Politics

Anti-Semitic attack in Jersey City apparently fueled by black-nationalist sect's hatemongering

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 20:00

When the news first crossed the wires Tuesday about a lethal attack on a Jewish market in Jersey City, New Jersey, in which six people, including a police officer and the two gunmen, died, speculation ran rampant on social media that it might be another act of far-right terrorism inspired by anti-Semitism. After the smoke had cleared, that concern had largely been confirmed, but with a complicated twist: at least one of the perpetrators turned out to be an apparent follower of the black-nationalist Black Hebrew Israelite movement, which is indeed deeply anti-Semitic, and which has inspired an ongoing litany of violent acts over the past decade and longer.

According to The New York Times, 47-year-old David N. Anderson—who had posted anti-Semitic material on social media before the attack, and left a rambling manifesto behind in a van left at the scene full of hateful references to Jews—was connected to the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. He and 50-year-old Francine Graham, the second suspect, opened fire on customers inside the Jewish market after having first shot a Jersey City police detective near a cemetery.

The scene turned into a six-hour shootout and standoff with police, at the end of which both suspects were killed. A pipe bomb was found in the van alongside the manifesto. Police spokesmen have denied that the incident was terrorism, but local Jewish leaders are insisting that the case is a clear-cut hate crime.

Black Hebrew Israelites occupy a complicated space in the realm of right-wing extremism. Black nationalists such as these groups are largely isolated from other sectors of the far right, which are dominated by white nationalists, but still draw many of their ideas from bigoted and anti-Semitic elements of the old white-supremacist right.

This is acutely true of Black Hebrew Israelites, because they adhere to a kind of religious belief system that portrays black people as the true Children of Israel. It is remarkably similar in form and content—in many ways a kind of mirror image—to the old Christian Identity movement, which held that white people are the true Israelites, and that Jews are the literal descendants of Satan. This was the religion practiced by the Aryan Nations church in northern Idaho in the ’80s and ‘90s, which spawned a wave of horrific crimes around the West, as part of Identity’s program to create an all-white homeland in the Pacific Northwest; Black Hebrew Israelites similarly advocate for creating an all-black homeland for African Americans.

Categories: Politics

Look Ma, a Metaphor

Balloon Juice - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 19:43

America, fuck yeah:

Video footage shows the moment two women buying a rifle failed to notice a baby falling off the shop counter.

The customers can be seen admiring the gun inside a pawn shop while the infant sits on top of the glass counter beside them.

But while they are busy talking to each other, the shop assistant behind the counter leaps forward and tries to grab the baby as it slowly topples head-first towards the ground.

Luckily store manager Bill Reel noticed the child seemed “unsteady” and raced forward to catch it just before it hit the concrete floor.

The younger woman can be seen clutching her hand to her chest in shock as the father-of-four hands the baby to the other woman, believed to be the grandmother.

A little heavy-handed as far as metaphors go, but I’ll allow it.

This kid has no fucking chance they should just allow the clerk to keep it.

The post Look Ma, a Metaphor appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

WATCH LIVE: House Judiciary Committee Marks Up Articles Of Impeachment

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 19:07

The House Judiciary Committee is marking up the Articles of Impeachment against Donald Trump. Watch with us and leave your thoughts in the comments.


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Categories: Politics

Giuliani associate Parnas attempted to hide $1 million payment from Russia, allege prosecutors

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 18:59

In a should-have-been-predicted new twist, U.S. prosecutors revealed to a federal court today that Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas received a $1 million payment he received from Russia just one month before being indicted for funneling foreign cash to U.S. political campaigns—and attempted to hide that payment even after his arrest.

Arguing Parnas poses an "extreme" risk of flight that is "only compounded" by his continued willingness to lie to the government, prosecutors have asked the judge to revoke Parnas' bail and return him to jail. Parnas is currently under house arrest; government prosecutors filed their motion in response to a Parnas request that the court allow him to leave his house during work hours.

"[T]here is no set of conditions that will reasonably ensure his appearance and compliance with the terms of his release," say prosecutors. They also note that Parnas is being investigated for, and is "likely" to be charged with, additional federal crimes.

