protected by the first amendment.

    The contradictory claim is Facebook’s latest tactic against a high-profile lawsuit, exposing a growing tension for the Silicon Valley corporation, which has long presented itself as neutral platform that does not have traditional journalistic responsibilities.

    The suit, filed by an app startup, alleges that Mark Zuckerberg developed a “malicious and fraudulent scheme” to exploit users’ personal data and force rival companies out of business. Facebook, meanwhile, is arguing that its decisions about “what not to publish” should be protected because it is a “publisher”.

    In court, Sonal Mehta, a lawyer for Facebook, even drew comparison with traditional media: “The publisher discretion is a free speech right irrespective of what technological means is used. A newspaper has a publisher function whether they are doing it on their website, in a printed copy or through the news alerts.”


    Eric Goldman, a Santa Clara University law professor, said it was frustrating to see Facebook publicly deny that it was a publisher in some contexts but then claim it as a defense in court.

    “It’s politically expedient to deflect responsibility for making editorial judgements by claiming to be a platform,” he said, adding, “But it makes editorial decisions all the time, and it’s making them more frequently.”

    Facebook may be resistant to embrace its role as a publisher due to stricter laws and regulations outside of the US that could cause the company trouble, Goldman said.


  247. says

    “Powerful GOP Rep. Jim Jordan accused of turning blind eye to sexual abuse as Ohio State wrestling coach”:

    Rep. Jim Jordan, the powerful Republican congressman from Ohio, is being accused by former wrestlers he coached more than two decades ago at Ohio State University of failing to stop the team doctor from molesting them and other students.

    The university announced in April that it was investigating accusations that Dr. Richard Strauss, who died in 2005, abused team members when he was the team doctor from the mid-1970s to late 1990s.

    Jordan, who was assistant wrestling coach at the university from 1986 to 1994, has repeatedly said he knew nothing of the abuse until former students began speaking out this spring, and continued to deny it on Tuesday. His denials, however, have been met with skepticism and anger from some former members of the wrestling team.

    Three former wrestlers told NBC News that it was common knowledge that Strauss showered regularly with the students and inappropriately touched them during appointments, and said it would have been impossible for Jordan to be unaware; one wrestler said he told Jordan directly about the abuse.

    Former head coach Russ Hellickson, Jordan’s mentor, said in a recent video — made by Mike DiSabato, a former wrestler — that Hellickson had told Strauss that he was being too “hands on” with students.

    DiSabato, whose allegations against Strauss prompted Ohio State to open its investigation, called Jordan a “liar.”

    “I considered Jim Jordan a friend,” DiSabato said. “But at the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on.”

    DiSabato said he reached out to Jordan this year, before going to the university, to tell Jordan that he planned to go public with his allegations. Jordan told him to “please leave me out of it,” DiSabato said. “He asked me not to get him involved.”…

  248. says

    Hi, thread denizens, I’m back on the job … sort of, (my participation is always hit and miss). I’m glad to see that all the major political news, and some culinary news (blf @357), was covered while I was absent.

    SC @334: The question that comes to my mind is, why did Jarrod Ramos still have a gun? Why wasn’t his access to guns revoked? Before he killed five journalists in Annapolis, MD, he provided all the evidence anyone would need to find that he was a danger to others and should not have access to guns.

    Trump’s reaction to the shooting of journalists was understated to the point of being ridiculous. (See blf’s comment 400.) My local post office lowered the flag to half mast, and this a red state.

    Related to news about Peter Strzok, and to SC’s comments 289, 294, 301, 336, and 385: I knew that Strzok had volunteered to testify in an open session. I knew that as soon as the Republican Congress critters insisted on a subpoena for Strzok and on a closed hearing that the result would be selective/misleading leaks by those same Republicans. Sigh. I come back to this thread to find that is exactly what happened. Shameful.

    At least the next round of questioning will be public!

    The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok Tuesday for a second round of questioning early next week, but this time it will be public. […]

    Strzok was interviewed last week for 11 hours, in both unclassified and classified settings, after House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte initially slapped him with a subpoena to testify last month, although the two sides ultimately agreed to a voluntary interview and the subpoena was withdrawn.

    “Special Agent Strzok requested that the initial hearing be public and, one way or another, he will testify publicly soon,” said Aitan Goelman, Strzok’s attorney, in a statement to CNN on Tuesday. “Pete wants the American people to hear his testimony for themselves, instead of having his words leaked, twisted and mischaracterized by members of Congress. The only question is when and before what Committee, and those details are not yet settled.”

    […] “If the Committees were actually interested in making sure the American people knew the truth, they would release the transcript of Pete’s previous testimony,” Goelman said Tuesday. “Their real intentions are made clear by the fact that they took his testimony in secret, selectively leaked parts of it and are now withholding the transcript from the public.”

    The House Judiciary Committee is not the only committee that is seeking Strzok’s testimony. Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, invited Strzok to appear last month as part of the Democrats’ continuation of the panel’s Russia investigation. And several Senate committees would also like to speak with him. […]

    CNN link

    In other news, I was not surprised to find that Trump had tried to pressure Macron to leave the EU. Trump was toady-ing for Putin again. (See SC’s comment 339.) All the recent dissing of NATO and WTO by Trump is just more of the same. Trump is an ever-expanding disaster for the USA.

  249. says

    From text quoted by blf in comment 398:

    The MeK, Clifton said, presents a narrative that it is a vibrant, secular, democratic government-in-waiting that has popular support within Iran.

    “That’s built on so many falsehoods,” he said. “It’s scary if policymakers listen to that and believe that fairytale.”

    Well … that sounds like a fairytale custom made to attract both John Bolton and Trump. It’s perfect for those doofuses. I expect to hear more about support for MeK soon. (Oh, and Rudy Guiliani too. Of course he would be earning hefty speaking fees by supporting MeK.) Those doofuses have been taken in by a cult.

