The Wires
The Ledes

Sunday, August 18, 2019.

AP: “The death toll from a late-night suicide bombing at a crowded wedding party in the Afghan capital rose to at least 63 on Sunday, including women and children, officials said. The local Islamic State (IS) group's affiliate claimed responsibility for what was the deadliest attack in Kabul this year. Another 182 people were wounded in the Saturday night explosion, government spokesman Feroz Bashari said. Interior Ministry spokesman Nusrat Rahimi confirmed the casualty toll as families began to bury the dead. Some helped to dig graves with their bare hands. Kabul residents were outraged as there appears to be no end to violence even as the U.S. and the Taliban say they are nearing a deal to end their 18-year conflict, America's longest war.”

Public Service Announcement

July 27: NBC News: "If your information was compromised during the massive 2017 Equifax data breach, you could be entitled to up to $20,000." The article provides info on how you can claim your share of the restitution fund. Mrs. McC: I might give it a crack. I know my personal info was compromised during the period of the Equifax breach, but I'm not sure Equifax was the source of the breach. So I might give this a crack. 

Washington Post: "the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships were no different — especially Sunday night, the final night of the two-day [U.S. Gymnastics Championships]..., [Simone] Biles aced a skill no other woman (and only two men in the world) has successfully landed in competition — a triple-twisting, double somersault that capped the first tumbling pass of her floor routine like a cymbal crash":

 

Washington Post: White Southern plantation visitors who pay good money "to learn about the history of life on a plantation" are very upset guides mention slavery. Mrs. McCrabbie's recommendation: put on your MAGA caps & hoop skirts, watch the first 10 minutes of "Gone with the Wind," & practice saying "Fiddle-dee-dee."

Here's one for contributor Jeanne. "Margaret Atwood joins Deborah Treisman to read and discuss 'Corrie,' by Alice Munro, from a 2010 issue of the [New Yorker] magazine":

Nick Schager in the Daily Beast: "Premiering on Netflix and in select theaters on July 24, The Great Hack is the most enraging, terrifying and — I don’t use this term lightly — important documentary of the year. Directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim..., its subject is the Cambridge Analytica data scandal—a story that’s galling on the surface, and infinitely more bone-chilling when one considers its far-reaching ramifications. That’s because Cambridge Analytica’s deceptive and criminal relationship with, and conduct on, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media platform had world-altering consequences: helping launch the Brexit movement, and successfully aiding the election campaign of Donald Trump.” 

Guardian: “The businessman Arron Banks and the unofficial Brexit campaign Leave.EU have issued a legal threat against streaming giant Netflix in relation to The Great Hack, a new documentary about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the abuse of personal data. The threat comes as press freedom campaigners and charity groups warn the government in an open letter that UK courts are being used to 'intimidate and silence' journalists working in the public interest. In a joint letter to key cabinet members, they call for new legislation to stop 'vexatious lawsuits', highlighting one filed last week by Banks against campaigning journalist Carole Cadwalladr.”

AP: "MAD, the long-running satirical magazine that influenced everyone from 'Weird Al' Yankovic to the writers of 'The Simpsons,' will be leaving newsstands after its August issue. Really. The illustrated humor magazine — instantly recognizable by the gap-toothed smiling face of mascot Alfred E. Neuman — will still be available in comic shops and through mail to subscribers. But after its fall issue it will just reprint previously published material. The only new material will come in special editions at the end of the year."

Hill: "The Democrats beat the Republicans in a high-scoring 14-7 win Wednesday [June 26] night in the 58th annual Congressional Baseball Game. It was the Democrats' 10th win in 11 years."

New York Times: "... the Library of Congress has named [Joy Harjo] America’s new poet laureate. She will take over for Tracy K. Smith, who has held the position for two years.... Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is the 23rd poet and first Native person to be selected for the role."

New York: "The mass of the metal 'anomaly' beneath the moon’s largest crater is five times greater than the big island of Hawaii, and according to a new study from scientists at Baylor University, it could contain metals remaining from an ancient asteroid impact, weighing in at around 4.8 quintillion pounds."

New York Times: "A skeleton in Siberia nearly 10,000 years old has yielded DNA that reveals a striking kinship to living Native Americans, scientists reported on Wednesday. The finding, published in the journal Nature, provides an important new clue to the migrations that first brought people to the Americas. 'In terms of peopling of the Americas, we have found close to the missing link,' said Eske Willerslev, a geneticist at the University of Copenhagen and a co-author of the new paper. 'It’s not the direct ancestor, but it’s extremely close.'... The DNA of [a group scientists call] the Ancient Paleo-Siberians is remarkably similar to that of Native Americans. Dr. Willerslev estimates that Native Americans can trace about two-thirds of their ancestry to these previously unknown people.”

Constant Comments

 

Editor-in-Chief:
Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance. -- H. L. Mencken (probably)

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. -- A. J. Liebling

Monday
Aug192019

The Commentariat -- August 20, 2019

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I don't know how Tom Tomorrow managed to sneak into the Oval, but here's proof he did. Thanks to Akhilleus for the link. You can click on the cartoon to see a larger image:

Trump & His Crack Team "Don't See a Recession," BUT.... Damian Paletta of the Washington Post: "Several senior White House officials have begun discussing whether to push for a temporary payroll tax cut as a way to arrest an economic slowdown, three people familiar with the discussions said, revealing growing concerns about the economy among President Trump’s top economic aides." The Hill has a summary of the WashPo report. ...

... AND.... Maggie Haberman, et al., ofthe New York Times: “White House officials have begun preparing options to help boost the American economy and prevent it from falling into a recession, including mulling a potential payroll tax cut and a possible reversal of some of President Trump’s tariffs, according to people familiar with the discussions. Mr. Trump continues to insist the economy is 'doing tremendously well,' and he and his advisers publicly dismiss any notion of an impending recession. But behind the scenes, Mr. Trump’s economic team is pulling together contingency plans in the event the economy weakens further.” ...

