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)


  1. says

    Maybe…and I’m just thinking out loud here…the New York Times could hire some historians and social scientists, who could from time to time write on their topics of study but more importantly consult on context and media issues…

  2. blf says

    Why is the US tracking journalists and immigration advocates? (podcast):

    US Customs and Border Protection gathers intelligence on people with ties to the migrant caravan and subjects them to additional scrutiny.

    Journalists and immigration advocates have been interrogated at US airports and scrutinised at US–Mexico border crossings. Then leaked documents confirmed their suspicions: the US government has been targeting private citizens.


  3. blf says

    In Italy, Salvini gets slap down from Italian PM as migrants offered refuge (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces})::

    Matteo Salvini’s bid for power may have backfired, along with his anti-migrant policies.

    Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has accused his far-right interior minister and deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini, of disloyalty and being obsessed with blocking immigration, intensifying an open war of words in the ruling coalition.


    A former academic who does not belong to any party, Conte on Thursday used the case of a migrant rescue boat refused entry to Italy’s ports by Salvini as an opportunity to settle scores with the leader of the coruling League party, which last week put forward a motion of no confidence in his government coalition with the populist 5-Star Movement.

    More than 500 migrants and refugees have been stranded on board two rescue boats in the Mediterranean since aid workers pulled them from the waters earlier this month. About 350 are thought to be on board the Ocean Viking and a further 150 on the Open Arms.

    Salvini’s League pushed a law through parliament last week which criminalised rescue workers and stated that any vessels carrying undocumented migrants in Italian waters could be seized, impounded and the crews prosecuted — with fines of up to $1.1m.


    Conte said Salvini aimed to exploit the immigration issue for electoral gain rather than seeking solutions with Italy’s partners.


    The Open Arms, operated by a Spanish charity, was in Italian territorial waters on Thursday, a day after a Rome administrative court gave it leave to enter, countermanding Salvini’s ban.

    Those still on board the Open Arms say they will only celebrate once they reach the shore.

    “We need to touch ground,” one passenger told Spanish broadcaster TVE. “Life is over there, here it’s death.”

    Salvini issued an emergency order to prevent Open Arms arriving at the Italian island of Lampedusa. But the defence minister, who is from the League’s partner party 5-Star, refused to countersign it.

    Openly challenging the League leader, who has so far dictated Italy’s immigration policy, Elisabetta Trenta said defying the court was illegal and that “politics must not lose its humanity”.

    The tide may have turned for Salvini, who last week was riding a wave of popularity so successfully he called for early elections in a bid to seize power for the far-right.

    But his gamble has not gone to plan.

    5-Star and the opposition Democratic Party have stalled any debate of the League’s no-confidence motion and many of their politicians are now openly discussing forming a coalition among themselves to sideline Salvini.

    The 5-Star has been hurt by its tie-up with the League, halving its voter support since the two parties joined forces in June last year, according to opinion polls. The League has overtaken it to become Italy’s most popular party.


    Salvini said on Wednesday the League would do whatever we can to prevent a trickster’s deal between 5-Star and the {Democrats}.

    But in a hard-hitting Facebook post on Thursday, 5-Star leader Luigi Di Maio said there was no turning back after Salvini’s move to pull the plug on the coalition.


    The nazi is now fumbling about, probably (in his deluded mind) trying to “salvage” the situation, Italy’s Matteo Salvini allows migrant children off rescue ship:

    More than 100 adults will remain onboard vessel moored for days off Lampedusa island

    Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has reluctantly authorised 27 migrant children rescued at sea to disembark from a charity vessel anchored in limbo off Lampedusa island for days.

    In a letter on Saturday, Salvini told the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, he could authorise the alleged minors to leave the Open Arms ship, despite it being divergent to my orientation.

    However, the remaining 105 adults and two accompanied children must stay on board in what the charity Proactiva Open Arms said were “untenable” conditions.

    The go-ahead for the disembarkation of these people is the exclusive responsibility of the prime minister, Salvini wrote in reply to a humanitarian request from Conte. The interior minister has the final say on border issues.

    The charity said it would need time to break the news to the migrants that most of them must remain on board. Some were rescued more than two weeks ago.


    The ship has been anchored within swimming distance of southern island Lampedusa with 134 migrants on board since Thursday.

    A Sicily prosecutor on Saturday sent judicial police to coastguard headquarters in Rome as part of a probe into alleged kidnapping and abuse of office because the Open Arms has not been allowed to dock.

    Police took records of communications between the interior ministry and rescue services in order to verify the chain of command for who is preventing the ship from docking, the left-leaning Repubblica daily said.

    I rather like that last bit — investigating “alleged kidnapping and abuse of office because the Open Arms has not been allowed to dock” — and this is the Sicilian prosecutors, who are quite quite familiar with mafia tactics…

  4. blf says

    Here’s a way to do it (no milkshaing involved), York mosque counters EDL protest with tea, biscuits and football:

    A York [England] mosque dealt with a potentially volatile situation after reports that it was going to be the focus of a demonstration organised by a far-right street protest movement — by inviting those taking part in the protest in for tea and biscuits.

    Around half a dozen people arrived for the protest, promoted online by supporters of the EDL [a NKofE nazi group –blf]. A St George’s flag [the England flag, which English nazis are trying to conscript –blf] was nailed to the wooden fence in front of the mosque.

    However, after members of the group accepted an invitation into the mosque, tensions were rapidly defused over tea and plates of custard creams, followed by an impromptu game of football [soccer].


    The article is short on details, and most of the redacted portions are assorted quotes.

  5. blf says

    The Grauniad’s snark machine snarks into snarking, ‘Friends, you’re going to love Greenland. I was there on 9/11’:

    Manhattan? I’d’ve got Staten Island too for half the guilders. Louisiana? Bum deal. But Alaska? I’m giving that back to Russia

    Donald Trump tweeted today he had purchased Greenland from the Kingdom of Denmark for $15bn plus Kanye West and the state of Massachusetts.

    Still, the announcement has been questioned abroad. Prime minister of Greenland Kim Kielsen, reached this morning before the sun set for the winter, commented: “Clearly, the president’s mind is melting faster than our ice sheet.”

    Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen tried to strike a diplomatic note, saying: “May God deliver us from this delusional maniac.”

    These comments did not stop the president taking a victory lap before an enthusiastic audience at a campaign-style rally in West Virginia.

    A partial transcript of the president’s remarks follows:


    I’ve heard the critics on the socialist left. They say $15bn, that’s a lot of money that we could better spend sending hate mail to children in Israel. Well, I have a surprise for you. Guess how much this is going to cost the American taxpayer? The answer my friends — zero! Nothing! Nada! All costs will be paid for by tariffs on CHINESE dumplings! It’s true, not ONE CENT!

    (Cheers and chants of Not ONE CENT!)

    The Green people — such fine, wonderful upstanding people. They’re all eager to become Americans — not like Democrats! And the country — so clean. Reykjavik, what a city. Not like Londonstan and Stockholmbad. No crime, no rats, no dwarf Islamist mayor! And don’t let that name confuse you, Greenland. The fact is, my friends, it’s not very Green. In fact, it’s white — very, very white.

    And green, like in golf courses…

    And what a land mass! It’s the world’s biggest island, my friends! I bet you didn’t know that — larger than Australia and India put together! And we won’t need to build a wall there. Those waters are cold.


    And the Louisiana purchase? Napoleon fleeced Jefferson! 512 million acres for $15m? It sounds like a great deal, but I could have done better, I could have done better. Could have got Texas, too, for not another penny.

    Now there is one deal I feel bad about. Alaska. Folks, I hate to say it, but we kind of stole it from the Russians. They needed our dollars back in 1867 so we got a lot of land for what — two cents on the acre. That’s not a deal my friends, that’s robbery. Now you know I’m a good guy, a great guy (wild cheers) and frankly that deal troubles me. It does. So today, I called my friend Vladimir Putin and said, ‘Vlad, you can have it back. You can have Alaska back.’

    (Cheers and chants of No collusion, no obstruction!)


    And the fake news — they never stop. They say Trump hates the environment. Maybe they should look at my golf courses, the most beautiful courses in the world. I’m probably the biggest environmentalist ever. What did Obama do for Greenland’s penguins? Nothing! I’m going to change all that. I’m going to make sure that nothing happens to so much as one penguin in Greenland. Not one. No one loves the environment like Trump!

    (Cheers and chants of “Penguins! Penguins!”)

    The “Penguins! Penguins!” chant is not put in eejit quotes because, ah… (looks over his shoulder, and then up at the ceiling, at the mildly deranged one, standing there munching on some cheese…), peas. Clearly a plot by the peas.

  6. says

    “With unswerving loyalty, Stephen Miller has singular control of an issue central to the presidency”

    Washington Post link

    At […] Trump’s speeches and rallies, Stephen Miller often can be found backstage, watching the teleprompter operator. As other White House staffers chat or look at their phones, Miller’s attention remains glued to the controls.

    The energy and crowd-thrilling parts of Trump’s speeches usually happen during his impromptu diversions from the planned address. When Trump veers, colleagues say, Miller sometimes directs the operator to scroll higher or lower through the speech, so when the president is ready to pick it up again, he will hit those passages and make those points.

    Miller knows where he wants the president to go. […]

    Two and a half years into Trump’s term, Miller’s power in the White House is at its peak, […]. As one of Trump’s longest-tenured and most trusted aides, his influence in the West Wing is rivaled only by Jared Kushner, […]

    Miller, a former press aide to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), was among the first staffers on Trump’s presidential campaign. He has since provided Trump with unswerving loyalty and fierce devotion, translating the president’s frustrations and grievances into exalted language and policy prescriptions.

    In Trump, Miller has found a champion for his ideological goals. He is the singular force behind the Trump administration’s immigration agenda — making him a crucial White House figure on an issue central to the president’s reelection campaign.

    In an interview Friday with The Washington Post, Miller aggressively minimized his role in the administration and would accept no credit for its direction. […]

    Effusive in praising his boss, Miller said he experienced a “jolt of electricity to my soul” when he saw Trump announce his presidential run, “as though everything that I felt at the deepest levels of my heart were for now being expressed by a candidate for our nation’s highest office before a watching world.” […]

    […] His authority has grown in recent months as he engineered a leadership purge at the Department of Homeland Security, removing or reassigning the head of every immigration-related agency in a span of just seven weeks.

    And his long-sought policy goals are reaching fruition. On Monday, Miller secured tighter immigration rules that can disqualify green-card applicants if they are poor or deemed likely to use public assistance, cutting off a pathway to U.S. citizenship for those immigrants who could become a burden on taxpayers, or “public charges.”

    Miller’s horizon extends beyond one or even two presidential terms. He views the public charge rule as vital to his goal of reducing immigration, and he has told colleagues it will have “socially transformative effects” on American society.

    “Immigration is an issue that affects all others,” Miller said, speaking in structured paragraphs. “Immigration affects our health-care system. Immigration affects our education system. Immigration affects our public safety, it affects our national security, it affects our economy and our financial system. It touches upon everything, but the goal is to create an immigration system that enhances the vibrancy, the unity, the togetherness and the strength of our society.” […]

    “You can’t overstate how excited Stephen was for the public charge rule to be out there,” said a senior administration official who, like some others who agreed to talk about Miller, spoke on the condition of anonymity because they fear angering him.

    Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist, said it was a “perfect example” of Miller’s role in the administration.

    “He’s burrowed down into the apparatus to make fundamental change,” Bannon said in an interview. “People don’t even see a lot of the stuff he’s working on.” […]

  7. says

    From Jennifer Rubin:

    […] Trump came into office promising some fabulous yet unspecified health-care plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. No plan existed; every plan Republicans came up with managed to reduce the number of insured. Trump promised never to cut entitlements; his fiscal 2020 budget proposal would have done just that.

    Trump said he’d bring back manufacturing. In fact, it slowed and now has slumped. (“Manufacturing has slowed amid global uncertainty,” NPR reported earlier this month. “That’s one of the reasons the Federal Reserve gave for cutting interest rates this week.”)

    Trump said he’d get tough on drug companies. He hasn’t. He said his tax cut would be aimed at the middle class, deliver $4,000 a year to the average American family and permanently boost business investment, pushing growth above 3 percent. Nope, nope and nope.

    The tax cut greatly favored the rich and corporations, no $4,000 raise materialized, business investment tapered off, growth is below 3 percent, and the deficit ballooned. Trump is incapable of being embarrassed, but you’d think all those conservative think tanks, saner White House advisers (e.g. former adviser Gary Cohn) and supply-side theorists who pushed all this would be just a little sheepish. […]

    Washington Post link

  8. says

    Kudlow says White House is ‘looking at’ trying to buy Greenland

    White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday confirmed that the Trump administration is exploring trying to buy the country of Greenland, noting that the self-governing country is a “strategic place” that is rich in minerals.

    “It’s developing. We’re looking at it,” Kudlow said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Denmark owns Greenland. Denmark is an ally. Greenland is a strategic place … I’m just saying the president, who knows a thing or two about buying real estate, wants to take a look.”

    President Trump’s desire to buy Greenland, which is part of the kingdom of Denmark, was first reported last week by the Wall Street Journal. Two people with direct knowledge of the directive told The Washington Post that Trump has mentioned the idea for weeks, and aides are waiting for more direction before they decide how seriously they should look into it. […]

  9. blf says

    Democrat Steve Bullock buys website to troll Trump over Greenland:

    The President [sic] recently made clear the extent of his confused state when he apparently expressed an interest in buying the country [sic …]

    Now Montana Governor Steve Bullock has also got in on the act by purchasing the domain https://IsGreelandForSale.com

    The website contains just one question, you guessed it, is Greenland for sale? The answer at the bottom of the page is very simple: “No.” But you probably already knew that.

    Given Trump’s team have monetised just about every bit of trolling they can think of, it’s good to see the Democrats bite back. The only other message on the website is short and to the point: “But while you’re here, donate a buck to kick Donald Trump out of office.”


    Governor Bullock is also one of the candidates for the dummie nomination, and the site / stunt is part of his fundraising. As far as I can determine with a few quick searches, he’s running at c.0% in the polls and has a fairly substantial disapproval rating. His campaign also appears to be incompetent, there’s no link (that I can find) at the IsGreenLandForSale site to his campaign’s site — hence, I have no idea what his stated positions are and simply cannot be bothered to find out.

  10. blf says

    Another snark on this whole Greenland fantasy, Why America should absolutely buy Greenland:

    The president’s [sic] latest scheme is reportedly buying Greenland. This is, in fact, a brilliant idea. There are a lot of reasons for this. The first is simply that Greenland is an impossibly cool place. It is the world’s largest island. It has glaciers, whales, walruses, polar bears, and the mighty musk ox. They also have the Slædepatruljen Sirius (“Sirius Sled Dog Patrol”), an elite naval reconnaissance unit that is one of the hardest special forces in the world to join. […]

    Then there is the climate angle. The only real upside to melting Arctic ice is the increasing accessibility of various resources: oil, zinc, lead, iron ore, even gold and diamonds. If the worst-case climate change scenarios don’t pan out, well, that would be a relief; but if they do, why shouldn’t Americans be the ones to lead the world in 21st-century polar mining? In the meantime, Greenland remains one of the most important locations in the world for climate-related research. Having it would be the ultimate “Heads I win, tails you lose.” Heck, as some wags have suggested, Trump could just call it the “Green New Deal.”

    But there are other, more important strategic reasons for making Greenland a U.S. territory. (Anyone who has played Risk will know what I am talking about.)

    We interrupt this snark for a ROFL moment. Several, in fact. Enough to cause hiccups. It’s been a loonnnngggggg time since I played Risk, but that does sound very very familiar…

    So the real question is not whether we should buy Greenland. It’s how. So far the Danes are insisting that they are not interested in a sale. We should remind them that they are spending $600 million a year to subsidize the fantasy that the most remote part of North America is actually European. We should also offer them an absolutely ridiculous amount of money — paying off their entire national debt, a match of whatever their GDP is for the next 20 years, the rights to the next five Super Bowls, Trump’s second-favorite son changing his name to “Erik.” As far as the Greenlanders themselves go, they could get the Armageddon deal: no taxes ever, for the rest of their lives.

    No one is going to feel bad about the price tag in 50 years when Helge Damsgaard and her Sirius Patrol shield-mate Kaj Knudsen successfully defeat Russian forces off the coast of Uunartoq Qeqertaq armed with only a pair of laser axes.

  11. blf says

    Rather more serious than the Greenland stooopidity, Trump suspends CNN analyst’s credentials in another shot at the press:

    The move stems from a July altercation with Breitbart reporter Sebastian Gorka, and echoes actions against CNN’s Jim Acosta

    The Trump administration has fired another shot in its war with the US press, suspending the credentials of Brian Karem, White House correspondent for Playboy and an analyst for CNN.


    Karem had his pass suspended after an altercation with former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka in the White House Rose Garden in July, around a “social media summit” convened by Trump and attended by some of his most ardent supporters. Both men attracted criticism for their behaviour.

    In a letter to White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, Karem’s attorney Ted Boutrous […] described the decision as “arbitrary and unfair” and claimed the White House had not spoken to a single witness seen on video “taunting and/or threatening Mr Karem”.


    In a pair of tweets early on Saturday, Karem asked: “Q: what right does one who shows no decorum have to dictate press decorum? A: None.

    “Q: what legal authority does the WH press secretary have to regulate the free press? A: none.”

    In a statement on Saturday, White House Correspondents’ Association president Jonathan Karl said the group was “deeply concerned”, as “such a move could have a chilling effect on working journalists”.


  12. says

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, following trump’s lead, wants to cut $4.3 billion in foreign aid. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not having it.

    “I request that you work within the Administration to stop this proposed rescission, which GAO [Government Accountability Office] states is illegal, which violates the good faith of our budget negotiations, which important Republicans say is ill-advised, and which overrides Congress’ most fundamental Constitutional power,” Pelosi wrote in the letter to Mnuchin.

    Pelosi enclosed a letter from Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), the former chair of the House Appropriations Committee, expressing their own concerns about the proposed $4.3 billion in cuts to State Department and United States Agency for International Development funding.

    The Speaker also included a bipartisan letter warning against a new rescission package signed by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Ranking Member Michael McCaul (D-Texas) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee James Risch (R-Idaho) and Ranking Member Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)

    “A move to rescind funding absent policy input from the Department of State and USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development] only undermines our national security interests and emboldens our adversaries,” Rogers and Graham wrote. “We strongly urge you to reconsider this approach.”

    Other members of the Appropriations Committee also warned against the attempted rescission Friday.

    “The Trump administration’s continued efforts to illegally withhold funding that Congress has approved subverts critical norms in our democratic process,” Committee Chair Nina Lowey (D-N.Y.) said in a statement to The Hill on Friday.

    “We are insisting that the administration spend the appropriated foreign assistance funds, and are working with GAO to make sure the law is followed,” she added.


  13. says

    Current and former prosecutors have responded to Attorney General William Barr’s “deeply concerning” comments about progressive district attorneys.

    […] In the speech to the Fraternal Order of Police last weekend, Barr blasted unnamed DAs who have declined to prosecute some nonviolent offenses as “anti-law enforcement.”

    “We join this public statement to make clear that a growing number of criminal justice, law enforcement and prosecution leaders reject AG Barr’s perspective; we do not view our jobs as waging a ‘war’ against ‘criminal predators,’” the signatories wrote.

    The letter notes that crime remains at historic lows, with violent crime cut nearly in half over the past 25 years, a change data indicate cannot be attributed to an increase in incarceration.

    “Our nation is on the road to meaningful and lasting criminal justice reform — as reflected in the bipartisan passage of the First Step Act and other changes sweeping the country. It is not the time for a return to fear-driven narratives that find no foundation in fact,” the letter states.

    “We hope that Attorney General Barr and other national leaders will understand what facts, data and lessons learned from the past have taught us as we work to wisely use limited criminal justice resources to promote safer and stronger communities,” it adds.

    Signers of the letter include Philadelphia D.A. Larry Krassner (D), Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx (D), Suffolk County, Mass. D.A. Rachael Rollins (D), New York County D.A. Cy Vance (D) and William Lansdowne, former chief of the San Diego, San Jose and Richmond, Calif. police departments. […]


  14. tomh says

    Andy Borowitz chimes in on Greenland at the New Yorker.

    Denmark Offers to Buy U.S.

    COPENHAGEN (The Borowitz Report)—After rebuffing Donald J. Trump’s hypothetical proposal to purchase Greenland, the government of Denmark has announced that it would be interested in buying the United States instead.

    “As we have stated, Greenland is not for sale,” a spokesperson for the Danish government said on Friday. “We have noted, however, that during the Trump regime pretty much everything in the United States, including its government, has most definitely been for sale.”

    “Denmark would be interested in purchasing the United States in its entirety, with the exception of its government,” the spokesperson added.

    A key provision of the purchase offer, the spokesperson said, would be the relocation of Donald Trump to another country “to be determined,” with Russia and North Korea cited as possible destinations.

    If Denmark’s bid for the United States is accepted, the Scandinavian nation has ambitious plans for its new acquisition. “We believe that, by giving the U.S. an educational system and national health care, it could be transformed from a vast land mass into a great nation,” the spokesperson said.

  15. says

    tomh @18. That is so excellent!

    Meanwhile, Hair Furor is busy proving that he should be relocated to, perhaps, Siberia, where he might expose fewer people to his obnoxious personality:

    […] Trump criticized Fox News on Sunday over its recent polling, saying he doesn’t “believe” the polls in recent days that have suggested he’s losing ground to Democratic rivals and his disapproval rating is on the rise.

    “I don’t know what’s happening with Fox,” he told reporters as he prepared to leave New Jersey, saying he doesn’t “believe” the polls.

    “Fox is different, there’s no question about it,” he said, adding that he’s “the one calling the shots” on the election debates.

    Trump would also not directly answer reporters if he’ll debate in 2020. […]

    A Fox News poll released Thursday showed Trump losing head-to-head match ups against four top Democratic presidential primary candidates.

    The poll found Trump trailing Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and former Vice President Joe Biden.

    Another poll showed his disapproval rating rising to a near record.

    Earlier in the day, Trump lashed out at Fox News political analyst Juan Williams, calling him “pathetic,” “nasty,” and “wrong.”


  16. says

    Carole Cadwalladr:

    NEW: The Met police investigation into crimes committed by the Leave campaigns has “submitted a file to the CPS for Early Investigative Advice in relation to one campaign”. It says: “The other investigation is ongoing.”

    This is CPS on “Early Investigative Advice”: “assistance to help determine evidence required for prosecution..or to decide if case can proceed to court”. Note: we don’t know if it’s Vote Leave (the govt, basically) or LeaveEU (my pal, Arron Banks) since Met investigating both

    “Early” is stretching it. Electoral Commission investigation (into LeaveEU) opened after my first article on Cambridge Analytica: Feb 2017. EC referred to police: May 2018. Met *picked up files* & opened investigation: Sept 2018. “Early Investigative Advice” sought: Aug 2019

  17. says

    Bloomberg – “Russian Lawmakers Look For Foreign Hand Behind Wave of Protests”:

    Leaders of Russia’s lower house of parliament met to discuss alleged foreign meddling in the country’s affairs including in elections, amid the biggest wave of protests in Moscow in seven years.

    The council of the State Duma, comprising party leaders and top officials, held a special session on Monday to create a commission to investigate “the facts of possible interference in Russia’s internal affairs,” according to a statement on the legislature’s website. It will start work this week, the state-run Tass news service reported.

    The meeting during the Duma’s summer recess highlights the increasing alarm among officials over the growing protests, which are the biggest since Vladimir Putin returned to the presidency in 2012. Andrei Klimov, the head of a similar commission in the upper chamber of parliament, last week accused YouTube and the U.S. embassy of advertising opposition rallies, two days after an estimated 60,000 turned out to protest in Moscow.

    A series of protests that began in the capital last month, initially over the refusal to register opposition candidates for the Sept. 8 city council elections, has swiftly gained momentum after riot police beat and brutally detained peaceful protesters. Despite thousands of detentions and the imprisonment of many of the movement’s leaders, the anti-Kremlin opposition has called another protest for this weekend.

    Discontent is spreading in Russia after five years of falling living standards and last year’s unpopular pension-age hike that helped push Putin’s approval rating to the lowest since 2013. Organizers of opposition demonstrations have avoided support from abroad since Russia passed its tough “foreign agent” law as part of moves to break the 2012 protests.

    Lawmakers delayed a separate discussion on the spread of “fake news” via algorithms on Yandex NV, Russia’s largest search engine and biggest news aggregator, until October.

    The Duma’s focus on foreign meddling comes amid a broader crackdown by the authorities that includes mass unrest charges against at least 10 people arrested at the peaceful rallies, and a money-laundering probe against opposition leader Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. State TV has also taken up the theme in reporting on the Moscow protests….

    On the one hand, the bizarre irony of Putin’s cronies meeting to gripe about foreign political interference and “fake news” is almost too much. On the other, they really are probably the most conspiracy-obsessed regime since Hitler and Stalin.

  18. says

    CNN – “There could have been three more mass shootings if these men weren’t stopped, authorities say”:

    Authorities this weekend announced they had foiled three potential mass shootings after arresting three men in different states who expressed interest in or threatened to carry them out.

    All three cases were brought to authorities’ attention thanks to tips from the public.

    Here’s what we know about them….

    Mehdi Hasan: “Imagine the reaction from the right if these three faces were brown or black, or had Muslim or Latino names. Just imagine.”

  19. says

    Jim Sciutto:

    Trump flip-flops on background checks again:

  20. says

    From today’s Guardian US-politics liveblog:

    Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib will host a press conference on travel restrictions to Palestine and Israel and potential policy responses, following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to deny them entry, their offices have announced.

    The event, scheduled to begin at 4pmET, is to include people directly impacted by the travel restrictions. We’ll bring you a live stream and blog coverage.

  21. says

    Susan Glasser in the New Yorker – “Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of Trump”:

    …Like many Republicans who called Trump a “kook,” a “cancer,” and a threat to democracy before ultimately supporting him, Pompeo disagreed with much of Trump’s platform. He took issue in particular with Trump’s “America First” skepticism about the United States’ role in the world. Pompeo was a conservative internationalist who had been shaped by his Cold War-era military service, and he remained a believer in American power as the guarantor of global stability. Yet, after Trump won the Presidency, Pompeo sought a post in his Administration and did not hesitate to serve as his C.I.A. director. In 2018, after Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, by tweet, Pompeo happily replaced him as America’s top diplomat.

    Pompeo, an evangelical Christian who keeps an open Bible on his desk, now says it’s possible that God raised up Trump as a modern Queen Esther, the Biblical figure who convinced the King of Persia to spare the Jewish people. He defines his own job as serving the President, whatever the President asks of him. “A Secretary of State has to know what the President wants,” he said, at a recent appearance in Washington. “To the extent you get out of synch with that leader, then you’re just out shooting the breeze.” No matter what Trump has said or done, Pompeo has stood by him. As a former senior White House official told me, “There will never be any daylight publicly between him and Trump.” The former official said that, in private, too, Pompeo is “among the most sycophantic and obsequious people around Trump.” Even more bluntly, a former American ambassador told me, “He’s like a heat-seeking missile for Trump’s ass.”

    Pompeo’s transformation reflects the larger story of how the Republican Party went from disdaining Trump to embracing him with barely a murmur of dissent. This account of how Pompeo became the last survivor of the President’s original national-security team and his most influential adviser on international affairs is based on dozens of interviews in recent months with current and former Administration officials, U.S. and foreign diplomats, and friends and colleagues of Pompeo’s; the Secretary did not answer repeated requests for comment.

    Pompeo became a deacon of Wichita’s Eastminster Church, an evangelical congregation that eventually quit the mainstream Presbyterian Church because of its support for gay clergy. Over time, Pompeo got to know some of the city’s wealthiest benefactors, including David Murfin, one of the largest independent oil producers in Kansas, and Charles and David Koch, the billionaire Republican donors and skeptics of environmental regulation, whose company is headquartered in Wichita. In 1998, the Kochs’ venture-capital fund made a key early investment in [Pompeo’s company] Thayer. Within a few years, Pompeo was a trustee of the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy, which also has ties to the Kochs, and he was an early recruit for the Kochs’ national political organization, Americans for Prosperity.

    In 2010, amid the Tea Party backlash to President Obama, Pompeo made another career switch, running for an open Congress seat in the state’s Fourth District. The establishment climber from California had become a heartland evangelical. Pompeo ran a nasty race against the Democrat, an Indian-American state legislator named Raj Goyle, who, unlike Pompeo, had grown up in Wichita. Pompeo’s campaign tweeted praise for an article calling Goyle a “turban topper,” and a supporter bought billboards urging residents to “Vote American—Vote Pompeo.” In the heavily Republican district in a heavily Republican year, he won easily. “Pompeo’s singular ability is in navigating power,” Goyle told me. “On that I give him massive respect, the way he mapped Wichita power, the way he mapped D.C. power, the way he mapped Trump.”

    The narrative of Pompeo’s transformation has been rewritten over the years, or never told at all. Most notably, the Kochs were far more significant backers of his business than he has publicly acknowledged. In 2011, the Washington Post reported that, according to Pompeo and his aides, the investment by the Kochs’ venture-capital fund “amounted to less than 2 percent” of Thayer’s total. Their statement was highly misleading. Corporate documents for 2003 filed with the Kansas secretary of state but not previously reported show that the Kochs’ fund had a nearly twenty-per-cent interest in Thayer. The Kochs were also involved in the firm’s management. Both the president and the chief financial officer of the Kochs’ venture fund sat, at various times, on Thayer’s board of directors, and in 2000 the fund helped secure loans of up to four million dollars for the firm to buy property. The Kochs’ extensive involvement was not a secret: their fund announced on its Web site that it was part of Thayer’s “equity sponsor group,” adding that it had given Pompeo’s firm wide-ranging support, including “acquisition capital, strategic input at the board level, and guidance in environmental risk issues.”

    The environmental risk turned out to be significant. Air Capitol Plating, an aircraft-parts processing company that Thayer took over in 1999, had for years been the subject of environmental complaints because of its use of the toxic chemical trichloroethylene, or TCE, dangerous traces of which had leaked into the local groundwater. In 2000, Thayer entered into a legal consent order with Kansas authorities, in which it admitted to the pollution and agreed to clean it up.

    To address the problem, Thayer had brought in another Koch-backed firm, Cherokee, which specialized in “risk management services” for firms “that face environmental challenges.” A new entity, Cherokee Thayer, assumed liability for the cleanup, although it appears that little if any cleanup was carried out. Instead, the company and the authorities spent years arguing over the extent of the contamination and what to do about it. Meanwhile, the firm continued to pollute, failed to file required reports in 2003, 2004, and 2005, and was fined more than a hundred thousand dollars by the Environmental Protection Agency. In 2005, the state found high levels of TCE in nearby residential wells, resulting in a “threat to human health,” and the E.P.A. named it a High Priority Violator. According to the State of Kansas, this month, twenty years after Thayer purchased A.C.P., a permeable barrier will finally be installed to insure that no additional TCE flows from the site into the water supply.

    In speeches, Pompeo often describes Thayer as a “small” company and himself as a “small businessman.” He has reminisced about Thayer as “a small, dirty, smelly, beautiful machine shop.” In fact, by 2000, according to a press release that year, the Kochs and other wealthy backers had invested ninety million dollars in the firm. Despite that funding, Thayer struggled financially when Pompeo ran it—another aspect of his past that Pompeo has publicly sought to revise….

    By April of 2006, Pompeo was no longer leading the company. The firm’s post-Pompeo president lists on his résumé today the “successful turnaround” of Thayer, which was renamed Nex-Tech Aerospace and sold to the private-equity firm Highland Capital, in April, 2007, with the assistance of a company that advertised expertise in the “wind-down” of “overleveraged and underperforming companies.”…

    Soon after arriving on Capitol Hill, in 2011, he was the subject of articles in both the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post, in which he was portrayed, as one Kansas professor told the Post, as the new “congressman from Koch.” That Post article is where Pompeo and his aides misrepresented the Kochs’ investment in Thayer as an almost negligible two per cent. Pompeo would never again be directly challenged about Thayer. When he ran for reëlection in 2014, he aired a campaign ad touting his “remarkable success” leading the company.

    His positions evolved along with the story of his past. When Pompeo got to Congress, he argued that wind power was an expensive boondoggle and campaigned to end a production tax credit for wind technology, even though, not long before, he had personally invested in Sunflower Wind. By the time Pompeo joined the Trump Administration, he had written Sunflower out of his history, omitting from his Senate confirmation questionnaire his position as a member of its board.

    In Washington, Pompeo found a way onto the House Energy and Commerce Committee, the critical panel for the business interests of his Kansas patrons. He appointed a former Koch lawyer as his chief of staff and acquired a reputation as a fierce defender of the Kochs. “Stop Harassing the Koch Brothers” was the title of an op-ed that he wrote in 2012, in which he dismissed attacks on them as “evidence of a truly Nixonian approach to politics.” Two years later, he called the Kochs “great men.” His loyalty was rewarded: according to the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016 he received more campaign funds from the Kochs’ network than any other candidate in the country.

    By the 2016 Republican National Convention, Pompeo had, at least in public, changed his mind about Trump. “I am excited for a commander in chief who fearlessly puts America out in front,” he told the Wichita Eagle while in Cleveland as Trump accepted the nomination. He expressed even more excitement about Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, whom Pompeo considered a “friend and mentor” from their time together in Congress. Pence, too, had strong ties to the Kochs, and Pompeo found a connection to Pence’s campaign in Marc Short, a veteran operative for the Kochs’ organization.

    Pompeo’s own ideological agenda is also becoming clearer, as indicated by recent controversies over orders to U.S. diplomatic missions not to fly the gay-pride flag; the creation of a new State Department commission stocked with conservatives to review human-rights policy based on “natural” rights; and comments by the Secretary that were skeptical of climate change at an international climate-change conference. In the end, Pompeo may be remembered as the most conservative, ideologically driven Secretary of State ever to serve….

    More at the link.

  22. tomh says

    Bibles Are Excluded From Tariffs On Chinese Goods

    Christianity Today reported last week that Bibles and other religious books have been removed from the list of items produced in China that will be subject to U.S. tariffs. Printing companies in China are the world’s largest supplier of Bibles, publishing millions of copies each year.
    More at the link

  23. says

    The NYPD is announcing their decision on Pantaleo, the one who killed Eric Garner five years ago.

    …The preliminary speech is taking forever and is not helping…

    …He’s been fired. At long last.

  24. says

    SC @29, ultimate swamp creature Mike Pompeo … bought by the Kochs, used by Trump. And an evangelical Christian with no integrity to boot. Sheesh.

    There are a lot of layers in that story, and in every layer Pompeo comes off as incompetent (failing at business), as intolerant (lifelong anti-gay efforts), and as dangerous to American democratic ideals.

  25. says

    SC @27, that’s one heck of a lot of support from Saudi Arabia for a corrupt leader in Sudan.

    This part of the article struck me as prescient:

    The revelations of Saudi support will reinforce fears that Gulf states are seeking to advance their interests through secret deals with rulers and key power-brokers in Sudan. Sudan’s military has strong ties to the Gulf monarchies, having assisted in the Saudi-UAE war in Yemen.

  26. says

    SC @25, Trump is so damned predictable. Voices support for background checks one day, walks that support back not long after.

    At his recent rally, Trump incoherently rambled about the person who pulled the trigger being responsible, not the gun. He got the loudest applause for that. So, being Trump, he now feels he has taken the temperature of his base and the conclusion is that his base does not want, is rabidly against, background checks.

  27. says

    “A Few Thoughts on Feral Dweebs,” from Josh Marshall:

    As you may have seen I’ve been calling the parade of incel/rightist/white nationalist mass shooters or would be mass shooters “feral dweebs.” I mainly attach this description because it is accurate. Loners, angry, awkward, failures, sexually frustrated, women- and minority- and Jew-hating. It seems like a popular tag for these guys. But unsurprisingly and I think understandably some people say it makes light of something that is literally deadly serious.

    […] Killing Jews is almost always high on their list of priorities, ranked up with killing African-Americans, Hispanics, immigrants generally, women. […] mockery isn’t just a diversion or for kicks. It’s also a political act.

    It is a difficult balance. We cannot be casual or indifferent to the real danger these men pose or the cloud of menace that flows out from their specific massacres and crimes to a much broader area. But at some level we empower them by participating in their drama. The great majority truly are feral dweebs. Look at them in Charlottesville or Portland, with their handmade shields adorned with pseudo-medieval insignia cut and pasted off the Internet. They deserve our mockery as well as our resistance.

    I’ve thought this for some time but it clicked in my mind again over the weekend when I noticed some of the counter-protesters in the last round of white nationalist/counter-protest showdown were wearing banana costumes. Spokesperson for the group PopMob, Effie Baum, said “The far-right wants to get into fights and act all macho,” Baum said. “We want to make that virtually impossible.”

    Dressing up as a ninja isn’t the only way to fight fascism. […]

    Gun massacres are displays of total power and domination, albeit fleeting ones. The total power of a highly armed maniac over defenseless victims is the key to that. But it’s inseparable from the cultural, political power of guns that the mass murderers can associate themselves with in their massacres.

    […] anti-fascism must remain distinct from its dark counterpart. In civil society, once you’re engaging in tests of gang violence on the streets, you’ve already ceded half the battle. Street violence, with its principled elevation of menace and terror, is simply something racists and fascists are better prepared for. It’s more consistent with their ideology.

    At a basic level we must resist their drama and their conceits as much as their violence and their hate.


  28. says

    From Gabe Ortiz:

    Let’s all say it together: Stephen Miller is a white supremacist. There’s a lot of other things you could also call this ghoul, and “young firebrand” is among the least of them. But that’s the direction The New York Times apparently decided to go, labeling the White House aide as such in a recent profile. Why? Well, there’s always the desire to try to appear “impartial,” even when the dude is the architect behind Muslim bans and blocking brown children from nutritional programs and separating thousands of families at the southern border, the latter of which he reportedly enjoyed seeing.

    But we all know he’s a white supremacist because it’s right there in front of our faces. “In an interview,” that New York Times profiles states, “Jason Islas said Mr. Miller told him he was ending their friendship for reasons that included ‘my Latino heritage.’ He added, ‘I think he is a racist.’” But this is also something that’s been clear for years now, if more people had done more listening. Univision’s Fernando Peinado talked to Islas over two years ago, in his February 2017 profile, “How White House advisor Stephen Miller went from pestering Hispanic students to designing Trump’s immigration policy.” […]


  29. says

    Another Miami Herald Bombshell Spotlights Epstein’s Extreme Privileges in Florida Lockup

    Why was he allowed to buy small women’s panties from the jail?

    Women’s underwear. […] These were among the commissary purchases that disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein made about a decade ago while serving a 13-month stint in a Palm Beach jail for soliciting a minor for sex, according to thousands of pages of sheriff’s records obtained by the Miami Herald. The trove sheds new light on the multimillionaire’s habits and immense privileges in the Florida lockup in 2008 and 2009. […]

    The special treatment Epstein received a decade ago was already the subject of an internal investigation, after it was revealed that he could walk in and out of his cell at will and leave the facility 12 hours a day, six days a week, for a work-release program, an arrangement that allegedly allowed him to have sexual contact with at least one young woman. […]

    The new sheriff’s department records add fresh details about the cushy arrangement. Eventually, Epstein’s work release schedule was expanded from six to seven days a week, and he was allowed to spend as many as 16 hours a day outside the jail, including time at his home. Off-duty deputies wearing business suits provided Epstein “security”, according to the records, sometimes guarding doors from the outside, rather than watching over him up close.

    Records referred to him not as an inmate, but as a “client.”

    […] then-Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Marie Villafaña […] wrote that allowing him to spend time in a private office “making telephone calls, web-surfing, and having food delivered to him is probably not in accordance with the objectives of imprisonment.” (Villafaña, who had approved a controversial nonprosecution agreement that allowed Epstein to plead to lesser charges, recently resigned.)

    […] Villafaña said that although Epstein was supposed to work at a West Palm Beach charity he created just before being jailed, he rarely spent time there. “The foundation, its offices, and Mr. Epstein’s purported job schedule were all created on the eve of Mr. Epstein’s incarceration in order to provide him with a basis for seeking work release,” Villafaña wrote. The charity was dissolved the year Epstein was released, according to the Herald. […]


  30. says

    Another lawsuit against the Trump administration:

    Immigration advocates filed a sweeping, first-of-its kind class action lawsuit in federal court against the Trump administration on Monday, claiming official policies and lack of oversight related to the border and immigration crisis have led to major lapses in medical and mental health care in nearly 160 detention facilities across the country.

    Detainees with medical and mental health conditions and those with disabilities face settings so brutal, including delays and denials of medical care, overuse of solitary confinement and lack of disability accommodations, they have led to permanent harm and 24 deaths in the last two years, according a portion of the 200-page complaint […]


  31. says

    “An odious little grifter” … that’s not Fox News’ usual coverage of National Rifle Association leaders.

    Fox News host Steve Hilton is blasting National Rifle Association (NRA) CEO Wayne LaPierre, calling him “an odious little grifter” who needs to be shown the door.

    Hilton’s criticism comes amid leadership upheaval at the NRA, with at least four members of the gun rights lobbying group’s board of directors stepping down in the past few weeks, following the resignation of NRA President Oliver North in April.

    Meanwhile, earlier this month, board members had to defend a reported proposal for the organization to spend $6 million on a Dallas-area mansion for LaPierre. […]

    Hilton listed several high-ticket purchases LaPierre has made over the years while running the NRA, including a $5 million estate and luxury travel and rent costs incurred during trips to the Bahamas and throughout Europe that entailed private air charters and drivers.

    “He made NRA members pay for a trip to Italy and Budapest in 2014, including $6,500 at the Four Seasons Hotel. I’ve been to that hotel. It’s lovely,” Hilton said. […]


  32. says

    Arms race update:

    The U.S. military conducted a flight test Sunday of a nonnuclear cruise missile that was previously banned under a treaty President Trump withdrew from this month.

    “On Sunday, August 18, 2019 at 2:30 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time, the Department of Defense conducted a flight test of a conventionally-configured ground-launched cruise missile at San Nicolas Island, California,” the Pentagon said in a statement Monday.

    “The test missile exited its ground mobile launcher and accurately impacted its target after more than 500 kilometers of flight,” the statement added.

    The Pentagon will use data and lessons from the test to “inform the Department of Defense’s development of future intermediate-range capabilities,” the statement concluded.

    The United States officially exited the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty on Aug. 2, after initiating the process to withdraw six months before.

    The treaty, credited with helping end the Cold War, banned the United States and Russia from having nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. […]

    Moscow has denied violating the treaty, instead blaming the United States for its demise.

    Though Trump’s critics generally agree that Russia has been violating the INF Treaty, they fear the U.S. withdrawal will lead to a Cold War-style arms race. […]


  33. says

    Oh, FFS!

    […] Trump alleged Monday that Google manipulated millions of voters into supporting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, saying the company “should be sued” in his latest attack on the tech giant.

    The president in a tweet referenced the work of a controversial psychologist [total whacko] who has claimed to have found evidence that Google’s search algorithms have been influencing voters.

    “Wow, Report Just Out! Google manipulated from 2.6 million to 16 million votes for Hillary Clinton in 2016 Election!” Trump wrote. “This was put out by a Clinton supporter, not a Trump Supporter! Google should be sued. My victory was even bigger than thought!”

    Trump appears to be referring to the work of Robert Epstein, a researcher with a group based in Vista, Calif., called the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology. Epstein testified in a Senate hearing in June about what he calls the “Search Engine Manipulation Effect” and claimed that his research shows Google’s search results pushed at least 2.6 milllion people to vote for Clinton in 2016.

    Google CEO Sundar Pichai was asked about Epstein’s work last year when he testified before a House panel and said the company had investigated it and pointed to issues with the study’s methodology.

