Discuss: Political Madness All the Time


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

(Previous thread)

Comments

  1. says

    Politico – “Obama’s team lines up to defend Andrew McCabe in court”:

    A cavalcade of Obama-era national security leaders have committed to testify on behalf of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe should he face trial over allegations that he misled officials about leaks to the media.

    The lineup, detailed in a memo that McCabe’s legal team submitted to the Justice Department last month, includes past heads of the DOJ, CIA and the country’s entire intelligence apparatus. McCabe’s ex-boss, however — former FBI Director James Comey — has said he could be a witness against him, based on testimony Comey gave to an internal watchdog that appeared to contradict McCabe’s version of events.

    If McCabe ultimately does face charges, he’ll have some big names lined up as character witnesses. The high-ranking ex-officials who have committed to defending him include former Attorney General Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former national security adviser Susan Rice.

    Mary McCord, a career DOJ attorney who oversaw the government’s Russia probe as acting head of the DOJ’s National Security Division, and David Cohen, the No. 2 at the CIA from 2015 to 2017, are also lined up to speak on McCabe’s behalf.

    …McCabe’s lawyer Michael Bromwich sent a letter last Thursday to U.S. Attorney Jesse Liu — whose Washington, D.C., office has been handling the case — asking about “rumors” that the jurors had declined to prosecute McCabe over the alleged media leak.

    Bromwich argued that if that were the case, “the justice manual compels you not to resubmit the case to the same or a different grand jury.”

    It’s also still unclear what specific charges prosecutors have recommended be brought against McCabe….

  2. says

    SecDef Mark Esper: “The United States military, with our interagency team, is working with our partners to address this unprecedented attack and defend the international rules-based order that is being undermined by Iran.”

    Yes, their commitment to the international rules-based order is legendary.

  3. says

    From today’s Guardian Brexit liveblog:

    Boris Johnson is guilty of “dealing in fiction”, not in facts, the SNP’s Westminster leader claims. Ian Blackford challenged the prime minister to publish any serious proposals he had put forward in the attempt to secure a new Brexit deal.

    In barely 24 hours, Boris Johnson has gone from being the Incredible Hulk to the Incredible Sulk. It is a humiliating indictment of Boris Johnson’s leadership that he turned on his heel and scurried away rather than face questions today.

    The empty podium beside Luxembourg’s PM was a damning symbol of this Tory government’s incompetence and lack of vision when it comes to Brexit, which is their only policy. This is a government in headlong retreat and on its last legs.

    The meeting between Boris Johnson and EU President Juncker has confirmed that the UK government has failed to bring forward a single proposal to end the Brexit mess. Boris Johnson must stop dealing in fiction and start addressing the facts.

    Last month, Angela Merkel gave Boris Johnson 30 days to bring forward meaningful and workable plans. We are 25 days in and, instead, not a single proposal has come forward and, instead, we have witnessed an unelected Tory leader shutting down parliament, purging his party and losing every single parliamentary vote.

    The prime minister cannot continue to bluff his way around Europe. If he has proposals he should publish them now.

    With a general election looming, the SNP will be putting Scotland’s opposition to Brexit and our right to choose our own future as an independent country at the heart of that contest.

    Scotland’s voice has been completely ignored throughout this Brexit process and it’s clear that the people of Scotland deserve the choice of a better future than the Brexit chaos being imposed on us by a broken and bleak Westminster system.

  4. says

    Wow:

    Leader of the Joint List, Ayman Odeh in final election appeal: “I turn now to Israel’s Jewish citizens: friends, our interests are shared. The interests of 90% of Jews, of 90% of Arabs is to live in peace; to live in democracy, with social justice and equality.

    “But it’s not just interests; it’s our values that we need to live by. This time, I want to talk to you about another direction. A direction of solidarity; of identification. Who better than the Jews can understand what it is to live as a minority–to be a persecuted minority?

    We — Arab citizens of Israel — are suffering from unrestrained incitement of the prime minister @netanyahu — and from a bold-faced lie: whether it’s Arabs ‘flocking to the polls in droves,’ or ‘Arabs are stealing our elections’ of last week;

    or ‘Arabs want to annihilate us’ of 3 days ago, we have gone from a persecuted minority in this country–to an endangered minority.”

    In short: it’s not Arabs against Jews. It’s Jews and Arabs together.

  5. blf says

    John Crace snarks in the Grauniad, Incredible Sulk morphs from green to yellow as he is bested by Bettel:

    […]
    Exit the Incredible Sulk. It was bad enough getting owned on Twitter by the actor who played the Incredible Hulk — comparing yourself to a comic book hero with anger management issues was always asking for trouble […]

    But Boris Johnson’s day just got a whole lot worse when he was completely owned by about 50 unthreatening protesters — this was Luxembourg, where crime waves are measured in the number of people not paying parking fines — and Xavier Bettel, the country’s prime minister.

    Faced with a handful of people shouting: “We don’t like you very much,” Johnson imploded under the weight of his own narcissism. The Incredible Bulk morphed from green to yellow and fled sobbing indoors. He’d been in some tricky situations before where the future of the world had been at risk from super-soldiers powered by gamma radiation. But nothing as dangerous as this.

    He begged Bettel to move their joint press conference somewhere less noisy. Preferably somewhere no one would ask him any difficult questions. Bettel demurred. The lecterns were set up, the journalists were in place and he’d go ahead without him. Johnson was about to be humiliated by the second smallest country in the EU. […]

    To be fair, the Luxembourg trip had already turned sour in the lunchtime showdown with his arch-enemy, Jean-Claude “Thanos” Juncker. Thanos had tried to trick him into revealing his top secret Brexit plan. He’d even asked him to put it down in writing. In writing! What kind of fool did Thanos take him for? He might be green, but he wasn’t that green. So instead, the Bulk had palmed him off with some pifflepafflewifflewaffle. If he didn’t know what he was talking about then there was no way Thanos would.

    It had been near mortal combat. The Bulk could tell he had landed some crushing blows by the disdain and irritation with which Thanos had described their meeting as almost entirely pointless because no new proposals had been put forward. And the killer blow had been the Bulk’s own statement saying he was aware time was running out and that the negotiators would soon be meeting on a daily basis.

    Soon — there was no rush. He might be on day 26 of the 30 in which he had promised his other nemesis, Angela “the Leader” Merkel, an alternative to the Northern Ireland backstop, but his superpowers meant he wasn’t constrained by the quantum physics of the space-time continuum.

    But even the Bulk had to admit he had been wrongfooted by Xavier “the Abomination” Bettel. No one could have expected a villain of the Abomination’s tiny stature to face down a few people — some even wearing sandals — waving placards that read: “Bog Off Boris” and shouting nasty things such as: “Go home liar.” Rather than cowering under a table — discretion was sometimes the better part of valour even for a superhero — the Abomination had taken his life in his hands and gone outside to talk to the media.

    The Abomination had begun in measured terms, sounding reasonable as he gestured to where Boris should have been. The Bulk had become the Sulk and been “empty-lecterned” on the world stage. He’d never live it down at the next Marvel Comics reunion. Then the Abomination began to turn really nasty as his exasperation channeled Brenda from Bristol. AKA Galactus. The Abomination had had enough. He was at his wits’ end. He was sick to death of the Sulk getting all worked up, going green and splitting his suits.

    Hell, no one had ever expected the Sulk to keep to his diet and if he lost his temper and spilled the odd glass of wine then that was his own business. But what the Abomination couldn’t stand any more was the Sulk’s bullshit. Boris was the superhero without any superpowers. […] Someone so delusional, he actually imagined that people believed he had a workable Brexit plan.

    So this was the Abomination’s moment to break the politician’s code. To quit the pretence and tell the truth. The Sulk was a charlatan. An imposter who had never really believed in Brexit anyway. The Joker whose music-hall act had long since stopped being funny. Brexit was an unmitigated disaster for everyone and the Sulk was wilfully playing with people’s futures to prolong his career. No one trusted him and when the shit hit the fan, the Sulk would have no one to blame but himself.

    The Abomination looked like he had plenty more to say, but one of his minders dragged him away. The world looked on in amazement. No one had ever seen the Sulk humiliated in this way before. And what had been seen could never be unseen. […]

    Also, Ben Jennings on Brexit and Boris Johnson’s claim of huge progress (cartoon).

  6. says

    Meanwhile in Russia… There was an explosion at a research center which stores one of the world’s largest collections of viruses including small pox & ebola. All glass in the building was shattered per RFE/RL, but Russian gov’t says no biohazards released.”

    So…biohazards released, then.

  7. says

    Republicans in action:

    This is incredible:

    1. North Carolina GOP Sen. Alexander walks into the redistricting room and discovers that his district has been made competitive.
    2. He quietly slices up the district to cut out Democratic voters.
    3. He gets caught.
    4. He announces his retirement.

  8. says

    Correction to #1 above: “UPDATE: McCabe’s spokesperson now says Brennan, Rice, Holder won’t be testifying as character witnesses for him after all, despite calling the full witness list (below) ‘accurate’ just a few hours ago.”

  9. says

    As the war drums beat, I can only hope and pray that the US media is able to not just uncritically report & relay, but also challenge, the claims coming from within this (serially dishonest) administration & (Iraq-war-tainted) US intel community. But I’m not holding my breath.”

    Oh, they’re not. Andrea Mitchell was almost hyperventilating talking about the “egregious” “attack on the world oil supply” in which no one was killed, when they’ve said barely a word about the human catastrophe that is the war in Yemen.

  10. says

    More re reports posted in the previous iteration – Guardian – “Canada: arrest of ex-head of intelligence shocks experts and alarms allies”:

    Canada and its allies are scrambling to assess the damage inflicted by what experts believe could be the largest security breach in the country’s history after a senior federal intelligence official was arrested on charges of stealing covert information.

    Following a lengthy investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted police, Cameron Ortis – the leader of the police force’s own intelligence unit – was charged on Friday with leaking or offering to share covert information.

    On Monday, the RCMP commissioner, Brenda Lucki, acknowledged that Ortis, 47, had access to intelligence from both domestic and international allies.

    Lucki did not say which foreign organizations may have been exposed by Ortis, but Canada – alongside the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia – is part of an intelligence-sharing alliance known as the Five Eyes, in which certain investigations have a large degree of overlap between countries.

    “We are aware of the potential risk to agency operations of our partners in Canada,” Lucki said in a statement.

    Security experts said that case could have a profound impact on Canada’s relationship with its allies.

    Officials in other countries are probably “tremendously concerned” about the safety and integrity of their own investigations, said Stephanie Carvin, a professor of international affairs at Carleton University and former national security analyst for the federal government.

    “If [Ortis] has been successful [in sharing information], the damage could be unprecedented in Canadian history,” she said. “But we don’t know yet. And that’s the thing that’s keeping a lot of people on edge: we know it could be bad. But how bad is it?”…

  11. says

    NEW: President Trump has directed former top aides Rob Porter and Rick Dearborn not to appear to testify before Congress tomorrow. Here’s the letter from WH Counsel Pat Cipollone to Chairman Nadler…”

  12. says

    Give every woman in #unbelievablenetflix an Emmy.

    Every. single. one.”

    Endorse. I highly recommend Unbelievable, and the acting is phenomenal. [So strange – after recently reading Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution, which I loved, I finished his The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, and had the same complaint about both: that women were featured rarely and from the perspective of men (characters or narrators). I noticed Chabon’s wife, Ayelet Waldman, is a novelist, and actually was thinking it would possibly be great if they collaborated. And they co-created this (along with screenwriter and director Susannah Grant)!] (Warning: the first episode especially is emotionally wrenching. I don’t think I’ve ever offered a trigger warning, but I will in this case.)

  13. says

    At Iraq parliament:
    Security guard: Sorry sir, those are the rules- no cowboy.
    Iraqi journalist: I can’t come in because of cowboy?
    Guard: No cowboy.
    Journalist gets on phone: I won’t be able to get in because no cowboy.
    Me: Cowboy?
    Guard: Jeans! No cowboy allowed here! #nocowboy”

  14. says

    From the G liveblog:

    Pannick quotes from this blog by Prof Mark Elliott, professor of public law the the University of Cambridge. He only quotes briefly from what it says – the judges have the whole thing in their bundle – but here is a passage summarising Elliott’s argument.

    Far from requiring the court to determine whether the duration is excessive, the issue in Cherry and Miller (No 2) requires the court only to determine whether, to begin with, prorogation was undertaken for a purpose that was legally impermissible because it lies outside the range of purposes for which the power can lawfully be deployed. This is a crisp question of constitutional law concerning the scope of the discretionary power to prorogue, as distinct from a question about whether discretion has been lawfully exercised. Such a question of law, about the scope of the executive’s legal powers, is manifestly one that lies within the field of matters with which courts can properly deal.

    The result is that to approach Cherry and Miller (No 2) in terms of whether the courts can stretch the bounds of justiciability in a way that facilitates judicial scrutiny of the exercise of the prorogation prerogative is misconceived. It is misconceived because the legal issue at stake is not one upon which the non-justiciability doctrine can properly bite. That doctrine is concerned with limiting judicial involvement in the evaluation of the exercise of governmental powers whose use is capable of giving rise to questions that are unsuited, under the separation of powers, to analysis by courts on legal grounds. The justiciability doctrine is, however, logically incapable of biting upon questions about whether a given power exists and, if so, what its legal boundaries are. Questions about the purposes for which legal powers can and cannot lawfully be used are legal questions about the scope of such powers. It is questions of precisely that nature which are raised by the Miller (No 2) and Cherry cases. Consequently, the non-justiciability doctrine has no relevant application — and the suggestion by the divisional court that the “political” nature of the issue shields it from judicial review is entirely wide of the mark. Whether the supreme court will be prepared to treat the matters before it as justiciable remains to be seen, but there is no good legal reason for treating them as non-justiciable.

    I love the phrase “crisp question of constitutional law.” (The whole thing is making me hungry, to be honest.)

  15. says

    Corey Lewandowski will give testimony, such as it is, in the House today.

    Barb McQuade: “Trump’s resistance to congressional oversight alone is impeachable, now refusing to permit Dearborn and Porter to testify and limiting the testimony of Lewandowski. The ability of Congress to check a president is being weakened before our eyes.”

    (As people have pointed out, they don’t have to have Trump’s permission to testify, and don’t have to abide by his unlawful dictates. They’re choosing to.)

    Lewandowski tweeted: “Excited about the opportunity to remind the American people today there was no collusion no obstruction. There were lots of angry Democrats who tried to take down a duly elected President. Tune in.”

    Renato Mariotti: “A reminder that Lewandowski will go out of his way to help Trump. You can expect him to softpedal and minimize the statements he gave Mueller.

    The most interesting part of the hearing will be to see if he gets himself in legal trouble by contradicting what he previously said.”

    So the theme of the day seems to be the abuse of power by arrogant, corrupt men. Three countries and counting.

  16. says

    A reminder what happened last time House Democrats questioned Lewandowski. He repeatedly cursed and aggressively pushed back, saying, I’m not going to answer your ‘fucking’ questions.”

    And the Republicans were fine with his (and Erik Prince’s) open contempt for their colleagues and the institution of congress.

    Lewandowski can be expected to be equally mendacious and obnoxious today, but they do have the Mueller Report to read from.

  17. says

    Manu Raju: “WH says Corey Lewandowski can’t talk about conversations with the president not contained in Mueller report. Lewandowski was never a WH employee.”

    Elie Honig: “Drag Lewandowski in anyway. Make him clam up and hide behind bogus WH privilege claims, in public and on camera, so the whole country can see just how ridiculous White House obstructionism really looks.”

  18. says

    #Breaking: @Facebook blocks Netanyahu’s message function for second time, for breaking law against electioneering on voting day, which he has done all day by giving interviews on right-wing radio stations. First FB blockage was for violating anti-hate-speech policy.”

    Facebook suspends Netanyahu’s chatbot for distributing forbidden poll statistics & he is giving illegal radio interviews despite judge orders. The Israeli Prime minister is simply violating the election laws on election day.”

    Second link has a link to Haaretz live election coverage.

  19. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 39

    I’m sorry, I have taste so I don’t follow Reality TV, but WHAT exactly is Spicy basing his accusation on? Do the judges burn Bibles and hold a Black Mass before recording?

  20. says

    NBC – “Trump in New Mexico: ‘Who do you like more — the country or Hispanics?'”:

    President Donald Trump, looking to put New Mexico in play in 2020, sought to win over Hispanic voters at a rally here Monday.

    The president’s pitch to Hispanic voters seemed to silo them off from the rest of the electorate, including the rally crowd (“We love our Hispanics”). It featured an assertion that they had a greater understanding of the source of the drug problem than other Americans. And it included a section in which Trump wondered how CNN contributor Steve Cortes could be Hispanic even though, the president said, he appeared to be of Northern European descent.

    “He happens to be Hispanic, but I never quite figured it out because he looks more like a WASP than I do,” Trump said of Cortes, who was in the audience.

    From the stage, he asked Cortes: “Who do you like more, the country or Hispanics?” Cortes appeared to mouth “country,” to which Trump replied: “I don’t know. I may have to go for the Hispanics, to be honest with you. We got a lot of Hispanics.”

    Trump later said Hispanics should support him and his efforts to build a border wall because they understand the roots of the drug problem better than other voters.

    “And at the center of America’s drug crisis, this is where the Hispanics know it better than anybody, people said, ‘Oh, the Hispanics won’t like a wall.’ I said, ‘I think they are going to love it,'” Trump said. “You know why? Because you understand it better than other people, but at the whole center of this crisis is the drugs that are pouring in, and you understand that when other people don’t understand it.”

    “Nobody loves the Hispanics more,” Trump told the crowd. “We love our Hispanics, get out and vote.”

    “How do I lose New Mexico? Explain that one,” Trump asked the crowd, as he touted his support from Hispanics.

    Trump’s disapproval rating among Hispanics stood at 79 percent in a Pew Research Center poll last month.

    See also Daniel Dale’s thread @ #28 above. Note that Trump can’t resist the momentary sadistic pleasure he derives from getting Cortes to publicly debase himself and then immediately undercutting him. He does this constantly, including to the crowds at his rallies.

  21. says

    Akira MacKenzie @ #45, as I understand it the judges gave his performance a 12 out of 30 and one said he looked like he was being attacked by wasps. You know, because they’re Hollywood people who hate Jesus.

  22. says

    Dearest MSNBC, I think I can speak for the majority of your viewers when I say that we’re tired of hearing Republicans endlessly opining on the Democratic candidates and their policy plans.

  23. says

    Adam Schiff:

    Brett Kavanaugh should never have been confirmed.

    Against highly credible allegations, he responded with a partisan diatribe that revealed a man lacking the character and judgement fit for the bench.

    The FBI was precluded from interviewing key witnesses. We should find out why.

  24. says

    To the extent that you can succeed when facing people who care nothing about congress, oversight, honesty, transparency, or the law, or just basic decency, I thought Sheila Jackson Lee did a good job. Lewandowski had to actively obstruct and be a hostile asshole cover-up stooge, and she still managed to get across that Trump called him to do his dirty work after both McGahn and Sessions had said no and McGahn had told him not to have contact with Sessions about the Special Counsel.

  25. says

    Lewandowski, under questioning from Rep. Deutsch, is looking like a very weak man. He looks weaker and more dishonest with each round of Democratic questioning. (I mute the Republican “questioning.”)

  26. says

    And I think he has a tell: he does a thing with his mouth where he opens his teeth but keeps his mouth closed several times in a row.

    He doesn’t have any answer for the questions about why he wanted to meet with Sessions outside the DoJ. He told Mueller that he didn’t want there to be an official log of the meeting and didn’t want to meet on Sessions’ “turf.”

  27. says

    Josh Dawsey:

    Trump says homeless people are living in “our best highways, our best streets, our best entrances to buildings” where people pay “tremendous taxes” and want “prestige.” Says he’s speaking to tenants who “want to leave the country.” He adds: “We’ll be doing something about it.”

    Populism! (A significant portion of homeless people are veterans, incidentally.)

  28. says

    Ken Dilanian, too. Thinks it’s “largely been a failure.” Will there ever be an event, ever, of any kind related to this criminal gang that the media won’t spin to help the Trumpublicans? Not Kavanaugh, not the Mueller Report, not any hearing, not any vote, nothing.

  29. says

    Cynthia Alksne joining in now. They still haven’t shown the segments of substantive questioning from Lee, Cohen, Deutsch, or Bass. It’s all about their take on what a terrible job Nadler did. And so they’re basically encouraging future witness to be as hostile, obstructive, and contemptuous as possible. Great job.

  30. Akira MacKenzie says

    A significant portion of homeless people are veterans, incidentally.

    Well, Trump prefers veterans who aren’t impoverished and don’t suffer from mental and physical trauma from their service.

  31. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC # 67-68

    I suspect that the Press keeps expecting some sort of high powered court room drama where the success or failure of the inquiry depends on whether or not the Democrats can reduce Lewandowski into a stuttering, stammering fool until, in frustration and anger, he stands up he screams “YES! TRUMP DID IT! HE DID IT ALL! I HELPED HIM AND I DO IT AGAIN TO!!!!”

    Yeah, it doesn’t work like that.

  32. says

    My god, journalists have to stop doing this. The Democrats didn’t think Lewandowski was going to come clean, open up, and tell the full truth. They thought they could get some more of the information out there to the public, put the obstruction on public display, show how weak he is, and maybe get a few questions answered and catch him lying under oath.

  33. blf says

    John Crace in the Grauniad snarks about today’s hearing in teh NKofE’s supine kangaroo, Lord Pannick stays calm and Keen lacks interest at supreme court:

    A bad day for nominative determinism at legal hearing over suspension of parliament

    Not all the 11 supreme court judges looked entirely pleased to be back in session. It was bad enough being dragged back to work in mid-September. After all, they hadn’t slogged their way to the top of the legal profession only to have their summer holidays cut short. But what made things even worse was they were effectively being asked to decide whether the Scottish or the English and Welsh courts had got it wrong. Whatever they did, they were going to end up not only seriously pissing off some colleagues but also starting an uncivil war.

    [… Lord Pannick argued the case why the English and Welsh courts had been wrong to rule proroguing parliament was lawful.] His delivery was smooth and unruffled. Never using two words where one would do. There were three strands to the argument, he explained, carefully and forensically. First the facts. It was by now an established truth that the Incredible Sulk was both an international embarrassment and completely untrustworthy and, in this case, he had clearly lied about his motives for prorogation. No one seemed in the mood to quibble about that.

    Second, there was the matter of public law. It was wrong for the government to prorogue parliament just because the prime minister was scared of what it might do. […] This provoked several interruptions from Lord Carnwath and Lord Reed. Pannick had their cards marked. He knew both judges […] had sided with the government [previously] and would probably do so again. But he only needed six to win. Six was the magic number. So he just settled for reminding Reed he had once presided over a case in which he had found in favour of parliamentary sovereignty and let things slide. He might not get Reed’s vote, but at least that might shut him up. It did.

    The reason no court had previously ruled on cases of prorogation was because there had been no call for them to do so. But we were now living in the world of the Incredible Sulk, the all-inaction superhero who had done more to abuse the processes of constitutional law than any other prime minister in living memory. And if the supreme court wasn’t prepared to act over a five-week prorogation then would it stand by and let him suspend parliament for longer at a later date? That observation definitely seemed to land with most of the judges.

    It was a poor day for nominative determinism. If Pannick had been the epitome of calm, then Lord Keen, who was leading for the government against the Scottish inner court of session, appeared almost comatose. Everyone surely made a mental note not to hire him if they ever found themselves in trouble with the law. Just plead guilty and get it over with. Even if you were innocent. You’d still get a lesser sentence.

    Keen mumbled. He shuffled his papers. Time and again, he paused. Not for effect, but because he appeared to have lost his place. He began by spending 20 minutes arguing there was no difference between Scottish and English law in this case. This left people scratching their heads as no one had previously said there was.

    That though was the highlight of his day. First he tried to argue the Incredible Sulk hadn’t lied, but even if he had then he was perfectly entitled to. Then he claimed parliament had secretly wanted to be prorogued, because if it had wanted to remain sitting it would have put on a demonstration of interpretive dance.

    By now, even Carnwath and Reed were beginning to have their doubts, but Keen was lost in a world of his own. […]

    Keen ended up as a puddle on the dancefloor. Pannick mopped him up and helped him into a taxi.

    Many readers are pointing out that if teh supine kangaroo rules in favor of teh incredible sulk, then there’s seemingly nothing to stop teh sulk, or any other PM, from proroguing parliament for five years after an election (parliaments last five years), or for teh sulk to prorogue parliament for the duration of any extension by teh EU. As Crace notes, Pannick made the same point in his presentation.

  34. says

    The hearing is over.

    Committee staff, as Nadler pointed out at the beginning, can now ask questions of witnesses (see also #54 above). I had some things to do during part of the hearing, so I might have missed it, but I didn’t see anyone other than representatives asking questions.

  35. says

    Rep. Amash retweeted an item from his long thread about Trump’s impeachable offenses: “5. Trump asked Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, to tell AG Sessions to limit the special counsel’s investigation only to future election interference. Trump said Lewandowski should tell Sessions he was fired if he would not meet with him.”

    He notes: “At today’s Judiciary hearing, Corey Lewandowski confirmed this impeachable conduct from Mueller’s report. Thank you, Corey.”

  36. says

    Berke is pointing out that according to Lewandowski’s own book, Trump offered Corey a senior White House job, supposedly including running the response to Russia investigation, at the same time he asked Lewandowski to pressure Session to restrict Mueller’s probe.”

    Berke is done. Nadler is now telling the Republicans it’s their turn to designate a staff member of their own to question Lewandowski. Collins is insisting he wants to do it himself. I don’t know whether they have anyone to do it or not. Collins knows this isn’t going well for them.

  37. says

    Updated projections have the predominantly-Arab Joint List surging to 15 seats, making it the third-largest party in the Knesset.

    If Likud and Blue and White form a national unity govt, Ayman Odeh could well become the first Arab leader of Israel’s opposition.

    By comparison, the predominantly Arab parties garnered 10 seats in the April election.

    This apparent 50% increase—if borne out by the actual results—would represent a watershed moment in Arab representation in Israeli politics.”

  38. says

    Why the everloving fuck do TV reporters think it’s their role to offer a review of Democrats’ questioning rather than to report the substance? Why? Why do they think “will this give you pause about putting other witnesses in public?” is a question they should be asking?

  39. says

    MORE NEWS: Rep. SCHIFF says DNI Maguire has refused to turn over the contents of an “urgent” whistleblower complaint that could involve wrongdoing by the president or his advisers.

    He now says Maguire must testify by Thursday, possibly under subpoena. Story TK”

  40. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Rachel Maddow is interviewing Sen. Elizabeth Warren on her show at 8pm tonight. A space to watch.

  41. says

    The Guardian has liveblogs for the Israel election results and Brexit politics. Arguments continue in the Supreme Court today over the alleged unlawfulness of the prorogation of parliament.

    Lord Kerr asks Eadie if he accepts that it is up to the court to decide the limits of prerogative powers.

    Eadie says he does.

    Q: And do you accept that prerogative powers can be limited by fundamental rights?

    Eadie does accept that.

    He says it is for the court to decide all sorts of issues relating to the prerogative, including its limits.

    Q: Do you accept that the exercise of the prerogative to prorogue parliament can limit the ability of parliament to scrutinise the effective?

    Eadie says prorogation “has the effects that it has”.

    But he would argue this is a “well-established constitutional function”, exercised and to be exercised by the executive.

    He says he wants to analyse whether it is possible to apply standards to the way prorogation is used, and whether it is proper for the courts to intervene.

    Q: So you do not accept the argument that the prorogation in this case went beyond the proper use of this power.

    Eadie says he does not accept that. He says it was a political judgment.

  42. says

    HuffPo – “White House Fires Homeland Security General Counsel In Latest Agency Shake-Up: Report”:

    The Trump administration has fired John Mitnick, the general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security, the latest high-profile departure as the White House continues to exert pressure on the agency’s immigration agenda.

    The New York Times reported Tuesday that Mitnick had been forced out and will be replaced by Joseph Maher, the department’s principal deputy general counsel. The general counsel position is the top legal job at DHS and oversees more than 2,500 attorneys who work at the agency.

    “We thank John for this service, and we wish him well,” a Homeland Security spokesperson told the Times in a statement. DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Mitnick was nominated by President Donald Trump in 2017 and was confirmed in 2018. He had been the chief legal officer at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and had also worked at DHS in the early 2000s before transitioning to a role in the White House Counsel’s Office under President George W. Bush….

  43. says

    Bloomberg – “Health Insurance That Doesn’t Cover the Bills Has Flooded the Market Under Trump”:

    Early one Friday morning two years ago, David Diaz woke up his wife, Marisia, and told her he didn’t feel right. He asked her to pray with him. Their son called 911, and within minutes, Marisia was tailing an ambulance down the dirt road away from the couple’s house on the outskirts of Phoenix to a hospital in the city. David had had a massive heart attack.

    Before being wheeled into surgery, he whispered the PIN for his bank card to Marisia, just in case. But the double-bypass operation was successful, and two weeks later he was discharged.

    On her way out, Marisia gave the billing clerk David’s health insurance card. It looked like any other, listing a copay of $30 for doctor visits and $50 for “wellness.” She’d bought the plan a year earlier from a company called Health Insurance Innovations Inc., with the understanding that it would be comprehensive. She hadn’t noticed a phrase near the top of the card, though: “Short-Term Medical Insurance.”

    The Diazes’ plan was nothing like the ones consumers have come to expect under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which bars insurers from capping coverage, canceling it retroactively, or turning away people with preexisting conditions. But the law includes an exemption for short-term plans that serve as a stopgap for people between jobs. The Trump administration, thwarted in its attempts to overturn the ACA, has widened that loophole by stretching the definition of “short-term” from three months to a year, with the option of renewing for as long as three years.

    Fewer than 100,000 people had such plans at the end of last year, according to state insurance regulators, but the Trump administration says that number will jump by 600,000 in 2019 as a result of the changes. Some brokers are taking advantage, selling plans so skimpy that they offer no meaningful coverage. And Health Insurance Innovations is at the center of the market. In interviews, lawsuits, and complaints to regulators, dozens of its customers say they were tricked into buying plans they didn’t realize were substandard until they were stuck with surprise bills. The company denies responsibility for any such incidents, saying it’s a technology platform that helps people find affordable policies through reputable agents.

    Six months after David’s surgery, the Diaz family got a particularly big surprise bill—an error, Marisia thought when she saw the invoice. But when she called her insurer, she was told she’d have to pay the full amount: $244,447.91.

    The ACA was designed around a fundamental economic bargain: Insurance companies would no longer be allowed to deny coverage to people who were already sick, and policies would have to cover a broad set of benefits, including prescription drugs, maternity care, and hospitalization. In return insurers were guaranteed that consumers would buy coverage or face tax penalties, and that subsidies would be available for people who needed them. The approach spread the financial risk of getting sick and aimed to guarantee that no one with insurance would have to worry about being bankrupted by necessary care. Preserving the bargain was essential, though; too many exceptions, and the edifice would crumble.

    When the Republican-controlled Senate failed in 2017 to pass Trump-backed legislation that would have gutted the ACA, the administration instead seized on the loophole allowing consumers to buy certain noncompliant plans. Trump used an executive order to extend the time limit for temporary plans, which he and other Republicans talked up as a potential solution for cash-strapped consumers. Healthy people, they argued, could save money by buying policies that didn’t cover perceived nonessentials. “These plans aren’t for everyone, but they can provide a much more affordable option for millions of the forgotten men and women left out by the current system,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in August 2018.

    On June 14, Trump held a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden to announce a new policy that lets employers steer as much as $1,800 in tax-exempt funds to their employees instead of offering them comprehensive health plans. The move will likely create many more customers for HIIQ’s industry. “We’re putting the people back in charge with more choice for better care at a far lower cost—and other people will not be paying for their health care,” Trump said.

    Brokers are already gearing up for November, when the open enrollment period for Obamacare plans will drive millions of potential customers online. Earlier this year, HIIQ paid roughly $70 million to buy TogetherHealth, a company that runs TV ads targeted at over-65 shoppers and directs those who call in toward insurance brokers. Southwell told Wall Street analysts that TogetherHealth brings in a million customers a year, and that HIIQ can redirect them to its network of brokers and products. “There is much low-hanging fruit in the over-65 space,” he said. “We expect significant growth.” HIIQ has since announced that it’s conducting a strategic review, essentially putting itself up for sale to private equity firms, which would get it off the stock market and solve its problem with short sellers once and for all.

    As for the Diazes, Surrano is looking to take depositions from Thiel and other HIIQ representatives, a process that could take months. It’s unlikely a trial would start before next summer. In the meantime, the couple is still struggling with the debt from David’s heart attack.

    After the initial wave of bills came in, Marisia started sending $10 to each of their creditors, attaching a signed note asking the recipient to accept the money as a “payment of good faith.” The debt is never far from her mind. “I wake up thinking about it,” she says. “I go to bed thinking about it. It doesn’t go away.” The family switched to a comprehensive, ACA-compliant insurance policy in December 2017. With government subsidies, it costs less than they were paying for junk insurance.

