The Wires
The Ledes

Monday, October 15, 2018.

CNBC: "Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen has died from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Vulcan Inc. said Monday on behalf of his family. Allen passed away Monday afternoon in Seattle at 65 years old, Vulcan said." ...

     ... Allen's New York Times obituary is here.

Royal Watch:

 

... The Guardian has a story here.

Another British royal wedding at Windsor: Princess Eugenie & Jack Brooksbank. Pix here; story here.

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I can't tell you how many times I could have used this guy. But he/it really should have set the drywall a millimeter or two off the concrete floor to keep the drywall, well, dry:

... Jon Fingas of Engadget tells the story of Drywall Man.

A Toke Before They Croak. Guardian: "For decades, seafood lovers have struggled with a confounding ethical dilemma: how do you balance out the delight of a lobster dinner with the discomfort of boiling one alive, generally regarded as the proper way to prepare the crustacean delicacy?... Sedating lobsters by blowing marijuana smoke on to them sounds like the type of idea you might come up with while smoking a bit of grass yourself, but Charlotte Gill, owner of Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor, is convinced it can help to ease the pain lobsters might feel while being boiled alive. An animal rights supporter who has owned the restaurant for seven years, Gill told the Mount Desert Island publication that she’s long struggled with the ethical implications of her line of work. After conducting an experiment in which she 'hot-boxed' a particularly aggressive lobster named Roscoe, she came away convinced the high significantly mellowed him out. 'The animal is already going to be killed,' she said in the interview. 'It is far more humane to make it a kinder passage.'”

 

Here's the Los Angeles Times' Emmy page. ...

... New York Times: "'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' won five [Emmys] on Monday night, including best comedy series, and “Game of Thrones” picked up the award for best drama. HBO and Netflix tied with 23 Emmys each. See a full list of winners here. Talk of #MeToo was largely absent from this year’s ceremony, with no one mentioning Leslie Moonves from the stage. Read our critic’s review of the show, which he said lacked diversity. See red carpet photos."

Guardian: "A pair of ruby red slippers, produced for Judy Garland to wear in the Wizard of Oz, have been discovered by police over a decade after they were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minneapolis [sic, Minnesota]. The discovery ends years of intrigue and scandal surrounding the whereabouts of the shoes. The slippers were recovered during an undercover operation in Minneapolis, the FBI revealed in a news conference today. Their lead came in summer 2017 when an individual approached the company that insured the slippers, claiming he had information about the shoes and how they could be returned. It quickly became clear he was attempting to extort the slippers’ owners and police were contacted.

There will be an answer. Best #CarpoolKaraoke evah:

     ... You're welcome. ...

... Matthew Dessem of Slate: "The only fly in the ointment is the knowledge that, demographically speaking, this video will make a lot of horrible people happy."

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
Oct122018

The Commentariat -- October 13, 2018

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Carol Leonnig of the Washington Post: "President Trump is expected to name conservative Catholic activist and longtime Washington commercial lawyer Pat Cipollone as his next White House Counsel to replace Donald McGahn, according to a person directly involved in the decision. Cipollone, who practices commercial litigation..., is a well liked and respected among Trump's personal lawyers and had been informally advising them on the special counsel probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections since at least June. Cipollone is expected to take over the premier legal office in the next week, pending a security clearance review." ...

     ... New Lede: "President Trump has chosen conservative Catholic activist and longtime Washington commercial lawyer Pat Cipollone as his next White House counsel to replace Donald McGahn, according to two people familiar with Trump's decision. Trump told Cipollone of his selection last week."

Time for a Paper Towel Toss. Rebecca Morin of Politico: "... Donald Trump next week will visit Florida and Georgia, two states facing massive recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael."

Jesse Drucker & Emily Flitter of the New York Times: "Over the past decade, Jared Kushner's family company has spent billions of dollars buying real estate. His personal stock investments have soared. His net worth has quintupled to almost $324 million. And yet, for several years running, Mr. Kushner ... appears to have paid almost no federal income taxes, according to confidential financial documents reviewed by The New York Times. His low tax bills are the result of a common tax-minimizing maneuver that, year after year, generated millions of dollars in losses for Mr. Kushner, according to the documents. But the losses were only on paper -- Mr. Kushner and his company did not appear to actually lose any money. The losses were driven by depreciation, a tax benefit that lets real estate investors deduct a portion of the cost of their buildings from their taxable income every year. In 2015, for example, Mr. Kushner took home $1.7 million in salary and investment gains. But those earnings were swamped by $8.3 million of losses, largely because of 'significant depreciation' that Mr. Kushner and his company took on their real estate...." ...

... Jesse Drucker & Emily Flitter: "Jared Kushner has a net worth of almost $324 million, and his company has been profitable. But Mr. Kushner ... appears to have paid almost no federal income taxes for several years running, according to documents reviewed by The New York Times." Here's a step-by-step instruction sheet on how you too can avoid paying a fair share of (or perhaps any) federal taxes.

*****

CBS News: For a "60 Minutes" segment to air Sunday, Lesley "Stahl interviewed Mr. Trump at the White House on Thursday. The wide-ranging talk touched on ... the disappearance of Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi. In a clip broadcast on 'CBS This Morning,' the president says the Saudis could be behind the disappearance of Khashoggi and, if so, the U.S. would inflict 'severe punishment.' He also said the matter is especially serious because, 'this man was a reporter.'" Mrs. McC: Huh. Was he reading off freshly-drawn cue cards?

... In case you're wondering how hard the Trump & the Gang plan to come down on Saudi Arabia for the (alleged) brutal assassination of a resident U.S. journalist:

     ... Philip Rucker of the Washington Post: "President Trump said Friday that he plans to call Saudi Arabia’s king ['at some point'] to discuss the disappearance and alleged killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul earlier this month.... Asked whether Saudi Arabia's history of authoritarian rule and restrictions on human rights had been overlooked for too long, Trump defended ... [Saudi Arabia]. 'I think a lot of records are overlooked,' Trump said. 'If you look at Iran, if you look at some of the other countries, if you take a look at Syria, if you take a look at a lot of countries, a lot of countries' records have been overlooked. But this is a very serious thing and we're looking at it in a very serious manner.'" Mrs. McC: So "When I get around to it" and "Look over there!" At least he's no longer claiming to "look at it very strongly." I just don't know what that means.

     ... John Wagner of the Washington Post: "Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday that he still plans to attend a major investment conference in Saudi Arabia this month despite mounting evidence that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.... A growing number of media companies, including CNN, have announced that they will no longer participate in the event scheduled to start Oct. 23 in Riyadh. Several business leaders ... are also backing out.... Mnuchin said Saudi Arabia has been 'a very good partner' to the United States in several respects." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Jonah Shepp of New York: "The notion that the Saudi crown prince would have a citizen tortured, killed, and dismembered in a diplomatic outpost abroad may be shocking to the credulous members of the U.S. media and political establishment who have praised him as a modernizing reformer..., but it is entirely consistent with his past patterns of behavior.... At the center of the administration's reaction to this crisis has been ... Jared Kushner, who is known to be a close friend and kindred spirit of Mohammed bin Salman.... If the Saudi regime believes it has carte blanche to commit atrocities on account of these princelings' bromance, well, that's what you get when you conduct foreign policy on the basis of personal affinities rather than rules and institutions.... But failing to punish Saudi Arabia for this outrage, or offering only a cosmetic response, would signal to MBS and every other brutal dictator around the world that as long as they buy American tanks and flatter our president's ego, they need not fear diplomatic repercussions from the U.S. when they disappear, torture, and murder their citizens." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Will Sommer of the Daily Beast: "Donald Trump Jr. on Friday promoted a smear tying Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi to Osama bin Laden, retweeting a series of tweets meant to imply that the Saudi commentator ... supported Islamic terrorism. With President Trump apparently reluctant to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi's alleged murder after he entered the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, conservative pundits have been straining to provide excuses for U.S. inaction. Much of that effort has focused on claiming Khashoggi was a terrorist sympathizer, based on his ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and career covering terrorist groups and leaders, including Bin Laden." ...

... Matt Yglesias of Vox: "Why is Trump so willing to let the Saudis slide? Is Trump getting paid by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS, and the Saudis? Is his son-in-law, Jared Kushner? Normally, these would be absurd questions to raise about a president. But they are serious. Trump has commented before on his business ties to Saudi Arabia, bragging at a campaign rally in Alabama about how much business he did with Saudi interests. And he’s never fully aired the extent of his vast business and financial ties.... The United States has no ambassador accredited in Riyadh. Instead, the relationship is in the hands of Kushner, an unqualified nobody whose personal finances are shot through with conflicts of interest." Trump's financial ties to the Saudis is a national security issue, & Congress must find out just what those ties are.