    In 2017, Google dismissed Epstein’s research, telling The Washington Post that it amounts to “nothing more than a poorly constructed conspiracy theory.”

    Yep. That’s about right. “A poorly constructed conspiracy theory.” So, of course Trump will love it.

    Conservatives have increasingly hurled allegations that social media companies like Facebook and Google are censoring right-wing voices, though they’ve offered little evidence to support their suspicions.

    Google and others have all denied that politics plays any role in how they moderate content. […]


    From the readers comments:

    The “evidence” is sloppy research from a man who has had a grudge against Google since 2012 when they shut down his web links because they planted malware.
    He tagged judicial Watch which is plenty of proof for his cult.
    “This was put out by a Clinton supporter”

    Then he links to Judicial Watch.


  34. says

    Politico – “No. 4 House Democrat backs opening Trump impeachment inquiry”:

    Rep. Ben Ray Luján, the No. 4 House Democrat, announced his support for an impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump on Monday.

    Luján, a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is the highest-ranking House Democrat to back impeachment thus far. The New Mexico Democrat, who currently serves as assistant speaker, is running to fill an open Senate seat in his home state next year.

    “I support moving forward with an impeachment inquiry, which will continue to uncover the facts for the American people and hold this president accountable,” Luján said in a statement, citing the findings from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report released this spring.

    “What is evident is that President Trump is abdicating his responsibility to defend our nation from Russian attacks and is putting his own personal and political interests ahead of the American people.”

    Although Luján is leaving the House next year, his decision to back impeachment could still put significant pressure on other rising Democrats to either come out in favor or explain why they remain opposed to the idea.

    The highest-ranking Latino in Congress, Luján is the 127th House Democrat to back impeachment proceedings, according to a POLITICO tally. He is also one of more than two dozen Democrats to announce support for opening an impeachment inquiry into removing Trump from office since the House decamped for a six-week break in late July.

    Luján said much of his decision was based on Mueller’s report, which detailed repeated election interference by the Russian government and outlined nearly a dozen instances in which Trump attempt to obstruct the investigation.

    Luján’s endorsement of an impeachment inquiry is a notable milestone because he helped elect many of the House’s current crop of freshmen as the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last year. Backers of an impeachment inquiry have indicated that Luján’s support could provide critical momentum among a swath of freshmen who have yet to endorse an inquiry….

  35. says

    Update to blf’s #6 – Guardian – “People on rescue ship off Italy at breaking point, say doctors”:

    The medical and psychological condition of people onboard a rescue boat anchored off the Italian island of Lampedusa for 18 days has reached breaking point, doctors have said.

    The vessel operated by the Spanish charity Proactiva Open Arms has been refused permission to dock by Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini. On Monday Open Arms suggested chartering a plane to fly the 107 migrants onboard to Spain.

    A group of doctors who visited the vessel last week said sanitary and hygienic conditions were very poor and the boat was not fit to hold such a large number of people.

    Spain and five other EU countries last week offered to take the migrants, but until they disembark the distribution plan could not be set in motion.

    “European states are asking a small NGO like ours to deal with three days of navigation, in adverse weather conditions, with 107 exhausted people onboard,’, said Riccardo Gatti, the president of Open Arms. “This is completely incomprehensible.”

    Spain’s latest offer of a port in the Balearic Islands, 600 miles west of Lampedusa, was still unfeasible, the charity said.

    Carmelo La Magra, a priest in Lampedusa who has been working with migrants, said every extra day spent on the ship “is like an extension of a torture”. “These are political games, maybe a show of power but what is worse is that this is done on the backs of these poor and vulnerable people,” he said.

    The migrants were taken to safety in early August from traffickers’ foundering dinghies off Libya. Salvini reiterated his refusal to let them disembark on Monday, describing the medical report as “fake news” and the “latest stitch-up from the NGOs”.

    Authorising disembarkation now would be perceived as a political defeat for Salvini, who wants snap elections in Italy to take advantage of his strong polling numbers.

    “The refusal to allow the Open Arms to land certainly has a symbolic and a strategic value,” said Massimiliano Panarari, a politics professor at Rome’s Luiss University. “Salvini’s refusal to allow disembarkation is also a way to reaffirm the political identity of [his party] the League.”

    Their political identity is We’re Sadists.

  36. says

    Breaking from CNBC – “Facebook, Twitter accuse China of running disinformation campaign against Hong Kong protesters”:

    Twitter and Facebook have suspended numerous accounts that are believed to be tied to a state-backed information campaign originating from inside China.

    Twitter said Monday it suspended 936 accounts that are thought to be related to the activity. The company said the disinformation campaign was designed to “sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political protest movement on the ground.”

    “Based on our intensive investigations, we have reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation,” the company said in a blog post. “Specifically, we have identified large clusters of accounts behaving in a coordinated manner to amplify messages related to the Hong Kong protests.”…

  37. says

    SC @44, I saw that segment. Rachel Maddow did such a great job of nailing Wayne LaPierre, and the NRA. That closet was a large walk-in closet, with an attached vanity area. Still not good enough for Wayne. LOL.

    I’m repeating what is in the Tweet o’ the day that SC posted in comment 49. The tweet is from Hillary Clinton.

    The debunked study you’re referring to was based on 21 undecided voters. For context that’s about half the number of people associated with your campaign who have been indicted.

    Hillary’s comment is in response to ill-informed and conspiracy-theory-garbage posted by Trump (see my comment 43.)

  38. says

    Team Trump is determined to further undermine Planned Parenthood:

    Planned Parenthood is leaving the federal government’s Title X program, which funds family planning services for low-income people, due to a new Trump administration rule prohibiting health care providers from making abortion referrals.

    The organization announced its exit Monday, after an appeals court on Friday allowed the Trump administration to go forward in implementing the so-called “gag” rule.

    “We will not be bullied into withholding abortion information from our patients,” Alexis McGill Johnson, Planned Parenthood Federation of America acting president and CEO, said on a press call Monday.

    About four in 10 Title X recipients use Planned Parenthood for health services, McGill Johnson said. She said that many people will be left without any options for reproductive services.

    “In places like Utah, where Planned Parenthood is the only Title X grantee, or Minnesota, where Planned Parenthood serves 90 percent of the Title X patients, it will simply be impossible for other health centers to fill the gap,” she said.

    She refused to discuss how much revenue Planned Parenthood affiliates receive through Title X, but according to Los Angeles Times, $60 million of the program’s funding goes to Planned Parenthood clinics.

    Others on the call stressed that people of color will be disproportionately affected by the lack of Title X providers, and called on the Senate to adopt government spending legislation passed the House blocking the administration from implementing the rule. […]


  39. says

    From readers comments responding to the article excerpted in comment 55:

    So the court is granting en banc review of the panel’s decision to lift the stay on the gag rule, and they’re hearing it in a pretty expedited schedule? I don’t see how that bodes well for the gag rule.

    Note that en banc review is different in the 9th Circuit than elsewhere. The 9th has so many judges that an en banc panel means the chief judge (a Clinton appointee) and 10 randomly-selected judges. If I am reading the 9th Circuit’s local rules correctly, the panel doesn’t get selected until after the full court has voted in favor of taking a case to en banc review.
    Funny. A baker can refuse to bake a cake for a gay couple, because of their 1st Amendment Rights.

    But a doctor can’t engage in their 1st Amendment Rights to advise a patient about healthcare options.

    Got it.
    What, Trump hasn’t ordered Planned Parenthood to be sanctioned and severed from the U.S. banking system yet?
    There is a lot more than just Planned Parenthood being impacted by this sort of thing. This particular odious regulation seems to be separate from the “Global Gag Rule,” which was reinstated by the Trump admin immediately after taking office. They blocked all international aid based on the same rules that they are now imposing on PP.

  40. tomh says

    More under the radar activity from the Administration, the kind of stuff that goes on constantly. Not that Trump himself has any clue about it.


    “The Trump administration’s Justice Department on Friday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that a federal civil rights law does not bar discrimination against transgender employees, staking a position against the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s push for broader workplace protections”; also noted is that the DOJ’s brief in R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission “was not signed by the EEOC’s general counsel, an indication the agency did not support the submission to the high court.”

  41. says

    More white supremacist actions and depravity on the part of Stephen Miller:

    White House aide and white supremacist Stephen Miller reportedly sought to block undocumented immigrant kids from a public school education as far back as 2017, but was ultimately unable to go forward with his plan because, well, it would be unconstitutional.

    Miller and his allies “sought for months for a way to give states the power to block undocumented immigrant children from enrolling in public schools,” Bloomberg reports. “They abandoned the idea after being told repeatedly that any such effort ran afoul of a 1982 Supreme Court case guaranteeing access to public schools.” Still, it demonstrates the extent to which this administration will go to make life miserable for brown and black families—and the extent of Miller’s depravity. […]


    Followup to comments 10 and 37.

  42. says

    From the G liveblog (link @ #28 above):

    Facebook said the Trump campaign violated the platform’s rules with advertisements targeting women, Popular Information reported on Monday.

    Facebook advertising guidelines prohibit content that targets “personal attributes,” including ads that make “direct or indirect assertions or implications about a person’s… gender identity.”

    After Popular Information asked Facebook about Trump campaign ads targeting women, the company said it has notified the Trump campaign that the ads violate policy. “They can’t continue to run unless fixed,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

    Facebook launched tools for more transparency in political advertising and hired more than 3,000 people in 2018 to manually review ads for violations. But the company said it still relies primarily on automated tools to check ads.

    Earlier this month, the campaign launched a number of ‘Latinos for Trump’ ads days after an anti-Latino domestic terror attack in El Paso, Texas, where the shooter’s motive was linked to Trump’s rhetoric regarding immigrants.

    I honestly don’t know whether pollsters or pundits have really come to appreciate just how much many of us, especially women, loathe Trump and his henchmen.

  43. says

    Guardian editorial – “The Guardian view on preventing no deal: do whatever it takes”:

    Boris Johnson has been prime minister less than four weeks. In the absence of parliament, he has made a spirited attempt to pretend that British exit from the European Union would be straightforward. Brexit will definitely take place on 31 October, he has insisted. It will either involve the EU abandoning the Irish backstop or there will be no deal. The difference scarcely matters to Mr Johnson, who insists Brexit will be a trouble-free exercise in whatever form it comes, whose dangers have been exaggerated and whose rewards underestimated.

    Every bit of this was false when Mr Johnson first concocted it. It is even more threadbare now – and getting more dangerous by the day. However, we may now be witnessing the first faint wisps of recognition from within the government that things are not going to work out as they pretend.

    Cabinet Office documents on the likely aftershocks of a no-deal Brexit were leaked at the weekend. They covered every aspect of public policy. They are devastating. All of the impacts are bad; some are likely to be enduringly so. But the Johnson government’s response to the leak was telling. Ministers focused on issues of process, not on the documents’ substance.

    This is a classic diversion tactic. The Operation Yellowhammer documents show that no deal will have consequences far beyond the “bumps in the road” of which ministers speak so complacently. Those so-called bumps include: the return of a hard border in Ireland; months of logjams at Channel ports; disruption of fresh food, medicines and fuel supplies; delays at airports; clashes at sea between UK and EU fishing boats; severe restrictions on Gibraltar’s frontier with Spain; insupportable strain on parts of the care system; exceptional demands on UK embassies from expats; and protests requiring extra police. One almost throwaway line observes that “low-income groups will be disproportionately affected” by price rises. To these can now be added the inhuman shambles that would follow the ending of freedom of movement on 31 October, another Windrush in the making, and on an immensely larger scale.

    Mr Johnson’s response is not to engage directly with these appalling possibilities. Instead he reiterated in Truro on Monday that the EU will shift its backstop position and let him off the hook. In other words, he recognises that a deal is better than no deal, but still pretends, against all evidence, that the EU will abandon a central part of the withdrawal agreement. This too is a fantasy. Yet it shows that striking a deal – if it can be done – is preferable to crashing out. Mr Johnson will have to be a lot more honest when he meets German and French leaders this week if he wishes to have even a marginal hope of making one.

    But European leaders face questions too. They may think, as many in the UK also hope, that the combination of Johnsonian bluster and the parliamentary arithmetic on no deal means that the prime minister’s reign will soon be aborted. They may think, as some here also do, that Mr Johnson’s government will soon be replaced by a one opposed to no deal. But they need to be careful. Neither of these outcomes may happen before 31 October. Neither of them may happen at all.

    The dangerous recklessness on the leave side of Britain’s Brexit divide is matched by a worrying haplessness on the remain side. The divisions between remainers and anti-no-dealers, and between the parties within the anti-no-deal majority, remain frustratingly strong. Jeremy Corbyn plays a part in many of these divides, but he also has to be part of any solution. His speech in Corby on Monday, in which he proposed a vote of no confidence in Mr Johnson’s government followed by a time-limited caretaker administration that would avert no deal and call an election, should be taken seriously, not dismissed.

    Mr Corbyn’s speech is not the last word on the issues. His proposed caretaker administration might, for instance, involve other parties. But the importance of avoiding no deal is immense and pressing. All opponents of such a cataclysm should be ready to do whatever it takes.

    (I apologize for quoting it in full, but it seemed too important to leave anything out. Support the Guardian!)

  44. says

    This is a big crowd for Warren in Minnesota.

    “They let you dream just to watch ’em shatter
    You’re just a step on the boss-man’s ladder
    But you got dreams he’ll never take away
    You’re in the same boat with a lotta your friends
    Waitin’ for the day your ship’ll come in
    An’ the tide’s gonna turn and it’s all gonna roll your way”

  45. blf says

    SC@61, “Is there any police union that isn’t terrible?”

    Maybe the Ethical Order of Police, mentioned in this 2017 article about teh St Louis (and Ferguson, Black Lives Matter, et al.), St Louis police condemned for ‘alarming’ attitude towards protesters:

    Officers chant Whose streets? Our streets after breaking up protests […]


    One of the primary catalysts for concern was a video that emerged on Monday of a group of officers loudly mocking the popular protest chant “Whose streets? Our streets” after making a series of arrests.

    “That chant goes against the very code of ethics we swore to abide by,” said Heather Taylor, president of the Ethical Order of Police, a local organization founded by African American officers. “Whether we agree with demonstrations, protests or acts of violence, it is our job to do our job free of personal bias.”


    I’m not sure they are a union per se, and the Grauniad may have gotten the name wrong, as the only seemingly-similar link I can find is to the Ethical Society of Police. Detective Sergeant Heather Taylor (quoted above) is the president of the ESOP, who are in St Louis, so I think it is the same organisation (more info at the ESOP link).

  46. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Last night, Lawrence O’Donnell (Last Word on MSNBC) had on Professor Rachel Bitecofer of Christopher Newport University, who correctly predicted the blue wave in Virginia state elections, and later the 40 seat pick-up by the US House democrats. Her research indicates that any democrat running against the Hair Furor, will start out with 278 electoral votes as a minimum.
    Link with video below the text.

  47. tomh says

    @ Lynna #55

    The NYT editorial on the subject:

    It Just Got Harder to Get Birth Control in America
    By The Editorial Board
    The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.
    Aug. 19, 2019

    This has been an ominous year for reproductive rights in America, with states including Georgia, Alabama and now Tennessee in a race to the bottom to pass the most extreme anti-abortion law in the nation.

    But while those high-profile abortion bans make their way through the courts — they were designed to provoke legal challenges that could threaten Roe v. Wade — a more immediate threat to women’s health care has been brewing. The Trump administration has quietly been working to gut the Title X family planning program, which helps poor women afford birth control, cancer screenings and testing for H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted infections. On Monday, the administration’s efforts paid off: Planned Parenthood, which serves about 40 percent of Title X patients around the country, felt forced to withdraw from the program.

    The nearly 50-year-old Title X program is an unsung hero of American public health. In 2017, Title X clinics served more than four million women, 42 percent of them uninsured, according to the federal Office of Population Affairs, which administers the program. The Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports reproductive rights, found that Title X clinics helped prevent more than 822,000 unintended pregnancies in 2015. The institute estimates that for every dollar the federal government spends on family planning, it saves more than $7.

    The Trump administration’s new Title X rule, announced in February, will lay waste to that progress. The rule bars facilities that receive Title X money from providing abortions, even with a separate source of money, as has been required by law for decades. It also prohibits clinics from referring patients for an abortion at a different facility — in other words, staff members would effectively have to pretend that abortion is not a legal medical option.

    And that’s exactly the point for this administration: to treat abortion as though it were illegal, until perhaps that wishful thinking becomes reality. A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services said last week that by leaving Title X, Planned Parenthood is “choosing to place a higher priority on the ability to refer for abortion instead of continuing to receive federal funds to provide a broad range of acceptable and effective family planning methods and services.” According to the Trump administration, there’s abortion, and then there’s “acceptable” care.

    At the same time, making it harder for women to get birth control isn’t an accidental side effect of this rule change. Current and former members of the administration have expressed opposition to birth control, and one of only three new recipients of Title X grants this year is a Catholic-affiliated group that does not provide contraception beyond guidance on the so-called rhythm method.

    In response to the administration’s actions, the House in June passed a bill that would block the domestic gag rule, as the Title X rule change is sometimes called. Title X supporters could urge their senators to follow suit. Other ways to help: Ask your state leaders to fill any gaps in funding caused by this new rule, and look into directly supporting a local family planning program or a clinic that’s lost its Title X funding.

    This whole sorry affair is a reminder that while many Americans are rightly afraid of a future without reproductive rights, in some ways that future is already here. Some of the most dangerous threats to reproductive rights have been creeping up on us for years.

  48. blf says

    Loosely related to @61 and @70, albeit not a “good” police union, I lost my job for keeping Charlottesville police accountable. I’d do it again:

    I wrote just six pieces before the column was canceled. Two centered on the need for police accountability in a city traumatized by the memory of officers standing by as neo-Nazis beat residents in the streets.

    In a column published in May [2019(?)], I mentioned a photograph taken in August 2017 of an officer with his arms around James Napier, of the neo-Confederate group the Highwaymen, and Tammy Lee of the American Freedom Keepers militia. Lee’s caption read: You should know the police escorted us and worked days with us 2b there.


    I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was when I received a letter from the attorney for the local Southern States Police Benevolent Association, sent on behalf of the officer in the picture. One of the remarks the letter quoted and claimed to be odious and defamatory was taken directly from the after action report, commissioned by the city, about police conduct that summer. […]

    I read the letter. I spoke to an attorney. I spoke to another. I retained one. But I wasn’t worried. Even with my layman’s eyes, I could see right through what was clearly an empty threat. There is a certain class of citizen for whom hurt feelings are the worst form of assault and the best redress is a demand for an apology on legal letterhead. Naively, I assumed the paper was as committed to unashamed truth-telling as I was and that it too would take the letter in stride.

    It did not.

    I’m not surprised a police officer and a former prosecutor would try to weaponize the legal system to silence a critic. I am surprised the paper’s owners reacted with such incredible cowardice. […]

    Despite the editor’s best efforts on my behalf and the absence of any followthrough on the threat of a defamation suit, the paper’s owners did not want to continue to run my column. The attorney for the police union got exactly what she wanted: the paper fired the person who wouldn’t stop publicly advocating for a strong civilian review board, a nascent body whose failure would benefit the attorney’s clients.


    I get so many death threats I can catalog them by the gunmaker mentioned. […] And if I had my short time with a paper byline again, I wouldn’t pull my punches.

  49. says

    Creator of New York Times slavery project not surprised by conservative meltdown

    Nikole Hannah-Jones made a case for putting enslaved Africans at the center of America’s origins story. A lot of white conservatives threw a fit.

    […] the visionary behind its ambitious examination of racial issues stemming from the 1619 arrival of enslaved people in the English colonies, isn’t the least bit surprised by the meltdown among white conservatives reacting to her recasting American history with African Americans and slavery at the forefront.

    “The whole reason we did the project in the first place is because our society has been unwilling to grapple with the legacy of slavery, with the centrality of slavery to the development of the United States,” Hannah-Jones said in an interview Monday on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes. “So this isn’t shocking to me.”

    Her remarks came in reaction to uproar over The 1619 Project, which launched on Sunday and reframed American history in the context of the 400th anniversary this month of the arrival of a ship carrying enslaved Africans into a port near Hampton, Virginia. […]

    Predictably, conservative activists rushed to condemn the project, often boldly stating their opposition without reading it or comprehending its contents. For example, arch-conservative commentator Eric Erickson inaccurately described the project’s authors as “opinion writers who profit from seeing things through racial lenses and keeping racial tension aflame as much as Trump does.”

    In fact, only one of the project’s authors is an opinion writer — New York Times columnist Jamelle Bouie — and most are journalists and historians, well steeped in writing about America’s racial past and present.

    A common complaint among many of the conservative critics was that the project struck them as an attack on President Donald Trump […]

    “Anyone [who] would call this a propaganda tool or that somehow I’d spent, you know, since February working on this to commemorate the anniversary because we, the New York Times, wanted to ‘get’ Trump is, of course, ridiculous,” Hannah-Jones said.

    “We didn’t plan the anniversary to happen in August of 2019, just so it would coincide with Trump’s issues with being called a racist.”

    Instead, Hannah-Jones explained that The 1619 Project “excavates our true nature and is in direct opposition to our founding myths.”

    And, she said, that is why there has been such a negative reaction among many white conservatives who want to cling to a version of American history that places them at the exclusive center of the story.

    “I think what a lot of conservatives want is they want to choose which parts of our path we remember and which parts of our path we forget,” she said.

    “And I don’t understand why people are so afraid of, we’re simply revealing the truth about our country.”

  50. says

    Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro just became the tenth Democratic Party candidate to qualify for the upcoming debate in September.

    Joining him on stage will be Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Beto O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.

  51. says

    Trump is again playing the part of Asshole in Chief.

    Sorry, I don’t buy Rep. Tlaib’s tears. I have watched her violence, craziness and, most importantly, WORDS, for far too long. Now tears? She hates Israel and all Jewish people. She is an anti-Semite. She and her 3 friends are the new face of the Democrat Party. Live with it

    Representative Rashida Tlaib was emotional, and sometimes wiping away tears, during her recent press conference. Yes, her emotion looked completely genuine, and unlike Trump, she discussed the substance of the issues.


    As a young girl visiting Palestine to visit my family I watched as my mother had to go through dehumanizing checkpoints even though she was a United States citizen and proud American.

    Link to video on CNN

  52. says

    Elizabeth Warren offered a plan to repeal the 1994 crime law authored by Joe Biden

    […] “That punitive ‘tough on crime’ approach was wrong, it was a mistake, and it needs to be repealed. […] There are some sections of law, like those relating to domestic violence, that should be retained — but the bulk of the law must go.”

    […] The bill allocated increased money for prison construction, made gang membership a crime and included a “three strikes” provision that imposed mandatory life sentences for a violent felony after two previous offenses.

    Other provisions of the law have been more widely praised by progressives, including Warren, such as the Violence Against Women Act and an assault weapons ban, which later expired in 2004.

    Warren’s plan also addresses the so-called school-to-prison pipeline by calling for the decriminalization of truancy and increasing mental health personnel in schools. […]

    Warren also pledged in her proposal to rescind an executive order signed by President Trump allowing school districts to participate in what’s known as the 1033 program, which allows local law enforcement, including school police departments, access to surplus military hardware.

    Warren said her plan would boost investment in “violence interruption” programs that intervene in communities to prevent homicide and gun violence through focused deterrence.

    “These programs are cost-effective and have multiplier effects: transforming community climate, improving health outcomes, and boosting local economies,” Warren wrote, noting the success of such efforts in Chicago, Boston and Oakland, Calif.

    “It is a false choice to suggest a tradeoff between safety and mass incarceration,” she wrote. “By spending our budgets not on imprisonment but on community services that lift people up, we’ll decarcerate and make our communities safer.” […]

  53. says

    From Wonkette:

    NO RECESSION! NO RECESSION! YOU ARE THE RECESSION THAT IS DEFINITELY NEVER EVER HAPPENING SINCE DONALD TRUMP GAVE RICH PEOPLE A GIANT TAX CUT AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER! You can tell the White House isn’t panicking by all the emergency measures they keep proposing to stave off the economic downturn they’re certain isn’t on the way.

    Trump’s economic advisor Larry Kudlow is out there drunk-uncling to Chuck Todd about fear of optimism. Trade advisor Peter Navarro is contradicting his own research on the meaning of the inverted yield curve — […]. And Donald Trump has declared an economic downturn is unpossible because, “Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut, and they’re loaded up with money.”

    Meanwhile at the White House, they are absolutely losing their shit at the prospect of an economic downturn during the 2020 election. The Washington Post reports that Trump’s advisors have floated passing a payroll tax cut to get more money into the pockets of America’s already “rich” consumers. […]

    The White House adamantly denies that any such policy is under consideration, despite three sources confirming to the Post that senior White House officials were discussing it as recently as Monday. And while payroll cuts for people who show up to work are less offensive than a tax giveaway to rich people, the move would still blow a $70-75 billion hole in government revenues for every percent the government leaves on the table, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Which is a weird move when everything is fine, nothing to see here, we’re all just swimming in extra cash thanks to our Fearless Leader.

    […] Trump would like those “lack of vision” dipshits at the Federal Reserve to gift him a drastic rate cut of one percent — i.e. four times what they did three weeks ago — and some quantitative easing to devalue the dollar, too, for good measure.

    In sum, the economy is the strongest it’s ever been. There’s absolutely nothing to worry about. And if the fire department would simply aim all their hoses at the dumpster fire that’s not burning over here, that would be MAGA-tastic!

    From Hair Furor:

    Our Economy is very strong, despite the horrendous lack of vision by Jay Powell and the Fed, but the Democrats are trying to “will” the Economy to be bad for purposes of the 2020 Election. Very Selfish! Our dollar is so strong that it is sadly hurting other parts of the world…

    …..The Fed Rate, over a fairly short period of time, should be reduced by at least 100 basis points, with perhaps some quantitative easing as well. If that happened, our Economy would be even better, and the World Economy would be greatly and quickly enhanced-good for everyone!

  54. blf says

    In teh NKofE, Detention of Muslims at UK ports and airports ‘structural Islamophobia’:

    Muslims are being detained at ports and airports for up to six hours by law enforcement using controversial counter-terrorism powers so disproportionately that the practice has become Islamophobic, according to human rights group Cage.

    The organisation added there is growing anecdotal evidence that Muslim women are being forced to remove their headscarves when stopped, even though the rate that such stops lead to a conviction is 0.007%, according to Cage’s analysis of 420,000 incidences.


    In the letter, Adnan Siddiqui, the director of Cage, said that tens of thousands of people were being subject to “suspicionless stops” and that “the practice is a manifestation of structural Islamophobia, which is experienced as harassment”.

    One Briton, Omer, who asked only to be identified by his first name, told the Guardian he had been stopped 40 times when returning to the UK since 2005 but has never been convicted of any offence.

    Omer said: “I get stopped 95% of the time, coming back from Belgium, France and Italy.” He said he had become so fed up with being repeatedly questioned he often used one-word answers to reply.

    A former medical professional, Omer was stopped at Heathrow returning from Lahore, Pakistan, after a flight in which he had helped a teenager having a fit. But on leaving the plane he was nevertheless questioned. “This is a law that is almost impossible to beat.”

    Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows people to be detained at the border for up to six hours if law enforcement is concerned they could be engaged in terrorist activities. Detainees have no right to silence, must surrender their phones, computers and passwords and provide fingerprints and DNA on request.


    Muslims stopped say that questions frequently focus on their religious beliefs, and they are asked if they pray frequently, if they fast and if they have been to Mecca.

    “The whole thing is done in such a way as to make you feel that you are doing something wrong for simply practising Islam,” said a filmmaker who had previously worked for aid organisations in Syria but on this occasion was travelling to Amsterdam via Dover.


  55. says

    Update on Tucker Carlson’s stupidity and depravity, (He’s back!):

    Earlier this month, mere days after a racist lunatic in El Paso gunned down a bunch of people in a Walmart because he was mad about immigration, Tucker Carlson proclaimed that it was a “hoax” that white supremacy was any kind of serious problem in this country.

    Conveniently, he left on “vacation” the day after. Fox claimed that this vacation was “previously planned” and had absolutely nothing to do with the massive backlash to his saying something so incredibly ignorant. […] Fox probably still hoped that by the time he returned, his advertisers would have forgotten all about it.

    That did not happen! In between the time when Tucker Carlson lol’ed at the idea that an ideology that is clearly killing a whole lot of people and getting more and more prevalent is some kind of problem, he lost multiple advertisers — including Long John Silver’s, which pulled all of it’s advertising on Fox entirely. […]

    Also leaving Tucker were HelloFresh, Nestle, SteinMart, Calm and SoFi. […]

    Still, Tucker made it back last night. And he decided to use that time to specifically point out that “botched abortions” — by which he meant abortions in which a child was “born alive” and then left to die for no reason other than abject cruelty, which is not a real thing that happens — probably kill even more human beings than mass shootings do. He doesn’t know for sure, but he thinks that might be the case. […]

    Most U.S. states don’t even require the collection of data on botched abortions. So it’s almost certain that there are dozens or even hundreds of other cases happening in the rest of the country. We don’t know that, but it seems obvious. If that’s true, that would make botched abortions more common than deaths from mass shootings. Think about that for a minute. In a sane society this would be a national scandal. America is allowing late-term abortion but some of the victims are inconveniently surviving. You would think we would at least want to know how often this happens and do our best to ensure that the survivors are kept alive, but no. Currently that is not the case at all for the Democratic Party.

    That is definitely some logic, the thing we don’t know being obvious, and if true, meaning an entirely other thing must be true if the first one is, which seems obvious but we don’t know. Regardless, let us state it as all the facts!

    The belief that there are babies out there who “survive” late term abortions and are then just left to die is, of course, absolutely absurd. […]

    It is segments like this and, you know, pretending white supremacy isn’t a problem while actively promoting white supremacy, that have led to Carlson losing more than 70 advertisers since December of last year. He’s now down to only 15. The best chance we have to fight hate and misinformation like this is to make it unprofitable, so let’s keep voting with our feet and voting with our dollars until Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson goes on “vacation” for good.


  56. blf says

    Also in teh NKofE (albeit the general problem exists elsewhere, such as at hair furor’s rallies), NUJ highlights growing number of far-right attacks on journalists:

    Journalists and camera crews are coming under attack on “an increased basis” from far-right activists, and police need to take a strategic approach to dealing with the growing problem, according to the head of the National Union of Journalists.

    […] James Goddard, a notorious self-styled “yellow vest” activist, was convicted in June for the common assault of a photographer, Joel Goodman, in Manchester in February.

    At one point Goddard had told the photographer: When there’s no police around here, I’m going to take your head off your shoulders.

    Goodman, a photojournalist, told the Guardian that he had become a target for far-right demonstrators, after it was wrongly suggested he worked with the anti-fascist group Hope not Hate. Threats routinely arrive by “phone, email and text”, he said.


    Journalists covering Tommy Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, complained of intimidation from his followers during his contempt of court trial in the early summer.

    At one point during the hearings a BBC camera crew outside the Old Bailey in central London were attacked and forced to leave by Robinson supporters, who branded them BBC paedo scum, and fake news wankers.


    It is understood that broadcasters including the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV were forced to hire private security firms to protect their journalists during Robinson’s court appearance last month.

    In June, the BBC, ITN and Sky wrote to the City of London police and HM Courts & Tribunals Service highlighting the intimidation journalists had faced covering Robinson’s legal proceedings in May outside the Old Bailey. That case has prompted wider concern about safety and security in courts during such trials.


    Jason Parkinson, a freelance cameraman who routinely covers far-right demonstrations and events, says that while there has always been anti-media aggression among the far right, the number of those prepared to act has grown.

    “There’s been a change in mood; the numbers of people prepared to be angry or aggressive have increased. It started when Donald Trump began talking about fake news, and it has worsened as Brexit has gone on,” he said.


  57. says

    The Trump Administration Is Coming for Progressive Prosecutors

    Starting with Philadelphia DA Larry Krasner.

    […] “The crisis was precipitated by a stunning disrespect for law enforcement—a disrespect so flagrant and so reckless that the suspect immediately opened fire on every single officer within shooting distance,” he wrote in a public statement released the day after the shooting. He blamed the attack on “lawlessness” fostered by Krasner and a culture that degrades police officers. Krasner brushed off the diatribe as “a familiar bit of opportunistic politics” from the Trump administration.

    The dramatic standoff between a man with an AR-15 and Philadelphia police officers lasted more than seven hours. Police deployed tear gas, and the shooter ultimately surrendered after a series of phone calls with his lawyer, Philadelphia Police Commissioner Richard Ross, and Krasner. No officers were killed, and no bystanders were injured. McSwain was not present.

    The statement was met with surprise; it’s highly unusual for federal prosecutors to openly criticize their local counterparts. But Krasner is no ordinary DA, and McSwain is just one of many “tough on crime” politicians across the country who see him as a threat. […]

    This was just the latest chapter in McSwain’s months-long campaign against the Philadelphia DA. He has bad-mouthed Krasner on Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight in March and in June, accusing him of causing violent crime to “skyrocket” and tying him to the liberal billionaire George Soros’ “radical agenda.” […]

    As prosecutors like Krasner gain more traction with voters, they’ve elicited a backlash that now goes all the way up to the nation’s top law enforcement official. Last week Attorney General William Barr denounced all reform-minded prosecutors at a national Fraternal Order of Police conference in New Orleans, calling “reformer” DAs “anti–law enforcement DAs.” […]

    Oh, FFS.

    Overall crime dropped about 5 percent after Krasner’s first year in office. Homicides rose 12 percent, from 315 in 2017 to 353 in 2018, which police officials attribute to the opioid crisis.

    In 1992, Barr wrote “The Case for More Incarceration.”

  58. blf says

    Follow-up to @6 and @47, This is a breaking story so I’ve no details at all, but France24 is reporting (in full), “Open Arms: Italian prosecutor orders seizure of charity ship, evacuation of migrants”.

    Last I’d heard was Madrid sending navy vessel to escort Open Arms migrants to Spain:

    Spain was Tuesday set to deploy a naval patrol boat to Italy’s Lampedusa island to take migrants off a charity rescue vessel that has been stuck at sea for days as Italy refuses it access.

    “The Audaz […] will sail for three days to Lampedusa where it will take charge of the people taken in by the Open Arms,” the government said in a statement.

    The patrol boat will escort the Open Arms charity ship back to the port of Palma in the Balearic Islands.


    The announcement came after 15 migrants jumped into the water in desperation to try and swim to Lampedusa after days stuck on board.

    They were “rescued and evacuated to Lampedusa,” said a spokeswoman for the NGO Proactiva Open Arms that owns the ship.


    Spain’s Defence Minister Margarita Robles has slammed Italy — and particularly Salvini — for the situation.

    “What Salvini is doing in relationship with the Open Arms is a disgrace to humanity as a whole,” she said Monday.

    Salvini “has shown he doesn’t care about human lives”, she added Tuesday.

    Salvini tweeted that being firm is the only way to stop Italy from becoming Europe’s refugee camp again.

  59. blf says

    Hair furor doing his usual (from the Grauniad’s current live States blog):

    Trump inflating value of Scottish golf resorts by $165m

    Donald Trump has apparently misstated the value and profitability of his Scotland golf courses by $165m, according to a report published Tuesday.

    Citing US financial disclosure statements filed by Trump for 2018, HuffPost reported that Trump claimed his resorts in Turnberry and Aberdeen were each worth more than $50m. At the same time, the website found that balance sheets Trump filed with the United Kingdom showed the combined debt for the two properties exceeded their assets by 47.9m British pounds, which at the time of the filing would amount to the rough equivalent of $64.8m.


    The website points out that knowingly providing false or incomplete information on US financial disclosure forms is a violation of federal law. Signing a form containing false information can also amount to making a false statement, which is punishable by up to five years in jail.

    Where’s Eliot Ness?

  60. blf says

    Follow-up to @84, Italian officials order migrant ship evacuated amid health fears:

    Italian prosecutors have ordered that 83 migrants onboard a charity vessel that has been anchored off the island of Lampedusa for 19 days must be immediately disembarked, citing the “explosive’’ psychological and medical condition of the passengers.


    The announcement made by the magistrates came shortly after the Spanish government announced that it would send a naval ship to pick up the 83 migrants and bring them back to Spain.

    […] After visiting the ship, prosecutors declared that the hygienic and health conditions onboard had “reached worrisome levels”. Prosecutors also ordered ship impounded in order to carry out a full inspection of the health and hygienic conditions in which the migrants were forced to live due to Italy’s ban on landing asylum seekers.


    Last week the Sicilian magistrates also opened an investigation into unknown suspects for the kidnapping of the migrants aboard the Open Arms vessel. Obviously, if the prosecutors have to go ahead with the inquiry Salvini risks being investigated once again for the same charge.

    In January, an Italian court ruled in fact that Salvini should be tried for the kidnapping of 177 asylum seekers he prevented from disembarking the Italian coastguard ship, Ubaldo Diciotti, in August 2018. Salvini was eventually saved by the votes of the M5S who ruled that the minister should not be stripped of his parliamentary immunity and the case fell apart.


  61. blf says

    Hair furor yet again with alternative facts (from the Grauniad’s current live States blog):

    Trump: Jewish people who vote Democrat show great disloyalty

    Donald Trump defended Israel’s controversial decision to bar Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country.

    The president also denied having any involvement in the matter, despite publicly pressuring the Israeli government not to let Omar and Tlaib […] visit the country.


    In one particularly jarring statement, Trump went on the criticize any Jewish American who supports the Democratic Party.

    I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty, the president said. […]

    Some of the people showing “a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty” can be seen with a mirror.

  62. blf says

    Tidbit in Trump’s Statue of Bigotry is not Cuccinelli’s first neo-Confederate assault:

    In 2010, when he was state attorney general, [current acting director of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), Ken who will not become a public charge] Cuccinelli distributed lapel pins to members of his staff. “Office of the Attorney General Virginia” circled what purported to be the image of the great seal, the Roman goddess Virtus wearing a breastplate and standing with one foot on a prone tyrant, his crown fallen from his head. Observers noticed that the real great seal features Virtus wearing a toga and with her left breast bared. Was Cuccinelli, a denizen of the religious right, simply covering up the goddess for modesty’s sake? He joked that he was making Virtus a little more virtuous.

    In fact, the image on his pin was a copy of the great seal adopted by Virginia in 1861 after secession and used on battle flags of Confederate regiments. After the local press caught the replication, Cuccinelli claimed his pin had been copied from another antique great seal. But the local “commander” of the Sons of Confederate Veterans praised him, saying: The state is getting trumped by the federal government.

    Under pressure, Cuccinelli withdrew the pins. In 2013, he was defeated for governor and consigned to the bin of forgotten provincial politicians … until he was retrieved by Trump.

  63. blf says

    ‘Brexit crisis’ course on offer at Botswana university:

    The University of Botswana is offering a special elective course on Brexit, calling it the UK’s “biggest crisis for a generation”.

    Bruce Bennett, a senior lecturer at the university’s history department, who is organising the course, said the institution offered a regular course in British history. “We’d do a range of things while looking at what is relevant to colonial history. This year we are focusing on Brexit.”

    Dr Bennett said there were aspects of Brexit that were of special interest to Botswana — a landlocked country in southern Africa, 9,000km from the UK, and a former British colony. Brexit was regularly discussed in Botswana’s newspapers, he said.

    “There’s interest about the potential economic impacts… There is a lot of trade with Botswana. No one is really sure what it means.”

    The academic said he was frequently approached by students with questions about Brexit, because of his background in British history. “‘What’s going on, can you explain this to me?’,” he said they ask. “I thought this is a one-off opportunity, let’s try this.”

    Dr Bennett said he feels the historical background to Brexit has sometimes been overlooked, even in the UK. “Most obviously issues about Ireland, which seem to have caught some people in the government somewhat unaware.”

    On Twitter, several people made jokes about the appropriateness of the course having no final exam.

    Dr Bennett said that didn’t mean there would be no course assessments. He would have to adapt them, however, as the semester progressed, as “no one knows what will happen”.


    Botswana is not the only place to offer a course on Brexit.

    The UK’s Birmingham City University has set up a Centre for Brexit Studies. Academics, it says, include “staff from across the university, displaying the cross-sector impact Brexit will have on the UK, Europe, and the world”.

    The UK-based Open University also offers a free course titled “From Brexit to the Break-Up of Britain?”, which looks at “the role of nationalism and national identity” and analyses “Brexit as a symptom of the political, economic and social geography of the UK, focusing on its uneven development in a country increasingly dominated by London and the South East”.

  64. says

    blf @88, when Ken Cuccinelli shows you who he is, believe him.

    In other news, conservatives are being told that they will get the citizenship data they need for redistricting efforts that would further tilt the playing field toward Republican wins (electoral advantages for the GOP).

    […] The statement from Kathleen Styles, the head of the Census Bureau’s stakeholder relations, came amid a set of panels focused on redistricting at ALEC’s annual conference in Austin, the Texas Observer reported.

    State legislators at the conference were encouraged by prominent conservative activists to consider drawing legislative districts based on the number of citizens, rather than total population, which is what is currently used almost everywhere. Such a move would shift political representation toward whiter, more rural parts of the country and away from its more diverse, urban regions.

    “For states that want to use citizenship, you will have the data,” Styles said, according to the Observer, when pressed by legislators on whether they’d have access to the citizenship data that would make such an overhaul feasible.

    The Census Bureau told Congress earlier this month that it was producing citizenship data in a form that would make it usable for redistricting. […]

    After […] Trump lost the legal battle to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, he announced an executive order directing the administration to assemble citizenship data based on existing government records. […]

    That ALEC — which provides blueprint legislation for GOP statehouses on an assortment of conservative causes — is mobilizing around citizen-based redistricting reflects how seriously Republicans are taking the effort, despite the setback dealt in the census question fight. […]

    “Start with the idea that you’re going to be sued,” Cleta Mitchell, a conservative super-lawyer, told attendees.

    “Your notes from this conference and this workshop will probably be part of a discovery [in a future lawsuit],” she said, according to the Observer. “”So my advice is if you don’t want it turned over as part of discovery, you probably ought to get rid of it before you go home.”


  65. says

    From readers comments associated with the article excerpted in comment 90:

    For states that want to go bankrupt defending yourselves in court, you’ll have the data.
    Start by assuming impending litigation.

    Destroy materials you know will qualify as evidence and anticipate will be admissible as such.

    That’s called advising people to commit a potential crime and is certainly advising them to commit spoliation, which opens the door for a judge permitting the jury to draw negative inferences from the absence of the materials and potentially from their destruction if there’s enough there to show that they existed and were destroyed.
    Don’t just illegally rig the redistricting with probably invalid data.

    Destroy all the evidence that you did so.

    It’s the Republican way.
    The Joe Biden theory–that Republicans are good guys temporarily intimidated by the guy they voted for and fanatically support–looks even more doubtful that it already looked, i.e., unfuckingbelievably doubtful.

  66. blf says

    The Onion, Jeffrey Epstein Free To Visit Earth 6 Days A Week Under Terms Of Sweetheart Afterlife Deal:

    In what many are calling a “pathetically soft sentence” for the recently deceased sex offender, multiple angels confirmed Monday that Jeffrey Epstein was free to visit Earth six days a week under the terms of a new sweetheart afterlife deal. […] At press time, Epstein had reportedly been taken into God’s custody after undergarments belonging to underage angels were found on his cloud.

  67. says

    Worse and worse.

    The USDA [Department of Agriculture] is slashing buyout payments for economists and researchers at two small agencies who are leaving their jobs after the Department announced that their positions were being moved to Kansas City.

    […] the USDA said it was cutting the payment from $25,000 to $10,000 “due to the volume of applications” it had received for voluntary separation. […]

    According to the document, the USDA is giving employees until Monday to decide whether they will take the money, known as a “Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment,” with the stipulation that they will forfeit the full pre-tax amount if they return to federal service within five years.

