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Safety/Irony Alert. CNBC (December 25): Your new home security system may be an open invitation to hackers to make you, and perhaps many others, unsafe.” -- CW

Click on the picture to see larger image.... Low Society News. AP: "... Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump were among the guests as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (mih-NOO’-shin’s) married a Scottish actress. Mnuchin exchanged vows Saturday night with Louise Linton at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington. Mrs. Trump wore a pink blush dress" CW: which, if you follow Reality Chex, you will know was enhanced by some really costly baubles that remind the bride of Grace Kelly or happy times or something.

New Yorker: "In a paper in the journal Nature, an international team of researchers announced that they have pushed back the date of the earliest human remains to three hundred thousand years ago. And the specimens in question were found not in East Africa, which has become synonymous with a sort of paleoanthropological Garden of Eden, but clear on the other side of the continent — and the Sahara — in Morocco." -- CW ...

Washington Post: "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus took a final, bittersweet bow Sunday, staging its last three shows [in Uniondale, N.Y.,] after 146 years of entertaining American audiences with gravity-defying trapeze stunts, comically clumsy clowns and trained tigers." -- CW 

Guardian: "Pippa Middleton [sister of Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge --] has married James Matthews in what has been called the society wedding of the year, in front of royalty, family and friends." -- CW

Washington Post: "Two months before Monday’s [May 8] announcement that Sinclair Broadcast Group would pay $3.9 billion for Tribune Media and add to its dominance as the nation’s largest owner of local TV stations, a top executive at Sinclair beamed a short commentary piece to many of the company’s 173 stations.In the segment, which looks like it belongs in a newscast, Sinclair vice president for news Scott Livingston stands before a wall of video monitors and warns that 'some members of the national media are using their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control exactly what people think.' He accuses the national media of publishing 'fake news stories' — a direct echo of President Trump’s frequent complaint — and then asks viewers to visit the station’s website to share 'content concerns.' The piece was a 'must-run,' meaning news directors and station managers from Baltimore to Seattle had to find room for it.... While partisan coverage is a familiar staple of cable networks — Fox News on the right, MSNBC on the left — it remains mostly unheard of in broadcast TV, where it has generally been accepted that public airwaves should be used in the difficult-to-define public interest.” -- CW 

CNN: "21st Century Fox and the private equity firm Blackstone are in talks to launch a bid for Tribune Media, one of the nation's largest television broadcasting companies, a source with knowledge of the matter said Sunday. The deal currently under discussion would see Blackstone and Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox forming a joint venture. Blackstone would provide the cash for the acquisition while Fox would add all its owned-and-operated television stations to the joint venture." -- CW 

New York Times: "Prehistoric humans — perhaps Neanderthals or another lost species — occupied what is now California some 130,000 years ago, a team of scientists reported on Wednesday. The bold and fiercely disputed claim, published in the journal Nature, is based on a study of mastodon bones discovered near San Diego. If the scientists are right, they would significantly alter our understanding of how humans spread around the planet." -- CW 

If you're curious as to how realistic the New York City apartments of TV sitcom characters are -- in terms of what the characters could reasonably afford -- the Washington Post checks out several of the hovels & dream rentals of a number of shows. Kinda fun. CW: My husband & I (he paid the rent) had a fairly spacious two-bedroom with a galley kitchen (dishwasher included!) & dining room plus teensy closets on Washington Square in the 1980s & '90s. NYU owned the building & helped considerably with the rent.

Politico: "Comedian Hasan Minhaj will be this year's entertainer for the White House Correspondents' Dinner later this month, the association's president announced on Tuesday. Minhaj is a stand up comedian and senior correspondent on 'The Daily Show,' where he has performed caustic bits on ... Donald Trump, liberals and others in between. Minhaj has Washington experience already, having performed as host of last year's Radio and Television Correspondents' Association Dinner." -- CW 

AFP: "After months of uncertainty and controversy, Bob Dylan finally accepted the 2016 Nobel Prize in literature at a jovial, champagne-laced ceremony on Saturday, [April 1,] the Swedish Academy announced. The academy, which awards the coveted prize, ended prolonged speculation as to whether the 75-year-old troubadour would use a concert stopover in Stockholm to accept the gold medal and diploma awarded to him back in October." -- CW 

