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

    Update on Hurricane Dorian:

    At least 5 people are dead and 21 injured after Hurricane Dorian’s catastrophic assault on the Bahamas, the prime minister said Monday.

    Dorian, tied for the most intense storm on record to make landfall anywhere in the North Atlantic Ocean Basin when it struck as a 185 mph Category 5, is leaving a trail of destruction across the northern Bahamas as it levels homes, blows out roofs and windows, and floods airports and roads. Currently rated a Category 4 storm, Dorian continues to batter the islands.

    This is a developing story and will be updated. […]

    In sharp contrast with fast-moving storms that pass within an hour or two, some parts of the Bahamas, including the Abaco Islands and Dorian’s current target, Grand Bahama Island, were witnessing nearly 24 hours of punishing conditions. […]

    Dorian hit the Bahamas with the highest intensity, Category 5. It has since weakened slightly to a 155-mph Category 4, though it made little difference in terms of the severe storm surge and wind damage it was inflicting.

    In the storm’s direct wake were flooded neighborhoods and broad destruction. The airport in Freeport — the nation’s second-largest city — was reported to be five feet underwater. […]

    Washington Post link

  2. blf says

    The Onion, Famous Instances Of Censorship In US History:

    1798: Repulsive, moronic shit-heap John Adams signs bill making it illegal to criticize president unless accusation could hold up in court.

    1885: Concord Public Library becomes first of many institutions to ban The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn for its unfair and prejudiced depiction of alcoholic fathers.

    1921: Ulysses banned for introducing masturbation to American readers.

    1930: Censorship threats lead film industry to agree on the Hays Code prohibiting portrayals of interracial relationships or anti-Christian behavior, a pact still widely enforced today.

    1964: Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart famously says about pornography, “I know it when I see it, and I see quite a lot of it because I am addicted to pornography. Please help me.”


    2006: Uncle Pete isn’t allowed to finish story about Mexican guy from work at Thanksgiving.

    2019: Duct tape gently placed over Ricky Gervais’ mouth during photoshoot for forthcoming Netflix special.

    And from about a month ago (I missed it at the time), Pelosi Concerned Outspoken Progressive Flank Of Party Could Harm Democrats’ Reputation As Ineffectual Cowards:

    Admitting she had worries about the rise of left-leaning activist groups within her party, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed concerns Thursday that outspoken progressives could do permanent damage to Democrats’ reputation as ineffectual cowards. “They mean well, but if they continue to aggressively push their agenda like this, they run the risk of fundamentally altering the public’s perception of Democrats as bumbling, feckless chumps,” said Pelosi, adding that this brash brand of politics could be easily manipulated by Republicans to paint the party as something other than a bunch of sniveling wimps who are too weak-willed and complacent to stand up for anything with even remote political risk. […]

  3. blf says

    Betsy DeVos Just Made It Harder for Defrauded Students to Get Their Debt Canceled:

    Just in time for the start of a new school year, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Friday [30-August-2019] finalized a new suite of changes to an Obama-era policy that targeted fraud at for-profit colleges. The new DeVos rule significantly raises the bar students have to clear in order to qualify for debt forgiveness when their schools close while they’re enrolled.

    After state and federal investigations into fraud at some of the country’s biggest for-profit college operators caused the schools to shutter, thousands of students found themselves deep in debt for incomplete degrees. […]

    The Obama program has cleared $222 million in loans from nearly 20,000 borrowers since 2016, according to the New York Times. But as a result of the new DeVos rule, after July 2020, students filing for debt relief will have to prove their colleges intentionally deceived them, that it influenced their decision to enroll, and that it made them financially suffer. The change also sets a three-year deadline for filing a claim; the Obama rule had no deadline and automatically relieved their debts if they didn’t enroll elsewhere within three years.

    The Trump administration has repeatedly tried to delay rules for for-profit colleges and student loan forgiveness. Last year, a federal court called the delay “arbitrary and capricious,” ordering DeVos to implement the Obama-era rule. […]

  4. blf 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.

    Between 2013 and 2018, the average immigration judge in the country approved about 45 percent of asylum claims. The six judges newly promoted to the board have all approved fewer than 20 percent. […]

    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. […]

    The promotions of the six judges this month, first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, are part of an intensifying effort to reshape immigration courts. Earlier this month, the Justice Department moved to eliminate the immigration judges’ union, which has been highly critical of the administration’s policies. 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.

    Lawyers who have appeared before Cassidy, Couch, and Wilson say all three have intense tempers. All of them had many of their asylum denials reversed by the Board of Immigration Appeals. Now they’ll be the ones deciding those appeals. […]

    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.

    Glenn Fogle, an Atlanta immigration attorney, concluded in 2001, “You could have Anne Frank in front of him and he would say it was implausible that she could have hidden in the house for years and not be caught.” […]

    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!

    In 2010, Cassidy had an asylum denial overturned because he had written the ruling before the hearing even began. The next year, Cassidy sat down in another judge’s courtroom in his judicial robe. In what one observer described as a “surreal” scene, Cassidy then raised his hand and told how the judge how the case should be handled. Assistant Chief Immigration Judge Deepali Nadkarni admonished Cassidy for his “inappropriate conduct.” In 2016, Cassidy compared an immigrant arriving at the border to a person coming to your home in a Halloween mask, waving a knife dripping with blood.


    Like the others, Wilson has often been overturned by the appeals board he is now a part of. In one case, he ruled against a victim of domestic violence partly on the grounds that she had been able leave her abuser and reach the United States. “We disagree,” the Board decided. “Although the respondent did ultimately come to the United States to escape her abuser, by definition, any person applying for asylum in the United States has fled the harm that they experienced.”

    Under the regulation that goes into effect Tuesday, Board members will have more authority to summarily deny appeals without providing any justification. Charles Kuck, an Atlanta attorney and former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Associations, expects that to lead to an assembly-line system like the one that existed under the George W. Bush administration, when Board members sometimes issued more than 50 decisions a day.

    Two decades later, one Cassidy case still sticks with Fogle. His client was a former Ethiopian government official. As he was telling his story, Fogle remembers, Cassidy jumped up, turned off the court’s audio recorder, and yelled, Bullshit! His client insisted he was telling the truth.

    Fogle says it was among the most unprofessional behavior he has ever seen from a judge. “I’ve been around,” he says. “I will never forget that.” He adds, “That’s the guy that’s going to be adjudicating appeals from other immigration judges.”

  5. blf says

    An update on the Jacob Rees-Mogg muppet story in teh NKofE (@497(previous page)): I was reading John Crace’s politics sketch in the Gruaniad, Boris takes a leaf out of Cummings’ Game Theory for Dommies, and one of the readers observed it should be Rees-Muppet… I’m so stealing that!

    A few excerpts from the sketch:

    [… Borris] was on the verge of getting a great Brexit deal. It was just that neither he nor the EU had a clue what that deal was. So he didn’t want parliament getting in the way of the thing he didn’t know how to do. Largely because it was impossible. But we were still leaving on 31 October with or without a deal, even if parliament decided otherwise. And that was it. All he asked was that no one told the EU what the UK’s negotiating position was. Just as well Johnny Foreigner can’t understand English.


    Over on LBC radio, Jacob Rees-Mogg was […] interrupted by a call from Dr David Nicholl, a consultant neurologist who had helped draft the government’s Operation Yellowhammer plan. What level of mortality rate would he be willing to accept in a no-deal Brexit?

    That’s typical, Jacob snapped. Why was it always the weak, the sick and the dying who were so concerned about their personal survival? Didn’t they understand it was an honour to suffer for the Motherland? Are you expecting the death toll to be greater than at Stalingrad? “Er, no,” said Nicholl. Well then, Rees-Mogg replied triumphantly. What’s the problem?


    Another reader observed teh NKofE has “a parliament not only of fools but charlatans, incompetents and one muppet”.

  6. blf says

    An unsung climate hero comes in from the cold (quoted in full (too short for sensible excerpting)):

    US woman Eunice Foote only now receiving credit for first identifying greenhouse effect

    This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Eunice Foote, a pioneer in climate research of whom few people have heard. She showed that water vapour and carbon dioxide helped to heat Earth’s atmosphere, and realised that when the atmosphere had higher levels of carbon dioxide it made the climate much warmer.

    Her work was presented in August 1856 at a prestigious scientific conference in the US, but had to be given by a male colleague because women were not allowed to give talks at the meeting. [AAAS, John Henry† of the Smithsonian presented her paper –blf] Her study was not even included in the conference proceedings, although a summary of the talk appeared in a report about the meeting a year later.

    In 1859, the renowned physicist John Tyndall, working in London, demonstrated how certain gases such as carbon dioxide and water vapour in the atmosphere warmed the climate — what later became known as the greenhouse effect. He made no mention of Foote in his research and whether he did not know of her work or deliberately ignored it remains unknown. But Tyndall’s experiments became widely accepted as a cornerstone of work on the greenhouse effect. Despite Foote’s insights, her contribution to climate research became a footnote in history and is only now starting to come to light.

    I have no recollection of hearing of Eunice Foote, and had thought John Tyndall was the first to make the link. Although the proceedings didn’t include Foote’s paper, it was published (not just a summary), and there was even an article in Scientific American about the work.

    Interestingly, in the comments, one reader points out that in 1824 “[Joseph] Fourier says the surface of the Earth is warmer than it should be, it must be doing something like a greenhouse.” Also, How Joseph Fourier discovered the greenhouse effect:

    In his mathematical theory of heat conduction, Fourier based his reasoning on Newton’s law of cooling, with the flow of heat between two adjacent particles being proportional to the difference in temperature. He wrote that “heat, like gravity, penetrates every substance of the universe, its rays occupy all parts of space”. He established the fundamental equation that governs the diffusion or spreading out of heat, and solved it by using the infinite series of trigonometric functions that we now call Fourier series.


    Fourier was the first person to study the Earth’s temperature from a mathematical perspective. He examined variations in temperature between day and night, and between summer and winter, and concluded that the planet was much warmer than a simple analysis might suggest.

    Fourier calculated that it would be much colder than it is if the incoming radiation from the sun were the only warming effect. His idea that the Earth’s atmosphere acts like an insulator is the first formulation of what we now call the greenhouse effect. […]

    The NOAA also has an article about Ms Foote, Happy 200th birthday to Eunice Foote, hidden climate science pioneer.

    As the NOAA article (and others) notes, Ms Foote (she is not known to have had a degree) was also an active woman’s rights campaigner:

    Eunice Foote’s place in the scientific community, or lack thereof, weaves into the broader story of women’s rights. Seven years before her paper, Foote was present at the first Woman’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, on July 19–20, 1848. This convention is where the Declaration of Sentiments was presented, the document written by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, that demanded equality with men in social status and legal rights, including the right to vote. Eunice Foote’s name is fifth on the list of signatures on the document. (Her husband, Elisha Foote, also signed.)

      † Henry clearly thought the situation absurd (Eunice Foote, John Tyndall and a question of priority):

    Eunice Foote was disadvantaged not only by this lack of an academic community in America and poor communication with Europe, but by two further factors: her gender and her amateur status. On introducing her paper at the AAAS, according to the New York Daily Tribune, Henry commented that ‘the sphere of woman embraces not only the beautiful and the useful, but the true’, and described his admiration for the well-known mathematician and scientific author Mary Somerville. At the end, he reportedly made some ‘gallant remarks in regard to the ladies’. He was making the case for female participation in scientific research, but against the background of a resistant social culture […]

    From the NOAA article:

    Science was one of those domains where women were struggling to be heard, and Foote is among the pioneers whose work paved the way toward acceptance. A column in the September 1856 issue of Scientific American, titled “Scientific Ladies — Experiments with Condensed Gases,” began, “Some have not only entertained, but expressed the mean idea, that women do not possess the strength of mind necessary for scientific investigation.” The writer went on to describe Foote’s experiments as evidence to the contrary, concluding:

    The columns of the Scientific American have been oftentimes graced with articles on scientific subjects, by ladies, which would do honor to men of the highest scientific reputation; and the experiments of Mrs Foot [sic] afford abundant evidence of the ability of woman to investigate any subject with originality and precision.

  7. blf says

    John Kerry says we can’t leave climate emergency to ‘neanderthals’ in power:

    The former US secretary of state John Kerry has warned that humanity risks marching off a cliff unless governments take immediate action to fight the climate emergency.


    “We just can’t sit on our asses and leave the political process to neanderthals who don’t want to believe in the future,” Kerry told the [Global Table food and agriculture conference] audience in Melbourne. “We have a dearth of leadership, but this will turn.”

    The former US Democratic presidential candidate said it was not a choice between taking action on the climate emergency and securing jobs and growth.

    “They are not separate. And anybody who persists in putting forward that notion that you have to make the choice — you can either have jobs plus prosperity or you can protect the environment and the future. That’s a lie.

    “We’ve got a whole bunch of people running around trying to save the status quo — when the status quo is actually feeding a lot of jobs that don’t make sense.”

    He said the transition to carbon emission-neutral economies would create better jobs and noted that the fastest growing employment opportunities in the US were for solar power and wind power turbine technicians.

    He contrasted the growing US solar workforce of 300,000 people with the declining coal workforce of 50,000. Two years ago 75% of new electricity coming online in the US was renewable energy compared with 0.2% coal.


    Kerry said people arguing that the cost of action to fight the climate emergency was too great were not factoring in the massive storm and disaster damage bills.

    In 2017 the category five hurricanes Irma and Maria and the category four hurricane Harvey cost $265bn to clean up.

    “Wait and see what happens with Dorian,” Kerry said.


    He compared the global response to “lemmings marching off the cliff into the sea”.


    (Pedant) Lemmings don’t do that.

  8. blf says

    Houston: Islamic group hosts Sanders and Castro as rightwingers protest (Gruaniad edits in {curly braces}):

    In Houston on Saturday [31st August], an annual Islamic convention hosting presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Julian Castro braced for an armed far-right protest and a counter-demonstration.


    In the weeks leading up to the convention, the far-right, anti-Muslim Texas Patriot Network and local radio host James Doc Greene called for a demonstration against what it claimed was evidence of collusion between leftists and the Muslim Brotherhood, according to a now-defunct Facebook page.

    Informing participants that the Texans Against Radical Islam protest was open carry, the page described the Isna convention as a terrorist fundraiser and stated: Texans will stand against this tyranny.


    In response to Saturday’s anti-Muslim rally, civil rights groups, anti-racist organizations and anti-fascist activists announced a counter-protest. The coalition included the Houston Socialist Movement (HSM), the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Familias Inmigrantes y Estudiantes en la Lucha (Fiel), among others.

    The counter-demonstrators hoped to “out-shout” their counterparts, said David Michael Smith of HSM.

    “This is nothing but racism and religious bigotry on the part of the fascists,” he told the Guardian. “Beyond that, we don’t think fascists should have a platform … so we’d like to basically drive them off the streets on Saturday.”


    In 2018, Greene and the Texas Patriot Network called for a similar protest. Around two dozen far-right demonstrators came out, conclusively outnumbered by anti-racist protesters. Leaked chat logs revealed that rightwingers identified potential targets for assault, among them Smith and other demonstrators, Houston Press reported.

    On Saturday, several dozen counter-demonstrators outnumbered about 15 far-right protesters, several of whom carried firearms, from Texas Patriot Network and other rightwing groups. Dozens of officers kept the two sides separated and confined to fenced-in areas. Police also patrolled on horseback.

    Counter-demonstrators held placards declaring “Stop Islamophobia” and “Smash Fascism. Anti-Muslim demonstrators held signs that said No Sharia USA and All Women Equal USA [I just spat out my coffee… –blf].

    Greene addressed convention attendees. Welcome to Houston, home to the largest Islamic population in America,[] he repeated, through a loudspeaker.

    He and others led prayers. Many rightwingers wore pro-Trump shirts and hats and waved Make America Great Again signs.

    I am very concerned for the souls of these Muslims, [more coffee spat out…] Greene told the Guardian, so that they may also enter into the joy of being a Christian. The only policies {Trump} introduced were not anti-Muslim; they were anti-terrorist … We love the fact that he’s stopping illegal immigration. [there went the last of my coffee…]

    Greene claimed Muslim Americans attempt to blend in in US society and hide their real beliefs. He also accused hooligan Castro and crazy Bernie of being part of a communist plot.

    Around 10 demonstrators from the Westboro Baptist Church held a separate rally. Known for protesting at the funerals of soldiers and against LGBTQ events, they held signs that read God hates Islam and stomped on flags of Middle Eastern countries.

    On the anti-fascist side, a handful were armed with rifles and some wore masks.

    “No hate, no fear, Muslims are welcome here,” they chanted.


      † This is not only untrue, the eejit put it in an deliberately offensive manner. They should have said largest Muslim population, which would make it only untrue (probably). I had trouble finding consistent figures, but it seems New York City has the most Muslims with (depending on your source something between c.800,000 and c.60,000); as it so happens, that low NYC estimate of c.60,000 is also a common(?) estimate for Huston.

  9. blf says

    Bribeon is lying again — teh dummies need to seriously drop this muppet — from the Grauniad’s current live States blog (my added emboldening):

    Biden on telling false war story: The details are irrelvant [sic]

    Joe Biden again downplayed reports that he has repeatedly told a false war story on the campaign trail.

    The Washington Post reported last week that a story the former vice president likes to tell about a Navy captain refusing to accept an award for his bravery actually combines the elements of at least three different events into one anecdote.

    But the Democratic presidential candidate dismissed any notion that the error reflected badly on his leadership. That has nothing to do with judgment of whether or not you send troops to war, the judgment of whether you bring someone home, the judgment of whether you decide on a healthcare policy, Biden told NPR.

    He added: The details are irrelevant in terms of decision-making.


    Good. Decisions. Are. Not. Made. By. Ignoring. Details!
    One can get bogged down in (sidetracked) by details, or simply lost in them, so filtering is necessary. But filtering is not ignoring (irrelevant); hair furor in Wacko House and teh stooge in No 10 rather strongly show what happens when one has no grasp of, or interest in, details.

  10. blf says

    Also in the Grauniad’s current live States blog:

    Trump’s allies are trying to raise millions to bolster an effort aimed at exposing the alleged biases of mainstream journalists.

    Axios reports:

    The group claims it will slip damaging information about reporters and editors to friendly media outlets, such as Breitbart, and traditional media, if possible.

    People involved in raising the funds include GOP consultant Arthur Schwartz and the ‘loose network’ that the NY Times reported last week is targeting journalists. The operations are to be run by undisclosed others. …

    The irony: The New York Times exposed an extremely improvisational effort that had outed a Times editor for past anti-Semitic tweets. This new group is now using the exposure to try to formalize and fund the operation. …

    Under ‘Primary Targets, the pitch lists: CNN, MSNBC, all broadcast networks, NY Times, Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, and all others that routinely incorporate bias and misinformation in to their coverage. We will also track the reporters and editors of these organizations.

  11. blf says

    Hair furor profiteering from Pence’s visit to Ireland (from the Grauniad’s current live States blog):

    Trump suggested Pence stay at his Ireland golf club on official trip

    The chief of staff to Mike Pence said that Trump made a suggestion that the vice president stay at his golf club in Doonbeg, Ireland, during an official trip to the country.

    I don’t think it was a request, like a command … I think that it was a suggestion, Marc Short said. It wasn’t like a, ‘You must.’ … Keep in mind, the Secret Service has protected that facility for him, too, so they sort of know the realities, they know the logistics around that facility.

    Pence had originally planned to conclude his trip in Doonbeg, where he has familial ties. But now the vice president is traveling back and forth from Doonbeg to Dublin, which are more than an hour apart from each other by plane. [I assume helicopter is meant, using an aeroplane would be absurd –blf]

    Short said Pence was not staying at Trump’s golf club for free but refrained from offering a cost estimate for the visit, raising concerns about the president personally profiting from his office.

    For feck’s sake, the US Ambassador’s residence in Dublin (which is where I think Pence would normally stay) is the magnificent Deerfield Residence in the middle of Phoenix Park (and is easily secured), and so happens to very close to Áras an Uachtaráin, the official residence (and office?) of the Irish President (Uachtarán na hÉireann). It’s a fairly short helicopter or car ride to Dublin Castle and the government buildings — I’ve bicycled that precise route in not too much time — albeit the US Embassy is a bit further away.

  12. blf says

    Yet more from the Grauniad’s current live States blog:

    Trump once again attacked Sadiq Khan after the London mayor criticized the US president [sic] for his handling of Hurricane Dorian.

    Khan attended a ceremony in Poland this weekend to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the country’s Nazi invasion, which Trump skipped ostensibly to focus on managing storm preparations. But the president [sic] also spent time at one of his golf courses this weekend.

    “He’s clearly busy dealing with a hurricane out on the golf course,” Khan said of Trump’s absence.


    The president [sic] responded by attacking Khan as incompetent, misspelling the mayor’s first and last names in the process.

    Hair furor also hallucinated: Since my election, many trillions of dollars of worth has been created for our Country, and the Stock Market is up over 50%. (He then went on to attack Paul Krugman at the New York Times.)

    In 2016, US GDP was c.18.6 trillion dollars, now it is c.19.4 trillion. Not even one trillion, hair furor, and far less than many trillions of dollars.

    The Dow Jones was c.17,500 at the end of 2016, and is now c.26,400, which is (roughly) a 50% increase. However, as Krugman and others are pointing out, there are alarming signs of wobbles, including some classic indications of a looming recession.

  13. blf says

    More on hair furor’s “dealing with a hurricane out on the golf course”, this time from the New York Times (as quoted in the Grauniad’s current live States blog†):

    Over the long weekend, President [sic] Trump monitored Hurricane Dorian from a golf cart at his club in Virginia, calling for regular updates from an aide trailing him around the course. By 8pm Monday, as Dorian churned toward Florida and Mr Trump’s boarded-up Mar-a-Lago resort, the president had golfed twice and since Saturday morning pelted the American public with 122 tweets.

    As he has done during other hurricanes, Mr Trump awaited landfall by assuming the role of meteorologist in chief, adding weatherman-style updates to a usual weekend routine of attacking his enemies, retweeting bits of praise and critiquing the performance of his cable news allies. …

    As Dorian approached, Mr Trump switched into town-crier mode, updating the public on what he had learned — or, what he thought he’d learned — from government officials as Dorian threatened the coast of the state of Florida, where he has owned property for decades.

      † Last I checked, the NYT’s site was all-but-inaccessible to me, a mixture of (from memory) misunderstanding the EU’s privacy directive (General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)), refusing to work with ad-blockers and/or other security / privacy measures, … A distributing number of USAian sortof-reliable news sites seem to broadly be like that (all from memory, so is the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, NPR(!), …); and then there’s the LA Times, which seems to be using broked HTML, making it difficult to read specific articles. Grrrrrrr… Lots of muppets here! (And all this is before any paywalls!)

  14. tomh says

    @ #14

    Here’s the entire piece on Trump’s tweetcrap.
    President Trump, Weatherman: Dorian Updates and at Least 122 Tweets
    By Katie Rogers
    Published Sept. 2, 2019
    Updated Sept. 3, 2019, 12:20 p.m. ET

    WASHINGTON — Over the long weekend, President Trump monitored Hurricane Dorian from a golf cart at his club in Virginia, calling for regular updates from an aide trailing him around the course. By 8 p.m. Monday, as Dorian churned toward Florida and Mr. Trump’s boarded-up Mar-a-Lago resort, the president had golfed twice and since Saturday morning pelted the American public with 122 tweets.

    As he has done during other hurricanes, Mr. Trump awaited landfall by assuming the role of meteorologist in chief, adding weatherman-style updates to a usual weekend routine of attacking his enemies, retweeting bits of praise and critiquing the performance of his cable news allies.

    Starting with his first weekend tweet at 7:45 a.m. Saturday, Mr. Trump’s Dorian-related tweets were delivered with the speed of a hailstorm.

    With his reality-show approach to the presidency, Mr. Trump has a habit of weighing in on the day’s most-covered news stories with his own running commentary. As Dorian approached, Mr. Trump switched into town-crier mode, updating the public on what he had learned — or, what he thought he’d learned — from government officials as Dorian threatened the coast of the state of Florida, where he has owned property for decades.

    “In addition to Florida — South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” Mr. Trump wrote in a tweet shortly after departing Camp David for Washington on Sunday morning. “Looking like one of the largest hurricanes ever. Already category 5. BE CAREFUL! GOD BLESS EVERYONE!”

    Mr. Trump’s commentary on the hurricane was not wholly accurate. The National Weather Service quickly walked back one of his assertions: “We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama,” officials said on Twitter.

    Always eager to have the last word, Mr. Trump on Monday attacked an ABC reporter who said the president had wrongly inserted Alabama in the list of states.

    “Always good to be prepared!” Mr. Trump wrote by way of explanation.

    But the president’s concern for Florida, a state of political and personal importance to him, did not seem to waver going into the weekend. On Friday, he took questions from reporters about the ability of Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach, Fla., estate, to withstand the winds.

    “Yeah, it would look like Mar-a-Lago is dead center,” Mr. Trump said. “But, look, Mar-a-Lago can handle itself. That’s a very powerful place.”

    As Dorian grew in size and strength, Mr. Trump appeared to marvel at the storm’s sheer capacity for devastation: “Being hit like never before, Category 5. Almost 200 MPH winds,” the president tweeted on Sunday. Earlier, during a hurricane briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters, Mr. Trump expressed disbelief bordering on reverence for Dorian’s Category 5 status, the highest degree measured by meteorologists on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale.

    “A Category 5 is something that I don’t know that I’ve even heard the term, other than I know it’s there. That’s the ultimate.”

    Curiously, Mr. Trump has claimed before that neither he nor weather experts had ever heard of or experienced a Category 5. He was speaking specifically about Hurricane Irma in Florida and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, both in September 2017, and both classified as Category 5.

    The Capital Weather Gang, a group of weather experts at The Washington Post, took issue on Monday with Mr. Trump’s remarks.

    “Although it might seem like a harmless curiosity or blind spot, Trump’s self-professed ignorance of Category 5 monsters could slow the government’s response to such disasters,” an editor, Andrew Freedman, wrote, “or contribute to confusion at the highest levels of government as well as among people in harm’s way.”

    The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday about Mr. Trump’s knowledge of Category 5 storms, or about Mr. Trump’s preparation efforts in general.

    Mr. Trump, like other occupants of the Oval Office, appears to understand that national weather catastrophes demand White House attention and can damage a presidency if not handled well. Julian E. Zelizer, a presidential historian, pointed out that presidents have generally fallen into two categories: those who can transcend politics to speak to an entire nation when a storm threatens, and those who have foundered.

    Mr. Zelizer said that President Lyndon B. Johnson had set a modern precedent for storm response in 1965 when he visited with victims of Hurricane Betsy, a Category 4 storm that killed 75 people in New Orleans. Stunned by what he saw on the ground, and declaring that “red tape be cut,” Mr. Johnson personally oversaw the recovery operation.

    President George W. Bush, on the other hand, called criticism of his administration’s slow-moving response to Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 storm that killed more than 1,833 people in New Orleans, one of the worst moments of his presidency.

    “Trump is a different category,” Mr. Zelizer said in an interview, “in that it’s not even that he’s not doing enough or the right thing. It’s almost as if he doesn’t want this role at all, and he has no interest in stopping his traditional, normal tweet storms.”

    True to form, Mr. Trump created his own mini-tsumani of content as the storm drew nearer. Inside the White House, Mr. Trump’s aides say that this behavior represents an accessible, transparent and interested president using his platform to send important updates directly to the American people.

    But then there’s what that actually looks like in practice: dozens of updates about the storm, both in person and on Twitter, but mixed in with comments about the trade war with China, his annoyance with the actress Debra Messing and ever more complaints about the F.B.I. director he fired, James Comey.

    In several of his updates, Mr. Trump personally assured the communities in several states vulnerable to Hurricane Dorian that help would be on the way should they need it.

    In the days before Dorian made landfall, Mr. Trump filmed and distributed a video from the White House Rose Garden in which he again remarked on the size and strength of the storm. The video continued a tradition from last September, when Mr. Trump decided to comment on Hurricane Florence as the storm approached the Carolinas.

    In a video, he called that storm, a Category 4, “one of the wettest we’ve ever seen, from the standpoint of water.”

    This time, his commentary on Dorian — which he called an “absolute monster” — was similarly matter-of-fact and very nearly awe-struck.

    “It may be that you’re going to evacuate,” Mr. Trump said into the camera as images of the storm were interspersed into the video. “We’re going to see what happens. We’re waiting. It does seem almost certain that it’s hitting dead center.”

    He paused before continuing with his forecast: “And that’s not good.”

  15. lumipuna says

    Hair furor also hallucinated: “Since my election, many trillions of dollars of worth has been created for our Country, and the Stock Market is up over 50%.” (He then went on to attack Paul Krugman at the New York Times.)

    In 2016, US GDP was c.18.6 trillion dollars, now it is c.19.4 trillion. Not even one trillion, hair furor, and far less than “many trillions of dollars”.

    What the heck does it even mean to create “net worth” for a country? Someone tell me this term is somehow relevant to national economy, and not a case of him totally forgetting he’s not running a business here.

  16. blf says

    About a week ago, Palestinian Harvard student says he was barred from US over friends’ social media posts :

    A Palestinian teenager admitted to Harvard said he was detained for hours at Boston’s airport and refused entry into the United States after officers disapproved of his friends’ political comments on social media.


    After five hours of searching his phone and laptop, [Ismai] Ajjawi said that an officer called him into a room and “started screaming at me”

    “She said that she found people posting political points of view that oppose the US on my friend(s’) list,” he said in the statement to the Crimson.

    The 17-year-old said that he protested that the comments came from friends and that he never posted his own political views but said his visa was nonetheless canceled and he was sent home.


    However, good news today, Palestinian student to start classes at Harvard days after being barred from US:

    A Palestinian student who was denied entry to the US just days before he was scheduled to start classes at Harvard has been admitted to the country.

    The family of Ismail Ajjawi said in a statement on Monday that it appreciated the efforts of all of the people who helped him.


    A non-profit that awarded Ajjawi a scholarship said the US embassy in Beirut reviewed his case and reissued his visa.

  17. says

    Crowd size? Almost non-existent.

    Donald Trump Jr. touts Bevin to a mostly-empty arena in Kentucky coal country. That’s a Kentucky Lexington Herald Leader link.

    Donald Trump Jr. spoke to a mostly-empty arena in Pikeville Thursday afternoon, hoping to muster support within a historically Democratic county for the reelection of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin.

    Like much of Eastern Kentucky, Pike County has long been a Democratic stronghold, but swung to the right during the last presidential election in a landslide victory for President Donald Trump. […]

    Satisfying photo of nearly-empty arena at the link.

  18. says

    John Bolton is in trouble. I never wanted to see him in the White House in the first place, but this most recent trouble is, unfortunately, an indicator of even more incompetence and dysfunction in the Trump administration.

    From the Washington Post:

    As the president’s top aides prepared for a high-stakes meeting on the future of Afghanistan earlier this month, one senior official was not on the original invite list: national security adviser John Bolton.

    The attendance of the top security aide would normally be critical, but the omission was no mistake, senior U.S. officials said. Bolton, who has long advocated an expansive military presence around the world, has become a staunch internal foe of an emerging peace deal aimed at ending America’s longest war, the officials said.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] According to the Post’s report, Bolton asked for a copy of the draft agreement the United States is trying to strike with the Taliban, but his request was denied: “]T]he U.S. envoy leading the negotiations, Zalmay Khalilzad, denied the request, saying Bolton could read the agreement in the presence of a senior official but not leave with it in hand, U.S. officials said.”

    […] if Bolton has been sidelined to such a degree that officials are keeping him in the dark on major national security questions, for all intents and purposes, he’s not actually doing the job anymore.

    In a functioning modern White House, the national security adviser is integral to the process through which a president and his/her team make decisions related to foreign policy, intelligence, and national security.

    Just when it seemed the dysfunction on Team Trump couldn’t get worse, these guys manage to kick things up a notch.


  19. says

    About damned time:

    The Trump administration on Monday announced that it would reconsider its decision to force immigrants facing life-threatening health crises to return to their home countries, an abrupt move last month that generated public outrage and was roundly condemned by the medical establishment. […]

    On Monday, the agency said in a statement that while limiting the program was “appropriate,” officials would “complete the caseload that was pending on August 7.”

    NY Times link

    Questions, as posted on The Maddow Blog:

    1. Exactly who was it who thought deporting sick children would be a good idea? What problem was the administration trying to solve? Who did officials think would benefit from such a policy?

    2. Who will lose their jobs in the Trump administration for making this threat?

    3. Under the old policy, these families have to renew their deferred status every two years, and it was last month that the administration said it would no longer consider additional renewals. I’m glad those families who are in the United States under “medical deferred action” won’t be forced out, but the administration hasn’t given any details about the future of the program. Going forward, will other sick kids be welcomed to American facilities for treatment?

  20. says

    Whacko Hair Furor demonstrated his increasing mental disability:

    […] Over the weekend, Trump’s preparation for Dorian featured a few key curiosities. First, the president published a tweet including Alabama among the states “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Twenty minutes later, the National Weather Service, while not referencing Trump specifically, published a tweet of its own, telling the public, “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”

    When news outlets noted the president’s error, Trump took great offense, insisting he was right, reality notwithstanding.

    Second, as the deadly storm drew closer and began to wreak havoc on the Bahamas, the president had a Festivus-like airing of grievances, complaining about Debra Messing, AFL–CIO President Richard Trumka, four progressive congresswomen of color, and news organizations.

    And then, of course, there was his unexplained unfamiliarity with Category 5 hurricanes.

    President Donald Trump said Sunday that he’s “not sure that (he’s) ever even heard of a Category 5” hurricane, despite four such storms – including Hurricane Dorian – having threatened the US since he took office.

    “We don’t even know what’s coming at us. All we know is it’s possibly the biggest. I have – I’m not sure that I’ve ever even heard of a Category 5. I knew it existed. And I’ve seen some Category 4’s – you don’t even see them that much,” Trump said at a briefing with officials at FEMA’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

    “But a Category 5 is something that – I don’t know that I’ve ever even heard the term other than I know it’s there.”

    If the rhetoric seemed familiar, it wasn’t your imagination. It was two years ago this month when Trump first said, “I never even know a Category 5 existed.” The president has repeated the line and similar phrases several times since, including at an event four months ago.

    It’s routinely difficult to know whether Trump genuinely believes what he’s saying, though in this case, if he keeps saying he’s never heard of a Category 5 hurricane, after repeatedly being made aware of Category 5 hurricanes, it doesn’t reflect well on the president’s ability to learn and remember new information.

    But circling back to a point we discussed a couple of years ago, I also wonder if this is part of a clumsy effort at self-aggrandizement. As a Washington Post piece put in 2017, “By focusing on the historic epicness of the hurricane, Trump has repeatedly turned attention to his role in confronting the disaster.”

    Or put another way, in Trump’s mind, previous presidents – mere mortals – may have had to deal with smaller, regular ol’ hurricanes, but it falls on the shoulders of true giants of history to deal with the challenges of major hurricanes.


    Nice bit of sarcasm in that last paragraph.

    Much of this addled-Trump-brain evidence was already posted up-thread, but I thought it would be useful to gather more of the details in one place. Trump’s mind is not functioning properly.

  21. says

    Well, in one way, Mitch McConnell is right: Trump cannot be trusted to mean, (or to follow up on), anything he says about gun control legislation.

    […] In an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday — days after another mass shooting in Odessa, Texas, left at least seven people dead — McConnell made it clear he doesn’t believe Trump’s public statements mean much of anything. McConnell said he would wait and see where the president landed before committing to anything.

    The self-described Senate “grim reaper” typically blocks all legislation from even coming up for a vote, and said that a “discussion about what to do on the gun issue in the wake of these horrendous shootings” is ongoing.

    “I said several weeks ago that if the president took a position on the bill so that we knew we would actually be making a law and not just having serial votes, I’d be happy to put it on the floor,” McConnell said. “The administration is in the process of studying what they’re prepared to support, if anything, and I expect to get an answer to that this week. If the president is in favor of a number of things he has discussed openly and publicly and I know we will pass it and it’ll become law, I’ll put it on the floor.” […]


  22. blf says

    A few more details about Palestinian student at Harvard allowed US entry on second attempt (follow-up to @17):

    [… Ismail] Ajjawi is among 54 Palestinians who were awarded the Hope Fund undergraduate scholarship by US non-profit Amideast to study in various US institutions this year.


    The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) called him a “beacon of hope” for hundreds of thousands of young Palestinians.


    Ajjawi grew up in a refugee camp in southern Lebanon. He graduated from the Deir Yassin High School, which is run by UNRWA in the city of Tyre.

    He aims to study physical and chemical biology at Harvard and pursue a career in medicine, according to UNRWA and Amideast.


    Elsa Auerbach, member of advocacy group Jewish Voice for Peace Boston, told Al Jazeera that Ajjawi’s case was “one more act of aggression by the current US administration”.


    In June, the US State Department announced new visa rules requiring nearly all new applicants to submit five years’ worth of social media details.

    A bit more on that last tidbit, which I didn’t know and don’t recall seeing mentioned, Trump administration to ask most US visa applicants for social media information:

    Most visa applicants, including temporary visitors, will be required to list their social media identifiers in a drop down menu along with other personal information.

    Applicants will have the option to say that they do not use social media if that is the case. The official noted that if a visa applicant lies about social media use that they could face “serious immigration consequences” as a result.

    For now, the drop down menu only includes major social media websites, but the official said applicants soon will be able to list all sites that they use.


    The social media identifiers will be incorporated into a background check review against watchlists generated by the US government.

    Applicants will also be required in the future to turn more extensive information on their travel history.


    The BBC is more specific, US demands social media details from visa applicants:

    The State Department regulations say people will have to submit social media names and five years’ worth of email addresses and phone numbers.

    [… P]eople travelling to the US to work or to study will have to hand over their information.


    Previously, only applicants who needed additional vetting — such as people who had been to parts of the world controlled by terrorist groups — would need to hand over this data.

    But now applicants will have to give up their account names on a list of social media platforms, and also volunteer the details of their accounts on any sites not listed.


    The Trump administration first proposed the rules [extreme vetting –blf] in March 2018.

    At the time, the American Civil Liberties Union […] said there is “no evidence that such social media monitoring is effective or fair”, and said it would cause people to self-censor themselves online.


  23. says

    In text quoted by blf in comment 23: “Previously, only applicants who needed additional vetting — such as people who had been to parts of the world controlled by terrorist groups — would need to hand over this data.”

    That part makes sense. The rest of the Trump administration’s social media info demands are bullshit. And here’s a question: who reviews five years (five years!) worth of social media, email addresses and phone numbers for each visa applicant?

  24. says

    How to Stop Russia From Attacking and Influencing the 2020 Election

    A new report offers a roadmap. If only Trump gave a damn.

    The Russians are coming.

    That’s the message about the 2020 election from FBI Director Chris Wray (who this summer said Moscow is determined to interfere in the next presidential contest) and from former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats (who warned that Vladimir Putin’s regime and other foreign actors will concoct new methods for messing with American politics in 2020).

    […] Trump and his administration have done little to signal that thwarting another […] Trump, who has never fully acknowledged Putin’s attack in 2016, recently noted that he would accept secret help, in the form of dirt on a political rival, from a foreign government for his reelection campaign. That remark, his call to allow Russia to reenter the G8, and his general Russia-didn’t-do-anything stance certainly send a signal to Putin: Feel free to do it again. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has blocked votes on a variety of election security bills.

    […] A new report released by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, chronicles what other Western governments have done to counter Moscow’s efforts and outlines steps that could be adopted in the United States […]

    The study, written by James Lamond and Talia Dessel, notes that “Russia is consistently shifting and updating its interference tactics, making it even harder to protect future elections,” and the paper examines several case studies of Russian intervention since the 2016 election. […]

    Moscow’s information warfare in these cases had mixed results. Despite what the report calls “perhaps the most expansive foreign interference campaign Russia launched since the 2016 American election,” Macron decisively vanquished Le Pen. […] The European Parliament election resulted in small gains for the anti-EU parties likely favored by Moscow but it yielded less of an anti-EU wave than widely expected.

    In each of these instances, the CAP report details, governing forces took actions to foil Russia’s attempts at undermining democracy. […] Various media outlets and Google implemented fact-checking projects to counter disinformation. And a traditional media blackout—imposed in the final days of French campaigns—prevented the widespread dissemination of hacked material that was leaked with the intention of harming Macron. Throughout the campaign, the government and Macron’s campaign constantly informed the public of the threat of foreign intervention. […]

    The first lesson: “A forceful government response is the most important deterrent and mitigating factor.” And that would entail sending Moscow a “clear, bipartisan message” to keep away or risk severe punishment, including tough sanctions

    Lesson two: Develop situational awareness among voters. As the authors put it, “Public awareness about foreign influence campaigns is perhaps the single most important defense against such interference and an essential tool toward building a resilient democracy.”

    The paper recommends that Congress hold hearings to highlight how Russia supports fringe political outfits around the world and that legislators should require the government to notify the public when foreign interference in American politics is detected.

    CAP also calls for media outlets to “refuse to quote stolen material that clearly has been released as part of an influence operation by a foreign power, as this creates a reward or incentive for Russia to hack and release stolen information.” It urges the adoption of a paper-ballot system and stricter regulation of foreign money in US political campaigns. […]

    Much more at the link.

  25. says

    Hurricane Dorian update:

    Hurricane Dorian hit Grand Bahama Island as an incredibly powerful Category 5 hurricane on Sunday night with howling 185 mile-per-hour winds. And then, it basically camped on the island. Dorian was moving to the west at just 1 mile per hour, subjecting Grand Bahama to nearly two full days of intense hurricane conditions. Wind gusts blew in excess of 200 mph — which is strong enough to blow a roof off a house. The storm generated 18-to-23 feet of coastal flooding. More than two feet of rain fell.