Carlotta Gall of the New York Times: "A Turkish court on Friday ordered the release of the American pastor Andrew Brunson from house arrest, a move that will end his 24-month imprisonment and allow him to fly home, and that signaled a truce of sorts in a heated diplomatic dispute between Turkey and the United States. Mr. Brunson was sentenced to three years, one month and 15 days in prison, but the judge lifted all judicial controls -- including a ban on travel -- making him free to leave the country immediately, because of a reduction for good behavior and in view of time served."(Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: According to Richard Engel of NBC News, Brunson's release would have happened sooner if Trump had not repeatedly insulted Erdogan. Gall concentrates on the economic sticking points, which were sanctions the U.S. placed on Turkey & tariffs Trump imposed on Turkish aluminum & steel, just as the Turkish lira was going into free-fall. ...

Juan Cole (Oct. 10) on the global consequences of the GOP's Islamophobic: "The Trump administration has made Muslims our enemy of the first order and, in its Islamophobia, is reinforced by an ugly resurgence of fascism in Germany, Italy, Hungary, and other European countries.... While the president oscillates between abusing and fawning over the elites of the Muslim world, his true opprobrium is reserved for the poor and helpless.... In this no-longer-so-new century, the Republican Party, like the Trump presidency, did ... find the bogeyman it needed and it looks remarkably like a modernized version of the rabidly anti-Communist McCarthyism of the 1950s." --s (Also linked yesterday.)

Brent Griffiths: "... Donald Trump praised Confederate General Robert E. Lee at a rally in Ohio Friday night during a soliloquy in which he also praised a number of Ohioans, including Union General Ulysses S. Grant." Lee was not from Ohio. ...

... Gabriel Pogrund of the Washington Post: "Minutes earlier, Trump had hailed African American unemployment numbers and asked black voters to 'honor us' by voting Republican in November. ...

... According to Griffiths' report, linked above, during the rally Trump "called Ohio State Football coach Urban Meyer a 'great' man," though he didn't mention Meyer by name. Mrs. McC: OSU suspended Meyer without pay for the first three games of this season for "mishandl[ing] domestic assault accusations made against former assistant coach." You might say Meyer "mishandled domestic assault accusations" in much the same way Trump mishandled sexual assault allegations against Bart O'Kavanaugh. It is okay for privileged white men to assault women.

Anne Gearan & Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "For more than 10 minutes Thursday, President Trump was struck nearly speechless as rapper, activist, entrepreneur and MAGA-hat wearing, Trump-loving, dragon-energy-exuding Kanye West held forth in an Oval Office soliloquy that included an f-bomb, references to male genitalia and a presidential hug that looked more like a mauling. West, slouched in a chair facing the president, called himself a 'crazy mother- (expletive)' and rued the 'bull- (expletive)' the president endures. He called the 72-year-old president 'bro.' He wore no tie and he kept the red hat on throughout.... Republicans have long groused that former Democratic president Bill Clinton disrespected the Oval Office with pizza parties and his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky, and complained that former Democratic president Barack Obama was photographed with his feet up on the desk and didn't always wear a coat and tie like his predecessor, George W. Bush." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I suspect Trump invited West to the Oval not so much to garner support from black voters as to try to convince white voters that black people are trashy -- even compared to Trump himself. Of course neither West nor Trump is a person you would invite to Sunday dinner, but Trump would wear a nice suit while misbehaving.

"Binary Choice"? Closer to Sophie's Choice. Nick Miroff, et al., of the Washington Post: "The White House is actively considering plans that could again separate parents and children at the U.S.-Mexico border, hoping to reverse soaring numbers of families attempting to cross illegally into the United States, according to several administration officials with direct knowledge of the effort. One option under consideration is for the government to detain asylum-seeking families together for up to 20 days, then give parents a choice -- stay in family detention with their child for months or years as their immigration case proceeds, or allow children to be taken to a government shelter so other relatives or guardians can seek custody. That option -- called 'binary choice' -- is one of several under consideration amid the president's frustration over border security.... Officials say senior White House adviser Stephen Miller is advocating for tougher measures because he believes the springtime separations worked as an effective deterrent to illegal crossings." ...

... Mrs. McCrabbie: Actually, no they did not. As Dara Lind of Vox notes, "there is no evidence that harsh treatment -- either separation or detention -- actually works as a deterrent." Lind backs up her assertion by showing that the implementation of similar harsh policies did not have a a deterrent effect on border crossings. I don't think it's just that Miller & his ilk are averse to evidence-based strategies. Rather, I suspect the purpose of the plan is cruelty for cruelty's sake. ...

... Daily Beast: "The teacher who claimed this week that controversial White House aide Stephen Miller ate glue as a kid has been suspended from her job." (See yesterday's Commentariat.) Mrs. McC: I knew it was bad to pick on 8-year-olds. (Also linked yesterday.)

Tara Bahrampour of the Washington Post: "Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recalled talking with former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Sessions about adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, according to a document filed Thursday by the Justice Department, though he testified to Congress that he had not done so. The document, part of a multistate lawsuit against the Trump administration over the question, said Ross recalls Bannon calling him in the spring of 2017 to ask whether Ross would speak to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach about ideas for a possible citizenship question on the census.... When asked at a hearing on March 20 by Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y) whether the president or anyone in the White House had discussed the citizenship question with him, Ross said, 'I am not aware of any such.'... The document was released as the Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether Ross can be deposed in the case." (Also linked yesterday.)

Alex Horton of the Washington Post: "... White House Chief of Staff John Kelly described Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) [as 'an impolite arrogant woman'] in the days following the Trump administration’s 2017 travel ban, according to emails obtained by BuzzFeed News under the Freedom of Information Act.... 'Impolite arrogant woman' may be poised to join other insults and attacks that were quickly transformed into badges of honor for the other side." Mrs. McC: I've already received a campaign e-mail from Warren touting her new title. I'm thinking of buying an "Impolite Arrogant Woman" T-shirt, and yes, they're available online.

Rebecca Morin of Politico: "Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security clearance has been revoked at her request, the State Department told lawmakers, according to a letter made public Friday. Clinton's clearance was withdrawn on Aug. 30, according to a letter from the State Department to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), which he released. Five others associated with Clinton, including longtime aide Cheryl Mills, also had their clearances revoked on Sept. 20, according to the letter." Mrs. McC: Aw, Chuck, Hillary is so mean. Now you can't "investigate" her & her aides yet again.

Election 2018

Pennsylvania. Kate Riga of TPM: "In a disjointed Facebook address, Scott Wagner, the Republican challenging Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D), warned the governor to put on a 'catcher's mask' because he is going to 'sto[m]p all over' Wolf's face with 'golf spikes.'"

Georgia. Caitlin MacNeal of TPM: "Following intense scrutiny over his policy that blocked 53,000 Georgia residents from registering to vote, Georgia secretary of state and GOP candidate for governor Brian Kemp went after 'outside agitators' in a Wednesday statement. As Yahoo News' Jon Ward points out, the term 'outside agitators' has a racially tinged history and was used by segregationists in the South. Though Kemp was perhaps referring to the national media and his gubernatorial opponent's out-of-state supporters, he used a racially charged term to defend a policy viewed as an attempt to keep low-income and minority residents from voting." Mrs. McC: Did we mention that Kemp's opponent is black? ...

... Outside Agitator Michelle Goldberg: Democrat Stacey Abrams' ability to win the gubernatorial contest "would depend on Abrams's supporters being permitted to vote. Kemp knows this as well as anyone; four years ago, he warned a meeting of Republicans about the New Georgia Project, a voter-registration initiative that Abrams founded.... 'Democrats are working hard, and all these stories about them, you know, registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines, if they can do that, they can win these elections in November,' he said.... He appears to be using his position [as secretary of state] to try shape Georgia's electorate to his advantage.... [Besides allowing 8 percent of the state's polling places to close,] Kemp's office has canceled more than 1.4 million voter registrations since 2012, and nearly 670,000 registrations in 2017 alone, ostensibly to guard against voter fraud. Further, 53,000 new voter registration applications are 'on hold' at Kemp"s office." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Goldberg argues that "Kemp's apparent attempt to rig the Georgia election shows in microcosm how democracy in America is failing." Wow! Isn't that blowing things out of proportion? Isn't that such an outside-agitator-type thing?

Jason Horowitz, et al., of the New York Times: "Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, a moment many victims of clerical sexual abuse had hoped would demonstrate his commitment to holding accountable bishops who have mismanaged cases of sexual misconduct. But instead of making an example of Cardinal Wuerl, who was named in a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report that accused church leaders of covering up abuse, Francis held him up as a model for the future unity of the Roman Catholic Church. The pope cited Cardinal Wuerl's 'nobility' and announced that the 77-year-old prelate would stay on as the archdiocese's caretaker until the appointment of his successor." (Also linked yesterday.)