  250. says

    Oh, FFS. Trump wanted to invade Venezuela last August.

    […] The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have since left the administration. This account of the previously undisclosed conversation comes from a senior administration official familiar with what was said.

    In an exchange that lasted around five minutes, McMaster and others took turns explaining to Trump how military action could backfire and risk losing hard-won support among Latin American governments to punish President Nicolas Maduro for taking Venezuela down the path of dictatorship, according to the official. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the discussions.

    But Trump pushed back. […] he pointed to what he considered past cases of successful gunboat diplomacy in the region, according to the official, like the invasions of Panama and Grenada in the 1980s. […]

    The next day, Aug. 11, Trump alarmed friends and foes alike with talk of a “military option” to remove Maduro from power. The public remarks were initially dismissed in U.S. policy circles as the sort of martial bluster people have come to expect from the reality TV star turned commander in chief.

    But shortly afterward, he raised the issue with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, according to the U.S. official. Two high-ranking Colombian officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid antagonizing Trump confirmed the report.

    Then in September, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, Trump discussed it again, this time at greater length, in a private dinner with leaders from four Latin American allies that included Santos, the same three people said and Politico reported in February.

    The U.S. official said Trump was specifically briefed not to raise the issue and told it wouldn’t play well, but the first thing the president said at the dinner was, “My staff told me not to say this.” Trump then went around asking each leader if they were sure they didn’t want a military solution, according to the official, who added that each leader told Trump in clear terms they were sure.

    Eventually, McMaster would pull aside the president and walk him through the dangers of an invasion, the official said. […]

    For Maduro, who has long claimed that the U.S. has military designs on Venezuela and its vast oil reserves, Trump’s bellicose talk provided the unpopular leader with an immediate if short-lived boost as he was trying to escape blame for widespread food shortages and hyperinflation. […]


  251. says

    Follow-up to comments comments 289, 294, 301, 336, 385, and 403.

    More news regarding Strzok:

    The attorney for controversial FBI agent Peter Strzok said that his client is not sure if he’ll comply with a House Judiciary Committee subpoena to testify next week, telling CNN on Tuesday evening that lawmakers “don’t want the truth.”

    The committee issued the subpoena to Strzok earlier Tuesday, setting a July 10 date for his open hearing.

    Strzok’s attorney, Aitan Goelman, told CNN he didn’t “know whether or not” they would attend, criticizing the conduct of GOP lawmakers in the 11-hour closed-door interview Strzok sat for last week.

    “We have come to the conclusion, forced to come to the conclusion, that this is not a search for truth, it is a chance for Republican members of the House to preen and posture before their most radical, conspiracy-minded constituents,” Goelman said. […]


  252. says

    More perfidy from team Trump:

    Parents who’ve been separated from their children are being offered a jarring choice by the Trump administration,[…] Leave the United States with them, or leave without them. […]

    The form contains two options: “I am requesting to reunite with my child(ren) for the purpose of repatriation to my country of citizenship,” or “I am affirmatively, knowingly, and voluntarily requesting to return to my country of citizenship without my minor child(ren) who I understand will remain in the United States to pursue available claims of relief.”

    The form says it should be presented to parents “with administratively final orders of removal” who are covered by the ACLU’s lawsuit against ICE over the family separation policy, but, ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt told NBC News, “We are seeing cases where people who have passed credible fear interviews and have pending asylum claims are being given this form.”

    […] an attorney from the Southern Poverty Law Center, [said] “many are being pressured to sign this before they’ve even seen a judge, and despite not having a final order of removal.” […]

    “It’s not appropriate at all” if asylum-seekers are given this form, McKinney added. “It’s incredibly misleading, and again, it moves that narrative forward that this agency is not allowing asylum-seekers to have their day in court.” […]

    The Texas Tribune reported last month on an unnamed Honduran man who, “desperate” to see his six-year-old daughter from whom he’d been separated, agreed to abandon an asylum claim and sign a deportation order after immigration agents suggested he’d be able to see his daughter if he did so. He’s since tried to revoke that paperwork, according to the report.

    The preliminary injunction U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw issued in the ACLU suit last week, in addition to ordering the Trump administration to end the family separation policy, specifically stated that separated parents could not be deported without their child unless the parent “affirmatively, knowingly, and voluntarily declines to be reunited with the child” prior to deportation.

    Advocates take issue with ICE’s assertion that parents are even able to voluntarily sign the form when reunification with their children hangs in the balance.

    “When they add the conditional part of it — that is, ‘If you sign this form then you will get your child back’ — we question the legality of that, because then at that point, it’s not voluntary if it’s conditional,” Zenén Jaimes Pérez, communications director for the Texas Civil Rights Project [said] […]


  253. says

    Trump complains about Iranians getting citizenship by citing baseless stat he read on Fox News

    […] Trump woke up on Tuesday and decided to complain about the number of Iranians who received U.S. citizenship during the Iranian nuclear negotiations. Trump’s complaints appear to be based on an article he read, which was based on another article, which was based on another article on the views of an Iranian hardline politician.

    Trump didn’t provide a timeline, but the negotiations took more than two years. No confirmation of the stats was provided either. Looks like the birth of another anti-Iran conspiracy theory.

    “Just out that the Obama administration granted citizenship, during the terrible Iran Deal negotiation, to 2,500 Iranians – including to government officials,” Trump tweeted. “How big (and bad) is that?” […]

    Let’s first start with the obvious issue in this tweet, which is that there is no context to explain why Iranians getting citizenship is “big (and bad).” […]

    But another big problem is that Trump isn’t seeking immigration data from his own government — say, from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the State Department, for example.

    Instead, Trump is likely referring to a Fox News article, based on another article, based on another interview with a hardline Iranian politician, who first mentioned the unconfirmed figure.

