Comments

  1. says

    A grand jury has returned an indictment for Maria Butina.

    Mueller’s team is going to give “use immunity” to five witnesses in the Manafort trial. Judge Ellis has denied Manafort’s request to move the trial. This is one of a string of decisions against Manafort in recent days.

    Trump tried to do damage control today after the treason summit. It was pathetic gaslighting and made him look even more guilty.

  2. tomh says

    The real reason Republicans in Congress ride along with Trump no matter what – these kinds of regulations keep falling by the wayside.

    NYT: I.R.S. Will No Longer Force Kochs and Other Groups to Disclose Donors

    The Trump administration will end a longstanding requirement that certsain nonprofit organizations disclose the names of their large donors to the Internal Revenue Service, a move that will allow some political groups to shield their sources of funding from government scrutiny.

    The change, which has been long sought by conservatives and Republicans in Congress, will affect labor unions, social clubs and, most notably, many political groups like the National Rifle Association and the Koch network’s Americans for Prosperity, which collect what is known as “dark money.”

    The effect will be that there will be no way to know if these contributions are legal or illegal, foreign or domestic.

  3. says

    “Israel worked to build Hungary’s Orban a bridge to Trump White House”:

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has worked behind the scenes for the last year to “open doors” in the Trump administration for Viktor Orban, Hungary’s controversial nationalist prime minister, Israeli officials tell me.

    …Orban, who has been called the “Donald Trump of Europe,” leads an ultra-nationalistic government and is working to turn Hungary into what he has termed an “illiberal democracy.” Cold relations that had existed between his government and the Obama administration carried forward to the first year under Trump. Israeli officials tell me that when Netanyahu met with Orban in Budapest last July, the Hungarian Prime Minister asked for his help in improving those relations.

    An Israeli official tells me Israel’s ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, and other Israeli foreign ministry officials approached members of the Trump administration and asked them several times to open a new page with Orban.

    …Tomorrow, Orban will land in Israel for his first visit as prime minister….

    And Black Cube, with ties to the Israeli government, helped with Orbán’s election efforts. I feel like I can’t stress enough what an openly anti-Semitic campaign Orbán ran earlier this year. These actions by the Israeli government are shocking. Their enemies include: former Israeli officials who criticize current policies, human rights and BDS activists, leftwing Jewish people in Europe and the US. Allies include: overtly anti-Semitic rightwing regimes, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, far-Right Christianists in the US.

  4. says

    I have been toying with a hypothesis lately. Maybe it’s an old idea long ago expressed by others. Maybe it’s half-baked. Since the GOP and its followers have constructed so much of their identity around race, they literally cannot entertain the possibility that Russia is out to harm us because Russia is largely “white.” This is regardless of the fact that what is regarded as “white” has changed a lot over the years. It’s all I got at this point.

    Plus, much of Russian culture is virulently homophobic and misogynistic. Hell, Nixon (not Cynthia) admired them for those traits and was recorded saying so.

    I dunno, it’s all I’ve got.

  5. says

    “Russia plans to increase aggression post-World Cup”:

    Russian intelligence agencies are planning to ramp up operations targeting western countries now that the World Cup and the Trump-Putin Helsinki summit have ended, according to sources familiar with intelligence collected by the United Kingdom, the US and other allies.

    What the renewed anti-western operations will entail isn’t known. But the increased Russian intelligence operations are aimed at exploiting political turmoil and destabilizing governments in the west, these officials believe. Russia has been accused of everything from influence and propaganda operations via social media and pro-Kremlin outlets, to harassment, assassinations and the novichok poisonings in the UK….

  6. weylguy says

    Predictions:

    Mueller will discover that Putin gave Trump $200 billion to kill the sanctions
    Trump’s taxes will be exposed, showing the payment from Russia
    Videos will be discovered showing Trump conducting child sacrifice in the Oval Office
    Videos will be discovered showing Mike Pence and other sycophants sucking Trump’s dick
    The American people will reelect Trump in 2020

    Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!

  7. microraptor says

    Robert Westbrook @4:

    The hypothesis I’ve most commonly seen floated around is that Putin simply represents the ideal of the way that Republicans wish they could run the US.

  8. chrislawson says

    weylguy@8–

    $200 billion is way over market value. I’m thinking $100K plus a Big Mac with fries.

  9. says

    Bill Browder: “BREAKING: After Putin accused me at the Helsinki Summit of donating $400m to the Hillary Clinton campaign, the Russian General Prosecutor* clarified that Putin should have said $400k. The real answer is I donated ZERO. Total amateur hour.”

    But Putin and his gang are very professionally looting Russia’s wealth.

    This dude.

  10. says

    Tucker: ‘Why should my son [ahem] die for Montenegro?’ […Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belgium, France, Latvia, Ukraine, Norway, England, Hungary, Italy,…]
    Trump: ‘I understand and I feel the same way’

    Jesus.”

    This week in 1940:

    Hugh Dalton, Labour party minister, is forming a new secret anti-Nazi British guerilla organisation: “comparable to the Sinn Fein movement in Ireland.”

    Dalton: “This ‘democratic international’ will use sabotage, strikes, propaganda, terrorism for traitors & German leaders, boycotts & riots” to resist any German occupation of Britain.

  11. says

    “Why should my son die for Montenegro?”

    This sort of thing (which is weird – disturbing it was brought up) was classic Nazi US propaganda (and not just countries – “why should my son die for some Jews, who brought this on themselves?”).

  12. KG says

    I feel like I can’t stress enough what an openly anti-Semitic campaign Orbán ran earlier this year. These actions by the Israeli government are shocking. Their enemies include: former Israeli officials who criticize current policies, human rights and BDS activists, leftwing Jewish people in Europe and the US. Allies include: overtly anti-Semitic rightwing regimes, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, far-Right Christianists in the US. – SC@5

    To the Israeli right (which now completely dominates Israeli politics), Jews outside Israel have only two functions: to pressure their governments to favour the Israeli right and its expansionist aims; and to migrate to Israel and more particularly, to the occupied territories. Increasing antisemitism is only a problem for them if it obstructs the first function, and is a positive advantage as regards the second.

  13. says

    More re #15 above – “Trump fundamentally undermines NATO, suggests ‘aggressive’ Montenegro may attack Russia to start World War III”:

    President Donald Trump returned to undermining NATO on Tuesday by singling out the alliance’s smallest and newest member, Montenegro, following a European tour that Republicans heavily criticized for misrepresenting US values.

    In an interview with Fox News host Tucker Carlson on Tuesday, Trump was asked why the US should answer the call to defend Montenegro — which was admitted to NATO in 2017 — in the event it was attacked.

    “Let’s say Montenegro, which joined last year … why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack,” Tucker asked Trump.

    “I understand what you’re saying, I’ve asked the same question,” Trump said. “Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people.”

    But Trump added another wrinkle to the scenario and suggested Montenegro’s “aggressive people” could spark a global conflict and drag the US with it.

    “By the way, they’re very strong people. They’re very aggressive people,” Trump said. “They may get aggressive. And congratulations, you’re in World War III.”

    If Montenegro, a country with just over 620,000 people, became aggressive and started a war with Russia, they could not invoke Article 5 and require US involvement. That’s because it would not be in response to an attack on a NATO member, but it would instead be an attack from a NATO member.

    Rather than instigating World War III with Russia, Montenegro has had to fend off what it describes as a Russian attempt to kill its prime minister in 2016.*

    Describing NATO ascension, expansion, or NATO countries taking steps to defend their homelands as “aggressive” is a hallmark of Russian messaging in its opposition against the alliance.

    He then told more disparaging lies about NATO, summing up: “It was very unfair. They weren’t paying, So not only are we paying for most of it, but they weren’t even paying and we’re protecting them. Add that to your little equation on Montenegro.”

    That’s exactly what it was.

  14. blf says

    The final paragraph of the Grauniad’s article, Search ‘idiot’, get Trump: how activists are gaming Google Images, is amusing:

    The irony, as you may be aware, is that despite there being no provable link between the concepts, an article in the Guardian featuring a picture of Donald Trump and the word “idiot” will only reinforce the results further. Let’s hope no one clicks on this or links to it, and say only, very soberly: “Trump Trump Trump Trump idiot idiot idiot idiot.”

  15. blf says

    On Israel’s cozying up to nazis and other loons, from the opinion column, An unlikely union: Israel and the European far right (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    Israel has been engaging far-right groups and parties across Europe, ignoring their anti-Semitism.
    […]
    Just recently, the Israeli government endorsed the Nation-State Bill, which among many racist provisions, calls for the establishment of Jewish-only towns. This bill alone should be enough to settle the silly debate on whether Israel can be both a Jewish nation-state and a democracy.

    [… I]n Europe, Israel is actively pursuing alliances with far-right groups and parties as a state policy.

    […]

    Israel embodies the perfect balance of different realities, while ensuring law and order. It surely is a role model for security and anti-terrorism policies, [the (now) Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini] said during his [March 2016] trip.

    At the Karim Abu Salem crossing between Israel and Gaza, Salvini condemned the Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, while announcing the League’s readiness to be part of the government of Italy.

    To the north of Italy, the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party has also registered remarkable electoral success. And it, too, is establishing solid ties with Israel, despite its racist views.

    “{T}he party derided for anti-Semitic, xenophobic views redolent of the Nazis is also staunchly supportive of Israel,” reported the Times of Israel. “{It is} one of a number of right-wing populist parties in Europe that have tried to make common cause with Israel’s tough stance toward terror and self-styled position as a forward bulwark against Islamic extremism.”

    Last April, the anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic AfD, enthusiastically launched a campaign pushing for the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital […].

    [… T]he move that perhaps best illustrates where Israel is headed in its support for the far right in the West is its decision to arm the Azov battalion, a neo-Nazi paramilitary organisation in Ukraine.

    Human rights activists recently petitioned the High Court of Justice in Israel to stop the government from selling weapons to such groups after their appeal to the Israeli defence ministry produced no response.

    Indeed, Israel’s embrace of far-right movements is now the defining Israeli attitude towards European politics, in general.

    This Israeli strategy, of course, has its own logic. During his July 2017 visit to Budapest, Netanyahu met leaders from the so-called “Visegrad Group”, which includes Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

    There, he hoped to find new allies that he can use to exert pressure on the rest of the EU. In an audio recording obtained by Reuters, Netanyahu derided Old Europe for daring to criticise Israel’s dismal human rights record, illegal settlement policies and military occupation. I think Europe has to decide whether it wants to live and thrive or it wants to shrivel and disappear, he said.

    Netanyahu needs new ways to pressure Europe because pro-Palestinian policies and attitudes are slowly but steadily entering mainstream politics, as grassroots groups are becoming increasingly outraged by Israeli crimes against Palestinians.

    […]

    The Israeli government seems intent on weakening Europe by investing in existing divisions and offering political validation to groups that, until recently, were on the political fringes.

    It hopes that a divided Europe will be more easily controlled and coaxed back into Israel’s loyalty camp.

    […]

    I myself would add that, unlike in the States, there is no large-ish scale Israel is always right ! groups (either legitimate or sham). And as noted in the excerpted opinion column, there are visible groups / demonstrations supporting Palestinian peoples, and I think(not checked!) BDS has much more support in “Europe” than in the States. That is, the policy of infiltration and pressure (which includes both bribery and espionage) that sort-of “works” in the States hasn’t been working, at least of late, in “Europe”.

  16. blf says

    Trump keeps saying his father was born in Germany — he wasn’t:

    The ‘birther’ movement led [sic†] by Trump insisted Barack Obama was born in Kenya. It wasn’t true. Neither is it true that Trump’s own dad was born abroad
    […]
    In an interview recorded in Scotland, he said: Don’t forget both of my parents were born in EU sectors — my mother was Scotland, my father was Germany.

    […]

    Trump’s mother, Mary MacLeod, was indeed born in Scotland […]. But his father, Fred Trump, was born in New York City, in the United States of America. Not Germany.

    […]

    Fred Trump’s father, Friedrich Trump, was born in Germany […] but was kicked out for skipping military service. His son barely left New York. Until the 1980s, though, he pretended he was of Swedish ancestry, which he felt would be more palatable to many of his Jewish tenants.

    His son repeated the Swedish claim in his bestselling book, The Art of the Deal […]

      † Quibble — I’m not certain I’d say the birther nonsense was “led” by traitor don, only that he jumped on that broken cart and stayed inside as it keep going off cliffs, sometimes cliffs he suggested it go over. (This may be where he gets his liking for walls, to protect himself from repeatedly going over cliffs?)

  17. blf says

    Las Vegas shooting hotel sues survivors to avoid liability (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Mandalay Bay owners claim no liability of any kind to 1,000 survivors or families over October 2017 massacre […]

    MGM Resorts International has sued hundreds of victims of the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history in a bid to avoid liability for the gunfire that rained down from its Mandalay Bay casino-resort […].

    […]

    MGM says the 2002 law limits liabilities when a company or group uses services certified by the US Department of Homeland Security and mass attacks occur. The company says it is not liable because its security vendor for the concert, Contemporary Services Corporation, was federally certified at the time of the 1 October shooting.

    […]

    If defendants were injured by Paddock’s assault, as they allege, they were inevitably injured both because Paddock fired from his window and because they remained in the line of fire at the concert. Such claims inevitably implicate security at the concert — and may result in loss to CSC, according to the MGM lawsuits.

    I’m very very curious how someone is supposed to move out of the line of fire of a series of (almost-)machine guns they cannot see. Doubly so in the case of the initial victims, shot when nobody but the terrorist had any idea what was happening.

    […]
    Brian Claypool, an attorney who was at the music festival during the shooting, called the lawsuits a “hypocritical manoeuvre” that will turn into a “public relations nightmare for MGM”.

    “We collectively view this as a bullying tactic to intimidate the survivors who are rightfully seeking social change and redress through the litigation process,” said Claypool, who represents dozens of victims.

    […]

    Attorney Robert Eglet, who represents victims in a lawsuit pending in federal court in Nevada, decried the casino operator’s move, saying the company was filing complaints nationwide in search of a sympathetic judge. He told AP he had been flooded with calls from victims.

    “This is absolute gamesmanship. It’s outrageous. It’s just pouring gasoline on the fire of {the victims’} suffering,” Eglet said. “They are very distraught, very upset over this. MGM is trying to intimidate them.”

    I should point out that, despite the name, there is no affiliation with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios. A boycott, e.g., of MGM films would be hitting the wrong target. (They were affiliated at one time, but that ended in the late(?) 1980s.) MGM Resorts International has an extensive list of properties and genuine affiliates around the world, and those are what should be, e.g., boycotted in protest.

  18. says

    James Comey: “This Republican Congress has proven incapable of fulfilling the Founders’ design that ‘Ambition must … counteract ambition’. All who believe in this country’s values must vote for Democrats this fall. Policy differences don’t matter right now. History has its eyes on us.”

  19. blf says

    Spain to introduce ‘yes means yes’[] sexual consent law:

    […]
    Spain’s socialist government is to introduce a law on consent aimed at removing ambiguity in rape cases.

    Under the law, consent would have to be explicit. It states that “yes means yes” and anything else, including silence, means no. Sex without explicit consent would therefore be considered rape.

    The move follows outrage over the verdict in the la manada (wolf pack) case. The five men involved were accused of gang-raping an 18-year-old woman in Pamplona during the bull-running festival.

    Two of the men filmed the assault, during which the woman is silent and passive. The judges interpreted this as consent — one judge even commented that she appeared to be enjoying herself — and the charge was dropped from rape to the lesser crime of sexual assault.

    […]

    The law mirrors similar legislation that came into force in Sweden at the beginning of July.

    It’s unclear from the article to what extent the law clarifies consent can be withdrawn at any time.

      † I’m uncomfortable with the naming “yes means yes” as that can be construed in unintended ways; I’d be happier with “only a ‘yes’ means yes”.

  20. says

    It’s starting to feel like that movie trope where the beneficiaries of treachery nonetheless regard the betrayer as [] contemptible for being capable of such dishonor.”

    I remember reading a while back (I thought it was in the Steele memos but I looked and can’t find it there now; must have been in a news report) that some in the Kremlin thought they should drop the operation in August or September of 2016, because, like Strzok and millions of others, they couldn’t imagine that Trump could possibly continue or win after his attacks on the Khan family.

  21. blf says

    Hadley Freeman, snarking in the Grauniad, Was the Queen sending coded messages to Donald Trump via her brooches? Absolutely:

    On the first day of his visit, she wore a brooch given to her as a mark of friendship by the Obamas. By the end of the trip, it was Queen’s brooches 3, Trump 0

    What fashion lessons can we learn from Trump’s visit? […] Well, none from Trump himself, other than the obvious; when meeting the Queen, it is best not to wear a suit that looks as if you found it at the bottom of a dry-cleaning pile and, for the love of God, button the jacket, man. Look at the state of you.

    […]

    One person, however, who seems to have mastered how to handle Trump has been on top form over the past week. One who really knows how to get the better of him without even noticing. No, I am not speaking about Vladimir Putin, but, someone who may well be the greatest political mastermind of our age: our one and only Queen Elizabeth II.

    Casual royal observers such as myself barely noticed the Queen’s fashion choices during Trump’s visit, because we were too busy cringing at Trump’s behaviour around her. Whether you give a fig about the royals or not — and I come very much from the “no fig” end of the spectrum — watching Trump galumph around in front of her, get in her way and generally act as if she wasn’t even there was, just on a human level, throw-up-on-your-own-shoes nauseating. She’s a 92-year-old woman, show her some respect, you giant Oompa-Loompa! But, of course, expecting thoughtfulness from a man who, earlier this year, was photographed holding an umbrella over his own precious head, leaving his young son exposed to the elements, brings to mind words such as “blood” and “stone”.

    And the Queen, wisely, appeared to expect none either, because it turns out she was sending us all coded messages via the medium of her brooches. Yes, her brooches — read on and bow down in awe, James Bond. [… O]n the first day of the Trump visit, the Queen wore a simple green brooch that was given to her by the Obamas to signify their friendship. On the second day, she wore a brooch given to her by Canada, a country with which Trump is less than pleased at the moment (also, it was in the shape of a snowflake, a classic Trump term for people who disagree with him.) And, for the last day, she chose a brooch she wore to the funeral of her father, so not one associated with happiness and joy. Queen’s brooches: 3. Trump: 0.

    […]

    Well done, Ms Windsor !

    Some of the readers’s comments:

    ● “And notice the flying saucer shaped hat — ‘I’m dealing with a UFO here.’ Unspeakable, Fat Object.”

    ● “Then of course there is the official photograph [at the link –blf] which seems to have been taken in a cupboard full of bric-a-brac rather than one of the great state rooms. Nice one Queenie. […]”

    ● “It’s the wish-u-weren’t-here brooch.”

    ● “Not as daft as it sounds.
     I once listened to former Sec of State Madelaine Albright give an after dinner speech on her ‘pins’ explaining how she wore one showing a snake and apple after the Iraqi press called her ‘an unparalleled serpent’, and several featuring insects when she met the then Russian FM after Russia tried to ‘bug’ the state department.
     She even wrote a book about them, ‘Read My Pins: Stories from a Diplomat’s Jewel Box about her pins’.” [Several other readers have also pointed out Secretary Albright is noted for this sort of coded messaging (and yes, that book is real) –blf]

    ● “She wore blue — the colour of the Democrats!”
     ○ In reply: “And of the EU […]”

    ● “If you met Trump, and wanted to get a message through to him without it being eclipsed by his gargantuan ego, as an absolute minimum you need a hammer, some nails and a tin of tar — brooches aren’t really going to make the same impact.”

    ● “God bless Putinica the land of tge once free!
     Or as an eloquent American puts it, Trump speaks English like it’s his second language and he was taught it by someone that learnt it a week ago.”

    ● “The day-2 brooch was of course also in the style of the NATO logo, so doubling-down really.”

  22. says

    Dan Shapiro, former US ambassador to Israel:

    1. IMPORTANT: Among the many outrages in Helsinki, Trump appears to have bought (or been suckered) into providing fuel to Putin’s animus for former US Ambassador to Russia Mike @McFaul. The Administration needs to kill this outrageous proposal before it gets any legs.

    2. Trump cited Putin’s “interesting idea” and “incredible offer” regarding the Mueller investigation. Russia would allow Mueller’s investigators to come to Russia to question the 12 operatives indicted in connection with interference in the US election. But there was a catch.

    3. Putin conditioned the offer on Russia being able to send investigators to question those involved in alleged crimes involving Russia. He singled out Bill Browder &referenced a mysterious alleged plot he and “associates” were involved with to launder money to HRC’s campaign.

    4. My 11-year old knows the offer is ludicrous and unacceptable. Russia will provide nothing on the 12 operatives, use any visit to gather intel on the investigation, & try to elevate garbage charges against Putin’s opponents to the level of Mueller’s well-documented allegations.

    5. Trump didn’t get it. Or did. But it gets worse. Russian media reported that one of the targets of the probe suggested by Putin is none other than @McFaul. Putin has always hated McFaul, who he viewed, erroneously, as trying to engineer a revolution & ensure Putin’s overthrow.

    6. Under no circumstances can the US government permit, or even contemplate, making those who have served the US government faithfully available to the spurious “investigations” of our adversaries. They owe it to past, current, and future US officials to uphold that principle.

    7. The WH & @SecPompeo need to shut this down now. Immediately. They need to make clear that there will be no cooperation with Putin’s transparent intel op disguised as mutual aid to parallel investigations & no exposing @McFaul or other USG officials to Russian questioning.

    8. This issue could not be more serious. Putin’s political opponents often wind up dead. The idea of a former US officials being questioned, arrested, or, God forbid, harmed by Russia needs to be rejected forcefully by the Administration. Today. END

  23. lumipuna says

    There’s been some discussion on the case of Sam Husseini, a reporter for The Nation, who was removed from the infamous press conference here in Helsinki on Monday. He’s presenting it as a press freedom issue, which would throw some shade on Finland’s recent bragging with its top-level press freedom.

    https://twitter.com/samhusseini
    https://www.thenation.com/article/came-journalist-ask-important-questions/
    (video of the incident)
    https://yle.fi/uutiset/3-10309156

    Based on various accounts, it seems like he was attempting mild protesting/heckling behavior to draw attention to his plea for nuclear disarmament. Meanwhile, the Finnish security was intent on shutting down anything that might embarrass or inconvenience the guests, aside from actual security threats. There may have been some misunderstanding on what exactly constitutes “protest” or “placard”, both of which were explicitly banned at the conference.

    Many journalists have tweeted the incident but most seem to not be very sympathetic, of which Husseini complains about. I also think it was quite appropriate to remove him. What’s more troubling is that the police detained him overnight, as if on criminal suspicion, instead of just expelling him from the secure area, and didn’t inform his contacts. Someone lobbied him out by midnight, six hours after arrest. There’s no charge and the local police or other authorities haven’t issued a comment.

    Husseini also claims he was roughandled and eventually cuffed on his way to the police jail, in response to what he claims was just shouting in protest. Then again, the video shows him wriggling from beginning of the incident, so it’s possible there was a case for him resisting arrest.

    As he notes, this overreaction shouldn’t be blamed on “Russian thugs”, as some have done, but on Helsinki police and maybe Finnish security agents. As far as press freedom goes, Finnish national broadcaster posted a fairly accurate translation of his own early account, while the Russian MFA Sergei Lavrov seems to have mocked him publicly.

  24. blf says

    Some excerpts from ‘Nothing short of treason’: US voters on the Trump-Putin summit (refomatted slightly (mostly unmarked); Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    We asked US voters to tell us how they viewed Monday’s meeting between President [sic] Trump and President Putin. Hundreds got in touch to share their views.

    Many voiced their concerns about Trump’s undermining of the FBI and the US intelligence services […]. Others reacted more positively to the meeting […]

    […]

    ● It’s very important to have a good relationship with Russia because they they are a Christian nation […]: I think it was a great job on Trump’s part. The fear-mongering on Russia has reached a ridiculous level in the US and would not be possible if the American public were more educated and aware when it came to history, world events and foreign policy. We meddle in elections, too, and have actually overthrown many governments outright. The only reason to vilify Russia is to energize the military-industrial complex and for impractical liberal and pro-LGBT ideology that most Americans don’t buy into. It’s very important to have a good relationship with Russia because they they are a Christian nation and can serve as a counterweight to the nihilist secularism in the west.

    […]

    ● Trump is trying to work with this adversary for the better good of our country […]: I think the mass hysteria is laughable. He {Trump} has his reasons for not publicly calling out Putin. He is trying to work with this adversary for the better good of our country. He always puts our country first. He is not a seasoned politician so he doesn’t always state things in the right way. My question would be where are his communication team? They could have conveyed how he could state his case maybe in a better way. Maybe he just doesn’t listen to them? He has been tougher on Russia then any other president, especially Obama. Look at his actions not his words. It is very important that Trump has a good relationship with Russia. Same with Kim Jong-un. It is false outrage on the left. They just do not want him to succeed.

    […]

    ● “The urgent priority is to guarantee that Russian efforts to disrupt democratic institutions all over the world be thwarted” […]: “It is important that the relationship between Russia and America be good enough to prevent the outbreak of nuclear war. How much better it can be beyond that is hard to say because the next most urgent priority is to guarantee that Russian efforts to disrupt democratic institutions all over the world be thwarted. The real problem is that the Republican party, in its entirety, was hijacked in 2016 by right-wing extremists of the most vile kind, and the American constitutional system of government is now in more danger than it has been since the outbreak of the Civil War. Looking at the situation more philosophically, Marx got it wrong and Karl Polanyi got it right. When the middle class gets squeezed and the lower class gets exploited by gratuitous excesses of laissez-faire capitalism, they are far less likely to stage a socialist revolution than to turn to a fascist demagogue like Trump or Putin.”

    […]

    ● “It is concerning that the din of condemnation for Mr. Trump and his comments on the world stage is not deafening” […]: “[…] Some Congressional Republicans have criticized Trump; some have merely said that Russia is not an ally; others are silent. The end result is a mix of exasperation that Mr Trump is as inept as I had believed, of abject disappointment that one half of Congress will give him free reign, and of anger that this type of performance is not only tolerable but even allowed to have progressed to this level of blatant disrespect for American institutions.”

  25. says

    There’s a link to the prosecution’s motion for pretrial detention of Butina here.

    It’s pretty blunt about her relationships with US people (a WaPo report has suggested she was “romantically” involved with Person 1, believed to be Erickson):

    “Butina’s closest tie to the United States is the individual identified as U.S. Person 1 in the Indictment, but she appears to treat that relationship as simply a necessary aspect of her activities.”

    “All of Butina’s known personal ties, save for those U.S. persons she attempted to exploit and influence, reside in the Russian Federation.”

  26. says

    From the motion: “In addition to her ties to the Russian government, there is evidence that Butina is well-connected to wealthy businessmen in the Russian oligarchy. Her Twitter messages, chat logs, and emails refer to a known Russian businessman with deep ties to the Russian Presidential Administration. This person often travels to the United States and has also been referred to as her ‘funder’ throughout her correspondence; he was listed in Forbes as having a real-time net worth of $1.2 billion as of 2018.”

  27. says

    The FBI has discovered text messages and emails between U.S. Person 1 and Butina in which Butina would routinely ask U.S. Person 1 to help complete her academic assignments, by editing papers and answering exam questions.”

    “During the course of this investigation, the FBI has determined that Butina gained access through U.S. Person 1 to an extensive network of U.S. persons in positions to influence political activities in the United States. Butina, age 29, and U.S. Person 1, age 56, are believed to have cohabitated and been involved in a personal relationship during the course of Butina’s activities in the United States. But this relationship does not represent a strong tie to the United States because
    Butina appears to treat it as simply a necessary aspect of her activities. For example, on at least one occasion, Butina offered an individual other than U.S. Person 1 sex in exchange for a position within a special interest organization. Further, in papers seized by the FBI, Butina complained about living with U.S. Person 1 and expressed disdain for continuing to cohabitate with U.S. Person 1.”

  28. says

    So Butina’s funder would appear to be one of these people:
    Elena Baturina
    Gleb Fetisov
    Sergei Kolesnikov
    Ziyavudin Magomedov
    Andrei Molchanov
    Boris Rotenberg
    Igor Rybakov
    Airat Shaimiev
    Radik Shaimiev
    Mikhail Shelkov
    Leonid Simanovsky
    Vadim Yakunin

  29. blf says

    EPA proposal to limit role of science in decision-making met with alarm:

    […]
    Democratic lawmakers joined scientists, health and environmental officials and activists on Tuesday in denouncing a proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), backed by industry, that could limit dramatically what kind of science the agency considers when making regulations.

    One lawmaker called the Trump administration proposal a “thinly veiled campaign to limit research” that “supports critical regulatory action”.

    The rule was introduced by the agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt, before his resignation […]. Tuesday’s public hearing drew opponents and a much smaller number of industry and trade groups backing it.

    If adopted, the rule would allow an EPA administrator to reject study results in making decisions about pollutants and other health risks if the underlying research data is not made public because of patient privacy concerns.

    Joseph Stanko, a representative of a coalition of groups and companies ranged against what it says are increasingly stringent air-pollution regulations, said the Pruitt rule enables the public to more meaningfully comment on the science.

    Opponents said the move would throw out the kind of public health studies that underlie enforcement of the Clean Air Act and other landmark controls, because such studies drew on confidential health data from thousands of individuals.

    […]

    Suzanne Bonamici, an Oregon Democrat, said the EPA proposal was similar to years of transparency legislation Congress had repeatedly rejected, and called it “an administrative attempt to circumvent the legislative process”.

    New York state officials and representatives of public and private universities also spoke against the proposal. Critics including former EPA administrators and scientists said the policy shift was designed to restrict the agency from citing peer-reviewed public health studies that use patient medical records that must be kept confidential under patient privacy laws.

    […]

    The proposal is open for public comment until mid-August, before any final EPA and White House review.

  30. blf says

    There’s a intriguing painting which has just gone on display in the Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas, Austin, “The City” by Vincent Valdez:

    The most impressive achievement of Valdez’s The City, aside from its purely painterly aspects, is the creation of the field of anxiety and fear that emanates from the painting and envelops the viewer. This is set within the context of contemporary America. The artist uses perhaps the most recognizable symbol of terror in the American lexicon — the Ku Klux Klan — as the organizing image of the series of panels, but that is only the beginning. In fact, the shock value of a line of Klan members hidden behind their robes recedes and becomes integrated with a collection of references to modern consumer society: the late-model pickup truck, the urban sprawl of lights in the distance, the branded items such as the cellphone and baby shoes, as well as the fifth panel of urban disarray and waste. This is definitely not Reconstruction or the 1920s. Even more powerful to me is the choice to bathe the image in monochromatic tones, which, rather than soothing the viewer as they might in another context, reflect the gray sense of fear that so many feel across the population.

    This leads me to another point that underlines the subtlety of Valdez’s work: The Klan members, aside from the striking, evil presence of one eye of the apparent leader, seem as scared as they would make the viewer of the picture. The City can be considered a history painting, but it seems to me that its power is in extending a set of emotions created by the iconography of the Klan to a much more contemporary setting. Through the face-to-face confrontation with Klan members we are forced to face their fears and our own, face them as hidden but clearly frightened human beings, caught in the gray anxiety of the hour and surrounded by the goods and decay that surround us.

    Where are we in this picture? The genius of Valdez’s approach is that we are indispensable to it; we are obliged to confront the atmosphere of the historical Klan as well as the contemporary Klan and arguably even more dangerous “white supremacist” militias. It is not surprising that a Latino artist might be compelled to raise this issue, one that is especially relevant to Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans, and Jews as the most common targets of hate groups like the KKK. The power of the painting, however, is that it also draws us into the picture as participants in a society that continues to breed fear, animosity, and violence. “We” may not be “them,” but are part of their universe in this painting.

    The above is the Professor of History and American Studies, Robert H Abzug (Audre and Bernard Rapoport Regents Chair of Jewish Studies) take on the painting, from Vincent Valdez: The City (4. Faculty and Community Perspectives). Or as Professor of Art & Art History Eddie Chambers puts it (same link as previous excerpt):

    [… W]e seem to be presented with an assortment of hooded Klanspeople (the non-gendered plural noun is important, as the painting depicts Klanswomen and a Klan child, alongside the perhaps more historically familiar Klansmen). Valdez ensures that these hooded menaces are every bit as unsettling and disturbing to us as any of the more historical depictions of these personifications of American terror. Lest we be inclined to view the group portrait as something from previous, supposedly less enlightened times, Valdez ensures that we read the group as very much part of the here and now, by including, towards the center of the painting, a hooded menace tapping away at his smartphone, the light from the device reflecting in a ghostly, otherworldly way. We will each read the poses and activities of this motley assortment in different ways, but we will likely be struck by the symbolism of the smartphone, evoking as it does the use of social media in the contemporary age to further disseminate racist bile, oftentimes behind a cloak of anonymity.

    Originally spotted at the Grauniad, How a painting of the Ku Klux Klan is causing a stir in Texas:

    […]
    “When myself and our two curators went to go see the painting, we were struck not just by the exceptional painterly quality and artistic integrity of the work, but also the power of it and the opportunity for dialogue,” says [museum director Simone] Wicha, who invited campus faculty and student leadership to see the piece before it was exhibited publicly. “As a university art museum, we are a key resource for the community and often the school district. So it was important to foster a positive dialogue so that we’re learning, as opposed to creating an environment that is more controversial.”

    In so doing, Wicha arranged for a number of resources to augment the piece. First, its own website, where readers can find analysis of the painting by the Anti-Defamation League’s regional director and faculty from UT’s Department of African and African Diaspora Studies. There’s also a disclaimer in the gallery, warning that the piece “may elicit strong emotions”, and a comment box where visitors can share their thoughts. The opening will be followed by a series of talks and symposia addressing the painting and representations of race in art more broadly. It’s important, says Wicha, “to be clear that the intention is anti-racist”.

    […]

    Though many of its participants were dressed in army fatigues and cargo pants rather than white robes, the painting calls to mind last summer’s rally in Charlottesville, where white separatists, neo-Nazis and klansmen clashed violently with counter-protesters, killing one. “It was eery in the sense that I started this piece with the intention of bringing light to something that hadn’t yet been spoken,” says Valdez. “But reflecting on the painting in 2018 only proves what I was trying to say: that these hoods, and the various disguises that have mutated themselves over the past few centuries, are more exposed by the day.”

    […]

    Mr Valdez started on the work about the time traitor don announced his intention to run: “Valdez was not documenting the American electorate’s embrace of white nationalism in real time, though the painting’s timing was certainly uncanny.”

  31. says

    From the New York Times:

    One intelligence official summed up what appeared to be the consensus view, saying that it was clear whose side Mr. Trump was on, and “it isn’t ours.”

    From Steve Benen, writing for The Maddow Blog:

    […] Axios spoke to one of Trump’s own former National Security Council officials who described the situation as “a total [effing] disgrace,” adding, “The president has lost his mind.”

    Well then.

    The road that brought us to this point is long. As regular readers may recall, Candidate Trump was rather explicit in saying he wasn’t prepared to trust information he receives from American intelligence officials. He maintained this posture for months, at times even mocking agencies.

    At one point, the Washington Post’s Michael Gerson, a former George W. Bush speechwriter, described Trump’s criticisms of the intelligence community as “an insanely dangerous antic that materially undermines American security.” Michael Hayden, a former director of the NSA and CIA, wrote a related piece soon after, raising practical concerns about the deteriorating relationship between the Trump and U.S. intelligence professionals.

    That was in December 2016 – the month before Trump even took office.

    Nineteen months later, the president stood on foreign soil and suggested he has greater confidence in Vladimir Putin’s denials than the judgment of American intelligence agencies.

    No good can come of this.

  32. says

    The Trump White House seems to be issuing altered transcripts:

    […] Reuters reporter Jeff Mason asked, “President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?” There was an audio issue at the time, it’s not clear that the Russian leader heard the second part of the question. That said, he replied, “Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.”

    In context, Putin seemed to be responding directly to the first part of the question, about his political preference.

    But Uri Friedman had an interesting piece in The Atlantic yesterday, noting that the official White House transcript presented the exchange in a way that paints a misleading picture.

    If you watch the White House live-stream of the press conference or look at the transcript published by the White House, the first half of Mason’s question is not there. Without it, the meaning of the exchange is substantially different. […]

    The discrepancies in the accounts of what was said also underscore the extent to which the Trump presidency has challenged a common understanding of reality. Even if the omission was accidental, it appears suspicious at a moment marked by the president’s repeated claims that legitimate news reports are “fake.”

    To appreciate the nuances to this, take a look at the full piece in The Atlantic, which goes into detail. The way the White House transcript reads, when Putin said, “Yes, I did,” he seemed to be adding thoughts to an answer from moments earlier about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. But he wasn’t — the Russian president’s answer was about him favoring Trump in the 2016 race. […]

    Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum had a good piece a while back, explaining, “Transcripts are not supposed to be ‘revised’ after the fact. Official White House transcripts record exactly what the person said, regardless of ‘what they meant to say.’” […]

    Link

  33. blf says

    Traitor don is even killing lobsters ! Yesterday at the market I bought a live lobster. Today, when I took it out of cold storage, it was very inert. Some poking and prodding, and eventually cutting it in half, confirmed it was dead, and had been dead for some time. The problem with dead lobsters is their “liver” releases toxins which are not necessarily destroyed by cooking. How long a lobster can be dead and remain safe to cook and eat I don’t know (a few hours ?), but this one seemed past that point. Damn. Fortunately, I discovered the disaster early in the evening, so I’ll just wander out to a restaurant… muttering dark thoughts at a collapsing world, dead lobsters, and teh proximate cause of it all, the cooked-lobster-coloured eejit in Wacko House with his lobster-murdering dalekocracy of henchfiends.

  34. says

    Dark money goes even darker:

    Russian asset Donald Trump’s Treasury Department has issued a new ruling that would protect the identity of donors to some tax-exempt organizations like […] the National Rifle Association. Yeah, the NRA that is increasingly proving to be another Russian asset helping Republicans win political power.

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended the move, saying “Americans shouldn’t be required to send the IRS information that it doesn’t need to effectively enforce our tax laws, and the IRS simply does not need tax returns with donor names and addresses to do its job in this area.” He also said that it won’t make any difference in transparency, that the “same information about tax-exempt organizations that was previously available to the public will continue to be available, while private taxpayer information will be better protected.”

    However, it also means that wealthy donors of dark money contributions to politically active groups—again, like the NRA—will have one more shield from exposure. Those organizations don’t have to disclose contributions to the FEC and now they can keep them secret from the IRS, too. However, and this pretty much exposes just how politically motivated this decision is, traditional charity groups still have to disclose donors. It’s just the politically oriented groups that can keep donors secret. […]

    Link

  35. says

    DHS advisory council members quit over ‘morally repugnant’ family separation policy:

    Members of a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) advisory council that conducts recommendations on policy have quit over the Trump administration’s barbaric “zero tolerance” policy, writing in a letter to DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that if they had been consulted over the policy in the first place, “we would have observed that routinely taking children from migrant parents was morally repugnant, counter-productive and ill-considered.”

    […] as many as 3,000 migrant children being kidnapped from parents at the border. The four members—including former secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig and former director of the National Counterterrorism Center Matthew Olsen—write that ”we cannot tolerate association with the immigration policies of this administration, nor the illusion that we are consulted on these matters.”

    Two other resigning members, former Democratic Congress member Elizabeth Holtzman and former DHS deputy general counsel David Martin, also sent separate letters condemning further hateful and racist actions and proposals from the administration, including the Muslim bans, the stupid border wall, and the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which has left hundreds of thousands of young immigrants in limbo.

