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. says

    A collection of the most hilarious images from the British resistance during Trump’s London visit: Link

    A few highlights from the signs:

    “Nobody wanted you to come.” That sign was illustrated nicely with a scene from Alice in Wonderland, with mad-hatter Trump inserted.

    “Trump you are a mindbendingly shit human being.”

    “Bugger off.”

    “Sod off, Trump” Note the correct use of commas.

    “Free bags of fish guts to throw at Trump.”

    “Respect my existence or expect my resistance.”

    “God save the Queen from the fascist tangerine.”

    Trump, of course, claimed that there were no protesters, and he claimed that everywhere he went people were cheering for him.

    Richard Engle noted that protesters against Trump outnumbered the few people wearing MAGA hats by at least 100 to 1.

  2. says

    That Bombshell Evidence in the Census Case? The Supreme Court Might Ignore It.

    Why the justices might not even consider new evidence that undercuts the administration’s rationale.

    Documents unearthed last week showed that the Republican Party’s top gerrymandering expert, Tom Hofeller, was behind the decision to add a controversial question about US citizenship to the 2020 census, a move he wrote would be “advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.” This undercut the Trump administration’s main argument—that the citizenship question was needed to better enforce the Voting Rights Act […]

    But the justices [of the Supreme Court] are unlikely to be swayed by the bombshell new evidence. In fact, they may not even be able to consider it.

    After the documents became public, the ACLU quickly filed a motion informing the Supreme Court of the new evidence. It also asked a lower court to sanction two former Trump administration officials for allegedly concealing Hofeller’s involvement in drafting a memo that became the basis for the citizenship question. There will be a hearing about that request in a federal district court in New York on Wednesday. […]

    “The difficulty is that the Supreme Court voted on this case after oral arguments and has already started writing opinions, and while they sometimes change their minds, it’s not very common,” says Paul Smith, a veteran litigator with the Campaign Legal Center who’s argued numerous high-profile cases before the Supreme Court, including a case last year challenging partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin.

    Second, the Supreme Court is only supposed to examine evidence that is part of the record in the case. For evidence to be entered into the record, a judge has to deem it admissible after thorough briefing and testimony from both sides. Though the justices sometimes do their own research or cite outside sources, deviation from the legal record is frowned upon. “Even though everyone considers evidence outside the record, there’s still a general principle that you aren’t supposed to do so,” says Leah Litman, a professor of constitutional law at the University of California-Irvine. Any consideration of Hofeller’s memos, which have not been vetted by a federal court, would be an exception to the rule, Litman says.

    (On Monday evening, the Justice Department filed a brief in reply to the ACLU, calling the latter’s filing an “eleventh-hour campaign to improperly derail the Supreme Court’s resolution of the government’s appeal.”) […]

    A possible, and unfortunately likely outcome:

    The court’s conservatives brush aside Hofeller’s involvement, one of the liberal justices cites his memo in a fiery dissent, and it has no effect on the outcome.

  3. says

    “George Nader, Witness in Mueller Probe, Denied Release on Child-Porn Charges”:

    George Nader, an emissary to the United Arab Emirates who cooperated extensively with Special Counsel Robert Mueller probe, was denied release on Tuesday after being arrested for possessing child pornography.

    Nader, 60, a Lebanese-American businessman, will be handed over to federal agents for extradition to Virginia for his prosecution. He was arrested Monday at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport for allegedly possessing child pornography on a cellphone more than a year ago. He was originally charged in Jan. 2018 after he arrived at Washington-Dulles International Airport from Dubai, according to the complaint unsealed Monday, where he allegedly transported “child pornography and child erotica,” including videos showing children. Nader previously pleaded guilty to the same charge in 1991.

    Assistant United States Attorney Miriam Glaser proposed to have two FBI agents drive Nader from New York to Virginia. Nader, who will be picked up at 9 a.m. Wednesday, is expected to spend the night in Alexandria before his next hearing.

    The agreed proposal followed an order by Magistrate Judge Cheryl Pollak for overnight detainment. Nader, appearing disheveled and dressed in a khaki jumpsuit, arrived in Brooklyn federal court on Tuesday alongside his defense lawyer, Chris Clark, who revealed the Dubai resident returned to New York on Monday for a cardiologist appointment at Mount Sinai Hospital.

    Clark also claimed Nader had open-heart surgery five weeks ago in Germany and has been suffering from complications….

    Clark asked Judge Pollack on Tuesday that Nader be allowed free on bond to go to a Virginia medical facility where could seek treatment while under 24-hour armed guard. Prosecutors opposed the request for bail, however, pointing to Nader’s access to millions in cryptocurrency, and foreign government connections.

    Judge Pollack ultimately sided with the U.S. attorneys, arguing what while Nader’s medical records do show heart issues, he is healthy enough to travel across the world. After a brief deliberation, Pollack agreed to release Nader “to the custody of the FBI.”

    “He clearly was OK to travel from Dubai to New York to see Dr. Shimony,” Pollack said. “I just don’t know it raises to the level of some imminent concern.”

    Pollack also ruled Tuesday Nader’s request to seek medical attention at a facility will be ruled in Virginia….

  4. says

    “US cuts funds for ‘anti-propaganda’ Iran group that trolled activists”:

    The US state department has cut off funding to a group that purported to combat Iranian propaganda, after it was found to be trolling US journalists, human rights activists and academics it deemed to be insufficiently hostile to the government in Tehran.

    The Iran Disinformation Project was funded by the state department’s global engagement centre which was created to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation. In recent weeks however, the group’s Twitter account @IranDisinfo targeted BBC journalists, thinktank experts and civil society advocates, denouncing them as being “mouthpieces” and supporters of the Iranian government.

    In one case they singled out a researcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW), Tara Sepehri Far, because she had looked into the human rights impact of sanctions on ordinary Iranians.

    The group also focused on supporters of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which Donald Trump withdrew from last year, particularly the National Iranian American Council, which has advocated nuclear diplomacy with Tehran. It used the hashtag #NIACLobbies4Mullahs.

    Many of the group’s controversial tweets were deleted on Friday.

    Brett Bruen, who was director of global engagement in the Obama White House, said that the global engagement centre was originally created to counter Russian and Isis disinformation and propaganda. However, under the Trump administration, it was starved of funds and personnel, and has an operating budget of just $20m. Lea Gabrielle, a former navy intelligence officer and Fox News journalist was hired to run it in February….

  5. says

    Updated list of upcoming political events (let me know if I’m leaving anything off):

    early June sometime: Don Jr. scheduled to testify before Senate Intel Cmte
    June 3-5: Trump’s UK state visit
    June 6: 75th D-Day anniversary
    June 6: deadline for DoJ and Commerce Dept. to comply with House Oversight subpoenas for information about 2020 census
    June 7: Theresa May’s resignation effective
    June 10: House Judiciary hearing – “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes” (2 PM)
    June 11: House contempt vote for Bill Barr scheduled
    June 19: Hope Hicks subpoenaed to appear before House Judiciary
    June 23: Istanbul mayoral election do-over due to AKP corruption
    June 24: Annie Donaldson subpoenaed to appear before House Judiciary
    June 26 and 27: first Democratic primary debate (Miami)

    July 30 and 31: second Democratic primary debate (Detroit)

    September 17: snap Israeli legislative elections

    October 31: Brexit deadline

  6. says

    “Tiananmen 30th anniversary: Thousands hold huge vigil in Hong Kong”:

    Tens of thousands of people have gathered in Hong Kong to mark the 30th anniversary of the crackdown on protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

    Hong Kong and Macau are the only places in China where people can commemorate the activists killed in 1989.

    China has never given an official figure for how many people died, but estimates begin in the hundreds.

    Organisers say 180,000 people took part in a vigil, centred in the city’s Victoria Park.

    But police put the number of attendees at less than 40,000.

    Elsewhere in China, the authorities have banned even oblique references to the crackdown, which took place after weeks of mass protests that were tolerated by the government. The numbers gathered in and around the square are estimated to have reached a peak of one million people.

    Hundreds of security personnel and police were monitoring the square in Beijing on Tuesday.

    Hong Kong’s Victoria Park is once again a sea of candlelight as far as the eye can see.

    The crowd, many dressed in black, is mostly silent whilst holding up their candles in mourning. Some are crying. In between protest songs, they chant “the people will not forget”.

    Amongst the remembrance flowers and candles, there are posters protesting against proposed amendments to laws concerning extraditions to mainland China. Many fear the changes will lead to the further erosion of civil liberties here in Hong Kong….

  7. says

    “Change UK loses six of its 11 MPs after dire EU elections result”:

    Six of Change UK’s 11 MPs, including its spokesman, Chuka Umunna, and interim leader Heidi Allen, have abandoned the fledgling party after its dire performance at the European elections.

    Change UK announced that it now had just five MPs, who will be led by the former Conservative business minister and anti-Brexit campaigner Anna Soubry.

    The others remaining are the former Labour MPs Mike Gapes, Chris Leslie, Joan Ryan and Ann Coffey. In their statement, they said they would embark on a “nationwide programme of deliberative democracy”, across the UK.

    Several of the MPs who have quit the party are believed to be considering defecting to the resurgent Liberal Democrats, although they issued a statement saying that they would initially sit as a group of independents.

    Allen and Umunna have both been advocating closer cooperation with Vince Cable’s party. Some of their erstwhile colleagues suspect they may have been offered plum seats, or the backing of Lib Dem activists in their existing constituency, if they defect….

  8. says

    Two of my comments from the previous thread:

    “Friday was ‘Judge Sullivan’s deadline for public release of (presumably John Dowd) voicemail recording, transcripts of conversations with Russian officials, and unredacted section of Mueller report in Flynn case’. The voicemail transcript was released Friday afternoon, but not the other two items. The government didn’t actually address the order directly – just said that they hadn’t used the recordings to establish guilt. Since the judge had explicitly ordered that the items be turned over, I doubt he’ll just let it go.”

    This fucking contemptuous, insulting letter. No way should they moot their vote or call off the scheduled full-House vote scheduled for next week. The only thing getting Barr to budge an inch is those votes. If the DoJ doesn’t want the House vote next week to go ahead, they can make a good-faith effort beginning today to supply the most important documents. Seriously, fuck these arrogant lawless assholes.”

    Watching for developments in both cases…

  9. says

    Getting all those conservative judges to preside over various courts is paying off for Trump.

    A federal judge [Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee] on Monday rejected an attempt by the Democrat-led House to bar President Donald Trump from spending $6.1 billion in unappropriated funds to build a border wall. […]

    [The judge] said in the opinion that the legislative branch can use the appropriations process to respond to executive actions without assistance from the courts.

    “Congress has several political arrows in its quiver to counter perceived threats to its sphere of power,” he wrote. “These tools show that this lawsuit is not a last resort for the House.”

    I don’t understand all the legal issues, but it looks too me like Trump did an end-run around Congress’s appropriations process.

    I’m hoping that Ari Melber digs into this issue tonight on “The Beat.”

  10. says

    “Sudan protesters reject military election plan after crackdown”:

    Sudan’s opposition has rejected a plan by the country’s military to hold elections within nine months, a day after more than 35 people were reportedly killed when security forces attacked a protest camp in the capital, Khartoum.

    Madani Abbas Madani, a leader of the opposition Freedom and Change alliance, said on Tuesday that an open-ended civil disobedience campaign would continue to try to force the ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC) to hand over power to a civilian-led interim government.

    “What happened [on Monday] – the killing and injuring of protesters, the humiliation – was a systematic and planned attempt to impose repression on the Sudanese people,” Madani told the Reuters news agency.

    The TMC removed veteran President Omar al-Bashir in April after months of protests against his authoritarian rule. But the security forces’ bloody dispersal of a weeks-long sit-in outside the army headquarters in Khartoum poses a new challenge to Sudan’s protest movement.

    The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded the protests against al-Bashir, called for an international committee to investigate the deaths in what it branded a “massacre”.

    The mood in Khartoum was very tense on Tuesday, with many roads barricaded by protesters, many shops shut and streets mostly empty.

    Security forces in the city centre barred access to the former site of the sit-in outside the military’s headquarters, the scene of Monday’s violence. An Al Jazeera witness reported gunfire by Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the capital.

    RSF vehicles were also patrolling the streets in Omdurman, on the other side of the River Nile from Khartoum, and firing into the air, according to the AFP.

    For weeks, the military and protest leaders were negotiating over the make-up of a transitional council meant to run the country for three years before elections.

    But after Monday’s violence, the TMC’s head, General Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, announced it would unilaterally form an interim government and stage elections sooner, within nine months, and under international supervision.

    He said any agreements reached in the negotiations were cancelled.

    Protesters rejected the election plan because it would put the military in charge of running the poll and reiterated their call for three years of civilian-led authority.

    “We have no choice but to continue our protests and civil disobedience until the fall of the military council,” said Mohammed Yousef al-Mustafa, a spokesman for the SPA.

    He called for the international community and the United Nations Security Council not to recognise al-Burhan or the military authorities and put pressure on the generals to hand over power to a civilian-led authority.

    The Democratic Alliance of Lawyers, part of the SPA, on Tuesday urged “some Arab countries” not to interfere in Sudanese affairs and to drop their support for the TMC.

    The alliance’s comments appeared to be aimed at Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt, which analysts say are trying to consolidate their influence in Sudan following al-Bashir’s overthrow.

    Ahead of the crackdown as talks faltered, al-Burhan had visited Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

    The Soufan Group, a security and intelligence think-tank, said the violence could swiftly escalate.

    “There are clear parallels to some of the Arab Spring protests that eventually progressed to full-blown insurgencies, including Syria, where indiscriminate shelling of civilians by the military initially galvanized protest movements that helped launch a broader uprising,” it said in an analysis.

    “There is a real risk that the situation could spiral into full-blown civil war, which would significantly affect the region, with spillover violence impacting the ongoing conflict in Libya.”

  11. says

    In reference to SC’s second link in comment 11: A TPM reader translated the DOJ/Barr letter as “If you’d like to do this dance for 6 to 8 more weeks we are happy to oblige.”

    Analysis from the same reader: “Barr has shown that he has nothing but contempt for Congress. Nadler and Pelosi should meet his contempt for them with contempt for him.”

    From other comments:

    How to read this-

    DOJ: We know you’ll eventually get what you want; how can we screw you along the way?

    What Nadler’s response should be-

    Nadler: Time to start holding your Deputies in Contempt too…
    ———————-
    An offer to “negotiate” is nothing but another stalling tactic. The contempt vote needs to stand because Barr is contemptible.
    ——————-
    I suggest that Nadler send back a terse note pointing out that the refusal of the Justice Department to obey Judge Sullivan’s order — and waiting until after the deadline to announce its refusal — shows what value anyone should place in the “good faith” of Justice Department. And also to accelerate the contempt vote.

    From Ari Melber’s “Opening Arguments” segments, which features Neal Katyal:

    The lawyer who wrote the Special Counsel Rules demolishes Attorney General Bill Barr’s defense of Trump. Neal Katyal reveals Barr contradicting himself in a new interview. Katyal walks through how Barr is “careening from position to position” to clear Trump. Katyal making the point that Congress investigated Benghazi for years, it should hold hearings on Trump obstruction.

    Link to the video, which is excellent. The video is 6:43 minutes long. Katyal is very clear when he makes the relevant points, plus he destroys Barr.

  12. says

    Update to #11: “Just in: Judge Emmet Sullivan appears to have let prosecutors off the hook in producing the Flynn-Kislyak transcripts. ‘The government is not required to file any additional materials or information on the public docket pursuant to the Court’s Orders of May 16, 2019’.”

    I don’t know.

  13. says

    Lynna @ #14, that letter has me livid. After everything everyone did to take back control of the House so there could be a chance for democracy and accountability, they approach that House with such disdain, such disrespect, such dishonesty. Accommodations with them are neither possible nor desirable.

  14. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Tomorrow evening, All In with Chris Hayes (MSNBC) will be having a town hall meeting in Fort Wayne, IN, with Elizabeth Warren. Sounds interesting.

  15. microraptor says

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/sunday-collections-went-to-pay-for-lobbyists/ar-AACopjX?li=BBnb7Kz

    Sunday collections went to pay for lobbyists

    The U.S. Catholic Church spent $10.6 million on lobbyists to prevent victims of clerical sex abuse from suing for damages. According to a new report, the money was doled out from 2011 through 2018 in eight northeastern states where bills to reform statute of limitations laws were either in the works or being considered.

    “This report lays out what we have known all along — that the Catholic Church refuses to take responsibility for the decades of abuse that took place knowingly under its watch,” said attorney Stephen Weiss, who works for one of the law firms that commissioned the study.

    “Statute of limitations reforms give survivors more time to obtain some measure of closure on the atrocities committed against them,” added attorney Gerald Williams. “The Church has yet to implement meaningful reforms, and by working to prevent these laws from passing, the Church is clearly demonstrating that it does not stand with survivors.”

  16. says

    SC @17:

    Lynna @ #14, that letter has me livid. After everything everyone did to take back control of the House so there could be a chance for democracy and accountability, they approach that House with such disdain, such disrespect, such dishonesty. Accommodations with them are neither possible nor desirable.

    Right. And Chairman Nadler agrees with you!

    Good move on Nadler’s part.

  17. says

    “U.S. lawmakers to push back against Trump on Saudi weapons sales”:

    Members of the U.S. Congress, including some of President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, are preparing legislation seeking to block his plan for $8 billion in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, congressional aides and lawmakers said on Tuesday.

    The first measures could be introduced within days, congressional aides said.

    Declaring a national emergency because of tensions with Iran, the Trump administration informed congressional committees on May 24 that it was going ahead with the 22 military deals, circumventing a long-standing precedent for lawmakers to review major weapons sales.

    The decision angered members of both parties, who worried that Trump’s decision to blow through the “holds” process would eliminate Congress’ ability to prevent not just Trump but future presidents from selling weapons where they liked.

    The array of military products cleared for sale by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo included offensive equipment like precision-guided munitions, mortars and fighter jet engines, some of which would take many months to be produced and shipped, which lawmakers said belied the administration’s contention that it was addressing an emergency.

    Some of the licenses would allow U.S. defense contractors like Raytheon Co and Boeing Co to run production lines in Saudi Arabia….

    More at the link.

  18. says

    “ABC vows to continue reporting ‘without fear’ after police raid Sydney offices”:

    The ABC has vowed to continue to report on national security issues without fear amid a raid by the Australian federal police over a series of articles the broadcaster ran in 2017 into the clandestine operations of Australian special forces in Afghanistan.

    The raid on the public broadcaster’s headquarters comes just one day after the AFP raided the home of a News Corp political editor over articles she published in 2018 on proposals to expand Australia’s domestic surveillance capabilities.

    The searches have sparked concern about press freedom in Australia, with the media union denouncing them as a disturbing attempt to “intimidate” journalism.

    The ABC warrant names the reporters Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, as well as the ABC news boss, Gaven Morris.

    In a statement less than an hour after the AFP officers entered the office, the ABC managing director, David Anderson, called the raid “highly unusual”.

    “This is a serious development and raises legitimate concerns over freedom of the press and proper public scrutiny of national security and defence matters,” he said.

    “The ABC stands by its journalists, will protect its sources and continue to report without fear or favour on national security and intelligence issues when there is a clear public interest.”…

  19. says

    “Honduras deploys security forces as doctors and teachers demand president’s resignation”:

    Honduran security forces with teargas and live bullets have been deployed to quell a wave of nationwide protests led by doctors and teachers demanding the resignation of the country’s president.

    Juan Orlando Hernández, the US government’s top ally in Central America, is under increasing pressure amid public anger over crumbling public services, dismal approval ratings – and explosive revelations that he was the subject of a US Drug Enforcement Administration trafficking investigation during his first term in office.

    The US supported his re-election in 2017, since when the number of migrants and asylum seekers fleeing Honduras has soared.

    The current wave of social unrest was triggered by privatization reforms that critics warned would kill off public education and health services. This week, Hernandez withdrew the proposed legislation, but more strikes and protests are planned for the coming days despite the militarized crackdown.

    “The people are on the streets because the crisis is extreme, and they have been betrayed too many times by this government, which is no longer recognized as credible or legitimate,” said Dr Suyapa Figueroa, president of the Honduras Medical College and leader of the fledgling Platform for the Defense of Education and Health.

    “We are willing to dialogue but only with representatives who are honest, knowledgeable, and have no conflicts of interest, not those elected by this illegal government,” Figueroa added.

    Teachers and doctors first went on strike in April after the government approved legislative decrees granting special powers to ministers to impose major reforms to the health and education systems. But the roots of the unrest go much deeper.

    Education and healthcare have suffered severe cuts and multiple corruption scandals under the National party, which has ruled Honduras since a military-backed coup deposed the elected president Manual Zelaya in 2009.

    Last week US prosecutors unsealed court documents from 2015 which name Hernandez as a target of a major investigation into “large-scale drug-trafficking and money laundering activities”.

    The court filings also named several close confidants, including his deceased sister, Hilda Hernandez, a former National party president linked to a IHSS fraud, and the security minister, Ge Julian Pacheco.

    The president’s younger brother and former congressman, Tony Hernandez, was arrested in the US last November and charged with conspiring to traffic tons of cocaine stamped with his initials into the US between 2004 and 2016.

    “Despite the evidence, despite popular opinion, the US embassy continues to back Hernandez,” said the sociologist Eugenio Sosa. “But what we see on the streets is widespread indignation, rejection and hate for a president who they consider illegal, illegitimate, and corrupt. The people want the president gone.”

  20. says

    Daniel Dale: “I’m going to work for CNN! I’ll be on the truth beat full-time starting June 17, dissecting dishonesty from Trump, Democratic candidates and others….”

    More in the thread. Good for him and CNN.

  21. says

    “Trump Now Floats That McCain Ship Drama Was A Figment Of Our Imaginations”:

    President Donald Trump, never one to be restrained by the truth, is now positing that the debacle around hiding a warship named for the late Sen. John McCain and his family may not have even happened.

    “First of all, I didn’t know anything about it, but I’m not even sure it happened,” Trump told Piers Morgan on “Good Morning Britain.” “I hear it’s fake news. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But again, I don’t talk about John McCain unless someone asks me about it.”…

  22. says

    Re #28 – The article refers to Hilda Hernández as JOH’s “deceased sister.” Notably, she was killed (with five others) in a suspicious helicopter crash in December 2017. For some reason, someone has edited her WP page to read “(Gracias, 5 October, 1966-Lepaterique-Not dead)” and “Hllda Hernández did not die on December 16, 2017 in a helicopter accident while travelling to the Soto Cano Air Base in Comayagua.”

  23. says

    Good morning! If you’re just waking up in the US, here’s what President Trump said overnight about why he wouldn’t have wanted to serve in Vietnam: ‘Well, I was never a fan of that war. I’ll be honest with you. I thought it was a terrible war, I thought it was very far away…'”

    Thread at the link.

  24. says

    What Trump said in an interview with Piers Morgan about banning transgender troops:

    Because they take massive amounts of drugs, they have to — and also, and you’re not allowed to take drugs. You’re in the military, you’re not allowed to take any drugs. You take an aspirin.

    And they have to after the operation. They have to. They have no choice. And you would actually have to break rules and regulations in order to have that.

    An excerpt from analysis and fact-checking of that nonsense:

    […] When reminded that the cost of the medications is miniscule, and that the Pentagon already spends far more to provide servicemen with Viagra, the president eventually tried to defend his policy by saying, “Well, it is what it is.”

    How profound.

    There are a couple of dramatic flaws in Trump’s underwhelming defense, starting with the fact that he’s contradicting his own team’s talking points. The administration’s argument up until now has been that the ban on transgender Americans serving in the military is needed to protect unit cohesion and morale among the other troops. Now the argument apparently has something to do with medications.

    Which leads us to the other problem: Trump’s wrong about this, too. […]

    The Washington Post turned to the experts to get the facts:

    This statement is incorrect,” said Jane Schacter, an expert on gender and sexuality law at Stanford University. “Many members of the military use prescription medication, and it is made available to them worldwide. Hormone therapy, in particular, is prescribed, including to manage the gynecological needs of non-transgender service members.”

    Joshua Safer, the head of the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System, agreed. “The hormones taken by transgender individuals are not prohibited by the military,” he said. “Medication for transgender people in the military would be — and is currently, for those transgender individuals already serving in the military — handled similarly to other prescribed medication where an emergency interruption is not life threatening.” […]

    It’s also important to note that not all transgender people undergo gender reassignment surgery or take prescription hormones, so even if such prescribed drugs were prohibited, it wouldn’t necessarily mean transgender troops would have to be banned from serving. Trump’s comments seem to suggest that these drugs would be required for all transgender troops; they’re not.

    Trump cannot defend his transgender ban.

  25. says

    Joe Biden’s campaign posted a climate plan that included content plagiarized from other sources. Today, Biden’s team is busy adding citations.

    In other candidate news, Senator Cory Booker introduced his plan to make housing more affordable. New York Times link

  26. says

    Oliver Darcy:

    YouTube announces it is prohibiting supremacist content, like videos glorifying Nazi ideology.

    Youtube will also be removing content “denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place.”

    YouTube tells @donie that the company will remove hundreds of thousands of videos as a result of its new ban on supremacist content it announced today.

    Announcement at the link.

  27. says

    Trump lied, a lot, during the press conference he held in London with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

    For now, I’ll just look at one of those lies.

    Here it is:

    I’ve had tremendous Republican support. I have a 90 percent — 94 percent approval rating as of this morning in the Republican Party. That’s an all-time record. Can you believe that? Isn’t that something? I love records. But we have a 94 percent approval rating in the Republican Party.

    The statement Trump made in London was the 14th time that Trump told the same or a very similar lie. His point this time in telling the lie was that it would be futile for any Republicans to try to block his escalating tariff plan for Mexico.

    Recently, the Daily Mail pointed out that George W. Bush had a rating of 96%, compared to Trump’s rating of 87%.

    Gallup polls show Trump only reaching a 90% approval rating in February 2019. He has never reached a 94% approval rating.

    In September 2001, George H.W. Bush had a 97% approval rating. Ronald Reagan hit 94% in 1984, and “I am not a crook” Nixon hit 91% in 1973. Dwight Eisenhower hit 95% in 1956.

    That’s five Republican presidents with a higher approval rating than Trump. Looking at history since World War II, only Gerald Ford had a lower approval rating among Republicans than Trump.

    […] Yet he keeps claiming he has the all-time high.

    Interestingly, Trump at one point acknowledged he had not topped George W. Bush’s record. But he tried to dismiss that detail in a Bloomberg News interview in August 2018.

    “In fact, I guess the Republican poll came out, there’s one at 92 and one at 93 and one at 90, and they’re the highest numbers that have ever been, with the exception of a tiny period of time with a bullhorn,” Trump said. “But that period lasted for about a week.”

    In reality, Bush’s approval rating among Republicans was generally above 96 percent from September 2001 to the end of 2003, or more than two years. It even went back to 96 percent at the end of 2004. […]

    Gallup is not the only metric, but Trump fares worse in other polls. The Washington Post-ABC poll goes as far back as Reagan’s presidency. Trump was at 78 percent approval among Republicans in the January poll; his high water mark was 86 percent in November 2018. […]

    Trump’s high point of 86 percent approval is more in line with the average of 85 percent rating for G.W. Bush/G.H.W. Bush/Reagan among Republican adults. His latest rating of 78 percent is below that.

    In the most recent CNN poll, conducted at the end of May, Trump was at 86 percent, also below 90 percent. […]

    No matter how you measure it, Trump has never achieved the “all-time record” for approval from Republicans. In fact, he ranks in sixth place among post-World War II GOP presidents in the Gallup poll. It’s especially damning that Trump continues to make this claim, since he has acknowledged that George W. Bush actually holds the record.

    Washington Post link

  28. says

    Well done, by Ryan Goodman – “A Side-by-Side Comparison of Barr’s vs. Mueller’s Statements about Special Counsel Report”:

    Wednesday marks one week since Robert Mueller broke his silence and made a formal statement on the special counsel’s report on the 2016 Russian election interference.

    The Chart below compares Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s May 29 public statement with statements made by Attorney General William Barr.

    Whether or not Mueller was intentionally trying to correct the record, the differences between what he and Barr said are, in many cases, stark. Some of the differences involve near complete contradictions—in other words Mueller’s statement and Barr’s statements cannot both be true. Other differences are more a matter of emphasis or tone (e.g., references to the threat posed by the Russian operations, descriptions of the qualities of the special counsel staff)….

  29. says

    Democrats, (and 7 Republicans) in the House of Congress voted to protect Dreamers.

    The House-passed bill would protect from deportation and provide a pathway toward citizenship for young migrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Many would-be “Dreamers” currently safeguarded by the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which only the federal courts have thwarted Trump from dismantling.

    It would also shield others here temporarily because their home countries — chiefly in Central America, Africa and the Middle East — have been ravaged by wars or natural disasters.

    AP News link

    Mitch McConnell will probably not let this bill even come to the floor of the Senate for a vote. Republican leaders, including Trump, are putting out propaganda that bills Democrats pass are garbage, but they also claim that Democrats aren’t passing any bills at all.

    From Trump:

    The Dems are getting nothing done in Congress. They are frozen stiff. Democrats … don’t want to do anything.

    From Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson:

    It’s going to be pretty hard to pass legislation when that’s all the House is really doing [focusing on investigating White House scandals]. I warned voters ahead of the 2018 election that if you put Democrats in front of the House, all you’re going to be talking about is investigations, talk of impeachment and it won’t be about governing.

    Before this Democratically controlled House of Congress has hit the halfway mark of the legislative term, Democrats have passed:
    Democracy-reform package (H.R. 1).

    The Equality Act to expand civil rights to LGBTQ Americans (H.R. 5)

    The Dream and Promise Act (H.R. 6).

    The Paycheck Fairness Act to address pay disparities between men and women (H.R. 7).

    A bill to expand background checks on gun purchases (H.R. 8).

    A bill to address the climate crisis (H.R. 9).

    Other bills that have been passed lower prescription drug costs, fix deficits in health care, and expand the reach of the Violence Against Women Act.

    Republicans in the Senate are the ones who haven’t done anything, (unless you count approving conservative and unqualified judges).

    I think more people are likely to notice that the Senate is not voting on the “Dream and Promise Act.”

  30. says

    Just a reminder, as Nerd pointed out in comment 23, Chris Hayes is hosting a town hall event with Elizabeth Warren tonight. 8pm ET on MSNBC.

  31. says

    Wow – “Software vendor may have opened a gap for hackers in 2016 swing state”:

    A Florida election software company targeted by Russians in 2016 inadvertently opened a potential pathway for hackers to tamper with voter records in North Carolina on the eve of the presidential election, according to a document reviewed by POLITICO and a person with knowledge of the episode.

    VR Systems, based in Tallahassee but with customers in eight states, used what’s known as remote-access software to connect for several hours to a central computer in Durham County, N.C., to troubleshoot problems with the company’s voter list management tool, the person said. The software distributes voter lists to so-called electronic poll books, which poll workers use to check in voters and verify their eligibility to cast a ballot.

    The company did not respond to POLITICO’s requests for comment about its practices. But election security experts widely condemn remote connections to election-related computer systems — not only because they can open a door for intruders but because they can also give attackers access to an entire network, depending on how they’re configured.

    In Durham County’s case, the computer in question communicated with North Carolina’s State Board of Elections to download the county’s voter list before elections, which could have potentially opened a gateway to the state system as well.

    That wouldn’t have allowed intruders to alter the vote tallies — and no evidence has surfaced that anyone hacked North Carolina’s election results. But interference with voter records or electronic poll book software could allow an attacker to alter records in a way that prevents people from voting in crucial swing precincts. Investigations are still ongoing into whether any such tampering might have happened in North Carolina.

    Almost three years after the first public revelation of hackers’ interference in the 2016 presidential race, the Department of Homeland Security has decided to conduct a forensic analysis of computers used in Durham County during that election, the department confirmed to POLITICO on Wednesday. The DHS move was first reported by The Washington Post.

    VR Systems has customers in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, New York state, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. Sixty-two of Florida’s 67 counties used VR Systems in 2016, including Miami-Dade, the state’s most populous. Twenty-three of North Carolina’s 100 counties, including some of its largest, also used VR Systems’ technology. Both Florida and North Carolina were critical to President Donald Trump’s victory in November 2016: Trump won Florida by 1.2 percentage points, or 119,770 votes, and North Carolina by 3.8 percentage points, or 117,529 votes.

    The FBI recently revealed that Russian hackers had successfully infiltrated two counties in Florida before the 2016 election, but details about how the hacks occurred, or the connection if any to VR Systems, are still unclear.

    POLITICO asked VR Systems if it had previously gained remote access to customers’ systems in North Carolina or in other states, and if it was still engaged in that practice. The company did not respond.

    Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a leading critic of VR Systems, said the company needs to explain itself.

    “Remotely accessing voting systems the day before Election Day is serving up our democracy on a silver platter to foreign hackers,” Wyden told POLITICO. “No company that plays such a critical role in our elections should be taking such a reckless shortcut with the cybersecurity of its state and local customers.”

    He added: “The fact that we’re just learning about this practice two years after the election, and after any evidence of hacking has likely been destroyed, is inexcusable. Americans need to know if VR Systems still has remote access to election computers in other states, and how often this occurred.”

    Electronic poll books at five precincts began having problems almost immediately after polls opened on Election Day. Some crashed, some incorrectly told poll workers they had to ask voters for a photo ID, and others erroneously indicated that at least nine voters had already cast a ballot when they had not.

    When the state election board learned about the problems, it ordered the county mid-morning to switch to paper backups of the voter list. But this created delays and long lines that led some voters to leave without casting a ballot….

    Much more at the link.

  32. says

    More WTF moments from Trump’s interview with Piers Morgan:

    Weather “changes both ways”
    […]
    “I believe there’s a change in weather, and I think it changes both ways,” he told Morgan. “Don’t forget, it used to be called global warming, that wasn’t working, then it was called climate change, now it’s actually called extreme weather.” […]

    USS McCain shrouding may not have happened
    Trump ushered in a new phase of the USS McCain scandal, claiming that U.S. officials may have never actually hid the name of the ship from him after all.

    “First of all, I didn’t know anything about it, but I’m not even sure it happened,” Trump said. “I hear it’s fake news. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But again, I don’t talk about John McCain unless someone asks me about it.” […]

    Meghan Markle is “very nice”
    Trump tried to clarify his past comment that Markle was “nasty,” explaining that he was only remarking that he’d been unaware that she was “nasty” about him.

    “She was nasty to me. And that’s okay for her to be nasty; it’s not good for me to be nasty to her and I wasn’t,” he said. “You know what? She’s doing a good job, I hope she enjoys her life. … I think she’s very nice.”

    Medical care for transgender people too expensive
    [See comment 40]

    Deflecting questions on gun violence
    […] “In London you have stabbings all over,” Trump said. “They said your hospital is a sea of blood.”

    Trump also said that stricter gun laws would just hurt people who followed those laws.

    “The people that obey the laws, if they laws get passed — those people are sitting ducks,” Trump said, arguing that certain people would still find a way to obtain firearms illegally.

    When specifically asked about access to semi-automatic rifles, Trump claimed that people use them for “entertainment.”

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/trump-piers-morgan-interview

  33. says

    “Scoop: Israel works to stop Senate resolution on two-state solution”:

    Israel is trying to prevent the Senate from passing a bipartisan resolution endorsing a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Israeli officials and congressional staffers tell me.

    The resolution for was drafted by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen. Israeli officials told me it could be tabled [British meaning – SC] soon and — as a bipartisan measure backed by a close Trump ally like Graham — would be expected to win a substantial majority.

    State of play: Graham and Van Hollen have so far rejected the Israeli lobbying efforts….

  34. says

    From Richard Engel:

    Trump sounded delusional when he said there were thousands welcoming him in London. I didnt see them. And that small crowds of protestors were put out for political reasons. These not are some frog marched, bussed in protesters.

    From HuffPo:

    “Engel, who has been covering the protesters, told NBC’s “Today” on Tuesday that as he listened to the president describe cheering crowds welcoming him in London, it sounded like he and Trump were in different cities.

