1. blf says

    Nazi-inspired jewellery, trinkets wiped from auction site (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    Polish anti-racist group convinces auction site to punish sellers and buyers trading goods bearing fascist symbols.

    An alarm clock with the letters SS on the face, a necklace of dozens of little silver swastikas forming a chain, a coffee grinder with the SS symbol and a flask with an engraved swastika are just some of the items that Polish internet users could have found and purchased with a few clicks.

    Allegro, the largest e-commerce website in Central and Eastern Europe with more than 20 million users, has long been used by Nazi sympathisers to trade products bearing the symbols of the Third Reich.

    But on March 21 — the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination — Allegro teamed up with Poland’s anti-racist Never Again association to remove items promoting racism, fascism and the Nazi totalitarian system from the platform.

    By the end of June, a team of Never Again volunteers had helped to take down more than 1,000 auctions.

    While both Polish law and Allegro’s terms of use forbid the promotion of racism, fascism and totalitarian systems, the platform’s users for years were virtually free to sell and buy products bearing Nazi symbols.

    Never Again had pressured Allegro for a decade to take down the auctions.

    “We had not managed to initiate this cooperation for years, but we decided to change that,” Paweł Klimiuk, Allegro’s spokesperson, told Al Jazeera. “The talks began in the autumn last year and the reason was simple. The media reported on various controversial offers which appeared on our platform and this raised our attention.”

    To me, that sounds likes Never Again got the attention of some journalists, whose stories finally made Allegro pay attention to what Never Again was saying.

    The team does not take down historical items with a value for collectors and researchers, such as items produced in the Third Reich.

    “The majority of items {taken down} were medals and pins that could be attached to uniforms, but also fictitious honours which did not exist back in the day, such as a medal with an image of Adolf Hitler,” said Anna Tatar, a Never Again activist. “There were a lot of contemporarily-produced items stylised to look like historical ones, but having no value for collectors.”

    Tatar is pleased that several CDs and cassettes with neo-fascist music, including by such bands as Konkwista 88 and Honor — the “stars” of the neo-Nazi scene — have been removed.


    According to Rafał Pankowski, a sociologist from Collegium Civitas and a cofounder of Never Again, racism has risen among the young generation born after the fall of communism — those who grew up in democratic Poland.


    [… F]or those fighting against racism and fascism, the Allegro-Never Again initiative is a positive development.

    “We can see that in our society and companies like Allegro there is a growing need to do something about the problem,” said Pankowski. “And we now know that we have to and are able to confront it.”

    (Al Jazeera seems to be acquiring the France24 disease of omitting diacritical marks (accents), and Polish tends to have a lot of them. I have not checked or corrected Al Jazeera’s spellings in the above excerpt.)

  2. says

    In #470 of the previous iteration I wrote:

    [Giuliani] seems to suggest that there was a meeting at this time (on this day?), but that it was about a different subject – he mentioned some discussion of the judge on the Trump “University” fraud case against whom Trump launched racist attacks, but I recall this being earlier in the year.

    There’s a lot going on here. Again, we don’t know whether Cohen is in fact making a general allegation about a planning/strategy meeting ahead of the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians, much less that he’s specified that it allegedly took place on June 7th. Wherever Giuliani is getting this, in any event, he does seem to be referring to the statement the campaign released on June 7th about the Trump “U.” case and Trump’s previous comments about Judge Curiel, about which he was being criticized by Republicans. WP:

    On June 7, 2016 Trump issued a lengthy statement saying that his criticism of the judge had been “misconstrued” and that his concerns about Curiel’s impartiality were not based upon ethnicity alone, but also upon rulings in the case.

    The statement itself has been removed from the campaign site, but this contemporary article says it was issued in the afternoon. So it’s plausible that there was a meeting earlier in the day during which it was drafted. I don’t know whether Giuliani just searched for what was happening around this date and came up with this as an alternative subject of the meeting or Jr., Kushner, or someone suggested that this was the subject of “the” meeting that day. In any case, if Gates was involved then Mueller undoubtedly knows if any meetings on the 7th (or any other day) were related to the Trump Tower meeting.

    Oh – MSNBC just showed a clip from Hannity last night in which Giuliani now appears to admit the possibility that a planning/strategy meeting did take place. Says it’s “highly unlikely,” but won’t rule it out. He keeps digging the hole deeper.

  3. says

    “Flynn, Comey, and Mueller: What Trump Knew and When He Knew It”:

    Previously undisclosed evidence in the possession of Special Counsel Robert Mueller—including highly confidential White House records and testimony by some of President Trump’s own top aides—provides some of the strongest evidence to date implicating the president of the United States in an obstruction of justice. Several people who have reviewed a portion of this evidence say that, based on what they know, they believe it is now all but inevitable that the special counsel will complete a confidential report presenting evidence that President Trump violated the law. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel’s work, would then decide on turning over that report to Congress for the House of Representatives to consider whether to instigate impeachment proceedings.

    The central incident in the case that the president obstructed justice was provided by former FBI Director James B. Comey, who testified that Trump pressed Comey, in a private Oval Office meeting on February 14, 2017, to shut down an FBI criminal investigation of Trump’s former national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn. “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Comey has testified the president told him.

    In an effort to convince Mueller that President Trump did not obstruct justice, the president’s attorneys have argued that the president could not have broken the law because the president did not know that Flynn was under criminal investigation when he pressured Comey to go easy on Flynn….

    I have learned that a confidential White House memorandum, which is in the special counsel’s possession, explicitly states that when Trump pressured Comey he had just been told by two of his top aides—his then chief of staff Reince Priebus and his White House counsel Don McGahn—that Flynn was under criminal investigation….

    During my reporting, I was allowed to read the memo in its entirety, as well as other, underlying White House records quoted in the memo, such as notes and memos written by McGahn and other senior administration officials. My reporting for this story is also based on interviews with a dozen former and current White House officials, attorneys who have interacted with Mueller’s team of investigators, and witnesses questioned by Mueller’s investigators.

    The February 15 memo, combined with accounts given to the special counsel by Priebus and McGahn, constitutes the most compelling evidence we yet know of that Donald Trump may have obstructed justice. In an effort to persuade the American people that the president has done nothing wrong, Trump and his supporters have blamed those they identify as their political adversaries—from President Barack Obama to Jim Comey, and including entire institutions such as the FBI and CIA, and an ill-defined “Deep State.” But the most compelling evidence that the president may have obstructed justice appears to come from his own most senior and loyal aides. The greatest threat to his presidency is not from his enemies, real or perceived, but from his allies within the White House.

    Much more at the link. good article. A few comments: First, I’m still not buying that Pence was really in the dark. It’s true that Flynn lied to people in the WH, but Pence has also lied publicly about what he knew about Flynn on more than one occasion. Second, I don’t understand why this and other articles don’t draw on the information that’s been made public through Flynn’s plea about the circumstances of his conversations with Kislyak (and the Israelis) in December. He was plainly speaking on behalf of Trump after getting direction from the group at Mar-a-Lago. Of course they knew he’d discussed sanctions – they told him to! Third, it’s increasingly apparent that Mueller is going ahead without interviewing Trump. Someone (I can’t remember who) on Chris Hayes last week suggested that Mueller may not be interested in interviewing Trump at this point because he’s now considered a target, and targets are rarely if ever interviewed. That wouldn’t surprise me at all.

  4. says

    “Russian secret-spilling site Dossier steps into spotlight”:

    Over the past three months, a handful of highly placed Russians have discovered their secrets seeping onto the web.

    It happened to a Russian Interior Ministry official whose emails were published online in April. And it happened again this month, when details about a former Kremlin chief of staff’s American energy investment were exposed by Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

    Last week, Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with President Donald Trump’s son during the 2016 presidential campaign saw her ties to senior Russian government officials laid bare in an Associated Press investigation.

    The man behind the disclosures tells the AP that more are coming.

    “We have no shortage of material we’re currently evaluating,” Russian opposition figure Mikhail Khodorkovsky said in a television interview last week from his office in central London.

    The venue for these recent stories has been Khodorkovsky’s new project, dubbed the “Dossier Center” and launched in November. The center bills itself as an investigative unit and its website features a sprawling, interactive diagram of interconnected Russian officials described as the “main beneficiaries” of Russian corruption.

    Khodorkovsky said the center, which the exiled former energy executive is funding out of his own pocket, was born out of frustration with the inability of journalistic investigations to lead to real change in a Russia dominated by his foe, President Vladimir Putin. He wanted the Dossier Center to go beyond the occasional story and gather enough actionable information on the Kremlin’s leadership to bring its members, eventually, to court.

    By Khodorkovsky’s telling, the center gets its data from a series of anonymous digital drop boxes. The leaks carry evidence not only of high-level corruption in Moscow but also of the Kremlin’s “illegal attempts to influence Western public opinion and Western politicians,” he said….

    More at the link.

  5. says

    SC @3, thanks for following the maddening twists and turns, the statements, the walkbacks, and the walkbacks of the walkbacks that characterize Giuliani’s performance.

    My conclusion is that Giuliani doesn’t make sense. No matter how you parse his many, often contradictory statements, the result is muddy.

    The one thing I do think that Giuliani said that is probably true is that there was a planning meeting, (perhaps more than one), before the Trump Tower meeting in which Don Junior met with some Russians. Giuliani tried to walk that back, but he did so in an even more confusing and incompetent manner.

    Giuliani is debating himself. And both sides are losing.

  6. says

    From SC’s link in comment 9:

    […] The campaign is being run from the UK by 39-year-old programmer Tim Leonard, who lives in Darlington, using the false name “Adam Carter”. Starting after the 2016 presidential election, Leonard worked with a group of mainly American right-wing activists to spread claims on social media that Democratic “insiders” and non-Russian agents were responsible for hacking the Democratic Party. […]

    The claims led to Trump asking then CIA director Mike Pompeo to investigate allegations circulated from Britain that the Russian government was not responsible for the cyber attacks, and that they could be proved to be an “inside job”, in the form of leaks by a party employee. This was the opposite of the CIA’s official intelligence findings.

    Trump went further at his July 2018 summit with President Putin in Helsinki, saying he believed Putin’s claim that Russia had not interfered. […]

    Three days earlier, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) had charged 12 Russian Federation Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU) intelligence officers with conspiracy against the US, releasing unprecedented amounts of previously top secret information about the agents, offices and tools used in multiple cyber attacks on the Clinton presidential campaign.

    After returning to the US, facing outrage over his conduct, Trump claimed he mis-spoke and meant to say the opposite of what he said. […]

    The GRU’s hackers were caught red-handed in June 2016, when the Washington Post exposed evidence of their role. Within 24 hours, after the Post had asked Russia for comment, the hackers fabricated evidence and planted a false trail that the hacking was the work of an imaginary, lone Romanian called Guccifer 2.0. While this happened, GRU officers were spotted doing online searches to check English phrases while penning the first blog post for their Romanian fake, according to the DoJ indictment.

    Guccifer 2.0’s role was “falsely to undermine the allegations of Russian responsibility for the intrusion”, according to the indictment. US and European intelligence agencies identified “Guccifer 2.0” as a Russian deception operation before Americans went to vote. Detailed evidence had not been publicly available until the publication of the indictment. […]

  7. says

    Yes, this sounds like Dana Rohrabacher, another House of Representatives Republican who acts like a Russian agent:

    […] So what do you think of this Cohen story? I queried. “Zero,” Rohrabacher replied. I waited for more. “It’s a big zero,” he said.

    If Cohen’s account is accurate, I asked, doesn’t this show Trump colluded with a Putin-ordered operation to attack a US election? How is that nothing? “There’s not a person in this town who would not take a meeting to get material like that,” Rohrabacher shot back. He suggested he would. […]

    Mother Jones link

    “Putin’s favorite congressman” also called the Maria Butina case “BS.”

  8. says

    Prosecutors updated their exhibit list this morning for Manafort’s Virginia trial.

    […] Mueller’s team added a few new items related to the loan Manafort allegedly obtained from Federal Savings Bank, run by Steve Calk, the banker interested in a Trump administration position. Those items include the journal of a former bank employee granted immunity to testify and an email with the subject line “Nervousness is setting in.”

    The exhibit list also includes new documents related to the purchase of Yankees season tickets, a photograph of the outdoor kitchen at one of Manafort’s homes, and an email from Manafort to his longtime deputy Rick Gates about “DOD Service secretaries.”

  9. says

    Rudy Sure Says a Lot of Weird Things

    […] a lot of dumb or unguarded things […]

    Remarking that if the Russian government “could get into the DNC server and be in there for one year, which they were, the DNC server is a more modern server, much better protected than the old equipment that Hillary had hanging around in the garage at home.” […]

    “If they could get into that DNC server, they owned her server in Poughkeepsie,” Giuliani said, although the Clinton server was located in Chappaqua, New York. “And not only did they own it, you know, but so did the Russians, possibly the Israelis, maybe a couple of our other allies. And we do the same thing, so don’t get all upset.”

    The text is from an article in Politico. […] This was one day after Donald Trump asked Russia to hack more of Clinton’s emails (6.27.16) and six days before Donald Trump Jr sat down with an Israeli social media influence campaign entrepreneur and an emissary (8.3.16) from the princes of Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates offering their support to help elect Donald Trump.

    […] Those emissaries from Israel and the Gulf monarchies, brought to the meeting by Erik Prince, weren’t offering hacked emails. They were offering Cambridge Analytica/Internet Research Agency-style social media influence campaigns. But why exactly was Rudy talking about Israel and “maybe a couple of our other allies”? […]

    I truly don’t know. But remember, Giuliani previewed something big coming just before the Comey Letter was released. Just after it was released Rudy said that there was an anti-Clinton “revolution going on inside the FBI” that had spurred Comey to send his letter to Capitol Hill and was driving a rethinking of the decision not to prosecute Clinton. There are lots of these unguarded statements from Rudy littered over the closing months of the 2016 campaign. I don’t think they’re random or simply unconnected to anything. They’re like little glimpses of a matrix of secrets that still waits to be fully uncovered and exposed.

  10. says

    “Facebook Has Identified Ongoing Political Influence Campaign”:

    Facebook announced on Tuesday that it has identified a coordinated political influence campaign, with dozens of inauthentic accounts and pages that are believed to be engaging in political activity ahead of November’s midterm elections, according to three people briefed on the matter.

    In a series of briefings on Capitol Hill this week, the company told lawmakers that it detected the influence campaign on Facebook and Instagram as part of its investigations into election interference. It has been unable to tie the accounts to Russia, whose Internet Research Agency was at the center of an indictment earlier this year for interfering in the 2016 election, but company officials told Capitol Hill that Russia was possibly involved, according to two of the officials.

    “We’re still in the very early stages of our investigation and don’t have all the facts — including who may be behind this,” the company said in a statement. “But we are sharing what we know today given the connection between these bad actors and protests that are planned in Washington next week.”

    In its statement, Facebook said that it first discovered the accounts — eight Facebook pages, 17 Facebook profiles, and seven Instagram accounts — two weeks ago.

    The company has been working with the F.B.I. to investigate the activity.

    Like the Russian interference campaign in 2016, the recently detected campaign dealt with divisive social issues. Facebook discovered coordinated activity around issues like a sequel to last year’s deadly “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. Specifically, a page called “Resisters,” which interacted with one Internet Research Agency account in 2017, created an event called “No Unite the Right 2 — DC” to serve as a counterprotest to the white nationalist gathering, scheduled to take place in Washington in August. Facebook said it disabled the event.

    Coordinated activity was also detected around #AbolishICE, a left-wing campaign on social media that seeks to end the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, according to two people briefed on the findings.

    That echoed efforts in 2016 to fan division around the Black Lives Matter movement….

  11. blf says

    Here in the South of France, St-Tropez lifeboat crew say luxury boat owners too mean to help out (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Tycoons moored on Riviera branded uncaring as lifeboat appeal ‘sinks without trace’

    The wealthy tycoons and oligarchs enjoying summer on their luxury yachts in Saint-Tropez have been warned: cries of SOS, reports of fires, accidents or persons overboard may take a while to answer.

    The French Riviera town’s lifeboat is out of action awaiting repairs while its volunteer crew accuse rich yacht captains of being too mean to stump up a few euros to pay for a replacement.

    Resort Lifeboat officials said their ageing vessel, the Bailli de Suffren II, in service for more than 30 years, needed a spare part from Italy, and that it would not be putting to sea in the next two weeks.

    The Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer (SNSM) at Saint-Tropez has ordered a new €1.4m lifeboat, which is now under construction in Brittany with a delivery date for next spring. But it needed another €200,000 to pay for it to be equipped with high-tech electronic devices and for its delivery, the society said.

    The SNSM wrote this year to wealthy individuals and companies owning luxury yachts moored at Saint-Tropez, asking them to put their hands in their pockets. The town is a playground of the global super-rich.

    Pierre-Yves Barasc, the president of the Saint-Tropez lifeboat station, said the appeal sank almost without trace. The owner of one modest boat sent a €10,000 donation but the tycoons and oligarchs failed to come up with a centime.

    The article is a bit inconsistent here. Previously, it said “yacht captains” were approached, then it says the “owners” were approached. Those are very very rarely the same individual; typically the captains are hired (employees) like the crew. This is an important distinction. Locally, where I’ve met some captains, they can be quite scathing about the owners, who frequently don’t have a clew (according to the captains / crew (seems plausible)). That makes the article quite plausible whoever was approached, since (with a handful of exceptions) the captains need to get approval for significant or extraordinary expenditure. (However, some of the captains can be arseholes, I’ve met some, and you can often hear the crew’s “war stories”… so it’s not necessarily as simple as clewless owners not-approving the captain’s proposed “expense” of a donation. In addition, another potential confounding factor is the owner(-on-paper) of a superyacht isn’t always a person, but a company, possibly one set up for that very purpose.)

    Barasc told the local edition of the news outlet Var-Martin: “They said it wasn’t their problem. That’s not true. On the bigger boats last year we saved an eight-month-old baby. We also saved three youngsters caught on rocks — not a word of thanks, even from their father. Nothing! It’s almost as if it’s their right. It’s great to shower the young ladies with a bottle of €50,000 Cristal champagne, but they could be a little more restrained and help us a little more.

    “We asked all the owners of important boats. No reply, except one promise never kept. A lone boat, far from being the biggest, gave €10,000. If 30 people had done the same we could have had our new lifeboat quicker.”

    Frédéric Saveuse, the deputy president of the Saint-Tropez lifeboat station, said: “We sent a personal letter to the 100 biggest businesses in the Var {department}. We sent another letter to the 10 richest French people, owners of both a vessel and a property here. In total we had two replies. It’s frustrating.”


    Last year, the port’s lifeboat went out 87 times, and 78 of the rescues (90%) happened between 15 June and 15 September, the popular holiday season for the French Riviera. The immobilised lifeboat is the only vessel in the area capable of taking to sea in all conditions to pull in bigger vessels.

    I don’t know the local statistics, but based on the siren (which summons the volunteer lifeboat crew), the peak emergency time is indeed this time of the year. As far as I know, the local lifeboat &tc is doing Ok. (I happen to be acquainted with the lifeboat’s captain, but we’ve never discussed the service — in fact, I didn’t even know he was involved until a local newspaper article… duh!)

    A member of the organisation said they had been looking at the UK’s Royal National Lifeboat Association for inspiration on how to raise funds.

    Barsac said: “In France, only 3% of boat owners donate to the lifeboat service, unlike in the UK where I believe it is 85%. People don’t realise it’s different. Now my outburst seems to have woken up people and things are moving. Hopefully, now we will come up with the money for the new boat.”

    I don’t know the numbers for the UK, but in fact, it’s more than the UK. Ireland’s lifeboats are also integrated into the network. It’s also called the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) in Ireland, and might be the only group in the Republic to still use the pre-independence “royal” moniker. From memory, the work was considered so important by the then-new Irish government they asked them to simply continue on, which they did… including not bothering to change / adjust the name.

    An admittedly quick search suggests many French papers have picked up this story, so hopefully Monsieur Barasc’s rant will kick a few arses into gear. And, perhaps, also start a process to put the SNSM on a more secure footing.

  12. says

    Facebook’s announcement:

    Today we removed 32 Pages and accounts from Facebook and Instagram because they were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior. This kind of behavior is not allowed on Facebook because we don’t want people or organizations creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they’re doing.

    We’re still in the very early stages of our investigation and don’t have all the facts — including who may be behind this. But we are sharing what we know today given the connection between these bad actors and protests that are planned in Washington next week. We will update this post with more details when we have them, or if the facts we have change….

    Information at the link.

  13. says

    From the FB page:

    Partners like the Atlantic Council have provided invaluable help in identifying bad actors and analyzing their behavior across the internet. Based on leads from the recent US Department of Justice indictment, the Atlantic Council identified a Facebook group with roughly 4,000 members. It was created by Russian government actors but had been dormant since we disabled the group’s admins last year. Groups typically persist on Facebook even when their admins are disabled, but we chose to remove this group to protect the privacy of its members in advance of a report that the Atlantic Council plans to publish as soon as it concludes its analysis. It will follow this report in the coming weeks with an analysis of the Pages, accounts and profiles we disabled today.

  14. says

    SC @15, 17, and 18: And yet, Hair Furor does nothing. He does not lead. He does not make it a priority to address the issue of “coordinated inauthentic behavior” on social media, nor does he seem to think it is important to identify bad actors. I don’t see team Trump putting a lot of effort and money behind a campaign to stop coordinated inauthentic behavior.

    I see the Department of Justice indictment was useful, but that is from Mueller’s probe, and not from anything Jeff Sessions or Trump did.

    I would not be surprised to see Trump blame Facebook.

    As you noted earlier, there’s not even going to be a press briefing today.

  15. says

    It figures. That was all bluster and bullying.

    Former CIA Director John Brennan said Tuesday that he has not heard from the White House in the week since it threatened to revoke security clearances from him and other former intelligence officials who have been critical of President Trump.

    “I have heard nothing other than what has come out from the White House spokesperson,” Brennan said on MSNBC.

    White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters last week that Trump is considering taking away security clearances for Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, former CIA Director Michael Hayden, former national security adviser Susan Rice, former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. […]


    Nope. Nobody’s security clearance was revoked because they spoke out against Trump. Empty threats?

  16. says

    Trump is unhinged … so he is busy describing others as “unhinged”:

    The Fake News Media is going CRAZY! They are totally unhinged and in many ways, after witnessing first hand the damage they do to so many innocent and decent people, I enjoy watching. In 7 years, when I am no longer in office, their ratings will dry up and they will be gone!

  17. says

    Making the richest people richer, part of Trump’s plan:

    […] Trump is mulling yet another plan to cut taxes by $100 billion mainly on the rich: His administration is exploring whether he can unilaterally cut capital-gains taxes. Under this plan, the Treasury Department could supposedly allow […] Americans to calculate their capital gains by adjusting their original price to inflation, reducing the amount of gains subject to taxation. Studies have shown this would slash revenues by $100 billion over 10 years (potentially reducing public expenditures later) and that the vast majority of its benefits would go to the top 1 percent and the top 0.1 percent. […]

    […] as Jonathan Chait says, we should look at this new plan as only the latest in a decades-long push by Republicans to reduce the tax burden on the wealthy in every way possible, based on rationales that have proved bogus at every turn. The Trump/GOP tax cuts were supposed to unleash wage-swelling investment, but they have just produced a wave of stock buybacks and windfalls for wealthy executives even as wages remain flat. […]

    Washington Post link

  18. says

    No, it’s not satire, it’s a real campaign ad. YouTube link.

    Commentary from Steve Benen:

    […] It shows DeSantis with his young children – building a toy border wall, reading from one of Trump’s ghost-written books, teaching a toddler to read with a Trump campaign sign, and putting an infant in a “Make America Great Again” outfit in a crib.

    “Big league,” the GOP lawmaker says to the camera, standing over the baby.

    Just so we’re clear, it’s a real ad. This isn’t a satirical video put together by the left to make the Florida congressman appear ridiculous. DeSantis and his team filmed and released the commercial on purpose.

    Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) recently expressed concern that Republicans were inching closer to “a cult-like situation” toward the president. DeSantis, in a campaign message seemingly devoid of self-respect, seems eager to prove Corker right.

    NBC News’ Chuck Todd added, “This goes beyond doubling down on Trump. [We] need a whole new set of words to describe this strategy.”

    The president will be in Tampa tonight, headlining a rally for DeSantis. […]

    That ad has to be seen to be believed. Cult.

  19. says

    Team Trump is responsible for even more abuse of migrant children. Team Trump didn’t directly drug children, but through their stupidity, lack of oversight and incompetence they allowed it to continue.

    Following a class-action lawsuit that includes allegations of forced drugging, a federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to transfer most migrant children out of a Texas facility that collects millions of dollars annually from a lucrative contract with the U.S. government. “U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee found conditions at the nonprofit Shiloh Treatment Center, in Manvel, near Houston, in violation of a 1997 settlement, called Flores vs. Reno,” NBC News reports, “requiring immigration officials to place detained minors ‘in the least restrictive setting appropriate to (each Class Member’s) age and special needs.’”

    But apparently, Shiloh considered forced injections of psychotropic drugs “the least restrictive setting,” with other kids alleging that they were even denied drinking water. “Julio Z. attests that a staff member at Shiloh RTC often refused to allow Julio and other class members to leave their living quarters to obtain drinking water,” Gee stated. When he tried to get some, “the staff member responded by throwing Julio to the ground, injuring Julio’s elbow.”

    Under Gee’s order, children will be taken out of Shiloh “’unless a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist’ determines that a particular child ‘poses a risk of harm to self or others,’” NBC News reported. Gee also ordered that staff must get consent from parents “before giving psychotropic drugs to any detained migrant child. Without consent, the facility may administer such a drug only in an emergency or under a court order, she said.”

    Once again, in the face of Republican complicity, it’s been judges and courts who have been looking out for the welfare of our most vulnerable. Just days ago, Gee also ordered the appointment of an independent monitor to evaluate conditions in Texas border facilities temporarily holding migrant children, essentially saying that if the administration and children’s advocates can’t agree on one, she’ll decide for them. […]


  20. says

    Trump debuts new, incoherent talking point about collusion with Russia

    “Collusion is not a crime” — unless you’re Hillary Clinton.

    After many months of unequivocally insisting there was “NO COLLUSION” between his campaign and Russia, President Trump hinted at a retreat on Tuesday — tweeting that “Collusion is not a crime, but that doesn’t matter because there was No Collusion (except by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats)!”

    Beyond the obvious absurdity of accusing Hillary Clinton of colluding with Russia to defeat herself — after her campaign was the target of Kremlin-orchestrated cyberattacks that were publicly encouraged by Trump and used for pro-Trump propaganda operations — Trump’s “collusion is not a crime” talking point contradicts his previous stance on the matter. […]

  21. says

    Good for Dick Durbin. I’m fed up with watching Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen get away with lying and with incarcerating children. Durbin is calling on her to resign.

    […] Durbin was speaking during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the Trump administration’s overall “zero tolerance” immigration policy, […] more than 700 children remain separated from their families because their parents have been deemed ineligible for reunification or were deported.

    “What will become of these children and their parents, who border agents sadly called ‘deleted family units’? In the name of these deleted family units, 711 lost children, and common decency, I am today calling on the architect of this humanitarian disaster, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to step down,” Durbin said.

    He added, “The family separation policy is more than a bureaucratic lapse in judgement. It is and was a cruel policy inconsistent with the bedrock values of this nation. Someone, someone, in this administration has to take responsibility.” […]


    More at the link, including this from Nancy Pelosi:

    .@SecNielsen must resign. This is not an immigration issue, it is a humanitarian issue. Children are being used by the Trump Admin to create leverage, with a goal of passing Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. I struggle to think of anything more barbaric. #FamiliesBelongTogether

  22. says

    The Midterm Elections Are in Serious Danger of Being Hacked, Thanks to Trump


    […] As President Barack Obama prepared to leave office, his administration had no doubt that Russia had mounted a devastating disinformation campaign and hacked our electoral systems—and would likely do it again. But President-­elect Donald Trump was notably uninterested in the threat. When FBI Director James Comey and other leaders of the intelligence community visited Trump Tower in January 2017 to explain how the country had been attacked, Comey recalled in his memoir, Trump’s team had “no questions about what the future Russian threat might be.” Instead, Comey wrote, they launched “immediately into a strategy session…about how they could spin what we’d just told them.”

    The meeting set the tone for the administration. After four months as attorney general, Jeff Sessions told the Senate he had not once been briefed on Russian election interference, even though his department oversees the FBI, which investigates Russia’s disinformation campaigns and hacks like the one in Illinois. When John Bolton took over as national security adviser in April, he promptly pushed out two top White House cybersecurity experts. In May, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, whose department also plays a leading role in election security, told reporters she wasn’t aware of US intelligence agencies having found that Russia aimed to help Trump; she made similar remarks at a July security conference. The White House has acknowledged just one Cabinet-level meeting on election security, and it didn’t come until May. […]

  23. says

    Giuliani coverage from Wonkette:

    […] he’s been lunatick-ing around the past 48 hours about how Trump might have done all the collusion, but collusion isn’t a crime, despite how CONSPIRACY, which for these purposes is a synonym of COLLUSION, is totally a crime.

    He also dropped some new knowledge about a second Trump Tower Russian meeting, a sort of planning meeting that occurred two days prior to the main Russian treason event on June 9, 2016. Once he broke news of that — blaming the “leak” on Lanny Davis and Michael Cohen, despite how it hadn’t been published anywhere — Giuliani promptly made the TV rounds to say maybe there wasn’t another Trump Tower Russian meeting and that whoever broke that fake news (RUDY GIULIANI) is clearly a yooge fucking moron […]

    Giuliani tossed the English language’s salad in many other ways on Monday, like for instance telling CNN that the only real crime here is hacking, and because the president is not a 400-pound hacker in New Jersey, he is innocent. Trump doesn’t even know How To Computers! But let’s not get bogged down with all that, because there is new information about that second Trump Tower meeting that maybe happened (according to Giuliani) but maybe didn’t (according to Giuliani), who can even say (not Giuliani!).

    The Daily Beast interviewed Giuliani, who claims he said all those things because he was trying to catch and kill an upcoming Maggie Haberman New York Times story about the second Trump Tower meeting. We all know the best way to kill stories is to TALK ABOUT THEM ON TELEVISION A WHOLE BUNCH. […]

  24. says

    Benjamin Wittes – “The Justice Department Finds ‘No Responsive Records’ to Support a Trump Speech”:

    …It isn’t every day that the U.S. Department of Justice acknowledges formally that the President of the United States lied in a speech to Congress. But that’s how I read a letter I received a few days ago from the department’s Office of Information Policy in connection with one of my Freedom of Information Act suits against the department.

    No, the Justice Department letter does not come out and say what it clearly means: that President Trump, early in his tenure, was untruthful both about the role of foreigners in terrorism and terrorism-related crimes and about Justice Department data on the subject.

    But that is what the letter says if you read between the lines….

  25. says

    Lynna @ #11, that thoroughly researched article doesn’t accuse Leonard of any crimes, but the account of all of the things he’s done did seem to me to suggest (I’m not saying the reporters meant to suggest it, but it’s possibly an unavoidable suspicion based on what they present) that he’s in very deep, involved not just in attacks on the US elections but in European efforts as well.

  26. says

    I’ll post below an excerpt from Steve Benen’s commentary on Trump’s bragging today that he made the Koch brothers richer. I think Benen’s comments are insightful.

    Trump tweeted:

    The globalist Koch Brothers, who have become a total joke in real Republican circles, are against Strong Borders and Powerful Trade. I never sought their support because I don’t need their money or bad ideas. They love my Tax & Regulation Cuts, Judicial picks & more.

    I made them richer. Their network is highly overrated, I have beaten them at every turn. They want to protect their companies outside the U.S. from being taxed, I’m for America First & the American Worker – a puppet for no one. Two nice guys with bad ideas. Make America Great Again!

    From Benen:

    […] Most of this is unimportant. Whether or not Trump knows what a “globalist” is supposed to be is uninteresting, as is the president’s opinion of the Koch brothers’ reputation, finances, agenda, and political network.

    What stood out for me, however, was the boast Trump felt compelled to add: he made the billionaire Koch brothers “richer.”

    […] it’s not necessarily smart for a president to brag about making two of the nation’s most prominent billionaires even richer than they already were. So why do it?

    […] I’d say Trump thinks he bought the loyalty of those he enriched. He made Charles and David Koch, two of the nation’s wealthiest people even richer, so they should therefore like him, endorse him, and support him.

    That there’s some friction between their wishes and the White House agenda seems to annoy the president – not just because of some ideological disagreement, but also because Trump thinks the Kochs owe him.

    It reminds me of the president’s recent tantrum over Harley-Davidson: Trump insisted he’s “been very good to” to the company, telling the motorcycle manufacturer, “I’ve done so much for you.” When it had to make a business decision that was at odds with the White House’s preferences, Trump seemed to take it personally.

    It’s all intended to be reciprocal: the president does something that benefits you, and he therefore expects you to do something that benefits him. Evidently, the Kochs don’t quite see it that way.

  27. says

    From Ryan Knight, (@Proud Resister, and founder of #BuildTheWave):

    Dear GOP,

    Putting children in prison camps.


    Targeting preexisting conditions.


    Being bought & paid for by NRA.


    Cowering to a lawless president.


    — Decent Americans

  28. says

    Climate change update:

    There will be an increase in heatwave-related deaths due to climate change in the future under nearly every scenario, according to a new study released Tuesday.

    Taking steps to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of rising greenhouse gas emissions could help curb the number of heatwave-related fatalities. But researchers found that even if countries are able to adapt, under the most extreme scenarios of high temperatures and population growth, deaths will still increase in virtually every region.

    Analyzing data from more than 400 communities across 20 different countries and regions — from North, South, and Central America to Europe, Asia, and Oceania — researchers projected potential mortality rates from heatwaves in decades to come, between 2031 and 2080.

    The report claims to be the largest international study on the potential health impacts of heatwaves as expected under different climate change scenarios.

    Researchers found that with no adaptation to climate change and little effort to curb emissions, deaths from heatwaves will increase substantially. Tropical and subtropical countries will be most affected, with at least 650 percent more heatwave-related deaths expected between 2031 and 2080 compared to the average number of deaths linked to heatwaves for the period between 1971 and 2020.

    European countries and the United States will in comparison see a smaller increase in heatwave-related deaths. The number of fatalities from heatwaves could increase by as much as 400 to 600 percent in the United States, for example, compared to the past five decades. Europe will see a roughly 275 percent increase. […]


    More at the link, including maps.

  29. says

    Team Trump continues to break down the wall that separates church and state:

    […] Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the creation of a “Religious Liberty Task Force” that will enforce a 2017 DOJ memo ordering federal agencies to take the broadest possible interpretation of “religious liberty” when enforcing federal laws. That memo, for example, prohibits the IRS from threatening the tax-exempt status of any religious organization that actively lobbied on behalf of a political candidate, which is not allowed under the Johnson Amendment.

    In a bold speech delivered at the Justice Department’s Religious Liberty Summit, Sessions characterized the task force as a necessary step in facing down the prevailing forces of secularism. “A dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom,” he said, which “must be confronted and defeated.”

    The task force will be spearheaded by Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio and Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy Beth Williams. The Advocate reports that in 2010, Panuccio, as an attorney, defended supporters of Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in California for nearly five years. […]

    Sessions painted a nightmarish portrait of what he described as a lack of religious liberty protections plaguing American society. “We have gotten to the point,” he said, “where courts have held that morality cannot be a basis for law, where ministers are fearful to affirm, as they understand it, holy writ from the pulpit, and where one group can actively target religious groups by labeling them a ‘hate group’ on the basis of their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

    […] ”Americans from a wide variety of backgrounds are concerned about what this changing cultural climate means for the future of religious liberty in this country.” […]

    The American Civil Liberties Union vociferously condemned the task force, tweeting that the Department of Justice “has no business licensing discrimination against LGBT people, women, and religious minorities.”

    Ultimately, Sessions promised listeners, the task force would restore religious liberty to America — a liberty that, he heavily implied, was a primarily Christian prerogative.


  30. says

    This will probably hurt Trump’s feelings. He will take it personally.

    Iran’s leaders are quite uninterested in sitting down for a chat with the American president anytime soon, it seems.

    […] Iranian foreign ministry spokesperson Bahram Qassemi swiftly rejected the proposal, citing America’s “hostile actions.”

    “With current America and these policies, there will definitely not be the possibility of dialogue and engagement, and the United States has shown that it is totally unreliable,” Qassemi said at a press conference in Tehran on Monday. […]


    That’s to be expected. The U.S. did show itself to be unreliable when Trump withdrew the USA from the Iran nuclear deal.

  31. says

    On “Frontline,” PBS will air “Separated: Children at the Border” tonight.

    […] “Separated” looks at the humanitarian crisis first from the perspective of those swept up by it, parents and children from Central America who traveled through Mexico and crossed the border, requesting asylum when they finally found Border Patrol agents.

    We meet a mother from El Salvador, Maritza Amaya, who was released along with her nine-month-old son after 24 hours; she shows her ankle monitor to the camera and admits it hurts to wear. She came to the border after her brother was murdered by a gang; recently, they began telling her she and her baby would be next.

    Smith [correspondent Martin Smith] […] visits a father in El Salvador. He was deported quickly, but still hadn’t been reunited with his little girl, age six, who was still detained in the US when filming starts. He hadn’t seen her in over a month. He shows Smith her toys, and some photos, and says it’s hard to look at the photos with her still missing. He says CBP agents lied to him when they took her away, telling him there was no room on the bus but he could take the next one. Of course, there was no next one.

    That’s one of the running themes in stories of migrants subjected to the tender mercies of “zero tolerance”: constant lies, no real information. When (spoiler alert, but a happy one) his daughter is finally returned to El Salvador, he tells Smith she simply wouldn’t talk for a long time, but she started talking shortly before Smith came back for a follow-up interview. She tells her dad guards would tell her he would be coming to see her, but of course that never happened either. The casual cruelty of it is astonishing. […]

    More at the link, including confirmation that Commander Jonathan White of HHS admitted he warned Trump and Sessions about “significant risk of harm” and “psychological injury” as consequence of zero tolerance, but he was ignored.

  32. says

    “Trump Official Says He Warned of Child Trauma From Family Separations”:

    A Trump administration official said Tuesday he warned for months about the potential for harm to migrant children if they were separated from their parents before the administration launched its “zero tolerance” border policy earlier this year.

    “There is no question that separation of children from parents entails significant potential for traumatic psychological injury to the child,” Commander Jonathan White, a Health and Human Services official who led the agency’s family reunification efforts, told the Senate Judiciary Committee at Congress’s first hearing on the separations of thousands of families at the border.

    White said that during deliberations before the policy began in April, he raised concerns “about any policy that would result in family separation.” He said he was told that “there was no policy that was going to result in family separation.”…

    Judging by this report, White seems like the only even halfway decent official who testified.

  33. says

    Follow-up to comments 42 and 43.

