July 2019 News Reports

 

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Editor’s Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative July 2019 news and views

Note: Excerpts are from the authors’ words except for subheads and occasional “Editor’s notes” such as this. 

July 3

U.S. Border Scandalsborder inspector general report june 10 2019 scene in Mcallen

This photo shows caged immigrants at a U.S. detention facility on June 10 in McAllen, Texas (Homeland Security Inspector General’s report).

ny times logoNew York Times, Squalid Conditions at Border Centers Detailed in Government Watchdog Report, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). Overcrowded conditions are more widespread at migrant centers along the southern border than initially revealed, a new report said. ICE logo

The disturbing findings include standing-room-only cells, children without showers and hot meals, and detainees clamoring desperately for release.

Trump Edicts

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Will Look to Add Citizenship Question to Census, Alan Rappeport, Maggie Haberman and Michael Wines, July 3, 2019. Justice Department officials reversed course and said they were hunting for a way to restore the citizenship question on orders of President Trump. A day earlier, the officials said that the census forms were being printed without the question. A day after pledging us census bureauthat the 2020 census would not ask respondents about their citizenship, the Justice Department reversed course on Wednesday and said it was hunting for a way to restore the question on orders from President Trump.

Officials told a federal judge in Maryland that they thought there would be a way to still add the question, despite printing deadlines, and that they would ask the Supreme Court to send the case to district court with instructions to remedy the situation.

President Trump had been frustrated with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for mishandling the White House’s effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, according to an administration official, and said on Wednesday that he was “absolutely moving forward” with plans to add it despite a Supreme Court decision last week rejecting the move.

It was the second time that Mr. Trump said he was directing the Commerce Department to move forward with the plan, which critics contend is part of an administration effort to skew the census results in favor of Republicans. On Tuesday, the Justice Department said that the census forms were being printed without the citizenship question and Mr. Ross said that he was heeding the court’s ruling.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s July 4 Celebration Unsettles Military, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Eric Schmitt and Maggie Haberman, July 3, 2019. President Trump’s plan to deploy battle tanks in Washington for the July 4 celebration has prompted worries about politicization of the military.

With trouble spots from Iran to North Korea, the military’s role in a Fourth of July celebration in Washington should be the least of the Pentagon’s worries.

Yet some retired and active-duty military officers, and, privately, even some Defense Department personnel said the participation of the military in President Trump’s “Salute to America” appears to politicize the armed forces on a day when the nation traditionally toasts its independence in a nonpartisan environment.

“Put troops out there so we can thank them — leave tanks for Red Square,” said Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, a retired four-star Marine general and former head of United States Central Command, who until earlier this year served in the Trump administration as a special envoy to help resolve disputes in the Persian Gulf.

U.S. Politics 

ny times logoNew York Times, President Trump and the Republican National Committee said they raised $105 million, Outdoing Obama, Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee on Tuesday said they had raised $105 million in the second quarter of this year, dwarfing what President Barack Obama raised in the equivalent period during his re-election campaign.

Donald Trump (Defense Department photo by Dominique Pineiro)The campaign and the R.N.C. said they had a combined $100 million in cash on hand, and that they had raised more money online in the second quarter than in the first half of 2018. The staggering total figure can be plowed into television and digital advertising, get-out-the-vote efforts and other activities related to the 2020 election.

rnc logoMr. Trump and his committees raised $54 million, they said, and the R.N.C. raised $51 million. The campaign officials did not say how many individual donors had contributed, or how many gave money in increments of $200 or less. The official report, which will include spending, will be filed with the Federal Election Commission on July 15.

In 2011, during the same period, Mr. Obama’s re-election campaign raised $47 million, and the Democratic National Committee brought in $38 million, Jim Messina, the Obama campaign manager, said at the time.

Mr. Trump’s fund-raising haul is a testament to the more professional operation that his campaign has been running, primarily out of Arlington, Va. In 2016, Mr. Trump poured millions of dollars of his own money into his campaign. But he also raised a considerable amount from small donors online.

Wall Street on Parade, Commentary: Paul Weiss, the Law Firm that Has Represented Citigroup through Serial Fraud Charges, Is the Number One Donor to Democratic Presidential Hopeful Kamala Harris, Pam Martens and Russ Martens, July 3, 2019. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, which keeps meticulous tabs on political campaign flows, as of this morning, the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison – which has represented Citigroup through more than two decades of serial fraud charges – is the number one campaign donor to the Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator Kamala Harris.

As the Center notes, the money isn’t coming from the law firm itself, but from its “PACs; their individual members, employees or owners; and those individuals’ immediate families.”

The campaign ad for Harris reads like this: “Kamala Harris has spent her entire life defending our American values. From fighting to fix our broken criminal justice system to taking on the Wall Street banks for middle class homeowners, Kamala has always worked For The kamala harris debate june 27 2019 filePeople.”

But here we are in the early days of the Democratic primary campaign, when the big money has not even yet entered the fray, and Harris (shown during the debate last week) has already collected $140,475 from the folks at Paul Weiss.

