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« Reply #2160 on: Nov 08, 2018, 05:41 AM »

One Legacy of Merkel? Angry East German Men Fueling the Far Right

How the Far Right Is Shaking Germany’s Political Order

By Cora Engelbrecht, Brian Dawson, Ben Laffin and Katrin Bennhold
NY Times
Nov. 8, 2018

EBERSBACH-NEUGERSDORF, Germany — Frank Dehmel was on the streets of East Germany in 1989. Every Monday, he marched against the Communist regime, demanding freedom and democracy and chanting with the crowds: “We are the people!”

Three decades later, Mr. Dehmel is on the streets again, older and angrier, and chanting the same slogan — this time for the far right.

He won freedom and democracy when the Berlin Wall came down 29 years ago on Nov. 9. But he lost everything else: His job, his status, his country — and his wife. Like so many eastern women, she went west to look for work and never came back.

To understand why the far right is on the march again in Germany, it helps to understand the many grievances of its most loyal supporters: men in the former Communist East.

The emergence of Eastern Man as a disruptive political force stands as a prime legacy of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 13 years in power. As she prepared Germans last week for her eventual political exit, some noted that, politically at least, her Germany was more divided between East and West than at any point since reunification.

No doubt the far right has made gains across Germany. The Alternative for Germany, or AfD, won 13 percent of votes in last year’s elections, enough to make it the leading opposition voice in Parliament. It is now represented in every one of the country’s 16 state legislatures.

But support for the AfD in the East is on average more than double that in the West. Among eastern men, the party is the strongest political force, with 28 percent having cast their ballots for the AfD last year.

Eastern Man, a figure long patronized, pitied or just ignored in the West, is in the process of again reshaping German politics.

No one more embodies the frustrations of eastern men — or has been more the object of their ire — than Ms. Merkel, an eastern woman who rose to the pinnacle of power and provides a daily reminder of their own failure.

Yet Ms. Merkel never became the ambassador for the East that people yearned for: Living standards in the region still lag those in the West, even after what is perceived as a traumatic economic takeover.

Mr. Dehmel calls her a “traitor” and worse.

After reunification, Mr. Dehmel recalled, western men in suits and Mercedes-Benzes arrived in his eastern home state of Saxony, soon running businesses, running universities, running the regional government, “running everything.”

And that was before more than a million asylum seekers, many of them young men, came to Germany in 2015.

“I didn’t risk my skin back then to become a third-class citizen,” said Mr. Dehmel, now 57, counting off the perceived hierarchy on his fingers: “First there are western Germans, then there are asylum seekers, then it’s us.”

One-third of male voters in Saxony, where he lives, cast their ballots for the far right last year — by far more than any other place in the country.

“We have a crisis of masculinity in the East and it is feeding the far right,” said Petra Köpping, minister for integration in Saxony.

When Ms. Köpping took office in 2014, she thought her job was to integrate immigrants. But as hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers began arriving in Germany a year later, a middle-aged white man heckled her at a town-hall-style meeting.

“Why don’t you integrate us first?” the man had shouted.

That question, which has since become the title of a book written by Ms. Köpping, prompted her to tour her eastern home state and interview dozens of angry men. The disappointed hopes and humiliations of 1989, she found, still fester.

Some three million jobs, most of them in traditionally male industries, were lost over two years. The working-class heroes of Socialism became the working-class losers of capitalism.

East German men were abandoned by their newly united country practically overnight, Ms. Köpping said: “They are the original left-behinds.”

And they were quite literally left behind — by the women.

Long before the #MeToo movement, Communism succeeded in creating a broad class of women who were independent, emancipated, often better educated and working in more adaptable service jobs than eastern men.

After the wall came down, the East lost more than 10 percent of its population. Two-thirds of those who left and did not come back were young women.

It was the most extreme case of female flight in Europe, said Reiner Klingholz, director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, who has studied the phenomenon. Only the Arctic Circle and a few islands off the coast of Turkey suffer comparable male-female imbalances.

In large swaths of rural eastern Germany, men today still outnumber women, and the regions where the women disappeared map almost exactly onto the regions that vote for the Alternative for Germany today.

“There is a gender element to the rise of the far right that is not sufficiently acknowledged and studied,” Mr. Klingholz said.

Only 16 percent of the Alternative for Germany’s registered members are women. And only 9 percent of female voters cast their ballot for the party last year, compared with 16 percent of male voters.

The far right is disproportionally male. And so is eastern Germany.

There are on average nine women for every 10 men between the ages of 20 to 40 in the former East, statistics from 2015 show. But that average disguises a surplus of women in big cities — and a much starker shortage in smaller towns and rural areas.

Chemnitz, the site of far-right riots in late August, has eight women for every 10 men ages 20 to 40. In Weisskeissel, a village near the Polish border, the ratio is three women to five men. In Glaubitz, it is almost one woman to four men.

Mr. Dehmel’s hometown, Ebersbach, once a thriving textile hub on the Czech border, lost seven in 10 of its jobs and almost half its population after 1989. Schools were closed and train services cut. To halt the decline it merged with the neighboring town of Neugersdorf.

“We lost a generation,” said Verena Hergenröder, the mayor of Ebersbach-Neugersdorf, an independent.

Unemployment, once over 25 percent, is now below 3 percent. But the region feels less than thriving. Empty dwellings dot residential neighborhoods. The train station is boarded up. One bit of graffiti proclaims: “There is enough love for everyone.”

But people here know that is not true.

There were two women for every three men ages 22 to 35 when Mr. Klingholz and his team visited in 2007 to make it a case study. That generation is now 11 years older — the core voting age of the Alternative for Germany.

Oliver Graf is one of them. Soft-spoken and polite, Mr. Graf works in construction and volunteers for the local fire brigade. He says he hardly knows anyone “who does not vote for the AfD,” the strongest party in town.

At 37, Mr. Graf says he is ready to start a family. He has been restoring his own house. But he is single, like several of his male friends. It’s a topic of conversation, he said. As he put it, “it’s hard to meet someone.”

The shortfall of women is not visible in everyday life.

“Men don’t know it’s there and if you show them the numbers, they’re often surprised,” Mr. Klingholz said. “All they know is that they have trouble finding a partner.”

Bernd Noack, a former mayor of Ebersbach, remembers being surprised, too, when he was first confronted with the issue a decade ago. “I didn’t believe it at first,” he said.

At the time, he ran the numbers himself. “Twenty-six percent of the young men couldn’t find a wife,” Mr. Noack recalled.

Suddenly some things started making sense, he said: the fights over women in discothèques, the barely disguised hostility toward foreign men in the town.

Once, a local company had brought 24 young apprentices over from Spain. They were urged to stay away from the nightclubs, Mr. Noack said, code for “staying away from the local women,” he said.

The women who have stayed are prominent in public life. Not just the mayor is a woman. The pastor is a woman. One of the few bars open at night, the Brauerei, is run by a woman, too.

Her son helps her out. Her daughter, who graduated from high school in 1989, months before the wall came down, moved away and married a western man. Most marriages between easterners and westerners are between eastern women and western men.

“The anger of eastern men also has something to do with the success of eastern women,” said Frank Richter, an eastern theologian and prominent thinker.

If eastern men dislike Ms. Merkel so viscerally, it is not just because she let in a million asylum seekers, Mr. Richter said, “but because she is so utterly familiar to eastern men and a daily reminder of their own failure.”

Ms. Köpping, another successful eastern woman, worries about the rage. Over the past two years she has toured her home state and held regular citizens’ office hours, trying to understand the anger of the men — and it was, she said, almost always men.

One of them, a 69-year-old former factory worker, broke down in tears when he recounted how his factory had been closed down, the brand new machines sold to a western German company.

Another told her he stopped going to high school reunions because he was too ashamed that, despite multiple retraining programs, he had not found another stable job.

A third, who regularly marches with Pegida, an acronym that stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, raged about young male migrants stabbing and raping “our women.”

“Most men I met have suffered so many injustices and setbacks, they have lost all self-confidence,” Ms. Köpping said.

As of 2015, she added, they also feel threatened by young male migrants, who do not necessarily live anywhere near them, but whose difficult journey proves they are everything eastern men are not — dynamic, determined and driven — “otherwise they would not have made it here in the first place.”

Last year, Ms. Köpping got a postcard from one of the men she had met during a Pegida march. “Dear Ms. Köpping,” it read, “if you get me a wife I will stop marching with Pegida.”

Mr. Dehmel said he, too, takes the train from Ebersbach to Dresden most Mondays to join the weekly Pegida march. In September, he traveled all the way to Chemnitz to join far-right protests after the death of a German man, allegedly at the hands of two asylum seekers.

On a recent afternoon he was buying ammunition for his rifle at the local gun shop. Gunther Fritz, the gun shop owner, who is also single, said it was no coincidence that the slogans on the streets in 2018 are the same ones as in 1989.

“We got a sense of power back then, and we’re not going to let anyone take that away from us,” Mr. Fritz said. “The West was handed democracy after the war, we in the East had to get it for ourselves.”

“You watch,” he added, “we brought down one system. We can do it again.”

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« Reply #2161 on: Nov 08, 2018, 06:06 AM »

Jeff Sessions firing: top Republicans warn Mueller inquiry must continue

Matthew Whitaker, Trump’s interim replacement for attorney general, is longtime critic of special counsel

Jon Swaine in New York
Thu 8 Nov 2018 00.21 GMT

Senior Republicans led a chorus of public warnings that the special counsel Robert Mueller must be allowed to continue his Russia investigation after Donald Trump finally fired his attorney general, Jeff Sessions.

As Trump replaced Sessions with a senior aide, Matthew Whitaker, a critic of Mueller’s inquiry, Senator Susan Collins was amongst the first Republicans to warn: “It is imperative that the Administration not impede the Mueller investigation … Special Counsel Mueller must be allowed to complete his work without interference.”

Mitt Romney, who won the race on Tuesday to become a senator for Utah, aimed his first broadside at Trump, tweeting: “It is imperative that the important work of the Justice Department continues, and that the Mueller investigation proceeds to its conclusion unimpeded.”

As progressives activated a plan for mass protests across the United States, starting at 5pm Thursday in all time zones, the former CIA chief, John Brennan, predicted that it was likely Mueller had already completed his report for the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, who was yesterday relieved of his duty overseeing the investigation into Russian election interference and any collusion with the Trump campaign.

Brennan told MSNBC: “If there are some major indictments coming down the pike, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re going to see it very soon. Generally the report that the special counsel will draft and deliver to Rod Rosenstein, I wouldn’t be surprised if that is ready to go.”

Sessions looked close to tears as he was applauded by justice department staff on his way out of the building on Wednesday night.

His departure came hours after he received a White House call ordering him to resign.

He was replaced by his former chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, who has previously called for Mueller’s investigation to be defunded and reined in.

Trump said in a tweet on Wednesday afternoon that Whitaker had been appointed acting attorney general and that a permanent replacement would be nominated later.

Whitaker, 49, will take charge of the inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign. Sarah Isgur Flores, a justice department spokeswoman, said in an email: “The acting attorney general is in charge of all matters under the purview of the Department of Justice.”

Democrats expressed concern that the president was moving to sabotage Mueller’s investigation, which has obtained guilty pleas to federal criminal charges from Trump’s former campaign chairman, deputy campaign chairman, White House national security adviser and campaign foreign policy adviser.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said in a statement that Whitaker should recuse himself from the Russia issue in light of “his previous comments advocating defunding and imposing limitations on the Mueller investigation”.