    “DHS has been transformed into an agency that is making war on immigrants and refugees,” Holtzman wrote to Nielsen. “These actions,” Martin said, “have fueled polarization, alienated state and local governments, and moved us much further from a sustainable, effective, and strategically sensible immigration enforcement program.” […]

    Link

  36. says

    Senators detail how Russian hackers targeted American military families

    “The first public evidence that influence operations have specifically targeted American military families.”

    […] The letter, addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, comes from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO). Sent last week, it details how Russian hackers posed as Islamic extremists — and targeted American military families in the process.

    And according to one of the military spouses targeted by the hackers, the U.S. government has done nothing about it. […]

    As Wyden and Gardner wrote:

    We write to express our concerns about reports that Russian intelligence services posing as Islamic extremists threatened and harassed U.S. military families. We urge you to investigate this potential false flag operation and to hold any perpetrators accountable.

    The letter pivots off of a May report from the Associated Press, which itself detailed how Russian hackers from the GRU, Moscow’s foreign military intelligence agency, posed as members of the so-called “Cyber Caliphate,” claiming to be affiliated with ISIS. The report highlighted how these Russian hackers in February 2015 sent a series of chilling Facebook messages to the spouses of those serving in the American military. […]

    The senders claimed to be from the “Cyber Caliphate,” an online organization that also took credit for hacking the Twitter and YouTube accounts of U.S. Central Command in 2015. One of the first tweets sent from the hacked Twitter account read: “AMERICAN SOLDIERS, WE ARE COMING, WATCH YOUR BACK. ISIS.” The “Cyber Caliphate” also claimed to have released a trove of classified U.S. Army documents, though, as BuzzFeed noted, “many of those files were available online and were not confidential.” […]

    But now, it appears the “Cyber Caliphate” never actually had anything to do with ISIS. As the AP wrote in May, the “repeated overlap” between the “Cyber Caliphate” operations and those of APT28 — the GRU unit accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee — shows that the military families were actually being targeted by members of Russia’s foreign military intelligence, not Islamist extremists. […]

  37. says

    Trump should appreciate this tactic, which is straight out of his playbook: Iran is suing the U.S.

    Iran has resorted to one of the few legal mechanisms at its disposal to call the United States to the mat: It filed a lawsuit before the International Court of Justice, alleging President Donald Trump’s May decision to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal and impose sanctions is a violation of a 1955 treaty between the two countries. […]

    From Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif :

    Today Iran filed a complaint @CIJ_ICJ to hold US accountable for its unlawful re-imposition of unilateral sanctions. Iran is committed to the rule of law in the face of US contempt for diplomacy & legal obligations. It’s imperative to counter its habit of violating int’l law.

    A few details:

    […] In its claim, Iran cites several provisions of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights, including Article IV, the first part of which holds that:

    “Each High Contracting Party shall at all times accord fair and equitable treatment to nationals and companies of the other High Contracting Party, and to their property and enterprises; shall refrain from applying unreasonable or discriminatory measures that would impair their legally acquired rights and interests; and shall assure that their lawful contractual rights are afforded effective means of enforcement, in conformity with the applicable laws.

    As a post on Lawfare points out, “The ICJ accepted jurisdiction based on this provision once before…It may well do so again.” […]

    I agree that Trump should be called before the International Court of Justice.

  38. says

    Trump’s Consumer Watchdog Nominee Refuses to Say if She Helped Plan Family Separations

    Trump’s nominee to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has no background in consumer finance or banking.

    Par for the course. All the best people.

    But in her role at the White House Office of Management and Budget, Kathy Kraninger oversaw the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice—two federal agencies that have recently come under fire for implementing the administration’s policy of separating families at the border. […]

    Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)—the committee’s ranking Democrat—sent a letter to Kraninger demanding she provide documentation and explain any part she played in the administration’s “cruel” policy of taking children away from their parents following arrival at the border. “The American people deserve to know what role you have played in developing and implementing this appalling process,” the senators wrote. Sen. Warren vowed to hold up Kraninger’s nomination if they didn’t get answers.

    […] all twelve Democratic members of the Senate Banking Committee sent a letter to chairman Mike Crapo (R-Id.) asking him to push the Trump administration to respond to their outstanding record requests before Thursday’s hearing—and if it doesn’t, to postpone the meeting until the information is provided. Without the documents, the senators wrote, “we will not be able to conduct the kind of oversight and questioning that allows the Senate to perform its constitutional role of providing advice and consent.” […]

  39. says

    Don Jr. and Eric Trump racked up nearly $250,000 in Secret Service costs in one month

    […] The president’s sons traveled overseas for Trump family business on two trips that cost the Secret Service nearly $250,000. Taxpayers footed the bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars in hotels, airfare and other costs for Secret Service protection, according to documents obtained by nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. […]

    In February 2017, Eric and Donald Trump Jr. traveled to Dubai together to open a golf club under the Trump brand. The trip cost the Secret Service $200,000, CREW says. According to the spending documents, the agency paid $125,000 for airfare, $75,000 for hotel rooms and $15,000 for miscellaneous expenses including cell phones and car service.

    “The business trip cost taxpayers significantly more than the $73,000 in Secret Service cost for a 2018 trip to Dubai for the Trump sons to attend the wedding of the daughter of a business partner,” CREW said. […]

  40. says

    Schumer responded to Trump’s attempts to walk back his apparent agreement, (during the Helsinki press conference), with Putin that Russia did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. election:

    Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) blasted President Trump’s attempt to clarify his Helsinki comments, adding that he was already “walking back the walk back.”

    “President Trump’s walk back performance was pathetic,” Schumer said. “It was weak, insecure and thoroughly unconvincing. The president read a scripted clarification yesterday like he was in a hostage situation. All you had to do was look at his face.”

    On Tuesday, Trump said he had “full faith in our intelligence agencies” and that Russia was responsible for election meddling in the United States in 2016. But he then added: “Could be other people also. There’s a lot of people out there.”

    Trump touted his Monday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, saying in a series of tweets Wednesday that they discussed “many important subjects,” and that the summit could be an “even greater success” than last week’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit.

    Schumer pointed to Trump’s tweets saying they “were walking back the walk back.”

    “It’s clear from today’s tweets that he doesn’t mean it, that he doesn’t believe it and frankly neither does anybody else,” he said, referring to Trump’s comments that he supports the intelligence community’s findings. […]

    When asked by reporters Wednesday if Russia still poses a threat to the U.S., Trump said no.

    Schumer, in a tweet, quipped: “Mr. President. Walk this back too.”

    Link

    During the first attempt at a walk back, Trump was truly pathetic. He failed to properly the read the text in front of him. He repeatedly stumbled, misread the text, and then added comments that negated his supposed agreement with U.S. intelligence agencies. And he looked like a petulant child reading text provided by his parents.

    Trump is usually unnervingly good at selling a lie, but he fails miserably when he has to walk back his own mistakes. Especially mistakes that threaten U.S. national security, mistakes that make Trump look like a bumbling, subservient dolt.

  41. says

    Denaturalization, explained: how Trump can strip immigrants of their citizenship:

    […] the Trump administration announced [an] initiative targeting naturalized citizens: a “denaturalization task force.” In June, US Citizenship and Immigration Services Director L. Francis Cissna announced that he was launching a team of investigators to complete the work of “Operation Janus,” […]

    The administration’s denaturalization push is working on two levels. As a policy matter, it’s relatively aggressive but not unprecedented — and constrained by law from getting too arbitrary. But for many immigrants, those legal constraints provide little comfort. The sense of vulnerability and fear the administration has been able to inspire among immigrants tends to ripple far beyond those who are directly in its sights, and this is no exception.

    “The creation of the task force itself is undoing the naturalization of the more than twenty million naturalized citizens in the American population by taking away their assumption of permanence,” wrote author Masha Gessen in a widely circulated New Yorker column. “All of them — all of us — are second-class citizens now.”

    Coming from an administration that often conflates being foreign-born with being foreign — and that is often accused of putting forth a vision of white Americans as “real” Americans and everyone else as suspect — an effort to strip people of the armor of citizenship can’t help but feel, to some, like more proof that the Trump administration is truly motivated by an atavistic, racist vision of “America,” and a desire to restrict the legal equality guaranteed by citizenship to “real” Americans. […]

    Link

    Personal stories of some immigrants facing denaturalization proceedings are available at the link. Historical context is also provided in the article at the link.

  42. Akira MacKenzie says

    One has to wonder how soon Trump will look into stripping native-born citizens of their citizenship?

  43. says

    Not a good sign: Poll: only 28 percent of young voters say they will certainly vote in the 2018 midterms.

    Democrats are winning over younger voters by huge numbers, but as a highly contentious voter turnout-dependent midterm election inches closer, there’s a serious question whether these young Democrats will come to the polls.

    A recently released poll from Public Religion Research Institute and the Atlantic conducted in June showed only 28 percent of young adults, ages 18 to 34, say they are “absolutely certain” they’ll vote in midterms, compared to 74 percent of seniors.

    […] this is only one poll. There are other surveys with varied results; a recent poll conducted by the Associated Press and University of Chicago’s NORC found that 32 percent of young voters would certainly vote, and 56 percent were likely to. Another poll by Cosmopolitan magazine and Survey Monkey found that 48 percent of young voters were “absolutely certain” they’d vote in the midterms.

    And it’s actually a big improvement for Democrats compared to past midterms. In the 2014 midterms, when Democrats lost control of the Senate, only 13 percent of young voters participated, according to the census.

    But the takeaway is still serious: While Democratic voters are more enthusiastic to vote in the 2018 midterms than in past off-year election cycles — and recent polls show they’re more eager to get out to the polls than Republicans — young voter turn out could make the difference in 2018. […]

    Link

  44. says

    Akira @61: especially if they are brown or black?

    In other news, here are a few more responses to Trump’s attempt to walk back statements he made in Helsinki:

    I would say that I completely believe President Trump misspoke and that he has full faith and confidence in the members of our intelligence community and understands that Putin and Russia were fully responsible for intervening in our election.

    Sorry. I meant wouldn’t. [from Adam Schiff]
    ——————–
    A man who unironically calls himself a “very stable genius” claims it took him 30 hours to realize he said “would” instead of “wouldn’t” [from Robert Maguire]
    —————–
    DON’T MAKE AMERICA NOT GREAT AGAIN
    —————-
    “I meant to say ‘how much wood WOULDN’T a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck COULDN’T chuck wood.’ Could be other woodchucks also.” [From James Robert Carroll]
    ————–
    So did Kim Jong-Un say he #would or #wouldnt denuclearize? [From Cory Furlong]

  45. says

    Trump’s asinine tweets from 3:53 AM and 5:37 AM today:

    So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki. Putin and I discussed many important subjects at our earlier meeting. We got along well which truly bothered many haters who wanted to see a boxing match. Big results will come!

    Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome!

    Trump simplified the choice to: war … or work with Putin.

    Oversimplification coupled with fear mongering.

    […] Dialogue with Putin isn’t a bad thing — but not pressing Putin on areas where he’s hostile to US interests and on his penchant for election meddling is. Diplomacy isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition — and getting along with an adversary for the sake of getting along isn’t exactly a foreign policy position. That’s what Trump’s critics are pushing back on.

    What’s more, Trump’s elevation of Putin — as a world leader on par with that of the US — is exactly what the Russian strongman wanted. It’s not winning war, exactly, but it’s a victory for Putin nonetheless.

    Link

  46. says

    Good for him – when Sanders tried to move on to another reporter rather than answering Hallie Jackson’s second question, the reporter she was trying to move on to asked Jackson if she wanted to finish her question, which she did, and it was good: “You said Trump had been publicly critical of Putin – could you say when? Because I can’t recall it.” All Sanders could cough up was that saying Putin had meddled in the election was a pretty bold criticism.

    She’s so awful – bad at her job, rude, dishonest, a disgrace to the position she occupies.

  47. says

    From Wonkette:

    This week has been fun, yes? Donald Trump made completely platonic non-romantic man love to Vladimir Putin on Monday and absolved him of all responsibility for hacking the 2016 election, and then he “walked it back” Tuesday by saying he guesses Russia did some hacking in 2016 (BUT IT COULDA BEEN OTHER PEOPLE TOO).

    Earlier today, reporters were talking to Trump, and somebody asked him if Russia was still attacking us with hacking. His answer? “No.” To which everyone replied “FUCK YOU, ANTI-AMERICAN TRAITOR!”

    Now, to be fair, there was a lot of cross-talk, and it’s possible his “no” was meant in response to another question. […]

    Or maybe, much like his “walk-back” yesterday, what he really meant to say was not “no” but “yes,” and when he goes back and reviews the one-word transcript of that answer he will realize where it all went wrong and WALK IT BACK.

    If he meant it, though, that is yet another “fuck you” to his own DNI, Dan Coats, who just said on Friday that the lights are literally currently “blinking red” on Russian interference not just with the mid-terms, but with our entire democracy. After Trump’s abhorrent performance on Monday, Coats sent another statement, just saying that America really shouldn’t listen to President Shit-Grundle on this issue, because DID DAN COATS FUCKING STUTTER BEFORE? […]

    From Wonkette’s liveblog of Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ press briefing today:

    Regarding Trump saying “no” about Russian election interference, SHS says he was saying “no” to answering more questions, not about Russian election inteference.

    She also says the Trump administration is working hard to stop Russian hacking, UNLIKE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATIONS.

    This is a total fucking lie.

    2:45: SHS just read off a prepared list of things the Trump administration is “doing” to prevent Russian election hacking. We believe her not one bit. ZERO BITS.

    2:46: REPORTER: Oh hey, what about that Russian spy that’s in jail right now, for infiltrating the GOP by infiltrating the NRA?

    SHS: […] WHY ARE YOU RACIST AGAINST RUSSIAN SPY REDHEADS?

    2:50: SHS yet again says the Trump administration is going to protect elections LIKE OBAMA DIDN’T.

    2:52: OH HEY, Sanders, what the fuck did Trump and Putin talk about during their little date?

    ALL OF THE ISSUES, KATIE!

    2:55: Why is Trump scared to say mean words to Vladimir Putin?

    SHS: HE IS ALWAYS SO MEAN TO RUSSIA, WE CALL THEM OUT, WE ARE TOUGH!

    Also, he is trying a “new approach” with Russia, which is lying on his back and wagging his tail and begging for belly scratches every time Vladimir Putin walks in the room.

    DO NOT QUESTION HIS STABLE GENIUS!

    2:57: A reporter is asking why Trump is so fucking stupid that he thinks Vladimir Putin offering to “help” Robert Mueller’s investigation is an “incredible offer.” SHS completely punts on it, because we guess even she doesn’t have the energy to make up a lie on that one today.

    2:58: REPORTER: When Trump tries to deflect attention from Russia by saying “others” also hack, is he saying that based on intelligence, or is that just a thing that comes out of his ass-mouth involuntarily?

    SHUCKABEE: Puuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuunt!

    2:59: SHS: “The president has credibility!”

    Hahahahahahaha […]

    Moving on!

    REPORTER: Say a time Trump was anything but adoring toward Putin! SAY ONE!

    SHS: Words that are lies.

  48. says

    Re #65 – Jackson says it was Jordan Fabian from the Hill. She just thanked him on air.

    I hope they start doing more of this. Solidarity is especially important right now.

  49. Akira MacKenzie says

    Lynna @ 63

    Brown, black. LGBTQ, atheist, registered Democrat, or anyone else who displeases Il Douche.

  50. says

    .@maggieNYT asks @WHPressSec abt Russia’s call to intv @Billbrowder & @McFaul: ‘Pres will meet w/ his team & we’ll let you know when we have an announcement on that front’. Acknowledges the topic was discussed privately bween Trump & Putin.”

    This is very dangerous.

    Update!: Heather Nauert from the State Department was just asked about it. Said Russian claims about the plan and their allegations about these individuals are “absurd.”

  51. says

    In previous years, the State Department issued a statement on the anniversary of the shooting down of MH17. This year, not.

    “State Department Silent on MH17 Anniversary Following Trump-Putin Firestorm”:

    Every year since a Russian missile downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 passengers and crew, the U.S. State Department has issued a statement to mark the anniversary.

    But on the anniversary this year—a day after U.S. President Donald Trump met in Helsinki with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin—the State Department was conspicuously silent about it.

    Officials there prepared a draft statement that was sharply critical of Russia for its alleged role in the attack. But for reasons the State Department has not explained, it was never issued.

    “Four years after the downing of MH17, the world still awaits Russia’s acknowledgement of its role,” read the draft, a copy of which was obtained by Foreign Policy.

    “It is time for Russia to cease its callous disinformation campaign and fully support the next investigative phase … and the criminal prosecution of those responsible for the downing of flight MH17.”

    This anniversary was particularly significant because it was the first since the Dutch-led international investigation into the incident published its conclusion that the missile originated from a Russian military unit based near the border with Ukraine.

    Foreign ministers of the G-7 group—including the U.S. secretary of state—released a statement on Sunday criticizing the attack and Russia’s role in it. The Canadian and British Foreign ministries promptly posted it on their websites. But the State Department did so only on Wednesday, after being asked about the issue by FP.

    The statement posted Wednesday appeared to reflect a kind of carelessness about the matter….

    The State Department draft was set to go out as early as Monday but was quashed at the last minute. Officials were told to “stand down” on releasing it because Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “did not approve” the language, according to one official familiar with the deliberations.

    The statement said the evidence “conclusively proves” the missile came from a specific Russian military brigade, “was brought into sovereign Ukrainian territory from Russia, was fired from Russia-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine, and was then returned to Russian territory.”…

    Full text of the prepared statement at the link.

    Pompeo is scheduled to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next Wednesday. Asked about it just now, Nauert provided no explanation. We need to know what’s going on.

  52. says

    Michael McFaul: “I hope the White House corrects the record and denounces in categorical terms this ridiculous request from Putin. Not doing so creates moral equivalency between a legitimacy US indictment of Russian intelligence officers and a crazy, completely fabricated story invented by Putin.”

  53. jack16 says

    Treason is very specifically defined in the U. S. Constitution. Most of the accusations flying around don’t fit.

    jack16

  54. tomh says

    @ #75
    How about “adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Seems like a case could be made.

  55. blf says

    One has to wonder how soon Trump will look into stripping native-born citizens of their citizenship?

    A variant of that is the small-ish number of people, such as Senators McCain and Cruz, and myself, who are natural-born citizens born aboard (in my case, and Cruz’s, in an indisputably foreign country). I have a certificate from the State Dept, issued at the embassy of the country in which I was born, declaring me to be a natural-born citizen born aboard. In all the cited cases, to the best of my knowledge, it is the Naturalization Act of 1790 which is critical. It states that children born abroad to citizens are natural born citizens. (That law is actually quite racist and sexist.)

    The problem here is since this dives into quite technical matters of who is, and isn’t, a “natural-born citizen” — a subject the courts have never(?) ruled on, and which is essentially undefined — traitor don & teh dalekocracy might easily trample all over it.

  56. blf says

    Hungary follows US in pulling out of UN migration pact:

    Deal is against Hungary’s security interests, says right-wing government that has taken tough anti-migration stand.

    Hungary’s right-wing government is withdrawing from a United Nations pact on migration, saying the global deal encourages movements of people which are dangerous for the world.

    After 18 months of negotiations, the draft for the Global Compact for Migration was approved on Friday by 191 UN member nations, but not the United States, which withdrew in December saying it was inconsistent with its immigration and refugee policies.

    […]

    Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s foreign minister, said on Wednesday that the document is entirely against Hungary’s security interests.

    Its main premise is that migration is a good and inevitable phenomenon. We consider migration a bad process, which has extremely serious security implications, Szijjártó said […].

    Hungary must step out of the approval process, and by doing so, make it clear that in no way does it consider any measure or guideline of the package to be the way forward, he added.

    […]

    The text of the new treaty aims to create a worldwide framework for managing migration.

    The pact is billed as the first international document on managing migration. It lays out 23 objectives to open up legal migration and better manage flows of people as the number on the move worldwide has increased to about 250 million.

    […]

    Szijjártó said Hungary did not trust that the pact is “legally non-binding” as stated in the document’s final version.

    […]

    (I have corrected the spelling of Péter Szijjártó’s name — another case of Al Jazeera seeming to have caught the France24 disease of omitting diacritics / accents. If this keeps up, I will throw a dead lobster at them.)

  57. blf says

    Nicola Jennings in the Grauniad, The two faces of Donald Trump (cartoon). Some viewers’s comments:

    ● “Trump collapses in the street, several passerby didn’t stop, eventually a good Samaritan stopped and saw somebody in need of help, he crouched down and saw the person is Trump — the good Samaritan sucked his teeth, and looked up to the sky and said ‘Can you hear me O Lord? You’re really testing my faith you fucker, I mean come on’.”

    ● “Worse than his cack handed mendacious ways are the reactions of his supporters. He could take a dump on a desk in congress and hoot like chimp and they would still back him as he plays to their prejudices.”

    ● “Why are these Fake News Mainstream Media cartoonists always poking fun at President Trump?
      Now that Russian collusion, after over a year of intense study, has proven to be a total hoax on the American public, the Democrats and their lapdogs, the Fake News Mainstream Media, are taking out the old Ronald Reagan playbook and screaming mental stability and intelligence.
      Actually, throughout Donald’s life, his two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. Donald Trump went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star to President of the United States (on his first try!). I think that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!
      Some people HATE the fact that he got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome!
      Not that Trump is deranged, he is NOT!. I did say that would qualify as not smart, but genius….and a very stable genius at that!
      Who knows how it will all turn out in the end, but why isn’t the Fake News Mainstream Media talking about these wonderful facts? Because it is FAKE NEWS!”
     ○ After some viewers reply, the point whooshing over their heads, the authour explains: “It’s not satire, that’s what’s worrying. I cut and pasted that stuff from Trump’s Twitter feed.”

    ● “Only two faced? Are you sure?
    Trump is / says whatever the last person he spoke to and who praised him would say.
    He doesn’t read.
    He doesn’t grasp detail.
    He cannot speak coherently.
    The quintessential snake oil salesman. He sees everything and every meeting as a ‘deal’.
    Trump believes North Korea is sorted because he had tea with Kin Jong Un.
    Russia is sorted because his new best friend Putin said so.
    NATO is obsolete because it is nearly as old as he is…
    The UK is a ‘hot place’ — not sure if that was from the Fox Fake News weather report or just a small word Trump could handle.
    He is a narcissistic and dangerous.
    He is a sociopath.
    He lies as easily as he breathes.
    If he were a dog you’d have him put down out of compassion.
    Trump is multi-faced with multiple personality disorder…
    […]”

    ● “An unbelievably illiterate serial liar, and now most of the Republicans have decided to go along with this unhinged loose cannon.”

    ● “It’s an understatement to say that Trump has adopted more positions than the Kama Sutra about everything.He appears to have the memory retention of an amoeba.”

  58. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Sally Yates will be on Rachael Maddow’s show tomorrow night, according to the promos. Must see TV.

  59. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    This seems like a good place to ask this. I thank you all for any help in advance.

    Context:
    https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2018/07/08/lesbians-protest-erasure-at-london-pride-march-by-halting-then-leading-the-parade/

    Specifically, here are some complaints about the LGBT movement from some (probable) TERFs.

    Promotes the social transition of lesbians, encouraging them to present as straight men thus favouring the pretence of heterosexuality over lesbianism – this is nothing more than a form of conversion therapy. Promotes the medical transition of lesbians and pushes harmful drugs (untested hormone blockers, Lupron etc.) as well as unnecessary medical practices on perfectly healthy bodies – these are a form of misogynist medical abuse against lesbians.

    Promotes the rights of heterosexual males who “identify” as women and lesbians (despite most of them still retaining their male genitals) over the rights of lesbians to choose their sexual partners. This new ‘queer’ LGBT politics thus coerces lesbians to accept the penis as a female organ and promotes heterosexual intercourse between male and female as a form of lesbian sex.

    As a cis-straight white male with almost no first-hand exposure to these issues and people with these issues, I have some questions to ask, which I hope are innocent and reasonable.

    I can envision the possibility that maybe some male-to-female persons might get upset on a personal and individual basis when a born-female lesbian doesn’t want to be in a sexual relationship with them, and especially if they still have a penis. But I cannot imagine how the particular TERF claims, quoted above, could possibly be an accurate description of any reputable and mainstream LGBT group. Basically, the two TERF claims here are just doing a massive strawman, right?

    I assume so, and hope so, because on the ridiculously off chance that they’re not strawman, I think I agree with the TERFs.

    Again, sorry if this is part of some intro 101 paper that I should of already read or something.

  60. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal #81:

    I cannot imagine how the particular TERF claims, quoted above, could possibly be an accurate description of any reputable and mainstream LGBT group. Basically, the two TERF claims here are just doing a massive strawman, right?

    Right.
     

    sorry if this is part of some intro 101 paper that I should of already read or something.

    It’s not new rhetoric at any rate. I think I saw an AnaMardoll twitter thread a year or two ago refuting “coercion of lesbians to accept penises”. Can’t find it.
     
    TERF warning signs (most of which appear in that article/flyer): “radfem”,” gender critical”, pitting letters of the alphabet against each other (and enbies against T), obsession with genitals defining womanhood, contempt for ‘identity’, contempt for non-binary, contempt for intersectionality (e.g., race), “gender non-conforming”, framing penis-havers as a threatening male infiltration into womens’ space (association of trans women and rape),
     
    Results from a cursory hashtag search…
     
    Video: FangedMuffin – A response to #TERF nonsense by #GetTheLOut at London Pride 2018 (3:00)

    The one thing that they did get right. Yes, queer politics does indeed believe that trans women are women, and that any genitals that women have are women’s genitals… which ergo does mean it believes that some penises are womens’ penises. Everything after that point though: bit of a leap. The idea that trans activists are trying to remove anyone’s rights to choose their own sexual partners is absurd.

    Twitter Thread: cambrian_era – Another response

    it’s not ACTUALLY about not telling lesbians they have to like dick, it’s about excluding trans-inclusive gays and lesbians as well as trans people from their spaces while reinforcing and leveraging dangerous public sentiment against trans women.

  61. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal #81:
    I’ve often seen the following user, RT’d by trans users more immersed in that discourse than I, regarding history and theoretical understanding of TERFs.
     
    Twitter Thread: CaseyExplosion – when I say that TERFs are like union busters, this is what I mean

    This is what TERFs are. They are a front for the US anti-LGBT evangelical movement, they further that movement’s goals towards rolling back LGBT rights. This is something that cis gay folks need to understand intimately, that they are an existential threat to your rights.
    […]
    This is something that everyone in the LGBT community need to understand, it’s not just about trans rights, they’re coming for *all* of our rights. Trans rights is just the small end of the wedge, once they’re done with us, they’re coming for everything cis LGB folks worked for.

     
    Twitter Thread: CaseyExplosion – TERF Spaces

    The claim: that mainstream feminist discourse is dominated by trans people, and thus excluding “real” feminist issues.
     
    The reality: that TERF discourse is obsessed with trans people almost exclusively.
    […]
    What they want is to hollow out any feminist spaces so that only TERFs and people like them are left, and they are often so utterly caustic and hateful in their discourse that if you let them into your spaces, any reasonable feminists will abondon it.

     
    Twitter Thread: CaseyExplosion – TERF Origins

    let’s talk about Catholic nuns, Reagan and the stripping of healthcare from trans people during the 80’s, and how TERFs were always aligned to the right, arming them with arguments and rhetoric to better discriminate against trans people.

     
    Omitted Link: Not sure of the link cap here. This is from another thread…

    This is the way folks need to understand TERF conspiracies, they’re throwing it at the wall and seeing what sticks. They don’t concern themselves with what’s true, what’s ideologically consistent, only that it potentially drives more hatred towards trans people.

  62. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @EnlightenmentLiberal #81:
     
    Article: PinkNews – Pride in London head condemns transphobic parade hijack

    Pride in London was overshadowed on Saturday when a group of transphobic, lesbian protesters hijacked the front of the parade, and and led much of the march
    […]
    In a statement on Sunday, Pride in London condemned the “vile” actions of the group, saying: “We are sorry.” However, organisers were criticised for initially releasing a statement citing “hot weather” and “safety” behind the decision to let the protest group to lead the parade.
    […]
    co-chair Alison Camps spoke to PinkNews
    […]
    We do not have right to physically remove people and they did everything within their power to stay within the law, which meant the police could not make any arrests – because people have a right to peaceful protest. The Met has confirmed that no offence was committed. […]
     
    We tried to surround them and move them off the parade but were not successful. We did not want a photo of them being forcibly dragged off the streets by their armpits to grace national news everywhere, making them martyrs for their cause.
     
    Ultimately, with the heat and need to ensure the safety of 30,000 people waiting under a very hot sun – including, importantly, older LGBT+ people and those with access requirements – we took the uncomfortable decision to send them as far ahead as we could as they were showing no signs of moving. In hindsight, I honestly wish I had been the one to cause a breach of the peace, so that the police had to intervene.
    […]
    The actions of eight people have tarnished Pride for so many people who didn’t experience the roars of the crowd that followed. They undid all of the hard work that we put in to push us forward as an event, and a community. We are going through a lot of introspection as to why it happened and to make sure it never happens again.

    We need to show that this kind of bigotry has #NoPlaceAtPride. We also need to show that we are stronger when we have the #LWithTheT. My team have been making videos to show their support – it’s not a huge thing, but being vocal is really important.
     
    The trans community needs to feel our support both emotionally and practically, to be welcomed into our lives and our spaces. To make sure that we understand the issues they face and how we can help, for example by giving cover when they come under attack.

  63. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    To CompulsoryAccount7746
    Thanks very much! Sorry for you doing so much work for me. So, it seems like a large portion of TERFs is just a front for standard reactionary anti-LGBT conservatives. Figures. Doesn’t surprise me one bit. “Liars for Jesus”, or at least “paid by Jesus”.

  64. says

    Quoted in blf’s #78:

    Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s foreign minister, said on Wednesday that the document is “entirely against Hungary’s security interests”.

    “Its main premise is that migration is a good and inevitable phenomenon. We consider migration a bad process, which has extremely serious security implications,” Szijjártó said […].

    WP:

    …The first large wave of emigration from Hungary to the United States occurred in 1849-1850 when the so-called “Forty-Eighters” fled from retribution by Austrian authorities after the defeat of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848….

    During the last decades of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century, the United States saw an immigration boom primarily of Southern and Eastern Europeans, among them approximately 650,000-700,000 ethnic Hungarian speakers. Unlike the educated classes who formed the core of the 1849 wave, the second Hungarian wave was mostly poor and uneducated immigrants seeking a better life in America.

    An increase of immigration from Hungary was also observed after World War II and The Holocaust, a significant percentage of whom were Jewish.

    The circumstances of the third wave of emigration had much in common with the first wave. In 1956, Hungary was again under the power of a foreign state, this time the Soviet Union, and again, Hungarians rose up in revolution. Like the 1848 revolution, the 1956 Hungarian Revolution failed and led to the emigration of 200,000 “56-ers” fleeing persecution after the revolution, 40,000 of whom found their way to the United States.

    There was a renewed economic migration after the end of communism in Hungary during the 1990s to 2000s….

  65. says

    First on CNN: President Trump’s military parade in DC is expected to cost $12M according to US officials, nearly as much as the now canceled military exercise with South Korea, Freedom Guardian, which Trump called ‘tremendously expensive’ & said cost ‘a fortune’ (est. cost $14M).”

  66. says

    “Novichok poisoning: police ‘identify’ Skripal suspects – reports”:

    Police are believed to have identified the suspected perpetrators of the Novichok attack on Russian former spy Sergei Skripal, it is being reported.

    Officers think several Russians were involved in the attempted murder of the former double agent and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury and are looking for more than one suspect, the British-based news agency Press Association claims.

    A source with knowledge of the investigation told PA: “Investigators believe they have identified the suspected perpetrators of the novichok attack through CCTV and have cross-checked this with records of people who entered the country around that time. They (the investigators) are sure they (the suspects) are Russian.”

    The news comes as an inquest is due to open on Thursday for Dawn Sturgess, 44, who died earlier this month, eight days after coming into contact with novichok. Police are working on the assumption that it came from the same batch used in the attempted murder of the Skripals in March.

    Her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, was left critically ill after also being contaminated by the nerve agent.

    It is understood Sturgess was exposed to at least 10 times the amount of novichok the Skripals came into contact with, PA said.

    Investigators are working on the theory that the substance was in a discarded perfume bottle found by the couple in a park or elsewhere in Salisbury city centre and Sturgess sprayed novichok straight on to her skin, the source said.

    Public Health England said the risk to the public remains low but it continued to “strongly advise” not to pick up any unknown “strange items” such as syringes, needles, cosmetics or similar objects made of materials such as metal, plastic or glass.

    The part about the perfume bottle is so awful.

  67. KG says

    The British government would have lost a crucial Brexit vote on Tuesday if four Labour Brexiteers had not voted with the government. The vote was on an amendment which would have obliged the government to seek a customs union with the EU if negotiations for a free-trade deal without one failed. In the same vote, a Tory MP broke a “pairing” arrangment with a LibDem on maternity leave (this system is used to prevent unavoidable absence changing a result) and there are reports that the Tory Chief Whip urged three Tory MPs to renege on their pairing agreements. The government did lose a vote over ensuring UK membership of the European Medicines Agency, and one where they tried to end the parliamentary session early.

  68. says

    Exactly right. Josh Marshall: “Precisely. Of course he ‘believes’ it. He knew before the intel folks knew. He doesn’t just believe it, he knows it. The whole charade about what he ‘believes’ is just an elaborate misdirection by him and his staff.”

  69. says

    Breaking: Two suspects British authorities believe they have identified in #Skripal investigation left the UK for #Russia after the poisoning, a source with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN.”

  70. says

    “From the Start, Trump Has Muddied a Clear Message: Putin Interfered”:

    Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.

    The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.

    Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.

    Almost as soon as he took office, Mr. Trump began casting doubts on the intelligence on Russia’s election interference, though never taking issue with its specifics.

    He dismissed it broadly as a fabrication by Democrats and part of a “witch hunt” against him. He raised unrelated issues, including the state of investigations into Mrs. Clinton’s home computer server, to distract attention from the central question of Russia’s role — and who, if anyone, in Mr. Trump’s immediate orbit may have worked with them.

    In July 2017, just after meeting Mr. Putin for the first time, Mr. Trump told a New York Times reporter that the Russian president had made a persuasive case that Moscow’s cyberskills were so good that the government’s hackers would never have been caught. Therefore, Mr. Trump recounted from his conversation with Mr. Putin, Russia must not have been responsible.

    Since then, Mr. Trump has routinely disparaged the intelligence about the Russian election interference. Under public pressure — as he was after his statements in Helsinki on Monday — he has periodically retreated. But even then, he has expressed confidence in his intelligence briefers, not in the content of their findings.

    That is what happened again this week, twice….

  71. says

    “Democratic push to investigate Russia stymied by partisan acrimony”:

    …The scuttled Mashburn interview is one of a number cases where the partisan acrimony on the House Intelligence Committee has hampered the Democrats’ efforts to continue the Russia investigation that the panel’s Republicans ended in March. Since then, Republicans have erected several hurdles making it harder for Democrats to continue their own investigation into connections between Trump campaign officials and Russians after the GOP ended the committee’s probe in March, Democratic lawmakers and aides said. The moves, in turn, have prompted Democrats to take their own steps to try to counter the Republicans.

    Given the intense partisanship in the House, it’s not unusual for any majority in either party to squelch efforts by the minority party to act unilaterally. But Democrats say House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, a Republican from California, has taken it to a whole new level.

    Democrats say Republicans have been playing petty games preventing them from carrying out basic tasks, including spending any money to cover the costs of flying witnesses to Washington. They say the GOP has prevented the Democrats from using the committee spaces for interviews.

    Democrats contend that the GOP has even taken the step of denying the use of free-of-charge House transcription services. Instead, they have had to rely on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office to pay for outside transcription services and to use her offices to conduct interviews — as they did when the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, Christopher Wylie, met with the panel in April and for Wednesday’s interview with Simona Mangiante Papadopoulos.

    But beyond the small-bore disputes, there is one serious matter at hand, Democrats say: They want to share the transcripts of their witness interviews with special counsel Robert Mueller over concerns that some witnesses may have been untruthful, but Nunes, they say, isn’t cooperating.

    Schiff has contended that some of the witnesses who testified during the GOP-led Russia probe may have lied, which is a crime, and he wants Mueller to know about it. But without Nunes’ help, Schiff said, Democrats are exploring other ways to provide Mueller with the information unilaterally.

    “We’re trying determine whether evidence of a crime is an exception to the executive session rules,” Schiff said. “We’re looking at what legal recourse there may be if the committee takes evidence of a potential crime, but we don’t have a final legal judgment on that yet.”

  72. blf says

    KG@91, The UK “government” would also have lost that critical vote had the Sinn Féin MPs voted. As quite a number of people are observing, their adherence to a 100-ish year-old boycott of Parliament means they’ve just acted against the interests of both N.Ireland and the Irish Republic — that is, the entire island of Ireland — which they claim they want to unite. They are getting quite a lot of flack about this from both sides of the Irish border. (I do not know how, or even if, they are responding to the criticism, albeit past practice suggests it will be with bluster, diversion, and throwing toys out of the playpen.)

  73. says

    Hillary Clinton: “Ambassador @McFaul is a patriot who has spent his career standing up for America. To see the White House even hesitate to defend a diplomat is deeply troubling.”

    McFaul: “Thank you @HillaryClinton for your support.”

    (He thanked everyone supporting him on Twitter yesterday. I think he was taken aback by the WH response.)

    What’s Jon Huntsman doing?

  74. says

    Swalwell: “#BREAKING On the @HouseFloor, @housegop voted to ZERO out our election security funding. @RepMikeQuigley & @WhipHoyer passionately spoke to defend the USA. @HouseDemocrats broke into chant of ‘USA! USA!'”

  75. says

    “Putin Says Trump’s Critics in U.S. Are Trying to Undermine Meeting”:

    President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia warned on Thursday that certain political forces in the United States — a formulation that usually refers to a supposed anti-Russian cabal in the American national security establishment — were trying to undermine what he called a successful meeting this week with President Trump.

    “We see that there are forces in the United States that can easily sacrifice Russian-U.S. relations for the sake of their own ambitions,” Mr. Putin said in a foreign policy speech to Russian ambassadors. “Let’s see how the events develop, especially considering that certain forces are trying to disavow the results of the meeting in Helsinki.”

    The comments were some of the most extensive to date by Mr. Putin about the Russian view about whether a “deep state” of national security elites dominates American politics and conspiring to thwart Mr. Trump.

    Mr. Trump, too, seemed to feel that the talks in Finland were fruitful and underappreciated. “The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media,” he said on Twitter. “I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed, including stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear

    ….proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more. There are many answers, some easy and some hard, to these problems…but they can ALL be solved!”…

    This is an emergency.

  76. blf says

    Hungary’s Orbán vows zero tolerance for anti-Semitism on Israel visit:

    Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a nationalist whose policies have raised concerns among Jews in his country, said on a visit to Israel on Thursday they should feel safe under his government.

    Paying a reciprocal visit to Israel a year after hosting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Budapest, Orbán reaffirmed that Hungary would show zero tolerance for anti-Semitism.

    All of the Jewish citizens in Hungary are under the protection of the government, Orbán said, according to a Hebrew translation of his remarks to reporters in Hungarian at the start of talks with the right-wing Israeli leader.

    […]

    Last year, Orbán raised concerns in Hungary’s Jewish community when he praised the country’s interwar leader Miklós Horthy, a Hitler ally, and used an image of George Soros, a Jewish US financier and philanthropist of Hungarian origin, in an anti-immigration billboard campaign.

