The Wires

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

Friday
Aug162019

The Commentariat -- August 17, 2019

Michelle Goldberg of the New York Times: "In a world spiraling towards chaos, we can begin to see the fruits of Donald Trump's erratic, amoral and incompetent foreign policy, his systematic undermining of alliances and hollowing out of America's diplomatic and national security architecture.... The whole structure is teetering. To be sure, most of these crises have causes other than Trump.... But in one flashpoint after another, the Trump administration has either failed to act appropriately, or acted in ways that have made things worse.... [The U.S.] will never again play the same leadership role internationally that it did before Trump. And that's the best-case scenario.... In foreign affairs as in the economy, the consequences of not having a functioning American administration are coming into focus."

Karen DeYoung, et al., of the Washington Post: "U.S. negotiators have made significant advances in recent talks with the Taliban, and the two sides are close to announcing an agreement on an initial U.S. troop withdrawal, along with plans to start direct discussions between the militants and the Afghan government, according to American and foreign officials. President Trump met Friday with Cabinet officials and other senior national security advisers for a briefing by Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief U.S. envoy to the talks. Attendees at the meeting, held at Trump's New Jersey golf resort, included Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joseph F. Dunford Jr., CIA Director Gina Haspel and White House national security adviser John Bolton. An initial withdrawal under the proposed deal would include roughly 5,000 of the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In exchange, the Taliban would agree to renounce al-Qaeda and to bar it from activities such as fundraising, recruiting, training and operational planning in areas under Taliban control." ...

     ... The Time story, by Kimberly Dozier, is here.

... Lara Jakes of the New York Times: "... as the Taliban and the United States move toward a preliminary peace agreement -- which could be released in days -- there are growing fears that Afghan women will lose the gains they have made over nearly two decades.... Officials said the preliminary deal [between the U.S. & the Taliban] is not expected to include specific assurances that women will continue to have equal opportunities in education, employment and government.... Women's rights are supposed to be addressed in the future talks [between the Taliban & the Afghan government].... Experts on Afghan issues remain skeptical of Taliban claims that they support women's rights -- a declaration that, at best, is largely untested. At worst, it is defied by continued attacks, threats and oppression against women by Taliban members in local districts across Afghanistan even as their leaders say they want peace." ...

... Maybe Afghan women's rights would have received proper consideration if not for this guy: ...

... Wesley Morgan of Politico: "Trump has repeatedly made it known he wants to remove all U.S. troops from the 18-year-old Afghan conflict, a topic he returned to Friday afternoon as his advisers briefed him on the status of peace talks with the Taliban. But his public statements and leaks of his closed-door demands have weakened the hand of his negotiators by making it clear just how desperately the president wants a deal, according to multiple current and former U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the deliberations."

One Night in New Hampshire

As the Worm Turns. Matthew Choi of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Thursday advocated the return of more mental health institutions to combat gun violence, while also throwing his support behind background checks for gun purchases. Speaking with reporters in New Jersey before heading to a campaign rally in New Hampshire, Trump said that mental health was an under-considered factor in gun violence and that his administration would examine it 'at a level that hasn't been done before.... These people are mentally ill,' Trump said of mass shooters, 'and nobody talks about that.' Mental illness is a frequent talking point among Republican lawmakers when dealing with gun violence.... 'We have to start building institutions again because, you know, if you look at the '60s and '70s, so many of these institutions were closed, and the people were just allowed to go onto the streets,' Trump said on Thursday. 'That was a terrible thing for our country.' Trump reiterated his views during a rally in Manchester, N.H, later Thursday night, using dated terms such as 'insane' and 'deranged.' Rather than proposing methods for treatment, he spoke about the need to keep those with mental illnesses isolated and off the street." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Jessica Taylor of NPR: "At his first campaign rally after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, President Trump appeared to back away from supporting a possible expansion of background checks in favor of a push for more attention to mental illness. 'There is a mental illness problem that has to be dealt with. It's not the gun that pulls the trigger -- it's the person holding the gun,' Trump said to roars and a standing ovation from the Manchester, N.H., crowd.... In the weeks since [the massacres in El Paso & Dayton, Ohio], the president has urged Congress to strengthen background checks, despite opposition from the National Rifle Association.... But at the rally, Trump didn't mention any of those policies." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times: "Congressional Republicans recently circulated talking points on gun violence that falsely described the El Paso massacre and other mass shootings as 'violence from the left.' A document obtained by the Tampa Bay Times and sent by House Republicans provides a framework for how to respond to anticipated questions... The answers are boilerplate Republican arguments against tougher gun restrictions. But it also included this question: 'Do you believe white nationalism is driving more mass shootings recently?' The suggested response is to steer the conversation away from white nationalism to an argument that implies both sides are to blame. '...We also can't excuse violence from the left such as the El Paso shooter, the recent Colorado shooters, the Congressional baseball shooter, Congresswoman Giffords' shooter and Antifa.'" ...

"Man of the Year." Tara Subramaniam, et al., of CNN: "At a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday..., Donald Trump made a handful of false claims, including returning to a claim he's made since the final days of the 2016 campaign. He said he was once named Michigan's 'Man of the Year.'... Neither we nor anyone else has been able to find a single detail. CNN has reached out to the White House and the Trump campaign about the claim, but has not heard back.... Trump has repeated versions of the claim at least six times since [November 6, 2016], including at a roundtable with corporate leaders in Michigan in 2017 and a rally in Wisconsin this April.... During the rally, Trump also repeated several of the false claims he's been touting throughout his 2020 campaign events, including those around China and tariffs, VA Choice, and payments to Iran." The writers "look at the facts." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

Trump Fat-Shamed His Own Fan. Philip Bump of the Washington Post: "The man Trump mocked as heavyset at his New Hampshire rally was a Trump supporter.... The man to whom Trump appeared to be referring was sitting near [the protesters] and quickly leaped into action. He grabbed one banner from a protester and threw it into a nearby entryway. He grabbed the second and, after a brief struggle, threw it over the edge of the balcony where it fluttered into the crowd below.... The crowd cheered the man who'd grabbed the banners.... Update: The Daily Mail's David Martosko reports that Trump was in fact referring to the man who confronted the protesters, identified as Frank Dawson. Trump later called and spoke with him." The NBC News story, by Lauren Egan, is here. ...

Frank Rich: "When the American buck is faltering, the buck always stops with the president.... As last night's rambling, repetitive, and often incoherent 90-minute rant at a rally in New Hampshire indicated, Trump is in full panic that a recession may be coming.... We now have a president whose economic 'team' consists of Fox News talking heads like Larry Kudlow, sycophants like Steve Mnuchin, and nutjobs like Peter Navarro, the White House trade-war guru who this week could be found on television likening the right-wing editorial page of Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal to the Chinese Communist organ, the People's Daily." Rich also comments on the Jeffrey Epstein case & the Democratic primaries. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Josh Boak & Jonathan Lamire of the AP: "Though a pre-election recession here is far from certain, a downturn would be a devastating blow to the president, who has made a strong economy his central argument for a second term. Trump advisers fear a weakened economy would hurt him with moderate Republican and independent voters who have been willing to give him a pass on some his incendiary policies and rhetoric." Mrs. McC: I'm sorry, anyone who is willing to accept Trump's white supremacist "polices & rhetoric" cannot be a "moderate."


Barak Ravid
of Israel's Channel 13 News (in Axios): "Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said Friday that she will not enter Israel due to the 'oppressive conditions' placed upon her visit, despite the Israeli government's permission to enter Israel on humanitarian grounds to visit her family in the occupied West Bank, including her 90-year-old grandmother." Related stories linked below. (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Update: Here's the New York Times' story, by David Halbfinger. (Also linked yesterday.)

