Blog#42’s ‘Things Trump Did While You Weren’t Looking’ [August-December 2018] | Greed & Malfeasance Never Sleep

This web page contains curated news beginning August 6, 2018 through the end of the year.
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December 31, 2018

Bernie alumni seek meeting to address ‘sexual violence’ on ‘16 campaign

The signees are looking to change what they call a pervasive culture of toxic masculinity in the campaign world.

More than two dozen women and men who worked on Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign are seeking a meeting with the senator and his top political advisers to “discuss the issue of sexual violence and harassment on the 2016 campaign, for the purpose of planning to mitigate the issue in the upcoming presidential cycle,” according to a copy of letter obtained by POLITICO.

“In recent weeks there has been an ongoing conversation on social media, in texts, and in person, about the untenable and dangerous dynamic that developed during our campaign,” they wrote.

Organizers of the effort said they did not intend for the letter to become public, but they confirmed that they sent it to senior Sanders officials on Sunday afternoon.

Continue reading at Politico

Alabama sheriff has personally kept over $1.5M through contract to house undocumented immigrants: report

A sheriff in Alabama has personally received large amounts of federal funds by housing undocumented immigrant detainees at the Etowah County Detention Center, according to a new report from

The newspaper, citing public records and interviews with county officials, reported that Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin has received funds from the federal government to house and feed detainees at the center.

The newspaper additionally noted that Entrekin has acknowledged keeping money meant for jail food that goes unspent. He said in a press conference that he kept more than $750,000 from 2015-2017.

But, reports that the money Entrekin personally pocketed from the contract with the federal government is far bigger than that sum. Documents the newspaper reviewed show that beginning in October 2011, the surplus for feeding inmates for the following three years was $3 million.

Continue reading at The Hill

As government shutdown continues, human waste on Yosemite’s roadsides prompt park closures

Yosemite National Park visitors using the side of the road as a toilet have prompted the park to close two campgrounds and a popular redwood grove for public-safety reasons.

The park‘s restrooms and visitor centers have been closed and trash collection suspended since the partial federal government shutdown began Dec. 22, but the park itself remains open.

“With restrooms closed, some visitors are opting to deposit their waste in natural areas adjacent to high traffic areas, which creates a health hazard for other visitors,” National Parks Service spokesman Andrew Munoz said in an email Saturday.

Human feces and urine along Wawona Road, also known as California Highway 41, in the south part of the park contributed to the closure of the Mariposa Grove of redwoods as well as the Wawona and Hodgson Meadows campgrounds, a park statement said.

Continue reading at the Los Angeles Times

New Interior FOIA rule could make it harder to get public documents

A new Interior Department rule could make it harder for news organizations and nonprofits to get public information from the government.

Filed to the Federal Register between Christmas and New Year’s Day on Friday, the suggested rule would change the way the agency must file Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by relaxing timelines by which information must be handled and increasing the burden on requesters to be specific in what they are looking for.

The changes, critics say, will ultimately make it harder for people to get the government documents they are seeking and could add to the already high number of FOIA lawsuits against the Trump administration.

“I think this is a problem that they have created for themselves, by failing to be transparent, by failing to make documents available to the public, and this is going to make it worse,” said Nada Culver, senior counsel at The Wilderness Society.

Continue reading at The Hill

December 31, 2018

The Worst of 2018

In defense of Orange County’s ‘NIMBY’ stance on homelessness

By TODD SPITZER                  MAY 31, 2018

Orange County isn’t an exclusive club where only the wealthy can live. We’re 3 million people who have problems just like everyone else in California: We work hard to pay for housing, we’re overtaxed and we’re trying to eke out a safe existence in a county where many cities are facing an increase in property crime.

We put a premium on our quality of life. Law and order are our priorities. We are not complacent about our problems. Maybe that’s why people want to live here, including a large homeless population.

As a supervisor for the county’s 3rd District, I see Orange County’s struggles and its achievements clearly, so I was particularly offended when Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti weighed in on our homeless relocation efforts. “I think that Orange County is a few years behind what we’ve gone through [in L.A.],” he said. “It’s not that we don’t have any NIMBYism, but we have much less.” He also said that Orange County cities would eventually “realize” that they have a homeless problem.

Orange County is neither heartless nor unaware of its homelessness problem. Over the last six months, we cleared the encampments along the Santa Ana River of nearly 700 homeless people, helping them into temporary housing, getting them mental health support and job training.

