Lazy Saturday Reads

Henri Lebasque, Girl Reading and Vase of Flowers, 1915

Good Morning!!

George Bush the elder died last night at age 94. I’m not going to lie and say I’m grieving.

During Watergate Bush was Nixon’s RNC chairman and supported him to the bitter end; but once the White House tapes came out, he urged Nixon to resign. Bush served about a year as CIA director under Gerald Ford. As Vice President, Bush famously claimed to have been “out of the loop” while Oliver North and the gang were running guns and drugs during the Iran-Contra affair. As president, Bush pardoned

…former National Security Adviser Robert C. McFarlane, former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, former CIA Central American Task Force Chief Alan D. Fiers, Jr., former CIA Deputy Director for Operations Clair E. George, and former CIA Counter-Terrorism Chief Duane R. Clarridge. The Weinberger pardon marked the first time a President ever pardoned someone in whose trial he might have been called as a witness, because the President was knowledgeable of factual events underlying the case.

He also refused to be interviewed by the special counsel. That quote is from the Walsh report on Iran-Contra.

In 1992, Walter Pincus wrote in The Washington Post:

Buried among 1,700 pages of notes written by then-Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger during the Iran-contra affair is one referring to a January 1986 meeting at which Weinberger voiced opposition to covert arms sales to Iran in the presence of George Bush, then the vice president.

Blue Girl Reading, Frederick C. Frieseke, 1935

The note, which appears to contradict Bush’s repeated assertion that he was never present when either Weinberger or then-Secretary of State George P. Shultz objected to the arms sales, is among classified documents being reviewed for possible use in Weinberger’s upcoming trial, according to informed sources. The note is important because it confirms earlier testimony by Shultz placing Bush at the January meeting.

Questioned again lately by reporters about Iran-contra, Bush sought to dismiss further discussion of his role in the worst political scandal of the Reagan administration. But new information emerging from court cases and congressional records since Bush last ran for president has cast fresh doubt on his assertions that he was “out of the loop,” generally uninvolved in and largely unaware of the most controversial Iran-contra operations.

There are numerous indications in the documentary record that Bush was at meetings where decisions were taken in the mid-1980s about both the secret sale of arms to Iran and some of the covert efforts to aid the contra rebels in Nicaragua.

Polls have shown that the public is skeptical of the president’s denials of involvement.

That was written before Bush issued the pardons.

As president, Bush started the Persian Gulf War in order to protect Saudi Arabia after Iraq took over Kuwait. He decided to leave Saddam Hussein in power in Iraq, and of course that led George Bush the younger to attack Iraq again in 2003, leaving us mired in the Middle East ever since.

As we watch Trump suck up to Saudi Arabia, we can forget that the Bushes also loved the Saudis and protected them after the 9/11 attacks. I could go on, but I won’t. Here are some obituaries of George H.W. Bush if you want to read the good stuff:

The New York Times: George Bush, 41st President, Dies at 94.

The Washington Post: George H.W. Bush, 41st president of the United States, dies at 94.

The Guardian: George HW Bush, former US president, dies aged 94.

Gari Melchers, Lady Reading

One good thing I will say about Bush: he didn’t like Trump.

“I don’t like him. I don’t know much about him, but I know he’s a blowhard. And I’m not too excited about him being a leader.” – George H.W. Bush on Donald Trump After he voted for Hillary Clinton.

Other News

The Wall Street Journal has a scoop on the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Kashoggi: CIA Intercepts Underpin Assessment Saudi Crown Prince Targeted Khashoggi.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent at least 11 messages to his closest adviser, who oversaw the team that killed journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in the hours before and after the journalist’s death in October, according to a highly classified CIA assessment.

The Saudi leader also in August 2017 had told associates that if his efforts to persuade Mr. Khashoggi to return to Saudi Arabia weren’t successful, “we could possibly lure him outside Saudi Arabia and make arrangements,” according to the assessment, a communication that it states “seems to foreshadow the Saudi operation launched against Khashoggi.” [….]

Excerpts of the Central Intelligence Agency’s assessment, which cites electronic intercepts and other clandestine information, were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The previously unreported excerpts reviewed by the Journal state that the CIA has “medium-to-high confidence” that Prince Mohammed “personally targeted” Khashoggi and “probably ordered his death.” It added: “To be clear, we lack direct reporting of the Crown Prince issuing a kill order.”

Girl Reading, Charles Edward Perugini (1834-1918)

The electronic messages sent by Prince Mohammed were to Saud al-Qahtani, according to the CIA. Mr. Qahtani supervised the 15-man team that killed Mr. Khashoggi and, during the same period, was also in direct communication with the team’s leader in Istanbul, the assessment says. The content of the messages between Prince Mohammed and Mr. Qahtani isn’t known, the document says. It doesn’t say in what form the messages were sent.

No wonder Trump refused let CIA director Gina Haspel report to Congress.

There are lots of stories about former Trump fixer Michael Cohen today. Cohen’s attorneys released his full sentencing memo (pdf) last night. For a summary, check out this Twitter thread from Adam Klasfeld.

CNN reports that if Trump had been nicer to his former lawyer, Cohen might not have flipped: Cohen believed Trump would pardon him, but then things changed.

After a March 2018 visit to Mar-a-Lago, the President’s private club in Florida, Cohen returned to New York believing that his former boss would protect him if he faced any charges for sticking to his story about the 2016 payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, according to one source with knowledge. Trump was also at Mar-a-Lago at the time of Cohen’s visit.

Another source said that after the April 2018 FBI raid on Cohen’s office and home, people close to the President assured Cohen that Trump would take care of him. And Cohen believed that meant that the President would offer him a pardon if he stayed on message. It is unclear who specifically reached out to Cohen….

Oda with Lamp, Christian Krohg Norwegian, 1852-1925

Following the raid on Cohen’s home and office, Cohen’s attorneys had a legal defense agreement with Trump and his attorneys. During this time, there was a steady flow of communication between the two sides, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

At first, publicly, Trump seemed very supportive of his former attorney. On the day of the raid, Trump said Cohen was “a good man” and that the investigation reached “a whole new level of unfairness.” He unloaded on law enforcement, calling the raids “a disgraceful situation.”

But in the days that followed the raid, one source says, things started heading south with the President.

Trump started to distance himself from Cohen. And when Trump appeared on “Fox and Friends” two weeks after the raids and said that Cohen only did a “tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work, Cohen knew the game had changed. According to one source, Cohen knew that things had changed and he acted to protect his family — and himself.

Politico: Cohen claims ‘regular contact’ with Trump legal team when crafting false statement to Congress.

…Michael Cohen said Friday he was in “close and regular contact” with Trump’s White House staff and legal team when he prepared a statement for Congress that he now says falsely downplayed Trump’s effort to land a Trump Tower Moscow deal during the 2016 presidential campaign.

In a filing seeking a lenient sentence, Cohen’s attorneys say his false statement to Congress — which Cohen pleaded guilty to on Thursday — was based on Trump and his team’s efforts to “portray contact with Russian representatives” by Trump, his campaign or his company “as having effectively terminated before the Iowa caucuses of February 1, 2016.”

Jarne Gissel 1962

“Seeking to stay in line with this message, Michael told Congress that his communications and efforts to finalize a building project in Moscow on behalf of the Trump Organization, which he began pursuing in 2015, had come to an end in January 2016, when a general inquiry he made to the Kremlin went unanswered,” Cohen’s lawyers Guy Petrillo and Amy Lester write.