Parnas' $1 million payment came as Trump, with the assistance of Giuliani and Giuliani's team of Ukrainian associates, was attempting to extort the Ukrainian government into announcing an "investigation" of presidential rival Joe Biden based on information peddled by disgraced and known-corrupt ex-Ukrainian officials seeking their own return to power. Trump's 2016 campaign head, Paul Manafort, is currently in prison for lying to investigators after the revelation of $2.4 million in secret payments from pro-Russian Ukrainians; it's beginning to look like Giuliani's team picked up almost exactly where Manafort left off.

Categories: Politics

Artificial Intelligence & You: Automated Fake News and Trolling

Balloon Juice - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 18:52

As evidence continues to mount that we are living in a cyberpunk dystopia, I’ve decided to do a series of posts on artificial intelligence. This one is about text generation.

I’m something of an AI skeptic. While they’ve proven to be very effective in some areas, these are mostly tasks with a narrow scope and well-defined set of rules, such as playing chess and go, or determining whether something is a picture of a cat. More complex tasks like driving have proven to be a lot harder. Driving in particular has very ambiguous inputs that are highly context-dependent, two things that AIs have trouble with.

(Let’s please continue reading and not get hung up on the political and ethical roadblocks to self-driving cars.)

AIs have also historically had trouble generating text and images. Not because these are magical tasks that only humans can perform; it’s simply been difficult to make computers good at them. Well, much to my surprise, this may be coming to an end in the next few years. And I don’t mean that in the “self-driving cars are always five years away” sense.

In the last couple of years, computerized content generation has made some remarkable advances. Deepfakes–videos that believably replace one person with somebody else–are proliferating, and fairly easy to make. AIs are frighteningly good at generating faces now, too.

But what about text? Google Translate has gotten much more sophisticated lately as Alphabet has perfected the neural networks that power it. But is that more like writing, or more like playing go? I’d say it’s in between.

Which brings us to writing. Earlier this year, the nonprofit group OpenAI built a text-generation neural network that was, in their opinion, too frightening to release. I called malarkey, but now that they’ve been gradually releasing more sophisticated versions of their model, I call… less malarkey. What this means for you, and some examples, below the fold.

This neural network, called GPT-2, was trained on 40GB of internet text (which is a lot). I downloaded and set up the newest version of their model to play with it, and the results were impressive. When given a prompt, it will output its best guess of what the next word should be, over and over, until you have something approaching prose. Here are some that I generated, with the seed text in italics.

Just moments ago, a ballistic missile was launched from the Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground in North Korea.

It was tracked as it made its way to its target in Japan.

Japan’s Defense Minister announced this morning that North Korea launched a ballistic missile that flew over Japan into the Sea of Japan.

The missile’s trajectory is the same as last time North Koreans fired a ballistic missile. The North Korean missile launch happened just hours after the UN Security Council voted unanimously to impose additional sanctions on the reclusive nation because of their nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

China, North Korea’s main ally, condemned the launch and called for “urgent efforts by the international community to properly implement the resolution,” according to a statement issued from the Foreign Ministry.

The missile launch followed the US strike on Syria, which came after four of its air strikes were launched in retaliation to an alleged chemical weapons attack in the Syrian city of Khan Sheikhoun last week.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died, her family reports.She was 88.

Ginsburg suffered her latest bout of complications in early June, her brother-in-law Ron Sachdeva said Tuesday morning. She was in intensive care following her surgery to relieve the pain from her latest bout of pneumonia, Sachdeva said.

“It is with a very heavy heart and with great sorrow that we say goodbye to our beloved Ruth,” Sachdeva told CNN.

She was brought back to the hospital to begin physical therapy in late June after being “sore for quite a while.”

“The treatment included a series of lung functions over the course of several weeks,” Sachdeva said.

A physician who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity told CNN last month that she was in critical condition.

Are they perfect? No. Do they always come out this well? No. But, when they do: Are they good enough to trick people who only skim them? Good enough to rile up the gullible or already-convinced? Good enough to generate natural-sounding tweets and website comments? Good enough to run an ongoing confusion & disinformation campaign?

