Interestingly, John Robert and Brett Kavanaugh voted not to hear this case
2018 will be remembered in part for this sad trend
U.S. does everything it can to promote ignorance on climate
The United States joined a controversial proposal by Saudi Arabia and Russia this weekend to weaken a reference to a key report on the severity of global warming, sharpening battle lines at the global climate summit in Poland aimed at gaining consensus over how to combat rising temperatures.
Arguments erupted Saturday night before a United Nations working group focused on science and technology, where the United States teamed with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to challenge language that would have welcomed the findings of the landmark report, which said that the world has barely 10 years to cut carbon emissions by nearly half to avoid catastrophic warming.
This is a pretty good question
British PM cancels key vote on Brexit; nobody knows what comes next
Theresa May’s Brexit deal descended into farce on Monday morning after the prime minister cancelled tomorrow’s crunch vote just minutes after Downing Street insisted it would go ahead.
In an emergency conference call with her cabinet, May told ministers that the meaningful vote on the UK’s withdrawal deal planned for Tuesday would not be going ahead.
The announcement came amid frenzied scenes at Westminster, where just minutes earlier the PM’s spokesperson had insisted to journalists that it would be taking place.
May’s decision to pull the vote was taken after government whips concluded they were likely to be defeated my a three-figure margin. This morning John Lamont became the 113th Tory MP to indicate they cannot support the deal.
Tantalizing news for those who want a second referendum
These are the current candidates to succeed John Kelly as White House chief of staff. At the rate things are going, half of them will have declined the job by noon
As the president hastily restarted the search process, speculation focused on a group that was led by Representative Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican who is the hard-edge chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, but also included the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin; Mr. Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney; and the United States trade representative, Robert Lighthizer.
Former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, who as a onetime United States attorney could help Mr. Trump in an impeachment fight, was also being mentioned. And some Trump allies were pushing for David N. Bossie, the deputy campaign manager in 2016.
The Southeast will spend the week recovering from a nasty winter storm
A powerful winter storm that struck the U.S. Southeast over the weekend killed at least one motorist, left more than 310,000 customers without power and forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights on Sunday.
A winter storm warning remained in effect for most of North Carolina, Virginia and southern West Virginia as at least an additional 2 inches (5 cm) of snow and sleet were expected to fall overnight and into Monday after more than a foot (30 cm) of snow fell over the weekend.
The rich get richer
U.S. President Donald Trump has backed plans to request $750 billion from Congress for defense spending next year, a U.S. official said on Sunday, signaling a Pentagon spending hike at a time of potential belt-tightening elsewhere in the government.
Trump, faced with a budget deficit at a six-year high, told his Cabinet earlier this year to come up with proposals to cut spending by their agencies by 5 percent, but he suggested the military would be largely spared.
The $750 billion would be even more than the $733 billion request that the Pentagon had been expected to make for fiscal year 2020. It is also well above a $700 billion figure Trump cited in October.
Suddenly, Jerome Corsi is worried about his reputation
An author and conspiracy theorist who says he’s being threatened with indictment by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in the Trump-Russia probe filed a federal lawsuit Sunday night accusing Mueller of constitutional violations and leaking grand jury secrets. …
Corsi is demanding $100 million in actual damages and $250 million in punitive damages for injury to his reputation.
Your next chief law enforcement officer
William Barr, Donald Trump’s nominee for attorney general, is widely regarded as a respected, experienced moderate likely to win support from Democrats and Republicans alike.
But in a 1995 essay, Barr expressed an extreme view that that American government should not be secular, but instead should impose “a transcendent moral order with objective standards of right and wrong that… flows from God’s eternal law.”
Barr went on to blame everything from crime to sexually transmitted diseases on a government-led attack on “traditional values.” He explicitly called for the government to subsidize Catholic religious education and to promote laws which “restrain sexual immorality,” a reference to homosexuality and non-marital sex.
A disturbing pattern of attacks of against Jehovah’s Witnesses in Washington state
A fire last week at a Jehovah’s Witnesses’ house of worship in Washington state was arson – the fifth attack targeting the religious group this year, federal officials said Sunday.
The blaze early Friday destroyed a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Lacey, a suburb of Olympia, according to Jason Chudy, a spokesperson for the Seattle Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. No one was injured in Friday’s blaze and no arrests have been made.
Three other Kingdom Halls in Thurston County were torched, and a fourth Kingdom Hall was hit by gunfire, according to the ATF.
What’s Jared Kushner up to?
Rand Paul does a familiar dance, expressing doubts about a Trump nominee before his inevitable vote to confirm
I’m concerned that [Attorney General nominee William Barr has] been a big supporter of the Patriot Act, which lowered the standard for spying on Americans, and he even went so far as to say the Patriot Act was pretty good — we should go much further. I’m disturbed that he’s been a big fan of taking people’s property, civil asset forfeiture, without a conviction. …
I haven’t made a decision yet on him, but I can tell you the first things that I’ve learned about him being for more surveillance of Americans is very, very troubling.
The U.S. and Russia are making trouble at the UN climate change conference in Poland
The US and Russia have thrown climate talks into disarray by allying with Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to water down approval of a landmark report on the need to keep global warming below 1.5C.
After a heated two-and-a-half-hour debate on Saturday night, the backwards step by the four major oil producers shocked delegates at the UN climate conference in Katowice as ministers flew in for the final week of high-level discussions.