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Sunday
Jun182017

The Commentariat -- June 19, 2017

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Afternoon Update:

Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "In a decision likely to bolster the Washington Redskins' efforts to protect its trademarks, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the government may not refuse to register potentially offensive names. A law denying protection to disparaging trademarks, the court said, violated the First Amendment. The decision was unanimous, but the justices were divided on the reasoning." -- CW

Adam Liptak: "The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that several high-ranking Bush administration officials may not be sued for policies adopted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The officials include John Ashcroft, the former attorney general, and Robert S. Mueller III, the former F.B.I. director who is now investigating possible links between the Trump administration and Russia. The case began in 2002 as a class action filed by mostly Muslim immigrants over policies and practices that swept hundreds into the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn on immigration violations shortly after the attacks. The plaintiffs said they had been subjected to beatings, humiliating searches and other abuses. The roundups drew criticism from the inspector general of the Justice Department, who in 2003 issued reports saying that the government had made little to no effort to distinguish between genuine suspects and Muslim immigrants with minor visa violations.... Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in the 4-to-2 decision, acknowledged that the way the detainees said they had been treated was appalling. But he said lawsuits seeking money from high-ranking officials were not the right way to address asserted misconduct in the midst of a national security crisis.... Three members of the court did not participate in the decision: Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who had not yet joined the court when the case was argued, and Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, who recused themselves." -- CW

Louis Nelson of Politico: "When ... Donald Trump wrote online last week that 'I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director,' it was not an admission that he is indeed being investigated, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said Monday morning, but instead a Twitter-shortened reaction to media coverage of ongoing probes into his 2016 campaign. Conway's insistence Monday morning that Trump's tweet last Friday was not what it seemed followed in the footsteps of the president's personal attorney, Jay Sekulow, who said Sunday in an array of political talk show appearances that regardless of what he has written online, Trump is not under investigation." -- CW ...

... Rosalind Helderman, et al., of the Washington Post: "In August, as tension mounted over Russia's role in the U.S. presidential race, Donald Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, sat down to dinner with a business associate from Ukraine who once served in the Russian army. Konstantin Kilimnik, who learned English at a military school that some experts consider a training ground for Russian spies, had helped run the Ukraine office for Manafort's international political consulting practice for 10 years.... Kilimnik, who provided a written statement to The Washington Post through Manafort's attorney, said the previously unreported dinner was one of two meetings he had with Manafort on visits to the United States during Manafort's five months working for Trump. The first encounter was in early May 2016, about two weeks before the Trump adviser was elevated to campaign chairman.... Manafort told Politico, which first reported his relationship with Kilimnik, that his conversations included discussions about the cyberattack on the Democratic National Committee and the release of its emails." -- CW

Jennifer Haberkorn of Politico: "Democrats will grind Senate business to a halt in a protest against Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare. Beginning Monday night, Democrats will start objecting to all unanimous consent requests in the Senate, according to a Democratic aide. They plan to control the floor of the chamber Monday night and try to force the House-passed health care bill to committee in a bid to further delay it. Without the votes to block Obamacare repeal, Democrats are turning to procedural moves they believe will underscore their most powerful argument: Republicans are hiding their repeal plan from the public and using Senate procedures to keep it a secret.... Democrats are unlikely to be able to force the House bill to committee or delay it. But it will force Republicans to answer for what Democrats say is a rushed process and bad policy." -- CW

Oliver Milman of the Guardian: "Nearly a third of the world's population is now exposed to climatic conditions that produce deadly heatwaves, as the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere makes it 'almost inevitable' that vast areas of the planet will face rising fatalities from high temperatures, new research has found. Climate change has escalated the heatwave risk across the globe, the study states, with nearly half of the world's population set to suffer periods of deadly heat by the end of the century even if greenhouse gases are radically cut." -- CW ...

