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« Reply #3675 on: Today at 04:07 AM »

One of Alaska’s warmest springs on record is causing a dangerous thaw

By Sarah Kaplan
Wa Post
April 22 2019

UTQIAGVIK, Alaska — Bryan Thomas doesn’t want any more “wishy-washy conversations about climate change.”

For four years, he has served as station chief of the Barrow Atmospheric Baseline Observatory, America’s northernmost scientific outpost in its fastest-warming state. Each morning, after digging through snow to his office’s front door, Thomas checks the preliminary number on the observatory’s carbon dioxide monitor. On a recent Thursday it was almost 420 parts per million — nearly twice as high as the global preindustrial average.

It’s just one number, he said. But there’s no question in his mind about what it means.

Alaska is in the midst of one of the warmest springs the state has ever experienced — a transformation that has disrupted livelihoods and cost lives. The average temperature for March recorded at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) observatory in Utqiagvik (which was known as Barrow before 2016, when the city voted to go by its traditional Inupiaq name) was 18.6 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.

Fairbanks, Alaska, notched its first consecutive March days when the temperature never dropped below freezing. Ice roads built on frozen waterways — a vital means of transportation in the state — have become weak and unreliable. At least five people have died this spring after falling through ice that melted sooner than expected.

“Climate change is happening faster than it’s ever happened before in our record,” Thomas said. “We’re right in the middle of it.”

Land surface temperature anomalies from March 1-31, 2019. Red colors depict areas that were hotter than average for the same month from 2000-2012; blues were colder than average. Data obtained from NASA's Aqua satellite.

Utqiagvik set daily temperature records on 28 of the first 100 days of this year, according to the Alaska Climate Research Center.

In early February, residents awoke to find the landfast ice that usually clings to the shore until summer had been swept out to sea by strong winds — a sign the ice wasn’t as thick or well-grounded as it used to be.

“It was like, ‘Whoa, I’ve never seen that before,’” Thomas said.

“It was surprising in a human way,” he added. “But not necessarily surprising in a science way.”

The Barrow observatory has been monitoring climate for more than 40 years. Thomas knows where the trends are headed.

Two hundred miles to the south, Marc Oggier, a graduate student at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, returned this month from conducting field work to find the city completely clear of snow. It was the shortest-lived snowpack in recent history.

Oggier wrinkled his nose at the vegetal, springlike scent in the air.

“It smells weird,” he said. “It smells like rain.”

This time of year, he explained, “you shouldn’t be able to smell anything.” The ground should still be frozen solid.

The historic warm temperatures this spring are linked to vanishing ice on the Bering and Chukchi seas west of Alaska. Both areas set records this year for their lowest amount of ice in March.

Warm weather threatens subsistence whaling — a centuries-old tradition in and around Utqiagvik, said Kaare Erickson, the North Slope Science Liaison for the Ukpeaġvik Iñupiat Corporation, which manages Inupiat land and provides services to the community. Though the sea ice near the city refroze after the February wind event, many are concerned about whether it can provide a stable platform from which to hunt.

On Shishmaref, the barrier island where he grew up, “it’s an even heavier impact,” Erickson said.

When ice forms later and melts earlier, it leaves coastlines vulnerable to erosion from fall and spring storms. The shoreline on Shishmaref has retreated more than 100 feet in Erickson’s lifetime, and the town has voted to relocate to a new site farther from the sea. Residents who subsist on seal and walrus meat must navigate an increasingly unreliable ice pack as they search for food.

Unstable ice has already claimed lives. Two men died of exposure in late March when their vehicles fell through the frozen Kuskokwim River near Bethel, the Division of Alaska State Troopers said.

This week, three family members — including an 11-year-old girl — were killed after crashing through ice on their way to the small village of Noatak, which can be reached only by snowmobile, boat or air.

Sgt. Teague Widmier, who leads the Alaska State Troopers unit in Bethel, said authorities have urged people to stay off the increasingly weak river ice. But he acknowledged that residents have few other options for traveling in rural parts of the state.

Spring “breakup,” when the Arctic defrosts, is always a dangerous time in Alaska, Widmier said.

But this year it has come earlier than usual. Ice thickness this winter was below average on rivers across the state, according to the National Weather Service. On the Kuskokwim near Bethel, where the two men died in March, it was just 19 percent of normal. Many parts of the river are already ice-free — even though it usually remains frozen well into May.

All of this was on Thomas’s mind as he went about his Thursday morning routine at the Utqiagvik observatory.

The building is modest — just three small rooms and no bathroom (“We use a bucket,” Thomas explained) — and crowded with devices. Air samplers take continuous measurements of every problematic molecule: carbon dioxide, methane, ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons. Meteorological instruments track the fluctuating weather. Computers communicate with nearly two dozen polar orbiting satellites, each of which can send down data as often as 14 times in a 24-hour period.

Each of these measurements helps explain the transformation occurring outside Thomas’s window.

“I think, okay, this [greenhouse gas measurement] is going to help people understand how much energy from the sun is being absorbed by the atmosphere,” he said. “There’s that visceral connection to what’s happening.”

His next task was clearing off the intake lines, tubes that pull gases from the atmosphere into the observatory’s instruments. Donning insulated pants and a face mask, he trudged back outside to a rickety, 50-foot tower and began to climb. Strong winds rattled the metal and blew snow into his face; by the time he reached the top, the world below was lost in a swirl of white.

Thomas used a store-bought paintbrush to wipe ice from the instruments, making sure they continue to capture the changing climate for another day.

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« Reply #3676 on: Today at 04:11 AM »

Climate change could render many of Earth’s ecosystems unrecognizable

By Sarah Kaplan
WA Post

After the end of the last ice age — as sea levels rose, glaciers receded and global average temperatures soared as much as seven degrees Celsius — the Earth’s ecosystems were utterly transformed.

Forests grew up out of what was once barren, ice-covered ground. Dark, cool stands of pine were replaced by thickets of hickory and oak. Woodlands gave way to scrub, and savanna turned to desert. The more temperatures increased in a particular landscape, the more dramatic the ecological shifts.

It’s about to happen again, researchers are reporting Thursday in the journal Science. A sweeping survey of global fossil and temperature records from the past 20,000 years suggests that Earth’s terrestrial ecosystems are at risk of another, even faster transformation unless aggressive action is taken against climate change.

“Even as someone who has spent more than 40 years thinking about vegetation change looking into the past … it is really hard for me to wrap my mind around the magnitude of change we’re talking about,” said ecologist Stephen Jackson, director of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Center and the lead author of the new study.

