After the release of three court filings yesterday (a sentencing recommendation for Michael Cohen from SDNY, another Cohen sentencing recommendation from Robert Mueller, and a statement from the Special Counsel of the lies from Paul Manafort that justify ending his plea agreement) the consensus of legal and political pundits is that Trump is essentially finished. How long he will continue as fake “president” is unclear, but he has been credibly accused of a crime by his own Justice Department.
I’ve gathered a number of opinion pieces that I think are very good. It’s difficult to excerpt these long pieces, so I’m just giving you the highlights. You’ll have to go to the sources for more details.
Jonathan Chait: The Department of Justice Calls Donald Trump a Felon.
Federal prosecutors released sentencing recommendations for two alleged criminals who worked closely with Donald Trump: his lawyer Michael Cohen, and campaign manager Paul Manafort. They are filled with damning details. But the most important passage by far is this, about Trump’s fixer: “Cohen himself has now admitted, with respect to both payments, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1.”
The payments in question, as the document explains, concern a payoff to two women who claimed to have affairs with Trump. The payments, according to prosecutors, were intended to influence the campaign, and thereby constituted violations of campaign finance law. They have not formally charged Trump with this crime — it is a sentencing report for Cohen, not Trump — but this is the U.S. Department of Justice calling Trump a criminal….the fact that he is being called a felon by the United States government is a historic step. And it is likely the first of more to come…..
Cohen is providing helpful information on other crimes. Cohen reportedly gave the special counsel “useful information concerning certain discrete Russia-related matters core to its investigation that he obtained by virtue of his regular contact with Company executives during them.” And this contact continued into 2018. Cohen was not locked out and probably has access to some secrets….
The special counsel sentencing recommendation for Cohen also reveals that Russian contact with the Trump campaign began as early as 2015, not the following spring. And Russians promised “political synergy” — which is essentially a synonym for campaign collusion — and “synergy on a government level.” That means a quid pro quo in which Russia would help Trump win the election and Trump, if elected, would give Russia favorable policy. This is the heart of Mueller’s very much ongoing investigation.
There are suggestions in both the Cohen filings that The Trump Organization was involved in crimes, and that is very significant. As Emptywheel pointed out recently, even if Trump were to pull a Nixon and make a deal with Pence–the presidency in return for pardons–Pence could not pardon Trump’s company.
Marcy writes that the sentencing memorandum released by Cohen’s attorneys on November 30,
…puts Trump’s eponymous organizations — his company and his foundation — squarely in the bullseye of law enforcement. The known details of all those puts one or the other Trump organization as an actor in the investigation. And we’ve already seen hints that the Trump Organization was less than responsive to some document requests from Mueller, such as this detail in a story on the Trump Tower deal:
According to a person familiar with the investigation, Cohen and the Trump Organization could not produce some of the key records upon which Mueller relies. Other witnesses provided copies of those communications.
If there’s a conspiracy to obstruct Mueller’s investigation, I’m fairly certain the Trump Organization was one of the players in it….
But the Trump Organization did not get elected the President of the United States (and while the claims are thin fictions, Trump has claimed to separate himself from the Organization and Foundation). So none of the Constitutional claims about indicting a sitting President, it seems to me, would apply.
If I’m right, there are a whole slew of implications, starting with the fact that….it utterly changes the calculation Nixon faced as the walls started crumbling. Nixon could (and had the historical wisdom to) trade a pardon to avoid an impeachment fight; he didn’t save his presidency, but he salvaged his natural person. With Trump, a pardon won’t go far enough: he may well be facing the criminal indictment and possible financial ruin of his corporate person, and that would take a far different legal arrangement (such as a settlement or Deferred Prosecution Agreement) to salvage. Now throw in Trump’s narcissism, in which his own identity is inextricably linked to that of his brand. And, even beyond any difference in temperament between Nixon and Trump, there’s no telling what he’d do if his corporate self were also cornered.
In other words, Trump might not be able to take the Nixon — resign for a pardon — deal, because that may not be enough to save his corporate personhood.
Head over to Emptywheel for more details.
Ken White (AKA Popehat) at The Atlantic: Manafort, Cohen, and Individual 1 Are in Grave Danger.
White provides a very good summary of the yesterday’s three court filings, which you can read at the link. Here’s his conclusion:
The president said on Twitter that Friday’s news “totally clears the President. Thank you!” It does not. Manafort and Cohen are in trouble, and so is Trump. The Special Counsel’s confidence in his ability to prove Manafort a liar appears justified, which leaves Manafort facing what amounts to a life sentence without any cooperation credit. The Southern District’s brief suggests that Cohen’s dreams of probation are not likely to come true. All three briefs show the Special Counsel and the Southern District closing in on President Trump and his administration. They’re looking into campaign contact with Russia, and campaign finance fraud in connection with paying off an adult actress, and participation in lying to Congress. A Democratic House of Representatives, just days away, strains at the leash to help. The game’s afoot.
Another very good summary of the filings can be read at Lawfare, this one by Victoria Clark, Mikhaila Fogel, Quinta Jurecic, and Benjamin Wittes: ‘Totally Clears the President’? What Those Cohen and Manafort Filings Really Say. Here’s a short excerpt on Trump’s culpabililty:
In short, the Department of Justice, speaking through the acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, is alleging that the president of the United States coordinated and directed a surrogate to commit a campaign finance violation punishable with time in prison. While the filing does not specify that the president “knowingly and willfully” violated the law, as is required by the statute, this is the first time that the government has alleged in its own voice that President Trump is personally involved in what it considers to be federal offenses.
And it does not hold back in describing the magnitude of those offenses. The memo states that Cohen’s actions, “struck a blow to one of the core goals of the federal campaign finance laws: transparency. While many Americans who desired a particular outcome to the election knocked on doors, toiled at phone banks, or found any number of other legal ways to make their voices heard, Cohen sought to influence the election from the shadows.” His sentence “should reflect the seriousness of Cohen’s brazen violations of the election laws and attempt to counter the public cynicism that may arise when individuals like Cohen act as if the political process belongs to the rich and powerful.”
One struggles to see how a document that alleges that such conduct took place at the direction of Individual-1 “totally clears the president.”
Garrett M. Graff at Wired: The Mueller Investigation Nears the Worst Case Scenario.
WE ARE DEEP into the worst case scenarios. But as new sentencing memos for Trump associates Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen make all too clear, the only remaining question is how bad does the actual worst case scenario get?
The potential innocent explanations for Donald Trump’s behavior over the last two years have been steadily stripped away, piece by piece. Special counsel Robert Mueller and investigative reporters have uncovered and assembled a picture of a presidential campaign and transition seemingly infected by unprecedented deceit and criminality, and in regular—almost obsequious—contact with America’s leading foreign adversary.