... AND.... AP: “... Donald Trump is calling on the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates by at least a full percentage point 'over a fairly short period of time,' saying that such an action would make the U.S. economy even better and would also 'greatly and quickly' enhance the global economy. In two tweets Monday, Trump kept up his pressure on the Fed and its chairman Jerome Powell, saying the U.S. economy was strong 'despite the horrendous lack of vision by Jay Powell and the Fed.' Powell is Trump’s hand-picked choice for the top Fed job. He said Democrats were trying to 'will' the economy to deteriorate ahead of the 2020 election.... Trump also said the central bank should consider supplying 'quantitative easing' as well, the term economists use to describe the Fed’s efforts to restart economic growth over the 2007-2009 recession by buying bonds to lower long-term interest rates.” ...

The fundamentals of our economy are very strong. -- Kellyanne Conway, August 2019; John McCain, September 2008 ...

... AND.... Oops! Zeke Miller & Josh Boak of the AP: “The 'fundamentals' of the U.S. economy are solid, [Kellyanne Conway] asserted on Monday, invoking an ill-fated political declaration of a decade ago amid mounting concern that a recession could imperil ... Donald Trump’s reelection.... Republican John McCain was accused of being out of touch when he made a similar declaration during the 2008 presidential campaign just hours before investment bank Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, setting off a stock market crash and global financial decline.” Mrs. McC: Read on for a typical "on the one hand/on the other hand" economic analysis.

We've Seen This Show Before. Matthew Vann of ABC News: “After ... Donald Trump appeared to respond to a groundswell of public support for tougher gun sale background checks following recent mass shootings, his language -- and possibly his stance -- on new gun control measures seems to be softening. Just a few weeks ago, Trump told reporters 'we have to have very meaningful background checks' as he left the White House just days following the shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.... But now..., Trump on Sunday appeared to back off on any new push background checks, again calling mental health the actual problem. 'I'm saying Congress is going to be reporting back to me with ideas, the president told reporters as he prepared to board Air Force One in Morristown, New Jersey. '... And I'll look at it very strongly. But just remember, we already have a lot of background checks. OK?'” ...

... Burgess Everett of Politico: "Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are lamenting ... Donald Trump's apparent about-face on enhanced backgrounds for firearm sales, with Schumer calling the move 'not only disappointing but also heartbreaking.'"

“I Call the Shots at Fox.” Bianca Quilantan of Politico: “... Donald Trump on Sunday slammed his preferred news network over recent unfavorable poll results, saying: 'There’s something going on at Fox [News], I’ll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it.' Trump’s comments to reporters in New Jersey were in response to a question about the network’s recent survey showing the president losing head-to-head matchups against four of the top Democratic presidential primary candidates.... He also ... signaled a warning about the the general election cycle. 'And I think Fox is making a big mistake,' the president said when asked about the polling and the network’s leadership. 'Because, you know, I'm the one that calls the shots on that — on the really big debates.'” Missed this Sunday. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Chris Rodrigo of the Hill: "Attorney General William Barr on Monday announced he had removed the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons one week after the death of Jeffrey Epstein. Dr. Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, who previously occupied the role between 1992 and 2003, will take over as the new director. The death of Epstein, who was accused of sex trafficking, has led to scrutiny of the Metropolitan Correctional Center where he was in custody." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Devlin Barrett of the Washington Post: "Barr said [acting director Hugh] Hurwitz would return to his previous role as an assistant director for the bureau’s reentry programs. The attorney general did not mention the Epstein case in his announcement.... Barr also appointed Thomas R. Kane to serve as her deputy, a position currently vacant. Even before Epstein’s death, Justice Department officials privately expressed frustration with senior officials at the Bureau of Prisons, but the apparent management flaws found since have angered the department’s leaders, including the attorney general, according to law enforcement officials who, like others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity." ...

     ... Barr Recycles His Old Appointees. Mrs. McCrabbie: According to a report I heard on MSNBC, Barr had appointed Sawyer to the same job in 1992 & had appointed Kane as deputy assistant director in 1991. Think they'll shake up the Bureau of Prisons & make it all better?

Pam Belluck of the New York Times: "Planned Parenthood said Monday that it would withdraw from the federal family planning program that provides birth control and other health services to poor women rather than comply with a new Trump administration rule that forbids referrals to doctors who can perform abortions. Planned Parenthood receives about $60 million annually through the federal program, known as Title X. The funds have enabled the group to provide more than 1.5 million low-income women each year with services like birth control and pregnancy tests, as well as screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and breast and cervical cancer. In some rural communities, Planned Parenthood is the only provider of such services." The CBS News story is here. ...

      ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This is a calamity for American women -- as well as men & unborn children -- a calamity that falls directly at the feet of the Misogynist-in-Chief & his anti-woman sidekick mike pence. ...

... Here's an Example. Ethan DeWitt of the Concord (New Hampshire) Monitor (August 14): "The trend lines are clear: A 17% increase in chlamydia rates in New Hampshire over a recent five-year period; a 103% surge in the syphilis rate; a 352% explosion of gonorrhea [in] New Hampshire..., according to numbers published by the Department of Health and Human Services in 2018.... A decision by the Trump administration to add new restrictions to federal funding for health care clinics that provide abortions – most notably Planned Parenthood – has taken a bite out of other health services, the organizations say. And an attempt by New Hampshire lawmakers to alleviate that loss of funds via state money has also been put on ice, after a budget veto by Gov. Chris Sununu [R].... Without federal funding or state backup money, Planned Parenthood has seen a 25% hit to its operating budget, and other family planning centers are feeling crimped as well.... One casualty of that funding crunch, providers say: STD testing." Emphasis added.