“It is concerning to me to think about how much change and how rapidly the change is likely to happen, and how little capacity we have to predict the exact course,” he said, “which creates very large challenges for all of us out there who are trying to manage wildfire, fish, water, soil, endangered species — all those different ways in which natural ecosystems affect us.”
Scientists warn of climate tipping point

A new study published Aug. 6 suggested a domino of climate change effects could cause significant disruptions. (Reuters)

Jackson has spent most of the past four decades studying ecological changes as the Earth transitioned from an ice age to the current “interglacial” period between 20,000 and 10,000 years ago. His experience suggested that no corner of the planet made it through that upheaval unchanged, but being a scientist, he wanted actual evidence.

So Jackson brought together a group of more than three dozen ecology experts from around the globe to assess how vegetation in various regions had been altered after the last ice age. The scientists analyzed preserved bits of plant pollen from nearly 600 sites on every continent except Antarctica. For each metric, they ranked the change at their site as “low,” “moderate” or “large.”

An image of ancient pollen grains under a microscope. (Pablo Martinez/Florida Institute of Technology)

Quickly, “a clear relationship appeared,” said Connor Nolan, the University of Arizona graduate student who led the analysis. Regions that experienced large temperature increases — especially North America and Europe — invariably underwent large vegetation shifts. Where the temperature changes were more moderate, around the equator, some ecosystems had a chance of coming through relatively unscathed.

Next the researchers applied that relationship to four possible scenarios for human-driven climate change in the next century. In the most optimistic scenario — in which people act aggressively to cut carbon emissions, limiting the global average temperature increase to about one degree Celsius — the probability of large changes in the composition and structure of most ecosystems was low.

But in every other situation — particularly the “business as usual” high-emissions scenario, which predicts temperature increases of four degrees Celsius by 2100 — transformation will be unavoidable.

That high-emissions scenario represents roughly the same magnitude of temperature increase as the historic shifts documented in the Science paper, Nolan noted. “But now instead of going from cold to warm,” he said, “we’re going from warm to way warmer and on time scales that are way faster than anything experienced in the past.”

These maps show how the planet’s vegetation changed from the last ice age (21,000 to 14,000 years ago) to the preindustrial era. Each square represents a research site. Orange squares show the changes in plant species. Green squares show the change in the community structure — for example, tundra becoming forest. The darker the squares, the greater the change. The blue background shows how much temperature changed — the darker the blue, the more the temperature increase. (Connor Nolan/Science)

Scott Wing, a paleoecologist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, said the findings are not surprising. For as far back as scientists have looked in the fossil record, vegetation has been tied to climate.

“This is an extremely useful paper because it summarizes so much information,” Wing said. “Looking at the data in this way helps us understand the probable magnitudes of change going forward.”

A draft U.N. climate-science report released this year suggested that Earth will almost certainly cross the key marker of 1.5 degrees Celsius of temperature rise by the 2040s. That means the dire high-emissions scenarios — and accompanying ecological change — depicted in the Science study seem ever more likely.

Some of the predicted ecological shifts are already happening, Jackson said. Where he lives in the Southwest, severe wildfires are destroying ponderosa pine forests that have existed for generations; constant high temperatures and prolonged drought prevent the pines from regenerating in the aftermath.

“Instead of these beautiful, open, shady, cool stands of ponderosa pine forest, we have oak shrubs that are very dense and maybe three to five feet high,” he said. “So when you’re on the old hiking trail that takes you through the skeletons of ponderosa pine, [the shrubs] don’t impart any shade."

But hotter hikes are one of the milder consequences of this vegetation change. Jackson noted that the shade provided by ponderosa pines helps preserve snowpack well into the start of summer. The later meltwater is necessary to sustain the streams and rivers on which plants, animals, farms and cities all depend. The loss of those pines will trigger domino effects all across the watershed, altering landscapes from the mountains to the sea.

“What we’re talking about here are the kinds of changes that disrupt everybody’s lives,” Wing said. “People want to migrate. … Their livelihoods are no longer possible, because the environment around them has changed radically in a few generations."

All three scientists said it would be difficult to predict exactly how individual ecosystems will change in the years to come. Not only is modern climate change faster than what occurred after the Ice Age, but the ecological disruption caused by temperature increases is compounded by pollution, deforestation and other human activities.

“That is a unique combination, and that’s what makes it more scary,” Jackson said. “It’s going to take the natural adaptive capacity that’s out there and strain it, and we will probably have to adapt, too.

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« Reply #3677 on: Today at 04:14 AM »

Afghan women go online to set #myredline for peace


Kobra Samim, who rides for Afghanistan's national cycling team, wrote on Facebook that women's participation in sport is her "red line" as the US tries to forge a peace deal with the Taliban.

Former politician Farkhunda Zahra Naderi tweeted that the protection of female leadership roles should be non-negotiable. And activist Samira Hamidi is demanding that women be included in the peace talks.

Across Afghanistan, women have taken to social media to join a campaign dubbed #MyRedLine that aims to pressure the government, the Taliban and the United States into ensuring women's hard-won advancements are not tossed aside in a rush for a peace accord.

"If the Taliban come back, we won't have the right to education, sports, and we will even be banned from coming out of houses," Samim, 23, told AFP as she adjusted the saddle on her mountain bike before setting off along a run-down Kabul street.

"We want peace, but also we want to continue our sports and cycling."

Farahnaz Forotan, a journalist and activist who started the #MyRedLine campaign with support from UN Women Afghanistan, said her own red line was "my pen and my freedom of expression".

"If peace doesn't bring social justice to all victims of war in every corner of the country, then it won't be a stable peace," Forotan told AFP.

She said the #MyRedLine hashtag had been shared or retweeted thousands of times since the social media campaign was launched last month, with even President Ashraf Ghani tweeting that women's rights were the government's "red line" in the peace process.

The campaign is also being shared on Facebook, in English, Pashto and Dari.

- 'More vulnerable than anyone' -

Before being toppled by the US invasion of 2001, the Taliban governed Afghanistan for nearly five years with a strict interpretation of sharia law.

Women were confined to their homes, forced to wear burqas and forbidden from going to school. Some were publicly stoned to death on flimsy allegations of adultery.

"Women were more vulnerable than anyone during the Taliban regime," Forotan said.

The United States is holding direct talks with Taliban leaders -- all men --- in a bid to forge a peace deal.

Two Afghan women were invited to informal talks in Moscow in February between the Taliban and Afghan representatives, but their presence was very peripheral.

A second, similar summit between Afghan delegates and the insurgents that was to take place in Doha this weekend and had been set to include more women has been postponed indefinitely.

International observers have blasted the talks, led on the US side by peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, for their lack of female inclusion.

Other social media hashtags such as #afghanwomenwillnotgoback have also gained traction, and Khalilzad appears to have taken note.

