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US Monthly Headline News August 2019 Page 4

Spencer Platt/Getty
When Barack Obama took office in January 2009, white supremacists were fragmented and without charismatic leaders. That quickly changed with the arrival of Richard Spencer, Matt Heimbach and Milo Yiannopoulos, a generation of new leaders who created and captured a following that capitalized on white unease over a black president. The good news is that over time these leaders were marginalized and neutralized, finally demonized by the media and subjected to public humiliation for their neo-Nazi views. They were disrupted. But the sentiments they embraced had taken hold, bursting into full view in Charlottesville in 2017, with white supremacists carrying torches and chanting, “Jews won’t replace us.” They’re fragmented again post-Charlottesville, and post-El Paso, seeking other social media platforms while law enforcement plays whack-a-mole, beating them back until they pop up somewhere else. The American people are left to wonder what more can be done to counter this growing threat that government has left unattended for too long, while keeping quiet what information it has collected, including a document showing that white supremacists were responsible for all race-based domestic terrorism incidents in 2018.

By Justin Wise
Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman who launched a primary challenge against President Trump, on Monday addressed past controversial remarks, saying that he wasn’t a racist but had said "racist things." "I wouldn’t call myself a racist, but I would say, John, I’ve said racist things on Twitter. There's no doubt about it. And an apology is not enough," Walsh, who represented Illinois's 8th Congressional District between 2011 and 2013, said on MSNBC. Walsh's comments came after he was confronted by MSNBC's John Heilemann about his history of controversial statements, including the accusation that former President Obama was a Muslim. Joe Walsh, a former Republican congressman who launched a primary challenge against President Trump, on Monday addressed past controversial remarks, saying that he wasn’t a racist but had said "racist things." "I wouldn’t call myself a racist, but I would say, John, I’ve said racist things on Twitter. There's no doubt about it. And an apology is not enough," Walsh, who represented Illinois's 8th Congressional District between 2011 and 2013, said on MSNBC. Walsh's comments came after he was confronted by MSNBC's John Heilemann about his history of controversial statements, including the accusation that former President Obama was a Muslim. "You’ve apologized for helping to spawn Trump. You’ve apologized for going too far," Heilemann said. "For a lot of people, the fact is the president is a stone-cold racist and so are you." "You can apologize for various things. Apologizing for burping at the table or using the wrong fork with your main course is different from offering some kind of a genuine recognition that not just 'I said things that are offensive' but that 'I’m a racist. I said racist stuff,'" Heilemann added. Walsh responded by saying he's sent tweets he regrets. "When I said Barack Obama was a Muslim, that was a horrible thing to say, and I said it because I was so disgusted with Obama’s policy toward Israel that I went a bad, ugly step," he said.

The Federal Election Commission will be without a quorum as of August 31 and will be powerless to enforce election law.
By Josh Israel
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) — intended to be a group of no more than three Democrats and no more than three Republicans overseeing the federal campaign finance system — has been operating with just a bare quorum of four for the past 18 months. With the resignation of Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen, at the end of the week, the commission will be virtually paralyzed. The reason for this: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and his Republican-controlled U.S. Senate. The FEC is a peculiar agency. It was created in 1974 to enforce finance laws for House, Senate, presidential, and vice presidential campaigns. Unlike most agencies, neither party is allowed to hold a working majority of seats at any time. Scott Harshbarger, the former president of the campaign finance reform group Common Cause, once quipped that the FEC is “probably the only agency in Washington that has done from the beginning exactly what it was intended to do, which was to do nothing.’’ But while the commission has often deadlocked along party lines — especially in recent years — it still has played some role in issuing fines, auditing campaign filings, and investigating corruption. With just three active members, it will be able to do none of that. The six commissioners are appointed by the president — subject to Senate confirmation — to serve a single six-year term. The terms are staggered so two (typically one Democratic and one Republican commissioner) are up every two years. If no successor is confirmed, commissioners may stay on as long as they are willing.  While the positions were once filled in pairs with little fanfare, since McConnell (an avowed foe of campaign finance law) became majority leader in 2015, not a single commissioner has been confirmed. Petersen and the remaining commissioners are all serving expired terms.

By Lenny Bernstein
NORMAN, Okla.— A judge Monday found Johnson & Johnson responsible for fueling Oklahoma’s opioid crisis, ordering the health care company to pay $572 million to redress the devastation wrought by the epidemic on the state and its residents. Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman’s landmark decision is the first to hold a drugmaker culpable for the fallout of years of liberal opioid dispensing that began in the late 199os, sparking a nationwide epidemic of overdose deaths and addiction. More than 400,000 people have died of overdoses from painkillers, heroin and illegal fentanyl since 1999. “The opioid crisis has ravaged the state of Oklahoma and must be abated immediately,” Balkman said, reading part of his decision aloud from the bench Monday afternoon. With more than 40 states lined up to pursue similar claims against the pharmaceutical industry, the ruling in the first state case to go to trial could influence both side’s strategies in the months and years to come. Its impact on an enormous federal lawsuit brought by nearly 2,000 cities, counties, Native American tribes and others, which is scheduled to begin in October, is less certain.