    Mojtaba Zolnour, a hardline member of Iran’s parliament and a strong critic of Iran’s president, cited the figure in an interview with Iran’s reformist newspaper Etemad after being asked whether the Iranian society can look domestically to fix its issues.

    He took the opportunity to complain about Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, implying that his administration sacrificed Iranian national security interests during the Iranian nuclear negotiations to secure U.S. citizenship for themselves.

    “When Mr. Obama, during the negotiations over the [Iran deal] decided to do a favor to these men, he granted citizenship to 2,500 Iranians and some men and officials started a competition over whose children could be part of these 2,500 individuals,” Zolnour said. “If today these Iranians get deported from America, it will become clear who is complicit and is selling the national interest like candy to America.”

  254. says

    The Senate Intelligence Committee Refutes Trump—As Quietly As Possible

    On the eve of the 4th of July holiday, the GOP-controlled panel agrees Russia helped the president’s campaign.

    The Republican-run Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday repudiated President Donald Trump’s denials that Russia interfered to help his 2016 campaign. But the release of the report—at around 3pm, just before the July 4 holiday—suggests that the Senate Republicans are eager to keep their differences with Trump out of the sunlight.

    The report comes five days after Trump seemed to endorse Russian President Vladimir Putin’s denial, in the face of US intelligence agencies’ conclusions, that Russian interfered in the 2016 election: “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” Trump tweeted on Thursday. […]

    The report endorses the January 6, 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment, or ICA, finding Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 with the goals of undermining Americans’ faith in the democratic process and denigrating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The assessment also concludes that Russia “developed a clear preference for” Trump. […]

    More details at the link.

  255. Hj Hornbeck says

    Have we mentioned Trump’s letter-writing campaign? In case not:

    In letters reportedly sent to leaders of Nato countries like Canada, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands, Mr Trump accused the allies of “underspending” on their national defence, and warned that the US may soon change its stance on the alliance.

    “The United States continues to devote more resources to the defence of Europe when the Continent’s economy, including Germany’s, are doing well and security challenges abound. This is no longer sustainable for us,” Mr Trump wrote in a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, according to the New York Times.

  256. Hj Hornbeck says

    Rachael Maddow provided some intriguing context to SC @396 and Lynna @410.

    Last December, a bipartisan trio of Senators on the Foreign Relations committee were planning to visit Russia until the Kremlin decided to deny a visa to the sole Democrat, who had been critical of the Kremlin; the Republicans responded by tanking the entire trip, in solidarity. This time around, the Republicans never bothered to invite any Democrats. A member of the Russian Duma bragged this was the friendliest delegation they’d received from the US, with barely any mention of election meddling, nothing about Crimea, and (so far) no mention of meeting with opposition leaders in Russia. Strangely enough, none of those Senators are part of the Foreign Relations committee, in fact all of them appear to be from Appropriations.

    There’s more in those two links, which makes this delegation look shady.

  257. says

    Hj @411, not only is Trump insulting our allies right before a planned meeting with them, but in the case of Angela Merkel, he got his facts wrong as well. Germany already meets the 2% of GDP that NATO recommends for military preparedness.

    And, of course, more than 55 German soldiers died in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014. Those German soldiers were the first to be deployed abroad since WWII. They were deployed in defense of the USA.

  258. says

    In other news, Trump’s Twitter feed reveals, once again, his ignorance.

    “After having written many best selling books, and somewhat priding myself on my ability to write, it should be noted that the Fake News constantly likes to pour over my tweets looking for a mistake,” he wrote at 4:19 p.m. “I capitalize certain words only for emphasis, not b/c they should be capitalized!”

    Nearly two hours later, he deleted the tweet and corrected his misuse of the word “pour” — which plenty of people, including whoever is running Merriam-Webster‘s Twitter account, had pointed out to him — in a new tweet that changed only that single word.

    The word “pore” means “to read or study very carefully,” while “pour” means “to cause a liquid to flow from a container.” Dictionary.com subsequently tweeted: “Pore and pour have taken over the top search spots on dictionary.com this evening. Do you know the difference? Hint … Kermit would have to pour his favorite drink into his cup. #Spelling.”

    Trump, who has a second phone just for Twitter, has a habit of firing off error-laden missives on Twitter and replacing them with corrected versions later. He also has 19 books credited to his name, all published between 1987 and 2015. Almost all of them had a ghostwriter. […]


  259. says

    Hj @412, not only is that delegation shady, but Trump’s planned one-on-one meeting with Putin is also shady. I think David Ignatius is correct when he says that Trump may plan to more or less give Syria to Putin at that meeting.

    Is Trump handing Putin a victory in Syria?

    The catastrophic war in Syria is nearing what could be a diplomatic endgame, as the United States , Russia and Israel shape a deal that would preserve power for Syrian President Bashar al -Assad […]

    President Trump appears ready to embrace a policy that will validate Assad, an authoritarian leader who has gassed his own people, and abandon a Syrian opposition that was partly trained and supplied by the United States.

    […] Is Trump handing Putin a victory in Syria?

    The diplomatic discussions about Syria come as Trump prepares for a July 16 summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Foreign diplomats and administration officials are unsure just what will be on the agenda, but the Syria package will probably be in play.

    An intriguing aspect of the possible Syria deal is that it’s driven by close cooperation between Russia and Israel. The Israeli agenda, like Trump’s, is narrowly focused on blocking Iran — and Israelis seem to have concluded that Putin is a reliable regional partner. […]

    Think about that last bit, which envisions Putin as a reliable partner in the Middle East!