On a trip to Afghanistan this month, the Afghan-born American envoy met with locals from all walks of life and with women's groups.

The Taliban, however, appear unmoved. Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid recently tweeted to deny reports that women were being included in the Taliban negotiating team and "neither do we believe it is necessary".

- 'Tough odds' -

Heather Barr, the acting co-director of the Women's Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, said the online campaign was encouraging.

"They're up against tough odds at the moment, but their efforts are a sign that Afghan society is changing in fundamental ways, regardless of the outcome of these talks," Barr told AFP.

In the United States, powerful women are lending their voices to the Afghan campaign.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who sits on the influential Senate Armed Services Committee that oversees the US military, said such a move is key.

"Women's interests, as well as the interests of a broad segment of Afghan society need to be included as part of any negotiation," Shaheen told a group of journalists on a visit to Kabul this week.

"It is vital for women to be included in talks with the Taliban."

American actor and United Nations special envoy Angelina Jolie brought some celebrity power to the campaign last week, penning an opinion piece in TIME magazine calling for women to be included in "significant" numbers.

"Afghan women must be able to speak for themselves," Jolie wrote.

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« Reply #3678 on: Today at 04:25 AM »

Comedian wins landslide victory in Ukrainian presidential election

Petro Poroshenko concedes defeat as Volodymyr Zelenskiy takes over 70% of votes, promising: ‘I won’t mess up’

Shaun Walker in Kyiv
Mon 22 Apr 2019 06.31 BST

Volodymyr Zelenskiy, an actor and comedian with no political experience other than playing the role of president in a TV series, has won a landslide victory in Ukraine’s presidential election, with near-complete counting showing he has won over 70% of the vote.

The incumbent, Petro Poroshenko conceded defeat on Sunday evening before results started coming in.

According to official results released on Monday morning, with 85% of the vote counted, 41-year-old Zelenskiy had won 73.4% of the vote, compared to Poroshenko’s 24.4%.

“I’m leaving office, but I want to make it clear that I’m not leaving politics,” said Poroshenko, acknowledging his failure to win a second term. “I will accept the will of the Ukrainian people,” he wrote on Twitter.

Zelenskiy appeared in front of a crowd of journalists at his campaign headquarters as the polls closed and flashed an impish grin as he pushed his way on to the stage, accompanied by the theme tune to his television show.

“We did it together,” he said, thanking his wife, parents and campaign team. “Thanks to all the Ukrainian citizens who voted for me, and to all who didn’t. I promise I won’t mess up.”

The humiliating scale of the defeat for Poroshenko matched a series of polls over past weeks that have suggested Zelenskiy would win the runoff with ease.

The Zelenskiy camp said he had taken phone calls of congratulation from US president Donald Trump and French president Emmanuel Macron, among others.

Zelenskiy will take charge of a country facing numerous challenges, including a struggling economy and an ongoing war against Russia-backed separatist forces in the east that has claimed more than 13,000 lives.

He is best known for his role in the long-running Ukrainian television series Servant of the People, where he played a teacher unexpectedly elected to the presidency after an angry rant about corruption is posted online by his students.

During the campaign, he offered little information about his policies or plans for the presidency, relying on viral videos, standup comedy gigs and jokes in place of traditional campaigning.

His campaign blurred the lines between the real-life Zelenskiy and his on-screen persona. Like the fictional president of his television series, Zelenskiy has promised to clean up politics and end the stranglehold of the oligarchy over Ukraine, but he has offered little by way of specifics.

Concerns have been raised about his close links to the controversial oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi. He issued a denial after Poroshenko dubbed him a “Kolomoyskyi puppet” – although many members of Zelenskiy’s campaign team also have links to the oligarch.

Journalists were offered free-flowing wine, a table tennis tournament and pumping music on Sunday evening at Zelenskiy’s campaign headquarters at a nightclub in an upmarket Kyiv business centre. However, there were no further details about his policies in his brief victory speech.

Zelenskiy has benefitted from voter dissatisfaction with Poroshenko, who came to office five years ago after the Maidan revolution. The billionaire confectionary magnate promised Ukrainians they would “live in a new way”, but the pace of change has been too slow for many.

The two candidates faced off in a chaotic televised debate at Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium on Friday evening, but the spectacle did not appear to change many minds. Poroshenko’s supporters tended to be worried about Zelenskiy’s lack of experience and potentially more amenable attitude towards Russia, while backers of Zelenskiy insisted that Poroshenko’s first term had been a failure and that he did not deserve another chance.

Voting on Sunday took place across the country, from the Carpathian mountains in the west to the war-torn Donbass region in the east, where soldiers on the frontline had an opportunity to cast their ballots.

“My nephew has been on the frontline in Donbass; what kind of country would put a clown in charge of its armed forces during a war?” asked Tetiana Hrytsenko, 61, who cast her ballot for Poroshenko on Sunday morning in Kyiv. A group of young people emerging from the same polling station said they had all voted for Zelenskiy.

There was little enthusiasm on display for either candidate, with most voters opting for the candidate they considered the least-worst option.

“It’s like when you go to a cheap supermarket and all of the fruit is rotten, and you rummage around to find the least rotten piece,” said Anna, 32, an office manager who said she had waited hours in line to register for voting papers. On Sunday morning, she had still not decided which candidate she would vote for.

After voting in Kyiv, Zelenskiy was admonished by police for showing his ballot paper to the cameras. Displaying the ballot is illegal under Ukrainian law, and he now faces a fine of up to £24.

The chaotic but lively campaign in Ukraine has been watched closely in neighbouring Russia. While Russian state television has mocked the circus-like aspect of the vote, many have also looked on enviously at the lively debate and competitive atmosphere. On Sunday evening, Zelenskiy’s declaration of victory carried a message that could reverberate in the Kremlin.

“As a citizen of Ukraine I can say to all post-Soviet countries: ‘Look at us. Everything is possible’,” he said.

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« Reply #3679 on: Today at 04:27 AM »

North Macedonia presidential election goes to runoff as name change divides

Turnout in vote regarded as a fresh say on country’s name change too low to deliver decisive result, say officials

Associated Press
Mon 22 Apr 2019 02.00 BST

A presidential election in North Macedonia that gave voters another chance to express an opinion on their country’s new name will go to a runoff after turnout in the first round was too low for any candidate to win outright, election officials said.

The runoff on 5 May is inevitable because election law requires a candidate to get 50% plus one of registered voters to be elected in the first round. The state electoral commission reported the turnout on Sunday was 41.9%.

With about 97% of polling stations reporting results, Stevo Pendarovski and Gordana Siljanovska Davkova were in a close contest for the most support, the state electoral commission announced shortly before midnight (2300 GMT). Pendarovski, the joint candidate of the ruling Social Democrats and 30 other parties, held a slight lead from the unfinished tally, receiving 42.68% of the partial vote to Siljanovska’s 42.55%.

