1. says

    Trump claims he doesn’t know Prince Andrew, but once called him “a lot of fun.”

    […] Trump has claimed that he does not know Prince Andrew, but a recently resurfaced interview with People from 2000 says otherwise, showing Trump describing Andrew as “a lot of fun to be with.”

    “He’s not pretentious. He’s a lot of fun to be with,” Trump told People in 2000, speaking of Andrew. The article also states that Trump and Andrew, as well as Trump’s then-girlfriend Melania Knauss, had “chatted” at a Halloween costume party hosted by Heidi Klum in New York City in 2000.

    The republished article from People contradicts Trump’s claims from just a day earlier that he does not know Andrew.

    “I don’t know Prince Andrew, but it’s a tough story,” Trump said on Tuesday while attending the annual NATO meeting in London. “I don’t know him, no.”

    NBC News link

  2. tomh says

    WaPo Opinion:
    Democrats are debating a dangerous false choice on impeachment
    By Laurence H. Tribe
    Dec. 5, 2019

    As the House of Representatives moves toward formulating articles of impeachment, it is vital that the options on the table not be misframed. It’s a dangerously false choice to think that the House Judiciary Committee must either adopt a broad, kitchen-sink approach or take a narrow, laser-focused perspective.

    Yes, narrow is better than broad for the purposes of focus and public understanding. But narrow mustn’t mean myopic. What makes President Trump uniquely dangerous is not that he has committed a single terrible act that meets the Constitution’s definition of an impeachable offense. Neither Russia-gate nor Ukraine-gate was a one-night stand, and the obstruction of justice that enabled Trump to get away with asking for and benefiting from Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election is of a piece with his defiance of congressional investigations that might enable him to get away with demanding Ukraine’s intervention in 2020.

    The impeachment and removal of this president is necessary because Trump has been revealed as a serial abuser of power, whose pattern of behavior — and “pattern” is the key word, as Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.) and House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) emphasized during Wednesday’s hearing — makes clear he will repeat the same sequence again and again.

    Today, it’s soliciting the help of Ukraine (and China and, yet again, Russia), both behind the scenes and out in the open, to attack the integrity of the next presidential election. Tomorrow, it could be seeking the help of foreign hackers to wage cyberwar on election machinery.

    Nobody who truly cares about the right to vote or who believes we should remain a self-governing constitutional republic free from the whims of a foreign power can afford to ignore the pattern this man has established or gamble that he will suddenly find religion and “go straight,” rather than do whatever it takes to hold onto his office.

    To be clear, I am by no means advocating charging Trump with all of his many impeachable offenses. Nor is that in the cards. The House leadership has clearly been parsimonious in leaving behind a boatload of potential impeachable offenses, including blatant violations of the foreign and domestic emoluments clauses, the Constitution’s main anti-corruption clauses; violating election laws as unindicted co-conspirator “Individual 1” in the Stormy Daniels affair; endangering the First Amendment by labeling the press the “enemy of the people”; fomenting racial violence and attacks on critics who include patriotic witnesses; and any number of other things that many have pressed the Judiciary Committee to include in a comprehensive set of impeachment articles. The committee will likely resist those pleas for breadth, and I will applaud it for doing so.

    Rather, I am advocating that there be two or, at most, three articles of impeachment together describing a single, continuous course of conduct in which the president placed his personal and political interests above those of the nation. That narrative should include Trump’s attempt to pressure Ukraine into helping his reelection campaign just as the books appeared to close on the investigation into his invitation for illegal help from Russia to become president in the first place. And it should extend to his obstruction of justice to conceal his campaign’s role in taking advantage of that help — a demonstrated pattern of obstruction he has escalated in his unprecedented directive that the entire executive branch refuse to comply with lawful congressional subpoenas.

    A president whose Justice Department says he cannot be indicted, whose White House counsel says he cannot even be investigated and whose lawyers say he can block the executive branch from participating in the impeachment process is a president who has become a dictator. None of us can feel safe in such a regime.

    Unless the articles of impeachment identify and highlight the pattern the evidence has thus clearly demonstrated, the House will have failed its constitutional responsibility to present the Senate with the strongest possible basis for removing a scofflaw president. To do what some have proposed and, for example, charge the president with one act of soliciting or offering a bribe and be done with it, is to trifle with the awesome responsibility of all who take an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

  3. says

    From Rudy Giuliani:

    The conversation about corruption in Ukraine was based on compelling evidence of criminal conduct by then VP Biden, in 2016, that has not been resolved and until it is will be a major obstacle to the US assisting Ukraine with its anti-corruption reforms.

    Translation: Yes, when Trump and his cronies use the word “corruption” in reference to Ukraine they mean “Biden.” And yes, any failure to investigate the Bidens “will be a major obstacle to the US assisting Ukraine,” (will be a major obstacle to the release of funds for military assistance). Got it? And, if I say “compelling evidence,” I mean a totally bonkers conspiracy theory that Russian intelligence operatives pulled out of my ass.

    From Jon Chait:

    Giuliani is saying out loud that corruption (1) specifically means Joe Biden, and (2) Ukraine must satisfy Giuliani and Trump by investigating it in order to get “assistance” from the United States. He is literally tweeting out the quid pro quo.

    And lest there be any ambiguity as to whether Giuliani is speaking on Trump’s behalf, he has dispelled it. Giuliani called his trip “work being done by a lawyer defending his client” to the Daily Beast, and tells the right-wing news network OANN: “The president of the United States, I can tell you this, is asking for this.”

  4. says

    Trump used unsecured telephones to talk to Rudy Giuliani while Giuliani was abroad. From the Washington Post:

    […] The revelations raise the possibility that Moscow was able to learn about aspects of Trump’s attempt to get Ukraine to investigate a political rival months before that effort was exposed by a whistleblower report and the impeachment inquiry, officials said. […]

    The disclosures provide fresh evidence suggesting that the president continues to defy the security guidance urged by his aides and followed by previous incumbents — a stance that is particularly remarkable given Trump’s attacks on Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign for her use of a private email account while serving as secretary of state. […]


    […] By willfully ignoring security guidance, Trump has created a vulnerability that Russia could exploit to advance its interests over ours.

    The Post spoke to John Sipher, former deputy chief of Russia operations at the CIA, who said the Republican president and his lawyer have effectively “given the Russians ammunition they can use in an overt fashion, a covert fashion or in the twisting of information.” He added that it’s so likely that Russia tracked these calls that the Kremlin probably knows more now about those conversations than impeachment investigators.

    […] the Post reported that after White House officials made “a concerted attempt” in 2017 to have Trump use secure White House lines, the president came to realize this meant officials such as then-White House Chief of Staff John Kelly would know to whom Trump was speaking.

    The president considered this unacceptable and “reverted to using his cellphone.”

    And with that in mind, this seems like a good time to update my entirely subjective rundown of the most egregious examples of Trump mishandling sensitive information and creating security risks.

    10. In May 2017, Trump had a chat with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in which the Republican shared information about dispatching two nuclear submarines off the coast of the Korean peninsula. […]

    9. In September 2019, during a photo-op at an event along the U.S./Mexico border, the president seemed eager to boast to reporters about detailed technological advancements in border security. It fell to Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, the acting head of the Army Corps, to interject, “Sir, there could be some merit in not discussing that.”

    8. In July 2019, Trump had an unsecured conversation with U.S. Ambassador to the E.U. Gordon Sondland, while the ambassador was in a Ukrainian restaurant within earshot of others […]

    6. In February 2018, Trump ignored the pleas of many U.S. officials and recklessly declassified information from the so-called “Nunes Memo” in the hopes of advancing a partisan scheme.

    5. In February 2017, Trump discussed sensitive details about North Korea’s ballistic missile tests with the prime minister of Japan at a Mar-a-Lago dining area, in view of wealthy civilians/customers. […]

    3. In August 2019, Trump published a tweet about a failed Iranian launch, which included a detailed photo. […]

    2. In October 2019, Trump needlessly blurted out all kinds of tactical and operational details about the al-Baghdadi mission.

    1. Just four months into Trump’s presidency, he welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak into the Oval Office – at the request of Russian President Vladimir Putin – for a visit that was never fully explained.

    It was in this meeting that Trump revealed highly classified information to his Russian guests for no apparent reason. The Washington Post reported at the time, “The information the president relayed had been provided by a U.S. partner through an intelligence-sharing arrangement considered so sensitive that details have been withheld from allies and tightly restricted even within the U.S. government, officials said.”

    The Wall Street Journal added, “According to one U.S. official, the information shared was highly sensitive and difficult to acquire and was considered extraordinarily valuable.”

    This list, incidentally, is not comprehensive.


  5. says

    Mark Sumner comments on Rudi Giuliani:

    […] Again and again Giuliani has been Trump’s criminal icebreaker, out in front, making claims that seem incredibly over the top … until they turn out to be just exactly what Trump has been doing all along.

    So it seems only right that, in the midst of impeachment proceedings in which the main concern is Donald Trump’s attempt to solicit false information about political opponents from Ukrainian officials, Giuliani is … in Ukraine, soliciting false information about Trump’s political opponents. And no one should be surprised to learn that he’s bragging about it.

    Giuliani is meeting with corrupt officials who lost their posts in past anticorruption efforts and pro-Russian legislators who oppose Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to create a “documentary” that openly supports the conspiracy theories that Trump was demanding of Zelensky. But he’s not waiting for that documentary to mount his attacks.

    In a series of tweets on Thursday night and Friday morning, Giuliani unspooled a series of attacks on Vice President Joe Biden, Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, and President Barack Obama. Giuliani claimed that Yovanovitch disbursed billions of dollars in aid to her “favored NGOs” and that she “directed the police not to investigate.” That claim—that Yovanovitch was somehow providing “do not prosecute” lists—was part of the original smear that Giuliani brought against Yovanovitch in his successful campaign to get her removed from the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine.

    But Giuliani didn’t stop there. He leveled the same charges against Obama and Biden. In his latest series of tweets, Giuliani claims that over $5 billion was “wasted” in Ukraine, with Biden acting as the “point man” in the disbursal and Obama ordering Ukrainian police not to investigate.

    Giuliani’s claims are beyond ridiculous, his witnesses are on the far side of disreputable […]

    With Giuliani’s actions, Trump has moved beyond backroom demands for claims against his political opponents. This is Trump’s personal attorney, in the open, on the air, in front of the public, conspiring with foreign officials—and foreign criminals—for the express purpose of generating claims meant to hurt Trump’s political opponents.

    There’s no doubt that Trump will claim Giuliani is doing this on his own. There’s no doubt that Giuliani will claim his actions are protected. And there’s no doubt that the media will fail to refute either of those claims.

    With Russia, Trump learned he could get away with foreign collusion. With Ukraine, Trump confirmed that Republicans would back him no matter what. This is what comes next.


  6. says

    Guardian – “‘If you saw her body, you will never sleep again’: despair as India rape crisis grows”:

    Her family called her Twinkle. In the dry desert brush of Rajasthan where her body was found, blood spattering her tiny legs and brown school uniform and a belt fastened around her neck, she lay among scattered toffee wrappers.

    Her family could barely utter the words to describe what happened to the six-year-old. “If you saw her body, you will never sleep again,” said her grandfather Mahvir Meena.