Continue reading at the Los Angeles Times

See the LA Times’ coverage of the housing crisis in SoCal

See KPCC’s coverage here

Government makes secret filing in foreign lobbying case linked to Mueller

Federal prosecutors on Monday filed a status report under seal in the case of Sam Patten, a GOP consultant and former associate of Paul Manafort who pleaded guilty in August to illegally lobbying for a political party in Ukraine.

Since his plea, Patten has been cooperating with prosecutors, including special counsel Robert Mueller, who referred his case to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., likely because it fell outside his original mandate to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Government prosecutors were due to file a joint status report with Patten’s defense attorneys on Monday, which could have revealed information about the extent of his cooperation in ongoing investigations and his readiness to be sentenced. The government’s decision to file the document under seal, which prosecutors acknowledged in a brief notice to the court on Monday, suggests they wanted to keep information shielded from the public.

Patten pleaded guilty to failing to register as a lobbyist for a political party in Ukraine known as the Opposition Bloc.

Continue reading at The Hill

‘Pooey Puitton’ purse said to irk Louis Vuitton, prompts lawsuit

(Reuters) – A California toy company has sued Louis Vuitton to stop the French luxury goods maker from interfering with its sales of a slime-filled, poop-shaped toy purse for children, Pooey Puitton.

In a complaint filed on Friday in Los Angeles federal court, MGA Entertainment Inc said no reasonable consumer would mistake Pooey Puitton, which retails for $59.99, for costlier Louis Vuitton handbags.

MGA called Pooey Puitton protected parody “designed to mock, criticize, and make fun of that wealth and celebrity” associated with Louis Vuitton products and rejected what it called Louis Vuitton’s claim of trademark infringement to an MGA customer.

“The use of the Pooey name and Pooey product in association with a product line of ‘magical unicorn poop’ is intended to criticize or comment upon the rich and famous, the Louis Vuitton name, the LV marks, and on their conspicuous consumption,” the complaint said.

Continue reading at Reuters

Federal workers union sues Trump admin over government shutdown

One of the country’s largest unions representing federal workers is suing the Trump administration over the government shutdown, claiming that it is illegal to require employees to work without pay.

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) union released a statement on Monday announcing its lawsuit as the shutdown stretches past a week.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, alleges that the federal government is in violation of the law by requiring some federal workers, many of which are represented by the union, to work without pay during the shutdown.

Continue reading at The Hill

US stocks suffer worst year since 2008

U.S. stocks in 2018 suffered their worst annual performances in a decade after closing on Monday.

Despite making gains on Monday, the S&P 500 finished 2018 down 6.2 percent, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 5.6 percent.

Those drops marked the worst year for U.S. stocks since the 2008 financial crisis, when the S&P fell 38.5 percent and the Dow dropped 33.8 percent.

The S&P and the Dow also fell 13.97 percent and 12 percent in the quarter, according to CNBC.

A spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) used the stock market’s performance to criticize GOP tax cuts that were passed last year.

“‘Tax cuts are working’ ,” Henry Connelly tweeted.

Continue reading at The Hill

Black teacher sues NY school for discrimination, ‘racial jeers’

A high school teacher is suing a New York school district, alleging that she has faced multiple instances of racism during her 17 years as the only black teacher working for the district.

Andrea Bryan, an English teacher, filed the lawsuit in the Eastern District of New York on Dec. 19 against Long Island’s Commack School District, NBC News reported Sunday, claiming she was discriminated against by both students and faculty.

In one case, a white teacher allegedly told Bryan that food inside the English office was meant “for whites only,” the lawsuit says. In another case, the same teacher, dealing with the play “The Crucible,” allegedly asked her to “translate slave talk for me,” a comment that Bryan says “humiliated, degraded and embarrassed” her, NBC News reported.

Continue reading at The Hill

Singer Jimmy Osmond suffers stroke during UK pantomime performance

LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. pop singer Jimmy Osmond, who performed the chart-topping hit “Long-Haired Lover from Liverpool” as a child in 1972, has suffered a stroke and will take time away from the stage, a spokesperson for the singer said on Monday.

Osmond completed a performance of the Peter Pan pantomime on Dec. 27 at the Birmingham Hippodrome theater in central England before he was driven to hospital and diagnosed with a stroke, the representative said in a statement on the theatre’s website.

Continue reading at Reuters

Trump claims there’s a 10-foot wall around the Obamas’ D.C. home. He is wrong.

In one of his most recent arguments for a southern border wall, President Trump on Sunday falsely claimed that the Washington home of former president Barack Obama and Michelle Obama is surrounded by a 10-foot wall.