    […] the storm’s eyewall remained over the island for 41 hours). It’s as though an enormous tornado inched its way through at a pace much slower than walking. It’s just now, Tuesday afternoon, that the storm’s reach is beginning to clear the island. […]

    About 70,000 people live in Grand Bahama and in the Abacos. The UN estimates 61,000 of them will need food assistance. The AP reports that Grand Bahama’s main hospital is “unusable” after being flooded. […]

    As of Tuesday afternoon, the storm had weakened, sustaining 110 mph winds, making it a strong Category 2 hurricane. (Major hurricanes are Category 3 and higher.) It’s still a dangerous situation.


  26. says

    From Wonkette:

    Officials said Monday that the gunman who killed seven people and injured 25 in a Texas highway shooting rampage Saturday had previously been stopped from purchasing a gun because he failed a federal instant background check. No details were given on why he had failed that background check, or how he obtained the AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle he used in the mass shooting. We’re going to go way out on a limb and guess maybe he bought it in a private sale, which in Texas is not subject to background checks, because Texas believes in freedom. […]

    Just as long as the something we do doesn’t include strengthening background checks or extending them to cover private gun transfers, because either of those measures would inconvenience Responsible Gun Owners. Besides, even if we expanded background checks, this guy was a criminal who got a gun anyway, so background checks can never work […]

    This seems like a good place to point out a couple of pretty obvious points: 1) No gun control law will ever stop all shootings. Not in a country with more guns than people. The genie is well out of the toothpaste tube, so we can never seal that barn. 2) Tighter background checks, and a national system of firearms licensing and registration like those proposed by Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, would have made it a hell of a lot harder for a guy planning a massacre to get his murder weapon.

    […] even if laws prevent some massacres, they’re still bad. Besides, every country with firearms registration has then gone on to confiscate all guns and institute tyranny, except for the places where that hasn’t happened, but it will, because it always does. Just ask people in the fascist death camps of Canada and Australia.

    The Texas Tribune notes that, under Texas’s current laws, the gunman’s known criminal record wouldn’t have prevented him from buying a gun:

    The Austin American-Statesman reported that the gunman was arrested for evading arrest and criminal trespass in McLennan County in 2001, when he was 18, and received deferred adjudication — a form of probation — after pleading guilty to both misdemeanor charges. In Texas, only convictions for felonies or domestic violence misdemeanors block people from legally buying a gun […]

    In Texas, licensed dealers must conduct background checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. However, there are exceptions to this rule, such as if the buyer already has a Texas license to carry a handgun. Private sales between individuals also do not require a criminal background check, which includes some gun sales at gun shows.

    Only a crazy person would think stronger background checks might help, obviously, which is why it must remain legal for private sellers to trade weapons without interference.[…]

  27. says

    Democratic presidential primary update, with new polling:

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s support jumped up in a new poll, cutting into former Vice President Joe Biden’s lead in the Democratic presidential primary.

    Warren had the support of 24 percent of registered Democrats and Democratic-leaning independent voters, based on an IBD/TIPP poll released Tuesday, marking a 7-point uptick for the senator since an August poll.

    By contrast, Biden saw a 2 point decrease in his support, leaving it at 28 percent. He now leads Warren by just 4 points, compared to a 13 point difference in the previous poll. […]

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) remains in third with the support of 12 percent of those surveyed, consistent with last month’s poll, while Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-Calif.) support dropped 5 points, from 11 percent to 6 percent. […]

    The poll reflects 903 responses collected from Aug. 22-30. There is a margin of error of 3.3 percentage points. The questions regarding the 2020 election reflect 360 registered voters who identify as Democrats or independents who lean Democrat.


  28. says

    Republicans lost another court case:

    On Tuesday, a three-judge panel delivered a major blow against Republican gerrymandering when it struck down North Carolina’s state Senate and state House districts for violating the rights of Democratic voters.

    The state court ruled that these maps, designed to entrench Republican rule, ran afoul of the state constitution’s guarantee of free and fair elections. These illegal districts were so extreme that they helped Republicans to maintain their legislative majorities in 2018’s elections even though Democratic candidates won more votes statewide. […]

    Importantly, because this case was litigated solely under North Carolina’s state constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this year that the U.S. Constitution prohibits challenges to partisan gerrymandering did not present an obstacle to the plaintiffs. And for the same reason, this decision should be insulated from federal review, much like a ruling from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court last year that replaced a Republican congressional gerrymander with a much fairer map.

    If this ruling stands up on appeal, North Carolina will soon have new legislative maps. The lower court gave the GOP-run legislature until Sept. 18 to draw legal districts for use in 2020, but ever since they gained full control of state government in 2013, Republicans have demonstrated a flagrant disregard for the rule of law that should weigh heavily as the courts decide whether to grant the GOP another shot.

    In handing down their ruling, the judges announced that they would immediately appoint a nonpartisan expert to assist them in reviewing any replacement maps to ensure they pass muster—or to draw maps of their own should the GOP’s efforts prove unconstitutional yet again.

    In fact, during the past six years, Republicans have lost nearly two dozen lawsuits due to their undemocratic attempts to seize power from the public, including repeated losses in cases concerning gerrymandering. Those defeats even include a previous lawsuit over these very same legislative maps, which were redrawn for the 2018 election cycle after they were twice struck for discriminating against black voters. […]


    This a battle for fairness, a fight that has to be fought over and over again.

  29. says

    NRA melts down over Walmart decision to reduce its ammo sales

    The gun-rights group is angry that in a free market, sometimes people choose not to arm mass shooters.

    […] Walmart faced considerable pressure from its own employees and customers to reduce or eliminate the sale of guns and ammunition in light of the latest deadly mass shootings. Stores in El Paso, Texas, and in Mississippi last month were the latest Walmart locations to be home to such attacks.

    After making the announcement, the NRA quickly called the company’s decision a “shameful” cave to the “pressure of the anti-gun elites.”

    The NRA wrote that the “strongest defense of freedom has always been our free market economy.” But apparently, their support for the free market does not include companies getting to choose which goods and services to sell.

  30. KG says

    The result of the latest Commons attempt to take control of the order paper to introduce a no-no-deal bill is expected in about 10 minutes. It seems likely the Cummings-Johnson will be defeated. If so, the “Benn bill” mandating it to ask for an extension if no new deal is reached by 19th October (which it won’t be, if only because the junta doesn’t want one) will be debated tomorrow.

  31. says

    Update – Guardian – “M5S members vote overwhelmingly in favour of Italy coalition”:

    Members of Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) have overwhelmingly backed a coalition with the centre-left Democratic party (PD) in an online vote, giving the final backing to a deal between traditional foes intended to pull Italy out of a political crisis.

    The prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, had been tasked with securing a pact between the two parties after Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right League, collapsed its coalition with M5S in an attempt to force snap elections in which he hoped to capitalise on his recent popularity.

    M5S, which largely built itself online, required its members to endorse the coalition through a vote on the party’s Rousseau website.

    The M5S leader, Luigi Di Maio, said he believed the political crisis was now over.

    Of the 100,000 M5S members, 79.3% of those signed up to the website answered yes to governing with the PD. Conte delivered a speech to M5S members on Monday in which he tried to convince them to vote in favour, telling them: “I understand your concerns. But I’d also like to remind you that, before the elections, last year the M5S said they were ready to join any political force that was ready to carry out the movement’s political agenda. Today, we have a great chance to change this country.”

    The parties on Tuesday published a 26-point programme that would underpin the planned government. At the top of the list was a commitment to use the forthcoming budget to help stimulate economic growth, but also a promise that it would not endanger public finances.

    Italy has the second-largest debt burden in the EU as a proportion of economic output, and the pact called for greater flexibility from Brussels to overcome the “excessive rigidity” of existing budget rules.

    Emphasising social justice, the two parties pledged to introduce a minimum salary, avoid a planned VAT sales rise and boost spending on education, research and welfare. The programme also called for a web tax on multinationals and the creation of a public bank to help boost development in the south.

    Conte is expected to draw up a list of ministers by Friday. By this time next week, the new government could already be settled in Rome, with Salvini forced to watch from the opposition benches.

  32. KG says

    People are seeking any precedent for a PM losing their very first Commons vote! Johnson is now tabling a bill for an election, but the opposition parties have said they want the no-no-deal bill passed first – a 2/3 majority of all MPs is required for an early election unless there has been a vote of no confidence.

  33. says

    This douche.

    From the G:

    Tory rebels given second chance to prove loyalty tomorrow before losing whip, says Leadsom

    Andrea Leadsom, the business secretary, has signalled that the Tory rebels will not have the whip removed immediately. In an interview with BBC, she said that she hoped that the MPs who voted against the government would “reconsider overnight” and decide to vote with the government to defeat the bill tomorrow. Asked if they would lose the whip immediately, she said they wouldn’t. They would get a second chance, she said.

  34. KG says

    Two Labour MPs (Kate Hoey and John Mann) and one independent ex-Labour (Ian Austin) voted with the junta.

  35. says

    Update!: “Andrea Leadsom, the business secretary, was wrong when she said earlier that the Tory rebels would be given a second chance before they had the whip removed, the BBC’s Vicki Young reports.”

  36. says

    G liveblog:

    Mark Spencer, the chief whip, has been ringing the Tory rebels telling them they are having the whip withdrawn, we’ve been told. Philip Hammond, the former chancellor, has already had the call. As of now, he is technically no longer a Conservative MP.

    This is from a source close to the rebel Tories.

    Tonight’s decisive result is the first step in a process to avert an undemocratic and damaging no deal. No 10 have responded by removing the whip from two former chancellors, a former lord chancellor and Winston Churchill’s grandson. What has has happened to the Conservative party?

  37. says

    TPM – “Amash Reveals The Episode That Helped Push Him Away From The GOP”:

    New details have emerged on what led to Rep. Justin Amash’s (I-MI) formal withdrawal from the Republican Party in July.

    According to a Washington Post report out Tuesday, the spat between President Donald Trump and Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), a fellow House Freedom Caucus member and unapologetic Trump critic, forced Amash to reconsider what it meant to be part of the party.

    During a meeting with Republican congressmen in late June, the President had sarcastically congratulated Sanford — who wasn’t in attendance — “on running a great race” after losing his primary to a Trump-aligned GOP candidate. That same night, Sanford found out what Trump had said and learned that Amash had his back during a dinner with fellow Freedom Caucus members.

    “Justin said, ‘We have to defend Mark, because if he goes after him, he could go after any of us,’” Sanford told the Post. “Everyone else there, well, they just kinda stared at their toenails.”

    As the Post noted, Freedom Caucus founding member Mick Mulvaney is now Trump’s acting chief of staff and budget director, and Reps. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) have become some of the President’s most vehement defenders.

    Amash left that dinner frustrated as he realized that the Freedom Caucus was just another group of Trump cheerleaders, the Post reported. Up until then, Amash had felt that the Caucus had more of a backbone, especially when its members would criticize Barack Obama on spending and what they felt was executive overreach.

    He told the Post that it’s all basically “performance art” and that he was not shocked that his fellow Caucus members turned toward Trump as a way to “survive until the next season.” Amash added that most would be surprised by what these same people say about the President off-camera….

  38. blf says

    SC@32, “It’s something to see in real time.” Indeed, I was monitoring it via the Grauniad’s live blog on my mobile all through dinner (at the local Indian restaurant), and then at the bar with a few celebratory drams, congratulating Johnson on his perfect record as PM in the commons.

    In response to his babbling and then this (image), it was pointed out Jacob Rees-Muppet “was a great recruiting sergeant” for the winning vote against the junta.

  39. says

    …and then at the bar with a few celebratory drams, congratulating Johnson on his perfect record as PM in the commons.

    You and all of the other protesters deserve a celebration.

  40. blf says

    SC@50, Thanks, albeit KG and others who have actually been physically present at some of the demonstrations / marches — and other concrete actions — are perhaps more effective than a person suffering penguins (well, a certain penguin) ranting in another country.

    In that other country (loosely speaking), EU to declare a no-deal Brexit a major natural disaster (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    The EU executive will on Wednesday call for the release of nearly €600m (£544m) from an emergency fund for storms and earthquakes as it declares Brexit could be a “major disaster”.

    The European commission will propose dipping into a solidarity fund created in 2002 to help member states deal with natural disasters such as floods, storms, volcanic eruptions and forest fires.

    Brexit is a “singular event” that “could constitute a major disaster and therefore the activation of the solidarity principle, which is the core of the {fund}, would be justified,” states a copy of the proposal seen by the Guardian.


    Member states from the 27 governments will have to approve the revised spending plans before the end of October.

    The proposal highlights the contrast between the preparations being made by the EU and those of the UK government, which has been criticised for underplaying the likely economic damage caused by no deal.

    The Irish government has already been promised extra cash if the UK crashes out without a deal. The country’s central bank warned this year that a no-deal Brexit could result in 34,000 fewer jobs in Ireland by the end of next year and more than 100,000 over the medium term.


    Johnson’s chief EU adviser, David Frost, is expected in Brussels on Wednesday and Friday. The prime minister is insisting that the EU removes the Irish backstop from the withdrawal agreement but the UK government is yet to offer any alternative plan for avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.

    The prime minister has instead claimed that the British government will not pay its £39bn divorce bill unless a new deal is negotiated and ratified.

    The EU responded that such move would stymie any hope of talks on a free trade deal in the foreseeable future.

    [Austria’s foreign minister Alexander] Schallenberg said: “We expect — and I underline this in triplicate — that the United Kingdom will fully meet its financial obligations as a member, whether or not there is a hard Brexit.

    “The UK will also have to consider what kind of signal that would be for future contractors outside the EU if it ignores its obligations as soon as things get tough.”

    Plus, the US is (one of?) the guaranteers of the Good Friday Agreement (this is an aspect of the GFA I know nothing about), and Pelosi, et al., are insisting the GFA cannot be jeopardised (which includes, but is not limited to, no hard border on the island of Ireland), Nancy Pelosi: No US-UK trade deal if Brexit risks Good Friday accord.

  41. blf says

    SC, And apologies from me, I didn’t see your @51 before my @53. Yes, KG, et al., deserve a dram or whatever of whatever.

    Of course, nothing’s nailed down yet…

  42. says

    Netanyahu, Trump in intensive talks for dramatic diplomatic gesture in coming days, ahead of Israeli election.”

    All these two corrupt bozos have left is the destructive propaganda circus. US-Israeli “intensive talks” now involve orchestrating some insane spectacle. It’s about as far from serious diplomacy as you can get.

    Shut down the circus.

  43. says

    So no one had heard from him for like two fucking days…Josh Morgerman, “hardcore hurricane chaser”:

    Yep, I’m alive. Made it to Nassau. #Hurricane #DORIAN: By far the most intense cyclone I’ve witnessed in 28 years of chasing. Thought I was playing it safe by riding it out in a solid-concrete school on a hill in Marsh Harbour. Thought wrong.

    Winds pounded the building with the force of a thousand sledgehammers. Crept out during eye to find school mostly destroyed, cars in parking lot thrown around & mutilated. Barometer said 913.4 mb.

    Frantically piled into few functioning cars (one of them mine) & relocated to government complex before backside struck. Building filled with terrorized refugees, many who had swam to safety or abandoned collapsed houses. The calm eye saved lives—gave victims chance to relocate.

    Whole neighborhoods were swept by mighty surge higher than anything in memory. Areas above water had catastrophic wind damage. Many deaths reported from drowning, flying debris, & collapsing houses. Medical clinic overwhelmed. An absolute catastrophe. SEND HELP TO ABACO ISLANDS.

    I might have mentioned here that I recently read Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938 and Isaac’s Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History. The descriptions from the people going through it in the Bahamas were exactly like those of the people who survived those two disasters. Everything we know about climate change points to more and more of this. We cannot accept it as the new normal.

  44. says

    Now: Trump White House must restore Brian Karem’s press pass, judge orders

    ‘Even the temporary suspension of his pass inflicts irreparable harm on his First Amendment rights’, DC Judge Rudolph Contreras writes. Full opinion:…”

  45. says

    NEW: Odessa mass shooter purchased his weapon in a private sale, which doesn’t require a background check, law enforcement officials tell @NBCNews.

    He failed a background check in 2014, the officials add.”

  46. blf says

    John Crace in the Gruaniad snarks on the events in teh NKofE, Clown Prince Johnson cowers in the face of the Rebel Alliance:

    Obi Wan Bercow sanctions emergency debate that paves way for Johnson to be UK’s shortest-serving PM

    Boris Johnson blustered. It’s now a default setting. After a three-hour emergency debate that ended just before 10pm and was most notable for Jacob Rees-Mogg lying horizontal on the benches and howling for nanny while MPs responded to his sneers with icy contempt, the vote had been a formality.

    Twenty-one Tory MPs, including Ken Clarke, Philip Hammond and Nicholas Soames, who had served their country with an honour and integrity to which Boris could only aspire, had been as good as their word and put country before self: their political careers ended by backing a motion ruling out a no-deal Brexit their party had always said it didn’t want. Johnson had played one, lost one. A 100% record.

    Pifflepafflewifflewaffle, yelled Johnson, after the defeat had been declared by Obi Wan Bercow, the Rebel Alliance’s Jedi knight. […]

    He pleaded for the election he said he didn’t want, but none of the opposition leaders obliged. Thanks, but no thanks. The prime minister could go whistle. If it was all the same to Boris, they’d wait until Her Maj had signed off the bill before going to the polls. His reputation for dishonesty preceded him. […]

    This was just the final humiliation in a day full of them. There are shitshows and there are shitshows. But the afternoon’s was something else. If there have been worse performances from a prime minister at the dispatch box in the last five years, no one could remember them. Much more of this and letters will be piling up in the 1922 Committee demanding the return of Theresa May. This was the day Boris Johnson was stripped bare. Exposed as the Great Pretender. A mere carapace of vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself and falls on th’other.

    [… Nasty party MPs] had been promised a new Churchill. Instead they had an amoral chancer who was planning to deselect Churchill’s grandson for doing what he himself had done on two occasions just months previously. They had been promised a Clown Prince. Someone who could charm both the party and country. They had been landed with a music-hall act who was long past his sell-by date. An amateur stand-up who would be booed off stage within seconds at the Edinburgh Fringe.

    We are on the verge of taking back control, Johnson began. Just as Tory MP, Phillip Lee, rose from the Tory benches and crossed the floor of the house to join the Lib Dems. In that moment the Tories had lost their majority. Taking back control now looked rather like losing it completely. The crown had just got even more hollow.


    Being prime minister required more than arrogance and bullshit. More than a quick read of Game Theory for Dommies. It involved both clarity of thought and responsibility. Neither of which had ever been his strong suit. He mumbled and bumbled, waving his arms at random. Even his own front bench looked embarrassed when he started accusing the opposition and Tory rebels of being collaborators.

    It went further downhill for Johnson when Jeremy Corbyn, who is rapidly looking more and more statesmanlike just by not being Boris, and MPs from all sides of the house cut through the waffle and demanded real answers. […]

    Why was he being dishonest about the real reason for the lengthy prorogation? If he was making such good progress towards getting a deal, how come he couldn’t provide any details? Why wouldn’t he reveal the risks of a no-deal Brexit? And would his government be bound by the rule of law? Johnson only had more bluster.

    Forget the noises from the EU who were insisting that the UK had come up with no new proposals. He had loads of cunning plans. There was a meeting of the Alternative Arrangements Committee in Dundalk next week to which two lorry drivers and a badger were coming. […]

    […] His one known talent is for lying. Even when he eventually whispered something about being bound by the rule of law, no one believed him. Because just minutes earlier he had insisted that there were no circumstances under which he would extend Article 50 beyond 31 October. Something has to give and Johnson hasn’t a clue what.

    Desperation is etched deep into his face. Every day a scramble to do or say anything to maintain his hold on power. Power that was visibly ebbing away the longer he was on his feet. He appeared almost grateful when the Speaker put him out of his misery. At this rate he could yet be the UK’s shortest serving prime minister. […]

    Some readers’s comments:

    ● “Trump is going to be furious with his English poodle losing that vote.”

    ● “Isn’t [Dominic] Cummings reprising Gollum’s role, scuttling in dark corners about Westminster looking for his precious.”

    ● “For anyone who still believes that, after this abject performance, Johnson has even a shred of credibility left, then I’m sure that an African Prince will be contacting you shortly to ask for your banking details.”

    ● “It gets better…cheerleader for ‘taking back control’ reduces his majority from 1 to -21 in just 2 days in parliament.”

    ● “Stormont is more effective than Westminster at the moment!”
      (Stormont is the N.Irish assembly / government, which has been completely inoperative for several years now due to, originally, the “D”UP denials after being caught in a fraud and Sinn Féin walking out, and its spiraled down since…)

    ● “So Boris arrives at Parliament on his first day as Prime Minister. Loses his parliamentary majority in a spectacular fashion, loses his first vote in the commons by a significant margin, and will probably maintain his 100% record tomorrow and is responsible for ejecting the Father of the House, an MP of almost 50 years standing , from the Conservative party as well as Winston Churchill’s grandson.
    That’s a hell of a first day in the office.”

    ● “Boris Johnson — A Prime Minister who can’t even win a vote of No Confidence in himself!”

    ● “A Prime Minister with no personal mandate leading a government without a majority is being prevented from implementing an extreme interpretation of the result of a three year old advisory referendum narrowly won by the side that cheated.”

    ● “Lord Haw Haw Reesmogg.”

    ● “[O]ne aspect of all this Brexit entertainment [not] address[ed] is that it is solely about the likes of Rees-Mogg and his ilk scared to death about having to reveal their off-shore account which the EU is demanding.
    Everything else is pantomime.”

    ● “The man sets records wherever he goes: first PM since 1945 to prorogue parliament for five weeks, first PM in history to actually lose his majority while speaking at the dispatch box, first PM (I think) to probably serve less than 2 months, first PM to actually very probably lose his first three votes in parliament with a sizeable number of MPs of his own party voting against him. […]”

    ● “Couldn’t happen to a more deserving windbag.”

    And on and on. And on. And on… then piling on some more.

  47. says

    MORE Breaking: GOP leaders say they will not appeal the court’s ruling striking down our maps.

    That means we are 100% certain to get new maps for our state House and state Senate, and get them very quickly.

    This is simply remarkable. A fair map in North Carolina.”

  48. blf says

    The issue of femicide (domestic abuse) is being discussed in here in France at the moment, France unveils measures in battle against domestic violence:

    France is one of the European countries with the highest number of such murders [of women killed by a current or former partner –blf], according to EU figures from 2017 which put it second only to Germany.

    Last year 121 women were killed in France in these circumstances, equating to one death every three days. So far this year at least 100 women have been killed by a current or former partner.


    There’s an (ongoing) conference on the disaster, French government convenes femicide conference — but critics say it’s ‘meaningless’ (video). However, the conference has been dismissed as a sham, intended to give the appearance of doing something plus a few token gestures.

    There’s a possibility that will now change as a result of incident that happened live in front of Macron’s eyes (well, ears), Macron hears police officer refuse to help woman in danger:

    French president’s visit to hotline was supposed to showcase crackdown on domestic violence

    It was supposed to be a showcase of the French government’s new crackdown on domestic violence.

    But instead, when the French president, Emmanuel Macron, visited the national domestic violence hotline and listened in to the morning’s calls, he heard in real time how a local police officer was refusing to help a woman in danger.


    Wearing headphones, the president sat silently listening in to calls being taken by an experienced hotline operator.

    A distressed 57-year-old woman called in saying her violent husband had threatened to kill her after years of escalating abuse at home and that she had to leave. She was at the local police station. She said she had filed a police complaint but, fearing her husband would murder her, she had asked the police to accompany her home to safely retrieve her possessions before leaving. But the police refused.

    “You’re in the police station? You’re in danger. Your husband is at home. The police can accompany you,” the operator assured the caller.

    The woman said that the police were refusing to do so. Macron looked visibly angered and shook his head, but remained silent.

    “They have to help a person in danger,” the operator insisted and asked to speak to the police officer.

    In a call that lasted 15 minutes, the operator attempted in vain to persuade the gendarme to help, but the officer insisted it wasn’t his place to intervene. Unaware that the president was listening in, the officer said — wrongly — that he would need a judicial order to accompany the woman.

    Macron silently shook his head and wrote a note on a piece of paper, handing it to the operator.

    “It’s the gendarme’s job to protect her when there is a clear risk,” with or without any extra judicial permission, the note said.

    The hotline operator continued to press the officer, at one point saying: “This woman is under threat of death, are you waiting until she’s actually killed?”

    But the officer refused to act.

    After the call, an exasperated Macron asked: “Does that happen often?”

    The operator, who had been working on the hotline for over 20 years, said: “Oh yes, more and more frequently.”


    I admit to not following this femicide issue closely — in fact, I wasn’t even aware France had the problem to serious extent it does until the conference started — but my current understanding is the campaigners are saying the most urgent need is for vastly increased funding, to be invested in shelters, training (such as of the gendarme), and so on… Some of the above-excerpted articles say they want c.€1bn, but (in one of those “token gestures”), only €1m (a thousand times less) additional funds are being made available, along with some additional rooms at (existing?) shelters.

  49. says

    FP – “State Department Failed to Shield Its Diplomats From Political Reprisals, Officials Concede”:

    U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan has acknowledged having failed to act more vigorously to shield State Department staffers from retaliation by the Trump administration for their perceived political views. But Sullivan said that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lacked the authority to fire a top Trump political appointee accused of inflicting, or abetting, the alleged harassment.

    Speaking in a town hall meeting on Aug. 29 with staffers from the State Department’s Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Sullivan and David Hale, the undersecretary of state for political affairs and the third-ranking official in the department, acknowledged shortcomings in their response and pledged to make amends for staffers whose careers were upended in a long-running controversy that triggered an investigation by the department’s inspector general. They also pledged to exercise greater personal oversight over the bureau’s work.

    “I will be the first to admit the failure on my part to have done more to address the situation,” Sullivan told the gathering, according to an account of the meeting relayed to Foreign Policy.

    Hale encouraged staffers whose careers were damaged as a result of political retaliation to come to him to seek some sort of professional remedy or, if they preferred, to pursue a formal grievance against the department.

    “I’d like to help; I’d also like people to know they can come to me,” Hale said. He pledged to take their case to the undersecretary of state for management, the director general, or human resources “to make amends.”

    “There’s absolutely no doubt that what was going on was completely unacceptable,” Hale said. “Misconduct is a soft word, frankly, to use for what has occurred.”

    The meeting came just weeks after the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General concluded that Kevin Moley, the assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, and a senior advisor, Mari Stull, had engaged in “inappropriate practices,” including the “disrespectful and hostile treatment of employees … and harassment of career employees premised on claims that they were ‘disloyal’ based on their perceived political views.” The inspector general, Steve Linick, recommended “corrective action” and unspecified disciplinary action against Moley.

    Sullivan said that he had intentionally not invited Moley, who remains in his job, to the session in order to encourage staffers in the bureau to speak frankly about their concerns and expectations for change in the bureau. He said the department is still weighing the inspector general’s recommendation that he be disciplined. But he said that Pompeo had no power to replace Moley. Stull left the State Department in January and is no longer subject to disciplinary proceedings.

    “The secretary can’t fire an assistant secretary appointed by a president, so it adds a layer of complexity there,” Sullivan said. “It doesn’t make it right, it doesn’t make it easier to tolerate, but know that the experience we’ve had with this situation has sensitized, I know, Ambassador Hale and myself and the secretary of the need for us to do better.”

    Stull was accused of bullying and demeaning employees, and trying to force out career civil servants who worked on issues affiliated with Obama administration policies, including on Palestinian issues and LGBTQ issues. The sweeping 34-page report from the Office of the Inspector General details numerous allegations of mismanagement….

    More at the link. I foresee a tidal wave of lawsuits. Do they have proof that Pompeo doesn’t have the authority to fire Moley? It’s a dubious assertion.

  50. says

    And another – TPM – “Fifth Texas GOP Congressman Will Not Run For Reelection”:

    Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) announced Wednesday that he will not seek reelection in 2020, making him the fifth Texas Republican to do so.

    According to the Cook Political Report, Flores’ district, the 17th, leans Republican and voted for President Donald Trump with about 55 percent of the vote.

    Flores follows in the footsteps of his fellow Texans GOP Reps. Kenny Marchant, Will Hurd, Pete Olson and K. Michael Conaway.

  51. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian British-politics liveblog.


    “More than 100,000 apply to register to vote in UK in 48 hours”:

    More than 100,000 people have applied to register to vote in the past 48 hours, with young people making up the bulk of the surge.

    On Monday, 52,408 applications were submitted, according to government figures, followed by 64,485 on Tuesday.

    The figure on both days, against a backdrop of momentous political events at Westminster, was significantly above the typical number for weekday applications, which has been averaging at about 27,000 for the past month.

    Parties that have traditionally drawn support from younger people will be most encouraged by the figures, which show that 58% of applications submitted in the past two days were from people aged 34 and under. Many are understood to be students moving into new areas for the start of term.

    The percentage of people aged 65 and over, who are statistically more likely to vote Conservative, applying was just over 7%.

    By contrast, the two largest groups by age were 25-34, who numbered more than 19,800 on Tuesday, and those aged under 25, who made up more than 17,000 on the same day.

    The deadline for applying to register to vote would be 27 September if a snap general election were to take place on 15 October, as Downing Street is understood to be planning.

    The surge in youth registration was welcomed in particular by pro-remain campaigners, who have been using social media to encourage registration in anticipation of a ballot….

  52. blf says

    France’s parliament takes aim at conversion therapy:

    France’s National Assembly (lower house) began hearings this week on a draft law that would prohibit any practice aimed at curing homosexuality. The two MPs behind the project hope to submit a final bill by early 2020.

    Also known as conversion therapies and reorientation therapies, such practices claim to be able to alter an individual’s sexual orientation. Young gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals have been subjected to all sorts of questionable methods aimed at reorienting them toward heterosexuality.

    [… assorted details…]

    [… I]n a sign that other countries could soon follow suit, the European Parliament voted in 2018 to approve a text calling on EU member states to ban the controversial practices.

  53. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    So, here’s what I wonder. If they are going to have elections anyway, why can they not put Brexit-as-it-is on the ballot. It seems to me that allowing a vote for all outcomes one would deem acceptable:
    1) Cancel Brexit and stay in the EU
    2) No-deal Brexit.
    3) May’s agreement
    and whatever else they can work out as a possibility.

    Or does the Conservative party equate democracy with One-Man-One-Vote-One-Time?

  54. says

    Guardian – “Hong Kong’s leader withdraws extradition bill that ignited mass protests”:

    Hong Kong’s chief executive, Carrie Lam, has said her government will formally withdraw an extradition bill that has ignited months of protests and plunged the territory into its biggest political crisis in decades.

    In a five-minute televised address on Wednesday, Lam said her government would formally withdraw the controversial bill to “fully allay public concerns.”.

    The bill, which would have allowed the extradition of suspects to China to be tried under the mainland’s opaque judicial system, prompted the start of mass protests in June that have led to increasingly violent confrontations with Hong Kong’s police force and the arrest of more than 1,000 people.

    Lam shelved the bill in June and in July again insisted it was “dead” after weeks of protest but has until now refused to withdraw it entirely, a key demand of the protesters who argued it could be revived in future.

    Lam’s announcement, which marks a volte-face after months of vowing not to back down to the protesters, comes less than a month before China celebrates its national day on 1 October, the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

    “She has to do something otherwise it’s going to be ugly,” said Michael Tien, one of the pro-Beijing lawmakers who attended a meeting with Lam before her announcement. “So she is making this gesture now, this concession. There is a month in between she was hoping things would die down.”

    In the meeting, Lam came across calm and hopeful, according to Tien. “I think she honestly felt that this could settle the score.”

    But it remains to be seen whether the measure will calm protests which have morphed into a much broader political movement, much of it fuelled by public anger at the police and the government.

    The protests have pushed Hong Kong, a major financial and business hub, to the brink of a recession with businesses and shops suffering and investors reconsidering their presence in the territory.

    Following Lam’s address, protesters repeatedly posted: “Five demands, not one less!” on the LIHKG forum.

    Many comments referred to a woman who was badly injured in an eye by projectiles fired by the police.

    Earlier this week, Reuters published a recording of Lam speaking to a group of business executives in which she said she would step down if she were able to – suggesting Beijing had strong-armed her into remaining in office.

    On Tuesday, however, Lam told reporters she wanted to remain in office to see Hong Kong through such a difficult period….

    The decision not to formally withdraw the bill when it was first pulled was profoundly stupid.

  55. says

    From the G liveblog:

    This is what Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson’s de facto chief of staff, said about a second referendum in the Economist interview in January 2016 (before the referendum on leaving the EU). At the time Cummings was campaign director for Vote Leave. Asked if he thought the government would hold a second referendum, on the terms of Brexit, in the event of a vote to leave, Cummings replied.

    I think that is a distinct possibility, yes. It’s obviously not something that we can force. We’re a campaign group. But I think it is perfectly possible that leadership candidates to replace David Cameron will say that they think there are good grounds for a new government team to offer the public a voice on what the deal looks like. And we obviously wouldn’t oppose that, if that’s what senior politicians want to offer. I think there’s a strong democratic case for it….

  56. says

    “MPs have voted to give the bill to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October a second reading by 329 votes to 300 – a majority of 29.

    That majority is two bigger than the one last night (when the SO24 motion was passed by 328 votes to 301).”

  57. says

    #Breaking: Israeli PM @Netanyahu will meet tomorrow in London with PM @BorisJohnson & US Defense Secretary Mark Esper”

    Its just not believable…. ‘The Prime Minister will discuss the regional situation with Prime Minister Johnson & how to combat Iran’s terror and aggression. With Defense Secretary Esper, the PM will discuss Israel’s security needs’. #BibiinLondon”

    Why in God’s name in Boris Johnson taking time out of his day tomorrow, of all days, to meet with Netanyahu?”

    They’re cooking something up (see #55 above).

  58. says

    Update on Trump’s illegal and desperate moves to get his border wall built:

    […] the desperation campaign continues, and it now includes the administration diverting $3.6 billion away from the Pentagon to pay for border barriers.

    The move, which was authorized by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, will impact 127 different construction projects, Department of Defense officials told reporters.

    Officials said that half of the money — $1.8 billion — would come from planned international projects and the other half, if needed, would come from domestic projects.

    So much for Mexico paying for the project.

    The $3.6 billion will reportedly build about 175 miles’ worth of border barriers, some of which will be new, some of which will replace older existing barriers. […]

    It’s a tough dynamic to defend. Even putting aside the president’s ridiculous rhetoric about Mexican financing, the Trump administration originally said the Defense Department needed those funds. The White House is nevertheless redirecting the money, without congressional approval, to pay for fencing that won’t make much of a difference. […]

    All of this, of course, stems from a national-emergency declaration that Trump issued earlier this year. At a White House event announcing the move, the president declared, “I didn’t need to do this.”

    There’s been some talk this week about Congress “backfilling” the Pentagon’s budget, financing the projects that would go ignored in the wake of the White House’s gambit, but to put it mildly, the Democratic House majority is not fond of such an idea.

    Not only would it mean lawmakers funding the same projects twice, but this approach would indirectly subsidize Trump’s “wall” crusade, which Dems are not prepared to do.

    Postscript: The ACLU is reportedly preparing to file suit to block the use of military funds. It’s a case worth keeping an eye on.


  59. says

    Trump tries to give a Republican senator credit for an emergency declaration that was requested by a Democratic governor:

    [Trump] also said that he was moving forward with the emergency declaration “at the request of” Sen. Thom Tillis [a Republican from North Carolina].

    […] it’s not up to senators to request emergency declarations from the White House; it’s up to governors. […] that’s just how the system works under federal law.

    Tillis is a fellow Republican up for reelection next year and faces a GOP primary challenge. Trump endorsed Tillis in June, telling his nearly 64 million Twitter followers that the first-term senator had “really stepped up to the plate.”

    North Carolina’s governor, Roy Cooper, is a Democrat. His office requested the federal disaster declaration Monday after issuing a state emergency declaration Friday.

    Trump wants the public to credit the senator for the president’s willingness to sign an emergency declaration, requested by North Carolina’s Democratic governor, that Trump was going to have to sign anyway. […]

    As a deadly storm approaches, the president decided it would be a good time to introduce some partisan election-season politics into the hurricane-preparation process.

    It’s worth noting for context that earlier this year, Thom Tillis wrote a compelling op-ed condemning Trump’s gambit to redirect federal funds to border barriers in defiance of Congress’ wishes. The GOP senator said he agreed with the president’s underlying policy goals on border security, but his conscience required him to put principle over party.

    Two weeks later, Tillis abandoned his principles and endorsed Trump’s legally dubious scheme, ignoring everything the senator had just said in writing. […]

    Swamp creatures.

  60. blf says

    SC@84, Three-ish weeks ago I excerpted some comments by a former US ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, which included his speculations on the sort of things hair furor and Netanyahu might cook up:

    […] Rumors are rife in Israel over the gifts Trump may bestow on Netanyahu in the final stages of this election: a new US-Israel defense pact; permitting the convicted (and now paroled) Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard to travel to Israel; a presidential visit with stops in the Golan Heights and the Western Wall; or the ultimate jackpot — US acceptance of Israeli annexation of West Bank settlements.

    Netanyahu will call in whatever he thinks it will take to win, no matter the blows to the two-state solution, no matter the damage to bipartisan US support for Israel. He just wants to be sure that Trump will deliver.

    That is not to say whatever is being cooked up is any of those things, albeit the current so-called ambassador to Israel, David Freeman, has suggested a West Bank annexation is fine, US ambassador: Israel has right to annex parts of West Bank.

    It’s perhaps more like it has something to do with Iran, Netanyahu’s calculus: Bombs speak louder than words:

    Israel’s recent attacks against Iranian targets in Iraq are sending a clear message at home and abroad.

    Israel has expanded its military operations in the Middle East from Palestine to Lebanon, Syria and as of last month, Iraq, allegedly carrying out multiple attacks on Iranian allies and assets. In a departure from traditional ambiguity, the Israeli government has boasted about its responsibility for the bombings and, with an utter sense of impunity, threatened more such attacks anytime, anywhere in the region.

    The bombast, timing, scope, and rhythm of the bombings suggest there is more to the pre-emptive attacks than immediate security consideration. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is sending a message to his own public at home ahead of the September 17 elections as well as to Iran and the United States.

    [… A]s several generals-cum-politicians are running against [Netanyahu] on September 17, the incumbent prime minister, who promised to annex the West Bank settlements to prove his right-wing credentials, needs to prove his military credentials as well, preferably without plunging the country into war.


    The timing of the most recent elaborate campaign of bombings on three fronts during the two-day G7 conference in Biarritz, France could hardly be a coincidence.

    Netanyahu was angered by the French invitation of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to the summit and dismayed by French President Emmanuel Macron’s attempts to mediate between Tehran and Washington and arrange for a meeting between President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

    […] Netanyahu tried vociferously to reach the American president in Biarritz to dissuade him from meeting Zarif or acquiescing to the French proposals to lift secondary sanctions on Iran. Apparently, the US president was too busy or perhaps unwilling to talk.

    Trump may be impressionable, but he does not like to be told what do.

    At any rate, bombs speak louder than words, and Netanyahu knew that even if he could not get Trump on the phone, the attacks on Iraq, Syria and Lebanon would be heard loud and clear in Biarritz.


    I’ll add the Gulf area and Strait of Hormuz and oil tankers in here… teh NKofE, Iran, and the States have al been acting quite silly, albeit how Israel — or more accurate, Netanyahu’s dirty tactics — fits in seems unclear…

  61. says

    Swamp news:

    Until last week, Joe Balash was the assistant secretary of the interior in charge of land and minerals. This week he’s an executive at a foreign oil company. That oil company is planning to drill on land adjacent to Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge … which Balash was instrumental in opening to exploration.

    […] Balash’s move to the Papua New Guinea-based company Oil Search is just one of several high-profile instances in which members of the EPA or Interior Department moved directly from creating profitable situations for fossil fuel companies to cashing in. That includes former EPA administrator (and world’s worst houseguest) Scott Pruitt who left town on a raft of corruption charges, then cemented those concerns by moving directly into acting as a “political consultant” for a coal company. It also includes former counselor to the secretary for energy policy Vincent DeVito, who helped shepherd through opening up vast areas of the sea floor for drilling, then shifted directly to a role as general counsel for Cox Oil Offshore. […]


  62. blf says

    How Mike Pence shat on the new carpet in Ireland’s spare room:

    The hospitable hosts buttered up their important guest and made a big fuss of his family and hoped he would say nice things about them to the important people he would meet after his visit to Ireland.

    And he told them they were wonderful and that he loved them. He even said a special prayer for everyone and then, just before he left, he turned around and kicked them where it hurts.

    It came as a shock.

    Like pulling out all the stops for a much-anticipated visitor to your home and thinking it has been a great success until somebody discovers he shat on the new carpet in the spare room, the one you bought specially for him.

    US vice-president Mike Pence met President Michael D Higgins and Taoiseach [PM] Leo Varadkar on Tuesday during an official visit. His Irish hosts, up to their oxters for the last three years in Brexit worry, hoped to impress upon him Ireland’s fears about the consequences of a no-deal Brexit for the country.

    He could, maybe, stick in a supportive word for us in his talks with Boris Johnson in London — his next port of call.