    Over the past week, a wave of anger and repulsion has enveloped India in response to the gang rape and murder of a 27-year-old vet in Hyderabad as she made her way home from work last Wednesday. The four men who allegedly carried out the attack deliberately deflated her scooter tyres, then waited. After offering her help, they allegedly dragged her to isolated scrubland by the side of the road, raped her, asphyxiated her and then dumped her body in a motorway underpass, before dousing it with kerosene and setting it alight. The four suspects were controversially shot dead by police on Friday.

    Yet while the horrific crime has prompted hundreds to take to the streets, and calls for lynching and hanging in parliament, it was far from an isolated incident. According to statistics, a woman is raped in India every 20 minutes.

    India is the most dangerous place to be a woman, according to a survey by the Thomson Reuters Foundation last year, and the stark reality of this was brought to the fore this week. As well as the Hyderabad case, there was the abduction, gang rape and murder of a young lawyer in Jharkhand; the rape and murder of a 55-year-old cloth seller in Delhi’s Gulabi Bagh neighbourhood; and a teenager in the state of Bihar was gang raped and killed, before her body was set on fire on Tuesday.

    And last Saturday, in the small rural Rajasthan village of Kherli, Twinkle became one of the youngest recent victims of India’s sexual violence pandemic.

    Her alleged attacker was a neighbour who she would often visit on the way home from school….

    Remnants of Twinkle’s possessions were still scattered all over the village where she lived with her grandparents when her family spoke about the crime. A small pair of pink trousers hung from a nail. One of her jelly sandals lay on the roof where she had flung them. Her mother, Bintosh Meena, sat on the floor, her face wrapped in blankets, rocking back and forth in grief and howling out her daughter’s name. “Wherever you are my little quail, come back to me, come back to me,” she repeated.

    She was called Twinkle because she was like a tiny little star, said her grandmother, Kiskinda Meena, wiping away tears….

    It was seven years ago, after the brutal gang rape of Jyoti Singh, a student on a bus in Delhi in 2012, that India’s systemic problem with sexual violence was first pushed into the spotlight. Thousands took to the streets to demand action in the name of Singh, – who was christened Nirbhaya, meaning fearless, by the media. New legislation doubled prison terms for rapists to 20 years.

    But seven years on, the consensus among activists and women is that the problem is getting worse. The key social issues behind the crisis remain unaddressed and the culture of impunity for sexual crimes remains firmly embedded.

    In the courts there are 133,000 pending rape cases. In May, a panel of judges dismissed allegations of sexual harassment against the chief justice of India, made by a former court employee, as being of “no substance”, in a ruling that triggered anger and protests. He denied the claims.

    “Unless this becomes a problem of nationalism and national pride, I don’t see anything changing,” said Deepa Narayan, a social activist and the author of Chup: Breaking the Silence About India’s Women. “Society here devalues women systematically and makes them subhuman, and rape is the worst symptom of that. It does feel like the levels of depravity and cruelty in these crimes are increasing.”

    State governments have not even touched the Nirbhaya fund, for which the government put aside 10bn rupees for initiatives to help women’s safety. As of today, 91% of the fund remains unspent. Delhi, which bears the unwelcome title of “rape capital of the world”, has spent 5% of its allocation.

    In the Indian parliament this week, the response by several politicians to the Hyderabad rape case was simply to call for the accused to be lynched and hanged. But Kavita Krishnan, the secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association, said this was only making the problem worse.

    “The cry for the death penalty is nothing but a red herring,” she said. “It’s the easy option because it avoids any institutional accountability and doesn’t cost a thing, it’s just lawmakers reassuring themselves that all it will take to solve this problem is to eliminate one or two of these devils. We are still not having the conversation which needs to happen, so nothing changes.”

    She added: “All the talk of the death penalty for rape just means we may be seeing more women murdered so they can’t remain alive as a witness.”

    Krishnan said that far from things improving since 2012, under Narendra Modi “we’ve gone several steps back. We have a government which is actively invested in rape culture, in protecting powerful rape-accused persons and communalising every incident of rape.”

    Ranjana Kumari, the director of India’s Centre for Social Research, said she ultimately held the government responsible for the problem. “They are failing in law enforcement, they are failing in dispensation of justice, they are failing in implementing safe environments for women,” said Kumari. “There is no political will to address this problem, so how is it ever going to get better?”

  7. says

    Bloomberg Claims “Nobody Asked” Him About Stop and Frisk Until He Ran for President. That’s a Lie.

    […] The billionaire was regularly called to defend the program as mayor, and has been asked about the program many times since leaving office in 2013. In each instance, even as recently as January of this year, Bloomberg staunchly defended the program. “We focused on keeping kids from going through the correctional system,” Bloomberg said while taking questions at the United States Naval Academy’s annual leadership conference in January. “The result of that was, over the years, the murder rate in New York City went from 650 a year to 300 a year.”

    Bloomberg’s defenses as mayor were even more full-throated. After a federal court found the program was unconstitutional in 2013, he assailed the ruling at a press conference: “This is a dangerous decision made by a judge that I think just does not understand how policing works.”[…]

  8. says

    Beware those fake social media accounts:

    Social media companies from Facebook to YouTube are failing to stop people from setting up fake accounts, buying false online followers and promoting inauthentic digital content, according to a report published Friday by a NATO-accredited group.

    The findings — based on analysts purchasing social media manipulation tools and then testing how the companies responded — stand in stark contrast to public statements from Facebook, Twitter and Google that claim they have all significantly clamped down on such activities since the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

    Despite those reassurances, researchers at NATO’s Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence, a military organization based in Latvia’s capital whose mandate includes identifying potential foreign online interference, were able to purchase roughly 54,000 inauthentic social media interactions — either fake followers, likes, comments or views of online content — with little, if any, pushback from some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names.

    “We assess that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are still failing to adequately counter inauthentic behaviour on their platforms,” said Sebastian Bay and Rolf Fredheim, the report’s authors, in the publication.

    “Self-regulation is not working. The manipulation industry is growing year by year,” they continued. “We see no sign that it is becoming substantially more expensive or more difficult to conduct widespread social media manipulation.”

    While roughly 10 percent of the paid-for inauthentic activity bought by the NATO-affiliated group had ties to online political campaigns, the lion’s share of online manipulation tools, including the creation and purchase of fake accounts, was tied to commercial purposes. […]


  9. says

    Nancy Pelosi was right to push back hard when a reporter insinuated that she and other Democrats were investigating Trump only because they “hate Trump.”

    Conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh said Friday that impeachment efforts by Democrats are driven by “pure, raw hatred” of President Trump during an interview with “Fox & Friends” on Friday.

    The comments from Limbaugh come one day after Sinclair Broadcasting investigative reporter James Rosen asked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) if she “hated” Trump, which prompted a fiery response from the California congresswoman.

    “Democrats are wandering aimlessly and being propelled by one thing. You’re watching it. You watched it with the three so-called expert witnesses,” Limbaugh said Friday morning of three of the four constitutional scholars who testified Wednesday and called for impeachment of the president. “We are watching pure, raw hatred. They hate the man and they hate the people who elected him. They hate him because he beat them.” […]

    Yes, that’s the propaganda that rightwing media is pushing.


  10. says

    The extraordinary danger of being pregnant and uninsured in Texas

    The state’s system for helping the uninsured thwarts women at every turn and encourages subpar care.

    The article tells the story of Rosa Diaz, who died. See the link for details.

    […] From 2012 through 2015, at least 382 pregnant women and new mothers died in Texas from causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, according to the most recent data available from the Department of State Health Services; since then, hundreds more have likely perished. While their cases reflect the problems that contribute to maternal mortality across the United States — gross medical errors, deeply entrenched racism, structural deficiencies in how care is delivered — another Texas-size factor often plays a significant role: the state’s vast, and growing, problem with health insurance access.

    About one in six Texans — just over 5 million people — had no health insurance last year. That’s almost a sixth of all uninsured Americans, more than the entire population of neighboring Louisiana. After trending lower for several years, the Texas rate has been rising again — to 17.7 percent in 2018, or about twice the national average. […]

  11. says

    From Maddow last night – “Russian transgressions met with increasingly weak US response”: “Rachel Maddow looks at examples of Russia wildly overstepping its bounds in the past five[] years and how the U.S.-led international response to those violations have [sic] grown weaker under Donald Trump.”

    She also said during an interview that a Senate Intel report debunking the Ukraine election interference story has been with the DNI for classification for months and that he’s been sitting on it. Later, I believe she said reports are that it will be released soon.

  12. says

    About Trump’s “orange” skin:

    […] Jason Kelly, a makeup artist who touched up Trump’s makeup during the Republican convention in 2016, thinks it is makeup on top of tanning. He told the paper, “When I see him, I see a line of oxidized bronzer around his hairline. The application is like a kindergartner did it.”

    More on this important and earth-shaking mystery:

    This week, The Washington Post published a story about the experience of undocumented workers employed by the Trump Organization, both before and during his run for the presidency. It’s full of anecdotes of hypocrisy and raises important questions about immigration and underpaid labor.

    But buried many paragraphs into the narrative is a section detailing Trump’s unusually specific habits and requests, like requiring exactly 2.5 boxes of Tic Tacs in his bedroom at all times. Then came this sentence: “The same rule applied to the Bronx Colors-brand face makeup from Switzerland that Trump slathered on — two full containers, one half full — even if it meant the housekeepers had to regularly bring new shirts from the pro shop because of the rust-colored stains on the collars.” […]

    There is evidence from as early as 2012 that Trump was using orange-y makeup. One of the same workers featured in this week’s Post story, Sandra Diaz, was interviewed in a 2018 New York Times article: “That same year, she said, Mr. Trump had an outburst over some orange stains on the collar of his white golf shirt, which Ms. Diaz described as stubborn remnants of his makeup, which she had difficulty removing.” […]

    Nicole Bryl has been Melania Trump’s makeup artist since well before she became First Lady. Bryl has done makeup for celebs like Kathie Lee Gifford and Maria Menounos. She also kept a blog.

    In a 2016 post she wrote, “Life these days can be exhilarating when words such as Trump. Makeup & Skincare are mentioned, especially during this 2016 campaign period…I have been asked this so many times through the years and I can honestly report that I know nothing about Mr. T’s hair and DO NOT and NEVER HAVE DONE HIS MAKEUP!” (Sic)

    As a professional makeup artist, it’s not surprising she’d want to distance herself from his much-ridiculed aesthetic, but she has talked to him about products, as she chronicled in a 2013 post: “At dinner Mr. Trump was engaging in conversation. He asked me what my favorite makeup products were and why? Which brands did I think were cutting edge? He then …thanked me for my work which I thought was extremely generous of him to express out loud.” Again, this is pre-Bronx Colors […]

    We know a little more about Trump’s grooming habits, but not enough, in my opinion. I’m hoping Fahrenthold has more details to reveal. I reached out to him, too, just in case some important makeup tidbit got cut from the story. […]


    The reference to Fahrenthold is funny. He’s the reporter who dug into many of Trump’s financial shenanigans. Arguably more important than makeup.

  13. says

    From Wonkette, “Trump Was Holding Up California’s OWN MONEY For The Homeless So Gavin Newsom Told Him To Get Bent.”

