The Ledes

Sunday, July 15, 2018.

New York Times: France won the World Cup, beating Croatia 4-2.

 

The Wires

Public Service Announcement

July 13: Washington Post: "A salmonella outbreak linked to a popular Kellogg's cereal has infected 100 people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday. The agency is urging consumers to avoid Honey Smacks, a sugary puffed wheat cereal which has been the subject of a recall by the company since mid-June. At least 30 of the 100 have been hospitalized, while no deaths have been reported, the CDC said. 'Do not eat Kellogg’s Honey Smacks cereal of any size package or with any "best if used by" date,' it wrote."

Welcome to the Bank:

The Mounties Always Get Their Man -- and Woman -- especially when the pair are the ones mimicking the Keystone Kops. This is real CCTV footage of a young couple who -- allegedly -- tried to use stolen credit cards at an Alberta, Canada, convenience store. The WashPo has more details. These comical suspects, BTW, are not teenagers; they're in their late 20s. Super-size for best viewing. There's an action-movie moment near the end, so don't tune out too soon:

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."

AP: "ABC, which canceled its 'Roseanne' revival over its star's racist tweet, says it will air a Conner family sitcom minus Roseanne Barr this fall. ABC ordered 10 episodes of the spinoff after Barr agreed to forgo any creative or financial participation in it. In a statement issued by the show's producer, Barr said she agreed to the settlement in order to save the jobs of 200 cast and crew members. ABC said Thursday that the new series has the working title 'The Conners' and will star John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf, Sara Gilbert and other 'Roseanne' co-stars."

NAFTA No, NAFSA . North American Free Soccer Agreement. Washington Post: "The World Cup is returning to the United States, and this time, Mexico and Canada are along for the wild ride. A North American joint bid won the rights Wednesday to host the 2026 edition of the celebrated soccer tournament, defeating Morocco and bouncing back from an unfathomable U.S. defeat to Qatar in voting for the 2022 event eight years ago. The member associations in FIFA, the sport’s governing body, favored the North American effort, known as the United Bid, in a landslide vote, 134-65."

... Washington Post: "It was Justify’s moment, after all. In a dazzling display of power and durability, the late-blooming colt who didn’t race as a 2-year-old proved Saturday he couldn’t be worn out as a 3-year-old, thundering to victory in the Belmont Stakes to claim a place in history as the sport’s 13th Triple Crown champion. After a 37-year drought in which the feat seemed impossible, Justify became the second horse in four years to achieve it, tutored, like 2015 predecessor American Pharoah, by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Before Saturday’s Belmont Stakes, which Justify won by 1¾ lengths over surprise second-place finisher Gronkowski in a 10-horse field, the massive chestnut colt with the white blaze had won the Kentucky Derby by a 2 1 /2-length margin, becoming the first since Apollo in 1882 to win the classic without running as a 2-year-old. Two weeks later, Justify weathered torrential rain and a blanket of fog to win the Preakness Stakes, setting himself up for the Triple Crown bid."

Masha Gessen of the New Yorker on "The Americans." Mrs. McC Spoiler Alert: If you haven't seen the show's finale, & you plan to, see it before reading Gessen's post.

You may want to cut the sound on this video so you don't go nuts before you get to move overseas:

Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: I found this on a political Website, so that's my excuse. Juliana Gray in McSweeney's: "The Incel Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." It begins,

"Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like an equal redistribution of sexual resources.
Let us go, through certain half-considered tweets
and form tedious arguments
about entitlement.

"In the room the women come and go
Talking of Maya Angelou."

Read on. Incels, in case you don't know,  (a portmanteau of 'involuntary' and 'celibacy') are members of an online subculture who define themselves as being unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one, a state they describe as inceldom. Self-identified incels are almost exclusively male and mostly heterosexual," according to Wikepedia.

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

Sunday
Jul082018

The Commentariat -- July 9, 2018

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "President Trump has decided on his nominee to the Supreme Court after spending Monday morning working the phones primarily seeking input about two judges who were said to be the finalists, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Thomas M. Hardiman, people familiar with the discussions said. Those who discussed the president's decision, and spoke on the condition of anonymity, did not disclose the name of the president's selection. Mr. Trump had been going back and forth between Judge Kavanaugh, the favorite of the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, and Judge Hardiman, whom the president's sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, a former colleague of Judge Hardiman's, has pressed him to choose."

Stephanie Murray of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Monday attacked a New York Times story that reported how his administration attempted to weaken a World Health Assembly resolution to promote breastfeeding, saying women shouldn't be denied access to formula.... 'The failing NY Times Fake News story today about breast feeding must be called out. The U.S. strongly supports breast feeding but we don't believe women should be denied access to formula. Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty,' Trump said in a tweet.... 'Our report is accurate. You can read it here,' the Times tweeted, [linking to the story]."

Julia Ainsley of NBC News: "A federal judge has agreed to extend Tuesday's deadline for the government to reunite 102 migrant children under the age of 5 who were separated from their parents under President Donald Trump's 'zero tolerance' policy. Judge Dana Sabraw asked government attorneys to provide an update by Tuesday morning on which children will be reunited, who will require more time, and to deliver a proposed timeline for reuniting the remaining children with their parents."

Heather Stewart of the Guardian: "Boris Johnson has resigned as foreign secretary, becoming the third minister in 24 hours to walk out of the government rather than back Theresa May's plans for a soft Brexit. The prime minister hammered out a compromise with her deeply divided cabinet in an all-day meeting at Chequers on Friday.... After the Chequers summit, it emerged that Johnson had referred to attempts to sell the prime minister's Brexit plan as 'polishing a turd'.... Johnson's departure will deepen the sense of crisis around May, and increase the chances that she could face a vote of no confidence."

*****

** Words Fail. Andrew Jacobs of the New York Times: "A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly.... Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.... When [efforts to water down the resolution] failed, they turned to threats.... If Ecuador..., which had planned to introduce the measure..., refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.... In the end, the Americans' efforts were mostly unsuccessful. It was the Russians who ultimately stepped in to introduce the measure -- and the Americans did not threaten them." Read the whole story. Mrs. McC: The irresponsibility, depravity & corruption of the Trump administration is so deep and broad, it boggles the mind. See Akhilleus's comment in yesterday's thread. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... David Atkins in the Washington Monthly: "If you said a few years ago that this would be a real news story in 2018, no one would believe you. But here we are." ...

... David Boddiger of Splinter: "It's bad enough that Trump and his enforcers are putting children into cages on our own soil. Now, they are showing that they care little about children's health in the rest of the world, either. This administration is -- make no mistake -- an enemy of children, particularly those from low-income families and nations." ...

... Kevin Drum explains the dynamics: "You have to give them credit: big business gets what they pay for when they buy a Republican administration. But even big business can't overcome Trump's love for Vladimir Putin." Mrs. McC: Pretty simple. ...

... Martin Longman of the Booman Tribune: "The Trump administration demonstrated almost every flaw they have here. They put the interests of corporate lobbyists ahead of the health of babies. They showed a complete contempt for science and the consensus of the international community. They abused their power and threatened well-meaning and innocent nations simply because they could. They negotiated in bad faith and behaved like extortionists. And then their bullying act immediately stopped when confronted by Russia because this administration always seeks to please Russia and only confronts them when all other alternatives have been exhausted. The message is clear. If you are a political leader of a small or medium sized country, America will strong-arm you and try to prevent you from doing things based on science if that will hurt some powerful corporations. The way to stand up to America is to go running into the arms of Vladimir Putin." ...

... Emily Stewart of Vox: "Trump in a 2011 deposition reportedly became upset when an attorney named Elizabeth Beck requested a break to pump breast milk for her three-month-old daughter.... Beck told CNN in 2015 that Trump called her 'disgusting.' Trump's lawyer, Allen Garten, didn't dispute the assertion, and Trump acknowledged to CNN he 'might have said that.'... He also called a 2012 TIME Magazine cover showing a mother breastfeeding her toddler 'disgusting.'"