    Netanyahu and Orbán […] have found common cause on the issue of Soros and his support for non-governmental organisations that have criticised their governments’ policies.

    Netanyahu’s embrace of Orbán has drawn criticism from Israeli opposition politicians and raised eyebrows in the European Union […].

    But greeting Orbán on Thursday, Netanyahu called him a true friend of Israel.

    The Israeli leader has sought closer ties with European nations willing to provide strong backing to Israel.

    Hungary in December abstained when the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to reject the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

    It also joined the Czech Republic and Romania in blocking a European Union statement criticising Washington’s decision to move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem.

    You have stood up for Israel time and time again in international forums, Netanyahu said. It is deeply appreciated, and it is important.

    […]

    A Hungarian patriot and a Jewish Israeli patriot will always find something in common, Orbán said, while his host added that the two leaders both understand that the threat of radical Islam is a real one.

    […]

    In a break with protocol for EU leaders, who usually meet Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah during such visits, he has no scheduled talks with Palestinian leaders.

    I’m not sure which nazi’s toadying is more sickening. The appalling thing is some people will actually believe even some of the garbage spouted. As discussed previously in this series of threads, what’s really going on is Israel’s nazis are attempting to weaken Europe’s objections to their apartheid policies. The European loons are being played by Israel, and also very probably being bribed.

    (As usual with France24, I’ve had to restore the missing diacritics / accents to the various names (corrections not marked). This is getting tiresome !)

  77. says

    Update to #101 on the previous thread – the Greek MFA wasn’t pleased with the statements from the Russian MFA. Here’s their official statement (emphasis added):

    Today’s statements from the spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs are a characteristic example of disrespect for a third country and a lack of understanding of today’s world, in which states, regardless of their size, are independent and can exercise an independent, multidimensional and democratic foreign policy.

    Moreover, it was negative thinking of this kind that prompted the four Russian citizens to proceed to actions that led to their expulsion from, or prohibition from entering, Greece. The evidence based on which Greece acted was presented to the Russian authorities in a timely manner. In any case, the Russian authorities themselves are very well aware of what their people do.

    From the outset, Greece attempted to keep the actions of these persons separate from official Russian foreign policy. But in today’s statement, the spokesperson of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs embraces and seems to want to legitimise these illegal actions.

    The constant disrespect for Greece must stop. No one can or has the right to interfere in Greece’s domestic affairs.

    Finally, unsubstantiated claims to the effect that this decision was taken following pressure from third parties are unworthy of comment and indicate a mindset of people who do not understand the principles and values of Greek foreign policy.

  78. says

    In other statement news, here’s Montenegro’s in response to the Trump-Carlson interview (see above):

    The Government of Montenegro, taking into account the interest of numerous domestic and foreign media to comment on yesterday’s statement by US President Donald Trump given in an interview with TV FOX, adopted at today’s 86th Cabinet session the following stance:

    Montenegro is proud of its history and tradition and peaceful politics that led to the position of a stabilising state in the region and the only state in which the war didn’t rage during disintegration of the former Yugoslavia.

    The country that has hosted and protected 120,000 affected people and families.

    The country that was the first in Europe to resist the Fascism, and today as a new NATO member and a candidate for the EU membership it contributes to peace and stability not only on the European continent but worldwide, along with US soldiers in Afghanistan.

    We build friendships, and we have not lost single one, and at the same time we are able to boldly and defensively protect and defend our own national interests.

    In today’s world, it does not matter how big or small you are, but to what extent you cherish the values of freedom, solidarity and democracy.

    Therefore, the friendship and the alliance of Montenegro and the United States of America is strong and permanent.

  79. KG says

    blf@99,

    Quite true. The SF elected representatives really should swallow their pride, and take the oath of allegiance while crossing their fingers. Of course, it may be that they want a no-deal Brexit and a hard border because they think it will bring Irish unification closer.

  80. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 96.

    From Mother Jones’ Kevin Drum:

    The American intelligence community has been on edge over Trump practically from the start. But after Helsinki their hair must be on fire. This [the revelation that Trump was informed two weeks before his inauguration] is basically a declaration of war against Trump, a public accusation that he’s known all along Putin ordered the election interference. One way or another, this is not going to end well.

    From southpaw:

    I’d speculate the intel sources here reasonably concluded that Trump has already burned their sources and methods to Putin.

  81. says

    Team Trump’s financial experts get almost everything wrong:

    […] Larry Kudlow, the director of the Trump White House’s National Economic Council, boasted that the U.S. budget deficit “is coming down, and it’s coming down rapidly.” This was, of course, spectacularly wrong. Though the deficit shrunk during Barack Obama’s presidency, it’s grown considerably larger since Donald Trump took office.

    Asked soon after how he managed to get reality backwards, Kudlow conceded that the deficit isn’t really coming down now, but he believes it will start shrinking in the near future as Republican economic policies continue to kick in.

    […] The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday:

    The Trump administration expects annual budget deficits to rise nearly $100 billion more than previously forecast in each of the next three years, pushing the federal deficit above $1 trillion starting next year. […]

    The White House budget office now estimates that the deficit will rise to nearly $1.1 trillion in the fiscal year that begins this October, or 5.1% of gross domestic product, up from $984 billion projected in February’s budget proposal.

    According to the White House budget blueprint from February, the Trump administration expected to add $7.1 trillion in cumulative deficits to the national debt over the next 10 years. This new revision has increased that total to $8 trillion.

    These latest figures tell us a few important things. First, Larry Kudlow’s track record for accuracy on issues like these really is embarrassing. Second, Donald Trump’s campaign commitments about balancing the budget should probably be near the top of the list of his broken promises.

    Third, every Republican who said the GOP tax breaks for the wealthy would pay for themselves ought to face some renewed questioning about how very wrong they were. […]

    When the economy is in trouble, it makes sense for the United States to borrow more, invest more, cushion the blow, and help strengthen the economy.

    The Trump White House and the Republican-led Congress, however, decided to approve massive tax breaks for the wealthy and big corporations when the economy was already healthy – not because they were addressing a policy need, but because they were fulfilling an ideological goal.

    link

  82. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 101.

    On Thursday morning, House Intelligence Committee members Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) moved to subpoena the only American witness to President Trump’s secret meeting in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin — the interpreter.

    This was voted down by every Republican on the committee.

    House Intel Dems just moved to subpoena the translator from the #TrumpPutin private meeting. We must know, did @realDonaldTrump — who has sided with Putin time and again — make any secret deals or risk national security secrets? EVERY Republican voted against the motion.

    Schiff and Swalwell’s effort comes as Trump — whose campaign is currently under active criminal investigation for colluding with Putin during the 2016 presidential campaign — is being extremely evasive about what he and the Russian strongman actually discussed during their meeting. […]

    Link

  83. says

    It’s looking increasingly likely (though not certain) that U.S. Person 2 in the Butina complaint is George O’Neill, Jr. A bit more about him:

    While the American remains unidentified, all of the information in the complaint matches the descriptions of George O’Neill Jr., a Rockefeller scion and conservative activist. In early February 2017, O’Neill hosted a luxurious dinner for, as he later wrote, “former and current Russian officials” and “a number of prominent U.S. Republicans and conservatives,” among others.

    The four-hour dinner included, unsurprisingly, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), the most outspoken pro-Putin member of Congress, as well as Rep. Thomas Massie (R.-KY). Also confirmed in attendance? Torshin, Butina, and Erickson.

    O’Neill, for good measure, has also been outspoken in publicly pushing conservatives to support Russia. In The American Conservative last year, O’Neill wrote that he supports using conservatives’ efforts to build a “good relationship” with Russia. Among the voices O’Neill recommended listening to: Stephen Cohen, who is now writing for Russian propaganda channel RT; Pat Buchanan, who has written that Putin has God on his “side”; and writers for anti-Semitic sites like Russia Insider and Unz Review.

    That wasn’t all, though. For O’Neill, any suggestion that conservative activists were acting as unwitting dupes of Russians was laughable. As he wrote, “the suggestion that American conservatives might be susceptible to manipulation by foreign officials certainly betrayed a lack of understanding[.]”

    Given that we now know just how many conservative activists and Republican leaders have been caught up in Butina’s and Torshin’s infiltration efforts — to say nothing of the efforts from other Russian nationals, official or otherwise — O’Neill may want to rethink his claims.

    Another rightwing prize.

  84. says

    Don’t count on FEMA:

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency was already supporting 692 federally declared disasters when hurricane season started last year. Then came the most destructive disaster season in U.S. history, causing $265 billion in damage and forcing more than a million Americans from their homes. FEMA was overwhelmed.

    So the agency has a novel suggestion for Americans as the 2018 disaster season heats up: Don’t rely on us.

    In a report last week evaluating its response to last year’s disaster, FEMA details “how ill-prepared the agency was to manage a crisis outside the continental United States, like the one in Puerto Rico,” The New York Times reported. “And it urges communities in harm’s way not to count so heavily on FEMA in a future crisis.”

    “The work of emergency management does not belong just to FEMA,” the agency stated near the end of the report. “It is the responsibility of the whole community, federal, [state, local, tribal and territorial governments], private sector partners, and private citizens to build collective capacity and prepare for the disasters we will inevitably face.” […]

    FEMA is certainly correct that disasters must be managed at all levels, but the most important lesson of the 2017 disaster season is that weather disasters are becoming more frequent and more damaging. The government’s failure to grapple with that reality contributed to FEMA’s poor response. For example, the 1988 Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act—the law that gave FEMA its authority to coordinate disaster relief efforts—ensured that the agency could only re-build Puerto Rico’s weak electricity system after it was wiped out by Maria; it was not allowed to spend money on rebuilding a more resilient electricity system. […]

    Link

    FEMA did not mention climate change in the report.

  85. Hj Hornbeck says

    Shoot, I forgot about this bizarre event.

    Butina’s arrest is significant in light of her apparent efforts to penetrate the Trump campaign and to get the GOP candidate to commit to lifting sanctions on Russia at a time relations with Moscow were hardly a front-burner issue in the presidential race. In July 2015, just weeks after Trump announced his candidacy, Butina showed up at a conservative evangelical Christian event in Las Vegas, where she questioned the new candidate about his position on sanctions against Russia. “Do you want to continue the politics of sanctions that are damaging both economies?” Butina asked Trump after he called on her in a question and answer session. Trump replied in the course of a rambling five-minute answer: “I know Putin. … I believe I would get along very nicely with Putin, OK? I don’t think you’d need the sanctions.”

    […] Trump adviser Steven Bannon and Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus shared concerns about Butina and her agenda after viewing video of her questioning Trump.

    “How was it that this Russian woman happened to be in Las Vegas for that event?” Bannon and Priebus discussed among themselves, according to [the book] “Russian Roulette.” “And how was it that Trump happened to call on her? And Trump’s response? It was odd, Bannon thought, that Trump had a fully developed answer. Priebus agreed there was something strange about Butina. Whenever there were events held by conservative groups, she was always around, he told Bannon.”

    There’s video of the Butina/Trump exchange behind the link. It’s so weird to hear the Trump of three years ago, he sounds quite different nowadays.

  86. says

    Josh Marshall – “The Bigs Are Starting to Accept the Unimaginable”:

    …Here I think you can see a real shift. Over the last three days I’ve seen a number of establishment figures, the people always resist the outlandish explanations, who always stay basically conventional in their opinion and statements saying simply: Putin must have something on Trump.

    Sometimes it’s specific, some kind of corrupt alliance; other times it’s amorphous, some kind of inexplicable hold Putin has over Trump by force of personality. But the kind of people who never said this kind of thing are saying it now. Somehow the President is compromised. Putin has something on him; or he has tempted his avarice with something. But there’s simply no innocent explanation for what we’re seeing.

    That’s the shift. The Monday press conference made cautious, prominent people start to come to grips with the reality that Donald Trump, as crazy as it sounds and as difficult as it may be to believe, is under some kind of influence or control by a foreign adversary power, whether by fear or avarice or some other factor.

    As yet, there’s little difference of behavior from elected Republicans. And I don’t expect any. What veteran foreign policy or diplomatic hands say on CNN is not the most important thing. But I think they are indicators of a change, a change of perception I expect is occurring among many who can’t yet speak.

  87. says

    “Brussels opens legal proceedings over Hungary’s ‘Stop Soros’ law”:

    The Hungarian government is in breach of the EU’s charter of fundamental rights over a law that criminalises people who help asylum seekers, the European commission has said.

    The commission, the guardian of EU law, announced on Thursday it had sent the Hungarian government a letter of formal notice over the “Stop Soros” law. The letter is the first step in a legal process that could lead to Hungary being taken to the European court of justice (ECJ) and told to change the law.

    Separately, the commission said it was referring Hungary to the ECJ for breaking other EU asylum rules, linked to the country’s detention camps for asylum seekers.

    The announcements are a sign of the deepening standoff between Brussels and Viktor Orbán, who was re-elected in April for a fourth term as Hungary’s prime minister, after a campaign dominated by charged rhetoric against migrants….

  88. says

    MUELLER is interested in the work that @TadDevine, who was the chief strategist for @BernieSanders 2016 presidential campaign, did with MANAFORT on behalf of the RUSSIA-aligned Ukrainian Party of Regions, based on this list of exhibits to be presented at trial starting next week.”

  89. Hj Hornbeck says

    More evidence that government representatives shouldn’t meet one-on-one.

    Vladimir Putin told Russian diplomats that he made a proposal to Donald Trump at their summit this week to hold a referendum to help resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine, but agreed not to disclose the plan publicly so the U.S. president could consider it, according to two people who attended Putin’s closed-door speech on Thursday.

    Details of what the two leaders discussed in their summit in Helsinki, Finland, remain scarce, with much of the description so far coming from Russia.

    This could be Putin making shit up, in the hope of pushing the US further into crisis. We don’t know, and because Republicans have blocked all attempts at subpoena’ing Trump’s intepreter we’re unlikely to ever know.

  90. says

    From Trumpian mouthpiece, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen:

    “I haven’t seen any evidence that the attempt to interfere in our election infrastructure was to favor a particular political party,” Nielsen responded when asked about Russia’s intentions Thursday during the Aspen Security Forum.

    “What we’ve seen on the foreign influence side is they were attempting to intervene and cause chaos on both sides,” she continued.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] if this story seems familiar, it’s because we’ve been here before. In May, Nielsen also looked past the evidence and told reporters, “I do not believe that I’ve seen that conclusion that the specific intent [behind the Russian election attack] was to help President Trump win. I’m not aware of that.”

    […] two months later, Nielsen managed to make the identical mistake.

    It’s almost as if she’s trying to undermine her own credibility, which was already severely damaged. It was just last month, for example, that the DHS chief wrote via Twitter, “We do not have a policy of separating families at the border. Period,”

    It followed Senate testimony Nielsen gave in which she said she didn’t know that Norway’s population is largely white.

    […] it’s easy to forget just how massive the Department of Homeland Security is. The nation’s newest cabinet agency, created in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, has nearly a quarter of a million employees, tackling a wide variety of tasks: DHS includes everything from FEMA to Customs and Border Protection to the Secret Service.

    It’s therefore important for Americans to have confidence, not only in the department, but in its leadership. […] Americans are left to wonder whether the secretary can be counted on to tell the truth.

    Update: At today’s event, the cabinet secretary went on to say she agrees with the intelligence community’s findings “full stop.” Reconciling this categorical statement with her other comments is difficult.

    It’s not difficult, it’s impossible.

  91. says

    Another attack by team Trump on legal immigration:

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering a plan that would drastically and unilaterally restrict legal immigration to only the wealthiest and most privileged applicants.

    An archaic federal immigration provision called the “public charge” test is currently being drafted by the Trump administration. Immigrants coming to the United States would generally fail this new rewritten test if they had a medical condition and no source of subsidized health insurance.

    The test also places a premium on an applicant’s income and assets. Applicants must make at least 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, which, in 2018, means $30,350 for a one-person household and $62,750 for a four-person household. By comparison, the average American working full-time typically makes around $51,640 for men and $41,554 for women.

    According to a new report from the Center For American Progress, if every American citizen were forced to take the Trump administration’s test, more than 100 million people — roughly one-third of the U.S. population — would fail. […]

    The test was initially aimed preventing the immigration of Irish Catholics to the United States and was later used by immigration officials to keep out Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany along with LQBTQ immigrants, individuals with disabilities, and even unmarried women. […]

    Link

  92. says

    More re the suspected Novichok poisoners (emphasis added):

    …The pair left the UK in the wake of the attack on what is believed to have been a commercial flight, the source added.

    Their departure was revealed in a coded Russian message to Moscow sent after the attack, which was intercepted by a British base in Cyprus, the source said. The British government blames the Skripals’ poisoning on Russia.

    An Aeroflot flight at Heathrow airport in London was searched on March 30, an action the British government described at the time as “routine.”…

  93. says

    “Senate GOP withdraws judicial nominee Ryan Bounds, delivering a blow to Trump’s court plans”:

    The GOP’s bid to transform the federal bench with conservative judges hit its first significant snag Thursday, after Senate Republicans were forced to withdraw the nomination of Ryan Bounds, Trump’s pick to serve on the powerful 9th Circuit appeals court.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced he would withdraw Bounds’s nomination after the vote to confirm him was delayed for nearly an hour, prompting speculation that the GOP did not have support it needed to carry Bounds’ nomination.

    Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters Thursday that the decision was made with the White House, following concerns Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) raised about the nomination….

  94. says

    A Trump judicial nominee is shown the door. Thank goodness that one GOP Senator defected and voted no.

    Ryan Bounds’ nomination to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was derailed on Thursday when South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott announced he could not support the nominee because of his history of racist writings.

    […] A staunch conservative, immigration hardliner, and member of the Federalist Society, Bounds appeared to be coasting to an easy confirmation until the liberal group Alliance for Justice uncovered bigoted statements he made as a Stanford student in the 1990s. Among other inflammatory claims, Bounds wrote that:

    […] “strident racial factions in the student body … seem always to contribute more to restricting consciousness, aggravating intolerance, and pigeonholing cultural identities than many a Nazi bookburning.” […]
    “Expelling students [found guilty of rape] is probably not going to contribute a great deal toward a rape victim’s recovery; there is no moral imperative to risk egregious error in doing so.”

    Bounds did not disclose these past statements to the Senate Judiciary Committee. After they came to light, he apologized for his “obnoxious tone and misguided sentiments.” That, apparently, satisfied the committee’s Republicans, who approved his nomination on a party line vote. […] as Scott declared his opposition to Bounds. Sen. Marco Rubio quickly joined him, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell withdrew the nomination. […]

    Thanks to Republican cooperation, the president has already appointed 23 judges to the courts of appeals and 20 district court judges, far outpacing his predecessors.

    Link

  95. says

    Nope. Republicans do NOT want to secure voting systems in the USA.

    […] the House is expected to vote Thursday on a version of the bill that excludes more grants for election security […]

    Democrats asked for the funds in light of the latest developments of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. […]

    The debate on Wednesday in the House followed comments from President Trump this Monday in which he denied that Russia had sought to undermine the U.S. elections. Following backlash from both parties, Trump lightly walked back those comments on Tuesday, saying that he does accept the U.S. intelligence community’s charges of Russian efforts to sabotage American elections. On Wednesday he said “no” when asked if the Kremlin is still “targeting” the United States, even though his administration’s own intelligence officials disagree.

    None of this was enough for House Republicans to seize an opportunity to help states update and lock down their election systems.

    This November, most states will use voting machinery and software that’s more than 10 years old […]

    Those machines are largely using archaic software systems that are no longer routinely patched for security vulnerabilities. Thirteen states will still use electronic paperless voting machines this year, which are particularly susceptible to attack, since they don’t leave a paper trail that can be confirmed by the voter and rechecked by election officials—and in the case of a system crash these machines could permanently lose votes that cannot be recovered. […]

    Link

  96. blf says

    In the UK, the minister for malicious madness (brexit) was David Davis, who was useless and resigned in protest over an attempt to do a small part of what he should have done a long long time ago (define the British position (Davis didn’t talk much to the EU and warbled all over the place, essentially always spouting contradictory nonsense and then saying it was all the EU’s fault)). His replacement is now in Brussels for his first meetings. In the Grauniad, Ben Jennings Dominic Raab in Brussels (cartoon). Two notable objects are the cake (a reference to the Davis, et al., nonsenses as “have your cake and eat it”; and the red bus, a reference to perhaps the most notorious lie of the brexit leave campaign, that leaving the EU would somehow make so much money available the NHS would get more money than the UK’s share of EU funding).

  97. says

    “Netanyahu Cements His Place in the Illiberal International”:

    These two things happened within a few hours of each other‫:

    – Hungary’s authoritarian leader, Victor Orban, landed in Israel as the warmly welcomed guest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
    – On a party-line vote, Israel’s parliament passed Netanyahu’s flagship piece of legislation, the Nation State Law—which enshrines second-class status for the country’s Arab citizens as a constitutional principle.

    Coincidence? Yes, and no.

    Orban’s visit wasn’t orchestrated to celebrate Netanyahu’s victory. The law passed in a rush before the Knesset recessed for the summer. The visit was planned separately[.]

    That said, the timing was scarily perfect. The Nation State Law is a historic turning point in transforming Israel into an illiberal democracy. Netanyahu’s embrace of Orban—and of other Central European leaders of his ilk, and of Donald Trump—shows his conscious identification with the new Illiberal International.

    In that pre-recess rush, the Knesset passed several other laws. One gave new authority to the minister of education to bar outside speakers from public schools. The purpose is to keep high schools from inviting speakers from Breaking the Silence, the veterans’ group that collects soldiers’ testimony on serving in the occupied territories. A last-minute amendment was aimed at barring other human rights groups.

    Another new law bans the police practice of publicizing why an investigation has ended without charges against a suspect. That’s aimed at protecting Netanyahu personally. If one or more of the investigations ends without an indictment, the police can’t tell the public what they did find—which might well be of political importance, even if it doesn’t add up to a crime.

    All of these measures were passed by an elected majority. Together they shield the leader from scrutiny, suppress dissent, prevent pluralism and add to the stench of paranoia emanating from the prime minister’s residence. They epitomize illiberal democracy.

    Netanyahu has had an illiberal streak for years, and his abuse of a Knesset majority isn’t new. He’s always faced political resistance within Israel—even from the right—and pressures from the United States and Europe.

    These days the international arena encourages his worst tendencies. He’s best buddies with India’s Hindu nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi. He has forged close ties with the Visegrad Group, Central Europe’s ultra-nationalist bloc of Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland. The man who saw anti-Semitism everywhere ignores Orban’s anti-Jewish rhetoric and drew the fury of historians for a recent agreement with Poland that papers over the complicity of Poles in the Holocaust.

    And he can count on the support of Donald Trump, president of the country that formerly led the free world.

    I write this with a great deal of pain. Netanyahu has changed Israel for the worse. It’s important to remember that he faced a great deal of resistance, and that his parliamentary majority was narrow. The struggle to take the country in a better direction isn’t over. It’s more difficult, and more desperately important than ever.

    Much more at the link.

  98. says

    SHS just tweeted: “In Helsinki, @POTUS agreed to ongoing working level dialogue between the two security council staffs. President Trump asked @Ambjohnbolton to invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway.”

    Happened while Andrea Mitchell was interviewing Dan Coats at the Aspen Forum, after he’d talked extensively about the threat from Russia.

    .@mitchellreports: “We have some breaking news. Vladimir Putin is coming to the White House in the fall.”
    Dan Coats: “Say again?”

  99. says

    In the past several hours, Coats’ live interview in which he said several things that could make Trump angry (because he’s a corrupt, traitorous lunatic); statement from Montenegro; Bounds nomination withdrawn; Senate unanimously passed resolution rebuking openness to agreement with Putin; Greek statement about Russia; Putin told diplomats he had talked with Trump about a deal selling out Ukraine and promised not to tell the public; Trump was angry with the Fed’s raising interest rates; news about the Novichok suspects and the coded message to Moscow (with official British statement coming shortly?); possibly other things (related to Cohen or Manafort?) that we don’t know about;…

    The tweet about Putin coming to Washington was very likely sent out in a rage, and the direction that rage took is telling.

  100. says

    Jon Favreau: “I look forward to the debate about whether Putin will be an asset or liability to the Republican Party when he starts stumping with Donald Trump in battleground states this fall.”

    Yes, “Doesn’t this appeal to midwestern voters who want to see things shaken up? Aren’t the Dems hurting themselves with their exclusively anti-Putin message? Shouldn’t they leave this alone and focus on the kitchen-table issues people in Pennsylvania diners care about? Aren’t the protests hurting their cause? What does Bernie Sanders think?”

  101. blf says

    Scott Pruitt aides protected him from formaldehyde while suppressing report on its dangers:

    […]
    Staff at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) organized for a new office desk to air out in a remote warehouse for a week so that former agency head Scott Pruitt wouldn’t have to breathe in any traces of the carcinogenic chemical formaldehyde from his furniture, emails obtained by Politico have revealed.

    At the same time, Pruitt was refusing to more strictly regulate the chemical, despite sitting on a report that said it’s putting Americans at risk of leukaemia and throat cancer.

    Last month it emerged key figures in the EPA were suppressing an agency report, completed just before Trump took office, that found that a majority of Americans inhale unacceptably high levels of formaldehyde vapor in the course of daily life, which puts them at risk of developing cancer of the blood, throat and nose. According to Politico, a trade group representing the businesses that could face new regulations if the study were released had frequent access to EPA officials and successfully pressured them to refrain from publishing the report.

    Pruitt himself, however, was protected from inhaling the chemical.

    As part of the $9,500 refurbishing of his office — which had already caused controversy for surpassing the $5,000 limit set by Congress for redecoration costs — Pruitt ordered a new desk. When it emerged that the it contained formaldehyde, aides sought advice about whether it would be safe for Pruitt.

    Deputy chief of staff Reginald Allen emailed Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, then serving as acting head of the EPA’s toxic chemicals office to ask for more information about formaldehyde safety. Cleland-Hamnett told him the desk was made in California, where formaldehyde is more stringently regulated, and was therefore likely to be fine — but to be sure they could air it out for a few days.

    […]

    While EPA officials went to such lengths to ensure Pruitt’s safety, they have done nothing to regulate levels of formaldehyde, and continue to delay the report’s release. […]

  102. blf says

    US watchdog uncovers violence against pro-union workers at Indian factory:

    […]
    At Shahi Exports, India’s largest apparel exporter, several union supporters were this spring circulating a petition that asked management to provide cleaner water and increase pay. Shahi managers responded, an independent monitoring group found, by making death threats to several pro-union workers and directing other employees to beat them.

    One manager at Shahi’s “Unit 8” factory in Bangalore told a female union supporter: It won’t be a sin if people kill you and get rid of you.

    He then reportedly urged other workers to beat her, with one nearly strangling her, an investigation by the monitoring group found.

    [… other atrocities…]

    The investigation by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), a Washington-based group that monitors factories for 190 universities in the US, Canada and the UK, found that eight managers were responsible for the violence and death threats and that 15 pro-union workers had been wrongly suspended.

    […]

    WRC called on Shahi to fire those managers, reinstate the workers and recognize the union. But when Shahi denied the managers’ responsibility for any violence and refused to fire them, the WRC urged major western brands that buy apparel from Shahi — including H&M, Benetton, Abercrombie & Fitch and Columbia Sportswear — to press Shahi to fire the managers and apologize to the 15 workers.

    Facing increased pressure from the WRC and western companies, Shahi said early this month […] that it had terminated five managers and had begun termination proceedings against four others. Shahi also reinstated the 15 workers, paid them back pay and agreed to recognize and negotiate with the union […]

    [… WRC executive director Scott] Nova voiced dismay that several brands that buy apparel from Shahi knew nothing about the beatings or threats at the 3,000-employee factory until the WRC had informed them. “The brands claim strict labor standards” and extensive monitoring, Nova said. “Yet managers at a key supplier assaulted workers and threatened to kill them, faced no disciplinary action, and more than two months later were still helping churn out product for brands like Benetton and Abercrombie & Fitch.”

    […]

    “If we had left it to the brands,” Nova said, “the union would be dead, its leaders blacklisted, the workforce terrorized into silence, and the managers who authored the anti-union violence probably in line for promotion.”

    [… Director of the Center for Global Workers’ Rights at Penn State University, Mark] Anner noted that the price western buyers pay for apparel in India and Bangladesh has gone down since 2000. “That creates incentive to avoid unions at all cost,” he said. He said companies with corporate responsibility programs are often far too slow to detect and address abuses against workers. “We still have to depend far too often on independent campaigns and media exposés to get companies to address serious violations,” he said.

  103. blf says

    Independent joins Saudi group to launch Middle East websites:

    […]
    The Independent [a UK newspaper –blf] has joined up with a media group that has close links to the Saudi royal family to launch websites across the Middle East and Pakistan in a deal that will raise questions about the growing influence of Gulf finance in the British media.

    The joint partnership will see four Independent-branded sites launched in Arabic, Urdu, Turkish and Persian by the end of 2018.

    Although the sites will be Independent-branded, the content would be almost entirely produced by Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG) journalists based in London, Islamabad, Istanbul and New York, with the Independent contributing only translated articles from the English-language website. […]

    [… Q]uestions will be raised about the journalistic decision to partner with a publisher with strong links to the Saudi government.

    Reporters Without Borders rates Saudi Arabia at 169 out of 180 countries on its World Press Freedom Index. It said the country had “no independent media” and the “level of self-censorship is extremely high”.

    […]

    Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have been involved in a web of geopolitical alliances, rivalries and hostilities, with the battle increasingly involving attempts to influence press coverage and dominate social media.

    The decision to launch a Persian-language version of the Independent, staffed by SRMG journalists, would come under particular scrutiny given the Saudi state’s hostility to Iran, with both countries backing rival sides in the ongoing war in Yemen.

    The Independent is not the first media company from the west to partner with SRMG. Last year Bloomberg signed a deal to produce an Arabic-language version of financial news service.

    […]

  104. Hj Hornbeck says

    Meanwhile, as the Republicans refuse to increase funding for election security or deny there’s a problem, the Kremlin continues on.

    Speaking on a panel at the Aspen Security Forum on Thursday, Tom Burt, Microsoft’s vice president for customer security and trust, said that his team had discovered a spear-phishing campaign targeting three candidates running for election in 2018. Analysts traced them to a group Microsoft has nicknamed Strontium, which is closely tracked by every major threat intelligence company and is widely accepted to be run by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency.

    Burt declined to name the candidates during the event, citing privacy concerns, and didn’t say which party they belonged to, but implied they were candidates of note and running for reelection. “They were all people who, because of their positions, might have been interesting targets from an espionage standpoint, as well as an election disruption standpoint,” Burt said.

  105. Hj Hornbeck says

    Triggering the Libs by destroying a Democracy. eyeroll

    Also, to elaborate on Montenegro, here’s something from August 2017:

    Speaking in Montenegro, which defied Russia by becoming the newest member of NATO in June, Mr. Pence praised the tiny nation for its independence. “Your courage, particularly in the face of Russian pressure, inspires the world and I commend you for that,” Mr. Pence said at a dinner on Tuesday evening.

    Russian officials were so incensed by Montenegro’s decision to join NATO that they plotted a coup attempt in October to try to block the country from joining the alliance, Mr. Pence said — an accusation that Russia denies.

    On Wednesday, in a 19-minute address to leaders at the Adriatic Charter Summit meeting, the vice president called Russia an “unpredictable country that casts a shadow from the east.”

    “Russia continues to seek to redraw international borders by force,” Mr. Pence said. “And here in the western Balkans, Russia has worked to destabilize the region, undermine your democracies and divide you from each other and from the rest of Europe.” […]

    Echoing a point made by Montenegro’s prime minister, the vice president said: “NATO is made up of large countries and small countries, but the U.S. has no small allies and we cherish our new alliance with Montenegro through NATO.”

    At a NATO summit meeting in May, Mr. Trump was recorded on video appearing to shove his way past [prime minister] Markovic while making his way to the front of the group for a photograph of the alliance’s leaders.

    I suspect Tucker Carlson had a reason for bringing up Montenegro…

  106. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Think I can get a good night’s sleep dreaming of Sally Yates as AG, with Rep. Adam Schiff as Dept. AG.

  107. Akira MacKenzie says

    I’m angry and tipsy, so excuse the following rant:

    Dear Democrats:

    I’m a less-than 30k/year call center cubicle rat who has to juggle cost-of-living expenses on top of student loan payments. While I know that Trump and the GOP won’t help.me, why should I expect a party that caters only to upper-class, urban professionals, tech sector hipsters, and whatever disenfranchised group is fashionable to pander to at the moment to help me? All I seem to hear from you is ”as a privileged white male, you have nothing to complain about, so shut up and vote for the capitalist-pig-backed ex-First-Lady who tells me that we’re not Dennark?”

  108. says

    “‘That’s going to be special’: Tensions rise as Trump invites Putin to Washington”:

    …Thursday’s announcement was the latest unexpected turn in a week in which Trump has faced a torrent of bipartisan criticism over his cozy approach to Putin and his vacillating utterances about Moscow’s election interference, all while brushing aside warnings that the Russian leader should be viewed as an adversary.

    “The Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media,” Trump wrote in a morning tweet. “I look forward to our second meeting so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed.”

    The tensions within the administration have been most evident between Trump and Coats. When asked in Helsinki whom he believed regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, he appeared to give equal weight to Coats’s warnings and Putin’s denial of Russian interference.

    Inside the White House, Trump’s advisers were in an uproar over Coats’s interview in Aspen, Colo. They said the optics were especially damaging, noting that at moments Coats appeared to be laughing at the president, playing to his audience of the intellectual elite in a manner that was sure to infuriate Trump.

    “Coats has gone rogue,” said one senior White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide a candid assessment.

    Trump’s close guarding of information about his discussions with Putin reflects his anger over leaks earlier this year, according to current and former White House officials.

    He was enraged when it was reported in May that he did not follow specific warnings from his national security advisers and congratulated Putin on his reelection. The warnings from aides included a section in his briefing materials in all-capital letters stating “DO NOT CONGRATULATE.”

    Trump urged senior White House officials to “fire someone,” in the words of one former senior administration official, and mentioned to others the names of low-level National Security Council staffers who he thought could be responsible for the leak.

    Trump has since complained that many within his own government do not want him to have a friendly relationship with Putin and has been skeptical of making others privy to his conversations with the Russian leader — afraid that they will become public, according to the officials….

    Someone’s gone rogue, and it’s not Coats.

  109. blf says

    Terror attacks by Muslims receive 357% more press attention, study finds (I’m will try… try… try to not rant about fecking spurious precision (as steam comes out of his ears)):

    Research by the University of Alabama shows attacks by Muslims receive an average of 105 headlines, others just 15

    Terrorist attacks committed by Muslim extremists receive 357% [grrrrrrr… (calm down, no ranting please)] more US press coverage than those committed by non-Muslims, according to new research from the University of Alabama. […]

    Terrorist attacks committed by non-Muslims (or where the religion was unknown) received an average of 15 headlines, while those committed by Muslim extremists received 105 headlines.

    The findings […] were based on all terrorist attacks in the US between 2006 and 2015 […]. The disparity in media coverage is particularly out of sync with the reality given that white and rightwing terrorists carried out nearly twice as many terrorist attacks as Muslim extremists between 2008 and 2016.

    […]

    Not all headlines have the same audience, though. Lead researcher Erin Kearns explained: “We broke it down by the two different types of sources and we found that the over-coverage is much bigger among national news sources than local papers.”

    […]

  110. blf says

    And speaking of female employees in India(see @153), ‘The right to sit’: Indian law change allows female workers to rest:

    Mainly female workforce in shops not allowed to sit, lean against a wall or use a lift

    Cybil Wilson has worked in one of Kerala’s big, shiny, brightly-lit sari shops for 10 years.

    Her salary at the shop, in Trivandrum, has been consistently low but it is the pain and swelling in her legs that troubles her the most. Her employer forbids Wilson, and the other 120 female sales assistants working across the four floors, from sitting down during a 12–14 hour shift.

    “We can’t use the lifts either. All customers pay on the ground floor for their purchases and we have to accompany them so we are up and down the stairs all day. A few times, when we did use the lift, customers complained about having to share it with us,” said Wilson.

    Now the Kerala government has announced it will amend its labour laws to include a clause obliging employers to let women sit — the result of a fight by a women’s union for “irippu samara” (the right to sit in Malayalam) for these unrepresented shop workers.

    Most owners of sari shops and other retail outlets forbid women, the bulk of the shop workforce, to sit. Even leaning against a wall can be punished. Lunch is 30 minutes. Toilet breaks are strictly limited. Talking to colleagues can lead to salary deductions. Employers monitor CCTV footage to check for compliance.

    The women’s union, called Amtu, was set up by Viji Penkoot, the leader of a women’s collective, Penkootu, when the male-dominated unions in the state ignored the issue.

    […]

    The new law will stipulate a minimum monthly starting salary of 10,000 rupees (£110 [145$]), an eight-hour day, a chair or stool, an afternoon tea break, and a lunch break, with a duration yet to be decided by the Kerala cabinet, be provided.

  111. blf says

    More blame-the-victims punching-downward lying distractions to “justify” Israel’s tactics of indiscriminate slaughter, Danny Ayalon: Palestinians have a culture of terror:

    Ex-Israel deputy FM justifies Israel’s killings of unarmed Palestinians in Gaza, saying they came with harm intention.

    Israel’s former deputy foreign minister has said the group Hamas is solely to blame for the recent bloodshed in the besieged Gaza Strip, claiming that Palestinians represent a culture of terror, while absolving Israeli forces for the killings of more than 130 protesters, journalists and medics at the border.

    Danny Ayalon told Al Jazeera […] the killings by Israeli snipers of unarmed Palestinians, including paramedic Razan al-Najjar and journalist Yasser Murtaja, were unfortunate but justified because they came with harm intention.

    Indeed. Paramedics are exceptionally dangerous. They have sterile dressings ! But they are nothing compared to journalists. Nasty nasty journalists, with cameras & recorders.

    […]
    According to the World Health Organization, hundreds of health personnel and dozens of ambulances have been targeted by Israeli forces since the start of the Great March of Return movement.

    […]

    In the case of al-Najjar, Ayalon claimed the deceased paramedic was carrying and incendiary bomb, but offered no proof for his allegations.

    This mysterious bomb was not mentioned by the Israeli army in their whitewash of a report on the incident. They claim their soldiersexecution squad were not shooting at the paramedic, and she was kill by a ricochet.

    The interview took place before an investigation by the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem concluded that Israeli security forces deliberately shot and killed al-Najjar.

    […]

    He also said the Israeli army did not commit any wrongdoing because it’s not a human rights situation. It’s an area in conflict. It’s an armed conflict.

    In comments that shocked the audience watching his interview, Ayalon later described Palestinians more generally as a culture of terror.

    If you send your kids to schools where they are taught to kill Jews, when you have summer schools with Palestinian kids go with straps, you know like make-believe suicide bombs, this is a culture of terror, he said.

    In the same programme, Diana Buttu, an Israeli-Palestinian, said that Israel is now an “apartheid state” founded on the principle of “Jewish privilege”.

    Ayalon responded, Have you ever been arrested by Israeli police? Have you ever been beaten by Israeli police?

    When she replied, “Yes, actually I have,” he said: You can check the bruises, she is all bruised up, right?

    […]

    The nazi then goes on to bellow with great gobs of flying spittle that (paraphrasing) Iran has become ten times more aggressive since signing the nuclear deal:

    Israeli-British historian Avi Shlaim […] challenged Ayalon’s argument, saying that in the last 40 years, Israel has been conducting a “systematic campaign of disinformation about Iran”.