    “It’s hard to imagine USDA management finding more ways to demoralize the workers at these two agencies, yet they continue to top themselves at every turn,” American Federation of Government Employees National President J. David Cox Sr. said in a statement.

    In June, the USDA announced that […] two small agencies providing economic and research expertise, would be relocated to the Kansas City region by Sept. 30. […]

    “In keeping consistent with the Secretary’s commitment to ‘Do Right’ by our employees, the Department’s priority was to offer a standard VSIP to every eligible employee who applied, instead of on a first come first serve basis,” a department spokesperson told TPM in a statement Tuesday.

    Employees were initially given a month to decide whether they would make the move. That timeline was later relaxed […]

    More than half of affected ERS and NIFA employees have indicated they won’t relocate. At a recent Republican Party fundraiser, White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney implied that that was by design.

    “What a wonderful way to streamline government,” he said.


  68. says

    From readers comments associated with the article excerpted in comment 93:

    Let’s streamline it starting with your job, Mulvaney.
    Republican’ts run on the platform that government is broken. Then they get elected and break it.
    Offering buyouts then slashing the terms by 60%. This is seriously awful behavior. Yet again, the Successful Businessperson Presidency turns out to be awful at business-type stuff.
    These are highly qualified career scientists. The institutional knowledge being lost is enormous.

    The Rs and the Trumpsters hate science, I guess because it tends to refute their self-serving version of facts.
    For people asking what is the first thing that a Dem admin should do?

    Reverse all of this kind of shit.
    In the coming decades, the next generation of PhDs will write fascinating theses on the decline of the sciences in the United States of America. Unfortunately, they won’t be written in English but in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, French, and so on.
    EVERYONE, no matter how minor of a bureaucrat or government employee, is to be PUNISHED for not sufficiently worshiping at the altar of Trumpism.
    And by those buyout terms they are being actively disincentiveized from working for the federal government again for at least half a decade.
    “According to the document, the USDA is giving employees until Monday to decide … with the stipulation that they will forfeit the full pre-tax amount if they return to federal service within five years.”

    Why? What is the purpose of such a clause? All it does is ensure that the gov’t will be unable to rehire experienced gov’t employees if a need for them arises …

    Oh. I guess that is the point – to prevent the gov’t from functioning competently.

  69. says

    Jewish groups condemned Trump’s “disloyalty” remark.

    Jewish groups condemned President Trump’s Tuesday remarks calling American Jews who vote for Democrats disloyal.

    The president’s Oval Office comment wrongly suggests Jews have a dual loyalty claim to Israel and plays on anti-Semitic tropes, the groups said.

    “This is yet another example of Donald Trump continuing to weaponize and politicize anti-Semitism. At a time when anti-Semitic incidents have increased — due to the president’s emboldening of white nationalism — Trump is repeating an anti-Semitic trope,” said Halie Soifer, Jewish Democratic Council of America executive director.

    Trump’s comment, “I think Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” didn’t directly state whether he’s speaking about disloyalty for him or for Israel.

    Either way, it’s wrong, Soifer said in an emailed statement.

    “If this is about Israel, then Trump is repeating a dual loyalty claim, which is a form of anti-Semitism. If this is about Jews being ‘loyal’ to him, then Trump needs a reality check. We live in a democracy, and Jewish support for the Republican Party has been halved in the past four years,” she said.

    Left-leaning Jewish advocacy group J Street called the comment “disgusting,” point out that, in fact, most Jewish Americans tend to vote Democratic. […]

    The American Jewish Committee (AJC) said that political affiliation is not tied to religious identity and urged Trump to stop making his “divisive” and “disrespectful” judgements. […]


  70. blf says

    One of teh greedy besteringest peoples may have been caught (for a second time), emails raise ethical questions over Trump official’s role in gas project:

    Documents obtained by the Guardian suggest interior secretary is promoting effort tied to his former firm

    The US interior secretary, David Bernhardt, is promoting a fossil fuel project for which his former employer, a lobbying firm, is a paid advocate, e-mails obtained by the Guardian suggest.

    Experts sayBernhardt is probably violating ethics guidelines issued by the Trump administration with the stated goal of draining the swamp. Based on these rules, Bernhardt should be recused from specific issues involving a former client for at least two years.

    The Jordan Cove Energy Project was proposed by the Canadian energy giant Pembina to transport fracked natural gas through Oregon to the international port at Coos Bay in the state. It would include a new 232-mile pipeline that passes through about 70 miles of interior department land.

    [… details omitted…]

    Delaney Marsco, legal council at the non-partisan Campaign Legal Center, says that if [Bernhardt’s former high school teacher Mike] Samson’s e-mailed description of the meeting is accurate, Berhnardt probably violated the ethics commitment.

    “The ethics pledge barred Bernhardt from participating in a particular matter where his former employer represents a party to the matter,” Marsco said. “Bernhardt therefore should not have participated in activities surrounding approvals or permits for this project, and he should have taken care to not even appear as though he was personally involved.”


    Bernhardt is already under fire for possible ethics violations during his prior stint as assistant interior secretary under Ryan Zinke. The interior department’s inspector general is conducting an ethics investigation of him, which focuses on his role in weakening protections for California’s delta smelt — a policy change that would directly benefit one of his former clients, Westlands Water District.

    During his interior department tenure, Bernhardt has been an architect of some of the agency’s most controversial and consequential decisions, including stripping wildlife protections and leasing large swaths of public lands to oil and gas companies.

    Jordan Cove is a major priority of western oil and gas interests, since it would probably lead to expanded drilling in three major gas fields […]

    […] In a telltale sign that industry pressure on the Bureau of Land Management may be working, a BLM web page touts the benefits of the pipeline, even though the agency has not officially ruled on it.


    That BLM web page, Energy Independence: Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline (link embedded in above excerpt) is also an active web page. I took a look at its HTML source, and the (very probably auto-generated) dates indicate is was created about a year ago (23-April-2018) and updated only a few days ago (14-August-2019). However, based solely on the current page’s source, there is no way of telling what the recent (or any) modification was. Possibly something to the content (potentially significant), or possibly just a technological tweak (presumably of little-to-no significance), or…

  71. blf says

    Some further reaction to hair furor’s disloyalty blathering, Trump slammed for saying Jews disloyal if they vote for Democrats:

    Amid ongoing attacks against Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, Trumps calls majority of Jews in the US uninformed.


    “This explicit dual loyalty charge is not an antisemitic dog whistle — it’s a bullhorn to his white nationalist base,” tweeted IfNotNow, a group of young American Jews who advocate for the end of US support for the Israeli occupation.


    “I’m Jewish. My relatives were killed in the Holocaust. Take anything about Jewish people out of your lying, racist mouth. I stand with Reps Tlaib and Omar. I condemn Trump and @GOP brand fascism,” tweeted author Nancy Levine.


    Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, tweeted, “It’s unclear who @POTUS is claiming Jews would be ‘disloyal’ to, but charges of disloyalty have long been used to attack Jews. As we’ve said before, it’s possible to engage in the democratic process without these claims. It’s long overdue to stop using Jews as a political football”.

    “As a Jewish American, this is fascism, period,” tweeted Lucy Carlson-Krakoff.

  72. tomh says

    Stephen Miller is busy, busy.

    Migrant Families Would Face Indefinite Detention Under New Trump Rule

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration unveiled a regulation on Wednesday that would allow it to detain indefinitely migrant families who cross the border illegally, replacing a decades-old court agreement that imposed a limit on how long the government could hold migrant children in custody and specified the level of care they must receive.

    The new regulation , which requires approval from a federal judge before it can go into effect and was expected to be immediately challenged in court, would establish standards for conditions in detention centers and specifically abolish a 20-day limit on detaining families in immigration jails, a cap that has prompted President Trump to repeatedly complain about the “catch and release” of families from Central America and elsewhere into the United States.

    “This rule allows the federal government to enforce immigration laws as passed by Congress,” Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, said in a statement. He called it a “critical rule” that would allow the government to detain families and maintain the “integrity of the immigration system.”

    Under the new rule, the administration would be free to send families who are caught crossing the border illegally to a family residential center to be held for as long as it takes for their immigration cases to be decided. Officials said families cases could be resolved within three months, though many could drag on much longer.

    Withdrawing from the consent decree has also been a personal objective for Stephen Miller, the architect of Mr. Trump’s immigration policy. Delays in finishing the new regulation had prompted Mr. Miller to lash out at senior homeland security officials, who were ousted from the department.

    More at the link.

  73. blf says

    Almost, almost, almost, closer than ever(?), ‘Major milestone’: Africa on brink of eliminating polio:

    Nigeria marks three years without a wild polio case, meaning Africa could be declared free of the disease in 2020

    Africa is on the verge of being declared polio free, after three years without any recorded cases of the disease, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

    Nigeria marked three years without a wild polio case on Wednesday, a “major milestone”. If no more incidences emerge in the next few months, Africa could officially be declared polio free in 2020. The last case was recorded in Borno state in August 2016.


    Renewed political commitment was evident from 2015 when President Buhari was shown personally giving one of his grandchildren vaccine drops, declaring that his administration would do “all within its powers to ensure that no Nigerian child is ever infected with polio again”.

    Nigeria and neighbouring countries have held multiple vaccination campaigns in locations from markets to border points to boost the immunity of the local population and prevent the virus spreading. […]


    The virus is still endemic in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and will need to be eradicated there before the world can be declared polio free.

  74. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live States blog, hair furor’s dalekocrazy (rule by crazed Daleks) is trying harder and harderer to be more and more cruel:

    Trump rule would allow for indefinite detention of immigrant families

    A new Trump administration regulation would allow the government to detain families crossing the border indefinitely.

    The new rule would abolish the current 20-day limit on how long families can be held in custody. It would effectively replace the decades old Flores agreement, which provided oversight on immigrant children being detained by the government.


    Somewhat related is Mano Singham’s post here at FtB yesterday, The Trump administration is consistent in its cruelty: “They have announced that they will not be providing the migrant families held in their detention camps with the flu vaccine despite the fact that there children recently died of such infections.”

    It’s been pointed out in the readers’s comments this moves the concentration camp nature of the detention facilities into the extermination camp sphere.

  75. blf says

    When the Irish are annoyed, they tend to express themselves beautifully. For instance, from the Grauniad’s current live NKofE blog:

    ‘Unelected PM … gambling with peace’ — Irish European commissioner launches fierce attack on Boris Johnson

    Phil Hogan, the European commissioner for agriculture […], has launched what the Irish Independent (rightly) describes as a “scathing attack” on Boris Johnson. He was speaking this morning at an event in Carlingford in Ireland. […]

    ● Hogan said that a no-deal Brexit would create a “foul atmosphere” between the UK and the EU. He said:

    If the UK fails to prevent a crash-out Brexit they should be under no illusion regarding the foul atmosphere they will create with their EU partners and the serious consequences this will have for negotiating any future trade agreement.

    ● He accused Johnson of “gambling with peace” in relation to Northern Ireland.

    ● He cited Churchill […] to explain why a no-deal Brexit would be do damaging. Hogan said:

    The UK government needs to take responsibility for its choices before it is too late. Prime Minister Johnson’s hero is Winston Churchill and he seems to view himself as a modern day Churchill.

    However, in the event of a no deal Brexit, the UK government’s only Churchilian legacy will be — ‘never have so few done so much damage to so many’.

    ● Hogan dismissed Johnson as an “unelected prime minister”. EU leaders have been angered by Johnson’s decision to describe the backstop as undemocratic, despite the fact that it was agreed by EU leaders and Theresa May, implementing a commitment made by the UK government in the joint report of December 2017 when Johnson was foreign secretary. […] Hogan said this was a “strange” decision coming from “an unelected prime minister”. […]

    ● Hogan said the EU “will not buckle” in response to pressure from the UK. He said:

    From the EU side, nothing has changed. We will hold the line. We have made detailed contingency plans for every outcome and we will not be found wanting. Contrary to what the UK government may wish, the EU will not buckle.

    Our response to Prime Minister Johnson’s letter is simple: We share his stated commitment to an orderly Brexit and to upholding the Good Friday agreement. We reiterate that the backstop is a necessary, legally operative solution to prevent the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland and we deeply regret that the new UK government wants to replace a legally operative solution with a commitment to try to find a solution — yet to be found — by the end of the transition period.

    ● He accused Johnson of putting “the best [sic] interests of the Tory Party ahead of the best interests of the UK”.

    ● He said, three years after the vote to leave the EU, Brussels still did not know what kind of Brexit Britain wanted. He said:

    More than three years on from the referendum, we still have no clear idea about what kind of Brexit the UK wants. And the UK is running out of time to make up its mind.

  76. blf says

    In the States, March for Our Lives unveils sweeping gun reform agenda: ‘The time is now’:

    March for Our Lives, the organization created by survivors of the February 2018 mass school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, released an audacious policy agenda calling for far-reaching reform.

    The proposal released on Wednesday, Peace Plan for a Safer America, includes plans to reduce the number of firearms in civilian hands by 30%, create a mandatory federal gun buyback program for assault weapons, and re-examine the 2008 supreme court decision that allows private citizens to keep handguns in their homes.

    “The next president must act with a fierce urgency to call this crisis what it is: a national public health emergency,” the plan reads.


    “We’re looking to change the culture of gun violence and that is going to require doing some things that are going to make people at first think, ‘Oh no you’re going to take my guns’,” Levenson continued. “It’s not about what we’re against, it’s what we’re for,” she added.

    “The simplest comparison to make is the right to drive a car. We should have that same level of standard of expectancy to own a gun,” [said Eve Levenson, federal programs manager at March for Our Lives].

    I myself think that’s too low a bar. Cars are not designed to deliberately kill people, and whilst neither are all guns, too many are. If there is a “need” to possess such an instrument, the (relatively lax) States-side driving licensing is broadly just a start, an interim measure. Admittedly, the details are a bit stronger than the above quote implies, A Peace Plan for a Safer America (see embedded link in first excerpt):

    ● A multi-step approval process, overseen by a law enforcement agency, that requires background checks, in-person interviews, personal references, rigorous gun safety training, and a waiting period of 10 days for each gun purchase. […]
    ● Annual licensing fees for anyone who wants to obtain a national gun and ammunition license. […]
    ● [… R]aising the minimum age for gun possession to 21. […]
    ● A limit of one firearm purchase per month.
    ● A prohibition on any and all online firearm and ammunition sales or transfers, including gun parts.
    ● A requirement to safely store firearms, including implementing national standards for locking devices on guns.
    ● A requirement to report guns that are lost or stolen to local law enforcement within 72 hours.

    Back to the Grauniad’s article:

    The March for Our Lives platform also includes strategies to prevent the maelstrom of daily gun violence that receives less attention than mass shootings, including community gun violence, suicide and domestic abuse.


    One point not specifically mentioned is this one: “Automatically register eligible voters and mail voter registration cards to all Americans when they turn 18.” More details at the links.

  77. blf says

    Lies, bullsh*t and knowledge resistance: A spotter’s guide:

    Amid growing interest in the ‘science of irrationality’, The Irish Times provides an A–Z of common intellectual traps


    ● Argumentative impulse […]
    ● Bandwagon effect […]
    ● Blame-shifting […]
    ● Bullsh*tting […]
    ● Cognitive dissonance […]
    ● Confirmation bias […]
    ● Epistemic insouciance: Defined by [political philosopher Quassim] Cassam as “a particular form of not giving a shit. It means not caring about the facts, about what the evidence shows, or what experts think”.
    ● Hardcore relativism: The idea that all knowledge claims are equally arbitrary. [Sociologist Mikael] Klintman distinguishes it from softcore relativism or what he calls “sound scepticism”, the scientific demand for claims to be tested and information doubted in the absence of proof.
    ● Question substitution […]
    ● Inadvertent ignorance […]
    ● Information overload […]
    ● Intelligent resistance: Studies show high intelligence makes people more effective knowledge resistors. This “intelligence paradox” is linked to the argumentative theory: higher IQ means a greater ability to convince others you’re right. […]
    ● Introspection illusion: Overestimating your own ability to identify your unconscious biases compared to others, producing what psychologist Emily Pronin calls “bias blind spot”.
    ● Loyal thinking […]
    ● Narrative bias […]
    ● Negativity instinct: Our brains are more responsive to bad news than good. […]
    ● Power play […]
    ● Promiscuous teleology: The tendency to think everything exists for a purpose. Something again linked to the evolution of the human mind, although the likes of Aristotle and the Catholic Church may have played a role in hammering the message home.
    ● Running away: Klintman defines this as “to resist producing or gaining knowledge due to worries that the knowledge would have negative consequences in society”. […]
    ● Self-inflation […]
    ● Sincere deception: […] It is possible Donald Trump is engaging in sincere deception when says he is unaware of Russia’s role in helping him to be elected. Possible but not very likely.
    ● Structural amnesia: A term coined by British anthropologist Mary Douglas having observed the drive within communities to forget rival views. According to Douglas, “Certain things always need to be forgotten for any cognitive system to work.”
    ● Strategic ignorance: Making a mental calculation that it’s better not to know something than to know it. […]
    ● Virtuous stupidity: Not to be confused with common stupidity, this is the quality of being brave enough to admit a question may be more complicated than you previously thought. Socrates is the oft-quoted exemplar with his admission: “All I know is that I know nothing.”
    ● Weird-ness: The unconscious assumption that the world is universally Weird (western, educated, industrialised, rich, and democratic). […]
    ● Zizekian surrender: […] self-regarding buffoonery […] treating everything as a game and downplaying the real-world consequences of one’s standpoints.
       You mightn’t have read Zizek but you’ll know of his conservative incarnation, BoJo [Borris Johnson –blf] the clown.

  78. says

    Cross posted from PZ’s “He was serious?” thread.

    Trump cancelled the trip to Denmark because his feelings were hurt.

    […] Trump made it abundantly clear that he cancelled his trip to Denmark because the “nasty” prime minister wasn’t very nice in response to his offer to purchase Greenland.

    “Denmark, I looked forward to going, but I thought that the prime minister’s statement that it was ‘absurd,’ that it was an ‘absurd idea,’ was nasty. I thought it was an inappropriate statement,” he said. “All she had to do is say, ‘no, we wouldn’t be interested.’ We can’t treat the United States of America the way they treated us under President Obama. I thought it was a very not nice way of saying something. They could have told me no.”

    Several Danish officials have spoken out against President Trump’s apparent interest in purchasing Greenland, but he seems to be particularly bothered by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s response, that the idea of purchasing the country was “absurd,” a word Trump later called “terrible” and “not a nice statement.”

    “She’s blowing off the United States,” he said.


    Keep in mind that Trump equates himself with the United States. He even said today, in public and to the press, “I am the chosen one.”

    So, yes, narcissistic as noted in other comments above, and a petulant child, and a small-minded man-child who does not understand diplomacy.

    Addition: Trump also fails to value the allies of the USA. Maybe he doesn’t understand the concept of “allies.” Like Raven noted in PZ’s thread, Trump looks at allies as sources of income for the U.S.

  79. says

    The former U.S. ambassador to Denmark criticized Trump for canceling the trip:

    […] Rufus Gifford, who served in the Obama administration, called Trump’s cancelation a “shame.”

    “I think it’s sad, honestly, because this is just not the way you treat an ally,” Gifford said on CNN Wednesday. “And to cancel the trip in this way is just a shame. It’s absolutely a shame.”

    Gifford pointed out that Trump’s previously planned visit was not just a bilateral visit with the prime minister, but also a state dinner that would’ve been the first for a sitting U.S. president since Bill Clinton in 1997.

    Gifford further expressed disappointment with Trump for making his Denmark visit contingent on the possibility of purchasing Greenland, despite the country’s history of having “fought and died alongside American soldiers.”

    “I had the great responsibility of going to the Danish government and requesting troops to go to Iraq, to Syria. And they went and they fought along I’d our troops and died alongside our troops,” Gifford said. “This is not the way you treat a loyal ally who is with centuries of diplomatic relations. It’s just a sad chapter to me.”

    On Tuesday, Greenland’s leader doubled down on rejecting the idea of Trump purchasing the semi-autonomous Danish territory, echoing the Danish prime minister’s “absurd discussion” remarks the day before.

    Greenland’s foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger had tersely dismissed Trump’s interest in the territory last week, saying that “we are open for business, but we’re not for sale.” […]


    From the readers comments:

    The reason Trump cancelled his visit is because Obama is going in September and there will be comparisons.
    Sublime summary from Denmark’s Ostergaard: “Reality surpasses imagination.”
    “I think it’s sad a fucking national disgrace, honestly, because this is just not the way you the way a goddamn 4-year-old child would treat an ally,” Gifford said on CNN Wednesday. “And to cancel the trip in this way is like an infant throwing his toys out of the pram is just a shame, a sickening example of this president’s unfitness. It’s absolutely a shameful.”

  80. says

    Oh, FFS!

    Trump Tweets Out Conspiracist’s Quote Claiming POTUS Is ‘Second Coming Of God’

    In a series of tweets on Wednesday morning, Trump blasted out a quote from a well-documented conspiracy theorist who claimed Israeli Jews see Trump as the “King of Israel” and equated the President to a messianic figure, or “the second coming of God.”

    Trump thanked the conspiracist, Wayne Allen Root, for his “very nice words,” tagging “Fox and Friends”; Newsmax, where Root works; and Trump’s now-preferred news source One America News Network.

    From Trump:

    Thank you to Wayne Allyn Root for the very nice words. “President Trump is the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world, not just America, he is the best President for Israel in the history of the world…and the Jewish people in Israel love him like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God…But American Jews don’t know him or like him. They don’t even know what they’re doing or saying anymore. It makes no sense! But that’s OK, if he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s good for all Jews, Blacks, Gays, everyone. And importantly, he’s good for everyone in America who wants a job.” Wow!

    Trump ended that retweet with “Wow!” OMFG would have been more appropriate.

    More from article at the link:

    Root is hardly shy about his embrace of some of the most racist, bombastic conspiracy theories. He’s one of the original birthers — following the racist conspiracy that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States — and touted conspiracies about Seth Rich’s death, including that key Democrats like Hillary and Bill Clinton and John Podesta were involved in the former DNC staffer’s death.

    He has also claimed that the Las Vegas shooting massacre was actually orchestrated by ISIS and that special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe was rooted in “penis envy” because “Mueller’s is smaller than Trump’s.”


  81. blf says

    In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro accuses NGOs of setting fire to Amazon rainforest:

    The Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, has accused environmental groups of setting fire to the Amazon as he tries to deflect growing international criticism of his failure to protect the world’s biggest rainforest.

    A surge of blazes in several Amazonian states this month came after reports that farmers have felt emboldened to clear land for crop fields and cattle ranches because the new Brazilian government is keen to open up the region to economic activity.

    Brazil has had more than 72,000 fire outbreaks so far this year, an 84% increase on the same period in 2018, according to the country’s National Institute for Space Research. More than half of them were in the Amazon.

    There was a sharp spike in deforestation during July, which has been followed by extensive burning in August. Local newspapers say farmers in some regions are organising fire days to take advantage of weaker enforcement by the authorities.

    Since Bolsonaro took power, the environment agency has issued fewer penalties and ministers have made clear that their sympathies are with loggers rather than the indigenous groups who live in the forest. The head of Brazil’s space agency was fired last month after the president disputed the official deforestation data from satellites.

    An international outcry has prompted Norway and Germany to halt donations to Brazil’s Amazon fund, which supports many environmental NGOs as well as government agencies. […]

    Bolsonaro suggested the fires were started by environmental NGOs to embarrass his government.

    On the question of burning in the Amazon, which in my opinion may have been initiated by NGOs because they lost money, what is the intention? To bring problems to Brazil, the president told a steel industry congress in Brasilia. […]


    In Brazil’s Amazonas state, heat from forest fires has been above average every day this month, according to data provided to the Guardian by the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service. On the peak day — 15 August — the energy released into the atmosphere from this state was about 700% higher than the average for this date over the previous 15 years. The story was similar in Rondônia state, where there have been 10 days this month where fire heat has been more than double the average for the time of year.

    It is unclear which fires have been deliberately set by farmers to clear land and which are accidental or natural. […]

  82. says

    Sean Spicer will be a contestant on “Dancing With the Stars,” and Anthony Scaramucci is still feuding with Trump via Twitter. Trump wants to let Russia rejoin the G8 just because Putin is his buddy. And the reality-TV version of the U.S. Government rolls on.

  83. says

    France is getting ready to host the G-7 summit. The summit is always a security nightmare for host countries.

    France is deploying 13,200 officers and drones to lock down the site of the Group of Seven (G-7) summit this weekend, Reuters reports.

    The seaside resort of Biarritz will be surrounded by officials amid expected protests of the meeting of leaders from France, the United States, Britain, Germany, Canada, Japan and Italy. […]

    Campaign groups and demonstrators will reportedly be able to congregate a little under 20 miles away in the towns of Hendaye and Irun. […]

    “It is not because we have any particular intelligence but because there is a culture [of trouble] at these events and we remember the past,” Castaner [French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner] said.

    President Trump, who is set to attend the summit later this week, spoke by phone with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday to discuss the summit.

    Trump left the G-7 summit early last year, a move that came amid a public feud with several leaders attending the 2018 event in Canada.

    Trump on Tuesday also revived his idea of reinstating Russia in the group of major world economies, arguing such a move would be appropriate.

    Russia was removed from the group, then known as the G-8, over its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.


    Trump lied when he claimed that Macron also wants to allow Russia to rejoin the group.

  84. says

    Polling update, for those that may be tracking these early polls:

    […] The latest poll from The Economist-YouGov finds Biden at 22 percent support, followed by Sanders at 19 percent and Warren at 17 percent. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) registers 8 percent support and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg comes in at 7 percent. […]

    Warren might have the most room to grow — 50 percent of Democrats surveyed said they’re considering voting for her, compared to 45 percent who said the same of Biden and 44 percent who said they’re considering Sanders. […]


  85. blf says

    In Poland, Top Polish official resigns over alleged harassment of judges:

    Poland’s deputy minister of justice [Łukasz Piebiak] has resigned and a senior justice ministry official was dismissed after evidence emerged this week of a campaign of alleged harassment, intimidation and blackmail co-ordinated from within the justice ministry directed against judges resisting government efforts to take control of the Polish judiciary.


    The plan consisted of circulating a lurid four-page dossier containing unsubstantiated allegations about [judge and law professor Krystian] Markiewicz’s private life. […] Piebiak is alleged to have written: I think it will help. It is important that it sweeps through Iustitia to let them know who we are dealing with. People will spread it, and Markiewicz will fade away, knowing what we have on him.

    Iustitia is described in the article as “an association of Polish judges that has been fiercely critical of the reforms [sic].” Judge Markiewicz is the head of Iustitia. The so-called reforms are, as a reminder, “Poland’s ruling rightwing Law and Justice party (PiS) [attempting] to assert direct control over the appointment, promotion, and discipline of all Polish judges.” In order words, destroying judicial independence.

    The dossier, which included unsubstantiated claims about Markiewicz’s private life, was distributed to more than 2,000 people associated with Iustitia. […]

    [… more shenanigans, including hints “Zbigniew Ziobro, Poland’s minister of justice, was aware of Piebiak’s activities”…]

    Polish judges who have resisted the government have long complained of a campaign of intimidation that they allege is closely co-ordinated between the justice ministry, state prosecutors, government-controlled media, and anonymous social media accounts.


    The article notes PiS routinely describes judges as thieves in robes.

  86. blf says

    (Slightly edited cross-post from poopyhead’s current He was serious? thread.)

    Hair furor is now lashing out at Denmark about Nato (from the Grauniad’s current live States blog):

    Donald Trump, apparently not satisfied with describing the Danish prime minister as nasty 45 minutes ago, has resumed attacking Denmark.

    Tweeting from Air Force One […] the president [sic] has apparently looked up some information on a favorite hobbyhorse of his: other countries’ contributions to Nato.

    For the record, Denmark is only at 1.35% of GDP for NATO spending. They are a wealthy country and should be at 2%. We protect Europe and yet, only 8 of the 28 NATO countries are at the 2% mark. […] Because of me, these countries have agreed to pay ONE HUNDRED BILLION DOLLARS more — but still way short of what they should pay for the incredible military protection provided. Sorry!

  87. blf says

    More hair furor ranting (from the Grauniad’s current live States blog):

    [… Hair furor claimed] the current birthright citizenship law was frankly ridiculous and that he wanted to abolish it.

    We’re looking at that very seriously, birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land, you walk over the border, have a baby — congratulations, the baby is now a US citizen, Trump said — mischaracterizing how most such citizenships are granted. […]

  88. blf says

    In teh NKofE, Boris Johnson aping Vladimir Putin’s media strategy, says Channel 4 news chief:

    Boris Johnson is a “known liar” who is copying Vladimir Putin’s approach to the media, according to Channel 4’s head of news and current affairs, who called on broadcasters to aggressively challenge the prime minister’s falsehoods.

    Dorothy Byrne said Johnson’s shift towards publishing his own videos on Facebook rather than giving sit-down interviews to journalists reminded her of the Russian president, “who also likes to talk directly to the nation”.

    She also said television producers should be more willing to directly accuse political leaders of lying. “If we continue to be so polite, how will our viewers know that politicians are lying?” Byrne asked.

    The comments are likely to increase tensions between Downing Street and Channel 4, with No 10 already discussing whether it benefits the government to engage with some traditional media outlets. Johnson has declined to be interviewed by the broadcaster in recent months and did not take part in Channel 4’s Conservative leadership debate, with his aides casting doubt on its impartiality.


    Byrne said it was time for the television industry to collectively demand politicians give proper interviews, suggesting Johnson was copying the tactics of “Mr Chlorinated Chicken himself, Donald Trump”.


  89. blf says

    Not in teh NKofE, Thousands sign up for Brexit beach party in Netherlands:

    Thousands of people have expressed interest in a Brexit beach party in the Netherlands to bid a fond farewell to the United Kingdom as its deadline for leaving the European Union approaches.

    By Wednesday morning, nearly 10,000 people had signed up on Facebook to attend the proposed event on October 31 that would allow people to sit in deck chairs looking out to sea as “Great Britain wakes up as a closed institution” while enjoying “Dutch chips, French wine and German beer”.

    Another 60,000 have expressed interest in the event at Wijk aan Zee, a small coastal town northwest of the capital, Amsterdam.

    The plan is the brainchild of documentary maker Ron Toekook, who told Dutch broadcaster NOS that the event will be “as if you are saying goodbye to a good friend who you hope will return sometime”.

    “If there is enough interest there may be a band that can play It’s Quiet on the Other Side and We’ll Meet Again,” he said on the event’s Facebook page, in reference to a popular Dutch football chant and Vera Lynn’s World War II ballad.

    He added that other musical suggestions were welcome.

    Toekook is now scouting locations at the beach, talking finances and on Thursday has an appointment with the local mayor to discuss security.

    The plan has been met with a mixed reception in the UK, with some negative reactions in newspaper comments sections, according to the Associated Press, but Toekook said: “A lot of Brits understand the tongue-in-cheek humour behind it all and they’re pretty positive.”


  90. says

    From Wonkette:

    Many Are Called, But Only Stable Geniuses Are Chosen!

    Trump looked up at the sky earlier today while he was talking about his dumbfuck wrongheaded stupidbad trade war with China, and he said, “I am the Chosen One.” Yes, that is a thing he said! “I AM THE CHOSEN ONE.” […]

    We can laugh our asses off until we cry, imagining what kind of lazyass piece of shit God would choose Donald Trump for anything. Like, did the store run out of humans, and God had to go look around the stockroom, and the only thing back there was the almighty’s greatest fuckup of all, Donald Trump? Because if that’s the case, maybe God just should try again tomorrow and see if there’s a better Chosen One available.

    Or instead of laughing, we can look on in horror, realizing that Trump actually might think this […], and understanding that if he thinks it, his […] followers actually might believe him if he keeps saying it. […] Can’t imagine how that might go terribly wrong, if the worst of the waddling pigshits who voted for him start worshiping him as their messiah. And please, don’t put it past them, because you’ve seen a Trump rally before. Lots of them already believe it anyway.

    For a very serious thread on just how dangerous this is, and how it really truly could get people killed, check out Jared Yates Sexton on Twitter. […]

    Of course, this also happened on a day when Trump, quoting a batshit white evangelical Christian conspiracy theorist, dubbed himself the King Of Israel and the Second Coming, which is a thing Jews actually don’t believe in, since they don’t believe in the First Coming in the first fucking place, God, this is like What Is Jewish 101 […]

    From rightwing doofuses who back up Trump’s comments about “disloyal” Jews, which another concept on which Trump recently doubled down:

    [From Steve King] “I don’t understand how Jews in America can be Democrats first and Jewish second and support Israel along the line of just following their president.”
    From the Republican Jewish Coalition: “President Trump is right, it shows a great deal of disloyalty to oneself to defend a party that protects/emboldens people that hate you for your religion. The @GOP, when rarely confronted w/anti-Semitism of elected members always acts swiftly and decisively to punish and remove.”
    From Ben Shapiro: “The Jewish people has always been plagued by Bad Jews, who undermine it from within. In America, those Bad Jews largely vote Democrat.”

  91. says

    From Fred Kaplan, writing for Slate:

    […] One implication of this head-spinning tale is that Trump has not even remotely begun to make the transition from real-estate magnate to statesman.

    Trump made the point himself. On Sunday, reporters asked him about a story in Friday’s Wall Street Journal that he was thinking about buying the largely frozen island, which is an autonomous territory of Denmark. He confirmed that the story was accurate, describing the idea this way: “Essentially, it’s a large real-estate deal.”

    The Journal reported that the idea has been whirring around in Trump’s brain since the spring, when one of his associates happened to say at a dinner that Denmark was having a hard time keeping up with its annual $600 million subsidy to keep Greenland solvent. Trump, instinctively seeing this as a bargain akin to buying an undervalued property, asked if it would be possible to buy the place. Under most presidencies, the remark would have been laughed down. But since Trump has taken care to surround himself with sycophants, some of the aides scurried to research the notion. […]


  92. KG says

    Jewish groups condemned Trump’s “disloyalty” remark. – Lynna, OM@95 quoting The Hill


    What will be interesting is seeing how right-wing and fervently Zionist Jewish groups react. The article cites one*:

    But the Republican Jewish Coalition defended Trump and said his remarks are “right.”

    *I’m not familiar enhough with the Anti Defamation League to know if they are another – they criticised Trump.

  93. blf says

    Some snarking from the Gruaniad, and hair furor continuing to not consider others (from the current live States blog):

    Trump has finished speaking in Kentucky. He didn’t mention the prime minister of Denmark, or birthright citizenship, or say anything antisemitic, which in light of the rest of his day, makes this an excellent speech.

    The president [sic] walks off the stage to the Rolling Stones You Can’t Always Get What You Want — his campaign anthem, and a song the band has repeatedly asked him to stop using.

    I note the Rolling Stones are British… hair furor’s presumably helping here to Muck All Good Music (MAGA) by not paying any royalties / fees.

  94. KG says

    the idea has been whirring around in Trump’s brain since the spring, when one of his associates happened to say at a dinner that Denmark was having a hard time keeping up with its annual $600 million subsidy to keep Greenland solvent.

    Denmark’s estimated public expenditure in 2017 was $168.9 billion, slightly less than its revenues of $172.5 billion. It’s fiscal position is considered healthy.

    Trump’s crude offer to buy Greenland (he’s undoubtedly talked to his aides about this, and how can that not be conspiracy to commit human trafficing offences?) may seem simply farcical , but he’s already into his typical pattern of insulting anyone who does not jump to do his bidding while praising him to the skies – canceling his state visit to Denmark (although I bet the Danes are secretly very relieved!), and describing as “nasty” prime minister Mette Frederiksen’s absolutely justified dismissal of the idea as “absurd”. I’m sure not only Trump but much of the “military-industrial complex” (to quote that old Commie Eisenhower) would love to own Greenland. The Danes, and still more the Greenlanders, should be prepared for increasing pressure to sell – and I wouldn’t altogether rule out an occupation on the pretext of some real or imagined emergency. This month’s Scientific American is focused on the Arctic, including an article on the rivalry between the five powers with “claims” to the Arctic Ocean: the USA, Russia, Canada, Norway, and – because of its ownership of Greenland – Denmark.

  95. blf says

    The Intercept points out, Trump Accuses Most American Jews of “Disloyalty” to Israel, Deploying Anti-Semitic Trope:

    This was at least the second time this year that Trump invoked the anti-Semitic trope of dual loyalty. Speaking to a group of Jewish Republicans in April, the president referred to Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, as “your prime minister.”

    Donald Trump referred to Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, as your prime minister in an address to a group of Jewish-American supporters on Saturday in Las Vegas [ https://t.co/w2TXPkDBNn ]
    — Robert Mackey (@RobertMackey) April 7, 2019

    The “group of Jewish-American supporters” is teh Republican Jewish Coalition who support hair furor (see, e.g., the link & @119).

    As Bobby Lewis of Media Matters for America noted, Trump’s remark came just hours after one of the hosts of his favorite morning news show, Brian Kilmeade of “Fox and Friends,” complained on-air that “President Trump only got 24 percent” of the Jewish vote in 2016 even though “Barack Obama was in single digits for approval rating inside Israel by Israelis.”

  96. blf says

    I am the Chosen One: with boasts and insults, Trump sets new benchmark for incoherence:

    Donald Trump started off precisely on-message.

    [… T]he president [sic] began speaking while still walking toward a crowd of waiting reporters. So the economy is doing very, very well, he said.

    With fears of a recession stirring and public confidence in the health of the economy dropping for the first time in Trump’s presidency [sic], it was a sound message to project to a skittish nation. But that was as good as it got.

    What followed might have swept away all previous Trumpian benchmarks for incoherence, self-aggrandizement, prevarication and rancor in a presidency [sic] that has seemed before to veer loosely along the rails of reason but may never have come quite so close to spectacularly jumping the tracks.

    Over an ensuing half-hour rant, Trump trucked in antisemitic tropes, insulted the Danish prime minister, insisted he wasn’t racist, bragged about the performance of his former Apprentice reality show, denied starting a trade war with China, praised Vladimir Putin and told reporters that he, Trump, was the chosen one — all within hours of referring to himself as the King of Israel and tweeting in all caps: WHERE IS THE FEDERAL RESERVE?

    Leaving aside those who were left merely gape-jawed, the performance inspired reactions from new expressions of doubt about Trump’s fitness for office to evocations of “the last president I know of who compared himself to the Messiah”.

    (That turns out, according to Brookings Institution fellow Benjamin Wittes, to be Andrew Johnson (1865–9), whose articles of impeachment cited his “intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues”.)


    Trump ignored a shouted question about whether Jews in the United States have a right to be simply American — but Trump denied he was employing an antisemitic trope.

    I haven’t heard anybody say that, just the opposite. Trump said.

    Trump then embarked on an increasingly breakneck tour through the hills and valleys of a personal political landscape whose map, if it existed, was private to him, although his route was provisionally signposted by questions shouted by the media.

    We wiped out the Caliphate, 100%, I did it in record time, he said of the fight against Isis [daesh].

    I note that insults most Muslims, who do not regard the daesh-controlled territory a caliphate.

    I am the least racist person ever to serve in office, OK? I am the least racist person, he opined.

    And, of course, his journey included a visit to his old favorite stomping ground: reality TV.

    I made a lot of money for NBC with the Apprentice, and I used to like them, but they are so biased, he said. You are so obviously biased and that’s why the public doesn’t believe you.

    His dislike for the media was on familiar display.

    The fake news, of which many of you are members, are trying to convince the public to have a recession, he said. ‘Let’s have a recession!’

    But then — as he discussed his trade war with China — came a new twist as Trump bestowed himself with a new title certain to launch a million Twitter memes.

    This is a trade war that should have taken place years ago… somebody had to do it. I am the Chosen One.


  97. tomh says

    From CNN:
    Justice Dept. tells Supreme Court decision to end DACA was lawful

    Washington (CNN)The Justice Department told the Supreme Court late Monday night that the Trump administration acted lawfully when it decided in 2017 to wind down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children from deportation.

    “At best, DACA is legally questionable,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco argued in legal briefs. “At worst, it is illegal.”

    Francisco stressed that the executive branch was within its authority to phase out the Obama-era program and that the lower courts “erred” in “second-guessing” the Department of Homeland Security’s “entirely rational judgment to stop facilitating ongoing violations of federal law on a massive scale.”

    As things stand, two nationwide preliminary injunctions issued by lower courts have forced DHS to continue to allow renewals in the program for nearly two years.

    The legal brief comes as the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case on November 12. The program has become a focal point in the debate over Trump’s proposed US-Mexico border wall and efforts to crack down on immigration. A decision siding with the administration could strip protections for nearly 700,000 so-called Dreamers in a case that will come down in the heat of the next election.

    Back in 2017, the Trump administration announced it was going to phase out DACA, which it said had been created “without proper statutory authority.”
    The move was immediately challenged in court by the University of California, a handful of states and DACA recipients who argued that the phase-out violated the Administrative Procedure Act, a federal law that governs how agencies can establish regulations.

    Courts agreed and issued nationwide injunctions that allowed renewals in the program to continue.

    “We conclude,” wrote a panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, that the rescission of DACA “is arbitrary, capricious or otherwise not in accordance with law.”

    The Trump administration appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, and last June, the justices agreed to hear the appeal for the upcoming term. At issue before the Supreme Court is not the legality of the program but how the administration decided to wind it down.

    In the new briefs, Francisco argues that the decision to terminate the program was reasonable because the Department of Homeland Security had “serious doubts” about its legality. He said the decision was “more than justified by DHS’s serious doubts about the lawfulness of the policy and the litigation risks in maintaining it.”

    Supporters of the program urged the court to reject the administration’s arguments. “The DACA program has been incredibly successful, and the Supreme Court should reject these unlawful efforts to terminate this program, separate nearly 700,000 DACA recipients from their families, and deport them,” said Todd Schulte of a group called FWD.us. “More than 80% of Americans believe Dreamers should be able to stay in the United States because they understand the valuable contributions that Dreamers make to our communities and to our country.”

  98. blf says

    More from the Grauniad’s current live States blog:

    The New York Times reports that Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, has renewed his push for the Ukrainian government to investigate the president’s political opponents. This came months after Giuliani backed out of a trip to Ukraine after he faced criticism that he was mixing partisan politics with foreign policy […]

    Over the last few weeks, Giuliani has spoken on the phone and held an in-person meeting, in Madrid, with a top representative of the new Ukrainian president, encouraging his government to ramp up investigations into two matters of intense interest to Trump.

    One is whether Ukrainian officials took steps during the 2016 election to damage Trump’s campaign. The other is whether there was anything improper about the overlap between former Vice President Joseph Biden Jr’s diplomatic efforts in Ukraine and his son’s role with a gas company there.

    Giuliani said he was acting as a private citizen, but had assistance from the US state department, according to the paper.

  99. lumipuna says

    KG wrote:

    Trump’s crude offer to buy Greenland (he’s undoubtedly talked to his aides about this, and how can that not be conspiracy to commit human trafficing offences?) may seem simply farcical

    I’ve been wondering if ceding control of your citizens’ homes to another country is even possible under modern international law. I guess it is, since political experts seem to be only noting it’s “inappropriate by modern Western values”.

    but he’s already into his typical pattern of insulting anyone who does not jump to do his bidding while praising him to the skies – canceling his state visit to Denmark (although I bet the Danes are secretly very relieved!)

    Probably more frustrated than relieved, I’d think, since they presumably had some good reasons to invite Trump, and preparations were already underway.

    The Danes, and still more the Greenlanders, should be prepared for increasing pressure to sell – and I wouldn’t altogether rule out an occupation on the pretext of some real or imagined emergency.


  100. blf says

    A new poll shows what really interests pro-lifers: controlling women:

    According to self-identified pro-life advocates, the fundamental divide between those who want to outlaw abortion and those who want to keep it legal comes down to one question: when does life begin? Anti-abortion advocacy pushes the view that life begins at conception; the name of their movement carefully centers the conceit that opposition to abortion rights is simply about wanting to save human lives.

