Lazy Caturday ReadsPosted: July 13, 2019
I’m so glad the weekend is here and perhaps Trump will go golfing and leave us alone for a couple of days. It’s been one hell of an awful week. At The New York Times Mark Landler marked his departure from the White House beat with a dramatic summary of how bad one day–Thursday–was. At least Trump dumped Alex Acosta yesterday, but his replacement may be just as bad.
At The Daily Beast, Margaret Carlson has a perceptive piece on why Trump got rid of Acosta so quickly: Why the Sexual Predator in the White House Needed to Get Rid of Acosta.
In a press conference ordered up by Trump to save his job, Acosta failed miserably. And on Friday morning, Trump perp-walked Acosta, wearing his now familiar smirk, out to face the press corps on the south lawn of the White House, to announce that Acosta had decided to tender his resignation….
We know it didn’t happen because Trump’s eyes were opened by the Miami Herald’s November 2018 investigation of Epstein’s victims, exposing anew that Acosta looked evil in the eye and saw a deal to be cut.
It definitely couldn’t be because evangelicals or Senate Republicans suddenly remembered they had a modicum of integrity before being sucked into Trump’s vortex. No, it only happened once New York prosecutors re-indicted Epstein on similar charges of recruiting young girls and paying them to come to his lair to service him.
That put the whole mess front and center again, and Trump, binge TV watcher, was forced to watch (anytime he wasn’t tuned to Fox News) replays of the Access Hollywood tape, or pictures of him with Epstein, or discussions of the lawsuit filed by a 13-year old girl against him (since dropped), or mentions of the party for two—Trump and Epstein—at Mar-a-Lago with a bevy of 28 beauties imported for the occasion. That’s not to mention the two dozen women who’ve accused Trump of sexually abusing them.
It’s rare to have a beleaguered Trump official go so quickly, rather than be Zinked, Tillersoned, or Pruitted, drip by drip. Acosta hurt himself by not doing a full Kavanaugh, complete with righteous fire and fury, instead coldly admitting nothing and excusing all, even his secret meeting with opposing counsel at a restaurant because the office wasn’t open at that hour, no less.
Trump may hope that dumping Acosta will get his sexual assault history off cable TV, but I don’t think it will happen. The Jeffrey Epstein story is still going strong and Trump’s connections to the notorious pedophile will keep on being reported.
This morning The New York Times dug up some Epstein history that will also impact Trump’s personal defense attorney Bill Barr: Jeffrey Epstein Taught at Dalton. His Behavior Was Noticed.
In the mid-1970s, students at one of New York’s most esteemed prep schools were surprised to encounter a new teacher who pushed the limits on the school’s strict dress code, wandering the halls in a fur coat, gold chains and an open shirt that exposed his chest.
The teacher, Jeffrey Epstein, would decades later face allegations that he coerced and trafficked teenagers for sex. At the Dalton School on the Upper East Side, some students saw Mr. Epstein as an unusual and unsettling figure, willing to violate the norms in his encounters with girls.
Recall that it was none other than Bill Barr’s father Donald Barr who hired Jeffrey Epstein for this teaching job, even though he didn’t even have a college degree.
Eight former students who attended the prestigious school during Mr. Epstein’s short tenure there said that his conduct with teenage girls had left an impression that had lingered for decades. One former student recalled him showing up at a party where students were drinking, while most remembered his persistent attention on the girls in hallways and classrooms.
“I can remember thinking at the time, ‘This is wrong,’” said Scott Spizer, who graduated from Dalton in 1976.
None of the female students who spoke to The New York Times in recent days remembered Mr. Epstein making unwanted physical contact with them, and he has not been accused of any crimes related to his time at the school.
But a few students said they had been discomfited by a close relationship he had with one of their female peers, a concern that had escalated so much that one of them had raised the issue then to a school administrator.
Read the rest at the NYT.
Trump is reportedly planning mass raids on immigrant communities beginning tomorrow. The NYT reports:
President Trump said nationwide raids to arrest and deport undocumented migrants would begin on Sunday in a sweep that immigration officials said could roll out over days, echoing a similar threat last month that was never carried out.
“Nothing to be secret about,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday morning, where he was asked about the plans. He called it “a major operation.”
“It starts on Sunday, and they’re going to take people out and they’re going to bring them back to their countries,” the president said. “Or they’re going to take criminals out, put them in prison, or put them in prison in the countries they came from.”
Meanwhile family separations are continuing, even though courts have ordered the administration to stop taking children from their parents. The Texas Tribune: Family separations aren’t over. As many as five kids per day are separated from their parents at the border.
More than a year after the Trump administration ended a controversial policy that led to hundreds of family separations, as many as five migrant children per day continue to be separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to federal data gathered by an immigrant advocacy group.