    The Family Separation Hearing Was One of the Most Appalling Displays of Passing the Buck You’ll Ever See

    On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on family separations, during which the lack of any accountability for the disastrous policy became abundantly clear. Not a single member of the panel was willing to defend the policy, but only one was willing to state plainly what went wrong.

    More than 2,500 children were separated from their parents as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” enforcement program for undocumented border crossings and related practices. The separations were halted last month by a federal judge who ordered that separated families be reunified. As of last week’s reunification deadline, several hundred children had still not been reunified with their parents. The government, meanwhile, was unable to locate the parents of more than 400 children who were unlawfully separated. Many of those parents have been deported, and it is feared that some may never see their children again. […]


    More at the link.

  34. says

    It’s interesting that Lanny Davis hasn’t tweeted in a week, and the information coming from the Cohen camp the past several days has dwindled. That would seem to suggest more about cooperation than anything they said publicly before.

  35. says

    Trump repeated his threat to shut down the government:

    I don’t care what the political ramifications are, our immigration laws and border security have been a complete and total disaster for decades, and there is no way that the Democrats will allow it to be fixed without a Government Shutdown.

    Border Security is National Security, and National Security is the long-term viability of our Country. A Government Shutdown is a very small price to pay for a safe and Prosperous America!

  36. says

    From the caption for a New Yorker cartoon: “Collusion is not a crime! And, while I’m at it, let me list a few other things that are definitely not crimes, just in case they should come up.”

  37. says

    From the WaPo liveblog: “Manafort’s work for Yanukovych was to ‘bring the country closer to Western democracies after decades of Soviet rule’ — toward the European Union and away from Russia, Zehnle said. That comment was met with audible sneers from a few of those seated in the courtroom.”

  38. says

    Former Trump Organization executive Barbara Res tells CNN’s Anderson Cooper that it’s ‘impossible’ that President Trump didn’t know about the Trump Tower meeting with Russian officials beforehand.

    CNN link. Video at the link.

    I guess Trump can just have his rally crowds chant, “CNN sucks!” as a reply.

  39. says

    “Exclusive: Mueller refers foreign agent inquiries to New York prosecutors”:

    Special counsel Robert Mueller has referred a collection of cases to New York federal prosecutors concerning whether several high-profile American lobbyists and operatives failed to register their work as foreign agents, according to people familiar with the matter.

    The transfer of the inquiries marks an escalation of Mueller’s referrals to the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in the period since he turned over a case involving President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen.

    Since the spring, Mueller has referred matters to SDNY involving longtime Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta and his work for his former firm, the Podesta Group, and former Minnesota Republican Rep. Vin Weber and his work for Mercury Public Affairs, the sources said.

    One source said that former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig, a former partner at law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP, is also part of the inquiry.

    None of the entities involved have been charged with wrongdoing, and there is no indication the SDNY inquiry will result in criminal charges.

    It’s not clear whether they are considered one case or separate matters, these people said, though all involve inquiries into whether the men improperly performed work on behalf of groups associated with Ukraine without registering with the Justice Department as foreign agents….

    I linked to this thread about Mercury in the previous iteration.

  40. says

    “Russian ‘Agent’ And A GOP Operator Left A Trail Of Cash, Documents Reveal”:

    A $45,000 payment to an undisclosed law firm. A cash withdrawal for $14,000. Almost $90,000 sent to or from a Russian bank. These and other bank transactions totaling nearly $300,000, none of which have been made public, offer the first detailed look at how an accused foreign agent and a Republican operative financed what prosecutors say was a Russian campaign to influence American politics.

    Anti-fraud investigators at Wells Fargo flagged the transactions — by Paul Erickson, a conservative consultant from South Dakota, and Maria Butina, who is in jail awaiting trial on charges of secretly acting as a Russian agent — as “suspicious,” noting in some cases that they could find no “apparent economic, business, or lawful purpose” to explain them. Now counterintelligence officers say the duo’s banking activity could provide a road map of back channels to powerful American entities such as the National Rifle Association, and information about the Kremlin’s attempt to sway the 2016 US presidential election….

    Much more at the link. Ridiculously shady. Even involves Alfa Bank and Jack Abramoff.

    I love this: “She paid a Washington limousine service $5,300.” As grad students so often do.

  41. says

    I agree with this. Also, there’s someone commenting in the responses who has 1,500 followers and is somehow a Twitter verified account, while neither southpaw (111,000 followers) nor Leah McElrath (117,000 followers) is verified. How does that work?

  42. says

    Here’s more analysis of the campaign Facebook pointed to earlier today. I have that same sick feeling I did when reading the DCMS report the other day, but it’s compounded. If this is the Kremlin (which hasn’t been established), it’s some workers in an oppressive kleptocratic-authoritarian state whose job it is to pump out these fake messages aimed at manipulating (often oppressed) people in relatively democratic countries in order to contribute to the global destruction of democracy and the expanded power of kleptocratic authoritarianism. It’s truly a tragedy.

  43. says

    Also Jim Acosta: “Just a sample of the sad scene we faced at the Trump rally in Tampa. I’m very worried that the hostility whipped up by Trump and some in conservative media will result in somebody getting hurt. We should not treat our fellow Americans this way. The press is not the enemy.”

    Video at the link.

  44. says

    Immigration lawyer Mana Yegani, last night:

    There are reports that a child died in ICE custody in Dilley, Texas. Getting more information as the story develops. It’s unclear where the parent(s) of the child is. Some reports indicate that they maybe in New Jersey while child was in Texas.

    Update: The child died following her stay at an ICE Detention Center, as a result of possible negligent care and a respiratory illness she contracted from one of the other children. The events took place in Dilley Family Detention Center in south Texas.

    At the moment she still appears to be the only source, so I’m hoping against hope that the reports are mistaken.

  45. says

    “Alex Jones, Pursued Over Infowars Falsehoods, Faces a Legal Crossroads”:

    In the five years since Noah Pozner was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., death threats and online harassment have forced his parents, Veronique De La Rosa and Leonard Pozner, to relocate seven times. They now live in a high-security community hundreds of miles from where their 6-year-old is buried.

    “I would love to go see my son’s grave and I don’t get to do that, but we made the right decision,” Ms. De La Rosa said in a recent interview. Each time they have moved, online fabulists stalking the family have published their whereabouts.

    On Wednesday in an Austin courtroom, the struggle of the Sandy Hook families to hold to account Alex Jones, a powerful leader of this online community, will reach a crossroads. Lawyers for Noah Pozner’s parents will seek to convince a Texas judge that they — and by extension the families of eight other victims in the 2012 shooting that killed 20 first graders and six adults — have a valid defamation claim against Mr. Jones, whose Austin-based Infowars media operation spread false claims that the shooting was an elaborate hoax.

    The Pozner hearing is a bellwether in three cases, including another in Texas and one in Connecticut, filed by relatives of nine Sandy Hook victims. It comes as the social media platforms Mr. Jones relies upon to spread incendiary claims initiate efforts to curb him.

    The day after the Pozner case, in the same courthouse, is a hearing in a separate defamation case against Mr. Jones brought by Marcel Fontaine, who was falsely identified on Infowars’ website as the gunman in the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in February. Mr. Fontaine, who lives in Massachusetts, has never visited Florida….

    Mr. Jones is trying to have the Pozner and Fontaine cases dismissed under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, which protects citizens’ right to free speech against plaintiffs who aim to silence them through costly litigation….

    Ms. De La Rosa and Mr. Pozner will not appear in court on Wednesday, in part because of safety concerns.

  46. says

    Garrett M. Graff:

    THREAD: I keep thinking about this CNN report from last night that Mueller’s referred cases about Tony Podesta, Vin Weber, and maybe others, to SDNY. I think this is one of the biggest developments on Mueller’s probe we’ve seen recently. Here’s why:…

    1) This move evidently took place perhaps as early as April—or earlier—which means we’re still MONTHS behind in our public understanding where Mueller is in his work. He’s not leaking, and we’re glimpsing the totality of his investigation only through soda straws….

    2) The fact Mueller turned this investigation over to SDNY prosecutors, like he did with the Cohen investigation, means he’s continuing to be judicious about only staying focused on the Russia end of his probe….

    3) Exactly as we would expect him, after looking at past efforts like his Ray Rice domestic violence probe, he’s laser-focused on the question of the Russian conspiracy. Other crimes he finds? He hands those off….

    4) He’s not on a broad “Witch Hunt.” That’s significant because it means that the cases/threads that Mueller *IS* holding onto aren’t tangential. I outlined recently the 9 areas where Mueller is still probing: ….

    The special counsel has collected a mountain of evidence in the Trump-Russia investigation, but so far only a tiny amount of it has been revealed in official indictments. Here are nine areas where we…

    5) So if Mueller is still investigating what we think he is—including George Nader, Erik Prince, the Seychelles, Cambridge Analytica, and more—that means they’re *DIRECTLY RELATED* to the underlying Russia probe.

    6) That means there’s a LOT more to go in this investigation—and that in ways we can’t see right now, but that Mueller surely knows, these pieces actually all fit together. This probe is big. And it’s far from over….

    7) By telling us what Mueller’s NOT investigation, CNN’s report on Podesta/Weber actually gives an important window into what he is investigating. And the consequences of that are really eye-opening. Look at how much more there is to go: /END

  47. says

    Mikhail Khodorkovsky Comments on the Murder of Journalists Investigating Wagner Military Group:

    I have received an unofficial, but sufficiently strong confirmation that all three film-crew journalists have been killed: Orkhan Dzhemal, Kiril Radchenko and director Alexander Rastorguev.

    The crew were working in cooperation with my project The Centre for Investigation on an investigation into Russian private mercenaries, in particular the Wagner group.

    These were brave men who were not prepared simply to collect documentary material, but wanted to “feel” it in the palms of their hands.

    I hoped until the last moment that they had been captured, and that they could be rescued.

    Rest in peace. My deepest condolences to their relatives. I will make efforts to identify the perpetrators.

  48. says

    SC @63, for the most part, I don’t watch Trump’s rallies anymore. Trump repeats the same lies. The audience chants the same chants.

    However, I watched just part of the rally in Florida. There’s a discernible uptick in cult-like behavior in the audience. That’s alarming.

    Also, the Q-Anon conspiracy theory group has jumped from the bowels of the internet into Trump’s rally audience. Washington Post link.

    […] “Tampa rally, live coverage,” wrote “Dan,” posting a link to President Trump’s Tampa speech in a thread on 8chan, an anonymous image board also known as Infinitechan or Infinitychan, which might be best described as the unglued twin of better-known 4chan, a message board already untethered from reality.

    The thread invited “requests to Q,” an anonymous user claiming to be a government agent with top security clearance, waging war against the so-called deep state in service to the 45th president. “Q” feeds disciples, or “bakers,” scraps of intelligence, or “bread crumbs,” that they scramble to bake into an understanding of the “storm” […] for the president’s final conquest over elites, globalists and deep-state saboteurs. […]

    As the president spoke, a sign rose from the audience. “We are Q,” it read. Another poster displayed text arranged in a “Q” pattern: “Where we go one we go all.” […]

    In the black hole of conspiracy in which “Q” has plunged its followers, Trump only feigned collusion to create a pretense for the hiring of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is actually working as a “white hat,” or hero, to expose the Democrats. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and George Soros are planning a coup — and traffic children in their spare time. J.P. Morgan, the American financier, sank the Titanic. […]

    More at the link.

    Trump told his Tampa, Florida audience that, “Polls are fake, just like everything else.” The idea is that everything except what Trump says is fake. His followers are religious about this belief.

    According to Trump followers, only Trump is the purveyor of truth. The courts, the intelligence agencies of the USA, news media, experts (especially scientists) … all are liars and cannot be trusted. Trump’s own Justice Department cannot be trusted.

    Trump does not shop at grocery stores:

    “You know, if you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card, you need ID. You go out and you want to buy anything, you need ID and you need your picture,” Trump said at Tuesday night’s Tampa, Fla., rally to drum up support for GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis’ gubernatorial bid.

    He was — in the moment — throwing his support behind tougher ID requirements for voters.

    “Only American citizens should vote in American elections. The time has come for voter ID like everything else,” Trump said.

    As for Trump’s lies:

    In his first year as president, Trump made 2,140 false or misleading claims. Now, just six months later, he has almost doubled that total.

    Washington Post link

    Trump is lying twice as fast, or twice as much … however you want to put it.

  49. says

    SC @68, very scary indeed. The Wagner group (Russian) is particularly alarming. They fielded the mercenaries that fought American Troops in Syria. It was a pitched battle in at least one instance.

  50. says

    Matthew Miller: “I’ve been reluctant to attribute Trump’s escalation to some knowledge that something is coming, since you can argue that being unhinged is his natural resting state….but he really seems to be losing it the past few days.”

    See Trump’s recent tweets for context.

  51. blf says

    In Italy, ‘Fake news’ journalist rejected as Italian state broadcaster’s president:

    The nomination by Italy’s governing far-right League and populist Five Star Movement (M5S) of an anti-Europe, anti-gay, pro-Russian journalist as president of the state broadcaster Rai has been rejected.

    The Italian parliament’s supervisory committee on Wednesday turned down the appointment of Marcello Foa, who has often shared stories proved to be fake, after the coalition put him up for the job on Sunday.


    The M5S leader, Luigi Di Maio, said on Sunday that Foa’s appointment would help to purge the parasites from within the traditional Italian parties who had led Rai for decades.


    Fake stories shared by Foa, who worked for Il Giornale, the newspaper owned by Berlusconi’s Mediaset, included one during the US presidential election campaign about Hillary Clinton participating in satanic dinners and another about a supposed plan to overthrow the victor, Donald Trump.

    He has also said that being gay is abnormal and that giving babies vaccines could provoke a shock in the child.


    He has also described the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, as a leader who does not look for trouble.

  52. blf says

    Rex Tillerson stopped Saudi and UAE from ‘attacking’ Qatar:

    Former US Secretary of State reportedly prevented Saudi troops from attacking its Gulf neighbour, The Intercept reports.

    Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates planned to launch a military operation against Qatar at the beginning of a diplomatic crisis that erupted in June last year but were stopped by former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in an act that may have played a key role in his dismissal.

    According to the investigative news website The Intercept, the plan involved Saudi ground troops crossing the land border into Qatar, and with military support from the UAE, advancing 100km inland and seizing the Qatari capital.

    Based on information it said it received from a current member of the US intelligence community and two former State Department officials, The Intercept said the coup, which was largely devised by Saudi Arabia and the UAE’s crown princes, “was likely some weeks away from being implemented”.

    It said the attack against Qatar’s Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, would have involved Saudi forces circumventing the Al Udeid Air Base, which is home of the US Air Force Central Command and some 10,000 American troops, and seizing Doha.

    Al Udeid serves as one of the US’ most important overseas military bases and carries out operations throughout the Middle East.

    However, after Tillerson was notified of the plan by Qatari intelligence officials, he reportedly urged Saudi Arabia’s King Salman not to carry out the attack and also encouraged Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to explain the dangers of such an invasion to his counterparts in the kingdom, it said.


    However, Tillerson’s intervention reportedly enraged Mohammed bin Zayed […], with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and defacto ruler of the UAE, subsequently lobbying the White House for Tillerson’s removal.


    The Intercept said none of the current or former officials interviewed by The Intercept had direct insight into why Trump decided to fire Tillerson, but one source said that the timing — a week before the Saudi crown prince arrived in Washington for a much-publicised visit — was significant.

    Tillerson, a former executive for the energy company Exxon, had repeatedly criticised the blockading countries for the crisis before his dismissal, and in October last year, accused them of heightening tensions.


    According to one news report, Tillerson was frustrated with Trump for endorsing the blockade, with his aides suspecting that a line in the president’s speech where Qatar was accused of funding terrorism at a “very high level” had been written by the UAE’s Ambassador, Yousef al-Otaiba.

    Otaiba is a well-known figure in US national security circles, and according to Politico maintains “almost constant phone and email contact” with Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

    The Intercept also reported that four of the sources it interviewed pointed to an ongoing campaign by the UAE to try and provoke Qatar into escalating the crisis.

    The UAE has made it illegal for people to express sympathy with Qatar on social media, meanwhile Emirati officials, with close links to its leadership, repeatedly hurl insults against Qatari women.


    The Intercept’s report, Saudi Arabia Planned to Invade Qatar Last Summer. Rex Tillerson’s Efforts to Stop It May Have Cost Him His Job. Some excepts expanding on, or not included in, the above excerpt from Al Jazeera:

    At the time, Kushner was personally handling much of the administration’s diplomacy with the Gulf states, and the leaders of Saudi Arabia and the UAE were choosing to go through him instead of the US defense or intelligence establishments. Kushner communicated directly with the crown princes of Saudi Arabia and the UAE using the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp.

    Whilst it’s possible WhatsApp is suitably secure — I have no idea, but doubt it is resistant to determined intelligence agency attacks — it’s very unlikely the devices at either end (e.g., mobiles) are sufficiently secure.

    Some Gulf watchers speculate that the incentive for the planned invasion may have been partly financial. Saudi Arabia’s “cradle to grave” welfare system relies on high oil prices, which plummeted in 2014 and have not fully recovered. Since the current king came to power in 2015, the country has spent more than a third of its $737 billion in reserves, and last year, the Saudi economy entered a painful recession. In response, the government has looked for ways to raise money, including by selling shares in the state-owned oil company, Saudi Aramco.

    “It’s unsustainable,” said Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and 30-year CIA officer, in a lecture last November. “In the three years since [King Salman] ascended to the throne, one third of Saudi Arabia’s reserves have already been spent. You don’t need to have an MBA from the Wharton school to figure out what that means six years from now.”

    If the Saudis had succeeded in seizing Doha, they would potentially have been able to gain access to the country’s $320 billion sovereign wealth fund. In November of last year, months after the plan collapsed, the Saudi crown prince rounded up and detained dozens of his relatives in the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh, forcing them to sign over billions in privately held assets. The government justified the detentions as a corruption crackdown, but it allowed the state to recoup billions in assets for government use.


    The UAE’s harassment of Qatar also includes crude public insults lodged by UAE leadership against the Qatari royal family. The jibes frequently emanate from the verified Twitter account of Hamad al Mazrouei, a high-level Emirati intelligence official and righthand man to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. Mazrouei’s account frequently tweets sexually suggestive content directed at Mozah bint Nasser, the mother of the emir of Qatar. Just last week, Mazrouei tweeted a video of a man and woman — with Mazrouei and Sheikha Mozah’s faces photoshopped onto their bodies — doing a raunchy bump-and-grind.

    The content and audacity of Mazrouei’s tweets have led to speculation in Qatari media that the account is actually controlled by the crown prince of Abu Dhabi himself.

  53. says

    SC @63, in that video you can see and hear many Trump followers yelling, “Stop lying! Tell the truth!” at Jim Acosta and at CNN camera operators.

    They really believe what Trump has told them, namely that CNN is “fake news.” Trump is the leader of a cult. He has ruined those people’s lives by controlling their reality. This is bad, and getting worse.

    In other news, team Trump has dealt Obamacare another blow:

    The Trump administration has finalized rules making it easier to enroll in short-term insurance plans, another blow to Obamacare that increases access to cheaper, skinnier coverage that doesn’t adhere to the health care law’s standards.

    […] Critics deride short-term plans as “junk” insurance that won’t protect people with pre-existing conditions, and they argue the plans will undermine Obamacare’s fragile exchanges by siphoning off healthy customers. […]

    […] making it easier for small businesses and independent contractors to band together to offer association health plans that aren’t subject to the ACA’s coverage mandates. The moves stem from an executive order signed by […]Trump in October directing administration officials to overhaul regulations and allow more alternative offerings.

    “You’ll get such low prices for such great care,” Trump said at the signing of the executive order. “It should have been done a long time ago.” […]

    “This move is the lynchpin in Trump’s plan to turn back the clock to the days when Americans with pre-existing conditions were left out in the cold and insurance companies could deny care at will or charge whatever they pleased,” said Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden in a statement.

    The short-term plans are cheaper in part because insurers can refuse to cover people with pre-existing conditions and limit coverage of expensive services like mental health treatment. Short-term plans also typically cap coverage, so customers can still end up getting socked with expensive medical bills. […]

    The new rules take effect in 60 days, before the next Obamacare enrollment season opens Nov. 1. […]

    Health care groups largely opposed the Trump administration’s expansion of short-term plans, fearing the coverage will expose patients to unexpected bills and fracture the wobbly Obamacare markets.

    “The broader availability and longer duration of slimmed-down policies that do not provide comprehensive coverage has the potential to harm consumers, both by making comprehensive coverage more expensive and by leaving some consumers unaware of the risks of these policies,” said Justine Handelman, senior vice president at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, in a statement. […]


    Team Trump threatened to do this before … now they’ve done it. I think Trump just wanted something, (anything), about which he could falsely claim, “You’ll get such low prices for such great care.”

  54. says

    Treasury Sanctions Turkish Officials with Leading Roles in Unjust Detention of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson…

    The sanctions target ‘Turkey’s Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gul and Minister of Interior Suleyman Soylu, both of whom played leading roles in the organizations responsible for the arrest and detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson’.”

    I must have missed the sanctions when Erdoğan’s personal thugs beat up protesters in DC right out in the open, on his orders, and were caught on film.

  55. says

    SC @79:

    I must have missed the sanctions when Erdoğan’s personal thugs beat up protesters in DC right out in the open, on his orders, and were caught on film.

    Those protestors were not Christian pastors with hard-right backers who had Trump’s ear.

    Some US citizens get protection and justice … others are just not worth the bother.

  56. says

    WTF? Top House Republican: Man Killed His Wife ‘Because The Woman Was Unfair’

    One of the House’s most powerful Republicans had some interesting things to say on domestic violence during a recent event back in his district.

    Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), the chairman of the influential House Rules Committee, told a social conservative activist who was pushing him to support the end of no-fault divorce that the way the family court system in Dallas used to process cases had led to some tragic consequences. To illustrate his point that the system had badly needed change, he used a baffling example.

    “Dallas County, a few years ago, went through a number of terrible shootings. And I gathered together, they were at the time Republican district judges, and I said ‘guys, men, women, we’ve now had I think four or five shootings.’ One of them was from a big-time guy in Highland Park, who went and killed his wife, just gunned her down. And that was because the judge was unfair, and the woman was unfair. And she demanded something, and he was out. And it was frustration,” Sessions said during a local GOP event earlier this summer. “So now we go through the court system. And unfortunately lives have to be lost and there has to be tragedy — there now is a better system.” […]

    Sessions’ spokeswoman said that the congressman didn’t mean to suggest any sympathy for the man in the case he cited, before highlighting his work to prevent domestic violence.

    “Pete was discussing a terrible situation where an individual felt he had been railroaded by a court and then committed a horrific act of violence. By no means does Pete condone any act such as this,” Sessions Chief of Staff Caroline Boothe told TPM. […]

    “an individual felt he had been railroaded by a court and then committed a horrific act of violence” … That is not a good excuse to shoot a woman. And, it is not a good reason to blame the system or the courts for that man’s act of domestic violence.

  57. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    It’s easy to see […] Trump’s tweet today, which says Jeff Sessions should fire Bob Mueller, as yet more of the cacophony of mania and aggression that spews forth from his Twitter account daily like water flowing over a waterfall. But I fear that may not be the case. President Trump has criticized Jeff Sessions many times. His anger at him is notorious. But I don’t think he has ever so clearly in public told Sessions to fire Mueller or given him such a specific “cause” for doing so. I do not think this is an accident or a random escalation. […]

    I think we should assume that the President’s perception of the threat which the Mueller probe poses to him and his family has ratcheted up dramatically and very recently. He is mobilizing new threats to end it now. […]

    My sense of the situation is only confirmed by Sarah Sanders just concluded press briefing. They are holding to the point that the President didn’t order Sessions to end the probe; he said what “should” happen. There’s no attempt to walk back or defuse the sense of escalation. […]

    Regardless, it’s definitely something. Something new. Some dramatically escalating threat. […]

    I think we should be prepared for the President to fire Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein in order to claw his way toward either finding someone who will fire Mueller […]

    In case you haven’t seen it yet, here is Trump’s tweet:

    ..This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!

  58. says

    Trump has another great idea:

    […] In an interview with conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh, the president called the issue of shutting down the government over obtaining funding for his border security program a “great campaign issue.”

    “I actually think it would be a positive,” Trump said Wednesday. “It’s like pulling teeth, getting these guys [lawmakers] to get it done. And you have no idea how tough I’ve been. And I say hey, if you have a shutdown, you have a shutdown.”

    “Now, the shutdown can also take place after the [midterm elections],” Trump continued, “[But] I happen to think that it would be a great political thing. People want border security, it’s not just the wall, Rush, as you know.”

    “You could do it before the election or after the election,” he added. “I think it’s a great campaign issue. I think it would be great before [the elections]. I actually think we’d get more and there’d be more pressure on the other side, because we’re doing it because the Democrats are not giving us the votes.”

    He also noted that “I’m not doing it for politics.”

    “I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do,” Trump said. […]


    So much bullshit. He just said a government shutdown would be a “great campaign issue,” and then he said, “I’m not doing it for politics.”

  59. says

    We could see this coming, but it is still shocking:

    A Yahoo Finance/Survey Monkey poll finds 11% of Republicans say it would be appropriate for Russia to intervene in the upcoming U.S. elections on behalf of Trump and Republicans, and 29% say it would not be appropriate, but it wouldn’t be a big deal.


  60. says

    Follow-up to comment 72.

    A description of some of the looniest of Trump’s cult-like followers:

    […] The full spray of QAnon information includes: How violent criminal John McCain must wear an ankle bracelet and be tracked at all times, the harem of child sex slaves owned by Tom Hanks, and how Trump actually installed Robert Mueller as part of an ongoing plan to capture the Muslim terrorist Barack Obama. At the climax of the consensus narrative, Trump supporters will have to unite for a mighty Good vs Evil fight in which Hillary will team up with George Soros in an attempt to overthrow the government, only to be cast down by Trump, who will then usher in a new age of Christian righteousness. One led by Donald Trump and, you guessed it, Vladimir Putin. Because in QAnon, Putin is one of the few who can see through the Jewish plot to turn the world to Satan. And yes, in QAnon, Jews are satanists. Not surprisingly, many QAnon followers also consider themselves evangelicals.

    It’s the kind of conspiracy theory in which anything can be made to fit and any gesture or word has hidden meaning. Before every Trump rally, QAnon boards light up with speculation over which parts of the theory Trump will “confirm” this time. […] revelations that failed to appear in the Inspector General report were turned into evidence of more tampering by insidious Deep State Jew Rod Rosenstein.

    QAnon is loony and ridiculous, but not at all funny. it’s also a growing force within the ranks of Trump.

    Where did Rosanne Barr get the outrageous, racist statements she made in many of her Twitter posts? She was quoting QAnon sites. And, as the Daily Best reports, Curt Schilling is also on board.

    Considering that Pizzagate already inspired one Trump supporter to appear in a DC pizza place carrying an AR-15 (and become frustrated by his inability to find a basement, much less the child-sex ring dungeons he had been expecting) there are ample reasons to be concerned about a greatly expanded Pizzagate now with a extra large side of anti-Semitic claims and calls for widespread conflict. QAnon has already become a much bigger factor in Trumpdom than the original Pizzagate. It’s not just websites and handmade signs. Hundreds of QAnon followers marched in DC in January. There’s a QAnon industry turning out T-shirts and trinkets. Rightwing celebrities like Barr and Schilling have helped bring the conspiracy theory to a larger audience, and also helped ease it into larger Trump-centric sites like Breitbart. […]


  61. blf says

    No politics as such here… Not entirely tongue-in-cheek, I’ve maintained for some time now French rap “music” is a WMD banned in all unknown and most parts of the known Universes. Further “evidence”, French rappers’ brawl forces terminal to close at Paris Orly airport: “Some passengers scurried for safety while others took videos on their mobile phones as rappers Booba and Kaaris and their minders lashed out at each other and crashed through cosmetics stands in a duty-free shop.”

  62. says

    Follow-up to comment 87.

    From Wonkette’s coverage of QAnon:

    […] If you are not yet familiar with this particular load of horseshit, the way all of this works is that “Q” — supposedly someone high up in the Trump administration — drops “breadcrumbs” in posts on an 8chan message board, and then all of his or her followers, who call themselves “bakers,” work out what they secretly mean. Also, they believe that Donald Trump sends them — the “bakers” — secret messages by doing things like … drinking water. […]

    Donald Trump is fighting a secret war against an elite Washington-Hollywood cabal of Satanic pedophiles who eat children and babies/drink their blood/harvest their adrenal glands in order to obtain adrenochrome. Which can also be obtained by letting your EpiPen expire or by oxidizing epinephrine in a lab. They claim it’s some super fabulous psychotropic drug, because they saw it mentioned in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. (You don’t think they actually read the book do you?) It is not.

    The Russia conspiracy investigation is, of course, a cover for this very important mission, and Robert Mueller is actually helping Donald Trump uncover all of the secret Satanic Cannibal Pedophiles. They believe several arrests have been made — but that they don’t want the public to be tipped off quite yet — so Hillary Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, and John McCain are wearing ankle monitors that they cover up with … surgical boots. […]

    The conspiracy theory also involves celebrities, because of course it does, and just last week YouTube found itself in a bit of a bind when a ton of videos accusing people like Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg of being pedophiles became the first search results for their names.

    This is all happening concurrently with the push from right-wing trolls to brand a bunch of liberal Hollywood celebrities as pedophiles, as revenge for people like Roseanne losing their jobs for saying racist things. […] these people are dead serious. And yes, they 100 percent believe that the man whose child separation policy led to the documented sexual abuse of children, a man who walked around locker rooms staring at naked Miss Teen USA pageant contestants, is the ultimate warrior in a secret battle against a cabal of child predators. […]

  63. says

    Amazing – FiveThirtyEight has uploaded almost 3 million tweets linked to the IRA so anyone can analyze them:

    …Millions of the trolls’ tweets have since [the IRA indictments] been removed from the service, and while other outlets, most prominently NBC News, have published samplings of them, it has been difficult to get a complete sense of the trolls’ strategy and the scale of their efforts. Until now.

    FiveThirtyEight has obtained nearly 3 million tweets from accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency. To our knowledge, it’s the fullest empirical record to date of Russian trolls’ actions on social media, showing a relentless and systematic onslaught. In concert with the researchers who first pulled the tweets, FiveThirtyEight is uploading them to GitHub so that others can explore the data for themselves.

    The data set is the work of two professors at Clemson University: Darren Linvill and Patrick Warren. Using advanced social media tracking software, they pulled the tweets from thousands of accounts that Twitter has acknowledged as being associated with the IRA. The professors shared their data with FiveThirtyEight in the hope that other researchers, and the broader public, will explore it and share what they find. “So far it’s only had two brains looking at it,” Linvill said of their trove of tweets. “More brains might find God-knows-what.”

    The data set published here includes 2,973,371 tweets from 2,848 Twitter handles. It includes every tweet’s author, text and date; the author’s follower count and the number of accounts the author followed; and an indication of whether the tweet was a retweet. The entire corpus of tweets published here dates from February 2012 to May 2018, with the vast majority from 2015 to 2017.

    Reassembling this corpus of tweets is an exercise in a certain kind of national security. “Wiping the content doesn’t wipe out the damage caused, and it prevents us from learning about how to be better prepared for such attacks in the future,” said Alina Polyakova, a foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institution.

    But data archives can help rebuild this important piece of recent American history.

    That resulting data set is at the heart of a working paper by Linvill and Warren, currently under review at an academic journal, titled “Troll Factories: The Internet Research Agency and State-Sponsored Agenda Building.”

    In the paper, Linvill and Warren divide the IRA’s trolling into five distinct categories, or roles: Right Troll, Left Troll, News Feed, Hashtag Gamer and Fearmonger. (These category codes are included in the data.)

    …The researchers emphasized that the Russian disinformation and discord campaign on Twitter extends well beyond [the 2016 election].

    “There were more tweets in the year after the election than there were in the year before the election,” Warren said. “I want to shout this from the rooftops. This is not just an election thing. It’s a continuing intervention in the political conversation in America.”

    “They are trying to divide our country,” Linvill added.

  64. says

    Update to #s 68-70 above – Kevin Rothrock:

    The Khodorkovsky-funded group that organized the Russian journalists’ trip to the Central African Republic says the team planned to film at the giant Ndassima gold mine, which Prigozhin’s mercs were reportedly hired to guard.

    The journalists had apparently struck a deal to film the gold mine on the day they were killed.

    A new report says the journos weren’t killed on the spot, when ambushed on the road, but actually kidnapped, interrogated, and then killed. This contradicts their driver’s claims that it was a simple murder-robbery. (He survived.)

  65. says

    Still can’t get over this from the transcript of the press gaggle on AF1 last night (which was just a stream of lies from Hogan Gidley):

    Q Is the President seeking an additional $100 million in tax cuts for billionaires — the billionaires and millionaires — and in a way that would bypass Congress?

    MR. GIDLEY: No. In fact, theres been a great deal of issue — of interest in this provision for a long time. Treasury is currently evaluating the economic impact to see whether or not it requires any legislation. But anything further on the matter, Id have to refer you to Treasury.

    No. In other words, Yes.

  66. blf says

    Amnesty International staff targeted by Israeli-made spyware:

    Human rights group says there was an attempt to hack the phone of one its staff members by a ‘hostile government’.

    Amnesty International says one of its employees was targeted with Israeli-made surveillance software as part of a deliberate attempt to spy on the human rights group by a “government hostile to its work”.

    In a 20-page report released on Wednesday, Amnesty said one of its staff members was baited with a suspicious WhatsApp message in early June about a protest in front of the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

    The Arabic message read: Can you please cover {the protest} for your brothers detained in Saudi Arabia in front of the Saudi embassy in Washington. My brother was detained in Ramadan and I am on a scholarship here so please do not link me to this. LINK. Cover the protest now it will start in less than an hour. We need your support please.

    The link, if clicked, would have installed “Pegasus”, a sophisticated surveillance tool developed by the Israel-based company NSO Group, which infects the user’s smartphone and steals all the phone’s information, including: every contact name and phone number, text message, email, Facebook message, everything from Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat and Telegram.


    “NSO Group is known to only sell its spyware to governments. We, therefore, believe that this was a deliberate attempt to infiltrate Amnesty International by a government hostile to our human rights work,” [Amnesty International’s head of technology and human rights, Joshua] Franco said.


    NSO has been implicated in a series of digital break-in attempts, including a campaign against journalists, human-rights activists and lawyers looking into murders and corruption in Mexico; and an effort to hack into an Arab dissident’s phone that prompted an update to Apple’s operating system.

    In 2016, Toronto-based research group Citizen Lab reported that the United Arab Emirates employed Pegasus against award-winning human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, one of the few openly critical voices in the UAE.


    Mansoor was arrested in March 2017 and held in solitary confinement for one year before being sentenced to 10 years in prison earlier this year.

    As an aside, note the attack was made via WhatsApp, and had it been successful, WhatsApp would have been compromised. In @77, Jared Kushner is reported to communicate with Saudi Arabia and the UAE via WhatsApp, and I wondered how secure that really was. Not much… I wonder how many entities are spying on Kushner’s messaging?

  67. blf says

    In Scotland, Trump golf resort wrecked special nature site, reports reveal:

    US president’s [sic] broken promises have ruined a fragile dune system in Aberdeenshire

    The spectacular dunes system picked by Donald Trump for his golf resort in Aberdeenshire has been “partially destroyed” as a result of the course’s construction, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed.

    Scottish Natural Heritage […] now acknowledges that serious damage has been done to the site of special scientific interest (SSSI) at Foveran Links on the Menie estate, north of Aberdeen, since the course opened in 2012, the documents show.

    As a result, Foveran’s SSSI status — given because of its unusual shifting sands and diverse plant life — now hangs in the balance.

    “Construction of the new golf course involved earthworks, planting of trees, greens and fairways, drainage, irrigation and grass planting,” states one of the reports released by Scottish Natural Heritage inspectors. “This has affected the natural morphology of the dunes and interfered with natural processes. Most of its important geomorphological features have been lost or reduced to fragments. Nearby marine terraces have also been reduced to fragments.”

    Bob Ward, the policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, said: “These documents show that considerable damage has been done to Foveran Links, and that it is very unlikely that it will retain its SSSI status.”


    Trump originally won approval for his “Trump Estate” encompassing the protected dunes because he pledged to create up to 6,000 jobs by building a five-star hotel with 450 rooms, shops, a sports complex, timeshare flats, two golf courses and housing estates there. However, so far he has constructed only one 18-hole course, which is open seven months a year, a practice range, and a small clubhouse with a restaurant and shop; he also converted Menie’s manor house into a boutique hotel with 16 rooms.

    Many local residents and councillors believe that the development did not justify destroying the delicate ecosystem at Foveran. They say Trump failed to honour promises he made in 2008 to protect the site as much as possible when he encouraged a planning inquiry to ignore the dunes’ SSSI status.

    Normally the site’s conservation status would have prevented any significant development. But Trump said that, if he was refused permission to develop on the southern end of the SSSI, he would withdraw from the entire scheme. He also claimed that, when completed, the land there would be environmentally enhanced and better than it was before. The Trump Organization said last year its environmental approach to the course had been first class.

    […] Dr Jim Hansom, a specialist in coastal ecology at Glasgow University […] told a recent BBC Scotland documentary the site had lost the key features that led to it being given protection. The decision to approve the course was met with anger by conservation groups. “It appears that the desires of one high-profile overseas developer, who refused to compromise one inch, have been allowed to override the legal protection of this important site. And we fear this sets a precedent that will undermine the whole protected-sites network in Scotland,” [said] Aedán Smith, head of planning and development at RSPB Scotland […]

  68. blf says

    Shades of Jonestown, albeit without(?) forced “suicide”, South Korean cult leader arrested after stranding 400 followers in Fiji:

    A South Korean pastor has been arrested after stranding 400 of her congregants in Fiji and subjecting them to violent and brutal rituals.

    Shin Ok-ju of the Grace Road Church was arrested along with three other church leaders when they landed at Incheon airport just outside the South Korean capital Seoul.

    Her followers traveled to Fiji starting in 2014 after she predicted there would be a famine across the Korean peninsula.

    But once they arrived, their passports were confiscated and a group personally selected by Shin known as “guardians” prevented the worshipers from leaving.

    While they were in Fiji they performed ritual beating on each other, which Shin said was done to avoid punishment from God.

    [… examples of the tortures…]

    Eventually, at least five people were able to escape and contacted South Korean authorities.

    Christian inspired cults have attracted significant followings in Korea […]

  69. blf says

    UK PM Theresa May will soon be somewhere here in the South of France meeting French President Emmanuel Macron about brexit (May cuts short holiday for Brexit talks with Macron). The Grauniad’s Seamus Jennings on May’s Brexit meeting with Macron (cartoon). It’s based on James Gillray’s The Plumb-pudding in danger, or, State Epicures taking un Petit Souper.