    “That sounded to be somewhat delusional,” Engel said. “Instead we’ve seen people quite boisterously expressing their opposition to President Trump. They say they don’t want him here and they’re upset the British government has rolled out the red carpet.”

    During an appearance on Andrea Mitchell’s MSNBC show the same day, Engel elaborated on the “troubling” nature of Trump’s false claim.

    “There’s something deeply disturbing about President Trump claiming that he saw ‘thousands of people’ here who were celebrating him and welcoming his arrival,” the journalist said. “There were thousands of people on the streets. They were protesting Trump, not celebrating his arrival.”

  35. says

    Followup to comment 53.

    Trump’s delusion:

    I kept hearing that there would be “massive” rallies against me in the UK, but it was quite the opposite. The big crowds, which the Corrupt Media hates to show, were those that gathered in support of the USA and me. They were big & enthusiastic as opposed to the organized flops!

  36. says

    “Senate Intelligence Committee summons mysterious British security consultant”:

    Senate investigators have added yet another name to the constantly evolving cast of characters in the Russia investigation.

    On April 5, just 2 weeks after Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his final report on Russia’s election interference, the Senate Intelligence Committee sent a letter to a British security consultant named Walter Soriano asking for a voluntary, closed-door interview and documents with various Russia probe figures dating back to June 2015.

    The letter, obtained by Politico, offers yet another window into the panel’s secretive — but largely bipartisan — two-year-old investigation, and reveals the investigators’ interest in what, if any, role Israel may have played in attempts to manipulate the 2016 election.

    The panel’s interest in Soriano is not a mere fishing expedition, according to a source familiar with the investigators’ internal deliberations who requested anonymity to discuss them freely.

    “They’re surprised by how connected he seems to several people of interest,” this person said, including the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska — a former business associate of Trump’s campaign chairman Paul Manafort, who offered Deripaska private briefings about the campaign in 2016. Deripaska is believed to have worked with Soriano on corporate intelligence matters, this person said.

    On April 5, the committee sent a bipartisan request to Soriano at the London address for his security firm, USG Security Limited. The letter asked for “all communications or records of communications” with some characters who have by now become household names, like Manafort and Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

    The committee also requested Soriano’s communications with three Israeli private intelligence firms: Psy Group, Wikistrat, and Black Cube, as well as any communications he may have had with Orbis Business Intelligence, a firm co-founded by the former British spy Christopher Steele.

    A committee spokeswoman declined to comment. A lawyer for Soriano did not return a request for comment. It’s not clear whether, or how, Soriano responded to the committee’s letter….

  37. says

    More cruelty towards child migrants is coming to the USA:

    The Trump administration is canceling English classes, recreational programs and legal aid for unaccompanied minors staying in federal migrant shelters nationwide, saying the immigration influx at the southern border has created critical budget pressures.

    The Office of Refugee Resettlement has begun discontinuing the funding stream for activities — including soccer — that have been deemed “not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety, including education services, legal services, and recreation,” said U.S. Health and Human Services spokesman Mark Weber.

    Federal officials have warned Congress that they are facing “a dramatic spike” in unaccompanied minors at the southern border and have asked Congress for $2.9 billion in emergency funding to expand shelters and care. The program could run out of money in late June, and the agency is legally obligated to direct funding to essential services, Weber said.

    The move — revealed in an email an HHS official sent to licensed shelters last week, a message that has been obtained by The Washington Post — could run afoul of a federal court settlement and state licensing requirements that mandate education and recreation for minors in federal custody. Carlos Holguin, a lawyer who represents minors in a long-running lawsuit that spurred a 1997 federal court settlement that sets basic standards of care for children in custody, immediately slammed the cuts as illegal. […]

    Washington Post link

  38. says

    From Jennifer Rubin:

    […] Trump may have hit a new low as he lied, seethed, intruded and blundered his way through his trip to Britain. Beginning with his taunting the mayor of London, Trump seemed unaware and unconcerned that his vengeful tweeting about the media (“Haven’t seen any protests yet, but I’m sure the Fake News will be working hard to find them.”), which is commonplace at home, when sent from overseas underscores how unserious, uncouth and uninformed he really is.

    Moreover, at the center of the Western alliance, where civil liberties and the rule of law are foundational values, Trump once more showed he doesn’t understand the country he leads. He tweeted threats to AT&T, the corporation that owns CNN […]

    Queen Elizabeth II, as if to underscore a desperation to educate him about the “special relationship” between the United States and Britain, delivered a pointed gift: an abridged first edition of “The Second World War,” written by wartime prime minister Winston Churchill. Perhaps someone will read it to him. Prime Minister Theresa May also showed him a copy of the Declaration of Independence. Alas, they will find it just as impossible to educate him about our shared values as so many Americans have found. […]

    Trump may have inadvertently played into some of Britons’ worst fears about their post-Brexit future when he suggested that Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) could be a part of a U.S.-Britain trade deal.

    “When you’re dealing on trade, everything is on the table — so NHS or anything else, and a lot more than that,” the president said when asked about the position of Britain’s health system in a trade deal. “Everything will be on the table, absolutely.” […]

    All in all, it was a dreadful performance, showcasing Trump’s ignorance and dishonesty. His news conference on Tuesday was the perfect example of how he has eroded respect for and the influence of the United States on the world stage.

    […] And most important, he [The Center for American Progress’s Brian Katulis] added, Democrats should communicate that Trump “is a man without a plan and the whole world knows it.”

    In sum, Trump’s cringeworthy visit should remind us of the urgency of getting him out of office. […]

  39. says

    From Senator Tammy Duckworth:

    #CadetBoneSpurs: no one cares whether you were a “fan” of the Vietnam War. No one believes you were medically unfit to serve. You used your wealth & privilege to avoid serving your country five times, forcing another American to serve in your place each time.

    None ever said they were fans of war. They simply answered their nation’s call, regardless of what they thought. Especially during the draft—it wasn’t optional for them.

  40. says

    The Trump administration is not only planning to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and other bad actors, it is also planning to sell weapons to Taiwan.

    [Trump] is preparing to sell Taiwan over $2 billion in weapons and tanks, according to Reuters.

    Congress has been sent an informal notice of the proposed sale […]. The sale would include 108 General Dynamics Corp M1A2 Abrams tanks and anti-tank munitions, according to three of Reuters’ sources.

    The U.S. is Taiwan’s only arms supplier. The move is likely to exacerbate tensions with China amid an ongoing trade war between China ad the U.S. China considers Taiwan part of the country.

    Taiwan already has an existing inventory of U.S.-manufactured tanks, including the M60 Patton model but also has expressed interest for the past several years in updating its supply, according to the news service.

    While President Trump has publicly said he remains committed to the longtime “One China” policy, the White House in May endorsed a request from Taiwan to purchase more than 60 F-16 fighter jets.

    In May, China was reportedly angered by a meeting between Taiwanese national security chief David Lee and White House national security adviser John Bolton, the first meeting between U.S. and Taiwanese security officials in more than four decades. China has also expressed dismay at increased U.S. naval patrols through the Taiwan Strait in recent months. […]

    Link

  41. says

    While he was visiting the UK, Trump touted his commitment to clean water and clean air, but Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency is taking another deregulatory action that could increase pollution.

    […] the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would lift requirements for major farms to report the pollution they emit through animal waste.

    The rule, released late Tuesday, spurred criticism from environmental groups who say nearby communities would no longer have access to information about harmful gasses being emitted into the air.

    Across many industrial farms in the U.S., animal waste is collected and stored together in open pits often called lagoons. As the manure decomposes it emits ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, which are linked to respiratory issues and other health problems.

    People who live near farms have long complained of the odor, but they also attribute asthma, headaches, nausea, and a stinging sensation in their lungs to farm pollution. […]

    The new rule gives farms and the EPA the latest win in what has been a long battle between the agency, Congress, and environmental groups to determine to what extent large farms must report pollution that could be hazardous to human health. […]

    Congress made clear under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act that this information must be passed to state and local governments so that emergency responders and neighbors know how to respond to nearby pollution.

    “A lot of the health impacts from farms disproportionately impact low income and minority communities, she said. People with chronic health problems are seeking medical care from doctors who are asking what they might be exposed to — information they currently can only get from the reports. […]

    Link

  42. KG says

    The sycophantic coverage of Trump’s visit by the BBC, and the eagerness of Tory politicians to flatter him, were the most vomit-inducing aspects of his visit. but the american ambassador, and Trump himself, really let the cat out of the bag with regard to the NHS. Trump himself seems to have been begged by the Brexiteers to row back on this, but that’s not fooling many people. A petition has been started against selling off the NHS, which may surpass the 6 million who signed the petition to cancel Brexit.

  43. says

    Re #55 – Bertrand’s report mentions these allegations, but I found a bit more on a blog (posted last February):

    …There is another shocking aspect to these investigations. Netanyahu doesn’t shy from a fight. In fact, it brings out his political pugilist impulses. The police have accused him of hiring private investigators to “tail” them and to monitor their phone communications, seeking “dirt” that might be used to impeach the police investigation. To be more precise, the police haven’t directly accused the prime minister of directing this conspiracy. But they have implied it.

    Walter Soriano: Bibi’s Bully

    Last week, Israel’s Kan TV news program ran a segment revealing that a UK Haredi Jew named Walter Soriano…was hired to obtain unsavory information that might weaken the investigation against the prime minister. Soriano, once known to workers in the prime minister’s office as “The Thug,” apparently has been an intimate of the Israeli leader for decades and acted as his “muscle” when needed. Kan produced a contract signed by Soriano with unnamed parties listing the services he would provide including HUMINT (physical and electronic surveillance) tracking of the police.

    The news segment noted that among those involved in the campaign to uncover unsavory information were veterans of Israel’s IDF HUMINT division, Unit 8200. One of its staples is bugging Palestinian telecommunications to identify people with vulnerabilities (infidelity, homosexuality, terminal illness) who might be recruited as Shabak spies. You can imagine what these investigators were tasked with regarding their police targets.

    One former IDF special forces commander was paid nearly $30,000 per month for his services in compiling useful information about police officials involved in these cases. The news segment does not specify Soriano’s fee, but it must be considerably larger.

    If this sounds like Harvey Weinstein’s employment of the Israeli intelligence firm, Black Cube, to dig up dirt on his female victim/accusers, that’s because it is. With the additional unprecedented phenomenon of an Israeli prime minister suspected of major acts of corruption and self dealing, turning the tables on law enforcement and investigating the investigators….

  44. tomh says

    Scotusblog:
    Government responds in census citizenship case

    Last week the challengers in the dispute over the decision to include a question about citizenship on the 2020 census notified the Supreme Court about new evidence. The new evidence, the challengers argued, indicated that a Republican redistricting strategist played a key role in the decision, which was intended to create an advantage for whites and Republicans in future elections. Yesterday the Trump administration pushed back, calling the challengers’ accusations “meritless” and an “eleventh-hour” effort to “derail the Supreme Court’s resolution of this case.”

    The government’s contentions came in its response to the challengers’ motion, made in a federal district court in New York, suggesting that the government should be sanctioned because the new evidence contradicts testimony and representations by government officials in the case. The response was attached to a letter sent to the Supreme Court yesterday by Noel Francisco, the U.S. solicitor general.

    In the five-page, single-spaced response, the government dismisses as “false” the challengers’ claim that a senior Department of Justice official, John Gore, relied on a 2015 study by the Republican strategist, Thomas Hofeller, when Gore drafted a 2017 letter asking the Department of Commerce to include the citizenship question. “There is no smoking gun here,” the government stresses; “only smoke and mirrors.”

    If the 2017 letter resembles anything, the government suggests, it is “friend of the court” briefs filed in a 2016 case in which the Supreme Court had been asked to decide whether total population or the number of eligible voters should be used to determine whether state legislative districts have equal populations. (Nathaniel Persily, the Stanford law professor who was the author of one of the briefs cited by the government, described himself as “outraged” that his work was “being misrepresented” by the government.)

    Apparently, there are no consequences when the DOJ blatantly lies to a Federal Court.

    The Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision before the end of June, so that the government can finalize the census questionnaire and begin printing it.

  45. Akira MacKenzie says

    After Biden’s wet, slippery blowjob for the Hyde Amendment, another refutation of the “Vote Blue No Matter What” argument. Reproductive rights should be a point we NEVER compromise on.

  46. says

    “Exclusive: US intel shows Saudi Arabia escalated its missile program with help from China”:

    The US government has obtained intelligence that Saudi Arabia has significantly escalated its ballistic missile program with the help of China, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter said, a development that threatens decades of US efforts to limit missile proliferation in the Middle East.

    The Trump administration did not initially disclose its knowledge of this classified development to key members of Congress, the sources said, infuriating Democrats who discovered it outside of regular US government channels and concluded it had been deliberately left out of a series of briefings where they say it should have been presented.

    The previously unreported classified intelligence indicates Saudi Arabia has expanded both its missile infrastructure and technology through recent purchases from China.

    The discovery of the Saudi efforts has heightened concerns among members of Congress over a potential arms race in the Middle East, and whether it signals a tacit approval by the Trump administration as it seeks to counter Iran. The intelligence also raises questions about the administration’s commitment to non-proliferation in the Middle East and the extent to which Congress is kept abreast of foreign policy developments in a volatile region.

    The development comes amid growing tensions between Congress and the White House over Saudi Arabia.

    The whole incident puts the panel’s Republican chairman, Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, in a tricky spot. Compared to his predecessor Corker, an avid Trump critic, Risch has refrained from criticizing the administration, and has attempted to strike a balance between tending the concerns of angry committee members while also trying not to undercut Trump’s foreign policy strategy.

    Risch, who also sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, dismissed complaints that the intelligence omission was intentional and chalked it up to a simple oversight, given the sheer volume of information the intelligence community gathers each day.

    “There’s no doubt that factual matters that the intelligence community has sometimes don’t get into the hands of senators simply because there is too much of it,” Risch told CNN, noting that he hadn’t received any complaints from Republican members of the panel. “It’s not intentional at all. It’s just simply that it can’t be done.”

    Menendez doesn’t buy into that theory.

    “You can’t lose track of something like this,” said Menendez, who would not discuss the topic of the underlying intelligence at issue. “It was egregious.”

    Menendez is now pressuring the administration to provide a classified briefing on the issue for all 100 senators.

    The divide between Congress and the administration on Saudi has led to increasingly hostile receptions for Trump officials who come to Capitol Hill to testify. It’s also one that has largely left the US public in the dark as to the administration’s actions with its closest allies in the region.

    For at least one Democratic Senator who spoke on condition of anonymity even as he declined to address the underlying Saudi intelligence, it’s all part of a broader trend of the administration refusing to share intelligence with Congress.

    The administration “has taken a position of: you don’t need to know anything,” the senator said. “Which, of course, is constitutionally inaccurate.”

    Much more at the link.

  47. says

    After Biden’s wet, slippery blowjob for the Hyde Amendment, another refutation of the “Vote Blue No Matter What” argument. Reproductive rights should be a point we NEVER compromise on.

    You really need to get a grip. I cannot deal with this nonsense for another 17 months. (And it’s “vote blue no matter who.”)

  48. says

    “Turkish diplomats swept up in wave of arrests report torture”:

    At least 27 former Turkish diplomats, including one woman, have been arrested as suspects in an alleged conspiracy amid mounting evidence that many of them were tortured and threatened with rape.

    The arrests follow the mass detention on May 20 of around 110 former diplomats accused of cheating on the Foreign Ministry’s entrance exams with help from an Islamic fraternity that used to be allied with the government and is now classified as a terror organization known as the “Fethullah Gulen Terror Organization” or FETO.

    The group, led by the Pennsylvania-based Sunni cleric Fethullah Gulen, is accused of plotting the July 2016 coup attempt to bloodily overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    The timing of the former diplomats’ arrests has raised questions about the government’s motives and there is speculation that the real target may be former Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Some believe it’s an attempt to intimidate purged officials into not seeking redress.

    The former political science professor is currently in the process of forming a new party that casts itself as an alternative to Erdogan’s AKP.

    Since losing Istanbul and Ankara to the opposition in the March 31 local elections, Erdogan has begun to look increasingly vulnerable but no less ruthless when its comes to self-preservation. A rerun of the Istanbul polls are being held on June 23 after the country’s election watchdog succumbed to the AKP’s skimpily evidenced claims of irregularity.

    One of the former diplomats who was among those freed agrees that erecting a conspiracy case against the diplomats could conceivably allow authorities to implicate Davutoglu as its mastermind, and by extension a FETO operative, thus nipping his party plans in the bud.

    The man, who spoke on condition that he not be identified by name for fear of retribution, told Al-Monitor in a telephone interview, “They did not touch us for three years; it was totally unexpected.”

    In the years since the abortive putsch, at least 130,00 government officials have been purged and over 90,000 others jailed, most for their alleged membership of FETO and often on scanty evidence, rights groups say. They include around 550 Foreign Ministry personnel summarily fired under Emergency Decree 672 issued on Sept. 1, 2016….

    Much more at the link.

  49. says

    From CBS News comes this report that Trump is sending troops to the U.S./Mexico border to improve the “aesthetic appearances” of the barriers.

    Lawmakers were notified of the action on Wednesday in an email message from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has asked the Pentagon multiple times in recent months to deploy troops near the southern border to support the agency as it faces an unprecedented surge of Central American families and unaccompanied children heading to or in between ports of entry.

    According to the email, the text of which was provided to CBS News by a congressional aide, an unspecified number of service members were set to paint barriers in the California border town of Calexico. […]

    “While the primary purpose is to improve the aesthetic appearance of the wall, there may also be an operational benefit based on our experience with painted barrier in Nogales, Arizona,” the email read. […]

    On Twitter, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the second-highest Democrat in the Senate, denounced the task as a “disgraceful misuse” of taxpayer money. “Our military has more important work to do than making Trump’s wall beautiful,” he added.

    Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, echoed Durbin’s comments, calling the task detailed in the email a “gross misuse” of the military.
    “These are soldiers, they are not painters,” Castro told CBS News. […]

  50. says

    House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, is demanding a strange investigation that, if he gets it, may backfire.

    Confronted with uncontested facts about the Russia scandal […] Trump and his team have increasingly tried to blame Barack Obama. […]

    Last month, the Trump campaign went a little further down this road, claiming that Obama’s cyber-security team was “told to ‘stand down’ from countering Russian meddling,” deliberately allowing the Russian attack. That’s bonkers, of course, but it’s what the Republican president’s base was told anyway.

    […] House Minority Whip Steve Scalise […] recommended an investigation — not into Trump’s misdeeds, but into the Obama administration’s actions during the 2016 election.

    “We know Russia interfered with the elections. Why did the Obama administration allow Russia to interfere in the elections? That’s a question we should be probing. […]

    “How much time is being spent going and looking and seeing just exactly what Russia did to interfere with out election while Barack Obama was president?”

    I’m not sure the far-right Louisianan has fully thought this one through.

    It’s true that the investigatory focus has been on Team Trump’s alleged cooperation with our Russian attackers, the attack itself, and the president’s alleged efforts to obstruct the investigation while it was ongoing.

    But if Scalise wants a related probe into what Obama tried to do in response to Moscow’s efforts, the GOP congressman may not like where the investigation ends up.

    As regular readers know, the Obama White House, swayed by the evidence compiled by U.S. intelligence agencies, wanted bipartisan support to push back against Russian intrusion, and in mid-September 2016, the then-president dispatched counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco, then-FBI Director James Comey, and then-Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to brief top members of Congress.

    Obama didn’t want to be seen as using intelligence for partisan or electoral ends, so he sought a “show of solidarity and bipartisan unity” against foreign manipulation of our democracy.

    That didn’t happen – because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused.

    As the Washington Post previously reported, when national security officials told congressional leaders about Russia’s interference, it was McConnell who not only didn’t want to alert the public, he also questioned the validity of the intelligence.

    If Scalise wants some kind of official inquiry into who interfered with the Obama administration’s efforts to push back against Russian election meddling, I have a hunch some Democrats would welcome the scrutiny.

    Link

  51. says

    Some Republicans think Donald Trump should be celebrated on D-Day … and on the Fourth of July.

    From HuffPost:

    Apparently, the “D” in D-Day stands for “Donald Trump,” at least according to Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.

    The GOP chair appeared on Fox Business on Wednesday to basically moan about the way the media has covered the president’s trip to Europe. She then suggested that Trump should be a main focus of the 75th-anniversary commemoration of D-Day.

    “We are celebrating the anniversary, 75 years of D-Day. This is the time where we should be celebrating our president, the great achievements of America, and I don’t think the American people like the constant negativity.”

    From the Washington Post:

    […] Trump plans to address the nation from the Lincoln Memorial on July 4 as part of an overhauled Independence Day celebration that would bring a host of new security and logistical challenges, D.C. officials and the U.S. Park Police said Wednesday.

    The president had floated the idea of speaking at the nationally televised event, but his participation had not been confirmed. His appearance could reshape a decades-old, nonpartisan celebration that annually draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city’s monumental core.

    U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Eduardo Delgado confirmed that Trump plans to speak at the memorial. […]

    The 4th of July celebration on the National Mall is, traditionally, apolitical. Rachel Maddow reported last night on Nixon’s efforts to make the 4th of July celebration about him. It did not go well.

  52. says

    From Elizabeth Warren, answering a question from Chris Hayes about Joe Biden’s support for the Hyde Amendment:

    […] When host Chris Hayes asked Warren if she thought former Vice President Joe Biden’s embrace of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion services except in cases of rape, incest, or a danger to the life of the mother, was wrong, she gave an unequivocal “yes.”

    “I’ve lived in an America where abortions were illegal. And understand this: Women still got abortions,” Warren said (watch the video below). “Now, some got lucky on what happened, and some got really unlucky on what happened. But the bottom line is they were there.

    “Under the Hyde Amendment,” she continued, “under every one of these efforts to try to chip away or to push back or to get rid of Roe v. Wade, understand this, women of means will still have access to abortions. Who won’t will be poor women, will be working women, will be women who can’t afford to take off three days from work, will be very young women, will be women who’ve been raped, will be women who have been molested by someone in their own family. We do not pass laws that take away that freedom from the women who are most vulnerable.”

    Link

  53. says

    The people from the Trump administration who should be meeting with representatives from the Mexican government to negotiate over Trump’s threatened tariffs are just not there.

    U.S. and Mexico officials were set to meet for a second day on Thursday to try to avoid a damaging trade war prompted by President Donald Trump’s fury over Central American migrants trying to enter the United States.

    But it was unclear whether a deal could be reached Thursday afternoon, with several key officials in the administration unavailable for negotiations. Trump is in France for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, and both Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are on the road. […]

    “We grateful that the Mexican delegation came forward with proposals. It was a good discussion,” Pence said. “We welcome what [they] put on the table. But, as the president said yesterday, it’s not nearly enough.”

    Customs brokers are warning there has not been nearly enough time for them to prepare for a tariff increase. Industry leaders wrote to the administration on Wednesday, urging it to delay the new import duties until U.S. Customs and Border Protection “can develop the procedures by which importers and brokers and reasonably pay them.”

    “It is our responsibility as the most knowledgeable professionals, to express our grave concern, even alarm, that it will be impossible to comply, as the mechanisms for compliance are not available between now and June 10, or even before the increase planned for July 1,” the Pacific Coast Council of Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association wrote in a letter. […]

    https://www.politico.com/story/2019/06/06/us-mexico-tariffs-1511352

    Incompetence and bullying tactics from the Trump administration.

  54. says

    Before he read from a script at the D-Day ceremonies in Normandy, Trump blasted out some new/renewed trade threats.

    The Democrats — Congress has been a disaster. They won’t change. They won’t do anything. They want free immigration — immigration to pour into our country. They don’t care who it is. They don’t care what kind of a record they have.

    Something pretty dramatic could happen [with Mexico]. We’ve told Mexico the tariffs go on. And I mean it, too. And I’m very happy with it.

    It’s all politics. It’s a vicious business. So that’s the way it is.

    And a lot of people, senators included, they have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to tariffs. They have no — absolutely no idea.

    Then Trump went on to speak at the D-Day ceremony:

    We are gathered here on freedom’s altar. On these shores, on these bluffs, 75 years ago, 10,000 men shed their blood and thousands sacrificed their lives for their brothers, for their countries and for the survival of liberty.

    To all of our friends and partners, our cherished alliance was forged in the heat of battle, tested in the trials of war and proven in the blessings of peace, our bond is unbreakable.” […]

    He didn’t write that. His actions speak otherwise.

    Trump’s comments about tariffs against China, (threatening to slap tariffs on yet another $300 billion in goods), comments he made in Ireland before he flew to Normandy:

    In the meantime, we’re getting 25 percent on $250 billion, and I can go up another at least $300 billion. And I’ll do that at the right time.

    But I think China wants to make a deal badly. I think Mexico wants to make a deal badly. And I’m going to Normandy.

  55. says

    Republicans have found yet another way to demonize migrant families: by claiming that they are “renting babies” to get across the border.

    Mark Morgan, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told Republicans senators Wednesday that migrants from Central America are “renting babies” to make it easier to get across the U.S. border.

    Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, bought into Mark Morgan’s claim:

    I can’t believe that this actually happens but that people down there in Central America or Mexico are renting babies to get across the border and then sending them back and renting them again to get across the border.

    The public doesn’t know about it. I hope you guys will help advertise that, assuming the information that I heard yesterday was accurate because that’s a humanitarian crisis that we have to be concerned about.

    More on Morgan’s claim:

    Morgan previously raised the issue of migrants from Central America allegedly renting children to make it easier to get across the border and gain asylum in an April interview with the Epoch Times. […]

    “Grab a kid and you’re in. And so now you’ve seen a complete change in the demographics because of that. And now you’re seeing adult males coming along. And it goes even further, the children are being exploited,” he added. “An adult male who wants to get across will pay the cartels to basically rent the kid. It’s horrendous.”

    Grassley said he didn’t see any evidence from the DHS officials that babies are in fact being rented but indicated that he believed it’s happening. […]

    Link

  56. says

    Trump attacked Robert Mueller again … and he did so with graves of was heroes in the background.

    […] Trump sat down with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham this morning in Normandy, and with the graves of war heroes serving as a backdrop, Trump expanded on his new attack against Mueller.

    […] “Let me tell you, he [Mueller] made such a fool out of himself … because what people don’t report is the letter he had to do to straighten out his testimony because his testimony was wrong,” Trump told Ingraham.

    For now, let’s also put aside how offensive it is to see a U.S. president — in Normandy for the 75 anniversary of D-Day — go after Americans on foreign soil, with a military cemetery in the background.

    Let’s instead pause to consider what in the world Trump is talking about.

    To hear the president tell it, Mueller had to do a “letter” in order to “straighten out” what he said “because his testimony was wrong.” While I’ll concede that translating Trump to English can be a frustrating and painful exercise, I think I know what he was trying to say.

    On Wednesday, May 29, Mueller announced that he was stepping down from his Justice Department role and took the opportunity to emphasize a series of points: Russia attacked our elections; obstruction of justice is a serious matter; he did not exonerate the president; and he believed he lacked the legal authority to indict a sitting president.

    It was, to put it mildly, a rather brutal assessment for the White House.

    Later that day, the Justice Department and the special counsel’s office clarified, “The Attorney General has previously stated that the Special Counsel repeatedly affirmed that he was not saying that, but for the [Office of Legal Counsel] opinion, he would have found the President obstructed justice…. The Special Counsel’s report and his statement today made clear that the office concluded it would not reach a determination – one way or the other – about whether the President committed a crime.”

    This clarification was intended to resolve any discrepancies between Attorney General Bill Barr’s earlier remarks on the subject and Mueller’s. It did nothing to detract from Mueller’s findings.

    But in Trump’s mind, this clarification was some kind of humiliating “correction” the special counsel was forced to issue.

    Reality tells a very different story. Trump’s claims in Normandy this morning notwithstanding, Mueller didn’t have to write a “letter”; he didn’t offer “testimony”; nothing he said was “wrong”; and he certainly didn’t make “a fool out of himself.”

    This is just a desperate president grasping at straws.

    Link

  57. says

    When he was in Ireland yesterday, Trump made some nonsensical comments about North Korea.

    When I became president, and before that, as you know, it was all the time: nuclear testing, ballistic missile testing. And now there’s nothing.

    Yeah, right. “Nothing” except for more ballistic missile testing which we all saw with our own eyes. Even John Bolton said that the missile tests violated U.N. Security Council resolutions.

    Here is some analysis from David Ignatius, writing for the Washington Post:

    Watching the clown show that has been President Trump’s foreign policy lately, you wonder whether there’s any coherent logic embedded in his erratic, internally conflicting statements about Iran, North Korea and other issues. And of course, there is: It’s the politics, stupid.

    Trump is already in full campaign mode. In his quest for reelection, he doesn’t want to be seen to fail in anything. He wants to sound tough (popular) so long as it doesn’t get him into a war (unpopular).

    Trump is polishing his résumé, claiming success for North Korea diplomatic negotiations that have gone nowhere. If that means contradicting national security adviser John Bolton and pretending that Pyongyang’s recent ballistic tests didn’t violate U.N. Security Council resolutions, fine, no problem. Just don’t call it a failure.

  58. says

    Democratic presidential candidate Kirsten Gillibrand posted her plan to legalize marijuana and to expunge all nonviolent criminal charges associated with marijuana.

    Link

    Gillibrand also wants to tax nonprescription marijuana products, which makes a lot of sense.

  59. says

    An update on subpoenas issued by the House of Congress, and how those subpoenas may be enforced, (contemporary citations are also mentioned):

    The contempt citation on Attorney General William Barr is moving forward. And it’s not just Barr: Legislators will bring contempt citations for both the attorney general and former White House Counsel Don McGahn to the floor of the House on Tuesday.

    […] Democrats in the House are voting on changes that would empower committees to move to court more quickly to enforce congressional subpoenas, as well as authorize committee chairmen with the ability to hold officials in contempt without requiring a vote by the full House.

    The move to hold Barr and McGahn in contempt would move the conflict between Congress and the White House to a new level, and should force a court decision on the legality of the expansive use of executive privilege that had been claimed by Donald Trump. That would include placing all redacted sections of the Mueller report under privilege, or claiming the authority to stop McGahn from testifying.

    If the plan passes next week, the battle over subpoenas and contempt citations could kick into a much higher gear, allowing Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler and Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff to go straight to court without stopping at the House floor.

    Link

  60. says

    The organizers behind Boston’s Straight Pride Parade should concern you

    Some of the organizers are close to neo-Nazis and other white supremacists.

    While Boston’s planned “straight pride parade” has created a fountain of hilarious jokes, there is a serious issue at hand with organizers’ close ties to far-right groups.

    The three men organizing the parade, planned for August 31, are John Hugo, Mark Sahady, and Chris Bartley, who is called the “gay ambassador” on the event website. Sahady has ties to groups like the Proud Boys, the New Hampshire American Guard, and the Massachusetts Patriot Front.

    Hugo unsuccessfully ran for the Massachusetts’ 5th Congressional District in 2018 with support and endorsement from Resist Marxism, a group that is considered to be “alt-lite” and holds anti-Semitic, misogynist, and anti-LGBTQ views. […]

    More at the link.

  61. says

    Alabama Banned Abortions. Then Its Lawmakers Remembered Rapists Can Get Parental Rights.

    A new law will finally change that—but it only goes so far.

    A few months after Jessica Stallings’ 13th birthday, her uncle raped her for the first time. He was 20 years old, and he lived with Stallings and her mother in their Alabama home. He kept raping her, she claimed in court documents, and by the time she was 19, she had three children from the encounters. They married briefly when she was 20, and she filed for divorce a few months later.

    […] After their divorce, a court granted him visitation rights so he could regularly see the kids—forcing her to repeatedly face the man she says tormented her.

    Each year, between 7,750 and 12,500 children are conceived from rape nationwide, according to Justice Department estimates, which are likely low because many attacks are not reported. Family custody lawyers say rapists sometimes push for parental rights to try to dissuade mothers from pressing for criminal charges, or after being asked to pay child support. […]

    “If we’re going to ban abortions, we need laws in place for rape victims,” Stallings, who supports the ban, told AL.com, a local news outlet. “We’re not encouraging them to go through with their pregnancies if we’re telling them they have to be constantly bound to their rapist because they conceived.”

    Last week, the Alabama Legislature approved “Jessi’s Law,” a bill that would let courts in the state terminate the parental rights of some rapists. […]

    The Alabama law only applies to cases where the abuser has been convicted of first-degree rape or incest that resulted in the conception of a child. Lawmakers have argued in the past that this requirement serves as a safeguard, to ensure men are not falsely accused and stripped of their parental rights without a guilty verdict in court. But family custody attorneys argue this will limit who will be protected by the law, since so many rapes are unreported or underprosecuted. Out of every 1,000 sexual assaults, on average only nine are referred to prosecutors, and only five lead to a felony conviction, according to a study by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network. […]

    “We don’t require criminal convictions for habitual drug use or child abuse, so why is it reasonable to demand one from a woman who claims she was raped and conceived her child through rape?” […]

    More at the link.

  62. says

    With the graves of dead servicemen and women as the backdrop, Trump also insulted Nancy Pelosi.

    Asked if he would mind if Mueller were to testify before Congress, as House Democrats want, Trump replied that the special counsel had “made a fool out of himself” the last time he testified.

    Trump then added: “Nancy Pelosi — I call her ‘Nervous Nancy’ — Nancy Pelosi doesn’t talk about it. She’s a disaster. She’s a disaster. Let her do what she wants, you know what? I think they’re in big trouble.”

    Pelosi, who was also in Normandy, refused to respond, say that it was inappropriate to do so. “I don’t talk about the president while I’m out of the country. That’s my principle.”

  63. says

    But I think China wants to make a deal badly. I think Mexico wants to make a deal badly.

    Sounds like he’s the right man for that job. Nobody makes deals as badly as him.

  64. says

    The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (which still has a picture of Maria Butina as its avatar) tweeted today: “#Zakharova: The Normandy landings were not a game-changer for the outcome of WWII and the Great Patriotic War. The outcome was determined by the Red Army’s victories – mainly, in Stalingrad and Kursk. For three years, the UK and then the US dragged out opening the second front.”

    The responses get the job done, but the tweet itself is gross and disrespectful.

    I learned recently (if I knew it before I’d somehow forgotten) from Masha Gessen’s The Future Is History that Russians after WWII weren’t told of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the 80th anniversary of which is this August. Of course, people who were alive at the time knew about it, but were unlikely to speak of it for a variety of reasons. I doubt it was anything people wanted to focus on in the window between the fall of the Soviet Union and Putin’s reviving an authoritarian, propagandistic, Stalinist history, so I don’t know how many Russians are aware of it even today.

  65. says

    “Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, escalates attack on judges”:

    A simmering row over the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in Italy has erupted after the far-right interior minister publicly singled out three magistrates who have challenged his hardline anti-immigration policies.

    In an escalation of his battle with the judges and the courts, Matteo Salvini said he would ask the state attorney to examine whether the magistrates should have abstained from passing verdicts in cases involving immigrants because their opinions conflict with government policy on security and immigration.

    Luciana Breggia, a judge in Florence, and Matilde Betti, a judge in Bologna, had refused to accept an interior ministry appeal against rulings that allowed asylum seekers to be enrolled onto the civil registry of their respective cities. Rosaria Trizzino, the president of Tuscany’s regional administrative court, had vetoed the creation of so-called “red zones” – areas cordoned off against petty criminals – in Florence.

    Salvini said that proof of the women’s pro-migrant sympathies could be gleaned from online searches that revealed they had participated in debates about migration and presentations of books on the topic, or collaborated with magazines that focus on law and immigration.

    Salvini has previously taken aim at Breggia, suggesting in a Facebook post last week that if she wanted to change laws she should stand for election. More than 4,500 people responded to the post, and many of the comments contained death threats against the judge.

    None of the women were available for comment on Thursday, but Silvia Albano, a Rome judge and board member of the National Magistrates Association, said Salvini’s move was a very serious matter.

    “The statements of the interior minister are intimidating, threatening and undermine not only the rule of law but the values of the Italian constitution,” she said. “Threatening the freedom of judges means threatening the freedom of all citizens, not to mention coming from an interior minister who, as such, should guarantee the security of magistrates.”