    California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday that he’s taking action to release half a billion dollars in funding to address homelessness. The money is part of a $650 million package of emergency funding already approved by state legislators, but held up because the Trump administration has dragged its feet on releasing data that would allow the money to be spent. Cities and counties can begin applying for funding immediately.

    While more federal money to help with California’s homelessness crisis would help, this delay has nothing to do with Trump demanding Newsom investigate Joe Biden. The San Jose Mercury News explains how the federal government managed to prevent California from spending its own damn money:

    The governor accused the Trump administration of trying to politicize the issue and preventing the funding from getting to local officials who can put it to use. State law says that funding allocations ultimately must be based off homeless counts approved by the federal government. But Newsom’s office says Trump’s team has been sitting on the data for months.

    So instead, California will use preliminary homeless estimates to distribute $500 million and wait for the final numbers to allocate the remainder of the funds.

    What? The feds are holding up routine government data at a time when Donald Trump is routinely attacking California for supposedly not doing enough about homelessness? Pardon us while we locate our shocked faces. Also not surprising: The Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is responsible for the data on homelessness, didn’t return the Mercury News’s request for comment. Ben Carson was probably shopping for furniture.

    […] Please do go read the linked story on that San Jose program, now being replicated by other cities — like Oakland, which offers small grants to keep people in their homes before they end up on the streets. Talk about a radical notion: Give families assistance while they still have a roof over their heads, instead of the far higher costs of helping them back into housing afterwards. […]

  14. says

    “Chilean anti-rape anthem becomes international feminist phenomenon”:

    A Chilean protest song about rape culture and victim shaming has become a viral anthem for feminists around the world.

    Un Violador en Tu Camino – A Rapist in Your Path – was first performed in late November as Chile’s nationwide uprising against social inequality pushed into its second month.

    Videos of the song – and its accompanying dance moves – quickly went viral, spreading across Latin America and the world, with performances taking place in Mexico, Colombia, France, Spain and the UK.

    The song was written by Lastesis, a feminist theatre group based in the city of Valparaíso, who credited Chile’s women protesters for helping spread the work around the world.

    A Rapist in Your Path is based on the work of the Argentinian theorist Rita Segato, who argues that sexual violence is a political problem, not a moral one.

    The lyrics describe how institutions – the police, the judiciary and political power structures – uphold systematic violations of women’s rights: “The rapist is you/ It’s the cops/ The judges/ The state/ The president.”

    Another section repudiates the many ways that women are blamed for falling victim to sexual violence (“And it’s not my fault / nor where I was / nor what I wore”) before concluding: “The rapist is you.”

    According to statistics compiled by the Chilean Network Against Violence Against Women, 42 cases of sexual abuse are reported each day to the police (approximately two every hour). In 2018, only 25.7% of sexual abuse cases resulted in judicial rulings.

    “In the Chilean judicial system, stereotypes and biases harm women victims of sexual violence,” said Bárbara Sepúlveda Hales, spokeswoman for the feminist lawyer group Abofem. “In many trials, the life and sexual behavior of the victim is exposed as if it were a justification for the aggression they suffered.”

    Although the song was written before the wave of unrest and repression erupted in October, Cometa said that the choreography reflects the crisis in which security forces have faced widespread allegations of rape, torture and shooting to kill.

    In one part of the song, performers squat down in an echo of a position which female protesters are forced to assume on arrest. “It’s a simple form of torture and punishment carried out by the Chilean police,” Cometa said.

    Chile’s largest performance of the song took place on Thursday night outside Santiago’s National Stadium – which became notorious as a prison camp and torture centre after the 1973 military coup which brought Augusto Pinochet to power. An official report on human rights during the dictatorship found that almost every one of the female victims interviewed had suffered some form of sexual violence.

    Thursday’s performance brought together thousands of women, including older chilenas who lived through the dictatorship and their younger counterparts protesting today.

    “They held prisoners here, women who were harassed and sexually tortured,” said Victoria Gallardo, 71, who was participating in the event. “I cried the first time I heard Un Violador en Tu Camino. I’m so proud of the young women of today – and this performance represents us all.”

    The original performance is linked in the article. This is the incredible Santiago one.

  15. says

    BREAKING: A member of the Saudi military training at US Naval Air Station in Pensacola is the suspected shooter in Friday’s incident, according to five US defense officials and another person familiar with the investigation.”

    Three of the victims have died, and several more have been injured. The FBI has taken over the investigation.

  16. says

    19 House Republicans have announced that they will not run for re-election to Congress. Three additional Republican House members are leaving Congress to run for a state office.

    In other news, here is an excerpt from the report of Dr. Beverly Woo, a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who examined Elizabeth Warren:

    There are no medical conditions or health problems that would keep her from fulfilling the duties of the President of the United States.

    Washington Post link

    Warren takes medication for hypothyroidism, a common condition in which the thyroid gland is underactive, according to the letter. Her blood pressure is 115/57, and she has had a flu shot this year.

    Warren is 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 129 pounds. “She exercises regularly and follows a healthy diet despite her very busy schedule,” Woo wrote.

    In addition to the letter from her physician, which is similar to what most recent presidential candidates have offered, Warren also provided a hematology report including information on everything from her platelet count to the size of her red blood cells. […]

  17. tomh says

    50 members of Congress have visited a Trump property since impeachment inquiry launched, watchdog group says

    Fifty members of Congress have visited a Trump property since the beginning of the House impeachment inquiry, according to a new report by a watchdog group.

    “While Congress is charged with providing unbiased checks and balances on the president, including President Trump’s conflicts of interest related to his businesses, many members have chosen to forgo these responsibilities while enjoying the political benefits that visiting and spending money at Trump properties provides,” says the report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “That’s especially problematic now, as members of Congress are tasked with considering how to perform their constitutional duty as the impeachment process moves forward.”

    According to the group, more than 100 members of Congress have visited a Trump property since he took office. Of those, five are Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee, the panel tasked with drafting articles of impeachment.

    They include Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Louie Gohmert (Tex.) and Jim Jordan (Ohio). The campaign committees of Biggs, Gohmert and Jordan have also spent money at a Trump property, according to the group.

    By John Wagner

  18. says

    House Democrats passed a bill to restore the Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court’s Republican majority decision gutted it in 2013.

    […] Under the new setup, any state where officials have committed at least 15 voting rights violations over a 25-year period would be required to obtain preclearance for 10 years. If the state itself, rather than localities within the state, is responsible for the violations, it would take only 10 violations to place it under preclearance. In addition, any particular locality could individually be subjected to preclearance if it commits at least three violations.

    Based on this formula, the VRAA would put 11 states back under preclearance: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. While most of these states are still in the South (and also under Republican control), the list also includes the two largest Democratic-leaning states in the country, California and New York.

    Of course, with Republicans in control of the presidency and Senate, this bill won’t become law. […]


  19. says

    Wow – CNN – “Senior British diplomat in US quits with tirade over Brexit ‘half-truths'”:

    A senior British diplomat in the US has quit with a blast at the UK government over Brexit, saying she could no longer “peddle half-truths” on behalf of political leaders she did not “trust.”

    In a searing resignation letter delivered just over a week before the UK general election, Alexandra Hall Hall, the lead envoy for Brexit in the British Embassy in Washington, said that she had become increasingly dismayed by the demands placed on the British civil service to deliver messages on Brexit which were not “fully honest.”

    The reluctance of Britain’s leaders to play straight with the public on Brexit, Hall Hall said, had undermined the credibility of UK diplomats abroad. Her position had become “unbearable personally” and “untenable professionally,” she wrote in the letter, which has been obtained by CNN.

    Hall Hall’s decision to quit, and her no-holds-barred resignation letter, comes at a moment of deep political sensitivity for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is seeking re-election on the promise that he can “get Brexit done.” Johnson has been ahead in opinion polls, but, as his lead has narrowed in recent days, officials are nervous about anything that could undermine his chances of winning a parliamentary majority for his Conservative party in the election next Thursday.

    An official at the Foreign Office, who was not authorized to brief the press, confirmed that Hall Hall had resigned but had not seen her letter. A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We won’t comment on the detail of an individual’s resignation.” Downing Street referred CNN to the Foreign Office.

    In her resignation letter, addressed to deputy ambassador Michael Tatham and which Hall Hall shared widely with colleagues in the diplomatic service, she said that her departure had nothing to do with being “for or against Brexit, per se,” but instead was an expression of frustration about how the policy was being carried out.

    Hall Hall, a 33-year veteran of the UK foreign service, and a former ambassador to Georgia, said UK institutions had been undermined and the reputation of British democracy abroad had been imperiled.

    “I have been increasingly dismayed by the way in which our political leaders have tried to deliver Brexit, with reluctance to address honestly, even with our own citizens, the challenges and trade-offs which Brexit involves; the use of misleading or disingenuous arguments about the implications of the various options before us; and some behaviour towards our institutions, which, were it happening in another country, we would almost certainly as diplomats have received instructions to register our concern,” she wrote in her letter, dated December 3.

    “It makes our job to promote democracy and the rule of law that much harder, if we are not seen to be upholding these core values at home.”

    Hall Hall said she could no longer reconcile her commitment to the job with the demands made of her. “I am also at a stage in life where I would prefer to do something more rewarding with my time, than peddle half-truths on behalf of a government I do not trust,” she wrote in the letter.

    Though Hall Hall did not refer to Johnson or any other UK leader by name in her letter, she expressed concern about the divisive rhetoric that has characterized British politics since the Brexit referendum. Johnson’s comments have hardened in recent months….

    But Hall Hall made clear in her letter that she was not motivated to step down by any personal convictions over the outcome of Brexit, and that she had enthusiastically accepted the position as Brexit Counsellor at the Washington embassy in 2018. “I took this position with a sincere commitment, indeed passion, to do my part, to the very best of my abilities, to help achieve a successful outcome on Brexit,” she wrote in her resignation letter.

    As UK Brexit Counsellor, Hall Hall was tasked with explaining Britain’s approach to leaving the European Union to US lawmakers and policy makers on Capitol Hill and in the White House. She suggested that her diplomatic role — intended to be politically neutral — was co-opted to deliver messages that were “neither fully honest nor politically impartial.” Hall Hall said that she had filed a formal complaint about being asked to convey overtly partisan language on Brexit in Washington.

    Hall Hall said she was resigning now, rather than after the election, so that her decision could not be portrayed as a reaction to the result. She is expected to leave the embassy next week, and is quitting the diplomatic service completely….

    (Sorry, it’s tangential, but how is her name Hall Hall?)

  20. says

    A followup, of sorts, to comment 23.

    Republicans have embraced a strategy of trying to gaslight the nation instead of legislating.

    Republicans are trying out the old idea that if you repeat a lie enough times, it becomes conventional wisdom. From Donald Trump down to Moscow Mitch McConnell, the story they’re running with is the “do nothing” House.

    As The Washington Post notes, Trump has used the phrase six times on Twitter since Monday. McConnell has played along, complaining that in her “rushed & partisan impeachment process,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said “Not one word on the outstanding legislation the American people actually need. Nothing on the USMCA, or the NDAA, or funding for our armed forces.” That’s blatantly not true, as Pelosi has been involved in negotiations with the White House for weeks on the USMCA trade proposal. And the House appropriators—who have already completed 10 of 12 appropriations bills—have been working for weeks with Senate appropriators to complete the spending bills that will keep government running past the next deadline of Dec. 20.