Trump’s tweet comes in the midst of a partial government shutdown, which was spurred Dec. 22 by Trump’s demand for $5 billion in funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. He alleged that the “wall” around the Obamas’ mansion was necessary for the former first couple’s “safety and security,” adding that the United States needs a “slightly larger version!”


Trump’s assertion came as a surprise to two of the Obamas’ neighbors Monday, who told The Washington Post that there is no such wall. The 8,200-square-foot structure, despite several security features, is completely visible from the street.

Continue reading at the Washington Post

December 30, 2018

Conservative health care experiment leads to thousands losing coverage

‘I have pre-existing conditions. But all they could tell me was, ‘sorry, you didn’t comply,” said one Arkansan who lost coverage.

CABOT, Ark. — Arkansas is throwing thousands of people off its Medicaid rolls each month for not complying with work requirements, blindsiding vulnerable residents panicked about losing their health coverage.

Views differ on the fairness of the unprecedented social experiment, but there’s unanimity here that it’s causing confusion. And that’s feeding a philosophical debate about whether low-income adults are ducking the work rules or just can’t navigate the tech-heavy reporting system that goes offline every night at 9 p.m.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson defended the program, saying it provides the help residents need to become independent. “These are not people that didn’t want to work,” he said in an interview. “It’s just they might not have had the training they needed, or they didn’t have a job opportunity and they needed additional assistance. And that’s what the objective is of the program.”

The state has removed more than 16,000 low-income adults for failing to log at least 80 hours of work, job training, volunteering or similar activity — including 4,655 in November.

Continue reading at Politico

A Holiday Mystery: Why Did John Roberts Intervene in the Mueller Probe?

We’re about to find out why the chief justice of the Supreme Court decided to get involved in the special counsel’s investigation.

A mysterious grand jury subpoena case has been working itself through the D.C. courts since August. Doughty reporting by Politico linked the grand jury case to special counsel Robert Mueller. Some of us, connecting the dots, wondered whether Mueller’s antagonist in this secret subpoena battle might be President Donald Trump himself. Speculation heightened two weeks ago when the D.C. Circuit cleared an entire floor of reporters assembled for the oral argument, in order to protect the identity of the litigants.

Four days later, the D.C. Circuit judges burst the speculative bubble with a decision that halfway revealed the identity of the party litigating against the government: not Trump, but an unnamed corporation (“the Corporation”) owned by an unnamed foreign state (“Country A”). Although the case is still plenty mysterious (What foreign state? What records of what transactions? Why the hard-fought litigation?), the evident fact that Trump was not directly involved in the litigation seemingly drained further proceedings of direct suspense. Mueller watchers headed off for the holidays.

And then, last week, on the Sunday before Christmas, Chief Justice John Roberts personally intervened in this matter.

That’s right: The chief justice of the United States himself issued an order on a Sunday, in this very case. If you think that’s highly unusual, you’re right. And the action he took was equally unusual. At least for the moment calling into question the unanimous decisions of the courts below, the chief justice blocked the District Court’s order requiring the foreign corporation to comply with the grand jury subpoena, until the government’s lawyers could respond to the Corporation’s briefings.

So now, in abrupt fashion, Mueller’s investigation has suddenly reached the Supreme Court, and with the personal attention of the chief justice, no less.

Continue reading at Politico

Retired Gen. McChrystal: I think Trump is immoral

Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal said Sunday that he believes President Trump is “immoral,” and that he would not join the administration if asked.

“It’s important for me to work for people who I think are basically honest, who tell the truth as best they know it,” McChrystal said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“I don’t think he tells the truth,” he added.

McChrystal, who resigned as the nation’s top military commander in Afghanistan in 2010 after critical remarks he made about Vice President Joe Biden and other civilian leaders were published in Rolling Stone, said he believes each American has to make their own judgment about whether to support Trump.


Continue reading at The Hill

How Nancy Pelosi signaled the end of Donald Trump’s easy ride

In one deft performance the top Democrat in the House owned the president, having faced down Republicans’ scare tactics and attacks from her own side

Nancy Pelosi was perched on the end of a sofa in the Oval Office when the balance of power in Donald Trump’s Washington decisively shifted in her favour.

The event in early December began as a simple photo call with Trump – the first attempt at bipartisan dialogue after the midterm elections saw Democrats take back control of the House of Representatives.

The president was in domineering form, making demands about funding for his stalled border wall and contemplating shutting down the government if a budget was not passed giving him $5bn for his unfulfilled promise.

“I think the American people recognise that we must keep government open, that a shutdown is not worth anything,” said Pelosi as Trump nodded. “And that we should not have a Trump shutdown.”