    Much, much more at the link. There were warnings about this at the time. It’s an outrage. From the article:

    When customers have made accusations to that effect in court, the company has defended itself aggressively. Charley Butler, a truck driver in Montana, filed suit in April 2017 after his insurance didn’t pay for his testicular cancer treatment, leaving him with $69,000 in unpaid bills. During a deposition the following year, Lee Henning, an attorney for HIIQ, tried to undermine Butler’s claim that the debt had left him anxious. If you need money so badly, Henning asked, why doesn’t your wife get a second job? He reminded Butler that the Bible says a wife should be a good “helpmate.”

    “I’m really sorry for everything you’ve gone through,” he said next. “But whether or not the insurance company had handled your case differently, you still would have had cancer, correct?” Henning didn’t respond to a request for comment; HIIQ says he no longer represents the company and that it doesn’t condone his comments to Butler.

  44. says

    Speaking to the AFL-CIO,

    Biden brings up health care unprompted: “Under (my plan), you can keep your health insurance you’ve bargained for if you like it… You’ve broken your neck to get it. You’ve given up wages to get it. You should be entitled to keep it and no plan should take it away from you.”

    Right, it’s a great system when people have to break their necks and give up wages to get health coverage which remains attached to their employment.

  45. says

    Yes!

    At last Justice Black asks the key question of how parliament can check misuse of prorogation if it is, well, prorogued

    How can a matter be . ultimately for parliament and not the courts, if the executive prorogues parliament so that parliament cannot do anything

    Whack”

  46. says

    Trump: “I am pleased to announce that I will name Robert C. O’Brien, currently serving as the very successful Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department, as our new National Security Advisor….”

  47. says

    “A play in three acts.”

    (The coverage of yesterday’s hearing on CNN and MSNBC has been so unremittingly hostile to the Democrats – the law, legislative oversight, etc. – that Fox published a story with the headline “MSNBC, CNN rip House Dems over ‘failure’ Lewandowski hearing: ‘They don’t know what they’re doing’.”)

  48. says

    Josh Marshall: “O’Brien appt likely best seen as analog to Grisham as Comms/Spox. Finally worked his way to non-entity who will simply allow him to do the job himself.”

    (Of course, it’s not a job he could do himself even if he were capable and interested, which he isn’t, but O’Brien will be a non-entity for sure.)

  49. says

    #LiarLewandowski is now trending on Twitter. The public is forced to do the media’s work, including calling out CNN for bringing him on this morning. There was just a segment on MSNBC in which Stephanie Ruhle asked something like, “OK, but did we really learn anything from the hearing other than that he lies on cable news, which we already knew?” Just ridiculous.

  50. says

    Amazing the parallels with the US right now – from the G liveblog:

    O’Neill is now talking about the government’s failure to provide a witness statement.

    He cites the judgment in Das v home secretary. This is included in the Cherry team’s legal submission (pdf). The Das judgement said:

    Where a secretary of state fails to put before the court witness statements to explain the decision-making process and the reasoning underlying a decision they take a substantial risk. In general litigation where a party elects not to call available witnesses to give evidence on a relevant matter, the court may draw inferences of fact against that party … The basis for drawing adverse inferences of fact against the secretary of state in judicial review proceedings will be particularly strong, because in such proceedings the secretary of state is subject to the stringent and well-known obligation owed to the court by a public authority facing a challenge to its decision, [in the words of Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe in Belize Alliance of Conservation Non-Governmental Organisations v Department of the Environment [2004] Env LR 761 , para 86] ‘to cooperate and to make candid disclosure, by way of affidavit, of the relevant facts and (so far as they are not apparent from contemporaneous documents which have been disclosed) the reasoning behind the decision challenged in the judicial review proceedings’.

  51. says

    G liveblog:

    O’Neill is winding up now.

    I say to this court … stand up for the truth, stand up for reason, stand up for unity in diversity, stand up for parliament, stand up for democracy by dismissing this government’s appeal and uphold a constitution governed by laws and not the passing whims of men.

    We’ve got hear the mother of parliaments being shut down by the father of lies. Rather than allowing lies to triumph, listen to the angels of your better nature and rule that this prorogation is unlawful and an abuse of power which has been entrusted to the government.

    This government is showing itself unworthy of our trust as it uses the powers of its office in a manner that is corrosive of the constitution and destructive of the system of parliamentary representative democracy on which our union polity is founded.

    Enough is enough. Dismiss this appeal, and let them know that. That’s what truth speaking to power sounds like.

    The court adjourns until tomorrow.

  52. says

    Now running DHS:

    Acting Secretary
    Acting Deputy Secretary
    ACTING GENERAL COUNSEL
    Acting Under Secretary for Management
    Acting CBP Commissioner
    Acting ICE Director
    Acting USCIS DIrector
    Acting FEMA Administrator

    We don’t even have a nominee for any of these except the last one.”

    On the bright side, it’s not an entrenched bureaucracy at this point.

  53. says

    Jake Tapper:

    1/ Anatomy of a smear: progressive activist
    @AdamGreen posts on Sept 13, at a reception for the Congressional Black Caucus annual legislative conference, video of @IlhanMN dancing:…

    [link to cute video at the link – SC]

    2/ The president of the United States RTs the lie to his 64.4 million followers that she was dancing on the anniversary of 9/11. It’s completely false, it’s a smear, and no doubt it raises security issues.

    3/ Is there really no one in the @WhiteHouse, no one in the
    @GOP, who sees that this is indecent and unacceptable behavior?

    UPDATE: The tweet has been removed — not sure if by twitter or by the user [the lie that Trump RTed – not his tweet – SC]

  54. says

    SC @101, I would delete “all but admits,” and just use “admits.”

    Yes, Corey Lewandowski admitted that he lied to various media interlocutors, including Fox News and MSNBC.

  55. blf says

    More on @137/@138 from the Grauniad’s current live States blog:

    Omar accuses Trump of putting her life at risk

    Progressive congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, has spoken out after Donald Trump retweeted a post this morning from conservative commentator and comedian Terrence K Williams that falsely claimed Omar partied on the anniversary of 9/11.

    […]

    Omar pointed out that the event she attended was not on September 11, the anniversary last week of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the US.

    “The President of the United States is continuing to spread lies that put my life at risk” she wrote on Twitter, and asked the social media company what it was doing about such misinformation:

    This is from a CBC event we hosted this weekend to celebrate black women in Congress.
    The President of the United States is continuing to spread lies that put my life at risk.
    What is Twitter doing to combat this misinformation? […]

    […]

  56. blf says

    An amusing follow-up to @496(previous page), a reader’s letter in the Grauniad, The French still feel gloriously Gallic:

    In order to win back those who have cancelled their contributions to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (having discovered that 2% of the charity’s income is spent on life-saving projects abroad), might I suggest a new policy where the RNLI saves only UK citizens in British waters. A simply cry of “Are you a foreigner?” before boarding a distressed vessel might do wonders for their image.

    The title of this readers’s letters column refers to another amusing letter (my added emphasis):

    I am sorry that James Skelton, a former miner from Sedgefield, feels his Englishness has been eroded by EU membership […]. French-ness is obviously more robust. Here in southern France this summer, the locals have been as gloriously Gallic as ever despite 62 years in the community. Homogeneity has never been part of the EU plan, but many Britons still seem irrationally unnerved by contact with fellow Europeans.

    Indeed. And not just during the summer. Or, as far as I know, just here in S.France.

  57. blf says

    John Crace in the Grauniad snarking on today’s session in teh NKofE’s supine kangaroo, Legal defence of prorogation crashes, burns and then fades into silence:

    Boris Johnson’s counsel failed to explain why the Incredible Sulk had refused to explain his reasons

    James Eadie must be a fundamentally decent man. He had watched Lord Keen seemingly crash and burn in the supreme court the previous day [see @78] as he had fumbled and mumbled against the Scottish ruling that the government had acted unlawfully in proroguing parliament. He was anxious not to embarrass him further.

    So Eadie, representing the government, deliberately chose to make a virtue of his own mediocrity as he appeared to spend the morning doing everything other than explain why the English courts had been right to find the prorogation lawful. Quite how the government chooses its advocates is something of a mystery. […]

    Not that Eadie wasn’t a huge improvement on Keen. He spoke slowly, each sentence a dull monotone fading into silence. Much like a broken clockwork toy. Um, everything was basically in order, er, because it was. The judges should trust the government. Even when it was lying through its teeth. Because if we couldn’t trust the government then … Then something.

    As they had with Keen, the Lords Reed and Carnwath tried to come to Eadie’s rescue with some helpful interventions, but most of the other judges were far more hostile in their questioning than they had been on the first day. They weren’t in the mood to be pushed around by the government or its flunkeys. They were sentient beings in their own right and they would rule on what they liked. Something that came as a bit of a shock to Eadie, who had just argued it wasn’t for the court to decide what was relevant and rational. Presumably he imagines most legal decisions are made with the help of a Ouija board.

    Eadie struggled on, each argument weaker than the last. If parliament hadn’t wanted to be prorogued, why wasn’t it doing something to stop being prorogued? He still hadn’t quite grasped that parliament can’t do anything when it is prorogued. Fairly basic stuff, you’d have thought. The time-sensitive legislation could be dealt with when parliament returned. Apart from the bits that were time sensitive. He didn’t even seem entirely sure of the difference between recess and prorogation. This isn’t a supreme court episode that Eadie will want to watch on iPlayer.

    […]

    He couldn’t explain why the Incredible Sulk had not signed a witness statement giving the reasons for the prorogation. In fact, he didn’t even bother to pretend that the pretext for suspending parliament had been the Queen’s speech. No one believed a word Boris Johnson said. Not even him. Especially him. The longer he spoke the more it seemed everything in the government’s argument was probably false. It was all he could do to prevent himself making a full confession.

    The afternoon session was something else. Making the case for the Scottish ruling to be upheld, Aidan O’Neill had clearly decided Lord Pannick had already won the case on the facts — though to give them their due, Keen and Eadie appeared to have already lost it on the facts — and that enough judges had already made up their minds on the justiciability of the proceedings, so he was free to let rip with his own unique brand of oratory. This was the courtroom as proper primetime TV drama.

    He began by going full-on Braveheart for 30 minutes, making an impassioned plea for the importance of all things Scottish, daring the judges to insult them. Robbie Burns, John Buchan, Walter Scott, Macbeth. […]

    Having captured his audience — some against their will: Eadie looked as if he wanted to throw up — O’Neill then took aim at the government. You couldn’t trust the Incredible Sulk further than you could throw him. Boris lied and he lied and he lied. He couldn’t help himself. That very day he had even denied there were TV cameras there as he was filmed visiting a hospital. There’s definitely no press, the liar had lied.

    What that NHS / press snark is all about is ‘The NHS has been destroyed’: Boris Johnson confronted by father of sick child:

    […]
    Boris Johnson has been confronted by an angry father [Omar Salem] at a hospital who told him his baby daughter had nearly died because the ward on which she was treated was “not safe for children” after years of austerity.

    […]

    As embarrassed NHS bosses looked on, Johnson claimed there’s no press here but he was immediately called out by Salem, who pointed out a camera filming the scene. Labour MPs said Johnson’s denial the hospital visit was a press opportunity showed he was incapable of telling the truth.

    […]

    Afterwards, a hospital doctor working on the ward, who was present at Johnson’s visit, backed up Salem’s account, telling the Guardian: “Obviously this was a totally contrived press opportunity — he was shown by far the nicest ward in the hospital.

    “I am a medical doctor working at the hospital and the lack of resources, levels of underfunding and understaffing are beyond belief.”

    The doctor said they were “so glad” Salem spoke up. “I wish the prime minister could have seen some of the other wards, which are nothing like what he saw today,” the doctor added. “He should come on a night shift and see how everything doesn’t function at two in the morning.”

    […]

    The encounter was caught on-camera (video). Now back to Crace’s snarking of today’s supine kangaroo hearing:

    Lord Reed appeared vaguely upset that anyone might question the prime minister’s probity, but O’Neill just went for him. “Don’t be sceptical, be upset”, he said. Reed wisely kept quiet. No one else dared interrupt him. […]

    This wasn’t just some academic legal exercise, O’Neill continued. This was a prorogation with a purpose to hijack democracy. And the judges and the courts shouldn’t take it lying down. Though a good lie down was just what they needed come the close. It had been an exhausting two hours for everyone. A session that would resonate on both sides of the border.

    Some readers’s comments:

    ● “Bozo can’t even lie properly. There’s no press here, he said, in front of a TV camera and almost drowned out by the sound of shutters clicking.”

    ● “Comical Ali: There are no American tanks an Bagdad when everyone could see them.
    Hulk Johnson: There is no press here when everyone could see them.”

    ● “There was a glorious moment just before lunch when Eadie, QC for the Sulk, announced that it is unheard of for government ministers to have to give witness statements. Ten minutes later O’Neill stood up and pointed out that they do in Scotland.”

    ● “Well I believe Johnson was telling the truth. I’ve look hard at all the coverage of the hospital incident, including the film on the BBC site, and I can’t see any press there.”

    ● “Look out for a fire in Westminster before the end of October. Johnson knows a (little) bit about history, and I’ve no doubt he associates the burning of the Reichstag with Germany’s subsequent economic success, even if there was the small matter of a World war and tens of millions of deaths on the way. Britain will be great again, he thinks, and why should I be troubled with being a witness of any kind before bewigged people. […] Johnson is the most dangerous European politician since 1945. Keep him away from matches. Like Trump, he deserves no more than to be baked in a pie.”

    ● “The EU have sent around cardboard cutouts of Boo Booo Johnson with instruction that these be used when Boo Booo refuses to turn up for future planned press conferences.
      One has already been spotted in the river in Paris. They have dubbed this version the inSiene Booo Booo Johnson.”

  58. blf says

    (Cross-posted from poopyhead’s Unbelievable thread.)

    Millions of US women say first sexual experience was rape:

    New study finds one in 16 women says first sexual experience was forced or coerced in early teens

    The first sexual experience for one in 16 US women was forced or coerced intercourse in their early teens, encounters that for some may have had lasting health repercussions, a new study suggests.

    The experiences amount to rape, the authors say, although they relied on a national survey that didn’t use the word in asking women about forced sex.

    Almost seven percent of women surveyed said their first sexual intercourse experience was involuntary; it happened at age 15 on average and the man was often several years older.

    Nearly half of those women who said intercourse was involuntary said they were held down and slightly more than half of them said they were verbally pressured to have sex against their will.

    “Any sexual encounter (with penetration) that occurs against somebody’s will is rape. If somebody is verbally pressured into having sex, it’s just as much rape,” said lead author Dr Laura Hawks, an internist and Harvard Medical School researcher.

    […]

    The new study is an analysis of responses from 13,310 adult women who participated in nationally representative United States government health surveys from 2011–2017, before the popularisation of the “Me Too” movement, which demands governments, industries and communities address sexual abuse and harassment.

    […]

    According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one in five women have been raped in their lifetimes. For almost half of those women, it happened when they were younger than 18.

    […]

    Sex education specialist Dan Rice said inadequate sex education in US schools contributes to the problem.

    “Our culture teaches people not to be raped instead of teaching people not to rape,” he said.

    […]

    Sarah Emily Baum […] a staff writer for Sex, Etc, said the study results ring true.

    “Almost everyone has a story or a close call like this one or knows someone with a story or close call,” said Baum, a sophomore at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

    Baum recalls that a police officer invited to discuss sexual consent and assault at her high school focused only on girls, telling them, “‘You’ve got to make sure you say ‘no’ and say it loud enough for people to hear.'” There was little mention of boys’ responsibility, and no discussion of same-sex assaults or even girls being the aggressors, said Baum, who is gay.

    “If I go on a date with another girl, I also have to make sure there is clear consent and clear boundaries,” she said. “It goes both ways.”

  59. blf says

    Presumably yet another case of confusing anti-apartheid with antisemitism, Author Kamila Shamsie stripped of literary award over BDS support:

    German city rescinds Nelly Sachs Prize from British-Pakistani author, citing her support of the pro-Palestine movement.

    The German city of Dortmund has withdrawn its decision to award a British-Pakistani writer a literature prize, citing her support for the pro-Palestinian [sic] Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

    Acclaimed novelist Kamila Shamsie was announced as this year’s winner of the Nelly Sachs Prize — named after a Jewish poet — in honour of her literary work earlier this month.

    But the eight-member jury decided to cancel its original vote […]

    […]

    Shamsie’s political positioning to actively participate in the cultural boycott as part of the BDS (Boycott Disinvestment Sanctions) campaign against the Israeli government is clearly in contradiction to the statutory objectives of the award and the spirit of the Nelly Sachs Prize, the statement added.

    Kudos to the committee for, at least in the quoted excerpt above, not confusing the anti-apartheid BDS with either antisemitism (the usual transparent lie) or anti-Israel / pro-Palestine (a mistake Al Jazeera made in this very article!). BDS is targeting the Israeli government’s policies

    Reacting to the jury’s decision, Shamsie said it was a “matter of outrage that the BDS movement that campaigns against the government of Israel for its acts of discrimination and brutality against Palestinians should be held up as something shameful and unjust”.

    […]

    The BDS movement was launched in 2005 by Palestinians to generate international pressure on Israel to respect Palestinian human rights.

    Supporters say the effort draws from the anti-apartheid campaign in South Africa in the 1980s and the earlier African American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

    […]

    Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge doesn’t have much on the Nelly Sachs Preis, and claims “It honours authors for outstanding literary contributions to the promotion of understanding between peoples.” Presuming that is a correct summation of the prize, then I don’t see how supporting, participating in, or even writing in support of BDS, could be construed as contradicting the award’s objectives. Yes, her work wouldn’t be available in Israel, but that is not due to its content — it’s due to many people objecting to the Israeli government’s apartheid policies.

    There’s also, perhaps, a question of funding. I.e., follow the money… Does the Israeli government, or one of their proxies, help to fund the prize? (I have no idea.)

  60. blf says

    Something of a follow-up to there’s no press here @42, Press opportunity: Johnson’s most awkward moments with hecklers (so far) (minor changes to the formatting (not marked)):

    […]
    ● Rotherham: […] “Get back to parliament” shouted [charity worker] Ben Gilchrist. […]

    ● Doncaster: Earlier [the same day] a woman in Doncaster market berated Johnson about austerity and accused him of telling “fairy tales” about Brexit. She said: “Where’s the money coming from now then? All you’re going to do is put the same amount of police on the streets as what you’ve took off.” […]

    ● Wakefield: Johnson’s attempt to use police recruits as a backdrop for a political speech backfired […]

    ● Morley, Leeds: An older man was filmed shaking Johnson’s hand on a walkabout in the Morley area of Leeds on 5 September. Broadcast microphones picked him up politely saying “please leave my town”. […]
    Moments later another man told the PM: “you should be in Brussels negotiating”. Johnson said: We are negotiating. The man replied “You are not. You are in Morley, in Leeds. You are playing games.”

    ● Luxembourg: [see @5 & @8]

  61. says

    Pete Buttigieg: “I was in high school when Columbine happened. Years have passed, yet the only thing Washington politicians do consistently is fail to deliver. We owe it to our children to give them back their childhoods. We need leaders ready to deliver that change now.”

    Oh, knock it off with the “Washington politicians.” Say who you mean. “Washington politicians” should be Moscow Mitch McConnell. “Congress” should be Republicans. Democrats have been fighting this for years, and passed legislation in the house almost immediately after they took control of the House. These generic terms are misleading. Also, this is pretty rich coming from someone who attacked Beto O’Rourke’s principled stance on this very issue just a few days ago.

  62. says

    Maddow reporting (I’m on a short delay – making a channa, got a phone call – also explains “passed legislation in the house almost immediately after they took control of the House”) that the whistleblower scandal involves Trump’s communications with a “foreign leader” and an alleged promise Trump made to said leader by phone.

  63. says

    From a few huors ago: “JUST IN: The Acting Director of National Intelligence will testify publicly before the House Intel committee on Sept 26 in relation to the whistleblower complaint received by ODNI. The Intel community inspector general will testify in closed session tomorrow, per @RepAdamSchiff.”

  64. says

    Here’s the WaPo article – “Trump’s communications with foreign leader are part of whistleblower complaint that spurred standoff between spy chief and Congress, former officials say”:

    The whistleblower complaint that has triggered a tense showdown between the U.S. intelligence community and Congress involves President Trump’s communications with a foreign leader, according to two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

    Trump’s interaction with the foreign leader included a “promise” that was regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community, said the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

    It was not immediately clear which foreign leader Trump was speaking with or what he pledged to deliver, but his direct involvement in the matter has not been previously disclosed. It raises new questions about the president’s handling of sensitive information and may further strain his relationship with U.S. spy agencies. One former official said the communication was a phone call.

    The White House declined to comment. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a lawyer representing the whistleblower declined to comment.

    Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson determined that the complaint was credible and troubling enough to be considered a matter of “urgent concern,” a legal threshold that ordinarily requires notification of congressional oversight committees.

    But acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to share details about Trump’s alleged transgression with lawmakers, touching off a legal and political dispute that has spilled into public and prompted speculation that the spy chief is improperly protecting the president.

    The dispute is expected to escalate Thursday when Atkinson is scheduled to appear before the House Intelligence Committee in a classified session closed to the public [9 AM ET – SC]. The hearing is the latest move by committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) to compel U.S. intelligence officials to disclose the full details of the whistleblower complaint to Congress.

    Maguire has agreed to testify before the committee next week, according to a statement by Schiff. He declined to comment for this story.

    The complaint was filed with Atkinson’s office on Aug. 12, a date on which Trump was at his golf resort in New Jersey. White House records indicate that Trump had had conversations or interactions with at least five foreign leaders in the preceding five weeks.

    Among them was a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin that the White House initiated on July 31. Trump also received at least two letters from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during the summer, describing them as “beautiful” messages. In June, Trump said publicly that he was opposed to certain CIA spying operations against North Korea. Referring to a Wall Street Journal report that the agency had recruited Kim’s half-brother, Trump said, “I would tell him that would not happen under my auspices.”

    Trump met with other foreign leaders at the White House in July, including the prime minister of Pakistan, the prime minister of the Netherlands, and the emir of Qatar.

    The dispute has put Maguire, thrust into the DNI job in an acting capacity with the resignation of Daniel Coats last month, at the center of a politically perilous conflict with constitutional implications.

    Defenders of Maguire disputed that he is subverting legal requirements to protect Trump, saying that he is trapped in a legitimate legal predicament and that he has made his displeasure clear to officials at the Justice Department and White House.

    It was unclear whether the whistleblower witnessed Trump’s communication with the foreign leader or learned of it through other means. Summaries of such conversations are often distributed among White House staff, although the administration imposed new limits on this practice after Trump’s disclosures to Russian officials were revealed.

  65. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Brexit liveblog. Today is the last day of arguments about the prorogation of Parliament in the Supreme Court. From their quote from a Press Association document about the possible outcomes:

    The second possible outcome is that the court could find the suspension was unlawful and that the recall of parliament before October 14 is the “only option lawfully open to the prime minister”.

    In this scenario, the document states Johnson would comply with the terms of the ruling, but that it would also be “open to the court to consider whether to make a mandatory order”.

    However, Johnson’s lawyers urge the court to consider the “very serious practical consequences” as the recall of parliament would require a meeting of the privy council and a new Queen’s speech.

    The document continues: “A Queen’s speech, and the state opening of Parliament which accompanies it, is a significant political, constitutional and ceremonial occasion, which ordinarily involves the Sovereign attending in person.

    “As the court will be well aware, the proper preparations for a Queen’s speech are a matter of thoroughgoing importance, including in relation to the content of that speech.

    “Extensive arrangements would have to be made, including as to security, to enable this to occur.

    “These considerations lead to the need for any order that the court makes, if necessary, to allow for these steps relating to the earlier meeting of parliament to occur in an orderly fashion.”

    Really have to marvel at the cheek of people supposedly frantic about the “proper preparations” and “extensive arrangements” required for a Queen’s speech like they’re the staff at Downton Abbey at the same time they’re scheming for a no-deal fucking Brexit.

  66. says

    Dominic Casciani:

    Lord Pannick: “The remedy we seek is that the PM’s advice to Her Majesty was unlawful. We respectfully ask the court to make such a declaration as soon as possible becuase time is of the essence.”

    He asks the court to ensure that its judgement ensures that Parliament can sit NEXT WEEK.

    Pannick: The appropriate way forward is to let Parliament sort out the problem – but it can only do so if the Court first grants a declaration that the advice was unlawful.

    Lord Pannick is trying to insulate the judges from a “poliical” decison. He argues that a simple LEGAL declaration of unlawfulness would be enough for the Speakers of the Commons and Lords to know what to do next POLITICALLY. It keeps the judges out of politics.

    Lord Kerr asks if the Prime MInister would actually have to do anything at all?

    Lord Pannick says he would not.

    More in the thread at the link.

  67. says

    From the G:

    Lady Hale, president of the court, thanks the court staff and everyone else involved in the case.

    She stresses what she said at the opening of the case – that this hearing will not decide whether or how the UK leaves the EU.

    She says the court hopes to be able to publish its decision “early next week”.

    And that’s it.

  68. says

    Trump tweeted: “Another Fake News story out there – It never ends! Virtually anytime I speak on the phone to a foreign leader, I understand that there may be many people listening from various U.S. agencies, not to mention those from the other country itself. No problem!

    ….Knowing all of this, is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially ‘heavily populated’ call. I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!”

    I wouldn’t ordinarily quote it, but I am because these tweets illustrate how we’re dealing with a stupid criminal. “Does anyone think I’d be careless enough not to dispose of the evidence? And I wouldn’t kill my brother anyway.” (Trump used a similar argument when he claimed that he knew he was being watched when he went to Russia, despite the fact that he was recorded telling Howard Stern about his Russian escapades.) He’s also basically making an argument on behalf of congress getting the information.

  69. says

    Gantz still fumbles with some of the words in his statement but Likud’s campaign won’t be making videos laughing at him anymore. He’s looking prime ministerial and he swatted away Netanyahu’s ‘bloc of 55’ tactic quite effectively. Importantly, he made it clear he won’t be rushed.

    For the first time, Gantz is negotiating from a position of strength. He knows Netanyahu is under pressure and barely mentions him. He just says ‘we will stand by our well-known principles’ meaning no to a prime minister facing corruption charges. He’s growing in to the role.”

    Final results still not in.

  70. says

    McConnell has Biden wrapped around his finger. In 2013, Biden said he wanted to see McConnell re-elected. McConnell will play Biden like a fiddle. Dems will get nothing done and Republicans will surge right back to power, paving the way for a Trump 2.0 to win the White House.” – Adam Jentleson, former Dep. CoS to Harry Reid

    McConnell in 2010: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Biden in 2013: “Mitch, we want to see you come back [after the 2014 elections].”

  71. says

    NEW: The whistleblower is being represented by Andrew P. Bakaj, a former CIA officer.
    Others familiar with the whistleblower’s complaint have confirmed to @politico that it involves the president’s communications.”

  72. says

    Brian Beutler had the same thought I did @ #159 above: “…To drop the coy act, my irresponsible speculation is that Trump promised to hand over that spy we exfiltrated, the outing of the spy was an effort to protect the spy, and Trump’s muttering about his distaste for using spies was laying the predicate to order this one returned.”

    Thread with timeline at the link.

  73. says

    New: A DOJ official says it was the Office of Legal Counsel that advised DNI not to disclose the whistleblower complaint to Congress. No word yet whether Barr was directly involved.”

    Why is the OLC involved? Barr?! WTF?!

  74. says

    9/12: “Trump finalizes repeal of Obama-era clean water rule.” [CNBC]

    9/17: “Trump administration allows pork slaughterhouses to have fewer USDA inspectors”: “The new rule also allows plants to run their processing lines as fast as they like.” [NBC]

    9/18: “Trump moves to kill California’s clean car standards”: “Part of his larger attempt to roll back the current federal emissions rule.” [The Verge]

    9/18: “Trump says EPA to issue notice to San Francisco on homeless”: “U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will issue a notice in less than a week to the city of San Francisco over its homelessness problem and attendant pollution.” [Reuters]

  75. says

    Adam Schiff is doing a press conference right now. He just read from a sentence from the ICIG’s letter, about how the complaint relates to one of the “most serious” areas of the DNI’s responsibility to the American people” (paraphrasing from memory). The ICIG determined that the complaint was of “urgent concern.” The complaint was originally made more than a month ago.

  76. says

    SC @171, William “Trump Toadie” Barr.

    I heard Ken Dilanian say that the White House had been consulted, and that it was the White House that said to take the whistleblower complaint to Trump Toadie Barr. That was the White House asking, once again, for William Barr to protect Trump.

  77. says

    SC @163, “is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader.” Yes, almost everyone believes Trump is dumb enough to do that. He has done it before (to Russians, in the oval office, after firing Comey, for example).

    Andrea Mitchell played a clip of Trump doing something similar very recently, when Trump went to the border and put his signature on a border slat. Trump said something about electrifying the border slats and an official there told him it was better not to talk about that.

  78. says

    Followup to comment 177.

    Trump visited the border yesterday, taking a look at new barriers that replaced old barriers, and bragging about his administration’s efforts. As Politico noted, however, the president was so enthusiastic in his boasts that the Republican had to be “gently reprimanded by his hosts in charge of construction.”

    “One thing we haven’t mentioned is technology,” Trump said. “They’re wired so that we will know if somebody’s trying to break through.” He then offered the floor to Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, acting head of the Army Corps, who quickly answered: “Sir, there could be some merit in not discussing that.”

    But Trump wasn’t done.

    Fortifying the wall even more, he said, was the fact that the steel wall’s beams are heat conductors. “It’s designed to absorb heat, so it’s extremely hot,” he said. “You won’t be able to touch it. You can fry an egg on that wall.”

    “Sir, there could be some merit in not discussing that” is one of those great phrases that’s emblematic of a larger truth. Trump, as president, is privy to the most sensitive information in the world, but he’s still a clumsy amateur lacking a filter. […]

    Link

    So, not “electrifying the fence” as I said earlier, but having technology that will alert border patrol when someone is trying to break through.

  79. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 144.

    […] Secretary of State Mike Pompeo yesterday recommended that everyone look at reality with their heads tilted:

    Pompeo defended this approach to reporters traveling with him to Saudi Arabia, saying, “There is this theme that some suggest that the president’s strategy that we allowed isn’t working. I would argue just the converse of that. I would argue that what you are seeing here is a direct result of us reversing the enormous failure of the JCPOA.”

    He was referring to the formal name of the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

    This is an amazingly bad argument for two reasons. The first, obviously, is that the JCPOA wasn’t failing at all. In fact, Trump knew it wasn’t failing because his own team told him in 2017 that it was working exactly as intended — leading the president to have “a bit of a meltdown.”

    Trump didn’t want to be told the truth; he wanted to be told his false assumptions were correct. Pompeo may want to believe the JCPOA wasn’t working, but his bogus assertions don’t make it so.

    Second, as Business Insider’s report added, Pompeo’s comments gave away a bit more than the cabinet secretary probably intended. The Kansas Republican, who has accused Iran of being responsible for an attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities over the weekend, specifically told reporters that we’re now seeing the “direct result” of the Trump administration’s policy on the Iran deal.

    Or put another way, had the Republican White House not “reversed” course on the JCPOA policy, we wouldn’t see Iran becoming increasingly dangerous.

    Pompeo clearly hasn’t thought this through.

    Link

  80. blf says

    In Ozland (from the Graudian’s most recent Ozland blog, quoted in full):

    Coalition MP to climate strike students: Everything you are told is a lie

    No one:

    Absolutely no one:

    Not a single soul:

    Craig Kelly: I understand how persuasive that peer group pressure can be for teenagers and their desire to conform and fit in with the crowd.

    However, I would say to any student considering joining the so-called climate protest, don’t be a sheep and think for yourself because you are being used and manipulated and everything you are told is a lie.

    The facts are, there is no link between climate change and drought. Polar bears are increasing in number. Today’s generation is safer from extreme weather at any time in human history.

    There is no 97% consensus. Such claims are a fraud. Crop yields have increased remarkably, wildfires have declined 25% over the past two decades, we are seeing less cyclones, not more.

    Cold weather kills many times more than hot weather, including here in Australia. The sea ice is not melting away.

    In fact, where the ill-fated Franklin expedition sailed in 1845, this year is blocked by thick sea ice.

    Renewables ain’t renewable and they certainly don’t make electricity cheaper. And if you are worried about sea level rise, I suggest that you get some old photos of Fort Denison, get the tide gauge data and go and have a look for yourself.

    Don’t take my word. I encourage all students in my electorate to study the science and learn for themselves.

    According to Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge, Kelly has form (and lots of it), including praising nazis (real ones from the WW ][ era); asserted the conviction of child rapist George Pell of the raping children cult was a grave miscarriage of justice, and the media a lynch mob; and much more, all(?) quite odious. I presume he gets numerous bags of cash frequently (follow the money…).

    And as a reminder — this is what caused Kelly to rant — tomorrow, Friday 20th September, is Global Climate Strike day.

  81. says

    From Josh Marshall:

    […] We don’t know they’re connected.

    July 28th: Trump announces Dan Coats will step down as Director of National Intelligence and leave government on August 15th.

    July 31st: Trump initiates phone call with Putin. The White House only acknowledged the call after the Kremlin announced it.