    Various other ministers have been set loose and are harassing other European politicans. The Grauniad speculates May & Co is now trying a “divide and conqueror” ploy, May’s wooing of Macron is futile — the EU has been united by Brexit: “If the British prime minister expects to sow division by sending ministers out across the continent, she could be disappointed”.

    (For some reason I forgot all about that Gillray cartoon, which is his most famous work, and thought it was inspired by the much more obscure Petit souper, a la Parisienne, or, a family of sans-culotts refreshing, after the fatigues of the day (Trigger warning: It’s grisly !).)

  70. says

    “Former Ohio State wrestling coach urged Rep. Jim Jordan’s accusers to recant, texts show”:

    Retired Ohio State wrestling coach Russ Hellickson reached out to two ex-team members and asked them to support their former assistant coach, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a day after they accused the powerful congressman of turning a blind eye to alleged sexual abuse by the team doctor, according to the wrestlers and text messages they shared with NBC News.

    The former wrestlers said their ex-coach made it clear to them he was under pressure from Jordan to get statements of support from members of the team.

    Hellickson’s appeal to help Jordan came after the congressman repeatedly said that he had no idea that team doctor Richard Strauss was allegedly molesting the athletes — contradicting three wrestlers who told NBC News that Jordan must have known since the abuse was frequently discussed in the locker room.

    “I’m sorry you got caught up in the media train,” Hellickson wrote in a July 4 text to Dunyasha Yetts that the former wrestler shared with NBC News. “If you think the story got told wrong about Jim, you could probably write a statement for release that tells your story and corrects what you feel bad about. I can put you in contact with someone who would release it.”

    Yetts said Hellickson also called him later on July 4 and said he was under pressure from Jordan, who was an assistant wrestling coach at the university from 1986 to 1994, and from Jordan’s supporters to make “a bold statement to defend Jimmy.”

    “He said, ‘I will defend Jimmy until I have to put my hand on a Bible and be asked to tell the truth, then Jimmy will be on his own,’” Yetts said in an interview this week, recalling his conversation with Hellickson. “I told him, ‘I’m going to contradict you, coach, because I’m telling the truth.’”

    “He called me after the story broke, too,” DiSabato said of Hellickson. “He said Jimmy was telling him he had to make a statement supporting him and he called to tell me why he was going to make it. “

    Yetts, DiSabato and three other former Ohio State wrestlers interviewed recently by NBC News all expressed deep respect for Hellickson but said they believe he has been boxed in by Jordan’s denials and is now caught between wanting to support his former protégé and the wrestlers who have called the congressman a liar.

    Yetts said that after he rebuffed Hellickson’s suggestion to release a statement defending Jordan, Jordan’s allies began attacking his credibility and using his admission that he had served 18 months in prison for bilking investors as ammunition against him.

    “What a world we’re living in when a member of Congress is digging up dirt on sex abuse victims like us,” said another former Ohio State wrestler, who asked not to be identified “because my family is terrified” of being targeted by Jordan’s defenders.

    A pro-Jordan statement from Hellickson — one of several gathered by the conservative public relations firm Shirley & Banister — appeared later on July 4, following his text message to Yetts….

    At first, many of us were saying that Jordan should have just come out in the beginning and admitted he had some awareness of the abuse but didn’t speak out because part of him refused to believe it, attitudes were different back then, institutional mechanisms to address the problem weren’t in place at the time, etc., which people would have understood; and that he’d boxed himself into a corner by outright lying from the start. But as I read more reports with accounts from the wrestlers I came to realize that the more innocent explanation(s) for inaction didn’t apply. The wrestlers recounted that he talked often about his political ambitions, and on one occasion when someone raised the subject of the abuse his response was something like “Just keep me out of it.” For Jordan, then and now, it’s all about himself and his political career. That’s why he brushed off the allegations then and why he’s willing to lie about, smear, and seek to pressure and manipulate the victims now.

  71. says

    “Facebook’s new foreign influence report excluded most divisive rhetoric”:

    On Tuesday morning, the political and tech worlds were startled to learn that Facebook had identified and stopped a new covert campaign to spread divisive political messages on its platform, the first such announcement since 2017.

    But Facebook released only some of the pages and content publicly. What it did not reveal was the depth some of the pages went to stoke racial tension and incite division among Americans.

    NBC News was able to retrieve some of the pages Facebook deleted via a web archive search, which allows people to see internet pages that have been deleted. A review of some of the deleted pages from groups identified by Facebook as part of the “inauthentic coordinated behavior” found efforts to target people based on liberal politics as well as Hispanic and African heritage.

    One deleted post called for protesters to occupy the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

    Posted by a group called “Resisters,” an event that was initially titled “Stop Ripping Families Apart! DC,” was later retitled “Stop Ripping Families Apart! Take over ICE HQ” after Facebook users said they would attend. A total of 131 people later marked themselves as having attended the June 27 rally outside of ICE’s Washington offices.

    People who run disinformation campaigns benefit whether they are discovered or not, [Graham Brookie, director of the DFRLab at the Atlantic Council] said. Either they go undetected and can sow discord, or they are revealed and people begin questioning the legitimacy of all people in a debate, he said.

    That appeared to have already happened on Monday, with one organizer of a counterprotest for next month’s white supremacist rally clarifying on Twitter that the entire event was not a Russian front….

  72. says

    Contrasting reactions of two activists upon learning that they were interacting with (probably Russian) influence agents:

    “From Russia with Love? Mystery Facebook account sent New York activist a bunch of roses”:

    …After CNN contacted Pineda on Tuesday, she said she found Smith’s account was no longer on the platform. CNN understands that Smith’s profile was among the 30 accounts and profiles Facebook removed on Tuesday, which Facebook suspects may be tied to a Russian troll group.

    When asked if she was concerned she may have unwittingly been communicating with suspected Russian trolls, Pineda told CNN, “I haven’t been fooled by Russians, one particular group may or may not be tied to Russians,” and pointed out that many real Americans and legitimate activist groups were also involved in the demonstration and that Facebook hadn’t conclusively proved the accounts were Russian.

    “Everything can be exploited at any time by anyone. You could be a part of an organization and you could be infiltrated by police officers that are looking to gather intelligence if they think that you’re going to be doing a disruptive event,” she said.

    She said outlets including CNN spend too much time on the topic of Russian interference, “I think that this country is spending entirely too much time dwelling on Russia when we have so many more issues to talk about like the water in flint Michigan and young African men who are being killed by the police and by others so I think that we need to stop talking about Russia and start talking about health care.”

    Pineda is not deterred.

    “If you’re on social media, you’ve already exposed yourself,” she said, before encouraging CNN to come back another time and interview her about issues she spends much of her time campaigning on, rather than Russian trolls. “I’m having my health care justice working group meeting on August 4th at Panera Bread so we welcome Russians, we welcome communists, we welcome socialists because this Russia hysteria has to stop.”

    “How Fake Influence Campaigns on Facebook Lured Real People”:

    …“Being an activist, you come in contact with so many people here and there and have to also understand that people have a lot going on,” said Mr. Orsinger, 36. “I feel curious right now, to see what exactly happened so I can learn from it.”

    Facebook has been under intense pressure since the 2016 presidential election for failing to detect foreign meddling on its platform. The company did not identify who was behind the latest influence campaign, but it said the activity mimicked the manipulation of social media in 2016 by the Russian-backed Internet Research Agency. Facebook also said there were connections between the latest fake accounts and pages and some that it had terminated in a previous purge of Russian fakes.

    But even as Facebook moved more quickly this time to limit meddling, some said the company has become heavy-handed. The activists working on the counterprotest, which is scheduled for Aug. 10 to 12, said Facebook went too far by removing videos and messages that real people had posted. That essentially is forcing them to start over in gathering followers and building momentum to stage an effective protest, they said.

    Facebook has said little about the specific accounts that it deemed fake, other than that there was more than one administrator with the Resisters page, which connected with administrators of five legitimate pages to act as a co-host for the event. Facebook declined to comment on the “Mary” and “Natasha” accounts.

    After Facebook deleted the event page on Tuesday, activists swiftly recreated a new one from scratch to promote the counterprotest.

    But the display of raw power — erasing the entire platform that the activists had been using to organize their political action — was striking, said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, an internet rights group.

    Mr. Orsinger said he was not sure whether an account associated with the Resisters page originated in Russia or not, but said it had done no harm to local organizers.

    “I’m scared that my work moving forward is going to be either co-opted or deemed as illegitimate because Facebook didn’t decide to do the homework and background,” he said. “They decided to just start taking down stuff unilaterally.”

    I’m extremely sympathetic with Pineda, but her approach isn’t productive. She could have used the media attention to talk about health care without the denial, defensiveness, misdirected attacks on the media, or dismissiveness of the influence campaigns. (She could even have thanked Putin for the megaphone and noted that it would be used for a great cause he wouldn’t support.) Russia and likely others are trying to infiltrate leftwing movements, allowing them potentially to improve on their propaganda techniques, sabotage organizing, gain access to activists’ personal information in order to monitor or harass or compromise them, act as agents provocateurs, sow hostilities within groups, delegitimize leaders and organizations, discourage trust, and generally cause chaos. Putin’s authoritarian regime could use the information it gains for its own purposes, turn it over to Trump or other governments, reveal it publicly, or give it to far-Right groups.

    This is an important aspect of the reality in which activists now operate, and it doesn’t do anyone any good to deny or dismiss it. Orsinger is right to take it seriously, and the DC activists are right to be angry about Facebook’s response.

  73. says

    “Another Gift for a Putin Buddy”:

    Even as new evidence surfaces that someone, probably in Russia, is meddling with another American election, we can forget about strict punishment from sanctions for at least one of the Russian oligarchs closest to President Vladimir Putin.

    This week, the Trump administration further eased its pressure on Rusal, Russia’s largest aluminum company, less than four months after sanctions on it and its notorious leader were imposed. Even as the White House seems willing to inflict pain on American farmers and consumers with its trade wars, Russian aluminum workers are apparently worthy of special protection.

    Rusal is controlled by Oleg Deripaska, a member of Mr. Putin’s inner circle. As the Treasury Department acknowledges, he has been investigated for money laundering and accused of threatening the lives of business rivals, illegally wiretapping a government official and taking part in extortion and racketeering. There are also allegations, made public by the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, that Mr. Deripaska bribed a government official, ordered the murder of a businessman and had links to a Russian organized crime group. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Paul Manafort, then Mr. Trump’s campaign manager, tried to offer Mr. Deripaska private briefings about the campaign….

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said he is considering lifting the sanctions altogether because they are punishing the “hardworking people of Rusal.” But Mr. Mnuchin has it backward. If he was truly concerned about Rusal’s 61,000 employees, he would not relent until the company fully washed its hands of Mr. Deripaska and the corrupt regime the aluminum giant serves….

    Much more at the link. The idea that Mnuchin is concerned for Rusal workers is laughable.

  74. blf says

    Not too sure what’s going on, but apparently the Gruaniad is shutting down its Science Blogging network (at the end of August), So long and thanks for all the clicks. This is very unfortunate, as it greatly enhanced the Grauniad’s usually-reliable science reporting. (The Observer, owned by the Grauniad and accessible at the Grauniad site, is another matter.)

    (Presumably unrelated, for several weeks now the dead-tree edition of the Grauniad has not been available at the local newsagents. I haven’t (yet) asked them, or the Grauniad, what the feck is going on, but it’s most annoying, excepting reducing my daily costs.)

  75. blf says

    This is an interesting Al Jazeera video, Franklin turns 50: A look back at Peanuts’ first black character:

    Modern cartoonist Kerry G Johnson looks back at the legacy of Charles Schultz’s [sic] character and the effect it had on racial equality.

    Fifty years ago, at the height of the US civil rights movement, a leading cartoonist made a small but significant contribution to racial equality.

    Charles Schultz [sic] introduced his first black character, Franklin, in the famous, and hugely popular, Peanuts newspaper strip.

    As a child at about that time, I can still recall sending a letter and drawing to Mr Schulz (note to Al Jazeera: no t (watch your own video!)) — and he replied ! (I’ve since understood he tried to reply to most letters…)

  76. says

    TODAY: The National Archives told Chuck Grassley that it will ‘not be able’ to complete even his limited request of Kavanaugh docs by Aug 15, but rather by end of October, at which point it will still have to be reviewed by others before sent to Judiciary Committee.”

  77. says

    “Aide to Trump-confidant Roger Stone ordered to appear before Mueller grand jury”:

    A former aide to longtime President Trump confidant Roger Stone must testify before the special counsel’s grand jury, a federal judge in Washington ruled Thursday.

    The judge rejected a challenge from Andrew Miller, a former assistant to Stone, who tried to block subpoenas from special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in his ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

    Howell’s ruling orders Miller to “appear before the grand jury to provide testimony at the earliest date available” and to provide the subpoenaed records.

    It remains unclear if and when Miller will appear before the grand jury. [Miller’s attorney Paul] Kamenar said the fight to block the appearance will continue and that he would explore a possible appeal.

    Miller has not yet been given a date to appear before the grand jury, Kamenar said. He said he expects to have a better sense of what will happen next within a week….

  78. says

    The media seems to back in the same part of the endless loop of repetition in which Trump launches bizarre public attacks on Mueller and then his aides tell reporters he’s been pushing to talk with Mueller (just generally, or only about pre-election matters) and thinks he can prove his innocence if Mueller interviews him. This is like the fifth or sixth time this has been repeated, and they seem to fall for it every time. It makes me angry that I’m forced to side with Bill Kristol who’s about the only one on TV pointing out what bullshit this is.

  79. says

    Multiple officials are doing a pre-briefing press conference on election interference. Christopher Wray’s facial expressions during the most blatant dodging and toadying are pretty fun.

  80. says

    It’s ridiculous that Sanders waits for a semi-related cue to launch into reading (badly, aggressively, looking down) from a prepared script at the press corps. It’s not an interaction; it’s just an opportunity to blast out these lying, self-pitying pre-packaged rants.

  81. says

    SC @103, I noticed that during the press conference today, Sarah Huckabee Sanders used the existence of some Russian-backed groups on Facebook to make the general statement that the “Russians are helping the Democrats.”

    No, they are not. Russians are trying to destroy democracy. Some Russian-backed Facebook pages that purported to be supportive of leftwing causes slowly morphed into calls to action that included, “bring gas masks,” “be prepared to fight” etc.

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders was trying to make the point that Trump was right when he said the Russians and Democrats were colluding. That’s not going to fly.

  82. says

    Lynna @ #119, Katy Tur responded in such an informed and thorough way to that nonsense, pointing out the unreleased posts described @ #100 above and also the evidence from the 2016 campaign, when these fake leftwing posts and accounts were used to divide Democrats and suppress Democratic votes and were often spread by the Trump campaign to activate their own base’s hate and move them to action.

    Almost every word out of her mouth is a fucking lie, and the Right are being further helped by FB, which withheld important information, canceled an anti-Nazi event without consulting the activists beforehand (removing their posts in the process), and did little to counteract the notion that they were guilty by association.

  83. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comment 92.

    Yes, “yes” is the answer. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, “This is something that has a lot of support from various people.”

    Yeah, it has support from billionaires.

    From the Washington Post’s Matt O’Brien:

    President Trump campaigned as a different kind of Republican who would raise taxes on the rich so much that it was going to “cost” him “a fortune.” So, of course, he’s considering a plan that would almost exclusively give a near-exclusive tax cut to the wealthy investors who came out way ahead on his last tax plan — and this time he’d even bypass Congress to do it.

    Nothing says populism like giving billionaires a tax cut by executive fiat.

    From The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities: 86% of the benefits would go to the top 1% of households in the U.S.

    Also from the Washington Post:

    Over the past 30 years, federal policymakers have made a number of changes to the tax code – including reductions in top income tax rates, capital gains tax cuts and estate tax cuts – that have resulted in a massive redistribution of national income from the poor to the rich.

    The tax cuts signed into law by President Trump late last year – containing reductions to the corporate tax rate and lower rates for top earners – appear likely to accelerate these trends.

  84. says

    Excerpt from the press briefing today:

    [Jim Acosta said] “I think it would be a good thing if you were to say right here at this briefing that the press, the people who are gathered in this room right now doing their jobs every day, asking questions of officials… are not the enemy of the people. I think we deserve that.”

    [Sarah Huckabee Sanders said] “It’s ironic, Jim, that not only do you in the media attack the president for his rhetoric when they repeatedly lower the level of conversation in this country,” she began. “Repeatedly — repeatedly — the media resorts to personal attacks without any content other to incite anger. The media has attacked me repeatedly, on a number of occasions, including your own network. Said I should be harassed as a life sentence, that I should be choked, ICE officials are not welcomed in their place of worship and personal information is shared on the internet. When I was hosted by the [White House Correspondents’ Association], of which all of you are members of, you brought up a comedian up to attack my appearance and call me a traitor to my own gender.”

    “As far as I know, I’m the first press secretary in the history of the United States that’s required Secret Service protection,” Sanders continued. “The media continues to ratchet up the verbal assault against the president and everyone in this administration, and certainly we have a role to play, but the media has to role to play for the discourse in this country as well.”

    [Jim Acosta said] “I’m sorry that happened to you.” Acosta then asked her to acknowledge that the media isn’t the enemy of the people. Sanders again refused.

    [Sarah Huckabee Sanders said] “I appreciate your passion — I share it — I’ve addressed this question, I’ve addressed my personal feelings, I’m here to speak on behalf of the president, he’s made his comments clear.”

    Aaron Rupar pointed out:

    […] It’s unclear exactly what Sanders was talking about at points. ThinkProgress could identify no examples of anyone associated with CNN calling for her to be “choked” or “harassed,” and the comedian she referred to — Michelle Wolf, who did a routine at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in April — did not in fact “attack” her appearance. […]


  85. says

    “Jeremy Corbyn expected to make speech on Labour’s antisemitism crisis”:

    Jeremy Corbyn is expected to make a speech next week to address Labour’s ongoing crisis over antisemitism, amid increasing divisions in the party over how to tackle the issue.

    The Labour leader had reportedly planned initially to speak on Friday, with London’s Jewish Museum approached as a venue. The museum told the Jewish Chronicle it had been approached, but that no agreement had yet been reached.

    Corbyn’s office said only that no speech was taking place on Friday. However, a party source said there was a plan for him to speak on antisemitism, and it was a matter of finding an “appropriate” venue, with the expectation this would happen next week.

    Such an event would mark a significant moment in Labour’s attempts to get to grips with an issue that has seen widespread concern among many Jewish groups, as well as accusations that Corbyn has avoided confronting the problem.

    Illustrating the tensions surrounding the plan, Stephen Pollard, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, tweeted on Thursday that he had received many messages from people “all saying the same thing: if [the Jewish museum] hosts Corbyn next week, they will never set foot in it again.”

    Last week the three biggest Jewish newspapers in Britain published unprecedented joint front-page editorials saying a Corbyn government would pose an “existential threat” to Jewish life in the UK.

    Corbyn’s office has been described by activists as “under siege” from a stream of allegations of insensitivity to antisemitism that have intensified over the last week….

    This has several hallmarks of a garbage influence campaign.

    “#WeAreCorbyn” is trending on Twitter.

  86. Chris J says


    I think I might have found something for the whole “suggesting Sarah Sanders be choked” thing. Apparently MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace made a comment concerning frustration in the press room.

    MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace has issued an apology after she suggested in her broadcast on Friday that White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders be choked.

    Wallace asked NBC News White House reporter Kristen Welker, “How do you resist the temptation to run up and wring her neck?”

    The anchor, who was an adviser for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, asked the question after noting that Sanders refused to comment on an alleged remark by White House aide Kelly Sadler that, if made, was dismissive toward the state of McCain’s health.


    So, not CNN, but I can see how Sanders might be conflating all non-Fox news channels together to come up with that line.

    I have a suspicion about the harassment bit as well… it almost certainly refers to her being kicked out of the restaurant that one time, and probably some news person somewhere said that she should be harassed in that way for her failings of public duty.

    Her complaints are still pretty bullshit, the antagonism is entirely directed at her constant lies and deflections. Everything from the “wring her neck” thing to harassment in the restaurant to Michelle Wolf’s commentary about burning lies and using the ash to create a perfect smokey eye. Everything boils down to frustration and amazement at her constant lies.

    Trump has created a hostile atmosphere painting media as the villain. It’s practically impossible in the face of that to maintain civility; at some point, one of the thousands of reporters in media will get frustrated and say something mean, which will then be pounced on as proof of the media’s hostility. Only one side needs to be an asshole to drag down the discourse.

  87. says

    Thanks, Chris J @126, for those details.

    People are fighting back against Sarah Huckabee Sander’s constant lying. Sanders obviously thinks that she has not said or done anything wrong.

    In other news, a bribery trial has revealed that Jeff Sessions played a role in blocking an EPA action against one of Sessions’ biggest donors.

    When a coal executive and two lawyers stood trial in Alabama last month for bribery and related crimes, it was clear from the start that things might get uncomfortable for Jeff Sessions. The attorney general’s name, after all, appeared on a list of possible witnesses.

    Though he was never called to the stand, detailed references to Sessions and key members of his staff thread their way through the record of the four-week trial, which concluded on July 20 when David Roberson, vice president of Drummond Coal, and Joel Gilbert, a partner in the Birmingham-based law firm Balch & Bingham, were found guilty of paying off an Alabama lawmaker to oppose a federal environmental cleanup effort that could have cost Drummond millions. […]

    Sessions has long had close ties to Balch and Drummond—the companies respectively ranked as his second- and third-biggest contributors during his Senate career, […] And as Mother Jones and the Project on Government Oversight have previously reported, then-Sen. Sessions directly intervened with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to block the cleanup at the center of the federal bribery case. […]

    Billing statements, meeting minutes, and other records briefly made public during the trial—and quickly placed under seal by the judge presiding over the case, but not before Alabama columnist Kyle Whitmire saved copies—reveal that Sessions and his Senate staff coordinated more closely with the defendants than previously known. […] Drummond’s attorneys at Balch & Bingham coached Sessions’ staff on how to attack the EPA’s position and that Sessions’ staff reported back to the lawyers about their interactions with the agency.

    The backdrop for the bribery case is North Birmingham’s 35th Avenue neighborhood—an impoverished, largely black enclave sandwiched between the city’s airport and various industrial sites, including a Drummond plant. For years, residents have reported unusually high levels of cancer and respiratory illness, and they have complained about the dark soot that coats their homes. In 2013, the EPA found such high levels of toxins in the area that it designated a 400-acre section of the neighborhood a Superfund site; federal health authorities warned parents not to allow their children to play outside in their own yards. The EPA determined that Drummond was one of the companies potentially responsible for the pollution, and thus possibly on the hook for some of the cleanup costs. […]


    Much more at the link.

  88. says

    Typical Trump … he is pushing Congress to retain stricter work requirements for food stamps. Trump does not understand the entire food stamp situation, nor the work requirements.:

    […] Trump on Thursday urged House and Senate leaders to include controversial work requirements for food-stamp recipients as lawmakers get ready to hash out the final language of the $867 billion farm bill.

    “When the House and Senate meet on the very important Farm Bill – we love our farmers – hopefully they will be able to leave the WORK REQUIREMENTS FOR FOOD STAMPS PROVISION that the House approved,” the president tweeted Thursday afternoon. […]

    The House very narrowly passed a bill that would impose stricter work requirements on about 5 million to 7 million able-bodied adults in June. But the Senate, which passed its own bill last month, has been clear that such changes to SNAP, still commonly known to many as food stamps, are not politically feasible. […]

    A bill with big changes to SNAP simply can’t garner the 60 votes needed to advance — a reality that could imperil the whole bill without a compromise.

    It’s not the first time Trump has used his Twitter account to press for stricter work requirements — a big priority for House Speaker Paul Ryan that’s become so divisive in the House that the bill, which is usually strongly bipartisan, failed on its first attempt before finally narrowly passing in June.

    After the bill cleared the House, Trump tweeted enthusiastically: “So happy to see work requirements included. Big win for the farmers!”


    From the comments:

    how many of the ABLE BODIED recipients really want to sit on their asses?
    Plus many of them are taking care of the very disabled people on foodstamps also, because in home care is not possible due to bullshit cover of Medicaid and Medicare. But yeah let’s ignore that. […]

  89. says

    Chris J @ #125:

    Everything from the “wring her neck” thing to harassment in the restaurant to Michelle Wolf’s commentary about burning lies and using the ash to create a perfect smokey eye. Everything boils down to frustration and amazement at her constant lies.

    And it’s worth noting that Wallace has been a White House Communications Director.

  90. says

    Trump tweeted this little love note to Kim Jong Un:

    Thank you to Chairman Kim Jong Un for keeping your word & starting the process of sending home the remains of our great and beloved missing fallen! I am not at all surprised that you took this kind action. Also, thank you for your nice letter – l look forward to seeing you soon!

  91. says

    Typical Trump … he is pushing Congress to retain stricter work requirements for food stamps.

    Every day there’s a new advance in the class war, and his followers, whose lives and whose children’s and grandchildren’s lives are being ruined, cheer him on.

  92. says

    “Mixing protest and party, nightly ‘Kremlin Annex’ rally outside the White House reaches its third week”:

    Nightly protests outside the White House began the evening that its resident made headlines in Helsinki. Now in its third week, it has morphed into equal parts demonstration, roast and dance party.

    Unlike the Women’s March or March for Our Lives — single-day events attended by thousands — the modest, day-to-day rally dubbed the “Kremlin Annex” has a different flavor. Organizers welcome those who want to confront President Trump daily, at high volume.

    The issues — a Supreme Court selection, family separations at the border, possible collusion with Russia — matter, they say. Which issue the protesters show up for doesn’t. “We don’t plan on stopping until Donald Trump is gone,” the group’s website says.

    The sampling of offerings has included appearances by actress Alyssa Milano and Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti, as well as members of Congress. On Day 10, there were protesters dressed as sharks, timed to Shark Week. There have also been mariachi bands, painters working on resistance-themed canvasses and T. Rexes holding signs that read “Back from extinction to protest.”

    The size of the protests vary — Parkhomenko estimated more than 1,000 turned out to hear Avenatti, while other nights might see fewer than 100 people. Longtime Trump antagonist Rosie O’Donnell is scheduled for Monday.

    Kremlin Annex organizers are accepting donations that benefit a political action committee aligned with the Democratic Party. The protests have cost about $9,000 so far — including payments for musical groups, a sound system and sign-making materials — while bringing in about $120,000 from 5,000 donors, Parkhomenko said.

    “We have an opportunity to use our voice in a very different way than those in Ukraine,” Parkhomenko said. “Where in the world can you literally set up outside where the head of country lives with a sign that says ‘Treason?’ ”

    I think O’Donnell said she would be joined by some Broadway performers.

  93. says

    Today in 1940:

    The British Duke & Duchess of Windsor have sailed for the Bahamas from neutral Lisbon aboard an American steamship- despite a last-minute Nazi plot to kidnap them on the way to the docks.

    Churchill had to telegram the Duke (suspected of Nazi sympathies), threatening him with a court martial to get him to leave Europe: he’s to be safely tucked away in Caribbean, as British Governor of the Bahamas.

  94. says

    From Jane Mayer, writing for The New Yorker, in an article titled “Trump vs. Koch Is a Custody Battle Over Congress”:

    Most of the media coverage of the “ugly public feud,” as the New York Times called it, between President Trump and the Koch brothers has taken the Kochs at their word that they may have to give up on the Republican Party of Trump and start backing Democrats, so disgusted are they with the President’s protectionist trade policies. But history suggests that the Kochs’ threat is about as believable as that of a parent threatening to “just plain leave” if a balky toddler doesn’t behave.

    […] the Kochs’ pique at their own party is nothing new. For decades they have complained bitterly about Republican politicians whose fealty to their libertarian agenda has rarely, in their view, been absolute enough. […] they used their vast family fortune to build a three-pronged political machine comprised of lobbying, campaign donations, and nonprofit pressure groups to pull the Republican Party toward their views. One could argue that their return on investment has been remarkable; the Republican Party has adopted many of their hard-right anti-government, anti-regulation, and anti-tax views, few of which were in vogue when the Kochs entered politics. […]

    […] the group has grown into a private political machine that arguably rivals, and by some estimates overpowers, the Republican Party itself. Earlier this year, the network announced that it planned to spend four hundred million dollars in the coming midterm-election cycle, to help preserve the Republican majority in both houses of Congress. But last weekend, somewhat unexpectedly, at a meeting in Colorado Springs, of some five hundred members of this group, all of whom have pledged to contribute at least a hundred thousand dollars annually to the cause, Koch officials attacked Trump, in all but name, as “divisive,” and threatened to start backing Democrats in some midterm races. This came atop the recent news that the Kochs’ main political-advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, had sponsored an ad praising Heidi Heitkamp, the Democratic senator, who is running in a tough reëlection race in North Dakota, for voting to loosen financial regulations. The Kochs haven’t committed to backing her, but they have declined to support her Republican opponent, Kevin Cramer, more or less thumbing their nose at the President, who personally endorsed him.

    Trump took little time to fire back, tweeting, “I don’t need their money or bad ideas,” that he has “beaten them at every turn,” and that the Kochs “have become a total joke in real Republican circles.” Trump, of course, was never the Koch network’s preferred candidate. In 2016, he was, in fact, the only Republican Presidential candidate whom the Kochs declared they could not support. As a would-be strongman, Trump shared none of their libertarian anti-statist sympathies. […]

    Yet Trump has done more to further the Kochs’ agenda than any previous Administration. […]

  95. KG says

    Last week the three biggest Jewish newspapers in Britain published unprecedented joint front-page editorials saying a Corbyn government would pose an “existential threat” to Jewish life in the UK. – SC, quoting The Guardian, @123

    This has several hallmarks of a garbage influence campaign. – SC@123

    Indeed. It’s worth looking at the editorial in question. I quote it in full:

    Today, Britain’s three leading Jewish newspapers — Jewish Chronicle, Jewish News and Jewish Telegraph — take the unprecedented step of speaking as one by publishing the same front page.

    We do so because of the existential threat to Jewish life in this country that would be posed by a Jeremy Corbyn-led government.

    We do so because the party that was, until recently, the natural home for our community has seen its values and integrity eroded by Corbynite contempt for Jews and Israel.

    The stain and shame of antisemitism has coursed through Her Majesty’s Opposition since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015.

    From Chakrabarti to Livingstone, there have been many alarming lows. Last week’s stubborn refusal to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, provoking Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge to call her leader an antisemite to his face, was the most sinister yet.

    Labour has diluted the IHRA definition, accepted in full by the government and more than 130 local councils, deleting and amending four key examples of antisemitism relating to Israel.

    Under its adapted guidelines, a Labour Party member is free to claim Israel’s existence is a racist endeavour and compare Israeli policies to those of Nazi Germany, unless “intent” — whatever that means — can be proved. “Dirty Jew” is wrong, “Zionist bitch” fair game?

    In so doing, Labour makes a distinction between racial antisemitism targeting Jews (unacceptable) and political antisemitism targeting Israel (acceptable).

    The reason for this move? Had the full IHRA definition with examples relating to Israel been approved, hundreds, if not thousands, of Labour and Momentum members would need to be expelled.

    With the government in Brexit disarray, there is a clear and present danger that a man with a default blindness to the Jewish community’s fears, a man who has a problem seeing that hateful rhetoric aimed at Israel can easily step into antisemitism, could be our next prime minister.

    On 5 September, Labour MPs vote on an emergency motion, calling for the party to adopt the full IHRA definition into its rulebook.

    Following that, it will face a binary choice: implement IHRA in full or be seen by all decent people as an institutionally racist, antisemitic party.
    After three deeply painful years for our community, September is finally make or break.

    Three points strike me in particular:
    1) The claim that a Corbyn-led government would pose an “existential threat to Jewish life in this country” is so absurd that it is hard to take seriously. There is not the slightest evidence that Jews, or Jewish life in the UK, would be in any way adversely affected by a Corbyn-led government.
    2) The clear intent of the editorial – and of at least one of the “examples” of antisemitism appended to the defnition:

    Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

    is to define any anti-Zionist position (and there are many anti-Zionist Jews) as antisemitic. (I note parenthetically that the IHRA is an inter-governmental organization, not specifically Jewish or in any way entitled to speak for Jews in general, and that the governmets of Israel and the USA are among its members.)
    3) It is clear that nothing will satisfy the authors of the editorial short of a large-scale purge of Labour Party members, and the replacement of Corbyn. If the IHRA examples were accepted in full, they would simply switch to demanding proof that the party was fully committed to it – which would mean Corbyn’s resignation and a purge.

    I’ve said before here that Corbyn has in the past shown a degree of moral blindness to antisemitism among political allies and associates; and that left-wing antisemitism is a real phenomenon which should be combatted whenever it arises, and which often cloaks itself in anti-Zionism. But the corresponding tendency to attack any but the most anodyne criticism of Israeli policies and actions as antisemitic is also unacceptable. In this case, the accusation of antisemitism is also being used by enemies* of Corbyn who want him and his supporters out of the Labour Party for other reasons than his and their attitudes to Israel – and in the case of those within the party, prioritise this over the possibility of ejecting the Tories from government.

    I’ll add that the rise of the Far Right makes it understandable, and perhaps inevitable, that many Jews will strengthen their political and emotional commitment to Israel; even for many who have no intention to emigrate there and who dislike its current policies, it represents an option of last resort if antisemitic violence or persecution becomes a serious threat. It’s important to understand that, and to come down hard on real antisemitism, but it should not be allowed to determine government or party policy toward Israel.

    Declaration of interest: I’m not a member of the Labour Party, but I sometimes vote for its representatives at elections, when those of my own party are not standing, or when STV is in use.

    *I use “enemies” rather than “opponents” deliberately – the visceral hatred of Corbyn is manifest.

  96. KG says

    Last week the three biggest Jewish newspapers in Britain published unprecedented joint front-page editorials saying a Corbyn government would pose an “existential threat” to Jewish life in the UK. – SC, quoting The Guardian, @123

    This has several hallmarks of a garbage influence campaign. – SC@123

    Indeed. It’s worth looking at the editorial in question. I quote it in full:

    Today, Britain’s three leading Jewish newspapers — Jewish Chronicle, Jewish News and Jewish Telegraph — take the unprecedented step of speaking as one by publishing the same front page.

    We do so because of the existential threat to Jewish life in this country that would be posed by a Jeremy Corbyn-led government.

    We do so because the party that was, until recently, the natural home for our community has seen its values and integrity eroded by Corbynite contempt for Jews and Israel.

    The stain and shame of antisemitism has coursed through Her Majesty’s Opposition since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015.

    From Chakrabarti to Livingstone, there have been many alarming lows. Last week’s stubborn refusal to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, provoking Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge to call her leader an antisemite to his face, was the most sinister yet.

    Labour has diluted the IHRA definition, accepted in full by the government and more than 130 local councils, deleting and amending four key examples of antisemitism relating to Israel.

    Under its adapted guidelines, a Labour Party member is free to claim Israel’s existence is a racist endeavour and compare Israeli policies to those of Nazi Germany, unless “intent” — whatever that means — can be proved. “Dirty Jew” is wrong, “Zionist bitch” fair game?

    In so doing, Labour makes a distinction between racial antisemitism targeting Jews (unacceptable) and political antisemitism targeting Israel (acceptable).

    The reason for this move? Had the full IHRA definition with examples relating to Israel been approved, hundreds, if not thousands, of Labour and Momentum members would need to be expelled.

    With the government in Brexit disarray, there is a clear and present danger that a man with a default blindness to the Jewish community’s fears, a man who has a problem seeing that hateful rhetoric aimed at Israel can easily step into antisemitism, could be our next prime minister.

    On 5 September, Labour MPs vote on an emergency motion, calling for the party to adopt the full IHRA definition into its rulebook.

    Following that, it will face a binary choice: implement IHRA in full or be seen by all decent people as an institutionally racist, antisemitic party.
    After three deeply painful years for our community, September is finally make or break.

    Three points strike me in particular:
    1) The claim that a Corbyn-led government would pose an “existential threat to Jewish life in this country” is so absurd that it is hard to take seriously. There is not the slightest evidence that Jews, or Jewish life in the UK, would be in any way adversely affected by a Corbyn-led government.
    2) The clear intent of the editorial – and of at least one of the “examples” of antisemitism appended to the defnition:

    Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

    is to define any anti-Zionist position (and there are many anti-Zionist Jews) as antisemitic. (I note parenthetically that the IHRA is an inter-governmental organization, not specifically Jewish or in any way entitled to speak for Jews in general, and that the governmets of Israel and the USA are among its members.)
    3) It is clear that nothing will satisfy the authors of the editorial short of a large-scale purge of Labour Party members, and the replacement of Corbyn. If the IHRA examples were accepted in full, they would simply switch to demanding proof that the party was fully committed to it – which would mean Corbyn’s resignation and a purge.

    I’ve said before here that Corbyn has in the past shown a degree of moral blindness to antisemitism among political allies and associates; and that left-wing antisemitism is a real phenomenon which should be combatted whenever it arises, and which often cloaks itself in anti-Zionism. But the corresponding tendency to attack any but the most anodyne criticism of Israeli policies and actions as antisemitic is also unacceptable. In this case, the accusation of antisemitism is also being used by enemies* of Corbyn who want him and his supporters out of the Labour Party for other reasons than his and their attitudes to Israel – and in the case of those within the party, prioritise this over the possibility of ejecting the Tories from government.

    I’ll add that the rise of the Far Right makes it understandable, and perhaps inevitable, that many Jews will strengthen their political and emotional commitment to Israel; even for many who have no intention to emigrate there and who dislike its current policies, it represents an option of last resort if antisemitic violence or persecution becomes a serious threat. It’s important to understand that, and to come down hard on real antisemitism, but it should not be allowed to determine government or party policy toward Israel.

    Declaration of interest: I’m not a member of the Labour Party, but I sometimes vote for its representatives at elections, when those of my own party are not standing, or when STV is in use.

    *I use “enemies” rather than “opponents” deliberately – the visceral hatred of Corbyn is manifest.

  97. KG says

    Last week the three biggest Jewish newspapers in Britain published unprecedented joint front-page editorials saying a Corbyn government would pose an “existential threat” to Jewish life in the UK. – SC, quoting The Guardian, @123

    This has several hallmarks of a garbage influence campaign. – SC@123

    Indeed. It’s worth looking at the editorial in question. I quote it in full:

    Today, Britain’s three leading Jewish newspapers — Jewish Chronicle, Jewish News and Jewish Telegraph — take the unprecedented step of speaking as one by publishing the same front page.

    We do so because of the existential threat to Jewish life in this country that would be posed by a Jeremy Corbyn-led government.

    We do so because the party that was, until recently, the natural home for our community has seen its values and integrity eroded by Corbynite contempt for Jews and Israel.

    The stain and shame of antisemitism has coursed through Her Majesty’s Opposition since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015.

    From Chakrabarti to Livingstone, there have been many alarming lows. Last week’s stubborn refusal to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, provoking Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge to call her leader an antisemite to his face, was the most sinister yet.

    Labour has diluted the IHRA definition, accepted in full by the government and more than 130 local councils, deleting and amending four key examples of antisemitism relating to Israel.