    Pence, after all, is Irish American and wastes no opportunity to go misty-eyed about his love for the “Old Country” as he lards on his Mother Machree schtick on both sides of the Atlantic. He couldn’t praise Ireland enough on Tuesday — “deeply humbled” and “honoured” to be going to the hometown of his mother’s grandmother and so on.
    Strong endorsement

    But, after he said all these nice things about the “Emerald Isle” and how much his boss Donald Trump — he sent his best wishes, by the way — appreciates us and all we do to help American security in Shannon, he delivered a very strong endorsement of Boris Johnson and Brexit.

    No room left for doubt. As Pence read from the autocue and Irish eyes definitely stopped smiling, it was clear he was channeling His Master’s Voice. Trump is a fan of Brexit and of Boris.


    Instead, he veered off his rather gushing statement following his meeting with the Taoiseach into some crunching Brexit remarks about our duty to do right by Boris Johnson and the UK.

    As the air in the steamy ballroom turned decidedly frosty, Pence urged Ireland and the European Union “to negotiate in good faith” with the new British prime minister.

    The local crowd raised eyebrows and wondered what he thinks the aforementioned EU has been doing for the last three years, if not negotiating in good faith with the UK.

  63. KG says


    Yes, the “Brexit Party” (or BUF – British Union of Farageists, as I prefer) includes quite anumber of former “Revolutionary Communist Party” members. The RCP was always a parcel of cranks, who applauded the IRA bombing campaign and denied (in effect, supported) Serbian atrocities against Bosnian Muslims – and were successfully sued for libel by a journalist reporting them who they accused of lying. But around the turn of the century, they underwent a shift to the “libertarian” and climate-denialist right, while still pretending to be leftists. In that sense, there’s nothing surprising about their prominence in the BUF. It’s at least possible they were always a false front, intended to discredit the “far left” – it was certainly a puzzle where such a ludicrous sectlet got the money to publish a very glossy full-colour magazine (Living Marxism) while most Trot factions could only manage a few pages in black, white and a scattering of red. But more likely one or more of them was funding it from inherited wealth.

    I’ve posted a few comments on yesterday’s and today’s Brexit kerfuffles on this thread.

  64. says

    A “think tank” full of people who don’t know how to think is trying to push 3.1 million people off food stamps. The Trump administration seems to be partnering with them in this effort.

    In December, the Foundation for Government Accountability hosted public officials from across the country in Orlando, Florida. […]

    The FGA, a right-leaning think tank based in Naples, Florida, paid travel and lodging expenses for many of the conservative leaders in attendance, including Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and three White House aides.

    Guests heard presentations such as “Stop the Scam: The Reality of Food Stamp Fraud.” Between sessions, the foundation treated attendees to catered desserts and a fireworks display from a terrace featuring a faux Eiffel Tower […]

    The FGA aimed to send decision-makers back to their respective states, or the nation’s capital, with fresh zeal to restrict access to public assistance programs designed for low-income people, including Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program. The association even provided road maps for achieving this goal in the form of model legislation — suggested wording for laws and regulations that could serve as a template for like-minded policymakers.

    While the public officials were being pampered in Florida, hundreds of thousands of people on the SNAP rolls in West Virginia were wondering how they would feed their families. […] wait in line for their allotment at the food pantry hosted there so they could supplement their SNAP budgets — at most $192 per month for a single person.

    Some, like Kevin Bass, a 58-year-old veteran with disabilities, were at the food pantry for the first time. Bass said his SNAP payments recently had been lowered to $34 because his wife had gotten a part-time job. Her income didn’t go very far, Bass said; hence his place in the line.

    […] The FGA has a growing influence over legislation

    Since its founding in 2011, the FGA has attracted a pool of benefactors — mostly wealthy people whose identities are kept secret, and conservative foundations. In 2017, the most recent year for which tax records are available, its budget exceeded $5.9 million. It typically spends its money on well-connected lobbyists, research of dubious quality, prewritten legislation, and trips to Florida for public officials who oversee government assistance programs for some of the nation’s most vulnerable people. […]

    Several states — including Kansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Kentucky — have implemented one of the FGA’s signature proposals: work requirements for SNAP recipients. […] It lobbied Congress through the Opportunity Solutions Project to include work requirements for SNAP in the 2018 farm bill; the requirements made it into the US House of Representatives version but didn’t pass the Senate.

    The Trump administration’s 2020 budget, introduced in March, embraces the same concept. […]

    “It’s easy to sit on the outside and think, ‘Why don’t people just get jobs?’ But it’s not that simple,” said Hutchison, a SNAP recipient herself until last year.

    […] work requirements will be in place for all of West Virginia by 2022 because of FGA-backed legislation carried by Republicans. […]

    Research by the Ohio Association of Food Banks found that many SNAP recipients have serious impediments to work […]


  65. says

    Marianne Williamson, I see you. More correctly, I see your tweets. And they deserve an eyeroll of epic proportions. You keep trying to hide your new-age wackiness, but it keeps peeping out anyway.

    Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson urged her Twitter followers to pray for the Bahamas and the Southern U.S. coast on Wednesday morning, as Hurricane Dorian made its devastating path northward. This in itself was not a remarkable thing for a presidential candidate to do. The unusual thing was that Williamson also seemed to suggest that “the power of the mind” could alter the hurricane’s path.

    “Millions of us seeing Dorian turn away from land is not a wacky idea,” Williamson tweeted. “It is a creative use of the power of the mind. Two minutes of prayer, visualization, meditation for those in the way of the storm.” The sentiment didn’t last long. By 10:15 a.m., it had been deleted and replaced with a more anodyne message of support […]


    […] Was she really saying that if enough people prayed, the hurricane would physically turn away from populated areas? Or was the idea just to send good vibes to people in Dorian’s path? […]

    Yes, she thinks that the power of positive thinking, and creative visualization, can alter the path of hurricanes. In which case, I want to ask her what she was doing when Hurricane Dorian parked itself over the Bahamas for 51 hours (41 hours over the northern Bahamas).

  66. blf says

    Matteo Salvini replaced by migration specialist in new Italy coalition:

    A career civil servant and specialist in migration policy has succeeded the far-right leader Matteo Salvini as Italy’s interior minister in a new left-leaning pro-European coalition government aimed at drawing a line under a crisis sparked by Salvini’s populist League party.

    Luciana Lamorgese, a 38-year veteran of the interior ministry, has in recent years been in charge of planning refugee and migrant reception centres in northern Italy and is known for promoting integration events and policies. She was also the first female security chief, or prefect, of Milan.

    Her appointment should mark a break from the era of Salvini, whose hardline immigration measures included the closure of Italian ports to NGO rescue vessels and the abolition of key protections for asylum seekers.


    Salvini, who pulled the plug on Conte’s last government on 8 August seeking snap elections he hoped would boost his party, described the new pro-European coalition as a government born between Paris and Berlin and from the fear of leaving their posts, without dignity and without ideals, with the wrong people in the wrong place.

    They won’t be able to dodge the judgment of the Italians for too long. We’re ready … in the end it is us who will win.

    The new ministers will face confidence votes starting on Monday. By this time next week, the new government could already be settled in Rome, with Salvini forced to watch from the opposition benches.

  67. says

    Oh, FFS.

    From Josh Marshall, “Dear Leader Must Be Right!”

    In an apparent effort to retrospectively validate Trump’s false claim that Hurricane Dorian endangered Alabama, Trump’s Oval Office hurricane update included what appeared to be a staffer’s magic marker expanding the hurricane zone to include Alabama.

    From Kate Riga:

    President Donald Trump on Wednesday displayed a map of Hurricane Dorian’s forecast path that appeared to feature a bubble scribbled on to include Alabama, a state which Trump had earlier insisted, against direct proof, would be hit.

    For reference, here’s a zoomed-in picture of Trump’s map: [see map here]

    “It was going to be hitting directly, and it would have affected a lot of other states,” Trump said in the Oval Office Wednesday, alongside Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan. “But that was the original chart. You see, it was going to hit not only Florida, but Georgia. It was going toward the Gulf. That was what was originally projected.”

    And here’s Dorian’s official forecast path from the National Hurricane Center website. The NHC’s animation of the official forecast path never crosses Alabama’s border and there is no black bubble. [See link above for the map.]

    Since Sunday morning, Trump repeatedly and emphatically insisted that Hurricane Dorian could hit Alabama, even as meteorologists from the local and federal level — aka his own weather service — refuted the claim.

    After railing against the “phony” reporting denying the accuracy of his statement, Trump ultimately blamed his statements on “certain original scenarios” that never came to be. […]

    Maybe Trump could get Marianne Williamson to steer the hurricane to Alabama with her mind.

  68. says

    Boris Johnson was dealt two significant defeats in two days, so what does Trump say when asked about this situation? “Boris knows how to win.”


  69. blf says

    Lynna@95, As predicted, Johnson is mantaining his perfect 100% record — he now lost all three of his first three votes: Yesterday’s motion to allow today’s debate, today’s debate, and (just a few minutes ago) to call an election.

  70. tomh says

    Amid the general chaos, just another day at the office for this Administration.

    Sept. 4, 2019:
    White House to Relax Energy Efficiency Rules for Light Bulbs

    The Trump administration plans to significantly weaken federal rules that would have forced Americans to use much more energy-efficient light bulbs, a move that could contribute to greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.

    The proposed changes would eliminate requirements that effectively meant that most light bulbs sold in the United States — not only the familiar, pear-shaped ones , but several other styles as well — must be either LEDs or fluorescent to meet new efficiency standards.

    The rules being weakened, which dated from 2007 and the administration of President George W. Bush and slated to start in the new year, would have all but ended the era of the incandescent bulb invented more than a century ago. Eliminating inefficient bulbs nationwide would save electricity equivalent to the output of at least 25 large power plants, enough to power all homes in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, according to an estimate by the The Natural Resources Defense Council.


    Rapid technological change in the lowly light bulb has been one of the largely unsung success stories in the fight to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

  71. says

    Hurricane Dorian has strengthened again. It is now a category 3 storm. I think the storm surge is going to be hella bad.

    blf @96, thanks for that update. Only delusional Trump can call such a guy a winner.

    tomh@104, it looks like the Trump administration is trying to make sure climate change swiftly becomes a more urgent and threatening problem.

  72. says

    More details and commentary concerning Trump’s lie that the chance of the hurricane hitting Alabama was 95%:

    […] Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist with the Atmospheric Science department at Colorado State University, suggested that the White House, not the National Hurricane Center, was behind the edit.

    “President Trump’s forecast map that he showed was from a few days ago, and someone from the White House must have drawn a bubble on it to include Alabama,” he told TPM. “Alabama was never in the forecast cone issued by the National Hurricane Center.”

    The President largely dodged questions about the doctored map Wednesday afternoon.

    “I know Alabama was in the original forecast,” Trump told reporters when asked about the bubble, noting that he didn’t know anything about the scribbled addition. “The original path was through Florida.”


    For the earlier discussion of Trump’s nonsense, see SC’s comments 97 and 100. In that video to which SC linked, you can see Trump lying. Remember when he lied and told reporters that he knew nothing about the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels? Thinking back, his face looked the same then. When he is not just blustering or exaggerating, when he knows he is actually lying to reporters’ faces, Trump has a special look. That’s his lying face. I think it is also a face that reveals he knows he is going to get caught on this lie, so there’s a bit of fear tension showing through.

  73. Saad says

    From the link in 102:

    Whoever knowingly issues or publishes any counterfeit weather forecast or warning of weather conditions falsely representing such forecast or warning to have been issued or published by the Weather Bureau, United States Signal Service, or other branch of the Government service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both.

    Whoever? You sure about that?

  74. says

    Today’s Guardian British-politics liveblog.

    From there:

    Scotland’s most senior judge, Lord Carloway, has said confidential Downing Street memos showing Boris Johnson agreed to prorogue parliament 12 days before he asked the Queen might be published.

    The BBC and News UK, the publisher of the Times and Sun, applied to the court of session on Thursday morning to release three papers written by Nikki da Costa and the prime minister where they secretly agreed the prorogation strategy on 15 August.

    Three Scottish judges – Lord Carloway, the lord president, and Lord Drummond-Young and Lord Brodie – are hearing an appeal by lawyers for 75 MPs and peers against a decision by Lord Doherty yesterday to reject their claims Johnson has illegally prorogued parliament.

    Carloway said on Thursday morning the court could both order them to be published and released in unredacted form, at the end of the hearing, if he felt they were central to the appeal and it was also in the public interest to do so.

    The MPs’ lawyer, Aidan O’Neill, revealed earlier this week he had been given three heavily-redacted memos marked “Official sensitive Number 10 only” hours before their court hearing on Tuesday, in breach of a court deadline. All three were circulated inside Number 10, including to Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s chief strategist, and Ed Lister, his chief of staff, but no cabinet minister other than Johnson.

    The first on 15 August from Da Costa setting out their prorogation strategy was ticked by Johnson, with his scribbled note “yes”. He replied the next day with a handwritten note which said: “whole September session [at Westminster] is a rigmarole introduced to show the public that MPs are earning their crust. I don’t see anything especially shocking about this prorogation.”

    The UK government said they were blacked out because the censored parts were not relevant or protected by “legal professional privilege”. Andrew Webster QC, for the UK government, told the court it was essential to keep them confidential to preserve cabinet confidentiality.

    In what O’Neill described as a snub to the Scottish courts, they were not given to the court of session as primary pieces of evidence backed up as affidavits, but were released only because they were being submitted as evidence to the parallel Gina Miller case in London, which started today.

    Kenny McBrearty QC, appearing for the BBC and News UK, said it was in the public interest and in the interests of open justice for those memos to be published in full. If Number 10 had decided it was appropriate it was to give them to the court, where they were read out in part by O’Neill on Tuesday, then clearly they were not totally confidential.

    O’Neill has made a separate submission to the three judges, arguing the documents could only be redacted by the court. Downing Street could not unilaterally decide which sections to release, without proper scrutiny. Downing Street had also chosen not to apply for a public interest immunity (PII) certificate – an orthodox route to keep key documents secret.

  75. says

    Re the crime of faking a weather report – I do suspect the intent of the law is to prevent people from falsely forecasting the weather. Trump’s original tweet about AL getting hit was pretty plainly just him being the bonehead he is and not meant to deceive. Yesterday’s altered map was a retrospective lie which wouldn’t affect anyone’s planning then or in the future, rather than a forecast. So I think that even though he did alter an official map for his own deceptive purposes, it would be difficult to invoke the law here. (I can think of some situations in which altering old maps might fit, but this seems like a stretch.) But IANAL and am really just guessing.

  76. says

    I don’t have many followers but this is important and
    I should be grateful if you would RT widely.

    It is being said in the Scottish proceedings that:
    1 the govt. has fabricated false docs. to try to prove the decision to prorogue later than it was &
    2 civil servants were asked to verify these fake docs by affidavit (i.e. asked to perjure themselves) but refused.

    Hence the govt. produced at the last minute a fistful of redacted documents not verified by witness statement.

    This, if true, is extremely serious and very probably criminal.”

  77. KG says

    A.B.de P. Johnson’s grip on events (or rather that of Dominic Cummings) seems to be faltering. His brother’s resignation comes on top of a string of Commons defeats (the latest concerning an election – see below), and serious disquiet among Tory MPs who didn’t rebel on Tuesday about the withdrawal of the whip from the 21 who did (meaning they are no longerTory MPs and cannot stand as Tory candidates – although some are considering contesting the latter legally), and particularly about Dominic Cummings’ role in it. Never a good look for an aspiring “national strongman” to appear to have lost control.

    Since the Commons failed to vote for an election when Johnson asked them to (a couple of days after saying “You [voters] don’t want an election. I don’t want an election.”, there is an argument among anti-junta parties and individuals about when to try to schedule an election – mid-October as Johnson says he wants, once the “No no-deal” Bill” is law (see below), or to hang on to after the end of October, (supposedly) forcing Johnson to ask for an extension. I’m firmly for mid-October – every day the junta is in government is a danger to what flawed and limited democracy we have in the UK, and I think he’ll find or more likely invent a loophole in whatever laws are passed to prevent him achieving the no-deal crash-out he wants. The counter-argument is that the longer he’s in government, the more he will be seen for the incompetent chancer he is (and somewhat soto voce, the fear that the junta would win a majority, which is indeed a serious possibility). But I think this kind of calculation is a fundamental error when you’re facing the early stages of a coup. If an election is delayed, and johnson defies the law by not asking for an extension and then wins a majority at a post-Brexit election having brazenly broken the law, what will he then be willng do to prevent a later reckoning? (Or rather, what will he not be willing to do?)

    The junta seem to have abandoned the attempt to filibuster the No no-deal Bill in the Lords. This is probably a tactical move – Cummings and Johnson want to portray the opposition as undemocratically refusing to put the issue to the electorate. This line could be used to justify Johnson breaking the law by failing to ask for an extension: “I gave the opposition the chance to put this law to the country, to ascertain the will of the people, but they chickened out.” But it does add to the impression of thrashing around.

  78. blf says

    Whilst Maurice didn’t have the mildly deranged penguin as his lawyer, she insists he’s quite fond of cheese as well, Maurice the noisy cockerel can keep crowing, court rules:

    French judge ruffles feathers by rejecting complaint about bird’s dawn squawking

    At last Maurice the cockerel has something to crow about. A court has ruled that France’s most famous rooster can carry on with his dawn chorus, in a legal case that has pitted town against country.

    On Thursday, a tribunal rejected a couple’s complaint about the bird’s early morning crowing and ordered them to pay €1,000 (£897) in damages to Maurice’s owner, Corinne Fesseau.

    “I’m speechless. We certainly ruffled their feathers,” Fesseau said outside the hearing. “It’s a victory for all those who are in my situation. I hope this will be a precedent for the others. Everyone will now be protected: the church bells, the frogs … why not a Maurice law to protect all rural noises.”

    Julien Papineau, the defence lawyer for Fesseau and Maurice, said they had won because: “Under French law you have to prove there is a nuisance, and this was not done.”

    The dispute between Fesseau and her neighbours on the Île d’Oléron, western France, has taken two years to resolve. Two retired farmers with a second home on the island complained that Maurice was making an abnormal racket when he crowed at 6.30am and was disturbing the peace during their holidays.

    They wanted the bird removed from his home or made to shut up, which triggered an “I am Maurice” support campaign on social media.


    The case was seen as symbolic of the clash between those living in rural areas who have long kept animals or rung church bells and those from urban areas of France or abroad who have bought second homes in the countryside.

    On Tuesday, a court in Dax, south-west France, a traditional duck and geese rearing region, heard a complaint about the noise from a flock of 50 birds being raised in a neighbour’s garden.

    In the Dordogne, a couple faces legal action because of the croaking of frogs in their garden pond, and in Beausset in the Var, Provence, holidaymakers have angered the local mayor by suggesting he kill the cicadas because they make too much noise.

    Feck YES they’re noisy (the holidaymakers). The mildly deranged penguin would send trébuchet-launched kittens in their direction, but the yowls, crashes, and screams only added to the noise — albeit she is fond of LOUD noises. Where I now live it’s the seagulls(?) and flying rats (fecking pigeons), then the local magic sky faeries botherer’s bells… plus the holidaymakers.

    A noise which isn’t so “necessary” are the fecking scooters at 3am in the morning.

    (The cicadas are actually quite noisy as well, but they’re not exactly the annoyance.)

    Although I’ve never been there, Beausset is nearby.

    Bruno Dionis du Séjour, a retired farmer and mayor of the village of Gajac in south-west France has proposed a solution to the chorus of complaints about animal noises – he has asked the government to declare them part of France’s heritage, giving them state protection.

  79. blf says

    Follow-up to @98, Mike Pence accused of humiliating hosts in Ireland: ‘He shat on the carpet’:

    Pence’s problems started with his decision to stay for two nights at Donald Trump’s golf resort in Doonbeg, County Clare, more than 140 miles from Dublin, necessitating costly and logistically complex travel. The move quickly drew fire from ethics experts and political rivals.

    According to an article I read in today’s dead tree edition of the (International) New York Tmes, and contrary to my guess in @12, the eejit did use a aeroplane, flying from Shannon to Dublin (and back). Absurd. Then, also according to that article, his meeting was with the President of Ireland at Uachtarán na hÉireann (President’s official residence (and office?)). Which is essentially next-door to Deerfield Residence, the US ambassador’s magnificent official residence (in Pheonix Park) — where, as far as I know, Pence would normally have stayed and which is very easily secured.

    Absolute fecking profiteering by hair furor and his family / businesses.

    The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, called Trump’s properties a “cesspool of corruption” and accused the president of “prioritizing his profits over the interests of the American people”.

    “Pence is just the latest Republican elected official to enable President Trump’s violations of the constitution,” she said.


    But that was only the start of the controversy.

    The Irish Times columnist Miriam Lord responded to a tense meeting between the vice-president and the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, in which Pence urged the republic to protect the United Kingdom’s sovereignty [the shat-on-carpet piece excerpted in @98 –blf]. That Varadkar is gay and Pence a past [sic] champion of anti-LGBTQ legislation […] also caused widespread comment.


    Lord wasn’t alone in her criticism. The Cork Examiner’s political editor, Daniel McConnell, wrote: “The cheek of him coming here, eating our food, clogging up our roads and then having the nerve to humiliate his hosts.”

    Pence has done something normally only “the English” can do — thoroughly piss off the Irish.

  80. blf says

    Some more tidibits on sharpiegate, Trump shows fake hurricane map in apparent bid to validate incorrect tweet:

    Trump denied all knowledge. According to the Washington Post, when he was asked about the doctored map later on Wednesday, Trump said his briefings had included a 95% chance probability that Alabama would be hit.

    Asked if the chart had been drawn on, he insisted: I don’t know, I don’t know.


    On Wednesday night, apparently stung by the criticism, Trump tweeted another hurricane map. This one showed numerous, multicoloured lines projecting the path of Dorian. Some of the lines reach into Alabama. The map has a “South Florida Water Management District” logo in the bottom corner.

    The president [sic] wrote: This was the originally projected path of the Hurricane in its early stages. As you can see, almost all models predicted it to go through Florida also hitting Georgia and Alabama. I accept the Fake News apologies!

    But the map is dated 28 August at 08.06 EDT. Trump sent his tweet about Alabama on 1 September, by which time forecasts made clear it was not in danger.

    The map also clearly carries the disclaimer: “NHC advisories and county emergency statements supersede this product. This graphic should complement, not replace, NHC discussions.”

  81. says

    BuzzFeed – “Boris Johnson’s Tory Islamophobia Inquiry Is Instead Going To Look At ‘All Types Of Prejudice'”:

    Boris Johnson has confirmed that he has watered down his apparent plans for an inquiry into Islamophobia within the Conservative party – and is looking instead at an “investigation into all types of prejudice and discrimination”.

    The party also declined to say on Thursday when the probe would be held, saying the timing would be guided by the government’s review into a definition of Islamophobia.

    It comes after Labour MP Tan Dhesi made a powerful speech in the House of Commons, calling on Johnson to commit to an investigation and demanding an apology over his “derogatory and racist” remarks in newspaper articles.

    During the leadership hustings, Johnson appeared to commit to supporting an external investigation into anti-Muslim hatred in the party if they became PM.

    Sajid Javid, then home secretary, asked his rivals whether they would agree to holding an inquiry into the issue. All of the other candidates, including Johnson, nodded or voiced their agreement.

    Javid, who is now Johnson’s chancellor, said then that people were “right to have concerns about growing anti-Muslim hatred in our country”.

    However, Johnson then appeared to downgrade the inquiry to a general investigation in June, and weeks later, Tory party chair James Cleverly refused to confirm whether it would be specific to Islamophobia.

    A Conservative spokesperson told BuzzFeed News: “The party is working to study options for an investigation into all types of prejudice and discrimination, which would include reviewing how we can further improve the party’s disciplinary processes.

    “The timings and details of any such investigation would be guided by the government’s review into a definition of Islamophobia.”

    The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said the statement was disappointing and a specific inquiry was urgently needed. A spokesperson said: “The Conservative party’s approach to Islamophobia has thus far been one of denial and obfuscation.

    “Let’s be as clear as possible: the Conservative party has a specific problem with Islamophobia – it makes sense to have a specific inquiry looking at this. There is no trust in the Conservative party for it to conduct this inquiry itself – it should be done independently. The party claims to act swiftly so an inquiry should not be kicked into the long grass.”

    Johnson was widely condemned last year for comparing women in burqas to “letter boxes” and “bank robbers” in his Daily Telegraph column.

    BuzzFeed News has extensively covered the Tory party’s troubles with its handling of anti-Muslim hatred over the last few months, presenting them with evidence of dozens of members who have made anti-Muslim remarks online, including targeting Javid for his Muslim background.

    We also revealed that the Tories had failed to suspend two councillors who had made anti-Muslim comments, and that members who had been suspended for anti-Muslim bigotry were quietly being told they could stay in the party.

    Tan Dhesi was loudly applauded at Prime Minister’s Questions when he demanded a dedicated inquiry into Islamophobia. “Rather than hide behind sham and whitewash investigations, when will the prime minister finally apologise for his derogatory and racist remarks?” he said….

    More at the link.

  82. blf says

    In teh NKofE, Jacob Ress-Muppet compared Dr David Nichol to Andrew Wakefield, the anti-vax nutter. Dr Nichol is who referred to Ress-Muppet as a muppet (see @497(previous page), and @6), Rees-Mogg condemned for comparing doctor to disgraced anti-vaxxer:

    Commons leader likens doctor to Andrew Wakefield for querying no-deal plans

    Jacob Rees-Mogg has been condemned by MPs and medical groups after comparing a senior doctor who has warned about the risks of a no-deal Brexit to the disgraced anti-vaxxer Andrew Wakefield.

    Wakefield was struck off the medical register in 2010 for offences relating to dishonesty and failing to act in patients’ interests after suggesting a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

    Rees-Mogg’s comments, made as he addressed the Commons on Wednesday during his duties as the leader of the house, provoked gasps from the opposition benches, and were condemned by the chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) and many MPs.

    The doctor in question, the consultant neurologist David Nicholl, who has previously clashed with Rees-Mogg, tweeted he believed the comments were defamatory, but Rees-Mogg was protected by parliamentary privilege, which means he cannot be sued.


    In the Commons on Thursday, Labour’s shadow leader of the Commons, Valerie Vaz, raised Rees-Mogg’s comments on the radio show, saying: “I think the leader of the house owes an apology to Dr David Nicholl.”

    Rees-Mogg accused Vaz of wanting to become the scaremongerer-in-chief”, saying no-deal preparations were in place and they have been done with remarkable efficiency”.

    He said: But yes, a lot of remainers wish to make our skin crawl. And I’m afraid it seems to me that Dr David Nicholl is as irresponsible as Dr [sic] Wakefield.”

    He continued: What he had to say — I will repeat it — is as irresponsible as Dr [sic] Wakefield, in threatening that people will die because we leave the European Union. What level of irresponsibility was that?

    [… lots of condemnation…]

    The shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said Rees-Mogg’s comments were “offensive, irresponsible garbage”. He tweeted: “His casual belittling of experienced, medical opinion really is shameful and straight out of the Trump playbook.”

    [… lots more condemnation…]

    The excerpted article does not contain any suggestion Ress-Muppet is himself anti-vax.

  83. says

    As Trump takes money from the Pentagon budget in order to build his wall, who is losing?

    Six Republican senators who are up for reelection in 2020 and who voted to support Donald Trump’s emergency wall declaration are about to watch their states lose millions of dollars in funding to build that wall.

    Sen. Thom Tillis is expected to face a tough battle in North Carolina, and now the state is losing $80 million. A $32.9 million elementary school at Fort Bragg had already been canceled, and now it’s joined by $40 million for a battalion complex and ambulatory care center at Camp Lejeune. […]

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky is losing $62 million, some of which was also slated for building a school. Sorry, military kids!

    Arizona Sen. Martha McSally, up for election after losing in 2018 and being appointed to replace the late Sen. John McCain, had claimed to have assurances from the Defense Department that her state would be spared cuts. Not so much. Arizona is losing $30 million.

    Colorado, where Sen. Cory Gardner is already pretty much toast, is losing $8 million. Sen. Lindsey Graham is campaigning as South Carolina sees $11 million go to the wall. And Sen. John Cornyn will face a challenge in Texas as $48 million slated for pre-existing construction projects gets siphoned off to the border.


  84. says

    Trump’s Fox & Friends pals finally concede Mexico ain’t paying for that wall.

    “The president never should have said Mexico was gonna pay for the wall.”

    […] On Thursday, Trump’s dear friends on Fox & Friends finally admitted what has been obvious for years: this was an empty claim, a broken promise, and a huge failure on the part of Trump.

    The show’s famously pro-Trump hosts made the admission that Mexico is never paying for the wall in a segment highlighting the administration’s plan to unilaterally divert $3.6 billion in funds from 127 defense programs to begin major construction. […]

  85. says

    From the G liveblog:

    Johnson asks police what the police caution is.

    None of them read it out to him, so he tries to recite it himself. You do not have to say anything, but anything you do say may be taken down as evidence and used in evidence against you.

    (Except Johnson does not say it coherently. He stumbles, and gives up half way through. Is he expecting someone to help him out? It is not clear, but it looks as though he has given no thought at all to what he wants to say.)

  86. says

    Re blf’s #123 – the BMA tweeted: “@Jacob_Rees_Mogg insult about Dr David Nicholl is disgraceful. @djnicholl has courage and experience to speak the truth about the disaster of a no-deal Brexit. He should be praised not attacked.”

    They link to an interview with Dr. Nicholl and a piece about “the very real risks to our health service” from a no-deal Brexit. Hard to imagine the AMA doing the same.

  87. says

    ICE Office Must Stop Keeping All Asylum Seekers Locked Up, Federal Judge Orders

    The decision applies to the Southern states where ICE has concentrated asylum seekers.

    In 2016, Immigration and Customs Enforcement released 75 percent of eligible asylum seekers in Deep South detention centers on parole. By 2018, that figure had dropped to 1.5 percent. So far this year, it’s zero. And a federal judge says that’s not acceptable.

    […] Washington, DC, district court judge James Boasberg ordered the agency to provide asylum seekers detained in the Deep South with a fair chance of being released. ICE policy requires it to provide asylum seekers with individualized parole decisions and to release them if they don’t pose a threat to public safety or a flight risk. […]

    ICE has undertaken a massive expansion in the Deep South this year, beginning immigrant detention operations in eight new jails in Louisiana and Mississippi. Boasberg’s will ruling will provide hundreds, and potentially thousands, of asylum seekers with a meaningful chance of being able to fight their cases from outside detention.

    The Trump administration has argued, implausibly, that ICE’s 2009 parole policy remains in full effect. Boasberg did not buy that:

    Defendants offer absolutely no explanation for the precipitous nosedive in the parole-grant rates issued by an Office that has allegedly preserved the same underlying policy for making those decisions all along. […]

    […] Isaac Molina, a Nicaraguan doctor and asylum seeker, was one of the people denied parole this year by the New Orleans office. As I wrote in February, Molina was shot twice after providing medical attention to protestors in Managua. ICE denied his parole request even though he was still recovering from the gunshot wounds and had multiple relatives who could take care of him. Molina was finally released in April after being transferred to a detention center outside of the New Orleans office’s jurisdiction.

  88. blf says

    Recently, an extremely rare set of panda twins was born in the Berlin Zoo. They will eventually have to be sent to Big China. Cue some wonderful protests… Hong and Kong? Berlin’s panda cubs at centre of Chinese human rights row:

    They may have captured the public’s imagination, but the tiny, pink panda cubs born at Berlin zoo in early September have also spurred a national debate about whether panda diplomacy is blinding Germany to the human rights record of the Chinese government.

    [… A] competition to name them has increased pressure on the government of Angela Merkel, who started a trip to Beijing with a large economic delegation on Thursday.

    The tabloid Bild has called on Berliners to choose Hong and Kong as names for the cubs, in recognition of the protests that have been taking place in the territory for the past three months.

    Der Tagesspiegel newspaper has also taken up the baton, with its readers favouring Hong and Kong […]


    Even Hong Kong activists have been pulled into the debate, with the leading protester Joshua Wong urging the zoo to call the cubs Democracy and Freedom. “That way Germany could send a very clear signal to China,” Wong told Bild.


    There has been no official word yet on the cubs’ future. But according to the agreement drawn up between Berlin and Beijing, the cubs officially belong to China, which will in all probability reserve its right to name them. The cubs are likely to be sent to China in around three or four years’ time when they are able to fend for themselves.


  89. says

    “Give Me A Break”: Elizabeth Warren Just Cut Through the Dumbest Climate Argument

    “This is exactly what the fossil fuel industry wants us to be talking about.”

    Approaching hour six of the CNN climate crisis town hall, Elizabeth Warren broke the rhythm […]

    Warren, the seventh candidate to speak to the small audience of climate activists, woke viewers up when she challenged a question from CNN moderator Chris Cuomo. Cuomo asked about President Trump’s recent rollback of a regulation introduced under George W. Bush and finalized under Barack Obama to phase out less efficient lightbulbs: “Do you think that the government should be in the business of telling you what kind of light bulb you can have?”

    But the real subtext of his question wasn’t about Trump rollbacks, it was one of the right’s favorite talking points: the argument that climate change requires a major personal sacrifice of individual autonomy to government control.

    “Oh come on, give me a break,” Warren said with exasperation. “This is exactly what the fossil fuel industry wants us to be talking about. That’s what they want us to talk about: This is your problem.”

    […] Throughout the conversations with the candidates, CNN anchors kept returning to questions concerning false fears that a president could take away plastic straws, red meat, and even Amazon Prime. A president can’t and won’t be doing that in 2021. All of those fears about great personal sacrifice come straight from a Fox News obsession with deliberately misreading the non-binding Green New Deal resolution early on.

    Climate deniers seized on fears that major climate legislation would try to ban cow farts or plane rides, and they haven’t let go of those talking points ever since. […]

    Warren continued: “They want stir up a lot of controversy around your light bulbs, around your straws, and around your cheeseburgers, when 70 percent of the carbon that we’re throwing into the air comes from three industries.”

    Like the rest of the candidates, Warren arrived with a climate change plan that’s more aggressive than any we’ve ever seen from previous Democratic presidential contenders. She wasn’t the first candidate to field questions on light bulbs or burgers. But she was the first to challenge the basic Fox News framing that climate action would require the most sacrifice from everyday voters. She pointed out that really, it’s the everyday voters who end up paying the highest price from years of inaction. […]

  90. says


    CNN held its great big Climate Change Town Hall last night, a SEVEN-HOUR marathon of detailed discussion about what the 10 Democrats who’ll be in the next debate want to do about what they all agree is the greatest challenge we face. […] it turned out to be pretty good! […] We won’t try to summarize everything […]

    1: Everybody Agrees On Some Stuff

    Every one of the candidates was clear about the fact that the science is clear and we need to drastically cut emissions of greenhouse gases; the only variations are on how we should get there — and even on policy, there’s a lot of agreement. As the New York Times put it,

    If you are a Democratic candidate for president, you believe climate change is an existential threat not only to the United States but to human civilization. You believe the country needs to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 at the very latest. And there are certain policies you can’t avoid if you want to get there.

    Pretty much everyone wants a moratorium on oil and gas leases on public lands. Pretty much everyone wants to create incentives for more sustainable farming practices. And everyone wants to rejoin the Paris climate accord. […]

    Should nuclear power be part of the mix in moving away from fossil fuels? Booker and Andrew Yang both pointed out that nukes currently provide about 20 percent of US electric generation, and that there are promising nuclear technologies out there that wouldn’t risk meltdown like today’s aging reactors. But what the hell about the waste?

    […] Some candidates were clear on wanting a fracking ban right away, while others, like Julián Castro, would go a little slower. But again, broad agreement on where we have to go, probably put best by Castro:

    We had been saying that natural gas was a bridge fuel” a decade ago, he said. “We’re coming to the end of the bridge.

    […] We still have a chance to get this right, as Warren put it. But we have to stop delaying. We Can’t Be Distracted by Bullshit

    Elizabeth Warren was just one of several candidates who rejected the premise of dumb questions that don’t get at the reality of the climate crisis. Asked about a Trump rule that would roll back regulations requiring energy efficient light bulbs, she said that’s some bullshit, because it’s not about lightbulbs, it’s about the big stuff, although of course we should all do what we can […]

    70 percent of the pollution, of the carbon that we’re throwing into the air, comes from three industries.
    And those industries are all far bigger problems than light bulbs: buildings and construction, electric power, and the oil industry. […]

    A surprising number of the questions were darn good. And an unsurprising number of questions, like the light bulb one, which CNN hosts kept returning to, were flat out bad faith distractions. Cory Booker’s a vegan — would he ban cows? Booker handled that one with aplomb: Cheeseburgers are a dumb distraction, and you can eat what you want. But factory farms are bad not just for the environment; they’re also bad for the economy.

    Thanks to the corporate lobby […] we’re incentivizing those kinds of farm practices and not the ones that represent our heritage and support family farming.

    […] Andrew Yang floated the idea of a cash for clunkers program to help people get clean vehicles […]Pete Buttigieg pointed out that the auto industry somehow managed to meet mandates for higher fuel efficiency, and even resisted Trump’s attempts to undo efficiency standards. “We’re not going to have politicians figuring out every aspect,” he said, any more than President John F. Kennedy calculated rocket trajectories for the moon landing. “We set the goal and then we challenge Americans to live up to it.”

    Asked if he felt bad about traveling by airplane, Buttigieg again rejected the premise: Sure, individuals need to adjust how they live, but fuel efficient airliners won’t happen through individual ticket purchases: “no individual can be expected single-handedly to solve this problem. It’s going to require national action. This is why the human species invented government. It’s for dealing with issues that are too big for each of us to deal with on our own.”

    That’s exactly how the nominee, whoever she is, will have to handle the Republican bullshit machine and the stupid cable people who’ll echo it.

    […] There was very little flummery, sloganeering, or happy question-dodging. Buttigieg, Warren, and Booker struck me as having most thoroughly committed to making climate a central part of their platforms. […]

    In conclusion, we better wrap this up because we were only going to do quick impressions. It wasn’t boring like we thought it would be, and we’re looking forward to MSNBC’s upcoming climate forum, and a second CNN marathon on LGBTQ issues. In depth discussion: It’s a thing we need more of!

  91. lumipuna says

    Yes, [Marianne Williamson] thinks that the power of positive thinking, and creative visualization, can alter the path of hurricanes. In which case, I want to ask her what she was doing when Hurricane Dorian parked itself over the Bahamas for 51 hours (41 hours over the northern Bahamas).

    Because Alabamians are hard-praying people.

  92. says

    I’m glad to learn from the G liveblog that there’s growing rejection of Johnson’s cheap, disrespectful stunt today.

    Yvette Cooper, chair of the Commons Home Affairs committee:

    For Boris Johnson to make so many police stop their training and work to be part of his political stunt is an abuse of power.

    Police officers and trainees are overstretched and need to be able to get on with their job, not have to waste time listening to Boris Johnson’s political press conference.

    For Boris Johnson to draw so many of them into a long, election-driven event like this is completely inappropriate and it is unfair on the people of West Yorkshire who are entitled to expect that their police are allowed to get on with the job of working and training to keep them safe.

    I am writing to the Cabinet Secretary as well as the West Yorkshire Chief Constable, John Robins, to ask how this has happened and what guidelines were followed.

  93. says

    Sharpie-gate summarized by Mark Sumner:

    In his effort to prove that he’s infallible, Trump has demonstrated once again why he’s a laughingstock.

  94. says

    Geraldo Rivera says some true stuff, (mostly by accident), while trying to defend Trump on Fox and Friends:

    This is all clear to me what is happening is that this president gets the worst press of any president in the history of the republic. Everything he says and does is cross-checked and scrutinized to reveal him to be stupid, uninformed, or a liar, you know, it is very frustrating to see how other news networks obsess about any misstep or misstatement the president makes.

  95. blf says

    John Crace in the Grauniad, Bumbling Boris’s speech at police academy was classic Dom (I’m afraid I don’t get the joke here, which has been running for several days now, but “Dom” is Borris Johnson, and “Dommer” is his controller / dominatrix Dominic Cummings, the pair of whom Crace refers to as “Dom and Dommer” — huh?):

    These are the days of miracle and wonder. The country just laughed when Theresa May promised strong and stable leadership. Now it’s beginning to wonder if she might not have had a point. Classic Dom.

    Boris Johnson’s speech at a police academy in Wakefield was the shitshow to end all shitshows. It made his dystopian performances at the dispatch box over the previous two days look like models of sanity and coherence. Even May’s P45, loss of voice and collapsing scenery at the Tory party conference weren’t as excruciating to watch as this. The Clown Prince completely out of his head. Acid? Heroin? Cocaine? Or a cocktail of all three? If the UK is to be a failed state, it has found its ideal leader. Classic Dom.

    When half the country is shouting, “Stop the coup!” in protest at the prime minister shutting down parliament, choosing to launch your election campaign surrounded by police recruits at a training academy is not the best of looks. Either for the government or the police. But this was Boris. A man for whom other people are mere satellites orbiting his sun. […]

    What followed was a full-on breakdown. Both physical and mental. The narcissistic wound exposed as an infected open sore. Most leaders at least turn up with a speech they have prepared. However deathless the prose. Johnson prefers to wing it. The arrogant stream of pure unconsciousness. The bumbling worked for £25K after-dinner speeches when everyone was a bit pissed. It would work here. Classic Dom.

    He was pleased to be wherever it was he had come to. Ah yes, he thought, for the first time noticing the grim faces of the policemen and women whom he’d kept standing around waiting for more than an hour. Police. We needed more of them. Especially if he was going to waste their time like this. Classic Dom.


