Lazy Saturday ReadsPosted: May 5, 2018
We’ve survived another week without Trump blowing up the planet or further sabotaging the Russia investigation. But for people in Hawaii, it it must feel like the world is on fire.
Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano continued to erupt Friday afternoon and the island suffered a series of earthquakes with the strongest registering as a 6.9 on the Richter scale, the United States Geological Survey said. Authorities confirmed that some homes were “touched by the lava flow” after more than a thousand residents were forced to flee.
A barrage of earthquakes struck the Leilani Estates region this week, and while they did not trigger a tsunami, strong shaking was felt across the region Friday, according to the National Weather Service. The largest recorded earthquake in the area struck the same region more than 40 years ago, registering as a 7.1-magnitude.
In total, Hawaii County civil defense officials ordered thousands of residents on the eastern coast of the Big Island to evacuate late Thursday and Friday as steam and red lava began emerging from a crack in the earth in the Leilani neighborhood.
Several new vents opened as the volcanic eruptions continued on Friday, the County of Hawaii Civil Defense said. Authorities warned that “first responders may not be able to come to the aid of residents who refuse to evacuate,” according to NBC News affiliate KHNL.
Read more and see dramatic photos at the link.
As we’ve seen repeatedly in the past two years, racism is alive and well in the good ol’ USA. Racism against Native Americans doesn’t get enough attention though. Here’s a shocking example from The New York Times: Native American Brothers Pulled From Campus Tour After ‘Nervous’ Mother Calls Police.
A pair of Native American brothers who had traveled seven hours to tour Colorado State University this week had their visit cut short after a parent on their tour reported them to the campus police.
The parent, a mother, became suspicious after they joined the tour in progress, telling a 911 dispatcher that their behavior and clothing stood out, according to audio from the call.
Body camera footage shows two police officers pulling the brothers aside as they descended a set of stairs. There, the officers briefly questioned the brothers, Thomas Kanewakeron Gray, 19, and Lloyd Skanahwati Gray, 17. The officers soon let the pair rejoin the tour, but by then their guide — apparently unaware that the police had been summoned — had moved on, the university said in a statement.
The teenagers returned to the admissions office and were told that nothing could be done to complete their tour, they said. Frustrated, they embarked on the long trip home to Santa Cruz, N.M.
“We drove seven hours to pretty much get the cops called on us,” Thomas said in an interview on Friday.
What was so scary for the woman who called police?
During the 911 call on Monday, the woman who called said the brothers were “definitely not” a part of the tour, describing their behavior as “odd” and their clothing as bearing “dark stuff.” She accused them of lying by not giving their names or honestly answering when she asked what they wanted to study.
What gave her the idea she was entitled to question them? And the “dark stuff?”
The shirt Thomas was wearing on the tour had an image for Cattle Decapitation, a death metal band that opposes animal cruelty, he said. Lloyd’s shirt featured the symbol of another death metal band, Archspire….
“My main choice was Denver because of the music culture there,” he said, adding that he hopes to get a doctorate in music to start his own school and become a music therapist. Lloyd, he said, plans to be a visual arts major.
The university has apologized and offered to bring the boys back for a VIP tour, but they haven’t yet decided whether to accept.
Here’s a incredible story from New Orleans. The Lens: Actors were paid to support Entergy’s power plant at New Orleans City Council meetings.
Last October, about 50 people in bright orange shirts filed into City Hall for a public hearing on Entergy’s request to build a $210 million power plant in eastern New Orleans. Their shirts read, “Clean Energy. Good Jobs. Reliable Power.”
The purpose of the hearing was to gauge community support for the power plant. But for some of those in the crowd, it was just another acting gig.
At least four of the people in orange shirts were professional actors. One actor said he recognized 10 to 15 others who work in the local film industry.
They were paid $60 each time they wore the orange shirts to meetings in October and February. Some got $200 for a “speaking role,” which required them to deliver a prewritten speech, according to interviews with the actors and screenshots of Facebook messages provided to The Lens.
“They paid us to sit through the meeting and clap every time someone said something against wind and solar power,” said Keith Keough, who heard about the opportunity through a friend.
He said he thought he was going to shoot a commercial. “I’m not political,” he said. “I needed the money for a hotel room at that point.”
They were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements and were instructed not to speak to the media or tell anyone they were being paid.
Unbelievable. Is this normal? Or is this kind of blatant dishonesty a product of Trump’s “leadership?” Read more details at The Lens. It’s a long article.
This article is from Thursday, but I’m posting it because it seems really important. CNBC: Special counsel Robert Mueller focusing sharply on links between Trump confidant Roger Stone and former campaign official Rick Gates, sources say.
Special counsel Robert Mueller is focusing intensely on alleged interactions between former top Trump campaign official Rick Gates and political operative Roger Stone, one of President Donald Trump‘s closest confidants, according to sources with direct knowledge of the matter.
Stone, a longtime advisor to Trump, is apparently one of the top subjects of the Mueller investigation into potential collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign, sources told CNBC on condition of anonymity.
