Discuss: Political Madness All the Time


Lynna is your curator. How are you all holding up, America? Not well, I guess, since this is the hardest working thread ever.

(Previous thread)

Comments

  1. blf says

    Joy Harjo is first Native American named US poet laureate:

    Oklahoma-born, Muscogee Creek Nation member who helped tell an ‘American story’ has been in the wings for a long time
    […]
    Her appointment was announced on Wednesday by the librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, who said in a statement that Harjo helped tell an “American story” of traditions both lost and maintained, of “reckoning and myth-making”.

    Harjo’s term is for one year and she succeeds Tracy K Smith, who served two terms. The position is officially called Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, with a $35,000 stipend.

    Harjo will have few specific responsibilities, but other laureates have launched initiatives, most recently Smith’s tour of rural communities around the country. “I don’t have a defined project right now, but I want to bring the contribution of poetry of the tribal nations to the forefront and include it in the discussion of poetry,” says Harjo.

    […]

  2. says

    Julia Davis:

    State Department official in charge of U.S. arms control negotiations with Moscow didn’t disclose ties to the boyfriend of Russian agent Maria Butina to her superiors or to Congress during her confirmation process in the spring of 2018.

    Paul Erickson—former boyfriend of convicted unregistered Russian agent Maria Butina—officiated the wedding of Andrea Thompson, the undersecretary of state for arms control & int’l security affairs, who was serving as national security adviser to VP Pence.

    Andrea Thompson’s failure to disclose her contacts and her husband’s business dealings with Erickson is viewed as a serious lack of judgment — considering that her former boss Michael Flynn was fired for lying about his contacts with Russian officials.

    Paul Erickson—former boyfriend of convicted unregistered Russian agent Maria Butina—officiated the wedding of Andrea Thompson, the undersecretary of state for arms control & int’l security affairs, who was serving as national security adviser to VP Pence.

    Andrea Thompson’s failure to disclose her contacts and her husband’s business dealings with Erickson is viewed as a serious lack of judgment — considering that her former boss Michael Flynn was fired for lying about his contacts with Russian officials.

    Oh, BTW, Maria Butina came to the wedding.

  3. says

    TPM – “BREAKING: Judge Wants Another Crack At Census Case After Revelation Of New Evidence”:

    A federal judge wants to reconsider his ruling that the Trump administration’s move to add the census citizenship question was not racially discriminatory, now that the challengers in the case have put forward explosive new evidence that suggests it was.

    U.S. District Judge George Hazel, who presided over the census citizenship case brought in Maryland, issued an order Wednesday that said that the challengers raised a “substantial issue” with the new evidence. It will ultimately be up to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the case has been appealed, to decide whether to send the case back to him so that he can consider changing his ruling in light of the new evidence.

    Hazel order is the latest dramatic turn in what has been an extraordinary legal fight over Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ decision to add the question. It sets the stage for a scenario where the Department of Justice and the question’s legal challengers are still hashing it out over whether the question is discriminatory, even after the Supreme Court rules on other aspects of the question’s legality.

    Whether it stays on the census has incredible consequences for how political power, as well as government resources, are doled out across the country….

    It is unclear how the Hazel’s move could affect the Supreme Court’s own consideration of whether the citizenship question can stay on the census. The high court is expected to decide that issue soon in a separate legal challenge brought against the question in New York.

    Hazel’s order Wednesday was brief and did not say what next steps would be taken if the appeals court sent the case back down to him. He indicated he will issue a longer opinion explaining his decision at a later date.

    Hazel had previously ruled that the administration’s move to add the question violated administrative law and was also a violation of the Constitution’s Enumeration Clause, because it would harm the accuracy of the census. The administration had appealed those two findings, while one of the groups challenging the question in Maryland had appealed his ruling that the question was not a violation of the equal protection clause.

    “Judge Hazel’s ruling is a confirmation that the evidence we have submitted raises a substantial question as to the intentionally discriminatory actions of this administration,” said Denise Hulett, an attorney with group MALDEF, which challenged the question. “The evidence shows an undeniable conspiracy between this administration and others outside the government to jeopardize the accuracy of the census for partisan gain at the expense of Latinos and non citizens of color.”

  4. says

    “Felix Sater set to testify before House Intel panel on Friday”:

    Felix Sater, who served as the chief negotiator for the Trump Tower Moscow project, will testify on Capitol Hill later this week.

    The Russian-born businessman confirmed to POLITICO that he will appear behind closed doors before the House Intelligence Committee on Friday.

    Sater was initially scheduled to testify in March, but the imminent release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election prompted the panel to postpone the interview.

    Lawmakers had initially said the interview — which is expected to focus on the negotiations surrounding the failed Moscow real estate project — would be public. But the panel decided to make it private because the subjects are extremely sensitive and concern national security issues, including Sater’s previous work as an undercover asset for the Defense Intelligence Agency on Russia issues, said a person familiar with the matter….

  5. blf says

    Hilarious! Thousands petition Netflix to cancel Amazon Prime’s Good Omens:

    US Christian group condemns Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s story as making satanism appear normal — but petition wrong company

    More than 20,000 Christians have signed a petition calling for the cancellation of Good Omens, the television series adapted from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s 1990 fantasy novel — unfortunately [sic] addressing their petition to Netflix when the series is made by Amazon Prime.

    The six-part series was released last month, starring David Tennant as the demon Crowley and Michael Sheen as the angel Aziraphale, […] which the Radio Times called “a devilishly funny love letter to the book”.

    But Christians marshalled by the Return to Order campaign, an offshoot of the US Foundation for a Christian Civilisation, disagree. More than 20,000 supporters have signed a petition in which they say that Good Omens is another step to make satanism appear normal, light and acceptable, and mocks God’s wisdom. God, they complain, is voiced by a woman — Frances McDormand — the antichrist is a normal kid and, most importantly, this type of video makes light of Truth, Error, Good and Evil, and destroys the barriers of horror that society still has for the devil. They are calling on Netflix to cancel the show.

    Gaiman responded to the petition on Twitter, writing: “I love that they are going to write to Netflix to try and get #GoodOmens cancelled. Says it all really. This is so beautiful … Promise me you won’t tell them?”

    The publisher and science fiction critic Cheryl Morgan tweeted: “Miraculously God has already done it. Don’t tell them She put it on Amazon instead.”

    […]

    All of which reminds me, I haven’t watched it yet… binge session for this weekend, perhaps?

  6. blf says

    Another entry in the Alls Teh Bester Peoples, Trump’s UN pick under fire for spending 300 days away from current post:

    […]

    The Trump administration’s nominee to be the next US envoy to the United Nations has come under congressional scrutiny for absenteeism after spending more than half her time as ambassador to Canada away from her post.

    Kelly Craft was asked why she spent more than 300 days outside Canada since she took the position in Ottawa in October 2017. In one two-month period between March and May in 2018, Craft was absent from her post 45 out of 54 days […]

    […]

    Craft insisted that all her trips were taken according to state department regulations and argued much of the time was spent negotiating a trade deal with Canada and Mexico in Washington.

    However, an investigation by Politico showed that a private jet registered to Craft’s husband, a US coal magnate, and used by the ambassador, made 128 flights between the US and Canada during a 15-month span of her tenure in Ottawa.

    Seventy of those trips started or ended in Lexington, Kentucky, Craft’s home state. Some of those visits coincided with events there, including the Kentucky Derby and an interview at a basketball stadium named after her husband.

    […]

    The Politico report Trump’s U.N. nominee was ‘absent’ ambassador (link embedded in above excerpt) notes:

    A Democratic aide who has spoken with current and former senior officials in the US government said they depicted the ambassador as “frequently absent from the US Embassy in Ottawa, and in some cases for extended periods of time.” People familiar with Craft’s tenure in Ottawa have told congressional staff that Craft has very little presence on the city’s diplomatic scene, rarely speaking to media or appearing at public events, the Democratic aide told POLITICO.

    “We are concerned that the president has nominated someone who fails to show up at work on a regular basis,” the Democratic aide said.

    In addition, a former US official who is in touch with State Department leaders said Craft was viewed around Foggy Bottom as an “absent ambassador” at the embassy in Ottawa and that the mission was often placed in the hands of her deputy while Craft attended to personal business and domestic politics in the United States.

    Much much more at Politico.

  7. tomh says

    The Senate is busy with more of the best people.

    Bloomberg Law:
    Trump Judicial Pick Opposed by LGBT Community Confirmed

    The U.S. Senate yesterday confirmed the nomination of Matthew Kacsmaryk for a seat on the U.S. District Court for Northern District of Texas by a vote of 52-46.

    Courthouse News summarizes:

    Kacsmaryk has since 2014 served as deputy general counsel at the First Liberty Institute, a legal group that offers free representation to people raising religious liberty claims in court.

    His time at the group has put him at the center of several high-profile clashes between gay rights and religious liberty, which has become an increasing flashpoint in federal courts in recent years.

    This includes work on the case of a couple that owns a bakery in Oregon and refused to make a custom cake for a same-sex wedding.

    More at the link.

  8. blf says

    US joins four rogue countries seen as likely forces for bad, poll finds:

    […]
    The United States has joined Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Iran in a rogue’s gallery of countries perceived as likely to use their influence for bad. All five countries are also seen as less likely to use their influence for good than they were 10 years ago.

    The findings showing that Canada, Germany and the UN are seen as mostly likely to use their international influence for good. The findings are being published to accompany a major speech by the former British foreign secretary David Miliband who argues that international relations are now governed by a new age of impunity in which war crimes and attacks on humanitarian workers are typically left unpunished.

    Miliband, currently president of the International Rescue Committee, will argue that a long retreat of liberal democracy has ushered in a new divide in which some states abide by the rules ushered in after the second world war, and other states regard such international law as for suckers.

    […]

  9. says

    “Feds Tell 9th Circuit: Detained Kids ‘Safe and Sanitary’ Without Soap”:

    The Trump administration argued in front of a Ninth Circuit panel Tuesday that the government is not required to give soap or toothbrushes to children apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border and can have them sleep on concrete floors in frigid, overcrowded cells, despite a settlement agreement that requires detainees be kept in “safe and sanitary” facilities.

    All three judges appeared incredulous during the hearing in San Francisco, in which the Trump administration challenged previous legal findings that it is violating a landmark class action settlement by mistreating undocumented immigrant children at U.S. detention facilities.

    “You’re really going to stand up and tell us that being able to sleep isn’t a question of safe and sanitary conditions?’” U.S. Circuit Judge Marsha Berzon asked the Justice Department’s Sarah Fabian Tuesday.

    U.S. Circuit Judge William Fletcher also questioned the government’s interpretation of the settlement agreement.

    “Are you arguing seriously that you do not read the agreement as requiring you to do anything other than what I just described: cold all night long, lights on all night long, sleeping on concrete and you’ve got an aluminum foil blanket?” Fletcher asked Fabian. “I find that inconceivable that the government would say that that is safe and sanitary.”…

    More at the link. These are evil people.

  10. says

    “The Guardian view on the Tory leadership election: things fall apart”:

    On Thursday evening, after five ballots in eight days among Conservative MPs, the 10 original would-be successors to Theresa May were finally reduced to two: Boris Johnson and, trailing a distant second, the foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt. The two will now face the Tory membership before one of them emerges next month in a postal ballot as the new party leader. For the first time, a prime minister of the UK will be chosen by party grassroots activists. This means the new leader will largely be the choice of middle-class white men over 55 in the south of England who support the death penalty, oppose income redistribution and back a no-deal Brexit.

    It is worth reminding ourselves that this wasn’t supposed to happen…. Fear of the Brexit party has combined with the onward march of the Tory right to blow away old orthodoxies about what kind of person might make a suitable national leader, with Mr Hunt just scraping into the final to represent what remains of centrist Toryism.

    …The most striking thing about the parliamentary phase that ended on Thursday evening is how consistent the successive ballot results were. Mr Johnson led easily on every round and put on votes each time. He is clearly the favourite to win in the members’ ballot and to succeed Mrs May….

    The overall conclusion is that, in the absence of a more compelling centre-right option, the Tory party has made another significant slide to the hard-Brexit right….

    These less hardline MPs presumably rallied to Mr Johnson from a combination of ministerial ambition, the belief that he can save their seats and a hope – flippantly endorsed by George Osborne’s Evening Standard on Thursday – that Mr Johnson is not the hard Brexiter he says he is. Many will be disappointed on all three. Mr Johnson is a chancer, not a strategist. He is one gaffe or scandal away from being a liability rather than an asset. He has no clear Brexit plan and, even if he did, he lacks a majority in parliament. He is, though, the reckless architect of the reckless decision to leave the EU. Assuming that he moves into Downing Street, the Brexiters will at last now have to own their own mess instead of always blaming others for it. This may soon cause fresh miseries for the Tory party and – just possibly – the chance of a less deluded and damaging outcome for the country.

    That’s…extremely optimistic.

  11. says

    CNN – “Democrats amplify calls to subpoena Mueller”:

    Patience is wearing thin over Robert Mueller’s testimony as Democratic members are ratcheting up their calls to subpoena the special counsel.

    Rank-and-file members on the House Judiciary Committee are increasingly saying that it’s time to compel Mueller to testify publicly before their committee, even if he prefers not to appear in such a setting.

    “It is my hope that that’s going to happen in very short order,” said Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, when asked if the committee should subpoena Mueller. “I think there is still some hope that there will be an agreement reached that the special counsel will come voluntarily, but I think the chairman has made it very clear that he intends to be certain that the American people hear from Mr. Mueller, and if that requires a subpoena, I have every confidence the chairman will issue one.”

    As Democrats wait for Mueller, the Judiciary Committee has instead held public hearings with subject matter experts, like Thursday’s hearing, in an effort to illustrate the report’s findings. But they acknowledge that expert testimony is no substitute for the special counsel.

    “I know that they’re in negotiation, but you know, time has passed and so, if he’s not going to issue it today, if Mr. Mueller doesn’t cooperate, I’m sure it will be issued soon,” said California Rep. Karen Bass, a Democrat on the Judiciary Committee….

  12. says

    Reuters – “Deutsche Bank faces FBI investigation for possible money-laundering lapses: source”:

    The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation is examining whether Deutsche Bank complied with laws meant to stop money laundering, a person with knowledge of the matter said on Thursday.

    The inquiry, first reported in the New York Times, follows a report by that newspaper last month about bank employees in its U.S. compliance division who had flagged suspicious financial transactions to their superiors who then opted not to escalate them to government authorities.

    The transactions were notable because they were linked to companies controlled by U.S. President Donald Trump and his son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner, according to the report.

    The lender, Germany’s largest, has been making progress working its way through a raft of litigation over past years, but it has recently made headlines about lapses in safeguards meant to identify money laundering.

    In 2017, regulators fined Deutsche Bank nearly $700 million for weak controls that allowed money laundering from Russia. A U.S. Department of Justice investigation is still ongoing….

  13. says

    NBC – “Thousands of teens spared conversion therapy due to state bans, report finds”:

    An estimated 10,000 LGBTQ youth, ages 13 to 17, have been protected from conversion therapy by living in states that have banned the contentious practice on minors, according to an updated report from UCLA’s Williams Institute.

    Starting in 2012 with California, 18 states and the District of Columbia have banned conversion therapy for those under 18, though no state bans the practice on adults. Conversion therapy seeks to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of an individual through various tactics including talk therapy, and, in extreme cases, aversion treatments like inducing nausea or vomiting.

    “The scientific research since the late 1940s has been remarkably consistent that sexual orientation and gender identity are remarkably resistant to efforts to change,” Catherine Lugg, a professor at the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University, told NBC News.

    “Since the 1970s, no credible medical organization has claimed that one can change — or, by implication, should change — their sexual orientation and/or gender identity,” Lugg added.

    In fact, the vast majority of the general population does not support conversion therapy on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth. The Williams Institute reports 18 percent of those surveyed this year believe the practice should be legal for minors, with 56 percent believing it should be illegal, and the remaining 26 percent not sure.

    Yet, 32 states haven’t banned the practice, and 16,000 young people in those states are expected to undergo conversion therapy from a licensed health care professional before reaching the age of 18, according to the report.

    The negative mental health outcomes caused by the medically discredited practice may affect young people for the rest of their lives, expert say. This month, The Trevor Project, a nonprofit that helps LGBTQ youth in crisis, released its 2019 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, which found that 42 percent of LGBTQ youth who underwent conversion therapy reported a suicide attempt in the last year. That number was even higher (57 percent) when looking specifically at transgender and nonbinary youth who’ve undergone the practice in the past 12 months.

    …The Trevor Project is leading the 50 Bills 50 States campaign, which works to get legislation passed in every state that would ban conversion therapy on minors.

    [The Trevor Project’s head of advocacy and government affairs Sam] Brinton, however, does not believe legislation alone will end the controversial practice. The key, Brinton said, is making clear to providers that practicing conversion therapy is no longer lucrative.

    That’s why Brinton says the recent bill introduced by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., which seeks to ban taxpayer funding of conversion therapy, is a step in the right direction….

    Brinton made clear it’s necessary to remind LGBTQ youth — especially those being pushed into something like conversion therapy — that they are not alone.

    “I remember feeling I was alone, and I was literally so worthless that I was being erased by a doctor,” Brinton recalled. “This is the best time for us to tell them, ‘You’re not alone, and we’re fighting for you in every state across the country.’”

  14. says

    Roy Moore will be running again.

    Doug Jones: “So it looks like my opponent will either be extremist Roy Moore or an extremist handpicked by Mitch McConnell to be part of his legislative graveyard team. Let’s get to work so we can get things done!”

  15. says

    Reuters – “Anti-riot police step back from Honduras protests, fueling demonstrations”:

    Members of a Honduran riot police that have dealt with weeks of protests stood down in Tegucigalpa on Wednesday, allowing adversaries of President Juan Orlando Hernandez to block streets and cause traffic chaos in the city.

    Members of the National Directorate of Special Forces (DNFE), who have been protesting since Tuesday night by remaining in their quarters, said if they did not receive better benefits, they would not carry out anti-riot operations.

    Protests against Hernandez, an ally of the United States, have been building in recent weeks over planned reforms that the president’s critics argue will lead to the privatization of public health and education services.

    The police strike is a fresh headache for the conservative leader, who has been under pressure since he changed electoral rules to allow him to run for a second term in 2017. Though he won the election, it was heavily criticized by international observers and opponents who say he stole the victory.

    The DNFE’s withdrawal encouraged demonstrators to block streets and roads in the Honduran capital, burning tires and creating roadblocks during the second day of a strike by truckers that caused rushes to buy fuel at gas stations.

    Hernandez’s official residence was being guarded on Wednesday night by military police and soldiers armed with high-performance rifles while demonstrators marched through streets calling on the president to step down.

    Late on Wednesday, military police began deploying to areas affected by the disturbances, images broadcast on local television showed.

    Earlier, outside the local DNFE base, a masked police officer stood with colleagues to read out a statement with demands to the government for better life insurance and healthcare benefits, as well as improved welfare coverage for their families.

    The statement also expressed “discontent” with the government over the crisis and underlined that the force would not carry out acts of “repression” against the people.

    In recent weeks protesters have also torched an access gate to the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa and targeted fruit trucks marked with the logo of the Dole Fruit Company.

    “US ally,” “reforms,” “critics argue,” “won,” “opponents…say”

  16. says

    Re #14 above: “Particularly poignant that one of the judges on the panel, Judge Tashima, spent three years of his childhood in an internment camp:…”

    He wrote in 2005 (link at the link):

    …I am not a scholar and I am not here to give you a scholarly dissertation on the meaning of the World War II internment cases. My role, rather, is to bring to this conference the perspective of one who lived through the evacuation and internment and then went on to a career as a federal judge. In my twenty-four years as a federal judge, both in the trial court and on the appellate bench, it has been my privilege to participate in what I believe to be the primary mission of the federal courts—to uphold the rule of law and to hold the government to its constitutional obligations. Because we are all creatures of our past, I have no doubt that my life experiences, including the evacuation and internment, have shaped the way I view my job as a federal judge and the skepticism that I some-times bring to the representations and motives of the other branches of government.

    So if I stray somewhat today from the path that judges usually take in their public remarks, it is because I believe that the voice of those who were wronged by their own government more than sixty years ago needs to be heard in the current debate on how the war against terrorism should be conducted.

    Sixty years ago, I was in my third year as an internee in the War Relocation Authority (“WRA”) internment camp at Poston, Arizona, on the Colorado River Indian Reservation. I was ten years old and in the fifth grade at the Poston I Elementary School….

    (Note the repurposing of these spaces of confinement.)

  17. says

    Wow. Hicks was accompanied by 6 lawyers to her House Judiciary Committee testimony: 2 private attorneys, 3 White House lawyers, and 1 from DOJ. The lawyers objected to questions more than 150 times on the basis of ‘absolute immunity’.”

    The objections are absolutely ridiculous. Nadler notes at the beginning that the DoJ lawyers wouldn’t normally be allowed, but he’s making an exception – I assume he wanted to get all of their baseless objections in for the court case.

  18. says

    Holy shit: “WATCH: Conservative MP Mark Field shoves a protestor against a pillar then grabs her by her neck and shoves her out of the Mansion House dinner after climate change protestors interrupted the banquet.”

  19. says

    “Mr. Purpura. Under the terms of the absolute immunity described in Mr.Cipollone’s letter, she may not speak about anything that occurred during the time of her employment in the White House as a close adviser to the President.

    Chairman Nadler. Anything that occurred during that time?

    Mr. Purpura. During her service as close adviser to the President.

    Chairman Nadler. Did a war break out between Israel and Egypt during that time period?

    Mr. Purpura. Same objection.

    Chairman Nadler. Same objection.”

  20. says

    It’s not all on the lawyers, either. First, Hicks didn’t have to follow their guidance (except that of her own). Second, she’s pretty hostile and uncooperative herself.

  21. says

    “Chairman Nadler. Is the special counsel’s report accurate, to your knowledge?

    Mr. Purpura. Objection.

    Chairman Nadler. Is the special counsel’s report inaccurate, to your knowledge?

    Mr. Purpura. Objection.

    Chairman Nadler. Did you tell the truth to the special counsel?

    Mr. Purpura. Objection.

    Chairman Nadler. Objection? Let me restate the question. Did you perjure yourself to the special counsel?

    Mr. Purpura. Same objection.

    Chairman Nadler. Same objection.”

  22. says

    One side benefit of Hicks’ testimony being behind closed doors and then released as a transcript is that the distraction of her prettiness is greatly reduced and relatively fewer pundits will feel the urge to “protect” her from questioning, present it as overly aggressive or unfair, etc.

  23. says

    Mehdi Hasan: “In 2019, the next British prime minister will be decided by 160,000 Conservative Party members, who are 97% white, 70% male and have a median age of 57, and who will be choosing between two white men in their 50s, educated at Charterhouse, Eton and Oxford.”

  24. says

    “Q Okay. Ms.Hicks, you were asked by Ms.Jackson Lee about a statement in the Mueller report that by late summer of 2016 the Trump campaign was planning a press strategy, a communications campaign, and messaging based on the possible release of Clinton emails by WikiLeaks, and you answered to the effect that it was wildly inaccurate to call it a strategy. Do you remember that answer?

    A I believe I said that I wasn’t aware of any kind of coordinated strategy like the one described in the report and quoted by Ms.Jackson Lee.

    Regardless, the efforts that were under way, to take publicly available information and use that to show a differentiation between Mr.Trump as a candidate and Mrs.Clinton as a candidate, I would say that it would be wildly generous to describe that as a coordinated strategy.

    Q How would you describe it?

    A I would describe it just as I did, which is taking publicly available information to draw a contrast between the candidates.”

    Just “taking” it, willy-nilly. “Efforts.” No strategy, no coordination, just random publicly available information, “taken” via “efforts.”

  25. says

    Chris Hayes showed video of the government attorney arguing before the panel of judges @ #14 above. I’ll link to it tomorrow. I don’t have words to describe how sickening it is. It’s like watching any criminal, authoritarian government of the 20th century arguing for its policies.

  26. blf says

    Major global investor drops US firms deemed climate crisis laggards (my added emboldening):

    […]
    An ethical investment operation by the UK’s largest asset manager has dumped shares in a string of US companies it has deemed climate crisis laggards, including oil giant ExxonMobil […]

    […]

    Meryam Omi, head of responsible investment at LGIM, said investor engagement with companies can be “a powerful tool” if there are “consequences”. L&G retains shareholdings in the blacklisted companies at other funds in its £1tn investment empire and will now use those shares to vote against board appointments at the named and shamed businesses.

    I’m conflicted whether that is a have-yer-cake-and-eat-it situation, or a viable approach; LGIM is a big investor, so their voting against has potential — albeit only voting against board appointments does seem a bit tame. Introducing, and supporting, resolutions / instructions to the board, would also have impact.

    “Talks without action are no longer fit for purpose given the urgency to address climate change,” she said. “This is no fad. The world is truly in the midst of a climate emergency, which could have drastic consequences for markets, companies and, therefore, our clients’ assets.”

    […]

    The money manager said US companies have proved the most challenging to engage with on climate concerns. LGIM said the nation is divided between companies firmly committed to tackling climate issues, and a disproportionate number of companies among the lowest-scoring of its report.

    […]

    ExxonMobil, the world’s largest listed oil company, emerged as the leading climate laggard in this year’s tally after refusing to report its own carbon emissions or set targets to reduce them. […]

  27. blf says

    What does Biden have in common with Trump? Delusional nostalgia:

    […]
    I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he represents as an aberrant moment in time,[] he [Biden, henceforth known as bribeon –blf] said in his campaign announcement video. […]

    It is a perception of America that casts our current crisis as a result of the pathological personality of the president, and not as the systemic failure of many institutions to protect the people and enact their will. In this vision, Donald Trump is the problem, not the culture or the political system that created him. Things were better before Trump, Biden seems to believe, and they will go back to normal after he’s gone.