    There was this plan. He didn’t want an election. Oh no! And when didn’t he want an election? 15 October. That was why he was making an election speech for an election he didn’t want. He didn’t want the election so much he was going to try a second time to fool the Labour party into giving him the election he didn’t want. Thank you and goodnight. His eyes closed briefly as he appeared to pass out. Classic Dom.

    A few seconds later, he came to. What happened next? That was it. Questions. There were some people to ask him questions. Hello, Wakefield! Almost all the questions predictably focused on the resignation of his brother earlier that day. If he couldn’t even keep Jo in the party — let alone the other 21 other moderates he’d also slung out — what chance did he have of gaining the trust of the entire country? His mouth opened and closed, wordlessly. Classic Dom.


    Johnson continued ad-libbing. He’d die in a ditch if Britain wasn’t out of the EU by 31 October. Probably preferable to dying on his feet, as he was now. Just then, he heard a noise behind him and turned round. A policewoman had collapsed. He shrugged, took a sip of water, and carried on talking. She needed to toughen up a bit. Post-Brexit Britain was no place for the weak. Besides, his need was so clearly greater than hers. He was the World King. And if she died, he could always just recruit 20,001 new recruits. Classic Dom.


    Some readers’s comments:

    ● “Dead in a ditch or an extension… at last we know the wording of the second referendum.”

    ● So we’ve spent years and years criticising politicians for sticking to a bland script, and yet today Boris gets stick because he can go off script and not just stick to PR speak. Criticise the substance for sure, but don’t start complaining when the inevitable ‘strong and stable’ equivalent returns.
      (In reply) “We are criticising the substance, insofar as there was any.”

    ● “There is shit, there is Scheiße and there is dampfender Kuhfladen. Boris Johnson’s speech was the latter.”

    ● “Somewhere in Britain there is a man unknown to us today, but he’s about to become a national hero. Think of that. And we thought of him as a mere ditch digger.”

    ● “The three biggest myths of 2019 :
    1. The public still want Brexit
    2. Dominic Cummings is a tactical genius
    3. Boris Johnson is really a clever person pretending to be a bumbling imbecile”

    And on and on and on…

  96. says


    Israel @NewsChannelIL published today parts of Mrs Miriam Adelson statement to Israeli police in case 2000 involving bribery & breach of trust suspicions against the PM Netanyahu & against Yedioth Ahronoth publisher Mozes.

    According to transcript obtained by @guypch2news Mr & Mrs. Netanyahu (both) were bullying, berating Miriam A for her paper’s unsatisfactory protection for the PM. They called her up to yell and scold.

    They were very unhappy with the paper’s coverage, they wanted the chief executive editor Regev ousted. They held Miriam A over the phone complaining up to the point when she held the phone down and waited for the ranting to stop.

    All of the above happened (according to police reports) a decade after Yisrael Hayom established in order to provide a personal-‘journalism’ services for the sole benefit of the Netanyahus. But it was never enough for them. They wanted more from the Adelesons.

    After years of a personal-specifically suited paper for the PM & wife, after billions were poured into this pamphlet, Sara Netanyahu threw at Miriam A: ‘if Iran will get their nukes, and Israel will be wiped off, you will be blamed because you did not do enough to protect Bibi’!

    I suppose this israel local version of disloyal US-Jews to the Netanyahu ‘s dynasty

  97. blf says

    Rees-Muppet has apologised to Dr Nicholl, Rees-Mogg apologises after comparing no-deal medical expert to anti-vaxxer (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    The leading [sic] Brexiter Jacob Rees-Mogg has apologised after comparing a consultant who helped draw up no-deal medical plans to the disgraced anti-vaxxer Andrew Wakefield.

    The leader of the Commons acted late on Thursday evening under intense pressure from the medical profession, as well as Westminster colleagues. In an unprecedented move, England’s most senior doctor condemned Rees-Mogg over the comments, calling them “disrespectful”.


    On Thursday night, Nicholl tweeted that he accepted the apology. He said of Rees-Mogg: “Hopefully he will reflect on his choice of words better the next time . I would be grateful if he could address this in the {House of Commons} where his comments were first made.”

    [… O]n Thursday evening, Rees-Mogg caved to the pressure and released a statement that read: “I apologise to Dr Nicholl for the comparison with Dr Wakefield. I have the utmost respect for all of the country’s hardworking medical professionals and the work they do in caring for the people of this country. […]”


    Dr Nicholl is not the only one calling for an apology in the house of commons.

  98. blf says

    Pride flags greet Mike Pence on arrival in Iceland:

    Iceland’s president also pictured wearing rainbow bracelet to meet US vice-president [sic]

    As Mike Pence pulled up to Höfði House in Reykjavík, he was met not only by Iceland’s president, Guðni Jóhannesson, but also a row of rainbow flags.

    An office block belonging to the IT company Advania opposite the historic building had changed its flags on the morning of the US vice-president’s visit.

    “We just felt the need to celebrate diversity today and wanted to show that by flying the flags,” Ægir Már Þórisson, the company’s director, told the Icelandic news website Monitor.

    Another office nearby, the headquarters for the Efling trade union, had also switched the flags on its masts for Pride ones.


    Bloomberg’s White House correspondent, Justin Sink, pointed out on Twitter that Jóhannesson had been wearing a rainbow bracelet in pictures showing him shaking Pence’s hand. Iceland’s first lady, Eliza Reid, also wore a rainbow bracelet for the occasion.


    Johannesson also previously wore the bracelet to meet the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who is a supporter of anti-LGBT laws.

    Pence’s arrival in Iceland also raised eyebrows because of the amount of security he brought with him, including military jets and personnel, in a nation ranked as the world’s most peaceful.

    On Tuesday, Donald Trump said Pence could not be anti-gay because he had agreed to meet the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, who is gay, and his partner during an official visit to Ireland.

  99. says

    “Johnson’s nightmare: This is not how it was supposed to go”:

    …The Tory leader had an event planned in Yorkshire in the afternoon. In all likelihood it was originally intended to be the launch of his general election campaign but it had now been downgraded to… well, whatever it was.

    As ever, he’d been taking notes from the Donald Trump playbook. Like a straight-to-video V for Vendetta knockoff, he staged it so that he would speak in front of massed ranks of police officers. It was a grim spectacle, and not because of some anti-police prejudice. It was the sight of a prime minister politicising the police, using them as a backdrop so he could look tough on law and order.

    He turned up late. So for an hour the massed ranks of police had to stand there, unmoving, bolt upright, waiting for him, so he could use them for political advantage.

    When he finally arrived he looked shambolic, dishevelled, struggling to complete thoughts. He tried to create some light relief by attempting to remember the police caution. This is the sort of thing he used to do when speaking at corporate evenings – theatrical moments in which he appeared to forget the end of the joke he was telling or the name of the organisation who had thrown the event. It would always go down well. But the laughter wasn’t coming so easily anymore.

    He honestly just looked a bit mad. The sight of the prime minister spending what felt like several minutes trying to remember the words of the police caution was even slightly disturbing. Perhaps, if all the rest of his strategy were working, it would have been funnier. But given that everything was falling apart, it just looked like he had no idea what was going on.

    Then the questions from journalists came. This was his first set speech followed by questions since taking office. Literally the second question he took was whether he was going to resign. The rest were predictably dreadful. He looked hurt and disoriented by the ones on his brother.

    Then one of the police officers behind him seemed as if she was about to faint. She nearly collapsed, composed herself, then wobbled slightly. Johnson had kept her standing there so long that she was struggling to stay upright.

    He turned to her and asked: “Are you alright?” As if in response, she folded and went down on one knee. And then, astonishingly, he turned back to the cameras and just kept rambling on, seemingly oblivious or uninterested in what was happening behind him.

    It was a PR disaster of nearly Theresa-May-conference-speech proportions. But this time it was not the result of things the prime minister could not control, like letters falling off a wall. It was as a consequence of his own actions.

    One of the central arguments made by Johnson’s admirers when he was running to be leader was that he was one of life’s winners. It is a preposterous phrase with no meaning whatsoever. But if such a thing does exist, it doesn’t seem likely that it would look like this.

  100. says

    CNN – “Trump called Fox News correspondent into Oval Office to argue he wasn’t wrong about Alabama”:

    Fox News senior White House correspondent John Roberts had just finished his 3 p.m. live shot on Thursday when President Donald Trump beckoned him into the Oval Office.
    The President had one argument to make, according to an internal Fox email Roberts sent about the meeting provided to CNN.

    “He stressed to me that forecasts for Dorian last week had Alabama in the warning cone,” Roberts wrote. “He insisted that it is unfair to say Alabama was never threatened by the storm.”

    Roberts’ analysis of the meeting was that the President was “just looking for acknowledgment that he was not wrong for saying that at some point, Alabama was at risk — even if the situation had changed by the time he issued the tweet” on Sunday morning, in which he said the state “will most likely be hit.” The President also provided Roberts with graphics to make his points.

    “Just as I said, Alabama was originally projected to be hit. The Fake News denies it!” Trump tweeted on Thursday, along with graphics from the National Weather Service from last week — days before his tweet — showing Alabama had a small chance of experiencing some effects from Dorian. By the time Trump tweeted, those forecasts had changed.

    A White House aide familiar with the Oval Office meeting with Roberts said that Trump also voiced his displeasure about Fox News anchor Shepard Smith’s skeptical reporting about the Alabama map.

    The President summoned Roberts “to hit back at Shepard Smith,” the White House aide said.

    As the President’s homeland security and counterterror adviser Rear Adm. Peter Brown claimed in a statement issued late Thursday afternoon, Roberts said that in his visit to the Oval Office he learned that Trump on Sunday had been shown a graphic showing Hurricane Dorian proceeding north through Florida and touching the southeastern tip of Alabama with tropical storm force winds.

    A White House source told CNN on Thursday that Trump personally directed Brown to issue the statement. Brown reports to national security adviser John Bolton but Bolton did not ask Brown to release the statement, the source said.

  101. says

    Update to #58 – Playboy: “Today we celebrate a a major victory for free speech: our Washington Correspondent @BrianKarem returned to the White House today with his press pass restored. ‘If I hadn’t fought back, others who followed me could have suffered far more than I did’.”

    (Karem was interviewed on cable news about this a few days ago and the chyron read like “BRIAN KAREM: PLAYBOY WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT” and for a minute I thought they were calling him a “playboy WH correspondent.”)

  102. says

    Randy Halprin is a Jewish death row inmate. His trial judge called him a ‘fuckin’ Jew’ and a ‘goddamn [k***]’ and said Jews must ‘be shut down because they controlled all the money and all the power’.

    Texas will execute Halprin on Oct 10.

    More information on that judge, Vickers Cunningham, who also threatened to punish his children financially if they didn’t marry white people.

    He lost reelection in 2018 … by 25 votes.”

    Docs at the link. More: “Jewish groups call to halt execution of inmate who says judge was anti-Semitic.”

  103. says

    Today’s Guardian British-politics liveblog.

    From there:

    The chief constable of West Yorkshire police, John Robins, has said he was “disappointed” to see his officers used as a backdrop to a party political event staged by Boris Johnson yesterday, something that had not been agreed in advance. In a statement, Robins said:

    I am pleased that we were chosen as the focal point of the national recruitment campaign launch, but the good news of extra officers was overshadowed by the media coverage of other events.

    It was the understanding of West Yorkshire police that any involvement of our officers was solely about police officer recruitment. We had no prior knowledge that the speech would be broadened to other issues until it was delivered.

    Minutes before the speech, we were told that [a planned visit to the National Police Air Service] and subsequent brief to a small media pool had been cancelled. I was therefore disappointed to see my police officers as a backdrop to the part of the speech that was not related to recruitment.

  104. says

    NY AG Letitia James: “BREAKING: I’m launching an investigation into Facebook to determine whether their actions endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, or increased the price of advertising.

    The largest social media platform in the world must follow the law.”

  105. says

    Kyle Griffin:

    Four states are poised to cancel their 2020 GOP primaries and caucuses, a move that would cut off oxygen to Trump’s primary challengers.

    The moves, which critics call undemocratic, are the latest illustration of Trump’s total takeover of the GOP.

    “…which critics call undemocratic”

    (South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, and Kansas are the states.)

  106. says

    There are altogether too many separate ongoing House investigations into Trump and his gang. I don’t mean they aren’t all worthwhile and more than justified, but that it’s become a confusing thicket of seemingly unrelated probes when really they’re all related. When the impeachment inquiry gets going full steam, they should be divided by category: obvious crimes like obstruction of justice, witness tampering, lying to investigators, creating false records, bank fraud, tax fraud,…; abuse of power; emoluments; targeting civil servants for political or retaliatory reasons; human rights abuses; interfering with the faithful execution of laws; collaborating with foreign governments against the interests of the US; corruption and market manipulation; nepotism; record-keeping, transparency, and security violations; attacks on journalism; misleading the public; etc. This would bring together offenses that are currently being handled by separate committees into a larger set of narratives about Trump’s crimes against the presidency.

  107. says

    G liveblog:

    The Benn bill, intended to prevent a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, has just been approved by the House of Lords. It passed the upper house without being amended, which means that it does not have to go back to the House of Commons. It will become law as soon as it gets royal assent, which should happen on Monday.

    There were two votes earlier today, on Brexiter amendments intended to sabotage the bill, but they were easily defeated – by 268 votes to 47, and by 283 votes to 28.

    Earlier in the week a group of Tory Brexiter peers tried to filibuster a motion designed to allow the bill to clear the Lords by the end of today. But they backed down after dragging out a debate past 1am on Wednesday night/Thursday morning after the opposition parties agreed not to use guillotine motions.

    Also, “Opposition parties agree to block election until Brexit delay secured”:

    Opposition parties have agreed to reject Boris Johnson’s attempt to trigger a snap election for a second time on Monday, making it increasingly unlikely a poll will be held before 31 October.

    Jeremy Corbyn held the latest of a series of discussions with fellow opposition leaders on Friday morning, at which they agreed not to allow an election to take place until after a delay to Brexit has been secured.

    Downing Street has tabled a motion under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act for a second time asking MPs to approve an early general election. It requires the support of two-thirds of MPs to pass – impossible without the backing of opposition parties.

    Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts, who was involved in the talks, said: “We need to make sure that we get past 31 October, and an extension to article 50. We were in agreement that the prime minister is on the run. Boris is broken. We have an opportunity to bring down Boris, to break Boris, and to bring down Brexit – and we must take that.

    “Just as [it would have] this week, a vote for a general election would play into Boris Johnson’s hands. It would allow him to ignore the legislation that is presently going through the House of Lords.”

    She added: “Our intention is to be here, in this place, to hold him to account and to make sure that he abides by that law.”…

  108. tomh says

    @ SC #158
    Exactly right on the various investigations. This could have all been consolidated and settled months ago, if Pelosi had only allowed a formal inquiry to be opened.

  109. says

    Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO who was running an independent campaign for president, has shut down his campaign. Thank goodness.

    As far as the Democratic Primary goes, it looks like Bill de Blasio might be dropping out soon. “I’m going to go and try to get into the October debates, and if I can, I think that’s a good reason to keep going forward. And if I can’t, I think it’s really tough to conceive of continuing.” De Blasio did not qualify for the September debate.

  110. says

    Trump messed up a Medal of Freedom presentation.

    From NBC News:

    […] Trump on Thursday awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to basketball legend Jerry West.

    At a White House ceremony, Trump praised West — whose iconic dribble can be seen on the logo for the National Basketball Association — as an “extraordinary American” for his achievements on and off the court, saying the nation’s highest civilian honor was a “richly deserved” award.

    Well that’s all good. What did Trump add to spoil the event?

    From Steve Benen:

    [Trump] started reading Jerry West’s biographical information, including the fact that he was born and raised in West Virginia. At that point, Trump strayed from his prepared remarks and turned to Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), who was also in attendance.

    “I shouldn’t say this, Joe, but I won it by 43 points,” Trump told the senator, referring to West Virginia. “That’s a lot.”

    Turning back to Jerry West, the president added, “We love West Virginia. Probably helped you getting this award today.”

    Trump was almost certainly kidding, though the joke was rooted in the idea that if West had been born and raised in a blue state, he’d be less likely to receive the Medal of Freedom.

    Even at an award ceremony intended to honor someone else, Trump’s thoughts turned to Trump — and how impressed he is with himself.

    […] this president isn’t just inept when it comes to governing; Trump flubs his ceremonial duties, too.

    At last year’s White House Easter Egg Roll, for example, he delivered remarks – mostly to a group of children – in which he lied about the economy, talked about defense spending, and went on an extended riff about Democrats failing to meet his demands on immigration.

    It’s hardly the only example that comes to mind. Nearly as jarring was Trump’s recent visit to an El Paso hospital. […] And the paper-towel-throwing incident in Puerto Rico.

    The presidency is a profoundly difficult job that includes disparate responsibilities. It’s not yet clear which of these duties meets Trump’s unique skill set.


  111. says

    Followup to SC @157 and to Kyle’s earlier comment.

    Yes, the GOP deleting primaries in four states in an undemocratic move. Worse yet, the news is out that scrapping those primaries was done to shield Trump from embarrassment.

    From Politico:

    Four states are poised to cancel their 2020 GOP presidential primaries and caucuses, a move that would cut off oxygen to Donald Trump’s long-shot primary challengers.

    Republican parties in South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona and Kansas are expected to finalize the cancellations in meetings this weekend, according to three GOP officials who are familiar with the plans.

    The moves are the latest illustration of Trump’s takeover of the entire Republican Party apparatus. They underscore the extent to which [Trump’s] allies are determined to snuff out any potential nuisance en route to his renomination — or even to deny Republican critics a platform to embarrass him.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] both major parties have, on multiple occasions, scrapped presidential primaries and caucuses in years in which there’s an incumbent president running for a second term. Democratic officials in plenty of states, for example, canceled nominating contests in 2012 during Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. GOP officials in several states did the same thing in 2004 for George W. Bush.

    There wasn’t anything especially untoward about any of this: it’s expensive to administer primaries and caucuses, and when there’s an incumbent president running effectively unopposed within his or her party, it stands to reason state officials would balk at wasting scarce resources.

    But therein lies the rub: when an incumbent president isn’t running unopposed, it’s a different story.

    Donald Trump is obviously the overwhelming favorite to win his party’s 2020 nomination, but he’s not without rivals. I don’t just mean unknown token opponents who are running for fun; I mean there are actual Republicans who’ve won multiple elections for major offices vying for the GOP nomination.

    Former Gov. William Weld was elected to statewide office twice. Joe Walsh was elected to Congress. Mark Sanford was a two-term governor and a three-term congressman, and while he hasn’t yet announced his intentions, the South Carolinian appears to be moving closer to a national campaign.

    Are any of these Republicans likely to defeat Trump in a primary? No. But they’re not just vanity candidates, either, and it’s not unreasonable to think the party’s voters deserve a choice, even if they’re likely to choose the incumbent.

  112. tomh says

    When the 1970 Clean Air Act was passed, California law was more stringent than the Act required, so it was grandfathered in and allowed to seek waivers to regulate air quality to a greater degree. The Trump administration has been trying for two years to negate this part of the law. This opens a new front in the battle.
    Justice Dept. Opens Antitrust Inquiry Into Automakers’ Emissions Pact With California

    The Justice Department has opened an antitrust inquiry into the four major automakers that struck a deal with California this year to reduce automobile emissions, according to people familiar with the matter, escalating a standoff between President Trump, California and the auto industry over one of his most significant rollbacks of climate regulations.

    The Trump administration is moving to dramatically roll back Obama-era rules designed to reduce car emissions that contribute to global warming, an effort major automakers have publicly opposed. The administration is also considering a plan to revoke California’s legal authority to enforce stricter greenhouse gas emissions rules within its state borders, putting the two sides on a collision course.

    In July, four automakers — Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen of America, Honda and BMW — announced that they had reached an agreement with California to stick with standards slightly less stringent than the Obama-era rules but would nevertheless require automakers to significantly improve the fuel economy of their vehicles. The announcement came as an embarrassment for the Trump administration, which assailed the move as a “P.R. stunt.”

    Now, the Justice Department is investigating whether the four automakers violated federal antitrust laws by reaching a side deal to follow California’s stricter rules, those people said.

    Top lawyers from the Environmental Protection Agency and Transportation Department on Friday sent a letter to Mary Nichols, California’s top clean air official, saying, “The purpose of this letter is to put California on notice” that its deal with automakers “appears to be inconsistent with federal law.”

    Honda, Ford and BMW confirmed they had been contacted on the matter by the Justice Department, and said they were cooperating. Volkswagen declined to comment.

  113. blf says

    More sharpiegate (from the Guarniad’s current live States blog):

    Trump’s re-election campaign is now fundraising off Sharpiegate, giving supporters the chance to buy markers so that they, too, can alter maps showing the potential path of a hurricane and unnecessarily raise alarm in a state out of the storm’s way: Buy the official Trump marker, which is different than every other marker on the market, because this one has the special ability to drive @CNN and the rest of the fake news crazy!

    Of course, this tweet from Trump’s campaign manager [Brad Parscale ] gets the order of events surrounding Sharpiegate a little backwards.

    The media isn’t still covering the altered map because it’s going crazy. It’s covering the story because the president [sic] is apparently having trouble letting the matter go, repeatedly tweeting (as recently as this morning) his false claim that his warning about the hurricane hitting Alabama was accurate.

    So if there’s anyone who this story is driving crazy, it doesn’t seem like it’s the media.

    And, a few minutes earlier:

    [… O]ne last thing [sic] about Sharpiegate: it appears the altered map of Hurricane Dorian, which was changed to include Alabama in the storm’s potential path, was the work of the president [sic] himself.

    The Washington Post reports:

    It was Trump who used a black Sharpie to mark up an official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map, which he displayed during an Oval Office briefing on Wednesday, according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

    ‘No one else writes like that on a map with a black Sharpie,’ the official said of the map, which added Alabama into the hurricane’s potential pathway inside the loop of the marker.

  114. blf says

    Donald Trump Has Never Explained a Mysterious $50 Million Loan. Is It Evidence of Tax Fraud?:

    Donald Trump’s massive debts — he owes hundreds of millions of dollars — are the subject of continuous congressional and journalistic scrutiny. But for years, one Trump loan has been particularly mystifying: a debt of more than $50 million that Trump claims he owes to one of his own companies. According to tax and financial experts, the loan, which Trump has never fully explained, might be part of a controversial tax avoidance scheme known as debt parking. Yet a Mother Jones investigation has uncovered information that raises questions about the very existence of this loan, presenting the possibility that this debt was concocted as a ploy to evade income taxes — a move that could constitute tax fraud.

    Here’s what is publicly known about this mystery debt: On the personal financial disclosure forms that Trump must file each year as president [sic], he has divulged that he owes “over $50 million” to a company called Chicago Unit Acquisition LLC. The forms note that this entity is fully owned by Trump. In other words, Trump owes a large chunk of money to a company he controls.

    The disclosures state that this loan is connected to Trump’s hotel and tower in Chicago, and the forms reveal puzzling details about Chicago Unit Acquisition: It earns no revenue — suggesting that Trump was not paying interest or principal on the loan — and Trump assigns virtually no value to Chicago Unit Acquisition. Something doesn’t add up. Under basic accounting principles, a firm that is owed money and has no outstanding debt should be worth at least as much as it is owed. The loan has another odd feature: It is identified as a “springing” loan, a type of loan made to borrowers who are viewed as credit risks. Known sometimes as “bad boy” loans, these agreements allow the lender to impose harsh repayment terms if certain criteria aren’t met. These are not the type of loan terms that someone is likely to impose on himself.

    [… more details…]

    To recap: Trump claims he bought a debt related to his Chicago venture, but neither of the two loans associated with this property appear to have been purchased. The Deutsche Bank loan was refinanced. The Fortress debt, according to sources with knowledge of the transaction, was canceled. And this raises a question: Did Trump create a bogus loan to evade a whopping tax bill on about $48 million of income?


    Could the Chicago Unit Acquisition loan be legitimate? The tax and real estate experts interviewed by Mother Jones had a difficult time explaining what this transaction could be. And the Trump Organization offered no explanations of its own. The company did not respond to a detailed list of questions from Mother Jones regarding Chicago Unit Acquisition and this loan. Nor did the White House.


  115. says

    A good analysis of Trump’s sharpie-gate madness from Mark Sumner:

    […] Trump isn’t moaning on about the hurricane because it distracts from the fact that he’s holding children in cages. He’s doing both things for the same reason—because he feels privileged to define reality and morality as it pleases him, and freedom to express his anger at the slightest sign that someone disagrees.

    […] Trump has now provided nine tweets and five maps to justify his claim that Alabama was threatened by the hurricane. Trump has also turned his mistake into something he blames on his most consistent scapegoat, the “fake news.” But it wasn’t anyone in the media who pointed out that Trump was wrong; it was the National Weather Service. That Weather Service employee didn’t post a tweet noting that Alabama wasn’t in danger to thwart Trump—they did so because it’s important that the public get accurate information, especially in emergency circumstances.

    But Trump isn’t concerned about accuracy. Or an emergency. He’s continued to insist that there was a “95% chance” of damage in Alabama, even while showing a map that demonstrates that—in the very worst possibility—one corner of that state had a 5% chance of seeing winds that fell well short of hurricane strength. […] seizing on a map from more than three days before he made his Alabama-tweet to obtain one that still doesn’t show what he claims.

    In defense of his claim that he was right about Alabama, Trump is demonstrating that 1) he can’t read the clear indicators on the map he’s holding up, and 2) he was paying so little attention that he was issuing warnings on information that was several days out of date. And of course, he also lied. […]

    Of course, the line on the map was drawn by Trump. When he was asked if the weather map had been altered, Trump said, “I don’t know. I don’t know.” But he did know. He did the altering.

    And not listed among the Post’s count of Trump’s SharpieGate cover-up efforts was that on Thursday, Trump forced a rear admiral to march out in front of the White House and continue the lie. Homeland Security adviser Peter Brown read from a statement to say, “While speaking to the press on Sunday, Sept. 1, the President addressed Hurricane Dorian and its potential impact on multiple states, including Alabama. The president’s comments were based on that morning’s Hurricane Dorian briefing, which included the possibility of tropical storm force winds in southeastern Alabama.” […]

    Trump’s mistake was simple. The Sharpie is ridiculous. But the lengths to which Trump is willing to go in order to prove himself “right” aren’t silly. They’re as dangerous as any storm.


  116. says

    Yes, Trump and the RNC are fundraising off of Trump’s spiral into madness over sharpie gate. Trump’s Republican opponent in the Republican presidential primary, Joe Walsh is also fundraising off of Trump’s madness, but in a different way.

    Since the guy in the White House is a pathological liar, we customized his favorite marker to give him some advice: “DON’T LIE.”

    Chip in $25 or more, and we’ll send you your very own “DON’T LIE” sharpie.

  117. says


    Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign sent letters to major technology companies Friday morning imploring them to do more to root out disinformation ahead of the 2020 election.

    The pointed appeals, from campaign manager Jen O’Malley Dillon, came after a conspiracy theory falsely linking the former Texas congressman to the gunman who killed seven people in two west Texas towns on Saturday was allowed to spread on social media this week, garnering thousands of shares and, according to the campaign, at one point becoming the second-highest-trending Google search query related to the candidate in the preceding seven days.

    Among those who amplified the deceptive claim, which appeared to originate on Twitter […], were Anthony Shaffer, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer and member of an advisory board whose mission is to promote President Trump, and Sebastian Gorka, who worked briefly in the White House.

    Otherwise, many of the accounts that promoted the falsehoods exhibited botlike characteristics, […] the original tweet received a first boost from accounts that behaved like bots […]

    After briefly suspending the instigating account, which operates under the handle @suemo54 and the name “Sue Moore,” Twitter said Thursday it would not remove the posts because they do not violate the company’s policies. […]

    sense of alarm among some Democrats that not enough has been done to immunize the country’s information landscape from the sort of attacks perpetrated by Russia in the lead-up to the 2016 election, which prosecutors and intelligence officials say were designed to help elect Trump. […]

    O’Rourke has not been the only Democratic presidential candidate subject to smears on social media. In June, Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, shared — and then removed — a tweet falsely claiming that Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) was not genuinely a black American because her father is Jamaican. […]

    Washington Post link

    Do we really think that a presidential candidate who doubles down on his lies about the track of a hurricane will pressure any of his supporters to stick to the facts on social media platforms? Do we really think that any of Trump’s supporters will take a serious approach to restricting the spread of disinformation via bots and other means? Do we really think the Trump administration wants to hold social media giants like Twitter accountable for their part in the spread of disinformation?

  118. says

    New Yorker – “The Secret Files of the Master of Modern Republican Gerrymandering”:

    Thomas Hofeller preached secrecy as he remapped American politics from the shadows. The Republican Party operative, known as the master of the modern gerrymander, trained other G.O.P. operatives and legislators nationwide to secure their computer networks, guard access to their maps, and never send e-mails that they didn’t want to see published by the news media. In training sessions for state legislators and junior line drawers, he used a PowerPoint presentation that urged them to “avoid recklessness” and “always be discreet,” and warned that “emails are the tool of the devil.”

    Hofeller did not follow his own advice. Before his death, in August, 2018, he saved at least seventy thousand files and several years of e-mails. A review of those records and e-mails—which were recently obtained first by The New Yorker—raises new questions about whether Hofeller unconstitutionally used race data to draw North Carolina’s congressional districts, in 2016. They also suggest that Hofeller was deeply involved in G.O.P. mapmaking nationwide, and include new trails for more potential lawsuits challenging Hofeller’s work, similar to the one on Wednesday which led to the overturning of his state legislative maps in North Carolina.

    Hofeller’s files include dozens of intensely detailed studies of North Carolina college students, broken down by race and cross-referenced against the state driver’s-license files to determine whether these students likely possessed the proper I.D. to vote. The studies are dated 2014 and 2015, the years before Hofeller helped Republicans in the state redraw its congressional districts in ways that voting-rights groups said discriminated on the basis of race. North Carolina Republicans said that the maps discriminated based on partisanship but not race. Hofeller’s hard drive also retained a map of North Carolina’s 2017 state judicial gerrymander, with an overlay of the black voting-age population by district, suggesting that these maps—which are currently at the center of a protracted legal battle—might also be a racial gerrymander.

    Other files provide new details about Hofeller’s work for Republicans across the country. Hofeller collected data on the citizen voting-age population in North Carolina, Texas, and Arizona, among other states, as far back as 2011. Hofeller was part of a Republican effort to add a citizenship question to the census, which would have allowed political parties to obtain more precise citizenship data ahead of the 2020 redistricting cycle. State legislative lines could then have been drawn based on the number of citizen voters, which Hofeller believed would make it easier to pack Democrats and minorities into fewer districts, giving an advantage to Republicans.

    Other documents show that Hofeller was hired by a Massachusetts Republican who sought to use the Voting Rights Act provision for majority/minority seats to draw a single district containing all of Boston, so that Republicans could make inroads into an otherwise entirely Democratic congressional delegation. Hofeller drew several sets of maps, but the effort went nowhere. Additional files document his work in Mississippi, Alabama, and Virginia, among other states.

    E-mails also connect Hofeller to redistricting efforts in Florida. Top Republican officials in the state have denied that they played any official role in drawing the state’s legislative and congressional districts in 2011. A 2010 state constitutional amendment barred partisan gerrymandering in Florida. E-mails show that Hofeller communicated with and visited top G.O.P. political operatives in Florida in 2011. The operatives helped organize or draw state legislative and congressional maps that matched the districts that were later enacted. The operatives insisted, at a trial, that drawing the maps was only a hobby. A Florida judge found that argument unconvincing, concluding that the G.O.P. conducted a stealth redistricting operation that snuck partisan maps into the public process and made a “mockery” of the state’s constitutional amendments.

    Hofeller invoiced the Republican attorney and others, including national Republican organizations, for tens of thousands of dollars between 2011 and 2017. He often applied what he called a “professional discount.” In an August, 2011, e-mail to another Republican in North Carolina, Hofeller wrote, “I would propose billing this as a flat rate of $36,000 for the four-month period—unless you want the billing to show actual hours. If the issue comes up in deposition or court, we will not then be faced with details, but rather with a flat rate of $9,000 per month.”

    More than two dozen PowerPoint presentations in Hofeller’s files show how he travelled the nation throughout 2009, 2010, and 2011, instilling the importance of redistricting in conversations with state legislators….

    E-mails suggest that Hofeller’s commitment to the Republican cause never wavered. The day after receiving a grim prognosis for lung cancer and a kidney tumor, Hofeller wrote a friend that he didn’t plan to slow down. “I still have time to bedevil the Democrats with more redistricting plans before I exit,” he wrote, on May 21st. “Look my name up on the Internet and you can follow the damage.”

    Much more at the link.

  119. blf says

    In N.Ireland, DUP leader joins anti-abortion protest at Stormont:

    DUP leader Arlene Foster was among thousands of people who took part in a silent protest outside the North’s Parliament Buildings at Stormont to show their opposition to the planned legalisation of abortion in Northern Ireland.

    The North’s former first minister said she was joining thousands of people from across all backgrounds tonight, to stand together and defend the rights of the unborn child. Both lives matter.

    The protest was organised by NI Voiceless, an anti-abortion group which was set up to oppose legislation passed by the UK parliament which will permit abortion in Northern Ireland.


    Abortion is currently illegal in Northern Ireland in most cases, including in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, incest or rape.

    The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act, which was passed by MPs in July, requires the British government to regulate to provide access to abortion in Northern Ireland if the North’s devolved government at Stormont is not restored by October 21st.

    It would bring the law in Northern Ireland into line with the rest of the UK.

    There has been no Assembly at Stormont since January 2017, when the North’s power-sharing government collapsed amid a row over a botched renewable heating scheme.

    More than 1,000 women from Northern Ireland travelled to England and Wales for an abortion in 2018, according to NI department of health figures.


    The organiser, Sarah Crutchley, said […] Concerned citizens like myself, of all ages, religions and political persuasions, can come together and express our deep concern and dissatisfaction with the decisions made in Westminster to impose extreme abortion laws in our country. […]

  120. blf says

    US Democrats to investigate Pence’s stay at Trump hotel in Doonbeg [Ireland]:

    US House Democrats have launched an investigation into vice president [sic] Mike Pence’s stay at a hotel owned by president [sic] Donald Trump during a visit to Ireland this week, two committees said on Friday.


    Elijah Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, wrote to the White House, Trump Organisation, US Secret Service and the vice president’s office seeking documents on the visit by September 19th.

    The letters cite media reports indicating the golf club had been a “problematic investment” for Mr Trump’s company and had not been profitable in years.

    “The Committee does not believe that US taxpayer funds should be used to personally enrich President [sic] Trump, his family, and his companies,” Mr Cummings wrote, saying the stay could be a potential conflict of interest and violate the US Constitution.

    Mr Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, told journalists that Mr Trump had suggested Mr Pence stay at the property, though Mr Trump said later he had not been involved with the decision.


  121. blf says

    From the Onion, Nation’s Bison Hold Lavish Fundraiser In Effort To Get 2020 Candidates To Support Environment:

    In a glitzy venue filled with the biggest names in the wildlife community, the nation’s bison hosted an opulent gala fundraiser Friday in an effort to convince the 2020 Democratic candidates to support the environment. “This is a great opportunity for us to get a lot of face time with the presidential candidates about addressing our needs in their platforms,” said Heidi Grumblebelt, a 2000-pound spokesbison for the “Center For Herd Progress” super PAC, looking radiant in an Alexander McQueen gown as she showed off the grass dishes at each $1000-a-trough table setting. “This year we’ve partnered with sister organizations in the tree and eagle communities, many of whom donated prizes for our silent auction. We know that money talks, so hosting this event for major Democratic candidates is the best shot that American bison have of seeing their agenda in action.” […]

  122. says

    A few quotes from Marina Hyde’s “Dazed and confused, Johnson stumbles into the twilight zone with a police escort”:

    Despite practising since boyhood, Boris Johnson’s entire demeanour is that of a man who has won a competition to lead the country for a day.

    His [PMQs] delivery was that of a man finding out in real time that material which slayed at the accountancy corporate he did in 2007 is less well received by those who haven’t drunk themselves to within an hour of renal failure. That is as much as 30% of the House of Commons.

    Having very belatedly taken the stage, Johnson proceeded to die on his arse in front of rows of police officers. Does this technically count as a death in custody? Certainly, it bore all the hallmarks of such an event, of which there have been 1,718 since 1990, with not a single conviction for murder or manslaughter. Which is to say: it was brutal and disturbing, it happened right in front of multiple police pretending not to notice, and the victim was officially concluded to have done it to himself. (Thank you in advance to the Police Federation for their forthcoming letters on this paragraph. I’ll make time to to read them when I retire at 50 after three years on the sick.)

  123. blf says

    Eric Trump resumes the lead as the dumbest hair furor child (from the Grauniad’s current live States blog):

    The president’s second son, Eric Trump, is being mocked by journalists for accusing a Washington Post reporter of sending … well, a pretty normal email.

    These are the tactics used by the @WashingtonPost. @JeffBezos – you should be very proud…

    [… Image of Pulitzer prize winning journalist David Fahrenthold’s e-mail introducing himself and leaving his contact details…]

    From a Daily Beast reporter [Lachlan Markay]: “Lol is this supposed to make Fahrenthold look bad? He looks like a total pro here”


    Eric has basic facts about journalism explained to him. And some snarking: “It’s a shame this polite and professional email didn’t meet your family’s high standards for journalism.”

  124. says

    Yahoo – “Istanbul opposition leader sentenced to nearly 10 years”:

    The head of Turkey’s main opposition party in Istanbul was sentenced to nearly 10 years on Friday on a range of charges including “terrorist propaganda” and insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    The charges related mostly to tweets that Canan Kaftancioglu, of the secular Republican People’s Party (CHP), posted between 2012 and 2017.

    “The decisions are not taken in the courts, but in the (presidential) palace,” she told hundreds of supporters outside the court after the judgement.

    Kaftancioglu, a doctor by profession, played a key role in the shock victory of the CHP’s new Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu earlier this year — the first time Erdogan’s party had lost power in Turkey’s biggest city for 25 years.

    “This trial is aimed at punishing Istanbul and those who helped the victory of the people of Istanbul. I will never give up my ideas and my convictions. They think they can scare us but we will continue to speak,” she said.

    The CHP said the sentences must be confirmed by an appeals court before Kaftancioglu can be sent to prison.

    Among the tweets used by the prosecution against Kaftancioglu was one in which she criticised the death of a 14-year-old boy hit by a tear gas grenade during the mass “Gezi Park” protests of 2013.

    Her tweets also criticised the response to the 2016 coup.

    She received sentences on five charges, including 20 months for “humiliating” the state, 18 months for “insulting a public official”, 28 months for “insulting the president” and 32 months for “inciting the people to hatred”.

    Her “terrorist propaganda”, for which she was given 18 months, consisted of quoting a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting a bloody insurgency against the state since 1983.

    In their ruling, the judges said they were not suspending the sentences because Kaftancioglu had not shown remorse….

    See here for more background and context.

  125. says

    Jon Homenuk:

    So, in case you were looking for some clarification, NOAA just threw a NWS office under the bus for stating that Dorian would not impact Alabama.

    They also lied in their own statement, by stating that Alabama was expected to be impacted by TS force winds in forecasts thru 9/2.

    Let me rephrase that for clarification:

    A federal agency just undermined one of its own divisions – who’s employees work around the clock to provide the public with critical information – because the President was wrong in a tweet and can’t admit it.

    And finally, let’s be perfectly clear about what this is:

    A complete disgrace. An embarrassment for NOAA, NWS and meteorology.

    The NWS is filled with professionals who work extremely hard to build trust & provide a service to the public.

    This is a complete slap in the face.

    And one last thing before I log the heck off for the night:

    Thank you @NWSBirmingham. Your work is never unappreciated.

  126. says

    Olga Lautman:

    The lessons that should be learned from trump’s Alabama insane rants are that Trump is an authoritarian who is willing to manipulate data and force people in his regime and our tax funded agencies to demonstrate loyalty while attacking the press reporting life-saving facts

    Trump doing this potentially endangered lives and may have caused confusion among Alabama residents. Just like Putin, Trump doesn’t care about citizens. Now imagine what Trump will do during elections if Dems win. This will be minor compared to what he is capable of doing.

    This is why I keep repeating that Trump/his regime must be held accountable now/months ago. Failing to hold them accountable has only emboldened them. Waiting solely for election will further allow this regime to dismantle our agencies and consolidate power.

  127. says

    Kevin Kruse: “For no reason at all, let me just note that in previous presidential administrations there were actually officials who — when ordered to do something they considered illegal or unwise or just plain embarrassing — didn’t do it.

    They resigned instead and kept their dignity.”

  128. says

    Here we go – Politico – “Air Force crew made an odd stop on a routine trip: Trump’s Scottish resort”:

    In early Spring of this year, an Air National Guard crew made a routine trip from the U.S. to Kuwait to deliver supplies.

    What wasn’t routine was where the crew stopped along the way: President Donald Trump’s Turnberry resort, about 50 miles outside Glasgow, Scotland.

    Since April, the House Oversight Committee has been investigating why the crew on the C-17 military transport plane made the unusual stay — both en route to the Middle East and on the way back — at the luxury waterside resort, according to several people familiar with the incident. But they have yet to receive any answers from the Pentagon.

    The inquiry is part of a broader, previously unreported probe into U.S. military expenditures at and around the Trump property in Scotland. According to a letter the panel sent to the Pentagon in June, the military has spent $11 million on fuel at the Prestwick Airport — the closest airport to Trump Turnberry — since October 2017, fuel that would be cheaper if purchased at a U.S. military base. The letter also cites a Guardian report that the airport provided cut-rate rooms and free rounds of golf at Turnberry for U.S. military members.