Lisa Rein of the Washington Post: "Federal agencies on Monday begin implementing executive orders from President Trump on how to confront employee unions, following strict guidelines likely to escalate tensions that have been building since the president took office.... Trump's executive orders represent a broadening of the get-tough initiatives that have played out in individual agencies since he took office, including recent efforts to force unions to move out of government-paid office space and to rein in the use of official work time by union representatives who deal with employee grievances and disciplinary matters."


** Jonathan Chait
makes the case that Trump is a Russian asset: "As Trump arranges to meet face-to-face and privately with Vladimir Putin later this month, the collusion between the two men metastasizing from a dark accusation into an open alliance, it would be dangerous not to consider the possibility that the summit is less a negotiation between two heads of state than a meeting between a Russian-intelligence asset and his handler." It all began in 1987, when Trump visited Moscow. "Trump returned from Moscow fired up with political ambition.... In July 2013, Trump visited Moscow again. If the Russians did not have a back-channel relationship or compromising file on Trump 30 years ago, they very likely obtained one then.... It would have been strange if Russia didn't help Trump. After all, Russians covertly support allied politicians abroad all the time.... Trump ... acts like a man with a great deal to hide...." This is a long piece, accumulating the "known-knowns" & hypothesizing about how they all fit together....

...** David Edwards of RawStory (July 5): "Seth Abramson, a professor and legal analyst, on Thursday provided what he said was 'evidence of criminal collusion' between President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and the Russian government. In a massive Twitter thread, Abramson said that there was a 'clear pattern' of actions taken by the Trump campaign before and after the election which points to a conspiracy to undermine U.S. sanctions against Russia. Abramson came to the conclusion that there was 'likely' collusion with Russia after examining the Trump campaign's activities in four European countries -- Italy, Greece, Hungary and Austria -- which wanted sanctions to be lifted.... The legal analyst went on to break down the Trump campaign's actions in each country." --safari

Shane Harris of the Washington Post: "Rudolph W. Giuliani ... said Sunday that he has counseled the president against granting a pardon to his longtime fixer Michael Cohen, at least for now. 'I have advised the president, which he understands: no discussion of pardons,' Giuliani said in an appearance on ABC News's 'This Week.' But he seemed not to rule out that the president might change his mind. 'You can't abridge your power to do it. That's something you can decide down the road, one way or the other,' Giuliani said." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Ed Pilkington of the Guardian: "... Rudy Giuliani has warned Robert Mueller ... that the White House is close to refusing to grant an interview with the president. Giuliani took the increasingly belligerent tone of the White House up a notch on Sunday.... Speaking on This Week on ABC News, he accused the special counsel of assembling a team of investigators around him that included 'very, very severe partisans working on an investigation that should have been done by people who are politically neutral'. Asked whether they had made a decision on whether or not Trump should participate in an interview with the inquiry, he replied: 'We have not determined he will not sit down with Mueller, but we are close to that.'" ...

... Louis Nelson of Politico: "The Russia investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller is 'the most corrupt investigation I have ever seen,'... Rudy Giuliani told ABC News on Sunday morning." Mrs. McC: Apparently Rudy is unaware of House Republicans' "investigations," most of which are corrupt. ...

.. To wit: Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post on Marcy Wheeler's decision to inform on a source, then write about it: "In addition to the knowledge of her source's inside information, Wheeler said, she had reason to believe that the source was involved with efforts to compromise her website and other communications. And perhaps most important, that he was involved in cyberattacks -- past and future -- that had done and could do real harm to innocent people.... But what motivated her recent revelation that she went to the FBI has plenty to do with politics: She is disgusted by the way House Republicans are, in her view, weaponizing their oversight responsibilities and making it all too likely that FBI informants will have their names revealed.... Without knowing all the details, it's hard to judge whether she was right. But it's not hard to see that her decision was a careful and principled one."...

...Sarah Burris of RawStory: "Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) is demanding that special counselor Robert Mueller release all of his information to the House Intelligence Committee, but according to one colleague he's not working with his fellow members on it, much less keeping them abreast. In an interview with MSNBC's Kassie Hunt, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) was asked about the Nunes request and revealed he's not much for government transparency.... 'We haven't had notification from Mr. Nunes about anything he's going to do for months now,' Quigley said.... Quigley said that Nunes also put a halt to anyone being able to issue 'subpoenas on documents and people of critical interest.'" --safari

America's Addictions. Tom Engelhardt of Tom Dispatch: "When you think of addiction in America today, one thing comes to mind: the opioid epidemic.... According to the National Center for Health Statistics, almost 64,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in 2016 (more than died in the Vietnam War), an average of 175 people a day.... The United States, however, has two other crises that, in the long run, will cost Americans far more.... This country (and above all its media) is addicted to Donald J. Trump.... [T]he unprecedented way he continues to draw attention ... represents a victory of the first order for him of a unique, almost incomprehensible sort.... And then there's that other twenty-first-century all-American addiction, in some ways far stranger than the Trumpian one and likely to be no less costly in the long run: addiction to war.... [As much as they don't want a bright, shiny new war the Generals] can't imagine leaving the old ones behind either. And that's America's war addiction in a nutshell." --safari


John Hudson & Adam Taylor
of the Washington Post: "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shot back against North Korea on Sunday, saying the regime's criticism that U.S. negotiators acted in a 'gangster-like' way during his two-day visit to Pyongyang was unfounded. 'If those requests were gangster-like, the world is a gangster,' said Pompeo, noting that U.S. demands for North Korea to denuclearize were supported by a consensus among U.N. Security Council members. The secretary of state also said that despite a critical statement released by North Korea's Foreign Ministry on Saturday night, he thought the two sides had made progress during the meeting and that his North Korean counterpart, Kim Yong Chol, negotiated in 'good faith.'... Pompeo added that the United States and world powers would maintain economic sanctions against North Korea until full denuclearization was achieved." ...

... Nick Wadhams of Bloomberg: Mike Pompeo's "trip [to North Korea] reflects the difficulty for Pompeo in dealing with one of the world's most reclusive and unpredictable regimes, which can shift from threats to warm words and back again at speed. It comes as pressure mounts on him to show progress on the delicate task of getting North Korea to move forward on nuclear disarmament, including the issue of verification, and make good on ... Donald Trump's claimed accomplishments from the Singapore summit.... The specifics of what happened behind closed doors remain unclear. Whether Pompeo somehow annoyed his counterpart, or pressed too hard, or whether the North Koreans are simply reverting to their hot-and-cold tactics, is hard to say. But the regime made sure to have the final word, and it was not pleasant."...

...This seems a good time to remember Mike Pompeo's boisterous July 12th tweet 'State Dept team at #singaporesummit delivers for America #swagger' --safari

Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani of ThinkProgress: "A Mexican couple from Brooklyn was detained on July 4 outside the Army base at Fort Drum, near the border with Canada, where they had traveled to celebrate the holiday with their son-in-law before his deployment to Afghanistan.... The couple was born in Mexico, but has lived in New York for two decades, according to their son Eduardo.... In 2007, they received an official Department of Labor work permit. Eduardo said they had valid New York City IDs, which they had used to access military bases before. But this time, military police questioned the ID and asked for a second form of identification. After the couple showed their passports, military called Border Protection agents, who took them to a detention center in Buffalo." --safari

... Natasha Korecki of Politico: "Gov. Bruce Rauner this year reported turning a profit from a health care group that services U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers, including facilities that hold immigrant families with children. In his most recent statement of economic interests, the multi-millionaire Republican governor disclosed earnings from a private equity fund that owns Correct Care Solutions, a for-profit health care provider that has millions of dollars in government contracts with jails and prisons across the country, including immigrant detention centers. The governor says he relinquished investment decisions to a third party and has no direct ties to Correct Care Solutions." --safari...