A year ago, Lawfare’s Benjamin Wittes and Quinta Jurecic outlined seven possible scenarios about Trump and Russia, arranged from most innocent to most guilty. Fifth on that list was “Russian Intelligence Actively Penetrated the Trump Campaign—And Trump Knew or Should Have Known,” escalating from there to #6 “Kompromat,” and topping out at the once unimaginable #7, “The President of the United States is a Russian Agent.”
After the latest disclosures, we’re steadily into Scenario #5, and can easily imagine #6.
Read a detailed analysis at the link. Graff is the author of a book on Robert Mueller’s time as FBI Director.
Another highly recommended analysis from Ryan Goodman and Andy Wright at Just Security: Mueller’s Roadmap: Major Takeaways from Cohen and Manafort Filings. Goodman and Write offer eight “takeaways.”
1. SDNY Prosecutors named the President of the United States as a direct participant, if not the principal, in felonies….
2. Other Trump Campaign and Trump Organization officials may face criminal charges for the hush money scheme….
3. The Special Counsel ties Trump directly to possible Russia collusion….
4. Russian contacts began during the GOP Primary….
5. The Special Counsel targets many Manafort lies but is silent on the infamous Trump Tower meeting with Russians….
6. Some potential hints of obstruction and suborning perjury….
7. Mueller’s M.O.: What he’ll do with lying to the public (and lies in writing)….
8. Why Cohen was more forthcoming with Mueller than SDNY, and SDNY wants him to serve a significant prison sentence.
I’ll just share one interesting excerpt from point 7, on lies that are put in writing and lies to the public. Both of these could apply to Trump himself.
In terms of perjury and false statements, Mueller seizes on fact that Cohen lies were in written testimony rather than arising “spontaneously from a line of examination or heated colloquy.” That’s a danger sign for people like Trump, who may have thought they had greater safety in written responses to Mueller, and people like Roger Stone, whose apparent lies to Congress are on the face of his written testimony.
Another important insight is how Mueller seizes on Cohen’s lies made to the public.
First, Mueller’s theory of the case recognizes that public statements are methods of communication with other witnesses. That’s important for potential conspiracies to commit perjury or otherwise obstruct justice. This also increases the likelihood that Mueller will regard public statements by President Trump and his lawyers as signals to other witnesses–such as publicly dangling pardons and favoring the “strength” of uncooperative witnesses.
Second, Mueller considers lies to the public can be an attempt to undermine the investigation. The memo states, “By publicly presenting this false narrative, the defendant deliberately shifted the timeline of what had occurred in the hopes of limiting the investigations into possible Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” That sounds awfully similar to the creation of a cover story about the June 9 Trump Tower meeting, which the President himself reportedly directed from aboard Airforce One.
Third, Mueller considers Cohen’s false statements to be even more significant because he “amplified” them by “by releasing and repeating his lies to the public.” That approach spells trouble for several Trump campaign associates including Roger Stone, Donald Trump Jr., Erik Prince, and Michael Caputo.
Barry Berke, Noah Bookbinder and Norman Eisen at The Washington Post: Is This the Beginning of the End for Trump? A brief excerpt:
The special counsel focuses on Mr. Cohen’s contacts with people connected to the White House in 2017 and 2018, possibly further implicating the president and others in his orbit in conspiracy to obstruct justice or to suborn perjury. Mr. Mueller specifically mentions that Mr. Cohen provided invaluable insight into the “preparing and circulating” of his testimony to Congress — and if others, including the president, knew about the false testimony or encouraged it in any way, they would be at substantial legal risk.
Mr. Trump’s legal woes do not end there. The special counsel also advanced the president’s potential exposure under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for activities relating to a potential Trump Tower Moscow. Mr. Mueller noted that the Moscow project was a lucrative business opportunity that actively sought Russian government approval, and that the unnamed Russian told Mr. Cohen that there was “no bigger warranty in any project than the consent” of Mr. Putin.
If recent reports that Mr. Cohen floated the idea of giving Mr. Putin a $50 million luxury apartment in a future Trump Tower Moscow prove true, both the president and his company could face substantial jeopardy.
There’s much more analysis at the WaPo link.
It has been quite a week, ending with a bang yesterday. As Trump often says, “we’ll see what happens.” What stories have you been following?
There’s been a development in the Manafort case. The jury has sent out a note with a question for the judge. Unfortunately, the question is somewhat ambiguous.
It sounds like they are saying they are deadlocked on one of the 18 counts, but it’s also possible they are saying they can’t reach a unanimous decision on any of the counts. The judge is taking a five minute recess to prepare his response. I’ll update when I learn more.
Joyce Vance responds:
More breaking news on MSNBC, a report from WNBC that Michael Cohen is in talks with the prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, and a plea deal could be reached as early as today. It’s possible that we will learn something this afternoon.
The jury is back in the courtroom. Ken Dilanian says they are probably deadlocked on only one count, and they need guidance on how to enter that into the verdict sheet. Expert on MSNBC is saying it would be highly unlikely that there would be not guilty decisions on 17 counts.
The jury has now received instruction from the judge and has returned to the jury room. Ken Dilanian says the indecision is on only one count. So maybe we’ll get a verdict today. I sure hope so.
President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen is discussing a possible guilty plea with federal prosecutors in Manhattan in connection with tax fraud and banking-related matters, multiple sources familiar with the matter tell NBC News and News 4.
Those sources stress no deal has been reached but do say the potential deal could be reached as early as Tuesday.
The plea could have significant implications for Trump, who has blasted Cohen ever since his former fixer and his attorney, old Clinton hand Lanny Davis, began signaling this summer that Cohen might cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
When reached by NBC, Davis said he cannot comment on advice of counsel since there is an ongoing investigation.
Maybe that partially explains Trump’s hysterical behavior over the past several days.
Jonathan Dienst of WNBC is now reporting on MSNBC that we should know something in an hour or so. The two sides are close, but if the deal falls through, the prosecutors will proceed to prepare charges against Cohen and indict him in the next week or two.
Some stories to check out while we wait for these breaking stories to resolve themselves:
The Hill: Paul Manafort never believed the rules applied to him; I know — I worked with him for a decade, by K. Riva Levinson.
A good plot, most writers will tell you, is built on conflict. Working for Washington’s first bipartisan lobbying firm, Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, reporting to Paul Manafort, was my conflict; what came thereafter, my self-reckoning.
I was a recent college grad, broke, with no political connections when I managed to talk my way into an interview with Manafort and told him, boldly — and naively — “There is no place I will not go.” And from 1985 to 1995 (the beginning and end of BMS&K), there was no place that Manafort wouldn’t send me: war zones, states under armed occupation, the African bush or the cocaine-trafficked jungles of Latin America.
I had a front-row seat to a world changing in fast-forward with the collapse of the Soviet Union. It was thrilling, scary and, at times, overwhelming. But I never said no to a mission, or turned back. And despite all that unfolded, I will always remain grateful to Manafort for giving me a chance to learn first-hand how world events are often shaped.
BMS&K was where my mettle was tested, my foundational skills acquired, and where I struggled with my conscience, asking myself, “What am I doing here?”