The president looked up and said: “A what? Did you say a Trump – ?”

After two years surrounded by loyalists and sycophants, Trump had got his first taste of what life will be like with Pelosi in control of one half of Congress.

Continue reading at The Guardian

John Kelly: judge me on what Trump didn’t do while I was chief of staff

As Donald Trump attracted criticism for blaming the deaths of children in US custody on Democrats opposed to his demands for a border wall, outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly said he had “nothing but compassion” for migrants attempting to enter the US without documentation.

“Illegal immigrants, overwhelmingly, are not bad people,” Kelly said, describing many migrants as victims misled by traffickers. “I have nothing but compassion for them, the young kids.”

Two young Guatemalan children have died in US custody this month. Amid debate, the causes of death remain unknown.

Kelly, a retired Marines general, spoke in an interview with the Los Angeles Times conducted by phone on Friday and published on Sunday morning. He will leave the White House on Wednesday. His remarks, jarring with those of the president, echoed those of his successor as homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, who visited the border this weekend.

In a statement released around the same time on Saturday that Trump tweeted that “any deaths of children or others at the border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies”, Nielsen said: “The system is clearly overwhelmed and we must work together to address this humanitarian crisis and protect vulnerable populations.”

Continue reading at The Guardian

Best of 2018

I Hate-Watch ‘House Hunters’ to Understand Segregation

The HGTV show highlights more than just open kitchens and bickering couples

Confession: Until I started watching “House Hunters” on HGTV, I had no idea what a “Craftsman-style” house was. I also didn’t know that white kitchens were all the rage, or that “en suite” was a phrase that normal people might use. Indeed, until I picked up my “House Hunters” habit—a mindless routine at night as I get ready for bed—I didn’t truly understand that one must always have an open concept floor plan; any spouse desiring separate spaces is just as stuffy as an old Victorian.

The show, a longtime cable favorite among fans of shelter-TV programming, has a familiar paint-by-numbers formula. Usually, but not always, we watch a straight couple search for a home sweet home. They visit three places, all very different spaces. She wants rustic. He craves mid-century modern. Everyone swears they entertain all the time and need an outdoor deck to guzzle wine in the summer. The show quickly drifts into absurd complaints. The neighbors are too close. This paint is ugly. They go way over budget. Finally, someone acquiesces and they choose a home. (There’s also a spinoff show, “Island Hunters,” which is like a crash course in colonialism, with people buying actual islands.)

With its relentless appetite for scenes of spousal bickering, “House Hunters” makes good pop culture fodder for armchair sociologists to study the state of the American marriage. (Seriously, how can some of these people be married to each other?) But the more I watch the show, the more I understand that it’s also a study of how race and housing play out in American cities, usually unbeknownst to the purchasers whose biggest cares are closet size.

I really notice this whenever Chicago is featured on “House Hunters.” My city is hyper-segregated and diverse, with a vast number of housing and neighborhood choices for aspiring homebuyers. I quickly noticed a pattern: Chicago-set episodes usually show couples on the hunt in white North Side neighborhoods or gentrifying Latino neighborhoods.Continue reading at CityLab


Trump claims ‘wall’ around Obamas’ DC home is ‘same thing’ as border wall

President Trump on Sunday referenced reports of a privacy “wall” built around President Obama’s Washington, D.C., home to justify the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, as he continues to push for funding the structure amid a partial government shutdown.

Trump tweeted that the brick structure reportedly put up last year along the Obamas’ Kalorama home was “totally necessary for their safety and security.”

“The U.S. needs the same thing, slightly larger version!” Trump tweeted.


TMZ first reported two years ago that the former first family had obtained permits for additional security at their D.C. home. The structure, which in photos appears to be similar to a security fence but made of brick, was reportedly completed in 2017.


Continue reading at The Hill


DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE Chair Tom Perez is setting a kind of cover charge to get onstage for the Democratic presidential primary debates, but not just any money will do. In addition to the usual polling metrics required to join the debate, candidates will also have to meet a to-be-determined criteria for “grassroots fundraising.”

Including small-dollar fundraising as a necessary element for debate participation would have two effects. First, it incentivizes candidates to invest — strategically, financially, and emotionally — in growing a small-donor base. Second, it will force potential billionaire self-funders like Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer, and Howard Schultz to demonstrate some level of popular enthusiasm for their campaigns, meaning they can’t just flash their own cash and buy their way onstage.

This is a remarkable decision for any political party, and it reflects a growing shift in how campaigns are run and won. It also previews what will be an important way to measure the success of candidates in the Democratic primary: not just looking at how much money candidates raise, but how much of their money comes from small-dollar donors.