Unfortunately, yes. Add the fact that it’s trivial to generate an endless supply of these, and we can see the problem. It’s already creating content that’s better than some of what comes out of the Russian propaganda mills.

These models are only going to get more sophisticated as time goes on. (Indeed, this model already is more sophisticated; they just haven’t released the whole thing). Neural networks leave fingerprints all over the stuff they create, and it’s easy to detect GPT-2 text, but who’s really going to go out of their way to do so?

We aren’t in a world of endlessly-scalable automated propaganda yet… but we’re getting to the point where I can see it on the horizon.

(If you’d like to play with a smaller version of this model yourself, you can try it at this website.)

The post Artificial Intelligence & You: Automated Fake News and Trolling appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Donald Trump Jr. Sneers At Time Magazine For Choosing Greta Thunberg As Person Of The Year

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 18:08

About the reaction one would expect from a Trump to the naming of the Swedish wunderkind as Time's 'Person of the Year'.

Source: The Hill

The president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., attacked Time magazine on Wednesday over its choice of climate change activist Greta Thunberg as its 2019 "Person of the Year."

In a tweet, Trump Jr. mocked the 16-year-old activist as "a teen being used as a marketing gimmick," saying pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong deserved the honor.

Categories: Politics

After Lisa Page's Scathing Lawsuit, CNN Has A Problem: Sarah Isgur Flores

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 18:08

Last winter, CNN for weeks stood by its extraordinary and inexplicable decision to hire Sarah Isgur Flores, a career Republican Party operative with absolutely no journalism experience, to be the network’s political editor. A hardcore partisan, Isgur spent her career spinning for Republicans such as Ted Cruz, Mitt Romney, and Carly Fiorina. Until last year, Isgur worked as a spokesperson for then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Department of Justice. CNN staffers were reportedly demoralized by the Isgur move—and for good reason, since CNN political editors should be journalists, period.

If CNN wants to hire conservatives like Isgur to go on camera and bolster Trump talking points, that's the network's choice. But to hire someone with Isgur's resume to work behind the scenes and oversee campaign coverage remains a baffling decision to this day. "Her Twitter includes fact-free invectives against liberals and repeatedly rails against the ‘abortion industry,’" The Daily Beast noted at the time.

read more

Categories: Politics

Worthy Endeavors Open Thread: Senator Harris Has A New Target — Stephen Miller

Balloon Juice - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 17:54

The letter—whose signatories include Harris’s former 2020 rivals Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Cory Booker—adds to the already intense pressure on the White House to relieve Miller of his duties, though the administration has given zero indication it plans to heed those calls. Miller, who has encouraged Trump’s immigration crackdown, has never made a secret of his nationalist, anti-immigrant worldview, evidenced in his reported proposal to release detained immigrants in sanctuary cities as a form of retaliation, and his alleged push to tax Mexico. “He is working behind the scenes, he has planted all of his people in all of these positions, he is on the phone with them all of the time, and he is creating a side operation that will circumvent the normal, transparent policy process” in order to push his agenda, a source told my colleague Abigail Tracy last year, highlighting the insidious ways in which Miller pushes his priorities…

At least 75 House Democrats have also called for Miller’s removal, and the SPLC has circulated a petition pushing for him to be fired. But Republicans have mostly been silent on the matter, and the White House has stood by Miller amid the fallout. “I know Stephen,” deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told the Hill last month, attempting to frame calls for his removal as somehow anti-Semitic “He loves this country and hates bigotry in all its forms.”

That in itself is a pretty good indication that the administration has no plans to sever ties with Miller, setting up a de facto confrontation between Trump and Harris that promises to play out as long as Miller remains on staff. In leading the charge, Harris is cementing her post-campaign position as a leading Trump antagonist. Before she entered the presidential race, Harris was perhaps best known for eviscerating now Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation hearing; months later, she did the same with attorney general William Barr. She may not get the chance to cross-examine Miller in practice, but in principle she’s once again setting herself against a figurehead that stands for everything she wishes to be known for fighting against.

Excellent quick summary of the Miller Problem, from Ishaan Tharoor at the Washington Post:

Miller’s fingerprints can be detected all over Trump’s presidency. He is, after all, one of Trump’s main speechwriters. But his biggest role has been in molding the White House’s immigration policy, tacitly pushing through a sweeping series of measures — from travel bans on Muslim-majority countries to punitive actions against immigrants who receive public assistance — under Trump’s watch.