    Like Trump’s call to Make America Great Again, Biden’s rhetoric appeals to a vision of the past based more in fantasy than reality. If anything, Biden is appealing to an imaginary bygone American era that many Americans don’t recognize. He sees prosperity where others see falling wages and unlivable healthcare and housing costs. He sees dignified political stability where others see their systematic exclusion from the halls of power. He sees chummy, Kumbaya-singing bipartisan cooperation with Republicans where many see the highly uncivil efforts of the right wing to strip minorities of their livelihoods and rights and to enshrine discrimination into law.

    […]

    One of Biden’s favorite fictions about the past is that there was an era when gender relations were less contentious, and when it was appropriate to treat women and girls with patronizing dismissiveness. […]

    […]

    One reason that Biden has been able to hold on to his support is that the older, more conservative Democrats who support him are also those least sympathetic to the #MeToo movement. A Pew Research Center survey conducted last year found that moderate and conservative Democrats are more likely than liberal Democrats to be concerned about women making false allegations and about men being fired prematurely. […]

    Maybe unfortunately, this opinion column is focused entirely on bribeon’s attitudes towards woman. It does mention, as just one other example, his approach to global heating, which is basically to continue on as-is, Joe Biden would be a disaster for climate change (“The Democratic contender for president provided details of his climate plan and it boils down to: business as usual”); the reports of bribeon plagiarizing his do-nothing came out a bit later.

      † Set in eejit quotes because, whilst not necessarily wrong or misleading by itself, in context it is very misleading.

  28. says

    Quoted in blf’s #47:

    In this vision, Donald Trump is the problem, not the culture or the political system that created him. Things were better before Trump, Biden seems to believe, and they will go back to normal after he’s gone.

    The Republican Party, and I can’t stress this enough, won’t even call the Democratic Party by its name.

  29. says

    “Laura Ingraham Dismisses Reparations: ‘No Do-Overs…We Won, You Lost, That’s That’”:

    Fox News star Laura Ingraham waded into the ongoing debate over reparations for descendants of slaves during her podcast on Thursday by proclaiming there are no “do-overs” after a “conquest.”

    Talking to Kentucky State professor and Hate Crime Hoax author Wilfred Reilly about the recent House hearing on reparations, Ingraham played a clip of author Ta-Nehisi Coates taking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to task for saying reparations are unnecessary because Americans elected Barack Obama as president.

    “People would argue that the whole world, and I would, the whole world has been reshaped by people taking other people’s land,” Ingraham weighed in. “It’s called conquest.”

    Mentioning past empires and how there was a “totally different map” in the past, Ingraham—whose own brother thinks she is a “monster”—then complained that “they want to live in a fake world,” presumably talking about liberals.

    “As Trump always says, ‘You don’t get do-overs,’” she declared. “No do-overs, that’s it. There was an argument, sometime—I think it was the 1980s. There was a quote, you won, we lost, that’s that. Describing world politics, we won, you lost, that’s that. That’s just the way it is.”…

    Ingraham later tweeted a thread including: “For the record the quote from my podcast ‘we won, you lost, that’s that’ was referencing the general world map that changed over millennia due to war—and we discussed how coming together as one people of all races would be best path forward.”

  30. says

    Update to #33 above – “Mark Field suspended as minister after grabbing activist”:

    Mark Field has been suspended as a Foreign Office minister after grabbing a female Greenpeace activist at a black-tie City dinner.

    Mr Field has said he regrets confronting Janet Barker and marching her away as protesters interrupted a speech by the chancellor.

    But he said he had been “genuinely worried” she may have been armed.

    Ms Barker told the BBC she would not go to the police, but said the MP “should go to anger management classes”.

    Footage of the incident has been widely shared on social media, with several Labour politicians calling for Mr Field to be sacked.

    A Downing Street spokeswoman said Prime Minister Theresa May had “seen the footage” and “found it very concerning”.

    She added: “The police have said they are looking into reports over this matter and Mark Field has also referred himself to both the Cabinet Office and the Conservative Party.

    “He will be suspended as a minister while investigations take place.”…

    He’s apologized. Many are calling for his dismissal.

  31. says

    AP – “Migrant children describe neglect at Texas border facility”:

    A 2-year-old boy locked in detention wants to be held all the time. A few girls, ages 10 to 15, say they’ve been doing their best to feed and soothe the clingy toddler who was handed to them by a guard days ago. Lawyers warn that kids are taking care of kids, and there’s inadequate food, water and sanitation for the 250 infants, children and teens at the Border Patrol station.

    The bleak portrait emerged Thursday after a legal team interviewed 60 children at the facility near El Paso that has become the latest place where attorneys say young migrants are describing neglect and mistreatment at the hands of the U.S. government.

    Data obtained by The Associated Press showed that on Wednesday there were three infants in the station, all with their teen mothers, along with a 1-year-old, two 2-year-olds and a 3-year-old. There are dozens more under 12. Fifteen have the flu, and 10 more are quarantined.

    Three girls told attorneys they were trying to take care of the 2-year-old boy, who had wet his pants and no diaper and was wearing a mucus-smeared shirt when the legal team encountered him.

    “A Border Patrol agent came in our room with a 2-year-old boy and asked us, ‘Who wants to take care of this little boy?’ Another girl said she would take care of him, but she lost interest after a few hours and so I started taking care of him yesterday,” one of the girls said in an interview with attorneys.

    Law professor Warren Binford, who is helping interview the children, said she couldn’t learn anything about the toddler, not even where he’s from or who his family is. He is not speaking.

    Binford described that during interviews with children in a conference room at the facility, “little kids are so tired they have been falling asleep on chairs and at the conference table.”

    She said an 8-year-old taking care of a very small 4-year-old with matted hair couldn’t convince the little one to take a shower.

    “In my 22 years of doing visits with children in detention I have never heard of this level of inhumanity,” said Holly Cooper, who co-directs University of California, Davis’ Immigration Law Clinic and represents detained youth.

    The lawyers inspected the facilities because they are involved in the Flores settlement, a Clinton-era legal agreement that governs detention conditions for migrant children and families. The lawyers negotiated access to the facility with officials, and say Border Patrol knew the dates of their visit three weeks in advance.

    Many children interviewed had arrived alone at the U.S.-Mexico border, but some had been separated from their parents or other adult caregivers including aunts and uncles, the attorneys said.

    Government rules call for the children to be held by the Border Patrol for no longer than 72 hours before they are transferred to the custody of Health and Human Services, which houses migrant youth in facilities around the country.

    Government facilities are overcrowded and five immigrant children have died since late last year after being detained by Customs and Border Protection. A teenage mother with a premature baby was found last week in a Texas Border Patrol processing center after being held for nine days by the government….

    More at the link.

  32. blf says

    I need to double-check in person, but around lunchtime as I was scurrying about, on the village’s high street (main shopping street), out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a new “shop” that appeared to be for teh lepen nazis (rassemblement national (formerly front national), “national rally”). A check of some local sites confirms it is the new local hate dispensary, and that it has already been graffitied several times. (I didn’t see any, but I was en route elsewhere and did not stop to investigate.) Fortunately, it didn’t spoil the taste of lunch, and tonight is Fête de la Musique, which I’m also not going to let this discovery spoil…

    Anyone happen to know what sort of inks and / or glues are very hard to remove from glass and / or metal ?

  33. says

    BREAKING: Felix Sater didn’t show up to his hearing today, per House Intel. ‘The Committee had scheduled a voluntary staff-level interview with Mr. Sater, but he did not show up this morning as agreed. As a result, the Committee is issuing a subpoena to compel his testimony’.”

  34. blf says

    In Ozland, the nazi who is unfortunately still in government is up to his tricks and lies yet again, Peter Dutton condemned for ‘vile and offensive’ Nauru rape claims (the Grauniad’s edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    Peter Dutton’s claim that pregnant rape victims on Nauru [location of one of Ozland’s offshore concentration camps –blf] were trying it on by seeking abortions in Australia and then changing their minds is an appalling act of politicisation and victim blaming, federal politicians, advocates and lawyers for the women have said.

    On Thursday the home affairs minister was objecting to laws that allow critically ill refugees and asylum seekers to get treatment in Australia, when he claimed that many of the 1,000 or so brought to Australia were not actually sick.

    Some people are trying it on, he said. Let’s be serious about this. There are people who have claimed that they’ve been raped and came to Australia to seek an abortion because they couldn’t get an abortion on Nauru. They arrived in Australia and then decided they were not going to have an abortion. They have the baby here and the moment they step off the plane their lawyers lodge papers in the federal court, which injuncts us from sending them back.

    Dutton provided no details to back his claim, including the number of cases he believed were trying it on, but lawyers who have acted for multiple rape victims on Nauru said this applied to none of their clients.

    […]

    “The minister would have the same information about our clients that I have, which makes it so disappointing to see them being miscast as anything other than people who have suffered a horrendous crime and who need medical attention” [said Jennifer Kanis, principal solicitor for social justice practise at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers].

    Kanis also defended moves by people to seek injunctions, saying that to return someone after medical care would place them back in harm’s way and exacerbate their illnesses.

    […]

    Clare O’Connor, SC, who co-authored a report on detained women in Nauru, accused Dutton of going after an “easy target” in attacking rape victims.

    “Most of the complaints about {the government’s} failures to provide adequate health care involve the mental deterioration of children, and what is he going to say about that?” she said. “So he picks on women because it’s easy to say women make things up. He isn’t the first and won’t be the last to say these sorts of things about women who report sexual assault.”

    O’Connor noted the government’s own files indicated that many women were victims of assault on Nauru but often did not report it.

    […]

  35. blf says

    In teh NKofE, Facebook and eBay told to take action over fake reviews :

    […]
    Facebook and eBay have been ordered to take urgent action to stop fake online reviews that are increasingly being used by companies to deceive customers.

    The Competition and Markets Authority said it had found “troubling evidence” of a thriving marketplace for fake and misleading online reviews.

    After spending the past eight months looking for evidence, the CMA said it had unearthed more than 100 listings on eBay from companies and individuals offering fake reviews for sale.

    The UK regulator had also identified 26 Facebook groups where people offered to write fake reviews to order, or businesses recruiting people to write fake and misleading reviews for popular shopping and review sites.

    […]

    In October 2018, Which? [a magazine somewhat similar to Consumer Reports –blf] said two large Facebook groups, plus some smaller groups, may between them have up to 87,000 members potentially engaged in writing fake reviews.

    […]

    Both mafias claim to have reacted and removed the identified suspect accounts, but there is no mention of either being, or planning to become, proactive about the problem.

  36. blf says

    Sneaky, in a good way, No luxury: book containing tampons is runaway hit:

    […]
    Open up a book and you can find a whole world. But the first book from the German startup the Female Company offers something more straightforward: within its covers are 15 tampons. And it is flying off the shelves.

    The Tampon Book is a protest against Germany’s 19% tax on tampons as luxury goods — and a way of getting round it. Books are taxed at 7% in Germany, and so the founders of the Female Company, which sells organic sanitary products, decided to publish one and include tampons inside it. Released earlier this spring, the first print-run sold out in a day and the second in a week, said the publisher, with around 10,000 copies sold to date. Only the English-language edition is currently available.

    Co-founder Ann-Sophie Claus said she and her team came up with the idea for The Tampon Book after working for more than a year to raise awareness of the tampon tax and collecting more than 175,000 signatures for a petition calling on the government to reduce the levy.

    “We realised that nothing will really change,” Claus said. “The German finance minister, Olaf Scholz, replied saying that he does not want to reduce the tax because he cannot ensure that companies will pass on the tax reduction to consumers anyway.”

    According to Claus, The Tampon Book — priced at just €3.11 (£2.78) — demonstrates that the company “will pass on the tax reduction to our customers”. One hundred copies have been sent to members of the Bundestag, Claus added, “which led to invitations from several parties”.

    As a side note, that’s very inexpensive. The dead tree edition of the New York Times, for example, costs €3.50 (almost $4), and pints of beer are easily double or even treble that.

    The book contains stories about menstruation from biblical times to the current era […]

    […]

    Tampons are currently taxed at 5% in the UK, with George Osborne promising in 2015 to allocate the funds raised to “women’s health and support charities”. Earlier this year, the Women’s Resource Centre accused the government of a “gravely disappointing” failure to support women’s charities, after only one specialist women’s organisation was chosen to benefit from the arrangement.

  37. says

    Just in: Sater’s attorney says he was unable to show up today for ‘health reasons’ and that he ‘looks forward to voluntarily appearing at the next rescheduled date’.”

    I mean, obviously they should immediately subpoena him. If he “looks forward” to testifying, it should be of little matter to him.

  38. says

    southpaw: “The thing that’s striking to me about Flowers is how even when a conservative (Kavanaugh) writes for the majority, Justice Thomas’s dissent takes such a divergent view of the facts and adopts such a caustic tone that he might be living on another world.”

    The other dissenter is Gorsuch.

  39. says

    NEW: Federal prosecutors are intensifying their investigation of top GOP donor Elliott Broidy. They’re looking at whether foreign clients paid him to give them special access to attend Trump’s 2017 inauguration.

    Among the recent developments: federal prosecutors in Brooklyn asked the inaugural committee for documents related to Broidy and foreign politicians who attended inaugural events at his invitation.”

    Broidy is also closely connected to Nader.

  40. says

    Mimi Rocah: “So Sater’s all set to show up for testimony, gives preview of how damaging his testimony would be to WaPo & all of a sudden has ‘health issues’. You don’t need to work for FBI to know that’s [face-with-raised-eyebrow emoji]. Add to the list of things Sater should be asked about under subpoena.”

    One of the responses links to a tweet from reporter Tim Mak: “Just last night Sater told me he’d be there this morning.”

  41. says

    SC @18:

    That’s…extremely optimistic.

    Right. There’s no way the UK is getting out their present muddle via Boris Johnson’s amazing talents. More shit is about to hit the fan.

  42. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 32: “Wow. Hicks was accompanied by 6 lawyers to her House Judiciary Committee testimony: 2 private attorneys, 3 White House lawyers, and 1 from DOJ. The lawyers objected to questions more than 150 times on the basis of ‘absolute immunity’.”

    Taxpayers paid the salaries of all but two of those six lawyers. Taxpayers paid for lawyers to help Hope Hicks and Trump obstruct a congressional inquiry.

  43. says

    SC @45, this matches reports from three preteen and teen girls who were taking turns to care for a 2 year old child in Border Patrol custody. There was no one else to take care of the child. The child had no diaper, and he was wet, sick and dirty.

    Trump should have to go into that cage himself and take care of that child.

  44. says

    LATEST: As a result of a ‘positive’ conversation between Trump and China’s Xi Jinping, a Pence speech criticizing China’s human rights record has again been postponed.

    No VP speech on Monday now. ”

    Second time it’s been postponed. Was originally scheduled for June 4th.

  45. says

    Sinclair is forcing its stations to run a commentary segment that’s essentially a Trump campaign ad.

    Sinclair chief political commentator and former Trump aide Boris Epshteyn hosted a new “must-run” gushing about the president’s 2020 campaign.

    Media Matters link.

    Conservative local news giant Sinclair Broadcast Group is now pushing its local news stations to air what amounts to an unofficial ad for the Trump 2020 campaign.

    […] The June 19 commentary segments from Boris Epshteyn and Ameshia Cross tackled President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign launch ploy in Orlando.

    Epshteyn, who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign and may have signed a nondisparagement agreement during that time that would prevent him from criticizing the president, delivered a 90-second segment that could just as easily have been produced by the Trump campaign itself.

    In the segment, Epshteyn praises crowd sizes at Trump’s rallies and “unprecedented social media engagement” from Trump supporters, and encourages the president’s campaign to “ride the wind of his accomplishments to reelection.” […]

    As of this morning, Epshteyn’s “must-run” segment has already aired on at least 42 Sinclair-controlled local news stations in 26 states and the District of Columbia, according to the iQ media database.

    For more than a year, Epshteyn was the only Sinclair personality creating “must-run” commentary segments for the broadcaster to send to its stations. In February, Sinclair added commentator Ameshia Cross to its lineup to produce segments on the same topics from a more liberal perspective. The two segments — Epshteyn’s Bottom Line with Boris and Cross’ Cross Point — typically air during the same local newscasts on a given station. Cross’ segment about the reelection campaign focused on Trump’s attacks on media, Democratic candidates, and Hillary Clinton during the rally.

    Sinclair’s programming decisions and executive leadership tilted strongly in favor of the Trump campaign in 2016, and the close connections between the Trump administration and the broadcasting company have seemingly only strengthened in the time since. The president himself, along with numerous cabinet members and other individuals circulating in his inner circle, have made appearances on Sinclair programming and granted exclusive interviews to Sinclair hosts and reporters — including with openly conservative personalities like Epshteyn and former Fox News host Eric Bolling.

    Epshteyn similarly used many of his “must-runs” to essentially campaign for Republicans in the year leading up to the 2018 midterms; some of his segments even skipped the usual commentary altogether and simply featured softball interviews with GOP candidates. Sinclair’s past election efforts are particularly notable because the nearly 200 stations it owns or operates are mostly concentrated in mid-sized cities and battleground states.

  46. says

    Yet again, Trump brazenly lied about his family-separation policy.

    […] Trump sat down with Time magazine this week and repeated a familiar lie about his family-separation policy.

    “But you have to understand, they were separated with President Obama. They were separated with President Bush. I didn’t change the policy, and the policy had been changed, it was — I’m the one that ended separation.”

    […] Time asked the president, “Would you consider reinstating the family-separation policy?” Trump’s response meandered a bit, and included a variety of odd claims, but it also referenced Barack Obama and the Democratic administration 10 times — literally.

    At one point, Trump went so far as to say he “inherited” his own family-separation policy from his predecessor.

    To the extent that reality still has any meaning, Trump was brazenly lying.

    “During the Obama administration, there was no policy in place that resulted in the systematic separation of families at the border, like we are now seeing under the Trump administration,” Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, explained last summer. “Our understanding is that generally parents were not prosecuted for illegal entry under President Obama. There may have been some separation if there was suspicion that the children were being trafficked or a claimed parent-child relationship did not actually exist. But nothing like the levels we are seeing today.”

    Is Trump “the one that ended” the family-separation policy? Grammar aside, this is backwards: Trump is the one who created the family-separation policy. As we’ve discussed. he eventually issued an order to end his own practice, but for Trump to brag about this is like listening to an arsonist boast about putting out a fire he started.

    Making matters considerably worse, the policy the president wants credit for ending may not have entirely ended.

    The New York Times’ Michelle Goldberg wrote in her new column on the one-year anniversary of Trump’s executive order.

    Exactly one year ago on Thursday, after a national uproar, Donald Trump signed an executive order ending his administration’s policy of separating migrant children from their parents. Six days later, a federal judge ordered the reunification of thousands of parents and children whom the American government had torn apart. Even though the separation policy had already been officially halted, the court issued a preliminary injunction against it. At the time, it seemed that one of the ugliest chapters of this vicious administration had ended.

    But if there’s one thing this administration rarely backs down on, it’s cruelty. Family separation, it turns out, never really stopped. According to Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the A.C.L.U.’s National Immigrants’ Rights Project, just over 700 families were separated between last June and late May. Without legal or political intervention, he fears that the number could reach 1,000 by the end of this summer.

    This administration has handled this disaster about as poorly as it possibly could have, but to see this as a tragedy from the recent past is a mistake. The problem is ongoing.

    Link

    I feel like putting the entire text above in bold.

  47. says

    “Police called to loud altercation at Boris Johnson’s home”:

    Police were called to the home of Boris Johnson and his partner, Carrie Symonds, in the early hours of Friday morning after neighbours heard a loud altercation involving screaming, shouting and banging.

    The argument could be heard outside the property where the potential future prime minister is living with Symonds, a former Conservative party head of press.

    A neighbour told the Guardian they heard a woman screaming followed by “slamming and banging”. At one point Symonds could be heard telling Johnson to “get off me” and “get out of my flat”.

    The neighbour said that after becoming concerned they knocked on the door but received no response. “I [was] hoping that someone would answer the door and say ‘We’re okay’. I knocked three times and no one came to the door.”

    The neighbour decided to call 999. Two police cars and a van arrived within minutes, shortly after midnight, but left after receiving reassurances from both the individuals in the flat that they were safe.

    When contacted by the Guardian on Friday, police initially said they had no record of a domestic incident at the address. But when given the case number and reference number, as well as identification markings of the vehicles that were called out, police issued a statement saying: “At 00:24hrs on Friday, 21 June, police responded to a call from a local resident in [south London]. The caller was concerned for the welfare of a female neighbour.

    “Police attended and spoke to all occupants of the address, who were all safe and well. There were no offences or concerns apparent to the officers and there was no cause for police action.”

    The neighbour said they recorded the altercation from inside their flat out of concern for Symonds. On the recording, heard by the Guardian, Johnson can be heard refusing to leave the flat and telling Symonds to “get off my fucking laptop” before there is a loud crashing noise….

    More at the link.

  48. says

    Trump’s lying, stupid, gaslighting version of events related to Iran:

    President Obama made a desperate and terrible deal with Iran – Gave them 150 Billion Dollars plus I.8 Billion Dollars in CASH! Iran was in big trouble and he bailed them out. Gave them a free path to Nuclear Weapons, and SOON. Instead of saying thank you, Iran yelled Death to America.

    I terminated deal, which was not even ratified by Congress, and imposed strong sanctions. They are a much weakened nation today than at the beginning of my Presidency, when they were causing major problems throughout the Middle East. Now they are Bust!

    On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in International Waters. We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General.

    10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world. Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!

    SC already noted that the phrase is “locked and loaded,” not “cocked and loaded.” (Black humor laughter in the middles of this debacle.)

    Analysis from Steve Benen:

    […] what’s striking about the president’s story is that he seems to think it makes him look better. It does not.

    Let’s put aside Trump’s ongoing confusion about the international nuclear agreement with Iran – a policy he’s never bothered to learn much about. We can also put aside the irony of [Trump] boasting that Iranians “were causing major problems,” but not anymore. (It necessarily raises questions as to why he’s escalating tensions with a country that’s no longer “causing major problems.”)

    Let’s instead consider Trump’s version of events about yesterday at face value. According to the president, U.S. officials presented him with a plan to target Iranian targets, and Trump gave his team a green light.

    He then asked about the expected casualties and was told the mission would kill 150 people, causing him to abort the mission 10 minutes before the strike, deeming it disproportionate.

    For those of us who consider the prospect of war in Iran to be madness, it’s obviously good news that Trump changed his mind. There are still some questions, however, that could use some clarifications.

    First, why would U.S. officials present the president with a mission that would kill 150 people in response to the destruction of a drone?

    Second, why did Trump wait until 10 minutes before the strike to ask about the consequences of the mission he approved? Shouldn’t that have happened far earlier in the process?

    As NBC News’ Benjy Sarlin added, the president effectively described a process that’s “almost literally” a shoot-first, ask-questions-later posture.

    Again, it’s quite possible that last night’s developments unfolded in an entirely different way, and Trump’s tweets are largely fictional. But what’s striking is the degree to which the president’s own tale doesn’t do him any favors.

    Link

  49. says

    Rachel Maddow’s interview with Ben Rhodes was the best discussion of the USA/Iran escalation of aggression that I’ve seen.

    Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser to President Obama, talks with Rachel Maddow about the dynamic of escalating aggression between the Trump administration and Iran, and the voices within the Trump administration, particularly from NSA John Bolton, pushing the U.S. toward a war footing.

    Ben Rhodes is intelligent, and he presents his conclusions succinctly.

    Link to video. The video is 6:17 minutes long.

  50. says

    Feeling sorry for CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta.

    […] “I will miss her [Sarah Huckabee Sanders] terribly,” Acosta said with a smile before telling the harrowing tale of when he was dragged into singing “The 12 Days of Christmas” with Sanders and former White House communications director Bill Shine.

    After a judge ruled in November that the White House must reinstate his White House press credentials, Acosta recalled Sanders and Shine approaching him at the White House Christmas party to ask him to sing “The 12 Days of Christmas” with them.

    “I’m thinking to myself, ‘OK, wait a minute, we just went through this whole press pass court case and everything,” Acosta said. “We got to about ‘5 golden rings’ and I was like, ‘That’s it, I’m out of here!”

    Acosta then agreed with Kimmel on it being “the craziest thing” he’s ever heard and the situation being “almost like a horror movie.”

    “I didn’t know if it was ‘Deck the Halls’ or ‘Deck the Correspondent,’ you know?” Acosta said. […]

    Acosta was promoting his new book “The Enemy of the People” on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

  51. says

    Trump Threatens Reporter With Prison Time Over Kim Jong Un Letter Photo

    During an interview with Time Magazine […] Trump threatened a reporter with prison time for taking a picture of a letter written by Kim Jong Un.

    “Well, you can go to prison instead, because, if you use, if you use the photograph you took of the letter that I gave you confidentially, I didn’t give it to you to take photographs of it,” Trump told the reporter. “So don’t play that game with me.” […]

    When one of the Time reporters asked Trump if he was specifically threatening prison time, Trump said he told the reporter that the photo could be looked at off-the-record.

    “That doesn’t mean you take out your camera and start taking pictures of it, OK?” Trump said. “So I hope you don’t have a picture of it. I know you were very quick to pull it out — even you were surprised to see that. You can’t do that stuff. So go have fun with your story.”

    Trump then attacked the magazine itself, calling their coverage on him a “disgrace” and telling the reporter that he is “sure it will be the 28th horrible story” Time Magazine publishes on him — despite how “someday within the next 20 years” he will be chosen as Man of the Year.

    “With all I’ve done and the success I’ve had, the way that Time magazine writes is absolutely incredible,” Trump said, before going on a Mueller report-centered rant involving a “nasty business dispute” with former FBI Director James Comey.

    “You have Bob Mueller who was conflicted, totally conflicted. You know my feeling on that. Comey was his friend,” Trump said. “I had a nasty business dispute with him when he was in private life. A very nasty business dispute. Right? You know about that, right?”

  52. says

    Private Prisons Have Boomed Under Trump. Elizabeth Warren Just Vowed to Eviscerate Them.

    Other leading Democratic presidential candidates have also raised the idea.