    Shlaim said that while Iran may be a strategic threat, Israel “poses an existential threat to Iran”.

    Indeed. That long-standing hatred of Iran is one of the drivers behind Saudi Arabia’s fairly quiet cozying-up to Israel, What is behind the covert Israeli-Saudi relations? (Nov-2017): “The covert ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia, based on an alliance against the common threat of Iran, are part of a new regional paradigm, analysts say.”

  112. says

    “League Of The South Reaches Out To ‘Russian Friends’”:

    Amid the controversy over President Trump’s recent summit with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, the neo-Confederate League of the South announced this week that it will soon be introducing a Russian language section to its website.“To our Russian friends,” a missive on the League’s website, is signed by Michael Hill, the group’s president. An excerpt:

    We understand that the Russian people and Southerners are natural allies in blood, culture, and religion. As fellow Whites of northern European extraction, we come from the same general gene pool. As inheritors of the European cultural tradition, we share similar values, customs, and ways of life. And as Christians, we worship the same Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and our common faith binds us as brothers and sisters.

    We Southerners believe in societies based on real, organic factors such as shared blood, culture, and religion, and all that stems naturally from these salient factors in the human experience. As fellow White Christians who are grounded in the sublime traditions of our common European cultural heritage, we believe that the Russian people and the Southern people are natural allies against the destructive and impersonal impulses of globalism.

    Hill, who teaches that the defeat of Nazi Germany was “an unmitigated disaster for Western Christian civilization,” warned in this week’s post that there are “forces that would like to pit us against one another.” He signs off with, “May the God of our Fathers bless our efforts to preserve our peoples and their shared faith and culture.”…

    His inclusion of both Russians and Nazi Germany in the race club would have come as a surprise to the Nazis:

    The Jews and the Slavic peoples were the Untermenschen – subhumans. To Hitler they had no right to live, except as some of them, among the Slavs, might be needed to toil in the fields and the mines as slaves of their German masters. Not only were the great cities of the East, Moscow, Leningrad and Warsaw, to be permanently erased [Leningrad and its entire population “wiped off the face of the earth” per Hitler’s order of September 18, 1941] but the culture of the Russians and Poles and other Slavs was to be stamped out and formal education denied them….

    [Himmler]:

    Whether 10,000 Russian females fall down from exhaustion while digging an antitank ditch interests me only in so far as the antitank ditch for Germany is finished….

    This obsession of the Germans with the idea that they were the master race and that the Slavic peoples must be their slaves was especially virulent in regard to Russia….

    [From William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, MJF Books, pp. 937-9]

    One could almost think white supremacists’ racial, cultural, and religious categories shift opportunistically.

  113. says

    Russian ambassador to the U.S. on Trump’s invitation for Putin to come to Washington this fall: ‘We are ready for a discussion on that topic’.”

    Let me get this straight. Trump, in his rage at Coats and others, rushed to announce the invitation before it had even been accepted, leaving this third-rate autocrat the opportunity to further pressure him and humiliate him and the US by leaving open the possibility the invitation could be declined. Yup, sounds about right.

  114. says

    Michelle Goldberg – “Are Republicans Covering for Trump, or for Themselves?”:

    …This week…a new possibility came into focus. Perhaps, rather than covering for Trump, some Republicans are covering for themselves.

    Last Friday, Robert Mueller, the special counsel, indicted 12 members of Russian military intelligence for their interference in the 2016 election. The indictment claims that in August 2016, Guccifer 2.0, a fictitious online persona adopted by the Russian hackers, “received a request for stolen documents from a candidate for the U.S. Congress.” The Russian conspirators obliged, sending “the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate’s opponent.” Congress has, so far, done nothing discernible to find out who this candidate might be.

    Then, on Monday, we learned of the arrest of Maria Butina, who is accused of being a Russian agent who infiltrated the National Rifle Association, the most important outside organization in the Republican firmament. Legal filings in the case outline a plan to use the N.R.A. to push the Republican Party in a more pro-Russian direction.

    If the N.R.A. as an organization turns out to be compromised, it would shake conservative politics to its foundation. And this is no longer a far-fetched possibility. “I serve on both the Intelligence Committee and the Finance Committee,” Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, told me. “So I have a chance to really look at this through the periscope of both committees. And what I have wondered about for some time is this whole issue of whether the N.R.A. is getting subverted as a Russian asset.”

    This is not a question that Republicans are eager to answer. Before Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee abruptly closed their investigation into Russian election interference, committee Democrats wanted to interview both Butina and Erickson. Their Republican colleagues refused. “If there were efforts towards a back channel towards the N.R.A., they didn’t want to know,” Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat who is the ranking member on the committee, told me. “It was too hot to handle.”

    It is not surprising that Republicans would want to protect the N.R.A. According to an audit obtained by the Center for Responsive Politics, the N.R.A.’s overall spending increased by more than $100 million in 2016….

    Wyden said Republicans on the Intelligence Committee have thwarted his attempts to look deeply into the Russian money trail. “The Intelligence Committee has completely ducked for cover on follow-the-money issues,” he said. (As it happens, Richard Burr, the North Carolina Republican who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, is one of Congress’s leading recipients of N.R.A. support.)

    On Monday, a few hours after news broke of Butina’s arrest, the Treasury Department announced a new rule sparing some tax-exempt groups, including the N.R.A., from having to report their large donors to the I.R.S. Wyden called the move “truly grotesque,” saying it would “make it easier for Russian dark money” to flow into American politics. You might ask who benefits. The answer is: not just Trump.

  115. says

    What Trump said in November 2015:

    [Janet Yellen] should have raised the rates, but she’s not doing it because the Obama administration and the president doesn’t want her to.

    What Trump is saying now:

    I don’t necessarily agree with it [Fed’s two rate hikes this year]. I’m not thrilled, because every time we go up, they want to raise rates again. But at the same time I’m letting them do what they feel is best.

  116. says

    I meant to add this to the quote of Trump’s recent remarks, (see comment 162):

    I don’t like all of this work that we’re putting into the economy and then I see rates going up.

  117. KG says

    SC@157,

    I wouldn’t think Michael Hill’s belief that the defeat of the Nazis was a disaster would go down too well with most Russians either – even Putin-fans. The “Great Patriotic War” is still a major feature in Russian nationalist propaganda.

  118. tomh says

    This sounds like there’s more fun in store.
    NYT: “Michael Cohen Secretly Taped Trump Discussing Payment to Playboy Model”

    WASHINGTON — President Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, secretly recorded a conversation with Mr. Trump two months before the presidential election in which they discussed payments to a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump, according to lawyers and others familiar with the recording. The F.B.I. seized the recording this year during a raid on Mr. Cohen’s office.

  119. blf says

    KG@164, That seems to presume they know about Hill’s rubbish; Believe the reports of Hill’s rubbish; and There is no overwhelming reason to ignore (nor any bright new shiny toy to distract from) Hill’s rubbish. As an analogy, consider the high support for traitor don in the States among evangelicals, despite his “pussy-grabbing” and other abhorrences (children in cages, …): Lots of distractions, and the potential of overturning Roe v Wade.

  120. says

    White House now says it ‘is not considering supporting a referendum in eastern Ukraine’, despite Putin offer.”

    Short statement from the NSC spokesman at the link. Quietly, on Friday afternoon, from an NSC spokesman, at the same time the tape news is breaking.

  121. says

    NEW: There are other tapes of Michael Cohen and other ‘powerful’ individuals that the FBI seized beyond the president but could be embarrassing for the people on the tape and for Cohen, according to a source familiar with the tapes. @DanaBashCNN and @GloriaBorger report.”

  122. says

    More on the newly revealed Cohen tape:

    Maggie Haberman was just on CNN and went farther than her co-bylined New York Times bombshell that Michael Cohen secretly taped Donald Trump discussing payments to Playboy model Karen McDougal, with whom he allegedly had an affair.

    She explained that Trump and Cohen were allegedly talking about both payments from AMI to McDougal, as well as another potential payment from Trump to McDougal, via Cohen.

    The biggest thing we learned from this is that there is a brief recording of Michael Cohen talking to Donald Trump. Michael Cohen was at that time Donald Trump’s personal lawyer. Donald Trump was not the president yet, and they are discussing some details related to payments by AMI, which owns the National Enquirer, to Karen McDougal, a woman who had alleged that she had an affair, with not candidate yet Donald Trump.

    And this conversation had something to do with making an additional payment from Mr. Cohen to Karen McDougal. His lawyer Rudy Giuliani told us that he had on the recording apparently instructed that it be done by check, so that it was done properly, as opposed to cash, that payment we understand was not made.

    Again, the original version of the NYT story wasn’t clear on that point: that the recorded conversation was a discussion of the AMI payment.

    If that’s correct, and there’s no reason to think it’s not, then it puts into play a couple of additional legal and political perils for Trump:

    It recasts the Trump camp’s repeated denial that it knew about payments to McDougal.
    It also makes it look much more like the Trump camp was colluding with AMI — something we’ve suspected, but for which there has not been solid evidence. Until today.

  123. blf says

    Sweden Democrats: How will the far right perform in elections?:

    Concerns over migration drive support for the far right, which is also anti-EU, ahead of September 9 elections.

    Sweden’s far-right party has gained support in the polls as it pushes an agenda focused on refugees and migrants.

    The Sweden Democrats polled at a record high 20 percent in May, according to an Ispos poll in daily Dagens Nyheter, placing their chances at becoming kingmakers in the September 9 elections within the realm of possibility.

    […]

    “It’s particularly sensitive in Sweden, where there is a very strong anti-racist norm in almost all walks of life,” Nicholas Aylott, an associate professor of political science at Sodertorn University, told Al Jazeera.

    “Open expressions of conventional racism are really very rare in Sweden, and the rise of the Sweden Democrats, with its history, is terribly sensitive in Sweden and raises emotions.”

    […]

    Jonas Hinnfors, a political science professor at the University of Gothenburg, [said] the party’s focus on migration allowed them to capitalise on frustrations among parts of the electorate.

    Meanwhile, their Eurosceptic positions are less popular with Swedes.

    […]

    Migration, however, appears to be the driving force for the Sweden Democrats’ surge in popularity.

    “They very well could be kingmakers,” Hinnfors said, explaining that the far-right group had set the tone for electoral debate by dragging other parties into debates about migration.

    If they did so, the Sweden Democrats would exert a far greater influence on policies and would likely continue its tunnel-vision focus on migration.

    In turn, other parties, including the Social Democrats, have adopted a more hardline stance on migration and borders.

    In May, the ruling party announced plans to cut nearly in half the number of refugees and migrants entering the country.

    […]

  124. KG says

    blf@166,
    No, it doesn’t. The conditional form indicates that there is no such assumption. You can see this by sticking “If they heard about it” at either the start or the end of the first sentence in #164. I understand that English conditional forms are particularly tricky for non-native speakers, even if they are fluent.

  125. says

    The discussion on CNN is quite strange. Maggie Haberman’s reporting is completely different from Bash’s and Borger’s. The reports aren’t reconcilable.

  126. KG says

    In May, the ruling party [Sweden’s Social Democrats] announced plans to cut nearly in half the number of refugees and migrants entering the country. – blf@171

    sigh Idiots: you can’t fight fascists on their own ground – they will alwys outbid you.

  127. says

    Nicknamed the “hielera” or icebox, Casa Padre is a hellscape of cruel guards, sickening food, and psychological torture.

    Children are sleeping on floors and being cussed out by guards, subsisting on meager rations of beans, crackers, and tortillas that leave them feeling ill, and passing the nights sleeping on floors under bright lights in a converted Walmart in south Texas.

    The new reports of harsh physical conditions, humiliating psychological abuse, and basic deprivation at the so-called “Casa Padre” facility in Brownsville, Texas, come almost a month after […] Trump took symbolic steps to quash public outcry over his family separation policy aimed at punishing and deterring migrants.

    […] The conditions in which they find themselves today in the world’s richest and most powerful country shock the conscience — and almost certainly violate the conditions of the legal settlement that’s bound American officials in treatment of minors in immigration detention for decades, lawyers say.

    In many cases, the only bathroom the children are allowed to use is located inside their holding pen. […]

    “There is no privacy. It is dirty and they don’t clean it,” reported a Guatemalan boy named Erick. “The room is always cold. The guards took my sweater. I sleep on the floor. There are 3 mattresses, but the boys from Honduras have taken them,” he said, adding that those other boys threaten to stab him if he falls asleep. […]

    Victor A., 17, fled Honduras after his mother was killed. With his father in jail and his mother’s killer still lurking, he told lawyers, he decided to seek safety in the U.S. After officials gave he and the other boys in his cell food, “everyone got sick.” The building is kept very cold and the lights are never turned off. “Last night, there were 10 of us kids in the room, but only 3 mattress pads available,” he told lawyers.

    […] After a friend didn’t pick up when he made the one call he’s allowed per week, the guard near the phones told him, “This is it for you. You’re fucked.” […]

    Multiple children report being warned that they could be “written up” for any perceived transgression, and that such write-ups would go into the permanent file that an immigration judge would later review to determine whether or not their asylum claims were valid. That warning often constitutes the most information anyone has been given by U.S. officials about their legal futures — almost every statement reviewed by ThinkProgress includes a mention of being told to sign papers the detainee didn’t understand because they were written in English. Detainees repeatedly say they have never been told they have any rights or given any information about legal resources that might be available to help them navigate the frightening situation in which they’ve been placed by Trump’s administration. […]

    Think Progress link

    More at the link

  128. blf says

    Dutch FM under fire for discriminatory remarks (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    Foreign Minister Stef Blok calls Suriname ‘a failed state’ and says ethnic divisions are genetically determined.
    […]
    Footage of the speech [at an event for NGOs] was obtained by Zembla, a TV programme focused on investigative journalism.

    Give me an example, of a multiethnic or multicultural society, where the original population are still living as well. {…} And where there are peaceful community relations. I’m not aware of any, Blok [a member of the liberal VVD (the largest party in the Netherlands)] said […]

    After another audience member gave Singapore as an example, Blok said that is only because of Singapore’s strict immigration policy.

    Singapore is indeed a small mini-country, extremely selective in its migration. Extremely selective, the FM said.

    It is very difficult to ‘get in’. They don’t allow any poor migrants in. Well, maybe for cleaning, he added.

    [… lots more spewing vomit from this loon …]

    Green party MP Zihni Ozdil, who is of Turkish descent, said in a post on Facebook that Blok “not only offends people that look like me, but our whole national history and identity”.

    Leader of the far-right PVV party Geert Wilders called Blok a weakling for apologising for his comments and said he completely agreed with Blok’s remarks.

    […]

    Following the publication of the video, Blok said he was sorry for the remarks he made in a letter addressed to the Dutch parliament.

    In the letter, Blok said his comments were merely made to provoke, that his wording was too sharp and that he is sorry if his comments led to anyone being offended.

    A variant in the “dog ate my brain” / “it was just a joke” / “would means wouldn’t” family of not-pologies.

  129. says

    Follow-up to comment 176.

    Jeff Sessions is pushing asylum officers to reject more migrants.
    The next battlefield at the border is in asylum interview rooms.

    […] The administration has treated immigrants who come without papers punitively — separating families for several weeks, seeking to keep families in immigration detention indefinitely, detaining asylum seekers without a chance at parole — in the hopes of deporting them efficiently and deterring other people from coming in.

    Despite the crackdown, the administration still couldn’t eliminate the extra protections in place for asylum seekers, children, and families that the administration calls “loopholes” or “catch and release.”

    But now it may finally have cracked the code. Lawyers representing asylum seekers report that very few of their clients are passing the very first step in the asylum process […] Those rejections consequently set them up to be deported without trial. […]

    Asylum officers have been given instructions by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that are designed to nudge them toward rejecting more migrants. But line officers still have discretion over individual cases — and they don’t necessarily share the administration’s instincts toward mass rejection. […]

    In early June, Attorney General Sessions issued a sweeping decision that had the potential to overhaul asylum policy.

    In the case Matter of A-B-, he overruled an immigration court decision to grant asylum to a woman fleeing domestic violence and police indifference in her home country. In the process, he overruled a 2014 precedent that affirmed that “married women who are afraid to leave their husbands” in a particular country constituted a “particular social class” […]

    And with sweeping rhetoric, Sessions declared that “generally,” people fleeing violence from non-government actors — whether it was domestic or gang violence — should not be granted asylum protections, or even pass their screening interviews. […]

    USCIS’s [US Citizenship and Immigration Services] initial guidance, circulated privately to officers […] emphasized that asylum officers should make decisions on a case-by-case basis […]

    Its final guidance, however — which was unsigned — was much more aggressive. Echoing Sessions’s rhetoric, it deemphasized the need for case-by-case adjudication and made broad claims about what “generally” would or would not be accepted. […]

    […] guidance sent out to asylum officers spelled out that the burden was on the asylum applicant — even in a preliminary screening interview — to show how her case conformed to Sessions’s interpretation of the law. Among other things:
    – The applicant has to, herself, define the particular social group of which she’s a member, and on the basis of which she’s claiming asylum
    […]- She has to show how the group would be clearly recognized within society as a group of people — not just as individuals in particular circumstances, such as “women afraid to leave their husbands”
    – She has to show either that she’s being persecuted by the government, that the government “condoned” the persecution, or that the government “demonstrated a complete helplessness to protect the victim”

    […] the memo erects pretty high barriers to claims of domestic or gang violence […]

    Additionally, it opens the door for asylum officers to deny an asylum seeker if she’s been convicted of illegal entry after crossing into the US between ports of entry […] even if she meets all the above standards. The memo says that officers may decide an illegal entry conviction weighs against deciding to show discretion in an immigrant’s favor. […]

    Vox link.

    Much more at the link.

  130. says

    “Acting CIA watchdog up for top job resigns”:

    The acting watchdog at the CIA, who has been accused of retaliating against whistleblowers, is resigning.

    Christopher Sharpley, whose confirmation as CIA inspector-general was stalled in the Senate, sent a memo to employees at the CIA’s IG office, saying he was stepping down.

    The CIA’s announcement did not say why Sharpley decided to step down, but two attorneys representing former CIA whistleblowers say the allegations that he retaliated against whistleblowers played a key role in his departure.

    Whistleblowers about what?

  131. says

    KG @ #164:

    I wouldn’t think Michael Hill’s belief that the defeat of the Nazis was a disaster would go down too well with most Russians either – even Putin-fans. The “Great Patriotic War” is still a major feature in Russian nationalist propaganda.

    Which Putin manages to promote while simultaneously backing the German far-Right, which dutifully sucks up to him.

  132. says

    “Exclusive: Court documents claim new Arron Banks links with Russia”:

    Brexit backing businessman Arron Banks sought financial help for his diamond mines from Russia, according to claims made in South African court documents obtained by Channel 4 News.

    The documents were written and filed months before recent newspaper revelations of his multiple contacts and meetings with Russians.

    The claims, made by his former business partner and contained in a sworn affidavit, were presented to the high court in Kimberley.

    The court papers, obtained by Channel 4 News, relate to a civil action between Mr Banks’s diamond company, Distribution Rocks, and its partner firm, Supermix. Distribution Rocks is suing Supermix for failing to pay in excess of ZAR 7m he claims is owing to him.

    They allege Mr Banks travelled to Russia and discussed Russian investment in his mines, which were struggling financially.

    The statement of his former business partner says: “I was finally made aware in October [2015] that in truth, Banks had been dealing with Russians who contemplated investing in the mines…. I was informed by Banks that he had travelled to Russia and discussed with them the diamond opportunities as well as gold mining opportunities in Russia. He further indicated that he would be meeting with the Russians again during November [2015].”

    He also claims in the documents that Banks raised money from investors for the mines, but instead put the funds into the Brexit campaign and other interests.

    The claims of Russian involvement were included in the affidavit, which was filed in the court in Kimberley on the 28th of February 2018, months before The Sunday Times and others revealed Mr Banks had had more extensive contact with Russians than he had previously admitted.

    Damian Collins MP, the Chair of the DCMS Select Committee who called Mr Banks to give evidence to the Committee told Channel 4 News: “I think the allegations throw a completely different light on Arron Banks’s relationship with the Russians….”

    “There is also this issue of the bond he sought to raise. Now some people would say that if he is so rich that he can afford to spend millions of pounds on Brexit, why does he have to go running around the world trying to raise money through a bond issue to support his mining interests? So where does Arron Banks’s money really come from?”…

    Peter Geoghegan remarks: “While @Channel4News was looking at Arron Banks’s empty looking South African mines they could have gone the road to Banks’s Lesotho mines, which produced ‘geologically impossible’ diamonds as @openDemocracy reported.” I had linked to his article about Banks’s lies about his Lesotho mines back in April.

  133. says

    “1. Here is a point-by-point explanation of why Rudy Giuliani’s contention that the Trump-Cohen tape is ‘exculpatory’ is completely wrong….”

    Also, I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility that even if they didn’t reimburse AMI directly (and it’s possible they’re lying about that in any event), it was because it became part of some quid pro quo in which AMI, which has been losing money, received that strange, mysterious, and totally shady deal with the regime in Saudi Arabia.

  134. says

    By the way, Lanny Davis bears great personal responsibility for much of the human misery described in Lynna’s #176.

    He’s scum. (It’s something often forgotten about Paul Manafort’s decades of spinning for dictators – the suffering and injustice for which he’s responsible around the world.)

  135. militantagnostic says

    SC @186
    Also, I wouldn’t dismiss the possibility that even if they didn’t reimburse AMI directly (and it’s possible they’re lying about that in any event), it was because it became part of some quid pro quo in which AMI, which has been losing money, received that strange, mysterious, and totally shady deal with the regime in Saudi Arabia.

    I had always thought that is was simply payment for the support for trump and Clinton slander in the National Perspirer. Not sure what the Saudis are getting out of it – possibly Herr Twitler’s efforts to derail attempts to reduce carbon emmisions?

  136. says

    Sean Spicer is dropping some serious cash into Trump’s pocket by renting space in Trump’s hotel:

    Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer is hosting a book launch party at the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C., but will be charged $10,000 to use the space.

    Spicer told The New York Times that the Trump family is charging $10,000 for use of the hotel’s lobby for Spicer’s exclusive invite-only event, which is expected to be attended on Thursday by Cabinet members and other Trump administration officials. […]

  137. Hj Hornbeck says

    If you haven’t heard Rachael Maddow’s analysis of the Cohen tapes, I definitely recommend it. Long story short, it’s almost certain Trump’s legal team leaked the existence of that tape. Why? A) it disrupts the news cycle about whether or not Trump is compromised by the Kremlin, B) it prevents Cohen from giving the tape to prosecutors in return for leniency, C) as Cohen can’t talk about any of his tapes (see SC’s 187), Trump’s legal team can control the narrative over what those tapes say for months, and D) Trump may be convinced he’ll never have to deal with the many legal entanglements caused by the tape because of Brent Kavanaugh.

    It’s quite diabolical, if Maddow’s analysis is correct.

  138. blf says

    Excepting that people are being killed (and other serious (and mostly directly-related) problems), this would be hilarious, Nicaragua: Ortega blames satanic sect for uprising against his rule :

    […]
    Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega has hit out at what he has claimed is a murderous, coup-mongering satanic sect behind a three-month uprising against his rule that has left more than 300 dead.

    There is growing international consensus that Ortega’s own forces and pro-government militias are responsible for the overwhelming majority of the violence that has gripped Nicaragua since protests erupted in April.

    However, during a pro-government rally in Managua on Thursday, Ortega sought to shift blame for the bloodshed on to the diabolical force he claimed was part of a US-backed conspiracy to topple him.

    […]

    Ortega has faced growing international condemnation over the killings in recent days, including from one-time supporters.

    Uruguay’s former leftwing president, José Mujica, this week said he feared the Sandinista dream had strayed into autocracy, adding: “There are times in life when you must say: ‘I’m off’.”

    Thirteen Latin American countries — Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay — have denounced “the acts of violence, intimidation and the threats directed towards Nicaraguan society”.

    That criticism coincides with what observers call an intensifying government propaganda campaign intended to blunt growing international pressure.

    […]

    As others have noted, traitor don seems to adore authoritarians — which one notable exception, those in Central / South America† — Strongmen Have the Edge With Trump. Why Not Maduro?:

    […]
    Mr Trump cannot seem to abide strongmen when it comes to Latin America. On Cuba policy, Mr Trump reversed the rapprochement — President Barack Obama’s chief legacy in Latin America — with renewed sanctions “until freedoms are restored.” Soon after the 2016 election, Mr Trump celebrated the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s death and has used aggressive rhetoric against Fidel’s brother Raul Castro […].

    This exception is similarly evident in Venezuela, which is in desperate straits and where an almost two-decade slide into dictatorship culminated in a brazenly stolen election in May. (While Venezuela’s sham election was rightly condemned, Russia’s, two months earlier, elicited a congratulatory phone call from the president [sic].) Indeed, Mr Trump reportedly discussed invading Venezuela to forcefully remove the strongman Nicolás Maduro from power. Fortunately, White House advisers and Latin American leaders told the president [sic] repeatedly that threatening military action would be unwise and counterproductive.

    Mr Trump, though not known for consistency, seems to view the region as fertile ground to impose his will without any cost, as the United States’ strategic prerogative and backyard. Such an outmoded mind-set marks a sharp reversal to what had been a welcome tendency in the post-Cold War era to treat countries in the region as equal partners.

    Last February, for instance, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called the Monroe Doctrine […] as relevant today as it was the day it was written while paradoxically calling China’s growing presence in the region imperial.

    […]

      † In general, that is. As the excerpted opinion column notes, traitor don and teh dalekocracy do seem to adore the authoritarians in, e.g., Honduras. For example, US recognizes re-election of Honduras president despite fraud allegations: “The United States has recognized the re-election of Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández, despite widespread allegations of fraud in last month’s election and calls from the Organization of American States (OAS) and US Congress to hold a new vote.”

  139. Oggie. says

    There are lots of internet rules out there. I hereby propose a new one:

    THE TRUMP RULE: No matter how bad you think it is going to get, no matter how completely you think Trump will screw it up, no matter how omnincompetent this President and his advisers appears to be, he, and/or his cronies, will find a way to be worse on every level than you could possibly have imagined in your worst anchovy-pizza and twelve-way-chocolate-ice-cream fueled nightmares. The Trump Rule: No matter how bad you think it could get, he will be worse.

  140. blf says

    ● The Pence Corollary to the Trump Postulate†: Pence is worse. And slightly more competent. Therefore, should teh evil one disappear, it will get worse, very very worse.

    ● Teh Thug Conjecture to the Pence Corollary: As long as there is any elected Republican anywhere, it must get worse.

    ● The Dummie Conjecture to teh Thug Conjecture: The resistance will fail to bury their differences (split and dilute their vote), or not vote, and hand victory after victory to teh thugs.

    ● Teh Co-opted Corollary to the Dummie Conjecture: After several thug victories, the probability that only the dummies or other non-thugs which do happen to be elected are indistinguishable from thugs approaches one.

    Please note a Postulate is an axiom, a statement which is trivially obvious and needs no proof; A Corollary is something which automatically / trivially follows from a true / proven statement; and A Conjecture is a plausible hypothesis, whilst not (yet) proven, it seems to be true. These terms were used very deliberately in the above naming.

      † I refuse to call it the (as proposed @194) “trump rule”, as that can be construed as, e.g., “trump rules” or “trump’s rules” or similar.

  141. blf says

    Hadley Freeman, writing in the Gruaniad, Marching with my mother: why the anti-Trump march was the perfect day out (all emphasis in the original):

    […]
    We arranged to meet outside John Lewis. As I waited for my mother in the midday sun, I thought about the other times we’d come here, just the two of us: shopping for school jumpers and, later, bedding for university, which included an enormously angst-ridden search for the perfect conversation-starter duvet cover that would convey my fun-loving ways, artistic soul and effortlessly cool attitude in one striking image. That image, I can exclusively reveal without the slightest retrospective regret, was Garfield the cat. Twenty years later, my mother and I were on Oxford Street again because of another orange cartoon creature.

    We never actually discussed going to the anti-Trump protests. It was so much of a given that on the Friday morning we texted: “Time?” “Starts 12.30. 12.15 Oxford St?” “John Lewis?” “Y.” Should the police ever seize my phone, they will assume I am a spy, or at the very least a drug dealer, as opposed to someone who gets their political righteousness on with a person they know so well that full sentences are unnecessary.

    My family moved to London decades ago, yet time cannot wither my mother’s midwest accent, nor London stale her infinite Americanness. As we walked towards the protest, my mother, in a carefully chosen red, white and blue outfit, stopped people to take photos of their placards, so she could put them on Facebook and show her friends in the US: “Oh my gawd, his sign is a stitch! Look at that one, sweetie! But what is ‘a berk?’” If the US embassy was right, that Americans in London were best off keeping a low profile on the day of the Trump march, then we were in mortal peril.

    Yet we didn’t feel it. Only those whose job depends on assuaging the feelings of a giant man baby could pretend that the march was against America, not Trump, and mine does not. In fact, it was striking how many other Americans were on it, declaring their Americanness through their placards, which lacked a little when it came to British wit and irony, but compensated with good ol’ American earnestness (“American and angry!” “I pay my taxes — how about YOU, Donald?”).

    […]

    We started with the political chat: wasn’t it embarrassing that Britain even had to protest this tragic D-list minor celebrity who had somehow become leader of the free world? (Yes.) Wasn’t it insane that he was even still a thing, when we both remembered him as a local Manhattan joke in the 1980s, a property developer who tried to flog junk bonds? (Yes.) Was there even any point in protesting if the British prime minister was so craven, she still held his tiny racist hand? (Yes yes yes.) […]

    All around us, British protesters chanted, full of certainty that America deserves a better leader — the land of Lincoln! Roosevelt! Kennedy! […] Someone from the Socialist Workers party approached us offering pamphlets, protesting about Trump’s racism. “That’s all you can protest about him, given that you’re anti-Nato and anti-EU, just like him,” I snarled at the hapless activist. “Surely you’re thrilled he won the presidency instead of Clinton!”

    Oh gads, I’d managed to mostly-forget all about those loons. They are not, to the best of my now-faded recollection, racist, but that is almost-all I can say which is supportive of them. Otherwise, they are an embarrassment. Think Lyndon LaRouche for a States-side analogy (albeit I don’t believe they claim Ms Windsor controls the world’s illicit drugs trade): Take an old, albeit still valid, point (e.g., industrial-military complex), throughly misunderstand it, and extend that misunderstanding so far it can (to borrow a phrase from Terry Prachett) “see the curvature of the universe”. Then do hyper-dimensional back-flips to “explain”-away the contradictions and counter-evidence.

    […] Media helicopters hovered overhead and the collective mood was joyful. My mother and I fell silent, genuinely moved to see all these British people partaking in a fight that so many Americans feel exhausted by. […]

  142. blf says

    Putin assets working teh thugs, Nigel Farage flies under radar to support Trump-backed Senate candidate:

    […]
    Nigel Farage did not so much sweep as creep into Pennsylvania on Friday, for a low-key appearance at a fundraiser for a Trump-supporting Republican Senate candidate that illustrated the toxicity of the US immigration debate.

    The former leader of the [Ukip] was in Harveys Lake to attend a private event for Lou Barletta, a Republican congressman who as mayor of nearby Hazleton vowed to make the city one of the toughest places in the United States.

    Farage’s presence was presumably meant to draw donors for Barletta’s struggling campaign for the US Senate, against incumbent Democrat Bob Casey. The fundraiser was closed to the press, however, after Barletta spent days distancing himself from the Brexit talisman, who Casey’s campaign portrayed as an extremist.

    Perhaps aware of this, Farage had been unusually reluctant to talk about his latest American adventure.

    [… I]t seemed they may have overestimated the allure of Farage and Barletta. There were no protests and the scale of the police presence — at least 10 cars were stationed near the house — seemed a little heavy. The Guardian was the only media present.

    […]

    Farage managed to upset some people before he arrived. The manager of the yacht club next door was unimpressed to be told attendees would be parking their cars on his property. He acted swiftly, hiring a security guard to turn people away.

    Instead, a minibus — albeit a high-end one, with blacked-out windows and a driver wearing a bow-tie — ferried guests from a church carpark about half a mile away. For people so eager to attend a party with Nigel Farage, few seemed to want to talk about it. A series of attendees gave the Guardian short shrift.

    […]

    Better luck came when Barletta arrived. One of the first politicians to support Donald Trump’s presidential run, his backing seems to have extended to adopting the president’s [sic] look: white teeth, deep tan.

    Barletta […] strode up to the wooden front door. Unfortunately, guests had been entering via a driveway to the side. As the Senate candidate wavered the Guardian was able to ask him why he was so keen to appear with Farage.

    Barletta turned, looking a little bewildered. He seemed about to say something when a police officer, possibly keen to have something to do, sprinted across the road and shouted at the Guardian to get off the driveway.

    An hour after the party there had been no sign of Farage. Women in dresses and men in chinos continued to be dropped off while police stood around, trying to escape the sun.

    Thankfully, some members of the yacht club, which overlooked the party, were able to confirm Farage had been present. Pictures taken by a college-paper photographer showed the British politician smiling gaily […] in the company of Barletta and Mississippi governor Phil Bryant.

    […]

    For all the fuss, bluster and policing, those photographs[] were the only evidence Farage had ever been there.

    From Judge Voids Ordinance on Illegal Immigrants (July 2007(! — kook Barletta has been bellowing for over a decade); link embedded in above excerpt):

    […]
    Judge [James M] Munley ruled that ordinances first passed last July by the Hazleton City Council interfered with federal law, which regulates immigration, and violated the due process rights of employers, landlords and illegal immigrants.

    […]

    The judge emphasized that illegal immigrants had the same civil rights as legal immigrants and citizens.

    […]

    Mr Barletta, the Hazleton mayor, has championed the city’s ordinances because he said illegal immigrants had unleashed a crime wave in Hazleton and had overburdened health and other public services.

    At the nine-day trial in March, ACLU lawyers worked as hard to debunk those claims as they did to undercut the city’s legal arguments. They showed that 4 of 428 violent crimes in Hazleton in the last six years could be attributed to illegal immigrants.

    “This opinion should be a glaring red stop light for any local officials thinking about passing similar laws,” said Witold Walczak, the lead ACLU lawyer in the case.

    […]

    Mr Barletta and his campaign against illegal immigrants have remained popular in Hazleton, a faded coal-mining center 80 miles northwest of Philadelphia that has recently seen a manufacturing revival. In a mayoral primary in May, Mr Barletta handily won both the Republican and the Democratic nominations.

    Both the thug & dummie nominations ! Perhaps the good news is he’s now lagging by c.16% in the current midterm congressional campaign.

      † Some of the photographs — which are credited to Eric Davies — are at the link. The Grauniad does not seem to identify the college paper Mr Davies (presumably) was photographing-for, and an admittedly quick search is inconclusive.

  143. blf says

    Steve Bannon plans foundation to fuel far right in Europe:

    Former White House chief advisor says he wants to rival to George Soros’s influence

    [… He] told the Daily Beast that he wanted to offer a rightwing alternative to George Soros’s Open Society Foundation, which has given away $32bn to largely liberal causes since it was established in 1984.

    […]

    The foundation, which Bannon said would be called The Movement, will offer polling, advice on messaging and data targeting and research to a network of rightwing parties across Europe […].

    Bannon has met rightwing politicians across the continent in the past 12 months, including Ukip’s former leader, Nigel Farage, members of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National in France[] and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán.

    He told the Daily Beast that he envisioned a supergroup within the European parliament that could supply as many as a third of MEPs after next May’s Europe-wide elections. He also said he planned to spend half of his time in Europe once the US midterm elections are over in November.

    […]

    The article also claims: “His campaign to replace dozens of Republican incumbents in the Senate with new blood has largely run into the ground.” I suppose that’s possible, but there is still a probably of some thugs winning (both incumbents and new frothering-at-the-mouthers).

    (Annoyingly, there doesn’t seem to be a link or clear citation to the Daily Beast’s report in the above-excerpted article. I realise it is (probably) easy-to-find at the moment, but as time passes (e.g., a few months from now), that quite possibly won’t be the case.)

      † Bannon spoke at the le penazi’s convention earlier this year.

  144. says

    Taking down the wall that separates church and state in the USA:

    The House voted Thursday to make it harder for the government to punish churches that get involved in politics.

    In a 217-199 vote, lawmakers approved legislation barring the IRS from revoking the tax-exempt status of churches that back political candidates, unless it is specifically approved by the commissioner of the agency.

    The provision, buried in a budget measure setting IRS funding for the upcoming year, amounts to a backdoor way around the so-called Johnson amendment, a half-century-old prohibition on nonprofits getting involved in political campaign activities.

    Nonprofits denounced the measure, and noted it came only days after the Treasury Department announced it was dropping requirements that most charitable organizations disclose their big donors to the IRS. […]

    Politico link

    In other news, blf in comment 196, thanks for posting that. It was a good read, and provided personal insight into the protests against Trump that were held in London.

    blf @197 and 198, I know that Farage and Bannon are flying hither and thither to goad extreme right wingers into action, but I also see the celebrity status of both men diminishing. May their influence also wane.

  145. says

    Follow-up to 199.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] imagine if a foreign government, eager to secretly help put a specific candidate in power, decided to start funneling money to specific churches, knowing that those ministries would in turn use the resources to support that candidate. The churches would never have to disclose any of this, and the public would be kept in the dark.

    The GOP proposal fixes a problem that doesn’t exist. There’s no public demand for such a change, and there’s no reason to create this campaign-finance nightmare.

    But the efforts continue anyway. This week wasn’t the first time House Republicans approved a change to the status quo, but in each previous instance, the Senate has balked. We’ll see soon enough whether this time is any different.

  146. says

    Follow-up to Hj @192.

    Trump’s response seems to be to dump Cohen. For good this time?

    Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of. Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!

    First, there was no “break into” Cohen’s office. A legally obtained warrant allowed entry into the office (and other places), and it allowed the seizure of documents, etc. Trump continues to repeat “break in” as if the Southern District of NY had done something criminal.

    Also, Cohen was a less a “lawyer” than a “fixer.” A vanishingly small amount of the material taken by investigators was deemed to be in the “privileged” category thanks to attorney-client privilege.

    And, yes, Cohen can tape Trump.

    […] New York is a “one-party” consent state, meaning recordings can legally be made without anyone else’s knowledge.

    CNN reported on Friday that Cohen — well known for quietly recording conversations — taped several discussions he had with Trump, including a phone call about a payment that was made to a former Playboy model who has said she had a longterm sexual relationship with Trump.

    Trump reportedly did not know about the recordings, which are now in the FBI’s possession, and was hurt when he heard of their existence.

    “I can’t believe Michael would do this to me.” […]

    Link

    Hair Furor’s feelings are hurt.

  147. says

    Riffing off the lyrics of a song from the Beatles, someone put up a large sign reading:

    When I find myself in tweets o’ trouble, Mother Russia comes to me, speaking words of wisdom … covfefe!

    Link

  148. says

    This news has made for some memorable headlines. As part of the new, Trumpian reality in the USA, the “Manhattan Madam” has been added to the Russia probe. Mueller has subpoenaed Kristin Davis, the infamous “Manhattan Madam” who also is a former Roger Stone aide.

    Roger Stone is spinning this as harassment of him. More details:

    […] Davis was jailed for running a prostitution ring that was used by New York governor Elliot Spitzer, who resigned in 2008 after he was caught admitting he was a client. Stone managed Davis’ short-lived 2010 gubernatorial campaign in New York.

