While I was browsing for interesting stories this morning, I watched Trump’s embarrassing speech at the opening of the 9/11 center at NATO headquarters. He began with a lecture on how the U.S. is paying so much for defense and other countries are failing to meet the 2% GDP requirement. How long is he going to keep beating this dead horse?
After that, he seemed to imply that NATO had spent too much money on the 9/11 memorial. He said that the U.S. would not abandon NATO, but he did not reaffirm article 5, which states that if one NATO country is attacked, all have been attacked.
Last night a reporter for The Guardian, Ben Jacobs, was assaulted by the GOP candidate for the House in Montana.
The Republican candidate for Montana’s congressional seat has been charged with misdemeanor assault after he is alleged to have slammed a Guardian reporter to the floor on the eve of the state’s special election, breaking his glasses and shouting: “Get the hell out of here.”
Ben Jacobs, a Guardian political reporter, was asking Greg Gianforte, a tech millionaire endorsed by Donald Trump, about the Republican healthcare plan when the candidate allegedly “body-slammed” the reporter.
“He took me to the ground,” Jacobs said by phone from the back of an ambulance. “I think he whaled on me once or twice … He got on me and I think he hit me … This is the strangest thing that has ever happened to me in reporting on politics.”
Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna, field producer Faith Mangan and photographer Keith Railey witnessed the incident at Gianforte’s campaign headquarters in Montana, according to an account published on the Fox News website. After Jacobs asked Gianforte his question, Acuna wrote: “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him.
“Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the man, as he moved on top the reporter and began yelling something to the effect of ‘I’m sick and tired of this!’ … To be clear, at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte, who left the area after giving statements to local sheriff’s deputies.”
At least 3 Montana newspapers have now unendorsed Gianforte, and the election is today.
This might explain Gianforte’s anger toward Jacobs and the Guardian. On April 28, Jacobs published this story on Gianforte, whom Trump endorsed in voice message: GOP candidate Greg Gianforte has financial ties to US-sanctioned Russian companies.
A Republican congressional candidate has financial ties to a number of Russian companies that have been sanctioned by the US, the Guardian has learned.
Greg Gianforte, who is the GOP standard bearer in the upcoming special election in Montana, owns just under $250,000 in shares in two index funds that are invested in the Russian economy to match its overall performance.
According to a financial disclosure filed with the clerk of the House of Representatives, the Montana tech mogul owns almost $150,000 worth of shares in VanEck Vectors Russia ETF and $92,400 in the IShares MSCF Russia ETF fund. Both are indexed to the Russian equities market and have significant holdings in companies such as Gazprom and Rosneft that came under US sanctions in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of the Crimea.
The Moron-In-Chief is now in trouble with two countries and the U.S. Department of Defense for his blabbing of top secret intelligence. First it was Israel, now the U.K.
Israel has changed the way it shares intelligence with the U.S., Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Wednesday. The move comes after U.S. President Donald Trump divulged to Russia classified information reportedly obtained from Israel.
“We discussed the issue with our friends in America,” Liberman said in an interview with Army Radio. “We did our checks.” The defense chief didn’t specify what changes had been made, saying: “Not everything needs to be discussed in the media, some things need to be talked about in closed rooms.” ….
Israel has changed the way it shares intelligence with the U.S., Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Wednesday. The move comes after U.S. President Donald Trump divulged to Russia classified information reportedly obtained from Israel.
British police have stopped sharing evidence from the investigation into the terror network behind the Manchester bombing with the United States after a series of leaks left investigators and the government furious.
The ban is limited to the Manchester investigation only. British police believe the leaks are unprecedented in their scope, frequency and potential damage.
Downing Street was not behind the decision by Greater Manchester police to stop sharing information with US intelligence, a No 10 source said, stressing that it was important police were allowed to take independent decisions.
Relations between the US and UK security services, normally extremely close, have been put under strain by the scale of the leaks from US officials to the American media.
After chairing a meeting of the emergency Cobra meeting Theresa May said: “I will make clear to President Trump that intelligence shared between our security agencies must remain secure.” She is due to meet the US president at a Nato summit in Brussels on Thursday.
As for the Defense Department’s reaction to Trump leaks, have you read the transcript of Trump’s call to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte? It’s beyond shocking. Not only did the Moron-in-Chief praise Duterte for his extra-legal murders of suspected drug dealers and addicts, but also he revealed the location of two U.S. nuclear submarines!