The main conservative opposition VMRO-DPMNE party backed Siljanovska, the first woman to run for president in the country.

Blerim Reka, a candidate supported by two small ethnic Albanian political parties, had 10.4% in the latest returns. All three candidates for the largely ceremonial presidency are university professors.

North Macedonia was previously known as Macedonia. The name change took effect in February as part of an agreement to end a decades-long dispute with Greece.

In exchange, Greece said it would stop blocking the former Yugoslav republic’s path to membership of Nato and the European Union. Greece had opposed its young northern neighbour gaining international recognition, asserting sole rights to the Macedonia name.

Outgoing president Gjorge Ivanov, who couldn’t seek re-election due to term limits, tried to derail or delay the deal with Greece that gave rise to the name change.

The deal emerged as the main campaign issue of the presidential contest. Siljanovska vowed to challenge the agreement in the international court of justice in the Hague.

She said that as a constitutional law professor, she would “respect” the deal but also “will do my best to show that some of the solutions are against Macedonia’s constitution and against ... the norms of the United Nations.”

Pendarovski said after he voted in the capital of Skopje that he expected North Macedonia to become a full member of Nato and the EU. He said he was a strong supporter of the deal with Greece that “fully preserves the national interest of both countries”.

Reka expressed hope that North Macedonia would “prove that it is ready for the start of the accession talks with the European Union.”

More than 3,000 domestic and about 420 international observers monitored the election. Domestic election observers said the election proceeded calmly.

North Macedonia’s struggles include a stagnant economy, more than 20% unemployment and pervasive corruption. At least 400,000 people, most of them young, have left the country in the past decade.

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« Reply #3680 on: Today at 04:30 AM »

Is Benjamin Netanyahu about to go rogue in Jerusalem? All the signs are there

Mick Dumper

Flushed with election success and politically tooled-up with Trump’s support, he now has the holy Islamic sites in his sights

Mon 22 Apr 2019 08.00 BST

Is Israel lining up its ducks for another dramatic unilateral action in Jerusalem? The portents are there in the recent Israeli election campaign, a campaign that returned Benjamin Netanyahu to power with a small but even more nationalist coalition majority.

Emboldened by Donald Trump’s decision in 2017 to recognise Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, both at the expense of Palestinian claims to a capital in the eastern parts of the city and in contravention of scores of UN resolutions, Netanyahu made campaign promises to annex additional parts of the Israel-occupied West Bank and ruled out any possibility of concessions to the Palestinians over Jerusalem.

As the election posters are removed, the great concern emerging in Palestinian East Jerusalem is that Netanyahu is politically strong enough, with both a new mandate and an increasingly compliant US administration behind him, to allow him to act with greater impunity with regard to the Christian and Islamic holy sites of the city.

A particular flashpoint is the al-Aqsa mosque, one of the holiest shrines in the Islamic world, in a large courtyard the size of London’s Green Park known as the Haram al-Sharif. Control over this site has been contentious since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967. Despite its victory, Israel recognised the central role of this site in Islam and Palestinian nationalism, and the powerful forces it would provoke if Israel sought to take it over. It allowed a Jordanian-appointed and funded body, the Waqf administration, to continue to manage the site and be responsible for its upkeep. Internal matters such as the conduct of the mass prayers in the courtyard were the responsibility of the Waqf administration, but the security of the perimeter was managed by the Israeli police.

Over the past two decades, however, there has been a resurgence of Israeli religious movements which have sought to force the Israeli government’s hand in eroding the authority of the Waqf administration and Palestinian access to the Haram al-Sharif. They are driven by the increasingly strident claim that the al-Aqsa mosque and other Islamic sites in the Haram al-Sharif were built upon the ruins of Solomon’s Temple. But they also fear that if negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian leadership were to resume – and succeed – they would necessarily involve Israeli recognition of Palestinian sovereignty over the Haram al-Sharif. Consequently, Israeli settler groups have redoubled their efforts to derail the arrangements at the site. These groups constitute a core part of Netanyahu’s base.

Ignoring Judaic religious injunctions, Israeli legislation and Jordanian-Israeli agreements not to conduct Jewish prayers on the site, larger and larger numbers of Israeli settlers and religious Jews have been entering the site to pray more and more frequently. Parties of up to 50 Jewish worshippers, accompanied by paramilitary police, have led to altercations with Waqf guards, demonstrations by Palestinian Muslim worshippers, age restrictions on Muslims allowed access to the site, and a breakdown in security cooperation between Waqf officials and the Israeli police.

These spikes in violence are likely to lead to a more significant outbreak of fighting in the near future, and the absence of a restraining US presence is critical. In 2015, when the stand–off between Jewish worshippers attempting to pray on the site and Palestinian Muslims determined to stop them was at its peak, the Jordanian government called on the then US secretary of state, John Kerry to intervene. King Abdullah of Jordan made it clear that if the US was concerned about Isis in Syria, unless it intervened to scale down the provocations on the Haram al-Sharif, he, as custodian of the site recognised by Israel and the Islamic world, would be swept aside and the US would find Isis growing not only in Amman but also in Jerusalem. Under US pressure, Netanyahu blinked, halted the tacit support for the settlers, and a new modus operandi was established.

However, since February this year, a new flashpoint around the Golden Gate – a highly symbolic entrance to the Haram al-Sharif – has led to a series of clashes between Israeli police and Muslim worshippers. Waqf officials and the Jordanian government are well aware that they are on their own, without any US support for the conflict reduction measures that were previously introduced.

Flushed with his electoral victory, and politically tooled-up with US support for his annexationist dreams, Netanyahu has the Islamic sites of Jerusalem in his line of fire. He exhibits all the hallmarks of a politician about to go rogue.

• Mick Dumper, author of Jerusalem Unbound: Geography, History and the Future of the Holy City, is professor of Middle East politics, University of Exeter

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« Reply #3681 on: Today at 04:51 AM »

Mueller’s report: A profile of a president willing to sell out his country

Jared Yates Sexton, Salon - COMMENTARY
22 Apr 2019 at 06:25 ET                  

When Attorney General William Barr provided a brief, four-page summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation on March 22, it was obvious there were more questions remaining than answers. The full report was rumored to have clocked in at well over three hundred pages and Barr’s summary left much to be desired as to just what Mueller had uncovered. The message that Donald Trump would not be charged with offenses directly relating to Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, and that the Department of Justice had decided not to file charges of obstruction of justice, was met by celebration with some and puzzlement by others.