Trump’s decision concluded a long-running public feud between the president and his beleaguered attorney general.

Sessions said in an undated letter to Trump released on Wednesday: “At your request, I am submitting my resignation.” He took credit for reversing a recent rise in violent crime. He was later applauded by staff as he left the department’s headquarters.

“We thank Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his service, and wish him well,” Trump said.

A US official said on Wednesday that Sessions was told he had to resign in a telephone call from John Kelly, the White House chief of staff, rather than Trump himself.

Sessions, a former US senator for Alabama, was one of the earliest supporters of Trump’s presidential campaign, but ran into trouble soon after being confirmed to the new administration.

He enraged Trump by recusing himself in March 2017 from investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, following revelations that he had two undisclosed meetings with Sergey Kislyak, then
Sessions had not disclosed the discussions when asked under oath during his Senate confirmation hearing in early 2017 about contacts between Trump’s campaign and Moscow. Following his recusal, the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, took over responsibility for Russia matters.

In May 2017, after Trump fired the FBI director, James Comey, Rosenstein shocked the White House by appointing the former FBI chief Robert Mueller as a special counsel to investigate Russia’s interference and any coordination with Trump’s campaign team.

That investigation has since continued without Sessions being involved, leaving Trump deeply frustrated. Trump has publicly lambasted Sessions for recusing himself, claiming he ought instead to have protected Trump against what the president has termed a “witch-hunt” over Russia. Sessions and Rosenstein have defended Mueller’s integrity.

Whitaker’s view on the investigation appears to be in more line with the president’s. He has publicly proposed choking off funding for Mueller’s investigation and wrote an article for CNN last year declaring that the special counsel was “going too far” and needed to be brought under control.

“The president is absolutely correct,” Whitaker said, after Trump suggested Mueller would exceed his remit by looking into the president’s finances. “Mueller has come up to a red line in the Russia 2016 election-meddling investigation that he is dangerously close to crossing.”

Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York, the likely new chairman of the House judiciary committee, said the American public “must have answers immediately” on Trump’s reasons for firing Sessions.

“Why is the president making this change and who has authority over Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation? We will be holding people accountable,” Nadler said on Twitter.

Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, urged senators from both parties to “speak out now and deliver a clear message” to Trump that he must not interfere with Mueller’s investigation.

Legal analysts said that Trump’s decision, announced soon after a lengthy and chaotic post-midterm election press conference at the White House, may set off a long-feared constitutional crisis over the fate of the inquiry, which followed a conclusion by US intelligence agencies that Russia intervened to help Trump win in 2016.

Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University, said Trump’s replacement of Sessions with Whitaker was arguably an impeachable offence in itself. “This rule of law crisis has been a slow-motion train wreck for a long time,” said Tribe.

In any case, the firing of Sessions will conclude a bitter public dispute between the attorney general and his president that is unprecedented in recent times.

In August, Trump sharply criticised Sessions in a television interview the day after the president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted of fraud – both cases having stemmed from the Mueller investigation.

Trump said: “I put in an attorney general that never took control of the justice department.”

Sessions struck back with a statement that said: “I took control of the Department of Justice the day I was sworn in … While I am attorney general the actions of the department will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”


CNN's Jim Acosta has White House credentials revoked after furious exchange with Trump

President called Acosta a ‘rude, terrible person’ after he refused to give up a microphone while trying to ask a question

Guardian staff and agencies
Thu 8 Nov 2018 07.57 GMT

1:34..White House accuses CNN’s Jim Acosta of 'placing his hands’ on young intern – video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=22&v=xYNM6UQVW04

The White House is revoking the credential pass of CNN reporter Jim Acosta hours after a fiery exchange at a press conference.

Acosta has long been a bitter adversary of the White House. The Hispanic American reporter works for the rolling news channel that has been a particular focus of ire for the administration. CNN has been the network most closely associated with the “fake news” slur, which the president has used consistently to undermine public confidence in the media.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Acosta was trying to challenge Trump over the president’s scare-mongering about the so-called “caravan” of migrants making their way through Mexico.

When Trump tried to brush him off, Acosta refused to surrender a microphone provided by the White House, while trying to ask Trump another question. A female staffer tried to take it from him and Acosta held on. Trump went on to call the reporter “a rude, terrible person”.

    Jim Acosta (@Acosta)

    This is a lie. https://t.co/FastFfWych
    November 8, 2018

Hours later, the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said in a statement: “President Trump believes in a free press and expects and welcomes tough questions of him and his Administration. We will, however, never tolerate a reporter placing his hands on a young woman just trying to do her job as a White House intern. This conduct is absolutely unacceptable. It is also completely disrespectful to the reporter’s colleagues not to allow them an opportunity to ask a question … As a result of today’s incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice.”

In a statement, CNN defended its reporter. “The White House announced tonight that it has revoked the press pass of CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent Jim Acosta,” said the company in a statement. “It was done in retaliation for his challenging questions at today’s press conference. In an explanation, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders lied. She provided fraudulent accusations and cited an incident that never happened. This unprecedented decision is a threat to our democracy and the country deserves better. Jim Acosta has our full support.”

    Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt)

    Trump @PressSec confirms that White House has suspended the hard pass of a reporter because it doesn't like the way he does his job. This is something I've never seen since I started covering the White House in 1996. Other presidents did not fear tough questioning.
    November 8, 2018

The move will be seen as clear interference with the way White House Correspondents’ Association members cover the administration. Only journalists who have been accredited with a “hard pass” can enter White House grounds swiftly through security.

Acosta would theoretically be able to apply for a day pass to continue doing his job, but the process is slow and impractical for any journalist who needs to move freely in and out of the White House.

Appearing on CNN Tuesday night, Acosta said he had first become aware of a problem when security stopped him from entering the White House grounds. It was “a pretty surreal experience” being barred from doing his job because he tried to ask a question of the president, he said.

The White House Correspondents’ Association issued a statement condemning what it called the Trump administration’s “decision to use US Secret Service security credentials as a tool to punish a reporter with whom it has a difficult relationship”.

Calling on the White House to reverse this “weak and misguided action”, it added: “Revoking access to the White House complex is a reaction out of line to the purported offense and is unacceptable.

“We encourage anyone with doubts that this reaction was disproportionate to the perceived offense to view the video of the events from earlier today.”


New acting AG Matt Whitaker said he wanted ‘biblical view of justice’ in federal judiciary: report

Raw Story

Newly appointed acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker put forth religious requirements for federal judges while running as a Republican for the United States Senate, the Des Moines Register reported in 2014.

During an Iowa Family Leader debate moderated by Erick Erickson, Whitaker gave his views on the federal judiciary.

“If they have a secular world view, then I’m going to be very concerned about how they judge,” he explained.

“Natural law often times is used from the eye of the beholder and what I would like to see — I’d like to see things like their world view, what informs them. Are they people of faith? Do they have a biblical view of justice? — which I think is very important because we all know that our government …”

Erickson, the moderator, interrupted his answer with, “Levitical or New Testament?”

“I’m a New Testament,” Whitaker replied. “And what I know is as long as they have that world view, that they’ll be a good judge. And if they have a secular world view, where this is all we have here on Earth, then I’m going to be very concerned about that judge.”

    In 2014, the new acting AG Matt Whitaker said he would only support federal judges who hold a biblical view of justice. https://t.co/eZEQhzC3mC pic.twitter.com/wcoESxNkSx

    — Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) November 8, 2018


‘We have your backs’: CNN President Jeff Zucker rallies reporters after Trump’s attacks on Jim Acosta

Raw Story

CNN President Jeff Zucker attempted to rally the network’s reporters after Donald Trump attacked White House correspondent Jim Acosta during a post-midterms press conference.

“I want you to know that we have your backs,” Zucker said a memo to employees that was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “That this organization believes fiercely in the protections granted to us by the First Amendment, and we will defend them, and you, vigorously, every time.”

In the president’s first press conference of the day on Wednesday, he called Acosta “a rude, terrible person” after the reporter grilled him on insistently calling the Latin American migrant caravan in Mexico an “invasion.”

“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them,” the president said. “You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN. You’re a very rude person. The way you treat Sarah Huckabee Sanders is horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”

Zucker wrote in the memo that Trump’s “ongoing attacks on the press have gone too far” and “are disturbingly un-American.”


‘Way beyond Watergate’’: Watch NBC News historian explain this could be ‘10 times worse than Nixon’

Raw Story

NBC News presidential historian says Donald Trump’s latest actions against special counsel Robert Mueller could be “ten times worse” than the obstruction of justice following Watergate that helped end the administration of President Richard Nixon.

Michael Beschloss, the author of the new book Presidents of War, joined MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber” on Wednesday to discuss Trump ousting Attorney General Jeff Sessions and installing loyalist Matthew Whitaker.

Many believe the actions constituted obstruction of justice.

“Firing of Jeff Sessions — replaced by what looks like a loyalist, who is on the record for narrowing in this probe — where does this rate in comparison to Nixon,” Melber asked.

“Ari, if this is going the way this looks, this is ten times worse than Nixon because, let’s look, if this leads to let’s say the firing of Robert Mueller or the substantial limiting of this investigation — ten times worse than Nixon,” Beschloss replied.

The historian described acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker as, “by most accounts, not terribly qualified — by some accounts a political hack — by almost all accounts, someone who can be relied upon to be completely obedient to President Trump.”

“The case we’re dealing with is a possible covert relationship between an American president and a hostile foreign power,” Beschloss reminded. “That’s way beyond Watergate.”

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rcr1s74r-DQ


Ex-FBI special agent explains why new acting AG will be in deep trouble if he tries to fire Mueller

Raw Story

A former FBI special agent revealed what will happen if the new acting attorney general attempts to fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

After tweeting that she’s “honestly not panicking” about newly-appointed Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker taking over the Mueller probe, former FBI official and CNN analyst Asha Rangappa explained her reasoning.

“To be clear, I do NOT think this is an ideal situation,” Rangappa wrote in a Twitter thread.

Whitaker, the analyst noted, has on multiple occasions been public about his critical opinions on the Mueller investigation.

“This clearly creates an appearance of a conflict of interest,” she wrote. “He must consult with the ethics people as his former boss did and, if it is warranted, recuse. Period.”

    2. First, Whitaker has spoken and written publicly on the Mueller investigation. This clearly creates an appearance of a conflict of interest. He must consult with the ethics people as his former boss did and, if it is warranted, recuse. Period. But assuming he does not:

    — Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) November 8, 2018

His comments about the Russia probe took place when he was a pundit, Rangappa noted — but the Justice Department has “a very strong culture” of not allowing their opinions to affect their decisions.

“As a former [US attorney], Whitaker knows this culture,” she wrote.

    3. First, as a commentator/pundit, you’re expected to have an opinion on a given issue. But as discussed in the context of Strzok, et al., keep in mind that there is a very strong culture in DOJ to not let these views infect decisions. As a former USA, Whitaker knows this culture

    — Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) November 8, 2018

Any major decisions he makes as acting attorney general, Rangappa continued, will need to be documented.

“The standard in the Special Counsel regulations for denying a request or recommendation of the Special Counsel is that it is ‘so inappropriate or unwarranted under established Departmental practices that it should not be pursued,'” the former FBI agent wrote.