    […] Warren would phase out federal contracts with private prisons, both under the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security. She would also pressure state and local governments to stop working with private prison companies by tying the receipt of federal public safety funding to their use of public facilities. “There should be no place in America for profiting off putting more people behind bars or in detention,” Warren wrote […]

    The proposal comes days before the first Democratic debate of the 2020 presidential race, and adds to a growing chorus among Democratic candidates to curtail or stop the use of private prison companies, which have seen their revenue soar under the Trump administration. […]

    About 126,000 state and federal inmates (8.5 percent of the total) are held in private prisons, and more than 70 percent of ICE detainees are kept in private detention centers.

    The week after Trump was elected, the two biggest prison companies saw their stock prices jump by around a third. Since then, prison executives have gloated to investors about their prospects for growing profits thanks to the Trump administration’s practice of detaining not just immigrants convicted of serious crimes, but any undocumented person caught crossing the border. “We have 40 percent more beds than before” […]

  53. says

    White House did not impose new Iran sanctions Thursday, despite Trump’s claim.

    Washington Post link

    Trump lied.

    The White House did not impose new sanctions against Iran on Thursday in response to its downing of a U.S. military drone, contrary to Trump’s assertion in a Twitter post Friday morning.

    Trump’s statement of new penalties against Iran came during a string of Twitter posts, in which he explained his decision to stop – at the last minute – military attack against Iran.

    “Sanctions are biting & more added last night,” he wrote. “Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!”

    But no such sanctions were imposed.

    Instead, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during a speech in Orlando that new counter-measures against Iran would be considered if the country didn’t do more to deal with money laundering and terrorist-financing. Those issues are completely unrelated to the escalating tensions between both countries, particularly the dispute about the downed drone. […]

  54. says

    Manafort’s lawyer, Kevin Downing, evidently began in 2018 calling Hannity daily to feed him information and strategy to use on air. So…Hannity’s show became in effect an unpaid adjunct of Manafort’s criminal defense team.

  55. blf says

    Oregon senator walkout: patriot groups vow to protect Republicans who fled state:

    […]
    Members of rightwing patriot movement groups have vowed to protect Republican senators in Oregon who have walked out of the state legislature in order to try and block the passage of climate legislation.

    The move by the state senators […] was aimed at denying Democrats a quorum for passing landmark climate legislation. The proposed new Oregon law resembles California’s sweeping new “cap and trade” legislation.

    After Oregon’s governor authorized state police to bring the 11 Republican senators back to the state house rightwing groups have said they will rally to their defense […]

    […]

    […] Oregon Republicans have previously courted elements of the patriot movement. In 2017, Multnomah county Republican chair, James Buchal, raised the prospect of having members of the Oath Keepers and the III% provide security for Republican events. Multnomah Republicans later voted to use such groups for security.

    The Republicans have so far defied requests to return to their jobs. [Republican state senator Brian] Boquist told reporters the police should send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.

    […]

    Republicans in Oregon are faced with Democrat supermajorities in both houses and have repeatedly deployed a tactic of absenting themselves from the senate, thereby denying Democrats the necessary 20 senators for voting on legislation, including a business tax for public schools, laws tightening vaccine exemptions and gun laws.

    In a statement announcing the deployment of state police, Oregon governor Kate Brown said, “It is absolutely unacceptable that the senate Republicans would turn their back on their constituents who they are honor-bound to represent here in this building.”

    At a news conference on Thursday, Brown said, “Senate Republicans failed to show up, and failed to do their jobs.”

    […]

    Oregon’s constitution says that lawmakers can be “compelled” to attend the house, and a statute allows the legislature, together with the governor, to call upon police to enforce criminal laws.

  56. blf says

    Immigration raids slated to begin in major US cities as early as Sunday:

    […]
    Raids on migrants in cities […] could begin as early as Sunday [23 June], according to multiple reports.

    […]

    The operation, which the Washington Post said the president has ordered, could target people in Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York and San Francisco.

    […]

    Since Trump announced on Twitter that “millions” migrants would be deported next week, immigration advocacy groups across the US have said they are prepared for the raids, which could not reach a million people because of limited staffing at Ice.

    […]

    [Director of immigration legal policy at the New York Immigration Council (NYIC), Camille Mackler,] and other immigration advocates condemned the raids as a political ploy timed to follow Trump’s formal announcement that he is running for re-election on Tuesday and to support an administration narrative that Central American families at the border are criminals, not people fleeing violence and poverty to pursue their right to seek asylum.

    […]

  57. says

    “4 Severely Ill Migrant Toddlers Hospitalized After Lawyers Visit Border Patrol Facility”:

    Four toddlers were so severely ill and neglected at a U.S. Border Patrol facility in McAllen, Texas, that lawyers forced the government to hospitalize them last week.

    The children, all under age 3 with teenage mothers or guardians, were feverish, coughing, vomiting and had diarrhea, immigration attorneys told HuffPost on Friday. Some of the toddlers and infants were refusing to eat or drink. One 2-year-old’s eyes were rolled back in her head, and she was “completely unresponsive” and limp, according to Toby Gialluca, a Florida-based attorney.

    She described seeing terror in the children’s eyes.

    “It’s just a cold, fearful look that you should never see in a child of that age,” Gialluca said. “You look at them and you think, ‘What have you seen?’”

    Another mother at the same facility had a premature baby, who was “listless” and wrapped in a dirty towel, as HuffPost previously reported.

    The lawyers feared that if they had not shown up at the facility, the sick kids would have received zero medical attention and potentially died. The Trump administration has come under fire for its treatment ― and its alleged neglect ― of migrants who have been crossing the southern border in record numbers. The result is overcrowded facilities, slow medical care and in some instances, deaths.

    Immigration authorities say they’re overwhelmed; activists say they’re not trying hard enough.

    Lawyers are particularly concerned about the spread of illness inside Border Patrol facilities, which can sometimes turn fatal. Five children have died in Border Patrol custody since December, some of whom were initially diagnosed with a common cold or the flu. The processing center in McAllen, known as Ursula, recently quarantined three dozen migrants who were sick after a 16-year-old died of the flu at the same facility.

    Children and their parents told lawyers that in some cases they didn’t have any access to medical treatment in Border Patrol facilities despite being visibly ill. Gialluca spoke with one 16-year-old mother whose toddler had the flu, but was told by a guard the child “wasn’t sick enough to see a doctor.” She said others also reported being denied medical attention despite having critically sick babies.

    Medical experts say that because children have less developed immune and respiratory systems, their symptoms can escalate quickly if they aren’t properly treated.

    While the group of roughly eight lawyers and interpreters at Ursula were supposed to be interviewing children about conditions in the facilities, they also ended up asking guards and government officials to bring kids to the hospital because they were so worried about their state. Gialluca added that she and her colleagues interviewed only a small portion of migrants in the facility, which is the largest processing center in the U.S. and can hold up to 1,000 people. She believes the number of migrants in need of hospitalization is likely much higher….

    More at the link.

  58. says

    The @nytimes published E. Jean Carroll’s accusation of rape against the president IN THE BOOKS SECTION.

    I scrolled through the front page, the politics page, I was wondering if they’d somehow avoided it entirely. Nope! It’s not news if a lady writes it in a book, I guess!

    FYI when Trump tried to block the release of FIRE AND FURY it was in the Politics section. That book also had major coverage in the World and Business sections. It was in Books, too, but only when they reviewed it.”

  59. blf says

    In the Onion, Bolton Calls For Forceful Iranian Response To Continuing US Aggression:

    Demanding that the Middle Eastern nation retaliate immediately in self-defense against the existential threat posed by America’s military operations, National Security Adviser John Bolton called for a forceful Iranian response Friday to continuing United States aggression. “Iran cannot sit idly by as the American imperialist machine encroaches on their territory, threatens their sovereignty, and endangers their very way of life,” said Bolton, warning that America’s fanatical leadership, steadfast devotion to flexing their muscles in the region, and alleged access to nuclear weapons necessitated that Iran strike back with a vigorous show of force as soon — and as hard — as possible. […]

  60. says

    I’m skimming the responses to the tweet @ #99, many to the effect that the Times has gone downhill. It’s a strange feeling because I just read Bertrand Russell’s (1957) Why I Am Not a Christian, which is quite brilliant (can’t believe I’d never read it before).

    In the appendix, the editor, the philosopher John Edwards, recounts the story of Russell’s appointment to teach at the College of the City of New York being blocked by the Religious Right and their accomplices in government and the courts in 1940. Russell was unanimously approved by the Board of Higher Ed; he was by far the most prominent scholar to ever be appointed by CCNY. But when the Right and their propaganda machine got wind of it, the backlash was swift and efficient. It’s fascinating that the sides aligned in much the same way they would today, and Edwards does a fine job describing the tactics used by Russell’s opponents to bar his employment in New York, culminating in a truly shameful decision by judge John McGeehan which Edwards quotes at length.

    It’s interesting that Edwards takes the time to discuss the behavior of one organization in particular (pp. 252-5):

    This account would not be complete without a few words about the role of The New York Times in this affair. When religious pressure groups are not involved, the Times is usually quick to protest against abuses of power. In the Russell case the news coverage was, as always, fair and comprehensive. However, throughout the entire month of March, when Russell and the members of the Board of Higher Education were daily maligned in the most outrageous terms, the Times kept completely silent. For three weeks after the McGeehan judgment there was not a word of editorial comment. Finally, on April 20, the Times published a letter by Chancellor Chase of New York University, which pointed out some of the implications of McGeehan’s action.

    Chase argued that if it was upheld the “potential consequences are incalculable.”

    The Times now felt obliged to take a stand in an editorial on the subject. it opened with some general comments deploring the unfortunate effects of the controversy which had been aroused. The dispute over the appointment of Bertrand Russell, the Times wrote, “has done great harm in this community. It has created a bitterness of feeling which we can ill afford when the democracy of which we are all a part is threatened on so many sides.” Mistakes of judgment, the editorial proceeded, with an appearance of neutrality, had been made “by all the principals involved. The original appointment of Bertrand Russell was impolitic and unwise; for wholly aside from the question of Bertrand Russell’s scholarship and his merits as a teacher, it was certain from the outset that the sentiments of a substantial part of this community would be outraged by the opinions he had expressed on various moral questions.” Whether an appointment is “politic” or “impolitic” should apparently count more than the question of the teacher’s competence and scholarship. This, surely, is a remarkable doctrine for a liberal newspaper to advocate.

    As for McGeehan’s decision, the Times could only say that it was “dangerously broad.” The main indignation of the liberal newspaper was reserved neither for the judge who had abused his position nor for the mayor whose cowardly conduct I shall describe in a moment, but for the victim of the malicious assault, Bertrand Russell. Mr. Russell himself, the Times stated, “should have had the wisdom to withdraw from the appointment as soon as its harmful results became evident.”

    Russell responded in an eloquent April 26 letter, which included: “I do not believe that controversy is harmful on general grounds. It is not controversy and open differences that endanger democracy. On the contrary, these are its greatest safeguards.”

    At the conclusion of its editorial on April 20, the Times made a special point of supporting Chancellor Chase in the hope that McGeehan’s judgment would be reviewed by the higher courts. Later, when such a review was artfully prevented by the joint efforts of the judge and Mayor La Guardia, it did not mutter a word of protest. So much for the record of the “world’s greatest newspaper” in this case.

  61. says

    MSNBC is reporting from Jim Clyburn’s big annual fish fry. They showed a segment of Clyburn’s speech and also Kamala Harris’ speech (she was the first to go). Both were very strong.

  62. blf says

    Follow-up to @8, US Christian group admits error in petitioning Netflix about Good Omens:

    […]
    A Christian group calling for the cancellation of Good Omens […] has admitted to an oversight in directing its petition at Netflix when the series is actually made by Amazon Prime.

    The petition was updated on Thursday [… but t]he correction did not come in time to prevent both Netflix and Amazon from getting in on the fun. “Ok we promise not to make any more,” tweeted Netflix yesterday. “Hey @netflix, we’ll cancel Stranger Things if you cancel Good Omens,” tweeted Amazon Prime.

    […]

    [Neil] Gaiman remains unbothered. “You can’t actually make this stuff up … Bless,” he wrote on his Facebook page yesterday.

    I just checked the petition — which I won’t link to — and it’s even more hilarious than the article excerpted in @8 said. For instance, other objections are [Crowley and Aziraphale try] to stop the coming of the Antichrist because they are comfortable and like the earth so much, and The four riders of the Apocalypse, God’s means of punishing sinful earth, are portrayed as a group of bikers. They do not seem to whinge — perhaps haven’t even noticed — one of the four motorcyclists of the apocalypse is female (War) and another is Pollution (not Pestilence); and, at least in the book (not such about the series?), there are four additional bikers including Grievous Bodily Harm and Cruelty to Animals. The updated petition concludes, Please sign our petition, telling Amazon that we will not stand silent as they destroy the barriers of horror we still have for evil.

    According to the site, which I don’t trust, the petition has less than 21,000 signatures, and are currently trying to get 35,000.

  63. says

    From SC’s link in comment 107: “This is a tad different than the last time we saw a presidential candidate come down an escalator.” Yes!

  64. says

    Followup to comment 82.

    Fox’s Chris Wallace, Shep Smith Cast Doubt On Trump’s Iran Strike Claims

    […] “Something’s wrong there,” Smith said while interviewing Wallace.

    “I talked to a former top national security official in an earlier in Republican administration who says this just doesn’t add up,” Wallace responded.

    Wallace explained that Pentagon officials would’ve fully laid out the predicted casualties in their initial briefing with Trump on a potential strike with Iran.

    “So the idea that the President, ten minutes before the actual go–and again, the New York Times is reporting that the ships were in place, the war planes were in the air–ten minutes before you’re learning for the first time that there was going to be 150 casualties seems pretty unlikely and certainly not the way it’s been done in the past,” Wallace said. […]

  65. says

    Followup to bf’s comment 96.

    Oregon Senate Cancels Session Due To ‘Credible Threat’ From Militia Groups

    Oregon’s state Senate has cancelled its session scheduled for Saturday, citing a “credible threat” from militia groups over the showdown between the state’s Democratic legislators and GOP senators.

    The Oregon Capital Bureau obtained an email from the Senate’s Democratic caucus telling its members on Friday to stay away from the Capitol on Saturday.

    “The State Police superintendent just informed the Senate president of a credible threat from militia groups coming to the Capitol tomorrow,” the email read. “The superintendent strongly recommends that no one come to the Capitol and President Courtney heeded that advice minutes ago by adjourning until 10 a.m. Sunday. Please make sure your staffs know not to come in tomorrow.”

    This latest development is a dramatic escalation of the ongoing conflict roiling in Oregon’s state government. […]

  66. says

    Here is a summary, from Laura Clawson, of some of the good policy proposals coming from Democratic presidential candidates, (not a complete list):

    Elizabeth Warren announced a plan to ban private prisons … and it had an immediate effect.

    Cory Booker announced a major plan to offer clemency for people serving prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenses.

    Beto O’Rourke wrote a Juneteenth op-ed calling for a new Voting Rights Act that would “crack down on draconian voter ID laws; prevent politically motivated state officials from purging the voter roles to game the system; expand vote-by-mail and early voting; and declare the first Tuesday of every November a national holiday, so no one has to choose between going to work and participating in their democracy.”

    Kirsten Gillibrand introduced a bill to stop the Trump administration from barring undocumented immigrants from subsidized housing. Currently, undocumented immigrants can’t themselves receive aid for housing, but mixed families can receive pro-rated aid for family members who are citizens or legal residents, with the undocumented family member sharing the residence. Team Trump wants to change that.

    Jay Inslee called out the Trump administration’s rush to war with Iran.

    Bernie Sanders continues to use his platform to advocate for working people. Scroll through his Twitter feed and you’ll see it in action […]

    Amy Klobuchar released a set of pledges for her first 100 days in office, and it is ambitious and wide-ranging.

    Julián Castro rolled out a strong housing plan to combat both the affordability crisis and homelessness.

    Kamala Harris has a plan to stop the spread of HIV, by making PrEP affordable and accessible for everyone who needs it.

    Joe Biden did not have the greatest week, but he did stop by Stonewall to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the protests there.

    Eric Swalwell released his gun violence prevention plan, which includes an assault weapons ban and a national firearm registry.

    Eight Democratic candidates participated in the Poor People’s Campaign forum: Biden, Harris, Sanders, and Warren, but also Michael Bennet, Wayne Messam, Marianne Williamson, and Andrew Yang.

    Pete Buttigieg, [supporting equal rights for gay couples].

    Embedded links within the article provide further details.

  67. says

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi commented on Trump’s announcement that ICE is going to deport thousands of undocumented families after rounding them up in over a dozen cities, starting on Sunday.

    Families belong together. These families are hard-working members of our communities and our country. The President’s action makes no distinction between a status violation and committing a serious crime. It is important that the President and our immigrant communities know that they have rights in America.

    Baltimore Mayor Jack Young also commented:

    I am deeply disturbed by the President’s recent comments around immigration and even more troubled at the reports of increased immigration enforcement.

    Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva was also open about his opposition to Trump’s plans:

    I strongly oppose President Trump’s threats of mass deportations on Twitter and television. His actions are irresponsible and unnecessary if in fact the President is truly concerned with removing violent undocumented felons to ensure your public safety.

  68. Akira MacKenzie says

    @110

    Ah yes, liberalism’s post-Ruby Ridge/Waco hand-wringing followed by the government’s cowardly under-reaction to the Oklahoma City bombing are coming home to roost. If I were governor, and this threat came to my attention, the state’s national guard would be scrambled to every known militia kook and white supremacist hideout to wipe out a known terrorist threat!

  69. says

    From Laura McGann, a look at the tactics that Trump is using to gaslight us on Jean Carroll’s account of rape:

    Tactic #1: Inject doubt

    “I’ve never met this person in my life.”

    When I read this line, I paused. I could have sworn New York magazine published a photo showing Trump and Carroll together. Maybe I had misunderstood. Maybe I was wrong about what I saw. Maybe the publication pulled a fast one on me.

    No. I was right. A photo is clearly embedded in the story.

    Even if Trump didn’t remember Carroll, he certainly read the article and would have seen the photo of himself with her. It’s just not true that he never met her — and he knows it. Trump is deliberately putting readers back on their heels, making them doubt their own eyes.

    Tactic #2: Misdirect

    “Shame on those who make up false stories of assault to try to get publicity for themselves, or sell a book, or carry out a political agenda—like Julie Swetnick who falsely accused Justice Brett Kavanaugh.” […]

    Trump is attempting to make us forget that Ford [Christine Blasey Ford] was at the center of the Kavanaugh controversy, instead bringing up a woman named Julie Swetnick, who said she saw Kavanaugh acting inappropriately at parties when they were in high school. Swetnick’s account was far less specific and detailed as Christine Ford’s account. […]

    Trump is trying to rewrite history, to make us forget what really happened with Kavanaugh. […]

    Tactic #3: Play up irrelevant details

    “Ms. Carroll & New York Magazine: No pictures? No surveillance? No video? No reports? No sales attendants around??”

    Carroll wrote that there was no one around to witness the assault. She did not tell the police. The store didn’t have surveillance. No one was standing by to take a photo. This would all be helpful evidence, certainly, but the lack of it doesn’t mean that her story isn’t true.

    And while Trump plays up these examples of non-existent evidence, he doesn’t address the existing corroborating evidence — that 20 years ago she told two friends who remember the details today. If he did, he’d draw attention to a significant detail in her favor. […]

    Tactic #4: Play the victim

    “False accusations diminish the severity of real assault. All should condemn false accusations and any actual assault in the strongest possible terms.”

    Trump wants us to feel sorry for him.[…] He’s attempting to get us to look at him not as the abuser, but as the victim. In turn, that makes Carroll the villain. This isn’t novel. It’s what abusers do. And it’s something Carroll specifically feared.

    Tactic #5: Cryptic threat of violence

    “The world should know what’s really going on. It is a disgrace and people should pay dearly for such false accusations.”

    Trump doesn’t say he wants someone to hurt Carroll. He doesn’t say he wants his mass digital following to attack her. But the implication is there for anyone who supports him to read into if they wish.

    Trump knows this. Ford has moved repeatedly after receiving death threats. He’s seen what happens to people he targets on Twitter. He can claim he didn’t mean to incite anyone, but he knows he’s done it before.

    He’s also not just warning Carroll. He says “people should pay dearly” — as in, anyone who might come forward in the future. Trump wants to keep accusers afraid. […]

  70. says

    From Wonkette’s coverage of E. Jean Caroll’s account of Trump raping her:

    Yesterday, Elle writer E. Jean Carroll dropped what, in any other timeline, would have been a bombshell allegation against the President of the United States. She wrote, in explicit detail, how Donald Trump raped her in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman’s.

    It would have been bigger news that he claimed to have never met her, when there was a picture of the two of them together in the very story where she made that accusation. When outlets reported that he said he never met her, they probably would have made a reference to said picture. […]

    She wrote:

    I keep laughing. The next moment, still wearing correct business attire, shirt, tie, suit jacket, overcoat, he opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway — or completely, I’m not certain — inside me. It turns into a colossal struggle. I am wearing a pair of sturdy black patent-leather four-inch Barneys high heels, which puts my height around six-one, and I try to stomp his foot. I try to push him off with my one free hand — for some reason, I keep holding my purse with the other — and I finally get a knee up high enough to push him out and off and I turn, open the door, and run out of the dressing room.

    […] You may be wondering why this story is not “bigger news,” why it is not all we are talking about right now. And the reason for that is not only are we in no way surprised or astonished by this news, but because we know it’s not going to fucking matter. It is a depressing reason, but it is the truth. We watched as Brett Kavanaugh got appointed to the Supreme Court with the allegations against him. We watched as Alabama very nearly elected Roy Moore as a Senator. We have seen 21 other women accuse Trump of sexual assault, and though we cared, it has been very clear that his supporters do not. […]

    It’s depressing to know that they are not going to care. […]

    The best thing we can all do now is to simply support E. Jean Carroll, and to support any other women brave enough to come out and accuse Donald Trump of sexual assault. Well, that and hope that more of the 100 million people who didn’t come out to vote last time will come out and vote this time. […]

    From the title of the article: “Republicans absolutely do not care if Trump raped someone.”

  71. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 115,

    Knowing the American Right as I do, they’ll just scream, “Oh yeah? What about Juanita Broaddrick?!?!”

  72. says

    More bluster and lies from Trump:

    I have no idea who she is. What she did is terrible. What’s going on. It’s a total false accusation, and I don’t know anything about her.

    There were numerous cases where women were paid money to say bad things about me. You can’t do that. You can’t do that, and those women did wrong things, that women were actually paid money to say bad things about me.

    I have no idea who this woman is this. It is a totally false accusation. I think she was married, as I read, I have no idea who she is, but she was married to an actually nice guy, Johnson, a newscaster.

    This is a woman who has also accused other men of things …what she did is terrible…people have to be careful because they’re playing with very dangerous territory…it’s a disgrace.

    About the photo of him with Carroll:

    Standing with my coat on in a line, give me a break. With my back to the camera.

    This is about many men, and I was one of the many men that she wrote about. It’s a totally false accusation. I have absolutely no idea who she is.

    If anyone has information that the Democratic Party is working with Ms. Carroll or New York Magazine, please notify us as soon as possible. […]

    I think we can tell from the repetition that he knew who she was at the time, and that he knows who she is now.

  73. says

    Followup to blf @97, and to comment 112.

    Trump said that he will delay the mass deportation raids.

    Trump tweeted:

    At the request of Democrats, I have delayed the Illegal Immigration Removal Process (Deportation) for two weeks to see if the Democrats and Republicans can get together and work out a solution to the Asylum and Loophole problems at the Southern Border. If not, Deportations start!

    From Slate writer Daniel Politi:

    […] Trump claimed the delay was prompted by the Democrats. While it is true that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked Trump to call off the raids, some aren’t so sure that’s what caused the change of heart. Administration officials told the AP that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were concerned that so much about the planned raids had leaked to the media that their agents could be at risk.

    […] “Mr. President, delay is welcome,” Pelosi wrote. “Time is needed for comprehensive immigration reform. Families belong together.” Trump’s tweet, however, seems to set up a legislative showdown in which the president will use the threat of mass deportations in order to get concessions from Democrats on immigration.

    Original post at 12:09 p.m.: President Donald Trump defended the planned deportations of potentially thousands of undocumented families in raids that are set to start in at least 10 cities across the country Sunday. As immigration advocates and many local law enforcement officials decry the move, Trump said the move that will be carried out by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was more than justified.

    “The people that Ice will apprehend have already been ordered to be deported. This means that they have run from the law and run from the courts,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “These are people that are supposed to go back to their home country. They broke the law by coming into the country, & now by staying.”

    “When people come into our Country illegally, they will be DEPORTED!” […]

    Several cities have already made clear they won’t participate in the raids with Chicago outright refusing to share records with ICE agents. The Los Angeles Police Department said ICE has 140 targets in the area. “The Department is not participating or assisting in any of these enforcement actions,” the LAPD said in a statement. New York Attorney General Letitia James also joined those criticizing the deportations, saying that Trump’s “use of migrant families and asylum seekers as political punching bags is a despicable act of racism and xenophobia that is antithetical to our basic human values.”

    Some opposition to the mass raids also seem to be coming from within the administration. The acting head of the Department of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, for example, has been pushing for narrower raids. McAleenan is specifically concerned that children may be separated from their parents and the mass deportations would send the wrong message at a time when ICE is telling lawmakers it needs additional money to help secure the border.

    Trump though, said it was all related, insisting in brief remarks to reporters at the White House that the deportations are “having a big effect on the border” as a deterrent because “the people that came into the country illegally are going to be removed from the country, everybody knows that.”

  74. says

    Oh, FFS. Trump’s latest comments regarding Iran:

    Iran wants to become a wealthy nation again. Let’s make Iran great again. Does that make sense? Make Iran great again, okay with me. But they’re never gonna do it if they think in five or six years, they’re gonna have a nuclear weapon.