Thursday
Oct112018

The Commentariat -- October 12, 2018

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Anne Gearan & Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "For more than 10 minutes Thursday, President Trump was struck nearly speechless as rapper, activist, entrepreneur and MAGA-hat wearing, Trump-loving, dragon-energy-exuding Kanye West held forth in an Oval Office soliloquy that included an f-bomb, references to male genitalia and a presidential hug that looked more like a mauling. West, slouched in a chair facing the president, called himself a 'crazy other- (expletive)' and rued the 'bull- (expletive)' the president endures. He called the 72-year-old president 'bro.' He wore no tie and he kept the red hat on throughout.... Republicans have long groused that former Democratic president Bill Clinton disrespected the Oval Office with pizza parties and his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky, and complained that former Democratic president Barack Obama was photographed with his feet up on the desk and didn't always wear a coat and tie like his predecessor, George W. Bush." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I suspect Trump invited West to the Oval not so much to garner support from black voters as to try to convince white voters that black people are trashy -- even compared to Trump himself. Of course neither West nor Trump is a person you would invite to Sunday dinner, but Trump would wear a nice suit while misbehaving.

Carlotta Gall of the New York Times: "A Turkish court on Friday ordered the release of the American pastor Andrew Brunson from house arrest, a move that will end his 24-month imprisonment and allow him to fly home, and that signaled a truce of sorts in a heated diplomatic dispute between Turkey and the United States. Mr. Brunson was sentenced to three years, one month and 15 days in prison, but the judge lifted all judicial controls -- including a ban on travel -- making him free to leave the country immediately, because of a reduction for good behavior and in view of time served." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: According to Richard Engel of NBC News, Brunson's release would have happened sooner if Trump had not repeatedly insulted Erdogan. Gall concentrates on the economic sticking points, which were sanctions the U.S. placed on Turkey & tariffs Trump imposed on Turkish aluminum & steel, just as the Turkish lira was going into free-fall. ...

... In case you're still wondering how hard the Trump administration plans to come down on Saudi Arabia for the (alleged) brutal assassination of a resident U.S. journalist, you might want to check with Steve Mnuchin:

     ... John Wagner of the Washington Post: "Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday that he still plans to attend a major investment conference in Saudi Arabia this month despite mounting evidence that Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.... A growing number of media companies, including CNN, have announced that they will no longer participate in the event scheduled to start Oct. 23 in Riyadh. Several business leaders, including Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, who announced his withdrawal on Friday, are also backing out.... Mnuchin said Saudi Arabia has been 'a very good partner' to the United States in several respects." ...

     ... Jonah Shepp of New York: "The notion that the Saudi crown prince would have a citizen tortured, killed, and dismembered in a diplomatic outpost abroad may be shocking to the credulous members of the U.S. media and political establishment who have praised him as a modernizing reformer..., but it is entirely consistent with his past patterns of behavior.... At the center of the administration's reaction to this crisis has been ... Jared Kushner, who is known to be a close friend and kindred spirit of Mohammed bin Salman.... If the Saudi regime believes it has carte blanche to commit atrocities on account of these princelings' bromance, well, that's what you get when you conduct foreign policy on the basis of personal affinities rather than rules and institutions.... But failing to punish Saudi Arabia for this outrage, or offering only a cosmetic response, would signal to MBS and every other brutal dictator around the world that as long as they buy American tanks and flatter our president's ego, they need not fear diplomatic repercussions from the U.S. when they disappear, torture, and murder their citizens."

Tara Bahrampour of the Washington Post: "Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross recalled talking with former White House adviser Stephen K. Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Sessions about adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, according to a document filed Thursday by the Justice Department, though he testified to Congress that he had not done so. The document, part of a multistate lawsuit against the Trump administration over the question, said Ross recalls Bannon calling him in the spring of 2017 to ask whether Ross would speak to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach about ideas for a possible citizenship question on the census.... When asked at a hearing on March 20 by Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y) whether the president or anyone in the White House had discussed the citizenship question with him, Ross said, 'I am not aware of any such.'... The document was released as the Supreme Court is expected to rule on whether Ross can be deposed in the case."

Jason Horowitz, et al., of the New York Times: "Pope Francis on Friday accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, a moment many victims of clerical sexual abuse had hoped would demonstrate his commitment to holding accountable bishops who have mismanaged cases of sexual misconduct. But instead of making an example of Cardinal Wuerl, who was named in a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report that accused church leaders of covering up abuse, Francis held him up as a model for the future unity of the Roman Catholic Church. The pope cited Cardinal Wuerl's 'nobility' and announced that the 77-year-old prelate would stay on as the archdiocese's caretaker until the appointment of his successor."

Daily Beast: "The teacher who claimed this week that controversial White House aide Stephen Miller ate glue as a kid has been suspended from her job." (See yesterday's Commentariat.) Mrs. McC: I knew it was bad to pick on 8-year-olds.

Mrs. McCrabbie: Safari posted these links the other day & I failed to pick them up. But they're still topical:

     Daniel Costa-Roberts of Mother Jones: "House Speaker Paul Ryan lamented the increasingly personal tone of American politics at a National Press Club event Monday. 'I worry about this a lot,' he said. 'The incentive in politics is invective; it's outrage; it's hysteria.' He ought to know. Ryan's super-PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, has spent the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections churning out attack ads -- some featuring barely disguised racism -- that rely on those exact ingredients." --s

     Juan Cole on the global consequences of the GOP's Islamophobic: "The Trump administration has made Muslims our enemy of the first order and, in its Islamophobia, is reinforced by an ugly resurgence of fascism in Germany, Italy, Hungary, and other European countries.... While the president oscillates between abusing and fawning over the elites of the Muslim world, his true opprobrium is reserved for the poor and helpless...In this no-longer-so-new century, the Republican Party, like the Trump presidency, did ... find the bogeyman it needed and it looks remarkably like a modernized version of the rabidly anti-Communist McCarthyism of the 1950s." --s

*****

Edward Wong, et al., of the New York Times: "The suspected murder of a prominent Saudi journalist exposed a growing rift on Thursday between the White House and Congress over American policy on Saudi Arabia, as Republican lawmakers demanded an investigation of Jamal Khashoggi's whereabouts even as President Trump declared his relations with Riyadh 'excellent.' The Saudi-led, United States-backed bombing campaign of Houthi rebels in Yemen -- which has killed thousands of civilians -- was already a source of tension between Congress and the Trump administration. But last week's disappearance of Mr. Khashoggi, a well-connected Saudi columnist for The Washington Post living in Virginia, has incensed Republicans and Democrats in Congress, who accused the White House of moving too slowly in pressing the kingdom for answers. 'The Saudis will keep killing civilians and journalists as long as we keep arming and assisting them,' Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, said on Twitter on Thursday. 'The President should immediately halt arms sales and military support to Saudi Arabia.'... 'What good does that do us?' Mr. Trump asked, speaking to reporters midday in the Oval Office. 'I would not be in favor of stopping a country from spending $110 billion -- which is an all-time record -- and letting Russia have that money and letting China have that money,' Mr. Trump said, referring to an arms deal with the Saudis.... Some analysts have ... questioned whether financial ties between Mr. Trump [& Jared Kushner] and Saudi businessmen compromise his policies." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: According to Bruce Reidel of the Brookings Institution, writing in June 2017, "... there is no deal. It's fake news.... Instead, there are a bunch of letters of interest or intent, but not contracts." ...

AND It's Still Fake News. Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: "This is an example of a politician believing his own propaganda. The $110 billion-figure is not real and unlikely to come to fruition -- and even if it did, it represents sales far in the future." ...

     ... Mrs. McC BTW: There is nothing in the NYT story to debunk Trump's claim. So this is a good example of "the failing New York Times" serving as Trump's stenographer, leaving the reader in the dark. Even a fairly well-informed citizen should not be expected to know the details of U.S.-Saudi arms proposals. Since the "$110BB deal" is fake, there is no economic or national security reason not to halt the non-existent arms sales & to sanction Saudi Arabia. ...

... Well, No Reason Except This. David Fahrenthold & Jonathan O'Connell of the Washington Post: "Trump's business relationships with the Saudi government -- and rich Saudi business executives -- go back to at least the 1990s. In Trump's hard times, a Saudi prince bought a superyacht and hotel from him. The Saudi government paid him $4.5 million for an apartment near the United Nations. Business from Saudi-connected customers continued to be important after Trump won the presidency. Saudi lobbyists spent $270,000 last year to reserve rooms at Trump's hotel in Washington. Just this year, Trump's hotels in New York and Chicago reported significant upticks in bookings from Saudi visitors [while bookings at those hotels have otherwise declined].... During Trump's presidential campaign, he also seemed to be exploring plans to build a hotel in Jiddah, Saudi Arabia's second-largest city, part of an international expansion plan. In August 2015 ... Trump established eight new shell companies that included the name 'Jeddah.'... Trump dissolved the eight shell companies by the end of 2016." ...

