Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

Having a childish, incompetent madman in charge of the government is so exhausting. How much more of this can we take? Today, Donnie is headed for the Texas border with Mexico to do something or other. Who knows what insane gibberish will spew from his deformed lips. All I know for sure is that it won’t make sense.

Donnie has been touting his “steel slat” fence for the past week, but guess what? Those slats can be cut through with a common household saw.

NBC News: Test of steel prototype for border wall showed it could be sawed through.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly advocated for a steel slat design for his border wall, which he described as “absolutely critical to border security” in his Oval Office address to the nation Tuesday. But Department of Homeland Security testing of a steel slat prototype proved it could be cut through with a saw, according to a report by DHS.

A photo exclusively obtained by NBC News shows the results of the test after military and Border Patrol personnel were instructed to attempt to destroy the barriers with common tools.

The Trump administration directed the construction of eight steel and concrete prototype walls that were built in Otay Mesa, California, just across the border from Tijuana, Mexico. Trump inspected the prototypes in March 2018. He has now settled on a steel slat, or steel bollard, design for the proposed border barrier additions. Steel bollard fencing has been used under previous administrations.

However, testing by DHS in late 2017 showed all eight prototypes, including the steel slats, were vulnerable to breaching, according to an internal February 2018 U.S. Customs and Border Protection report.

Photos of the breaches were not included in a redacted version of the CBP report, which was first obtained in a Freedom of Information Act Request by San Diego public broadcaster KPBS.

Gail Collins mocks Donnie’s wall obsession at The New York Times: Trump Hits the Wall. And what’s all that sniffling about?

We need to look at the bright side of Donald Trump’s border wall fixation.

Sure, he’s shut down the government and thrown the nation into chaos. But it could be worse. He could be demanding a fiery moat between us and Canada. Or building a 36,000-foot-deep barrier across the Pacific Ocean to drive home his commitment to tariffs.

See? There’s always a silver lining.

On Trump’s strange oval office address:

Maybe all this wall obsessing makes Trump tired. He certainly seemed low-energy during his Oval Office address. “He makes Jeb Bush look like a combination of Mighty Mouse and Bruce Springsteen,” a friend of mine said after the president finished his nine-minute speech to the American people.

For every viewer whose response to the talk was “Wow, we should do something about immigration!” there must have been a hundred whose first reaction was “Why does this man keep sniffing?” Deviated septum? Nasal polyps? Trump’s breathing has actually sounded strange for a long time, but most of us have chosen to ignore it rather than engage in a national conversation about the president’s nose.

If you watched the address — and really, you could have, it was only about as long as it takes to microwave popcorn — you saw a 72-year-old guy squinting at the teleprompter and making rather alarming breathing sounds while reading a speech about how we need a wall to protect women who are “sexually assaulted on the dangerous trek up through Mexico.”

This is not a man who should wrap his arguments around the idea of protecting women from sexual assault. But also, gee, he sounded like Uncle Fred who you haven’t seen for a while and suddenly he shows up for Thanksgiving with weird colored hair and vacant eyes and he’s talking into his mashed potatoes.

As the Trump shutdown continues, the administration has been giving tone-deaf advice to government employees who are going without pay.

The Washington Post: Coast Guard families told they can have garage sales to cope with government shutdown.

Employees of the U.S. Coast Guard who are facing a long U.S. government shutdown just received a suggestion: To get by without pay, consider holding a garage sale, babysitting, dog-walking or serving as a “mystery shopper.”

The suggestions were part of a five-page tip sheet published by the Coast Guard Support Program, an employee-assistance arm of the service often known as CG SUPRT. It is designated to offer Coast Guard members help with mental-health issues or other concerns about their lives, including financial wellness.

“Bankruptcy is a last option,” the document said.

The Coast Guard receives funding from the Department of Homeland Security and is subjected to the shuttering of parts of the government along with DHS’s other agencies. That stands in contrast to other military services, which are part of the Defense Department and have funding.

This is interesting, from Buzzfeed News: ICE Might Be Violating Federal Law By Keeping Immigrants Detained During The Shutdown.

A lengthy government shutdown over border wall funding has potentially put Immigration and Customs Enforcement at risk of violating a more than 100-year-old law that could not only require the release of “non-dangerous” individuals in the agency’s custody but also stop it from continuing to arrest and detain certain people, according to former senior ICE officials and experts.

The potential violation could complicate ICE’s operations at a time when President Donald Trump has argued that the shutdown is necessary to force Democrats to implement tougher immigration policies, such as building a wall on the US–Mexico border.

ICE contracts with nonfederal detention facilities, like county jails and private detention contractors, across the country to hold individuals detained by immigration agents. The agency pays for the bed space in various ways, including monthly payments or, in some cases, in advance.

As of Jan. 1, the agency was detaining more than 48,000 individuals, which is 8,000 more than the levels that had been provided for by the now-expired congressional funding. But nearly three weeks after its funding lapsed because of the shutdown, ICE has likely run out of money to pay contractors for the detention space it uses.

And while ICE has some non-appropriated funds it can lean on, those are not enough to pay for the overall detention space for more than a few weeks, said Kevin Landy, who was appointed during the Obama administration to run ICE’s Office of Detention Policy and Planning, a position he held for more than six years, up until 2017.

In other news, Kamala Harris is close to announcing a run for president in 2020.

KCBS Radio: Kamala Harris Ready To Enter Race For President, Sources Say.

Sen. Kamala Harris has decided to run for president in 2020 and will announce her candidacy on or around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, probably at a campaign rally in Oakland, sources close to the freshman senator from California tell KCBS Radio.

Harris, 54, has been making the rounds of television talk shows and appearing at several events this week as part of a brief tour to promote her new book, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey.”

At every stop, when asked about running for president, Harris has answered with some variation of “I’m not ready yet” to announce her decision, citing family considerations. But several sources knowledgeable about her plans say she is ready, and has in fact decided to run, with the enthusiastic blessing of her husband and two stepchildren.

The debate within her camp is how, and where, to launch her campaign. The tentative plan is for Harris to enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination with a campaign rally, most likely in Oakland, where she was born and began her legal career.

And the media continues to belatedly vet Bernie Sanders’ 2016 campaign. Politico: Top Bernie Sanders 2016 adviser accused of forcibly kissing subordinate.

On the final night of the Democratic National Convention in July of 2016, Bernie Sanders’ staffers went out to a Mediterranean restaurant and hookah bar in Center City Philadelphia to celebrate and mourn the end of the campaign.

Sitting at the bar sometime after midnight, convention floor leader Robert Becker—who oversaw Sanders’ Iowa campaign, then helped lead his efforts in Michigan, California, and New York as deputy national field director—began talking with a female staffer who had worked under him along with her boyfriend.

Becker, now 50 years old, told the 20-something woman that he had always wanted to have sex with her and made a reference to riding his “pole,” according to the woman and three other people who witnessed what happened or were told about it shortly afterward by people who did. Later in the night, Becker approached the woman and abruptly grabbed her wrists. Then he moved his hands to her head and forcibly kissed her, putting his tongue in her mouth as he held her, the woman and other sources said.

The woman said she didn’t come forward at the time, because Sanders’ campaign was over. But when she was recently contacted by Becker about 2020 the women felt she had to speak up.