CW: You might not want to listen to a 25-minute segment about coal, but I promise this is worth it:

CBS/AP: "A man was killed Monday after ramming a car carrying explosives into a police vehicle in the French capital's Champs-Elysees shopping district, prompting a fiery blast, officials said. France's anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation. No police officers or passers-by were hurt, the Paris police department said. It is unclear why the attacker drove into police, though officials said the incident was apparently deliberate." -- CW

*****

CW: I've been looking all morning for a Trumpentweet about how we all stand together with the Muslim worshipers who were victims of the London terror attack & the U.S. will do anything to help, etc. and/or the Muslim girl murdered in Virginia. You'll be surprised to hear that this is one terrorist attack& one murder that don't interest Der Islamophobenmeister at all.

Kailani Koenig of NBC News: "An attorney for ... Donald Trump was adamant on Sunday that the president is not under investigation, despite the president's tweets this week referring to one as a "witch hunt.... On 'Face The Nation' on CBS, [Jay] Sekulow clarified that he's so confident that there isn't any investigation into the president because they have not received any notification from the special counsel's office." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... CW: I hate to tell Jay, but typically investigative agencies don't tell someone he's a person of interest until they find it necessary to interview him and/or associates who might tell the person the nature of their interviews. I was once told by a credible source that I was "under investigation" by a State Bureau of Investigation, so I called the SBI to find out. They wouldn't say one way or the other. That was decades ago, and to this day, I have no idea if my source was right. It isn't exactly something that concerns me. Sekulow is either bluffing or he's an ignoramus. Or both. ...

... Chris Wallace Is Not Taking Any of Sekulow's BS. Max Greenwood of the Hill: "'Fox News Sunday' host Chris Wallace sparred with Jay Sekulow, a member of President Trump's legal defense team, on Sunday over whether the president has become a target of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. Sekulow originally denied that Trump had fallen under investigation, but later appeared to reverse that assertion, saying that 'he's being investigated for taking the action that the attorney general and deputy attorney general recommending him to take.' 'You've now said that he is being investigated,' Wallace said.... [After some more back-and forth, Wallace said,] 'Well, you don't know that he's not under investigation, again sir.'... 'You're right, Chris, I can't read the mind of the special prosecutor,' Sekulow responded. 'Okay, well good, we're in agreement,' Wallace replied. 'You don't know whether he's under investigation or not.'" -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... The Odessey of a Scoundrel: Between Scylla & Charybdis. Mark Stern of Slate: "... what, exactly, will Mueller find now that he has substantially broadened the scope of his investigation?... Reporters have already uncovered an astonishing amount of disturbing information about Trump. There's the Azerbaijan hotel project propped up by graft and bribery with ties to Iran's Revolutionary Guard. The charitable foundation accused of self-dealing and tax fraud. The questionable Deutsche Bank loans with ties to Moscow. The close association with allegedly criminal international companies. The journalists chasing these leads have hit snags, obstacles, and insurmountable walls, leading to stories that suggest the possibility of law-breaking but end with lingering uncertainty. Mueller need not put up with such stonewalling. He has the tools to dig much deeper.... Sacking Mueller would end the special counsel investigation, at least temporarily. It would also constitute a clear case of obstruction of justice, one that would instigate an immediate, immense outcry. Washington would screech to a halt.... That is the dilemma that Trump faces: Answer for his old crimes, or commit a new one." -- CW ...

... Ben Protess, et al., of the New York Times: "Representatives of Jared Kushner ... have quietly contacted high-powered criminal lawyers about potentially representing him in the wide-ranging investigation into Russia's influence on the 2016 election, according to three people briefed on the matter. Some of Mr. Kushner’s allies have raised questions about the link between his current lawyer, Jamie S. Gorelick, and Robert S. Mueller III.... Before the Justice Department named him to the special counsel post, Mr. Mueller was a law partner with Ms. Gorelick at the Washington firm of WilmerHale." -- CW ...

Comey had nine interactions with [Trump] after the election. And in none of those, Comey testified, did he express any interest, concern, about what the Russians did, how they did it, how do we prevent it. He continuously has in fact denigrated the whole idea and dismissed that it was the Russians, and apparently hasn't yet accepted the 100-percent consensus of everybody that knows about this that this was a conscious and deliberate effort on their part to attack our democracy. And then to Jeff Sessions I said, did you ever get any briefings on this? He said no. All he knew is what he read in the papers. This is the chief law-enforcement officer of the United States, with no interest in the most serious attack on our country. -- Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), in an interview by Al Hunt of Bloomberg ...