Ha Ha Ha. Andy Borowitz reports on Denmark's counteroffer to Trump's inquiries into purchasing Greenland. Perfect! (Again, satire has lost its punch. Borowitz's imaginary response sounds appropriate.) Thanks to Islander for the link. (Also linked yesterday.)

"NO SCAN, NO PAY." Anya Litvak of the Pittsburgh Post-Express: "The choice for thousands of union workers at Royal Dutch Shell's petrochemical plant in Beaver County was to either spend Tuesday standing in a giant hall waiting for ... Donald Trump to speak, or to take the day off with no pay. 'Your attendance is not mandatory,' read the rules that Shell sent to union leaders a day ahead of the visit to the $6 billion construction site. But only those that showed up at 7 a.m., scanned their cards, and prepared to stand for hours -- through lunch but without lunch -- would be paid. 'NO SCAN, NO PAY,' the rules said."

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Oh, I'll just leave you with the headline: "A New Species of Leech Is Discovered Near Washington, D.C." I think that should be "in Washington, D.C."

Dominic Holden of BuzzFeed News: "The Trump administration on Friday took one of its most aggressive steps yet to legalize anti-transgender discrimination by telling the Supreme Court that federal law allows firing workers solely for being transgender, arguing a Michigan funeral home could fire a transgender woman because she wanted to wear women's clothing on the job.... The latest court filing asks the nation's top court to establish federal case law in a potentially sweeping setback for LGBTQ rights nationwide.... The Justice Department's brief on Friday contends the word ['sex' in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964] refers to a person's 'biological sex' and, further, that transgender discrimination isn't addressed by a 1989 Supreme Court ruling that found Title VII bans sex stereotyping." Mrs. McC: Other than cruelty, there seems to be no reason for the DOJ's position.

Appeals Court Okays Jerking around Migrants. Nomann Merchant of the AP: "A federal appeals court on Friday cleared the way for the U.S. government to forbid Central American immigrants from seeking asylum at the two busiest stretches of the southern border in a partial legal victory for the Trump administration. The ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allows ... Donald Trump to enforce the policy in New Mexico and Texas, rejecting asylum seekers who cross from Mexico into either state. Under Friday's ruling, U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar's July 24 order stopping the policy would apply only in California and Arizona, which are covered by the 9th Circuit. The two busiest areas for unauthorized border crossings are in South Texas' Rio Grande Valley and the region around El Paso, Texas, which includes New Mexico. Nearly 50,000 people in July crossed the U.S. border without permission in those two regions, according to the U.S. Border Patrol. The policy would deny asylum to anyone who passes through another country on the way to the U.S. without seeking protection there."

Appeals Court Okays Jerking around Women. AP: "A U.S. appeals court has declined once again to immediately halt new Trump administration rules that bar taxpayer-funded clinics from referring patients for abortions. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Friday rejected a request from more than 20 states, Planned Parenthood and the American Medical Association to block the rules from taking effect while the case proceeds. A three-judge panel and an 11-judge panel have already said the rules can take effect while the administration appeals lower court rulings that blocked them. Oral arguments are next month."

Occam's Razor, Hanlon's Razor & Sampson's Scalpel. Ali Watkins & Michael Gold of the New York Times: "The New York City medical examiner said on Friday that Jeffrey Epstein's death in a federal jail cell was a suicide, confirming he had hanged himself. Mr. Epstein's death had set off a wave of unfounded conspiracy theories, as people speculated online, without evidence, that he might have been killed to keep him from providing information to prosecutors about others in his social circle, including President Trump, former President Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew of Britain. But the chief medical examiner in New York City, Dr. Barbara Sampson, ruled out foul play. She released a terse statement saying that, after an autopsy and a 'careful review of all investigative information,' she had determined the cause of Mr. Epstein's death was 'hanging' and the manner was 'suicide.' Three of Mr. Epstein's lawyers, Martin G. Weinberg, Reid Weingarten and Michael Miller, challenged the findings and vowed to conduct their own investigation." ...

     ... The NBC News story, by Tom Winter & others, is here.

But She Does Look Lovely. Betsy Woodruff of the Daily Beast: "The NRA spent tens of thousands of dollars bringing hair and makeup artists around the country for [Susan LaPierre,] the wife of its CEO [Wayne LaPierre], two sources told The Daily Beast. The expenses -- which included plane flights and luxury hotel stays for the stylists -- are bound to fuel an already-raging debate over what some see as a spendthrift culture in the NRA's upper echelons. The NRA, meanwhile, called it a 'non-story,' and said their ex-ad firm was responsible for any such expenses." (Also linked yesterday.)

P. R. Lockhart of Vox: "Of the many myths told about American slavery, one of the biggest is that it was an archaic practice that only enriched a small number of men.... I recently spoke with [historian & author Edward] Baptist about how cotton slavery transformed the American economy, how torture, violence, and family separations were used to maximize profits, and how understanding the economic power of slavery impacts current discussions of reparations. A transcript of our conversation has been edited for length and clarity." --s

Way Beyond the Beltway

Australia/Fiji. Kate Lyons of the Guardian: "Scott Morrison has been accused of causing an extraordinary rift between Australia and Pacific countries by the prime minister of Fiji, who said the Australian prime minister's insulting behaviour while at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu would push nations closer to China.... Frank Bainimarama, the prime minister of Fiji and a political heavyweight in the region, said Morrison's approach during the leaders' retreat on Thursday was 'very insulting and condescending'.... Bainimarama also commented on the deputy prime minister Michael McCormack's comments that Pacific island nations affected by the climate crisis would continue to survive 'because many of their workers come here to pick our fruit', saying they were insulting and disrespectful." --s

Thursday
Aug152019

The Commentariat -- August 16, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Frank Rich: "When the American buck is faltering, the buck always stops with the president.... As last night's rambling, repetitive, and often incoherent 90-minute rant at a rally in New Hampshire indicated, Trump is in full panic that a recession may be coming.... We now have a president whose economic 'team' consists of Fox News talking heads like Larry Kudlow, sycophants like Steve Mnuchin, and nutjobs like Peter Navarro, the White House trade-war guru who this week could be found on television likening the right-wing editorial page of Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal to the Chinese Communist organ, the People's Daily." Rich also comments on the Jeffrey Epstein case & the Democratic primaries.

Ha Ha Ha. Andy Borowitz reports on Denmark's counteroffer to Trump's inquiries into purchasing Greenland. Perfect! (Again, satire has lost its punch. Borowitz's imaginary response sounds appropriate.) Thanks to Islander for the link.

Forgot this earlier. As the Worm Turns. Matthew Choi of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Thursday advocated the return of more mental health institutions to combat gun violence, while also throwing his support behind background checks for gun purchases. Speaking with reporters in New Jersey before heading to a campaign rally in New Hampshire, Trump said that mental health was an under-considered factor in gun violence and that his administration would examine it 'at a level that hasn't been done before.... These people are mentally ill,' Trump said of mass shooters, 'and nobody talks about that.' Mental illness is a frequent talking point among Republican lawmakers when dealing with gun violence.... 'We have to start building institutions again because, you know, if you look at the '60s and '70s, so many of these institutions were closed, and the people were just allowed to go onto the streets,' Trump said on Thursday. 'That was a terrible thing for our country.' Trump reiterated his views during a rally in Manchester, N.H, later Thursday night, using dated terms such as 'insane' and 'deranged.' Rather than proposing methods for treatment, he spoke about the need to keep those with mental illnesses isolated and off the street." ...

... Jessica Taylor of NPR: "At his first campaign rally after mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, President Trump appeared to back away from supporting a possible expansion of background checks in favor of a push for more attention to mental illness. 'There is a mental illness problem that has to be dealt with. It's not the gun that pulls the trigger -- it's the person holding the gun,' Trump said to roars and a standing ovation from the Manchester, N.H., crowd.... In the weeks since [the massacres in El Paso & Dayton, Ohio], the president has urged Congress to strengthen background checks, despite opposition from the National Rifle Association.... But at the rally, Trump didn't mention any of those policies."