Having finally had a chance to look at an initial, redacted version of the report, Americans got a chance last Thursday to see for themselves just what horrors Attorney General Barr had been trying to bury for his president. In Mueller’s 448-page detailed narrative of his investigation, we saw the story of a campaign deeply steeped in Russian efforts to undermine our free and fair elections and a president attempting to or actively breaking the law to cover it up.

Though Barr’s continued misinformation campaign was meant to spin the report and Trump flip-flopped from trumpeting the investigation as totally exonerating him to characterizing it as “bullshit” on Saturday, Mueller leaves little doubt in his report as to just what he found. It’s as bad as anyone could have imagined, and, in many cases, so much worse.

The first volume of the report details the Russian hacking of the 2016 Presidential election, its many operations that intended to aid Donald Trump’s election, and a troubling account of interactions between Trump’s campaign and those Russian operations. Though Mueller wasn’t able to prove there was an explicit conspiracy between Russia and the campaign, what he did find was a slew of interactions wherein the campaign and Russian individuals communicated and cooperated, every instance toeing the line between conduct that was technically legal but disturbing, and outright criminal.

It’s here that we see a clear picture emerging of the Trump Campaign as an organized crime cell where those involved are either so versed in shady activities that they’re able to skirt the line or else so incompetent that they couldn’t possibly be aware where the line was. In the case of Donald Trump, Jr., his meeting with Russians in Trump Tower fell into the latter territory as Mueller could not determine that he knew what he was doing was illegal and wasn’t sure he could successfully prosecute the president’s son.

In a disturbing incident, the Trump Campaign was not able to carry out conspiracy, but seemingly not for a lack of trying. Ordered by Trump to track down Hillary Clinton’s “missing emails,” Michael Flynn, the disgraced former National Security Advisor, contacted now-deceased operative Peter Smith, who attempted to reach foreign spies in Russia, China, and Iran. Erik Prince, founder of the mercenary force Blackwater and brother of current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, was involved in trying to find the emails and also attempted to meet with Russian individuals.

Another disturbing incident involved Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager who is currently in prison for a spate of crimes, who maintained ties with Russia after years of fixing relations for them in Ukraine and effectively instituting puppets for Vladimir Putin. Manafort provided Russian intelligence figure Konstantin Kilimnik with campaign polling numbers and discussed the swing states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Minnesota, states that played an integral role in the election, thus raising the question: Did this conversation guide Russian interference in that direction?

That question remained unanswered, along with a slew of others, including how Trump and his campaign learned exactly when WikiLeaks would release the stolen DNC emails it had obtained from Russia, an anticipation that included an extensive media plan by the Trump Campaign that would capitalize on the problematic reveal of Democratic communiqués. Also, Mueller reaped no judgment as to whether it amounted to conspiracy when Donald Trump asked Russia on live television to find Clinton’s emails, a call that was actually met by Russian actions five hours later to do exactly what the Republican candidate asked them to do.

In the question of obstruction, Mueller may not have come to a conclusion, but the reason was a far cry from what Barr tried to sell to the public. Citing Department of Justice laws, Mueller admitted he could not indict a sitting president, but obviously intended for the matter to be decided by a Congress with a constitutional duty to impeach a criminal president. In this case, Mueller laid out several instances of Trump attempting to obstruct his investigation, both in public and private.

What is perhaps most upsetting about Mueller’s details of the obstruction case is that Trump attempted many times to actively commit the crime of obstruction, only for subordinates to refuse his orders. Donald McGahn threatened to resign after Trump told him to fire Mueller and lie about it. Chris Christie counseled Trump several times not to obstruct justice. Reince Priebus, his former chief of staff, tried to manage Trump but still found himself calling Michael Flynn to take his temperature and assure him he would be taken care of.

The case Mueller lays out for obstruction and possibly impeachment is compelling. It paints the portrait of a rogue president so desperate to avoid the probing eye of investigation, in some cases for concerns outside of the Russian matter, that he flails about and often breaks the law. In one instance, Trump raged over the perceived weakness of his former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, rambling at length about past attorneys general he believed were loyal to their presidents and protected them from prosecution, saying he needed an AG willing to break the law and inform him of investigations.

Overall, what was found within the report is a damning incrimination of a president willing to sell out his country, turn his back on duty and loyalty, and win at all costs, even if that meant cooperating with a foreign power in undermining free and fair elections. What’s more, it tells the tale of a man so unfit for office that those around him are constantly betraying his orders in an attempt to avoid their own prosecution.

Despite William Barr’s irresponsible spinning, this is the story of a prosecutor communicating to the American people and their representatives that the evidence is clear and critical. There are elements of both sections, conspiracy and obstruction, where Mueller was stymied by either eyewitnesses stonewalling or ongoing investigations yet to yield information, but Congress should act on this investigation and launch their own inquiries, more than likely opening the door to impeachment.

It’s hard, following a long and critical look at this report, to come to any conclusion other than Donald Trump should be impeached and removed from office. Some will argue Democrats should not pursue this course because an impeachment would undoubtedly fail in a Republican Senate, but what Mueller has presented to the American people is a textbook case of an executive committing high crimes. Regardless of what Trump and his crony Attorney General claim, not to mention what his sycophantic news network and media orbit will scream from primetime to sign off, this story isn’t an exoneration, it’s a tragedy.


Comrades in arms: Russian state media is running Sean Hannity Fox News clips defending Trump

Raw Story

According to a report at the Daily Beast, Russian state media has taken to running Fox News clips of host Sean Hannity defending President Donald Trump from allegations contained in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

As Lachlan Markay writes, “Russian state media is nonetheless trumpeting the reaction of U.S. conservatives to the report, which found that the Trump campaign was not complicit in those election-meddling efforts, as evidence of a broad anti-Russian conspiracy in the U.S. And it’s using at least one prominent American conservative voice to do so.”

To wit: coverage and commentary on the report from Sean Hannity, who might possibly be Trump’s biggest defender.

“The Russian government-owned Rossiya 1 news channel recently broadcasted excerpts from Fox News primetime host Sean Hannity’s on-air monologue, which hammered ‘media hysteria’ over the report and allegations of campaign ‘collusion’ with the Russian government,” Lachlan reports.

The report is based upon a tweet from Russia media observer Julia Davis which can be seen below:

    #Russia‘s state TV broadcasts Hannity’s commentary, attacking the #MuellerReport in perfect synchrony with the Kremlin. pic.twitter.com/pJqhLvhtqc

    — Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) April 21, 2019


What happened behind the scenes of Lester Holt interview where Trump admitted obstruction

Raw Story

The nearly 400 pages of political insanity detailed in special counsel Robert Mueller’s report about President Donald Trump and the Russia investigation have become a mining operation for politicos.