Our War in Yemen. Sudarsan Raghavan of the Washington Post: "For nearly a decade, U.S. intelligence officials have considered al-Qaeda's Yemen branch, known as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula or AQAP, as the most dangerous of all its affiliates.... Over the past year, the shadow war between al-Qaeda and local Yemeni fighters has intensified, largely out of sight and out of the headlines.... The battle being waged by U.S.-backed Yemeni forces against al-Qaeda militants has escalated. In the first year of President Trump's term, the United States conducted far more airstrikes against al-Qaeda militants in Yemen than it had in previous years.... When asked about the U.S. role on the ground, Capt. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the Pentagon's Central Command, said he could not provide specifics due to 'operational security and the safety of our forces.'..."

Senate Race. "Beto-Mania." Ben Schreckinger of Politico: "Fueled by millions in small-dollar donations, [Rep. Beto] O'Rourke[, Texas Democrats' U.S. Senate nominee] is outraising [Sen. Ted] Cruz [ARRRR]. In recent weeks..., Donald Trump's policy of separating migrant families detained at the border has given his campaign a jolt of moral clarity. And voters are responding in a way that Texas Democrats say they have not seen before in modern times.... With his youth and magnetism, O'Rourke, 45, draws comparisons to Barack Obama, but he projects a gawkier sort of charisma.... His delivery is faster and jerkier.... A fluent Spanish speaker, O'Rourke is especially emphatic when he talks about immigration." O'Rourke is far behind Cruz in recent polls.

David McCumber & Thomas Plank of the Montana Standard: "The attendance of four Roman Catholic priests from Montana at ... Donald Trump's political rally in Great Falls Thursday has created a social media firestorm and apparently incurred the displeasure of the priests' superiors in the church. The four, who were seated near the front of the rally, wore their clerical garb, carried 'Make America Great Again' signs, and wore VIP badges. They clapped for Trump as he doubled down on his oft-repeated slur of Sen. Elizabeth Warren as 'Pocahontas,' mocked the #MeToo movement, and questioned the meaning of former Republican President George H.W. Bush's 'Thousand Points of Light' slogan." Mrs McC: I guess these priests also think it's great to tear babies away from their parents & deny them mothers' milk.

Amy Wang of the Washington Post: In Austin, Texas, a 41-year-old white man murdered a young black man in cold blood in the early morning hours of the 4th of July because the young man, Devonte Ortiz, was setting off fireworks. The white guy "was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree murder, police said. He is being held at the Travis County Jail on a $250,000 bond...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Way Beyond the Beltway

Heather Stewart of the Guardian: "David Davis has resigned as Brexit secretary, shattering the hard-won consensus around Theresa May's Chequers deal and plunging her government into crisis. His resignation was swiftly followed by that of fellow Department for Exiting the EU ministers Steve Baker and Suella Braverman. It force May to reshuffle her government, at the same time as trying to convince backbenchers to support her plan. Davis has told friends he cannot live with the soft Brexit stance agreed between ministers on Friday, which proposes a 'UK-EU free trade area', governed by a 'common rule book'.... The prime minister is facing a growing backlash from the pro-Brexit wing of her party, with MPs warning they are prepared to trigger a leadership contest." Mrs. McC: Apparently these MPs don't care that they're right playing into Russia's hand, even as this is happening. ...

     ... Update. Dan Sabbagh & Jessica Elgot of the Guardian: "Dominic Raab, a Brexit-supporting minister, has been promoted to replace David Davis as Brexit secretary, No 10 has announced."

... Patrick Greenfield of the Guardian: "A woman who was exposed to the nerve agent novichok in Amesbury, Wiltshire, has died in hospital. The Metropolitan police have launched a murder investigation after Dawn Sturgess, 44, from Durrington, died after handling an item contaminated with the nerve agent on 30 June. Her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, who was also taken ill after being exposed to the nerve agent, remains in a critical condition in hospital." Mrs. McC: And Donald Trump is having a friendly tête-à-tête with Vladimir Putin this week. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Sam Mednick of the Guardian: "Over the past three years, there have been a growing number of kidnaps in Congo's conflict-ridden Kivu provinces.... More than 730 people in North and South Kivu have been abducted or kidnapped for ransom since the beginning of the year, according to the Kivu Security Tracker, a joint project between Human Rights Watch and the Congo Research Group.... But the kidnapping of children for ransom is a relatively new phenomenon, particularly in Goma, the capital of North Kivu. Exact figures are hard to come by, but one child protection group in North Kivu says that, in 2017, 215 children were abducted in the province and 34 killed." --safari

Damian Carrington of the Guardian: "A mysterious surge in emissions of an illegal ozone-destroying chemical has been tracked down to plastic foam manufacturers in China, according to an on-the-ground investigation published on Monday. The chemical, trichlorofluoromethane or CFC-11, has been banned around the world since 2010 and is a potent destroyer of ozone.... A shock rise in the gas in recent years was revealed by atmospheric scientists in May.... The Environmental Investigation Agency, a non-governmental organisation, has now identified widespread use of CFC-11 factories in China that make insulating foams.... [T]he companies said the use of CFC-11 was rife in the sector.... Without action, the CFC-11 emissions would delay the recovery of the planet's ozone hole by a decade, scientists estimate." --safari...

... Damian Carrington: "One in three fish caught around the world never makes it to the plate, either being thrown back overboard or rotting before it can be eaten, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization." --safari...

... David Roberts of Vox: "A coalition of seven Dutch political parties recently unveiled a climate policy proposal that is breathtaking in its ambition. If it becomes law, it will codify the most stringent targets for greenhouse gas reductions of any country in the world. There are still several steps between the proposal and passage.... It is widely expected to pass in something like its current form by late next summer. It would be the world's eighth national climate law (after the UK, Mexico, Denmark, Finland, France, Norway, and Sweden), but it boasts a few features that make it particularly notable." --safari...

... Juan Cole makes a bold prediction: "[W]e now have a pretty solid estimate for the beginning of the end of oil: 2030 at the latest. After that, it is a long or short spiral down to a cost set by the world need for hydrocarbon-based fertilizer and other lesser uses of oil (none of which come near to generating volume and prices similar to gasoline for automobiles). The end of oil will be huge for US politics, economy and foreign policy. Stay tuned. And if your retirement fund has a significant position in Big Oil, get out of it." --safari

News Ledes

The Guardian's liveblog of developments in the Thai cave rescue operation is here. @7:43 am ET: " Six boys have been rescued and six more and their coach remain in the cave."

     Update @9:39 am ET: "The Thai navy Seals have confirmed that eight boys have been rescued from the Tham Luang cave complex in Northern Thailand, after two separate rescue operations. A further four boys were rescued on Monday after four were rescued on Sunday. A further four boys and their coach Ekapol Chantawong remain in the cave. The identities of the rescued boys have not been confirmed."

Saturday
Jul072018

The Commentariat -- July 8, 2018

Afternoon Update:

Patrick Greenfield of the Guardian: "A woman who was exposed to the nerve agent novichok in Amesbury, Wiltshire, has died in hospital. The Metropolitan police have launched a murder investigation after Dawn Sturgess, 44, from Durrington, died after handling an item contaminated with the nerve agent on 30 June. Her partner Charlie Rowley, 45, who was also taken ill after being exposed to the nerve agent, remains in a critical condition in hospital." Mrs. McC: And Donald Trump is having a friendly tête-à-tête with Vladimir Putin this week.

** Words Fail. Andrew Jacobs of the New York Times: "A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly.... Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.... When [efforts to water down the resolution] failed, they turned to threats.... If Ecuador..., which had planned to introduce the measure..., refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.... In the end, the Americans' efforts were mostly unsuccessful. It was the Russians who ultimately stepped in to introduce the measure -- and the Americans did not threaten them." Read the whole story. Mrs. McC: The irresponsibility & corruption of the Trump administration is so deep and broad, it boggles the mind. See Akhilleus's comment below.

Shane Harris of the Washington Post: "Rudolph W. Giuliani ... said Sunday that he has counseled the president against granting a pardon to his longtime fixer Michael Cohen, at least for now. 'I have advised the president, which he understands: no discussion of pardons,' Giuliani said in an appearance on ABC News's 'This Week.' But he seemed not to rule out that the president might change his mind. 'You can't abridge your power to do it. That's something you can decide down the road, one way or the other,' Giuliani said."