Barak Ravid of Israel's Channel 13 News (in Axios): "Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) said Friday that she will not enter Israel due to the 'oppressive conditions' placed upon her visit, despite the Israeli government's permission to enter Israel on humanitarian grounds to visit her family in the occupied West Bank, including her 90-year-old grandmother." Related stories linked below. ...

     ... Update: Here's the New York Times' story, by David Halbfinger.

"Man of the Year." Tara Subramaniam, et al., of CNN: "At a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Thursday..., Donald Trump made a handful of false claims, including returning to a claim he's made since the final days of the 2016 campaign. He said he was once named Michigan's 'Man of the Year.'... Neither we nor anyone else has been able to find a single detail. CNN has reached out to the White House and the Trump campaign about the claim, but has not heard back.... Trump has repeated versions of the claim at least six times since [November 6, 2016], including at a roundtable with corporate leaders in Michigan in 2017 and a rally in Wisconsin this April.... During the rally, Trump also repeated several of the false claims he's been touting throughout his 2020 campaign events, including those around China and tariffs, VA Choice, and payments to Iran." The writers "look at the facts."

But She Looks Lovely. Betsy Woodruff of the Daily Beast: "The NRA spent tens of thousands of dollars bringing hair and makeup artists around the country for [Susan LaPierre,] the wife of its CEO [Wayne LaPierre], two sources told The Daily Beast. The expenses -- which included plane flights and luxury hotel stays for the stylists -- are bound to fuel an already-raging debate over what some see as a spendthrift culture in the NRA's upper echelons. The NRA, meanwhile, called it a 'non-story,' and said their ex-ad firm was responsible for any such expenses."

~~~~~~~~~~

In today's news, we learn that the POTUS* wants to buy Greenland and the CEO of a major U.S. corporation had an affair with a well-known Russian agent. These stories, along with more important shocking news -- like a captain in the Immigration & Customs Enforcement agency ramming his truck into a crowd of Jewish protesters, after which other ICE officers pepper-sprayed the protesters -- make me feel disoriented. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie

Anderson Cooper on Trump's pushing Netanyahu to ban two female Muslim Members of the House from entering Israel:

... Isabel Kershner of the New York Times: "Under intense pressure from President Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government on Thursday barred two members of the United States Congress from entering Israel, reversing a previous decision to admit two of the president's most outspoken critics. By enlisting a foreign power to take action against two American citizens, let alone elected members of Congress, Mr. Trump crossed a line that other presidents have not, in effect exporting his partisan battles beyond the country's borders. And he demonstrated the lengths that he will go to to target his domestic opponents.... Israel's decision to bar the two congresswomen, Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, was widely criticized, including by prominent Israel supporters.... Mr. Trump's intervention also placed him at odds with the Republican leadership in Congress...." (The story, which has been updated, also was linked yesterday.) ...

... Barak Ravid of Israel's Channel 13 News (published in Axios), "President Trump tweeted Thursday that it would show 'great weakness' if Israel were to allow Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to enter the country during an upcoming congressional delegation visit on Sunday.... As Axios' Jonathan Swan and I previously reported, Trump has privately been telling advisers that he thinks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should use an anti-boycott law to bar the two freshman congresswomen over their support for the BDS movement. In response to our story, the White House said that Trump didn't pressure Israel in any way and that Israel can do whatever it wants." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Update: Let's look at Ravid & Swan's report, dated August 10, which Ravid linked above: "President Trump has told advisers he thinks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should use Israel's anti-boycott law to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from entering Israel, according to 3 sources familiar with the situation.... But Trump denies, through White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, ever giving any kind of directive to the Israelis. 'The Israeli government can do what they want. It's fake news,' Grisham said on Saturday." Emphasis added. Mrs. McC: Surprise! The new press secretary is just like the old press secretary. She lies. (And/or she repeats Trump's lies). (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Update. Zack Budryk of the Hill: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday criticized Israel's decision not to allow Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to visit.... 'Israel's denial of entry to Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar is a sign of weakness and beneath the dignity of the great State of Israel,' Pelosi said in a statement.... 'The President's statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the Office of the President,' she said. Pelosi has had her differences with Tlaib and Omar...." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Barak Ravid (in Axios): "Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri announced Friday that Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) will be allowed to enter Israel on humanitarian grounds to visit her family in the West Bank, including her 90-year-old grandmother.... In her letter to Deri requesting the visit, Tlaib said she would 'respect [her] restrictions' and would not 'promote boycotts against Israel.'" ...

... ** Zack Beauchamp of Vox: "Wednesday night, a pickup truck pulled up to a densely packed group of Jewish protesters outside an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Rhode Island. The driver stopped for a second and then accelerated into the protesters, sending several to the hospital -- though thankfully, none were seriously injured. The driver seems to have been one of the detention center's guards, according to the Washington Post; after the attack, other detention center guards tear-gassed the protesting Jews. All of this was captured on video, yet there are no reports that either the truck driver or the gas attackers have been arrested. The president of the United States, who claims to care for America's Jews, has had nothing to say about this. Instead, he spent Thursday morning talking about why Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib are the real anti-Semites.... There is no persuasive evidence that they hate 'all Jewish people.' [as Trump tweeted Wednesday]. Trump is dramatically distorting the two Muslim women's records for crassly partisan reasons, a transparent part of his campaign to try to convince America's overwhelmingly Democratic Jewish voters that they should switch sides." ...

     ... Kevin Andrade of the Providence Journal has a story on the pick-up truck/pepper-spray incident. Officials at the facility apparently put the pick-up driver on leave. "'Captain Thomas Woodworth has been placed on administrative leave pending the results of the independent investigation being conducted by the Rhode Island State Police, and the Wyatt's internal investigation,' the facility's warden said in a press release. Mrs. McC: I guess pepper-spraying is a-okay. Note that the guy using deadly force against peaceful protesters is an ICE captain. Oh, and at least one protester, a 64-year-old man, was severely injured, according to the Journal's report. ...

     ... Julia Reinstein of BuzzFeed News has more: "In a statement, a spokesperson for the state attorney general's office confirmed it was investigating 'what transpired last night at the Wyatt Detention Center in Central Falls.'... The incident occurred just two days after the second anniversary of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a white supremacist killed a woman when he drove a car into a crowd of people." ...

... ** Peter Beinart of the Forward: "Most officials of mainstream American Jewish organizations have never been to the places Tlaib and Omar planned to go. They've never talked to Palestinians whose homes are about to be bulldozed.... They've never heard Palestinian parents explain the terror they feel when Israeli soldiers come in the middle of the night to take their children to be interrogated.... American Jewish leaders think Netanyahu is a fool because they don't realize how much he has to hide.... But he likely ... understood that if Omar and Tlaib brought the American media with them to the West Bank, they might begin to puncture the cocoon that he and his American Jewish allies have worked so hard to build.... We who are white and Jewish and can name our Bar MitzvahParshas at Ben Gurion Airport must use our privilege to go the places Omar and Tlaib could not. We must find creative ways of showing other Americans what we see there. And we must make it unacceptable for Democrats to continue to visit Israel with AIPAC -- as 41 did last week — and thus sustain the cocoon that keeps Americans comfortably ignorant about Palestinian suffering.... And when Democratic politicians began demanding, by the dozens, to see the things that Omar and Tlaib were planning to see, then the cocoon will fall apart and the American debate over Israel will change."

More Bizarre News Brought to You by the Emperor Trump. Pamela Brown, et al., of CNN: "... Donald Trump has on multiple occasions brought up buying Greenland from the Danish government and the White House counsel's office has looked into the possibility, two sources told CNN on Thursday. Trump's interest in buying Greenland was first reported on Thursday by The Wall Street Journal. The Journal reported that people familiar with the deliberations said the President has raised the issue during meetings and dinners, asking aides and listening seriously about the possibility and advantages of owning Greenland. He also asked his White House counsel to research the matter, according to two of the people. Two of the people also told the Journal that Trump's aides were divided on the issue, with some praising it as solid economic strategy and others dismissing it as a passing fancy."

      ... The Washington Post story, by Damian Paletta, is here: "Trump is scheduled to visit Denmark in two weeks." Mrs. McC: I suppose the good news is that Trump is not planning, as far as we know, to declare war on Denmark & take Greenland as the spoils. ...

... Hayes Brown of BuzzFeed News: "The US has apparently considered purchasing Greenland before, including as recently as 1946 when president Harry Truman offered $100 million in gold to purchase it. Alas, poor Harry, he did not succeed in buying the ice sheet-covered landmass, but the US does have a military base there where it basically has free rein. So that's nice." ...

... Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen of Reuters: "Greenland on Friday dismissed the notion that it might be up for sale after reports that ... Donald Trump had privately discussed with his advisers the idea of buying the world's biggest island. 'We are open for business, but we're not for sale,' Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters.... 'If he is truly contemplating this, then this is final proof, that he has gone mad,' foreign affairs spokesman for the Danish People's Party, Soren Espersen, told broadcaster DR.... [Officials said] Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod ... would respond later on Friday." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: If you oppose the purchase of Greenland, there's a super-easy way to dissuade Trump from his latest weird idea. Just tell him this: "The Inuit population makes up approximately 85%-90% of the total (2009 est.)." End of story.