    Taken together, the incidents raise the possibility that the military has helped keep Trump’s Turnberry resort afloat — the property lost $4.5 million in 2017, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018.

    “The Defense Department has not produced a single document in this investigation,” said a senior Democratic aide on the oversight panel. “The committee will be forced to consider alternative steps if the Pentagon does not begin complying voluntarily in the coming days.”

    On previous trips to the Middle East, the C-17 had landed at U.S. air bases such as Ramstein Air Base in Germany or Naval Station Rota in Spain to refuel, according to one person familiar with the trips. Occasionally the plane stopped in the Azores and once in Sigonella, Italy, both of which have U.S. military sites, the person added.

    But on this particular trip, the plane landed in Glasgow — a pitstop the five-man crew had never experienced in their dozens of trips to the Middle East. The location lacked a U.S. base and was dozens of miles away from the crew’s overnight lodging at the Turnberry resort.

    Had the crew needed to make a stop in the U.K., Lakenheath Air Base is situated nearby in England. The layover might have been cheaper, too: the military gets billed at a higher rate for fuel at commercial airports.

    One crew member was so struck by the choice of hotel — markedly different than the Marriotts and Hiltons the 176th maintenance squadron is used to — that he texted someone close to him and told him about the stay, sending a photo and noting that the crew’s per diem allowance wasn’t enough to cover food and drinks at the ritzy resort.

    The revelation that an Air Force mission may have helped line the president’s pockets comes days after Vice President Mike Pence was pressed about his decision to stay at Trump’s property in Doonbeg, Ireland, despite its location hundreds of miles away from his meetings in Dublin. The Oversight Committee is also investigating Pence’s stay at the resort.

    Several weeks after being alerted to the curious overnight stop, the Oversight Committee wrote a letter to acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan asking for documents related to Defense Department expenditures at Trump Turnberry and the nearby Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

    The letter, signed by signed by House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), notes that U.S. military expenditures at the airport “appear to have increased substantially since the election.”

    Prestwick Airport has long been debt-ridden. The Scottish government bought it in 2013 for £1, but it has continued to lose money in the years since. In June, the government announced its intent to sell the airport, which the panel’s letter described as “integral” to the success of the Turnberry property, 30 miles away.

    Because of that, the lawmakers argued that the spending at the airport — in addition to the spending at the Trump property — raises concerns about conflicts of interest and possible violations of the domestic emoluments clause of the Constitution,…

    The letter asks the Pentagon for all communications between the Defense and State Departments related to “per diem” allowances in Scotland, as well as “all pre-audit flags related to air crew travel” through the Prestwick Airport and Turnberry resort, “or travel allowances beyond the normal allocations in the Defense Travel System.”

  129. says

    Yahoo – “Tensions mount between Trump, Pence camps heading into 2020 election”:

    …The relationship between their political teams has soured greatly in the past year, according to a dozen Trump and Pence aides and Republican advisers familiar with the dynamic. In particular, rumors that Kushner and Ivanka Trump wanted to consider replacements for Pence — specifically trying to find a woman running mate to help win back the suburbs in 2020 — have worried the vice president’s camp, according to Trump and Pence campaign advisers who spoke on background for this story.

  130. says

    CNN – “House panel to take formal steps on impeachment probe next week”:

    The House Judiciary Committee is prepared to vote next week on a resolution laying out the procedures for its investigation now that it is actively considering moving to impeach President Donald Trump, a major step toward formalizing its sweeping probe, according to multiple sources familiar with the effort.

    The vote, which is expected to occur on Wednesday, will lay out the ground rules for conducting hearings now that the committee has publicly announced it is considering recommending articles of impeachment against Trump. It is expected to follow the precedent set in 1974 over the committee’s procedures during then-President Richard Nixon’s impeachment proceedings.

    Sources told CNN on Friday that the resolution is expected to spell out that Chairman Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, has the authority to call hearings at either the full committee or subcommittee level in connection with its impeachment deliberations.

    The resolution, sources say, is expected to make clear that future House Judiciary hearings can be conducted in ways different from most congressional hearings since the panel is considering impeachment. For instance, the resolution is expected to authorize committee staff counsels to question witnesses, something that is typically not done at congressional hearings.

    The resolution also will spell out how secret grand jury information can be reviewed in closed-door sessions. And it will say that the President’s counsel can respond in writing to the committee.

    These new procedures could be on display in mid-September, when former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski is scheduled to testify, along with two former White House aides — Rob Porter and Rick Dearborn — who have all been subpoenaed by the panel to testify over allegations of obstruction of justice.

    The news comes as Democrats are broadening their impeachment probe to focus on a range of matters, including potential violations of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution and reports that the President dangled pardons to officials if they broke the law to carry out his immigration policies.

  131. says

    Worth noting: NOAA resides within the Dept. of Commerce, which is run by Wilbur Ross. That’s right, the same guy who tried unsucessfully to insert politics into the Census. So, I’m sure this unsigned, Friday evening statement from NOAA is completely on the level.”

  132. says

    RFERL – “Freed Prisoners Land In Kyiv, Moscow To Complete Swap”:

    Seventy Russians and Ukrainians at the center of a highly anticipated prisoner swap between the soured neighbors have arrived in Moscow and Kyiv, respectively.

    The September 7 exchange marks a seemingly rare breakthrough that observers say could pave the way for fresh talks on ending a five-year war between Ukrainian government forces and Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

    President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and a jubilant afternoon crowd greeted the 35 freed Ukrainians on the tarmac at Boryspil International Airport.

    They included Oleh Sentsov, an outspoken filmmaker convicted by Russian on dubious terrorism charges after its invasion of Crimea, and appeared to include the 24 Ukrainian sailors captured last year by Russia near the Kerch Strait.

    Standing next to the plane, Zelenskiy called it a “first step” toward ending the conflict and “the first chapter” in new relations with Russia.

    In Moscow, the 35 freed individuals included RIA Novosti journalist Kirill Vyshinsky and Ukrainian national Volodymyr Tsemakh, a “person of interest” to international investigations into the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 shoot-down that killed 298 people in 2014.

    Tsemakh’s release was seen as particularly sensitive because of that investigation and his command role in an air-defense unit of Russia-backed separatists at the time of the MH17 disaster.

    Forty members of the European Parliament this week had urged Ukraine not to include him in any exchange, calling him a “key suspect.”

    Sentsov delighted in being home after five years in Russian custody, saying, “I thank all the people who have fought for us.”…

  133. says

    Gaby Hinsliff in the Guardian – “Think Boris Johnson is toxic to voters? Don’t be so sure”:

    …Women who were Republicans to start with were, unsurprisingly, 29% more likely to vote for Trump than those who weren’t. But women who scored highly for racial resentment, sexist attitudes and socially authoritarian values were 37% more likely to do so. These women weren’t holding their noses and voting for Trump despite his unreconstructed views – but because of them. Women for whom feminism is a dirty word may still be a relatively niche group in Britain electorally, but there are almost certainly more of them than liberals like to think.

    One in four women in a recent poll for the charity Hope Not Hate agreed that “feminism is to blame of making some men feel marginalised and demonised in society”. Two-thirds of people polled for Sky News last year thought feminism had either gone too far, or as far as it should. Even at the height of the MeToo movement inspired by the downfall of Harvey Weinstein in 2017, some women still took it on themselves to argue that maybe young actresses shouldn’t go to producers’ hotel rooms late at night if they didn’t want to get assaulted, or that women should stop portraying themselves as helpless victims; just knee the office creep in the groin, rather than running to HR. There are rich pickings here for politicians unscrupulous enough to go after them – it’s a backlash waiting to be exploited.

    Too pessimistic? Perhaps. But the last three years have exposed the idea of a broad moral consensus, some unwritten national agreement on the red lines politicians shouldn’t cross, for the comforting myth it is. Old moral certainties are dissolving in the acid bath of Brexit. Being caught out in a barefaced lie isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker now, if you think all politicians are liars anyway. The Tories’ current poll lead seemingly confounds those who have spent decades arguing the party could only win by detoxifying the brand, appealing to women and minority voters – but what if the rules have changed?

    After a week in which Johnson lost his majority, his control over Brexit and the trust of his brother in quick succession, it’s tempting to believe that his sidekick Dominic Cummings’ run of confounding conventional wisdom is over: Johnson will surely go on to lose an election too, on a surging tide of exasperated progressive votes.

    But if he is arguably out of his depth running a government, Cummings has twice led winning referendum campaigns (on Brexit and on John Prescott’s plan for regional devolution to the north east) by exploiting the other side’s complacency; the sense that it was already in the bag, that voters couldn’t possibly fail to be thinking what you’re thinking. Maybe this time he’s wrong. But the lesson of the last three years is never to ignore that tiny, niggling voice of doubt.

  134. tomh says

    An accurate picture of out current US Supreme Court, by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

    Opinions, WaPo:
    The Supreme Court has become just another arm of the GOP

    By Sheldon Whitehouse September 6 at 8:01 PM
    Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat, represents Rhode Island in the U.S. Senate.

    Politics is a team sport. We battle, and our courts are supposed to referee our disputes.

    But what if one team spent years and millions of dollars to capture the referees, so the refs could declare that team the winner whenever they fell short on the field? If you were on the other team, you’d cry foul. You’d ask: “Hey, when did the law become a team sport, too?’’

    A few weeks ago, several Senate colleagues and I did just that when we filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case before the Supreme Court in which the National Rifle Association had urged the court to continue its “project” (the NRA’s term) to undermine gun regulations.

    We cried foul. That triggered a remarkable response.

    Conservative media lit up in unison. Fox News and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, for instance, attacked us for advocating “court packing,” something we did not advocate. The Journal used language so similar to a separate National Review op-ed that it issued an unusual editor’s note denying plagiarism. Then, all 53 Republicans in the Senate cranked out a letter to the court’s clerk decrying our brief. What hoopla.

    So, what did we actually say?

    We said this: From 2005 through the fall term of 2018, the Roberts court issued 73 5-to-4 partisan decisions benefiting big Republican donor interests: allowing corporations to spend unlimited money in elections; hobbling pollution regulations; enabling attacks on minority voting rights; curtailing labor’s right to organize; denying workers the ability to challenge employers in court; and, of course, expanding the NRA’s gun rights “project.” It’s a pattern.

    Of course, in other decisions during that period, such as the 2015 same-sex marriage ruling, a Republican appointed justice joined the liberals. But in its run of 73 partisan 5-to-4 cases, the Republican majority routinely broke traditionally conservative legal principles, such as respect for precedent or “originalist” reading of the Constitution. They even went on remarkable fact-finding expeditions, violating traditions of appellate adjudication.

    In their letter, our Republican colleagues invoked Alexander Hamilton’s vision of the “complete independence of the courts.” We’re glad they did, because our purpose in calling attention to this pattern is to help restore the judicial independence Hamilton envisioned.

    The big-donor takeover of the federal courts begins, as reported by The Post, with a sprawling network of organizations funded by at least a quarter-billion dollars of largely anonymous money, and spearheaded by the Federalist Society’s Leonard Leo. We saw this network’s hand in the confirmations of Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh. One unnamed donor gave $17 million to the Leo-affiliated Judicial Crisis Network to block the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland and to support Gorsuch; then a donor — perhaps the same one — gave another $17 million to prop up Kavanaugh. The NRA joined in the effort, too, spending $1 million on an ad campaign supporting the Kavanaugh confirmation to “break the tie” (again, the NRA’s words) in gun cases.

    With its judges in place, the network lobbies the court with anonymously funded amicus briefs, signaling how the judges should vote. In one case, Janus v. AFSCME, one anonymously funded group backed 13 different amicus briefs fighting public-sector unions’ right to organize. The decision came as expected, 5 to 4, throwing out 40 years of settled labor law.

    Republicans and their big donors now see the court as part of their team. They can achieve political gains there that they cannot win in Congress. The supposedly apolitical nature of the court partly protects these political gains from critique. And after 73 partisan victories, they’ve had a hell of a run. That explains why our brief provoked such an outcry from their side.

    But Americans can smell a rat. The pattern is too distinct to ignore. We warned the court of polls showing that the public’s faith in the court’s independence is eroding. Americans becoming wise to their game is surely concerning to the anonymous funders. Corporate, polluter and partisan donor interests want the eyes of the nation turned elsewhere, while their “projects” play out in captured courts.

    So the right-wing media eruption tried to deflect our plainly stated concerns by suggesting we want to change the number of justices on the court. That’s not what we’ve argued. My own calls for judicial reform have been for transparency around the dark money behind judicial nominations and amicus briefs; for improved ethics reporting and a court code of ethics; and for justices to follow principles they espouse at confirmation hearings such as respect for precedent, judicial modesty, deference to duly passed laws of Congress, letting fact-finders find the facts, and calling balls and strikes apolitically. None of that seems unreasonable.

    The right-wing eruption offered no defense of why a multimillion-dollar secret influence apparatus should be involved in selecting justices and campaigning for their confirmation and filing anonymous amicus briefs. There was no defense of the court systematically overturning precedents or inviting challenges to well-established doctrines or finding specious facts or discarding appellate norms; and there was no defense of the run of 73 partisan decisions.

    Instead, we saw precisely the howl of coordinated, multiple-mouthpiece misdirection you would expect to hear from big donors whose scheme to capture the Supreme Court for one team was suddenly exposed and is now at risk.

  135. says

    Re #202:

    Trump: “Russia and Ukraine just swapped large numbers of prisoners. Very good news, perhaps a first giant step to peace. Congratulations to both countries!”

    Julia Davis: “More like ‘#Ukraine handed over war criminals to the Kremlin, in order to secure the freedom of Ukrainian citizens illegally imprisoned by #Russia; since Trump lobbied for Russia’s return to #G7, instead of advocating for the release of Ukrainian sailors’.”

  136. says

    Fifteen members of Pussy Riot have been arrested in Moscow ahead of tomorrow’s elections.

    They tweeted: “we’re arrested, yes. we dont know for what .)) we wanted to walk around city in pussy riot uniforms – before the election day! with a rainbow flag, yes, that’s our CRIME.”

    The only news article I can find so far is in La Vanguardia – “Detienen a 15 miembros de Pussy Riot en Moscú en vísperas de elecciones”:

    Las fuerzas de seguridad rusas detuvieron hoy en Moscú a 15 miembros del colectivo feminista Pussy Riot, en vísperas de las elecciones regionales y locales que se celebran este domingo en Rusia, denunció hoy el grupo punk en las redes sociales.

    De acuerdo con la agencia Interfax, entre los miembros de Pussy Riot detenidos se encuentran Nadezhda Tolokónnikova, Veronika Nikulshina y Alexander Sofeev.

    Este domingo se elegirán cuatro diputados para cubrir escaños vacantes en la Duma del Estado (Parlamento), los gobernadores de 19 regiones, las asambleas legislativas de 13 entidades de la Federación de Rusia y un gran número de consistorios municipales.

    En total, en la llamada jornada única de votación se celebrarán más de 5.000 elecciones de distinto nivel, a la que están llamados a participar decenas de millones de electores.

    Las elecciones que suscitan mayor expectación son las del gobernador de San Petersburgo y, sobre todo, las de la asamblea legislativa (Duma) de Moscú, precedidas por las mayores manifestaciones opositoras de los últimos años.

    Las protestas estallaron después de que las autoridades electorales de la capital rusa rechazaran la inscripción de prácticamente la totalidad de las candidaturas de representantes de la oposición extraparlamentaria….

  137. says

    Amber Rudd:

    I have resigned from Cabinet and surrendered the Conservative Whip.

    I cannot stand by as good, loyal moderate Conservatives are expelled.

    I have spoken to the PM and my Association Chairman to explain.

    I remain committed to the One Nation values that drew me into politics.

  138. says

    The Dutch politician Lindsey Graham is smiling next to has advocated banning the Quran, stopping the construction of new mosques, taxing women who wear hijabs, and shutting down the borders to immigrants from Muslim countries

    The Geert Wilders account has since deleted his photo with Lindsey Graham, but I had the tab still open on my browser so here it is:…”

    Aside from everything else, they look like they’re in a funhouse mirror.

  139. says

    SC @173, I was struck by this:

    E-mails suggest that Hofeller’s commitment to the Republican cause never wavered. The day after receiving a grim prognosis for lung cancer and a kidney tumor, Hofeller wrote a friend that he didn’t plan to slow down. “I still have time to bedevil the Democrats with more redistricting plans before I exit,” he wrote, on May 21st. “Look my name up on the Internet and you can follow the damage.”

    He was delighting in destroying the integrity of the democratic process. No second thoughts about breaking the law, and no second thoughts about depriving American voters of their rights. Amazing. It does give you a window into ethics-free Republican thinking and tactics.

  140. says

    So Trump tweeted this:

    The Washington Post’s @PhilipRucker (Mr. Off the Record) & @AshleyRParker, two nasty lightweight reporters, shouldn’t even be allowed on the grounds of the White House because their reporting is so DISGUSTING & FAKE

    As Sean Spicer said so long ago, Trump’s tweets are official presidential statements. So we need to take this seriously.

    Commentary from Craig Howie:

    […] In a statement, Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron said “we stand fully behind” Rucker and Parker, adding, “The president’s statement fits into a pattern of seeking to denigrate and intimidate the press. It’s unwarranted and dangerous, and it represents a threat to the free press in this country.”

    Both Rucker and Parker have highlighted positive reactions to their story on social media since its publication. Washington Post reporters rallied to their colleagues’ defense Saturday following the president’s tweet.

    Later Saturday, Trump in a tweet singled out New York Times reporter Peter Baker, and again falsely accused the media of “defrauding & deceiving the public” over the coverage of his Dorian remark, adding, “I would like very much to stop referring to this ridiculous story, but the LameStream Media just won’t let it alone.”

    Baker’s New York Times colleagues immediately tweeted their support for his longtime White House coverage.

    Trump this week has continued to level attacks on the media over the economy, climate and the presidential primary coverage amid the ongoing imbroglio over the president’s hurricane comment.

    On Friday, the president’s son, Eric, publicly challenged Washington Post reporter David Farenthold over an email Farenthold sent to a Trump Organization employee seeking details on the company. The president’s son, who is executive vice chairman of the Trump Organization, was widely ridiculed over his reaction to a common approach to business reporting. Farenthold explained his reporting methods in an online video.

    Politico link

  141. blf says

    Brazil’s biggest paper publishes illustration of gay kiss on front page:

    Brazil’s biggest newspaper has printed an illustration from a Marvel comic of two men kissing on its front page to attack an attempt at censorship by the evangelical mayor of Rio de Janeiro.

    Marcelo Crivella attempted to ban copies of the graphic novel Avengers: The Children’s Crusade from appearing at a book fair on the grounds that it included content unsuitable for children.

    Critics said his move was reminiscent of the censorship imposed during Brazil’s 21-year military dictatorship, which ended in 1985 and is often praised by the country’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. On Sunday the president of Brazil’s supreme court overruled a court decision that had endorsed Crivella’s move.


    The controversy began on Thursday when Crivella ordered the biennial to wrap copies of the graphic novel in black plastic. On Friday he issued a call on Twitter for copies to be rounded up.


    Felipe Neto, a YouTube celebrity with 34 million followers, bought 14,000 copies of books with LGBT themes at the book fair and gave them out for free, wrapped in black plastic with the warning: “Book inappropriate for backward … and prejudiced people.” Demonstrators marched through the event, wrapped in rainbow colours and waving placards and books, while gay couples kissed in protest.


  142. says

    More details concerning NOAA personnel being told not to contradict Hair Furor.

    A top official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reportedly sent out a memo to the agency’s employees last week telling them not to contradict […] Trump’s incorrect claim that Hurricane Dorian was going to hit Alabama.

    According to documents obtained by the Washington Post, the official sent the warning to staffers after the National Weather Service in Birmingham corrected Trump’s false claim and assured Alabamians that their state wouldn’t be impacted by the hurricane.

    The Post reported on Saturday that NOAA had also sent its scientists a similar memo after Trump flaunted a map of the hurricane’s trajectory that featured a hand-drawn bubble to include Alabama, which was reportedly drawn by Trump himself.

    The memos were sent out before the NOAA released a statement on Friday backing Trump’s claim, saying that the NWS in Birmingham “spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

    The NOAA came under fire for the statement, which critics (including former NOAA officials) assailed as an attempt to politicize the agency and side with [Trump] in contradiction to what the agency’s own scientists had forecasted.

    An unnamed official told the Post that there was “no political motivation” in the NOAA’s decision to release the statement and that the agency merely “needed to make sure forecast products reflect probabilistic guidance.”

    TPM link

    From readers comments:

    A government of the lickspittle, by the lickspittle, for the lickspittle shall not perish from this earth while Trump is in power.
    This IS Banana Republic territory, and every minute Trump is allowed to do what he is doing here is a minute lost in trying to stop him.
    MEMO: High Importance
    Based on almost three years of empirical observation, the probabilistic interpretation of anything unusual around Trump is that it results from something massively stupid and/or corrupt being covered up.
    Message from Team Trump to all federal employees:
    Do not let verifiable evidence or scientific analysis undermine your absolute loyalty to the Supreme Leader – his is the final word in all matters.

  143. says

    Fox News, and GOP media are now warning that there will be bloodshed if Democrats win in 2020.

    That’s one way to try halt public debate in this country: by threatening mass violence and a bloody people’s revolt in the streets. That’s what conservative media voices, including those on Fox News, have done in recent days. Specifically, the reckless rhetoric has revolved around proposed new gun laws in the wake of America’s latest string of mass shootings. […]

    If you take “people’s guns away from them, there’s going to be a lot of violence,” The View’s Meghan McCain announced. “What you are calling for is civil war,” warned Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. “What you are calling for is an incitement to violence.” And that was just a sampling of the right-wing media hysteria last week. […]

    “The core philosophy of the Three Percenter movement, whose adherents have engaged in violence, is that citizens would be justified in taking up arms to violently overthrow the government if the government enacted stronger gun regulations,” Media Matters recently noted.

    The movement spiked with the election of President Barack Obama. In 2009, a far-right Newsmax columnist determined that a “military coup ” to resolve the ‘Obama problem'” was not “unrealistic.” That was about the same time Glenn Beck used his then-new program on Fox News to game out bloody scenarios for the coming civil war against the Obama-led tyranny. Note that the armed rebellion rhetoric was uncorked just weeks after Obama’s first Cabinet had been confirmed.

    During the gun debate that unfolded following the Sandy Hook school massacre in Connecticut, Fox’s Todd Starnes warned there would “a revolution” if the government tries to “confiscate our guns,” while Fox News Pat Caddell claimed the country was in a “pre-revolutionary condition,” and “on the verge of an explosion.” […]

  144. says

    Oh, FFS. Stuff of nightmares … and worthy of derision.

    Trump’s Campaign Manager Salivates Over Potential Trump Family “Dynasty”

    “A dynasty that will last for decades.”

    While […] Trump occasionally drops dictatorial hints that he’ll serve more than a mere two terms, his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, appears determined to extend that fantasy to the whole family.

    Consider Parscale’s performance on Saturday during a speech before a group of California Republican delegates attending a convention in Indian Wells. After the predictable talk about the long road to 2020, Parscale began salivating at the prospect of a Trump family “dynasty that will last for decades.” A moment from that fever dream, from the Associated Press:

    “The Trumps will be a dynasty that will last for decades, propelling the Republican Party into a new party,” he said. “One that will adapt to changing cultures. One must continue to adapt while keeping the conservative values that we believe in.”

    Parscale later declined to elaborate on his prediction of a coming Trump “dynasty,” […]

    He told reporters after the speech, “I just think they are a dynasty. I think they are all amazing people with…amazing capabilities.” […]

    Trump has yet to comment on the “dynasty” prediction. […]

  145. says

    Senator Amy Klobuchar blasted Trump for that tweet about the “secret” meeting with the Taliban being cancelled. She also criticized other aspects of this latest Trump debacle:

    […] To me this is just no way to conduct foreign policy. […]

    Yes, we should be negotiating with the Afghan government and we should be negotiating with the Taliban to try to end the bloodshed in this country which has been going on for decades. […]

    The whole focus of this, of course, is to bring our troops home, which I strongly support […]

    But he didn’t even seem to have an agreement or close to an agreement when he set the summit. Then the excuse that’s used to end the summit and take it down is the fact that tragically an American service member died, as well as other civilians. But then they kept negotiating after that happened, through Saturday, so the whole thing doesn’t quite make sense to me.

    This isn’t a game show, these are terrorists. The way he conducts foreign policy, this reminds me exactly of North Korea. He loves the showmanship. He wants to have that moment but then all the details aren’t done, and then we end up in a worse place on the world stage than we were before.

    Kobuchar didn’t mention that the Taliban had been/is hyping the meeting with Trump as a “surrender” of the USA to the Taliban.

  146. says

    Followup to comment 228.

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried to make the Trump administration look strong and reasonable by threatening the Taliban on the Sunday talk shows:

    […] Pompeo said President Donald Trump broke off peace talks with the Taliban because they are “not going to reward” their behavior after the Taliban killed an American last week. “An agreement is just a piece of paper. We have to actually see that change in behavior,” Pompeo told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week.”

    “When we saw this action when we were closing in on a solution and closing in on opportunity for the president to actually meet with the decision makers that can actually deliver that reconciliation peace to the Afghan people, President Trump said ‘that’s enough,’” Pompeo continued. “‘We’re not going to do that, we’re not going to reward that behavior,’ and broke it off.” […]

    “We had a commitment from the Taliban that said they would break from Al Qaeda publicly and permanently,” Pompeo added. “We had a commitment from them that said they would reduce violence.”

    “We had a commitment that they would meet in Oslo to begin reconciliation conversation, and then the Taliban overreached,” Pompeo said. “They killed an American in an effort to gain leverage at the negotiating table, and President Trump said enough.”

    Other U.S. military personnel have been killed by the Taliban this year. Pompeo’s explanation sounds to me like one of those after-the-fact explanations that Trump’s lackey’s make up after Trump has flashed his stupidity in front of the whole world. There is probably some other reason, or reasons, for the cancellation of talks, including the fact that people realized it looked like Trump was using Camp David as the site for surrender to the Taliban. Someone else probably wrote Trump’s tweet that began with the word “unbeknownst.”

    Pompeo acknowledged that in the past, peace talks resumed in the face of other attacks. But, he also added that American forces are “putting real pressure on the Taliban.”

    “In just the last 10 days alone we’ve killed over 1,000 Taliban,” he said. […]

    Yeah, I’m not buying Pompeo’s claim of over 1,000 Taliban killed recently.

    These guys are lying, and just don’t know yet the full extent of the lies and/or the mismanagement of peace talks.

  147. blf says

    John Crace in the Grauniad, Amber Rudd reaches tipping point after being taken for a mug:

    Even Theresa May didn’t lose ministers at this rate. Give it a couple of weeks and he’ll need a major reshuffle. Classic Dom.

    For Amber Rudd it was the morning after the night before on the Andrew Marr Show. Under the glare of the studio lights — far too bright, far too early, should have worn her shades — Rudd appeared furious. Mostly with herself. Trying to explain your lack of judgment was something better done in a confessional podcast than on a mainstream politics TV news show.

    “This is about trust, isn’t it?” Marr observed.

    “I’m not going to use that word,” Rudd replied defensively.

    Only she couldn’t actually come up with any better word to describe the reason for her resignation. The bottom line was that she had been taken for a mug. She’d allowed her desperation, her neediness, to get the better of her. She’d chosen to believe a serial liar just to extend her career by a couple of months.

    Not that she was going to accuse Johnson of lying either. More that he was pathologically unable to tell the truth. The tipping point […] had come when Philip Hammond, Ken Clarke, Justine Greening and others had been slung out of the Tory party for doing what Jacob Rees-Mogg had done hundreds of times. Then she had demanded to see what progress the government was making, she had been told that preparations were the sort of thing that girly swot David Cameron did and had been palmed off with a single piece of paper on which was written, tHe UK Is gRAte. We iS goNNa maKe veR EU eet shiT.

    We interrupt this snarking to explain: NKofE PM Boris Johnson calls David Cameron girly swot in leaked note. And apparent before Rudd resigned, she insisted on seeing some evidence teh NKofE was actually negotiating with the EU — had was eventually given a single sheet of paper (apparently, some sort of a summary).

    Thereafter, the interview had all been downhill with Rudd firmly on the defensive. No, she didn’t really know anything. She didn’t know if the prime minister was going to obey the law. She couldn’t say whether other ministers, such as Matt Hancock and Nicky Morgan, might also one day discover they were vertebrates after all. She couldn’t even be sure who exactly was running the Conservative party. […]

    Just what the government was planning on doing in the next two months was no clearer when Marr interviewed [Chancellor of the Exchequer] Sajid Javid. […] He, too, knew nothing about anything. He couldn’t say how the prime minister was going to perform the mutually exclusive acts of complying with the law and asking the EU for an extension and breaking the law by refusing to ask for an extension. And all he could say about the government’s plans to get a deal was that Stella McCartney had been commissioned to design some stunning uniforms for the badger patrols on the Northern Ireland border.


  148. blf says

    A few tidbits from a long interview with Dr Jennifer Gunter in the Grauniad, ‘Women are being told lies about their bodies’:

    […] Gunter argues that the wellness industry and the anti-abortion industry are, if not exactly dancing together, certainly at the same disco. The former manipulates that confusion to take women’s money, the latter to take their power. “I even started to notice overlap between the language,” she says with a shudder. “The anti-science views of wellness and the anti-science of the religious right. Themes like ‘purity’ and ‘cleanliness’ with their similar rituals. It’s predatory. It’s the patriarchy by another name. And it keeps women back by telling them lies about their body. They might be different lies, but the effect is the same.” […]

    Last year, she went to the Goop summit. “Under my real name, of course. I mean, my whole thing is like, ‘the truth’, right?” She chuckles darkly. “There were three talks on how death isn’t real. Apparently when you die, you can use love in your brain to bring you back from the dead. Did you know that? One of the speakers said love cured her cancer, but neglected to tell everybody she’d also had chemotherapy. She said she got cancer because she was ‘afraid of getting cancer’. That was a very common theme, that fear is the cause of the illness, and that love is the cure.”

    In a New York Times column, Gunter showed that cancer patients who seek out alternative remedies are more likely to die sooner, because relying on, say, “love”, means they delay medical treatment. “Apart from anything, it’s so insulting to anybody who’s ever had an illness, right, that you somehow created it yourself?” Her small bursts of fury are thrilling. She bangs her glass.

    At the Goop summit, a medium came into the audience where Gunter was sitting, and called out questions. “‘Has anyone in the room thought about buying a handbag?’ I mean, we’re in a room full of rich women. ‘Does anyone like shoes?’ And they were eating it up. They were eating it up.” Later, musing on Goop’s love of mediums on her blog, she wondered: “How do ghosts have so much health information anyway? Are they all doctors?”

    She was stunned, and yes, angry. “Paltrow is able to call up any magazine in the world and get on the cover. And this is what she’s doing with her privilege. Grifting off desperate women.”

    […] People have had to spend money, just to prove [Paltrow’s] breast cancer bra thing was false, money that could have been used to study something important. Many of the medical experts she publishes are part of the anti-vaccine world and post a lot of conspiracy theories. So, either it’s a grift, or she’s a true believer. As a ‘feminist businesswoman’ she’s claimed the right to ‘try out’ being a reporter, and then, ‘try out’ being a doctor. It doesn’t work like that.”

    She is veering away from Goop, partly because she’s concentrating on things she sees as more important, like keeping abortion legal […] and partly because, ouch, “it feels like punching down.” […]

  149. says

    From Max Boot, writing for The Washington Post:

    “Deals are my art form,” President Trump proclaimed in his ghostwritten book, “The Art of the Deal.” “Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals.” It’s true that Trump likes making deals. He’s just not very good at it. In fact, he may be the worst dealmaker ever to occupy the Oval Office. The abrupt disintegration of his accord with the Taliban provides the latest evidence that he’s too impetuous and ignorant to be a successful negotiator.

    Trump’s special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, was close to concluding a deal with the Taliban that would have allowed Trump to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and to proclaim that he had ended an 18-year-old war. Then on Saturday evening, Trump himself blew up immediate prospects of an agreement with a series of tweets […]

    Disinviting terrorists from Camp David seems like a good idea. It’s appalling that Trump would have even considered hosting Taliban leaders just days before the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks plotted by their ally, Osama bin Laden. Imagine what Trump — who excoriated President Barack Obama for negotiating with the Taliban — would have said if Obama had invited them for a sleepover. But Trump’s explanation for the cancellation — as with most things he says — makes little sense.

    The Taliban have been staging attacks throughout their negotiations with the United States — and Afghan and U.S. security forces have been carrying out operations against it. The United Nations reports that 1,366 civilians were killed and 2,446 wounded during the first half of the year. Maybe Trump cares only about U.S. casualties? Well, 16 additional U.S. troops have been killed by hostile action in Afghanistan so far this year. Sgt. Ortiz’s death was tragic but hardly a departure from the violent norm, because the Taliban never agreed to a cease-fire.

    It is bizarre to call off negotiations because the other side continues doing something it never agreed to stop doing. That is why savvy observers speculate that there must be another reason for Trump’s abrupt tweets.

    It’s far from clear that the Taliban would have been willing to meet with Ghani or become props in Trump’s reality show; so far, they haven’t met with any representatives of a Kabul government they consider to be illegitimate. But the real problem may have simply been that Trump got cold feet about an agreement that has been criticized by his conservative allies, former U.S. generals and ambassadors in Afghanistan, and even by his own national security adviser, John Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

    Indeed, there was much grounds for criticism. It is telling that Khalilzad reportedly refused to give either Bolton or Ghani a copy of the agreement. That’s hardly a vote of confidence in its contents. […]

    More at the link.

  150. says

    Guardian – “Boris Johnson heads to Dublin amid fears of more resignations”:

    …Rudd’s resignation on Saturday evening sparked fears of a domino effect, with other Tory moderates following suit.

    Since tendering her resignation, Rudd has been approached by three cabinet ministers and nine junior ministers who have expressed concern about the direction of the government, a friend said, adding that she would not be at all surprised if there were more resignations.

    Her final conversation with the PM took place on Saturday evening, when she called him 10 minutes before an article revealing her resignation was due to be launched online. An agitated Johnson pleaded with her to reconsider.

    “The PM wanted to know why she hadn’t told him first. But it is obvious why and she told him: ‘Boris, you have some pretty brutal advisers,’” a Rudd aide said.

    Downing Street launched a shoring-up operation, with Johnson himself speaking to key potential waverers. Cabinet ministers known to have anxieties, including Matt Hancock, Julian Smith and Robert Buckland, made clear on Sunday they intended to remain in the government.

    Hancock has been lobbying for the whip to be restored to the rebels, according to friends, while Buckland, the justice secretary, tweeted that he had spoken to the prime minister “regarding the importance of the Rule of Law, which I as Lord Chancellor have taken an oath to uphold”.

    On Sunday, Dominic Raab, the foreign secretary, was asked how the government intended to proceed. He appeared to suggest Downing Street would seek to find some way around the legislation.

    “We will adhere to the law but also this is such a bad piece of legislation … we will also want to test to the limit what it does actually lawfully require. We will look very carefully at the implications and our interpretation of it,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.

    One idea under consideration is that the government could append additional material to the letter requesting an extension to article 50 mandated in the legislation.

    A Downing Street source said Johnson could seek to “sabotage” any extension. “The ‘surrender bill’ only kicks in if an extension is offered. Once people realise our plans there is a good chance we won’t be offered a delay. Even if we are, we intend to sabotage that too.”

    The crossbench rebel alliance that drafted the bill have left what they believe will be sufficient time between 19 October and Brexit day at the end of the month for the government to be challenged in the courts if it refuses to act.

    The alliance will make a renewed bid to seize control of the parliamentary timetable on Monday, in the hope of forcing the government to publish its assessment of the risks of a no-deal Brexit.

    However, No 10 remains convinced that outside the Westminster bubble, voters will see Johnson as determinedly trying to deliver Brexit in the face of a cantankerous political establishment.

    “It feels like we’re suffering body blow after body blow in Westminster, but they’re really resolute about the whole thing,” said one senior Tory.

    In Dublin on Monday, Johnson will be under pressure to spell out more details of how his government intends to replace what he has called the “anti-democratic” backstop for the Irish border.

    He has suggested an all-Ireland system of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks on agricultural products might provide part of the solution – but Varadkar has pointed out such issues only account for about 30% of border checks.

    “It’s not enough on its own. We would need a single Irish economic zone, or whatever you would like to call it, to cover more than agriculture and food,” Varadkar said on Friday.

    That approach would be anathema to the Democratic Unionist party….

    Related from the Guardian – “France threatens to veto further Brexit extension.”

    It’s full of comments from/describing EU officials like “frustration at being caught up in game-playing by the British government,” “rising exasperation,” “the lack of realistic proposals being put forward by Downing Street as an alternative to the Irish backstop,” “the process of finding a ready alternative was proving to be ‘a farce’,” “‘There have been no substantive proposals on how to replace the backstop and the British are pretending otherwise – we are being instrumentalised for domestic purposes’,” “EU sources have said there is no evidence the British government is even working on ‘concrete proposals’ to strike a Brexit deal,” “impression that the government is not serious about finding an agreement,”… While Johnson continues to outright lie to the public about having plans and making progress in negotiations.

    They’re dealing with life and death, with a fragile peace, with the future of countries, and they’re just trying to con people. They’re not offering any new plans, and they obviously don’t have any to offer, and if they did the British public would have the right to see and discuss them. This is all a farce and a fraud by arrogant, compromised, dishonest golpistas who’ve been indulged for far too long.

  151. says

    I’m giving Bertrand’s “Stand by for news…” @ #237 Tweet o’ the day because it already has like 3,000 likes and also funny comments and we don’t even know what the news is yet and it’s a Sunday night.

  152. says

    Bender and Bertrand in Politico – “Air Force leaders order probe of Trump resort stays”:

    The U.S. Air Force has ordered a world-wide review of how it chooses overnight accommodations on long flights following revelations that air crews had occasionally stayed at President Donald Trump’s Scotland resort while refueling at a small commercial airport nearby.

    The review comes as news outlets including Politico uncover additional instances of military personnel staying at Trump properties. And the C-17 crew’s overnight stay at Trump’s Turnberry resort in Scotland earlier this year, first reported by Politico on Friday, was was not an isolated incident.

    The Air Force’s use of the Prestwick airport has also steadily grown. Indeed, the use of the facility has nearly tripled — and overnights in the area increased more than five-fold, the Air Force acknowledged Sunday.

    Between 2015 and 2019, they said, Air Mobility Command aircraft stopped at the civil airport 936 times. Of those, crews stayed overnight in the area 659 times.

    The frequency of the stops and overnight stays has increased steadily each year, from 95 stops and 40 overnights in 2015; 145 and 75 in 2016; 180 and 116 in 2017; 257 and 208 in 2018; and 259 stops and 220 overnights through August 2019.

    Lt. Gen. Thomas, the deputy head of Air Mobility Command, said he could not report how many of these overnights may have been at Trump Turnberry.

    Officials insist there has been no evidence uncovered of wrongdoing. Nevertheless, the implication that the military is enriching the president is damaging and the service appears eager to quickly assess whether the practice should continue.

    “The Air Force takes this very seriously,” Thomas, the deputy head of the Air Mobility Command, told POLITICO. “The trust and confidence of the American problem [?] and Congress is critically important.”

    “…which is why we’ve refused for months to provide a single document to congressional investigators and are only acting now that this has become a public scandal while still pretending it’s not patently outrageous and making it a global procedural review rather than addressing the corruption.”

  153. blf says

    This would just be amusing, a simple mistake, except for the attempted cover-up, Israeli PM wrongly refers to Boris Johnson as Boris Yeltsin:

    The office of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has released a video that clumsily tries to edit out a gaffe where he calls the British prime minister by the wrong name.

    Netanyahu misspoke at Sunday’s weekly cabinet meeting, referring to his UK counterpart Boris Johnson as Boris Yeltsin, the former Russian president who died in 2007.

    “I’ve returned from a very pleasant visit in London, where I’ve met with Prime Minister Boris Yeltsin and the US defence secretary,” Netanyahu said at the start of the meeting.

    Cabinet ministers immediately interjected, and Netanyahu gave a wry smile before correcting himself, saying he was checking to see if his colleagues were paying attention.

    But an official video of the meeting released hours later cuts away from Netanyahu at the moment he says Yeltsin — instead he’s heard saying “Boris Johnson”.


    Twitter reacted with posts superimposing Yeltsin’s face onto Netanyahu re-election posters, which had originally showed him with President [sic] Trump.


  154. blf says

    This is the first report I’ve seen on the elections in Moscow(? Russia?), Pro-Kremlin candidates weather major losses in Moscow city vote (video), text quoted in full:

    Pro-Kremlin candidates have suffered major losses in a Moscow municipal election following an opposition-led strategic voting campaign, Russian news agencies reported on Monday.

    With nearly all votes counted, news agencies reported significant gains for independent, Communist and liberal candidates against those allied with the ruling United Russia party.

    The Communists were on track to win 13 or 14 seats, up from only five in the previous assembly, Interfax and RIA Novosti reported.

    The liberal Yabloko party and left-leaning Just Russia party were set to take three seats each, after having none previously.

    Pro-Kremlin deputies held 38 of the assembly’s 45 seats after the previous election in 2014, with 28 belonging to United Russia.

    No candidates ran under its banner this year as the party is deeply unpopular. Interfax said nine previous deputies of United Russia had retained their seats but that the party’s leader in Moscow Andrei Metelsky, had lost a re-election bid.