Trump commended Duterte’s actions in the same call in which the U.S. president invited him to Washington, according to a transcript of their conversation published by the Washington Post and the investigative news site The Intercept. The document included a “confidential” cover sheet from the Americas division of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.
Almost 9,000 people, many small-time drug users and dealers, have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about one-third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defense during legitimate operations. Human rights groups say official accounts are implausible.
“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” Trump told Duterte, according to the transcript.
“Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”
Duterte thanked Trump and said “this is the scourge of my nation now and I have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation.”
“I think we had a previous president who did not understand that,” Trump replied.
And then there was this:
Pentagon officials are in shock after the release of a transcript of a call between President Donald Trump and his Philippines counterpart revealed that the US military had moved two nuclear submarines towards North Korea.
“We never talk about subs!” three officials told BuzzFeed News, referring to the military’s belief that keeping submarines’ movements secret is key to their mission.
While the US military will frequently announce the deployment of aircraft carriers, it is far more careful when discussing the movement of nuclear submarines. Carriers are hard to miss, and that, in part, is a reason the US military deploys them. They are a physical show of force. Submarines are, at times, a furtive complement to the carriers, a hard-to-detect means of strategic deterrence.
According to the transcript, released Wednesday, Trump called Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte April 29, in part to discuss the rising threat from North Korea. During that call, while discussing ways to mitigate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s nuclear ambitions, Trump said: “We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines — not that we want to use them at all. I’ve never seen anything like they are but we don’t have to use this, but [Kim] could be crazy, so we will see what happens.”
It takes a madman to recognize another madman, I guess. In reading the transcript, I got the feeling that Trump would like nothing more than to use those nukes. But now, all our enemies know where they can fine our nuclear subs.
By announcing the presence of nuclear submarines, the president, some Pentagon officials privately explained, gives away the element of surprise — an irony given his repeated declarations during the campaign that the US announces far too many of its military plans when it comes to combatting ISIS.
Moreover, some countries in the region, particularly China, seek to develop their anti-sub capability. Knowing that two US submarines are in the region could allow them to test this.
Finally, it is unclear why Duterte would need to know the specific number of subs in the region. The Philippines is not a part of US military efforts to deter North Korea, so why would Duterte need to know such details?
There is so much Trump Russia news that I’ll have to give you the rest as links only.
Three big stories broke last night, and I posted them on JJ’s thread.
More Trump Russia stories:
The Atlantic: The Known Unknowns of the Russia Investigation.
Axios: Trump’s “street fighters.”
The Atlantic: Pope Francis, Trump Whisperer?
What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread below, and I hope you enjoy your day.
Let’s catch up on things, eh?
Syria is really heating up, but of course the situation remains the same.
Amid fierce fighting, Syrian TV on Thursday showed video of President Bashar al-Assad, the first images broadcast of him since a deadly attack on top officials a day earlier.
The development cameas rebels fought government forces in Damascus and its suburbs and made significant attacks on strategic border points, officials said.
Although al-Assad has not often appeared on television or in public events during the near 17-month crisis gripping his country, it is unusual for a leader not to address a nation in the wake of a major bombing, and as violence rages in the capital.
Wednesday’s blast at a government building in Damascus killed three top officials, one of whom also was the president’s brother-in-law.
Syria’s international borders and torched the main police headquarters in the heart of old Damascus, advancing relentlessly after the assassination of Bashar al-Assad’s closest lieutenants.
The battle for parts of the capital raged into the early hours of Friday, with corpses piled in the streets. In some neighborhoods residents said there were signs the government’s presence was diminishing.
Officials in neighboring Iraq confirmed that Syrian rebels were now in control of the Syrian side of the main Abu Kamal border checkpoint on the Euphrates River highway, one of the major trade routes across the Middle East.
Rebels also claimed control of at least two border crossings into Turkey at Bab al-Hawa and Jarablus, in what appeared to have been a coordinated campaign to seize Syria’s frontiers.
In Damascus, a witness in the central old quarter district of Qanawat said the huge headquarters of the Damascus Province Police was black with smoke and abandoned after being torched and looted in a rebel attack.
“Three patrol cars came to the site and were hit by roadside bombs,” said activist Abu Rateb by telephone. “I saw three bodies in one car. Others said dozens of security men and shabbiha (pro-Assad militia) lay dead or wounded along Khaled bin al-Walid street, before ambulances took them away.”