Presidential Race 2020

Elana Schor & Josh Funk of Politico: “Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren offered a public apology Monday to Native Americans over her past claim to tribal heritage, directly tackling an area that’s proved to be a big political liability. 'Like anyone who has been honest with themselves, I know I have made mistakes,' the Massachusetts senator said at a forum on Native American issues in this pivotal early-voting state. 'I am sorry for the harm I have caused.' Monday’s remarks were an effort to move past the fallout from her past claims of tribal ancestry, which culminated in a widely criticized release of a DNA analysis last year. The issue nearly derailed her campaign in the early days as ... Donald Trump began derisively referring to her as 'Pocahontas.'... The detailed policy agenda to help Native Americans that she released last week helped her secure a warm reception from attendees at the tribal forum.” (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Ashley Southall of the New York Times: "The New York City police officer whose chokehold was partly blamed for Eric Garner’s death in police custody in 2014 was fired from the Police Department on Monday, ending a bitter, five-year legal battle that had cast a shadow over the nation’s largest police force and the city it protects. The police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, dismissed the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, just over two weeks after a police administrative judge found him guilty of violating a department ban on chokeholds.  Mr. Garner died on July 17, 2014, after Officer Pantaleo tackled him from behind, then, along with other officers, pressed him down on the pavement. Captured on video, the arrest and Mr. Garner’s last words — 'I can’t breathe' — gave impetus to the Black Lives Matter movement." Here's the Daily Beast story. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So what it takes to get fired from the NYPD is murdering a person in broad daylight on a public street, with numerous witneses & a video camera rolling, in response to a misdemeanor, non-violent offense (selling loose cigarettes).

Jason Silverstein of CBS News: "Two members of the far-right group Proud Boys were found guilty Monday of charges stemming from a brawl with anti-fascist protesters near a Republican club in Manhattan in 2018. Maxwell Hare, 27, and John Kinsman, 39, were convicted of attempted gang assault, attempted assault and riot charges. A Manhattan Supreme Court jury deliberated for less than two days on the charges. Hare and Kinsman will be sentenced Oct. 11. They face up to 15 years in prison for the attempted gang assault convictions." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: It's worth remembering that way back this past weekend, Donald Trump tweeted in response to civil unrest in Portland, Oregon, that the anti-facist group Antifa should be designated a terrorist organization. Trump wrote nothing about the Proud Boys, against whom Antifa was protesting. As Zeshan Aleem wrote for Vox, the Proud Boys “... did not receive a permit for the rally [in Portland].... The Proud Boys [is] a group of self-proclaimed 'Western chauvinists' with links to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017 and a history of violence against left-wing activists. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated them as a hate group.”

Way Beyond the Beltway

Hong Kong/China. Steven Myers &

Sunday
Aug182019

The Commentariat -- August 19, 2019

Afternoon Update:

Elana Schor & Josh Funk of Politico: “Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren offered a public apology Monday to Native Americans over her past claim to tribal heritage, directly tackling an area that’s proved to be a big political liability. 'Like anyone who has been honest with themselves, I know I have made mistakes,' the Massachusetts senator said at a forum on Native American issues in this pivotal early-voting state. 'I am sorry for the harm I have caused.' Monday’s remarks were an effort to move past the fallout from her past claims of tribal ancestry, which culminated in a widely criticized release of a DNA analysis last year. The issue nearly derailed her campaign in the early days as ... Donald Trump began derisively referring to her as 'Pocahontas.'... The detailed policy agenda to help Native Americans that she released last week helped her secure a warm reception from attendees at the tribal forum.”

“I Call the Shots at Fox.” Bianca Quilantan of Politico: “... Donald Trump on Sunday slammed his preferred news network over recent unfavorable poll results, saying: 'There’s something going on at Fox [News], I’ll tell you right now. And I'm not happy with it.' Trump’s comments to reporters in New Jersey were in response to a question about the network’s recent survey showing the president losing head-to-head matchups against four of the top Democratic presidential primary candidates.... He also ... signaled a warning about the the general election cycle. 'And I think Fox is making a big mistake,' the president said when asked about the polling and the network’s leadership. 'Because, you know, I'm the one that calls the shots on that — on the really big debates.'” Missed this yesterday.

Chris Rodrigo of the Hill: "Attorney General William Barr on Monday announced he had removed the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons one week after the death of Jeffrey Epstein. Dr. Kathleen Hawk Sawyer, who previously occupied the role between 1992 and 2003, will take over as the new director. The death of Epstein, who was accused of sex trafficking, has led to scrutiny of the Metropolitan Correctional Center where he was in custody."