    After his allies were banned from the vote, main opposition leader Alexei Navalny put forward a “Smart Voting” plan urging Muscovites to support those who had the highest chances of beating pro-Kremlin candidates.

  155. blf says

    Swedish man is not allowed ‘offensive’ Trump licence plate (quoted in full):

    Officials say request for plate spelling US president’s [sic] last name has been turned down

    Swedish authorities say a man has been denied a personalised number plate with the letters TRUMP because it would violate motor vehicle department rules, calling the letter combination “offensive”.

    The Aftonbladet tabloid, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers, reported that the man had said he “was drunk and thought it would be fun to apply” online for a new licence plate with the US president’s [sic] last name “because the car is American”.

    The Swedish Transport Agency confirmed its ruling to the Associated Press on Monday, saying it did not approve letter combinations referring to politics. It informed Marcus Saaf, who made the request, that its ruling could not be appealed.

  156. blf says

    If there’s a cardinal sin to be made, count on the Catholic church:

    Its errors run from toting a saint’s relics around Scotland to an invitation to a reactionary priest

    A grim little vaudeville act is currently touring some of Scotland’s Catholic parishes, featuring the remains of Thérèse of Lisieux, a long-dead French nun. Thérèse died of tuberculosis at the age of 24 in 1897 and was canonised in 1925, becoming Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face. By all accounts, this young woman developed an exemplary devotion to her faith and was the author of some beautiful (if slightly ripe) spiritual tracts. I’m not sure she deserved the fate of having some of her remains bumped in and out of cars and through the hills of South Lanarkshire and Paisley for the devoted titillation of the faithful.


    When the church’s spinmeisters urge its followers to bow down in medieval veneration to the bleached fragments of dead heroes you know that political machinations lie beneath. Our secular aristocracy relies on the fecundity of the royal family or the sacrifice of its soldiers in contrived theatres of war to avert our gaze from problems nearer to home. And the Roman Catholic church, still reeling from the global crisis of clerical sex abuse, is keen to encourage supernatural devotion like this for the purposes of redirecting scrutiny of its own grievous failings.


    While Saint Thérèse’s relics continue on their ghostly tour up and down the hills and glens, the visit to Scotland takes place of the American cardinal Raymond Burke, perhaps the most powerful Catholic churchman after Pope Francis. Burke, who has long viewed the current pope’s relaxed and compassionate views on human sexuality and the environment with deep suspicion, has become his greatest critic. He has thus become a totem for rightwing Catholic conservatives, a powerful and influential lobby, which is currently being wooed by Donald Trump and his chosen acolyte in this field, Steve Bannon. Perhaps it’s merely a coincidence that Thérèse’s posthumous visit to Scotland is occurring at the same time as Burke’s live one, but I hae ma doots.

    Among the cardinal’s wide range of reactionary views is that female altar servers are a wretched sign of the increased feminisation of the church. The introduction of girl servers led many boys to abandon altar service, he has said. Young boys don’t want to do things with girls. It’s just natural. This is rubbish, of course. Where I grew up, if young female altar servers had been allowed there would have been a stampede among the boys to toil in the Lord’s vineyard alongside them. Burke also views any form of gay relationships as evil and has encouraged Catholics not to expose their children to close relatives who are actively gay. He’s had less to say about why the God he purports to serve and who does not make mistakes created, in His wisdom, gay people.


  157. says

    Wow – Politico – “‘Someone’s Gotta Tell the Freakin’ Truth’: Jerry Falwell’s Aides Break Their Silence”: “More than two dozen current and former Liberty University officials describe a culture of fear and self-dealing at the largest Christian college in the world.”

    You really have to read the whole thing. Totally corrupt and illegal. Also,

    Longtime Liberty officials close to Falwell told me the university president has shown or texted his male confidants—including at least one employee who worked for him at Liberty—photos of his wife in provocative and sexual poses.

    At Liberty, Falwell is “very, very vocal” about his “sex life,” in the words of one Liberty official—a characterization multiple current and former university officials and employees interviewed for this story support. In a car ride about a decade ago with a senior university official who has since left Liberty, “all he wanted to talk about was how he would nail his wife, how she couldn’t handle [his penis size], and stuff of that sort,” this former official recalled. Falwell did not respond to questions about this incident.

    More than simply talking with employees about his wife in a sexual manner, on at least one occasion, Falwell shared a photo of his wife wearing what appeared to be a French maid costume, according to a longtime Liberty employee with firsthand knowledge of the image and the fallout that followed.

    Falwell intended to send the image to his and Becki’s personal trainer, Ben Crosswhite, as a “thank you” for helping his wife achieve her fitness goals, the employee said. In the course of texting, Falwell accidentally sent the message to several other people, necessitating a cleanup.

  158. says

    CNN – “Exclusive: US extracted top spy from inside Russia in 2017”:

    Washington (CNN)In a previously undisclosed secret mission in 2017, the United States successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government, multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge told CNN.

    A person directly involved in the discussions said that the removal of the Russian was driven, in part, by concerns that President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.

    The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.

    The disclosure to the Russians by the President, though not about the Russian spy specifically, prompted intelligence officials to renew earlier discussions about the potential risk of exposure, according to the source directly involved in the matter.

    At the time, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo told other senior Trump administration officials that too much information was coming out regarding the covert source, known as an asset. An extraction, or “exfiltration” as such an operation is referred to by intelligence officials, is an extraordinary remedy when US intelligence believes an asset is in immediate danger.

    A US official said before the secret operation there was media speculation about the existence of such a covert source, and such coverage or public speculation poses risks to the safety of anyone a foreign government suspects may be involved. This official did not identify any public reporting to that effect at the time of this decision and CNN could not find any related reference in media reports.

    The removal happened at a time of wide concern in the intelligence community about mishandling of intelligence by Trump and his administration. Those concerns were described to CNN by five sources who served in the Trump administration, intelligence agencies and Congress.

    Those concerns continued to grow in the period after Trump’s Oval Office meeting with Kislyak and Lavrov. Weeks after the decision to extract the spy, in July 2017, Trump met privately with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Hamburg and took the unusual step of confiscating the interpreter’s notes. Afterward, intelligence officials again expressed concern that the President may have improperly discussed classified intelligence with Russia, according to an intelligence source with knowledge of the intelligence community’s response to the Trump-Putin meeting.

    Knowledge of the Russian covert source’s existence was highly restricted within the US government and intelligence agencies. According to one source, there was “no equal alternative” inside the Russian government, providing both insight and information on Putin.

    CNN is withholding several details about the spy to reduce the risk of the person’s identification.

    The secret removal of the high-level Russian asset has left the US without one of its key sources on the inner workings of the Kremlin and the plans and thinking of the Russian president at a time when tensions between the two nations have been growing. The US intelligence community considers Russia one of the two greatest threats to US national security, along with China.

    “The impact would be huge because it is so hard to develop sources like that in any denied area, particularly Russia, because the surveillance and security there is so stringent,” a former senior intelligence official told CNN. “You can’t reacquire a capability like that overnight.”

    The decision to pull the asset out of Russia was the culmination of months of mounting fear within the intelligence community.

    At the end of the Obama administration, US intelligence officials had already expressed concerns about the safety of this spy and other Russian assets, given the length of their cooperation with the US, according to a former senior intelligence official.

    Those concerns grew in early 2017 after the US intelligence community released its public report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election, which said Putin himself ordered the operation. The intelligence community also shared a classified version of the report with the incoming Trump administration, and it included highly protected details on the sources behind the intelligence. Senior US intelligence officials considered extracting at least one Russian asset at the time but did not do so, according to the former senior intelligence official.

    In the first months of his administration, Trump’s handling of classified intelligence further concerned intelligence officials. Ultimately, they decided to launch the difficult operation to remove an asset who had been working for the US for years.

    The President was informed in advance of the extraction, along with a small number of senior officials. Details of the extraction itself remain secret and the whereabouts of the asset today are unknown to CNN.

  159. blf says

    US removed covert source in Russia due to safety concerns under Trump:

    The US extracted “one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government” in 2017, it was reported on Monday, in part because of concerns that mishandling of classified intelligence by Donald Trump and his administration could jeopardise the source’s safety.

    CNN cited “multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge” of the matter and said “a person directly involved in the discussions” said the move was made because Trump and his officials could not be fully trusted.

    Describing a “culmination of months of mounting fear within the intelligence community”, CNN said the decision to carry out the extraction was made shortly after a now infamous Oval Office meeting in May 2017 in which Trump, who had recently fired FBI director James Comey, discussed highly sensitive intelligence concerning Isis in Syria with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and then ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak.

    The report also said US officials had been alarmed by Trump’s private meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Hamburg in July that year.


    On Monday, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told CNN its reporting was not only incorrect, it has the potential to put lives in danger.

    Mike Pompeo, now secretary of state, was CIA director at the time of the reported extraction. He did not comment to CNN but CIA director of public affairs Brittany Bramell said its narrative that the Central Intelligence Agency makes life-or-death decisions based on anything other than objective analysis and sound collection is simply false.

    Misguided speculation that the president’s handling of our nation’s most sensitive intelligence — which he has access to each and every day — drove an alleged exfiltration operation is inaccurate.

    Shortly after the CNN report was released, the president attacked the network, a favourite target, on Twitter.

    Trump did not immediately mention the report, instead commenting on the network’s corporate fortunes and adding: But most importantly, CNN is bad for the USA.

    Their International Division spews bad information & Fake News all over the globe, the president [sic] wrote. This is why foreign leaders are always asking me, ‘Why does the Media hate the US sooo much?’ It is a fraudulent shame, & all comes from the top!’

  160. blf says

    In teh NKofE, not exactly political, albeit there are a few snarks, The brown bomber: how the likes of HP Sauce fell out of fashion (minor formatting changes, not marked):

    Brown sauce has lost yet more ground in the condiment sales wars, as the British have their heads turned by fancy foreign stuff

    Name: Brown sauce.
    Appearance: Brown sauce.
    Are we talking about HP Sauce? HP is by far the UK’s leading brown-sauce brand, yes, but there are others […]
    How lucky we all are, to be able to delight ourselves with such sweet industrial bounty. Yes, maybe. Although people don’t seem to realise. According to the trade magazine the Grocer, UK sales of brown sauce fell 2.8% by value in the year leading up to May 2019.
    What could explain this terrible trend? The fact that it’s disgusting.
    Oh, grow up. If brown sauce was disgusting, why did so many British people cover their food with it for more than 100 years? Because their food was even more disgusting.

    The Grauniad is being too polite here. It (the food) isn’t just disgusting, it’s an Abomination Unto Nuggan. (Nuggan got this one right.) So is the sauce.

    Piffle! These things are just a matter of taste. Give me some proper reasons. [… A]rguably the picture of the Houses of Parliament on the HP label has begun to put people off their food.
    That’s highly likely. Just don’t tell me that the dreaded ketchup is taking over. It isn’t. Not really. […] It’s the fancy foreign stuff that’s doing well.
    Like what? […] Hot sauces in general are doing well.
    Do say: “When we get a no-deal Brexit, it will put a stop to all this sriracha nonsense flooding into the country. Then we can finally get back to our indigenous sauces.”
    Don’t say: “I thought HP sauce was owned by an American company, Heinz, which makes it in, and ships it from the Netherlands?”

  161. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Oh, please tell me that the writer realized how this sounded when talking about Falwell’s wife in a French Maid outfit: “In the course of texting, Falwell accidentally sent the message to several other people, necessitating a cleanup.”

    Indeed, it might have required several cleanups.

  162. blf says

    Bahrain files complaint against Al Jazeera with Arab League:

    Bahrain has lodged a complaint with the Arab League against Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network after the airing of a documentary that they say was critical of the Gulf state, sources have told Al Jazeera.

    The complaint will be discussed during a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers scheduled for Tuesday at the body’s headquarters in Cairo, the sources said on condition of anonymity.


    The documentary, which aired on Al Jazeera in July, revealed that Bahraini intelligence recruited al-Qaeda members to assassinate Bahraini dissidents and opposition figures in 2003. The government in Manama has denied the allegations.

    Bahrain was among four countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt, which cut off diplomatic ties with Qatar […]

    The blockading countries continue to impose an air, land and sea blockade against Qatar.

    They have asked Doha to meet a list of conditions, including the closure of Al Jazeera and other media outlets, before they consider ending the blockade.


  163. says

    New: House Intel Committee chair @RepAdamSchiff sent a 5-page letter to Michael Flynn & his attorneys on Friday, saying he has ‘failed to comply with the Committee’s subpoena or cooperate with the Committee’s efforts to secure [his] compliance’. Flynn now has to appear Sept. 25.”

    Meanwhile, Flynn is due in court tomorrow for an update on what’s happening in his case and when/whether he’ll ever be ready for sentencing.”

  164. blf says

    Follow-up to @224, Ban Marvel’s gay kiss? You might as well ban the Sistine Chapel:

    He may be an evangelical bishop, but you do have to wonder how much Christian art the mayor of Rio de Janeiro has seen. Marcelo Crivella ordered an Avengers comic book to be removed from a book festival, because it featured two men kissing — a move that triggered a dramatic response from Brazil’s biggest newspaper, Folha de S Paulo, which reproduced the image on its front page, to highlight this attempt at censorship.

    The mayor was so incensed by Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, he insisted it be given a black plastic wrapper. […] But to find fault with this kiss is not just bigoted. It shows an ignorance of the origins of same-sex kissing in art.

    […] Rather than trying to censor Marvel, maybe Crivella should turn his easily offended eyes to the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. For here, at the very heart of the Catholic world, Michelangelo portrayed men kissing, nearly 500 years ago.

    In his fresco of the Last Judgment, the souls of the blessed are shown embracing and kissing. Those souls are male and muscular, and some of their smooches are anything but chaste: they hold each other in strong arms, look into each other’s eyes and passionately put mouths to mouths.

    [… image at link…]

    Michelangelo could do this because Renaissance Italy had a surprisingly modern understanding of sexual identity. As early as 1304, Giotto portrayed an incandescent moment between Judas and Christ in his frescoes in the Arena Chapel in Padua. […]


    Marvel’s gay kiss is part of a great artistic tradition that goes back to Giotto and Michelangelo. Christianity needs to embrace this loving heritage, not deny it.

    Although the author, an art correspondent for the Grauniad, seems to think artistic depictions of same-sex kissing “started” with xian-influenced artists such as Giotto, much older representations can be found (in Europe, e.g., ancient Greece and Rome). Kissing itself is older than that, possibility originating in or near India, so I presume there are even older non-European representations. To what extent any of these older examples, or even the examples cited in the above excerpt, represent same-sex or familial attraction or are more akin to the modern-day peck on the cheek greeting, I have no idea. In any case, the mayor of Rio is an eejit.

  165. says

    The Intercept – “Livestream: The Right to a Future — With Naomi Klein and Greta Thunberg”:

    The Intercept invites you to watch a special event in New York City hosted by Intercept senior correspondent Naomi Klein, author of the forthcoming book “On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal,” and headlined by trailblazing climate activist Greta Thunberg, author of “No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference.” Together with youth leaders Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Xiye Bastida, and Vic Barrett, as well as Indigenous Amazon leader Tuntiak Katan, Thunberg and Klein will help us envision a just and sustainable future, confront our climate emergency, and discuss the emerging cross-generational, transnational movement — including people of all races, classes, and backgrounds — that is our best hope for a sustainable planet.

    Both a celebration of youth activism and a reflection on how to break through the political and economic barriers preventing meaningful climate action, “The Right to a Future” will bring together a singular group of environmental leaders who are on the forefront of the battle to secure a thriving future for many generations to come.

    “The Right to a Future” will kick off a week of climate coverage, starting September 15, by Intercept reporters working across our beats. The effort is part of Covering Climate Now, a project co-founded by The Nation and Columbia Journalism Review, in partnership with The Guardian, that “aims to convene and inform a conversation among journalists about how all news outlets can do justice to the defining story of our time.”

    This event also takes place ahead of the Global Climate Strike starting September 20 and the U.N. Climate Action Summit on September 23.

    The event in NYC is sold out. The livestream begins on Monday, September 9 at 7 p.m. ET.

    So tonight starting at 7 ET you can watch the livestream at the link.

  166. says

    From the G liveblog: “MPs have backed the Grieve motion requiring the release of some no-deal planning documents, and private messages from Number 10 officials about prorogation, by 311 votes to 302 – a majority of nine.”

    Text of the motion:

    That a humble address be presented to Her Majesty, that she will be graciously pleased to direct ministers to lay before this House, not later than 11.00pm Wednesday 11 September, all correspondence and other communications (whether formal or informal, in both written and electronic form, including but not limited to messaging services including WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Facebook messenger, private email accounts both encrypted and unencrypted, text messaging and iMessage and the use of both official and personal mobile phones) to, from or within the present administration, since 23 July 2019 relating to the prorogation of Parliament sent or received by one or more of the following individuals: Hugh Bennett, Simon Burton, Dominic Cummings, Nikki da Costa, Tom Irven, Sir Roy Stone, Christopher James, Lee Cain or Beatrice Timpson; and that ministers be further directed to lay before this House no later than 11.00pm Wednesday 11 September all the documents prepared within Her Majesty’s government since 23 July 2019 relating to operation Yellowhammer and submitted to the cabinet or a cabinet committee.

  167. says

    Sounds familiar – Andrew Sparrow:

    That was Boris Johnson’s fourth main defeat in a Commons vote since he became prime minister….

    But what does it mean?

    Humble addresses are considered binding on the government. This vote means the government is now obliged to release to the Commons:…

    The material is meant to be handed over by 11 September.

    However, it does not seem likely that the government will comply. The Commons will not even by sitting on Wednesday. Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, told MPs that some version of the Operation Yellowhammer document would be published anyway. But during the debate Geoffrey Cox, the attorney general, suggested that the government would not have the legal power to enforce the release of the messages even if it wanted to comply. (See 5.51pm.)

    Last year Labour used the humble address mechanism to require the publication of the attorney general’s legal advice about the withdrawal agreement. The government initially ignored the request, and it only complied a month later when MPs passed another motion finding the government in contempt of parliament.

    In this case no such contempt motion will be passed any time soon, because after tonight the Commons will not be sitting until 14 October.

    And even if it were passed, a contempt motion on its own would not force Boris Johnson’s government to comply. Theresa May’s government did, but May respected the authority of parliament. Johnson’s administration seems much more contemptuous of it.

    On other issues MPs and campaigners have threatened legal action, or gone to court, to ensure that Johnson complies with their wishes. But this vote is not a matter of legislation. It is a Commons procedural matter, and so it is hard to see on what basis the courts could intervene.

  168. says


    NOAA’s Craig McLean, acting chief scientist, says he will investigate @NOAA siding with @realdonaldtrump rather than @NWS: “The NWS Forecaster(s) corrected any public misunderstanding in an expert and timely way, as they should.”

    NOAA’s press release: “inappropriately and incorrectly contradicted the NWS forecaster. My understanding is that this intervention to contradict the forecaster was not based on science but on external factors including reputation & appearance, or simply put, political.”

    “the content of this press release is very concerning as it compromises the ability of NOAA to convey life-saving information necessary to avoid substantial and specific danger to public health and safety.”

    “If the public cannot trust our information, or we debase our forecaster’s warnings and products, that specific danger arises”

    “I am pursuing the potential violations of our NOAA Administrative Order on Scientific Integrity. … I have a responsibility to pursue these truths. I will.”

  169. says

    Yahoo – “More than 2,000 attend Sarajevo’s first Gay Pride march”:

    More than two thousand people turned out in Sarajevo Sunday for the city’s first Gay Pride march to protest hate crimes suffered by the LGBT community in Bosnia.

    More than 1,100 officers, including riot police, sealed off the route of the march through the city centre to protect participants from a counter protest by about 150 people.

    Activist Lejla Huremovic celebrated the fact that members of the LGBT community had been able to make themselves more visible.

    “Today, we say louder than before that we will fight with bravery and dignity for our lives (to be) … free of fear and violence,” she said.

    “More than 2,000 people took part in the march and it passed off without incident,” police spokesman Mirza Hadziabdic told AFP.

    Members of the LGBT community and others walked for 1,500 metres (almost a mile) starting from a monument commemorating the liberation of the city at the end of WWII.

    Among those taking part were ambassadors from several western countries, including Britain, France, Italy and the United States.

    Demonstrators carried the gay community’s rainbow flags, blew whistles, played drums and shouted slogans along the route.

    The march ended with a rally in front of the Parliament.

    “We demand a society in which we will together fight against violence, hatred, isolation and homophobia,” said Branko Culibrk, another marcher.

    There were gay festival s Sarajevo in 2008 and again in 2014, at which radical Islamists and thugs attacked people taking part.

    But this was the first Gay Pride march in the Bosnian capital.

    Bosnia, a country of 3.5 million people, officially bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but it does not recognise partnerships between people of the same sex.

    “We cannot have civil unions,” 21-year-old Matej Vrebac noted to AFP.

    “The day we will speak of adopting children is still far off. But today is the first Bosnian Gay Pride and we hope in the future to speak about all that,” he said.

    Some Muslim associations and political parties representing Muslims had urged the organisers of the march to call it off.

    On Saturday, a few hundred people took the same route in a march in favour of the traditional family, while on Sunday, around 150 people gathered in a park to protest the Gay Pride march.

    Some cried out “Allah Akbar” (God is great), and said a prayer for a “deluge” to come and sweep away the Gay Pride participants.

    “This city has never suffered a bigger humiliation than the one they prepared for it today,” protest organiser Sanin Musa declared.

    More than 80 percent of Sarajevo’s 340,000 population are Muslim.

  170. says

    There’s nothing funny of course about Trump’s cavalier attitude towards allies but the timing of his diplomatic entreaties to Iran, on the eve of a crucial election in Israel and just 2 hours after a special Netanyahu statement on a new Iranian weapons facility is cruelly ironic.

    And just a couple of weeks there was speculation in the media about a special gesture Trump was planning for Netanyahu on the eve of the election.”

    Might well be that he’s reading the Israel polls and deciding to toss Netanyahu overboard.

  171. says

    Of course. Of course. Trump is now warning that Bahamians who are escaping the destruction of Hurricane Dorian should NOT be let into the USA because some of them might be “bad people” etc. (Just imagine Trump’s usual litany of name-calling and disparaging descriptions of immigrants who might be one of several shades of brown. Now apply that here.)

    […] Trump on Monday downplayed the idea of allowing Bahamians fleeing the destruction of Hurricane Dorian into the United States on humanitarian grounds, hours after his acting Customs and Border Protection chief said it was worth considering. […]

    “I don’t want to allow people that weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers.” […]

    NBC News link

  172. says

    From the G:

    Johnson throws down the gauntlet to opposition MPs and reasserts that he would leave the EU without a deal.

    If you really want to delay Brexit beyond October the 31st, which is what you seem to want to do, then vote for an election and let the people decide if they want a delay or not. And if you refuse to do that tonight, I will go to Brussels and negotiate our departure, hopefully with a deal, but without one if necessary. I will not ask for another delay.

  173. says

    Bertrand and O’Brien in Politico – “Air Force crews have lodged at Trump’s Scottish resort at least 4 times”:

    Air Force crews have stayed overnight at President Donald Trump’s Turnberry resort in Scotland on at least four occasions, two more than previously reported.

    The four trips — uncovered through interviews with people present, records of expenditures and social media postings — date back to at least September 2018 and continued through at least this past June. They include at least one instance in which a crew member said a nearby airport arranged for rides and lunches to and from the luxury waterside retreat. All the flights were shuttling crews between the United States and the Middle East, and at least three of them of them were divisions of the Air National Guard. In total, over 60 service members stayed at the posh property on these stopovers.

    Now, with Congress returning from an extended August break, Democrats want to make sure these Air Force crews never again stay at a Trump Turnberry. On Monday, lawmakers began stumping for the Senate to adopt an amendment that would bar the Pentagon from spending money at nearly five dozen Trump properties worldwide. The House passed the clause in July as part of the broader annual defense policy bill, but it has not yet been adopted into law.

    “As alarming details emerge about U.S. Air Force crews staying at the President’s luxury golf resort in Scotland, it has become even more important that Congress include this language in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act,” said Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), one of the sponsors of the proposal.

    The push to outlaw the practice will join a growing list of conflict-of-interest concerns that Democrats want to highlight in the coming months as House leaders decide whether to begin formal impeachment proceedings against the president. The overnight stops at Turnberry have already sparked a broader House Oversight Committee investigation of military spending at and around Trump properties. The Air Force over the weekend also launched a worldwide review of how it chooses lodging on overnight layovers. A legislative battle could be next.

    “The president has already shown a willingness to violate the Constitution’s emoluments clause, and Congress has a duty to use every tool we can to stop him,” Beyer said, referring to the provision that prohibits the president from receiving any compensation from the federal government other than a salary….

    More at the link. “The Prestwick stop was due to fuel ‘limitations’ on the flight out Kosovo, the spokesperson said. And the overnight stay at Turnberry was arranged through the Defense Travel System — essentially the Pentagon’s in-house travel agent — and ‘directed by a higher echelon … based on mission and operational requirements’.” Oh, there’s a lot here, and the Defense Travel System would be a good place to start.

  174. says

    Walter Shaub: “Free lunches + 62-mile roundtrip jaunts from Prestwick Airport (a foreign govt entity & U.S. defense contractor) to a resort owned by the President, who says these flight crews showed ‘good taste’ by supporting his business and propping up the lagging airport on which it depends.”

  175. says

    “A reminder that progroguing parliament does not just have implications for Brexit.

    Parliament will not sit again until 15 October and a host of bills will not be heard because of the break, including, as Jon Featonby from the British Red Cross points out, a bill about reuniting refugees in the UK with their family members.”

  176. says

    From Steve Benen:

    […] the underlying question isn’t whether Trump is facing credible allegations of high crimes and misdemeanors, but how many high crimes and misdemeanors the president may have committed. […]


    Summary of crimes at the link.

  177. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    Remarkable development here in the Alabama imbroglio. The headline is that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, one of the most corrupt of President Trump’s Cabinet secretaries, threatened to fire NOAA leadership over the Alabama dispute. (I hesitate even call it a “dispute.”) What struck me more is that administration officials are putting out word that staffers at the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service were simply trying to embarrass the President rather than acting out of concern for public safety. In the Times’ words: “That official suggested the Twitter post by the Birmingham forecasters had been motivated by a desire to embarrass the president more than concern for the safety of people in Alabama.”

    This entire dispute is so stupid, so frivolous and ridiculous, that it’s easy to just dismiss it as another Trump shiny object. But it is actually rooted in something deeper and more ominous. There’s what the President says, whether true, whether on purpose. And everyone has to fall in line — government scientists, government safety officials, everybody.

    There’s something very stark and ominous here. Ground level government scientists and weather officials, who play a critical role in public safety, are doing just what they’re supposed to: make sure people have the most accurate information about the weather. They’re not just contradicted. They’re accused of being the President’s enemies.

  178. says

    Trump Defends Visa Requirement, Baselessly Claims Gang Members Coming From Bahamas

    […] Trump defended on Monday the policy requiring Bahamian evacuees to have U.S. visas by claiming without evidence that “gang members” and “drug dealers” were trying to get into the country with the evacuees.

    Echoing the same racist rhetoric he’s previously employed about immigrants and Mexicans, Trump said he doesn’t want to allow “people that weren’t supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers.”

    “Everybody needs totally proper documentation,” Trump told reporters.

    His comments contradict those of acting Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner Mark Morgan, who said several hours earlier that evacuees from the Bahamas would be allowed to enter the U.S. “whether you have travel documents or not.”

    Hurricane survivors on a ferry destined for Florida on Sunday were ordered to disembark if they did not have a U.S. visa.

    Dorian, a category five storm, decimated the Bahamas over the weekend, leaving at least 43 people dead and 70,000 other displaced. […]


    From the readers comments:

    If they claimed to be members of the Taliban, he’d invite them to Camp David.
    These hurricane survivors who were ordered to disembark included babies — because, you know, you can never be too careful with baby drug dealers and baby gang members…

    Before the hurricane, people from the Bahamas could fly to the USA without a visa. They did need a passport, and a paper from the police stating that they had no criminal record. They didn’t need a visa then, why do they need one now? Is trump expecting the people devastated by the storm to go to Nassau first to get a visa?

  179. says

    Trump makes unfounded voter fraud claim — while campaigning for seat opened by GOP cheating

    […] Trump was in North Carolina to stump for Dan Bishop, a Republican who is competing with Democrat Dan McCready in a special election on Tuesday to fill the Congress seat vacated by former 9th District Rep. Mark Harris (R-NC) after evidence emerged that the Harris campaign was involved in a ballot tampering scheme.

    But in a sign of just how brazen Trump’s lies can be, the president used the occasion not to try to draw a distinction between Harris’s scandal and Bishop’s campaign, but to make baseless accusations that undocumented immigrants are involved in massive voter fraud in California.

    “You go to California, which has so many sanctuary cities. They don’t know what’s happening out there,” Trump said. “You have people that want to get rid of those sanctuary cities, they just aren’t able to do it with the people that get elected. A lot of illegal voting going on out there, by the way.” […]

    Trump has repeatedly tried to explain away his 2016 popular vote lost by alleging, without evidence, that massive cheating occurred. But while the scandal he’s pushing is a fake one, the irony is Trump wouldn’t even have been in North Carolina on Monday evening if a Republican there hadn’t gotten caught cheating.

    Back in February, state investigators laid out their theory of what went wrong in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional district election last year. Their case, as explained by Vox’s Dylan Scott: Leslie McCrae Dowless, a political operative contracted by Harris’s campaign, “directed a coordinated scheme to unlawfully collect, falsely witness, and otherwise tamper with absentee ballots.” […]


  180. says

    From Wonkette:

    We simply cannot write the post “Hurricane Continues To Swallow Alabama In President’s Brain, But Don’t Worry, Alabama, It’s Super Nice Outside Right Now” each and every fucking day. But yet, we do have to cover this thing, as long as it continues. (Yes, we do. We’ll talk about why in a second.)

    First, let’s just run down some stats:

    Today’s Weather Forecast In Alabama:

    It is hot as BALLS, as it usually tends to be in the South well into September. No rain in the forecast for Birmingham, at least right now, until early next week, but Mobile has a 40 percent chance of PM thunderstorms. But will they be HURRICANE THUNDERSTORMS? (They will not. The Washington Post sent a reporter to cover “hurricane.” It says there is not “hurricane.”)

    Trump’s Most Recent Tweet On Biiiiiiiig Alabama Hurricanes (May Be Out Of Date By Time We Publish This): [snipped description of, and posting of, cat and laser pointer video that Trump retweeted in a vain attempt to make fun of CNN]

    […] we have a couple of important stories going on right here and right now. First, this is about the obvious further deterioration of the president’s brain. Last week, we considered the possibility that Trump may never stop talking about this hurricane, and along with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, asked how long the GOP will let that go on before it finally realizes that maybe President #PAB up there in the White House might not have the mental acuity to continue in his current position. […]

    But then there is the brazen corruption aspect of all of it. On Friday night, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released an unsolicited statement to cover up for the president, which said, in essence, that the fucking National Weather Service in Birmingham, which NOAA oversees, which had immediately contradicted Trump’s original Alabama hurricane tweet, for public safety reasons, was fake news. […]

    This is batshit. We don’t care who is in office, the American people should be able to trust the people charged with FORECASTING FUCKING HURRICANES.

    But even that, in Trump’s America, is corrupted, because the emperor has no clothes and also very hurt feelings. […]


  181. tomh says

    Judge reimposes nationwide injunction against Trump’s asylum rules
    By Robert Barnes September 9 at 5:30 PM

    A federal judge in California on Monday reimposed a nationwide injunction against President Trump’s policy denying asylum to almost all who enter the country after passing through Mexico or a third country.

    U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar of Oakland said the policy could not be implemented anywhere along the southern border while a legal battle over it proceeds. The Trump administration announced on July 16 a change that denies asylum in the United States to those who pass through other countries without seeking asylum there.

    The Supreme Court is considering a request by the administration to allow the new restriction.

    The White House issued a statement Monday expressing eagerness for the high court to weigh in.

    “Immigration and border security policy cannot be run by any single district court judge who decides to issue a nationwide injunction,” the statement says. “This ruling is a gift to human smugglers and traffickers and undermines the rule of law.”

    Tigar, an Obama administration appointee in the Northern District of California, had once before imposed a nationwide injunction. But a U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit panel said the four immigrant-rights organizations challenging the restriction had not presented enough evidence to warrant a nationwide injunction.

    The panel said the injunction should apply only in the border states within the 9th Circuit, California and Arizona. That removed the restriction in Texas and New Mexico. A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity, said the new rule is being applied along the border in those states.

    Tigar said he interpreted the 9th Circuit’s ruling to mean he was free to reimpose the nationwide injunction if there was evidence to warrant it. Because some of the organizations have clients outside the 9th Circuit, he said, only a nationwide injunction would supply the relief to which they were entitled.

    Groups challenging the asylum rules change say it upends, without congressional approval, a 40-year-old policy of considering asylum for those who can show they faced persecution or violence in their home countries.

    But the Trump administration contends Congress gave the departments of Justice and Homeland Security authority to impose restrictions on asylum seekers beyond those in federal law. Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco told the Supreme Court that the new requirement “alleviates a crushing burden on the U.S. asylum system by prioritizing asylum seekers who most need asylum in the United States.”

  182. blf says

    Almost as blistering as her “shat on the carpet” column (@89 & @118), Miriam Lord in the Irish Times on Johnson’s visit to Dublin, Boris stepped off roundabout looking dizzy, like a dishevelled Dougal:

    Johnson was in Dublin scattering optimism and enthusiasm about like fairy dust

    At least he turned up when he said he would.

    Which counted as a good start.

    Supporters of the British prime minister may refuse to accept their man has an open relationship with the truth but to the unblinkered eye, the phrase “he couldn’t lie straight in the bed” was invented for Boris Johnson.

    Not so, say his acolytes. He is not a liar. He is verité fluid.

    But of course, Johnson was never going to welch on his Monday morning appointment in Dublin with the Taoiseach [Irish PM]. He’s not gone the full Trump, yet, even if opponents back in London were darkly predicting this is only a matter of time after his government confirmed it was suspending parliament for over a month.

    Nonetheless, when Johnson’s arrival ran slightly behind schedule, doubts began to creep in. Because you never know with Boris, do you?

    It’s why [Taoiseach] Leo Varadkar needed to be clear and unambiguous when laying out Ireland’s stance on the Border backstop (among other issues) when he had a captive audience in the new UK PM on the steps of Government Buildings.

    “What we cannot do and will not do — and I know you understand this — is the replacement of a legal guarantee with a promise” he told his British counterpart, no offence and all that.

    But while Johnson was physically present at the adjoining microphone, it’s debatable whether the Taoiseach had his undivided attention. Throughout Varadkar’s polite but pointedly realistic assessment of the Brexit state of play, his guest fidgeted and grimaced and smirked, eyes scanning the rows of journalists as if trying to find a friendly face in the crowd. In contrast, the Taoiseach turned his face towards his fellow leader and listened intently while he spoke.

    In tone, style and look, the two men couldn’t have been more different. […]

    [… Leo] looked very smart in his close cut suit as he prepared to greet his honoured guest. When Boris got out of the car and bounded up the steps, baggy of trouser and untethered of shirt, a male voice arose from the ranks of the Irish media.

    “Jaaaysus, would ya look at the state of him.”

    That was rather unfair. It takes effort to maintain such a low standard.

    It was very cordial between the two as they warmly shook hands and faced the cameras. Boris, a la Trump, remarked to Leo that the journalists were very well behaved.

    On to the statements, Crumplestiltskin mussing up his hair and swinging his arms and making faces while the Taoiseach administered a dose of reality from outside the Westminster bubble.


  183. blf says

    Seamus Jennings in the Grauniad on Boris Johnson’s Brexit course (cartoon). The face on the nosecone is Dominic Cummings, an “advisor” who seems to be the one running the show (similar to hair furor’s “adviser” Stephen Miller).

    I quite like this reader’s comment (a shorter version of @291):

    Almost anyone would look and sound good when observed together with Boris Johnson.

    Leo Varadkar: man at ease with himself and his clear thinking brain.

    Boris Johnson: man ill at ease with himself and his disjointed malfunctioning brain who finds it excruciatingly difficult to verbally construct even a single coherent sentence.

    Another reader piles on:

    I watched a naughty schoolboy earlier, standing next to a distinguished and learned statesman in the full glare of a public audience. Looking increasingly discomfited by everything Varadkar said, he simply had no answer other than what appeared to be strong arguments for staying in the EU. But it was his apish loosening of the shoulders gesture that he made after answering a question from the Irish press that literally made me laugh out loud. One for YouTube or tomorrow’s front pages methinks.

    Gestures aside, any member of the cabinet, or anybody that still stands by Boris Johnson, should be made to watch this press conference in full, paying particular attention to the detail of Varadkar’s remarks. Then, excepting Johnson’s visits to the Irish border, provide specific and definitive answers to the questions he could not.

  184. says

    The US government just announced ALL Bahamians traveling to the US will have to have a valid travel visa from now on.

    This means people in northern (impacted) islands will have to travel over 200 km to Nassau before coming to Florida. Florida is less than 100 km from Freeport.

    Technically, Bahamians can travel to the US with a passport and police documents showing they had no criminal record. That’s the last line.

    But the only office that currently handles that is in Nassau. The Freeport office is closed because of the storm.

    The rest of the release. [at the link – SC]


    ‘The U.S. Embassy in Nassau is open for emergency visa appointments and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Ports of Entry are prepared, should Bahamians request to temporarily relocate to the United States’.

    Bottom line is it’s going to be a lot harder for people in the hardest hit islands to get to the US. Nassau is already seeing a huge internal influx of people fleeing the hard hit islands.

    Now the escape valve of Florida is sharply cut off.”

  185. says

    Closing summary from yesterday’s Guardian liveblog:

    Parliament has been suspended until 14 October after a day and night of high drama that ended at about 2am.

    There were chaotic scenes as the prorogation formalities began in the early hours of Tuesday. Speaker of the House, John Bercow, expressed his anger at the suspension of proceedings, saying it was “not a normal prorogation. It is not typical. It is not standard. It’s one of the longest for decades and it represents… an act of executive fiat”.

    A group of opposition MPs, carrying signs saying “silenced” tried to prevent the Speaker John Bercow from exiting his chair to go to the House of Lords to complete prorogation proceedings. As Conservatives left the chamber with the Speaker to attend the House of Lords, Labour MPs chanted “Shame on you!” at them, while they remained in parliament singing Red Flag, Bread of Heaven (in Welsh), and Scots Wha Hae.

    A thunderous Bercow returned to the House of Commons to confirm the prorogation of parliament, but only a handful of Conservative MPs returned, painting a striking visual of empty government and packed opposition benches.

    Earlier in the day, Boris Johnson once again failed in his attempt to force an early general election after opposition MPs abstained and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would not let his party walk into “traps laid by this prime minister”. This was the sixth parliamentary defeat for the prime minister in a week, more defeats than Thatcher, Major, Blair or Brown had in their entire tenures as PM.

    Despite royal assent being given to legislation requiring a delay to Brexit beyond October 31 unless a divorce deal is approved or parliament agrees to leave the EU without one by 19 October , Johnson insisted he would not ask for another Brexit delay.

    Speaker John Bercow announced his intention to stand down next month, leading to both tributes and criticism in the House.

    MPs voted narrowly to demand the government publish all written and electronic contact connected to prorogation and no-deal Brexit planning. While the government agreed it would share “appropriate information with parliament” but argued the “scope of the information requested disproportionate and unprecedented”.

    The Liberal Democrats announced they are set to officially back revoking article 50 in an attempt to position themselves as the most pro-EU political party, effectively severing the chances of an alliance with Labour at a forthcoming general election.

  186. says

    Mother Jones – “Judge Promoted by Trump Administration Threatened a 2-Year-Old With an Attack Dog”:

    On March 30, 2016, in an immigration courtroom in Charlotte, North Carolina, a 2-year-old boy was doing what you might expect: He was making some noise. But Judge V. Stuart Couch—a former Marine known to have a temper—was growing frustrated. He pointed his finger at the Guatemalan child and demanded that he be quiet.

    When the boy failed to obey his command, the threats began. “I have a very big dog in my office, and if you don’t be quiet, he will come out and bite you!” Couch yelled.

    Couch continued, as a Spanish-language interpreter translated for the child, “Want me to go get the dog? If you don’t stop talking, I will bring the dog out. Do you want him to bite you?” Couch continued to yell at the boy throughout the hearing when he moved or made noise.

    Kathryn Coiner-Collier, the only independent observer in the courtroom that day, says her mouth was on the floor as Couch made his threats. She sometimes saw Department of Homeland Security dogs sweeping the court building, and it was completely plausible to her that dogs could have been there that day. Coiner-Collier, then a coordinator for a project run by the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy to assist immigrants who couldn’t afford attorneys, says she “ferociously scribbled everything” Couch was saying. Soon after, she wrote an affidavit containing the dialogue above, and Kenneth Schorr, the Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s executive director, submitted a complaint to the Justice Department in April 2016.

    “I was outraged,” Schorr says about learning of the threats. “I’ve been practicing law for over 40 years and I have never experienced judicial conduct this bad.” Coiner-Collier says Assistant Chief Immigration Judge Deepali Nadkarni, Couch’s superior, interviewed her multiples times about the affidavit and told her that it was accurate. Schorr says Nadkarni told him that everything in the affidavit was corroborated by the internal investigation. Nadkarni wrote to Schorr in June 2016, “Judge Couch acknowledged he did not handle the situation properly and assured me it will not occur again.”

