July 2, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 8:33 PM


Italy court lifts house arrest on German captain, says she was protecting life (SBS, 7/02/19)

An Italian judge ruled on Tuesday that the German captain of a migrant charity ship had not broken the law when she forced a naval blockade at the weekend, saying she had carried out her duty to protect life.

Carola Rackete, a 31-year-old German national, disobeyed Italian military orders and entered the port of Lampedusa on Saturday, hitting a police patrol boat as she brought some 41 African migrants to land in the Sea-Watch rescue vessel.

She was immediately detained and placed under house arrest, but in a blow for Italy's hardline interior minister, Matteo Salvini, Judge Alessandra Vella ruled that Rackete had been carrying out her duty and had not committed any act of violence.

Posted by orrinj at 8:13 PM


Pence's office tight-lipped after VP abruptly cancels New Hampshire trip to return to White House (Alex Pappas, 7/02/19, Fox News)

Vice President Pence's abrupt decision Tuesday to abandon plans to fly to New Hampshire for an opioid event -- and instead return to the White House -- has prompted confusion and conflicting statements from members of his team, as administration officials refused to divulge the reason for the last-minute change.

Say this for the VP, there's no level of humiliation he won't accept.

Posted by orrinj at 6:07 PM


Overcrowding caused 'ticking time bomb' at Border Patrol stations: Watchdog (QUINN OWEN Jul 2, 2019, ABC News)

U.S. Border Patrol agents packed migrants into overcrowded patrol stations near the Rio Grande Valley, creating conditions so poor that one facility manager called it a "ticking time bomb," according to a new government watchdog report made public on Tuesday.

In one example, Homeland Security Department inspector general investigators allege that many of the detainees were held in standing-room only conditions for a week and hadn't showered in a month.

This latest finding by the independent investigators alleges that most of the children held at children-only shelters didn't have access to showers and were not given a change of clothes.

Eighty-eight adult males held in a cell with a maximum capacity of 41, some signaling prolonged detention to OIG Staff, observed by the Office of Inspector General, June 12, 2019, at Border Patrol's Fort Brown Station.more +
The report states that 50 migrant children under the age of seven traveling without their parents were being held in custody at the facilities - some waiting more than two weeks before finally being transferred to a longer term shelter.

The government has wound up with thousands of these children it calls "unaccompanied alien minors" because it does not allow extended relatives such as aunts, uncles and grandparents to accompany children across the border. In the month of May alone, the government counted 11,000 "UACs" at the border.

The watchdog office inspected five facilities in the Rio Grande Valley. Children at three of the facilities did not have access to showers and some kids were not provided hot meals, a requirement outlined by government detention standards.

Leading a country 'means killing people': Tucker Carlson defends Trump friendship with Kim Jong Un (William Cummings, 6/30/19, USA TODAY)

Carlson said there "is no defending the North Korean regime," which he described as "monstrous and "the last really Stanilist regime in the world." 

"On the other hand, you've got to be honest about what it means to lead a country. It means killing people," Carlson continued. [...]

Carlson said that while he "is not a relativist or anything" it is the "nature and life, and certainly the nature of power" to have to choose between "the bad people and the worse people." 

"I do think that's how the president sees it," Carlson said. "He's far less sentimental about this stuff." 

Trump Laughs at Supporter's Proposal to Shoot Immigrants (Justin Baragona,  05.09.19, Daily Beast)

President Trump chuckled and joked when a supporter at his Florida rally suggested shooting immigrants as a way to decrease migrant crossings at the southern U.S. border on Wednesday night.

Posted by orrinj at 6:04 PM


Posted by orrinj at 2:46 PM


Posted by orrinj at 2:16 PM


France says it did not mean to embarrass Ivanka Trump with mortifying G-20 video (The Week, 7/02/19)

A short video released by France's presidential palace of Ivanka Trump awkwardly interacting with world leaders at the G-20 summit had a certain je ne sais quoi that made it go viral over the weekend, and France insists it had no intention of humiliating the U.S. president's daughter. "We didn't anticipate the reaction, and once again, we are not responsible for the use made of the clip," an official with the Élysée said in a statement.

The video, in which IMF chief Christine Lagarde appears mystified at Trump's interjection to a comment by British Prime Minister Theresa May, encapsulated for many the high profile, enigmatic, and arguably inappropriate role Trump played during President Trump's trip to the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, and to South and North Korea. There were substantive critiques about nepotism and the dangers of diplomatic amateurism, and there was some snark, as in the #UnwantedIvanka photos on Twitter in which Ivanka Trump is photoshopped into all sorts of famous events, real and fictional.