Continue reading at The Intercept

Editorial Note:  These three billionaires can place ads and get small donations going, just like Trump has done. He gets a lot of small donations. Heck, he’s even getting GoFundMe money for his damn wall… But the other candidates will also have to meet the same criteria. Sander’s rolodex from the 2016 primary is substantial. Sanders aside, who will get enough money to “qualify?”

Tom Steyer ran a petition to impeach Trump all throughout the past year and a half. He has a lot of names and email addresses from which to solicit donations now. The same is true of Bloomberg and his gun control initiatives. I’m sure Schultz knows how to get email lists. All you need is money. What of the other candidates? What chance do they have to compete at the same level?

My friend Mike writes: “This is the game the pro-oligarchs will play: split the vote among the candidates so that no one gets 50% of pledged delegates, fail to choose a winner in the first round at the DNC, bring out the superdelegates, they then vote for whoever they want (disregarding the voters) and they choose Biden/O’Rourke, or something like that. Of course they say they did it because Biden can win better than Bernie even though Bernie had the most pledged delegates. Then Biden loses and they tell us whose fault that is: Bernie’s! They are already starting to blame Bernie now.”

He’s right. This is the bait and switch.

Congress unlikely to stop super PACs from hiding donors

House Democrats eyeing an ethics and campaign-finance overhaul appear focused on voting rights and Trump’s taxes rather than on cracking down on super PACs.

House Democrats are planning a major ethics and campaign-finance reform push in early 2019, but lawmakers appear unlikely to halt a growing trend among big-money groups of hiding their donors.

Sixty-nine super PACs, which can raise unlimited sums of money but are supposed to tell the public who donated it, delayed or avoided making those disclosures during the 2018 midterms.

One group, Texas Forever, spent $2.3 million attacking Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and didn’t reveal until after the election that it was funded by Washington Democrats.

The Federal Election Commission, which oversees campaign spending, has so far done little to curb such tactics, which grew in popularity among both political parties in 2018. And House Democrats appear focused on voting rights and other issues that appeal to their base rather than on cracking down on super PACs, according to multiple reform advocates who are providing input on the legislation.

Continue reading at Politico

‘For 30 years I’ve been obsessed by why children get leukaemia. Now we have an answer’

Newly knighted cancer scientist Mel Greaves explains why a cocktail of microbes could give protection against disease

Mel Greaves has a simple goal in life. He is trying to create a yoghurt-like drink that would stop children from developing leukaemia.

The idea might seem eccentric; cancers are not usually defeated so simply. However, Professor Greaves is confident and, given his experience in the field, his ideas are being taken seriously by other cancer researchers.

Based at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, Greaves has been studying childhood leukaemia for three decades. On Friday, it was announced that he had received a knighthood in the New Year honours list for the research he has carried out in the field.

“For 30 years I have been obsessed about the reasons why children get leukaemia,” he says. “Now, for the first time, we have an answer to that question – and that means that we can now start thinking about ways to halt it in its tracks. Hence my idea of the drink.”

In the 1950s, common acute lymphoblastic leukaemia – which affects one in 2,000 children in the UK – was lethal. Today 90% of cases are cured, although treatment is toxic, and there can be long-term side effects. In addition, for the past few decades, scientists have noticed that numbers of cases have actually been increasing in the UK and Europe at a steady rate of around 1% a year.

“It is a feature of developed societies but not of developing ones,” Greaves adds. “The disease tracks with affluence.”

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is caused by a sequence of biological events. The initial trigger is a genetic mutation that occurs in about one in 20 children.

Continue reading at The Guardian

Graham after meeting with Trump: I feel a lot better about Syria now

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Sunday that he feels better about the U.S. strategy in Syria after meeting with President Trump at the White House for a private lunch.

“We talked about Syria and he told me some things I didn’t know that made me feel a lot better about where we’re headed in Syria,” Graham told reporters.

“He promised to destroy ISIS [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria]. He’s going to keep that promise,” Graham continued. “We’re not there yet, but as I said today we’re inside the 10-yard line, and the president understands the need to finish the job.”


Continue reading at The Hill

December 29, 2018

Cyber attack causes distribution delays at prominent US newspapers: report

A cyberattack Saturday targeting a major newspaper publishing company reportedly affected distribution at prominent newspapers across the United States.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Tribune Publishing was affected by a cyberattack originating outside of the U.S., which caused service disruptions for the Saturday editions of major newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, and the Baltimore Sun.

The west coast editions of The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times were also reportedly affected by the cyberattack, as the two papers are published by the Los Angeles Times’s production facility.