Clive McKeef of MarketWatch: "U.S. stocks recovered some ground Thursday, boosted by a good earnings report from Walmart and data showing a jump in nationwide retail sales in July, helping stocks bounce from the worst one-day fall this year on Wednesday. Investors and central banks remain concerned though that President Trump's trade war with China is undermining global economic growth after China on Thursday threatened unspecified retaliation against Trump's recent threat to impose more tariffs on its imports from September." ...

... Caitlin Oprysko of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Thursday baselessly accused the press of trying to tank the American economy, shrugging off any blame for a prospective economic slowdown and possible recession heading into his reelection next year. 'The Fake News Media is doing everything they can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election,' he said in a tweet. 'The problem they have is that the economy is way too strong and we will soon be winning big on Trade, and everyone knows that, including China!' The president offered no evidence to support his claim that the media, a frequent target of his ire, is working to weaken the U.S. economy." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Paul Krugman: "Neither I nor anyone else is predicting a replay of the 2008 crisis.... But the bond market is telling us that the smart money has become very gloomy about the economy's prospects. Why? The Federal Reserve basically controls short-term rates, but not long-term rates; low long-term yields mean that investors expect a weak economy, which will force the Fed into repeated rate cuts.... The realization that [Donald Trump] really is a Tariff Man is having a serious dampening effect on business spending, partly because nobody knows just how far he'll go.... Trump isn't the only problem here.... So what kind of contingency planning is the administration engaged in?... The answer, reportedly, is that there is no policy discussion at all, which isn't surprising when you bear in mind the fact that basically everyone who knows anything about economics left the Trump administration months or years ago."

Maggie Haberman & Peter Baker of the New York Times: At a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire, "President Trump doubled down on his economic argument for re-election on Thursday night amid increasing concerns about a recession, declaring that even Americans who hate him 'have no choice' but to vote for him because otherwise the stock market will collapse.... His talk was also marked by repeated inconsistencies. The same president who last year said trade wars were 'easy to win' told his supporters that 'I never said China was going to be easy.' The same president who compared America's intelligence agencies to 'Nazi Germany' when he took office complained that Democrats 'use the term Nazi' to attack their opponents." The Politico story, by Stephanie Murray, is here. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So if the economy tanks, Trump's argument will be "I alone can fix it." Since Trump's trade wars are part of the problem, I suppose that is partially true, because theoretically he could curb his own bad actions. ...

... Matthew Choi of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Thursday praised a New Hampshire Republican who previously called for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be shot by firing squad. Speaking at a rally in Manchester, N.H., Trump gave a shoutout to state Rep. Al Baldasaro, who had previously served as an informal adviser during his 2016 campaign.... While advising Trump in the summer of 2016, Baldasaro called Clinton a 'disgrace' for her role in responding to the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, and said that she 'should be put in the firing line and shot for treason.' CNN later reported the Secret Service was investigating the remarks at the time, and the Trump campaign disavowed what Baldasaro said. Still, Baldasaro was invited to the White House in June 2017 for a bill-signing ceremony, again prompting Trump's team to distance itself from his remarks. Baldasaro said on Twitter at the time: 'Nobody advocated shooting Hillary, just an opinion in accordance with law & CONSTITUTION on treason.'" ...

... Pot Calls Kettle Fat. Brett Samuels of the Hill: "President Trump on Thursday mocked the weight of a protester who briefly interrupted his rally in Manchester, N.H. 'That guy's got a serious weight problem. Go home, start exercising,' Trump said as the individual who interrupted Trump's speech was escorted out of the arena. 'Get him out of here please. Got a bigger problem than I do,' Trump quipped. 'Got a bigger problem than all of us....' Cameras showed multiple protesters being escorted out of the arena after the crowd began booing and chanting 'U.S.A.' The interruption came as Trump slammed Democrats, accusing them of demeaning law enforcement and describing their opponents as 'fascists and Nazis.' Moments later, Trump continued with his usual remarks, telling supporters that his movement is 'built on love.'"

Karen Pinchin of PBS: "The mayor of the grieving city of El Paso [Dee Margo] told President Donald Trump in a private meeting that he's presenting 'misinformation' about crime in his city and pushed back when the president used a derogatory term to suggest he wasn't a real Republican. 'He said, "You're a RINO [Republican in name only]," and I said, "No, sir. I am not a RINO,"'" --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: As Trump has shown before, his means of comforting a community in distress includes insulting the mayor. Apparently, Trump thinks this is an especially good idea in majority-Hispanic cities like El Paso & San Juan, Puerto Rico.

More than 250,000 people have signed the petition to change the name of Fifth Avenue in the block in front of Trump Tower to "President Barack H. Obama Avenue." The WashPo has a story here. There's a ClickOrlando story here. (Also linked yesterday.)

The Trump Scandals, Ctd.

Olivia Beavers of the Hill: "House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) subpoenaed Corey Lewandowski and former White House official Rick Dearborn on Thursday, marking Democrats' latest efforts to receive testimony from key figures in the Mueller report." (Also linked yesterday.)

Some Weird News Just Got Weirder. Michael Corkery of the New York Times: On Monday the founder & CEO of Overstock Patrick Byrne wrote a peculiar press release titled 'Overstock.com CEO Comments on Deep State,' in which "said that he had been helping law enforcement agents, whom he referred to as Men in Black,' with their 'Clinton Investigation; and 'Russia Investigation.'" Then on Wednesday, Byrne confirmed that he had been in a sometimes-romantic relationship with Russian agent Maria Butina. "Her lawyer, Robert Driscoll, confirmed that Ms. Butina and Mr. Byrne had been 'romantically involved' and that, according to Mr. Byrne, government officials had instructed him on how to interact with her." The story goes on to describe some of the details of the relationship.

James West of Mother Jones: "Earlier this year, federal investigators began requesting corporate documents and questioning staff at American Media Inc., the company run by Donald Trump's longtime friend David Pecker.... FBI agents zeroed in on the circumstances behind the magazine's [special issue Saudi Arabia-themed] publication and, according to one of the sources, whether AMI had engaged in illegal influence peddling on behalf of a foreign power.... The story of how AMI came under scrutiny by the feds as a possible agent of Saudi influence is a dizzying saga of Trumpian proportions, featuring a cast of characters that includes the world's richest man [Jeff Bezos], a Saudi leader [Mohammed bin Salman] who has forged deep ties to the Trump administration, and an embattled media baron.... The Saudi influence probe could have profound implications for AMI ... because it threatens to undo a deal the company struck last year with the Justice Department over its role in the hush-money case [with Stormy Daniels and] Michael Cohen." --s


Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Jeremy Barr
of The Hollywood Reporter: "A trove of Treasury Department emails [from 2017 & 2018] released to the non-profit organization Democracy Forward and provided exclusively to The Hollywood Reporter this week paint a picture of a close, friendly bond between the Trump administration agency and two news organizations, Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network.... 'The Trump administration is a revolving door for Fox News personalities and our documents expose the network as the administration's communications arm,' Democracy Forward said in a statement to THR. 'Trump administration officials revising Fox News tweets and Fox News rewriting stories to suit the administration's whims isn't journalism, it's propaganda.'" Includes many examples. --s

Spencer Woodman & Maryam Saleh of The Intercept: "In the first 15 months of the Trump administration, U.S. immigration authorities locked thousands of detainees in solitary confinement, some for months at a time, a new report from the Project on Government Oversight ... has found.... In roughly 40 percent of those reports ... across both presidential administrations, the detainee placed in isolation had a mental illness diagnosis.... The U.N. has said that solitary confinement should be banned except in 'very exceptional circumstances.' It should never be used to isolate people with mental illness or juveniles -- and no one should be held for longer than 15 days, the U.N. says." --s (Also linked yesterday.)

Abigail Weinberg of Mother Jones on the Department of Labor's proposed new rule "that would make it easier for employers to discriminate against workers who they say violate their religious beliefs, including members of the LGBTQ community, pregnant women who are not married, and others.... The rule will remain in a comment period until Sept. 16 before it is finalized." --s

Josh Kovensky of TPM: "Top political appointees at the State Department 'harassed' career staffers whom they suspected were members of the supposed 'deep state' or were purportedly 'disloyal' to the Trump administration's goals, according to a new report from the department's inspector general.... Assistant secretary Kevin Moley and senior adviser Mari Stull are named in the report as being behind much of the chaos. The report details multiple incidents in which Stull allegedly 'retaliated' against State Department employees.... Stull, a former food lobbyist who blogged about wine ... referred to [career employees] as 'Obama holdovers,' 'traitors,' or 'disloyal'[.]'" --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Kovensky includes a copy of the IG's report.

Presidential Race 2020

Pat Rynard of Iowa Starting Line: "A new Iowa Starting Line-Change Research poll shows [Elizabeth Warren] opening up a commanding lead in the Iowa Caucus. Warren was the top pick of 28% of likely Iowa Caucus-goers in the poll, an 11-point lead over the nearest competitor. Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders were both tied for second with 17% each. Pete Buttigieg came in fourth at 13% and Kamala Harris has the backing of 8%. Both Cory Booker and Beto O'Rourke garnered 3% of caucus-goers' support, while Steve Bullock, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar and Tom Steyer got on the board at 2%. Julian Castro, Michael Bennet and Andrew Yang rounded out the field at 1%, while everyone else had less than that.... The poll was conducted online August 9 to 11, right in the middle of peak Iowa State Fair campaigning...." ...