Paul Weiss has offices in New York, Wilmington, Washington D.C., London, Hong Kong, Beijing, Toronto, and Tokyo. Harris hails from California. Why are Paul Weiss lawyers so interested in financing her campaign?

As it turns out, they’re not all that interested. Numerous law partners at Paul Weiss are hedging their bets and contributing simultaneously to other Democratic Presidential candidates.

cory booker headDonations from Paul Weiss also rank number one in the Presidential campaign of Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey (shown at left); number three in the Presidential campaign of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York; number six in the Presidential campaign of Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana; and number 9 in the Presidential campaign of Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

deutsche bank logoThe name Paul Weiss has become synonymous with getting serial miscreant mega banks on Wall Street off the hook or bargaining down the charges. In May of this year, we reported that the Chief Judge for the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York wrote a decision finding that the U.S. Justice Department had outsourced a criminal investigation to the target of the investigation – Deutsche Bank – and Deutsche Bank’s outside law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

Press Crackdown: Brazil

The Guardian, Outcry after reports Brazil plans to investigate Glenn Greenwald, Dom Phillip, July 3, 2019. Federal police reportedly asked glenn greenwald hsmoney laundering unit to investigate the ‘financial activities’ of the US journalist.

Brazil’s Bar Association, journalists and opposition lawmakers have reacted with outrage to reports that the country’s federal police plan to investigate the bank accounts of an American journalist who published leaked conversations between prosecutors and the graft-busting judge who is now Jair Bolsonaro’s justice minister.

The rightwing site the Antagonist (O Antagonista) reported on Tuesday that federal police had asked a money-laundering unit at Brazil’s finance ministry to investigate the “financial activities” of Glenn Greenwald.

brazil flag wavingPolice declined to comment on the allegation but confirmed an investigation had been launched into the hacking of cellphones that led to the leaks.

“This seems to me like an attempt to intimidate the journalist,” said Kennedy Alencar, a leading political commentator on CBN Radio.
Brazil reels at claims judge who jailed Lula collaborated with prosecutors
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“If there is an investigation for doing journalism it is illegal and it is an attempt at intimidation,” said Pierpaolo Bottini, a professor of penal law at the University of São Paulo who heads the press freedom unit at the Brazilian Bar Association.

Greenwald, who lives in Rio de Janeiro, won a Pulitzer prize for leading the Guardian’s reporting on National Security Agency (NSA) spying revealed by Edward Snowden before co-founding the Intercept website in 2014.

Last month, the publication’s Brazilian edition launched the first in a string of bombshell articles which appeared to show prosecutors in the sweeping Operation Car Wash corruption inquiry colluding with Sérgio Moro, the judge who became a hero in Brazil for jailing powerful businessmen, middlemen and politicians.

The leaked records – which the Intercept said it received from an anonymous source – have had an explosive impact on Brazilian politics and dominated headlines for weeks.

Epstein Sex Scandal Cover-up

jeffrey epstein sex offenderMiami Herald, An appeals court seemed poised to unseal Jeffrey Epstein records. So where are they?, Julie K. Brown, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). Three months have passed since a judicial panel in New York heard arguments to unseal documents that could reveal whether federal prosecutors covered up evidence that New York financier Jeffrey Epstein and others were running an underage sex trafficking operation.

miami herald logoIn March, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit seemed poised to release some documents in the case. The records involve Epstein’s one-time partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, who has been accused of helping him recruit and sexually exploit girls and young women in various locations around the United States and abroad in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The appeals panel gave all parties in the case until March 29 to file additional pleadings. Several challenges were subsequently filed, but the court has yet to make a final ruling.

perversion of justice miami herald logoThe Miami Herald — one of the intervenors in the case — has submitted a letter to the court urging the judges to follow through on the case in the wake of a controversial Justice Department decision last week. In a 35-page motion, filed June 24, federal prosecutors in Georgia declared that they would not set aside Epstein’s federal non-prosecution agreement.

The Georgia decision dealt another blow to Epstein’s victims who have been fighting for a decade to have the deal thrown out and to pressure the Justice Department to prosecute the 66-year-old multimillionaire on sex trafficking charges. It also means that the Justice Department has no intention of allowing Epstein’s victims and the public to examine the facts of Epstein’s case and reach their own conclusions, the Herald argues in the letter.

perversion of justice miami herald logoMiami Herald, Epstein Scandal Video Summary, Marta Oliver Craviotto, Emily Michot, Julie K. Brown, July 3, 2019 (5 min. miami herald logovideo). The girls who were abused by Jeffrey Epstein and the cops who championed their cause remain angry over what they regard as a gross injustice, while Epstein’s employees and those who engineered his non-prosecution agreement have prospered.

U.S. Military Crime, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Navy SEAL Chief Is Found Not Guilty of Murder, Dave Philipps, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). In a war-crimes trial that roiled the elite Navy SEALs and drew the attention of President Trump, a decorated eight-tour SEAL platoon leader was found not guilty on Tuesday of first-degree murder of a captive ISIS fighter and attempted murder of civilians in Iraq.

edward gallagherBut the platoon leader, Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, was convicted of one charge: posing for photos with the teenage captive’s dead body.