    Carlo Sorgi, a judge in Bologna who knows Betti well, said: “This is very bad – magistrates have the right to have an opinion and this seems to be a move [toward suppressing] that. Betti is a brilliant magistrate and well esteemed across Italy. You can check that on Google.”

    Sorgi, who is also secretary of the Bologna unit of the Democratic Judiciary association, was among 60 magistrates in the city who signed a petition in January against Salvini’s policies, which have included closing the ports to migrant rescue ships, evicting people from refugee centres and dismantling integration projects.

    “It was to show humanity,” he said.

    This is not the first time Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister and leader of the far-right League, has publicly lambasted judges for failing to toe his political line….

    More at the link.

  66. says

    Pete Buttigieg: “75 years ago, more than 156,000 Allied soldiers landed on Normandy Beach, including 73,000 Americans. It was their bravery that helped turn the tide against Nazism and Fascism abroad. To honor their heroism, let us continue to stand for freedom and democracy, abroad and at home.”

  67. says

    NEWS: DOJ has rejected the House Oversight Committee’s demand for more documents about the census’ citizenship question, paving the way for another contempt vote against AG Barr.”

  68. says

    Japan’s health and labour minister has defended workplaces that require women to wear high heels to work, arguing it is “necessary and appropriate” […]

    OK, then he should be required to wear them.

  69. KG says

    Well, the BUF narrowly failed to win a by-election in Peterborough, with Labour just holding onto the seat. This was contrary to all predictions up until a day or two ago, when bookmakers’ odds shifted, and as a result doubts emerged in the media. Labour’s vote-share was still considerably down (from 48.1% at the 2017 general election to 30.9% now), the Tories’ was down even more, while the LibDems and Greens increased theirs (see the link). I’m delighted the BUF failed, but this will undoubtedly strengthen the hand of those in Labour pushing for it to support a new referendum, even though it’s clear they and the tories lost Remainer as well as Leaver votes.

    The background was the former Labour MP being convicted of lying about who was driving a speeding car (she was), and being recalled by a petition of 10% of the constituents (a new provision in UK law). It’s clear from the accounts of their own leaders and activists that Labour achieved their narrow win by focusing on local issues, ignoring Brexit as much as possible, and bringing in many activists to make full use of the local knowledge of where their voters were, to get their vote out. They couldn’t do that to the same extent in a general election, but would still have the advantage of lots of activists and decades of data (as would other established parties to varying extents). At any rate, if the BUF can’t win a byelection in these exceptionally favourable circumstances, it’s unlikely they can get anywhere near what opinion polls might suggest in a general election.

    According to people who heard it, an interview this morning on BBC radio by John Humphreys (widely regarded as a BUF cheerleader) of Labour’s Andy Macdonald was an utter disgrace, with Humphreys defending Trump, denying that he’d called for the NHS to be on the table in any trade talks, then having to backtrack when Macdonald corrected him. I’m afraid I just can’t listen to BBC news programmes any more.

  70. KG says

    but this will undoubtedly strengthen the hand of those in Labour pushing for it to support a new referendum – Me@101

    The exact opposite of what I intended to say – it will strengthen the hand of those resisting this push.

  71. says

    CNN is showing video of a near collision between US and Russian warships in the Philippine Sea. Looks like about as near as it can get without being an actual collision.

  72. says

    “Biden reverses long-held position on abortion funding amid criticism”:

    Former Vice President Joe Biden says he now wants to throw out the Hyde Amendment, dropping his long-held support for the measure that blocks federal funds from being used for most abortions amid criticism from his 2020 Democratic rivals.

    “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code,” he said.

    The Hyde Amendment is a four-decade-old ban on federal dollars being used for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when the woman’s life is in danger.

    Biden’s campaign on Wednesday said he still supported the Hyde Amendment — a position that put him to the right of all other leading 2020 Democratic contenders, as well as Hillary Clinton and the party’s platform in 2016.

    Biden told the crowd Thursday night he had changed his mind because Republican state lawmakers have enacted “extreme laws in clear violation of constitutional rights” protected by the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, making access to abortions more difficult for women who cannot afford the procedure or travel to obtain it.

    He said he makes “no apologies” for his previous support for the Hyde Amendment.

    “But circumstances have changed. I’ve been working through the final details of my health care plan like others in this race and I’ve been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents,” Biden said.

    He said he wants to achieve “universal coverage” and “provide for the full range of health services women need” through the continued expansion of Medicaid and offering a “public option” that would allow people to join Medicare.
    “I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to … exercise their constitutionally protected right,” he said.

    “Folks, the times have changed. I don’t think these guys are going to let up,” Biden said, referring to Republicans.

    Biden had faced criticism from women’s health and pro-abortion rights organizations, including Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

    But groups that had criticized Biden on Wednesday quickly praised him after his reversal on Thursday….

  73. says

    “Russian disinformation on YouTube draws ads, lacks warning labels: researchers”:

    Fourteen Russia-backed YouTube channels spreading disinformation have been generating billions of views and millions of dollars in advertising revenue, according to researchers, and had not been labeled as state-sponsored, contrary to the world’s most popular streaming service’s policy.

    The channels, including news outlets NTV and Russia-24, carried false reports ranging from a U.S. politician covering up a human organ harvesting ring to the economic collapse of Scandinavian countries. Despite such content, viewers have flocked to the channels and U.S. and European companies have bought ads that run alongside them.

    The previously unpublished research by Omelas, a Washington-based firm that tracks online extremism for defense contractors, provides the most comprehensive view yet of the Russian government’s success in attracting viewers and generating revenue from propaganda on YouTube, which has 2 billion monthly viewers worldwide.

    YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc’s Google, introduced a policy in February of 2018 to identify channels predominantly carrying news items and are wholly or partly funded by national governments, in order to help users make informed viewing decisions.

    YouTube said on Wednesday that following inquiries from Reuters it added the state-funding disclaimer to 13 additional Russian channels, including eight of the channels spreading disinformation.

    Twelve other Russia-sponsored channels identified by Omelas with misleading or inaccurate news reports already had the state-funding label.

    Collectively, the 26 channels drew 9 billion views from January 2017 through December 2018, Omelas found. Another 24 Russian channels with no apparent ties to disinformation attracted an additional 4 billion views, Omelas said.

    Omelas estimated those 13 billion total views could have generated up to $58 million from ads, including some from Western advertisers. It estimated that Russia could have received $7 million to $32 million under YouTube’s standard revenue-sharing program, while YouTube itself would have pocketed from $6 million to $26 million.

    An accurate analysis is difficult because YouTube shares limited audience and sales data. YouTube declined comment on the channels’ revenue. Calls and emails to the Russian government and the country’s embassies in the United States and Britain were not returned….

  74. tomh says

    @ #104
    Anyone who has to “struggle with the problems Hyde presents,” is suspect, as far as I’m concerned. What’s there to struggle with?

  75. says

    From last night’s All In: “Lessons From History As U.S. Detains More Migrants”: “As the U.S. camp system to detain migrants grows, author Andrea Pitzer laid out lessons from history on camp detentions.” (6-minute video)

    I haven’t read Pitzer’s book yet, although I am reading Dan Stone’s Concentration Camps: A Short History right now. The story of the Spanish refugees in later-repurposed French camps is told in Los últimos españoles de Mauthausen.

  76. Akira MacKenzie says

    tomh @ 109

    The struggle between which Democratic interest group to alienate: Pro-choicers or Catholics?

  77. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 12

    Trump is furiously scribbling notes… in crayon, of course.

  78. tomh says

    ReligionClause:
    Washington Supreme Court OK’s Anti-Discrimination Law Enforcement Against Florist Opposed To Gay Marriage

    In an important and wide-ranging 76-page opinion yesterday, the Washington state Supreme Court held that a florist shop’s refusal to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding constitutes sexual orientation discrimination under the Washington Law Against Discrimination, and that enforcement of the law does not violate the constitutional rights of the floral shop owner. This is the second time the case has been before the Washington Supreme Court. After the first decision, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari, vacated the state court’s judgment and remanded for further consideration in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision. Yesterday in State of Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers , Inc., (WA Sup. Ct., June 6, 2019), in a unanimous decision, the court concluded that the state adjudicatory bodies involved acted with religious neutrality. It refused to allow the challengers to expand their claims to allege selective enforcement based on religion by the Washington attorney general.

    The Washington Supreme Court went on to hold that challengers cited no authority to support their argument that the state’s public accommodation law protects proprietors of public accommodations to the same extent as it protects their patrons, and that a balancing test should be used. The court then rejected the florist’s free speech claims, saying:

    The decision to either provide or refuse to provide flowers for a wedding does not inherently express a message about that wedding.

    The Court also rejected challengers’ religious free exercise claims under the U.S. and Washington state constitutions. It concluded that even if the state constitution requires strict scrutiny, that test is met:
    [P]ublic accommodations laws do not simply guarantee access to goods or services. Instead, they serve a broader societal purpose: eradicating barriers to the equal treatment of all citizens in the commercial marketplace. Were we to carve out a patchwork of exceptions for ostensibly justified discrimination, that purpose would be fatally undermined.

    The ADF said they will again ask for review by the SC.

  79. says

    Kip @87, thanks for the laugh!

    SC @99, “OK, then he should be required to wear them.” [laugh] Right. Let the men who make the rules requiring women to wear high heels wear the damn things.

    A dose of delusional Trump:

    There are those that say we have one of the finest Cabinets,” Trump claimed. That is not a commonly held view. In fact, it is difficult to think of anyone even halfway credible — Republican or Democrat — who has said anything approaching that. Even some of Trump’s most ardent supporters have expressed dismay at the people he has hired.

    The quote is from “The Best People: Trump’s Cabinet and the Siege on Washington,” a book by Alexander Nazaryan.

    A few details pointed out by Steve Benen:

    […] We recently learned, for example, that David Bernhardt, a former corporate lobbyist for the oil industry, became the subject of an ethics investigation immediately after becoming the nation’s new Interior secretary. Federal prosecutors recently presented evidence to a grand jury on Ryan Zinke, Bernhardt’s predecessor.

    As regular readers may recall, it was around the same time that we learned new details about Alex Acosta, Trump’s Labor secretary, who allegedly broke the law while shielding a politically connected sex trafficker.

    About a year ago, NBC News published a list of Trump administration figures accused of crossing ethical and/or legal lines, and the list wasn’t at all short. It included familiar controversies involving former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, former HHS Secretary Tom Price, former regulatory adviser Carl Icahn, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, former CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

    That wasn’t an exhaustive list. As we discussed at the time, there have been related controversies surrounding Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and former VA Secretary David Shulkin.

    While we’re at it, let’s also not overlook controversies surrounding Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and former FEMA Director Brock Long.

    Even acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan faced an ethics probe.

    Who, exactly, is prepared to argue Trump’s cabinet is “one of the finest”?

    Link

  80. says

    SC @118, that article by Mariana Hyde was so well written! An enjoyable read, even if it did provide so many horrific details. There was even a literary nod to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.”

    Rolling news offered the 24-hour spectacle of Britain being borne back ceaselessly into its past […]

  81. says

    Trump tweeted this nonsense yesterday after he finally signed the Disaster Aid Bill:

    Just signed Disaster Aid Bill to help Americans who have been hit by recent catastrophic storms. So important for our GREAT American farmers and ranchers. Help for GA, FL, IA, NE, NC, and CA.

    Puerto Rico should love President Trump. Without me, they would have been shut out!

    Analysis and fact-checking from Steve Benen:

    […] I realize there’s a debate in some journalistic circles about the propriety and utility of using the word “lie” when the president peddles brazen falsehoods. Many have argued that in order to accuse Trump of lying, one must necessarily know whether or not he understands what he’s saying is false. There’s an element of motive involved: if the Republican believes his own nonsense, maybe it’s not technically a literal “lie.”

    But in this case, there’s no ambiguity. Trump is just straight up gaslighting the public. […]

    The federal disaster relief package was needlessly delayed for quite a while for one principal reason: the president didn’t want Puerto Rico to receive additional relief. As the Washington Post reported:

    In fact, the areas of the country ravaged by natural disasters have had to wait months for the assistance because Trump pushed back against including more money for Puerto Rico.

    Throughout negotiations, the president accused the Puerto Rican government of mismanaging the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in 2017 and claimed that the island received more money from the government than it had.

    The idea that Puerto Ricans “would have been shut out” of the disaster-relief package were it not for him is plainly bonkers. In this case, there’s no doubt that Trump knows this, but he lied anyway. […]

  82. says

    “Trump admin tells U.S. embassies they can’t fly pride flag on flagpoles”:

    The Trump administration is rejecting requests from U.S. embassies to fly the rainbow pride flag on embassy flagpoles during June, LGBT Pride Month, three American diplomats tell NBC News.

    The U.S. embassies in Israel, Germany, Brazil and Latvia are among those that have requested permission from Trump’s State Department to fly the pride flag on their flagpoles and have been denied, diplomats said.

    During the Obama administration, the government granted blanket permission to embassies overseas to fly the pride flag during June. This year, U.S. diplomats said, embassies were told they can display the pride flag other places, including inside embassies, but that requests to fly it on the flagpole must be specifically approved. No approvals have been granted.

    The denial to the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany, is particularly jarring because the U.S. ambassador there, Richard Grenell, is spearheading an administration push to end the criminalization of homosexuality in roughly 70 countries that still outlaw it, as NBC News first reported in February. Grenell, the most senior openly gay person in Trump’s administration, has secured support for that campaign from both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence….

  83. says

    From German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

    […] Walls of ignorance and narrowmindedness may exist between family members as well as between groups within society, between people of different skin colors, nations and religions. I would like to see us break down these walls.

    I want to leave this wish with you: Tear down walls of ignorance and narrowmindedness, for nothing has to stay as it is […].

    She spoke at Harvard’s commencement last week.

  84. says

    Trump was asked, “What could you do to unite the country at a time of great polarization?”

    His response:

    So, I think success should unite the country. But I will tell you, the more successful we’ve come, the more angry people like Nancy Pelosi, who don’t have what it takes, they don’t know what’s going on, they get angry.

    They should — an example is Mexico. I said, “We’re going to put tariffs on because we want you to help us, because they won’t pass any legislation in Congress.” And I have senators and others and Pelosi coming out saying, “Oh, how horrible.”

    What they’re doing is they’re hurting the deal. They should be saying, “We’re with the president, we’ll do whatever he wants to do,” and Mexico would fold like an umbrella. Now, I have these people and I’m saying there’s some Republicans too, I think they should be ashamed of themselves.

    But we have Pelosi, we have crying Chuck Schumer — who’s a disaster by the way, he’s a total political, you know, jerk — but we have Schumer, we have all these people, they come out and they talk about “tariffs are bad,” so they can, you know, they hurt my negotiation, because I go into the room with the Mexicans, I’m asking them for everything.

    So, yeah, he has no clue as to how to “unite the country at a time of great polarization.” But he does have plans to increase that polarization. He has one idea though: if everyone agrees to do whatever Trump wants, then he will view that as unity.

  85. says

    WTF? Hey, Trump, the moon is not part of Mars.

    For all of the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!

    That’s a tweet from this morning.

    A month ago, Trump wanted to send U.S. astronauts to the moon.

    The explanation is mundane, but I do wish Trump would learn to write in English.

    Here’s what he probably meant, (text is from a December 2017 directive, which someone else must have written for him):

    The directive I am signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery. It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term exploration and use. This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints — we will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond.

  86. says

    ‘I Can No Longer Continue to Live Here’

    What’s driving so many Honduran women to the U.S. border? The reality is worse than you’ve heard.

    In a small town tucked in the hills outside Tegucigalpa, there is a stuffed gray bunny rabbit that knows a little girl’s secrets. “I tell him all my things,” she says. “About how I’m doing, and when I feel sad.” She feels sad a lot lately. “I start thinking about things that I shouldn’t be thinking,” she says.

    There are a lot of things she shouldn’t be thinking. She is 12 years old and just weeks away from giving birth to a baby.

    Sofia and her mom told me her story when we met at a women’s shelter in mid-April. Sofia (like others interviewed for this story, she asked me not to use her real name) was raped by a family member of her mom’s boyfriend. She still doesn’t totally understand what pregnancy means or what childbirth entails, but she knows the delivery is looming, and that scares her. “At first, she said that she did not want to have the baby,” Sofia’s mom told me. “She said that she wanted to commit suicide.” When doctors told Sofia she was pregnant and explained that pregnancy meant she was going to have a baby, Sofia, in her soft, small voice, asked whether she could have a doll instead.

    When Sofia’s mom found out about the rape, she reported it to the police, and now the man who did it is in jail. But his family kept threatening them, and Sofia and her mom have good reason to worry about what happens once he’s out. Most crimes like this—more than 90 percent—aren’t even prosecuted in Honduras. The few women who do see their attackers go to jail are offered little protection when those sentences end. “If he comes out,” Sofia’s mom says, “I am afraid for my life and her life, too.”

    What do you do when you fear for your life and the state won’t protect you? Or if the state might make your already tenuous situation worse? The fraught calculations that face Sofia and her mom are endemic across Honduras, a country that remains in the grip of a rash of violence against women and girls. For some, the answer is simple and disruptive: They have to leave. When exhausted families, mothers toting babies and young women traveling alone arrive at the southern border of the United States, it’s not just gang violence or criminality in general that they’re fleeing […]

    Much more at the link.

  87. says

    Trump made up a quote, something that he claimed NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. Stoltenberg never said any such thing.

    First, some background on this weird category of lying in which Trump indulges:

    […] Trump told reporters that “some” of his presidential predecessors had told him they wish they’d built a wall along the United States’ southern border. It was, of course, an impossible claim to take seriously, which was made worse when each of the living former presidents issued statements debunking Trump’s claim.

    […] when Trump describes made-up conversations – something he does with alarming frequency – he needs to avoid references to real people who can expose his nonsense.

    […] he frequently quotes “anonymous validators”: mysterious unnamed people, whom the president swears exist, who we’re supposed to believe secretly tell Trump how right he is about the major issues of the day. […]

    And to bring us up to date, here’s Trump’s most recent gaffe:

    Occasionally, however, Trump forgets [to anonymize his source]: “Secretary Stoltenberg has been maybe Trump’s biggest fan, to be honest with you. He goes around – he made a speech the other day, he said, ‘Without Donald Trump maybe there would be no NATO.’”

    […] And as a Washington Post analysis noted, Trump “appears to have invented the quote out of thin air.”

    Stoltenberg appears to have said nothing of the sort. […] there is no record of him saying anything about Trump saving NATO.

    Asked about Trump’s claim, NATO declined to confirm it and instead referred to its online database of Stoltenberg’s speeches and news conferences. Neither the quote nor a close facsimile appears in any of the recent transcripts.

    Imagine that.

    The president frequently shares the details of conversations that only occurred in his mind. As unsettling as this is, once he starts sharing the details of speeches that are also imaginary, the larger problem is that much more alarming.

    Link

  88. says

    “Con man, crook, draft dodger, racist, ” those words and a lot more are terms that House Republicans want to ban from Trump-related hearings being held in Congress.

    You might be tempted to think what you are about to read is a joke, but I can assure you it is not. On Monday, June 10, the House Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the Mueller report. Ahead of that committee hearing, which is sure to dominate news coverage next week, Republican Rep. Doug Collins, a ranking member of the committee, has sent a letter to its chairman, Jerry Nadler, citing the manual of decorum, with a list of words he wants Chairman Nadler to ban members from using about Donald Trump during the hearing.

    It’s quite an incredible list, really. Rep. Collins has quite accurately nailed Trump’s character with these descriptors.

    Cowardly
    Infantile
    Bilking the taxpayer
    Delusional
    Hypocritical
    Liar
    Amoral
    Lining the pockets of his cronies
    Draft-dodger
    Crook
    Conman
    Engaged in illegal activity
    Crook
    Racist
    Bigot
    Misogynist
    Un-American
    Giving aid and comfort to the enemy
    Spying
    Abusing power
    Abusing Executive Privilege
    Demagogue
    Disrespected the office

    […] Collins may have House precedent and rules of decorum on his side, but as Politico reporter Kyle Cheney noted, these rules of decorum do not apply to impeachment hearings. If Democrats want to get specific and call out the alleged crimes and offenses committed by Donald Trump, they will have to open impeachment hearings on the cowardly, […] power-abusing demagogue who disrespects the office of the presidency every day he is in it.

    Link

  89. says

    Fall from grace? What the heck is going on with Aung San Suu Kyi?

    Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who was once lauded internationally for her efforts to bring democracy to Myanmar, made a rare trip to Europe this week.

    But her purpose this time wasn’t to champion human rights and democracy. It was to meet with far-right Hungarian autocrat Viktor Orbán to lament the “continuously growing Muslim populations” in both of their countries.

    “The two leaders highlighted that one of the greatest challenges at present for both countries and their respective regions — South East Asia and Europe — is migration,” read a statement released by the Hungarian government after the summit. “They noted that both regions have seen the emergence of the issue of coexistence with continuously growing Muslim populations.”

    That’s a chilling statement. Over the past two years, Suu Kyi has overseen the genocide of Myanmar’s Rohingya, a long-persecuted Muslim minority group. Hundreds of thousands have been killed or have fled their homes to escape the widespread crackdown.

    Orbán, meanwhile, has described migrants from the Middle East and central Asia who are fleeing violence and economic hardship as “Muslim invaders” and has taken dramatic measures to curtail the number of immigrants entering Hungary, including constructing a massive barbed-wire fence along the border with Serbia.

    In that context, the statement from the two leaders basically translates as: “We either want to keep Muslims away from us or kill them.” […]

    Link

  90. says

    From Dahlia Lithwick:

    […] here is the part that is striking: Warren absolutely came alive when she started taking questions from her audience. Explaining incredibly complex policy problems in a perfectly coherent way turns out to be Warren’s superpower.

    And while I went in dubious that Warren’s policy-minded campaign could ever compete with the charisma-driven, Father-Knows-Best performances of presidential candidates from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton, let alone the supercharged persona of Donald Trump, I realized that I was completely confused about the nature of political charisma itself.

    Two articles of faith must be addressed here: One is that watching and scoring and fighting about the Democratic primary this early in the season is silly and quite possibly futile, particularly considering the almost-hilarious number of candidates […].

    The other is that Warren has had a very good couple of weeks. Her polling numbers show her narrowing the gap behind Joe Biden and—perhaps more importantly—catching up with Bernie Sanders. Warren has been generating a constant stream of news, thanks to her capacity for releasing a detailed new policy initiative nearly every week and her willingness to, for instance, call Fox News “a hate-for-profit racket.”

    She took a strikingly strong stand on Trump and impeachment, linking him to the same systemwide corruption with which she had cudgeled Fox. And as one state after another passed abortion bans that were retrograde and cruel, Warren rolled out comprehensive abortion reforms that would bolster reproductive rights nationwide, even if Roe v. Wade were overturned by the Supreme Court.

    Warren is, in brief, almost painfully serious precisely because she is banking on public seriousness, running on the notion that bread and circus have had their day, and it is time now to save the republic. […]

    At the Fairfax campaign stop, Warren tells some thousand people who have shown up to hear her, a crowd visibly dominated by women, that her lifelong dream was to be a teacher—a dream she lived up to as a special education teacher and a law professor before becoming a United States senator and, now, a candidate for president. This is something some of the Warren think pieces tend to miss: Warren is an extraordinary educator. We misread her as a detached wonk when she’s actually a brilliant translator of complex ideas. Watching her on the stump, you come to realize that it’s not so much the fact that she knows a lot of technical and complicated things that truly excites her fans, it’s that she can explain them to you. […]

    People think Warren is a wonk because it’s apparent that she spends plenty of time elbow-deep in policy. But really, she’s the polar opposite of a wonk. She’s not a political ambassador of policy for policy’s sake. She’s a politician who is hoping to bridge the gap between policy arcana and citizens who keep falling behind. And every time she releases a new policy, millions of people learn something new about how government works. […]

  91. says

    “New subpoena for Roger Stone’s former aide offers glimpse at ongoing investigation”:

    A former aide to political operative Roger Stone has turned over to a grand jury all of his text messages with Stone from October 2016 to March 2017, as well as the written agenda for Stone while he was at the Republican National Convention in 2016.

    The aide, Andrew Miller, turned over the documents in response to a federal grand jury subpoena following his two-hour testimony last Friday before the body, according to communications between Miller’s lawyer and the government that were reviewed by POLITICO.

    The subpoena offers a glimpse into the government’s ongoing investigation of Stone, an informal Trump campaign adviser who was indicted in January on charges of lying to Congress and the FBI about his dealings with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a trial, set for November.

    Under Justice Department policy and court rulings, grand juries are not supposed to be used to investigate a criminal case that’s already been filed, although they can be used to add new charges or to charge new defendants.

    It’s still unclear what additional crimes D.C. prosecutors are investigating, however. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Miller testified before a new grand jury rather than the one convened by Mueller that Miller was initially fighting, and that he was held in contempt over….

  92. says

    Carole Cadwalladr: “In November 2017, @borisjohnson told parliament that there was ‘not a sausage’ of evidence of Russian interference in UK politics. I don’t think that’s true. Economical with the truth? A deliberate lie? My talk from @The_Convention_ earlier this week.”

    19-minute video at the link. The last minute is excellent. Paraphrasing: “The cavalry isn’t coming. The law won’t save us. We need to make a moral case and a political case against this.”

    I can’t get over how many investigations are apparently ongoing with no public actions or public information forthcoming.

  93. says

    Today in Justin Amash threads:

    …The White House’s reaction to Barr’s letter is also telling. Trump had long been harshly critical of Mueller and his investigation, calling him “totally conflicted” and “disgraced and discredited,” and the investigation “illegal” and a “rigged witch hunt.”

    When Barr’s letter came out, the White House abruptly changed its tone. Trump said “the Mueller report was great” and that Mueller had acted honorably, and he touted the report as a “total exoneration.” Kellyanne Conway referred to the investigation as “the gold standard.”

    But, as we later found out, Mueller’s report is damning for the president. If Barr’s letter had accurately reflected the report, the White House would not have reacted positively.

    And with Mueller’s report now out, the White House no longer has anything positive to say about Mueller and his team.

    The president and his allies are instead trying to excuse Trump’s efforts to obstruct the entire investigation into Russian election interference by alleging problems with elements of it and claiming, without basis, that they undermine Mueller’s obstruction analysis.

  94. says

    Neal Katyal re #137: “Rep. Amash nails it. His thread below should be read alongside Elizabeth Warren’s statement this week about the Mueller Report. Law truly can be separate from politics. There are right and wrong answers. Amash and Warren are providing them. Barr is not.”

  95. says

    So the new ruling re the Comey Memoranda is finally accessible and … whoa, the judge actually rejected Exemption 1 invocations for classified information. That’s not something you see often.

    The FBI tried to keep certain information in the Comey Memoranda redacted, claiming they were still classified. The judge just rejected that argument, saying the government had not met its legal burden to demonstrate the information still qualified for protection.”

  96. says

    Ari Berman: “Joining @chrislhayes tonight to discuss how GOP gerrymandering guru drew extreme racial gerrymander in NC & GOP lied about it to avoid special elections. This + smoking gun docs about census citizenship question show how democracy being undermined.”

  97. says

    The judge’s opinion @ #139 (linked at the link) is pretty fun so far: “…Understandably disappointed, CNN appealed. But before much could happen in that legal proceeding, outside circumstances intervened….”

  98. says

    My assumptions re redactions:

    1 – Kislyak
    2 – Kislyak
    3 – Kislyak
    4 – ambassador
    5 – Russia
    6 – ? (some country Trump’s casually insulting) [FBI doesn’t have to disclose]
    7 – ?

    Grasping at a final straw, the FBI redirects its fire at the Court, saying that its job is not to “second guess” the Agency’s opinion. See Def. Opp. & Reply at 7. Since the Bureau’s “classification authority has determined that release of these statements would impact our relations with other countries,” it says, that should be the end of the matter. Id. This is a bridge too far. What Defendant seems to be asking for here is more than deference; it wants acquiescence. Such an approach would relegate the Court to the role of the Bureau’s loyal sidekick, offering only affirmation of its decisions. That, plainly, is not how judicial review works…. Although the Court will not second-guess a plausible rationale articulating a line between withheld information and harm to foreign relations, it is the Bureau’s job to provide that line of reasoning. Without submitting a rationale that “afford[s]” the Court “an adequate foundation to review[] the soundness of the withholding,” the Government cannot prevail. See Campbell, 164 F.3d at 30 (citation omitted). It has not met this minimal burden here.

    20 – don’t know [FBI doesn’t have to disclose]
    21 – don’t know [FBI doesn’t have to disclose]
    22 – don’t know [will be disclosed]
    23 – don’t know [will be disclosed]
    24 – don’t know [FBI doesn’t have to disclose]

    The final tally is now in: the FBI has properly justified its invocation of Exemption 3 [protection of sources and methods – SC] for redactions 8 through 19 and Exemption 1 [national security – SC] for redactions 6, 20, 21, and 24. These may continue to be withheld. The others — namely, redactions 1 through 5, 7, 22, and 23 — must be released, as the FBI has only asserted the protection of Exemption 1 here, which it failed to substantiate.

    Overall, the breezy tone – “Not so fast, says the FBI” – coincides with a methodical and subtle analysis (in my view, though I haven’t read the underlying documents!).

  99. says

    New: DC Circuit orders release of additional documents in mystery foreign company’s Mueller grand jury fight /// ‘Most of the filings in this case have remained under seal. Until now.’

    DC Circuit won’t order public disclosure of the company’s identity /// ‘That request must be denied—at least for now’.”

    On top of the order to release more information on the Mystery Appellant fight, this order reveals that the GJ investigation remains ongoing.”

  100. says

    “Mystery company off the hook from Mueller subpoena and contempt of court charge”:

    The anonymous foreign-government-owned company that fought a subpoena in the special counsel investigation for months appears to be off the hook, while prosecutors continue to put significant resources into investigating what Robert Mueller pursued related to the company, according to newly unsealed court records.

    Federal judge Beryl Howell of the DC District Court stopped fining the company in February, when it turned almost 1,000 pages of documents over to Mueller.

    The court fight dragged on from February into April, however, because Mueller’s team and other prosecutors believed the company had kept records from them, according to the newly unsealed information.

    She finally deciding the company was no longer in contempt on April 17.

    Howell previously ordered that the company should be fined $50,000 a day beginning January 15 for refusing to comply with Mueller’s subpoena from last year. It’s unclear from the newly released court record how much, if anything at all, the company paid in fines.

    Much of the mystery around the case remains.

    The company’s name, the country that owns it and its area of business is still unknown.

    But one reference the company made raises the possibility it could involve a foreign country’s central bank.

    Many of the documents released by the court Friday have extensive redactions — with entire pages blocked out in some of the records.

    Yet prosecutors revealed that the information it needed from the company is part of an investigation that started before Mueller and continues on.

    The investigation “is very much a live issue that requires, I think, a great deal of resources, time, and attention by the Government, which is why we believe the subpoena is in fact still a live controversy that requires contempt because it goes to the core of the question of this investigation,” prosecutor Zia Faruqui said at a sealed hearing in late March, before Howell decided to end the dispute, according to the new records.

    When Mueller ended his work, he transferred the investigation to the DC US Attorney’s Office, where Faruqui works.

    Agents continued to work on it with a plan to “go forward with our investigative steps,” Faruqui said. “We are in constant communication with the special counsel’s office.”

    Faruqui also called the Mueller investigation a “separate focused matter.”

    The issues in the investigation, Faruqui said in March, “have not [been – SC] nor are in any way close to being resolved.”

  101. says

    Looking at it again, my guesses for the first set of redactions would be:

    1 – Vladimir Putin
    2 – Putin
    3 – Putin
    4 – president
    5 – Russia
    6 – ? (some country Trump’s casually insulting) [FBI doesn’t have to disclose]
    7 – ? likely Putin

  102. says

    Trump tweeted: “MEXICO HAS AGREED TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCT FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT FARMERS!”

    Already, it’s been noted that:

    There is nothing in the joint declaration about any kind of commitment from Mexico, the 2nd largest market for US ag products, to buy more from American farmers…”

    and

    America’s agricultural exports to Mexico already total $18 billion. He’s like a rooster taking credit for sunrise.”

  103. says

    ‘Tommy Robinson’ is a racist violent thug and a convicted fraudster, here proving for the millionth time what a vile little man he is. But say it: he wouldn’t have won his influence without the complicity of much of the media.”

    “Tommy Robinson filmed punching man outside England match”:

    The anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson has been filmed punching an England fan to the ground outside a football stadium in Portugal.

    Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, can be seen walking purposefully toward the man before striking him in the head.

    Footage shows the man falling to the floor as Robinson shouts: “Fuck about again you’ll get knocked out again, bruv.”

    The video appears to have been filmed outside the Estádio D Afonso Henriques in Guimarães, where England lost 3-1 to the Netherlands in a Uefa Nations League semi-final match on Thursday night.

    The incident took place little more than a week after the English Defence League founder’s humiliating defeat in the European elections.

    Deputy chief constable Mark Roberts, the lead for football policing on the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: “We have been informed of an incident outside the Guimarães stadium last night and the footage has been passed to our counterparts in Portugal for further investigation.

    “As with all the disorder that has taken place in Portugal over the past few days, anyone found to be involved in disorder could be subject to a banning order on their return to the UK.”

    In a message to his supporters on Friday, Robinson showed no remorse….

  104. says

    Update to #s 112 and 135 – thread from Alexey Kovalev: “Okay, listen up. This is not a drill. Ivan Golunov, my colleague at @meduzaproject, one of the best investigative reporters in the industry, was arrested yesterday after leaving work (I was with him before he left). He is now awaiting formal charges at a remand prison in Moscow….”

    “Russian journalist Ivan Golunov ‘beaten by police in custody'”:

    A Russian investigative journalist arrested on controversial drug charges has been severely beaten in custody, his lawyer has said.

    A doctor who inspected Ivan Golunov said he may have suffered broken ribs, concussion and a haematoma.

    Golunov, a reporter for the independent Meduza news website, was arrested on drug charges on Friday. Colleagues and friends believe he is being targeted for his work on state corruption and business interests.

    Two separate teams of doctors suggested Golunov be taken to hospital for x-rays but police investigators refused. The injuries were sustained while Golunov was in custody, his lawyer Dmitri Dzhulai confirmed by text message.

    Golunov was later taken to a Moscow hospital, several Russian outlets reported. He had earlier complained police punched and kicked him about the head and chest because he refused to sign a police report before he had access to a lawyer.

    Police have also tried to limit the public flow of information about the case, demanding that Golunov’s lawyers sign non-disclosure agreements. They have refused.

    Golunov has investigated family members of a Moscow deputy mayor who amassed a fortune in real estate, predatory lenders who purchased apartments in Moscow, plans to ship Moscow’s waste to the regions, and the efforts of a senior official’s son to corner Russia’s funeral market.

    He had been receiving threats before his arrest, his editors said….

  105. KG says

    Michael Gove has become the latest (at least the fourth) Tory leadership contender to admit to youthful “drug-taking” (where of course “drug” excludes alcohol, tobacoo, caffeine and prescription drugs). Actually in Gove’s case not so youthful – he was a journalist at the time, not a student – and the drug was cocaine, a “class A” drug in the UK, for which the maximum snetence for possession alone is 7 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine. Two of the other four indulged abroad, while Dominic Raab has admitted to smoking cannabis as a student. Presumably Gove’s trying to get this out of the way early (a report that he’d done cocaine was already in the public domain), but some commentators think it could affect his chances. What gets me is that, AFAIK, none of these Tory druggies have supported decriminalisation, or recognised that even if they had been caught and convicted, they would have been unlikely to suffer the same consequences as an unemployed black kid from a poor area.

  106. says

    SC @157, yeah. I couldn’t help but notice that Trump created, (or at the very least, greatly exacerbated), a problem … then he pretended to bully everyone … then he claimed he had solved the problem.

    Of course, all the problems still exist.

  107. says

    Rachel Maddow presented a segment in which she reported on the past and present unethical behavior of Randall Williams, “the Missouri state health official who decided that women seeking a legal abortion from the state’s last clinic offering abortion services must first submit to a vaginally invasive, medically unnecessary pelvic exam.”

