Archive | May, 2018

The Chilling Effect of Trump’s War on the FBI

By Natasha Bertrand

President Trump spent his early Wednesday morning, as he does many mornings, on Twitter. This time, he chose to weigh in on the “Criminal Deep State” and the claims that it embedded a spy in his presidential campaign as part of the federal investigation into Russia’s election interference.

“They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before!” he wrote.

Much has been written in recent days about Trump’s “new” strategy to discredit the Russia investigation. The president has been attacking both the investigators in the Russia probe and the news organizations that cover the investigation, all in an attempt to persuade the public that the probe has been tainted by bias from the start. The frequency of these attacks may be climbing, but Trump’s tactics have actually remained remarkably consistent—beginning before he even took office. “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public,” Trump tweeted on January 11, 2017, referring to a dossier published by BuzzFeed that alleged collusion between his campaign team and Russia. “One last shot at me,” he added. “Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

The rhetoric, while normal from this president, is norm-shattering. More puzzling, however, is the extent to which Trump has instigated a Republican-led war on intelligence agencies.

Republicans, touting themselves as the party of law and order, have long aligned themselves with the law-enforcement and intelligence communities. Just before the presidential election, Trump’s newest lawyer and spokesman Rudy Giuliani defended the FBI against criticism about the agency’s handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. FBI agents “don’t look at it politically,” he said at the time. He frequently touted his …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



New Challenges for the Disputed Atlantic Coast Pipeline

(Photo: Edward Alexander; Edited: LW / TO)

The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would carry fracked gas 600 miles from West Virginia to North Carolina and possibly points farther south, has been hit with setbacks in recent weeks that raise questions about its future. The pipeline also poses threats to several at-risk species as well as vulnerable communities in the South.

(Photo: Edward Alexander; Edited: LW / TO)

The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which would carry fracked gas 600 miles from West Virginia to North Carolina and possibly points farther south, has been hit with setbacks in recent weeks that raise questions about its future. Dominion Resources of Virginia, the pipeline’s operator, holds a 48 percent stake in the pipeline, while North Carolina-based Duke Energy holds 47 percent and Georgia’s Southern Company 5 percent. Dominion’s and Duke’s ratepayers would foot most of the bill for the $6.5 billion project.

The most immediately consequential setback was last week’s federal court order voiding a key permit. On May 15, a three-judge panel of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals found that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) had failed to set clear limits for the pipeline’s impact on threatened and endangered species. The order came in a case brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, and Virginia Wilderness Committee, one of four pending suits brought by the SELC related to permits for the pipeline.

“Like other agencies, the Fish and Wildlife Service rushed this pipeline approval through under intense political pressure to meet developers’ timelines,” said D.J. Gerken, managing attorney in SELC’s office in Asheville, North Carolina. “It’s foolish and shortsighted to risk losing rare species for an unnecessary and …read more

Via:: Truthout



US Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel

On May 14, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin smiled for pictures in front of the new US embassy in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Big day for Israel,” Donald Trump tweeted. “Congratulations!”

Meanwhile, just miles away in Gaza, Yazan Ibraheem Mohammed Al-Tubassi lay dying after repeatedly being shot by Israeli troops during protests at the Gaza border fence. Elsewhere, relatives of Taher Ahmed Madi — another shooting victim — carried his body home from the hospital to prepare for his funeral.

No words can describe the anger and anguish I feel as a Palestinian in America watching this unfold.

Along the Gaza fence, Israeli troops have gunned down thousands of unarmed Palestinian protesters, killing 60 and injuring over 2,700 in a matter of days. Many were teenagers, women, and children.

The protests weren’t about the relocation of the US embassy. They began several weeks ago to mark the anniversary of the Nakba, or “catastrophe” — the mass exodus and ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians since Israel’s founding in 1948.

Every year, while Israelis celebrate the establishment of their state, millions of Palestinians mourn the end to their existence as they knew it.

For the Trump administration to choose this day for the relocation of the embassy while Palestinians were being murdered just 60 miles away is horrendously cruel. The United States has proven that it isn’t only indifferent toward Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, but has actively green lit the violence of the past few weeks.

In 1948, my grandparents, …read more

Via:: Truthout



Economic Update: An Unsustainable System

This week’s episode discusses the decline of cities and private cities; the freelancers’ economy; legalization of sports betting; how Fiat, Chrysler and Porsche are added to emissions cheating scandal; the new federal jobs guarantee; and how Catholic University attacks tenure. Also included is an interview with Chris Hedges on the unsustainable US system.