Chief Gallagher, 40, right, who was serving with SEAL Team 7, became a rallying cause of some Republicans in Congress and members of the conservative media. Mr. Trump said on Twitter in March that he would have the chief released from pretrial confinement “in honor of his past service to our country.”

Because the maximum sentence Chief Gallagher could now face is four months, and he has spent more time than that in pretrial confinement, he was expected to go free on Tuesday.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats sue for Trump’s tax returns, Jeff Stein and Rachael Bade​, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has denied multiple requests for the records, which the president refused to release during the 2016 presidential campaign.

irs logoHouse Democrats filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court seeking access to President Trump’s tax returns, accusing the Trump administration of an “extraordinary attack” on Congress in preventing the disclosure of the president’s personal financial records.

Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, filed the lawsuit against the steven mnuchin wInternal Revenue Service and the Treasury Department after months of feuding with the administration over the returns.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, who have denied Democrats’ demands for the returns, are named as defendants.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Pick to Lead F.A.A. Faces Scrutiny From Senate Democrats, David Gelles, July 3, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump’s choice to lead the Federal Aviation Administration is facing resistance from Senate Democrats, adding more uncertainty to an agency already under pressure after the deadly crashes of two Boeing jets.

faa logoStephen Dickson, whom Mr. Trump tapped to lead the F.A.A. in March, retired from Delta Air Lines last fall after 27 years at the company. A former pilot who rose to become senior vice president for flight operations, Mr. Dickson was initially seen as a safe pick to head the F.A.A., which has been without a permanent administrator for over a year.

But in recent weeks, Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee, which has the power to advance Mr. Dickson’s nomination, have seized on Mr. Dickson’s involvement in a whistle-blower case at Delta. The Democrats are looking into claims that Mr. Dickson was involved in retaliating against a pilot who raised safety concerns, with some senators now suggesting he may be unfit for the F.A.A. job.

Republicans on the committee are still publicly supporting Mr. Dickson, and could vote to advance his nomination to the full Senate as early as next week. But the party-line split, a rarity for this agency, raises the prospect that the F.A.A. could become yet another partisan battleground.

Trump’s July 4 Display

wayne madesen report logoWayne Madsen (WMR), Opinion: On the anniversary of U.S. independence, a Nazi shadow is cast across the land, Wayne Madsen, July 3, 2019 (Subscription required, excerpted with permission). During an ego-fellating interview with Donald Trump in Japan, Fox News opinion show host and unofficial Trump national security adviser Tucker Carlson and Trump discussed America’s homeless population and agreed that it should be called “filth.”

This sort of language goes far beyond the fascist antics of Trump politicizing Washington, DC’s annual Independence Day ceremony and turning into a political rally and military show-of-force for his crackpot and racist supporters.

Calling homeless people “filth” – Trump did add that some homeless are mentally ill, a wink and a nod to them being useless members of society – comes right out of the playbook of Nazi genocide engineers like Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichmann, and Dr. Josef Mengele.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s hijacking of the Fourth of July just got a lot uglier, Greg Sargent, July 3, 2019. New details are emerging about Trump’s plans. The Post reports that the National Park Service will now divert millions of dollars previously earmarked to improve parks across the country to fund Trump’s celebration on the Mall.

Meanwhile, a White House official tells The Post that the plans include a plane from Air Force One’s fleet soaring overhead at precisely the moment that Trump takes the stage. Tanks will take part in the display.

As many critics have pointed out, by politicizing the Fourth of July so nakedly, Trump has inevitably transformed the celebration into a campaign event. It remains to be seen whether he will do so explicitly in his speech, but either way, that conversion has already been implicitly accomplished.

It’s the melding of that fact with the particular display Trump is putting on that makes this so ugly. The showcasing of military might, Trump’s association of himself with it, and the unabashed conversion of a paean to the nation’s founding into a reelection event — what it all amounts to is larger than the sum of its parts.

The naked audacity of the usurpation is itself the point. That Democrats and liberals are getting trolled into expressions of outrage over it only reinforces that point to greater effect.

July 2

Inside DC

ny times logous census bureauNew York Times, Citizenship Question Won’t Be on 2020 Census Forms as U.S. Drops Fight, Michael Wines, July 2, 2019. The Trump administration said that it would be printing forms for the 2020 census without a question asking about citizenship. It is unclear what prompted the decision, which is a remarkable retreat for an administration that typically refuses to give up.

washington post logoWashington Post, Park Service diverts $2.5 million in fees for Trump’s July Fourth extravaganza, Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey and Dan Lamothe, July 2, 2019. The National Park Service is diverting nearly $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees primarily intended to improve parks across the country to cover costs associated with President Trump’s Independence Day celebration Thursday on the Mall, according to two individuals familiar with the arrangement.

Trump administration officials have consistently refused to say how much taxpayers will have to pay for the expanded celebration on the Mall this year, which the president has dubbed the “Salute to America.” The two individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, confirmed the transfer of the Park Service funds Tuesday.