    We are not going to have Iran have a nuclear weapon. And when they agree to that, they are going to have a wealthy country, and they are going to be so happy, and I’m going to be their best friend. I hope that happens, but it may not.

    I’m getting a lot of praise for what I did. My expression is, we have plenty of time.

  75. says

    IRANIAN HACKERS LAUNCH A NEW US-TARGETED CAMPAIGN AS TENSIONS MOUNT

    Excerpts from an article in WIRED magazine:

    […] three different cybersecurity firms now say they’ve watched Iran’s hackers try to gain access to a wide array of US organizations over the past few weeks, just as military tensions between the two countries rise to a breaking point—though it’s not yet clear whether those hacker intrusions are aimed at intelligence gathering, laying the groundwork for a more disruptive cyberattack, or both.

    Analysts at two security firms, Crowdstrike and Dragos, tell WIRED that they’ve seen a new campaign of targeted phishing emails sent to a variety of US targets last week from a hacker group known by the names APT33, Magnallium, or Refined Kitten and widely believed to be working in the service of the Iranian government. Dragos named the Department of Energy and US national labs as some of the half-dozen targeted organizations. A third security firm, FireEye, independently confirmed that it’s seen a broad Iranian phishing campaign targeting both government agencies and private sector companies in the US and Europe, without naming APT33 specifically. None of the companies had any knowledge of successful intrusions. […]

    Some signs suggest the new targeting campaign is indeed a cyberespionage operation, an expected step from Iran given the rising saber-rattling between its government and that of the US—amid Iran’s claim to have downed a US drone that breached its airspace and the Trump administration issuing warnings that it may retaliate. But the researchers also note that APT33 has links to data-destroying malware, and warn that the intrusion attempts could be the first step in that sort of more aggressive cyberwar operation.

    […] In 2017, FireEye reported that APT33 infected some victims with “dropper” malware that had in other attacks been used to plant a piece of data-destroying code known as ShapeShift. Crowdstrike, too, says it has seen APT33’s fingerprints appear in some intrusions where another piece of destructive malware known as Shamoon had been used, a wiper tool tied to a collection of sometimes-devastating Iranian sabotage campaigns across the Middle East. […]

  76. says

    More details from the lawyers who were looking into the deplorable conditions in which children are being held in Border Patrol facilities:

    […] So, on Wednesday, we received reports from children of a lice outbreak in one of the cells where there were about twenty-five children, and what they told us is that six of the children were found to have lice. And so they were given a lice shampoo, and the other children were given two combs and told to share those two combs, two lice combs, and brush their hair with the same combs, which is something you never do with a lice outbreak.

    And then what happened was one of the combs was lost, and Border Patrol agents got so mad that they took away the children’s blankets and mats. They weren’t allowed to sleep on the beds, and they had to sleep on the floor on Wednesday night as punishment for losing the comb. So you had a whole cell full of kids who had beds and mats at one point, not for everybody but for most of them, who were forced to sleep on the cement. […]

    New Yorker link.

    More at the link.

  77. blf says

    Not really news to anyone, but bribeon is also a compulsive liar, Biden stumbles over abortion rights while Warren receives cheers:

    […]
    In the first presidential forum on reproductive rights in recent memory, former vice-president Joe Biden told an audience of mostly female Planned Parenthood supporters he had a 100% voting record on reproductive rights.

    In fact, his record on the subject is mixed […]

    […]

    Biden, a Catholic and a Delaware senator for 36 years, has gone back and forth on support for abortion access. […]

    As I’ve opined before, I don’t necessarily mind politicans changing their minds on an issue; that is, flip-flopping needn’t be a problem in and of itself. What I want is one who does not lie that they’ve changed position, and when they have changed position, I want to know why — what facts, reasoning, and so on, caused the change. Bribeon apparently did not explain any of that, he simply lied. For no reason whatsoever.

    For feck’s sake, admitting he once had one position, and now has another, is what at least earns “brownie points” if not approval. Bribeon, if not actually a compulsive liar (in a technical sense), is fecking close to it — lying about an easily verifiable point for no obvious reason at all. (There are exceptions here, such as Jews lying to nazis, for — and this is important — very obvious reasons!)

    Biden told his audience in Columbia he would codify the right to an abortion, granted in Roe v Wade, into law as defined by Casey — a stance more conservative than those of many other Democratic candidates present.

    Casey is the 1992 supreme court decision which allowed states to severely restrict abortion access, including imposing waiting periods and medically unnecessary administrative burdens.

    […]

    Bribeon’s current position is probably one which doesn’t meet approval (in part, albeit codifying a right to an abortion — a position apparently shared by all(?) the speakers present — very clearly did meet with approval), but it’s the lying which has me infuriated.

    Considerably more at the link.

  78. blf says

    On for feck’s sake, Fear in Sri Lanka as monk calls for stoning of Muslims (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    Top monk says Muslims should be stoned amid unsubstantiated reports of Muslim doctor sterilising Buddhist women.

    […]

    With the country still reeling from the bombings and subsequent riots, [Buddhist monk Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thero] repeated unsubstantiated accusations that a Muslim doctor in the central Kurunegala district had covertly sterilised 4,000 Buddhist women.

    Some female devotees said {people like the doctor} should be stoned to death. I do not say that. But that’s what should be done, he said in a speech broadcast on national television.

    Eh? I do not say that [… b]ut that’s what should be done? Whilst very probably in translation, that’s so self-contradictory this nutter should he hired by hair furor as another of alls teh besting peoples.

    The monk, who heads the Asgiriya Chapter, one the largest and oldest Buddhist chapters in Sri Lanka, went on to call for a boycott of Muslim-owned restaurants, reinforcing a long-standing and unsubstantiated rumour that Muslim restaurants served their Buddhist customers food spiked with sterilisation medication.

    Don’t eat from those {Muslim} shops. Those who ate from these shops will not have children in future, he told worshippers at a temple in the central district of Kandy, where that same rumour had unleashed days of anti-Muslim riots last year.

    On Saturday, Gnanarathana defended his comments, saying: The remarks I made are only in line with what the majority are thinking.

    Classic case of someone who claims to be a leader taking up the distant rear whilst bellowing they are in charge and all-forseeing.

    […]
    “Somebody of this calibre talking about false accusations and spitting venom like this is highly problematic because at least the younger generation of Buddhist youth is going to take this seriously … he’s inciting violence,” said Shreen Abdul Saroor, a human rights activist.

    […]

    Considerably more at the link, including a lack of action or even any interest by the President Maithripala Sirisen and teh government

  79. tomh says

    [OT, perhaps way off topic] My wife, an avid knitter, subscribes to a worldwide knitting, crotcheting, spinning, etc. fiber site, where people post projects, chat, etc. It is a very sophisticated site. With over a million, perhaps many more (the page I just looked at just now said 825,00 people logged in last month) members, it’s a very well-known, active site. Anyway, they just posted a new policy this morning, which certainly took me by surprise. Shocked, in fact. (my bold)

    RAVELRY
    New Policy: Do Not Post In Support of Trump or his Administration
    Sunday,June 23rd 2019

    We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry.

    This includes support in the form of forum posts, projects, patterns, profiles, and all other content. Note that your project data will never be deleted. We will never delete your Ravelry project data for any reason and if a project needs to be removed from the site, we will make sure that you have access to your data. If you are permanently banned from Ravelry, you will still be able to access any patterns that you purchased. Also, we will make sure that you receive a copy of your data.

    We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.

    Policy notes:

    You can still participate if you do in fact support the administration, you just can’t talk about it here.
    We are not endorsing the Democrats nor banning Republicans.
    We are definitely not banning conservative politics. Hate groups and intolerance are different from other types of political positions.
    We are not banning people for past support.
    Do not try to weaponize this policy by entrapping people who do support the Trump administration into voicing their support.
    Similarly, antagonizing conservative members for their unstated positions is not acceptable.
    You can help by flagging any of the following items if they constitute support for Trump or his administration:

    Projects: Unacceptable projects will be provided to the member or made invisible to others.
    Patterns: Unacceptable patterns will be returned to drafts.
    Forum posts: right now, only posts written after Sunday, June 23rd at 8 AM Eastern
    Profiles: Please do not flag profiles yet if the only banned content is an avatar or avatars. There is not yet a flagging system for those.

  80. says

    Chris Hayes examined the controversy over the detention camps on the U.S. southern border.

    The video is about five minutes long. “Children are dying in our care and custody. […] Instead of an honest reckoning with this administration’s policies, professional legacy cases like Donald Trump Jr. and Liz Cheney, along with the other opportunists in their party, try to score a cheap rhetorical point in bad faith, something, we should note, they are well-practiced at, and something that will only intensify as we march towards the election. But no amount of debased and craven news-cycle trolling can adequately obscure the moral stakes here.”

    Hayes went on to note the white power/white supremacists supporters that showed up to help Trump kick off his reelection campaign.

    More good points are made in the video, such as the ways in which Trump refers to immigrants as an “infestation” in much the same way that the Nazis talked about Jews and others.

  81. says

    Mark Sumner discussed the fact that the U.S. launched cyber attacks on Iranian military systems.

    Multiple sources are claiming that on Thursday, as the United States first began, then halted, an attack on Iranian air defense forces, a cyberattack was launched to disable those systems. And unlike the physical missiles, the hacks did “fly.” ABC News reports that the attacks were authorized by Donald Trump and specifically made against the systems used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Indications are that the attack was successful. However, it’s difficult to be sure.

    There are few countries that have made as much effort to harden their infrastructure against cyberattack as Iran—for good reason. The Stuxnet “worm,” widely thought to be a joint development of U.S. and Israeli cyber forces, was introduced into Iran sometime between 2005 and 2010 with the apparent intent of disabling centrifuges used for uranium enrichment. The worm infects the small programmable logic controllers (PLCs) within semi-automated machinery, altering the behavior of motors and steppers, and can cause physical damage. Stuxnet can also attack and propagate itself using Windows-based computers.

    However, the same Siemens-made PLCs in Iranian centrifuges are found on many types of systems. Stuxnet went on to wreck about a fifth of Iran’s centrifuges — and to spread to hundreds of thousands of other machines in Indonesia, India, Pakistan, and the United States. Worms derived from Stuxnet have attacked automated systems around the world.

    What type of attack the U.S. used to supposedly shut down Iran’s mobile missile defense systems isn’t known. It might have been a more directed assault targeting specific systems. It might have been a new worm, virus, or bot going after a whole class of automation. For Iran’s part, they have been conducted a cyber offensive on the United States since Trump ordered increased sanctions, sending spearfishing messages to companies in the energy sector, government offices, and Wall Street agencies. Many of those messages have been intercepted. It’s not clear if any have made it through, or what kind of attack is intended to follow if a message is successful.

    The missiles may be grounded, but the electrons are flying. And, as with Stuxnet, the fallout of attacks in both directions may not be clear for years.

  82. says

    Followup to comment 118.

    If Trump’s delay of the massive ICE raids ends when he said it would, (in two weeks), then the deportation process will begin over the July 4th weekend.

  83. says

    Immigrant detention center conditions are ‘inhumane,’ according to UN military standards

    The Trump administration’s treatment of migrant children detained at the border — specifically, conditions that make it impossible for children to sleep — is considered inhumane under international military law.

    A U.S. Justice Department attorney argued in federal court on Tuesday that the government does not need to provide migrant children in custody with soap, toothbrushes, or beds to fulfill the “safe and sanitary” conditions requirement laid out in a consent decree. The practice of sleep deprivation is barred when interrogating prisoners of war, according to international military law.

    In viral videos of the court hearing, the three-judge Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel was left flabbergasted after Justice Department Attorney Sarah Fabian defended the Trump administration’s practice of forcing children to sleep in cold temperatures on cement floors with no bed, 24-hours of artificial light, and only an aluminum blanket to keep them warm.

    “But you’re really going to stand up and tell us that being able to sleep is not a question of safe and sanitary conditions?” asked U.S. Circuit Court Judge Marsha Berzon. “You can’t be safe and sanitary or safe as a human being if you can’t sleep.” […]

  84. says

    Followup to Akira’s comment 116.

    In a Washington Post op-ed, George Conway, Kellyanne Conway’s husband, compared journalist E. Jean Carroll’s description of Trump trying to rape her to Juanita Broaddrick.

    Broaddrick claimed that former President Bill Clinton had raped her. Trump invited Broaddrick as his guest to attend a presidential debate in 2016. Trump was trying to gaslight the public after the release of the Access Hollywood tape. He referred to Broaddrick on the campaign trail as a way to attack Hillary Clinton.

    […] Conway, in his op-ed, says that the Republicans who were concerned about the allegations against Clinton must not dismiss what Carroll wrote. “Trump called Broaddrick ‘courageous,’ and if Broaddrick was courageous, then certainly Carroll is as well,” he writes. “For Carroll’s story is at least as compelling as Broaddrick’s—if not more so.”

    […] As Conway points out in his op-ed, the Access Hollywood video features the president essentially admitting to the behavior he’s been accused of. “What Trump described on the video is exactly what Carroll says he did to her.”

    […] his comparison of Carroll to Broaddrick puts his wife in a more difficult position than normal. Back in the 2016 campaign, Kellyanne Conway went on TV to defend Trump’s decision to revive the Broaddrick’s allegations as part of the presidential campaign. “He believes she deserves to heard and to be believed the way that Hillary Clinton said November of 2015, something I retweeted tonight,” Kellyanne Conway told MSNBC. “She said all sexual assault victims deserve to be heard.”

    […] “People have to be careful because they are playing with very dangerous territory,” Trump said at the White House.

    But George Conway’s op-ed later that same day made it clear that at least some Republicans aren’t ready to dismiss the latest allegations against the president. “Republicans or conservatives who promoted Broaddrick’s charges would be hypocritical if they fail to champion Carroll and condemn Trump.”

    Link

  85. says

    Beto O’Rourke is beefing up his policy staff.

    […] O’Rourke has hired a former Obama administration official and policy executive at the left-leaning Center for American Progress to oversee his campaign’s expanding policy arm.

    Carmel Martin, a former assistant secretary for policy and budget at the Department of Education, has joined O’Rourke’s campaign as his national policy director […]

    Her hiring is a boon to O’Rourke, who is seeking to regain his footing in the Democratic primary. […]

    In addition to Martin, O’Rourke will continue to be advised by Ali Zaidi, a former associate director at Obama’s Office of Management and Budget and O’Rourke’s senior adviser for policy. […]

    he has put behind him early criticism that his campaign lacked policy depth, issuing plans to address climate change, immigration, reproductive rights, electoral reforms and LGBTQ rights, among other issues. […]

    Link

    I think the idea that O’Rourke is light on policy is likely to linger for some time. He will have to work hard to correct what is now a misconception, but what was true earlier in his campaign.

  86. says

    High-stakes legal fight looms over Trump pollution rule

    Democratic state attorney generals and environmental groups are gearing up for what is expected to be a precedent-setting legal battle with the Trump administration over its rollback of an Obama-era power plant pollution rule.

    They argue the new Trump rule won’t do enough to stop climate change and that the administration is ignoring the Clean Air Act’s (CAA) requirement that the federal government manage pollution that is harmful to human health.

    There are high stakes. A loss on their side could limit the EPA’s ability to address climate changing pollution in administrations to come, an outcome the Trump EPA is banking on.

    “If it’s upheld, this new highly constrained legal interpretation that they’ve put forward here could really hinder the use of the Clean Air Act in the future as a tool for reducing climate-changing pollution,” said Lissa Lynch, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

    NRDC is one of a handful of environmental groups, along with a number of state attorney generals who have said they plan to sue over the rule. […]

  87. says

    “North Korea’s Kim receives ‘excellent letter’ from Trump, state media says.”

    Washington Post link

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has received an “excellent” letter from President Trump and is seriously considering what his American counterpart had to say, North Korean state media reported Sunday.

    Earlier this month, Trump announced he had received a “beautiful letter” from Kim, breaking the silence between the two men since a summit in Hanoi in February ended in failure. The president appears to have written back and received a similarly warm response.

    Kim “said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content,” the Korean Central News Agency reported.

    “Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong Un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content,” the agency said.

    The White House confirmed a letter had been sent […]

  88. blf says

    Follow-up to @123, Mano Singham here at FtB has posted Sri Lankan cabinet minister rebukes leading Buddhist monk for tirade against Muslims. Dr Singham is from Sri Lanka and also provides some useful background.

    As far as I can determine, Sri Lankan finance minister Mangala Samaraweera is the only high-level government individual to explicitly oppose the nutter’s incitement. Indeed, Sri Lankan Finance Minister Protests Anti-Muslim Remarks of Top Buddhist Monk reports:

    [… T]here has been no other vocal condemnation from other politicians, including from the top leadership.

    In fact, Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena on Tuesday took part in a religious ceremony to consecrate relics presided over the top monk who had preached social boycott and physical violence against Muslims.

    […]

    There have been no statements yet from President Sirisena or the Sri Lankan prime minister.

    […]

  89. blf says

    In Turkey, Erdoğan’s party defeated in Istanbul mayoral election rerun:

    […]
    Turkey’s ruling party in Istanbul’s controversial mayoral election rerun has conceded defeat, handing the nation’s beleaguered opposition a victory that will have dramatic consequences for President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s grip on the country.

    The ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) candidate and former prime minister Binali Yıldırım admitted he had lost to the opposition Republican People’s party (CHP) candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu in televised remarks just two-and-a-half hours after polls closed on Sunday evening […]

    I presume Erdoğan will now have Yıldırım shot. Along with coming up with next another wheeze to invalidate the result.

    […]
    Turkey’s opposition, meanwhile, was jubilant at the initial results. Cars honked incessantly in liberal neighbourhoods and strangers shook hands and congratulated each other on the win. İmamoğlu’s voice echoed from public television screens and from inside cafes.

    […]

    [… I]n a televised debate with İmamoğlu and in conversations with voters Yıldırım struggled to explain why a repeat election is necessary. Two days before the vote, most reliable polls showed that İmamoğlu’s lead over his rival had widened to as much as 9%. Unofficial counts showed that with nearly all ballot boxes counted, İmamoğlu had a lead of more than 715,000 votes. Yıldırım made his concession speech minutes later.

    The margin the first time was c.13,000 votes.

    […]
    After heavy criticism of official news agency Anadolu’s handling of the 31 March election results — during which the live TV feed stopped several times as the opposition began to make gains — private ANKA news agency and Fox TV in Turkey announced they will also broadcast the live vote count.

    The Council of Europe, a France-based human rights organisation, deployed a team of monitors across Istanbul to observe Sunday’s election.

  90. blf says

    Trump dismisses UN request for FBI to investigate Jamal Khashoggi’s murder:

    […]
    Donald Trump has dismissed a United Nations request for the FBI to investigate the murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, suggesting it would jeopardise American weapons sales to Saudi Arabia.

    A report on Khashoggi’s assassination published last week by the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings said the US should open an FBI inquiry and “pursue criminal prosecutions within the United States, as appropriate”.

    […]

    Asked if he would allow the FBI to investigate, Trump said: I think it’s been heavily investigated.

    Asked who had investigated, the president replied: By everybody. I mean … I’ve seen so many different reports.

    Khashoggi […] was a US resident who wrote for the Washington Post. […]

    […]

    The president [sic] then cited a drastically overinflated figure for Saudi spending on US weapons that fact-checkers have previously noted does not match the official record.

    I only say they spend $400bn to $450bn over a period of time, all money, all jobs, buying equipment, Trump said.

    In fact Saudi Arabia last year signed “letters of offer and acceptance” for $14.5bn in military purchases from the US.

    The Senate last week voted to block the Trump administration selling arms to Saudi Arabia, seven Republicans joining Democrats to pass the measure. Trump has pledged to use his presidential [sic] veto and push on with the sales.

    […]

  91. says

    Trump was interviewed by NBC’s Chuck Todd. Throughout most of the interview, Trump was defending his various indefensible actions and policies.

    […] Trump denied that National Security adviser John Bolton is trying to get him to escalate tensions with Iran to the point of military conflict.

    He told Todd that he has both doves and hawks in his administration, and that National Security adviser John Bolton is “absolutely a hawk.”

    “If it was up to him, he would take on the world at one time, okay?” Trump said. “But that doesn’t matter because I want both sides.” […]

    When asked about the unsanitary conditions migrant kids are forced to live under at the border detention centers, Trump put the blame squarely on his predecessor and Democratic lawmakers.

    “We’re doing a fantastic job under the circumstances,” Trump said. “The Democrats aren’t even approving giving us money. Where is the money? You know what, the Democrats are holding up the humanitarian aid.”

    The president also claimed that Barack Obama “built the cages,” which is true. However, his other claim that Obama was behind family separation is false.

    Though he denied using the kids as political leverage, Trump said the situation at the centers would be fixed “immediately” if Democrats passed more restrictions on migration.

    “If the Democrats would change the asylum laws and the loopholes, which they refuse to do because they think it’s good politics, everything would be solved immediately,” Trump said. “But they refuse to do it.” […]

    Despite the rampant human rights abuses at the hands of the Saudi government, including the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Trump argued that the U.S. still needs to continue its billion-dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia because it generates revenue.

    “Saudi Arabia is a big buyer of American product,” Trump said. “That means something to me. It’s a big producer of jobs.”

    Despite bipartisan opposition to the arms deal that has partially contributed to Saudi Arabia’s brutal treatment of Yemen, the Trump administration has circumvented Congress to go through with the deal anyway.

    Todd asked the President if he’ll continue overlooking Saudi Arabia’s actions as long as they keep buying weapons from the U.S.

    “No, but I’m not like a fool that says we don’t want to do business with them,” Trump responded. “And by the way, if they don’t do business with us, you know what they do? They’ll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese.” […]

    When Todd asked Trump if he regrets accepting hacked Wikileaks documents in 2016 that were later confirmed to be stolen material from the Russian government, Trump said he “wouldn’t have” done it despite directly telling Russia to get Hillary Clinton’s emails during a 2016 campaign rally.

    Trump said he was merely “joking” and that he doesn’t “want anything bad to happen to our country.”

    The President also defended his comment about accepting damaging information on a political rival from foreign countries, saying that it was “fake news.” […]

    Talking Points Memo link

    From the readers comments:

    There should have been interviews with Pelosi (she included money for everything except the wall)
    —————-
    Same old lies. Same old deflections. Same old refusing to acknowledge or take responsibility. Same old inability or unwillingness to express how to do something positive or helpful (without lying or deflecting).
    ——————-
    Same old Russian Mafia gangster-style bravado.
    ——————–
    For Heaven’s sake. Chuck Todd just let Trump “make a meal” for his reality show drama points, where there was no drama. And now we are supposed to talk about it. Someday soon this malfeasance and nonfeasance approach to governing is going to go very wrong and we will only have ourselves to blame for getting sucked into it.

  92. says

    Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, blamed Trump for the escalation of tensions with Iran:

    We increased sanctions, we did everything we could to deprive Iran of any economic benefit of staying in the deal. And now the vice president and others express surprise that Iran may leave the deal and go back to enriching. It would be surprising if they didn’t.

    So yes, the President made the right last minute decision [deciding not to authorize a retaliatory military strike], but frankly the lead-up to that over the last two years has been disastrous.

    Schiff also said that a strike against Iran would have “disastrous consequences.”

  93. says

    Followup to comment 136.

    Another lie Trump told during his interview with Chuck Todd:

    I’ll say something that, again, is controversial. There were a lot of votes that I don’t believe.

    There was much illegal voting.

    [Trump mused about what would have happened in 2016 if the USA did elect presidents by popular vote] I would have done, I think, even better, […] the Electoral College is tougher for a Republican to win than the popular vote, at least for me.

    What a load of bullshit.

    From Mark Sumner:

    All of this is egregiously wrong, of course, and part of Trump’s compulsive efforts to refashion reality in accordance with whatever version would make him look better. If he wanted to win the popular vote he would have done so, via his own genius and just because; the Electoral College is not tougher for Republicans to win than the popular vote, as demonstrated by multiple Republicans doing just that; the notion that millions of illicit votes were cast in California in a still-secret conspiracy is batshit insane, and Trump’s willingness to undermine his voters’ faith in democracy in a continued pouting bid to defend not winning that popular vote is grotesque, contemptible, malevolent, putrid, and summarily impeachable all on its own.

  94. says

    From Masha Gessen’s article “The unimaginable reality of American concentration camps” in The New Yorker:

    Like many arguments, the fight over the term “concentration camp” is mostly an argument about something entirely different. […]

    In a Monday-evening live stream, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, of New York, called the U.S.’s detention facilities for migrants “concentration camps.” On Tuesday, she tweeted a link to an article in Esquire in which Andrea Pitzer, a historian of concentration camps, was quoted making the same assertion: that the United States has created a “concentration camp system.” Pitzer argued that “mass detention of civilians without a trial” was what made the camps concentration camps.

    The full text of Ocasio-Cortez’s tweet was “This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying. This is not hyperbole. It is the conclusion of expert analysis.”

    […] Representative Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, tweeted, “Please @AOC do us all a favor and spend just a few minutes learning some actual history. 6 million Jews were exterminated in the Holocaust. You demean their memory and disgrace yourself with comments like this.” A high-pitched battle of tweets and op-eds took off […]

    But the argument is really about how we perceive history, ourselves, and ourselves in history. We learn to think of history as something that has already happened, to other people. Our own moment, filled as it is with minutiae destined to be forgotten, always looks smaller in comparison. As for history, the greater the event, the more mythologized it becomes. Despite our best intentions, the myth becomes a caricature of sorts. Hitler, or Stalin, comes to look like a two-dimensional villain—someone whom contemporaries could not have seen as a human being. The Holocaust, or the Gulag, are such monstrous events that the very idea of rendering them in any sort of gray scale seems monstrous, too. This has the effect of making them, essentially, unimaginable. In crafting the story of something that should never have been allowed to happen, we forge the story of something that couldn’t possibly have happened. Or, to use a phrase only slightly out of context, something that can’t happen here.