    A new poll shows that’s a lie [PDF]. The pro-life movement is fundamentally about misogyny.

    A Supermajority/PerryUndem survey released this week divides respondents by their position on abortion, and then tracks their answers to 10 questions on gender equality more generally. On every question, anti-abortion voters were significantly more hostile to gender equity than pro-choice voters.

    Do men make better political leaders than women? More than half of anti-abortion voters agreed. Do you want there to be equal numbers of men and women in positions of power in America? Fewer than half of abortion opponents said yes — compared to 80% of pro-choicers, who said they want women to share in power equally.

    Anti-abortion voters don’t like the #MeToo movement. They don’t think the lack of women in positions of power impacts women’s equality. They don’t think access to birth control impacts women’s equality. They don’t think the way women are treated in society is an important issue in the 2020 election.

    In other words, they don’t believe sexism is a problem, and they’re hostile to women’s rights. Pro-lifers are sexists in denial — yes, the women too.


    The American anti-abortion movement invented this kind of political gaslighting. The Catholic church, an unabashedly misogynist institution that to this day refuses to allow women into positions of power, had long opposed abortion (but not for all that long — until about 150 years ago, the Catholic view was that abortion was permissible through the first few months of pregnancy).

    [… synopsis of evangelical’s evolution on abortion, from not caring to opposing as a substitute for pro-slavery & segregation, then to opposing because feminism is teh evil…]

    If you don’t want women to be equal, a great way to force that ideal is to strip women of our rights to our own bodies and reproductive decisions. And the goal of abortion opponents is clear: they do not want women to be equal players in society.


    Here’s the full synopsis from the poll results, Gender Equality, the Status of Women and the 2020 Elections (PDF link embedded in above excerpt):

    1. Many voters are angry and worried about the state of women’s rights and gender equality in the country.
    2. Women across nearly every demographic segment are more likely to think President [sic] Trump has made things worse, rather than better, for women.
    3. Women voters connect a number of issues to gender equality, including violence against women, equal pay, paid family leave, and access to abortion.
    4. The recent abortion bans aggravated and elevated feelings about the state of women’s rights.
    5. Anti-abortion voters are among the most likely — if not the most likely — segment to hold inegalitarian views.
    6. Democratic voters are more unified and mobilized around abortion than Republican voters are.
    7. The way women are treated in society is a top voting issue for Democratic women voters, but not Republican women voters.
    8. Democratic women are most likely to feel that the 2020 elections are “more important than usual.” Republican women are least likely to feel the upcoming elections are atypical.

  101. blf says

    In teh NKofE, the self-immolating new fükiphrer continues to pour petrol on himself, Leaked emails show Ukip leader comparing Muslims to Nazis:

    Richard Braine, the new Ukip leader, has been accused of whipping up religious tensions and anti-Muslim prejudice after leaked emails showed he argued that people should no more want Muslims to settle in their country than Nazis.


    One email reads: The nonsense of the moderate Muslim is trotted out repeatedly by so many people with good intentions, but wilful ignorance of Islamic teaching. There is no moderate Islam. Get used to it. It’s a fact. When people talk about moderate Muslims they are making an error. It is like saying Hitler wasn’t such a bad fellow, quite a laugh actually, an entertaining speaker, a patron of the arts — he loved Wagner — he made the trains run on time, and just look at his smart uniforms. It is to ignore completely the ideology to which the person is religiously wedded.

    He added: You should no more apologise for a moderate Muslim, and wish him to settle in your country, than you should a moderate Maoist or Nazi.


    Braine disputed the accusation that his comments were whipping up hatred against Muslims […]


    When presented with the four emails in full and asked for a response, a Ukip spokesman said: The sentences are taken out of a wider context. Without the context, it’s impossible to see the point that was being made.


    As a random aside, the “made the trains run on time” is usually said of Mussolini.

  102. blf says

    (Cross-posted from poopyhead’s current He was serious? thread.)

    One of the most rabid nutcases in the Senate claims he was responsible for hair furor’s delusions, Sen Cotton says he asked Danish ambassador about selling Greenland:

    Months before President Donald Trump expressed an interest in buying Greenland, US Sen Tom Cotton, R-Ark, said he suggested the idea to the President [sic] and met with the Danish ambassador to propose the sale of the large land mass to the US.


    Cotton said Greenland’s mineral reserves and its strategic location make it an ideal strategy move for the US[, … and said] Greenland’s “economic potential is untold,” and the island is “vital to our national security.”

    Anyone who can’t see that is blinded by Trump derangement, he said.

    Cotton said in 2018 the Chinese government sought to essentially bribe the local government of Greenland into allowing it to build three military bases there. But efforts by Trump administration and some in Congress convinced Denmark to weigh in at the last minute and block the deal, Cotton said.

    Revisionist history. It was to convert three(?) disused airfields into modern aeroports — a Greenlandic plan to replace the apparently rather tiny aeroport at Nuuk. A Chinese company bid to build two(?) of the aeroports, but ultimately Greenland decided on financing from Denmark, and the company withdrew their bid.

    There apparently was another incident — although again rather different to the nutter’s ravings — to convert an recently(?)-closed military base into a logistical hub for trans-Arctic shipping. Again, there was a Chinese bid; this time, Greenland decided the plan was bonkers and the facility should be reopened.

    Big China — which was been calling itself a “near-Arctic power” — is certainly interested in having a presence on Greenland, presumably similar to what they’ve been up to in S.America and Africa.

    I told the president you should buy it as well, Cotton said, adding later that He’s (Trump) heard that from me and from some other people as well.


  103. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @blf #129:

    “made the trains run on time” is usually said of Mussolini.

    Article: Snopes – Mussolini and On Time Trains

    One of the best ways to gain the support of the people you want to lead is to do something of benefit to them. Failing that, the next best thing is to convince them that you have done something of benefit to them, even though you really haven’t. […] Thus was born the myth of fascist efficiency, with the train as its symbol.
    The Italian railway system had fallen into a rather sad state during World War I, and it did improve a good deal during the 1920s, but Mussolini was disingenuous in taking credit for the changes: much of the repair work had been performed before Mussolini and the fascists came to power in 1922. […] those who actually lived in Italy during the Mussolini era have borne testimony that the Italian railway’s legendary adherence to timetables was far more myth than reality.

  104. says

    Employers added a half-million fewer jobs in 2018 and early 2019 than previously reported, the Labor Department said Wednesday.”

    It didn’t really get any attention when Trump ended a tweet about the economy last month with “USA is set to Zoom!” but it was low-rent con-artist language that should call to mind his long history of frauds. It’s like something he and Ivanka would tell potential buyers in one of their garbage properties – “Trump Ocean Resort Baja is set to Zoom!” So disturbing and embarrassing to see it in this context.

  105. says

    Yeah, that’s not going to work if your real intent is to guard “election integrity.”

    In Arizona, a key 2020 state, the Republican attorney general is launching a new “election integrity” unit. Among the first hires? A Tea Party voter fraud alarmist.

    The AG’s office is taking pains to say that it will not just prosecute voter fraud (reminder: super rare!) but also help to restore public confidence in elections by debunking bogus claims.

    Loud laughter.

    You can see again the vicious cycle where those making bogus voter fraud claims (including the president himself) create an environment where “confidence” becomes an issue, and elected officials respond to the supposed climate of concern. It basically rewards those making the most outlandish bad faith voter fraud claims.

    But beyond that, it’s important to note the difference between good election administration practices (usually performed by secretaries of state) and the introduction of law enforcement into the mix, as is happening in Arizona. The threat of criminal prosecution for an exceedingly rare crime like voter fraud is a disproportionate response to the small underlying threat, with serious knock-on effects from creating the public perception that there is some risk associated with voting.

    All of those concerns would persist even if you stood up the most stalwart, careful, sober election integrity unit. But when you staff it with people who have championed the myth of rampant voter fraud? Come on.

    This isn’t hard. You either favor widespread participation in the electoral process and taking reasonable steps to encourage and enable it or you have partisan political reasons for opposing it. The choice is pretty simple.


  106. says

    Oh, FFS. We could see this coming, but it is still disheartening. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is joining Fox News.

    Sarah Huckabee Sanders, former White House press secretary, has joined Fox News as a contributor and will make her debut on “Fox and Friends” September 6.

    Sanders preferred appearing on the Trump-friendly channel during her stint as press secretary, where she was unlikely to face tough questioning about the many false statements she made from the press room lectern.

    “FOX News has been the number one news organization in the country for 17 years running and I am beyond proud to join their incredible stable of on-air contributors in providing political insights and analysis,” she said in a statement. […]


    Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ specialty was lying for Trump. That gets her a job on the TV machine?

    Can Fox News absorb all of the Trump administration’s castoffs, or will they run out of “contributor” roles soon?

  107. says

    Equal pay day for Black women:

    Equal Pay Day, the day when women had made as much since January 1, 2019, as white men made in 2018, was back on April 2. It is just now—August 22, 2019—Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. That’s because while women overall make 80 to 81 cents for every dollar a white man makes, there are major racial disparities among women.

    Asian women have the smallest disparity, making a whopping 85 cents on the dollar, so their equal pay day comes in early March. White women come next, at 77 cents—their equal pay day is just a few days after the overall one, on April 19. For black women, it’s 61 cents, which is why we’re here in late August talking about equal pay, by which we mean how equal the pay isn’t. That gap adds up fast, Jocelyn Frye writes at the Center for American Progress, “amounting to $23,653 less in earnings over an entire year. In the span of a 40-year career, this translates into an average lifetime earnings gap of $946,120 between Black women and white men.” Black women face a massive gap no matter how much education they get—and they’re left with higher student loan debt than any other racial group.

    When we talk about Equal Pay Day, we’re always talking about apples to apples—people who work full time and year round. And with black women, we’re talking about the group of women that has always worked outside the home at the highest rates, with a complicated and often viciously discriminatory history in which, Frye writes, “Black women frequently encounter a workplace narrative that deemphasizes the importance of their personal caregiving responsibilities or suggests that their caregiving roles should be secondary to their paid work.” […]

    Since Native American women earn 58 cents for every dollar a white man makes and Latina women earn 53 cents, their equal pay days won’t come until September 23 and November 20.


    Women have to work one year plus January, February, March and most of April of the next year to match the yearly pay of men. Black women have to work one year, plus January, February, March, April, May, June, July, and most of August of the next year to match one year’s worth of pay for men. Native American women and Latina women have to work almost two years to equal a man’s yearly pay.

  108. says

    All the best Republican doofuses:

    Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA), attacked both abortion rights and the transgender community, in a new ad he rolled out on Thursday for his campaign to be elected the next governor of Louisiana.

    In his advertisement, Abraham declares what he pronounces to be “the truth,” proclaiming that life begins at conception and that President Trump “is doing a great job.” At the end of the spot, he adds with a smirk that, “as a doctor, I can assure you there are only two genders.” […]

    In 2017, Abraham said to subscribers of his newsletter that he was working to restore congressional authority over how the federal government can define sex and gender, according to Salon. He was one of five co-sponsors of a bill called the Civil Rights Uniformity Act of 2017, a resolution that would state sex or gender could be interpreted as including gender identity. […]

    Across the globe, there is a long history of recognizing gender variance. The medical community has acknowledged that there is more complexity in sex than male and female. […]


  109. says

    Congress Told ICE to Detain Fewer People. Instead It Keeps Adding Private Prisons.

    For the seventh time this year, ICE has started using a new jail in Louisiana.

    In a now familiar pattern, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has started sending immigrants to another for-profit jail in the Deep South. Mother Jones has learned that the latest addition to ICE’s rapidly expanding southern detention network is the LaSalle Correctional Center in Olla, Louisiana, a jail run by the private prison company LaSalle Corrections.

    In February, Congress directed ICE to reduce its detention population, but ICE has ignored that request. After President Donald Trump forced a government shutdown in December, legislators averted another shutdown in February with a bipartisan bill that directed ICE to go from detaining nearly 49,000 people to 40,520 by October. Instead, ICE has pushed its detention population to all-time highs. The agency was detaining a record-high 55,220 people as of Saturday and has been rapidly contracting with new private prisons to house that increased number of detainees. […]

  110. says

    “The right-wing populist wave is a threat to the climate”:

    The Amazon rainforest is on fire — and the consensus is that Brazil’s far-right populist leader, Jair Bolsonaro, is to blame.

    Bolsonaro, who took office in January and has been referred to as “Captain Chainsaw,” gutted funding for agencies protecting the massive rainforest, essentially giving wink-and-nudge approval for illegal loggers to do their thing. Fire is used as a tool for clearing Amazon land for ranching, and the more trees are cut down, the more vulnerable the rainforest is to wildfires. There have been almost twice as many fires detected in 2019 so far as there were in the entirety of 2018.

    It’s hard to overstate how threatening this policy is to the climate. The Amazon is the world’s largest rainforest: its trees scrub the Earth of a significant amount of CO2 and have captured a huge amount of carbon and methane within their branches and roots. If you lose the trees, a lot of greenhouse gases get released and it becomes harder to capture emissions from other sources. Continued fires and clear-cutting in the Amazon could cripple the fight against climate change.

    All of this goes to underscore an important and poorly understood point: The wave of right-wing populism sweeping the world is not only dangerous for the countries who succumb to it, or even to immigrants wishing to move to those nations. It’s a fundamental threat to progress against climate change — and thus the entirety of the human race.

    The American and Brazilian leaders are particularly aggressive on the issue, but they’re hardly alone among Western right-wingers. A February report from the German Adelphi Institute, an environmental think tank, found that 18 out of the 21 largest European far-right parties are either generally indifferent to climate action or outright oppose it.

    By contrast, the centrist and left parties in these countries were, prior to the populist wave of the past few years, doing a markedly better job on addressing climate change — not perfect or sufficient, mind you, but comparatively much better than what the far-right parties want.

    Right-wing populism today centers on a particular kind of chauvinistic nationalism — an “America First” style obsession with the importance of their (typically ethnically defined) home nation and its independence from international institutions. European populists hate the European Union, with its open-borders [sic] approach to immigration and transnational economic regulations; both Trump and Bolsonaro have insulted international institutions and withdrawn from global agreements.

    This brand of populism poses a particular challenge for the effort against climate change. It’s a global issue that no one country can solve on its own; it requires collective action, negotiated through some forum like the Paris Climate Agreement. It’s a paradigmatic example of the limits of nationalism and the need for organizations like the UN and EU. You can’t propose an effective solution to a transnational problem through a narrowly nationalist framework, and yet the nationalists are here attacking both climate policies in their own country and the very idea of global governance itself….

    I disagree that these movements/parties are nationalist or populist. They’re opposed to some international agreements, but they’re happy to form an anti-liberal axis of corrupt hateful bigots. The fact that almost all of these far-Right parties take the same position on AGW isn’t a coincidence but an indicator of the social forces and interests they actually represent.

  111. says

    BuzzFeed – “The Justice Department Sent Immigration Judges A White Nationalist Blog Post With Anti-Semitic Attacks”:

    An email sent from the Justice Department to all immigration court employees this week included a link to an article posted on a white nationalist website that “directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs,” according to a letter sent by an immigration judges union and obtained by BuzzFeed News.

    According to the National Association of Immigration Judges, the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) sent court employees a link to a blog post from VDare, a white nationalist website, in its morning news briefing earlier this week that included anti-Semitic attacks on judges.

    The briefings are sent to court employees every weekday and include links to various immigration news items. BuzzFeed News confirmed the link to a blog post was sent to immigration court employees Monday. The post detailed a recent move by the Justice Department to decertify the immigration judges union.

    A letter Thursday from union chief Ashley Tabaddor to James McHenry, the director of the Justice Department’s EOIR, said the link to the VDare post angered many judges.

    “The post features links and content that directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs and the label ‘Kritarch.’ The reference to Kritarch in a negative tone is deeply offensive and Anti-Semitic,” wrote Tabaddor. The VDare post includes pictures of judges with the term “kritarch” preceding their names.

    Tabaddor said the term kritarchy is a reference to ancient Israel during a time of rule by a system of judges.

    “VDare’s use of the term in a pejorative manner casts Jewish history in a negative light as an Anti-Semitic trope of Jews seeking power and control,” she wrote.

    Tabaddor called on McHenry to take immediate action over the distribution of white nationalist content.

    The Department of Justice declined to comment.

  112. says

    Elizabeth Warren:

    Surprise, surprise. Donald Trump and his administration are rolling back regulations for their Wall Street big bank buddies. The rich and powerful are tilting the rules to work in their favor, putting everyone else at risk.

    That ends when I’m president.”

    The NYT article to which she links refers to it as “streamlining postcrisis bank regulation.”

  113. says

    Resource from Just Security – “Public Document Clearinghouse: Congressional Russia Investigations”:

    Just Security has compiled significant documents in Congress’s various Russia investigations dating back to the 2016 election cycle. This collection seeks to include significant original source materials including letters, subpoenas, deposition transcripts, hearing transcripts, press statements, contempt resolutions, criminal referrals, and any subpoena enforcement litigation….

  114. says

    Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins, NBC – “Facebook bans the Epoch Times ads after huge pro-Trump buy.”

    This is an updated story. Collins:

    “Breaking from us: Facebook has banned The Epoch Times from advertising for ‘trying to get around its review systems’ over the past year.

    The Epoch Times has been extraordinarily active in advertising on YouTube recently, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they go all out there now.

    Here’s a segment about their weird YouTube advertising @chrislhayes was targeted with a couple of days ago….”

    So it appears the FB ban came as a result of the reporting by Zadrozny and Collins a few hours ago:

    The Epoch Times, a conservative news outlet that has spent more money on pro-Trump Facebook advertisements than any group other than the Trump campaign in the last six months, shifted its spending on the platform in the last month, according to results seen on Facebook’s advertising archive. These new pages obfuscate their connection to ads that promote the president and conspiracy theories about his political enemies.

    The Epoch Times’ new method of pushing the pro-Trump conspiracy ads on Facebook, which now appear under page names such as “Honest Paper” and “Pure American Journalism,” allows the organization to hide its multimillion-dollar spending on dark-money ads, in effect bypassing Facebook’s political advertising transparency rules….

    Following what Trump’s gang (and others) are up to on FB, Twitter, and YT (and in New Hampshire, New Mexico, Georgia,…) is important reporting right now.

  115. says

    openDemocracy (I can’t speak to the authenticity of these documents) – “Leaked documents show Brazil’s Bolsonaro has grave plans for Amazon rainforest”:

    Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro’s government intends to use the Brazilian president’s hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.

    The Bolsonaro government has as one of its priorities to strategically occupy the Amazon region to prevent the implementation of multilateral conservation projects for the rainforest, specifically the so-called “Triple A” project.

    “Development projects must be implemented on the Amazon basin to integrate it into the rest of the national territory in order to fight off international pressure for the implementation of the so-called ‘Triple A’ project. To do this, it is necessary to build the Trombetas River hydroelectric plant, the Óbidos bridge over the Amazon River, and the implementation of the BR-163 highway to the border with Suriname,” one of slides read.

    The slides are clear. Before any predatory plan is implemented, the strategy begins with rhetoric. Bolsonaro’s hate speech already shows that the plan is working. The Amazon is on fire. It’s been burning for weeks and not even those who live in Brazil were fully aware. Thanks to the efforts of local communities with the help of social networks, the reality is finally going viral.

    Attacking non-governmental organizations is part of the Bolsonaro government’s strategy. According to another of the PowerPoint’s slide, the country is currently facing a globalist campaign that “relativizes the National Sovereignty in the Amazon Basin,” using a combination of international pressure and also what the government called “psychological oppression” both externally and internally.

    So it is unsurprising that Bolsonaro’s response to the fires comes in the form of an attack on NGOs….

  116. raven says

    Plants and trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air in their process of photosynthesis. This is why the Amazon, which covers 2.1 million square miles, is often referred to as the “lungs of the planet”:
    The forest produces 20 percent of the oxygen in our planet’s atmosphere.
    The Amazon Is Burning at a Record Rate, And The Devastation Can …

    https://www.sciencealert.com › the-amazon-is-burning-at-a-record-rate-and-…

    I’ve noticed that under the current fascist in Brazil, the Amazon rain forest looks to be gone soon.
    With modern technology and the forest drying out, they could get rid of it in a matter of years.
    Those fires are human set and human encouraged.
    To them, the rain forest is simply an obstacle in the way and worth more dead than alive.

    It turns out that the Amazon produces 20% of the earth’s oxygen.
    With 7.8 billion people, if we deforest the earth, and wreck the oceans with plastic etc., then CO2 will rise rapidly like now, and…oxygen is going to start dropping.
    I’ve always thought the talk of a human level extinction event was an exaggeration.
    I”m not so sure of that now.

  117. raven says

    More than 20 percent of the Amazon rainforest is already gone, and much more is severely threatened as the destruction continues. It is estimated that the Amazon alone is vanishing at a rate of 20,000 square miles a year.
    Facts and information on the Amazon Rainforest – Raintree Nutrition

    http://www.rain-tree.com › facts

    Wikipedia: Using the 2005 deforestation rates, it was estimated that the Amazon rainforest would be reduced by 40% in two decades.

    The Amazon rain forest could be gone in a few decades if the Brazilians decide it is worth more dead than alive.
    Which their present government has already decided.
    We are going to miss all that oxygen.

  118. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 151

    Ms. Marcotte can speak for herself, but the longer these bastards live, the more time they have to screw things up.

    Pardon me for sounding a bit Bolshevik, but the fucking rich can’t die soon enough.

  119. says

    Guardian – “Molotov-Ribbentrop: why is Moscow trying to justify Nazi pact?”:

    Eighty years after the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany signed a non-aggression treaty dividing Europe into spheres of influence, Russia has put the original Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and its secret protocol on public display.

    Alongside the pact at the exhibition at Russia’s State Archives in Moscow are documents spanning from the 1938 Munich agreement and occupation of Czechoslovakia until the outbreak of war, which organisers say confirm Soviet fears that the west sought to redirect German aggression toward Moscow.

    The message to Europe is clear: everyone was at it.

    Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who spoke at the exhibition’s opening this week, made that point explicitly: “Under these circumstances, the Soviet Union was forced on its own to ensure its national security and signed a non-aggression pact with Germany,” he said.

    The Soviet Union long denied that the secret protocol to the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact – which was signed on 23 August 1939 – ever existed, only acknowledging and denouncing it in 1989 under Mikhail Gorbachev. Now, Russia has sought to normalise the non-aggression pact, arguing that the treaty had been taken “out of context” of the vicious realpolitik of 1930s Europe.

    That attempt, accompanied by a foreign ministry social media campaign trumpeting the “truth about WWII” has sparked an outcry from nearby countries in eastern Europe that were annexed and divided under the pact.

    Over the last decade, the Kremlin has sought to combat criticism of its wartime record, by revising textbooks, expanding celebrations for Victory Day, and partnering with historians, reviving the tsarist-era Russian Military Historical Society in 2012 under the leadership of Sergei Naryshkin, a senior official later appointed as Russia’s spy chief.

    The re-evaluation of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact began as early as 2005, when Putin compared it to the Munich agreement and accused the Baltic states of attacking Russia “to cover the shame of collaborationism”. By 2007, as Russia clashed with Estonia over a bronze statue to a second world war soldier, Russian historians were increasingly publishing books and essays defending the pact as expedient.

    But praise for the treaty really escalated after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, when Moscow compared far-right support for Ukraine’s revolution to Nazi-era collaboration. The following year, Vladimir Medinsky, the country’s culture minister, called the treaty “a great achievement of Soviet diplomacy”….

    It was a great diplomatic achievement which never happened and everyone was doing it.

    Today is the 80th anniversary of the signing of the pact.

  120. says

    Three Dem presidential candidates have now dropped out of the race:

    Jay Inslee announced on Rachel Maddow the other day that he’ll seek a third term as Washington governor.

    John Hickenlooper will contest the Colorado Senate seat currently held by Cory Gardner.

    Seth Moulton announced this morning that he’s ending his candidacy.

  121. says

    NBC – “Trump joked about trading Puerto Rico for Greenland. Puerto Ricans are joking back.”:

    President Donald Trump has been joking recently about trading Puerto Rico for Greenland. But now it’s Puerto Ricans who are the ones laughing — and many say they’d be happy with the trade.

    Some called themselves the “Caribbean Vikings” and others shared all the benefits they would have if they stopped being a U.S. territory and became an autonomous Danish territory.

    “I don’t know about you, but I have no problem with being sold to Denmark,” Gabriel René, a digital ad executive, tweeted after The New York Times reported on Trump’s remark. A former official told New York Times reporters he heard Trump joke in a meeting last year about trading Puerto Rico for Greenland in order to get rid of the U.S. territory.

    On social media, Puerto Ricans took it in stride.

    “Denmark is the country with the best education in the world,” a man wrote on Twitter.

    “Honestly being part of Denmark may be the best thing to ever happen to us,” Dartina Marie Pérez, who lives in Puerto Rico, tweeted.

    Under the hashtags #DenmarkPR and #DinamarcaPR, meaning Denmark in Spanish, Puerto Ricans started claiming the Danish royal family and shared some of the perks they would get by being a Danish territory.

    “We will finally have representation in the Europe [League] and possibly in the World Cup,” a Twitter user wrote in Spanish, sharing a photo of the Danish soccer team….

  122. says

    JUST IN: The National Retail Federation tells @CNBC that ‘it is unrealistic for American retailers to move out of the world’s second largest economy’ after President Trump ordered companies to ‘start looking for an alternative to China’.”

    The Dow is plummeting again.

  123. says

    Trump’s exact (tweeted) words in #161:

    “…Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing..

    ….your companies HOME and making your products in the USA. I will be responding to China’s Tariffs this afternoon. This is a GREAT opportunity for the United States. Also, I am ordering all carriers, including Fed Ex, Amazon, UPS and the Post Office, to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE,….

    ….all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!)….”

    They’re “hereby ordered.”

  124. tomh says

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent treatment for tumor on pancreas

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg completed radiation treatment for a malignant tumor found on her pancreas, the Supreme Court disclosed Friday. It is her second treatment within a year for the disease.

    The court said the treatment began earlier this month, and no additional treatment is planned.

    “The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body,” the court’s spokeswoman said in a statement. “Justice Ginsburg will continue to have periodic blood tests and scans. No further treatment is needed at this time.”

    Ginsburg last December had part of a lung removed after cancer was discovered there. For the first time, the 86-year-old justice missed a monthly sitting of the court, although she kept up with oral arguments and wrote a decision from a case argued that month.

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg makes first public appearance since cancer surgery

    She has said since that her health is fine, and that she intends to continue to serve.

    Here is the court’s statement:

    “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg today completed a three-week course of stereotactic ablative radiation therapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The focused radiation treatment began on August 5 and was administered on an outpatient basis to treat a tumor on her pancreas. The abnormality was first detected after a routine blood test in early July, and a biopsy performed on July 31 at Sloan Kettering confirmed a localized malignant tumor. As part of her treatment, a bile duct stent was placed.

    “The Justice tolerated treatment well. She cancelled her annual summer visit to Santa Fe, but has otherwise maintained an active schedule. The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body. Justice Ginsburg will continue to have periodic blood tests and scans. No further treatment is needed at this time.”

    Before Friday’s disclosure, Ginsburg had battled cancer three times before.

    Besides the pulmonary lobectomy in December, in which a lobe of her left lung was removed, Ginsburg was treated for colorectal cancer in 1999, and pancreatic cancer was discovered at a very early stage 10 years later. She scheduled treatment for both during the court’s off days, and did not miss a day of oral argument.

    Pancreatic cancer is particularly dangerous, but Ginsburg in an interview with NPR in July made light of predictions about her fate at the time.

    “There was a senator, I think it was after my pancreatic cancer, who announced, with great glee, that I was going to be dead within six months,” she recalled in the interview. “That senator, whose name I have forgotten, is now himself dead, and I am very much alive.”

    The senator was Republican Jim Bunning of Kentucky, who later apologized for his remarks.

    Ginsburg has kept up an active schedule since returning to the court in late winter, traveling abroad and speaking to various groups.

    During the annual trip to New Mexico mentioned in the statement, Ginsburg spends a week with an eclectic group of friends and attends a production of the Santa Fe Opera.

  125. says

    “Facebook learned about Cambridge Analytica as early as September 2015, new documents show”:

    Newly released documents suggest that Facebook was aware that Cambridge Analytica may have been gathering user profile data three months before a newspaper revealed that the political research firm was using the information to profile and target voters in the 2016 U.S. election.

    The internal communication refers to concerns over Cambridge Analytica as early as September 2015. In the documents, Facebook employees discuss Cambridge Analytica and other third parties that it had been warned were using its data in ways that may violate its policies. The employees said they were reaching out to the companies in question to investigate their use of Facebook data.

    The correspondence between employees gives more insight into what Facebook knew at the time and when it knew it….

    Every step of the way they tolerated and abetted this, and every step of the way since they’ve concealed and misled about it.

  126. says

    Leah McElrath:

    It’s only going to get worse until we get him out of there.

    A friend asked, “Define worse.”

    So I will.

    As Trump continues to lose support and his grandiose delusions are no longer reflected back to him with consistency, he will become more paranoid, more erratic, more impulsive, and — importantly — more desperate to exert control.

    Trump’s projections will become even more revealing of his internal emptiness, envy, resentment, and sadism.

    He will project those qualities outward and use them to rationalize using the powers he has to destroy whatever/whomever he targets as screens on which to project.

    The behavior of malignant narcissists like Trump is fairly predictable — and can become immeasurably dangerous.

    Add to the severity of his personality disorder the likelihood of Trump having some form progressive psycho-neurological deterioration and we’re in uncharted waters….

    More at the link.

  127. says

    White supremacy and anti-immigrant bigotry:

    A city council candidate in Michigan brought a community forum to a stunned standstill by declaring that her small community outside of Detroit should remain white “as much as possible.”

    Jean Cramer, one of five candidates vying for three open seats in the November election, responded to a moderator who had asked whether Marysville should be more aggressive in seeking foreign-born residents.

    “Keep Marysville a white community as much as possible,” Cramer replied. “White. Seriously. In other words, no foreign-born, no foreign people.”

    According to an account of the meeting in The Times Herald in Port Huron, the audience responded with a “brief guffaw,” which was followed by other candidates responding to the question. No one echoed Cramer’s views. […]

    “Husband and wife need to be the same race,” she told the reporter. “Same thing with kids. That’s how it’s been from the beginning of, how can I say, when God created the heaven and the earth. He created Adam and Eve at the same time. But as far as me being against blacks, no, I’m not.”

    Mayor pro tem Kathy Hayman, another council candidate whose father is Syrian, was rendered speechless by Cramer’s comments. When her turn came to speak during the forum, she said she wasn’t even sure “if I could talk yet. I am so upset and shocked.” […]


    Of course “God” was pulled into this to justify the retrograde opinions.

  128. says

    More anti-immigrant, and anti-due-process actions from the Trump administration.

    Shakeup of immigration court system threatens migrants’ due process

    Congress has given migrants rights. A new rule appears aimed at making sure they don’t exercise them.

    Migrants may soon have a much harder time finding lawyers and understanding their rights in immigration court, as the Trump administration pursues a major overhaul of the agency that oversees those proceedings.

    The crucial office that provides basic legal information to migrants and helps connect some of them to pro-bono immigration lawyers will be merged into a Trump-created unit widely viewed as the nerve center of his immigration power grab. […]

    The bureaucratic reshuffle leaves the assistance programs “buried deep in the bowels” of an agency that today “never does anything without some ulterior political motive relating to the restrictionist immigration agenda,” retired immigration judge Paul Schmidt told reporters Friday.

    The regulations concern the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), where the work of applying immigration laws to individual human cases gets done. In addition to burying the legal-assistance work in a team Trump created, the rule endows EOIR’s director with vast new power to change how immigration laws are applied. […]

  129. says

    CNN – “Trump has questioned why he must attend G7”:

    President Donald Trump departs late Friday for a summit he’s questioned is worth his time.
    This year’s G7 gathering, held in seaside France, is Trump’s third. It comes amid global economic jitters, tensions from the Mideast to the Indian subcontinent and raging fires in the Amazon.

    But in conversations with aides over the past weeks, Trump has questioned why he must attend, according to people familiar with the conversations. After the past two G7 summits ended acrimoniously, Trump complained about attending a third, saying he didn’t view the gathering as a particularly productive use of his time.

    He’s made similar asides in meetings with other world leaders, including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and French President Emmanuel Macron, who have encouraged him over the past six months to commit to attending the Biarritz summit, people familiar with the conversations said. Macron is this year’s summit host.

    The G7 represents the world’s major economies, and has long been a regular stop on the US President’s calendar. In small group sessions, with only the leaders and few aides present, the world’s major economic and geopolitical problems are discussed at length.

    It’s a more workaday style of foreign travel than the type of trip Trump has come to enjoy, which usually include lavish displays of welcome like royal parades or state banquets. It’s also a practice in the kind of multilateralism that Trump and his aides have downplayed in favor of one-one-one negotiations with other countries.

    After [the 2017 and 2018] summits, Trump was irked at the lengthy discussions about the environment and oceans, the people familiar said, and felt he wasn’t given enough room to tout his achievements as president. Inside the White House, it wasn’t clear Trump would commit to attending the this year’s G7 until late spring.

    To help make his attendance this week more palatable, aides lobbied to add a Sunday morning session focused on the global economy as a venue for him to brag about the US economy to leaders of nations where growth is slowing.

    How that sessions unfolds remains to be seen: fellow leaders blame the global slowdown partly on his protracted trade war with China, which devolved on Friday when China announced new retaliatory tariffs on US goods. Trump responded by pressing American firms to cease business there, and equity markets dropped sharply.

    And the notion of the American President convening a session simply to flaunt the relative strength of the US economy — and taking credit for it — isn’t likely to sit well with other leaders, particularly since many of them blame his trade tactics for a slump in global growth….

    He has no idea how to do this job. He’s completely incompetent, and trying to hide it with drama.

  130. says

    Bolsonaro’s bullshit about Macron having a “colonialist mindset” is rich coming from the monstrous weakling who sold out to US neoliberal ultras to get power:

    …Guedes is a committed neoliberal. He not only earned his PhD at the University of Chicago where he was taught by the extreme right-wing economist Milton Friedman, but he is also a well-known fan of the Chicago boy economists who managed Chile’s economy during the Pinochet dictatorship, turning Chile into the first experiment in neoliberalism in Latin America.

    During that time Guedes taught economics at the University of Chile, demonstrating he has no moral objections serving under a right-wing authoritarian, be it General Pinochet of Chile or Brazil’s incoming president Jair Bolsonaro. And when it comes to Brazil, Guedes is set on a “Pinochet-style” fix of the economy: “The Chicago boys saved Chile, fixed Chile, fixed the mess”, he stated in a Financial Times interview. Guedes now has set his sights on ‘fixing’ the Brazilian economy in a similar way.

    In the last few weeks, it has become clear that Guedes has surrounded himself with other Chicago graduates. Joaquim Levy, who apparently has no problem shifting his political allegiance in order to get into any position of power, will head the powerful Brazilian Development Bank. Another Chicago graduate, Roberto Castello Branco, will serve as Petrobras chief executive. Several other Chicago trained economists such as Ruben Novaes are also given important positions in finance and trade. Bloomberg refers to this gathering of neoliberal fanatics as “Milton Friedman’s Brazil moment”, and international investors and news outlets such as the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal do not attempt to hide their enthusiasm, because they know what is about to happen….

    Some try to defend people from domestic and foreign predators. Others, like Bolsonaro, happily sell their souls.

  131. says

    Mehdi Hasan:

    The New York Times headline on Trump’s remarks about the economy refers to his “volatile” approach. This is what’s called normalization. Trump’s approach isn’t “volatile”, it’s batshit crazy. He compared his own Fed chief to the Chinese dictator. That isn’t merely “volatile” FFS.

  132. says

    LOL – from the IMF’s 2019 “mission concluding statement” on Brazil (to which I won’t link):

    The mission welcomes the government’s ambitious reform agenda which includes pension reform, privatization, trade openness, tax reform, and reducing state intervention in credit markets. These reforms are essential to boost potential growth. The monetary stance is appropriately supportive at present.

    So nationalist, so populist, so anti-colonial.

  133. says

    BuzzFeed – “The Trump Administration Asked The Supreme Court To Legalize Firing Workers Simply For Being Gay”:

    The Trump administration took its hardest line yet to legalize anti-gay discrimination on Friday when it asked the Supreme Court to declare that federal law allows private companies to fire workers based only on their sexual orientation.

    An amicus brief filed by the Justice Department weighed in on two cases involving gay workers and what is meant by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination “because of sex.” The administration argued courts nationwide should stop reading the civil rights law to protect gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers from bias because it was not originally intended to do so.

    That view conflicts with some lower court rulings that found targeting someone for their sexual orientation is an illegal form of both sex discrimination and sex stereotyping under Title VII. Those courts have found, to illustrate the point, that a gay man wouldn’t be targeted if he were instead a woman dating a man; thus he faced discrimination because of his sex.

    But the administration said in its brief Friday that Title VII’s ban on sex discrimination only prohibits unequal treatment between “biological sexes,” as it argued last week in a related brief against transgender rights, in which the Justice Department said companies should be able to fire people because they are transgender as well.

    Congress did not explicitly say that the meaning of sex in Title VII encompasses LGBTQ people, so, the administration argues, the law cannot apply to sexual orientation. Federal lawyers are asking the Supreme Court, for the first time, to explicitly limit the Civil Right Act’s protections to exclude LGBTQ people.

    “Title VII’s prohibition on discrimination because of sex does not bar discrimination because of sexual orientation,” said the Justice Department’s brief.

    A Supreme Court ruling in the government’s favor could trigger cascading ramifications for LGBTQ rights. Limiting the scope of Title VII would assert that a raft of state and federal laws banning sex-based discrimination have no application for sexual orientation or gender identity, a ruling that would likely reach far beyond employment to other settings where sex discrimination is banned, including public schools.

    The Justice Department also filed a separate motion on Friday asking for Solicitor General Noel Francisco to get time during oral arguments when the Supreme Court hears the case next month, saying, “The United States has a substantial interest” in the case. (The solicitor general under any administration has been called the 10th justice due to the position’s heavy influence on the court.)

    Friday’s filing comes on the heels of the administration’s plans last week to let federal contractors discriminate against workers by claiming a religious reason and the administration telling the Supreme Court that it’s also legal to fire transgender workers under Title VII.

    The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in all three Title VII cases — two on sexual orientation and one on gender identity — on Oct. 8.

    More at the link. Great timing with that endorsement, Log Cabin bozos.

    “‘The correct comparison is between a female employee in a same-sex relationship and a male employee in a same-sex relationship; they would be similarly situated—and they would be treated the same’, said the brief.” What fucking business is it of someone’s boss who they’re sexually attracted to or in a relationship with in the first place?

  134. says

    Kim Ghattas in the Atlantic – “Arab Women Are Tired of Talking About Just ‘Women’s Issues’”:

    The striking image of a tall woman dressed in white, lightly veiled, wearing large gold earrings, and raising a finger as she led several hundred men and women in chants of protest against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir went viral in April.

    Described as a Nubian queen, 22-year old Alaa Salah quickly became an icon of the movement to bring down Bashir—and of the widespread participation of women in the protests that eventually resulted in his ouster. Her efforts, and those of many other women, were covered extensively by the media as an extraordinary moment, almost an exception.

    Yet before Sudan, women were at the forefront of protests in Benghazi, Libya, in 2011; and in Yemen that same year, with one, Tawakkol Karman, going on to win a Nobel Peace Prize. And women were key to the activism that helped sustain the protests and civilian resistance against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with hundreds if not thousands of them landing in government jails.

    Though many of those protests were crushed, they were not new or fleeting moments of Arab women exerting their power. Women in the Middle East have historically been active in many fields from newspaper publishing in the early 20th century to banking and politics today, but their role has often been overlooked.

    Now, however, a growing chorus of Arab women is offering an alternative to the typically male, often autocratic voice that dominates within their own societies (and in Western portrayals of the region). Through a variety of media, from journalism to television to literature, they are undermining the long-held narrative of Arab women as docile and submissive.

    This is what emerges clearly from the recently published anthology Our Women on the Ground: Essays by Arab Women Reporting From the Arab World, a book edited by the Lebanese journalist and writer Zahra Hankir that brings together 19 essays by women journalists, all of them Arab or Arab American.

    In the essays, Hankir says, “none of them were striving to dispel stereotypes about who they are. Instead, they were focused on the task at hand, their jobs, and oftentimes survival. There is no one Arab woman; there is no one way to be an Arab woman; and there is no one Arab female experience. By telling their stories, these women, without intending to do so, and without a Western audience in mind, have punctured prevalent narratives rooted in flawed post-colonial discourse.”

    The notion that Arab women have much more to say than just commenting on their lives as women and on gender issues should be an obvious one, and it’s what drove the veteran Lebanese journalist Nada Abdelsamad to conceive her weekly talk show, Dunyana—Arabic for Our World—airing on BBC Arabic TV. (The program has been on air since 2014, when the British broadcaster began a push to give more airtime to women to achieve gender parity across all its output.)

    Abdelsamad took the idea further in her show. The program not only features an all-women panel with the occasional male guest; it eschews the discussions of motherhood and child-rearing heard on many women’s talk shows, choosing instead to focus hour-long episodes on a specific political or social issue. On Dunyana, female experts discuss everything from youth unemployment to modern Arab literature to counterterrorism strategies. To date, Abdelsamad has had 720 women on the program, from every single Arab country, and has herself been surprised by the seemingly never-ending supply of women experts to sustain the show. She refuses to include politicians on her shows, and while some of the women are prominent in their own country, there are no celebrities.

    Abdelsamad’s show would be groundbreaking even in the United States or other Western countries, where all-male panels are still a regular occurrence, and where there continues to be a dearth of women experts cited in newspaper articles and academic papers. Male writers and reviewers also dominate book coverage in the United States, according to the nonprofit organization VIDA, even though women writers and readers are the majority. Arab women, therefore, face twin obstacles: the West’s own gender biases, and the reductive narrative of the Arab woman.

    Hankir told me that while questions from the audience at book events thus far in the United States have been thoughtful, she was surprised by how often journalists asked her about how her anthology would help puncture the narrative of the docile Arab woman, a reflection of how enduring that lens remains. It is still one chosen by some Western reporters in their own stories (as well as the one seen in portrayals from Hollywood and elsewhere), helping to perpetuate the stereotype.

    And so, while the chorus of strong Arab women’s voices is growing, the question is: Does the West want to hear it?

    One episode of Dunyana featured a “heated discussion on atheism with a Saudi guest, the television anchor Buthaina Nasr, who chose to appear without her veil.” I wish we could get this show in the US with subtitles. MSNBC and CNN should also look into this format.

  135. says

    SC @180, as expected, I am seeing rightwing media explaining away or excusing all of Trump’s unhinged statements and actions from last week. The rightwing take is that he was joking when he said, “I am the chosen one.”

    I watched that video several times. If he was joking, it doesn’t show. He looks and sounds serious. Even if he was being ironic about the whole “chosen one” phraseology, he does seem to believe that he is a chosen one of sorts. Also, his cult followers believe that.

    The excuse for the “King of Israel” and the “second coming” remarks is that those were just retweets. When have you seen Trump retweet text of which he does not approve? (If he does that, he makes it clear that he does not agree.) When have you seen Trump append his “Wow!” to a tweet of which he does not approve.

    When does Trump vet the source of a retweet? (Rhetorical question.)

    When has Trump ever backed down from the idea of buying Greenland?

    When has Trump ever backed down from the idea that he can “hereby” order U.S. companies to stop doing business in China? He thinks can issue such orders as part his “national emergency” powers.