By Michael Collins and John Fritze, USA TODAY
BIARRITZ, France – President Donald Trump said Monday that his first priority is to maintain the nation's wealth, not trade away that prosperity for climate initiatives that he described as amounting to "dreams and windmills." "It's tremendous wealth," Trump told reporters gathered at the G-7 summit in France. "I'm not going to lose that wealth. I'm not going to lose it on dreams and windmills, which, frankly, aren't working too well." Trump's remarks came after White House aides acknowledged he skipped a session of the G-7 meeting focused on climate, biodiversity and the health of oceans. The White House said the president was taking part in other meetings during that session. The president did not answer two specifics questions: Whether he still harbored skepticism about climate change and what he felt the U.S. and other countries should do about it. Before his election, Trump had described climate change a Chinese hoax. Trump has reportedly told aides that the meeting of world leaders has focused too intensely on climate and other environmental issues. White House officials have said the president wants the meeting to deal more with economic issues, and Trump pushed for and secured a session on Saturday focused on the global economy. "The United States has tremendous wealth," Trump said, referring to the nation's preponderance of natural gas. "I've made that wealth come alive." Trump has been at odds with other members of the G-7, especially host France, after he announced in 2017 that the U.S. would formally withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. Then-candidate Trump promised to withdraw the U.S. from the accord. But Trump defended his environmental record on Monday, telling reporters that he was an "environmentalist." "I want clean air. I want clean water," Trump said. "I want a wealthy country. I want a spectacular country, with jobs, with pensions...and that's what we're getting."

Analysis by Stephen Collinson, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump -- irritable and inconsistent on the world stage -- raised, dashed and then raised again hopes for an easing of his fast worsening trade war with China that is threatening the global economy. The G7 summit in France unfolded in the now familiar manner of Trump's foreign trips. The United States, once the fulcrum of the Western alliance, was isolated. Foreign leaders who once looked to the US for direction largely tried not to antagonize a volatile American President. And Trump battled with the media, reacted furiously to any criticism of his performance and left whip lashed aides scrambling to explain his public comments. The President's reversals and recriminations over the weekend recalled a wild day in Washington on Friday when his fury at Beijing's decision to hit back at his tariff assaults sent stock markets into turmoil and triggered extreme concern about a worsening standoff with China. At one stunning moment on Sunday, Trump seemed to indicate he regretted his trade duel with China in comments that rocketed around the world amid concern about its economic impact. "I have second thoughts about everything," he said, leaving critics to hope the President was trying to make himself political room to deescalate the showdown. But Trump, who hates to look like he's being backed into a corner or is climbing down, then sent out his aides to say that on the contrary, his only regret was not being tougher on China. And then on Monday, during an exchange with reporters, Trump flipped back into a softer position. Speaking in France, Trump said "China called last night" to relay a desire to return to negotiations. He described the calls as "productive." "'Let's get back to the table,' " Trump said, describing the message from Beijing.

By QUINT FORGEY
President Donald Trump on Monday used the global stage of the G-7 conference to assert that former President Barack Obama was “outsmarted” and embarrassed by Russian President Vladimir Putin — a stinging rebuke of his White House predecessor before an international audience. Answering reporters’ questions at a news conference in Biarritz, France, Trump claimed Obama moved to oust Russia from what was formerly known as the Group of Eight after he reneged on a 2012 threat of military force against Syria for perpetrating chemical weapons attacks. Trump alleged that Obama was embarrassed when Russia illegally seized Crimea from Ukraine — the official justification for Russia’s suspension from the G-8 in 2014. “President Obama was not happy that this happened because it was embarrassing to him, right? It was very embarrassing to him, and he wanted Russia to be out of what was called the G-8,” Trump said. “And that was his determination. He was outsmarted by Putin. He was outsmarted.” Spokespeople for Obama's post-presidential office declined to comment on Trump's statements. U.S. presidents have historically worked to leave political squabbles at home while traveling abroad and generally refrain from such direct criticism of their predecessors, especially while on foreign soil. But Trump has routinely broken from that norm, consistently using the spotlight of overseas trips to lash out at political foes and fuel longstanding feuds. Trump also said he would consider inviting Putin to next year’s G-7 summit, which is scheduled to be held in the United States, remarking that “it would be better to have Russia inside the tent than outside the tent,” and professing that Russia’s involvement is “good for [the] security of the world.” But Trump said he was unsure whether Putin would accept his offer to participate in the annual gathering of global leaders. “Would I invite him? I would certainly invite him. Whether or not he could come psychologically? I think that’s a tough thing for him to do,” Trump said. “You have a G-8, now it’s a G-7, and you invite the person that was thrown out, really, by President Obama, and really because he got outsmarted.”