    A logical fallacy becomes inevitable. If this can’t happen, then the thing that is happening is not it. What we see in real life, or at least on television, can’t possibly be the same monstrous phenomenon that we have collectively decided is unimaginable. […]

    Anything that happens here and now is normalized, not solely through the moral failure of contemporaries but simply by virtue of actually existing. […]

    Donald Trump has played this trick on Americans many times, beginning with his very election: first, he was impossible, and then he was President. Did that mean that the impossible had happened—an extremely hard concept to absorb—or did it mean that Trump was not the catastrophe so many of us had assumed he would be? A great many Americans chose to think that he had been secretly Presidential all along or was about to become Presidential; they chose to accept that, now that he was elected, his Presidency would become conceivable.

    The choice between these two positions is at the root of the argument between Ocasio-Cortez and the critics of her concentration-camp comment. It is not an argument about language. Ocasio-Cortez and her opponents agree that the term “concentration camp” refers to something so horrible as to be unimaginable. (For this reason, mounting a defense of Ocasio-Cortez’s position by explaining that not all concentration camps were death camps misses the point.) It is the choice between thinking that whatever is happening in reality is, by definition, acceptable, and thinking that some actual events in our current reality are fundamentally incompatible with our concept of ourselves—not just as Americans but as human beings—and therefore unimaginable. The latter position is immeasurably more difficult to hold—not so much because it is contentious and politically risky, as attacks on Ocasio-Cortez continue to demonstrate, but because it is cognitively strenuous. It makes one’s brain implode. It will always be a minority position.

  95. says

    “Czechs demand PM Babis quit in biggest protest since communist era”:

    An estimated quarter of a million Czechs rallied in Prague on Sunday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Andrej Babis, in the biggest show of public discontent since the 1989 Velvet Revolution which overthrew Communism.

    The rally in Letna park was the culmination of a series of demonstrations in recent weeks against Babis, who has faced investigations over alleged fraud and conflicts of interest, claims he vehemently denies.

    Organizers said they believed that about 250,000 people had attended Sunday’s rally. Phone operator T-Mobile said its network usage analysis put the number of participants at over 258,000. A police spokesman declined to give an estimate.

    The total population of the Czech Republic is 10.7 million.

    Protesters carried banners saying “Resign”, “We’ve had enough”, “We won’t give up democracy”, and others waved Czech and EU flags. Many families brought children to the rally, which was peaceful as were other recent protests against both Babis and his justice minister.

    Babis has said people have the right to protest but has firmly refused to step down. His populist ANO movement remains the most popular party, although its support has dipped slightly in the past two months to 27.5%, according to a poll by Kantar agency released on June 9.

    Babis also has enough backing in parliament, where a no-confidence vote planned for Wednesday is likely to fail.

    Police proposed in April that Babis, a billionaire businessman-turned-politician sometimes likened to U.S. President Donald Trump, should be formally charged for fraud in tapping a European Union subsidy a decade ago to build a hotel and conference center outside Prague. He denies any wrongdoing.

    The appointment of a new justice minister just after the police announcement prompted rallies by demonstrators suspicious that Babis was trying to influence proceedings. Babis has also vigorously denied that claim….

  96. says

    Update to #26 above: “Honduras protest crackdown: Five things to know. Protests against President Juan Orlando Hernandez are likely to continue as the anniversary of the 2009 coup approaches.”

    “On June 28, 2009, soldiers abducted then-President Manuel Zelaya and flew him out of the country, just seven months before his term was set to end. The Liberal Party’s candidate, Zelaya was elected on a centrist populist platform, but had gradually shifted a little to the left as he made alliances with social movements and left-wing Latin American governments.”

    This is one of the very few articles that doesn’t parrot the rightwing lies about the coup.

  97. says

    “Video reveals Steve Bannon links to Boris Johnson”:

    New evidence suggesting close links between Boris Johnson and Donald Trump’s controversial former campaign manager Steve Bannon can be revealed, calling into question the former foreign secretary’s previous denials of an association with the influential far-right activist.

    Video evidence obtained by the Observer shows Bannon, who helped mastermind Trump’s successful bid for the presidency but was later exiled from the White House, talking about his relationship and contacts with Johnson, and how he helped him craft the first speech after his resignation as foreign secretary, in which Johnson tore into Theresa May’s Brexit strategy.

    The revelations will pile new pressure on Johnson after the Guardian reported that police had been called to the flat he shares with his partner, Carrie Symonds, in the early hours of Friday morning after neighbours heard a loud altercation involving screaming, shouting and banging.

    Reports of Johnson and Bannon’s relationship were first published last summer. When asked about it at the time, Johnson said: “As for the so-called association with Steve Bannon, I’m afraid this is a lefty delusion whose spores continue to breed in the Twittersphere.”

    He said he had met Bannon in his role as foreign secretary and found the accusation that he was ‘with Bannon’ to be ‘perplexing’.

    The unpublished footage was shot in July last year by Alison Klayman, an American film-maker who followed Bannon over many months for a new documentary called The Brink. It sets out Bannon’s account of how the two had been in close contact particularly around the time of Johnson’s resignation from the May government.

    The clips also raise further questions about Bannon’s role in the EU referendum. Bannon, a former vice-president at the data firm Cambridge Analytica, had launched a British version of the rightwing news site Breitbart to support Ukip and Farage, and had been its executive chairman during the referendum. Breitbart has been funded by Robert Mercer, the American hedge fund billionaire, who partly owned Cambridge Analytica, and was also the single biggest donor to Donald Trump’s campaign.

    On the day that article 50 was triggered, Nigel Farage was filmed with a pint of beer thanking them both. “Well done Bannon. Well done Breitbart. You helped with this. Hugely,” he said.Other clips shot by Klayman show Bannon talking about the close contact between Breitbart’s editors and the Leave campaigns, including Johnson’s Vote Leave campaign. In one, he says: “Here we kind of trained folks that it takes years to build stuff and get it operating and that’s what I think we proved in Brexit with all the work we did in Breitbart London.”

    At a speech in South Carolina last year, Bannon previously said that Farage and Ukip were foundational to Trump’s success: “I said, ‘That’s a canary in a mine shaft. We have to get a group there that sets up and covers that every day like Breitbart covers politics here. Because by following Ukip, we’re going to understand the evolution of the Tea party.”

    Bannon isn’t a reliable narrator, so we’ll see. Evidently the BBC isn’t showing the video.

  98. says

    Kids dead in the Trump camps: Darlyn, Jakelin, Felipe, Mariee, Carlos, Wilmer, Juan.

    Darlyn Cristabel Cordova-Valle, 10
    Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7
    Felipe Alonzo-Gomez, 8
    Mariee Juárez, 20 mos
    Carlos Hernandez Vasquez, 16 Wilmer Josué Ramírez Vásquez, 2
    Juan de León Gutiérrez, 16

    And the deaths in Trump’s notoriously secretive and brutal camps are no doubt underreported.”

    Pictures at the link.

  99. says

    In light of the renewed attention to the camps on the US southern border, I’ll once again recommend Marrus and Paxton’s Vichy France and the Jews particularly to lawyers and judges. (There’s a new edition coming out in September, but don’t wait – get the original from the library or wherever and then the new one when it’s published.)

  100. says

    More re Istanbul:

    President Erdogan – the most powerful leader Turkey has seen in modern times – has just been dealt the biggest blow of his career.

    This result shows that he made an incredible miscalculation by calling for the election to be re-run.

    It will likely hasten splits in his ruling AK party and amplify talk of the post-Erdogan era. He will stress that he’s in power for the foreseeable future – elections are not scheduled until 2023 – but many will expect them earlier.

    The result in Istanbul feels like it could be a precursor to them.

    They have waited 25 years to control this city and have long felt incapable of success. They are savouring this moment – after all, it could be a watershed one.

    Hundreds of supporters of Mr Imamoglu have gathered here in his stronghold, Besiktas.

    The cautious optimism that was prevalent during the early stages of vote counting has given way to a mood of total jubilation.

    Hopeful youngsters are celebrating and proudly waving Turkish flags. Others are holding banners with pictures of Atatürk – the founder of the modern Turkish republic – on them. Some people are even wearing masks of Mr Imamoglu.

    Many of these young people have only ever known President Erdogan’s AK party in government.

    For them, this is an opportunity to push for change across the country.

    “Many young people desperately want to leave Turkey,” Ayca Yilmaz, a 22-year-old university student tells me. “But now, we might consider staying here. We are hopeful once again.”

    “Erdogan is extremely worried,” Murat Yetkin, a journalist and writer, said ahead of the vote.

    “He is playing every card he has. If he loses, by whatever margin, it’s the end of his steady political rise over the past quarter of a century,” he added.

    “In reality, he’ll still be president, his coalition will still control parliament – although many will perceive his defeat as the beginning of the end for him.”

  101. says

    Carole Cadwalladr:

    Oh, Arron. This is too tragic. Nigel Farage’s secret funder Arron Banks has sent me a pre-action letter this morning: he’s suing me over this TED talk. If you haven’t watched it, please do. I say he lied about his contact with Russian govt. Because he did.

    So strange that you’re going after me, @arron_banks not @TEDTalks or @guardian. Almost as if you think bullying an individual journalist is more effective, intimidation-wise. You can add that one to the bill for free, if you like: you’re a bully.

    Not even 1pm & Boris Johnson campaigner & Arron Banks conduit, Guido has his SECOND piece up about me today. Impressive, lads. One would almost think there’s some sort of concerted campaign to bring me down.

  102. blf says

    tomh@124, The Grauniad reports on the policy, ‘White supremacy’: popular knitting website Ravelry bans support for Trump, with some background. For example:

    The policy drew on a similar statement made last year by roleplaying game site RPG.net, which banned advocacy of Trump from its forums on the grounds that the Trump administration was an “elected hate group”.

    “His public comments, policies, and the makeup of his administration are so wholly incompatible with our values that formal political neutrality is not tenable,” said RPG.net’s administrators in a post. “We can be welcoming to (for example) persons of every ethnicity who want to talk about games, or we can allow support for open white supremacy. Not both.”

    A quick search does not find any frothing-and-spittle — yet — from the wingnuts. On the other hand, as the Grauniad concludes:

    The knitting and crochet community has played a prominent role in the anti-Trump movement in the past, with women wearing homemade pink “pussy” hats to demonstrations around his election and inauguration becoming a distinctive symbol of protest against his presidency.

  103. blf says

    ‘Get Israel off our backs’: Palestinians react to Kushner plan (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}, mine in [square brackets]):

    Economic plan fails to address main problem stunting Palestine’s economy — Israel’s occupation, experts say

    Analysts have rebuked the economic part of the United States’s Middle East peace plan for failing to address the main problem that has heavily curbed the Palestinian economy — the 52-year-old Israeli military occupation over the Palestinian territories.

    […]

    When the document was released, many noticed that the 40-page plan was void of any political context with the words “occupation”, “freedom”, “equality”, “blockade” missing.

    “The absence of those words is actually quite glaring and it’s very indicative of what they see is the issue,” Diana Buttu a Haifa-based analyst and former legal adviser to Palestinian peace negotiators told Al Jazeera.

    “They’ve put together this optimal, pie-in-the-sky plan that any person who’s involved in economic development would love to see. But it’s not applicable to Palestine because they’ve taken away the political context.”

    […]

    [… The plan] doesn’t address the obstacles to freedom of movement that Palestinians face, living under the 12-year Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the Gaza Strip, or under occupation in the West Bank, surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements, deeming it a non-starter for many across the board.

    […]

    “{Kushner’s economic plan [is]} a mish-mash of old ideas, not anything new. {The plan} was portrayed as a fresh new perspective, which is simply not the case,” Yara Hawari, a Palestine policy fellow at Al-Shabaka told Al Jazeera.

    “You’ll notice that the pitches they use in the plan are pitches from people from USAID programs, the very programs that the Trump administration cut, which is cruelly ironic.

    “Convincing Palestinians of this is basically convincing them to take economic incentives in exchange for their rights,” Hawari said.

    A UN report in 2016 found that the economy of the occupied Palestinian territories might reach twice its size if the illegal Israeli military occupation was lifted.

    […]

    Under international law, Israel as an occupier is obliged to foster economic development for Palestinians, whose territory it occupies.

    Palestine’s economy isn’t faltering because of a lack of investments, but due to the occupation, analysts say.

    “{The plan is} a list of all the things that we’ve been working on for the past 25 years and they have failed because of Israel’s military occupation which this economic plan totally ignores, as if it doesn’t exist,” analyst Sam Bahour told Al Jazeera.

    […]

    The plan itself repeatedly mentions applicable Palestinian authorities, Bahour noted, rather than established entities such as the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The US closed the PLO’s office in Washington DC in 2018, while the US does not recognise the State of Palestine.

    […]

    “It’s a very colonial approach, that Palestinians can’t govern themselves so we need to have a separate entity that’s able to manage the funds,” Buttu said.

    […]

    Many more details at the link.

  104. blf says

    Kyrgyzstan’s space women blast off from male dominance:

    Young women are designing Kyrgyzstan’s first satellite while ignoring sexist abuse in a giant leap for womankind.

    […]

    Starting an independent space initiative and finding about $150,000 to finance a satellite in Kyrgyzstan is a challenge. Most people in the small Central Asian nation live in mountainous areas and rely on farming, and about one-third of the population lives in poverty, according to UN figures.

    The satellite girls’ project is financed by donations made on an online crowdfunding page.

    They receive other free support from foreign embassies and organisations who link the women with mentors such as NASA rocket scientist Camille Wardrop Alleyne.

    Alleyne’s charity, The Brightest Stars, aims to help girls from remote or less privileged places to work in STEM […]

    This includes a Girls and Cubes project designed to help more women reach the stars, so Alleyne was impressed to find a group of girls in Kyrgyzstan doing it by themselves.

    “It’s just, wow. That they can take on something like this is just amazing,” she said.

    Helping amateurs build CubeSats “is amazing because it has given access to people and countries who ordinarily would not have had access to space”, while NASA is still developing the model for further exploration, she said.

    “Our first two CubeSats ever went interplanetary and flew by Mars back in November, so you know, it’s just really expanding,” Alleyne added.

    […]

    The courses are held at the offices of a young newspaper called Kloop that is known for challenging discrimination and promoting feminism and LGBTQ rights, and for publishing exposes with the help of new technology.

    Kloop’s cofounder Bektour Iskender came up with the idea of an all-girl space programme after a TED event where he met NASA space economist Alex McDonald, who suggested building a CubeSat in Kyrgyzstan.

    […]

    While people abroad support the satellite project, the response at home has been muted in the media and trolled online.

    “Mostly we are criticised by men,” said 24-year-old Kyzzhibek Batyrkanova […]

    […]

    The trolling initially dampened the girls’ spirits, until Batyrkanova — who the group calls “cosmo mum” — told them to laugh off the comments and created a competition for the best one.

    […]

  105. says

    “German Foreign Minister Recognises Far Right ‘Terrorism Problem’ while British Politicians Normalise it”:

    On 2 June, Walter Lübcke, a 65-year-old regional German politician from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party – and best known for his strong advocacy for the country’s 600,000 refugees – was shot in the head at close range on the terrace of his home in the village of Istha, located a short drive from Dusseldorf.

    When news of his execution broke, far-right extremists took to social media platforms, chat rooms and blogs to celebrate his death, which, in turn, unleashed a wave of death threats against other pro-refugee and left-leaning politicians throughout the country.

    On 18 June, authorities arrested Lübcke’s suspected killer, a 45 year-old man described by German intelligence agencies as a “violent right-wing extremist”, who is known to have had links to neo-Nazi networks and a possible connection to the notorious NSU (National Socialist Underground) – a Far Right group which murdered 10 migrants in between 2000 and 2007.

    Germany “has a terrorism problem,” wrote the country’s Foreign Minister Heiko Mass in an op-ed for the Bild newspaper on Friday.

    “Eighty years after the beginning of World War Two, politicians have again become victims of right-wing terrorists. Because of their beliefs. Because of their commitment to our country,” wrote Maas. “All this shows what many still close their eyes to even now: Germany has a terrorism problem.”

    Maas should be commended for speaking forthrightly and clear-eyed about the alarming and ever increasing threat of domestic right-wing terrorism – a commendation that cannot be ascribed to the UK’s political leaders, despite the fact that counter-terrorism specialists have identified Far Right extremism to be the “biggest security threat” to northern England.

    The UK Government refers to the threat of right-wing terrorism only as “evolved” and “growing”, despite the assassination of MP Jo Cox in 2016 and the foiling of four right-wing terror plots in 2017. Hate crimes against immigrants and Muslims have spiked over the past few years. Even the UK’s former counter-terrorism chief, Mark Rowley, has said that police were monitoring Far Right extremists among a group of more than 3,000 “subjects of interest”.

    “For the first time since the Second World War we have a domestic terrorist group, it’s right-wing, it’s neo-Nazi, it’s proudly white supremacist, portraying a violent and wicked ideology,” Rowley told BBC Newsnight. “If we sleepwalk into it, then I think there is a real danger we give them more scope to get stronger. They’re repackaging their aggressive intolerance and sometimes thinly disguised avocation of violence; they’re repackaging that and attaching it to mainstream political debate.”

    The UK, however, like many Western countries, remains almost exclusively fixated on “jihadist” terrorism, a reality underscored by the fact that, in a study of 4,458 empirically-based peer-reviewed publications relating to domestic terrorism, only a tiny 0.6% are related to right-wing extremism.

    The UK is “sleepwalking,” as Rowley warned, into a domestic right-wing terrorism crisis, and thus following the same blind alley Europe and the US have now found themselves in. Right-wing groups and individuals are responsible for almost 100% of all acts of terrorism on US soil since end 2017.

    The UK Government, media, and public needs to wrap its collective mind around the fact that “jihadist” terrorism was yesterday’s number one security threat, but that right-wing extremism is exactly that of today and tomorrow – particularly as it is becoming internationalised in the same way the attacks of 9/11 globalised the violent jihadist movement.

    The assassination of Walter Lübcke in Germany and Jo Cox in the UK points towards what is likely to emerge as yet another deadly trend: the targeted killings of politicians, which, according to Andreas Forster, an expert on political extremism, “should be understood for what it is and taken seriously: a declaration of war on the state and democratic society”.

    Compounding this threat, of course, is the normalisation and mainstreaming of right-wing extremist rhetoric in everyday political discourse….

    More at the link.

  106. says

    “All eyes on Erdoğan after opposition’s historic win in Istanbul”:

    The last partygoers went home as the sun came up. Across Istanbul on Sunday night, hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters danced in the streets waving Turkish flags and brandishing glasses of beer and raki after their candidate for mayor delivered the most serious blow to the president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in his 16-year political career.

    As municipal workers cleaned up on Monday morning, however, the front pages of Turkey’s pro-government newspapers downplayed the unprecedented success of the Republican People’s party (CHP) mayor-elect, Ekrem İmamoğlu. “Istanbul has voted,” read the subdued headline of the usually rabidly pro-Erdoğan tabloid Yeni Şafak. There were no pictures of the fireworks and scenes of jubilation hours before.

    While the opposition nurses a collective hangover, attention is turning to what the president’s next move will be. İmamoğlu ended 25 years of Islamist party dominance in the rerun for control of Turkey’s biggest city and economic centre, which accounted for 31% of GDP in 2017.

    The result has serious financial implications for the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) and its patronage networks, and will amplify the sense among the opposition and within Erdoğan’s party that the president’s power is starting to wane.

    The loss of Istanbul also has repercussions for policymaking in Ankara. The defeat has ossified divisions in the AKP coalition with the rightwing Nationalist Movement party (MHP) that now appear to be insurmountable, making a cabinet reshuffle likely.

    There is also speculation that Erdoğan may call a snap election to rid his government of fractious elements as he struggles to deal with issues such as Turkey’s struggling economy, Ankara’s next steps in Syria and the prospect of US sanctions over the planned purchase of a Russian S-400 missile system.

    The former president Abdullah Gül and the former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu both openly criticised the AKP for seeking a rerun, fuelling rumours in Turkish media that the senior AKP politicians were preparing to form breakaway parties.

    The decision to rerun the contest, defying the will of voters who had chosen to punish the government for its mishandling of the economic crisis, was an unusual strategic error by the AKP. The mistake was compounded by an erratic and sloppy second campaign in which Yıldırım was forced to play catch up to İmamoğlu. The opposition candidate, already popular for his inclusive and anti-populist stance, was able to canvass on a new platform of saving Turkish democracy.

    Lisel Hintz, a professor at Johns Hopkins University’s European and Eurasian studies department, said: “We still need to see how Erdoğan reacts to İmamoğlu’s victory. Istanbul serves not only as a symbol of where he launched his political career, but also as a massive source of rents that can be used to garner electoral support.

    “We’ve seen already through the rerun that he was not willing to let it go easily. We now have to wait and see whether İmamoğlu’s tenure as mayor will be interfered with in any way, whether by cutting off funding and hampering his office’s ability to provide services or by removing him under some legal pretext.”

    Also on Monday, the trial began of 16 prominent figures from the 2013 Gezi Park protests in Istanbul that challenged Erdoğan’s authority – a reminder that while Istanbul has signalled its overwhelming appetite for change, the president has over the years consolidated his grip on Turkey’s democratic institutions, and remains very much in control.

    The overarching mood on the city’s İstiklal Avenue and in liberal neighbourhoods was still upbeat, however, as the opposition relished its rare victory….

  107. says

    “Boris Johnson refuses to appear on Sky Tory leadership debate”:

    Boris Johnson’s refusal to face public scrutiny as he runs for the Conservative party leadership has prompted Sky News to cancel a televised debate this week.

    The broadcaster said that unless Johnson agreed to take part in the debate on Tuesday it would not go ahead. Instead it offered an alternative date of 1 July in an effort to get him and his fellow contender, Jeremy Hunt, to appear.

    Hunt had agreed to take part in Tuesday’s debate and urged Johnson to join him. But Johnson’s team has repeatedly refused to say whether he plans to take part as it continues to restrict his media appearances.

    The head-to-head format of the planned debate meant it would not have been possible for Johnson to be replaced by an empty podium on Sky as he was in a Channel 4 debate earlier in the leadership contest last week….

  108. blf says

    Mike Pence repeatedly refuses to say climate crisis is a threat to US (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […] Mike Pence declined repeated invitations to say the human-induced climate crisis is a threat to US national security.

    What I will tell you is that we will always follow the science on that in this administration, the vice-president said, in answer to CNN State of the Union host Jake Tapper’s first posing of the question.

    Tapper responded: “The science says it is.”

    Pence said: But what we won’t do, and the Clean Power Plan was all about that, was hamstringing energy in this country, raising the cost of utility rates for working families across this country.

    [W]e will always follow the science [… b]ut what we won’t do (my emphasis).

    Tapper interjected: “But is it a threat?”

    Pence did not answer the interjection […]

    Tapper persevered: “But is what people are calling a climate emergency, is it a threat? Do you think it is a threat, manmade climate emergency is a threat?”

    Pence said: I think the answer to {that} is going to be based upon the science.

    Tapper insisted “the science says yes” and told the vice-president “the science community in your own administration, at {the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration} at the {Director of National Intelligence}, they all say it is a threat … but you won’t, for some reason.”

    [… and so on…]

    Tapper tried once more: “OK. So you don’t think it is a threat, is all I’m saying? You don’t think it is a threat?”

    Pence said: I think we’re making great progress reducing carbon emissions. America has the cleanest air and water in the world…

    Tapper interrupted, laughing: “That is not true. We don’t have the cleanest air and water in the world. We don’t.”

    […]

  109. blf says

    Not at all political, but more on knitting, Camouflage knitting (photo gallery): “Joseph Ford is a […] photographer from Brighton. He creates images seamlessly camouflaging people into backgrounds using knitwear made by Nina Dodd. It can take Dodd […] up to 40 hours to knit one item of clothing”.

  110. blf says

    In teh NKofE, Nearly half of Tory members would not want Muslim PM — poll:

    […]
    Nearly half of Conservative party members would prefer not to have a Muslim prime minister, a survey into the scale of Islamophobia in the party has suggested.

    The poll, carried out by YouGov for the anti-racism group Hope Not Hate, also found that more than two-thirds of Tory members believe the myth that parts of the UK are under Sharia law, and 45% think some areas are not safe for non-Muslims.

    Half of the party’s members think that Islamophobia is a big issue, but only 8% believe it is a problem within the party, the survey found.

    […]

    The party’s membership base, thought to be about 160,000-strong, will vote in a leadership ballot to choose Britain’s next prime minister in the coming weeks.

    Last month, the Muslim Council of Britain submitted 20 pages of evidence to the Equality and Human Rights Commission calling for an inquiry into Islamophobia in the party, with the Tory peer Sayeeda Warsi calling the problem “institutional”.

    It has also been alleged that the party chairman, Brandon Lewis, ignored requests for racist and Islamophobic incidents reported by members to be investigated.

    […]

  111. says

    “Oversight panel demands White House official testify on Trump-Putin docs”:

    The House Oversight and Reform Committee is demanding that the White House’s records chief testify about President Donald Trump’s alleged efforts to conceal documents detailing his private conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    In a letter to acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said the White House has ignored his requests for information about Trump’s compliance with the Presidential Records Act, which mandates that such documents be preserved.

    “These actions do not serve the interests of the American people, and they obstruct and frustrate the committee’s review,” Cummings wrote in his letter, which comes just a few days before Trump is scheduled to meet with Putin at the G-20 summit in Japan.

    Cummings wants the White House records manager “or another official competent to address these issues” sit with the committee for a transcribed interview by July 8.

    Cummings also asked the White House to answer questions about reports that Trump confiscated an American interpreter’s notes detailing his private conversation with Putin in July 2017.

    The chairman did not threaten to issue a subpoena, but the White House has rebuffed a growing number of requests for information from House Democrats, including the Oversight Committee’s investigation into alleged abuses of the White House security clearance process.

    Just start the fucking impeachment, for the love of democracy.

  112. says

    “‘The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum unequivocally rejects efforts to create analogies between the Holocaust and other events, whether historical or contemporary’, says the museum’s statement.”