... Henry Olsen of the Washington Post: "Elizabeth Warren has become the flavor du jour in the Democratic presidential race on the back of two strong debate performances. But her polling numbers suggest passing former vice president Joe Biden will be a much harder task. The senator from Massachusetts has risen as the progressive's progressive, refusing to run away from controversial stances such as eliminating private health insurance in favor of a government-run Medicare-for-all system.... All the recent national polls show her support is heavily skewed to the party's left wing."

Matt Stieb & Adam Raymond of New York: Former Colorado Gov. John "Hickenlooper dropped out of the race Thursday. In a video posted to Twitter, Hickenlooper said, 'Today, I'm ending my campaign for president....' In the video, the 67-year-old fanned rumors about his running for Senate, saying he's heard 'from so many Coloradans' who want him to take on Republican senator Cory Gardner next year. 'I intend to give that some serious thought,' he said in the video."


Richard Behar
of Forbes: "The day after he was taken off suicide watch, disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein spent at least two hours locked up alone with a young woman, in a private room reserved for inmates and their attorneys, according to an attorney who was visiting the prison that day. 'The optics were startling. Because she was young. And pretty,' said the visiting attorney, who asked that his name not be used.... The visiting attorney noted that she didn't seem to have any files with her .... and ... that she was dressed casually.... The room is locked when prisoners go in, after their handcuffs are removed, and unlocked only when prisoners leave and handcuffs are put back on."

Religion Gone Wild. Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: "Advocates of a 'medicine' called MMS will gather in a hotel in upstate New York on Saturday to promote what they claim to be a miracle cure for cancer that is in fact a powerful bleach that can cause serious harm and even death. The self-proclaimed 'Genesis II Church of Health and Healing' -- a group that in reality is neither a church nor a medical outfit -- plans to lure supporters ... charging $450 per person, or $800 for a couple.... Earlier this week it posted on its Facebook page a video of a man firing multiple handgun rounds in a shooting range above the caption 'More G2 Church security training'.... The peddlers claim that drinking the bleach can cure any number of serious illnesses, including cancer, HIV/Aids and malaria as well as autism.... The operation is masterminded by Mark and Jonathan Grenon, who have given themselves the title of 'bishops' within the 'church'." --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This "religious" group isn't the only enterprise pushing this dangerous "Miracle Mineral Supplement." Joshua Bote of USA Today: "A solution of bleach sold as a "Miracle Mineral Supplement" has been touted as an unproven, so-called cure to multiple ailments, including cancer, autism, HIV and the flu. But the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning Monday that the product, which is sold online for just under $30, can cause nausea, vomiting and dehydration. Extended use may lead to kidney failure and possible death.... The product's chemical compound has killed at least eight people, including a 6-year-old girl with autism, according to NBC News. These vendors sell a solution of sodium chlorite, which, when mixed with lemon or lime juice or another acid, turns it into chlorine dioxide. Exposure to chlorine dioxide can result in 'delays in brain development' for children, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." The New York Times story, by Christine Hauser (August 13) is here.

Maanvi Singh of the Guardian: "Plastic was the furthest thing from Gregory Wetherbee's mind when he began analyzing rainwater samples collected from the Rocky Mountains. 'I guess I expected to see mostly soil and mineral particles,' said the US Geological Survey researcher. Instead, he found multicolored microscopic plastic fibers. The discovery, published in a recent study (pdf) titled 'It is raining plastic', raises new questions about the amount of plastic waste permeating the air, water, and soil virtually everywhere on Earth.... Other studies have turned up microplastics in the deepest reaches of the ocean, in UK lakes and rivers and in US groundwater." --s

Way Beyond the Beltway

North Korea. Justin McMurry of the Guardian: "North Korea has fired at least two unidentified projectiles into the sea off its east coast, shortly after it denounced South Korea's military drills with the US and declared that inter-Korean talks were over." --s

Saudi Arabia. Patrick Wintour of the Guardian: "An international law group has submitted new evidence to the UK government alleging that the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has covered up evidence of its unlawful airstrikes on civilian targets. The allegations will put pressure on the UK government as it prepares its response to a court order directing it to reconsider all existing British government licences to export arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen.... The government is expected to provide its response next month in a move with big ramifications for future UK-Saudi relations." --s (Also linked yesterday.)

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.

Wednesday
Aug142019

The Commentariat -- August 15, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Olivia Beavers of the Hill: "House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) subpoenaed Corey Lewandowski and former White House official Rick Dearborn on Thursday, marking Democrats' latest efforts to receive testimony from key figures in the Mueller report."

Caitlin Oprysko of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Thursday baselessly accused the press of trying to tank the American economy, shrugging off any blame for a prospective economic slowdown and possible recession heading into his reelection next year. 'The Fake News Media is doing everything they can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election,' he said in a tweet. 'The problem they have is that the economy is way too strong and we will soon be winning big on Trade, and everyone knows that, including China!' The president offered no evidence to support his claim that the media, a frequent target of his ire, is working to weaken the U.S. economy."

Rami Ayyub of Reuters: "Israel is considering barring a visit by two of its sharpest critics in the U.S. Congress, Democrats Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who plan to tour the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, an Israeli official said on Thursday.... Under Israeli law, backers of the [pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS)] movement can be denied entry to Israel. But Israel's ambassador in the United States, Ron Dermer, said last month they would be let in, out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the U.S.-Israeli relationship." --safari: Twitter is confirming that they're indeed barred from a potential visit (no link). ...

     ... Barak Ravid of Israel's Channel 13 News (published in Axios), "President Trump tweeted Thursday that it would show 'great weakness' if Israel were to allow Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to enter the country during an upcoming congressional delegation visit on Sunday.... As Axios' Jonathan Swan and I previously reported, Trump has privately been telling advisers that he thinks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should use an anti-boycott law to bar the two freshman congresswomen over their support for the BDS movement. In response to our story, the White House said that Trump didn't pressure Israel in any way and that Israel can do whatever it wants." ...

     ... Update: Let's look at Ravid & Swan's report, dated August 10, which Ravid linked above: "President Trump has told advisers he thinks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should use Israel's anti-boycott law to bar Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from entering Israel, according to 3 sources familiar with the situation.... But Trump denies, through White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, ever giving any kind of directive to the Israelis. 'The Israeli government can do what they want. It's fake news,' Grisham said on Saturday." Emphasis added. Mrs. McC: Surprise! The new press secretary is just like the old press secretary. She lies. (And/or she repeats Trump's lies).

     ... Isabel Kershner of the New York Times: "Mr. Trump's intervention was an extraordinary step to influence an allied nation and punish his political opponents at home. Israel's decision to bar the two congresswomen, Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, was widely criticized, including by prominent Israel supporters.... In lobbying a foreign government to bar members of the United States Congress, Mr. Trump crossed yet another line that other presidents generally respected. No matter how virulent their differences at home, presidents have traditionally not enlisted the help of overseas allies to take action against domestic political adversaries.... Mr. Trump's intervention also placed him at odds with the Republican leadership in Congress...." ...

     ... Update. Zack Budryk of the Hill: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday criticized Israel's decision not to allow Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) to visit.... 'Israel's denial of entry to Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar is a sign of weakness and beneath the dignity of the great State of Israel,' Pelosi said in a statement.... 'The President's statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the Office of the President,' she said. Pelosi has had her differences with Tlaib and Omar...."

Spencer Woodman & Maryam Saleh of The Intercept: "In the first 15 months of the Trump administration, U.S. immigration authorities locked thousands of detainees in solitary confinement, some for months at a time, a new report from the Project on Government Oversight ... has found.... In roughly 40 percent of those reports ... across both presidential administrations, the detainee placed in isolation had a mental illness diagnosis.... The U.N. has said that solitary confinement should be banned except in 'very exceptional circumstances.' It should never be used to isolate people with mental illness or juveniles -- and no one should be held for longer than 15 days, the U.N. says." --s

Patrick Wintour of the Guardian: "An international law group has submitted new evidence to the UK government alleging that the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen has covered up evidence of its unlawful airstrikes on civilian targets. The allegations will put pressure on the UK government as it prepares its response to a court order directing it to reconsider all existing British government licences to export arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen.... The government is expected to provide its response next month in a move with big ramifications for future UK-Saudi relations." --s

More than 250,000 people have signed the petition to change the name of Fifth Avenue in the block in front of Trump Tower to "President Barack H. Obama Avenue." The WashPo has a story here. There's a ClickOrlando story here.