Donald Trump (Gage Skidmore portrait)The diverted park fees represent just a fraction of the extra costs the government faces as a result of the event, which will include displays of military hardware, flyovers by an array of jets including Air Force One, the deployment of tanks on the Mall and an extended pyrotechnics show. By comparison, according to former Park Service deputy director Denis P. Galvin, the entire Fourth of July celebration on the Mall typically costs the agency about $2 million.

For Trump’s planned speech at the Lincoln Memorial, the White House is distributing VIP tickets to Republican donors and political appointees, prompting objections from Democratic lawmakers who argue that the president has turned the annual celebration into a campaign-like event.

The Republican National Committee and Trump’s reelection campaign confirmed Tuesday that they had received passes they were handing out for the event.

Workers set up for President Trump’s “Salute to America” July Fourth event at the Lincoln Memorial. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” Sen. Tom Udall (N.M.), the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the interior, environment and related agencies, said in a phone interview. “No ticketed political event should be paid for with taxpayer dollars.”

Even as some critics questioned the White House’s handling of access to the Lincoln Memorial, officials from the Pentagon and the Interior Department were scrambling to transform Trump’s vision of an elaborate military and pyrotechnics display into reality.

Two Abrams tanks, two Bradley Fighting Vehicles and an M88 recovery vehicle sat on train tracks in Southeast Washington on Tuesday, destined for the Mall. Administration officials were finalizing aspects of Thursday’s schedule, according to a senior White House official, including a plan to have one of the planes in Air Force One’s fleet zoom overhead as Trump takes the stage.

Separately, according to two individuals familiar with the matter, the White House was negotiating with Park Service officials over whether to project an image from the 1969 Apollo 11 moon mission onto the Washington Monument for the event. Typically the agency does not allow projected images on monuments or historic structures, on the grounds that they should be preserved in their original form.

HuffPost, RNC Giving Out Tickets To Trump’s Hijacked Fourth Of July Celebration, S.V. Date, July 2, 2019. hat had been a nonpolitical, nonpartisan celebration on the National Mall will now likely be a multimillion-dollar, taxpayer-financed political rally, critics worry. President Donald Trump has hijacked what for decades had been a nonpolitical Independence Day celebration on the National Mall, packing his ticketed-event speech with political appointees and Republican donors.

rnc logoThe Republican National Committee has been offering major donors tickets to Trump’s speech, as have political appointees at the White House and executive branch agencies.

“He’s going to have tanks out there. It’s going to be cool,” joked one RNC fundraiser on condition of anonymity. He said he received an offer for the free tickets on Friday but did not request any. “He wants to have a parade like they have in Moscow or China or North Korea.”

Trump has been enamored of public displays of military might since he attended the Bastille Day festivities in Paris in 2017. His plan for a massive military parade last year was canceled after a Defense Department estimate became public showing that it would cost $92 million and damage the city’s roads because of the weight of tanks and other equipment.

The current plans for Thursday do not include a parade, but Trump is still pushing for tanks or other military vehicles to be displayed on the National Mall, The Washington Post reported, even though their weight is liable to damage the grass and roads. Flyovers by military planes ― including Air Force One and the Navy’s Blue Angels squadron ― are also planned.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University history professor and expert on fascism, said Trump’s need to display military hardware is a feature of authoritarians throughout history. “He needs to colonize our lives. He needs to colonize our public spaces,” she said, adding that it was “dismaying” that the Pentagon this year failed to thwart Trump’s impulses. “The military has been domesticated. I think the will to resist him has evaporated.”

Groups that advocate for government transparency and ethics, meanwhile, railed against the RNC’s involvement. “This partisan appropriation of a public event is consistent with the record of an administration that has no regard for lines between personal or partisan interests and its public obligations,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization.

Hate Factions Among U.S. Patrols?

border agents aoc nydaily news july2 2019 Custom 3

The border agent scandal, as portrayed by the New York Daily News front page of July 2, 2019.

washington post logoWashington Post, Racist, sexist posts targeted Ocasio-Cortez, immigrants, Eli Rosenberg, July 2, 2019. Federal officials are investigating whether agents participated in a private Facebook group for Border Patrol employees that hosted racist, sexist and sexually violent memes about immigrants and officials such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez after a report by the investigative site ProPublica.

Matthew Klein, an assistant commissioner at U.S. Customs and Border Protection, called the Facebook group’s posts “disturbing” and said that the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, of which CBP is a part, began an investigation.

The posts on the private group, which says it is for current and former Border Patrol agents, included caustic remarks about the deaths of migrants, sexually explicit images edited to include Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and xenophobic asides and comments, according to ProPublica. The Washington Post was not able to confirm the existence of the group, called “I’m 10-15,” after the law enforcement code for “aliens in custody.” The private group is not visible to people who aren’t members.

Related story: Washington Post, Lawmakers condemn ‘vulgar’ posts in border agents’ secret Facebook group, Robert Moore, Mike DeBonis and John Wagner, July 2, 2019 (print ed.). The postings sparked special outrage among a delegation of more than a dozen House members who toured two detention centers in Texas.

Global News

washington post logoindia flag mapWashington Post, As a major Indian city runs out of water, 9 million people pray for rain, Niha Masih and Joanna Slater, July 2, 2019 (print ed.). Chennai is struggling with an acute water shortage.