    This is absurd and shameful.
    The museum literally has an ongoing exhibit “Syria: Please Don’t Forget Us”: “Since the start of the conflict in Syria, the Museum has been sounding the alarm for policymakers and the public about atrocities being committed by the Assad regime. As part of its campaign of violence, the Syrian government has detained more than 100,000 of its own citizens. In many cases, the government has refused to release their names. Families of the missing do not know whether loved ones are alive or dead….”

  113. says

    Lorber was one of the phone calls Trump Jr. made prior to the Trump Tower meeting.

    From Glenn Simpson’s House Intel Committee testimony in 2017:

    MR. SWALWELL: What is your knowledge of Donald Trump, Donald J. Trump, the father’s travel to Russia? Can you tell us how many times you believe he has traveled to Russia, in your research?

    MR. SIMPSON: I believe that he’s been to Russia a minimum of four or five times, and that he’s been going to Russia since the late Soviet years.

    And we — we did spend a lot of time digging into the origins of his interest in Russia and his fascination with Russia and it’s an interesting tale. I mean, it’s —he —one of the few people who Donald Trump calls like a good friend is a guy named Howard Lorber, who is a real estate investor.

    And Lorber was one of the –one of the early –there was sort of a swashbuckling crowd of American investors who moved into Russia in those early years when it was really wild. And Lorber –I’m trying to remember the names of the other ones, but there was a small group of people and Donald was pretty tight with them.

  114. blf says

    Follow-up to some of the polish nazi government antics, EU court rules Poland’s lowering of judges’ retirement age is unlawful:

    […]
    Poland’s lowering of the retirement age for judges breaches EU law, the European court of justice has said […]

    […]

    Since taking office in 2015 PiS has assumed direct oversight of state prosecutors and the judicial body that appoints, promotes and disciplines judges. In 2018 the government introduced a law to force the retirement of 40% of supreme court judges.

    That measure has now been ruled as inconsistent with the EU fundamental values of democracy and the rule of law.

    In a statement the court said that lowering the retirement age of judges to the supreme court was “not justified by a legitimate objective and undermines the principle of the irremovability of judges, that principle being essential to their independence”.

    The court also referred to Poland’s obligations under the charter of fundamental rights and EU treaty article 2, which states that the union is founded on values, including democracy and the rule of law.

    […]

    Rather more at the link.

  115. says

    Thread about the statement in #170.

    “…That the US Holocaust museum is choosing to fight over an analogy rather than condemn the concentration camps on our borders full of children, full of people seeking refuge from violence, is heartbreaking and feels like a betrayal of what I thought was one of the main purposes of the museum. This president will poison everything before it is done, I fear. “

  116. says

    Update to #5 – this is the longer opinion promised by the judge:

    “Maryland judge in census case: ‘Plaintiffs’ new evidence potentially connects the dots between a discriminatory purpose—diluting Hispanics’ political power—and Secretary Ross’s decision’.

    ‘It is becoming difficult to avoid seeing that which is increasingly clear. As more puzzle pieces are placed on the mat, a disturbing picture of the decisionmakers’ motives takes shape’.”

  117. says

    From text quoted in blf’s comment 158:

    “It’s a very colonial approach, that Palestinians can’t govern themselves so we need to have a separate entity that’s able to manage the funds,” Buttu said.

    That’s exactly the part that stuck with me from Kushner’s recent interview, in which he said that hopefully the Palestinians can learn to govern themselves.

    Kushner is such an arrogant twit.

  118. says

    Steve Benen debunked some of the lies Trump told in that interview with Chuck Todd. Here is an excerpt:

    […] On his fourth day as president, Trump hosted a private discussion with congressional leaders at the White House to discuss his legislative agenda. He spent the first 10 minutes talking about the campaign and his belief that he won the popular vote, even if reality suggested otherwise.

    Nearly three years later, Trump hasn’t let this go, as was obvious in his “Meet the Press” interview with NBC News’ Chuck Todd.

    TODD: You didn’t like the fact that you lost the popular vote. That bothered you, didn’t it?

    TRUMP: Well, I think it was a — I mean, I’ll say something that, again, is controversial. There were a lot of votes cast that I don’t believe. I look at California.

    TODD: Mr. President.

    TRUMP: Excuse me…. Take a look at Judicial Watch, take a look at their settlement where California admitted to a million votes. They admitted to a million votes.

    TODD: A million votes of what?

    While deciphering the president’s weird conspiracy theories can be challenging, in this case, I think Trump was referring to California removing a million inactive voter registrations — folks who either moved out of state or died — from the voter rolls. At no point did state officials ever “admit” that a million illegal ballots were cast In fact, there’s no evidence of any illegal votes in California.

    That’s right. There is no evidence of any illegal votes in California.

    For that matter, Hillary Clinton’s popular-vote advantage over Trump was nearly 3 million ballots, not 1 million.

    But even putting these details aside, this is arguably more than just another example of the president believing a weird and discredited theory. […]

    MSNBC’s Chris Hayes recently added, “I think Democrats are vastly underestimating the ways a corrupt and lawless president can use the powers of the presidency itself to cheat in an election. The ‘sure I’d collude’ stuff is just the tip of the iceberg.”

    All of this comes against a backdrop in which Trump talks a little too often about remaining in power beyond two terms, despite the Constitution’s limits, including a weird tweet the president published on Friday afternoon.

    That “weird tweet” was an animated graphic showing Trump 2020, Trump 2024, Trump 2028, etc., and on and on.

  119. says

    Further debunking of yet another one of Trump’s brazen lies:

    […] TRUMP, When I became president, President Obama had a separation policy. I didn’t have it. He had it. I brought the families together. I’m the one that brought ’em together. Now, I said something when I did that. I’m the one that put people together…. They separated. I put ’em together.

    DIAZ-BALART: You did not.

    In case there are any doubts, Jose Diaz-Balart was right and the president was wrong. As the Associated Press put it in a fact-check piece, Trump was simply “not telling the truth.”

    To be sure, the president has told this lie before. But the fact remains that [Trump] has had a year to come up with a compelling defense for his family-separation policy, and it appears the best he can do is peddle a brazen lie.

    The idea that this is simply a continuation of an Obama-era practice is “preposterous,” Denise Gilman, director of the Immigration Clinic at the University of Texas Law School, told NBC News. “There were occasionally instances where you would find a separated family — maybe like one every six months to a year — and that was usually because there had been some actual individualized concern that there was a trafficking situation or that the parent wasn’t actually the parent.”

    Once custody concerns were resolved, “there was pretty immediately reunification,” Gilman added. “There were not 2,000 kids in two months — it’s not the same universe,” she said.

    Is Trump “the one that ended” the family-separation policy? Grammar aside, this is backwards: Trump is the one who created the family-separation policy. As we’ve discussed, he eventually issued an order to end his own practice, but for Trump to brag about this is like listening to an arsonist boast about putting out a fire he started.

    What’s more, as we discussed last week, the policy the president wants credit for ending doesn’t appear to have actually ended, at least not entirely.

    It’s understandable that Trump is struggling to defend the indefensible, but his attempts at gaslighting almost literally add insult to injury.

    Link

  120. says

    All the best people. Another Trump supporter gets caught breaking the law.

    Border vigilante Jim Benvie had a terrible Friday.

    After months of viral fame, the man responsible for live-streaming dozens of his and his masked militia friends’ “arrests” of migrants and asylum seekers at the border was charged with impersonating a federal agent, according to newly unsealed court filings.

    The Daily Beast also revealed Friday that Benvie had been charged with fraud in Oklahoma, for allegedly padding his own pockets with money he ostensibly raised for a cancer-striken child.

    […] an officer observed that Benvie was in possession of seemingly fraudulent fundraising materials. The arresting officer noted that Benvie couldn’t name the child for whom he claimed to be raising money. When the boy’s parent saw the Beast report, he contacted law enforcement.

    “I’ve chased him from Georgia to Tennessee and now Texas, Oklahoma, running this scam,” Eric Cremeens, father of cancer survivor Ryan, told the publication.

    Then, in an indictment filed under seal Wednesday and unsealed Friday, Benvie was accused of two counts of impersonating a U.S. Border Patrol agent. […]

    TPM link.

  121. blf says

    Finland’s Yle radio axes Latin news show after 30 years service:

    […]
    Finland’s public broadcaster Yle has ended its weekly Latin language news bulletin, after three decades on the air, the broadcaster announced.

    Since its debut in 1989, Nuntii Latini has offered a five-minute summary of the week’s national and foreign news in the classical language.

    In later years the show was also made available online, garnering it around 40,000 listeners around the world, including some from the Vatican.

    The last bulletin was broadcast on June 14, and detailed the agreement between the US and Mexico on immigration, talks between the presidents of China and Russia and the end of the Latin programme, which “post ferias aestivas non continuabuntur” (will not resume after the summer holiday).

    […]

    Kaj Farm, head of programmes for Yle Radio 1, said they had decided to cancel the show since the producers were unable to continue.

    “The same people have been doing it week for week now for 30 years, and they are not that young anymore,” he told AFP.

    […]

    In addition to Finnish and Swedish, Yle produces news in English, Russian, Sami, Roma, simplified Finnish, Karelian and sign language.

    Finland has distinguished itself as a bastion of the language of ancient Rome in other ways and is the home to academic Jukka Ammondt, who translated Elvis Presley’s repertoire into Latin.

    […]

  122. blf says

    Paris honours LGBTQI+ icons by naming four central squares and streets after them:

    Paris has named a handful of central squares and streets after historically important LGBTQI+ figures, with the ambition of becoming one of the world’s leading rainbow capitals as France struggles to overcome a spike in homophobic attacks.

    Harvey Milk, the Stonewall riots and France’s own Ovida Delect and Pierre Seel…

    On June 19, Paris’s Mayor Anne Hidalgo honoured LGBTQI+ icons by renaming four squares and streets after them in the French capital’s fourth arrondissement, which is located in the Marais — the city’s unofficial LGBTQI+ neighbourhood.

    The retitling now brings the total number of Parisian squares and streets named after famous LGBTI+ […] figures to more than 40 since Hidalgo’s 2014 inauguration, and comes amid heightening hostility towards the community in France.

    According to a report published by the SOS Homophobie association in May, 2018 was a “black year” for the French LGBTQI+ community, with a staggering 15 percent rise in homophobic attacks from the year before.

    […]

    More at the link. The IVe arrondissement (which happens to include Notre-Dame) is stuffed full of interesting places on narrow streets, but is expensive, even by Parisian standards.

  123. says

    More deaths at the U.S.-Mexico border. More clueless comments from Republicans.

    Four bodies—those of two infants, a toddler, and a woman estimated to be 20 years old—were found near the Rio Grande on Sunday, and one of Texas’s Republican senators responded by blaming the dead woman and trying to score cheap political points. […] sneering contempt came from Texas Republican John Cornyn, too often an underrated player in the who’s-the-biggest-asshole-in-the-Senate competition, and one who is underrated exactly because his viciousness is just a slightly spicier version of the typical Senate Republican.

    Cornyn’s response to the tragic deaths of a young woman and three small children presumably fleeing violence or poverty? “Sadly, this is what happens when infants are used as a ticket to enter the US due to arcane laws,” he tweeted.

    We don’t know the facts behind these deaths—and neither does Cornyn. But we know general patterns of who’s coming to the U.S., and to say that someone who was obviously risking her life and the lives of her children was using those children as “a ticket” is grotesque.

    Asylum-seekers coming here with children are trying to save their children’s lives and their own lives, calculating that the risk of the journey is less than the risk of staying in place. That calculation is in fact one of the reasons the Trump administration is keeping migrants in such dangerous, abusive conditions—to make parents think that maybe it’s safer to stay in their home countries despite gang violence or domestic violence, because the danger of the journey will be compounded by the abuse to be inflicted on them by Team Trump. And John Cornyn is only too eager to join in and paint a dead woman as some kind of cynical trickster.

    Link

  124. says

    Oh, yuck. Evidence of blatant racism in commentary about African teams playing in the Women’s World Cup:

    This Women’s World Cup was a historic one for African football: For the first time ever, two African teams, Cameroon and Nigeria, advanced to the knockout rounds. […]

    […] it has also shone an ugly spotlight on the racist stereotypes that so many in the media cling to when discussing female football players from African countries, both on the field and off. […]

    In Nigeria’s 3-0 loss to Germany on Saturday, Cat Whitehill of Fox Sports 1 quite explicitly said that Nigeria’s white, European head coach, Thomas Dennerby, had been able to tame the wild, raw athleticism on the team, and refine their skills with his benevolent discipline and knowledge. […]

    Additionally, throughout the broadcast, Whitehill and her partner, Lisa Byington, repeatedly brought out the old “pace and power” trope to describe what Nigeria brought to the pitch. Not only is this notion rooted in racist stereotypes of black athletes, but it is also comedically lazy commentary considering the fact that an informed audience can witness the team’s tactics, timing, and precision in real time as the announcers simultaneously overlook it. […]

    Think Progress link

  125. says

    Representative Lloyd Smucker, a Republican from Pennsylvania, voted for Trump’s massive tax cuts for the rich … and now he is complaining that there is not enough money to pay for policies supported by the new appropriations bill.

    Last week, the House Democrats offered a spending package (H.R. 2740) that will spend billions more than our current budget caps allow—including in support of taxpayer-funded abortions. [Smucker wrote]

    Our nation is more than $20 trillion in debt, and longstanding policy has been to separate abortion from healthcare funding. The bill would overturn these provisions and would also undermine other critical protections for the lives of the unborn. I couldn’t support these provisions and opposed the bill.

    Fact-check from Josh Israel:

    […] While the bill, which cleared the House, would continue limited funding for fetal tissue research and would lift a gag order by President Donald Trump for family planning providers who mention abortion, it does not actually provide any funding for abortions.

    “Hyde Amendment” prohibitions also were included in the bill, which would make it harder for poor women and gender minorities to access abortions.

    Even if he weren’t wrong about the legislation, Smucker’s fiscal rationale for opposing it is hard to grasp. In his first term in Congress, Smucker voted for a massive tax cut which significantly expanded the budget deficit and national debt. Even after it became apparent that these tax cuts were not going to pay for themselves, he voted for another bill to make them permanent.

    Thanks to Smucker’s vote, and those of his Republican colleagues, the federal budget deficit reached an all-time high in November and the national debt has never been larger.

    Link

  126. says

    Trump announced new sanctions against Iran. Trump does not really have a plan, nor a process, that would lessen tensions between the U.S. and Iran; nor does he have a plan to bring U.S. allies into his willy-nilly tough-man act.

    […] Trump on Monday signed an executive order for new “hard hitting” sanctions on Iran […]

    The new sanctions will prevent Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, his office, and perhaps those in his inner circle “access to key financial resources and support,” said Trump […]

    “We would love to be able to negotiate a new deal with Iran, but if they don’t want to, that’s fine too,” said the president, holding up the order he had just signed. He said that the new sanctions were “going to happen anyway.”

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin held a press conference immediately following the signing of the new executive order, announcing specific actions against individuals he said were “responsible for recent activities,” including three senior leaders of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, which the United States designated as a terrorist organization earlier this year.

    Mnuchin also said Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will be designated for sanctions later this week. […]

    Mnuchin said he had “not consulted on these specific sanctions” with U.S. allies.

    […] “Are there really any sanctions left that the United States has not imposed on our country recently or in the past 40 years?” said Abbas Mousavi, spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry at a press conference before Trump’s announcement on Monday.

    Last May, Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA), which saw the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, and Germany offer sanctions relief to Iran in exchange for the country curbing nuclear enrichment activities tied to its energy program. (Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program.)

    Trump violated the JCPOA, claiming that it should cover a whole host of other issues — everything from Iran’s ballistic missile program to its participation in the Syrian war.

    The U.S. State Department then issued 12 demands it said Iran had to meet before the sanctions were lifted — demands Iran could only essentially meet if it changed its entire foreign policy, and underwent regime change.

    […] Trump also ordered cyber attacks targeting Iran’s missile systems. Iranian media reported that the attacks had failed. […]

    Hesameddin Ashena, adviser to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, tweeted earlier Monday that in order to resume negotiations with the Trump administration, Iran might want more than just sanctions relief.

    “If they want something beyond the JCPOA, they should offer something beyond the JCPOA; with international guarantees,” he wrote.

    Ashena also tweeted a terse response to Bolton’s statement on Sunday, in which he said that Iran should not “mistake U.S. prudence and discretion for weakness.”

    Ashena wrote, “For all the caution and self-restraint we have shown, it is now your turn. Practice until you learn.”

    Link

  127. says

    This is a good tactic: deprive wannabe-Nazis of beer.

    Residents of Ostritz, Germany, bought up hundreds of crates of beer to keep it out of the hands of neo-Nazis descending on the town for a music festival […]

    A Dresden court imposed a ban on the sale and possession of alcohol at the “Shield and Sword” festival, prompting police in the state of Saxony to confiscate more than 1,000 gallons of beer Friday and Saturday.

    Suspecting the festival attendees would seek to buy alcohol at the local supermarkets instead, town residents reportedly bought more than 200 crates.

    “The plan was devised a week in advance. We wanted to dry the Nazis out. We thought, if an alcohol ban is coming, we’ll empty the shelves at the Penny [supermarket],” local activist George Salditt told the German-language Bild newspaper. […]

  128. says

    Prisoner of War Geneva Convention of 1949:

    “Prisoners of war shall have for their use…conveniences which conform to the rules of hygiene…Apart from the baths and showers with which the camps shall be furnished prisoners of war shall be provided with sufficient water and soap.”

    From Caitlin Dickerson:

    LATEST: Children, including infants, are being held in a filthy border station. Their clothes are soiled with mucus, feces and breast milk. No soap. No toothbrushes. Not enough food. Even the guards are wearing masks.

    “There is a stench”

    From Wonkette:

    One day, God willing, my grandchildren will click open their history textbooks and read about the Central American migrant internment camps. They’ll learn about sick kids, locked in cages, kept hungry and dirty and cold for weeks on end, and they’ll be horrified.

    “Bubbie,” they’ll say, “how could this happen in America? How could there be toddlers sleeping on the ground without blankets, without soap or toothbrushes to clean themselves?”

    “I don’t know. I wish I had done more. I’m ashamed,” I’ll say. We will all have to answer for this atrocity. But some of us will have to answer more than others. Not just the arch villains like Stephen Miller and John Kelly, but the people who kept right on doing their jobs, even as those jobs morphed into defending concentration camps. […]

  129. says

    From Dahlia Lithwick’s and Margo Schlanger’s research for Slate:

    […] 1. Migrant children are being held in dangerous mass detention facilities. […]

    2. Families continue to be separated—and the administration is slow-walking reunifications. […]

    3. The administration is undermining asylum. […]

    4. Trump has threatened immigration raids. […]

    More at the link.

    What you can do, (in addition to calling your local, state, and federal representatives).

    • KIND—Kids in Need of Defense—has been leading advocacy efforts for kids in immigration detention.

    • The Women’s Refugee Commission is leading national efforts against family separation and child detention to preserve access to asylum, increase use of alternatives to detention, and improve detention conditions.

    • The Catholic Legal Immigration Network plays a crucial role coordinating legal services in response to administration-created crises.

    • The ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project is litigating these and other policies at the border.

    • RAICES is the largest immigration nonprofit in Texas offering free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children and families.

    • Al Otro Lado serves indigent deportees, migrants, and refugees in Los Angeles and Tijuana, Mexico.

    • The Florence Project provides legal and social services to detained immigrants in Arizona.

    • Lawyers for Good Government suggests that you can contribute to the Project Corazon Travel Fund to send more lawyers (particularly Spanish-speaking immigration lawyers) to the detention centers and refugee camps. […]

    • Justice in Motion has created a network of human rights lawyers and nongovernmental organizations across Mexico and Central America to find parents deported without their children and help families reunite in their countries of origin.

    • Immigrant Families Together supports bonds, living expenses, and medical and legal needs of migrant families.

    • Innovation Law Lab builds tools for immigration-related crisis response, aiming to improve representation and due process.

    • ActBlue has a one-click button to support many of these organizations at once.

    • Lights for Liberty is doing local event coordination and is organizing nationwide protests and vigils being planned for July 12.

    Finally, the administration has ramped up “ordinary” immigration enforcement against individuals and families all over the United States, many of whom have lived here for years and even decades. Many have valid defenses against deportation that they are unable to assert because they lack the resources to pay immigration counsel. In our home states of Michigan and Virginia, two organizations that meet a fraction of this need are the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center and the Legal Aid Justice Center. Your state has an organization too. Google “indigent immigration defense” and your state’s name, and you’ll find it.

  130. says

    “Murdoch lieutenant ordered removal of New York Post story on Trump sexual assault allegation, sources say”:

    The New York Post’s former top editor, a supporter of President Trump and an old lieutenant of Rupert Murdoch who returned to the conservative tabloid as an adviser in early 2019, ordered the removal of a story about writer Jean Carroll’s sexual assault allegations against President Trump, two people familiar with the matter told CNN Business.

    The Post’s story about Carroll’s sexual assault allegations was mysteriously scrubbed from the tabloid’s website on Friday afternoon. The link to the story, which had been written by reporter Joe Tacopino, directed readers to a dead or 404 page.

    A wire story by the Associated Press which had been published on the Post’s website was also removed.

    A spokeswoman for the Post declined to comment. The spokeswoman did not dispute the account of events CNN Business provided to her, nor did she provide an explanation for the removal of the stories about Carroll’s accusations.

    But the two people familiar with the matter told CNN Business that Col Allan, the former editor-in-chief of the Post who currently works as an adviser to the paper, ordered the story to be scrubbed from the website.

    Despite being removed from the Post’s website, the story was still drawing traffic, likely because it remained in Google’s search results.

    One of the people familiar with the matter said it had generated over 90,000 page views and that the dead link was still attracting hundreds of views each hour as of Saturday afternoon.

  131. says

    “People want to donate diapers and toys to children at Border Patrol facilities in Texas. They’re being turned away.”:

    On Sunday, Austin Savage and five of his friends huddled into an SUV and went to an El Paso Target, loading up on diapers, wipes, soaps and toys.

    About $340 later, the group headed to a Border Patrol facility holding migrant children in nearby Clint with the goal of donating their goods. Savage said he and his friends had read an article from The New York Times detailing chaos, sickness and filth in the overcrowded facility, and they wanted to help.

    But when they arrived, they found that the lobby was closed. The few Border Patrol agents — Savage said there were between eight and 10 of them — moving in and out of a parking facility ignored them.

    For a while, the group stood there dumbfounded about what to do next. Ultimately, they decided to pack up and head home. Savage said he wasn’t completely surprised by the rejection; before he left, the group spotted a discarded plastic bag near the lobby door holding toothpaste and soap that had a note attached to it: “I heard y’all need soap + toothpaste for kids.”

    “A good friend of mine is an immigration attorney, and he warned us that we were going to get rejected,” Savage said. “We were aware of that, but it’s just the idea of doing something as opposed to passively allowing this to occur.”

    A slew of other sympathetic people, advocacy groups and lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle have expressed a desire to lend a hand to the kids housed in the facilities. But after purchasing items like toys, soap, toothbrushes, diapers and medicine — especially as news reports circulate of facilities having drinking water that tastes like bleach and sick children without enough clothing — they’ve been met with a common message: No donations are being accepted.

    “It makes me feel powerless knowing there’s children taking care of toddlers and little kids,” said Gabriel Acuña, who grew up in Clint and attempted to visit the facility in his hometown Sunday morning. “Knowing what’s happening in your community and that you can’t give these kids supplies to clean or clothe themselves — it’s heartbreaking.

    “For God’s sake, they’re kids, man.”…

  132. says

    Mimi Rocah: “My father fled the Nazis & relatives died in the camps. I’m angry & ashamed @AJCongress that you choose to spend your time & resources attacking @AOC, who is trying to end cruelty to children, instead of working to get this Administration to end this inhumane treatment.”

    Jed Shugerman: “I thought ‘Never again’ meant ‘Never again to anyone’. Not ‘We will make damn sure the Holocaust is Never Again relevant to anyone anywhere – despite actual concentration camps in 2019’. I was hoping to never again have to make this point, but here we go again. Thank you @AOC.

    Why do we have a @HolocaustMuseum museum if its directors:
    1) work to make sure it is not relevant as an eternal lesson to humanity about inhumanity?
    2) don’t understand that examples of concentration camps are not limited to Nazi death camps?
    3) are not good at history?”

    Memorializing and teaching about the Holocaust in the US (and everywhere) is inherently political and has always been political. I discussed this briefly just this past August. The extent to which the institutions involved are influenced and co-opted by corrupt, racist, far-Right authoritarians in power in the US is new, though. This isn’t a distraction – this history, and history generally, is a major cultural and political battlefield we can’t ignore.

  133. says

    “Blurred lines: Trump’s UN choice and her coal magnate spouse”:

    The email went out from senior Environmental Protection Agency officials to Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, responding to questions she had about a funding matter.

    But the acknowledgment email the EPA got back a few hours later wasn’t from the ambassador. It was from her husband, coal magnate Joseph Craft, a wealthy GOP donor who had been taking part in a months-long press by the coal industry for access and regulatory relief from the EPA and the Trump administration in general.

    The blurring of roles — and email accounts — by the Crafts this time and others since she began representing the U.S. is raising questions as senators consider her nomination by President Donald Trump to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. That post would give her a prime seat at international talks to fight climate change, in part by encouraging limits on the burning of coal, with its heat-trapping emissions.

    “Thanks!!” the coal baron replied to the December 2017 email from EPA officials, which had been addressed to “Ambassador Craft.” The agency was following up on a briefing she had gotten from then-EPA head Scott Pruitt on federal funding for cleaning up the Great Lakes, an issue of great interest to Canada.

    Joseph Craft sent the acknowledgment on his work email for his Tulsa, Oklahoma-based coal company, Alliance Resource Partners LP.

    His response ended with the breezy auto-tag from his cellphone: “Sent from my iPhone powered by coal!”