Ashley Southall of the New York Times: "The New York City police officer whose chokehold was partly blamed for Eric Garner’s death in police custody in 2014 was fired from the Police Department on Monday, ending a bitter, five-year legal battle that had cast a shadow over the nation’s largest police force and the city it protects. The police commissioner, James P. O’Neill, dismissed the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, just over two weeks after a police administrative judge found him guilty of violating a department ban on chokeholds.  Mr. Garner died on July 17, 2014, after Officer Pantaleo tackled him from behind, then, along with other officers, pressed him down on the pavement. Captured on video, the arrest and Mr. Garner’s last words — 'I can’t breathe' — gave impetus to the Black Lives Matter movement." Here's the Daily Beast story. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So what it takes to get fired from the NYPD is murdering a person in broad daylight on a public street, with numerous witneses & a video camera rolling for a misdemeanor, non-violent offense (selling loose cigarettes).

~~~~~~~~~~

A commenter is no longer receiving notifications of his own & follow-up comments. If you are having the same trouble, please let me know, either in today's Comments section or via e-mai to constantweader@gmail.com  I'll see if Squarespace can correct the glitch. Problem self-corrected. Looks as if it was a lo-o-o-ong Squarespace delay. -- Thank you, Mrs. Bea McCrabbie 

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "President Trump, confronting perhaps the most ominous economic signs of his time in office, has unleashed what is by now a familiar response: lashing out at what he believes is a conspiracy of forces arrayed against him. He has insisted that his own handpicked Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, is intentionally acting against him. He has said other countries, including allies, are working to hurt American economic interests. And he has accused the news media of trying to create a recession.... The president’s broadsides follow a long pattern of conspiratorial thinking.... Mr. Trump was frustrated by the news media’s coverage of his rally in New Hampshire. He repeatedly complained about misleading pictures of empty seats, or that attendance at the arena had beat Elton John’s record crowd there, but no one was covering it." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Yes, Haberman makes Trump seem like a petulant whiney-baby. But, for the most part, all she had to do was string together a list of Trump's most recent childish, false complaints.

Allan Smith of NBC News: "Top White House economic advisers on Sunday dismissed growing concerns that the U.S. economy is headed for a recession. National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow and White House Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro appeared on a series of Sunday political talk shows to defend the president's handling of the economy — particularly the ongoing trade war with China — and to downplay recent warning signs that the economy could be headed towards a downturn.... 'Meet the Press' host Chuck Todd pointed out that in [December] 2007, just before the onset of the Great Recession, Kudlow wrote that 'there's no recession coming' and the pessimistas were wrong.'"

"How I Spent My Summer Vacation" By Donnie Trump "I Mostly Played Board Games."

Last Week, Trump Played "Monopoly." Zack Budryk of the Hill: “White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow confirmed on Sunday that the Trump administration is 'looking at' purchasing Greenland following reports of its interest last week.” The Washington Post story is here. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Jan Olsen of the AP: “Greenland is not for sale and ... Donald Trump’s idea of buying the semi-autonomous Danish territory in the Arctic from Denmark is 'an absurd discussion,' Denmark’s prime minister said. Mette Frederiksen, who was visiting the world’s largest island to meet Premier Kim Kielsen, told reporters: 'Greenland is not Danish. Greenland is Greenlandic. I persistently hope that this is not something that is seriously meant.' Frederiksen said Sunday that the Arctic, with resources that Russia and others could exploit for commercial gain, 'is becoming increasingly important to the entire world community.'... Trump is expected to visit Denmark Sept. 2-3 as part of a trip to Europe.” ...

... Now Trump Is Playing "Battleship." Jonathan Swan of Axios: "President Trump has suggested to national security officials that the U.S. should station Navy ships along the Venezuelan coastline to prevent goods from coming in and out of the country, according to 5 current and former officials who have either directly heard the president discuss the idea or have been briefed on Trump's private comments.... Trump has been raising the idea of a naval blockade periodically for at least a year and a half, and as recently as several weeks ago, these officials said. They added that to their knowledge the Pentagon hasn't taken this extreme idea seriously, in part because senior officials believe it's impractical, has no legal basis and would suck resources from a Navy that is already stretched to counter China and Iran. Trump has publicly alluded to a naval blockade of Venezuela. Earlier this month he answered 'Yes, I am' when a reporter asked whether he was mulling such a move. But he hasn't elaborated on the idea publicly."


Daniel Lippman
of Politico: “Tom Barrack and Donald Trump have been friends and confidants for more than three decades.... But the intimate relationship between the wealthy California investor and the president has fractured so badly that the two no longer speak, current and former White House officials say. The key issue driving the two men apart: Barrack’s role as chairman of the president’s 2017 inauguration fund, which is under investigation by prosecutors.... 'The president was really surprised to read all about the inauguration and who was trying to buy access and how, because the president doesn’t get any of that money,' said [an] official.” Emphasis added. Mrs. McC: Quite a touching story.

Who Knew International Law Could Be So Complicated? Megan Specia of the New York Times: "An Iranian oil tanker held for six weeks after being impounded left Gibraltar on Sunday, days after the authorities there rejected a request from American officials to turn the vessel over to them.... The [U.S.] Justice Department said that multiple parties affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran, which the United States has designated a foreign terrorist organization, were believed involved.... But on Sunday, the Gibraltar government rejected the American request. It said that the warrant had relied on broad United States sanctions against Iran that were not applicable in the European Union.... It was unclear whether the United States intended to seize the vessel now that it has left Gibraltar." The Reuters story is here.

Andrew Kaczynski of CNN: "Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, was a founding member of a group more than a decade ago that described undocumented immigrants as 'foreign invaders' responsible for 'serious infectious diseases, drug running, gang violence, human trafficking, terrorism.' The group, State Legislators for Legal Immigration, was established in 2007, when an immigration revamp was being hotly debated in Congress. Its founding principle was that undocumented immigration represented an invasion of the United States on par with foreign invasion that should justify invoking war powers under the Constitution -- extreme rhetoric Cuccinelli has continued to use in recent years, and that has been adopted by ... Donald Trump and other Republicans." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Eric Schlosser in The Atlantic: "The immigration raid last week at seven poultry plants in rural Mississippi was a perfect symbol of the Trump administration’s racism, lies, hypocrisy, and contempt for the poor. It was also a case study in how an industry with a long history of defying the law has managed to shift the blame and punishment onto workers.... According to a recent study by the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins University, 'The industrial produce and animal production and processing systems in the U.S. would collapse without the immigrant and migratory workforce.' The handful of multinational companies that dominate our food system are hardly being forced to employ immigrant workers. These firms have for many years embraced the opportunity to exploit them for profit.... What Trump has described as an immigrant 'invasion' was actually a corporate recruitment drive for poor, vulnerable, undocumented, often desperate workers." --s