    ● Israel will have tacit Russian permission to attack threatening Iranian targets in Syria, so long as Russian troops aren’t harmed. […]

    ● Assad’s army, backed by Russian air power, will consolidate control in southwest Syria and retake posts on the Jordanian border. Jordan favors Assad’s control of the border because it might allow truck traffic to resume, boosting the cash-strapped Jordanian economy. Opposition forces in the southwest apparently will be left to fend for themselves. As thousands of new Syrian refugees flee toward a closed Jordanian border, a new slaughter of trapped civilians is possible. […]

    Syrian opposition leaders are bitterly disappointed at the deal that’s taking shape, and one warned me that the American “betrayal” will be an incubator for future jihadist movements. European countries, which have been key covert allies in Syria, are deeply skeptical that the anti-Iran plan will work. “Britain and France have warned the U.S. that it’s highly improbable that Russia has the presence on the ground to get the Iranians to shift out” of areas they now dominate, a European diplomat told me.

    Trump’s willingness to accede to Russian power in Syria — and to give up hard-won U.S. gains — troubles many Pentagon officials, but they seem to be losing the argument.[…]

    Much more at the link.

  260. says

    Team Trump proves yet again that they are not cool:

    […] Performing at the White House is like a really big deal. [A reference to past statements from Jimmy Fallon.] At least it was during the Obama years, when marquee names lined up to take the hot summer stage on the South Lawn with the Mall’s storied fireworks display going off in the background.

    Big arena acts such as the Killers, Cedric the Entertainer, Brad Paisley, Pitbull, Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar, Janelle Monae and more have performed at the White House’s barbecue, concert and firework viewing party, which is organized by the USO for more than a thousand military troops and their families.

    That was then.

    This year, taking the stage will be . . . two “American Idol” finalists. As in, not actual winners. Ever heard of Jax? Jonny Brenns? Not ringing a bell? You’re not alone. And there’s also country singer Sara Evans, whose last hit was back when “Lost” was still on the air (that was 2010, for the record, if you can remember that far back).

    Big-name acts that seemed old hat during the glittery Obama years have yet to warm up to the Trump administration.

    […] it seemed possible celebs could eventually come around — after all, playing the White House isn’t such a bad gig. […]

    Of course, the addition of any performers at 1600 Penn is a step up from last year’s Independence Day event, which had no formal concert schedule. In 2017, the Trumps celebrated America’s birthday with an afternoon picnic for armed service members and their families, and White House staffers and their families later watched the fireworks display. […]

    Washington Post link

  261. says

    Follow-up to comments 411 and 413.

    […] Just eight of NATO’s 29 members currently meet or are expected this year to meet the alliance’s goal of spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense: the United States, United Kingdom, Greece, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Romania and Lithuania.

    That goal was set at the 2014 Wales summit, where allies agreed to meet the target by 2024. NATO’s secretary-general has said at least 15 allies will make the 2024 deadline.

    Trump, though, wants allies to speed up their spending plans. He upped the ante recently in pointed letters to Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and leaders in Belgium and Norway, according to excerpts published Monday by The New York Times.

    In the June letters, Trump hinted he may be considering a shift in U.S. military posture should the leaders not increase their defense spending.

    “It will, however, become increasingly difficult to justify to American citizens why some countries do not share NATO’s collective security burden while American soldiers continue to sacrifice their lives overseas or come home gravely wounded,” Trump wrote to Merkel, according to the Times.

    The Pentagon is conducting a cost-benefit analysis of the 35,000 troops deployed to Germany, as first reported Friday by The Washington Post. A Pentagon spokesman insisted to reporters Monday the review is routine and not in anticipation of a White House demand to withdraw troops.

    The personal acrimony between Trump and Merkel, in particular, has appeared to grow in recent months, with the president tweeting recently that “the people of Germany are turning against their leadership.” […]


    I don’t think Trump actually understands how NATO works. He also doesn’t appreciate the history of NATO. Trump does, however, seem to side with Putin when it comes to hobbling or dismantling NATO.

  262. says

    Hj @418, OMG,

    Scrubbing his Twitter bio of references to Trump, on the other hand, is starting to get somewhere.

    Ha! Now that is kind of farcical, but also serious. Twitter is everything to Trump, so for Cohen to scrub him out means something.

    […] The longtime fixer for the president scrubbed his Twitter biography of a line identifying him as “personal attorney to President Donald J. Trump.”

    This conspicuous move comes days after Cohen suggested to ABC News that he was considering flipping on Trump and cooperating with government prosecutors. Cohen also swapped out a cover photo featuring him standing at the podium at a Trump rally for an image of a rippling American flag. […]


  263. says

    Go team adultery / child detention / fake charities / money laundering / sexism / racism / actual genuine treason.

    The Times finally gets to the bottom of Trump supporters.

    […] There is an obsessive need, in our journalistic culture, to explain bad behavior away. Donald Trump is not an amoral cesspool of lies, he is merely engaging in a particular brand of political rhetoric that seeks to persuade via the creative denial of the world everyone else can see with their own two eyes—and it’s not for we keepers of the truth to judge. Donald Trump’s supporters are not themselves dismal human beings who have open contempt for anyone not in their own small tribe, people who are forever obsessed with harming every other tribe in every other way, regardless of how it is done or how many family values rules need to be broken to do it, but are waving their little rebel flags and demanding child internment camps because their economic anxiety has gotten their stomachs all a-knotted of late.

    But the acts speak for themselves. Trump’s supporters do not care about his values, his lies, the means by which he achieves his ends, or whether or not he burns the Constitution in a barbecue pit so long as he can make them feel better about their own lot in life. This is not our construction, but their own; you need not look very far in any interview to find it. They are not good people. They are not good Americans, and their so-called morals are reptilian at best. We are allowed to say it. […]

    Some readers might find Hunter’s article in Daily Kos offensive.

  264. Hj Hornbeck says

    … This is terribly strange.