... Shane Harris, et al., of the Washington Post: "The Turkish government has told U.S. officials that it has audio and video recordings that prove Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul this month, according to U.S. and Turkish officials. The recordings show that a Saudi security team detained Khashoggi in the consulate after he walked in Oct. 2 to obtain an official document before his upcoming wedding, then killed him and dismembered his body, the officials said. The audio recording in particular provides some of the most persuasive and gruesome evidence that the Saudi team is responsible for Khashoggi's death, the officials said.... 'You can hear his voice and the voices of men speaking Arabic, [a] person said. 'You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered.' A second person briefed on the recording said men could be heard beating Khashoggi.... It's not clear that U.S. officials have seen the footage or listened to the audio, but Turkish officials have described their contents to their American counterparts." ...

... Fareem Kahim of the Washington Post: "Turkey said Thursday it has agreed to a request by Saudi Arabia to form a joint committee to probe the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist who Turkish investigators believe was killed in the Saudi Consulate [in Istanbun] by agents of the Saudi government, according to people familiar with the investigation. The Saudi request to cooperate with Turkey, which was announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's top adviser Thursday, was a possible sign that the Saudi leadership may be searching for an exit from the crisis as it faces growing international pressure to explain Khashoggi's fate.... On Thursday, President Trump told reporters that the White House is looking 'very strongly' [Mrs. McC: whatever that means] at Khashoggi's disappearance. 'What happened is a terrible thing, assuming that happened,' he said. 'Maybe we'll be pleasantly surprised, but somehow I tend to doubt it.' 'We intend to get to the bottom of it,' he added." ...

... Murder Okay Because Jobs, Defense Contractor Profits. Jonathan Chait: "Asked about the apparent murder [by Saudis of journalist Jamal Khashoggi] [Wednesday] night on Fox News, President Trump expressed the requisite disapproval he musters for events that do not anger him in any visceral way but which he is expected to condemn ('It would not be a positive. I would not be happy at all.') But when asked if the United States should retaliate by withholding future arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Trump immediately pumped the brakes. 'Well, I think that would be hurting us,' he said. 'We have jobs, we have a lot of things happening in this country. We have a country that's doing probably better economically than it's ever done before. Part of that is what we're doing with our defense systems, and everybody's wanting 'em, and frankly I think that that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country.'... So Trump's case against punishing Saudi Arabia for murdering a journalist is that we can't afford to reduce the profits our defense companies make from selling them weapons. And of course this i perfectly consistent with Trump's conviction that American foreign policy should be run almost literally like a mafia family...." (Also linked yesterday.) ...

John Wagner of the Washington Post: "President Trump said serving in the White House has cost him billions. He called the rhetoric of former attorney general Eric Holder 'dangerous.' He said he could work with Democrats on rebuilding the country's infrastructure if they take control of the House. And he asserted that Hillary Clinton should have been taken off the campaign trail and jailed. All that -- and much more -- came in a freewheeling 45-minute phone interview with the hosts of 'Fox & Friends' on Thursday morning. In a session reminiscent in style of his early days as a presidential candidate, Trump also said he considers it possible that the New York Times actually made up an op-ed that it said was authored by an anonymous senior member of his administration." Mrs. McC: Farther down the page, Wagner explains the Holder reference, which predictably has made Right Wing World crazy but is no big deal. Bullies really can't handle it when their victims fight back. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Danielle Paquette & David Lynch of the Washington Post: "President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have agreed to meet next month at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires in hopes of resolving their intensifying trade conflict, according to three people briefed on the arrangement who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters. The planned sit-down -- which Beijing sought to forestall further U.S. tariffs -- would represent the first direct talks since August, as well as a temporary victory for administration moderates. Yet with U.S.-China relations fraying on an array of issues, few analysts anticipate a major breakthrough."

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post: "... appallingly but predictably, Trump published a falsehood-riddled article in USA Today about 'Medicare-for-all.' Glenn Kessler of The Post deconstructed Trump's op-ed, writing that 'almost every sentence contained a misleading statement or a falsehood.' The president, he wrote, 'chose to ignore the facts in service of a campaign-style op-ed.' And USA Today let him get away with it.... After Trump's piece created a backlash, the paper's editorial page editor, Bill Sternberg, offered an unsatisfactory and puzzling explanation. 'We see ourselves as America's conversation center, presenting our readers with voices from the right, left and middle,' Sternberg said in a statement.... The statement is nonsensical, because adherence to facts has no right, left or middle." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Greg Sargent: "Incredibly, even though Trump has made more than 5,000 false or misleading statements as president, major news organizations' social media feeds continue to inject his unadulterated lies into the political bloodstream without clearly informing readers that they are just that -- lies.... By broadcasting forth Trump's lies in tweets and headlines -- while declining to inform readers that they are just that, and while burying the truth deep within accompanying articles -- the organizations that Trump regularly derides as 'fake news' are themselves spreading a species of fake news.... 'When people see stuff on social media, what they often see is only the headlines,' [Craig] Silverman[, the media editor of BuzzFeed News,] said. 'If you are restating claims that are false or misleading in headlines, you are spreading misinformation.'... [The media's failure to call out Trump's lies] misleads readers and viewers not just in each particular case.... It also misleads them more broadly about the truly sinister and deliberate nature of Trump's ongoing campaign to obliterate the possibility of shared agreement on facts and on the news media's legitimate institutional role in keeping voters informed." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)


Dana Bash
, et al., of CNN: "Donald Trump's legal team is preparing answers to written questions provided by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to sources familiar with the matter. The move represents a major development after months of negotiations and signals that the Mueller investigation could be entering a final phase with regard to the President. The questions are focused on matters related to the investigation of possible collusion between Trump associates and Russians seeking to meddle in the 2016 election, the sources said."

Darren Samuelsohn & Josh Gerstein of Politico: "The federal judge in Virginia who oversaw Paul Manafort's criminal trial this summer threw a new obstacle into the former Trump campaign chairman's plea deal Thursday by calling out as 'highly unusual' a plan to seek the dismissal of deadlocked charges only after Manafort has finished cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller. U.S. District Court Judge T.S. Ellis II ordered Manafort, his lawyers and Mueller's prosecutors back to his Alexandria courtroom for a hearing Oct. 19 to resolve the situation and to set a sentencing date for the longtime GOP operative."


Lucien Bruggeman
of ABC News: "... Melania Trump told ABC News ... she believes she is one of the most bullied people in the world." Thanks to Akhilleus for the lead. Also, do see his comment in yesterday's thread to put Melanie's plaint in the context it deserves. Mrs. McC: So Melanie's anti-bullying campaign is really about ... her? Hard to believe, I know. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

She Persisted. Jason Leopold of BuzzFeed News: "White House chief of staff John Kelly called Sen. Elizabeth Warren an 'impolite arrogant woman' in a private email he exchanged last year with his top aide following a telephone conversation with the Massachusetts Democrat about the Trump administration's travel ban. 'Absolutely most insulting conversation I have ever had with anyone,; Kelly, then serving as the secretary of homeland security, wrote to Kevin Carroll, who was then his senior counselor at the Department of Homeland Security, in an email from Feb. 8, 2017. 'What an impolite arrogant woman. She immediately began insulting our people accusing them of not following the court order, insulting and abusive behavior towards those covered by the pause, blah blah blah.'... 'Too bad Senate Majority Leader McConnell couldn't order her to be quiet again! Warren is running for president so early, trying too hard, and chasing bad pitches.'Carroll [responded]."

The White People's Tax Law. Jim Tankersley of the New York Times: "The tax cuts that President Trump signed into law last year are disproportionately helping white Americans over African-Americans and Latinos, a disparity that reflects longstanding racial economic inequality in the United States and the choices that Republicans made in crafting the law. The finding comes from a new analysis of the $1.5 trillion tax cut using an economic model built by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a liberal think tank, and released in a joint report with Prosperity Now, a nonprofit focused on helping low-income Americans attain wealth and financial stability. It is the first detailed analysis of the law to break down its effects by race." Mrs. McC: Man, now I'm so glad I'm white -- except, um, I happen to be one of the blue-state, white-loser people: my taxes are rising this year even tho my income is not. This makes me suspect that the GOP tax cut was intended to benefit red-state white people more than blue-state white people & minorities. Perfect, huh? (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Election 2018

Georgia Voter Suppression. Astead Herndon of the New York Times: "The office of Brian Kemp, Georgia's secretary of state and the Republican nominee for governor in November's election, has stalled more than 53,000 voter applications, according to a recent report from The Associated Press. The list includes a disproportionately high number of black voters, the report said, which is stirring concern among nonpartisan voting rights advocates and supporters of Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate, who is vying to be the first black woman in the country to be elected governor.... 'As he has done for years, Brian Kemp is maliciously wielding the power of his office to suppress the vote for political gain and silence the voices of thousands of eligible voters -- the majority of them people of color,' said Abigail Collazo, a spokeswoman for Ms. Abrams's campaign. 'This isn't incompetence; it's malpractice.' Mr. Kemp's secretary of state office has denied the accusations of intentional voter suppression, and said the reason for the backlog was shoddy voter registration work by liberal groups." ...