The next few days will be critical in determining whether Assad’s government can recover from the devastating blow of Wednesday’s bombing, which wiped out much of Assad’s command structure and destroyed his circle’s aura of invulnerability.
Streaming live coverage here: Russia, China Veto Syria Resolution at U.N. – WSJ.com
Hopes for any kind of peaceful resolution of the escalating crisis faded as Russia and China used their vetos at the UN security council to block a western-backed resolution calling for punishment if Assad failed to implement an internationally backed agreement on a ceasefire and political transition with the opposition.
The foreign secretary, William Hague, condemned the UN developments as “inexcusable and indefensible” and warned Assad that his regime was “doomed”. The White House also condemned it as “highly regrettable.”
An estimated 15,000-17,000 have been killed in the 16 months of bloodshed in Syria. Funerals were held in Damascus for Wednesday’s bomb victims as Assad’s sister Bushra and mother Anisa received condolences for the death of Shawkat.
Western diplomatic sources told the Guardian they believed the loss of the highly experienced Shawkat and Dawoud Rajha, the defence minister, would now make it harder for the regime to judge how much force it could use without risking alienating Russia, still Assad’s most influential and supportive ally. In one of the most significant events on a fast-moving day, fighters of the Free Syrian Army took control of the border crossing into Turkey at Bab al Hawa – gateway to Idlib province – and Bab al Salam and Al-Boukamal crossings into Iraq, according to videos posted on the internet. That seems certain to make it easier for the FSA, being financed and armed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to step up their fight.
Russia and China vote against a UK drafted resolution at the UN security council. Photograph: Justin Lane/EPA
5.35pm ET / 10.35pm BST: Here’s the latest summary of today’s events:
• The US has condemned Russia and China’s veto of a new draft resolution on Syria as “highly regrettable”. The UK and France were also highly critical of the countries’ third veto, with the French UN ambassador accusing Russia and China of buying time “for the Syrian regime to smash the opposition”.
• Russia’s ambassador accused western countries of “attempting to fan the flames of conflict”. Vitaly Churkin said the draft resolution vetoed by Russia and China was “biased”, with threats of sanctions “levelled exclusively at the government of Syria. China’s ambassador said the resolution would have “further aggravated the turmoil”.
On a side note, congratulations to Glenn Greewald: Glenn Greenwald joins Guardian US from Salon | Media | guardian.co.uk
The Guardian has announced the addition of Glenn Greenwald, the renowned political commentator and bestselling author. In his new role, Greenwald will write a daily blog and weekly column appearing in the Guardian’s Comment is Free section.
“The Guardian offers the opportunity to reach a new audience, to further internationalize my readership, and to be re-invigorated by a different environment,” said Greenwald. “Salon has fully supported my work in every possible way, which makes it difficult to leave, but I’m an admirer of the Guardian’s journalism and concluded that it was a great match,” Greenwald added.
Greenwald is a former constitutional and civil rights litigator and current contributing writer at Salon.com. He is the author of three New York Times bestselling books: How Would a Patriot Act?, A Tragic Legacy and With Liberty and Justice for Some. Greenwald was named by The Atlantic as one of the 25 most influential political commentators in the nation and by Newsweek as one of the country’s top 10 online political opinion writers.
“Glenn will be a great fit, and we’re delighted to have him join our provocative line-up of Guardian voices,” said Janine Gibson, Guardian US’s editor-in-chief.
I think it is a good fit too, Home news – Salon.com
After five-and-a-half highly fulfilling years at Salon, I will be leaving to join TheGuardian beginning on August 20. My last day writing on a daily basis for Salon will be August 15. Politico‘s Dylan Byers has an article about the move here. I will write daily at the U.S. edition of TheGuardian, which is based in New York, and will do so exactly the same way as I have here: with full editorial independence and the same type of readership involvement and support upon which I’ve long relied, including a vibrant comment section. In addition to the daily writing, I’ll also write a more traditional once-a-week column there.
And now for the Zimmerman links:
Here is some “class” real class, from George…Zimmerman Posts ‘Thank You’ Video For ‘The Masses,’ Re-Launches Website | Mediaite That website is now a bit more professional looking but what an ass Zimmerman is.