    August 8th: Trump announces that Sue Gordon, Coats’ deputy who would normally take over as acting DNI, is resigning and will leave her job on August 15th.

    August 12th: Whistleblower files complaint with intelligence community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

    August 15th: Coats and Gordon leave government.

    August 20th: Trump again calls for Russia to be allowed to rejoin the G7 group of industrialized nations.

    August 26th: Atkinson submits whistleblower complaint to acting DNI Maguire. Maguire consults with the Department of Justice which instructs him not to share the information with Congress.

    September 9th: Atkinson informed Congress of existence of whistleblower complaint which he had determined met the legal threshold of “urgent concern” without revealing its contents.

    September 10th: House Intelligence Committee under Chairman Schiff formally requests whistleblower complaint from acting Director of National Intelligence Maguire, threatens legal action.

    As you can see we have three separate progressions, which may or may not be connected: the forced resignations of Coats and Gordon, communications with Putin and the timeline of the whistleblower complaint. One point I will note is that Coats and Gordon remained in government for three days after the complaint was made. But it’s not clear that the complaint would have been shared beyond the IG’s office before they left on August 15th.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/potential-timeline-of-events

  82. says

    Related to comments 179 and 181.

    From readers comments:

    Well, he certainly is dumb enough to be completely unaware that he had said something inappropriate. The empirical evidence for this is overwhelming.
    ——————–
    We’ve moved from a lie-per-day to a scandal-per-day to a corrupt-act-per-day to a criminal-act-per-day to a full-blown Constitutional crisis per day.
    ——————–
    If this sits in the dark for too long Trump and the GOP WILL define the narrative of this ‘scandal’ just like they did with Muller report, kavanaugh and every other scandal the Dems slow walk. You have to beat them by surprise! You can not let the GOP get out ahead of a story, since the GOP can manipulate the narrative, the language press uses in it’s reporting and the people so much better than the Dems
    ————————
    This is truly amazing stuff. Tweetapotomus is actually arguing that it’s utterly unfathomable that he’d say something dumb. I’m going to be flying around in my ROFLcopter all fucking day on this one.
    ———————-
    He’s already trotted out “presidential harassment” on his twitter feed.

  83. blf says

    johnson catman@184 (re @180), “does Kelly just say exactly the opposite of what reality shows?”

    YES, That’s certainly how I read it!
    Minor quibble, his first quoted sentence, “I understand how persuasive that peer group pressure can be for teenagers and their desire to conform and fit in with the crowd”, might actually be true-ish, as in not completely inverted reality. But on the more substantive points, it is perhaps the most denialist, evidence-free inverted reality absurdity I’ve ever seen. Also largely fact-free, with the few facts mentioned (e.g., 97% consensus (now about 99% consensus, ‘No doubt left’ about scientific consensus on global warming, say experts)) denied or(? and?) misunderstood or misstated.

  84. says

    AP – “UNC-Duke program too positive on Islam, Trump officials say”:

    The Trump administration is threatening to cut funding for a Middle East studies program run by the University of North Carolina and Duke University, arguing that it’s misusing a federal grant to advance “ideological priorities” and unfairly promote “the positive aspects of Islam” but not Christianity or Judaism.

    An Aug. 29 letter from the U.S. Education Department orders the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies to revise its offerings by Sept. 22 or risk losing future funding from a federal grant that’s awarded to dozens of universities to support foreign language instruction. The consortium received $235,000 from the grant last year, according to Education Department data.

    Officials at Duke and at UNC-Chapel Hill, which houses the consortium, declined to comment. The Education Department declined to say if it’s examining similar programs at other schools.

    Academic freedom advocates say the government could be setting a dangerous precedent if it injects politics into funding decisions. Some said they had never heard of the Education Department asserting control over such minute details of a program’s offerings.

    More than a dozen universities receive National Resource Center grants for their Middle East programs, including Columbia, Georgetown, Yale and the University of Texas. The Duke-UNC consortium was founded in 2005 and first received the grant nearly a decade ago.

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ordered an investigation into the program in June after North Carolina Rep. George Holding, a Republican, complained that it hosted a taxpayer-funded conference with “severe anti-Israeli bias and anti-Semitic rhetoric.” In a response to Holding, DeVos said she was “troubled” by his letter and would take a closer look at the consortium.

    The department’s findings did not directly address any bias against Israel but instead evaluated whether the consortium’s proposed activities met the goals of the National Resource Center program, which was created in 1965 to support language and culture initiatives that prepare students for careers in diplomacy and national security.

    Investigators concluded that the consortium intended to use federal money on offerings that are “plainly unqualified for taxpayer support,” adding that foreign language and national security instruction have “taken a back seat to other priorities.” The department cited several courses, conferences and academic papers that it says have “little or no relevance” to the grant’s goals.

    “Although a conference focused on ‘Love and Desire in Modem Iran’ and one focused on Middle East film criticism may be relevant in academia, we do not see how these activities support the development of foreign language and international expertise for the benefit of U.S. national security and economic stability,” the letter said.

    Investigators also saw a disconnect between the grant’s mission and some academic papers by scholars at the consortium. They objected to one paper titled “Performance, Gender-Bending and Subversion in the Early Modern Ottoman Intellectual History,” and another titled “Radical Love: Teachings from Islamic Mystical Tradition.”

    The letter accused the consortium of failing to provide a “balance of perspectives” on religion. It said there is “a considerable emphasis” placed on “understanding the positive aspects of Islam, while there is an absolute absence of any similar focus on the positive aspects of Christianity, Judaism or any other religion or belief system in the Middle East.”

    Jay Smith, a history professor at UNC and vice president of its chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said the letter amounts to “ideologically driven harassment.” He said the Education Department official who signed the letter, Robert King, “should stay in his lane and allow the experts to determine what constitutes a ‘full understanding’ of the Middle East.”…

    There were real area experts and institutions producing them in the US after World War II, but Hoover and McCarthy and their idiot friends made sure they were silenced, marginalized, or destroyed. Needless to say, this wasn’t beneficial to US education, diplomacy, or security.

  85. says

    Guardian – “Rambo: Last Blood review – Stallone storms Mexico in a laughable Trumpian fantasy”:

    This massively enlarged prostate of a film can only make you wince with its badly acted geronto-ultraviolence, its Trumpian fantasies of Mexican rapists and hilariously insecure US border, and its crass enthusiasm for rape-revenge attacks undertaken by a still-got-it senior dude, 73 years young, on behalf of a sweet teenager. The film, co-written by Sylvester Stallone, imagines this demure young woman having her face slashed by an assailant but the field is left clear for a stag payback showdown; there is no question of her taking her own retributive action.

    Stallone’s own impassive face, now like a sculpture created by Picasso out of a Firestone tyre, presides enigmatically over the proceedings and his indistinct line readings would not get him very far in rep. His announcement of “I want you to feel my rage and my hate; I want to rip out your heart!” comes out more like “Ug wuff yuh tahfarr m’range an mayayyht, ug wuff trip ertcha heurr!”

    In the likable Creed movies, Stallone had found a way for his legendary boxing champ Rocky Balboa to bow out with humour and humility: as a trainer. But there is no such style in this new Rambo film, the fifth in the franchise, which despite its name may not be the last:…

  86. says

    Susan Simpson:

    I know there’s a lot of plausible speculation that the whistleblower’s complaint relates to Trump’s July 31st call with Putin, but after reading the IG’s letter, I’m more concerned about Trump’s July 25th call with Ukraine’s President Zelensky.

    The White House’s readout of the July 25th call contained nothing of substance, but Ukraine’s readout noted that Trump was focused on Ukraine’s ability to “complete investigations into corruption cases that have hampered Ukraine-US cooperation.”

    There is only one way this reference can realistically be interpreted: during the call between Trump and Zelensky, Trump expressed his desire that Ukraine carry out a criminal investigation into his political opponent, former VP Joe Biden.

    The day following this call, US Special Rep Volker had his own meeting with President Zelensky. And, a few days after that, Trump’s personal attorney Giuliani flew to the Spanish countryside for a secret meeting with Zelensky’s right-hand man, Yermak.

    Per NYT, the whistleblower’s complaint is about a series of events that includes, but is not limited to, a statement made by Trump to a foreign leader. That could suggest that whatever Trump promised on the call was later followed up on by other agents. [link at the link – SC]

    Under this hypothetical scenario, Trump wouldn’t need to make inappropriate promises over a call. Instead, Trump would just need to say something that would confirm for Zelesky that, later, when Trump’s agents make promises to Ukraine in secret, they do so on his knowing behalf.

  87. blf says

    John Crace in the Grauniad snarks abiout the third day of hearings at teh NKofE’s supine kangaroo, Supreme court hears masterly prorogation defence: don’t sweat it:

    Lord Keen’s experience with honest criminals proves poor training for working with narcissists and sociopaths

    I’m sticking my neck out here: I’m guessing that telling the supreme court in advance that you might just ignore its decision if you lose and go ahead and prorogue parliament a second time isn’t necessarily the best way of endearing yourself to the 11 judges. Shove your verdict where the sun don’t shine. Whatevs. But I’m not the prime minister.

    Spare a thought then for Lord Keen, who was tasked with summing up for the government’s appeal against the Scottish court’s decision that it had acted unlawfully, when his client had gone rogue. These haven’t been a great three days for Keen. Ones he will be keen to erase from his memory. Admittedly Boris Johnson had dealt him a rubbish hand, but he still hasn’t played it that well.

    On the first day of the hearing he had appeared almost comatose as he mumbled and meandered through his opening speech. This time he was rather better prepared. At lunch, one of his juniors had injected a massive shot of adrenaline directly into his heart to at least render him awake. Total coherence was still tantalisingly out of reach. Perhaps it was beyond anyone in his position.

    Keen’s basic point was that the court should try not to worry its pretty little head about anything. The difference between dissolution and prorogation was more apparent than real and justiciability was not worthy of the judges’ consideration. Whether the suspension of parliament had been taken for legitimate or illegitimate reasons was also neither here nor there. In any case, who could doubt that the Incredible Sulk was a man of the highest integrity? Boris had always promised to lie and he had been as good as his word. So their lords and ladies should just take time out and put their feet up over the weekend rather than sweat the small stuff.

    Not surprisingly, the judges weren’t overly impressed by Keen’s assertion that the documents were both straightforward and could also be read in a variety of ways, and pressed him to reveal what remedies the government had in mind if the decision went against it. Here Keen rather fell apart. He was used to dealing with honest criminals. People who at least knew the difference between right and wrong.

    Now he was in a looking-glass world of narcissists and sociopaths. Politicians and advisers who could literally not be trusted to dress themselves in the morning. […]

    […] Keen was about to be shown up yet again by Lord Pannick, who delivered a closing speech that was even more devastating and forensic than his opening one. Piece by piece, he disassembled Keen’s argument. First on the facts. If the Sulk had really just intended to deliver a Queen’s speech on 14 October rather than stop parliament sitting, he could have prorogued on 7 October. […]

    Pannick even observed that one of the bills Keen — the poor, poor love — had been working so hard on in the Lords would now fall because of the prorogation. Keen looked as if he wanted to throw up. His own failures he could just about live with. Being patted on the head by his opposite number was an insult too far. Keen, though, was just collateral damage in Pannick’s drive-by shooting. Having left Keen to exsanguinate, Pannick took aim at James Eadie’s arguments on the law itself. The back of Eadie’s neck turned a bright crimson. He was so busted. Definitely a man you would want to play poker against.

    All of which rather overshadowed a morning that had been notable for Michael Fordham using his encyclopaedic knowledge of case law to argue against the government’s position on behalf of Wales. He was heard without a single interruption. Largely, one assumed, because the judges were worried he knew the law better than them.

    Next up had been Edward Garnier speaking for John Major. We’re beyond the world of satire when a former Tory prime minister can accuse the present one of being less trustworthy than a dodgy estate agent. An allegation that seemed rather harsh on dodgy estate agents. The constitution might be based on the assumption of a conscientious prime minister, Garnier said, but the judges should be aware they were dealing with a reckless one.

    […]

    Some readers’s comments:

    ● “I would pay a fortune, an enormous fortune to see Rees Mogg plonked in front of 11 SC judges and interrogated. And the resulting conflagration would be soundtracked by Ode to Joy.”

    ● “I don’t envy Keen. He has to sell a shit sandwich to the Court and ask them not to judge the taste of the sandwich itself but rather whether said shit was legally applied in said sandwich.
    Was the correct implement used? Did they butter the bread? All the while trying not to wince at the stench.”

    ● “Well, give Johnston his due. He is going to deliver Scottish independence, break up the UK, deliver some kind of Brexit, and in so doing reduce England to the status of Portugal, possibly split the tory party, introduce against his will a written constitution for England — basically, there is no end to the good things this clown will inadvertently produce. Good on him.” (Some pushback on the slur to Portugal…)

    ● “He didn’t have much to work with did Keen,
    Johnson and his statement were nowhere to be seen, and he’d just left it up to this chap Keen with a “yeah make it up – chin up old bean” and Keen, trying not to be obscene, said stuff about how you can say owt to the queen, to prorogue any time is just the machine. But O’Neill he was beautifully supreme. I hope this is not a just dream and on Monday we can all hear Cummings scream, as his plans unravel at the seam.”

    ● “Meanwhile, in the Brexit deal non-negotiations, the government is presenting non-papers, containing non-solutions to the backstop, as a prelude to non-action.”

    ● “As someone so aptly put it on Twitter today: ‘The voice of Lord Pannick is the sound of nails being swiftly hammered into the coffin of the governments case.'”

  88. johnson catman says

    re SC @191: UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University both reside in the more liberal Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill Triangle area of North Carolina. George Holding is a fucking asshole republican of the worst kind, and he hates the liberal areas of the state and anything liberal or democratic in general. Of course he would love to defund a program like this. The republicans in the state of NC will lie, cheat, subvert, gerrymander, and definitely suppress votes to get their way. The voting for the US House of Representatives in 2018 was nearly evenly split between D’s and R’s, but the R’s ended up with 11 of the 13 seats because of the partisan gerrymandering that SCOTUS would not address. At least the State Superior Court forced the redrawing of state districts for the NC Legislature, so hopefully the stranglehold will begin to be removed. We can only hope.

  89. says

    Lisa Goldman:

    This is the second ‘graf in a profile of Carole Cadwalladr. It was pub’d in The Atlantic. I am trying to imagine anyone writing a profile of a famous, prominent, award-winning *male* journalist that referred to him as “a hysterical middle-aged conspiracy theorist.”

    [screenshot at the lin – SC]

    How did this dismissive editorializing language about a woman get past the editors of a supposedly liberal publication? Quoting Andrew Neil calling her a “mad cat woman,” too. FFS.

    Whole paragraph should be used as an example in journalism schools.

  90. says

    Jason Catman @ #198, the NC Republicans are the worst. Occasionally, the Pennsylvania or Wisconsin or Florida Republicans will do something truly odious and I’ll briefly think there’s competition for the top spot, but no, the NC Republicans have got it. If I lived there, I’d be in a constant state of rage.

  91. blf says

    In the Onion, School Shooter Thankfully Stopped Before Doing Enough Damage To Restart National Gun Debate:

    Praising those who had leapt into action to prevent the incident from escalating, relieved authorities announced Wednesday that they had thankfully stopped a school shooter before he did enough damage to restart the national gun debate. “We’re all certainly glad that the shooter was only able to kill two students and injure a teacher before law enforcement arrived and prevented it from becoming a full-blown national dialogue,” said police chief Walter McMurray, adding that his department’s quick response ensured that tens of millions of Americans could sleep soundly knowing that they’d never have to discuss this particular shooting. […] At press time, authorities responding to an unrelated incident in Georgia expressed how thankful they were that the shooting that killed seven people and wounded nearly a dozen others at least didn’t occur in a school.

    And, Pompeo To Increase Bombing In Afghanistan After Figuring They’ll Miss And Hit Iran At Some Point:

    Explaining how human error or inaccuracy of the weaponry should eventually produce the desired result, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly ordered the military Thursday to increase bombing in Afghanistan after figuring that they’ll miss and hit Iran at some point. “I am ordering a sustained bombing offensive in Afghanistan since there’s a really good chance that if we launch enough missiles, one of them has to veer off course and eventually strike Iran,” said Pompeo, adding that they are going to make sure to put their most inept military commanders in charge of the air attacks and just wait until one ballistic missile deviates and destroys a residential neighborhood in the Islamic Republic. […]

    That second Onion excerpt is uncomfortably close to what has happened, US drone strike intended for Isis hideout kills 30 pine nut workers in Afghanistan:

    Forty were also injured in the Wednesday attack which struck farmers and labourers who just finished work, Afghan officials say

    […]

    “The workers had lit a bonfire and were sitting together when a drone targeted them,” tribal elder Malik Rahat Gul told Reuters by telephone from Wazir Tangi.

    Afghanistan’s defence ministry and a senior US official in Kabul confirmed the drone strike […]

    Haidar Khan, who owns the pine nut fields, said about 150 workers were there for harvesting, with some still missing as well as the confirmed dead and injured.

    A survivor of the drone strike said about 200 labourers were sleeping in five tents pitched near the farm when the attack happened.

    […]

    Angry residents of Nangarhar province demanded an apology and monetary compensation from the US government.

    “Such mistakes cannot be justified. American forces must realise {they} will never win the war by killing innocent civilians,” said Javed Mansur, who lives in Jalalabad city.

    […]

    The United Nations says nearly 4,000 civilians were killed or wounded in the first half of the year. That included a big increase in casualties inflicted by government and US-led foreign forces.

  92. blf says

    Outcry at Indonesia draft criminal code that could see unmarried couples jailed:

    […]
    Indonesia is set to pass a new criminal code that could outlaw living together outside marriage, extramarital sex and insulting the president, among a raft of changes that rights groups have decried as disastrous.

    The Indonesian parliament has spent decades revising its colonial-era criminal code, creating a 628-article draft bill that could be passed in coming days.

    Containing a series of contentious new revisions, a coalition of Indonesian rights groups argue the new code violates the rights of women, religious minorities and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, as well as freedom of speech and association.

    “Indonesia’s draft criminal code is disastrous not only for women and religious and gender minorities, but for all Indonesians,” said Andreas Harsono, senior Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, “Lawmakers should remove all the abusive articles before passing the law.”

    […]

    A separate article states that couples living together outside marriage could be sentenced to six months in prison, an offence that can be reported by a village head, while another specifies that only health professionals and “competent volunteers” can discuss contraception and family planning.

    “The bill’s provisions censoring information about contraception could set back the progress Indonesia has made in recent years to dramatically reduce maternal deaths,” Harsono said.

    Subsequent articles state that only doctors have the right to decide on abortions. Under the draft law, a woman who has unlawfully terminated her pregnancy could face four years in prison.

    [… T]he new draft further recognises any living law, which could be interpreted to include local sharia or customary laws at the local level, of which there are hundreds across the country that discriminate against women, LGBT people and religious minorities.

    The new code also looks set to rollback Indonesia’s notable press freedoms by making it a criminal offence to insult the president and vice president.

    […]

    The new code will further expand the existing blasphemy law, and outlines a 10-year prison term for associating with organisations that follow a Marxist-Leninist ideology.

  93. says

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “Whenever you report about them, and you say, ‘The Houthis said,’ you should say ‘The well known frequently lying Houthis have said the following.’ This is important because you ought not report them as if these truth-tellers, as if these are people who aren’t completely under the boot of the Iranians … […]

    “So there you go, whenever you say Houthis, you should begin with ‘the well-known, frequently known to lie Houthis,’ and then you can write whatever it is they say. And that’d be good reporting (laughter) and I know you care deeply about that good reporting.”

  94. says

    Michael McFaul just now on The Beat: “I don’t understand why the DNI is talking to the Attorney General about intelligence matters.” Exactly! What the hell? Why did Maguire bring them into this at all?

  95. johnson catman says

    re Lynna @205: I ONLY WISH that the US media would begin every reference to the Orange Toddler-Tyrant with “The well-known, frequently known to lie Trump said . . .”.

  96. blf says

    Starting basically now the Grauniad is live-blogging today’s (Friday 20th) Global Climate Stirke:

    For the next 24 hours, the Guardian will be reporting in real time on the wave of climate strikes as they ripple around the world, starting in the Asia-Pacific region and continuing through Europe and Africa before culminating in the Americas.

    Millions of young people are expected to turn out in more than 3,000 events worldwide, in this latest edition of the Fridays For Future strikes. On this occasion, adults have been invited to join in and companies, organisations, trade unions, even churches are expected to join the fray.

    […]

  97. blf says

    More climate catastrophe denialism nonsense in Ozland, Eric Abetz compares The Conversation to Nazis over stance on climate change denial:

    [… S]enator Eric Abetz has compared the Conversation website to Hitler, Stalin and Mao, after it announced a zero-tolerance approach to climate change deniers.

    The academic news and analysis website has said it will remove comments and lock accounts that put forward those views, outraging the Tasmanian senator.

    Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong couldn’t have put it better themselves. They’d be so proud, he told parliament.

    To so superciliously and arrogantly deny a voice to an alternative point of view is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes.

    The editor of The Conversation, Misha Ketchell, said the academic website was committed to presenting peer-reviewed rigorous science no matter what perspectives they represent.

    “We are not silencing commenters altogether,” Ketchell told Guardian Australia. “They have had several years in which they have been able to post those comments on our website.

    “They’ve been doing it for a number of years and because the arguments haven’t changed and the evidence hasn’t changed we think they’ve had ample opportunity to have their say.

    “We’re really committed to presenting the evidence accurately in a way that keeps readers informed and we believe the evidence comes from accurate experts who know what they’re talking about and not people who are peddling individual opinions.

    “We don’t think it’s appropriate to give those opinions similar weight.”

    In a blog post, Ketchell said people peddling pseudoscience were perpetuating ideas that would ultimately destroy the planet.

    Abetz, who describes himself as a climate change agnostic, said environmental prophets of doom had been getting it wrong for half a century.

    This ugly, unscientific, totalitarian, arrogant approach taken by the Conversation is the exact opposite to the principles of scientific endeavour.

    He said the lesson of history was that truth would ultimately prevail.

    The Conversation can stop the conversation, but it cannot stop the march of inquiring minds that will ultimately determine this issue, Abetz said.

  98. blf says

    Perhaps we need to explain climate change to politicians as we would to very small children:

    [… I]gnorance, particularly wilful and entrenched ignorance, is a much harder rock to smash. A fundamental tenet of the scientific method is that there is never certainty in science, only observation, experimentation, hypothesis refinement and the empirical accumulation of evidence. Our past and present leaders exploit that fact, warning of the dangers of scientific consensus as if it reeks of climate conspiracists.

    Yes, there have been warmer periods and colder periods in the geologic record and while the effects may be similar, the various causes over time differ. Tony Abbott recently stated that despite there being no humans around in the Jurassic to burn stuff and produce carbon dioxide, incredibly, the climate was even warmer then — ergo manmade climate change is absolute crap. He failed to comprehend the other mitigating factors, like the volcanoes in the southern hemisphere spewing out gases, including, wait for it … carbon dioxide. Our Earth is immensely complex and scientists the world over are doing their best to understand it. So when they form a consensus, we should listen.

    Perhaps we need to explain climate change to sceptical politicians as we would to very small children. Here, let me try. The sun is very, very hot. Heat comes from the sun and enters the Earth’s atmosphere. But, some of that heat bounces off the Earth and heads back out to space. And before the heat escapes off into space, gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, capture and absorb it. Consequently, the atmosphere heats up — warms if you will. More heat-absorbing gases in the atmosphere, the greater the impact. It’s really not rocket science, simply Earth science.

    […]

    While politicians debate the cause, and incredibly, even the validity of climate change, scientists are measuring the effect. Because that’s what scientists do, they measure, they experiment, and they learn. It’s been stated that children will learn nothing from attending climate rallies except how to join the unemployment queue and that is fundamentally wrong. On Friday, children at my kid’s school will spend the morning discussing the protest, what it is about, why it is important and what it is hoped will be achieved. They’ll learn about the atmosphere, hydrosphere and geosphere and how they interact with the biosphere — namely us.

    [… O]n Friday, schoolchildren will show that the present is the key to the future. And as a scientist, academic and a parent, I cannot be prouder that my children are standing up for their future.

  99. blf says

    Also in Ozland, ‘We declare our support for Extinction Rebellion’: an open letter from Australia’s academics:

    Leading academics from around the country say it is their moral duty to rebel to ‘defend life itself’

    We the undersigned represent diverse academic disciplines, and the views expressed here are those of the signatories and not their universities. While our academic perspectives and expertise may differ, we are united on one point: we can no longer tolerate the failure of the Australian government, or any other government, to take robust and urgent action to address the worsening ecological crisis.

    The science is clear, the facts are incontrovertible. We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with about 200 species becoming extinct each day. This includes many species of insects, some of which are essential to our food systems. Many people around the world have already died or been displaced from the effects of a rapidly warming climate. July 2019 was the Earth’s hottest on record. Arctic peat is burning and ice is melting at rates far beyond even the most radical scientific predictions. The Amazon is burning at an alarming rate. All are creating devastating feedback loops, releasing more CO2 and reducing the Earth’s heat reflecting capacities.

    Humans cannot continue to violate the fundamental laws of nature or ignore the basic science with impunity. […]

    […]

    Australia’s current climate policies and practices are dire. Rather than making the urgent structural changes necessary for a sustainable and just transition toward zero emissions, the Australian government is continuing to prop up and expand coal and other CO2-emitting industries. Australia is not even meeting its Paris agreement targets which, according to recent reports, are themselves far from adequate.

    It is unconscionable that we, our children and grandchildren should have to bear the terrifying brunt of this unprecedented disaster. When a government wilfully abrogates its responsibility to protect its citizens from harm and secure the future for generations to come, it has failed in its most essential duty of stewardship. The ‘social contract’ has been broken, and it is therefore not only our right, but our moral duty, to rebel to defend life itself.

    We therefore declare our support for the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement and the global week of non-violent civil disobedience and disruption planned for October. […]

    Hundreds of Australian academics declare support for climate rebellion points out the letter was released with more than 250 signatures.

  100. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Chris Hayes of “All In” on MSNBC is having town hall meetings on climate tonight and tomorrow. He just finish a long interview with VP Al Gore.

  101. blf says

    Ben Carson warned of hairy men in transphobic comments:

    […]
    Ben Carson, Donald Trump’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development (Hud), made a transphobic comment this week during a meeting with federal employees in San Francisco, the Washington Post reported.

    At least one person at the meeting walked out in protest, staffers told the Washington Post.

    Carson said he was concerned about big, hairy men trying to infiltrate women’s homeless shelters, a remark that multiple people at the meeting interpreted as an attack on trans women, according to the Post.

    Fearmongering over the effects of giving trans women access to homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters is a common trope among anti-trans activists. In May, Hud proposed a new rule that would gut protections for homeless trans people at federally funded homeless shelters.

    “Rescinding this rule is a shameful decision that will result in trans shelter-seekers being forced on the streets,” Julián Castro, who was the Hud secretary under Barack Obama and is now a Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted at the time.

    […]

    Multiple academic studies have confirmed that trans inclusive policies do not endanger cis people. At the same time, there is substantial evidence that trans people, particularly women of color, are victimized at disproportionately high rates and face abusive treatment in public places.

    During his San Francisco visit, Carson also complained that society no longer seemed to know the difference between men and women, staffers told the Washington Post.

    The secretary does not use derogatory language to refer to transgendered individuals. Any reporting to the contrary is false, a Hud spokesperson told the Washington Post.

    Carson has a history of making transphobic comments in public, and has “repeatedly mocked transgender people in internal meetings in Washington”, the Post reported, citing a government official.

  102. blf says

    As a foreign reporter visiting the US I was stunned by Trump’s press conference:

    Despite being subjected to a daily diet of Trump headlines, I was unprepared for the president’s [sic] alarming incoherence

    As a regular news reader I thought I was across the eccentricities of the US president [sic]. Most mornings in Australia begin with news from America […]. Our headlines and news bulletins, like headlines and news bulletins everywhere, are full of Trump.

    As a political reporter for most of the last 30 years I have also endured many long and rambling political press conferences with Australian prime ministers and world leaders.

    But watching a full presidential [sic] Trump press conference while visiting the US this week I realised how much the reporting of Trump necessarily edits and parses his words, to force it into sequential paragraphs or impose meaning where it is difficult to detect.

    The press conference I tuned into by chance from my New York hotel room was held in Otay Mesa, California, and concerned a renovated section of the wall on the Mexican border.

    I joined as the president [sic] was explaining at length how powerful the concrete was. Very powerful, it turns out. It was unlike any wall ever built, incorporating the most advanced concrete technology. It was so exceptional that would-be wall-builders from three unnamed countries had visited to learn from it.

    […]

    The wall was amazing, world class, virtually impenetrable and also a good, strong rust colour that could later be painted. It was designed to absorb heat, so it was hot enough to fry an egg on. There were no eggs to hand, but the president [sic] did sign his name on it and spoke for so long the TV feed eventually cut away, promising to return if news was ever made.

    He did, at one point, concede that would-be immigrants, unable to scale, burrow, blow torch or risk being burned, could always walk around the incomplete structure, but that would require them walking a long way. This seemed to me to be an important point, but the monologue quickly returned to the concrete.

    In writing about this not-especially-important or unusual press conference I’ve run into what US reporters must encounter every day. I’ve edited skittering, half-finished sentences to present them in some kind of consequential order and repeated remarks that made little sense.

    In most circumstances, presenting information in as intelligible a form as possible is what we are trained for. But the shock I felt hearing half an hour of unfiltered meanderings from the president [sic] of the United States made me wonder whether the editing does our readers a disservice.

    I’ve read so many stories about his bluster and boasting and ill-founded attacks, I’ve listened to speeches and hours of analysis, and yet I was still taken back by just how disjointed and meandering the unedited president [sic] could sound. Here he was trying to land the message that he had delivered at least something towards one of his biggest campaign promises and sounding like a construction manager with some long-winded and badly improvised sales lines.

    I’d understood the dilemma of normalising Trump’s ideas and policies — the racism, misogyny and demonisation of the free press. But watching just one press conference from Otay Mesa helped me understand how the process of reporting about this president [sic] can mask and normalise his full and alarming incoherence.

    It could be interesting to read this reporter’s analysis of other reporter’s reports (as published) on the same press conference.

  103. blf says

    First Dog on the Moon in the Grauniad, Global climate strikes: Don’t say you’re sorry. We need people who can take action to TAKE ACTUAL ACTION (cartoon): “Brenda the civil disobedience penguin gives some handy dos and don’ts for your civil disobedience “. First panel (my transcription) — “Climate Strike all over the world! Well done! It’s great to see young people exercising their democratic right to protest* especially since many of you can’t even vote for whichever political party is currently lining up to flush life on Earth down the toilet. (* Where they are allowed to.)”

  104. blf says

    From Signs of the times: the best Australian climate strike placards some of the ones I liked:

    ● Some referenced the prime minister’s earlier criticism that students should stay in school, returning sledges in style: “Why should we go to school if you won’t listen to the educated”.

    ● As many a sign said: “Denial is not a policy”.

    And from Australians stand up for climate change action (images):

    ● “Raise Your Voice Not The Sea Level”.

    In Ozland (from the Grauniad’s global climate strike live blog):

    Organisers claim 300,000 climate protesters in Australia

    The organisers of the School Strike For Climate have estimated more than 300,000 people took to the streets across Australia today.

    More than double the number of Australians who rallied at climate strikes in March came out today, with an estimated 100,000 in Melbourne, 80,000 in Sydney, 30,000 in Brisbane, 20,000 in Hobart, 15,000 in Canberra, 10,000 in Perth and 10,000 in Adelaide, not to mention the other more than 100 events in non-capital cities and towns.

    Organisations striking included 33 Australian unions, 2,500 businesses including Atlassian, Canva, Domain and Intrepid, and faith institutions including the Anglican Church & Uniting Church, they said.

  105. johnson catman says

    re blf @209:

    Abetz: To so superciliously and arrogantly deny a voice to an alternative point of view is reminiscent of totalitarian regimes.

    It is totes okay if we in the government superciliously and arrogantly deny the voices of climate scientists because we are just trying to emulate those totalitarian regimes. But HOW DARE YOU not let us poop on your plate.

  106. says

    Marshall: “Seems like what a lot of us have been saying. Rudy and Trump tried to blackmail the Ukrainians into going after Joe Biden. It sounds like they got caught. Now all hell is breaking loose.”

    The media needs to be asking every Republican whether if this is accurate they’ll call on Trump to resign.

  107. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 221

    The media needs to be asking every Republican whether if this is accurate they’ll call on Trump to resign.

    Of course they won’t, because the American MSM turned in their spines long ago. Even if the press did miraculously grow a new set of vertebrae, the Rethugs would still make excuses for Trump, twist pretzel-logic arguments as to why this isn’t criminal behavior, or flat out deny it happened (e.g. FAKE NEWS!).

  108. blf says

    Follow-up to @204, Indonesian president postpones plans to outlaw extramarital sex:

    […]
    Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, has ordered his government to postpone the ratification of a deeply controversial criminal code that would outlaw living together outside marriage, extramarital sex and insulting the president.

    The apparent climbdown came in a surprise address at the state palace on Friday afternoon, and follows an outpouring of anger and criticism about the draconian draft laws.