But “Michael had a lengthy substantive conversation with the personal assistant to a Kremlin official following his outreach in January 2016, engaged in additional communications concerning the project as late as June 2016, and kept [Trump] apprised of these communications,” they wrote. “He and [Trump] also discussed possible travel to Russia in the summer of 2016, and Michael took steps to clear dates for such travel.”

The Daily Beast: Cohen: Trump Knew I Called Kremlin for Help With Trump Tower Moscow.

Another bombshell lobbed by Michael Cohen exploded late Friday night: He says he told Donald Trump about a phone call to the Kremlin asking for the Russian government’s help to build a Trump Tower in Moscow in 2016.

And Cohen also claims he was talking to Trump’s lawyers and White House staff in 2017 while he crafted a misleading statement to Congress seeking to cover up the truth about the Moscow project and the level of Trump’s involvement.

If this is true, former White House Counsel Don McGahn could be in trouble for witness tampering. I wonder what his talked with Mueller’s team have been like?

There are quite a few stories on fake AG Matthew Whitaker too. Some links to check out:

The Washington Post: Trump’s acting attorney general once referred to the president’s behavior as ‘a little dangerous’ and ‘a little outlandish.’

Yahoo News: How one accountant links Whitaker’s nonprofit to network of dark money groups.

The New York Times: Whitaker’s Ascent at Justice Dept. Surprised Investigators of Firm Accused of Fraud.

Jonathan Chait: Trump’s Crooked Attorney General Stonewalled Probe Into His Crooked Firm.

Above the Law: Let’s Take A Closer Look At Purported Attorney General Matthew Whitaker’s Super Sketchy Finances.

I’ll put a few more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?

 

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Sunday Reads: Rain on his Squirrel

Hey, I thought up the post’s title before I saw that tweet…referring to tRumps “squrriel’s nest toupee”…but before we get to a few links on the Orange Turd’s Paris trip, take a look at this thread.

As I said, that thread deserved the full treatment. For serious.

So what has happened today?

Now, here are several tweets for your review:

In honor of Armistice Day, (yesterday) …

Also, a new recording:

Listen to the Moment the Guns Fell Silent Ending World War I | Smart News | Smithsonian

End of the War

The soundscape of the Great War must have been devastating: constant artillery bombardment, rifle shots, fighter planes buzzing overhead and the screams of soldiers encountering gas. But we don’t actually know quite what the World War I sounded like. Magnetic tape didn’t exist yet and recording technology was in its infancy, requiring sound to be mechanically produced using a needle and soft wax or metal. Taking such machines into the field was not practical.

Still, there were people on the front recording. Special units used a technique called “sound ranging” to try and determine where enemy gunfire was coming from. To do so, technicians set up strings of microphones—actually barrels of oil dug into the ground—a certain distance apart, then used a piece of photographic film to visually record noise intensity. The effect is similar to the way a seismometer records an earthquake. Using that data and the time between when a shot was fired and when it hit, they could then triangulate where enemy artillery was located—and adjust their own guns accordingly.

At least one bit of that “sound ranging” film survived the War—the film recording the last few minutes of World War I when the guns finally fell silent at the River Moselle on the American Front. As Richard Connor at Deutsche Welde reports, part of a new exhibit called Making a New World at London’s Imperial War Museum uses those graphic sound waves to recreate the moment the Armistice went into effect and the guns fell silent.

As part of a celebration to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the war, the museum commissioned the sound production company Coda to Coda to use the film strip of the guns firing away at 10:58 A.M. on November 11, 1918, then going silent when the clock strikes 11, the symbolic moment politicians determined the war would end, to try and recreate what that instant may have sounded like.

More information at the link.

Here is where you can hear the recording:

IWM – WW1 Armistice Interpretation | Coda to Coda

That link is to the direct Coda to Coda website, it plays the full one minute of the last sounds of WWI.

The Facebook link below does not play the full recording.

One hundred years later, the absence from the orange asshole mouth fuckwad, is overwhelming:

(Hey, the point is he is there in the fucking rain. And he was there on Saturday.)

I guess Putin was the reason he was late?

Read some of the responses to that tweet.

I guess tRump finally did show up for the dinner…coming into the event through the back door…WTF?

Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau arrive at Paris’ Orsay Museum for Armistice Day  | Daily Mail Online

You can see all the dignitaries photos, on the red carpet etc., at that Daily Mail link above.

A few more articles:

This is an interesting interview:
Last surviving prosecutor at Nuremberg trials says Trump’s family separation policy is ‘crime against humanity’ | The Independent

The last surviving member of the Nuremberg trials prosecuting team has said Donald Trump committed “a crime against humanity” with the recent family separation policy.

Ben Ferencz, 99, made the comment during a recent interview with outgoing United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

The lawyer said it was “painful” when he heard about how the Trump administration had separated more than 2,000 children from their families after they had crossed the US-Mexico border.

Video at the link.

In connection with that: ICE Detention Center Says It’s Not Responsible for Staff’s Sexual Abuse of Detainees | American Civil Liberties Union

Can you fucking believe this shit?

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government impose criminal liability on correctional facility staff who have sexual contact with people in their custody. These laws recognize that any sexual activity between detainees and detention facility staff, with or without the use of force, is unlawful because of the inherent power imbalance when people are in custody. Yet, one immigration detention center is trying to avoid responsibility for sexual violence within its walls by arguing that the detainee “consented” to sexual abuse.

E.D., an asylum-seeker and domestic violence survivor from Honduras, was sexually assaulted by an employee while she was detained with her 3-year-old child at the Berks Family Residential Center in Pennsylvania. At the time of the assault, E.D. was 19 years old.

She filed suit against the detention center and its staff for their failure to protect her from sexual violence, even though they were aware of the risk. The record in the case, E.D. v. Sharkey, shows that her assailant coerced and threatened her, including with possible deportation, while the defendants stood by and made jokes.

Although the employee pled guilty to criminal institutional sexual assault under Pennsylvania law, the defendants contend that they should not be liable for any constitutional violations. Their argument rests in part on their assessment that the sexual abuse was “consensual” and that they should be held to a different standard because the Berks Family Residential Center is an immigration detention facility rather than a jail or prison.

Read the rest of this disturbing case at the link.

Some updates on the California killer:

“I Hope People Call Me Insane”: Thousand Oaks Shooter Posted To Instagram During The Massacre

Calif. shooter used high-capacity magazine that voters outlawed, but ban was blocked by lawsuit | TheHill

And lastly, these few articles that have a tie-in…civil war.

The American civil war didn’t end. And Trump is a Confederate president | Rebecca Solnit | Opinion | The Guardian

n the 158th year of the American civil war, also known as 2018, the Confederacy continues its recent resurgence. Its victims include black people, of course, but also immigrants, Jews, Muslims, Latinos, trans people, gay people and women who want to exercise jurisdiction over their bodies. The Confederacy battles in favor of uncontrolled guns and poisons, including toxins in streams, mercury from coal plants, carbon emissions into the upper atmosphere, and oil exploitation in previously protected lands and waters.

Its premise appears to be that protection of others limits the rights of white men, and those rights should be unlimited. The Brazilian philosopher of education Paulo Freire once noted that “the oppressors are afraid of losing the ‘freedom to oppress’”. Of course, not all white men support extending that old domination, but those who do see themselves and their privileges as under threat in a society in which women are gaining powers, and demographic shift is taking us to a US in which white people will be a minority by 2045.

More of course, at the link.