Thursday afternoon, George Zimmerman, the accused killer of Trayvon Martin, posted a video to YouTube entitled “Thank You,” thanking “the masses” for their support during his ongoing situation.
In the video, Zimmerman stands in front of a window and announces the re-launch of “TheRealGeorgeZimmerman.com,” which he describes as a website where “you can personally communicate with me,” and will be the “website to provide facts” as his case unfolds.
This comes as Barbara Waters tells about how she was given conditions by Zimmerman: Barbara Walters Rejects George Zimmerman’s Interview Demands
Barbara Walters revealed on Thursday that she had rejected demands made by Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman in exchange for an interview.
The New York Post reported on Thursday that Walters had traveled down to Florida with the intention of interviewing Zimmerman, but walked away after he requested that ABC get him a hotel room for a month.
Walters was not competing for the first interview with Zimmerman, as he had already granted that privilege to Fox News’ Sean Hannity. Hannity’s interview aired on Wednesday night.
Walters confirmed much of the Post’s story on Thursday’s “View.” She explained that Zimmerman’s lawyer, whom she referred to as “effective,” confirmed Tuesday night that Zimmerman would do an interview. Walters said that Zimmerman was going to tape an interview with Hannity before sitting down with her. Walters said Hannity “had been very supportive to [Zimmerman] in the past and George Zimmerman told me that he was very grateful, and I appreciated his loyalty to Hannity.”
Walters agreed that her interview would tape and air after Zimmerman sat down with Hannity. She said that she had then flown down to Florida for the interview.
When Walters and her team arrived in Florida, she said that Zimmerman came in dressed in a t-shirt, rather than a suit. “That should have been my first clue,” she said.
According to Walters, Zimmerman said that the plans had changed, and he was refusing to do the interview unless ABC granted him one request. Walters refused to confirm that he had requested a month-long stay in a hotel. “It was a condition that, being a member of ABC News, I was unable to grant,” she said.
Money, could be the condition?
Walters described Zimmerman as “desperate for money” and “very worried about his family.” She also said he was “polite, soft-spoken, stubborn.” She said that his lawyers “wanted him to do the interview.”
George then pulled a Trump, calling Walters while the View was being taped live: Zimmerman calls ‘The View’ after Barbara Walters walks away from interview meeting – NY Daily News
Near the end of Thursday’s show, Walters told viewers that Zimmerman called “The View,” but she refused to put him on the air.
“Mr. Zimmerman, if you could not do the interview yesterday, I don’t think we should do a quick one today,” Walters said.
“In the future if you feel differently, we will consider it,” she snipped.
Zimmerman’s call-in came hours after Martin’s parents made the morning show rounds to slam his claim to Hannity that the deadly confrontation with the teen was “all God’s plan.”
This New York Daily News article says Zimmerman wanted ABC to put him and his wife up in a hotel for a month…ugh.
As far as that interview with Hannity: Trayvon Martin’s Family on Zimmerman Apology: ‘We Must Worship a Different God’ | NewsFeed | TIME.com
George Zimmerman sat down Wednesday night on Fox News’ The Sean Hannity Show, speaking to the press for the first time since the night when he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. (Watch clips from the interview here.)
It looks like evidence to the prosecution. George Zimmerman Prosecution May Use TV Interview as Evidence – ABC News
George Zimmerman’s television interviewin which he said had few regrets about the night he killed teenager Trayvon Martin has been entered as possible evidence in his upcoming murder trial.
In a wide ranging interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity Zimmerman, appearing articulate and calm, said he neither regretted carrying a gun that night nor pursuing the 17-year-old Martin.
“I feel that it was all God’s plan,” he told Hannity. When asked if there was “anything you might do differently,” Zimmerman responded, “No Sir.”
For a good review of the interview: 5 things George Zimmerman told Sean Hannity that may come back to haunt him | theGrio
1. Trayvon wasn’t running.
Hannity seemed taken aback when Zimmerman repeatedly insisted that Trayvon Martin wasn’t running, since Zimmerman told the police dispatcher that he was. The Fox News host asked Zimmerman to try to “get into the mind-set” of the teen, and questioned whether he might have been running from Zimmerman because he was afraid of him and didn’t know who Zimmerman was. Zimmerman’s one word response to that proposition: “no.”
“You don’t think — why do you think that he was running then?” Hannity asked, to which Zimmerman replied that maybe he “said running,” but that Martin was “more … like skipping, going away quickly. But he wasn’t running out of fear.”