“We believe the intention of the attack was to disable infrastructure, more specifically servers, as opposed to looking to steal information,” a source with knowledge of the situation told the L.A. Times.

Continue reading at The Hill

Week 84: This Was the Year Mueller Made the Liars Writhe

And it looks like 2019 promises more of the same.

There’s so much we don’t know about what Robert S. Mueller III knows about Trump and the Russians. Governed by its own rhythms, the Mueller black box opens every now and then to issue a girthy assortment of criminal indictments, plea agreements and sentencing memos and then slams shut again, returning to silence. But in the 19 months since his appointment as the special counsel to investigate the connections between President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian officials, he’s shown us all we need to know about how he operates and where his investigation may go in 2019.

Setting aside for a moment the 25 Russians charged for various cybercrimes—Russians who will likely never be extradited to the United States—Mueller’s top priority has been to stab liars with the law and then turn the blade inside the wound to get them to cooperate to implicate other liars and so on and so on until he reaches Liar Numero Uno, the president.

Early on, Mueller busted Michael Flynn for lying to investigators and converted him into a witness for the prosecution. Then came liars George PapadopoulosRick GatesAlex van der Zwaan, all of whom felt his blade and were persuaded to cooperate. After flipping Flynn, Mueller gave former Trump official K.T. McFarland the opportunity to revise her claims to what she knew about discussions inside the Trump camp about Russian sanctions. Even Paul Manafort, convicted by Mueller and persuaded to plead guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges, got popped by the special counsel for telling “discernible lies.”

But Mueller’s biggest liar of 2018—or at least the most valuable liar for prosecutorial purposes—was former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty in November to lying to Congress about Trump’s Moscow tower project.

Continue reading at Politico

Trump blames Democrats for deaths of child migrants in U.S. border custody

President Donald Trump on Saturday blamed Democratic lawmakers for the deaths of two Guatemalan children who perished while in government custody earlier this month, and claimed the tragedies could have been prevented by the construction of his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.“Any deaths of children or others at the Border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally,” the president tweeted. reading at Politico  

The completely manufactured “Bernie vs. Beto” fight is a reminder that there’s nothing wrong with demanding more from candidates.

As much as you may not want it to happen, the 2020 primaries have begun. The field of contenders for the Democrats right now is both completely theoretical and ridiculously crowded. Essentially, any Democrat whose name has come up in the last two years is possibly in the mix, and that includes both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. But pundits are more interested in a new showdown in the primaries: the alleged war between Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke.


First of all, it’s important to get the actual backstory out of the way. There’s no evidence that Sanders is directing or supporting, tacitly or otherwise, a shadow war against a Beto O’Rourke presidential run. That whole idea started because of a tweet from the director of the biggest liberal think tank in the country, the Center for American Progress, which has a spotty track record of actually supporting progressive goals or candidates. When journalist David Sirota shared O’Rourke’s record of accepting oil and gas donations, CAP director and Hillary crusader Neera Tanden took it to 11, calling on Bernie Sanders to repudiate such “attacks” by his “supporters.”


She followed up by saying, “I have no candidate in 2020. We can’t destroy whoever the nominee is.”

Ocasio-Cortez responds to McCaskill: ‘Pretty disappointing’

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) fired back at former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) on Saturday after the outgoing senator criticized the freshman New York lawmaker for her embrace of the Democratic Party’s left wing.

In a series of tweets, Ocasio-Cortez called McCaskill’s rhetoric “pretty disappointing” and pointed out that progressive initiatives including a minimum wage increase won on the ballot in Missouri in November while McCaskill, a more conservative Democrat, lost.

“Not sure why fmr Sen. McCaskill keeps going on TV to call me a “thing” and “shiny object,” but it’s pretty disappointing,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote Saturday.

“McCaskill promised she’d ‘100% back Trump up’ on his anti-immigrant rhetoric & lost. In MO, almost all progressive ballot issues won,” she continued.

Continue reading at The Hill      

Florida man starts GoFundMe to pay for tunnels under Trump’s border wall

A Florida man launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to buy shovels for people planning to build tunnels under President Trump’s proposed border wall, according to a local ABC station.

“To the thousands of people raising money for a wall … I’m raising money to supply tunnel builders with shovels … I’m sure we won’t need the $150,000,000 but in all reality who gives a shit … let’s see how much I can raise,” Rigo Torres, the creator behind the campaign, wrote on the crowdfunding page.

