The Wires

Public Service Announcement

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday
Aug092019

The Commentariat -- August 10, 2019

Afternoon Update:

I was appalled to learn that Jeffrey Epstein was found dead early this morning from an apparent suicide while in federal custody. Mr. Epstein's death raises serious questions that must be answered. In addition to the FBI's investigation, I have consulted with the Inspector General who is opening an investigation into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein's death. -- William Barr, full statement, Saturday ...

... James McKinley & Ali Watkins of the New York Times: "Like all federal prisons, the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan has a suicide prevention program designed for inmates who are at risk of taking their own lives. After an apparent attempt three weeks ago, Jeffrey Epstein -- the financier who was at the facility awaiting trial on charges he sexually abused dozens of girls -- was a prime candidate.Yet Mr. Epstein, 66, was not on suicide watch when he hanged himself and his body was found in his cell early on Saturday, raising questions about the steps officials took after the first incident to keep him from harming himself. Attorney General William P. Barr said in a statement that he had asked the inspector general for the Justice Department to open an investigation' into the circumstances of Mr. Epstein's death.'... One federal prison official with knowledge of the incident said Mr. Epstein had been taken off suicide watch a few days ago, and was being held alone in a cell in a special housing unit." ...

     ... A related NBC News story is here. ...

... This Is Unbelievable. Dan Spinelli of Mother Jones: "... Lynne Patton, regional administrator at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, had [an] idea of what happened [to Epstein]. 'Hillary'd!!' she posted on Instagram around 10 a.m., alongside a screenshot of a Daily Mail story that described Epstein's manner of death. She added the hashtag, '#VinceFosterPartTwo,' a reference to the former Clinton aide whose death by suicide has fueled conspiracy theories for more than two decades. Patton, one of the highest-ranking officials at HUD, was not alone in seizing on conspiracy theories. Within hours of Epstein's death, 'Clintons' and 'ClintonBodyCount' were among the highest-trending topics on Twitter." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Patton, you may recall, previously worked for what I'm sure is a wonderful organization: the Eric Trump Foundation. She also was Eric's party planner & reportedly suffered from substance abuse & addition while working for him. Although she had no housing experience whatsoever, Trump appointed her to a HUD job, which she so badly flubbed that Ole Doc Carson promoted her to head up HUD's Region 2. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) used her as a prop during Michael Cohen's public House hearing as living proof that Trump can't possibly be a racist. Ole Doc should fire her right now.

Trump Rattles Sabre. David Jackson of USA Today: "... Donald Trump threatened undefined retaliation Friday against countries and organizations that issue travel warnings on the United States because of gun violence. 'If they did that, we'd just reciprocate,' Trump said during a wide-ranging impromptu gaggle with reporters at the White House, en route to fundraisers in New York. He added: 'We are a very reciprocal nation with me as the head. When somebody does something negative to us in terms of a country, we do it to them.' Amnesty International and a growing list of countries have begun issuing warnings about travel to the United States because of gun violence, including mass shootings over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio."

~~~~~~~~~~

William Rashbaum & Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times: "Jeffrey Epstein, the financier indicted on sex trafficking charges last month, committed suicide at a Manhattan jail, officials said on Saturday. Mr. Epstein hanged himself and his body was found this morning at Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan at roughly 7:30. Manhattan federal prosecutors last month charged Mr. Epstein, 66, with sex trafficking of girls as young as 14, and details of his behavior have been emerging for years.... Last month, a week after being denied bail, Mr. Epstein was found unconscious in his cell at the jail in Manhattan with marks on his neck, and prison officials were investigating the incident as a possible suicide attempt." The NBC News story is here.

** POTUS* Says Torturing Children Is "a Very Good Deterrent." Maegan Vazquez of CNN: "... Donald Trump on Friday defended recent, large-scale raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and the way the agency dealt with children of the immigrants who were detained. Asked Friday why there wasn't a better plan in place to deal with the children after their parent's arrest, Trump told reporters outside the White House south lawn, 'You have to go in, you can't let anybody know.'... Trump said the raids served as a 'very good deterrent' for undocumented immigrants. 'I want people to know that if they come into the United States illegally, they're getting out,' Trump said Friday. 'They're going to be brought out. And this serves as a very good deterrent.'" Mrs. McC: MEANWHILE, in Ravenna, Italy, Dante rolled over, hopped out of his tomb & knocked out a few cantos describing the Tenth Circle of Hell.