... Daniel Strauss of Politico: "The Georgia NAACP is preparing to sue Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the Republican nominee for governor, in response to a report that Kemp's office has put on hold tens of thousands of voter registration applications, most of them from African-Americans, ahead of the election. The injunction would seek to reopen voter registration in Georgia to ensure that 53,000 registrants on hold in Kemp's office -- and possibly others affected by an outage of the Georgia Department of Driver Services and the state's voter registration website -- would be allowed to register for the upcoming election."

Jeremy Peters of the New York Times: "Sheldon and Miriam Adelson, the Las Vegas Republicans who have already spent more money on federal races this year than any other donors in either political party, are piling even more of their casino fortune into Republicans' campaign efforts, people with knowledge of their plans said Thursday. The newest donations, made recently to a pair of Republican 'super PACs' that are defending the party's fragile majorities in the House and the Senate, have totaled at least $25 million -- and possibly more -- according to two of the people, who insisted on anonymity to disclose private financial dealings." Mrs. McC: Must be fun to own a political party.

October Is the Cruelest Month. Matt Phillips, et al., of the New York Times: "Stocks on Wall Street tumbled again on Thursday, as choppy early trading gave way to another bout of broad-based selling. The declines were widespread, touching everything from previously high-flying tech shares to usually insulated sectors such as consumer staples and utilities.... Every sector of the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index had dropped, leaving the stock market benchmark down an additional 2.1 percent. That slump followed Wednesday's 3.3 percent decline, which was the market's biggest dive in eight months. So far in October -- which looms large in the minds of investors as the month of the 1929 and 1987 crashes -- stocks are down 6.4 percent. That puts the month on a pace to be the worst October for stocks since 2008, when they fell nearly 17 percent."

Jacey Fortin of the New York Times: "For 20 years, the ashes of Matthew Shepard have not been laid to rest. Mr. Shepard's killing in 1998, when he was a 21-year-old college student, led to national outrage and, almost overnight, turned him into a symbol of deadly violence against gay people. Mourners flocked to his funeral that year in Casper, Wyo., but there were also some protesters, carrying derogatory signs. Mr. Shepard's parents worried that if they chose a final resting place for their son, it would be at risk of desecration. Now they have found a safe place. On Oct. 26, Mr. Shepard will be interred at the Washington National Cathedral, the neo-Gothic, Episcopalian house of worship that is a fixture of American politics and religion." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

News Lede

New York Times: "Hurricane Michael's death toll rose to 16 on Friday and was expected to climb higher as emergency workers searched rubble and the storm's grim consequences stretched from the Florida Panhandle into Virginia. Rescue teams combed a region razed by a Category 4 hurricane that flattened blocks, collapsed buildings and left infrastructure crippled. Some of the hardest-hit communities have yet to report fatalities, and although officials said they hoped they would find survivors, a resigned gloom was setting in throughout the disaster zone."

Wednesday
Oct102018

The Commentariat -- October 11, 2018

Afternoon Update:

Jacey Fortin of the New York Times: "For 20 years, the ashes of Matthew Shepard have not been laid to rest. Mr. Shepard's killing in 1998, when he was a 21-year-old college student, led to national outrage and, almost overnight, turned him into a symbol of deadly violence against gay people. Mourners flocked to his funeral that year in Casper, Wyo., but there were also some protesters, carrying derogatory signs. Mr. Shepard's parents worried that if they chose a final resting place for their son, it would be at risk of desecration. Now they have found a safe place. On Oct. 26, Mr. Shepard will be interred at the Washington National Cathedral, the neo-Gothic, Episcopalian house of worship that is a fixture of American politics and religion."

Murder Okay Because Jobs, Defense Contractor Profits. Jonathan Chait: "Asked about the apparent murder [by Saudis of journalist Jamal Khashoggi] last night on Fox News, President Trump expressed the requisite disapproval he musters for events that do not anger him in any visceral way but which he is expected to condemn ('It would not be a positive. I would not be happy at all.') But when asked if the United States should retaliate by withholding future arms sales to Saudi Arabia, Trump immediately pumped the brakes. 'Well, I think that would be hurting us,' he said. 'We have jobs, we have a lot of things happening in this country. We have a country that's doing probably better economically than it's ever done before. Part of that is what we're doing with our defense systems, and everybody's wanting 'em, and frankly I think that that would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country.'... So Trump's case against punishing Saudi Arabia for murdering a journalist is that we can't afford to reduce the profits our defense companies make from selling them weapons. And of course this is perfectly consistent with Trump's conviction that American foreign policy should be run almost literally like a mafia family...." ...

... John Wagner of the Washington Post: "President Trump said serving in the White House has cost him billions. He called the rhetoric of former attorney general Eric Holder 'dangerous.' He said he could work with Democrats on rebuilding the country's infrastructure if they take control of the House. And he asserted that Hillary Clinton should have been taken off the campaign trail and jailed. All that -- and much more -- came in a freewheeling 45-minute phone interview with the hosts of 'Fox & Friends' on Thursday morning. In a session reminiscent in style of his early days as a presidential candidate, Trump also said he considers it possible that the New York Times actually made up an op-ed that it said was authored by an anonymous senior member of his administration." Mrs. McC: Farther down the page, Wagner explains the Holder reference, which predictably has made Right Wing World crazy but is no big deal. Bullies really can't handle it when their victims fight back.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post: "... appallingly but predictably, Trump published a falsehood-riddled article in USA Today about 'Medicare-for-all.' Glenn Kessler of The Post deconstructed Trump's op-ed, writing that 'almost every sentence contained a misleading statement or a falsehood.' The president, he wrote, 'chose to ignore the facts in service of a campaign-style op-ed.' And USA Today let him get away with it.... After Trump's piece created a backlash, the paper's editorial page editor, Bill Sternberg, offered an unsatisfactory and puzzling explanation. 'We see ourselves as America's conversation center, presenting our readers with voices from the right, left and middle,' Sternberg said in a statement.... The statement is nonsensical, because adherence to facts has no right, left or middle." ...

... Greg Sargent: "Incredibly, even though Trump has made more than 5,000 false or misleading statements as president, major news organizations' social media feeds continue to inject his unadulterated lies into the political bloodstream without clearly informing readers that they are just that -- lies.... By broadcasting forth Trump's lies in tweets and headlines -- while declining to inform readers that they are just that, and while burying the truth deep within accompanying articles -- the organizations that Trump regularly derides as 'fake news' are themselves spreading a species of fake news.... 'When people see stuff on social media, what they often see is only the headlines,' [Craig] Silverman[, the media editor of BuzzFeed News,] said. 'If you are restating claims that are false or misleading in headlines, you are spreading misinformation.'... [The media's failure to call out Trump's lies] misleads readers and viewers not just in each particular case. Importantly, it also misleads them more broadly about the truly sinister and deliberate nature of Trump's ongoing campaign to obliterate the possibility of shared agreement on facts and on the news media's legitimate institutional role in keeping voters informed."

Lucien Bruggeman of ABC News: "... Melania Trump told ABC News ... she believes she is one of the most bullied people in the world." Thanks to Akhilleus for the lead. Also, do see his comment in today's thread to put Melanie's plaint in the context it deserves. Mrs. McC: So Melanie's anti-bullying campaign is really about ... her? Hard to believe, I know.

The White People's Tax Law. Jim Tankersley of the New York Times: "The tax cuts that President Trump signed into law last year are disproportionately helping white Americans over African-Americans and Latinos, a disparity that reflects longstanding racial economic inequality in the United States and the choices that Republicans made in crafting the law. The finding comes from a new analysis of the $1.5 trillion tax cut using an economic model built by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a liberal think tank, and released in a joint report with Prosperity Now, a nonprofit focused on helping low-income Americans attain wealth and financial stability. It is the first detailed analysis of the law to break down its effects by race." Mrs. McC: Man, now I'm so glad I'm white -- except, um, I happen to be one of the blue-state, white-loser people: my taxes are rising this year even tho my income is not. This makes me suspect that the GOP tax cut was intended to benefit red-state white people more than blue-state white people & minorities. Perfect, huh?