    The couple are British nationals Dawn Sturgess, 44, from Salisbury, and Charlie Rowley, 45, of Amesbury, who are in critical condition in Salisbury district hospital, where the Skripals were treated four months earlier after being exposed to the nerve agent novichok.

    The initial police view was that drugs caused Sturgess and Rowley’s severe illness. But that view started to change and in the early hours of Wednesday and a major incident was declared when health officials and police became alarmed at the couple’s symptoms and were unable to pinpoint the cause. Tests were carried out by scientists at Porton Down, which is expert in spotting nerve agents. Scientists there concluded a nerve agent was responsible, the same type used to attack the Skripals.

    [Scotland Yard assistant commissioner Neil] Basu said: “I can confirm tonight that there has been a significant development and that the Counter Terrorism Policing Network is now leading the investigation into this incident. “This evening we have received test results from Porton Down that show the two people have been exposed to the nerve agent novichok.”

    The news is fresh, so there’s no idea of motive yet.

  265. Hj Hornbeck says

    Lynna @419:
    And on top of that, Trump was everything to Cohen.

    “The part that’s most disappointing is that I haven’t spoken to the president in several weeks. I haven’t spoken to Melania or any of the kids,” Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer and confidante, lamented to me last week. […]

    The word “loyal” came up more than a dozen times in the course of our conversations. During a telephone discussion a few days earlier, Cohen joked that maybe if he saw the president in a white sheet at a Klan rally, then he would think twice about lending his support. (After making the comment, Cohen, who is Jewish and the child of a Holocaust survivor, clarified that he was speaking in jest, and that neither he nor the president condone white supremacy.) His loyalty is so unceasing, he said, that it tortures him to even walk by Trump Tower, and it infuriates him that he believes there are still people in the White House who are more interested in building their own brands than in being loyal to the president or serving the American people. […]

    It may not matter that Trump and Cohen are currently on their communication hiatus. Psychically, they occupy the same bunker. At one point, Cohen seemed to succinctly explain their relationship, as he saw it. “One man who wants to do so much good with so many detractors against him needs support,” he said. As he spoke, he appeared to tear up.

    To go from that, to scrubbing Trump from his Twitter bio, is a pretty clear sign Cohen’s loyalty has run out.

  266. blf says

    scrubbing Trump from his [Cohen’s] Twitter bio, is a pretty clear sign Cohen’s loyalty has run out.

    That presumes he is not in the pay of Putin. Another interpretation of this and other known / reported events is Putin is sending hair furor a message. With Congress, the Supreme Court, and various European “allies” (notably the UK and Italy, but also Hungray and Poland, and stretching the geography a bit, Israel, Turkey & Syria) in his pocket, Putin may be emphasising hair furor is neither indispensable nor strictly necessarily, albeit not so useless the dalekocracy can be completely jettisoned.

    (The above is, of course, fairly classic paranoia conspiracy thinking. The point, however, the above is trying to make — that Cohen may not be entirely acting out of his own interests — is plausible albeit both unproven with scant (currently-known) evidence.)

  267. Hj Hornbeck says

    blf @424: I’d argue it isn’t, even Trump fans have treated Cohen switching sides as plausible around the time of the raid. Whether this is ill-advised self-defense or informed speculation, it suggests this isn’t a sudden change of personality despite his bellicose defenses of his former boss. It would also require the Kremlin have substantial pull over at least one judge, a branch of the FBI, and the Justice Department.

    Anyway, Putin could always deliver this message in person.

    In a demonstration of his growing willingness to flout diplomatic convention and the concerns of US allies, Trump apparently plans to meet with the Russian leader alone, likely with only translators in the room, at the start of their summit in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16. […]

    “It is no secret that the President doesn’t do well one-on-one with Vladimir Putin,” CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd said Monday, recalling how Trump ignored advice not to congratulate the Russian leader on his re-election this year.

    “If he is sitting across the table from Vladimir Putin, who is a highly skilled manipulator and negotiator, the chances are things could go off the rails,” said Vinograd, who was a senior National Security Council staffer in the Obama administration.

  268. Hj Hornbeck says

    Also, we’ve got one answer for why a large group of Senators wanted to meet with the Kremlin on the fourth of July.

    I just got off the phone with @JerryMoran’s DC office. I was told that Jerry is in Moscow to honor servicemembers and show support for diplomats and in danger in Russia. What?

    ” … He sees it as a small gesture to show elected officials that we care and appreciate their service. American diplomats and embassy personnel in Russia serve in a difficult environment and they can be harassed and physically assaulted sometimes.” – @JerryMoran’s office

    Meanwhile, I’m hearing zip-all about those Senators visiting opposition leaders, and mixed messages between the US and Russian players.

    Participants offered conflicting accounts of the degree to which they aired U.S.-Russian disagreements. Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) described the meetings as “damn frank, very, very, very frank, no holds barred.”

    “I asked our friends in Russia not to interfere in our elections this year,” Kennedy said. “I asked them to exit Ukraine and allow Ukraine to self-determine. I asked for the same thing in Crimea. I asked for their help in bringing peace to Syria. And I asked them not to allow Iran to gain a foothold in Syria.”

    Duma member Vyacheslav Nikonov, on the other hand, said he had met with many American lawmakers in years past and that this meeting “was one of the easiest ones in my life.” The question of election interference, he said, was resolved quickly because “the question was raised in a general form.”

    “One shouldn’t interfere in elections — well, we don’t interfere,” Nikonov said.

    It smells of a quiet thank-you to the Kremlin for all their help during the 2016 election.

  269. Hj Hornbeck says

    Also, the White House continues to Make China Great Again.

    The authorization permits China’s No. 2 maker of telecoms gear to support existing networks or equipment under contracts signed on or before April 15, when the U.S. blocked companies from selling components to ZTE for violating sanctions against Iran and North Korea. The ban had forced ZTE to announce it was shutting down.