    As it turns out Randall Williams is a an unethical, misogynist, Republican hit-man for hire … a guy who improperly rescinded a “don’t drink the water” order in one state (a favor he did for the coal industry), and when he got caught approving the “cancer water,” just moved on to another state where he ordered invasive pelvic exams for women who didn’t need them.

    The video is 12:44 minutes long. Duke Energy (the coal company) is shown to be a bad actor.

  108. says

    A telling detail from the Trump family trip to the UK: Eric and Don Junior left an Irish pub without paying their bill, allegedly.

    ”They thanked everyone for their support and for coming out to meet them and said there was a drink for everyone in the house and it was their small gesture.”

    Unfortunately, when it came time to footing the bill, things hit a slight snag with neither of the brothers carrying any cash.

    Kennedy [Irish pub owner] isn’t worried though, having been assured the hefty bar bill would be paid for.

    “I don’t think we’ve to worry about getting paid for that,” she said.

    “I don’t think they carry cash. We were told it’d be all sorted later so there’s no problem.”

  109. says

    From Chuck Schumer’s response to Trump’s farce regarding tariffs on goods coming in from Mexico:

    This is an historic night!@realDonaldTrump has announced that he has cut a deal to “greatly reduce, or eliminate, Illegal Immigration coming from Mexico and into the United States.”

    Now that that problem is solved, I’m sure we won’t be hearing any more about it in the future.

    Sarcasm much?

  110. says

    From The Washington Post’s editorial board:

    Mexico has defused […] Trump’s latest fit of pique with minimal concessions, which is appropriate. Mexico did not cause the surge of immigrants from Central America to the United States, and it is not well positioned to solve the problem. Better tools are at hand for the U.S. president and Congress, if they would only decide to wield them.

    Mr. Trump had threatened to impose tariffs on imports from Mexico if it did not take drastic steps to cut the flow. […] late Friday, he suspended the threat. Mexico agreed to deploy troops from its National Guard on its southern border and to allow more asylum seekers to live in Mexico while they await U.S. adjudication of their claims. About 9,000 are there now, and the program could be expanded if the migrants are able to live safely and work.

    Mexico did not commit to any specific reduction of migrants, and it did not accept the top U.S. demand: that Mexico force Central Americans to apply for asylum in Mexico instead of the United States. The two countries also agreed to help build “a more prosperous and secure Central America to address the underlying causes of migration.”

    […] Central Americans are coming north because poverty and crime have made life unbearable. In another fit of pique two months ago, Mr. Trump took the wildly counterproductive step of cutting off aid to El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. A recommitment to help those countries would be the single most useful measure the administration could take.

    There are steps the United States could take at home also. […] They [migrants] claim asylum; a swamped court system postpones their case for years; the government does not have the facilities or the legal right to hold them; so they are “paroled” into the United States for an extended period.

    […] Congress should approve funding to hire more judges and to hold families in decent conditions for short periods.

    The more durable fix would be to allow for the legal flow of immigrants that the economy needs, including legal status for “dreamers” —[…] impose real penalties on employers who hire undocumented workers. Mr. Trump could achieve such a reform if he ceased inflaming the issue for electoral advantage, vilifying immigrants as “criminals” and “invaders.”

    Given how unlikely that is, Congress should consider playing a constructive role. In a rare display of independent judgment this week, GOP senators strengthened Mexico’s negotiating stance, and thus helped defuse the kerfuffle, by coming out strongly against Mr. Trump’s proposed tariffs. They could build on the moment by working with Democrats to strengthen the border regime while bringing dreamers out of the shadows.

  111. says

    From Adam Gopnik, writing for The New Yorker:

    […] The grotesque spectacle of Donald Trump in London this week seems, far from disquieting the Europeans, to have left them largely indifferent; they’ve mostly accepted the absence of an American model. […]

    Nevertheless, Trump’s assault not on the mere norms but on the very principles and practices of liberal democracy remains frightening, the only thing more alarming being the ease with which his actions have been normalized and treated as eccentricities rather than the affronts to liberal democratic values that, for all their seeming triviality, they are.

    Principles are built out of many bricks; even the loss of one weakens the whole.

    […] in Portsmouth, on Wednesday, when participating in the ritual salutes to D Day, attended by a small remnant of the event’s survivors, Trump seemed reduced to a parody of a democratic leader, as he stiffly read from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s D Day prayer.

    The gaffes, or stolen bricks, included insults to various British leaders (and a royal), false statements about trade, Brexit, and Ireland, and then all that time spent insulting Bette Midler, who had misattributed a quote to him.

    The buffoonery even extended to the ill-fitting white-tie suit he donned for the state banquet, which made him look like a waiter in a silent comedy. Should one criticize a man for badly fitting clothes? Perhaps not, but to be that indifferent to how we look is to be unaware of how others see us. […]

  112. KG says

    Michael Gove appears to have dished his candidacy to be PM by admitting to cocaine use. It appears I was wrong to say he hadn’t noted that the effect of drug-taking differed among those of different social strata, but I don’t know exactly what he said (I can’t read his article because I’d have to register with a Murdoch publication to do so).

  113. says

    Starting tomorrow, I won’t be able to post comments on this thread for a few days. I’ll be focusing on another project. I’ll be absent Monday through Thursday.

    Carry on.

  114. says

    From George Conway:

    You’re not “presidential” at all, period. You’re mentally unwell. You engage in bizarre, irrational, self-defeating behavior, which prompts criticism of you, which triggers more bizarre, irrational, self-defeating behavior. You would have been fired from any other job by now.

    Do yourself and the country a favor. Resign and seek the psychological treatment you so obviously need.

    Conway’s tweet was in response to this missive from Trump:

    I know it is not at all “Presidential” to hit back at the Corrupt Media, or people who work for the Corrupt Media, when they make false statements about me or the Trump Administration. Problem is, if you don’t hit back, people believe the Fake News is true. So we’ll hit back!

  115. says

    Reminder: the House Judiciary hearing “Lessons from the Mueller Report: Presidential Obstruction and Other Crimes” is today at 2 PM ET and will be on C-SPAN3.

    “Former White House Counsel John Dean as well as former U.S. attorneys and legal experts testify about lessons learned from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report.”

  116. blf says

    KG@165, No idea here what Gove said / did, but I knew it must be fairly serious as soon as I spotted Simon Jenkins’s opinion piece in the Grauniad. Jenkins — the Grauniad’s resident arsehole and living Dunning–Kruger example — whatever he position he takes it’s wrong (rather like Gove, in fact)† — apparently claims whatever Gove did it should not bar Gove from being another unelected PM.

      † I’m unsure if the “stuck clock” exception — sometimes correct-ish in the same way a stuck clock is sometimes correct — applies to either Gove or Jenkins. Both are so remarkably obvious ludicrously wrong, and at least in Gove’s case, also deliberately lying, so often, and so oblivious to criticism, they could probably teach hair furor a trick-or-two… fortunately, neither works for faux or hair furor’s other source(s? if any!) of “information”…

  117. blf says

    Greece: Athens mosque likely to open by September, official says:

    Greek capital’s first formal mosque in more than 180 years is set to open for prayer within months.

    Greece’s education and religion minister says the country’s long-delayed first state-sponsored mosque is likely to begin operating in September, about three years after its construction was approved by Parliament.

    Kostas Gavroglou spoke on Friday during a visit to the nearly complete mosque on the outskirts of the Athens city centre, accompanied by representatives of the Muslim community. Its construction has been controversial […]

    The $967,000 construction project has none of the ornate grace typical of Islamic places of worship. But for the Muslims of Athens, it is the result of a long-fought battle — and the city’s first formal mosque in more than 180 years.

    Tens of thousands of Muslim migrants live in the greater Athens area, and have been using informal prayer rooms in basements and disused stores.

    […]

    Athens is the only European capital without an official mosque.

    The project began in 2007 amid strong opposition from the influential Orthodox Church of Greece and nationalist sentiment against neighbouring Muslim Turkey.

    […]

    There have been several laws passed on creating an official mosque in Athens since 1890.

    There are an estimated 300,000 Muslims in the greater Athens area.

    Mosques in Greece were repurposed or demolished following the 1821 war of independence from the Ottoman Empire.

    […]

    I hadn’t realised Athens — and apparently much of Greece — didn’t have any mosques.

  118. says

    “How and Why The Intercept Is Reporting on a Vast Trove of Materials About Brazil’s Operation Car Wash and Justice Minister Sergio Moro.”

    Part 2: “An enormous trove of secret documents reveals that Brazil’s most powerful prosecutors, who have spent years insisting they are apolitical, instead plotted to prevent the Workers’ Party (PT) from winning the 2018 presidential election by blocking or weakening a pre-election interview with former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva with the explicit purpose of affecting the outcome of the election.”

    Part 3: “A large trove of documents furnished exclusively to The Intercept Brasil reveals serious ethical violations and legally prohibited collaboration between the judge and prosecutors who last year convicted and imprisoned former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on corruption charges — a conviction that resulted in Lula being barred from the 2018 presidential election. These materials also contain evidence that the prosecution had serious doubts about whether there was sufficient evidence to establish Lula’s guilt.”

    “This is merely the beginning of what we intend to be an ongoing journalistic investigation, using this massive archive of material, into the Car Wash corruption probe; Moro’s actions when he was a judge and those of the prosecutor Dallagnol; and the conduct of numerous individuals who continue to wield great political and economic power both inside Brazil and in other countries.”

  119. blf says

    Palestine considers ICC complaint against US envoy Friedman:

    Move comes after US ambassador to Israel David Friedman says Israel has right to annex some of occupied West Bank.

    The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates is considering filing a complaint against the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his recent comments on the long-awaited US peace plan.

    Friedman, a staunch supporter of Israeli settlements, said Israel has the right to annex at least some of the occupied West Bank in an interview published by the New York Times on Saturday.

    Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank, he said.

    In a press statement on Sunday, the ministry condemned Friedman’s remarks, describing him as “a threat to regional peace and security” and his words as “an extension of the policy of the US administration, which is fully biased towards the occupation and its expansionist colonial policies”.

    “What reasoning could justify Friedman’s logic that Israel has the right to annex parts of the West Bank? International law prohibits the annexation of a land by force, as well as a reality imposed by occupying powers,” the ministry said in a statement.

    […]

    During campaigning for the first general election in April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to annex illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, a move long supported by nearly all legislators in his alliance of right-wing and religious parties.

    In February this year, Netanyahu told legislators he had been discussing with Washington a plan that would effectively annex illegal settlements.

    In a rare public show of disunity between the close allies, the White House then flatly denied any such discussion.

    It’s hard too say what really happened here. It’s possible the statements about illegal annexation came to the attention of someone would could actually think, or that Israel didn’t pay enough in bribes, or was out-bid by someone else(? a fair amount of “support” for the Palestinians in the authoritarian-dominated arabian world is window-dressing, if not actually fake), or Putin sent orders, or…

    Following the persistent expansion of the settlements by successive Netanyahu governments, more than 600,000 Jewish settlers now live in the West Bank, including annexed East Jerusalem, among some three million Palestinians.

    The international community regards the settlements as illegal and the biggest obstacle to peace.

    A filing with the ICC would merely be symbolic, as the States (along with Israel and several other usual suspects) does not recognise its authority. (President Clinton did sign the treaty but refused to submit it to the Senate, Bush ][ withdrew the signature, and President Obama resumed relations / cooperation albeit not(?) legally-binding. I have no idea if hair furor and his dalekocrazy even know the ICC exists.)

  120. says

    I have no idea if hair furor and his dalekocrazy even know the ICC exists.

    Unfortunately, they do. From March: “The United States will repeal or deny visas to International Criminal Court staff seeking to investigate Americans in Afghanistan or elsewhere and may take similar action to protect Israelis or other allied forces from prosecution, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday.”

  121. says

    NEWS: Nadler announces they’ve reached a deal with DOJ to obtain ‘key evidence’ on from Mueller’s files on obstruction of justice.

    But an aide tells me tomorrow’s CIVIL contempt vote on the House floor is still on.”

    So criminal contempt vote off, but civil contempt vote still on as of now.

  122. says

    “French Reports: Trump-Macron ‘Friendship’ Tree Dies”:

    A tree gifted by French President Emmanuel Macron to President Donald Trump as a symbol of the “ties” that bind them has died, according to French daily newspaper Le Monde and Agence France-Presse.

    Though much fanfare was made over the Macrons and the Trumps shoveling dirt onto the oak sapling, it was soon removed to be put in “quarantine” which then-French Ambassador Gérard Araud said is standard for plants brought into the U.S.

    The tree was reportedly never planted and died in quarantine….

  123. blf says

    And continuing on with French plants (see SC@180), 900-year-old grape pips reveal unbroken history of French wine variety:

    DNA testing shows 900-year-old savagnin blanc vines identical to modern plants

    […]

    Grapevines are often grown from cuttings of existing plants or by techniques such as grafting, rather than being planted from seeds, since this offers far greater consistency when it comes to the grapes.

    That has led some to suggest that certain varieties might have remained essentially unchanged across two millennia since the Roman boom in wine production in the Mediterranean. Grapes were first domesticated more than 6,000 years ago in south-western Asia.

    The latest research suggests that might not be too far-fetched. Scientists say they have discovered vines producing savagnin blanc grapes today are genetically identical to vines grown in Orléans 900 years ago.

    “It tells us a lot about the ingenuity of winemakers, so they have been using similar techniques for hundreds of years and they have been keeping alive certain vines that consumers really like,” said Dr Nathan Wales, a co-author of the research from the University of York.

    [… W]hether the ancient wine would have tasted the same as today’s is another matter; as Wales points out, factors including terroir and processing techniques also affect the flavour.

    I’m rather surprised by this, since essentially all vineyards in France where replanted with vines, supposedly mostly from California, during the phylloxera blight in the 19th C. (The phylloxera is thought to have come from N.America, hence the replanting with N.American vines, which were much more resistant than the European vines.) I would have guessed the “Reconstitution” would have left some alterations in the DNA? Obviously, there is more going on here than I understand, and it’s quite possible my (admittedly mostly-folk) “understanding” of the blight is more defective than usual.

  124. blf says

    The Grauniad snarks illicit drug taking by the nasty party’s candidates to be unelected PM of teh NKofE, The great Tory drug off shows they are delusional — from Gove to Andrea the ganja queen:

    […]
    ‘Reality is just a crutch for people who can’t handle drugs.” This quote — attributed variously to Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits and Robin Williams — heaves into view as we enter the shebeen of hell that is the Tory leadership contest. Reality may be glimpsed at the edge of our peripheral vision, but it disappears as soon as any of them start to explain their hallucinatory view of Brexit. Witness, my friends, the effects of mass doping.

    Whoever wins is promising they will make the EU suddenly bend over, lay down the law in Ireland (which always works well) and give rich people free money.

    Given that none of these people seem able to negotiate even a basic drug deal, I am not hopeful. The drugs they are so terribly apologetic about taking appear not to have worked at all. From what they have all said, not one iota of joy arose. Rory Stewart walked off his opium hit. Ganja queen Andrea Leadsom feels absolutely terrible about it all. For Boris Johnson, cocaine had no effect whatsoever — to the extent that what he took could just have been icing sugar. Yeah, right. And Michael Gove, who took cocaine more than once, is now squirming with class A hypocrisy, having never shown the tiniest bit of empathy for mere mortals who have similarly sinned.

    “Class A” is teh NKofE’s designation for illicit drugs which are considered the most dangerous / harmful, supposedly with no medical or other legit uses, and hence have the strongest penalties. “Class A hypocrisy…” — nice snark!

    [… the absurdity of the current “war on drugs”…]

    Sadly, these would-be Tory leaders are offering totally delusional policies anyway. They are completely off their heads — and drugs have nothing to do with it.

  125. blf says

    Saudi teenager could face execution for joining protests as child:

    […]
    A young Saudi man, arrested when he was 13, could face execution for taking part in Shia-led protests as a child, Amnesty International has said.

    Murtaja Qureiris, now 18, is on trial for charges that include joining a terror group and sowing sedition, according to the rights group. He was detained in September 2014 and held in solitary confinement for part of the time since.

    As is typical with cases involving national security, Saudi Arabia has not commented nor made public details of the case.

    […]

    Qureiris is being charged with offences that involve taking part in protests when he was as young as 10. Another charge relates to his participation at the age of 11 in an anti-government rally that erupted at the funeral of his older brother, who was killed while protesting in 2011 during the height of Arab spring revolts that broke out in other parts of the Middle East.

    […]

    In recent years, as tensions with Shia-led Iran have intensified, the government under King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has also intensified a crackdown on government critics, particularly Saudi Shias.

    Since 2014, more than 100 Saudi Shias have been tried before Saudi Arabia’s anti-terrorism court on vague and wide-ranging charges arising from their opposition to the government, according to Amnesty International. In 2016, the kingdom’s highest-profile Shia cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, was executed […]

    […]

    CNN said Qureiris, whose father and brother are detained, has denied the charges, and activists say his confessions were obtained under duress.

    That last bit, about confessions, is very plausible, but also has me a bit confused: Nothing about confessions, under duress or otherwise, was mentioned anyplace else in the article (I have not checked CNN’s original story nor Amensty’s report).

    Al Jazeera fills in some of the missing detail, Amnesty urges Saudi Arabia to rule out death penalty for teenager:

    […]
    Amnesty said following his arrest, Qureiris was locked up at a juvenile detention centre in the eastern city of Dammam and denied access to a lawyer until his first court session in August 2018.

    Upon his arrest, Qureiris “was held in solitary confinement for a month, and subjected to beatings and intimidation during his interrogation”, according to Amnesty. “His interrogators promised to release him if he confessed to charges against him.”

    […]

    Commenting on the case, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East research director, said: “It is appalling that Murtaja Qureiris is facing execution for offences that include taking part in protests while he was just ten years old.

    “The Saudi Arabian authorities have a chilling track record of using the death penalty as a weapon to crush political dissent and punish anti-government protesters — including children — from the country’s persecuted Shia minority.

    “There should be no doubt that the Saudi Arabian authorities are ready to go to any length to crack down on dissent against their own citizens, including by resorting to the death penalty for men who were merely boys at the time of their arrest,” Maalouf added.

    […]

    According to a count based on official data released by the official SPA news agency, at least 100 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia since the beginning of the year.

    The oil-rich Gulf state is ranked among the top five executioners in the world, and according to Amnesty International carried out the death sentences of 149 people last year.

  126. blf says

    Followup-up to @112, @135, @154, @168, and @181 (all by SC), Kremlin says mistakes may have been made over arrest of journalist:

    […]
    The Kremlin has admitted mistakes may have been made by police during the arrest of Ivan Golunov, an investigative journalist, on controversial drug-dealing charges, as calls for his release grew louder.

    “Mistakes can never be ruled out,” said Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman. “The important thing is to recognise mistakes so that they aren’t repeated. Some issues need clarification.”

    Police initially published a number of photographs they said showed a drugs lab at Golunov’s rented flat in Moscow. They were later removed from the interior ministry’s website after police officials admitted the photographs had been taken at a different location and had no relation to the charges against the journalist. A small mix-up occurred, a police spokesperson said.

    […]

    Kommersant, RBK and Vedomosti, the country’s most respected papers, ran covers that read “I/We are Ivan Golunov”. They also published joint editorials calling for a transparent investigation into the allegations against Golunov […] who is under house arrest.

    All three of the papers have previously come under pressure from authorities and faced attempts to censor their reporting. Kommersant’s entire political desk resigned last month in solidarity with two veteran journalists who were dismissed after writing a story about a possible government shakeup.

    […]

    The Russian health ministry’s leading drugs specialist, Yevgeny Bryun, told state TV on Sunday that no traces of drugs had been found in a urine sample provided by Golunov.

    Pavel Chikov, the head of the lawyers’ association Agora, which represents Golunov, published results of tests the journalist has taken to prove his innocence. He said the tests indicated it was unlikely Golunov regularly handles drugs, as police have suggested.

    Even journalists employed by state-run media have been speaking out in defence of Golunov, with dozens signing an open letter calling for the charges against him to be dropped.

    […]

    Golunov was beaten and kept in custody for 12 hours without a lawyer after he was stopped by police in Moscow on Thursday on suspicion of drug dealing. He was transferred to house arrest on Saturday.

    Friends and colleagues of Golunov’s vowed to keep up the pressure on the government.

    […]

    [Golunov] has investigated state corruption and illicit business practices and was reporting on a scheme to corner the market in funeral services before his arrest. He had been receiving threats before he was taken into custody.

    […]

  127. blf says

    First Dog on the Moon in the Grauniad, The new Assistant Environment Minister and the depraved greenists blah blah do they ever shut up? (cartoon): “The new minister doesn’t read reports like everyone else in government”. The last panel, Apparently the oceans are becoming ‘anoxic’ which means all the fish will suffocate because there is no oxgyen — er, hello?! They’re fish! They’re underwater, if they needed oxygen they would have drowned by now.
    These people must think we are so stupid.

  128. blf says

    Prague memorial to Jewish children who fled Nazis vandalised:

    A memorial honouring the escape of mostly Jewish children from the Nazis, organised by Sir Nicholas Winton, has been damaged in an apparently carefully-planned attack.

    The Valediction Memorial at Prague’s main railway station — representing trains used to transport 669 children from the Czech capital to Britain — was left with a long crack across the length of a symbolic window pane.

    The vandalism appeared to be aimed at disfiguring the shrine’s most evocative feature, a train window engraved with hand prints depicting adults and children forced to bid farewell in heartbreaking circumstances.

    Jan Hunat, a Czech engraver who designed the engraved glass, said he believed it was struck from behind with a hammer after being carefully dislodged from its wooden frame with a chisel or screwdriver.

    “One hundred per cent this was planned,” he told the Guardian. “The person who did this has definitely gone prepared to do it. The glass is 18mm thick and there’s no way it could have been broken otherwise. On one of the hands even the tips of the fingers are broken.”

    […]

  129. says

    Full report on #178 above – “House delays legal action against Barr as Dems secure ‘key’ Mueller evidence”:

    House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said on Monday that he has decided to postpone legal action against the Justice Department for access to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s files.

    Nadler (D-N.Y.) ascribed his decision to an unspecified agreement with the Justice Department to begin providing “key evidence” that Mueller gathered in his investigation into whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice offenses.

    “If the department proceeds in good faith and we are able to obtain everything that we need, then there will be no need to take further steps,” Nadler said in a statement. “If important information is held back, then we will have no choice but to enforce our subpoena in court and consider other remedies.”

    A Tuesday vote on the House floor authorizing the Judiciary Committee to hold Attorney General William Barr in civil contempt — enabling them to sue him for failing to provide documents demanded by the committee’s subpoena — is still scheduled, an aide confirmed. The Justice Department defied the committee’s subpoena for the full Mueller report and all of its underlying evidence, prompting the panel to hold Barr in contempt last month.

    Tuesday’s vote will allow Nadler and other committee chairs to enforce existing or future subpoenas in federal court without requiring a full House vote for each one. But Nadler’s statement on Monday indicated that he will hold off on immediately going to court.

    Nadler said the Justice Department will share the first batch of documents with the committee later Monday, adding that all members of the panel will be able to view them. It is unclear whether the agreement between House Democrats and the Justice Department allows those documents to become public.

    It was also unclear which specific documents the committee secured….

    This is a (possibly partial) list of the documents Barr has agreed, in theory, to turn over.

  130. blf says

    In teh NKofE, teh dear lame duck lino’s hostile environment policy of the Home Office is well alive and kicking, prolonging the Windrush scandal, Windrush row: only 13 victims given emergency support:

    […]
    Only 13 Windrush victims had been granted emergency support by the government by the end of April, it has emerged, a year after the government apologised for its “appalling” mistake in classifying thousands of legal UK residents as illegal immigrants.

    Many of those affected were pushed into destitution because of the combined effect of being forced out of their jobs, and being told they were ineligible for benefits and healthcare.

    With some facing eviction and visits from bailiffs, the government agreed to launch a hardship fund at the end of last year, but by the end of April, 91 people had applied for help and only 13 had received support.

    […]

    The Home Office has scrutinised the consequences of its hostile environment data-sharing programme, and acknowledged that officials repeatedly tipped off other government departments, wrongly informing them that Windrush generation people were in the UK illegally.

    As a result a number of people lost their benefits or driving licences, and letters were sent to their employers advising them to conduct a right to work check. […]

    […]

    The Labour MP Helen Hayes said community groups in her constituency had described problems with the scheme. “The form is too complex, advice is neither accessible nor specialist enough, and the burden of proof is far too high,” she told ministers at Home Office questions in parliament.

    Calling for a review of the system, she said the government must “provide immediate funding for specialist legal advice to be available not just by phone but in person for every Windrush citizen who needs it”.

    The immigration minister, Caroline Nokes, admitted at 18 pages the application was quite long, but said Citizens Advice had been contracted to help individuals make a claim. The Home Office would not say whether any compensation payments have so far been made.

    My copy of the NKofE ‘government’ Comment Decoder Encyclopedia says that, in this context, the refusal to comment probably means “The dog ate the forms. That isn’t important, since they are just a bunch of brown and black undesirables, which unfortunately we cannot sell anymore, so we’re still trying to figure out how to get rid of them.”

  131. says

    A lot of corruption news today:

    BREAKING Homeland Security watchdog retires after @washingtonpost revealed he had to retract ‘feel-good’ audits that covered up FEMA’s poor handling of disasters.”

    “Chao created special path for McConnell’s favored projects”: “The Transportation Department under Secretary Elaine Chao designated a special liaison to help with grant applications and other priorities from her husband Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky, paving the way for grants totaling at least $78 million for favored projects as McConnell prepared to campaign for reelection.”

    “Company part-owned by Jared Kushner got $90m from unknown offshore investors since 2017”: “A real estate company part-owned by Jared Kushner has received $90m in foreign funding from an opaque offshore vehicle since he entered the White House as a senior adviser to his father-in-law Donald Trump.”

  132. blf says

    Israeli ‘21st-century mercenaries’ spied for DR Congo’s Kabila, report says (France24 — or as they spell it in this excerpt, FRANCE 24 — edits in {curly braces}):

    An investigative report by Israeli TV programme Uvda claimed on Thursday that Israeli private intelligence agency Black Cube was hired by DR Congo’s then-president Joseph Kabila to spy on his opponents.

    In late 2015, Black Cube’s director Dan Zorella met Joseph Kabila in the first of several meetings that gave birth to Operation Coltan, a project to gather intelligence on the then-president’s many detractors, Uvda reported.

    “Kabila wanted to know everything that was going on at opposition meetings,” an anonymous former Black Cube employee told Uvda. “He wanted to know who was there and who criticised him. He wanted to know if any of his relatives betrayed him in those meetings […]”

    As part of Operation Coltan, Black Cube […] even went so far as to make an entire floor of a Kinshasa hotel the headquarters of their unofficial intelligence operations.

    In response to these allegations, Black Cube filed a defamation lawsuit in a British court against Uvda and its journalist Ilana Dayan, demanding £15 million (€16.8 million) in damages.

    For their part, several Congolese opposition figures responded with outrage to the Uvda report. “It’s outrageous,” said Eve Bazaiba, general secretary of the opposition Movement for the Liberation of the Congo (MLC), as quoted by FRANCE 24’s sister radio service RFI. “During all this time {Joseph Kabila} has been concerned with keeping his regime in power instead of worrying about his people’s concerns,” she continued.

    […]

    “In Israel we now have a lot of twenty-first century mercenaries, as it were,” Yossi Mekelberg, an Israel specialist at Chatham House think-tank and Regent’s University London, contextualised it in an interview with FRANCE 24.

    “The country’s technology sector is growing rapidly and many of the people who are building it come from a military background,” he continued. “When they leave military service, they look to make money from this technology — and they have many opportunities to do so […]”.

    This is not the first time Black Cube has been accused of nefarious actions. In May 2018, The New Yorker reported that the Israeli private intelligence firm used fake identities to collect information on former Obama administration officials in a bid to discredit the Iran nuclear deal. In November 2017, the same magazine reported that Black Cube was hired by disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein in an attempt to prevent the publication of abuse allegations.

  133. blf says

    After China, will Romania become Europe’s rubbish dump? (video): “Until recently, China received eight million tonnes of plastic waste a year, much of it from western European countries. But Beijing has stopped accepting most used plastics. Experts believe a lot of that waste may now be sent to Eastern Europe. In Romania, the law on incineration allows all sorts of different types of rubbish — such as tyres, oils and plastics — to be burned. Locals there are already dealing with the alarming consequences. […]”

  134. blf says

    They were born in Colombia. Their parents fled Venezuela. They are citizens of nowhere:

    In the fall of 2017, as Venezuela was imploding, state intelligence agents came looking for Belys Torrealba Tovar, who had helped recruit young people to protest against the government of Nicolas Maduro. She went into hiding for two weeks, then fled to neighboring Colombia.

    A year and a half later, she gave birth to a boy at a hospital in south Bogota.

    […]

    Now just over a month old, he is stateless, a citizen of nowhere.

    Unlike the United States and most countries in Latin America, Colombia does not automatically grant citizenship to anybody born there. And though he does qualify for Venezuelan citizenship, claiming it would require his mother to return to the country or pay a visit to one of its embassies or consulates. There are no longer any in Colombia.

    […]

    Thousands of children are in the same situation amid one of the largest forced displacements in modern history, as an estimated 5,000 people flee Venezuela each day. Nearly 4 million have already left, more than a quarter of them to Colombia, which offers them temporary visas.

    Colombia’s civil registry agency counts nearly 3,400 children born to Venezuelan parents since October 2017, when the government started tracking them. Advocates say the total could be as high as 25,000.

    Children born without Colombian citizenship are allowed to enroll in school and the public healthcare system. […]

    […]

    Sen Andres Garcia Zuccardi, who authored two other bills aiming to provide Venezuelans with Colombian citizenship, said his greatest concern is that thousands of children could grow up without access to higher education, healthcare or formal work.

    “This situation not only means the violation of fundamental rights,” he said, “but it also affects the social, economic and future dynamics of a country that could be built with a significant number of people without legal status and without opportunities.”

    […]

  135. blf says

    Tokyo 2020: U-turn as hotels agree to wheelchair rooms for Paralympics:

    Promise by Japan that rooms will stay accessible as Paralympics legacy follows Guardian revelation that hotels wanted payment for conversions

    The Japanese government has promised that all hotel rooms that are converted to make them accessible for wheelchair visitors to the 2020 Paralympics will now remain accessible as a legacy of the Games.

    The pledge comes after the Guardian revealed in April that British Paralympic officials were stunned when hotels near their training camp in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, demanded they pay to make rooms accessible — and then pay again to convert them back afterwards.

    One senior figure said the problem had been a “huge headache” for more than 18 months until the authorities in Yokohama, part of the Greater Tokyo metro area, finally agreed to help. What made the issue harder to solve is that it was beyond the remit of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee or government. Rather, it was down to individual hotels — many of which did not see the social or economic benefits of providing more accessible rooms.

    […]

    [Jun] Mitarai [awkwardly described as “part of the cabinet secretariat that co-ordinates Olympics planning” –blf] said the government was also addressing concerns from the International Paralympics Committee (IPC) about the lack of accessible rooms in Tokyo by introducing new legislation to ensure all new hotels cater more for people with disabilities […]

    […]

    Mitarai also had a message for existing hotels that were reluctant to renovate for accessibility. “Hotels shouldn’t view this as a cost but rather as an opportunity,” he said.

    “Japan is already an ageing society and it is going to be an even more ageing society in the future. And also the percentage of people with impairment is said to be around 7% — but those who are travelling are still much much less. So we want people on the management side of hotels to see this as a business opportunity and expand the number of accessible rooms.”

    When asked if he hoped the Tokyo Paralympics would change people’s perceptions of disabled sport and disabled people much in the way London 2012 did, Mitarai smiled before replying in English: “I completely agree with you.”

    […]

  136. blf says

    Hair furor’s “university” missed this trick, Telesup school’s fake facade called ‘a symbol of Peruvian university system’:

    […]
    From the street, the newest site of the Telesup university in Lima appeared to be a gleaming, glass-fronted 7-story tower. Inside, however, students were surprised to find the stairs only reached the fourth floor.

    Drone photos published this week revealed that the top three floors were just a façade supported by metal struts, in an episode which has cast an unflattering spotlight on Peru’s booming private university industry — widely seen to be rife with sub-standard education and profiteering.

    Education inspectors released the pictures as they announced the university had failed to get accreditation for falling short of basic academic requirements.

    “It’s a symbol of the facade that is the Peruvian university system,” says Ricardo Cuenca, director of the Institute of Peruvian Studies. “It was presenting an image with nothing behind it.”

    […]

    Picture at the link.

  137. blf says

    Now for John Crace’s snarking of teh NKofE’s nasty party’s shite wrestling contest in an echo chamber to be the next unelected PM, Tory hopefuls prove you don’t need to be on drugs to be off your head:

    […]
    It used to be said that all political careers end in failure. But in the Conservative leadership contest everyone appears to be cutting to the chase by ensuring they start that way as well.

    Over the weekend, while almost every contender was busy distancing themselves from their past and insisting it had been a terrible mistake for someone to have discovered they had snorted coke and smoked dope, the one thing on everyone else’s mind was the realisation that some Tories clearly don’t need to be on drugs to be off their heads. Rather it was the country’s tragedy that some of them might not have taken enough. There are frequently more signs of intelligent life to be found in an unconscious MP than a conscious one.

    […]

    Maria Miller was introducing the launch of Dominic Raab’s campaign. He is a man who respects the EU and is respected by the EU, she said, causing everyone to wonder if she had turned up to the right event. Dom appeared moments later. He’d clearly made an effort, having foregone his regular steroid injections as the crazed psycho stare isn’t an altogether winning look, and had come out determined to smile dementedly. Just don’t ask him where the bodies are buried.

    Now was not the time for foghorn diplomacy, he said. But the EU didn’t like it up them and he was the man who would go to Brussels to give everyone a good kicking and salvage the country’s pride. He was the conviction Brexiteer you could rely on. To get into a fight. We need a buccaneering approach to free trade, he said. The first candidate to suggest signing a deal with Somali pirates. The price of the pound plummeted against the doubloon. He was last heard talking to himself […]

    […]

    Alas, poor Michael, we knew him well. Before the hypocrisy surrounding his drug confessions were exposed, Gove had been considered a contender. The Tory capable of going head to head with the newly reclusive Boris. And everything about his launch event reeked of ambition. No side rooms for him, rather a 28th-floor party venue with a rock’n’roll introductory soundtrack. Queen. Fleetwood Mac. All that was missing were naked dwarves with bowls of coke on their heads.

    […]

    Some of the readers’s comments:

    ● “[…] Having endured a period of the mind-numbingly awful premierships since 2015 the Conservatives have become programmed to demand mediocrity and talentless people to lead them — and us! […] This contest is for the job of world statesman — I wouldn’t be confident on any of this benighted bunch ordering a double Whopper with cheese without cocking it up…what a fucking mess!”

    ● “Wonder what theory will be behind of the demise of the dinosaur Tory party when they start discovering the fossils?”

    ● “So, our next PM, we have the following : drug taking, anti-choice, climate change denial, support for the death penalty, more tax cuts for the rich, money laundering, serial lying, adultery, racism, Trump supporters and no deal brexit. […]”

    ● “Never have so many drugs been put to such poor use.”

    ● “Hilarious listening to the Tory members on Newsnight complaining about diversity and 50% this and 50% that. They’re all white, Christian, straight, old and mostly men. I don’t think there’s any ‘danger’ of 50% anything.”

    ● “As [a] Somali pirate I can assure you that Somaliland is not interested in doing a free trade deal with Brexitland. We do however have a shipping container of qat here ready to go if someone could just give us the address of Tory party headquarters.”

    ● “This is too much like being put before a firing squad, and getting the choice of which of your executioner gets to load the live bullet. […]”

    And so on…

  138. says

    “READ: Trump Appeals To Halt Subpoena For Financial Records”:

    President Trump hit out against House Democrats and a federal judge on Monday in an appellate brief filed in the D.C. court of appeals, in the latest episode in his bid to halt a Congressional subpoena sent to accounting firm Mazars USA seeking years of his financial records.