Although many advisers have come and gone during Trump’s tumultuous presidency, Miller has endured. That is, until now. Over the past week, more than 100 Democratic lawmakers and some civil society organizations have called for Miller’s resignation in response to new revelations about the depths of his ideological extremism.

A leaked cache of more than 900 emails that Miller allegedly sent to employees at the far-right website Breitbart ahead of the 2016 election appear to show his demonstrated commitment to white-nationalist political beliefs and talking points. Miller “promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a left-wing nonprofit organization that obtained the material from former Breitbart reporter Katie McHugh…

What concerns some analysts is that Miller may not be an outlier. He has spent his entire professional life working within the Republican Party, including a stint as a close aide to Jeff Sessions, Trump’s former U.S. attorney general, when he was an Alabama senator…

The post Worthy Endeavors Open Thread: Senator Harris Has A New Target — Stephen Miller appeared first on Balloon Juice.

Categories: Politics

Trump kids ordered to 'undergo mandatory training' as part of Trump Foundation scam settlement

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 17:31

The Trump family’s use of its “charities” as personal piggy banks is one of the more obvious impeachable offenses not being pursued as impeachable because we live in the “Upside Down" these days. Last year, the Trump Foundation, under investigation by New York’s attorney general, was dissolved. Last week it was reported that Donald Trump himself had paid out $2 million to charities as a part of a settlement in which the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES admitted to misusing just under $3 million in “funds raised by the Donald J. Trump Foundation to promote his presidential bid and pay off business debts.” Many of those funds were collected for veteran charities.

Part of that settlement was this piece, reported by the New York Times:

As part of the settlement, Mr. Trump’s three children who were officers of the foundation — Eric Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump — were ordered to undergo mandatory training to ensure they do not engage in similar misconduct in the future.

According to the attorney general’s office, they have completed their training. Considering that the Trump Foundation no longer exists, I guess that running a fraudulent charity will not qualify as one of the high crimes and misdemeanors that the Trump family is perennially involved in.

Categories: Politics

New Jersey cop shot, killed in cemetery before 3 civilians slain in kosher market

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 16:44

The Jersey City police officer killed in a deadly rampage was shot in the Bay View Cemetery just before two shooters turned their attention to a kosher supermarket a mile away, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal confirmed Wednesday during a press conference.

Joseph Seals, a 15-year veteran of the Jersey City Police Department and a married father of five, died in the incident, authorities said. Grewal, who stood before a line of federal and state officials, detailed the moments after the officer’s death at the news conference. He said a suspect, identified as David Anderson, left the cemetery in a white U-Haul van, accompanied by Francine Graham, the second shooter identified in the incident.

Anderson reportedly stopped and parked the van across the street from the JC Kosher Supermarket. “Within seconds of arriving,” he got out of the van with a rifle, walked toward the supermarket, and open fired, Grewal said. Graham followed Anderson into the store, where they encountered four civilians and shot them, leaving Leah Mindel Ferencz, Miguel Douglas, and Moshe Deutsch dead, Grewal said. “The survivor was able to escape the store at the beginning of the incident, and we are not providing his name at this time,” Grewal said.

Less than 20 minutes into the encounter, someone discovered Seals’ body and called 911, Grewal said. Minutes later, Jersey City officers responded to the store, engaging the shooters, and “a long protracted shootout” followed. The shootout only ended when a police armored vehicle broke through the market’s entryway and officers discovered the slain bodies inside.

Categories: Politics

Lunchtime Photo

Kevin Drum - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 15:30

This is the church at Villa de Leyva in Colombia. You may read about my travails getting to this little tourist town here and here. The church itself is not really much to look at, but I like the yellow tone of the lights against the dark blue of the sky at dusk.