*****

Late-ish this morning, I linked a story (below) by Adam Liptak on Supreme Court oral arguments. I recommend your reading it. -- Mrs. McCrabbie

Nahal Toosi of Politico: "... Donald Trump’s desire to maintain strong ties to Saudi Arabia is facing its biggest test yet: allegations that Riyadh ordered the killing of a dissident Saudi journalist who had been living in the United States. Calls are mounting for the Trump administration to find out what happened to Jamal Khashoggi.... The fury has grown after a Washington Post report [linked below] that U.S. intelligence knew of Saudi plans to abduct Khashoggi, raising questions about whether the administration failed to warn the journalist.... Former officials and analysts ... are dismayed by what they say is a milquetoast response so far by the Trump team. On Tuesday evening, a group of foreign policy figures attended a dinner with a senior White House official with responsibility for the Middle East. The official kept stressing that the U.S. had significant long-term interests in Saudi Arabia.... When asked about Khashoggi, the official said the U.S. is still trying to get information about what happened, a statement many in the audience found absurd given that Khashoggi disappeared a week earlier and detailed reports had emerged in the media. The official said nothing about the administration being prepared to hold the Saudis accountable for what happened." ...

... Anne Gearan of the Washington Post: "At the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Riyadh agents allegedly kidnapped, killed and dismembered a dissident journalist.... In China, the head of Interpol was abducted and imprisoned by authorities in Beijing while his wife was reportedly threatened with death back home in France. And in the Netherlands, Dutch authorities last week expelled four Russians who were caught with espionage equipment.... These and other brazen operations in recent months illustrate the hands-off posture taken by President Trump toward many authoritarian leaders -- particularly those he views as allies or potential allies who have treated him kindly.... The president has appeared hesitant -- and at times even reluctant -- to forcefully challenge the leaders of such countries accused of abuses. He has praised Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin as partners, dropped his previous criticism of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's human rights violations and has spoken approvingly of the harsh law enforcement tactics employed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. ...

... Grace Segers of CBS News: "A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to President Trump on Wednesday, triggering an investigation into the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist for The Washington Post who has not been seen since he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last week. The Turkish government has claimed that Khashoggi was killed in the consulate, on the orders of the Saudi government. The letter, written by Republican Sens. Bob Corker and Lindsey Graham and Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez and Patrick Leahy, called for Mr. Trump to investigate Khashoggi's disappearance under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which allows the president to impose sanctions on a person or country that has engaged in a human rights violation. [By law, t]he investigation is triggered by a letter to the president from the chair and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker and Menendez, respectively." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Note that Trump now is required under the Magnitsky Act to order this investigation; let's see if he orders the same sort of "limited-in-scope" "investigation" the White House ordered on Bart O'Kavanaugh. ...

... A Reckoning for the "Hidden Genius." Mark Landler, et al., of the New York Times: "For President Trump, who has made Saudi Arabia the fulcrum of his Middle East policy, the possible murder of a Saudi journalist in Turkey is a looming diplomatic crisis. For Mr. Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, it is a personal reckoning. More than anyone in the Trump administration, Mr. Kushner has cultivated Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman -- whose family may have played a role in the disappearance of the journalist, Jamal Khashoggi -- elevating the prince into a key ally in the Arab world and the White House's primary interlocutor to the kingdom. Mr. Kushner championed Prince Mohammed, 33, when the prince was jockeying to be his father's heir; had dinner with him in Washington and Riyadh, the Saudi capital; promoted a $110 billion weapons sale to his military; and once even hoped that the future king would put a Saudi stamp of approval on his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. While the fate of Mr. Khashoggi, a resident of Virginia and a columnist for The Washington Post, remains unclear, allegations that he was killed on the orders of the royal court have thrown Mr. Kushner's grand bet on Prince Mohammed into doubt." ...

... Amy Harder of Axios: "Ernest Moniz, former energy secretary for President Barack Obama, is suspending his involvement advising Saudi Arabia on a proposed city mega-project until more information is made available regarding the disappearance -- and possible assassination -- of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.... Moniz said he was invited to join an international advisory board for the development of NEOM, whose cost is estimated to be around $500 billion.... 'In particular, I have been asked to offer guidance on achieving zero net greenhouse gas emissions. Success with this vision will have global implications for a low-carbon future,' Moniz said.... In awkward timing, the board was announced Tuesday...." ...

... Assassinating Dissidents Is Bad for Business. Dan Primack of Axios: "If the Turks are right ... it could have repercussions for some of the world's largest prospective financial deals. Aramco's IPO: The largest IPO in history was supposed to take place in 2018, but Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tells Bloomberg that the delay should not be misinterpreted as a cancellation.... SoftBank Vision Fund: MBS said in that same interview that the Saudi Public Investment Fund plans to commit another $45 billion or so to SoftBank's next Vision Fund. Both of these deals are, in part, predicated on beliefs in MBS as a reformer." ...

... More on Khashoggi's disappearance & probable assassination linked under Way Beyond.

Lauren Egan & Jonathan Allen of NBC News: "... Donald Trump directly accused Hillary Clinton of engaging in a conspiracy with Russia to affect the 2016 election during a campaign rally [in Erie, Pennsylvania,] Wednesday night. 'There was collusion between Hillary, the Democrats and Russia,' Trump said, just after his supporters had chanted 'lock her up' about Clinton. 'There was a lot of collusion with them and Russia and lots of other people.'... He offered no evidence of his claim." ...

... Peter Baker of the New York Times: "When President Trump mocked a Democratic senator at a midterm election rally the other night, the crowd responded with one of his supporters' favorite chants from his own campaign two years ago. 'Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!'... Mr. Trump smiled and soaked it in. Then he assailed the Democrats for becoming 'an angry left-wing mob.'... A master of divide-and-conquer campaigning... Mr. Trump hopes to convince the public that his opponents are the ones who are 'totally unhinged.'... In an interview on Fox News on Wednesday night, Mr. Trump denied that he bore any responsibility for the current incivility.... His messages at his latest rallies include inherent contradictions. Upset at the allegations made against Justice Kavanaugh, he lately has extolled due process, even as he bathes in 'lock her up' chanting about opponents who have never been charged with a crime. He has talked about the presumption of innocence but says he is '99 percent' sure Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, leaked a letter accusing Justice Kavanaugh of sexual assault, basing his conclusion not on evidence but on her 'body language' in denying it." Mrs. McC: Baker uses terms like "contradictions" & "projection"; true enough, but the underlying fact is that Trump is an irredeemable sociopath. ...

... Olivia Nuzzi of New York gets an impromptu private meeting with Trump, Kelly, Pompeo, pence, Sanders & pence's chief of staff Nick Ayers. Trump, of course, did almost all the talking, while his lackeys piped up just to back his boasts. BTW, Trump thinks Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee is "a judge at the Senate committee." Nuzzi's report is a study in what a pathetic, preening buffoon Trump is. The report is proof that a reporter need not waste energy on analysis when writing only what happened is critique enough.

... Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post: "President Trump wrote an opinion article for USA Today on Oct. 10 regarding proposals to expand Medicare to all Americans -- known as Medicare-for-All — in which almost every sentence contained a misleading statement or a falsehood." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)


Zoe Tillman
of BuzzFeed News: "A California man who pleaded guilty to selling fraudulent bank account numbers -- information that special counsel Robert Mueller's office says was used to finance Russian election interference efforts -- was sentenced Wednesday to six months in prison followed by six months of home detention. Richard Pinedo, 28, wasn't accused of knowingly helping Russian companies and individuals accused of orchestrating campaigns to influence the 2016 presidential election. But his fraud scheme nevertheless landed him in the middle of the special counsel's investigation." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Allegra Kirkland of TPM: "A deceased Republican activist who tried to obtain emails he believed were stolen from Hillary Clinton's private server also met with former national security adviser Michael Flynn in 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. In emails previously described by the newspaper, the operative, Peter W. Smith, claimed that he was using his ties to Flynn's son and consulting firm, the Flynn Intel Group, to try to secure access to the missing emails. The new Journal article provides the first concrete indication of just how far back Smith's relationship with Flynn went."

Natasha Bertrand of the Atlantic: "In a motion to dismiss a new lawsuit accusing ... Donald Trump's campaign team of illegally conspiring with Russian agents to disseminate stolen emails during the election, Trump campaign lawyers have tried out a new defense: free speech. The lawsuit, filed last month by two donors and one former employee of the Democratic National Committee, alleges that the Trump campaign, along with former Trump adviser Roger Stone, worked with Russia and WikiLeaks to publish hacked DNC emails, thereby violating their privacy. But the Trump campaign -- represented by [attorneys] of the law firm Jones Day -- responded in a brief filed Tuesday that the campaign can't be held legally responsible for WikiLeaks's publication of the DNC emails. Furthermore, the Trump lawyers argued, the First Amendment protects the campaign's 'right to disclose information -- even stolen information -- so long as (1) the speaker did not participate in the theft and (2) the information deals with matters of public concern.' The motion's language seems to further an argument made by Trump and his allies...: namely, that collusion, even if it involved the coordinated release and exploitation of a candidate's emails during the presidential election, is not a crime." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)


Matt Zapotosky & Josh Dawsey
of the Washington Post: "President Trump talked recently with Jeff Sessions's own chief of staff [Matthew Whitaker] about replacing Sessions as attorney general, according to people briefed on the conversation, signaling that the president remains keenly interested in ousting his top law enforcement official.... On a long list of indignities that Sessions has endured from his boss, Trump's discussing replacing him with his own top aide stands out.... In the Trump administration, top officials at the Justice Department have learned to work as if every day could be their last. That has never been more true than in recent weeks." Read on to learn what-all Trump likes about Whitaker. ...

