FOSTA and SESTA

Work is Work

And you’re waaay too obsessed about sex. Makes me think you’ve never had any you freakish Incel.

Cartnoon

The thing about my jokes is, they amuse me.

The Breakfast Club (Improbable Truth)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy sign the ‘Pact of Steel’; Richard Nixon is the first U.S. president to visit the Soviet Union; Actor Laurence Olivier born; Johnny Carson hosts his last ‘Tonight Show.’

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. Arthur Conan Doyle

Continue reading

Six In The Morning Wednesday 22 May 2019

 

A look inside Huawei, China’s tech giant

Photographs by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
Story by Kyle Almond, CNN

The Chinese company Huawei is one of the giants of the tech industry. It’s the world’s largest provider of telecommunications equipment, a leader in next-generation 5G technology, and last year it passed Apple to become the second-biggest smartphone seller in the world.

But to many, especially in the West, there’s still an air of mystery around it.

And in the United States, suspicion.

Far-right Facebook groups ‘spreading hate to millions in Europe’

Avaaz uncovers 500 accounts using fake news to spread white supremacy message

A web of far-right Facebook accounts spreading fake news and hate speech to millions of people across Europe has been uncovered by the campaign group Avaaz.

Facebook, which is struggling to clean up the platform and salvage its reputation, has already taken down accounts with about 6 million followers before voting in the European elections begins on Thursday. It was still investigating hundreds of other accounts with an additional 26 million followers, Avaaz said.

In total, the group reported more than 500 suspect groups and Facebookpages operating across France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Poland and Spain. Most were either spreading fake news or using false pages and profiles to artificially boost the content of parties or sites they supported, in violation of Facebook’s rules.

Philippines election: Duterte wins backing for authoritarian regime with midterms victory

The Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte won a convincing victory in midterm elections that were seen as a referendum on his controversial administration, official results show.

Announcing the tally of results that was delayed by glitches in the automated counting machines, election officials said the winners included nine candidates backed by Mr Duterte for the 12 Senate seats up for grabs. The other three went to independents.

Only half the upper house’s 24 seats were being contested at this election, alongside positions for a total of 18,000 mayors, governors and local officials.

Eternal PoisonVietnam’s Ongoing Fight Against Agent Orange

Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese suffer from gene mutations resulting from the Americans’ use of Agent Orange during the war. Birth defects are still a regular occurrence. Now, 44 years later, the U.S. has suddenly pledged more aid.

By   and Hai Thanh (Photos)

Once the war came to an end, former Vietcong fighter Nguyen Van Bat fathered four children. Three of them suffer from memory loss, as does he. The fourth, Nguyen Thanh, spends most of her time in bed staring into nothingness.

Nguyen Van Bat, 69, is sitting in the living space of his bungalow in the city of Bien Hoa, around an hour’s drive north of Ho Chi Minh City. He is barefoot and the pattern of his shirt has faded. It smells faintly of sewage in the semi-open room and clothes hang in garbage bags above shared beds. The family is unable to afford wardrobes: They must bear the costs of caring for their disabled children largely on their own.

Protesters killed in clashes over elections, soldiers on the street in Jakarta

By Karuni Rompies

Updated

Six people have been killed on the streets of Jakarta while protesting against the election victory of Indonesian president Joko Widodo in the worst political violence in the country in decades.

National police chief Tito Karnavian late yesterday confirmed reports that people had died, but urged Indonesians not to immediately conclude that they had been killed by riot police.

In the days leading up to the protest, he said a number of weapons had been found among people planning to protest. He urged Indonesians to “remain calm and not to be provoked”.

Brexit: PM under fire over new Brexit plan

Theresa May will make the case for her new Brexit plan in Parliament later, amid signs that Conservative opposition to her leadership is hardening.

The prime minister will outline changes to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill – including a promise to give MPs a vote on holding another referendum.

But shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said the offer was “too weak”.

Some senior Tories will today ask party bosses for a rule change to allow a no-confidence vote in her leadership.

 

 

 

 

Dominoes

You know, not everyone knows how to play.

To begin the dominoes are placed face down and “shuffled.” Players draw one domino. The player drawing the highest double or if no double, the highest domino plays first. Re-shuffle and then begin drawing the first hand.

Each player then draws seven dominoes for his hand. The remaining dominoes (the boneyard), if any, are left face down on the table to be drawn later if a player is unable to play from his hand.

The player who drew the highest double or the highest domino plays first, playing any domino he wishes from his hand that matches the initial double on one end. If you can not match from your hand you must draw additional Dominoes from the “Boneyard” (some variations restrict this to one but it can be limitless and many people play that way, you should inquire so there are no disputes).

You score points by laying the dominoes end to end (the touching ends must match: i.e., one’s touch one’s, two’s touch two’s, etc.). If the dots on the exposed ends total any multiple of five the player is awarded that number of points. All sides of the first double (the spinner) may be used one piece to each side and later one to each end. All other doubles are played at right angles to the line and the total points on both ends are counted. Dominoing occurs when one player goes out by playing all of his dominoes. The sum of the spots of all opposing players is computed and added to the dominoing player’s score (rounded to the nearest five).

It is entirely possible to win the game and not Domino a round. My Great Grandmother who had portraits of Abe Lincoln and Ronald Reagan over her Treadle Singer played that way and it suckered the kidlings but not me.