... Jordain Carney of the Hill: "Senate Republicans are clamoring to hear from Loretta Lynch after former FBI Director James Comey raised concerns about her involvement in the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee are seizing on Comey's testimony earlier this month that he was concerned over the former attorney general telling the FBI to refer to the Clinton investigation as a 'matter,' which resembled the Clinton campaign line. The move could allow Republicans to attempt to pivot away from the investigation into Russia's election meddling -- which top GOP lawmakers have signaled belongs to the Intelligence Committee -- and focus on Lynch, who has long been a target of Republicans." -- CW (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Quit Picking on Devin. David Siders of Politico: "House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes said Saturday there 'was never any collusion between Donald Trump and the Russians,' casting himself as a victim of media bias and calling on Washington to 'stop chasing Russian ghosts around the closet.'... Nunes, addressing GOP donors in Orange County, said that after searching for any evidence of collusion, 'I said "OK, I don't think there's any collusion here." And what happened to me? All the major papers in the country did a total character assassination on me. Why? Because I was telling the truth, that there was never any collusion between Donald Trump and the Russians.'" CW: Sorry, Devin, the press didn't assassinate your character; you did it all by yourself with your hilarious midnight run to try to exonerate the president* you were supposed to be investigating. But we'll always be grateful to you for "bumblefucking." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Our Far-Flung Adventures (Are Leaderless)

Mark Landler & Michael Gordon of the New York Times: "... the Pentagon issued a news release late one afternoon last week confirming that the president had given the defense secretary, Jim Mattis, the authority to send several thousand additional troops [to Afghanistan].... Mr. Trump, who writes avidly on Twitter about war and peace in other parts of the world, said nothing about the announcement. But its effect was unmistakable: He had outsourced the decision on how to proceed militarily in Afghanistan to the Pentagon, a startling break with how former President Barack Obama and many of his predecessors handled the anguished task of sending Americans into foreign conflicts.... Former commanders and military scholars said that in sending troops before having a strategy, Mr. Trump has put the cart before the horse, eroded the tradition of civilian control over the military, and abdicated the president's duty to announce and defend troop deployments.... The decision to send additional troops represents at least a temporary victory for Mr. Mattis and Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, over Mr. Trump's political aides, including his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon...." -- CW

Thomas Gibbons-Neff & Karim Faheem of the Washington Post: "A U.S. strike aircraft shot down a Syrian government fighter jet Sunday shortly after the Syrians bombed U.S.-backed fighters in northern Syria, the Pentagon said in a statement. The Pentagon said the downing of the aircraft came hours after Syrian loyalist forces attacked U.S.-backed fighters, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, in the village of Ja'Din, southwest of Raqqa. The rare attack was the first time a U.S. jet has shot down a manned hostile aircraft in more than a decade, and it signaled the United States' sharply intensifying role in Syria's war. The incident is the fourth time within a month that the U.S. military has attacked pro-Syrian government forces." -- CW ...

     ... ** Update. Patrick Wintour of the Guardian: "Russia has said it will target any plane from the US-led coalition flying west of the Euphrates river in Syria after the US military shot down a Syrian air force jet on Sunday. Russia's defence ministry said the US had given it no warning, and that as a consequence it was also suspending coordination over 'deconfliction zones' that were created to prevent incidents involving US and Russian jets engaged in operations in Syria." -- CW

Anna Fifield of the Washington Post: "Early Saturday morning, the ... Philippine-flagged ACX ... Crystal — for reasons that have not been explained -- swung around 180 degrees in that busy waterway [... near where the sea lanes converge for the run into Tokyo Bay ...] and doubled back on its course, heading nearly due west. Minutes later, just before 2:20 a.m., the much larger container ship hit the [USS Fitzgerald] broadside, just about amidships on the starboard rail. The freighter punched a wide hole into the Fitzgerald, breaching two compartments below the waterline where there were berths for 116 sailors, as well as a machinery room." The Navy has identified all seven American sailors who died on the Fitzgerald. -- CW ...