If you're a good worker, papers don't matter. -- Jorge Castro, undocumented worker on Trump construction projects until April 2019 ...

... Joshua Partlow & David Fahrenthold of the Washington Post: "For nearly two decades, the Trump Organization has relied on a roving crew of Latin American employees to build fountains and waterfalls, sidewalks and rock walls at the company's winery and its golf courses from New York to Florida.... For years, their ranks have included workers who entered the United States illegally, according to two former members of the crew. Another employee, still with the company, said that remains true today.... The hiring practices of the little-known Trump business unit are the latest example of the chasm between the president's derisive rhetoric about immigrants and his company's long-standing reliance on workers who cross the border illegally." Mediaite has a summary of the Post story here.

John Wagner & Seung Min Kim of the Washington Post: "President Trump on Friday claimed strong congressional support for strengthening background checks for gun buyers, offering an optimistic assessment for passing new legislation that was at odds with public statements from Senate Republicans. 'I think we can do very meaningful background checks,' Trump told reporters shortly before departing for campaign fundraisers in New York. 'I think Republicans are going to be great and lead the charge along with the Democrats.' Trump said that he had spoken with congressional leaders from both parties and asserted that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is 'totally on board' with his plans to keep 'sick and demented people' from buying guns. In response, a McConnell spokesman said that he had not endorsed any legislation at this point." The NBC News story, by Adam Edelman, is here. ...

... Quint Forgey of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Friday acknowledged he has spoken in recent days with National Rifle Association officials to ensure the powerful firearm lobby's interests are 'fully represented and respected' in negotiations on gun reform legislation following two mass shootings over the weekend.... Trump called [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi ... Thursday to discuss the universal background check bill, and also spoke with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). 'The President gave us his assurances that he would review the bipartisan House-passed legislation and understood our interest in moving as quickly as possible to help save lives,' Pelosi and Schumer said in a joint statement." ...

... He Was For It Before He Was Against It Before He Was For It Before He Was Against It Before He Was For It. Michael Shear, et al., of the New York Times: After flipflopping during the 2016 campaign on his previous support for background checks, "Mr. Trump changed his mind again in 2018 after the high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., insisting that stronger checks would be 'fully backed' by the White House. But that position only lasted a few days, until a late-night meeting with the National Rifle Association in the Oval Office, after which he backed off his support and later threatened to veto a background check bill.... The president's long history on the gun issue raises questions about his real commitment to legislation that would improve the background check system and close [gun-show] loopholes...." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: All politicians change their minds or at least their publicly-stated positions on important issues in the interest of political expediency. In 1996, Barack Obama wrote that he favored same-sex marriage, but said he opposed it in 2008 when he was running for president. Then in 2012 Joe Biden said he was "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex marriage, forcing Obama to flipflop again. Obama's 2008 flipflop was hardly a profile in courage, but it was a relatively rare case of his changing his position on an important policy matter. Trump, on the other hand, flipflops like a gymnast practicing for the Olympics on matters large & small. And he never acknowledges his reversals. He is the most unreliable, untrustworthy president* in U.S. history.

Josh Israel of ThinkProgress: "Angry constituents of Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) flooded his town hall meeting in North Salt Lake on Wednesday, demanding to know what he plans to do to stop mass shootings and white nationalist terrorism.... When an ... attendee suggested that condemning racism and violence should include condemning a president whose racism is inciting white supremacist violence, the Utah Republican replied that Trump should not be accountable as long as he doesn't commit racist violence himself. 'The president of the United States, as far as I know, hasn't shot anyone,' Stewart answered. Another constituent shouted back that 'Charles Manson never shot anybody either,' referencing a convicted cult leader whose followers did most of the murdering on his behalf." --s

Katie Rogers, et al., of the New York Times: "By the time President Trump arrived in El Paso on Wednesday, on the second leg of a trip to meet with people affected by mass shootings in two cities, he was frustrated that his attacks on his political adversaries had resulted in more coverage than the cheery reception he received at a hospital in Dayton, Ohio, the first stop on his trip. So he screamed at his aides to begin producing proof that in El Paso people were happy to see him.... When he does something that he believes he should have been praised for -- such as Wednesday's visits to the cities -- he grows furious when he does not receive accolades." The whole story is worth reading. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I'm sure I would quit any job where my boss "screamed at" me. But what's more important in the report is how Trump expects to "receive accolades" for doing a piss-poor job at consoling victims who are supposed to be the VIPs in the visit. He doesn't care a whit about them. He just wants the press to glorify him for talking about crowd size & giving a wholly-inappropriate thumbs-up in a photo with an orphaned infant. He's not even looking at the baby; he's looking at the cameras. Have you ever consoled someone who's suffered a loss with the idea you'll "receive accolades"? Of course not. You do it because you have real compassion for the bereaved person. Trump is a monster. ...