    Not to mention the literally hundreds of bills the House has passed that McConnell has refused to bring to the Senate floor. That includes gun safety legislation. It includes legislation to protect the next election from malign foreign interference. It includes legislation to protect insurance coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions. It includes legislation to try to stem the acceleration of climate change. The House has been passing literally life-and-death issue bills. The Post counted up: The House has passed 542 total measures, 389 of which are bills as opposed to resolutions (such as naming post offices). The Senate in total has only passed […] just 91 bills. […]


  21. says

    MMFA – “Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing have vanished from Fox”:

    Republican attorneys Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing have been fixtures on Fox News and Fox Business for years, serving as critical figures in the networks’ pro-Trump conspiracy theories. But in recent weeks, the pair has quietly vanished from the right-wing networks.

    They have appeared on the networks, individually or together, for a total of 66 interviews* this year, and the couple made more appearances in September than they had in any prior month of 2019 as they rallied to President Donald Trump’s defense after news broke of a whistleblower complaint into his abuse of power in Ukraine. But neither has been interviewed on Fox News since diGenova’s October 8 appearance on The Ingraham Angle, and they last appeared on Fox Business for a November 13 joint appearance on Lou Dobbs Tonight, according to a Media Matters review of transcripts and our internal guest database.

    The couple’s apparent sidelining has come just when one might expect Fox shows to be most interested in hearing from them: Their absence from Fox Business has overlapped with the impeachment inquiry’s public hearings, and they have been off Fox News during both the public hearings and the release of witness depositions.

    It’s unclear exactly why diGenova and Toensing suddenly stopped going on Fox or when they might return. But the timing of their disappearance and the network’s past practices suggests that they may have been quietly banned for an indeterminate period.

    DiGenova’s last Fox News interview came just the day before the arrests of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, and amid the revelation that the Soviet-born con men had been working alongside diGenova, Toensing, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and conservative columnist John Solomon in a sprawling disinformation plot in Ukraine — a massive ethical breach for the Fox regulars. And during his most recent Fox Business appearance, diGenova issued a widely criticized rant against progressive billionaire George Soros that was steeped in disgusting anti-Semitic tropes.

    Fox has declined to comment on diGenova’s screed, even as the Anti-Defamation League and Soros’ Open Society Foundation called for the network to remove him from its airwaves.

    Toensing has maintained an active Twitter presence since she has stopped appearing on Fox News and Fox Business, regularly lashing out at journalists and media outlets over their coverage of the Ukraine scandal. On November 14, she praised the far-right One America News Network for purportedly identifying the whistleblower, asking, “Can the rest of MSM be as brave?” (Such behavior is officially banned at Fox, though multiple network figures have breached that restriction.) On December 2, she attacked Fox host Steve Hilton over his criticism of her “toxic” crew’s Ukraine plot.

    Fox’s lack of transparency and its total lack of firm standards often make it difficult to say for sure whether it has issued punishments….

  22. tomh says

    Three GOP chairmen seek information on unfounded Ukrainian effort to undermine Trump

    Three Republican Senate committee chairmen announced Friday that they are seeking records and transcribed interviews from two people who, they claim, could bolster a notion advanced by Trump that “elements of the Ukrainian government were actively working to undermine” his prospects against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

    “Contrary to the popular narrative in the ‘main stream media’ that Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election has been debunked, or ‘no evidence exists,’ there are many unanswered questions that have festered for years,” Homeland Security Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said in a statement.

    Also involved in the effort are Finance Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) and Judiciary Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.).

    In a statement, Graham said that the hacking of Democratic National Committee servers in advance of the 2016 election was done “by the Russians and no one else.” But, he added, “[w]hether there’s a connection between Democratic operatives and Ukrainian officials during the 2016 election has yet to be determined. It will only be found by looking. We intend to look.”

    Grassley agreed that “the American public also has a right to know if no wrongdoing occurred.”

    The senators are seeking to interview Alexandra Chalupa, a DNC consultant at that time, and Andrii Telizhenko, a political officer within the Ukrainian embassy at that time, among others.
    By John Wagner

    Maybe they can re-do Benghazi at the same time.

  23. says

    So I think this is in about 20 minutes – BBC – “General election 2019: Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn in TV debate”:

    Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn will go head-to-head later for the final time during the election campaign when they take part in a live BBC One debate.

    The hour-long programme, hosted by Today presenter Nick Robinson, starts at 20:30.

    It will be the last time the Tory and Labour leaders share a stage before polling day on 12 December.

    The BBC’s Iain Watson said the two men were likely to focus on core messages to try and win over undecided voters.

    Their policies on Brexit, the NHS and the economy are likely to come under scrutiny, as are issues of trust and character.

    Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn will face questions from about 100 members of the public in Maidstone, Kent, and from those who have submitted them via the BBC News website….

    I assume it will be liveblogged at the Guardian.

  24. says

    From the G liveblog (linked @ #31):

    Jeremy Corbyn gives his opening statement.

    Labour is ambitious for the country, and for you. He wants a society where everyone is supported, and looked after in old age.

    Millions of people are struggling. They need an ambitious government on their side.

    A vote for Labour is a vote for real change.

    Boris Johnson says next Thursday is a turning point.

    We can spread opportunity, and improve our services.

    But that will only happen with a Conservative govenrment. If Labour gets in there will be chaos and two referendums.

    “If Labour gets in there will be chaos.”

  25. says

    Dahlia Lithwick in Slate – “The Women Who Still Speak Up”:

    Speak “truth to power”—this is how most people standing up to the constant disinformation and bullying of the Trump administration may have once reasonably described their task. Increasingly, though, that work is being honed and refined into something a bit more complicated: speaking truth to nonsense. It’s not so much holding up a mirror so that power can see what it’s become; it’s simply the job of creating a record, for history if nothing else, of what is actually happening.

    It’s not, by any means, that the power imbalance is irrelevant anymore. If anything, the power differential between President Donald Trump and those seeking to hold him to account is more chilling than ever: Trump has pressed the entire Justice Department (including new threats of abusing its policing powers) into service to protect his interests above those of the nation, the White House counsel currently serves as his personal lawyer, the foreign service and the military are being purged of experts and patriots, and Senate Republicans have debased themselves to the point that they are openly peddling debunked Russian propaganda in his service. Congress cannot stop him, and the courts will likely be timed out in constraining him. The lopsidedness of his power is now axiomatic.

    Also axiomatic is the fact that, frequently, it is women who have come forward, in droves, to speak truth to that power, or to nonsense, or, perhaps most accurately, to the nonsense that feeds his power. From Sally Yates to E. Jean Carroll to April Ryan to Greta Thunberg to Fiona Hill to the undocumented housekeepers who used to work at his properties, it is often women who have stood up to say “No” to this president. As Sandra Diaz, one of those two undocumented cleaners, explained her decision to finally speak up even though everyone around her warned her not to: “How can you know something so big, how someone—who goes on national television and says something—and you know it’s not true … whether it’s the president or not, you have the responsibility to say no. To pass through this barrier of fear and say no.” Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch described, in real time, at a public Intelligence Committee hearing last month, what it feels like to pass through that same barrier of fear: As Trump tweeted threats at her midhearing, she was asked how she was experiencing it. “It’s very intimidating,” Yovanovitch quietly confessed to the members of the Intelligence Committee. “I can’t speak to what the president is trying to do, but I think the effect is to be intimidating.” Lisa Page similarly passed through the barrier of fear this past week, when she told the truth about Trump’s relentless attacks on her and defended her record in the face of his lies.

    On Wednesday, professor Pamela Karlan was the only woman testifying before the House Judiciary Committee’s panel on the constitutional framework for impeachment. (Disclosure: Karlan is a friend.) Her presentation was so effective and so crystal clear that House Republicans, of whom all but two were men, were too afraid to question her on history or doctrine, opting for personal threats and shouting instead….

    But everyone really agreed to melt down when Karlan referenced the name of the president’s youngest son, Barron, to make a point about the difference between monarchs and presidents. Yes, she used it in a bit of wordplay, and yes, people laughed, but, no, it was not a targeted attack on a child—it was a targeted attack on claims of monarchic powers. But let’s be honest. Whether Karlan had done a joke about the British nobility, or Ninja Turtles, or diet soda, the rage machine at the White House would have singled her out for vivisection, just as it did with Hill, who didn’t make a joke, or Yovanovitch, who also didn’t make a joke. (The hate machine largely left the male law professors alone, by the way.)… The rage machine, in coordination with the White House spokeswoman (who does not do press conferences) and Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, finds their rabid talking point and repeats it and tweets it until there’s nothing left, until absolutely no fact, or statistic, or idea, can cut through the dry-ice fog it creates. (Tucker Carlson started Wednesday night’s news show with “This lady needs a shrink” and “What a moron.”) In the end, Karlan apologized for her pun, because Republicans, who put children in freezing cages at the border and leave them to die, told her she was the one being mean to children.

    It is worth recalling that Karlan—like Fiona Hill before her, and Yovanovitch before her, and Thunberg, and Carroll, and Karen McDougal, and Christine Blasey Ford, and Debbie Ramirez, and Sandra Diaz, and Lisa Page, and all the other women who have subjected themselves to the raging Trump campaign of abuse—was simply speaking the truth. In the face of lies, imaginary conspiracies, smear campaigns, and disinformation, each was simply relating the facts as she knew them.

    The truth does not really have a place in this administration….

    Michelle Goldberg, in response to Collins’ repeated claim that “there are no set facts here,” described all this as “epistemological nihilism.” Which is why it’s all the more important to understand what these women are doing when they stride into these hearings, and into their press conferences, and into their lawsuits, to tell the truth in the face of disingenuous Republican tears about incivility and partisanship. These women all know they’re being catapulted into the epistemological wood chipper, and that, if they’re lucky, the death threats and the violence directed at them and their families will eventually subside. But this is about much more than speaking truth to power—in its own way, speaking truth to nonsense is even more important. Power is immune to truth-tellers these days, but history may not be. And women have had centuries of experience in what happens when you let the gaslighters win.

    For one last example, take a look, if you have a moment, at the utterly extraordinary amicus brief filed by 366 women in June Medical, the abortion case that will be heard at the Supreme Court in March….

    This, too, wasn’t a matter of speaking truth to power. Everyone knows there are now five votes at the Supreme Court to deny them the reproductive freedom they have enjoyed in the past, and no amount of science, doctors, or data will dislodge the power. This is, sadly but faithfully, about women telling truth to nonsense, at a time when their ability to do anything about it is slipping away. For ever increasing numbers of women, that is becoming the only power they have.

  26. says

    Kip Williams @ #38, I’m so flummoxed by the name that I honestly don’t know if you’re joking. I was about to type “LOL,” but I haven’t been able to come up with anything much more plausible.

  27. says

    Andrew Desiderio, Politico:

    MORE FRIDAY NEWS: House Intel Chairman Adam Schiff just sent this letter to VP Pence asking the admin to declassify Jennifer Williams’ supplemental testimony to impeachment investigators.