Those racist will tell you, the Civil War was strictly over the question of “state’s rights”:

Acting AG Matthew Whitaker Said That States Have Right to Nullify Federal Law – The Daily Beast

Acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker said he believed states have a right to nullify federal law, CNN reports. In a campaign speech for his GOP primary run for Iowa Senator, Whitaker touted the need for states to have “political courage” to nullify federal laws. “Now we need to remember that the states set up the federal government and not vice versa. And so the question is, do we have the political courage in the state of Iowa or some other state to nullify Obamacare and pay the consequences for that?” Whitaker said in response to a question at a September 2013 campaign speech. “The federal government’s done a very good job about tying goodies to our compliance with federal programs, whether it’s the Department of Education, whether it’s Obamacare with its generous Medicare and Medicaid dollars and the like… But do I believe in nullification? I think our founding fathers believed in nullification. There’s no doubt about that.” According to a Des Moines Register columnist, Whitaker reportedly made similar remarks about nullification in April 2014 but said he didn’t believed states would do it.

I swear that Whitaker looks like a skinhead/Nazi.

And….at last we come to this:

Russian sites claim the 2020 election will cause an American civil war – Business Insider

  • The Russian media has published more than 30 articles in the past few days suggesting that America could devolve into a civil wardue to the 2020 election.
  • Stories that seek to undermine faith in Western democracy among Russian audiences are a staple of the Russian media, much of which is state-controlled.
  • The source for these articles was an opinion piece published by conservative commentator Niall Ferguson, who references a “cultural civil war” but concludes that civil war is not imminent.
  • This type of coverage in the Russian media highlights the challenge of contending with information that is distorted to the point of inaccuracy but is not explicitly fake.

The Russian media is obsessed with the American civil war. No, not the one that erupted in 1861 over the secession of the South — the civil war that’s coming with the next US presidential election.

tRump’s 30% are just hateful enough…and armed enough, to actually do something crazy like start a war.

This is all I have for today…btw….Tomorrow is my brother’s birthday, he would have been 48 years old. I miss him so fucking much.

This is an open thread.


Lazy Caturday Reads: Another Insane Week Draws to a Close

Good Morning!!

It has been another insane week in the USA, a third-world country that was once (theoretically) a democracy.

Nowadays, we’re ruled by an senile old man who thinks he’s a tin-pot dictator.

He throws tantrums at idiotic, incomprehensible press conferences and acts like a spoiled child at press scrums as he lumbers toward his helicopter.

He screams at reporters and calls them “enemies of the people,” reserving his most vicious epithets for black women journalists.

The Washington Post: ‘What a stupid question’: Trump demeans three black female reporters in three days.

President Trump has made no secret of his contempt for reporters, whom he calls “fake news” and “enemy of the American people.” He’s also had unkind things to say about women and people who are African American.

This week, he hit a trifecta, singling out three African American women who are journalists. The women — Abby Phillip, April Ryan and Yamiche Alcindor — earned his contempt apparently just for asking him questions.

Trump called one of Phillip’s questions “stupid,” described Ryan as “a loser” and brushed off Alcindor, saying her question was “racist.”

Phillip, a CNN reporter and former Washington Post journalist, drew Trump’s wrath on Friday, after she asked whether he hoped Matthew G. Whitaker, Trump’s appointee as acting attorney general, would “rein in” special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s probe of Trump’s presidential campaign.

What a stupid question that is. What a stupid question,” Trump snapped. He didn’t answer the allegedly “stupid” question, but he did pour more contempt on Phillip. “I watch you a lot,” he said. “You ask a lot of stupid questions.”

He suggested he was considering pulling other reporters’ press credentials to cover the White House, as he did with CNN reporter Jim Acosta on Wednesday. Among those he brought up in that context was Ryan.

“You talk about someone who’s a loser,” Trump said of Ryan, a reporter for American Urban Radio Networks and a contributor to CNN. “She doesn’t know what the hell she’s doing. She gets publicity and then she gets a pay raise, or she gets a contract with, I think, CNN. But she’s very nasty and she shouldn’t be. You’ve got to treat the White House and the office of the presidency with respect.”

When the “president” is a fucking asshole and a complete moron, he doesn’t deserve anyone’s respect. Just my not-so-humble opinion.

Today, the wannabe dictator is in France where he undoubtedly will make a complete ass of himself in his dealings with foreign leaders and foreign press. And . . . he’s already done it. Is anyone surprised that Trump doesn’t know the difference between the Baltics and the Balkans?

Supposedly Trump is in France in honor of Armistice Day, marking the end of World War I. He was supposed to travel to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial but he cancelled because it was raining. So now he’ll be sitting in his hotel room, probably tweeting and watching TV.

Max Boot registered his disappointment on Twitter.

Boot wrote at The Washington Post: Trump should use his trip to France to learn a few simple lessons from history.

I am still haunted by my visit 14 years ago to the World War I battlefields of France, from Verdun to the Somme. All those long, neat rows of graves — all those young men struck down in a senseless, inconclusive conflict that claimed 40 million lives. Particularly heartbreaking were the markers commemorating “Soldat Inconnu, Mort Pour la France” (an unknown soldier who died for France) — someone whose identity has been erased from history.

I pray — with no expectation that my prayer will be answered — that President Trump will pause during his visit to France this weekend for the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I to contemplate what happened and why. He will have a chance for some sober reflection, if he is capable of it, when he visits the American war cemeteries at Aisne-Marne and Suresnes. But it does not augur well that he will skip President Emmanuel Macron’s Paris Peace Forum,designed to bring together leaders to foster international cooperation.

Macron has been clear-eyed about what caused the Great War: “the leprosy of nationalism.” He warns that the danger of another catastrophe is rising because nationalism has been loosed on the world once again. “The world is fracturing, new disorders are appearing and Europe is tipping almost everywhere toward extremes and again is giving way to nationalism,” Macron said in a televised address. “Those who do not see what is going on around us are sleepwalking. Not me.”

His choice of word — “sleepwalking” — is significant because one of the best new histories of the outbreak of World War I, by the Cambridge University historian Christopher Clark, is called “The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914.” One cannot help thinking of the present day when Clark writes of “monarchs and statesmen” such as Kaiser Wilhelm II who “were positively obsessive about the press and spent hours each day poring through cuttings.” Sound like anyone we know? So, too, we can hear contemporary echoes when Clark describes “aggressive ultranationalist organizations whose voices could be heard in all the European capitals,” even though they “represented small, extremist constituencies.” Their aggressive ideology was the kindling that ignited when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated.

Sound familiar?

Trump also picked a fight with French President Macron. Politico:

U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday slammed Emmanuel Macron after the French president suggested earlier this week that Europe needs to build a “real European army” to protect itself from Russia, China and the United States.

“President Macron of France has just suggested that Europe build its own military in order to protect itself from the U.S., China and Russia,” Trump tweeted shortly after landing in Paris to attend a ceremony commemorating 100 years since the end of World War I.

“Very insulting, but perhaps Europe should first pay its fair share of NATO, which the U.S. subsidizes greatly!” the president continued.

Of course Trump had no idea what Macron was actually talking about, but somehow Trump’s delicate feelings were soothed. Politico: Truce in Paris after Trump’s offense at Macron’s EU army pledge.

It was an awkward truce to avert a Twitter war, a day before the big Armistice Day commemoration in Paris.

French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Donald Trump, meeting at the Élysée Palace on Saturday morning, appeared to smooth over any differences after the visiting American took offense on Friday to comments Macron had made earlier in the week.

Macron, in the interview with Europe 1, had called for the EU to create its own army, “to protect us against China, Russia and even the United States of America,” citing Trump’s intention to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

Macron’s comments were perhaps provocative — but not for the reasons cited by Trump. Many other European leaders do not support the idea of an EU army, which many view as an overly integrationist approach to European common security and defense policy. It can be a subject of heated disagreement in Brussels.