“Candidates who allow people like Robert Becker to lead their organizations shouldn’t earn the highest office in our government,” said the woman, who was granted anonymity because she feared retaliation from supporters of Sanders and Becker, who has a loyal following of his own.

“It just really sucks because no one ever held him accountable and he kept pushing and pushing and seeing how much he could get away with. This can’t happen in 2020. You can’t run for President of the United States unless you acknowledge that every campaign demands a safe work environment for every employee and volunteer.”

 

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Tuesday Reads: Mostly Manafort

Good Morning!!

Lots of news breaking on Paul Manafort after the Mueller filing yesterday informing the court that Manafort lied repeatedly to the FBI after agreeing to a plea deal. The Guardian just released a blockbuster story, although quite several Intelligence experts on Twitter are questioning whether it’s legit.

The Guardian: Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy.

Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort held secret talks with Julian Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and visited around the time he joined Trump’s campaign, the Guardian has been told.

Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016 – during the period when he was made a key figure in Trump’s push for the White House.

It is unclear why Manafort wanted to see Assange and what was discussed. But the last meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

A well-placed source has told the Guardian that Manafort went to see Assange around March 2016. Months later WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers.

Manafort denies the report. More from The Guardian story:

Manafort’s first visit to the embassy took place a year after Assange sought asylum inside, two sources said.

A separate internal document written by Ecuador’s Senain intelligence agency and seen by the Guardian lists “Paul Manaford [sic]” as one of several well-known guests. It also mentions “Russians”.

According to two sources, Manafort returned to the embassy in 2015. He paid another visit in spring 2016, turning up alone, around the time Trump named him as his convention manager. The visit is tentatively dated to March.

Manafort’s 2016 visit to Assange lasted about 40 minutes, one source said, adding that the American was casually dressed when he exited the embassy, wearing sandy-coloured chinos, a cardigan and a light-coloured shirt….

The revelation could shed new light on the sequence of events in the run-up to summer 2016, when WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of emails hacked by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency. Hillary Clinton has said the hack contributed to her defeat.

One expert Twitter skeptic:

I’m sure other reporters are already trying to confirm the Guardian story. A strong argument in favor of the piece is that the primary author is Luke Harding, a writer with excellent sources in Russian in Ukraine. He’s the author of Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win, a terrific book. Natasha Bertrand’s take:

Others are discussing why Manafort would have lied to the Mueller team. It could be he’s betting on a pardon, but more likely he’s terrified of being murdered by Putin and other oligarchs. Here’s something interesting:

Listen to the full podcast at Slate.

The notion that Manafort fears Russian oligarchs more than he fears Mueller and prison makes sense, it fits with this story by Betsy Woodruff from a year ago: Mueller Reveals New Manafort Link to Organized Crime.

Buried deep in Robert Mueller’s indictment of Paul Manafort is a new link between Donald Trump’s former campaign and Russian organized crime.

The indictment (PDF), unsealed on Monday, includes an extensive look into Paul Manafort’s byzantine financial dealings. In particular, it details how he used a company called Lucicle Consultants Limited to wire millions of dollars into the United States.

The Cyprus-based Lucicle Consultants Limited, in turn, reportedly received millions of dollars from a businessman and Ukrainian parliamentarian named Ivan Fursin, who is closely linked to one of Russia’s most notorious criminals: Semion Mogilevich.

Semion Mogilevich in Moscow court, 2008

Mogilevich, who also has ties to Trump, is easily the most powerful man in the Russian mafia.

Mogilevich is frequently described as “the most dangerous mobster in the world.” Currently believed to be safe in Moscow, he is, according to the FBI, responsible for weapons trafficking, contract killings, and international prostitution. In 2009, he made the bureau’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

“Ivan Fursin was a senior figure in the Mogilevich criminal organization,” Taras Kuzio, a non-resident fellow at Johns Hopkins-SAIS’ Center for Transatlantic Relations and a specialist on the region told The Daily Beast.

Martin Sheil, a retired criminal investigator for the IRS, said the indictment, with its connections to Fursin, helps illuminate the murky world Manafort operated in before taking the reins of Trump’s presidential bid.

“This indictment strongly indicates the existence of a previously unknown relationship between an alleged Russian organized crime leader and Mr. Manafort,” Sheil told The Daily Beast.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Trump is freaking out this morning, tweeting insane attacks on Mueller.

This post at Alternet summarizes some of Marcy Wheeler’s recent arguments about Manafort and Mueller: This reporter argues that Trump used Manafort as a ‘mole’ inside Mueller’s investigation — but it just blew up in their faces.

Marcy Wheeler, one of most astute Mueller watchers who once provided as yet undisclosed information to the FBI about the investigation, argued compellingly that Manafort has been acting as a mole within the investigation for President Donald Trump. Even more intriguingly, though, she believes Mueller knew this and may have used Manafort against the president.

Marcy Wheeler

The only sane reason, she claimed in a new blog post, that Manafort would lie to Mueller even after taking a plea deal, is that he’s banking on a pardon from Trump, which would, in any case, cover only federal and not state crimes.

“Just about the only explanation for Manafort’s actions are that — as I suggested — Trump was happy to have Manafort serve as a mole in Mueller’s investigation,” she wrote.

If this is right, it could be devastating for Trump. He finally turned in his answers to the special counsel’s investigation last week — and he may have relied on Manafort’s “insider knowledge.”

“But Mueller’s team appears to have no doubt that Manafort was lying to them,” Wheeler explained. “That means they didn’t really need his testimony, at all. It also means they had no need to keep secrets — they could keep giving Manafort the impression that he was pulling a fast one over the prosecutors, all while reporting misleading information to Trump that he could use to fill out his open book test. Which increases the likelihood that Trump just submitted sworn answers to those questions full of lies.”

There are several reasons Wheeler’s argument is compelling. First, as she previously noted, Manafort’s plea agreement did not include a provision to limit him from speaking with outside parties about the investigations, even though Rick Gates, Manafort’s deputy who also pleaded guilty in the probe, was forced to agree to such a provision. For some reason, Mueller wasn’t worried about Manafort’s lawyers communicating with Trump — which he has been doing.

Click the link to read the rest.

I wonder how long his lawyers will be able to prevent Trump from pardoning Manafort?

A couple of other stories, one recent and very disturbing and one historical.

The Daily Beast: Trans Woman Was Beaten in ICE Custody Before Death, Autopsy Finds.

Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez

Roxsana Hernández Rodriguez, 33, a transgender woman from Honduras, died on May 25, nine days after being transferred to a dedicated unit for transgender women at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico, which is operated under contract by CoreCivic, the second-largest private prison company in the United States.

“There she developed severe diarrhea and vomiting over the course of several days,” wrote forensic pathologist Kris Sperry, “and finally was emergently hospitalized, then transported to Lovelace Medical Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she remained critically ill until her death.” [….]

The autopsy concluded that Hernández Rodriguez’s cause of death was most likely “severe complications of dehydration superimposed upon HIV infection,” which made her susceptible to the physiologic effects of untreated dehydration.

“According to observations of other detainees who were with Ms. Hernández Rodriguez, the diarrhea and vomiting episodes persisted over multiple days with no medical evaluation or treatment, until she was gravely ill,” Sperry wrote.