    Stone suggested Mueller’s subpoena of Davis could be payback for his reporting on Infowars during an appearance on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 Friday night:

    “In my view, in all honesty, this is a fishing expedition. Perhaps it is the payback for the fact that I broke the story yesterday on Infowars that Tony Podesta has been, that the special counsel has asked for immunity for him in the Manafort investigation, or the Manafort prosecution. I know that has not yet been reported on CNN, but I reported it yesterday at Infowars. I have multiple sources. Fox has also reported it. I believe it to be true. Perhaps this is payback for that.”

    Think Progress link

    Manhattan Madam link: https://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/manhattan-madam-kristin-davis-prison

  149. says

    Oh, no. Not another Roy-Moore type of pedophile. Birds of a feather?

    Failed Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore was endorsed by Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin despite numerous accusations of Moore’s inappropriate sexual behavior with minors. Now Entrekin has also been accused of having sex with underage girls.

    AL.com, the publication that broke much of the news regarding Moore’s alleged sexual misconduct, reports Entrekin is under investigation after being accused of sexual misconduct at “drug-fueled parties he hosted for fellow law enforcement officers and other adult men in the early nineties.” […]

    Link

  150. says

    Sheesh! The number of immigrant children being detained in Texas continues to rise!

    A new report in The Texas Tribune found that despite a federal court order that immigrant children separated from their families be reunited with their parents, the number of of youngsters being detained in the state is on the rise.

    According to The Tribune, the number of children housed in Texas shelters rose from 4,919 on June 21 to 5,024 on July 13. This includes both immigrant children who arrived at the border unaccompanied and children that were separated from their families by federal authorities.

    The report says that there are applications for up to four additional shelters to be built in Texas. The shelters would be built to “care for unaccompanied boys and girls up to 17 years old or as young as infants.”

    These findings come on the heels of the Trump administration’s claims that it has reunited hundreds of children with their families. The administration claims it currently has 2,551 immigrant children between the ages of 5 and 17 in its care who were separated from their parents under Trump’s zero-tolerance policy. So far, only 364 of those children have been reunited.

    Children currently being held also face extremely harsh living conditions. Previous reporting has found that some children are being housed in vacant warehouses, while others are being sent to unsafe homes. […]

    Think Progress link

    Joy Reid mentioned today that she would be covering this story in more depth tomorrow morning. Good.

  151. says

    From Adam Davidson, writing for The New Yorker:

    The former C.I.A. operative Jack Devine watched Donald Trump’s performance standing next to Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday, and his first thought was, “There is no way Trump is a Russian agent.” The proof, he told me, was right in front of us. If Trump were truly serving as a Russian intelligence asset, there would have been an obvious move for him to make during his joint press conference with Putin. He would have publicly lambasted the Russian leader, unleashing as theatrical a denunciation as possible. He would have told Putin that he may have been able to get away with a lot of nonsense under Barack Obama, but all that would end now: America has a strong President and there will be no more meddling. Instead, Trump gave up his single best chance to permanently put to rest any suspicion that he is working to promote Russian interests.

    […] Trump shows no signs that he can be gratified by secret triumphs. He seems to need everyone, everywhere, to see whatever it is that he thinks deserves praise. His need for public attention is a trait that would likely cause most spies to avoid working with Trump.

    There is no need to assume that Trump was a formal agent of Russian intelligence to make sense of Trump’s solicitousness toward Putin. Keith Darden, an international-relations professor at American University, has studied the Russian use of kompromat—compromising material—and told me that he thinks it is likely that the President believes the Russians have something on him. “He’s never said a bad word about Putin,” Darden said. “He’s exercised a degree of self-control with respect to Russia that he doesn’t with anything else.” Darden said that this is evidence that Trump isn’t uniformly reckless in his words: “He is capable of being strategic. He knows there are limits, there are bounds on what he can say and do with respect to Russia.” […]

    Darden believes it is unlikely that sexual kompromat would be effective on Trump. Allegations of sexual harassment, extramarital affairs, and the payment of hush money to hide indiscretions have failed to significantly diminish the enthusiasm of Trump’s core supporters. But another common form of kompromat—proof of financial crimes—could be more politically and personally damaging.

    Trump has made a lot of money doing deals with businesspeople from the former Soviet Union, and at least some of these deals bear many of the warning signs of money laundering and other financial crimes. […]

    […] skeptical that Putin, years ago, ordered an effort to collect kompromat on Trump. Instead, it is possible that there is kompromat in the hands of several different business groups in the former Soviet Union. Each would have bits and pieces of damaging information and might have found subtle (or not so subtle) ways to communicate that fact to both Trump and Putin. Putin would likely have gathered some of that material […]

    If everyone sees potential land mines everywhere, it dramatically increases the price for anybody stepping out of line.

    The scenario that, to my mind, makes the most sense of the given facts and requires the fewest fantastical leaps is that, a decade or so ago, Trump, naïve, covetous, and struggling for cash, may have laundered money for a business partner from the former Soviet Union or engaged in some other financial crime. […] He fears there is kompromat out there—maybe a lot of it—but he doesn’t know precisely what it is, who has it, or what might set them off. […]

  152. says

    From Jonathan Blitzer, writing for The New Yorker:

    In ICE detention, parents who were seeking asylum due to threats of violence or harm back home are being pressured to abandon their claims.

    The article provides a lot more detail than my excerpt posted here shows. It’s worth reading.

    […] I received a phone call from Linda Corchado, an immigration attorney in El Paso, Texas. One of her clients, a Honduran asylum seeker in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who had been separated from her two children for more than a month, was being moved to a new detention facility. Abrupt transfers sometimes signal the start of the deportation process. But ice hadn’t said anything to Corchado ahead of the move. She spent the weekend calling and e-mailing ice officials, as well as staff at the Honduran consulate, to try to get more information. “I thought my client was supposed to be covered by a judge’s order,” she told me, in reference to an injunction, issued late last month, by Dana Sabraw, a federal judge in San Diego […]

    The government had already missed one of the judge’s deadlines, set for last week, to reunite parents with children under the age of five. Corchado’s client was proof of this: she crossed the border with two daughters, a sixteen-year-old and a two-year-old. Fearing that her client might be deported before being reunited with them, Corchado got in touch with the American Civil Liberties Union […] Corchado wasn’t the only lawyer to contact the A.C.L.U. with such a story. On Monday morning, the A.C.L.U. filed an emergency motion, and in response Sabraw issued a stay, blocking, for one week, the deportation of adults who were supposed to be reunited with their children.

    The judge’s additional intervention was an acknowledgement that simply telling the government to reunite families wasn’t enough to make it actually happen. […] lawyers had worried about parents who were agreeing to voluntary departure—essentially, deportation—either because they were distraught after being separated from their kids, confused, or misled to believe that they would see their children sooner if they agreed to sign whatever forms the government put in front of them. […]

    “People were told, ‘You don’t have the option to seek asylum and be reunited with your children,’ ” [said] Gracie Willis. […] “The government plan is to deport parents who have final orders of removal and then the parents will decide whether to leave their children behind,” Lee Gelernt, of the A.C.L.U., told me.

    […] “From my very first day in detention, agents said, in front of my daughters, that I was a criminal,” [Wendy Santos] told me. “They said I was going to jail, that they were going to deport me. I said to one of them, ‘If you promise me that I won’t be separated from my children, I’ll sign whatever you want.’ But he said to me, ‘No, you’re a criminal. You’re going to jail first.’ ” A few days later, from a federal prison in New Mexico, Santos managed to call her longtime boyfriend, Miguel Calix. […] Together, they agreed that Santos should pursue her asylum claim while Calix tried to get the girls out of government custody. When he called a caseworker at the shelter, however, she told him that immigration authorities wouldn’t allow it. “I am a U.S. citizen with no criminal record,” Calix told me. “And yet I couldn’t reclaim my own daughter from the government.” […]

  153. says

    Charles bethea, writing for The New Yorker, explains that Trump’s steel tariffs are already causing damage:

    [Stuart Speyer is thepresident of Tennsco Corporation] His father founded the company in 1962, and it now counts seven hundred workers and reports annual revenues of more than a hundred million dollars. The company’s products include lockers, filing cabinets, bookcases, shelving, and library stacks—all of which count sheet metal among their primary components.

    ”Ninety-nine per cent” of the steel that Speyer buys, he recently explained to me, is manufactured by domestic suppliers, including Nucor, the biggest steelmaker in the U.S. This year, Nucor posted second-quarter profits twice as large as those it made during the same period in 2017—and 2017 had already been a great year for the steel business. Trump’s tariffs on imported steel are helping Nucor and others keep their prices high: a boon for steelmakers but a major concern for steel consumers like Tennsco.

    “I don’t mind them making profits,” Speyer told me. “I believe in profits. But nobody is thinking of us consumers of steel downstream. There are scores of downstream jobs for every job in the steel industry. So we may save steel jobs, but there’s a lot more jobs at stake for steel consumers.” He added, “I’m not a happy camper.”

    Steel usually accounts for a third of Tennsco’s manufacturing costs […] Last year, Speyer said, he bought forty thousand tons of steel. “For every penny the price of steel goes up per pound, we pay eight hundred thousand dollars more for steel annually,” he told me. “And now we’re talking a fifteen-cent increase for hot roll and ten cents for cold roll” […] “The cost we have to largely pass on is over ten million dollars. We can’t absorb it.” […]

    “The U.S. steel industry is already highly insulated from foreign competition with over 160 trade actions in place limiting importing of steel.” […] U.S. steel was priced sixty-five-per-cent higher than the world export-market price and eighty-per-cent higher than China’s price: an untenable gap for U.S. steel consumers. [Those gaps have recently increased.] […]

    “Let us hope cooler minds will prevail in Washington and a reasonable solution can be found to the trade dispute. I fear much of the damage will not be easily undone. […] It also would not hurt to reach out to your elected officials and express your concerns.” […]

    Craig Umans is the president and C.E.O. of Pipp Mobile Storage Systems [said], “This President might save two hundred jobs in a steel mill,” he said, of Trump, “while impacting some twenty thousand jobs downstream. There’s such a disconnect there.” […] “We make the best effort to buy U.S. when we can,” he told me. “But we do business with China as well. You have to these days. You can’t help it. […] I hope I’m not forced to move completely to an Asia supplier.”

  154. blf says

    blf in comment 196, thanks for posting that. It was a good read, and provided personal insight into the protests against Trump that were held in London.

    Thanks. The authour, Ms Freeman, is one of my favourite Granuiad writers, along with Gary Younge and several others. She started(?) as a fashion journalist, and still writes a weekly(?) fashion column, which I’ve excerpted here previously on several occasions due to her snarking or spot-on comments about econ-/politi-fashionist absurdities. For some years now, she’s also been writing on other subjects.

      ─────────────────────────

    Chris Riddell in the Grauniad, All behind you, Boris Johnson (cartoon): “After the foreign secretary’s resignation, Chris Riddell gives his own take on David Low’s famous cartoon of Winston Churchill“.

    There’s quite a lot of reader’s comments, but this one immediately caught my eye:

    ● “Never in the field of human conflict was so much damage done to so many by so few.”
      In reply: “The 99% should learn how to control the 1%, as opposed to being manipulated by it.”

      ─────────────────────────

    Also in the Grauniad, Martin Rowson on Donald Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin (cartoon). As usual with a Rowson cartoon, well worth a close study. (I haven’t yet worked out all the jabs myself.) It’s loosely-based on Édouard Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe.

  155. says

    In an unprecedented move, the FBI released a redacted version of the 400-page FISA application for a warrant to surveil Carter Page.

    Spoiler alert, the document debunks all of the major Republican talking points, rebuts Carter Page’s claims, and shows Devin Nunes to be a clown:

    The document blows the Devin Nunes memo out of the water.

    The document confirms, once again, that the rightwing talking point claiming that the FISA warrant was based on the Steele dossier is both ignorant and wrong.

    The document confirms, again, that Carter Page certainly should have been surveilled:

    The FBI believes that Page has been collaborating and conspiring with the Russian government. There is probable cause that such activities involve or are about to involve violations of the criminal statutes of the United States.

    The document confirms that four (4!) Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judges all appointed by Republican presidents approved the FISA warrant

    The document debunks the rightwing talking point that the judges were not properly informed concerning the Steele dossier:

    […] as Lawfare’s David Kris noted, “the footnote disclosing Steele’s possible bias takes up more than a full page in the applications, so there is literally no way the FISA Court could have missed it.”

    The document confirms that Page had left the Trump campaign before the FISA warrant went into effect.

    Nevertheless, Trump tweeted this nonsense at about 4:48 AM today:

    Congratulations to @JudicialWatch and @TomFitton on being successful in getting the Carter Page FISA documents. As usual they are ridiculously heavily redacted but confirm with little doubt that the Department of “Justice” and FBI misled the courts. Witch Hunt Rigged, a Scam!
    ————-
    Looking more & more like the Trump Campaign for President was illegally being spied upon (surveillance) for the political gain of Crooked Hillary Clinton and the DNC. Ask her how that worked out – she did better with Crazy Bernie. Republicans must get tough now. An illegal Scam!
    ——————
    Andrew McCarthy – “I said this could never happen. This is so bad that they should be looking at the judges who signed off on this stuff, not just the people who gave it. It is so bad it screams out at you.” On the whole FISA scam which led to the rigged Mueller Witch Hunt!
    ————-
    .@PeteHegseth on @FoxNews “Source #1 was the (Fake) Dossier. Yes, the Dirty Dossier, paid for by Democrats as a hit piece against Trump, and looking for information that could discredit Candidate #1 Trump. Carter Page was just the foot to surveil the Trump campaign…” ILLEGAL!

    From Talking Points Memo:

    […] The New York Times and Washington Post both noted that they hadn’t found another example of a FISC warrant application that had been released publicly since the enactment of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act four decades ago.

    Link

  156. blf says

    Dozens Of White Houses Materialize From Temporal Vortex As Trump’s Changing Account Of Putin Meeting Tears Apart Space-Time (quoted in full):

    Revealing that the physical world could no longer bear the weight of numerous contradictory realities, sources confirmed Friday that dozens of Whites Houses have begun to leak from a temporal vortex as President Trump’s rapidly changing story of meeting Putin tears apart space-time. “A White House is blinking in and out of reality atop the Washington Monument, and another has materialized inside the wall of a Georgetown apartment building — it appears the fourth dimensional plane is collapsing in on itself as Trump’s untenable, competing statements rupture the very foundation of time and relativity,” said astrophysicist Maria Steagall, who confirmed an entire unit of the Army National Guard was instantly vaporized attempting to enter the vortex, and several members of the White House press corps were reportedly stretched out for the entire length of the Milky Way Galaxy and then collapsed to the size of a single atom after simply trying to make sense of the president’s conflicting remarks. “One witness reported seeing 6,000 Mike Pences pouring out of a small wormhole in the Cabinet room before suddenly vanishing. Countless universes are colliding and folding over each other every time Trump disputes his earlier statements; this is one of the greatest traumas the fabric of the universe has suffered since the Big Bang. In fact, the sheer heat being created by all these Putin stories battling each other to stabilize space-time may cause a black hole to form at the Earth’s core, causing the planet to implode.” At press time, scientists studying the vortex had confirmed that Trump was President in every single Earth reality and would be forever.

    The mildly deranged penguin claims The Onion is being uncharacteristically subdued and mild.

  157. says

    From Adam Peck, writing for Think Progress: The only thing the newly released FISA documents show is that Republicans have been lying for months.

    Excerpt:

    Oddly, both Donald Trump and Carter Page tried to spin Saturday’s disclosure as some kind of victory. Several members of the far-right fringe in Congress — led by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) — lied to the public several months ago via a memo that falsely asserted the FBI sought the warrant on the sole basis of the infamous Steele dossier […]

    As Democrats and the FBI later disclosed — and as Saturday’s release makes clear — the dossier was far from the only evidence provided to the FISA court, and its inclusion contained a lengthy caveat noting the politicized nature and unsubstantiated claims contained within the document. Incidentally, several of the allegations contained in the dossier have since been verified. On Sunday, CNN’s Jake Tapper invited Page to respond to Saturday’s revelations, and it took exactly one question for him to trip over the facts of the case.

    “The document accuses you of being an ‘agent of a foreign power.’ Were you?,” asked Tapper.

    “Jake, this is so ridiculous, it’s just beyond words,” said Page. “You know, it’s — you’re talking about misleading the courts. It’s just so misleading, going through those 400-plus page documents, where do we even begin? It’s literally a complete joke, and it only continues. It’s just really sad.”

    After more stammering, Page finally got around to a “no,” before immediately admitting that he had, in fact, served as an advisor to the Kremlin and met several times with Russian officials during multiple trips to Russia over a period of years leading up to and including 2016.

    Page went on to claim that the courts were misled by the FBI, alleging the agency knowingly relied on incorrect or incomplete information in seeking their warrant. He offered no basis for those allegations however, and the documents released on Saturday in fact make it clear that the FBI was very forthright about the sourcing of its information. […]

    More at the link.

  158. says

    blf @209:

    Chris Riddell in the Grauniad, All behind you, Boris Johnson (cartoon): “After the foreign secretary’s resignation, Chris Riddell gives his own take on David Low’s famous cartoon of Winston Churchill“.

    Ha! That was hilarious, especially when compared to David Low’s cartoon. Perfect.

    In other news, Trump is reportedly fuming over North Korea’s failure to honor his handshake.

    […] Among experts on North Korea, there was near universal agreement that Donald Trump’s much ballyhooed summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was a colossal failure and an utter waste of time.

    The joint statement signed by both leaders contained exactly zero new commitments, and in fact undercut previous negotiations by failing to provide any timeline for North Korea’s promised denuclearization efforts.

    Suzanne DiMaggio, a senior fellow at New America, offered this sobering assessment: “The summit statement is big on hyperbole and short on substance – it reads like it was written by the North Korean negotiating team. […]

    [Trump tweeted]: “I have confidence that Kim Jong Un will honor the contract we signed &, even more importantly, our handshake. We agreed to the denuclearization of North Korea. China, on the other hand, may be exerting negative pressure on a deal because of our posture on Chinese Trade-Hope Not!”

    […] Not a single Korean War service member’s remains have been returned to the United States, despite Trump’s claim that 200 fallen soldiers have already been repatriated. And there is evidence that North Korea is working to conceal the true scope of its nuclear weapons program despite its purported commitment to denuclearization.

    […] Trump has requested daily briefings about the status of the ongoing discussions with North Korea, and is angry that the media’s assessment of his sham summit has largely come to pass. Perhaps next time he should insist upon a pinky promise. […]

  159. says

    Oh, FFS! Really, Sean?

    Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer is sticking to his assertion that […] Trump had the largest inauguration audience in history.

    In an interview with The Washington Post, Spicer acknowledged that his assertion that Trump’s inauguration was the largest in history was misleading. […]

    “If you look at the statement that I actually made — and I will admit that we should have made it clearer — we should have focused on total audience size and not let people believe that we were talking about the Mall itself, I will concede that,” he told the Post.

    He said, however, that the number of people who viewed Trump’s inauguration was larger, because of technologies that were not available to past presidents, like Barack Obama.

    “But where has any evidence been that suggests that I’m wrong about the total population that watched it?” he added. “This isn’t a partisan thing. The bottom line is that there are platforms available today that weren’t available for Obama.” […]

    The Hill link

  160. says

    From Murfster35:

    […] By far and away, my choice for “Comment of the Week” goes to Chuck Rosenberg, a former federal prosecutor. Talking on MSNBC about Trump’s invitation for Vlad the Imp to pop over this fall and plant some bugs in the Oval Office, Rosenberg quipped, “I just hope that Mr Putin doesn’t decide to bring his children with him, because they’ll be forcibly separated at the border.” Priceless.

    No matter how you cut it, this was a disastrous week for Trump. […] And bless his little heart, Rudy Ghouliani desperately tried to keep up with his boss. Only a drooling dotard can say that Donald Trump discussing with Michael Cohen about whether to pay Karen McDougle directly to shut her up, or repaying AMI for doing it for them with a check rather than cash was somehow exculpatory. […]

    The same has happened with Trump’s trade war. The reasoning for the action was so convoluted that even Trump supporters could see “Stupid” written all over it. Non retiring GOP incumbents like Jodi Ernst and even Mitch McConnell have directly criticized the tariffs, and there is even talk of legislative action to take Baby Trump’s toy away from him. once again, Trump is threatening to double down with more sanctions on China and the EU. And as a result, some of Trump’s greatest supporters, Midwest soy farmers, are converging on Washington, to try to convince Republican lawmakers to give The Cheeto Prophet more of whatever it is that they use to keep him docile.

    And now the debacle in Helsinki […] Robert Mueller rained on that particular parade before it even left the staging area, by indicting the 12 GRU intelligence officers. Now, not only is everybody screaming bloody murder about his press conference, but Putin is slyly sticking it to Trump by leaking some of the goodies that Trump may or may not have agreed to in that private meeting to the world. Trump has tried a twofer here. First, he had Sarah “Who’s a pretty birdie” Sanders tweet out his invitation for Putin to the Casa Blanco. This idea is going over like a lead balloon, so he went to his backup, misdirection, leaking the story about the secret Cohen recording to change the subject. But, while the media is more than happy to remind everybody what a sex degenerate Trump is, there’s plenty of time left in the hour to hammer the $1 Store Caligula about Putin. […]

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/7/21/1782514/-The-game-just-fundamentally-changed-for-Trump-and-the-GOP

  161. blf says

    DIY 3D-printed guns get go-ahead after Trump administration strikes court deal:

    […]
    From 1 August, thanks to the Trump administration, a commercially available software blueprint will allow people to make their own guns using ABS plastic resin and a 3D printer.

    The green light came late last month, with a court settlement between the designer of the blueprint and the US state department. Gun rights advocates celebrated.

    […]

    The lawsuit arose from a software file developed by a University of Texas law student, Cody Wilson. It was a blueprint for a single-shot 3D-printed handgun, named The Liberator. The state department ordered Wilson to cease work, arguing that making the blueprint available would be akin to a violation of arms export statutes.

    The libertarian-minded Wilson swiftly turned from a hobbyist to a crusader. All I tried to do in law school was print a pistol and put it on the internet, he told the Guardian in 2016. Now I’m on a ride I can’t get off.

    Wilson sued on the grounds that his design was protected by the first amendment. He also founded a non-profit, Defense Distributed. Celebrating the settlement, he tweeted an image of flowers laid at a plaque in memory of “American gun control”.

    […]

  162. blf says

    The Flemish tourist board, Toerisme Vlaanderen, hilariously trolls farcebork, 16th c. Rubens paintings versus 21st c. Social media regulations (video). The “fbi” — not quite sure what that stands for, “Flemmish(? Flanders?) something…”, I presume — “Social media inspectors: For your safety”, prevent “‘nudity viewers’ with a Facebook account from viewing nudity”. What’s going on is explained briefly in the Grauniad, Barefaced cheek: Rubens nudes fall foul of Facebook censors: “Flanders tourist board chides firm for removing ads featuring the Flemish master’s works”.

  163. says

    Follow-up to F.O.’s comment 216.

    War-mongering from team Trump, and from Trump himself:

    After President Donald Trump delivered a cryptic warning to Iran on Twitter Sunday evening, his national security adviser backed up his threats and mirrored the President’s war-mongering language.

    “I spoke to the President over the last several days, and President Trump told me that if Iran does anything at all to the negative, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid before,” Bolton said in a written statement.

    Trump responded Sunday evening to what has been interpreted as threats from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who sent Trump a message not to “play with the lion’s tail or you will regret” and that “war with Iran is the mother of all wars.” […]

    Tensions between Trump and Iran have been high since the President decided to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, […]

    To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!

    Link

    I don’t even have to identify Trump’s tweets as his. Everyone can tell it is Hair Furor throwing a tantrum again. Who is demented?

    From the comments: “Bolton wants his war, and Trump needs a new war, even one that we’ll lose.”

  164. says

    The New York Daily News is local media for New York, but now it has been seriously hobbled.

    Dozens of reporters lost their jobs Monday, and the future of local media in New York looks bleaker than ever.

    Tronc, publishing company and enemy of local news everywhere, sunk its claws into The New York Daily News Monday, laying off half the editorial staff and carving out the heart of local news in the U.S.’s largest city.

    Staffers received an unsigned, nameless email from Tronc’s “talent and engagement” team Monday, which included the announcement that the News would cut 50 percent of their editorial staff as part of an effort to “transform the New York Daily News into a truly digitally-focused enterprise.” […]

    As one News reporter told CNN, “Generic from tronc. Perfect — death by faceless hacks.” […]

    The news outlet has 11 Pulitzer prizes to its name.

    “Local journalism acts as a fundamental check on power,” the News tweeted. “It attempts to give the disenfranchised in our community a megaphone to amplify injustices that would otherwise be swept under the rug.”

    The NY Daily News has consistently been among the most fearless papers covering Trump, from his time as a real estate mogul in the city to his presidency today. Recently, […] the paper [called Trump] “the clown who plays king.” […]

    The mass layoffs at the News is hardly the first time Tronc has slashed editorial operations at local outlets. In April, it laid off dozens of employees at the Los Angeles Times, […] and in March, the company cut more than a dozen staffers at the Chicago Tribune. […]

    Monday’s layoffs come a little more than eight months after billionaire Trump ally and Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts shut down two local news sites, DNAinfo and Gothamist, after staffers at the two sites voted to unionize. The move put 115 staffers out of work in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

    From former editor-in-chief Jim Rich:

    If you hate democracy and think local governments should operate unchecked and in the dark, then today is a good day for you. […]

    Just a guy sitting at home watching journalism being choked into extinction.

    https://thinkprogress.org/daily-news-layoffs-abadae70e9c3/

  165. KG says

    Nothing like a bold war to distract from internal issues.
    This, of course, yields also for Rouhani. – F.O.@216

    Did you actually read the article you linked to? It says the precise opposite of what your comment suggests it does:

    Hassan Rouhani. He is increasingly being seen as a lame duck as he proves unable to fight off hardliners and pursue his agenda. One pledge he has delivered on – the landmark 2015 nuclear deal – is unravelling after Donald Trump pulled the US out of the framework in May.

  166. blf says

    Kuwaiti star faces backlash over Filipino worker comments:

    […]
    A Kuwaiti social media star is facing a backlash after criticising new laws improving conditions for the country’s Filipino domestic workers.

    Sondos Alqattan, an Instagram star and makeup artist with over 2.3 million followers, criticised new laws giving Filipino workers a day off per week and preventing employers from seizing their passports.

    How can you have a servant at home who keeps their own passport with them? What’s worse is they have one day off every week, she said in a video posted online, which has gone viral and attracted criticism in the Middle East and the Philippines.

    Alqattan slated reforms introduced in May to protect the rights of Filipino domestic workers: If they run away and go back to their country, who will refund me? Honestly I disagree with this law. I don’t want a Filipino maid any more.

    […]

    Roughly 660,000 people out of Kuwait’s population of 4 million are domestic migrant workers. According to Human Rights Watch, the country’s “kafala” system, which gives employers extensive powers over migrant workers, often forces them to remain with abusive bosses, while those who flee can be punished and imprisoned.

    Some searching suggests a few companies are now suspending or cutting their ties with this slave-owner, but not everyone gets it, Brands begin to cut ties with controversial Kuwaiti influencer (Gulf News — whose reliability is unknown to me — edits in {curly braces}):

    While three beauty companies have distanced themselves from her, many of her largest sponsors including MAC Cosmetics have yet to comment
    […]
    When reached by Gulf News, the founder of a Kuwaiti company that has sponsored Alqattan, said she had received a large amount of messages following the influencer’s remarks.

    It’s {unfair} to judge without giving her a right to defend herself, the founder said.

    I’m with {giving maids} the time off, but the passport, no — unless the country makes it a law not to leave the country without a letter from the employer, she said. We pay money to get workers, around $4,000, and she might stay a week, and if she doesn’t like the situation, she leaves. Who will compensate me?

    In other words: The slave is expensive and I don’t want her (usually) running away. If she does escape, it’s all her fault. I even now let her have a day off. Ungrateful chattel.

    Backlash against Kuwaiti Instagram influencer intensifies notes: “Alqattan has not responded on social media to the comments. Her most recent post in Saturday featured a shampoo product that supposedly treats dry hair.”

    Kafala slavery is practiced in “Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.” In Qatar, “[m]ost of the workers labor under near-feudal conditions that Human Rights Watch has likened to ‘forced labor’.” (Qatar is home to Al Jazeera, who does not (yet?) have anything on this story — this could be benign / coincidence, but a known problem with Al Jazeera is they are very muted on anything which is, or could be construed to be, critical of Qatar (which is not saying they are a Qatari propaganda site, only they do appear to practice self-censorship on some Qatari stories).)

  167. blf says

    Oh for feck’s sake, China: Hundreds of thousands of children given fake vaccines (video): “Executives from China’s second-largest pharmaceutical company, Changsheng Bio-Technology Company, have admitted to falsifying test results and producing fake vaccines.”

    The South China Morning Post reports, Changsheng Bio-tech, the vaccine maker behind China’s latest public health scare:

    Pharmaceutical firm pursued big profits through aggressive marketing and, according to court documents, even bribery

    [… I]t was exposed supplying ineffective DPT (diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus) vaccines to be used on babies as young as three months old, and forging data for its rabies vaccines […]

    […]

    Changsheng Bio-tech has so far been fined 3.4 million yuan over the DPT vaccines — a small sum for the company, which reported 566 million yuan in net profits in 2017, according to its annual report. It also received 48.3 million yuan in new government subsidies last year.

    […]

  168. blf says

    Some loonytrian (presumably) kook has apparently suggested Amazon is a replacement for libraries, ‘Twaddle’: librarians respond to suggestion Amazon should replace libraries:

    Piece in Forbes magazine said libraries ‘don’t have the same value they used to’ and cost taxpayers too much

    Panos Mourdoukoutas, a professor of economics at LIU Post in New York, wrote for Forbes that libraries don’t have the same value they used to and should be replaced permanently by Amazon book shops.

    At the core, Amazon has provided something better than a local library without the tax fees. This is why Amazon should replace local libraries, wrote Mourdoukouta. The move would save taxpayers money and enhance the stockholder value of Amazon all in one fell swoop.

    Librarians and library users have responded furiously, arguing that libraries provide services that could never be matched by a private company, that they are key places for those who are disenfranchised to use services, and represent value for money for the taxpayer.

    “[… A] little research would prevent you from publishing this kind of twaddle,” wrote the Harris County Public Library in Texas in a response to the article on Facebook.

    “Perhaps, in the future, you could ask a librarian for help. Study after study has shown that public libraries more than pay for themselves. In Texas, for example, for every $1 of taxpayer money spent on public libraries, public libraries return $4.64 to the economy.”

    […]

    The San Francisco public library speculated that Forbes might have an ulterior motive for the story: “Maybe @Forbes doesn’t like that you can download their magazine free with your #SF library card.”

    […] Amanda Oliver, who has been a librarian in Washington DC for the last seven years, said the value of libraries could be seen in the services provided to a huge range of people.

    “It’s librarians helping people fill out free housing forms and visa forms and all things related to basic human needs,” wrote Oliver. “It’s shelter when it’s freezing or raining or scorching hot. It’s access to free newspapers and conversation. It’s so much for so many.” [And] “Visit your local library for one day. Sit and watch who comes in to use the services — it’s not just people checking out free books. It’s one of few places in our society where the underserved can be treated with dignity and respect. It’s WiFi. It’s translators. It’s kindness.”

    […]

    Librarians also took issue with the argument that libraries were no longer needed as venues for public events or as places for people to read, work and socialise because school auditoriums or coffee shops like Starbucks were now being used for those purposes.

    “Did you know that school auditoriums aren’t easy to rent (or cheap)? … Thanks for having absolutely no idea how libraries work in 2018,” wrote one librarian. […]

    […]

    As one Twitter user wrote, watching the librarians savage the article online: “Damn library twitter rolls hard”.

    Don’t. Anger. The. Librarian. Ook!

  169. says

    New authorial move from Hair Furor and his team, as announced by Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Monday that President Donald Trump is “looking to take away” the security clearances of former CIA Director John Brennan, former FBI Director James Comey, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe.

  170. says

    Follow-up to comment 226.

    Rand Paul added some fuel to the fire by making claims he cannot back up with evidence:

    Is John Brennan monetizing his security clearance? Is John Brennan making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media with his attacks on @realDonaldTrump ?

    Today I will meet with the President and I will ask him to revoke John Brennan’s security clearance!

    Brennan is being too effective on various media platforms when he criticizes Trump, therefore the authoritarian hammer is about to come down. I doubt that will silence former CIA Director John Brennan.

  171. says

    I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that the purpose of these previous officials retaining their security clearance wasn’t special honorary treatment for them but to aid national security – current officials can communicate with them about contemporary crises and issues for which they can provide useful background knowledge, and intelligence continuity is preserved. If that’s the case, removing their clearance out of spite is just another action that harms national security.

  172. says

    Let’s take a look at a post from Steve Benen, a post that includes an analysis of Trump’s view about tariffs as revealed in an interview on CNBC, <blockquote<This is the time. You know the expression we’re playing with the bank’s money,” he [Trump] told CNBC’s Joe Kernen in a “Squawk Box” interview aired Friday. […]

    Trump added the market would likely be much higher if he didn’t escalate the trade issues with China and the rest of the world.

    From Benen:

    If you’ve ever wondered how Donald Trump managed to lose money running a casino, he occasionally helps answer the question.

    Here’s the president’s pitch in a nutshell: Wall Street gains have generated a certain amount of wealth, which Trump believes puts him “ahead.” If his trade war prevents the stock markets from doing even better, it will mean less generated wealth, but it won’t wipe out all of the previous gains.

    Ergo, he’s “playing with the bank’s money.” No matter how bad things get as a result of his agenda, the gains probably won’t be wiped out entirely, which means he won’t fall “behind.”

    Except this isn’t a responsible way to look at the debate. As Trump really ought to know by now, the stock market is not the economy, which makes this the wrong metric. To see Wall Street gains and losses as some real-time daily barometer of the nation’s economic health is absurd.

    And even if the White House were to consider market gains as the only thing that matters, it’s not exactly reassuring for Trump to tell investors that he’s deliberately pursuing policies that he knows will undermine their returns. Indeed, he’s practically encouraging people to get out of the market.

    What’s more, it’s not really “the bank’s money” the president is playing with; it’s our money. The more Trump’s policies have an adverse effect on the economy, the more real people will feel the pinch. (Banks, meanwhile, will be fine.)

    How is it, exactly, that the president is going to tell a whole lot of struggling farmers that their plight doesn’t much matter because the S&P 500 gives him some “leeway”?

  173. says

    SC @228, I agree. That’s what I thought too.

    I have not seen any evidence that Brennan is abusing his security clearance. Ditto for the other names on that list. Kushner on the other hand did abuse his.

    This idea that “John Brennan [is] making millions of dollars divulging secrets to the mainstream media with his attacks on @realDonaldTrump” is a conspiracy theory primed to metastasize on Fox News and on other rightwing media.

  174. says

    Remember those five witnesses to whom Mueller granted a limited kind of immunity so that they could testify against Paul Manafort? W know know who the witnesses are:

    The witnesses, who Mueller’s team had sought to keep from public view until they were called to testify, are:

    James Brennan
    Donna Duggan
    Conor O’Brien
    Cindy Laporta
    Dennis Raico

  175. says

    I have not seen any evidence that Brennan is abusing his security clearance. Ditto for the other names on that list. Kushner on the other hand did abuse his.

    And as the tweet to which Hennessey is responding points out, Comey and McCabe haven’t had a clearance for months.

  176. says

    Follow-up to comments 226, 227 228 and 231.

    Here’s what Sarah Huckabee Sanders said today as she obviously repeated the current conspiracy theory:

    Sanders said Trump believes the former officials “politicized” their positions by accusing Trump of inappropriate contact with Russia, and she said in some cases they “monetized their clearances,” without clarifying what she meant.

    “The fact that people with security clearances are making baseless charges provides inappropriate legitimacy to accusations with zero evidence,” Sanders said.

    Irony meter alert: Sanders has zero evidence to back up her accusation.

  177. says

    SC @223, yeah. As usual, team Trump did not bother to get the facts right before they started fertilizing conspiracy theories.

  178. says

    Lynna @ #232, I recognize several of those names (O’Brien, Laporta, and Raico) from the email chains in the evidence list. They appear to be either his financial managers or lawyers or representatives of banks he was dealing with, which makes sense. I had expected Calk to be on the list, though.

  179. KG says

    It’s [the public library is] one of few places in our society where the underserved can be treated with dignity and respect. – blf@225 quoting a librarian

    That, of course, is precisely why the contributor to Forbes hates them so much.

  180. says

    Trump went after the Washington Post and Amazon … again.

    The Amazon Washington Post has gone crazy against me ever since they lost the Internet Tax Case in the U.S. Supreme Court two months ago. Next up is the U.S. Post Office which they use, at a fraction of real cost, as their “delivery boy” for a BIG percentage of their packages….

    ….In my opinion the Washington Post is nothing more than an expensive (the paper loses a fortune) lobbyist for Amazon. Is it used as protection against antitrust claims which many feel should be brought?

    Trump’s claim that Amazon uses the U.S. Post Office “at a fraction of real” has been debunked dozens of times, including by the U.S. Post Office. Trump continues to repeat the lie anyway.

    And Trump is also wrong about taxes on internet goods, at least as far as Amazon is concerned:

    The president has previously accused Amazon of failing to collect sales taxes in certain states. In fact, the retail giant already collects taxes on items purchased directly from Amazon. And while third-party vendors aren’t required to collect those taxes, Amazon has backed legislation that would allow states to require online sellers to collect those taxes.

  181. says

    Follow-up to comments 226, 227 228 and 231, 233, 234 and 236.

    Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said Monday that President Trump removing his security clearance won’t have any effect on what he says or writes.

    “I don’t go back for classified briefings. Won’t have any effect on what I say or write.”

    Link

  182. says

    Follow-up to comment 240.

    Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on Monday slammed President Trump for considering a revocation of his and other former intelligence officials’ security clearances, calling it a “petty thing to do.” […]

    “The security clearance has nothing to do with how I, or any of us feel about the president. And I don’t get the briefings, I don’t have access to any classified information,” Clapper said, calling the continuing clearance a “courtesy” for former intelligence officials.

    “I don’t know what to say,” he added. “I think this is just a very, very petty – a petty thing to do. And that’s about all I’ll say about it.”

    Clapper added that typically, an official would go through a formal process in which their security clearance would be revoked or suspended because of an allegation of misuse or wrongdoing. He added that the president does have the legal power to take away clearances unilaterally.

    “If he chooses to do it for political reasons, well that’s – I think that’s a terrible precedent and I think that’s a very sad commentary. And it’s an abuse of the system,” Clapper said. […]

    Link

  183. says

    Tom Winter:

    NBC News: The 5 names of the potential ‘use immunity’ witnesses in the Paul Manafort trial have been unsealed.

    One person named is an employee of the Federal Savings Bank and is tied to this transaction [Calk – SC] that NBC News first reported on earlier this year:…

    MORE: Based on a review of public filings and reports it appears all 5 are employees of institutions that have been involved with Paul Manafort’s finances.

    Previously, Fox News reported that Tony Podesta was offered use immunity and he is NOT named in these filings.

  184. tomh says

    @ 227
    Rand Paul has some leverage with Trump since he claims to be undecided on the SC vote, so Trump will probably listen to him since it’s what Trump wants to do anyway.

  185. says

    Would be pretty fun if the Democrats took the House in November; then Trump and Pence had to resign or were impeached for collusion, lying, etc.; and we ended up with President Nancy Pelosi.

  186. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @SC #243:

    “Georgia state Rep. Jason Spencer (R) shouting racial slurs and pulling down his pants”
    […]
    I watched the latest episode earlier and I’m still in shock.