Macron told Europe 1: “We will not protect the European if we don’t decide to have a real European army. Faced with Russia, which is at our borders and which showed us that it could be threatening, we must have a Europe that defends itself more on its own, without only depending on the United States and in a more sovereign way.”

He also castigated Trump from withdrawing from the INF treaty. “Who will be the main victim?,” Macron asked. “Europe and its security.”

None of us will ever forget how James Comey kneecapped Hillary Clinton in 2016 because she used a private email server. Well guess what? Comey used his gmail account for FBI business! The New York Post: James Comey discussed sensitive FBI business on his private email.

Fired FBI chief James Comey used his private Gmail account hundreds of times to conduct government business — and at least seven of tho..se messages were deemed so sensitive by the Justice Department that they declined to release them.

The former top G-man repeatedly claimed he only used his private account for “incidental” purposes and never for anything that was classified — and that appears to be true.

But Justice acknowledged in response to a Freedom of Information request that Comey and his chief of staff discussed government business on about 1,200 pages of messages, 156 of which were obtained by The Post.

The Cause of Action Institute, a conservative watchdog group, filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit for Comey’s Gmail correspondence involving his work for the bureau.

The Justice Department responded that there were an eye-popping 1,200 pages of messages for Comey and his chief of staff that met the criteria.

Yes, these are right-wing sources, but the info seems legit.

I’m running out of space, and I haven’t even touched on the subject of Trump’s fake Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. Here’s the latest:

The Washington Post: Federal investigators scrutinized Whitaker’s role in patent company accused of fraud, according to people with knowledge of case.

Federal investigators last year looked into whether Matthew G. Whitaker, as an advisory board member of a Miami patent company accused of fraud by customers, played a role in trying to help the company silence critics by threatening legal action, according to two people with knowledge of the inquiry.

Whitaker, named this week by President Trump as acting attorney general, occasionally served as an outside legal adviser to the company, World Patent Marketing, writing a series of letters on its behalf, according to people familiar with his role.

But he rebuffed an October 2017 subpoena from the Federal Trade Commission seeking his records related to the company, according to two people with knowledge of the case.

The FTC alleged in a 2017 complaint that the company bilked customers with fraudulent promises that it would help them market their invention. The FBI has also investigated World Patent Marketing, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Whitaker was not named in the FTC complaint. World Patent Marketing, without admitting fault, settled the case for more than $25 million earlier this year, according to court documents.

More on the scam company from The Guardian: Trump’s acting attorney general involved in firm that scammed veterans out of life savings.

The Daily Beast: ‘He’s a F*cking Fool’: Justice Department Officials Trash Matt Whitaker, Their New Boss.

The appointment this week of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general has sparked sharp concerns among lawmakers over the possibility that he may bottle up Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia meddling in the 2016 election.

Inside the Department of Justice, however, the fears are more expansive. Whitaker is seen as a rogue and under-qualified new leader whose impact won’t just be felt on the Mueller probe but throughout the federal government.

“He’s a fucking fool,” one trial attorney inside the department said of the new AG. “He’s spent so much time trying to suck up to the president to get here. But this is a big job. It comes with many responsibilities. He just simply doesn’t have the wherewithal.” [….]

“We’ve seen this over and over again with the Trump administration. They never vet these people,” said one former official from the department. “It shows that they don’t really have a strategy when it comes to these things and then they end up having to backtrack.”

Trump has already begun to disown Whitaker. The Washington Post: Trump distances himself from Whitaker amid scrutiny over past comments and business ties.

With the White House scrambling to manage public examination of Whitaker’s background and resistance to his leadership within the Justice Department, Trump sought to douse speculation that he had installed the partisan loyalist to curtail the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump insisted that he had not spoken with Whitaker about the investigation being led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — and the president upbraided a reporter when she asked whether he wanted Whitaker to rein in Mueller. “What a stupid question,” he said.

Defiant and testy as he departed the White House on Friday morning for a weekend visit to Paris, Trump claimed four separate times that he did not personally know Whitaker, who had been serving as chief of staff at the Justice Department.

“I don’t know Matt Whitaker,” Trump told reporters, adding that he knew him only by reputation.

That claim is false, according to the president’s past statements as well as the accounts of White House officials — one of whom laughed Friday at Trump’s suggestion that he did not know Whitaker.

Read more at the link if you missed the “testy” press availability yesterday.

More Whitaker stories, links only:

Vanity Fair: This Could Tarnish Whitaker for Life: How Far Will Whitaker Go to Prove his Loyalty?

CNN: Sessions realized too late that Whitaker was auditioning for his job.

CNN: Whitaker said he supports state’s rights to nullify federal law.

Vox: Exclusive: Trump loyalist Matthew Whitaker was counseling the White House on investigating Clinton.

The New York Times: Matthew Whitaker: An Attack Dog With Ambition Beyond Protecting Trump.

That’s all I’ve got. What stories are you following today?


Monday Reads

Monday Strikes Again!

So, BB and I could not figure out anything that made sense about the “Q Anon” stuff that was a press hot item last week.  Do you remember back in the day before the internet was overtaken by commercial interests and most of its denizens were academic nerdy types like me?  Well, folks started inventing real life versions of fanfic games including maps, and secrets, and treasures that may have followed a reality set up by a game console game. Most of it was just really bad fanfic too.  The entire QAnon thing just read like really, really bad fanfic to me. and that is what it now appears to be.  Its motivation was to evidently drive boomers nuts and it’s evidently a leftie bro thing. The nonsensical conspiracy site was called “Bread Crumbs.”

According to Q, nearly every president before Trump was a “criminal president” who was part of an evil global organization of Satanist pedophiles. It also claims members of the US military who are not working for the global pedophile cabal supposedly approached Trump and begged him to run for president so that they could purge the government of the deep state operatives without a military coup.

Q claims Trump is not under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, but that Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are. And Trump is actually working with Mueller.

Q regularly drops clues that followers call “crumbs,” which are meant to predict things. For instance, he claimed John Podesta would be arrested or indicted Nov. 3, 2017 — which, of course, didn’t happen

See, bad fanfic. But the bottom line, with tons of documentation at the Buzzfeed piece citied here is that it was a hoax which finally makes sense to me.  Imagine bored dateless BernieBros in a basement some where ….

“Let us take for granted, for a while, that QAnon started as a prank in order to trigger right-wing weirdos and have a laugh at them. There’s no doubt it has long become something very different. At a certain level it still sounds like a prank. But who’s pulling it on whom?” they said.

They also point to the fact that even this article runs the risk of being sucked into the QAnon vortex and just adding more fuel to the fire. “If [QAnon’s] perpetrators claimed responsibility for it and showed some evidence (for example, unmistakeable references to our book and the Luther Blissett Project), would the explanation itself become yet another part of the narrative, or would it generate a new narrative encompassing and defusing the previous one?”

So, now that’s cleared up the press can leave it alone.  There are real things out there.  That sucking sound you hear are wages and wealth going to the richest of the rich.

On May 8th, Brookings officially launched a new initiative on the Future of the Middle Class. Through this initiative, we will publish research, analysis, and insights that are motivated by a desire to improve the quality of life for those in America’s middle class and to improve upward mobility into its ranks. We have already wrestled with how we define this group, considered its changing racial composition, and called upon experts to outline major policies geared toward improving its fate. But why all of this attention? Here are seven of the reasons we are worried about the American middle class.

Today, I feel the “dismal” in the dismal science meme.  Retirement prospects for many Boomers includes Bankruptcy.

For a rapidly growing share of older Americans, traditional ideas about life in retirement are being upended by a dismal reality: bankruptcy.