    Under its adapted guidelines, a Labour Party member is free to claim Israel’s existence is a racist endeavour and compare Israeli policies to those of Nazi Germany, unless “intent” — whatever that means — can be proved. “Dirty Jew” is wrong, “Zionist b****” fair game?

    In so doing, Labour makes a distinction between racial antisemitism targeting Jews (unacceptable) and political antisemitism targeting Israel (acceptable).

    The reason for this move? Had the full IHRA definition with examples relating to Israel been approved, hundreds, if not thousands, of Labour and Momentum members would need to be expelled.

    With the government in Brexit disarray, there is a clear and present danger that a man with a default blindness to the Jewish community’s fears, a man who has a problem seeing that hateful rhetoric aimed at Israel can easily step into antisemitism, could be our next prime minister.

    On 5 September, Labour MPs vote on an emergency motion, calling for the party to adopt the full IHRA definition into its rulebook.

    Following that, it will face a binary choice: implement IHRA in full or be seen by all decent people as an institutionally racist, antisemitic party.
    After three deeply painful years for our community, September is finally make or break.

    Three points strike me in particular:
    1) The claim that a Corbyn-led government would pose an “existential threat to Jewish life in this country” is so absurd that it is hard to take seriously. There is not the slightest evidence that Jews, or Jewish life in the UK, would be in any way adversely affected by a Corbyn-led government.
    2) The clear intent of the editorial – and of at least one of the “examples” of antisemitism appended to the defnition:

    Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

    is to define any anti-Zionist position (and there are many anti-Zionist Jews) as antisemitic. (I note parenthetically that the IHRA is an inter-governmental organization, not specifically Jewish or in any way entitled to speak for Jews in general, and that the governmets of Israel and the USA are among its members.)
    3) It is clear that nothing will satisfy the authors of the editorial short of a large-scale purge of Labour Party members, and the replacement of Corbyn. If the IHRA examples were accepted in full, they would simply switch to demanding proof that the party was fully committed to it – which would mean Corbyn’s resignation and a purge.

    I’ve said before here that Corbyn has in the past shown a degree of moral blindness to antisemitism among political allies and associates; and that left-wing antisemitism is a real phenomenon which should be combatted whenever it arises, and which often cloaks itself in anti-Zionism. But the corresponding tendency to attack any but the most anodyne criticism of Israeli policies and actions as antisemitic is also unacceptable. In this case, the accusation of antisemitism is also being used by enemies* of Corbyn who want him and his supporters out of the Labour Party for other reasons than his and their attitudes to Israel – and in the case of those within the party, prioritise this over the possibility of ejecting the Tories from government.

    I’ll add that the rise of the Far Right makes it understandable, and perhaps inevitable, that many Jews will strengthen their political and emotional commitment to Israel; even for many who have no intention to emigrate there and who dislike its current policies, it represents an option of last resort if antisemitic violence or persecution becomes a serious threat. It’s important to understand that, and to come down hard on real antisemitism, but it should not be allowed to determine government or party policy toward Israel.

    Declaration of interest: I’m not a member of the Labour Party, but I sometimes vote for its representatives at elections, when those of my own party are not standing, or when STV is in use.

    Note: I’ve been obliged to censor the editorial slightly due to the filter.

    *I use “enemies” rather than “opponents” deliberately – the visceral hatred of Corbyn is manifest.

  98. KG says

    b****@143 was a misogynist insult. I imagine that in fact, this would be considered unacceptable by Labour for that reason.

  99. says

    KG @ #143, thank you for the information and analysis.

    1) The claim that a Corbyn-led government would pose an “existential threat to Jewish life in this country” is so absurd that it is hard to take seriously. There is not the slightest evidence that Jews, or Jewish life in the UK, would be in any way adversely affected by a Corbyn-led government.

    My jaw dropped when I read it, and it’s even worse in context.

    But the corresponding tendency to attack any but the most anodyne criticism of Israeli policies and actions as antisemitic is also unacceptable.

    It’s totally unacceptable, and the call for unquestioning conformity with such a politically inflected definition of anti-Semitism comes at a particularly inauspicious moment, when Netanyahu’s far-Right government is cozying up to Trump, Putin, and Orbán (described especially in #s 22 and 135 of the previous iteration); has amped up its violations of human rights; is harassing citizens and human rights groups who criticize its policies (described in #475 of the previous iteration and #93 above); and has just passed a blatantly discriminatory law that has infuriated multiple constituencies.

    Besides, the working definition explicitly acknowledges that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic,” so the prohibition on “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is calling for a double standard in many cases. Drawing comparisons between contemporary or historical movements and governments and the Nazis is kind of my jam. I have no intention of excluding Israel from such comparisons. There’s a very troubling tendency in that definition to equate legitimate criticism of or opposition to the policies, rhetoric, ideology, and actions of the Israeli state with anti-Semitism, and Labour is right to challenge it, in my view, especially in this moment. In fact, I would say there’s a need right now to have an open discussion about it. Calling for parties to silently accept a framework that potentially punishes criticism of a corrupt government on the far Right is entirely unacceptable.

    It’s somewhat tangential, but Peter Novick’s 1999 The Holocaust in American Life (with which I have some serious disagreements, but found informative) has a short footnote [!] (p. 351) to a description of Elie Wiesel‘s understanding of the Holocaust which reads: “Another unanswerable question: What would talk of the Holocaust be like in America if a skeptical rationalist like Primo Levi, rather than a religious mystic like Wiesel, had been its principal interpreter?” I think about this so often, especially now when the interpretation of this history is often driven by far-Right religious extremists with global political agendas.

  100. says

    Follow-up to comments 136 and 140.

    […] Five of the top U.S. national security officials — National Security Adviser John Bolton, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, FBI Director Chris Wray, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Gen. Paul Nakasone, the director of the National Security Agency and the commander of U.S. Cyber Command — each stood in the White House press briefing room and made it categorically clear that Russian efforts to interfere in this year’s elections are already underway. In the process, they delivered a message that was wholly at odds with what we’ve heard from their boss, who chose not to make an appearance at the briefing.

    One thing that wasn’t at odds: John Bolton lying and spinning. Bolton falsely claimed that Trump had been working to combat Russian interference in U.S. elections since the inauguration. Lie. And a stupid lie at that.

    One reporter asked Chris Wray why the American people should listen to him and his colleagues about Russian election attacks when the president and his White House keep pushing a very different line. Wray replied that FBI officials “are going to follow our oaths and do our jobs.”

    […] NBC News reported:

    Just hours after the nation’s top intelligence officials warned about Moscow’s efforts to disrupt a second consecutive American election, Trump said at a campaign rally here Thursday night that his diplomatic efforts with President Vladimir Putin “are being hindered by the Russian hoax.”

    The two events created a split-screen effect: America’s intelligence experts warning voters that Russia is trying to undermine democracy while Trump tells them it’s all political chicanery.

    At the same event, the president boasted to his fans that Russia’s Vladimir Putin wasn’t pleased when Trump won in 2016 — which is also the opposite of what Putin himself has said, and the opposite of what the U.S. intelligence community has said about the rationale behind the election attack.

    Adding insult to injury, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders went on to tell reporters yesterday that “certainly we know there are others” who were responsible for election interference in 2016, beyond just Russia. This, too, is wholly at odds with the findings of U.S. intelligence professionals.

    If yesterday were an aberration, it might be easier to overlook, but it was part of an ongoing pattern […]


  101. says

    China announced today that it will “take countermeasures” against Trump’s tariffs, if necessary.

    The list of U.S. goods on which China will impose tariffs includes honey, industrial chemicals, coffee and other goods totaling about $60 billion in retaliation. “If the U.S. side persists in putting its tariff measures into effect,” the Chinese government will retaliate.


    […] Washington imposed 25 percent duties on $34 billion of Chinese goods on July 6 in response to complaints Beijing steals or pressures companies to hand over technology. Beijing retaliated by imposing similar charges on the same amount of U.S. products. […]

    The escalating dispute, with no settlement in sight, has fueled fears it might chill global trade and economic growth. […]

    China’s imports from the United States last year totaled $153.9 billion. After the earlier action against $34 billion of U.S. goods, that left about $120 billion available for retaliation.

    The highest penalties in Friday’s list would be imposed on honey, vegetables, mushrooms and chemicals, targeting farming and mining areas that supported President Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

    The list included products as varied as snow blowers and 3-D printers, […] Beijing’s earlier round of tariffs appeared designed to minimize the impact on the Chinese economy by targeting soybeans, whiskey and other goods available from Brazil, Australia and other suppliers.

    Trump earlier proposed 10 percent tariffs on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports. He told trade officials this week to consider raising that to 25 percent.

    Chinese authorities warned earlier that if the dispute escalated, they would adopt unspecified “comprehensive measures.” That prompted concern among American companies that retaliation might expand to disrupting their operations in China. […]


  102. says

    Trump lied about the Queen of England during his fall in Pennsylvania last night.

    Russian asset Donald Trump followed up on his disastrous visit to England […] by making it 10 times worse Thursday night, lying about it at a rally […]

    Half the globe’s television stations broadcast the meeting, and broadcast the queen standing there in her tent, waiting and waiting and waiting for the orange buffoon to show. But in the dotard’s telling of the story, he was the one waiting. “I landed and I’m on the ground and I’m waiting with the king’s and the queen’s guards.” There is no “king’s guard.” There’s only the queen and her husband, who is Prince Phillip. Not king. Anyway, I digress. “I’m waiting,” he says. “I was about 15 minutes early and I’m waiting with my wife and that’s fine. Hey, it’s the queen, right? We can wait. But I’m a little early.”

    It gets worse, because it’s Trump. Of course it gets worse. He tells the crowd he has “a better relationship” with European leaders “than any other [American] president has had.” Seriously he said that. Then he displayed the keen understanding he has of foreign countries, undoubtedly the basis for his wonderful relationships: “I have great respect for the U.K. United Kingdom. Great respect. People call it Britain. They call it Great Britain. They used to call it England, different parts.” […]

    Stupid git.


    I watched the Queen, an elderly woman, gamely remaining on her feet while she waited and then waited some more for Trump to arrive. It was painful to watch.

  103. says

    More on Trump’s unhinged, embarrassing rants during the Pennsylvania rally last night:

    […] Trump disclosed that Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have been advising him to shut down the government unless he gets more than $20 billion in funding for his border wall before the 2018 midterm election. […]

    Trump sought to scare people about the risks posed by immigrants by referring to MS-13 as “slicers” and “animals” and mimicking the motions of a person being stabbed.

    The president went on to literally accuse visa lottery recipients of murder.

    “‘Our fist lottery winner — let’s see, he has seven convictions for death. He’s killed nine people.’ And we’re getting him the hell out of our country!” Trump said.

    In fact, visa lottery recipients are vetted just like all legal immigrants are, and immigrants — both undocumented and otherwise — commit crimes at rates no higher than American citizens.

    Trump repeatedly denigrated “the fake, fake, disgusting news” media during his speech on Thursday, calling reporters “horrible, horrendous people” and accusing them of making up stories. He had warm things to say about Russian President Vladimir Putin and denigrated NATO. He indicated he’s not familiar with the difference between England and the United Kingdom and falsely claimed he’s cut regulations to such a point that highways that used to wait 21 years for approval now receive it in just two years.

    “It’s going to be one year very shortly,” Trump said. […]

    After his speech concluded, Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro unironically spun Trump’s performance as “positive” and “funny.” […]


  104. blf says

    Follow-up to the assault on Ms Laguerre in Paris (the attacker has still not been found), ‘They just don’t see us as human’: women speak out on France’s harassment problem:

    She was slapped hard in the street in broad daylight by a man whose “animal noises” and wolf-whistles she had dared to challenge, but student Marie Laguerre felt lucky. Being harassed, whistled at and made to feel uncomfortable in the street was not a new experience. Laguerre had complained about it many times before. Nobody took much notice.

    But this time she had proof, with video footage of the attack going viral.

    “It’s not the first time I’ve had to answer back to harassment, but this time I had the video,” Laguerre said. “I’m lucky to have it because it shows how unsafe I feel. Every woman is a victim of this kind of behaviour … It’s never hitting on someone, it’s always violence. The video shows if you say no you can be hit. It’s a very powerful video.”

    Catherine Nicholson, Europe correspondent at France24 television, knows exactly how Laguerre feels. In a tweet in response to a Guardian headline, Nicholson wrote:

    There SHOULD be uproar, this kind of thing is common and has been for years.

    I’ve been:
    Spat on
    Chased & shouted at for not saying “thank you” to a “compliment”
    And more…

    All in broad daylight, in different neighbourhoods.

    May the uproar (& change) continue.

    “I’ve had this almost the whole time I have lived in Paris. It’s at the back of my mind every time I go out,” Nicholson told the Guardian.

    As Laguerre’s satisfaction in having proof of harassment suggests, being believed is not always a given.

    “The number of men who say ‘oh you’re imagining it’ or are overstating it …” said Nicholson. “For years I’ve told people about this happening, asked what it’s all about and what I could do. Often the response is: stop moaning; change your attitude; change your clothes; your hair; your neighbourhood. […]”


    After one assault, Nicholson was so shaken she asked a passerby to walk her to the metro station. “I told him I was scared … By the time we got there he’d asked me out.”

    Sexual harassment of women in France is not confined to Paris, but is a particular problem in the capital.

    A survey of the world’s most dangerous megacities for women by Thomson Reuters last year ranked Paris 17 out of 19 cities. London was 19.

    Before glancing at the survey results, The world’s most dangerous megacities for women 2017 (link embedded in above excerpt), I’d assumed first spot would be “awarded” to someplace in India (e.g., (New) Delhi). I was wrong, it was Cairo (Egypt). Delhi was 4th. New York 13th. However, that’s the somehow-computed aggregate over multiple categories (Sexual Violence, Access to Healthcare, Cultural Practices, and Economic Opportunities).

    Considering Sexual Violence alone — defined as “Women can live in this city without facing the risk of sexual violence including rape or sexual attacks and harassment” — Delhi is 1st (as I suspected), Cairo 3rd, New York 12th, London 14th, and Paris 16th, which is not quite what the Grauniad implied. (I don’t see any information about the survey’s methodology or raw results.)

    For French critics of #MeToo — who view the movement against sexual harassment and assault as American puritanism and argue women could deal with any problems by standing up for themselves — Laguerre’s video showed this was not always the case. Laguerre refused to let a strange man insult her in the street, and she was violently attacked for it.


  105. blf says

    (Completely off-topic, I’ve noticed that ridiculous “Like” thingy which recently appeared here at poopyhead’s is now gone. Good, albeit I am curious what happened (poor defaults or upgrade borking previous configuration are my guesses).)

  106. says

    Sometimes Trump’s incompetence plays out in our favor:

    […] The day after the international gathering, Trump announced that he had “instructed” U.S. officials “not to endorse” the official G-7 communique. White House officials then spent some time blaming Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for apparently hurting Trump’s feelings.

    What we did not know, however, was that the American president’s “instructions” about the joint G-7 statement were ignored. BuzzFeed reported yesterday that Trump’s order went unenforced.

    Since Trump’s tweet, however, there has been no formal or official follow-up by the US on the president’s demand, the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said. […]

    Trump’s tweet, the source explained, wasn’t sufficient to pull out of the communique itself because “the G7 has a suite of diplomatic tools for communications, and Twitter isn’t one of them.” The lack of a formal US notification means the G7 communique remains intact as agreed by the seven leaders in Quebec, the source added.

    BuzzFeed quoted one source saying, “The White House and State Dept. are actively ignoring the tweets of the president. It’s like there’s a reality TV president, in his own bubble, thinking he controls stuff. It’s like The Truman Show.”

    There’s a general expectation that when the sitting president of the United States barks an order, the officials in his or her administration follow it, whether they agree with the instructions or not.

    But looking back over the last year and a half, it may be time to adjust our assumptions about this dynamic — because this G-7 story isn’t the first example we’ve seen of U.S. officials choosing to disregard Donald Trump’s orders. […]


    The annoying dog barks, but has no bite.

  107. blf says

    Facebook is evidently down.

    I assume Zuckerberg will be on his way to Moscow to explain to Putin what went wrong.


    Probably unrelated, this is a must-read, ‘You’re the naive one’: youth activist’s open letter to a candidate for governor:

    Last month, a young environmentalist, someone like me, tried to hold you accountable for your actions, as we should with all public servants. At a town hall meeting, Rose Strauss, a Sunrise Movement activist, asked you why you accept fossil fuel campaign donations when we know climate change is going to harm young people at an unjust rate.

    But, instead of doing your duty as a politician and being transparent with your actions, you responded by calling her young and naive. […]

    You call us young, but we will be disproportionately affected by climate change. You will be gone, but your children, your grandchildren, your great-grandchildren — we will pay for your mistakes.

    You call us young, as if our shorter time on earth means we can’t see the suffering that exists because profit is put over lives, stories and experiences. As if our shorter time on earth means we can’t see what is right and what is wrong.


    And you call us naive. But we’ve been born into a world already headed towards climate disaster, with no other option than to fight to protect this planet which you and your fellow politicians have willingly put at risk with your apathy.

    You call us naive, as if climate change is happening in a far away future in a far away place. But it’s happening now, and it’s happening everywhere, and it’s happening to all of us. […]

    You call us naive as we try to pick up the pieces of a breaking world so that we have the opportunity to build something when we get the chance. But instead you could be supporting our voices, considering our position as the future proprietors of the society your generation of lawmakers is molding.

    My understanding is that to be naive is to show a lack of experience, a lack of judgment and a lack of information. You are the naive one.

    You don’t have the experience to imagine a life harmed by your decisions to cater to fossil fuel interest, you don’t have the judgment to consider people you choose not to see and you ignore the information necessary for you to make the right choice.

    I’m just going to quote the ultimate paragraph again for truth:

    You don’t have the experience to imagine a life harmed by your decisions to cater to fossil fuel interest, you don’t have the judgment to consider people you choose not to see and you ignore the information necessary for you to make the right choice.

  108. says

    Uh, yeah, these people should stop getting drunk:

    Alleged Russian spy Mariia Butina talked openly about her contacts with Russian intelligence officials when she got drunk, CNN reported Thursday.

    According to people who knew her at American University where she attended graduate school, on at least two occasions Butina bragged about her Russian government connections after she had imbibed and even said the Russian government was connected to her Moscow gun rights group. According to CNN, classmates were unnerved by her comments and reported her to law enforcement twice.

    Other classmates told CNN that in classes she was a constant defender of Vladimir Putin and claimed that she was a middleman between President Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. […]


    Speak out, female spy, speak out.

    Butina is pleading not guilty to FBI charges that she acted as an agent of Russia, and that she conspired with others to act as agents of Russia.

  109. says

    My Facebook account is working just fine.

    In other, quite good news: NRA In Financial Jeopardy, May Soon Be ‘Unable To Exist’

    The National Rifle Association may soon be “unable to exist” or “pursue its advocacy mission” because the gun rights group is in profound financial jeopardy, according to a legal complaint obtained by Rolling Stone.

    According to the complaint, an ongoing lawsuit against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York state financial regulators has bled the NRA dry and the not-for-profit is facing “irrecoverable loss and irreparable harm.”

    In recent months, New York took action to ban the sale of “Carry Guard,” an NRA-branded insurance for NRA members that was designed to help cover the legal fees after a member fired a legal gun. The state ruled in May that the liability insurance was illegal and the NRA’s insurance companies stopped selling it, according to Rolling Stone.

    In the court document filed in July, the NRA claims that the state of New York lobbied to get several other financial service providers — like insurance companies and banks — to break with the gun rights group, which has made it difficult to operate. The group alleges in the complaint that the NRA will soon have to dissolve its media operation, which it can’t continue without insurance.

    The suit asks the court to keep state regulators from “interfering with, terminating, or diminishing any of the NRA’s contracts and/or business relationships with any organizations.”

    “The NRA will suffer irrecoverable loss and irreparable harm if it is unable to acquire insurance or other banking services due to Defendants’ actions.” […]

  110. says

    Update on Trump’s swamp:

    […] It is normally difficult for Regular Folks to get a tour of Air Force One due to, ahem, it being a military aircraft and not a goddamn pony ride. But if you’re a Mar-a-Lago member and have ponied up the steep cash to hang out with Donald during his “presidency,” it looks like your chances of getting a private tour get substantially boosted. And Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Sheldon Whitehouse, Richard Blumenthal, and Tom Carper want to know if Donald has been using AIR FORCE FREAKING ONE to sell Mar-a-Lago memberships, because everyone in America knows full well that is something Donald would try to do the moment he first thought it up.

    When this new Mar-a-Lago “perk” was first reported, the White House dismissed it by saying that it was “common” for presidents to give Air Force One tours to their “friends,” suggesting that it wasn’t that Trump was rewarding Mar-a-Lago members with the tours, he just coincidentally happens to only be friends with people who happen to be paying him serious coin each year—admittedly, a revelation that would be unsurprising from this particular (cough) individual. […]


  111. says

    Say what now?

    Trump administration says it isn’t responsible for reuniting deported parents and children.

    The ACLU calls the administration’s refusal to reunite deported parents and children “remarkable.”

    […] On Thursday night, the Department of Justice (DOJ) informed a federal judge that the government is not responsible for finding the over 400 parents separated from their children at the border who were deported and are no longer in the United States.

    Instead, the government believes it is the responsibility of the American Civil Liberties Unions (ACLU), the organization suing the federal government, to reunify deported parents with their children.

    “Plaintiffs’ counsel should use their considerable resources and their network of law firms, NGOs, volunteers, and others, together with the information that defendants have provided (or will soon provide), to establish contact with possible class members in foreign countries,” DOJ said in a court filing. […]

  112. blf says

    On @158, the NRA’s finances have been wobbly for quite some time, NRA finances still shaky despite post-Parkland surge (March-2018):

    Gun lobby’s 2016 financial filing is pockmarked with accounting red flags

    If the National Rifle Association were a public company, listed on a major stock exchange, the seemingly insecure financial state of its membership arm might be a reason to worry for its future.

    The NRA membership organization’s 2016 financial filing — the latest report available — is pockmarked with accounting red flags: significant deferred revenues compared to cash balances; high allowances for uncollectible accounts; a negative balance for unrestricted net assets; $43 million in short-term debt; and a cumulative pension liability of $40 million.


    “As a result of the NRA’s precarious financial position, the organization is now even more dependent on a small number of telemarketing firms to pump up membership rolls,” said Brian Mittendorf, a professor and chair of the department of accounting & management information systems at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. […]


    “Reserving more than 25% for uncollectible accounts is quite high for an organization that says it has such a loyal membership base,” said Mittendorf.

    In 2016, the New York Post reported that the NRA failed to list the Political Victory Fund, its PAC, as one of its associated organizations until 2014. It told the IRS it spent nothing on lobbying each year from 2008 to 2013. Finally, in 2014, the NRA recorded $1 million in lobbying expenses, an amount that contradicts the figure reported to Congress of $3.4 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.


    It seems they could use a few tens of millions from Putin, and have something quite valuable to offer in return — a compliant pestilence of powerful putrid politicians.

  113. KG says

    There’s a very troubling tendency in that definition to equate legitimate criticism of or opposition to the policies, rhetoric, ideology, and actions of the Israeli state with anti-Semitism, and Labour is right to challenge it, in my view, especially in this moment. – SC@146

    Unfortunately, it isn’t really challenging it, in the sense of saying “No, we won’t adopt the IHRA definition, and here’s why…”. Instead, they’ve left out some of the examples that go with the definition, but claimed the content of those examples is covered elsewhere in their policy.

  114. KG says


    Thanks for that link – I hadn’t seen the article. I share your judgement of it, but I’m certain it will be rejected by those attacking him: they want nothing less than complete capitulation.

  115. says

    Ken Dilanian: “As the overwhelming evidence mounts in court against Manafort, we have to ask: What can he possibly be up to, mounting an Alamo defense at these trials… unless he assumes he will be pardoned?”

    The really weird thing is that of all of them Manafort is probably the most vulnerable to (unpardonable) state charges. Tax evasion, bank fraud – these can totally be charged by the states, and state prisons would likely be much less hospitable.

  116. says

    WaPo update on the missing girl @ #s 124 and 139 above – “Girl abducted from Reagan National Airport still missing”:

    A 12-year-old girl visiting from China is still missing, officials said Friday.

    On Thursday, an Amber Alert was issued for Jinjing Ma, who is believed to have been abducted about 8:15 a.m. from Reagan National Airport, police said. Ma is 4-feet-11, about 90 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen at the airport wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a black jacket, according to the alert.

    On Friday, authorities said they are looking for the girl who they called a “critical missing juvenile.”

    Ma was visiting from China as part of a tour group that was sightseeing and looking at schools in the United States since July 26, authorities said. At the airport, the child said she needed to use the restroom. She then met with an unknown middle-aged Asian woman, authorities said. The girl exited the restroom in different clothes, and walked with the woman toward the arrivals area of the airport, authorities said.

    Ma and the woman were later seen entering a white Infiniti vehicle with New York tags, David Huchler, chief of police for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, said during a news conference Thursday afternoon.

    Officials issued a photo of the car and of a man and woman who may be involved. They also put out a photo showing the girl walking with the woman.

    MWAA authorities said in a statement that the child got into a white Infiniti QX70, a 2016 or 2018 model.

    Huchler called the incident “very serious.” Officials do not know why Ma left the airport with the woman.

    MWAA is working with Virginia State Police and the National Center for Exploited Children, and are attempting to contact the Chinese Embassy, he said.

    “It’s really important that the community recognizes this child may be in danger,” Huchler said, urging those with information to contact authorities….

  117. says

    I genuinely don’t understand how authorities in VA could still be “attempting to contact the Chinese Embassy” today. Does that mean her family still hasn’t been contacted? What?

  118. says



    12-year-old JinJing Ma missing from @reagan_airport in Arlington, #Virgina has been found safe!

    Thank you for sharing her poster, without your help we wouldn’t be able to bring you this fantastic news!

    So what happened? Who are the people she left the airport with?

  119. says

    Tell us what you really think, Geraldo.

    Fox News analyst Geraldo Rivera said Friday that President Trump’s proposed wall on the Mexican border is needed to keep out “Juan and Maria,” immigrants including babysitters, agricultural workers and manual laborers and keep its current “demographic makeup.”

    During a Fox and Friends segment Friday, Rivera conceded that the border wall would not keep out transnational “dopers” or drug traffickers. But he said it would help keep out immigrant laborers who cross the border.

    “The wall, I think, will cut down on the ‘Juan and Maria,’ the fruit-picker, the you know, the babysitter, the lawnmower, the dishwasher — those immigrants will be, I think, kept out by the wall,” Rivera said during the segment, according to Media Matters for America.

    “Psychologically, we need the wall on the southern border because we are scared that the demographic makeup of the country is changing,” he continued. “There are so many people coming in. We need some enforcement.” […]


  120. says

    More lies, coupled with self-congratulation, from Trump’s Pennsylvania rally.

    During his speech Thursday night in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, President Trump touted seven new steel plants he claimed U.S. Steel is opening.

    If true, Trump’s claim would be huge news, as according to PolitiFact, U.S. Steel only operates four steelmaking plants in the entire country at present. […]

    “I’ll tell you what I’m really proud of now. About five months ago — it took a while to get all the statutory approvals — we’re putting our steel workers back to work at clips that nobody could believe,” Trump said on Thursday. “U.S. Steel is opening up seven plants.” […]

    Trump bizarrely said that “U.S. Steel just announced that they are building six new steel mills. And that number is soon going to be lifted, but I’m not allowed to say that, so I won’t.” […]

    Trump’s claim is a fabrication. U.S. Steel is not “opening up seven plants.” In fact, the company hasn’t publicly announced it is opening any new plants at all. […]

    U.S. Steel provided CNN with a statement saying the openings of new plants “would be publicly announced if they happen.” […]


  121. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #175:

    “The wall, I think, will cut down on the ‘Juan and Maria,’ the fruit-picker, the you know, the babysitter, the lawnmower, the dishwasher — those immigrants will be, I think, kept out by the wall,” Rivera said during the segment, according to Media Matters for America.


    Rivera was born at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, New York, the son of Lillian (née Friedman) and Cruz “Allen” Rivera (October 1, 1915 – November 1987), a restaurant worker and cab driver respectively. Rivera’s father was a Catholic Puerto Rican, and his mother is of Ashkenazi Russian Jewish descent.

  122. says

    UPDATE: Lawyers for 12 y/o Chinese girl say her parents picked her up at Reagan Airport. After seeing the story on the news, they called a law firm in NYC. FBI met with parents this AM and no longer calling this an abduction, but a misunderstanding.”

    Well, that clears everything up.

  123. says

    Follow-up to comment 72.

    From Susan B. Glasser, writing for The New Yorker:

    On Thursday, the Washington Post published a remarkable story on its front page revealing a recent spike in the number of “false and misleading claims” made by President Trump. In his first year as President, Trump made 2,140 false claims, according to the Post. In just the last six months, he has nearly doubled that total to 4,229. In June and July, he averaged sixteen false claims a day. On July 5th, the Post found what appears to be Trump’s most untruthful day yet: seventy-six per cent of the ninety-eight factual assertions he made in a campaign-style rally in Great Falls, Montana, were “false, misleading or unsupported by evidence.” […]

    These astonishing statistics were compiled by a small team overseen by Glenn Kessler, the editor and chief writer of the Post’s Fact Checker column, who for much of the last decade has been truth-squadding politicians and doling out Pinocchios for their exaggerations, misrepresentations, distortions, and otherwise false claims. […] [Trump], has a habit of repeating the same falsehoods over and over again, especially as they concern his core political causes, such as trade or immigration or getting European allies to contribute more to nato. What should Kessler do, he often asks himself, when Trump repeats a four-Pinocchio whopper? […] Trump has repeated close to a hundred and fifty untruths at least three times. Kessler has instated a Trump-specific database in response. […]

    […] the recent wave of misstatements is both a reflection of Trump’s increasingly unbound Presidency and a signal attribute of it. The upsurge provides empirical evidence that Trump, in recent months, has felt more confident running his White House as he pleases, keeping his own counsel, and saying and doing what he wants when he wants to. […] The untruths, Kessler told me, are Trump’s political “secret sauce.”

    That appears to be the case for others on Trump’s team as well. As Kessler and I talked, the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, presided at one of her increasingly rare press briefings. […] Sanders repeated a number of false claims, including one that Kessler had previously debunked, that reporters put out “leaked” information that caused Osama bin Laden to stop using his satellite phone and slowed the hunt for the Al Qaeda leader before the 9/11 attacks. Kessler heard about Sanders’s false claim as we were leaving and retweeted his old article. “Kind of amazed but not surprised,” he wrote on Twitter, that the White House press secretary “would cite uninformed reporting that appeared BEFORE I debunked this fable in 2005.” […]

    Much more at the link.

  124. Akira MacKenzie says

    Sorry, I need to rant in hopes someone will hear me and point me in the right direction:

    I hate my life.

    I’m 43-years-old, and I work at a low-paying job that I hate with no hope for any real advancement. I only continue to work there because I have bills to pay and the USA is a shithole capitalist country that doesn’t have a decent social democracy that provides health care or other vital services like some REAL nations I could name (e.g. Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, most of Europe…) and allows its ruling billionaire class to pay its employees squat in the name of the “free market.” All of the fields of study that interest me I am either grossly unqualified or they don’t provide a living wage. So here I am, sitting in a call center cubicle all day long, talking to selfish, stupid, greedy people I would love to see die horrible, painful, lingering deaths. Preferably by my hand,

    What’s that fascist pig libertarian readers? I should just work harder and the Invisible Hand of the Blessed Free Market will trickle down the largess of the upper class’ tax cuts upon me? Yeah, I’ve been waiting on that for 20 years and so far I’m still making just about minimum wage in “entry level” jobs that were down upon my already damaged psyche. So far, nada. So take your Horatio Alger stories and Ayn Rand bullshit and shove them up your most pain-sensitive and sexually humiliating orifice. Even entry into the “middle class” comes to the lucky or the unscrupulous.

    My mind keeps coming back to Marx: “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.” Well, sadly Karl, while I have plenty of needs, I don’t have much in the way of abilities. I suck at math, which means my childhood desire to become a scientist went up in flames early. I’m a fat and flabby old man who hates monotony, so I’m not cut out for physical labor. I love writing, but I can’t do it well enough compared to professional writers. On top of that, I have a defective brain full of mental illness and complications: chronic depression, ADD, anxiety, and being somewhere on the the “barely functional” side of the autism spectrum. At this point I think the most merciful thing would be to euthanize me like the sick, useless animal I am.

  125. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Akira MacKenzie #182:

    I need to rant in hopes someone will hear me

    Why did you seek that here? Again. (Last time it was drunken venting IIRC?) There are probably other avenues with both wider readership and more relevant readers.
    I’m not an authority, but you might find something helpful below…

    What’s that fascist pig libertarian readers?

    This thread doesn’t exactly cater to libertarians. On the plus side, it’s unlikely any would be loitering here to fight you, which is for the best.

    I suck at math

    Emphasizing innate talent encourages stagnation/giving up. A mastery mindset promotes growth, skill comes from practice/training. Folks who think they’re bad at art… they don’t draw… and consequently, stay bad at art.
    Incidentally, experts can be quite reliant on references for basic stuff. They know theory and tricks, where to look, how to vet results that turn up.
    Comic: SMBC – How to tell the difference, Science fan vs Scientist

    my childhood desire to become a scientist went up in flames early

    Lots of folks who went that route have their own complaints about life.

    I love writing, but I can’t do it well enough compared to professional writers.

    Professional writers think they’re crap too. Many self-publish, particularly those of marginalized groups. Authors that make up ‘book twitter’ frequently talk about imposter syndrome and anxiety over being unproductive. And there are legitimately awful writers who put a price tag on their work.

    I hate my life.

    Control what you can. Work on regulating those self-defeating mood-driven thoughts. Question their usefulness and justification – or distract yourself when you recognize that’s what’s happening. Pay attention to sleep, nutrition/substances, sunlight, exercise. Those have a big impact on mood.
    Curate the media you consume to prune distressing sources (particularly stories you can’t meaningfully respond to). You might find the Savvy Psychologist podcast interesting. Refrain from repetitive time-sinks (unless that’s what you want at the moment), and try to do things that provide a sense of accomplishment/pride (hobbies, volunteering, etc).
    Broaden your interests and friends, through social media or experiment with meetups. Set yourself up to stumble into new options.

    I have a defective brain

    I once heard it called “neuroqueer”. Playful branding aside, it’s important not to consign yourself to “broken”. I’m sorry I can’t help with the availability of treatment, meds, and assistive tech. Social support, even one emotionally close friend who understands, can be hugely beneficial.

  126. says

    “At President Trump’s hotel in New York, revenue went up this spring — thanks to a visit from big-spending Saudis”:

    The general manager of the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan had a rare bit of good news to report to investors this spring: After two years of decline, revenue from room rentals went up 13 percent in the first three months of 2018.

    What caused the uptick at President Trump’s flagship hotel in New York? One major factor: “a last-minute visit to New York by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” wrote general manager Prince A. Sanders in a May 15 letter, which was obtained by The Washington Post.

    Neither Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman nor members of the royal family stayed at Trump’s hotel, Sanders said: He said the Trump hotel didn’t have suites big enough to accommodate them. But “due to our close industry relationships,” he wrote, “we were able to accommodate many of the accompanying travelers.”

    The previously unreported letter — describing a five-day stay in March that was enough to boost the hotel’s revenue for the entire quarter — shows how little is known about the business that the president’s company does with foreign officials.

    Such transactions have fueled criticism that Trump is reaping revenue from foreign governments, even as he controls U.S. foreign policy toward those countries. Trump’s company has disclosed few details about the business it does with foreign customers, saying it already reveals more than is required.

    Neither the Trump Organization nor the Saudi Embassy answered questions about whether the Saudi government paid for anyone’s stay at the hotel. Sanders did not respond to requests for comment.

    For now, just a handful of foreign government clients at Trump properties have been publicly identified through media reports and statements from foreign officials.

    But a broader list could eventually come out.

    Last week, a federal judge in Maryland gave the go-ahead to a lawsuit alleging that by accepting government business at his properties, Trump is violating the Constitution’s “emoluments clauses” — dusty 18th-century measures meant to prevent presidents from putting their private bank accounts ahead of the public interest.

    If it stands, the ruling could force the company to provide new details about its relationships with foreign governments, states and even federal agencies.

    The Justice Department, which is representing Trump in his official capacity, has argued that the Founding Fathers meant only to stop presidents from accepting gifts from foreign governments — not to keep presidents from conducting private business….

    I’m still mad the DoJ is using taxpayer money to support Trump’s personal corruption.

  127. says

    “Trump associate socialized with alleged Russian agent Maria Butina in final weeks of 2016 campaign”:

    Maria Butina, the Russian gun-rights activist who was charged last month with working as an unregistered agent of the Kremlin, socialized in the weeks before the 2016 election with a former Trump campaign aide who anticipated joining the presidential transition team, emails show, putting her in closer contact with President Trump’s orbit than was previously known.

    Butina sought out interactions with J.D. Gordon, who served for six months as the Trump campaign’s director of national security before leaving in August 2016 and being offered a role in the nascent Trump transition effort, according to documents and testimony provided to the Senate Intelligence Committee and described to The Washington Post.

    The two exchanged several emails in September and October 2016, culminating in an invitation from Gordon to attend a concert by the rock band Styx in Washington. Gordon also invited Butina to attend his birthday party in late October of that year….

    More at the link. I love this: “Robert Driscoll, an attorney for Butina, said the email exchanges show that Butina was a student eager to network with Americans who shared her interests and no more.”

  128. says

    “The Gender Gap Among Midterm Voters Looks Huge — Maybe Even Record-Breaking”:

    …If women were the only ones who voted, races that are closely contested now would turn into Democratic blowouts, today’s safe Republican seats would turn into toss-ups, and Democrats would win the House popular vote nearly every time. But, of course, men make up almost half of the electorate too, and history and the polls show that Democrats can’t count on their support. (Men may yet vote Democratic — the exit polls suggest they are more likely to swing their votes in response to current events than women are3 — but they probably won’t do so by 7 or more points, which is the overall margin that analysts estimate Democrats need to flip the House.) If Democrats win the 2018 midterms, it will almost certainly be because of the strong support they get from women….

  129. says

    BuzzFeed is killing it:

    “Paul Manafort’s Accountant Says She Regrets Shady Financial Practices.” (Zoe Tillman’s report from day 4 of Manafort’s trial.)

    “A Judge Says The Trump Administration Must Reinstate DACA Because They Gave No ‘Rational’ Reason For Ending It: ‘A conclusory assertion that a prior policy is illegal, accompanied by a hodgepodge of illogical or post hoc policy assertions, simply will not do’.”

    “A Member Of Trump’s Voter Commission Just Said The White House’s Voter Fraud Claims Were ‘False'”:

    Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democrat who served on President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission, published a trove of documents Friday that he said show zero signs of mass voter fraud, declaring that the White House’s claims about wide-scale fraud are “false.”