With Democrats soon to take over the House of Representatives following the midterm elections, Whitaker has to know that “he would have to testify to them under oath.”

“Flimsy or corrupt justifications would open him up to obstruction of justice,” Rangappa noted.

    5. Whitaker would have to document and justify his decisions under this standard, knowing (especially with Dems in control of the House) that he would have to testify to them under oath. Flimsy or corrupt justifications would open him up to obstruction of justice.

    — Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) November 8, 2018

The CNN analyst then pointed to another speculative claim made about Whitaker becoming acting attorney general: that he could “starve” the Mueller investigation financially.

Per DOJ regulations, Rangappa wrote, “the budget for the coming year must be approved within 90 days of the fiscal year.”

“The fiscal year already started on October 1,” she noted, meaning the budget is in place until September 2019 and the next approval won’t take place until June of 2019.

    6. Evenf he wanted to “starve the investigation,” the SC regs state that the budget for the coming year must be approved within 90 days of the fiscal year. The fiscal year already started on October 1, and so the budget is in place until Sept ’19. The next approval is in June ’19

    — Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) November 8, 2018

Whitaker opined that Mueller looking into Donald Trump’s finances is a red line, but as Rangappa pointed out, the special counsel didn’t actually take on the president’s finances himself and instead referred it to the Southern District of New York.

Read the rest of her thread below:

    8. Important to keep in mind that his comments were made when he, like the rest of us, only knew what was public — which, in summer '17, wasn't much. Since then, we've had indictments and guilty pleas on Manafort, Gates, Flynn, Papadopolous, Cohen, and a bunch of Russians.

    — Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) November 8, 2018

    10. Also, at a personal level, until now his loyalty as Chief of Staff has been to Sessions — someone he saw get berated, insulted, pressured, and humiliated by POTUS. He may have seen more cray behind the scenes. I wouldn't count on his loyalty suddenly switching to POTUS.

    — Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) November 8, 2018

    11. Which brings me to: What would be the payoff? He’s not going to be AG, this is temporary. If he has political ambitions he is much better off with Sessions as an ally and being respected in DOJ than hitching his wagon to Trump’s (falling) star.

    — Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) November 8, 2018


Fox News legal analyst says Trump violated the law by appointing Matt Whitaker as acting attorney general

Raw Story

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions to step down.

Trump announced that in replacement of Sessions, Matt Whitaker would become the new acting attorney general.

However, Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano explained to Fox News host Dana Perino how Trump could be breaking the law with his new appointee.

Napolitano explained that Whitaker was not confirmed by the Senate and therefore violates the law.

“Under the law, the person running the Department of Justice must have been approved by the United States Senate for some previous position. Even on an interim post,” Napolitano said.

Napolitano continued saying that next in line for the position is Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

“Whitaker was not confirmed by the United States Senate for a leadership position at the Justice Department. The White House will have to work this out. Who has been confirmed and who’s next in line? Deputy attorney general Rosenstein,” he said.


BUSTED: Trump’s new acting Attorney General’s linked to secretive anti-Dem group

Raw Story

Newly-installed acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker lead a mysterious right-wing organization The Daily Beast reported Wednesday.

Whitaker worked as executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), which defended Attorney General Jeff Sessions for telling the United States Senate mistruths about meetings with Russians during confirmation hearings.

“The statement was blasted out to reporters by CRC Public Relations, a conservative group based in Alexandria, Virginia, which represented FACT and Whitaker throughout 2017, according to press releases,” The Beast explained. “More recently, CRC faced scrutiny and criticism during Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation process for reportedly stoking media interest in a discredited conspiracy theory about Kavanaugh’s chief accuser.”

FACT was an “organization which served primarily to level ethics complaints against Democrats.”

“The organization’s funding is opaque: In 2014, it received $600,000 from a fund called DonorsTrust, whose donors are mostly anonymous, but for Charles Koch,” The Beast noted.


‘Impeachment is real now’: Lawrence O’Donnell reveals how everything changed in the last 24 hours

Raw Story

MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell on Wednesday explained how Democratic Party control of the House of Representatives, along with President Donald Trump ousting Attorney General Jeff Sessions, have moved America one step closer to impeachment.

“Today, Trump is clinging to the wreckage of the Trump government and panicking,” O’Donnell observed. “The Trump government has included the White House and both houses of Congress and now the Trump government is broken, very broken, because the Democrats have the House of Representatives.”

“And if Donald Trump’s newly installed political hack of an acting attorney general takes action against special prosecutor Robert Mueller, the Democratic House of Representatives will bring Robert Mueller to testify publicly about exactly how the acting attorney general has interfered with his investigation,” he explained.

“And the Democratic House of Representatives will move to impeach the president of the United States for obstruction of justice,” he predicted.

“They will do it — they will have to do it — they will have no choice,” he continued. “The new members of the House of Representatives will demand it. And they will get it.”

“Impeachment is real now,” he concluded. “And so the president’s panicked firing of his attorney general today has moved Donald Trump one step closer to impeachment and the new Trump acting Attorney General Matthew Whittaker will also be investigated by the Democratic House for obstruction of justice if he interferes with the Mueller investigation in any way.”


‘The puzzle’s complete’: Morning Joe says Sessions filing gives Mueller everything he needs to nail Trump for obstruction

Raw Story

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough said President Donald Trump is “freaked out” now that Democrats gained subpoena power over him after retaking the House of Representatives.

The “Morning Joe” host said the president’s unhinged news conference Wednesday — and his firing of attorney general Jeff Sessions — was a response to the midterm election results.

“The bottom line is, he lost big time yesterday,” Scarborough said. “He hates losing. On top of it, Democrats have gained the power to basically ask him every question they finally want the answer to.”

“Donald Trump was freaked out yesterday,” he added. “Everybody could see how freaked out he was. It was embarrassing watching him fire Jeff Sessions.”

Scarborough said the Sessions sacking, and his deeply conflicted temporary replacement, should be considered additional evidence in the special counsel probe Trump’s trying to stop.

“”(If) you’re (Robert) Mueller, you’re putting together this obstruction of justice charge, and he has this hole in the puzzle,” Scarborough said. “What can I put there? Oh, he fires the United States attorney general and appoints a hack, and may not have done that legally, to obstruct justice and stop this investigation.”

“Boom — the puzzle’s complete,” he added.

Scarborough said House Democrats can then task Mueller to complete his investigation under for them.

“If Donald Trump gets rid of Mueller, now the Democrats can hire him, he can now work for the House of Representatives and if they want to send all the information — they’re going to send it to the states,” he said. “He thinks he’s going to stop his children, if they’ve done something wrong, from going to jail. They’ll just be in state jail instead of the federal penitentiary.”

“By the way, no pardoning if any of these people are sent to state jail,” he added.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOEsCIibS1Y


CNN’s Bakari Sellers rips Lindsey 'I love being Trump's drag queen' Graham: He’s the prime example of when Donald Trump breaks an individual

Raw Story

On Wednesday, in what has been discussed as a calculated move from President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was fired.

During his afternoon show, CNN’s Jake Tapper played a clip of Senator Lindsey 'I love being Trump's drag queen' Graham (R-SC), reacting to the news. Even though Graham appeared to have a positive attitude, Tapper called him out on his flip-flop position towards Trump and Sessions’ relationship.

“He once said that Trump would have holy hell to pay if he ever fired Sessions,” Tapper said.

In response to the news, Graham said that he is “looking forward and not backward,” and that there would be a fresh start at The Department of Justice.

Contributor Bakari Sellers, who served with Graham in the state legislature in South Carolina, said that Graham was acting very “weak-kneed” and that he did not recognize who Graham was anymore.

“I don’t know who Lindsey 'I love being Trump's drag queen' Graham is anymore,” Sellers said.

“He’s always been afraid of his shadow somewhat. I think he’s the prime example of when Donald Trump breaks an individual. Now Lindsey Graham is very weak-kneed. He is no longer putting the country first, but putting his party first,” Sellers said.

Watch the video via CNN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rG7Nkxx_L4Q

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« Reply #2162 on: Nov 08, 2018, 06:40 AM »

Democrats got millions more votes – so how did Republicans win the Senate?

Experts warn of ‘rise of minority rule’ after Democrats’ vote tally beat Republicans’ by more than 12m

Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington
Thu 8 Nov 2018 12.00 GMT

The 2018 midterm elections brought significant gains for Democrats, who retook the House of Representatives and snatched several governorships from the grip of Republicans.

But some were left questioning why Democrats suffered a series of setbacks that prevented the party from picking up even more seats and, perhaps most consequentially, left the US Senate in Republican hands.

Among the most eye-catching was a statistic showing Democrats led Republicans by more than 12 million votes in Senate races, and yet still suffered losses on the night and failed to win a majority of seats in the chamber.

The obvious discrepancy between votes cast and seats won renewed some frustration on the left with an electoral system they complained gives an advantage to conservative-leaning states.

    The rise of minority rule in America is now unmistakable
    Laurence Tribe, Harvard professor

But constitutional law experts said more pressing concerns for Democrats could be found in a combination of gerrymandering and voter suppression tactics that might have prevented them from winning an even larger majority in the House and some key statewide elections.

“The rise of minority rule in America is now unmistakable,” said Laurence Tribe, a constitutional law professor at Harvard University.

“Especially with a sitting president who won a majority in the electoral college [in 2016] while receiving roughly 3m fewer votes than his opponent, and a supreme court five of whose nine justices were nominated by Republican presidents who collectively received fewer popular votes than their Democratic opponents and were confirmed by Senates similarly skewed.”

According to the latest data, Democrats won the House popular vote by about seven percentage points in Tuesday night’s midterms.

They picked up 29 Republican-held seats in the House, while losing two of their own incumbents, resulting in a net gain of 27 seats. Republicans meanwhile won a larger majority in the Senate, picking up at least two seats as a handful of vulnerable Democrats faced defeat.

The mixed result undermined Democratic hopes of a blue wave in an election billed as a referendum on Donald Trump and his presidency. In the 2010 midterms, by contrast, Republicans stormed into control of the House with a haul of 63 seats.

But the latter was the result of partisan gerrymandering, which saw Republican-controlled state legislatures redraw congressional districts to favor the party in what conservative architects dubbed as Redmap, short for the Redistricting Majority Project.

Referring to the process as “the deliberate rigging of district boundaries”, Tribe said it all but ensured that the incoming House of Representatives would remain more closely divided despite the broader electorate favoring Democrats.

It was for this very reason that Tuesday night’s governors’ contests were deemed by Democrats as equally, if not more, important. With the next redrawing of district lines set to take place in 2020, it was regarded as vital for Democrats to win back seats in state legislatures across the country.

Democrats made gains in some must-win states, including Michigan, but fell short in other battlegrounds, such as Florida and Ohio. David Daley, author of a 2016 book about how Republicans built a firewall against Democrats through redistricting, said he was not sure Democrats had done enough on Tuesday “to ensure that they have a reasonable voice in the process”.

Elsewhere, progressives lamented the results in the Senate, where some commentators were quick to note that Democrats led the overall tally by double-digit percentage points. The most recent figures had Republicans holding 51 seats and Democrats with just 46, with a handful of races still too close to call.

But the 2018 Senate map was unfavorable for Democrats going into the midterms – the party was defending 26 seats compared with Republicans’ nine – and the outcome had more to do with which states were up for grabs.