... Dahlia Lithwick of Slate: "The cherry bomb on top [of Trump's visit to Dayton & El Paso] was a photo from first lady Melania Trump's Twitter account that appeared to feature a grinning president with a 2-month-old infant who was orphaned during the El Paso shooting.... That's the president, grinning and giving a thumbs-up, as the orphaned child is held out like a trophy. If words weren't inclined to fail, ghoulish and surreal might serve. This child has no parents because a shooter spouting Trumpist talking points about foreign 'invaders' went to El Paso to kill them. And while the president refused to speak to reporters, who were scolded by the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, in a statement saying that the visits were all 'about the victims' and not a 'photo op,' hours later, Trump released a campaign-style video of his triumphal comforting tour. The baby's parents were both killed trying to protect him.... It appears baby Paul was brought back to the hospital by White House staff for the photo-op." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: One of the biggest lies Trump told during the 2016 campaign was, "I'm going to be so presidential...." ...

David Li of NBC News: "The man accused of gunning down 22 people at an El Paso Walmart last week confessed to the grisly crime and admitted he was targeting people of Mexican descent, according to unsealed court documents Friday. Texas Rangers, responding to the scene in an unmarked car, came up to a vehicle in the left-hand turn lane at an intersection when the suspect surrendered, according to the arrest warrant written by El Paso police Det. Adrian Garcia. 'Agents and police officers at the intersection then observed a male person (defendant) to exit out of the vehicle with his hands raised in the air and stated out loud to the agents "I'm the shooter,"' Garcia wrote." Article includes photo.

Tom Winter & Dennis Romero of NBC News: "A 23-year-old Las Vegas man who allegedly wanted to attack Jews and patrons of an LGBTQ bar was arrested on suspicion of possessing parts to make a bomb, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Nevada said Friday. Conor Climo, who was arrested Thursday, was connected to white supremacists though encrypted online conversations, federal prosecutors said.... After Climo's arrest, FBI agents said he told them he had acquired electronic components to build a bomb and that he wanted to mobilize an eight-man sniper platoon to shoot Jewish people either at a Las Vegas synagogue or some other location. According to charging documents, an FBI bomb technician found bomb-making components and chemical compounds in Climo's bedroom. Federal agents said they also seized an AR-15 style rifle and a bolt-action rifle from the room." Emphasis added.

Chris Sommerfeldt of the New York Daily News: "An Ohio man was slammed with criminal charges Friday for threatening New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and stockpiling illegal ammunition in his home, according to prosecutors. Federal agents raided Tim Ireland's Toledo home on Thursday and arrested him after learning he had posted on Facebook that Ocasio-Cortez 'should be shot,' prosecutors said. 'My employer would load the gun for me,' Ireland posted, according to court records. During the raid, feds found several rounds of illegal ammunition in Ireland's home, prosecutors said.... Before Ireland's arrest, a federal agent had called him and asked about the inflammatory Facebook post about Ocasio-Cortez, according to records. 'Ireland stated he was very proud of that post he made,' the agent wrote in an affidavit."