By John Haltiwanger
President Donald Trump on Monday said he's looking at hosting the next G7 at his Trump National Doral Miami Golf Resort, which could raise major ethical and constitutional issues. Trump said the hotel, which has reportedly been struggling financially due to the president's tarnished brand, is a strong contender for the summit due to how close it is to the airport (it's a roughly 20-25 minute drive). "They love the location of the hotel," Trump said during a bilateral meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the G7 in France. "We haven't found anything that's even close to competing with it," Trump added. "Really you can be there in a matter of minutes after you land." Trump also praised the location's acres, separate buildings for different delegations, and "great" conference rooms, The Washington Post reported, but also said a final decision hasn't been made on the venue. Trump's announcement about the potential venue for the next G7 came amid a rocky couple of days for the president at this year's summit, in which he's been at odds with US allies on an array of issues — including on whether to allow Russia to return to the annual meeting.

Even a mild downturn could hit Americans harder — the "recovery" from 2008 left too many people on the margins
By Bob Hennelly
As the corporate media bangs the drum of imminent recession, we need to take a look at how tens of millions of American households that live paycheck to paycheck are situated for another choreographed downturn. It will tell you all you need to know about the predatory nature of late-stage vulture capitalism, over which Donald Trump presides as its orange mascot. What jumps out when you look at the data is just how phony the “longest recovery” has been — the one for which Joe Biden wants to take a victory lap. Lost ground. The stark reality is that in the last decade or so the rich have gotten richer as the rest of the country has sunk deeper and deeper into debt, with little to show for it except rent receipts. As we head into the next downturn, whenever it happens, tens of millions of American families are hanging on the edge of economic oblivion. Thanks to the Trump tax cut, their government will be too much in debt to throw them a lifeline. The $20 trillion in lost American household wealth that came from the unprosecuted theft of household wealth during Wall Street's Great Foreclosure caper had generational consequences that linger and still define many lives today. The Federal Reserve Board's latest "Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households," released in May, surveyed 11,000 adults. It found that in order to cover an emergency $400 expense, 39 percent of those polled would have to either borrow or sell something to come up with the cash.

A bland announcement in the Federal Register on Monday may mark the beginning of the end of federal drug cops' 50-year Reefer Madness crusade.
By Alan Pyke
The federal government announced plans to expand cannabis research Monday, paving the way for the robust clinical trials cannabis experts believe will force the government to downgrade marijuana’s Controlled Substances Act classification. The decision comes just two days before a key deadline in a lawsuit against the agency brought by cannabis researcher Dr. Sue Sisley of the Scottsdale Research Institute. Sisley had sought to end three years of stalling by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Monday’s regulatory filing, and the warm remarks from Attorney General William Barr that accompanied it in a press release, effectively mean Dr. Sisley’s won. Coupled with Barr’s ardently anti-pot predecessor Jeff Sessions’ departure, progress toward looser federal treatment of cannabis may resume. “Until today, no one could do anything. We were handcuffed, in limbo,” said Shane Pennington, a member of Dr. Sisley’s legal team. “Now they’ve done something. It’s a huge, huge deal.”

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) said Trump must like Jews because he has Jewish children and grandchildren.
By Josh Israel
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), one of just two Jewish Republicans in Congress and a staunch defender of Donald Trump, insisted on Thursday that the president is not an anti-Semite, his repeated anti-Semitic comments this week notwithstanding. In his attempt to explain away Trump’s claim that Jews who do not back him are “disloyal” however, Zeldin accidentally compared the president to Adolf Hitler. Zeldin was asked on Fox News whether he shares Trump’s view that “[if] you vote for a Democrat, you are being disloyal to Jewish people, and you’re being very disloyal to Israel.” About three-quarters of Jewish Americans voted against Trump in the 2016 election and Democratic candidates received an even higher share of the vote in 2018. Zeldin responded by praising Trump — who has made an array of anti-Semitic comments, defended neo-Nazis as “very fine people,” and employed people like Steve Bannon and Seb Gorka — as an ally of the Jewish community. He reasoned that although the president’s latest statement is actually a hugely offensive trope, Trump shouldn’t be condemned for it because he has Jewish relatives. “There is a long history with regards to that term — “loyalty” or “disloyalty,” Zeldin answered, “where others with bad intent, with hatred towards Israel and the Jews, going all the way back to whether it’s Adolf Hitler, to what we’re seeing right now in other ways manifested from [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] supporters Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) in the House of Representatives, there has been an issue with the use of that word.” (Zeldin has repeatedly criticized both congresswomen, accusing them of backing anti-Semitic causes. Meanwhile, he hosted 2018 reelection fundraisers with both Bannon and Gorka.) “The president, who I said, is approaching this from a very different standpoint, he chose to use a word that I wouldn’t use in a particular context. He’s being accused of anti-Semitism, which is just so not true, when the definition of anti-Semitism requires a hatred towards Jews, and he has shown that he has none of it. Literally his son-in-law, his daughter, his grandchildren are Jewish.”