~~~~~~~~~~

Matt Phillips of the New York Times: "Trade-war worries hammered financial markets again on Wednesday as data from Germany and China showed trouble for manufacturing-reliant economies, while the bond market renewed fears of an American recession. Stocks and commodities tumbled in Europe and the United States as risk-averse investors raced to the safety of government bonds, pushing bond prices sharply higher and yields -- which move in the opposite direction -- to low levels not seen in years." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

... Lucy Bayly of NBC News: "Wall Street took a battering on Wednesday, suffering its worst day so far this year after movements in the bond market signaled the sharpest indication yet of an approaching recession. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which had already shed 400 points at the opening bell, spent the day in freefall before closing with a decline of 800 points, a drop of over 3 percent. The S&P 500 closed down 2.93 percent, and the Nasdaq posted a decline of just over 3 percent. The market selloff was the result of an inverted yield curve in government bonds, when the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note falls below the 2-year rate -- a phenomenon that has preceded every recession for the past 50 years.... Donald Trump blamed the Federal Reserve for Wednesday's market plunge, calling Fed Chairman Jerome Powell 'clueless' in an afternoon tweet." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Jonelle Marte of the Washington Post defines "inverted yield curve" & why it spooks investors. "Investors are spooked by a scenario known as the 'inverted yield curve,' which occurs when the interest rates on short-term bonds are higher than the interest rates paid by long-term bonds. What it means is that people are so worried about the near-term future that they are piling into safer long-term investments. In a healthy economy, bondholders typically demand to be paid more -- or receive a higher 'yield' -- on longer-term bonds than they do for short-term bonds." Here's an explanation by Al Lewis of CNBC. ...

... Ben White of Politico: "Trump on Wednesday once again blamed the Fed, taking to Twitter the bash the central bank for not slashing rates fast enough. 'We are winning, big time, against China. Companies & jobs are fleeing. Prices to us have not gone up, and in some cases, have come down. China is not our problem, though Hong Kong is not helping. Our problem is with the Fed. Raised too much & too fast. Now too slow to cut,' Trump tweeted. 'Spread is way too much as other countries say THANK YOU to clueless Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve. Germany, and many others, are playing the game! CRAZY INVERTED YIELD URVE! We should easily be reaping big Rewards & Gains, but the Fed is holding us back. We will Win!'... But the biggest drag cited by economists is uncertainty over trade, which is showing up in lower spending by businesses. The loss of the Chinese market is also hammering farmers." ...

... Man in White House Very Confused. Damian Paletta, et al., of the Washington Post: "Just a few hours [before he wrote the tweets knocking Powell & the Fed], Trump offered a contradictory assessment, saying the inverted yield curve was a good sign because there was 'Tremendous amounts of money pouring into the United States. People want safety!'... Several White House officials have become concerned that the economy is weakening faster than expected, but they are not working on proactive plans to change its course. The Treasury Department has had an exodus of senior advisers in recent months, and the White House just announced a replacement for its chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Instead of rolling out new policies, Trump and other top aides have escalated their attacks on the Federal Reserve, trying to pin much of the United States' problems on what Trump alleges is elevated interest rates that are strangling growth.... A number of investors and foreign leaders have blamed Trump's trade war for causing the contraction in business investment and forcing companies to pull back...."

Man in White House Still Confused. Eliana Johnson, et al., of Politico: "Donald Trump's top aides are urging him to back Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters, but the president isn't interested, multiple people familiar with the administration's internal debates say. In recent days, national security adviser John Bolton, China hands at both the National Security Council and the State Department, and several economic advisers have pushed for a more assertive posture on the Hong Kong demonstrations, which have paralyzed the former British colony and roiled markets. They are finding little traction with a president focused more narrowly on trade negotiations with Xi Jinping.... As the protests have intensified over the past month, the president has remained determined to keep China's human rights abuses from complicating his trade negotiations.... But after the initial publication of this report, the president appeared to reverse himself ... on Wednesday evening -- this time demanding that Xi 'deal humanely with Hong Kong.'... 'Of course China wants to make a deal,' the president wrote on Twitter.... 'Let then deal humanely with Hong Kong first!'... It was the most full-throated statement of support Trump has delivered to the pro-democracy protesters.... The remarks marked a reversal from the promise Trump made to Xi in a phone conversation in mid-June. The president surprised his aides when he told Xi that he would not condemn the Chinese government over a crackdown in Hong Kong. He understood it was an internal issue in which the U.S. would not interfere...."