... Scott Shane of the New York Times: "Vice Adm. Joseph P. Aucoin, commander of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet..., said he would appoint a flag officer to conduct one of several investigations that will seek to establish exactly what happened and to apportion responsibility." -- CW

Nikos Giannopoulos, Rhode Island's teacher of the year, with man & woman living in White House.... Martin Pengelly of the Guardian: "A Rhode Island teacher who became a star on social media after displaying LGBTQ pride in a photograph taken with Donald Trump in the Oval Office also wrote that he wanted to tell the president: 'Anti-LGBTQ policies have a body count.' Nikos Giannopoulos, a special education teacher at the Beacon Charter High School for the Arts in Woonsocket, visited the White House in April with other award-winning teachers. This week, Giannopoulos posted to his Facebook page a photo that shows him next to a smiling Trump, who is seated at the Resolute desk, and first lady Melania Trump, who is standing. Giannopoulos is wearing a rainbow pin and waving a black lace fan." -- CW ...

... The man seated at the desk read prepared remarks from a sheet of paper and made some comments about CEOs and which states he 'loved' based on electoral votes that he had secured. He did not rise from his seat to present the National Teacher of the Year [-- Sydney Chafee of Massachusetts --] with her much deserved award nor did he allow her to speak. After what amounted to a brief photo op, we were ushered out of the West Wing and back on to the streets of DC. -- Nikos Giannopoulos, Rhode Island's Teacher of the Year, on Facebook

Trump Family Values. Adele Stan in the New Republic: "As Father-in-Chief, Donald Trump ... has scrapped any normal notion of the family unit, organizing his personal life around those who advance the same principles that drive the companies that bear his name -- taking what you want, doing as you please, and living off other people's money. We've traded the Bushes, the Clintons, and the Obamas for First Family LLC.... The Trump family brand mirrors America at its worst -- a version in which capitalism deforms all relationships, twisting everyone and everything to serve its basest needs. This is a family only in the Mafia sense of the word, ruled by a ruthless and imperious Don who offers protection in return for fealty. Trump's children are more than mere relatives: They are executive vice presidents, the capo bastones of an organized racket.... This degenerate idea of family makes me miss the old-school first family -- that relic of the bad old days before the notion of equality between the sexes was even a thing." -- CW

Adam Davidson of the New Yorker: "A couple of weeks ago, at Trump Tower, on the same spot where Donald Trump announced his Presidential bid, Eric Danziger, the C.E.O. of Trump Hotels, formally launched a new line of three-star hotels, called American Idea, which will cater to lower-income, rural areas of the country. It was the most blatant instance yet of the Trump family's profiting from its political power.... Within the hotel industry, the event raised eyebrows for another reason: it was unbelievably haphazard. Danziger, though a veteran of the industry, had almost nothing to show his audience. There was no Web site or marketing material, and the logo was just the brand name and a crudely drawn picture of a light bulb.... Like many things in the world of Trump, the event was both corrupt and inept. Trump Hotels had nothing to offer but words, and nearly all of those words were about the President." -- CW

Edgar Sandoval & Andrew Keshner of the New York Daily News: "A Queens man put his health on the line to help remove hazardous material from Ground Zero -- and now immigration authorities want him removed from the country over a 30-year-old criminal case. Carlos Humberto Cardona, 48, was one of about 41,300 people ICE agents took into custody during the first 100 days of the Trump administration. But Cardona is fighting for his freedom -- with a Brooklyn federal lawsuit and a state clemency bid.... 'He inhaled fumes (at the World Trade Center site). His health ended up being affected. He has lung problems. He has gastrointestinal problems. He has psychological issues. He has a lot of anxiety,' [his wife Liliana] said. 'He's very much an American,' Rajesh Barua, Cardona's attorney, told The News. 'He's scared of going back to Colombia. He doesn't know how he'll maintain a living and what kind of treatment he'll have for respiratory problems, which are very real.'" -- CW

Jeet Heer of the New Republic: "Faced with a lawless president, Democrats have to start thinking about their constitutional duties. Trump ... represents a fundamental challenge to the functioning of American democracy, and raises the most serious questions about presidential power.... Relying on [Rod] Rosenstein and [Robert] Mueller as barriers against Trump's worst excesses is a prime example of a trap that liberals have fallen into time and again when dealing with presidential abuse of power -- a tradition of 'prosecutorial liberalism,' which seeks legal rather than political remedies to punish presidential misdeeds.... The true task of holding Trump accountable belongs to Congress. The only constitutional remedies for Trump's actions are to be found in the legislative branch -- remedies that include not just impeachment, but passing new laws restricting executive power so that future presidents can't behave as Trump does." -- CW