    The Sierra Club’s climate policy director, Liz Perera, said in a statement: “It is deeply concerning that a coal executive is receiving and responding to correspondence intended for U.S. diplomats. With Trump, it is impossible to see where the coal industry ends and where the administration starts.”

    Kelly Craft’s Twitter account for her post as ambassador to Canada also shows Joseph Craft joining her in meetings with leaders of Canada’s parliament; Kelly Craft meeting at least twice with officials of Canadian utilities and energy companies; and Kelly Craft socializing at a University of Kentucky basketball game with Pruitt. Her husband at the time was contacting Pruitt and the EPA repeatedly as the U.S. coal industry pressed a successful campaign for regulatory rollbacks from the Trump administration.

    Two months after the exchange over the Great Lakes, Joseph Craft wrote Pruitt’s aides from his same email account to ask Pruitt to come speak to his company’s board and to a coal investment forum.

    The Crafts donated more than $2 million to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign….

  134. says

    When Felix Sater didn’t show up for his scheduled hearing with the House Intelligence Committee on Friday, they issued a subpoena. Nowhere can I find a specific date on which he’s scheduled to appear. They also subpoenaed Rick Gates and Michael Flynn recently, and I can’t find scheduled dates for their appearances, either. The committee’s schedule for July on its site is completely blank. Adam Schiff needs to a) get together with Nancy Pelosi and push for impeachment and b) get on TV and explain to the public what’s happening and planned in the committee. This situation is unacceptable.

  135. says

    “Austrian Supreme Court Upholds U.S. Extradition Request For Ukrainian Tycoon Firtash”:

    Austria’s Supreme Court has upheld a decision allowing a request by the United States to extradite Ukrainian tycoon Dmytro Firtash, the latest twist in the case for the oligarch who has been fighting against extradition since his 2014 arrest in Vienna.

    Following the court ruling on June 25, a final decision will be made by the country’s justice minister on whether to follow through with the request.

    Firtash’s Austrian lawyer and spokesman declined immediate comment after the ruling.

    U.S. authorities have been investigating Firtash, 54, since 2006 on suspicion of bribery and forming an organized crime group.

    On June 21, a federal court in Chicago refused to throw out his foreign bribery and racketeering case.

    A former business partner of U.S. President Donald Trump’s ex-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and one of Ukraine’s wealthiest men, Firtash has been charged in a U.S. federal court in Chicago, as part of an alleged bribery scheme involving titanium supplies for aircraft giant Boeing.

    His case has seen several twists, including being rearrested in Vienna on a Spanish warrant in February 2017, just minutes after an Austrian court cleared the way for his U.S. extradition.

    Shortly after his March 2014 arrest in Vienna, Firtash posted a record bail bond of 125 million euros ($172 million) that was paid for by Russian billionaire Vasily Anisimov, a business partner of Arkady Rotenburg.

    However, Firtash was barred from leaving Austria as the extradition cases moved through the courts….

  136. says

    CNN – “White House says Kellyanne Conway won’t show up to Hatch Act hearing”:

    White House lawyers told the House Oversight Committee on Monday that senior counselor Kellyanne Conway will not appear at a hearing on Wednesday after a federal agency said earlier this month that she was a repeat offender of the Hatch Act and she should be fired.

    Chairman Elijah Cummings, Democrat of Maryland, told CNN that he planned to subpoena Conway on Wednesday. Cummings warned that his panel would vote to hold Conway in contempt if she ignores the subpoena….

  137. says

    “Commerce Dept. ordered ex-official not to answer House panel questions”:

    A former senior Commerce Department official refused to answer more than 100 questions during an interview with the House Oversight and Reform Committee that centered on the Trump administration’s controversial decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, according to a transcript released Tuesday.

    Commerce Department lawyers instructed James Uthmeier, who served as senior adviser and counsel to Secretary Wilbur Ross, not to answer the committee’s questions about his contacts with the White House and his conversations with Ross.

    Uthmeier was also directed not to discuss the contents of a memo he wrote to a senior Justice Department official, John Gore, that purportedly outlines legal arguments surrounding the addition of a citizenship question to the census. On several occasions, Uthmeier was also blocked from disclosing details about his own conversations with Gore.

    The Trump administration has sought to block several witnesses from cooperating with House Democrats’ investigations, including the Oversight Committee’s investigation of the census and the Judiciary Committee’s investigation into whether President Donald Trump obstructed justice. In both cases, the Trump administration has asserted that current and former officials are immune from testifying about their conversations with the president and their tenure in the administration.

    Earlier this month, the Oversight Committee voted to hold Ross and Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over subpoenaed documents about the citizenship question and the Justice and Commerce departments’ coordination in creating it. The vote came after Trump asserted executive privilege over all of the documents.

    Late Monday night, the committee officially filed its contempt report.

    Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman of the committee, said in a statement: “Official after official appearing before the committee have refused to answer questions about the real reasons behind their effort, but the mounting evidence points to a partisan and discriminatory effort to harm the interests of Democrats and non-whites. The census is the foundation of our democracy, and our committee will continue doing everything in its power to ensure that it counts every single person in the United States.”

    The committee has made the census probe — and the reasons a citizenship question was added — a central focus in its various investigations, which are also targeting Trump’s personal finances and the White House security clearance process….

  138. says

    Miami Herald – “Jeffrey Epstein plea deal must stand, prosecutors tell sex abuse victims”:

    Suspected sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was handed another break by the Department of Justice on Monday when federal prosecutors rejected his victims’ efforts to throw out his plea deal and prosecute him for abusing dozens of underage girls.

    In the 35-page motion, filed in federal court in the Northern District of Georgia, federal prosecutors said that there is no legal basis to invalidate Epstein’s non-prosecution agreement — and they warned the federal judge in the case against doing the same.

    U.S. Attorney Byung “B.J.” Pak said that because Congress did not outline specific penalties in the Crime Victims’ Rights Act when it was created by Congress, Epstein’s victims have no right to demand anything from the government — not even an apology. A judge ruled earlier this year that the plea deal violated that legislation.

    In the filing, federal prosecutors did concede that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Florida failed to treat Epstein’s victims — most of whom where 13 to 16 years old when they were victimized — fairly, but they said that the law gives prosecutors discretion in deciding how to dispose of a case. Victims have a right to confer with prosecutors, but no rights beyond that, Pak said.

    Epstein, a politically connected financier, escaped federal sex-trafficking charges after his high-powered lawyers, led by Kenneth Starr and Alan Dershowitz, pressured prosecutors in Miami to work out a secret plea deal in 2007.

    The controversial agreement, signed off on by then-Miami U.S. Attorney [and current Secretary of Labor – SC] Alexander Acosta, allowed Epstein to plead guilty to lesser charges in state court, amounting to 13 months on a single prostitution charge involving a girl who was 17. At the time, investigators had identified nearly three dozen victims.

    The women, now in their late 20s and early 30s, were underprivileged middle and high school girls recruited in and around Palm Beach County from about 1998 to 2006.

    Pak, who was appointed by Trump, went so far as to warn the judge in the case that the court had no authority to overrule the original decision by Acosta to not to prosecute Epstein.

    “Courts are not to interfere with the free exercise if the discretionary powers of the [United States attorneys] in their control over criminal prosecutions,’’ said Pak, citing case law. “The decision whether to prosecute Epstein lies solely within the executive branch, and any order today, by this court, as to what the government must do in the future would be wholly inappropriate.”

    Scarola, a former prosecutor, conceded that prosecutors do have discretion to handle a case as they see fit, but that discretion is not unlimited; victims have the right to appeal to the judge at sentencing, something Epstein’s victims were denied.

    “Courts reject plea deals when they find them to be unjustifiable and unreasonable — especially if they are not told the full scope of the agreement,’’ Scarola said.

    Pak took over the case in March after members the prosecutors in South Florida (where the case originated) recused themselves. Joining him in signing the brief were U.S. attorneys Jill E. Steinberg and Nathan P. Kitchens….

    Much more at the link.

  139. says

    The House will be in session part of July and then on recess for the entire month of August. But they continue to act like time isn’t of the essence, the public doesn’t need to know what’s happening or what the plan is, and people can follow these disparate investigations despite the constant stonewalling and lack of progress.

  140. tomh says

    Depressing story of the day, from WaPo:

    One-third of Americans would support a preemptive nuclear strike on North Korea, researchers say

    More than a third of Americans would support a preemptive nuclear strike on North Korea if that country tested a long-range missile capable of reaching the United States, new research has found, even if that preemptive strike killed a million civilians.

    The survey of 3,000 Americans was conducted by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and British research firm YouGov, and asked people to consider a scenario in which North Korea had tested a long-range missile and the U.S. government was considering how to respond.

    Most did not want their government to launch a preemptive strike, but a large minority supported such a strike, whether by conventional or nuclear weapons.

    “For many of these hawks, support for an attack, even in a preventive war, does not significantly decrease when the story says that the United States would use nuclear weapons that are expected to kill 1 million North Korean civilians,” the report found.

    “As we have previously found, the U.S. public exhibits only limited aversion to nuclear weapons use and a shocking willingness to support the killing of enemy civilians.”

    Republicans expressed greater support for military strikes than Democrats, and Trump supporters voiced even stronger approval: a majority of them preferred a military strike in five of the six scenarios described in the survey.

    More details at the link.

  141. Pierce R. Butler says

    SC… @ # 205: Adam Schiff needs to a) get together with Nancy Pelosi and push for impeachment …

    That’s an oxymoron: “togetherness” with Pelosi means pushing against impeachment.

    Which brings me to a question, as you scour news reports more than I do (a mere 3-4 hrs/day). Why do you think stories on the politics of (prospective) impeachment never (sfaict) bring up the context that Pelosi refused her clear Constitutional duty and successfully protected one blatantly guilty Republican president from impeachment in ’07, and seems hellbent on establishing a historical record by doing the same again now?

  142. says

    Pierce:

    That’s an oxymoron: “togetherness” with Pelosi means pushing against impeachment.

    By “get together with” I meant “meet with” – meet with her and try to push her in that direction.

    Why do you think stories on the politics of (prospective) impeachment never (sfaict) bring up the context that Pelosi refused her clear Constitutional duty and successfully protected one blatantly guilty Republican president from impeachment in ’07, and seems hellbent on establishing a historical record by doing the same again now?

    I honestly don’t know. The history of the Bush administration’s corruption, war crimes, public lies, creation of the global financial crisis, fundamentalist agenda, etc., has been ignored and whitewashed to such an extent that the Democrats’ failures to respond have been made to appear appropriate. But that timidity, naïveté, complicity, expediency, or whatever it was in any individual case played a role in creating the current disaster and needs to be addressed. A system in which Republicans in power can commit crimes and destroy institutions with almost total impunity is immoral and unsustainable.

  143. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 215.

    Here are few excerpts from that article:

    […] This process of normalization, when a bad camp becomes much more dangerous, is not unusual. Today’s border camps are a crueler reflection of long-term policies—some challenged in court—that earlier presidents had enacted. Prior administrations own a share of the responsibility for today’s harsh practices, but the policies in place today are also accompanied by a shameless willingness to publicly target a vulnerable population in increasingly dangerous ways. […]

    Without a significant government effort to reverse direction, conditions in every camp system tend to deteriorate over time. Governments rarely make that kind of effort on behalf of people they are willing to lock up without trial in the first place. And history shows that legislatures do not close camps against the will of an executive. […]

    What kind of conditions can we expect to develop in these border camps? The longer a camp system stays open, the more likely it is that vital things will go wrong: detainees will contract contagious diseases and suffer from malnutrition and mental illness. We have already seen that current detention practices have resulted in children and adults succumbing to influenza, staph infections, and sepsis. The US is now poised to inflict harm on tens of thousands more, perhaps hundreds of thousands more.

    Along with such inevitable consequences, every significant camp system has introduced new horrors of its own, crises that were unforeseen when that system was opened. We have yet to discover what those will be for these American border camps. But they will happen. Every country thinks it can do detention better when it starts these projects. But no good way to conduct mass indefinite detention has yet been devised; the system always degrades.  […]

    The United States now has a vast and growing camp system. It is starting out with gruesome overcrowding and inadequate healthcare, and because of budget restrictions, has already taken steps to cut services to juvenile detainees.

    I question that “budget restrictions” are the problem. Congress allotted money for humanitarian care, but I think team Trump mismanaged that money, and/or team Trump spent that money on things other than humanitarian care (things like additional enforcement, troops on the border, concertina wire, etc.) I don’t see evidence that team Trump spent adequate money to pay for more asylum judges, to pay for additional immigration lawyers, to set up processing-people systems, to maintain proper databases, and certainly not for humanitarian care).

    The US Office of Refugee Resettlement says that the mounting number of children arriving unaccompanied is forcing it to use military bases and other sites that it prefers to avoid, and that establishing these camps is a temporary measure. But without oversight from state child welfare inspectors, the possibilities for neglect and abuse are alarming. And without any knowledge of how many asylum-seekers are coming in the future, federal administrators are likely to find themselves boxed in to managing detention on military sites permanently.

    President Trump and senior White House adviser Stephen Miller appear to have purged the Department of Homeland Security of most internal opposition to their anti-immigrant policies. In doing so, that have removed even those sympathetic to the general approach taken by the White House, such as former Chief of Staff John Kelly and former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, in order to escalate the militarization of the border and expand irregular detention in more systematic and punitive ways. This kind of power struggle or purge in the early years of a camp system is typical.  […]

    I question that John Kelly had any ethical core. He is the guy who joined the board of one of the private companies running migrant detention centers which are now charging the U.S. taxpayer more than $700 per day to keep migrant toddlers in cages. Maybe Kelly wasn’t as bad as Stephen Miller, but that’s not saying much.

    Bottom line: conditions in the camps are worsening over time. And that is to be expected in internment/concentration/detention camps.

  144. says

    “Ukraine walks out of Europe human rights body as Russia returns”:

    The Ukrainian delegation at the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe has walked out in protest after Russian MPs were allowed to return to the human rights body five years after the annexation of Crimea.

    The assembly backed Russia’s return by 118 votes to 62, in one of the first reversals of the penalties imposed on Moscow after its military entered Ukraine in 2014.

    Russia had threatened to leave the Council of Europe, which oversees the Strasbourg-based European court of human rights (ECHR), unless its voting rights to the body were restored.

    Human rights advocates were concerned that ordinary Russians could lose the right to appeal to the ECHR for protection from abuses in Russia’s police and legal system. The court orders Russia to pay millions of euros in compensation each year.

    But delegates from Ukraine said allowing Russia to return to the body would be seen as a concession and show weakness in Europe’s resolve to contain Russia.

    Russia’s establishment took a victory lap after the decision on Tuesday. “This is not a diplomatic victory of Moscow. This is a victory of common sense,” said Dmitry Peskov, the press secretary to Vladimir Putin.

    The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said he was disappointed by the decision and Ukraine later announced it would recall its ambassador to the Council of Europe for an unspecified period of time in protest.

    “The Council of Europe has lost our trust, and it will be extremely difficult to restore it,” said Pavlo Klimkin, Ukraine’s foreign minister. “From the leader of the effort to protect human rights, the organisation has turned into just a middle manager.”

    The council, one of Europe’s oldest human rights organisations, was created in 1949 to safeguard democracy and the rule of law. It long predates the European Union and has 47 member states. Its parliamentary assembly comprises politicians from member countries’ national parliaments.

    Russia’s delegation, including four members who remained sanctioned by the EU, presented its credentials on Tuesday morning. An opposition led by Ukraine have challenged those credentials on “substantial and procedural grounds”, meaning a final decision on Russia’s return will probably be made on Wednesday afternoon.

    The Russian delegation’s voting rights were suspended in 2014 after the assembly adopted a resolution that called Russia’s annexation of Crimea a “grave violation of international law”.

    Russia responded by boycotting the assembly, and since 2017 it has suspended its annual £28m payments to the council. Russia could have faced suspension at the beginning of this session and had threatened to exit the council if it could not participate in the elections for the body’s next secretary general….

    I’m with the Ukrainians on this one.

  145. says

    This is truly weird. Boris Johnson, likely the next Prime Minister of the UK, gets asked what he likes to do in his free time, to relax. Watch what he says…it’s so bizarre that it’s mesmerizing.”

    What the everloving fuck. Also, his slouching is disrespectful.

  146. says

    Some Wayfair workers are organizing a walkout tomorrow:

    In response to a recent letter signed by 547 employees, our CEO said that the company would not cease doing business with contractors furnishing border camps. We ask that the company donate the $86,000 in profit they made from this sale to RAICES.
    #wayfairwalkout

    At 1:30 p.m., tomorrow, we’re asking employees to leave their desks and walk to Copley Square to show our numbers and make this demand.

  147. says

    NEW: Judge rejects President Trump’s request for immediate appeal, allows Democrats’ emoluments lawsuit to proceed & positions lawmakers to gather Trump’s business records.

    Judge Sullivan sets schedule for discovery to begin this week — June 28 through Sept. 27.”

  148. says

    SC @207, oh, FFS! Another love fest between Trump and Putin.

    I do understand that Putin needs to meet with his stooge, and needs to keep him in line with Russia’s goals.

  149. says

    Josh Marshall – “Livin’ Large: The Duncan Hunter Story”:

    I’ve read through the new Duncan Hunter court filing. And it’s rather remarkable. Prosecutors list five extra-marital affairs Hunter carried on with various GOP lobbyists, operatives and congressional staffers (one of whom worked in his own office) and funded out of his campaign funds.

    The funding included everything from paying for weekend getaways, to ubering back and forth to different girlfriends’ homes for overnight and basically all the miscellaneous stuff one might do while carrying on an affair. Highlights include double dates with another member of Congress, the time Hunter kept an extra night of his wife’s hotel reservation in DC and used it to spend the night with his girlfriend.

    Prosecutors argue persuasively if rather archly that they must introduce evidence of Hunter’s affairs because otherwise Hunter might argue that the expenses were tied to his work in Congress. As they note, each girlfriend was tied either to Congress or political work in general. So tying the meetings to his campaign is not inherently implausible unless you know they were having sex.

    The oddest part of the filing comes at the end when prosecutors note another instance of “sensitive conduct” apparently so sensitive they didn’t include it in the filing. It apparently deals with a group of DC pals (seemingly men?) and seems separately from assignations with individual women.

    Your guess is as good as mine on this one. But the reference to “improperly tainting the jury” seems to suggest that this is more than simply personally embarrassing information like the affairs thee filling mentions.

    What could it be?

  150. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 228.

    This is from Steve Benen:

    […] In case anyone needs a refresher, the GOP congressman and his wife were charged last summer, and the criminal indictment was quite brutal: federal prosecutors alleged that the Hunters stole more than $250,000 in campaign funds and used the money to pay for personal purchases, ranging from trips to school tuition to dental work to veterinary care.

    As if that weren’t enough, the Hunters allegedly went to great lengths to cover up the scheme: according to prosecutors, they made fraudulent claims that their purchases were for charities, including veterans’ charities. A Washington Post report added that the prosecutors’ allegations “read like a caricature of a corrupt, greedy politician.”

    The California Republican’s defense has evolved a bit over time.

    Hunter initially suggested the charges were a partisan scheme concocted by Democrats. This was literally unbelievable: the charges were brought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego, which is led by a Trump appointee, who was chosen for the post by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

    Soon after, the congressman seemed to blame his wife, telling Fox News, “She was also the campaign manager, so whatever she did that’ll be looked at too, I’m sure. But I didn’t do it.”

    Though both of them initially pleaded not guilty, that changed two weeks ago, when Margaret Hunter changed her plea, admitted that the allegations raised by prosecutors are true, and gave every indication that she’s now cooperating with the prosecution.

    It stands to reason her husband’s alleged “series of intimate relationships” had something to do with her decision.

    Postscript: The last time I wrote about this a reader emailed to ask about the worst-case scenario for the congressman. Every case has its own relevant details, but it’s worth noting for context the last time a federal lawmaker was accused of widespread misuse of campaign funds – then-Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) in 2013 – he went to prison for more than a year.

    Jackson, however, likely received a relatively light sentence because he pleaded guilty. Hunter, at least for now, has insisted he’s done nothing wrong.

    All the best people.

    Of course Duncan Hunter tried to blame the Democrats. Sheesh.

  151. says

    Campaign and polling news:

    A MoveOn.org straw poll found 38% of the group’s progressive members listed Elizabeth Warren as their first choice. Bernie Sanders, who received MoveOn.org’s endorsement in 2016, was second in the straw poll with 17% support. I don’t how they decided who among their members is “progressive,” or if this was just awkwardly written, since most MoveOn members are progressives.

    An Emerson poll says Joe Biden is leading the Democrats’ 2020 field with 34% support, followed by Sanders with 27%. Warren was third with 14%, and Kamala Harris and Mayor Pete Buttigieg rounded out the top five. The same poll found each of the top Democratic contenders leading Donald Trump in hypothetical general-election match-ups.

    From Nate Silver: “A gradual shift in support among black leaders from Biden/undecided to Harris would be one of the most significant events of the primary.”

    From the Washington Post comes this awkward news:

    Vice President Pence is traveling to Florida on Tuesday to launch a national “Latinos for Trump” initiative in a bid to bolster support for the Republican ticket at time when new polling shows large majorities of Hispanics favoring the election of a Democrat next year.

    Pence is scheduled to appear later Tuesday morning in Miami, the city that is hosting the first of the Democratic presidential debates this week. Florida, home to more than 2 million Hispanic registered voters, is a key state for Trump’s reelection fortunes next year. […]

  152. says

    From Jonathan Blitzer, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] On Sunday, I spoke to an ICE officer about the week’s events. “Almost nobody was looking forward to this operation,” the officer said. “It was a boondoggle, a nightmare.” Even on the eve of the operation, many of the most important details remained unresolved.

    “This was a family op. So where are we going to put the families? There’s no room to detain them, so are we going to put them in hotels?” the officer said. On Friday, an answer came down from ice leadership: the families would be placed in hotels while ice figured out what to do with them. That, in turn, raised other questions. “So the families are in hotels, but who’s going to watch them?” the officer continued. “What happens if the person we arrest has a U.S.-citizen child? What do we do with the children? Do we need to get booster seats for the vans? Should we get the kids toys to play with?”

    Trump’s tweet broadcasting the operation had also created a safety issue for the officers involved. “No police agency goes out and says, ‘Tomorrow, between four and eight, we’re going to be in these neighborhoods,’ ” the officer said. […]

    Link

  153. says

    Oh, FFS.

    This is from Trump’s interview with Chuck Todd:

    The reason Obamacare continues is my decision…. I could have managed Obamacare so it would have failed or I could have managed it the way we did so it’s as good as it can be. […]

    I had a decision to make. I could have politically killed Obamacare. I decided not to do it.

    What the ever-loving fuck?

    From Steve Benen’s analysis:

    As president, Trump first declared the death of the Affordable Care Act on March 17, 2017. “I also want people to know that Obamacare is dead,” he said. “It’s a dead health care plan. It’s not even a health care plan…. Obamacare is not an alternative. It’s not there. It’s dead. It’s dead. ” He hadn’t quite been in office for two months.

    [Trump repeated] the claim obsessively for months, telling anyone who’d listen that the health care reform law is “dead.” “Gone.” “Absolutely dead.” “Finished.” A “dead carcass.”

    […] on “Meet the Press,” he suggested he deserves some kind of credit for “deciding” not to kill the health care law.

    Part of the problem with the boast is the obvious contradiction: when a president spends two years telling the world that his country’s reform law is dead, it’s a bit jarring when that same president quietly flips his talking points, expecting everyone to just play along.

    The other area of concern, though, is the brazen lying. To hear Trump tell it, he “could have” tried to kill the ACA, but he chose a more responsible course. That’s a tough sell for those of us who know that this White House has gone to extraordinary lengths to sabotage the health care system, only to fail to kill its target.

    I’ve heard jokes for years that Trump would eventually present himself as the savior of Obamacare, but I never really believed them. I stand corrected.

  154. says

    John Bresnahan pointed to his 2018 Politico article with Rachael M. Bade about Hunter, which contains:

    In interviews with lawmakers and congressional aides who have closely associated with Hunter, a picture emerges of a promising young lawmaker who appears to have lost his way. Hunter has developed a reputation on Capitol Hill for drinking heavily and carousing, according to multiple lawmakers and staffers who have witnessed his behavior over the past several years.

    Former staffers to Hunter said he and his lawmaker friends — dubbed the “bros caucus” by his aides — would regularly go to the Capitol Hill Club, a Republican hangout, to drink beer, sometimes during the day. Congressional aides have recounted to POLITICO at least two stories of recent official meetings where lawmakers questioned whether Hunter was intoxicated.

    In one December huddle between Republicans on the Armed Services Committee and GOP leaders, Hunter raised his voice at Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), accusing the Republican leader of undercutting the military with an irresponsible funding strategy. According to people who were present or heard about it afterward, members noticed his bloodshot eyes and speech and questioned whether Hunter was under the influence.

    One Republican lawmaker said in an interview that he spoke to Hunter about his drinking habits and urged him to get evaluated for post-traumatic stress disorder. Former aides to Hunter said other lawmakers approached Hunter on the same grounds.

  155. says

    NOW: US appeals court will let census challengers in Maryland present new equal-protection claims in trial court. Order just issued:…

    Judge James Wynn: ‘A preliminary injunction may be necessary to prevent the printing of the census questionnaire from, at least from the government’s perspective, rendering the case moot.'”

    Order at the link.

  156. says

    Here’s the segment from the order:

    It may be prudent upon remand, for the district court to consider whether it is appropriate for the district court to preliminarily enjoin the Government from placing the citizenship question on the 2020 Census questionnaire pending the district court’s and this Court’s final review of Plaintiffs’ equal protection and Section 1985 claims. Although U.S. Census Bureau Chief Scientist Dr. John Abowd testified that “the final date for locking down the content of the census questionnaire is October 31, 2019,”… the Government’s briefing has repeatedly represented to this Court and the Supreme Court that the 2020 Census questionnaire must be finalized by this Sunday, June 30, 2019. Thus, if the district court does not anticipate deciding this case until after June 30, 2019 (which appears highly likely, given that the district court has indicated it plans to reopen discovery and order an evidentiary hearing), a preliminary injunction may be necessary to prevent the printing of the Census questionnaire from, at least from the Government’s perspective, rendering the case moot. In any event, I believe that the district court should expeditiously address Plaintiffs’ equal protection and Section 1985 claims to prevent unduly interfering with the preparation of the Census questionnaire and interfering with appellate review of its ultimate determination as to those claims.