Sperry’s autopsy, the second conducted on Hernández Rodriguez’s body following her death, also found evidence of physical abuse, with “deep bruising” on her hands and abdomen, evidence of blunt-force trauma “indicative of blows, and/or kicks, and possible strikes with blunt object.” An accompanying diagram illustrated long, thin bruises along Hernández Rodriguez’s back and sides, as well as extensive hemorrhaging on Hernández Rodriguez’s right and left wrists, which Dr. Sperry found were “typical of handcuff injuries.”

Horrifying. I’m sure we’ll being hearing many shocking stories about ICE abuses in the coming months and years.

Michael Isakoff at Yahoo News: In the closet in the White House: The tortured history of the gay man who touched off the purge of gays in government.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, left, and Robert Cutler, his special assistant for national security affairs. Photo by Joseph Scherschel, the Life Picture Collection, Getty Images

In the annals of presidential directives, few were more chilling than a document signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in April 1953. Crafted during the height of the Cold War, Executive Order 10450 declared that alongside Communism, “sexual perversion” by government officials was a threat to national security. The order became the trigger for a massive purge of the federal workforce. In the years that followed, thousands of government employees were investigated and fired for the “crime” of being gay.

The full story of Executive Order 10450 and its terrible consequences has only started to surface in more recent years as a result of books like “The Lavender Scare” and films like “Uniquely Nasty,” a 2015 Yahoo News documentary that this reporter co-wrote and directed. But it turns out there was an untold personal drama behind the making of the anti-gay White House order — a saga that is recounted for the first time in a new book to be published next week, “Ike’s Mystery Man: The Secret Lives of Robert Cutler.”

Written by Peter Shinkle, a former reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it tells the life story of the author’s great uncle, a central character in the creation of Executive Order 10450. A blue blood liberal Republican from a prominent Boston family, a Harvard graduate and member of the elite Porcellian Club, a wealthy banker and U.S. Army general during World War II, Robert “Bobby” Cutler Jr. became a close adviser to Eisenhower during his 1952 presidential campaign. He then was tapped by Ike to serve as White House special assistant for national security affairs, the forerunner to the position of national security adviser.

In that post, Cutler, who prided himself on never talking to the press, was a pivotal figure, helping to direct U.S. foreign policy during an era of tense global confrontation with the Soviet Union. And it was Cutler who oversaw the drafting of Executive Order 10450 — a role all the more remarkable because, as Shinkle reveals, Cutler was a gay man who secretly pursued a passionate, yearslong relationship with a young naval intelligence officer on the national security council staff.

Please go read the whole thing. It’s fascinating.

That’s it for me today. What stories are you following?


Lazy Saturday Reads: Trump’s Monstrous Family Separation Policy

Good Morning!!

The pain of the thousands of children and parents who have been separated at the border on orders from Trump and Sessions is on my mind every day, all day long now. Even soulless Trump has some distant sense that his fascism may be too out in the open now, because he’s trying to blame Democrats for his cruelty. Can you believe he actually had this claim posted on the White House web page? It’s followed by a list of people harmed by illegal immigrants. How does that justify punishing children?

Today The Intercept posted a video showing that refugees are being turned back from the border and told they can’t apply for refugee status because there’s no room for them in the United States.

Anyone who still supports Trump is complicit in the evil he is perpetrating on desperate people and the shame he is bringing down on our country.

Trump is on twitter this morning claiming he’s not responsible for the family separations he ordered. But Jeff Sessions isn’t hiding how much he loves this policy, and John Kelly endorsed it long ago. In fact, he suggested doing this when he was head of Homeland Security. Remember his NPR interview last month?

Are you in favor of this new move announced by the attorney general early this week that if you cross the border illegally even if you’re a mother with your children [we’re going] to arrest you? We’re going to prosecute you, we’re going to send your kids to a juvenile shelter?

The name of the game to a large degree. Let me step back and tell you that the vast majority of the people that move illegally into United States are not bad people. They’re not criminals. They’re not MS-13. Some of them are not. But they’re also not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society. They’re overwhelmingly rural people in the countries they come from – fourth, fifth, sixth grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English, obviously that’s a big thing. They don’t speak English. They don’t integrate well, they don’t have skills. They’re not bad people. They’re coming here for a reason. And I sympathize with the reason. But the laws are the laws. But a big name of the game is deterrence.

John Kelly is a monster.

Family separation stands as a pretty tough deterrent.

It could be a tough deterrent — would be a tough deterrent. A much faster turnaround on asylum seekers.

Even though people say that’s cruel and heartless to take a mother away from her children?

I wouldn’t put it quite that way. The children will be taken care of — put into foster care or whatever. But the big point is they elected to come illegally into the United States and this is a technique that no one hopes will be used extensively or for very long.

“Foster care or whatever.” Kelly is another monster among monsters.

Please read this Twitter thread by a man who was separated from his father at age 4 and put in a group home. He describes the behavior of traumatized children and how they are punished for acting out. Other people share their stories in the thread too.

The LA Times talked to a man who resigned in disgust from one of the places where children are being warehoused: ‘Prison-like’ migrant youth shelter is understaffed, unequipped for Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, insider says.

Colleagues at a government-contracted shelter in Arizona had a specific request for Antar Davidson when three Brazilian migrant children arrived: “Tell them they can’t hug.”

Davidson, 32, is of Brazilian descent and speaks Portuguese. He said the siblings — ages 16, 10 and 6 — were distraught after being separated from their parents at the border. The children were “huddled together, tears streaming down their faces,” he said.

Officials had told them their parents were “lost,” which they interpreted to mean dead. Davidson said he told the children he didn’t know where their parents were, but that they had to be strong.

“The 16-year-old, he looks at me and says, ‘How?’” Davidson said. As he watched the youth cry, he thought, “This is not healthy.”

Antar Davidson

Davidson quit this week after being a youth care worker at the Tucson shelter, Estrella del Norte, for just a few months. He decided to speak out about his experiences there in hopes of improving a system often shielded from public scrutiny. His comments in a telephone interview offer a rare look into the operation of a migrant shelter.

Davidson said he became disillusioned after the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy began sending the shelter not only children who had crossed the border unaccompanied by adults, but also those separated from their parents.

The caseload is straining a facility he described as understaffed and unequipped to deal with children experiencing trauma, such as the three Brazilians. During his time at the shelter, children were running away, screaming, throwing furniture and attempting suicide, Davidson said. Several were being monitored this week because they were at risk of running away, self-harm and suicide, records show.

Read the rest at the link above.

At the Philadelphia Inquirer, Will Bunch writes: Abolishing ICE is the radical idea America needs to be talking about.

After all the stories and viral videos — the screaming mom dragged away from her horrified young children, the 10-year-old with cerebral palsy who got busted in her ambulance after emergency surgery, the pillars of their local communities who showed for a routine check-up and ended up in detention, the stepped-up raids, and all the arrests in courtrooms, outside schoolhouse doors, and behind churches — Americans are right to wonder if our out-of-control immigration cops have any limits at all.

Amazingly, they do. When it came out a couple of weeks ago that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was on the brink of deporting the wife of an Army Special Forces veteran — planning to send her back to Honduras, where drug dealers might seek violent revenge for her husband’s past drug-interdiction work there with the U.S. military — the public outcry was so great that even this tone-deaf federal agency backed down, for once.