    Arguing that the demand for information “exceeds Congress’s investigative authority,” personal attorneys for the President contend that the House needs a legislative purpose to investigate Trump.

    A federal judge upheld the subpoena — sent by House Oversight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings (D-MD) in April — in a blistering opinion last month. Trump immediately signaled that he would appeal.

    In the brief, Trump repeats his argument that the requests constitute an invasion of his privacy.

    “Yet replace ‘President’ with ‘Justices’ and the ruling below would, without question, authorize a congressional subpoena for the Justices’ accounting records— even for many years before they joined the Court,” Trump argues.

    The President goes on to contend that even if the subpoena is found to have been issued for potential legislation, the House “could never show that the vast majority of documents it has subpoenaed from Mazars are pertinent to any stated legitimate aim.”

    William Consovoy – a personal attorney for Trump – goes on to accuse the lower court of “invok[ing] the impeachment power on the Committee’s behalf.”

    “That was remarkably inappropriate,” Consovoy writes, saying “the one thing the parties agree on is that this case is not about impeachment. The district court should not have suggested otherwise.”

    Trump calls the House’s subpoena unprecedented, saying that “this Court has never seen anything like the current House.”

    “The Committee claims sweeping authority to legislatively control the office of the President,” the filing reads, as part of an argument that the legislation Congress could contemplate on the issue would itself be unconstitutional.

    Consovoy goes on to claim that the legislature’s power to oversee in part to inform the public is illegitimate as applied to the president….

    Trump launches into a broader argument that Congress is “severely constrained in the ways it can regulate the President.”

    Trump sued to prevent his longtime accounting firm Mazars USA from complying with a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee in April. The lawsuit — paired with a similar case involving the President’s longtime lenders in Manhattan federal court — constitutes a nearly unprecedented attempt to prevent Congress from investigating Trump’s finances.

  139. says

    UPDATE: “Ivan Golunov is free! An unbelievable turnaround and the only right thing to do when the evidence was clearly faked in response to his reporting.

    Several top cops have been fired too. Shows you how scared the Kremlin is of public protest after such a big outpouring of support.”

    They closed the case!

  140. says

    CNN provides more background to Golunov’s release – “A Russian journalist was arrested on drug charges. The backlash has blindsided the Kremlin.”:

    At first glance, the arrest of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov seemed to be the latest in a string of attacks on the free press in Russia. The reporter was brought up last week on what to many appeared to be a fabricated drugs charge.

    But the response to his detainment took the Kremlin — and Russian society — by surprise.

    For starters, Golunov’s arrest prompted an outpouring of journalistic solidarity. Over the weekend, Russian reporters took turns staging solo protests, lining up to hold placards outside the Moscow branch of Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. Those single-person pickets — which do not require a permit — continued into Monday evening.

    The vigils were a spontaneous burst of protest in a country where political speech is often tightly controlled. And Russian media organizations — both independent and pro-Kremlin — rallied to Golunov’s cause.

    On Monday, three leading Russian business newspapers published identical front pages with the headline: “I/We are Ivan Golunov.”

    It was a phrase reminiscent of “Je suis Charlie,” the slogan that went viral after the 2015 mass shooting at the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

    Equally striking was support from Russia’s celebrities, artists and performers. Many Russian celebrities posted videos calling for Golunov’s release, calling his case an important test for the rule of law.

    “It’s crucial that Ivan Golunov walks free not only for himself and for his loved ones, friends or colleagues,” said rapper Oxxxymiron (Miron Fedorov). “It’s crucial for the whole society and all of us. Because if bravery will continue to be punished and villainy will be praised, none of us have a future.”

    Veteran rock musician Andrey Makarevich recorded a video statement in support of the journalist, saying “We must do everything so this travesty ends.” Makarevich’s band, Mashina Vremeni (Time Machine), was scheduled to perform Wednesday in Moscow’s Red Square to celebrate Russia’s National Day, but the performance was canceled after “a call,” the musician said on Facebook.

    Chulpan Khamatova, the actress best known for her role in the 2003 film “Good Bye Lenin!,” said, “I want to live in a country where there is no fear. I don’t want to be afraid. Ivan Golunov must be free.”

    Many others weighed in. But Fekla Tolstoy, a TV personality descended from author Leo Tolstoy, suggested why the case resonated with so many Russians.

    “It’s not just the latest attack on freedom of speech, it’s a signal to all of us: Anyone one of us can be arrested,” she said. “And we can’t put up with that.”…

    People had called for a rally in Moscow tomorrow, which, as the article points out, is Russia Day. The holiday celebrates that “On this day, in 1991, Russian parliament formally declared Russian sovereignty from the Soviet Union.” So it’s a pretty comical holiday, but I’m sure Putin’s clique didn’t want the protests getting more attention.

  141. says

    Sen. Blumenthal summarizes Quinta Jurecic’s WaPo piece, “4 Disturbing Details You May Have Missed in the Mueller Report”:

    If you haven’t read the 440+ pages of the Mueller report, this list provides some of the most disturbing highlights that have gotten too little attention.

    1. Trump personally knew WikiLeaks was going to release illegally stolen, hacked information ahead of time—yet instead of expressing alarm, his campaign planned its press strategy around the release.

    2. Trump personally directed members of his campaign to find the 30,000 missing (i.e. stolen & hacked by Russians) Clinton emails—they tried to do so, but were unsuccessful.

    3. Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, secretly shared polling data on “battleground states” with a known Russian operative at a time that Russians were engaging in a social media disinformation campaign targeting American voters.

    4. Trump ordered his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to tell AG Sessions to constrain the scope of the Mueller investigation to just future election interference.

    We cannot be a nation who becomes numb to our political leaders brazenly coordinating w/foreign adversaries (& covering it up after the fact).

  142. says

    Alexey Kovalev, Golunov’s editor:

    …It’s probably a combination of factors: Golunov’s spotless personal and professional credentials; his undeniable service to the community; and the fact his arrest was an unmitigated PR disaster for Russia as it was unfolding at the time of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, where Putin appeared, hoping to attract global investors. I’m sure Putin would have stopped it if he could, but you can’t arbitrarily free one victim of this system without admitting that many top-ranking officials were involved in a plan to frame an innocent man for his pursuit of truth. It’s a cruelly efficient system of intimidation and persecution, and Golunov’s case is far from the first. But we hope this turns out to be one that finally exposes the truth.

  143. says

    From today’s Guardian liveblog – “Labour to force vote on Wednesday on motion it says could allow MPs to pass new no-deal bill”: “Labour has announced that it will hold a vote tomorrow on what it says is a binding motion that would allow time for MPs to pass a law to rule out a no-deal Brexit in October….”

    More information at the link. It sounds complicated.

  144. says

    The House is debating the Barr and McGahn subpoenas (“a resolution authorizing the Judiciary Committee to pursue court action on subpoenas issued for former and current Trump administration officials”) right now – on C-SPAN. The first votes will be at 1:15 PM ET.

  145. blf says

    SC@210, An explainer of sorts, Labour to launch bid to block new PM from forcing no-deal Brexit. A point which seems to be missing from that explainer is that, normally, what Parliament debates is controlled by “the government”; that is, the party / coalition of the PM and other ministers. Currently,, that’s the nasty party plus the “D”UP. The opposition (currently, mostly Labour) does have some time set aside for it, but normally(? as far as I know) those debates / results are not binding on “the government”; that is, they can ignore them.

    For reasons I’m not-at-all clear on, should the proposed motion pass, it would be binding. Albeit, as the article / explainer notes:

    It is unclear what form those measures to prevent no deal — which remains the legal default — could take.

    Some MPs, including the Lib Dem leadership candidate Ed Davey, have suggested making it the legal default that a prime minister must revoke article 50, rather than leave without a deal. However, it is unlikely such a radical move could garner the necessary cross-party backing.

    Parliamentary procedures / shenanigans largely seem to be made-up, partly out of thin air and partly from selective memory, so precisely what is going on presumably needs an Procedures & Shenanigans Expert to try and explain. (I am not such a person, and hence I presume this comment contains more inadvertent errors and important omissions than usual — Sorry! — plus, probably, a choice selection of Tpyos offerngs…)

  146. says

    Forbes – “Google Just Got Roped Into U.S. Government’s Case Against Roger Stone”:

    Google is about to become embroiled in one of the most high-profile criminal cases in recent American history. The Department of Justice has demanded the tech giant hand over data to help it piece together its investigation of longtime Donald Trump advisor and ally Roger Stone, according to a June 5 order seen by Forbes.

    The federal government is seeking to put together a timeline of Stone’s public statements about his apparent contact with WikiLeaks regarding the infamous 2016 leaks of Democratic party communications. Investigators believe YouTube upload dates and times of eight specific videos will help. YouTube is owned by Google.

    The videos of interest to the DOJ include footage of Stone’s appearances at Republican meetups and on right-wing shows like InfoWars, as well as public comments from Wikileaks chief Julian Assange. The videos were uploaded by various YouTube accounts, not by Stone or Wikileaks….

    Some strange framing in this piece: “Stone, though, has admitted to brief contact with WikiLeaks over Twitter direct messages and a hacker Guccifer 2.0, who has since been accused of being a Russian military intelligence agent.” I mean…

  147. says

    The Independent – “Outrage on Capitol Hill over ‘completely unacceptable’ US-funded scheme to shape Iran debate”:

    United States officials say they are outraged by a government-funded troll campaign that has targeted American citizens critical of the administration’s hardline Iran policy and accused critics of being loyal to the Tehran regime.

    State Department officials admitted to Congressional staff in a closed-door meeting on Monday that a project they had funded to counter Iranian propaganda had gone off the rails. Critics in Washington have gone further, saying that the programme resembled the type of troll farms used by autocratic regimes abroad.

    “It’s completely unacceptable that American taxpayer dollars supported a project that attacked Americans and others who are critical of the Trump administration’s policy of escalation and conflict with Iran,” a senior Congressional aide told The Independent, on condition of anonymity.

    “This is something that happens in authoritarian regimes, not democracies.”

    One woman behind the harassment campaign, a longtime Iranian-American activist, has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the State Department over the years to promote “freedom of expression and free access to information.”

    The campaign relentlessly attacked critics of the Iran policy on social media, including Twitter and Telegram messaging app, accusing them without evidence of being paid operatives of the regime in Tehran.

    A spokeswoman for the State Department told reporters on Monday that funding for the “Iran Disinformation Project” had been suspended and is under review after it was reported that it went beyond the scope of its mandate by veering from countering propaganda from Iran to smearing domestic critics of White House policy.

    State Department officials disclosed to lawmakers they had granted $1.5 [million, presumably – SC] for Iran Disinfo, which repeatedly targeted, harassed and smeared critics of Trump’s tough stance against Iran on social media.

    Among those targeted were American activists, scholars, and journalists who challenged the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure campaign” against Iran.

    The revelation that US taxpayer money was being used to attack administration critics has now sparked a flurry of queries.

    “There are still so many unanswered questions here,” Congresswoman Ilhan Omar wrote on Twitter. “What rules are in place to prevent state-funded organisation from smearing American citizens? If there wasn’t public outcry, would the Administration have suspended funding for Iran Disinfo?”

    Cold War-era US rules barring the use of government-funded propaganda against American citizens have been flouted for decades.

    Congresswoman Barbara Lee accused the State Department of giving taxpayer money to operatives “accused of intimidating and harassing U.S. human rights activists, journalists, and academics who’ve criticized their hawkish policies on Iran.”

    She added: “This is unacceptable and we will not stand for it.”

    One Congressional staffer said he expected the State Department would examine “the extent of coordination” between Iran Disinfo project and “pro-war think tanks like the Foundation for Defence of Democracies.”

    Over the weekend, The Intercept revealed that a purported Iranian activist, who had published dozens of articles on Iran in prominent outlets such as Forbes and The Hill, does not exist and is a fake persona run by a team of operatives connected to a bizarre Iranian political cult.

    The “Heshmat Alavi” persona had a strong presence on Twitter and harassed Iranian journalists, academics, and activists who are critical of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq organisation, a one-time armed guerilla group now holed up in Albania. There is no known link between the Iran Disinfo programme and the fake persona….

  148. says

    Trump re Kim Jung Un, the reporting that Kim’s brother was a CIA source, and Trump’s promise that he wouldn’t allow it: “I saw the information about the CIA with respect to his brother or half-brother, and I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices…I would not let that happen under my auspices.”

    He’s….apologizing for the CIA trying to recruit the guy whom Kim murdered in broad daylight with a nerve agent in an airport used by 60 million passengers annually. And promising it won’t happen again.”

  149. says

    Trump: ‘I just received a beautiful letter from Kim Jong Un. … I saw the information about the CIA. … I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices. … I think North Korea, under his leadership … has tremendous potential’.”

  150. blf says

    Botswana judges rule laws criminalising gay sex are unconstitutional:

    […]
    High court judges in Botswana have ruled that laws criminalising same-sex relations are unconstitutional and should be struck down, in a major victory for gay rights campaigners in Africa.

    Jubilant activists in the packed courtroom cheered the unanimous decision, which came a month after a setback in Kenya when a court rejected an attempt to repeal similar colonial-era laws.

    “Human dignity is harmed when minority groups are marginalised,” Justice Michael Leburu said as he delivered the judgment. “Sexual orientation is not a fashion statement. It is an important attribute of one’s personality.”

    The ruling was welcomed enthusiastically by campaigners across the African continent, where homosexuality is illegal in most countries. In several, gay people face life imprisonment or the death penalty.

    Botswana is regarded as one of Africa’s most stable and democratic nations but homosexuality was outlawed under the country’s penal code of 1965.

    “A democratic nation is one that embraces tolerance, diversity, and open-mindedness … societal inclusion is central to ending poverty and fostering shared prosperity … The state cannot be a sheriff in people’s bedrooms,” Leburu said.

    […]

  151. says

    Brian Beutler – “The Fever Is Not Going To Break”:

    …Biden abandoned Hyde amid sustained backlash from advocacy groups and fellow Democrats, and his campaign tied the flip-flop to the GOP’s efforts to re-criminalize abortion, suggesting he didn’t see that the “compromise” had failed until his reflexive bipartisanship blew up in his face. This episode should settle the question of whether Biden really believes Graveyard Mitch McConnell will become reasonable if Trump loses (the answer appears to be yes) but it also foreshadows how things will go for any winning Democratic candidate who clings, sincerely or otherwise, to the view that a golden era of compromise will dawn once Trump is gone. These candidates will lock themselves into a mode of governing that can not work anymore. Their supporters and intra-party critics will be demoralized, their presidencies will stagnate, and they will waste precious time grasping for a better approach. (That’s if they don’t react to predictable GOP resistance by passing new, ill-conceived pseudo-compromises like the Hyde amendment.)

    It’s obviously just as naive to assume that hard-nosed realism about the nature of the modern GOP will unlock a progressive revolution all on its own. But candidates who understand what they’re signing up for can take steps to prepare for governing around Republicans now, knowing it’s delusional to imagine they’ll govern in coalition with them. If Democrats win the White House but not the Senate, Democrats should be prepared to implement creative foreign and administrative policies; if they consolidate power, they should be prepared to legislate in an aggressive and likely partisan way. The next time a Democrat is president, Republicans will again want to filibuster his or her presidency into failure, so the filibuster must be on the chopping block, and the party should be prepared to legislate around its own internal center, rather than let its most conservative members set the agenda in the vain hope of securing bipartisanship.

    That approach will be bruising, but the good news is candidates can help voters understand what lies ahead for the next Democratic government now, so that the GOP’s nihilism is on the ballot, and everyone knows what to expect and fight for in 2021. The alternative is a campaign of false hope far more unrealistic than Medicare for All or a Green New Deal, with demoralizing frustration at the end. The country deserves better than that but nobody running for the Democratic nomination should want that kind of presidency either.

  152. says

    “DOJ threatens executive privilege to block access to census docs”:

    The Justice Department on Tuesday advised President Donald Trump to invoke executive privilege to block House Democrats’ access to documents about efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

    In a letter to House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd threatened the blanket assertion of privilege if the panel proceeds with a scheduled vote on Wednesday to hold Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress, calling such proceedings “premature.”

    “In the fact of this threatened contempt vote, the attorney general is now compelled to request that the president invoke executive privilege with respect to the materials subject to the subpoena to the attorney general and the subpoena to the secretary of the department of commerce,” Boyd wrote.

    Last week, the Justice and Commerce departments rejected House Democrats’ subpoenas for additional documents about the addition of a citizenship question, prompting Cummings to schedule a full committee vote to hold Barr and Ross in criminal contempt of Congress.

    The Justice Department employed a similar tactic on the eve of the House Judiciary Committee’s vote to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for defying that panel’s subpoena for special counsel Robert Mueller’s unredacted report and all underlying evidence. The Judiciary Committee proceeded with its contempt vote against Barr, prompting Trump to assert executive privilege over the full Mueller report and all of its contents….

  153. KG says

    For reasons I’m not-at-all clear on, should the proposed motion [in the UK House of Commons] pass, it would be binding. – blf@212

    It’s a “Business of the House” motion; these are binding. All tomorrow’s motion will do, if passed, is allow MPs to take control of business from the Government on 25th June. Its form is an instruction to the Speaker. If it passes, on 25th the Speaker will choose a motion (on Brexit, I think) to be debated, and make time for it to be debated and voted on. It’s this motion that the sponsors of tomorrow’s hope will block a no-deal crash out. Knowledgeable commentators seem to differ both on the likelihood of tomorrow’s motion passing, and on whether a motion could be formulated that would actually prevent a crash out at the end of October. My hunch is that only a vote of no confidence in the Government leading to a general election will do that.

  154. says

    The House Intel Committee hearing on counterintelligence lessons learned from the Mueller report is happening now, but isn’t on TV. You can watch it on the C-SPAN site.

    The House Oversight Committee is holding a hearing on holding Barr and Ross in contempt over withholding documents related to the proposed citizenship question on the 2020 census. Meadows is already trying to sabotage the proceedings, but Cummings isn’t having it. The WH has now exerted executive privilege over the documents, as threatened yesterday.

  155. says

    Cummings says he’ll postpone the vote on Barr and Ross’s contempt til later this afternoon to allow members to review the president’s assertion of executive privilege.”

    Don Jr. is in with the Senate Intel Committee right now.

  156. says

    “Police use rubber bullets as Hong Kong protesters vow ‘no retreat'”:

    Hong Kong police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at protesters who had massed outside government headquarters on Wednesday in opposition to a proposed extradition bill that has become a lightning rod for concerns over greater Chinese control and erosion of civil liberties in the territory.

    The violence marked a major escalation in the semi-autonomous Chinese city’s biggest political crisis in years. It came after protesters earlier in the day forced the delay of a legislative debate over the bill, which would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be sent for trial in mainland China.

    Police used rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray and batons to disperse crowds of demonstrators calling for authorities to scrap the Beijing-backed law.

    There were reports that one of the people who had been shot had sustained a head injury. Pictures and videos on social media purported to show people injured by rubber bullets or bean-bag rounds.

    Official Chinese media did not report on the protests on Wednesday and mentions of the protests were scrubbed from Chinese social media platforms. Screenshots of foreign news reports of the protests were deleted from the discussion forum Douban and the search term “Let’s go, Hong Kong” or Xianggang jiayou was blocked on the microblog, Weibo….

    More at the link. The Guardian is also liveblogging the events.

  157. says

    Update to #174 – “Bolsonaro tight-lipped as minister faces calls to resign over Lula scandal”:

    Brazil’s justice minister is facing growing calls to resign after a series of politically explosive leaks that some observers believe could have a profound effect on Brazilian politics and the administration of the far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro.

    Sérgio Moro became an A-list celebrity in Brazil for leading the historic “Car Wash” anti-corruption investigation.

    He controversially took his job last year after helping jail Bolsonaro’s key election rival, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and has been widely tipped as a future president himself.

    But Moro’s political future was thrown into doubt on Sunday after the Intercept began publishing a series of exposés based on what it called “a vast trove” of secret documents provided by an anonymous source….

    The article notes that few want to speak out in his defense because they know more is coming from the Intercept.

  158. says

    “Shep Smith Urges Fox News Viewers to Actually Read the Mueller Report”:

    Viewers tuning into Fox News Tuesday expecting the network’s more typical pro-Trump reporting may have been surprised to hear a different kind of message. Anchor Shepard Smith, one of Fox News’s few hosts who regularly criticizes the president, used news of House Democrats’ latest act against the White House’s stonewalling to urge his viewers to go read the Mueller report already—because it doesn’t exonerate the president as President Donald Trump and his base love to claim. “Everyone in America should read” the 400-plus page report, Smith said. “Everyone.”

    The Fox anchor’s reminder about the Mueller report’s actual contents came as Smith reported that the House has escalated their fight against the Trump administration, passing a resolution along party lines that makes it easier for lawmakers to sue those who don’t comply with congressional subpoenas. Smith told viewers to “remember” that Mueller’s report “laid out ten instances of apparent obstruction of justice, criminal obstruction of justice, potentially, by President Trump.” “The special counsel did not exonerate the president,” Smith added. ”They said if they could’ve they would’ve but they couldn’t so they didn’t. Mueller explained that if he and his team had confidence that the president did not commit obstruction, they would have said so.” The anchor also explained to his viewers why it was now Congress’s job to act on the Mueller’s report’s contents, saying that Mueller’s report states “that under Justice Department guidelines, charging the president with a crime was never an option to him. He said the Constitution requires another process.” Such a blatant explanation may be necessary for Smith’s viewers, as recent polls have indicated that despite the Mueller report’s findings, Americans still remain divided on whether or not the report cleared Trump of any wrongdoing….

  159. says

    I don’t know what’s going on with MSNBC during the day, but it’s been a parade of white men, Republican hacks offering Democrats unsolicited advice, and Biden commentary. And this morning, Kellyanne Conway.

    Maddow seems to be the only one covering the multiple Chao corruption scandals (21-minute video at the link), while the daytime shows fritter away time on irrelevancies.

    There’s no way their viewers are pushing them in this direction.

  160. says

    “Flynn Hires A Mueller-Bashing Fox News Personality As His New Lawyer”:

    Former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn has hired Sydney Powell to replace his legal team, whom announced last week that they had been terminated by him. Powell has questioned Mueller’s tactics in commentary before she was hired by Flynn, suggesting Flynn might be doubling down on a strategy to cast doubt on his guilty plea even as he continues to cooperate with prosecutors….

    This is really sickening.

  161. says

    Josh Marshall:

    Flynn’s old lawyer was a respected, highly credentialed defense attorney. New one is maybe third tier lawyer whose only clear credential is being hardcore anti-Deep State type. Given Judge Sullivan’s comments to date, this seems like a near suicidal move if the plan is to operate through the normal judicial process. Legal experts said as much when he dropped his old lawyer. It was generally assumed that the most likely reason was to let the old lawyer fall on his sword and take responsibility for the sentencing memo which got the judge so upset. Apparently not though. It’s very hard to see how this isn’t an insane move unless Flynn has good reason to believe he’s receiving a pardon.

  162. says

    Good news – “The Latest: Judge awards $4.1 million in neo-Nazi case”:

    A federal judge has awarded $4.1 million to a Muslim-American radio host who accused a neo-Nazi website operator of falsely accusing him of terrorism.

    U.S. District Court Judge Edmund Sargus Jr. had previously agreed to enter a default judgment against The Daily Stormer founder Andrew Anglin and his company.

    On Wednesday Sargus ruled in favor of SiriusXM Radio show host Dean Obeidallah (oh-bee-DAHL’-ah) and his request for financial damages and for an injunction ordering the website to take down articles about Obeidallah.

    Obeidallah says Anglin falsely labeled him the “mastermind” behind a deadly bombing at a concert in England.

    Anglin hasn’t responded to the lawsuit, and his whereabouts are a mystery. His father, Greg Anglin, testified briefly Wednesday but wouldn’t talk about his son….

  163. says

    NOW: House Oversight voted 24-15 to recommend that Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross and AG William Barr be held in contempt of Congress for refusal to cooperate on investigation about the Census (and push to add a citizenship question to it).

    Republican Justin Amash joined Democrats in voting to hold Sec. Ross and AG Barr in contempt.”

  164. says

    Neal Katyal and George Conway in WaPo – “Trump’s latest court filing is an invitation to begin impeachment proceedings”:

    Much ink has been spilled about whether President Trump committed a criminal and impeachable offense by obstructing justice. That question deserves extensive debate, but another critical question — the ultimate question, really — is not whether he committed a crime, but whether he is even fit for office in the first place. And that question — the heart of an impeachment inquiry — turns upon whether the president abuses his power and demonstrates an unfitness to serve under the defining principles of our Constitution.

    On Tuesday, Trump gave us direct evidence of his contempt toward the most foundational precept of our democracy — that no person, not even the president, is above the law. He filed a brief in the nation’s second-most-important court that takes the position that Congress cannot investigate the president, except possibly in impeachment proceedings. It’s a spectacularly anti-constitutional brief, and anyone who harbors such attitudes toward our Constitution’s architecture is not fit for office. Trump’s brief is nothing if not an invitation to commencing impeachment proceedings that, for reasons set out in the Mueller report, should have already commenced….

    More at the link.

  165. says

    EXCLUSIVE: Pres. Trump tells @GStephanopoulos he wouldn’t necessarily alert the FBI if approached by foreign figures with information on his 2020 opponent: ‘It’s not an interference. They have information. I think I’d take it’.”

    Full video clip at the link. OPEN AN IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY NOW.

  166. Saad says

    SC, #259

    He has been allowed to get away with so much already, none of this matters anymore. We just have to sit back and watch.

  167. says

    BREAKING: The House Intelligence Committee has subpoenaed Rick GATES and Michael FLYNN

    The subpoenas seek documents and testimony from both men, who were crucial cooperators for special counsel MUELLER.”

  168. says

    Schiff: ‘Both Michael Flynn and Rick Gates were critical witnesses for Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, but so far have refused to cooperate fully with Congress. That’s simply unacceptable. The American people, and the Congress, deserve to hear directly from [them]’.”

  169. says

    Today’s Guardian British-politics liveblog.

    Current title: “Tory leadership: Boris Johnson leads with 114 votes as Leadsom, McVey and Harper knocked out”

    I’m honestly still thrown. At least in 2016, no one knew (for certain) how disastrously things would turn out. But it’s been three years. And the frontrunner to become Prime Minister is Boris Johnson. How the hell is everyone in multiple countries around the world so fucking stupid? (This is largely a rhetorical question/expression of exasperation. I wouldn’t mind serious responses, but I would mind glib ones.)

  170. says

    Laurence Tribe: “It’s just crazy for Dems to keep all these confusing investigatory balls in the air — and confusing rather than educating an exhausted public — when they could easily focus national attention on a coherent impeachment inquiry.”

  171. says

    “Federal office says Kellyanne Conway should be removed for violating Hatch Act”:

    A federal agency is recommending that White House adviser Kellyanne Conway be removed from federal service, saying she violated the Hatch Act on numerous occasions.

    The US Office of Special Counsel said Conway erred by making “disparaging Democratic presidential candidates while speaking in her official capacity during television interviews and on social media.”

    The office is unrelated to Robert Mueller and his investigation.

    Special counsel Henry Kerner wrote in a letter to President Donald Trump Thursday that his office’s investigative report found that Conway, whose title is counselor to the President, was a “repeat offender” of the Hatch Act.

    “Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions. Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system — the rule of law,” the letter said.

    The recommendation carries no actual power to remove Conway. That decision is up to Trump.

    And White House deputy press secretary Steven Groves called the special counsel’s actions against Conway “deeply flawed,” claiming they “violate her constitutional rights to free speech and due process.”

    A separate statement from the Office of the Special Counsel, issued alongside the report, said: “Like with other presidential appointees, the President has the authority to discipline Ms. Conway for violating the Hatch Act. Given that Ms. Conway is a repeat offender and has shown disregard for the law, (the office) recommends that she be removed from federal service.”…

    Just another law Trump and his thugs are going to ignore.

    Here’s the full report.

  172. says

    George Conway, who argued yesterday in an oped with Neal Katyal (linked @ #256) that “On Tuesday, Trump gave us direct evidence of his contempt toward the most foundational precept of our democracy — that no person, not even the president, is above the law,” hasn’t yet tweeted about the recommendation that his wife be dismissed for repeatedly and contemptuously violating the law and the Trump outfit’s response that she and they all are above the law.

  173. says

    George Conway just retweeted a tweet of his from December in which he responds to Michael Cohen’s statement that “I gave loyalty to someone who, truthfully, does not deserve loyalty” with “Truer words were never spoken.”

  174. says

    Walter Shaub: “I’ve been hard on @US_OSC for some of its recent guidance, but this is an extraordinary act of courage by Special Counsel Henry Kerner in service to his agency’s important mission and the rule of law itself. (FYI – Kerner is a Trump appointee.) Time for @KellyannePolls to resign.”

  175. says

    Carole Cadwalladr:

    NEW: The BBC’s director general Tony Hall says he will address subject of dark money think tanks on BBC.
    ‘Accountability starts with me,’ he tells #foundersforum & says he will call an editorial meeting & discuss labelling & other issues. Yes!!!

    Full disclosure: I asked the question in audience q&a with @jimmy_wales. But Lord Hall confirmed afterwards he would do this & was happy for it to be made public.

  176. blf says

    Also in teh NKofE, the mere peons are fighting back against the nasty party’s attempts to house them in incinerators, ‘This building has no sprinklers’: Grenfell United’s 12-storey-high guerrilla messages:

    Group beams huge projections on high-rises to highlight fire safety crisis

    Tower blocks across England have been lit up in a series of guerrilla projections highlighting a national fire safety crisis that appears to be getting worse rather than better on the eve of the second anniversary of the Grenfell disaster [which killed 72 people –blf].

    […]

    NV Buildings in Salford were illuminated with a message that read: “2 years after Grenfell and this building is still covered in dangerous cladding. #DemandChange.” A leaseholder […] said nearly 250 households faced a bill of nearly £3m to make their homes safe, and families and children feared for their safety because the building was wrapped in combustible expanded polystyrene insulation.

    Yes, you read that correctly. One of the antics the building owners are up to is to charge the tenets for the costs of measures to prevent the building from burning down.

    […]
    In London at Frinstead House on the Silchester estate, which neighbours Grenfell, the projection highlighted its lack of sprinklers. All new residential towers require them, but retrofitting is not mandatory. In Newcastle, Cruddas Park House, a council block of 159 households where there have been bin fires, was lit up with the message: “The fire doors in this building are still not fit for purpose.”

    […]

    Numerous additional details about teh NKofE’s nasty party’s attempt to burn alive the population at the link.

  177. says

    “All Flint water crisis criminal charges dismissed by attorney general’s office — for now”:

    The Michigan Attorney General’s Office has dismissed all pending criminal charges arising from the Flint drinking water crisis, saying it is has instead started over with an expanded investigation.

    The office on Thursday announced the dismissal of charges against all eight remaining defendants, including involuntary manslaughter charges against Nick Lyon, the former director of the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Charges were also dismissed against other officials from the health department, plus two former Flint emergency managers and current or former employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the City of Flint.

    The statement from the office of Attorney General Dana Nessel said the dismissals were a response to problems with the original investigation, launched under former Attorney General Bill Schuette, and don’t preclude recharging the original defendants or adding new ones.

    Nayyirah Shariff, a Flint resident and director of the grassroots group Flint Rising, described the announcement as “a slap in the face to Flint residents,” whose residents had their drinking water supply contaminated with lead in 2014, and where many residents still rely on bottled water today.

    “This has been bungled,” she said. “I don’t know what’s going on.”

    “I’m very disappointed with (Attorney General) Dana Nessel’s office because she ran on a platform that she was going to provide justice for Flint resident, and it doesn’t seem like justice is coming.”

    Fifteen people were charged under Schuette, a Republican, and special prosecutor Todd Flood. Seven had pleaded no contest to misdemeanors, with expectations they would cooperate with other pending prosecutions and their records would eventually be wiped clean.

    Tens of millions of dollars in taxpayers’ funds have been spent on the investigation and to pay the criminal defense bills of the state and city defendants.

    A “community conversation” is set for June 28 in Flint with Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud, who is handling the criminal charges, to explain the decision and answer questions.

    “Legitimate criminal prosecutions require complete investigations,” Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, who is assisting Hammoud, said in a joint statement….

  178. says

    JUST IN: @MarkWarner just tried to unanimously pass his bill to make reporting dirt offered by foreign adversaries to FBI a legal requirement.

    @MarshaBlackburn objected.

    Schumer responds: ‘Shame on the republicans, it’s a new low for the republicans in the senate, for the president & our democracy. If you can say that a foreign power should be allowed to interfere in our elections with impunity without any recourse that is a very dangerous thing’.”

  179. says

    Charlie Pierce on the claim that Iran is behind the alleged attacks on the oil tankers – Esquire – “I Don’t Trust This Administration* With a Lemon Zester, Let Alone a War With Iran”:

    I am not buying this in the least. I remember the Iraq lies. I know this administration is truthless from top to bottom and all the way out both sides. I don’t trust the Saudi government as far as I can throw a bone saw. And this president* feels very much like he’s being run to ground at the moment and needs a distraction. And his Secretary of State is a third-rate congresscritter from Kansas who once advised American soldiers to disobey lawful orders, and who’s fighting way above his weight class. Also, too, John Bolton is eight kinds of maniac.

    So, no, I’m not buying this….

  180. says

    Elijah Cummings on Kellyanne Conway: ‘Complying with the law is not optional. President Trump should terminate Ms. Conway’s employment immediately in light of these dozens of violations of federal law’.

    Cummings: ‘As a result, today I am announcing a hearing on June 26, 2019, with the Office of Special Counsel to hear about its findings and recommendation, and we will be inviting Ms. Conway to answer for her violations’.”

  181. KG says

    Trump’s Mini-me seems certain to become Prime Minister. If he were to eat a live kitten on TV, most of the Tory Party would simply smirk “Oh, that’s just Boris!”. Johnson has reportedly told the ERG headbangers in private that he would consider advising the Queen to prorogue Parliament in order to prevent it passing legislation blocking a no-deal Brexit (Raab and one of the eliminated contenders, McVey, have threatened this is public). Whether the Queen followed the advice (as is probable) or not, this would be a constitutional crisis (even though we don’t have a constitution!). Johnson may well have been lying, as he has certainly been giving completely different stories to different Tory factions. My own hunch is that he will go for an immediate general election once installed, banking on a compliant media, the boost a new PM almost always gets, and the fact that Corbyn’s approval rating among the public is even lower than his own. My hunch is because I don’t think he will want to preside over a crash-out Brexit without getting a working majority (and he’s not so stupid he really believes his bluster about the EU offering him a better deal).

    A general election requires either a no-confidence vote (and then two weeks during which no-one wins a confidence vote), or a 2/3 majority among all MPs (i.e, not just 2/3 of those who vote). Labour could not possibly refuse if he challenged them to vote for an election. It’s been speculated that Farage would not fight such an election, or that the Tories and BUF would come to a deal, with each standing down in some constituencies. I think both unlikely – Farage is certainly very lazy, so probably doesn’t want to serve more than a token term as PM, but his ego is as over-sized as Johnson’s, while it’s inconceivable that any significant number of Tory MPs would be prepared to give up their seats. But with the centre and left so badly split due to Corbyn, Johnson could still win a majority by reclaiming enough BUF voters.

  182. KG says

    Private Eye has one of their best recent covers, published before today’s round of the Tory leadership contest, but not yet visible online (I’ll post a link when it is). The headline is “TORY LEADERSHIP DRUG SCANDAL”. Below are four mugshots of the leading candidates (they got the four who have ended up in the top four places, although that wasn’t hard). Raab, Gove, Hunt and Johnson are labelled respectively DOPE, CHARLIE, WEED, and SHIT. Underneath is an old anti-drug slogan: JUST SAY NO.

  183. says

    Trump’s Mini-me seems certain to become Prime Minister. If he were to eat a live kitten on TV, most of the Tory Party would simply smirk “Oh, that’s just Boris!”.

    Utter madness.

  184. F.O. says

    @SC (Salty Current) #244

    The responses.