Each of America’s 50 states elects two senators, regardless of population, and only a third of the country’s Senate seats are voted on each election cycle.

What that means is that California, which has a population of just under 40 million, holds the same representation in the Senate as Wyoming, which at roughly 579,000 is the least populous state in the country.

“That’s a radically undemocratic principle, and it gives rise to what we see,” said David Golove, a professor at the New York University School of Law, “which is that the minority populations are going to have a disproportionate impact in the United States. That tends to mean conservatives have a disproportionate influence over the Senate.”

Golove said the issue of Senate representation simply had not yet become a part of mainstream American discourse.

Because the Senate map changes every two years, experts said, it was also difficult to tabulate what a national vote might look like. Since more Democratic seats were up for re-election in 2018, some argued, it was not unexpected that the party secured more votes.

“The Senate is inherently anti-majoritarian,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of Berkeley Law at the University of California. “So it is not about the total vote, but votes in each state.”

Any notion of change would require a constitutional amendment, he added, which is unlikely to occur in any foreseeable future.

“That is not going to happen, because it would take approval of 2/3 of both houses of Congress and approval of 3/4 of the states,” Chemerinsky said. “The states that [currently] benefit will never approve this and would block a constitutional amendment’s passage.”

Arguably more tangible than the historic construct of America’s electoral process was the role voter suppression might have played in some big Democratic losses.

In North Dakota, voter ID rules pushed by Republicans and upheld by the supreme court might have barred thousands of Native Americans from voting in Tuesday’s general election. The restrictions required that voters show their current residential address in order to vote. But Native Americans who live on reservations do not have street names and instead use PO boxes.

In 2012, the state’s incumbent Democrat, Senator Heidi Heitkamp, was elected in part due to the support of Native American voters. She lost on Tuesday to her Republican challenger, Kevin Cramer, although the margin was large enough to suggest voter suppression tactics alone cost Heitkamp the race.

The closely watched governor’s race in Georgia, however, told a more contentious story, as the Democrat Stacey Abrams vied to become the first black woman elected governor in US history. Abrams was running against the Republican Brian Kemp, who as Georgia’s sitting secretary of state remained at the helm of the office tasked with overseeing its elections.

Leading up to the election, Kemp’s office put at least 53,000 voter registrations on hold – the majority of which applied to black voters – citing Georgia’s so-called “exact match” law. The restrictions could have prevented thousands of eligible voters from casting ballots due to minor discrepancies with other identification documents that included missing hyphens, middle initials or accent marks in a name.

Abrams, who narrowly trailed Kemp as returns poured in on Tuesday, refused to concede.

“We are going to make sure that every vote is counted, every single vote,” she said. “In a civilized nation, the machinery of democracy should work for everyone, everywhere.

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« Reply #2163 on: Nov 08, 2018, 07:13 AM »

Thought the election might restore some order? Oh you poor, sweet child

Firing Jeff Sessions proves Trump learned nothing from the midterms

By Dana Milbank Columnist
WA Post
November 8 2018

On Tuesday, American voters had their say: They gave Democrats control of the House, a check on the chaotic and rageful Trump presidency that left many voters saying in Election Day polls that they felt anxious and overwhelmed.

On Wednesday, President Trump gave his response: He will be even more chaotic and rageful going forward.

Trump called a news conference Wednesday and, incredibly, proclaimed Tuesday’s loss “a great victory for us . . . very close to complete victory.”

Watch: <iframe width='480' height='290' scrolling='no' src='https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/ea0daa20-e2d4-11e8-ba30-a7ded04d8fac' frameborder='0' webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>

He mocked Republicans who lost, claiming they didn’t embrace him enough: “Too bad, Mike . . . Mia Love gave me no love.”

He threatened to respond to House Democrats’ prospective probes of his administration by bringing government “to a halt,” going to a “warlike posture” and directing Senate Republicans to investigate House Democrats.

He raged at the media , renewing his “enemy of the people” accusation, telling CNN’s Jim Acosta “you are a rude, terrible person” and accusing an African American journalist, PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor, of asking “such a racist question” because she dared to inquire about Trump’s self-declaration as a “nationalist” emboldening white nationalists.

A White House staff member reaches for the microphone held by CNN's Jim Acosta as he questions President Trump during a news conference Wednesday. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

And then, the coup de grace: Soon after the news conference ended, Trump announced that he had ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions. He hadn’t even bothered to tell Sessions himself. Trump replaced him with a loyalist, Matthew Whitaker, who has publicly criticized special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s Russia probe and speculated about ways to end it.

This was a brazen and defiant response to the election results by a president who is apparently moved neither by convention nor by constitutional checks on his power. He renewed his threat Wednesday unilaterally to try to rewrite the Constitution’s citizenship provisions by executive order. Rather than offer reconciliation, he trolled his opponents and spun more wild fantasies: The Democrats “agree that a wall is necessary” on the border, Democrats “at a high level have suggested . . . getting rid of law enforcement,” CNN has perpetrated “voter suppression.”

Though the Sessions firing had been expected after the election, Trump’s handling of it renewed a sense of looming crisis. Trump, before announcing the ouster, again declared the Russia probe “a hoax” and asserted that support for Mueller had fallen. It’s difficult to see the appointment of Whitaker, stripping Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein of authority over the Mueller inquiry, as anything but an attempt to shut down a probe that has already earned criminal convictions against several Trump advisers.

For those who hoped the election results would restore some calm and order to politics, Trump has just informed them that they can expect more of the same — and worse.

The defiance of the electorate is breathtaking. Republicans appear to have lost nearly 35 House seats, seven governorships, more than 225 state legislative seats and six legislative chambers. And Republicans’ House losses would be higher if not for gerrymandering.

Trump’s victory claims rest on Republican gains of a few Senate seats — an artifact of a political map friendly to Republicans, not popular will. The latest popular-vote tally for the Senate, though distorted by the absence of a Republican candidate in California, shows Democrats leading Republicans by 12.5 million votes. Voters turned out at near-presidential levels. Of the two-thirds of voters who said Trump was a factor in their votes, most said they were voting to oppose him.

And yet, asked Wednesday “what lesson did you learn most” from the election results, Trump replied: “I think people like me.”

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, after the Democratic takeover of the House had become official, Trump retweeted a message saying “Trump is the magic man.”

And he is! Trump made three dozen Republican House seats disappear, sawed his party’s advantage in governorships in half and caused six legislative chambers to escape from Republican control — while pulling one racist canard after another out of his hat about invading hordes of migrant criminals.

Most troubling: Trump is acting as though he actually believes the midterms were a triumph. His sacking of Sessions suggests he thinks he can get away with anything — even ousting Mueller — with impunity. And he seems to credit his reckless campaign tactics for his fantasy election outcome.

“Why are you pitting Americans against one another, sir?” asked NBC’s Peter Alexander.

Trump’s reply: “We won a lot of elections last night.”

A foreign journalist asked about his polarizing message on race.

“I have the best numbers with African Americans and Hispanic Americans,” he answered.

What will he do to reduce the startling rise in anti-Semitism?

“Nobody has done more for Israel than Donald Trump,” he replied.

But what about his role as a moral leader?

“I think I am a great moral leader.”

Trump’s fury and falsehoods sent tens of millions to the polls Tuesday to tell him to tone it down.

Instead, he’s determined to be even worse in defeat.

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« Reply #2164 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:05 AM »

Old Master? Cave paintings from 40,000 years ago are world’s earliest figurative art

Agence France-Presse
09 Nov 2018 at 08:10 ET                   

A painting of an animal in an Indonesian cave dates from at least 40,000 years ago, making it the world’s oldest piece of figurative art, new research has shown.

The painting in Borneo, possibly depicting a native type of wild cattle, is among thousands of artworks discovered decades ago in the remote region.

But it was only using technology called uranium series analysis that researchers have finally been able to work out just when they were painted.

The discovery adds to a growing body of evidence that cave painting did not emerge only in Europe, as was once thought.

“We can see that figurative art developed and evolved more or less at the same time in Asia and in Europe,” researcher Maxime Aubert told AFP.

In 2014, researchers dated figurative art on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi to 35,000 years ago, but some of the paintings examined by Aubert and his team in nearby Borneo were produced at least 5,000 years earlier.

Aubert, an associate professor at Australia’s Griffith University, worked with a team in remote and inaccessible caves in the East Kalimantan area of Borneo to date the paintings.

The team, whose research was published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, looked at multiple layers of artwork painted on top of each other.

The bottom-most and oldest layer featured paintings of animals, mostly a local type of cattle, as well as hand stencils in a reddish colour.

On top of those artworks were hand stencils in a mulberry colour grouped in patterns and embellished with lines and dots, as well as small stick-like human figures in the same colour.

The final layer featured people, boats and geometric designs.

– ‘An intimate window’ –

Aubert and his team employed a technique called uranium series dating, which involves analysing layers of the mineral calcite that formed on top of the painting over the years, as well as the material underneath the art.

They removed samples smaller than one centimetre (half an inch) across from the artworks and found one painting of an animal had been produced at least 40,000 years ago, and possibly nearly 52,000 years ago.

“To our knowledge, the large animal painting… is the oldest figurative rock art image in the world,” the team’s study said.

The painting is in fact one of the earliest-known representations of any kind of an animal, dating from a similar period to mammoth-ivory figurines found in Germany, the study added.

For many years, cave art was thought to have emerged from Europe, where famed pieces have been discovered and dated in Spain, Italy and France.

But the Indonesian paintings challenge that theory.

“It now seems that two early cave art provinces arose at a similar time in remote corners of Palaeolithic Eurasia: one in Europe and one in Indonesia, at the opposite end of this ice age world,” said Adam Brum, an archeologist involved in the study, in a press release issued by Griffith University.

The second layer of artwork dates to around 20,000 years ago, and suggests an interesting evolution in the artwork of the era.

“Around 20,000 years ago, painting becomes of the human world, not the animal world. We see the same thing in Europe at more or less the same time,” Aubert told AFP.

He plans to carry out further testing of other artwork in Indonesia, as well as pieces in Australia, and said he felt a personal connection to the past when examining the paintings.

“It’s amazing to see that. It’s an intimate window into the past.”

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« Reply #2165 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:08 AM »

Will This Case Finally Bring Down ExxonMobil’s Culture of Climate Deception?

By Elliott Negin

New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood recently filed what could be an enormously consequential securities fraud lawsuit against ExxonMobil, exposing in great detail the company's long history of lying about issues related to climate change.

According to the findings of the AG's investigation, ExxonMobil kept one set of numbers internally about the likely future costs of carbon-emission rules while using another set for its shareholders that it knew to be false. For internal planning purposes, the company low-balled estimates for the cost per ton of carbon that would likely be imposed by regulation to make its projects appear to be more profitable. Meanwhile, the company told its shareholders it was using a higher, more plausible, price when determining its projects' long-term economic viability. By doing so, the complaint charges, ExxonMobil deceived its investors, falsely assuring them that its oil and gas reserves would not become unusable for economic reasons—what the industry refers to as "stranded assets."

The 97-page legal complaint is chock-full of examples of ExxonMobil reports and statements that deceived shareholders about the likely cost of carbon-emission standards. It charges the company with "a longstanding fraudulent scheme" that "was sanctioned at the highest levels of the company."