Before the Trump administration took office in January 2016, the notion that military wife Elia Crawford would be deported by the United States would have been a total non-starter. Attorneys with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security used to routinely find ways to keep military spouses and family members in the country — one of a hodge-podge of practices that, although wildly imperfect, sought to bring some common sense to America’s muddled immigration policy. But then our treatment of the undocumented and their family members, backsliding in many ways now for two decades, fell off a moral cliff with the arrival of Trump and his minions. That means it’s now typically full-steam ahead for any and all deportation orders, regardless of who gets hurt.

The conduct of ICE and its first cousin, the Border Patrol, has been arguably the darkest moral stain on the sometimes comical but too often diabolical Trump era. And yet these one-off individual outrages — the Indonesian who led Superstorm Sandy rebuilding efforts who took refuge in a church to avoid ICE, or Philadelphia’s Carmelo Apolonio Hernandez, the mother of four that ICE wants to send back to the Mexican town where her relatives were killed by drug lords — have a hard time breaking through the bubble, amid the mass chaos of our 45th president. But now we have actual numbers to tell the sorry state of our current Deportation Nation.

In the first year of Trump’s presidency, we now know, immigration arrests and detentions spiked by a whopping one-third over 2016 — proof that the president has kept has his campaign promise for a “deportation force,” merely by “taking the shackles off” the ready and willing team he already had in place, ICE. What’s more, the biggest driver of this increase has been the seizure of undocumented immigrants with no criminal record, which has doubled under the Trump administration.

Please go to the link to read the rest.

One more, and then I need to to take some deep breaths and try to calm down.

NPR: Doctors Concerned About ‘Irreparable Harm’ To Separated Migrant Children.

In South Texas, pediatricians started sounding the alarm weeks ago as migrant shelters began filling up with younger children separated from their parents after they crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

The concerned pediatricians contacted Colleen Kraft, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and she flew to Texas and visited a shelter for migrant children in the Rio Grande Valley. There, she saw a young girl in tears. “She couldn’t have been more than 2 years old,” Kraft says. “Just crying and pounding and having a huge, huge temper tantrum. This child was just screaming, and nobody could help her. And we know why she was crying. She didn’t have her mother. She didn’t have her parent who could soothe her and take care of her.”

The number of migrant children in U.S. government custody is soaring — partly the result of a policy decision by the Trump administration to separate children from their parents who are being prosecuted for unlawful entry. Hundreds of the children being held in shelters are under age 13.

Medical professionals, members of Congress and religious leaders are calling on the Trump administration to stop separating migrant families. They question whether these shelter facilities are appropriate for younger children….

Pediatricians and immigrant advocates are warning that separating migrant children from their families can cause “toxic stress” that disrupts a child’s brain development and harms long-term health.

At the facility in South Texas, Kraft says, the staff told her that federal regulations prevented them from touching or holding the child to soothe her.

While shelter managers and other experts say there is no such rule, Kraft says the confusion underscores why these shelters are not the right place for young children — especially kids who have fled dangerous countries and who have just been separated from their parents. “By separating parents and children, we are doing irreparable harm to these children. The long-term concern of what we call toxic stress is that brains are not developed efficiently or effectively,” Kraft says. “And these children go on to have behavior problems, to have long-term medical problems.”

I suppose Trump would be happy about this, because some of these kids might grow up to commit crimes that he can highlight in his Hitler-style rallies and on the White House website.

What stories are you following today?


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

Here’s some good news for a change: a judge in the Southern District of California will allow a lawsuit by the ACLU challenging the Trump administration policy of separating parents and children at the border to go forward.

Bloomberg: Judge Calls Trump’s Border Separations of Children ‘Brutal.’

The Trump administration failed to kill a legal challenge to its practice of separating undocumented parents and children who seek to enter the U.S. to flee persecution at home, with a judge handing an early victory to civil rights activists who say the policy is unconstitutional and cruel.

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in San Diego on Wednesday denied a motion to dismiss the suit, in which the American Civil Liberties Union argues that splitting up families at the border violates their due process rights.

The practice, spearheaded by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, caused widespread outrage after images of children in detention centers circulated on social media. The government argues separations are necessary to properly prosecute adults who cross into the U.S. illegally, while activists say children are being used as pawns in an informal policy intended to deter migrants.

“These allegations sufficiently describe government conduct that arbitrarily tears at the sacred bond between parent and child,” the judge wrote. The conduct, if true, “is brutal, offensive, and fails to comport with traditional notions of fair play and decency.” [….]

Sabraw said the ACLU’s claims are particularly troubling because the plaintiffs in the case had allegedly come to the U.S. seeking asylum out of fear for their well-being in their home countries. The suit applies to migrants who formally present themselves at ports of entry as political refugees as well as those who seek asylum after they are apprehended during illegal border crossings.

“The government actors responsible for the ‘care and custody’ of migrant children have, in fact, become their persecutors,” the judge said.

Read more at the link. The entire filing can be read here.

More good news: a new NBC/WSJ poll found that voters are much more likely to support candidates who stand up to Trump.

NBC News: Poll: Economic satisfaction under Trump isn’t helping his party’s 2018 chances.

By a whopping 25-point margin, voters say they’re more likely to back a congressional candidate who promises to serve as a check on President Donald Trump, according to a new national poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal.

And by a similar margin, they say they’re less likely to vote for someone who has supported the president on most issues.

At the same time, six-in-10 are satisfied with the U.S. economy, and a plurality of voters give Trump credit for the economic improvement.

Despite that economic optimism, however, the poll shows that Democrats enjoy a 10-point advantage on congressional preference, with 50 percent of registered voters wanting a Democratic-controlled Congress, versus 40 percent who want a GOP-controlled one.

Now if national Democrats would just wake up and realize that standing up to Trump is the best mid-term strategy!

The summit with North Korea is coming up next week, but Trump isn’t listening to advice from experts on how to proceed, according to Politico: Trump and Bolton spurn top-level North Korea planning.

National Security Adviser John Bolton has yet to convene a Cabinet-level meeting to discuss President Donald Trump’s upcoming summit with North Korea next week, a striking break from past practice that suggests the Trump White House is largely improvising its approach to the unprecedented nuclear talks.

For decades, top presidential advisers have used a methodical process to hash out national security issues before offering the president a menu of options for key decisions. On an issue like North Korea, that would mean White House Situation Room gatherings of the secretaries of state and defense along with top intelligence officials, the United Nations ambassador, and even the treasury secretary, who oversees economic sanctions.

But since Trump agreed on a whim to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un on March 8, the White House’s summit planning has been unstructured, according to a half-dozen administration officials. Trump himself has driven the preparation almost exclusively on his own, consulting little with his national security team outside of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Senior officials from both the Barack Obama and George W. Bush administrations called the absence of a formal interagency process before such a consequential meeting troubling. Peter Feaver, a former National Security Council (NSC) official in the George W. Bush White House, said his colleagues would likely have held “quite a few” meetings of the so-called Principals Committee of Cabinet-level NSC members in a comparable situation. A former top Obama White House official echoed that point, calling the lack of top-level NSC meetings “shocking.”

Trump has also not presided personally over a meeting of those senior NSC officials, as a president typically does when making the most important decisions.