I’m very good.

Judge rules against Trump in fight over president’s financial records
By Devlin Barrett, Spencer S. Hsu, Rachael Bade, and Josh Dawsey, Washington Post
May 20, 2019

President Trump on Monday lost an early round of his court fight with Democrats after a federal judge ruled the president’s accounting firm must turn over his financial records to Congress as lawmakers seek to assert their oversight authority.

Trump called the 41-page ruling from U.S. District Judge Amit P. Mehta of the District of Columbia “crazy” and said he would appeal, adding: “We think it’s totally the wrong decision by, obviously, an Obama-appointed judge.”

Lawyers for the president are fighting document and witness subpoenas on multiple fronts, and Mehta’s ruling came hours after former White House counsel Donald McGahn was directed not to appear before a congressional committee seeking testimony about his conversations with Trump.

Congressional Democrats have vowed to fight for evidence of potential misconduct by Trump and those close to him, and the president’s legal team is broadly resisting those efforts. How those fights play out in court in the months ahead could impact the 2020 presidential race.

In his decision, Mehta flatly rejected arguments from the president’s lawyers that the House Oversight Committee’s demands for the records from Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, were overly broad and served no legitimate legislative function.

“It is simply not fathomable,” the judge wrote, “that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct — past or present — even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry.”

Trump has argued those congressional inquiries are politically motivated attacks on the authority of the presidency, while Democrats insist the subpoenas are essential to ensuring no president is above the law.

When the lawsuit was filed, Trump’s private attorney Jay Sekulow said the president’s team “will not allow Congressional Presidential harassment to go unanswered.”

The company said in a statement that it will “respect the legal process and fully comply with its legal obligations.”

While Democrats scored the first court victory in the fight over the president’s financial records, it is unclear how many of these disputes will reach higher courts, or how those courts might rule.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said the ruling “lets America know that we have ground to stand on and that we have a legitimate argument and the courts support them. . . . I’m glad it was a strong decision; that bodes well, hopefully, in the future for an appeals process.”

Mehta’s ruling drew comparisons between Trump and President James Buchanan, whom historians have blamed for failing to prevent the Civil War and who is generally considered one of the country’s worst leaders. Buchanan, too, complained bitterly about “harassing” congressional inquiries.

Mehta noted that Congress also launched an investigation into the conduct of Bill Clinton before he entered the White House.

“Congress plainly views itself as having sweeping authority to investigate illegal conduct of a President, before and after taking office,” he wrote. “This court is not prepared to roll back the tide of history.”

The judge gave the White House a week to formally appeal the decision, adding that “the President is subject to the same legal standard as any other litigant that does not prevail.”

An appeal could test decades of legal precedent that has upheld Congress’s right to investigate — a legal battle that is just one part of a broader effort by House Democrats to examine Trump’s finances, his campaign and allegations that he sought to obstruct justice in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia investigation.

In the Mazars case, Mehta cut down Trump’s lawyers’ complaint that Congress was usurping the Justice Department’s powers to investigate “dubious and partisan” allegations of private conduct by inquiring into whether Trump misled his lenders by inflating his net worth.

Rather, Mehta said, a congressional investigation into illegal conduct before and during a president’s time in office fits “comfortably” with Congress’s broad investigative powers, which include an “informing function,” or the power to expose corruption.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) said Monday that his panel will vote Wednesday to enforce its subpoena seeking the release of still-redacted portions of Mueller’s report, along with certain underlying materials.

Schiff accused the Justice Department of granting Republican lawmakers’ document requests and denying demands from Democrats.

“The refusal by the department, if it persists, will be a graphic illustration of bad faith and a unwillingness to cooperate with lawful process,” Schiff said.

On Monday, the Justice Department issued a formal legal opinion saying that McGahn, the former top White House lawyer, could not be required to appear before lawmakers in response to a congressional subpoena.

Democrats subpoenaed McGahn to testify Tuesday morning, hoping he would become a star witness in their investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice. As detailed in Mueller’s report, McGahn provided critical testimony about several instances of potential obstruction by Trump.

“The Department of Justice has provided a legal opinion stating that, based on long-standing, bipartisan, and constitutional precedent, the former counsel to the president cannot be forced to give such testimony, and Mr. McGahn has been directed to act accordingly,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “This action has been taken in order to ensure that future presidents can effectively execute the responsibilities of the office of the presidency.”

The 15-page legal opinion written by Assistant Attorney General Steven A. Engel argues McGahn cannot be compelled to testify before the committee, based on past Justice Department legal memos regarding the president’s close advisers.

The memo says McGahn’s immunity from congressional testimony is separate and broader than a claim of executive privilege.

The immunity “extends beyond answers to particular questions, precluding Congress from compelling even the appearance of a senior presidential adviser — as a function of the independence and autonomy of the president himself,” Engel wrote.

Trump told reporters the action was taken “for the office of the presidency, for future presidents. I think it’s a very important precedent. And the attorneys say that they’re not doing that for me; they’re doing it for the office of the president.”

Those comments underscore the high stakes of Trump’s current standoff with Congress — if either side loses a legal ruling by an appeals court or the Supreme Court, the reverberations could be felt far beyond the Trump administration, changing the balance of power between the executive and the legislative branches of government for years to come.