... Matt Zapotosky & Devlin Barrett of the Washington Post: "Shortly after Robert S. Mueller III was appointed to investigate possible coordination between President Trump's campaign and the Kremlin, he was drawn into a tense standoff in which Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and then-acting FBI director Andrew McCabe each urged the other to step aside from the case, according to people familiar with the matter. At the time of the confrontation in mid-May 2017, tensions were running high at the FBI and Justice Department, and between Rosenstein and McCabe.... The previously unreported episode involving Mueller, Rosenstein and McCabe ... underscores the deep suspicion between senior law enforcement officials who were about to embark on a historic, criminal investigation of the president. That mistrust has continued to this day, with defenders of each offering conflicting accounts of exactly what was said and meant in the days surrounding Mueller's appointment." The story details more petty spats between Rosenstein & McCabe. Mrs. McC: I continue to suspect that McCabe was fired for political reasons. ...

... Nicholas Fandos & Adam Goldman of the New York Times: "The F.B.I.'s former top lawyer told congressional officials in private testimony last week that he had taken seriously a suggestion by the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, to secretly tape conversations with President Trump but viewed it as too risky and unlikely to deliver meaningful information. F.B.I. officials dismissed the idea within days, according to James A. Baker, then the bureau's general counsel, but his testimony shows that F.B.I. leaders played out its potential ramifications before rejecting it. Mr. Baker's account contradicts Mr. Rosenstein's denial of a New York Times article last month that said he suggested recording the president and discussed recruiting cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Mr. Trump from office. It also undermines an assertion provided by the Justice Department from a law enforcement official ... [who] said [Rosenstein] was being sarcastic." However, Baker was not at the meeting where Rosenstein supposedly proposed recording Trump. Baker testified that he learned of Rosenstein's remarks from either Andrew McCabe or former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So this is still a he-said/he-or-she-said standoff. While this Times story provides some cover for the earlier linked Times story that received a good deal of criticism (including from me, as I recall), it doesn't do much more than name another player. It's not too comforting to know that the guys involved in these squabbles are (or were) the top people protecting the country from, well, worse people.


What $25MM in Campaign Donations Will Get You. Justin Elliott
of ProPublica: The morning after he dined at the White House with Trump, Kushner & Rex Tillerson, Sheldon Adelson "attended a breakfast in Washington with [Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe and a small group of American CEOs, including two others from the casino industry." Japan has recently legalized casinos, & Adelson wanted a big piece of the action. "Adelson and the other executives raised the casino issue with Abe, according to an attendee.... During a meeting at Mar-a-Lago that weekend, Trump raised Adelson's casino bid to Abe, according to two people briefed on the meeting.... Trump told Abe he should strongly consider Las Vegas Sands for a license.... The president raising a top donor's personal business interests directly with a foreign head of state would violate longstanding norms.... [Adelson's] reputation as an Israel advocate has obscured a through-line in his career: He has used his political access to push his financial self-interest.... Not only has Trump touted Sands' interests in Japan, but his administration also installed an executive from the casino industry in a top position in the U.S. embassy in Tokyo. Adelson's influence reverberates through this administration.... Adelson has spent the Trump era hustling to expand his gambling empire. With Trump occupying the White House, Adelson has found the greatest political ally he's ever had." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)


Matt Zapotosky & Josh Dawsey
of the Washington Post: "President Trump talked recently with Jeff Sessions's own chief of staff [Matthew Whitaker] about replacing Sessions as attorney general, according to people briefed on the conversation, signaling that the president remains keenly interested in ousting his top law enforcement official.... On a long list of indignities that Sessions has endured from his boss, Trump's discussing replacing him with his own top aide stands out.... In the Trump administration, top officials at the Justice Department have learned to work as if every day could be their last. That has never been more true than in recent weeks.

Mrs. McCrabbie: I would be a pretty horrible person if I picked on 8-year-olds. But, but what if the 8-year-old grew up to be a guy who saw fit to imprison 8-year-olds and separate them from their parents? So... Nikki Fiske, third-grade teacher, as told to Benjamin Svetkey of the Hollywood Reporter: "Do you remember that character in Peanuts, the one called Pig Pen, with the dust cloud and crumbs flying all around him? That was Stephen Miller at 8. I was always trying to get him to clean up his desk -- he always had stuff mashed up in there. He was a strange dude. I remember he would take a bottle of glue -- we didn't have glue sticks in those days -- and he would pour the glue on his arm, let it dry, peel it off and then eat it.... He had such strange personal habits. He was a loner and isolated and off by himself all the time." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)


** Revenge of the Kavanaugh. Adam Liptak
of the New York Times: "A Supreme Court argument on Wednesday over the detention of immigrants during deportation proceedings seemed to expose a divide between President Trump's two appointees, Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh. The question in the case was whether the federal authorities must detain immigrants who had committed crimes, often minor ones, no matter how long ago they were released from criminal custody. Justice Kavanaugh said a 1996 federal law required detention even years later, without an opportunity for a bail hearing. 'What was really going through Congress's mind in 1996 was harshness on this topic,' he said. But Justice Gorsuch suggested that mandatory detentions of immigrants long after they completed their sentences could be problematic. 'Is there any limit on the government's power?' he asked. Justice Stephen G. Breyer pressed the point, asking a lawyer for the federal government whether it could detain 'a person 50 years later, who is on his death bed, after stealing some bus transfers' without a bail hearing 'even though in this country a triple ax murderer is given a bail hearing.... Justice Kavanaugh [said] the 1996 law put no time limits on the detentions it required." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: So Neil Gorsuch, who argued a worker was obligated to literally freeze to death in his truck if his boss told him to do so, is more sensible & compassionate than Bart O'Kavanaugh. And isn't it rich that a guy whose defenders said it was ridiculous to punish a man for his "youthful indiscretions" (i.e., attempted rape) now says that a person who stole bus transfers 50 years ago should be detained without bail? Oh no, never mind. We're talking about riffraff immigrants, not Elis.

Devlin Barrett & Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: "FBI Director Christopher A. Wray defended his agents' handling of a background investigation into then-Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh, saying that it was 'limited in scope' and followed standard procedures. Wray was pressed at a Senate hearing by Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) about how much direction FBI agents received from the White House when they conducted a supplemental background investigation into claims by a California professor that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her.... Harris then asked if the FBI examined whether Kavanaugh may have misled Congress in his public testimony. 'That's not something I could discuss here,' Wray said.... He could not answer whether White House counsel Donald McGahn played a role in discussions between the White House and the FBI about the investigation, saying only that he was told the FBI's Security Division coordinated the effort with the White House Office of Security." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

** Frank Rich: "The Republican war against women began well before Donald Trump ran for president -- at least as far back as 1992, when, in the aftermath of the Anita Hill–Clarence Thomas debacle, the likes of Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan, and Phyllis Schlafly jawboned the GOP into adopting a misogynistic religious-right policy agenda at the Republican National Convention in Houston. The perhaps inevitable byproduct, a quarter-century later, was Trump, who as a candidate was fully embraced by his party.... No one should be surprised that, once elected, Trump would nominate a likely sex offender to the Supreme Court, where Kavanaugh will help fulfill the long-held GOP dream of rolling back Roe v. Wade, among other egregious ideological goals that will chip away at the rights of all Americans except white men.... Let's face it: even if someone had unearthed a crystal-clear photo or video of Kavanaugh exposing himself to Ramirez, the Senators of the 'grab 'em by the pussy' party..., that narcissistic moral fraud Susan ... Collins included, would still have voted to confirm him."

** Ann Marimow & Tom Hamburger of the Washington Post: "Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Wednesday referred more than a dozen judicial misconduct complaints filed recently against Brett M. Kavanaugh to a federal appeals court in Colorado. The 15 complaints, related to statements Kavanaugh made during his Senate confirmation hearings, were initially filed with the federal appeals court in Washington, where Kavanaugh served for the last 12 years before his confirmation Saturday to the Supreme Court. The allegations center on whether Kavanaugh was dishonest and lacked judicial temperament during his Senate testimony, according to people familiar with the matter. Last month, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit asked Roberts to refer the complaints to another appeals court for review after determining that they should not be handled by judges who served with Kavanaugh on the D.C. appellate court.... It is unclear what will come of the review by the 10th Circuit. The judiciary's rules on misconduct do not apply to Supreme Court justices, and the 10th Circuit could decide to dismiss the complaints as moot now that Kavanaugh has joined the high court.... The Denver-based appeals court is led by Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich, the former solicitor general of Colorado who was nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I am surprised. I expected Roberts to toss the complaints in the shredder. But it does seem likely that Tymkovich -- an arch-conservative -- will just dismiss the complaints now that Bart has his new job, where he is a prince to whom the rules do not apply. (On the other hand, Tymkovich was also on Trump's Federalist Society-generated short list for the high court, so if he's as petty as most of our "leaders" seem to be, maybe he'll lean on the unqualified guy who beat him out.) If Kavanaugh skates, it will be on a sadly ironic note: one of the objections to Kavanaugh was his elitist sense of entitlement -- "I went to Yale, for Pete's sake! How dare you people question me." -- & now he really is entitled to do pretty much whatever he likes. ...