Just as the notorious Prohibition-era gangster Al Capone was ultimately brought down on tax fraud charges despite a long rap sheet of murder and mayhem, the case raises the prospect that New York's unique securities fraud law, the Martin Act, could be the legal tool that holds the company accountable for a culture of deception about climate change that spans decades.

The legal complaint cites one notable corporate statement titled "ExxonMobil and the carbon tax" in which the company reiterated its dubious contention that it supports a carbon tax. In fact, ExxonMobil has never publicly supported an actual carbon tax bill and has consistently funded members of Congress who oppose the idea. The company did get some positive press recently for pledging to donate $1 million to Americans for Carbon Dividends, a new lobby group promoting a revenue-neutral carbon tax, but the group's plan would pre-empt climate-related lawsuits against fossil fuel companies and eliminate federal regulations curbing carbon emissions.

ExxonMobil also has long lied about its ongoing support for climate science denier groups. In 2007, a company vice president claimed it stopped funding them after the Union of Concerned Scientists revealed that ExxonMobil had spent millions of dollars on dozens of groups to sow doubt about the reality and seriousness of climate change. The company's own corporate giving reports show that it continues to fund them to this day. From 1998 through last year, ExxonMobil spent at least $36 million on climate science disinformation groups, more than any other funder besides Charles and David Koch, the multibillionaire owners of Koch Industries.

The bottom line of the New York AG's complaint is that, when calculating costs for major projects, ExxonMobil "assumed, contrary to its representations [to investors], that existing climate regulation would remain in place, unchanged, indefinitely into the future."

What would make ExxonMobil so confident that currently weak-to-nonexistent carbon-emission standards would remain the same? Likely its success over the past 20 years in stifling meaningful government action. After all, ExxonMobil and the rest of the US fossil fuel industry have spent enough money on their friends in Congress that a critical mass of them deny the reality of human-driven climate change. So, as long as fossil fuel industry-funded groups continue to provide lawmakers with bogus studies and ply the news media with industry mouthpieces, it is not surprising that ExxonMobil believed it could maintain the status quo.

As the New York AG complaint shows, however, ExxonMobil's strategy relied on the belief that it could get away with privately counting on business as usual while telling investors it was taking into full consideration the risks to its business posed by the global effort to dramatically curb carbon emissions. When it comes to defrauding investors in New York state, this looming court battle may prove the company wrong.

Elliott Negin is a senior writer in the Communications Department at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

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« Reply #2166 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:10 AM »

World's Largest E-Bike Fleet to Roll Out in Paris Region


I love electric bikes. They're a great, low-carbon transportation option that requires much less work than traditional pedal bikes. So it's exciting news that the Paris region is rolling out a massive fleet of them as a way to beat back traffic and air pollution.

Starting September 2019, the Ile-de-France Mobilités—the Paris-area public transport network—will offer 10,000 electric bikes for long-term rental, according to Reuters. The plan is to expand the so-called "Véligo" service to 20,000 units, making it the world's largest e-bike rental program.

The larger aim is to encourage bike-riding in the wider Parisian region that's home to 10 million people. Currently, commuter cycling counts for a mere 1.6 percent of daily trips in the area.

"Electric bicycles have an enormous potential. They are an efficient and ecological way to get to the railway station for short commutes that can replace the car," Valerie Pecresse, the head of the Ile-de-France region, told Reuters.

The Véligo program works differently than typical bike-share programs where you rent a bike for a few hours and return it to a docking station after use. Instead, Véligo bikes can stay with the users for 40 euros ($45) a month, half of which can be subsidized by their employers, Reuters reported.

The new scheme is an addition to the city of Paris' own Vélib' bike-sharing system, which had been a "huge success and a point of pride" for the French capital until it changed operators and nearly collapsed, NPR reported last month. Daily use dramatically fell from 100,000 trips a day to only a couple thousand.

The Véligo program will be operated by the postal service and transport firm Transdev under a six-year contract and have a budget of 111 million euros ($127 million), according to Reuters.

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« Reply #2167 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:14 AM »

New water-based battery that uses organic materials instead of toxic metals could solve renewable storage problem


Renewable energy is clean, getting cheaper by the day and in many respects becoming more efficient thanks to rapid advancements coming from the world’s top-notch labs. It has one major drawback – storage. Before people can find a clever and cost-effective way to store all of that excess energy from wind and solar farms, chances have it that very few countries will want to pass the 30% renewables share margin.  The best solution might actually be an old idea revamped to work for a novel setting – batteries. Not just any batteries though. The most promising solution so far is using flow batteries – storage mediums that are rechargeable and whose electroactive materials are stored external to the actual battery. Such a flow battery was developed at University of Southern California, and it might be a real game changer if the proper attention is awarded.
An elegant solution for a most troublesome problem

    “The batteries last for about 5,000 recharge cycles, giving them an estimated 15-year lifespan,” said Sri Narayan, professor of chemistry at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and corresponding author of an open-access paper published online by the Journal of the Electrochemical Society.

    “Lithium ion batteries degrade after around 1,000 cycles, and cost 10 times more to manufacture,” he said.

These batteries aren’t meant to fit in your mobile, though. They’re intended for large-scale energy storage, backing power generating plants and making the grid more resilient. Where they shine, however, is in their potential to change how renewable energy is perceived in the broader picture. Solar panels can only generate power when the sun’s shining, and wind turbines can only generate power when the wind blows. Often, these systems are designed to produce just about as much energy as the grid can handle or just enough so it can power consumers, never more though. This makes renewables inherently unreliable. If you can find a way to cheaply and effectively store this excess energy, that a lot of people might consider their stance over renewable energy.

The working principle of the new battery, called the aqueous organic redox flow battery (ORBAT), is typical. It consists of a redox-flow design, very similar to a fuel cell, where two tanks of electroactive materials dissolved in water are pumped into the cell. Here, a proton carrying membrane separates the two fluids with electrodes on either side, releasing energy. The innovation lies in the tanks’ contents.

Such batteries typically work using metals, most often than not the toxic variety, as well as a precious metal catalyst. The ORBAT employs organic compounds dissolved in water and doesn’t employ an expensive catalyst. Using molecule design and a lot of trial-and-error, the researchers were able to find the perfect organic mix: quinones, or oxidized organic compounds. Quinones are found in plants, fungi, bacteria, and some animals, and are involved in photosynthesis and cellular respiration. Basically, Narayan and team modeled nature’s energy transfer model for their battery, and it works like a charm. Worth noting that similar solution was applied by Harvard researchers, but their prototype was only tested for about 100 cycles.

Currently, the quinones used by the ORBAT come from hydrocarbons, but there are ways to derive them directly from carbon dioxide. So there you have it: a scalable, inexpensive and sustainable metal-free rechargeable battery for large-scale electrical energy storage. But will we hear again about it four years from now? Fingers crossed.

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« Reply #2168 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:20 AM »

Pakistan blasphemy case: Asia Bibi freed from jail

Christian labourer has left detention facility but has to stay in Pakistan

Harriet Sherwood Religion correspondent, and agencies
9 Nov 2018 05.49 GMT

Asia Bibi, the Christian farm labourer whose blasphemy case has triggered violent protests and assassinations in Pakistan, has been freed from jail but remains in protective custody, a week after the country’s supreme court overturned her conviction.

Officials said that she left a detention facility in the Punjab province amid tight security on Wednesday and was flown to Islamabad, where she was at a secure location because of threats to her life.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign office said on Thursday that reports Bibi had left the country were false, in a statement backed up by sources close to the family.

Bibi, who had spent eight years on death row, had been left in limbo after the government struck a deal with religious conservatives to end protests, which erupted after her acquittal.

Her husband and children have been living at a secret address in Pakistan in fear of their lives, and have made repeated appeals to the international community to help secure the whole family’s safety.

“Help us get out of Pakistan. We are extremely worried because our lives are in danger. We no longer have even anything to eat, because we cannot leave the house to buy food,” Ashiq Masih, Bibi’s husband, told Aid to the Church in Need, which campaigns on religious freedom.

He told the BBC World Service that he had not seen Bibi since her acquittal, and the family was worried about her safety. Religious extremists have threatened to kill her.

Authorities now say Bibi may not be able to leave the country because a petition for a review of the court’s ruling was filed by a radical Islamist lawyer requesting the acquittal be reversed. Pakistani courts usually take years to decide such cases.

Bibi’s lawyer, Saiful Mulook, fled Pakistan at the weekend after being issued with death threats, and is seeking asylum in the Netherlands.

0:33..Asia Bibi: protests erupt in Pakistan after blasphemy conviction overturned - video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fOWSLV6Esw

Canada, France and Spain were reportedly considering offering asylum to Bibi and her family. Her husband has also appealed to the UK and the US to offer a safe haven.

In Italy, Matteo Salvini, the hardline anti-migrant interior minister, said he would do “all that is humanly possible” to ensure Bibi and her family were safe, either in Italy or elsewhere.

Bibi was convicted of blasphemy after a row with Muslim women in her village. Two Pakistani politicians were killed for publicly supporting her and criticising the country’s blasphemy laws.

The supreme court’s decision last week to overturn the verdict led to violent protests throughout Pakistan and calls for the judges in the case to be killed.

Imran Khan, Pakistan’s prime minister since July, has been criticised for capitulating to extremists over the case.

“Khan swept to power earlier this year on promises to restore the rule of law, to champion the oppressed and marginalised and to deliver justice. His party is, after all, called the Movement for Justice,” said Omar Waraich of Amnesty International.

“But what does that even mean when, in the space of just two days, he went from warning the mob against using violence, to bowing to their demands?”

Khan’s former wife, Jemima Goldsmith, accused him on Twitter of caving in “to extremist demands to bar #AsiaBibi from leaving [Pakistan], after she was acquitted of blasphemy – effectively signing her death warrant”.

The Religious Liberty Commission, a coalition of organisations campaigning against Christian persecution, have called on Khan to allow Bibi to leave the country.

“Following her unjust imprisonment and long-awaited release, it is clear that Asia’s life is in danger in Pakistan … As others involved with the case continue to flee the country, we affirm that Asia’s safety is now the responsibility of prime minister Khan,” it said.

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« Reply #2169 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:31 AM »

Fears of violence as Polish state intervenes in nationalist march

Row over annual far-right rally overshadows preparations for independence centenary

Christian Davies in Warsaw
Fri 9 Nov 2018 05.00 GMT

Preparations for Sunday’s centenary of the restoration of Polish independence descended into farce this week with a bewildering series of events surrounding a nationalist march due to take place in central Warsaw.

The March of Independence, organised by nationalist and far-right groups and held annually in the Polish capital on 11 November to commemorate the anniversary of the re-establishment of Poland’s independence in 1918, has grown dramatically in scale over the past decade, attracting activists from across Europe.

Last year’s event, which attracted an estimated 60,000 people, received widespread international condemnation for the presence of racist and xenophobic banners and slogans and instances of violence directed at counter-protesters. This year’s event, which was expected to attract an even bigger turnout, threatened to overshadow official state commemorations.

On Wednesday Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, Warsaw’s outgoing mayor and a leading figure in the opposition Civic Platform party, announced that the march would be banned, citing concerns over security and expressions of hatred.

“Warsaw has already suffered enough due to aggressive nationalism,” she said. “Poland’s 100th anniversary of independence shouldn’t look like this, hence my decision to forbid it.”

The organisers of the march lodged an appeal against the ban and said they intended to march regardless. “The March of Independence will take place, as it does every year,” said Robert Winnicki, leader of the far-right National Movement. “Liberal despotism will not rob Poles of the possibility to celebrate.”