    “I have reviewed the documents made available to me and they do not contain evidence of widespread voter fraud,” Dunlap wrote in a letter that took aim at Trump’s repeated — and baseless — claims that millions of people voted illegally.

    Dunlap had sued the government to obtain the records he published Friday, which he said the administration had been hiding.

    The documents were all posted online “so Americans can conclude for themselves that evidence to support the statements of Vice Chair Kobach and the White House regarding the preliminary findings do not exist,” Dunlap wrote….

  130. says

    “Kobach promised cities help. It cost them millions — and powered his political rise”:

    Kris Kobach likes to tout his work for Valley Park, Mo. He has boasted on cable TV about crafting and defending the town’s hard-line anti-immigration ordinance. He discussed his “victory” there at length on his old radio show. He still lists it on his resume.

    But “victory” isn’t the word most Valley Park residents would use to describe the results of Kobach’s work. With his help, the town of 7,000 passed an ordinance in 2006 that punished employers for hiring illegal immigrants and landlords for renting to them.

    After two years of litigation and nearly $300,000 in expenses, the ordinance was largely gutted. Now, it is illegal only to “knowingly” hire illegal immigrants there — something that was already illegal under federal law. The town’s attorney can’t recall a single case brought under the ordinance.

    “Ambulance chasing” is how Grant Young, a former mayor of Valley Park, describes Kobach’s role. Young characterized Kobach’s attitude as, “Let’s find a town that’s got some issues or pretends to have some issues, let’s drum up an immigration problem and maybe I can advance my political position, my political thinking and maybe make some money at the same time.”

    Kobach used his work in Valley Park to attract other clients, with sometimes disastrous effects on the municipalities. The towns — some with budgets in the single-digit-millions — ran up hefty legal costs after hiring him to defend similar ordinances.

    Farmers Branch, Texas, wound up owing $7 million in legal bills. Hazleton, Pa., took on debt to pay $1.4 million and eventually had to file for a state bailout. Fremont, Neb., raised property taxes to pay for Kobach’s services. None of the towns is currently enforcing an ordinance he helped craft.

    “This sounds a little bit to me like Harold Hill in ‘The Music Man,’ ” said Larry Dessem, a law professor at the University of Missouri who focuses on legal ethics….

    Kobach rode the attention the cases generated to political prominence, first as Kansas secretary of state and now as a candidate for governor in the Aug. 7 Republican primary. He also earned more than $800,000 for his immigration work, paid by both towns and an advocacy group, over 13 years….

    Much, much more at the link, including:

    Valley Park had hardly any immigrants to speak of at the time Kobach was called in. The town’s Hispanic population had ticked up from 2 percent of the population to around 3 percent in 2006. That amounted to an increase of about 50 people in a town of 7,000.

    That was enough for the town’s then mayor, Jeff Whitteaker. He took to local media to fulminate about overcrowding. “You got one guy and his wife that settle down here, have a couple kids, and before long you have Cousin Puerto Rico and Taco Whoever moving in,” Whitteaker told the Riverfront Times.

  131. says

    “Arron Banks, money for mines and the ‘loan scenario'”:

    A business dispute between Arron Banks and Chris Kimber, a former business partner in his South African mining operations, has kept Brexit-watchers gasping in recent weeks.

    Documents unearthed by Channel 4 have laid bare explosive allegations against the British insurance entrepreneur. His nearly £9m donation to the Brexit campaign is the largest in British politics, and is currently being probed by the UK Electoral Commission to establish whether Mr Banks was the true source of funds – including a £6m loan – to his Leave.EU campaign group.

    Allegations by Mr Kimber, which Mr Banks “fully disputes”, include that he sought investment for his mines from a Russian state-owned company, that he redirected money raised for the mines to the Brexit campaign, and offered “mercenary support” for an African politician, if needed, according to Channel 4.

    The allegations came to light in affidavits following a civil lawsuit filed by one of Mr Banks’ diamond companies against a partner firm controlled by Mr Kimber over alleged debts owed following failed diamond sale transactions. A further statement was handed to South African police, Channel 4 reported.

    Mr Banks, who bought his former business partner out of their venture in June 2016, said Mr Kimber was “hardly a reliable witness” and he rejected as “ludicrous” the allegations broadcast by Channel 4.

    Nonetheless, Mr Banks’ attempts to raise millions of dollars for his South African mines lay bare additional details beyond the eye-catching claims published by Channel 4. The documents filed in court, obtained by the FT, lead to further questions about the structure and flows of cash between his interlocking companies, some of which link his political and business interests….

    “Mr Banks told the FT that his donations to Leave.EU had come from his ‘personal finances’, into which ‘nobody has any insight’.” Because “The source of my large political donation is totally opaque” is a great position to take while you’re under investigation.

  132. says

    This said, there are some dangerous developments that need to be reported:

    “Bosnian Serb PM Meets Trump’s ‘Alt-Right’ Former Strategist”:

    Steve Bannon…hosted the nationalist prime minister of Bosnia’s mainly Serb entity at his Washington home on Sunday, the Republika Srpska government said in a statement.

    The government said Bannon and Zeljka Cvijanovic discussed relations between the United States and Republika Srpska, one of two entities that make up Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    The Bosnian Serb leadership has made a point of courting right-wing populists; President Milorad Dodik, a party ally of Cvijanovic, has met on several occasions with members of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally and with the leader of the Austrian far-right Freedom Party, Heinz Christian Strache, who has backed Dodik’s aim of independence for Republika Srpska.

    Dodik, who counts Russia as his chief big-power ally, has long been at odds with the US and the European Union, which accuse him of trying to break apart Bosnia.

    News of the meeting caused a stir in Bosnian media, which faces an election in October; those close to the Republika Srpska government stressed Bannon’s role in getting Trump elected, while others warned it was the harbinger of a ruthless campaign.

    Speaking to the Republika Srpska public broadcaster, RTRS, after meeting Cvijanovic, Bannon said The Movement was designed to be a “counterweight” to liberal billionaire philanthropist George Soros, vilified by right-wing nationalists in Europe….

    Here’s a thread by Jasmin Mujanović expressing deep concern over these actions:

    We have been warning US & EU policymakers for better part of 3 yrs, going on 4, that the political climate in BiH is rapidly deteriorating & that this process is being increasingly sponsored by foreign reactionaries. We never expected ex-WH officials to aid & abet tho. Shocking.

    Bannon, recently high-ranking official in Trump campaign & WH, is now hinting at his role in assaulting already fragile Dayton Peace Accords in BiH, on a station which serves as the primary mouthpiece of the Russian backed, secessionist, genocide denying Dodik govt.

    And I remind you again, Dodik himself is *still* sanctioned by the US Treasury Dept for his attacks on the Dayton Accords. And Bannon is only the latest Trump associate cavorting w Serb nationalist extremists in BiH, wider Balkans. See @cjcmichel in June: [link]

    Difficult to overstate how dangerous Milorad Dodik is not just for BiH but for the region. He is the most extremist figure to emerge in the Balkans since Radovan Karadzic, the key architect of the Bosnian Genocide, a man he openly celebrates. This is who Bannon is promoting.

    I was already extremely worried about Oct elxns in BiH, have communicated as much to numerous EU & US officials. Bannon’s overt & now prolonged engagement w BiH is a disastrous development. He is directly undermining BiH’s stability & key US diplomatic touchstone: Dayton Accords.

    I literally just touched down from a month in the Balkans, much of it in Sarajevo. I spoke w dozens of leading local experts, analysts, politicians, ambassadors etc. Uniformly alarmed discussions. I said as much to @N1infoSA. This is still worse turn.

  133. blf says

    The hottest rain on record:

    As the world waits to see if a new European temperature record will be set in Spain or Portugal on Saturday, another was broken in the US state of California.

    Imperial, in the south of the western state, recorded the highest temperature at which rain has ever fallen anywhere in the world — 48.3 degrees Celsius.

    Some relatives of mine lived in(? near?) Imperial. Whilst I have no precise memories of the place, I do have a (very vague!) impression it was always unbearably hot. This was last century.

    It was just another in a long list of temperature records that have been smashed this year on four continents.

    Africa recorded its highest-ever reliably measured temperature on July 5, when Ouargla, Algeria topped 51.3C.

    n Asia, Japan, North and South Korea all saw new records. Japan’s heat set a record on July 23, when Kumagaya reported a maximum of 41.1C. Meanwhile, Pyongyang and Seoul both broke their previous maximum temperatures on August 1 when they reported 37.8C and 39.4C, respectively.

    In Europe, Finland reported its average temperature was the highest ever in July, and across many parts of Scandinavia’s Arctic Circle temperatures above 32C set new records.

    Wow! Locally — and keep in mind I am in Southern France, not renown for being cool — its been c.33C. The Arctic Circle is about the same — wow, just wow ! (I’m literally on the Mediterranean Coast; inland, it’s been even hotter.)

    Meanwhile, in North America temperatures peaked on July 2 in Montreal with a new record of 36.6C, causing at least 70 heat-related deaths across the province of Quebec.

    Yikes! That is seriously hot. I do not have any idea how many heat-related deaths there have been locally, or in France or “Europe” as a whole.

    Now, the new record of hot rain has been set in California.


    Previously the record had been 46C, held by Needles in California from August 2012, closely followed by 43C measured in both Mecca, Saudi Arabia in June 2012 and in Marrakech, Morocco in July 2010.

    Apropos of nothing, last century my family sometimes vacationed in the Needles area. I sort-of remember it being hot, but my memories are vague.

    Despite all the weather records that have been set in the last few weeks, more records are expected to be set as the summer continues across the northern hemisphere.

    So, of course, traitor don and teh dalekocracy does something stoopid, California vows to ‘fight this stupidity’ as EPA moves to scrap clean car rules:

    Governor Jerry Brown calls administration’s proposal to weaken Obama-era emissions rules ‘reckless’ and a ‘betrayal’

    The Trump administration has moved to weaken US vehicle emissions standards and has set up a major confrontation with California by scrapping its ability to enact stricter pollution standards and mandate the sale of electric cars.

    In one of its most significant efforts yet to curtail policies designed to address climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed freezing fuel efficiency standards at 2020 levels, removing the requirement that cars and light trucks be able to travel more than 46 miles per gallon of fuel by 2026. The 2020 standard would be around 32 miles per gallon.

    As a point of reference, last century I drove a (petrol / gasoline) car with approximately the 2020 States intended standard. This was in Europe. Prior to that, I drove a (diesel) car in the States with almost the proposed 2016 standard.

    I no longer drive a car at all.

    The reversal of an Obama-era deal with automakers in 2012 will also withdraw a waiver California has under the Clean Air Act to exceed the national standards by requiring even more efficient cars. A dozen other states and Washington DC also follow higher standards.

    The EPA said it wants a 50-state fuel economy system and has claimed the reversal will have negligible environmental impacts on air quality and even result in thousands fewer deaths on the roads each year. The administration’s assertion that lighter, more fuel efficient cars are more dangerous has been disputed by transport experts.

    You can also get “50-state fuel economy” system by adopting California’s standards. The dalekocracy’s proposal is simply an attempt to implement mass murder by emissions (presumably cheaper than than using gas chambers).

    The rollback has provoked outcry from environmental and health groups, as well as states who are pushing for cleaner vehicle fleets. States that have followed California’s emissions standard immediately said they will sue the EPA should the new rule be finalized.

    “The administration’s proposal to weaken these rules will cause the American people to breathe dirtier air and pay higher prices at the pump,” said a joint statement from attorneys general from the states, including New York, Virginia and North Carolina. “We are prepared to go to court to put the brakes on this reckless and illegal plan.”

    California’s response has been stinging. Xavier Becerra, the state’s attorney general, said the Trump administration had “launched a brazen attack” on California which he would fight in the courts.


    Gina McCarthy, the EPA administrator under Obama, said the reversal of these standards “run contrary to sound science and the law”.

    While many carmakers have touted their development of more efficient cars, including electric vehicles, auto lobbyists were quick to get assurances from the Trump administration that the more stringent rules would be dismantled.

    The Union of Concerned Scientists [UCS] said the rollback is “completely unacceptable”. Its analysis shows the Trump administration’s new regime for vehicles would result in an additional 120m tons of carbon emissions by 2030 — the equivalent of running 30 coal-fired power plants for a year.

    “It’s an attack on the climate, consumers, state governments and the future viability of America’s auto industry,” said Ken Kimmell, president of UCS. “The Trump administration has decided to force America’s drivers to spend more at the gas pump, burn millions more barrels of oil, and put us on a path to greater harm from climate change.

    “The administration’s proposal goes beyond a simple rollback. This is a demolition, and there’s no scientific or technological justification for it.”


    Disclaimer: When I lived in the States, I was a UCS supporter. I was then, and still am now, a Greenpeace supporter. In both cases, this includes regular financial contributions.

  134. says

    More pro-Christians-only stupidity from Jeff Sessions:

    […] a new “religious liberty” task force launched by Attorney General Jeff Sessions […] didn’t generate much attention, but is likely to have a significant real-world impact.

    NBC News reported:

    The task force will implement and enforce legal guidance the DOJ had previously provided regarding how to best apply religious liberty protections in federal law […]

    Citing 20 points of guidance his department had released in October (which were put together after Trump issued an executive order in May 2017 ordering the federal government to protect religious liberty), Sessions said his task force would “ensure all Justice Department components are upholding that guidance in the cases they bring and defend, the arguments they make in court, the policies and regulations they adopt, and how we conduct our operations.”

    In a memo released Monday, Sessions said the task force would “facilitate department compliance” with the guidance and “develop new strategies involving litigation, policy and legislation, to protect and promote religious liberty.”

    […] Or put another way, the attorney general is mandating that the Justice Department “protect” religious freedom by siding with businesses that choose to discriminate against LGBT clients, supporting employers who want to deny contraception access to their employees, and shielding pastors who ignore federal tax law by endorsing political candidates from the pulpit.

    […] “Let us be frank: a dangerous movement, undetected by many, is now challenging and eroding our great tradition of religious freedom,” the attorney general argued. “There can be no doubt. This is no little matter. It must be confronted and defeated.”

    Sessions added, “In recent years, the cultural climate in this country – and in the West more generally – has become less hospitable to people of faith. Many Americans have felt that their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack…. Americans from a wide variety of backgrounds are concerned about what this changing cultural climate means for the future of religious liberty in this country. President Trump heard this concern. I believe this unease is one reason that he was elected. In substance, he said he respected people of faith and he promised to protect them in the free exercise of their faith. He declared we would say ‘Merry Christmas’ again.” […]

    It was curious, to be charitable, to see the attorney general describe a frightening environment in which Christian conservatives are victims – a vision in which Americans needed Donald Trump, the secular, thrice-married, former casino owner, to rescue Christmas greetings – but strange rhetoric aside, the more alarming prospect is the legal impact Americans will experience once Sessions’ Justice Department begins implementing his “religious liberty guidance” in cases nationwide. […]


  135. says

    Many public figures are siding with LeBron James after Trump’s dumbass tweet insulting LeBron’s intelligence.

    President Donald Trump took a cheap shot at LeBron James in a tweet Friday night, causing Twitter to rush to the basketball superstar’s defense.

    In an interview on Monday with CNN anchor Don Lemon, James discussed the impact of sports and how it brings people together. He said he felt Trump was “using sports to kind of divide us.”

    Friday night — four days after the interview — Trump tweeted: “Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!” […]

    Michael Jordon didn’t want to be associated with Trump:

    NEW: Jordan sides with James over Trump tweet. NBA legend Michael Jordan tells NBC News through a spokesperson: “I support LJ. He’s doing an amazing job for his community.”

    More public responses:

    […] Condemnation directed at the president for slighting the basketball star was loud and came from a variety of critics.

    Former CIA Director John Brennan expressed disgust at Trump’s tweet, writing on Twitter early Saturday that no “right-thinking adult can point to @realDonaldTrump as a role model for our youth.” […]

    Another CNN anchor, Jake Tapper, cited survey data that shows the public doesn’t believe Trump is a good role model and that he has major leadership deficiencies.[…]

    In a Saturday morning tweet responding to Trump’s attack on James and Lemon, Tapper noted that Quinnipiac University poll from January found that 69 percent of respondents said Trump is not a good role model for children, while only 27 percent believe he is. In the same poll, 64 percent said Trump is not level-headed versus only 32 percent of the respondents saying he is.

    Amanda Carpenter, a conservative commentator for CNN, wasn’t happy with how Trump went after both James and Lemon, especially after what was discussed between the two African Americans in Monday’s interview. […]

    Jackie Calmes, the White House editor for the Los Angeles Times’ Washington bureau, wrote in a Saturday morning tweet that the man Trump “assailed last night as not smart just this week opened a school for at-risk kids in his hometown of Akron and promised college scholarships.”

    “The Trump Foundation might learn something from the LeBron James Family Foundation,” Calmes added. […]

    And Tommy Beer, an NBA analyst for several media outlets, used Trump’s tweet to compare the basketball star’s growth as a person to the president’s.

    “LeBron: Born poor. Homeless as a kid. Marries high school sweetheart. Become rich. Donates $41M to build a school,” Beer tweeted. “Donald: Born rich. Dad gives him millions. Files for bankruptcy. Divorced twice. Scandals! Sad! Fined $25M for defrauding students.” […]


    Both Don Lemon and LeBron James are persons of color. Trump often resorts to claiming that persons of color have “low IQ,” or he implies they have low intelligence. Trump made the same claim about U.S. Representative Maxine Waters. The low-intelligence smear is a racist comment that is, in effect, an announcement made with a trumpian bullhorn to Trump’s white supremacist followers.

  136. says

    “Trump at a precarious moment in his presidency: Privately brooding and publicly roaring”:

    In private, President Trump spent much of the past week brooding, like he often does. He has been anxious about the Russia investigation’s widening fallout, with his former campaign chairman now standing trial. And he has fretted that he is failing to accrue enough political credit for what he claims as triumphs.

    At rare moments of introspection for the famously self-centered president, Trump has also expressed to confidants lingering unease about how some in his orbit — including his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — are ensnared in the Russia probe, in his assessment simply because of their connection to him.

    Yet in public, Trump is a man roaring. The president, more than ever, is channeling his internal frustration and fear into a ravenous maw of grievance and invective. He is churning out false statements with greater frequency and attacking his perceived enemies with intensifying fury….

    This is the new, uneasy reality for Trump at an especially precarious moment of his presidency, with the Republican Party struggling to keep control of Congress, where a Democratic takeover brings with it the specter of impeachment, and special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s grip seeming to tighten on the president and his circle.

    This portrait of Trump behind the scenes is based on interviews with 14 administration officials, presidential friends and outside advisers to the White House, many of whom spoke only on the condition of anonymity to share candid assessments.

    Trump’s lawyers say it is the president himself who is calling the shots in what is becoming an all-out public relations blitz to discredit Mueller.

    “With his great feel for public opinion and how to deal with it, he has a sense about what would work, what to say,” Giuliani said. “He sort of determines the public strategy, and we get his approval and input for the legal strategy.”

    Trump has told some associates that Giuliani has convinced him Mueller has nothing incriminating about him. “Rudy’s told him the other player is bluffing with a pair of 2’s,” said one Trump adviser. And Trump has latched onto Giuliani’s talking point that “collusion is not a crime,” believing it is catchy and brilliantly simplistic, according to people with knowledge of internal talks.

    Still, Trump has confided to friends and advisers that he is worried the Mueller probe could destroy the lives of what he calls “innocent and decent people” — namely Trump Jr., who is under scrutiny by Mueller for his role organizing a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with Russians promising dirt on Hillary Clinton. As one adviser described the president’s thinking, he does not believe his son purposefully broke the law, but is fearful nonetheless that Trump Jr. inadvertently may have wandered into legal jeopardy.

    Trump also has seethed privately about the trial of Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman….

    Three comments: First, the difference between a sharp, skeptical piece like this and the credulous ones we see so often appears to be Ashley Parker. Second, Trump is hinting at throwing his child under the bus, which should surprise no one. Third, his comments about Mueller having nothing on him are wildly incriminating.

  137. says

    Some good news from the courts:

    A U.S. District Court judge on Friday issued a ruling invalidating a Federal Election Commission regulation that has allowed donors to so-called dark-money groups to remain anonymous, the latest development in a years-long legal battle that could have major implications for campaign finance.

    Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled the FEC’s current regulation of such groups, including 501(c) 4 non-profits, fails to uphold the standard Congress intended when it required the disclosure of politically related spending.

    “The challenged regulation facilitates such financial ‘routing,’ blatantly undercuts the congressional goal of fully disclosing the sources of money flowing into federal political campaigns, and thereby suppresses the benefits intended to accrue from disclosure … ,” wrote Howell, an Obama appointee to the D.C district court. The decision is likely to be appealed.

    The decision paves the way for new requirements that could force nonprofits to disclose donors who give least $200 toward influencing federal elections. (Social-welfare nonprofits such as Crossroads GPS are allowed to spend money on elections so long as it’s not their “major purpose.”)


    Still lots of loopholes that allow too much dark money into politics, but this is a win:

    “This ruling looks like a major game changer,” Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. “Based on this ruling , the public should know a whole lot more about who is giving money for the purpose of influencing an election, and it will be much harder for donors to anonymously contribute to groups that advertise in elections.”

  138. says

    What? Hope Hicks, I thought you wisely put some distance between you and Trump.

    Former White House communications director Hope Hicks was seen boarding Air Force One on Saturday.

    A White House pool report stated that Hicks was among those who boarded the plane in Morristown Municipal Airport in New Jersey, to travel with President Trump for Saturday evening’s campaign rally in Ohio.

    It’s unclear why Hicks was on the plane, or if she was meeting with the president. […]


    As an aside, I really don’t want to watch another Trump rally.

  139. says

    Weirdness. Maximum weirdness.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry said Saturday that it has appointed American actor Steven Seagal as a “special representative” for Russian-American humanitarian relations.

    “The task is to promote the further development of Russian-American relations in the humanitarian sphere, including interaction in the field of culture, art, public and youth exchanges and more,” the ministry said on its official Facebook page, according to a CNN translation of the post. […]

    Seagal became a Russian citizen in 2016. He is reportedly close with Russian President Vladimir Putin and attended his swearing-in ceremony in May.

    Ukraine banned Seagal from the country last year, deeming him a national security threat.

    The actor has recently faced accusations of rape and sexual assault. He has denied the allegations.

    The Los Angeles Police Department reportedly opened an investigation into Seagal over the sexual assault allegations earlier this year.


  140. says

    White Supremacists In Stupid Outfits Descend On Portland, For Whatever Reason.

    […] according to Patriot Prayer leader Joe Gibson, who is running for Senate in Washington. “I refuse to do what Portland wants me to do because what Portland wants me to do is to shut up and never show up again,” he said in a video on Facebook this week. So basically he is protesting the fact that he is unpopular and no one wants to listen to him? What does he think is going to come of this? The people of Portland will realize the error of their ways and elect him Prom King? That seems unlikely!

    So now they’re there, in stupid outfits, carrying Confederate flag bedecked shields and definitely not being white supremacists. […]

    Patriot Prayer strongman Tiny’s shirt reads “Pinochet did nothing wrong.” […]

    This is related to SC’s link in comment 200. At least one of those guys can move his hips.

  141. says

    TRUMP: ‘You go to the best schools. You do a tremendous job. You own companies. You work for tremendous salaries. You are talented… Then you hear, ‘the elite has just said.’ The elite? More elite than me? I am better at everything than they have, including this’.”

    It still amuses me to no end that Trump and Bannon are constitutionally incapable of following the fake-populist, anti-elite script. Trump has spent his entire life pathetically and unsuccessfully trying to be accepted by and win the approval of the elite,and there’s no way he’s going to speak about it as though he’s not part of it or more elite than the elite. It’s sad but also funny.

  142. F.O. says

    @Akira MacKenzie #182
    Been surviving with chronic depression for more than 20 years now, and bit by bit I managed to steer my life in a decent direction.
    It’s difficult but it’s doable and, in hindsight, totally worth it.
    I’m happy to help if I can. How can I contact you?

  143. says

    Danny O’Connor:

    Troy Balderson and his special interest groups just got FOUR PINOCCHIOS for their BLATANTLY FALSE ads.

    Voters know the difference – a vote for Danny on August 7th is a vote to protect Medicare and Social Security.

    O’Connor is the Democratic candidate in the OH-12 special election on Tuesday. The Republican, Balderson, is actually claiming – and did so from the stage at Trump’s rally yesterday – that he will protect Medicare and Social Security from the Democrats. I mean, the Republicans have always lied, but we’re now at the point where lies are all they have and they’re just spitting in voters’ faces by claiming the opposite of reality. It’s a new low in their attack on democracy.

  144. says

    Pres. Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow on previously denying that the president was involved in putting out a statement on the Trump Tower meeting: ‘I had bad information at that time and made a mistake in my statement … over time facts develop’.”

    Trump’s tweet this morning: “Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!”

    Nest of lousy liars.

  145. says

    The only regime I’ve seen with a social media propaganda apparatus that even approaches Putin’s is Erdoğan’s. Today his regime, I assume in response to the sanctions @ #79 above, has a pitiful Twitter blitz (Twitz?). This one…might not be conveying quite the right tone.

  146. says

    Ben Rhodes: “I worked on the Obama campaign and we would never, ever, have held a meeting with a foreign power to ‘get information on an opponent’. It doesn’t happen ‘all the time in politics’ – it’s immoral, unpatriotic and part of a broader effort that was illegal.”

  147. says

    Follow-up to comments 216 and 217.

    Speaking of Jay Sekulow, here’s another stupid and offensive thing that con artist/lawyer talked about: he compared the FBI investigating Michael Flynn to the FBI investigating Martin Luther King Jr.

    […] On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, host George Stephanopoulous asked Sekulow about the recent reports that Trump knew Michael Flynn was under investigation as he pushed then-FBI director James Comey to go easy on him. Sekulow responded with a bizarre analogy, comparing Flynn — who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI — with Martin Luther King Jr.

    “Are you suggesting it wouldn’t be a problem if the president pressured James Comey to let the criminal investigation go, after knowing that Michael Flynn was under criminal investigation?” Stephanopoulos asked.

    “There was [sic] investigations going on on Martin Luther King Jr.,” Sekulow responded. “Do you think if President Kennedy had gone to J. Edgar Hoover and said, ‘Hey, stop that,’ that that would have been an obstruction of justice claim? Of course not!” […]


    All the best people. All the best lawyers.

  148. says

    Trump and the fires in California, an update:

    Wildfires continue to decimate large sections of California, prompting the Trump administration to declare it a ‘major disaster’ on Sunday, a move that will open up federal funding and other aid to people displaced by the disaster.

    At least eight people have died as firefighters battle 17 major fires burning throughout the state, one of which has shuttered Yosemite National Park according to CBS.

    The disaster declaration by the White House was made after one wildfire, known as the Carr Fire, tore through Shasta County in northern California. It reportedly has forced over 40,000 people to evacuate, and killed one person, a Pacific Gas and Electric worker.

    But even as the White House has taken action, Trump has himself has been silent on the devastation.

    Over the past few days, the president has tweeted about the media, the Mueller investigation, Don Lemon, Lebron James, Democrats, including Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Maxine Waters, tariffs, Iran, and the Ohio special election.

    And while he did mention “fire extinguishers,” it was intended to be another shot at the media, which he considers ‘enemies of the American people’ — not about the valiant efforts of firefighters in California.

    “The media are good news fire extinguishers!” […]

    The Trump administration has been hostile to climate science and seemingly indifferent to wildfire prevention efforts. […]


  149. says

    [Disclaimer: I’m a bit drunk. Lovely day.]

    #BREAKING Saudi recalls envoy in Canada, expels Canadian envoy over ‘interference’.”

    In the interview @ #108, Bill Browder says that when he was first talking to governments about the Magnitsky Act and saying “The US passed it,” they were like “Well, the US acts unilaterally and isn’t really a lead we want to follow,” but when he said Canada had passed it everyone was like “Oh, Canada, we’ll consider that.”

    Don’t pick a fight with Canada, MBS.

  150. blf says

    Follow-up to @266/405/408(previous page), Farcebork, Apple, and Spotify have all banned Inforwars, Facebook, Apple and Spotify ban Infowars’ Alex Jones (the title is slightly misleading):

    Facebook has banned four pages run by the American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for “repeated violations of community standards”, the company said on Monday.

    The removal of the pages — the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the Infowars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page — comes after Facebook imposed a 30-day ban on Jones personally “for his role in posting violating content to these pages”.

    I’m not entirely clear if those four pages contain the entirety of “Infowars”, but they do seem to be much of the vomit pool.

    Following that suspension, a Facebook spokesperson said: “More content from the same pages has been reported to us — upon review, we have taken it down for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanising language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies.”

    The spokesperson noted that, despite the focus on Jones’s role in spreading conspiracy theories around events such as the 9/11 attacks and Sandy Hook school shooting, “none of the violations that spurred today’s removals were related to this”.

    Facebook’s enforcement action against Jones came just hours after Apple removed Jones from its podcast directory. The timing of Facebook’s announcement was unusual, with the company confirming the ban at 3am local time.


    Jones […] is the host of the daily Alex Jones Show podcast and his platform Infowars produces another five podcasts.

    All of those shows were removed from Apple Podcasts save for one, Real News with David Knight, which at present is still on the platform.


    Spotify also took action against Jones on Monday, removing every episode of his podcast The Alex Jones Show from its platform. The music streaming service had previously removed specific episodes of the show, but left the bulk of the archive up, before tightening its enforcement. Spotify has still left three other Infowars podcasts live on the service, however.

    Facebook suspended Jones’s personal profile from the site for 30 days in late July for what the company said was bullying and hate speech. But he continued to regularly appear on Facebook after the suspension, appearing in livestreams hosted by other accounts and even making first-person posts to his personal page by publishing them using the accounts of other administrators in Infowars.


    Farcebork continues to insist they are not in the business of policing media they host but do not recommend, Op-ed: Alex Jones is a crackpot — but banning him from Facebook might be a bad idea (Updated):

    Facebook has resisted becoming the Internet’s fake news police.
    “We don’t remove false news from Facebook, but instead significantly reduce its distribution by showing it lower in the News Feed,” Facebook says in its content guidelines.


    “All of these social media platforms will make all these speeches and press releases that they’re really committed to ending disinformation on their platform, but they’re not really,” said Alice Marwick, a communications professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “If they are committed to disinformation, they do have to kick Alex Jones.”

    Yet she wasn’t entirely comfortable with that approach. “Do they want to be the arbitrators of truth?” she asked. “We probably don’t want that.”

    Booting someone like Jones from Facebook or YouTube altogether could easily turn him into a martyr among his paranoid fans. And policing content for factual accuracy could suck platforms into endless controversies over hot-button political issues. So as unsatisfying as Facebook’s approach is, it might be the best of some bad options.


    “We see pages on both the left and the right pumping out what they consider opinion or analysis — but others call fake news,” [Farcebork] tweeted. “We believe banning these pages would be contrary to the basic principles of free speech.”


    It’s helpful here to think of Facebook as being two separate products: a hosting product and a recommendation product (the Newsfeed). Facebook’s basic approach is to apply different strategies for these different products.

    For hosting content, Facebook takes an inclusive approach, only taking down content that violates a set of clearly defined policies on issues like harassment and privacy.

    I seriously doubt the policies are clearly defined. Or are applied with anything approaching uniformity, consistency, or with transparency.

    With the Newsfeed, by contrast, Facebook takes a more hands-on approach, downranking content it regards as low quality.

    How Farcebork determines “quality” is, very probably, another area which lacks clarity, uniformity, consistency, and transparency.

    This makes sense because the Newsfeed is fundamentally an editorial product. Facebook has an algorithm that decides which content people see first, using a wide variety of criteria. There’s no reason why journalistic quality, as judged by Facebook, shouldn’t be one of those criteria.

    Under Facebook’s approach, publications with a long record of producing high-quality content can get bumped up toward the top of the news feed. Publications with a history of producing fake news can get bumped to the back of the line, where most Newsfeed users will never see it.

    [… Both Youtube and Farcebork] might want to invest more in building the capacity to distinguish high-quality and low-quality content. That should include hiring experienced editors to help decide how to judge content quality. At Facebook and YouTube’s scale it’s probably not feasible for a human being to look at every piece of content. But they can at least look at the ones that get the most attention, and they can provide feedback to the people writing automated algorithms about how to make the algorithms better.

  151. blf says

    In Ozland, Outcry over Sky News Australia interview with far-right extremist:

    Sky News has sparked outcry in Australia after it broadcast an interview with Blair Cottrell, a far-right extremist who has expressed his admiration for Hitler.

    […] Sky tweeted three videos of Cottrell arguing for immigration based on race, and live-tweeted his ideas.

    The leader of the United Patriots Front, a far-right nationalist group, has a criminal history which includes being found guilty last year of inciting contempt, revulsion or ridicule of Muslims. The bodybuilder and carpenter has also claimed to have manipulated women using violence and terror.

    The broadcast led a former Labor minister, Craig Emerson, to quit as a Sky commentator. “My father fought Nazis in WWII and was interred in a German POW camp,” he tweeted. The decision to put Cottrell on Sky News was “another step in a journey to normalising racism and bigotry in our country,” Emerson said.

    That’s rather rich coming from a politician whose country runs concentration camps in other countries (Manus Island and Nauru). I hasten to add, however, I have no idea of Mr Emerson’s own position on, or actions(or inactions) about, those facilities. His action here is honourable, and his protest valid, but it looses some of its power due to the ongoing behaviour of Ozland, regardless of which pestilence of politicians (political party(s)) is in power: The camps have been operating for c.18 years now (with a brief “suspension” in 2007 or so).

    What we lack in this country is national pride … that is necessary to galvanise the minds of the masses and to protect the people of this country against foreign ideologies, Cottrell said. If we can rebuild or reclaim our traditional identity as Australians then we may not need a Donald Trump, we may be able to fix the situation ourselves.

    He told Giles that Australia should accept only skilled migrants. He advocated taking all the white farmers from South Africa and stopping immigration from the rest of the world.

    As a reminder — this has been discussed previously in this series of poopyhead threads — this S.African white farmer thing is a current ongoing wingnut meme asserting said S.Africans are being disproportionately murdered(by, by implication, people who aren’t considered by the wingnuts to be “white”). There is no evidence of this, albeit the statistics are not entirely straightforward for a variety of reasons.

    Unsurprisingly, this nonsense has been pushed by Murdork’s Fox in Ozland, and also (apparently) in the States. Ozland’s nazi-in-government, Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, has bought into this conspiracy and suggests measures to rapidly facilitate emigration to Ozland by the allegedly-endangered S.African white farmers. It’s worth noting Dutton is also responsible for Manus Island and Nauru concentration camps.

    In 2015, Cottrell and two other members of the far-right group staged a mock beheading outside council offices in Bendigo, Victoria, to protest against the building of a mosque. They posted the video on Facebook.


    Sky has since attempted to stop digging, Sky News bans far-right extremist and suspends program that hosted him:

    Sky News Australia has announced The Adam Giles Show will be reviewed and placed “in recess” after it broadcast an interview with far-right extremist Blair Cottrell.

    The channel’s chief executive, Angelos Frangopoulos, also announced that Cottrell, who has previously said he wanted a portrait of Hitler in every school classroom, would “not be back on the channel” […]

    The channel’s political editor, David Speers, also delivered an on-air condemnation of the decision […] “I’d rather not have to talk about internal issues but this is one of those times when something has to be said,” he said. “We’re not the first channel to put Blair Cottrell to air … but that’s no excuse. He should never have been invited on the Adam Giles program last night and someone should have stopped that happening.

    “This isn’t about censorship, it’s about avoiding the deep offence and hurt it has caused to give a platform to a self-confessed Neo-Nazi … legitimising, normalising or mainstreaming these sorts of repugnant views is not OK.”


  152. says

    Oh, FFS.

    Trump tweeted:

    California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amount of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading!

    In other news, another Republican cozying up to Moscow, this time it is Rand Paul:

    […] Paul (R-Ky.) met with several Russian senators including Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s former envoy to Washington and a key player at the heart of the election meddling scandal that continues to rock relations between the United States and Russia.

    In a meeting at Russia’s upper house of parliament, Paul also invited Russian lawmakers to meet with U.S. Congress members, in Washington or elsewhere, Interfax news agency reported him as saying. “I think this is in­cred­ibly important,” Paul said after the high-profile sit-down. […]

    Paul was accompanied by Republican Don Huffines from the Texas Senate, and the president and chief executive of the libertarian Cato Institute, Peter Goettler. The group also planned to visit St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city and President Vladi­mir Putin’s hometown, Russian state-run media reported. […]

    Washington Post link

  153. says

    Tennessee is looking blue, blue, blue:

    Of the 26 county offices up for grabs, Democrats won all but five — and those were previously Republican commission seats. Before the election, Republicans held nine of the 10 most high-profile county offices, including mayor and sheriff. Now, they hold zero.

    How to describe the devastation of last night’s win for Republicans? It was a rout. A sweep. A wave that overwhelmed Republicans who had largely controlled the county — not counting the commission, which had a scant Democratic majority — since 2008.

  154. says

    Gerrymandering is an anti-democratic tactic that keeps popping back up like a weed. However, two of the most gerrymandered states took some steps to correct the situation recently. We don’t have a nationwide effort, but we do see some action at the state level.

    […] gerrymandering is not dead, and there is a very real risk that the Supreme Court will invigorate it if Judge Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to replace Justice Kennedy. For the moment, however, the GOP’s death grip on U.S. House redistricting is starting to crumble.

    How we got here.
    Every ten years, the states must redraw their legislative districts to comport with the most recent census. As a result, if one party dominates the election immediately proceeding a redistricting, that victory can have consequences that extend for years or even decades. The party that dominates in an redistricting year can draw maps that lock it into power for the next ten years — and is more likely than not to over-perform in the next election immediately proceeding a redistricting cycle.

    Which brings us to 2010, a Republican wave election year that allowed the GOP to draw rigidly gerrymandered maps in multiple swing states. Indeed, in 2012, the first election with the GOP’s new gerrymandered maps, Republicans won lopsided majorities in six key states’ congressional delegations, even though President Obama won the popular vote in each of these states — in some instances, not by close margins. […]

    See the link for an informative chart.

    More on action being taken at the state level:

    Though the Supreme Court of the United States is content to let Republican lawmakers rig congressional elections, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was not. Last January, the state supreme court held that the state’s existing maps violate the state constitution and ordered new maps drawn for the 2018 election. […]

    Then, in May, Ohio voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure that would make it harder for either party to recreate the kind of gerrymander Republicans enacted in 2010. The initiative creates a Rube Goldberg-like method of drawing Congressional districts that will be in effect in the 2021 redistricting cycle.

    […] on Tuesday, the Michigan Supreme Court voted 4-3 to reject a lawsuit seeking to remove a ballot initiative targeting gerrymandering in that state. […]

    Michigan voters will decide in November on a ballot initiative which would transfer power to draw legislative districts to an independent commission whose members “will be randomly selected from a pool of registered voters, and consist of four members who self-identify with each of the two major political parties, and five non-affiliated, independent members.”