Posted by orrinj at 2:11 PM


Critics deplore this migrant shelter. Its operator just got a huge, hush-hush no-bid deal.  (MONIQUE O. MADAN, MAY 01, 2019, Miami Herald)

The Homestead shelter for unaccompanied migrant children has been shrouded in secrecy and cloaked in controversy from the moment it was reactivated in February 2018. Lawmakers scornful of President Trump's immigration policies have been blocked from visiting. Because it sits on federal land, Florida's child welfare agency is barred from investigating allegations of abuse.

Rather than close it, as activists have demanded, the feds just gave the operator, Comprehensive Health Services, a brand new contract -- one worth $341 million.

There was no competitive bidding and it happened under the radar.

By the time the contract -- the latest in a series of short-term deals -- runs out in November, CHS will have earned more than half a billion dollars for housing migrant children, a figure that inflames critics while advocates say it is justified by an out-of-control influx on the southern border. The dollar total could rise still higher since the payment escalates if the number of youths increases, as is expected.

The cost per youth, as of last month, amounts to $775 per day, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Posted by orrinj at 1:56 PM


Mike Pompeo used security detail to run errands - report (Times of Israel, 7/02/19)

In the latest scandal to rock the Trump administration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is being scrutinized by a congressional committee for allegedly using his government security detail to run personal errands, including picking up his dog and fetching Chinese food.

According to CNN, a whistleblower has been feeding the unnamed committee information about America's top diplomat for months, describing a pattern of alleged misbehavior seemingly at odds with President Donald Trump's election promise to "drain the swamp."

Posted by orrinj at 12:27 PM


Some army cadets listen to rabbis over military commanders, former Israeli defense minister says (JTA, 7/02/19) 

Religious pre-military academies are creating "private militias" that listen to their rabbis over their military commanders, Avigdor Liberman charged.

Posted by orrinj at 12:01 AM


AOC screamed at Border Patrol agents in 'threatening manner' during tour: Witnesses (Anna Giaritelli, July 01, 2019, Washington Examiner)

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., screamed at federal law enforcement agents "in a threatening manner" during a visit to a Border Patrol facility in El Paso, Texas, and refused to tour the facility, according to two people who witnessed the incident.

A group of 14 House Democrats, including Ocasio-Cortez, and their aides kicked off their visit to the region at about 11 a.m. MST Monday at the El Paso Station on Hondo Pass Drive.

The group was standing inside the station near an area where migrants are held when Ocasio-Cortez left them to sit inside a nearby holding area with a family as the other lawmakers and aides were briefed on station operations.

"She comes out screaming at our agents, right at the beginning [of the tour] ... Crying and screaming and yelling," said one witness who said he was stunned by the outburst in front of approximately 40 people.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


An Open Letter to the Director of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (Omer Bartov, Doris Bergen, Andrea Orzoff, Timothy Snyder, and Anika Walke, et al., 7/01/19, NYRB)

To Director Bloomfield: 

We are scholars who strongly support the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Many of us write on the Holocaust and genocide; we have researched in the USHMM's library and archives or served as fellows or associated scholars; we have been grateful for the Museum's support and intellectual community. Many of us teach the Holocaust at our universities, and have drawn on the Museum's online resources. We support the Museum's programs from workshops to education. 

We are deeply concerned about the Museum's recent "Statement Regarding the Museum's Position on Holocaust Analogies." We write this public letter to urge its retraction.

Scholars in the humanities and social sciences rely on careful and responsible analysis, contextualization, comparison, and argumentation to answer questions about the past and the present. By "unequivocally rejecting efforts to create analogies between the Holocaust and other events, whether historical or contemporary," the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is taking a radical position that is far removed from mainstream scholarship on the Holocaust and genocide. And it makes learning from the past almost impossible.

The Museum's decision to completely reject drawing any possible analogies to the Holocaust, or to the events leading up to it, is fundamentally ahistorical. It has the potential to inflict severe damage on the Museum's ability to continue its role as a credible, leading global institution dedicated to Holocaust memory, Holocaust education, and research in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies. The very core of Holocaust education is to alert the public to dangerous developments that facilitate human rights violations and pain and suffering; pointing to similarities across time and space is essential for this task.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trump fumes about Cuomo, New York A.G. over state investigations (Allan Smith, 7/01/19, NBC News)

Late last year Trump's charitable foundation agreed to dissolve and give away its assets to other nonprofit organizations as a result of the New York attorney general probe, which began under Eric Schneiderman. At the time, Schneiderman's successor as attorney general, Barbara Underwood, said the nonprofit had exhibited a "shocking pattern" of illegality.