August 7, 2019 — Villa de Leyva, Colombia
Categories: Politics

Trump abandons fight to shutter federal agency because his television told him to

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 15:28

One of the Trump administration's hard-right goals of drowning the government in a bathtub has taken a major hit, as The Washington Post reports that Donald Trump has abandoned his effort to shut down completely the Office of Personnel Management. The effort, which would have moved OPM operations to the General Services Administration, was never likely to be successful. It faced considerable opposition from lawmakers, who considered the plan to be, well, unhelpful at best.

The reason Team Trump has had to give up the fight, though, is both interesting and hilarious. Trump reportedly made the decision based on something he saw on his idiot box. "Trump soured on continuing the fight after seeing an obscure television program about government while he was in the residence," the Post reports, citing anonymous White House officials.

Whatever "obscure" program Trump was watching, it convinced him that he wasn't going to win that fight and that trying would "bring him poor reviews." Unindicted international extortion schemer and current acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and other conservative bonesaw-wielders tried to convince him to keep up the fight, says the Post, but were unsuccessful.

So there you go. Trump may have surrounded himself with the most hardline conservative reactionaries in Republicanism, but once again we see that even they are no match for his most trusted adviser of all: his television set.

Categories: Politics

In two minutes of questioning, Amy Klobuchar demolishes Republican spin on FBI Russia probe report

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 15:14

Sen. Amy Klobuchar showed her former-prosecutor chops in Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, in which Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz testified about his examination of the probe conducted by the FBI into Russian efforts at interference in the Trump campaign and the 2016 election. In a rapid-fire question-and-answer portion of her questioning, Klobuchar and Horowitz deflated the Republican "witch hunt" talking points.

First off, Russian interference: "Does anything in your report call into question the finding in the special counsel's report that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in a sweeping and systematic fashion?" she asked. "No, it doesn't," Horowitz answered, adding that his report cites the Mueller report and others that have all outlined that interference. The follow-up from Klobuchar: "Does anything in your report call into question Chairman Burr's statement that, quote, Russia is waging an information warfare campaign against the U.S. that didn’t start and didn’t end with the 2016 election?" His answer, "No, it doesn't."

What about the Mueller report finding that "quote, the Russian government perceived it would benefit from a Trump presidency and worked to secure that outcome?" Horowitz said, "We don't take issue with any part of the special counsel's report, no."

Then, in rapid-fire back-and-forth, she asked if he had "any evidence that political bias or other improper consideration affected the FBI's decision to open the investigation into" a series of players:

George Papadopoulos. "No, we don't."

Paul Manafort? "No, we don't."

Michael Flynn? "We did not"

Carter Page? "No documentary or testimonial evidence or other evidence."

"Did your report uncover systematic political bias at the FBI?" she asked. Horowitz responded, "As to what we looked at in the openings, we did not find documentary testimonial evidence to support a finding of bias."

So much for Attorney General William Barr's disinformation campaign. This, Democrats, is how to do it. Yes, no, unambiguous, without grandstanding.

Categories: Politics

It's not just Trump, and it's not just Devin Nunes. It's Republicans

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 15:10

It wasn’t until the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump was finishing up in the House Intelligence Committee and the committee’s report was on its way to the House Judiciary Committee that the public learned that one of the Intelligence Committee members questioning the witnesses could have himself been a witness. Republican Rep. Devin Nunes, as it turned out, was sitting on the wrong side of the table, asking questions in support of conspiracy theories of what happened in Ukraine, while he himself was deeply involved in trying to help Rudy Giuliani use Ukraine to ratf#ck the election. 

When Nunes’ phone number popped up in the report from the committee, Republicans went wild with accusations. They included Doug Collins, claiming that Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff had subpoenaed Nunes’ phone records. He hadn’t. That Democratic attorneys had checked numbers from Giuliani against a list of House Republicans. Never happened. And the very, very Nunes claim that Schiff had “spied” on his House colleagues. Which … no.

What happened in the case of Nunes’ phone was simple. House investigators on the Intelligence Committee staff subpoenaed phone records for Rudy Giuliani and for his indicted Ukraine associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. The numbers that were returned by those subpoenas were run through a reverse lookup to see who Trump’s conspiracy coordinators had been speaking with. And boom—up popped Nunes. It didn’t take any sort of surveillance or sophisticated effort to uncover the cow-suer because Republicans seem to have taken a cue from Trump when it comes to always using their personal phones for their illicit business.