It has also raised fears among scientists that the US president, Donald Trump, is going from passively withdrawing from climate talks to actively undermining them alongside a coalition of climate deniers.
A master class in change mismanagement
Change is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s chaotic under the best of circumstances. And with the shadow of the Mueller probe hanging over each and every personnel decision, President Trump’s approach to these changes is a lesson in how not to pick, choose, and fire members of a team if you want it to be cohesive going forward.
Handling even one transition at a time takes a lot of work. While coming up with a list of potential replacements, vetting them, figuring out how they would play with various constituencies, and then managing the actual announcement itself, the primary focus is often on avoiding any blackout period during which important work and institutional knowledge could fall through the cracks. Any public image of disorganization or lack of continuity signals that we’re disorganized and vulnerable—it’s a prime time for opportunists of all shades and colors (including our enemies) to try to take advantage of dropped balls to make headway against us.
Transitions can be vulnerability goldmines if not handled with care. If there isn’t the necessary process in place, the institutional knowledge on a key terrorist threat or the state of play on covert outreach to a rogue regime official could be gone with the wind, handicapping policy and making each of us less safe.
By popular demand
No crisis left un-meddled for the Kremlin’s trolls
According to the Alliance for Securing Democracy, about 600 Twitter accounts known to promote Kremlin views have begun focusing on France, boosting their use of the hashtag #giletsjaunes, the French name for the Yellow Vest movement. French security services are looking at the situation, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Sunday in a radio interview with RTL.
Russia has been criticized for using social media to influence elections in the U.S. and elsewhere. Attempts to use fake news reports and cyberattacks to undercut the 2017 campaign of French President Emmanuel Macron failed, but Russian-linked sites have pushed questionable reports of a mutiny among police, and of officers’ support for the protests. …
The Twitter accounts monitored by the alliance usually feature U.S. or British news. But the French protests “have been at or near the top” of their activity for at least a week, according to Bret Schafer, the alliance’s Washington-based social media analyst. “That’s a pretty strong indication that there is interest in amplifying the conflict” for audiences outside France.
A cold, hard look at the tenure of John Kelly, “Trump’s nasty and brutish mini-me”
How else are we supposed to describe his gaffe-laden, controversy-filled 17 months in charge? This was a chief of staff who told Fox News that “the lack of the ability to compromise led to the Civil War,” while praising the pro-slavery Confederate general Robert E. Lee as an “honorable man”; who protected and promoted White House staff secretary Rob Porter — a man accused of domestic abuse by both of his ex-wives — and described him as a man of “true integrity and honor, and I can’t say enough good things about him”; who repeatedly misled the press about what he knew about Porter and when he knew it, which led to one of his White House colleagues calling him a “big fat liar”; who claimed the “vast majority” of undocumented immigrants “don’t integrate well” and “don’t have skills”; who described immigrants who were eligible for DACA but had failed to apply for it as “too lazy to get off their asses”; who said he wanted to reduce the number of refugees admitted into the United States to “between zero and one”; who defended the separation of migrant children from their parents on the grounds that the kids would be “put into foster care or whatever” and bragged that the “big name of the game is deterrence”; who signed a “Cabinet order” authorizing the (potentially illegal) use of lethal force by troops at the border; who lamented that women were no longer treated as “sacred and looked upon with great honor” but who was also accused of suggesting women were more emotional than men; who breached security protocols by firing White House aide Omarosa Manigault in the Situation Room and threatening her in the process; who boasted to Manigault on a secret recording that everyone in the White House “works for me and not the president”; who made a series of false accusations against black member of Congress, Frederica Wilson, and then swore he would “never apologize” for lying about her; and who shamelessly allowed Trump to use his dead son to attack former President Barack Obama.
[L]et’s be clear: Kelly was never a “great guy”; never the “adult in the room.” He was a bully, a bigot and a liar; as racist and reactionary as his soon-to-be former boss. He was an enabler of Trump’s worst crimes and abuses — from the “unconstitutional” appointment of his crony Matthew Whitaker as acting attorney general, to the abduction of children at the U.S.-Mexico border, to the fake furor over the migrant “caravan.”
The truth is that this once-distinguished military man should never have been appointed to the top political job in the White House — and deserves to have been fired from it long ago.
From the partially leaked transcription of the audio recording of Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination by Saudi agents
“I can’t breathe,” Khashoggi says.
“I can’t breathe.”
“I can’t breathe.” …
As the transcript continues, it is clear Khashoggi is not yet dead. The transcript notes the noises that can be heard on the tape, almost in the manner that subtitles describe moments in movies where there is no dialogue.
Then, the transcript notes other descriptions.
More possible candidates to take over managing Trump’s White House (in about three weeks)
Trump Organization executives beware
What the [federal] prosecutors did not say in Mr. Cohen’s sentencing memorandum filed on Friday [is] that they have continued to scrutinize what other executives in the president’s family business may have known about those crimes, which involved hush-money payments to two women who had said they had affairs with Mr. Trump. …
Neither the chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, nor any other executives at the Trump Organization have been accused of wrongdoing and there is no indication that anyone at the company will face charges in connection with the inquiry.
But in recent weeks, the prosecutors contacted the company to renew a request they had made earlier this year for documents and other materials, according to the people. The precise nature of the materials sought was unclear, but the renewed request is further indication that prosecutors continue to focus on the president’s company[.]