Moon of Alabama, Opinion: No, Iran Is Not Rushing To Build A Nuclear Weapon, B, July 2, 2019. John Mearsheimer is a political science scholar who adheres to the realist school of thought. He developed a theory of offensive realism that at times produces valid predictions of the behavior of some states. But his theory does not account for cultural factors and its predictions fail when these predominate in a state’s decisions.

His ridiculous op-ed in today’s New York Times is proof for that. If Iran destroys the loading stations for oil along the western Persian Gulf coast with conventional ballistic missiles it would slow the flow of oil to a trickle. Additional attacks on tankers would bring it to effectively zero. There are no nukes needed to achieve either.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s hard-line approach appears to soften in meetings with world leaders, Anne Gearan, Robert Costa and David J. Lynch, July 2, 2019 (print ed.). President Trump has dismissed criticism that he is failing to make big deals, arguing that his patience and relationship-building will pay off for the country.

washington post logoWashington Post, Cleanup begins in Hong Kong after night of anger against the government, Timothy McLaughlin and Shibani Mahtani​, July 2, 2019. The resulting damage of protesters’ successful bid to storm and briefly occupy the legislature were on full display for anyone passing by the building.

U.S. Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Do the Republicans Even Believe in Democracy Anymore? Michael Tomasky, July 2, 2019 (print ed.). They pay lip service to it, but they actively try to undermine its institutions.

rnc logoA number of observers, myself included, have written pieces in recent years arguing that the Republican Party is no longer simply trying to compete with and defeat the Democratic Party on a level playing field. Today, rather than simply playing the game, the Republicans are simultaneously trying to rig the game’s rules so that they never lose.

The aggressive gerrymandering, which the Supreme Court just declared to be a matter beyond its purview; the voter suppression schemes; the dubious proposals that haven’t gone anywhere — yet — like trying to award presidential electoral votes by congressional district rather than by state, a scheme that Republicans in five states considered after the 2012 election and that is still discussed: These are not ideas aimed at invigorating democracy. They are hatched and executed for the express purpose of essentially fixing elections.

We have been brought up to believe that American political parties are the same — that they are similar creatures with similar traits and similar ways of behaving. Political science spent decades teaching us this. The idea that one party has become so radically different from the other, despite mountains of evidence, is a tough sell.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats request White House communications sent via personal email, Rachael Bade, July 2, 2019 (print ed.). House Democrats are asking the White House for copies of all work communications sent via personal email, personal cellphone and other forms of nonofficial transmission in an expansion of their investigation into whether Trump administration officials violated federal record-keeping laws.

The House Oversight Committee on Monday said the step was necessary “after six months of White House stonewalling” on the matter. This year, Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) asked the administration about reports that some top White House officials — including President Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner — used personal email and encrypted applications to communicate.

Such communications are against record-keeping laws unless they are forwarded to and stored on official channels. The White House, however, has refused to tell the committee about the results of its own internal investigation of the matter, Democrats say. The panel wants copies of all emails that did not comply with this law.

U.S. Crime, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Teenager From ‘Good Family’ Deserves Leniency in Rape Case, Judge Says, Luis Ferré-Sadurní, July 2, 2019. The 16-year-old girl was visibly intoxicated, her speech slurred, when a drunk 16-year-old boy sexually assaulted her in a dark basement during an alcohol-fueled pajama party in New Jersey, prosecutors said.

The boy filmed himself penetrating her from behind, her torso exposed, her head hanging down, prosecutors said. He later shared the cellphone video among friends, investigators said, and sent a text that said, “When your first time having sex was rape.”

But a family court judge said it wasn’t rape. Instead, he wondered aloud if it was sexual assault, defining rape as something reserved for an attack at gunpoint by strangers.

He also said the young man came from a good family, attended an excellent school, had terrific grades and was an Eagle scout. Prosecutors, the judge said, should have explained to the girl and her family that pressing charges would destroy the boy’s life.

So he denied prosecutors’ motion to try the 16-year-old as an adult. “He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college,” Judge James Troiano of Superior Court said last year in a two-hour decision while sitting in Monmouth County.

Now the judge has been sharply rebuked by an appeals court in a scathing 14-page ruling that warned the judge against showing bias toward privileged teenagers.

Trump Wants Tanks For Fourth Show

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump asks for military tanks on the Mall as part of grandiose July 4 event, Juliet Eilperin and Josh Dawsey​, July 2, 2019 (print ed.). Officials are scrambling to finalize plans for the “Salute to America” celebration, which will also include jet flyovers, fireworks and a VIP section for the president’s speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

National Park Service acting director P. Daniel Smith faces plenty of looming priorities this summer, from an $11 billion backlog in maintenance needs to natural disasters like the recent wildfire damage to Big Bend Park.

But in recent days, another issue has competed for Smith’s attention: how to satisfy President Trump’s request to station tanks or other armored military vehicles on the Mall for his planned Fourth of July address to the nation.