Hours after the mayor’s announcement, Andrzej Duda, Poland’s rightwing president, said the Polish state would be organising its own march at the same time and along the same route as the banned march, effectively assuming direct control of the event.

The move appeared to be an improvised solution to a longstanding dilemma for Duda, who has often courted Poland’s nationalist youth and has spent recent months weighing up whether or not to participate in the march.

Duda and the government had been engaged in negotiations with the organisers in the hope that they could be persuaded to march under state auspices in return for agreeing not to allow racist or extremist banners. The talks broke down but Gronkiewicz-Waltz’s announcement gave the government a pretext to intervene.

“The mayor’s decision was a blessing for Duda and the government because it allowed the liberal opposition to take the blame from the nationalists for banning their march, whilst avoiding the possibility of a neo-fascist festival being held on the centenary of our independence,” said Michał Szułdrzyński, a columnist with Rzeczpospolita, a centre-right broadsheet.

But the decision of the authorities to assume control of the event has sparked widespread concern, which was exacerbated on Thursday night when a Warsaw court overturned the mayor’s ban, arguing that it contravened the right to assembly. It is unclear whether by taking control of the event in the meantime the state authorities have effectively banned the far-right movements from their own march, and on what legal basis.

The confusion is playing out against the backdrop of security fears, after mass protests by Polish officers and other security officials. Prevented by Polish law from going on strike, police officers held a large demonstration in Warsaw last month and have been taking sick leave en masse, leading to severe shortages across the country.

The government said the defence ministry had assumed responsibility for security at the march and extremist symbols would be banned, raising the prospect of confrontations between radical groups and military personnel on the streets of Warsaw. The US Embassy in Warsaw has issued a security alert advising citizens to avoid the march route.

“The downside for the authorities of the state assuming responsibility for what happens on Sunday is that if anything goes wrong, there will be no one else to blame,” Szułdrzyński said. “Instead of being full of excitement and happiness, we are fearing for the safety of people in our capital.”

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« Reply #2170 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:32 AM »

Scotland is first country to approve LGBTI school lessons

Equality campaigners hail new inclusive curriculum as ‘monumental victory’

Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent
Fri 9 Nov 2018 10.12 GMT

Scotland will become the first country in the world to embed the teaching of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights in the school curriculum, in what campaigners have described as a historic moment.

State schools will be required to teach pupils about the history of LGBTI equalities and movements, as well as tackling homophobia and transphobia and exploring LGBTI identity, after ministers accepted in full the recommendations of a working group led by the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) campaign.

Jordan Daly, the co-founder of TIE, said the “destructive legacy” of section 28 had come to an end. This legislation, introduced in 1988, banned local authorities in the UK from “promoting” homosexuality, until it was eventually repealed in Scotland 2001 and in the rest of the UK two years later.

Daly said: “This is a monumental victory for our campaign, and a historic moment for our country. The implementation of LGBTI inclusive education across all state schools is a world first. In a time of global uncertainty, this sends a strong and clear message to LGBTI young people that they are valued here in Scotland.”

A study for TIE found that nine in 10 LGBTI Scots experience homophobia at school, and 27% reported they had attempted suicide after being bullied. The investigation also found there was little understanding in schools about prejudice against people with variations of sex characteristics and intersex bodies.

The deputy first minister, John Swinney, said: “Scotland is already considered one of the most progressive countries in Europe for LGBTI equality. I am delighted to announce we will be the first country in the world to have LGBTI-inclusive education embedded within the curriculum.

“Our education system must support everyone to reach their full potential. That is why it is vital the curriculum is as diverse as the young people who learn in our schools.”

Scotland has regularly been ranked as one of the best countries in Europe in relation to legal protections for LGBTI people, despite the fact that it decriminalised homosexuality in 1980, 13 years later than England and Wales.

In 2016, the former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale described the country as having “the gayest parliament in the world”: at the time four of Scotland’s six party leaders (Dugdale, the Conservatives’ Ruth Davidson, Ukip’s David Coburn and the Greens’ Patrick Harvie) identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual.

The announcement comes after the Guardian reported on Tuesday that women’s groups have written to the education secretary, Damian Hinds, warning that the Westminster government’s sex education plans for England and Wales were “squeamish” and doomed to failure unless radically revised.

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« Reply #2171 on: Nov 09, 2018, 05:36 AM »

Report: Foreign fighters led IS atrocities against Yazidis

New Europe

PARIS — Foreign fighters, including many Europeans, took a leading role in carrying out the Islamic State group's atrocities against minority Yazidis, an international human rights group said Thursday, citing testimony and documentation from survivors of an organized system of killing and enslavement.

In a report, the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights emphasized how foreign fighters led organized rape and slavery devised by the Islamic State group's Iraqi hierarchy. It said the actions amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity, and called for the extremist group's members to be prosecuted as war criminals.

In one online chat room, an Islamic State fighter offered to trade a Yazidi captive for a pair of Adidas sneakers. Another offered his gun. The group not only bought and sold Yazidi women and girls, but also young boys who would be taught to fight and indoctrinated to turn against their own people.

"For the survivors to speak, to testify, is not an easy thing. It puts their lives in danger and it puts their story and their lives in public and nobody wants to do that," said Nadia Murad, co-winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize. She was among thousands of women and girls from the Yazidi minority who were kidnapped and enslaved in 2014.

"But because it's important for us to make sure justice is done, it's important for Yazidis, survivors have come forward and spoken about their stories," she added. The rights group believes around half of the estimated 6,800 Yazidis taken captive are still missing. Women and girls from the minority who escaped described an organized system of slavery overseen by high-ranking foreign fighters.

In 2016, The Associated Press reported that Islamic State had devised a system of photographing Yazidi girls and women, and had created a database both to prevent their escape and to facilitate exchanges between members of the group.

Islamic State members in general face terrorism charges in quick trials in Iraq. The rights group wants them tried before an international tribunal or brought home to face charges, and for Yazidis to have a role in the reckoning.

Despite the testimony from hundreds if not more Yazidis of the horrors they endured on a massive scale, Murad said there had yet to be a trial involving the crimes against Yazidis. "The end goal for all of us is to make sure justice is done and to prosecute those who committed crimes against us," she said. "We will continue to fight until justice is done."

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« Reply #2172 on: Nov 09, 2018, 06:00 AM »

Trump’s Appointment of the Acting Attorney General Is Unconstitutional

The president is evading the requirement to seek the Senate’s advice and consent for the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and the person who will oversee the Mueller investigation.

By Neal K. Katyal and George T. Conway III
Mr. Katyal and Mr. Conway are lawyers.
NY Times
Nov. 9, 2018

What now seems an eternity ago, the conservative law professor Steven Calabresi published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in May arguing that Robert Mueller’s appointment as special counsel was unconstitutional. His article got a lot of attention, and it wasn’t long before President Trump picked up the argument, tweeting that “the Appointment of the Special Counsel is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!”

Professor Calabresi’s article was based on the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, Article II, Section 2, Clause 2. Under that provision, so-called principal officers of the United States must be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate under its “Advice and Consent” powers.

He argued that Mr. Mueller was a principal officer because he is exercising significant law enforcement authority and that since he has not been confirmed by the Senate, his appointment was unconstitutional. As one of us argued at the time, he was wrong. What makes an officer a principal officer is that he or she reports only to the president. No one else in government is that person’s boss. But Mr. Mueller reports to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general. So, Mr. Mueller is what is known as an inferior officer, not a principal one, and his appointment without Senate approval was valid.

But Professor Calabresi and Mr. Trump were right about the core principle. A principal officer must be confirmed by the Senate. And that has a  very significant consequence today.

It means that Mr. Trump’s installation of Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general of the United States after forcing the resignation of Jeff Sessions is unconstitutional. It’s illegal. And it means that anything Mr. Whitaker does, or tries to do, in that position is invalid.

Much of the commentary about Mr. Whitaker’s appointment has focused on all sorts of technical points about the Vacancies Reform Act and Justice Department succession statutes. But the flaw in the appointment of Mr. Whitaker, who was Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff at the Justice Department, runs much deeper. It defies one of the explicit checks and balances set out in the Constitution, a provision designed to protect us all against the centralization of government power.

If you don’t believe us, then take it from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, whom Mr. Trump once called his “favorite” sitting justice. Last year, the Supreme Court examined the question of whether the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board had been lawfully appointed to his job without Senate confirmation. The Supreme Court held the appointment invalid on a statutory ground.

Justice Thomas agreed with the judgment, but wrote separately to emphasize that even if the statute had allowed the appointment, the Constitution’s Appointments Clause would not have. The officer in question was a principal officer, he concluded. And the public interest protected by the Appointments Clause was a critical one: The Constitution’s drafters, Justice Thomas argued, “recognized the serious risk for abuse and corruption posed by permitting one person to fill every office in the government.” Which is why, he pointed out, the framers provided for advice and consent of the Senate.

What goes for a mere lawyer at the N.L.R.B. goes in spades for the attorney general of the United States, the head of the Justice Department and one of the most important people in the federal government. It is one thing to appoint an acting underling, like an acting solicitor general, a post one of us held. But those officials are always supervised by higher-ups; in the case of the solicitor general, by the attorney general and deputy attorney general, both confirmed by the Senate.

Mr. Whitaker has not been named to some junior post one or two levels below the Justice Department’s top job. He has now been vested with the law enforcement authority of the entire United States government, including the power to supervise Senate-confirmed officials like the deputy attorney general, the solicitor general and all United States attorneys.

We cannot tolerate such an evasion of the Constitution’s very explicit, textually precise design. Senate confirmation exists for a simple, and good, reason. Constitutionally, Matthew Whitaker is a nobody. His job as Mr. Sessions’s chief of staff did not require Senate confirmation. (Yes, he was confirmed as a federal prosecutor in Iowa, in 2004, but Mr. Trump can’t cut and paste that old, lapsed confirmation to today.) For the president to install Mr. Whitaker as our chief law enforcement officer is to betray the entire structure of our charter document.

In times of crisis, interim appointments need to be made. Cabinet officials die, and wars and other tragic events occur. It is very difficult to see how the current situation comports with those situations. And even if it did, there are officials readily at hand, including the deputy attorney general and the solicitor general, who were nominated by Mr. Trump and confirmed by the Senate. Either could step in as acting attorney general, both constitutionally and statutorily.

Because Mr. Whitaker has not undergone the process of Senate confirmation, there has been no mechanism for scrutinizing whether he has the character and ability to evenhandedly enforce the law in  a position of such grave responsibility. The public is entitled to that assurance, especially since Mr. Whitaker’s only supervisor is Mr.  Trump himself, and the president is hopelessly compromised by the Mueller investigation. That is why adherence to the requirements of the Appointments Clause is so important here, and always.

As we wrote last week, the Constitution is a bipartisan document, written for the ages to guard against wrongdoing by officials of any party. Mr. Whitaker’s installation makes a mockery of our Constitution and our founders’ ideals. As Justice Thomas’s opinion in the N.L.R.B. case reminds us, the Constitution’s framers “had lived under a form of government that permitted arbitrary governmental acts to go unchecked.” He added “they knew that liberty could be preserved only by ensuring that the powers of government would never be consolidated in one body.”

We must heed those words today.