Amy Wang of the Washington Post: In Austin, Texas, a 41-year-old white man murdered a young black man in cold blood in the early morning hours of the 4th of July because the young man, Devonte Ortiz, was setting off fireworks. The white guy "was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree murder, police said. He is being held at the Travis County Jail on a $250,000 bond...."

*****

Jesse Byrnes of the Hill: "President Trump on Saturday floated the idea of Twitter dumping major national news publications including The New York Times and The Washington Post as the social media platform removes 'fake' accounts. 'Twitter is getting rid of fake accounts at a record pace. Will that include the Failing New York Times and propaganda machine for Amazon, the Washington Post, who constantly quote anonymous sources that, in my opinion, don't exist - They will both be out of business in 7 years!' Trump tweeted." ...

     ... Mrs. Bea McCrabbie: Sadly, Twitter will never dump Trump, at least while he's president*, despite all the untruthful & incendiary remarks he makes on the platform. The company has given him a "world leader" exemption from the rules that apply to the rest of us.

That Went Well. Gardiner Harris & Choe Sang-Hun of the New York Times: "North Korea accused the Trump administration on Saturday of pushing a 'unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization' and called it 'deeply regrettable,' hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his two days of talks in the North Korean capital were 'productive.' Despite the criticism, North Korea's Foreign Ministry said the country's leader, Kim Jong-un, still wanted to build on the 'friendly relationship and trust' forged with President Trump during their summit meeting in Singapore on June 12. The ministry said Mr. Kim had written a personal letter to Mr. Trump, reiterating that trust." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Idrees Ali of Reuters: "A joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea scrapped after ... Donald Trump griped about 'tremendously expensive' military drills would have cost around $14 million, U.S. officials told Reuters on Friday.... The $14 million price tag compares with a recent contract awarded to Boeing Co ... for nearly $24 million for two refrigerators to store food aboard Air Force One, the presidential plane. The contract has since been canceled due to possible delivery of an updated Air Force One aircraft.... U.S. officials have long insisted military exercises with partners are important for readiness and reassuring allies. Trump's announcement baffled allies, military officials and lawmakers from his own Republican Party."

MEANWHILE. "A Pathetic Weakling." Dexter Filkins of the New Yorker: "A humanitarian disaster is unfolding in southern Syria, where hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing heavy fighting and finding borders locked tight.... During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump criticized [President] Obama's [hands-off] Syria policy, but since becoming President he has more or less continued it.... When the [Assad] offensive [on Dara'a] began, two weeks ago, Russian officials, unleashing waves of air strikes, said they had decided to help the Syrian army crush 'terrorists.' There was no mention of the 'de-escalation zone' that Trump and Putin had agreed to a year ago.... The 'de-escalation zone' was inaction disguised as action;... President Trump ... has made it absolutely clear that he intends to stay out of Syria, even at the price of allowing Putin to make him look like a pathetic weakling."

Amy Goldstein of the Washington Post: "The Trump administration took another major swipe at the Affordable Care Act, halting billions of dollars in annual payments required under the law to even out the cost to insurers whose customers need expensive medical services. In a rare Saturday afternoon announcement, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it will stop collecting and paying out money under the ACA's 'risk adjustment' program, drawing swift protest from the health insurance industry. Risk adjustment is one of three methods built into the 2010 health-care law to help insulate insurance companies from the ACA requirement that they accept all customers for the first time -- healthy and sick --; without charging more to those who need substantial care. The other two methods were temporary, but risk adjustment is permanent.... The five-paragraph statement plus a timeline issued on Saturday justified the latest maneuver by tying it to a legal dispute over the fairness of the risk-adjustment formula." ...

... Robert Pear of the New York Times: "Trump administration officials said they decided to suspend payments under the program because of a ruling in February in Federal District Court in New Mexico. The judge tossed out the formula used to calculate payments, finding that it was flawed.... Supporters of the Affordable Care Act said the move was the latest example of the Trump White House's efforts to undermine the health law.... The Trump administration blamed President Barack Obama on Saturday, saying, 'This aspect of the risk adjustment methodology was promulgated as part of a regulation first issued by the Obama administration in 2013.'" Emphasis added.

The administration stole these babies and children, then destroyed the records needed to return them. When they miss the deadline, the court should hold Secretaries Nielsen and Azar in contempt. Jail them until their agencies prove that every last child has been returned. https://t.co/VllBrCYmQ4

— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) July 6, 2018

Adolfo Flores of BuzzFeed: "... a court hearing Friday in San Diego made evident the extent of the breakdown between the Department of Homeland Security, which separated the children from their parents under the Trump administration's 'zero tolerance' policy, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), whose Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) houses the children at dozens of sites around the country. At the hearing, Justice Department attorneys acknowledged that the government is uncertain it knows the whereabouts of all the parents of 101 children under the age of five who the government has been ordered to reunite with their parents by Tuesday." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Let's just bear in mind that these are Trump's idea of "the best people" -- Jeff Sessions, Kirstjen Nielsen, Alex Azar -- yet it never occurred to them to get their staffs together to set up something as fundamental as a tracking system to locate their own prisoners. They don't even know who the children are if the kids are too young to reliably ID themselves. Either they're too cruel to care (most likely) or their incomprehensibly inept. Or a combination thereof. ...

... The United States of America v. Johan. Hey, at Least This Infant Got a Lawyer! Astrid Galvan of the AP: "The 1-year-old boy in a green button-up shirt drank milk from a bottle, played with a small purple ball that lit up when it hit the ground and occasionally asked for 'agua.' Then it was the child's turn for his court appearance before a Phoenix immigration judge, who could hardly contain his unease with the situation during the portion of the hearing where he asks immigrant defendants whether they understand the proceedings. 'I'm embarrassed to ask it, because I don't know who you would explain it to, unless you think that a 1-year-old could learn immigration law,' Judge John W. Richardson told the lawyer representing the 1-year-old boy." The baby's attorney "said the father, who was now in Honduras, was removed from the country under false pretenses that he would be able to leave with his son." ...

... Washington Post Editors: The Trump administration is practicing "Third World-style government dysfunction that combines the original sin of an unspeakably cruel policy with the follow-on ineptitude of uncoordinated agencies unable to foresee the predictable consequences of their decisions -- in this case, the inevitability that children and parents, once sundered, would need at some point to be reconnected. Now, faced with the deadline for reuniting parents and children set June 26 by Judge Dana Sabraw of U.S. District Court in San Diego, hundreds of government employees were set to work through the weekend poring over records to fix what the Trump administration broke by its sudden and heedless proclamation in May of 'zero tolerance' for undocumented immigrants, and the family separations that immediately followed. [HHS Secretary Alex] Azar, following the White House's lead, insisted any 'confusion' was the fault of the courts and a 'broken immigration system.' In fact, the confusion was entirely of the administration's own making." ...