In the fight over McGahn’s testimony, the Justice Department insists that immunity from testimony does not evaporate once a presidential adviser leaves the government because the topics of interest to Congress are discussions that occurred when the person worked for the president.

As a private citizen, McGahn is not necessarily bound by the White House directive, or the Justice Department memo, to refuse to comply with the subpoena. McGahn’s lawyer notified the committee that he would not appear.

The move to bar McGahn from answering lawmakers’ questions angered House Democrats eager to hit back at what they view as White House stonewalling. The defiance raises the possibility that the House will hold McGahn in contempt of Congress, as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has threatened — a threat he reiterated Monday night.

“It is absurd for President Trump to claim privilege as to this witness’s testimony when that testimony was already described publicly in the Mueller report,” Nadler said in a statement. “Even more ridiculous is the extension of the privilege to cover events before and after Mr. McGahn’s service in the White House.”

In the fight over McGahn’s testimony, the Justice Department insists that immunity from testimony does not evaporate once a presidential adviser leaves the government because the topics of interest to Congress are discussions that occurred when the person worked for the president.

As a private citizen, McGahn is not necessarily bound by the White House directive, or the Justice Department memo, to refuse to comply with the subpoena. McGahn’s lawyer notified the committee that he would not appear.

The move to bar McGahn from answering lawmakers’ questions angered House Democrats eager to hit back at what they view as White House stonewalling. The defiance raises the possibility that the House will hold McGahn in contempt of Congress, as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has threatened — a threat he reiterated Monday night.

“It is absurd for President Trump to claim privilege as to this witness’s testimony when that testimony was already described publicly in the Mueller report,” Nadler said in a statement. “Even more ridiculous is the extension of the privilege to cover events before and after Mr. McGahn’s service in the White House.”

And then, there is the money.

The reason I’m down on the Dominoes theme is that Mehta’s ruling is both forceful and Black Letter, I can’t think of a Court that would rule against it (except maybe the bought and paid Supremes) and there are at least 4 or 5 other pivotal cases pending that are likely to go the same way.

Did I mention Black Letter?

Frankly the only question is if we want to allow a Racist Republican Minority Coup and a Fascist Nazi Government.

Nancy, are you up for that?

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Eugene Robinson: Republicans may never forgive Justin Amash. The nation should thank him.

Justin Amash finally said out loud what many other Republicans know but will only whisper: “President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.” Amash’s party may never forgive him. His nation ought to thank him.

The Michigan congressman on Saturday became the first significant GOP official to acknowledge the clear implication of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report. Every Republican member of Congress should be pressed for an on-the-record response. How does the president’s conduct not amount to obstruction of justice? Where does the Constitution give Congress the right not to act?

Democrats should be asked these questions, too. I understand that many, apparently including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), think that starting impeachment proceedings would damage the party’s prospects in the 2020 election. But isn’t duty supposed to take precedence over political expediency? It clearly did for Amash, whose reward for his principled stance was a Twitter blast from Trump and a primary challenge for his seat.

Michelle Goldberg: ‘I Don’t Want an Exciting President’

Joe Biden makes his supporters feel safe, but nominating him is risky.

On Saturday afternoon, at Joe Biden’s official campaign kickoff rally in Philadelphia, I asked every attendee I met why they were supporting, or at least considering supporting, the former vice president. Often, they mentioned other people whom they thought Biden might appeal to. Again and again, they said they cared about beating Donald Trump above all else.

“On my list of 10 things, 1 to 10 is beat Donald,” said Shyvette Brown, 63. “Health care is 11. And everything else comes after that.” Brown said that she likes Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, but 2016 made her think that Americans aren’t ready to elect a woman. “I don’t like it,” she said. “I don’t think it’s fair.” But given the stakes, she wants the surest possible bet. “We can’t play. This is all or nothing. This is the end game right here.”

I agree with Brown’s priorities. Nothing is more important than voting Trump out next year, and I suspect that Biden is surging in the polls in part because, rather than pretend that the election is about so-called kitchen table issues, he’s taking on Trump’s desecration of the presidency directly. What worries me about Biden — above and beyond policy disagreements — is that, in contemporary politics, the quest to find an electable candidate hasn’t resulted in candidates that actually win. Voters don’t do themselves any favors when they try to think like pundits.

Catherine Rampell: We don’t know what Trump’s tax returns are hiding. But the hints are troubling.

When you look at the short span of President Trump’s political career, one question jumps out: How much of his craziest, most paranoid and norm-violating behavior is motivated by a desire to keep his financial arrangements secret?

It began with Trump’s bizarre refusal to release his tax returns, in defiance of both a nearly half-century practice and Trump’s own promise that he’d do so.

Then there was his refusal to divest from his sprawling multinational empire, or even put it into a blind trust — either of which would have forced at least some information disclosure to a third party.

There were also the interviews and tweetstorms calling journalists who report on his finances “enemies of the people,” and suggestions that federal officials who audit him are anti-Christian. [..]

We don’t know what Trump is working so hard to hide, but we have a lot of hints. They’re all troubling. Which is precisely why it’s so important that Congress — as part of its constitutionally mandated oversight duties — conduct a forensic audit of Trump’s worldwide financial dealings. That means learning whom he’s been getting money from, whom he owes money to, and what individuals or entities could be using financial influence to exert pressure over policy.