The effort comes several weeks after a GoFundMe page that was launched to fund Trump’s long-desired wall across the U.S.-Mexico border captured headlines after raising nearly $5 million in just three days. The campaign has since raised over $18 million of its $1 billion goal.

Continue reading at The Hill

Oregon woman arrested after video shows her holding knife, yelling racial slurs over parking dispute

An Oregon woman was arrested on Friday night after she was caught on tape holding a knife and yelling racial slurs over a parking dispute.

Amber Rocco, 39, is facing two counts of intimidation in the first degree, two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, two counts of menacing and two counts of harassment in connection with the dispute, which took place Sunday, Fox 12 News reported Friday.

The McMinnville Police Department arrested Rocco after they were called to the parking lot of a strip mall over a dispute.

Emora Roberson was in the car with her aunt, boyfriend and 15-month-old baby when an agitated woman, later identified as Rocco, confronted them about how they were “parked crooked,” The Oregonian reported.

The video obtained by the news outlet does not capture what led to the confrontation, but shows the woman holding a knife.


Continue reading at The Hill

Former Macron aide probed over illegal use of passport

Alexandre Benalla reportedly used a diplomatic passport on a trip to Africa.

The Paris prosecutor said Saturday that he had opened an investigation into Alexandre Benalla, a former top security aide to French President Emmanuel Macron.

Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Friday requested the probe after press reports that Benalla — who was dismissed in July over the assault of a demonstrator in a street protest — had used a diplomatic passport on a recent trip to Africa.

Prosecutor Rémy Heitz, who was appointed by Macron in November, will investigate Benalla for breach of trust, improper use of professional documents and feigning being in public service, Heitz said in a press release.

It emerged last week that Benalla had met Chad’s leader three weeks before Macron paid a Christmas visit to troops stationed there. Benalla insisted he made the trip as part of a “foreign business delegation.”

But investigative website Mediapart on Thursday disclosed that Benalla had over the last few months been traveling on a diplomatic passport issued in May.

Continue reading at Politico

Ex-far right leader registers ‘Yellow Jackets’ as trademark

A former vice president of the French far right has registered “Yellow Jackets” as a trademark ahead of the 2019 European election, the newspaper l’Opinion reported Thursday.

Florian Philippot, who was a close adviser to Marine Le Pen, left the National Front in 2017 (the party has since been renamed the National Rally) and founded his own movement called the Patriots.

He told l’Opinion he wants to lead a “half Patriots, half Yellow Jackets” list of candidates in the EU election.

The leaderless Yellow Jackets movement started in November in protest against rising fuel prices and a planned fuel tax, which the government has since abandoned. It has morphed into an anti-Emmanuel Macron movement, and figures on the far left and the far right have said they want Yellow Jacket protestors on their list for the EU elections.

Continue reading at Politico

December 28, 2018

Teachers in America quitting jobs at record rate

Teachers and public education employees in the United States are reportedly quitting their jobs at a record rate.

Public educators — including teachers, schools psychologists, janitors and community college faculty members — quit their jobs at a rate of 83 per 10,000 a month on average in the first 10 months of the year, data from the Labor Department seen by The Wall Street Journal revealed.

According to the newspaper, that rate is the highest on record since the government began collecting such data in 2011.

The rate of departures is also nearly double that of the 48 per 10,000 public education workers who quit their jobs in 2009.

Continue reading at The Hill

Mueller appears to respond early in subpoena fight at Supreme Court

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office appears to have responded to a foreign company’s bid to get the Supreme Court to step into a fight over a grand jury subpoena served on the firm.Most details of the case remain under seal at the Supreme Court since the company asked for an emergency stay last week, but an entry in the high court’s docket indicates a response was filed Friday, three days ahead of the Monday deadline set by the court. The filing was accompanied by an application to put the filing under seal, the Supreme Court docket says.The docket entry doesn’t indicate Mueller’s office is involved in the legal fight. Indeed, there’s not even a mention in the Supreme Court’s public records that the U.S. Government or the Justice Department is involved in the case.

Friday’s filing was likely submitted by Solicitor General Noel Francisco’s office, which handles nearly all Supreme Court briefs for the U.S. government.

Continue reading at Politico

Supreme Court justice’s wife stirs controversy

The Lead

Ginni Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, has stirred debate with her far-right rhetoric. CNN’s Jessica Schneider has more.

As a grocery chain is dismantled, investors recover their money. Worker pensions are short millions.

MUNCIE, Ind. — Once the Marsh Supermarkets chain began to falter a few years ago, its owner, a private-equity firm, began selling off the vast retail empire, piece by piece. The company sold more than 100 convenience stores. It sold the pharmacies. It closed some of the 115 grocery stores, having previously auctioned off their real estate. Then, in May 2017, the company announced the closure of the remaining 44 stores.