... Dave Philipps of the New York Times: "A growing number of foreign-born recruits who joined the United States military through a special program created to recruit immigrant troops with valuable language and medical skills are being terminated before they can qualify for citizenship. Lawyers for the recruits say at least 30 have been discharged in recent weeks and thousands more are stuck in limbo -- currently enlisted but unable to serve -- and may also be forced out. They are being cut even as the Army has been unable to meet its 2018 recruiting goals.... 'There's no explanation for this except xenophobia,' said Margaret D. Stock, a retired Army Reserve lieutenant colonel and immigration lawyer who helped create the program.... The layers of clearance have grown so complex that a backlog of several thousand cases has piled up. A Defense Department official testified in a recent deposition that it would take 10 years to clear those currently waiting to serve." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Matt Zapotosky & Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein "seems to be getting used to the constant controversy and criticism that comes from overseeing [Robert] Mueller. Rather than walking on eggshells, he's starting to fight back.... Those who know him say Rosenstein is playing the long game. He doesn't put too much stock in any single daily development, they say, but is mindful about what his place in history will be." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) in a Washington Post op-ed: "Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is under assault, and that is wrong.... As a party, we [Republicans] can't let the president or his allies erode the independence of the Justice Department or public trust in the vital work of law enforcement.... When Trump talks about firing the special counsel or his power to pardon himself, he makes it seem as though he has something to hide.... The special counsel's investigation is not about Trump. It is about our national security.... Congress must never abandon its role as an equal branch of government. In this moment, that means protecting Mueller's investigation." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Eric Tucker & Chad Day of the AP: "Lawyers for ... Donald Trump unleashed a blistering attack on former FBI Director James Comey in a confidential memo last year to the special counsel, casting him as 'Machiavellian,' dishonest and 'unbounded by law and regulation' as they sought to undermine the credibility of a law enforcement leader they see as a critical witness against the president. The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, provides a window into the formation of a legal strategy currently used by Trump's lawyers as they seek to pit the president's word against that of the former FBI director. Comey's firing in May 2017 helped set in motion the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, and one-on-one conversations with Trump that Comey documented in a series of memos helped form the basis of Mueller's inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... AP: Here are the texts "of two letters written by lawyers for ... Donald Trump regarding former FBI Director James Comey. One was sent to special counsel Robert Mueller, and the other was sent to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein."

Victoria Guida & Katy O'Donnell of Politico: "CFPB Deputy Director Leandra English will drop her months-long legal challenge to Mick Mulvaney for the leadership of the embattled agency, saying on Friday that she will leave the consumer watchdog early next week. In a statement, English said she was stepping down in light of ... Donald Trump's nomination of a permanent director, Kathy Kraninger, to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."

Maggie Haberman & Jonathan Martin of the New York Times: "Senator Mitch McConnell ... told President Trump this past week that Judges Raymond M. Kethledge and Thomas M. Hardiman presented the fewest obvious obstacles to being confirmed to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy on the Supreme Court, according to Republican officials briefed on the conversation. While careful not to directly make the case for any would-be justice, Mr. McConnell made clear in multiple phone calls with Mr. Trump and the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, that the lengthy paper trail of another top contender, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, would pose difficulties for his confirmation." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Apparently his decision to deprive President Obama the right to appoint a Supreme Court justice has emboldened Mitch to the point that he now thinks he can name the justice he prefers. Maybe we're going to find out that the Trump presidency is a massive charade & Mitch has been running the country all along. ...

... Darcy Costello of the Louisville Courier Journal: "A group of protesters confronted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ... in Louisville Saturday, calling out 'Abolish ICE.'... McConnell was out to lunch with Kentucky's outgoing House Majority Floor Leader Jonathan Shell, who was upset in his May primary. Shell ... call[ed] the protesters 'a small group of extremists.'... In [a video], someone asks McConnell, 'Where are the children? Where are the babies, Mitch?'... 'What are you doing to get the babies back?' someone asks in the clip. McConnell ... isn't shown reacting or responding to the protesters.... Before [McConnell] gets into the car, someone can be heard saying, 'We know where you live.' Shell called the remark a 'not-so-subtle threat right out of the Maxine Waters playbook,' adding that it was 'very distasteful.'" Mrs. McC: Whereas kidnapping babies is not "very distasteful," I guess. Includes video.

Elise Viebeck & Alice Crites of the Washington Post: "A seventh former Ohio State University wrestler said Saturday that he believes Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) knew about inappropriate behavior that allegedly took place in the school's athletic department three decades ago, as two more former team members came to Jordan's defense. David Range, who wrestled for Ohio State in the late 1980s, said Jordan had to have known about alleged sexual misconduct by Richard Strauss, an athletic doctor whose behavior is under investigation by the school, because it happened regularly to team members and people talked about it. Jordan has denied he knew, saw or heard about any inappropriate behavior while he was an assistant wrestling coach from 1987 to 1995. 'Jordan definitely knew that these things were happening -- yes, most definitely,' Range told The Washington Post. 'It was there. He knew about it because it was an everyday occurrence.'... He said Jordan was present during group conversations in the locker room about Strauss's behavior." ...

... Bob Brigham of the Raw Story: "House Republicans are refusing to publicly defend Tea Party firebrand Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) as more details come to light about the congressman's role in the Ohio State University sexual assault scandal." ...

... Sarah Westwood, et al., of CNN: "Rep. Mark Meadows, who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, called on members to support Jordan, an Ohio Republican who's one of the founders of the conservative voting bloc.... CNN reached out to the offices of conservative members -- including those in the Freedom Caucus -- on Friday and received only a few responses.... In the wider House Republican conference..., some say Jordan has few allies willing to defend him against the scandal. House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, has said he supports a full investigation of the allegations, and Jordan's office has confirmed he will cooperate with investigators. 'He's made a lot of enemies over the years. The knives are going to be out for Jim Jordan after these allegations,"'said a senior GOP congressional aide. "He has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way through his tactics with the Freedom Caucus. So don't expect a lot of goodwill towards him in this situation."

Congressional Race. Dan Merica of CNN: "A Republican congressional candidate in a Kansas race Democrats are targeting in November told an audience at a party meeting this month that 'outside of Western civilization there is only barbarism.' The comments from State Sen. Steve Fitzgerald, a candidate seeking the Republican nomination in the race to replace retiring Rep. Lynn Jenkins, came at a July 2 meeting of the Leavenworth County Republican Party. During his more-than-30-minute speech, Fitzgerald lamented the fact that people believe 'Western civilization is the problem,' argued that Christendom is 'under attack' and doubled down on his previous statement that Planned Parenthood is worse than a Nazi concentration camp." Mrs. McC: Oh, we know who the "real barbarian" is here.

Danielle Ohl of the (Annapolis, Maryland) Capital Gazette: "Janel Cooley, a survivor of the shooting that killed [Wendi] Winters and four others, said she watched from under her desk as [Winters, a] 20-year newspaper veteran, rose to meet her attacker. Winters charged forward holding a trash can and recycling bin, said Cooley, a sales consultant. Winters shouted something like, 'No! You stop that!' or 'You get out of here!'... Winters' colleagues agree she saved their lives. Of the 11 employees in the office during the attack, six survived."

Good Enough for Trump; Not for Northrup. A.C. Thompson & Ali Winston of ProPublica: "Defense contractor Northrop Grumman said it will investigate an employee identified as a member of a violent white supremacist group in a recent report by ProPublica and Frontline. The employee, Michael Miselis, a 29-year-old aerospace engineer, works at the company's facility in Redondo Beach, California, and holds a government-issued security clearance.... Outside of his professional life, Miselis belongs to the Rise Above Movement, a racist Southern California group whose members have physically attacked their political foes in at least four different cities.... ProPublica and Frontline were able to establish Miselis' membership in RAM and verify his role at the center of melees last year in Charlottesville, Virginia, and an earlier pro-Trump event in Berkeley, California.... Update...: One day after [the report] exposed ... Miselis..., company spokesman Tim Paynter told ProPublica and Frontline that Miselis 'is no longer an employee of Northrop Grumman.' Paynter did not say whether Miselis was fired or resigned from his position."

Beyond the Beltway

Toothless in Lexington. Deborah Yetter of the Lexington Courier Journal: "Two advocacy groups on Thursday called on the administration of Gov. Matt Bevin to ensure children and pregnant women are not affected by the state's abrupt decision to cut dental and vision benefits to nearly a half-million Kentuckians. The Kentucky Oral Health Coalition said in a statement it has received about a half-dozen reports directly from dentists that the cuts were resulting in 'denial of routine dental care of eligible children and pregnant women.' 'Though these populations were supposed to be protected from coverage changes, errors have meant that children who show up for a dental visit have been turned away with unmet dental needs unnecessarily,' the statement said."