Manafort had no such concerns about right and wrong.
I saw in Manafort no evident distress about the collateral damage that unfolded, the lives that were damaged or lost. He could self-justify anything. And as time went on, it seemed to me that he became all about the money. I and my colleagues were left to defend the extravagant expenses he charged to our clients.
I watched Manafort bend the rules, and so did everyone else, until eventually the firm’s new management asked him to leave. I left him, too.
I haven’t seen nor spoken directly with Paul since 1995, though I did receive an angry email when The Guardian wrote a story upon the release of my book in June 2016, quoting a passage where I call him “mercenary.”
The Washington Post: I miss Richard Nixon, by Philip Allen Lacovara.
I am hardly a Nixon defender. I was part of the special prosecutor investigation that led to his downfall. I was and remain shocked at the extent of his crass and criminal behavior, which first became palpable to me listening to the secret Oval Office tapes that we pried away from him, eventually including the “smoking gun” tape the Supreme Court ordered him to turn over. It was that evidence that convinced Nixon’s closest supporters that his defense against impeachment and removal from office would have been unsustainable, and that he had no choice but to resign in disgrace.
I even created a rift with Leon Jaworski, Archibald Cox’s successor as Watergate special prosecutor, when I publicly protested the pardon that President Gerald Ford issued to Nixon shortly after the resignation, thereby shielding Nixon from the legal consequences that were soon to be visited upon his co-conspirators, who, after conviction, spent years in prison for the coverup.
…unlike Nixon, Trump was born with a golden spoon in his mouth and has exploited his family’s power and wealth from his earliest days. Supposed bone spurs insulated him from the crucible of military service, when many of his contemporaries were called to duty to fight in Vietnam. He relishes the flamboyant and the superficial, though the glitz comes with hefty dose of cheesiness — which I can attest to as someone who lived briefly in one of his “Trump Towers.”
Except for Trump’s own unsupported braggadocio, he entered the Oval Office ignorant of even the rudiments of American history and world affairs. He is a man of no particular political principles; his vacillation between parties (and occasionally as an “independent”) reveals the lack of any political core. Nor did he have any experience in public office, civil or military, or familiarity with the practical art of governing.
Nixon, on the other hand, grew up impoverished and was the archetypical self-made man. He was demonstrably thoughtful — even brilliant. At a conference several years ago at Duke University, where he attended law school during the Depression, I heard stories of his struggles living in a cold-water flat but achieving a distinguished record that was respected decades later.
Lacavera notes that Nixon, unlike Trump, “understood government and policy,” and he “had enough decency and respect for the office to cloak his conniving in secret.” Nixon also had a consistent political philosophy, while Trump clearly has no moral or political core. Read more at the WaPo.
Now for a change of pace, I want to share a couple of nonpolitical reads. This spring the sensational serial rape and murder case of the so-called “golden state killer” was solved through research on an open source DNA website. The suspect was identified as Joseph James DeAngelo of Citrus Heights, CA, a suburb of Sacramento. In the past few days, I came across two similar stories.
Novelist Matthew Sullivan writes at The Daily Beast: I Grew Up in the Shadow of a Neighborhood Killer. He May Have Finally Been Caught.
To anyone living in the suburban boomtown of Aurora, Colorado in the 1980s, the horror story is familiar: at some point after midnight on the night on January 16, 1984, on a quiet cul-de-sac in a newer housing development near the Aurora Mall, an intruder armed with a hammer entered the home of Bruce and Debra Bennett.
They were a young couple with two young daughters, aged 7 and 3, and they had recently moved to Aurora to raise their girls after the 27-year-old Bruce wrapped up a stint in the Navy.
As of now there’s no way to know the exact sequence of events that happened in the house that night, but the whole family was likely asleep when the intruder slipped in.
Using the hammer he brought with him and a knife he may have taken from their kitchen, the intruder attacked Bruce and Debra. Bruce fought back, grappling with the man in the bedroom and up and down the stairs, but the man overcame him, slit his throat and left him on the steps to die.
By the time the man left, he had also violently attacked and sexually assaulted both Bennett daughters.
The three older Bennetts were dead. The intruder had bludgeoned the three-year-old daughter and left her for dead as well, but according to Kirk Mitchell, who has spent years reporting on this case for the Denver Post, when her grandmother arrived the next morning, worried because Bruce hadn’t shown up for work, she found the youngster in her bed, barely alive. The littlest Bennett had survived.
There had been similar attacks and murders in the area. The crimes cast a shadow over the entire community; but the killer that kids in the neighborhood called “The Hammer Man” was never caught. Sullivan’s descriptions of how the crimes affected him and the community as a whole is fascinating. But now a suspect has been identified through DNA.
One afternoon in early August, 2018, my phone began to erupt with messages from friends and family, co-workers and classmates, all of them living in Denver. Each said the same thing:
They got him.
They got him.
They got him! [….]
Each night, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation runs a comparison against the Combined DNA Index System database (CODIS), run by the FBI, which collects and indexes DNA from different states and agencies.
In early July of this year, the agency got a hit: a match was found between the DNA of the wanted John Doe suspect—the unknown man whose semen was traced to both the Bennett and the Smith crime scenes—and that of a 57-year-old prisoner in Nevada whose cheek was swabbed in 2013 as part of a new state law, his data uploaded.
The man, Alexander C. Ewing, was serving a 40-year sentence for two counts of attempted murder and other crimes and was eligible for parole in three years. According to a Washington Post report, he lived in Denver in 1984—and worked in construction.
One more story from The Washington Post: A baby was abandoned in a phone booth 64 years ago. Now, DNA has helped explain why.
Steve Dennis’s birth certificate didn’t say where he was born or when, or to whom. It just said he was found in a telephone booth.
Two bread deliverymen had found him there early one January morning in 1954, back when Dennis didn’t yet have a name. They found the “big blue-eyed infant” wrapped in blankets inside a cardboard box in the phone booth just outside Yielky’s Drive-In near Lancaster, Ohio, the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette reported at the time. There was no telling how long he had been there, perhaps only a few hours. The baby was very cold to the touch, the paper reported, and so was the bottle of milk left with him in the box.
The mystery soon captivated the residents of Lancaster. In just two days, dozens inquired about adoption, and “literally scores of persons” tried to help police identify the baby abandoned in the phone booth, the Eagle-Gazette reported in 1954. Nobody knew who put him there or why, and for a long time in the decades that followed, Dennis didn’t know either.
For years, the whole story struck him as too bizarre to even be true, as he told the Eagle-Gazette’s Spencer Remoquillo in a follow-up story 64 years later, on Friday. Dennis had always known he was adopted as a baby, but he didn’t learn about the phone booth until he was a teenager. He got curious. He traveled all the way to Lancaster just to see it for himself. But he didn’t find very much there, he told the Eagle-Gazette. He didn’t think he would ever find his birth parents, and for most of his life he didn’t think anything of it, either.