On the other hand, Trump has given serious thought to whether he should invite Kim Jong Un to play golf with him in Florida if the summit goes well. The Daily Beast reports:

Trump has floated hitting the links with his counterpart as he considers a secondary charm offensive to complement the diplomatic tête-à-tête. The president has already told those close to him and advisers that he is open to inviting Kim to a follow-up summit at Trump’s famous Mar-a-Lago estate and private club in Palm Beach, Florida, as Bloomberg first reported this week.

And, according to two administration officials, Trump has also raised the possibility of a leisurely activity and, perhaps, getting in 18 holes with Kim if the two end up getting along.

“He has also discussed [possibly] golfing with Kim,” a senior Trump administration official said.

It is unclear if such an outing would or could occur during a potential follow-up meeting or the one planned, then canceled, then planned again for Singapore. The site of the upcoming Singapore talks, a five-star hotel on Sentosa Island, is located near a theme park, resorts, and—as luck would have it—multiple golf courses.

The article says no one actually know if Kim even plays golf.

I suppose Kim would agree with Trump on this though. At The Washington Post, Josh Rogin writes that Trump still wants to pull U.S. troops out of South Korea.

For almost two years, President Trump has been talking about withdrawing large numbers of U.S. troops from South Korea, where there are currently around 28,000 stationed. The president’s advisers have repeatedly argued against a large-scale reduction, but he remains unpersuaded. And after his upcoming meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump will have another big chance to push the issue.

Less publicly, but still privately, Trump continues to say he doesn’t agree with the argument that U.S. troops in South Korea are strategically necessary, and he thinks the United States gets nothing back from paying to keep them there, according to administration officials and people who have spoken to Trump directly about the issue. He often asks his generals to explain the rationale for America’s deployments in Asia and expresses dissatisfaction with their answers.

At Trump’s direction, the Pentagon has taken a hard line in ongoing negotiations with the South Korean government over a new cost-sharing agreement for U.S. troops there. If those negotiations fail, Trump could have another excuse to move forward with large reductions….

Inside the administration, top officials have been trying — and failing — to convince the president of the strategic value of the South Korea-based troops since the beginning of his administration. In February, Chief of Staff John F. Kelly reportedly talked Trump down from starting a withdrawal.

Trump has picked fights with most of our allies at this point. Now he’s whining about having to to the Canada on Friday because he’s mad at Justin Trudeau.

The president has vented privately about Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as their trade tensions have spilled into public view. He has mused about finding new ways to punish the United States’ northern neighbor in recent days, frustrated with the country’s retaliatory trade moves.

And Trump has complained to aides about spending two days in Canada for a summit of world leaders, believing the trip is a distraction from his upcoming Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to three people familiar with Trump’s views.

In particular, the president said Tuesday to several advisers that he fears attending the Group of Seven summit in rural Charlevoix, Quebec, may not be a good use of his time because he is diametrically opposed on many key issues with his counterparts — and does not want to be lectured by them.

Additionally, Trump has griped periodically both about German Chancellor Angela Merkel — largely because they disagree on many issues and have had an uneasy rapport — as well as British Prime Minister Theresa May, whom he sees as too politically correct, advisers say.

Awwww . . . poor baby. BTW, have you heard that State Department spokesperson and former Fox and Friends host Heather Nauert thinks Germany was our ally during World War II? Rachel Maddow discussed this at the beginning of her show last night.

Please watch the video–even if you already saw it last night. These are the people who are running our foreign policy!

Politico reports that many foreign leaders are beginning to wake up to Trump’s insanity: Foreign leaders who embraced Trump now feel burned.

Trump calls Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who visits the White House Thursday, his “good friend.” French president Emmanuel Macron is a “great friend.” And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a “great friend, neighbor, and ally.” All have sought to butter up Trump through friendly face time, recognizing that the quickest way to the president’s heart is through his ego.

But all, to varying degrees, are exasperated with Trump.

The president is moving ahead with a June 12 summit with North Korea despite Abe’s grave concerns about its wisdom. He has also threatened to slap tariffs on imported Japanese cars and metals. It’s hardly what Abe expected when he became the first foreign leader to meet with Trump after the November election or when he flew with Trump on Air Force One in February 2017 for golfing at his Mar a Lago resort.

Macron treated Trump to a military parade in Paris last summer. He and Trump also exchanged hugs and handshakes during an April visit by the French leader, during which Trump said of his guest: “He is perfect.” But a few weeks later, Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal despite French pleas, and shows no sign of heeding Macron’s request that he rejoin the Paris climate accords, which Trump rejected last year.

Trump has also threatened trade sanctions on the European Union, and is already slapping them on Canada — prompting Trudeau to call Trump’s tariffs on steel imports “insulting and unacceptable.” That’s a change of tune from the early months of Trump’s presidency, when Trudeau avoided criticizing Trump, and even took Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner to a Broadway play in March 2017.

All have paid a domestic political price back home for their efforts to make nice with a highly divisive U.S. president. One French parliamentarian fumed after Macron’s visit that France had “prostituted” and “humiliated” itself.

Angela Merkel knew who she was dealing with from day one, evidence that we need more women in leadership positions around the world.

That’s it for me today. What stories have you been following?


Another Update to the Ever-Expanding Boston Bombing Story

Ibragim Todashev and Reni Manukyan

Ibragim Todashev and Reni Manukyan

I thought I should put up another update, because there has been a lot more walking back of the reports that came out yesterday, not only about whether Ibragim Todashev was holding a knife when he supposedly “lunged” at an FBI agent, but also whether Todashev had even been questioned about involvement in the 2011 triple murder in Waltham MA with which Massachusetts officials have been trying to connect Tamerlan and Dzhokhor Tsarnaev.

This morning The Wall Street Journal reported that Reni Manukyan who is married to Ibragim Todashev–the man who was shot while being interrogated by several law enforcement officers in Orlando, Fl early yesterday–claim neither she nor her husband were ever asked about the murders.

Reni Manukyan, a 24-year-old assistant hotel-housekeeping manager who married Ibragim Todashev at a mosque near Boston in July 2010, says agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrived at her house in Atlanta and her mom’s house in Savannah, Ga., on Tuesday night, the same time they started questioning her late husband at his home in Orlando.

Ms. Manukyan says the FBI agents who came to her house asked about alleged Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, whom she says her husband met after moving to the Boston area from Russia in 2008.

But she says the agents never asked about a Sept. 11, 2011, murder in Waltham, Mass., in which three victims—25-year-old Brendan Mess, 31-year-old Erik Weissman and 37-year-old Raphael Teken—were found dead with their throats slit and bodies covered in marijuana and cash….

“They never, ever—in all the interviews that I had and all the interviews that he had—never did they mention anything about a murder,” Ms. Manukyan said in a telephone interview. “Everything was about the bombing and about him knowing Tamerlan. They would show me a picture of Tamerlan or Tamerlan’s wife or some other guys that I haven’t a clue who they are, but nothing about a murder—nothing ever.”

She says that agent question her several times as they did her husband, and that he couldn’t have been involved in the murders since he doesn’t drink or use drugs of any kind. She doesn’t even think he was in Boston in September of 2011.