    Geeeez. And that stinger after the credits.
     
    Summary: Waving a knife at the camera, shouting another racial slur, chopping off an effigy’s sausage penis, takes a bite (?), and threatening to do that to anyone from the Middle East then feed it to them so they’ll be unable to rape anyone. Jumpcut, “I’m Jason Spencer. I’m an elected official in the state of Georgia.”   0.0

  187. says

    Manu Raju: “Just asked Nunes if he stood by all the contents of his memo after release of Carter Page docs – and he attacked CNN instead. I then asked him if he read FISA application (since in Feb he acknowledged not reading it) and he said: ‘You are ignoring what I said’ and walked on floor.”

  188. says

    “Qatar accuses Gulf rivals of paying for political protest in London”:

    A casting agency advertised for paid extras to come and stand outside the gates of Downing Street when the emir of Qatar visits on Tuesday, amid accusations that the country’s Gulf rivals are paying protesters to oppose the country’s activities and create the impression of an upswell of British support against the country.

    “This is NOT a film or TV production,” said the advert from booking agency Extra People, offering £20 to respondents willing to take part. “The company are looking for a large group of people to fill space outside Downing Street during the visit of the president of Quatar [sic]. You will not have to do or say anything, they just want to fill space.”

    A Qatari diplomat blamed the country’s regional rivals, who have placed it under an economic blockade since last year, creating a vicious and expensive media war often fought through lobbyists, online advertising and selective leaks to journalists in the UK and US.

    The casting agency later retracted the advert and said that they did not want to be involved in providing extras for the event, which was arranged to coincide with the arrival of Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to meet prime minister Theresa May.

    The agency declined to identify their client but said they backed out when they realised the event would involve the extras protesting outside the gates of Downing Street.

    The advert raises questions over the growing influence of Gulf money in the UK, with the ongoing political struggle between Qatar and the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. It follows an agreement by the Independent to licence its brands to a publishing business with close links to the Saudi government to produce Middle Eastern versions of its publications….

  189. says

    What?

    Michael A. McFaul, a former U.S. diplomat and fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, will visit the White House on Tuesday for a private meeting with President Trump’s top adviser on Russia, according to two people familiar with the planned meeting.

    McFaul, who served as U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration, will meet with Fiona Hill, a senior director on the National Security Council who joined the president for last week’s summit with Putin in Helsinki, said the people familiar with the matter, who were not authorized to speak publicly.

    Hill is widely seen within the administration as one of Trump’s most hawkish advisers on Russia and has written extensively and critically of Putin, including a 2013 biography of the former KGB officer.

    Hill’s influence on Trump has drawn new scrutiny in recent days as the president has made overtures to Putin. But her willingness to meet with McFaul could be a sign that she is, at the least, interested in connecting with the Stanford University professor as McFaul deals with the fallout from an offer from Putin to Trump. […]

    Washington Post link

    McFaul is one of the people that Putin would like to question/interrogate in Russia, an idea to which Trump initially agreed before he (surprise!) got a lot of negative feedback.

  190. says

    Team Trump finds yet another way to ignore facts when making policy decisions:

    In a quest to shrink national monuments last year, senior Interior Department officials dismissed evidence these public lands boosted tourism and spurred archaeological discoveries, according to documents the department released this month and retracted a day later.

    The thousands of pages of email correspondence chart how Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his aides instead tailored their survey of protected sites to emphasize the value of logging, ranching and energy development that would be unlocked if they were not designated national monuments.

    Comments the department’s Freedom of Information Act officers made in the documents show that they sought to keep some of the references out of the public eye because they were “revealing [the] strategy” behind the review. […]

    Washington Post link

  191. says

    Trump rejected Putin’s offer to settle the conflict in eastern Ukraine with a referendum in the disputed region, the White House said. Okay, good. That’s one more really bad idea thrown in the trash.

    The White House said Trump rejected the offer. My bet is that other people around Trump finally talked him out of accepting the idea. It took them from Monday to Friday to do so.

  192. F.O. says

    @KG #222: yes I did. I see it as Rouhani switching to nationalist rhetoric, but it’s entirely possible that my reading of his declaration was not as charitable as it could have been.

  193. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Lynna, OM #253:

    In a quest to shrink national monuments last year, senior Interior Department officials dismissed evidence these public lands boosted tourism and spurred archaeological discoveries

    Reminds me of underhandedness I’d heard back in January / March…
     
     
    Podcast: Archaeological Fantasies – 2018-01-08 #90 Bears Ears Update (56:50)
     
    Kenneth Feder (host):

    They say things, and I think I understand what those words mean… but they mean them in ways that are entirely different
     
    I have heard over and over again, that Obama making Bears Ears a national monument was the biggest “land grab” in the history of the United States. […] Zero acres! […] The federal government saying, “Y’know, we have this land already. We’re gonna put a line around it and add extra protection” […] That’s not what land grab means!
    […]
    Zinke had the temerity to talk about opening Bears Ears back up to traditional uses of the land. When I hear “traditional use”, I think of, “Native Americans collect medicinal plants there.” I think, “Evangelical Christians baptize their people in that stream, something they’ve done for generations.” That’s a traditional use. Traditional use is not COAL MINING!
    […]
    The Secretary of the Interior, and the people who support him, characterize as a “special interest”: people who like to go outside. So if you like going outside, you’re a member of a special interest group! […] But the NON-special interests are people who own coal mining companies and uranium mining companies.
     
    It is “War is peace”. It is “Freedom is slavery”. It is “Ignorance is strength”.

    Sara Head (host):

    If they come out right away like, “I wanna mine for uranium in Bears Ears because reasons!” everybody’s gonna be like “No, we don’t want that.”
     
    But if they change the definition of the words that people are already using […], and they make them bad, then it’s a lot easier to change and control the narrative. Then people can be like, “Oh, you’re not mining for uranium in Bears Ears. You’re giving the land back to the people.”

     
    Podcast: Archaeological Fantasies – 2018-03-05 #93 Bears Ears Rock Art with Vaughn Hadenfelt (1:02:00)

    [Zinke’s] main look at Bears Ears was flying over it in a Black Hawk helicopter, one little horseback ride, and one short walk. […] he decides 85% of that monument can disappear.
     
    My organization was one of the few that he met with on the environmental side. I got 30 minutes with him when he came to Utah. I started my little spiel about Bears Ears and the 100,000 archaeological sites.
     
    He stopped me quickly, and he said, “Wait a minute. A hundred thousand archaeological sites? How many of these sites have been recorded?”
    […]
    Well, we’ve only actually surveyed 8-10% of the land area […], and within that survey, we’d recorded at this point 30,000 archaeological sites. If that’s only 10%, we still have a lot to go…
     
    “Well,” Secretary Zinke said, “then that’s what you really have. You have 30 thousand sites in the Bears Ears.”

  194. says

    CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain @256, thanks for that excellent summary. The “War is peace,” “Freedom is slavery,” and “Ignorance is strength” section was particularly good. Also, I hadn’t seen that debunking of “land grab” before. It made me laugh. But at the same time, this is all so painful.

    Zinke seems to be incapable of absorbing or evaluating all of the relevant information, as shown by his reaction concerning the archaeological sites in the Bears Ears.

    In other news, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, doesn’t agree with Trump:

    Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Monday that Russia is “never going to be our friend,” but downplayed concerns over President Trump’s meeting and press conference last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    “We don’t trust Russia. We don’t trust Putin. We never will. They’re never going to be our friend. That’s just a fact,” Haley told Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody.

    The Hill link

  195. says

    The Attorney General of the United States, Jeff Sessions, participated briefly in a “Lock her up!” chant when he spoke to Turning Point USA’s High School Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. today.

    “Lock her up!” Sessions said. “Well, so, I heard that a long time during the last campaign.” He laughed.

    While he had a laugh about the prospect of throwing Clinton behind bars, Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, is actually in prison awaiting trial for money laundering, tax evasion, and conspiring against the United States.[…]

    Link

    The top law enforcement agent in the USA just laughed about the idea of locking up one’s political opponents.

  196. blf says

    Nevada could make history with first female-majority US state legislature:

    […]
    After winning a record number of primary contests last month, women could make up nearly two-thirds of the statehouse by 7 November, the Reno Gazette Journal reported.

    “In the past, we’ve had to ask women five, six, seven times to run for office,” said Danna Lovell, director of Emerge Nevada, a Democrat-linked candidate-training non-profit based in Las Vegas. “Whereas now, they’re worried. They’re scared about what’s going on in their communities … I think there’s an extremely great possibility for a female majority.”

    […]

  197. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Jason Spencer really isn’t to blame. His performance just loses something when not enjoyed by the light of a burning cross.

  198. blf says

    Fox mistakenly invites anti-Trump politician on air (video):

    The anchors on Fox News and Friends were caught off-guard when they thought they were about to interview a Democrat who supports Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s actions at the Mexico–US border. Instead they were greeted by Barbara L’Italien, a Democratic senator who is also running for Congress.

    L’Italien slammed Donald Trump and the tactics used at the border, including separating children from their families.

    Her live feed was stopped when they realised they had the wrong guest.

    Fox had wanted to interview Ann Kirkpatrick, a former Democratic congresswoman. She later tweeted that Fox News inaccurately described her position on ICE, which she said needs ‘top-to-bottom reform’.

  199. blf says

    Trump lawyer uses government action on abortion to raise cash for own group:

    […]
    One of Donald Trump’s lawyers is using the Trump administration’s scrutiny of Planned Parenthood to raise money for his conservative activist group, which has directed millions of dollars to his law firm and his family.

    Jay Sekulow, a personal attorney to the president [sic], has contracted telemarketers to collect money from the public for his not-for-profit organisation using a script that highlights the justice department’s examination of foetal tissue transfers by groups including the women’s clinic network.

    Planned Parenthood is under full investigation by the Department of Justice for aborting babies and selling their body parts, the script states, between references to anti-abortion litigation brought by […] the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

    It was unclear from the ACLJ script whether Sekulow was merely repeating past media reports of preliminary inquiries made by the justice department, or if the president’s [sic] lawyer had learned of a previously undisclosed full investigation.

    […]

    Sekulow is representing Trump in investigations into Russia’s attack on the 2016 presidential election. ACLJ has in recent months used its website to publish attacks against the so-called deep state and the former FBI director James Comey, who is a key witness in the Trump-Russia inquiries.

    The telephone scripts citing federal inquiries into Planned Parenthood were included in contracts with a marketing company that were personally signed by Sekulow. The contracts outlined a new ACLJ fundraising drive scheduled to begin last month and run until next year. Copies of the contracts were obtained by the Guardian from state regulators.

    Copies of the contracts are available at the link.

    […]
    ACLJ and an affiliated Sekulow non-profit, Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism (Case), have an unusual financial relationship that complicates analyses of their finances. Despite the two not-for-profit organisations being separate groups, Case also operates under the ACLJ name.

    In its latest annual filing to the IRS, Case said it received $52.3m in donations during 2016 and gave $16.8m of this to ACLJ. Meanwhile ACLJ, which uses a different financial calendar, reported a total of $21.3m in donations between April 2016 and April 2017.

    The Guardian reported last year that since 2000, ACLJ and Case had paid more than $60m of contributions to Sekulow’s law firm, members of his family and their businesses for various services. These payments have continued since the article was published, according to more recent IRS filings. ACLJ paid Sekulow’s law firm $5.3m in its last reporting period.

    The activist group [unclear if ACLJ, Case, or both meant –blf] has reported using millions of dollars in contributions to buy properties used as residences by Sekulow family members. The Daily Beast reported in March that ACLJ’s Washington headquarters, which is also funded by contributions from supporters, had been used for work by Trump’s legal team.

    Other telemarketing contracts agreed last year, before Sekulow joined Trump’s legal team, show that ACLJ sought to capitalise on excitement among conservatives about Trump’s election victory and promise to repeal Obamacare. With a new administration and congress, this is our moment to save lives, telemarketers said in fundraising calls.

    Alls teh besteringest peoples !

  200. blf says

    The BBC is reporting Sondos Alqattan (see @223) has doubled-down on her support for slavery, Kuwaiti influencer defends controversial remarks on Filipino workers (BBC edits in {curly braces}):

    [… S]he has said that the outcry she received was unjustified, though she has since deleted the video.

    […]

    I have not {in} any circumstances in present or past… degraded or in any way mistreated an employee of mine, she said in an Instagram post on Tuesday.

    I consider all employees as equal human being {sic}.

    The full reply is at link. It is incoherent. Even allowing she’s (very probably) not using her native language, it’s rather clear she simply does not understand. She’s constantly going on about her, her powers as an “employer”, and the employees’s responsibilities to her. She does not appear to have even tried to imagine herself as a kafala slave, or indeed someone who is neither wealthy or (comparatively) privileged.

  201. says

    “Facebook Says Alex Jones’ Threatening Rant Against Robert Mueller Doesn’t Violate Its Rules”:

    With his latest pedophilia accusations, Alex Jones and Infowars continue to test the limits of Facebook’s rules. And Facebook continues to allow it.

    On his Monday afternoon show, Alex Jones issued a prolonged rant against special counsel Robert Mueller, accusing him of raping children, and overseeing their rape, and then pantomiming shooting the former FBI director. The show was streamed live on Jones’ personal, verified Facebook page, which has nearly 1.7 million likes.

    In the clip, Jones baselessly accused Mueller of having sex with children. “They’d let Mueller rape kids in front of people, which he did,” he said on the show.

    Jones also suggested that Mueller enabled pedophiles. “I mean, Mueller covered up for a decade for [Jeffrey] Epstein kidnapping kids, flying them on sex planes, some kids as young as seven years old reportedly, with big perverts raping them to frame people,” he said. “He’s even above the pedophiles, though. The word is he doesn’t have sex with kids, he just controls it all.”

    Following the pedophilia accusations, Jones then pantomimed shooting Mueller “politically, at high noon” in an old west-style shootout. “Make the move first, and then it’s going to happen. It’s not a joke. It’s not a game. It’s the real world. Politically. You’re going to get it, or I’m going to die trying, b****. Get ready.”

    The rant was Jones latest outlandish provocation for Facebook, which has stated recently that it would not remove Infowars from its platform for spreading false news. As the clip of Jones went viral Monday evening, multiple observers flagged it as a threat of violence, which would be a violation of Facebook’s rules. But on Tuesday morning, a Facebook spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that Jones’ comments did not violate the company’s community standards as they were not a credible statement of intent to commit violence….

  202. says

    CREW statement on closing of Ivanka Trump’s brand:

    While this is a notable step in the right direction [hm – SC], it’s a small one that comes much too late. She reportedly realized that there were too many potential conflicts of interest to avoid, something many observers warned about from the beginning. The many ethics issues arising from her business were not limited to Ivanka Trump herself—Kellyanne Conway was reprimanded for doing a ‘free commercial’ for the brand from the White House.

    Ivanka Trump received trademarks from the Chinese government that concerningly coincided with several of her father’s actions towards China. Though the business is ‘shutting down,’ it will reportedly continue to file for new trademarks, which raises questions as to how serious this ‘shut down’ really is and whether the brand will continue to create conflicts of interest.

    The ethics issues that arise from her ownership of the Ivanka Trump Brand also arise from her ownership stake in the Trump Organization, and still more issues arise from her father’s ownership of that business. If the Trump family truly cared about ethics, they would fully divest themselves of these assets—something they should have done before they entered the White House.

  203. says

    White supremacists in the Republican party are running for office.

    From the Washington Post:

    Many such characters have crawled out from under rocks and onto Republican ballots in 2018: A candidate with ties to white nationalists is the GOP Senate nominee in Virginia (and has President Trump’s endorsement); an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier is the Republican candidate in a California House race; a prominent neo-Nazi won the GOP nomination in an Illinois House race; and overt racists are in Republican primaries across the country.

    From Steve Benen:

    The Hawaii Republican Party formally expelled one of its state House candidates this week after learning about his background as a white supremacist. As the Associated Press reported, the GOP candidate says he wants an “all-white nation,” and describes himself in campaign materials as “pro-white.” […]

    The developments in Hawaii follow a story out of New Jersey, where Republican congressional hopeful Seth Grossman was also denounced by his party for having used racist rhetoric. Though he hasn’t yet been rejected by his party, Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Minn.) is facing related accusations in his own re-election bid. […]

    […] a Republican white supremacist who won his party’s nomination for a North Carolina state House seat, a Republican congressional candidate in Wisconsin who calls himself “pro-white” and was booted from Twitter for racism, and a GOP state Senate candidate in California who, after losing in a primary, attributed his defeat to fraud by “Jewish supremacists.” […]

  204. says

    The Battle For The Right To Vote Has Never Been Won: Now We’re Losing Ground

    […] We decided to commission this series on voting rights and democracy early this year because voting rights are more under siege than at any time in most of our lifetimes and because the issue of democracy and voting rights has a particular salience during a critical election. […]

    The first article can be read at the link. It provides an historical overview, debunks some myths about voting rights, and lays out the scope of succeeding articles.

  205. says

    Trump spoke today at a Veterans of Foreign Wars gathering in Kansas City, Missouri. As is his wont, Trump turned the whole thing into a campaign rally. He hit some of his favorite highlights, like dissing the media:

    Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news. I mean, I saw a piece on NBC today– NBC, not just CNN. CNN’s the worst. But I saw a piece on NBC. It was heart throbbing. They were interviewing people. They probably go through 20 and then pick the one that sounds like the worst. But they went through a group of people. In fact, I wanted to say, “I got to do something about this Trump.”

    Praising the Trump version of patriots:

    We don’t apologize for America anymore. We stand up for America. We stand up for the patriots who defend America.

    And we stand up for our national anthem. […]

    We’re calling the threat by its real name, the name that wasn’t mentioned for a long time. It’s called radical Islamic terrorism.

    Immigration:

    Instead of supporting our ICE officers, many of these democrat politicians –– who are really disciples of a very low IQ person, Maxine Waters, and perhaps even worse, Nancy Pelosi –– they’ve launched vicious smears on the brave men and women who defend our community.

    Tariffs:

    The farmers will be the biggest beneficiary. Watch. We’re opening up markets. You watch what’s going to happen.

    Just stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.

    Following his rant about Tariffs, and following his pie-in-the-sky promises, Trump’s Department of Agriculture announced that it would spend $12 billion to help farmers hurt by Trump’s tariffs. That’s taxpayer money.

  206. says

    Extra special, super delusional tweet from Trump:

    I’m very concerned that Russia will be fighting very hard to have an impact on the upcoming Election. Based on the fact that no President has been tougher on Russia than me, they will be pushing very hard for the Democrats. They definitely don’t want Trump!

    Analysis from Hunter:

    […] we can infer from this, perhaps, that a core group of White House idiots has finally come to the recognition that Republicans may be in deep, deep trouble in the November midterms and need to come up with an excuse for why that may happen—and a way to delegitimize the elections themselves, if it does.

  207. says

    Follow-up to comment 274.

    Coverage from Wonkette on the same subject:

    […] if the Democrats take back one or both houses of Congress in November, does anyone actually think Trump’s stable of stable geniuses on Fox and in the House GOP won’t be ready and willing to join him in caterwauling about how the Dems just stole the election, and the RUSSIANS HELPED? Does anyone think they won’t do this despite how Vladimir Putin stood next to Trump and endorsed him for president after the fact in Helsinki, which kind of gives us the tiniest hint as to what Putin’s into, in an electoral way? They will demand Rod Rosenstein appoint a second special counsel to investigate it, assuming Rosenstein hasn’t been YOU’RE FIRED by then.

    […] despite what Trump’s dumbfucking tweet up there says about him being “tough on Russia” — LOL, we know about the temper tantrum the president threw about having to do Russian sanctions — there is nobody in America with a triple-digit IQ who can’t see that Trump’s ass is a wholly owned subsidiary of Putin’s Russia. Even people who were previously skeptics are coming around, after seeing Trump make Stinky In Helsinki while Putin gazed approvingly at his intelligence asset. […]

    In 2018, Democrats are fired up and ready to go, in every state and in every district. Turn-out is off the charts and all signs point to a massive blue wave in November that will take the House and maybe even the Senate.

    And when/if that happens, we’d better all be ready for Trump to suddenly believe 100% in Russian interference, and lie through his teeth on a daily basis about how Dems only cleaned up because the Russians did it for them. Don’t worry, he won’t make the Russians mad, because Putin will be in on the scam. Hell, they might’ve talked about it in Finland during their super secret one-on-one meeting! […]

  208. says

    The new Q poll press release is making my day. Setting aside the content, I love that they’re going out of their way to point out: “Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack).” Especially because one of the weird ways cable news people have taken to pronouncing it is “kwin-uh-PEE-ack),” which is amusing in light of this one’s subject.

  209. says

    Lynna@270 I have a real hard time understanding how one can be a white supremacist in Hawaii. It’s surprising he can actually breathe without aid.

  210. says

    This detail is odd:

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller is conducting a fair investigation into possible collusion, voters say 55 – 31 percent.

    This investigation is “legitimate,” 54 percent of voters say, while 40 percent say it is a “witch hunt.”

    So 9% somehow manage to believe it’s both not unfair and an illegitimate witch hunt.

  211. says

    Trump tweeted: “Tariffs are the greatest! Either a country which has treated the United States unfairly on Trade negotiates a fair deal, or it gets hit with Tariffs. It’s as simple as that – and everybody’s talking! Remember, we are the ‘piggy bank’ that’s being robbed. All will be Great!”

    He has no idea what he’s doing, so all he can do is revert to cheap grifter talk.

  212. says

    “Two Trump Allies, Seeing Unlimited Opportunity, Instead Drew Scrutiny”:

    …Mr. Broidy was a client of Mr. Gates, and had paid him at least $125,000. For that money Mr. Gates advised Mr. Broidy on how to pursue both a contract for his business and appointments for his associates and provided insight into the new administration’s foreign policy plans, according to interviews as well as internal emails and documents obtained by The New York Times.

    Their financial arrangement, not previously reported, was emblematic of the way a small circle of Mr. Trump’s associates at the beginning of his presidency aggressively marketed their administration access to well-paying clients, and sheds light on the activities of Mr. Gates, who has emerged as a key figure in the investigation of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.

    Those activities are detailed in a batch of Mr. Broidy’s emails that was hacked and provided to The Times and other news outlets by an anonymous individual or group opposed to Mr. Broidy’s work in Washington for foreign countries, including the United Arab Emirates. The emails detailing Mr. Gates’s work with Mr. Broidy were corroborated by people familiar with the arrangement, as well as additional documents from other sources.

    Although Mr. Gates’s role on Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign had shrunk dramatically after Mr. Manafort resigned under pressure as its chairman months before the election, he maintained connections to numerous Trump advisers, including two key players in Mr. Trump’s orbit with whom he had worked planning the presidential inauguration — Mr. Broidy, who was a vice chairman of the inaugural committee’s finance team, and the billionaire California investor Thomas J. Barrack Jr., who served as chairman of the inaugural committee.

    After the inauguration, Mr. Gates began receiving monthly consulting payments for help navigating the new administration from a company headed by Mr. Barrack, Colony NorthStar, which paid Mr. Gates $20,000 a month, and one owned by Mr. Broidy, which paid Mr. Gates $25,000 a month, according to documents and people familiar with the relationships, who requested anonymity to discuss private business arrangements.

    The invoices [submitted by Gates to Broidy in July, 2017] requested payments to a company owned by Mr. Gates called Konik Madison Group LLC, which had also received nearly $37,000 from the Trump campaign in the weeks before Election Day, according to Federal Election Commission filings. The campaign listed the payment as “strategic consulting,” but a campaign official said Tuesday that Mr. Gates “was a volunteer” for the campaign, and that the payment was reimbursement for “travel, meals and other appropriate expenses.”…

  213. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    SC@278, Well, in fairness, I suppose that 9% also actually believe in witches.

  214. says

    A candidate that Trump backed has won the primary run-off in Georgia. Brian Kemp, the Georgia Secretary of State, is now the GOP nominee for Governor of Georgia.

    Weirdly, (or perhaps not, considering how things are going), Kemp seems to have a Russia connection of sorts.

    […] In August 2016, as Obama administration officials were trying to enlist the support of state election officials to counter unfolding Russian election interference and efforts to hack into state election systems, Kemp was an outspoken hold out, attacking the initiative an assault on state’s rights.

    Here’s a key passage from a June 2017 Washington Post retrospective on the Obama administration efforts to counter Russian attacks in the second half of 2016.

    Jeh Johnson, the homeland-security secretary, was responsible for finding out whether the government could quickly shore up the security of the nation’s archaic patchwork of voting systems. He floated the idea of designating state mechanisms “critical infrastructure,” a label that would have entitled states to receive priority in federal cybersecurity assistance, putting them on a par with U.S. defense contractors and financial networks.

    On Aug. 15, Johnson arranged a conference call with dozens of state officials, hoping to enlist their support. He ran into a wall of resistance.

    The reaction “ranged from neutral to negative,” Johnson said in congressional testimony Wednesday.

    Brian Kemp, the Republican secretary of state of Georgia, used the call to denounce Johnson’s proposal as an assault on state rights. “I think it was a politically calculated move by the previous administration,” Kemp said in a recent interview, adding that he remains unconvinced that Russia waged a campaign to disrupt the 2016 race. “I don’t necessarily believe that,” he said.
    […]

    Link

    All the best people.

  215. says

    Chris Hayes hosted an excellent segment tonight on the status of migrant families that were separated at the border.

    New data shows that possibly as many as 463 immigrant parents whose children were taken away from them at the border may already have been deported without getting their children back.

    Link

    Hayes and his guests describe the chaos and confusion that still prevails. Hayes says “the Trump administration kidnapped children.”

    The video is about six minutes long.

  216. Hj Hornbeck says

    Looks like Cohen is fighting back against Trump’s spin.

    Donald Trump can be heard on tape discussing with his attorney Michael Cohen how to purchase the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story about her alleged affair with Trump, in a recording obtained by CNN.

    The tape, which aired late Tuesday, was released to the network and public for the first time by Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, who argued that its contents proved his client tried to handle the payment legally whereas Trump instead sought to pay in cash.[…]

    In the tape, Cohen can be heard explaining to the then presidential candidate his plans to open a company through which he would finance the purchase of the rights to McDougal’s story. McDougal has alleged she had an affair with Trump about a decade ago – an allegation the White House has vehemently denied.

    Trump interrupts Cohen in the record to ask: “What financing?” Cohen proceeds to tell Trump: “We’ll have to pay,” after which Trump is heard saying: “Pay with cash.” But the recording is muddled, making it difficult to confirm the full context of Trump’s comments.

    It’s not a terribly good fight, honestly: the problem with burying McDougal’s story isn’t how Cohen was paid and when, but that the story was buried in the first place. By admitting he was setting up a company to purchase the story, Cohen can still complicit.

  217. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    BREAKING: Ga. lawmaker who used racial slurs in TV show resigns.”

    State Rep. Jason Spencer faced increasing pressure to step down shortly after the episode of “Who is America?” aired Sunday night, and some politicians were urging a special session to oust him if he refused. He will step down at the end of the month
    […]
    If he had remained in office through January, he would have logged eight years of service and become eligible for taxpayer-subsidized health insurance for life.

  218. blf says

    Swedish student’s dramatic plane protest stops man’s deportation ‘to hell’:

    […]
    A lone student activist on board a plane at Gothenburg airport has prevented the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker from Sweden by refusing to sit down until the man was removed from the flight.

    Elin Ersson […] bought a ticket for the flight from Gothenburg to Turkey after she and other asylum activists found out that a young Afghan was due to be deported on it, according to Swedish press reports.

    As she entered the plane Ersson started to live-stream her protest in English. The video received more than half a million hits on Tuesday.

    Facing both sympathy and hostility from passengers, the footage shows Ersson struggling to keep her composure.

    “I don’t want a man’s life to be taken away just because you don’t want to miss your flight,” she says. “I am not going to sit down until the person is off the plane.”

    Repeatedly challenged by a steward to stop filming, Ersson says: “I am doing what I can to save a person’s life. As long as a person is standing up the pilot cannot take off. All I want to do is stop the deportation and then I will comply with the rules here. This is all perfectly legal and I have not committed a crime.”

    When an angry passenger, who appears to be English, tries to seize her phone, she tells him: “What is more important, a life, or your time? … I want him to get off the plane because he is not safe in Afghanistan. I am trying to change my country’s rules, I don’t like them. It is not right to send people to hell.”

    After a tense standoff, during which the airport authorities declined to use force to eject Ersson, passengers broke into applause when the asylum seeker was taken off the plane.

    […]

    Congratulations to Ms Ersson (and to the “airport authorities” for not escalating the situation).

  219. blf says

    New York pizza delivery man to be freed as judge questions motive to deport him:

    Pablo Villavicencio freed as attorney calls decision a rebuke to Trump administration’s ‘crusade to tear families apart’

    A federal judge said Tuesday that an Ecuadorean immigrant detained while delivering pizza to a New York army installation must be immediately released from a New Jersey lockup and can remain in the United States while he exhausts his right to try to gain legal status.

    [… Judge Paul] Crotty had asked if the US government had “any concept of justice” as he questioned the need to deport Villavicencio, who had been kept apart from his American wife and two young children.

    […]

    He also questioned the motivations behind the government’s decisions to put Villavicencio […] on the brink of expulsion.

    “Well, the powerful are doing what they want, and the poor are suffering what they must,” Crotty said after hearing assistant US attorney Joseph Cordaro defend the government’s actions.

    “I mean, is there any concept of justice here or are we just doing this because we want to?” the judge asked. “Why do we want to enforce the order? It makes no difference in terms of the larger issues facing the country.”

    […]

    Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo issued a statement on Tuesday saying the federal government has “cruelly” kept Villavicencio from his wife and two young daughters “for no legitimate reason”.

    […]

    Villavicencio and his wife, Sandra Chica, have two girls, aged two and four, who played with toys in court on Tuesday. […]

    “Why is he being detained? Is he a threat to the community? Is he a risk of flight?” Crotty asked. “What is the danger to the community for a man who has committed no crime?”

  220. blf says

    Al Jazeera finally reports on Sondos al-Qattan† pro-slavery bellowing (see @223 & @264), Beauty brands ban Kuwaiti blogger over comments on Filipino maids:

    […]
    Al-Qattan told AFP by phone that the outcry was unjustified and did not require an apology.

    All I said was that the employer was entitled to keep the servant’s passport and that many Kuwaitis and Gulf nationals agree with me, said al-Qattan.

    I have the right as a kafil (sponsor) to keep my employee’s passport, and I am responsible for paying a deposit of up to 1,500 dinars ($4957), she said.

    She insisted the practices are not an insult to the employee and do not concern humanity or human rights because I did not deprive the employee of her salary or beat her.

    Al-Qattan’s new comments have added to the outrage on social media.

    “To accept compliments on her looks but to show utter disregard for dignity & human rights is appalling,” one Twitter user said.

    “There is not one ounce of regret in her speech. This sick woman is so unapologetic & unconscionable it should be illegal for her to promote anything.”

    Others called out al-Qattan’s “ignorance”:

    So instead of a public apology for her disgraceful opinions on domestic wokers’ [sic] rights, Sondos Al Qattan decides to bask in ignorance and defend her wrongfulness?? This is messed up on so many levels […]

    […]

    According to changes in the Kuwaiti law, a domestic worker will work 12 hours a day, with a one hour break. The worker must be provided with a personal mobile phone with internet connection and must have their passport with them at all times.

    The law also requires one day off a week, and an annual holiday of 22 days paid for by the employer. The worker must also be given a ticket home after two years.

    […] Kuwaiti authorities in April expelled Manila’s ambassador over video footage of Philippine embassy staff helping workers escape employers accused of mistreatment.

    As I somewhat suspected might happen, Al Jazeera doesn’t mention the underlying system of kafala slavery, or that it is also practiced in Qatar and several other countries. They do report on it every now and then, for example, Qatar introduces changes to labour law (Dec-2016):

    Labour ministry urges patience with reforms, but Amnesty International says changes are insufficient.

    A work-sponsorship system, known as Kefala[], currently requires all foreign workers to obtain their employer’s consent to travel abroad or switch jobs, a measure that rights groups say leaves workers prone to exploitation and forced labour.

    The reforms will establish the creation of state-run “grievance committees” to which workers can appeal if employers deny them permission.

    They will also allow workers who have completed contracts to change jobs freely and imposes fines of up to 25,000 riyals ($6,860) on businesses that confiscate employees’ passports.

    […]

    Although he is in possession of his passport, [Ashish (not his real name)] from India’s Uttar Pradesh state said overtime pay was an issue, and that his overtime pay was often late by as much as six months.

    “Sub-contractors are rubbish; they don’t pay on time. They withhold salaries up to six months,” he said.

    […]

    Amnesty International said in a statement that the new law would “barely scratch the surface of an abusive system”.

    The UK-based rights group called on Qatar to abolish exit permits altogether and ban passport confiscation, as leaving those mechanisms in place leaves workers “at serious risk of human rights abuses”.

    […]

    Indeed, Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge quotes James Lynch, Deputy Director for Global Issues at Amnesty International, on those 2016 Qatari “reforms”:

    This new law may get rid of the word ‘sponsorship’ but it leaves the same basic system intact. It is good that Qatar has accepted that its laws were fuelling abuse, but these inadequate changes will continue to leave workers at the mercy of exploitative bosses.

    It also notes that, in Qatar, kafala slavery applies to essentially all foreign workers, including professionals:

    Little discussed is the fact that high-income professional expatriate workers are also deeply affected by the abuse of the system by companies. A confounding issue is that many of the companies are based out of western nations from the EU, and the US.

    The most typical form of abuse by these companies is the refusal to release employees once their employment has ended with the company. This lack of release (typically through a No Objection Certificate or NOC) restricts employees from moving to another company in Qatar after employment has ended with the present employer.

    This prohibition executed by the company will keep the typical employee from working in Qatar for two years beyond the time their employment ended. In worse cases, the company holds the employee indefinitely in an effort to extort money from the employee when business opportunities fail. […]

      † Other sites, including the BBC and the Grauniad — both of whom usually try to get these things right — spell her surname Alqattan (and I have also seen it spelled Al Qattan). I have no idea what her preference is, and presume this is just variations in Arabic orthography (e.g., Al Jazeera spells its own name that way, but other sites often spell it al-Jazeera).

  221. KG says

    F.O.@255,

    Rouhani may indeed be shifting to nationalist rhetoric – but that still doesn’t mean the prospect of war “yields also for Rouhani”. His whole political strategy was based on improving relations with the outside world, and particularly the USA – and hence getting sanctions lifted and improving the economy. If he shifts to nationalist rhetoric, it’s an admission that the strategy has failed, and he’s unlikely to be the one who benefits. As the article says, ramping up tension benefits the hardliners in Iran. That is no doubt a feature rather than a bug from Bolton’s perspective.

  222. blf says

    We’ve halted the spread of deadly Ebola in Congo — so what went right?:

    With the recent outbreak declared over in little more than two months, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s health minister [Oly Ilunga Kalenga] explains how a major crisis was avoided

    The ninth and latest outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is now over. I did not think I would be able to utter these words so soon after it all started on 8 May. This outbreak, the most challenging the country has ever faced, had all the makings of a major crisis.

    […]

    Local ownership remains the cornerstone of a successful response. The Ministry of Health stepped up to lead the efforts on the ground. By the time international support arrived in DRC, the major elements of a full-blown response were already in place and functioning.

    Swift mobilisation of finances is another key factor. The government’s $56.8m (£43.3m) three-month action plan was fully financed within 48 hours of it being released […]. International partners including donor governments and the World Bank also stepped up — the latter triggered its newly operational pandemic emergency financing facility for the first time and swiftly repurposed funds through its existing health programme in DRC to support the effort. […]

    The use of the Ebola vaccine, which proved highly effective in a clinical trial in Guinea in 2015, was one of the most innovative components of this response. The new vaccine has not just proved safe and effective against Ebola; it also changed community perceptions of the disease, which is now seen as treatable. Throughout the outbreak, more than 3,300 people were vaccinated. I was vaccinated myself to show the vaccine’s safety and break the stigma around it.

    […] Church and traditional leaders are your best allies to carry public health messages that require communities to change age-old habits and challenge their traditions. In Mbandaka, our strongest health advocates became the 4,000 motorcycle taxi drivers, whose daily work put them at risk of transporting infectious people. They started promoting vaccination and hygiene messages on local radio.

    […] Health responders from Guinea participated in the vaccination efforts, epidemiologists from the newly created Africa Centres for Disease Control and the African Field Epidemiology Network worked with our experts on surveillance. […]

    The BBCs report, Ebola: How a killer disease was stopped in its tracks, points out using the vaccine in the local conditions was not at all straightforward:

    […]
    The relatively small number of deaths follows the use of an experimental vaccine, which may have saved hundreds, or even thousands of lives.

    […]

    However, keeping the vaccine safe and making sure it reached the right people was not a straightforward task.

    The vaccine must be kept extremely cold, at minus 70C.

    This is difficult and expensive to do in a remote environment with unreliable electricity. Alongside the vaccine, fridges and generators had to be flown into the region by helicopter.

    Isolation and treatment facilities had to be built, mobile laboratories set up and local laboratory technicians trained to test samples and confirm cases of Ebola.

    For the vaccine to be effective, it had to be given to the right people.

    Health workers spoke to patients, their families and the wider community to dispel rumours, build trust and avoid panic.

    This, they explained to community leaders, was not a mass campaign.

    Vaccinations were given to the Ebola patient, plus a “ring” of friends, family and contacts — as well as healthcare workers and people involved in burials. All had to give their consent.

    Identifying and finding all the people suspected Ebola patients had been in contact with was a major challenge because of the location.

    Health workers had to travel by motorbike to places where there are no paved roads.

    Despite these challenges, there has been high uptake rate and an estimated 98% of those eligible were vaccinated.

    […]

    There has also been work to reintegrate survivors with their community because in former outbreaks survivors were sometimes ostracised by their families and neighbours.

    […]

    Two years after it was first tested, the vaccine still works, but we don’t yet know how long-lasting the protection will be.

    More than one Ebola vaccine is needed, so we’re not reliant on just one manufacturer.

    […]

    Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of WHO, is quoted as saying “The government was quick to respond, quick to invite support where needed, and quick to inform the public about the risks of the disease. This kind of leadership saves lives” (How the Democratic Republic of Congo ended the Ebola outbreak).

    Congratulations to DRC, and to WHO and others who responded promptly and effectively to DRC’s requests.

  223. says

    “Justice Department: Use ‘illegal aliens,’ not ‘undocumented'”:

    The Justice Department has instructed US attorneys offices not to use the term “undocumented” immigrants and instead refer to someone illegally in the US as “an illegal alien,” according to a copy of an agency-wide email obtained by CNN.

    According to the email, the Justice Department uses terms in the US Code to describe an individual who is illegally in the US, and thus refers to them as “an illegal alien.”

    “The word ‘undocumented’ is not based in US code and should not be used to describe someone’s illegal presence in the country,” the email states.

    The issue of how to describe people in the US illegally has long been a subject of heated debate. In 2013, The Associated Press Stylebook changed its terminology to not describe a person as illegal, only actions. The AP Stylebook is widely followed across media outlets in the US. Most outlets, including CNN use the term “undocumented immigrant,” and only use terms like “alien” when directly quoting a government agency or official.

    A Justice Department spokesman did not dispute the authenticity of the email and pointed to the line about seeking consistency and remedying confusion.

    I wrote about the AP Stylebook change at the time in 2013. My post quotes Janet Napolitano dismissing the matter as “vocabulary wars.” I wonder how she feels about the new DoJ guidance.