But that changed when his two children, 18 and 14 years old, started asking questions.
Dennis solved the mystery of his origins through Ancestry DNA. Read the rest at the WaPo. It’s quite a story.
So . . . what stories have you been following?
Sunday Reads: Please @UNHumanRights investigate US for the inhumane treatment of children…missing, abused and imprisoned at the border…Posted: May 27, 2018
I used the word US, for both the Country… the “U.S.” and the “us”…as in we people…this thing we call ourselves. Americans.
What a disgrace!
Thank you Kamala. For giving a voice to these lost and abused and imprisoned children. Because the silence around you is deafening.
From this Mashable link: We’ve become normalized to Trump’s tweets. Not this one.
Nowadays, it takes a lot for Americans to become incensed about Trump’s tweets. We need at least one World War threat or nuclear weapon tangent to wake up and realize we’re seconds away from doomsday.
The President still has that magical ability to completely eviscerate our joy. Take Saturday’s tweet, where Trump — in one of his worst lies yet — had the audacity to complain that Democrats were responsible for separating parents from their children at the border.
This is the tweet of which they speak:
That is an outright lie.
The Mashable article also points to this tweet by Amee Vanderpool:
This is a letter written to the Human Rights Branch of the UN, by the CEO of RINJ…an organization that:
…RINJ Women as a Civil Society Organization seek sustainable human development from a position of perceived feminine helplessness rudely imposed on women by a patriarch to which women traditionally acquiesced.So yes, we rise up above the misconception of weakness to love & support women and children, especially the most vulnerable. While we strive for all our rights we encourage others to joinus.
I am glad that this non-profit group is bringing this latest tRump administration atrocity to the attention of the UN. I just wish that there was some of those with more, and I am going to say it, power to move the UN to investigate the human rights crisis going on at our southern border. Where are the outcries and official demands for an investigation into human rights abuses from say, important Democrat congress people? Foreign policy wonks? Other nations? (As I write this, there has not been any commentary…btw, aside from Kamala Harris.)
(Well, I am calling for an investigation myself…)
Twitter has been busy, from the Mashable link up top:
Now, social media is asking: #WhereAreTheChildren? The hashtag was a constant presence on Twitter all day on Saturday as people demanded answers on the missing children.
That tweet there cites something of interest.
Take a look at this: How the Court works –International Criminal Court
The Court’s founding treaty, called the Rome Statute, grants the ICC jurisdiction over four main crimes.
First, the crime of genocide is characterised by the specific intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group by killing its members or by other means: causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; or forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
There is also this:
Second, the ICC can prosecute crimes against humanity, which are serious violations committed as part of a large-scale attack against any civilian population. The 15 forms of crimes against humanity listed in the Rome Statute include offences such as murder, rape, imprisonment, enforced disappearances, enslavement – particularly of women and children, sexual slavery, torture, apartheid and deportation.
The two other crimes the court can prosecute, war crimes and crimes of aggression can be found at the link above. I am mostly concerned with the first two. Genocide and crimes against humanity:
Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group-
Imprisonment, enforced disappearances, enslavement – particularly of women and children, sexual slavery…deportation-
Federal officials lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children last year after a government agency placed the minors in the homes of adult sponsors in communities across the country, according to testimony before a Senate subcommittee Thursday.
The Health and Human Services Department has a limited budget to track the welfare of vulnerable unaccompanied minors, and realized that 1,475 children could not be found after making follow-up calls to check on their safety, an agency official said.
Federal officials came under fire two years ago after rolling back child protection policies meant for minors fleeing violence in Central America. In a follow-up hearing on Thursday, senators said that the agencies had failed to take full responsibility for their care and had delayed crucial reforms needed to keep them from falling into the hands of human traffickers.
A few more examples to prove that tRump and his Administration, as well as anyone who does not officially speak out against this is complicit in crimes against humanity:
Migrant children under the care of United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) were allegedly beaten, threatened with sexual violence and repeatedly assaulted while in custody between 2009 and 2014, according to a report released Wednesday from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School.
Based on 30,000 pages of documents obtained through a records request, the report includes gruesome, detailed accusations of physical and mental abuse at the hands of officers. The claims were filed by unaccompanied minors, most of whom hailed from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras. CBP officials have contested large swaths of the report, telling Newsweek that many of the allegations have been investigated and are “false.”
Border authorities were accused of kicking a child in the ribs and forcing a 16-year-old girl to “spread her legs” for an aggressive body search. Other children accused officers of punching a child in the head three times, running over a 17-year-old boy and denying medical care to a pregnant teen, who later had a stillbirth.
Mitra Ebadolahi, ACLU Border Litigation Project staff attorney, said the allegations describe a law enforcement system “marked by brutality and lawlessness.” The organization also accused Border Protection officials of failing to “meaningfully investigate” the allegations detailed in the public records.
I know this is a repeat…but follow this thread:
And don’t forget that ICE has requested to destroy the complaints of sexual abuse since last year:
Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently asked the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA), which instructs federal agencies on how to maintain records, to approve its timetable for retaining or destroying records related to its detention operations. This may seem like a run-of-the-mill government request for record-keeping efficiency. It isn’t. An entire paper trail for a system rife with human rights and constitutional abuses is at stake.
The reports obtained by The Intercept include 1,224 complaints filed between 2010 and September 2017, primarily about incidents that took place in ICE custody. But in earlier responses, officials with the DHS Office of Inspector General indicated that the office received some 33,000 complaints between 2010 and 2016 alleging a wide range of abuses in immigration detention. The OIG provided records documenting investigations for just 2 percent of the complaints it shared with The Intercept.
But the sheer number of complaints — despite serious obstacles in the path of those filing them, as well as the patterns they reveal about mistreatment in facilities nationwide — suggest that sexual assault and harassment in immigration detention are not only widespread but systemic, and enabled by an agency that regularly fails to hold itself accountable. While the reports obtained by The Intercept are only a fraction of those filed, they shed light on a system that operates largely in secrecy, and they help hint at the magnitude of the abuse, and the incompetence and complicity of the agency tasked with the safety of the 40,000 women, men, and children it detains each day in more than 200 jails, prisons, and detention centers across the country.
Not sure if they are actually destroying the complaints….The New ICE Age: An Agency Unleashed | by Tina Vasquez | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
More stories of ICE’s growing powers and abuses continue to emerge. This includes ICE’s push to become an intelligence agency, which would grant the agency unprecedented access to vastly more information, and it request to destroy records of in-custody deaths and sexual assaults—both of which measures have received support from the Trump administration. There are growing signs that the agency is not just flexing its new muscles, but has gone rogue. In Philadelphia alone, according to reporting by ProPublica, there have been numerous allegations of ICE agents’ engaging in racial profiling, conducting warrantless searches, detaining people without probable cause, fabricating evidence, and, in one instance, soliciting a bribe.