    Rightwing media is wrong. Trump truly is unhinged.

  136. blf says

    Not exactly political, It’s 2019 — we need to talk about why most bras are still so terrible:

    [… W]e need to talk about the fact that bras are terrible a lot more than we do. It’s 2019, for God’s sake! We’ve developed mind-reading robots, jet-powered hoverboards, and self-driving cars. But it still remains ridiculously difficult to find a comfortable bra, particularly if you’re bigger than a B-cup. And this isn’t just painful — it has more wide-ranging ramifications. A 2015 study found that that not being able to find a good sports bra stopped a significant number of women from exercising.

    One of the reasons so many women are walking around in bad bras is because […] lingerie ads have traditionally been targeted towards men. The focus has been on sexiness not function. Who cares if women are uncomfortable, after all? Thankfully, things are slowly changing. Victoria’s Secret is struggling while new women-led underwear brands are popping up and putting comfort first. There’s still a way to go before bras are a joy to wear but at least progress is being made. […]

    As a side-note I have some experience with, the starting point for the above rant is a Coors Light beer advertisement where “an attractive young woman comes home from work, grabs a beer from the fridge, and takes off her bra. [… T]he woman sits on the couch, bra-less breasts still covered by her shirt, and takes happy sips of beer by herself. On-screen text declares Coors Light ‘the official beer of being done wearing a bra’.” What I liked is the authour’s observation “Coors Light is the official beer of people who enjoy drinking dishwater”, which I think is being too polite to both Coors and their so-called “beers”.

    I presume the Japanese minister for woman’s enslavement will declare bras necessary, rather like he did for high-heeled shoes a few months ago…

  137. says

    Followup to comment 182.

    From Trump himself:

    When I looked up to the sky and jokingly said “I am the chosen one,” at a press conference two days ago, referring to taking on Trade with China, little did I realize that the media would claim that I had a “Messiah complex.” They knew I was kidding, being sarcastic, and just ..having fun. I was smiling as I looked up and around. The MANY reporters with me were smiling also. They knew the TRUTH…And yet when I saw the reporting, CNN, MSNBC and other Fake News outlets covered it as serious news & me thinking of myself as the Messiah. No more trust!

    No, I didn’t see a smile.

    From Aaron Rupar:

    Asked about his comment that he’s “the chosen one,” Trump attacks the reporter who asked it, says, “it was sarcasm. It was joking. We were all smiling … you’re just a faker.”

    Also from Aaron Rupar:

    Trump, struggling to speak, cites “somebody who came in the other day” to make a fact-free claim that “tech companies” manipulated 15 million votes in Hillary Clinton’s favor in 2016.

    He then seems to have a hard time remembering Emmanuel Macron’s name.

    https://twitter.com/atrupar/status/1165106639462174720 Video at the link.

    Comments from TPM readers:

    Liar! Liar!!!

    He’s the one and only! He’s the guy! He’s the man! He’s alone on a rainy parched beach!

    Ok, which one is sarcasm?

    quote 1: Oh, yeah, guys, I’m TOTALLY the chosen one to fix the economy. That’s why my Super easy to win trade wars with China are REALLY helping farmers, who are definitely NOT going into bankruptcy, because I’m totally a competent, functioning human being with no trace of mental malfunctions.

    quote 2: I am your god and you have to vote for me
    Yeah, no. He also retweeted some guy calling him the “King of Israel”, and has said in the past, “only I can fix it”, and wants to give himself the Medal of Honor. And I almost forgot him roughly jostling the leader of Montenegro at a previous summit.

    I don’t believe narcissists use sarcasm when referring to themselves, because they constantly cry out for admiration, affirmation, and validation.
    He knows how to be sarcastic and joke? This is big news since this hasn’t been revealed the whole time he’s been in office
    Classic gas lighting from an abusive person.
    The scariest quote from this story is “You’re just a faker.” That hints of even more of a cognitive decline, imo. That, and being described as “struggling to speak”.

    Won’t someone stand up and say that the emperor has no functioning brain?
    I got the impression myself that he was joking in that exchange, but a Trump joke is often not the joke of a normal person. His jokes sometimes are used to introduce an idea he knows people with conventional views of reality do not accept. He often “jokes” about serving more than two terms, for instance. It’s not a conventional joke. From a medical professional writing anonymously to “The Atlantic” back before the election:

    “Trump is aware that there are other views of reality than his own. The narcissistic project is to argue, charm, bully the world into accepting his view of reality, including but also going beyond his grandiose view of self. Insisting on this view leads others to mistake his aberrance for lying.”

    His tone is superficially joking. But his intent is to introduce this idea. It’s like some sleazy guy joking with his girlfriend about threesomes. If she’s offended, jeeze, he was just joking. But he’s sounding her out.

  138. blf says

    France (where I now live), and Ireland (where I used to live), take action, Ireland, France set to block EU-Mercosur trade deal over Amazon (Al Jazeera edits in {curly braces}):

    The deal has taken 20 years to negotiate, but Brazil’s lack of environmental protection has sparked worldwide anger.

    As wildfires rage through the Amazon, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and French President Emmanuel Macron have said they will vote against a trade deal between the European Union and South American trade bloc Mercosur unless Brazil takes action to protect the rainforest.

    Varadkar said in a statement on Friday he was very concerned at the record levels of rainforest destruction, adding that the Irish government would closely monitor Brazil’s environmental actions in the two years until the Mercosur deal is ratified.

    “There is no way that Ireland will vote for the EU–Mercosur Free Trade Agreement if Brazil does not honour its environmental commitments,” he said.

    Macron, meanwhile, believes his Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro lied to him on Brazil’s stance on climate change, and France will now join Ireland in blocking the trade deal between the EU and South American nations.

    “Given the attitude of Brazil over the last weeks, the president can only conclude that President Bolsonaro lied to him at the Osaka {G20} summit {in June},” a French presidential official said on Friday, as a public row flared between the two leaders over wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest.


    Varadkar said Bolsonaro’s effort to blame non-government environmental organisations for the fires was “Orwellian”.


    The deal may still happen. As the article notes, Ireland and France, alone, are insufficient to block the agreement. An awkward point is the problem is basically the current Brazilian “government”, not Mercosur as a whole…

  139. blf says

    Also not political, but very very probably the last chance… Kenyan scientists harvest eggs to save northern white rhinos (video):

    Demand for rhino horn fuelled poaching that has wiped out all but two female northern white rhinos.

    Scientists in Kenya say the northern white rhino is one step away from being saved from extinction.

    On Thursday they successfully carried out a ground-breaking procedure of harvesting eggs from the world’s only two surviving female northern white rhinos.

    Sperm saved from the last living male northern white rhino called Sudan and a few others will be used to inseminate the eggs in an attempt to save the species.

  140. says

    Trump and the National Emergency Act:

    When Donald Trump couldn’t get the money he wanted through Congress to support his fiction of a border invasion, he dragged out the National Emergency Act and simply obtained that money … by taking it away from funds supposed to build housing, hospitals, and schools for U.S. troops and their families. Confronted by the fact that his “I hereby order” that American companies should immediately stop doing business with China was laughably outside the scope of his authority, Trump responded on Friday evening by threatening to invoke the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977.

    If you were searching for the answer for “Gee, how could Donald Trump make the world even more economically unstable as he heads off to a G-7 he didn’t even want to attend?” the answer is—threaten to actually block trade with China under the pretense of an “unusual and extraordinary threat… to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.”

    Ah, yes, shades of Stephen Miller’s earlier pronouncement:

    Our opponents, the media, and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.

    More from the article by Mark Sumner:

    The Emergency Economic Powers Act has been invoked more than two dozen times since it was signed into law, but the reasons that it has been invoked are critical. The names of the countries that have been at the pointy end of this act—North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya—have been sanctioned at a point when they were engaged in acts seen as encouraging terrorism or attacking neighboring countries. The act has also been invoked globally on several occasions to limit trade in specific technologies, particularly those used in cyber-enabled espionage. […]

    To bolster his claims of an emergency on the border, Trump took a two-pronged approach: pass regulations that created a genuine human-rights emergency on the border by design, and lie. Also lie more. Why do we have federal troops along the border and money being wasted on the world’s ugliest fence? Because black vans driven by coyotes that turn left, then left, but never right, are filled with women and duct tape. That’s why.

    And mostly because Mitch McConnell and the Republican Senate wouldn’t stand in Trump’s way. […]

    The Emergency Economic Powers Act was absolutely not designed to be a tool in trade negotiations. Using it as such would be a gross distortion of the law, the limits of executive power, and every written and unwritten rule that acts as a wall between the government and American enterprise. Trump will break that wall willingly, gleefully. No matter the cost. Because he wants to.

    Because that’s how it looks when a government is based on tantrums.


    More at the link.

  141. says

    The European Council President Donald Tusk criticized Trump over idea of inviting Russia back into G-7.

    [Tusk criticized] Trump for “using tariffs and taxation as a political instrument” which he described as creating a risk for the whole world. And for backing out of the Iran nuclear agreement. And for generally opening up divisions in the Western world that “plays into the hands” of Putin and others who want to rip apart Europe, NATO, and democracy.

    “One year ago in Canada,” said Tusk, “President Trump suggested re-inviting Russia to the G-7, stating openly that Crimea’s annexation by Russia was partially justified, and that we should accept it. Under no condition can we agree with this logic.”

    It wasn’t as if Tusk told Trump to shut up or they’d just make the damn thing the G-6 … but it was close. It was as near as a genuine diplomat might come to saying “go f#ck yourself.” […]


  142. says

    Dr. Jen Gunter Wants to Protect Your Vagina From Gwyneth Paltrow

    And from politicians trying to regulate your body with pseudoscience.

    […] As an OB-GYN with nearly three decades of experience, Gunter knows from crotches. And today she is angry about how certain products—“vaginal offenders”—are pitched at women. “Since the beginning of time, women have been told that they are dirty,” she says. “They want us to be ‘pure,’ they want us to be ‘clean.’ These words have been weaponized.” […] If a topical product claims it can regulate pH, she writes, “I always wonder: What other false claims are they making?”

    […] She eyes a bar made with activated charcoal, a trendy ingredient she deems pointless. “Why get upset about a useless product?” Gunter says. “Because it makes everybody stupider—facts matter.” […]

    “I’ve been swatting at pseudoscience for so many years, I have the language to tackle it,” Gunter says. “People are listening now, so I have a duty to step up.” […]

    A few months later, Paltrow made national headlines after touting the benefits of an LA spa’s “V Steam” in a Goop review: “You sit on what is essentially a mini-throne, and a combination of infrared and mugwort steam cleanses your uterus, et al. It is an energetic release—not just a steam douche—that balances female hormone levels.” Gunter spotted the story at 6 a.m. The review was offensive to her on many levels, including the way it played into so many “patriarchal myths of women being dirty.” She fired off a post in response, pointing out that the vagina and uterus are “self-cleaning ovens,” and that steam may actually do more harm than good. The post took off. (Goop’s review no longer makes mention of the uterus or hormones.)

    Soon Gunter’s Goop criticism became a regular feature. Sometimes the posts went viral, as with a scathing takedown of Goop’s $66 jade “yoni” eggs, said to increase “vaginal muscle tone” and “hormonal balance.” The critiques gave Gunter a chance to poke holes in a celebrity’s bubble of influence. […]

    In May 2017, Gunter wrote a more sweeping condemnation of Paltrow’s site, calling it a “scare factory.” […] Goop’s editorial board responded with a post of their own, alluding to Gunter as one of the “third parties who critique goop to…bring attention to themselves.” The article goes on to call Gunter “strangely confident,” […]

    Gunter responded, calling herself “appropriately confident, because I am the expert,” and several scientists and doctors chimed in to defend her. […]

    in September 2018, when Goop was forced to pay $145,000 in civil penalties to settle a consumer protection lawsuit brought by prosecutors in 10 California counties over three of its products, including its jade and rose quartz vaginal eggs.

    More at the link.

  143. says

    From Wonkette: “Overstock Dude Says He Only Pretended To Bone Russian Spy Maria Butina For Love Of Country.”

    GO HOME 2019, YOU ARE DRUNK! The country cannot take another batshit news cycle with an insane, libertarian CEO […] shouting that the evil Deep State made him bone Russian spy Maria Butina. We are all so, so tired. And yet, here we are, having to learn about Overstock.com owner Patrick Byrne, the looniest corporate titan on the block […]

    Okay, fine. Glove up, kids, we’re going in.

    In 1999, Byrne spent $7 million to start an online furniture site for excess inventory floating around after the dotcom crash. Over the next six years he built it into a billion dollar behemoth, but nothing lasts forever, and by 2005 competitors like Amazon and Wayfair had started to eat Overstock’s lunch. Byrne, who fancied himself far too educated to fail, became convinced that the company’s woes were caused by voracious hedge funds shorting Overstock shares to bankrupt the company so they could buy it on the cheap. His solution was blockchain — it’s always blockchain with these CEOs — which he believed would cut out short sellers and also save humanity.

    “Over the next five years, we can change the world for 5 billion people,” Byrne told Forbes in May. “Well, at least a billion. Maybe 5 billion.”

    Byrne spent the next ten years suing hedge funds and Wall Street banks, with very moderate success. But his monomania continued, including a 2005 conference call with shareholders where he referred to one accused short seller as a “Sith Lord” (likely SAC Capital founder Steve Cohen), confirmed his reputation as lunatic, and caused his own father to threaten to step down from Overstock’s board if he didn’t pull his shit together and pay attention to the business. As investor Mark Cuban wrote on his blog:

    Never before in the history of Wall Street has a single conference call mentioned the following topics: miscreants, an unnamed Sith Lord he hopes the feds will bury under a prison, gay bathhouses, whether he is gay, does cocaine, both or neither, and an obligatory ‘not that there is anything wrong with that,’ phone taps, phone lines misdirected to Mexico, arrested reporters, payoffs, conspiracies, crooks, egomaniacs, fools, paranoia, which newspapers are shills and for who, payoffs, money laundering, his Irish temper, false identities, threats, intimidation, and private investigators. All in 61 minutes.

    And, as Trump-Russia blogger Seth Hettena points out, Byrne claimed on live television that he knew “for a fact there is a fax machine in the CNBC offices where every morning hedge funds send in the instructions,” and was once arrested trying to bring a loaded handgun onto an airplane.

    None of which has anything to do with Russia, but we mention it because the wingers are currently working themselves into a frenzy pretending this nutball is a credible source, rather than a guy who has been out of his damn mind for fifteen years. […]

    She [Butina] also told me that General Mikhail Kalashnikov had started a gun rights group in Russia [Право на Оружие — Right to Bear Arms]. But the main function of the group was really to be a club for liberals. “Believe it or not, Dr. Byrne, General Kalashnikov was a liberal, too!” Maria told me.

    Wow, it’s almost unbelievable that the 96-year-old Kalashnikov, months before he succumbed to a long battle with cancer, had the energy to install a 23-year-old to head a “liberal” gun club in a country with very few legal guns. As in, LOL, we don’t believe that shit for a second. […]

    As the September 2015-March 2016 wore on, my estimation changed. Maria was spending less time talking about John Locke and John Stuart Mill, more time talking about the political circles in which she was swanking around.

    She let me know [Alexander] Torshin had told her to focus on Hillary, Rubio, Cruz, and Trump. Whichever of the four won, she was to have a contact in their administration.

    Byrne confirms that Butina was being handled by a sanctioned Russian banker with close ties to the Kremlin, and he knew all about her plans to meet with Don Jr. at the NRA shindig in Kentucky. And yet the CEO savant was OUTRAGED that the FBI would commit “espionage” against the political campaigns she was trying to worm her way into by … investigating to see if those campaigns were receptive Russian offers of influence. This is your brain on Fox. […]

    More at the link.

  144. says

    A Penn Law Professor Wants to Make America White Again, by Isaac Chotiner, writing for The New Yorker.

    Amy Wax, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, is the academic who perhaps best represents the ideology of the Trump Administration’s immigration restrictionists. Wax, who began her professional life as a neurologist, and who served in the Solicitor General’s office in the late eighties and early nineties, has become known in recent years for her belief in the superiority of “Anglo-Protestant culture.” In 2017, Wax said, in an interview, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a black student graduate in the top quarter of the class, and rarely, rarely, in the top half.” The dean of Penn Law School, Theodore Ruger, said that Wax had spoken “disparagingly and inaccurately” and had been barred from teaching core-curriculum classes.

    Last month, in a speech at the National Conservatism Conference, in Washington, D.C., Wax promoted the idea of “cultural-distance nationalism,” or the belief that “we are better off if our country is dominated numerically, demographically, politically, at least in fact if not formally, by people from the first world, from the West, than by people from countries that had failed to advance.”

    She went on, “Let us be candid. Europe and the first world, to which the United States belongs, remain mostly white, for now; and the third world, although mixed, contains a lot of non-white people. Embracing cultural distance, cultural-distance nationalism, means, in effect, taking the position that our country will be better off with more whites and fewer non-whites.” In response to her remarks, Ruger issued a statement, saying that Wax’s views “are repugnant to the core values and institutional practices” of both the law school and the university. […]

    More at the link.

  145. blf says

    A follow-up to @189 — Dr Jen Gunter is becoming one of favourite bloggers — here are a few choice excepts from a recent post, No GOOP, we are most definitely not on the same side (Ok, the doctor is going after goop again, which is shooting-fish-in-a-barrel situation, but still…):

    GOOP has no issues weaponizing fears about femininity for profit. They use words like pure, clean, and natural — the same language as the patriarchy — to market supposedly better than conventional (but not really), yet definitely more expensive products as taking charge of your health.

    GOOP has promoted vaginal steaming, the origins of which include the false belief that a uterus is full of toxins. If the myth weren’t so harmful, it would be laughable. If menstrual blood were filled with deadly toxins, how exactly does an embryo implant and thrive?

    This lie has been used to exclude menstruating women from school, work, and religious services. Vaginal steaming is a literal tool of the patriarchy. A literal tool of the patriarchy.

    I wrote that twice on purpose, because it’s a double tool of the patriarchy. You know the origins? In the era of Hippocrates almost every medical symptom a woman experienced that was bothersome to men, especially having an opinion, was hysteria. The cause? A rogue uterus wandering the body. (They called it womb, but I can’t because I fucking hate that word). Fragrant herbs between the legs were used to coax the uterus back into place, like a stunned sheep.

    I shit you not.

    But when Paltrow talks about squatting over a pot of steaming allergens this is the new feminism. I am sure you can hear my eye roll.


    GOOP feels they built my brand
    Like they did my medical school, residency, and fellowship then helped me practice for 23 years? I guess they wrote all my posts and columns as well.

    Simply another attempt to decredentialize me, a classic tool of the patriarchy.

    I’ve actually written a lot less about GOOP lately because A) I had a book and columns to write B) Trump is trying to make abortion illegal and pulling fetal skulls out of abdomens after clandestine abortions isn’t something I want to do again so I’ve been writing about other things and C) frankly, it feels like punching down. I made an exception with this post.

    The mildly deranged penguin suggests “punching down” is being generous, “kicking a comatose ogre further down the gutter” is perhaps more accurate — and entirely appropriate.

    Further kicking…

    The worst part of GOOP
    GOOP never uses their amazing clout to advocate for abortion rights or to provide factual information about contraception, a glaring deficit for a supposedly feminist site.


    GOOP also exploits the fact that women — likely because of the pressures of a patriarchal society — feel they need excuses to do something nice for themselves. If you like a $400 hyaluronic acid face serum in a pretty bottle from GOOP that has no proof it’s superior to an almost identical $9 product from Trader Joe’s that’s cool. Some people like fancy face creams and serums. I like to spend my money on expensive shoes, but I don’t kid myself that my $350 Fluevogs get me to work any faster than my $10 shoes from Target. My expensive shoes are also not sold with any suggestion of a health benefit.

    My brand, if I have one, is authenticity and facts. It’s informed choice, not misinformation and fear. And eating apricots whenever the fuck I want.

    GOOP masquerades as feminism to capitalize on the gaps created by a patriarchal society and medical system.

    It’s the worst form of capitalism.

  146. blf says

    Another measles outbreak in involving DIsneyland, New Zealand teen with measles may have infected Disneyland visitors:

    A teenage girl from New Zealand sick with measles visited Disneyland and other popular tourist stops across southern California earlier this month, possibly infecting others, local government health officials warned.

    The alert comes amid the worst outbreak of measles in the US in a quarter of a century, with more than 1,200 cases reported across 30 states since October 2018, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


    During her stay in southern California the girl visited the Universal Studios theme park and several destinations in Hollywood and Santa Monica, LA health officials said, adding that anyone who was also at those locations may be at risk of developing measles.

    Orange county health officials said the girl visited Disneyland in Anaheim on 12 August and stayed at the nearby Desert Palms Hotel. […]


    Measles, considered one of the most contagious viruses in the world, infects 90% of exposed people who have not been immunized […].

    Symptoms of the virus, which can cause severe complications and even death, include fever, cough, runny nose, red eyes and a characteristic rash which can appear up to three weeks following exposure.

    At the present time, I have no idea if the young lady should have been vaccinated but wasn’t.

  147. blf says

    Sea turtles at risk as Trump weakens protections of animals endangered by climate crisis (the title is misleading, it is not just sea turtles hair furor’s dalekocrazy is trying to Exterminate! Exterminate!):

    Administration’s move is a ‘head in the sand approach’ that will further imperil creatures threatened by the climate crisis

    [… A] coalition of environmental groups has launched a federal court lawsuit to halt the Trump administration’s new interpretation of the Endangered Species Act, America’s bedrock conservation law. The changes will, among other things, limit consideration of threats to species to the foreseeable future and make it harder to place protections on important habitat.

    Conservationists say this new regime is likely to disregard the looming long-term danger posed by climate change to creatures such as the Canada lynx, which is deemed likely to be largely wiped out by 2100, as well as the Florida key deer, a diminutive endangered deer, and the Florida mole skink, a five-inch-long lizard, both of which reside in Florida Keys, an area acutely vulnerable to sea level rise.


    The Trump administration has said its new interpretation will make the act more efficient and business-friendly. The act’s effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation, said David Bernhardt, secretary of the interior.

    But the climate crisis poses a relentless, multifaceted threat to species that 1970s lawmakers could barely conceive. Recent research has found many animals are unlikely to adapt quickly enough to global heating, even species like birds that are considered highly mobile and able to adjust the timing of egg laying.


    “It appears that this administration is ignoring the science because they don’t believe in climate change,” said Taylor Jones, endangered species advocate for WildEarth Guardians, one of the groups suing the government. “This is blatant disregard of the climate crisis.”


  148. says

    Guardian – “Boris Johnson seeks legal advice on five-week parliament closure ahead of Brexit”:

    Boris Johnson has asked the attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, whether parliament can be shut down for five weeks from 9 September in what appears to be a concerted plan to stop MPs forcing a further extension to Brexit, according to leaked government correspondence.

    An email from senior government advisers to an adviser in No 10 – written within the last 10 days and seen by the Observer – makes clear that the prime minister has recently requested guidance on the legality of such a move, known as prorogation. The initial legal guidance given in the email is that shutting parliament may well be possible, unless action being taken in the courts to block such a move by anti-Brexit campaigners succeeds in the meantime.

    On Saturday Labour and pro-Remain Tory MPs reacted furiously, saying that the closure of parliament, as a method for stopping MPs preventing a potentially disastrous no-deal Brexit, would be an affront to democracy and deeply irresponsible, particularly given the government’s own acceptance of the economic turmoil no-deal could cause.

    Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer said: “Any plan to suspend parliament at this stage would be outrageous. MPs must take the earliest opportunity to thwart this plan and to stop a no-deal Brexit.”

    The prominent Tory remainer and former attorney general Dominic Grieve added: “This memo, if correct, shows Boris Johnson’s contempt for the House of Commons. It may be possible to circumvent the clear intention of the House of Commons in this way but it shows total bad faith. Excluding the house from a national crisis that threatens the future of our country is entirely wrong.”

    Johnson has said he is “not attracted” to the idea of proroguing parliament and that he wants a Brexit deal, but has repeatedly refused to rule it out. After becoming prime minister he immediately promoted Dominic Raab, the first senior Tory to propose the idea of shutting parliament to get Brexit through, to the post of foreign secretary.

    …The revelation will also anger EU leaders as Johnson makes his international summit debut at the G7 in Biarritz this weekend.

    Pro-Remain MPs have spent the summer recess planning how to block a no-deal outcome and, if necessary, force an extension to the Brexit deadline beyond 31 October, when parliament returns on 3 September.

    A government source said there was a definite and clear plan to prorogue parliament being hatched by Johnson’s closest advisers.

    The news will add greater urgency to talks that will take place on Tuesday between Jeremy Corbyn and cross-party MPs on how to prevent no-deal. Corbyn has said he will call a confidence motion in the government when parliament returns, and if successful, would seek to become prime minister for an interim period before calling a general election. Starmer is understood to want MPs to try to pass legislation specifically to mandate the prime minister to ask the EU for an extension.

    Senior MPs believe Johnson may think that he can win such a confidence motion, and believe that having done so that he would have a mandate to drive through a no-deal Brexit even if he had to shut down parliament to do so. Any move to prorogue parliament would enrage Commons speaker John Bercow who said recently at the Edinburgh festival that parliament could stop a no-deal Brexit.

    The campaigner and businesswoman Gina Miller has said she will spearhead an immediate legal challenge should Johnson try to shut down parliament in order to drive through a no-deal Brexit against the wishes of MPs….

  149. Oggie: Mathom says

    On this day, 400 years ago, the first African slaves landed in Virginia, at Point Comfort, which is now part of Fort Monroe National Monument. Many national parks will be ringing bells at 3:00pm DST for four minutes to remember what was done four centuries ago.

  150. says

    Julia Davis (who didn’t thread her tweets):

    The Russians are looking forward to the upcoming #G7 summit, because they believe that Trump will “obsessively” push the idea of #Russia’s unconditional return to the group.

    Trump said it would be “advantageous” to have Russia back in the group, and that “some people agree with me and other people don’t necessarily agree.” He called the discussion a “work in progress.”

    On whose behalf is he “working” here?

    Trump claimed that multiple foreign leaders had told him they agreed that #Russia should be readmitted to the G-7, though Europeans have been adamant that Russia should remain ostracized and argued with Trump about it at dinner Saturday.

    Trump declined to specify who had supposedly agreed with him about re-admitting #Russia to G7. “I could, but I don’t believe that’s necessary,” he said.

    The Europeans said they believe the G-7 should give big liberal democracies a chance to talk to one another, but Trump doesn’t share that view. His argument was that on a number of issues “it only makes sense to have a discussion with President Putin.”

    At their first joint dinner meeting, G-7 leaders had “constructive discussions,” but the conversation turned “rough & tumble” when Trump interrupted the Iran discussion to say that it didn’t make sense to have the conversation without #Russia at the table.

    Over G7 dinner, Trump spent some time bashing former president Barack Obama about the decision to kick out #Russia, repeating his public statements that Putin had been kicked out only because he outsmarted Obama.

  151. says

    Ha! All of the “legitimate rape” type of aging white guys are flocking together in an ever-dwindling, pathetic little group. And now they are having trouble raising money. Imagine that.

    Apparently Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) become too toxic for his own party.

    The Daily Beast reported on Sunday that King, notorious for his racist comments about immigrants and white supremacy, is struggling to raise funds for his reelection campaign.

    King’s colleagues and corporate PACs have completely abandoned the Iowa Republican, according to the Daily Beast. To add insult to injury, some of King’s former donors are now directing to his primary challenger, Iowa state Sen. Randy Feenstra (R), instead.

    However, King still has some support: Former Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO), who torpedoed his own reelection campaign in 2012 after making bizarre comments about “legitimate rape,” donated $2,000 to King’s campaign in April after the Iowa congressman told the New York Times he didn’t understand why white supremacy was “offensive.”

    GOP leaders began turning on King after the Times interview by stripping him of his committee assignments. The party’s repudiation of King accelerated this month when he publicly speculated whether the population would exist without rape or incest.

    Talking Points Memo link

  152. says

    Clean up on aisle Trump Dump:

    White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow on Sunday scrambled to “reinterpret” […] Trump’s comment about having second thoughts about his escalating trade war with China.

    “So the President said that he’s having second thoughts about escalating the trade war,” CNN reporter said during Kudlow’s “State of the Union” interview. “Why?”

    “Well, look, if I can reinterpret that–I mean, he spoke to us, he didn’t exactly hear the question,” Kudlow responded. “Actually what he was intending to say is, he always has second thoughts and he actually had second thoughts about possibly a higher tariff response to China.”

    “So it was not to remove the tariff,” he added. “He was thinking about a higher tariff response.”

    During the G7 meeting in France on Sunday morning, Trump said he “might as well” have “second thoughts” about getting more aggressive with his trade war, which has resulted in a plummeting stock market.

    “I have second thoughts about everything,” he said.

    TPM link

    I don’t think you can clean up a Trump dump with muddy water. But Kudlow will try.

    From the readers comments:

    This is so stupid. This trade war is harmful, and – saints be praised! – that fact has somehow penetrated Trump’s thick skull, so his musing in public about second thoughts is Trump laying the groundwork to reverse course. (He has to build up to it, because his whole schtick is dominance and never apologizing or admitting defeat.)

    So here comes Larry fucking Kudlow, like a wrecking ball, because god forbid Trump finally reverse course on this colossally stupid policy.

    What do you get when you combine a suicide cult with a terrorist cell? The GOP.
    Trump is confusing “second thoughts” with “thought for a second” which is just beyond the maximum attention span and ability he posses.
    “During the G7 meeting in France on Sunday morning, Trump said he “might as well” have “second thoughts” about getting more aggressive with his trade war …” “I have second thoughts about everything,” he said.

    ‘might as well’ have second thoughts? “I have second thoughts about everything.”

    He did not have a first thought about that reply. It’s just a bullshit bunch of words not connected to the meaning of the question or to a reasoned answer. That’s how he ‘communicates.’ Nothing but bullshit.
    Larry Kudlow actually tried to convince CNN that Trump did not tweet those exact words, and then he tried to say that those words do not mean what they mean, and so on, and so on…
    My guess is that those enablers around him see that his wobbledegook can be interpreted as a sign of weakness, and that the world might see him being unsure of himself. They can’t have that! To be honest would acknowledge that everything he’s done in office is now subject to 2nd thoughts, which would therefore question the legitimacy of everything he’s done. Kudlow is doing his best to spin this to appear that he’s simply doubling down, and not questioning his own decisions. Never question the actions of the Chosen One.

  153. says

    There was a mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio. Some clueless people are still selling raffle tickets for an AR-15 rifle to raise money for school children’s programs in Ohio. Definitely a WTF moment.

    Elementary school students in New Richmond, Ohio are being asked to sell raffle tickets for an AR-15 optic ready rifle to raise money for a nonprofit’s Junior Lions Football and Cheer program. […]

    Oh—And New Richmond is just an hour away from Dayton, Ohio, where a white man shot 26 people in 32 seconds with an AR-15 style assault rifle.

    “This is absurd, you’re having elementary kids sell your AR-15. Why?” Heather Chilton, who said her seven-year-old daughter was asked to sell the tickets, told CNN affiliate WXIX. “I highly doubt that something would happen with the gun, but say it did. Say one of the kids in the high school got a hold of it — got the AR-15 or AM-15 and shot up a school with it, and I’m the one that sold the raffle ticket to his dad?”

    About 150 students participate in the New Richmond Lions Football and Cheer program, which is independent of the local schools. […]

    all cheer team members had to sell five gift basket raffle tickets as well as five AM-15 raffle tickets. The tickets are $10 each. If they didn’t do all of this, they’d face a $100 fee per child who opted out.

    The league’s president, Robert Wooten, told CNN that members of the board choose the raffle prize each year. The gun, which has been raffled off in the last four cycles, has been a popular fundraising item.

    “It’s easy to sell. It’s a hot item,” Wooten said. This year, Wooten noted, the gun raffle tickets “sold like hot cakes.” The winner will have to pass an FBI background check before receiving the gun. […]


  154. says

    Amy McGrath is not pulling her punches when it comes to fighting Mitch McConnell:

    Amy McGrath, a former Marine Corps fighter pilot who is now seeking the Democratic nomination to run for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky, released a blistering new ad taking aim at her potential general election opponent and current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for his failure to help the state’s coal miners.

    “We were coal miners with black lung disease going to see our Senator, Mitch McConnell, to try and save our disability benefits,” miner Jimmy Moore says in the video, which has already been viewed more than 2.5 million times. “Ten hours on a bus and we got to see him for all of one minute.” Moore added that McConnell had let the coal companies walk away from the miners. […]


    You can view the ad at the link, or on McGrath’s Twitter feed.

  155. says

    Some of Trump’s cronies at Mar-a-Lago tried to run the Department of Veterans Affairs from behind the scenes, until journalists caught them.. (You may remember that.) Now we have official confirmation of what we already suspected, Trump’s cronies were whackos spouting bullshit. They were also trying to score some big bucks by privatizing some government functions.

    Staffers at the Department of Veterans Affairs blasted policy recommendations from members of […] Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club as “ridiculous,” according to documents released by a Washington, D.C. governmental ethics watchdog.

    In more than 300 pages of emails obtained by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) through a Freedom of Information Act request, career VA officials expressed frustration about having to entertain suggestions from Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, attorney Marc Sherman and Palm Beach-area doctor Bruce Moskowitz.

    In one email, a senior department official tells staffers Sherman does not “understand the context of government nor does he understand the [app development] contract,” and that due to his presence, those involved in the process are “talking past each other.”

    Another email, responding to an official questioning how they should address “ridiculous” questions, advised the official, “They are coming from POTUS friend/doctor … Handle sensitively and with facts.” […]

    The three’s influence on the VA was already publicly known, with a 2018 Pro Publica investigation finding they lobbied for increased use of private-sector services within the VA.

    The three have denied they influenced policy beyond giving advice, telling Pro Publica, “While we were always willing to share our thoughts, we did not make or implement any type of policy, possess any authority over agency decisions, or direct government officials to take any actions.”

    However, emails obtained by CREW show widespread confusion at the VA about the three men’s level of authority.

    “He is a White House advisor. I don’t know much about him other than he is important,” one official says of Moskowitz in the emails. […]


  156. says

    Followup to comments 182 184.

    From Wonkette: “Trump Now Claiming He Is Not The Messiah After All.”

    Donald Trump is very upset at the Fake News Media for fake newsing the fake news that he has a messiah complex of some kind!

    He spent this morning lashing out at said Fake News Media, claiming that they were being very unfair to him by saying he thought he was Jesus, just because he made a joke about being “The Chosen One” at a press conference on Thursday. He was just telling jokes! He was being funny! People laughed! […]

    Of course, that particular incident was only the cherry on the Jesus cake, because the thing everyone has actually been referring to is the fact that early that morning, Trump thanked conspiracy theorist Wayne Allyn Root for saying that Jewish people in Israel love him like he is the King of Israel or the Second Coming of God. This was particularly awkward, given that the whole thing about Jewish people is that they do not believe there was a first coming. […]

    The fact that screamed that he was “The Chosen One” at a press conference just happened to dovetail perfectly with that tweet from earlier. Surely, he knows this and is really just hoping that everyone will forget about the whole “Second Coming” thing. I will not, if only because it led to “King of the Jews” trending, which led to me getting that song from Jesus Christ Superstar stuck in my head, along with the mental image of Trump singing it. [King Herod’s song – Jesus Christ Superstar!, video available at the link.]

    Does Donald Trump honestly think he could be the Second Coming of Jesus or the actual messiah or whatever? Nah. He just enjoys the idea that someone might think he is.

  157. says

    Will Bunch in the Philadelphia Inquirer – “Oilman David Koch set the world on fire, then died and left us to face the rising flames”:

    David Koch led a remarkable life in which he and his brother Charles…turned their right-wing oilman daddy’s fortune into untold billions. They made so much money that David could give some away to pet causes like the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) while electing the ultra-conservatives who wished to destroy it. But when he died Friday at age 79, David Koch had only lived to see the early stages of his greatest creation.

    The destruction of the planet.

    We’ll never know if Koch — who’d been reportedly ill these last few years and had retired from energy giant Koch Industries, one of the world’s largest private companies — was aware that his final days on an increasingly endangered planet Earth included the hottest recorded month since humans invented thermometers, Greenland’s biggest known ice melt, insane summer temperatures in Europe’s capitals, with the world enveloped in flames from Alaska to Siberia to finally, and most alarmingly, the Amazon rain forests of Brazil, the so-called “world’s lungs” now suffering from emphysema.

    We do know this, however: David Koch — like his entire generation of greedy oil and coal barons and all the shortsighted politicians who grabbed for their white envelopes of cash at gin-soaked fundraisers — almost certainly knew he would die before his three late-in-life kids, as well as my children and yours, would have to face the flooding, the rising seas, the droughts and all the mass migrations and violence that come with that, as well as a great extinction of species. Instead of using their billions to fix it, they purchased the gaslight of denial to convince the masses it wasn’t happening.

    Bolsonaro (64), Trump (73), Charles Koch (83) and the recently departed David Koch are part of the most cynical generational ploy in the history of civilization. If a majority of the world’s climate scientists are right and we’re fast running out of time to prevent the loss of biodiversity and the human hardships that will be triggered by fire, flood and drought, none of them will be alive to see what they’ve wrought. To them, the certainty of the massive profits from exploiting fossil fuels, or winning an election, was worth the accelerating risks, even to their own grandchildren.

    Already, the generation of those grandkids is desperately trying to save the world from the mess that the Koch brothers and their ilk have made. It’s teenagers and even “tweens” like Sweden’s Greta Thunberg and the Americans Alexandria Villaseñor and Isaac Harte who’ve taken the lead on organizing a badly needed global climate strike on September 20. They’ve joined with others in supporting the Green New Deal, a radical plan for ending carbon pollution that probably would have been less radical if the world had acted in 1991 instead of falling again and again for the lazy downhill politics of denial.

    Now, today’s young generation is trying to save a house that’s already on fire. I’d say that it’s fitting that David Koch shuffled off this moral coil in the exact same week that the Amazon finally caught on fire uncontrollably — but it’s more than just fitting. It seems this was the plan all along.

    More at the link.

  158. says

    Senior EU official:

    ‘Macron forceful in leaders-only G7:

    No return Russia UNTIL Ukraine is sorted.

    Being tactical, he did say: Let’s see at year’s end what comes of new Normandy summit with new UKR Pres.

    His sentiment is & remains same as it has been since he came to office’.”

    Great. But in addition to Crimea, there’s: almost constant interference in the Baltics; funding and directing rightwing pro-Russia parties and movements across Europe; the coup attempt in Montenegro; the “sweeping and systematic” interference in the 2016 US election and the continued sabotage since, and the lies about it; MH17 and the lies about it; the UK poisoning, resulting in the death of a British citizen, and the lies about it; the involvement with the Brexit campaign, and the lies about it; the misogynistic harassment of British journalists like Carole Cadwalladr; whatever this turns out to be; the attacks on and bullshit propaganda against LGBT people; the open hostility to democratic and liberal principles domestically and internationally; the cover-up of radioactive accidents;…

    The current regime in Russia is an obviously bad actor, and in addition neither a democracy nor a significant world economy. The plainly just outcome would be for ETTD to reach the conniving and kleptocratic Putin and bring him down, which is entirely possible.

  159. blf says

    SC@201, I showed that to the mildly deranged one, who pointed out there was insufficient cheese and the perspective was misleading — the penguin was trying to free the long pig, but the hairless ape seemed to think it all a joke.

  160. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin suggests that instead of dropping a nuclear weapon on a hurricane — a goofy idea which has been around for decades and keeps popping-up (Trump suggests nuking hurricanes to stop them hitting America) — we should simply threaten to drop hair furor on a hurricane. The mere threat will be sufficient, she insists, hurricanes and typhoons (T. cyclone) will leave the planet en masse; a nice refreshing dose of heat from a nuclear weapon would be nourishing, not so much furious hair spewing all over the place…

    Unfortunately, that would me we’re still stuck with hair furor and his dalekocrazy, and the enabling thugs and dummies.

  161. says

    The WH claimed Trump skipped the G-7 climate summit due to bilats with Merkel and Modi…who were at the summit…which was on his official schedule. Trump also claimed he’d received two phone calls from the regime in China asking to restart trade talks, which a regime representative is saying he knows nothing about. He said some G-7 leaders supported his drive to bring Russia back in, which was a lie. He claimed G-7 leaders are asking him “why does the American media hate your Country so much? Why are they rooting for it to fail?” – a preposterous falsehood.

    No journalists should repeat his or the WH’s claims in any form unless they’ve received independent confirmation. They lie constantly, about everything.

  162. says

    Glenn Greenwald:

    Three days later, it’s still shocking (even though it shouldn’t be) that Bolsonaro’s response to Macron’s criticisms about the Amazon was to mock the physical appearance of Macron’s wife by comparing her to Bolsonaro’s younger (third) wife. Macron replies:

    #UPDATE French President Emmanuel Macron condemns ‘extraordinarily rude’ comments made by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro about his wife Brigitte.

    Preceding and following that tweet about Macron were “#BREAKING Macron condemns Bolsonaro insults as ‘sad for Brazil’…Macron said Brazilians would ‘probably be ashamed’ after Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro endorsed an unflattering Facebook post about France’s first lady Brigitte Macron….”

    More about the fires at the link.

  163. says

    Futures down big overnight following trade war escalation & G7 events. President Trump then states Chinese called to ‘make a deal’. Futures soar. Only problem: both Chinese foreign ministry& editor of Global Times (China state mouthpiece) refute the story.”

    Pressed by reporters about his claim of a phone call last night by China to restart trade negotiations…the president said, ‘I don’t want to talk about calls. We’ve had calls. We’ve had calls at the highest levels’.”

  164. says

    New York – “Some Senate Democrats Value Susan Collins’s Friendship More Than Power”:

    Throughout the Trump presidency, the Democratic leadership has begged progressive activists to appreciate the limits of their party’s power, and the wisdom of its strategic judgment.

    And they may have been right….

    Still, strategic capitulation to injustice will always be a bitter pill. If a party’s leadership expects activists to accept such prescriptions, it must preempt the suspicion that its appeals to pragmatism are just fig leaves for ideological disagreement, personal spinelessness, or moral indifference. Which is to say: The party leadership must demonstrate a commitment to maximizing its share of power, and using that power to advance its self-professed ideological goals to the greatest extent possible.

    Alas, Senate Democrats have been demonstrating the very opposite. In fact, some members of Chuck Schumer’s caucus recently suggested that they are more invested in remaining friends with Susan Collins than in securing the opportunity to govern….

    …Dianne Feinstein represents one of the bluest states in the union. She is a senior member of the caucus with extensive clout and enviable committee assignments. She has no business being “conflicted” over next year’s Senate race in Maine, nor publicly vouching for Susan Collins’s credentials as “a good senator.”

    If Feinstein’s praise for her colleague sounds innocuous, consider what Maine’s favorite “moderate” has been up to over the past three years. Collins did not just vote for the Trump Tax Cuts — she assured the American people that the legislation would “actually lower the debt” because “economic growth produces more revenue.” This was an intellectually indefensible statement at the time Collins made it, and is even more ludicrous in hindsight (somehow, the fact that Collins deployed wildly mendacious economic claims to sell the public on a wildly unpopular proposal to slash taxes on corporations and the rich has not stopped the mainstream press from calling her “moderate” without quotation marks). Meanwhile, the Maine senator did not just vote to confirm a notorious racist as America’s top law-enforcement officer — she personally vouched for Jeff Sessions’s integrity at his confirmation hearing. And Collins has not merely undermined reproductive rights by caucusing with virulently anti-choice party, but has served as a rubber stamp for anti-choice judicial appointments, including (of course) Brett Kavanugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court.