  224. says

    “Exclusive: White House stops announcing calls with foreign leaders”:

    The White House has suspended the practice of publishing public summaries of President Donald Trump’s phone calls with world leaders, two sources with knowledge of the situation tell CNN, bringing an end to a common exercise from Republican and Democratic administrations.

    It’s unclear if the suspension is temporary or permanent. A White House spokesman declined to comment.

    Official descriptions of the President’s calls with foreign leaders — termed “readouts” in Washington parlance — offer administrations the chance to characterize in their own terms the diplomacy conducted at the highest levels between countries. While news is rarely contained in the rote, often dry descriptions, they do offer the only official account that a phone call took place. Readouts are still released internally.

    Trump has had at least two calls with other leaders in the last two weeks, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The White House confirmed that the calls took place after they were reported by foreign media, but declined to elaborate on what was said.

    The White House has not published a readout of a call between Trump and a world leader since mid-June when he called to congratulate the Hungarian prime minister on his re-election victory….

  225. says

    Catching up on a few items from the weekend…

    “Did Putin share stolen election data with Trump?”:

    …The Russian hackers, in other words, are the modern equivalents of the Watergate burglars in 1972. The only difference is the technology. The Watergate burglars broke into the Democratic campaign offices to tap phones and steal documents; the Russian hackers used malware and “cloud-based accounts” to achieve the same goal.

    Did they share this information with the Trump campaign? If so, the timing is interesting. In October, a few weeks after the hackers broke into the DNC servers, New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman observed a major shift in the way the Trump campaign was spending its advertising budget. Access to Democratic Party data would, of course, have been useful in redirecting that spending. At about the same time, Trump also began using a curious set of conspiratorial slogans and messages, all lifted directly from Russian state television and websites. From Barack Obama “founded ISIS” to Hillary Clinton will start “World War III,” Trump repeated them at his rallies and on his Twitter feed. It was as if he had some reason to believe they would work.

    It’s important to stop and acknowledge that the evidence we have does not establish this kind of connection between Russian hackers and the Trump campaign; the Mueller probe needs to continue unimpeded to help determine what happened and what did not. But shared data could explain why Russian state media, the Russian Internet Research Agency and the Trump campaign were all doing the same kinds of things at the same time….

    A related article about the suspicious surge of Kremlin-backed tweets just ahead of that fateful news day in October 2016.

  226. says

    Tim O’Brien:

    On the Trump/Cohen tapes that @CNN published tonight, Allen Weisselberg, the CFO of the Trump Org, is referred to by Cohen – who says Weisselberg was aware of LLCs being used to funnel payments…. [link to his May article on Weisselberg’s significance]

    Weisselberg worked as Fred Trump’s accountant and has been Donald Trump’s CFO for years.. He knows more about the Trump Organization’s finances than almost anyone. If he’s now exposed to investigators, this all moves into the heart of Trump’s business dealings.

  227. says

    “Spotting CNN on a TV Aboard Air Force One, Trump Rages Against Reality”:

    On the first couple’s recent trip overseas, Melania Trump’s television aboard Air Force One was tuned to CNN. President Trump was not pleased.

    He raged at his staff for violating a rule that the White House entourage should begin each trip tuned to Fox — his preferred network over what he considers the “fake news” CNN — and caused “a bit of a stir” aboard Air Force One, according to an email obtained by The New York Times. The email, an internal exchange between officials in the White House Military Office and the White House Communications Agency last Thursday, also called for the ordering of two additional televisions to support Beam, a TiVo-like streaming device, to make sure the president and first lady could both watch TV in their separate hotel rooms when they travel.

    At the end of the email chain, officials confirmed that tuning the TVs to Fox would be standard operating procedure going forward.

    The channel-flipping flap was the latest example of how Mr. Trump, at a pivotal moment in his presidency, is increasingly living in a world of selected information and bending the truth to his own narrative. As his aides work to keep him insulated from the outside world, Mr. Trump is doubling down in his efforts to tell supporters to trust him over the words of critics and news reports….

  228. says

    Good job by Emily Maitlis of the BBC interviewing Sean Spicer (which pushed him to describe what he thought his role was – to put forward Trump’s “thoughts and feelings” rather than to convey accurate information to the US public).

    (I’ll note that the Access Hollywood comments were not said in private, as he claims. The reason he and Bush were wearing microphones is that they were doing a television appearance, for which they were paid. Those comments were made in a workplace.)

  229. blf says

    Follow-up to @288, Swedish plane protester Elin Ersson: ‘I knew I couldn’t back down — I had to do what I could’:

    […]
    On the video Elin Ersson streamed live on Facebook on Monday, you can hear irate plane passengers shouting: We want to go, sit down! Ersson, her cheeks reddening slightly and her eyes becoming teary, remains standing, and her voice is steady. A member of the cabin crew on the flight from Gothenburg to Istanbul repeatedly asks her to turn off her phone and sit down, or leave the plane. He describes her as an unruly passenger. Ersson, young and slight, stands her ground. “I’m doing what I can to save a person’s life,” she says.

    Did she feel awkward, or exposed? “I was so caught in the moment that I didn’t really realise that everyone was looking at me,” says Ersson […]. “My focus was all on stopping a deportation to Afghanistan.”

    More than two million people have now watched the video of Ersson’s protest as she attempted to stop the deportation of an asylum seeker. “I’m not going to sit down until this person is off the plane,” she says, and she remains standing, her phone’s camera focused on her face because other passengers didn’t want to be filmed. The atmosphere seems hostile. An unseen British man approaches her. You’re upsetting all the people down there, he says. I don’t care what you think. He tries to take her phone, but a flight attendant gives it back. Someone else says: You’re preventing all these passengers going to their destination. Ersson has an untouchable comeback: “But they’re not going to die, he’s going to die.”

    She finally breaks down on the film, not from the hostility of a handful of people, but from the uplifting support of other passengers. People start applauding her; a man three rows away stands up to tell her he is with her. A football team at the back of the plane stand up, too.

    […] In 2015, 163,000 people sought refuge in Sweden, including 35,000 unaccompanied minors, but the government has been pursuing a deportation policy, especially of Afghans. Afghans make up more than half of refugees, but only 28% have been granted asylum. Afghanistan is considered safe, although humanitarian groups point out it is a fragile country in the grip of conflict — more than 3,000 civilians were killed and 7,000 wounded in 2017.

    […]

    As it turns out, the man who was on the aeroplane to be deported is not the individual Ms Ersson and her colleagues thought would be onboard. As the interview concludes:

    The tragic postscript is that she believes the young man she was originally trying to stop getting deported was taken to Stockholm and put on a flight there. “This is how deportations in Sweden work. The people involved know nothing and they are not allowed to reach out to their lawyers or family,” she says […]. “My ultimate goal is to end deportations to Afghanistan.”

    What happened to the man she did stop from being deported is unclear.

  230. says

    Re #296 above – Philip Bump at WaPo contests Maddow’s interpretation:

    …Our transcript and the White House’s were apparently based on the feed that runs only in the right channel. A White House official told CNN’s Abby Phillip that its transcript “did not have Mason’s audio turned up in time,” referring to Reuters reporter Jeff Mason, who asked the question.

    This is not a conspiracy from the White House. While the White House certainly has a track record of misrepresenting facts, this would have been a remarkably futile revision of reality to attempt. As it turns out, they didn’t.

  231. blf says

    Hadley Freedman in the Grauniad, Ivanka Trump’s loyalty to her dad has ruined her fashion line. What a surprise:

    […] Ivanka Trump is shutting her fashion line. What to make of this?

    Is “ha ha ha ha ha ha” an unprofessional answer? Because, if so, you are testing my professionalism […].

    After picking myself off the floor and mending the ribs I cracked from laughing so much, the next thing I would say is what an ingenious turn of events this is. Sales of the brand have been plummeting since the Trumps moved into the White House, and lo, the inevitable has come to pass. There has been much fretting of late from liberals about how to deal with the president, given that he thrives on insults and blossoms under attack. Well, going after the Trump pocketbook and humiliating his daughter, Ivanka, AKA Favourite Child, at the same time is a damn near brilliant double-hander. The only thing that could possibly have hit him more in the gut is if all of his wives, current and ex, ran off with Barack Obama. But we all know No Drama Obama would never betray his wife, unlike some presidents we could mention, and so we must content ourselves with the end of Ivanka’s fashion brand.

    The next thing to marvel at is that her fashion brand still existed at all. President Jimmy Carter had to put his peanut farm into a blind trust before he became president; meanwhile, the Trumps continue to leverage their brand (whatever that’s worth) and various businesses around the world, milking the presidency for every penny it’s worth. According to the Wall Street Journal report, Ivanka has grown “frustrated by the restrictions she placed on the company […] to avoid possible conflicts of interest while serving in the White House”. Oh, frustrations about having to avoid conflicts of interest! Poor diddums!

    What I find so fascinating about Ivanka, exemplified by this story, is how clueless she is. I don’t mean that she is dumb […], what I mean is how she expected things to go a certain way when they were clearly going to go another. [… I]t’s hard to claim you care so much for the welfare of women and babies when your father is literally putting the latter in cages, trying to make abortion inaccessible to most American women by defunding Planned Parenthood and choosing anti-choice zealots for the Supreme Court. Don’t worry, American women, if you need an abortion you can go to Ireland!

    […]

    It’s astounding how many people thought at the beginning of this presidency — and continue to think — that all that matters is enjoying President [sic] Trump’s proxy spotlight and power, and even more astounding that they thought that is all the general public cares about, too. Anyone can get a selfie with a celebrity these days — standing next to power is not in itself impressive. That noise you hear? That’s the screaming inside these people’s heads as they try to block out how they’re going down in history: not as princes and princesses to the king, but a clutch of Squealers from Animal Farm.

    One of the readers adds, in the comments, “let’s not forget this is the woman who stood a few km’s away from the suffering in Gaza, while unveiling the US embassy in Jerusalem; and hugged her children as others were torn from their arms under daddies orders. Let Ivanka go down in history as bringing a new meaning to TBD; To Be Despised.”

  232. blf says

    Heh. An bit of possible good news from traitor don’s invasion of the UK, in an expected place, Jamaica to roll up sleeves and review sexist clothing rules: ‘We must evolve’:

    Government to assess policies where women wearing sleeveless shirts, flip-flops, short skirts and shorts are barred entry

    Before making a trip to visit her daughter in Trinidad and Tobago, the Jamaican author Melanie Schwapp needed to get a yellow fever shot.

    But when she arrived for her appointment at a government-run health clinic, she was turned away by a security guard who told her she could not be admitted because she was wearing a sleeveless shirt.

    “I find it ridiculous,” says Schwapp. “If you are dressing decently, what is the problem if your shoulders are exposed?”

    Cooties.

    [… T]he country’s government has now ordered a review of the unofficial policies under which women are barred entry for wearing sleeveless shirts or blouses — as well as flip-flops, short skirts or shorts.

    […]

    The debate over the “decorum rule” was reignited after Theresa May wore a sleeveless gown during Donald Trump’s visit the UK — prompting women to point out that the British prime minister would probably not be allowed to enter a Jamaican school or hospital wearing the same dress.

    Women often express frustration with the custom, which can cause extreme inconvenience in a Caribbean country where temperatures regularly exceed 30C (86F).

    After lodging a string of access to information requests, local activist Susan Goffe found there was no legal basis or government policy to justify the “rule”, which many see as a remnant of colonial attitudes.

    “It has always struck me as being a ridiculous rule to apply in a tropical country,” said Goffe. But beyond the absurdity, Goffe warned the rule can result in women being denied public services.

    […]

    So perhaps UK PM Theresa May isn’t completely useless, at least not for women in Jamaica.

  233. says

    From the podcast to which SC linked in comment 293: “Wherever Steve Bannon was, Robert Mercer’s money was […]”

    So Bannon was in upper management at Cambridge Analytica, and Mercer’s money funded the nefarious schemes that CA used to promote propaganda supporting Brexit. Ditto for the Trump campaign.

    International criminal activity.

    Bannon doesn’t seem to be doing so well now that he doesn’t have the Mercer money. At least, as far as I can tell, he no longer has Mercer money.

  234. blf says

    Muslim employees at Halliburton called terrorists: lawsuit:

    […]
    Two Muslim men were subjected to racist and Islamaphobic harassment while working at the American multinational energy corporation Halliburton in US state of Texas, according to a federal lawsuit.

    Filed earlier this month by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the lawsuit claims that Hassan Snoubar and Mir Ali were taunted and harassed by supervisors and fellow employees.

    […]

    According to the lawsuit, coworkers accused Snoubar, who is of Syrian descent, of being linked to [daesh] and called him a terrorist and camel jockey.

    […]

    The lawsuit adds that Ali, who is of Indian ancestry, was also called a terrorist, and that a supervisor regularly mocked him about having a magic carpet.

    “Snoubar’s and Ali’s co-workers regularly broadcast derogatory name calling over radio headsets to other workers,” the lawsuit states, adding that supervisors and other employees mocked their “cultural attire” and claimed that “their ‘people’ engaged in bestiality”.

    [… The lawsuit] also requests a permanent injunction barring Halliburton from discrimination based on national origin, religion and retaliation.

    […]

  235. blf says

    Trump cuts cause 250 job losses at UN agency for Palestinian refugees:

    […]
    The UN agency for Palestinian refugees is cutting hundreds of jobs in the Gaza Strip and West Bank after swingeing cuts on its budget imposed by the Trump administration.

    The loss of 250 jobs in the Palestinian territories, revealed on Wednesday, are the first to be announced since the US withdrew hundreds of millions dollars in aid.

    […]

    The statement said the US cut represented an “existential threat” to the agency, which had been trying to raise the money from other donors.

    “The decision of the US to cut $300m in funding to UNRWA this year has been described by our commissioner general as an existential threat to UNRWA,” he said.

    […]

    The cuts follow the decision in January by Donald Trump to cut US aid to Palestinians, citing the decision by Palestinians to halt contact with Washington over the president’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

    We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect, Trump tweeted on 2 January, shortly before the funding freeze was announced.

    With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?

    […]

    Traitor don’s dalekocracy tries to shift the blame, US envoy to UN: Arab states do not really support Palestine:

    Nikki Haley blames Middle Eastern countries for not doing enough to financially help the Palestinians.

    US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has blamed Middle Eastern countries for not doing enough to financially help the Palestinians and assist them with moving the peace process forward.

    […]

    Haley highlighted US assistance to the Palestinians, saying that Washington provided $300m in bilateral aid last year, and “over six billion dollars in bilateral assistance to Palestinians” since 1993.

    She also mentioned US aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) — but without saying that total has been significantly cut.

    […]

    The move essentially cut the only lifeline available to millions of registered refugees across the Middle East who have been relying on UNRWA’s services for more than 70 years.

    […]

  236. says

    New, from @jimsciutto: A European diplomat who’s been briefed by the State Department told CNN that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected make a formal declaration the US will never recognize Crimea as part of Russia.”

    Seems like this leak is intended by the diplomat to lock Pompeo in before Trump can put a stop to it.

  237. blf says

    Teh überbrexit nutters have gone even loonier, and are now proposing supporting the EU should become part of the legal definition of treason, Tory MEP says Treason Act should cover ‘extreme EU loyalty’:

    […]
    A Conservative MEP has come under fire for suggesting that Britain’s Treason Act should be updated to apply to citizens who are working undemocratically against UK through extreme EU loyalty.

    David Bannerman, a former Ukip deputy leader who defected back to the Conservatives in 2011, […] tweeted on Wednesday: It is about time we brought the Treason Act up to date and made it apply to those seeking to destroy or undermine the British state. That means extreme jihadis. It also means those in future actively working undemocratically against UK through extreme EU loyalty.

    […]

    Among those criticising Bannerman was the broadcaster Gavin Esler, who is chancellor at the University of Kent. He tweeted at the MEP: “Unfortunately your comment equating support for the EU with jihadis and treason requires no exaggeration — merely an apology to half the population who are sick of such Brexcrement. Since you are sucking on the euro-teat as an MEP have you no shame?”

    Virendra Sharma, the Labour MP for Ealing Southall, accused Bannerman of “putting a knife into free speech”.

    […]

    Bannerman said the relationship between the UK and the EU would change significantly in future, adding: The EU would become a separate power, a separate state and we would have to treat it in the same way as China or Russia.

    I can’t help noticing his comparisons to the EU are authoritarian nations whose governments are generally considered, if not hostile, at least untrustworthy. Substitute Canada or Japan or New Zealand and the sinister tone of the loon’s bellowing becomes much more obvious.

    The comments come amid concern about the tone of some of the language being used by Brexit-supporting media and supporters, including last year’s Crush the saboteurs front-page headline in the Daily Mail. Some have also said that the language used in attacks on the investor George Soros over a £400,000 donation to Best for Britain echoes the antisemitic campaign against him made by nationalist groups and governments in eastern European countries.

    […]

    This particular überloon is now apparently flailing around wildly trying to clarify his comments. He’s using a large shovel.

  238. blf says

    In the UK, real heroes step up, Ebola heroes to protest over migrants being denied NHS healthcare:

    Around 20 medical staff plan to hand back their decorations and deliver a letter to Downing Street

    British doctors, nurses and midwives hailed as heroes for tackling Ebola are handing back the medals they received from the government in protest at undocumented migrants being denied free NHS care.

    Around 20 NHS staff will on Tuesday return their medals to the Cabinet Office and hand in a letter to Downing Street, telling Theresa May of their “great sorrow and shame” that “hostile environment” immigration policies which she initiated are leading to needless suffering and early death.

    A tough regime of checks on patients’ eligibility for NHS care, and insistence that migrants — often penniless — pay what can be huge sums upfront before they can be treated, began in 2014, when May was the home secretary. But it was tightened last year, when she was prime minister.

    […]

    Lord Dubs, the humanitarian campaigner who fled to Britain in the 1930s to escape the Nazis, will join the health professionals as they hand in their letter at No 10 at lunchtime. “It is disturbing that the immigration checks in the NHS mean that many migrants, refugees and other vulnerable people are in practice all too often being denied access to life-saving medical care,” said Dubs.

    More than 3,000 members of the armed forces, NHS staff, charity workers and others received the medals in 2015 in recognition of their role in helping to contain the outbreak of the Ebola virus that claimed about 11,000 lives in west Africa. It was the first time Britain has struck a medal to mark involvement in a humanitarian crisis, rather than a military conflict.

    […]

    “These policies are short-sighted and there is no evidence that they save the NHS money. They place immigration enforcement above public health and effective delivery of healthcare. It is absolutely right that doctors and nurses speak out about the impact they are having on our hospitals,” said Anna Miller, UK policy and advocacy manager at Doctors of the World, a charity that provides free healthcare at a clinic in London to those who cannot otherwise get it.

    “Our doctors and nurses have seen patients denied cancer treatment, cardiac surgery, palliative care and pregnant women too afraid to access maternity services.

    “These include people fleeing from conflict and persecution, victims of trafficking and destitute people living on the streets with no means to feed themselves,” added Miller.

    Rebecca Daniels of Medact, a public health campaigning charity, said: “We have heard time and time again from health professionals that patients are being racially profiled, that they are afraid to seek treatment and are being denied vital care.”

    […]

  239. says

    #BREAKING: Maryland district court denies President Trump’s motion to dismiss D.C. and Maryland emoluments lawsuit, holding that the plaintiffs have indeed stated a claim that President Trump has violated both the Foreign and Domestic Emoluments Clauses:…”

  240. blf says

    Traitor don is apparently stockpiling his Trump 2020 and other bumpf, since it is made in China and likely to be hit by his own tariffs, Made in China: Trump re-election flags may get burned by his tariffs:

    […]
    The red, white and blue banners for Donald Trump’s second-term campaign […] are made in eastern China and soon could be hit by punitive tariffs of the president’s own making […]

    The factory has turned out about 90,000 banners since March, said manager Yao Yuanyuan, an unusually large number for what is normally the low season, and Yao believed the China–US trade war was the reason.

    “It’s closely related,” she said. “They are preparing in advance, they are taking advantage of the fact that the tariffs haven’t gone up yet, with lower prices now.”

    […]

  241. says

    It’s interesting that in the Trump-Cohen recording Cohen talks about setting up an account to pay for the rights to McDougal’s story and in this context – in which Trump brings up cash, because he’s obsessed with sleazy deals being done with cash – refers to arranging for “funding” and “financing.” This could give the impression that he was planning for the money to come from elsewhere and move through the secret entity, which is exactly how the Essential Consultants account was allegedly used.

  242. says

    Horrific – “Drug overdose toll rises in Philadelphia as heroin prized for ‘purity’ turns out to be contaminated”:

    …On Friday and Saturday, at least 165 people around the city overdosed — an unprecedented number, health officials said… Health officials believe it may have been heroin cut with an anticholinergic, a substance found in muscle relaxers and the antihistamine diphenhydramine (Benadryl) that causes dangerous side effects.

    Yet the death toll — 10 people — is about the typical number of overdose deaths on a given weekend in a city where 1,217 people died of an overdose in 2017.

    Still, the cluster tested the city’s response to overdoses and drove home a fact that advocates, law enforcement officials, and drug users have known for months: Philadelphia’s heroin supply, long noted for its purity and cheapness, is almost entirely contaminated, largely with the synthetic opioid fentanyl and sometimes with other substances.

    Thomas Farley, the city health commissioner, said over the weekend that the alarming incidents are still more proof that the city needs to open a safe injection site, a controlled setting where people can get help more quickly….

  243. blf says

    Apparently the demented slaver (see @223, @264 & @290) is now playing an Islamophobia card, Criticism of me is attack on Kuwait and Hijab, says Sondos Al Qattan:

    […]
    Kuwaiti blogger and social media influencer Sondos Al Qattan has hit back at her critics, saying that the foreign media campaign against her is an attack on Islam, the Hijab and Kuwait.

    In a video shared widely shared on Twitter, Qattan[] says the criticism of her remarks concerning legislation protecting the rights of Filipino domestic workers is an intentional effort to damage Kuwait and the wider Gulf region.

    In the video, she also asked why her critics have, in her view, expressed more outrage over her remarks than they have over humanitarian crises in Syria, Iraq and Gaza.

    Qattan vowed to reveal any brands that have severed relationships with her, so that her followers can boycott them.

    […]

    On Tuesday night, Qattan put up a post promoting perfumes produced by Al Jazeera Perfumes[], a Kuwait-based company.

    On Wednesday, she posted another image of herself with the caption do what’s right and don’t do what’s trending.

    […]

    Her threatened list of companies / brands who object to slavery sounds like the sort of list one wants to be on.

    This gentleman seems to understand what she clearly does not, UAE vlogger criticises Sondos Al Qattan over Kuwaiti domestic worker comments:

    Popular Emirati influencer and vlogger Khalid Al Ameri has taken to Facebook to defend the rights of Filipino domestic workers in response to Kuwaiti social media star Sondos Al Qattan’s controversial criticism of legislation designed to protect their rights.

    […]

    “How would you feel if you worked for someone that didn’t only not give you a day-off, but disagreed with the very ideology that you deserve a day-off?,” he asked. “If I’m not mistaken, almost every job in the world, barring a few security jobs and military jobs, have a day off. A day of rest, a day to go out, a day to enjoy life.”

    Ameri added, “We’re not robots at the end of the day. We’re all humans and expect to have time to rest and time for ourselves.”

    Ameri also expressed disapproval of what he termed Qattan’s “rant” in which she said she feared that giving workers access to their passports may lead to them fleeing the country.

    “If I worked for you, I would run so far away, the CIA wouldn’t be able to find me, I would dig a hole so deep, you wouldn’t be able to smell my scent,” he said.

    “I would disappear. I would cease to exist. I would never show my face in this world again out of fear you might find me and might ask me to work for you again.”

    […]

    Both of the above excerpts are from ArabianBusiness, whose reliability is unknown to me.

      † Yet another variation on Arabic orthography, I assume. (I thought omitting “al-” is generally considered poor form, albeit a quick search suggests it’s more complicated than that.)

      ‡ No relation to Al Jazeera media.

  244. says

    SC @312, lots of corrections are needed to the transcript of that recording. So far, the White House has issued only incomplete and/or misleading transcripts. Looking forward to seeing the WH forced to correct the record.

    In other news, I have other obligations starting tomorrow. I will be absent from this thread for a few days. Everyone knows the drill. Carry on.

    PZ recently renewed this thread’s lease on life, so there should not be a problem with it timing out while I am gone.

  245. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 303.

    At an official presidential event in Kansas City yesterday — not a campaign event — Trump told the VFW’s national convention about his support for Josh Hawley’s Republican Senate campaign in Missouri. The GOP candidate was also invited to say a few words to attendees.

    Link

    Taxpayers are paying for Trump to stump for Republican candidates.

  246. says

    Christian pastors get mentioned by name in Cohen’s Trump tape

    […]
    TRUMP: And, your guy is a good guy. He’s a good –

    COHEN: Who, Pastor Scott?

    TRUMP: Can’t believe this. No, Pastor Scott. What’s, what’s happening –

    COHEN: No –

    TRUMP: Can we use him anymore?

    COHEN: Oh, yeah, a hundred – no, you’re talking about Mark Burns. He’s, we’ve told him to [UNINTELLIGIBLE].

    TRUMP: I don’t need that – Mark Burns, are we using him?

    COHEN: No, no.

    Without more details and context, it’s a little difficult to understand the exact nature of this exchange, though Trump and Cohen were almost certainly referring to Mark Burns and Darrell Scott, two Christian pastors associated with the Republican campaign in 2016.

    The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins made the case that Trump was “asking about which pastor surrogates he can ‘use’ to cover for him,” which is probably not the sort of thing most ministers would want to hear, especially on a recording that deals with payoffs involving a former mistress.

    But that’s what made Burns’ response so interesting.

    On Twitter last night, Burns, who ran a failed congressional campaign in South Carolina this year, wrote, “I’ve been saying for almost 2 yrs some in the campaign tried to marginalize my role, in the closing days. This tape and the fact that I remained traveling with and speaking for the campaign after this conversation. is even more proof @realDonaldTrump remained in my corner. #maga”

    In other words, the recording features Trump asking about using the conservative pastor, and instead of taking offense, Burns thinks this is great news.

  247. says

    BREAKING: Pompeo says US will never recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea, demands Ukraine territorial integrity be restored.”

    Bolton now saying the meeting with Putin (the invitation to which Putin hadn’t accepted) won’t go forward until 2019 – “until the Russia witch hunt is over.”

    Pompeo hearing starting shortly.

  248. says

    Really.

    Pompeo’s doing a lot of dancing to avoid answering questions about Helsinki. I was washing dishes, but I don’t think anyone’s asked him yet about the “incredible” proposal to hand over McFaul and several other US officials.

  249. says

    “National Enquirer’s Yearslong Dealings With Trump Lawyer Fall Under Federal Scrutiny”:

    Michael Cohen and the publisher of the National Enquirer forged an alliance over the years, looking out for the interests of Donald Trump and each other. Now, federal investigators are examining those ties as part of a wide-ranging probe into Mr. Cohen’s personal business dealings and his self-described role as Mr. Trump’s fixer.

    In previously unreported interactions, some of which are memorialized in emails now under review, Mr. Cohen mediated a dispute between Omarosa Manigault-Newman, who had been a star on Mr. Trump’s “Apprentice” reality TV show, and the Enquirer over a story about her brother’s murder. He intervened in a separate legal case on behalf of David Pecker, chief executive of Enquirer parent American Media Inc. And when American Media paid a doorman who alleged that Mr. Trump fathered a child with one of his employees, a company executive ordered reporters to stop investigating after speaking with Mr. Cohen.

    The revelations show a relationship characterized by mutual benefit and favor-trading on a greater scale than was previously known. The shared history could expose American Media, Mr. Cohen and by extension, Mr. Trump, to criminal campaign-finance charges. For example, federal agents and prosecutors in New York are investigating whether Mr. Cohen, acting as Mr. Trump’s representative, improperly coordinated with American Media to keep an ex-Playboy model’s account of an affair with Mr. Trump under wraps in the months before the 2016 presidential election, people familiar with the matter said.

    One looming issue for both prosecutors and AMI is the publisher’s status as a media organization, which would afford it First Amendment protections. The Justice Department is examining whether American Media at times acted more like an extension of Mr. Trump and his campaign, a person familiar with the matter said….

    The Omarosa story involves a legal action she brought against AMI concerning a reporter going to her murdered brother’s fucking funeral, interacting with people without divulging that she was a reporter, and then printing their comments as an “exclusive.” Omarosa settled in exchange for receiving a no-work job at AMI publications. I think I’m done reading about these people for today.

  250. says

    Ari Melber is airing a special first-anniversary episode of “The Beat” right now. I’ve enjoyed the show’s first year immensely. He and Nicolle Wallace have been fantastic additions to the MSNBC lineup. (I do still miss Alex Wagner.)

  251. says

    Wow. The U.S. passport office just called and told me that due to an ‘error’, the government has retroactively invalidated the change of gender marker it authorized on my passport last year. They won’t renew my passport w/ correct name & gender until i submit a new doctors note…”

    I reviewed a book a few years ago about the importance of addressing administrative violence against trans people:

    …One of the most interesting sections of the book argues for a shifting legal focus. Spade suggests that an exclusive focus on reformist efforts to include trans people in marriage, the military, antidiscrimination and hate-crime laws should give way to campaigns that challenge the administrative systems that categorize and shape people’s life chances – healthcare institutions, welfare programs, employment, shelters, addiction “treatment” programs, immigration bureaucracies, prisons, and so on – and their practices of categorization and surveillance. These systems control “access to food, transportation, public safety, public health, and the like.” As such, they’re “the legal systems that distribute security and vulnerability at the population level and sort the population into those whose lives are cultivated and those who are abandoned, imprisoned, or extinguished.”

    I was especially intrigued by the discussion of the “War on Terror” and the expansion of the security state and its surveillance apparatus. The security state, as it always has, attempts to shore up traditional categories and to exclude and police anyone whose identity or behavior is seen to threaten them. The ID programs of recent years also, as Spade points out, push in the direction of fixed and stable identities. “The augmentation of US security culture,” including the sharing and cross-referencing of information across agencies, “has raised the level of stability demanded of our identities and has sharpened the tools that heighten the vulnerability of those who are not ‘fully authorized’ in any particular administrative context.”…

    An important aspect of Claudia Koontz’s The Nazi Conscience is the discussion of how people who abhorred the street violence of the SA became accustomed to the administrative violence of the regime, which was far more efficient. We have to work to remain cognizant of this kind of violence and oppression.

  252. says

    Lynna @ #285:

    Chris Hayes hosted an excellent segment tonight on the status of migrant families that were separated at the border….

    I agree – it was an excellent segment. I still can’t wrap my head around what they’ve done. Did they think the parents would just be deported and forget about their children? That no one would notice or mind? And what were they planning to do with the children?

  253. says

    I’m not sure which is the worse possibility: That they had a plan for how to dispose of the children or that they just didn’t even bother thinking about it.

  254. says

    Rachael Bade:

    HERE we GO: @RepMarkMeadows and his little red folder … files articles of impeachment against Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein on the House floor.

    IMPORTANT note: Conservatives chose NOT to file this as a privileged resolution. That means that they don’t get to force a vote on it on the House floor. This avoids the GOP civil war that would take place if they DID try to force a vote on this. Rs VERY divided on the matter.

  255. says

    LykeX:

    I’m not sure which is the worse possibility: That they had a plan for how to dispose of the children or that they just didn’t even bother thinking about it.

    I was thinking the same thing. I try to imagine what was going through their heads and just end up sputtering in disbelief.

  256. says

    Lisa O’Carroll:

    BREAKING: Raab promises government will “make sure there is adequate food” in Britain in the event of no Brexit deal. But says it is wrong to say government itself is stockpiling.

    Britain has had long term decline in food self-sufficiency. This is well known. Govt stats show only 49% of food/drink consumer here produced here.

    The leading foreign supplier of food consumed in the UK were countries from the EU (30%). Africa supplied 5%, Asia, North and South America all provided a 4%.

    But we have whiskey to keep us going!
    “In 2016 the value of imports was greater than value of exports in each of the broad categories of food, feed and drink except ‘Beverages’ which had a trade surplus of £1.35 bn, largely due to exports of Scotch Whisky.”

    So rest easy, Brits!

    In all seriousness, the WWII Victory Gardens really pushed towards self-sufficiency. One of my pet conspiracy theories is that they and the entire culture surrounding them were destroyed on behalf of a growing agribusiness (including chemical industries) lobby. I did a little research on the topic years ago, but it was too preliminary to reach any conclusions.

  257. says

    A decade ago Republicans protested strenuously against economic stimulus during the biggest recession since the Great Depression.

    But today they are shrugging off $12 billion in subsidies to farmers made necessary because of a 1920’s era tariff policy from a GOP president.”

  258. says

    Adam Schiff: “These articles of impeachment against Rod Rosenstein were filed in bad faith and show extraordinary lengths to which House Republicans will go to protect Trump. History will record these Members as willing accomplices in the most serious threat to the rule of law in a generation.”

  259. blf says

    This is a rather long article about James Thompson, who leans progressive, and is running in the district where the Kochs live. He almost won a special election last year, and is now rapidly closing the gap on the current thug, Ron Estes (who replaced Mike Pompeo in that special election). In the excerpt below, however, I’m concentrating mostly on how dummie central is acting: “It’s a herculean undertaking to fight the forces that work against Thompson’s campaign: Fox News, the Koch brothers, his own Democratic party.” They thought this was Trump country. Hell no:

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders visited Wichita, Kansas, to woo progressives in support of congressional candidate James Thompson. Is the red state ready to turn blue?
    […]
    A hard story often comes with hard language. During a period of homelessness, Thompson bathed, washed clothes and fished for food in a canal, fought for emancipation from an abusive parent and attended 16 schools before finishing high school. This is a not a man who, in the face of rising authoritarianism, will be “civil” to please pearl-clutching political leaders on either side of the aisle.

    This is precisely his appeal in southern Kansas. Thompson might be a new star for coastal reporters. But his combination of progressive ideas and unapologetically impolite language has been gaining supporters — and even converting some Trump voters — for a year and a half without the national Democratic party lifting a finger.

    […]

    [Ocasio-Cortez’s] 48-hour tour of Wichita, Kansas City, Kansas, and St Louis, Missouri, confirmed this theory [of the extent to which working-class voters have felt forgotten], recalling fellow community organizer Barack Obama’s musings about his well-received travels through the rural midwest as a black liberal.

    “The thing that I hear over and over and over again is ‘Thank you for coming here’. ‘Thank you for coming,’” she said, her tone implying incredulousness that, besides Sanders, other Democrats with national platforms hadn’t deigned to visit. “Presence is such a basic thing to ask for.”

    Sanders told me by phone from Washington, a few days after his Kansas stop, that a 50-state strategy is common sense.

    “It is beyond comprehension, the degree to which the Democratic party nationally has essentially abdicated half of the states in this country to right-wing Republicans, including some of the poorest states in America, those in the south,” Sanders said. “The reason I go to Kansas and many so-called red states is that I will do everything that I can to bring new people into the political process in states which are today conservative. I do not know how you turn those states around unless you go there and get people excited.”

    […]

    [Thompson] has already knocked 25 points off the Republican party’s lead — from 31 points when Pompeo won in 2014 to just six points in last year’s special election won by Representative Ron Estes. Before the rally with Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, Thompson reflected on the difference between his approach and that of opponent Estes when he’s back from Washington.

    “(He) is either in a vehicle waving or walking down the center of the street waving,” Thompson said. “He had 400 individual donations in the special election. We had 29,000. As long as he’s got his 400 people that are willing to donate money, and the big corporate PACs giving money, he doesn’t need to dirty his hands shaking hands with people.”

    On social media, Thompson has been challenging Estes to debate him in each of the district’s 17 counties — “show up or shut up” — with no response. While under a very different context, it’s not so unlike when New York representative Joe Crowley kept failing to appear at primary debates against Ocasio-Cortez.

    “Thinking that you can get a job without showing up for the job interview just is wild to me,” Thompson said.

    This is the great irony of conservative criticism of progressive candidates. Candidates such as Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez and Thompson are accused of seeking handouts for lazy moochers, while evidence suggests they are the hardest workers in the fight.

    […]

    Meanwhile, leaders in the Democratic party from House minority leader Nancy Pelosi to former senator Joe Lieberman have been critical of this excitement, saying it won’t play in middle America or that moving left harms the party.

    “If a centrist model is what works (in Kansas) then why has that centrist model not won the past 20 years, and in fact lost by 20–30 points in every election since (1992)?” Thompson asked me. “The idea that we need to be more like Republicans so we can beat Republicans is asinine. We need to have a clear choice. Something to vote for instead of against.”

    One such thing would be Medicare for all, he said, which he acknowledged isn’t feasible under the current legislature but has pledged to work toward. When describing public healthcare or other programs that have been defunded or privatized into oblivion, he put it in language working-class voters might appreciate.

    “It’s like taking a car, taking the battery out and going, ‘Oh, see, it doesn’t run anymore. So we need to get rid of it,’” Thompson said. “Put the battery back in.” [emphasis in original]

    He laughed when I noted there are a lot of lawmakers who would never think of a car battery as an analogy — because they’ve never had to change one. Thompson explained that law school taught him to avoid legalese when addressing a jury.

    “(Voters) want to hear me talking about real solutions in plain language that is not mealy mouthed and trying to play both sides of the fence,” said Thompson […] “Regardless of whether they agree or not, they’re going to respect that a lot more.”

    […]

    While he does not identify as a Democratic socialist like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez, Thompson is perceived at the national level as a party rebel for his stances on the minimum wage, health care and other basic assurances that all three candidates insist will summon voters regardless of location in midterm primaries and elections this year.

    “They’re not radical ideas — they’re common sense ideas,” Thompson told the crowd at the convention hall. They laughed when he added, “That’s why we see a crowd of thousands here today when there was a MAGA rally four days ago that had 50 people at it.”

    But Thompson got some of the event’s wildest cheers when he spoke about the supposedly more divisive matters of women’s reproductive rights — he is a staunch defender of Roe v Wade — and drug laws.

    “When people talk about raising money for our state? Here’s an idea: legalize marijuana,” he said, and the crowd exploded.

    […]

    I do suggest reading the whole thing.

  260. says

    In Butina/Kremlin/NRA/Family/Republican news…

    “Maria Butina: ties emerge between NRA, alleged spy and Russian billionaire”:

    Senior members of the National Rifle Association (NRA) met the wife of the Russian billionaire who allegedly gave financial support to a woman accused of being a secret agent for Moscow in the US.

    The NRA members met Svetlana Nikolaeva, who is the head of a gun company that supplies sniper rifles to the Russian military and intelligence services, during a trip to Moscow during the 2016 election campaign.

    Nikolaeva’s husband, Konstantin Nikolaev, allegedly provided funding to Maria Butina, a young Russian woman charged with carrying out an illicit spying operation in Washington. Nikolaev reportedly once invested in his wife’s gun company.

    No senior NRA official has made any public statement about Butina’s case since news of the charges was announced by the US justice department on 16 July.

    Nikolaev’s son, Andrey, is studying at Columbia University in New York. Andrey was quoted in an article about far-right speakers on campus that was published last year by a student journalist, and identified as a member of the Columbia University College Republicans. But his name was removed from the article following the identification of his father as a supporter of Butina. [?]

    Konstantin Nikolaev also has American business interests. He is a director on the board of American Ethane, a Texas-based energy company that recently signed $26bn dollar export deal with China. The agreement, signed as part of Trump’s official visit to Beijing last year, was championed by the president.