The ongoing negotiations over whether to use massive military hardware, such as Abrams tanks or Bradley Fighting Vehicles , as a prop for Trump’s “Salute to America” is just one of many unfinished details when it comes to the celebration planned for Thursday, according to several people briefed on the plan, who requested anonymity to speak frankly.

Associated Press, The Latest: Tanks arrive in DC ahead of July 4 celebration, Staff report, July 2, 2019. At least two Army tanks have arrived ap logoin Washington ahead of a Fourth of July celebration that President Donald Trump says will include military hardware.

An Associated Press photographer says the two M1A1 Abrams tanks are with four other military vehicles on a freight train in a railyard at the southeastern edge of Washington. The vehicles are being guarded by military police but are visible to passers-by on nearby paths. A military official earlier told the AP that the tanks were transported north from Fort Stewart in Georgia.

More U.S. Politics

Palmer Report, Opinion: What the polls really tell us about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris after the democratic debate, Bill Palmer, July 2, joe biden kamala harris2019. Three major credible polls have been conducted and published since the debate took place. Just as Palmer Report predicted, all three of them show that Joe Biden is still in first place overall. Any pundits who claimed that the debate would be a “knockout blow” for Biden, or that Harris would catapult twenty-five points into first place based on one debate performance alone, were clearly spewing hyperbole; nothing shifts that dramatically that quickly, particularly this early on. What’s interesting is the spread when it comes to these three polls.

bill palmer report logo headerThe new CNN poll says that Joe Biden is now just five points ahead of Kamala Harris, who has climbed into second place. This poll would signal a seismic shift in the democratic field – if the other new polls were telling us the same thing. But while most news outlets and pundits are jumping on the CNN poll because it’s so ratings-worthy, the other two polls point to more of the status quo. The new Morning Consult poll says that Biden has a twenty-one point lead over Harris, while the new The Hill poll has Biden up by twenty-two points over Harris.

So which of these three widely varying polls should we believe? Statistically speaking, either all of them or none of them. Polls always vary from each other based on methodology and other factors. Those variances tend to be far sharper from one poll to the next immediately after a major event has taken place, such as a debate.

U.S. Politics

washington post logoej dionne w open neckWashington Post, Opinion: The 2020 issue that matters is democracy itself, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, July 1, 2019. The future of U.S. democracy will be on the ballot next year. No one should pretend otherwise. We witnessed President Trump’s obvious disdain for democratic rights and liberties once again last week during his warm encounter in Japan with Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

And the Supreme Court’s partisan, antidemocratic decision on gerrymandering, written by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoJr., showed how dangerous it would be to expand a right-wing majority hellbent on making our system less inclusive, less fair and less equal.

democratic donkey logoFor these reasons, Democratic primary voters should not be knocked for making “electability” their highest criterion in picking a presidential candidate.

Of course, judging who is most likely to win is a difficult and rather subjective enterprise. And this calculation must not be a cover for sexism. But Democrats have no room for error. They need to avoid the sectarian infighting for which their party is famous and find a candidate who can excite turnout while also demonstrating broad reach and political savvy.

wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped SmallWayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Another first: America’s senior past president believes current president is illegitimate, Wayne Madsen (shown in a file photo), July 1, 2019 (subscription required). During a human rights panel sponsored by his Carter Center at the Lansdowne conference facility in Leesburg, Virginia, former President Jimmy Carter called Donald Trump is an illegitimate president.

jimmy carter portrait deftnewsThe Carter Center specializes in monitoring and assisting in the free and fair conducting of elections worldwide. Carter based his opinion on foreign usurpation of Trump’s campaign and his election on the conclusion by 16 U.S. intelligence agencies that Russians interfered in the election on behalf of Trump.

His vice president Walter Mondale suggested that Trump suffers from other issues, those that would make him ineligible to continuing serving in office. Mondale said of Trump, “He’s got something deep in him that is detestable . . . his rhetoric, his harshness, his divisiveness . . . Doctors tell me they think they recognize symptoms of psychological problems.”

FBI’s Russia Probe

washington post logoWashington Post, Professor’s tip about ‘dirt’ on Hillary Clinton spurred Russia probe, officials said. Then he vanished, Rosalind S. fbi logoHelderman, Shane Harris and Ellen Nakashima, July 1, 2019 (print ed.). With Attorney General William P. Barr’s review of the FBI’s investigation underway, the origins of the inquiry itself are in the spotlight — and with them, the role of Joseph Mifsud, who has vanished from public view.

9/11 Researchers Seek Response

Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, Lawyers’ Committee To File Mandamus Petition as U.S. Attorney Declines to Disclose Status of 9/11 Grand Jury Proceeding, Staff report, July 1, 2019. The Lawyers’ Committee is preparing to file a mandamus petition prior to the upcoming anniversary of 9/11 to seek confirmation that a federal grand jury is investigating new evidence regarding the 9/11 attacks.