To see more stories like this, visit Economic Update: Your Weekly Dose of Revolutionary Economics

To listen in live on Saturdays at noon, visit WBAI’s Live Stream

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Visit Professor Wolff’s social movement project,

Permission to reprint Professor Wolff’s writing and videos is granted on an individual basis. Please contact to request permission. We reserve the right …read more

Via:: Truthout



Seventy Years After Korea's Division, Women Lead Push for Peace

South Korean and women representing more than 16 other countries gathered this week in Seoul for the #WomenPeaceKorea symposium and Women's DMZ walk. (Photo: Jeehyun Kwon)

South Korean and women representing more than 16 other countries gathered this week in Seoul for the #WomenPeaceKorea symposium and Women’s DMZ walk. (Photo: Jeehyun Kwon)

In light of the US-North Korea scheduled summit being cancelled by President Trump, the May 26 women’s peace walk along the Korean Demilitarized Zone emphasizes the vital role women continue to play in easing tensions between North and South Korea. It’s the fourth such gathering since 2015, organized by Korean women and their international allies to call for Korean reunification and an end to militarization of the peninsula.

South Korean and women representing more than 16 other countries gathered this week in Seoul for the #WomenPeaceKorea symposium and Women's DMZ walk. (Photo: Jeehyun Kwon)South Korean and women representing more than 16 other countries gathered this week in Seoul for the #WomenPeaceKorea symposium and Women’s DMZ walk. (Photo: Jeehyun Kwon)

When scores of Korean women representing a coalition of some 30 peace groups and NGOs entered South Korea’s National Assembly on the banks of Seoul’s Han River, they weren’t alone. This week, the Korean peace makers were joined by an international delegation of women peace activists for a symposium focused on ending the Korean War. A women’s peace walk along the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) is scheduled for May 26.

When women participate in negotiations, the likelihood of achieving peace increases substantially and that peace lasts longer.

For the fourth time …read more

Via:: Truthout



Republicans Are Close to Forcing House Votes on DACA

By Russell Berman

A group of renegade House Republicans is just five signatures away from forcing votes on legislation that would grant permanent legal status to undocumented immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children.

The effort gained steam on Thursday even as Speaker Paul Ryan, President Trump, and House conservatives intensified their attempt to quell the moderate rebellion and set up immigration votes on their terms. By Thursday afternoon, the discharge petition that rank-and-file Republicans have been circulating to bypass the party leadership had secured 213 signatures of the 218 needed to achieve a majority. Two more moderate Republicans, Representatives Tom Reed of New York and Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, signed the document on Thursday, as did the top two House Democrats: Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Whip Steny Hoyer.

If successful, the discharge petition would set up a floor debate and votes on four competing bills to address the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama-era initiative that Trump has sought to end. Congress missed a Trump-imposed March deadline to codify the program after the Senate failed to pass any of the related bills it considered earlier this year. The immediate fate of DACA now rests on a final ruling by the federal courts, while the House has taken no action on the program at all.

Ryan has fought the discharge petition by arguing that it would be a waste of time to hold votes on legislation that Trump would veto. The president backed up the speaker’s position on Thursday by telling Fox News that any DACA bill must include the “whole package” he’s demanded—a “real” border wall, plus changes that restrict the flow of legal immigration. Ryan is facing a related uprising from House conservatives who want a vote only on …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Dear Jong Un Letter

By Elaine Godfrey

-Written by Elaine Godfrey (@elainejgodfrey)

Today in 5 Lines

  • President Trump canceled his June 12 meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, writing in a letter that Kim “has lost a great opportunity for lasting peace and great prosperity and wealth.” Later in the day, Trump told reporters that the U.S. military is “ready if necessary” if North Korea takes “foolish or reckless” action.

  • Several congressional leaders attended classified briefings with Justice Department officials on the FBI’s use of an informant in the Russia investigation.

  • Roger Stone, a former Trump campaign adviser, reportedly sought information on Hillary Clinton from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in September 2016.

  • Trump signed legislation easing restrictions on all but the largest banks, the biggest rollback of regulations since the global financial crisis.

  • The president also posthumously pardoned Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion who was convicted in 1913 of transporting a white woman across state lines “for immoral purposes.”

Today on The Atlantic

  • A Very Trumpy Letter: The president’s dramatic letter cancelling his meeting with Kim Jong Un is classic Trump—and “matches the soap-operatic series of events that preceded it.” (David A. Graham)

  • Unanswered: David Frum lays out 15 open questions about matters “potentially involving criminal law swirling around the president, his campaign, his company, and his family.”

  • Throwback Thursday: The Stormy Daniels-Donald Trump controversy is reminiscent of another era, writes Rosie Gray—and that includes the part Daniels’s lawyer, Michael Avenatti, is playing in the scandal.

  • ‘The War on Stupid People’: Americans have come to value intelligence as the ultimate indicator of human worth. That has to stop, argues David H. Freedman.