    President Donald Trump reversed course in May, saying he was reconsidering penalties on ZTE as personal favor to Chinese President Xi Jinping. Later that month, the Trump administration announced it would allow the company to stay in business after paying a $1.3 billion fine, changing its management and providing “high-level security guarantees.”

    The about-face sparked concerns of ZTE being used as a bargaining chip in U.S.-China trade negotiations to avert a tariffs dispute. Those talks have stalled and the U.S. is set to impose tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese goods Friday, and another $16 billion may follow. China has said it will retaliate dollar-for-dollar on U.S. imports.

    It may also have been a reward to the Chinese government for helping out The Family.

  270. says

    Trump continues to assume others know as little as he does, as Steve Benen put it.

    From the Washington Post:

    GOP lawmakers went to the White House last month to hear President Trump’s case for lifting U.S. sanctions on the Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE. But even as Trump tried to convince his skeptical listeners that it was all part of a grand plan to win China’s help on North Korea, he threw in a jab, according to two senior administration officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting.

    None of you, Trump told the lawmakers, had even heard of ZTE before the most recent flap.

    The lawmakers had indeed heard of ZTE. Several had spent years pushing action against what they viewed as unpardonable abuses by a company found guilty of selling U.S. goods to Iran — only to watch Trump sweep aside their concerns in a quick deal done with Chinese President Xi Jinping. […]

    Here is a report, in PDF format from the 112th Congress of the U.S. House of Representatives. ZTE is right there in the title.

    From Steve Benen:

    So why would Trump tell lawmakers that they’d never heard of ZTE? Because he’d never heard of ZTE, and this president tends to assume everyone is roughly as ignorant as he is.

  271. Hj Hornbeck says

    Also, we’re getting more information about the latest nerve agent attack in the UK. Looks like it was accidental secondary exposure.

    On Thursday night a senior Government source told the Press Association it was believed there was cross-contamination of the same batch of nerve agent involved in the “reckless” Salisbury attack, as opposed to a secondary attack.

    “They [the authorities] have never been able to ascertain the item used to deposit the Novichok and it’s possible the pair have come into contact with that item”, the source said. […]

    [Britain’s top counter-terrorism officer Neil] Basu said there was nothing in the backgrounds of Sturgess or Rowley that would suggest they would be a target for a deliberate attack – they have no connections to the intelligence or security communities.

  272. says

    A good summary of Trump’s recent pro-Putin actions and statements:

    […] Trump has, after all, echoed Putin’s line on the 2016 attack on the American elections, endorsed Russia’s re-entry into the G-7, opened the door to formally recognizing Crimea as Russian soil, canceled joint military exercises with South Korea (which is a step Putin suggested to the Republican president), tried to further fracture the European Union, expressed his dissatisfaction with NATO, and moved toward handing Russia more power over developments in Syria.

    The Deal-Maker in Chief took all of these steps in exchange for … nothing. There’s no evidence that Trump sought any concessions from Moscow in return for his recent pro-Russia efforts. […]


    One commenter noted that the upcoming one on one meeting with Putin “looks like Trump’s annual performance review with his boss.”

  273. says

    Ah, yes … very Trumpian:

    As Trump levies tariffs and threats against China for “stealing American jobs,” a Chinese factory says it’s been hired to manufacture flags for Trump’s 2020 campaign, […]

    Donald J. Trump for President, Inc., the committee organizing Trump’s reelect run, has publicly committed to buying American, saying that “we put America First and take great pride in selling 100% Made in the USA products to our supporters throughout the country.” It is unclear if the committee was the body that entered into the contract with the Chinese factory. […]


  274. says

    The beauty pageant:

    […] Trump may have left his Miss Universe days in the dust, but good looks and a glowing personality remain crucial to winning Trump’s favor.

    As the President vets candidates who could become his next Supreme Court justice nominee, Trump’s level of comfort with each candidate is a key factor, according to Axios. Citing a White House official, Axios reported that the person that Trump ultimately picks will be “who he feels most comfortable with in a personal setting.”

    The candidate and their spouse’s appearance is also important to Trump, Politico reported, citing one person who said it is paramount to Trump that his pick “looks all-American.”

    “Beyond the qualifications, what really matters is, does this nominee fit a central casting image for a Supreme Court nominee, as well as his or her spouse,” a Republican close to the White House told Politico. “That’s a big deal. Do they fit the role?” […]


  275. says

    […] we’ve finally found a criminal immigrant who was booted from his home country and foisted on to America: Trump’s grandfather, Friedrich Trump.


    They are not sending their best.

    […] this is not new information. It was unearthed in 2016 by German historian Roland Paul and widely reported in the US press just after the 2016 election. But I at least did not realize he had been ordered deported as a criminal. But the facts are these.

    Trump was born in Kallstadt in 1869. He emigrated to the US in 1885 at the age of 16 to make his fortune in the Gold Rush. He ran a catering operation and a brothel and made enough money that by the end of the century he was already sending money, actually literal chunks of gold, back to New York to be invested in real estate.

    He returned to Kallstadt in 1901 to get into the chain migration business.[…] Elisabeth Christ, whom he married and then brought her back to the US. But Elisabeth couldn’t adjust to the US. So Trump decided to repatriate to Germany – actually the principality of Bavaria, then a semi-autonomous kingdom within the German Empire. But there was a problem. Friedrich had evaded the draft. So Bavarian authorities blocked his attempt to resettle in his native country, ordering him to leave the country forever on pain of deportation.

    Trump wrote a low energy letter to Prince Regent Luitpold addressing him as “the much-loved, noble, wise and righteous sovereign and sublime ruler.” But he was rejected like a dog. […] He ended up setting sail for the United States ahead of the deportation order where he spent the rest of his life. On the voyage back, Elisabeth Trump was already pregnant with Donald Trump’s father Fred Trump.