Kevin Poulsen of The Daily Beast: "Refugees from the anonymous 8chan forum are flooding into a new censorship-resistant home on the dark web, and inadvertently giving up their anonymity along the way.... The new site, called 08chan (with a leading zero) [set up as a difficult to trace 'peer-to-peer' network], has no affiliation with the original and it's not entirely clear who set it up, but 8chan's diaspora have been flooding in as word of the site spreads through right-wing social media.... There's just one catch. Peer-to-peer networks expose a user's internet address to anyone who cares to look. That's how copyright lawyers catch people trading movies, music and software, and it's how police and FBI agents arrest pedophiles trading child porn online.... [O]nly 41 percent of 08chan's users are using Tor [a program to mask their servers], based on our analysis of the peer-to-peer traffic at the site." --s

Jordan Uhl of Media Matters: “Tucker Carlson's nightly ad load has undergone a seismic shift just days after declaring white supremacy is 'actually not a real problem in America,' and that the idea it is a problem is 'a hoax' and 'conspiracy theory used to divide the country.'... The number of paid ads has drastically plummeted in the last week.... Despite leaving on an abrupt and suspiciously timed vacation -- a commonly used tactic by Fox to deter advertisers from dropping shows after a host says something particularly egregious -- Carlson has continued to lose advertisers. SteinMart, HelloFresh, and Nestle have all severed ties with Tucker Carlson Tonight, and the fast food chain Long John Silver's not only dropped advertising from his show but from Fox News as a whole."

Donnie, the Dictator's Dupe. Rishika Dugyala of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Friday said he received a "beautiful letter" from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, hours before the regime launched further projectiles as a warning against joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea. 'I think we'll have another meeting,' Trump told reporters outside the White House. 'He really wrote a beautiful three-page -- I mean right from top to bottom -- a really beautiful letter. And maybe I'll release the results of the letter, but it was very positive.' North Korea had five rounds of weapons demonstrations in the past two weeks -- including another launch of two projectiles Saturday local time, according to South Korea. Trump had dismissed the previous tests, saying they were just for short-range missiles. He added that Kim wrote in the 'very personal letter' that he is not happy with the U.S.-South Korea joint exercises."

D. Parvaz of ThinkProgress: "A new report released by the Pentagon this week states that the self-proclaimed Islamic State group (ISIS) is taking advantage of ... Donald Trump's troop withdrawals from Iraq and Syria and 'rebuilding its capabilities.' This runs counter to the president's repeated claims that he has defeated ISIS.... This week's report acknowledges that the group lost its strongholds in Iraq in 2017 and Syria in 2019, but, it cautions, loss of territory does not spell the eradication of ISIS. On the contrary, the uneven U.S. approach in those conflicts has allowed it to revitalize its networks." --s

Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg: "The Trump administration continues its attacks on foreign policy, innovation and economic management. Sue Gordon announced her plans to retire as principal deputy director of national intelligence.... A Foreign Service officer resigned in an op-ed, saying 'I can no longer justify ... my complicity in the actions of this administration.' The Donald Trump administration is finding creative ways to destroy the Agriculture Department's Economic Research Service.... That's all from Thursday. They are hardly the only examples of how the administration is, to put it bluntly, destroying the U.S. government.... But there's nothing systematic about any of what's happening here. No plan. No strategy. No effort to separate the worthwhile from the worthless. It's just basically random attacks on random pieces of the government. It will take years to recover from. In some ways, perhaps the nation will never recover." --s

Darren Samuelsohn of Politico: "A federal judge on Friday rejected a request to fast track a review of Robert Mueller's records for potential public release. U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton sided with Justice Department lawyers who were asking him to stick to the normal schedule for Freedom of Information Act cases as he considers a lawsuit seeking a variety of underlying records tied to the now-concluded special counsel investigation. At issue is a FOIA request filed last November by the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center that asked for a broad range of Mueller materials, including any reports connected to the end of the probe, congressional briefing materials and any referrals the special counsel made outside the criminal justice system."

This Is Weird. Zachary Cohen of CNN: "The country's No. 2 intelligence official, Sue Gordon, knew it was likely she would have to eventually step down from her post, but the timing of that decision became more urgent on Thursday after her boss -- outgoing spy chief Dan Coats -- interrupted a meeting she was holding on election security and asked his deputy to submit her letter of resignation, sources familiar with the events told CNN. While details of the conversation between Gordon, an intelligence veteran of more than 30 years, and Coats remain unclear, sources say that the situation clearly abruptly changed after the meeting was interrupted. Shortly after her encounter with Coats, Gordon submitted her letter of resignation to Vice President Mike Pence, though the document itself was addressed to Trump.... Ultimately, White House officials told CNN they were not surprised by the fact that Gordon chose to resign, as it was clear the President was never going to select her for the top job, or even the acting position.... Under normal protocol, Gordon would have become acting director after Coats resigned. But administration officials told CNN that the White House was reviewing whether it could legally choose an acting director outside the line of succession."