Almost as troubling as whatever it is Trump is trying to hide: Why do all those supposed national security hawks in Trump’s party exhibit so little curiosity about the answers?

Nathan Robinson: Rich white men rule America. How much longer will we tolerate that?

Minority rule has always been a feature of American democracy. These days, however, it is getting worse

he core democratic principle is that people should have a meaningful say in political decisions that affect their lives. In Alabama, we’ve just seen what the opposite of democracy looks like: 25 white male Republicans in the state senate were able to ban almost all abortion in the state. The consequences of that decision fall exclusively on women, who will be forced to carry all pregnancies to term if the law comes into effect. And, as has happened in other countries with abortion bans, poor women will be hit hardest of all – the rich can usually afford to go elsewhere.

There is no reason to respect the legitimacy of this kind of political decision, in which those in power show no sign of having listened to the people they’re deciding on behalf of. Though plenty in the pro-life movement are female, the people who will be most affected are nowhere in the debate. Unfortunately, structural problems with the US government mean that we’re heading for an even more undemocratic future.

Nouriel Rubini: Could the US-China trade row become a global cold war?

If Donald Trump and Xi Jinping slide into ongoing animosity, the world will pay the price

A few years ago, as part of a western delegation to China, I met Xi Jinping in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. When addressing us, Xi argued that China’s rise would be peaceful, and that other countries – namely, the US – need not worry about the “Thucydides trap”, so named for the Greek historian who chronicled how Sparta’s fear of a rising Athens made war between the two inevitable. In his 2017 book Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?, Harvard University’s Graham Allison examines 16 earlier rivalries between an emerging and an established power, and finds that 12 of them led to war. No doubt, Xi wanted us to focus on the remaining four.

Despite the mutual awareness of the Thucydides trap – and the recognition that history is not deterministic – China and the US seem to be falling into it anyway. Though a hot war between the world’s two major powers still seems far-fetched, a cold war is becoming more likely.

The US blames China for the current tensions. Since joining the World Trade Organization in 2001, China has reaped the benefits of the global trading and investment system, while failing to meet its obligations and free riding on its rules. According to the US, China has gained an unfair advantage through intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers, subsidies for domestic firms and other instruments of state capitalism. At the same time, its government is becoming increasingly authoritarian, transforming China into an Orwellian surveillance state.

Profiles In Courage

I mean it both sardonically and sarcastically. The main difference between the two is sardonic is more strictly contemptuous and sarcasm has an admixture of irony.

I’ve told you I like The Magicians, right?

We have to work together and we have to do it now. This is going to sound weird, but just go with me. You’re going to hear music and we’re going to make sure that everybody knows the words but every single one of us is going to have to sing.

God I hate you.

Pressure: pushing down on me,
Pressing down on you, no man ask for.
Under pressure that burns a building down,
Splits a family in two,
Puts people on streets.

That’s OK.

That’s the terror of knowing
What this world is about.
Watching some good friends screaming,
“Let me out!”

Tomorrow gets me higher.
Pressure on people, people on streets.

OK.

Chippin’ around, kick my brains ’round the floor.
These are the days: it never rains but it pours.

People on streets.
People on streets.

It’s the terror of knowing
What this world is about.
Watching some good friends screaming,
“Let me out!”

Tomorrow gets me higher, higher, high!
Pressure on people, people on streets.

Turned away from it all like a blind man.
Sat on a fence, but it don’t work.
Keep coming up with love, but it’s so slashed and torn.

Why, why, why!?

Love, love, love, love, love.

Insanity laughs under pressure.
We’re breaking.

Can’t we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can’t we give love that one more chance?
Why can’t we give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love, give love?

‘Cause love’s such an old-fashioned word,
And love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night,
And love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves.
This is our last dance.
This is our last dance.
This is ourselves.

Under pressure.
Under pressure.
Pressure.

Some in Pelosi’s leadership team rebel on impeachment, press her to begin an inquiry
By Rachael Bade and Mike DeBonis, Washington Post
May 20, 2019

Several members of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team pressed her to begin an impeachment inquiry against President Trump in a series of Monday night meetings, according to multiple officials in the rooms — an effort the speaker rebuffed each time.

At least five members of Pelosi’s leadership team — four of whom also sit on the House Judiciary Committee, with jurisdiction over impeachment — pressed Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a closed-door leadership meeting to allow the panel to start an inquiry, which they argued would help investigators attain documents and testimony that Trump has blocked.

Several hours later, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler met with Pelosi as well and made the case to start the inquiry, he later told his panel member on a call.

Pelosi declined to endorse the idea both times, according to the officials either in or familiar with what happened in both meetings. She and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) argued that such an inquiry would undercut other House investigations — or that the idea was not supported by other members in the caucus.

Pelosi has long been an impeachment skeptic and tried to tamp down impeachment talk in her ranks as recently as last week by encouraging members to focus on their legislative agenda. But members of the House Judiciary panel appear to have had enough after the White House on Monday again blocked a key witness in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report from cooperating with their investigations.

“It’s a fact-finding process,” said Rep. David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.) of the push to start an impeachment inquiry. Cicilline was one of the lawmakers who make the case to Pelosi in the meeting. “There’s no doubt that opening an inquiry strengthens the hand of Congress in forcing compliance with subpoenas, whether it’s for documents or individuals.”