    That Feinstein believes being a “good senator” is compatible with abetting the upward redistribution of wealth, the gutting of federal civil rights enforcement, and the rollback of reproductive autonomy betrays an almost nihilistic indifference to the stakes of partisan conflict. Ostensibly, in Feinstein’s view, Collins’s friendliness with her colleagues should count for more than the material consequences her voting record has had for the Democratic Party’s most vulnerable constituents.

    But even if Collins were a genuine moderate, Feinstein’s reluctance to call for her ouster would be inexcusable. To retake the Senate in 2021, Democrats will need a net gain of three seats next November. And while Republicans will have 22 of their incumbents on the ballot next year, only two of those represent states that have leaned Democratic in the past two presidential elections — Colorado and Maine. Given the steady decline in ticket-splitting, and Doug Jones’s long odds of fending off a Republican challenge in Alabama, Susan Collins’s reelection would all-but guarantee the survival of the GOP’s Senate majority — which is to say, it would give Mitch McConnell veto power over a hypothetical Democratic president’s legislative agenda and judicial appointments in 2021. The question before Feinstein is, thus: Do you care more about whether the U.S. government takes action on climate change (and/or, expands access to health insurance, and/or safeguards reproductive rights, etc…), or whether you retain the workplace friendship of your favorite Republican colleague?

    This question has the senator feeling “conflicted.”

    Feinstein is not representative of her caucus on this specific issue. But the value judgement behind her stance — the prioritization of senatorial collegiality over policy progress — informs Senate Democrats’ widespread resistance to abolishing the legislative filibuster (an institution that is both vile on the merits, and an unscalable obstacle to virtually every item on the progressive agenda).

    So long as the Democratic leadership refuses to subordinate bipartisan comity to the goals of building power and securing policy gains, progressive activists will not trust its sincerity when it implores them to subordinate ideological purity to those same objectives. Nor should they.

  165. says

    More details regarding exactly how Trump embarrassed himself and the USA:

    […] Trump gave an off-kilter monologue about wealth in response to a question about climate change on Monday, after he skipped a G7 meeting on the subject.

    During a press conference with French President Emanuel Macron, Trump was asked if he still harbored skepticism toward climate change.

    “I feel that the United States has tremendous wealth,” Trump replied. “The wealth is under its feet. I’ve made that wealth come alive.”

    “We will soon be one of the – we will soon be exporting, in fact we’re actually doing it now, exporting,” he continued, presumably referring to the country’s gas energy exports.

    Trump then bragged about the U.S. being the “number one energy producer in the world” and that he was “not going to lose that wealth.”

    “I’m not going to lose it on dreams, on windmills, which frankly aren’t working too well,” he said.

    The President babbled about wanting “clean air, clean water” but also “a spectacular country with jobs, with pensions, with so many things.”

    Trump, who’s claimed that climate change a “hoax,” ditched a meeting with G7 leaders earlier that day on tackling climate change. He was the only leader who was absent.

    Talking Points Memo link

  166. says

    The report noted @ #236 should, but won’t, put an end to the endless pundit refrain about how the problem is “hyperpartisanship” or “political tribalism.”

  167. says

    Yamiche Alcindor is a national treasure. She called Trump a liar to his face, and she did it sort of diplomatically:

    […] After Donald Trump blathered some nonsense about never, ever doing things for political reasons (really?), and claimed that he ran in one election (false) and won, and that he’s ahead of the 2020 field based on polls (wrong again), he said that Obama kicked Russia out of the G7 because he was “embarrassed” that Putin had taken Crimea on Obama’s watch.

    “President Obama was not happy that this happened because it was embarrassing to him, and he wanted Russia to be out of what was called the G8. He was outsmarted by Putin, he was outsmarted. President Putin outsmarted President Obama.”

    Unfortunately for Trump, Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for the PBS NewsHour, has a long-term memory, and she immediately called the pr*sident out on this oft-regurgitated statement.

    “Why do you [keep repeating] the misleading statement that Russia outsmarted President Obama when other countries have said that the reason why Russia was kicked out was very clearly because they annexed Crimea. Why keep repeating what some people would see as a clear lie?” […]


  168. says

    Axios – “Johnson & Johnson loses Oklahoma opioids lawsuit”:

    A judge in Oklahoma ruled today that Johnson & Johnson was responsible for fueling the state’s opioid epidemic and will have to pay $572 million in damages — far less than the $17 billion the state had demanded.

    Why it matters: This is a groundbreaking ruling and a potentially ominous harbinger for the opioid companies and distributors at the heart of the enormous national lawsuit pending before an Ohio judge.

  169. says

    Johnson and Johnson Was Just Found Guilty of Fueling the Opioid Epidemic In a Historic Trial

    This decision could pave the way for future pharma lawsuits.

    In a landmark verdict, an Oklahoma judge ruled Monday that Johnson and Johnson is guilty of fueling the state’s opioid epidemic. The case, the first of its kind to go to trial, is being closely watched to see if a court is prepared to hold a pharmaceutical company responsible for the devastating consequences of the overdose crisis.

    “The opioid crisis has ravaged the state Oklahoma,” said Oklahoma Judge Thad Balkman. “Defendants caused an opioid crisis that is evidenced by increased rates of addiction, overdose deaths, and neonatal abstinence syndrome.”

    Purdue Pharma and Teva Pharmaceuticals, also named in the Oklahoma suit, settled last spring for $270 million and $85 million respectively, leaving Johnson and Johnson and its pharmaceutical subsidiary, Janssen, to face charges that they created a “public nuisance.” Johnson and Johnson will pay a $571 million fine—more than its co-defendants, but far less than the $17 billion that the state originally requested to cover the costs of the crisis. […]

  170. says

    OMFG. Sarah Huckabee Sanders launched a new website. She is considering running for governor of Arkansas. Nope. Not going to link to that website.

  171. says

    New poll shows Biden falling badly, three-way tie for Democratic lead

    It’s just one poll, so don’t get too excited. This poll does, however, confirm the already established trends from other polls: Biden slipping, Elizabeth Warren slowly gaining ground.

    […] The survey showed Biden with support from 19 percent of Democratic and Democratic-leaning voters nationally, a double-digit decline from Monmouth’s most recent poll in June when he led the pack with 32 percent.

    Now, the dynamics have changed, according to the Monmouth survey. Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the primary field’s top progressive candidates, are each at 20 percent, putting them in a statistical tie with Biden and indicating a tightening three-way race.

    Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was a distant fourth in Monday’s poll, with 8 percent. Her level of support was unchanged from Monmouth’s June survey.

    South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who has registered among the top contenders in polls for months, is now tied for fifth place with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) at 4 percent.

    Only four other candidates — former tech executive Andrew Yang, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) and bestselling author Marianne Williamson — garnered support form more than 1 percent of respondents in the poll.[…]

  172. says

    Why do CNN and MSNBC think talking about and to Joe Walsh all day is a wise use of airtime? Do they believe their viewers want to hear more about, much less from, this horrible bigoted douche?

  173. says

    More details that show what a colossal embarrassment Trump is when he ventures onto the international stage:

    […] In one four-hour stretch on Sunday, Trump did nine consecutive reposts of tweets from the right-wing group Judicial Watch, in reverse chronological order, as if he were working his way through the feed to make himself feel better. The topics he shared included a conspiracy theory about Rep. Ilhan Omar’s personal life and various paranoid claims about the deep state, one of which featured a video involving, yes, Hillary Clinton’s emails.

    What about summit business? On the economic front, Trump told reporters that his aides had been in touch with representatives of the Chinese government about working out a trade deal after the market-assaulting Friday tweet meltdown in which he’d spontaneously announced new tariffs and demanded that U.S. companies stop doing business in the country. According to the Associated Press, the president specifically said that his trade negotiation team had conducted two “very good calls” with the Chinese on Sunday.

    China, however, had a different take: “JUST IN: China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang says has no info on phone calls to U.S. cited by Trump, adding later “I can tell you clearly that I haven’t heard of such a thing”

    So that’s going well. As for climate change, Trump not only missed the meeting but didn’t even know he had missed it. The Guardian: “Trump was later asked by reporters covering a meeting with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, whether he had attended the climate session. He replied: “We’re having it in a little while.” He did not appear to hear when a reporter told him it had just taken place.”

    On the ball. Good.

    Meanwhile, his Twitter feed testifies to what the president has been paying attention to in France. The Judicial Watch fixation was part of a Sunday/Monday spree—again, while he was supposed to be at a series of huge meetings—during which he posted or retweeted others’ posts 46 times. Some of these were pro forma PR messages that were probably put up by his staff, but others were vintage […]


  174. says

    After Trump claimed that First Lady Melania Trump has “gotten to know” Kim Jong Un, White House worker bees had to clarify that Melania and Kim Jong Un have never met.

  175. says

    From Jennifer Rubin:

    […] Trump has an animal instinct for finding an opponent’s vulnerability and then attacking it. His nicknames not only denote disrespect but also serve to keep his opponents’ weakness, or perceived weakness, front and center. It was “Low Energy Jeb,” “Little Marco” and “Crooked Hillary.” (By the way, as his own mental and emotional state has unraveled, he’s gotten less adept at coming up with these.)

    […] Democrats should not get down in the mud with Trump. […] However, they do want to name Trump’s greatest weakness and create an easy-to-remember message associated with the Democratic nominee. I humbly offer: “Stop the Craziness” (or “Stop the Crazy” or “End the Crazy,” if you want to fit it on a hat).

    After all, Trump’s most defining feature these days is a frightful, manic personality more detached from reality than ever before.

    On Sunday, newly announced candidate Joe Walsh described the phenomenon that most of us have observed but too few say out loud: “We’ve got a guy in the White House who’s unfit. Completely unfit to be president. … “Everybody believes — in the Republican Party, everybody believes that he’s unfit.” He continued, “The country is sick of this guy’s tantrum. He’s — he’s a child. Again, the litany — he lies every time he opens his mouth. Look at what’s happened this week. He is — the president of the United States is tweeting us into a recession. I can tell you … that most of my former colleagues up on the Hill, they agree privately with everything I’m saying.” He reiterated, “You can’t believe a word he says. And again, I don’t care your politics, that should concern you. He’s nuts. He’s erratic. He’s cruel. He stokes bigotry. He’s incompetent. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.” […]

    This is crucial: It’s one thing to be mean and corrupt. His defenders say lots of politicians are. It is quite another to say he’s so erratic, so unhinged, so crazy that he sends the economy into a tailspin and risks international conflict (or capitulation to enemies such as Kim Jong Un, who Trump — crazily — believes likes him). Tying Trump’s unfitness to dangers to the country and to voters’ personal safety and prosperity should be a key objective for the eventual nominee. Unlike in 2016, “Crazy Trump” doesn’t make a moral judgment. It’s a statement of fact, a highly inconvenient fact for his apologists. […]

  176. says

    Washington Post link

    “Trump’s presser confirms it: He has no idea why he’s losing the trade war.”

    “It’s the way I negotiate. It’s done very well for me over the years, and it’s doing even better for the country.”

    That was […] Trump, speaking at a Monday news conference at the Group of Seven summit in France. He was talking about the fact that in recent days he has vacillated back and forth between praising China and harshly criticizing it, all while claiming that the trade war he initiated is going great for the United States as evidence mounts that it is pushing us toward recession.

    The truth, however, is that there has seldom been clearer proof that Trump is in fact the world’s worst negotiator. And the price Americans are paying for his weakness keeps getting higher.

    While trade is one of only two policy issues (immigration is the other) that Trump has shown he has sincerely felt opinions about, he labors under a series of misconceptions, bred by ignorance […]

    At his news conference, Trump repeated multiple times that the trade war had cost China 3 million jobs. It’s unclear where he got that figure from, but even if it were true, it wouldn’t be much evidence that it is experiencing so much economic pain that it will inevitably cry uncle. In a country of 1.4 billion people, that represents about two-tenths of one percent of the population — a substantial number, but not enough to trigger a political crisis. And China’s unemployment rate, at least officially, is under 4 percent, about where ours is, which means those people would be able to find other work.

    But Trump is convinced that China is hurting more than we are. “I think they wanna make a deal, and I think they should make a deal, and I think if they don’t make a deal, it’s gonna be very bad for China,” he said at the news conference.

    That’s the second part of Trump’s argument: America’s economy is so spectacular that we can absorb more economic pain than the Chinese. “We’ve just got to accept the pain that comes with standing up to China,” said Trump toady Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) on CBS this Sunday. “How do you get China to change without creating some pain on them and us? I don’t know.” […]

    And the domestic manufacturers who were supposed to be helped by increased tariffs on Chinese goods aren’t benefiting, either. While some manufacturers are indeed leaving China to avoid the tariffs, instead of bringing those jobs to America, they’re sending them to low-wage countries such as Vietnam.

    That’s not even to mention the broader economic consequences that could affect all Americans if the trade war pushes us toward a recession.

    I’m reasonably certain that if anyone tried to explain to Trump the reasons China is in a better position than the United States to tolerate the continuation of this trade war, he’d get bored and stop paying attention. As he wrote in “The Art of the Deal,” “My style of deal-making is quite simple and straightforward. I aim very high, and then I just keep pushing and pushing and pushing to get what I’m after.” Understanding the other side is not part of his calculation. […]

  177. says

    “Federal Election Commission to effectively shut down. Now what?”:

    Federal Election Commission Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen announced his resignation today.

    This means the agency that enforces and regulates the nation’s campaign finance laws will effectively shut down — something that hasn’t happened since 2008 — because it won’t have the legal minimum of four commissioners to make high-level decisions.

    Petersen’s resignation, first reported by the Washington Examiner, will throw the FEC into turmoil for weeks — and perhaps months — as the nation enters the teeth of 2020 presidential and congressional elections.

    For now, the FEC can’t conduct meetings.

    It can’t slap political scofflaws with fines.

    It can’t make rules.

    It can’t conduct audits and approve them.

    It can’t vote on the outcome of investigations.

    And while staff will continue to post campaign finance reports and attend to day-to-day functions, the commission itself can’t offer official advice to politicians and political committees who seek it….

  178. says

    Guardian – update to #196 – “Brexit: shutting down parliament ‘gravest abuse of power in living memory'”:

    …[Shadow attorney general Shami] Chakrabarti’s legal advice, seen by the Guardian, argues any such move would be subject to legal challenge and the courts could intervene to make sure parliament sits while any dispute about prorogation is resolved.

    She also cited the Gina Miller case brought against the government to ensure MPs had to give permission for triggering article 50 as an example of where the courts have found parliament to be sovereign in relation to the EU referendum result.

    “The justices were clear that the referendum was in itself a creature of parliament and absent any specific legislative provision to the contrary, its result remains a political rather than a legally binding outcome and therefore subject to normal constitutional principles in the pursuit of its implementation,” she said.

    In conclusion, Chakrabarti said the courts would entertain an urgent application for judicial review if Johnson were to ask the Queen for a prorogation in September, and an injunction could possibly be granted to allow parliament to sit pending resolution of the dispute.

    “[The] Miller [case] itself contains the most recent and authoritative exposition of the constitutional principle of parliamentary sovereignty,” she said.

    “Whilst it is alarming that lawyers for either Her Majesty’s government or opposition should have even to consider such a scenario in our cherished mature democracy, it is equally heartening that we may rely on our courts to protect it.

    “I have no hesitation in advising that any such attempted administrative action by the government would constitute the gravest abuse of power and attack upon UK constitutional principle in living memory.”

    With a week to go before parliament returns from the summer break, MPs fighting against a no-deal Brexit are considering whether to pass a law against this possibility or hold a vote of no confidence in his administration.

    Corbyn is preparing to meet Westminster opposition leaders at his office in parliament on Tuesday, including Jo Swinson of the Liberal Democrats and Ian Blackford of the SNP, to discuss how they could work together to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.

    However, there are tactical divisions among the rebels. The Labour leader hopes to win a vote of no confidence and has offered to then lead a short-term caretaker government for the sole purpose of extending article 50 and calling a general election, in which Labour would argue for a referendum on a Brexit deal or remaining in the EU.

    But Swinson has warned Corbyn would be unlikely to command a majority in the House of Commons, and pointed to alternative candidates, including the veteran Tory MP and remainer Ken Clarke….

  179. says

    Well done, CNN. Totally makes sense to accompany your report on Trump’s absurdly corrupt idea of holding the next G-7 at his personal resort with a series of publicity photos provided by said resort.

  180. blf says

    John Crace is back snarking in the Grauniad, World leaders create their own realities at the G7 summit :

    On the whole it had been a rather agreeable bank holiday weekend in Biarritz. Some of the assembled world leaders might have been a bit meh and it was always disconcerting coming face to face with someone with an even greater personality disorder than your own but by and large everyone had rubbed along OK.


    ll good things must come to an end and Johnson was in a hurry to get back to the UK. There was just one problem: he was due to give a press conference and the podium was currently occupied by Donald Trump who had decided to close the G7 with an hour-long, free-association therapy session.

    Yes, the US president [sic] was very much looking forward to hosting next year’s summit at his Miami retreat because everyone would have their own bungalow and there was plenty of parking. Yes, he might invite Vladimir Putin but there again he might not. Yes, he couldn’t see what the problem with the Northern Ireland backstop was because the Republic of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom. He knew that because he had a golf course there. Not that he was obsessed about money and property, but being president had cost him $5bn and he was paid zippo for public speaking. And why didn’t people talk so much about Englandland these days? Boris? Great guy. He didn’t know why he hadn’t been made prime minister six years ago. Possibly because there hadn’t been a vacancy in 2013.

    Johnson’s irritation at having his plane held up on the runway gradually gave way to a sense of calm. The advantage of being the next guy up after someone who is certifiable is that almost anything he said would sound sane in comparison. Once Trump had finally been dragged off stage there was a 20-minute recovery period for reporters […]

  181. says

    Maddow’s opening segment last night – “Trump An Incoherent Spectacle At G7; W.H. Struggles To Clean Up”: “Rachel Maddow reviews a string of a string of instances from the G7 summit in which Donald Trump said something false, or self-contradictory, or simply absurd, making himself a global laughing stock, compromising the credibility of the United States on the world stage, and leaving the White House scrambling to offer corrections and clarifications.”

    (In my view, the best explanation for the “second thoughts” ridiculousness – aside from his attempting to answer a question he couldn’t hear because he didn’t want to admit he couldn’t hear it – is that he forgot what “second thoughts” means. I’m not saying that to be humorous – that’s how it appeared to me, and it’s serious.)

  182. says

    BREAKING: Brazilian government says it won’t accept the G7 Amazon aid money and that It should use it to reforest Europe instead, adding that Macron can’t even protect a foreseeable fire in a church.”

  183. says

    Matt Cameron:

    “I can’t go back,” my client told me as soon as he sat down at the table in ICE detention.

    “They will kill me.”

    I believed him.

    The judge agreed that they probably would kill him, just before he denied his asylum claim.

    He was deported.

    They did.

    I just found out today.

    I’ve been doing Central American asylum cases since 2006. I live in an immigrant neighborhood, and have personally met hundreds of asylum seekers. These stories, the fear, the danger–all real.

    Real enough to send these people to our borders even knowing how they’ll be treated.

    Imm. Judge Dana Marks calls asylum “death penalty defense in traffic court.” That’s too true. I’ve always thought of this as death penalty work. It keeps me going.

    I’m certain that other cases I couldn’t win for my clients have ended this way.

    I just never knew for sure.

    Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala produce some of the finest people I’ve ever met. I’ll never understand why they don’t hate us more for completely gutting their countries and then blaming them when they couldn’t pick up the pieces. Can you imagine Americans accepting that?

    The President of the United States, the head of USCIS, ICE, the Attorney General, Tucker Carlson–they’ll all tell you these people have been coached, that the stories aren’t real, that they’re just economic migrants.

    They can fuck all the way off. Into the sun. Forever.

    This admin is destroying many of the few protections left to Central American asylum seekers, then blaming them when they can’t win their cases w/the bad law we’re left with

    They know what they’re doing. They’re fine with it. If you voted for this & still support it, you are too.

    Just before they deported him, I got a call from ICE HQ in DC.

    They were checking in to ask if we needed help “reuniting the family.” I didn’t know what to say.

    “You’re not… letting him out?”

    “No. We’re ready to arrange transportation for his children to Honduras.”

    2019 American “family values”: politely offering to deport a man’s US citizen children to be killed along with him.

    Why are we accepting this? What the fuck are we?

    I’m the person in this story whose life will be least affected by this tragedy, but it’s been sitting with me. Thanks to everyone for reading and sharing, and for the kind words and support.

    I knew this news had to be coming, someday. I was never going to be ready for it.

    FYI media: I appreciate the interest and I know how important these stories are, but this family is not and will not be available–ever–and I’ve said as much as I’d ever have to say about this publicly here. Thank you for understanding.

    And to my incredible #immigrationlaw colleagues with me in the deportation defense trenches:

    Even if they didn’t end this badly I know we’re all haunted by some of the ones we couldn’t win, and that we can’t help but carry it. Don’t do it alone. We’re all here for each other.

    For everyone asking how someone truly in fear for their life could be denied asylum:

    Ask Jeff Sessions.

    He did his part with this very bad precedent (among others), issued specifically to try to ensure that our work would be that much harder and cases like mind would be denied

    I’m seeing a lot of people wanting to blame the judge, but you’re going to have to trust me that I don’t blame the court for this. I blame the law, and the executive branch we have entrusted to enforce it. Very little a judge could have done differently in this legal reality.

    Feels wrong to do this under the circumstances, but so long as I have your attention you should know that we have opened @GoldenStairsImm to take on these kinds of cases. There’s no appointed counsel in #immigrationcourt & most can’t afford private attys.

  184. says

    In law news:

    Politico – “House Judiciary Committee subpoenas ex-White House aide Rob Porter.”

    Also, “Today, the House Judiciary Committee filed a motion to expedite the ruling in the lawsuit to compel former White House Counsel Don McGahn to testify before the Committee as part of its impeachment investigation into obstruction, corruption and abuse of power by President Donald Trump and his associates.”

    And – Daily Beast:

    Deutsche Bank and Capital One have until Tuesday afternoon to tell a New York appellate court if they are in possession of President Trump’s tax returns, according court order issued Monday. If the two banks cannot answer the question by Tuesday at 4 p.m., they will have to explain why “in detail[.]” The order comes after lawyers for the banks repeatedly refused to tell the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week if they were in possession of the president’s tax returns, blaming their non-disclosure on “contractual and statutory obligations.”…

    Finally – NYT – “Prosecutors Near Decision on Whether to Seek an Andrew McCabe Indictment”:

    Federal prosecutors in Washington appear to be in the final stages of deciding whether to seek an indictment of Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director and a frequent target of President Trump, on charges of lying to federal agents, according to interviews with people familiar with recent developments in the investigation.

    In two meetings last week, Mr. McCabe’s lawyers met with the deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen, who is expected to be involved in the decision about whether to prosecute, and for more than an hour with the United States attorney for the District of Columbia, Jessie K. Liu, according to a person familiar with the meetings. The person would not detail the discussions, but defense lawyers typically meet with top law enforcement officials to try to persuade them not to indict their client if they failed to get line prosecutors to drop the case.

    An indictment of a former top F.B.I. official is extremely rare and would be the latest chapter in the saga of Mr. McCabe, who was fired last year over the issue now under criminal investigation — whether he failed to be forthcoming with internal investigators examining the F.B.I.’s dealings with the news media.

    An indictment would be certain to draw praise from Mr. Trump, who has made his attacks on Mr. McCabe a centerpiece of his yearslong campaign to discredit the Justice Department and the F.B.I. over the Russia investigation.

    But prosecutors may face headwinds if a case were to go to trial. One prosecutor quit the case and has expressed frustration with how it was being managed, according to person familiar with her departure, and a key witness provided testimony to the grand jury that could hurt the government’s case.

    Ms. Page told the grand jury that Mr. McCabe had no motive to lie because he was authorized as the deputy F.B.I. director to share the information with the newspaper. Her assertion could be damaging for prosecutors, who would have to prove that Mr. McCabe knowingly and intentionally lied to investigators. A lawyer for Ms. Page declined to comment.

    Mr. McCabe sued the F.B.I. and the Justice Department this month, saying that his dismissal was retaliatory and politically motivated. He accused Mr. Trump of “purposefully and intentionally” pushing the Justice Department to demote and terminate him as part of an “unconstitutional plan” to discredit and remove law enforcement officials who were “deemed to be his partisan opponents.”

    Mr. McCabe’s lawyers have also said that the inspector general’s report was “deeply flawed.”…

    The article includes some typical NYT spin I won’t quote. I remember reading the transcript of Lisa Page’s congressional interview, and she was very clear and credible when she said she thought this all amounted to a misunderstanding (between McCabe and Comey, IIRC) and that she would be happy to clear it up. It seems like not only would her testimony “hurt the government’s case,” she’d basically be a defense witness. And I think McCabe likely has a strong case in his lawsuit, and that whatever’s happening here, with two of the prosecutors suspiciously leaving, points to even more shenanigans.

  185. says

    Guardian – “Jeremy Corbyn agrees to prioritise legislation to stop no-deal Brexit”:

    Jeremy Corbyn has backed cross-party plans to delay a vote of no confidence in Boris Johnson and prioritise rebel MPs’ attempts to use legislation to stop a no-deal Brexit.

    In a meeting with opposition parties convened by the Labour leader, Corbyn is understood to have opened the discussion by reassuring MPs that Labour would not seek a premature vote of no confidence that might stymie legislative efforts to stop no deal.

    The meeting, attended by the Scottish National party’s Ian Blackford, Jo Swinson of the Liberal Democrats, the Green party’s Caroline Lucas and the Independent Group for Change’s Anna Soubry, agreed to focus efforts on passing legislation to stop a no-deal Brexit.

    Although Dominic Grieve, Oliver Letwin and Caroline Spelman, all prominent Conservatives opposed to Brexit, were invited to the meeting, no Tory MPs attended.

    MPs are planning on using the same tactics as they did earlier this year when rebels seized control of the order paper and passed a bill led by Yvette Cooper and Letwin that mandated an extension to article 50.

    Moves are also planned to force the publication of damaging no-deal preparation documents to win public backing for efforts to prevent a departure without an agreement, as well as other parliamentary manoeuvres to try to block any proposed prorogation of parliament.

    Parties also discussed opposing holding the regular parliamentary recess over the party conference period in late September, though a Labour source said nothing had been agreed.

    Lucas said there was agreement that “the legislative way forward is the most secure way to try to extend article 50 to get rid of that 31 October deadline towards which the prime minister is careering with ever greater recklessness”.

  186. says

    From today’s Guardian British-politics liveblog:

    Boris Johnson was described as a threat to the very nature of British democracy at a cross party meeting of MPs who signed a pledge to an alternative parliament in the event of the prime minister shutting down parliament to make a no deal Brexit happen.

    In a highly symbolic gathering in Church House, where MPs met during the second world war, Labour’s John McDonnell took to the stage alongside the former Conservative MP, Anna Soubry, as well as the Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson and the Caroline Lucas of the Green Party.

    Each one signed the ‘Church House Declaration,’ which declared that shutting down parliament would be “an undemocratic outrage at such a crucial moment for our country, and a historic constitutional crisis.”

    It added: “Any attempt to prevent Parliament sitting, to force through a no deal Brexit, will be met by strong and widespread democratic resistance.”

    The shadow chancellor, who said that Jeremy Corbyn had been trapped in meetings, told those assembled: “Prime Ministers come and Prime Ministers go but I don’t think we have seen a Prime Minister like this who has had the potential to threaten the vary nature of our democracy.”

    I want to warn him that we will not and let that happen, said McDonnell, who added that MPs will use “whatever mechanism necessary” to thwart Johnson.

    More than 160 MPs from a range of parties were said by organisors to have signed the declaration.

    Ian Blackford, the leader of the SNP in the House of Commons, said that the government posed a threat to the security of citizens, while the Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “We will block what is nothing less than a coup.”

    Swinson said that members of parliament had come together to make the point that they would not stand by while the government sent the country into a “catastrophic no deal Brexit.”

    While Conservative MPs were conspicuous by their absence from the event, there was a highly symbolic moment when the former Tory MP and minister addressed the even standing on stage while McDonnell sat beside her.

    She said that she hoped that when the history books were written they would record their determination and courage and show that there were those who acted while others stood by and did nothing.

    “You all know who the people of courage are and those who have failed to exercise it. They will stop you in the corridors and say: ‘of course this is absolute madness’ but they will not go an ddo the right thing, which is to be true to their principles.”

  187. says

    G liveblog:

    Labour’s John McDonnell has responded to the announcement that the first major speech by the new chancellor Sajid Javid has been cancelled less than 24 hours before it was due to take place.

    Sajid Javid is getting a record of announcing events and initiatives, and then within hours cancelling or reversing them.

    This doesn’t inspire confidence. Panic seems to be setting in inside government.

  188. says

    Carole Cadwalladr re #254:

    Shutting down parliament would “be illegal” & “open to immediate challenge in the courts”. Please read my lips: Johnson & Cummings do not care. THEY WILL BREAK THE LAW TO WIN. And deal with consequences* later. They did it before. They will do it again

    *There have been no consequences.

    Now put @shahmirUK on BBC and let him tell you why & how. As he has NEVER done. Ask @BorisJohnson about electoral fraud. As no journalist ever has. Demand Cummings goes back before parliament & answers qs. As he has refused to do

  189. says

    Harvard Crimson – “Incoming Harvard Freshman Deported After Visa Revoked”:

    While most Harvard freshmen settle into their dorms Tuesday, one new student, Ismail B. Ajjawi ’23, faces ongoing negotiations with immigration officers to allow him to enter the United States and study at the College.

    U.S. officials deported Ajjawi, a 17-year-old Palestinian resident of Tyre, Lebanon, Friday night shortly after he arrived at Boston Logan International Airport. Before canceling Ajjawi’s visa, immigration officers subjected him to hours of questioning — at one point leaving to search his phone and computer — according to a written statement by Ajjawi.

    University officials are currently working to resolve the matter before classes begin on Sept. 3, University spokesperson Jonathan L. Swain wrote in an email.

    Ajjawi wrote that he has also contacted AMIDEAST, the non-profit organization that awarded him a scholarship to study in the U.S., which is now providing him legal assistance.

    A State Department official declined to comment specifically on Ajjawi’s case as visa records are confidential under U.S. law. U. S. Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Michael S. McCarthy wrote in an emailed statement that CBP found Ajjawi “inadmissible” to the country.

    Ajjawi wrote that he spent eight hours in Boston before he was required to leave. Upon arrival, Ajjawi faced questioning from immigration officials along with several other international students. While the other students were allowed to leave, Ajjawi alleges an immigration officer continued to question him about his religion and religious practices in Lebanon.

    The same officer then asked him to unlock his phone and laptop, and left to search them for roughly five hours, Ajjawi alleges. After the search, the officer questioned him about his friends’ social media activity.

    “When I asked every time to have my phone back so I could tell them about the situation, the officer refused and told me to sit back in [my] position and not move at all,” he wrote. “After the 5 hours ended, she called me into a room , and she started screaming at me. She said that she found people posting political points of view that oppose the US on my friend[s] list.”

    Ajjawi wrote that he told the officer he had not made any political posts and that he should not be held responsible for others’ posts.

    “I responded that I have no business with such posts and that I didn’t like, [s]hare or comment on them and told her that I shouldn’t be held responsible for what others post,” he wrote. “I have no single post on my timeline discussing politics.”

    The officer then canceled Ajjawi’s visa, informed him he would be deported, and allowed him a phone call to his parents.

    Ajjawi, who has since returned home to Lebanon, wrote that he is in touch with a lawyer and hopes to resolve his visa issues so he can arrive this week before classes start next Tuesday.

    17-year-old Harvard student.

  190. says

    G liveblog: “The Conservative party has tweeted accusing opposition politicians of ‘plotting to cancel the votes of 17.4 million people’. Change UK leader, Anna Soubry, who was a Tory MP until February this year, said the message was yet more proof that ‘right wing ideologues’ had taken over her old party.”

    Image of the tweet at the link (@ #266 above). 17.4 million people did not vote for a no-deal Brexit, and what they did vote for was and is based on lies and cheating.

  191. redwood says

    @275, she’s been too busy getting to know Kim Jung-un. Anyway, anything Turnip doesn’t want to talk about, he just punts down the road for “a couple of weeks.” The short attention span of the media will take care of the rest.

  192. says

    Benjamin Witter in Lawfare (as usual, I don’t agree with all of the piece):

    …There are some substantially mitigating factors in McCabe’s case, even assuming that the facts are every bit as bad as the inspector general alleges. For one thing, the events took place during a chaotic time at the bureau when the FBI was handling politically explosive investigations involving both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Even if one doesn’t believe, as McCabe contends, that he was merely confused when he made the false statements, the intense pressure of the situation is mitigating. Moreover, McCabe did correct the record following his misstatements to the inspector general; a few days after the interview in question, he called up investigators and said he had been reflecting on his statement and believed he had erred.

    There’s another problem with prosecuting McCabe. Justice Department policy dictates that prosecutors should bring a case only if they believe not only that the person is guilty of an offense but that “the admissible evidence will probably be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction.” Goldman’s story makes clear that the case here faces some significant evidentiary problems. The main one is named Lisa Page:…

    It is, of course, possible that there is evidence that is not public yet. But rereading the inspector general report this morning and thinking about McCabe’s likely defense (that he was confused under the intense pressure of the circumstances), Page’s likely testimony, and the mitigating factors he will surely present, I find it hard to imagine a probability of conviction. To prosecute a case under these circumstances, in fact, seems so bizarre that you have to at least entertain the possibility that the explanation for the decision lies in something other than the merits of the case against the man.

    You don’t have to look far for that explanation. Trump has been on a long-term and very public campaign of attacks on McCabe. It hasn’t been subtle. Just look here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here or here.

    Only a month ago, even as the Justice Department was actively contemplating bringing charges, Trump tweeted, “Why didn’t Robert Mueller & his band of 18 Angry Democrats spend any time investigating Crooked Hillary Clinton, Lyin’ & Leakin’ James Comey, Lisa Page and her Psycho lover, Peter S, Andy McCabe, the beautiful Ohr family, Fusion GPS, and many more, including HIMSELF & Andrew W?” One can only imagine what the nonpublic communications with the Justice Department might look like with respect to McCabe.

    There’s another reason to fear that the McCabe case has been tainted by gross political pressure: The assistant U.S. attorneys who are working the case keep dropping off of it….

    I’ve watched the Justice Department for a long time. I am not quick to allege that a prosecution is political. I believe in a presumption of regularity with respect to Justice Department activity. If an indictment proceeds against McCabe, as I suspect it will, I will both presume his innocence and presume that the prosecutors who put their names on the document have a good faith basis for doing so, that they believe they can prove their case before a jury in the District of Columbia beyond a reasonable doubt. I’ll wait to form a final judgment until I see the voluminous discovery I expect McCabe will seek on White House pressure on the Justice Department. And I will wait to see the evidence presented at trial.

    But I would be lying if I said that, as I look at it now, it all seems on the level to me. I worry that what’s happening here is simple corruption of the Department of Justice in precisely the fashion I have been worrying about since before Donald Trump was even elected….

  193. says

    Lindsay Wise, WSJ:

    Something odd is happening in Kansas, where a former GOP governor just called on the GOP state treasurer to run against incumbent US Rep. Steve Watkins, a freshman Republican…Rumors have been circulating that Watkins might resign amid a mysterious whisper campaign but he denies

    “The citizens of the 2nd Congressional District are solid, conservative folks who deserve to be represented by a Republican that shares their values,” said former GOP Gov. Jeff Colyer, who called on Treasurer Jake LaTurner to drop from the KS Senate race to run against Watkins

    There was some mention of this in the thread @ #261.

  194. says

    Update to the link @ #221 – BBC – “Berlin Chechen shooting: Russian assassination suspected”:

    A Chechen exile shot dead in a Berlin park had fought against Russian troops and may have been assassinated by a Russian agent.

    German police arrested a 49-year-old Russian man soon after the shooting on Friday, and found the suspected pistol and bike used in the attack.

    The victim was Zelimkhan Khangoshvili and he had long been a target.
    What happened?

    Witnesses quoted in German media said the killer approached Khangoshvili, aged 40, from behind on a bicycle and shot him twice in the head, then sped off.

    The attack took place in the Kleiner Tiergarten park in Moabit, central Berlin, just before midday on 23 August.

    Police were quickly on the scene and arrested the suspected killer, who had been spotted dumping the bike, pistol and other evidence into the nearby River Spree.

    The gun, a Glock 26, was used with a silencer. Police divers recovered the gun and bike, the Berlin state prosecutor’s office tweeted.

    The suspect, named only as Vadim S, reportedly had a large sum of cash in his flat, searched by investigators. He has been formally accused of “treacherous killing”.

    Vadim S travelled to Berlin from Moscow via Paris a few days before the attack, and had a return ticket to Moscow, German media report.

    Suspicions fall on Russia partly because of previous high-profile attacks on dissidents abroad. The most notorious in the UK were the poisonings of Russian ex-state security officers Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 and Sergei Skripal in 2018….

    More at the link.

  195. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 280

    That was piss-poor tradecraft. Is Putin taking lowest bidder contracts for assassins?

  196. says

    Related stories:

    Daily Beast – “Right-Wing Star Andy Ngo Exits Quillette After Damning Video Surfaces”:

    The conservative op-ed website Quillette announced Monday night that controversial right-wing writer Andy Ngo is leaving his job as an editor at the site, an announcement that comes on the same day that a Portland newspaper published a story revealing that Ngo witnessed a far-right group planning violence but never reported it.

    Ngo, a photographer who was until recently a sub-editor at Quillette, became a celebrity on Fox News and other pro-Trump media outlets after he was attacked by left-wing demonstrators at a Portland political rally in June. Ngo then became prominent as an opponent of political violence, with most of his criticism aimed at the left.

    But footage taken by an undercover liberal activist in May and described on Monday by the Portland Mercury showed Ngo witnessing activists from the far-right group Patriot Prayer planning a violent confrontation at a bar associated with left-wing activists. Ngo never reported on what he had seen the Patriot Prayer members planning, and some of the people involved in the attack at the bar now face felony riot charges.

    Hours after the Portland Mercury story ran on Monday, Ngo removed his Quillette job from his Twitter profile. Shortly after that, Ngo’s name disappeared from the masthead at Quillette, a self-described “platform for free thought” that has become a hub for the right-wing Intellectual Dark Web movement.

    Ngo didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    Quillette editor-in-chief Claire Lehmann insisted in emails to The Daily Beast that Ngo’s exit had nothing to do with the Portland Mercury story or the undercover footage that began to circulate on Twitter last week, saying instead that Ngo left the site weeks earlier but that the move was only made public on Monday.

    “Andy actually moved on from Quillette a few weeks ago because he is undertaking bigger & better projects, we just hadn’t updated the website and he hadn’t updated his Twitter bio until today,” Lehmann wrote….


    RWW – “YouTube Shutters Several White Nationalist Accounts”:

    YouTube has terminated a handful of prominent YouTube channels that featured content promoting white nationalism. The move came as a shock to the white nationalist community, and now racist content creators are panicking.

    Yesterday, Right Wing Watch learned that a small group of prominent far-right channels were no longer available on YouTube after white nationalist James Allsup—once one of the loudest voices peddling white supremacy on YouTube—was reported to have been permanently suspended.

    Four of the recently banned channels were identified by the Anti-Defamation League earlier in August as notable examples of platforms that were spreading anti-Semitism and white supremacist ideology and rhetoric on YouTube despite the social media site’s crackdown on hate speech in June.

    “As ADL documented, following YouTube’s June 2019 announcement of changes to their platform to reduce extremist content, significant anti-Semitic and white supremacist material continues to be accessible on the platform,” an ADL spokesperson told Right Wing Watch. “With the wave of bans yesterday, it appears YouTube is beginning to step up their efforts to clean up the site.”

    “It’s a start that we hope they will continue in the days, weeks and months ahead,” the spokesperson added. “We will continue to work with tech companies, like YouTube, to aggressively counter hate and anti-Semitism on their platforms.”…

    The deleted channels are discussed at the link.

  197. says

    NBC – “Trump admin pulling millions from FEMA disaster relief to send to southern border”:

    The Trump administration is pulling $271 million in funding from the Department of Homeland Security, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Disaster Relief Fund, to pay for immigration detention space and temporary hearing locations for asylum-seekers who have been forced to wait in Mexico, according to department officials and a letter sent to the agency by a California congresswoman.

    To fund temporary locations for court hearings for asylum-seekers along the southern border, ICE would gain $155 million, all from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund, according to the letter from Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., which was seen by NBC News.

    The allocations were sent to Congress as a notification rather than a request, because the administration believes it has the authority to repurpose these funds after Congress did not pass more funding for ICE detention beds as part of an emergency funding bill for the southwest border in June.

    Specifically, the Department of Homeland Security will lose $116 million previously allocated for Coast Guard operations, aviation security and other components in order to fund nearly 6,800 more beds for immigrant detainees, the officials said.

    “We would not say this is with no risk but we would say that we worked it in a way to…minimize the risk. This was a must pay bill that needed to be addressed,” said a DHS official, who noted that the funds would begin transfer immediately to fund ICE through Sept. 30.

    Combined with existing space, the funding would allow ICE to detain nearly 50,000 immigrants at one time….

    We’re in the middle of hurricane season. There’s literally a storm (Dorian) headed toward the US right now. Trump tweeted about it heading in the vicinity of Puerto Rico earlier, but evidently no one bothered to give him the forecast beyond that: although these storms are very difficult to predict, the models have it rolling over the Bahamas and gaining strength in those hot waters and headed straight for southern Florida. Cruelty First.

  198. says

    As I was saying earlier this month…Eric Boehlert at Daily Kos – “Trump’s White House is running a media access con game—and winning”:

    The White House is perpetrating a scam on the Beltway press corps, bragging about how much access Donald Trump gives reporters. The whole thing is a ruse, though, and unfortunately, it’s another example of how key institutions of American journalism are lying down in the face of Trump’s bullying, not even mustering a fight on behalf of transparency or in the name of maintaining their watchdog status for voters.

    Having dismantled White House daily briefings, a longtime hallmark of media access at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Trump team now has the gall to boast about how much face time reporters get with the president. Press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who has never given a briefing since being hired this summer and likely never will, bragged recently that Trump is “so accessible” that she doesn’t “know what any of the press could complain about.” She contemptuously told Politico that “President Trump communicates directly with the American people more than any President in history. The fact that the White House press corps can no longer grandstand on TV is of no concern to us.”

    The media’s supposed overflowing access to Trump comes from the useless sessions that regularly take place on the White House lawn, as a scrum of reporters shout questions at Trump as he prepares to board the Marine One helicopter.

    According to research compiled by Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the White House Transition Project at Towson University, Trump surpasses his predecessors in holding these short Q&A sessions with reporters….

    What’s wrong with the outdoor shoutfests that Trump prefers? He’s answering questions from reporters, so that’s a good thing, right? Wrong. The controlled chaos, where reporters yell simplistic questions, allows Trump to pick and choose reporters at random, and to simply ignore questions he doesn’t like. He’s also immune from follow-up queries and is free once again to lie indiscriminately, without being held accountable.

    “From a practical standpoint, the question-and-answer sessions represent something of a free-for-all where President Trump is the ringmaster,” noted Kumar in her findings. “While other presidents have held these sessions, they have done so more as a way of responding to reporters between the more formal press conferences than as a substitute for them.”

    The sessions “are terrible for reporters,” one White House reporter recently conceded to Politico. “It is impossible to hear, have a substantive dialogue, ask a follow-up question or do any serious pressing of the president. It is a fucking circus.” And that’s exactly how Trump likes it. He grants “access” to the media completely on his terms, and often uses the sessions to bash reporters.