One of the latest finds sifted out was what happened behind the scenes in the infamous Lester Holt interview where the president seemed to admit to obstruction of justice.

“The next day, on May 11, 2017, the President participated in an interview with Lester Holt,” the Mueller report reads on page 285. “The President told White House Counsel’s Office attorneys in advance of the interview that the communications team could not get the story right, so he was going on Lester Holt to say what really happened.”

Axios reported Sunday after finding the tidbit of political gold while searching through the findings.

“I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story,” Trump said to former FBI Director James Comey as he was firing him, according to the Holt interview.

The White House said that Comey was fired because he bungled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, but Trump dropped the bomb that it wasn’t true.

Trump asked deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to give him a report that gave a reason to fire Comey.

“What I did is I was going to fire Comey, my decision,” Trump admitted during the interview Holt. “I was going to fire regardless of recommendation. He made a recommendation. He’s highly respected. Very good guy, very smart guy, the Democrats like him, the Republicans like him, he made a recommendation. But regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”

Instead of putting the problem to rest, Mueller was appointed to look into the scandal. Trump’s response to the appointment was: “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m f*cked.”

The Holt interview gave prosecutors another reason to look into Trump, Axios explained.

“He was full of righteous indignation,” the site cited one source on Trump. “He said something like, ‘Never forget, no one speaks for me but me. These people [Trump’s communications team] don’t know what they’re talking about. But I do, believe me.'”

Comey was floored this wasn’t enough to prosecute the president.

“So the idea that a special counsel wouldn’t reach the question and hand it to the political leadership doesn’t make sense,” said Comey in an interview last week.


Trump hurt by Mueller report as voters side with press coverage

Matthew Rozsa, Salon
22 Apr 2019 at 15:54 ET                  

The release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the Trump-Russia scandal has taken a toll on the president’s polling numbers.

This article first appeared in Salon.

A survey conducted by Reuters/Ipsos from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning found that President Donald Trump’s numbers are the lowest that they’ve been this year. Trump’s approval rating was at 37 percent, down from 40 percent on April 15 and 43 percent following the release of Attorney General Bill Barr’s summary of the Mueller report. This indicates that whatever initial benefits Trump received from Barr’s spin on the Mueller report have worn off, if not worse.

Only 15 percent of the individuals surveyed said that the Mueller report had changed their opinion on the Trump-Russia investigation, with 40 percent saying Trump should be impeached and 42 percent saying that he should not be impeached. Perhaps most damning, 58 percent of Americans believe that Trump attempted to instruct the Mueller investigation.

One prominent Republican who has spoken out against Trump in the aftermath of the Mueller report is Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah. In a statement on Friday, Romney said that he was happy that “the business of government can move on” but added that he was “sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the President. I am also appalled that, among other things, fellow citizens working in a campaign for president welcomed help from Russia — including information that had been illegally obtained; that none of them acted to inform law enforcement; and that the campaign chairman was actively promoting Russian interests in Ukraine.”

He added, “Reading the report is a sobering revelation of how far we have strayed from the aspirations and principles of the founders.”

Trump responded to Romney’s statement on the following day by tweeting that “if @MittRomney spent the same energy fighting Barack Obama as he does fighting Donald Trump, he could have won the race (maybe)!”

Princeton author Julian Zellizer wrote a scathing condemnation of the Trump administration based on the Mueller report, one that was published on CNN.

“Indeed, if this is a ‘good’ report for the President, it is hard to imagine what a bad one would look like,” Zelizer wrote.

He added, “It turns out that much of the news we have been reading was accurate, not fake — about the Trump Tower project, about the contacts between campaign officials and individuals connected with Russia, and about the President’s efforts to fire Mueller. It seems that numerous investigations spun out of Mueller’s inquiry are very much in play.”

By contrast The Intercept writer and co-editor Glenn Greenwald wrote an editorial claiming that the Mueller report had disproved Democratic accusations against Trump.

“In sum, Democrats and their supporters had the exact prosecutor they all agreed was the embodiment of competence and integrity in Robert Mueller,” Greenwald wrote. After describing the resources that Mueller at his disposal, Greenwald concluded, “The result of all of that was that not a single American – whether with the Trump campaign or otherwise – was charged or indicted on the core question of whether there was any conspiracy or coordination with Russia over the election. No Americans were charged or even accused of being controlled by or working at the behest of the Russian government. None of the key White House aides at the center of the controversy who testified for hours and hours – including Donald Trump, Jr. or Jared Kushner – were charged with any crimes of any kind, not even perjury, obstruction of justice or lying to Congress.”


Trump’s lifelong pattern of crime exposed in Mueller report — but it’s much bigger than that

Amanda Marcotte, Salon - COMMENTARY

Despite Attorney General Bill Barr’s epic spin campaign, it’s swiftly becoming clear that the report written by special counsel Robert Mueller after an investigation into Donald Trump’s campaign ties to a Russian criminal conspiracy to interfere with the 2016 election is damning indeed. Not only did Mueller catalog considerable evidence that Trump’s relationship to the Russian conspiracy was, shall we say, warm, he laid out, in helpful 10-point format, Trump’s various efforts Trump to obstruct any investigation into said relationship (or into any other crimes that such an investigation might uncover).

The picture of Trump painted by the Mueller report is a man who not only doesn’t hesitate before committing crimes, but thinks nothing of asking — indeed, badgering — his underlings into doing it for him. The level of entitlement Trump feels to have other people commit crimes on his behalf makes Richard Nixon look like an Eagle Scout.

Mueller’s report focuses on the pattern of behavior around the Russia investigation, in which Trump repeatedly tried to use his power as president to interfere, and kept demanding that reluctant White House employees lie and obstruct on his behalf. But Trump’s behavior is hardly limited to efforts to protect his own hide from law enforcement. Other media reports, particularly around Trump’s behavior towards Department of Homeland Security employees, show that Trump will demand that subordinates break the law to achieve his political goals as well.

In one particularly cinematic moment, Mueller describes Trump as fuming because his first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, recused himself from supervising the Russia investigation, when Trump explicitly expected Sessions to use the powers of his office to protect Trump from legal accountability. Trump called White House counsel Don McGahn into his office and complained, “I don’t have a lawyer.” According to the report, the president “brought up Roy Cohn, stating that he wished Cohn was his attorney.” (Cohn, a notoriously dirty lawyer with Republican ties going back to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, worked with Trump for years, until shortly before his death from HIV-related illness in 1986.)

Trump did not want to let this go, even though he was told repeatedly — even by Steve Bannon, a man whose absence of morality rivals Trump’s own — that Sessions simply couldn’t do Trump’s dirty work in this case. Mueller reports that Trump continued brow-beating Sessions and McGahn and other employees, both about interfering with the investigation and also about covering up the attempts to interfere with the investigation.