The meeting marks the first time a chairman and top rank-and-file lawmakers — including members of Pelosi’s leadership team — have lobbied her to change her long-held position on impeachment. Judiciary Committee members for days have discussed how to move the speaker toward their thinking, but few have been willing to break with her publicly.

However, a core group of Judiciary Democrats plans to begin calling Tuesday for an impeachment inquiry if former White House counsel Donald McGahn does not show for subpoenaed testimony at 10 a.m., according to multiple sources familiar with the plan. The White House on Monday moved to block McGahn from showing up, arguing that he is exempt from testimony.

“We should be having the conversation about . . . how this will help us break through the stonewalling of the administration,” said Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), a Judiciary Committee member, referring to an inquiry.

Deutch was not in the meeting but agreed with those who made the case to Pelosi on Monday night: “If the answer is, ‘No, you can’t talk to anyone, you can’t have anything, we’re simply not going to cooperate,’ then at that point the only avenue that we have left is the constitutional means to enforce the separation of powers, which is a serious discussion of impeachment.”

During the Monday night leadership meeting, Pelosi spoke about how Democrats’ messaging isn’t breaking through because everyone is talking about corruption, Mueller’s report and impeachment. She bemoaned the fact that last week the investigations were making page one news while the House’s passage of the Equality Act — a bill aimed at ensuring that gay, lesbian and bisexual people are not discriminated against — was on “Page 26.”

That’s when Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.), chairman of a Judiciary subcommittee, jumped in to tell Pelosi that it amounted to a good case for launching an impeachment inquiry, according to people in the room who recounted the exchange. Raskin argued that such an inquiry would allow leadership to streamline and centralize all of the investigations into one — and let everyone else focus on the Democratic agenda items that won them the majority in 2018.

Pelosi and Hoyer retorted that the panel shouldn’t cut off other committee investigations, which they said are bearing fruit. Judiciary, after all, is not the only panel investigating Trump. Five others are as well, and an impeachment inquiry might undercut those probes, some think.

“You want to tell Elijah Cummings to go home?” Pelosi said, referring to the House Oversight and Reform Committee chairman.

Later, in a third leadership meeting where members again confronted Pelosi, she argued that the courts are coming to help Democrats.

“Today, we won our first case,” she said, referring to a federal judge’s move to uphold the Oversight Committee subpoena despite Trump’s objections. “We’ve been in this thing for almost five months, and now we’re getting some results . . . We still have unexhausted avenues here.”

During the leadership meeting, three other Judiciary Committee members — Cicilline, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and freshman Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.) — backed Raskin. Neguse argued that the panel’s role in investigating Trump is being severely impeded by all the stonewalling.

At one point Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-Conn.), a fierce Pelosi defender and ally, grew angry and scolded the lawmakers that an impeachment inquiry would further distract from legislating. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (Ill.) — who has argued before that legislators should move on from impeachment talk — pushed back as well, noting that when the DCCC asked voters in focus groups what topics they cared about, Mueller’s inquiry ranked near the bottom.

It wasn’t just Judiciary Committee members making the push, however. When the top leaders said that voters don’t care about this issue, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) defended the group of Judiciary members. While she agreed that her constituents are more interested in matters like prescription drug prices, she argued that they elected representatives to come to Washington and take care of big problems. She said voters put trust in leaders that they will tell hard truths — including hard truths about Trump.

Pelosi’s office declined to comment.

Judiciary Committee members argue that there is a distinction between an impeachment inquiry and impeachment proceedings that require a vote. Lieu, in an interview, declined to comment on the meeting but said that an inquiry “could lead to nothing” — or it could lead to impeachment.

“That inquiry is also what happened during Watergate,” he said. “It’s not like the House Judiciary Committee just dropped articles of impeachment. There was an investigation that preceded it. This inquiry could lead to impeachment, or it could lead to nothing. But I think if McGahn doesn’t show, we have to at least start it.”

Pressure.

Justin Amash dismantles Barr’s and the GOP’s defenses of Trump
By Aaron Blake, Washington Post
May 20, 2019

Rep. Justin Amash’s statement that President Trump has met the threshold for impeachment was obviously a setback for Trump, given that there is now a congressional Republican saying Trump’s actions went too far. But it was also a stated rebuke of Attorney General William P. Barr and his actions in pre- and post-spinning the results of the Mueller report.

And after getting blowback from fellow Republicans — and a pro-Trump primary challenger in his Michigan district — Amash isn’t backing down. On Monday, he expanded on his case against Barr and those echoing Barr’s defense of Trump. In doing so, he raises some important points.

“In making this determination” that Trump would not be accused of obstructing justice, Barr wrote in his initial letter summarizing the principal conclusions of the Mueller report, “we noted that the Special Counsel recognized that ‘the evidence does not establish that the President was involved in an underlying crime related to Russian election interference,’ and that, while not determinative, the absence of such evidence bears upon the President’s intent with respect to obstruction.”

Barr would also refer to the lack of an underlying crime in his news conference before the Mueller report was released and in his later congressional testimony. While perhaps not “determinative,” it’s clear he’s arguing that this is important.