    A House Intel officials says “declassification of this supplemental testimony will allow the Congress to see further corroborative evidence as it considers articles of impeachment, and provide the public further understanding of the events in question.”

    In his letter to Pence, Schiff says Williams’ supplemental testimony is about the VP’s Sept. 18 call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

    Schiff says there’s “no legitimate basis” for this info to be classified.

  28. Pierce R. Butler says

    SC… @ # 24: …how is her name Hall Hall?

    I dunno, and a quick search showed only that it’s not a marriage-to-one-of-same-name fluke (her husband’s name is Daniel Twining).

    We can only hope a university campus or other facility will name a major hall after her.

  29. says

    Karen Attiah:

    Jamal Khashoggi is trending on Twitter in the United States.

    Saudi Arabia’s regime wants us to forget Jamal, and move on. They have failed.

    I am still amazed and inspired by how the world really has not let his name and legacy fade away, a year after his murder.


  30. says

    Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has issued a temporary (or ‘administrative’) stay of the congressional subpoenas to Deutsche Bank & Capital One for long enough to allow the full #SCOTUS to consider whether to freeze the subpoenas pending consideration of @realDonaldTrump’s appeal:

    [order atl]

    This is a pretty routine procedural move in a case like this, and comes from Ginsburg because she’s the ‘Circuit Justice’ for the Second Circuit (where this case came from). Folks should not read anything substantive into this order.”

    Through next Friday.

  31. Kip Williams says

    If I was right about the origin of the double surname, it was by sheer coincidence. I’m as flummoxed as anyone, just in a phlegmatic way that passes for calmness.

  32. says

    Stephanie Hofeller:

    Once you give it up (Dad said of discovery) don’t expect to get it back. Of course I made fucking copies before I FedEx’d #thehofellerfiles to Arnold Porter.
    Barring the unexpected (or a petulant malaise) my copies will be uploaded to [] by Monday…

  33. says

    NEW: Top Russian diplomat Sergei Lavrov to visit Washington next week in first visit since 2017 Oval Office controversy, officials say. Pompeo meeting expected. White House mum on a possible Trump meeting.”

    The visit is scheduled for Tuesday (the 10th).

  34. says

    From Maddow last night – “Report Suggests Possible Intimidation Of IRS Whistleblower”: “Rachel Maddow points out a new CNN report that the IRS whistleblower who flagged potential inappropriate efforts to influence the mandatory audit program of a president’s tax returns was informed by an official that providing taxpayer information to the Senate Finance Committee could be a violation. This is not true, according to whistleblower law, raising questions about who misinformed the whistleblower and why.”

    I recently read the new book by Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, Crime in Progress: The Secret History of the Trump-Russia Investigation. McConnell and Graham tend to get more attention, but Chuck Grassley is a straight-up villain.

  35. Pierce R. Butler says

    AP Exclusive: 629 Pakistani girls sold as brides to China

    … 629 girls and women from across Pakistan … were sold as brides to Chinese men and taken to China. The list, obtained by The Associated Press, was compiled by Pakistani investigators determined to break up trafficking networks exploiting the country’s poor and vulnerable.

    … investigators’ aggressive drive against the networks has largely ground to a halt. … because of pressure from government officials fearful of hurting Pakistan’s lucrative ties to Beijing.

    … “No one is doing anything to help these girls,” one of the officials said. “The whole racket is continuing, and it is growing. Why? Because they know they can get away with it. The authorities won’t follow through, everyone is being pressured to not investigate. Trafficking is increasing now.”

    … Pakistan’s Christian minority has become a new target of brokers who pay impoverished parents to marry off their daughters, some of them teenagers, to Chinese husbands who return with them to their homeland. Many of the brides are then isolated and abused or forced into prostitution in China, often contacting home and pleading to be brought back.

    … “The Chinese and Pakistani brokers make between 4 million and 10 million rupees ($25,000 and $65,000) from the groom, but only about 200,000 rupees ($1,500), is given to the family,” …

    … police discovered two illegal marriage bureaus in Lahore, including one operated from an Islamic center and madrassa — the first known report of poor Muslims also being targeted by brokers. The Muslim cleric involved fled police. …

  36. says

    Guardian – “India rape victim dies after being set alight on her way to court”:

    A 23-year-old rape victim who was set on fire by a gang of men, which included her alleged rapist, has died in a New Delhi hospital, the doctor treating her said.

    The woman was on her way to board a train in Unnao district of northern Uttar Pradesh state to attend a court hearing on Thursday over her rape when she was doused with kerosene and set on fire, according to police.

    The attack, the second major case of violence against women in the past two weeks, has sparked public outrage in India.

    The woman died on Friday after suffering a cardiac arrest, said Dr Shalabh Kumar, head of the burns and plastic department at New Delhi’s Safdarjung hospital. “She was having 95% burns,” he said, adding that “toxic and hot fumes” had filled her lungs.

    The woman had filed a complaint with Unnao police in March alleging she had been raped at gunpoint on 12 December 2018, police documents showed.

    Having been subsequently jailed, the alleged rapist was released last week after securing bail, police officer SK Bhagat said in Lucknow.

    Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state and has become notorious for its poor record regarding crimes against women, with more than 4,200 cases of rape reported there in 2017 – the highest in the country.

    On Friday, Indian police shot dead four men who were suspected of raping and killing a 27-year-old veterinarian near Hyderabad city. The shooting – which police claimed happened because they tried to escape – drew applause from some quarters but many were also concerned that the lack of clarity around the incident was indicative of an extrajudicial police killing.

  37. says

    Marina Hyde in the Guardian – “The Tories want to keep Johnson – and their scary manifesto – away from scrutiny”:

    …So we know we have a prime minister who needs to be kept away from the public. The Tories would really like us to view Johnson in a sort of political safari park, through which paying punters – and we’re all going to end up paying – would be encouraged to drive through at some pace. It’s best not to stop, or he’ll climb on your car and pull off your windscreen wipers, or attempt to mate with your exhaust.

    But even more worrying are those of his policies that need to be kept away from the public. Why does the Tory manifesto only go up to the end of their first notional year of a five-year term? What happens next? What if we WANT spoilers?

    This entire document rather reminds me of the 2015 Tory manifesto, which used the word “plan” 121 times, devoting a mere seven words to what would turn out to be the most significant aspect of this plan for millions of voters. Specifically: “We will find £12bn from welfare savings.” Anyway, fast forward to the present day, and page 48 of the Tory manifesto is where all the scary shit is. Voter ID, or voter suppression as it is known everywhere that has it. Which is not currently us, but Johnson wishes to import that democratic poison. Other lowlights? “We also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution, the relationship between the government, parliament and the courts; the functioning of the royal prerogative, the role of the House of Lords.” Oh. Oh dear. The Tories also promise to do something about the irksome business of judicial oversight of the government.

    Thanks to a lot of looking the wrong way (I certainly include myself in this), the best work on this has been done roots-up on social media, ably taken up by Newsnight this week. Though naturally no cabinet minister – let alone the prime minister himself, or even his dad – seems to have cared to come on the BBC programme and discuss it.

    So where does this all leave us, at election minus six days? The “senior Conservative source” suggests Johnson is focusing on priorities such as NHS investment. Is this when he goes round hospitals and nurses are dragooned into having a cup of tea with him to serve as backdrop?

    Then perhaps it’s literally going to have to fall to a nurse to ask the prime minister the things people have a right to know, because no one else is going to get a sit-down….

  38. says

    LA Times – “Editorial: We’ve seen enough. Trump should be impeached.”:

    The House of Representatives’ inquiry into President Trump’s actions on Ukraine is not yet complete, but the evidence produced over the last two months is more than sufficient to persuade us that he should be impeached. Witness after witness testified that the president held up desperately needed, congressionally approved aid to Ukraine to extort a personal political favor for himself. In so doing, Trump flagrantly abused the power of his office.

    The Times’ editorial board was a reluctant convert to the impeachment cause. We worried that impeaching Trump on essentially a party-line vote would be divisive. It is also highly likely that Trump would be — will be — acquitted by the Republican-controlled Senate, and that, rightly or wrongly, he would point to that in his reelection campaign as exoneration.

    But those concerns must yield to the overwhelming evidence that Trump perverted U.S. foreign policy for his own political gain. That sort of misconduct is outrageous and corrosive of democracy. It can’t be ignored by the House, and it merits a full trial by the Senate on whether to remove him from office.

    Holding the president accountable for gross abuse of power is the business of Congress. The House should get on with that business by writing articles of impeachment that make it clear to the Senate — and the American people — why the extraordinary remedy of impeachment is necessary. And Republicans who complain that the process is partisan could easily rectify that situation by abandoning their lockstep loyalty to Trump and looking at the facts.

  39. says

    Guardian – “Evo Morales heads to Cuba amid talk of an eventual comeback”:

    Bolivia’s recently toppled president, Evo Morales, has left Mexico for Cuba as part of what some observers suspect is the first step in a bid to stage a dramatic political comeback.

    On Friday night, less than a month after being forced into exile in Mexico, Morales flew out of the country on a plane bound for Havana.

    Mexico’s foreign relations ministry confirmed that Morales had left for Cuba on Friday, on what it called a temporary visit.

    The Mexican newspaper El Universal said official sources had confirmed Morales’ departure for the communist-run Caribbean island.

    Last month a commentator from the same newspaper, Salvador García Soto, had predicted Bolivia’s first indigenous president would relocate to another Latin American country “where he would be able to organise his resistance plan and strategy to attempt to return to Bolivia to recover power in the near future”.

    On Friday, Spain’s El País reported that Morales was also unlikely to spend much time in Cuba and instead planned to relocate to Argentina once that country’s new leftist leader, Alberto Fernández, took office next week.

    The Mexican newspaper Reforma said Morales had travelled to Cuba with his former vice president, Álvaro García Linera, and his former health minister, Gabriela Montaño. “President Evo Morales is in Cuba for a medical appointment with the Cuban medical team that treated him in Bolivia,” Montano told Reuters.

    In a recent interview with the Guardian in Mexico City, Morales hinted that his political aspirations had not ended with exile.

    “Struggle, struggle, struggle, struggle, that is where I come from,” he said.

    For now, a return to Bolivia looks highly unlikely. Morales has ruled out taking part in a fresh round of presidential elections, called as a result of suspicions of vote rigging in his favour.

    Last month the interior minister of Bolivia’s rightwing interim government vowed to jail Morales for the rest of his life for allegedly inciting anti-government protests that he claimed amounted to terrorism….

  40. says

    The 2020 census is facing cost overruns—and potentially dire security concerns

    Reuters has published a look at the problems the Census Bureau is facing in its attempt to hastily finish software and patch problems ahead of next year’s mammoth official national census. As usual, the government’s projected costs for the new systems, which will make the 2020 census the first truly digitized version, have “doubled,” to $167 million. As usual, those cost overruns come from a leadership insistence on hiring outside contracting firms rather than building the software the census needs using government workers—an especially odd move given the census’ status as a unique undertaking that cannot reasonably be approximated using off-the-shelf commercial products.