Michael Hayden of the Southern Poverty Law Center: "After [the SPLC's] Hatewatch published its investigation of [State Department employee Matthew Gebert], people sent photos and information to Hatewatch about Gebert and his wife, Anna Vuckovic. Vuckovic also is involved in the white nationalist movement..., Hatewatch reported. Among the photos Hatewatch received is one of Gebert at a white nationalist event in Charlottesville, Virginia, in May 2017, months before the failed 'Unite the Right' rally that August." Two people who know Gebert positively identified him in the white nationalist event to Hatewatch. The State Department reportedly suspended Gebert after the SPLC's initial report on his white nationalist activities. Mrs. McC: In the photo, Gebert is dressed in the white nationalist "uniform": white shirt & khakis.

Nahal Toosi of Politico: "Democrats and many in the State Department are increasingly exasperated that they have yet to see the results of an investigation into whether President Donald Trump's political appointees mistreated career staffers. The delayed release of the State Department inspector general's findings has generated rising suspicion that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is trying to derail the investigation, whose results could be damning to some of his top aides. Lawmakers initially expected the report 'month ago,' according to Rep. Eliot Engel, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee." --s

Dan Friedman of Mother Jones: "The House Intelligence Committee is ramping up an investigation into alleged efforts by Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states to use financial inducements and other means to win favorable policies from the Trump administration. Starting in April, the panel 'issued several subpoenas and requests for information relating to Gulf influence, and we have received documents from certain witnesses,' a committee official says. 'We expect to issue another wave of requests shortly.'" --s

Presidential Race 2020

Chris Gardner of the Hollywood Reporter: "... Donald Trump's quick trip to the Hamptons on Friday raked in $12 million for his re-election campaign as his Republican allies were quick to declare it a win despite the wave of protests and controversy swirling around his Southampton host.... Trump appeared at two Hamptons fundraisers ... -- one at the Bridgehampton estate of Joe Farrell and another at the Southampton home of billionaire real estate developer Stephen Ross. The latter proved to be the pricier affair with tickets going for $100,000 (for photo and lunch) or $250,000 (for roundtable, photo and lunch) but it also ended up being the most controversial.... Trump critics called for boycotts of businesses in [Rpss's] Related Companies portfolio including the popular Equinox and Soul Cycle. According to numerous social media posts, celebrities and industry insiders were canceling their memberships in droves late in the week with many reporting that Equinox staffers were 'overwhelmed' by the calls and emails. THR reached out to a rep for Equinox but even their inboxes were slammed. Multiple emails bounced back, citing storage capacity errors." ...

... Colby Itkowitz of the Washington Post: "Before leaving for New York on Friday morning, Trump defended Ross. 'He's a great friend of mine; he's a very successful guy. We were competitors but friends in real estate in New York in the old days,' Trump told reporters outside the White House. 'He's probably more inclined to be a liberal if you want to know the truth, but he likes me, he respects me.'... Trump dismissed the backlash Ross is facing over the fundraiser, saying, 'it just makes Steve much hotter.'... Ross, in a statement to The Washington Post on Wednesday, said he will speak up when he disagrees with Trump, and called himself 'an outspoken champion of racial equality, inclusion, diversity, public education and environmental sustainability.'" Mrs. McC: He has a funny way of showing it.

Gubernatorial Race 2019. Louisiana. Josh Israel of ThinkProgress: "Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA), who is running for governor in the 2019 elections, attended a meeting of a right-wing 'patriots' group on Thursday. When an attendee delivered a racist rant against illegal immigration, and the members of Congress who allow it, and urged that some be shot, Abraham did not push back... 'This Congress and this Senate too [are] absent minded and irresponsible,' the person claimed. 'I think some of these people, whoever they are ... ought to be shot.' It is unclear whether he wanted to assassinate the lawmakers or the immigrants. But it is clear that Abraham did nothing to challenge the call to violence in his response." --s

Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times: "... a cache of previously sealed legal documents, released on Friday by a federal appeals court, provides new, disturbing details about what was going on inside [Jeffrey] Epstein's homes and how his associates recruited young women and girls, including from a Florida high school.... The documents were filed as part of a defamation lawsuit in federal court that Virginia Giuffre brought in 2015 against Ghislaine Maxwell, Mr. Epstein's longtime companion and confidant. Ms. Giuffre and Ms. Maxwell settled the lawsuit shortly before the trial was to begin in 2017.... About 2,000 pages of the materials were posted online by the appeals court on Friday, providing a high-definition glimpse inside what federal prosecutors have said was Mr. Epstein's long-running sex-trafficking operation.... The word 'massage' became code for 'sex,' [Ms. Giuffre] said in the 2016 deposition." The Politico report, by Josh Gerstein, is here. It names some prominent men Giuffre swore Maxwell instructed her to "massage." The Washington Post report, by Beth Reinhard & others, is here.