Marsh Supermarkets, founded in 1931, had at last filed for bankruptcy.

“It was a long, slow decline,” said Amy Gerken, formerly an assistant office manager at one of the stores. Sun Capital Partners, the private-equity firm that owned Marsh, “didn’t really know how grocery stores work. We’d joke about them being on a yacht without even knowing what a UPC code is. But they didn’t treat employees right, and since the bankruptcy, everyone is out for their blood.”

The anger arises because although the sell-off allowed Sun Capital and its investors to recover their money and then some, the company entered bankruptcy leaving unpaid more than $80 million in debts to workers’ severance and pensions.

For Sun Capital, this process of buying companies, seeking profits and leaving pensions unpaid is a familiar one. Over the past 10 years, it has taken five companies into bankruptcy while leaving behind debts of about $280 million owed to employee pensions.

The unpaid pension debts mean that some retirees will get smaller checks. Much of the tab will be picked up by the government’s pension insurer, a federal agency facing its own budget shortfalls.

“They did everyone dirty,” said Kilby Baker, 70, a retired warehouse worker whose pension check was cut by about 25 percent after Marsh Supermarkets withdrew from the pension. “We all gave up wage increases so we could have a better pension. Then they just took it away from us.”

Continue reading at the Washington Post

Liberal groups push Dem leaders to take harder line in shutdown talks

The American Civil Liberties Union and a coalition of left-leaning political, immigration, environmental and labor groups are urging Democratic leaders to further pare down their border fence offer to President Donald Trump once Democrats take over the House and try to reopen the government.

In fact, the groups want House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to deny the president money for his fence altogether rather than give the Department of Homeland Security a year of funding at the same level as last year. The two Democratic leaders have offered Trump roughly $1.3 billion in money for fencing as part of a continuing resolution for DHS, though Trump has publicly asked for as much as $5 billion.

“Less money is of course better than Trump’s demand for $5 billion, but the harms caused by your proposed funding as compared to his are just as real, divisive, and damaging. In short, a continuing resolution that includes $1.375 billion for border barrier construction clearly funds Trump’s wall project and must be rejected,” the coalition of groups wrote in a letter obtained by POLITICO.

Dozens of groups signed the letter, from Indivisible to the ACLU to the National Immigration Law Center. The message was delivered to Capitol Hill offices on Friday afternoon and also included a demand that Democrats cut the Department of Homeland Security’s detention and deportation funding.

Continue reading at Politico

Hoyer says House will not seat a North Carolina Republican amid questions about integrity of election

Incoming House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said Friday that Democrats next week will not seat a North Carolina Republican amid allegations of election fraud in the state’s 9th Congressional District.

“Given the now well-documented election fraud that took place in NC-09, Democrats would object to any attempt by [Mark] Harris to be seated on January 3,” Hoyer said in a statement. “In this instance, the integrity of our democratic process outweighs concerns about the seat being vacant at the start of the new Congress.”

The statement came after North Carolina dissolved its elections board Friday without certifying the Nov. 6 results, leaving the fate of the seat in doubt days ahead of the start of the new Congress.

David B. Freedman, an attorney for Harris, said the Republican has cooperated with the investigation and “looks forward to this matter coming to a resolution as quickly as possible so that he may serve the people of the 9th Congressional District as he was elected to do.”

Continue reading at the Washington Post

Dems’ New Year’s resolution: Stiff Trump on the wall and reopen the government

Democratic leaders think the president is playing a losing hand and will be under pressure to relent.

House Democrats — increasingly convinced they’re winning the shutdown fight with President Donald Trump — are plotting ways to reopen the government while denying the president even a penny more for his border wall when they take power Jan. 3.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her top lieutenants are considering several options that would refuse Trump the $5 billion he’s demanded for the wall and send hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal employees back to work, according to senior Democratic sources.

While the strategy is fluid, House Democrats hope to pass a funding bill shortly after members are sworn in. They believe that would put pressure on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to follow suit. And they’re confident that their political leverage will only increase the longer the shutdown lasts — a notion that some GOP leaders privately agree with.

Indeed, the specter of a lengthy shutdown could hurt Trump’s already damaged image more than it would Democrats — especially because he claimed ownership of the crisis two weeks ago. Democrats believe the shutdown battle — combined with the volatility in financial markets and special counsel Robert Mueller closing in on Trump — exacerbates the appearance of a cornered president acting out of his own political self-interest instead of the needs of the American public.