Azam Ahmed of the New York Times: "... a ... staggering number of Central Americans [are] fleeing violence and dysfunction — and ... the Trump administration is waging ... a dogged fight to keep them out. Across Latin America, a murder epidemic is underway. Most years, more than 100,000 people are killed, largely young men on the periphery of broken societies, where gangs and cartels sometimes take the place of the state. The turmoil has forced millions to flee the region and seek refuge in the United States, where they confront a system strained by record demand and a bitter fight over whether to accept them.... Violence against women, and domestic violence in particular, is a powerful and often overlooked factor in the migration crisis. Latin America and the Caribbean are home to 14 of the 25 deadliest nations in the world for women.... And Central America, the region where most of those seeking asylum in the United States are fleeing, is at the heart of the crisis.... Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions ... issued a decision last year to try to halt victims of domestic violence, among other crimes, from seeking asylum.... Then, last month ... William P. Barr, went further" and determined to halt whole families.

John Timmer of ArsTechnica: "This week, the US Department of Energy released a report that looks back on the state of wind power in the US by running the numbers on 2018. The analysis shows that wind hardware prices are dropping, even as new turbine designs are increasing the typical power generated by each turbine. As a result, recent wind farms have gotten so cheap that you can build and operate them for less than the expected cost of buying fuel for an equivalent natural gas plant.... 2018 saw about 7.6 GigaWatts of new wind capacity added to the grid, accounting for just over 20 percent of the US' capacity additions. This puts it in third place behind natural gas and solar power." --s

Pat Rynard of Iowa Starting Line interviews the only person who attended Rep. Steve King's town hall Saturday -- a hung-over student who is a Democrat & declined to have her picture taken with King “mostly because I plan to run for office and I don’t need a picture of Steve King and I [me!] shaking hands....”

Presidential Race

M.J. Lee & Gregory Krieg of CNN: Elizabeth "Warren's efforts to make amends and rebuild her relationships with the Native American community ... have gone far beyond ... apologies, according to CNN's interviews with almost a dozen people. They have included private meetings with tribal leaders, seeking counsel from Native Americans friends, and, on Friday, the release of a set of ambitious policy plans aimed at helping Native people. That outreach will unfold in public on Monday, when Warren speaks at length alongside tribal leaders at a conference hosted by the Native voting rights group, Four Directions, in Sioux City, Iowa." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: In case you've forgotten, this is what a leader is supposed to do, and often does, when he's made a mistake & inadvertently insulted someone or some group.

Greg Olear in Medium: "The Republican base doesn’t care about sex crimes — unless they involve the Clintons, that is.... Not only do they not believe women, they actively seek to destroy them, as state legislatures have demonstrated in Georg[ia], Alabama, Ohio, Missouri, and elsewhere. It is unlikely that these rank misogynists will be swayed by the dalliances of the late Jeffrey Epstein, however deplorable, unless they somehow implicate Bill Clinton.... As horrible as it is to relate, the fact is that as long as the focus is on sex crimes, Trump — and his undearly-departed chum Jeffrey Epstein — will not be damaged. Again: his base does not care.... The only way to get selfish people to hop to is to demonstrate that Trump and his cronies are ripping off — stealing from — the American people. From them. It’s all about the money." --s


Jenna McGregor
of the Washington Post: "The organization representing the nation’s most powerful chief executives is rewriting how it views the purpose of a corporation, updating its decades-old endorsement of the theory that shareholders’ interests should come above all else. The new statement, released Monday by the Business Roundtable, suggests balancing the needs of a company’s various constituencies and comes at a time of widening income inequality, rising expectations from the public for corporate behavior and proposals from Democratic lawmakers that aim to revamp or even restructure American capitalism.... The new statement puts an official stamp on a more stakeholder-driven approach to governance that some CEOs have individually advocated for in recent years. It comes more than two decades after the lobbying group, in a 1997 document about corporate governance principles that it has periodically updated, took an explicitly shareholder-first stance." ...

     ... The CNBC story is here. Thanks to Ken W. for the link. In today's Comments, Ken seems a bit skeptical of this miraculous reform.

Stephanie Kirchgaessner of the Guardian: "A new Google policy that was meant to rein in deceptive advertising by 'crisis pregnancy centers' has a loophole that is allowing the centers to continue to post misleading ads on the search engine.... The loophole means only users who are specifically searching under the term 'abortion' will be provided information on Google’s website about whether a particular health care clinic does – or does not – offer the procedure to women. If a user searches under other terms, like 'free pregnancy test' or 'pregnancy symptoms', no such information appears under the advertisements for the same clinics." --s

Russian Mafia Comes to Arizona. Alison Steinbach of the Arizona Republic: "A proposal to build an aluminum smelting facility ... along the highway connecting Wenden and Salome[, Arizona,] would bring a new industry to the area [and 30 jobs].... Residents, meanwhile, fear it will also bring a host of problems.... Plus, they have questions about the business owners' backgrounds.... [The aluminum company] Technocon is headed by Jacob Gitman, who is known in some legal documents as Yakov Gitman. He was born in the Soviet Union and attended university in Moscow before moving to the United States around 1990.... Jacob Gitman, his companies and his business associates have faced multiple lawsuits alleging fraudulent business dealings.... Jacob Gitman also managed until 2011 Suncoast Air Cargo with Anatoly Golubchik. In 2014, Golubchik and his business partners were convicted of laundering $100 million as part of a 'Russian-American organized crime ring' and a 'racketeering conspiracy' involving primarily Russian and Ukrainian individuals and various shell companies.... Gitman's wife Alisa is a real estate agent for Sib Realty, which sells condos at multiple Trump properties in Florida." --s

The Royal Duke of York (He had a cache of girls. He met them in New York, as Mummy clutched her pearls.) The Daily Mail publishes a video & still shots of Britain's Prince Andrew waving goodbye to a young woman at the front door of Jeffrey Epstein's Manhattan mansion in December 2010. "By then Epstein ... was on a child sex offender register, yet one observer told The Mail on Sunday that several of the women leaving and entering the home while Andrew was apparently inside 'looked very young indeed'." Via the Washington Post. ...

     ... "We Are Not Amused." Rebecca Klar of the Hill: “'The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes. His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behavior is abhorrent,' Buckingham Palace said in a statement, according to multiple reports.” Mrs. McC: "Appalling" & "abhorrent," yes. But hard to dismiss with a royal tut-tut.

Mack Lamoureux & Ben Mackuch of Vice News: "A neo-Nazi group focused on providing paramilitary-style training to far-right extremists has been conducting a massive recruitment drive and claims to have already conducted live-fire training with its members. The Base [the translation of Al-Qaeda in English], which is connected to extreme-right groups the Atomwaffen Division and the Feuerkrieg Division, has been promoting its growth on social media with photos announcing its presence in major cities across North America, including New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, and in Europe, South Africa, and Australia.... 'The Base is particularly dangerous because of [its] focus on developing and sharing skills useful for terrorism and guerilla warfare, such as ambushes, weapons training, and making explosives,' [JoshuaFisher-Birch [of the Counter Extremism Project, a U.S.-based terrorism watchdog] said. 'This is a radical group that not only wants violence, but is preparing for it.'" --s