    “I have ordered the law and human rights minister to convey this decision to parliament, to delay the confirmation of the criminal code bill,” the president, better known as Jokowi, told a televised news conference. He said he had decided the bill needed further review after taking into account input from various groups who objected to parts of it.

    […]

    More than 300,000 people had signed a petition calling for Jokowi to step in and stop the bill from being passed.

    The draft penal code applied to everyone in Indonesia, including foreigners, although it was not clear how it would be enforced in holiday hotspots such as Bali. Australia updated its travel advice to warn its citizens of the possible changes.

    […]

    Using the hashtag #semuabisakena, meaning “this effects everyone”, the petition highlights problematic articles, including those that would also criminalise buskers, beggars and sex workers.

    […]

    The proposals call for a wider interpretation of Indonesia’s blasphemy law, under which members of religious minority groups, including Christians and Buddhists, have been prosecuted in the past.

    Civil society groups said they submitted comprehensive recommendations and revisions to the draft code that were largely ignored.

    On Thursday, hundreds protested outside the parliament, rejecting not only the draft penal code, but also a controversial law passed this week on an anti-corruption commission, which is widely expected to weaken the body’s investigative powers.

    The parliament — the source of more than 20 corruption suspects in recent years — has been derided for passing that law in secrecy and in record time.

    Critics also pointed out that the draft penal code halves the sentence of those convicted of corruption or those “unlawfully enriching themselves” from four to two years.

  109. tomh says

    Detroit Free Press:
    Detroit’s female genital mutilation case takes a big legal hit

    Millions of little girls and young women have been subjected to a painful rite of passage that involves cutting their genitals — often without anesthesia — for centuries in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Detroit Free Press

    Activists fighting to end female genital mutilation worldwide are reeling at the latest decision involving Detroit’s FGM case, in which a doctor is charged with cutting the genitals of nine 7-year-old girls who cried and bled as another woman held them down.

    The historic case has had a series of setbacks.

    First, a federal judge in Detroit declared the nation’s FGM law unconstitutional.

    Then, the Department of Justice said it wouldn’t appeal, concluding the 1996 FGM statute was too weak to defend.

    Congress tried to intervene and fight for the law, but got shot down.

    On Friday, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a motion by congressional leaders to defend the constitutionality of the FGM ban. It also granted the government’s and the defendant’s request to voluntarily dismiss the case.

    Shannon Smith, attorney for the lead defendant in the case, Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, said the appeals court got it right.

    “We were not surprised by the decision. A quick look at the law makes it abundantly clear that Congress was way out of its lane in its efforts to intervene and take over a criminal prosecution,” said Smith, adding she will now focus on fighting the remaining charges in the case, including conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

    The 6th Circuit decision, however, devastated anti-FGM activists, who fear people who support genital cutting practices on religious grounds will still get away with it in the U.S. The defendants in the Michigan case are all members of a small Indian Muslim sect known as the Dawoodi Bohra, who practice female circumcision and view it as a religious rite of passage, alleging it involves only a minor “nick.”

    “We are deeply concerned that this decision puts girls at risk as the lack of a federal ban leaves an interstate loophole and creates confusion among law enforcement charged with protecting girls from this practice,” the US END FGM/C NETWORK said in a statement Wednesday. “The decision is also discouraging to anti-FGM/C advocates, including survivors, who have been bravely speaking out against this practice, and dismantles education and prevention efforts in the U.S. and across the globe.”

    In striking down the genital mutilation statute, the courts have held that the law is unconstitutional because it doesn’t affect interstate commerce.

    Anti-FGM activists disagree, noting the Michigan case involves girls from Illinois and Minnesota who traveled to Michigan to undergo genital cutting procedures in a Livonia clinic.

    “With evidence of girls being taken across state lines to have this procedure done, we believe that FGM/C is indeed a federal issue and that it is our government’s responsibility to defend against it,” the US End FGM/C Network said.

    More at the link.

  110. says

    blf @ 230, he is “postponing” those plans that would outlaw living together outside marriage, extramarital sex and insulting the president? Sheesh. Those plans should have never existed in the first place.

    But of course, the new plans also make corruption more okay. (Slap on the wrist if you do it, but, you know, go ahead.) Anti-corruption laws weakened, bigotry against religious minority groups strengthened.

  111. says

    From text quoted by SC @220:

    Worth noting too that Rudy is also trying to force the government of Ukraine to manufacture evidence to exonerate Paul Manafort, which is likely to be used as the predicate for his eventual pardon.

    The fallout from all this several-layers-deep scandal will damage Trump. From the number of times he claimed today that he does not know who the whistleblower is, I assume Trump does know, and that he is deeply involved in discrediting or muzzling the whistleblower. At the same time that he claimed he doesn’t know who the whistleblower is, Trump claimed that “it’s a partisan,” and Giuliani already claimed the whistleblower is part of the “deep state.”

  112. Akira MacKenzie says

    Lyanna, OM

    The fallout from all this several-layers-deep scandal will damage Trump.

    Yeah, suuuuuuure it will.

  113. says

    Chris Hayes: “I am watching this somehow turn into a story about Biden and am going to pass out.”

    I can only conclude that some people have lost their fucking minds. If this isn’t impeachable, what is? If this isn’t abuse of power, what is? If this isn’t grounds for everyone to call for Trump and quite possibly Pence to resign, what is?

    The federal and state governments are working on election security, mass movements are underway to fight voter suppression, and Trump is flagrantly cheating. He’s not accepting help from a foreign government in an election – he’s using the power of the US government to extort a US ally fending off Russian attacks to smear a potential political adversary. He’s corrupted the Justice Department. He’s breathtakingly corrupt. He has the Acting DNI violating the law. He’s threatening a whistleblower. He’s endangering the security of the US and all of our allies. THIS HAS TO STOP NOW.

  114. says

    Elizabeth Warren:

    After the Mueller report, Congress had a duty to begin impeachment. By failing to act, Congress is complicit in Trump’s latest attempt to solicit foreign interference to aid him in US elections. Do your constitutional duty and impeach the president.

    A president is sitting in the Oval Office, right now, who continues to commit crimes. He continues because he knows his Justice Department won’t act and believes Congress won’t either. Today’s news confirmed he thinks he’s above the law. If we do nothing, he’ll be right.

    Mitch McConnell is also complicit. The Senate must vote on the bill, already passed by the House, to help states and localities protect themselves from the foreign attacks on our elections that the President has previously welcomed.

    In 1974, Democrats and Republicans united in support of impeachment not out of mutual contempt for Nixon but mutual respect for the rule of law. Congress refused to be complicit in future law-breaking by Nixon or other presidents. It’s time for this Congress to step up and act.

  115. says

    southpaw:

    We need to be clear. It’s plainly, objectively inappropriate and wrong to use the official powers of the presidency that the public trusted you with to extort a foreign government to provide a thing of value to yourself and your campaign.

    (It’s also super illegal.)

    How is this even remotely a question?!

  116. says

    Walter Shaub: “It’s not complicated. If the executive really did abuse his power to push a foreign government to knock out his political rival before the next election, that’s either too much for you or nothing ever will be. Don’t need a statutory citation. We’re a free republic or we’re not.”

  117. says

    Guardian – “As a foreign reporter visiting the US I was stunned by Trump’s press conference”:

    …I’d understood the dilemma of normalising Trump’s ideas and policies – the racism, misogyny and demonisation of the free press. But watching just one press conference from Otay Mesa helped me understand how the process of reporting about this president can mask and normalise his full and alarming incoherence.

    You need to read the whole piece.

  118. says

    EXCLUSIVE: Trump ignored his administration’s evidence thousands of Guatemalans are fleeing to US due to starvation caused by climate change fueled crop failure, which I saw myself.

    Instead, he defunded aid that helps.

    Watch our report for @chrislhayes.”

    Video at the link.

  119. says

    Guardian – “‘Feminist emergency’ declared in Spain after summer of violence”:

    Protesters took to the streets of more than 250 towns and cities across Spain on Friday night to declare a “feminist emergency” after a series of high-profile rape cases and a summer in which 19 women were murdered by current or former partners.

    Organisers urged participants to “turn the night purple” – the colour of the feminist movement – to raise the alarm and protest against apathy, indifference and a lack of attention from politicians and the media.

    By 8pm, people were massing for demonstrations in cities including Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Bilbao, Tarragona, Salamanca, Seville and Alicante.

    So far this year, 42 women have been murdered in domestic violence attacks and 32 children left motherless. Since the government began recording such murders in 2003, 1,017 women have been killed by their current or former partners.

    The demonstrations come three years after the notorious gang-rape of a woman at the running of the bulls festival in Pamplona and amid the trial of seven men accused of raping a 14-year-old girl in Catalonia.

    “This has been a summer dominated by barbarity, murders, rapes, assault, paedophilia and gang attacks,” said the protests’ organisers, Feminist Emergency.

    “The gender-based violence of the summer has led to the worst figures in more than a decade. We can’t let another school or parliamentary term begin as if nothing has happened. To do so would be to tolerate the intolerable … This is an emergency.”

    The organisers called on people to assemble with candles, lanterns, torches and mobile phones to let “feminism fill the night”.

    Spain’s acting prime minister, socialist party leader Pedro Sánchez, tweeted his support for Friday’s protests.

    “Tonight will be purple,” he said. “The streets of our country will fill with light against sexist violence because Spanish society’s commitment is firm: when it comes to violence against women, not a single step backwards.”

    Despite the outcry and anger provoked by such cases, Spain’s far-right Vox party has called for the repeal of domestic violence laws and attacked “psychopathic feminazis”.

    On Thursday, the party boycotted the minute’s silence that Madrid city council had called to mark the murder of the latest victim of domestic violence, Adaliz Villagra.

    Villagra, 31, was stabbed to death in front of her two children in the capital on Tuesday.

    Vox’s decision to boycott the event and instead turn up with a sign reading “Violence has no gender” prompted a public row between Madrid’s conservative mayor, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, and Javier Ortega Smith, Vox’s general secretary.

  120. says

    Guardian – “History of free African strongholds fires Brazilian resistance to Bolsonaro”:

    A palm-fringed ridge rises above the plains of Alagoas in north-east Brazil. Just a few replica thatched huts and a wall of wooden stakes now stand at its summit, but this was once the capital of the Quilombo dos Palmares – a sprawling, powerful nation of Africans who escaped slavery, and their descendants who held out here in the forest for 100 years.

    Its population was at least 11,000 – at the time, more than that of Rio de Janeiro – across dozens of villages with elected leaders and a hybrid language and culture.

    Palmares allied with indigenous peoples, traded for gunpowder, launched guerrilla raids on coastal sugar plantations to free other captives, and withstood more than 20 assaults before falling to Portuguese cannons in 1695.

    About 5 million enslaved Africans were brought across the Atlantic to Brazil between 1501 and 1888. Many escaped, forming quilombos, or free communities.

    Three centuries later, the remarkable saga of Palmares is being seized on once more as a symbol of resistance against Brazil’s rightwing president and the country’s pervasive racism towards its black and mixed-race majority.

    “Quilombos in general are very big right now,” said Ana Carolina Lourenço, a sociologist and adviser to one recent documentary on Palmares. Young Afro-Brazilians have even coined a verb, she added – to quilombar – meaning to meet up to debate politics or simply celebrate black music, culture and identity.

    This renewed prominence coincides with a sharp rightward turn in Brazilian politics. Jair Bolsonaro has denied that Portuguese slavers set foot in Africa, and vilified the roughly 3,000 quilombos dotted across Brazil today – poor and marginalised Afro-Brazilian communities, often descended from fugitive slaves – branding their residents “not even fit for procreation”.

    The president has sought to erode the landholding rights of quilombo communities in favour, critics argue [? – SC], of the powerful agribusiness sector. Police killings, mainly of Afro-Brazilians, in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo have also risen sharply in 2019 with Bolsonaro’s encouragement.

    Earlier this month, footage of supermarket security guards whipping a bound and gagged black teenager for allegedly shoplifting, prompted reflections on the lasting legacy of slavery….

  121. blf says

    One man down: How a US lawyer could cripple the WTO

    The World Trade Organization’s appellate body could be disabled by the resignation of one of its last remaining members.

    A US lawyer who is one of the last remaining members of an international panel that rules on trade disputes may resign in December, a move that would cripple the global conflict settlement system.

    The voluntary departure of Thomas Graham, who has served on the World Trade Organization panel since 2011, would accelerate the appellate body’s looming demise and force countries to fundamentally rethink their reliance on the WTO to settle the surging number of trade disputes.

    While Graham’s term ends on Dec 10, panel members in the past have stayed on to finish WTO cases they’re involved in. If he resigns, the seven-member body would no longer have a quorum to rule on pending WTO appeal cases.

    […]

    President [sic] Donald Trump, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other US critics argue that the WTO dispute settlement system threatens America’s sovereign rights. In response, the European Union, Canada and other member countries are discussing ways to reform the appellate body to address US criticism that it has strayed from its mandate.

    The Trump administration, which has threatened to leave the WTO, has refused to consider nominees to replace the four vacancies on the panel. The US says panel members have overstepped their mandate by failing to meet its 90-day deadline to decide on appeals; permitting panel members to serve beyond their terms; and by issuing opinions on matters not necessary to resolve a dispute.

    Graham’s departure would throw all pending and future appeals into legal limbo since there wouldn’t be enough appellate members to resolve disputes. That would essentially allow for any member to veto a claim against them.

    […]

    About a dozen appeal cases are pending, including a dispute over EU restrictions on Russian natural-gas imports and a pair of US-Canadian disputes over paper and softwood lumber.

    It’s possible that the appellate body may issue a final ruling on any of these cases before the Dec 10 deadline. It is also likely that WTO members will ask the appellate body to include a tranche of new appeals to their portfolio between now and Dec 10.

  122. blf says

    Follow-up to @145, Rape culture is as American as apple pie:

    We live in a society in which sexual violence is so normalized that one in 16 women lost their virginity through rape

    […]

    f you want to see how deeply rooted rape culture is just take a look at who is running the country and shaping the law. A third of the six male justices on America’s supreme court have been accused of sexual misconduct. Meanwhile Attorney General William Barr endorsed a 2017 book called Campus Rape Frenzy, which essentially argues men are the real victims of sexual assault in universities. [T]he false narrative of a ‘rape culture’ on college campuses — has created a regime of kangaroo justice, Barr wrote in a blurb for the book. Your blood will boil as the authors meticulously examine scores of cases where, in the name of political correctness, male students are sacrificed to the mob.

    And, of course, there’s the proud pussy-grabber who is currently president [sic] of the United States. […]

  123. says

    blf @250, the more we know about William Barr, the worse he looks.

    blf @249, Ha!

    SC @246, “5 million” … Wow. I didn’t know that many African slaves had been taken to Brazil. Learning something new. And, “Jair Bolsonaro has denied that Portuguese slavers set foot in Africa, and vilified the roughly 3,000 quilombos dotted across Brazil today – poor and marginalised Afro-Brazilian communities, often descended from fugitive slaves – branding their residents “not even fit for procreation,” sheesh. If it is possible to be worse than Trump, Bolsonaro goes there.

  124. says

    SC @247, again the horrors increase when one looks closely at any far-right organization. From your link:

    […] The Indian prime minister is the leader of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party, which is accurately described by Breivik in his manifesto as “the political arm of the RSS.” Modi himself began training with the RSS when he was 8 years old; by the age of 22, he was a full-time “pracharak,” or missionary, for the group. As chief minister of the state of Gujarat — the scene of brutal anti-Muslim pogroms in 2002 — Modi oversaw the distribution of high school textbooks that described Hitler as a leader who “lent dignity and prestige to the German government.” […]

    Mehdi Hasan was right to point out the connection with white nationalists in the USA, Norway, etc.

  125. says

    SC @236, I agree with what Elizabeth Warren said in the text you quoted. It’s almost as if the Democrats are encouraging Trump to break even more laws as they fail to hold him accountable for the laws he has already broken.

    It merits repeating:

    After the Mueller report, Congress had a duty to begin impeachment. By failing to act, Congress is complicit in Trump’s latest attempt to solicit foreign interference to aid him in US elections. Do your constitutional duty and impeach the president.

    A president is sitting in the Oval Office, right now, who continues to commit crimes. He continues because he knows his Justice Department won’t act and believes Congress won’t either. Today’s news confirmed he thinks he’s above the law. If we do nothing, he’ll be right.

    Mitch McConnell is also complicit. The Senate must vote on the bill, already passed by the House, to help states and localities protect themselves from the foreign attacks on our elections that the President has previously welcomed.

    In 1974, Democrats and Republicans united in support of impeachment not out of mutual contempt for Nixon but mutual respect for the rule of law. Congress refused to be complicit in future law-breaking by Nixon or other presidents. It’s time for this Congress to step up and act.

  126. blf says

    After murder, defections and poll defeat: the sun sets on Greece’s Golden Dawn:

    […]
    For years the five-storey building at 131 Mesogeion Avenue embodied the success of Golden Dawn, the neo-Nazi party that took Greece, and Europe, by storm. Today, its tattered flag, broken signage and shuttered doors have come to tell another story: of Golden Dawn’s rise and fall on the back of rage and economic crisis, hate-mongering, murder and criminal charges. “The people put them in, the people threw them out,” says Giorgos Mavroeidis, the manager of a health-appliance shop two stores down. […]

    Last week, movers turned up, taking anything that could be transported from 131 Mesogeion and leaving only “Dawn” in the signage that had so vividly proclaimed the presence of one of Europe’s most violent ultra-nationalist organisations on Greece’s fractured political landscape.

    For a party that had once been the country’s third-largest political force — polling close to 7% when it was first catapulted into parliament in 2012 — the move, symbolically, marked more than a change in fortunes even if Nikos Michaloliakos, its supreme Führer, as supporters are believed to have called him, insisted it amounted only to downsizing.

    [… T]his month, amid feuds and factional infighting, the far-rightists were closing branches, one after the other, across Greece. An era defined by the politics of hate — epitomised by night rallies with flaming torches and Nazi salutes and hit squads sowing panic and fear with coordinated attacks on immigrants, trade unionists and political opponents — appeared to have come full circle.

    [… Leftist writer Dimitris] Psarras also believes the extremists fell victim to their own proclivity for violence. The cold-blooded murder of Pavlos Fyssas, a popular anti-fascist Greek rapper, by one of Golden Dawn’s senior operatives, sent a chill through Greek society and went some way to cutting the organisation’s well-documented ties with security forces in the “deep state”.

    On Wednesday, thousands took to the streets of the gritty working-class suburb of Keratsini, where the 34-year-old musician died of knife wounds to the heart, six years ago.

    “Until then, only immigrants had been targeted because they were ‘invisible’, ‘anonymous’ and ‘helpless,’” he said. “When a Greek was so brutally killed it ended the politics of tolerance towards the organisation’s crimes.”

    The assassination sparked an unprecedented investigation into the group’s embrace of the murderous violence inherent in Nazi ideology and is the basis for a trial that has placed 69 Golden Dawn members, including its entire leadership, in the dock. All stand accused of operating a criminal organisation, a charge that they deny.

    More than four years later, as it enters its final stage, the hearing has exposed the group’s activities as never before. […]

    Greece’s rejuvenated anti-fascist movement is rejoicing. The defeat of the far-rightists — a blow for neo-fascist movements across Europe — has been attributed to the coordinated efforts of a diverse, anti-fascist and anti-racist movement that has also taken to the streets.

    “Golden Dawn, as we know it, is over,” smiles the prominent anti-fascist activist Petros Constantinou. “Whenever they were on the streets, we too, were out in force. But the fight goes on. We still have to root out all those far-right people with links in the police and security services in this country. And lest we forget, please write about the victims. There were so many migrants, young people whose names we will never know, who died on these streets at the hands of Golden Dawn.”

    In the most recent elections (July), the nazis polled only c.2.9% of the vote and now have no seats in parliament.

  127. says

    Trump is aggressively trying to weaken the potency of the bombshell revelations that have surfaced this week about his reported pressure of the Ukrainian President to go after former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, hammering away at an unfounded accusation against Biden to even the score.

    The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, want to stay as far away as possible from the Joe Biden demand that the Ukrainian Government fire a prosecutor who was investigating his son, or they won’t get a very large amount of U.S. money, so they fabricate a story about me and a perfectly fine and routine conversation I had with the new President of the Ukraine. Nothing was said that was in any way wrong, but Biden’s demand, on the other hand, was a complete and total disaster. The Fake News knows this but doesn’t want to report!

    From Kate Riga:

    […] Trump’s allegation centers on Biden’s attempts to oust a prosecutor in Ukraine in 2016 — the President claims that Biden’s attempts were motivated by an investigation into Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian company on whose board Biden’s son Hunter sat.

    Biden threatened to withhold aid unless the prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, was fired. However, there is no evidence that the Burisma investigation was ongoing by the time of Biden’s strong-arming, and it is not clear that Hunter Biden was ever a focus of the investigation. Other western governments too were pulling for Shokin’s ouster amid allegations that he was not sufficiently fighting back against the corruption plaguing the country.

    However, Trump’s attempts to muddy the waters make sense, as news broke that he told the Ukrainian President “about eight times” during a phone call to work with lawyer Rudy Giuliani to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden. Simultaneously, acting DNI Joseph Maguire is blocking whistleblower testimony from being released to Congress concerning the President’s conversations with the Ukrainian President.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/biden-accusation-trump-ukraine-hunter

  128. says

    Followup to comment 256.

    From the readers comments:

    What keeps getting glossed over in this is Trump telling the Ukrainian to work with Giuliani. Giuliani wasn’t there on behalf of the U.S. Giuliani isn’t with the State Department,NSA,FBI,DOJ,CIA etc. He was/is Trump’s private lawyer and this was a threat to withhold US military aid funds for a completely private purpose.
    ——————–
    Ned Price (the ex CIA Spook) said last night that Trump’s actions on this were systemic.

    Meaning that there is MORE to come.
    ———————
    1. Trump’s allegation: Biden attempted to oust a prosecutor in Ukraine in 2016 – Shokin.

    2. In 2016, Biden boasted that he threatened to withhold a $1B loan to Ukraine if Shokin wasn’t fired because Shokin did not want to tackle graft. And Shokin was fired.

    3. Giuliani has claimed that Shokin was investigating Burisma (Hunter Biden was on its board) in 2016 but it was the British prosecutors who was investigating and ended the probe bec Shokin did not send the corroborating evidence.

    4. No evidence indicated that Burisma was under investigation in 2016 by Ukraine. It was only in March 2019 that Shokin’s replacement – Lutsenko, said that he intended to open an investigation into Hunter Biden’s activity at Burisma and to review Joe Biden’s role – approximately 3 years after what Trump/Giuliani alleges.

    5. Now, Trump has told the Ukrainian President “about eight times” in a phone call to work with personal lawyer Giuliani to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden.
    ———————–
    It’s not about anything relating to Biden. It’s about Trump and Rudy’s illegal gambit to commit bribery, extortion, conspiracy and obstruction in order to frame Biden and set him up.

    From David Frum:

    Can we please drop this nonsense about Trump asking Ukraine to “investigate” Biden? As Anders Aslund, a real expert, notes: there is no honest accusation against Biden. What Trump wanted was a fabrication, not an investigation

  129. says

    https://www.wonkette.com/is-anyone-actually-surprised-that-trump-is-sending-troops-to-saudi-arabia-to-protect-oil

    […] Trump just authorized sending an unspecified number of troops to Saudi Arabia — a country that recently had American journalist Jamal Khashoggi brutally murdered — following drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities that Trump blames on Iran, although Iran denies this and another group has taken responsibility…

    Via CNN:

    Iran has denied responsibility. Yemen-based Houthi rebels, locked in an ongoing war for control of the country with Saudi Arabia and its allies, have said they are behind the attack.

    US officials have refused to accept that and insist Iran is responsible, though they have not yet presented evidence to support the claim.”Iran’s brazen attack against Saudi Arabia is unacceptable,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement about the new sanctions, which targeted the Central Bank for providing “billions of dollars to the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, its Qods Force and its terrorist proxy, Hizballah.”

    OOH. Anyone else getting any misty watercolor memories of the time a group of terrorists consisting mostly of Saudi Arabians, lead by a Saudi Arabian, flew planes into the World Trade Center and we responded by invading Iraq and Afghanistan, because daddy issues and oil?

    Trump, being Trump, did not seek Congressional approval for this deployment, […]

  130. says

    New BLM headquarters share a building with a Chevron corporate office.

    The Bureau of Land Management has selected a site for its new headquarters in Grand Junction, Colo. — and it’s in a building that also serves as the home to a Chevron corporate office, a state oil and gas association, and an independent natural gas exploration company.

    Trump officials decided in July to move the BLM — which oversees energy leasing, grazing and other activities on federal land — out of the District of Columbia. The move is to be completed by the end of next year.

    While the Interior Department is dispersing the employees to several states, the bureau’s top leadership will move to Grand Junction. […]

    Washington Post Link

    I’m sure it’s all okay. What could possibly go wrong?

    One environmental group that focuses on public lands criticized the move. “Since you can’t physically get in bed with industry, it seems like Bernhardt did the next best thing by moving in next door,” said Jayson O’Neill, deputy director of the Western Values Project. “Now the agency tasked with protecting and standing up for our public lands will be rubbing elbows with oil executives and sharing a water cooler with extractive interest allies.”

  131. says

    From George Conway and Neal Katyal:

    […] the framers viewed the president as a fiduciary, the government of the United States as a sacred trust and the people of the United States as the beneficiaries of that trust. Through the Constitution, the framers imposed upon the president the duty and obligation to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed” and made him swear an oath that he would fulfill that duty of faithful execution. They believed that a president would break his oath if he engaged in self-dealing — if he used his powers to put his own interests above the nation’s. That would be the paradigmatic case for impeachment.

    That’s exactly what appears to be at issue today. A whistleblower in U.S. intelligence lodged a complaint with the intelligence community’s inspector general so alarming that he labeled it of “urgent concern” and alerted the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. […] it involves Ukraine and possible interference with the next presidential election. The complaint is being brazenly suppressed by the Justice Department — in defiance of a whistleblower law that says, without exception, the complaint “shall” be turned over to Congress.

    We also know this: As he admitted Thursday night on CNN, the president’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, has been trying to persuade the Ukrainian government to investigate, among other things, one of Trump’s potential Democratic opponents, former vice president Joe Biden, and Biden’s son Hunter about the latter’s involvement with a Ukrainian gas company.

    Trump held up the delivery of $250 million in military assistance to Ukraine, which is under constant threat from neighboring Russia. He had a phone conversation on July 25 with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian government, the call included a discussion of Ukraine’s need to “complete investigation of corruption cases, which inhibited the interaction between Ukraine and the USA.”

    So it appears that the president might have used his official powers — in particular, perhaps the threat of withholding a quarter-billion dollars in military aid — to leverage a foreign government into helping him defeat a potential political opponent in the United States.

    […] Unlike the allegations of conspiracy with Russia before the 2016 election, these concern Trump’s actions as president, not as a private citizen, and his exercise of presidential powers over foreign policy with Ukraine. […] the White House is trying to shut down the entire inquiry from the start […]

    To borrow John Dean’s haunting Watergate-era metaphor once again, there is a cancer on the presidency, and cancers, if not removed, only grow. Congress bears the duty to use the tools provided by the Constitution to remove that cancer now, before it’s too late. […]

    Washington Post link

  132. blf says

    The Bizarre Trump-Fueled Backlash to Healthy School Lunches:

    […]
    Back in 2010, then–first lady Michelle Obama launched a nefarious scheme to turn school cafeterias into liberal indoctrination zones. Or at least that’s how Obama’s right-wing opponents portrayed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a law she spearheaded that gave the National School Lunch Program its first nutritional update in more than 15 years. Her treachery included requirements for more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and limits on calories in meals. Here’s Michelle Obama trying to take over the school lunch program, Rush Limbaugh warned his radio audience. Media outlets flaunted photos of kids dumping their lunches into the trash, supposedly taken after the reforms went into effect. Rep Steve King (R-Iowa) sponsored a bill to nullify the nutrition rules in 2012, decrying what he called a misguided nanny state that would put every child on a diet.

    The nanny-state rhetoric got attention. Less atten­tion-getting was the fact that Obama’s critics were attacking improvements to a crucial anti-­poverty program. Of the nearly 30 million kids who eat school lunches every day, 20 million qualify for free lunch — and another 1.8 million receive it at a reduced price. Altogether, these kids rely on school meals for nearly half their daily calories and 40 percent of their vegetable intake, making the program a “safety net for low-income children,” a 2016 study from Baylor University researchers found.

    […]

    In May 2017, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue appeared at an elementary school in Virginia, vowing to Make School Meals Great Again. Echoing Freedom Caucus talking points, Perdue announced that if kids aren’t eating the food, and it’s ending up in the trash, they aren’t getting any nutrition. He also asserted that procuring whole grain foods like pasta was imposing problematic costs on cafeterias. For good measure, he added that I wouldn’t be as big as I am today without chocolate milk.

    For all the bluster, Perdue’s new rules, put into law in February 2019, represented a fairly modest rollback. The Obama guidelines stipulated that starches like pasta and buns must contain at least 50 percent whole grains and that chocolate milk could contain no fat. Perdue cut the grain requirement in half and allowed flavored 1 percent milk. He weakened a mandate to cut salt levels, but he left calorie limits and requirements for more fruit and vegetables intact.

    Meanwhile, researchers contracted by his own department were studying the impact of the Obama-era reforms. The results, quietly released in April, demonstrate that the conservative backlash was based on nonsense. […] And maybe most importantly, the cafeterias that delivered higher healthy-food scores also had significantly higher rates of students choosing to eat the lunches. That same month, attorneys general from six states and the District of Columbia sued the USDA, charging that the rollbacks were made without public input and were “not based on tested nutritional research.”

    […]

  133. blf says

    GOP Congressman Says DC Statehood Would Make It Harder for His Staff to Park:

    700,000 people can’t vote, but Thomas Massie has a conspiracy theory about parking spaces.

    […]

    Like other Republicans on the House committee that oversees DC, [Thomas] Massie suggested that the continued disenfranchisement of the district’s 700,000 residents was necessary because a hypothetical new state might exert undue pressure on the federal government. To illustrate his point, Massie called attention to the proposed map for the state of DC that would be established by HR 51, a bill introduced by DC’s non-voting delegate to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton. Under the bill, a small enclave — essentially the National Mall, the White House, the Capitol, and various government buildings — would remain under federal control. According to Massie, the size of this enclave would somehow enable the DC government, which would likely be dominated by Democrats, to influence Hill staffers through its control of parking spaces.

    […]

    Massie’s complaint wasn’t the only far-fetched argument against statehood made by Republicans Thursday. At the start of the hearing, Rep Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) […] suggested that DC’s history of political corruption means it isn’t fit to be a state.

    Norton, who ran the hearing in place of committee chair Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), fired back at Jordan, reminding him that his own state has a rich history of political scandals. “But no one is suggesting that Ohio ought to lose its status,” she said.

  134. blf says

    The Grauniad has updated the @149 Area 51 story — only about 500 people showed up so the promoters are losing buckets of money and hence decided to cancel the remaining days (cue a very tiny violin) — and in the process of doing so, removed the “abduction” snark. However, they added(?), speaking of the people who are still there, “The mood among the assembled remained mostly harmless.”

  135. F.O. says

    I wonder how the US soldiers sent to KSA feel as their lives are put on the line to defend the oil profits of a brutal monarchy.

  136. says

    Tom Scocca in Slate – “Someone Should Do Something”:

    After seeing the events of the past few days, in the light of the events of the days before those, in relation to the events that took place in the weeks, months, and years before that, I am strongly considering writing something that would address the question of whether Nancy Pelosi is bad at her job. If I did, I would argue that the House of Representatives, under Pelosi’s leadership, has come to function as a necessary complement to the corruption and incompetence of President Donald Trump—that a lawless presidency can only achieve its fullest, ripest degree of lawlessness with the aid of a feckless opposition party, which the Democrats are eager to provide.

    My editor thinks that I should write this article. I understand that in a week when one of the president’s most dedicated flunkies went before Congress to openly sneer at the idea that he should answer questions, making a show of obstructing what was supposed to be an investigation into obstruction of justice—a week now ending with reports, confirmed by the president’s jabbering ghoul of a lawyer on television, that the president tried to force a foreign country to act against the Democrats’ leading presidential candidate—there is good reason to feel that something needs to be written. It is certainly the sort of situation that someone could write about: the opposition party sitting on its hands and issuing vague statements of dismay while the entire constitutional order is revealed to be no match for the willingness of a president and his enablers to break the law.

    At some point, in the future, it will probably be necessary to publish an article pointing out the terrifying mismatch between the ever-increasing speed with which our political system is falling apart and the slow trudge toward November 2020, when the Democratic Party hopes that voters will do what current elected Democratic officials will not do and take action to remove our visibly degenerating president from office….

    I understand my editor’s belief that it is time to write an article about this. I am aware that writing articles is one of the things I do in my job—along with editing articles, writing headlines, going to meetings, discussing staffing, and so on. Writing an article about the Democrats’ refusal to face up to the crisis may very well, at some point, become necessary for someone to do. But it is important to make sure that my co-workers see me doing all the other important work I need to do to serve the readers of Slate.