The data, which the American Immigration Council and other immigrant advocacy groups requested from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, shows that almost 400 children were separated from their parents between June 2018 — when the Trump administration ended its controversial zero tolerance policy — and March 2019.
That number jumped to more than 700 children by May, according to data the government provided to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is litigating the family separation crisis in federal court.
Despite the executive order that President Donald Trump signed in June 2018 to end zero tolerance — which directed immigration officials to file charges against all adults who crossed the border illegally — advocates say adult migrants continue to be separated from children for reasons that are increasingly vague and difficult to corroborate.
Read more at the link.
The New Yorker reports on a new Trump initiative: Trump Is Poised to Sign a Radical Agreement to Send Future Asylum Seekers to Guatemala.
Early next week, according to a D.H.S. official, the Trump Administration is expected to announce a major immigration deal, known as a safe-third-country agreement, with Guatemala. For weeks, there have been reports that negotiations were under way between the two countries, but, until now, none of the details were official. According to a draft of the agreement obtained by The New Yorker, asylum seekers from any country who either show up at U.S. ports of entry or are apprehended while crossing between ports of entry could be sent to seek asylum in Guatemala instead. During the past year, tens of thousands of migrants, the vast majority of them from Central America, have arrived at the U.S. border seeking asylum each month. By law, the U.S. must give them a chance to bring their claims before authorities, even though there’s currently a backlog in the immigration courts of roughly a million cases. The Trump Administration has tried a number of measures to prevent asylum seekers from entering the country—from “metering” at ports of entry to forcing people to wait in Mexico—but, in every case, international obligations held that the U.S. would eventually have to hear their asylum claims. Under this new arrangement, most of these migrants will no longer have a chance to make an asylum claim in the U.S. at all. “We’re talking about something much bigger than what the term ‘safe third country’ implies,” someone with knowledge of the deal told me. “We’re talking about a kind of transfer agreement where the U.S. can send any asylum seekers, not just Central Americans, to Guatemala.”
This is similar to the agreement that Trump made with Mexico to keep asylum seekers out of the U.S. It’s crazy.
Until very recently, the prospect of such an agreement—not just with Mexico but with any other country in Central America—seemed far-fetched. Yet last month, under the threat of steep tariffs on Mexican goods, Trump strong-armed the Mexican government into considering it. Even so, according to a former Mexican official, the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador is stalling. “They are trying to fight this,” the former official said. What’s so striking about the agreement with Guatemala, however, is that it goes even further than the terms the U.S. sought in its dealings with Mexico. “This is a whole new level,” the person with knowledge of the agreement told me. “In my read, it looks like even those who have never set foot in Guatemala can potentially be sent there.”
This is getting really scary. First concentration camps, now this.
Liz Williams Russell at CNN: Why Barry is such a scary storm. (Russell is “the director of the grant-making and programmatic activities of the Climate Justice portfolio at the Foundation for Louisiana.”)
The past, present and future of New Orleans lies with the Mississippi River. As New Orleanians brace for Tropical Storm Barry, we find ourselves on the brink of the unknown, as we are about to learn the extent to which our existing systems of controlling and managing nature will withstand the storm.
We’re now facing a new normal. When “one in 100 year” rain events happen on an increasingly annual basis, there is a fundamental issue with the ways we measure storm intensity in the context of historic weather events. As Barry picks up strength along the Gulf of Mexico, it’s a reminder that we are headed toward uncharted territory with the effects of climate change threatening every aspect of our communities.
The river has been at varying levels of flood stage since November due to the record-breaking rainfall and flooding seen across the Midwest and the winter thaw from the Rockies to the Appalachians. We’ve seen the Bonnet Carre Spillway, a flood control mechanism to manage a high Mississippi River, opened twice in one year and in two consecutive years for the first time in its almost 90-year history. Only one of a set of floodways along the river system is designed to effectively move water out into the Gulf of Mexico — the drainage and residues from 41% of the country all ends up here, speeding around and through this fertile crescent city as it moves towards open water.
This year, we face another first as we find ourselves early in the hurricane season with the Mississippi double its normal depths due to flooding and Barry set to make landfall at a midpoint of Louisiana’s coast. Water will likely be pushed up a severely swollen river system with leveed boundaries already tired from so many months in the flood fight. We are required to trust our system of flood management — necessarily believing it will endure this new test — and prepare for the storm as we reflect on how to best serve our communities.
Read the rest at CNN.
Finally, I want to share some great long reads that I’ve come across this morning. I hope you’ll check them out.
Nilanjana Roy at The New York Review: A Ferocious Heat in Delhi.
Chi Luu at JSTOR Daily: How Language and Climate Connect.
Jessica Contrera at The Washington Post: A black principal, four white teens and the ‘senior prank’ that became a hate crime.
Charles Bethea at The New Yorker: A Father, a Daughter, and the Attempt to Change the Census.
What stories are you following today?