Neal K. Katyal (@neal_katyal) was an acting solicitor general under President Barack Obama and is a lawyer at Hogan Lovells in Washington. George T. Conway III (@gtconway3d) is a litigator at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7n48M0k9OI


State AGs demand anti-Mueller acting AG recuse himself from probe

Raw Story
09 Nov 2018

The Attorney General of New York State is demanding that acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker officially recuse himself for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.

Attorney General Barbara Underwood is currently suing the Trump Foundation — and the Trump family members who ran the purported charity, including President Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump.

“It’s vital that the Special Counsel’s investigation move forward free from any appearance of interference or bias. As such, Acting Attorney General Whitaker has a clear responsibility to recuse himself from any role in the investigation – in order to ensure that the public can trust the integrity of the investigation and to protect DOJ’s fundamental independence,” said Attorney General Underwood.

The letter was signed by the Attorneys General of Massachusetts, New York, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.


‘You can’t fire the truth’: Watch massive protests gather around the country to protect Mueller’s probe

Raw Story
09 Nov 2018

Massive protesters have gathered across the country from New York to California to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump fired his Attorney General Jeff Sessions. This move has been seen as an effort from Trump to regain control over the Russian probe.

Trump appointed Matthew Whitaker as the new acting attorney general. Whitaker once said that he would act to halt the investigation and starve its funding.

See live updates via Twitter below from protests happening across the country.

    Live at the Mueller protest in front of the White House https://t.co/TWUtFhQi8a

    — Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) November 8, 2018

    Wow! The moveon protest in NYC to support Mueller is quite large for short notice. https://t.co/6pmNaCwkF1

    — Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) November 8, 2018

    Downtown #Orlando Mueller Protests! https://t.co/PgFDr6RZ2Y

    — safarishane (@safarishane) November 8, 2018

    #Boston #NobodyIsAboveTheLaw protect Mueller protest. Thanks https://t.co/xV1uJxBV3W

    — Peter Bowden (@Peter_Bowden) November 8, 2018

    Crowd growing. Among chants heard in protest against Trump appointment of Interim AG Matt Whitaker “No Excuse must recuse” “lock him up” and “hands off Mueller” @NY1 pic.twitter.com/NabwnhjQQk

    — Van Tieu (@Van_Tieu) November 8, 2018

    A couple hundred people have come out to march and protest what they believe to be authoritarian efforts by the Trump administration to end Robert Mueller’s investigation. pic.twitter.com/WjlptLi5wK

    — WBEN NewsRadio 930AM (@NewsRadio930) November 8, 2018

    RIGHT NOW: Richmond, Va’s #NobodyisAboveTheLaw protest against @realDonaldTrump firing of AG Jeff Sessions. They’re calling for the Mueller investigation to be protected…as dozens more continue to join @CBS6 pic.twitter.com/l1FvA5sVmy

    — Brendan King CBS 6 (@ImBrendanKing) November 8, 2018

    People have gathered here in downtown Rockville to protest President Trump attempting to stop the Robert Mueller investigation. @MoCoSentinel pic.twitter.com/oxauz1fUO2

    — Harry Lichtman (@hslichtman) November 8, 2018

    Thank you!

    Please consider telling your followers that tonight are protests across America in support of Mueller.

    In Los Angeles:
    Tonight at 5:00 pm at Downtown LA City Hall. 🇺🇸

    For locations: https://t.co/vW5A8B03fy#ThursdayMotivation#DTLA#MuellerInvestigation

    — Nora Charles (@noracharles_) November 8, 2018

    Nationwide protests to protect Mueller investigation | Ours is at LA City Hall @ 5pm| Reuters https://t.co/jG5coSiTVD

    — xx (@Tzitlaly1) November 8, 2018


White House staffers fear backlash over appointment of AG Whitaker: report

Raw Story
09 Nov 2018

Staffers inside Donald Trump’s own White House did not know of his plan to tap Matthew Whitaker as the acting Attorney General after firing Jeff Sessions and feel “a growing sense of concern” about the matter, CNN reports.

Whitaker is expected to take on oversight of the Robert Mueller probe despite the fact that he worked for one of the witnesses and has complained about the probe on conservative media. Whitaker had called Mueller’s appointment as special prosecutor”ridiculous” and “a little fishy.”

“It was not widely known among White House staff that he’d commented repeatedly on the special counsel’s investigation in interviews and on television — which is ironic given that this is what drew President Donald Trump to him and raises continued questions over the depth of the administration’s vetting process,” CNN reports.

The insiders said that the continued negative coverage of the appointment would get Trump’s attention and jeopardize his future in the role.


’How stupid is Matthew Whitaker?’: Lawrence O’Donnell explains how the ‘fake attorney general’ could end up in jail

Raw Story
09 Nov 2018

MSNBC anchor Lawrence O’Donnell explained on Thursday that acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker could be facing federal prison time for obstruction of justice if he interferes with special counsel Robert Mueller.

“The question for Matthew Whitaker, who now occupies the Attorney General’s office of the Justice Department, is does he think he can get away with interfering in Robert Mueller’s investigation of the president?” O’Donnell asked. “We know that’s what the president wants him to do.”

The segment aired the same day over 1,000 #ProtectMueller protests were held to defend the special counsel investigation.

“Donald Trump is that peculiar kind of criminally-minded person who publicly declares his criminal intent,” O’Donnell noted. “He has said he wants an attorney general who will work for him personally, who will protect him personally, who will obstruct justice for him personally — if necessary — and not work for the American people and not protect justice.”

O’Donnell laid out the relevant questions about Whitaker’s intelligence that are now critical.

“Is Matthew Whitaker smart enough to know that he is going to have to testify under oath to the House Judiciary Committee about any interference that he might try to engage in with the Mueller investigation?” he wondered.

“Is Matthew Whitaker smart enough to know that there is a five-year statute of limitations on the federal crime of obstruction of justice?” he wondered. “And that the next Democratic attorney general, who will probably be chosen during the presidential transition two years from now, will be empowered to immediately investigate every suspicious thing that Matthew Whitaker might be foolish enough to do as Donald Trump’s fake attorney general?”

“So how smart is Matthew Whitaker? How stupid is Matthew Whitaker?” he asked. “How reckless is Matthew Whitaker?”

“Judging by his previous public comments as a right-wing pundit, he sounds like the kind of guy who could get himself in serious criminal trouble,” O’Donnell concluded.

Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFFJDmX7Nzs


‘When was that?’: Watch Lindsey 'I love being Trump's drag queen' Graham bumble after Fox News airs his previous comments about Trump firing Sessions

Martin Cizmar
Raw Story
09 Nov 2018 at 20:14 ET                  

Sen. Lindsey 'I love being Trump's drag queen' Graham (R-SC) has become one of President Donald Trump’s staunchest supporters in Congress—a tireless defender of Trump agenda and character.

But, not so long ago, Graham was a skeptic of Trump who tried to hold his worst impulses in check.

Back in July 2017, Graham said there would be “holy hell to pay” if Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions to quash the Robert Mueller probe and warned it would be “the beginning of the end of Trump’s presidency.”

    Strong words from Graham: "Holy hell to pay" if Trump fires Sessions, and going after Mueller = beginning of the end of Trump's presidency pic.twitter.com/uFbWnFfKTm

    — Nolan D. McCaskill (@NolanDMcCaskill) July 27, 2017

On Thursday night, Fox News asked Graham about his old comments, making him visibly uncomfortable.

“When was that?” Graham said. “What year?”

“July of 2017,” said anchor Martha MacCallum.

“Hehehehehehehehe,” Graham said. “So… Hehe. Yeah… So, what I’ve been saying for months is that every president deserves an Attorney General they have confidence in.”


WATCH: Former FBI official predicts Mueller is ‘ready to indict some folks’ and explains how he’ll pull it off

Raw Story
09 Nov 2018

The former Assistant Director for Counterintelligence at the Federal Bureau of Investigation laid out a series of fascinating predictions as to how he thinks special counsel Robert Mueller will proceed after the appointment of Matt Whitaker as acting Attorney General.

Frank Figliuzzi joined MSNBC anchor Brian Williams for the “11th Hour” on Thursday.

“So Frank, what do you think is happening with Robert Mueller behind the scenes?” Williams asked.

“Well, I’ve got a theory, Brian — and it’s just a theory — but perhaps Bob Mueller has already indicated to us what he’s going to do,” he suggested. “Perhaps what we’ll see is Bob Mueller telling us the story of a corrupt president through indictments.”

“I think the Whitaker appointment steps up the timeline and I think perhaps if Mueller sticks to the strategy of telling us the story through indictments — the indictments speak to us — that he’ll speak to us soon, very soon, with additional indictments, perhaps that tell the story of a corrupt president,” he continued.

At that point, Figliuzzi’s satellite feed cut out, but he was quickly reconnected with Williams.

Williams asked Figliuzzi about his referring to Mueller as a “short-timer” before the show.

“Well, I think his days are numbered,” he answered. “So Mueller knows that. He’s, you know, he’s been there, done that. He’s prepared for this.”

Figliuzzi said, “I think he’s ready to indict some folks and through those indictments will tell the story of what he’s found against the president.”

“I’m not saying he’s indicting the president. I’m saying there’s a middle ground where he tells us the story, locks it into the court system by indicting others, then files a report with Whitaker,” he concluded.


Democrat who will lead Intel committee reveals plan to look at Trump’s laundering of Russian money

Raw Story
09 Nov 2018

The Democrat expected to chair the House Intelligence Committee when his party takes control in January intends to investigate the “national security” implications of alleged Russian money laundering through the Trump Organization.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) currently serves as the ranking member the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).

As an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Schiff successfully prosecuted a FBI agent for giving secrets to the Soviets.

He joined MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Thursday to explain the change in the committee’s that will occur when it is no longer run by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA).

“We are also going seek to look at the unexplored avenues of investigation, things that could threaten the national security of the United States,” Schiff pledged. “Issues like money laundering, if Russians were laundering money through the Trump Organization — and there’s serious allegation is a long these lines — that would be a powerful point of leverage of a foreign adversary over the president of the United States.”

“That would be something that could warp our foreign policy and jeopardize our national security,” Schiff concluded.

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


Watch: Nicolle Wallace reveals how corruption became the Trump’s ‘family business’

Raw Story
09 Nov 2018

On Thursday, MSNBC anchor Nicolle Wallace examined how corruption became the Trump’s “family business” and the extent to which the ir legal liability may have motivated the ouster of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“What’s going to happen to the president’s son?” Wallace asked. “According to Politico, quote, ‘Donald Trump Jr. has told friends in recent weeks that he believes he could be indicted, according to one of those people.'”

“On top of that report, Gab Sherman from Vanity Fair goes a bit further,” Wallace continued. “Three sources tell him junior has been telling friends it could happen this week.”

“It points to the peril the president has placed his own family — in the campaign and in the presidency — he made a choice to bring them into his world to rely on them, to bring them into the highest levels of the campaign and now they’re on the hook for what happened in that campaign,” noted New York Times political reporter Nick Confessore .

“There are four families with two generations ensnared in the Mueller probe,” Wallace noted.

“You’ve got Manafort and his son-in-law. Flynn and his son. Jared … son-in-law of Donald Trump,” she noted. “And Trump and Donald Trump Jr.”

“It’s unbelievable these corrupt political practices became a family business,” Wallace noted.