    Some people might argue that it’s time to take action against a clearly escalating program of atrocities, or at least to think about writing an article saying that it is time to take action against a clearly escalating program of atrocities. It is worth discussing the idea of producing such an article. Clearly at some point it may need to be done….

  137. says

    Dahlia Lithwick in Slate – “Corey Lewandowski’s Self-Immolation”:

    The most striking moment of Corey Lewandowski’s testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday came near the end of a long day, when the former Trump campaign manager was surprisingly open in revealing his disdain for the truth. For much of the testimony, Lewandowski alternated between filibustering by slow reading the Mueller report and filibustering by saying he was under White House orders to be silent. He clearly delighted in stymying House Democrats, even as he used the hearing to tease his potential run for Senate in New Hampshire. (During a break, Lewandowski tweeted out a link to the website for a brand new super PAC, “Stand With Corey.”)

    At the end, though, came a few key moments when Lewandowski was made to all but openly confess his own lies. This critical portion of the hearing was a disaster for Lewandowski and showed why Democrats should be champing at the bit to hold more hearings like this one, rather than fulminating and hand-wringing over whether they are even taking part in an impeachment inquiry. Lewandowski’s confession should, at minimum, preclude him from ever being booked on a television news program again and in a sane world would instantly doom his nascent Senate run.

    Following the frustrated questioning by House members, Barry H. Berke, a private attorney who consults for the committee, put on a cross-examination that should be mandatory viewing for every law student in the history of time. For starters, Berke got Lewandowski to admit that conversations with the president for which Donald Trump was claiming some imaginary version of privilege to block his adviser’s testimony had been recounted in detail in Lewandowski’s own book. Crucially, Berke then further pressed Lewandowski into conceding that he had overtly lied in interviews on national television about matters cited by special counsel Robert Mueller as potential episodes of obstruction of justice by Trump. Finally, Berke opened the door to new questions about whether Lewandowski was granted immunity from criminal prosecution in exchange for his Mueller testimony—questions Lewandowski refused to respond to one way or the other, and that would speak to the potential criminality of his and the president’s behavior.

    The main thrust of Berke’s very effective questioning was to demonstrate that Lewandowski, contrary to his testimony, knew that what Trump had asked him to do was wrong—and possibly criminal—which is why he concealed it from the public. But we should also pause, please, to just let the other key takeaway soak in: Lewandowski, on the same day he rolls out a Senate run, says in a nationally televised hearing that he has no duty to be truthful “with the media.” Someone who has been a paid contributor for CNN, then One America News Network, and who has appeared on Fox News and the Sunday talk shows seems to make a distinction between lying “to the media” and lying to the unsuspecting American public that consumes the media.

    This is next-level gaslighting. The same witness who announced to the world that he owes a duty of truth under oath, but that he may lie to the press with impunity, is launching a run for high office. The person who spat the words “fake news” at his hearing, in response to questions he didn’t like, boasted about actually creating and disseminating fake news when caught in a lie. There is a special grade of nihilism required to dismiss all unflattering media stories as fake, but the nihilism of dismissing one’s own lies to the press as justified is truly astounding.

    On Tuesday, Lewandowski did us the classic Trump era favor of saying the quiet parts aloud: He lies to the media. Hardly a surprise from the man who banned the Washington Post from Trump campaign events and was charged with battery for grabbing a Breitbart reporter at a campaign event. He’s seeking to benefit from public doubt in the honesty of the press by seeding more. No reporter should ever speak to him again, and any New Hampshire Senate run should be marked by media refusal to believe anything he says unless it happens under oath. Whatever your feelings about Lewandowski or Trump, the press will only contribute to its own diminishment if it ever quotes a self-confessed liar again. And yes, he was invited on cable news Wednesday morning. And no, it was not about him dancing with a star.

    In the meantime, Democrats should also take a lesson from Lewandowski’s self-immolation and the further implication of the president in crimes. It’s not just that there is still such a thing as truth, and that truth will still out, but that impeachment hearings can indeed be quite effective—so long as a professional is doing the questioning.

  138. says

    The New European – “Boris Johnson’s billionaire leadership backer urged prorogation before he became PM”:

    One of Boris Johnson’s billionaire leadership backers was, as early as July, urging the prime-minister-to-be to prorogue parliament to force Brexit.

    Just as Johnson was poised to become leader, hedge fund financier Crispin Odey, said that he was backing Boris because he would be ready to “dissolve” parliament for a no-deal Brexit.

    Speaking to Channel 4 the day before Johnson won the leadership, Odey also said he was urging Johnson to pack the House of Lords with sympathetic new peers in order to “get this done”.

    The statements, revealed in the documentary Tories at War, suggest Johnson was considering prorogation at the behest of hard Brexiteer backers before he even became prime minister.

    The revelation comes as Supreme Court judges are on the cusp of deciding whether prorogation of parliament this September was lawful.

    One issue the litigants Gina Miller and Joanna Cherry seek to demonstrate to the courts is that Johnson’s prorogation was specifically for the purpose of frustrating the will of parliament, which is determined to reject a no-deal Brexit.

    Johnson has so far refused to provide a sworn witness statement to the court committing to his reasoning for prorogation.

    Odey also discussed the two sides of Johnson as “Boris One and Boris Two”.

    He said: “My phrase is, there’s Boris One and Boris Two. Boris One is a charming guy who tries to get everything by charming people, and bringing a bit of enthusiasm where there hasn’t been any. And says ‘come on, surely you can see where your future lies’. That’s Boris One.

    “Boris Two, which nobody’s really seen, is the one where Boris One has been denied and he is then fighting for his survival. And the interesting thing is, all of the risks to Boris about being unscrupulous then become part of his genius.”

    It was this unscrupulous “Boris”, he said, that could be prepared to prorogue parliament and appoint new lords in order to get Brexit through.

  139. says

    Trump tweeted: “‘It appears that an American spy in one of our intelligence agencies may have been spying on our own president. The complaint suggests that this intel agent was listening in on Trump’s conversation with a foreign leader. Was this person officially asked to listen to the conversation or was he or she secretly listening in?’ @GreggJarrett”

    Neal Katyal: “This switch in strategy away from denial may mean Trump finally read something, the transcript of the call. Also …. isn’t this the same guy who 2 days ago denied the story because he knows his calls with foreign leaders are ‘heavily populated’? Now he’s saying the call wasn’t?”

    Walter Shaub: “Indeed. Yesterday, he called the whistle-blower a ‘partisan’. Today his word is ‘spy’. That’s an admission that the whistle-blower’s report is true. Trump must’ve learned there’s corroborating evidence, so he’s pivoted to trying to destroy the whistle-blower. This will get ugly.”

  140. says

    Update to #244 – more anti-Sisi protests in Suez last night.

    Reporting in AJ – “Clashes in Egypt’s Suez on second day of protests against el-Sisi”:

    Security forces in Egypt have clashed with hundreds of protesters in the port city of Suez, according to media reports, firing tear gas and live rounds to disperse crowds calling for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to quit.

    The unrest on Saturday came a day after thousands of people took to the streets in several Egyptian cities in a rare show of dissent against el-Sisi, who has overseen a broad crackdown on dissent including the jailing of thousands of dissidents and the effective banning of protests.

    A protester in Suez told the AFP news agency about 200 people headed to the city’s central area for a second night in a row, where they were met by security forces and armoured vehicles.

    Protests were also reported in Giza, the capital Cairo’s twin city, and in the northern town of Mahalla. Al Jazeera is banned from reporting inside Egypt.

    Meanwhile, a heavy security presence was maintained in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicentre of Egypt’s 2011 revolution that toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

    Videos on social media showed dozens of Egyptians demonstrating in front of el-Sisi’s residence in New York, where he is scheduled to speak at the United Nations General Assembly this week.

    The anti-Sisi demonstrations were met with tens of his supporters also staging a demonstration to chant slogans praising his achievements.

    The Egyptian diaspora in Washington, DC also staged a vigil in front of the White House to denounce el-Sisi. The protesters called on US President Donald Trump to end his support for el-Sisi and demanded that el-Sisi leave the US.

    The AFP, citing an unnamed security source, said at least 74 people had been arrested on Friday in the capital after clashes between police and protesters, who had marched through the streets of Cairo, chanting slogans including “Leave, Sisi!” and demanding the “fall of the regime”.

    The Human Rights Watch rights group has called for their immediate release. The Egyptian government is yet to comment.

    The demonstrations were in response to an online call by an exiled Egyptian businessman, Mohamed Ali, who has accused el-Sisi and his aides of squandering public funds on vanity projects.

    El-Sisi led the military removal of former President Mohamed Morsi in 2013 and won back-to-back landslide elections after running virtually unopposed. But his popularity has been dented amid discontent over rising prices.

    El-Sisi’s government has imposed strict austerity measures in Egypt since 2016 as part of a $12bn loan package from the International Monetary Fund. Meanwhile, nearly one in three Egyptians live below the poverty line on less than $1.40 a day, according to official figures released in July. Other estimates put the figure higher.

    Ali, a construction contractor, upped the pressure on Saturday in an expletive-filled video, imploring Egyptians to join a “million-man march” next Friday and to fill all “major squares” of the country.

    “This is a people’s revolution … We have to link up together as one … and organise going down to the major squares,” he said in a Facebook appeal to his followers.

    Meanwhile, the government’s foreign media accreditation body released a statement late on Saturday cautioning international journalists that their reporting of events “should not be exaggerated”, without explicitly mentioning the protests.

    On Friday night, pro-Sisi television host Amr Adib lambasted Ali, the businessman, showing footage of him allegedly in a drunken stupor.

    Adib urged his fellow countrymen to “take care of the country … because the Muslim Brotherhood want to raze it to the ground”….

  141. says

    Jon Favreau:

    This is absolutely insane. We have lifelong conservatives writing pieces about how Trump should be impeached and @SpeakerPelosi’s advisers are still telling reporters they refuse to hold the President accountable.

    This is pathetic. This is not what we worked so hard for in 2018.

  142. says

    Guardian – “Boris Johnson urged to justify ‘awarding public funds to close friend'”:

    Boris Johnson is under pressure to explain why he allegedly failed to declare an interest in the allocation of public money to a close friend while he was mayor of London.

    The Sunday Times reported that a company run by Jennifer Arcuri, an American technology entrepreneur and friend of Johnson, was given tens of thousands of pounds in public funds and access to overseas trade missions led by Johnson during the prime minister’s time as mayor.

    Downing Street has refused to comment on the reports. But Labour is demanding that No 10 provide a full explanation for how the funds and favours were granted to Arcuri.

    Arcuri’s company Innotech was given £10,000 in sponsorship from a mayoral organisation in 2013, the Sunday Times reports. Johnson was also the guest speaker at several of its events. At one he was appeared at Google hangout alongside Arcuri.

    “I’m always happy to hang out at Innotech”, the then mayor told Arcuri in 2014.

    A year later Arcuri won a £15,000 grant under a government programme to encourage foreign entrepreneurs in the UK, the Sunday Times alleges.

    Despite Arcuri moving back to the US last year, earlier this year her latest company, Hacker House, won a £100,000 cyber skills grant intended to foster UK talent. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which is responsible for the scheme, confirmed to the Guardian it was investigating how the payment was made. But it pointed out the funds were awarded to a UK-registered company.

    The report also suggests that Arcuri was initially refused permission to attend two of the trade mission trips because her business did not meet the eligibility criteria. But after the intervention of Johnson she was allowed on to the missions, according to an email seen by the paper.

    It points out that Johnson was bound by a Greater London Authority code of conduct to declare any private interests. He was also banned from providing undue benefits to friends.

    Arcuri, now 34, was quoted by the Sunday Times as saying: “Any grants received by my companies and any trade mission I joined were purely in respect of my role as a legitimate businesswoman.”

    There is precedent for members of the government being forced to resign over conflicts of interest….

    “My role as a legitimate businesswoman” is making me laugh. Also, Innotech sounds like one of those company names made up for a TV series.

  143. says

    Further to #247 above – BBC – “Modi visit to US: Trump appearance signals importance of India”:

    Five years ago, when Narendra Modi first stepped on US soil as India’s prime minister to chants of his name and “Hail Mother India”, many called it audacious.

    The rock star reception at New York’s Madison Square Garden resembled a victory lap for a leader who had been denied entry into the US for almost a decade.

    This Sunday, the Indian leader will address a far bigger crowd of supporters at an event in Houston, Texas, and standing next to him will be the president of the United States – a visual that many believe will help Mr Modi shrug off some of the international criticism over his controversial move on Kashmir.

    The event, aptly titled “Howdy, Modi!”, is expected to attract a crowd of more than 50,000, the largest gathering of Modi supporters outside India, at the NRG Stadium.

    The organisers, Texas India Forum, have tried to emphasise the bipartisan nature of the event by inviting prominent Democrats including the House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, several other Congressmen [sic], US elected officials, and governors.

    For President Trump, who himself is a big fan of spectacles and huge crowds, the mega event also provides an opportunity to court Indian-Americans for next year’s Presidential election.

    Talking to reporters, the President said: “He’s got a big crowd coming and I guess the crowd just got a lot bigger because they just announced – he asked, would I go, and I will go”.

    With a population of more than 3.2 million, Indian-Americans comprise 1% of the US population and are also among the wealthiest communities in the US.

    The visit comes weeks after the Modi government revoked the partial autonomy enjoyed by Muslim-majority Kashmir and imposed a communication blackout in the region.

    Many Congress representatives including Indian-American Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal have expressed their concern against the move.

    Activists are worried that as leader of the free world, President Trump joining hands with Modi will be seen as an endorsement of his policies.

    “It’s a mistake, Trump shouldn’t be there,” says Arjun Sethi, human rights lawyer and community activist.

    “Instead of saying Howdy Modi, we should be saying Adios Modi,” he adds.

    “I don’t know what’s more embarrassing – that Modi will appear beside Trump or that Trump will appear beside Modi,” tweeted Rutgers University professor Audrey Truschke. “Both countries have my condolences.”

    Thousands of protesters, mostly from the Muslim community, plan to assemble and protest against the Indian Prime Minister near the venue.

    Just days after he takes the stage in Houston, Mr Modi is poised to receive an award from the Gates Foundation for his major “Clean India” campaign that has built millions of toilets across the country.

    Protesters are using this award to draw attention to Modi’s actions on Kashmir.

    They have submitted a petition with 100,000 signatures at the Gates Foundation’s headquarters in Seattle urging it to rescind the award.

    “If you build a toilet in one room and torture a person in another room, you are undeserving of human rights recognition,” says Mr Sethi, referring to allegations of torture in Kashmir by Indian security forces.

    The Gates Foundation hasn’t agreed to retract the honour and its founder, Bill Gates, told the Washington Post in an interview: “We think the head of government that took these moves on sanitation, that’s worthy of note.”

    I haven’t been able to find a complete list of US political attendees, but here’s a partial one from another source: “John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Al Green, Pete Olson, Sheila Jackson Lee, Sylvia Garcia, Greg Abbot, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Ami Bera, Brian Babin, Raja Krishnamurthy, Tulsi Gabbard, Brad Sherman and Governor Eliot Engel of New York.”

    In related news, “Indian-American community divided over Ro Khanna’s Tweet on Hindutva”:

    California Congressman Ro Khanna’s recent tweet in reply to an article on Hindutva has divided the Indian-American community….

    On Aug. 29 Khanna tweeted: “It’s the duty of every American politician of Hindu faith to stand for pluralism, reject Hindutva, and speak for equal rights for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhist & Christians. That is the vision of India my grandfather, Amarnath Vidyalankar fought for.”

    Khanna was replying to an Aug. 1 article published in Caravan by Pieter Friedrich which analyzed the history of Hindutva in the U.S. and its political allies.

    It mentioned Hawaii Congresswoman and 2020 presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard. Titled “All in the Family: The American Sangh’s Affair With Tulsi Gabbard,” the story documented how Gabbard’s early congressional career was heavily financed by leaders and members in American affiliates of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

    Several BJP supporters took to social media to decry Khanna’s tweet.

    But at the same time, there were several who welcomed Khanna’s stand.

    Amar Shergill, an attorney, executive board member of the California Democratic Party (CDP) and chair of the CDP Progressive Caucus, in an op-ed in San Jose Inside warned that despite the mixed reaction to Khanna’s tweet, the full measure of his words is yet to be felt.

    “In the coming months, we will see a debate within the South Asian American community and the Democratic Party regarding the morality of Hindutva and how the party can reach consensus given the political crisis in India,” he wrote.

    “Khanna’s statement goes to the heart of this debate by laying bare the obvious hypocrisy of Hindutva’s American supporters.” He continued that “Khanna’s statement breaks new ground for South Asians and for all in the progressive movement. He is joining progressive South Asian Americans and our allies around the world in standing against oppression. His rejection of Hindutva encourages us all to embrace the principles of fundamental human rights that bind us together as Americans.”

    Arvin Valmuci of Organization for Minorities of India, in a press release, lauded Khanna’s courage in denouncing Hindutva. “As recent documentation published by Caravan shows, the RSS is not only involved in pogroms and massacres against Christians, Dalits, Muslims, and Sikhs in India, but it is also trying to cultivate politicians in America,” the press release said.

    Similarly, Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus, also welcomed Khanna’s stand on Hindutva.

    “We are inspired to see Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17) speaking out for human rights and pluralism as a Hindu,” the organization said on its Facebook page.

    “As Hindus who believe in the values of ekatva (oneness), ahimsa (nonviolence), and seva (selfless service), it is our dharma (duty) to oppose the extremist ideology of Hindutva, or Hindu nationalism. We hope to see other Hindu-American elected officials standing for justice and human rights, grounded in the progressive and pluralistic values of our faith. This is progressive Hindu-American leadership in action.”

  144. blf says

    This is a rather long article, Sicilians dare to believe: the mafia’s cruel reign is over:

    As the Cosa Nostra is finally brought to its knees, our reporter recalls his childhood in Palermo when the mob families felt free to murder at will

    […]

    Following the killings [of anti-mafia magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992], the bosses from Corleone ordered champagne to toast the judges’ murders. Five days later, the government dispatched 5,000 military personnel to contain what by that point had become an all-out war against the Italian state. I was 10 at the time, and for the next four years I played football in streets surrounded by soldiers carrying machine guns. It was a show of force unknown to Italy since the end of the second world war. “Palermo like Beirut” was the headline splashed across the front pages of Italy’s leading newspaper. Sicily was on its knees, and I felt as though it was the beginning of a catastrophe. On the contrary, the bloody summer of 1992 marked the beginning of the end of the world’s most powerful criminal organisation.

    Now those events seem light years away. Palermo has been reborn from the ashes of those bombs and killings. On the windows of dozens of storefronts and restaurants in Via Maqueda, the lively street that runs through the city’s historic centre, is the “Addiopizzo” (Goodbye extortion) sticker, which is a pledge that the business owners have refused to pay protection money to mafia bosses. It’s just one of the many signs that today Cosa Nostra is the one on its knees.

    The effective demise of the Cosa Nostra empire was declared last week by one of the most prominent figures in the Italian judiciary, the former chief prosecutor of Rome, Giuseppe Pignatone.

    In a rare interview on TV with La7, Pignatone, who recently retired after working for the main Italian prosecution offices in the south of Italy, said: “Today the Sicilian mafia is way less dangerous than before. Today we can say that the mafia — the one capable of killing magistrates and attacking the state — has been defeated.”

    He is not alone in his assessment. According to numerous experts, the organisation […] has never been weaker. Decimated by relentless arrests, weighed down by the recent economic crisis, short on cash and on foot soldiers, Cosa Nostra has become a paper tiger.

    Dead? No, because it’s still embedded in Sicilian society; but transformed, yes: reduced, according to many, to the level of a neighbourhood gang.

    “It is very probable that today’s mafia is the weakest in its history,” says Salvatore Lupo, a professor of contemporary history at Palermo University and a renowned expert in the history of Italy’s Cosa Nostra. “The Italian state has obtained unprecedented results. Judicial pressure and the crisis it has caused in recent years is something that mafia bosses have never experienced in the organisation’s history.”

    […]

    Technological advances in the fight against the mafia have played a crucial role. First and foremost is the use of wiretaps and hidden cameras. Bugs placed in bosses’ homes and hidden cameras in mafia hangouts have shed light on the new mobsters’ activities. They have led to compelling evidence in court, with bosses often receiving long sentences in maximum-security prisons.

    Following the deaths of Falcone and Borsellino, the notoriously harsh prison regime, first introduced in 1975, was intensified, aiming at cutting off mafia inmates completely from their former criminal associates. The new regime banned the use of telephones, any association or correspondence with other prisoners, or meetings with third parties. In order to avoid living a completely isolated life, many mafiosi decide to turn state’s witness.

    In Italy they are called pentiti, literally “repentant”. They are mafiosi who, in exchange for lighter sentences, have testified in court against their former associates, thereby contributing to additional arrests and the further weakening of Cosa Nostra. Today, more than 300 former mobsters are collaborating with authorities in Sicily.

    The economic crisis, which has hit Italy hard, has also affected the mafia. […] In wiretaps, bosses have complained of the economic crisis and have admitted the organisation’s increased weakness.

    “What kind of bloody mafia are we?” asked Alfredo Giordano, a former mafioso from Palermo caught on wiretap. “The mafia of lost causes.” He wasn’t even able to recover objects that were stolen from his daughter.

    […]

    It was 22 May 2017 when two hitmen killed the boss Giuseppe Dainotti, who every morning around 7.50am would ride his bike to the grocery. […] The residents in the Noce quarter of Palermo couldn’t make sense of what had happened […]. People had become so unaccustomed to hearing gunshots that they mistook the sounds for fireworks.

    Two obelisks were erected as a memorial on either side of the motorway where Falcone’s car was blown up in 1992. Hundreds of visitors stop, in both directions, to leave flowers and pray. They do the same in front of the memorial placard on Via D’Amelio where Borsellino was murdered.

    Gigantic masterpieces of street art on the buildings of Palermo, depicting mafia victims, have taken the place of pro-mafia slogans. The city’s scars have become monuments and an indelible reminder that in the war between good and evil, good has gained the upper hand.

    [… T]he mafia bosses who used to drive fancy cars, buy lavish villas and feel arrogant enough to take on the Italian state, like the boss Dainotti, now move and die on a bicycle.

  145. says

    Adam Schiff on @CNNSOTU: ‘I have spoken with a number of my colleagues over the last week, and this seems different in kind. We may very well have crossed the rubicon here’.”

    [Video at the link.]

    BIG THIS AM: @RepAdamSchiff says that w/Trump-Ukraine-reports, ‘we very well may have crossed the Rubicon here’.

    ‘I have been very reluctant to go down the path of impeachment …. but … that may be the only remedy that is co-equal to the evil that that conduct represents’.”

  146. says

    Susan Hennessey: “Congress should make clear that if the White House stonewalls on the transcripts, it will treat the president’s statements as confirmation that press reports are accurate and proceed on that basis. If WH wishes to correct or dispute that record, it can provide the transcripts.”

    Precisely. Parallel to the British situation described @ #132 above.

  147. blf says

    ‘We the People March’: Protest in DC to ‘hold Trump accountable’:

    Perceived [sic] assault on US democracy decried in rally billed as reminder to elected officials that they work for people.

    Demonstrators have marched through Washington DC, to protest against the policies of US President [sic] Donald Trump’s administration and demand accountability from politicians.

    […]

    Among the issues cited by protesters as reasons for participation were the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants, the accusations [sic] of collusion with Russia during the 2016 election cycle, and the Republican president’s [sic] alleged [sic] conflicts of interest.

    “The members of Congress and especially Nancy Pelosi need to feel the pressure to hold the Trump regime accountable,” organiser Amy Siskind told Hollywood Life earlier this week.

    “They have failed at that … we are rolling the dice if we are just waiting for 2020,” she added […].

    […]

    Anxiety over the state of US democracy was palpable among the protesters, most of whom were middle-aged or older. And while they expressed rage at the Trump administration, many were also deeply frustrated with the way the Democratic Party goes about in its efforts to challenge the president.

    […]

    “There should be people as far as we can see, as we see in Hong Kong, as we saw in South Korea a few years ago,” [a protester] said, disappointed the march did not have a higher turnout.

    “I’m crying because America needs to wake up. We are so complacent and we have no idea what’s at stake.”

  148. says

    Susan Hennessey:

    Trump has now admitted substance of news reporting that he suggested a foreign leader investigate a US citizen political opponent. Congress must now move to establish a record consisting of 1) tapes or transcripts of calls, 2) IC whistleblower complaint, 3) independent testimony.

    A singular focus on obtaining the whistleblower complaint would be a mistake. Congress should fight for it, but it’s still only an allegation. Congress needs to simultaneously go after actual transcripts and also start interviewing other possible witnesses.

    Any administration officials who appear to testify on any other matters, should be aggressively questioned under oath as to whether they have personal knowledge or have heard of anyone within their agencies who has personal knowledge relevant to this issue.

  149. tomh says

    @ SC #277

    Rudy Giuliani accused me of exposing Paul Manafort’s Ukraine deals to help U.S. Democrats. That’s a lie.

    By Serhiy Leshchenko
    September 21, 2019 at 1:57 p.m. PDT
    Serhiy Leshchenko is a Ukrainian journalist and political activist.

    On Aug. 19, 2016, I convened a news conference in Kiev at which I revealed previously secret records of payments made by the former pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych to Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. (Yanukovych fled the country in February 2014 after he was toppled by our Revolution of Dignity, a popular uprising on the streets of Kiev.) The information came from the “black ledger of the Party of Regions,” which was obtained by an anonymous source in the burned-out ruins of the headquarters of Yanukoych’s party. Yanukovych had used the ledger to keep records of his illegal transactions. At that time, although I was a member of parliament, I continued to combine that position with my journalistic work, which is allowed by the laws of Ukraine.

    I will always be angry at Manafort. His work contributed greatly to Yanukovych’s election victory in 2010; Yanukovych then used his position as president to enrich himself and his inner circle. I have no doubt that Yanukovych paid Manafort for his services out of the funds he robbed from Ukrainian taxpayers.

    Corruption is harmful whether it takes place America or Ukraine. My desire to expose Manafort’s doings was motivated by the desire for justice. Neither Hillary Clinton, nor Joe Biden, nor John Podesta, nor George Soros asked me to publish the information from the black ledger. I wanted to obtain accountability for the lobbyist whose client immersed Ukraine in a blood bath during the Revolution of Dignity and the subsequent war in eastern Ukraine, when Yanukovych called on Russia to send troops.

    A federal judge in the United States later sentenced Manafort to 7½ years in prison for his many crimes. Among his offenses was his non-payment of taxes on undeclared income whose origins were revealed by Yanukovych’s secret accounts.

    Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the Manafort revelations would become fodder for the U.S. elections in 2020. President Trump’s lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, the mouthpiece of this campaign, is not only attempting to rehabilitate Manafort but is also working to undermine U.S. relations with Ukraine, which has been confronting Russian aggression on its own for more than five years. Giuliani and his associates are trying to drag our newly elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky, into a conflict between two foreign political parties, drastically limiting Ukraine’s room for maneuver in respect to the United States, perhaps its most important international partner.

    Giuliani attempted to visit Ukraine in May 2019 with the express purpose of involving Zelensky in this process. His aim was quite clear: He was planning to ask Zelensky to intervene in an American election on the side of Trump.

    Zelensky refused, forcing Giuliani to cancel his trip. Shortly after that, Giuliani went on Fox News, where he called me “[an enemy] of the president [and] of the United States.” This accusation had a devastating effect on my political career. I had been helping Zelenksy’s team since January — but now Giuliani’s smear cost me a job in the new administration. Not wanting to create problems for Zelensky, I withdrew from consideration.

    Giuliani’s entire approach is built on disinformation and the manipulation of facts. Giuliani has developed a conspiracy theory in which he depicts my revelations about Manafort as an intervention in the 2016 U.S. election in favor of the Democratic Party. In his May interview on Fox, Giuliani even claimed that I was convicted of a corresponding crime.

    The facts do not support this allegation. Here’s the truth: The administrative court — which has long had a reputation as the most corrupt in Ukraine — ruled in December 2018 that I had acted illegally by disclosing the payments to Manafort. We appealed, and the verdict was suspended. And in the summer of this year, we won the appeal and the court’s decision was completely annulled. The appeal concluded that all the charges against me were unfounded, and even obliged my opponents to reimburse me for $100 in legal costs.

    But Giuliani continues to quote this court decision even though it never attained legal force.

    Giuliani also persists in claiming that the “black ledger” is a fake. He stated this most recently just a few days ago in an interview with CNN. In fact, the book is a genuine document. Expert examinations have confirmed the authenticity of the signatures shown in it.

    Giuliani has also been attacking the fearless activists from our Anti-Corruption Action Center, who managed to uphold their ideals even though they were persecuted by the previous government of President Petro Poroshenko.

    By repeating this lie, Giuliani is not only deceiving American citizens. He is not only intervening in Ukrainian politics, smearing parliamentarians and officials of the presidential administration. He is also trying to drag the new president of Ukraine into an American election, which is absolutely unacceptable.

    I know that leaders of the three U.S. congressional committees that are now investigating the whistleblower case have asked the White House and the State Department to share all correspondence regarding the people involved in this story, including me. As a person who has had direct experience of many of these events, I express my readiness to testify to the U.S. Congress about what has been happening for the past six months in the gray zone of Ukrainian-American relations.

  150. blf says

    Ozland’s nazi PM is currently in the States to, among other things, collude with hair furur. This did not going quite according to plan, Scott Morrison scrambles to contain political mushroom cloud after Trump raises nuclear option with Iran:

    […]
    It seemed appropriate, albeit entirely surreal, to be inducted into the vagaries of the Trumpiverse by bearing witness, in the Oval Office, to the American president suddenly raising the spectre of using nuclear weapons against Iran.

    […]

    The leader of the free world kicked off proceedings by announcing the administration was now imposing sanctions on Iran, targeting the national bank, in response to Tehran’s alleged involvement in drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities last weekend.

    As could have been predicted, these were the biggest sanctions anyone had ever seen. The highest sanctions ever imposed on a country, Trump purred. We’ve never done it to this level. The treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, then appeared in the corner of the room, just in case we’d failed to be sufficiently awed by the scale of the undertaking. This is very big, Mnuchin duly reported, and departed.

    The president then volunteered he intended to have a quiet word to Scott Morrison over the course of their meetings […] about potential military options in Iran, and whether Australia might be persuaded to join a new coalition of the willing.

    We’ll be discussing that later, Trump said. Given this minor mic drop had n-o-t been telegraphed by Australian officials in advance, Morrison maintained his best poker face as the president informed the hyperventilating press pack I always like a coalition.

    We’ll see what happens, Trump said, sanguine with his forward sizzle. He then settled his face into an expression he clearly regarded as Delphic.

    Before we could process the information that Australia might be off to war in Iran, things spiralled. The unheralded military action could be — wait for it — nuclear.

    Trump noted America had renovated the arsenal and acquired new nuclear capability, and the rest of the military was all brand new.

    We all hope, and Scott hopes, we all pray that we never have to use nuclear, Trump intoned.

    It was unclear precisely what Scott’s hopes were just in that moment.

    I’d hazard a guess the prime minister’s most fervent aspiration was his host would stop talking. Preferably five minutes ago.

    […]

    There was another plot twist before day was done.

    Having telegraphed in the Oval he intended to talk to Morrison about military coalitions, by the time we rolled around to the official press conference in the East Room, with everyone back on their talking points, Iran was so yesterday.

    It hadn’t really come up, Trump told reporters still attempting to process what on earth was going on. (When I say reporters, just to be clear, I mean the Australian contingent. The Americans are entirely used to this circus and neatly prune the tangible from the hypothetical without even breaking a sweat).

    […]

  151. says

    From Eric Boehlert:

    Signaling that it’s going to work hard to elevate Donald Trump during the upcoming presidential campaign, The New York Times recently suggested that Trump and Elizabeth Warren are politically similar because both offer up a version of “populism.” They just do it from different perspectives, the article posited. Specifically, the Times dissected speeches that each gave on the same day last week. “The two back-to-back addresses laid out the competing versions of populism that could come to define the presidential campaign,” the newspaper noted.

    This is wildly misguided. It’s also a continuation of the media’s Both Sides Olympics, and represents a depressing preview of 2020 coverage, where journalists scramble to make sure Trump and whoever the Democratic nominee is appear to be somewhat similar, or at least of similar stature. (The Times is not alone on this: “Trump v Warren rallies preview possible 2020 populist duel,” read a BBC headline last week.)

    […] Words matter, which is why journalists should be reaching for “nativist,” “white nationalist,” and “authoritarian”—not “populist”—when identifying Trump.

    […] It’s a concerted effort to pretend that Trump is a serious person like Warren, and has given lots of thought to his political philosophy in terms of a populist agenda. In other words, it’s a complete fantasy. But it’s one the press is very comfortable promoting. […]

    Reminder: Populism represents a political struggle on behalf of regular people against elite economic forces. It’s an ideology that pits ordinary people against a self-serving elite, appealing to a sense that the political establishment has grown corrupt and unresponsive to the needs of everyday people. Today, Trump’s brand of pro-corporate, anti-worker politics represents the exact opposite.