Way Beyond

Carole Cadwalladr of the Guardian: "Brexit's biggest funder, Arron Banks, met the Russian ambassador at least 11 times in the run-up to the EU referendum and in the two months beyond, documents seen by the Observer suggest -- seven more times than he has admitted. The same documents suggest the Russian embassy extended a further four invitations but it is not known if they were accepted. It is the third time the number of such meetings has been revised upwards. For two years, Banks insisted his only contacts with the Russian government consisted of one 'boozy lunch' with the ambassador. After the Observer revealed a month ago that he had had multiple meetings at which he had been offered lucrative business deals, Banks told a parliamentary inquiry into fake news he had had 'two or three' meetings. Last week, when pressed by the New York Times, he admitted a fourth meeting."

News Ledes

Weather Channel: "Data from a hurricane hunter flight investigating Chris early Sunday found sustained winds had increased to tropical storm strength (40+ mph), allowing this system to be upgraded from Tropical Depression Three to Tropical Storm Chris. Additional intensification is likely over the next few days, and Chris could become a hurricane as early as Monday. Chris will remain stalled off the Carolina coastline the next few days. High surf and dangerous rip currents are expected along parts of the Carolina and mid-Atlantic coasts through early week."

Reuters: "The death toll from torrential rain and landslides in western Japan rose to 81 people on Sunday, with dozens still missing after more than 2,000, temporarily stranded in the city of Kurashiki, were rescued. Evacuation orders were in place for nearly 2 million people and landslide warnings were issued in many prefectures. In hard-hit western Japan, emergency services and military personnel used helicopters and boats to rescue people from swollen rivers and buildings, including a hospital."

New York Times: "After a temperate early summer and a balmy Fourth of July, Southern California residents abruptly found themselves in a caldron of triple-digit temperatures and wildfires this weekend. Firefighters across the region battled several blazes through the night Friday into Saturday, as an unseasonable heat wave set records in some places and knocked out power to tens of thousands of homes in Los Angeles." ...

... The Los Angeles Times currently has links on its front page to a number of stories about specific fires.

Guardian: Operations are underway to save Thai soccer players and their coach trapped in an underwater cave. The Guardian is liveblogging developments.... Four of the boys have been rescued from the Tham Luang caves in Chiang Rai province, with nine people still trapped underground. All four boys safely reached a hospital in Chiang Rai, the nearest major city. The operation is scheduled to resume at around 8am local time (0200 BST) with officials and volunteers buoyed by the success of their chosen method. ...

... New York Times updates are here.

Friday
Jul062018

The Commentariat -- July 7, 2018

Afternoon Update:

That Went Well. Gardiner Harris & Choe Sang-Hun of the New York Times: "North Korea accused the Trump administration on Saturday of pushing a 'unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization' and called it 'deeply regrettable,' hours after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said his two days of talks in the North Korean capital were 'productive.' Despite the criticism, North Korea's Foreign Ministry said the country's leader, Kim Jong-un, still wanted to build on the 'friendly relationship and trust' forged with President Trump during their summit meeting in Singapore on June 12. The ministry said Mr. Kim had writte a personal letter to Mr. Trump, reiterating that trust."

Dave Philipps of the New York Times: "A growing number of foreign-born recruits who joined the United States military through a special program created to recruit immigrant troops with valuable language and medical skills are being terminated before they can qualify for citizenship. Lawyers for the recruits say at least 30 have been discharged in recent weeks and thousands more are stuck in limbo -- currently enlisted but unable to serve -- and may also be forced out. They are being cut even as the Army has been unable to meet its 2018 recruiting goals.... 'There's no explanation for this except xenophobia,' said Margaret D Stock, a retired Army Reserve lieutenant colonel and immigration lawyer who helped create the program.... The layers of clearance have grown so complex that a backlog of several thousand cases has piled up. A Defense Department official testified in a recent deposition that it would take 10 years to clear those currently waiting to serve."

Matt Zapotosky & Karoun Demirjian of the Washington Post: Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein "seems to be getting used to the constant controversy and criticism that comes from overseeing [Robert] Mueller. Rather than walking on eggshells, he's starting to fight back.... Those who know him say Rosenstein is playing the long game. He doesn't put too much stock in any single daily development, they say, but is mindful about what his place in history will be." ...

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) in a Washington Post op-ed: "Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is under assault, and that is wrong.... As a party, we [Republicans] can't let the president or his allies erode the independence of the Justice Department or public trust in the vital work of law enforcement.... When Trump talks about firing the special counsel or his power to pardon himself, he makes it seem as though he has something to hide.... The special counsel's investigation is not about Trump. It is about our national security.... Congress must never abandon its role as an equal branch of government. In this moment, that means protecting Mueller's investigation."

... Eric Tucker & Chad Day of the AP: "Lawyers for ... Donald Trump unleashed a blistering attack on former FBI Director James Comey in a confidential memo last year to the special counsel, casting him as 'Machiavellian,' dishonest and 'unbounded by law and regulation' as they sought to undermine the credibility of a law enforcement leader they see as a critical witness against the president. The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, provides a window into the formation of a legal strategy currently used by Trump's lawyers as they seek to pit the president's word against that of the former FBI director. Comey's firing in May 2017 helped set in motion the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, and one-on-one conversations with Trump that Comey documented in a series of memos helped form the basis of Mueller's inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice."

*****

Michael Schmidt & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "President Trump's lawyers set new conditions on Friday on an interview with the special counsel and said that the chances that the president would be voluntarily questioned were growing increasingly unlikely. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, needs to prove before Mr. Trump would agree to an interview that he has evidence that Mr. Trump committed a crime and that his testimony is essential to completing the investigation, said Rudolph W. Giuliani, the president's lead lawyer in the case. His declaration was the latest sign that the president's lawyers, who long cooperated quietly with the inquiry even as their client attacked it, have shifted to an openly combative stance. Mr. Giuliani acknowledged that Mr. Mueller was unlikely to agree to the interview demands." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Why is it I doubt Bob Mueller is falling for this moving-goal-posts feint?

Katelyn Polantz of CNN: "Prosecutors for special counsel Robert Mueller intend to present evidence at the trial of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort that a banking executive allegedly helped Manafort obtain loans of approximately $16 million while the banker sought a role in the Trump campaign.... Until now, there had been no indication that his role in the Trump campaign would become part of the trial, and he had asked the judge to keep details about his ties to ... Donald Trump out of the trial. Prosecutors say any alleged collusion with the Russian government won't come up at the trial. The allegation of a possible quid pro quo came amid several court filings Friday.... The bank executive 'expressed interest in working on the Trump campaign, told (Manafort) about his interest, and eventually secured a position advising the Trump campaign,' the filing said. The unnamed man 'expressed an interest in serving in the administration of President Trump, but did not secure such a position.'" ...

... Josh Gerstein of Politico: "Lawyers for ... Paul Manafort have asked that his trial on bank and tax fraud charges set to open later this month in Alexandria, Virginia, be moved to Roanoke and put off until after another trial Manafort faces later this year in Washington.... 'Nowhere in the country is the bias against Mr. Manafort more apparent than here in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area,' defense lawyers wrote.... In a filing Friday evening, Manafort's lawyers ... complained that their client's jailing at such a distance from Washington has impaired their ability to prepare for a trial that is less than three weeks away." ...

... Adam Raymond of New York: "Paul Manafort is being kept in solitary confinement in a Virginia jail in order to 'guarantee his safety,' his lawyer said in court documents filed this week. 'He is locked in his cell for at least 23 hours per day (excluding visits from his attorneys),' defense attorney Kevin Downing wrote. In a brief filed Thursday, Downing wrote that Manafort is unable to adequately prepare for his two upcoming trails, the first of which starts later this month, while locked up.... [Robert] Mueller's team ... wrote that Manafort does not deserve special treatment since the limitations he's facing 'are common to defendants incarcerated pending trial.'"