“You could tell the difference?” Hannity asked, to which Zimmerman replied more emphatically: “He wasn’t running.” Hannity asked again: “So he wasn’t actually running?” And Zimmerman reiterated, “No, sir.”
Hannity, who has been sympathetic to Zimmerman and didn’t cross-examine him forcefully during the interview, eventually gave up on that line of questioning, but not before adding, “OK. Because that’s what you said to the dispatcher, that you thought he was running.”
Meanwhile, Zimmerman said on the 911 tape, as he was describing where he was inside the gated community the Retreat at Twin Lakes on February 26th:
“… you go straight in, don’t turn, and make a left. Sh*t, he’s running.”
The dispatcher asked, “he’s running? Which way is he running?” to which Zimmerman responded, “down towards the other entrance to the neighborhood.” A few seconds later, Zimmerman tells the dispatcher, “he ran,” and then begins trying to give directions to where his truck is parked.
Click that link for the four other “problems” with the interview. Wow…and I thought the skipping thing was the biggest one!
One more update: Court won’t halt execution of Georgia death row inmate | ajc.com
A state court has declined to halt the execution of a Georgia death row inmate set to die Monday.
Warren Lee Hill is set to die by lethal injection on Monday.
A Butts County Superior Court judge Thursday denied requests filed by Warren Lee Hill’s lawyer. Lawyer Brian Kammer argued Hill is mentally disabled and shouldn’t be executed. Similar requests are pending at the U.S. Supreme Court.
The court said Hill has proven an IQ of 70 beyond a reasonable doubt, and he meets the overall criteria for being mentally disabled by a preponderance of the evidence.
This is an open thread…
In 2008, I decided to go from blog lurker, to thread poster, to front-pager. It has been one strange trip that has been both oddly satisfying and exasperating. I think I popped out of the womb with an opinion and a need to express it. If my first grade teacher Miss Pearl Jensen of Herbert Hoover elementary school could speak to this, she’d probably say, that child has too much to say and I just felt the need to “shake the toenails off her” all the time. She used to pick me up, shake me, and scream that at me. I assume she’d do that again if she met me today.
My mother was always being called to school about me because I was always saying something. In fourth grade, I refused to say the pledge of allegiance because I saw absolutely no use in it. I announced in fifth grade, after reading my social studies assignment on eastern religions, that I must be a Buddhist because it’s the first religion I’d read about that didn’t seem less real than ‘The Hobbit’. I’ve always been in trouble throughout my corporate work life for being ‘verbose’, ‘glib’, and ‘mouthy’. Thank goodness for academic freedom where I can now get away with it. So, I guess you shouldn’t be surprised that I would eventually find a home as a front pager some where.
Since front-paging really doesn’t come with instruction manuals, other than the usual, wow, we like the sound of how you write, knock yourself out here, I’ve had to learn by the hunt and peck method. I’ve learned which buttons attract what type of nasty comments. I usually avoid pushing those buttons because frankly, unless it’s really important, I hate doing troll duty. Some how, there’s just one button I keep pushing. It is the “I hate your source” so you must be a ______ button.
Look, I’m used to writing scholarly stuff and finance reports. I recognize that sometimes the people who drive you the craziest can some times come up with a good point and good data. Other times, the people you really want to support and put forward can come up with some stinkers. This is a blanket warning to every one who ever reads my stuff. People that you disagree with can frequently be quotable as more than just examples of wingnuts. On the other hand, some times people that you disagree with, and get quoted a lot can be very very very wrong and what they say will be printed over and over and over and over. The only thing I think is completely over the top is taking a comment out of context and creating a moonbat feeding frenzy with it.
With that statement and story, I present to you Michael Tomasky of the Guardian (last time I checked both reliably liberal and credible sources) and ” How they lie: a case study; Did an Obama judicial nominee really express a preference for Allah over Jesus? No, not by a long shot”. Tomasky basically chases down one of those right wing memes around the web, then exposes that meme as untrue by actually using (gasp) facts and showing the context. His gut told him with a title like that, it was undoubtedly one of those right wing smear jobs, but he didn’t just take it at gut or face value. He chased down the truth before he pounded out the story. In other words, he acted like a journalist who writes a blog rather than a blogger that acts out what he supposes is journalism.