    So that’s the good news for supporters of free and fair elections. Three of the most gerrymandered states in the country will likely have permanent safeguards against gerrymandering during the next redistricting cycle. The bad news is that these safeguards may not survive the single greatest threat to voting rights in the United States of America — the Supreme Court of the United States. […]

  155. says

    All the best people flocking together: Trump has endorsed Kris Kobach for governor of Kansas.

    Kris Kobach, a strong and early supporter of mine, is running for Governor of the Great State of Kansas. He is a fantastic guy who loves his State and our Country – he will be a GREAT Governor and has my full & total Endorsement! Strong on Crime, Border & Military. VOTE TUESDAY!


    Kobach, Kansas’s secretary of state, has gained a national profile for his hardline rhetoric on immigration and his efforts to pass voter identification laws nationwide.

    Yeah. And Kobach is known for authoring the “driving while brown” law in Arizona; for heading Trump’s conspiracy-theory-based commission on voter fraud; for illegally scrubbing names from Kansas voter roles; for being slapped down by the courts at least three times, etc.

  156. says

    Follow-up to comment 199.

    Former FBI Director James Comey praised NBA star LeBron James:

    Grateful to one of my heroes, @KingJames, for again showing what leadership, service, and class look like. #IPromise

  157. says

    Dying babies and no doctors: A look inside a Yemeni hospital.

    When Kenan was born four months premature, there were no doctors at al-Sadaqa Hospital to care for him. So his grandmothers tried to save him.

    They placed the infant in an incubator, but it was broken. They tried a second one. It wouldn’t heat up.

    It had been 24 hours since a doctor had last visited the hospital. A day earlier, a physician was beaten up during an argument with the militiamen who were supposed to guard the hospital, and the doctors walked out in protest.

    Yemen’s civil war had already crippled the hospital, the largest civilian public hospital in southern Yemen. Now it was completely paralyzed, illustrating the fragility of a health system broken by war and utterly incapable of caring for the victims of what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. […]

    Kenan’s grandmothers scrambled to find a working incubator.

    “We brought him to the third one,” said Um Salah Hussein, one of his grandmothers, “and that’s where he died.”

    “There was no oxygen and there was no help,” chimed in Um Mohammed Zaid, his other grandmother, staring at the baby’s corpse, wrapped in a red cloth, still inside the incubator.

    The baby’s twin brother had died a day earlier. Now, Kenan’s mother, who had been asleep recuperating, awoke to learn her remaining son was gone. […]

    Thousands have already died from treatable diseases such as cholera, meningitis and diphtheria, and more than 3 million have fled their homes.

    One of the better funded public hospitals, al-Sadaqa attracted the poorest and most desperate patients. On any given day, the hospital received anywhere from 500 to 800 patients.

    But it labored under almost unimaginable difficulties. For the past three years, it was the fiefdom of the local militia that guarded it, one of the many armed groups seeking influence in Aden. The militiamen routinely harassed doctors and nurses, and allegedly looted equipment. The hospital was forced to hand out salaries of $15 a month per militiaman and could never fire them. “We either had to pay or someone would be killed,” said Jamal Abdul Hamid, the hospital administrator.

    Finally, the doctors had had it. Now, with most of its 70 plus doctors and medical trainees on strike, the facility had stopped accepting new arrivals. That potentially jeopardized the lives of thousands of patients who could not afford a private hospital. […]

  158. blf says

    All the times Rudy Giuliani appeared not to think before he spoke (video): “Donald Trump’s lawyer […] Rudolph Giuliani, has made several gaffes while serving his client, ranging from spilling the beans on how Michael Cohen bought Stormy Daniels’s silence to confusing tales about the alleged meeting with Russian operatives in Trump Tower. So far, Giuliani has managed to keep his job. But how much longer will the president tolerate the slip-ups?”

    (I have not actually watched the video, which is about 3½ minutes.)

  159. blf says

    Trump moving to strip Palestinians of refugee status (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    US president’s [sic] move to cut UN agency aid part of scheme to deny refugee rights to Palestinians, Foreign Policy reports.

    US President [sic] Donald Trump and his administration are making moves to strip millions of Palestinians of their refugee status, according to a US-based magazine report.

    As part of the initiative, the Republican president along with his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, have been trying to disrupt the UN agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, Foreign Policy (FP) magazine revealed in an article published on Friday.

    In a controversial move in January, the US government announced that it was withholding $65m of a planned $125m funding instalment to the relief agency, after Trump accused the Palestinians of being ungrateful for the millions of dollars in aid.

    Prior to the announcement, Kushner, in a leaked email obtained by FP, wrote: It is important to have an honest and sincere effort to disrupt UNRWA.

    This {agency} perpetuates a status quo, is corrupt, inefficient and doesn’t help peace, he reportedly wrote in an email dated January 11 and addressed to several senior US officials.

    Palestinian officials told FP that Kushner […] allegedly pressed Jordan to strip more than two million Palestinians of their refugee status, so the UNRWA would no longer have to operate there.


    The report also mentioned two bills in the US Congress that try to redirect more funding away from UNRWA, and significantly reduce the number of Palestinian refugees eligible for US aid.


    Pierre Krahenbuhl, UNRWA’s commissioner-general, has said that the cuts made by the Trump administration are endangering basic services, including food assistance in the besieged Gaza Strip, as well as medical clinics and education services to about half a million children.


    “We cannot really depend on this US administration, not have any credibility of the statements that come out of it.” [it’s not entirely clear, but this is probably Nabil Sha’ath, senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, being quoted –blf]


    Commenting on the Kushner-led US efforts in the region, Sha’ath said: […] “There is simply a total support of the right-wing government of Israel, the Zionist plan for settlements and the total destruction of the peace process that was signed in the US in 1993” […]

    “Really, it will lead to nothing but greater disruption of this part of the world rather than seeking any solution.”

  160. says

    blf @238, so much for Trump’s claim that Kushner would broker peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis. More bull pucky from team Trump.

    In other news, the courts slap down team Trump again:

    A few months ago, a federal court ruled that the Trump administration’s attempt to rescind the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program for Dreamers was “arbitrary and capricious.” Judge John D. Bates offered Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen an opportunity to either provide “a coherent explanation” of the administration’s legal position or to reissue its directive “for bona fide policy reasons.”

    That didn’t go well.

    A U.S. District Court judge in the District of Columbia ruled Friday that the Obama-era program offering temporary protected status to a cohort of immigrants brought here illegally as children must remain in place despite efforts by the Trump administration to dismantle it.

    ” … The Nielsen Memo offers nothing even remotely approaching a considered legal assessment that this Court could subject to judicial review,” Bates wrote. He added, later, “The Nielsen Memo demonstrates no true cognizance of the serious reliance interests at issue here — indeed, it does not even identify what those interests are … “

    The full ruling, which is online here, is worth reading, if only to appreciate how thoroughly annoyed the federal district court judge seems with the DHS attorneys.

    Its conclusion, for example, seemed especially brutal. “The Court did not hold in its prior opinion, and it does not hold today, that DHS lacks the statutory or constitutional authority to rescind the DACA program. Rather, the Court simply holds that if DHS wishes to rescind the program — or to take any other action, for that matter — it must give a rational explanation for its decision…. A conclusory assertion that a prior policy is illegal, accompanied by a hodgepodge of illogical or post hoc policy assertions, simply will not do.” […]


  161. says

    Follow-up to the first part of comment 230.

    Analysis and commentary from Hunter:

    As someone who is looking at the smoke pillars from one of those fires outside my window, I can assure you that this [Trump’s tweet, see comment 230] doesn’t make any more sense than you think it might. California wildfires have been made worse by viciously hot weather and by dry conditions that are arriving and persisting long past what would have been considered normal a few decades ago. […]

    California timberlands have been severely damaged by drought and resulting catastrophic insect infestations. Firefighters have been noting, with alarm, that fires that previously would have burned themselves out on their own are now instead maintaining their strength far longer. Rapid human expansion into previously rural areas is compounding the problem; there’s simply far more to protect than there was a few decades ago.

    Hunter also noted that the Trump administration cut firefighting capabilities by reducing funding by hundreds of millions of dollars. Trump is a wildfire threat.

    More from Hunter’s commentary:

    As for his two specific claims, they are not so much “wrong” as baffling. There is no “massive amount” of water in California to be diverted to the Pacific Ocean; that is the whole point. There are more claimants for water than there is water to be claimed. The Central Valley aquifer has been dropping precipitously due to farmland pumping; water battles between farmers and urban areas continue to worsen, and rationing is commonplace after any winter with a less-than-average snowpack.

    […] water diversion doesn’t have a damn thing to do with these wilderness fires. Does … does Donald think we irrigate our currently burning grasslands and forestlands? Does he imagine that we water each tree and mountain—or would, if only the water wasn’t being “diverted” to the ocean instead? Is he sincerely stupid enough to think so? It is possible, but for the record: the places water is “diverted” to consist of farmland and major California cities, not brush lands and forests. […]

    The nub of Donald’s claim is likely a barely literate attempt to weigh in on a long-running battle between California farmers and now-decimated California fisheries. A series of court decisions have ordered limits to just how much water can be taken from salmon spawning grounds and other key fish habitats during drought years, […] Because Donald is so stupid as to be barely functional and is almost entirely illiterate, he has somehow conflated these pitched Central Valley lobbyist battles with an imagined “massive amount” of invisible water that we apparently should be using to … water our mountain ranges and forests, if only environmentalists would let us.

    As for the reference to “tree clear”ing? The fires are not being caused by too many trees. The current Mendocino Complex fires did not start in forests at all, but spread rapidly through brush and oak-scattered grasslands before reaching anything that could be plausibly considered timberlands. […]

    But since “tree clear” is not an actual policy, we can’t judge just what the hell he may have meant. And we can rest assured that he will never follow up with anything more than an equivalently silly word-fart, because it has been proven over and over, on every subject of national concern, that he cannot.

    Indeed, he obliged us today.

    Governor Jerry Brown must allow the Free Flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the North and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Can be used for fires, farming and everything else. Think of California with plenty of Water – Nice! Fast Federal govt. approvals.

    All right, so now the ambiguity has been removed; he’s just an idiot. A moron. A dimwit. A pillar of oversized alphabet blocks wearing a suit and a too-long tie. He sincerely thinks that if we divert water “coming from the North”—where the major fires are currently burning—we can use them for “fires.” Perhaps by bottling it and shipping it back, tree by burning tree? […]

  162. says

    Follow-up to comments 230 and 240.

    […] Wildfire expert Prof. Eric Kennedy tweeted that Trump’s tweet was “comedically ill-informed” adding “it’s near impossible to overstate how ridiculous this comment is.”

    California climate and water expert Peter Gleick tweeted that Trump’s explanation was “gobbledygook bullshit” and “unmitigated crap.”

    In a tweet directed at the President, he explained that “California’s forests are burning because of past severe drought and current extreme temperatures and weather, worsened by human-caused climate change, which you think, in your fantasy world, doesn’t exist.”

    “On the water side, it boggles the mind,” as LeRoy Westerling, a leading expert on wildfires and climate change, told the San Francisco Chronicle. The UC Merced professor explained, “We do manage all of our rivers in California, and all the water is allocated many times over. So I’m not sure what he was recommending.”

    Westerling added, “Even if we eliminated all habitat for riparian species and fish, and allowed saltwater intrusion into the delta and set up a sprinkler system over the state, that wouldn’t compensate for greater moisture loss from climate change.”

    An alternate tweet for Trump was offered by Westerling: “Ongoing warming and accelerated climate change are driving unpredictable increases and extreme fire in California across a wide range of ecosystems.”

    Meanwhile John Upton, a journalist at Climate Central, tweeted, “Clearing forests is not a fire solution. Wildfires would be safer if overgrowth was removed. That’s most effectively done through controlled burns, which requires funding.” […]


  163. says

    Follow-up to comments 230, 240 and 241.

    We Asked a California Water Expert to Make Sense of Donald Trump’s Moronic Wildfire Tweets: It was a futile mission.

    […] Mother Jones: Is our water really being diverted into the ocean? And are our firefighters complaining that they don’t have enough water to tackle the wildfires in the north?

    Peter Gleick: That’s completely absurd! There is no environmental law that has put any limits whatsoever on the amount of water available to fight these fires. There’s no shortage of water to fight these fires. Of course, it’s always extremely difficult to understand what Donald Trump’s tweets mean or what he thinks he’s saying or what he knows. […]

    Both the President’s tweets reveal a profound misunderstanding of the way California water works. It’s not that we’re diverting water into the Pacific Ocean. The tiny amount of water that reaches the Pacific Ocean these days is what’s left after we’ve diverted the vast majority of our rivers to cities and farms. He just has this completely backward. And furthermore, there’s no water policy that would have made these fires worse. We don’t take water from the forest. The forest provides water to use, and water is allocated to farmers and to cities and a little bit to the fish. And what’s left is in the rivers. And it flows down to our ecosystems. There’s just nothing in his tweet that makes any sense, except maybe the very last line.

    MJ: “Must also tree clear to stop fire spreading.” What is he referring to there? […]

    PG: I imagine he’s throwing a bone to the lumber industry that would like to do more cutting. There isn’t any disagreement that California forest policy—and forest policy in the United States—shouldn’t be better. Everybody agrees it should be better. That’s been true for decades. Whether or not a different forest policy and timber policy put in place decades ago would have changed the risk of forest fire, we don’t really know. We do know we need to do a better job at managing forests. But I don’t think that is what he’s commenting on.

    He’s also completely ignoring the other reality, which is that years of severe drought have killed California forests and left a lot of fire material available. And climate change is causing extreme heat and extreme weather that is making these fires worse.

    MJ: Climate change is clearly not on the agenda for this administration.

    PG: That’s right. Every scientist in the world understands that climate change is real, and it’s making these kinds of extreme events worse. But either he’s unaware of that or he doesn’t care.

    MJ: Why does it benefit the president to present the issue in this way?

    PG: He’s clearly pandering to those in California who think that we could squeeze more water out of the system for their own usage, which is part of the debate we’ve been having in for 100 years. There’s nothing new about the fight over California water. But the president is weighing in, both in an ignorant fashion and in an extremely unhelpful fashion. It’s typical that he’s not only tweeting his ignorance about the way resource policy works, but he’s said nothing about the victims of these fires. It’s typical of his insensitivity.

  164. blf says

    In the UK, apparently a week or so ago, the daily heil printed a peice of absolute fiction as “news”, Daily Mail removes Powder Keg Paris report after complaints:

    Article claimed 300,000 illegal migrants were living in crime-ridden suburb of Saint-Denis

    The Daily Mail has removed a report from its website that described the French capital as Powder Keg Paris following accusations that its reporting contained inaccuracies and misrepresentations about the impact of migration on one suburb.

    The piece described a devastating report that suggested 300,000 illegal migrants were living in the suburb of Saint-Denis, north of Paris, where drug dealing, crime and poverty were rising due to the quite simple explanation of immigration on a mammoth scale.

    The article, by the journalist Andrew Malone, first appeared as a double-page story in the Daily Mail’s Saturday edition on 28 July. But it was removed online following criticism from the French activist Marwan Muhammad, a former director of the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, in a lengthy Twitter thread that raised more than a dozen issues with the piece.

    […] I’ve read your “devastating” article on “illegal migrants in Saint Denis”. We too in France have tabloïds who couldn’t care less about the truth, but I really have to say: you’re in a league of your own. Everything in your paper is wrong. A fact checking: […]

    In addition to criticising the overall depiction of Saint-Denis and disputing suggestions that it was a parallel state where no one would shake hands with an infidel reporter, Muhammad pointed out that it would be difficult for 300,000 illegal migrants to live there, given the official population is 110,000.


  165. blf says

    In South Carolina (SC), Fairfield losing another 126 jobs after TV-maker closes plant, citing Trump tariffs:

    Beleaguered Fairfield County is losing another 126 jobs after TV-maker Element Electronics announced on Monday it would close its Winnsboro plant in response to tariffs imposed by President [sic] Donald Trump.


    Element was one of the county’s largest remaining employers, two years after its largest grocery store, Wal-Mart, shuttered its doors.

    In a letter to the SC Department of Employment and Workforce […], Element wrote “the layoff and closure is a result of the new tariffs that were recently and unexpectedly imposed on many goods imported from China, including the key television components used in our assembly operations in Winnsboro.”


  166. says

    Update to #226 above – “Saudi Arabia appeared to threaten Canada with a 9/11-style attack in a feud over human rights”:

    Saudi Arabia’s state media on Monday tweeted a graphic appearing to show an Air Canada airliner heading toward the Toronto skyline in a way that recalled the September 11, 2001, terrorist hijackings of airliners that struck the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

    The graphic warned of “Sticking one’s nose where it doesn’t belong!” and included the text: “As the Arabic saying goes: ‘He who interferes with what doesn’t concern him finds what doesn’t please him.'”

    Last week, Global Affairs Canada tweeted that it was “gravely concerned” about a new wave of arrests in the kingdom targeting women’s rights activists and urged their immediate release. Saudi Arabia has expelled Canada’s ambassador and frozen all new trade and investment with Ottawa in response to the criticism.

    Fifteen of the 19 hijackers in the September 11 attacks were Saudi citizens. The organizer, Osama bin Laden, came from a prominent Saudi family and still has family there, including a son who the bin Ladens say is looking to “avenge” his father….

    (I still think these reports from June about Tom Barrack and “how the Republican platform for 2016 was altered to remove a call for the publication of 28 pages of allegedly incriminating documents from the 9/11 inquiry” are interesting.)

  167. says

    “State Department On Saudi Arabia-Canada Spat: We’re Staying Out”:

    The State Department made its first comments on the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Canada in a statement to HuffPost that signaled the U.S. will not take sides.

    “We are aware of Government of Saudi Arabia’s statement recalling the Saudi ambassador to Canada and expelling Canada’s ambassador,” a State Department official wrote in an email Monday afternoon. “Canada and Saudi Arabia are both close allies of the United States. I refer you to the Canadian and Saudi Ministries of Foreign Affairs for further information.”

    Saudi Arabia is not, in fact, a treaty ally of the U.S. ― though Canada, a member of NATO, is.

    “Canada will always stand up for the protection of human rights, including women’s rights and freedom of expression around the world,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a statement released shortly before the U.S. comments. “We will never hesitate to promote these values and we believe that this dialogue is critical to international diplomacy.”

    The mismatch between the strategies of the U.S. and its neighbor to the north suggests Washington has given the Saudis the green light to continue the quarrel, according to Roland Paris, a University of Ottawa professor and former adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

    “The Trump Administration does not care about human rights in Saudi Arabia or about Canada. Hence this non-answer,” Paris wrote on Twitter Monday. “The Saudis know what this means. They have an opportunity to strike back at critics (even mild critics) of their human rights record.”

    But rights groups and officials in some other countries are standing with Trudeau’s government. Lawmakers in the European Parliament are hoping to secure a statement of support from top European Union foreign policy official Federica Mogherini.

    Asked about the U.S. position on the jailed activists, the State Department official said America will “encourage” the Saudis to uphold international standards on human rights….

    One of the actions the Saudi regime is planning is to “relocate thousands of Saudi students studying [in Canada] on government scholarships.” JFC.

  168. says

    Daniel Dale:

    Trump lied in June that U.S. Steel was opening “six” plants. Then he made it “seven.” Last week, at a meeting with inner city pastors, he said, “United States Steel just announced another two plants. They’re up to eight.”

    It is restarting blast furnaces at one plant.

  169. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    From Lynna @234 (re Kansas’s Kris Kobuch), Il Douchebag sez:

    Strong on Crime, Border & Military.

    He’s going to build a wall and make Nebraska pay for it!

  170. says

    Susan Simpson: “Manafort’s defense — that it was Gates who planned and carried out the scheme, without Manafort’s knowledge — is going to be a lot stronger than I thought, if this keeps up. Judge Ellis is blocking some of the best evidence contradicting the defense’s claims.”

  171. quotetheunquote says

    RE: posts #226, #245, #246. As a person with a conscience and a brain (and just incidentally, a Canadian) It makes my heart glow just a little, to see the rise of this story in the media. To think that the house of Saud is mad at us … goody. I think that, if your government is NOT unpopular with the Saudis, then you need to elect a new government. (Too bad that the Tories here, AND the Libs after them, were so keen to sell them APCs – that was a source of shame for many of us here, and I am hoping that deals like this will be “off” as of now).

    Canada will not suffer much as a result of this -our economic ties with Saudi Arabia are relatively minor – but, ironically, a whole lot of Saudis will; those tens of thousands of students who will not be able to complete their studies at Canadian universities..

  172. says

    Update to #252: “Despite yesterday’s dust up, Gates’ testimony so far today suggests that Judge Ellis is not going to be as restrictive as his reported comments made it seem. The basic Ukraine story seems to be fair game, anyway, in a sanitized way.”

  173. blf says

    Farcebork in Ozland, a follow-up to @229, Facebook defends decision not to suspend Blair Cottrell over rape comments:

    The far-right extremist Blair Cottrell has posted on Facebook and Twitter about hypothetically raping staff members at Sky News following his weekend interview on the network, but the social media platforms have not disabled his accounts.


    Cottrell has a long history of being banned from both platforms, including a six-month ban from Facebook, but the platform has reviewed his recent post about rape and found it did not breach standards.

    Anyone would think I went on the air and spat in the face of the presenter then raped the entire staff on my way out, Cottrell said on his Facebook page, which has 18,000 followers.

    A Facebook spokesman said because the comment was not directed at a particular person, and did not incite rape, it did not breach standards.

    As quoted, that is perhaps technically correct, but the Anyone would think… is certainly not correct. An as per @229, “The bodybuilder and carpenter has also claimed to have manipulated women using violence and terror,” very very strongly suggests this kook does see sexual assault as valid or appropriate. That is, there are (hints of) a pattern here, which whilst careful phrasing may obfuscate, does suggest self-incitement at the least.

    His comment on Twitter on Tuesday morning was more direct and named Sky presenter Laura Jayes, who was the first Sky presenter […] to condemn him publicly.

    Twitter is reviewing the post but has not responded to a request for comment yet.

    Blair wrote: I might as well have raped @ljayes on the air, not only would she have been happier with that but the reaction would’ve been the same.

    As I said above, a pattern.

    This tweet was deleted but Cottrell later claimed it was deleted by Twitter rather than him. Twitter has not confirmed this.

    Very much a pattern: The kook sees sexual assault as appropriate.

    Jayes said the comment proved that Cottrell was not only a “fascist” but was also “dangerous”.

    Farcebork and twittering appear to lack her clear sight and understanding.

    Cottrell said he had been banned from Sky and other media platforms because he was too articulate.

    Taking the loon at his word here, why is there is any hesitation on farcebork or twittering’s part ?

    The above-excerpted article goes on to note, American Express pulls advertising from Sky News after far-right extremist interview: “Financial giant becomes first multinational to suspend commercials after Blair Cottrell appearance on The Adam Giles Show”.

  174. says

    Uh…: “Gates said that by March 2016, he was hired to work on a presidential election that Manafort was also working on. Gates did NOT name Trump. In this time, Manafort’s company was still not earning any money, according to Gates’ testimony.”

  175. says

    Update to #105 on the previous thread“Right-Wingers Call for Macedonia ‘Name’ Referendum Boycott”:

    A coalition of 28 small right-wing political parties, political factions, civic associations and NGOs are backing a campaign dubbed ‘Macedonia Boycotts’, whose aim is to foil September’s referendum on the historic ‘name’ agreement with Greece, which is key for Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic path.

    Janko Bacev, the president of the small United Macedonia party and head of the so-called crisis headquarters, which the right-wing groups formed on Sunday called the Social Democrats-led government illegal and described those who support the referendum as traitors.

    “A new and legal government which will come, will deal with all the national traitors,” Bacev warned on Sunday.

    “Let’s boycott the September 30 referendum and save Macedonia’s centuries-old name,” he urged.

    The referendum on September 30 will ask voters if they back Macedonia’s accession to NATO and the EU by accepting the name agreement with Greece that was signed in June.

    Under the deal, Macedonia agreed to change its name to Republic of North Macedonia, while Greece agreed to lift its veto on Macedonia’s NATO and EU integration.

    For the deal to be fully implemented, Macedonians must show they support it in a referendum.

    The small United Macedonia, which Becev leads, is the only openly pro-Russian party in the country, and has no MPs in parliament….

    Putin got caught trying to sabotage Greek efforts, so now he’s activating his little bands of murderous fascists in Macedonia.

  176. says

    What a Maroon @251, Ha! Thanks for that. Funny.

    Trump is incapable of tailoring his endorsements for the various Republican candidates for office. He just repeats some version of “Strong on Crime, Border & Military.”

  177. says

    Gates said that at the time that he worked on the presidential campaign that his salary was paid by savings and investments from Manafort.”

    Prokupecz also reports that “Prosecutors plan to call 20 additional witnesses. They plan to wrap their case by the end of the week.” He says they’ll question Gates for about another hour after they return from the lunch break. Cross-examination should be intense.

  178. Saad says

    Lynna, #260

    Trump is incapable of tailoring his endorsements for the various Republican candidates for office. He just repeats some version of “Strong on Crime, Border & Military.”

    Yeah, it’s quite pathetic.

    But when you think about what those three things mean to his deplorable base, it makes sense. Strong on crime (black people), strong on border (Mexican immigrants), strong on military (bombing brown-skinned people).

  179. says

    SC @250, It’s odd that Trump is never satisfied with his lies. He continues to modify them into even bigger lies. I wonder what layer of pathology that indicates.

    SC @248, team Trump is backing Saudi Arabia again … or at least not standing in the way when Saudi Arabia embarks on questionable courses of action. I still think there was more to Rex Tillerson’s departure than meets the eye, namely that he was ousted, in part, because he objected to the bullying of Qatar.

    I wonder how much Robert Mueller has on interactions between team Trump and Saudia Arabia. Kushner’s interactions alone would make for quite a story.

  180. blf says

    Here is an interesting observations and analysis on the seemingly-perplexing Saudi attempt to intimidate Canada, Putting the spat between Saudi Arabia and Canada in context:

    “Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists.”

    As tweets go, this expression of concern from Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland at the arrest of women activists in Saudi Arabia didn’t seem particularly offensive.

    [… T]he Saudis saw red. They accused Canada of blatant interference in the Kingdom’s domestic affairs, against basic international norms and all international protocols. Freeland’s tweet was a major, unacceptable affront to the Kingdom’s laws and judicial process, as well as a violation of the Kingdom’s sovereignty. That’s quite a charge sheet.

    The Saudis added, with an attempt at menace, that should the Canadians not cease and desist forthwith then any further step from the Canadian side in that direction will be considered as acknowledgment of our right to interfere in the Canadian domestic affairs. What, support the moribund separatist Parti Quebecois against the federal government? Call for an end to the Egg Marketing Board? Attack the relevance of the Canadian Football League?

    In their righteous fury, the Saudis recalled their ambassador, gave the Canadian ambassador 24 hours to get out and froze all new business and investment deals. It was, by any measure, an extraordinary response […]

    Saudi Arabia has also suspended at least some flights, posted a picture of a Sept 11-style attack on Toronto’s CN Tower, and ordered all its students to leave. (And possibly other things.)

    [… T]here is a Canadian connection to the story and that is Samar Badawi. She has long campaigned on behalf of her brother Raif, a blogger sentenced in 2014 to 10 years and 1000 lashes for apostasy and insulting Islam through electronic channels. After Raif Badawi’s arrest in 2012, his wife and Samar’s sister-in-law Ensaf Haidar fled to Canada with their three children. On July 1 of this year, Canada Day, they were granted Canadian citizenship.

    From her vantage point in Canada Ensaf Haidar has campaigned tirelessly and publicly for the release of her husband, a situation that without a doubt deeply annoys the Saudis. That may be one reason for their over the top response.

    Another may be the ongoing Canadian media scrutiny of a $15bn arms deal arranged under Canada’s former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The deal involves the sale of light armoured vehicles (LAVs) that may be used either against Saudi citizens in the restive Eastern Province or in the ongoing war in Yemen. In what was deemed a good faith gesture, Justin Trudeau’s incoming Liberal government decided to go ahead with the sale despite that concern. But the media criticism and attacks from human rights groups have not died down, if anything they have intensified.

    Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince and de facto ruler of the kingdom did not appreciate the extent to which the deal was harpooned in the Canadian press. The view from Riyadh was that the sale was a gesture of friendship and solidarity, a gift if you will that the Saudis chose to bestow on Canada when they could have gone elsewhere to purchase the hardware. And Canadian media was behaving most ungraciously in attacking it.

    Ah, the trouble a free press can cause! […]

    As reminder, it is also widely-thought an important “reason” behind Saudi Arabia’s boycott and threats against Qatar is due to Al Jazeera. Plus Qatar isn’t towing the Saudi line, and even talks to Iran. How ungracious! How demeaning!! Not friendly at all, and lacking solidarity with Saudi Arabia’s wishesorders!!!

    As with most other foreign affairs adventures conducted by Mohammed bin Salman, this latest one has all the hallmarks of a rash, impatient and arrogant young man. The war in Yemen was going to be over in a matter of weeks. It is now in its fourth year and the consequences for the Yemeni people have been utterly disastrous. The economic and diplomatic blockade of Qatar, launched by the Saudis and the Emiratis, would end with the Qataris’ quick capitulation and acceptance of a long list of demands. That one is now more than a year old and Qatar is proving resilient in defending its sovereignty (what’s this about a tweet from Canada violating the (Saudi) kingdom’s sovereignty?). And sitting down with Jared Kushner to cook up the Middle East peace deal of the century and trying to ram it down the throats of the Palestinians is another disaster waiting to happen.

    Picking on Canada, a country with a generally positive global image and doing so in language that is almost baroque in its claims while at the same time threatening to meddle in Canada’s domestic affairs unless the criticism stops is an odd thing to do when you are attempting to rebrand your country as moderate and open for business. But when you are a young man in a hurry with enormous power to wield, busy jailing anyone who dares to criticise with no one to gainsay you, then this is what happens.

    Compared with his other foreign fiascos, the attack on Canada is a mild, risible faux pas. But it is one that reinforces a growing consensus that Mohammed bin Salman is increasingly out of his depth, struggling at home to impose his grandiose transformation of the Saudi economy […], and on the international stage tripping over his feet and beginning to look the fool.

    [… W]ill Canada manage this diplomatic and economic war with Saudi Arabia? Well, Canadians are, after all, becoming adept at handling tyrannical bullying, dire economic threats and reality TV bluster from a source much closer to home. So my hunch is that the answer is yes.

    The Wall Street Journal points out Saudi Arabia is probably shooting itself multiple times, Saudi Arabia’s Spat With Canada Risks Backlash From Investors:

    Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic rupture with Canada risks complicating the kingdom’s efforts to woo foreign investors as it seeks to overhaul its economy.


    Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has launched a grand reform plan […] that aims to transform the kingdom from a staunchly conservative petrostate to a more socially liberal country less dependent on oil. But Prince Mohammed has also made it clear he won’t brook outside criticism of key decisions — a stance that analysts say could threaten capital flows that Saudi Arabia needs for its overhaul.

    “Branding Saudi Arabia as an attractive destination for investment and trade is one of the underlying assumptions […],” said Thomas Juneau, an assistant professor and Middle East expert at the University of Ottawa. “Impulsive foreign-policy decisions like this have the exact opposite effect.”


    The kingdom’s aggressive foreign-policy posture is now a significant concern, analysts said, because it reflects a sensitivity among top leaders that is likely to deepen uncertainty among investors.

    “There is a brashness that reflects quick reactions, rather than thoughtful deliberation,” said Karen Young, a political economist at the Washington-based Arab Gulf States Institute. “For businesses, these actions underline the risk of offending the ruling family and state on a number of issues where red lines and clear rules are absent.”

    Canada isn’t alone. Diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Germany have been strained since November, when Germany’s then-foreign minister criticized the kingdom for having pressured Lebanon’s prime minister to resign. After that, the Saudi government quietly ordered that no new contracts be awarded to German companies, according to people familiar with the matter.

    “Expelling an ambassador over criticism of human-rights issues is the worst thing you can do,” a Gulf-based diplomat said. “It confirms prejudices about Saudi Arabia that exist among businessmen in Europe, for instance […].”


    I have previously read that another factor is Saudi Arabia’s seriously depleted reserves. They used to have a mind-boggling amount of money, allowing the regime to “buy off” the citizens with a very generous cradle-to-grave social security system, including no VAT and few-to-none other taxes. As I recall, at current rates of expenditure, those funds will be exhausted not-that-many years from now; trying to fix this problem is one reason for the grandiose economic reform “plans”. (A 5% VAT was also introduced this year.)

    I have no idea how realistic those “plans” are — my suspicion is not very — and they are running out of time with little to show for it. Hence, PANIC! by the absolute feudal rulers, as a keystone of their rule — that very generous cradle-to-grave low-tax social security — is creaking towards a collapse.

  181. says

    Saad @262, yes, you’re right … unfortunately. Correct analysis:

    Strong on crime (black people), strong on border (Mexican immigrants), strong on military (bombing brown-skinned people).

    From Troy Balderson, the guy Trump endorsed in Ohio:

    […] Republican Troy Balderson hosted a rally last night and took an unexpected shot at part of the district he intends to represent. The NBC affiliate in Columbus reported overnight:

    […] “I gotta have 85%. Eighty-five percent from Muskingum County this time, not 80, but 85,” said Balderson. “My opponent is from Franklin County, and Franklin County has been challenging. We don’t want somebody from Franklin County representing us.”

    It was too late to be turned into a television ad, but the comments were captured on video, and it’s a safe bet the clip was aired on local news stations this morning.

    To contextualize the remarks, what we saw was the GOP candidate telling a rural audience not to elect someone from the Columbus suburbs.

    The 12th congressional district doesn’t include all of Franklin County, but it represents a slice that includes nearly a third of the district’s voting population. […]

    Why in the world would a candidate take a risk like this the night before voters head to the polls? There probably isn’t a good reason, but the fact remains that Balderson’s misstep is emblematic of a larger shift in Republican politics.

    The Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein noted last night that Balderson’s comments were “a revealing message for the Trump-era GOP.” Brownstein added, “The party is now consciously trading suburbs for small towns: the country club for the country. It’s the famous Kinsley gaffe of saying what you really mean: we don’t consider those voters who we are anymore.” […]


  182. blf says

    I still think there was more to Rex Tillerson’s departure than meets the eye, namely that he was ousted, in part, because he objected to the bullying of Qatar.

    As I previously excerpted, there was an astonishing report Saudi Arabia & UAE was about to invade Qatar, but Tillerson and Mattis managed to convince them that was a really really bad idea. However:

    Tillerson’s intervention reportedly enraged Mohammed bin Zayed […], with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and defacto ruler of the UAE, subsequently lobbying the White House for Tillerson’s removal.


    The Intercept said none of the current or former officials interviewed by The Intercept had direct insight into why Trump decided to fire Tillerson, but one source said that the timing — a week before the Saudi crown prince arrived in Washington for a much-publicised visit — was significant.

  183. says

    “New Poll: 43% of Republicans Want to Give Trump the Power to Shut Down Media”:

    Freedom of the press may be guaranteed in the Constitution. But a plurality of Republicans want to give President Trump the authority to close down certain news outlets, according to a new public opinion survey conducted by Ipsos and provided exclusively to The Daily Beast.

    The findings present a sobering picture for the fourth estate, with respondents showing diminished trust in the media and increased support for punitive measures against its members. They also illustrate the extent to which Trump’s anti-press drumbeat has shaped public opinion about the role the media plays in covering his administration.

    All told, 43 percent of self-identified Republicans said that they believed “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.” Only 36 percent disagreed with that statement. When asked if Trump should close down specific outlets, including CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, nearly a quarter of Republicans (23 percent) agreed and 49 percent disagreed.

    Republicans were far more likely to take a negative view of the media. Forty-eight percent of them said they believed “the news media is the enemy of the American people” (just 28 percent disagreed) while nearly four out of every five (79 percent) said that they believed “the mainstream media treats President Trump unfairly.”

    But swaths of self-identified Democrats and Independents supported anti-press positions as well….

  184. says

    Very good article – “The humiliating demise of Paul Ryan”:

    …Thus ended Paul Ryan’s fatal deception. He becomes in history what he always was in fact — the avatar of a fiscally-ruinous wealth transfer to America’s 1 percent. His legacy? Trillion-dollar deficits with no end in sight, the largest explosion of peacetime debt in memory. Plutocracy beckons; a government stripped of solvency cannot serve the rest.

    Somewhere Ayn Rand smiles.

  185. blf says

    Ex-Irish president: Vatican sought deal to keep church archives closed:

    The Vatican sought a deal with the Irish state in 2003 to keep church archives closed, according to former president Mary McAleese.

    The approach from the Vatican came at a time when two statutory inquiries were under way into child abuse involving the Catholic church.

    McAleese said the matter was raised with her during a private meeting with a high-ranking Vatican official while she was on a state visit to Italy.

    It was “one of the most devastating moments of my presidency”, she told the Irish Times.

    According to McAleese’s account, Angelo Sodano, then Vatican secretary of state, “indicated he would like, and the Vatican would like, an agreement with Ireland, a concordat with Ireland”.

    She added: “I asked him why and it was very clear that it was because he wanted to protect Vatican and diocesan archives. I have to say that I immediately said the conversation had to stop.

    “I told him it was inappropriate and very, very dangerous for the church if it was pursued.”

    McAleese was unhappy at the issue being raised with her in private. She asked Monsignor Joe Murphy, who was then Sodano’s secretary and was present at the meeting along with an Irish government official and McAleese’s husband, to explain to the secretary of state that the church in Ireland was “on the back foot”, and that if the matter was pursued it would be “flat on its back”.


    At the time, the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was investigating the treatment of children in institutions run by religious orders, while a separate statutory inquiry was investigating clerical sexual abuse in Ferns diocese.

    McAleese claimed that Sodano was asking for an agreement under which the Irish state would have no access to church documents.


    McAleese has clashed with the Catholic church this year on LGBT issues and the role of women. This week she said the church’s teaching on homosexuality was “evil” and she hoped the pope would change it.

    In March, she said the church was an “empire of misogyny” and lacked strong role models for women. Her comments came after the Vatican refused to accredit her for a conference marking International Women’s Day.

    In response to the raping children cult’s attempt to ban President McAleese from attending / speaking back in March, the organizers of the conference — “Why Women Matter” — hastily moved it from the Vatican.

  186. says

    “New Details About Wilbur Ross’ Business Point To Pattern Of Grifting”:

    …Over several months, in speaking with 21 people who know Ross, Forbes uncovered a pattern: Many of those who worked directly with him claim that Ross wrongly siphoned or outright stole a few million here and a few million there, huge amounts for most but not necessarily for the commerce secretary. At least if you consider them individually. But all told, these allegations—which sparked lawsuits, reimbursements and an SEC fine—come to more than $120 million. If even half of the accusations are legitimate, the current United States secretary of commerce could rank among the biggest grifters in American history.