The signs of potential trouble — vanishing pensions, soaring medical expenses, inadequate savings — have been building for years. Now, new research sheds light on the scope of the problem: The rate of people 65 and older filing for bankruptcy is three times what it was in 1991, the study found, and the same group accounts for a far greater share of all filers.

Driving the surge, the study suggests, is a three-decade shift of financial risk from government and employers to individuals, who are bearing an ever-greater responsibility for their own financial well-being as the social safety net shrinks.

The transfer has come in the form of, among other things, longer waits for full Social Security benefits, the replacement of employer-provided pensions with 401(k) savings plans and more out-of-pocket spending on health care. Declining incomes, whether in retirement or leading up to it, compound the challenge.

Well, that’s no surprise.  It’s also no surprise that Trump is behaving badly on the World Stage again. “Trump signs order reimposing sanctions on Iran – a move the EU said it ‘deeply’ regrets.”  Well, we knew Bolten had to be getting something to help with all that Putin Ass Kissing.

Donald Trump has signed an executive order reimposing sanctions on Iran – a move the EU said it “deeply” regretted.

Three months after he revealed he was pulling the US out of the seven-party Iran nuclear deal, Mr Trump announced the reimposition of wide range of sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation. Three months after he revealed he was pulling the US out of the seven-party Iran nuclear deal, Mr Trump announced the reimposition of a wide range of  of sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation. A second set will be reimposed in a further three months.

“[The Iran nuclear deal] a horrible, one-sided deal, failed to achieve the fundamental objective of blocking all paths to an Iranian nuclear bomb, and it threw a lifeline of cash to a murderous dictatorship that has continued to spread bloodshed, violence, and chaos,” Mr Trump said in a statement.

“Since the deal was reached, Iran’s aggression has only increased.  The regime has used the windfall of newly accessible funds it received under the JCPOA to build nuclear-capable missiles, fund terrorism, and fuel conflict across the Middle East and beyond.”

In the aftermath of Mr Trump’s unilateral decision in May, the other parties to the 2015 deal – Russia, China, Germany, France, the UK and the EU – vowed to stick with the deal and to and continue to trade with Iran. Several companies, such as French-based Airbus, felt obliged to pull out of a deal with Iran, rather than risk sanctions from Washington.

The revoking of licensees to the company and its rival, Boeing, saw the aircraft manufacturer lose out on a $39bn deal with Tehran for new planes. Easing sanctions such as this was a major inducement get Tehran to sign the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015 under President Barack Obama.

The executive order signed on Monday, which will come into effect at midnight EST, releases to the purchase or acquisition of US currency Iran, the trade in gold and other precious metals, materials such as graphite, aluminium, steel, coal, and software used in industrial processes. They also target the country’ automotive sector.

The remaining sanctions to be reimposed on November 5 relate to Iran’s port operators and energy, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors. Crucially, they will also target its oil industry and foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran.

It’s like he’s single handedly destroying our economic, world order, and the environment.   This news is awful but typical Trump policy.

Two of America’s biggest steel manufacturers — both with deep ties to administration officials — have successfully objected to hundreds of requests by American companies that buy foreign steel to exempt themselves from President Trump’s stiff metal tariffs. They have argued that the imported products are readily available from American steel manufacturers.

Charlotte-based Nucor, which financed a documentary filmmade by a top trade adviser to Mr. Trump, and Pittsburgh-based United States Steel, which has previously employed several top administration officials, have objected to 1,600 exemption requests filed with the Commerce Department over the past several months.

To date, their efforts have never failed, resulting in denials for companies that are based in the United States but rely on imported pipes, screws, wire and other foreign steel products for their supply chains.

The ability of a single industry to exert so much influence over the exclusions process is striking even in Mr. Trump’s business-friendly White House, given the high stakes for thousands of American companies that depend on foreign metals. But the boundaries of trade policy are being tested by the scope of Mr. Trump’s multifront trade war with allies and adversaries alike, which includes tariffs on up to $200 billion worth of goods from China and possible tariffs on automobiles and auto parts.

And the psychic trauma will only increase:

But after watching Trump for all this time, there’s no reason to beat around the bush on this question anymore. Donald Trump is a racist, and we all know it. He could barely have tried any harder to convince us. Not only did he turn himself into a political figure by making himself America’s most prominent birther, he repeatedly demanded to see Barack Obama’s high school and college transcripts, on the theory that Obama couldn’t possibly have been smart enough to get into Columbia and Harvard Law School on his own merit. He ran a white nationalist campaign for president, and said that the judge in his Trump University fraud cause couldn’t be fair because “He’s a Mexican” (in fact, the judge is an American). On multiple occasions he retweeted racist memes from white supremacists. In a White House meeting about immigration, he said that Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS” and complained that once Nigerian immigrants had seen the United States they would never “go back to their huts” (Nigerian immigrants are one of the most highly educated groups in America). He meets a group of Native American war heroes, and decides to bring up the fact that he insults Elizabeth Warren by calling her “Pocahontas.” And of course, he called non-white nations “shithole countries” and averred that a group of neo-Confederates and neo-Nazis were “very fine people.”

So we know who Donald Trump is, and why he says what he does. The fact that much of what Trump says about African Americans is performative—a public show meant to keep his base angry—doesn’t mean that the bigotry isn’t sincerely felt.

This is a good reminder that Trump’s 2020 campaign will be no less built on hate than his 2016 campaign was. In fact, it could be even more so. Trump will no longer be able to plausibly argue that there’s a system controlled by an elite that’s keeping regular people down, since he and his party are the ones with all the power. So it’s likely that he’ll rely even more heavily on white nationalism to get re-elected.

The weirdest thing happened Sunday in a Twitler Special that basically was a confession to collusion and to a cover up.

Donald Trump has admitted for the first time that his son met a Kremlin-connected lawyer in 2016 to collect information about Hillary Clinton, but insists the meeting was legal.

In one of a series of Sunday morning tweets issued in apparent reaction to a CNN report, the US president wrote: “Fake News reporting, a complete fabrication, that I am concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower. This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics – and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!”

That explanation differs entirely from one given by Trump 13 months ago, when a statement dictated by the president but released under the name of Donald Trump Jr read: “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago.”

The 2016 meeting is pivotal to the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia collusion investigation, though Trump’s tweets appeared aimed at conveying the message that he is not worried about Donald Trump Jr’s exposure to the inquiry.

He made the remarks as one of his lawyers warned the special counsel against trying to force the president to be interviewed.

The dude seriously keeps admitting to crimes. Why can’t we lock hIm up?   “President Trump changes story in Twitter rant admitting Trump Tower meeting was to gather intel on Hillary Clinton.”

The President’s latest social media meltdown was in reaction to what he called a “complete fabrication” in Sunday’s Washington Post claiming Trump was concerned “innocent and decent people,” including his son Donald Trump Jr., could be hurt by Mueller’s probe exploring links between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

“This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics — and it went nowhere,” he wrote. “I did not know about it!”

Thirteen months ago, Trump gave a different explanation for the meeting between his eldest son and parties alleging ties to the Russian government. A July 2017 statement credited to Don Jr. and later discovered to have been dictated by the President read: “We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago.”

Though the President maintains he knew nothing about the Trump Tower meeting prior to its taking place, his former fixer Michael Cohen, who has reportedly indicated a willingness to cooperate with Mueller’s team, has allegedly said otherwise.

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that he had “bad information” when he personally argued that the meeting was about adoption.

So, this is just an open news dump thread!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: It’s a tRump Ass World….

 

I’ve guess you all have seen the latest paintings from the tRumptonian artist Jon McNaughton?