The former senior DHS official I spoke with said his “overarching fear” is that, with Trump’s help, ICE is laying the groundwork for institutionalizing its independence, making it immune from Washington oversight: in essence, each ICE field office would operate as its own district with its own rules. If ICE acquires that sort of autonomy and power, it will be incredibly difficult to restore oversight, control, and accountability to the elected federal government in Washington, D.C.
“The American public needs to begin wrapping its head around the disproportionate political power that ICE wields,” said the former DHS official. “The most extreme environment isn’t extreme enough for them. Under Trump, ICE can do more damage than we’ve ever seen.”
The best thing would be for you to read that entire New York Book Review article…by Tina Vasquez. There is a lot of information there, from the immigrants point of view. Please take a look and read it.
I think that covers many of the crimes the ICC can prosecute…I would like to see some investigations into the Trump Administration…for crimes against humanity…and human rights abuses. It is too disgusting to go on with the post, the rest of today’s thread is cartoons.
That disgusting uh…disrespectful treatment of the US Flag are a men’s bathing suit found at my local Walmart.
Finally, I want to end with this,
MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace, said President Donald Trump’s lies are getting out of control and they are more like “fairy tales and fantasy” at this point.
On Friday afternoon, Wallace began catching up with Trump’s latest early morning tweet storm, reading them to her panel and viewers at home.
“It started with Donald Trump making up about the FBI spies implanted in his campaign,” Wallace said. “It exploded to the point where the Justice Department had to brief lawmakers about what actually happened. And finally today, after those classified meetings where the only public statements we’ve heard have shot down the original allegation, the conspiracy theory seems to have been largely debunked for everyone but Donald Trump and his allies.”
Wallace then read off President Trump’s tweets about Russia.
You can go to the link to read the lying sack of shit’s tweets.
However, before she could finish reading the tweets, Wallace paused and said: “I’m not reading anymore of this, these are bold face lies.”
I wish more media people would do exactly what she did.
This is an open thread.
The pressure is building on Trump. This morning he had a major meltdown on Fox and Friends. It was so bad that the hosts couldn’t hide their embarrassment and they finally had to cut off the call. Trump publicly accused James Comey and Andrew McCabe of committing crimes and for the first time he said the words “Stormy Daniels” and admitted that Michael Cohen was representing him (Trump) in Cohen’s dealings with Daniels. He also admitted that he spent the night in Moscow in 2013, despite what he told Comey. Finally, he said that he wasn’t going to keep his hands off the DOJ much longer.
President Trump called into his favorite morning show for a wide-ranging interview during which an animated — and, at times, angry — Trump weighed in on several scandals swirling around his administration. Chief among them: special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia.
The president chastised the Justice Department for greenlighting the Russia probe into his campaign’s alleged ties with Russia rather than pursuing a separate investigation into former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
“Our Justice Department, which I try and stay away from, but at some point, I won’t, our Justice Department should be looking at that kind of stuff, not the nonsense of collusion with Russia,” Trump said. “There is no collusion with me with Russia and everyone knows it.”
Asked about the extent to which Cohen handles his legal affairs, Trump characterized his involvement as “a tiny, tiny little fraction.” But there was a notable exception.
“He represents me like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal,” Trump said, marking the first time he had ever spoken the porn actress’ name publicly. The disclosure also raised further questions about his earlier assertion that he had no knowledge that Cohen paid the porn actress $130,000 in hush money during the 2016 presidential campaign.
“He leaked classified information to get a special counsel and leaked the memos which are classified — the memos were about me and he didn’t write those memos accurately. He wrote a lot of phony stuff,” Trump said as the Fox & Friends hosts looked on in silence. “For instance, I went to Russia for a day or so, a day or two, because I own the Miss Universe pageant, so I went there to watch it because it was near Moscow. So I go to Russia, now, I didn’t go there, everybody knows the logs are there the planes are there. He said I didn’t stay there a night. Of course I stayed there. I stayed there a very short period of time but of course I stayed there. Well his memo said I left immediately, I never said that. I never said I left immediately.”Trump also said of Comey: “I did a great thing for the American people by firing him.”
Here’s his rant on McCabe.
I hope McCabe’s lawyer was listening, because I think he has a case for defamation.
First, Trump claimed that Cohen — his longtime personal lawyer and fixer — only represented him in “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his overall legal work….
Trump’s comments come a day after a lawyer representing him told a federal judge that Trump himself “is ready to help recommend what materials seized from his personal attorney that relate to him should be withheld from federal investigators because of attorney-client privilege,” according to the Associated Press.
The day after the raid on his longtime personal attorney, Trump suggested that it shouldn’t even have happened because of attorney-client privilege.
But Trump’s claim that Cohen only deals with “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work will likely complicate his lawyers’ efforts to shield seized documents from federal investigators in prosecutors.
Trump acknowledged during the Fox & Friends interview that Cohen did represent him during his dealings with Daniels. Trump recently claimed he had no knowledge of the payment at the time.
“Michael would represent me and represent me on some things,” Trump said. “He represented me like with this crazy Stormy Daniels deal, he represented me. He represented me and you know, from what I see he did absolutely nothing wrong.”
But Cohen’s story about the secret Daniels hush payment — which may have been illegal if it was meant to help Trump’s campaign — is that he made it from his personal funds, without Trump being looped in at all. Trump’s acknowledgement that Cohen “represented me” in the “crazy Stormy Daniels deal” undermines the repeated public claims of his own lawyer.
Read more details at the link above. Also see this piece at The Guardian: Trump admits Michael Cohen was his lawyer in Stormy Daniels matter.
You can watch a long clip from the interview at this Business Insider link. If you can’t stand to listen to Trump’s voice, at least watch it with the sound muted to see the embarrassed looks on the faces of the Fox hosts.
Here’s what Trump whisperer Maggie Haberman had to say about Trump’s meltdown.
And here we go. The government’s attorneys quoted Trump’s Fox and Friends rant in their filing for the court hearing in the Michael Cohen case today at noon.
Click on that link to read the entire document.
One more related story from The New York Times: Michael Cohen to Take Fifth Amendment in Stormy Daniels Lawsuit.
Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, will invoke his Fifth Amendment right in a lawsuit filed against the president by Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film star better known as Stormy Daniels.
Mr. Cohen’s decision, disclosed Wednesday in a court filing in California, where the suit was filed, came a day before a federal judge in Manhattan was set to hold a hearing regarding materials seized from Mr. Cohen during an F.B.I. raid earlier this month.
Mr. Cohen cited the Manhattan investigation in his filing on Wednesday, saying that, if called as a witness in Ms. Clifford’s lawsuit, “I will assert my 5th Amendment rights in connection with all proceedings in this case due to the ongoing criminal investigation by the F.B.I. and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.” [….]
Citing the Fifth Amendment in the Clifford case allows Mr. Cohen to avoid being deposed and revealing sensitive information in the more important criminal investigation.