Another of the "Very Fine People" at Charlottesville. Jon Haworth of ABC News: "An Ohio man has been arrested for making threats toward a local Jewish community center in New Middletown. James Reardon Jr., 20, has been charged with telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing and is being held in the Mahoning County Jail on $250,000 bond with a court hearing planned for Monday morning. On Friday, the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force raided Reardon’s house and seized a cache of weapons and ammunition, including dozens of round of ammo, multiple semi-automatic weapons, a gas mask and bulletproof armor.... Police initially became aware of Reardon on July 11 when he posted a video on Instagram of a man shooting a semi-automatic rifle with sirens and screams in the background. He tagged the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown in the post.... Reardon is an avowed anti-Semite and white nationalist and attended the deadly 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, according to WYTV." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Dakin Andone, et al., of CNN: "Authorities this weekend announced they had foiled three potential mass shootings after arresting three men in different states who expressed interest in or threatened to carry them out. All three cases were brought to authorities' attention thanks to tips from the public.... In Connecticut, 22-year-old Brandon Wagshol was arrested after authorities said he had expressed interest in committing a mass shooting on Facebook, according to a statement from the FBI and the Norwalk Police Department.... Tristan Scott Wix of Daytona Beach, Florida, was arrested in a Winn-Dixie parking lot on Friday after he sent his ex-girlfriend a series of disturbing texts in which he allegedly threatened to commit a mass shooting, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office said. The ex-girlfriend alerted authorities.... And in Ohio, 20-year-old James Patrick Reardon was arrested for allegedly threatening to carry out a shooting at a Youngstown Jewish community center."

Beyond the Beltway

New York. Ashley Southall of the New York Times: “An administrative judge, in a 46-page opinion obtained by The New York Times, found [the] explanation 'Officer Daniel Pantaleo gave in explaining how he killed Eric Garner to be] 'implausible and self-serving.' The judge, Rosemarie Maldonado, who has recommended that Officer Pantaleo be fired, concluded that he had been 'untruthful' during the interview, according to the opinion that grew out of a departmental trial that ended in June.” Here's a Huffington Post summary of the Times story.

Way Beyond

Hong Kong. Verna Yu & Lily Kuo of the Guardian: "An estimated 1.7 million people in Hong Kong – a quarter of the population – defied police orders to stage a peaceful march after a rally in a downtown park, after two months of increasingly violent clashes that have prompted severe warnings from Beijing and failed to win concessions from the city’s government. Huge crowds filled Victoria Park on Sunday afternoon and spilled on to nearby streets, forcing police to block traffic in the area. Torrential rain came down an hour into the rally, turning the park into a sea of umbrellas. At the same time, protesters walked towards Central, the heart of Hong Kong’s business district, and surrounded government headquarters. Police had turned down a plan for Sunday’s march submitted by the Civil Human Rights Front group and gave permission only for a rally in the park. Those defying the ban risked being charged with unlawful assembly, which can lead to up to five years in prison." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) 

U.K. Karla Adam & Hannah Knowles of the Washington Post: “An increasingly likely 'no-deal' Brexit could wreak havoc on Britain’s economy, infrastructure and social fabric, the government says in classified documents leaked to a British newspaper. The costs of food and social care would rise, while medicines could be delayed, the Sunday Times reported. Border delays would interrupt fuel supplies. Ports would suffer severe disruptions and recover only partially after three months, leaving traffic at 50 to 70 percent of the current flow. Those are some of the effects predicted by 'Operation Yellowhammer,' which the newspaper said was compiled this month by Britain’s Cabinet Office and available to those with “need to know” security clearances.” ...

... Rowena Mason of the Guardian: “Downing Street has reacted with fury to the leak of an official document predicting that a no-deal Brexit would lead to food, medicine and petrol shortages, with No 10 sources blaming the disclosure on a hostile former minister intent on ruining Boris Johnson’s trip to see EU leaders this week. The leaked document, detailing preparations under Operation Yellowhammer, argues that the most likely scenario is severe extended delays to medicine supplies and shortages of some fresh foods, combined with price rises, if there is a no-deal Brexit on 31 October. It said there would be a return to a hard border on the island of Ireland before long and a 'three-month meltdown' at ports unable to cope with extra checks. Protests could break out across the UK, requiring significant police intervention, and two oil refineries could close, with thousands of job losses, according to the documents.”

Saturday
Aug172019

The Commentariat -- August 18, 2019

Afternoon Update:

Verna Yu & Lily Kuo of the Guardian: "An estimated 1.7 million people in Hong Kong -- a quarter of the population -- defied police orders to stage a peaceful march after a rally in a downtown park, after two months of increasingly violent clashes that have prompted severe warnings from Beijing and failed to win concessions from the city's government. Huge crowds filled Victoria Park on Sunday afternoon and spilled on to nearby streets, forcing police to block traffic in the area. Torrential rain came down an hour into the rally, turning the park into a sea of umbrellas. At the same time, protesters walked towards Central, the heart of Hong Kong's business district, and surrounded government headquarters. Police had turned down a plan for Sunday's march submitted by the Civil Human Rights Front group and gave permission only for a rally in the park. Those defying the ban risked being charged with unlawful assembly, which can lead to up to five years in prison."

The Greenland Story Is Not a Hoax. Zack Budryk of the Hill: "White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow confirmed on Sunday that the Trump administration is 'looking at' purchasing Greenland following reports of its interest last week." The Washington Post story is here.

Allan Smith of NBC News: "Top White House economic advisers on Sunday dismissed growing concerns that the U.S. economy is headed for a recession. National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow and White House Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro appeared on a series of Sunday political talk shows to defend the president's handling of the economy -- particularly the ongoing trade war with China -- and to downplay recent warning signs that the economy could be headed towards a downturn.... 'Meet the Press' host Chuck Todd pointed out that in 2007, just before the onset of the Great Recession, Kudlow wrote that 'there's no recession coming' and the pessimistas were wrong.'"

Andrew Kaczynski of CNN: "Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, was a founding member of a group more than a decade ago that described undocumented immigrants as 'foreign invaders' responsible for 'serious infectious diseases, drug running, gang violence, human trafficking, terrorism.' The group, State Legislators for Legal Immigration, was established in 2007, when an immigration revamp was being hotly debated in Congress. Its founding principle was that undocumented immigration represented an invasion of the United States on par with foreign invasion that should justify invoking war powers under the Constitution -- extreme rhetoric Cuccinelli has continued to use in recent years, and that has been adopted by ... Donald Trump and other Republicans."

Jon Haworth of ABC News: "An Ohio man has been arrested for making threats toward a local Jewish community center in New Middletown. James Reardon Jr., 20, has been charged with telecommunications harassment and aggravated menacing and is being held in the Mahoning County Jail on $250,000 bond with a court hearing planned for Monday morning. On Friday, the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force raided Reardon's house and seized a cache of weapons and ammunition, including dozens of round of ammo, multiple semi-automatic weapons, a gas mask and bulletproof armor.... Police initially became aware of Reardon on July 11 when he posted a video on Instagram of a man shooting a semi-automatic rifle with sirens and screams in the background. He tagged the Jewish Community Center of Youngstown in the post.... Reardon is an avowed anti-Semite and white nationalist and attended the deadly 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, according to WYTV."