The questions have been largely about what was discussed at meetings, including dinners, between Stone and Gates, before and during the campaign, said the sources, who have knowledge of the substance of the recent interviews….
The new developments indicate that Mueller’s team is interested in Stone beyond his interactions with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during the campaign….
The link between Gates and Stone goes back to their work at what had been one of the most powerful lobbying firms in Washington, which was founded by Stone along with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The special counsel’s probe has yielded two indictments against Manafort, who is accused of several crimes, including bank fraud and conspiracy against the United States.
This suggests that Gates might know what Stone was up to with coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia and that he’s shared his deep knowledge of Stone as well as Manafort with Mueller. That seems very significant.
After his crazy behavior this week, you have to wonder how long Rudy Giuliani will remain on Trump’s legal team, especially after Trump threw his old pal under the bus yesterday. A couple of stories to check out:
Reuters: Security clearance for Russia probe may be hard for Giuliani: legal experts. The problem is Giuliani’s work for foreign governments.
We learned from Rudy that Trump paid Michael Cohen back for the Stormy Daniels’ payout in monthly installments. Is it possible that despite all his real estate holdings, Trump is flat broke? David Cay Johnston, who has studied Trump for decades, think it’s possible.
DC Report: Whopper Of The Week—The Broke ‘Billionaire.’
Was Donald Trump starved for cash in fall 2016, when 62 million voters cast ballots for a candidate who told them repeatedly that he was “rich—really, really rich.”
The way that Trump “funneled” hush money to a porn actress just 11 days before the election sure makes it look that way. This would be consistent with four decades of Trump claiming vast wealth, but not being able to pay his bills as they come due.
As you read what follows keep two thoughts in mind:
First, would any billionaire need months to pay a $130,000 bill?
Second, there is not now and never has been a shred of verifiable evidence that Trump is or ever was a billionaire, a myth I first demolished using his own net worth statement prepared for a lawsuit in spring 1990.
On Giuliani’s revelations, Johnston writes:
During a rambling chat full of legal nonsense, meandering syntax and ludicrous assertions that captivated reporters and pundits, Giuliani also revealed that Trump took four months or more to pay the hush money to Stephanie Clifford, better known as the porn star Stormy Daniels. The news focused on the admission that Trump did pay the hush money, showing that the president and the White House lied earlier.
But the more significant revelation came when Giuliani said that it took Trump four months or more to pay the bill. Think of it as one of those 90-days same-as-cash deals that merchants with excess goods offer so they can generate enough immediate cash to pay their bills.
Trump lawyer Michael Cohen “funneled it [the $130,000] through a law firm and the president repaid it,” Giuliani said, speaking with Trump’s advance knowledge.
“You’re going to do a couple of checks for $130,000,” Giuliani said.
Why didn’t Trump pay with a single check, as any mere multimillionaire could be expected to do? Giuliani didn’t say, and the entertainer Hannity didn’t ask even though his show appears on Fox News.
Is that why Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen took out loans for more than three-quarters of a million dollars as it began to look like Trump could win the GOP nomination? Did Trump need Cohen’s financial help?
Just Security has an interesting piece on Trump’s legal strategy by Obama White House Counsel Bob Bauer: Nixon’s Long Shadow: Donald Trump’s Emerging Constitutional Defense Against Investigation–and Indictment.
It should never lightly be assumed that the president and his lawyers are working from the same strategic plan, but on the evidence of recent days, they may have decided on their defense against the Russia probe. Having concluded that the president will not gain by further cooperation with Mr. Mueller, they will systematically condemn the Mueller inquiry as an unconstitutional assault on the presidency and resist with an aggressive assertion of Mr. Trump’s rights and prerogatives as Executive, they are preparing to “constitutionalize” the conflict. This showdown may open formally with the president’s refusal of an interview, after which Mr. Mueller may issue a subpoena and the president may decline to comply with it.
Donald Trump would be turning the clock back to the 1970’s and taking up the battle that Nixon waged for a presidency effectively immune from the criminal justice system for as long as the incumbent holds the office. Nixon flinched. He made his case, lost, turned over the incriminating tapes, and eventually accepted the inevitable and resigned. Trump is made of different material, and unlike Nixon—a former Congressman, Senator, and Vice President, prior to his election to the presidency—he has no experience with, or understanding of, the constitutional or institutional implications of his actions. To the degree that he does, this “norm-busting” president may just not care.
The Trump legal team may feel they have no choice except to shift the ground of battle to the Congress, away from the legal process: While they face the good possibility of a Democratic House in January, they may consider the odds very much in their favor of retaining the support they need in the Senate to defend against a two-thirds vote to convict. (They may also think an impeachment in a hostile House is likely in any case on a variety of charges.) The costs to them of engaging in this legislative forum, more “political” in character, may seem far more manageable than fighting off Mr. Mueller in the courts. And the hiring of Emmet Flood, who has impeachment experience, and the departure of Mr. Cobb who appears to have counseled cooperation with the Special Prosecutor, may be a further indication of the direction of their thinking.
Head over to Politico to read the rest.
Those are my offerings for today. What stories are you following?