    But the most dire concerns are that the nation’s first mainly online census might not work at all. […] a large-scale system test in 2018 was both successfully hacked by unknown Russian attackers and subjected to a denial-of-service attack that the system’s primary outside security contractor was unable to properly prevent or even satisfactorily diagnose. […]

    […] the Census Bureau has tasked its own original programming team with finishing out the internal software it originally developed just in case the contracted version isn’t ready in time or goes belly-up when census time actually arrives. […]

    It is the security concerns that are most significant. Critics are raising several issues: one, that foreign attacks may render the system overloaded or nonoperational for the public or for census employees themselves. Two, that the data could be stolen. Three, and the one suggested by the successful Russian incursion into the test system: that the data could be altered, perhaps in ways that sabotage the very intent of the census. […]

    It is not unusual for megascale technology projects to have steep cost overruns. […] And it isn’t unusual to have both outside consultants and inside employees giving dire warnings about a project’s flaws to those willing to listen […]

    It’s just another thing to worry about as 2020 shapes up to be one of the more monumental years in modern American history. And yes, by monumental I mean potentially very very bad.

    From the readers comments:

    I’m certain that the Trump administration will provide us with an accurate census, and the results will no doubt describe America as it really is:

    Everyone is white.

    Everyone is straight.

    Everyone is a Christian.

    Everyone is a Republican.

    Everyone lives in red states.

    Seats in the House will be distributed appropriately, with Utah, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming getting 10-15 electoral votes each while California and New York get none, since the Census shows that no one lives there…

  41. says

    Jerry Nadler:

    Today, @HouseJudiciary released our majority staff report entitled “Constitutional Grounds for Presidential Impeachment.”

    You can read the full report here: [link atl]

    The Framers worst nightmare is what we are facing in this very moment. President Trump abused his power, betrayed our national security, and corrupted our elections, all for personal gain. The Constitution details only one remedy for this misconduct: impeachment.

  42. says

    Catherine Rampell:

    signs you may not be hiring the best attorneys
    1) they send formal legal letters in Comic Sans
    2) they sign formal legal letters with a Sharpie
    3) you aren’t paying them, but a company called “Fraud Guarantee” is
    4) they’re in prison

  43. lumipuna says

    Re self-described “country lawyer” Rudy Giuliani,

    You just know someone is a scheming big money lawyer when they assume everyone knows the difference between scheming big money lawyers and ordinary wholesome “country lawyers”.

  44. says

    Guardian – “Tories investigate three candidates over alleged antisemitism”:

    The Conservatives are investigating three parliamentary candidates over antisemitism and are facing calls to suspend them before the election.

    Sally-Ann Hart, standing in the Tory marginal seat of Hastings, shared a video with an image implying that the billionaire George Soros, who is Jewish, controls the EU, and she also liked a Nazi slogan on Facebook.

    Lee Anderson, standing for the Conservatives in Labour-held Ashfield, is an active member of Ashfield Backs Boris, a Facebook group where Soros conspiracy theories have been promoted and which includes supporters of the far-right activist Tommy Robinson.

    Richard Short, the candidate for St Helens South and Whiston, is being investigated for asking whether a Jewish journalist was more loyal to Israel than to Britain.

    Labour has called for all three candidates to be suspended and is also demanding that Boris Johnson account for his 2004 novel Seventy-Two Virgins, which it claims contains antisemitic descriptions of a Jewish character.

    Labour’s election coordinator, Andrew Gwynne, said: “As well as his own antisemitic comments, Johnson must answer for the antisemitism being promoted in his name. Boris Johnson said members who make racist comments are ‘out first bounce’. So why is he refusing to suspend these candidates?

    “Johnson has never called out and condemned antisemitic Soros narratives among his supporters. Antisemitism is clearly rife in the Conservative party from top to bottom.”

    A Conservative party spokesperson said the cases of the three candidates were being investigated.

    A statement from the party said: “Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong, and the Conservative party takes decisive action to deal with any incidents of hatred, abuse or intimidation. We are committed to stamping out the scourge of antisemitism in our society and supporting our Jewish community.

    “Our complaints process is rightly a confidential one but there are a wide range of sanctions to challenge and change behaviour, including conditions to undertake training, periods of suspension and expulsion, and these are applied on a case-by-case basis.”…

  45. says

    AP – “Official: Base shooter watched shooting videos before attack”:

    The Saudi student who fatally shot three people at a U.S. naval base in Florida hosted a dinner party earlier in the week where he and three others watched videos of mass shootings, a U.S. official told The Associated Press on Saturday.

    One of the three students who attended the dinner party videotaped outside the building while the shooting was taking place at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity after being briefed by federal authorities. Two other Saudi students watched from a car, the official said.

    The official said 10 Saudi students were being held on the base Saturday while several others were unaccounted for.

    U.S. officials had previously told the AP they were investigating possible links to terrorism.

    The student opened fire in a classroom at the base Friday morning, killing three people.

    A U.S. official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Friday identified the shooter as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly. The official also said the FBI was examining social media posts and investigating whether he acted alone or was connected to any broader group.

    The assault, which prompted a massive law enforcement response and base lockdown, ended when a sheriff’s deputy killed the attacker. Eight people were hurt in the attack, including the deputy and a second deputy who was with him.

    Earlier Friday, two U.S. officials identified the student as a second lieutenant in the Saudi Air Force, and said authorities were investigating whether the attack was terrorism-related. They spoke on condition of anonymity to disclose information that had not yet been made public.

    The shooting is the second at a U.S. naval base this week. A sailor whose submarine was docked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, opened fire on three civilian employees Wednesday, killing two before taking his own life.

    There are reports that Alshamrani was angry about US policy re Israel.

  46. says

    Olga Tokarczuk’s Nobel speech will not be broadcast on Polish state television because she might say something that will irritate the nationalist-populist government.”

    From the article linked at the link:

    Olga Tokarczuk has launched a foundation to support the work of writers and translators. The recently named winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, who will collect the award in Stockholm next week, will use part of her winnings to fund the institution.

    At a press conference launching the foundation, Tokarczuk said that it will also aim to promote Polish culture, to fight discrimination, and to support civil liberties and animal rights, reports Gazeta Wyborcza.

    The foundation will be based in Wrocław, a city with which the writer has long been associated and which made her an honorary citizen earlier this year….

  47. tomh says

    Let’s go to the circus!

    Trump: Giuliani will report to Justice Department, Congress on his investigations in Ukraine

    President Trump said his personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani planned to issue a report to the Justice Department and Congress detailing what he’d learned from his investigations in Ukraine.

    Trump claimed not to know what Giuliani was doing in Ukraine this week or what he found out while there, but he asserted that Giuliani says “he has a lot of good information.”

    “He’s going to make a report, I think to the attorney general and to Congress,” Trump told reporters Saturday outside the White House. “He says he has a lot of good information. I have not spoken to him about that information yet.”

    “I hear he has found plenty,” Trump added.

    Here come the clowns!

  48. says

    “Calls grow to stop Boris Johnson with tactical voting as race tightens”:

    A cross-party alliance of opposition politicians has launched an 11th-hour appeal to anti-Tory voters to consider switching allegiance in Thursday’s general election, amid signs that a late surge of tactical voting in a few swing seats could deprive Boris Johnson of a majority in parliament.

    The calls from senior Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP figures come as a major poll suggests Johnson’s likely majority has been cut in half in the last two weeks – from 82 a fortnight ago to just 40 with four days to polling day.

    The analysis of almost 30,000 voters, for the pro-EU Best for Britain campaign, also finds that tactical votes by as few as 40,700 people in 36 key seats could prevent Johnson from forming a majority government.

    Without a majority, Johnson is unlikely to be able to deliver the central promise of the Tory campaign – “to get Brexit done” – as he will struggle to get enough MPs’ votes. The DUP, which agreed to prop up the Tories after the 2017 general election, is now fiercely opposed to Johnson’s Brexit deal.

    The special polling analysis concludes that if tactical voting keeps the Tories out in the three dozen seats, the Conservatives would have 309 MPs, Labour 255, the SNP 49, the Lib Dems 14, Plaid Cymru three and the Greens one. To guarantee a majority, a governing party needs 325 MPs.

    Naomi Smith, Best for Britain’s chief executive, said: “This election is on a knife-edge, and, if enough Remainers hold their nose and vote for the candidate with the best chance of stopping the Tories, we’re heading for a hung Parliament and a final-say referendum.”…

    Vote tactically (and donate to the Guardian)!

  49. says

    From Senator Kamala Harris:

    Although I am no longer running for President, I will do everything in my power to defeat Donald Trump and fight for the future of our country and the best of who we are.

    In other news:

    According to Sam Greisman, a movie writer and the youngest son of Sally Field, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was having a major sad at the State Department dinner for Kennedy Center honorees.

    Pompeo asked when he would be “loved”. That’s when Linda Ronstadt replied to his question and she pulled no punches.

    From Sam Greisman:

    At the State Dept. dinner for the Kennedy Center honorees Mike Pompeo wondered aloud when he would be “loved”. Then Linda Ronstadt got up to get laurels, looked the fucker right in the eye and said “maybe when you stop enabling Donald Trump”. Icon.


  50. says

    Trump brought some killers he had pardoned to a fundraiser/Republican rally.

    […] Trump took part in a Saturday night rally in South Florida, bringing two accused war criminals on to the stage as honored guests.

    According to the Miami Herald, during his speech at Florida Republicans’ annual Statesman’s Dinner, Trump brought Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance and Maj. Matt Golsteyn in front of the crowd. Trump controversially pardoned the two—along with former Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher—last month against the recommendations of senior military leaders. Lorance was serving a 19-year prison sentence for murder after ordering soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men in 2012, killing two. Golsteyn had been charged with premeditated murder after admitting to shooting a detained, unarmed Afghan man in 2010. Golsteyn killed the prisoner off-base and buried his body, only to dig it up later, bring it back to the base, and burn it in a pit used to dispose of trash, according to the Washington Post.

    The men’s appearance at a party rally and fundraiser confirm that Trump sees political value in his interventions on behalf of soldiers who were charged by uniformed military prosecutors with the most serious crimes. After the pardons, the Daily Beast cited two sources who said they heard the president talk about how he would use the pardoned soldiers as political props in his 2020 reelection bid, with one saying they heard the president discuss “making it a big deal at the convention.”

    Trump’s full pardon of the men came after a years-long push by the men’s supporters, including Fox News personality Peter Hegseth, a former Army officer, and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a former Marine who announced he would resign from Congress after pleading guilty to improperly using campaign donations to fund a series of affairs and for a variety of personal expenses. One embarrassing transaction unearthed by prosecutors recorded Hunter buying an item of clothing at a golf pro shop while representing the spending as buying golf balls for wounded veterans. […]


    Skeevy doofuses all in the same place … members of the same scam/cult gathered to raise money from the gullible and/or the ill-informed.

  51. says

    From Wonkette:

    Meet Pete D’Abrosca! Pete D’Abrosca is a Republican running for a Congressional seat in North Carolina’s 7th district. He is also a big proponent of the white nationalist “Great Replacement” theory and an advocate of banning immigration entirely, on account of how he is sick and tired of seeing white people replaced with “peasants.” […]

    D’Abrosca has a long history of saying a lot of gross racist, anti-LGBTQ, xenophobic things, is beloved by the white nationalist site VDARE and by Ann Coulter, and in any normal timeline would be a weird fringe candidate that people cringe-laugh about for two seconds and then forget about forever. […]

    Via Angry White Men:

    On one occasion he shared an article from the racist website Breitbart about refugee resettlement. “Move refugees into upper middle class, predominantly white towns and see what happens,” he wrote. “They need to experience ‘diversity’ first hand.”