  276. says

    How Trump’s inner circle profits from jailing babies:

    Private contractors—nonprofits, private corporations, and religious groups—with strong ties to the Trump administration also happen to be making billions out of Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy of kidnapping and detaining migrant children. […] It’s a two-fer for the Trumpsters—profiting from white supremacy.

    Two of the private prison companies, the Geo Group and CoreCivic, housing detained migrant families each donated $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration. The Geo Group just happens to have hired Brian Ballard, who lobbied for Mr. Trump’s golf courses in Florida […]

    Then there’s General Dynamics, where Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis was a long-time board member until his appointment in the Trump administration. The huge military contractor has apparently found a profitable sideline in the immigration detention business, offering “training and technical assistance to the shelters and provides other administrative services to the government.”

    While Mattis is off of the board, there’s a much closer Trump tie to the company in the company’s chief executive, Phebe Novakovic. She served on Trump’s transition team and is one of the CEOs who shows up at the White House for his dog and pony shows on trade and the economy. […]


    More at the link, including a fact that has been mentioned before in this thread, namely that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has ties to Bethany Christian Services which provides foster care to immigrant children.

  277. says

    A Lawyer met with 11 separated parents in one day. What she heard is terrifying.

    Ruby L. Powers’ most recent journey to the Port Isabel detention center in Los Fresnos, Texas, began with an early-morning flight from Houston that brought her to south Texas […] Over the next seven-and-a-half hours, in a series of rapid-fire and often emotionally wrenching meetings, Powers met with 11 different parents who had been separated from their children. Only one of them had already individually spoken with an attorney.

    […] After roughly three weeks apart, their separation may be ending now that a federal judge has ordered DHS to reunite separated families within 30 days—and within 14 days for children who are younger than five. But that doesn’t mean they will be released from detention anytime soon, only that the Trump administration has decided to replace forced separation with indefinite family detention as part of an ongoing court battle over a 2016 court decision that requires children to be released from family detention within about 20 days. […]

    The seven men and four women with whom Powers met were from the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras and had been separated from their children for about two weeks. […] One woman fled to the United States after a judge held her responsible for the domestic abuse inflicted by her husband. […]

    Powers is exactly the kind of lawyer a migrant might hope to work with. […] Powers has about a decade of experience with asylum claims and runs a Houston immigration law firm that employs four other attorneys.

    She is warm and attentive, bringing to her clients the invaluable mix of lawyering and social work that asylum cases often require—and a deep commitment to providing migrants fleeing persecution with strong legal representation. Like other immigration lawyers, she is spending thousands of dollars’ worth of time working pro bono, not to mention the days she is apart from her family. […]

    […] ever-changing and seemingly arbitrary requirements attorneys must comply with before they first meet with clients. Powers initially filled out paperwork in blue ink, for instance, before learning that black ink was required. She already knew to bring a quarter for the lockers in which she had to store jewelry and other personal effects not allowed in the visitation room. Because watches have been banned more recently, she sometimes asked a guard for the time, then resorted to gauging how long her meetings were by checking the shadows outside. […]

    I asked her again about the man who plans to leave his children behind if he is ordered deported. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and gathered herself. He had told her the day before, “I’m dead if I go back, but I want my children to be here and be safe.”

    “It was a no-brainer for him,” Powers says. “He had the answer.” […]

    Some of the people Powers met said they were told—falsely—that their children would be returned to them after the usually brief trial for crossing the border without authorization. Goodwin says parents at Port Isabel were assured they would be released after passing the credible fear interviews that establish there is a significant chance they will be persecuted in their home countries and allow potential asylum claims to proceed. “That’s not what [ICE] is doing,” Goodwin adds. “They’ve—across the board—set no bond.” It means that lawyers will have to ask an immigration judge to set bond. That will take about a week to get scheduled, and even if they succeed, ICE can appeal the judge’s determination. (Mother Jones reported on Sunday that ICE is also denying bond to separated parents at the T. Don Hutto detention center near Austin.) […]


    More at the link.

  278. says

    News about Trump’s new White House Communications Chief, Bill Shine, former Fox News executive.

    […] the White House officially announced that […] Trump had chosen Shine to be the next White House communications chief. The news comes a year after Shine was booted out of Fox following accusations that he covered up the alleged sexual misconduct of Roger Ailes, the former Fox News poobah, and after Shine attempted to keep alleged sexual harasser Bill O’Reilly in his position.

    This mind-meld of Fox and Trump’s White House was probably inevitable. Now Trump, without tweeting, can be fully wired into the network that often functions as state television. […]


  279. says

    Trump reiterated his demand to deport undocumented immigrants, asylum-seekers without due process:

    […] “Congress must pass smart, fast and reasonable Immigration Laws now. Law Enforcement at the Border is doing a great job, but the laws they are forced to work with are insane,” the president wrote on Twitter Thursday morning in a pair of posts. “When people, with or without children, enter our Country, they must be told to leave without our country being forced to endure a long and costly trial.”

    “Tell the people ‘OUT,’ and they must leave, just as they would if they were standing on your front lawn,” he continued. “Hiring thousands of ‘judges’ does not work and is not acceptable – only Country in the World that does this!”

    In a third tweet, the president called America’s immigration laws “insane” and issued an all-caps call for Congress to fix them “NOW!”


  280. quotetheunquote says

    Lynna #438:
    Ahhhh, just beat me to it!
    Now, I have a question – should I say,
    a) “Good riddence to bad garbage” or
    b) “Ah, yes, just another rat deserting the sinking ship”

    Okay, it’s both.

  281. says

    In response to quotetheunquote in comment 439: Also, another rat, (Deputy who shares Pruitt’s intentions to dismantle most EPA regulations), will take over.