But while Mueller decided there was not enough evidence to support an accusation of conspiring or coordinating with Russia, there are in fact underlying crimes that Trump clearly had an interest in obscuring, as evidenced by his campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s convictions and his personal lawyer/fixer’s convictions.

What’s more, as Barr conceded, the lack of an underlying crimes does not mean there can’t be obstruction. There can be other reasons you would obstruct an investigation, including that you are worried how the mere appearance of potential wrongdoing could hurt you politically — which Trump clearly had to be concerned about.

Another very important point. While Barr has emphasized that the White House cooperated extensively with the Mueller investigation, there were some areas in which the cooperation was less than complete. Trump didn’t submit to questioning, for instance, nor did his personal lawyers or Donald Trump Jr.

What’s more, when leaning on people to not testify truthfully (which Cohen has alluded to) or retaliating against people who run afoul of you (as Trump has done repeatedly), the point is to conceal potentially unhelpful evidence. The most successful obstruction means there will not be a provable underlying crime, because you were able to obscure it.

Barr has been careful to note that the lack of an underlying crime doesn’t mean there could be no obstruction, but his and others’ focus on this point has been curious, to say the least.

Amash lays waste to another argument against impeaching Trump. But unlike the others, this one actually isn’t so much about Barr. Instead, it’s about those who say Trump needs to be charged with a crime to be impeached. And it’s as much a rebuke to Trump’s defenders as some Democrats who have slow-walked the possibility of impeachment.

The first problem with this argument is that Mueller expressly didn’t rule out that Trump had committed a crime; instead he said it wasn’t his place to make that determination. And in fact, if you look closely at his report, there are five episodes that he seems to have found evidence to satisfy the three criteria for obstruction.

The second problem is that, as Amash notes, you don’t need an actual “crime” to impeach. Impeachment is an inherently political process that asks lawmakers to determine whether a president has violated a very undefined standard of misconduct in office. Bill Clinton was accused of several crimes by Kenneth Starr, and he was impeached but not convicted. Trump’s actions were problematic enough that Mueller determined he couldn’t clear him of obstruction, but even if none of that were criminal, it’s really up to Congress to decide.

So now you Profiles In Courage have your Edmund G. Ross.

Process stuff. Meta.

Cartnoon

Mrs. Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian

Freedom of Religion

The Breakfast Club (Being Human)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Dr. Martlin Luther King, Jr. begins march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama; the Sharkville massacre in South Africa occurs; Wrongly incarcerated Randall Dale Adams is released from prison; Musician Johann Bach born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.

Al Franken

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Six In The Morning Tuesday 21 May 2019

A legacy of lunacy haunts Kenya’s old railway. Will China’s $3.6B line be different?

Kenya took on huge debt to buy a modern railway from Beijing that it hopes will boost its economy … despite the controversy it has attracted.

Updated 0651 GMT (1451 HKT) May 21, 2019

In 1903, British colonial administrator Sir Charles Norton Edgecumbe Eliot made a bold statement: “It is not uncommon for a country to create a railway, but it is uncommon for a railway to create a country.”

The country was Kenya. The railway became known as the Lunatic Express.
Now 116 years later, another railway line has been built almost parallel to those same tracks in a bid to transform this part of Africa, but this time by a different world power: China.

Millions without water in Libya as armed group cuts off supply

Gunmen claiming to be loyal to Khalifa Haftar force shutdown in Tripoli and nearby cities

Water supplies to the Libyan capital and surrounding cities have been cut off after an armed group stormed a control room, leaving millions of people without water as summer temperatures begin to climb.

The gunmen arrived on Sunday at the control room in Jafara run by a consortium known as the Great Man-Made River project, which transports water via a vast underground network of pipes from the Sahara into Tripoli, a city of more than 2 million people, and other coastal areas. The group forced staff to shut down the water pipes connected to underground wells.

The group claimed to be supporters of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the leader of the Libyan National Army (LNA). Haftar’s force dominates the east and south of Libya and has been trying to take the capital from the UN-backed government of national accord (GNA).

Trump is pushing Ukraine for an investigation into Joe Biden – but the evidence on the ground is painfully thin

The eastern European country has become a proxy for what could be the face off in the next US presidential election

Kim Sengupta

Volodymyr Zelensky, the former comedian who turned to politics and unexpectedly won Ukraine’s presidential race, marked his inauguration with the announcement of a snap parliamentary poll. But it is the coming election in the US in which his troubled country is set to play the most fractious and controversial role.

The Ukrainian connection was a combustible seam running through the investigations into whether Donald Trump was the Muscovian candidate for the White House. His former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was convicted and jailed over millions he earned from a former boss, Viktor Yanukovych, the pro-Russian leader who had to flee to Russia following the revolution six years ago.

China: Thousands of North Korean women forced into prostitution: report

A UK-based organization has documented widespread violence against women in North Korea, claiming that thousands of the communist country’s women are being subjected to forced marriage and prostitution in China.

A report published by the Korea Future Initiative, a London-based NGO, reveals that thousands of North Korean women and girls are being subjected to forced marriage and prostitution in China.

The report, which was presented in the UK Parliament on Monday, forensically details the vulnerability of women and girls as young as 12, who are being tricked into escaping North Korea only to be sold as sex slaves in China.