Khusen Taramov

Khusen Taramov

The Boston Globe also has a story that walks back a number of yesterday’s reported leaks from investigators. According to the Globe, Todashev’s close friend and former roommate Khusen Taramov also claims Todarov was never questioned about the Waltham murders. He

said the two had been interviewed many times by FBI agents, and had been followed for weeks by an unmarked law enforcement vehicle since the Marathon bombings.

Taramov, a fellow Chechen and immigrant from Russia, said his slain friend had been called almost daily by agents since the bombings, but Todashev had been assured that the Tuesday night interview would be the final one.

“They told us they needed just one more interview,” he said. “They said the case was closed after this.”

Fearful it would make them look suspicious, neither he nor Todashev had a lawyer present during the FBI questioning, Taramov said.

Taramov, who said he had spent nearly every moment with Todashev since the bombing, insisted that his friend had never been asked about the triple slaying in Waltham.

“We told each other everything, everything,” Taramov said. “He never said anything about any murder and they never asked him anything about that. Just about the bombings and [Tamerlan] Tsarnaev.”

Manukyan and Taramov both say that Todashev did not have radical beliefs. He was just a normal Muslim. So what the heck is going on here?

At the Atlantic, Alexander Abad-Santos does a very good job of tracing down yesterday’s reports on whether Todashev had a knife before he was shot and whether he was questioned about and/or admitted to the Waltham murders and where these reports originated. Abad Santos writes:

A confession would have solved the triple homicide, and it would have cemented Tsarnaev’s role in that crime. Since reading Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his miranda rights, investigators haven’t been able to extract information about the Tsarnaevs as freely as they’d like — or at least it hasn’t spilled out in public as much as the people of Boston would like to hear. A confession might have been a big piece in the puzzle of the Tsarnaev brothers. Instead, we’re left with a Jack Bauer-style tale of secret confessions turned deadly, with more questions than answers.

What’s perhaps more puzzling is that the story doesn’t seem to add up: What new piece of information makes a guy who has been cooperating with FBI agents for the last month or so turn on them? Could the seizure of the computer have led to more revelations? Could the threat of jail time have dawned on him? And even more macabre, one of Todashev’s friends told NBC Orlando that he had been questioned with Todashev by agents on Tuesday night — and that Todashev felt like he was going to die. “He felt inside he was going to get shot,” Khusen Taramiv said. “I told him, ‘Everything is going to be fine, don’t worry about it.’ He said, ‘I have a really bad feeling.'”

article-todashev-0522

Jerelyn at Talk Left also breaks down the various reports and speculates about what might have happened. She also calls attention to another bit of information–that Todashev had a girlfriend named Tatiana Gruzdeva (this may be her Facebook page), and she was arrested by ICE on May 16 and is currently in custody for immigration violations.

Anyone with a shred of empathy could certainly understand why someone who has been shadowed by the FBI for the past month, interrogated repeatedly for hours, and then accused of murder–plus his girlfriend has been turned over to immigration authorities (a common FBI tactic to get information)–might get angry and perhaps make a sudden move. But did he really have to die when there were at least four law enforcement officers in the room with him at the time?

Jerelyn:

FBI interviews aren’t usually recorded. I doubt we’ll ever know what transpired during the interview. We’ll only get self-serving statements by law enforcement that justify their actions.

That some of these law enforcement officials use the words “implicated himself” as opposed to “confessed” in relation to the killings doesn’t mean Todashev acknowledged a role in the killings. If he was in Boston, it could mean something as little as Tamerlan called him that night and asked him to pick him up and give him a ride, or that Tamerlan later gave him some items that would link Tamerlan to the killings. Since Tamerlan is dead, he can’t defend himself against the murder charges law enforcement seems determined to attach to him. (Neither can Todashev.) Even if they find Tamerlan’s DNA at the home of the murdered men, it doesn’t mean he was involved in the murder. Since Tamerlan and one of the victims were good friends, if the DNA is just found somewhere in the home or on clothes or a drinking cup, it could have been deposited prior to the day of the killings.

I am not buying the unconfirmed report that he suddenly went beserk when asked to sign a written confession. Or that he confessed to the murders. He may have said something that the agents believed to be incriminating, but that doesn’t mean Todashev intended it that way or agreed with their interpretation.

I don’t doubt that he “got volatile” at the end — FBI agents don’t execute people for no reason. (Whether the shooting was an overreaction is another question.) But as to what set him off, it could be that after whatever he said that the agent thought was incriminating, the agent told him he was being arrested for the murders, and he reacted angrily because he believed he was being unjustly accused.

There’s more. You can read it at the link.

At this point, all we know for sure is that a witness with valuable information about Tamerlan Tsarnaev is dead. We don’t know who killed him or even whether more than one of the officers present shot him. A team of FBI agents will determine if the shooting was justified, but most likely they’ll find a way to absolve their fellow officers.


SDB Evening News Reads 010512: Insane? Is it just a state of mind?

Good Evening!

The have caught a suspect in Florida in connection with the abortion clinic that burned down in an arson fire last week. Florida – Man Held After Fire at Abortion Clinic

The authorities arrested a man on Thursday on federal charges of setting a fire on Sunday that gutted a Pensacola abortion clinic that has faced violence in the past. Bobby Joe Rogers, 41, of was being held at the Escambia County Jail, the authorities said. Investigators said tips from the community led to the arrest. In an affidavit, prosecutors said he told investigators that he made a fire bomb and threw it at the clinic early Sunday. Mr. Rogers said he was pushed to action after he saw a young woman enter the clinic for an abortion while he was standing outside the clinic with a group of protesters recently, it said. The same clinic was bombed on Christmas Day in 1984, and in 1994 a doctor and a volunteer were shot to death as they arrived.

Makes me think of the last episode of the new Beavis and Butt-Head series… Whorehouse / Going Down

Oh, just seeing these “whores…fornicators” walking into a clinic “pushed” this guy to commit a federal crime. Is this the makings of an insanity plea?

Speaking of the insane, you may remember that Breivik, the Norwegian man who committed that mass murder last year, was found to be insane by a court hearing. Well, now it seems that decision/finding has been overturned. Doctors overturn Breivik insane ruling

Psychiatrists who are monitoring Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik say that he is not psychotic, contradicting an earlier diagnosis by experts.

A court filing by the public prosecutor said four experts at Ila Prison in Oslo had not observed any signs that Breivik was insane.

It was also revealed that he was not receiving any medication and the prison had not seen any need to move him to another facility. An earlier evaluation by two court-appointed psychiatrists described him as living in a “delusional universe” – a paranoid schizophrenic who had lost touch with reality.

Lawyers representing victims of last Juky’s massacre, when Breivik left 77 people dead, demanded the Oslo District Court order a second evaluation. But prosecutor Svein Holden yesterday said he has no plans to do so, fearing Breivik could manipulate new experts.

Wow…imagine this guy manipulating the doctors into finding him insane….or is he manipulating the experts into thinking he is sane. Sometimes when I read these articles, I find myself having to read them over again.

Sticking with the question of sanity, Santorum has Raked In $2 Million In Two Days

Enjoying a wave of momentum from his near-win in the Iowa caucuses, Rick Santorum’s campaign is raising money faster than ever before. Donors have added $2 million to his campaign’s war chest in the last 48 hours alone.