The.executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, David Meiswinkle, and the Lawyers’ Committee’s litigation director, Mick Harrison spoke last month by telephone with Michael Ferrara, the chief of the terrorism unit of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

Fatal Afghan Bombing

ny times logoNew York Times, Kabul Bombing Kills at Least 40 as Taliban Talks Continue, Fatima Faizi, Rod Nordland and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, July 1, 2019. A complex attack in Afghanistan badly damaged a war museum and TV station, officials said. Militants are still holed up in a nearby building. The attack came as American and Taliban negotiators were meeting in Qatar amid hopes for a deal on a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Global Trade / Freedom

djt xiFuture of Freedom Foundation, Opinion: Trump’s Socialist Mindset on Trade, Jacob G. Hornberger, right, July 1, 2019. In announcing that the jacob hornberger newU.S. and China are resuming trade talk, President Trump (shown meeting with China’s president) demonstrated the socialist mindset that afflicts him and his fellow Republicans and, for that matter, the Democrats as well. Trump said that during the negotiations, the United States would keep a 25 percent duty on $250 billion of Chinese goods and that he would give China a list of U.S. products to buy.

A list of U.S. products to buy? How in the world does Trump come up with such a list? How does he know what China wants? What if China isn’t interested in buying those particular things? It doesn’t matter, at least not to Trump. What matters to him is that he knows which particular U.S. products he wants sold and is forcing China to buy them as part of the agreement to return to the negotiating table.

It would be difficult to find a better example of the mindset of a central planner than that. Under a free-market system, people are free to buy whatever they want to buy. They make the choice, not the

How does Trump decide which American products and sellers make his favorites list? Politics, of course. We have a presidential election coming up. Trump is no dummy. Like his Democratic opponents, he has to start passing out the political candy in order to get votes. Therefore, the people who are going to make the list are those who stand a good chance at helping him get elected. Among the privileged will almost certainly be those American farmers who Trump has bankrupted or severely damaged economically with his trade war.

To ease the economic destruction that he has wrought on them, Trump ended up putting them on welfare. Undoubtedly he will put them on his favorites list so that he can proclaim, “Look what I have done for you. I bankrupted you but I put you on welfare and also on my favorites list that forced the Chinese to buy your products. We are winning my trade war and we are making America great again!”

The losers in all this trade mayhem? Both the American people and the Chinese people. Among American losers are the businesses that have been bankrupted or severely damaged by Trump’s trade antics. Also losing are American consumers, who Trump has forced to pay higher prices for items they wish to purchase.

Strategic Culture Foundation, Analysis: Qatar Holds Its Own Against Saudi-Emirati Axis, Wayne Madsen, July 1, 2019. For a small peninsular nation surrounded by hostile neighbors, Qatar is holding its own against an economic, military, and diplomatic axis led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Initially, Qatar was once a valued member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), formally called the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, an organization of Persian Gulf monarchies formed in 1981 as a bulwark against the Islamic Republic of Iran. As denoted by its formal title, the GCC is a solely Arab alliance composed of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman, and as such, non-Arab Iran was not welcome as a member.

More U.S. Politics

2020 Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Kamal Harris on June 28, 2019 ( left to right, screengrab).

2020 Democratic Presidential candidates Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Kamal Harris on June 28, 2019 ( left to right, screengrab).

Presidential Politico, ‘Her ambition got it wrong about Joe’: Harris faces debate backlash, Natasha Korecki and Carla Marinucci, July 1, 2019. Kamala Harris might be reveling in her sudden burst of attention after roasting Joe Biden over racial issues on the debate stage last week, but a backlash is already brewing.

Biden supporters and Democrats who have attended the former vice president’s events in the days after the first nationally televised debate, are describing Harris’ assault on Biden as an all-too-calculated overreach after she knocked him on his heels in a grilling over busing and his remarks on segregationist senators.

“She played low ball, which was out of character. And he didn’t expect it, nor did I,” said Lee White, a Biden supporter who attended his remarks at the Jesse Jackson Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “She should not have gone that route. She’s much too intelligent, she’s been able to be successful thus far, why do you have to do that.” White, who is African American, said of the underlying segregationist issues Harris attacked: “I thought it was old news.”

One major Biden supporter from California who declined to be named for publication said Harris’ direct attack on Biden was a mistake that would haunt her.

“It’s going to bite her in the ass,” the supporter noted. “Very early on there was buzz … Biden-Kamala is the dream ticket, the best of both worlds.’’

After this week, “That shit ain’t happening.”

The criticism of Harris over her rough treatment of Biden is among the first signs of backlash — including in her home state — against the California Democrat who had a breakout moment in the first presidential debate.

It’s also a sign of the goodwill and loyalty that many still feel toward that the vice president, who has managed to keep many of his backers in his camp, even amid criticism of what was roundly viewed as a subpar debate performance. Indeed, sources say Biden walked away with a $1 million haul after two fundraisers in San Francisco alone this weekend.

“We can be proud of her nonetheless, but her ambition got it wrong about Joe,” said former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, the first African American woman to serve in the Senate who has endorsed Biden in the 2020 primary. “He is about the best there is; for her to take that tack is sad.”

Harris stunned Biden in the debate, knocking him back on his heels by noting his past “hurtful” efforts to work with segregationists and what she defined as his opposition to school busing. Harris’ emotional recounting of her own experience in the Berkeley school district as a child who was bused to more segregated schools — “that girl was me,’’ she said — became a defining debate moment, and bruised Biden’s status as the Democratic front-runner.