    I love you and I really like the stuff you post here, but that guy is a grifter, and tacked several “buy my shit” tweets right after his deliberately inflammatory post.
    Result: thousands of retweets, and thousands of people scrolling through his ads.
    You and a lot of well-meaning people who shared it are doing his grifting job for him.
    To use the language of one of the responses, you got owned.

  185. says

    I love you and I really like the stuff you post here, but that guy is a grifter, and tacked several “buy my shit” tweets right after his deliberately inflammatory post.
    Result: thousands of retweets, and thousands of people scrolling through his ads.
    You and a lot of well-meaning people who shared it are doing his grifting job for him.
    To use the language of one of the responses, you got owned.

    Oh, please. Much of the nonsense to which people respond in entertaining ways is put out by grifters of one variety or another. You could just as easily say he or anyone who shared it were giving free advertising to Target (which…OK – they have some good things). I also linked to Flynn’s fascist lawyer @ #263, and she’s a far more dangerous form of huckster. The likelihood that people following a link from me on this thread are going to be buying anything from the guy, whose identity I’ve already forgotten if I ever took note of it, is vanishingly small. And “Were the rainbows armed?” is just funny.

  186. says

    It’s now exactly ONE MONTH since the Met Police Commissioner announced that a decision on the investigation into the Leave campaigns, referred to the police over a year ago, WOULD TAKE WEEKS NOT MONTHS. Boris Johnson was a leading figure in the Vote Leave.

    Five long months after they were meant to begin their criminal investigation, the police cited “political sensitivities” for their stalled investigation – a claim they later withdrew; but here we are, now over a year later and still no answers.

    Watergate wasn’t about a burglary, it was about a political cover-up…..that was exposed…..don’t hold your breath this time.

    And of course, the reason why the police feel they can take all the time in the world to investigate a matter of immense national importance is that the government have made their position abundantly clear…..the result of that referendum, however obtained, must be implemented.

  187. says

    “Hill push to battle foreign election interference is stuck at McConnell roadblock”:

    Not every Republican agrees with President Trump that foreigners have a role to play in American elections.

    In fact, some GOP senators have joined with Democrats to co-sponsor legislation designed to shore up voting machines and make it harder for foreign intelligence operatives to hack, leak and manipulate social media the way the Russians did in 2016.

    But those bills are going nowhere — because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not allowed a vote on any of them.

    “At this point, I don’t see any likelihood that those bills would get to the floor if we mark them up,” Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who serves under McConnell in the Senate leadership, said last month.

    McConnell himself has avoided commenting directly on the bills. He declined to respond to questions about them at his weekly news conference this week, although he announced that senators would get a briefing on election security….

  188. says

    NYT: “The actress Jessica Biel said she does not oppose vaccination, only state laws that intrude into family decisions about whether to vaccinate.”

    One response: “I don’t oppose driving much too fast, only laws that intrude on personal decisions about whether to speed.”

    Reminded me of this, from the chapter “The People’s Car” in Richard J. Evans’ 2015 The Third Reich in History and Memory (p. 182):

    The automobile, Hitler declared, responded to the individual will, unlike the railway, which had brought ‘individual liberty in transport to an end’. So the new Highway Code [of 1934] abolished all speed restrictions on German roads. The results were catastrophic. In the first six years of the Third Reich the annual figure of deaths on the roads rose to nearly 8,000, with up to 40,000 seriously injured each year, the worst accident rates in Europe (worse even than those of Great Britain, where speed limits had been abolished in 1933 in the belief that Britons would behave on the road like gentlemen – they did not, of course, and speed limits were introduced again in 1934, just as the Germans were abolishing theirs). By May 1939 the Nazi regime had to admit defeat and reimposed speed restrictions on all roads except the motorways, which continue to be without them even today, making them the most terrifying roads to drive on in the whole of Europe.

    (WP says some sections now have speed limits.)

  189. says

    NOW: The DC Circuit rules that the Trump admin. cannot block pregnant, undocumented minors in US custody from obtaining abortions. The court rejects ‘the government’s position that its denial of abortion access can be squared with Supreme Court precedent’.”

  190. says

    New: As President Trump prepares to address the nation at the Lincoln Memorial on the Fourth of July, his administration still owes the D.C. government more than $7 million in security and logistical costs from his inauguration:…”

  191. blf says

    Trump seeks to change how poverty is defined:

    […]
    Senate Democrats […] are warning President [sic] Donald Trump that a proposal to change the way the government determines the national poverty threshold would “undermine the economic security of our country’s most at-risk citizens.”

    […]

    The change, proposed last month in a regulatory filing, would alter how inflation is calculated in the “official poverty measure.” The formula has been used for decades to determine whether people qualify for certain federal programs and benefits.

    The lawmakers also said Congress has repeatedly enacted standards assuming the changes would not be made, and they called on the White House to not “unilaterally lower” standards that would take health coverage and assistance from Americans.

    The measure, first set in the 1960s, is calculated at three times the cost of a minimum food diet and adjusted every year as prices rise. In 2018, a family of four making no more than $25,900 was considered impoverished. […]

    By changing the index, the poverty level could rise at a slower rate.

    One proposal the Office of Management and Budget suggested in the filing is to shift to so-called chained CPI, which regularly shows a slower pace of price gains than traditional measures. Chained CPI shows slower inflation growth because it assumes consumers will substitute less expensive items when prices for specific individual goods increase significantly.

    […]

    Millions of able-bodied, working-age adults continue to collect food stamps without working or even looking for work, Trump said in December. […]

  192. F.O. says

    @SC

    You could just as easily say he or anyone who shared it were giving free advertising to Target (which…OK – they have some good things). […] The likelihood that people following a link from me on this thread are going to be buying anything from the guy, whose identity I’ve already forgotten if I ever took note of it, is vanishingly small. And “Were the rainbows armed?” is just funny.

    I would totally say that they were giving free advertising to Target. ^_^
    It’s an attention economy, Twitter will show stuff with the most traffic, which means it will appear higher to people who actually MIGHT buy that crap.
    I think hbomberguy covered something similar (but on the opposite side of the barricade in his Woke Brands video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06yy88tLWlg )
    But yes, the responses are funny. =)

  193. F.O. says

    (Also, I made my criticism a lot harder than it should have been. It’s not a big deal.)

  194. says

    Just in: Prosecutors and Michael Flynn ask to file another status report on Flynn’s cooperation within 60 days. They say that should be enough time for Flynn to complete his cooperation in the EDVA case re: Turkish lobbying.”

  195. says

    NEWS – the Democratic debate groups

    PURPLE: bernie, harris, biden, buttigieg, bennet, williamson, swalwell gillibrand, yang, hickenlooper

    ORANGE: booker, warren, beto, klobuchar, delaney, tulsi, castro, ryan, de blasio, Inslee

    Orange night – Warren, Beto, etc, goes first
    Purple – the Biden/Bernie/Harris/Pete night, goes second”

  196. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 297:

    […] the reason why the police feel they can take all the time in the world to investigate a matter of immense national importance is that the government have made their position abundantly clear…..the result of that referendum, however obtained, must be implemented.

    Thanks for posting that — such a clear and concise evaluation of the Brexit situation, the investigation, and the stubborn continuation down the wrong road.

  197. says

    SC @288, the name of the pet rabbit made me laugh. Black comedy and corruption everywhere you look: husband throws wife under the bus, wife throws politician husband into the grinding gears of the justice system, and Eggburt gets a taxpayer-funded ride.

  198. says

    From the ABC News interview in which George Stephanopoulos questioned Trump:

    Less than a year after announcing a $3.9 billion makeover for America’s most famous aircraft, President Donald Trump shared never-before-seen images of Air Force One’s prospective redesign on Wednesday during an exclusive interview with ABC News.

    “George, take a look at this,” Trump boasted to ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, as he flashed mock-ups of his vision for the next generation of the presidential aircraft. “Here’s your new Air Force One.” […]

    “We had different choices, here,” Trump said, pointing to images he said he designed himself. “These are all slightly different.”

    ABC link

    From Steve Benen’s analysis of that part of the interview:

    […] [Trump] went on to claim he “got $1.6 billion off the price” of the project – a claim that’s already been proven false many, many times.

    But that’s not the only problem with this story. For example, the exterior colors of the new Air Force One look “remarkably similar to those on his own corporate jet.”

    […] it appears the president, according to his own version of events, has helped choose design elements of the new Air Force One.

    […] White House aides have told a variety of reporters that the key to keeping Trump out of trouble is keeping him busy and distracted. The more [Trump] is focused on paint colors, the less time he’ll have for more dangerous pursuits.

    Link

  199. says

    Followup to SC’s comments 224, 225, and 229.

    Trump is now pushing harder the claim that former White House Counsel Don McGahn lied to Robert Mueller:

    “I don’t care what [McGahn] says, it doesn’t matter,” Trump said.

    “Why would [McGahn] lie under oath?” Stephanopoulos later asked.

    “Because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer,” Trump said. “Or he believed it because I would constantly tell anybody that would listen — including you, including the media — that Robert Mueller was conflicted. Robert Mueller had a total conflict of interest.”

    “And has to go?” Stephanopoulos followed up.

    “I didn’t say that,” Trump insisted.

    Translation: Trump is suggesting that McGahn lied under oath when he spoke to federal investigators.

    […] Naturally, congressional Democrats have some questions about all of this and have subpoenaed McGahn to testify on Capitol Hill. The White House, true to form, has ordered McGahn to ignore that subpoena.

    The result is an extraordinary dynamic in which Trump can speak publicly about McGahn’s testimony to Team Mueller, but McGahn cannot. Trump can also accuse the former White House counsel of making false claims under oath, but McGahn is not in a position to defend himself.

    Link

  200. says

    Another telling detail from Trump’s interview with George Stephanopoulos:

    [Trump said,] “I like the truth. I’m actually a very honest guy.”

    It was his use of the word “actually” that stood out for me. The president must realize on some level that he’s seen as one of the world’s most flamboyantly dishonest people […]

    A day later, NPR’s Steve Inskeep sat down with Peter Navarro, a controversial White House figure who’s helping guide the president’s agenda on trade. The host inquired about Trump’s claims about a secret side deal with Mexico:

    INSKEEP: I do have to ask … about this purported secret agreement. The president says he has one. Mexico says he doesn’t have one. Who’s not telling the truth?

    NAVARRO: The president always tells the truth.

    As best as I can tell, Navarro wasn’t trying to be funny. He actually expects people to believe that Trump is honest. […]

    In a brief exchange with reporters this week, Trump insisted that his secret side deal with Mexico is real. “I just give you my word,” as if his word were still believable.

    It’s against this backdrop that the Trump administration is making a series of provocative accusations about Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other U.S. officials haven’t presented much in the way of proof, but they seem to believe the public can and should have confidence in their claims. […]

    Elections have consequences, but so too does an avalanche of mendacity.

    Link

  201. says

    SC @ 259 and 260, I think the bottom line is that Trump does not know the difference between right and wrong.

    Nancy Pelosi was right about that.

    Furthermore, Trump is incapable of learning the difference between right and wrong.

  202. says

    NEW: Judge Sullivan has ordered everyone in the Michael Flynn case into his courtroom on Wednesday for a status conference. This will be the first time we’ve seen Flynn in court since the contentious sentencing hearing last December.”

    Also, Powell’s not off to an impressive start.

  203. says

    Trump tweeted: “Thank you Senator @MarshaBlackburn for fighting obstructionist Democrats led by Cryin’ Chuck Schumer. Democrats continue to look for a do-over on the Mueller Report and will stop at nothing to distract the American people from the great accomplishments of this Administration!”

    Manu Raju accurately reports: “Trump makes it clear he wants GOP to block legislation requiring campaigns to disclose to FBI offers of foreign assistance.”

    (Others point this out as well, but it’s always worth noting: Trump gave Schumer this nickname after Schumer, discussing the Muslim ban I believe, cried when he referred to his family members who were killed in the Holocaust. Trump’s response was mockery.)

  204. says

    Such intense and unjustified cruelty, such inhumanity:

    Attorneys who visited a Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, Texas, as part of an inspection found that officials there had been illegally jailing a sick, prematurely born one-month-old infant and her 17-year-old mother for days, BuzzFeed News reports. This same facility, known as Ursula, was last year called “the ‘epicenter’ of the Trump administration’s policy that has separated thousands of children from their parents” by an official with the Department of Homeland Security.

    “You look at this baby,” said volunteer Hope Frye, “and there is no question that this baby should be in a tube with a heart monitor.” Instead, the tiny child was wrapped in a sweatshirt and was reportedly “weak and listless.” Her mom, still weak from her emergency C-section in Mexico, was in a wheelchair and hadn’t been able to sleep due to pain.

    They shouldn’t have been there in the first place. “Under federal law, minors are required to be released from Border Patrol custody within 72 hours to officials in the Office of Refugee Resettlement after they are determined to be unaccompanied. Both the 17-year-old mother and her 1-month-old baby are considered unaccompanied minors.” […]

    “Sen. Jeff Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon, called Department of Homeland Security officials Thursday about the case,” BuzzFeed continued. “On Thursday, nine days after attorneys said the mother was taken into Border Patrol custody, the pair were set to be released to an Office of Refugee Resettlement shelter, Frye was told.” Merkley tweeted, “After my emergency call to DHS, they say this family will be released immediately.”

    It’s under this sort of treatment that children die, and children will keep dying unless swift action is taken. […]

    “No child should ever go into Border Patrol custody—they are not equipped to handle it,” Frye continued. “It was never their mission. Congress needs to do something.” About obtaining the family’s freedom, she said, “I don’t know why it took so long. I don’t know. They would still be detained if we hadn’t come across her in the Flores interview. No question in my mind.” How many others are there that we don’t yet know about, and when we do, will it be too late?

    Link

  205. says

    The internal poll that Donald Trump said didn’t exist was just leaked.

    And surprise! The numbers are just as bad for Trump as everyone thought.

    ABC News on Friday published the results of an internal poll conducted by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign in March, a survey that Trump himself denied even existed.

    The poll found Trump trailing Joe Biden by huge margins in states he carried in 2016, including Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In Texas, which has voted for Republican presidents by wide margins for the last 43 years, Trump holds just a two point edge against the former vice president.

    The existence of the poll and its damning findings were first reported by the New York Times earlier this week. It aligns closely with several independent surveys which have consistently found Trump trailing virtually every Democratic presidential contender in head-to-head matchups, findings which Trump himself has repeatedly denied. He also suggested the very existence of internal polling was a fabrication, and when that was proven to be a lie, instructed his staff to deny the results. […]

  206. says

    Trump attacks four of his ‘best people’ in one week

    The man who once claimed he hires only “the best people” sure doesn’t think much of the ones he’s appointed to run the country.

    […] On Friday, Trump attacked a recommendation from the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) that his counselor Kellyanne Conway be removed from office for her repeated violations of the Hatch Act. […]

    His administration had released a statement earlier suggesting that the OSC’s findings “seem to be influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations” and urging that it “be mindful of its own mandate to act in a fair, impartial, non-political manner, and not misinterpret or weaponize the Hatch Act.”

    The OSC, established in 1979 to be an independent agency to investigate and prosecute violations of the Hatch Act and other personnel practice prohibitions, is headed by Henry Kerner, a Trump appointee.

    Trump also attacked Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell this week, accusing him of harming the economy. “Frankly, if we had a different person in the Federal Reserve that wouldn’t have raised interest rates so much, we would have been at least a point and a half higher,” he told ABC News in an interview, adding that he was “not happy with what he’s done.”

    Trump was reminded that he had in fact nominated Powell to the independent monetary policy board, which he acknowledged, adding, “and I disagree with him entirely.” […]

    Trump also attacked FBI Director Christopher Wray, another one of his own appointees, this week. Asked by ABC News about Wray’s suggestion that any campaign contacted by a foreign government or operative trying to influence an election should alert the bureau, Trump declared: “The FBI director is wrong.”

    Last Friday, Trump also went after the leadership of NASA for “talking about going to the Moon [sic],” instead of “Mars (of which the Moon is a part).”

    NASA is run by Administrator Jim Bridenstine, whom Trump appointed. […]

    These attacks on the very people Trump chose, submitted to the Senate, and effectively vouched for, are nothing new.

    In less than two and a half years, Trump has publicly attacked an array of his own appointees, including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. […]

  207. says

    Bloomberg – “Ivanka Trump Made $4 Million From President’s D.C. Hotel”:

    Ivanka Trump made $4 million from her investment in her father’s Washington hotel last year, according to a disclosure released by the White House on Friday.

    She also made at least $1 million from her line of branded apparel, jewelry and other merchandise, down from at least $5 million in the previous year. Trump, 37, announced in July that she was closing her fashion businesses amid controversies over her role in the White House and after some big-name department stores dropped the brand.

    Together, Trump and husband Jared Kushner earned between $28.8 million and $135.1 million in outside income while working as unpaid senior advisers to her father, President Donald Trump, their disclosures, which covers 2018, show.

    The reports, which list the assets and sources of income for Ivanka Trump, her husband and dependent children, have yet to be approved by the White House counsel’s office. They will also be reviewed by the Office of Government Ethics.

    His wife lists assets and income worth between $187.6 million and $786.3 million, the document shows. She provided no value for her shuttered fashion brands, compared with $50 million the year before. The company still holds trademarks in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the European Union and 23 other countries.

    Like her father, Ivanka Trump and her husband retained their ownership in their private businesses when they became White House advisers, a decision that critics say has left them open to conflicts of interest and influence by foreign countries.

    “critics say”

  208. says

    Uh-oh. More bad news related to the U.S.-Mexico border:

    On Friday morning, while celebrating his birthday by calling into Fox & Friends, […] Trump began rattling off the “fantastic people” enforcing his immigration agenda. One name caught the show’s hosts off guard. Trump unexpectedly announced that Thomas Homan, the former head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, was returning to the his administration.

    […] Trump finally got around to saying that Homan will be his new White House “border czar,” a vague but likely influential role that doesn’t currently exist.

    […] Since retiring as ICE’s acting director last June, Homan has used his new incarnation as a Fox contributor to ceaselessly praise Trump and attack Democrats. The appearances have furthered Homan’s shift from a loyal bureaucrat under Barack Obama to Trump’s immigration id […] a knee-jerk Trumpian whom many of his former colleagues struggle to recognize. […]

    Homan will now have more access to the president than ever, as Trump contemplates ever harsher ways to make a dent in the record numbers of families crossing the border. […]

    Unlike ousted Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen or her acting replacement Kevin McAleenan, Homan, a ruddy-faced barrel of a man, will never be accused of being overly polished. And that is just how Trump likes it. Standing before a wall of police officers at a 2017 speech, Trump mused that someone who saw Homan on television thought he looked “very nasty” and “very mean.”

    “I said, ‘That’s what I’m looking for,’” Trump recalled. “’That’s exactly what I was looking for.’” As Mother Jones wrote in a profile last year, Homan, who began his career as a Border Patrol agent in 1984, lived up to that image as ICE’s acting director:

    He has appeared on Fox News to say that politicians who limit cooperation with ICE should be charged with crimes and has staged retaliatory operations against their cities in the meantime. ICE arrests were up 41 percent last year and 171 percent among people without criminal records. ICE is now pursuing even the most sympathetic undocumented immigrants. That is part of Homan’s goal. Testifying before Congress last year, he warned, “If you’re in this country illegally…you should be uncomfortable. You should look over your shoulder, and you need to be worried.”

    […]

    Link

    I am worried.

  209. says

    Bill Browder: “BREAKING: A massive spontaneous wave of support for @NVeselnitskaya in the US from dozens of newly registered young women on Twitter with zero followers has just emerged. Who would have thought”

    Several just turned up in a thread about the Bailey Warren thing @ #328. One asked if “they” were planning a “helicopter crash” for Natalia Veselnitskaya. Weird.

  210. says

    Attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya of Trump Tower meeting fame has apparently developed a fan club in the form of Twitter accounts with no followers who love to sing her praises to a variety of celebrity accounts.

    Over the past three days, 332 accounts with zero followers, zero followees, and zero likes have posted English tweets mentioning Veselnitskaya. They were created in batches starting Feb 2019; early ones have Russian names, switching to English May 13th. None have over 200 tweets.

    Many (possibly all) of the accounts use profile pics ‘borrowed’ from elsewhere on the Internet. We had a great deal of trouble reverse-searching them on Google, but curiously they came up quite readily on Russian search engine Yandex.

    What do these accounts tweet about? Veselnitskaya, Veselnitskaya, and more Veselnitskaya. They don’t show much creativity, either – the same tweets are repeated hundreds of times across the accounts in the network, strongly suggesting automation at work.

    Finally, who do these 332 accounts reply to with their pro-Veselnitskaya missives? A mix of celebrities, journalists, and pop culture accounts, by and large. One 2020 US presidential candidate does make the top 30: @TulsiGabbard.”

  211. says

    How the Trump administration is using 9/11 to build a case for war with Iran

    The case is legally dubious and factually challenged.

    […] top officials continue to make statements that could pave a dubiously legal and factually challenged pathway to war. […]

    […] Trump and some of his top officials have claimed Iran and al-Qaeda, the terrorist group that launched the 9/11 terror attacks, are closely linked. That’s been a common refrain despite evidence showing their ties aren’t strong at all. In fact, even al-Qaeda’s own documents detail the weak connection between the two.

    But insisting there’s a nefarious, continual relationship matters greatly. In 2001, Congress passed an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), allowing the president “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.”

    Which means that if the Trump administration truly believes Iran and al-Qaeda have been in cahoots before or after 9/11, then it could claim war with Tehran already is authorized by law.

    That chilling possibility was raised during a House Armed Services Committee session […]

    […] “We were absolutely presented with a formal presentation on how the AUMF might authorize war on Iran,” […]

    It doesn’t help that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, an anti-Iran hardliner, told lawmakers behind closed doors in May that he felt Americans would support a war with Tehran if the US or its allies were attacked, congressional sources familiar with that conversation told me.

    The Trump administration already blames Iran for multiple attacks on oil tankers in a strategic Middle Eastern waterway, including two Thursday on Japanese- and Norwegian-owned vessels. […]

    the administration labeled Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps […] as a “foreign terrorist organization.” That means if evidence surfaced of IRGC members working with al-Qaeda operatives, it’d be easier to say a terror group is aiding another terror group.

    And in the same Thursday speech in which Pompeo blamed Iran for attacks on two oil tankers this week, he listed off a series of assaults he said were “instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its surrogates against American and allied interests.” One of them was a May 31 car bombing in Afghanistan that slightly wounded four US troops and killed Afghan civilians. The Taliban, which controlled Afghanistan and harbored al-Qaeda prior to the 9/11 attacks, took responsibility for the bombing.

    Pompeo thus linked Iran with the Taliban’s plot without providing any evidence. […]

    More at the link.

  212. says

    Neera Tanden: “House Dems should zero out appropriations for the Attorney General’s personal office. The DoJ doesn’t work for the public. They are Trump’s personal lawyers. My taxes shouldn’t pay for this.”

    “This” is a 33-page DoJ memo attempting to justify Mnuchin’s illegal refusal to turn over Trump’s tax returns.

    I agree. There was a lot of talk several weeks ago about them using the “power of the purse,” but I don’t think they’ve done it or even talked about it publicly.

  213. says

    SC @330, transparent propaganda, mixed with enough incompetence to make it laughable. Sounds like one of Trump’s “best people.” In that sense, Veselnitskaya fits in.

  214. says

    Update – “Hong Kong leader suspends extradition bill amid protest pressure”:

    Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, has suspended indefinitely efforts to pass a controversial new extradition law, after a week of mass protests and street violence put heavy pressure on the city’s leaders.

    But in a defensive press conference, the chief executive insisted her only errors were of communication, defending the much-criticised bill as vital to Hong Kong’s security and promising to relaunch an improved version after further consultation.

    Speaking out after three days of silence, and on the eve of another major protest march called for Sunday, Lam repeatedly described herself as “heartbroken” and admitted that the bill had “caused a lot of division” in Hong Kong.

    She denied that the abrupt reversal – reportedly made after meeting one of China’s most powerful leaders on Friday – was aimed at warding off further chaos, after hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to oppose the law.

    “The decision I made is not about pacifying people or, as some have said, restoring my damaged reputation,” Lam said, repeatedly brushing off questions about whether she planned to resign.

    Hong Kong was plunged into crisis by government attempts to ram the law through the territory’s legislature. Hundreds of thousands of protesters thronged the city’s streets this week to oppose it, with police brutality and government intransigence adding to public outrage.

    But opposition leaders are worried that the shift is a tactical retreat, aimed at buying time to intimidate or demoralise opponents. There have already been reports of arrests of people in hospitals as they sought treatment, and of digital activists.

    “I think the government is trying to defuse the movement,” said Baggio Leung, an activist and politician who was barred from taking up a seat in the legislature after holding up a sign saying “Hong Kong is not a part of China”.

    He added that the protest on Sunday would go ahead, and the movement would continue until the extradition law was permanently taken off the table, but he was worried about the chilling effect of mass prosecutions.

    With the legislature due to go on summer recess in July, any attempt to take up the legislative process again will not be until autumn at the earliest. “[Lam] is buying time for herself and her pro-Beijing pals,” said Kenneth Chan, a professor in the department of government at Hong Kong Baptist University.

    “The plan aims to reduce turnout at the protest, so the government can wait for a more propitious moment to try again, perhaps after local elections in November, when students will be back at school,” Chan added.

    Lam and officials in Beijing appear to have decided the political cost of temporary retreat will be less than that of further confrontation….

  215. says

    Slate – “Top Trump Census Official Communicated With GOP Operative About Citizenship Question”:

    On May 30, the plaintiffs challenging the Trump administration’s census citizenship question dropped a bombshell: A central portion of the Justice Department’s rationale for the question was apparently written by Thomas Hofeller, the GOP’s longtime gerrymandering mastermind. In a 2015 study, Hofeller wrote that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census would be “advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic Whites” and “a disadvantage to the Democrats.” He also explained how Republicans could justify inserting a citizenship question by claiming, falsely, that it would aid enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Multiple passages in Hofeller’s study appeared verbatim in the 2017 Justice Department letter that provided a legal rationale for the question’s addition. This new evidence, the plaintiffs argued, proved that the Trump administration’s real reason for adding the citizenship question was to boost white, Republican voting power.

    The Justice Department responded with indignant denial. It insisted that the plaintiffs could not link Hofeller to the Commerce Department (which oversees the Census Bureau), Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, or the Census Bureau itself. Thus, the plaintiffs lacked proof that Hofeller’s study played any role in the development on the citizenship question.

    On Friday night, however, voting rights advocates released new evidence connecting Hofeller directly to the Census Bureau. The evidence comes from Hofeller’s hard drives, which his daughter gave to a voting rights group after his death. It reveals that Christa Jones, current chief of staff to Census Bureau deputy director Ron Jarmin, personally communicated with Hofeller, emailing him about the citizenship question in 2015—months before Hofeller authored the study explaining how the question would benefit white voters and disadvantage non-white ones.* Jones played a key role in the creation of the citizenship question, so these emails seem to disprove the administration’s claims that Hofeller had nothing to do with the manipulation of the census.

    The plaintiffs filed this evidence with the U.S. District Court of Maryland, one of three courts that had blocked the question before the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over the dispute. Judge George Hazel found that the question ran afoul of the Administrative Procedure Act and the Constitution’s enumeration clause, but he did not find evidence of discriminatory animus in violation of equal protection and civil rights laws. The plaintiffs on Friday urged Hazel to reopen the case in light of these emails linking Hofeller to the Census Bureau.

    On June 12, the House Oversight Committee’s Republicans tweeted that “[o]fficials involved in the decision” to add the citizenship question “never heard of Hofeller.” But the Hofeller files demonstrate that, to the contrary, a high-ranking official who endorsed the citizenship question had a close relationship with Hofeller and had even discussed the citizenship question with him. And this information comes on the heels of the revelation that Hofeller’s own words appear verbatim in a critical DOJ document that attempted to justify the question with a transparently pretextual argument.

    It is increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to believe that Hofeller played no role in the insertion of the citizenship question. The Supreme Court is set to rule on the question’s legality by the end of the month; it cannot ignore this mounting evidence of bad faith and deception without undermining its own legitimacy.

    More at the link.

  216. says

    TNR – “The Man Who Was Upset: Making sense of Donald Trump’s petulant reign.”

    …Trump himself also believed that politics were something that happened on television—an abstract performance of grievance and confrontation and inchoate anger that resets every morning and gets more interesting during even-numbered years. He’s never known it to be anything else, and even after nearly two and a half years in the White House he still can’t quite understand it as anything but that….

    Trump is prone to asking questions he doesn’t know the answer to on Twitter—wondering after the connections between the various obscure figures in the sprawling conspiracy against him and his success, which both succeeded to a criminal degree and failed miserably, and which is still ongoing or defeated and primed for prosecution. He’s going to make the things stop until he can figure out what’s going on; he’s going to stop doing the things that are confusing and don’t seem to be working and start doing the simpler things that will work; he’s going to get to the bottom of these horrible things that people keep hinting at.
…

    Needs to be read in full. Some wonderful phrases, like “a being of pure Foxian grievance.”

  217. says

    The part in #336 about how the media covers Trump brought to mind the scene in 7 Days in Hell when a player has a threesome with two streakers on the court at Wimbledon in the middle of a match.

  218. says

    Followup to comment 327.

    Tom Homan said no thanks to Trump’s offer of the newly invented job of “Border Czar.” This is another tale of incompetence and poor planning, (or an entire lack of planning), on Trump’s part.

    Former acting Immigrations and Customs Enforcement head Tom Homan said on Saturday that he wouldn’t be accepting the position of “border czar” in the Trump administration, despite President Donald Trump’s announcement on Friday.

    Homan, who is now a Fox News contributor, appeared on Fox News’ “Cavuto Live” on Saturday to clear the air.

    “I think the White House has made it clear it was kind of premature,” Homan said, likely referring to a Friday CNN report on the confusion.

    Homan, who previously served as Trump’s acting ICE chief, told Fox News host Neil Cavuto that he turned down the czar job when former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen offered it to him because he “didn’t think the job was structured right” and “didn’t have the proper authority.”

    “I think any sort of border czar needs to be a person who can coordinate an all-government response to the border,” Homan said. “So when I first had the discussions, that wasn’t the way it was set up and I certainly don’t want to come back and fail this President.”

    “I don’t think they should create another policy position that’s not going to have an effectiveness on this border, so as of right now, I have not accepted the job, but the discussions will continue,” he added.

    During a freewheeling “Fox and Friends” interview on Friday, Trump announced that Homan would serve as the border czar and be “very much involved in the border.”

    However, the President seemingly forgot to inform Homan himself, who was taken aback by the announcement. […]

    TPM link

  219. Pierce R. Butler says

    The linked story in SC’s # 334 has already undergone some alterations, such as the removal of the ‘grafs quoting and paraphrasing Baggio Leung. I know there could exist explanations other than the Grauniad learning that Beijing feels extra-sensitive about that name, but still have to wonder…

  220. says

    SC @340, I’m scratching Joe Biden off my list of acceptable candidates. I will only vote for him if he is the only choice opposing Trump.

    Ditto for Tulsi Gabard and Marianne Williamson.

  221. blf says

    Follow-up to @184, Saudis say Shia teenager will not be executed:

    Murtaja Qureiris reportedly faced execution for offences including participating in protests when he was 10 years old.

    A young man from Saudi Arabia’s minority Shia Muslim community who was arrested at the age of 13 will not be executed and could be released by 2022, a Saudi official told Reuters news agency after reports of his pending execution.

    Murtaja Qureiris, who was detained in September 2014, received an initial 12-year prison sentence with time served since his arrest and four years suspended for his young age, according to the official […]

    […]

    The report then goes on to describe Saudi Arabia’s dire human rights record.

  222. blf says

    Not overtly political, First Palestinian museum in Washington DC, opens:

    Museum of the Palestinian People will exhibit artwork, cultural documentation from Palestinian contributors worldwide.

    The first Palestinian museum in Washington DC, is set to open on Saturday [yesterday –blf], exhibiting artwork and historical and cultural documentation of Palestine through contributions from Palestinians around the world.

    The Museum of the Palestinian People (MPP), with the motto “Many Stories, One Heart ” features two sections. The temporary exhibit currently holds work from five artists with the theme “Reimagining a Future”. The permanent exhibition, curated by Nada Odeh, depicts the history and culture of the Palestinian people […]

    […]

    [… T]he permanent museum exhibits document the history of Palestine.

    “We want this exhibit focusing on the stories of the people and to tell how Palestine was before and how it’s now,” said Odeh, the curator. “Not from the political side but from the people’s side: what the people are doing what they’re accomplishing in their lives — in the US, or Palestine, or Israeli territory, all the combinations. That’s very important to reflect.”

    […]

    Many more details at the link.

  223. blf says

    No, this is not brexit and the looming disaster with the N.Ireland–Ireland border (albeit there may be a brexit connection?), Ireland has quietly joined a dangerous war:

    […] After Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, the [Irish] Government quietly announced that it plans to send about a dozen members of the Army Ranger Wing — the State’s special forces — to Mali to join a counter-terrorism operation widely regarded as the most dangerous United Nations mission in the world. I use quietly advisedly: oddly, given the stakes involved, no Government Minister has since said a word in public to explain why it took the decision.

    The UN force, known by its acronym Minusma, is made up of more than 15,000 military and police personnel from 50 countries. With an annual budget of $1 billion and covering a vast swathe of largely lawless desert in the Sahel, it is the third biggest ongoing UN peacekeeping operation. It’s also the deadliest: in the past five years, 177 peacekeepers have been killed, including 16 so far this year, by gun attacks, homemade car bombs and improvised explosive devices.

    [… The] 11,000-strong UN mission arrived in 2013 with the task of protecting a fragile peace deal and training the Malian army. But Islamist factions were regrouping and spreading across the region. Before long their guerrilla war had a new target: the peacekeepers.

    For the UN, which found itself hopelessly unprepared for the situation it would face on the ground, Mali has evolved into a new type of mission — one that more closely resembles the counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan than the ceasefire-monitoring missions Irish troops have traditionally joined. For the first time, a big UN peacekeeping mission has been tasked with helping a state retake control over territory controlled by terrorist groups. Minusma’s mandate empowers it to engage in “direct operations”, including joint operations with the Malian military, and is supported by advanced hardware such as short-range drones and attack helicopters.

    […]

    [… T]he Government seems remarkably reticent about explaining the thinking behind a decision it has already taken. The news was announced this week at an off-record media briefing. No press release issued from the Government Information Service, the Department of Defence or the Defence Forces, and the only official comments have come via unattributed background briefings for which nobody can be held accountable.

    […]

    The move also suits the Government politically: France, a key player in the Brexit process, specifically appealed to European governments this week to send special forces to Mali to help contain a recent rise in attacks. And at a time when Ireland is intensifying its campaign for a seat on the UN Security Council in 2021–2022, the deployment provides a useful sign of solidarity not only with Mali but with the whole of francophone west Africa, which supplies the largest contingents of troops to Minusma — and where Ireland, without a single embassy, has a shallow diplomatic footprint.

    This is potentially a very big deal in Ireland. Ireland has been a long-time participant in UN peacekeeping missions — the Irish Army had a UN peacekeeping assignment in S.Lebanon for something like 30 years — which, combined with their official neutral status (e.g., Ireland is not a Nato member), is generally seen as a good thing. A more combat-like role has a very distinct possibility of not going down well at all. (Irish people who really want go get shot at can join the British (NKofE) Army.)

    As the article notes (redacted), the decision has to be discussed in the Dáil (Irish Parliament), so presumably more details about what is going on, and why, will become publicly known (and accountable).

  224. says

    Trump also retweeted Katie Hopkins yesterday as part of his attack on Sadiq Khan.

    Today is the third anniversary of the assassination of Jo Cox. I found this by Caroline Lucas:

    “To remember Jo Cox, we must wrest control from Farage and Johnson – and embed compassion in our politics”:

    Three years on from the terrible murder of Jo Cox and, though it pains me to say it, little about our political culture has changed. Memorials have been held and vigils observed, but the culture has, if anything, got worse.