President Trump awards the Medal of Honor to Retired Navy Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Britt Slabinski for “conspicuous gallantry” in the East Room of the …read more

Via:: <a href= class="colorbox" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Dear Jong Un Letter” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic



Trump’s Reckoning Arrives

By David Frum

“Gradually and then suddenly.” That was how one of Ernest Hemingway’s characters described the process of going bankrupt. The phrase applies vividly to the accumulating failures of President Trump’s foreign-policy initiatives.

Donald Trump entered office with more scope for initiative in foreign policy than any of his recent predecessors.

In his campaign for president, Trump had disparaged almost every element of the past 70 years of U.S. global leadership: NATO, free trade, European integration, support for democracy, the Iraq War, the Iran deal, suspicion of Russia, outreach to China. Trump’s election jolted almost every government into a frantic effort to understand what to expect. Other countries’ uncertainty enhanced Trump’s relative power—and so, perversely, did Trump’s policy ignorance and obnoxious behavior. After eight years under the accommodating Barack Obama, the United States suddenly turned a menacing face to the world. In the short run, that menace frightened other states into attempted appeasement of this unpredictable new president.

Trump also enjoyed greater material scope: a growing economy, federal finances that were less of a mess than usual, and a lower pace of combat operations than at any time since 9/11.

Through his first months in office, Trump threw his power about as if it were an infinite resource. He growled threats, issued commands, picked quarrels, and played favorites.

And then consequences began to arrive.

When a president speaks, others hear. When he acts, he sets in motion a chain of reactions. When he selects one option, he precludes others.

This is why presidents are surrounded by elaborate staff systems to help them—and oblige them—to think through their words and actions.  

If we impose tariffs on Chinese products, how might they retaliate? What’s our next move after that?

If we want to pressure Iran more tightly than our predecessors, what buy-in will we need from other countries? What will …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Trump’s Very Trumpian Letter to Kim Jong Un

By David A. Graham

Donald Trump’s approach to North Korea has always been an intensely personal one—the president contended that his sheer force of will and negotiating prowess would win the day, and rather than use intermediaries, he planned for a face-to-face meeting, with himself and Kim Jong Un on either side of a table.

So Trump’s notice on Thursday that he was canceling the June 12 summit in Singapore was fitting. It arrived in the form of a letter that appears to have been written by the president himself. The missive features a Trumpian mix of non sequiturs, braggadocio, insults, flattery, and half-truths. Whether the dramatic letter marks the end of the current process or is simply a negotiating feint, it matches the soap-operatic series of events that proceeded it. Either way, it displays the ongoing conflict between Trump’s desire for pageantry and credit and his longstanding dictum that one must be willing to walk away from the negotiating table.

The U.S. had previously downplayed North Korean threats to cancel the summit, but a statement issued Thursday in Pyongyang was apparently too much for Trump to tolerate. North Korea’s vice foreign minister called Vice President Mike Pence “ignorant and stupid” and said the U.S. must decide whether it wants to “meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown.” (In a television interview on Monday referencing Kim’s aversion to the so-called “Libya model” of denuclearization, Pence had remarked:  “You know, as the president made clear, this will only end like the Libyan model ended if Kim Jong Un doesn’t make a deal.” Libya’s Moammar Qaddafi gave up his nuclear program in 2003 and was killed following an unrelated U.S. intervention 2011.) Trump’s letter indicated he had decided against the meeting room, at least for the moment, while leaving …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



What the @RealDonaldTrump Ruling Actually Means

By Garrett Epps

“If my fellow citizens want to go to Hell,” Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. once wrote, “I will help them. It’s my job.”

In our time, Twitter is the nearest thing I can think of to hell on earth. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the Southern District of New York reopened to dissenting Americans the circle of hell that hosts President Trump’s Twitter feed. The judge was just doing her job; whether appeals judges will agree with her conclusion remains to be seen.

Despite what you may have read on Twitter, the judge did not hold that Twitter is public property or that you are violating the First Amendment every time you block some troll who is fouling your feed. Her decision was careful and nuanced; it deserves careful study—but in the age of social-media, it is getting flamed.

@realDonaldTrump, identified on his page as “45th President of the United States of America,” has 52 million followers. Many Americans follow him because they wish to shower praises on his name. And millions of others follow because they want to answer or retweet his tweets along with sarcastic comments.

Trump doesn’t like the latter; he—or someone who maintains his Twitter feed—regularly blocks hostile tweeps. Wednesday, in Knight First Amendment Institute v. Trump, Buchwald held that this viewpoint-based blocking violates the First Amendment rights of those who are blocked. (The Knight Institute is active in a number of realms; I recently wrote a study of Justice Alito for Knight, but am not involved in its litigation.)

The violation, Buchwald reasoned, is not that blocking keeps the blocked from seeing Trump’s tweets—8-year-olds know how to see tweets from someone who has blocked them—but that it keeps them from replying on Twitter. That doesn’t mean Trump has to be able to see the …read more

Via:: The Atlantic