    Indeed, “populist” and “economic anxiety” were two of the media’s biggest Trump cons of the 2016 campaign. […]

    Trump’s only signature piece of signed legislation was a gift basket of tax cuts for corporate America and the very wealthy. Meanwhile, Trump spent most of 2017 trying to kill Obamacare, which would have meant the elimination of healthcare coverage for millions of working-class Americans. He also tried to block overtime pay for workers making less than $47,000 a year, and abolish the government block grant program that helps fund Meals on Wheels for the elderly. […] Basically, since taking office, Trump has relentlessly favored the wealthy over members of the working class.

    Contrast that with Warren’s aggressively populist plans to curb the power of the big banks, big pharma, big oil, and the increasingly monopolistic tech companies. Indeed, she’s running on one of the most aggressively populist agendas in recent American presidential history. […]

    “Message to those in the news media who keep calling Donald Trump a “populist”: I do not think that word means what you think it means,” warned Times columnist Paul Krugman last year. “When you describe Trump using that word, you are in effect complicit in his lie — especially when you do it in the context of supposedly objective reporting.”

    […] The Times piece last week essentially conceded that Trump has not governed as a populist, but stressed, “Mr. Trump has still positioned himself for re-election as an anti-establishment brawler.” Oh, so Trump has positioned himself as a populist. How, in part, does he do that? He does that by having news outlets such as The New York Times publish long articles about how he’s supposedly a populist, of course.

  152. says

    Pelosi escalates

    If admin ‘persists in blocking whistleblower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the President, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation’.”

    It’s something, at least.

  153. johnson catman says

    re SC @299: Yeah, Pelosi will impose double-secret probation on the Orange Toddler-Tyrant. That will show him!

  154. says

    Analysis of the appearance of various Trump toadies on the Sunday shows:

    […] Appearing on the Sunday shows, the sunny meadow where our nation’s ethics and dignity go to die, an increasingly smarmy Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian officials in his capacity as Trump’s “lawyer.” […] Pompeo suggested the efforts were appropriate in order to determine if Vice President Joe Biden was involved in “election interference” in the 2016 elections.

    Surprisingly, he did not spontaneously combust after making that argument.

    Trump Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin’s efforts to defend Trump were similarly ad-hoc and dismissive. Mnuchin, too, offered the pretense that Trump’s actions were warranted to find out “what, indeed, did Biden’s son do”—a crooked and propaganda-promoting answer, given the prior debunkings of the Trump/Giuliani claims.

    Mnuchin’s main talking point, however, was that everything about the story was “details.”

    Host Jake Tapper: “So it’s okay for Don Junior and Ivanka [to do foreign business] but not for Biden?”

    “Again, I don’t really want to go into more of these details…”

    After Tapper pointed out that not only did Trump suddenly release military aid to Ukraine after holding it up without explanation, he increased it by “an additional I think $140 million that they didn’t expect.”

    An extraordinarily wooden Mnuchin, sitting as rigidly as a ventriloquist’s dummy: “You’re getting into details.”

    It is not often the nation has a Treasury Secretary so uninterested in details; Mnuchin appears to have an outright hostility to them.

    From the deer-in-headlights efforts of both cabinet secretaries, it seems that the White House is still scrambling to invent plausible talking points for this newest Trump foray into explicitly criminal behavior. […] some of the White House defense may have been scuttled by Trump and Giuliani’s eager confirmation of their acts and by Vice President Mike Pence’s refusals to deny his own personal involvement. […]

    Trump, in the meantime, is said to be “enjoying” the public drama. He evidently sees no danger, either because he does not understand that trading military aid for election dirt is a criminal act or because he is confident the Republican efforts to protect him will overwhelm any Democratic efforts to hold him to account.

    Link

    From the readers comments:

    That’s the problem. In today’s evangelical world, god doesn’t want people to look at the details because they will find the devil.
    ——————-
    The Ukraine Mutiny
    ————————–
    As I predicted, they went from “that never happened” to “yeah we did it because we can!”

    But in record time.

    Oh by the way 69% of Americans now “personally dislike” Trump.

    Democrats who think we shouldn’t force Republicans in every district to spend a year defending the president are nuts.

  155. Akira MacKenzie says

    I don’t use Twitter anymore so you may have to look this up, but convicted felon and native informant, Dinesh D’Souza, just compared the Left’s admiration of Greta Thunberg’s climate activism to Nazi propaganda pics of pig-tailed ”Aryan” girls.

  156. says

    From the final summary of today’s Guardian Brexit liveblog (link @ #269 above):

    Jeremy Corbyn is facing a clash with party members tomorrow over his plan to postpone a vote on what stance the party should adopt in a referendum on Brexit until after the general election. The party’s national executive committee has approved a motion saying this decision must “only” be taken after the proposed Brexit renegotiation…. But surveys suggest the Labour membership is overwhelming in favour of remain, and at least 80 motions have been submitted saying the party should commit to remain now. Delegates will debate this decision tomorrow afternoon, but whether the conference ends up taking a firm decision, or settling on a compromise, may depend on the wording of the composite motion that is being drafted in a private meeting this evening.

  157. says

    LOL:

    TRUMP: I did it

    PELOSI: These troubling allegations must be investigated

    TRUMP: No, it was me

    PELOSI: This raises more questions and I won’t rest until we get to the bottom of it

    TRUMP: I broke the law

    PELOSI: We will collect all the facts and determine if any law was broken

    Seriously, though, there are reports that Pelosi and Schiff spoke and coordinated before they each made their public statements today. There appears to be movement in the right direction.

  158. blf says

    John Crace in the Gauniad on teh NKofE’s “official opposition” conference, Labour commits hara-kiri by copying Tories’ playbook on infighting:

    Party conference fun continues with a failed purge and Brexit policy remaining a moving target

    Classic Dom [Dominic Cummings†]. He’s got the Labour party just where he wants it. Taking a leaf out of the Conservative party playbook. The Tories have spent the last few years fighting over Europe and conducting drive-by shootings on each other. And the lesson that Labour appears to have taken from this is that if it wants to be successful at the next election and form the next government, then it has to behave in much the same way.

    There were so many things that Labour could have been talking about on the opening two days of its party conference. Boris Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament. The imminent supreme court judgment that could lead to a recall. The Incredible Sulk’s alleged cavalier attitude to public money […] while London mayor. The lack of any progress towards a Brexit deal. The Non-Papers that happened to contain Non-Ideas.

    Labour could even have used the time to make sure that some of its policies — free prescription charges and reversing cuts to legal aid — received a proper hearing. Instead it chose to settle some old scores by trying to remove Tom Watson as deputy leader in case he accidentally wound up in charge if Jeremy Corbyn stepped down and then having to fend off accusations of incompetence and dogmatism in the leader’s office after the resignation of Andrew Fisher, who will step down as Corbyn’s main policy adviser before the end of the year. Why make yourself look like a party fit for government, when you can have so much more fun committing hara-kiri?

    […]

      † If I recall correctly, previously I’d guessed Crace’s mysterious joke about “Dom and Dommer” referred to Johnson as Dom and Cummings as Dommer. This, and other columns, makes clear I had that backwards — Dom is the “advisor” Cummings, and Dommer is the puppet Johnson.

  159. blf says

    Leaked letter suggests US is rallying UN member states to oppose abortion:

    […]
    The US is understood to have written to UN member states urging them to join a growing coalition of countries rallying against abortion, in what seems to be the latest attempt by the Trump administration to rollback women’s rights.

    A letter, seen by the Guardian, is believed to have been sent to governments deemed sympathetic to the administration’s view on reproductive health.

    In the letter, apparently signed by the secretary of state Mike Pompeo and health and human services secretary Alex Azar, governments are encouraged to sign a joint statement opposing harmful UN policies that promote sexual and reproductive health and rights.

    The statement will be presented to a high-level meeting on universal health coverage at the UN general assembly on Monday, says the letter, which suggests multilateral agreements have been misinterpreted to promote pro-choice policies.

    As a key priority in global health promotion, we respectfully request that your government join the United States in ensuring that every sovereign state has the ability to determine the best way to protect the unborn and defend the family as the foundational unity of society vital to children thriving and leading healthy lives, reads the letter.

    […]

    The message called on governments to sign a joint statement — similar to one delivered to the World Health Assembly in May — that would be presented at Monday’s meeting, and to work together to achieve an outcome document … that reflects our shared values.

    The May statement was signed by the US, Brazil, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Haiti, Ghana, Nigeria and Iraq. It stated that references to sexual and reproductive health cause confusion and misunderstanding. It called on the WHO to focus on terms that enjoy broad consensus among member states.

    […]

    The Trump administration has made repeated attempts to dilute and remove language from decades-old UN agreements.

    Intense lobbying by US officials in April resulted in the removal of references to sexual and reproductive health from a UN security council resolution on combatting rape in conflict.

    The US previously attempted to water down language and remove the word “gender” from UN documents.

    […]

    Loosely related, the raping children cult is trying to ensure there is a continuing supply, Tens of thousands march for ban on abortions in Slovakia:

    Tens of thousands marched in Slovakia’s capital on Sunday calling for a total ban on abortions in the predominantly Catholic central European country.

    Abortion laws in Slovakia are relatively liberal compared to those in countries like Poland or Malta [or N.Ireland], which have among the strictest laws in the European Union and often allow them only in cases like rape.

    In Slovakia, on-demand abortions are legal up until 12 weeks of a pregnancy while abortions for health reasons are allowed until 24 weeks.

    Conservative and far-right lawmakers want to allow them only to up to six or eight weeks of pregnancy or ban them outright, and parliament starts debating draft laws to restrict abortions this month.

    […] A Focus agency opinion poll this month found 55.5% of people disagreed with restricting abortions while 34.6% supported the move.

    […]

    The most recent official census in 2011 found 62% of the country identify as Roman Catholics, while 6% are Protestants.

  160. says

    Update to #279 – Guardian – “Boris Johnson repeatedly declines to comment on claims he ‘awarded public funds to friend'”:

    Boris Johnson has repeatedly declined to comment on reported allegations he failed to declare close personal links to an American woman who received thousands of pounds in public business funding while he was mayor of London.

    The prime minister, questioned by reporters on his plane en route to the UN general assembly (UNGA) in New York, refused to answer six questions about his links to Jennifer Arcuri, a US technology entrepreneur.

    Asked if he wanted to deny any part of the story, or to comment on the nature of his relationship with Arcuri, Johnson also declined to be drawn.

    Asked about the reports, Johnson said: “I’m here to talk about what we’re doing in the UN, and this country’s commitment to tackling climate change, stopping loss of biodiversity and our role in serving as a bridge between our European friends and the Americans when it comes to the crisis in the Gulf.”

    Asked whether a further inquiry might be merited into any potential conflict of interests, Johnson said: “I’m here to talk about, as I said, what we’re going to talk about at the UN.”

    Asked whether he and Arcuri had ever had a sexual relationship, Johnson said: “If you’ll forgive me, I’m going to talk exclusively about what we’re doing here at the UN.”

    He declined to answer three further questions, including being invited to deny any of the allegations made in the Sunday Times article, saying: “I’m going to talk about what we’re doing in the UN.”…

  161. says

    More re #191 – Guardian – “The Trump administration’s crackdown on campus criticism of Israel is Orwellian”:

    If you criticize Israeli policy, you will lose your federal funding. That is the message the Department of Education is sending with its threat to withdraw federal support for the Consortium for Middle East Studies, operated jointly by Duke University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, if it does not alter the content of its programming.

    Just three months after Education Secretary Betsy Devos ordered an investigation into a conference about the politics of the Gaza Strip that the consortium had sponsored – an authoritarian threat, in and of itself – the Department of Education issued a letter demanding that the Duke-UNC consortium remake its curriculum. Or else.

    The Department of Education’s letter, published last Tuesday, charged that the Duke-UNC program was failing to meet its federal mandate – by focusing too much on cultural studies and topics like “Love and Desire in Modern Iran” and not enough on “advancing the security and economic stability of the United States”. In other words, it seems the program was teaching its students about the complex and varied cultures of countries in the Middle East instead of how to dominate them.

    The letter did not mention directly the conference on Gaza, during which several well-respected American, Israeli and Palestinian experts spoke. But it didn’t have to. The DeVos-ordered investigation is part of the Trump administration’s attempt to crack down on campus criticism of Israeli policy – a goal to which the administration made its commitment explicit when it appointed Kenneth L Marcus assistant secretary of civil rights in the Department of Education. That the investigation was followed by the threat of defunding is an indication of just how serious the Trump administration is about this goal.

    Marcus’s confirmation was opposed by major civil rights organizations, including the NAACP and the Human Rights Campaign, as well as by the National Bar Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Council of Jewish Women. The reasons are manifold – for example, Marcus’s opposition to affirmative action, his spotty record on disability rights, and his shaky commitment to LGBTQ equality. A letter signed by the more than 30 groups that opposed Marcus’s nomination noted: “Mr. Marcus’s attitudes and beliefs fail to demonstrate a commitment to protecting students of color from discrimination.” It also observed that Marcus had, since leaving the Bush Department of Education, sought to use anti-discrimination law “to chill a particular point of view, rather than address unlawful discrimination”.

    By “chill a particular point of view,” what the civil rights groups’ letter was referring to was Marcus’s work as a professional pro-Israel operative, and, more specifically, his efforts to use civil rights law to shut down the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS) on university campuses. Marcus articulated his strategy in a 2013 op-ed for the Jerusalem Post. “At many campuses, the prospect of litigation has made a difference,” he wrote. “If a university shows a failure to treat initial complaints seriously, it hurts them with donors, faculty, political leaders and prospective students.”

    Pace Marcus’s op-ed, the threat of litigation or the withdrawal of funds would be enough to pressure universities into clamping down on BDS and BDS-adjacent activism. But, more recently, since assuming his post at the Department of Education Marcus has attempted to take this strategy even further, pushing the government to define the BDS movement as antisemitic and designate anti-occupation and Palestine solidarity activism as violations of Jewish students’ civil rights. A range of groups, from the free-speech watchdog Fire to the liberal pro-Israel lobby J Street, have warned that the conflation of anti-Zionism with antisemitism poses serious threats to campus free speech.

    Yet the significance, and the reasons behind, the Education Department’s attack on the Duke-UNC program goes beyond just Israel-Palestine and even the politics of Middle East studies. In a Trump administration marked by unceasing staff turnover, stark policy reversals, and more general unpredictability and chaos, one of the few constants has been the president and his allies’ hostility to institutions of higher education.

    …And the UNC-Duke consortium letter was not even the sole higher-education-related punch the Trump administration landed this week. The National Labor Relations Board announced it would move to strip the right to unionize from teaching and research assistants at private universities.

    Indeed, when it comes to higher education, the Trump administration’s approach is uncharacteristically coherent, to fight its enemies – variously conceived of as liberals, Arabs, Muslims, Palestinians, LGBTQ people, people of color, and women – by enforcing ideological constraints, amplifying conservative viewpoints, dismantling or manipulating anti-discrimination statutes and, when possible, slashing federal funding.

  162. says

    Independent – “Police officer handcuffs and arrests 6-year-old child after ‘tantrum’ at school”:

    A police officer in Florida is under investigation after he arrested two children, aged six and eight, in separate episodes at a school on Thursday, police said.

    The officer, Dennis Turner, has been suspended pending the outcome of an internal investigation, Orlando Rolón, the police chief, said in a statement.

    Mr Turner was working as a school resource officer at a charter school in Orlando when he arrested the children, Mr Rolón said.

    Mr Turner was assigned to the reserve officer programme. Details of the programme were unavailable, but the Orlando Sentinel reported that it is made up of retired officers from the Orlando Police Department.

    Departmental policy requires officers to get a supervisor’s approval when arresting anyone under the age of 12.

    During the arrest of the eight-year-old, the transporting officer was unaware that Mr Turner had failed to get a supervisor’s approval, the chief said.

    The child was processed through the juvenile assessment centre and released to a relative shortly after, Mr Rolón said.

    The gender of the child and what led to the arrest were not disclosed. Police did not release the children’s names.

    The officer who transported the six-year-old to the centre verified that Mr Turner had not received approval for the arrest and immediately halted the process. According to Mr Rolón, the child was returned to school before being processed.

    Meralyn Kirkland told the television station WKMG that the six-year-old, her granddaughter Kaia, was arrested after having a tantrum at the charter school, Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy.

    Mr Turner served on the police force for 23 years and retired in June 2018, according to the department….

    Mr Turner was charged with aggravated child abuse in 1998 in connection with his seven-year-old son, the Orlando Sentinel reported. He was suspended pending the outcome of the investigation, The Sentinel reported, but the disposition of the case was unclear on Sunday.

    In 2016, he was reprimanded for using excessive force after stunning a man five times with a Taser during an arrest, the newspaper reported….

  163. says

    Judd Legum:

    1. A massive Facebook Page called “I Love America” — which has 1.1 million followers — is actually run by Ukrainians

    Recently, the page has started pushing caustic pro-Trump propaganda

    It’s the tip of the iceberg

    2. The Ukrainian “I Love America” page is repurposing memes used by the Internet Research Agency, the Russian group highlighted in the Mueller report that interfered in the 2016 election

    The big difference is this operation is MUCH BIGGER

    3. “I Love America” is part of a complex network of Ukrainian-run Facebook pages that seek to amass large audiences and then funnel them to rabidly pro-Trump pages.

    These include pages featuring cute dogs and Jesus

    4. The reach of this Ukrainian network of Facebook pages is absolutely extraordinary.

    Over the last 90 days, just the major pages in this network has as much reach on Facebook than the New York Times and Washington Post COMBINED

    5. Facebook tells me this network of Ukrainians pretending to be American, pushing pro-Trump propaganda DOESN’T VIOLATE ITS POLICIES

    The company won’t hold itself accountable.

    That’s why I’m doing this work.

    If you value it, sign up for my newsletter [link]

    6. Ukrainian pages like “I Love America” and “Cute or Not?” and “I Love Jesus Forever” are now cross-posting content from Ukrainian pages like “Click Like, if you love Donald Trump as much as we do” and “God bless Donald Trump and God bless America”

    7. The content on these more explicitly pro-Trump pages is incendiary and frequently false.

    For example one of the pages includes a meme stating Hillary Clinton sold access to her server to foreign governments

    Examples of content and inks to his newsletter at the link.

  164. says

    A Republican running against @realDonaldTrump just suggested the president has committed a crime punishable by death — treason.

    @GovBillWeld argued on @Morning_Joe that Trump leaving office should be the compromise to avoid execution.

    Talk about moving the Overton Window!

    I’m not sure I saw it coming that a seasoned Republican would call for Trump’s execution before Nancy Pelosi called for his impeachment.”

    They were there to talk about their oped about the Republicans canceling primaries in a number of states, but Weld went right to treason and execution. And stayed there. It was wild.

  165. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Bill Weld is an idiot. Treason is one of the few crimes that is defined in the Constitution:
    “No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. … The Constitution defines treason as specific acts, namely “levying War against [the United States], or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

    Trump has certainly committed impeachable offenses, but impeachment is not a legal remedy, but rather a political one. It became a bridge too far when Democrats didn’t take back the Senate in 2018. Investigate the hell out of him. Force Republicans to defend this indefensible cad, and proclaim his crimes to the heavens. But all voting to impeach will do is turn the middle 40% of the country against the Democrats.

  166. says

    SC @305: “In this episode of criminality alone, Trump has corruptly roped in the State Department, the Vice President, the DNI, the DoJ, the Treasury, and who knows who else.”

    Right. so he has. Good point. And his personal lawyer.

  167. says

    From Rachel Maddow, last Thursday night:

    Somewhere out there right now in America is a whistleblower from the intelligence community – who has gone through channels and done things by the book – and sought whistleblower protection under law to alert Congress in good faith about a serious and urgent matter that reportedly involves the president, his communications with foreign leaders, some sort of ‘promise’ that he has made to foreign leaders and potentially some shenanigans involving in the nation of Ukraine.

    Bit by bit, the substance of the complaint seems to be coming to the surface, while hour-by-hour, the Trump administration appears to be fixing its crosshairs on the whistleblower.

    From Trump, yesterday:

    […] just so you understand, the conversation I had with the President of Ukraine was absolutely perfect. And people better find out who these people are that are trying to subvert our country, because here we go again. These are bad people.

  168. Akira MacKenzie says

    a_ray_in_dilbert_space @ 329

    Trump has certainly committed impeachable offenses, but impeachment is not a legal remedy, but rather a political one.

    I’m sorry, I must have mistaken about what that whole “high crimes and misdemeanors” part of Constitution meant. I thought that phrase was about… well… crime, not politics.

    But all voting to impeach will do is turn the middle 40% of the country against the Democrats.

    I got a feeling that the 40% you’re talking about would have voted for Trump regardless of what the Dems do. In the meantime, what about the all the liberals who turned in 2018 and expects the House to do what they gave them a majority to do? Or, is this yet another one of those “SHUT UP LEFTIES AND DO WHAT THE CENTRISTS TELL YOU!” strategies that have helped the Dems so well in the past.

    Also, need I remind you that the improbability of Bill Clinton being removed from office didn’t stop the Republicans from impeaching him for far, far, less? The attempt didn’t seem to hurt them politically.

  169. says

    From NBC News:

    Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said in a Sunday tweet if Trump “asked or pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate his political rival, either directly or through his personal attorney, it would be troubling in the extreme.”

    “Critical for the facts to come out,” he said.

    Both Trump and Rudy Giuliani already said they asked Ukraine’s president to provide dirt on one of Trump’s political rivals, Biden.

    From E.J. Dionne Jr.:

    […] Even Republican politicians who know how dangerous this situation is prefer to stay in their bunkers and hope to survive. The GOP’s electorate is dominated by Trump’s supporters. Staying mum provides protection from opponents inside their own party — and from their own voters. And if they broke ranks, Trump’s media allies would attack them viciously.

    By playing for time, these taciturn Republicans will be able to tell us once Trump is gone how they knew all along just how bad he was.

    But when the greatest threat to our country is the corruption of our constitutional system, might at least some of the GOP’s leading politicians decide that there are worse things than losing a primary, or being upbraided by Fox News?

    Washington Post link

    Trump’s media allies, (some of them at least), might be willing to break ranks if more Republican politicians spoke out against Trump’s policies, and stated their opposition to the crimes Trump has committed and is committing.

    From Steve Benen:

    […] Trump will go as far as his party will allow him to go, and if recent history is any guide, congressional Republicans are generally prepared to let the president do as he pleases.

    It’s likely we’ll see this latest scandal unfold in the same way. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) appeared on Fox News on Friday, conceding he doesn’t know “the actual facts,” but nevertheless telling viewers he sees the controversy as a “deep state” conspiracy.

    A few hours later, The Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein added, “Every time Trump breaks a window, Republicans in Congress obediently sweep up the glass.”

    The consequences of such obedience for our system of government are staggering.

  170. says

    Watch as @RepRoKhanna speaks on his own heritage hours after President Trump held a rally-like event with India’s Prime Minister.

    ‘The President is misinformed if he thinks showing up at this rally is going to help him with the Indian-American vote’.”

    As he says, Hillary Clinton got 80% of the Indian-American vote, not that you’d know it from the pro-Modi trolls and bots populating this response thread.

  171. says

    What Trump actually said:

    […] “The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, was largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place, was largely the fact that we don’t want our people, like Vice President Biden and his son, creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine,” Trump told reporters Sunday morning. “And Ukraine, Ukraine’s got a lot of problems.”

    Later in Houston, Trump appeared to backtrack, saying, “I don’t even want to mention it, but certainly I’d have the right to” raise Biden’s name with Zelensky….

    Washington Post link

    Yes, Trump said “creating to the corruption,” and nobody even flags the gaffe. We just automatically translate it to “adding to the corruption,” so that Trump sort of makes sense.

    Also from the Washington Post:

    “What he’s been saying in public is the kind of thing I used to prosecute people for doing in private,” [Nick Akerman, a former Watergate prosecutor] said.

    Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, said Trump’s confounding public behavior – for example, she said, “he says stuff in tweets that seems blatantly illegal” – allows for two competing theories.

    “Are we giving him too much credit and he’s just so undisciplined that he can’t help but say and tweet these things?” she asked. “Or is he so diabolical that putting it out there is like a jujitsu move?”

  172. blf says

    More on Kamila Shamsie and the revocation of the Nelly Sachs prize (see @146 and @190), Hundreds of authors protest after Kamila Shamsie’s book award is revoked:

    […]
    In an open letter published today in the London Review of Books, the writers, who also include Noam Chomsky, Amit Chaudhuri, William Dalrymple, Yann Martel, Jeanette Winterson and Ben Okri, say that the Nelly Sachs prize has chosen to “punish an author for her human rights advocacy”. Michael Ondaatje, a former winner of the award, is one of the signatories to the letter.

    The judges had initially chosen Shamsie for writing that “builds bridges between societies”, but changed their minds on learning she backed the BDS movement, saying that her political positioning to actively participate in the cultural boycott … contrasts with the claim of the Nelly Sachs prize to proclaim and exemplify reconciliation among peoples and cultures.

    Shamsie’s supporters ask: “What is the meaning of a literary award that undermines the right to advocate for human rights, the principles of freedom of conscience and expression and the freedom to criticise? … Without these, art and culture become meaningless luxuries.”

    The letter had more than 100 signatories a day after it began to be circulated by the writers Ahdaf Soueif and Omar Robert Hamilton, co-founders of the Palestine festival of literature.

    […]

    The writers highlight the statement last year from more than 40 progressive Jewish organisations arguing that conflating anti-Jewish racism with opposition to Israel’s policies and system of occupation and apartheid “undermines both the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality and the global struggle against antisemitism”.

    The letter also criticises the German city of Dortmund, which runs the award, for refusing to make public Shamsie’s written response to the decision.

    Shamsie, winner of the UK’s Women’s prize for fiction, had called it a “matter of outrage that the BDS movement (modelled on the South African boycott) that campaigns against the government of Israel for its acts of discrimination and brutality against Palestinians should be held up as something shameful and unjust”.

    […]

  173. says

    Trump and his cronies are now talking about how he might release some portion of the transcript of one phone call with the Ukrainian president. The appropriate Democratic response is “Go fuck yourselves. We’ll hear from the whistleblower, get the full complaint, and receive all of the documents and testimony required by our impeachment inquiry.”

  174. says

    From former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe:

    This is not something I have ever seen before. In fact, it’s remarkable to have an American political figure, much less the President of the United States, pushing a foreign government, especially one that we have concerns about corruption issues within their own criminal justice establishment, pushing that foreign government to begin an investigation of a U.S. citizen.

    It’s really incredibly dangerous and a questionable practice […]

    Quite frankly, I cannot agree with the Justice Department’s interpretation of the law in question.

    Nowhere in the statute does it explicitly give the DNI the authority to review or rescind the IG’s determination of urgency and credibility. So it’s an odd theory that I think DOJ is pointing to here.

    The Justice Department, (specifically William Barr, many reports assume), and acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire refused to allow Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson to hand over the complaint, telling Atkinson he was not “authorized” to do so and that the complaint was not a matter of “urgent concern.”

  175. says

    ACLU returns to court to ask federal judge to block ongoing family separation at border

    The American Civil Liberties Union was back in court on Friday to again call on a federal judge to block the Trump administration from forcibly separating migrant families at the southern border. ACLU attorneys said that more than 1,000 families have been ripped apart since Judge Dana Sabraw’s June 2018 court order, “for the most minor crimes” and for reasons as petty as a dirty diaper.

    Sabraw’s 2018 order allowed a child to be removed from the parent if the parent posed a danger, but “imposed no standards or oversight over those decisions,” […]

    “We’ve had instances of fathers separated from their children because the last time the father was in the U.S. years ago, he got a ticket for driving with an expired license,” said Texas Civil Rights Project attorney Efrén Olivares. “He was arrested, and therefore now has a criminal conviction on his record, and that is the justification for the separation.” Officials have also separated families based on outright lies. In June, asylum-seeker Adolfo was reunited with his two kids after 184 days of separation, torn apart based solely on a lie that he was in a gang. […]

    “We’re talking about permanent trauma to these children for no real reason,” ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said. Reported Law 360, “Every child expert and doctor with whom Gelernt has spoken agrees that separation is ‘basically child abuse, you’re terrorizing these little children,’ he said.” During a House hearing last week, a career official with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services testified that family separation inflicted “extraordinarily severe” trauma on kids, and this trauma is ongoing.

    So are the separations. “The judge took the entire matter under submission and will issue a ruling later,” The San Diego Union-Tribune wrote. But with separation and trauma at the hands of reckless border officials ongoing, a decision that favors children and their families can’t come soon enough. “What we have are parents losing children when they are perfectly capable and not a danger,” Gelernt said.

  176. says

    I feel like the only one who thinks much of what people regard as damaging as…good. I’m following the debate in the Labour Conference (link @ #315 above – they’re voting now), and seeing it as democracy in action. People are making decisions about momentous questions concerning their country’s future, through reasoned discussion and disagreement, and reading all this commentary about what a disaster it supposedly is. I have the same feeling when I read about how thrilled Putin is with the Democratic primary debates. Well, of course – he’s a dictator with a fragile hold on power who sees democracy through that lens. Doesn’t mean he’s right that all interparty arguments signal weakness and disarray.

  177. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 346

    I’m a realist, so I’m going to have to take the former. Tyranny is in ascendency, democracy has failed.

  178. says

    Michael McFaul: “Members of U.S. Congress, please focus on obtaining the whistleblower’s complaint instead of the Trump-Zekensky phone call transcript, first because its release is the law (release of transcript is not) & second because the transcript might not reveal everything involved here.”

    Third because it’s obvious from Trump’s sycophants that the focus on some single transcript is part of their bullshit propaganda strategy.

  179. blf says

    I would suggest the attitude “democracy has failed” is one of the assists to the attitude “tyranny has control”. Related — that is, another (different) assist — a recent opinion piece, No We Can’t? How liberal pessimism could return Trump to the White House tries to argue “[I]t seems fair to assume that the grain of truth out of which critiques of Trump’s opponents grow can, with enough anxious attention, shoot up into a fully blown narrative able to strangle a campaign from within, leaving Republicans to hold their noses and vote in Trump for a second term.”

  180. says

    Randi Weingarten in Politico – “The false choice over ‘Medicare for All'”:

    Ask any voter in the country today and they’ll tell you that health care is top of mind. In other developed countries, health care is a basic human right, but in the United States, it’s a commodity—a highly profitable one for the health insurance industry. In the second quarter of last year alone, the top 85 publicly traded health insurance companies raked in a record $47 billion in profits. At the same time, the number of Americans covered by insurance is actually falling.

    It shouldn’t be this way. A majority of Americans believe in guaranteed access to affordable, high-quality health insurance for everyone and want it to be a part of the basic social contract like Social Security. It’s likely that only the government can provide something on that scale; that’s the genesis for many of the 2020 Democratic candidates’ “Medicare for All” types of plans, which aim to phase out private health insurance in favor of a government-run plan that offers care to everyone. Some of the candidates argue for different versions of the plan that preserve a role for commercial insurance—plans people get through their jobs or the individual marketplace—but expand a public option, that is, a government-run plan to cover anyone who needs or wants it.

    Pitting these ideas against each other is a false choice. It’s a fear tactic sowed by defenders of corporate greed meant to divide us and make us think that high-quality universal coverage—be it public, private or some combination thereof—is out of reach, even in the wealthiest nation on the planet.

    Like many other labor leaders, I have sat across a bargaining table and negotiated many benefits packages for educators, nurses and public employees, so I know what is and isn’t true. Some working people have good health care plans through their jobs, many don’t. If we reduce this debate to a zero-sum trade-off between protecting people who like their insurance vs. expanding insurance to those who might want or need a public plan, we have handed a win directly to the corporate insurance giants before we even start.

    The economics are simple: The more people who get covered, the lower the cost of insurance. The goal for all of us must be universal coverage. A broader public plan and employer-sponsored private insurance can coexist while still making universal coverage mandatory if we expand our sense of what’s possible.

    One way to think about it is that Medicare could set the floor, not the ceiling. Employer-based insurance would be allowed to exist to the extent that plans met or exceeded the standards set by the Medicare plan. If not, employers and their employees would either be required to make their plans better, or transition to the expanded Medicare program.

    This would allow people who like their current employer-based plan—which 7 in 10 Americans claim to (although it’s likely they like their doctor, not the plan itself)—to keep it, allow for a gradual transition from one plan to another when necessary, and effectively improve on the model originally created by the Affordable Care Act.

    While many union members have made concessions on wages and other benefits in order to get better health care, the fact remains that no union negotiator in this country wants the continued pitting of health care versus everything else. The shifting of costs to employees must end. Indeed, many employer-based plans continue to fall short of the high-quality and affordable standard, and it’s gotten worse over time….

    But easing the stranglehold private insurance companies have on the market and preserving the option for employers and unions to continue to innovate in health care is critically important, and there is support for public and private options to coexist….

    I’d suggest that no one should give in to the reflexive USian idea that public health care can’t be innovative or is somehow inherently less innovative. There are mechanisms in the ACA already to promote and facilitate innovation. Also, wherever Warren comes down in the end with her plan, one thing she recognizes more than most is the power of the corporate insurance lobby. While this exists, it will fight robust public options. And the Right knows that they’re lying to people – they know that if a good public option is available people will choose it and it will lead to the decline of private health insurance, just on a longer time scale. So Dems might as well go with something like this suggests, but always remaining aware of the political power of corporate health insurance to fuck things up as long it exists.