    Presumably, the new rat will not get media coverage for buying used mattresses from Trump hotels. We’ll see. Many EPA employees will be glad to see Pruitt go because he treated them badly — even going so far as to have other aides dig up dirt for smear campaigns against aides whom Pruitt viewed as insufficiently loyal.

    Interestingly, Bill Shine (see comment 436) was on the plane with Trump when Trump tweeted out his acceptance of Pruitt’s resignation.

    Pruitt was a hero on the far right, ethical “challenges” be damned.

  282. says

    An excerpt from the personal story of one immigrant —just to restore the human perspective:

    […] Last week, a federal judge in San Diego issued an injunction ordering the Trump Administration to reunite the separated families within the next month. Given the government’s disorganization, it’s impossible to see how the judge’s deadline can be met.

    While Corchado gathered documents, Hernández called her sister, who lives in New York, to ask if she could use her home address. “My sister wanted to help, but she got scared that the government will come after her,” Hernández said. “She’s undocumented.” Under past Administrations, O.R.R. reassured parents and family sponsors that it would never scrutinize their immigration status. But, based on a new memorandum of agreement, signed in April, O.R.R. is now required to share the information it compiles on sponsors with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Now case managers tell parents and potential sponsors that, if they submit personal information for vetting purposes, it could lead to deportation. […]

    Hernández and her sister decided to ask a friend who is a legal permanent resident if she could serve as a sponsor, but the woman’s husband got nervous when he heard that the government would have to fingerprint him. “He said to me, ‘What does this all have to do with your kid?’ ” Hernández told me. “I don’t have anyone now,” she said. “Everyone’s scared. They all have doubts. It’s just me, and I can’t get my son.”

    […] According to the Times, separated parents who have managed to locate their children and find sponsors have been spending thousands of dollars on airfare. “It’s this grotesque scenario where children have been removed from their parents, and they’re essentially being held hostage while their parents try to come up with the money,” Carey said.

    Hernández hasn’t even considered the costs of reunification. On Tuesday, she left the shelter for her sister’s house, where she plans to start looking for someone else who can help her sponsor her son. She worried, though, that staying there for too long could put her sister at risk of deportation. “Maybe I can try to find an apartment or something,” she told me. Hernández is fortunate in one respect: she has a lawyer. Corchado told me, “Many parents are leaving town before they get connected with lawyers. I fear that they will have no one to help them navigate a system full of potential landmines.” […]

    New Yorker link

  283. says

    “AP NewsBreak: US Army quietly discharging immigrant recruits”:

    Some immigrant U.S. Army reservists and recruits who enlisted in the military with a promised path to citizenship are being abruptly discharged, the Associated Press has learned.

    The AP was unable to quantify how many men and women who enlisted through the special recruitment program have been booted from the Army, but immigration attorneys say they know of more than 40 who have been discharged or whose status has become questionable, jeopardizing their futures.

    “It was my dream to serve in the military,” said reservist Lucas Calixto, a Brazilian immigrant who filed a lawsuit against the Army last week. “Since this country has been so good to me, I thought it was the least I could do to give back to my adopted country and serve in the United States military.”

    Some of the service members say they were not told why they were being discharged. Others who pressed for answers said the Army informed them they’d been labeled as security risks because they have relatives abroad or because the Defense Department had not completed background checks on them.*

    Spokespeople for the Pentagon and the Army said that, due to the pending litigation, they were unable to explain the discharges or respond to questions about whether there have been policy changes in any of the military branches.

    The AP interviewed Calixto and recruits from Pakistan and Iran, all of whom said they were devastated by their unexpected discharges.

    “Now the great feeling I had when I enlisted is going down the drain,” said Calixto, 28. “I don’t understand why this is happening.”

    In hopes of undoing the discharge, he filed a lawsuit in Washington, D.C., last week alleging the Defense Department hadn’t given him a chance to defend himself or appeal. He said he was given no specific grounds other than “personnel security.”

    Calixto, who lives in Massachusetts and came to the U.S. when he was 12, said in an email interview arranged through his attorney that he joined the Army out of patriotism.

    In the suit, Calixto said he learned he was being kicked out soon after he was promoted to private second class.

    The Pakistani service member who spoke to the AP said he learned in a phone call a few weeks ago that his military career was over.

    “There were so many tears in my eyes that my hands couldn’t move fast enough to wipe them away,” he said. “I was devastated, because I love the U.S. and was so honored to be able to serve this great country.”

    He asked that his name be withheld because he fears he might be forced to return to Pakistan, where he could face danger as a former U.S. Army enlistee.

    An Iranian citizen who came to the U.S. for a graduate degree in engineering told the AP that he enlisted in the program hoping to gain medical training. He said he had felt proud that he was “pursuing everything legally and living an honorable life.”

    In recent weeks, he said, he learned that he’d been discharged.

    “It’s terrible because I put my life in the line for this country, but I feel like I’m being treated like trash,” he said. “If I am not eligible to become a U.S. citizen, I am really scared to return to my country.”

    He spoke on condition of anonymity because of those fears.

    It’s unclear how the service members’ discharges could affect their status as legal immigrants.

    Non-U.S. citizens have served in the military since the Revolutionary War, when Continental soldiers included Irish, French and Germans. The U.S. recruited Filipino nationals to serve in the Navy in the 1940s, and worked to enlist Eastern Europeans in the military over the next decade, according to the Defense Department.

    Since Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 110,000 members of the Armed Forces have gained citizenship by serving in the U.S. military, according to the Defense Department.

    Many service members recruited through the program have proven to be exemplary. In 2012, then-Sgt. Saral K. Shrestha, originally from Nepal, was named U.S. Army Soldier of the Year.

    In general, the immigrant recruits have been more cost-effective, outperforming their fellow soldiers in the areas of attrition, performance, education and promotions, according to a recently released review by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research institution….

    * Oh, sure – they’re security risks.