    Those who’ve done business with Ross generally tell a consistent story, of a man obsessed with money and untethered to facts. “He’ll push the edge of truthfulness and use whatever power he has to grab assets,” says New York financier Asher Edelman. One of Ross’ former colleagues is more direct: “He’s a pathological liar.”…

    Much more at the link.

  187. says

    “Missouri Voters Can Kill The State’s New Right-To-Work Law”:

    So many states have been passing right-to-work laws that the anti-union statutes are now the norm rather than the exception. But could Republican-controlled Missouri be the state that reverses the trend?

    The state’s voters on Tuesday will cast ballots on Proposition A, an up-or-down referendum on the right-to-work bill passed by Missouri legislators and signed by then-Gov. Eric Greitens (R) last year. The law still hasn’t gone into effect. If the “no” votes win, it will die ― and so, unions hope, will some of the momentum behind the nationwide right-to-work campaign.

    Right-to-work laws allow workers to opt out of paying union fees while still enjoying the benefits of a union contract. In doing so, the laws tend to drive down union membership and weaken organized labor ― a pillar of the Democratic Party ― which helps explain why Republican-dominated states have become so eager to institute them lately.

    In 2017, Missouri became the 28th state to put one on its books, following Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, West Virginia and Kentucky in recent years. In those six states, the laws were passed by GOP-controlled statehouses. By getting Prop A on the ballot, unions and their progressive allies in Missouri succeeded in putting the question directly to voters instead….

    Kill the Koch monster dead, Missouri voters. Put a stake through its heart, set it on fire, and throw the charred corpse in a vat of piranhas.

  188. says

    blf @266, so Russia had a hand in the hiring of Rex Tillerson, and Saudia Arabia had a hand in Tillerson’s ouster. Trump is truly a potemkin president.

  189. says

    SC @273, I know what you mean when you write, “Kill the Koch monster dead, Missouri voters. Put a stake through its heart, set it on fire, and throw the charred corpse in a vat of piranhas.” Please be sure to follow any calls for violence, even metaphorical and/or humorous, with a disclaimer. Thanks.

  190. says

    SC @272, Wilbur Ross sounds remarkably like Trump. All the best people.

    SC @267, so scary. The slide into an authoritarian regime continues.

    In other news, Trump’s tariffs are not working as he advertised they would:

    Beleaguered Fairfield County is losing another 126 jobs after TV-maker Element Electronics said Monday it will close its Winnsboro plant in response to tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump. […]

    Element was one of Fairfield’s largest remaining employers, two years after its largest grocery store, Walmart, shuttered its doors.

    In a letter to the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce obtained by The State, Element wrote “the layoff and closure is a result of the new tariffs that were recently and unexpectedly imposed on many goods imported from China, including the key television components used in our assembly operations in Winnsboro.”

  191. says

    Stephen Miller is such an anti-democratic, anti-American doofus that I’m surprised he has lasted this long, even on team Trump. His latest attacks on legal immigration on legal immigrants are not only anti-immigrant, they are a form of class warfare.

    NBC News reported that team Trump, led by Miller, will issue a proposal/rule change “that would make it harder for legal immigrants to become citizens or get green cards” if they have ever used a range of popular social-insurance programs, including the Affordable Care Act.

    The ACA is health care FFS!

    […] The move … is part of White House senior adviser Stephen Miller’s plan to limit the number of migrants who obtain legal status in the U.S. each year.

    Details of the rulemaking proposal are still being finalized, but based on a recent draft seen last week and described to NBC News, immigrants living legally in the U.S. who have ever used or whose household members have ever used Obamacare, children’s health insurance, food stamps and other benefits could be hindered from obtaining legal status in the U.S.

    Immigration lawyers and advocates and public health researchers say it would be the biggest change to the legal immigration system in decades and estimate that more than 20 million immigrants could be affected. They say it would fall particularly hard on immigrants working jobs that don’t pay enough to support their families. […]


    The change that Stephen Miller is proposing would not require approval from Congress. Unilateral, authoritarian rule-making would suffice.

  192. says

    Follow-up to comment 278.

    Jonathan Chait, writing for New York magazine, had this to say about Stephen Miller’s proposal:

    Donald Trump’s defenders have insisted all along that when evaluating his immigration policy, we should ignore his veiled and even textbook racist appeals, and instead view it as a straightforward application of law enforcement. “Would-be lawbreakers know that we are restoring the rule of law and enforcing our immigration laws again,” boasted Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “At stake in this debate is not how to enforce immigration laws but whether we should do so at all,” argued conservative columnist Jonathan Tobin. It’s not about keeping America white, they say, it’s about following the rules and making people get in line.

    That defense was strained to the breaking point by Trump’s child-separation policy, which frequently targeted families attempting to seek asylum through legal channels. And now the bare pretense is about to be snapped altogether.

    NBC’s Julia Ainsley has obtained an internal Trump administration document laying out a plan to deny citizenship to legal immigrants. The mastermind of the new policy is Stephen Miller, a radical who has gained almost total control of the administration’s immigration agenda. Under the forthcoming plan, any legal immigrants who have ever used (or whose household contains people who have ever used) children’s health insurance (CHIP), Obamacare, supplemental nutrition assistance, or other social benefits could be denied legal status. […]

  193. says

    Please be sure to follow any calls for violence, even metaphorical and/or humorous, with a disclaimer. Thanks.

    Huh? It was a call for violence against a law, an inanimate object. The “right-to-work” law is the “Koch monster” to which I was referring (i.e., they’re behind these laws, as discussed at the “Koch monster” link). I was playing on the title of the article to which I linked: “Missouri Voters Can Kill The State’s New Right-To-Work Law.” Apologies if that was unclear.

  194. says

    Say what now? I know that Trump expressed his love for asbestos long before he became a candidate for president, but this still shocked me. Team trump is making a move to allow asbestos back into manufacturing.

    One of the most dangerous construction-related carcinogens is now legally allowed back into U.S. manufacturing under a new rule by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). On June 1, the EPA authorized a “SNUR” (Significant New Use Rule) which allows new products containing asbestos to be created on a case-by-case basis.

    According to environmental advocates, this new rule gives chemical companies the upper hand in creating new uses for such harmful products in the United States. In May, the EPA released a report detailing its new framework for evaluating the risk of its top prioritized substances. The report states that the agency will no longer consider the effect or presence of substances in the air, ground, or water in its risk assessments.

    Asbestos, once seen as a magical mineral, was widely used in building insulation up until it was banned in most countries in the 1970s. The U.S. is one of the only developed nations in the world that has placed significant restrictions on the substance without banning it completely. New data revealed that asbestos-related deaths now total nearly 40,000 annually, with lung cancer and mesothelioma being the most common illnesses in association with the toxin. That number could rise if new asbestos-containing products make their way into brand new buildings.

  195. says

    SC @281, I see your point. I misunderstood you. However, it is still preferred that we err on the side of caution when posting in this thread. Thanks for your explanation.

  196. says

    Don Lemon called Trump a racist:

    CNN anchor Don Lemon called President Donald Trump “publicly racist” Monday night in a nine-minute diatribe on “CNN Tonight.” Lemon was responding to comments the president made Friday on Twitter, in which he called Lemon the “dumbest man on television.” Trump said Lemon made LeBron James, whom the anchor had interviewed about James’ public school for at-risk kids, “look smart, which isn’t easy to do.” During the interview with Lemon, James commented that Trump was using sports to divide the country. […]

    Lemon prefaced his remarks on Monday by saying, “As a journalist, I don’t really like being the story here, but because of how important it is for each of us to stand up for what is right and what is decent, I’m going to tell you exactly how I feel, starting right now.” He noted that Trump’s insults of himself and James, two successful black men, reflect a history of black people being stereotyped as less intelligent.

    “The president has called a lot of people stupid,” Lemon said. “Some of those people are white. But I would just like to note that referring to an African American as dumb—remember, this is America — is one of the oldest canards of America’s racist past and present.”

    Lemon was prepared with evidence, pointing to Trump’s past disparaging comments about black NFL players kneeling during the national anthem; his criticism of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), an outspoken Trump critic whom the president has called a “very low IQ individual”; and his comments about President Barack Obama, whom Trump speculated hadn’t been born in the United States […]

    “Notice a pattern?” Lemon asked. “The president constantly denigrates people of color, and women, too. Let me not mince words here: This president traffics in racism and is fueled by bullying.

    “Will the country stand up for [these people]? We, the decent and truly patriotic people who really love America and believe in its greatness, have to. Because clearly Donald Trump won’t.” […]

    Video here

  197. says

    Lynna @ #283 – No worries. Looking at it again, I see it could potentially be read as targeting the Kochs or their organization rather than the law. Better to have an abundance of caution, I agree.

  198. says

    SC @285, Right. We are in agreement on that.

    In other news, here’s a follow-up to comments 278 and 279.

    Wonkette’s coverage of Stephen Miller’s proposal:

    One of the big arguments used by Trump supporters trying to pretend they’re totally not xenophobic has long been that they totally love immigrants who come here legally and go about things the “right” way, just not the ones who “unfairly” jump the line by crossing the border without proper papers. While no one with half a brain ever bought that, it will be significantly less believable if White House White supremacist Stephen Miller’s new plan becomes a reality.

    According to documents obtained by NBC’s Julia Ainsley, Miller’s proposal — which would not require congressional approval — would prevent any legal immigrants not only from obtaining full citizenship, but also put them in danger of having their green card status revoked, if they or anyone in their household have ever used any social safety net programs. Programs like Obamacare, CHIP, food stamps, Medicaid, etc. Programs that they would have contributed to, with their own tax money.

    What they are proposing is that legal immigrants should contribute to these programs, with their tax dollars, but not ever be allowed to benefit from them. (This, by the way, is already the case for those who are here without green cards.)

    The flipside of Miller’s proposal is that it will prevent many legal immigrants from obtaining health care for themselves and for their children — many of whom are legal citizens of the United States and just as entitled to use those programs as any other child born here. […]

    It’s part of an overall agenda in this administration to cut down the number of legal immigrants and naturalizations that are approved. […]

    The new proposal would mean that those like Haitian immigrant Louis Charles, profiled by NBC, will have to decide between being qualified for citizenship and taking care of those in their family who require social services:

    Many are like Louis Charles, a Haitian green-card holder seeking citizenship who, despite working up to 80 hours a week as a nursing assistant, has had to use public programs to support his disabled adult daughter.

    Using some public benefits like Social Security Insurance has already hindered immigrants from obtaining legal status in the past, but the programs included in the recent draft plan could mean that immigrant households earning as much as 250 percent of the poverty level could be rejected.

    See, call me crazy, but I’d prefer a country full of Louis Charleses to even one Stephen Miller.

    It should come as no surprise that Miller’s own family came to America as the exact kind of people he would turn away — according to his uncle on his mother’s side. […]

  199. says

    Terri Gerstein, writing for Slate, makes some excellent points about Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh:

    If you’ve read a profile of Judge Brett Kavanaugh in the past month, you’ve probably seen some version of the following personality sketch: He’s not just a brilliant jurist, but also an all-around great guy! There are a few oft-cited examples given to back up this view: He hires female clerks and doesn’t harass them; he reads law review articles and history; he chats supportively with a Supreme Court litigator about balancing work and family; he’s a carpool dad and basketball coach.

    Got it. He’s a smart man who’s often kind to fellow elites and to his loved ones.

    Low bar! Sheesh.

    Now let’s see what evidence is missing from Kavanaugh’s record:

    Here’s what all of the paeans to Kavanaugh’s character haven’t been able to offer: any examples of Judge Kavanaugh using his legal skills to represent the type of client who is excluded from power in our society, or any record of an effort to address that exclusion. There’s a simple reason there are no descriptions of him helping a tenant avoid eviction, or representing an employee confronting discrimination, or litigating on behalf of a family suing an insurance company that denied coverage to a terminally ill patient. No matter how nice and smart he is, Judge Kavanaugh has chosen Goliath over David, just about every time.

    You know what Thurgood Marshall did before he became a Supreme Court justice? He founded the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and was a key architect of the legal strategy that ultimately ended segregation. […] And Ruth Bader Ginsburg? She led the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, bringing groundbreaking cases that smashed stereotypes and opened doors for women nationwide. […]

    Judge Kavanaugh, in contrast, seems to have little understanding of how not everyone has access to the networks, education, lucky accidents of birth, and above all, money that give some people a greater voice over others. Perhaps this blind spot helps explain why such a nice carpool dad takes so many not-so-nice positions.

    […] A SeaWorld trainer named Dawn Brancheau was drowned by Tilikum the killer whale during a performance. Kavanaugh dissented from the appellate panel’s decision to uphold a government fine totaling a whopping $7,000. (No, that’s not a typo. Only three zeros.) But Kavanaugh’s dissent is important also because it provides a window into the limited and skewed nature of his worldview.

    The panel’s majority opinion focused on SeaWorld’s pre-existing awareness of the dangers involved in Brancheau’s work and knowledge of multiple previous deaths caused by Tilikum himself. The majority also noted the ready availability of hazard abatement measures, which SeaWorld adopted only after the tragedy. […]

    In his dissent, Kavanaugh showed a stunning lack of understanding of what it means to be a working person whose livelihood depends on a job she has little ability to affect. Like a starry-eyed 10-year-old Little League player, Kavanaugh breathlessly analogized Brancheau’s position to that of playing football, skydiving, bull riding at the rodeo, and participating in other athletic feats, and concluded that some activities are inherently so dangerous that the participants assume life-threatening risk.

    For starters, Kavanaugh just got the law wrong. Even in his ESPN extreme courtroom, the law would require a skydiving outfit to provide backup parachutes, for example. More ominously, what Kavanaugh misses entirely is that whether you like your job or not (it was Brancheau’s dream job), there’s a major power imbalance between a worker and her employer.

    As Service Employees International Union lawyer Andrew Strom observed, “It’s as though Kavanaugh can’t imagine that someone might want to be an animal trainer and also have safer working conditions.”

    It’s also as though Kavanaugh can’t imagine what would be likely to happen if Brancheau had sought safety improvements before her untimely death. Employees are routinely—and unlawfully—shown the door when they try to better their working conditions in any way, whether seeking lawful pay, safe conditions, freedom from discrimination, or trying to form a union. […]

    More at the link.

  200. tomh says

    I thought Gates could have done a lot better on cross-examination, he really let himself get pushed around. And the judge is certainly no bargain.

  201. Hj Hornbeck says

    If you’re following along with the Ohio Special Election, FiveThirtyEight posted some benchmarks for each county on their liveblog. It’s looking good for Danny O’Connor (Democrat), but the counting has barely started.

  202. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    HJH#291 I’m watching MSNBC, and Steve Kornacki is subbing for Chris Matthews (Steve isn’t enough of an SOB to be a good sub for CM). He says the same at the Big Board, his specialty.

  203. says

    Missouri: 90,000 ballots counted, & the GOP’s new ‘right-to-work’ law is going down 67-33.

    And of these 90,000 voters, more voted in the GOP primary than in the Dem primary—so these returns were certainly not a given.”

  204. Hj Hornbeck says

    Nate Cohn: So close, but here’s the simplest way to explain it right now. Delaware is 50% in, Rs are +2500 on eday there. D+1400 overall, so if Rs doubles up in Delaware they’d just slightly pull ahead. Obviously, Ds could do better in Del. Or kill it in Franklin. Still soooo close

    G. Elliot. Morris: O’Connor (D) margin vs benchmarks in #OH12 counties that are currently 100% reporting:

    Licking: R+23 (Benchmark R+11)
    Richland: R+20 (R+10)
    Muskingum: R+34 (R+4)
    Morrow: R+40 (R+26)
    Marion: R+38 (R+26)


    Franklin: D+30 (D+22)
    Delaware: R+4 (R+9)

    Still a toss-up, though O’Connor’s path to a win is quite narrow.

  205. says

    BREAKING: Former Malaysian PM Najib Razak charged with money laundering related to alleged looting of state investment fund.”

    I’ve been wondering what impact this situation will have on the Mueller investigation. Hard to believe it won’t have any.

  206. Hj Hornbeck says

    Ohio 12 is starting to break for the Republican.

    G. Elliott Morris: #BREAKING Projection: Barring a recount/provisional vote surprise, Balderson (R) wins the #OH12 special election. The district will see a 13 pt swing toward Dems over the partisan lean of the seat; that swing is 15 points nationwide, and STILL FORECASTS a blue wave in November.

  207. blf says

    I’ve occasionally wondered about this for years, French feminists denounce traditional seaside postcards as ‘degrading’:

    Smutty postcards with pictures of women wearing bikinis are a typical if often maligned feature of French seaside resorts. But in the wake of an anti-sexual harassment movement sweeping France, their days may be numbered.

    “These traditional postcards are available to everyone, regardless of age,” the group Femmes Solidaires said in a statement posted on social media. “They contribute to a culture of rape, impose a degrading image of women, and help legitimise and trivialise violence against women.”

    The group is demanding that publishers stop printing and selling the cards and has called for support from Marlene Schiappa, France’s gender equality minister, who has been leading a fight against sexual harassment and violence.


    Lawmakers on Wednesday passed a bill banning sexual harassment and cat-calling in the street and allowing on-the-spot fines of up to 750 euros ($870) for harassers.

    But opponents of the lewd postcards said education was just as important as legislation.

    “If we don’t work on changing the state of mind of the public then these new laws will not be efficient,” said Gwendoline Coipeault of Femmes Solidaires. “Presenting women as objects of consumption ultimately leads to violence.”


    While many responses have been positive, some male opponents voiced disapproval online, with one saying of the postcards: “So what! They are beautiful and fun. They’ve been around for ages.”

    Coipeault said the responses were split.

    “People are responding either very positively or very negatively. Some people have called us Nazis.”

    They do tend towards the risqué, and very few of the ones I’ve seen could be called “artistic”. (There’s a photo of a sales rack in Marseilles showing some common examples (probably SFW).) It is not just seaside resorts / bikinis, however, there is also a surprising amount of cards showing scanty-dressed, often topless, young women skiing.

    A slightly-related aside: Because it is perfectly legal to go topless on public(? all?) seaside beaches in France, I’m always extremely careful about using my mobile when in close proximity to the beach. It’s obvious some creeps take “sneak” pictures of women exercising their right, and I don’t want to be assumed to be such a creep.

  208. quotetheunquote says

    @blf #289

    “Increasing Smaug, angry, becoming furious; heavy burning later.”

    1m54s, and better than all of PJ’s films put together. People at work looking at me funny, wondering why my eyes are watering and my belly is shaking.

  209. blf says

    Saudi Arabia’s feudal absolute ruler seems to be completely bonkers (follow-up to @264 & other comments), Saudi Arabia halts all medical treatment for citizens in Canada:

    Saudi Arabia barred all citizens from receiving medical treatment in Canada as a diplomatic dispute over criticism of its human rights record intensifies.

    Brilliant move, nutcase. Canada’s observation was about very poor human rights in Saudi Arabia, so what does the feudal fruitcake foam at the mouth and do? Deny his own citizens more of their human rights.

    Traitor don’s dalekocracy is, of course, stumbling around:

    [… State Department spokeswoman Heather] Nauert suggested the Canadian government could have handled the issue better.

    Some of these issues we choose to discuss privately with our friends, with our partners, with our allies […]

    In other words, a non-authoritarian actual government called out an very authoritarian “government”, so the non-authoritarian actual government must be in the wrong. That’s logic, that is, as applied by teh bestinger evers peoples.

  210. says

    “Tlaib wins Conyers’ seat; Congress to get 1st Muslim woman”:

    Former Michigan state Rep. Rashida Tlaib has won the Democratic nomination to run unopposed for the House seat long held by former Rep. John Conyers, setting her up to become the first Muslim woman elected to Congress.

    No Republicans or third-party candidates ran in Tuesday’s District 13 primary race, meaning Tlaib is set to win the seat in November’s election and begin serving a full two-year term in January….

    Tlaib, 42, served in the Michigan House from 2009 until 2014. She defeated five other candidates to win the nomination to run for a full term representing the heavily Democratic district, which covers much of Detroit and some of its suburbs….

  211. says

    NBC News: Rep. Christopher Collins of New York has been arrested and indicted on charges tied to securities fraud. He surrendered himself to the FBI this morning.

    Press conference by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District at noon.”


  212. says

    Rand Paul: “I was honored to deliver a letter from President Trump to President Vladimir Putin’s administration. The letter emphasized the importance of further engagement in various areas including countering terrorism, enhancing legislative dialogue and resuming cultural exchanges.”

    He was honored.

  213. blf says

    Many years ago Jack Warshaw wrote a song called If They Come in the Morning, which is perhaps best known as No Time for Love and famously recorded by Moving Hearts at the height of the violence in N.Ireland during the hunger strikes. Both the original and then-recorded Moving Hearts versions include a number of then-topical references which can be confusing (albeit the song has held up very well).

    Browsing around earlier today, I stumbled on this updated version which just oh-so-apt right now, Christy Moore and Declan Sinnott: No Time for Love. (Both Christy and Decland were in Moving Hearts.) Sadly, the video is not-so-great, being slightly out-of-sync with the sound, and of poor resolution, but that doesn’t matter — listen to the lyrics !

  214. says

    Reading Argentinean “#EsHoy” Twitter reacting to various senators speaking is like reading US Twitter reacting to congressional hearings. I had the live video from the Argentinean Senate playing for a few minutes and had to turn it off due to stupid senator comments.

  215. Oggie. says

    re 321:
    Isn’t this exactly the claim made by the GOP against the Democrats back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s? And the 80s? Claiming that any Democrat would rather be in Soviet Russia? And now, suddenly, the entire GOP has decided to hitch its collective wagon to the right-wing dictatorship of Putin? And the GOPsheep are okay with this?

    Picture if you will an alternate universe in which Trump had been elected as a Democrat, was being protected by a Democratic Congress, and the Democratic Party was selling itself to Russia. Got that in your mind? Okay, now some questions: Would the Democratic voters be okay with this? Would the press be bending over backwards to find ways to excuse this behaviour? Would a President with a D attached even still be in office?

    The behaviour of the radical American right has been normalized from the days of McCarthy and Nixon to today. Right wing violence is okay, left wing protests are bad. Always have been. The Right can do anything it wants and, when caught, the press tells us that the individual screwed up but, if a Democrat (centre or right-of-centre) does something immoral or illegal or unethical, that is a condemnation of the entire party. And the press goes along with it.

    Liberal press my pasty white arse!

  216. says

    Sorry to see Balderson win in Ohio, but glad to see that O’Conner almost won. Republicans have held that seat for 77 of the last 79 years. The GOP spent millions to help Balderson win. Trump endorsed Balderson.

    Also, good to keep in mind that although Balderson has claimed victory, the race is not really over. Still too close to call.

    More than 3,400 provisional votes and 5,048 outstanding absentee ballots – nearly quadruple the margin – remained to be counted. State law bars boards of elections from counting those ballots until the 11th day after an election.

    The race could be headed to a recount, since state law triggers one if the candidates are within half a percent of each other after the final results are certified, which must take place no later than August 24.

    Trump gave himself credit for Balderson’s “great victory.” It would be sweet if Balderson lost after all.

  217. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Lynna @38,

    Also, they have a rematch in November. Presumably turnout will be higher then, which should benefit O’Connor.

  218. Saad says

    SC, #325

    This is one of the stupidest things I’ve seen in some time. Mindbogglingly stupid. Really embarrassing for CNN.

    My god, that’s almost unbelievable… even at this stage they’re still not getting it…

    If it was draining the swamp, then tens of millions of liberals and progressives would have voted for him, and no just racist assholes.

  219. says

    (Sorry – that should be “intrafamilial” @ #332.)

    Sam Stein:

    Weird WH statement on the letter Rand gave to Putin

    “At Senator Paul’s request, President Trump provided a letter of introduction. In the letter, the President mentioned topics of interest that Senator Paul wanted to discuss with President Putin.”

    Rand, this morning, made it seem as if he was delivering a letter to Putin that Trump wanted delivered. Now, the WH is saying that Paul asked for Trump to write the letter and basically determined what was in it.

    i’m… confused

  220. says

    Twitter, and it’s move to toward the rightwing, is discussed by Lincoln Green:

    Although Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey describes himself as “left leaning”, he is making a major effort to cater to right-wing politicians and commentators. He has consulted Sean Hannity, he met in June with Ted Cruz, Grover Norquist, and other conservatives as part of “an olive branch” to the right wing, and he promised them to look into the alleged liberal bias of the Twitter Moments feature.

    Yesterday Dorsey one-upped himself. Despite Facebook, Apple, Spotify, YouTube, MailChimp and others banning right-wing conspiracy-monger Alex Jones for promoting hate speech and violence, Dorsey refused to suspend Jones or his publication Infowars, and defended this decision in a tweet that said “he hasn’t violated our rules”. (Apparently Twitter’s rules allow Jones to call Robert Mueller a pedophile and mimic shooting him.) Dorsey went on to write that it was the responsibility of journalists to police Jones’s account for accuracy and fairness. […]

    As Isaac Stanley-Becker reported in the Washington Post, Princeton historian Kevin M Kruse was more direct: “Have you considered adding a new rule against users who harass the parents of dead kindergartners so much that they have to go into hiding.”

    Jones, predictably, is using the controversy to ask his followers for more money.


  221. says

    Follow-up to SC’s comments 310, 311, 313, and 314.

    Collins’ role on Trump’s transition team was viewed as instrumental in Price getting the HHS position — where Price [Tom Price, former head of HHS under Trump, who resigned under a cloud of exorbitant travel expenses and general chicanery] would be in charge of approving/regulating Collins’ phony Aussie pharma company […]


    Much more swamp-creature behavior is described at the link.

  222. says

    Advocates probe White House plans to house immigrants at toxic waste sites.

    Environmental and health advocates want more information about the Trump administration’s plans to house detained immigrants, including children, at two Texas military posts with a history of toxic contamination.

    A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed Wednesday morning by the nonprofit legal group Earthjustice is asking the government for details about plans to keep immigrants at Fort Bliss in El Paso and Goodfellow Air Force Bases in San Angelo.

    Fort Bliss is a source of particular concern for advocates — the area is listed as a Superfund, meaning that areas have been designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a priority for cleanup due to the dangers they pose to human health and the environment. At Goodfellow, tents meant to house people will be constructed directly over a former firing range, not far from an uncapped landfill.

    “These waste sites have the potential to cause dangerous human exposure to toxic chemicals via air, water and soil to migrants housed in tent encampments and to workers constructing the detention camps,” the FOIA request reads. […]

  223. says

    China has been slapping Trump down in multiple ways:

    For […] Trump, this has been a week of repeated defiance from China.

    On Friday, the Chinese government said it would not abide by Trump’s sanctions on Iran and would continue to import Iranian oil.

    China this week reported testing a supersonic (or hypersonic) missile that, according to reports, could be developed to carry a nuclear warhead at up six times the speed of sound (4,563 mph). If these reports are true, then the Starry Sky-2 will be able to evade all U.S. detecting and defense systems.

    And on Wednesday, China said it would respond in kind to the latest round of Trump’s tariffs on China — $16 billion, on top of earlier tariffs — by slapping taxes on American cars and crude oil. […]


    More at the link, including details that show Trump to be lying and/or engaging in extreme hyperbole when he tweets stuff like this:

    ….China, which is for the first time doing poorly against us, is spending a fortune on ads and P.R. trying to convince and scare our politicians to fight me on Tariffs- because they are really hurting their economy. Likewise other countries. We are Winning, but must be strong!

    Tariffs are working big time. Every country on earth wants to take wealth out of the U.S., always to our detriment. I say, as they come,Tax them. If they don’t want to be taxed, let them make or build the product in the U.S. In either event, it means jobs and great wealth…

    China’s exports increased in July. China is doing fine so far. Trumps claim that he will reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero has been proven false by leaders in Beijing. “China’s commercial cooperation with Iran is open and transparent, reasonable, fair and lawful, not violating any United Nations Security Council resolutions. China’s lawful rights should be protected.”

  224. says

    Sharice Davids won her primary race in Kansas:

    Sharice Davids, an openly gay Native American woman and professional mixed-martial arts fighter, won a crowded Democratic primary in Kansas late Tuesday night, putting her one step closer to becoming the first Native American woman in Congress. Davids bested candidates including Brent Welder, a Bernie Sanders-endorsed progressive, and Tom Niermann, a high school teacher with strong local support. Davids will face off against Kevin Yoder for the 3rd Congressional District’s House seat in November. Davids ran mainly on health care and education issues.

    Davids, 38 years old and a first-time candidate, has been endorsed by EMILY’s List, which backs pro-choice women Democrats and has shelled out nearly $700,000 on her race. […]


  225. says

    Update on Michael Avenatti’s next move in the Stormy Daniels case:

    Lawyers for […] Trump and adult film actress Stormy Daniels agreed to move her libel case against the president to a Los Angeles courtroom, according to court documents released Wednesday.

    Daniels brought the defamation suit against the president in April in New York, alleging he used Twitter to undermine her claim that a man threatened her to keep quiet about a past romantic relationship with Trump. For his part, the president denies he was involved with Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford.

    Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said on Wednesday moving the lawsuit to the West Coast will speed up the legal process.

    “We concluded that it will allow the defamation case against Mr. Trump to move along more expeditiously if it is venued in Los Angeles. It is all about getting maximum accountability as quickly as possible,” Avenatti said in an email. […]

    “A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools (but they know it!)” Trump said on Twitter at that time. […]


    It will be a significant schadenfreude moment if Trump’s Twitter posts get him in trouble yet again.

  226. says

    “US to impose new sanctions on Russia for Skripal poisoning”: “The Trump administration will impose punitive sanctions on Russia after determining that its government used a chemical weapon against an ex-spy living in Britain, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Wednesday….”

    It appears these will be blocking the export to Russia of some security-sensitive materials, to take effect around the 22nd.

    The timing of the announcement is…interesting.

  227. says

    The ACLU is suing Trump again:

    The American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration over its decision to remove asylum protections for victims of domestic and gang violence.

    The ACLU is arguing against “expedited removal” policies, put forth by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, that it says “generally” deny claims of violence of that nature.

    “This is a naked attempt by the Trump administration to eviscerate our country’s asylum protections,” Jennifer Chang Newell, managing attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement. “It’s clear the administration’s goal is to deny and deport as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.” […]


    Jeff Sessions played a major role in this additional immigration-related debacle by the Trump administration. In June he reversed Obama-era protections for some victims of violence, including women with credible claims of domestic violence.

    The plaintiffs:

    The plaintiffs in the case, who are all using pseudonyms, are adults and children who fled their home countries after facing sexual and physical violence, including sexual abuse, beatings, shootings, death threats and the murder of family members. Some of the plaintiffs include women who were ordered back to their countries after detailing their accounts.

    One woman, “Mina,” received death threats from a powerful drug-trafficking gang, the lawsuit said. She and her family were targeted after her husband and father-in-law helped a friend escape when the gang was trying to kill him. Mina’s father-in-law was later murdered. She was also beaten “so badly that she could not walk the next day.”

    In addition, her attackers threatened to “rape her and mutilate her body if she did not leave town.”

  228. Hj Hornbeck says

    Last night was very good for Democrats. For instance, here’s Harry Enten’s analysis of what happened in Washington state.

    We already know that Democrats lead in the House polls, and Republicans have a lot more seats at risk. Republicans therefore are hoping that the polling and the race ratings are overstating their vulnerability. They may be.

    The outcome in Washington’s primary however, suggest the opposite may be true. The polling and race ratings might be understating the Democrats’ advantage. In other words, Democrats may actually be in slightly better shape than we think.

    In Kansas, Kobach holds a miniscule 191-vote lead over Jeff Colyer. Democrats wanted Kobach, as their polling suggested they’d be more likely to win against him vs. Colyer, and the thin margin suggests Kansas voters aren’t terribly enthused about Kobach.

    As for Ohio, even a narrow loss is a sign of a +13 advantage for Democrats, which in theory could be enough to turn Texas Blue.

  229. Hj Hornbeck says


    David Wasserman: Update: so far in 2018 Dem House primaries featuring one man, one woman & no incumbent on ballot, a woman has won 83/121 times (69%). On GOP side, just 12/35 times (34%).

  230. says

    Officials are doing what they can to get ready for more white supremacist rallies:

    Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for the state and city of Charlottesville in anticipation of the one-year anniversary of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally.

    There are multiple events planned in Charlottesville and in Washington, D.C., over the weekend to mark the anniversary of the white supremacist rally last August.

    The 2018 “Unite the Right” rally is scheduled to take place in D.C., with hundreds expected to attend, and counterprotests also planned.

    Northam said in a press release that he was declaring the state of emergency to ensure state resources are available to local governments and residents if necessary.

    “I am urging Virginians to make alternative plans to engaging with planned demonstrations of hate, should those arise,” he said. “Declaring this state of emergency in advance of the anniversary and the related planned events will help us ensure that the state and the city have all available resources to support emergency responders in case they are needed.”

    Northam’s declaration allocates $2 million to pay for state agencies to deploy to Charlottesville and authorizes the Virginia National Guard to provide security.

    Charlottesville interim city manager Mike Murphy has also declared a local state of emergency ahead of the expected protests and counterprotests. […]


    In other news: Hj @346, that would be an obvious conflict of interest for Kobach. Let’s home the courts slap him down, (a result he should be familiar with by now), if he fails to recuse himself.

  231. says

    Re #341 above – I should’ve known. Ed Royce of the House Foreign Affairs Committee had asked the WH for their determination/action on the Skripal attack back in March and given them 60 days to respond. When they missed that deadline, he wrote again asking for a response by tomorrow. The only reason they’re “acting” today – making the announcement – is Royce and Engel would probably have made a public fuss if nothing had happened by tomorrow. Whether sanctions will actually be applied on the 22nd remains to be seen.

  232. says

    A follow-up of sorts to comment 348.

    Trump is congratulating a white supremacist:

    When Corey Stewart beat Nick Freitas in Virginia’s Republican Senate primary on Tuesday, he got a congratulatory tweet from President Trump, who said, “Don’t underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning!”

    Among the people who retweeted Trump’s accolades: Jason Kessler, a self-described “pro-white” activist who organized last year’s “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, during which a young woman was murdered by an alt-right rallygoer — and a friend and associate of Stewart’s.

    From Trump:

    Congratulations to Corey Stewart for his great victory for Senator from Virginia. Now he runs against a total stiff, Tim Kaine, who is weak on crime and borders, and wants to raise your taxes through the roof. Don’t underestimate Corey, a major chance of winning!

    Corey Stewart is a birther, a rabid anti-Semite, and a guy who has multiple connections to white nationalists. He pledged loyalty to Trump. Stewart is also anti-immigrant:

    In 2012 during his run for lieutenant governor, he bragged about Prince William County’s “crackdown” on undocumented immigrants via a 2007 law that required police to check the immigration status of anyone detained or arrested if there was “probable cause” that the person might not be a citizen.

    Stewart is also a neo-Confederate:

    In 2017, he attended the “Old South Ball” in Danville, Virginia, and gave a speech saying Virginia was the state of “Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson,” adding that the Confederate flag “is our heritage, it’s what makes us Virginia, and if you take that away, we lose our identity.”

    At another campaign event in 2017 hosted by an avowed secessionist who attended the disastrous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Stewart again defended the Confederacy, saying, “Virginians, we think for ourselves… And if the established order is wrong, we rebel. We did that in the Revolution, we did it in the Civil War, and we’re doing it today. We’re doing it today because they’re trying to rob us of everything that we hold dear: our history, our heritage, our culture.”

    He’s said (and tweeted) that the removal of Confederate statues was an action akin to what the terror group ISIS would do and that he would “defund” any Virginia city that took down any Confederate memorial.

    All the best people.

  233. says

    Alex Jones is not giving up. He is, in fact, busy devising more ways to be evil: Alex Jones is trying to force the parents of a Sandy Hook victim to publicly release their addresses.

    […] For years, Jones has propagated a conspiracy theory that claims the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary mass shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead was a hoax, and that interviews with parents like Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa — who lost their son Noah — were faked.

    […] Pozner and De La Rosa say they have been harassed by Jones’ followers since the shooting, prompting the two to file a defamation lawsuit against the radio host in April. A judge in Teas is currently reviewing Jones’ motion to dismiss the case based on what the parents’ lawyer says is an outdated law that would force them to release personal information, including their home addresses.

    Jones lawyer has argued that, without that information, the suit should not go forward.

    “Sometimes I lie awake at night worrying that, despite our efforts at security, a determined conspiracy fanatic might gain entry to our home,” De La Rosa said in a court declaration obtained by the Post. […]

  234. says

    Analysis and commentary from Josh Marshall:

    In the on-going conversation about whether fringe speech, conspiracy-sites and hate groups should be booted off Facebook, Twitter, etc., here are a few thoughts.

    First, these are private companies that put their distributional heft at the service of those they allow on their platforms. We have every right to judge those companies on who they let on and who they don’t. Consider that most of these platforms simply ban not only nudity but even in some cases women breast-feeding. […]. They also immediately block almost any kind of content that anyone claims to have a copyright on. It’s not just that they don’t allow copyright infringement. […] They also ban various kinds of speech that can be interpreted as advertising and which undermines their business models.

    Each of these are perfectly reasonable. They’re private companies. They’re for profit. They have a right to set certain ground rules to ensure a certain atmosphere on their platform. They can impose terms of service that prevent people from undermining their business models. […] The point is that there’s nothing remotely like free speech on most of these platforms in the first place. The one place where this becomes an issue is where arguably political speech verges into hate speech or menace. InfoWars has no right to be on Facebook. […]

    We have collectively ceded a great deal of what feels like the public square to what are simply private, corporate platforms. To a real extent, the places you can exercise your speech these days are on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. […]

    […] that’s what we should be concerned about: ceding so much of the public square to private platforms which really aren’t about free speech in any way and don’t have free speech in any way. They’re all ordered by algorithms designed to maintain time on site and service ad sales. In no sense are they open or free. […]

    Infowars has been booted off Facebook, Youtube and a bunch of other platforms. But right now you can go to the InfoWars website and watch their shows to your heart’s content. Shouldn’t that be enough? […]

    […] what we should be thinking about is that we’ve allowed a series of private platforms to muscle in on a lot of the public square.[…] It is precisely because they have imposed themselves on the public square, have mimicked it, as it were, that they have decided to ape the modalities of ‘free speech’. This may seem like a good thing. But I would argue that it’s not. It’s part of passing themselves off as being something more like governments – ersatz governments with ersatz free speech.

    It is far better brush the networks back, treat them as businesses and not as quasi-governments with their own corporate versions of free speech […]

  235. Hj Hornbeck says

    Lynna, OM @348:

    … that would be an obvious conflict of interest for Kobach. Let’s home the courts slap him down, (a result he should be familiar with by now), if he fails to recuse himself.