In Trump “I know the best people” news, The White House has withdrawn the nomination of Ronny Jackson to run the VA. The Washington Post:
The White House withdrew the nomination of Dr. Ronny L. Jackson, the White House physician, to lead the Veterans Affairs Department on Thursday after lawmakers went public with a torrent of accusations leveled against him by nearly two dozen current and former colleagues from the White House medical staff.
In a statement released Thursday morning, Dr. Jackson announced that he was withdrawing his name for consideration to be the secretary of Veteran Affairs.
“Unfortunately, because of how Washington works, these false allegations have become a distraction for this president and the important issue we must be addressing — how we give the best care to our nation’s heroes,” Dr. Jackson said in a statement provided by the White House press office.
He said that the charges against him were “completely false and fabricated.”
Within minutes of the withdrawal, President Trump lamented the loss of his nomination, and said that Senator Jon Tester of Montana, the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, would “have a big price to pay” for undercutting Dr. Jackson.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt will face a double whammy of hearings on Capitol Hill Thursday that could make or break his career at the EPA. You can watch the C-SPAN livestream here.
The hearings were originally intended to give Pruitt the chance to pitch his agency’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. But members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Appropriations Committee, including some Republicans, are expected to grill Pruitt over his growing list of alleged ethical lapses.
A tsunami of accusations of improper dealings has emerged since Pruitt’s last trip to the Hill in January, from using sirens to get to dinner reservations to a sweetheart condo deal with a lobbyist to ousting staffers who questioned his luxury travel. These allegations have led to investigations from Congress, the White House, and government watchdogs. The Government Accountability Office already found that the $43,000 phone booth in Pruitt’s office broke the law.
And though his prepared statement for the Energy and Commerce Committee completely ignores the controversies around him, the New York Times reported that Pruitt is preparing for a confrontation with a set of talking points on his long list of scandals. He will argue, among other things, that he flew first class based on recommendations from his security staff and that he wasn’t involved in the decision to bypass the White House to get massive raises for two close aides.NB
Meanwhile, EPA employees protested outside the agency’s headquarters on Wednesday, decrying budget cuts alongside activists and lawmakers who want to “Boot Pruitt” out of office.
NBC News’ First Read suggests that Trump’s biggest problem might be the competency question.
This morning, President Trump’s pick to head the Department of Veterans Affairs withdrew his nomination after new allegations against him surfaced. Today, Congress is expected to grillthe president’s EPA administrator over alleged ethical lapses. And the president’s personal lawyer and fixer is pleading the Fifth Amendment.Yes, it’s chaos and controversy, which we’ve constantly chronicled here. But it’s also a matter of competency. According to this month’s NBC/WSJ poll, a majority of Americans — 56 percent — said that Trump’s administration isn’t competent, including 39 percent who said it isn’t competent at all. By contrast, 43 percent said it was competent, including 16 percent who said “very competent.”
To put those numbers into perspective, 50 percent of American said Barack Obama’s administration was competent in June 2014 (so after the Obamacare website crash during his second term), and 53 percent said George W. Bush’s administration was competent in March 2006 (after Hurricane Katrina).
So for all the potential dangers to Trump’s presidency — the Russia investigation, historically low approval ratings, Democrats possibly winning the House (and Senate) in November — the biggest could very well be the competency question.
Indeed, majorities of women (61 percent), seniors (58 percent), millennials (57 percent), independents (57 percent) and men (51 percent) said the Trump administration wasn’t too competent or not competent at all. Even whites were split down the middle — 50-50.
That’s a big problem.
That’s all I have for you this morning. I know I’ve only touched on a small part of what’s happening. So . . . what stories are you following today?
Good Afternoon, Sky Dancers.
It’s another heartbreaking day in Trump world, in the GOP-controlled USA, where the ability to buy semi-automatic rifles is more important than the health and safety of our children. Why is that? Because the Republican Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of the NRA. And Russia: let’s not forget that Russia is in bed with the NRA too.
It was recently revealed that the FBI is investigating the National Rifle Association to determine whether a Russian central banker, and Putin ally, illegally funneled money through the organization to help the Trump campaign.
These allegations have now prompted a complaint to the Federal Election Commission and an effort by Sen. Ron Wyden to obtain documents from the Treasury Department and the NRA. As shocking as other Russia-related revelations have been — attempts to hack voting machines, vast Internet propaganda, leaking of stolen campaign information — this allegation illustrates a problem of even broader scope. For legal consultation, contact Maryland birth injury lawyers.
Although much of the reporting on Russia has focused on whether there was “collusion” with the Trump campaign — a genuine concern — the investigation is also revealing another disquieting reality: that American democracy has a money laundering problem. On other law related article about accidents and injuries just visit Call 1800-Car-Wreck in Ft Worth, TX.
Both in their personal finances and in their campaign support, politicians are relying on money hidden to the public, money which threatens to make them answerable to interests beyond those of the citizens they represent. The only way to combat this problem is to start shining a light on the dark corners of our politics….
Moreover, in the case of the NRA, the FBI is now investigating whether illicit funds were spent in support of Trump’s political campaign. Wehave long warned that our broken system of campaign finance disclosure creates opportunities for foreign governments to illegally influence American elections, undetected.
The NRA is among the largest “dark money” organizations, reporting the greatest amount of campaign spending without revealing the source of the funds — over $35 million in the 2016 election cycle alone. Still, this amount was just a fraction of the over $175 million in reportedcampaign-related spending that came from unknown sources.
Could this explain why some Republicans who have spoken out against Trump (e.g., Lindsey Graham and Bob Corker) have suddenly switched to sucking up? Are they being blackmailed by Trump, the NRA, or Russia?
Here’s another article on the NRA and Russia by Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone: The Trump-Russia-NRA Connection: Here’s What You Need to Know.
The National Rifle Association spent tens of millions of dollars backing Trump’s presidential bid in 2016. The NRA endorsed Trump in May 2016. And the NRA disclosed it spent at least $30 million on Trump’s behalf and attacking Hillary Clinton. That level of support is unprecedented – more than twice what the NRA disclosed it spent on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential run.
The true sum the NRA spent to install Trump in the White House may be far higher. Campaign finance disclosures do not cover spending on unregulated Internet advertising or voter mobilization; citing two sources close to the gun group, McClatchy suggests the NRA may have spent upwards of $70 million on Trump’s presidential bid.
President Trump is clearly indebted: “You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you,” Trump promised the NRA at its 2017 convention. “I will never, ever let you down.” [….]
In the age of Citizens United and unlimited campaign donations, the NRA has emerged as an important “dark money” hub in Republican politics. Under its tax code designation, the NRA is a “social welfare” organization, largely exempt from disclosing its donors. To skirt disclosure, other big-dollar political players – including a SuperPAC linked to Karl Rove and a “chamber of commerce” controlled by the Koch Brothers – have routinely steered money into the NRA, confident that the gun group’s spending will advance the GOP cause.