    And because the sessions are strangely covered as breaking news, the Trump lies are instantly boosted by the press, without providing proper context for them. Media Matters found that “the press is particularly vulnerable to Trump’s gaggle falsehoods, often amplifying his inaccurate claims without correction in cable news chyrons and social media postings.” In fact, “roughly a third of the chyrons the networks appended to those gaggles referenced a false or misleading Trump statement — and … 95% of those chyrons did not dispute his misinformation,” Media Matters’ Matt Gertz noted.

    This accelerated strategy to choke off press briefings is part of a historic, incremental effort by the Trump administration to lock out the press—and, by extension, the public—from the government’s official duties and business.

    Of course, the backdrop for all the phony access talk from the White House is the fact that the Trump team has eliminated daily briefings for the press corps, thereby unplugging the daily give-and-take reporters for decades had enjoyed with the White House press secretary. It was during those sessions, which had been televised for past 20 years, that journalists were allowed to pry at length into administration policy. But all of that evaporated under Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and news outlets never put up a fight.

    Rather than take a definitive, collective stand and demand access and accountability, news organizations opted for tentativeness, which allowed the White House to erase the briefings in slow motion—to make their absence the new normal. At this point, the fact that the briefings no longer really exist doesn’t matter much, since they have been completely useless for a very long time.

    By the way, all of this was telegraphed at the outset of the administration. “Routine media access to the White House could be a thing of the past under Donald Trump’s presidency,” PBS reported in January 2017. And that’s exactly what happened. Yet, more than two years later, the largest news outlets in this country appear flat-footed and unsure of how to respond to the unprecedented Trump White House campaign to choke off all meaningful access.

    Not only has the NYT passively gone along,…well, see #284 above.

  199. says

    Reuters – “Exclusive: Falwell steered Liberty University land deal benefiting his personal trainer”:

    Evangelical leader and prominent Donald Trump backer Jerry Falwell Jr personally approved real estate transactions by his nonprofit Christian university that helped his personal fitness trainer obtain valuable university property, according to real estate records, internal university emails and interviews.

    Around 2011, Falwell, president of Liberty University in Virginia, and his wife, Rebecca, began personal fitness training sessions with Benjamin Crosswhite, then a 23-year-old recent Liberty graduate. Now, after a series of university real estate transactions signed by Falwell, Crosswhite owns a sprawling 18-acre racquet sports and fitness facility on former Liberty property. Last year, a local bank approved a line of credit allowing Crosswhite’s business to borrow as much as $2 million against the property.

    Falwell, one of the most influential right-wing Christian leaders in the United States, has been buffeted by disclosures about his private dealings over the last year and a half.

    The support Falwell provided to the two young men, Granda and Crosswhite, has some parallels. Both were aided in business ventures and both have flown on the nonprofit university’s corporate jet.

    One difference: When Falwell helped Crosswhite, he used the assets of Liberty, the tax-exempt university he has led since 2008. Among the largest Christian universities in the world, Liberty depends on hundreds of millions of dollars its students receive in federally backed student loans and Pell grants.

    In 2016, Falwell signed a real estate deal transferring the sports facility, complete with tennis courts and a fitness center owned by Liberty, to Crosswhite. Under the terms, Crosswhite wasn’t required to put any of his own money down toward the purchase price, a confidential sales contract obtained by Reuters shows.

    Liberty “agrees to finance the purchase” at a 3% interest rate, the contract says. To help Crosswhite in the transaction, Liberty was lending Falwell’s fitness trainer more than half a million dollars to buy its property. The university would receive no cash up front from the sale, the contract shows.

    In 2017, after Liberty had sold the facility to Crosswhite, some university representatives voiced concern about whether the indoor tennis courts and roof over them were receiving needed maintenance, as the sales contract required, internal emails show. Falwell wasn’t included in the email chain.

    Liberty’s general counsel, David Corry, responded that the school should remind Crosswhite of his maintenance obligations, according to the email exchange, which was reviewed by Reuters. But Corry, referring to Liberty University by its initials, added a note of caution: “Ben Crosswhite enjoys a close working relationship with several LU administrators, including the President.” Anyone communicating with Crosswhite should do so “with knowledge ahead of time that it may be second guessed,” Corry wrote.

    In 2017, Liberty provided Crosswhite with another $75,000 line of credit to conduct maintenance and repairs, the university said in its statement.

    In an email sent earlier this month, Corry, citing a Reuters reporter’s “persistent” attempts to reach former board members and the Falwells, reminded the former trustees they had signed confidentiality agreements. He told them they were required “forever” to keep secret what they knew about the university.

    Crosswhite’s acquisition of the sports facility appears to continue benefiting him. Last year, according to a Lynchburg Circuit Court filing, the trainer’s business obtained a $2.05 million credit line from a local bank against its interest in the facility. Liberty said the credit line amount was linked to the property’s future value after Crosswhite builds a swimming pool there.

    On April 23, 2018, the day after the $2.05 million bank financing, Liberty University filed paperwork saying the $576,000 note Crosswhite owed for the property had been paid in full.

    More at the link. Everything about them is so shady.

  200. says

    Susan Hennessey:

    We, as a country, have not faced these issues before because all prior US presidents have divested from their personal businesses (even LBJ had the decency to fake it.)

    And that’s setting aside the fact that this very hotel is the subject of ongoing litigation in which the Department of Justice is a party.

  201. says

    This move by Obama reminds me of Stacey Abrams’ focus on voting rights.

    Former President Barack Obama put his name on yet another redistricting reform effort ahead of the 2021 map-drawing cycle.

    Obama on Monday announced “Redistricting U,” an education campaign being led by the group All On the Line. All On the Line’s parent organization is affiliated with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, the Eric Holder-led effort that Obama has also endorsed.

    “For Redistricting U, All On The Line is sending dedicated trainers to cities across the country to train volunteers, give them the skills and tools they need to impact the redistricting process, empower them as leaders in the movement for fair maps, and hear their ideas about approaches that will work best in their communities,” Obama said in a fundraising email announcing the new campaign. […]

    The first wave of trainings — in-person, half-day sessions — will take place this fall in roughly two dozen locations […]

    The campaign is one of several new initiatives that redistricting reform advocates have launched ahead of the next round of map-drawing, which will occur after the 2020 census. Republicans dominated the last round of redistricting and in several states, like North Carolina and Wisconsin, locked in maps that gave them overwhelming majorities in the legislatures even as the statewide vote was much closer.

    […] the National Democratic Redistricting Committee says it’s supporting candidates who have pledged to make map-drawing fairer.

    Republicans meanwhile have put up their own group, the Scott Walker-led National Republican Redistricting Trust, that has sought to block reform efforts and protect GOP-tilted maps.

    Walker issued a statement Tuesday calling Redistricting U a “sham.” […]

    TPM link

  202. says

    Trump and rats:

    Donald Trump’s racist attack on Baltimore as “rat and rodent infested” just got even better as an encapsulation of Trump’s vicious governing style.

    The Baltimore Sun reports, “In March, the White House proposed eliminating the Community Development Block Grant, which is the primary funding source for Baltimore’s public housing rat-elimination program among several other housing programs across the city and country.”

    Yep. Trump’s administration tried to slash rat-elimination funding and then he attacked the city as rat-infested because one of its members of Congress dared to investigate him. And that member of Congress, Rep. Elijah Cummings, was a leader in the push to keep the Community Development Block Grant (which does more than just deal with rats, by the way).

    Baltimore’s rat program is massively successful, with 311 calls about rats dropping by 35% in the last couple of years, while nearby Washington, D.C., has seen a 47% increase.


  203. says

    Trump repeats relief funding lie as Tropical Storm Dorian approaches Puerto Rico

    Trump claims $92 billion has been distributed to Puerto Rico. It’s only been a fraction of that.

    […] Trump is already trying to avoid responsibility for providing relief aid to Puerto Rico for a storm that hasn’t even impacted the island yet. In a tweet Tuesday, Trump repeated a lie that the island territory has already received far more aid than it actually had, and seemed to blame Puerto Rico for its own fate.

    “Will it ever end?” Trump wrote, seemingly speaking more about the relief costs than the catastrophic weather. “Congress approved 92 Billion Dollars for Puerto Rico last year, an all time record of its kind for ‘anywhere’.”

    WTF does he mean when he says “Will it ever end?” Will weather events ever end? No. Will Puerto Rico ever be out of the hurricane zone? No. Who will rid Trump of the terrible problem of Puerto Rico?

    Trump can repeat “92 Billion Dollars,” complete with inappropriate capitalization, from now until he dies. It will still be a lie. Lying bigly.

    Earlier this year, Trump claimed that Puerto Rico had received $91 billion, so he seems to have inflated the number by a billion. But his claim that Puerto Rico had already received that much money, or that it had otherwise been spent — as insinuated again by his tweet Tuesday — is demonstrably false. The federal government’s own records tell a very different story.

    It’s true that Congress has allocated a large sum of money, but that was still only around $42 billion — $50 billion short of Trump’s latest number.

    So far, federal agencies are committed (“obligated”) to spending about $20 billion of that, meaning that half of the funds haven’t even been touched. Even that figure only speaks to how much of the money has been budgeted. Since Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico two years ago, only about $13 billion has actually been spent repairing the island. This represents a seventh of Trump’s claim. […]

  204. says

    Oh, FFS. It looks like Trump is adding the Federal Reserve to his long list of “Deep State” enemies.

    […] Trump on Tuesday blamed the Federal Reserve for a recent slowdown in manufacturing, a key sector he promised to revive as a candidate.

    “The Federal Reserve loves watching our manufacturers struggle with their exports to the benefit of other parts of the world,” he tweeted. “Our Fed has been calling it wrong for too long!”

    The manufacturing sector’s output has shrunk for two consecutive quarters, meeting the widely accepted definition of a recession. It has been among the hardest-hit sectors from Trump’s escalating trade war with China.

    […] Manufacturing plays an outsize roll in key states such as Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan, which helped hand Trump the White House when they flipped in the 2016 election.

    Last week, Trump said he would increase tariffs on Chinese imports from 25 percent to 30 percent, and raise the rates on new tariffs scheduled to go into effect in September and December from 10 percent to 15 percent.

    The move followed China’s announcement that it would retaliate with its own tariffs on $75 billion of American goods, such as cars and agriculture. […]


  205. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 285.

    From Wonkette:

    […] After several days of demented ranting in France for the G7 meeting, Trump invited the whole gang back to his place next year for another fun week of pretending no one smells that baby made a big stinky. What a coincidence that an entirely unbiased team of Trump staffers would evaluate all the possible venues and select Trump’s own Doral club in Miami to host next year’s G7 gathering! Just goes to show you what a hater that Obama guy was for never choosing a Trump property to host any previous government event.

    Sure, revenues at Doral are down 65 percent since 2015, and members who quit are facing a delay of 80 years to get their deposits back as new members replace them (or don’t). But Donald Trump isn’t trying to goose the bottom line at his underperforming asset, perish the thought! He’s doing it for you ungrateful wretches. […]

    Trump is extremely good at making an embarrassing story go away. All he does is jab his thumb stumps into his Obamaphone and call it “Fake News,” and everyone stops talking about it immediately. It’s like magic!

    “No bedbugs at Doral. The Radical Left Democrats, upon hearing that the perfectly located (for the next G-7) Doral National MIAMI was under consideration for the next G-7, spread that false and nasty rumor. Not nice!”

    Yep, that story about bloodsucking parasites at the Trump Doral resort is deader than a bedbug after you empty a can of Lysol in a bedroom. […] Nobody at all is talking about the 2016 lawsuit filed by New Jersey insurance executive Eric Linder alleging that he woke up with dozens of bedbug bites after spending the night in the Jack Nicklaus villa at Trump Doral. […]

    […] as Trump tweets about bedbugs: “Court records show [Trump’s] attorneys in Miami have reached a tentative settlement with a business traveler who sued the resort after his back, face and arms were devoured by voracious bed bugs.” [Twitter link, with photo

    […] you know this whole kerfuffle will blow over now that Donald Trump has HEREBY ORDERED everyone to quit talking about it. Just like he made it go away when he reached a confidential settlement with Mr. Linder five minutes after the inauguration. It’s like it never even happened! […]

    For every bedbug welt, you get a free snack from the minibar. Just contact the hotel concierge to redeem before checkout. ALLEGEDLY. […]

  206. says

    Alaska is not far enough away. Trump can still reach it … and he will do damage there.

    [….] Trump has instructed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to exempt Alaska’s 16.7 million-acre Tongass National Forest from logging restrictions imposed nearly 20 years ago, according to three people briefed on the issue, after privately discussing the matter with the state’s governor aboard Air Force One.

    That’s the same Republican governor who destroyed the University of Alaska by cutting funding by 40%. That’s the same Republican governor who is trying to delete dental care for disabled Alaskan citizens.

    The move would affect more than half of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforest, opening it up to potential logging, energy and mining projects. It would undercut a sweeping Clinton administration policy known as the “roadless rule” that has survived a decades-long legal assault.

    Great timing, Trump administration, especially considering that Amazon rainforest is now on fire.

    Trump has taken a personal interest in “forest management,” a term he told a group of lawmakers last year he has “redefined” since taking office.

    Politicians have tussled for years over the fate of the Tongass, a massive stretch of southeastern Alaska replete with old-growth spruce, hemlock and cedar, rivers running with salmon, and dramatic fjords. Bill Clinton put more than half of it off limits to logging just days before leaving office in 2001, when he barred the construction of roads in 58.5 million acres of undeveloped national forest across the country. [….]

    In 2016, the agency finalized a plan to phase out old-growth logging in the Tongass within a decade. Congress has designated more than 5.7 million acres of the forest as wilderness, which must remain undeveloped under any circumstances. If Trump’s plan succeeds, it could affect 9.5 million acres. […]

    John Schoen, a retired wildlife ecologist who worked in the Tongass for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, co-authored a 2013 research paper finding that roughly half of the forest’s large old-growth trees had been logged last century. The remaining big trees provide critical habitat for brown bears, Sitka black-tailed deer, a bird of prey called the Northern Goshawk and other species, he added. […]

    About 40 percent of wild salmon that make their way down the West Coast spawn in the Tongass: The Forest Service estimates that the salmon industry generates $986 million annually. Returning salmon bring nutrients with them that sustain forest growth, while intact stands of trees keep streams cool and trap sediment. […]

    “They need to keep the trees standing in order to keep the fish in the creeks,” Wood said. […]

    Washington Post link

    More at the link.

  207. tomh says

    Amylhowe.com (Scotusblog)
    Government seeks to enforce asylum rule (UPDATED)

    The battle over immigration through the southern border of the United States came to the Supreme Court today. The federal government asked the justices for permission to enforce a new rule that would bar most migrants from seeking asylum in this country if they pass through another country before arriving in the United States.

    The case began last month, after the government enacted an interim rule that, Attorney General William Barr explained, was intended to reduce the “burdens associated with apprehending and processing hundreds of thousands of” immigrants along the U.S.-Mexico border. At the same time, Barr stressed, the interim rule carves out a variety of exceptions – for example, for victims of human trafficking and for refugees who traveled through countries where protection was not available – to ensure that immigrants who legitimately fear torture or persecution at home will not be sent back.

    Four groups that provide services to immigrants and refugees went to court in California to challenge the rule. U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar blocked the government from enforcing the interim rule anywhere in the United States, reasoning that the rule “is likely invalid because it is inconsistent with the existing asylum laws.” For example, Tigar noted, Congress has already “created a bar to asylum for an applicant who may be removed to a ‘safe third country.’”

    The government then went to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, asking the court of appeals to allow it to enforce the interim rule while it appeals. The government fared slightly better in the 9th Circuit, which continued to bar the government from enforcing the interim rule in the geographic area covered by the 9th Circuit – which includes California and Arizona – but allowed the government to implement the rule in the rest of the country. The court of appeals also left open the possibility, however, that the district court could consider more evidence to support a nationwide ban on enforcing the rule.

    In a filing this afternoon by U.S. Solicitor General Noel Francisco, the government urged the justices to allow it to enforce the new interim rule nationwide while it appeals to the 9th Circuit and, if necessary, the Supreme Court. If the court of appeals upholds Tigar’s ruling, the government contended, it is likely that the Supreme Court will grant review: The interim rule “serves important national purposes,” such as protecting “the integrity of our borders,” the government emphasized, and “is part of a coordinated and ongoing diplomatic effort regarding the recent surge in migration.”

    Moreover, the government continued, if the court grants review, there is at least a “fair prospect” (another requirement for relief) that the justices will reverse the 9th Circuit’s ruling. Not only do the groups lack a legal right to challenge the interim rule, the government suggested, but – contrary to the 9th Circuit’s reasoning – the government is not required to provide notice of the proposed rule and an opportunity for public comments, because doing so would disrupt negotiations with neighboring countries about migration.

    Finally, putting everything else aside, the government concluded, the four groups challenging the rule are at most entitled to have the government prohibited from enforcing the rule as to their own clients, rather than a broader nationwide or even circuitwide ban.

    The government’s request went to Justice Elena Kagan, who handles emergency requests from the 9th Circuit. Although Kagan could rule on the request herself, she is more likely to refer it to the full court. Kagan has first called for the groups to submit a response to the government’s filing, due September 4 at 3:00p.m. ET.

  208. says

    Quoted in Lynna’s #302: “Trump has taken a personal interest in ‘forest management’, a term he told a group of lawmakers last year he has ‘redefined’ since taking office.”

    Will someone please give this fool a decorating project? He has terrible taste, but it can all be ripped out later. Isn’t there more to do on Air Force One? The 2020 Republican National Convention? Bury him in fabric swatches, for the love of country and planet.

  209. says

    “Boris Johnson asks Queen to suspend parliament”:

    Boris Johnson has confirmed he has asked the Queen for permission to suspend parliament for five weeks from early September.

    The prime minister claimed MPs would have “ample time” to debate Brexit, as he wrote to MPs on Wednesday, saying he had spoken to the Queen and asked her to suspend parliament from “the second sitting week in September”.

    MPs will then return to Westminster on 14 October, when he said there would be a new Queen’s speech, setting out what he called a “bold and ambitious domestic legislative agenda for the renewal of our country after Brexit”.

    The effect of the decision will be to curtail dramatically the time MPs have to introduce legislation or other measures aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit. Parliament is expected to sit for little more than a week from 3 September.

    But asked if he was denying opposition MPs the time to stop a no-deal Brexit, the prime minister told Sky News: “No, that is completely untrue. We are bringing forward a new legislative programme on crime, hospitals, making sure we have the education funding we need.”

    In the letter to colleagues, Johnson said MPs would be able to debate his approach to the EU negotiations before the European council on 17 October, at which any new deal would have to be agreed by the EU27 – and to vote on it afterwards….

    Here’s today’s British-politics liveblog.

  210. says

    No.10 threatening an election [police car revolving light emojis]

    ‘If MPs pass a no confidence vote next week then we won’t resign. We won’t recommend another government, we’ll dissolve parliament, call an election between November 1-5 and there’ll be zero chance of Grieve legislation’, says senior official.”

  211. says

    Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “So it seems that Boris Johnson may actually be about to shut down Parliament to force through a no deal Brexit. Unless MPs come together to stop him next week, today will go down in history as a dark one indeed for UK democracy.”

    From the G liveblog:

    The Speaker, John Bercow, has issued an extraordinary statement. “I have had no contact from the government, but if the reports that it is seeking to prorogue parliament are confirmed, this move represents a constitutional outrage,” he says.

    The SNP MP Joanna Che[r]ry has confirmed that she has spoken to her legal team about speeding up the action in the Scottish courts to stop Boris Johnson shutting down parliament, which was due to be heard of 6 September.

    Ian Murray, another of the cross-party group of more than 70 MPs and peers, said they would consider seeking an interim interdict (similar to an injunction in England and Wales) in the court of session to block prorogation.

    Led by Jolyon Maugham QC’s Good Law Project, the group had been seeking a ruling from the court of session to prevent the prime minister going to the Queen with a request for prorogation until all appeals were exhausted.

    Cherry told reporters on Tuesday the team were prepared to get a judge “out of their bed in the middle of the night” to block prorogation.

    Meanwhile, the SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, has described Johnson as a “dictator”, saying: “The Tory leader has no mandate, no majority, and is acting like a dictator by attempting to curtail parliament to get his way.

    “The SNP will do everything we can to stop Brexit and prevent a no-deal disaster. It is vital that MPs from across the parties urgently pull together to stop Boris Johnson driving Scotland and the UK off a cliff edge.”

  212. says

    Maddow’s opening segment last night: “Deutsche Bank in crisis could spell catastrophe for Trump.”

    Lawrence O’Donnell: “A source close to Deutsche Bank says Trump’s tax returns show he pays very little income tax and, more importantly, that his loans have Russian co-signers.

    If true, that explains every kind word Trump has ever said about Russia and Putin.”

    He dropped this with Maddow during their transition last night. He described the alleged cosigners as “Russian oligarchs” and “Russian billionaires close to Putin.” He was very careful to point out repeatedly that this was based on a single source and to emphasize the “If true,…”

  213. KG says

    I’ve only just logged in to the news, I haven’t yet seen any public figure call Johnson’s move what in reality it is – a coup attempt. Given the elasticity of the patchwork of law and practice we laughably call our constitution, and the gaps in recent legislation (the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011), Johnson may be able to get away with this without flagrantly breaking the law. But the attempt to refuse Parliament the power to hold to account a government without a majority in the Commons at a time of crisis is, as Speaker John Brecow is reported as saying, “a constitutional outrage”.

    There will be legal attempts to halt the prorogation. Here is one in Scotland, but I’d be astonished if there’s not at least one more, involving the indefatigable Gina Miller. For UK residents and British citizens, there’s a petition against the planned prorogation. But Johnson should bear in mind that if opposition cannot be expressed in Parliament, it must and will be taken to the streets.

    Of course it should in any case take place there – but prorogation will force politicians who want to affect events or be noticed to link up with grassroots movements and across party lines.

  214. KG says

    Apologies for the link confusion @312. there are 3 links, with the second on the single word “Here”. It goes to the Grauniad live blog, the case is reported at 11:09.

  215. KG says

    At 12:18 on the Graun liveblog:

    …the mayor of the North of Tyne, Jamie Driscoll, called for a march on Downing Street. He said:

    People voted to give Britain Parliamentary sovereignty. By a small margin we voted to leave the EU, and the likes of Johnson and Farage were talking about Norway or Swiss style arrangements.

    Now we are seeing this farce – this dangerous destruction of our democracy. Boris Johnson’s attempt to derail democracy by proroguing Parliament has all the trappings of a coup. People need to march on Downing Street. Our parents and grandparents did not fight dictators to see it happen here.

    Never heard of him before, but well said and well done, Jamie Driscoll.

  216. says

    Nothing says popular sovereignty like an unelected prime minister proroguing parliament to jam through an extreme policy almost no one voted for.

    At or linked to from the G liveblog:

    “Political commentator Paul mason has called on people to gather in central London tonight to protest against the government’s planned suspension of parliament.” Mason: “Tonight I’m going to stand outside Parliament with this message: democracy is beautiful but easily broken. To defend Parliament against the @BorisJohnson coup we need a peaceful but determined protest movement. King George V statue, 17:30 tonight.”

    “NEW – understand Jeremy Corbyn has written to the Queen, expressing concern about Boris Johnson’s announcement that he’s proroguing parliament, and requesting a meeting with her.”

    Labour MP Clive Lewis:

    “If Boris shuts down Parliament to carry out his No-Deal Brexit, I and other MPs will defend democracy.

    The police will have to remove us from the chamber. We will call on people to take to the streets.

    We will call an extraordinary session of Parliament. #PeoplesParliament”

  217. says

    New WaPo: ‘He also has told worried subordinates that he will pardon them of any potential wrongdoing should they have to break laws to get the barriers built quickly’.”

    Chris Hayes: “This is, I think, pretty unambiguously a high crime/misdemeanor.”

    southpaw: “Not impeaching a president who abuses the pardon power like this amounts to Congress allowing its lawmaking powers to be subordinated to the Executive’s will.”

  218. says

    Radar presentation and hurricane hunter data certainly point to a developing #Dorian this morning. Radar shows circulation center closing off and inner core developing.”

    The storm will be over the Virgin Islands and PR within hours. After that, it goes over a lot of open, very warm water and is likely to strengthen into a Cat 2 or possibly 3 hurricane. Most models have it slamming into the east coast of Florida or possibly just north. A couple have it turning out to sea, which would be great.

  219. says

    AJ – “How will the Joint List fare in Israel’s snap election?”:

    Less than six months since Israelis went to the polls, September 17 will see a fresh national election after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to secure a governing coalition last time around.

    For Israel’s myriad political parties, the unusual rerun represents an opportunity to correct strategic errors made during the April vote.

    Those hoping to benefit include parliamentarians representing Israel’s Palestinian citizens. Before April’s vote, an electoral alliance of four smaller Palestinian parties had split into two competing pair-ups, leading to a weaker-than-expected showing in the polls as the Hadash-Taal alliance picked up six seats, while the United Arab List-Balad bloc won four.

    But legislators from all four parties have reformed the Joint List alliance ahead of next month’s polls in a bid to boost voter turnout in the Palestinian community and secure more seats in the Knesset.

    When the same parties combined on a single slate for the 2015 election, the alliance secured 13 seats, making it the third biggest bloc in the Knesset at the time.

    But analysts and voters are sceptical as to whether the newly-reconstituted Joint List will repeat the success of 2015.

    Opinion polls have offered divergent assessments of how things may pan out in the September 17 vote.

    September’s election is defying predictions across the political map. Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and opposition parties, including the main centrist Blue and White party led by Benny Gantz, face a complex route to forming a viable coalition government.

    Given how finely balanced the election appears, with Likud and Blue and White polling neck and neck, a scenario could emerge in which the Joint List plays a role in Netanyahu’s removal.

    “The debate among the Arab parties is how they expect to achieve the removal of Netanyahu with so little political power … and to what extent they are willing to support opposition Jewish parties like Blue and White in forming a coalition government,” said Iraqi.

    “The latter question is particularly contentious to answer as the Israeli centre-left increasingly adopts the hostile policies and rhetoric of the right,” he added.

    The parties representing Palestinian citizens have never been a part of any government in Israel, although, in the 1990s, some lent their support to Yitzhak Rabin’s coalition without formally joining.

    While it remains an outside possibility that the Joint List would play a role in the formation of a new government – let alone be invited to do so – its main focus will be on getting the vote out.

    In April, voter turnout among Palestinian citizens dropped below 50 percent, with many boycotting the election, and others casting their votes for Meretz, a left-of-centre Zionist party. In 2015, the Palestinian voter turnout was 63 percent, a sharp decline from its zenith in 1999 of 75 percent.

    Following the low turnout and poor showing for the two, separate lists in April, two conclusions were drawn, Buttu told Al Jazeera:

    “First, that Palestinian political parties would need to unite to regain voter confidence, and second, that they would need to show both the outcome of their work while distinguishing themselves from the Zionist parties such as Meretz,” she said.

    For some voters, the Joint List has done enough to win their support. Narmeen, 30, from Kafr Kanna, told Al Jazeera she believes that the Joint List “can successfully represent all of our diverse community, and also attract those who are not really affiliated to any particular party”.

  220. says

    @SecPompeo announces the opening of a ‘Venezuela Affairs Unit’ at the US Embassy in Bogota. It will be led by #Venezuela Charge d’Affaires Jimmy Story.

    @StateDept pulled its remaining diplomatic personnel from Caracas in March, citing the ‘deteriorating situation in Venezuela’.”

    Base of operations for the next attempted rightwing coup.

  221. says

    Re #325 – Isakson has Parkinson’s. GA’s scuzzball governor Brian Kemp will evidently get to choose a replacement for the remainder of Isakson’s term, which doesn’t end until 2022.

  222. says

    I think #327 was wrong. If I’m understanding this, Kemp appoints someone to Isakson’s seat at the end of the year, but then people vote on a replacement in the 2020 elections; however, the person elected only stays through the end of Isakson’s term (2022), unless they’re reelected. So Isakson’s seat would be up next year.

    Stacy Abrams and Sally Yates are both Georgians.

  223. says

    “Planned protests against the prorogation of parliament are springing up around the country.

    Campaign group Another Europe is Possible is planning a demo on College Green in Westminster at 5.30pm.

    The Leeds for Europe group is planning a protest in the city’s City Square for Thursday evening at 5.30pm.

    And people will start to gather in Manchester’s Albert Square (with umbrellas, Hong Kong style) from 4pm onwards this evening.

    The European Movement in Scotland is to host a walking vigil, meeting at 4pm at the foot of the Mound in Edinburgh.

    In Cardiff people will gather tonight at the Aneurin Bevan statue 6pm, and the same will happen at Market Square in Cambridge.”

  224. says

    NEW: The statement from a @SecretService agent which @PressSec said she was relying upon in her decision to suspend @BrianKarem’s White House hard pass does not exist, attorneys from @TheJusticeDepartment now say.”

    Filing at the link. Lies, lies, lies.

  225. says

    In the last few frames, intense thunderstorms are developing around #Dorian’s eyewall, a sign of a potential phase of rapid intensification —just as the storm is moving through the USVI.

    Reporters: The USVI is a part of America. This is a (soon-to-be) hurricane, hitting America.”

  226. says

    Trump tweeted: “Would be very hard for Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, to seek a no-confidence vote against New Prime Minister Boris Johnson, especially in light of the fact that Boris is exactly what the U.K. has been looking for, & will prove to be “a great one!” Love U.K.”

    Corbyn tweeted: “I think what the US president is saying, is that Boris Johnson is exactly what he has been looking for, a compliant Prime Minister who will hand Britain’s public services and protections over to US corporations in a free trade deal.”

  227. says

    PSA from the G:

    Protests continue to be organised in towns and cities around the country. Here are the details of some:

    Parliament Square. From 5pm

    Victoria Square. 5.30pm

    St George’s Plateau. 5.30pm

    Milton Keynes
    Station. 6pm

    Town Hall. 7pm

    Albert Square. From 4pm

    The Mound. From 4pm (moving to Holyrood at 4.30pm)

    Market Square. From 6pm

    Aneurin Bevan Statue
    From 6pm

    Marketplace. From 6pm

    College Green. 5.30pm

  228. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 318.

    By offering pardons to his administration staff that break the law in order to get his damn WALL built, Trump is showing us what he is like, what he will do, when he is desperate.

    From Nicole Lafond:

    […] Trump has promised supporters his administration would construct at least 500 miles of border wall fencing before the 2020 election, but so far the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has only fixed about 60 miles worth of barriers that were already there to begin with.

    According to people involved in discussions who spoke to the Post, Trump has been aggressively pushing for completion of the 500 miles before November 2020 and has regularly held meetings at the White House to discuss the progress. During meetings, Trump has told aides not to worry about breaking the law in order to finalize contracts or using eminent domain to seize property for the structure.

    “Take the land,” he’s reportedly told officials, promising to pardon anyone who has to skirt the law in order to speed things up. […]

    Trump has also harped on the color and appearance of the barriers being built during meetings — he wants them painted black with pointy spikes on top — and bragged in one meeting about how loud people cheer for the wall at his rallies.

    NBC News reported Tuesday that the Trump administration plans to divert at least $155 million from the FEMA disaster relief fund to help pay for the wall. Trump’s also using a large chunk of the Pentagon’s budget to complete the project, after Congress refused to give him $5 billion for wall construction.


    Several people are now claiming that Trump was “joking” about the pardons. We know what his “jokes” are like. He means it, but he claims to be joking while he takes the time to see if he can get away with this latest affront.

    From the readers comments:

    He knows he can’t pardon someone convicted of a state crime, right?
    It almost like the wall is more of a political point than actual realistic policy.
    The Trump regime is officially an open criminal enterprise. They don’t even pretend to hide it anymore.
    Yeah, take away land from Texans without due process. That should go over bigly in 2020.
    Let’s remember that Desperate Lawless Trump’s own Mendacious Coverup General Barr said that dangling pardons could be a crime!

  229. says

    Update – “Italy’s Democratic party ready to form government with M5S, leader says”:

    The head of Italy’s opposition Democratic party (PD), Nicola Zingaretti, said he has told the head of state his group is ready to try to form a government with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).

    Nicola Zingaretti has been in fraught discussions with the M5S, a longstanding rival of the PD, in an attempt to form a strong government after the collapse of the M5S’s alliance with the far-right League.

    Zingaretti said his party supported the attempt to carve out a new majority while stressing the need to build a “turning point” government that breaks from the past.

    “We need a government that convinces Italians that economic difficulties can be overcome,” he said after meeting the president, Sergio Mattarella, on Wednesday.

    He added that the PD also accepted “the proposal of M5S to indicate the prime minister”.

    Zingaretti did not explicitly name who the prime minister would be but his party said earlier on Wednesday that it had accepted demands from M5S to reinstate the outgoing prime minister, Giuseppe Conte.

    Zingaretti and Luigi Di Maio, the M5S leader, have been under pressure to strike a deal in an attempt to avert elections that could create western Europe’s first fully far-right government, despite their personal reservations and resistance from factions within their parties.

    Mattarella, who has the power to dissolve parliament and call new elections, is holding a consultation with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia.

    He will meet the League’s Matteo Salvini at 6pm CET and Di Maio at 7pm.

    If he gives a mandate for a new government to be formed, the parties will probably be given a few more days to formalise a plan.

  230. says

    Assaulting migrants … predictable result of Trump’s rhetoric and policies:

    For the second time this month, a Border Patrol agent has pleaded guilty to assaulting a migrant while on duty. Under a plea agreement, Jason Andrew McGilvray has agreed to resign from Customs and Border Protection, will undergo one year of unsupervised probation, and will be banned from further work in federal law enforcement due to the assault.

    According to court documents, the agent “willfully struck” his victim, “B.S.S,” when he was taken into custody after crossing the border without authorization this past February. McGilvray committed the assault “with the intent to deprive B.S.S. of his constitutional right against reasonable force during search and seizure,” the documents continue.

    Immigrant rights advocates are rightfully calling the plea deal “barely even a slap on the wrist,” though it does rid an agency that has only become more out of control of one more violent agent who shouldn’t have been in the job in the first place. It was just two weeks ago that another agent, Matthew Bowen, pleaded guilty to hitting a migrant with his truck, and then lying about it to investigators. Bowen, like McGilvray, also accepted a plea deal.

    There are too few convictions of violent agents, considering that the government has had to pay some $60 million over a decade to settle legal claims against Border Patrol, including for deadly incidents. Richard Bolen of the Border Patrol Victims Network said McGilvray deserved, at minimum, a felony charge. “In my opinion, what they’re doing is really encouraging more of the same type of behavior.” […]


  231. says

    In addition to taking about $155 million from FEMA in order to give it to ICE for work related to the southern border, the Trump administration has hampered preparations for hurricane season by hobbling FEMA in other ways. FEMA was in bad shape already.

    […] During a hearing this June, acting FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor admitted that the agency was “short a few thousand employees” with Atlantic hurricane season already underway. Long, the agency’s former head, told E&E in a recent interview that the agency “is dying a death by 1,000 cuts” as it struggles to overcome staffing and budget challenges, as well as a lack of direction. […]

    Think Progress link

  232. says

    G liveblog:

    A growing crowd of around 75 protestors have gathered in Manchester’s Albert Square. Many are armed with umbrellas, some in solidarity with Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protest, some to protect against the rain.

    One of the organisers is Emma, a 26 year old immigration consultant. “I’m here because I’m angry and shocked that our democracy could be ripped out from underneath us while we‘re asleep at the wheel.” She says that she and her friend Noora have previously said they should be doing something, so said they “we don’t care if anyone else shows up, we’re heading down to Manchester town centre. We tweeted about it and everyone got on board”.

    Noora, 27, a stand up comedian said they were inspired by the umbrella movement of Hong Kong.

    “We’re here to protest against the downgrading of democracy that is happening in the UK at the moment… I feel like we should make some kind of a stand. It might seem minor but you’re showing that it can’t continue like this.

    They are joined by Rory and Margaret, retired lecturers in their seventies. Rory said “It’s the most flagrant attack on democracy that I can remember. It’s bad enough that [Boris Johnson] was elected leader by a handful of people but what was this taking back control all about? And sovereignty of parliament? Parliament has has just been overruled. I think it’s an absolute outrage”.

    Tallulah, 17, said she thought what was going on was “absolutely ridiculous”. “The facade of a democracy is being ripped apart. William, 18, agreed with her. “It’s absurd. I thought it was a joke the first time I saw it the article about the Queen. But unfortunately, it’s not satire. And here we are.”

    I love that they were inspired by the people in Hong Kong, and that they’re chanting “Stop the coup!”

  233. says

    Yes, I am beginning to think that Joe Biden is too old to run a good primary race for the presidential nomination. It’s not age exactly, it’s how you age.

    Campaigning in New Hampshire over the weekend, […] Joe Biden talked himself into another news cycle about his gaffes. He confused the first primary state for neighboring Vermont. Then he forgot where he had spoken on Dartmouth College’s campus just hours before.

    I saw that moment where Biden confused Vermont with New Hampshire, and it made me cringe.

    About Datmouth:

    “I want to be clear, I’m not going nuts,” he told reporters, according to the Los Angeles Times. “I’m not sure whether it was the medical school or where the hell I spoke. But it was on the campus.”

    That’s not good enough.

    […] it’s true that the grind of the campaign trail, which puts candidates on a tireless schedule between states and time zones with little downtime, can be brutal for anyone.

    But Biden’s off-the-cuff, rough-around-the-edges brand is being seen through a new lens in this presidential primary for the Democratic nomination: his age. […]

    Biden’s campaign chalks it up to a press hungry for a juicy headline. […] That said, his campaign is acknowledging the narrative; the campaign tweeted a video in which an Iowa voter told Biden that his “fiery” speech quelled any initial concerns she had about his age.

    Biden, at 76, isn’t the oldest candidate in the current field (that distinction goes to Bernie Sanders, who will be 79 by Election Day 2020) — but voters are increasingly questioning how old is too old to be president. […]

    It’s certainly possible for an exceptional 76 year old person to run for president, and to be a good president. I just don’t think Biden is that exceptional. Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders are all in their 70s. Sanders also strikes me as sort of calcified in his approach. Warren seems to be open to learning new things and that, along with her very thorough approach to presenting detailed solutions to problems, convinces me that she is competent. Of the three 70+-year-olds, Biden is the worst.

    […] There was the time he waxed nostalgic about working with segregationist senators during his early days in the Senate, which California Sen. Kamala Harris weaponized against him in the first Democratic debate — one of the few times he saw a dip in the polls.

    Biden has repeatedly referred to former British Prime Minister Theresa May as the late Margaret Thatcher. He said he met with school shooting survivors from Parkland, Florida, as vice president, though the shooting happened in 2018, well after Biden left office. After the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Biden appeared to mix up those locations, before he caught himself.

    Gaffes have always been part of Biden’s public image […] The big difference now is that Biden is the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for president, with each misspeak front and center.

    […] recent polls have shown the primary looking increasingly like a three-way race between him, Sanders, and Warren, who have their own electability hurdles. Sanders is also getting questions about age; during a recent swing through New Hampshire, one voter directly asked him about the fact that he’s nearing 80 years, and about his health.

    As voters continue to prioritize “electability” — or the ability to beat Trump — each slip-up is getting scrutinized heavily.

    “He’s making more unforced errors than Sanders has,” said University of New Hampshire pollster Andy Smith of Biden. “If Biden’s message is ‘I’m electable,’ you have to be able to demonstrate that. He’s given supporters cause to be concerned and given opponents an opportunity to go after him.” […]


    I’m still willing to change my mind as I watch the campaign, and as we evaluate the upcoming 3rd debate.

  234. says

    BREAKING: The Welsh Assembly is being recalled from summer recess, will sit on Thursday, September 5.”

    Also, the Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson is resigning, largely due to opposition to what Johnson is doing (also related to parental responsibilities, it appears): “The first openly lesbian party leader anywhere in the UK, Davidson gave birth to her first child, conceived with her partner, Jen, following IVF treatment, last October. A state-educated woman with a working-class background in a party overwhelmingly controlled by privately schooled men, she has delivered previously unthinkable electoral success for the Scottish Tories at both Holyrood and Westminster.”

  235. KG says

    I’m just back from a small demo outside the Scottish Parliament. Apparently there were 150-200 people there earlier – the MSPs are not sitting and it was arranged at the last moment, but there need to be much, muhc bigger protests over the next few days, and Nicola Sturgeon needs to follow the example of the recall of the Welsh Assembly.

    Resist the coup! Resist the Johnson-Cummings junta!

  236. says

    From Wonkette: “Appeals Court Says Minnesota Camera Bigots Don’t Have To Shoot Gay Weddings, STRAIGHTS ONLY!”

    Carl and Angel Larsen of St. Cloud, Minnesota, don’t like gay people, and they REALLY don’t like gay weddings. In fact, they hate gay weddings so much they sued to be exempted from a civil rights law, so their business could openly discriminate against same-sex couples. And now, ruling in their favor in Telescope Media Group v. Lucero, a federal court has given them the go-ahead.

    […] because their religion apparently requires them to be homophobic, they only want to tape straight weddings. This is prohibited by the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), which bans discrimination in public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation. Basically, when a business is open to the public, it isn’t allowed to discriminate.

    Along with discriminating against same-sex couples, the Larsens want to include a disclaimer about how much they hate gay weddings on their website, saying:

    Because of TMG’s owners’ religious beliefs and expressive purposes, it cannot make films promoting any conception of marriage that contradicts its religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman, including films celebrating same-sex marriages.

    Because gay married people don’t deserve to celebrate and be happy, obviously.

    The Larsens call themselves “Christians who believe that God has called them to use their talents and their company to […] honor God,” and say they can’t do business that doesn’t fit within their religious beliefs. This includes requests that, in their opinion, “contradict biblical truth; promote sexual immorality; support the destruction of unborn children; promote racism or racial division; incite violence; degrade women; or promote any conception of marriage other than as a lifelong institution between one man and one woman.” So they sued, asking to be exempted from the MHRA, a civil rights law that was enacted to help stop discrimination.

    Civil rights laws have a long history in our country, and a string of cases upholding laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 have affirmed their constitutionality. In fact, the MHRA itself was already upheld by the US Supreme Court back in 1984, when nonprofit group Jaycees brought a case arguing for its right to discriminate against women in Roberts v. US Jaycees. […]

    From the Minnesota Department of Human Rights:

    The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is deeply disappointed by the decision issued today in the Telescope Media Group v. Lucero, et al. case by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Read the entire statement here: https://bit.ly/2zh4WZr

  237. says

    Trump did not represent the U.S. at the G-7.

    This week, at the G-7 meeting in France, […] Trump stood before the world and, for three horrifying minutes, displayed utter incomprehension of allegiance to the United States.

    The topic was Russia. During the meeting, Trump lobbied his fellow heads of state to invite Russia back into the G-7. This vexed the other leaders, because Russia had been suspended from the group in 2014 for a good reason: It had invaded and annexed Crimea, which was then part of Ukraine. Since its suspension, Russia has done a lot for Trump. According to former special counsel Robert Mueller, the Russian government committed crimes to help Trump win the U.S. presidential election in 2016. But Russia has done nothing to rectify its seizure of Crimea. On Monday, at a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, Trump was asked why, in view of Russia’s offenses, it should be invited to the next G-7 meeting.

    Trump replied, matter-of-factly, that the seizure of Crimea was no offense to him.

    Crimea, he explained, had been “taken away from President Obama, not taken away from President Trump.” […]

    Trump defines the invasion as a defeat of Obama—whom he regards as his nemesis—and therefore as evidence of his superiority.

    […] Trump has no sense of national loyalty, and he views the United States government, prior to his presidency, as an enemy. This makes him a ready instrument of Putin and other dictators who have tangled with the United States. […]

    Slate link

  238. says

    Hollywood Reporter – “Donald Trump Sends Legal Demand Over Comment From MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell”:

    Donald Trump is ratcheting up his war with the media, as if such thing was conceivable. On Wednesday, his personal attorney Charles Harder threatened NBCUniversal with a defamation suit over what was broadcast the previous night on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell. A missive sent to NBCU headquarters, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, also addresses a related tweet.