And a Santorum aide tells ABC News that in the space of 10 hours — between midnight Thursday and 10 a.m. — the campaign took in $250,000 of that $2 million total. The quarter-million figure total represents online contributions only.

Other than the obvious wingnuts, who would send this guy any money? 2 million…that figure is staggering. There are some mighty rich PLUBs out there, and you know that none of them would be willing to raise that much money to help teenage mothers…

Which reminds me, yesterday I wrote about the young teenager that was “mistakenly” deported to Columbia. I posted an update in the comments but I just wanted to bring it to the front page: Teenager Mistakenly Deported To Colombia

She is pregnant…and still being held by Columbia, but what is worse…the news and media are blaming the child.

Now she is pregnant, being held in a detention facility in Bogotá. God knows what has happened to that child after she was deported and now, but whatever it is, it shouldn’t ever have happened. ICE likes to brag about their numbers and say they’re deporting criminals and repeat offenders, but it seems that they’re a bit sloppy about how they’re doing it. They fingerprinted this child, for heavens’ sake! How hard would it have been to compare her fingerprints to those of the person whose name she used before sending her out of the country? I wonder if they ever thought the absence of a Columbian accent would have been a clue? Evidently not.

Even if the Houston police screwed up, and I believe they did, the responsibility and ultimate screwup sits firmly with this administration’s immigration authorities. An apology and restitution is the least they should do.

Step up, DHS. Get this girl home. Now.

Update: CNN just ran this report at 9 AM this morning. Note how the entire story is being twisted now to blame the victim. It’s HER fault she’s in Colombia. Somehow she plotted to use someone’s name who was never in the ICE system? According to CNN, she jacked the whole system to get from Texas to Colombia. They can’t imagine why, of course, but it’s clearly this 14-year old (now 15) African-American teenager’s fault that she is being held in the system in Colombia after being deported from this country.

Lavandera makes her sound like some kind of drug dealer:

So basically, what we know so far is this 14-year old girl — 15 now — was able to fool local authorities, also the ICE agents and ICE officials and the immigration process and on top of that the Colombian government to get the necessary paperwork to get deported back into Colombia without any of her own identification.

[…]

…and then at the point of being deported, at the very last minute, why not raise her hand and say “whoa whoa whoa I’m not who I’ve been saying I am.” They don’t understand that.

[…]

The big story here is that this girl has fooled many people on many different levels and it’s absolutely bizarre.

Here’s what I think is bizarre. That a CNN reporter who admits to not having all the facts ready or at his fingertips thinks it’s just fine to go on national television and trash a 14-year old girl who might — MIGHT — have had a student identification card as her sole ID. If she ran away, she could easily have been victimized by human traffickers who told her to use that name if she were arrested. Who knows? None of us know right now. What we DO know is that a 14-year old girl who is a United States citizen was deported. That’s what we know, and Lavandera’s effort to paint her as some kind of con artist was unwarranted and simply victimizes her all over again.

It was a reprehensible report and one that seems to have had ICE agents’ fingerprints on it in an effort to cover their own behinds. Really, we can do better than this.

According to the local TV station that broke the news:

Thursday afternoon, the family had a conference call with members of the National NAACP, congressional Black Caucus leaders and her attorney. They are all demanding the U.S. Embassy gets a chance to visit Jakadrien where she is being held, and to allow her to call her family, which the Colombian government has refused to do.

“I’m looking forward to that,” Turner said. “I just want to hear my baby’s voice.”

The biggest question now is how all this happened – something civil rights leaders are also asking.

Earlier today The Boston Globe endorsed Jon Huntsman for GOP nominee. For vision and national unity, Huntsman for GOP nominee – Editorials – The Boston Globe

Most of the editorial is bashing Romney…looks like Boston Boomer isn’t the only one who really doesn’t want a Romney presidency.

And for your last link of the night, Cosmic Log – What mystifies Dr. Hawking? Women

As famed physicist Stephen Hawking turns 70, the subject that most occupies his thoughts is not how the universe arose from nothing, or how he’s been able to live with neurodegenerative disease for so long. Here’s what he thinks about most: “Women. They are a complete mystery.”

That’s the bottom line from New Scientist’s interview with Hawking, timed to coincide with this weekend’s birthday celebration at Cambridge. The theorist is almost completely paralyzed due to his decades-long struggle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, and had to provide his answers by laboriously twitching his cheek to operate a computerized speech-translation system.

Hawking also listed what he saw as his “biggest blunder in science” (his now-repudiated insistence that information was destroyed in black holes), the most exciting development in physics during his career (the discovery of the big bang’s imprint in cosmic microwave radiation) and the potential discovery that would do the most to revolutionize our understanding of the cosmos (discovery of supersymmetric particles at the Large Hadron Collider).

But it’s his brief comment on women that attracted the most attention: How could it be that a scientist who has plumbed the deepest mysteries of the cosmos finds himself mystified by women?

Hmmm…I guess the man is brilliant enough to discover the origins of the cosmos…

The saga of the super-smart professor who is flummoxed by interpersonal relations, particularly with the opposite sex, is at least as old as Sigmund Freud (who famously wondered, “What does a woman want?”), Jerry Lewis’ fictional “Nutty Professor” and the stereotype we have of Albert Einstein. It’s as up to date as the TV astrophysicist on “The Big Bang Theory” who can’t say a word to women unless he’s under the influence.

Somehow, folks get a satisfying sense of karma from the idea that geniuses are socially stupid. But the stereotype doesn’t really hold true, particularly in Hawking’s case.

Like the real-life Einstein, Hawking has had an active romantic life, marked by two marriages. (Einstein’s second marriage ended with the death of his wife and cousin Elsa; Hawking’s ended in an ugly divorce.) Hawking’s disease does not affect his sexual ability or his potency, and the fact that he’s fathered three children is evidence of that.

“The disease only affects voluntary muscle,” Hawking’s been quoted as saying.

The article goes on to say that Hawking is an incurable flirt, and has a thing for Marilyn Monroe, who he says is the one person he would want to meet if he could go back in time.

Even as he approaches the age of 70, Hawking seems to have kept his playful, pleasant, mischievous character. That may help explain his latest comment about the mystique surrounding women, as well as his own mystique.

Here’s a classic example: Actress Jane Fonda was clearly won over last year when Hawking came backstage after her performance in a play about a woman musicologist in the early stages of neurodegenerative disease. “I took his hand and carefully uncurled the fingers one by one, wanting to see how they felt and looked … soft, pale, safe,” she recalled in a blog posting.

When Fonda asked Hawking what he thought of her performance, Hawking typed out a short response: “You were my heartthrob” — which got a big laugh. Fonda came away starstruck. “This man who cannot move or speak, can, nonetheless, comprehend the incomprehensible,” she wrote.

Hmm … Maybe women aren’t such a complete mystery to Hawking after all.

That is all for tonight…catch ya later in the comments.


SDB Evening News Reads 010412: ICE Deports 15 Year Old US Citizen

You got that right…A fifteen year old girl, who has been missing for a few years, was deported to Columbia by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Oh wait, I forgot to say good evening!

Have you heard about this horrible story out of Texas, this poor girl is still stuck in Columbia. It is a horror story of epic proportions.

From the local Texas station:

“It’s very frustrating,” Lorene Turner said.