    Schorr doesn’t think that Couch should have been able to remain on the bench after his threat to call in a dog on a child. In an unexpected way, he got his wish: In August, the Trump administration promoted Couch and five other judges to the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals, which often has the final say over whether immigrants are deported. All six judges reject asylum requests at a far higher rate than the national average; Couch granted just 7.9 percent of asylum claims between 2013 and 2018, compared to the national average of about 45 percent….

    Much more at the link.

  187. says

    JUST IN: House Oversight is threatening a subpoena if DoD fails to turn over docs related to military stays at Turnberry. ‘The Committee does not understand why the Department has delayed responding to this request…without any legitimate explanation’.”

  188. KG says


    I think the opposition parties have made a serious error in refusing the opportunity for an election in mid-October: my hunch is that Johnson will find a way of weaseling around the law obliging him to ask for a further Article 50 extension, and then push for an election as “The man who delivered Brexit”, and due to our absurdly undemocratic FPTP electoral system, likely win a majority. But I’ve been wrong twice about what Johnson would do, so I hope I’m wrong.

  189. says

    BuzzFeed – “Boris Johnson Secretly Asked For A Massive Amount Of User Data To Be Tracked. Dominic Cummings Said It’s ‘TOP PRIORITY’.”:

    Boris Johnson has secretly ordered the Cabinet Office to turn the government’s public internet service into a platform for “targeted and personalised information” to be gathered in the run-up to Brexit, BuzzFeed News has learned.

    In a move that has alarmed Whitehall officials, the prime minister has instructed departments to share data they collect about usage of the GOV.UK portal so that it can feed into preparations for leaving the European Union at the end of next month.

    Dominic Cummings, the prime minister’s chief adviser, emailed senior officials instructing them to make sure that ministers, department heads and political aides know that the instruction is “TOP PRIORITY”, according to leaked government documents….

    More at the link. I highly doubt they would be competent to use this to provide public services. I don’t doubt for a second that they’re competent to use it for nefarious purposes.

  190. says

    Trump tweeted:

    “I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore….

    ….I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week.”

    Hired in an attempt to lasso the news cycle, fired the same way.

  191. says

    Some background on Bolton:

    […] the question isn’t why [Trump] fired yet another national security adviser; the question is why in the world Trump thought Bolton was a good choice in the first place.

    Bolton was wholly unprepared and unqualified for the job, and [Trump] reportedly only chose him for the position because he thought the former Fox News personality was “good on television.”

    Oddly enough, that apparently proved to be an inadequate qualification, and Trump eventually discovered that he didn’t actually agree with Bolton’s national security perspective and had no use for his advice.

    As regular readers know, the dynamic couldn’t have been simpler: non-interventionist presidents shouldn’t hire warmongers to guide the White House on matters of national security.

    If you never saw a Trump stump speech before the election, you may not appreciate just how much the Republican enjoys reading – indeed, performing – Al Wilson’s “The Snake” parable. The story is simple: a “tender woman” rescues a “vicious snake,” who repays her generosity by biting her.

    When the dying woman asks why, the snake explains with a grin, “Oh shut up, silly woman. You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in.”

    In this case, a president rescued a far-right foreign policy hawk, who repaid his generosity by encouraging him to start wars. Trump wasn’t persuaded, but the silly president knew damn well his aide was a hawk before he took him in.


    I was dismayed when Trump hired Bolton. Now I am dismayed by the way Trump fired him, and by the whole Taliban-at-Camp-David debacle. It’s a mess from start to finish.

  192. says

    From the editorial board of the Denver Post:

    Sen. Cory Gardner should be livid with the president, but Colorado’s Republican senator is still squarely in Donald Trump’s corner. It’s astounding.

    Instead of expressing anger at the news last week that Trump is diverting $8 million from construction at Peterson Air Force Base to fund his border wall project, Gardner lashed out at Democrats in a pitiful attempt to rewrite history in his favor.

    So we thought we’d help jog Gardner’s memory about how we really got to the point where $3.6 billion in long-planned, prioritized, vetted and shovel-ready Department of Defense projects across the nation were put on the shelf to fund one president’s half-baked, congressionally-rejected campaign promise.

    This story of congressional incompetence and executive overreach began in January 2018 when Sens. Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin brought a bipartisan immigration reform package to the president that included $2.5 billion for physical barriers on the U.S. southern border.

    Trump rejected the package because it allowed immigration from what he termed “(expletive) countries.” Instead of negotiating for more money for his wall, Trump derailed any effort at comprehensive immigration reform.

    Eleven months later, Trump shut down the government because Senate Democrats refused to support a $5 billion earmark for the wall that Trump demanded be included in a continuing resolution to keep the government running in lieu of a budget deal.

    To Trump’s credit, he caved and reopened the government without the funding for his wall. But then things went way off the rails. Republicans in the Senate and in the House passed a budget that did not include funding for Trump’s wall. It was a clear message to the president that for Congress, the wall was not a budgetary priority (Civics 101: Congress controls the purse).

    Trump took the unprecedented step of declaring an emergency at the border allowing him to divert funds from things Congress had funded to build the wall. Gardner had his opportunity to oppose this clear effort to undermine congressional authority. He had a chance to stand up for the Constitution and send a message to future presidents that they are not dictators with ultimate authority over spending and legislation. Gardner did none of those things. He voted against the resolution of disapproval of the president’s emergency declaration — the resolution passed with the support of 12 Republicans who saw the danger Trump’s actions posed to our legislative branch of government, but Trump vetoed it. Gardner’s support would have been one step closer to a veto-proof majority. It mattered, as did the message it would have sent.

    Republicans at the time defended Gardner saying that the senator had secured a promise to protect Colorado’s military institutions from the cuts needed to fund the wall. This was a senator who prioritized protecting his constituents, Gardner’s supporters said. Yes, who cares about scruples and convictions when local funding is at risk? Gardner’s office even boasted that Colorado would be spared from any fiscal year 2019 cuts … failing to mention or not being aware that the fiscal year 2018 project at Peterson Air Force base was on the chopping block.

    So what does Gardner say now that Colorado is losing something in this raw deal?

    “It’s unfortunate Democrats can’t defend the border and defend the country at the same time,” Gardner said in a statement released after news of the cuts at Peterson.

    We think it’s unfortunate Gardner can’t defend Colorado and the U.S. Constitution at the same time, or even one at a time, or just one or the other.


    Now that is one well-written editorial.

  193. says

    Trump thinks he has found proof that Barack Obama was not a great president:

    President Obama gave me a beautiful birthday present when he gave me 138 judges that weren’t approved. And, frankly, how do you consider that being a great president when you hand to the opposition 138 slots of federal judges, including appellate court judges and one Supreme Court judge?


    […] Trump has made comments like these several times before, suggesting he’s genuinely baffled. In his mind, Obama must’ve been outrageously incompetent to simply leave all of these vacancies on the federal bench.

    It’s at about this point that some of the folks that I know who worked in the Obama White House start having aneurysms.

    Obama didn’t hand Trump dozens of judicial vacancies, including a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court; Mitch McConnell did.

    For the first six years of the Democratic administration, GOP senators did everything they could to slow, block, and obstruct the judicial confirmation process, exploiting every procedure, abusing every rule, and in some cases, making up new rules that didn’t exist.

    In the final two years of the Obama era, when Republicans were in the majority, McConnell brought the confirmation process to a halt altogether. That included leaving a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court open for nearly a year […]

    This isn’t evidence of Obama failing to be great; it’s evidence of Mitch McConnell and his Republican brethren engaging in an abuse without precedent in the American tradition. The fact that Trump seems wholly unaware of these details suggests he was paying even less attention to current events before his election than he does now.


  194. says

    Bolton tweeted: “I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow’.”

    Bolton wasn’t a Trumper to begin with, and now he’s been marginalized and then unceremoniously ejected. He needs to start talking to the media.

  195. says

    SC @309, yeah, and then tomorrow came and Trump wanted to star in his own “you’re fired” show so he tweeted about Bolton. You’re right, this is probably not something Bolton will let pass. I’m sure you noticed that Trump already has spokespeople out there supporting the apparently false narrative that he fired John Bolton.

    In other news, more evil doings from the Trump administration on the immigration front:

    Senators are condemning the Trump administration’s inhumane decision to not vaccinate migrant kids and families in Customs and Border Protection custody ahead of flu season as “immoral and irresponsible,” telling top department leaders that this is a “dangerous” decision when the flu “has already proven fatal to children” under U.S. watch.

    “Though the flu is a preventable illness,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren leads in a letter signed by 12 additional Democratic senators, “at least three children in U.S. custody died, in part, from the flu.” Administration officials are defending the decision to withhold vaccinations, citing “the short-term nature of CBP holding,” and “the complexities of operating vaccination programs.” But both claims are false.

    One 17-year-old mom said that she and her sick baby had been jailed for nearly three weeks at a facility in McAllen, Texas, criminally exceeding the 72-hour limit for detained minors. In late August, BuzzFeed News also obtained a draft policy detailing the administration’s interest in collecting the DNA samples of possibly hundreds of thousands of immigrants. But flu shots are too “complex,” apparently. “It is not because of insurmountable complexity that the Trump administration is withholding flu shots from detained migrants,” pediatrician Daniel Summers wrote. “It is because they simply do not care to protect them.” […]


  196. says

    Lis Power:


    Kilmeade: “John Bolton just texted me, just now, he’s watching. He said, ‘let’s be clear, I resigned.'”

    It’s possible that Kilmeade was making up the “he’s watching” part and that Bolton is just texting EVERYONE to dispute his firing.

  197. says

    The EU is poised to fight Trump:

    European Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen Tuesday called for sharper trade weapons to take on U.S. President Donald Trump.

    Von der Leyen tasked her pick for trade commissioner, Phil Hogan, with developing new retaliation powers to hit back specifically against countries that are blocking the dispute settlement system of the World Trade Organization — namely, the United States.

    “I want you to look at how we can strengthen our trade toolbox,” von der Leyen told Hogan in her mission letter. “This should include upgrading the EU’s Enforcement Regulation to allow us to use sanctions when others adopt illegal measures and simultaneously block the WTO dispute settlement process.” […]

    The president-elect also confirmed there would be a new “chief trade enforcer” post, appointed by the College of Commissioners, who will work under Hogan’s “direct guidance to monitor and improve the compliance of our trade agreements.”

    Lastly, von der Leyen said Hogan should “contribute to the design and introduction of the carbon border tax, working closely with the commissioner for the economy. The carbon border tax should be fully compliant with WTO rules.”


  198. says

    JUST IN: The FEMA official who oversaw the reconstruction of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid after Hurricane Maria in 2017 has been arrested in connection with fraud and conspiracy charges.

    In addition to the agency’s regional administrator and her deputy, the former president of Cobra Acquisitions, which got a $1.8 billion contract to restore power on the island, was charged.

    Among the charges are conspiracy to commit bribery against a public officer, making false statements and fraud with recovery funds.

    According to the indictment, Cobra’s president provided FEMA’s regional administrator with personal helicopter use, hotel accommodations, airfare, personal security services, and the use of a credit card in exchange for influence to receive power restoration work.

    The island went 11 months until power was fully restored — the largest blackout in U.S. history.”

  199. says

    From Wonkette: “Did Bahamian Hurricane Survivors Get Screwed By Trump, Incompetence, Or Trump’s Incompetence?”

    […] over 100 passengers on a Bahamian ferry bound from Freeport to Ft. Lauderdale Sunday were told they’d have to get off the boat before it left, because they didn’t have visas to travel to the United States. Normally, no visa is needed for Bahamians to go to Florida — they only need their Bahamas passport and a recent copy of a clean criminal record check from police. Video of the passengers reacting to the announcement that they’d “suffer penalties” if they didn’t have a visa went all over Twitter, and people wondered what the fuck Stephen Miller was pulling now. Turning away people fleeing a hurricane, are you fucking kidding?

    Like everything else in the Trump years, it’s not clear whether this is due to deliberate fuckery, bureaucratic incompetence, or some combination of the two. US officials insisted the rules hadn’t changed, at all, saying instead the ferry company had screwed up and should have cleared those passengers’ information with the US embassy beforehand, which immigration officials said is the usual procedure. The Spanish-owned ferry company, Baleària, says it received contradictory messages from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) about what documents the passengers would need. […]

    [Boix Escolies] said the company required all passengers to have visas on Friday and Saturday, but on Sunday allowed people without visas to board because United States immigration authorities said they could. […]

    “This was a situation we do not like. We interpreted instructions that were not correct,” Ms. Boix Escolies said. “They are making Baleària out to be the bad guys. When we board passengers, it is with the objective of taking them to their destination.”

    An official with CBP told Florida TV station WSVN Monday that if the passengers without visas had stayed on the ferry, CBP would have gone ahead and processed them after they landed in Florida, though it may have taken a while […] contradictory information came straight from US officials. […]

    To confuse matters further, the “president” of the USA said Monday that Bahamians fleeing disaster had to be screened carefully, because they might all be bent on MURDER: […]

    “Very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers,” is, of course, Donald Trump’s code for “BLACK PEOPLE AIYEEEEEEEEEEE!”

    Also, the hurricane was far worse in the US than in the Bahamas, you see. Trump laid the groundwork for his next three weeks of pissy tweets, arguing that “large sections” of the Bahamas were completely untouched by the hurricane, and that’s where all the people whose homes were destroyed will have to be stored […] Fact check: The Bahamas’ most populous island, New Providence, was not hit as hard as Grand Bahama and Abaco, but the Bahamian government is overwhelmed, and this is a truly shitty time to be talking about telling the Bahamas to handle survivors itself.

    To add to the confusion, the Washington Post reports that on Saturday, a far larger cruise ship, the Grand Celebration, brought almost 1,500 hurricane survivors from the Bahamas — many of them without US visas — to the Port of Palm Beach without incident. […]

    “Weaponized incompetence,” as some have called it.

  200. says

    More proof of incompetence and chaos:

    […] Trump tweeted around noon: “I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore … I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week.” […]

    But just an hour before the announcement, the White House announced that Bolton would be appearing at a 1:30 p.m. news conference alongside Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. It seems unlikely Bolton would agree to show up after effectively being fired. If Bolton was on his way out as of Monday night, why did the White House press office not seem to know about it at 11 a.m. Tuesday?

    Adding to the subplot is Bolton’s comments. His tweets Monday night and Tuesday didn’t indicate anything had changed, and shortly after Trump’s tweets, he chimed in by saying, “I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow.’ ” […]

    Bolton, who is apparently already talking to several media outlets, offered a fuller and more direct contradiction to the Daily Beast. After it quoted White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who backed up Trump’s account, Bolton responded in a text: “[White House] press secretary statement is flatly incorrect.” […]

    Washington Post link

  201. says

    From Catherine Rampell:

    First, they came for the unemployment rate, and we brushed it off as tinfoil-hat nonsense.

    Then they came for crowd sizes, and we laughed at the absurdity.

    The next victim was the deficit, which they said was shrinking even as we saw it rising; also climate data, which they denigrated, doctored or disappeared without a trace. But we said, eh, they always do that, no big deal.

    They purged the data-crunchers who tabulate crop prices and other agricultural statistics, and we ignored it because we weren’t farmers. They even came for the yield curve, which they said hadn’t inverted when it had, but also that even if it did invert, the inversion would mean the opposite of what everyone knows it means.

    Now, they’ve come for the weather forecast. And if earlier episodes in […] Trump’s war on statistics threatened livelihoods, this one threatens lives. […]

    Anyone who dares to produce or even accurately report on politically inconvenient metrics is allegedly participating in a vast anti-Trump conspiracy or is somehow rooting for America to fail. […]

    media corrections of Trump’s false claims about stock performance, or air purity, or the strength of the manufacturing sector, can feel tedious, pedantic and exhausting. Trump’s just being Trump, pundits scold. We should all move on to “real” concerns rather than these distractions from whatever other horrible (or, depending on your viewpoint, wonderful) things the administration is doing.

    But these are real concerns. Trump’s attempted manipulations of official metrics — and the aspersions he casts upon metrics he cannot manipulate — degrade our democracy, economy and public safety.

    Distrust in official data is deadly to voters’ ability to evaluate public policies, as well as the records of the officials crafting or overseeing those policies.

    This numerical nihilism likewise wears on companies’ and households’ abilities to make informed and economically efficient decisions, something Trump’s billionaire Cabinet should appreciate. […]


  202. tomh says

    Somewhat lost in the ongoing corruption and chaos that is our administration, is the sheer number and force of the Republicans war on regulations and reliance on executive orders to push their agenda. The environment, immigration, labor, health, agriculture, financial, housing, civil rights, are some of the areas that have felt the effects. This NYT editorial details another, one of the more shameful ones.

    The G.O.P.’s War on Women’s Health Gets Results
    Clinics providing essential services to women are struggling — and closing their doors — after years of political attacks.

    By The Editorial Board

    The Trump administration’s recent efforts to undermine the nation’s Title X family planning program are already having their intended effect, making it harder for women’s health clinics to stay afloat and for patients to afford birth control and other services.

    Three weeks after Planned Parenthood was effectively forced out of the Title X program, the group has announced that two of its clinics in the Cincinnati area will close this month — a fate that Planned Parenthood officials say was accelerated by the administration’s changes to Title X. Those changes include barring clinics that perform or even refer patients for abortions from receiving federal family planning dollars unless they jump through a near-impossible series of hoops.

    The two Planned Parenthood clinics that are closing, which had received sporadic Title X funding over the years, were already in a precarious financial position. That’s because this is hardly the first time that politicians have waged war on Planned Parenthood or on reproductive health care in general. When he was Ohio’s governor, John Kasich was especially fervent in that mission, signing more than a dozen bills targeting women’s health care. Among them was a major rollback of public financing for Planned Parenthood clinics in the state. By 2018, Ohio ranked 48th in the nation for publicly funded women’s health services. Mike DeWine, the state’s new Republican governor, has picked up where his predecessor left off, signing a bill this year that would ban abortions at as early as six weeks of pregnancy.

    Though many of these measures have been blocked by the courts, they’ve had a real effect: Clinic operations have been thrown into chaos. The number of facilities where women can get an abortion in the state has dropped by roughly half since 2011. And soon Ohio women will have two fewer places to get an affordable birth control injection or to get tested for sexually transmitted infections.

    Most of this damage has been done in the name of ending abortion in America, which is a folly of a mission, in any case. It isn’t possible to stop women from getting abortions; it’s only possible to stop them from getting legally procured ones.

    But these new Title X changes make clear that these politicians have always been trying to do more than prevent abortions. These are attacks on women’s ability to control if and when they get pregnant. On their health and well-being. On some of the most vulnerable members of society.

    As it happens, neither of the Ohio clinics that are about to close — one of which has served the community since 1977 — provides abortions. But they do help thousands of women prevent unwanted pregnancies — the best way to avoid needing an abortion.

    Many other clinics around the country are also struggling in the wake of the Title X changes. Some have gotten creative about making up their lost funding streams and access to discounted contraceptives by, for instance, leaning more heavily on individual donations. “This year it’s really a call to action,” Lisa Leach, the executive director at the Lovering Health Center in Greenland, N.H., told Politico. “We’re asking for donors, for example, to fund five IUDs.”

    The resourcefulness of these clinics is commendable. But it seems only a matter of time before more facilities around the country, especially those in states with leaders hostile to reproductive rights, buckle under the weight of relentless attacks. And women will suffer.

  203. says

    So Rachel Maddow “defamed” some rightwing news hosts with the facts. Now they are suing her.

    President Trump’s new favorite news network filed a lawsuit against one of his most frequent media punching bags: Rachel Maddow and her employer, MSNBC.

    One America News Network, a small, family-owned television network based in San Diego, California, is suing Maddow, MSNBC, NBC Universal and Comcast for $10 million, alleging Maddow defamed one of its employees.

    In the suit, One America News (OAN) owner Herring Networks alleges that a week after its president Charles Herring contacted Comcast to question why the company wouldn’t carry OAN on its network, MSNBC — which is owned by Comcast — “ran a hit piece” on OAN. The “hit piece” referenced in the suit is the July 22 episode of the “Rachel Maddow Show” in which Maddow explained an OAN employee’s ties to Sputnik News, a Russian state-owned media outlet. OAN writer Kristian Rouz has written as a freelancer for Sputnik News for the last four years.

    “In this case, the most obsequiously pro-Trump right-wing news outlet in America really literally is paid Russian propaganda,” Maddow said during the show in question. “Their on-air U.S. politics reporter is paid by the Russian government to produce propaganda for that government.”

    Herring Networks argues Maddow defamed OAN and Rouz with those remarks. In the suit Rouz says he’s “never written propaganda, disinformation, or unverified information. […]

    TPM link

  204. says

    Followup to comment 325.

    From the readers comments:

    The affirmative defense for a defamation suit is to simply prove that the comments were true.

    The reporter does work for Sputnik and OANN knows it.

    Comcast should return the favor and bankrupt the Herrings and their little bullshit network.
    It’s weird that Sputnik isn’t suing MSNBC.
    Discovery would be fun, but this suit is highly likely to be tossed out under California’s anti-SLAPP law before it ever gets to discovery. Basically, the anti-SLAPP statute requires the plaintiff to come forward with evidence of every element of the defamation claim.

    As a public figure, OAN is going to have a very hard time providing evidence to prove actual malice – i.e., actual knowledge of the statement’s falsity or reckless indifference to the truth – because Maddow’s statement was “literally” based on the Daily Beast’s reporting. Even if the DB’s reporting erroneously conflated the difference between the OAN/Sputnik reporter being a freelancer versus a salaried staff member, that mistake doesn’t get attributed to Maddow or her bosses as knowledge of falsity or reckless indifference to the truth.
    With this being the Herring Networks, Inc., and the reference to their U.S. political reporter also writing for Russia’s Sputnik News, and Trump’s new affinity for it, can we just refer to this as Trump’s Red Herring Network?

  205. says

    ThinkProgess has been a good source of news. I was sorry to see their non-functioning (or changed to static?) website earlier today. Here’s the story:

    Progressive think tank Center for American Progressive on Tuesday reversed its decision to reboot the organization’s news outlet, ThinkProgress, after the folded outlet’s union criticized the move.

    CAP and its sister organization, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, announced on Monday that ThinkProgress would resume operations, with contributions from the think tank’s staff, merely four days after ThinkProgress folded and CAP laid off all eleven members of its unionized staff.

    The ThinkProgress Union released a statement slamming the move, asking CAP to reverse its plans to use the news site for a new purpose, and saying that it was “exploring our legal options with our representatives at the Writers Guild of America East.” […]

    “To take away our independent voice and use the wide audience built by ThinkProgress Union staff for other purposes is an affront to the ThinkProgress mission,” the union said in its statement.

    CAPF then reversed course and promised to archive the site, but the organization also defended the organization’s initial decision as a better alternative to completely shuttering the site after it failed to find a new publisher.

    “At that point we were faced with a choice between shelving the site altogether or finding some productive value in using it with existing staff to hold the current corrupt occupant of the White House accountable,” CAPF said in an official statement. “We felt that opting for the latter was the greater good, given the existential crisis our nation faces, and communicated that to staff and in public statements on Friday.”

    “However, it is clear that many former ThinkProgress staff feel that the site should simply be archived with no further posting, and we will honor that request, and end the membership program immediately,” the organization concluded.

    “We are happy that CAP has honored our request,” the ThinkProgress Union responded. “Thank you all for the support during this difficult chapter.”

    TPM link

    From the readers comments:

    I am confused as to whether it is going to just be archived as is (and available to readers – but with no new posts), or it will start having new posts again, but this time posts to be written by think tank staffers? Or something else altogether.
    There’s a thin line between “we can’t afford this, so we have to close, but we’ll reboot soon” and “we don’t like our union contract, so we’re shutting down, firing all the union workers and reopening under the same name with freelance and ‘voluntary’ contributions from our nonunion staff.” I can see CAP’s point of view in trying to preserve an ongoing source of news and analysis/discussion, but it’s also the case that shutting down, firing all the staff and then reopening with decidedly lower pay scales has been a union-busting tactic since there have been unions.

  206. says

    Josh Marshall’s suspicions – #329 above – confirmed in Politico:

    …While reviewing images from the night in question, Browarnik discovered several previously unpublished photos from that evening in which Jerry Falwell Jr. and other members of the Falwell family can be seen—including Jerry’s wife, Becki, sons Trey and Wesley, and Trey’s wife, Sarah. In the images, the Falwells can be seen in the middle of the club’s dance floor while lasers and other light effects reflect around them. In at least two photos, Falwell family members can be seen holding alcohol. (Liberty University is notoriously strict about alcohol consumption, and students can receive demerits for co-ed dancing and be expelled for drinking.)

    Browarnik told me that while the photographer who took the images of the Falwell family no longer works for his company, they took meticulous notes on the photo subjects, as all of his photographers do. Among those notes: the name Trey Falwell, which accompanied a photo of Sarah and Trey Falwell on World Red Eye’s original post of the images in 2014.

    “If we didn’t take [Trey’s] name, it [would have been] non-existent,” Browarnik exclaimed.

    A real genius, that Trey.

  207. says

    “Polls have closed in a special election for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.

    Democrat Dan McCready is facing off against Republican Dan Bishop.

    Why this matters: McCready, a Marine Corps veteran, appeared to suffer a narrow defeat — by fewer than 1,000 votes — to Republican Mark Harris last November, but evidence of ballot fraud by a GOP operative connected with Harris surfaced before the results could be certified.

    State investigators’ long inquest drew national attention and, after a dramatic February finale, the North Carolina election board voted to re-run the race. Harris stood down almost immediately and Republican voters subsequently nominated Bishop.”

    I’ve been hearing about how much money went into this special election. So, is it correct that McCready ran a whole race last year and lost because the Republican cheated, so they decided to hold another election, and the Republicans got to pick a new candidate, and then McCready had to spend for another whole campaign, against a new opponent who didn’t have to run a first campaign, because the first Republican cheated?

  208. quotetheunquote says

    We’re having an election

    Yes! Here in S. Ontario, we’re all really excited to get out and vote…!

    Okay, not really. I recognize that there are some important issues at play here, but it’s hard to get riled up about the stupid, racist and/or sexist things Bernier or Scheer say compared with what we’re subjected to by the political leaders of other nearby, ah, democracies (for want of a better word).

    It’s like living in a duplex, and the house next door is on fire. The fire is threatening to consume the whole place, and the neighbour is running back and forth with buckets of gasoline to throw on it (all the while yelling “I can fix this! I’m the only one who can!”)

    Meanwhile, the house across the street is being carried away on a flood, and the family that lives there is having a vicious, screaming argument out on the front lawn over whether they should be pumping water out of the basement, or trying to pump more water into the basement (presumably, to get it to float off more effectively).

    Meanwhile, we’re sitting around in the living room, trying to decide whether to order sausage on our pizza.

    (Visual representation of the above dilemma [not literally – no pizza is involved]): The Big Snit)

  209. johnson catman says

    Re: SC @339
    NC resident here. The republicans in the Legislature will stop at nothing to push their agenda. They are the most despicable excuses for humans ever. The time will come when they will not have the power because of the NC Superior Court ruling last week about the partisan gerrymandering, so they are doing everything they can now. I hate republicans.

  210. says

    SC @339, sneaky asshats.

    From HuffPo:

    Two and a half years in, what stands out about Trump’s confirmed judges isn’t just the quantity, which is remarkable — two Supreme Court justices, a record-breaking 43 appeals court judges and 99 district court judges.

    It’s that a chunk of his judges shouldn’t be on the bench at all because they aren’t qualified or they’re so ideologically extreme that it’s next to impossible to imagine them as fair arbiters of justice. These judges are now on federal courts at every level, from the Supreme Court to appeals courts, which have the final say in nearly all federal cases, down to district courts, where these cases are first filed. For the appeals court judges in particular, the decisions these people make will affect you and millions of other people for generations.

    Unqualified And Ideological: A Guide To Trump’s Worst Judges

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Some of the jurists are more striking than others. Take Steven Menashi, for example, whose confirmation hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee began this morning.

    Menashi, a nominee for the 2nd Circuit, is an associate counsel to the president with an ugly record. You may have seen Rachel’s recent segment on a law journal article Menashi wrote arguing that democratic countries work better when everyone in the same ethnicity.

    Jennifer Bendery noted that the list of concerns keeps going from there.

    As CNN first reported, Menashi complained about “gynocentrists” participating in Take Back the Night marches; accused the Human Rights Campaign of having “incessantly exploited the slaying of Matthew Shepard” for political benefit; and claimed that a Dartmouth fraternity wasn’t being racist when it held a “ghetto party” attended by white partygoers wearing Afros and carrying toy guns.

    Menashi’s past writings include him comparing race data collection in college admissions to Germany under Adolf Hitler; denouncing women’s marches as sexual assault; opposing the ”radical abortion rights advocated by campus feminists and codified in Roe v. Wade”; arguing that diverse communities “exhibit less political and civic engagement, less effective government institutions, and fewer public goods”; and writing that it is “ridiculous” to say that students chanting the Dartmouth football cheer, “Wah-hoo-wah! Scalp ’em!,” are propagating “a racist belief in the inferiority of American Indians.”

    In a 1998 opinion article, Menashi opposed need-based financial aid because, he argued, it hurt wealthy people. He also spread the Islamophobic myth that Gen. John Pershing executed Muslim prisoners in the Philippines in 1913 with bullets dipped in pig fat.

    Ah, yes, who could forget the bullets dipped in pig fat (or blood), one of Trump’s favorite stories that he tells to rally attendees.

    More from Steve Benen:

    Demand Justice’s Brian Fallon described Menashi as “a perfect storm of awful.”

    With this in mind, Republicans have orchestrated a scheme to move Menashi through the Senate quickly: the White House formally nominated him on Monday; the GOP-led Judiciary Committee scheduled his confirmation hearing minutes later; and Menashi began fielding senators’ questions this morning.

    I’m not aware of any judicial nominee’s conformation process ever moving this quickly, and there’s no great mystery as to why Republicans are rushing: they hope to get the 40-year-old conservative through the chamber before opponents can mobilize and draw attention to just how far to the right this guy is.


    Sneaky asshats.

  211. says

    “Scottish ruling puts pressure on Johnson to recall parliament”:

    Boris Johnson is under intense pressure to recall parliament following the Scottish ruling that prorogation was unlawful, with MPs branding his refusal to do so authoritarian and an affront to democracy.

    Labour, the SNP and Lib Dems all demanded an urgent recall of parliament to allow scrutiny of the government’s Brexit plans, after Scottish appeal court judges ruled against Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline.

    The prime minister was facing outrage and the prospect of more protests, as No 10 made clear that parliament would not be reinstated unless Johnson was ordered to do so at appeal.

    Downing Street said it was not under any obligation to bring parliament back into session following the Scottish ruling but added that the government would be bound by the judgment of the supreme court. “As a matter of fact, parliament remains prorogued,” a No 10 spokesman said.

    Amid fury that Johnson was effectively ignoring a Scottish court’s judgement, Downing Street also became embroiled in a row about whether a No 10 source had briefed anonymously against Scottish judges, implying that campaigners had chosen a court in Edinburgh because of political bias.

    The source told the Sun: “We note that last week the high court in London did not rule that prorogation was unlawful. The legal activists choose the Scottish courts for a reason.”

    The prime minister’s official spokesman hit back at the idea that Johnson’s administration was in any way attacking Scottish judges, saying: “Absolutely not, we have absolute respect for the independence of the judiciary.”

    “There are now contradictory judgments in the English and Scottish courts, and the matter will be considered by the supreme court next week,” he added.

    However, the damage had been done, as opposition parties seized on the briefing….

    Downing Street was also facing accusations that Johnson had misled the Queen by advising her that prorogation was legal.

    With tensions rising, Dominic Grieve, the former Tory cabinet minister, who had the whip withdrawn by Johnson last week, said the prime minister must resign if it turns out that he had given her the wrong advice. “Boris Johnson will find himself in an untenable position in parliament … every member that believes in our constitution would simply say, it’s over,” he told the BBC.

    Pressed on whether the PM lied to the Queen about the reasoning behind the prorogation, Johnson’s spokesman referred journalists to the arguments laid out by the government’s lawyers during the court cases.

    Some Labour MPs – including some of those who took part in Monday night’s rowdy late-night scenes in the House of Commons – urged Jeremy Corbyn to issue a three-line whip to summon them back to Westminster.

    Clive Lewis said: “I am going to be discussing this with others; but there is an argument that that judgment now stands, and that the prorogation is illegal; and until it’s challenged and a new judgment is made in a higher court, the prorogation has no legal basis.

    “There is an argument for MPs to rock up and start taking back control of the agenda – and start going through the Yellowhammer documents, and everything else that we have asked for.” He suggested Corbyn could “initiate a three-line whip”, to recall colleagues.

    About 40 MPs returned to work in parliament on Wednesday in protest at its suspension and to show their support for the Scottish ruling.

    The chair of the Commons’ Brexit select committee, Labour’s Hilary Benn, the Liberal Democrat leader, Jo Swinson, and Labour’s Meg Hillier, who is standing to replace John Bercow as Speaker, were among those at a gathering outside Westminster and said they will continue to work throughout the suspension, even though they cannot hold any debates or speak in the Commons’ chamber.

    Swinson said: “This is really unprecedented what’s happening to our democracy. It’s positive the court has ruled today that this is unlawful. There is one reason why Boris Johnson has prorogued parliament and that is because he wants to force through his no-deal Brexit without having scrutiny, without having to obey the normal rules that a prime minister has to obey by.”

    She said any suggestion the judges in the Scottish court case were politically biased was “appalling”.

    Union leaders called on Johnson to recall parliament or face further protest and court proceedings….

    Here’s a link to today’s British-politics liveblog.

  212. says

    Great piece by George Monbiot in the Guardian – “The insidious ideology pushing us towards a Brexit cliff-edge”:

    …Now, as the professor of political economy Abby Innes argues, neoliberalism has reached its Brezhnev phase: “ossification, self-dealing, and directionless political churn”. Like Leninism, neoliberalism claims to be an infallible science. Its collision with the complexities of the real world has caused political sclerosis of the kind that characterised the decline of Soviet communism. As a result, “the only way to complete this revolution today is under cover of other projects: Brexit is ideal”.

    The creation of emergency is the inevitable destination of an absolutist, failed system. But emergency also provides the last means by which the failed system can be defended and extended.

  213. says

    The Operation Yellowhammer document[!] has been published (see the link at the Guardian liveblog @ #343 above). It’s not even six full pages, and one paragraph is entirely redacted. I’m going to assume it deals with Northern Ireland, but I could be wrong.

  214. says

    Reported White House involvement takes NOAA scandal to new level.

    […] The controversy became a lot less funny when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a written statement endorsing the president’s false claims and criticizing professionals at the National Weather Service for having told the truth.

    The New York Times reported that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross […] threatened to fire top employees at the federal scientific agency on Friday unless the NOAA agreed to endorse the president’s false claims. […]

    […] late last week, Wilbur Ross wasn’t even in the United States. He was in Greece for meetings and it seems implausible that he’d, out of the blue, interrupt his trip to lobby the NOAA leadership. If the reporting is correct and Ross made the threat, who directed him to intervene in the first place?

    The New York Times shed light on this angle this afternoon:

    The White House was directly involved in pressing a federal scientific agency to repudiate the weather forecasters who contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian would probably strike Alabama […]

    Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publicly disavow the forecasters’ position that Alabama was not at risk. […]

    White House involvement moves this away from a silly story about a childish president crudely drawing on a hurricane map, and toward a legitimate scandal involving political abuses of power.

    The Washington Post had a related report today, explaining that Trump personally told his staff that the NOAA needed to correct National Weather Service tweet that didn’t need correcting. It was this presidential instruction, the article added, that “led chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to call Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to tell him to fix the issue.”

    For his part, Trump told reporters today that he wasn’t directly responsible for lobbying the NOAA. “No, I never did that,” the Republican said. “I never did that. It’s a hoax by the media. That’s just fake news, right from the beginning, it was a fake story.”

    Of course, given Trump’s credibility, his denials can’t be accepted at face value. What’s more, if his team was directly involved, it doesn’t much matter whether he personally picked up the phone to lean on the NOAA. […]


  215. says

    From the liveblog:

    The government has refused to comply with Parliament’s request to make public internal communications between the prime minister’s top advisers over Operation Yellowhammer and prorogation.

    A letter from Michael Gove addressed to former Attorney General Dominic Grieve states that the request would breach the rights of those named in the communications – including civil servants and special advisers.

    This is an unprecedented, inappropriate, and disproportionate use of [the Humble Address] procedure. To name individuals without any regard for their rights or the consequences of doing so goes far beyond any reasonable right of Parliament under this procedure.

    These individuals have no right of reply, and the procedure used fails to afford them any of the protections that would properly be in place. It offends against basic principles of fairness and the Civil Service duty of care towards its employees.

  216. says

    Trump is ignorant when it comes to the issue of homelessness, nevertheless, he has ordered officials in his administration to act.

    First some background:

    […] in a Fox News interview in July, the president addressed the subject, telling Tucker Carlson that he and his team are “looking at it very seriously.” [Trump] pointed to “some of the very important things that we’re doing now,” though he didn’t identify what “things” he was referring to.

    He added, in specific reference to cities in California, “We may intercede. We may do something to get that whole thing cleaned up. It’s inappropriate. Now, we have to take the people and do something. We have to do something.”

    No one knew what he was talking about, but Trump nevertheless claimed a degree of expertise on the issue, saying in the same interview, “You know, I had a situation when I first became president, we had certain areas of Washington, DC, where that was starting to happen, and I ended it very quickly. I said, ‘You can’t do that.'” None of this made sense, either.

    From CNN: Fact check: No evidence Trump ‘ended’ Washington homelessness

    And now to bring us up to date, the Washington Post reports:

    […] “Trump pushing for major crackdown on homeless camps in California, with aides discussing moving residents to government-backed facilities.” […]

    The planning has intensified in recent weeks. Administration officials have discussed using the federal government to get homeless people off the streets of Los Angeles and other cities and into new government-backed facilities, according to two officials briefed on the planning.

    But it is unclear how they could accomplish this and what legal authority they would use. It is also unclear whether the state’s Democratic politicians would cooperate with Trump, who has sought to embarrass them over the homelessness crisis with repeated attacks on their competency. […]

    ” into new government-backed facilities” … well that sounds like another money-making opportunity for the same people that run private prisons. It also sounds like a way to ignore the civil rights of homeless people.

    From Politico:

    Gavin Newsom, California’s Democratic governor] has sparred with […] Trump before over homelessness, and a spokesperson assailed the president’s record in a statement that California “stands ready to talk” if Trump is willing to discuss “real investment” in housing. Newsom’s first budget, passed earlier this year, committed billions of dollars to housing and homelessness.

    “[Trump] could start by ending his plans to cut food stamps, gut health care for low-income people, and scare immigrant families from accessing government services,” spokesperson Nathan Click said.

    In a head-snapping turn of events that illustrated the challenges California faces in working with a hostile and mercurial president, news of possible federal action dropped – bewildering officials – as Los Angeles officials were giving a tour to a Trump administration contingent focused on homelessness.

    And … of course. Here is the real reason that Trump is focused on homelessness: Fox News has been harping on the issue. From Media Matters:

    Fox News has spent months relentlessly demonizing homelessness in cities governed by Democrats, with a particular focus on California. […]

    Earlier this year, Fox News began increasing its coverage of homelessness in America’s cities, using a conveniently vulnerable population as a bludgeon against Democratic politicians and proposals. In particular, the network has focused on California […] aired at least 53 segments that discussed homelessness in California since May.

    Trump and his administration are too incompetent to do anything useful about homelessness, but they may use the issue to denigrate California and to express bigotry towards poor people.

  217. says

    Trump lied, and lied again about polling that reflected his downward-trending approval ratings. Here’s commentary from Steve Benen:

    Earlier in the summer, Donald Trump hosted a news conference with farmers and ranchers, who heard the president talk about how impressed he is with himself. “A strange thing is happening: My numbers are going up,” the Republican claimed about his standing in the polls. “Someday, you’ll explain that to me.”

    It wasn’t at all difficult to explain: Trump’s numbers weren’t improving. He just made it up.

    As the summer nears its end, conditions have grown worse for the troubled president. The latest Gallup poll, for example, shows Trump’s slipping from 44% to 39% since July.

    A CNN poll released this week also found the president’s support falling below the 40% threshold, slipping from 43% to 39% since June. The same report found that 60% of Americans do not believe Trump deserves a second term, while 71% do not trust most of what they hear from the White House. […]

  218. says

    Rosamund Urwin, Sunday Times: What’s different about the new Yellowhammer document that the government has just published compared with the one I got hold of last month? The heading.
    What did the version I had say? BASE SCENARIO
    Now what does the new one say? HMG Reasonable Worst Case Planning Assumptions

    Q: Was the version you had redacted?

    RU: No

  219. says

    Followup to SC @251, and to a_ray @256 and SC @ 332.

    Sounds so Trumpian: Falwell Claims Criminal Conspiracy

    It sounds like Jerry Falwell Jr. may be taking legal advice from lawyers who went to Liberty University.

    From CNN …

    The FBI declined to comment when asked about Falwell’s concerns.

    Falwell, son of the university’s founder, also says he is considering filing a civil suit against “6 to 8” unnamed former employees and board members, accusing them of breaking confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements they had signed with Liberty.

    “The emails are stolen property,” Falwell told CNN on Tuesday, “and the fact that all these people in different states are joining together and sharing stolen emails with the press makes it a criminal conspiracy.”

    Note the reference to non-disclosure agreements — part and parcel of the plutocracy age. Obviously NDAs are civil rather than criminal. So while it’s conceivable he could get a judgment against these Deep University operators, criminal conspiracy seems like a joke.