It is illegal, however, for foreign money to be used to influence U.S. elections. According to McClatchy, the heart of the FBI investigation is whether the NRA became a conduit for Russian cash, linked to the Kremlin, that bolstered Trump.
Trump was the perfect candidate for Russia and the NRA, because he has no moral values whatsoever. He’s the culmination of the GOP sellout that began with the Southern strategy, grew with the acceptance of evangelical “christian” “values,” and reached peak evil by bowing down to Russia in 2016. There’s no hope for our country as long as Republicans remain in control of the government. We will continue to see mass shootings on an almost daily basis until we can get turn these NRA/Russia-controlled automatons out of office.
How many more times will we have to see scenes of children running for their lives and sobbing in their parents’ arms on our TV and computer screens? Writing about yesterday’s disaster in Parkland, Florida feels nearly unbearable; but I guess I at least have to post some articles about it. So here we go.
The New York Times: Death Toll Is at 17 and Could Rise in Shooting.
PARKLAND, Fla. — A heavily armed young man barged into his former high school about an hour northwest of Miami on Wednesday, opening fire on terrified students and teachers and leaving a death toll of 17 that could rise even higher, the authorities said.
Students huddled in horror in their classrooms, with some of them training their cellphones on the carnage, capturing sprawled bodies, screams and gunfire that began with a few shots and then continued with more and more. The dead included students and adults, some of whom were shot outside the school and others inside the sprawling three-story building.
The gunman, armed with a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle, was identified as Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old who had been expelled from the school, the authorities said. He began his shooting rampage outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in this suburban neighborhood shortly before dismissal time around 2:40 p.m. He then made his way inside and proceeded down hallways he knew well, firing at students and teachers who were scurrying for cover, the authorities said.
By the end of the rampage, Mr. Cruz had killed 12 people inside the school and three outside it, including someone standing on a street corner, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said. Two more victims died of their injuries in local hospitals. The aftermath at the school was an eerie shrine, with chairs upended, a computer screen shattered with bullet holes and floors stained with blood.
On Thursday, the authorities charged Mr. Cruz with 17 counts of premeditated murder.
“This is catastrophic,” said Sheriff Israel, who has three children who graduated from the high school. “There really are no words.”
Here are some words: let’s clean house of the blood-soaked Republicans who care more about their blood money than about democracy or our children’s lives. Then let’s pass some intelligent gun control laws so we don’t have to have any more bloody massacres in our children’s schools.
John Cassidy at The New Yorker: America’s Failure to Protect Its Children from School Shootings Is a National Disgrace. Following a summary of the events of the mass shooting, Cassidy writes:
On Twitter, President Donald Trump offered his “prayers and condolences to the families of the victims,” adding that “no child, teacher, or anyone else should ever feel unsafe in an American school.” Fox News interviewed Marco Rubio, Florida’s junior senator, who has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association. “I hope people reserve judgment…. The facts of this are important,” Rubio said. As soon as the facts are clear, Rubio went on, “we can have a deeper conversation about why these things happen.” The forty-six-year-old Republican added, “It’s a terrible situation. It’s amazing the amount of carnage that one individual can carry out in such a short period of time.”
Yet some pertinent facts are already known. According to local police, Cruz was armed with an AR-15 assault-style rifle—the same type of gun that Adam Lanza used to kill twenty-six pupils and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in December, 2012. Evidently, Rubio still isn’t aware of the power of such weapons, which fire bullets that can penetrate a steel helmet from a distance of five hundred yards. When fired from close range at civilians who aren’t wearing body armor, the bullets from an AR-15 don’t merely penetrate the human body—they tear it apart. It “looks like a grenade went off in there,” Peter Rhee, a trauma surgeon at the University of Arizona, told Wired.
To spare the families of the victims—and the public at large—additional anguish, these sorts of details are often glossed over in the aftermath of mass shootings. But it’s surely long past time that we acknowledged these facts, and that we begin to more fully discuss the complicity of N.R.A.-backed politicians like Rubio, and Florida’s governor, Rick Scott, in maintaining the environment that allows these tragedies to happen again and again and again.
One of the first duties of any government is to protect its citizens, through collective action, from violent threats they’d otherwise have to fend off themselves. Even most libertarians accept this principle. But when it comes to mass shootings, the Republican Party falls back on constitutional arguments that have no proper basis in history, and it refuses to budge from this stance. Nothing can shift it—not Sandy Hook, not the Orlando night-club shooting, not the Las Vegas massacre, not weekly shootings in schools. (According to the Guardian, Wednesday’s attack in Parkland was the eighth school shooting this year that has resulted in death or injury.) Nothing.
That’s right. And nothing will happen this time. Absolutely nothing.
More reads, links only
The New York Times: After Sandy Hook, More Than 400 People Have Been Shot in Over 200 School Shootings.
The Miami Herald: Florida school shooting suspect was ex-student who was flagged as threat.
The Daily Beast: Florida Shooter Made Sick Use of School’s Active-Shooter Drill.
That’s all I have for today. Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below.
What a sunny way to start a Sunday post….a sun on skis. So, the images of today’s thread are from artist Celestino Piatti. You can see a bunch of his work here and read more about the artist here, Celestino Piatti – Swiss Graphic Design Foundation.
Why don’t we start of with a few tweets:
This tweet from @eaglewoman4 seems like a brilliant idea…if it could work:
Read some of the comments. Some claim that there could be precedent for this exact protection, as some tribes afforded protection to citizens during WW2 who faced being placed in internment camps. (I looked online and could not find any information on this…but it was not a very thorough search.) Still, it does seem like an idea to flesh out.
Meanwhile, it appears John Lewis isn’t the only one boycotting the SOTU:
I don’t think we will get anything together unless we go back to using paper ballots:
Over here tRump has been overly suggesting prison for his former opponent Hillary Clinton, in Russia…tRump’s puppet master has done just that:
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested Sunday during anti-Kremlin protests in Moscow as rallies continue nationwide.“I’ve been detained. This doesn’t matter. Come to Tverskaya (Street). You are not going there for me, it’s for you and your future,” Navalny tweeted after his arrest.Within minutes of arriving at Pushkinskaya Square, where hundreds of protesters had gathered, Navalny was wrestled into a patrol van by police, in dramatic footage posted on Youtube.Moscow Police said Navalny was taken to a police station for arraignment and to be charged for illegally organizing a protest. If found guilty, he faces 30 days in detention and a fine.
Tweets from Navalny:
Translation: The detention of one person loses any sense if there are many of us. Someone come and replace me
This weekend marks another Anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz,
There is a key word here…which I think you may miss without knowing it.
It begins with the letter M.
I will leave with this latest breaking news:
Five people were killed and another was wounded Sunday in a shooting rampage in a small town 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania State Police said.
Police said four people died at the scene and one died after being rushed to a hospital. The shootings took place at a car wash in Melcroft at about 3 a.m. ET. The facts were still being sorted out, but it was possible the shooter was among the victims, police said.