She has spent hours on Facebook trying to find her granddaughter, Jakadrien.

“Once I get home I am up until 3 or 4 in the morning searching and looking,” Turner said. “It’s all I can think about. Finding my baby.”

Turner has been searching for Jakadrien since the fall of 2010, when she ran away from home. She was 14 years old and distraught over the loss of her grandfather and her parents’ divorce.

Turner searched for months for a clue.

“God just kept leading me,” she said. “I wake up in the middle of the night and do whatever God told me to do, and I found her.”

Turner said with the help of Dallas Police, she found her granddaughter in the most unexpected place – Colombia.

Where she had mistakenly been deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in April of 2011.

“They didn’t do their work,” Turner said. “How do you deport a teenager and send her to Colombia without a passport, without anything?”

News 8 learned that Jakadrien somehow ended up in Houston, where she was arrested by Houston police for theft. She gave Houston police a fake name. When police in Houston ran that name, it belonged to a 22-year-old illegal immigrant from Colombia, who had warrants for her arrest.

So ICE officials stepped in.

News 8 has learned ICE took the girl’s fingerprints, but somehow didn’t confirm her identity and deported her to Colombia, where the Colombian government gave her a work card and released her.


I know I’ve got a lot quoted, but I wanted you to read it.

She has been working like a slave in a large house, cleaning. Remember ICE kicked her ass out of the country with no money or anything. Hell, they did not even double check her identity.


U.S. Federal authorities got an address. U.S. Embassy officials in Colombia asked police to pick her up.

But that was a month ago, and the Colombian government now has her in a detention facility and won’t release her, despite her family’s request.

“I feel like she will come home,” the grandmother said with tears in her eyes. “I just need help and prayer.”

There are still many unanswered questions about how an African-American girl who speaks no Spanish is mistaken for a foreign national. Immigration officials are investigating and released a statement late Tuesday.

“ICE takes these allegations very seriously,” said ICE Director of Public Affairs Brian Hale. ” At the direction of [the Department of Homeland Security], ICE is fully and immediately investigating this matter in order to expeditiously determine the facts of this case.”

ICE officials also noted there have been instances where ICE has seen cases of individuals providing inaccurate information regarding who they are and their immigration status for ulterior motives.

Ulterior motives? She was a child…14 or 15…a runaway…and probably scared. Dammit…they had the entire criminal database and fingerprints at their disposal…what the fuck is wrong with these people!

CBS Evening News has picked up on the story so perhaps the family will get the attention they deserve.

Oh, and lets reiterate this sentence from the CBS link:

Jakadrien is African-American and reportedly speaks no Spanish.

Did these federal immigration officers have their thumbs up their ass?

Let’s take a quick diversion for a moment, a billionaire in China has died from eating poisoned cat meat…

Poisoned cat-meat stew is suspected to have been used to kill a billionaire in southern China.

Police have detained a local official in Guangdong province in connection with the sudden death of Long Liyuan on 23 December.

The official, Huang Guang, is suspected of adding a toxic plant to the stew at a restaurant where they were eating.

A police statement said the two were involved in a dispute after Mr Huang allegedly embezzled money from Mr Long.

Mr Huang, an agriculture official in Bajia, took Mr Long, who ran a forestry company, to visit a piece of woodland on 23 December, said the statement.

It is a sad and tragic thing…but I can’t help but think this could be a storyline for a new Poirot murder mystery…or at least an episode of Murder She Wrote. The title would have to be something like, “Poirot, and the case of the toxic pussy stew.”

There is a new series of articles over at C&L that dives into Mitt Romney’s past. Well, his families past that is.

Rick Santorum fared incredibly well in the Iowa caucus Tuesday night. It ended in an almost virtual tie with Romney pulling ahead by a handful of votes. In Santorum’s “victory speech” he discussed his family’s working class roots. We rarely hear anything much about Mitt Romney’s family even though his father ran American Motors and was Governor of Michigan. What about Romney’s roots?

I decided to research Mitt Romney’s father. George Romney was a powerful industrial and political figure of his day.

Romney’s family came from England, converted to Mormonism, came to America and quickly turned to plural marriage which led them to an unexpected exile and exodus to Mexico and then just as abruptly, they fled back to the USA to avoid a revolution.

It’s an unexpected backstory to the “next in line” probable GOP nominee.

This post is rather long, so you may want to bookmark it and read it later.

I’ve just got one thing to say about all these religious right folks…and Ron Paul supporters, women deserve to have rights in this country. They deserve rights throughout the world. And when you take actions, or make speeches, or support candidates and politicians that take away these rights, you are assholes! (And that goes especially for liberals and other women who are willing to piss on the human rights and civil liberties of women and girls.)

Lastly, here is a clip from Shep Smith’s show…Where he questions the viability of  moderate voters accepting Santorum’s statement that homosexual sex is like bestiality. I just want to know what is Santorum’s excuse for all those pedophile priest? But that is a completely different aurguement.

Anyway, on with Shep and his comment…

On today’s Studio B, Shepard Smith brought up one of Santorum’s most controversial comments, asking Republican commentator Terry Holt whether even social conservatives would not accept Santorum’s claim that “gay love [is] similar to bestiality.”

Holt was discussing Santorum’s campaign in general with Smith, commenting that his retail politics in Iowa “reminded me of the old Rick Santorum” and that he “got his [surge] at exactly the right time, and if he does well in New Hampshire I see this, it’s possible, but it’s the money and it’s the time.” Smith agreed except for his reservation that Santorum’s extreme views would not go over well with many voters. “It’s going to be talked about eventually that Rick Santorum is, among other things, a man that equated homosexual sex to bestiality,” Smith remarked, adding that “his list of things that are not going to appeal to any moderate is long.”

Holt agreed but considered that, compared to other candidates, Santorum didn’t have as big of a problem, to which Smith countered, “I don’t think all social conservatives consider gay love similar to bestiality.” “That’s true,” Holt replied, but added that “these candidates have had their share of gaffes” and that Santorum “he has more of a story to tell than just a few odd statements.”

Video at the link.

I am going to find some info and phone numbers and email addresses for people connected to and responsible for the welfare of Jakadrien Turner, and that includes the assholes who deported her. I will update this thread when I get the list compiled.

Sorry for all the colorful words…but it is very upsetting to me that something as horrible as this could happen to a little girl. She was deported at the same age as my son is now…imagine how scared and alone she felt the last couple years. It is inexcusable. These ICE officers should be fired and sued…

New update on Jakadrien here:

A veteran Dallas police detective who was part of the effort to find a missing 15-year-old Oak Cliff girl said she was stunned to learn that Jakadrien Turner was deported to South America by federal immigration agents.

The teen,  who is now languishing at a detention center in Colombia, found herself the victim of a series of mishaps and mistakes.

Detective C’mon Wingo has been a police officer for more than 20 years, and isn’t easily surprised. But this case was different.

“I was floored,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, this can’t be true! How in the world did she get there?’ I was very floored.”

[…]

Turner and dective Wingo said it was social media that helped them crack the case. Working with Facebook, they were able to track down the missing teen.

“It was the love Ms. Turner has for her granddaughter,” Wingo said. “It’s amazing and awesome.”

But their battle is only half-won. Jakadrien remains in a detention facility in Colombia.