Bizarre Right-Wing Trump Portrait Gets Mercilessly Mocked On Twitter | HuffPost

A right-wing artist’s latest “heroic” image of President Donald Trump received some pretty savage reviews from people on social media.

Jon McNaughton painted a take on George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware, except in this version Trump is commanding a boat filled with members of his administration.

“Trump endeavors to cross the ‘swamp’ of Washington D.C. as he carries the light of truth, hope and prosperity,” McNaughton wrote. “The murky water of the deep state is laced with dangerous vermin, perfectly willing to destroy American prosperity for their personal ideologies and financial gain.”

Take a peek at the link to see the various jokes, I’ve posted one of the funnier ones below, which conveniently also shows what the original painting looks like….

 

You can also see another new “work of art” (excuse me while I vomit) below…I don’t know what the name of that piece of shit is…but it must have Strangling the Mueller somewhere in the title.

 

 

Nah, see? It is called Expose the Truth. God it is fucking disgusting.

 

 

So, now that I have posted some of the visual images for the thread, I suppose I should get around to throwing some links in the pie as well.

 

I don’t know what to make at that tweet above… I know whatever is being done with the attacks on the press is dangerous. Just like the paintings of tRump strangling Mueller with a tie…it crosses the line.

Pastor at Trump rally prays to shield Trump from ‘jungle journalism’ | TheHill

From enemy of the people to jungle journalism….

The pastor delivering the invocation at President Trump’s rally in Ohio on Saturday called for God to shield Trump from “jungle journalism.”

CNN reported that Gary Click, a pastor and member of the Ohio GOP’s State Central Committee, delivered the prayer ahead of Trump’s remarks, asking for God to “protect our President and his family with a shield of faith, Lord.”

“That shield of faith against the fiery darts of the wicked one, Lord, against that jungle journalism that extorts the truth and distorts honesty and integrity every single day, gets in his face with lies and mistruths and innuendos,” Click continued.

I doubt they hired that preacher from craigslist.

Even Fox News is sensing the danger:

What The Heck Is Happening When Even Fox News Starts Making Sense? | Crooks and Liars

But tRump still threatens:

Trump: I ‘destroy’ careers of Republicans who say bad things about me | TheHill

President Trump bragged about his prowess in defeating the Republicans who oppose him, saying at an Ohio rally that he “destroys” the careers of GOP politicians who dare defy him.

“How do you get 100 percent of anything? We always have somebody who says ‘I don’t like Trump, I don’t like our president, he destroyed my career,’ ” Trump said.

“I only destroy their career because they said bad things about me and you fight back and they go down the tubes and that’s OK,” he added.

He is a fucking thug, and it looks like Sunday will only be used for more threats and blows toward Mueller.

Sunday shows preview: Trump’s attacks on Mueller probe ramp up | TheHill

Read more at that link.

Maybe something big is coming?

Trump voicing concerns about son being entangled in Mueller probe – CNNPolitics

 

I thought this was a true enough tweet below.

 

Yeah, that is gross:

Justice Clarence Thomas Is Having an Outsize Influence on the Trump Administration – Mother Jones

Twenty percent of the quiet justice’s former clerks owe their current jobs to President Trump.

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is by far the court’s quietest and most conservative justice. He went 10 years without asking a single question from the bench, a streak broken in 2016, not long after the death of his friend Justice Antonin Scalia. Since then, Thomas hasn’t uttered a word in court. His opinions are so quirky and radically conservative that his colleagues on the bench often seem reluctant to sign on to them, making him perhaps one of the least influential justices in the court’s history.

But the court’s only African-American justice is having an outsize influence in one important sphere: the Trump administration. A new report by the AP’s Mark Sherman indicates that roughly 20 percent of the clerks—a total of 22—Thomas has hired since his confirmation in 1991 are either now working as political appointees in the administration or have been appointed by Trump to federal judgeships.

In other news, this headline got me thinking…what the fuck is she doing back? Hope Hicks Spotted Boarding Air Force One

Check it out, I wonder if this was agreed on at the summit:

Steven Seagal Named By Russia As Special Rep To US For Humanitarian Ties | Deadline

Russian President Vladimir Putin presented a Russian passport to the US actor in 2016, and now Seagal will expand his ties, serving as a goodwill ambassador. He will receive no salary, the Ministry said, adding, “It’s a case of people’s diplomacy intersecting with traditional diplomacy.”

Seagal’s new role was noted by Kremlin-backed TV station RT, who noted Seagal as welcoming the appointment.

“I’ve always had a very strong desire to do all I can to help improve Russian-American relations,” RT quoted Seagal. “I have worked tirelessly in this direction for many years unofficially and I am now very grateful for the opportunity to do the same thing officially.”

Don’t forget…

While Seagal is popular in Russia, he has been accused in the US of sexual misconduct.

In March of this year, two women who previously accused Steven Seagal of rape and sexual assault stepped forward to offer more detailed accounts of the actor’s alleged misconduct. Los Angeles attorney Lisa Bloom told reporters in a press conference that she will represent former Dutch model Faviola Dadis and one-time aspiring actress Regina Simons as they seek justice.

Actresses Juliana Margulies and Pamela Anderson have also complained about Seagal’s conduct during auditions.

Looks like DC is trying to make the relations between the Neo Nazis holding a rally and folks counterprotesting the racist KKK white nationalist fucks:

D.C. Metro Considers Separate Trains for ‘Unite the Right’ White Nationalist Rally – Truthdig

In an effort to head off violence between white nationalists and counterprotesters, the District of Columbia metro transit system is considering providing separate trains for those attending the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally Aug. 12. The use of separate trains for such a purpose would be unprecedented.

In response to criticism, Jack Evans, chairman of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, said in a Washington Post article:

“We’re not trying to give anyone special treatment. We’re just trying to avoid scuffles and things of that nature.”

 

It doesn’t look like special treatment helped the situation in Portland:

Portland protestor seriously wounded by flash-bang grenade fired by cops clearing way for alt-right marchers

Hundreds of far-right protesters from as far away as Florida gathered on the waterfront in Portland, Oregon for a “Freedom March” on Saturday. Dozens of those interviewed said they were there to utilize their “freedom of speech.” To do so, they came armed with bats, weighted fighting gloves, wooden poles, canisters of mace, knives, shields and body armor.

The police had declared a day earlier that all such weapons were illegal in Portland parks. But no effort was witnessed to confiscate the weapons or arrest the weapon-holders.

For hours, four lines of riot police kept the far right separated from a much larger crowd of anti-fascists. The Portland police seemingly wanted to avoid a replay of June 30, when they took a hands-off approach to another far-right rally that quickly degenerated into a violent brawl of about 100 people, resulting in five hospitalizations.

This time it was the police who sent protesters to the hospital. Later in the day, when the far right decided to march into the city, police decided to sweep the streets of counter-protesters. Neither side had permits, but police provided protection to the far right to march for two blocks.

To clear the way, police shot dozens of flash-bang grenades at more than 1,000 people who had gathered to oppose what they say are white supremacists.

 

There are exclusive pictures of the wounded at the Raw Story link.

About the latest tRump tariffs:

Here are a few links above various things….

There was a strange assassination attempt last night…WATCH: Speech By Venezuelan President Maduro Cut Off After Reported Explosion

Maduro was unharmed in the attempt, but many of the military members in attendance were seen reacting to the explosion.

Footage of the speech, circulated on social media, showed Maduro delivering a speech before the sound cuts out, and those on the stage duck. A camera then shows soldiers running from in a square, before the footage cuts completely.

According to Patricia Laya, Bloomberg News’s Venezuela Bureau Chief, the feed cut after an explosion was heard near the stage.