“There is no threat to the community, no imminent danger,” police said in a statement to USA TODAY. The identity of the victims, three men and two women, were not immediately available, police said.
11:10 a.m. – A source at the scene told a KDKA reporter that the suspected shooter used a semi-automatic rifle. Police have not confirmed the weapon that was used.
This is an open thread.
Hey, a happy go lucky ray of fucking sunshine? That would be a positive thing…right?
I wonder if I could find an “untranslatable word” for it in Dr. Lomas’ Glossary of Happiness. (Actually it is called: The Positive Lexicography Project.) And I believe it is something that many of you will find truly fascinating…especially Boston Boomer, who made the study of language a part of her doctoral thesis.
Let’s get down to the article from The New Yorker that introduces us to Dr. Lomas’ Glossary of Happiness | The New Yorker
Last summer, Tim Lomas flew from London to Orlando to attend the fourth annual congress of the International Positive Psychology Association—held, naturally, at Walt Disney World. As Lomas wandered around the event, popping in and out of various sessions, he stumbled upon a presentation by Emilia Lahti, a doctoral student at Aalto University, in Helsinki. Lahti was giving a talk on sisu, a Finnish word for the psychological strength that allows a person to overcome extraordinary challenges. Sisu is similar to what an American might call perseverance, or the trendier concept of grit, but it has no real equivalent in English. It connotes both determination and bravery, a willingness to act even when the reward seems out of reach. Lomas had never heard the word before, and he listened with fascination as Lahti discussed it. “She suggested that this has been really valued and valorized by the Finns, and it was an important part of their culture,” he told me. At the same time, Lomas said, Lahti framed sisu as “a universal human capacity—it just so happened that the Finns had noticed it and coined a word for it.” The conference ended the next day, but Lomas kept thinking about sisu. There must be other expressions like it, he thought—words in foreign languages that described positive traits, feelings, experiences, and states of being that had no direct counterparts in English. Wouldn’t it be fascinating, he wondered, to gather all these in one place?
As the story goes…he went back home to London and began to work on his Lexicography. Lomas is a professor at University of East London…
[…] where he is a lecturer in applied positive psychology, he launched the Positive Lexicography Project, an online glossary of untranslatable words. To assemble the first edition—two hundred and sixteen expressions from forty-nine languages, published in January—he scoured the Internet and asked his friends, colleagues, and students for suggestions. Lomas then used online dictionaries and academic papers to define each word and place it into one of three overarching categories, doing his best to capture its cultural nuances. The first group of words referred to feelings, such as Heimat (German, “deep-rooted fondness towards a place to which one has a strong feeling of belonging”). The second referred to relationships, and included mamihlapinatapei (Yagán, “a look between people that expresses unspoken but mutual desire”), queesting (Dutch, “to allow a lover access to one’s bed for chitchat”), and dadirri (Australian Aboriginal, “a deep, spiritual act of reflective and respectful listening”). Finally, a third cluster of words described aspects of character. Sisu falls in this category, as do fēng yùn(Mandarin Chinese, “personal charm and graceful bearing”) and ilunga(Tshiluba, “being ready to forgive a first time, tolerate a second time, but never a third time”).
Since January, the glossary has grown to nearly four hundred entries from sixty-two languages, and visitors to the Web site have proposed new entries and refined definitions. It is a veritable catalogue of life’s many joys, featuring terms like utepils (Norwegian, “a beer that is enjoyed outside . . . particularly on the first hot day of the year”), mbuki-mvuki (Bantu, “to shed clothes to dance uninhibited”), tarab (Arabic, “musically induced ecstasy or enchantment”), and gigil (Tagalog, “the irresistible urge to pinch/squeeze someone because they are loved or cherished”). In the course of compiling his lexicon, Lomas has noted several interesting patterns. A handful of Northern European languages, for instance, have terms that describe a sort of existential coziness. The words—koselig (Norwegian), mysa (Swedish), hygge (Danish), and gezellig (Dutch)—convey both physical and emotional comfort. “Does that relate to the fact that the climate is colder up there and you would value the sense of being warm and secure and cozy inside?” Lomas asked. “Perhaps you can start to link culture to geography to climate. In contrast, more Southern European cultures have some words about being outside and strolling around and savoring the atmosphere. And those words”—like the French flâner and the Greek volta—“might be more likely to emerge in those cultures.”
On a side note…this reminded me of the story of the Sicilian Vespers. There is a word on the Island of Sicily that is only used on that island. It is the Sicilian word for chickpea. Foreigners had a very difficult time pronouncing it correctly…so difficult that it was the giveaway to tell if you were friend or foe at the time. So, this was the “password” that was used during to Sicilian Vespers. SICILIAN VESPERS – Casa Amaltea
It is said that the Sicilians used a linguistic stratagem to identify the Frenches camouflaged among the common people, showing them chickpeas ( “ciciri», in Sicilian dialect) and asking them to pronounce the name: those who were betrayed by their French pronunciation (sciscirì) were immediately killed.
But back to the happy words…and the New Yorker article:
Linguists have long debated the links between language, culture, and cognition. The theory of linguistic relativity posits that language itself—the specific tongue that we happen to speak—shapes our thoughts and perceptions. “I think most people would accept that,” Lomas said. “But where there is a debate in linguistics is between stronger and weaker versions of that hypothesis.” Those who believe in linguistic determinism, the strictest version, might argue that a culture that lacks a term for a certain emotion—a particular shade of joy or flavor of love—cannot recognize or experience it at all. Lomas, like many modern linguists, rejects that idea, but believes that language affects thought in more modest ways. Studying a culture’s emotional vocabulary, he said, may provide a window into how its people see the world—“things that they value, or their traditions, or their aesthetic ideals, or their ways of constructing happiness, or the things that they recognize as being important and worth noting.” In this way, the Positive Lexicography Project might help the field of psychology, which is often criticized for focussing too much on Western experiences and ideas, develop a more cross-cultural view of well-being. To that end, Lomas—who is currently using untranslatable words to enumerate, classify, and analyze different types of love—hopes that other psychologists treat his glossary as a jumping-off point for further research. “You could have a paper or even a Ph.D. on most of these concepts,” he said.
This was so “neat” to me…after I read the article I began to think about things, like a bubble diagram popping up in my head.
Some bubbles held bits of tRump speeches, and the ridiculous lack of developed words they contain.
And I wondered if I could find some words in other languages to express the various kinds of emotions that come from certain other current events. Like say…white police killing people of color?
I’ve been saving that old comic panel since the video of the Philando Castile shooting came out weeks ago.
*Another side note here…take a look at this fucking video:
I had originally saved it from a shared post on Facebook, again back when the video of the Castile shooting was released. Of course, when I went back to my saved items on FB…it had been deleted. I guess someone found it offensive?
Oh, I am going off on a tangent. Let me get to the cartoons before I become too much of a fucking capoter ray of sunshine.
And remember…many of these cartoons are from the Foreign Press.
This is an open thread…have at it.