But when it comes to connections to Lev Parnas, Nunes certainly isn’t alone. The subpoenas covered Parnas’ phone calls only during a brief period, so it’s not clear if anyone else who called him at another time turned up on his speed-dial list. However, Parnas has another list, one that’s already been discussed in court. As The Wall Street Journal reported back in October, donations from Parnas and Fruman went to 14 Republican candidates and groups. They included money from foreign sources that had been run through a shell company to disguise its origins from the FEC. In return for these investments, the pair of “South Florida businessmen” got access to top levels of the Trump White House and Republican functions.

Included in that list was a check cut to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, and he wasn’t alone.

Categories: Politics

Pawn shop worker saves falling infant while distracted mom shops for shotguns

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 14:46

Video from a security camera inside of the Family Pawn Shop in Hurricane, Utah, has been making the rounds for cringe-inducing reasons. The video shows two women looking at a rifle that’s resting on a glass case. They admire that rifle, as a shop person ostensibly tries to sell them the firearm. There is nothing particularly interesting about watching someone fetishize a gun. However, sitting next to the women on the glass case, with their back to the gun enthusiasts, is an infant, semi-swaddled in a camouflage blanket (or possibly jacket).

The glass case is reportedly rises 3.5 feet off the concrete flooring of the shop. The baby is sitting up in that wobbly way that infants who are newly upright sit. The three people continue to stare at the gun and flip it about while the infant slowly begins to fall over and off of the case. Luckily, the manager walking the floor of the pawn shop is actually paying attention to the only thing worth anything in the store, and is able to heroically run over and catch the child before the infant hits the floor—head first.

The manager, Bill Reel, told CBS 17 that he “just saw the baby look unsteady and I just booked it that way.” He said he was happy that the child didn’t get hurt, but the whole experience stressed him out. “I was scared to death. My heart was racing. I was pretty shaken up. I held the baby for a couple of seconds, and then gave it back to I believe, grandma.”

Being a parent is tough. Having a small child is incredibly tough, and frequently the tragic and truly awful stories one reads about parents forgetting their infant children in hot cars and the like can be very directly attributed to the profound levels of sleep deprivation that parents, and especially working parents, deal with in the modern era. But what is happening here is not that.

Categories: Politics

Trump admin to begin sending families seeking asylum to Guatemala under inhumane rule

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 14:45

Trump administration officials reportedly claimed in late October that children and families would for now not be subject to an inhumane rule forcing people seeking asylum in the United States to go to Guatemala, but two Honduran families were informed this week that they will be sent there, the Los Angeles Times reports: “One family of three from Honduras, as well as a separate Honduran parent and child, were served with notices on Tuesday that they’d soon be deported to Guatemala.”

To be clear, no one—not single adults, not families—should be subject to this plan, because even the Trump administration itself has admitted that this rule is deadly. Materials distributed to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officers in late November warned, “Violence and extortion by powerful criminal organizations remain serious problems in Guatemala. Gang-related violence is an important factor prompting people, including unaccompanied youth, to leave the country.” One leading refugee expert has furthermore condemned the rule as “internationally illegal policy, dumping refugees into a place that is not able to protect them.”

But flash forward a couple of weeks, and that’s where the administration is now sending youth and their families. The LA Times reported that “Guatemala has virtually no asylum system of its own, but the Trump administration and Guatemalan government”—mostly likely strong-armed into this agreement by the U.S.—“both said the returns would roll out slowly and selectively.” Erwin José Ardón Montoya, a 23-year-old farm worker from Honduras, became the first person to be sent there under the policy. Once in Guatemala, he opted to just return to his drought-stricken village.

But the humanitarian disaster isn’t just happening thousands of miles away. Desperate asylum-seekers who have been forced to wait out their cases in Mexico for months have sent their kids back across the border to the U.S. alone. “These tents are not good for children because the cold goes right through them,” said one dad who’s still living in a squalid camp. He watched as his two young kids held hands and crossed by themselves. “Sometimes you do things not because you're a bad father, but because you want what's good for them, and you don't want to see them suffer.”