Andrew Prokop of Vox: "The sprawling saga of Michael Cohen's hush money payoffs has taken another bizarre turn. Shera Bechard, a former Playboy model who Cohen had arranged a payoff for in exchange for her silence about a sex scandal last year, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Friday. Though Bechard's complaint is currently sealed, the Wall Street Journal's Michael Rothfeld and Joe Palazzolo report she is suing three people for alleged breach of contract. First there's Elliott Broidy, the wealthy Trump donor who had made the payments to Bechard. Second is Keith Davidson, the former lawyer for Bechard (and Stormy Daniels, and Karen McDougal) who had negotiated that and other hush money deals with Cohen. Third is Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels's new lawyer, who is trying to get Daniels's nondisclosure agreement struck down.... All of this would merely be a strange and tawdry side story in the many scandals of Michael Cohen -- if not for rampant speculation among liberals that it may have been Donald Trump, and not Elliott Broidy, who had the affair with Bechard."


Marty Graham
of Reuters: "The U.S. government must provide a list by Saturday evening of the estimated 100 children under the age of 5 who were separated from their parents when entering the United States, a federal judge ordered on Friday. U.S. Judge Dana Sabraw also ordered the government to explain by Saturday its expectation for reuniting each of those children with their parents by the end of Tuesday. Sabraw last month issued the reunification order, which also set a July 26 deadline for more than 2,000 children to be reunited. The U.S. government attorneys said they may fail to meet those deadlines due to delays in confirming family relationships, but Sabraw declined to extend them without more information." ...

... Maria Sacchetti of the Washington Post: "The Trump administration will not fully meet a federal judge's deadline to reunite all migrant families separated at the U.S.-Mexico border, and instead is seeking more time in instances where officials are struggling to match children to parents, according to court records filed late Thursday. The government's request, hours before a scheduled hearing on the issue Friday, marks an abrupt departure from comments made earlier Thursday from President Trump's secretary for Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, whose agency cares for the children in shelters. He had said the Trump administration 'will comply' with the deadlines, though he criticized the judge's timetable as 'extreme.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

** "... PBS NewsHour's Lisa Desjardins shares chilling first-hand accounts of family separations at the border." Mrs. McC: I stand corrected. Worse than criminal negligience. Depraved indifference, at best. We lock up people who do this to children. ...

... Jacqueline Thomsen of the Hill: "Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) said Friday that Trump administration officials have told him and his staff that they view placing separated migrant children in foster care as an equivalent to reuniting them with their families. 'The secretary told us on a conference call they do not have an intention to reunify these children with their parents,' Inslee said on MSNBC's 'All in With Chris Hayes.'... 'They're going to call it good if they can find anybody else who can serve as a foster parent or anybody else who can serve as familial relationship, and these kids don't even know these strangers,' he continued." Inslee & five other Democratic governors -- Andrew Cuomo (New York), Dannel Malloy (Connecticut), Tom Wolf (Pennsylvania), Phil Murphy (New Jersey) and Kate Brown (Oregon) -- sent a letter to administration officials complaining about the inadequate effort to reunite families -- one that appears to "blatantly ignore the terms of [a] court order." ...

... "Whatever." Aura Bogado, et al., of Reveal News: "A major U.S. defense contractor quietly detaineddozens of immigrant children inside a vacant Phoenix office building with dark windows, no kitchen and only a few toilets during three weeks of the Trump administration's family separation effort, Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting has learned.... The building is not licensed by Arizona to hold children, and the contractor, MVM Inc., has claimed publicly that it does not operate 'shelters or any other type of housing' for children. Defending the administration's policy to separate families at the border in a May interview with NPR, White House chief of staff John Kelly promised: 'The children will be taken care of -- put into foster care or whatever.'... That 'whatever' for them was the vacant building tucked away in a midtown Phoenix neighborhood." ...

... David Atkins in the Washington Monthly: on how the U.S. has treated detained immigrant children: "The children were kept in often horrific conditions -- one child was apparently unbathed for 85 days and infested with lice, while others were bound to chairs naked in cold cells -- as their parents were unceremoniously shipped away with no knowledge of where their children were or when, if ever, they would see them again. In some cases Trump administration cronies like Betsy Devos with conservative religious adoption businesses and organizations have been profiting by housing the stolen children. As the Trump administration, facing withering public condemnation and judicial demands, begins to comply with court orders to reunite the families, it's not clear at this point that they're capable of complying in many cases even if they wanted to. Worse, these horrors are not born of incompetence or even mere callous insouciance. They are an intentional act of political terror by our government, perpetrated against some of the most vulnerable and desperate people in the world for purely racist reasons." ...

... Andrew Desiderio of the Daily Beast: "Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) was denied entry on Friday into a government facility [in Homestead, Florida,] housing unaccompanied immigrant minors and children who had been separated from their parents at the southern border.... According to Curbelo's office, the congressman followed the proper protocols with the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the facilities, prior to his scheduled tour." But at the last minute, after a more than two-week process, HHS said it was too busy to "give him a tour.... Around 1,000 children are being housed [in the Homestead facility].... 'If your operation is so sensitive and delicate that an elected leader walking through your facility and asking a few questions disrupts your work, then you have a bigger problem,' [Curbelo] said." ...

** Rob Cuthbert in a New York Times op-ed: "This month is the 70th anniversary of President Harry Truman's executive order to end discrimination in the military according to 'race, color, religion or national origin.'... Yet in recent weeks, President Trump has shown that the military can also be manipulated to serve a nativist agenda. The Department of Defense has unconscionably committed to assisting in the prosecution and interment of asylum seekers. And, over the past few months, Mr. Trump and the civilian leadership of the military have begun to demolish an honorable path to citizenship for immigrants in our armed services.... Congress must take the initiative to protect the thousands of immigrants who serve in our military from this xenophobic commander in chief."

** Annie Snider of Politico: "The Trump administration is suppressing an Environmental Protection Agency report that warns that most Americans inhale enough formaldehyde vapor in the course of daily life to put them at risk of developing leukemia and other ailments, a current and a former agency official told Politico. The warnings are contained in a draft health assessment EPA scientists completed just before Donald Trump became president, according to the officials. They said top advisers to departing Administrator Scott Pruitt are delaying its release as part of a campaign to undermine the agency's independent research into the health risks of toxic chemicals. Andrew Wheeler, the No. 2 official at EPA who will be the agency's new acting chief as of Monday..., was staff director for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in 2004, when his boss, then-Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), sought to delay an earlier iteration of the formaldehyde assessment.... As long ago as January, Pruitt told a Senate panel that he believed the draft assessment was complete. Five months later, it has yet to see the light of day." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Peter Walker of the Guardian: "Donald Trump will almost entirely avoid London during his four-day visit to the UK next week, Downing Street has said, unveiling an itinerary that is likely to prompt accusations he is trying to avoid planned protests against him.... Trump, who is to meet Theresa May and the Queen among others before spending two days in Scotland, will only spend the night in London on Thursday, the day of his arrival, staying at the US ambassador's official residence in Regent's Park, Winfield House. Before that he will attend a gala dinner at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, and the following day he will hold talks with the prime minister at her Chequers country retreat in Buckinghamshire. Both are places where protesters can be kept out of sight and earshot. Later on the Friday he will meet the Queen at Windsor Castle before heading to Scotland for the weekend." Mrs. McC: Sure hope he gets to see Blimpy Baby Trump (story linked yesterday). (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Arris Folley of the Hill: "CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin on Friday slammed President Trump for his attacks on Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), calling them 'racist.' During a rally in Montana on Thursday night, Trump called Waters a 'low-IQ individual,' which is a description the president has used many times in reference to the congresswoman. The president also speculated Waters's IQ was 'somewhere in the mid-60s,' though the average IQ is 85-114. 'How about this Maxine Waters stuff over and over again?' Toobin said in reference to Trump's remarks on CNN. '"Low IQ." How racist is that? ... How many black people does the president have to attack in these terms?...' Toobin continued."