... Lee Moran of the Huffington Post: "Don't expect to find any flattering biographical information about newly-minted Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh on his namesake website domain. Instead, visitors to BrettKavanaugh.com are invited to click on links to resources for survivors of sexual assault. Kavanaugh ... failed to secure his name's URL and it was scooped up by Fix The Court, a judicial reform organization. The site also links to the websites of the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, the End Rape on Campus organization and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Katie Benner of the New York Times: "A Chinese intelligence official was arrested in Belgium and brought to the United States to face espionage charges, Justice Department officials said on Wednesday, in a dramatic escalation of the Trump administration's effort to crack down on Chinese spying. The extradition on Tuesday of the officer, Yanjun Xu, a deputy division director in a regional office of China's Ministry of State Security, was the first time that a Chinese intelligence official was brought to the United States to be prosecuted. He tried to steal trade secrets from GE Aviation, according to law enforcement officials."

John Wagner & Mike DeBonis of the Washington Post: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) remains unbeatable in her home state despite her opposition to Brett M. Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination -- a view at odds with President Trump." Mrs. McC: The Sly Turtle is just trying to discourage Murkowski from changing parties.

Mattathias Schwartz in New York: "In October 2016, senior staff in the Obama White House discussed what they should do if Hillary Clinton won the November election and Donald Trump refused to accept the result as legitimate. They had cause to be worried.... 'It wasn't a hypothetical,' Ben Rhodes, Obama's senior aide and speechwriter, told Intelligencer. 'Trump was already saying it on the campaign trail.' The Obama White House plan, according to interviews with Rhodes and Jen Psaki, Obama's communications director, called for congressional Republicans, former presidents, and former Cabinet-level officials including Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, to try and forestall a political crisis by validating the election result. In the event that Trump tried to dispute a Clinton victory, they would affirm the result as well as the conclusions reached by the U.S. intelligence community that Russian interference in the election sought to favor Trump, and not Clinton." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The plan was ridiculous. When a toddler wails because he can't have something he wants, reasoning with him will have no effect.

Matt Phillips of the New York Times: "Stocks suffered their steepest drop in eight months on Wednesday, as investors continued to digest rising interest rates and previously high-flying tech shares tumbled amid growing tensions with China. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index dropped 3.3 percent, bringing the broad equity benchmark down 4.4 percent for the month. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, a key measure of borrowing costs, inched up to more than 3.24 percent during the trading day before declining. Wednesday's tumble marked the fifth-consecutive daily decline for the S. & P. 500, the longest string of down days since November 2016, according to research from Bespoke Investment Group. And the day's drop was the sharpest since a market sell-off in February. Then, like now, concerns about nascent inflation, rising interest rates and the potential for the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy drove the selling."

Reed Abelson of the New York Times: "The Justice Department's approval of the $69 billion merger between CVS Health and Aetna on Wednesday caps a wave of consolidation among giant health care players that could leave American consumers with less control over their medical care and prescription drugs. The approval marks the close of an era, during which powerful pharmacy benefit managers brokered drug prices among pharmaceutical companies, insurers and employers. But a combined CVS-Aetna may be even more formidable. As the last major free-standing pharmacy manager, CVS Health had revenues of about $185 billion last year, and provided prescription plans to roughly 94 million customers. Aetna, one of the nation's largest insurers with about $60 billion in revenue last year, covers 22 million people in its health plans."

Duh. Henry Fountain of the New York Times: "Scientists are increasingly confident of the links between global warming and hurricanes. In a warming world, they say, hurricanes will be stronger, for a simple reason: Warmer water provides more energy that feeds them. Hurricanes and other extreme storms will also be wetter, for a simple reason: Warmer air holds more moisture. And, storm surges from hurricanes will be worse, for a simple reason that has nothing to do with the storms themselves: Sea levels are rising. Researchers cannot say, however, that global warming is to blame for the specifics of the latest storm, Hurricane Michael, which grew to Category 4 with sustained winds of 155 miles an hour, as it hit the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday. Such attribution may come later, when scientists compare the real-world storm to a fantasy-world computer simulation in which humans did not pump billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere." ...

... Nicholas Kristof: "'One of the most preposterous hoaxes in the history of the planet,' scoffed Rush Limbaugh of Palm Beach. Gov. Rick Scott's administration went so far as to bar some agencies from even using the term 'climate change,' according to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (Scott denied this). Myopic Floridians have plenty of company. President Trump dismissed climate change as a hoax 'created by and for the Chinese.' Senator James Inhofe, a Republican of Oklahoma, 'disproved' climate change by taking a snowball onto the Senate floor and noting that it was chilly outside; using similarly rigorous scientific methods, he wrote a book about climate change called 'The Greatest Hoax.'... Al Gore helped make climate change a Democratic issue, and the Koch brothers helped make climate denial a litmus test of Republican authenticity. Tribalism took over, and climate skepticism became part of the Republican creed. So polls show that today climate denial is far greater in the United States, home to the greatest scientific research in the world, than in just about any other major country."

Beyond the Beltway

Jesse McKinley & William Rashbaum of the New York Times: "The operator of a limousine company at the center of an investigation of the crash in upstate New York that killed 20 people was arrested Wednesday and charged with criminally negligent homicide, according to the State Police. Nauman Hussain, the son of a Shahed Hussain, the owner of Prestige Limousine, was taken into custody by the State Police during a traffic stop on a highway in the Albany area." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Way Beyond

David Kirkpatrick & Malachy Brown of the New York Times: "A Turkish newspaper close to the government has published a list of 15 men it says formed a hit squad of Saudi government agents the Turks suspect of killing and dismembering a prominent critic inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. While Turkey has not leveled the charges publicly, two Turkish officials speaking on the condition of anonymity confirmed that the government considers the men to be Saudi operatives who flew last week to Istanbul in pursuit of Jamal Khashoggi, the dissident. Mr. Khashoggi has not been seen since he entered the consulate on Oct. 2. One of the men on the list published by the newspaper, Sabah, is an autopsy expert at Saudi Arabia's internal security agency, according to the two Turkish officials. Another appears to be a lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force. The officials, citing confidential intelligence, said all worked for the Saudi government." ...

... Shane Harris of the Washington Post: "The crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered an operation to lure Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia from his home in Virginia and then detain him, according to U.S. intelligence intercepts of Saudi officials discussing the plan. The intelligence, described by U.S. officials familiar with it, is another piece of evidence implicating the Saudi regime in Khashoggi's disappearance last week after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say that a Saudi security team lay in wait for the journalist and killed him.... The intelligence pointing to a plan to detain Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia has fueled speculation by officials and analysts in multiple countries that what transpired at the consulate was a backup plan to capture Khashoggi that may have gone wrong."

News Ledes

New York Times: "Search-and-rescue teams rushed on Thursday to reach communities that Hurricane Michael leveled, hoping to find survivors of the powerful storm after its rampage through the Florida Panhandle and beyond left buildings collapsed and splintered, hospitals damaged, roads and water systems compromised and more than a million homes and businesses without electricity. Although it was clear by afternoon that the storm had caused widespread damage, some areas remained largely cut off, and the authorities were trying to deploy rescuers by helicopter and boat.... At least six people have died, and with the death toll expected to rise, the Panhandle and counties to the north were a vast, staggered disaster zone."

New York Times: "More than 40 miles above Earth and hurtling toward space faster than a rifle bullet, a [Russian] rocket carrying an American astronaut, a Russian cosmonaut and hundreds of tons of explosive fuel failed less than two minutes after liftoff on Thursday, forcing the crew to make a harrowing but safe emergency landing. The capsule parachuted to Earth about 12 to 15 miles outside Zhezqazghan, a small city in central Kazakhstan, and neither of the crew members was injured, both the Russian and American space agencies said."

New York Times: "Hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the continental United States, slammed into the Florida Panhandle on Wednesday, unleashing a trail of destruction across 200 miles that splintered houses, peeled off roofs and stirred up a terrifying surge of seawater that submerged entire neighborhoods and sent boats careening down city streets. A storm that was initially forecast to arrive as a tropical storm instead amped up to furious intensity, hitting landfall just after midday near the small seaside community of Mexico Beach, 100 miles southwest of Tallahassee, with winds topping 155 miles per hour. Images from there showed swaths of shattered debris where houses once stood and structures inundated up to their rooftops...."