Rachel Frazin of the Hill: "President Trump's disapproval rating has jumped to 56 percent in a Fox News survey released Wednesday, just one point shy of the record high in Fox News polling. The survey found a 5 percentage point increase in Trump's disapproval from last month. The only time his disapproval rating was higher, according to Fox News, was when it reached 57 percent in October 2017. Forty-three percent of respondents said they approve of Trump's job performance, down from 46 percent last month. The record low for Trump approval in Fox News's polling is 38 percent, also from October of 2017. Trump has the disapproval of a record number of men, at 53 percent, white men, 46 percent, and independents, 64 percent...."

Zak Cheney-Rice of New York: Donald Trump's "vision for America reimagines the Statue of Liberty not as a beacon for freedom but for the enhancement of a racist status quo and the empowerment of white Americans' chosen political party. It also establishes the possession of capital as a precondition for entry. And for the president, one kind of capital trumps most others: that conferred by being white. [Ken] Cuccinelli is a fitting spokesman for this vision. As a Virginia state legislator and later attorney general, he fought to repeal birthright citizenship and force employees to speak English in the workplace. He has compared immigration policy to rat extermination and described Representative Steve King -- an open white nationalist -- as 'one of [his] very favorite congressmen.'... [Trump's] political power hinges on galvanizing white voters who are overwhelmingly bigoted and inclined to blame people of color for their problems." Cheney-Rice suggests that Cuccinelli's view that Emma Lazarus' "New Colossus" was for Europeans only is a good example of white supremacism.

Violent Men Think Trump Is Violent. Mike Levine of ABC News: "... Donald Trump has repeatedly refused to accept any responsibility for inciting violence in American communities.... 'I think my rhetoric brings people together,' he said last week.... But a nationwide review conducted by ABC News has identified at least 36 criminal cases where Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault. In nine cases, perpetrators hailed Trump in the midst or immediate aftermath of physically attacking innocent victims. In another 10 cases, perpetrators cheered or defended Trump while taunting or threatening others. And in another 10 cases, Trump and his rhetoric were cited in court to explain a defendant's violent or threatening behavior.... ABC News could not find a single criminal case filed in federal or state court where an act of violence or threat was made in the name of President Barack Obama or President George W. Bush. The 36 cases identified by ABC News are remarkable in that a link to the president is captured in court documents and police statements, under the penalty of perjury or contempt.... The perpetrators and suspects identified in the 36 cases are mostly white men ... while the victims largely represent an array of minority groups -- African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims and gay men." Via Adam Raymond of New York.

Dominic Holden of BuzzFeed News: "The Trump administration on Wednesday formally proposed a new rule to let businesses with federal contracts cite religious objections as a valid reason to discriminate against their workers on the basis of LGBTQ status, sex, race, ethnicity, national origin, and other characteristics -- thereby skirting worker protections created by past presidents. The move marks ... Donald Trump's latest effort to weaken the civil rights of minorities with ambiguous rules that grant agencies wide discretion to let companies off the hook when accused of discrimination. The 46-page draft rule from the Labor Department would apply to a range of so-called religious organizations — including corporations, schools, and societies -- provided that they claim a 'religious purpose.' Labor Department spokesperson Megan Sweeney confirmed to BuzzFeed News on Wednesday that the rule would apply to for-profit corporations with federal contracts.... The proposal could apply to up to 420,000 contractors...."

Andrew Blankstein of NBC News: "An IRS staffer who leaked confidential details about former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's finances to Michael Avenatti, ex-lawyer for adult film star Stormy Daniels, pleaded guilty Wednesday to illegally accessing and distributing that information. John C. Fry was an investigative analyst with the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, the law enforcement arm of the agency, in May 2018 when he twice logged on to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) database and downloaded five Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) -- reports filed by banks when they note potentially suspicious transactions -- related to Cohen and his company Essential Consultants. In court Wednesday, Fry ... pleaded guilty to one county of unauthorized disclosure of SARs. Avenatti made the information public via Twitter, noting Cohen's receipt in 2017 of $500,000 from Columbus Nova, a company with ties to a Russian billionaire, and payments to Essential Consultants from other firms that do business with the federal government, including AT&T."

#MoscowMitch, Ctd. John Wagner of the Washington Post: "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi referred to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as 'Moscow Mitch' during a political speech in Illinois on Wednesday as she chided the Kentucky Republican for blocking an array of legislation passed by her chamber this year. Speaking at a Democratic event in Springfield, Pelosi (D-Calif.) recounted a series of bills passed by the House, including measures raising the minimum wage, reforming elections and expanding health care." Here's a CNN story by Kate Sullivan & others. ...

... Tom Hamburger & Rosalind Helderman of the Washington Post have sort of a follow-up report to the extensive Time report linked here yesterday on Mitch McConnell's successful efforts to lift sanctions on Rusal, Russia's largest aluminum producer, a move that allowed Rusal to partially fund a new aluminum-rolling mill in Kentucky. "A spokesman for McConnell said the majority leader did not know that [entrepreneur Craig] Bouchard had hopes of a deal with Rusal at the time McConnell led the Senate effort to end the sanctions, citing the recommendation of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.... But critics said the timing is disturbing. 'It is shocking how blatantly transactional this arrangement looks,' said Michael McFaul, who served as the U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration.... Democratic senators have called for a government review of the deal, prompting a Rusal executive in Moscow last week to threaten to pull out of the investment. The Rusal-backed project is one of several issues fueling broader scrutiny of McConnell's posture toward Russia and its efforts to manipulate American voters."

Steve King Extols the Crucial Benefit of Rape & Incest. Robin Opsahl of the Des Moines Register: "U.S. Rep. Steve King [R-Iowa] told the Westside Conservative Club [of Urbandale, Iowa,] on Wednesday that humanity might not exist if not for rape and incest. 'What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?' he said at the event in Urbandale, Iowa. 'Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages taken place and whatever happened to culture after society? I know I can't certify that I'm not a part of a product of that.' The Kiron Republican was defending his position of not allowing exceptions for rape and incest in the anti-abortion legislation he tried to pass in Congress. Republican leadership had prevented the bills he sponsored on banning abortions from advancing through the House, despite GOP support for the measures, King said." ...

... Too Offensive for Even Scalise & Cheney. Sarah Ferris of Politico: "Democrats in Congress and on the 2020 campaign trail reacted with fury, saying that King's comments amounted to excusing violence against women and disregarding the victims of rape and incest. King's remarks drew a backlash from House GOP leaders -- who already agreed to strip him of his committee posts after a string of racist remarks earlier this year -- though their response took several hours. 'These comments are wrong, and offensive, and underscore why we removed him from his committees,' House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said in a statement to Politico Wednesday afternoon. House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney redoubled her calls for King to step aside, calling his comments 'appalling and bizarre.'" See also Akhilleus's commentary below on Steve King's anthropological musings.

Presidential Race 2020

Nicholas Riccardi of the AP: "John Hickenlooper is expected to drop out of the Democratic presidential primary on Thursday.... It's unclear whether Hickenlooper will now challenge Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, who is considered the country's most vulnerable Republican senator."

Neal Rothschild of Axios: "While Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the presidential candidate who's known for her robust set of policy plans, Sen. Amy Klobuchar is the one who's been the most prolific at her day job, introducing the most bills of any senator or House member running for president, according to data from Quorum.... She's also introduced more bills than any senator, whether they're running for president or not." The report also charts the percentage of votes missed by the candidates who are members of Congress. Seth Moulton has missed the fewest, while Booker & Harris have missed the most; Sanders & Gillibrand are tied for next-worst.