~~~~~~~~~~

Jennifer Jacobs & Jacob Sink of Bloomberg: "Some top aides to ... Donald Trump sought for months for a way to give states the power to block undocumented immigrant children from enrolling in public schools -- all part of the administration's efforts to stem illegal crossings at the southern U.S. border. Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller had been a driving force behind the effort as early as 2017, pressing cabinet officials and members of the White House Domestic Policy Council repeatedly to devise a way to limit enrollment...that could be carried out without congressional approval.... Ultimately, they abandoned the idea after being told repeatedly that any such effort ran afoul of a 1982 Supreme Court case guaranteeing access to public schools." --s

Liz Sly of the Washington Post: "The global standoff between the United States and Iran took a new turn Saturday after the United States issued a warrant for the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker detained in Gibraltar, just hours after the ship was ordered released. The legal action thrust the Grace 1 supertanker into the heart of tensions between Washington and Tehran a day after a dispute over its fate between Britain and Iran had apparently been resolved. The British navy intercepted the Grace 1 off Gibraltar last month on the suspicion that it was delivering oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions. The move triggered the capture by Iran two weeks later of a British oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, apparently in retaliation. A Gibraltar court ordered the release of the Grace 1 on Thursday after Britain said it had received guarantees from Tehran that the ship would not deliver oil to Syria, prompting speculation that Iran would release the British ship. Instead, the Grace 1's departure may be further delayed as authorities in Gibraltar consider whether to act on the U.S. warrant...." ...

     ... A USA Today story, by Kim Hjelmgaard, is here.

Jason DeParle of the New York Times has a long piece on how Stephen Miller became Stephen Miller. Mrs. McC: I didn't read the story, except the part about Lyndon Johnson, which once again convinces me he would have been our greatest modern president but for his monumental mistake of pursuing the Viet Nam war. Oh, I did catch the part near the top where I learned Miller's first job in D.C. was working for Michele Bachmann. ...

... Nick Miroff & Josh Dawsey of the Washington Post also write a long story on Stephen Miller. "... Miller's power in the White House is at its peak, according to top administration officials. As one of Trump's longest-tenured and most trusted aides, his influence in the West Wing is rivaled only by Jared Kushner..., they say.... Among Miller's co-workers are a few who believe he harbors racist views. 'I don't know what other principle could animate such a laserlike focus,' said one former career official at DHS. Miller bristled at the claim, calling anyone who labels him a racist 'an ignorant fool, a liar and a reprobate who has no place in civilized society." Mrs. McC: Even if you thought his nativism was the best thing since white bread, you'd want to smack him upside the head. ...

... Michael Luo of the New Yorker: "... the United States has actually been a leader in developing explicitly racist policies of nationality and immigration." Mrs. McC: As Alex Ross of the New Yorker pointed out in a review of English-language books about Nazis, "Hitler praises America as the one state that has made progress toward a primarily racial conception of citizenship, by 'excluding certain races from naturalization.'" Hitler also wrote approvingly of the white American settlers who had "gunned down the millions of redskins to a few hundred thousand."