“Delivering asylum seekers to danger in Mexico and Guatemala does not keep people seeking U.S. refugee protection safe,” tweeted Eleanor Acer of the organization Human Rights First, saying that Department of Homeland Security “officials are violating US refugee law and treaties [by] returning men, women and children to places where they face life-threatening dangers.”

Categories: Politics

Obama Is Making His List And Checking It Twice: Get Covered!

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 14:44

Get Covered, everybody! Healthcare.gov!!!

Categories: Politics

Blast From The Past: Rachel Maddow Praises C&L On Air America, 2008!

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 14:34

Hey, folks, it's John here asking you to help us to sustain Crooks and Liars throughout the impeachment inquiry, the bogus Lindsay Graham Senate Trump carnival show, and the Democratic primaries. We all hope the 2020 political calendar ends up in the defeat of Donald Trump.

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Categories: Politics

Lindsey Graham (Of All People) Destroys Trump's Russia Hoax Narrative

Crooks and Liars - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 14:26

Apparently time travel has been mastered.

Senator Lindsey Graham as he existed in 2015 made a miraculous appearance for exactly 47 seconds on this, the Eleventh Day Of December, in The Year Of Our Lord 2019.

If you don't believe me, watch this clip from this morning's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, wherein Senator Graham, Trump's most drooling and obsequious boot-licker, absolutely destroys his claims that the Russia investigation was a hoaxwitchhuntfakenews sham.

GRAHAM: How the hell did this whole thing start? What got us here today?

They opened up a counter-intelligence investigation in July. We know the Russians are messing in our election. And it was the Russians, ladies and gentlemen, who stole the Democratic National Committee's emails, Podesta's emails, and screwed around with Hillary Clinton, it wasn't the Ukrainians. It was the RUSSIANS. And they're coming after us AGAIN.

So, to be concerned that the Russians are messing with presidential campaigns was a legitimate concern. So, they looked around at the Trump campaign, and said, "Well, let's see if we can protect the Trump campaign."

Is that right? Why, yes. That is right.

Not that 2015 Senator Graham was that great, but I vastly prefer him to 2019 Leningrad Lindsey.

Categories: Politics

While Russian foreign minister visited Trump, Moscow Mitch's minions blocked election security bill

Daily Kos - Wed, 12/11/2019 - 14:15

While Donald Trump was once again hosting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Oval Office on Wednesday, with no media allowed, Senate Democrats were attempting once again to bring legislation to protect the next election from Russian interference to the Senate floor. Once again, Moscow Mitch McConnell's minions blocked it.

Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen asked for unanimous consent to pass the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines, or DETER, Act. The legislation would make sure there is a "very tough price to pay" if Russia were to interfere again, he said: "It's designed to send a very clear and simple message to Russia or any other country that is thinking about interfering in our elections and undermining our democracy that if we catch you, you will suffer a severe penalty."

Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo, on Moscow Mitch's marching orders, blocked the bill, saying, ridiculously, "I think that President Trump has probably put more sanctions on the Russians than any president in our history." By a rough count, from 2014 to January 2017, the Obama administration leveled new or extended existing sanctions against Russia a little over two dozen times. Trump has done so 8 times. And, with the help of Moscow Mitch, he has lifted them against some of those sanctioned at the end of Obama's final term for election interference. Which in part allowed McConnell's home state of Kentucky to land that $200 million investment from Russia for a new aluminum mill.

Speaking of Russian interference, Lavrov thanked Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for opening their doors to him this week by saying, "We have highlighted once again that all speculation about our alleged interference in domestic processes in the US are baseless. There are no facts that would support that […] no one has given us this proof because it simply does not exist." So he's in good standing with Senate Republicans, whose new thing is to pretend that the entire intelligence community in the U.S. is full of it. Lavrov also said of his meeting with Pompeo, "We haven't even discussed elections." Pompeo, however, insists Lavrov was warned about future interference. Clearly it made a big impression on him.

Moscow Mitch and his minions are making sure Lavrov and Putin have nothing to fear from interfering again in 2020. They're practically inviting them to do it.

We have to end this logjam. Please give $1 to our nominee fund to help Democrats and end McConnell's career as Senate majority leader.

Categories: Politics

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