But one of Biden’s supporters called the attack by Harris “too cute by half” after her campaign tweeted out — and quickly began merchandising — a photo of Harris as a young girl. “Couldn’t they at least pretend that it was semi-organic?” the Biden supporter asked, referring to the planned nature of Harris’ debate night ambush.

Assange Prosecution

OpEdNews, Opinion: The Torture of Julian Assange, Paul Craig Roberts, July 1, 2019. In a few days July 4th will be upon us. We will hear paul craig roberts head sternendless nonsense from insouciant speakers and editorialists about what a great democracy we are, having won our freedom from being a British colony.

One thing the United States most certainly is not is a democracy. A democracy requires an informed electorate, and the United States most certainly does not have an informed electorate. The American media, indeed, the entirety of the Western print and TV media, functions as a Propaganda Ministry for Washington and the ruling oligarchies. The explanations are controlled to serve the agendas of the ruling elites. The persecution and torture of Julian Assange proves conclusively that the First Amendment is a dead-letter Amendment.

Without an honest Fourth Estate it is impossible to prevent a democracy from becoming a tyranny. In America tyranny is far advanced. Suppose that Americans somehow became aware of the truth about Julian Assange’s total innocence that has been disclosed by Nils Melzer, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. What could they do about it, short of violent revolution and complete elimination of the ruling elites?

Formerly, the US Constitution was revered, but today even law faculties and judges see the Constitution as something to find a way around. The vast majority of Americans themselves have no idea that the Constitution is the bulwark of their independence and liberty.

nils melzer un photoNils Melzer (shown in a United Nations photo) describes how his investigation of Assange’s treatment liberated him from the totally false picture that has been created in order to establish the legal precedent that government crimes against humanity cannot be revealed. In the “American Democracy,” the people are not permitted to know.

“In the end it finally dawned on me that I had been blinded by propaganda, and that Assange had been systematically slandered to divert attention from the crimes he exposed. Once he had been dehumanized through isolation, ridicule and shame, just like the witches we used to burn at the stake, it was easy to deprive him of his most fundamental rights without provoking public outrage worldwide. And thus, a legal precedent is being set, through the backdoor of our own complacency, which in the future can and will be applied just as well to disclosures by The Guardian, the New York Times and ABC News.

“Even so, you may say, why spend so much breath on Assange, when countless others are tortured worldwide? Because this is not only about protecting Assange, but about preventing a precedent likely to seal the fate of Western democracy. For once telling the truth has become a crime, while the powerful enjoy impunity, it will be too late to correct the course. We will have surrendered our voice to censorship and our fate to unrestrained tyranny.

“This Op-Ed has been offered for publication to the Guardian, The Times, the Financial Times, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian, the Canberra Times, the Telegraph, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and Newsweek.

None responded positively.”

Nils Melzer is a Swiss academic, author and practitioner in the field of international law. Since 1 November 2016, Melzer has been serving as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Ivanka Seeks Center Stage

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Surreal’: Ivanka Trump plays a prominent role in her father’s historic Korea trip, Anne Gearan, July 1, 2019 (print ed.). ivanka trump in 2011Both at the G-20 summit in Japan and in South Korea, where she crossed over into the North, President Trump’s daughter was everywhere.

She pronounced the short walk to the other side of one of the world’s most fortified borders “surreal.”

Previously, at the Group of 20 economic summit in Japan, Ivanka Trump was everywhere — at her father’s side at times when other leaders’ spouses were present (first lady Melania Trump skipped the trip), in meetings where her presence puzzled other participants, and even giving an awkward video “readout” of Trump’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Hong Kong Protests

washington post logochina flag SmallWashington Post, Hong Kong protesters storm parliament on anniversary of return to China, Shibani Mahtani​, July 1, 2019. Demonstrators tore up fencing and smashed windows of the building, prompting the territory’s legislative council to issue its first “red alert” demanding that everyone leave the area immediately.

Police Raid Columnist’s Home

washington post logoWashington Post, Columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. handcuffed after hoax 911 call, authorities say, Martin Weil, July 1, 2019 (print ed.). Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist Leonard G. Pitts Jr. said he was awakened early Sunday by police who ordered him out of his Bowie, Md., home and handcuffed him while they investigated a report that a crime was being committed in the house.

leonard pitts Jr pulitzerThe report, made to Bowie police by telephone, was determined to be false. Pitts, 61, writes a column for the Miami Herald that deals with national issues and that appears in about 250 papers. He won the Pulitzer for commentary in 2004.

Pitts said he had no idea who might have made the call that prompted police to wake him from a sound sleep at 4:48 a.m. He said police told him that they had received a 911 call indicating that his wife or possibly another person was “being murdered” in the house. He said he was instructed to come out of the house, while remaining on his cellphone, and was ordered to his knees and handcuffed.

His wife and other family members emerged from the house, and police asked to check the house, satisfying themselves that there “were no corpses,” Pitts said. He said police apologized to him.

 

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