That deal did not stop the civil lawsuit Underwood filed against the foundation last year from proceeding. The New York attorney general's office continued to seek nearly $3 million in restitution and additional fines as part of the suit, as well as a ban on Trump's leading a New York nonprofit for the next decade and placing one-year bans on the charity's other board members, which include the president's adult children.

Trump has repeatedly clashed with Schneiderman through the years and later publicly criticized Underwood and James, claiming their investigations were politically motivated. The office has led significant investigations into not only his charity, but also into Trump University, the president's defunct real estate education venture.

Shortly after her election in November, James, a Democrat, vowed to "use every area of the law" to probe Trump, his family and associates, and his business. The office of attorney general has sweeping investigatory and prosecutorial powers to do just that.

Earlier this year, James subpoenaed Trump's banks, seeking information about the Trump Organization and the president's finances. Trump dismissed those efforts as "presidential harassment" and tweeted that James "openly campaigned on a GET TRUMP agenda."

James opened that probe, a civil inquiry, after Michael Cohen, the president's former attorney, testified to Congress in February that Trump inflated the worth of his assets in financial statements that he provided to banks to secure loans.

Tough having an investigation you can't obstruct.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Hanover overhauls parking with new rates, fines and mobile app (ROHAN CHAKRAVARTY, 6/30/19, Valley News)

HANOVER -- New parking rates -- and fines -- go into effect on Monday as the town of Hanover tries to do more to encourage commuters to park in lots on the outskirts of downtown, freeing up more spaces for shoppers and other short-term visitors.

Hanover has also installed technology that lets motorists use a smartphone app to pay for a meter or extend time, within legal limits of the spot, and which promises down the road to help pinpoint open spaces.

Among the fee changes:

■On-street metered rates are in some cases doubling, so 40 minutes at a meter that used to cost 50 cents is now $1.

■Parking at 10-hour lots downtown will now cost $5 a day -- or 50 cents an hour -- up from 35 cents hourly, or $3.50 per day.

■Daily parking rates for the town parking garage, which is frequently full, are rising from $15 to $20. But monthly fees for a space in a peripheral lot remain at $35.

Meanwhile, some parking fines are also rising by $5, to $15 for an expired meter and to $25 for overtime meter feeding.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Majority Backs 'Medicare for All' Replacing Private Plans, if Preferred Providers Stay (YUSRA MURAD, July 2, 2019 , Morning Consult)

55% of voters back a Medicare for All system that diminishes the role of private insurers if they retain access to their preferred providers.

Independents are 14 points more likely to back the system when told losing their private plan would not mean losing their doctor (42% to 56%).

It's hilarious that the GOP thinks it can win by running against health care.
Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM



When Richard Yim moved to Canada at age 13, he was in for a rude shock. Children of all ages were running around freely and wildly, and none of them seemed to fear losing a limb or their life. "It was something so simple, the freedom to walk around," he says. That freedom did not quite exist back in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Yim, now 25, wasn't a prisoner, but he and millions of others in his homeland were held captive by land mines and other explosives buried under the ground. These are remnants of violent conflicts that began during World War II and continued during the French Indochina War, the Vietnam War, the Khmer Rouge regime and the K5 Plan to seal off the Cambodia-Thailand border.

Cambodia is by no means the only country that is riddled with mines -- the problem extends from World War II leftovers in Germany to ongoing strife in Yemen -- but the Southeast Asian nation is among the most highly affected. According to the HALO Trust, an organization in the U.K. that trains deminers and has been operating in Cambodia for decades, 64,000 casualties have been reported since 1979. Children are under constant watch, Yim says, always sticking to the same routes to and from school. Around 50 percent of the country's mines have reportedly been cleared, which still leaves behind a huge number considering that one estimate pegged the total at 10 million mines.

Human-led demining is painstaking and dangerous. The solution? Meet Jevit.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Iraq sets up 'loophole' to buy Iranian power despite US sanctions (MAYA GEBEILY, 7/01/19, AFP) 

Iraq is establishing a financial "loophole" to continue buying vital gas and electricity from Iran despite US sanctions, AFP has learned, mirroring a European mechanism that came into effect Friday.

The "special purpose vehicle" (SPV) would allow Iraq to pay for imported Iranian energy in Iraqi dinars, which Iran could use exclusively to buy humanitarian goods, three senior Iraqi officials said.