Paul Krugman: "Last month House Republicans rammed through one of the worst, cruelest pieces of legislation in history.... Nonetheless, Republican Senate leaders are now trying to ram through their own version of the A.H.C.A., one that, all reports suggest, will differ only in minor, cosmetic ways. And they're trying to do it in total secrecy.... Clearly, the goal is to pass legislation that will have devastating effects on tens of millions of Americans without giving those expected to pass it, let alone the general public, any real chance to understand what they're voting for. There are even suggestions that Mitch McConnell ... might exploit loopholes in the rules to prevent any discussion on the Senate floor.... You can blame Donald Trump for many things, including the fact that he will surely sign whatever bad bill is put in front of him. But as far as health care is concerned, he's just an ignorant bystander, who all evidence suggests has little if any idea what's actually in Trumpcare." -- CW

E.J. Dionne: "The harsh feelings in our politics arise from a long process -- the steady destruction of the norms of partisan competition that began more than a quarter-century ago. Well before President Trump took political invective to a new level, Newt Gingrich was pushing his side to extreme forms of aggressiveness.... I would ask my friends on the right to consider that ever since Bush 41 agreed to that tax increase, conservatives and Republicans in large numbers have shied away from any deal-making with liberals. They have chosen instead to paint us as advocates of dangerous forms of statism. This has nothing to do with what we actually believe in or propose. Every gun measure is decried as confiscation. Every tax increase is described as oppressive. This simply shuts down dialogue before it can even start." -- CW

** NEW. Adam Liptak of the New York Times: "The Supreme Court announced on Monday that it would consider whether partisan gerrymandering can violate the Constitution. The case could reshape American politics. The court has struck down election maps as racial gerrymanders that disadvantage minority voters. But it has never disallowed a map on the ground that it was drawn to give an unfair advantage to a political party. Some justices have said the court should stay out of such political disputes entirely. Others have said partisan gerrymanders may violate the Constitution. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy has taken a middle position, and the case may turn on his vote." -- CW

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Stephen Battaglio of the Los Angeles Times: "Megyn Kelly presented a highly critical 19-minute piece on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on her NBC newsmagazine 'Sunday Night' after a week of harsh criticism over the decision to present his views on network TV.... NBC News brought on its elder statesman Tom Brokaw to join Kelly at the end of the program.... Kelly did have several heated exchanges with Jones, who was sweating profusely during their sit-down.... In a live-streamed video aired on his YouTube channel, Jones reacted angrily to the final taped 'Sunday Night' piece as it aired. He lambasted Kelly and the mainstream media.... Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote on Twitter: 'Bottom line on NBC's Alex Jones piece: Strong editing gave it an edge & made him look like a kook. Still a win for him; boosts his profile." CW: Any time you have to bring in Brokaw to do clean-up, your crack at "journalism" is a loser. ...

... Margaret Hartmann of New York: "NBC reportedly overhauled the piece to make it tougher on [Alex] Jones. The resulting 20-minute piece offered a heavily edited overview of who Jones is, and the justification for featuring him on Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly.... Jones repeatedly dodged Kelly's questions, and additions were made to the broadcast to make it clear that his claims have no basis in fact. Variety said this made the interview segments seem 'stilted,' as if they were 'carefully extracted out of broader conversation' to emphasize the moments when Kelly urged Jones to disavow his baseless claims. Variety's Sonia Saraiya said the segment failed to produce any new information about Jones, and actually exposed Kelly as a weak interviewer...." -- CW


Ari Melber
, et al., of NBC News: "Watergate prosecutors had evidence that operatives for then-President Richard Nixon planned an assault on anti-war demonstrators in 1972, including potentially physically attacking Vietnam whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, according to a never-before-published memo obtained by NBC News. The document, an 18-page 1973 investigative memorandum from the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, sheds new light on how prosecutors were investigating attempts at domestic political violence by Nixon aides, an extremely serious charge.... A plot to physically attack Ellsberg is notable because the former Pentagon official has long alleged that Nixon operatives did more than steal his medical files, the most well-known effort to discredit him.... Prosecutors concluded that White House counsel Charles Colson had directed the operation, which Colson denied." -- CW ...