    Oh, he absolutely needs to preliminarily enjoin them from going ahead with printing the forms. From 2017:

    President Trump reportedly encouraged Native American leaders to “just do it” and extract resources from their own land, despite federal regulations blocking them from doing so, Axios reported on Sunday.

    After the leaders told Trump they couldn’t drill for the resources because of regulations, Trump reportedly said: ”But now it’s me. The government’s different now. Obama’s gone; and we’re doing things differently here.”

    “Chief, chief, what are they going to do? Once you get it out of the ground are they going to make you put it back in there?” Trump said, according to Axios.

    “I mean, once it’s out of the ground it can’t go back in there. You’ve just got to do it. I’m telling you, chief, you’ve just got to do it.”

    Axios reported that when a Trump official in the room told the leaders that the administration was working on rolling back the regulations blocking them from extracting the resources, the president said: “Guys, I feel like you’re not hearing me right now. We’ve just got to do it.”

    “I feel like we’ve got no choice; other countries are just doing it. China is not asking questions about all of this stuff. They’re just doing it. And guys, we’ve just got to do it.”…

  157. says

    Mark Morgan, a man who claimed on Fox News to be able to identify ‘soon-to-be MS-13’ gang members by looking child migrants in the eye, will now head an agency that has thousands of child migrants in its care.”

  158. says

    “Elizabeth Warren: Repeal The Law That Criminalizes Migrants”:

    Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren called Tuesday for repealing the decades-old law criminalizing unauthorized border crossing ― the same law the Trump administration used to systematically split up families at the border last year.

    Warren joins fellow 2020 contender Julián Castro and several other prominent Democrats in backing a reform that, if enacted, would give civil immigration courts exclusive legal control over immigration enforcement at the border. Under the current system, tens of thousands of migrants who cross without authorization, including some asylum-seekers, face federal prosecution in criminal courts and jail time before they get in front of an administrative judge, who decides their immigration cases.

    While the laws criminalizing unauthorized immigration have been on the books since 1929, they rarely faced much scrutiny from the public until the Trump administration, in a widely reviled seven-week experiment last year, used them to split up families at the border as a matter of public policy.

    Prosecuting immigrant parents for the crime of illegal entry pushed them into criminal custody with the U.S. Marshals Service, leaving their now-unaccompanied children in the care of immigration authorities.

    Several other prominent politicians ― Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz), Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) ― have also backed repealing the law criminalizing illegal entry. Immigration enforcement should belong exclusively to the civil system, they say.

    Reformers increasingly support that view. A group of nearly 250 civil rights organizations signed on to a letter last week demanding the decriminalization of migration….

    More at the link.

  159. says

    David Roberts:

    I’m gonna write a proper piece about this soon, but for now a quick thread on the direction of US conservative climate policy. I think over the next 10 years — & probably much sooner — we’ll see two distinct trends.

    First, the US right will transition seamlessly from climate denialism to climate nationalism/fascism. They will acknowledge the threat & use it to justify exploiting US fossil fuel reserves, building walls, shutting down immigration, & passing punitive trade policies.

    Collective action problems just don’t sit well in the reactionary mind — and non-zero-sum collective solutions are incomprehensible to it. However, a mad scramble of all-against-all, in which the powerful US can hoard & intimidate & come out ahead? That, reactionaries get.

    Second, US conservatives will ramp up their demagoguery around “eco-terrorism.” As it becomes clear that the GOP simply won’t allow a small-d democratic solution, desperate young people are going to turn to direct action. The GOP will use that to justify repression.

    And be clear: as climate gets more & more chaotic, and the ambient sense of threat & uncertainty rises around the world, these kinds of reactionary responses will gain *more* public appeal, not less. Threat & uncertainty make everyone more conservative.

    So the US is at a crucial juncture, one that reflects a larger global dynamic: the space for addressing climate change in a cooperative, mutually beneficial way is rapidly shrinking. From here on out, circumstances will bolster the forces of reaction.

    That’s why the situation in Oregon is freaking me out. I thought we had at least a little time left in which the mechanisms of democracy could still work. But the fossil-funded white minority is openly, nakedly rejecting democracy & it looks like they’ll get away with it.

    The right will see that it worked & it will rapidly become standard practice, across states, maybe federally. (If you think the rules are different in different states, so it wouldn’t work, you are still hung up on thinking rules matter.)

    That would mean the end of any chance of the US addressing climate change through peaceful, mutually beneficial, democratic means. Oregon Ds elected majorities, then super-majorities … now they’re supposed to accept that success is only possible if they vote EVERY R out?

    If democratic means become impossible, what’s left is violence. There may be some radical climate activists who think they’re ready for that, but guess what? The reactionaries will always have more guns & fewer scruples. The forces of decency will never win that fight.

    Basically, this is future-of-the-species stuff, getting decided through a spectacle that’s barely even able to break into the daily news cycle. And the next time around, there may not even be the pretense of democracy. We are truly headed into the shit.

  160. says

    AP – “Father-daughter border drowning highlights migrants’ perils”:

    The man and his 23-month-old daughter lay face down in shallow water along the bank of the Rio Grande, his black shirt hiked up to his chest with the girl’s head tucked inside. Her arm was draped around his neck suggesting she clung to him in her final moments.

    The searing photograph of the sad discovery on Monday, captured by journalist Julia Le Duc and published by Mexican newspaper La Jornada, highlights the perils of the latest migration crisis involving mostly Central Americans fleeing violence and poverty and hoping for asylum in the United States.

    According to Le Duc’s reporting for La Jornada, Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, frustrated because the family from El Salvador were unable to present themselves to U.S. authorities and request asylum, swam across the river with his daughter, Valeria.

    He set her on the U.S. bank of the river and started back for his wife, Tania Vanessa Ávalos, but seeing him move away the girl threw herself into the waters. Martínez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away. The account was based on remarks by Ávalos to police at the scene.

    Their bodies were discovered Monday morning on the bank of the river near Matamoros, Mexico, across from Brownsville, Texas, and several hundred yards (meters) from where they had tried to cross, just a half-mile (1 kilometer) from an international bridge.

    The photo recalls the 2015 image of a 3-year-old Syrian boy who drowned in the Mediterranean near Turkey, though it remains to be seen whether it may have the same impact in focusing international attention on migration to the U.S.

    U.S. policy has drastically reduced the number of migrants who are allowed to request asylum, down from dozens per day previously to sometimes just a handful at some ports of entry.

    The United States has also been expanding its program under which asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their claims are processed in U.S. courts, a wait that could last many months or even years.

    This week the city of Nuevo Laredo in Tamaulipas, the same state where Matamoros is located, said it will become the latest city to receive returnees as soon as Friday.

    Many migrant shelters are overflowing on the Mexican side, and cartels hold sway over much of Tamaulipas and have been known to kidnap and kill migrants.

    Meanwhile, Mexico is stepping up its own crackdown on immigration, with much of the focus on slowing the flow in the country’s south.

    “With greater crackdowns and restrictions,” said Cris Ramón, senior immigration policy analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank in Washington, “we could see more desperate measures by people trying to enter Mexico or the U.S.”

  161. says

    Jerry Nadler: “I am pleased to announce that @HouseJudiciary and House Intel will have Special Counsel Robert Mueller testify in open session on July 17, pursuant to a subpoena issued this evening.

    We look forward to having Mr. Mueller testify, as do all Americans.”

    He’s testifying before both committees in one session. 9 AM.

  162. says

    Schiff tells Maddow it’s not really a “friendly subpoena,” since neither Mueller nor his staff really want to testify. The two committee hearings won’t actually be combined but back to back, followed by a closed-session Intel hearing.

    I wish she had asked him about the other subpoenas.

  163. says

    Elizabeth Warren: “At tonight’s town hall in Miami, an audience member asked me to go to the Homestead detention center—where the Trump administration is holding immigrant children separated from their families—and shine a light on what’s happening. I’ll be there tomorrow—and I hope you’ll join me.”

  164. says

    So several weeks ago I read Comey’s A Higher Loyalty, and I have a brief rant:

    In one of the chapters on his formative years, Comey describes his encounter with the “Ramsey Rapist,” who had evidently targeted Comey’s sister. Fortunately, she wasn’t home when the rapist broke in, and the guy proceeded to terrorize Comey and his brother. He concludes: “The police didn’t find the Ramsey Rapist that night. A suspect was arrested days later, but the case was never made and he was released. But that night the long string of Ramsey Rapist robberies and sexual assaults stopped” (12). He repeated this in a recent interview with Chuck Rosenberg.

    What the fuck? How does it not occur to Comey that the guy didn’t stop raping but just moved? How did Comey advance through all of these levels of law enforcement, becoming the head of the FBI, and not try to solve this case? What about the victims? Did he speak to them? How was this life-changing case just…left? Who was the Ramsey Rapist?

    Later, Comey describes the heartbreaking death of their son, Collin, shortly after he was born. At the time Collin was born, the tests for Group B streptococcus, which would have saved his life, weren’t required. Comey’s wife Patrice – the hero of the book – became an activist and worked with others to make the test part of the standard of care. Comey concludes: “All mothers are tested now, and their babies live…. Other mothers will never know what might have been, which is as it should be” (46).

    NO. From Comey’s description: “…as that day wore on, Patrice sensed a change in him. He became strikingly irritable, so she kept asking the hospital staff if something was wrong. One nurse patronized this mother of four, telling her, ‘You’ve just never had a colicky baby’.”

    It isn’t “as it should be” that women don’t know that basic tests are the result of activism resulting not just from tragedy but from condescension and sexism. Hospitals should have explicit policies requiring that the concerns of new mothers be documented and taken seriously, and these policies are communicated to new mothers.

    More to come.

  165. says

    Comey describes his Whitewater work: “One of the questions the committee had was whether First Lady Hillary Clinton or anyone acting on her behalf went to Foster’s office after his death and removed documents. I left the investigation long before any conclusions were reached, but I can recall pacing off the distance between Hillary Clinton’s office on the second floor and the White House counsel’s suite” (64).

    Nothing about Foster or his family. And this is Comey’s pattern throughout the book: Democrats get no benefit of the doubt, insinuation is the rule. their statements will be ignored.

  166. says

    I’ll conclude with this, which Comey and his editors selected for inclusion:

    Down there, where I would spend so much of my later career in national security meetings, the doorframes were about six feet, seven inches high. To navigate, I would discreetly bob my head… I had no idea how finely calibrated my ducking was until I got new soles and heels on a pair of dress shoes during the George W. Bush administration. Apparently, this refurbished footwear made me about a half-inch taller than usual. Rushing so as not to be late to a Situation Room meeting with the president, I did the usual bob and smacked my head so hard that I rocked backward, stunned. A Secret Service agent asked me if I was okay. I said yes, and continued walking, stars in my eyes. As I sat at the table with the president and his national security team, I began to feel liquid on my scalp and realized I was bleeding. I kept tilting my head in different directions to keep the running blood inside my hairline. Heaven only knows what President Bush thought was wrong with me, but he never saw my blood” (65-6).

    This is nuts. From a wealth of anecdotes, Comey chose this. I’m sure medical staff are there to check for concussions and make sure wounds are cleaned and don’t get infected. I’m trying to imagine a Warren or Harris presidency in which this would be expected or necessary, and failing. Because it’s nuts.

  167. says

    Slate – “The Census Case Is Shaping Up to Be the Biggest Travesty Since Bush v. Gore:

    The government’s conduct in the pending Supreme Court case about adding a citizenship question to the census has gone from indefensible to outrageous. In the case, which is likely to be decided this week, Solicitor General Noel Francisco on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to become complicit in a cover up of discriminatory activity by doing something the court does not and cannot do: decide a legal issue that is not before it. If the court does so, any pretense of the legitimacy of the decision will be gone.

    …Just Tuesday, the Fourth Circuit agreed to send its own census case—which is not currently before the Supreme Court—back down to the trial court to consider whether the Hofeller evidence is good proof that the government included the census question for a racially discriminatory purpose in violation of the Constitution’s equal protection guarantee. If the government acted out of a racially discriminatory purpose then the citizenship question must be excluded from the census, even if the government could have included the question for facially legitimate reasons.

    To be absolutely clear, the Equal Protection claim is not currently before the Supreme Court in the case it is about to decide. Nonetheless, in two last minute filings with the Supreme Court, Francisco has asked the Court to decide the question. “The Fourth Circuit’s order underscores the need for this Court to address the equal-protection claim and the immateriality of the Hofeller files in its disposition of the above-captioned case so that the lawfulness of the Secretary’s decision can be fully and finally resolved.”

    This is outrageous. The issue has not been fully briefed. It was not the subject of oral argument. It involves evidence for which there has been no fact-finding. For the Supreme Court to decide the issue on this basis is the definition of lawlessness. It is not how the Supreme Court normally does business, and the solicitor general should know better. If the court starts doing this it becomes no more than a branch of the Trump administration.

    The government claims the printing deadline is imminent, but the Fourth Circuit found that the printing can actually wait until October. This issue deserves full and fair vetting. The Supreme Court can deal with any injunction from the district court or the Fourth Circuit in later filings after the trial court finds all the facts about possible discriminatory intent from the Hofeller evidence.

    Indeed, in another case of similar political import, a Supreme Court majority declared the following: “The press of time does not diminish the constitutional concern. A desire for speed is not a general excuse for ignoring equal protection guarantees.” That case was Bush v. Gore, the case ending the disputed 2000 presidential election and handing the election to Republican George W. Bush over Democrat Al Gore. There, the justices of the Supreme Court let politics get in the way of a fair decision. It looks like history may be about to repeat itself.

  168. says

    In his little grievance-fest this morning, Trump attacked/insulted/lied about: Japan (he’s on his way there), Vietnam, Angela Merkel, his appointed Fed chair Jerome Powell, Robert Mueller, Twitter, Google, the Obama administration,…

  169. says

    “Israel’s Netanyahu Weighs Move to Cancel September Elections”:

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will weigh a motion to cancel national elections in September, a gambit that would give him time to focus on his legal defense in several looming corruption cases.

    The speaker of Israel’s parliament is examining the legality of nixing the vote if Netanyahu can form a government with two-thirds of the country’s 120 elected parliamentarians, Jonathan Orich, a spokesman for Netanyahu’s Likud Party, said Tuesday night.

    “The speaker of the Knesset asked that we meet in coming days, and I’ll do that,” Netanyahu said in a statement Wednesday.

    The fact that 80 Knesset members would be needed for the move to advance suggests Netanyahu is negotiating a tie-up with the centrist Blue & White opposition bloc, which won 35 seats in April’s election, equal to Likud. In his statement Wednesday, Netanyahu denied reports that he had reached out to Blue & White or had proposed rotating the premiership with the bloc’s leader, Benny Gantz.

    A move to cancel elections would be unprecedented in Israel, and it’s not clear if it’s even legally possible. Even if the move fails, it could allow Netanyahu to portray himself as a responsible leader trying to save the country an expensive and unnecessary revote.

    Blue & White, led by three former military chiefs of staff and a former finance minister, says Netanyahu’s legal predicament disqualifies him from running the country, and has refused to join a government with Likud as long as Netanyahu leads the party.

    “Netanyahu is afraid of public justice, and he’s lying,” Gantz said. “There are no negotiations with Blue & White.”

  170. says

    Trump is yelling into the phone about how Mueller ‘terminated the emails … he terminated them. They’re gone. And that’s illegal. That’s a crime’.

    Bartiromo pretends to know what he’s talking about and tries to ask a question. Trump just keeps ranting over her.”

    Video at the link. It appears from the Manafort-Hannity texts (@ #92 above) that they do actually believe the ridiculous conspiracy theories they promote.

  171. says

    Reminder: The House Oversight Committee will vote today on whether to authorize a subpoena to Kellyanne Conway to compel her to testify over her failure to comply with the Hatch Act and ethics laws.”

  172. says

    Update to #260 – “House Committee Subpoenas Conway To Testify On Hatch Act Violations After No-Show”:

    The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday voted to subpoena White House counselor Kellyanne Conway after she didn’t appear to testify over accusations she violated the Hatch Act.

    “We have over two million federal employees who adhere to the Hatch Act every day. Nobody is above the law,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) said before the vote on Wednesday. “The committee sought her voluntary testimony today; we wanted to hear from her directly. She’s a public official who we pay, by the way, who has been accused of wrongdoing. And she refused to explain herself to the Office of the Special Counsel.”

    The vote to subpoena passed after Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) joined with all the Democrats on the committee to vote in favor of the resolution….

  173. says

    Likud MKs are some of the most embarrassing politicians walking this earth. A couple of weeks ago they were explaining why Israel must go to new elections (so that Netanyahu can try again to form a gov that’ll pass his Immunity Law). Now they insist new elections are unnecessary.

    Netanyahu is willing to blatantly violate and undermine Israeli laws concerning the dissolution of the Knesset & fundamental democratic procedures just because polls are unfavorable.

    In recent months, Israel’s steady march into the camp of illiberal democracies has become a sprint. First a law ending the separation of powers by decimating the judiciary (the Immunity Law), now the attempt to cancel the elections through imaginary legal loopholes.

    Likud members of Knesset, even moderate ones, follow Bibi’s orders & justify his changing positions. First by voting themselves out of a job (although some won’t get re-elected) to ensure Netanyahu & not another MK forms the gov, now supporting the attempt to cancel the elections

    Netanyahu has been incredibly effective in pushing out almost everyone with a spine out of the Likud party (Bogie, Feiglin) & taming others (Kahlon, Saar, Edelstein). He has full control over Likud MKs & Likud central committee, changing party rules & regulations at will.

    Bibi will likely be indicted in the coming months on corruption. The evidence is very strong. You’d think that Likud MKs will start smelling blood in the water & start to position themselves as Likud’s next leader. Instead, when Bibi tells them to jump, they ask how high.”

  174. says

    AP – “WADA has 100 ‘strong’ Russian doping cases in Moscow data”:

    More than 100 “strong cases” of suspected Russian doping are being prepared using data retrieved from the Moscow testing laboratory.

    World Anti-Doping Agency president Craig Reedie said Wednesday it is “packaging evidence” for sports governing bodies to prosecute the highest priority cases.

    Only data for “suspicious cases” is being provided, Reedie said, adding he expects more than 100 files in the “first wave of strong cases against those we suspect of cheating.”

    Data and samples were eventually retrieved this year from the Moscow lab covering drug testing up to 2015 — a period when Russian officials routinely covered up cases….

  175. says

    HuffPo – “EPA Air Chief Bill Wehrum Abruptly Departs Amid Ethics Probe”:

    Bill Wehrum, the Environmental Protection Agency’s air pollution chief who oversaw key rollbacks of Obama-era climate regulations, is stepping down amid an ethics probe into his ties to former industry clients.

    The EPA announced the departure of its powerful assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation in an abrupt press release on Wednesday, indicating that Wehrum had long planned to leave the agency.

    “While I have known of Bill’s desire to leave at the end of this month for quite sometime, the date has still come too soon,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement.

    But it comes two months after the House Committee on Energy & Commerce launched an investigation into allegations that Wehrum and a top deputy used their posts in the administration to help utilities they worked for at their former law firm, Hunton & Williams, now known as Hunton Andrews Kurth.

    While at EPA, Wehrum met with Utility Air Regulatory Group, his former client and an umbrella organization funded by several companies that opposed stricter limits on pollution from coal-fired plants. The front group disbanded in May, weeks after House investigators sent letters to eight separate utility companies and Hunton requesting information about their relationship to the organization.

    Wehrum also worked on an EPA directive that had direct legal implications for DTE Energy, a top utility his former firm represented in a case against the agency, according to The Washington Post.

    Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the committee’s chairman, called Wehrum’s departure “welcome news” and vowed to charge ahead with the investigation.

    That work now falls on Anne Idsal, the principal deputy assistant administrator for the air office, who the EPA said will take over for Wehrum in an acting role. Idsal, who took the job in late 2017, is a well-connected Republican operative from Texas who, like Wehrum, questions the basic realities of climate science.

    Wehrum’s exit comes a day after EPA announced a proposal to give political appointees more control over Freedom of Information Act requests, a rule change legal experts say would make it easier to withhold records.

    “Wehrum’s corruption may never have come to light with Wheeler’s new policy designed to end FOIA as we know it,” Sierra Club climate policy director John Coequyt said Wednesday. “Make no mistake — the Trump administration is weakening FOIA precisely because transparency laws have revealed numerous embarrassing and even career-ending scandals for Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke, Bill Wehrum and others. Rather than change their behavior, Wheeler and his political appointees would rather change the law. We will not let them.”

  176. says

    BREAKING: Paul Manafort is scheduled to be arraigned around 2:15 PM Thursday in NY County Supreme Court before Judge Maxwell Wiley, per Manhattan DA Cy Vance’s office. The former Trump campaign chair faces 16 counts, including mortgage fraud & falsifying business records.”

  177. says

    The first Democratic primary debate is tonight at 9 PM ET on MSNBC and Telemundo.

    The House Oversight hearing about the Hatch Act is going on right now – on C-SPAN3.

  178. says

    OMG. I can’t believe I’ve only just realised this..Lynton Crosby is a genius. And we have all been played like fucking fools.”

    On the other hand, more generally it’s probably renewed attention to the Brexit bus thing.

  179. says

    Update – Al Jazeera – “Brazil’s Supreme Court rejects request to free ex-president Lula”:

    Brazil’s Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by imprisoned former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who argued he should be freed because leaked private messages showed that the judge who convicted him was not impartial.

    The court voted 3-2 to postpone debate on whether Brazil’s Justice Minister Sergio Moro had been impartial when he handed Lula his first conviction in 2017 and dismissed a petition to let Lula out of jail until then.

    “Lula and his defence team say they will continue to fight against the case and question the impartiality of the judge, now justice minister,” Al Jazeera’s Daniel Schweimler, reporting from Buenos Aires in Argentina, said.

    “They will do everything they can to keep the case alive.”

    The leftist Lula was Brazil’s leader from 2003-2010 and left office with an 87 percent approval rating. But the Workers Party he founded fell hard when Brazilian prosecutors in 2014 began the “Car Wash” corruption investigation and other ones. They are unprecedented probes into corruption, centred on political kickbacks on contracts at state-run firms.

    Lula was convicted in July 2017 in the first of at least eight corruption trials he faces. He was jailed in April 2018 with a 12-year sentence and remains in prison. He has since been convicted in a second corruption trial.

    The first conviction blocked Lula, a leftist icon who remains one of Brazil’s most influential politicians, from running for the presidency last year. Even after he was jailed, polls showed that he would have easily been elected over far-right rival Jair Bolsonaro, who won the presidency.

    In recent weeks, he has come under pressure to resign after The Intercept Brasil news website published the first of what it said will be months’ of stories based on leaked private messages between Moro and prosecutors.

    Those messages raise serious doubts about Moro’s impartiality as he presided over Lula’s trial….

  180. says

    Bernie Sanders wouldn’t commit to dropping out of the race before the convention if he were not the nominee and said some people say he would’ve beat Trump ‘if the system weren’t rigged against me’.”

    Just now on MSNBC. He also asked Kasie Hunt whether she was asking all of the candidates that question. Of course not – he’s the one with this specific history.

  181. says

    “Exclusive: Nigel Farage accused of ‘serious breach’ of MEPs’ code of conduct in leaked letter”:

    The European Parliament Advisory Committee on the Conduct of
    Members has told the President of the European Parliament that Nigel Farage should face the “highest penalty” for a “serious breach” of their Code of Conduct, according to a leaked letter containing their recommendations.

    The committee of MEPs acted following a Channel 4 News investigation that revealed how Mr Farage’s lavish lifestyle was funded to the tune of £450,000 by Brexit donor Arron Banks’ companies in the year after the EU referendum.

    The Channel 4 News report found that close to half a million pounds was spent bankrolling Mr Farage, including rent payments, funding security, a driver as well as flights and parties to launch “Brand Farage” in America.

    Mr Banks is currently subject to a separate investigation by the National Crime Agency over the source of funding for the Brexit campaign. He denies any wrongdoing.

    Channel 4 News has seen sections of a letter sent to President Antonio Tajani by the Parliament’s Advisory Committee on the Conduct of Members, which assesses alleged breaches of the rules and advises the President on possible action.

    Under the current rules, the President of the European Parliament has the power to issue a reprimand, temporarily suspend MEPs from Parliament – and from collecting their daily allowance – for up to 30 days.

    The President can also stop an MEP from representing Parliament in certain circumstances for up to a year.

    The committee’s letter also recommends that the President refer Mr Farage’s conduct to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) for investigation and “liaise and cooperate with the UK national investigatory authorities, including the National Crime Agency, the Electoral Commission and the Metropolitan Police, in order for the full facts to be established.”

    The letter concludes: “The Advisory Committee strongly believes that the circumstances of this case merit extensive further investigation with continuous EU-level supervision and cross-Member State collaboration, including third countries when necessary.”…

    Video report also at the link.

  182. says

    Patrick Radden Keefe:

    I was thrilled & deeply honored to receive the Orwell Prize for Political Writing last night. Profound thanks to @TheOrwellPrize, Orwell’s son Richard Blair, the jury, and the extraordinary list of fellow finalists and winners.

    It was particularly thrilling—and felt somehow significant—that the other book prize, for Political Fiction, went to another book about the Troubles, the extraordinary MILKMAN, by Anna Burns.

    Congratulations to both. I’ve been recommending Say Nothing to everyone. This is the first I’ve heard of Milkman – will definitely check it out.

  183. says

    Re the account @ #285 – I don’t know who runs it, and it’s strange that it’s anonymous, and something about it is odd, so I’ll hold off on recommending it. In any case, the number of representatives backing an impeachment inquiry is steadily rising.

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