Jake Rudnitsky of Bloomberg: "[In parts of Siberia, t]emperatures in June and July were the hottest ever charted globally.... The resulting dry conditions fed fires that torched more than 7 million hectares (17 million acres) of Siberian wilderness in just two months. Since the beginning of the year, fires have consumed more than 13 million hectares -- an area larger than Greece.... These unchecked fires are destroying millions of hectares of trees in the world's largest forest, a critical carbon sink, and could further accelerate global warming.... Russia is finally waking up to the threat of climate change, which Putin in 2017 joked could be beneficial for Russia given its reputation for cold weather." -- safari: I hope Trump sends rakes. --s

Beyond the Beltway

New Hampshire. John DiStaso of WMUR Manchester: "Gov. Chris Sununu [R] on Friday vetoed three bills that advocates said would have added 'commonsense' protections for Granite Staters against gun violence but opponents said would have done nothing to stop mass shootings and would have infringed on the constitutional rights of citizens. Sununu vetoed House 109 which closes the so-called gun show loophole and requires background checks for virtually all commercial firearms sales or transfers; House Bill 514, which requires a three-day waiting period before the purchase and delivery of a firearm; and House Bill 564, which prohibits carrying a firearm on school property.... The bills passed the Democratic-controlled House and Senate mostly along party lines. The Legislature will likely meet next month to address all of the governor's vetoes, but ... overrides are unlikely since two-thirds majorities are required." Mrs. McC: Thanks, Sununu! I really treasure my Constitutional right to buy a couple of guns at a shady gun show, load 'em up & immediately carry them to the local elementary school. Common sense is so overrated.

Way Beyond

Italy. Siobhán O'Grady of the Washington Post: "Pope Francis called for a united Europe in an interview published by Italian daily La Stampa on Friday, saying recent political rhetoric has echoed that of Nazi Germany. I am concerned because we hear speeches that resemble those of Hitler in 1934,' he said. 'Us first.... These are frightening thoughts.' It is not the first time the pontiff has made such remarks, but his comments published Friday came as Italy's populist government appeared to be on the verge of collapse. On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, the most powerful politician in Italy, called for parliament to be dissolved and asked President Sergio Mattarella to order snap elections that could make Italy's government lean even further right." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: The WashPo story links to the La Stampa report, in Italian, of course. Here's an English translation, via the Vatican Insider. ...

... Italy/Russia. Alberto Nardelli et al. of Buzzfeed: "Gianluca Savoini [a longtime aide to Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini is] ... at the center of the storm over a secret plan to fund the far-right party of Italy's deputy prime minister with Russian oil money, shuttled back and forth to Moscow on multiple mysterious trips last year.... A member of Salvini's ministerial staff, Claudio D'Amico, was booked on the same Aeroflot flight as Savoini from Milan to Moscow on Oct. 16 ... the evening of Oct. 18, following the meeting at the Metropol that morning [discussing the secret oil deal]. D'Amico is Salvini's strategic adviser on international affairs. The revelation will ratchet up pressure on Salvini to answer questions about what he knew about the Moscow negotiation.... Savoini's dozens of travel entries over the past five years do not appear in Russia's Central Database for the Registration of Foreigners ... suggest[ing] either that he had a special status awarded upon arrival to individuals who, for example, don't have to go through passport control or that the information was wiped from the database." --s

Reader Comments (17)

Long-time RC readers may recall that I have a thing about telling people that assault weapon wounds are much much more damaging than "regular" rifle or pistol wounds. This link from a year ago was embedded in the NYT article on DiJiT's El Paso trip (he was truly, truly great, per Dan Scavino).

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/04/health/parkland-shooting-victims-ar15.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article

If the military loads for these weapons were made illegal (i.e., the propellant was limited in power), and the only ammunition available was loaded such that the muzzle velocity was as low as, say, a standard 30.06 bullet leaving a "normal" deer hunting rifle, we would have a better outcome for mass shootings. The assault weapon shooter could still shoot at a high rate, but when he (always a "he") hit someone, less damage would result.