... Here's the Prosecutors' Memo on "Investigation Into The Assault On Anti-War Demonstrators On May 3, 1972"

... AND here's the Prosecutors' Memo on "Interview with Roger Stone, re: May 3rd Incident."

Beyond the Beltway

Unthinkable But True. Annabel Thompson of ThinkProgress: "On Thursday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) signed a bill that will allow child welfare service providers to decline to provide certain kinds of care based on 'the provider’s sincerely held religious beliefs.' The bill, House Bill 3859, will permit discrimination against LGBTQ couples wishing to adopt children, in addition to allowing LGBTQ children to be placed under the agencies' care in 'religious education.' The bill goes into effect in September. As ThinkProgress noted when the bill passed the Texas House in May, the bill affects not only child placement services (think adoption agencies), but group homes, counseling services, care for abused children, and other resources for children with complicated family situations. The bill will have a broad reach, affecting organizations that provide a wide variety care options for a large number of children." -- CW

Way Beyond

Dan Bilefsky of the New York Times: "The authorities in Britain said on Monday that they were treating an early morning attack near a mosque in London as a possible act of terrorism, amid fears of retaliatory attacks after several recent assaults attributed to Islamist extremists in the country. Neil Basu, the senior national coordinator for counterterrorism at the Metropolitan Police, said that the assailant, whom the police identified as a 48-year-old white man, was believed to have acted alone. Mr. Basu also praised the bystanders who had intervened to detain the suspect, and he urged residents to remain calm and vigilant." CW: Here's a question for you: if a white man had purposely mowed down Muslims coming from prayer in the U.S., as apparently happened here, would our government treat it as an act of terrorism? ...

     ... Update. I Guess Not. Faiz Siddiqui, et al., of the Washington Post: "Police found remains Sunday thought to be those of a missing Virginia teenager who they say was assaulted and disappeared overnight after leaving a mosque in the Sterling area, and a 22-year-old man has been charged with murder in connection with the case.... A possible hate-crime motivation is among the things authorities are investigating, police said." CW: In the U.S., attacks by non-Muslims on Muslims are hate crimes; attacks by Muslims on others are acts of terrorism. ...

... Vikram Dodd of the Guardian: "The people struck were all Muslim, [Neil] Basu said. Witnesses said some of them were wearing clothing that visually identified as such. A witness said the driver had shouted 'I want to kill all Muslims' before onlookers pinned him to the ground." -- CW ...

... Griff Witte of the Washington Post: "Police said early Monday that there were 'a number of casualties' and that one person was arrested after a van struck a crowd of pedestrians in London. The incident occurred just after midnight in the northern part of the city, near the Finsbury Park Mosque. Police said they had closed the adjacent roadway in both directions and were dealing with 'a major incident.' Early witness reports suggested that pedestrians had been struck as they left late-night prayers for the holy month of Ramadan." -- CW ...

... The Guardian has live updates here. -- CW

Angelique Chrisafis of the Guardian: "The French president Emmanuel Macron's new centrist movement has won a large majority in the French parliament, according to the first official results on Sunday night. Macron's fledgling 'neither right nor left' political movement, La République en Marche (La REM), and its smaller centrist ally Democratic Movement (MoDem) needed 289 seats to have an absolute majority in parliament; according to exit polls they were on track to take around 361 seats in the 577-seat national assembly." -- CW

Nasser Karimi of the AP: "Iran's Revolutionary Guard launched missiles into eastern Syria targeting Islamic State militants Sunday in response to an attack on Iran's parliament and a shrine in Tehran, warning that it would similarly retaliate on anyone else carrying out attacks in Iran." -- CW

News Lede

New York Times: "Otto F. Warmbier, an American college student who was released from a North Korean prison last week after spending 17 months in captivity and more than a year in a coma, died on Monday at an Ohio hospital where he was receiving treatment. In a statement, Mr. Warmbier's family said the 22-year-old died on Monday at 2:20 p.m." -- CW

Reader Comments (9)

Soooo...let's see...