    According to Harder’s demand letter, “The Program and Tweet make the false and defamatory statements that ‘Russian oligarchs’ co-signed loans provided to Mr. Trump by Deutsche Bank, and described these ‘co-signers’ as ‘Russian billionaires close to Vladimir Putin.’”

    Harder is also warning others against republishing the allegedly false statement. (The Hollywood Reporter is doing so because it believes such republication is a matter of utmost public concern and protected by the First Amendment in connection with anticipated litigation.)

    Trump is certainly notorious for defamation threats, but this may be the first formal one from a sitting president. Should Trump actually pursue a defamation suit and it survived any initial First Amendment challenge, he’d subject himself to a discovery process months after the conclusion of the investigation by Robert Mueller — which Trump repeatedly characterized as a “witch hunt.”

    Nevertheless, even though Trump has previously claimed not watching MSNBC anymore, O’Donnell’s comment appears to have gotten under his skin.

    On his Tuesday night show, O’Donnell told colleague Rachel Maddow that a “single source close to Deutsche Bank has told me that the Trump — Donald Trump’s loan documents there show that he has co-signers. That’s how he was able to obtain those loans. And that the co-signers are Russian oligarchs.”

    O’Donnell then said, “That would explain, it seems to me, every kind word Donald Trump has ever said about Russia and Vladimir Putin, if true, and I stress the if true part of this.”

    In his letter (read in full here), Harder characterizes these allegations as extremely damaging to Trump.

    Trump is demanding that O’Donnell and NBCU “immediately and prominently retract, correct and apologize for the aforementioned false and defamatory statements.”

    “Failure to do so will leave my clients with no alternative but to consider their legal options which could include immediate legal proceedings against Mr. O’Donnell and NBCU,” concludes the letter. “Should that occur, my clients would pursue all available causes of action and seek all available damages and other legal remedies to the maximum extent permitted by law.”

    Harder claims in the demand letter that “Numerous documents for each of these loans are also recorded, publicly available and searchable online.” What documents would those be? And if the relevant documentation is all publicly available, what are they fighting in court to withhold from the US congress and the NY AG? They could show that O’Donnell’s source is wrong simply by asking DB to release and point people to the documents.

  239. says

    SC @347, it is as if Trump is determined to make an even bigger, more well-known story, out of the fact that his loans from Deutsche Bank were cosigned by Russians, allegedly.

    This action from Trump’s lawyers will also prompt more journalists to look at the loans closely. I don’t think Trump is going to win this battle.

    Certainly, at the very least the story will remain in the news cycle longer, and more loan documentation will be in the public domain.

  240. says

    A Father and Daughter Tell Their Story of the Terrifying Immigration Raid in Mississippi

    “They got your dad”: What it’s like when an ICE raid rips your family apart.

    On the morning of August 7, Armando thought about skipping work. He had been up late with his 2-year-old twin boys in their central Mississippi home and had barely gotten any sleep. Since migrating to the United States in 2002, Armando had built a life here: married, bought a house, and had five kids. He had a job as a mechanic at Peco Foods, tasked with machine maintenance for the chicken processing plant. Around 6 a.m. that Wednesday, he walked into work.

    At the same time, his 14-year-old daughter, Julia, was waking up and getting ready for her second day of high school. “It was really chaotic,” she told me. She was sitting in her first-period world history class, waiting for the bell to ring, when she got called to the office. Her father had been detained in what was one the largest ICE raids in modern history.

    Armando and Julia, whose names have both been changed, talked to Mother Jones about what happened that day and how they’re picking up the pieces in the aftermath of the raid. These interviews have been edited for length and clarity.

    Julia: The bus comes at seven o’clock, and I have to help with my sister and my brother. My mom leaves for work at night. My dad always leaves at five o’clock in the morning. That morning, I called my dad to ask him what time my mom was going to get home. That was like 6:55, close to when the bus was coming. That was the last time I talked to him.

    Armando: Around 8 a.m., suddenly, they started yelling, “Everyone outside! Everyone outside!” I was on my way out when someone said, “That’s ICE. We have to hide.” Some went to hide. I was going to go hide, but then I thought, “What’s the point?” They took us into the break room. When they grabbed us, they asked, “Are you Hispanic? Okay, go over there. Anyone who’s Hispanic, go over there.” They divided us one by one. Whether or not they were here legally, they put everyone to one side.

    One agent started taking down everyone’s names. He got there and said, “Tell me your name, your real name, where you’re from, and don’t lie to me. The more you lie, the bigger your problems will be.” I gave him my full name and everything. They only asked for a name. They didn’t ask for any papers. In other plants, I’ve heard they even pulled out their guns. After they asked our names, they sat us down. They tied our feet together and our hands together and they put us on a bus. We got onto the buses, and they took us to Jackson. They took us by the airport where the military base is.

    Julia: I was the first one to find out of my family. They called me to the office. At first, I thought I did something wrong. They called me, and they called my friend in, too. They got her mom, and they got my dad. My dad’s friend was there waiting for me. They said, “They got your dad.” At first, I thought they were joking. I was like, “Who got my dad?” And they said, “ICE got your dad.” I guess I was shocked. I was speechless. I didn’t believe them at first. But then I stared at their faces. They were serious, and it looked like they were just crying. That’s when I broke down.

    I checked my phone and there were all these messages. The school was trying to call my mom but my mom wasn’t answering at all. No one was answering the phone. So I called my mom. She wasn’t answering. I called my uncle until he answered, and that’s when I was able to tell my mom. I felt guilty. I felt like it was my fault because I was going to have my birthday party in a few weeks. My parents had been working extra hours and all that. I felt guilty. I thought it was my fault because they were working extra hard to get the money to plan the party for me. […]

    Armando: I was probably on the bus about seven or eight hours. They fed us around four in the afternoon. They gave us a sandwich, water, and a bag of chips. The whole time we had our hands and our feet tied up. I remember I filled out some paper asking for my name, where I was working, how many kids I had, where I was from, if I was scared to go back to my country. When I got off the bus the second time, they asked me for my name and told me to put down my fingerprints. That’s when they took us to an immigration agent. They asked where I was from, my kids’ names, how many kids I had in the US, how many years I’ve been here. I have five kids. […] I didn’t know what was going to happen. We were all depressed and discouraged.

    Julia: Before we went, my dad called us and said that they took him to the National Guard. He said it was the one besides the airport. There’s like four bases here. We just kept looking until we found it. We were just looking for the bus. They gave us a card with a hotline. So we called that number, and they were just saying to call back later. We asked the guards, “Are they there?” and one of them said, “That’s a confidential thing. We can’t say.” They really didn’t want to cooperate. We called that hotline. It was like eight o’clock at night, and I gave them the information that they asked for, and they said, “We don’t know anything about him. We don’t know where he’s at.” Supposedly that hotline was to get information, but they didn’t give me any information. They always said at the end of the call that they would call us back. They never call you back.

    I was translating. I’m used to it. I always translate for other things, like doctor’s appointments. This time it felt like more pressure. I felt like if I messed up, then it might cause him not to come back or him to get deported. It was supposed to be an adult, not me. I shouldn’t really be worrying about it. We’re not doing anything wrong. Just because some people make mistakes doesn’t mean all Hispanics are mean people. It doesn’t mean that.

    Armando: I don’t speak English very well, but the immigration agent understood me, and I understood him a bit, too. “I have four kids,” he said. “And I’m sorry you’re going through this.” Then his boss came by, and he said, “He has five kids. He hasn’t heard anything about them or his wife. I think we could let him go.” But there was one condition. “We’re going to put an ankle bracelet on you.” They gave me a date and a case number. They told me I needed to show up again on December 10, but they said they might contact me before then. They just told me not to move. They took me back to the plant where I was working around midnight. I got back home around two in the morning. I was so happy. I just wanted to see my kids. […]

    Julia: Ever since that day, I really don’t talk about it. I still don’t sleep at night. I guess I still haven’t gotten over what happened. I was glad he was back, but after that, he has to go to court. You don’t know what will happen. Maybe the next day he won’t be here. Yeah, he’s here right now, but you never know what’s going to happen the next day. […]

    More at the link.

  241. says

    Mehdi Hasan in the Intercept – “When Ilhan Omar Is Accused of Anti-Semitism, It’s News. When a Republican Smears Muslims, There’s Silence.”:

    “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby.”

    That is, of course, what Rep. Ilhan Omar famously tweeted on February 10, in response to a tweet from my colleague Glenn Greenwald decrying “how much time U.S. political leaders spend defending a foreign nation” — namely, the state of Israel. Then, when a journalist followed up by asking Omar who she believed was “paying American politicians to be pro-Israel,” the congresswoman tweeted: “AIPAC!”

    The freshman Democrat from Minnesota “unequivocally” apologized the very next day, saying that she was grateful to Jewish allies and colleagues who were educating her “on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes” and insisting that she never intended to “offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole.”

    But it was too late. With those two (since-deleted) tweets, Omar kicked off a political and media firestorm that lasted for weeks and saw her condemned and castigated by, among others, cable news pundits, newspaper op-ed columnists, Jewish community groups, Donald Trump, congressional Republicans, and even the leaders and members of her own party.

    Now, fast forward to last week, specifically August 21. Rep. Mo Brooks, a right-wing Republican congressperson from Alabama with a long history of controversial and offensive remarks, was interviewed on WVNN, a radio station in Huntsville, about the decision by Israel’s government to deny entry to Omar and her fellow Muslim Democrat Rashida Tlaib.

    “Usually, there is not much controversy with respect to Israel,” Brooks told host Jeff Poor. “Usually, the United States Congress is overwhelmingly close to 100%, if not 100%, in support of recognizing Israel as a long-term American ally, and that we have a mutual defense relationship. Unfortunately, we now have people in the United States Congress who view Israel as an enemy, and that makes for an entirely different mix of conversation.”

    Which “people” would that be? Brooks didn’t hold back.

    “There is, and I think it’s based on the growing influence of the Islamic religion in the Democratic Party ranks,” he continued. “Keep in mind: Muslims more so than most people have great animosity toward Israel and the Jewish faith. And as you have more and more Muslims in the United States, as they gain greater and greater influence in elections, particularly in Democratic Party primaries, then you’re going to see more and more people like Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and company that are anti-Israel, and that brings an entirely different viewpoint into the United States Congress.”

    “I think you’re going to see this influence in the Democratic Party grow and grow and grow over time, but ultimately become the dominant influence within the Democratic Party, where the Democratic Party will become very strongly anti-Jewish and anti-Israel,” Brooks added. (These comments start at about the two-minute mark of this recording of the show).

    Wow. I have been reporting on Islamophobia in U.S. politics for more than a decade, and I honestly cannot remember coming across a more brazenly Islamophobic statement from an elected member of Congress. “Growing influence of the Islamic religion” among Democrats? “More and more Muslims” winning elections? The “dominant influence”? “Anti-Jewish”? In an age of rising white nationalism, in which Muslims have been gunned down in mosques by domestic terrorists who believe such conspiracy theories about Islam, these remarks aren’t just offensive, they’re downright dangerous.

    So you might think the media — and the Democrats — would be all over Brooks and the Republicans, right?


    Not quite. I asked Parker Molloy, of Media Matters for America, to check the numbers. In terms of cable news, Molloy found that in the seven days after Omar’s “Benjamins” tweet, “Fox News mentioned her during 21 shows, CNN in 53, and five on MSNBC.” The freshman Democrat’s name, according to a Lexis search, was also mentioned in a whopping 479 newspaper articles.

    And in the seven days since Brooks’s remarks? Zero mentions of him in the national press. Zero coverage of him on network and cable news. Not one story; not one report.

    On Tuesday, Waleed Shahid, communications director for Justice Democrats, tweeted out a clip of Brooks’s remarks, pointing out that it had received “nearly half a million views” on Twitter, yet had received “virtually no coverage” in the mainstream press.

    Shahid told me that he had shared the clip with a number of reporters and producers last week, but none of them had followed up with a story on it. “No bite,” he said.

    Can you imagine the reaction if Ilhan Omar had said that Jews had become the “dominant influence” within the Republican Party, or if she had decried the “growing influence” of the Jewish religion in the GOP? Or if she had spoken about Jews gaining “greater and greater influence” in elections?

    We would now be embarking on another seven (or even 70!) days of nonstop coverage, and condemnation, of what would be (rightly) described as her brazen and shocking anti-Semitism. It would be front-page news; the subject of almost every panel discussion on cable.

    Yet Brooks makes these outrageous and bigoted claims about Muslims and Islam and …? Silence. A shameful and very deafening silence. No headlines. No op-eds. No panels. No reporters chasing down House Republicans and demanding a condemnation or disavowal from them.

    Look, I expect nothing from the likes of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy or House Minority Whip Steve Scalise. They’re bad-faith actors who, incidentally, have their own issues with racism and anti-Semitism: McCarthy accused Jewish billionaires of trying to “buy” the midterm elections for the Democrats, while Scalise once described himself as “David Duke without the baggage.”

    But what about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi? Why isn’t she drafting a congressional resolution to condemn Brooks, as she did for Omar? Where are the statements of outrage from Chuck Schumer and Steny Hoyer, who were so quick to go after one of their own? Why aren’t MSNBC and CNN rolling on this? How come the Washington Post and the New York Times aren’t publishing long pieces about the GOP’s Islamophobia problem? Why aren’t the liberal columnists who lined up to slam Omar now writing op-eds denouncing this blatant and undeniable racism from Brooks?…

  242. says

    “MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell says he was ‘wrong’ to report thinly sourced Trump finances story”:

    MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell said he was “wrong” to report a thinly sourced story about President Trump’s finances on his prime time show Tuesday night.

    “Last night I made an error in judgment by reporting an item about the president’s finances that didn’t go through our rigorous verification and standards process,” O’Donnell said in a tweet Wednesday afternoon. “I shouldn’t have reported it and I was wrong to discuss it on the air. I will address the issue on my show tonight.”

    The about-face came shortly after an attorney for Trump and the Trump Organization sent a letter to NBC demanding the network “immediately and prominently” retract and apologize for what the attorney described as “false and defamatory” reporting.

    O’Donnell on Tuesday night offered his audience an explosive story on Trump’s finances — a story he later stressed came from a single source, that NBC had not verified, and that would “require a lot more verification” to be confirmed as fact.

    On his program, O’Donnell reported that Trump received loans from Deutsche Bank that had been co-signed by “Russian billionaires close to Vladimir Putin.”

    The MSNBC anchor cited a “source close to Deutsche Bank” for his reporting.

    While discussing his reporting, O’Donnell repeatedly said he wanted to stress that “if true” it would be a huge development.

    “I stress ‘if true,’ because this is a single source,” O’Donnell said at one point.

    Later in his program, O’Donnell plainly said NBC News had not verified his reporting.

    “I want to stress that is a single source, that has not been confirmed by NBC News,” O’Donnell said. “I have not seen any documentation from Deutsche Bank that supports this and verifies this. This is just a single source who has revealed that to me.”

    O’Donnell then added, “And that’s where it stands at this point, its going to require a lot more verification before that can be a confirmable fact.”

    It’s not clear how O’Donnell’s reporting made it to air, given that NBC News was unable to verify his reporting.

    Usually, at networks, journalists must clear anonymously sourced reports with the network before reporting them on-air or online — a process O’Donnell acknowledged he didn’t follow in his Wednesday tweet….

    Deutsche Bank isn’t the fucking CIA. Someone there needs to leak this stuff so we (very belatedly) can have the information we’re owed as citizens.

  243. says

    Dan Pfeiffer:

    The @washingtonpost reported last night that the President was encouraging his aides to break the law to help his reelection with the promise of pardons. How is this not the biggest story in the country today? How many Democrats have put out statements, done TV, or held pressers?

    The Right is so much better at marshaling its platforms and voices to fan the flames of a story that it thinks is in its interest. Democrats too often depend on the media to carry the story on its own, which doesn’t work,

    The Republicans have two advantages in this regard: 1. A massive right wing media infrastructure 2. The mainstream media is much more susceptible to criticism about not covering a story if those criticisms come from the Right than the Left.

    Also, the Dems are terrified of using power even if in service of the most important goals in history. Prove me wrong.

  244. says

    NHC Update, 5pm: Hurricane #Dorian is now north of the USVI and Puerto Rico. The NHC say its next landfall will be Sunday night as a Category 3 somewhere between south Florida and southern Georgia.

    This is a looming disaster that deserves the attention of everyone in Florida.”

    “As usual.”

  245. says

    BREAKING: Trump has asked his national security team to review funding for Ukraine, to ensure the money is being used ‘in the best interests’ of the US. The funding has been put on hold.
    News comes days after Trump advocated for reinstating Russia to G7.”

  246. says

    Atlanta Journal-Constitution – “Mystery of missing votes deepens as Congress investigates Georgia”:

    To find a clue about what might have gone wrong with Georgia’s election last fall, look no further than voting machine No. 3 at the Winterville Train Depot outside Athens.

    On machine No. 3, Republicans won every race. On each of the other six machines in that precinct, Democrats won every race.

    The odds of an anomaly that large are less than 1 in 1 million, according to a statistician’s analysis in court documents. The strange results would disappear if votes for Democratic and Republican candidates were flipped on machine No. 3.

    It just so happens that this occurred in Republican Brian Kemp’s home precinct, where he initially had a problem voting when his yellow voter access card didn’t work because a poll worker forgot to activate it. At the time, Kemp was secretary of state — Georgia’s top election official — and running for governor in a tight contest with Democrat Stacey Abrams.

    The suspicious results in Winterville are evidence in the ongoing mystery of whether errors with voting machines contributed to a stark drop-off in votes recorded in the race for Georgia lieutenant governor between Republican Geoff Duncan, who ended up winning, and Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico.

    Even though it was the second race on the ballot, fewer votes were counted for lieutenant governor than for labor commissioner, insurance commissioner and every other statewide contest lower on the ballot. Roughly 80,000 fewer votes were counted for lieutenant governor than in other down-ballot elections.
    Republican Geoff Duncan and Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico ran for Georgia lieutenant governor in 2018. Duncan won the race, which drew 159,000 fewer votes than were cast in the governor’s race.

    The potential voting irregularities were included among 15,500 pages of documents obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that have also been turned over to the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is looking into Georgia’s elections. The documents, provided under the Georgia Open Records Act, offer details of alleged voting irregularities but no answers.

    Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office has refused to open an investigation. State election officials say the low number of votes could have been caused by low interest in the lieutenant governor’s race or where that contest appeared on the ballot.

    The Georgia Supreme Court is also considering a challenge to the lieutenant governor’s race. Duncan won by 123,000 votes, but the plaintiffs contend missing votes could have changed the result.

    The unresolved questions about the election have contributed to mistrust in the state’s electronic voting system and questions about election officials’ commitment to investigating complaints in a thorough and nonpartisan manner.

    State election officials say they have looked into the lieutenant governor’s race but found no indication of problems with election equipment or vote counts.

    The decline in votes showed up on ballots cast on the state’s electronic voting machines in 101 of Georgia’s 159 counties. On paper absentee ballots, there wasn’t a significant decline in votes cast for lieutenant governor.

    In addition, the drop-off in votes grew more extreme in precincts with large African American populations, according to an analysis by TargetSmart, a data-tracking firm affiliated with the Democratic Party….

    Georgia’s 17-year-old electronic voting system is already riddled with potential vulnerabilities to hacking, tampering and malfunctions, according to plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit who want voters to use hand-marked paper ballots. In a ruling this month, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg called the voting system “unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated.”…

    Much more at the link.

  247. blf says

    Useful resource, Violence in the name of Trump:

    Dozens of supporters of Donald Trump have carried out or threatened acts of violence. Here, the Guardian lists them all

    Since Trump embarked on his campaign for the US presidency in June 2015, dozens of attacks or threats involving his supporters have been reported. Here, the Guardian has compiled details of 52 incidents reported since 2015 involving Trump supporters.

    This list includes people who:

    ● Explicitly declared support for Donald Trump, or used his slogans, during or in connection with acts or threats of violence.
    ● Cited Trump or his rhetoric in subsequently explaining acts or threats of violence.
    ● Committed or threatened violence against opponents of Trump at political events, or while wearing Trump-branded attire signifying their support for the president.
    ● Publicly declared an allegiance to Trump before committing or threatening violence against members of political or racial groups that Trump has denounced.


    I presume they will be keeping the list updated.

  248. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian British-politics liveblog.

    From there:

    A legal bid to prevent Johnson from proroguing parliament will be heard in court on Thursday afternoon. The hearing is scheduled to take place at Parliament House in Edinburgh at 12pm, with Lord Doherty presiding. A separate attempt to stop the move is also under way at the high court in Belfast.

  249. says

    Guardian – “Italian president gives Conte mandate to form new government”:

    The Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, has said now is the time to “turn a crisis into an opportunity” after accepting a fresh mandate to try to form a new government that could mark a turning point in Italy’s fractured relations with the EU.

    President Sergio Mattarella has tasked Conte with securing a pact between the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the centre-left Democratic party (PD) in a move that would oust the far-right League from government and stave off early elections.

    “It’s a delicate period for the country and we need to exit the political uncertainty soon,” Conte said after a meeting with Mattarella on Thursday. “This will be a new season, a time for relaunch … it won’t be a government ‘against’, but one that is for the citizens and modernises the country.”

    He also said Italy, one of the founders of the EU, must return to being a “protagonist” in the bloc.

    This could be Conte’s second chance at leading Italy after he resigned last week, ending a turbulent alliance between M5S and the League. Conte, a law professor, has a few days to ensure M5S and the PD set aside their myriad differences to create a strong and lasting government.

    The two parties still need to draft a programme and pick a cabinet. One of the hurdles is the role of Luigi Di Maio, the M5S leader….

    The other potential threat is the plan by M5S to ask its members to vote on any agreement with the PD on Rousseau, the online network it often uses to make policy decisions. It is unclear how many subscribers the site has or how votes are counted, but many M5S activists oppose the alliance.

    If they manage to form a government, the first challenges will be to draft Italy’s budget for 2020 and freeze a hike in VAT….

    There were fierce clashes between Italy and the EU over this year’s budget and the country’s huge public debt. Conte, who has repeatedly said Italy would respect EU budgetary rules, has twice managed to avert threats of sanctions.

    Italy was plunged into chaos this month after Matteo Salvini withdrew his League party from its fractious alliance with M5S, as he sought to exploit his party’s popularity to bring about snap elections and become prime minister.

    The dramatic move threatened to create a fully far-right government. But Salvini, whose tactics have dented his popularity in recent weeks, had not banked on M5S teaming up with the PD. The pair are longstanding enemies but also the two largest parties in parliament.

    Salvini had also not expected Conte to emerge as his rival….

    Conte, who was repeatedly dismissed as a “puppet” when governing the M5S-League alliance, has come into his own in recent weeks. He already had a high approval rating, but gained many more fans with an attack on Salvini in the Senate last week. Conte had previously defended Salvini, but on this occasion accused him of being an “opportunist” only out to pursue his own interests. Conte is also respected in the EU, particularly for his diplomacy skills.

  250. says

    Guardian – “Chinese troop movement into Hong Kong prompts unease”:

    Chinese military vehicles have been seen moving across the border into Hong Kong, in what the military said were regular troop movements, as fears rose that the city could see a Beijing-led crackdown after months of political unrest.

    Following witness reports of the movements in the early hours of Thursday, state-run news agency Xinhua released a report that the Hong Kong Garrison of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was making a scheduled rotation and that it was an “annual normal routine”.

    The images published by Xinhua showed armoured carriers and trucks carrying troops at the border, and a naval vessel arriving in Hong Kong.

    In the previous two rotations – in 2017 and 2018 – state media reports noted that the number of troops and equipment had not changed. This year the report does not include that detail. It is estimated there are between 8,000 and 10,000 troops in the garrison, on either side of the border.

    The movements come before a major anti-government demonstration planned for Saturday, as Hong Kong nears its third month of mass protests. On Thursday, the organiser of the demonstration, Civil Human Rights Front, received notice that police had banned the event.

    Hours after the announcement, Civil Human Rights Front convenor Jimmy Sham and a friend were attacked inside a restaurant by two men in masks wielding baseball bats and knives.

    While Sham was unharmed, his friend is receiving treatment for injuries sustained during the attack, according to the coalition.

    Bonnie Leung, a co-convenor of the group, said she thought the attack was intended to scare away protesters from Saturday’s demonstration. Past events organised by CHRF this summer have drawn hundreds of thousands of residents, including families and the elderly, in some of the largest demonstrations seen in Hong Kong since it returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

    The attack is not unprecedented in Hong Kong, which has seen an escalation of violence targeted at protesters, journalists and pro-democracy figures in recent weeks.

    As concerns about a possible crackdown intensify in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Internet Service Providers Association said on Wednesday it was troubled by reports that the local government might issue an executive order to block selective websites or applications.

    It said such an order would be the “end of the open Internet of Hong Kong” and “permanently deter international businesses from positing their businesses and investments in Hong Kong”.

    The group also said it would be an ineffective move as it “would not deter nor stop determined users from accessing their desired services” through a virtual private network (VPN).

  251. says

    Here’s the NYT tweeted summary of its article on the developments described @ #367: “The unlikely union of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the Democratic Party, vicious foes until days ago, owed little to shared vision and much to the age-old motivators of Italian politics: revenge, opportunity and shared interests.”

    Here’s the only response so far: “I’m turning in, so won’t read this til tomorrow, but I’ll admit to this prior: I have no faith in an analysis of a complex polity/society/culture that refers to ‘age-old motivators’. The more so when the three motivations listed seem…hardly unique to Italy.


    The NYT description borders on racist (similar to how they often report on Latin America), and says nothing about this:

    Italy was plunged into chaos this month after Matteo Salvini withdrew his League party from its fractious alliance with M5S, as he sought to exploit his party’s popularity to bring about snap elections and become prime minister.

    The dramatic move threatened to create a fully far-right government.

  252. blf says

    SC@360, It’s actually a bit more nuanced than that, albeit still stoooopid. (The story has been updated in the interim.) From the article, Some children of US troops born overseas will no longer get automatic American citizenship, Trump administration says:

    Previously, all children born to US citizen parents were considered to be “residing in the United States,” and therefore would be automatically granted citizenship under Immigration and Nationality Act 320. Now, children born to US service members and government employees who are not yet themselves US citizens, while abroad, will not be considered as residing in the US, changing the way that they potentially receive citizenship. Children who are not US citizens and are adopted by U.S. service members while living abroad will also no longer receive automatic citizenship by living with the US citizen adopted parents.

    I took particular interest in this report since I have US natural-born citizenship due to being born of US citizens who were aboard. My parents were neither in the services at the time, nor government employees. As the article says, I was considered to reside in the States and hence was automatically a citizen. This is also true for children with one citizen parent. And when both parents are not citizens, providing one(? both?) become citizens (whilst still aboard? (not sure on that), and perhaps only for service members and/or government employees? (also not sure on that)). Broadly, provided one parent is a citizen, so is a child born aboard (albeit the child has to be under 18, and presumably with other requirements not really known to me). This idiotic change pew pews all that, except in when both parents are citizens, or not in the services, or not government employees.

    It apparently also impacts foreign adoptions by such parents (see the linked-to article).

  253. says

    David Klion in Jewish Currents – “Trump’s ‘Disloyalty’ Comments Are What the Jewish Right Believes”:

    …Trump wasn’t precisely accusing American Jews of being disloyal to the United States, as past antisemites—for instance, Henry Ford, whose wisdom the president cited in a separate context yesterday—have done. Rather, he was arguing that American Jews are being disloyal to Israel, a state where most of us have never lived and whose policies many of us fervently oppose.

    Jewish Currents readers don’t need to be persuaded that the president is a bigot, and don’t require a list of examples of his antisemitic comments over many years. The question, as always, is who is influencing his thinking. It’s become a commonplace observation that Trump always says the quiet part loud, but who is saying it quietly?

    The answer lies with the Jewish right, by which I mean the institutions and individuals who broadly represent the 24% of American Jews who voted for Trump in 2016 (the 71% who voted for Hillary Clinton are the ones allegedly displaying “either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty”). Trump is surrounded by such figures, from his son-in-law Jared Kushner to his ambassador to Israel, the vehemently Islamophobic bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, to the Orthodox Jewish political operative Jeff Ballabon. The worldview of the Jewish right is indistinguishable from what Trump told reporters, but it consistently receives far less media attention. They believe that Jews in the US owe our loyalty to Israel, and that supporting the uncompromisingly pro-Israel Republican Party over the more tepidly pro-Israel Democratic Party is necessary to express that loyalty. To them, Trump’s warm friendship with Benjamin Netanyahu and his pro-Israel policies like moving the US embassy to Jerusalem outweigh and excuse his relationship with the antisemitic far right. In short, they prefer the company of Trump, and of his white supremacist supporters, to that of the vast majority of their fellow American Jews.

    Unfortunately, the position of the Jewish right holds significant weight with the centrist institutions and pundits who tend to define the conventional wisdom on antisemitism….

    Sadly, this view…is the implicit perspective of a wide array of mainstream Jewish institutions, which have spent decades conflating unquestioning support for Israel with Jewish identity in the diaspora. For the past few years, donor-advised funds affiliated with Jewish federations have blocked donations to Jewish groups like IfNotNow that challenge the occupation directly. Earlier this year, the Jewish Community Relations Council expelled the Boston Workman’s Circle for being willing to partner with organizations that support BDS or identify as anti-Zionist, like Jewish Voice for Peace. Hillel International, the home for Jewish life on college campuses, has established similar red lines around partnerships and events. Those currently counting themselves among Trump’s “disloyal” should also take note of the status quo expectations of loyalty that underlie Jewish institutional life.

    Of course, the Jewish right fully embraces those expectations, and for that reason it sees Trump more clearly than these centrist institutions and pundits do. The right’s goal is the seizure of Palestinian land and the erasure of the Palestinian people at any cost, and they accurately understand Trump as the politician most inclined to carry it out. Trump has done exactly what they want, and in turn they are willing to support him no matter what he says about Jews. His contempt for the large majority of American Jews is their contempt, expressed verbatim. It’s a contempt they share with the Israeli government, and with the strain of the white supremacist far right that sees Israel as the proper ethnonationalist homeland for all Jews and as a bulwark against Muslims.

    For many of us in the “disloyal” majority, this has been an especially trying week. Trump’s manifest racism, sexism, and xenophobia are troubling to progressive Jews even when they’re not directed at Jews, because they offend core pluralistic and humanistic values. But his latest comments aren’t just a reminder that bigots always eventually come for the Jews; they’re also a reminder that, if it means Israel’s far-right government gets its way, a large minority of Jews are willing to be complicit when it happens.

    In my view, the rightwing loyalty to Israel needs to be clarified. It’s not to Israel per se, but to an Israel controlled by the Right, and more broadly to a set of (far-)rightwing attitudes, values, and policies. If leaders were elected in Israel committed to “core pluralistic and humanistic values,” the Jewish Right’s undying loyalty to the government/nation would evaporate as quickly as that of the rightwing Catholics who unceasingly attack Pope Francis.

  254. blf says

    Four European countries stripped of ‘measles-free’ status – WHO:

    Disease no longer considered eliminated in UK, Greece, the Czech Republic and Albania as WHO warns of spike in cases.


    In the 53 countries of Europe, 90,000 measles cases were recorded in the first half of this year, already more than that for all of 2018, said Siddhartha Datta, from the WHO’s regional office for Europe.

    “Each of these countries are examples that have extremely high national vaccination coverage. So these are not examples of countries that have particularly weak systems,” said Kate O’Brien, director of the WHO’s Immunization Department.

    “This is the alarm bell that is ringing around the world: being able to achieve high national coverage is not enough, it has to be achieved in every community, and every family for every child,” she said.


    Trust in vaccines — among the world’s most effective and widely used medical products — is highest in poorer countries but weaker in wealthier ones where scepticism [sic] has allowed outbreaks of diseases such as measles to persist, a global study found in June.

    The resurgence of measles is partially to blame on the so-called “anti-vax” movement, which spreads false claims that vaccinations are the cause for, among other things, autism.

    As a result of this campaign, many people, especially in the US but also in Europe, choose not to vaccinate their children against measles, decreasing the vaccination rate and endangering people around them.

    A 2018 Gallup institute study showed that 33 percent of people in France and 21.5 percent in Switzerland did not consider measles vaccines to be “safe”.

    In comparison, Bangladesh and Rwanda had the highest levels of confidence, with nearly 100 percent considering them to be safe.


  255. says

    Matthew Miller on the new Atlantic piece about Mattis:

    This argument from Mattis reminds me of the Mueller team thinking people reading their report could figure out whether the investigation found Trump obstructed justice. But that’s not how the world works.

    The best early comms lesson I ever got was from Ann Richards, who, after I slaved over some nuanced, carefully-argued doc, ripped me a new one: “You’ve got to be clear with people. You can’t spend all this time pussyfooting around your point. No one will read any of this.”

  256. says

    CNN chyron: “Hurricane Dorian strengthens as it heads toward US.”

    It already hit the US Virgin Islands and sideswiped Puerto Rico. Those are the US. You mean the US mainland.

  257. says


    DOJ IG “found no evidence that Comey or his attorneys released any of the classified information contained in any of the memos to members of the media.” I don’t need a public apology from those who defamed me, but a quick message with a “sorry we lied about you” would be nice.

  258. says

    #Russia’s state TV describes the news of Trump ordering a review/freeze of U.S. financial, military assistance to #Ukraine as ‘sensational’, host Olga Skabeeva excitedly predicts that the news will make a Ukrainian guest cry, mockingly says, ‘This is so sad and tragic for you’.”

  259. says

    NHC Update, 11am:

    Hurricane #Dorian is now expected to be a Category 4 at landfall in Florida on Sunday night.

    Exactly where it will strike is still very much in question. Models are showing a landfall anywhere btw South Florida & the FL/GA border. Extremely daunting scenario.”

  260. blf says

    Complete bollocks in the Grauniad, albeit not political, Skull of humankind’s oldest-known ancestor discovered. First some context, which as far as I am aware, is Ok:

    The face of the oldest species that unambiguously sits on the human evolutionary tree has been revealed for the first time by the discovery of a 3.8 million-year-old skull in Ethiopia.

    The fossil belongs to an ancient hominin, Australopithecus anamensis, believed to be the direct ancestor of the famous “Lucy” species, Australopithecus afarensis. […]

    Now for the nonsense (my emboldening):

    The dating of the skull also reveals that Anamensis and its descendent species, Lucy, coexisted for a period of at least 100,000 years. This discovery challenges the long-held notion of linear evolution, in which one species disappears and is replaced by a new one. […]

    Ahem! Evolution Does. Not. Work. Like. That.

  261. blf says

    More on @384, The actual paper in Narure, A 3.8-million-year-old hominin
    cranium from Woranso-Mille, Ethiopia
    , makes clear the supposed challenge is to hominin evolution by anagenesis:

    The cranial morphology of the earliest known hominins in the genus Australopithecus remains unclear. The oldest species in this genus (Australopithecus anamensis, specimens of which have been dated to 4.2–3.9 million years ago) is known primarily from jaws and teeth, whereas younger species (dated to 3.5–2.0 million years ago) are typically represented by multiple skulls. Here we describe a nearly complete hominin cranium from Woranso-Mille (Ethiopia) that we date to 3.8 million years ago. We assign this cranium to A. anamensis on the basis of the taxonomically and phylogenetically informative morphology of the canine, maxilla and temporal bone. This specimen thus provides the first glimpse of the entire craniofacial morphology of the earliest known members of the genus Australopithecus. We further demonstrate that A. anamensis and Australopithecus afarensis differ more than previously recognized and that these two species overlapped for at least 100,000 years — contradicting the widely accepted hypothesis of anagenesis.

    As the paper says in its conclusion:

    […] In summary, although MRD and other discoveries from Woranso-Mille do not falsify the proposed ancestor–descendant relationship between A. anamensis and A. afarensis, they indicate that A. afarensis may not have evolved from a single ancestral population. Most importantly, MRD shows that despite the widely accepted hypothesis of anagenesis, A. afarensis did not appear as a result of phyletic transformation. […]

  262. says

    Paul Brand: “Senior source in the Lords confident that they can get a bill through to prevent No Deal by Monday, even with filibustering from govt. Chamber may sit through the night Friday into Saturday, or even on the weekend.”

  263. lumipuna says

    CNN chyron: “Hurricane Dorian strengthens as it heads toward US.”

    It already hit the US Virgin Islands…

    …And Denmark will pay for reconstruction!

  264. says

    Oh, dear. More inaccuracies (tall tales) from Biden:

    A vivid war story that former Vice President Joe Biden has been sharing with supporters on the campaign trail is actually a mash-up of three different events that the former veep has jumbled into one, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

    Biden has told supporters that while he was vice president, a four-star general invited him to travel to a province in Afghanistan called Kunar to recognize the bravery of a Navy captain. According to Biden’s version of the story, the captain had rappelled himself down a 60-foot cliff to recover the body of another American soldier. Biden was going to pin a Silver Star on the soldier, but the Navy captain rejected him.

    “He said, ‘Sir, I don’t want the damn thing!’” Biden said at a recent campaign event in New Hampshire. “’Do not pin it on me, Sir! Please, Sir. Do not do that! He died. He died!’ That is God’s truth, my word as a Biden.”

    According to the Post’s analysis and reporting, nearly every detail — the time period, the location, the act itself, the type of medal, the branch of the military and the soldier’s rank — are all inaccurate.

    Biden was actually a senator when he visited Afghanistan in 2008, not vice president. The man who performed the risky recovery was a young Army specialist, not a high-ranking Navy captain. The soldier was given the Medal of Honor by President Obama six years later, not the Silver Star and not by Biden.

    As the Post notes, Biden did pin a medal on a soldier, Army Staff Sgt. Chad Workman, who didn’t think he deserved it while he was in Afghanistan.


    From the readers comments:

    Joe has to cut this garbage out. The tendency to conflate details, events and time frames into an almost invented history leads to questions about his mental fitness given his age. He can’t permit people to go there. Stop riffing. Stop claiming broad artistic license. Keep it real. Stay focused.
    Why didn’t his staff already know about this and get him to stop telling the story?
    You can’t expect the silver peacock to stop a lifetime habit of truth-stretching and story-telling.
    Do we really need another story-telling-a-lie or alt-facts for president after Mendacious & Mythomaniac Trump?

    Come on Biden Campaign…you do not have to embellish to get the votes
    I just don’t have the desire or inclination to defend this every day for the next year plus. And if I’m honest, while Biden is certainly no Trump, I’m a bit worried about him.
    Trump’s constant lies notwithstanding, the GOP and Trumpers will use things like this to swiftboat Biden
    While I think Biden´s a poor choice, and not up to running, I do think it´s important to keep his, shall we say, narrative creativity in perspective, inasmuch as our current president makes up shit 24/7.

  265. says

    The Trump Administration’s Court-Packing Scheme Fills Immigration Appeals Board With Hardliners

    The six newly promoted judges grant a far lower share of asylum claims than the national average.

    In his first six years as an immigration judge in New York and Atlanta, from 1993 to 1999, William Cassidy rejected more asylum seekers than any judge in the nation. A few years ago, Earle Wilson overtook Cassidy as the harshest asylum judge on the Atlanta court, which has long been considered one of the toughest immigration courts in the country.

    Now both men have been elevated to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which often has the final say over whether immigrants are deported, as part of a court-packing scheme by the Trump administration that is likely to make it even more difficult for migrants fleeing persecution to gain asylum.

    [snipped the stats of asylum claims refused by each judge, shocking]

    Paul Schmidt, who chaired the Board of Immigration of Appeals from 1995 to 2001, says the administration’s goal is to build a “deportation railway” in which cases move through the system as quickly as possible and then get “rubber-stamped by the Board.”

    Until last year, the board had 17 members. The Trump administration expanded the board to 21 members, arguing it was necessary to handle an increase in appeals. That has allowed Attorney General William Barr to fill the panel with immigration hardliners. […] immigration courts are part of the Justice Department, giving the department the power to expand the Board and fill the new openings with judges sympathetic to the administration’s immigration crackdown.

    […] On Monday, a regulation took effect that gives the head of the immigration courts, a political appointee, the power to decide appeals if judges do not hear them quickly enough. A rule that gives board members more authority to summarily deny appeals without issuing a full opinion takes effect on Tuesday. […]

    Cassidy is most associated with his decision to deport Mark Lyttle, a US citizen who did not speak Spanish, to Mexico during a mass deportation hearing. One Georgia attorney I spoke to blamed Immigration and Customs Enforcement for Lyttle’s removal, but Lyttle asserted that he told Cassidy twice about his US citizenship. […]

    Peter Isbister, a senior attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, says Cassidy sometimes writes orders denying bond requests while Isbister is still opening his argument. If he tries to finish, Cassidy can get frustrated and say something like, “You can take it up with the board. We’re done!” […]

    More at the link.

  266. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 358.

    The Pentagon disagrees with Trump when it comes to sending aid to Ukraine.

    The Pentagon has completed a review of military assistance to Ukraine ordered by the White House and concluded the aid should continue, a senior official said today.

    Congress approved $250 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative in fiscal 2019. […] Trump had previously authorized the sale of lethal weapons, including Javelin anti-tank missiles, to help confront separatist forces backed by Russia.

    But in recent days the White House Office of Management and Budget has delayed the funds and asked Defense Secretary Mark Esper and national security adviser John Bolton to determine if the program remains in the best interest of the United States, […]

    The move swiftly raised the ire of lawmakers in both parties who see the program as critical to checking Russian military aggression.

    The Pentagon appears to agree. “The department has reviewed the foreign assistance package and supports it,” a senior Defense Department official told POLITICO.

    The official, who was not authorized to discuss the internal discussions publicly, added that the results of the review have been shared with the White House.

    Trump is scheduled to meet this weekend in Warsaw, Poland, with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky.


  267. says

    Commentary on the big crowds that Elizabeth Warren is drawing:

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren is making waves with the big crowds that she’s attracting to campaign events across the country.

    The Massachusetts Democrat drew 15,000 people to a presidential campaign event in Seattle on Aug. 25 and 12,000 to an event at Macalester College in St. Paul — her first campaign event in Minnesota — on Aug. 19.

    The crowds have drawn attention to her campaign from Democrats and other members of the media, who see it as a sign she might be gaining momentum in the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.

    A former aide to President Obama, who also drew big crowds during his first campaign for the White House, marveled at the size of Warren’s crowds at this stage of the race.

    “What Warren is doing this early on is pretty unprecedented,” the aide said, adding that Obama’s events didn’t attract thousands of people until well into the primary cycle. […]

    “It shows growing enthusiasm. People want to see and hear her,” said Democratic strategist Eddie Vale. “Crowd size in August isn’t going to decide the race, but it certainly helps.” […]

    On Tuesday, […] Trump belittled Warren’s crowds, saying his were “far bigger” and complaining that they “get no coverage at all.” […]


  268. says

    Arizona’s Governor Is Leading Republicans’ Quiet, Radical Takeover of State Supreme Courts

    He may now be angling to appoint Bill Montgomery, Maricopa County’s reactionary prosecutor.

    […] Arizona Republicans have already enacted one [court packing scheme]: They not only packed their state Supreme Court but rigged the nomination process to ensure more favorable outcomes for the GOP. It’s just the latest example of Republicans capturing a state judiciary through the kind of brute-force politics that Democrats still shy away from.

    These machinations, led by Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, may soon deliver a state Supreme Court seat to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, a reactionary whose tenure has been plagued by scandal and lawsuits. Montgomery has fought against progressive reform at every turn. He is a fierce foe of LGBTQ equality as well as a staunch defender of the death penalty, the drug war, and mass incarceration. In 2015, he told a Vietnam War veteran that he was “an enemy” because he used marijuana, adding, “I have no respect for you.” […]

    More at the link.