The behavior exhibited by Trump regarding the Russia investigation is mirrored closely by reports of his behavior towards Homeland Security officials, from recently-departed Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen down. Less than two weeks ago, Trump forced Nielsen to resign and a slew of ensuing media reports revealed the main reason why: He kept demanding that Nielsen break the law. Although she had enforced all sorts of cruel and unnecessary policies, she was unwilling to do that.

Trump, driven by both racism and corruption, really does not want to allow migrants from Central America into the country to apply for political asylum, and simply does not accept that both U.S. law and international agreements give them that right. So he reportedly plagued Nielsen repeatedly, even calling her at home in the early morning hours, demanding that DHS simply stop accepting asylum applications in direct violation of the law.

While Nielsen got the brunt of the browbeating, Trump reportedly pressed other law enforcement officials to ignore the law as well. Jake Tapper at CNN reported that when visiting border agents in Calexico, California, Trump told them simply to deny entry to asylum seekers and then to disobey judges who might try to compel them to follow the law. Trump’s closest adviser on immigration, the justly notorious Stephen Miller, has also reportedly been calling federal agencies to demand the illegal blocking of immigrants at the border.

Later, Tapper reported that Trump tried the same ploy with Customs and Border Protection commissioner Kevin McAleenan, who has since replaced Nielsen as acting secretary of Homeland Security. Trump asked McAleenan to deny entry — at risk of repetition, that’s a direct violation of the law — and suggested he might offer a presidential pardon if McAleenan got into legal trouble for it. House Democrats are now moving to add this incident to the unfathomably long list of misdeeds by Trump that they need to investigate.

It became an overnight but still utterly true cliché to note that Trump appears to think he is a mob boss running a criminal organization, right down to the comically on-the-nose details such as Trump berating McGahn, his former White House counsel, by declaring, “Lawyers don’t take notes.” This behavior is chilling enough when we consider how Trump abuses his power, both to shield himself from legal accountability and also to enrich himself at the public’s expense.

But this pattern of mob-boss behavior replicating itself in Trump’s dealings with Homeland Security officials shows that the problem extends well past concerns about Trump’s personal corruption. His criminality is starting to affect public policy, and the fundamental question of whether or not the laws created by Congress and through international agreements — laws created, in other words, through our democratic and diplomatic systems — will be respected and enforced. Trump cannot achieve his ends through legal, political means. Since he has zero qualms about committing crimes, he’s looking to achieve them by illegal means instead.

The one silver lining in both the Mueller report and in Trump’s reported interactions with Homeland Security officials is this: Despite Trump’s relentless battering of our political institutions and the widespread support he has from elected Republicans in his efforts, those institutions are actually holding up pretty well.

As the Mueller report explains, “The President’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders or accede to his requests.”

People who work for Trump are still afraid they may face legal and professional consequences for breaking the law on his behalf. We see this in the Mueller report with officials like Sessions and McGahn, and we see it in the behavior of Nielsen and other Homeland Security officials who may agree with Trump’s noxious anti-immigration policies, but have so far been reluctant to act on his illegal orders, if only out of a sense of self-preservation.

But there are reasons to worry that this line may not hold, because Trump has figured out a blunt but effective way to push his agenda: If people who work for you won’t break the law or violate their professional ethics, fire them and find someone who will. That’s how he managed to drum Sessions out of the attorney general’s office, only to replace him first with Matt Whitaker, a thoroughly unqualified flunkey, and then with Barr, who appears all too happy to run interference on the president’s behalf (though so far, at least technically, following the law). Trump appears to have similar hopes that McAleenan will do the unsavory and possibly illegal things that Nielsen balked at doing.

There is only so much pressure the system can take from Trump’s seemingly endless energy for battering our political institutions. The longer he stays in office, the bolder he gets about pressuring subordinates to do unethical and illegal things, and the more surefooted he gets in ridding himself of those who won’t. If he is re-elected next year, the increasingly fragile laws and institutions that protect our democracy could collapse for good.


Mueller went looking for a conspiracy — what he found was conflict and a cover-up

Pro Publica
22 Apr 2019 at 10:47 ET                  

On Thursday, the “Trump, Inc.” team gathered with laptops, pizza and Post-its to disconnect — and to read special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

What we found was page after page of jaw-dropping details about the inner workings of the administration of President Donald Trump, meetings with foreign officials and plots to affect our elections. But we also found rich details on how Trump ran his business dealings in Russia, itself the subject of our recent episode on his Moscow business partners.

It backed up a lot of our earlier reporting: The deal with Andrey Rozov, a relatively unknown developer whose claim to international prominence was the purchase of a building in Manhattan’s garment district, did go further than agreements with other developers. The type of development they were hoping for would need signoff from Russia’s powers that be — namely, President Vladimir Putin — potentially putting Trump in the position of owing favors to a hostile foreign power. And the deal went on longer than the Trump campaign wanted the public to know, with the then-candidate rebuffing Michael Cohen’s concerns about the accuracy of his portrayal of his relationships with Russia.

Here are a few of our takeaways:

The deal was bigger…

The Mueller report puts the terms of Trump’s most infamous Trump Tower deal side by side with a failed prior deal with the family of Russian pop star Emin Agalarov. In doing so, it proposes an answer to why Trump chose to move forward with Rozov: he offered Trump a much better deal.

In fact, Cohen said the tower overall “was potentially a $1 billion deal.” Under the terms of the agreement, the Trump Organization would get an upfront fee, a share of sales and rental revenue, and an additional 20% of the operating profit. The deal offered by the well-known Agalarov developers, in contrast, would have brought in a flat 3.5%. We’d tried to reach Rozov to talk about the deal for our earlier reporting. He never responded.

For Trump, this agreement promised to be the deal of a lifetime.

There were more Russian contacts…

The report says Cohen and Felix Sater, a fixer who brought the Trump Organization together with the potential developer for the Moscow deal, both believed securing Putin’s endorsement was key. There was also plenty of outreach from Russians, many of them offering to make that very connection.

But even as the two were figuring out how to pitch the tower plan to Putin, at least three intermediaries who claimed to have connections to the Russian president were reaching out to Trump and his associates. They promised help with Trump’s business interests and his campaign, the report says.

One was Dmitry Klokov, whom Cohen looked up online and mistakenly identified as a former Olympic weightlifter. Klokov, in fact, worked for a government-owned electric company and was a former aide to Russia’s energy minister. He told Cohen he could facilitate a meeting with a “person of interest” — that is, Putin — and also offered help creating “synergy on a government level.” But Klokov’s overtures for talks on matters beyond mere business interests were rebuffed by Cohen.