    Only two weeks ago Britain rolled out the red carpet for Donald Trump: a racist, sexist misogynist whose values could not stand in greater contrast to the ones that Jo championed. In the first round of the Conservative leadership election, a man who referred to Muslim women wearing the veil as “letterboxes” and black people as “piccaninnies” secured more votes than the next three candidates combined. Nigel Farage’s stoking of xenophobia and division continues to gain traction.

    As politicians we owe it to Jo, to her family, and to the people of Britain, to do better than this.

    We can, of course – we have before. Over the past 50 years, we’ve seen the introduction of far-reaching laws on equality and anti-discrimination, and the inclusion of millions of people from other countries who have made Britain their home and enriched our society. Prejudices that were once common are far less prevalent, even though they haven’t disappeared completely.

    At this pivotal moment in Britain’s history, those of us who believe in a better society must come together as friends and allies, find common ground, and wrench the story of our future out of the hands of Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson. We must seek out the values that unite us and place them at the heart of the arguments we make and the policies we propose.

    In Jo’s life she sought to build bridges, dignify our politics and magnify the lives of the most isolated and vulnerable. In the ever more polarised politics of today, it’s even more urgent that we remember her lessons and build on her example.

    More at the link.

  225. says

    Bloomberg – “Trump Delayed Pence’s Tiananmen Square Speech in Hopes of Landing Xi Meeting”:

    Vice President Mike Pence was set to deliver a speech criticizing China’s human rights record on June 4, the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre — until Donald Trump stepped in.

    The president delayed the speech to avoid upsetting Beijing ahead of a potential meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 meeting in Japan at the end of this month, according to several people familiar with the matter. Trump also put off U.S. sanctions on Chinese surveillance companies that Pence planned to preview in his remarks.

    The speech was tentatively rescheduled for June 24, just days before the Osaka summit. But with Beijing signaling that Xi might not agree to a meeting, there is now debate within the administration about when Pence should deliver the speech and how hard he should be on the Chinese….

  226. says

    ABC This Week: “JUST IN: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to @jonkarl: ‘I think every day that passes, the pressure to impeach grows and I think that it’s justifiable, I think the evidence continues to come in’.”

  227. says

    Elizabeth Warren: “Dana Martin. Ashanti Carmon. Claire Legato. Muhlaysia Booker. Paris Cameron. Michelle ‘Tamika’ Washington. Chynal Lindsey. Jazzaline Ware. Chanel Scurlock. And now Zoe Spears. The murder of Black trans women is a crisis. We’ll fight this, and we will continue to say their names.”

  228. blf says

    This is amusing. The article, stuffed full of woo-woo / credulity, claims — and this does seem plausible — that the healing crystals fraud is facing a backlash because the source of many of the “crystals” (in quotes because I suspect many of them are fakes) seem to use slave labour and other unethical practices, Are crystals the new blood diamonds? Some less-credulous excerpts:

    [… W]hile it’s claimed crystals help people harness the energy of the earth [vigorous eyerolls! –blf], the more they are mined, the more that earth is suffering. Here is the dirty truth of crystals, and it’s not simply that their efficacy as healing objects is unproven. It’s that, as Emily Atkin at The New Republic reported last year, their origins are murky, and their environmental impact worrying. Much like diamonds, crystal mining is an industry buried in conflict. There are issues around sustainability: crystals are a non-renewable resource. There are issues around labour: most jobs are low paid, unsafe, and sometimes performed by underage workers. And there is an issue around accountability: the industry is unregulated, allowing exploitation to go unchecked.

    […]

    A slow change is rumbling. A petition demanding [Gwyneth] Paltrow’s Goop sell only ethically sourced crystals runs at almost 17,000 names, under the line, “No amount of sage can get rid of the bad vibes that come from human exploitation and environmental destruction.” The growing number of people who use crystals, whether to detoxify, reduce anxiety, or decorate iPhones must acknowledge their healing crystals are likely to have contributed to human trauma or environmental destruction.

    If more people knew this, wouldn’t they begin rocking the boat? Campaigning as we have with food and fashion, people could start asking questions, demanding transparency about a crystal’s origins, about the conditions of the mine, and the route it took to arrive in their warming hand. Because the power of a healing crystal is nothing compared with the power of a hundred thousand crystal buyers closing their purses. […]

    The petition, which seems to be (it wasn’t linked-to in the article) Demand Goop Sell Ethically-Sourced Healing Crystals!, appears to be closed now. Whilst well-intentioned, it only touches on some of the problems (“child labor [and] contaminating local water supplies” — with another amusing snark, “no amount of reiki excuses [Gwyneth Paltrow & Goop]’s complicity in that abuse”).

  229. blf says

    SC@356, Another reviewer’s take on HBO’s Chernobyl, The truth about Chernobyl? I saw it with my own eyes… :

    Kim Willsher reported on the world’s worst nuclear disaster from the Soviet Union. HBO’s TV version only scratches the surface, she says

    […]

    The Chernobyl miniseries is a compelling account of how the disaster unfolded, based largely on the testimony of those present, most of whom died soon afterwards. It rings true but only scratches the surface of another, more cruel reality — that, in their desperation to save face, the Soviets were willing to sacrifice any number of men, women and children. Even as radiation spewed out of the plant from the burning reactor core, local people told John and me how they had seen Communist apparatchiks in the area spirit their families to safety in Moscow while the residents were being urged to carry on as if nothing had happened. In Pripyat, the satellite city built for Chernobyl workers, windows were left open, children played outside, and gardeners dug their allotments.

    […]

    Many doctors insisted there had been a spike in the number of cancers and leukemias. Children had been born with rare deformities including “frogs’ legs”, their hips twisted outwards. Others had heart defects, and thyroid cancers thought to have been caused by radioactive iodine.

    Yet officials insisted that all this was poor food and poverty and unrelated to Chernobyl.

    In bare, prison-like hospitals, parents would thrust children at us and beg us to take them to the UK or plead for medicines or money for medicines. Oncologists told us they were so short of chemotherapy drugs they would give one sick child half a protocol and another the other half, condemning both. Yet officials would say it was anecdotal evidence and nothing to do with Chernobyl. […]

    […]

    Today, 33 years on, Vladimir Putin has dismissed the TV miniseries as US misinformation and reportedly said Russia will make its own “version” blaming the CIA. Like radiation, Kremlin propaganda has a long half-life.

  230. says

    Indivisible:

    We are focused on removing these 8 GOP Senators in 2020:

    Lindsey Graham (SC)
    Cory Gardner (CO)
    Martha McSally (AZ)
    Thom Tillis (NC)
    Susan Collins (ME)
    David Perdue (GA)
    Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS)
    Mitch McConnell (KY)

    Who else should we add to the list?

  231. blf says

    We are focused on removing these 8 GOP Senators in 2020 […] Who else should we add to the list?

    Oh for feck’s sake, EVERY THUG!, be them senator or dog catcher.

  232. blf says

    Somewhat related to SC@352, Hungary eyes science research as latest target for state control:

    […]
    The Hungarian government is moving to bring the country’s umbrella scientific research organisation under its control, in what scientists in the country and globally say would be an unprecedented assault on academic freedoms.

    […]

    The country’s Academy of Sciences appears to be the latest target for increased state control. The academy consists of a society of distinguished scientists and intellectuals, alongside a broad research network of 15 institutes and 150 research groups comprising about 3,000 scientific researchers.

    The government’s plan would separate these institutes from the main academy, and create a governing board in which government-appointed delegates would have a majority. Parliament, which is dominated by [Viktor] Orbán’s Fidesz party, is currently debating the bill. It is expected to be passed and come into force by 1 September.

    […]

    Scientists at the academy […] believe the move is punishment for criticism of the Orbán government made by social science researchers.

    “We were never afraid to criticise the government if research showed policies that were problematic,” said Emese Szilágyi, who coordinates an institute representing researchers at the academy. “The illiberal government here has reorganised many sectors already and it’s clear that this attack against the academy fits into a chain of events.”

    […]

    László Lovász, a mathematician and the president of the academy, said there was a misunderstanding about the role of social sciences among government figures, and said criticism was legitimate if evidence-based research ended up suggesting government policy was flawed.

    […]

    [Lovász] said trust had been eroded by the aggressive and “improper” way in which the government had conducted negotiations with the academy. He said the initial decision to reorganise the academy’s finances was communicated by email a year ago, and the academy was given just 54 minutes in which to respond.

    Antonio Loprieno, the president of the European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities, said it was acceptable for a government to set broad parameters for research spending, but the Hungarian law was clearly aimed at giving the government “an inappropriate level of detail” in control over research.

    Loprieno said the Hungarian government’s moves were unprecedented in an EU country and a worrying sign of what might be tried by governments elsewhere. […]

    Also related, albeit in the States (and an entry on teh alls teh bester peoples toilet roll), White House physicist sought aid of rightwing thinktank to challenge climate science:

    […]
    A member of the Trump administration’s National Security Council has sought help from advisers of a conservative thinktank to challenge the reality of a human-induced climate crisis, a trove of his emails show.

    William Happer, a physicist appointed by the White House to counter the federal government’s own climate science, reached out to the Heartland Institute, one of the most prominent groups to dispute that burning fossil fuels is causing dangerous global heating, in March [2019].

    In the messages […] Happer and the Heartland adviser Hal Doiron discuss Happer’s scientific arguments in a paper attempting to knock down the concept of climate emergency, as well as ideas to make the work more useful to a wider readership. Happer writes he had already discussed the work with another Heartland adviser, Thomas Wysmuller.

    The emails […] also show Happer’s dismay that Jim Bridenstine, the Nasa administrator, had come round to accepting the science of climate breakdown.

    […]

    Happer has argued that carbon dioxide emissions actually benefit the planet rather than drive harmful climate disruption, once claiming that carbon dioxide has been demonized much like “the poor Jews under Hitler”.

    The physicist was previously a leader and co-founder of an advocacy group called the CO2 Coalition that received money from far-right organizations and fossil fuel interests such as the Mercer Family Foundation and the Charles Koch Institute.

    […]

    The Trump administration has recently ramped up its efforts to muzzle its own scientists from acknowledging the reality of the climate crisis. Last month, the White House barred a state department official from giving written testimony to Congress that the climate emergency was “possibly catastrophic”. The testimony of the official, Rod Schoonover, was critiqued by Happer but the state department refused his suggestions to remove references to harm caused by global heating.

    “These people are endangering all of us by promoting anti-science in service of fossil fuel interests over the American interests,” [said] Michael Mann […]

  233. blf says

    Current-day Scouting in the place formerly known as the UK is apparently a fairly different beast that in the States, Scouting for girls gives group its biggest boost in years:

    […]
    A boys-only club for decades, it’s now girls like Florence who are shaping the scouts’ future — joining at a rate six times faster than boys. A record 187,000 girls have swelled the ranks of beavers, cubs and scouts — nearly a third of members — and there is a waiting list of thousands more.

    It was only 12 years ago that the scouts made it compulsory to accept girls. For Florence’s fathers, the scouts was a deliberate choice. “We don’t like the idea of gender segregation,” Nigel says. “It doesn’t happen in the real world. We gave her the choice, but Florence said she wanted to go to a club with girls and boys.”

    Chief scout Bear Grylls says people who only know the scouts of old would be surprised by how much it has changed. “We’ve come a long way since Scouting for Boys,” he says.

    The big influx of girls is partly because scouting is now basing itself in community centres and schools, […]

    Scouts certainly weren’t on the radar of most Muslim people because it was regarded as an organisation for white middle-class boys. But once families realised it was open and affordable — they charge £2.50 [c.$3.15] a week — children came in great numbers. […]

    Girls have been the revelation, though. Hussain says they make up more than 70% of members, and there’s a waiting list that would double their size. “We’re really girl-heavy. It’s amazing” […]

    Hussain believes scouts have made the whole community more sociable and cohesive. It is having an impact on school life too, she says. “The teachers tell us it’s really obvious which children go to scouts because they’re more independent and very good at problem solving.”

    […]

    Related, Scouts march back into Britain’s inner cities as membership soars.

  234. says

    SC @351:

    “In ABC interview, Trump claims ‘yes I did’ read the Mueller report.”
    Transcript at the link. A river of lies.

    If it were true that Trump read the Mueller report, why did he tell George Stephanopoulos that the report says, “no collusion”? The report most definitely does not say that.

  235. says

    blf:

    Oh for feck’s sake, EVERY THUG!, be them senator or dog catcher.

    Well, only some in the Senate are up for re-election in 2020 (someone provides a list in the responses), and organizations have to focus their resources where they think they’ll be most effective. The consensus favorite to add to the list seems to be Cornyn.

  236. blf says

    The Grauniad’s snark machine cuts to the point, so to speak, about a well-intentioned scheme to address a serious problem, but which could be from Monty Python, Blunt knives to stop domestic violence? What next — stab vests in the kitchen?:

    […]
    Nottinghamshire police have been defending a new scheme to distribute blunt-ended knives to victims of domestic abuse. But some cooks are unconvinced by assurances from the force’s knife-crime strategy manager, Supt Matt McFarlane, that the utensils won’t compromise standards of food preparation. Has he really considered knife skills, in the round?

    The last time a similar innovation was proposed, rather persuasively, by three doctors in the BMJ, the late chef Anthony Bourdain considered it “another sign of the coming apocalypse”. And that roundly derided scheme was devised not with domestic stabbing in mind, but with armed young men with neither an obvious interest in, nor much opportunity for, home cooking. Isn’t that reason enough to rethink a plan that encourages women to cohabit with psychopaths whose suspicions, thanks to a new blunt knife, they may have alerted? Isn’t there a better case for free stab vests, for wear during cooking and whenever a known assailant might be around, in or out of the house? You can’t be too careful. As the Nottingham police and crime commissioner, one Paddy Tipping, said last week of the blunt knives project: “It is an excellent initiative. Some research shows that women are attacked around 19 times before they leave their home.”

    Assuming his force can justify the threat to domestic carving, there remains the possibility that blunt knives might not offer victims as much protection as, for instance, the containment of domestic aggression following one or two, instead of 19 attacks. True, sharp instruments are used, to judge by one report, in 47.4% of murders of women. But an investigation by Vice into murder cases where the killers had already been reported by partners suggests, given the range of weaponry, that police might find utensil-based crime prevention even more of a struggle than supporting victims.

    […]

    The challenges of a blade-focused approach to domestic violence may not, admittedly, be insurmountable, particularly for a force so willing to think outside the box or, in this case, the knife drawer. The additional removal of glassware, scissors, razors, corrosive cleaning agents, axes, stones and of all furniture other than soft furnishings — or their replacement with inflatable items — is probably a no-brainer. But still inadequate. As Jessica Eaton, founder of Victim Focus, noted last week: “Anything is a weapon, you morons.”

    […] It can only be a further burden for law enforcers, when, in the same way as gang, drug or race crime, domestic homicide is understood as a societal blight that demands sustained intervention, as opposed to hundreds of tragic-relationships-coincidentally-gone-femicidally-wrong. But to judge by Nottingham’s outrageous proposal, that time seems comfortably far off.

    The letters to the BMJ (see link embedded in above excerpt) about the earlier suggestion are, on the whole, wonderful. One example:

    The point is that these knives are culinary tools.They are designed and used in a culinary environment.

    The violent use of these tools is not a normal function. It is aberrant behaviour. The removal of the tool will only lead to the missuse of another tool.

    Correcting the aberrant behaviour will remove the problem and not inconveniance the vast majority of the populace.

    One seemingly cannot draw much of an analogy to guns in the States. Unlike kitchen knives, most guns have no other purpose than the one to which they are put — killing people — so there is much more to the States gun problem than misuse of a “tool”.

  237. says

    Comments from Pete Buttigieg:

    2020 Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg blasted President Donald Trump on Sunday morning for his comments about accepting dirt on a political opponent from a foreign nation.

    “It’s both unbelievable and all too believable,” Buttigieg told “State of the Union” host Jake Tapper. “It is morally wrong, legally wrong, politically wrong.”

    “You don’t accept help from foreign governments, especially at a moment when America is reeling from the fact that our democracy was successfully attacked and interfered with in the last election by a hostile foreign power,” he continued. “If you get an offer of material help from a foreign government, you call the FBI. This shouldn’t be difficult, this shouldn’t be complicated.” […]

    Link

  238. says

    Sigh. More Republicans voicing support for Trump accepting dirt from foreign nations: Representative Christ Stewart, a Republican from Utah, and a member of the House Intelligence Committee is one of those guys.

    […] When CNN host Jim Sciutto asked Stewart if a sitting U.S. president should accept information from a foreign country that was intended to influence the election, the GOP lawmaker kept saying that “it depends.”

    “It depends on who it is and the circumstances and how credible it is,” Stewart told Scuitto.

    “There might be valuable information that comes from one of our allies,” he said. “If they look at it, and it’s credible, I think it would be foolish not to take that information.”

    […] Trump caused a firestorm on Wednesday when he told ABC News reporter George Stephanopoulos that he’d welcome dirt from a foreign country on his 2020 opponent, saying that it was merely “oppo research.”

    “I think you might want to listen, there isn’t anything wrong with listening,” Trump said. […]

    From the readers comments:

    “There might be valuable information that comes from one of our allies,” he said. “If they look at it, and it’s credible, I think it would be foolish not to take that information.”

    Then he should be fine with the Steele Dossier. And something tells me he’s not.
    ———————-
    “Also, if a foreign nation offers you a bribe, like bailing out your son-in-law’s albatross real estate investment, it depends on who it is and the circumstances.”
    ———————
    If any legitimate intelligence agency from any of our allies had information about an America citizen they should turn it over to OUR intelligence, not the president.
    ———————–
    GPS Fusion is an American research company, and they hired the British ex-spy Steele. And most importantly, Steele was so disturbed by his findings that he went to the FBI.
    ———————-
    “You have to understand Jim, we’re completely out of ideas and have no will to deal with any of the problems facing the American citizens who pay our salaries. So we have to cheat, there is no other way.”

  239. says

    More Republicans, like Senator Tom Cotton from Arkansas, are jumping on the let’s-go-to-war bandwagon.

    The usual suspects beat Iran war drums on Sunday shows

    Tom Cotton is ready to get his war on.

    […] “Iran for 40 years has engaged in these kinds of attacks, going back to the 1980s, and in fact Ronald Reagan had to re-flag a lot of vessels going through the Persian Gulf and ultimately take military action against Iran in 1988,” Cotton said Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation. “These unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike.”

    […] The bellicose senator has long been eager to see American weapons blow up parts of the country his interventionist predecessors targeted for a coup almost seventy years ago. And he is far from alone in leaping at the latest tanker explosions as vindication of a conclusion he’d already arrived at long before they occurred.

    But the very alacrity with which Cotton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and […] Trump have moved to assert that Iran is definitively behind the tanker incidents should be reason for others to pump the brakes. And experts outside the administration have reservations about the conclusive way this information is being portrayed — not least because there are multiple other international actors who might love to trick the U.S. into attacking Iran.

    “There are at least three other countries that have the capacity and certainly the motive to frame Iran, or if not to frame Iran at least to exacerbate further tensions with Iran and between Iran and the US,” former CIA officer and Center for Security Studies fellow Paul Pillar told the BBC on Saturday. “I’m referring specifically to Iran’s cross-Gulf rivals, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and certainly Israel as well. All of those governments have an incentive to keep Iran ostracized, punished, loathed, and to preclude anything that could look like a rapprochement between Washington and Tehran.” […]

    The night-vision footage released by the U.S. shows a vessel consistent with some of those used by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. It seems to show people aboard that small ship removing some sort of object from the hull of the Kokuka Courageous. But the U.S. assertions that the ship and crew were Iranian military, and that the object was a limpet mine, require at least modest leaps beyond what the publicly available intelligence has proven.

    The head of the company that runs the Kokuka Courageous has said his ship was not damaged by a static explosive device such as a limpet mine but rather was struck by a missile or torpedo. […]

    Cotton has never subscribed to such cautious deliberation when it comes to attacking Iran. His comments Sunday were consistent with the longstanding fascination among right-wing hawks — most prominently John Bolton, who now holds a key White House post and has shown himself willing to massage and manipulate intelligence reports in service of war agendas in the past — have held with renewing open military conflict with Iran.

    “We can make a military response in a time and a manner of our choosing,” Cotton said, “but yes, unprovoked attacks on commercial shipping warrant a retaliatory military strike against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

    The war-drums set will need to do better than this to get their way with the international community that would inevitably be dragged into such a conflict. As Pillar noted to the BBC, this particular president faces a substantially higher bar to legitimating use of American military force.

    “Let’s be honest, the Trump administration has a real credibility problem, particularly with regard to the president himself, who is, to put it bluntly, a serial liar,” Pillar said. “I think it would be very difficult for the U.S. government, with its own output of videos or statements, to produce something that would be sufficient to persuade the rest of the world as to what happened.” […]

    Think Progress link

    More at the link.

  240. blf says

    In the “Duh…” Department of the Damning Devious and Blindingly Obvious, Bosses pocket Trump tax windfall as workers see job promises vanish:

    AT&T, General Motors and Wells Fargo vowed to use tax cuts to create jobs. In fact, they did the opposite

    [… S]udden mass layoffs have become increasingly common for workers at AT&T and many other big firms. But it was not meant to be that way.

    AT&T’s CEO, Randall Stephenson, promised in November 2017 to invest $1bn in capital expenditure and create 7,000 new jobs at the company if Trump’s hugely controversial tax cut bill passed. Many opponents had slammed the cuts as a corporate giveaway that benefited the super-rich. But big firms lobbied for it, saying — as AT&T did — that it would fund job-creating expansions.

    The bill was voted into law in December 2017, reducing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. AT&T’s benefit was a tax windfall of $21bn and an additional estimated $3bn annually. But instead of creating jobs and increasing investment into the company, AT&T has eliminated 23,328 jobs since the tax cut bill was passed, according to a recent report by the Communications Workers of America. The CWA also said AT&T reduced their capital investments by $1.4bn.

    […]

    AT&T is among several large corporations whose CEOs announced support of the Trump tax cut bill by claiming if the legislation passed, their companies would ensure workers reaped benefits from it. But a report published on 22 May by the Congressional Research Service, a non-partisan thinktank for members of Congress, found the tax cuts did not significantly affect the economy or boost wages, but benefited investors more than anyone else.

    “The evidence continues to mount that the Trump–GOP tax cuts were a scam, a giant bait-and-switch that promised workers big pay raises, a lot more jobs and new investments, but they largely enriched CEOs and the already wealthy,” said Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness.

    He noted only 4% of the US workforce saw any sort of pay increase or bonus from the tax cuts. Meanwhile, data collected by ATF shows corporations have cut thousands of jobs since the tax cuts were passed, while using tax windfalls to buy back $1tn of their own stock, which primarily benefits corporate executives and wealthy investors […]

    Probably related, the local research centre for States-based Big DummieCo closed abruptly in January this year, with all but two or three staff fired — those few “lucky” individuals were told to move another centre in the more-expensive Nice area. (At least one point-blank refused.) My understanding is one of the executives flew in from the States and over the course of an c.15 minute meeting, shut the place down.

    (I’d left some years beforehand and am only aware of it due to the impact it had on my friends and former colleagues.)

  241. says

    After he got back from Europe, Trump wave a piece of folded paper at reporters and claimed it was a secret deal with Mexico.

    Trump also tweeted:

    I am pleased to inform you that The United States of America has reached a signed agreement with Mexico. The Tariffs scheduled to be implemented by the U.S. on Monday, against Mexico, are hereby indefinitely suspended. Mexico, in turn, has agreed to take strong measures […]

    Nope. Trump lied.

    […] On Friday, the Mexican government released the text. It turns out, the “deal” Trump heralded was a whole lot of nothing. In fact, it is more of an arrangement to continue discussions.

    “The United States and Mexico,” the agreement reads, “will immediately begin discussions to establish definitive terms for a binding bilateral agreement to further address burden-sharing and the assignment of responsibility for processing refugee claims of migrants.”

    Politico described the back and forth as a classic example of how Trump creates a crisis, exacerbates the crisis, “[a]nd finally, cut a vague, imperfect or constitutionally questionable deal at the last minute, claiming victory and savaging the critics.”

    The document, shared on Twitter via Bloomberg’s Mexico bureau chief Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, indicates that a future agreement between Mexico and the United States would be part of a “regional approach to burden-sharing” in processing migrant claims. Mexico also commits to “immediately begin examining” its laws and regulations to identify “any changes that may be necessary” to accommodate a future agreement.

    As Rachel Withers at Vox explains:

    “The release of the letter doesn’t reveal any new commitments from Mexico, and more or less lines up with the joint statement released on June 7. In the declaration, Mexico agreed to take ‘unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration,’ including deploying its National Guard throughout the country and giving priority to its southern border. It also declared that ‘those crossing the US Southern Border to seek asylum will be rapidly returned to Mexico where they may await the adjudication of their asylum claims.’

    The agreement doesn’t mention anything about not imposing the tariff on Mexican goods that Trump was threatening, and is, at most, an agreement to have discussions about a potential future deal.”

    Link

  242. says

    Joe Biden called for equal pay for the U.S. women’s national soccer team:

    Good luck to the @USWNT as they take on Chile!

    As we cheer them on in the World Cup, we must support their fight off the field for equal pay. In 2019, it’s past time we close the pay gap and ensure women get paid as much as men.

  243. says

    Trump being an asshole, and Trump threatening to never leave us:

    newspaper, the Failing New York Times or the Amazon (lobbyist) Washington Post! They are both a disgrace to our Country, the Enemy of the People, but I just can’t seem to figure out which is worse? The good…..

    …..news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT), both of these horrible papers will quickly go out of business & be forever gone!

  244. says

    From Khartoum: ‘Everyone feels broken and dejected. You can see it on their faces – on the bus, in the streets. The revolution was stolen from the people’.

    Those in Khartoum aren’t just mourning the lives that have been lost over the last two weeks, but the loss of a space that became the heart of the revolution. The capital was orbiting around the sit-in, and then it was snatched away.”

    The responses to this tweet suggest that people haven’t lost hope or given up.

  245. says

    “Jon Stewart takes aim at McConnell in continued fight for 9/11 victim compensation fund”:

    Former late night host and 9/11 first responders advocate Jon Stewart said Sunday that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has never been compassionate in his congressional dealings when it comes to passing health care packages for first responders.

    “In terms of getting the 9/11 bills passed, Mitch McConnell has been the white whale of this since 2010,” Stewart said on “Fox News Sunday.” “This has never been dealt with compassionately by Sen. McConnell.” Stewart appeared to reference the character Capt. Ahab’s inability to capture the notoriously hard-to-catch albino whale in Herman Melville’s novel “Moby Dick.”

    “He has always held out until the last minute, and only then after intense lobbying and public shaming has he even deigned to move on it,” he said.

    Stewart’s comments follow his viral confrontation with lawmakers on Capitol Hill days earlier….

    The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill the following day to authorize additional funding until 2090, but if the bill passes the full House, it would also need to pass the Senate.

    While Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer last week urged McConnell to put the bill on the floor as soon as the House passes it, Stewart was not optimistic Sunday about the bill’s fate in the Senate, grimacing when Fox host Chris Wallace mentioned that the bill needed to move to the Senate after the House.

    “Not all Republicans oppose this, but everyone who has opposed it is a Republican, and it’s unacceptable,” Stewart said Sunday….

  246. says

    “Jeremy Hunt defends Donald Trump’s attack on Sadiq Khan”:

    Jeremy Hunt has vigorously defended Donald Trump for quoting the far-right commentator Katie Hopkins in an attack on the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, as Downing Street declined to condemn the US president’s words.

    The foreign secretary said that while he would not have used the same words as Trump he would “150% agree” with the overall sentiment.

    In contrast, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, said the US president should “stick to domestic politics”.

    The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said the stance of Hunt and No 10 were “shocking” and showed the Conservative party had a serious problem of Islamophobia….

  247. says

    Fascinating – “Romanian immigrant elected German mayor after anti-AfD alliance”:

    A 51-year-old immigrant has been elected mayor of a town in eastern Germany after beating a candidate from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party in a campaign that drew international attention.

    Octavian Ursu, a classical musician who came to Germany from Romania in 1990s, stood for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union party, receiving 55.1% of the vote in Sunday’s election in Goerlitz. Preliminary returns showed his AfD opponent, Sebastian Wippel, an ex-policeman received 44.9%.

    Actors, directors and others who made films on location in Goerlitz had called on residents to vote against Wippel. The petition urged voters not to succumb to “hate and enmity, discord and exclusion”.

    It was signed by British director Stephen Daldry, who filmed The Reader partly in Goerlitz, actor Daniel Bruehl, who appeared in Goodbye Lenin, writer Bernhard Schlink, among others, according to France 24. AfD condemned the letter as unwelcome outside advice.

    The Grand Budapest Hotel and Inglourious Basterds are among the films shot in Goerlitz.

    The town, nicknamed Goerliwood, was spared damage by Allied bombing during the second world war, has become a tourist magnet with its spruced up historic city centre nestled on the River Neisse.

    The vote was seen as a pointer for German state elections on 1 September in both Saxony and in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg….

    AfD condemning “outside advice” is hilarious.

  248. says

    In other news from Germany, “Suspect in German politician’s murder ‘has links to far right’ “:

    German authorities said on Sunday they had arrested a man in connection with the murder of a pro-migrant politician, as media reported the suspect could have links to the far right.

    In a joint statement, police and prosecutors said they had taken a 45-year-old man into custody on Saturday over the shooting death in early June of prominent local politician Walter Lübcke, a member of chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU party.

    Lübcke was shot in the head at close range on the terrace of his home in Kassel, about 160km north-east of Frankfurt.

    Investigators say it is unclear why the 65-year-old was killed, but a possible political motive has not been ruled out, given he had previously received numerous death threats.

    Lübcke, the head of the city administration in Kassel, had spoken out in defence of migrants at the height of Europe’s refugee crisis in 2015, incurring the fury of the far right.

    Since his death, hundreds of posts from social media accounts connected to rightwing extremists applauded his murder.

  249. blf says

    Israel names illegal Golan settlement after Trump (video):

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls US president [sic] ‘great friend’ at inauguration ceremony in Golan Heights.

    […]

    The settlement will be called Ramat Trump, Hebrew for Trump Heights and is not exactly new. Currently known as Bruchim, it is over 30 years old and has a population of 10 people.

    Thank you PM @netanyahu and the State of Israel for this great honor! Trump tweeted later on Sunday.

    Israel is hoping the rebranded settlement will encourage a wave of residents to vastly expand it.

    It’s absolutely beautiful,[] said US Ambassador [sic] to Israel David Friedman, who attended Sunday’s ceremony.

    Noting that Trump celebrated his birthday on Friday, he said: I can’t think of a more appropriate and a more beautiful birthday present.

    […]

    After a cabinet meeting at the site on Sunday, Netanyahu and Friedman unveiled a sign trimmed in gold with the name Trump Heights, adorned with US and Israeli flags.

    Reporting from Jerusalem, Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett said opposition parties have been pointing out that Netanyahu’s transitional government, ahead of September’s election, doesn’t have the authority to enact a new settlement in the occupied Golan Heights.

    “But that hasn’t stopped Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He’s taken his cabinet up there for what he called a festive cabinet meeting which was attended unusually by the US ambassador [sic] David Friedman,” Fawcett said.

    […]

    Zvi Hauser, an opposition legislator who formerly served as Netanyahu’s cabinet secretary, called Sunday’s ceremony a cheap PR stunt.

    “There’s no funding, no planning, no location, and there’s no real binding decision,” he said.

    Developing Trump Heights will not be easy. Ringed by high yellow grass and landmines, it is located roughly 20km from the Syrian border and a half-hour-drive from the nearest Israeli town, Kiryat Shmona, a community of about 20,000 people near the Lebanese border.

    […]

    [Al Jazeera’s Fawcett said] “All of the stuff that has been going on in the Golan today is very much part of [Netanyahu’s] efforts to try to get re-elected and also appeal to his friend in the White House, Donald Trump.”

    One thing which doesn’t seem to have been mentioned is with a provocative name like seems likely to encourage some of the armed hotheads to attack the place, very possibly resulting in causalities.

      † It may be the case the place is “beautiful” (in a benign sense), but it’s also blatantly illegal — hence the eejit quotes.

  250. blf says

    China is harvesting organs from detainees, tribunal concludes:

    […]
    An independent tribunal sitting in London has concluded that the killing of detainees in China for organ transplants is continuing, and victims include imprisoned followers of the Falun Gong movement.

    The China Tribunal, chaired by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, who was a prosecutor at the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, said in a unanimous determination at the end of its hearings it was “certain that Falun Gong as a source […] of organs for forced organ harvesting”.

    “The conclusion shows that very many people have died indescribably hideous deaths for no reason, that more may suffer in similar ways and that all of us live on a planet where extreme wickedness may be found in the power of those, for the time being, running a country with one of the oldest civilisations known to modern man.”

    He added: “There is no evidence of the practice having been stopped and the tribunal is satisfied that it is continuing.”

    […]

    There is less evidence about the treatment of Tibetans, Uighur Muslims and some Christian sects.

    […]

    Waiting times for transplantation offered by hospitals in China were extraordinarily low, the tribunal noted, often only a couple of weeks.

    Investigators calling hospitals in China inquiring about transplants for patients, the tribunal said, have in the past been told that the source of some organs were from Falun Gong followers.

    Both former Falun Gong and Uighur inmates gave testimony of undergoing repeated medical testing in Chinese jails.

    […]

    As many as 90,000 transplant operations a year are being carried out in China, the tribunal estimated, a far higher figure than that given by official government sources.

    There have been calls for the UK parliament to ban patients from travelling to China for transplant surgery. More than 40 MPs from all parties have backed the motion. Israel, Italy, Spain and Taiwan already enforce such restrictions.

    […]

    […] Most of the evidence […] came from 2000 onwards.

  251. says

    Oleg Kozlovsky, Amnesty Intl:

    Another turbulent week for human rights in Russia. On Tuesday, Minister of Interior decided to release journalist Ivan Golunov arrested just days before; fabricated drugs charges were dropped. They apparently sought to preempt the protest planned for Wednesday, 12 June.

    The rally did take place however even though Moscow authorities warned that they would use the police to arrest participants. At least 5,000 (but probably more) defied the ban. Riot police arrested 500+ peaceful protesters but failed to stop the march.

    Another prisoner of conscience, Leonid Volkov, remained in jail for commenting in a YouTube show on a peaceful protest against pension reform. We at Amnesty launched a petition for his release. Today, a court commuted his sentence and Volkov is to be released tomorrow.

    Another good news of the day: journalist Igor Rudnikov in Kaliningrad was released in a court room when the judge decided to drop extortion charges against him. Instead, he was found guilty of “arbitrariness”, a petty crime.

  252. tomh says

    Certiorari Denied In Contraceptive Mandate Case

    SCOTUS today denied review in Little Sisters of the Poor v. California. In the case, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 decision affirmed in part a preliminary injunction issued by a California federal district court against enforcement of the Trump Administration’s Interim Final Rules expanding religious and moral exemptions to the Affordable Care Act Contraceptive Coverage Mandate.

  253. says

    Kamala Harris: “It currently costs $725 per applicant to become a United States citizen. That cost can snowball with lawyers, civics test prep, and more. Proud to co-sponsor the Citizenship Affordability Act to ensure costs don’t become a barrier for naturalization.”

    The personal attacks, trolling, and obnoxious memes in response to political tweets seems to me to have ramped up in the past few days.

  254. blf says

    Over at Mano Singham’s here at FtB is The Gulf of Oman oil tanker issue, calling out the New York Times (NYT) for some highly-credulous support of the attempt by hair furor and his dalekocrazy to start a war with Iran. It links to the article ‘NYT’ readers call out the newspaper for abetting war against Iraq and now Iran, which is, as Dr Singham says, “well worth reading”, if just for the sample of NYT reader’s comments. There were c.500 NYT readers’s comments, and as the linked-to article notes (their emphasis), “we could not find a single one that is supportive of war or of US efforts to continue pressure on Iran.” One sample quoted NYT reader’s comment:

    It seems to me that any ‘intelligence’ from the current administration can only be viewed with the utmost suspicion. We all know the ‘casus belli’ for all the recent wars the US has been involved. It beggars belief that a modern sophisticated nation like Iran would provoke a major war, under the circumstances it has been under in recent decades. We know that ‘team Trump’ is really ‘team deception’.