    Alas, there’s no law forcing his recusal. Jeff Colyer’s legal team would have to dig around in the state constitution for legal crumbs, and it’d probably be a long, bruising, high-profile legal fight. I kinda hope it comes to pass. :D

  236. says

    BREAKING: @maddow has fundraiser audio of Nunes saying this:

    ‘If Sessions won’t un-recuse and Mueller won’t clear the president, we’re the only ones — which is really the danger. That’s why I keep, and thank you for saying it by the way, I mean we have to keep all these seats’.”

  237. blf says

    An example of useful international cooperation, Looted Iraqi antiquities return home after UK experts crack cold case:

    A collection of 5,000-year-old antiquities looted from a site in Iraq in 2003 after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and then seized by the Metropolitan police from a dealer in London, will be returned to Baghdad this week.

    It comes after experts at the British Museum identified not just the site they came from but the temple wall they were stolen from.

    The eight small pieces had no documentation of any kind to help the police, but the museum experts could literally read their origin. They included cone-shaped ceramics with cuneiform inscriptions identifying the site as Tello, ancient Girsu in southern Iraq, one of the oldest cities on earth recorded in the earliest form of true written language.

    The inscriptions named the Sumerian king who had them made almost 5,000 years ago, the god they were dedicated to, and the temple. And by an extraordinary coincidence the museum had an archaeologist, Sebastian Rey, leading a team of Iraqi archaeologists at the site, uncovering the holes in the mudbrick walls of the temple they were torn from, and the broken pieces the looters had discarded.

    [… Iraqi ambassador Salih Husain Ali] said the protection of antiquities was an international responsibility and praised the British Museum and its staff “for their exceptional efforts in the process of identifying and returning looted antiquities to Iraq. Such collaboration between Iraq and the United Kingdom is vital for the preservation of Iraqi heritage”.


    The site of the Eninnu temple at Tello is now protected, not just by the reformed Iraqi archaeological police, but by a local tribe. […]

    […] Rey’s favourite piece is the most modest: an oval polished river pebble with an even older inscription in the most archaic form of Sumerian script. It begins with a star, which indicates that the name of a god follows, and is a dedication to the god of water and floods, “very appropriate to a pebble from the river,” Rey said. The slightly wobbly inscription is broken off, as if more than 3,000 years ago the workman was disturbed at his task.


    Well done to the archaeologists in Iraq, the British Museum, and the London Met.

  238. says

    Update – “Argentina senate rejects bill to legalise abortion”:

    Argentina’s senate has rejected a bill to legalise abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy.

    Lawmakers debated for more than 15 hours and voted 38 against to 31 in favour, despite the fact opinion polls showed the bill had strong public support.

    Pressure from the Catholic church prevented its approval, according to female activists who supported the bill. Argentina is the homeland of Pope Francis.

    The lower house had already passed the measure and President Mauricio Macri had said he would sign it.

    Rejection of the bill means that abortion remains legal only in the case of rape and danger to the life of the woman.

    Mariela Belski, Argentina’s Amnesty International director, said a survey had shown 60% support for the bill, and described its failure as “an unforgivable step backwards”.

    Hundreds of thousands of people, mostly women, braved a cold and rainy night to stand vigil outside the congress building on Wednesday while the votes were counted inside. Despite the final result of the vote, many women said they believed Argentina would have legal abortion eventually.

    The pope, who remains deeply involved in the politics of his home country, has made no secret of his opposition to the bill. On Monday, the Clarín daily newspaper reported that Francis had asked anti-abortion legislators to pressure fellow lawmakers to reject the bill.

    Despite a recent survey that showed 71% of Argentinians opposed political interference by the church, leading Catholic authorities have spoken out recently against the bill….

  239. says

    “Tribune Media ends $3.9 billion merger deal with Sinclair”:

    Tribune Media has filed a lawsuit against Sinclair Broadcast Group and bailed out of the long-pending sale agreement in the face of opposition from the FCC and questions about whether Sinclair tried to mislead the government with its divestiture plan.

    Tribune cited Sinclair’s “unnecessarily aggressive and protracted negotiations with the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission” in the regulatory review of the merger as the reason for the suit, filed Thursday in Delaware Chancery Court….

  240. says

    From the Manafort trial:

    Prosecutors just filed a motion for a “curative instruction” — yesterday, in front of the jury, the judge had gotten upset that a govt witness sat in on the trial, which the judge said he usually did not permit. But the govt said the judge prev. okay’d it

    There have been a number of tense exchanges between the judge and prosecutors — some in front of the jury, some not — but this is the first time the govt has asked for an instruction like this. They argue the court incorrectly suggested to the jury the govt “acted improperly”

    During this exchange yesterday, the prosecutor told the judge he had granted permission earlier and that the transcript would show that. The judge had still gotten upset and told the govt not to do it again. In today’s motion, they attached the segment of that transcript

    Heading into the courtroom now, we’ll see how the judge responds. Stay tuned.

  241. says

    “Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Picks a Very Strange Fight with Canada”:

    …President Trump’s support, and a personal connection to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, may have caused M.B.S. to feel that he has impunity to do as he pleases on the global stage. Trump’s first stop on his inaugural foreign trip as President was in Saudi Arabia, a visit orchestrated—with much fanfare—by the crown prince. Unlike the government in Canada, the Trump Administration has shied away from invoking human-rights issues with the Saudis, despite a graphic State Department report, released in April, detailing the sweeping scope of violations in the kingdom. The section on Saudi Arabia in the State Department’s 2017 Human Rights Report runs long—more than fifty pages. It cites the most significant abuses as torture; arbitrary arrest; unlawful killings; execution without requisite due process; restrictions on freedom of expression, religion, and peaceful assembly; trafficking in persons; violence and discrimination against women; criminalization of same-sex sexual activity; and the inability of its people to choose a government through free and fair elections.

    Jamal Khashoggi, a former Saudi editor now in exile in Washington, said that the crown prince has already become more authoritarian than any of the previous six kings who have ruled since 1953, when Ibn Saud, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, died. “Today he is in charge of Saudi Arabia. He thinks everyone should treat him as such,” Khashoggi told me.

    During the past year, M.B.S. has run an intensive charm offensive in the United States and Europe—courting political leaders, tech titans, celebrities, society names, and academics. At the same time, the crown prince is behind the most aggressive foreign policy since Ibn Saud conquered rival tribes on the Arabian Peninsula to create the current kingdom. The gambits in international affairs by M.B.S., who is the first member of the royal family’s third generation to be chosen as heir, have been widely criticized.

    M.B.S. is also daring to confront Western nations, including countries important to Saudi security and economic development….

  242. says

    Update – “Judge Tells Jury ‘Put Aside’ His Criticism of Manafort Trial Prosecutors”:

    After being chastised repeatedly by U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis in front of the jury during Paul Manafort’s ongoing trial in Virginia, the prosecutors arguing the case appear to have had enough. On Thursday, they filed a court filing taking issue with Ellis’s outburst over a government witness who had watched the full trial before being called to the stand.

    Ellis told the jury Thursday morning to “put aside any criticism” of the prosecutors. “I sometimes make mistakes,” Ellis said.

    Asonye brought up the court filing to Ellis at the beginning of THursday’s proceedings. “You’re to put that aside,” Ellis told the jury about the issue. “I may well have been wrong.”

  243. quotetheunquote says

    @SC #367
    Well, that sucks. After Ireland passed a law (Ireland!), I was hopeful about Argentina – I thought they’d be a little less under the papal thumb. Back to the 1950’s, everyone…

  244. says

    “Revealed: detail of exclusive Russian deal offered to Arron Banks in Brexit run-up”:

    The full details of Russia’s gold deal offer to Arron Banks ahead of the EU referendum are revealed in a leaked document which mentions exclusive “opportunities not available to others” and support from a Kremlin bank.

    A seven-slide presentation, seen for the first time, shows how Banks – the main donor behind Leave.EU – was offered the chance of making potentially enormous profits in a deal featuring a Russian gold company.

    The offer was made through Alexander Yakovenko, Russia’s ambassador in London.

    Some MPs have said it raises new questions about Moscow’s role in Brexit, and whether the Kremlin sought to enrich leading Brexit campaigners in the run-up to the 2016 referendum via a series of covert business deals.

    Though Banks consistently downplayed his contacts with senior Russians before and after the referendum, in recent weeks he has been forced to concede there were a number of meetings – including with Alexander Udod, a diplomat later expelled from the UK for suspected spying.

    The exact details of the offer are revealed for the first time in a document obtained by the Dossier Center, an investigative unit funded by Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an exiled critic of Vladimir Putin.

    The Labour MP Ben Bradshaw has queried in parliament Russia’s involvement in Brexit. He said these “new revelations beg the question why the Kremlin would offer Mr Banks sweetheart business deals”.

    Ben Bradshaw says the UK government should establish an inquiry similar to the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the US. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

    Bradshaw said the government should establish an inquiry, similar to the investigation in the US led by the special prosecutor Robert Mueller into Russia’s role in subverting the 2016 presidential election. Failing that, it should task the National Crime Agency and the police to investigate.

    “Mr Banks has not been fully open about the extent of his dealings with the Russian embassy and the people they put him in touch with,” Bradshaw said.

    Bob Seely, a Conservative MP, said Banks’s links to the Russian state have yet to be fully explained. “What was he offered, when and why? I don’t believe Russian officials offer sweetheart deals for investment to any random individual,” he said.

    He added: “Why did they offer this deal to Banks, and were there quid pro quos?”

    An investigation by Dossier suggests Yakovenko and Povarenko coordinated their pitch to Banks….

  245. blf says

    As a reminder, keep yer eye on the dummies ! Dummie central and many of their acolytes are also suspiciously-tending towards pure evil, Louisiana’s Democratic governor an ally at influential rightwing conference:

    Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the south, might seem like an awkward fit for the 45th annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) — but he says they have much in common.

    Alec began its conference in New Orleans on Wednesday, bringing its usual agenda of pro-privatization, pro-fossil fuel and anti-union legislation in tow.

    The rightwing organization links corporate lobbyists with state lawmakers from across the country to collectively craft model legislation that representatives are then encouraged to take back to their home states and introduce as their own.


    The technically non-partisan Alec skews heavily Republican — but Edwards was right at home. Not only is Edwards an Alec alumni from his time as a state legislator, he’s also been a torchbearer for Alec-sponsored legislation as governor, having signed at least three bills the group takes credit for inspiring.


    One of those Alec-sponsored bills signed by Edwards is legislation that ratchets up criminal penalties for causing damage to so called critical infrastructure, which in Louisiana includes oil pipelines.


    “They want to make the penalty for civil disobedience one that would deter anyone from engaging in it,” said Anne Rolfes, the founder of the Louisiana Bucket Brigade. Her organization has been fighting the construction of a similar [to Standing Rock] pipeline project, named Bayou Bridge, which is currently being built across most of the state’s porous southern coast.


    Alec, by way of its deep ties with big energy companies, has long embraced climate denial science as well. In 2008, [Louisiana] passed a bill containing language from an Alec model bill that requires educators to teach climate change denial as a valid scientific position.

    The last time Alec held its conference in Louisiana, a state that is losing a football field worth of land to the Gulf of Mexico every hour to rising seas and petroleum production, a speaker went so far as to extoll the benefits of atmospheric CO2 gas as an amazing compound from which humanity and the rest of the biosphere will prosper.

    While commonly described as a lobbying group — indeed it’s hard to describe its activities as anything but — Alec is legally classified as a non-profit. This means that not only are many of its activities shielded from public view in ways that lobbying is not, but that corporations can literally write off their Alec sponsorships as charity. The luncheon Edwards spoke at was sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

    Though the legislative group is nearly a half-century old, the extent of its influence in statehouses was largely unrecognized until a 2011 Center for Media and Democracy investigation exposed the extent to which laws being proposed all over the nation were literally cut and pasted, large sections verbatim, from Alec models.

    More recently, the organization saw a flood of corporate sponsors rush out during the public outcry in the Trayvon Martin case, after it was revealed that the Alec was instrumental in pushing the stand your ground legislation that allowed Martin’s killer to initially avoid arrest.

    [… A Common Cause Louisiana August 2018 report (PDF) stated] “Although the bills cover a wide range of special interests, the underlying theme is their propensity to satisfy corporate needs.”

  246. says

    SC @380, Chain migration!

    blf @381, ALEC is evil. They have succeeded, in part, by writing legislation so that lazy state and federal elected officials don’t have to write bills. The bills that ALEC writes are mostly penned by the lobbyists of large corporations. Anyone can see that this process does not resemble democracy.

    In many states, Utah for example, the state pays for elected officials to attend ALEC conferences.

  247. says

    Rudy Giuliani is a standup comic, right? Just a laugh a minute:

    Giuliani told Axios that there are two topics the president’s lawyers want to rule out in order to agree to a Trump sit-down with Mueller:

    1. Why Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

    2. What Trump said to Comey about the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

    Giuliani mentioned those as if they were minor details — totally reasonable areas for Mueller to agree to avoid.


  248. says

    Follow-up to comments 225, 230, 240 and 241.

    Trump’s abject stupidity and ignorance when it comes to wildfires has led to new administration policy:

    Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross ordered the National Marine Fisheries Service to “facilitate access to the water” needed to fight ongoing wildfires, rather than continue to provide some of it for protecting endangered species, such as chinook salmon.

    The policy directive follows tweets President Trump sent that were met with confusion by California officials, including firefighters, who said the state has more than enough water to combat the blazes.


    FFS, didn’t anyone tell Trump how wrong he was? From Steve Benen: “So, the Trump administration wants to provide additional water to officials who’ve already made clear that they don’t need more water, in response to confused tweets from an amateur president.”

    More from Steve Benen:

    […] There’s been an ongoing dispute over water flowing into San Francisco Bay to support wildlife – including some endangered species – and there are plenty who’ve argued the water should instead be used to support agriculture in the area.

    What does this have to do with fighting fires? By all accounts, nothing, though Trump doesn’t seem to understand that.

    That said, the administration’s new directive “appears to prioritize firefighting needs above water allocation requirements under the Endangered Species Act.”

    And that raises a separate question. It’s easy to point and laugh at Trump’s ignorance, and his willingness to flaunt his confusion, but if the president’s latest position is part of a larger campaign against the Endangered Species Act and wildlife protections, it’s no laughing matter.


  249. says

    Kate Riga, writing for Talking Points Memo, discussed the biggest takeaways from the audio of Representative Devin Nunes. (See comments 362, 363 and 364 from SC.)

    1) Nunes is worried that without the blind and unconditional protection of a Republican majority, the President will be in serious legal jeopardy from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.

    “This puts us in such a tough spot. If Sessions won’t unrecuse and Mueller won’t clear the President, we’re the only ones, which is really the danger…We have to keep all these seats, we have to keep the majority. We do not keep the majority, all of this goes away.”

    2) Though their attempts seem to have petered out for now, there is still will from at least some faction of the Republican caucus to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

    “The Senate would have to drop everything they’re doing and start with impeachment on Rosenstein, and then take the risk of not getting Kavanaugh confirmed. So it’s not a matter that any of us like Rosenstein, it’s a matter of timing.”

    3) Nunes stated strongly that a politician disseminating stolen information given to him or her by a foreign entity is a crime (which sounds an awful lot like what the President, his family members and his associates may have done). In his hypothetical, Nunes is using Portugal as the foreign entity and Rodgers as the receiver.

    “So Cathy was getting secret information from the Portuguese—that may or may not be unusual. But ultimately, let’s say that the Portuguese came and brought her some stolen e-mailed and she decided to release those. Okay now we have a problem, right? Because somebody stole the emails, gave them to Cathy, Cathy released them. Well if that’s the case, that’s criminal.”

    4) On a less serious note: Even Nunes, one of Trump’s most stalwart defenders, sometimes cringes at the President’s tweets:

    “…you know you have a mixed bag on the tweets right? Sometimes we love the President’s tweets and sometimes we cringe on the President’s tweets, but they’re trying to make a political—this is all political as to why that story ran the “New York Times” on the tweets.” […]

  250. says

    Today Trump tweeted:

    Space Force all the way!

    I have a very tiny amount of pity for Mike Pence:

    […] Mike Pence has been given the task of creating a sixth military service that will be “separate but equal.” Considering that term is coming from Trump, it likely means that he intends his new monster-squad to be segregated. And apparently Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is now on board with the idea of turning the “military’s space warfighting forces” over to this new command, damn the expense. Which might lead some people to say … what space warfighting forces? Because … what? […]

    Creating a new branch of the military, with all the outrageous waste of funds that entails, is the job of Congress. But considering that Devin Nunes has already made it clear that Congress’s #1 job is bending over for Trump, the question should only be if those spacesuits are going to be white, or gold lamé. Emphasis on lame.

    As it turns out, one minute before Trump made his Space Force! tweet, CNN ran a segment on what a waste Space Force would be. So … maybe Trump is sneaking a peek at Melania’s TV.

    According to Pence, space was “once peaceful and uncontested” but is now “crowded and adversarial.” […]

    While there are certainly space-related issues that concern defense, such as ICBMs that travel out of the atmosphere before arcing back to Earth, and we really should be, and are, keeping an eye out for near-Earth asteroids, it’s hard to see how any possible scenario benefits from Trump’s “Space Force” plan.

    Someone at Mar-a-Lago must be lined up for a profit. Or Sean Hannity is playing a joke on Trump in their late-night chitchats. […]


  251. blf says

    There’s a famous chain of shops in Ireland known as Dunnes Stores, who are also infamous for being clewless. Perhaps the best-known incident was the three year strike over the selling of then-apartheid S.African products:

    In 1984, Mary Manning, a shop worker in the Henry Street, Dublin outlet, made international headlines when she led a picket for almost three years against the sale by Dunnes of oranges sourced in the then apartheid South Africa, in which Christy Moore wrote a song about the issue [Dunnes Stores (audio) –blf]. The Irish Government eventually banned all imports from South Africa until the end of apartheid. [this was the “first complete ban of [apartheid] South African imports by a Western government –blf] The workers eventually met Nelson Mandela on the occasion of his conferral of the Freedom of the City of Dublin in 1990. A plaque presented by South African President Thabo Mbeki, commemorating the action, was unveiled in Dublin in June, 2008, and a street has been named after Mary in Johannesburg. Manning was invited to attend the Funeral of Nelson Mandela in 2013.

    The striking workers were also invited to visit S.Africa by Desmond Tutu, but were refused entry by the then-still-apartheid S.African “government” (in 1985, and was perhaps the critical event eventually resulting in the complete ban).

    Dunnes is showing its clewlessness yet again, Decision by Dunnes to appeal €15,000 award to ex-worker backfires:

    Labour Court doubles payment to woman deemed to have faced discrimination from firm

    A decision by Dunnes Stores to appeal a €15,000 award to an assistant manager who was dismissed after being on sick leave for two years has backfired.

    The Labour Court decided to double the sum granted by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to Mary Doyle Guidera to €30,000 after finding the company had discriminated against her on the grounds of her disability.


  252. says

    Sanctions, from the Russian point of view:

    New U.S. sanctions against Russia are “absolutely illegal” under international law, a spokesman for the Kremlin said Thursday after news of the penalties sent the Russian currency plummeting.

    The fresh set of sanctions are the result of a just-concluded investigation into Russia’s alleged use of the illegal nerve agent Novichok in an assassination attempt against ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia Skripal in the United Kingdom. The sanctions are set to take effect at the end of August and come on the heels of President Donald Trump’s much-criticized meeting last month with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov slammed the economic penalties but maintained that Russian finances are “stable,” according to Reuters. Russia has denied any involvement in the attack against the Skripals.

    “Making a linking to these events is for us unacceptable and such restrictions like those passed by the American side earlier… are absolutely illegal and do not correspond to international law,” Peskov said, according to Reuters. […]


  253. says

    ICE officials lied:

    Immigration and Customs Enforcement repeatedly lied in an attempt to convince a news outlet that a crash – involving a van transporting eight Central American mothers who’d been separated from their children – never happened.

    The Texas Observer revealed the deceit in a report Wednesday, in which it presented a detailed police report and interviews with some of the mothers to establish what really happened:

    According to a police report obtained by the Observer and individual interviews with four of the passengers, the crash occurred as the group was leaving a Sunoco gas station just off Interstate 35. The van’s driver was an employee of Trailboss Enterprises, an Alaska-based company that provides transportation for ICE in Central and South Texas. The driver failed to come to a stop and T-boned an F-250 that was entering the gas station, police said. The mothers told the Observer the impact slammed them against the seats in front of them, resulting in headaches, dizziness, nausea and injury to one woman’s leg, which began swelling immediately.

    Two days after the crash, an ICE spokesperson, Leticia Zamarripa, told the Observer: “Your sources misinformed you.”

    “There was no crash,” Zamarripa said.

    Informed later that the paper had obtained a contradictory police report, ICE tried a different tactic.

    The incident was a “fender bender not vehicle crash,” ICE spokesperson Adelina Pruneda told the paper, one that “resulted in minor damage to both vehicles.”

    That was also at odds with the police report, which called the damage to the van “disabling,” and said it was towed from the scene. […]


  254. says

    A judge in Arkansas makes $147,000 a year for turning poor people into indentured servants.

    District Judge Mark Derrick is running an egregiously unconstitutional debtors’ prison and bragging about it, a new lawsuit documents.

    The dirt-poor residents of a hardscrabble Arkansas county are routinely sent to jail for being broke by a judge who earns $147,000 a year.

    District Judge Mark Derrick routinely violates core principles of the Constitution and sometimes even flouts black-letter laws of the state itself, a lawsuit filed Thursday by the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law says.

    Derrick’s practices help keep the White County Detention Center filled to bursting. Although the Constitution forbids the jailing of people simply for being too poor to pay fines, and laws therefore require judges to ascertain a person’s realistic ability to repay court debts before establishing fine levels and repayment schedules, thousands of people unlucky enough to get a traffic ticket or other minor violation in Derrick’s 23rd Judicial District have been repeatedly tossed into cells for missing payments scheduled without any regard for their income, the suit says.

    For every three days Kimberly Snodgrass has been alive in the past four years, she’s spent one in the White County jail thanks to Derrick’s practices. Snodgrass is one of six named plaintiffs in the suit, but lawyers are bringing it as a class action on behalf of what they say are more than 20,000 similarly afflicted locals. […]

    Much more at the link.

  255. says

    Trump is still pushing a lie that has been debunked dozens of times (if not more):

    Nearly a week into his “working vacation” at a private New Jersey club he still owns and profits from, President Donald Trump deployed a blatant lie to rail against special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

    “This is an illegally brought Rigged Witch Hunt run by people who are totally corrupt and/or conflicted,” Trump tweeted on Thursday. “It was started and paid for by Crooked Hillary and the Democrats. Phony Dossier, FISA disgrace and so many lying and dishonest people already fired. 17 Angry Dems? Stay tuned!”

    Trump and his legal team have frequently insisted the FBI’s investigation of his campaign beginning with a partially unverified intelligence dossier put together by a former British spy named Christopher Steele. During an appearance on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show on Wednesday evening, the claim was literally the first words out of the mouth of Trump’s lead attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

    “This is a totally illegitimate investigation based on a report, a dossier, that was paid for by Hillary Clinton and the Democrats,” Giuliani said. “Probably the biggest illegality so far, the biggest collusion so far — completely made up.”

    There’s one big problem: Trump and Giuliani’s talking point is transparently false. The FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign did not begin with the Steele dossier. It actually started in July 2016, when WikiLeaks published emails hacked from the Democratic National Committee. That prompted an Australian diplomat to come forward and report that a Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, bragged to him months earlier about having advanced knowledge that Russia “had political dirt on Hillary Clinton.” […]

    It’s not just Trump and Giuliani. During a press briefing earlier this month, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also falsely claimed the Mueller investigation “is based on a dirty, discredited dossier.” […]


  256. says

    Oh, FFS. Are you interested in voting for a “Space Force” logo? Well you can.

    President Trump’s campaign on Thursday latched onto the administration’s formal announcement of a proposed “Space Force,” asking supporters to vote on a logo that will be displayed on merchandise.

    An email from the campaign asks supporters to vote on one of six logos that will be emblazoned on future Trump campaign items. Users can pick a logo, then are prompted to make a donation to the Trump campaign.

    Each of the six proposed logos includes the phrase “Space Force,” except for one that states “Mars Awaits” even though the administration’s proposal focuses on defense and not space exploration. One option also appears to be a repurposed version of the NASA logo. […][


  257. says

    An “all the best people” detail not to be missed: recently indicted Representative, Republican Chris Collins, used campaign funds (donations to his campaign fund) to pay for legal services. Collins has been doing that for over a year. He just announced that he will stop doing that and that he will start paying for his legal services out of his own pocket.

    He got caught. He made a change.

    Makes you wonder what donors to Republican campaigns think they are getting for their money.

  258. says

    This is a schadenfreude moment: Jeff Sessions was threatened with contempt of court.

    A federal judge in Washington, DC, threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt of court after learning that the Trump administration was in the process of deporting a woman and her daughter, in the midst of their asylum case being heard in court, the Washington Post reported.

    US District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan halted the deportation Thursday, calling it “outrageous” that “someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her.”

    The judge was reportedly furious when American Civil Liberties Union lawyers were informed that their plaintiff — a woman identified in court papers as Carmen — and her daughters had been taken out of family detention in Texas and were possibly being taken to the airport to be flown out of the country. The Department of Justice had agreed to delay deportation hearings for Carmen until midnight on Thursday so her lawyers could appeal her removal orders in court. […]

  259. says

    Update from the Paul Manafort trial: Paul Manafort trial Day 8: Banker says Manafort wouldn’t have gotten $3.4 million loan if bank knew NYC condo was rental.

    […] Paul Manafort would not have gotten a $3.4 million loan in March 2015 against his lower Manhattan condo if the bank had known the property was a rental rather than a second home, Citizens Bank Vice President Peggy Miceli said.

    “The loan was way over the maximum” for an investment property rather than a home, she said, which is $1 million. Special exceptions can be made but there’s a process for that, Miceli testified, She could not recall the maximum loan ever given for an investment property but said, “it’s not a lot.”

    The loan Manafort got also allowed him to take cash out from the bank, and Miceli testified that was not allowed for loans against investment properties.

    If the bank had known Manafort had said on his taxes that the property was available for rent all year, she said, “We would determine it was an investment property.”

    She said the bank would also want to know if a letter indicating a $1.5 million loan to Manafort from Peranova Holdings was forgiven in 2015 — adding to his cash flow — had been written in 2016 and backdated.

    “Yes,” she said. “We would question it.” […]

    We don’t usually have sympathy for bankers, but in this case, it does look like the bankers are the good guys and that Manafort cheated them.

  260. says

    Jim Sciutto: “Heads-up: Prosecutors in #ManafortTrial say they discussed ‘new’ details about their ‘ongoing criminal investigation’ into Russia’s interference in 2016 presidential election & possible coordination with the Trump campaign, ask court to keep Tuesday discussion secret.”

    I don’t understand.

  261. says

    Ah – “Mueller request signals Gates may still be cooperating”:

    A court filing from special counsel Robert Mueller signals that Rick Gates may be assisting the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election beyond the case against Paul Manafort.

    In a filing Thursday, Mueller’s team said it wanted to keep secret a discussion between trial attorneys and Judge T.S. Ellis regarding a question to Gates secret because the transcript of the conversation would “reveal details of the ongoing investigation.”…

  262. says

    I watched the “Documenting Hate: Charlottesville” episode of Frontline. Can be watched in full online (at least in the US). Outstanding journalism.

    I’m remembering that day last year. I was watching AM Joy when the rally started. My posts here at 11:31, 11:39, and 11:41 were:

    “…Joy Reid is covering the rally that’s happening now. The Nazis attacked the counter-demonstrators with weapons while she was talking live with one of the counter-demonstrators. One of the organizers told Reid that the Nazis are specifically going after the anarcho-syndicalists, but also members of the clergy and others. The state police don’t seem to be getting involved. It’s a tense situation….”

    “It’s violent. Don’t know where the police are….”

    “There are people with guns!”

    Seeing the PBS documentary I’m still astonished that the police just stood there. Even if you accept that they didn’t receive adequate intelligence prior to the event, the violence was happening right in front of them. They’ve still offered no response or explanation.

  263. says

    Jacob Soboroff:

    BREAKING: Trump administration says of 2,551 migrant kids 559 *still* separated from parents.

    386 have parents *already* deported.

    They’ve heard from parents of 299 in last week.

    They don’t have info *at all* for parents of 26.

    They still haven’t filed a plan to reunite any.

  264. Oggie. says

    I really wish I could make shit like this up. I guess I am just limited in my imagination:

    President Donald Trump’s in-laws are officially United States citizens, obtaining their citizenship through the sponsorship of their adult daughter, one of the very categories of family visas that the administration has sought to end.
    ( From CNN

    Does not surprise me. I would never have been able to imagine that story line but, now that it is out, it does not surprise me.

  265. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says


    They had to do that before the new restrictions kick in. After all they have a daughter who lives in public housing.

  266. says


    I have just authorized a doubling of Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum with respect to Turkey as their currency, the Turkish Lira, slides rapidly downward against our very strong Dollar! Aluminum will now be 20% and Steel 50%. Our relations with Turkey are not good at this time!

    Quoted @ #308 above:

    [… State Department spokeswoman Heather] Nauert suggested the Canadian government could have handled the issue better.

    “Some of these issues we choose to discuss privately with our friends, with our partners, with our allies” […]

  267. says

    Julia Davis:

    #Russia’s state TV:
    Vitaly Tretyakov, dean of Moscow State University’s School of Television, argues that Russia should act decisively in response to the new sanctions. “Let’s turn this into a headache for Trump. If you want us to support you in the elections, do what we say.”

  268. says


    More detailed translation of what Tretyakov says re: sanctions (shortened in the original Tweet due to character constraints):
    “Let’s turn this into a headache for Trump. If you want us to support you in the elections, which we’re ostensibly arranging, then do this or that.”

  269. blf says

    In India, Right to Information: Concern grows over proposed changes to law (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    [&helip; A] draft bill seeks to amend the landmark act [RTI (Right to Information), “similar to the US’ Freedom of Information Act” –blf], which was signed into law in 2005.

    Activists say the government is aiming to throttle the act, which enables all citizens to access information held by public authorities, improving accountability and transparency.

    Circulated in July, the bill seeks to weaken the autonomy of the bodies, known as the Information Commissions, that oversee implementation of the law.

    The government has told MPs it wants to amend the current law so it can decide the tenure, salaries and other allowances of Information Commissions officials — the final adjudicators on information requests.

    “This is a way to control the information commissioners who control the information flow. We need to fight this. This is one of the best laws we have, any amendments will weaken it,” Shailesh Gandhi, a former Information Commissioner tells Al Jazeera.

    “With these proposed changes, they could keep extending tenures of those officials who are amenable to the government of the day. The truth is that a great number of these officials anyway toe the government line. Some break away and dispense information dispassionately. These new amendments can be a way to control such officials. This is likely going to lead to other amendments,” he added.


    An estimated five to eight million RTI applications are filed every year.


    More than 70 RTI users have been killed since the act was signed into law 18 years ago, according to the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.

    In the same period, there have been at least 300 assaults and 179 cases of harassment relating to the act, the organisation said.

    Activists trying to expose sour government deals — from illegal sand mining and alleged tampering of electronic voting machines, to corruption in local government — are among those who have been targeted.

    “Most of these people {who have been killed were} based in small towns and villages. They were trying to expose wrongdoing by authorities and local goons and they suffered for it,” Venkatesh Nayak at the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, an international NGO that tracks RTI implementation, tells Al Jazeera.


    More than 25 percent of 146 posts in the Information Commissions are vacant. On July 27, the government’s Department of Personnel and Training announced in an advert that the salaries and tenure of RTI Information Commissioners will be specified at time of appointment.

    This move was interpreted as the government pre-empting the amendment, by interfering in details the that current law does not allow it to manage.

    “They are trying to widen the ambit of what information should not be given out. In the last two or three years, there has been a dip in the number of RTI applications filed because the government, courts and commissioners have in tandem said they do not wish to give out information in many cases,” says former commissioner Gandhi.

    In recent weeks, activists across India have protested against the proposals.

    Opposition parties have demanded that the bill should not be tabled in parliament in its current form.


    Filing an RTI is easy: citizens put in their information requests to a state office. The federal law mandates the office to respond in 30 days.

    But activists say that currently, some responses are not being sent within 30 days, if at all.

    “Everybody in power dislikes transparency. In many parts, RTI users are branded as blackmailers and extortionists — this needs to stop,” says former commissioner Gandhi.


  270. says

    “The alt-right is debating whether to try to look less like Nazis”:

    Tensions are flaring between two warring camps inside the alt-right movement ahead of their planned march on the White House Sunday: those who think they should try to look a little less like anti-Semites and racists, and those who think that would make them a bunch of “optics-cucks.”

    “We need to remain in the realm of the hip, cool, sexy, fun,” wrote Andrew Anglin, a neo-Nazi who runs the white supremacist website the Daily Stormer, urging his readers not to attend the rally. “We need to speak to the culture. We do not want the image of being a bunch of weird losers who march around like assholes while completely outnumbered and get mocked by the entire planet.”

    But others, like white supremacist Christopher Cantwell (who was recently barred from entering the state of Virginia for five years), disagree. In a blog post earlier this year, he wrote that those within the white supremacist movement should “become Republicans, not revolutionaries,” but added, “This is not to say we should descend into optics cucking. Far from it. Anyone who dares punch right” — as in, anyone who criticizes those who wear neo-Nazi regalia to rallies or uses white supremacist slogans in public — “should be descended upon with all of the venom we can muster.”…

  271. says

    Zoe Tillman:

    It’s been an unusual morning in the Manafort trial. Judge came in at 9:45, immediately called the lawyers to the bench (no jury). ~15 min. later, judge announced he was taking a recess. About 50 minutes later (11:05), he came back, called the jury in — and said he’d recess again

    We haven’t been told what’s going on. At one point, a court security officer was called over to the bench conference, which is unusual. Before we recessed, the judge repeated his instruction to the jury not to discuss the case w/ anyone, and to keep an open mind until the end

    The judge told the jury he was recessing now because he had other matters on his docket that he needed to attend to. We’ll reconvene at 1:45pm.

  272. says

    From the Associated Press:

    In central Kentucky, GOP Rep. Andy Barr is reminding voters that Amy McGrath, a former fighter pilot, voted for President Barack Obama and opposes Trump’s proposed border wall. In suburban Pennsylvania, vulnerable Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick has warned of “a border in crisis” and demanded a surge of immigration enforcement agents.

    And in New Jersey, Republican Rep. Leonard Lance featured an ad in which Democrat opponent Tom Malinowski calls himself a “lifelong progressive Democrat” over and over. Lance also warns of his “dangerous policies” like abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. […]

    Republicans, clinging to a 23-seat majority in the House, have made the House minority leader a central element of their attack ads and are portraying many of their opponents as inextricably tied to the liberal from San Francisco [Nancy Pelosi].

    From Steve Benen:

    […] after nearly two years of attempts at governing, with their party controlling all of the levers of federal power for the first time in a decade, the Republican message is still little more than, “Nancy Pelosi is bad and immigrants are scary.”

    I guess they are not campaigning on the fact that they want to impeach Rod Rosenstein … not campaigning out loud on that.

    I guess they are not campaigning on their tax breaks for wealthy people and for big corporations.

    I guess they are not campaigning on their successful efforts to damage the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

  273. says

    Undoing some of Scott Pruitt’s efforts, via the courts:

    A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that the Trump administration endangered public health by keeping the widely used pesticide chlorpyrifos on the market despite extensive scientific evidence that even tiny levels of exposure can harm babies’ brains.

    The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to remove chlorpyrifos from sale in the United States within 60 days.

    NBC News link

    Pruitt was not just corrupt, he was incompetent. As it turns out, he did not have the authority to ignore the findings of his own agency. In November 2015, EPA scientists concluded that, “There is a breadth of information available on the potential adverse neurodevelopmental effects in infants and children as a result of prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos.”

    Pruitt’s successor, Andrew Wheeler, is not as incompetent. We should all be worried. From the New York Times:

    In his first three weeks on the job, Andrew Wheeler, the acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency, has sought to halt two major efforts by his predecessor, Scott Pruitt, to roll back environmental regulations, arguing that the policies are legally vulnerable, according to people who have heard his reasoning.

    Mr. Wheeler’s actions signal a strategic shift at the E.P.A., an agency at the heart of President Trump’s push to strip away regulations on industry. Under Mr. Pruitt, who resigned July 5 under a cloud of ethics investigations, the agency pushed for ambitious but fast-paced rollbacks of environmental rules. At least a half-dozen of those have been struck down by federal courts.

    Mr. Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who served as Mr. Pruitt’s deputy, has brought a more disciplined approach to dismantling environmental rules. It is an approach that may take longer, but it may be more effective in standing up to the inevitable legal challenges.

    So Wheeler is less sloppy. As Benen wrote: “Wheeler intends to be competent where Pruitt was incompetent, in the hope of creating regressive policies that endure. For environmentalists, this is a scary prospect.”

    I will also note that scientists who advise the EPA have been replaced in some instances by political appointees.

  274. says

    Automatic voter registration in Massachusetts:

    Hundreds of thousands of new voters could join the state’s rolls in the coming years after Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation that adopts automatic voter registration — one in a flurry of bills that became law Thursday […]

    Under the new law, eligible residents who interact with the Registry of Motor Vehicles or the MassHealth program will have to opt out if they don’t want to join the voter rolls, rather than opt in. The law also allows the secretary of state to reach agreements with state agencies to automatically register voters if they meet certain criteria, potentially further expanding the net the state can cast to reach eligible residents.

    Boston Globe link

  275. says

    Steve Benen discussed team Trump’s promotion of a “Space Force”:

    […] It’s tempting not to take any of this seriously. The trouble is, the Trump administration is now taking the idea very seriously. Indeed, Pence called for the United States to spend $8 billion on the Space Force endeavor.

    There’s no shortage of questions that have no answers. We don’t know, for example, how the administration intends to overcome congressional opposition to creating another military branch. We don’t know the degree to which this endeavor may conflict with existing U.S. treaty obligations. We don’t know why the White House is ignoring the Pentagon, which is reportedly quite skeptical of the idea.

    And as the Washington Post’s Robert Costa noted, we also don’t know which private-sector entities “stand to profit from a major military expansion into space.” (One wonders whether some of these companies’ executives are members at Mar-a-Lago.)

    We do know, however, that Trump thinks “Space Force” sounds cool, which is why it’s become a routine applause line in each of the president’s recent campaign rallies.

    But what’s often lost in the conversation is the fact that the idea, by the president’s own admission, started as an offhand joke. Trump said in March, describing a conversation with White House staff, “You know, I was saying it the other day, because we are doing a tremendous amount of work in space. I said, ‘Maybe we need a new force. We’ll call it Space Force.” And I was not really serious. Then I said. ‘What a great idea. Maybe we’ll have to do that.’”

    Five months later, the idea Trump was “not really serious” about has become an $8 billion proposal.