Egypt to free ex-diplomat critical of Sisi’s rule: lawyer

Egyptian authorities have ordered the release of a former diplomat who was detained after proposing a referendum on the regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, his lawyer said on Monday.

Masom Marzok, a former assistant foreign minister, was arrested in August 2018 after publicly criticising Sisi and calling for a poll on the former military chief remaining in power.

Marzok, a veteran of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, was one of several activists detained on charges including partnering with a terrorist organisation and colluding to commit terrorist acts.

Christchurch shootings: Mosque attacker charged with terrorism

The man accused of killing 51 people in the Christchurch mosques attack has been charged with terrorism, New Zealand police have said.

Brenton Tarrant was charged with “engaging in a terrorist act”, police said in a statement on Tuesday.

He is already facing charges of murder and 40 of attempted murder following the attack on two mosques in the South Island city on 15 March.

The Australian is next due in court in June.

Fifth Child Dead

There are people who think I exaggerate when I compare the United States to Nazi Germany.

5th migrant child dies after detention by US border agents
by NOMAAN MERCHANT, Associated Press
May 20, 2019

A 16-year-old boy from Guatemala who died in U.S. custody Monday had been held for six days — twice as long as federal law generally permits — then transferred to another holding facility after he was diagnosed with the flu.

The teenager, identified by U.S. Customs and Border Protection as Carlos Gregorio Hernandez Vasquez, was the fifth minor from Guatemala to die after being apprehended by U.S. border agents since December.

Advocates demanded that President Donald Trump’s administration act to safeguard the lives of children in detention as border crossings surge and the U.S. Border Patrol detains thousands of families at a time in overcrowded facilities, tents, and outdoor spaces.

“We should all be outraged and demand that those responsible for his well-being be held accountable,” said Efrén Olivares, a lawyer with the Texas Civil Rights Project.

“If these were white children that were dying at this rate, people would be up in arms,” he said. “We see this callous disregard for brown, Spanish-speaking children.”

ohn Sanders, CBP’s acting commissioner, said in a statement that his agency was “saddened by the tragic loss of this young man and our condolences are with his family.”

“CBP is committed to the health, safety and humane treatment of those in our custody,” Sanders said.

Border Patrol agents said Carlos was apprehended on May 13 in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley after crossing the border illegally. He was taken to the agency’s central processing center in McAllen, Texas, a converted warehouse where hundreds of adults and children are held in large, fenced-in pens and sleep on mats.

CBP said Carlos was processed as a minor unaccompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Federal law and CBP’s guidelines generally require that unaccompanied youth be transferred within three days to a facility operated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A CBP official who declined to be named in order to brief reporters said Carlos was awaiting transfer to HHS custody on Thursday, three days after his apprehension. At the time of his death, Carlos was supposed to be sent to Southwest Key Casa Padre, a 1,400-person facility inside an old Walmart in Brownsville, Texas, the official said.

Mark Weber, a spokesman for HHS, did not address in a statement why the teenager wasn’t transferred sooner, but said a “minority of cases exceeding 72 hours have generally involved exceptional circumstances.”

CBP said Carlos reported early Sunday morning that he was not feeling well and diagnosed with the flu by a nurse practitioner.

He was prescribed the medicine Tamiflu, then transferred later Sunday to the Border Patrol station at Weslaco, Texas, to prevent his flu from spreading to other detainees.

He was not hospitalized, according to the agency official who briefed reporters. The official said CBP facilities have medical providers who can monitor detainees, though the official did not know what specific symptoms Carlos had.

Carlos had last been checked an hour before he was found unresponsive.

The U.S. government has faced months of scrutiny over its care of children it apprehends at the border. A 2-year-old child died last week after he and his mother were detained by the Border Patrol. The agency says it took the child to the hospital the same day the mother reported he was sick, and he was hospitalized for several weeks.

On April 30, a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy died after officials at an HHS detention facility noticed that he was sick. He was hospitalized in intensive care for several days before his death.

After the deaths of two children ages 7 and 8 in December, the DHS ordered medical checks of all children in its custody and expanded medical screenings.

“If these were white children that were dying at this rate, people would be up in arms. We see this callous disregard for brown, Spanish-speaking children.”

Oh, let’s expand that to all Brown people, Spanish speaking or not, children or not.

Border Patrol Agent Charged With Hitting Guatemalan Man With Truck Had Called Migrants “Subhuman” and “Savages”
By Molly Olmstead, Slate
May 20, 2019

Bowen believed migrants are “disgusting subhuman shit unworthy of being kindling for a fire,” according to the documents. “PLEASE let us take the gloves off trump!” he said in another text to fellow agent Lonnie Ray Swartz, who at the time was facing murder and manslaughter charges for shooting through the border fence in Nogales in 2012, hitting 16-year-old José Antonio Elena Rodríguez, who had been allegedly throwing rocks toward the agents, 10 times. (Swartz was acquitted.) Bowen also texted Swartz in 2017 that rock throwers were “mindless murdering savages.”

Federal prosecutors, in filing the documents, were asking a judge to allow the texts as evidence of his attitude toward the migrants he apprehends at the border. But according to Bowen’s defense attorney, certain terms are “commonplace throughout the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector, that it is part of the agency’s culture, and therefore says nothing about Mr. Bowen’s mind-set,” according to the Daily Star.