Ben Schrekinger of Politico: "A donor with deep ties to Ukraine loaned Joe Biden’s younger brother half-a-million dollars at the same time the then-vice president oversaw U.S. policy toward the country, according to public records.... The 2015 loan came as Biden's brother faced financial difficulties related to his acquisition of a multimillion-dollar vacation home, nicknamed 'the Biden Bungalow,' in South Florida. There is no indication that the loan influenced Joe Biden's official actions, but it furthers a decades-long pattern, detailed in a Politico investigation earlier this month, by which relatives of the former vice president have leaned on his political allies for money and otherwise benefited financially from the Biden name. Details of the loan are laid out in property records in Collier County, Florida, where Biden's younger brother, James, and James' wife Sara, owned until recently a home on Keewaydin Island. The luxurious, six-bed, seven-bath home comes with a guest house and sits on five acres along a pristine, miles-long stretch of sandy beach."


Nicholas Kulish & Mike McIntire
of the New York Times: "... Cordelia Scaife May eventually found her life’s purpose: curbing what she perceived as the lethal threat of overpopulation by trying to shut America's doors to immigrants. She believed that the United States was 'being invaded on all fronts' by foreigners, who 'breed like hamsters' and exhaust natural resources. She thought that the border with Mexico should be sealed and that abortions on demand would contain the swelling masses in developing countries. An heiress to the Mellon banking and industrial fortune with a half-billion dollars at her disposal, Mrs. May helped create what would become the modern anti-immigration movement. She bankrolled the founding and operation of the nation's three largest restrictionist groups ... as well as dozens of smaller ones, including some that have promulgated white nationalist views. Today, 14 years after Mrs. May's death, her money remains the lifeblood of the movement, through her Colcom Foundation. It has poured $180 million into a network of groups that spent decades agitating for policies now pursued by President Trump: militarizing the border, capping legal immigration, prioritizing skills over family ties for entry and reducing access to public benefits for migrants, as in the new rule issued just this week by the administration." ...

... As MAG points out in today's Comments, here's what happens when people like May & Trump succeed in their ignorant crusades: ...

... Jeff Stein of the Washington Post: "Across Maine, families ... are being hammered by two slow-moving demographic forces -- the growth of the retirement population and a simultaneous decline in young workers -- that have been exacerbated by a national worker shortage pushing up the cost of labor. The unemployment rate in Maine is 3.2 percent, below the national average of 3.7 percent. The disconnect between Maine's aging population and its need for young workers to care for that population is expected to be mirrored in states throughout the country over the coming decade, demographic experts say. And that's especially true in states with populations with fewer immigrants, who are disproportionately represented in many occupations serving the elderly, statistics show." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The irony is that Trump already knows this. That's why he's been hiring both undocumented & documented immigrants for decades. Like many rich people, Trump believes laws are made to restrain the masses, not men of means. There's not much reason they shouldn't believe that, either, since law enforcement tends to selectively enforces laws, & this is especially true when it comes to hiring undocumented workers.

The Plot Thickens. Carol Leonnig & Aaron Davis of the Washington Post: "An autopsy found that financier Jeffrey Epstein sustained multiple breaks in his neck bones, according to two people familiar with the findings, deepening the mystery about the circumstances around his death. Among the bones broken in Epstein's neck was the hyoid bone, which in men is near the Adam's apple. Such breaks can occur in those who hang themselves, particularly if they are older, according to forensics experts and studies on the subject. But they are more common in victims of homicide by strangulation, the experts said.... The office of New York City's chief medical examiner, Barbara Sampson, completed an autopsy of Epstein's body Sunday. But Sampson listed the cause of his death as pending." The Houston Chronicle has the WashPo story here. ...

... Bizarre "News." Isolde Walters & Cheyenne Roundtree of the Daily Mail: "Jeffrey Epstein had a bizarre portrait of Bill Clinton in a dress hanging in his Manhattan mansion.... The picture depicting the former president apparently lounging on a chair in the Oval Office, wearing red heels and posing suggestively in a blue dress redolent of Monica Lewinsky was in a room off the stairway of the Upper East Side townhouse. The dress is also strikingly similar to one worn by Hillary Clinton at the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors. The original painting is called 'Parsing Bill' and is by Australian-American artist Petrina Ryan-Kleid, although it is unclear if Epstein had bought the canvas or had a print mounted." Includes photos. Mrs. McC: I apologize to everyone who is offended by my linking this nonsense.

More Weird News. Jeran Wittenstein of Bloomberg: "Overstock.com Inc. shares fell for a third day Wednesday as investors reacted to statements by Chief Executive Officer [link fixed] Patrick Byrne that he was a part of federal investigations related to the 2016 election. The e-commerce company has lost a third of its value in the two days since releasing a statement by Byrne titled 'Overstock.com CEO Comments on Deep State' and referring to federal investigators as 'the Men in Black.' The stock fell another 23% on Wednesday, bringing its slide to 36% since Monday, the biggest two-day slump in more than 11 years. Byrne's statement addressed stories published on a little-known news website and referenced investigations relating to the Clintons and Russian interference in the U.S. elections, political espionage and the rule of law.... They’re not the first unusual comments from the Overstock founder."

Lauren Said-Moorhouse & Per Nyberg of CNN: "US rapper A$AP Rocky has been found guilty of assault and handed a conditional sentence after he was involved ina street brawl in Stockholm.... The imposition of a conditional sentence means that A$AP Rocky will be subject to a probationary period of two years. The court awarded damages of 12,500 Swedish Krona ($1,300) to the victim 'for violation of his integrity and pain and suffering.' The defendants were also ordered to pay fees of 80,610 Swedish Krona (nearly $8,400) for the victim's lawyer."(Also linked yesterday.)

Beyond the Beltway

New Jersey. Nick Corasaniti, et al., of the New York Times: "A growing crisis over lead contamination in drinking water gripped Newark on Wednesday as tens of thousands of residents were told to drink only bottled water, the culmination of years of neglect that has pushed New Jersey's largest city to the forefront of an environmental problem afflicting urban areas across the nation. Urgent new warnings from federal environmental officials about contamination in drinking water from aging lead pipes spread anxiety and fear across much of Newark, but the municipal government's makeshift efforts to set up distribution centers to hand out bottled water were hampered by confusion and frustration.... Newark had long denied that the city had a widespread problem with its drinking water, only to reverse course last fall and give away tens of thousands of water filters. But recent tests have shown that the filters were not properly removing lead.... Standing in long lines, residents expressed anger and fear over how wide-reaching the problem really was." ...

     ... Brian Kahn of Gizmodo has a report on the Newark water crisis.

... Karen Yi of NJ.com: "U.S. Sen. Cory Booker who once led New Jersey's largest city, co-authored a letter to the federal government on Tuesday urging 'immediate assistance' for Newark as officials there distribute bottled water to protect residents from potential lead exposure. The mass distribution of bottled water began Monday, three days after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency asked Newark to do so. The quick decision was based on surprising test results that showed water filters at two homes were not eliminating enough lead. About 38,000 filters have been distributed in the city." Mrs. McC: This can't be helping Cory Booker's presidential hopes.

News Lede

NBC Philadelphia: "A man accused of shooting six Philadelphia police officers during a standoff that lasted more than seven hours has surrendered to police. NBC Philadelphia was there as a member of the SWAT team shot tear gas into the home on North 15th and Butler streets around midnight. The suspect, identified by police as 36-year-old Maurice Hill of Philadelphia, then walked out of the home and was taken into custody by police. Hill was taken to Temple University Hospital for an evaluation. He is likely to be charged with six counts of attempted murder and aggravated assault, according to his longtime attorney Shaka Johnson."