    On October 5th, D’Abrosca tweeted a short video clip depicting what appeared to be black students assaulting a white person. He captioned it with “Teaching or zoo keeping?”:[…]

    He has on several occasions mocked the LGBTQ community as “Alphabet People,” and once wrote that the “conservative movement does not belong to atheists, sodomites, or pedophiles.” In another tweet he wrote, “You didn’t take your government-mandated gender transition hormones? During Asexuality Awareness Week? Are you crazy!?”

    But now, thanks to a shift in the Overton Window brought upon us by Donald Trump and his supporters, he’s popping up on Fox News with Tucker Carlson calling his plan for a ten-year moratorium on immigration a “sane immigration policy.” […]

    As Nikki McCann Ramirez of Media Matters points out, the interview is filled with several dogwhistles to the Groyper movement. Groyper, if you do not know, is like another Pepe The Frog type thing, and there are a bunch of creepy white nationalists who call themselves Groypers as some kind of homage to said cartoon. They are also fervent followers of YouTube idiot Nick Fuentes. […]

    Like D’Abrosca, the Groypers are not only against illegal immigration, they are also against legal immigration. They also constantly talk about “demographics” and whine about how mainstream conservatives won’t let them talk about “demographics” even though they really, really want to talk about “demographics.” In case it is not clear, what they want to do is say things that are racist without consequences.

    In the interview, Carlson talks about how Conservatives are supposedly “afraid” to come out against legal immigration, and D’Abrosca explains that while older Conservatives may be afraid, young hepcats like him are not afraid to let their immigrant-hating freak flags fly, whether “Conservative, Inc.” wants them to or not. “Conservative, Inc.” is a popular term among Groypers who believe that mainstream conservatives don’t say super horrible things all the time because doing so would result in them losing money. Which is weird, given that they do say horrible things literally all of the time.

    Everything Carlson and D’Abrosca talk about in this interview is indistinguishable from the rhetoric seen on white supremacist sites like the Daily Stormer and, as Ramirez later pointed out, some notable white supremacists were pretty thrilled by the segment. […]

  52. says

    From Jennifer Rubin: “It has come to this: Ted Cruz is Putin’s stooge.”

    Sen. Ted Cruz [a Republican from Texas] has spent his entire adult life touting the West’s defeat of communism in the Cold War. In July 2014, he declared to a young conservative group, “‘Mr. Putin, give back Crimea.’ Why is it so unimaginable for President Obama to utter those words?” He continued, “We need to stand up and speak out for freedom. The words that come from the president of the United States matter. President Reagan demonstrated that. One of the saddest things is President Obama doesn’t do that.”

    In fact, in March 2014, CNN reported:

    President Barack Obama and other world leaders have decided to end Russia’s role in the group of leading industrialized nations. . . . The move to suspend Russia’s membership in the G8 is the latest direct response from major countries allied against Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
    “International law prohibits the acquisition of part or all of another state’s territory through coercion or force,” the statement said. “To do so violates the principles upon which the international system is built. We condemn the illegal referendum held in Crimea in violation of Ukraine’s constitution.

    In August of that year, Obama said, “[…] The separatists are trained by Russia, they are armed by Russia, they are funded by Russia. Russia has deliberately and repeatedly violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and the new images of Russian forces inside Ukraine make that plain for the world to see.”

    So Cruz and other Republicans, in particular […] Trump, have been lying about Obama’s stance on Ukraine for a long time. One can argue, as I did at the time, that Obama’s response should have been stronger, but he was no apologist for Russia. In that regard, Obama cannot hold a candle to Trump, who in the 2016
    regurgitated Russian talking points that “the people of Crimea, from what I’ve heard, would rather be with Russia than where they were.”

    […] Of course it is unimaginable that Trump should demand anything of Putin or demand it cease its illegal invasion and annexation of Ukraine. Trump is the one who was willing to suspend aid to Ukraine, something Putin has been trying to accomplish for years. Worse, Trump now advances the blatant lie that Ukraine meddled in our 2016 election, something our intelligence community has repeatedly repudiated.

    And as for Cruz, […] he now declares there is evidence of Ukraine interference in our election because an op-ed was written criticizing Trump’s campaign rhetoric about Ukraine. This is what Cruz is reduced to — making excuses for a president willing to stab Ukraine in the back to the utter delight of Putin.

    […] Raising doubt that others’ were responsible, as well is straight out of the Kremlin propaganda playbook. And Ted Cruz is willing to help Trump and Putin do just that. […]

    Why is it unimaginable that Cruz would stand up to Trump, to denounce cutting off financial aid to an ally fighting off Russia, to excoriate him for repeatedly inviting foreign meddling in our elections, to condemn him for suggesting Russia be let back into the Group of Seven? Because Cruz, like virtually every other Republican in Congress is a coward, is afraid of a tweet or of the Trump mob. The formerly tough-on-defense Republican Party would rather contribute to the Kremlin propaganda machine and enable Trump (Putin’s best friend) than incur the wrath of the right wing.

    The words of a U.S. president and a U.S. senator matter, and one of the saddest things is that both are willing to enable an enemy of the United States. […]

    Washington Post link

  53. gijoel says

    I don’t know where to put this, but boy-howdy someone is making a Jesus and priest simulator games.

  54. says

    Today is the House Judiciary impeachment hearing where the staff counsels will present the evidence to the committee. Begins at 9 ET (in about a half hour). Will be televised.

  55. says

    CNBC – “Amazon blames Trump for losing $10 billion JEDI cloud contract to Microsoft”:

    Amazon says President Donald Trump launched “behind-the-scenes attacks” against the company, which led to it losing out on a major contract for cloud services.

    In a heavily redacted, 103-page document made public on Monday, Amazon Web Services lays out why it’s protesting the Department of Defense’s decision to award Microsoft the JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) contract. AWS claims it didn’t win the JEDI contract, which could be worth as much as $10 billion, as a result of repeated public and private attacks against Amazon and, specifically, its CEO Jeff Bezos.

    “The question is whether the President of the United States should be allowed to use the budget of DoD to pursue his own personal and political ends,” the filing states. “DoD’s substantial and pervasive errors are hard to understand and impossible to assess separate and apart from the President’s repeatedly expressed determination to, in the words of the President himself, ‘screw Amazon.’ Basic justice requires re-evaluation of proposals and a new award decision.”

    AWS argues President Trump’s intervention was a “fundamental defect” in the procurement process that made it impossible for the agency to judge a winner “reasonably, consistently, and in a fair and equal manner.” The company cites President Trump’s track record of taking Bezos to task publicly as evidence that Trump “has made no secret of his personal dislike” for Bezos and his ownership of the Washington Post.

    Amazon and the Department of Defense were not immediately available for comment. The White House declined to comment….

  56. says

    Thanks to @RepDougCollins for the shoutout! You can listen to ‘The Report’—@lawfareblog’s podcast on the Mueller report—here: [link atl]”

    I recommend this podcast series. It was much more engrossing than I’d expected. It and several of the books I’ve read about these events (including the one by Simpson and Fritsch @ #57 above) all point to two key aspects: First, Trump has a distinct pattern and toolkit of behaviors he uses in his schemes and cover-ups. These behaviors occur again and again. Second, read removed from their immediate context and with the distance of time, Trump’s tweets and other statements are thoroughly insane.

  57. says

    CNN – “Christopher Steele told additional information about him will be made public with DOJ IG report”:

    Christopher Steele, the former British spy who compiled a controversial dossier on President Donald Trump, has been told information on him that had originally been redacted has now been declassified and will be included in the Justice Department inspector general’s report Monday, according to two people familiar with the matter.

    Steele was informed before midnight in the UK on Sunday that the additional material would be contained in the report’s final draft, according to a source close to his corporate intelligence company Orbis. Steele was not told what the new information would be and was not given an opportunity to respond before the report’s publication, the source added and a second source confirmed.

    Attorney General William Barr made the unusual decision to declassify additional information on Steele, The New York Times first reported.

    Steele spent two days meeting with representatives of the Justice Department in London to voluntarily cooperate with their probe in June this year and followed up with further conversations via Skype. Orbis also provided the inspector general with access to its internal documents and memoranda of its meetings with the FBI since the firm’s relationship with the bureau began in 2013.

    Orbis had a chance to review 50 pages of the report pertaining to Steele and his firm last week and highlighted numerous mistakes and inaccuracies, in particular with Steele’s characterization in some parts of the report as a “confidential human source” rather than as a contractor, according to material prepared by Orbis and seen by CNN.

    A person close to Orbis told CNN the decision to publish extra material in full showed a “lack of integrity” and was an “affront to natural justice.”

    “The fact that so many mistakes were identified previously gives us no confidence that this new material will be any more reliable,” the person said.

    Among the submissions to the probe by Steele is an undated letter, which the source close to the company said was drafted in August 2013, to the British government seeking permission to sign a contract with the FBI upon the bureau’s instigation for providing intelligence services….

  58. tomh says

    This is a preview of what to expect from this court on abortion cases.

    Supreme Court rejects challenge to Kentucky abortion ultrasound law
    By Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter
    Updated 10:46 AM ET, Mon December 9, 2019


    The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to a Kentucky law requiring doctors to describe ultrasound images and play fetal heartbeat sound to abortion seekers.

    Kentucky argued the law is “simple and straightforward,” calling it part of an” informed-consent process.” The law, Kentucky said, “does nothing more than require that women who are considering an abortion be provided with information that is truthful, non-misleading and relevant to their decision of whether to have an abortion.”

    The court rejected the case without comment or noted dissent by any of the justices.

    Challengers, including an abortion clinic, argued that the law forced patients to see the images even if she didn’t want to, and that it violated doctors’ First Amendment rights.

    The law had been upheld by the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals, but that ruling was on hold pending the Supreme Court appeal.

    “As a First Amendment matter, there is nothing suspect with a State’s requiring a doctor, before performing an abortion, to make truthful, non-misleading factual disclosures, relevant to informed consent, even if those disclosures relate to unborn life and have the effect of persuading the patient not to have an abortion,” the appeals court held in its ruling.

    Civil rights groups blasted the court’s decision not to take up the challenge.

    “By refusing to review the 6th Circuit’s ruling, the Supreme Court has rubber-stamped extreme political interference in the doctor-patient relationship,” said Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, senior staff attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. “This law is not only unconstitutional, but as leading medical experts and ethicists explained, deeply unethical.”

    The Kentucky denial comes as the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in the US is facing multiple challenges in lower courts.

    Later this term, the justices are set to consider a separate Louisiana law that requires doctors to obtain admitting privileges from a nearby hospital. The justices in 2016 struck down a similar law from Texas, which had led to clinic closures. The court majority said the law put an unconstitutional burden on women seeking abortion.

  59. Akira MacKenzie says

    Business Insider – Protester from the conspiracy site InfoWars interrupted the latest impeachment as soon as it began, shouting ‘Trump is innocent!’

    Owen Shroyer abruptly began shouting in the House Judiciary Committee hearing room, accusing the Democrats of committing treason and defending the president.