If we prohibited military loads to civilians (including prohibiting them to police), they could still pursue all their 2nd Amendment freedoms, hunting rabbits and shooting at tin cans and pop-ups of (name a hated famous person). But when they decide to shoot up a kindergarten, the kids might have a fighting chance.

I doubt that the 2nd Amendment would say that feds, states and cities cannot outlaw military loads. If, say, NRA insisted that such loads are everyone's right, you could easily prove their depravity in court.

If I could, I'd also try to incorporate a cycle limit mechanism in all these faux Rambeaux, but that would be hard to implement as retrofits. The ammo ban could be immediate, however: if you get caught with milspec ammo after (date), you go to jail. Before that date, you can turn in your milspec and get two "low power" rounds for every one turned in (maybe some other ratio like three for two, but as our founding fathers knew, it is always best to write laws that appeal to greed, if you want compliance).

It's not perfect but its not nothing neither.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

KellyAnne ConJob's defense of Tucker Carlson's flirting with white nationalism should be the final nail in the coffin in the question of whether she's totally on board with the full court press on racism and fear mongering. She didn't have to publicly defend him, but she felt the need to. She should just come to work with her white blanket and hood on, because she's no different ideologically than Stephen Miller. Maybe she wasn't coming into the White House, but the cesspool of extremism accumulating in the Oval Office has transformed the brain of every member of this administration. After this presidency*, they'll all have to be quarantined to obscure conservative radio shows because they'll bring literally zero benefit to the country or any incoming administration.

On another note, with all of the reports of lawyerly stalling tactics or loyalists withholding damning reports or Bill Barr running interference to run the clock out on the next election, I'm less and less worried about any of the Drumpf's securing a significant political power seat post Agent Orange. Reams of incredible machinations are surely going to spill out of DC once the dam holding up the sinking ship finally breaks loose and runs for the hills. Maybe one of the spawns will get into the House of Reps and become an embarrassment fixture alongside Gohmert & Gym Jordan, but their father's stench will follow them for the rest of their lives. Once Donny keels over after too many hamburdlers, the GOP will pretend to clean slate and neither Ivanka or Jared will be what they'll be looking for. They'l still grift in their gold-plated chairs, but as diminished, damaged souls full of spite.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

Patrick! Right on. A great, easy first step. This shouldn't bother the majority of the owners that pretend to kill their fancied enemies as they will still be able to pretend the cans and beer bottles are whoever they hate.
The psychopaths that are planning raids on Trump's enemies or their own will be unable to do as much damage as wounds will be more treatable.
We must hurry to get the military ammo off the market, as there will certainly be several mass murders in the next few months.
This life saving step will probably be difficult to get past Moscow Mitch.
All honorable politicos should be promoting removing military ammunition from civilian circulation.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle

I don't believe Epstein committed suicide! He knew too much about too many people...and if he talked....

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

Jesus! Does this sound like Russia or what? An oligarch pimping for the powerful with damning knowledge of all their sexual quirks and practices dies in captivity.
Popular lawyers, past and present presidents and a few assorted princes and hedge fund managers must have been on their second drink before noon today.
Conjecture about how this death was accomplished will out live every one alive today.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered Commentercarlyle

MAG,

My first thought as well. Besides, wasn’t this guy on suicide watch? Who has the clout to make sure Epstein didn’t out them in order to get a reduced sentence?

At first I thought Trump, but quickly dispensed with that idea. If it was his doing he wouldn’t be able to refrain from bragging about it. Either that or the job would have been completely fucked up. Competence is not a word anyone would connect with Fatty. And if he hired someone, it would have been an equally inept loser who’d probably try to strangle Epstein’s knee cap.

I suppose he could have ordered some black ops guys to do it, but then there’s the bragging problem again.

But if Epstein was sending underage girls to “entertain” high powered business leaders, members of the royal family, prime ministers, and big name lawyers and Wall St. types, I’m sure these guys all know a guy who knows a guy that could cast good ol’ Jeffrey in a remake of “Hang ‘em High”.