 

Orson Welles: actor, director… painter? | Film | The Guardian

Iam essentially a hack, a commercial person,” Orson Welles once said. “If I had a hobby, I would immediately make money on it or abandon it.” Self-deprecation aside, this most creatively ambitious and restless of US directors was hardly a hack. Welles did have a hobby, though – one he never abandoned or monetised, and one that is now shedding fresh light on a mighty career.

For in private, the great man worked quietly as an artist – yielding a vast, varied collection of paintings, drawings and doodles that has rarely been given serious scrutiny. That output is the subject of The Eyes of Orson Welles, a whimsical documentary by film critic, historian and lifelong Welles devotee Mark Cousins. An exhibition of the artworks, on which Cousins advised, is also now running at Edinburgh’s Summerhall galleries.

For those who think of Welles chiefly as the stern, booming talent behind such concrete American standards as Citizen Kane, Cousins’s film is revelatory, exposing a wry, playful, angry, often lovestruck man behind the Hollywood legend.

That is all I have today, hope everybody is doing well.

This is an open thread.


Sunday Reads: “Sanctions that didn’t exist before this regime took office.” – Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State.

 

 

A lot of shit went down this week, the reason I chose to highlight the quote up top is simply because of the key word: Regime.

Many news outlets made quite a point about Mike Pompeo’s Freudian slip, referring to the tRump Administration as “this regime.”

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER Senate Grills Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Aired 4:30-5p ET CNN.com – Transcripts

“Sanctions that didn’t exist before this regime took office.” – Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State.

Now, I read the transcript…link above, and honestly…I don’t know what the fuck “regime” Pompeo is talking about; so much bullshit is spewing from his mouth. But if he is indeed referring to tRump…he spoke the words we all know to be true.

I think the following sentiment has been mentioned before:

 

Take a look at this thread, it deals with Stein and Sanders and Tad Devine…and only strengthens my belief in #FuckBernieSanders :

Here is another long thread to check out, about my state…Georgia and the asshole named Kemp currently running for Governor:

A few tweets that continue to question the 2016 elections.

Here are some associations with tRump and his “friends” ….including the folks that perhaps Putin may have wanted to be excluded from sanctions?

Treasury May Drop Sanctions on a Company Owned by One of Putin’s Allies – Mother Jones

The Trump Administration may lift sanctions on a major Russian company founded by one of Vladimir Putin’s top allies.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnunchin told reporters during G-20 meeting of Finance Ministers last week, that the department may remove sanctions on Rusal, an international aluminum company that controls an estimated 6 percent of the global market that has long been controlled by Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska is a Putin confidant who has been implicated in suspected coordination between Moscow and Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, but he has repeatedly denied involvement. As Reuters reported, the department is mulling the move in the wake of a sharp increase in aluminum prices that followed Trump‘s imposition of a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports.

“The objective was to impact the oligarchs, not to impact the hardworking people of Rusal as a result of the sanctions,” Mnunchin told CNN, which reported the comments on Friday.

In April, Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on Deripaska and Rusal, along with 24 other Russians, in a delayed action aimedat punishing Russia for interfering the 2016 election. Under the sanctions, the US assets of the individuals and firms listed are frozen, and American citizens are barred from doing business with them. Deripaska was specifically singled out for “having acted or purported to act for, or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, a senior official of the Government of the Russian Federation.”

Updates on tRump’s crimes against humanity:

The latest on that 6 year old who was assaulted at a detention center…she has been reunited with her family.

A 6-Year-Old Detainee Was Reportedly Made to Sign a Responsibility Form After She Was Allegedly Sexually Abused at a Facility | Teen Vogue

A 6-year-old girl was allegedly sexually abused while at an Arizona-based detention center, The Nation reports. The child, who The Nation refers to as D.L., reportedly left Guatemala with her mother because of gang violence; they were separated at the U.S. border on May 24, as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy. The 6-year-old was then placed in Casa Glendale, a detention center run by Southwest Key Programs.

According to The Nation, D.L.’s father (who lives in California) received a phone call from Southwest Key on June 11, telling him that another child in the detention center had allegedly “fondled” his daughter and other children. Mark Lane, a spokesperson representing D.L.’s family, told The Nation that the 6-year-old’s father was instructed “not to worry” because “Southwest Key was changing some of its protocols and such abuse would not happen again.” (The report notes that several weeks later, D.L.’s father received another phone call, alerting him to a second instance of alleged abuse by the same suspect.)

The Nation also reports that D.L. was asked to sign a form that was part of the detention center’s “intervention protocol.” The form, a copy of which was obtained by The Nation, noted that D.L. was instructed to maintain her “distance from other youth involved,” and that she was made aware it was her “responsibility to maintain appropriate boundaries with peers/workers.” The document also noted that it was D.L.’s “responsibility to report sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and/or inappropriate sexual behavior.”

 

 

Boston Boomer mentioned this yesterday in the comments:

 

But this is really the disgusting part:

How Catholic Bishops Are Shaping Health Care In Rural America | FiveThirtyEight

07_catholic hospitals_GEOGRAPHY 4x3_rev

Almost as soon as President Trump took office, he began rolling back health care rules that had angered religious groups for much of the last decade. First, Trump signed an executive order declaring that his administration would protect religious freedom. Then, his administration ruled that health insurance plans offered by large employers don’t have to cover contraception for employees, an about-face from a contentious Obama policy. The Department of Health and Human Services created a Conscience and Religious Freedom Division, signaling a new focus for the agency. A proposed rule could require all 5,500 hospitals in the U.S. to post notices informing individuals and entities that they are protected from religious discrimination.

The changes are all designed to ensure that employers, health care institutions and providers don’t have to participate in health care practices they object to for ethical or moral reasons. But even decades before the Trump administration moved to roll back Obamacare policies, some religious hospitals — in particular, Catholic hospitals — already had the green light from the government to deny certain treatment options to their patients. These hospitals’ right to refuse care is generally unquestioned, creating a dilemma for the people who walk in the door: What happens when you need or want a standard medical service, but the hospital won’t provide it?

In a growing number of communities around the country, especially in rural areas, patients and physicians have access to just one hospital. And in more and more places, that hospital is Catholic. That sounds innocuous — a hospital is a hospital, after all. But Catholic hospitals are bound by a range of restrictions on care that are determined by religious authorities, with very little input from medical staff. Increasingly, where a patient lives can determine whether Catholic doctrine, and how the local bishop interprets that doctrine, will decide what kind of care she can get.

This is worrying news:

I lit candles for Lewis this morning…I hope he gets better…

 


Lazy Saturday Reads: A Russian Intelligence Asset in the White House

Lazy afternoon, by Arlene Cassidy

Good Afternoon!!

It’s becoming more and more clear that we have a Russian intelligence asset acting as “president” of the U.S. It’s an full-on national emergency, and the Republican-controlled Congress is seemingly determined to brazenly aid a foreign enemy rather than live up to their oaths to “support and defend the Constitution.”

Yesterday the “president” held 30-minute National Security Council meeting supposedly to discuss election security. To show how committed he was to the project, he sent a nonsense tweet about jobs during the meeting. We’re not going to get any help from Trump or the GOP in the fight to save democracy. They’re too busy figuring out ways to suppress the votes of people who aren’t white and stupid.

The Washington Post: Trump chairs election security meeting but gives no new orders to repel Russian interference.

President Trump chaired a meeting Friday of his most senior national security advisers to discuss the administration’s effort to safeguard November’s elections from Russian interference, the first such meeting he’s led on the matter, but issued no new directives to counter or deter the threat.