  181. says

    ABC – “FBI arrests Army soldier who allegedly discussed plans to bomb major American news network”:

    The FBI has arrested a U.S. soldier who allegedly discussed plans to bomb a major American news network, planned to travel to Ukraine to fight with violent far-right group Azov Battalion and allegedly distributed information online on how to build bombs. He also allegedly suggested targeting Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke.

    According to charging documents in the case, Jarrett William Smith, who transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas, in July, joined the U.S. military only after first expressing his desire to fight in Ukraine.

    On Aug. 19, 2019, Smith allegedly spoke with an FBI informant in an online chat group and discussed a plan for an attack inside the U.S., his search for more “radicals” like himself, and the possibility of killing members of the group Antifa [sic].

    In suggesting that the headquarters of the major news network could be a target, Smith allegedly said: “A large vehicle bomb. Fill a vehicle full of [explosives] then fill a ping pong ball with [commonly available chemical] via drilling then injection. Put the ball in the tank of the vehicle and leave. 30 minutes later, BOOM.”

    Then, in a Telegram conversation with an undercover FBI agent on Sept. 20, Smith allegedly had this exchange:

    FBI: You got anyone down in Texas that would be a good fit for fire, destruction and death? SMITH: Outside of Beto? I don’t know enough people that would be relevant enough to cause a change if they died.

    Smith has allegedly been in communication with another American, Craig Lang, who traveled to Ukraine and fought with another far-right group, the Right Sector.

    They were in contact since 2016. On Dec. 8, 2018, Smith allegedly led a group chat on Facebook with Lang that included discussing Smith’s ability to build bombs….

  182. says

    Snap analysis of the Labour vote from the G liveblog:

    At Labour conference last year there were many delegates going around wearing T shirts saying “Love Corbyn, Hate Brexit”. You don’t see those around anymore – in the months when Jeremy Corbyn was dragging his feet about backing a second referendum, the message no longer seemed consistent – but it is worth recalling the slogan because it helps puts today’s vote in perspective. A significant number of Labour members have decided that, when faced with a choice, loving Corbyn comes first.

    I say “significant number” because, without a card vote, we don’t know what the exact voting figures were, and whether Corbyn would have won the votes without the support of the unions. The unions have 50% of the vote at conference and most of them were opposed to the ‘back remain now’ composite 13. It was only going to pass if the vast majority of CLP delegates supported it. Last night that looked like a distinct possibility; of the 90 motions submitted by CLPs on Brexit, 81 of them were calling for Labour to back remain. But the decision by Momentum this morning to advise its supporters to vote against composite 13…seems to have swayed the vote. About 70% of CLP delegates are said to be Momentum supporters. Forced to make a choice, a largish number of them – certainly enough to overturn expectations – lined up behind the leadership.

    Listening to the debate, it was clear that the argument that the party should unite behind Corbyn – and that passing composite 13 would be seen by the media – as a defeat for Corbyn carried weight.

    But there were also legitimate objections to composite 13 on policy grounds. Unite’s Howard Beckett…put this argument as well as anyone, saying it would be a “car crash” if Labour was committed to obtaining a Brexit deal that it was already determined to campaign against.

    The remainers think Labour will haemorrhage votes to the Lib Dems and the Greens at the general election under the Corbyn policy that will now remain unchallenged until the election. The Corbynites think turning Labour into a remain-only party would be even more disastrous. There is no way of knowing which analysis is more correct. And a huge amount will depend on what has happened to Brexit by the time the election actually happens. It is quite possible that both arguments are correct.

    Still, this is a very good night for Jeremy Corbyn, who has won a clear victory over his remain opponents in the party. It is probably a good night for Jo Swinson too, as she and the Greens now have the undiluted remain field (in England, at least) to themselves. What Boris Johnson think is harder to guess, but the Tories have been trying hard to label Labour as an anti-Brexit, remain party (not because they think it will help Labour, presumably), and tonight’s vote undermines that line of attack.

  183. blf says

    Maureen Dowd, of the “shat on carpet” column, in the Irish Times, Is this the Big One for Crooked Donald?:

    […]
    As soon as the news broke Wednesday night in the Washington Post that a whistleblower had accused the president of making some sort of nefarious “promise” during a call to a foreign leader, the hive erupted.

    Democrats haven’t been able to get Trump on paying off a porn star to protect his campaign. They haven’t been able to get him on being a Russian agent. They haven’t been able to get him on obstruction of justice. But maybe this time. Maybe this was the One where all would decide that they wanted impeachment, that the president’s behaviour was so outrageous that they couldn’t imagine this sleazy business guy sitting in the Oval Office playing a tinpot dictator in a tinfoil hat for another second.

    Maybe this was the One that would finally move Republicans to turn on the Grendel who is terrorising the village and gulping down their party. Certainly, Trump himself didn’t think so. As the capital was going into overdrive-freak-out mode Friday night trying to flesh out the whistleblower story, the president was busy tweeting about a children’s book by a Fox News host: Buy this Book — great for the kids!

    If House Democrats can ever get their paws on the whistleblower, maybe they can make up for the judiciary committee’s performance with Corey Lewandowski this past week, which left many wondering if these hearings designed to pry Trump out of office are just making Democrats look foolish.

    […]

    The internecine strains between the impeach-now Nadler crowd and the get-him-out-in-2020 Pelosi crew grew more bitter. Politico reported that in a closed-door meeting, House speaker Nancy Pelosi shocked lawmakers and aides by harshly criticising the House judiciary committee staffers for propelling the impeachment effort far beyond where the Democratic caucus stands. And you can feel free to leak this, Pelosi said acidly.

    […]

    So just consider this: Around the same time that Trump escaped the noose after Robert Mueller’s tepid testimony, sliding away from charges that he colluded with a foreign country to interfere in our election, he began arm-twisting another foreign country to interfere in our election. […]

    […] Trump is literally acting like an international mobster. Roy Cohn would be so proud. So is this the Big One? We don’t know because so much has come before. But if it is? Now that would be big.

  184. says

    You know how I mentioned the Florida Republicans @ #200 above?

    Andrew Gillum, yesterday:

    Today starts National Voter Registration Week.

    So the DeSantis Administration decides it’s time to pull down [RegisterToVoteFlorida dot gov] for “routine maintenance.”

    Only thing routine is the voter suppression part.

    I can’t get to the site today, but it could be because too many people are checking like me.

  185. says

    blf, huh – I still can’t get on.

    Samuel Sinyangwe:

    The state did this last year during the busiest voter registration period, right before the deadline to be able to vote in the election. We recorded it happening here: [link]

    Between taking the site down for “routine maintenance” and outright breaking the site, the state is engaging in a hidden form of voter suppression with huge consequences for the ability of young people and marginalized communities to register & vote.

    Also, Florida’s registration site requires both a Driver’s license and SSN to register online. No Learner’s permit allowed & no access for folks who don’t have license. This blocks young people (including 16/17 year olds who could preregister) from being able to participate.

  186. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Akira MacKenzie,
    Nope. “High crimes and misdemeanors” need not, in fact, even be crimes. It is arguable whether Bill Clinton’s hijinks would have resulted in an indictment by a court, and Andrew Johnson’s almost assuredly would not have. Nixon was involved in clearly illegal activity, but never faced prosecution over it. He would not have even had to resign had he not lost support of Senate Republicans–that is really the bar.

    It is pointless for House Dems to impeach, because unless Darth Cheeto loses Senate Republican support, our only opportunity to get rid of the SOB is November 2020. The average American is not paying as much attention to the ongoing dumpster conflagration as they should. And media will portray any vote to impeach as political. It will cost us in November.

    Impeachment doesn’t happen unless you control >50% of the House and >66% of the Senate. Without at least 50% of the Senate, it won’t even be brought to the floor.

    You want a pat on the back and a hug for winning back the House while the Senate, Presidency and the courts remain in enemy hands? Sorry, that’s not good enough.

  187. blf says

    SC@359, Still no obvious problems. On “Also, Florida’s registration site requires both a Driver’s license and SSN to register online. No Learner’s permit allowed […]”, that does seem to be the case, but I note both the FAQ (PDF) and home page (link @357) say a Florida ID card can be used instead of a Driver’s License; a quick check of the (Spanish) offline form also confirms.

  188. Akira MacKenzie says

    This blocks young people (including 16/17 year olds who could preregister) from being able to participate.

    It would also block a lot of 18-year-olds who’s domineering parents didn’t let them learn to drive until they were out of High School.

  189. blf says

    One GIGANTIC fly in the ointment, so to speak, with impeaching hair furor is Pence. Should hair furor be convicted in the Senate’s trial, then Pence would occupy Wacko House — and he’s at least as bad as hair furor, plus more competent. It’s been argued that during Watergate, one reason there weren’t serious moves towards impeachment of tricky dicky is because, had he been tried and convicted, Agnew would occupy Wacko House. Agnew’s registration removed that block, but of course then eventually tricky dicky resigned…

  190. says

    Bellingcat thread with more re the report @ #352 above.

    “…In sum, today’s arrest of Jarrett Smith is just another data point in the overt and widespread efforts from the Azov movement to recruit American and Western European extremists to Ukraine. Jarrett wasn’t the first, and he won’t be the last.”

  191. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s current live States blog:

    Trump’s dubious claims about Joe Biden trying to profit off his vice presidency are now being supported by the Republican National Committee in an email to supporters.

    Email subject line from the RNC: Quid Pro Joe.

    It says, Joe Biden’s family has capitalized off of sweetheart deals only available because of his political connections.

    […]

    But Trump’s claims are completely baseless, as the Washington Post reports:

    Trump has claimed that Biden in 2016 pressured the Ukrainian government to fire Viktor Shokin, the top Ukrainian prosecutor, because he was investigating a Ukrainian gas producer, Burisma Holdings, that had added Biden’s son Hunter to its board. But it turns out that the investigation had already been shelved when Biden acted and may have even involved a side company, not Burisma. The Ukrainian prosecutor was regarded as a failure, and ‘Joe Biden’s efforts to oust Shokin were universally praised,’ said Anders Aslund, a Swedish economist heavily involved in Eastern European market reforms.

    Moreover, Yuri Lutsenko, a former Ukrainian prosecutor general who succeeded the fired prosecutor, told Bloomberg News that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by Joe or Hunter Biden.

  192. blf says

    More from today’s Grauniad live States blog:

    While speaking to reporters at the UN General Assembly, Trump once again proved that flattery will get you everywhere with the US president [sic].

    American reporters complained on Twitter that Trump stopped taking questions from them during his meeting with Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan, after a Pakistani reporter lavished praise on the president:

    Trump basically stopped even looking at the White House press pool as some of his aides struggled to stifle their laughter

  193. blf says

    Also, on a — inherently dubious — transcript of “the” phone call, (1) The whistleblower’s complaint seemed to involve more than just a(? one?) phone call; and (2) Technically, we still don’t know which phone call(s?) the whistleblower complained about. Yes, competent sources do indicate one of the call(s?) is that particular one, but the only way to be sure is to know the unredacted contents of the whistleblower’s complaint.

  194. Akira MacKenzie says

    The average American is not paying as much attention to the ongoing dumpster conflagration as they should. And media will portray any vote to impeach as political. It will cost us in November.

    The media will also portray any inaction as political, i.e. that the charges against Trump are too flimsy to bring forward or really are just “fake news.” Also, those of us who were hoping that a Democrat-controlled House would actually do something about this tumor before he destroys this country aren’t going to be happy, especially if it means that we have to gamble with another rigged election in 2020 (assuming there IS going to be another election). You don’t think THAT is going to cost you in November?

  195. Akira MacKenzie says

    blf @ 364

    Oh for fuck sake! Stop making Pence out to be this theocratic political mastermind! He’s not. He’s a pushover. He calls his wife “mother” and he rolls over like a whipped dog every time Trump barks. The man is a goddamn WUSS! He wouldn’t get reelected in 2020 and his brief presidency would be an uneventful one if the Dems put even a miniscule amount of pressure against his hypothetical policy initiatives.

    So stop being afraid of him!

  196. says

    SC @360: Here are some excerpts from that NYT article.

    [snipped quotes from statements by Elizabeth Warren]

    […] Pelosi’s calculated timidity on impeachment is emboldening Trump, demoralizing progressives, and failing the country.

    […] right now, Democrats need a brawler willing to use every tool at her disposal to stop America’s descent into autocracy, and Pelosi has so far refused to rise to the occasion. […]

    rationale for not impeaching after the release of the Mueller report was that such a move didn’t have majority support in the country or bipartisan support in Congress. […] were Trump to be impeached in the House but not convicted in the Senate, he could emerge stronger than ever. […]

    These were reasonable concerns, but inaction signaled to Trump that he would face no consequences for obstructing justice or for seeking a foreign power’s help in undermining a political opponent.

    Now Trump has used the power of the presidency to do just that. We don’t yet know all the details in the whistle-blower report filed by a member of the intelligence community, which is now being kept, possibly illegally, from Congress. But there’s little question that the president tried to pressure the government of Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden; both Trump and his ranting disgrace of a lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have admitted as much on television.

    The idea was to try to force Ukraine to provide grist for a thoroughly debunked right-wing conspiracy theory that as vice president, Biden targeted a Ukrainian prosecutor on his son’s behalf. While Trump was strong-arming the reformist Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, his administration had frozen $250 million in security aid that the country desperately needed to defend itself against Russia, which invaded in 2014

    It doesn’t matter if there was an explicit quid pro quo; Zelensky knew what Trump wanted from him. Trump deployed American foreign policy to extort a vulnerable nation to help his re-election campaign.

    Trump’s latest defilement of his oath of office has pushed some previously reluctant Democrats, like the House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff, toward impeachment. Schiff reportedly coordinated his recent pro-impeachment comments with Pelosi, yet she remains resistant to moving in the same direction. One of Pelosi’s advisers told the CNBC reporter John Harwood that her impeachment calculus hasn’t changed, saying, “See any G.O.P. votes for it?” It was almost as if the adviser was trying to troll scared, desperate Democrats, rubbing their faces in the speaker’s baffling determination to give Trump’s party veto power over accountability. […]

  197. says

    Lynna @ #366, not one word of it.

    Lynna @ #341, one thing Trump understands is a fait accompli. He says it and he does it. He’s gone his whole life acting on the belief that even if he’s caught at something the consequences are likely to be outweighed by the fact that he’s already done the thing he wanted to do. He’s explicitly told people that’s his philosophy. He does it in violation of the law.

    The Democrats, in contrast, avoid the fait accompli even when it’s within and in furtherance of the law. It can only be explained by a habitual timidity that goes well beyond simply following the rules. The one time I got emotional during the Lewandowski hearing was when Nadler, finally, at long last, just shut the Republicans down and said “We’re in charge, we voted on this, and Barry Berke will go ahead with the questioning.” And the Republicans whined and protested and talked about writing angry letters, but he questioned Lewandowski and it was done. They need to have the willingness to do that all the time in this fight for the country, to be constantly asking themselves how they can use their power to fight fascism, and to go ahead and do it.

    In this case, Maguire was moving against the statute when he didn’t transmit the complaint to the committees, when he informed the people who were the subjects of the complaint, and when he brought the DoJ and OLC into it. They don’t have the law on their side. Schiff should arrange with Atkinson and Nunes to meet with the whistleblower in a secure room to receive the information immediately. Just do it. It’s not breaking any laws. He said on Maddow that if the whistleblower was watching he wanted them to know that the Dems would do everything to protect them. Getting the information would help them to do that. And they’d have the goddamn information. Fait accompli.

  198. blf says

    Think America’s fate hinges on the 2020 presidential race? You’re forgetting something:

    […]
    Every day brings more headlines about the game-show-like spectacle of the presidential race. Of course, the 2020 presidential election commands attention because the stakes are so high. The presidential race, however, isn’t the only election that will have major ramifications for both the immediate and long-term direction of the nation.

    This November, 538 state legislative seats in four states are up for election. Another 4,798 state legislative seats in 44 states will be decided in November 2020. And 14 governors will be elected in the next two years. There is no way for Democrats to execute a long-term pro-active political project without winning in the states immediately.

    Winning state and local races is more crucial now than ever. The Trump administration has appointed an unprecedented number of conservative judges who will evaluate state laws. If Republicans continue to wield outsized power in state legislatures, states are all but guaranteed to pass envelope-pushing laws that will climb the courts, opening the possibility that major national legal precedents will change. The abortion bans that seized national attention this past spring are just the tip of the iceberg.

    Another huge reason: 2021 is a redistricting year. If Republicans maintain control of state legislatures around the country, they will be able to once again gerrymander districts in their favor – for a decade. If Democrats and progressives neglect to focus on state races they will damn themselves to the same long-term power imbalances that led to electoral rock bottom in November 2016.

    […]

    As Stacey Abrams told New York magazine: “Most of the seismic shifts in social policy occur on the state level. The erosion of the social safety net started with Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin; he was the architect of welfare reform. Mass incarceration started with Ronald Reagan in California. Stand your ground started with Jeb Bush in Florida. Jim Crow never had a single federal law. It was all state law.” State officials establish everything from who gets to vote to how much utility companies are allowed to pollute.

    Change on the state level often happens in obscurity — by design. Libertarian and conservative interest groups, like the National Rifle Association and National Right to Life, have long pushed their agenda through state governments because they know almost no one is paying attention. The Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, as just one example, has set up offices in at least 35 states. It claims over three million members, and explicitly focuses on state and local lobbying and organizing.

    Over the last several decades, Republican operatives and lawmakers found multiple ways to build self-perpetuating political power via state politics. […]

    Conservative state lawmakers have undermined the will of progressive city residents in another crucial way that has gotten less attention than gerrymandering: by instating “preemption laws,” which restrict towns and cities from passing laws different from those approved by state lawmakers.

    […]

    In Colorado, for example, Democrats now have a trifecta — governor, House, and Senate. Because they steered the agenda, Democratic lawmakers were able to enact a slate of reforms, including new emissions goals, automatic voter registration, bans on cash bail and “gay conversion therapy,” and a crackdown on predatory student loan providers.

    This November, the most anticipated state elections are being held in Virginia. Democrats have a shot of winning the state senate, which would give them a trifecta and poise them to pass a progressive platform. Paying attention to those races provides us more opportunity than obsessing over the latest gaffe or dispute coming from the presidential race.

    […]

    There’s another benefit: By talking to neighbors about the issues that matter in their own neighborhoods, volunteers for progressive state campaigns will inevitably turn out more voters, many of whom might otherwise be disaffected. That will, ultimately, only help defeat Donald Trump in 2020.

  199. says

    JFC, Claire McCaskill is talking about how the courts now have to get involved. No fucking way. Schiff can go ahead and let the courts address that. Let Barr go to the fucking courts.

  200. says

    Update to #323 – Well done, Judd Legum:

    UPDATE: 8 hours after [Popular Information’s] report, Facebook has taken down the Ukrainian “I Love America” page & every other page identified in the piece

    This was a huge network pushing pro-Trump propaganda with greater reach than the NYT & WashPost

    Facebook is a $500 billion company. But they are not holding themselves accountable.

    But there is too much at stake. That’s why I’m dedicating myself to accountability journalism.

    You can support this work by subscribing to my newsletter.

    Just heard back from Facebook: “We are removing these Pages for violating our policies against spam and fake accounts, and are continuing to investigate for any further violations.”

    Last night, Facebook told me the pages did not violate its policy on on coordinated inauthentic behavior and there was no policy against posting memes.

    But there was a huge reaction to this piece today. My original thread has 13K retweets and it was #2 on Reddit’s front page

    The scale of these companies is extraordinary and their impact on politics is frightening.

    But FACTS and an INFORMED PUBLIC can still make a difference.

    Join this effort:…

  201. says

    NEW: DOJ shows its cards ahead of the 11/5 Roger Stone trial. Here’s their 8-page list of exhibits just filed in federal court in DC, including 100+ letters, texts and emails from Stone and video of him boasting of Hillary Clinton hack during ’16 campaign.”

    List at the link.

  202. says

    Josh Marshall – “The President Needs To Be Impeached”:

    …President Trump came to power through corrupt means. He has systematically violated his oath of office since becoming President. He is now actively plotting to subvert the 2020 election using his powers as commander-in-chief of the armed forces and head of state to coerce a desperate ally to intervene in the 2020 election on his behalf. Such an abuse of power is so total and so grave that any equivocation in branding it criminal and unacceptable in the American system simply cannot be justified. It is all the more so since it is not retrospective. Nor does it turn on mere pecuniary corruption. It is a conspiracy to subvert the American people’s one chance to end his tenure in office. In other words, it is an attack on the one failsafe in the constitutional system: facing voters in a free and fair election.

    Critics of the House Democratic leadership have greatly underestimated the limitations on congressional power with an executive who simply rejects the entire concept of legitimate congressional oversight. Congress has no army or police. It relies largely on the constitution and the courts to compel some degree of good faith engagement and respect for the constitution. A flat no to any and all oversight simply means years of process in the courts and thus presidential impunity. We still don’t know the totality of what happened. Based on what we know the only proper response is to demand the President’s immediate resignation. Since he certainly won’t agree, an immediate investigation framed around the question of impeachment must be undertaken and if the facts are what they appear the President must be impeached.

    Will he be removed from office in the Senate? Almost certainly not. It’s not at all clear to me that the Senate will even allow a trial. Perhaps that is a feature of this historical moment rather than a bug since President Trump should also be driven from office by the American voter. But this kind of brazen abuse of power merits the gravest form of constitutional sanction. And that is impeachment.

  203. says

    (OT: Sean Carroll’s new book Something Deeply Hidden has a chapter called “Does This Ontological Commitment Make Me Look Fat?” and I might have to get it for that alone.)

  204. says

    More re #352: “CNN: The Army soldier charged today with distributing bombmaking instructions, discussed targeting CNN with a vehicle bomb, according to two sources familiar with the matter.”

    I can’t imagine anyone thinking it was any other news network, but I appreciate their restraint in not publicly speculating.

  205. says

    Get on with it.

    NEWS – House Democrats are expected to vote on a resolution condemning Trump over Ukraine allegations, per Democratic sources. Pelosi will meet w/cmte chairmen tomorrow to discuss investigations, and full House Democratic Caucus will meet as well [at 4 PM – SC]

    Democrats say privately that if the White House doesn’t turn over Ukraine whistleblower complaint to House Intel Cmte, as well as give Trump-Giuliani info from State Dept. to 3 cmtes, than impeachment becomes a “very real possibility.”

    So they need to do all this further investigation, but they have enough evidence to vote on a resolution of condemnation? Are they trying to make my head explode?

  206. says

    Trump: ‘When you see the call…I hope you see it, frankly’

    Reporter 3 minutes later: ‘You say you want the transcript of the call released…’

    Trump: ‘I didn’t say that at all! I didn’t say that at all!'”

  207. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Akira MacKenzie,
    All I can say is that the polling says you are wrong–the majority, and it’s a big majority don’t want a vote to impeach. They want action on bread and butter issues. Dems should concentrate on trying to make progress on that while investigating the hell out of the administration. It’s not the impeachment. It’s the drip, drip, drip of corruption in the news that will bring the voters on side.

  208. says

    Promising!:

    There have been A LOT of developments in last few hours

    Read full story but main point is leaders from Pelosi on down recognize a seismic shift in the caucus on this and are trying to figure out next steps

    Pelosi spent the weekend and today working the phones to get a feel for where the caucus is — including chatting today with Judiciary Chairman Nadler and others committee leaders investigating Trump

    Now Dems are weighing several options:

    – A resolution condemning Trump’s actions related to Ukraine scandal

    -Pelosi issuing a “forceful” statement embracing impeachment probe like she hasn’t before

    -Both of the above plus more

    Also there’s been four members to come out for impeachment in past few hours

    — Two freshman mods: Phillips and Craig

    — Two Pelosi allies: Larson and DeLauro

    Other members are discussing how and when to jump off the fence (don’t want to be seen as last to support)

    Tomorrow:

    — Pelosi meeting with six committee chairs handling Trump investigations

    — Then there’s a special members-only caucus meeting at 4 p.m.

    — Possible op-ed by national security freshman members backing impeachment

    Finally, I can’t overstate what a shift there’s been

    Some members have been wanting to back impeachment for a while and wanted cover. For others, this really was the last straw.

    The most important thing is that leadership recognizes this and is shifting strategies as a result

  209. says

    The oped is here already: “NEW. A significant development — Seven freshman Democrats, all of whom have national security experience, write in an op-ed for the @washingtonpost: These allegations are a threat to all we have sworn to protect.”

  210. says

    BREAKING-SEVEN freshman House Ds w/military backgrounds from SERIOUSLY competitive districts back possible impeachment

    ‘If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense. We do not arrive at this conclusion lightly’.”

  211. Akira MacKenzie says

    Ray @ 38

    I don’t give two-shits what the majority of American dullards want. Trump needs to removed NOW, not tomorrow, not next week, not January of 2021 (or never, if he has his way) before he destroys civilization. NOW! The average American is too stupid to whip their own asses, much less how to govern their own best interests, so fuck what they want..

    Indeed, it’s time we started doing what science, history, economics, and political science says we ought to govern society rather than the majority of common morons want. To hell with democracy! The vote of a thousand morons should idiots shouldn’t have more weight than that of one genius. Screw Marx’s “Dictatorship or the Proletariat!” We now know the uneducated proles can’t be trusted run thing in the interests off our species anymore than the upper class shits who currently rule us. What we need is a “Dictatorship of the Intelligentsia.”

  212. says

    SC @378, that is such good news!

    UPDATE: 8 hours after [Popular Information’s] report, Facebook has taken down the Ukrainian “I Love America” page & every other page identified in the piece.

    This was a huge network pushing pro-Trump propaganda with greater reach than the NYT & WashPost

    You wouldn’t think it would take that much pressure to get Facebook to act, but apparently it does. Unfortunately, I expect “I Love America” to emerge under a different name, but with the same propensity to spread lies and pro-Trump propaganda. Based in Ukraine?

  213. F.O. says

    Why does the page need to be based in Ukraine?
    Wouldn’t a group of US people be able to run it from within the US, with the same content?
    Why is Ukraine necessary at all?

  214. blf says

    FO@394, Cheap, recycles Russian internet troll factory gibberish, possibly weak investigative media, and unlikely to be shutdown by their service providers? (For a start.)

    There is a village somewhere in the Balkans (sorry, I cannot recall just where, and my Generalissimo Google™-fu isn’t fu-ing at the moment) which, some years ago, was (and possibly still is?) doing largely the same thing for similar reasons. Several of the people involved became, as I now recall, millionaires.

  215. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Akira: “What we need is a “Dictatorship of the Intelligentsia.”

    Because that worked out so well when tried by Lenin or during the French Revolution…

    Who, precisely, are the Intelligentsia?

  216. KG says

    The judgement was unanimous by the 11 judges, and the speaker says Parliament must reconvene urgently.

  217. says

    blf and KG, that is such great news!

    From the G liveblog, Bercow’s full statement:

    I welcome the supreme court’s judgement that the prorogation of parliament was unlawful. The judges have rejected the government’s claim that closing down parliament for five weeks was merely standard practice to allow for a new Queen’s speech. In reaching their conclusion, they have vindicated the right and duty of parliament to meet at this crucial time to scrutinise the executive and hold ministers to account. As the embodiment of our parliamentary democracy, the House of Commons must convene without delay. To this end, I will now consult the party leaders as a matter of urgency.

    Looking like today is the Day of the Legislature.

    It’s great that this is happening during the UNGA. Johnson is waking up to the news here, and is scheduled to speak this afternoon.

  218. says

    WaPo reported last night (I don’t have access but of course MSNBC was covering it) that Trump ordered the aid to Ukraine to be held up before he talked to Zelenskyy, and instructed WH officials to tell members of congress that the delay was due to an “interagency process” (though no agencies appear to have been involved) and not provide any more information.

  219. says

    HANNITY: Did our State Dept ask you to go on a mission for them?

    GIULIANI: They did.

    HANNITY: And you were a good citizen and you went.

    GIULIANI: The State Dept called me and said, ‘Would I take a call from [Ukrainian president aide Andriy Yermak]?’”

    Video clip at the link. The subtext of every mendacious interview Giuliani does is “I am so busted.”

  220. says

    Laura Ingraham is trending on Twitter because she compared Greta Thunberg and other young climate activists to Stephen King’s Children of the Corn. Her brother tweeted:

    “Clearly my sister’s paycheck is more important than the world her three adopted kids will inherit. I can no longer apologize for a sibling who I no longer recognize. I can and will continue to call out the monstrous behavior and the bully commentary born out of anger.”

  221. says

    Came to power, lost his majority live on TV, fired his hero’s grandson, set the record of losing his first five votes in Parliament (breaking the previous record of four set by Boris Johnson earlier that same evening), lied to the Queen, broke the law. We’re in month two.”

  222. johnson catman says

    re SC @411: You would think there is a competition between the Orange Toddler-Tyrant and The Incredible Sulk to see which one can be the worst leader of their country and destroy everything in the process.

  223. says

    The Intercept (part 1 of a 2-part report) – “GOP Racial Gerrymandering Mastermind Participated in Redistricting in More States Than Previously Known, Files Reveal”:

    The reach of late Republican gerrymandering mastermind Thomas Hofeller may be longer than previously known, according to a review of thousands of documents and emails culled from his hard drives, obtained by The Intercept. While Hofeller was known for drawing maps to give Republicans an advantage and to limit the impact of voters of color in North Carolina, Texas, Missouri, and Virginia, the new documents reveal he also participated in the 2010 redistricting cycle in Alabama, Florida, and West Virginia.

    And, in those three states, it appears Hofeller and other Republican mapmakers experimented with using race as the primary factor in drawing districts in these states — a tactic ruled unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, which requires that people in similar circumstances be treated the same under the law. Among the trove of over 70,000 documents are draft maps with voter data broken down by race, spreadsheets that include the home addresses of members of Congress, travel plans, and legislation marked up by Hofeller himself.

    These new documents shed additional light on the coordinated national strategy behind maps that locked in a GOP advantage in Congress and in state legislatures nationwide. They reveal the sophisticated racial data that drove GOP mapmaking in several states, potentially opening new avenues for litigation challenging these plans as unconstitutional racial gerrymanders — including one Alabama case that will be heard in a U.S. district court in seven weeks — or as violations of state constitutional protections of free and fair elections. And they show that Hofeller intentionally failed to disclose his involvement in Florida redistricting in an affidavit filed with a court.

    Taken together, these revelations provide a powerful wake-up call ahead of the next round of redistricting, which will begin in 2021, about how determined and effective strategists, armed with voluminous voter data, can tilt the political playing field for a decade….

    More at the link. Interesting: “Additional emails referencing these guidelines copied Hofeller’s partner, Dale Oldham, and another copied then-RNC general counsel and national committee member John Ryder.”

  224. says

    Johnson is flying back from NY tonight, ahead of schedule. Bercow said the plan is for the Commons to sit at 11:30 tomorrow morning.

    Johnson has made his first public remarks on the ruling.

    …He refused to accept that the Benn Act made a no-deal Brexit on 31 October impossible. When it was put to him that the law would not allow a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, he replied:

    As the law stands, we leave on October 31. And I’m very hopeful that we will get a deal. I think what the people of the county want is to see parliamentarians coming together in the national interest to get this thing done.

    WTF?

  225. says

    Johnson: ‘As the law stands we will leave on October 31 with or without a deal’

    Reporter: ‘No, as the law stands we cannot leave on October 31 unless parliament approves a deal’

    Johnson: ‘We will leave on October 31’”

    Again, WTF?

  226. says

    Russian embassy in the US, Sunday: “#OTD in 1944, 75 years ago, the #RedArmy liberated the Estonian capital Tallinn from Nazi occupation

    Moscow is celebrating with a firework display at Poklonnaya Gora on Sunday”

    Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “We reject historically inaccurate claims by @mfa_russia that #Estonia was ‘liberated’ by Soviet troops. The Republic of Estonia didn’t take part in #WWII and was occupied by both Nazi Germany & Soviet Russia. The so-called ‘liberation’ was occupation that lasted nearly 50 years.”

  227. blf says

    Poopyhead might appreciate this, Say it with a brooch: what message was Lady Hale’s spider sending?:

    […]
    Lady Hale’s image was beamed across the world with all the signifiers of the supreme court — papers, judge’s bench, austere clothing. It was the court’s stunning verdict that would dominate the headlines, of course, but the judge’s spider brooch — pinned to her black dress — had the optics that made it a story of its own.

    Wearing a spider to deliver news that trapped the prime minister felt pointed — a message backed on a safety pin. Twitter certainly read it that way. “What could Brenda Hale be telling us with her AMAZING giant spider brooch?” wrote @Anna_Girling. By Tuesday afternoon, there was a call for the brooch to have its own Twitter account:

    ‘Weaving spiders come not here’, ‘Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive’, etc…. What could Brenda Hale be telling us with her AMAZING giant spider brooch…?

    The brooch soon made its way, via social media attention, on to a T-shirt sold by Balcony Shirts. Based, ironically, in Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge constituency, the company has donated 30% of proceeds to the charity for the homeless Shelter. It claims to have raised more than £4,000 in the couple of hours after Hale delivered the court’s verdict.