Other examples the prosecutors give are equally offensive. In one, someone asks Bowen, “Did you gas hiscorpse or just use regular peanut oil while tazing?? For a frying effect.” To which Bowen responds, “Guats are best made crispy with an olive oil from their native pais.” In another, sent before the December 2017 incident, he complained that Border Patrol was a “failed agency” because “we are treated like shit, prosecuted for doing what it takes to arrest these savages….” (He said he would also miss the “chase of hunting down shitbags with your crew.”)

Bowen has a record of alleged violence on the job, according to the Daily Star. In one instance, he was accused of searching a car without probable cause, pulling the car’s occupant out forcefully, and throwing him to the ground. One agent alleged Bowen “tackled” a migrant to the ground after the migrant had stopped running, busting the migrant’s lip. One migrant said Bowen had pulled him from the ground by handcuffs after he had tripped, injuring his wrists. Another migrant said that while he was handcuffed in a vehicle Bowen was driving, Bowen suddenly and intentionally slammed on the brakes, causing the migrant to be injured when he was thrown forward into the dashboard.

The incident that led to his charges occurred when he and two other Border Patrol agents chased down a man who appeared to have jumped the border fence near the Mariposa Port of Entry, according to a sworn affidavit filed by a special agent with the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General. As the man, 23-year-old Antolin Lopez Aguilar, ran back toward the port of entry after being found at a gas station parking lot, Bowen allegedly “accelerated aggressively into a position behind the running Lopez Aguilar” and struck the man twice with his Ford F-150, knocking him to the ground. The truck “came to a full stop within inches of running Lopez-Aguilar over where he lay on the ground,” according to the special agent.

Lopez was taken to a hospital and treated for minor injuries and sentenced the next day to 30 days in federal prison for illegally crossing the border, according to the Daily Star. After Bowen learned he was being investigated over the incident, he sent a memo to the chief patrol agent arguing he had been unfamiliar with the truck’s acceleration and had not intended to actually hit Lopez, according to prosecutors.

“Commonplace throughout the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector, that it is part of the agency’s culture, and therefore says nothing about Mr. Bowen’s mind-set.”

Did you hear the one about the Jew, the Gypsy, and the Gay on the way to the Gas Chamber?

Are you happy living downwind of the Camps, Good German?

Pondering the Pundits

Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Pondering the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Jill Wine-Banks: The Balance Has Shifted: The Data on Impeachment Favor Moving Ahead

Sidney Blumenthal’s opinion piece in Just Security has rightly provoked a lively conversation about the impeachability of President Donald Trump. More importantly, it solves the political conundrum at the center of the debate about how to balance the potential political impact of impeachment on the 2020 election with the moral and constitutional obligations of Congress to hold this president accountable in the face of the corruption and wrongdoing reported in the Mueller Report and the nightly news.

As one of the Assistant Watergate Special Prosecutors, I have first-hand knowledge of the evidence that proved President Richard Nixon’s guilt of obstruction of justice as set forth in articles of impeachment. I helped draft the Road Map that the House Judiciary Committee used to build its impeachment case against Nixon. I also closely observed my mentor at the Department of Justice, Chuck Ruff, who served as White House Counsel during the Clinton impeachment. Now, as an MSNBC Legal Analyst, I have had a front row seat to the mounting case against President Trump. For these reasons, I want to share my thinking and conclusions on this critical topic.

In my opinion, Blumenthal’s piece changes the balance to favor Congress acting now. His data decimate the major impediment to holding Trump accountable – the fear that this president would be strengthened by a House vote for impeachment with no conviction by the Senate. Contrary to popular belief, Blumenthal lays out a clear case that President Clinton did not benefit from impeachment and that comparisons to Clinton are highly misplaced. Clinton was at 66% approval before and after impeachment. Impeachment neither improved nor diminished his standing. He was popular before impeachment and just as popular afterward, whereas Trump’s approval ratings are at a stunningly low 39 percent and dropping. Indeed, Trump has never achieved even a 50% approval. This means that fears of holding Trump accountable via an impeachment inquiry are unfounded, leaving just the question of whether the evidence supports proceeding. The answer to that is a resounding, almost deafening, yes.

Robert Reich: The Trump economy is hurting most Americans. Statistics won’t fool voters

he award for this year’s Biggest Backhanded Compliment to Trump goes to White House acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who recently predicted a Trump victory in 2020 because “people will vote for somebody they don’t like if they think it’s good for them”.

Trump is the least popular president to run for re-election in the history of polling but Mulvaney thinks Americans will vote for him anyway because unemployment has hit a 50-year low, wages are rising and economic growth exceeds 3%. A CNN poll released in early May shows 56% of Americans approve Trump’s handling of the economy. [..]

It is possible, of course, that the economy will take a dive before election day, especially in light of Trump’s trade wars and the global economic slowdown. But it’s more likely that the recovery that began in 2009 will continue, even though Trump isn’t responsible for it.

Yet there’s a difference between how Americans view the overall economy and how they see their own personal economy. That difference has widened in recent years as more people get into financial trouble even as the economy soars.

Which means the official economic statistics have less relevance to what people tell each other over the kitchen table when they’re trying to pay the bills.

And it’s this kitchen-table economics – not the official statistics – that drives votes.

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