By Deborah DeWit Marchant

The meeting, which lasted less than an hour, covered all the activities by federal agencies to help state and local election officials, and to investigate and hold accountable Russian hackers seeking to undermine American democracy….

“It was a good meeting,” said one senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe an event that was closed to media coverage. “Everybody was on the same page. We’re doing a lot of good work across the administration.’’

There was no discussion of new actions Trump wants or of a coordinated strategy to prevent Russia from interfering in U.S. politics, officials said. Instead, the meeting focused on the activities undertaken so far.

Read the rest of the article to learn what kinds of defensive strategies government officials other than the “president” have been working on.

From NBC’s Ken Dilanian: Trump admin has no central strategy for election security, and no one’s in charge.

After nearly two years of calling Russian election interference a hoax and its investigation a witch hunt, President Donald Trump on Friday presided over the first National Security Council meeting devoted to defending American democracy from foreign manipulation.

“The President has made it clear that his administration will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections from any nation state or other malicious actors,” the White House said in a statement afterward.

But current and former officials tell NBC News that 19 months into his presidency, there is no coherent Trump administration strategy to combat foreign election interference — and no single person or agency in charge….

Bertha Wegmann – Lesende Frau in einem Innenraum

To be sure, individual government agencies have responded in various ways. The Department of Homeland Security is working with states to improve cyber security in voting systems. The FBI created a “foreign influence task force,” and the Justice Department announced a new policy his month to inform the public about bots and trolls on social media. The National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command are coordinating to counter Russian influence in cyberspace, the general in charge of those agencies has said.

But even members of Trump’s national security cabinet have acknowledged the need for a central, unifying effort — one that experts say is missing. Senior officials have also admitted that the government has failed to take steps necessary to give the Russians second thoughts about intervening in American politics. Trump hasn’t done so, and neither did Barack Obama, whose response to election meddling — expelling diplomats and closing Russian compounds in December 2016 — has been described by some of his own former aides as tepid.

Read more at NBC News.

According to The New York Times, Russia is focusing more on disrupting the U.S. power grid than on the upcoming election.

State-sponsored Russian hackers appear far more interested this year in demonstrating that they can disrupt the American electric utility grid than the midterm elections, according to United States intelligence officials and technology company executives.

By David Hettinger

Despite attempts to infiltrate the online accounts of two Senate Democrats up for re-election, intelligence officials said they have seen little activity by Russian military hackers aimed at either major American political figures or state voter registration systems.

By comparison, according to intelligence officials and executives of the companies that oversee the world’s computer networks, there is surprisingly far more effort directed at implanting malware in the electrical grid.

Do you think Trump will do anything about that?

This week, the Department of Homeland Security reported that over the last year, Russia’s military intelligence agency had infiltrated the control rooms of power plants across the United States. In theory, that could enable it to take control of parts of the grid by remote control.

While the department cited “hundreds of victims” of the attacks, far more than they had previously acknowledged, there is no evidence that the hackers tried to take over the plants, as Russian actors did in Ukraine in 2015 and 2016.

In interviews, American intelligence officials said that the department had understated the scope of the threat. So far the White House has said little about the intrusions other than raise the fear of such breaches to maintain old coal plants in case they are needed to recover from a major attack.

Mikhail Korneevich Anikeev, moments de détente

Somehow I think Russia, with the aid of their asset in the White House will probably find a way to focus more on election hacking as November approaches.

Like his role model, Vladimir Putin, Trump hates the free press, and works tirelessly to thwart the first amendment. The Washington Post reports: Venting about press, Trump has repeatedly sought to ban reporters over questions.

President Trump has sought repeatedly to punish journalists for the way they ask him questions, directing White House staff to ban those reporters from covering official events or to revoke their press credentials, according to several current and former administration officials.

At various moments throughout his presidency, Trump has vented angrily to aides about what he considers disrespectful behavior and impertinent questions from reporters in the Oval Office and in other venues. He has also asked that retaliatory action be taken against them.

“These people shouting questions are the worst,” Trump has said, according to a current official. “Why do we have them in here?”

Until this week, the officials said, Trump’s senior aides have resisted carrying out his directives. They convinced him that moves to restrict media access could backfire and further strain the White House’s fraught relationship with the press corps, whose members the president routinely derides as “fake news” and “dishonest people.”

On Wednesday, however, newly installed Deputy Chief of Staff Bill Shine and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took action against CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins, telling her she could not attend Trump’s open-media event in the Rose Garden because they objected to her questioning of the president earlier in the day.

Read the rest at the Post.

I got some perverse pleasure from reading this piece by Jeff Stein at Newsweek yesterday: How Vladimir Putin Will Take Down Donald Trump When He’s No Longer Useful. According to Russian propaganda expert Julia Davis, the Russians are getting frustrated at Trump’s inability to do the things he promised them. They don’t understand about checks and balances.

By Stojan Milanov

Following the controversial Helsinki summit between the Russian and American presidents, Moscow’s media commentators greeted Trump’s deference toward Putin with a mix of concern, pity and ridicule, none of which could have been uttered without the Kremlin’s approval, says Ukrainian-born Julia Davis, an expert on Russian propaganda.

“They usually get a printout of some kind, about which topics they’re supposed to discuss and what their position is supposed to be,” said Davis, a featured expert at the Atlantic Council’s Disinfo Portal. The state-controlled commentary “is very closely monitored, and they would not take a chance on stepping outside of the line,” she told Newsweek.

The Kremlin, she continued, is “growing very frustrated because there’s so many controls that are being placed on” Trump by Congress, starting with Russian sanctions, upgrades to the U.S. nuclear arsenal and beefed-up military aid to Ukraine, which is under assault by Moscow-backed forces in its eastern Donbas region. And then there are the ongoing investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections by special counsel Robert Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee, independent actions that would be unthinkable in Putin’s Russia….

“They like to talk about him as weak and incompetent and just pretty much a clown,” Davis said of the Moscow analysts before the Cohen disclosure. “They still think he might prove himself to do what he promised him to do. But if he goes down, I expect they would not skip a beat. They would jump in to help finish him off.”

So how would that happen?

Planted, by Karin Jurick

Measures at Putin’s disposal include leaking a mix of real and fabricated details on Trump’s suspected debts to Russian bankers and oligarchs, said Milton Bearden, a legendary former CIA officer who worked against the Soviet target and later co-authored a book, The Main Enemy, with the cooperation of several former KGB officials.

“Putin can continue to plug along with his best friend and watch how tribalism and divisions within American society continue to tear it apart,” Bearden told Newsweek. “However, if things start to quiet down here, Putin can begin to release whatever it is he might have on the president. It can be real information dealing with the money flow from Deutsche Bank, or it can be carefully fabricated information that looks genuine.”

“I can imagine a wide variety of scenarios,” John Sipher, another top former CIA Russia hand, wrote in March, including the Kremlin injecting “stolen or otherwise unverified” or “well-crafted forgeries” into the U.S. media to take down Trump or just fan political chaos in the U.S. Former CIA director John Brennan suspects that the Russians have “something on him personally.”

Such suspicions have gained wider currency in recent weeks, mostly from Democrats. But last year a Russian opposition politician, Vladimir Milov, alleged in an interview with a Russian exile journalist that Moscow’s secret services had been “closely ‘following’ Trump for over 30 years and the dossier they have on him certainly comprises many, many volumes.” In the 1980s, Milov told Russian exile journalist Kseniya Kirillova, “Trump was married to a Czechoslovak woman who spoke Russian, which also offers good conditions for recruitment.”

Read the rest the link. Maybe we have something to look forward to when the time comes.

I’ll add more links in the comment thread, and I hope you’ll do the same.