    The Guardian disclosed earlier this month that a former chief of staff to Putin had a previously unreported investment in American Ethane. The former Putin aide, Alexander Voloshin, is part of a consortium of Russian investors in the firm that also previously included the London-based oligarch Roman Abramovich.

    (Nikolaev didn’t appear in my list of possible funders @ #43 because he wasn’t listed under $1.2 billion in the Forbes list, but their individual profile of him has that amount as his current “real time net worth.”)

    “Clandestine U.S. Christian Org Linked to Anti-Semitic Leader”:

    Maria Butina, the alleged Russian agent arrested by the FBI last week, is said to have attended the National Prayer Breakfast in order to cultivate Republican officials.

    But Butina is far from the religious group’s only questionable association.

    The organization that runs the National Prayer Breakfast, the Fellowship Foundation, sent Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) to Romania in May of last year to meet with an infamous anti-Semitic political operative, Marian Munteanu, according to federal travel disclosure records. Once there, Aderholt met with Munteanu on two separate occasions. Other travel records show they met in May of 2015 as well, again at the behest of the organization.

    The relationship that the Fellowship Foundation has with Munteanu doesn’t seem to be limited to Aderholt. Last year, Munteanu said in a post on his Facebook page that the Fellowship Foundation’s founder, Doug Coe, was a “close friend.” Also, Munteanu’s personal website includes a photo of him with Coe.

    Munteanu attended last year’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, according to a Romanian report quoting Munteanu’s Facebook page. The report does not identify who invited him.

    Last week, TYT reported that the Fellowship sent Aderholt to several eastern European countries shortly after Donald Trump won the Republican primary. TYT also reported that the Fellowship, along with its Ukrainian affiliate, sent at least four Republican members of Congress to various eastern European countries, where they worked with political advocates of anti-LGBT policies which could jeopardize E.U. membership.

    Munteanu was not the only figure of controversy with whom Aderholt met during his 2017 trip. Aderholt also met with a number of scandal-plagued political and business elites.

    On May 29, 2017, Aderholt met with the Prime Minister of Romania, Sorin Grindeanu, whose ministership would end up lasting all of five months….

    On three separate occasions, from May 27 to 29 of 2016, Aderholt met with former defense minister of Albania, Fatmir Mediu….

    On May 27, 2016, Aderholt met with Nenad Popovic, the pro-Russia president of the Serbian People’s Party….

    On June 1, 2016, Aderholt met with Rinat Akhmetov, whom Forbes currently ranks as the 334th richest person in the world, and is known as Ukraine’s wealthiest citizen. Akhmetov reportedly had ties to the corrupt, pro-Russia Viktor Yanukovych, the former Ukrainian president who was ousted after mass protests in 2014. According to a leaked diplomatic cable, then U.S. ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst called Akhmetov the “godfather” of Yanukovych’s political party, which Herbst described as a “haven for Donetsk-based mobsters.”

    Jeff Sharlet tweeted: “Alabama GOP rep Bob Aderholt has been one of the Family’s most frequent fliers. When I wrote about him in C STREET, he was joining Mike Pence & Jeff Sessions to smooth arms deals for Sri Lanka’s brutal regime. Now, it seems, he’s making some really scary friends in Romania.”

  261. says

    “New Emails Show Michigan Republicans Plotting to Gerrymander Maps”:

    Newly disclosed emails show Michigan Republicans angling to give their party a dominant position through gerrymandered maps and celebrating the plight of their Democratic rivals.

    Republicans in the state have denied that they sought partisan gain when they drew new legislative boundaries in 2011. But a federal lawsuit, which argues the maps are unconstitutional, has unearthed records showing Republicans intent on drawing boundaries that would help their party.

    The emails, disclosed in a filing on Monday, boast of concentrating “Dem garbage” into four of the five southeast Michigan districts that Democrats now control, and of packing African-Americans into a metropolitan Detroit House district. One email likened a fingerlike extension they created in one Democratic district map to an obscene gesture toward its congressman, Representative Sander M. Levin.

    “Perfect. It’s giving the finger to Sandy Levin,” the author of the message wrote. “I love it.”

    …The email excerpts disclose that Republican drafters wanted to create a map that would give the party 10 House seats and Democrats only four. That would have been too blatant, wrote Robert LaBrant, a Republican strategist, longtime executive at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and a recognized expert at drawing political maps.

    “We needed for legal and PR purposes a good looking map that did not look like an obvious gerrymander,” Mr. LaBrant wrote in May 2011 to Jeff Timmer, a consultant to the drafting process….

    The Detroit News, citing another filing in the lawsuit, reported last week that Mr. LaBrant also pledged that month to give one Republican congressman at the time, Dave Camp, “whatever Dave wants in his district.”

    “We’ve spent a lot of time providing options to ensure we have a solid 9-5 delegation in 2012 and beyond,” the email stated.

    The newly unearthed emails could lend momentum to a proposed constitutional amendment to end gerrymandering, which is set to be on the ballot in Michigan in November. The amendment is written and promoted by a nonpartisan group called Voters Not Politicians.

    The emails recall similar Republican redistricting efforts in 2016 in North Carolina…

    “We’re seeing more and more of these cases in which the intent to gerrymander is so blatant and the ugliness of the process is becoming transparent to the courts and the general public,” Richard H. Pildes, an election-law scholar at the New York University School of Law, said in an interview. “That certainly can’t make the courts comfortable.”

    The Supreme Court declined to rule on the constitutionality of partisan gerrymanders this spring, and many experts say they believe Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s retirement announcement last month have lowered the odds that the court will outlaw the practice.

    “It looks like naked partisanship, and that might be permissible,” said Barry Burden, the director of the Elections Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “If it’s merely one party trying to harm the fortunes of the other, the court thus far has given that the green light, and it might continue to.”

  262. says

    Rep. Jayapal: “A mom told us her relationship with her 8yo daughter would never be the same. Officials lied to the daughter, saying her mom abandoned her. They said she’d live in a shelter until she was 18. When they reunited, the daughter believed that and wanted nothing to do with her mom.”

    A former immigration official on CNN this morning said he thinks a number of these children will never be reunited with their parents – will become wards of the state, put in foster care, adopted. That CANNOT HAPPEN. This is insanity.

  263. blf says

    Israeli cartoonist fired over ‘Animal Farm’ Netanyahu caricature:

    PM and allies drawn as pigs in magazine after passing law giving exclusive rights to Jews

    You can guess, right now, what one of the claims about the caricature is.

    An Israeli magazine has fired its long-serving cartoonist after he portrayed Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies as pigs from George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

    The illustration referenced the Israeli prime minister and members of his party taking a congratulatory selfie after passing a contentious law in parliament that has been decried as giving Jewish people more rights than the country’s minorities.

    Avi Katz parodied the photo with a depiction of the politicians as characters from the 1945 novella in a cartoon for the Jerusalem Report, an Israeli English-language magazine owned by the Jerusalem Post newspaper.

    “All animals are equal. But some are more equal than others,” the cartoon quoted from the book […]

    In Orwell’s work, inspired by the early 20th-century totalitarian Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin, the pig leaders promise equality to all yet later declare themselves the privileged species.

    The cartoon’s publication in the fortnightly magazine was met with online support but also anger by many on social media, some of whom suggested the portrayal of Israeli politicians as pigs was antisemitic.

    See? Pigs = anti-Semitic = invalid criticism. So so predictable… and ludicrous.

    [… T]he Jerusalem Post said it would no longer work with Katz, who has contributed to the company for three decades.

    Katz told the Guardian he “thought the cartoon was relatively mild and my firing was idiotic, but I’m delighted to see the enormous support I’ve received over the last couple of days”.

    The Union of Journalists in Israel called on the Post to retract “this unacceptable step” and a colleague of Katz’s resigned in protest.

    Haim Watzman, a Jerusalem Report short fiction writer, published his resignation letter on Facebook, saying he could not “be associated with a publication that dumps a staff member simply because his work has upset some readers.

    “Journalism, when done well, always angers some readers, and it is the duty of the newspaper or magazine’s editors and managers to stand by writers and other members of the staff when readers complain about the analysis and opinions expressed by its staff,” he wrote.

    […]

    Picture & cartoon at the link.

  264. says

    Interesting article – “Maria Butina was the ultimate NRA Cool Girl”: “The sexy narrative of Maria Butina is that she’s a devious femme fatale. But her maneuvering through Second Amendment circles revealed as much about her marks’ desires as it did about her own plotting. Maria Butina was NRA Cool Girl. Her Russian compatriots might have hacked into servers and political databases. She learned to hack the American psyche.”

  265. blf says

    Somewhat similar to what has now happened in Bavaria (Germany), in Italy there is apparently now a proposal to display torture devices in public spaces. Even the raping children cult is not impressed (at least in public), Pope Francis adviser decries Matteo Salvini’s ‘co-option’ of crucifix:

    […]
    A close adviser to Pope Francis has strongly condemned a proposal by Italy’s far-right League party to make it obligatory for crucifixes to be displayed in all public spaces, including ports, schools, embassies and prisons.

    The bill, introduced for debate in parliament earlier this week, would include fines of up to €1,000 […] for failing to comply.

    In a tweet that went viral on Wednesday, Reverend Antonio Spadaro, the editor of the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, wrote that the crucifix should never be used as a political symbol and said politicians should keep their hands off.

    […]

    The League has a strong following among devout Catholics, and Salvini — who is also Italy’s interior minister and deputy prime minister — often brandishes a rosary during public speeches.

    Italian priests, however, have been the strongest opponents of his vitriolic anti-immigration stance since his party took power in coalition with the populist Five Star Movement in early June. The leading Roman Catholic weekly, Famiglia Cristiana compared him to Satan on its front cover on Wednesday.

    Heh. That would sting if the Italian “government” loons were actually devote believers. Whilst I don’t know that they aren’t, they do seem to act more like cynical authoritarians quite happy to do anything to increase their wealth:

    […]
    Salvini hit back. They are comparing me to Satan? I don’t deserve that, he wrote on Facebook. […]

    Salvini […] often exploits religion to galvanise support. During a speech in early July he swore on the gospel to be loyal to his people while pledging to create a European-wide alliance against mass immigration.

    “It’s ridiculous,” Gianfranco Formenton, a priest in Italy’s central Umbria region whom Salvini attacked in 2015 after he banned racists from his church, said. “He knows that by using the cross he gets consensus among voters. Spadaro said it perfectly.”

  266. says

    “Trump Organization Finance Chief Called to Testify Before Federal Grand Jury”:

    Allen Weisselberg, a longtime financial gatekeeper for President Donald Trump, has been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury in the criminal probe of Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, according to people familiar with the investigation.

    Mr. Weisselberg is considered a witness in the investigation, the people said. It isn’t known whether he has already appeared before the grand jury or what questions prosecutors of New York’s Southern District have had for him. The date of the subpoena couldn’t be determined.

    For decades, Mr. Weisselberg has served as executive vice president and chief financial officer at the Trump Organization, and was once described by a person close to the company as “the most senior person in the organization that’s not a Trump.” After Mr. Trump was elected, he handed control of his financial assets and business interests to his two adult sons and Mr. Weisselberg.

    The subpoena illustrates that investigators are seeking input from Mr. Trump’s closest colleagues in the Trump Organization, particularly those with knowledge of the company’s financial dealings….

  267. blf says

    New Jersey radio hosts suspended for calling attorney general turban man:

    […]
    Two New Jersey radio hosts have been suspended after repeatedly describing the state’s attorney general, a practicing Sikh, as turban man and the guy who wears a turban on the air.

    WKXW hosts Dennis Malloy and Judi Franco made the comments on Wednesday while discussing Gurbir Grewal’s recent order to temporarily suspend marijuana prosecutions in the state. Grewal is the first Sikh attorney general in US history.

    Malloy wondered aloud: Is that highly offensive? Franco responded: To me? No. To people who wear turbans? Could be.

    Malloy added: If that offends you then don’t wear the turban and maybe I’ll remember your name.

    Announcing the suspension several hours after the remarks aired, station officials said in a statement: “We have taken immediate action and have taken them off the air until further notice.”

    Condemnation of the remarks was swift, with the state’s Democratic governor, Phil Murphy, describing them as “abhorrent and xenophobic”. The New Jersey senator Cory Booker called for people to “denounce this ignorant and outrageous attack”.

    The New Jersey ACLU added in a tweet: “Racism isn’t cute. It’s just racist.”

    […]

    “This is not the first indignity I’ve faced and it probably won’t be the last,” Grewal said in response to the radio hosts’ comments. “Sometimes, I endure it alone. Yesterday, all of New Jersey heard it. It’s time to end small-minded intolerance,” he wrote in a tweet.

    […]

    First off, congratulations to WKXW for their swift reaction. Whilst unlikely, I would have liked the station’s engineer to have shut down the pair’s microphones whilst still on-air, with a voice-over similar to the ACLU’s twittering, following by some appropriate musical protest songs (albeit at the moment I’m struggling to choose some tracks).

    And secondly, I’m inclined to suggest Malloy & Franco be referred as something like “the two ex-radio hosts who cannot distinguish between a turban and their ignorance.”

  268. says

    Facebook (which is, to put it mildly, not having a good day) has released the AIQ Vote Leave ads to Damian Collins’ committee. I feel a little sick looking at them. The deceit, the false promises, the scamminess and surreptitious data collection, the fearmongering, the parallels with Kremlin propaganda.

    The ones about animal welfare are creepy and disingenuous. (I’ve been noticing how many Russian bots and trolls lately have things like “animal lover” and “stop animal abuse” in their bios, sentiments which bear little relation to what they tweet about. Makes me furious.

    David Carroll: “Irony of these demonstrably xenophobic, nativist, nationalist Vote Leave ads: they were done by a Canadian shop, the one with an exclusive IP license with SCL Elections, a firm largely financed by an American family, run on Facebook, controlled by American who won’t come to UK.”

  269. says

    The so-called government is saying 917 of the parents at the border are “ineligible” to be reunited with their children. You can’t become ineligible to have your kidnapped children returned. It’s not a fucking sweepstakes. It’s a human right, of both the parents and the children.

  270. says

    Daniel Dale livetweets Trump’s rally in Granite City, IL. A few of note, annotated:

    My gosh. Trump lies to U.S. Steel workers, at a U.S. Steel facility, that U.S. Steel is opening up seven plants. It isn’t.

    Trump says that he used to order a lot of steel, when he was “in the construction business,” and sometimes, when it was foreign, “It wasn’t steel. It was a lotta garbage that looked like steel.”

    [A reminder that two of Trump’s recent projects, in use today, the Trump International Hotel Las Vegas and the Trump International Hotel & Tower Chicago, were built with cheap Chinese steel. – SC]

    Trump falsely: “This is tough, but I did win that women’s vote, didn’t I…’Why would women vote for Trump?’ I don’t know, but I got more than she did.”

    Exit polls said he only won among *white* women, had 41-42% with women overall.

    [Why would women vote for Trump? I don’t know…’]

    Trump falsely: “We’re rated number one in the world for growth and other elements.” (I don’t know what other elements are, no)

    Trump on tariffs: “We are not starting a trade war: we’ve been in a trade war for many years and we’ve lost for many years. But over the last year and a half, we’re winning. We’re back, and we’re winning, and we are winning bigger than anyone understands.”

    [We’ve always been in a trade war with Eastasia.]

    Trump, loooose, says China is targeting soybeans “in the hopes we will SURRENDERRR our intellectual property” and continue to make money “off the big, fat, sloppy United States.”

    Three rapid-fire NATO false claims in a row from Trump:
    – Falsely says NATO spending was “going down” before him. (It rose in 2015 and 2016)
    – Falsely says the U.S. pays 4.3% of GDP (3.5%)
    – Falsely says other countries were “delinquent” (not how it works)

    Trump then adds two more false claims:
    – NATO spending has been up $44 billion according to Stoltenberg ($41 billion)
    – At the meeting they agreed to hundreds of billions more (no)

    Trump on the benefits to him of live speech coverage: “Look at all those cameras back there. It’s like the Academy Awards, there’s no difference…it’s covered live, much of it. And when I say it, they can’t do anything about it, ’cause I say it.”…

    [THIS IS WHY THESE EVENTS SHOULDN’T BE COVERED LIVE.]

  271. says

    “Russian Hackers’ New Target: a Vulnerable Democratic Senator”:

    The Russian intelligence agency behind the 2016 election cyberattacks targeted Sen. Claire McCaskill as she began her 2018 re-election campaign in earnest, a Daily Beast forensic analysis reveals. That makes the Missouri Democrat the first identified target of the Kremlin’s 2018 election interference.

    McCaskill, who has been highly critical of Russia over the years, is widely considered to be among the most vulnerable Senate Democrats facing re-election this year as Republicans hope to hold their slim majority in the Senate. In 2016, President Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by almost 20 points in the senator’s home state of Missouri.

    There’s no evidence to suggest that this particular attack was successful. Asked about the hack attempt by Russia’s GRU intelligence agency, McCaskill told The Daily Beast on Thursday that she wasn’t yet prepared to discuss it.

    “I’m not going to speak of it right now,” she said. “I think we’ll have something on it next week. I’m not going to speak about it right now. I can’t confirm or do anything about it right now.”

    In August 2017, around the time of the hack attempt, Trump traveled to Missouri and chided McCaskill, telling the crowd to “vote her out of office.” Just this last week, however, Trump said, on Twitter, that he feared Russians would intervene in the 2018 midterm elections on behalf of Democrats.

    In October, Microsoft wrested control of one of the spoofed website addresses—adfs.senate.qov.info. Seizing the Russians’ malicious domain names has been easy for Microsoft since August 2017, when a federal judge in Virginia issued a permanent injunction against the GRU hackers, after Microsoft successfully sued them as unnamed “John Doe” defendants. The court established a process that lets Microsoft take over any web addresses the hackers use that includes a Microsoft trademark.

    Microsoft redirected the traffic from the fake Senate site to its own sinkhole server, putting it in a prime position to view targets trying to click through to change their passwords.

    The Daily Beast identified McCaskill as a target while investigating statements made by Microsoft VP Tom Burt last week in an appearance at the Aspen Security Forum….

  272. says

    Here’s The Evidence Paul Manafort Doesn’t Want A Jury To See About His Work In Ukraine: A cache of documents included in a filing Thursday largely includes emails and memos about campaign strategy and activities on behalf of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.”

    “The exhibits contain detail, and casual conversation, about the political work the consultants did abroad, as much as a decade before the 2016 election. Manafort’s case seems likely to explore in depth the lucrative, insider world of Washington influence, and which cuts against the outsider image of Donald Trump, whose campaign Manafort chaired — and that of Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist whose campaign Devine produced ads for.”

    Tad Devine is the Linda Evangelista of sleazy political operators.

  273. says

    “Bernie Sanders Adviser Is Assisting Special Counsel Investigation In Manafort Case”:

    Tad Devine, a political operative who served at the highest levels of the Bernie Sanders campaign, will assist in the special counsel office’s prosecution of Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, according to a statement released on Thursday.

    “The Special Counsel has asked Tad Devine to assist in the prosecution of their case against Paul Manafort regarding his firm’s work on media consulting on past political campaigns in Ukraine,” reads a statement provided by Julian Mulvey, a partner at Devine’s political firm, Devine Mulvey Longabaugh.

    “When the Special Counsel sought assistance from us in its ongoing investigation, we readily provided it.”

    The firm, according to the statement, has been “assured by the special counsel’s office that we have no legal exposure and did not act unlawfully.”

    Devine’s role in the investigation — first indicated last week by a court filing that included documents from Devine — nevertheless entangles the Sanders orbit in an expansive government inquiry that has probed questions surrounding Russia’s interference in the US election, Trump’s potential obstruction of justice, and the insider world of lobbying and influence in Washington….

    I haven’t read through all of the documents @ #379, but I will recommend, to put them in context, the chapter on Manafort’s Ukraine work in Luke Harding’s book Collusion.

  274. says

    CNN is reporting that sources are telling them that “Cohen is prepared to tell Mueller Donald Trump knew, and approved of[,] Trump Tower meeting before it happened.”

  275. says

    “Cohen claims Trump knew in advance of 2016 Trump Tower meeting”:

    Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, claims that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in which Russians were expected to offer his campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton, sources with knowledge tell CNN. Cohen is willing to make that assertion to special counsel Robert Mueller, the sources said.

    Cohen’s claim would contradict repeated denials by Trump, Donald Trump Jr., their lawyers and other administration officials who have said that the President knew nothing about the Trump Tower meeting until he was approached about it by The New York Times in July 2017.

    Cohen alleges that he was present, along with several others, when Trump was informed of the Russians’ offer by Trump Jr. By Cohen’s account, Trump approved going ahead with the meeting with the Russians, according to sources.

    To be clear, these sources said Cohen does not have evidence, such as audio recordings, to corroborate his claim, but he is willing to attest to his account.

    After news of the meeting broke in July 2017, the Trump team offered misleading explanations and changed their story several times. But one claim stayed consistent: that Trump had no knowledge of the meeting beforehand, wasn’t told about it afterward and first learned about it one year later.

    Those denials were repeatedly issued by Trump, his attorney Jay Sekulow, Trump Jr., Futerfas and White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. Those people denied that Trump had contemporaneous knowledge of the meeting on more than 15 occasions, according to CNN’s analysis.

    But perhaps the highest-stakes denial was given by Trump Jr. in his testimony last year to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    “He wasn’t aware of it,” Trump Jr. told lawmakers, referring to his father’s knowledge of the meeting. “And, frankly, by the time anyone was aware of it, which was summer of this year, as I stated earlier, I wouldn’t have wanted to get him involved in it because it had nothing to do with him.”…

  276. says

    Wait…I think Giuliani just said that if it did happen it won’t be as significant as the anti-Trump people are saying. Everything he’s saying here is basically an admission that it’s true.

    I’m cringing watching him. He’s not mentally equipped to do this.

  277. says

    Matthew Miller: “Cohen is obviously a difficult witness, but if it’s true as he says that there were other people in the room, Mueller has a clear path to confirming that Trump knew about the Russian offer for help in advance. IF he doesn’t already have it.”

  278. says

    Update to #374 – Cadwalladr: “There are laws for leaflets to have imprints. But as @alexhern & @hugorifkind point out there were only ‘guidelines’ for digital ads. Electoral Commission explicitly told campaigners to include them. But they would have known it didn’t have force of law.”

  279. says

    David Corn: “If Cohen’s account is accurate, Trump knew from the start that Putin had a secret plot to hurt HRC & help him. Yet he constantly denied Russia was behind the attack on the US election. That is, he knowingly lied to protect a foreign adversary attacking the US. That’s betrayal.”

    (Recall that an email to Jr. setting up the meeting openly described the information as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”)

  280. says

    NEW: @MichaelAvenatti will represent 3 additional women who have come forward claiming they were paid by AMI for their stories about affairs with Trump. One of the women says she was impregnated.

    Avenatti says these payments were made before the election.”

  281. says

    Something occurred to me as I read this piece in WaPo:

    …It also seems…that the “dirt” was offered. It just wasn’t great dirt.

    Notes taken by Manafort during the meeting suggest that the Magnitsky Act was discussed, as was Bill Browder, Magnitsky’s employer and the main driver of the law.

    Veselnitskaya apparently made a case in that meeting that was similar to the one that Russian President Vladimir Putin offered during that news conference with Trump last week: Browder had given large contributions of allegedly illegally-gotten money to the Clinton campaign. (Browder denies any wrongdoing, the case against him and his company, and no evidence of large donations to the campaign exists.)…

    Of course, much of what Putin claims about this is cynical propaganda, targeted harassment, and political gamesmanship. He lies constantly. But I think it’s possible that he and his circle actually believe that this conspiracy existed or exists. His paranoia about the US, like his paranoia about LGBT people, is genuine at some deep level (see Timothy Snyder’s The Road to Unfreedom). So it’s not far fetched to surmise that when he had this presented to the Trump campaign he really believed it was good dirt.

    It took me a while to realize that many Trump supporters, including House Republicans, truly believed that when Nunes released his memo it would reveal a high-level FBI/DoJ/DNC anti-Trump conspiracy. While they have the same propagandistic and political motives as the Kremlin, at least some of the twisted reality they present to the public is rooted in their own twisted and paranoid understanding of reality. I don’t think we can count out that something similar is going on with Putin.

  282. says

    “Trump Admin Reunites 1,442 Kids By Court Deadline, Hundreds Remain Apart”:

    U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw set a deadline for midnight July 26 for the Trump administration to reunite the thousands migrant families it forcibly separated under its “zero tolerance” policy.

    According to a court filing submitted Thursday night, the administration managed to reunite just 1,442 of those children with their parents in ICE custody. Another 378 were released under “other appropriate circumstances,” including reunification with a parent already released by ICE or released to another relative or approved sponsor.

    The administration identified 711 children they say are not “eligible” for reunification by the court’s deadline.

    Of those, 67 have a parent whose background check or case file review found a “red flag,” 79 have a parent who was released by ICE and who has not been located by the administration, 431 whose parent was deported, 94 whose parent has not been location for reasons not specified in the filing, and 120 whose parent the administration claims waived their right to be reunified.

    The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the parents in court, submitted testimony earlier this week that many if not all of those who signed such waivers were coerced or misled into doing so, given mere minutes to make the decision, and given forms in languages they could not read.

    Yet on a call with reporters Thursday night, Trump administration officials stood by their claim that these parents knowingly and willingly signed away their right to get their child back.

    Though the court has ordered the administration to reunite the more than 400 parents they deported without their children, Albence seemed dismissive of that responsibility. “We don’t keep track of individuals once they’ve been deported,” he said.

    Chris Meekins, the official overseeing reunifications at the Department of Health and Human Services, added that the administration is waiting for orders from Judge Sabraw before beginning to look for the deported parents.

    The ACLU and the Trump administration will appear before Judge Sabraw on Friday.

    Evil.

  283. Akira MacKenzie says

    I think I can official say that all my hope is gone. I do not believe for an instant that Trump will be removed from office. There are far too many constitutional and political barriers for that to happen. Nor do I expect the “Blue Wave” to occur. While kids in dog cages, a right-wing supreme court, and lost civil rights are horrific, the economy is limping along without the feared economic collapse and most people are happy with the status quo… and the millennials don’t seem to give a fuck enough to drag their asses from their Playstations and vote. No one has problem with white supremacists when they have job security and fat wallets.

    It’s too late, They’ve won. Trump and his brand of right-wing goons is the new mainstream. Not that it really took that much to get there; America has been wallowing in racism, sexism, and capitalist greed since the beginning.

  284. microraptor says

    Akira MacKenzie @ 399

    It’s nice to know that after your generation has fucked everything up, you’ve figured out how to shift blame to mine.

    BTW, you do realize that Millennials aren’t kids anymore, right? The majority of Millennials are in their late twenties to mid thirties with jobs and families.

  285. microraptor says

    Facebook just announced that it’s banning Alex Jones and has started taking down Infowars videos.

  286. says

    In which Dominic Cummings sounds not at all loony:

    Hugo Rifkind says ‘Whatever you think of the referendum result, we can’t ever let there be a campaign like this again.’

    Tough luck Hugo — if your side gets its way and there is another referendum, Vote Leave 2 will be much much worse for your side than VL1 was. VL2 will win by more than VL1 and the logical corollary will be to morph into a new party and fight the next election ‘to implement the promises we made in the referendum because the MPs have proved they can’t be trusted’. At a minimum VL2 will win the referendum and destroy the strategic foundations of both main parties. The Tories will be destroyed and maybe Labour too. The rotten civil service system will be replaced and the performance of government will be transformed for the better. Investment in basic science research will flow. Long-term funding for the NHS guaranteed by law. MORE high skilled immigrants, FEWER low-skilled. An agenda that could not be described as Left or Right. The public will love it. Insiders will hate it but they will have slit their own throats and have no moral credibility. Few careers will survive.

    The who screed has a certain “November Criminals” ugliness to it.

  287. blf says

    Teen Vogue on the slavery-promoter (see @327 & others), Kuwaiti Influencer Sondos Alqattan Is Facing Backlash for Her Comments on Domestic Workers’ Rights (emphasis in the original):

    “A day off is the minimum. She’s a human being, not a machine.”
    […]
    Yet no one other than you or your legal guardian should ever be in possession of your passport, especially if you’re traveling or working abroad. Such a practice can hinder your ability to leave safely and identify yourself in emergency situations.
    […]

    And Kuwaitis call Sondos Al Qattan’s video an ’embarrassment’:

    Kuwaitis have spoken out against Sondos Al Qattan, calling her an “embarrassment” after the beauty blogger said the backlash against her was an affront to Kuwaitis and the hijab.

    Enraged by Al Qattan’s comments, many have taken to social media to denounce her and say they will boycott the brands that are still sponsoring her. This is in direct contrast to Al Qattan’s tirade, in which she said her followers would stop supporting the companies that had cut ties with her. Several brands sponsoring Al Qattan have revoked their deals after her controversial remarks, notably Max Factor and Mac.

    “She’s an embarrassment. As far as I can remember, everyone knows that Sunday is a day off for those of us lucky enough to have help,” said Samia Al Duaij, who works at an international organisation in Kuwait. “Otherwise, it’s Friday if you’re Muslim. I don’t know where this new idea of no days off came from.”

    […]

    Al Qattan has been so heavily criticised online that she made her Twitter account private and disabled comments on her Instagram page.

    LS, who works in Kuwait at a marketing agency, said her defence was clearly aimed at trying to create a diversion.

    “I think it’s ridiculous. It doesn’t represent who we are, it doesn’t represent how we treat our housekeepers, because at the end of the day we need them as much as they need us,” LS said. “They take care of my children, so if I don’t treat them well I am not setting a good example to my children.”

    […]

    In the video Al Qattan also said that after reading headlines referring to her as a Muslim woman wearing a veil, she believes the media backlash is an attack on Islam and Kuwait.

    Many Kuwaitis interviewed by The National suspected that she used the defence as a way to gather support from other Arabs and Muslims worldwide, to get them to see the matter as religious or ethnic.

    […]

    No hint yet that she has the slightest understanding or comprehension.

  288. blf says

    Facebook just announced that it’s banning Alex Jones and has started taking down Infowars videos.

    NO, Facebook suspends US conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (my added emboldening):

    […]
    Alex Jones, the American conspiracy theorist who runs the InfoWars website, has been suspended from Facebook for bullying and hate speech.

    The suspension will last for 30 days, and affects only Jones’s personal account on the social network, not the main InfoWars account. His profile will continue to be published, but he will not be not be able to post content until the suspension elapses.

    […]

    The suspension means Jones will not be able to post content to pages for which he is a “page admin”. As the suspension applies only to Jones personally, the channel bearing his name on Facebook will remain active, as will InfoWars itself, which has several page administrators. The intention is to prevent individuals from working around the ban by using multiple pages to violate policy.

    Facebook has previously been accused of “light-touch” moderation for high-profile accounts, even if they seem to be repeatedly violating policies. Earlier this month, [UK TV] Channel 4 revealed, through undercover filming, that some accounts, including those of far-right icons such as Tommy Robinson and Britain First, were marked as “shielded” and prevented from deletion even when normal users would have faced action.

    Tommy Robinson is a notorious UK nazi, currently in jail. Numerous loons are calling for his release, including Steve Bannon (Steve Bannon calls for Tommy Robinson to be released from prison).

    […]
    Earlier this week, YouTube removed four videos from the InfoWars channel — understood to be the same content that led to the Facebook action — and issued a “strike” against InfoWars for its conduct. It was the second such strike the channel had received, but although YouTube officially bans accounts when they receive three strikes, the strikes time out after 90 days. Additionally, the channel bundles multiple violations into individual strikes, protecting Jones from a potential ban.

    Accounts that are subject to a content strike are not able to stream live on YouTube until the strike expires, but Jones is still a regular presence on the site: he is simply hosting his livestreams on other channels, donated by friends and supporters, forcing YouTube to ban those streams as it finds them.

    Earlier this week, Jones broadcast a rant against Robert Mueller […], fantasising about shooting him and accusing him without evidence of paedophilia. It’s not a joke. It’s not a game. It’s the real world. Politically. You’re going to get it, or I’m going to die trying, bitch. Get ready. We’re going to bang heads, Jones said, miming firing a gun repeatedly.

    It would be more accurate to say nothing has happened. Or to be a bit more pedantic, user(s?) claiming to be “Alex Jones” are slightly proscribed, and a handful of videos taken down.

  289. says

    Oh! This is clarifying. I’ve been confused about precisely this. Butina isn’t charged under FARA but under Section 951: “Perhaps the best way to think of the difference is that FARA is a cousin of the Lobbying Disclosure Act, while under Section 951, Butina faces a softened version of the espionage laws.”

    [Probably part of the source of my confusion is that since FARA came about a decade before Section 951 – 1938 and 1948, respectively – it was, as I understand it, used in the war years to address the crimes later covered by Section 951 (e.g., Nazi spyish behavior and covert influence campaigns).]

  290. blf says

    (My previous attempt at a reply seems to have been eaten by poopyhead’s filter — try again…)

    Facebook just announced that it’s banning Alex Jones and has started taking down Infowars videos.

    NO, Facebook suspends US conspiracy theorist Alex Jones (my added emboldening):

    […]
    The suspension will last for 30 days, and affects only Jones’s personal account on the social network, not the main InfoWars account. His profile will continue to be published, but he will not be not be able to post content until the suspension elapses.

    […] As the suspension applies only to Jones personally, the channel bearing his name on Facebook will remain active, as will InfoWars itself, […]

    Facebook has previously been accused of “light-touch” moderation for high-profile accounts, even if they seem to be repeatedly violating policies. Earlier this month, [UK TV] Channel 4 revealed, through undercover filming, that some accounts, including those of far-right icons such as Tommy Robinson and Britain First, were marked as “shielded” and prevented from deletion even when normal users would have faced action.

    Tommy Robinson is a UK nazi currently in jail. Assorted loons, including Steve Bannon, have called for his release (Steve Bannon calls for Tommy Robinson to be released from prison).

    […]
    Earlier this week, YouTube removed four videos from the InfoWars channel — understood to be the same content that led to the Facebook action — and issued a “strike” against InfoWars for its conduct. It was the second such strike the channel had received, but although YouTube officially bans accounts when they receive three strikes, the strikes time out after 90 days. Additionally, the channel bundles multiple violations into individual strikes, protecting Jones from a potential ban.

    […]

    Earlier this week, Jones broadcast a rant against Robert Mueller […], fantasising about shooting him and accusing him without evidence of paedophilia. It’s not a joke. It’s not a game. It’s the real world. Politically. You’re going to get it, or I’m going to die trying, [redacted]. Get ready. We’re going to bang heads, Jones said, miming firing a gun repeatedly.

    It would be more accurate to say nothing has happened. To to be a bit more pedantic, user(s?) claiming to be “Alex Jones” have been slightly inconvenienced. For a few days.

  291. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @SC #396:

    I think it’s possible that [Putin] and his circle actually believe that this conspiracy existed or exists. His paranoia about the US, like his paranoia about LGBT people, is genuine at some deep level
    […]
    It took me a while to realize that many Trump supporters, including House Republicans, truly believed […] While they have the same propagandistic and political motives as the Kremlin, at least some of the twisted reality they present to the public is rooted in their own twisted and paranoid understanding of reality. I don’t think we can count out that something similar is going on with Putin.

    Whaaat? Russian conservatives don’t sound like Republicans at all. /s
     
    Article: New Yorker – The Hundred-ruble Crusade (circa 2014)

    Roman Khudyakov, a member of the Russian Duma, is gravely concerned about a moral threat to the country’s children: he recently discovered that youngsters are being exposed, on a daily basis, to a graphic image of male genitals. The object of Khudyakov’s outrage is the hundred-ruble note (worth a bit less than three dollars), which shows the façade of the Bolshoi Theatre, adorned with a world-famous sculpture of a chariot driven by the Greek god Apollo.
    […]
    Khudyakov’s proposed solution was to mark the bill with an eighteen-plus rating. Better still, as he suggested in a letter to the Russian Central Bank, remove the morally improper bills from circulation and replace them with ones bearing an image of Crimea, annexed by Russia in March.
    […]
    In this atmosphere, scores of public figures have rushed to call for bans on anything that smacks of Westernization or of moral impropriety – terms that are seen, in many quarters, as virtually synonymous.
    […]
    As the major moral issues were exhausted, eager loyalists had to make do with minor causes. This year alone, new initiatives have included restrictions on the use of foreign words and bans on the sale, import, and production of lacy underwear and high heels. It was suggested that the legal ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” be extended to all sexual relations; if adopted, this would imply that sex simply could not be discussed with children.
    […]
    No initiative was too absurd to be picked up by Russian lawmakers, though luckily not all have been codified, and the ones that have been signed into law have not all been actively enforced. The lawmakers are arguably concerned primarily with demonstrating their loyalty, and do not aspire to turn Russia into a puritanical nation. Likewise, the Russian people at large do not regard the new legal norms as moral guidance.
     
    Khudyakov’s demand to replace the morally improper hundred-ruble bill is not likely to succeed, either, but his attack drew new attention to the sculpture of Apollo on the Bolshoi Theatre. […] the Greek god now has his private parts covered by a fig leaf.

  292. says

    Further to #341 above, here’s an article expanding on the concerns in that thread – “Trans Women Say the State Department Is Retroactively Revoking Their Passports”:

    …Although the State Department did not directly respond to a question asking whether there had been a recent change in policy or internal guidance mandating new enforcement rules, a change would hardly be surprising. Since Trump took office, his administration has altered existing transgender-inclusive guidelines at the Department of Education, the Department of Justice and Bureau of Prisons, the Department of Defense, the U.S. Census, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Even the Centers for Disease Control was instructed in an internal memo not to use the word transgender — along with terms like “diversity” and “evidence-based.” It’s not unfair to say the Trump administration has stopped just short of outlawing transgender people entirely.

    “I think there’s an internal policy change to make it as difficult as possible for trans people,” says Rose. “The goal is to create friction. They can’t change all these laws right away, but they can make it really hard.”

  293. militantagnostic says

    From SC @376

    Trump says that he used to order a lot of steel, when he was “in the construction business,” and sometimes, when it was foreign, “It wasn’t steel. It was a lotta garbage that looked like steel.”

    Who the fuck would ever believe this? – especially people working in a steel mill. Does he expect them to believe this? This isn’t lying, so much as it is bullshit on stilts. Do his supporters know and just don’t care?

  294. KG says

    In all seriousness, the WWII Victory Gardens really pushed towards self-sufficiency. One of my pet conspiracy theories is that they and the entire culture surrounding them were destroyed on behalf of a growing agribusiness (including chemical industries) lobby. – SC@346

    Another likely contributer is the conversion of the urban and periurban land used to housing and business premises. That land, which I think was mostly owned by local councils, became “too valuable” to be used for growing food, once the WW2 bomb sites were used up. Early on the councils might build much-needed housing on it themselves, later they were under both financial and political pressure to sell it to private developers.

    Social history anecdote:
    The first place I lived, on the outskirts of London, my father had an “allotment” (the land was “alloted” at a low rent by local councils) almost immediately at the end of our back garden. He grew vegetables there, as well as in the garden itself. His father and two elder brothers were professional horticulturalists, so no doubt he had skills passed on from them. That land has since been built on – I’m not sure whether by private developers or the council (but if the latter, the houses will since have been sold off at knock-down prices and subsequently re-sold at huge profit).

    Your cite mentions Dominic Raab, the new “Brexit Secretary”. I said when this nonentity was appointed that I thought it signalled May’s intention to run the negotiations with the EU herself. She has recently confirmed that, saying Raab will “deputise” for her. Since she has failed in two years to reach a settlement with her own party, and since it’s already clear the EU will not accept the cherry-picking of the “Chequers proposal” I think we can say a disastrous “No deal” Brexit has become a very real possibility.