    An analysis of the situation in Al Jazeera, Is Iran to blame for suspected attacks on Gulf tankers? As the title suggests, it mostly focuses on Iran and the unlikelihood Iran is responsible, and does not mention the Bolton et al kooks nor too many other factors outside Iran. One intriguing quote:

    “Consider the coincidence of these attacks with Abe’s landmark trip to Tehran, the presence of Russian crew on Norwegian-owned Front Altair, the proximity of the incident site to Iran’s territorial waters, and finally the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s emphasis that ‘resistance’ does not mean military action, and you will realise Tehran is not the culprit,” [Hamidreza Azizi, professor of international relations at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran,] said.

    “It sounds like a provocative false-flag operation staged by Iran’s regional nemeses so they could play the victim and portray Tehran as the chief devil in the room even as they are trying to torpedo any chance of negotiations between Tehran and Washington and dragging Iran into a conflict they crave for but cannot win alone,” Azizi added.

  255. blf says

    SC@390, Interesting! I’m very leery about stabbing with a sharp knife in the direction of my hand (due to multiple accidents requiring stitches)†, or the possibly of the knife slipping / “bouncing” and making contact with my wrist. And I wonder if it works on fresh garlic, which — this being France — is readily available in-season.

    The mildly deranged penguin would, I suspect if asked, try the method with gusto. Probably involving a meat cleaver. Or a chainsaw.

      † One of which was “convenient” in the sense it’s given me an easy way of telling left from right, as long as I’m not wearing gloves.

  256. blf says

    In teh NKofE, teh hostile environment of dear lame duck lino continues its lurching, ‘Discredited’ test used on two in five Syrian asylum seekers in UK:

    […]
    Almost two in five Syrian asylum seekers were made to take a widely criticised language test to prove their nationality […].

    Campaigners and experts have criticised the Home Office for the widespread use of language analysis on those claiming to have fled Syria, describing it as “pseudoscience” and a political tool to exclude migrants.

    The tests are used to determine asylum seekers’ country of origin by profiling aspects of their speech, and should be carried out by experts familiar with the language. Current guidelines state language analysis should generally be used where applicants cannot produce reliable and accepted documents.

    A Guardian investigation has found:
    ● The Home Office used language analysis tests in cases where visas had been issued or reliable documents existed.
    ● The author of a report that disputed the nationality of a Syrian asylum seeker could not speak Arabic.
    ● One report cited speech that did not exist in the audio recording.
    ● Analysts in some cases failed to make allowances for minors and in one case incorrectly recorded a minor as an adult.

    […]

    Between 2011 and 2018, 10,255 Syrians applied for asylum, [and about about 3,900 tested,] according to Home Office statistics, meaning almost 40% of all [Syrian] applicants were tested.

    […]

    Mohammed Ateek, a teaching fellow at the University of Reading, who researches language and migration, said: “The use of language analysis on applicants with valid documents or UK visas doesn’t leave any space for doubt that it has been used in a discriminatory manner.”

    […]

    Chai Patel, the legal policy director at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: “The fact that caseworkers are continuing to use discredited pseudoscience to reject asylum claims is hardly surprising. But the problem isn’t one of science or technology, it is that the Home Office is culturally and institutionally incentivised to deny protection to those fleeing persecutions.

    […]

    More at the link, including highly predictable denials, obfuscations, and blame-passing.

  257. says

    BREAKING: Egypt’s state TV says the country’s ousted President Mohammed Morsi has collapsed during a court session and died.

    Morsi was in court on espionage charges when he collapsed and died, Egypt’s state TV said.”

  258. blf says

    Hair furor seems to have a phobia about coughs and/or people who cough (or sneeze), from the Grauniad’s current live States blog (two of several entities, excerpted from oldest to more recent):

    […]

    Just over 20 seconds into this clip Trump gruffly asks Mick Mulvaney to leave the room because he coughed. No, seriously. Watch it for yourself.

    Well adjusted people with a shred of empathy simply don’t behave this way. pic.twitter.com/5aKfTVruRK

    Also, this is a friendly reminder of Mulvaney’s time before he was chief of staff. In 2018, when Mulvaney led the watchdog Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, he tried to gut the agency by firing all 25 members of its advisory committee.

    “Nobody ever recovers.” More on Mulvaney being ushered out of room for coughing, during Trump’s interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos[:]

    Text from former 2016 Trump campaign staffer: “I was told by multiple people when I came aboard to never cough or sneeze while in the presence of Trump. He thinks it’s a sign of weakness and lack of control. Nobody ever recovers.” […]

  259. blf says

    Hair furor not only lacks empathy (see @399), he’s an oaf (not that that’s news to anyone here), more from the Grauniad’s live States blog (the Grauniad’s emboldening):

    Here is an account from the Atlantic from this April […]:

    For decades, presidents and vice presidents have held regular one-on-one lunches with no aides present. The ritual helps build trust and, because only two people are at the table, prevents leaks, veterans of past White Houses said.

    Trump ditched that tradition. Instead he has invited to the lunches both his and Pence’s top aides. At the meals in the small dining room off the Oval Office, Trump keeps a big-screen TV tuned to cable news. Aides who have walked in have seen Trump yelling at the TV as he sits with Pence and their deputies over plates of chicken and cheeseburgers. When he sees something on the screen that he dislikes, Trump on occasion will interrupt the lunch and summon aides to discuss a response, people familiar with the lunches said.

    The entire Atlantic article is worth reading (link embedded in above excerpt), A Survival Guide for the Trump White House: “Amid West Wing turnover that is ‘off the charts,’ the survivors have mastered the art of praising the boss.”

  260. blf says

    Why am I not surprised? Small donors are rebuilding Notre-Dame as French billionaires delay:

    [… B]illionaire French donors who pledged hundreds of millions for rebuilding have “yet to pay a penny”, a spokesman for the cathedral said.

    Instead, the funds paying for clean-up and reconstruction are coming mainly from French and American citizens who donated to church charities like the Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris. Those charities are helping pay the bills and the salaries of up to 150 workers employed by the cathedral since the April 15 fire […].

    “The big donors haven’t paid. Not a cent,” André Finot, a senior press official at Notre-Dame, told AP on Friday. “They want to know what exactly their money is being spent on and if they agree to it before they hand it over, and not just to pay employees’ salaries.”

    Less than a tenth of the hundreds of millions promised has been donated, the French culture ministry said Friday. Only €80 million of the €850 million pledged has been handed over — and most of that has come in small sums given by ordinary people.

    The cathedral’s vaulted roof “could still collapse” at any moment, Culture Minister Franck Riester warned Friday, as he confirmed the slow pace at which pledges were turning into cash.

    […]

    A spokesman for the Pinault Collection acknowledged that the family hadn’t yet transferred any money for the cathedral’s restoration, blaming that on a delay in contracts.

    We are willing to pay, provided it is requested within a contractual framework, said spokesman Jean-Jacques Aillagon.

    The LVMH Group and the Arnault family said in a statement that they were signing an agreement with the Notre Dame Foundation, a partner group to the cathedral, and the payments will be made as the work progresses.

    Total has pledged to pay its €100 million via the Heritage Foundation, whose Director General Celia Verot confirmed that the multinational has not paid anything yet. She said donors are waiting to see what the plans are and if they are in line with each company’s particular vision before they agree to a transfer of money.

    […]

    While the billionaire donors delay, workers at the cathedral face the epic task of cleaning up the lead poisoning that has become an issue for the Parisian island on which Notre-Dame is located. An estimated 300 tons of lead that made up the cathedral’s roof melted or was released into the atmosphere during the fierce blaze, which sent out toxic dust. The city’s health agency says high levels of lead are now present in the soil of Île de la Cité and in nearby buildings. It has recommended that all pregnant women and children under 7 living nearby take blood tests for lead exposure.

    Up to a point I can see the big donor’s concerns / point — the raping children cult is involved (albeit they do not own the wreckage), and they are not people for whom the words “honest” or “trustworthy” can be used. On the other hand, there are various legal mechanisms to keep the cult’s grubby hands off the cash, and (as far as I know), none of the big ticket promised donations announced were conditional on things like “in line with each company’s particular vision” and so on. Apparently, paying salaries and helping with the lead are not in-line with that so-called “vision” or whatever. Presumably, as various cartoons at the time mocked, they want their names in flashing garish lights on the building during and after its reconstruction.

  261. blf says

    There’s nothing in the link describing what is and isn’t a “religious symbol”, albeit it does specifically suggest “headscarves [hijabs] and Jewish skullcaps” are banned. No mention of (e.g.) xian cross necklaces and the like, which, “weirdly”, tend not to banned by such laws (at least in xian-dominated areas). Quebec law banning hijab at work creates ‘politics of fear’, say critics:

    […]
    Civil liberties and Muslim groups have vowed to challenge a new law in the Canadian province of Quebec that bans some public sector employees from wearing religious symbols during work hours, arguing it triggered the “politics of fear”.

    Critics said the long-expected Bill 21 that was passed by the predominately French-speaking province’s legislature on Sunday mainly targeted Muslim women who wear hijabs.

    […]

    The earlier article (link embedded in above excerpt), ‘It’s part of who I am’: proposed Quebec law could push hijab-wearers out of jobs, notes (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    CAQ [Coalition Avenir Québec (nazi –blf)] leader François Legault barely mentioned the new law during the recent election campaign, focusing instead on reducing the number of immigrants Quebec would take in by 20% — a promise which won him the praise of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

    He also proposed kicking out those remaining who fail French and values tests after three years of residency in the province.

    […]

    There are apparent limits to the CAQ’s secularism.

    The party announced that it had no plans to remove a gold crucifix from Quebec’s National Assembly, placed there in 1936 to symbolize the connection between the state and the then-dominant Catholic church.

    I don’t see it as {the crucifix} a religious sign, said […] François Legault. I see that as part of history, being part of our values.

  262. blf says

    Doctors in India strike over violent attacks by patients’ families:

    […]
    About 800,000 doctors across India went on strike on Monday to demand better working conditions, following years of complaints about violent attacks from patients’ families.

    A brutal assault on a junior doctor in Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal, appears to have been the final straw. Paribaha Mukhopadhyay was walking down a corridor at NRS hospital with a colleague when a group of men attacked them.

    Neither doctor had been involved in treating Mohammed Sayeed, 75[], who died at the hospital on 10 June, but his outraged relatives attacked the first doctors they saw, turning the hospital briefly into a battleground, according to witnesses of the assault

    Mukhopadhyay suffered a fractured skull and needed a craniotomy.

    Doctors at different hospitals have gradually been joining the strike out of solidarity, and on Monday almost all the country’s doctors walked out to demand better protection.

    “The events in Kolkata were just a flashpoint. This has gone on for too long. We have a right to security as ordinary citizens. This violence against doctors is not acceptable in any civilised society,” said Dr Rajan Sharma, the president-elect of the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

    Doctors in Kolkata were further angered by the hostile response of the state chief minister, Mamata Banerjee, who ordered them to go back to work without addressing their grievances. The anger, however, has spread nationwide. It has become increasingly common for doctors to be jostled, roughed up or beaten by angry relatives of the recently deceased.

    […]

    India’s population is growing, along with expectations of good healthcare. This combined with increasing life expectancy is placing a greater burden on scarce resources.

    The nerves of both doctors and families of patients are stretched to breaking point by the situation. Families travel by train for two days after scraping together the cost of brining [sic (the Grauniad strikes again!)] an ill relative to a city hospital.

    On arrival, they join the teeming crowds already there. No drinking water is provided and there are hardly any toilets. Nor is there anywhere to sit or rest, and there are queues everywhere. Exhausted, anxious and confused by medical terminology they are unable to understand, they become emotionally volatile.

    On the other side are harried doctors coping with a deluge of patients every day, working in the same congested and overcrowded conditions for up to 18 hours a day. The outpatients department at AIIMS sees 10,000 people a day.

    […]

    The strike is not, however, expected to last long. Banerjee finally agreed to talk to doctors in Kolkata on Monday and the federal health minister, Harsh Vardhan, has been sounding sympathetic.

      † I normally redact an individual’s age unless it seems relevant. In this case, the person was quite old, and its not too surprising he sadly died — suggesting the relatives’s completely inappropriate response was especially deranged.

  263. blf says

    In Ozland, PM’s department in ‘laughable’ battle to suppress cabinet meeting dates:

    […]
    The prime minister’s department is mounting a costly legal battle to keep secret information the government has previously released, a situation described as “laughable”.

    The Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick is trying to secure the release of the navy chief’s diary as part of his attempts to investigate why a $4bn arms contract was awarded to German shipbuilder Lürssen instead of Australian firm Austal.

    But the Australian government has resisted his efforts, arguing the diary contains dates of cabinet meetings and would therefore reveal confidential cabinet information and is exempt from freedom of information law.

    The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is so convinced the dates should be kept secret, it is mounting what could prove a costly case in the administrative appeals tribunal (AAT) to keep the diary from the public. Similar cases Patrick has been involved in have cost taxpayers $150,000 [presumably Australian dollars; c.103,000USD –blf].

    But Guardian Australia has seen documents that show the government has previously released diaries containing the dates of cabinet meetings without objection […]

    […]

    Patrick said the information commissioner has already ruled that the navy chief’s diary should be published, finding cabinet dates were not exempt from release.

    […]

    Following that decision, the defence department agreed to release the documents, only for the prime minister’s department to intervene at the last moment.

    […]

    Patrick has been one of many transparency advocates openly critical of the current FOI regime. Analysis by Guardian Australia shows FOI rejections are at their highest rate on record.

    Thousands of FOI requests are taking three months longer than the required, statutory timeframe to finalise, and FOI teams have shrunk in at least 20 government departments. The use of practical refusal grounds to block FOIs is at record highs and the regulator, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, has been chronically understaffed.

  264. blf says

    Tree thought to have inspired Dr Seuss’ “The Lorax” falls in San Diego park:

    “I speak for the trees,” Dr. Seuss’ Lorax cried, to the tree-chopping Once-ler’s immense surprise.

    Now the tree thought to have inspired the beloved Truffulas is no more. The Monterey cypress has fallen, closing the chapter on its famous lore.

    The lone tree stood in San Diego’s Ellen Browning Scripps Park. Seuss reportedly could spot it from his home — leaf to bark.

    The cause for the fall is still unknown; the tree was healthy and no wind had recently blown.

    “We did have a very wet winter, so we’re looking at the soil to see if that may have been a factor,” Tim Graham said in a statement on behalf of the San Diego Parks and Recreation Department.

    […]

    The Lorax is perhaps Dr Suess’ most political book — and apparently his favourite — and was at least threatened with being banned in some areas with large logging interestsgreed.

  265. says

    “Transcript: ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos’ exclusive interview with President Trump.”

    Daniel Dale provides a non-exhaustive list of lies told therein.

    Randi Mayem Singer: “OMG, we are desensitized to the sound of it, in his voice. But when you READ it, the unfathomable illiteracy, the crutch of banal repetition, the lack of a single complex thought, let alone anything beyond a third grade sentence… it all SCREAMS at you.”

    (As I’ve said before, I’m not desensitized, inured, or anything of the sort. I’m furious. But she’s right – it’s worse when you read it.)

    Trump on his tweeting: “Well, it’s– it– how can I communicate like that? I put one out this morning. And as soon as I pressed the button, they said, ‘We have breaking news’. Every network, every station. ‘We have breaking news’. They read my tweet. Why is that bad? And when I’m treated badly by the press– and nobody’s ever been treated badly like me. When I’m treated so badly– ”

    Stop showing and reading his tweets on the air, cable news. Stop putting up chyrons that begin “Trump claims…” or “Trump says…” or “Trump:…” followed by his dangerous and despicable lies. Stop it.

  266. blf says

    SC@413, The story sortof behind that, whilst perhaps not surprising, is also a shocker, Lawyers for Sandy Hook families say Alex Jones sent them child porn:

    […]
    The law firm representing the families of the 2012 [Sandy Hook] mass shooting, stated in court documents filed Monday they have contacted the FBI after discovering child porn in electronic files Jones recently turned over to the Sandy Hook families as a result of their lawsuit against him for calling the tragedy a hoax.

    […]

    Jones publicly responded on a broadcast of his show that he is being framed by Chris Mattei, the lawyer for the Sandy Hook families […] You’re trying to set me up with child porn, I’ll get your ass, Jones states on the broadcast. One million dollars, you little gang members. One million dollars to put your head on a pike. Jones then pounds a photograph of Mattei and goes into a rant at one point stating, I’m gonna kill…

    Jones’ lawyer, Norman Pattis, denied his client was threatening Mattei or the Sandy Hook families […]

    Sounds rather like Mr Pattis is at least as incompetent as Jones…

    More at Alex Jones Offers $1M Reward After Alleged Malware Attack That He Says Planted Child Porn on His Servers: “The conspiracy theorist appeared to suggest someone tied to the Sandy Hook families framed him. I am so sick of their filth and living off the dead kids of Sandy Hook, he said.”

  267. says

    “Matteo Salvini seeks closer Washington ties as EU tensions rise”:

    Matteo Salvini is striving for Italy to become “the main partner” of the US as he meets officials from Donald Trump’s government in Washington DC on Monday.

    The Italian deputy prime minister, who began nurturing relations with Trump during his presidential election campaign, said that while other countries have “chosen different paths”, Italy wanted to return to being the “most important partner in continental Europe for the biggest western democracy”.

    “And not only for economic and commercial interests,” he told reporters after arriving in Washington. “But also due to our common vision of the world, of values, of work, family and rights.”

    Salvini will meet the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier at Arlington national cemetery on Monday before meeting the vice-president, Mike Pence, at the White House.

    Salvini, whose far-right League party is proposing a flat tax, will also meet Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform.

    The trip comes amid heightened tensions between Italy and the EU over the country’s huge public debt as well as discord between the League and its government coalition partner, the Five Star Movement (M5S). The League became Italy’s biggest party when it captured 34% of the vote in the European elections in May, with much speculation that national elections are on the horizon….

  268. says

    I don’t understand why everyone in the media keeps referring to Trump’s upcoming re-election campaign “launch.” His campaign has been going on for more than two years.

    From WP:

    Trump began his reelection campaign unusually early for an incumbent President. He began spending for his reelection effort within weeks of his election, and officially filed his campaign with the Federal Election Commission on the day of his inauguration. Since February 2017, Trump has held several rallies and a fundraiser for this campaign. He has visited key electoral states. The campaign has raised funds and run two nationwide advertising campaigns. Trump has confirmed in several stump speeches that the slogans for the 2020 race will be “Keep America Great” and “Promises Made, Promises Kept.”

    On November 7, 2018, Trump confirmed that Mike Pence would be his vice presidential running mate in 2020.

    (Not noted: the campaign has spent millions in donations on his and others’ lawyers and at his properties.)

  269. says

    Oh – it is noted below:

    In April 2017, The Wall Street Journal determined that the Trump campaign had reported spending nearly $500,000 in payments to companies owned by Trump, amounting to more than 6% of the $6.3 million that the campaign reported spending. Additionally, the campaign spent more than $4 million on memorabilia (such as hats).

    In the third quarter of 2017, the Trump campaign spent $4.1 million (27% of its expenditures) on legal fees, including the personal legal expenses of Trump and his family. By this point, 10% of the campaign’s overall spending since the beginning of the year had been on legal fees.

    In its first two years since it was launched in January 2017, the Trump 2020 campaign paid more than $890,000 in rent for space in Trump Tower, and the Republican National Committee paid $225,000.

  270. says

    When I posted #382, these reports hadn’t been confirmed by officials, but now they have:

    “Suspect in killing of German politician was jailed for attempted bombing”:

    A man with links to rightwing extremist groups who once planted a pipe bomb outside a home for asylum seekers is a suspect in the murder of a German politician this month, security sources have said.

    The man who was arrested at the weekend in connection with the shooting of Walter Lübcke on 2 June is believed to have an association with the militant neo-Nazi group Combat 18 among others.

    He was convicted of the attempted pipe bomb attack in 1993 and sentenced to prison, and a decade ago he was arrested on the margins of a neo-Nazi demonstration.

    Identified only as Stephan E, in line with the custom in Germany, the 45-year-old is categorised by intelligence services as a rightwing extremist with violent tendencies.

    A spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office, which took over the Lübcke murder case from regional investigators on Monday, said: “The suspicion that we’re dealing with a rightwing extremist, or rightwing terrorist case, has hardened. We have taken over the investigation. The prosecutor’s office in Kassel is no longer responsible.”

    Since Lübcke’s death, posts by rightwing extremists and neo-Nazis have appeared on Facebook and Twitter appearing to celebrate his murder. Police are investigating the identities of those behind the posts.

    Combat 18 was considered at the turn of this century to be one of the most significant far-right groups in Germany. Its members typically hoarded weapons, spread far-right propaganda and compiled bomb-making guides.

    It has been connected in the past with the network Blood and Honour, which assisted the far-right terrorist group National Socialist Underground, whose surviving member, Beate Zschäpe, was convicted last year and given a life sentence for a series of racially motivated killings.

    This should be a much bigger story.

  271. says

    So Rachel Maddow showed some clips from the Poor People’s Forum, where Joy Reid was one of the moderators. Joe Biden’s coming over and aggressively looming over Reid and the others when he was answering a question is just totally unacceptable. Maddow asked about it in sort of a roundabout way, and Reid seems to be trying to graciously give him the benefit of the doubt, but it was gross. (Ironically, his answer suggested that he would bend over backwards to try to make it work with Republicans; those to his left I guess he can just try to intimidate.)

  272. says

    “Shanahan’s confirmation hearing for defense secretary delayed amid FBI investigation”:

    As the United States faces the longest period in its history without a confirmed secretary of defense, and tensions build over American allegations that Iran is responsible for recent attacks on civilian ships in the Persian Gulf, the man slated to head the Pentagon is facing a protracted FBI investigation that has delayed his Senate hearing until at least next month.

    Despite announcing more than a month ago acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan as his pick to get the Pentagon job on a permanent basis, President Trump has yet to formally nominate Shanahan, forcing the Senate Armed Services Committee to postpone a confirmation hearing it had tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, June 18.

    Senators were told that the postponement was because the committee had yet to receive documents from the FBI’s background check, according to a staffer for a committee member.

    With Shanahan’s confirmation on hold, press reports have questioned his relationship with the president, and the Pentagon has been fielding press queries about his personal life, including a messy divorce that involved an accusation of domestic violence from his ex-wife, who was arrested as part of the dispute. Shanahan did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this story. The Pentagon referred questions to a spokesperson for Shanahan who emphasized the personal nature of the allegations.

    Leacy Burke, a spokeswoman for Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., noted hearings for Shanahan have never been formally scheduled because the Senate has not officially received his nomination.

    “There were internal dates discussed,” Burke said. “We could never get something tentatively scheduled because we never got the nomination.”

    Burke referred further questions about the delay to the White House.

    A White House official referred questions about the status of Shanahan’s background check to the FBI, which declined to comment.

    One of the issues that could be holding up the FBI investigation is his complicated divorce. Shanahan’s separation was extremely contentious and included his then wife Kimberly’s allegation that Shanahan hit her during a violent confrontation in 2010. She noted the police were called and she was arrested for assaulting Shanahan when they arrived. Shanahan was not charged with any crime related to the incident. Kimberly also accused Shanahan of having been involved in “barroom brawls” in his past. She did not respond to a request for comment on this story.

    While Shanahan was not arrested or charged in connection with the fight, the now ex-wife’s various allegations could have complicated his confirmation process. High-level FBI background checks typically would require detailed review of any accusations of violent behavior or heavy drinking….

  273. says

    Daily Beast – “Dallas Federal Building Shooter Posted Far-Right Memes About Nazis and Confederacy”:

    A Texas man accused of opening fire outside a Dallas courthouse uploaded right-wing memes to Facebook, including memes about Nazism and the Confederacy.

    Authorities said Brian Clyde, 22, attacked the Earle Cabell federal courthouse Monday morning before law enforcement killed him. No one else was reported injured. A Dallas Morning News photograph of Clyde shows him holding a semi-automatic rifle and wearing a belt full of ammunition. He appears to have uploaded to his Facebook page a picture of similar magazines on Saturday. Elsewhere on the page, he shared memes, some of which suggested racist or misogynist views.

    Authorities did not offer a possible motive for Clyde’s rampage and declined to comment on his social media presence.

    Wearing a ski mask and what appeared to be a bulletproof vest, Clyde reportedly opened fire on bystanders near the courthouse parking lot. He then reportedly fired on the building, shattering the glass front doors. Police later detonated what they described as a suspicious device in the car Clyde parked nearby.

    Last week, Clyde uploaded a Facebook video suggesting plans with a gun.

    “I don’t know how much longer I have, but a storm is coming. However, I’m not without defense,” he said in the brief video, pulling out a rifle. “I’m fuckin’ ready. Let’s do it.”

    On Saturday, he uploaded a picture of 10 gun magazines. On Sunday, he uploaded a picture of a sword with the caption “A modern gladius to defend the modern Republic.”

    Clyde served in the Army from 2015 to 2017, though details of his discharge were not available. Del Mar College listed him as a graduate with as associate’s degree in May.

    He frequently posted memes that suggested familiarity with the far-right internet….

    More at the link.

  274. says

    Colbert’s monologue last night was entertaining.

    Jon Stewart also showed up to go after McConnell’s inaction on and lies about the 9/11 victims compensation fund. (It does bother me that he doesn’t correct that he was mistaken about the number of representatives who should have been at the hearing – it was a committee rather than a full House hearing, and all of the Democrats on the committee were present; and that he continues to criticize “Congress” when he’s acknowledged – see #379 above – that “Not all Republicans oppose this, but everyone who has opposed it is a Republican” and when Schumer has pushed for it to pass the Senate while McConnell drags his feet. It contributes to the mistaken impression that the problem is “partisan gridlock” or general apathy when it’s really a matter of vastly different values and priorities with Republicans constantly blocking legislation that would help people. This bothsidesism has always been a problem for Stewart, though his work on a number of issues, including this one, has otherwise been phenomenal.)

  275. says

    NEW: Electoral Commission says Brexit Party must confirm identity of donors..or return cash. Big big problem for Farage because they literally didn’t ask for donor ID or location.”

  276. says

    “MH17: prosecutors to identify suspects and file first charges”:

    Dutch prosecutors are set to identify suspects and file the first criminal charges over the 2014 downing over east Ukraine of flight MH17 that left 298 people dead in the worst atrocity in five years of war between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists.

    The charges are likely to target members of a Russia-backed separatist movement and may include Russian servicemen who commanded or helped transport the anti-aircraft missile system used to bring down the plane.

    The charges will raise tensions with Russia, which is unlikely to turn over its citizens, especially those in uniform, to stand trial in a foreign country or at the international criminal court. Russia’s constitution forbids the extradition of its citizens.

    The Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is set to present new evidence in the MH17 investigation on Wednesday, and is expected to name its first four suspects in the case.

    The JIT previously alleged that the surface-to-air missile that brought down the plane belonged to the Russian armed forces and had been supplied by the country’s 53rd anti-aircraft brigade in Kursk. Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, disregarded those findings, saying the investigation “did not inspire confidence” and that “several versions” of events existed.

    Ukraine’s foreign ministry on Tuesday also confirmed that criminal charges would be brought against the suspects named in the JIT’s presentation.

    “The names will be announced. Charges will be brought. After that, the criminal court of Schiphol will start working to consider this case,” Ukraine’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Olena Zerkal, told the news agency Interfax-Ukraine. “They are only the top. Naturally, then the number of people who are involved in this will be much larger than the four people who will be named.”

    The news agency said that Zerkal believed the charges could target “senior officers” in the Russian army because the transfer of a surface-to-air missile system “is impossible without the top brass’s permission”.

    The charges are likely to be brought in the Netherlands because the majority of the passengers aboard the Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur were Dutch. According to official information, the Malaysia Airlines plane was carrying 193 Dutch, 43 Malaysian, 38 Australian, 12 Indonesian, and 10 British passengers, as well as one passenger from New Zealand.

    The investigative collective Bellingcat, which collected and analysed open-source data about the attack on the Malaysia Airlines flight 17, will also make a presentation on Wednesday identifying “separatists involved in the downing of MH17”….

  277. says

    Hello, readers,

    One of my brothers broke his ankle and I’ve been helping to take care of him. I’ve also got a money-making project to finish. Those are my excuses for my absences from this thread.

    I’m here, but on a hit-or-miss basis.

    Many thanks to SC and others for carrying on.

  278. says

    Eric Boehlert – “ABC News learns painful lesson: Trump’s a TV ratings flop”:

    Anyone surprised that ABC News’ Sunday night hour-long prime-time special featuring Donald Trump was something of a ratings debacle has been badly misled by the Beltway press, which for years has been pushing a GOP-friendly myth that the president translates into huge ratings, and that Americans can’t get enough of his antics. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth, as ABC’s President Trump: 30 Hours confirmed over the weekend. The interview special came in third place among the three major networks on Sunday at 8 PM ET. Worse, the show produced just half the television audience that ABC’s Celebrity Family Feud attracted in the same time slot one week earlier. The idea that Trump represents some sort of cultural phenomenon and that Americans flock to their TVs every time he appears in front of a camera is simply nonsense.

    Why ABC thought Trump deserved an hour of prime-time exposure was never really explained in the special. Meaning, there was no news hook for the unusual programming event, which featured ABC’s George Stephanopoulos shadowing Trump over the course of two days last week. (And … ?) Of course, Trump lied relentlessly throughout the televised interviews. So, no, not exactly compelling television.

    We’ve seen Trump flop on TV before, over and over….

    Trump’s tepid Nielsen numbers are bad news for the president, since he’s utterly obsessed with television ratings….

    Still, this notion that Trump is a wildly charismatic and captivating figure has been embraced by the political press, which still often views him through the prism of celebrity, and, frankly, judges him as a celebrity. But there’s simply no proof to support the idea that Americans hang on Trump’s every word. In fact, there’s plenty of TV ratings data—not to mention polling results—that suggests a huge portion of Americans have completely tuned Trump out. What’s left are Trump’s hardcore loyalists and members of the press. Both groups seem convinced he’s a media superstar….

  279. says

    SC @420, It looked to me like Joe Biden was trying to intimidate Joy Reid by getting in her face, leaning over her and using his upright maleness to shut her up. Joy Reid was too nice in saying that the moment was “strange.” She also described Biden as “determined”

    It made me very uncomfortable to watch that. Somebody needed to jump in there and back Biden off.

    Biden being “determined” and/or “passionate” is no excuse for that behavior. Biden looked like a bully.

  280. says

    Carole Cadwalladr: “Remember what @nigel_farage said?? That Electoral Commission had given Brexit Party ‘a clean bill of health’. Here’s full verdict – released under FOI. Clean bill of health, my arse. If this is clean, what on earth do they consider dirty?”

    Screenshots and link to the document at the link. Pretty much the opposite of a clean bill of health.

    “Based on the information we reviewed, we assess the party to be at risk of non-compliance with its financial scheme and obligations under PPERA. In particular, the fundraising structure the Party have adopted, coupled with insufficient procedures, leaves it open to a high and ongoing risk of receiving and accepting impermissible donations, and being unable to maintain accurate records of transactions.”

  281. says

    Lynna @ #437,

    It doesn’t speak well of him that it didn’t seem to occur to him to consider how that would be experienced by Reid, Barber, and the other moderator or seen by the audience.

  282. says

    Dan Friedman, MoJo:

    In a motion filed Friday, Roger Stone’s lawyers cite a government warrant application they say mentions Stone, Ted Malloch, Jerome Corsi, and Julian Assange. It says “they speak to each other about politics, WikiLeaks and ‘about phishing with John Podesta…'”

    Podesta’s email was hacked through a phishing attack, so this seems significant, if the conversation occurred before WikiLeaks started releasing Podesta’s emails in Oct. The motion doesn’t say when the conversation occurred, who said this, or if the warrant used a direct quote.

    But it’s odd that Stone’s lawyers included this in a motion asserting the government’s warrant application failed to establish probable cause.

  283. says

    Trump is doing a rally in Orlando today (to fake-launch his campaign that began more than two years ago).

    The leading local paper, the Orlando Sentinel, which is reporting storms moving into the area, just published this blistering editorial:

    “Our Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump”:

    Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the kickoff of his re-election campaign.

    We’re here to announce our endorsement for president in 2020, or, at least, who we’re not endorsing: Donald Trump.

    Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent.

    Because there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump.

    After 2½ years we’ve seen enough.

    Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies.

    So many lies — from white lies to whoppers — told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity.

    Trump’s capacity for lying isn’t the surprise here, though the frequency is.

    It’s the tolerance so many Americans have for it.

    Trump’s successful assault on truth is the great casualty of this presidency, followed closely by his war on decency.

    Trump has diminished our standing in the world. He reneges on deals, attacks allies and embraces enemies.

    Through all of this, Trump’s base remains loyal. Sadly, the truest words Trump might ever have spoken was when he said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose his supporters.

    This non-endorsement isn’t defaulting to whomever the Democrats choose. This newspaper has a history of presidential appointments favoring Republicans starting in the mid-20th century. Except for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the Sentinel backed Republican presidential nominees from 1952 through 2004, when we recommended John Kerry over another four years of George W. Bush.

    The nation must endure another 1½ years of Trump. But it needn’t suffer another four beyond that.

    We can do better. We have to do better.

  284. says

    Today’s Guardian British politics liveblog.

    Raab is now out.

    Nicola Sturgeon has said that Boris Johnson’s “almost certain” election as the next Conservative leader has proven how sharply Scotland is now diverging from the rest of the UK, increasing the case for independence.

    In a speech to mark 20 years since devolution, the first minister said Johnson’s apparent relish for a no-deal Brexit, and his “gratuitously offensive” opinions about women and minorities are in stark contrast to Scotland’s open, diverse and tolerant politics.

    Many Scottish National party politicians and strategists, and some Tories, believe Johnson’s victory will turbo-charge Sturgeon’s quest for a fresh Scottish independence referendum, doubly so if he successfully leads the UK out of the EU.

    Speaking to Reform Scotland, a centre right think tank, Sturgeon reminded the audience her government is tabling referendum legislation to pave the way for a new vote at some point in future. She said:

    It is surely deeply concerning that the Conservative party is even contemplating putting into the office of prime minister someone whose tenure as foreign secretary was risible, lacking in any seriousness of purpose or basic competence and who, over the years, has gratuitously offended so many, from gay people, to Africans, Muslim women and many others.

    But while that, for now, is a matter for the Tories it does further illustrate the different political trajectories of Scotland and other parts of the UK. And it raises the more fundamental question of whether the UK and therefore devolution, in its current form is capable of accommodating those differences.

    I have to be candid and admit I’m not a neutral observer of these matters but it does seem to me that these days, the unionist offer to Scotland amounts to not much more than ‘your views don’t matter, do as you’re told and, if you don’t like it, tough, we’ll do it anyway.’

    Brexit starkly illustrates the point. The votes of people here have been ignored. The Scottish government’s attempt at compromise was rejected. And voters in the Scottish parliament opposing Brexit and a subsequent power grab were disregarded.

  285. says

    The phrase “trade jabs” should be banished from cable news coverage. It’s almost always inaccurate – one person is making substantive, serious arguments while the other is lying or engaging in personal attacks/insults – and in the rare cases in which it’s accurate it’s not news.

  286. says

    Kyle Cheney, Politico:

    JUST IN: Judiciary Committee Democrats hearing Thursday will focus on *five* of Mueller’s obstruction incidents, all of which they say Hope HICKS has knowledge of and may testify to on Wednesday.

    Witnesses Thursday include: @rickhasen

    The incidents include:

    -The Comey firing
    -Efforts to remove Mueller
    -Efforts to get Sessions to curtail the Mueller probe.
    -The public unearthing of the Trump Tower meeting
    -Allegations of Trump campaign finance violations

    Judiciary Committee aides say they will require the White House to formally assert executive privilege in order to consider it valid during Hicks’ testimony.

    That means a White House lawyer will be in the room during the interview.

    Transcript of HICKS’ testimony could be public within 48 hours of her Wednesday testimony, Judiciary Committee aides say.