Chris Cillizza notes some of the men Donald Trump believes over their accusers: Jim Jordan, Roy Moore, Rob Porter, Rogers Ailes & Bill O'Reilly. (Al Franken, not so much.) "It doesn't take a genius to diagnose a severe case of situational ethics in Trump." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

She'll Fit Right in. Caleb Ecarma of Mediaite: "The wife of Bill Shine -- former Fox News co-president who just joined the Trump administration as White House communications chief -- has a lengthy history of defending racists, promoting unfounded anti-vaccination conspiracies, writing about 'Islamic Insanity,' and making racially-charged remarks on her social media pages. Darla Shine made these remarks primarily on her Twitter account, @darlashine, which was deleted as soon as the White House announced that her husband was officially joining the Trump administration." Ecarma cites numerous disgusting examples of Darla's "thoughts."

Scotty's Last Hurrah (Will Kill Us). Eric Lipton of the New York Times: "In the final hours of Scott Pruitt's tenure as administrator, the Environmental Protection Agency moved on Friday to effectively grant a loophole that will allow a major increase in the manufacturing of a diesel freight truck that produces as much as 55 times the air pollution as trucks that have modern emissions controls. The move by the E.P.A. came after intense lobbying by a small set of manufacturers that sell glider trucks, which use old engines built before new technologies significantly reduced emissions of particulates and nitrogen oxide that are blamed for asthma, lung cancer and other ailments." Mrs. McCrabbie: There is absolutely no excuse for this. None.

Rachel Bade & John Bresnahan of Politico: "A half-dozen ex-wrestlers told Politico they were regularly harassed in their training facility by sexually aggressive men who attended the university or worked there. The voyeurs would masturbate while watching the wrestlers shower or sit in the sauna, or engage in sexual acts in the areas where the athletes trained, the former wrestlers said.... Though none of the wrestlers and coaches interviewed blamed [Rep. Jim] Jordan for the inappropriate behavior they experienced..., they said he would have had to know about it. One former wrestler told Politico he saw Jordan yell at male voyeurs to get out of the sauna, though Jordan's office refuted this account.... Multiple former wrestlers have accused Jordan ... of being among the faculty members who turned a blind eye to inappropriate behavior by the late Richard Strauss, the university's former athletic doctor." ...

... Accusations Against Jordan Are Rosenstein's Fault. Catie Edmundson of the New York Times: Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Vicious) "was defiant Friday night on Fox News.... He disparaged some of the former college wrestlers who have come forward to say he knew of allegations that the team doctor, Richard H. Strauss, had fondled them. He said he could not explain why other more friendly wrestlers had leveled similar charges.president.... Mr. Jordan continued to fan conspiracy theories connecting the emergence of the charges to his aggressive questioning last month of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, the man many Trump supporters hold responsible for the Russia investigation. 'I think the timing is suspect when you think about how this whole story came together after the Rosenstein hearing and the speaker's race,' he said.... Some of his backers have suggested that Mr. Jordan's accusers are also part of a 'deep state' conspiracy to derail his political future.... His supporters have tried to amass evidence of that conspiracy. One of the leading talking points, which Mr. Jordan referenced on Friday night, is the choice of the investigative law firm retained by Ohio State in the Strauss matter. The firm, Perkins Coie, worked for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and helped to pay for a dossier of unconfirmed accusations linking the Trump campaign to Russian intelligence." ...

     ... Dear Mr. Rosenstein: Congratulations! You have replaced President Obama as The Source of All Evil. I'm sure it's not because you're Jewish. Is that Rosen-STINE or Rosen-STEEN? -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie ...

... William Saletan of Slate outlines the rules for evaluating malfeasance -- with ample examples -- that Jim Jordan applies to officials he is attacking. "1. You're responsible for what happens on your watch.... 2. You're responsible for monitoring the people around you.... 3. It's immoral to remain silent about the truth of an accusation.... 4. Any incomplete disclosure is malicious and corrupt.... 5. Any delay in disclosure is deliberate concealment.... 6. The penalty for these offenses should be prosecution or termination.... In every way, Jordan's conduct [re: the wresting scandal] violates the standards he applies to Comey, Mueller, Rosenstein, and Sessions. He ducked responsibility for offenses that occurred when he was, in effect, the deputy director of the OSU wrestling program. He claims to have known nothing about Strauss' locker-room behavior, even though Strauss' locker was next to his. And for months, despite explicit reports from Strauss' victims, Jordan has kept silent, asking them not to involve him in the story.... [Jordan] insists that such a person should be prosecuted, charged, or forced from office. That is the justice he must now face."

Zoe Tillman of BuzzFeed: "The US Attorney's Office in Washington, DC, announced Friday that it is dismissing charges against the remaining defendants charged in connection with anti-Trump demonstrations on Inauguration Day. The dismissals conclude more than a year and a half of litigation over prosecutions that the defendants, their lawyers, and free speech advocates said represented overreach by the government, warning that they would chill First Amendment-protected activity going forward under the Trump administration. Police charged 234 people after making mass arrests in downtown Washington on Jan. 20, 2017. Twenty-one people pleaded guilty -- one person was sentenced to jail time after pleading guilty to a felony charge. The final dismissal notice Friday came after several trials in which prosecutors were unable to secure any convictions -- defendants were either acquitted or jurors failed to reach a verdict." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: No doubt this is because the DOJ is too busy framing that nice Jim Jordan to devote any more time to picking on Trump protesters.

Congressional Races

Julia Jacobs of the New York Times: "A Republican congressional candidate in a reliably blue California district managed to capture nearly a quarter of votes cast in the state's open primary last month -- just after the state Republican Party caught wind of his anti-Semitic comments and rescinded its automatic endorsement. The candidate, John Fitzgerald, urged people on his campaign website to pay attention to 'Jewish supremacism,' among other anti-Semitic views, which led party leaders to rescind their support in May, about two months after the official endorsement.... Mr. Fitzgerald received 23 percent of the vote to finish second in the 11th Congressional District's June primary, which is open to all candidates regardless of party and allows the top two finishers to qualify for the general election. He is running against Representative Mark DeSaulnier, a Democrat...."

Nathan McDermott of CNN: "A Democrat from Wisconsin running to replace House Speaker Paul Ryan in Congress was arrested and pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated in 1998, in addition to eight other arrests, according to documents obtained by CNN. Two of Randy Bryce's arrests were more recent -- in 2011 and 2018 -- while protesting the policies of Ryan and Wisconsin's GOP Sen. Ron Johnson, but the majority of Bryce's arrests stem from a single incident of driving under the influence, including three times for driving with a suspended license.... Bryce is facing Janesville School Board member Cathy Myers in a Democratic primary on August 14."


Eric Levitz
of New York: "... most Americans' wages aren't getting any better, at all. Over the past 12 months, piddling wage gains -- combined with modest inflation -- have left the vast majority of our nation's laborers with lower real hourly earnings than they had in May 2017.... A new report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) offers a ... straightforward -- and political -- explanation: American policymakers have chosen to design an economic system that leaves workers desperate and disempowered, for the sake of directing a higher share of economic growth to bosses and shareholders. The OECD ... report lays waste to the idea that the plight of the American worker can be chalked up to impersonal economic forces, instead of concrete political decisions.... The U.S. [has] a higher 'low-income rate' than any other developed nation besides Greece and Spain.... Not only do Americans get fired more than other workers; we also get less warning.... Our government does less for us when we're out of work than just about anyone else's.... Labor's share of income has been falling faster in the U.S. than almost anywhere else."

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. -- Declaration of Independence, one of the "repeated injuries and usurpations" committed by King George ...

... Facebook Sorry It Banned Declaration of Independence as Hate Speech. Rachel Sandler of Business Insider (July 5): "In yet another viral case of Facebook struggling to police hate speech on its platform, parts of the Declaration of Independence posted by a newspaper in Texas were taken down earlier this week after the social media giant flagged the excerpts as hate speech.... The Vindicator, a small community newspaper in Liberty County, Texas, started posting excerpts of the Declaration of Independence earlier this week leading up to the Fourth of July. While the newspaper was able to post the majority of the Declaration of Independence without any issue, one post contained the phrase 'Indian Savages,' which, out of context would appear to violate Facebook's community standards.... After The Vindicator's editors published a story about it ... and notified Facebook, the company restored the post and apologized."