The report also clarified that it was Sater who approached the Russian developer with the idea of a Trump Tower Moscow — and later brought his pitch to the Trump Organization. This sequence of events raises new questions about whether the tower deal, which Trump had wanted for decades, was part of multiple intelligence approaches by the Russian government to Trump and his advisers at the time.

One other figure in our previous Trump Moscow episode surfaced again in the Mueller report: Yevgeny Dvoskin, a Russian national with a U.S. criminal record and alleged ties to organized crime. Dvoskin is now a part-owner of Genbank, a small Russian bank sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury. He grew up in Brighton Beach at the same time as Sater, who, in 2016, called on Dvoskin to invite Trump and Cohen to Russia for an exploratory visit. To arrange the invitation, Dvoskin asked for copies of Cohen’s and Trump’s passports, which Cohen was happy to provide. The Mueller report says that Trump’s personal assistant even brought Trump’s passport to Cohen’s office, but that it is not clear whether it was ever passed on to Sater.

Sater declined to comment for the podcast. Genbank and Dvoskin did not respond to earlier requests for comment.

And there was more cover-up…

Mueller describes continued efforts to mislead investigators and the public about the Trump Moscow deal and associates’ contacts with Russian officials. Many of the details are gleaned from Cohen’s cooperation.

Cohen confronted Trump after he denied having business ties to Russia in July 2016 and pointed out that Trump Tower Moscow was still in play. “Trump told Cohen that Trump Tower Moscow was not a deal yet and said, ‘Why mention it if it is not a deal?’” according to the Mueller report.

To maintain Cohen’s loyalty during the investigation, multiple Trump staff members and friends told him the “boss” “loves you,” according to the Mueller report. “You are loved,” another associate told him in an email. Cohen also said the president’s lawyer told him he’d be protected as long as he didn’t go “rogue.”

The report concludes that active negotiations in Moscow continued into the summer of 2016. Cohen told Mueller’s team that the project wasn’t officially dead until January 2017, when it was listed with other deals that needed to be “closed out” ahead of the inauguration.

After admitting to lying to Congress about when the Moscow deal fizzled, Cohen told Mueller about the “script,” or talking points he’d developed with Trump to downplay his ties to Russia. He also said he believed lawyers associated with his joint defense agreement — including attorneys for the president — edited out a key line about communications with Russia from his congressional testimony. The offending line: “The building project led me to make limited contacts with Russian government officials.”


Maxine Waters pummels ‘no credibility’  Miss Lindsey 'i love being Trump's drag queen' Graham: He’s ‘in bed with the president of the United States’

Raw Story

During her weekly appearance on MSNBC’s AM Joy, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) went after Miss Sen. Lindsey 'i love being Trump's drag queen'Graham (R-SC) for his slavish devotion to Donald Trump, saying the Senate Judiciary Committee chair is “in bed with the president.”

Speaking with host Joy Reid, Waters expressed disgust with Graham’s intentions on going after Justice Department officials who investigated the president and proceeded to call him out.

“If you’re referring to Miss Lindsey 'i love being Trump's drag queen' Graham, you know that his word cannot be trusted,” the fiery Waters explained. “Remember when he used to be a friend of John McCain’s and remember when she turned on him?”

“I don’t know where he would go with this except to say he’s now in bed with the president of the United States of America and whatever he does now is about protecting this president no matter what he does,” she continued. “And so Lindsey does not have any real credibility and I pay no attention to what he has to say.”

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXXc-ETuoyc

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MSNBC’s Morning Joe and Mika mock Trump for insisting he’s happy — even as he keeps churning out angry tweets

Raw Story

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinksi ridiculed President Donald Trump for spending the weekend insisting he had “never been happier” after Robert Mueller’s findings were issued.

The “Morning Joe” co-hosts opened Monday’s program by reading the president’s Easter tweet and rolling video of his surrogates proclaiming Trump’s happiness after the special counsel report revealed evidence of obstruction.

    Happy Easter! I have never been happier or more content because your Country is doing so well, with an Economy that is the talk of the World and may be stronger than it has ever been before. Have a great day!

    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 21, 2019

“Happy people always tell you how happy they are,” Brzezinski said, “much like smart people who always tell you (how smart they are).”

They rolled video of Trump bragging about his intelligence and academic credentials, and Scarborough laughed out loud.

“I’m so happy and I’m so smart,” Brzezinski said.

“Despite the president as angry as he was,” Scarborough said, “both the president and his aides want to tell you that they’re happy. I think this shows resilience, and I think it shows the sort of can-do attitude needs to have even after one has been found guilty in a report of possibly obstructing justice. They couldn’t even clear him, which makes me sad.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HseasTacBys

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The Mueller Report Special With Ari Melber 4/21/19 | MSNBC Breaking News April 21, 2019

Please watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fs_93n0SPzE

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‘They just lie’: Morning Joe and Mika call for TV ban of Sarah Sanders, Rudy Giuliani and Kellyanne Conway

Raw Story

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski called for a ban on interviews of some of President Donald Trump’s chief surrogates because they lie so much.

The “Morning Joe” co-hosts said White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani lacked credibility, and interviewing them was a waste of time.

“Do we interview Sarah Huckabee Sanders?” Brzezinski said. “Do we put her on the air at this point? What happens to briefings, if they ever come back? Where do we go with a situation like this?”

Jonathan Lemire, White House correspondent for the Associated Press, said previous press secretaries have shaded the truth to benefit the president they served, but he said the Sanders situation was substantially different.

“We didn’t see the outright falsehoods and outright lies,” Lemire said. “Not just the media, but the American public is to rely on the White House normally as an authority of truth where you can believe and trust in your government. I do think it creates a tricky situation going forward. It’s the same with Kellyanne Conway, where she’s gone on television and given falsehoods and does she deserve air time. We would look to have her come back to the podium and be able to ask her questions.”

Brzezinski said she won’t interview Conway, because she’d long ago given away her credibility.

“That’s why we don’t have Kellyanne on, because it’s literally 20 minutes of lies,” she said.

Scarborough said other Trump representatives had the same problem.

“I was watching Rudy Giuliani this weekend,” he said. “I don’t understand why anybody would have Sarah Sanders on if they know she’s going to lie, and Kellyanne Conway, if they know they’re going to lie.”

“This isn’t opinion, it isn’t subjective, it is objective,” Scarborough added. “You can stack their words up against words they’ve used in the past and they just lie, and they do it if they would like to get angry about that, we’d be glad to run clips all day tomorrow showing their lies. But the same thing with Rudy Giuliani, the host was asking him things and he was saying things that were objectively false.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prrg-ZdBcvU

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