    “Jerry Nadler and the Democrat Party on this committee are committing treason against this country,” Shroyer yelled as he was escorted out of the room by security. “We voted for Donald Trump and they’re simply removing him because they don’t like him.”

    Oh, this guy looks like the picture of sanity.

  60. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 93

    One thing that continues to aggravate me is the reluctance to use Congress’ inherent contempt powers to have these people dragged into testify or jailed if they refuse.

    From Wikipedia:

    Under this process, the procedure for holding a person in contempt involves only the chamber concerned. Following a contempt citation, the person cited is arrested by the Sergeant-at-Arms for the House or Senate, brought to the floor of the chamber, held to answer charges by the presiding officer, and then subjected to punishment as the chamber may dictate (usually imprisonment for punishment, imprisonment for coercion, or release from the contempt citation).

    Come on, guys! They aren’t going to come in willfully no matter often you ask nicely.Take the kid gloves off already!

  61. says

    Dean Obeidallah at CNN – “Trump is trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes. It must stop.”:

    On Saturday night, President Donald Trump served up a buffet of anti-Semitic tropes during his speech before the Israeli American Council advocacy group in Florida. He played on the dangerous anti-Semitic theme of Jews having dual loyalty to the United States and another country, when he said, “They don’t love Israel enough.”

    He then invoked the slur that Jews are hyper-focused on money, telling the crowd that to protect their money they will vote for him — falsely claiming that 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren’s proposed “wealth tax” will take “100% of your wealth away.” He added, “You’re not going to vote for the wealth tax… you’re going to be my biggest supporters because you’ll be out of business in about 15 minutes.”

    And he went one step further, saying that Jewish people in the real estate business he knows “very well, you’re brutal killers. You’re not nice people at all, but you have to vote for me.”

    The condemnation of Trump’s words was swift. Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg tweeted, “It’s not even coded antisemitism. It’s not a dog whistle. He’s saying this. Out loud. To a room full of Jews.”

    Journalist Emily Tamkin tweeted that Trump’s view that, “Jews won’t vote for the candidate who wants a wealth tax because Jews are all about wealth” is “an old trope often used to justify violent discrimination.”

    And Aaron Keyak, a former head of the National Jewish Democratic Council, called Trump’s words “dangerous,” adding, “Trump’s insistence on using anti-Semitic tropes when addressing Jewish audiences is dangerous and should concern every member of the Jewish community — even Jewish Republicans.”

    But where are the Republicans denouncing Trump’s use of these anti-Semitic tropes?…

    The GOP’s silence thus far is even more concerning given the documented spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes we’ve seen over the past year….

    It’s true that Trump has trafficked in similar anti-Semitic stereotypes in the past — but failing to call them out each and every time is how these dangerous tropes became mainstream….

    Of course, Jews are not the only minority faith that Trump has targeted with his dangerous rhetoric. Trump made stoking hate of Muslims, my community, a visible part of his 2016 campaign — from stating irresponsibly that “Islam hates us” to calling for a “total and complete shutdown” on Muslims entering the United States. And even as President, Trump continued inflaming tensions by sharing in November 2017 anti-Muslim videos made by a UK-based hate group with his millions of Twitter followers.

    The words of American Presidents can inspire the good, the bad and the ugly. That’s why in the case of Trump, his inflammatory and irresponsible words about Jews — as well as Muslims and other minorities — must be challenged every time, making clear that we as a society will not allow them to become the new normal.

    And leading that charge should be members of Trump’s own political party since they have the greatest potential to sway his base. Yet as of the writing of this article, there has been no full-throated condemnation by the Republican National Committee, GOP Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or other prominent Republicans in Congress. And the longer the GOP remains silent, the more they are enabling Trump’s bigotry.

  62. says

    Update to #56 – TPM – “Trump And Pompeo Will Meet With Russia’s Foreign Minister”:

    President Donald Trump will hold a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday, the Kremlin said on Monday.

    Trump and Lavrov will meet in Washington, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told CNN.

    TPM could not independently confirm the meeting with the White House.

    Additionally, the State Department announced on Sunday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will meet with Lavrov on Tuesday “to discuss a broad range of regional and bilateral issues.”…

    Seems possible that the WH can’t confirm because Trump is getting his instructions that the meeting will take place from TV.

  63. says

    Brad Heath:




  64. says

    SC @103, OMFG. I mean, I expected Barr to do that, but actually seeing that he did just gaslight the American people AGAIN … well, it shocks me. What the hell can be done with a man so manifestly lacking in ethics? The biggest, and perhaps the most powerful, Trump Toady is William Barr.

  65. says

    At long last:

    The DOJ IG also uncovered a number of messages from pro-Trump FBI employees (in addition to issues with the FISA process): [screenshot from a footnote(!) atl]

    One FBI supervisory special agent IMed that they were “so elated with the election” and compared the election coverage to “watching a Superbowl comeback.”

    “it was just energizing to me to see …. [because] I didn’t want a criminal to be in the White House.”

    “if you hear talk of a special prosecutor… I will volunteer to work [on] the Clinton Foundation.”

    “Come January I’m going to just get a big bowl of popcorn and sit back and watch.”

  66. says


    BREAKING: ABC News can confirm that the Trump “family member” referenced in the Inspector General report who had a friendship with dossier author Chris Steele, was Ivanka. She met him in 2007 at a dinner in London when he was still working for MI6.

    Ivanka Trump invited dossier author Chris Steele to Trump Tower in New York in 2010 to discuss the possibility of the former British intelligence officer working for the Trump Organization in doing due diligence on their business interests abroad as part of his work at Orbis.

    ABC News first learned of the contacts between Ivanka Trump and Steele a year ago, but has only recently been able to view some of their communications.

    ABC News sought comment from Ivanka Trump through her attorney, but has not received a reply. Both Steele’s attorney and a representative for Steele’s firm, Orbis Business Intelligence have not given us a comment.

  67. says

    NEW: John Durham says they ‘do not agree with some of the report’s conclusions as to predication and how the FBI case was opened’.”

    That statement sure doesn’t sound pressured at all.

    In related news, “NEW: Sen. Judiciary Chairman @LindseyGrahamSC holding 4p news conference on DOJ IG report.”

  68. says

    Details concerning another addition to Trump’s swamp, and another instance of “all the best people” being dangerous.

    Throughout Donald Trump’s presidency, a wide variety of fringe figures with dubious qualifications and strange ideas have landed important jobs in the federal bureaucracy. But Frank Wuco tends to stand out.

    A couple of weeks ago, the Washington Post reported on Wuco’s role as a senior adviser at the State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance.

    A former conservative talk radio host and naval intelligence officer who suggested dropping nuclear bombs on Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks now works on arms control issues at the State Department, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the matter. […]

    Wuco works at the State Department, though some arms control advocates have questioned his suitability for the area of arms control given his past remarks.

    Wuco […] first gained notoriety as a Trump administration official two years ago, while serving as a White House senior adviser at the Department of Homeland Security. […] he had an unfortunate habit of peddling bizarre conspiracy theories, including “claims that former President Barack Obama’s memoir was ghostwritten by former anti-Vietnam War radical Bill Ayers, that former CIA director John Brennan had converted to Islam and that Attorney General Eric Holder had been a member of the Black Panthers.”

    In case this isn’t obvious, none of these theories is even remotely true.

    […] He also argued that “societies and nations for millennia have suffered greatly” for LGBTQ acceptance.

    […] Wuco also said he thought Barack Obama was a Kenyan, called House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “Nazi,” and argued that it’d be difficult for a “solid, practicing” Muslim to be a good American. […]

    in a normal administration, these kinds of revelations would prompt an inevitable resignation, but in 2019, it’s plausible that Wuco will maintain his State Department job.


  69. says

    This hurts my head … so not right:

    According to a FiveThirtyEight tally, Tom Steyer’s Democratic presidential campaign has spent $47 million on advertising, Michael Bloomberg’s presidential campaign has spent $39 million (in just a few weeks), and the rest of the party’s 2020 field combined has spent $15 million.

  70. says

    An exclusive report from Talking Points Memo:

    Hidden behind a retinue of fixers, intermediaries and opportunists lurks another figure in […] Trump’s Ukraine scandal.

    […] it wasn’t until Rudy Giuliani’s trip to Kyiv last week that observers of Ukrainian politics began buzzing about what now seems obvious: there’s another billionaire oligarch interested for his own reasons in cozying up to President Trump.

    His name is Ihor Kolomoisky, and he was once seen as the power behind the throne of President Volodymyr Zelensky. He has a lot to gain from any favor he can curry with the Trump administration: An FBI probe into his finances threatens to deprive Kolomoisky of his earnings and his freedom.

    […] There’s some indication that he began dishing the kind of bogus political dirt that Giuliani and Trump are seeking as far back as 2018. But in the murky world where Ukraine business and politics overlap, Kolomoisky has largely managed to remain on the periphery of the coverage of the Trump scandal.

    That is, at least, until Rudy waltzed back into town.

    Giuliani’s Kyiv trip last week gave away the game, according to Ukraine observers. He took a series of meetings with figures known for their close association with Kolomoisky. According to these Kolomoisky associates’ own accounts and Ukraine news reports, they fed more dirt to Giuliani, who was an eager recipient. […]

    Kolomoisky retained Bud Cummins, an American criminal defense attorney, to represent him in federal criminal investigations in the United States.

    Around the same time last year, as TPM previously reported, Cummins tried to set up a meeting between American law enforcement and a Ukrainian prosecutor who was offering information about the Bidens and supposed Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election. That information later became the basis of Trump’s pressure campaign on Ukraine. […]

    It’s not clear if Kolomoisky himself has directed any information to Giuliani. Giuliani’s appearance in Kyiv and meetings with associates of the oligarch’s, however, confirmed for many in Ukraine that Kolomoisky may be trying to use the former New York mayor for his own interests.

    Kolomoisky’s actions mirror those of Dmytro Firtash, another Ukrainian oligarch, currently fighting extradition to the U.S. from Vienna. Firtash hired two Trumpworld lawyers to help him defend himself. Those lawyers later met with Attorney General Bill Barr to discuss Firtash, and documents from Firtash’s case, including allegations against the Bidens, were shared by Giuliani on Fox News.

    In the case of Kolomoisky, Cummins forwarded a message containing the same topics to federal prosecutors in Manhattan. Later, associates of the oligarch met with Giuliani in Kyiv about similar topics. […]

    For Kolomoisky, the prospect of pleasing the White House comes with two possible benefits: shutting down the American criminal investigation of him, and getting a favorable resolution to a massive embezzlement case involving a bank he previously owned.

    Kolomoisky had a high-profile run-in with America’s mayor in May, after Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman — two recently indicted Giuliani associates — met with Kolomoisky in Israel asking for access to Zelensky. Kolomoisky says that he kicked the pair out, but it led to a public spat in which Giuliani called for Kolomoisky’s prosecution. […]

    But since then, the relationship appears to have veered back into friendly territory.

    Vadim Shulman, a former business partner of Kolomoisky’s now embroiled in a nasty, multimillion dollar legal battle against him in London and Delaware, told TPM that he believed Kolomoisky had tried to “solve the issue with the FBI by giving documents on Biden.” […]

    More at the link.

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