Edward Helmore of the Guardian: "The Trump administration has fired another shot in its war with the US press, suspending the credentials of Brian Karem, White House correspondent for Playboy and an analyst for CNN. The 30-day revocation was announced on Friday and echoes hugely controversial action taken against CNN's Jim Acosta in November 2018.... Karem had his pass suspended after an altercation with former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka in the White House Rose Garden in July, around a 'social media summit' convened by Trump and attended by some of his most ardent supporters. Both men attracted criticism for their behaviour.... In a statement on Saturday, White House Correspondents' Association president Jonathan Karl said the group was 'deeply concerned', as 'such a move could have a chilling effect on working journalists'."

** Asher Stockler of Newsweek: "Senator Ron Wyden blasted the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Friday after the agency's Republican commissioners blocked an attempt to fully investigate the National Rifle Association (NRA) over reports that Russia may have used the gun-rights group as a conduit for its election interference efforts, and possibly in contravention of campaign finance law.... Ellen Weintraub, chairwoman of the FEC, excoriated her Republican colleagues for their contrary votes which resulted in a 2-2 tie on Friday, preventing the inquiry from moving forward. 'For the Republican commissioners to apply [this] approach to a matter of such national importance, and in doing so turn a blind eye to the possibility that a foreign adversary secretly funneled tens of millions of dollars into a presidential campaign, is to bring their obstruction to a new and breathtakingly damaging level,' she said in a statement. The House Ways and Means Committee, the oversight body in the House of Representatives with jurisdiction over non-profit organizations, has so far declined to launch a formal probe of the NRA, though it is under the control of Democrat Richard Neal." --s

Mike Baker & Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs of the New York Times: "Hundreds of people gathered on Saturday for a rally at a waterfront park in Portland, Ore., where far-right groups faced off with anti-fascist counterprotesters and brought much of the downtown area to a standstill. President Trump weighed in on the tense situation in Portland on Saturday morning, calling out the anti-fascist group known as Antifa on Twitter and suggesting support for labeling it a terror organization. He did not mention any of the right-wing groups, although both they and Antifa have a history of using violence against their opponents."

If these officers felt empowered to attack a group of protesters in front of the public and the media, imagine what kind of violence must be taking place inside the prison, out of [sight], against vulnerable immigrants and people of color. -- Amy Anthony of Never Again Action (cited in the Washington Post) ...

... Providence Journal (August 16): "A correctional officer at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility [-- which houses ICE-detained immigrants --] has resigned a day after being placed on administrative leave.... Captain Thomas Woodworth resigned from his position ... on Friday, August 16, 2019,' [a] statement [from the facility] said. 'The incident which occurred on August 14 remains under active investigation by the Rhode Island State Police and under internal investigation by the Wyatt.'" On Wednesday night, a guard at the facility, believed to be Woodworth, apparently purposely drove his pickup truck into a group of protesters who were demonstrating against the jailing of ICE detainees. After initially stopping, the driver pushed forward as people screamed. Never Again Action, whose members were injured & endangered, demanded that Woodworth face criminal charges & that the officers who pepper-sprayed the protesters, sending three to the hospital, also face accountability. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Woodworth is a big white guy who ostensibly worked for law enforcement. If he were a big black or Hispanic guy not connected to law enforcement, do you suppose he would have been able to walk away from such a violent incident while police investigated? ...

... When You Think Fox Can't Get Any Worse. Justin Baragona of the Daily Beast (August 16): "Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs on Thursday applauded the driver who purposely ran his vehicle through a crowd of protesters at an ICE facility, saying the man was well 'within his rights' to plow through the crowd.... Airing a clip of the incident on Thursday's broadcast of Lou Dobbs Tonight, Dobbs set the scene by placing all the blame on the demonstrators." ...

     ... Mrs. McC Note to New Drivers: It is never, ever justified, moral or legal to use your vehicle as a deadly weapon to mow down people, even if you thought they were mean to you. ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: Baragona notes that "An official told ABC News that the driver of the truck was not an ICE employee." The other day I incorrectly IDed him as an ICE officer. The Wyatt Detention Facility is a private operation which has contracted with ICE to hold detained immigrants.

Ali Watkins, et al., of the New York Times: "... an examination of [Jeffrey] Epstein's last days by The New York Times, gathered from dozens of interviews with law enforcement officials, Bureau of Prisons employees, lawyers and others, suggests that Mr. Epstein's death came after he started to realize the limits of his ability to deploy his wealth and privilege in the legal system." Mrs. McC: The Times today is devoting a big chunk of its front-page real estate to monsters, first Stephen Miller, now Epstein.

The Bad News: Ryan Prior of CNN: "Alaska has been in the throes of an unprecedented heat wave this summer, and the heat stress is killing salmon in large numbers." The Good News: Now there will be fewer salmon for Trump, the EPA & Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy to kill off with that salmon-killing mining project they approved.

Presidential Race 2020

Has Joe Biden Paid Attention to Anything This Century? Tal Axelrod of the Hill: "... Joe Biden doubled down on his vow to cooperate with Republicans should he be elected president, saying he successfully worked across the aisle as vice president. 'There's an awful lot of really good Republicans out there,' he said Saturday at a Massachusetts fundraiser. 'I get in trouble for saying that with Democrats, but the truth of the matter is, every time we ever got in trouble with our administration, remember who got sent up to Capitol Hill to fix it? Me. Because they know I respect the other team."

News Lede

Daily Beast: "Peter Fonda, the two-time Oscar nominee and star of 1969's Easy Rider, died on Friday morning at the age of 79. Fonda, the son of actor Henry Fonda, brother of actress Jane Fonda and the father of Bridget Fonda, passed away in his Los Angeles home at 11:05 a.m. surrounded by his loved ones, according to a statement from his family." The New York Times obituary is here.