We have a Secretary of State who knows more about the price of gas than foreign policy, a Secretary of Defense named Mad Dog, and a moron in the Oval Office who knows less than a half smart high school student about matters of war and peace, but who is ramping up military engagements in Syria and Afghanistan, and who, because he's an ass-covering coward, has abrogated his responsibilities as commander in chief by laying off the decision of sending Americans into harm's way onto the shoulders of the aforementioned Mad Dog.

No doubt he thinks he will then be able to issue a whiny 4 am tweet about how the guy who "ordered" him to send thousands of troops into a war zone fucked up, if it all goes south.

But it's Trump. He's the greatest. What could go wrong by following the lead of a guy who couldn't find either Afghanistan or Syria on a map, has no idea what he's doing, and who's only plan is to win so much we'll all be sick of winning? I mean, look at the stellar job he's done so far.

Sooner or later Trump is going to get his war.

And won't that be nice?

June 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Sorry...whose, not who's. Damn auto correct.

June 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Unthinkable but true .... re-education gulags in Texastan.

June 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGloria

Except for Wendy, and the city of Austin, it seems that Texas has become a third-world country, run by and legislated for nutbrain politicians. Time to prop up/encourage their secession tendencies again...

So: according to the administration-in-Wonderland, Trump is certainly NOT under investigation. Why, how can anyone think that he is? Personally, I want him thrown in a dungeon for refusing to think/speak poorly of the Russians. Maybe the dungeon could be in Texas. (No offense meant to well-meaning liberal TX residents-- they are a minority, and didn't vote for these people--)

June 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

I was wondering this weekend while painting, given that Coates, Rogers, and Sessions all said "mum's the word," could president* Dumpster have had them sign a Non-disclosure Agreement as a condition of their "employment"? He's been know to require NDAs in the past.

June 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

RE: E.J. Dionne's remark about Newt Gingrich's responsibility in the steady decline in our politics. Here is a man who sounds as though he has all the answers, can beguile those desperate for leadership, yet the potion he's selling is laced with poison.
He makes a lot of money with his load of books for sale and his scammy certificate of something or other––a real business guru. Back in the days when he was Speaker it was said that he got rid of old customs that produced a degree of collegiality and of the idea that members of Congress should have a meaningful expertise on issues, assigning them to committees based less on their knowledge of and interest in issue areas than on their ability to raise money from groups with business before the committees in question. And looking back to those days with Tom Delay swinging his dick around and Newt telling members to leave their families back in their districts which changed the way members then operated (for the worst–- it broke down traditions.) And someone said at the time, that you can't run Congress like that, you can't run any institution like that. And the institution broke down; and we got what we got.

@AK: the fact that Trump had delegated troop surge along with any other military decision is, I would think, a clear dereliction of duty. I know Obama was criticized for having both hands on any military decision but no president in history has thrown up both hands and said, "you guys know what you're doing–-I trust you." Yet, as you said, if things go awry Trump will criticize them. It's NEVER his fault–-never.

June 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

PD,

But... but... Le Donald knows more about everything than anybody.

Said so himself:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/04/17-issues-that-donald-trump-knows-better-than-anyone-else-according-to-donald-trump/

He wouldn't kid us... would he?

June 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterD.C.Clark

@D.C.Clark, I see we've been looking at the same WaPo piece!

Trumps overstatements, understatements (rarely), boasting, bragging, lies, lies, and more lies, "19 things Donald Trump knows better than anyone else, ." according to Donald Trump!

15) The military

"There's nobody bigger or better at the military than I am." — June 2015 Fox News interview.

June 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMAG

That new Supreme Court is going to get one hell of an argument from the Confederates' side. Given that Mr. Roberts kneecapped the Voting Rights Activists by declaring "racism is over!", how could racial gerrymandering even exist, let alone benefit one political party over another? And yet, the quandary: can't lean on the ol' "originalist" theory here, since originally those gerrymandered folks were only 3/5 human. We'll, shucks. Surely they'll weasel their way to political skullduggery regardless. They've been doing it before the ink dried on the Constitution...

June 19, 2017 | Unregistered Commentersafari
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