Watch:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0YXJEHNPs8


Trump counting on Kavanaugh to OK his new round of controversial executive orders: report

Noor Al-Sibai
Raw Story
09 Nov 2018 at 16:53 ET                  

White House insiders admit that Donald Trump expects his administration will be sued over its latest immigration policy — but with Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, he expects to win those suits.

Two senior administration officials that spoke to NBC News said that “of the [immigration] measures most likely to be approved by the president, all were likely to lead to a lawsuit.”

With the administration unveiling a new policy Thursday night that will expedite deportations of people who cross into the US illegally and deny previously legal asylum claims and sign an executive order on that policy Friday morning, the White House is prepared for the lawsuits likely to be brought against it.

“Although the Trump administration expects to be enjoined and stopped in the near term,” one of the officials told NBC, “they believe a policy based on the discretionary authority of the president over who is admitted to the U.S. will ultimately hold up in the Supreme Court.”

The other official said that an executive order likely to be upheld by the Supreme Court “is the best alternative” with Congress stalled on immigration.

Despite the administration’s reported confidence in Kavanaugh voting in the president’s favor, the new justice’s most recent record tells a different story.

Slate reported on November 5 that Kavanaugh has declined to “run interference” for Trump in three of his early rulings — when he declined to rule on the controversial citizenship question on the 2020 Census; when he did not publicly share his vote on the deposition of former commerce secretary Wilbur Ross and stayed mum on the court’s decision to punt the legality of the citizenship question to a circuit court.

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« Last Edit: Nov 09, 2018, 07:27 AM by Rad » Logged
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« Reply #2173 on: Nov 09, 2018, 06:49 AM »

Sarah Sanders promotes an altered video of CNN reporter, sparking allegations of visual propaganda
Watch two versions of Acosta video side-by-side

By Paul Farhi
November 9 2018
Wa Post

The Trump administration is plainly upset with the behavior of a certain CNN reporter. But how far is it willing to go to make its case that the reporter acted improperly during a news conference with President Trump?

Watch; <iframe width='480' height='290' scrolling='no' src='https://www.washingtonpost.com/video/c/embed/4b574570-e36b-11e8-ba30-a7ded04d8fac' frameborder='0' webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe>

One answer emerged Wednesday night when White House press secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted a video of the episode, involving CNN’s Jim Acosta, the network’s chief White House correspondent. Experts said the video, in which Acosta is seen rebuffing a press aide’s attempt to take a microphone out of his hands, was altered to exaggerate the aggressiveness of Acosta’s actions.

If that is the case, the video may belong in a category rarely employed by democratic governments: visual propaganda.

The White House video, apparently made by a contributor to the conspiracy-peddling website Infowars , speeds up the movement of Acosta’s arms as the unidentified aide grabs at the mic during a heated conversation between the reporter and Trump. The video tweeted by Sanders also eliminated Acosta’s comment to the young woman — “Pardon me, ma’am” — as he sought to continue questioning the president.

On Thursday, Sanders offered no apologies. “The question is: Did the reporter make contact or not?” she asked reporters a day after the White House revoked Acosta’s press credentials for his alleged transgression. “The video is clear, he did. We stand by our statement.”

The White House’s actions and account of them has drawn widespread condemnation, particularly from journalists and news organizations. The White House News Photographers Association, among others, said it was appalled by Sanders’s video.

“As visual journalists, we know that manipulating images is manipulating truth,” said the group’s president, Whitney Shefte, a Washington Post videographer. “It’s deceptive, dangerous and unethical. Knowingly sharing manipulated images is equally problematic, particularly when the person sharing them is a representative of our country’s highest office with vast influence over public opinion.”

Totalitarian governments have long recognized the value of altering photos and videos to manipulate public opinion and perception. Officials were regularly airbrushed out of state photos in the Soviet Union as dictators such as Joseph Stalin purged internal enemies. Wartime governments regularly censor images or release them selectively to maintain popular order and morale.

Modern-day regimes vigorously employ digital techniques to fool viewers; North Korea’s propaganda ministry routinely alters images emanating from the isolated nation, from photos of leader Kim Jong Un’s ears to state-issued pictures of the country’s military prowess.

Such tactics are have been irregularly employed in democracies like the United States, too. Political campaigns are rife with fake images. During his red-baiting campaign of the early 1950s, Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy (R-Wis.) distributed doctored photos of his opponents to suggest communist sympathies, according to Boston University journalism professor Christopher Daly. One “composite” photograph appeared to show Sen. Millard Tydings (D-Md.) deep in conversation with the head of the American Communist Party.

One of the most notorious instances of deliberate image ma­nipu­la­tion by the White House, said Daly, was its presentation of photos of the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964. The photos, apparently showing a minor naval skirmish, helped persuade Congress to pass a resolution granting President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to provide greater military assistance to the government of South Vietnam.

News organizations disapprove of altering photos and videos, on the premise that doing so deceives readers and viewers. News photos are cropped to better frame the action in them, and videos are edited to enhance clarity and storytelling — all considered legitimate practices. But some images are unethically altered. Judges in the annual World Press Photo competition have regularly disqualified entries because of “excessive” post-processing, such as toning that removes or hides objects in a photo.

Among the most infamous examples of news-photo ma­nipu­la­tion were National Geographic’s shot of the Egyptian pyramids, “squeezed” together to fit on the magazine’s cover in 1982, and Time magazine’s cover image of O.J. Simpson in 1994. Time darkened Simpson’s image, making him look more sinister and menacing.

While Sanders’s Acosta tweet doesn’t rise to Gulf of Tonkin levels, it raises several troubling questions, said Emmett Sullivan, who lectures in modern history and imagemaking at the University of London. He said that the video she distributed is identical to one by Paul Joseph Watson, a conspiracy theorist affiliated with Alex Jones’ Infowars site.

“The issue is then not one of manipulation, but simply judgment in sourcing your information,” said Sullivan. “Why not use the C-SPAN feed directly? America can expect the president’s press secretary to cite the best sources, and Sarah Sanders has failed the American people here.”

In a tweet on Thursday, Watson disputed that his video was altered: “The media, with zero fact checking, launched a conspiracy claiming I ‘sped up’ or ‘doctored’ the Jim Acosta video so they could distract from Acosta’s behavior. This is false. I did not ‘doctor’ or ‘speed up’ anything. It was all fake news.”

Acosta, who has tangled often with the White House and Trump, tweeted that Sanders’s claim that he put his hands on the press aide was “a lie.”

Sullivan says governments are less likely than ever to knowingly pass off a fake. The reason: “It is simply too easy for the manipulation to be spotted now. It generates too much adverse publicity in the media and social media precisely because video is such a common medium of communication.”

Then again, technology has created a kind of “arms race” between tools that permit video and photo ma­nipu­la­tion and those designed to sniff out the fakes, said Hany Farid, a professor of computer science at Dartmouth College.

“Obviously releasing misleading or doctored information is problematic, particularly when done by our officials,” he said. But as the technology advances, he said, the question of what’s real and what’s not may be up for debate. “As the technology that allows us to manipulate images gets more sophisticated and easier to use, then the claim that a video is fake becomes more credible,” he said.

Farid points to another infamous piece of video to illustrate his point, the “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump bragging about forcibly kissing and groping women. When that recording was revealed in 2016, he said, “nobody said it was fake.” Since then, Trump has cast doubt on its authenticity.

“If that recording broke today, he would’ve almost certainly say it is fake,” he said. And given the spread of digital-altering technology, he “would have had plausible deniability.”

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« Reply #2174 on: Nov 09, 2018, 11:10 AM »

Real America Versus Senate America

Some of us are more equal than others, and they like Trump

By Paul Krugman
Opinion Columnist
NY Times
Nov. 9, 2018

Everyone is delivering post-mortems on Tuesday’s elections, so for what it’s worth, here’s mine: Despite some bitter disappointments and lost ground in the Senate, Democrats won a huge victory. They broke the Republican monopoly on federal power, and that’s a very big deal for an administration that has engaged in blatant corruption and abuse of power, in the belief that an impenetrable red wall would always protect it from accountability. They also made major gains at the state level, which will have a big impact on future elections.

But given this overall success, how do we explain those Senate losses? Many people have pointed out that this year’s Senate map was unusually bad for Democrats, consisting disproportionately of states Donald Trump won in 2016. But there was actually a deeper problem, one that will pose long-term problems, not just for Democrats, but for the legitimacy of our whole political system. For economic and demographic trends have interacted with political change to make the Senate deeply unrepresentative of American reality.

How is America changing? Immigration and our growing racial and cultural diversity are only part of the story. We’re also witnessing a transformation in the geography of our economy, as dynamic industries increasingly gravitate to big metropolitan areas where there are already large numbers of highly educated workers. It’s not an accident that Amazon is planning to put its two new headquarters in New York and the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, both places with an existing deep pool of talent.

Obviously not everyone lives — or wants to live — in these growth centers of the new economy. But we are increasingly a nation of urbanites and suburbanites. Almost 60 percent of us live in metropolitan areas with more than a million people, more than 70 percent in areas with more than 500,000 residents. Conservative politicians may extol the virtues of a “real America” of rural areas and small towns, but the real real America in which we live, while it contains small towns, is mostly metropolitan.

But here’s the thing: The Senate, which gives each state the same number of seats regardless of population — which gives fewer than 600,000 people in Wyoming the same representation as almost 40 million in California — drastically overweights those rural areas and underweights the places where most Americans live.

I find it helpful to contrast the real America, the place we actually live, with what I think of as “Senate America,” the hypothetical nation implied by a simple average across states, which is what the Senate in effect represents.

As I said, real America is mainly metropolitan; Senate America is still largely rural.

Real America is racially and culturally diverse; Senate America is still very white.

Real America includes large numbers of highly educated adults; Senate America, which underweights the dynamic metropolitan areas that attract highly educated workers, has a higher proportion of non-college people, and especially non-college whites.

None of this is meant to denigrate rural, non-college, white voters. We’re all Americans, and we all deserve an equal voice in shaping our national destiny. But as it is, some of us are more equal than others. And that poses a big problem in an era of deep partisan division.

Not to put too fine a point on it: What Donald Trump and his party are selling increasingly boils down to white nationalism — hatred and fear of darker people, with a hefty dose of anti-intellectualism plus anti-Semitism, which is always part of that cocktail. This message repels a majority of Americans. That’s why Tuesday’s election in the House — which despite gerrymandering and other factors is far more representative of the country as a whole than the Senate — produced a major Democratic wave.

But the message does resonate with a minority of Americans. These Americans are, of course, white, and are more likely than not to reside outside big, racially diverse metropolitan areas — because racial animosity and fear of immigration always seem to be strongest in places where there are few nonwhites and hardly any immigrants. And these are precisely the places that have a disproportionate role in choosing senators.

So what happened Tuesday, with Republicans getting shellacked in the House but gaining in the Senate, wasn’t just an accident of this year’s map or specific campaign issues. It reflected a deep division in culture, indeed values, between the American citizenry at large and the people who get to choose much of the Senate.

This divergence will have profound implications, because the Senate has a lot of power, especially when the president — who, let us not forget, lost the popular vote — leads the party that controls it. In particular, Trump and his Senate friends will spend the next couple of years stuffing the courts with right-wing loyalists.

We may, then, be looking at a growing crisis of legitimacy for the U.S. political system — even if we get through the constitutional crisis that seems to be looming over the next few months.

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