If I was Virginia Giuffre, I’d hire me some bad ass bodyguards right quick.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

I agree, MAG. Suicide watches in jails include constant TV monitoring and an every 15 minute walk-by by personnel. It's not that easy to take the sheet off the bed, rip it up, then loop it through a vent, string oneself up, and kick the waste basket away within 15 minutes under constant monitoring. My guess is that jail personnel could have cared less if he hung himself or if someone somehow went into the cell and killed him.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

Maybe I watch too many dark films, but this reeks of a wet sanction with the end result that has many, many in high places opening a bottle of champagne today. Beyond the young girl pictures in the safe, there was more about those people that will remain under wraps.

@Ak: I agree with your take on Trump.

Can only hope Epstein left duplicate files with someone....an "in case of my death"

This stinks.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

But never fear. Wingers have the answer. It’s the same answer they have for pretty much everything: the Clintons killed Epstein.

Sure. Actually, as someone already pointed out, the person ultimately responsible for Epstein’s incarceration and his “safety”, is the guy who runs the DOJ and considers himself Trump’s personal lawyer.

If there was more coming out about Trump’s dalliances with underage girls (remember his “modeling agency” and the beauty contests for young girls at which he would walk into dressing rooms unannounced to check out the girls as they changed?), that would not be good for his re-stealing of the presidency. He gets away with an ungodly amount of things, but raping young girls (because that’s what it is) might not sit well with undecideds.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

A glimmering of sanity?

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/08/10/arts/san-francisco-murals.html?

And my older son, who just dropped by to borrow the pickup, suggested another Epstein possibility: a big payoff to jailers to look the other way?

It's very disconcerting to live in a place and time the rational among us cannot wholly dismiss even unlikely conspiracies.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

A few things I've heard on the teevee: (1) in recent days, Epstein was taken off suicide watch -- everybody is wondering whose idea that was; (2) Epstein was not "adapting well" to his new digs, & was paying his lawyers to come in & babysit him so he didn't have to do whatever it is he would otherwise be doing during his fake lawyer time; (3) Bill Barr is all upset because, as you-all have pointed out, this supposed suicide happened in a federal jail on Barr's watch, so there's going to be a big investigation/cover-up.

But, yeah, the Clintons did it*; probably someone from their own competing sex-trafficking ops in the basement of the D.C. pizzeria (that doesn't actually have a basement but wingers don't sweat the details).

*This was supposed to be a joke, but it turns out the wingers -- including a Trump official -- are really blaming the Clintons.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Yeah, at first I wondered if it was Bill, Hillary, Queen Elizabeth or Donald who had Epstein offed, but then my son reminded that it is ALWAYS Obama's blame, so, sure.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

Glad to see Mr. Barr can be appalled by something. I didn't think he had limits.

Russian interference in our elections? Yawn.

Pretender's clumsy attempts to cover up his own obvious complicity? Nothing there.

Legitimate Congressional investigations of both? Don't bother us with your subpoenas.

The suicide(?) of an evil sexual deviant with too much money? Truckloads of appallingness.

(Yes it's a word, even if it shouldn't be. I looked it up.)

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Although I like conspiracy theories as much as anyone, could Epstein's demise be due to a case of autoerotic asphixiation. Given his alleged kinkiness I wouldn't be surprised that he used his jumpsuit to create some form of strangulation device. Sick, but perhaps true.

If someone had entered his cell block to off him, there must be badge scans or PIN entries on record to identify the offer based on a time stamp in the block's access-control system.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

My first thought at the Epstein news was "Wow! This has got to be the ultimate planned distraction!"

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBobby Lee

Bobby Lee,

I was thinking something along those same lines. Whether or not Trump or Barr had anything to do with it, as I mentioned a day or so ago, all they needed was some new shiny object to draw attention away from white supremacy, mass gun murders, and MORE heinous abuse of babies and small children. And if, into the bargain, the chance of Trump’s possible (likely?) rape of young girls became tossed into the media dumpster (because Clintons, after all) then all the better. There’s a reason that Trump and his vassals keep the distractions coming, fast and furious. All of a sudden talk of gun control has disappeared.

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

If any review of Clinton body count conspiracy history is necessary (I didn't know its origins and I'd forgotten some details about the relatively recent Seth Rich, Wikileaks chapter), Vox provides a good one.

https://www.vox.com/2019/8/10/20800195/clintonbodycount-conspiracy-theory-jeffrey-epstein

August 10, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes
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