    […]

  228. blf says

    The mildly deranged penguin is keeping a beady eyeball, faint herring smell, and carefully tuned nose on the important news (none of this silly political stuff)… French chef sues Michelin guide, accusing them of cheese mix-up:

    […]
    The celebrity French chef Marc Veyrat is suing the Michelin Guide after inspectors stripped his restaurant of its coveted third star, claiming they had botched their evaluation, in particular over a cheese souffle.

    […]

    He claims the downgrade came after a Michelin inspector mistakenly thought he had adulterated a cheese souffle with English cheddar, instead of using France’s reblochon, beaufort and tomme varieties.

    “I put saffron in it, and the gentleman who came thought it was cheddar because it was yellow. That’s what you call knowledge of a place? It’s just crazy,” Veyrat told France Inter.

    […]

    The mildly deranged penguin points out that if he did indeed use british industrial cheddar, he should be demoted to minus infinity stars, shot, guillotined, thrown the the lions, and stuffed down an anthill. And then, she says, warming up to the abomination, [redacted…] and fined.

  229. blf says

    ‘One big relief’: EU figures celebrate UK supreme court ruling:

    Senior politicians welcome supreme court decision as reassurance of rule of law in UK

    As Lady Hale, the president of the UK’s highest court, read out its unanimous judgment, politicians, officials and diplomats involved in the Brexit talks spoke of their reassurance about the state of the rule of law in the UK.

    The decision to prorogue parliament for five weeks in order to avoid parliamentary scrutiny had already provoked criticism by senior politicians in the European parliament, and the court’s confirmation on Tuesday that Johnson’s move was unlawful was welcomed.

    Guy Verhofstadt, the EU parliament’s Brexit coordinator, tweeted: “At least one big relief in the Brexit saga: the rule of law in the UK is alive & kicking.

    “Parliaments should never be silenced in a real democracy. I never want to hear Boris Johnson or any other Brexiteer say again that the European Union is undemocratic.”

    […]

    Sources said the impact on the talks in Brussels was not clear, although there was a consensus that it made it less likely Johnson would be able to force through a no-deal Brexit on 31 October now that parliament had further opportunities to act.

    The prime minister is seemingly constrained by the Benn Act, which would instruct him to seek an extension if a deal is not agreed with the EU and backed by the Commons, but Johnson had suggested he would find a way around the law.

    […]

    Fabian Zuleeg, the chief executive of the European Policy Centre thinktank, tweeted: “Conclusions? 31 October no deal unlikely unless Boris Johnson is willing to break law and won’t be stopped.

    “So Boris Johnson only has two real options: resign and fight election on clear no-deal stance or make deal, capitulating in negotiations. Former looks more likely but unlikely to bring resolution.”

    […]

    Mr Zuleeg seems to be overlooking that teh incredible sulk has not ruled out proroguing parliament again — an option that, despite being warned about, the supine kangaroo ducked, Boris Johnson indicates he may renew attempt to suspend parliament:

    […]
    Boris Johnson has indicated he could suspend parliament again as he said he “strongly” disagreed with a landmark ruling by Britain’s highest court that his suspension of parliament was unlawful.

    […]

    He added: It is perfectly usual to have a Queen’s speech. That is what we want to do, but more importantly let’s be in no doubt there are a lot of people who want to frustrate Brexit. There are a lot of people who want to stop this country coming out of the EU.

    A Downing Street source said Johnson had no intention of resigning in the wake of the judgment. However, he will fly home from the UN general assembly early after a conference call with cabinet ministers […]

    It remains unclear how Johnson and his team plan to respect the ruling while also allowing for an imminent Queen’s speech, and it seems likely Downing Street is still deciding how to respond in the coming days.

    Speaking to reporters before the speech, Johnson disagreed with the notion that the supreme court judgment found the prorogation to be unlawful and democratic. I’m not certain that the justices did say that. I think that they certainly thought that the prorogation we chose was not something they could approve of.

    […]

  230. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 425 & 426

    Meanwhile, Pelosi is hiding under her desk, rocking back and forth, repeatedly mumbling, “We have to be careful…We have to be careful… We have to be careful… We have to be careful…”

  231. blf says

    Alls the bestest peoplesracists, Robert O’Brien attended ‘routinely racist’ university in apartheid South Africa (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    Donald Trump’s new national security adviser studied at the segregated University of the Orange Free State

    Donald Trump’s new national security adviser attended a segregated university in South Africa, described by one of its former vice-chancellors as “routinely racist”.

    Robert O’Brien, a relatively junior official appointed to the top White House post on Wednesday, went to the University of the Orange Free State under the South African apartheid system. O’Brien’s LinkedIn page says he was there in 1987, while still an undergraduate. He received a scholarship from Rotary International and according to its records he was there from 1986. The first black undergraduate was admitted in 1988.

    South Africa at the time was considered a pariah state and faced wide-ranging academic, sporting and cultural boycotts, backed by the UN. The US imposed sanctions in 1986, after Congress pushed through the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, overriding a veto by Ronald Reagan. The law restricted trade and investment but did not curtail academic contacts.

    Prof Jonathan Jansen, who was vice-chancellor of the university — now called the University of the Free State — between 2009 and 2017, said that at the time O’Brien was a student, the institution was “in short … a white, Afrikaans university for people then called Afrikaners — very conservative and routinely racist not only in their policies but in their practices”.

    Yes, Prof Jansen’s summary matches my own recollections — from just before O’Brien attended — when I had a class on foreign policies at University. Teh University of the Orange Free State (and indeed, the Orange Free State in general), were one of the nastiest bogeymonsters of apartheid. (Sadly, I no longer have any(?) of my reference works on the subject…)

    Jansen said in an email to the Guardian that there were “no black students or staff except those cleaning the place and working the gardens etc”.

    […]

    Staff members who were at the university during the late 1980s describe it as one of the cultural institutions that underpinned the racist and repressive apartheid system, describing “a bastion of the culture that sustained apartheid”.

    “Being critical of apartheid was not well-received, to be critical of the {apartheid} establishment was not well seen. Those who asked critical questions were ostracised,” said one UFS staffer, who asked not to be named.

    […]

    It has also emerged that O’Brien has had contact with AfriForum, a controversial NGO in South Africa which campaigns to protect the culture and interests of the country’s Afrikaans-speaking minority, and defends the apartheid legacy. […]

    Last year the AfriForum CEO, Kallie Kriel, caused outrage when he said that although apartheid was “wrong”, not enough people had been killed during the apartheid era to justify it being called a crime against humanity.

    O’Brien was quoted in a 2017 interview with AfriForum as saying: “In my opinion, South Africans are the most hospitable people in the world and I have especially experienced this at {UFS}.”

    O’Brien makes no mention of apartheid or his time in South Africa in his book While America Slept.

    […]

  232. Akira MacKenzie says

    SC @ 430

    Yeah, but I’m worried that the only thing that going to come out of this is a strongly worded post-it note.

  233. KG says

    “So Boris Johnson only has two real options: resign and fight election on clear no-deal stance or make deal, capitulating in negotiations.” – blf quoting Fabian Zuleeg

    Johnson resigning would not in itself bring about an election. According to the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011, an election out of the normal 5-year cycle happens only if there’s a vote of no confidence in the government, followed by 14 days in which no prospective government wins a vote of confidence; or if 2/3 of MPs vote for one. Currently, the opposition parties don’t want an election – they want Parliament to be sitting through the end of October, to force Johnson to ask for an extension (and just possibly, if he wriggles out of the legal requirement to do so, or it’s refused, to revoke Article 50 to avoid the impending no-deal crash-out). If Johnson resigns, I think the Tories would get to propose a name to the Queen to try and form a new government. But I’m not sure – the implications of the FTP Act have not been tested. Johnson could try various tricks, such as resigning and advising the Queen to send for Corbyn to form a new government, then calling a VONC as leader of the opposition (only the leader of the opposition has the power to call a VONC that must be debated). But I think Corbyn could just decline the invitation. Truly, looking-glass politics.

  234. says

    From Corbyn’s speech at the Labour Conference:

    The Prime Minister acted illegally when he tried to shut down opposition to his reckless and disastrous plan to crash out of the European Union without a deal. But he has failed. He will never shut down our democracy or silence the voices of the people.

    The democracy that Boris Johnson describes as a “rigmarole” will not be stifled and the people will have their say.

    Tomorrow parliament will return. The government will be held to account for what it has done. Boris Johnson has been found to have misled the country. This unelected Prime minister should now resign.

    [Resigning] would make him the shortest serving British prime minister in history and rightly so. His is a born-to-rule government of the entitled who believe that the rules they set for everyone else don’t apply to them.

    That’s what today’s supreme court judgement spells out with brutal clarity. There was no reason – “let alone a good reason”, the judges concluded, for the prime minister to have shut down parliament. conference, he thought he could do whatever he liked just as he always does. He thinks he’s above us all. He is part of an elite that disdains democracy. He is not fit to be prime minister. Let me quote the supreme court’s conclusion: “Unlawful, null and of no effect and should be quashed” – they’ve got the prime minister down to a tee.

    This crisis can only be settled with a general election. That election needs to take place as soon as this government’s threat of a disastrous no deal is taken off the table. That condition is what MPs passed into law before Boris Johnson illegally closed down parliament.

    The prime minister has no mandate for a No Deal crash-out which is opposed by a majority of the public. It would force up food prices cause shortages of medicines and threaten peace in Northern Ireland thus destroying the work of the Good Friday agreement.

    The battle over no deal isn’t a struggle between those who want to leave the EU and those who want to remain. It’s about a small rightwing group who are trying to hijack the referendum result to rip up our rights and protections to shift even more power and wealth to those at the top.

    Under the cover of no deal they want to sell off what’s left of our public services strip away the regulations that keep us safe while slashing corporate taxes even further. That would mean a race to the bottom in standards and workers’ rights to create an offshore tax haven for the super-rich. And they want all of this locked in with a one-sided free trade deal that would put our country at the mercy of Donald Trump.

    That’s why a no-deal Brexit is really a Trump deal Brexit. That would be the opposite of taking back control. It would be handing our country’s future to the US president and his America first policy. Of course Trump is delighted to have a compliant British prime minister in his back pocket. A Trump deal Brexit would mean US corporations getting the green light for a comprehensive takeover of our public services

    I am not prepared to stand by while our NHS is sacrificed on the altar of US big business or any other country’s big business.

    Labour will end the Brexit crisis by taking the decision back to the people with the choice of a credible leave deal alongside remain. That’s not complicated. Labour is a democratic party that trusts the people. After three and a half years of Tory Brexit failure and division, the only way we can settle this issue and bring people back together is by taking the decision out of the hands of politicians and letting the people decide.

    So within three months of coming to power a Labour government will secure a sensible deal based on the terms we have long advocated and discussed with the EU trade unions and businesses: a new customs union a close single market relationship and guarantees of rights and protections. And within six months of being elected we will put that deal to a public vote alongside remain. And as a Labour prime minister I pledge to carry out whatever the people decide.

    The coming election will be a once-in-a-generation chance for real change. A chance to kick out Boris Johnson’s government of the privileged few and put wealth and power in the hands of the many.

    A chance to give our NHS, schools and police the money they need by asking those at the top to pay their fair share. A chance to take urgent action on the environment before it’s too late for our children.

    In a shameless bid to turn reality on its head Boris Johnson’s born-to-rule Tories are now claiming to be the voice of the people. A political party that exists to protect the establishment is pretending to be anti-establishment. Johnson and his wealthy friends are not only on the side of the establishment; they are the establishment. They will never be on the side of the people when supporting the people might hit them and their super-rich sponsors where it hurts – in their wallets and offshore bank accounts.

    Let me send this message to Boris Johnson: If you still lead your party into an election we know your campaign will be swimming in cash. But we’ve got something you haven’t. People in their hundreds of thousands rooted in all communities and all age groups across Britain and we’ll meet you head on with the biggest people-powered campaign this country has ever seen – and if we win, it will be the people who win….

  235. blf says

    Follow-up to @204 & @230, Thousands protest against new criminal code across Indonesia:

    […]

    Thousands of students have taken to the streets in Indonesia to protest against a “disastrous” draft criminal code that would include outlawing extramarital sex and a controversial new law that could weaken the nation’s anti-corruption body.

    On Tuesday, the second consecutive day of protests, thousands of students gathered outside the parliament building in Jakarta, calling for the government to suspend its plans to ratify the draft code. Police fired teargas and water cannon to disperse the demonstrators.

    […]

    Similar protests unfolded in various cities across Java and the islands of Sumatra and Sulawesi, where police also used teargas to disperse the crowd. At least 40 protesters have been hospitalised with injuries in South Sulawesi, and 28 in Palembang, South Sumatra.

    […]

    Human Rights Watch has described the draft code as “disastrous not only for women and religious and gender minorities, but for all Indonesians”.

    […]

  236. says

    More Corbyn:

    We live in a country where top chief executives now pocket in just two-and-a-half days what the average worker earns in a whole year. Where Thomas Cook bosses were able to fill their pockets with unearned bonuses, while their workers face redundancy and 150,000 holidaymakers are stranded because of their failure.

    We’ve had the greatest slump in wages since the first steam trains were built. To share wealth, we need to share power. And that’s what we’ll do in government with bold, radical measures such as giving the workforce a 10 per cent stake in large companies, paying a dividend of up to £500 a year to every employee.

    We’ll bring about the biggest extension of rights for workers our country has ever seen. We’ll scrap zero-hours contracts; introduce a £10 living wage – including for young people from the age of 16; give all workers equal rights from their first day in the job; take action on the gender, disability and ethnicity pay gaps; and introduce flexible working time for workers experiencing the menopause.

    It’s Labour that will get more money into your pocket, rather than line the pockets of multi-millionaires. And we will give people a democratic voice at work, allowing them to secure better terms and pay for themselves.

    …We will redesign the system to serve public health – not private wealth – using compulsory licensing to secure generic versions of patented medicines. We’ll tell the drugs companies that if they want public research funding then they’ll have to make their drugs affordable for all. And we will create a new publicly owned generic drugs manufacturer to supply cheaper medicines to our NHS saving our health service money and saving lives. We are the party that created the NHS. Only Labour can be trusted with its future.

    Government should provide a platform that allows everyone to reach their full potential. That’s the principle behind the National Education Service that the next Labour government will create. Free education for everyone throughout life as a right not a privilege. No more university tuition fees. Free childcare and a new Sure Start programme. Free vocational and technical education. And free training for adults….

    G:

    The various policy statements all get loud cheers and rounds of applause.

    Corbyn says Labour will scrap the Tory Trade Union Act within its first 100 days in office.

    That gets a standing ovation. (Many of the delegates are trade unionists.)

    And he confirms plans to bring rail, mail, water and the national grid into public ownership “so the essential services that we all rely on are run by and for the public not for profit.”

  237. says

    Morebyn:

    And when it comes to paying for our public services Labour will raise tax but only for the top five per cent. The Tories will cut taxes for highest paid. Labour will make the big corporations pay the tax they owe. The Tories will give them tax breaks.

    How can it be right that the largest companies and wealthiest individuals are being given tax cuts while at the other end mums are dads are missing meals so they can feed their kids? Shouldn’t it be a source of shame that the United Nations – the United Nations – had to take our government to task this year over the shocking fact that 14 million people are living in poverty in the fifth richest country in the world? Let me quote directly from the UN report. It said:

    “Much of the glue that has held British society together since the Second World War has been deliberately removed and replaced with a harsh and uncaring ethos.”

    Doesn’t that sum up the Tories: a harsh and uncaring ethos?

    Labour will get our economy working in every town city and region with a record investment blitz, and we’ll boost the devolved budgets in Wales and Scotland. We’ll upgrade our transport energy and broadband infrastructure with £250bn pounds of investment. And breathe new life into every community, with a further £250bn of capital for businesses and co-ops. Investment on a scale our country has never known, bringing good new jobs and fresh growth to where you live.

    For decades we’ve been told the economy is beyond our control, an irresistible force that can lay waste to entire communities while we can only watch on, passive.

    But it’s not true.

    With a serious industrial strategy and a radical Labour government, the economy can be a tool in our hands rather than the master of our fate. And with a government that’s prepared to intervene we can prioritise the things that matter most.

    Bringing our emissions down to net zero won’t happen by itself. It will only be possible with massive public investment in renewable energy and green technology.

    That’s not a burden. It’s an opportunity to kickstart a Green Industrial Revolution that will create hundreds of thousands of high-skill high-wage unionised jobs as we triple solar power, double onshore wind and bring about a seven-fold increase in offshore wind projects.

    And that’s why we announced today that the next Labour will build three new battery plants in South Wales, in Stoke-on-Trent and Swindon.

    The climate and environmental emergency we all face is an issue of global security. We’re seeing ice caps melting, coral reefs dissolving, wildfires in the Arctic Circle and Brazil’s far-right leader President Bolsonaro fiddles while the Amazon burns.

    Real security doesn’t come from belligerent posturing or reckless military interventions. It comes from international cooperation and diplomacy, and addressing the root causes of the threats we all face. Our foreign policy will be defined by our commitment to human rights and international justice, not enthusiasm for foreign wars that fuel – rather than combat – terrorism and insecurity.

    So it really beggars belief that this week Boris Johnson is openly talking about sending troops to Saudi Arabia as part of the increasingly dangerous confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran, in an apparent bid to appease Donald Trump.

    Have we learned nothing?

    Time and again over the last two decades the British political and military establishment has made the wrong call on military intervention in the wider Middle East, spreading conflicts rather than settling them.

    We must not make those mistakes again. Under a Labour government Britain will be a force for peace and international justice.

    Dangerous and wrong-headed international interventions have also exacerbated community tensions at home. When Boris Johnson compared Muslim women to letterboxes or bank robbers, it wasn’t a flippant comment, it was calculated to play on people’s fears. Displays of racism, Islamophobia or antisemitism are not signs of strength, but of weakness….

  238. says

    Morebyn:

    This Conservative government as well as the far-right has fuelled division in our society. They’ll blame people’s problems on the migrant worker trying to make a better life. They’ll blame it on the mum who’s struggling on universal credit. They’ll blame it on Muslims, on young people, on anyone but themselves and their backers, who benefit from a grossly unequal and rigged system.

    Labour will do the opposite, we will bring people together. A Labour government will transform our economy and communities. We stand not just for the 52% or the 48% but for the 99%.

    I have what might be considered a different view of leadership from the one people are used to. I do believe leaders should have strong principles that people can trust. But leaders must also listen and trust others to play their part. Because there are leaders in every community driving change. Many of them would never dream of calling themselves leaders, but they are.

    If the British people elect a Labour government in the coming election I will be proud to be your prime minister. Because I will be a different kind of prime minister. Not there from a sense of born-to-rule entitlement. Certainly not there for some personal power trip. There because I want to put government on your side. To put power and wealth into your hands.There because I believe government should work for you.

    Together, we can go beyond defending the gains made by previous generations. It’s time we started building a country fit for the next generation. Where young people don’t fear the future but look forward with confidence and hope.

    The tide is turning.The years of retreat and defeat are coming to an end. Together, we’ll take on the privileged, and put the people in power. Thank you.

  239. says

    BREAKING: Rep. John Lewis officially backs impeachment proceedings against Trump.

    ‘The time to begin impeachment proceedings has come’.

    This could unlock votes on the Congressional Black Caucus and among progressives who were holding the line until now. A lot of Democrats who talked to us said Lewis wouldn’t come out without knowing that Pelosi was right behind him.”

  240. says

    Wow:

    MONMOUTH pol of NH (trend from May)

    Warren: 27% (+19)
    Biden: 25% (-9)
    Sanders: 12% (-6)
    Buttigieg: 10% (+1)
    Harris: 3% (-3)
    Booker: 2% (-)
    Gabbard: 2% (+2)
    Klobuchar: 2% (-)
    Steyer: 2% (+2)
    Yang: 2% (+1)
    O’Rourke: 1% (-1)
    Williamson: 1% (+1)

    Gabbard makes the October debate.

  241. blf says

    I hadn’t heard of this threat by hair furor previously, Global postal union warns of ‘total disruption’ if Trump pulls US out:

    Trump says UPU’s rulings unfairly benefit China as UPU chief warns pullout would make it difficult to send and receive packages to US

    The international organization which connects postal services around the world has warned of “total disruption” and rising consumer costs if the US delivers on threats to quit the body.

    Donald Trump’s administration announced last October that it planned to withdraw from the Universal Postal Union (UPU), arguing that its rulings unfairly benefit China.

    The standoff at the UPU, which sets international postal rates, comes amid Trump’s broader trade battle with Beijing.

    On Tuesday the UPU chief, Bishar Hussein, warned that a US pullout would probably make it difficult, if not impossible, to send and receive packages to the US through national postal services, resulting in higher shipping costs, including for online shoppers.

    “A departure of the United States from the union would mean there is a total disruption of the service to the country,” Hussein said, as the agency held an emergency meeting to seek a compromise solution.

    Speaking before the emergency meeting, Trump’s hardline trade adviser, Peter Navarro, said he had spent the past 11 months preparing for a possible seamless exit.

    This week’s three-day meeting marks only the third extraordinary congress in the UPU’s 145-year-history.

    The agency, which is based in Bern and comprises 192 member countries, sets lower prices for bulky letters and small parcels coming from emerging and developing countries, a group that still includes China.

    […]

    Warnings have also been sounded about the implications for US military members abroad sending packages home, and for Americans abroad wanting to vote by postal ballots.

    Hussein said he was “very optimistic that we are going to find a solution”.

    “We have a track record of solving things. We have survived two world wars, and the United Postal Union has always really reinvented itself.”

    I suspect Mr Hussein has not dealt with a dalekocrazy which sees trade as a zero-sum game; i.e., If I “win”, you most “lose”, if you “win”, then I’ve “lost”.

  242. says

    Guardian snap verdict on Corbyn’s speech:

    That might not have been Jeremy Corbyn’s best conference speech, but it may have been his most self-confident and best received. In 2015 he addressed the party still not quite believing he had been elected leader, and with MPs horrified by what had happened. In 2017 he was giddy with success, having done well in a general election that was expected to finish him off. But this year he addressed a party more Corbynite than ever before, as yesterday’s vote showed, with a policy offer more leftwing and radical than ever before, and facing a Tory party looking more divided and chaotic than ever before. The obstacles to Corbyn becoming prime minister are still formidable – read John Curtice on the subject at 9.25am – but the Labour leader could be forgiven for wallowing in the positives for 45 minutes.

    …The most interesting passage was the one that contained the one announcement in the speech, plans for a quasi-socialisation of the pharmaceutical industry. Labour has just released a detailed 52-page document (pdf) with full details. Corbyn himself is not one of parliament’s great policy experts, but if you look, you will find that in many areas his party has a detailed blueprint for transformative change. What voters will make of it, of course, remains to be seen.

  243. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    Akira, No worries. I certainly share your frustration. Darth Cheeto has taken a big dump right in the middle of the Constitution, and his fellow Rethugs are calling it “a work of art”. I agree that we have to get him out of there. However, I think our best chance of doing that is through the 2020 election. And getting the Trumpster fire out of there is only one thing. We have to take back the Senate, and we have to take back enough state governorships and state houses that we don’t get ratfucked again redistricting.

    To my mind, since it would be virtually impossible for the House to conclude an investigation that returned articles of impeachment before June of next year, the best approach is to start the impeachment inquiry and use it to maintain a steady drip, drip, drip every news cycle detailing the astounding corruption of this administration. Put Republicans at all levels in the untenable position of supporting the indefensible clusterfuck that is this administration, and bludgeon them with it all through the election cycle. Don’t make it just about Darth Cheeto. Make it about both him and his supporters and even the Rethugs who are “privately horrified” but fail to take action. We need to make the ’20s the polar opposite of the teens.

  244. blf says

    In response an opinion column in the Grauniad, So parliament is returning. But what happens next?, the readers’s comments contain some nice snarks:

    ● “Perhaps we could recolonise Ireland to solve the backstop problem. It’s only slightly more barmy than the idea that Ireland could also leave the EU to solve it. […]”

    ● “Generic nationalized drugs and free nationalized education. Clearly the electorate would never have voted for Brexit if they were taking their meds and were competent to understand a referendum. […]”

    ● “Next we should invade France. Invading France was very popular for hundreds of years, a fine source of employment and brought the nation together. Boris Johnson surely has some sort of claim on Aquitaine. And we can reclaim the Cinq Ports. Perhaps we could form an alliance with Prussia? And the Lombards. And defeat the Barbary Corsairs, who are very naughty.”

    ● “PM’s Question Time, policeman walks in and arrests Boris Johnson for unlawful actions against the state.”

    ● “With business resuming where it left off… Well that answers the headline, not much will happen next.”

    ● “Maybe they could put up a cardboard cut out Johnston and throw pies at that. It would be a shame really ‘cos the ‘inaccuracies’ per unit hour of the cut out would be less than that of the person on whom it was based.”

    ● “Can they vote to throw Johnson in the Tower and lose the key?”

    ● “Do taxpayers get a refund on the two weeks extra holiday that MPs have taken?”

  245. says

    Re Trump’s speech – In addition to his ongoing issues with reading, his teeth, and forming words with his mouth, I also think this is his idea of a “serious,” “presidential” demeanor. Especially with the memory of being laughed at last year when he tried to ad lib like he was at a rally, and with even more awareness that he’s not respected or competent, he wanted to keep himself as low key and on-script as possible to at least try to project dignity. Since he has no dignity and is just a two-bit huckster, this is the result.

  246. says

    Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt says UK will pay its debt to Iran once the amount is finalized in court, but the payment should not be linked to #FreeNazanin’s freedom b/c that would ‘encourage countries like Iran to take hostages in the future’.”

    I know nothing about this, but if they owe the money and are going to pay it anyway they should get the poor woman freed from the hell she’s living in.

  247. blf says

    ‘They gave one to Obama’: Trump complains he deserves a Nobel prize (video, text quoted in full):

    Donald Trump has suggested he is deserving of a Nobel prize for a lot of things, but has not received one yet because they are not given out fairly. They gave one to Obama immediately … and he had no idea why he got it, the US president [sic] complained.

    Trump went on to offer his services as a mediator between India and Pakistan, touting his experience in arbitrating pretty big disputes between his friends. I’ve never failed as an arbitrator, he told Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan. If I can be of help, let me know.

  248. says

    Key detail from timeline.

    In Sept, @ChrisMurphyCT met with Ukrainian president Zelensky. Murphy says Zelensky felt cutoff in aid was a ‘consequence’ of not digging dirt on Biden.

    Bottom line: Trump leveraged presidency to get more foreign interference:…”

    Murphy is calling for opening impeachment.

  249. blf says

    All in the Onion:

    ● Average American Must Have Life Ruined By Natural Disaster Every 6 Minutes To Fear Climate Change: “Outlining what a shift in public consciousness regarding global ecocatastrophe might require, a study published by researchers at the University of Oregon Monday found the average American must have their life destroyed by a natural disaster every six minutes in order to finally fear climate change. ‘According to our data, American citizens must lose their home to a flash flood, almost immediately watch a tornado ravage their hometown, and then succumb to heatstroke in 110 degree temperatures before recognizing climate change as a viable threat,’ said head researcher and professor Vanessa Verrier, citing the tendency of US citizens to forget about global warming roughly 10 minutes after their homes were devastated by wildfires. […]”

    ● Nation Perplexed By 16-Year-Old Who Doesn’t Want World To End: “Following her UN address about the existential threat posed by a rapidly warming planet, citizens across the United States confirmed Monday they were perplexed by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old who apparently has no desire to see the world end. ‘I know she’s from another country, but she’s still a teenager, right?’ said 33-year-old Sophia Williams of Kenosha, WI, her confusion reportedly shared by millions of Americans who recalled that during their own adolescence they had hated the world and everyone in it and had felt the end couldn’t come fast enough. […]”

    ● If Earth Continues To Warm At Current Rate Moon Will Be Mostly Underwater By 2400 (image (no text)).

  250. says

    McConnell says he wasn’t given an explanation for the delay in aid to Ukraine when he pressed Esper and Pompeo on the issue this summer. (!!!)

    McConnell says it’s ‘premature’ to talk about hypotheticals like the potential impeachment of the president and how the Senate would handle it.”

    That’s quite a development.

    Trump just tweeted that he’s ordering the release of the unredacted transcript of “the” phone call with Zelenskyy, which of course is nowhere near sufficient and potentially misleading.

  251. says

    Yahoo – “Senate Intel panel opens bipartisan inquiry on Ukraine whistleblower”:

    Even as the House is ramping up its investigation into the Trump administration’s dealings with Ukraine, the Senate Intelligence Committee has opened its own inquiry and is seeking a quick interview with the whistleblower who filed the initial complaint with the intelligence community’s inspector general, according to a letter obtained by Yahoo News.

    A letter seeking to question the still-anonymous whistleblower was sent Tuesday to Andrew Bakaj, the lawyer who represents the official. It was signed by committee chair Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va. — signifying that the panel is pursuing the politically explosive issue on a bipartisan basis.

    “In order to ascertain the appropriate path forward for your client while protecting your client’s privacy, we are writing to request that you make your client available for a closed bipartisan interview with committee counsel no later than Friday, September 27, 2019 in a mutually agreeable location,” the Burr and Warner letter reads.

    The committee’s request for an interview increases pressure on the Trump White House over an issue that seems increasingly likely to trigger a formal impeachment inquiry in the House. The fact that Burr has joined the request for more information immediately sends a signal that even some Senate Republicans — until now, almost all loyal to Trump — acknowledge the need for more information about the explosive allegations that Trump improperly pressured the president of Ukraine to do his bidding in an attempt to smear his potential Democratic rival, Joe Biden.

  252. says

    Adam Schiff just tweeted: “We have been informed by the whistleblower’s counsel that their client would like to speak to our committee and has requested guidance from the Acting DNI as to how to do so.

    We‘re in touch with counsel and look forward to the whistleblower’s testimony as soon as this week.”

  253. blf says

    Off-the-top-of-my-head, the proposed “closed interview” with the whistleblower (@460) sounds risky to the whistleblower — there will be thugs present, and despite whatever noises they are bleating about it being “bipartisan” or “protecting privacy”, a thug or thug staffer seems likely to leak the whistleblower’s name or identifying detail, either to someone like breitbart or to hair furor or his dalekocrazy. (I’m not too sure I’d trust the dummies here, either?)

    So far, as far as I am aware, the whistleblower’s identity has been well-protected… reminds me of Watergate’s “Deep Throat”. And as per drip drip drip mentioned previously, that’s precisely what Deep Throat did: Drip. Drip. “Follow the money.” Drip. Drip. Drip. Drip…

  254. blf says

    Barbie, the astronaut: French toymakers sign up to fight stereotypes (Grauniad edits in {curly braces}):

    […]
    French toymakers have signed a pact to rid games and toys of the gender stereotypes which the government blames for keeping women out of maths and science careers.

    The charter for a “balanced representation (of genders) in toys” was signed by the government, the French Federation of Toy and Childcare Industries (FJP) and the association of toy manufacturers.

    Explaining the initiative, the junior economy minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said many toys projected an “insidious” message that discouraged girls from pursuing careers as engineers or computer coders — fields perceived as more appropriate for boys.

    “There are toys for girls that are generally very pink and generally very focused on domestic life, whereas toys for boys are generally themed around construction, space travel and science and technology,” she told the broadcaster RTL.

    The message that jobs are gender-specific is hammered home from a young age, with the result that “very few women” enter science and technology, Pannier-Runacher said.

    “If you go to a shop to buy a toy for your young niece or nephew, the first question is: ‘Is it for a girl or a boy?’ and not: ‘Do they like to play outside? Do they like to play construction games? Do they like to play at taking care of a baby?’” she said.

    […]

    Apart from changes in toy design, the charter also envisages manufacturers adapting the way their products are advertised.

    There will be training for toyshop workers, so they can learn that “what is important is the potential of the child and what they love”, that “a baby in the arms of a small boy or a Meccano {building set} [Erector Set] in the arms of a girl is also good”, said Pannier-Runacher.

    […]

    She tweeted a picture of the new charter along with Barbie dolls dressed as an astronaut and a robotics engineer. [link …]

  255. says

    Pretty much all the reports are converging on: Pelosi will announce opening a formal impeachment inquiry when she speaks later.

    WARNER says the whistleblower’s attorney has been in touch with the Senate Intel Cmte: ‘The lawyer for the whistleblower has reached out for a counsel meeting but we’re going to take this one step at a time and I think it’s terribly important to get the facts’.”

  256. blf says

    From the Grauniad’s live States blog (a bit more than one hour ago, quoted in full):

    Trump’s reelection campaign is now fundraising off the escalating calls among House Democrats for his impeachment.

    The Democrats know they have no chance of winning in 2020, so now they are crying, ‘Impeachment!’ Trump’s 2020 campaign wrote in an email to supporters.

    It continued: There are now over 150 House Democrats who back Impeachment. We CANNOT let these hateful and baseless attacks go on any longer.

    The effort to capitalize on Democrats’ demands underscores Nancy Pelosi’s concerns that moving forward with impeachment will spark public opposition and energize the right.

  257. says

    Susan Hennessey: “For two months, dozens of people in the government knew this unbelievable abuse was going on. It took one person brave enough to tell the truth. Congress must find a means for other officials with important information to communicate to committees directly, securely & lawfully.”