    This will likely end as well as as the photoshopping claims did.

  220. says

    Oh, FFS. Now Trump administration officials are separating Bahamian children from their families.

    A Bahamian child is currently being detained in a Florida facility after immigration officials separated her from her family, who had sought refuge from the devastation of Hurricane Dorian.

    The Miami Herald reported on Tuesday that after 12-year-old Kaytora Paul arrived at West Palm Beach with her godmother this weekend, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents separated the two and refused to let the girl’s aunt pick her up at the airport because neither of the women were her mother.

    Then the agents sent her to His House Children’s Home, an HHS-run migrant detention center in Miami for unaccompanied minors, where she currently remains in custody.

    The girl’s mother, Katty Paul, told the Herald that finding out about her daughter’s detention was when she “really lost everything.”

    “I thought losing my house was devastating. Or having to relocate to a different island or country was devastating,” said Paul, who arrived in the U.S. several days after her daughter. “But when I found out that they got her, my baby, I mean, there are no words.”

    In order to get her daughter back, Paul has to go through the lengthy process of providing documented proof of their relationship — and she said she only has until September 26 to do it before she’s required to leave the country. […]


  221. says

    Trump adds to his record of problematic 9/11 claims.

    I was looking out of a window from a building in Midtown Manhattan, directly at the World Trade Center, when I saw a second plane, at a tremendous speed, go into the second tower. It was then that I realized the world was going to change. I was no longer going to be – and it could never, ever be – that innocent place that I thought it was.

    Soon after, I went down to Ground Zero with men who worked for me to try to help in any little way that we could.

    Trump Tower is four miles from Ground Zero.

    There is no evidence to support Trump’s claims.

  222. says

    Trump is, as expected, going after John Bolton:

    I don’t blame Kim Jong-un for what he said after that. He wanted nothing to do with John Bolton.

    And there’s more:

    “John is somebody that I actually get along with very well. He made some very big mistakes,” Trump said, repeatedly referencing Bolton’s invocation of a “Libya model” for North Korean denuclearization in April 2018.

    “It set us back, and frankly, he wanted to do things not necessarily tougher than me,” Trump said. “You know, John’s known as a tough guy. He’s so tough, he got us into Iraq. That’s tough.”

    You know, John wasn’t in line with what we were doing, and actually, in some cases, he thought it was too tough what we were doing,” Trump said. “‘Mr. Tough Guy.’ You know, ‘You have to go into Iraq.’ Going into Iraq was something that he felt very strongly about.

    “I told him, ‘John, you have too many people — you’re not getting along with people, and a lot of us, including me, disagree with some of your tactics and some of your ideas. And I wish you well, but I’d like you to submit your resignation.”

  223. says

    A new Trump administration proposal could put asylum seekers out of a job

    Delaying work permits for asylum seekers would force them into the shadow economy.

    The Trump administration wants to impose yet another hurdle on asylum seekers: making it much more difficult for them to get work permits during the months or years it takes for their claims to make their way through court.

    Getting asylum in the US is a lengthy process. As of June, migrants with active immigration cases have been waiting an average of almost two years for a decision, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

    For now, people seeking asylum in the US become eligible for work permits 150 days after filing their asylum applications, and US Citizenship and Immigration Services has 30 days to process those permits.

    A rule the Trump administration proposed Friday would end that 30-day deadline, keeping asylum seekers out of a job or forcing them to work illegally by indefinitely delaying their visas. For asylum seekers who cannot afford to be unemployed and are not eligible for most public benefits, that means they would need to either give up their asylum claims in the US altogether or find under-the-table jobs in the shadow economy.

    The rule is one of many recent policy changes that, taken together, have made obtaining asylum in the US incredibly difficult and made life harder for migrants who are trying to claim it. […]

    It looks like Trump is looking for more ways to force asylum seekers to break the law, after which he can deport them for breaking the law.

    This is a short-sighted and stupid move.

  224. says

    Followup to comment 353.

    From Wonkette:

    […] The family of 12-year-old Kaytora Paul barely survived the hurricane, her mother, Katty Paul, told the Herald.

    “We were in our house when the roof collapsed. The floodwaters kept rising. We spent six days in our Dodge sleeping with the windshield broken, getting wet in the rain,” she said.

    When they were finally rescued, there wasn’t enough room for the family to all stay together in a single shelter. So Katty stayed with her two youngest, her husband went to stay with their adult son, and Kaytora’s aunt and godmother took her to Florida.

    The Paul family’s mistake is obvious to anyone who has spent any time looking at the Trump administration’s war on refugees: They must have assumed US immigration officials would treat them like people who had survived a disaster. Instead, they were treated as likely child traffickers, because a godmother and an aunt are not parents, so Kaytora HAD TO be taken away and placed in a shelter.

    […] Because she’s 12, Kaytora was sent for storage at “His House Children’s Home,” in Miami Gardens, a baby jail run by a religious nonprofit. Had she been 13, the Herald notes, she would have been sent to the awful shelter for 13- to 17-year-olds in Homestead, or wherever the government sent older kids while Homestead was closed during the hurricane. […]

    Now, even though Katty Paul has made it to the US with documentation that she’s Kaytora’s mom, she can’t get the girl released from the shelter, because the rules say you can only release an unaccompanied alien child to a sponsor, and sponsors have to be vetted.

    Paul was told she had to go through the process of applying to be her daughter’s sponsor with HHS. In order to get custody of her daughter, Paul would have to collect documentation that would prove she’s her mother — like a birth certificate, government identification as well as proof of address. In the past, this process has taken anywhere from weeks to months.

    To make matters more challenging, Paul says U.S. officials told her that she can only stay in the U.S. until Sept. 26. […]

    “I don’t even want to think about what that will look like — if I have to leave here before being able to claim my own daughter,” she said. “You should hear her voice. She’s out of it. Crying, depressed. She wants her family but we can’t do anything.” […]

    Attention, people of the world who experience a disaster: The US is broken. We’re working on fixing it, but for the time being, you’ll want to treat us like you would a badly frayed rescue rope, a broken fire escape, or a Ford airbag made by Takata. Not a reliable choice for safety, and may cause more injury than the original disaster. Choose an alternate escape route if you can. […]

    Photo of Kaytora Paul at the link.

  225. says

    Tucker Carlson is trying to help Trump diss John Bolton by saying that Bolton is “a man of the left.” Oh, geez, very funny. Wait, you’re serious?

    John Bolton has a long history in Washington. He held various appointments at the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Justice Department and the State Department in the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush. He advised the 2012 presidential campaign of Mitt Romney. He did a stint as senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. He commentated for Fox News. He worked as national security adviser for 17 months under President Trump, until Tuesday.

    A more conservative CV would be difficult to configure.

    Yet! On his Fox News shot on Tuesday night, Tucker Carlson claimed that Bolton “fundamentally was a man of the left. There was not a human problem John Bolton wasn’t totally convinced could be solved with the brute force of government. That’s an assumption of the left, not the right. Don’t let the mustache fool you. John Bolton was one of the most progressive people in the Trump administration. And by the way, naturally, once he was ensconced there, Bolton promoted Obama loyalists within the National Security Council — that shouldn’t surprise you, either.” […]

    Ethical violations at Fox News, of course, are forever competing for a spot at the bottom of the barrel. What’s worse, after all — advising the president on stories you then pretend to cover without favor, or deceiving folks into believing that Bolton is a progressive? Carlson got it right in a June comment that he replayed Tuesday night: “In between administration jobs are always cushy think-tank posts, paid speaking gigs, cable news contracts. War maybe a disaster for America, but for John Bolton and his fellow neocons, it is always good business,” said Carlson.

    Washington Post link

  226. says

    I was looking at books at Goodwill and came across one by Dinesh D’Souza from 2010 called – I’m not joking – The Roots of Obama’s Rage. Obama’s. Rage. These people are off their nuts.

  227. says

    More re #351 – Rosamund Urwin:

    So lots of people asking what the redacted part is… Here goes:

    “15. Facing EU tariffs makes petrol exports to the EU uncompetitive. Industry had plans to mitigate the impact on refinery margins and profitability but UK Government policy to set petrol import tariffs at 0% inadvertently undermines these plans.”

    “This leads to significant financial losses and announcement of two refinery closures (and transition to import terminals) and direct job losses (about 2000).

    Resulting strike action at refineries would lead to disruptions to fuel availability for 1-2 weeks in the regions directly supplied by the refineries.”

    This is what some were speculating on Twitter. So that means…the base-case document didn’t even have a section on Northern Ireland?

  228. tomh says

    The Trump SC, the legal arm of the GOP, marches on.

    Supreme Court says Trump administration can begin denying migrants’ asylum while legal fight continues

    September 11 at 7:20 PM

    The Trump administration can begin denying asylum requests from migrants at the southern border who have traveled through Mexico or another country without seeking protection there, after the Supreme Court lifted a lower court’s block on the new restriction.

    The justices put on hold a lower court’s ruling that the administration’s rule change could not be enforced pending additional legal action because it likely ran afoul of administrative law requirements.

    President Trump’s policy is a dramatic change in the way the United States treats those seeking asylum, and is one of the administration’s most significant efforts to deter migrants at the southern border. It is one of multiple tools federal immigration officials have deployed to prevent families and other asylum seekers from entering the United States.

    Only Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg noted their disapproval of the court’s action, doing so in a strongly worded dissent.

    “Once again the Executive Branch has issued a rule that seeks to upend long-standing practices regarding refugees who seek shelter from persecution,” wrote Sotomayor.

    “Although this Nation has long kept its doors open to refugees — and although the stakes for asylum seekers could not be higher — the Government implemented its rule without first providing the public notice and inviting the public input generally required by law.”

    As is common, the court’s majority did not provide a reason for lifting the injunction issued by a lower court. The issue is likely to come back to the Supreme Court when the ongoing legal challenges have been completed in lower courts.

    American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Lee Gelernt stressed that those cases continue. “This is just a temporary step, and we’re hopeful we’ll prevail at the end of the day,” he said in a statement. “The lives of thousands of families are at stake.”

    A record number of Central American families have sought asylum during the past year, and most have been released to await court hearings, thwarting Trump’s efforts to curb a new wave of migrants. The Justice Department says more than 436,000 pending cases include an asylum application.

    The Trump administration announced the change in July, and four immigrant-rights groups quickly challenged it. A federal district judge in California ruled that the law was probably invalid because it is inconsistent with federal law. He also said it violated the Administrative Procedures Act, and issued a nationwide injunction.

    A panel of the 9th Circuit said the judge went too far. The policy probably violated the APA, it said, but the injunction should be limited to states within the 9th’s Circuit jurisdiction. That meant the rule change could not be implemented along the California and Arizona borders. The other southern border states, New Mexico and Texas, are in different circuits. A U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter, said the new rule is being applied in those border areas.

    But U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar on Monday reinstated the nationwide injunction, saying it was the only way to provide the organizations the relief he said they deserved, and to keep the nation’s asylum law uniform.

    Even before Tigar’s latest ruling, Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco had asked the Supreme Court to allow the new rules to be implemented everywhere while the legal battle continued.

    Congress gives the departments of Justice and Homeland Security authority to impose additional restrictions on asylum seekers beyond those in federal law, Francisco argued. He said the new requirement “alleviates a crushing burden on the U.S. asylum system by prioritizing asylum seekers who most need asylum in the United States.”

    “In turn, the rule deters aliens without a genuine need for asylum from making the arduous and potentially dangerous journey from Central America to the United States,” he added.

    The immigrant-rights groups were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union. They called the changes a “blatant end-run around Congress” and a “tectonic change to U.S. asylum law” that should not be allowed without a full briefing on its merits.

    “Allowing the ban to go into effect would not only upend four decades of unbroken practice, it would place countless people, including families and unaccompanied children, at grave risk,” Gelernt wrote. The administration’s claim of a crisis at the border “cannot justify ignoring the laws Congress passed.”

    Since 1980, the United States has said those who say they are fleeing persecution and violence in their home countries have the right to at least apply for asylum. The current case was the Trump administration’s second attempt to change that guarantee.

    In December, the court on a 5-to-4 vote refused to lift a stay on Trump’s first attempt. It would have denied asylum requests from anyone who entered the country at any place other than an authorized “port of entry.”

    A different panel of the 9th Circuit said that change was clearly at odds with federal law. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined the court’s four liberals in keeping the stay in place while the legal battle continued.
    The administration has not yet filed a petition with the Supreme Court to ask it to review the merits of that case.
    The new case is Barr v. East Bay Sanctuary Covenant.

  229. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian British-politics liveblog.

    From there:

    It is 2-1 to the government in the courts now on the legality of proroguing parliament. As my colleague Owen Bowcott reports, judges in Belfast have said the prorogation was lawful, backing up the view of the high court in London, but contradicting the judgment of the court of session in Edinburgh.

    The supreme court will come to a final, binding ruling after a hearing starting on Tuesday next week.

    David Sassoli, the new president of the European parliament, has been holding a press conference. He said that any Brexit agreement would have to have a backstop, that the UK had not yet proposed any credible alternative, and that the European parliament would be open to a Brexit delay if the UK was going to hold an election.

  230. says

    Guardian – “Russian police carry out mass raids against opposition activists”:

    Russian law enforcement authorities have carried out mass raids on the homes and offices of supporters of the Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

    Searches took place in 39 towns and cities on Thursday, four days after the ruling United Russia party, which supports President Vladimir Putin, lost a third of its seats in the Moscow city assembly while retaining its dominant position nationwide.

    Navalny had urged his supporters to vote tactically in last weekend’s local and regional elections to try to reduce the chances of Kremlin-backed candidates winning seats, a strategy that appears to have had some success in the capital.

    “Putin is very angry,” Navalny wrote on social media after the raids. “This is a case where the actions of the police are no different from those of burglars.”

    Authorities told activists that the searches were related to a money-laundering investigation into Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, an organisation that has published embarrassing investigations into what it says is the wrongdoing of corrupt officials.

    State investigators last month opened a criminal investigation into the alleged laundering of 1bn roubles (£12.2bn) by the foundation itself. It also froze a slew of bank accounts linked to the foundation, a move Navalny’s allies said was a trumped-up attempt to cripple his political movement.

    Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokeswoman, said on Thursday that the scale and nature of the latest raids were unprecedented….

  231. says

    Hahahaha – “Pro-Putin rapper sets record for unpopularity on Russian YouTube”:

    A Russian rapper who describes himself as Vladimir Putin’s best friend has pulled his latest pro-Kremlin music video from YouTube after it set a new record for online unpopularity.

    The track, entitled Moscow, was released by Timati on the eve of Sunday’s city council elections in the Russian capital.

    It contained lyrics praising the city’s Kremlin-installed mayor, Sergei Sobyanin, as well as criticising protests that rocked Moscow this summer after opposition candidates were barred from the city council polls.

    “I don’t go on protests and I don’t talk shit,” went the lyrics to the song. It also contained a line hailing Moscow as “the city where they don’t hold gay parades”. He also rapped about “wolfing down a burger to the health of Sobyanin”.

    The music video, which featured sweeping images of Moscow’s best-known landmarks, recorded the highest number of dislikes – 1.48m – for a single video on Russian YouTube. It also entered the top 30 most disliked music videos worldwide. It had 85,000 “likes”.

    Timati denied allegations that he had been paid by the government to record the track. He said he had pulled it from YouTube to stop “the wave of negativity”….

    Hahahaha – #bradyoucouldtweet

  232. says

    Politico – “Israel accused of planting mysterious spy devices near the White House”:

    The U.S. government concluded within the last two years that Israel was most likely behind the placement of cell-phone surveillance devices that were found near the White House and other sensitive locations around Washington, D.C., according to three former senior U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter.

    But unlike most other occasions when flagrant incidents of foreign spying have been discovered on American soil, the Trump administration did not rebuke the Israeli government, and there were no consequences for Israel’s behavior, one of the former officials said.

    The miniature surveillance devices, colloquially known as “StingRays,” mimic regular cell towers to fool cell phones into giving them their locations and identity information. Formally called international mobile subscriber identity-catchers or IMSI-catchers, they also can capture the contents of calls and data use.

    The devices were likely intended to spy on President Donald Trump, one of the former officials said, as well as his top aides and closest associates — though it’s not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful.

    President Trump is reputed to be lax in observing White House security protocols….

  233. says

    ESPN – “Alaska swimmer the latest athlete to be subject to sexism”:

    I’m so tired of being reminded, in ways both subtle and overt, that many view the bodies of women and girls first and foremost as sexualized things. That young girls must worry more about how their bare legs affect the boys and men around them than how those legs are working to make them great. That young women must be conscious of the fact that their bodies, even in places as clearly nonsexual as a sporting competition, might be evocative or arousing.

    It’s happened again, this time to a young, fantastic swimmer in Alaska. A 17-year-old state champion for Dimond High School in Anchorage had her winning heat time erased on Friday because she was disqualified for the way her swimsuit fit. A meet referee deemed the suit a violation of the National Federation of State High School Associations’ modesty regulations, despite the fact that the suit was team-issued, none of the other swimmers wearing it was penalized and the swimmer in question had worn it without an issue at three prior meets.

    One of the other officials working the meet, Annette Rohde, told the Anchorage Daily News that she was uncomfortable with her colleague’s decision: “I told her,” said Rohde, “‘I need to know how you’re defining this, because this is going to blow up.'”

    Rohde was right. A blog post about the incident, written by Lauren Langford, the coach of another team in the district, went viral. Langford believes the young swimmer was singled out because of her race and her body, not her suit.

    “All of these girls are all wearing suits that are cut the same way,” Langford told The Washington Post. “And the only girl who gets disqualified is a mixed-race girl with rounder, curvier features.”

    According to NBC affiliate KTUU, the same official approached the swimmer’s younger sister last school year to complain about the fit of her suit, and Langford said other parents have told the girls’ mother that her three daughters, all talented swimmers, “need to cover up for the sake of their sons.”

    “These young swimmers aren’t being punished for wearing their suits in scandalous or provocative ways,” Langford wrote on Medium. “But rather because their ample hips, full chests, and dark complexions look different than their willowy, thin, and mostly pallid teammates.” [“pallid” is…not the best word choice – SC]

    Langford also revealed that the parent of another swimmer had previously taken photos of the disqualified swimmer’s backside in her suit and emailed them out to other parents “as evidence her attire is immoral.”

    Imagine the embarrassment, confusion, anger and disgust this girl must feel, knowing that these adults are documenting her. Knowing that these adults see her as a distraction, a temptation, not the right shape or size, as “other.” And it’s the adults who are the problem here, make no mistake of it. The people around this young woman, whether influenced by prudishness, racism or misogyny, are the problem, not the girl’s swimsuit or her body.

    Thankfully, her win has been reinstated. On Tuesday, the Anchorage School District filed a formal appeal claiming the disqualification was “heavy-handed and unnecessary” and that the swimmer “was targeted based solely on how a standard, school-issued uniform happened to fit the shape of her body.” Later Tuesday, the Alaska School Activities Association sided with the school and overturned the disqualification.

    The ruling is the right one, but it shouldn’t have been necessary. Girls shouldn’t be paying the emotional price for the mistakes of the adults around them. And who’s to say whether the win would have been reinstated were it not for the outcry from Langford, reporters and on social media. What happens next time, when there isn’t an opposing coach willing to stand up for what’s right?

    There are endless tales of girls being sent home from school because of sexist and subjective dress code violations. Countless stories of women being harassed, punished or criticized for their work attire, whether while reporting on television or working in the House of Representatives. And of course in the sports world, this young swimmer’s disqualification is just the most recent case of policing female athletes’ bodies.

    The fact that we’re still nitpicking the uniforms and objectifying the bodies of female athletes in 2019 is beyond disheartening. It’s a cruel reminder that many cannot — and will not — separate women and girls from their sexuality, no matter the circumstance.

    We are teaching our girls that their bodies are not their own and that their very shape might be shameful. The offending adults may believe they’re safeguarding boys or protecting girls, but they’re instead perpetuating the idea that the actions of boys can be blamed on girls not properly protecting or displaying virtue.

    We send damaging messages to our girls every time an official singles out a competitor for the shape of her body, every time a referee views an on-court uniform change as an act of exhibitionism instead of efficiency, and every time an administrator seeks to change the behavior of girls because of a potential distraction to boys. We limit the greatness of girls and women by pulling them away from their game, their work — hell, their walk down to the street — to gawk, ogle, judge and shame.

    This young swimmer is just beginning to understand the ways the world will steal her body from her and turn it into an object. I’m sad that we couldn’t change things in time to save her from fighting the same battles we had to fight. I’m sad for the tears she’ll shed and the time she’ll waste. The objectification and commodification of female bodies is nothing new, but it’s sure getting old.

  234. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 365

    The devices were likely intended to spy on President Donald Trump, one of the former officials said, as well as his top aides and closest associates — though it’s not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful.

    Wait, the Mossad wasted time, money, and effort planting a bug to monitor Trump when they just could have watch his Twitter feed?

  235. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 364

    A Russian rapper who describes himself as Vladimir Putin’s best friend has pulled his latest pro-Kremlin music video from YouTube after it set a new record for online unpopularity.

    Why do I suspect that Pro-fascist, Russian rap is just as bad as Christian attempts at rap?

  236. johnson catman says

    Re: SC @366: As I commented on a blogpost about Jana Duggar photoshopping an ugly skirt onto a girl wearing shorts in the background of her selfie so that the pic wouldn’t tempt her brothers: If the sight of women’s thighs drives them into a rapistic rage, the person wearing the shorts is not the one with the problem. Similarly, the people complaining about the swimsuit in this case are the ones with the problem, not the swimmer.

  237. says

    Vanita Gupta yesterday:

    Appalling: With 6 more confirmations in the past two hours, Trump now has 150+ LIFETIME federal judges.

    Many have disturbing civil rights records. Dozens wouldn’t affirm #BrownvBoard. They’re overwhelmingly white & male.

    Decades of progress are at stake. We must keep fighting.

  238. says

    Haaretz – “Facebook Sanctions Likud After Netanyahu Warns ‘Arabs Want to Annihilate Us'”:

    Facebook announced on Thursday that it has suspended Likud’s access to automatic messaging for 24 hours.

    The move comes after messages were sent from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official Facebook account which stated that “Arabs want to annihilate us all – women, children and men.”

    Facebook said it took the action after determining that the content violated its policy on hate speech. It said further violations would be met by additional appropriate action.

    Although Netanyahu distanced himself from the overtly anti-Arab messaging seen on Facebook, on Thursday he also published an image on his official Instagram page that warned of a Palestinian takeover. The image featured a Palestinian flag projected on one of the skyscrapers that houses Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Mall. The image included the caption: “If you don’t go out and vote – this is how it will end…” Along with the image, Netanyahu posted a message urging people to vote Likud.

  239. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 366



    According to NBC affiliate KTUU, the same official approached the swimmer’s younger sister last school year to complain about the fit of her suit, and Langford said other parents have told the girls’ mother that her three daughters, all talented swimmers, “need to cover up for the sake of their sons.”

    (Deadpan) Oh no. My sons might be aroused by what they see, pop a boner, and think about having sex. They might even…. MASTURBATE before they go to sleep tonight. This is a catastrophe.

  240. says

    I’m fed up with the cable news coverage of developments like the decision reported @ tomh’s #361. Almost every one refers to it as a “win” for Trump. How about a loss for humanity, for decency, for human rights, for desperate people fleeing persecution and violence, for the US which has benefited so much from immigrants and refugees,…? They don’t generally report on similar developments in foreign countries in this way: “Major win for Putin as legislature passes anti-gay laws,” “Victory for Orbán as CEU forced out of Hungary.” It’s callous, partial, and plays into the hands of hateful power-grabbers like Trump.

  241. says

    BREAKING: House Judiciary Committee approves resolution spelling out the parameters for its impeachment investigation into President Trump.

    All Democrats voted aye; all Republicans voted no.”

    Nancy Pelosi will be doing a press conference shortly.

    Also, tonight is the third Democratic presidential debate.

    NBC – “September Democratic debate: Everything you need to know”:

    The 10 leading Democratic presidential candidates will take the stage in Houston on Thursday for the party’s third 2020 presidential primary debate.

    Unlike the prior debates, this one will feature all the highest-polling candidates — including former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, California Sen. Kamala Harris and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — on stage at the same time.

    The debate is being held at Texas Southern University on Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET and will be co-hosted by ABC and Univision. Viewers should stock up on provisions — it’s slated to run for three hours.

    ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, “World News Tonight” anchor David Muir, network correspondent Linsey Davis and Univision’s Jorge Ramos will be the moderators.

    The 10 candidates who qualified by having both 130,000 individual donors and reaching at least 2 percent in four qualifying polls are Biden, Sanders, Warren, Harris, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, former Housing Secretary Julián Castro, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.

    Where the candidates stand on stage was determined by polling averages based on the last 10 polls certified for qualification by the Democratic National Committee. The candidates with the highest polling averages — Biden and Warren — will be center stage. The overall order from left to right is Klobuchar, Booker, Buttigieg, Sanders, Biden, Warren, Harris, Yang, O’Rourke and Castro….

  242. says

    Adelson quoted here as saying that he spends $40-50 million a year on the Bibi-supporting freesheet Yisrael Hayom. That’s half a billion dollars since 2007. Hard not to see this as a massive breach of Israel’s quite strict limits on political donations.

    In 2015, Supreme Court Justice Joubran (then head of the central election commission) ruled there was insufficient evidence of a link to Netanyahu for him to define Yisrael Hayom as an “illegal propaganda platform.” Looks like Adelson may have now provided the evidence himself.”

    Link to article at the first link.

    …[Hollywood producer Arnon] Milchan then said that Sheldon Adelson responded to the verbal assault by saying: “Calm down, we’re doing the best we can. I lose 40-50 million dollars a year [on Israel Hayom] … We regularly write in your favor and you keep shouting at me.”

    According to Milchan’s [police] testimony, as cited by Channel 13, Sara Netanyahu continued screaming and then spoke badly of another one of her associates: U.S. businessman Ron Lauder, the former owner of Channel 10 News. “Ronald [Lauder] is not a friend, he is a traitor and evil and doing nothing in the channel for us.”…

  243. tomh says

    Trump Administration to Finalize Rollback of Clean Water Protections

    Sept. 12, 2019 Updated 10:46 a.m. ET

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Thursday is expected to complete the legal repeal of a major Obama-era clean water regulation, which had placed limits on polluting chemicals that could be used near streams, wetlands and water bodies.

    The rollback of the 2015 measure, known as the Waters of the United States rule, has been widely expected since the early days of the Trump administration, when President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to begin the work of repealing and replacing it.

    Weakening the Obama-era water rule had been a central campaign pledge for Mr. Trump, who characterized it as a federal land-grab that impinged on the rights of farmers, rural landowners and real estate developers to use their property as they see fit.

    Environmentalists say Mr. Trump’s push to loosen clean-water regulations represents an assault on the nation’s streams and wetlands at a moment when Mr. Trump has repeatedly declared his commitment to “crystal-clean water.”

    The repeal of the water rule, which is scheduled to be announced Thursday afternoon at the headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers, will take effect in a matter of weeks. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, which had worked together to write the original Obama rule, are expected to issue a new, looser replacement rule by the end of this year.

    The rollback is the latest in a series of actions by the Trump administration to weaken or undo major environmental rules. Others include proposals to loosen regulations on planet-warming emissions from cars, power plants and oil and gas drilling rigs; moves designed to push new drilling in the vast Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; and efforts to weaken Endangered Species Act protections.

  244. says

    The Guardian on #372 – “Facebook penalises Netanyahu page over hate speech violation”:

    Facebook has suspended a chatbot on Benjamin Netanyahu’s official page after it breached hate speech policy by sending visitors a message warning of Arabs who “want to destroy us all”.

    Battling a tight election race in the run-up to the 17 September polls, the Israeli prime minister has sought to appeal to far-right religious and nationalist voters who fear the political influence of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

    Facebook said on Thursday it had suspended the automated chat function on the page, which is run by Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party, for 24 hours.

    “After careful review of the Likud campaign’s bot activities, we found a violation of our hate speech policy,” Facebook said in a statement. “Should there be any additional violations, we will continue to take appropriate action.”

    In its now-deleted message automatically sent to visitors when they arrived on the page, the bot promised the prime minister would pursue “a rightwing policy of a Jewish state, security, and a strong Israel”.

    It warned that any opposition coalition that included Arab politicians would be “a secular leftwing weak government that relies on Arabs who want to destroy us all – women, children and men”.

    …In 2015 on election day he warned that Arab Israeli voters were coming out “in droves”, a comment for which he later apologised. This year he went further, stating that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens … Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people – and only it”.

    In this election, which was called after the prime minister failed to form a government in May, Netanyahu has made more concessions to hardliners. On Tuesday he announced he would annex large swaths of the occupied Palestinian territories if he was re-elected, a move that for decades has been considered an endgame scenario for Palestinians’ aspirations of statehood.

    Last week he pushed for last-minute legislation that would allow party officials to bring cameras into polling stations. Critics said it was a clear attempt to intimidate Israel’s Arab population into not voting, as many may not want their political preference known. In the April election, Netanyahu’s party was censured for smuggling cameras into Arab polling centre.

    Netanyahu insisted he was only interested in preventing voter fraud. However, the bill allowing parties to place cameras in polling stations failed to pass in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.

    Substitute Jew for Arab and German/Germany for Jewish/Israel and you have Nazi propaganda.

  245. says

    From the readers comments below the tweet to which SC linked in comment 371:

    “those Democrats are going to FEED THE HUNGRY and HEAL THE SICK and we Republicans WON’T STAND FOR IT”

    If they [Republicans] really don’t want her, they should consider a stop to these free campaign ads they are running for her.

    The Workforce??? For shame, pay the workers, what a crazy idea

    Pay the workers? Funds to community wellbeing? Where do I sign up?

  246. says

    BREAKING: Have confirmed that federal prosecutors have recommended that Andrew McCabe be indicted, as first reported by @USATODAY. Story to come.”

    This is terrible for McCabe, terrible for the DoJ – a wrongful and politically driven prosecution which will cause McCabe and his family stress and fear. It’s shameful and shouldn’t be happening. But I’m optimistic that it will backfire on them in the end.

  247. says

    From the G liveblog (link @ #362):

    Judges accuse Johnson of misleading voters and the Queen

    The three Scottish appeal judges who ruled Boris Johnson had unlawfully prorogued parliament have bluntly accused the prime minister of misleading voters and the Queen on his true reasons for suspending parliament.

    They agree unanimously it was to prevent proper scrutiny of his Brexit strategy – and for no other reason – in their official rulings issued by the Scottish courts late on Thursday afternoon.

    Read the judges’ opinion in full here (pdf).

    Lord Carloway, the Lord President, said prorogation was sought “in a clandestine manner” when Downing Street knew 75 MPs and peers were taking the government to court to block it.

    No 10 also did this knowing prorogation would stymie debate about Johnson’s Brexit plans and then gave the court no clear reason to justify prorogation, as well as the five-week period Johnson got from the Queen, which they described as an “extraordinary length of time”. Carloway said:

    The circumstances demonstrate that the true reason for the prorogation is to reduce the time available for parliamentary scrutiny of Brexit at a time when such scrutiny would appear to be a matter of considerable importance, given the issues at stake.

    [Put] shortly, prorogation was being mooted specifically as a means to stymie any further legislation regulating Brexit.

    Lord Drummond Young is particularly blunt, arguing that the UK government’s failure to provide the Scottish court with any valid reasons for proroguing Westminster for five weeks supported their conclusions it was unjustified.

    If no reason is given, in the present circumstances, I am of opinion that the decision to prorogue parliament for five weeks out of the seven remaining before the United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union leads inevitably to the conclusion that the reason for prorogation was to prevent parliamentary scrutiny of the government. I find it impossible to see that it could serve any other rational purpose.

    Lord Brodie, the third judge, said that, despite the weight courts need to give to the royal prerogative and a government’s right to use procedures to suit its purposes, this was an “egregious” case of misuse of prorogation.

    Procedural manoeuvres are the stuff of politics, whether conducted in parliament or in lesser bodies. However, when the manoeuvre is quite so blatantly designed ‘to frustrate parliament’ at such a critical juncture in the history of the United Kingdom, I consider that the court may legitimately find it to be unlawful.

    Also, a correction to part of #362: “I’ve corrected the earlier post on this (see 11.38am) because it said the prorogation legal challenge was thrown out. In fact, it was the argument that a no-deal Brexit would undermine the Good Friday agreement that was rejected. A claim about prorogation being unlawful was excluded on the grounds that it is being decided in the cases in England and Wales.”

  248. says

    More re #s 380 and 383: “The disclosure comes as a federal grand jury investigating McCabe was suddenly recalled this week after a months-long hiatus — but the panel left with no immediate signs of an indictment — a sign they might have balked, or otherwise required prosecutors to regroup.”

  249. says

    And more re the DoJ propaganda:

    The rejection of Mr. McCabe’s appeal would typically foreshadow an impending indictment, but that has apparently not yet happened.

    The grand jury hearing the case was recalled this week after going months without meeting but left without revealing any public signs of an indictment, The Washington Post reported.

    If a grand jury declined to indict — an embarrassment for prosecutors — they could ask for a different grand jury to present evidence and try to secure an indictment.

    One prosecutor assigned to the case recently left, an unusual step so close to an indictment. Another departed for a private law firm and has expressed reservations about the merits of the case.

    And one key witness testified that Mr. McCabe had no motive to lie because he was authorized as the F.B.I.’s deputy director to speak to the media, so he would not have had to hide any discussions with reporters.

    Another important witness testified he could not immediately remember how the leak unfolded. Both would have been crucial to any prosecution.

    So far the show trial is a flop.

  250. says

    Trump: “In fact, my views on Venezuela, and especially Cuba, were far stronger than those of John Bolton. He was holding me back!”

    Tommy Vietor: “Bolton wanted to send 5000 US troops to Colombia in support of a coup in Venezuela. So Trump is in favor of what? Invasion?”

    Um…yes? (Former Obama aides should STFU about Venezuela in any case.)

  251. says

    SC @383, agreed. Rosen is following William Barr’s directions, and Barr is doing what Trump wants. This is not justice. It’s petty revenge on the part of Trump.

  252. tomh says

    It’s a pretty long column, and maybe not so much interest to a lot of people so I won’t quote it, but for anyone interested in US church/state issues, Linda Greenhouse has an opinion piece in the NYT titled, Religious Crusaders at the Supreme Court’s Gates. With hot-button issues on immingration and other issues, some cases fly under the radar, but with the addition of Gorsuch and Kavanaugh this became a religion-friendly court, and in the aftermath of the Bladensburg Cross decision, this term they’ll consider cases concerning channeling public money to religious schools, discrimination in employment, and several others. Bottom line, accordigng to Greenhouse:

    By the end of the court’s new term, nine months from now, the shadow cast by the 40-foot cross in Bladensburg that loomed so large not so long ago may disappear into the new church-state landscape now emerging before our eyes.

  253. says

    RFERL – “Trump Administration Releases $250 Million In Military Aid To Ukraine”:

    The Trump administration has released $250 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine — funds that it had held up despite criticism that the money was desperately needed to counter Russian aggression and territorial expansion.

    The announcement of the aid disbursement came ahead of a Senate Appropriations panel debate on September 12 in which lawmakers from both parties were expected to criticize Trump for holding back the funds, which Congress already had approved.

    Lawmakers have credited legislation threatened by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin with forcing Trump to hand over the military aid.

    Several Republican senators, including Trump ally Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said they would have voted with Democrats.

    Senator John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, said: “We support Ukraine. Period. End of discussion.”…

  254. says

    Trump’s really big failure(s) when it comes to Iran policy were discussed by Steve Benen:

    Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke at a media briefing this week and argued that he, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Donald Trump are “completely aligned on our ‘maximum pressure’ campaign” against Iran. Mnuchin added that the policy is “absolutely working.”

    The policy is absolutely not working. After the president walked away from the international nuclear agreement with Iran, the foreign adversary has become more dangerous, not less, As the Associated Press reported this week, “The United Nations’ atomic watchdog confirmed Monday that Iran is preparing to use more advanced centrifuges, another breach of limits set in the country’s slowly unraveling nuclear deal with major powers.” […]

    [Trump] hopes to do what Barack Obama already did several years ago, striking a deal that Trump rejected.

    Yesterday, as the New York Times reported, Trump sent an entirely different kind of signal.

    […]] Trump appeared to take a step back from his administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran on Wednesday, leaving open the possibility of easing economic sanctions before starting new nuclear negotiations with Tehran.

    Although he also warned Iran against restarting production of the material necessary to make a nuclear bomb — as the clerical government in Tehran has threatened — Mr. Trump made clear he was ready for diplomatic talks.

    […] Meanwhile, France has explored a $15 billion package that would effectively buy Iran’s compliance with the international nuclear agreement […] Trump “has left the impression with foreign officials, members of his administration, and others involved in Iranian negotiations that he is actively considering” the French plan.

    So much for “maximum pressure!”

    […] As Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) noted via Twitter, “So Trump is going to give Iran $15 billion to come back into compliance with the agreement he tore up because it was the worst deal he had ever seen? My head hurts.”

    […] The United States’ position started with sanctions, which forced Iran to the negotiating table. That led to a deal: Iran received economic relief; the United States and our partners received on-the-ground inspections and a curtailed nuclear threat.

    Trump trashed that deal.

    […] Josh Barro added, “I don’t understand the point of withdrawing from the Iran deal and sanctioning Iran but then giving Iran financial aid to offset the effects of the sanctions in order to induce them to stay in the deal.”

    Well, sure, when one puts it that way, it seems as if Trump’s entire policy is an incoherent joke.


  255. says

    What Trump said:

    I haven’t even started campaigning yet.

    Well that’s a trumpian whopper of a lie.

    […] The idea that the president hasn’t started campaigning yet is bizarre. As we discussed several months ago, Trump’s focus on the 2020 election has been a constant of his presidency, including his decision to file a re-election letter with the Federal Election Commission on Jan. 20, 2017 — literally the first day of his term.

    [Trump] also began fundraising for the 2020 cycle before he was even sworn in, “pulling in tens of millions of dollars in the months after his election and through his inauguration.”

    There’s no modern precedent for such an aggressive fundraising schedule, but Trump did it anyway. […] according to the Federal Election Commission, as of this morning, Trump’s re-election campaign has already spent more than $75 million. For context, note that this total is more than Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg have spent combined. […]

    He also kept open his 2016 campaign office’s headquarters, hired staff to work on his 2020 bid in early 2017, and headlined a swing-state campaign rally in February 2017 – not quite one month into his presidency, and 44 months before Election Day 2020. He returned to Florida in June 2019 to officially kickoff the re-election bid that’s been ongoing for years.

    The Wall Street Journal noted at the time, “When seeking re-election, past modern presidents have taken their time to shift into politics, believing that campaigning can diminish the power of the White House. […].”


  256. says

    Trump’s “my African-American” has left the Republican Party.

    Gregory Cheadle briefly rose to fame in 2016 when […] Trump infamously singled him out as “my African-American” at a campaign rally in an effort to prove he had support from the black community. […]

    PBS NewsHour reported on Thursday that Cheadle, who’s running for Congress in California’s 1st District, is leaving the Republican Party to run as an independent instead.

    Cheadle told PBS NewsHour that he became disillusioned by what he called the GOP’s “pro-white agenda,” and the party rallying around Trump after his marathon of racist attacks against Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) and “The Squad.”

    Though Cheadle wouldn’t call Trump “racist” outright, he did say the President has a “white superiority complex” that’s led him to nominate white men to the judicial bench almost exclusively.

    “To stay on this ship now, as a black Republican, I couldn’t do it,” he said.


  257. tomh says

    @ #393

    The NYC situation is interesting. Eighteen states, including NY, ban conversion therapy for minors, but the NYC statute was much broader. It prohibited consumers from being charged “for services intended to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity,” and created a $1,000 fine for each violation. This was challenged as a free speech issue, between an adult and their therapist, and with this Court, chance were slim. The fear was they would eliminate all such bans outright. So now NYC is governed by state law, banning CT on minors, and also from “coverage by insurers and Medicaid, or from being practiced by any state-licensed or operated mental health facility.”

    Whether the NYC strategy will work is anyone’s guess. They tried the same thing with their gun transport law, reversing it so it wouldn’t go to the SC, but the SC may take the gun case anyway.

  258. says

    Media Matters – “Sebastian Gorka and Michelle Malkin warn that ‘Soros-allied organizations’ are working toward ‘demographic conquest'”:

    SEBASTIAN GORKA (HOST): California, New Mexico, Hawaii, Texas and Nevada now have majority-minority populations, and here we go with the most important one — percentage of congressional districts with foreign-born populations above the national average, which went Democrat.

    Percentage of congressional districts with foreign-born populations above the national average, that went Democrat — 90 percent. Isn’t that what it’s about?

    Isn’t that why the Democrats don’t want to have, for example, voter I.D.? To bump that number up to 100?

    MICHELLE MALKIN: It’s what it’s all about, and you’re not allowed to say it.

    In fact, you have many of these Soros-subsidized or Soros-allied organizations that will immediately attack anyone who points to those numbers as somehow racist or xenophobic, or trafficking in what they call a conspiracy theory.

    Now, the irony of it is that you have all of these left-wing academics, and many of these open-borders inc propagandists that will use the same numbers — and if they’re in their own comfortable chambers, will cheerlead and beat their chests about it —

    GORKA: Celebrate it, right?

    MALKIN: And they call it “demographic conquest.”…

    The part about how “Soros-subsidized or Soros-allied organizations” are behind the people calling their insane ideas a conspiracy theory is pretty special.