SACRAMENTO (KRON) – A large fight involving more than three dozen people at Raging Waters started over a beach towel, officials said. The 40-person brawl happened Sunday afternoon when two women began to disagree over who took whose beach towel, the Cal Expo police chief Everest Robillard told KCRA. Officials said 35-year-old Christopher Neves of Modesto tried to break up the fight but was attacked by three other people.

An anonymous book author has lit the online right on fire — including some in the president’s orbit.
By BEN SCHRECKINGER
The most important political book of the past year just might be a grammatically challenged manifesto in favor of nude sunbathing written under the pen name Bronze Age Pervert. Where Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” inspired generations of libertarians to enter politics, and Aaron Sorkin’s “The West Wing” did the same for idealistic liberals, a cohort of young, right-wing men are today gravitating toward “Bronze Age Mindset.” The self-published book urges them to join the armed forces in preparation for the onset of military rule. Since its publication in June 2018, the book has gained a following online, and its author, known to his fans as BAP for short, has come to the attention of notable figures on the Trumpist right. Earlier this month, the book was the subject of a 5,000-word review by Michael Anton, a conservative intellectual who served as a spokesman for Donald Trump’s National Security Council. Anton concludes by warning, “In the spiritual war for the hearts and minds of the disaffected youth on the right, conservatism is losing. BAP-ism is winning.” Anton is just one of the Trump world figures who has taken notice. "It’s still a cult book,” said another former Trump White House official. “If you’re a young person, intelligent, adjacent in some way to the right, it’s very likely you would have heard of it.” Right-wing agitator Mike Cernovich said he knows of young staffers in the White House who are fans of Bronze Age Pervert’s Twitter account — where the author posts photos of buff, shirtless men and promotes far-right positions on the culture war — though he does not know if they have read the book.

By Brendan Pierson
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein pleaded not guilty on Monday to a new indictment as his upcoming criminal trial was pushed back to January, in a case where prosecutors have accused him of rape and predatory sexual assault. Weinstein, 67, entered his plea in a New York state court in Manhattan, where his trial was delayed by four months, to Jan. 6, 2020. He had faced a Sept. 9 trial date. The new indictment accuses Weinstein of two counts of predatory sexual assault, stemming from alleged assaults against two women, in 2006 and 2013. Those charges are essentially the same as those in the previous indictment against Weinstein, and prosecutors moved Monday to consolidate the two cases. However, the new indictment also comes with a disclosure that a third woman will be called to testify that Weinstein raped her in 1993 to bolster the prosecutors’ case. Weinstein cannot be charged directly with raping that woman, actress Annabella Sciorra, because the statute of limitations has run out.

By Eric Levenson and Melissa Alonso, CNN
(CNN) - St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson has announced $25,000 rewards for information leading to arrests of the people who killed four children in a rash of shootings this summer. Five children aged 10 and under have been shot and killed since April and Krewson asked anyone with information to come forward because "conventional policing tactics are not enough." "We are all at risk when these suspects remain out on the street," she said. The announcement came a day after Jurnee Thompson, 8, was shot and killed while with family outside a restaurant near Soldan High School on Friday night. On April 30, 2-year-old Kayden Johnson and his mother were fatally shot in their home. On June 9, 3-year-old Kennedi Powell was shot as she stood on the sidewalk in front of her home with family. And on July 19, 10-year-old Eddie Hill was shot as he stood on the porch of his home with family. No arrests have been made in these four cases. The $25,000 reward for each of the four cases, totaling $100,000 total, will only be available until September 1. Officials hope this will push anyone with information to act immediately. Crimestoppers is also offering a $5,000 ongoing award for these investigations. Jurnee was fatally shot and three other people were injured in a shooting at a restaurant near a preseason high school football event Friday night, police said. The girl, two teenage boys and a woman were shot near Soldan High School, police said. Junee had just attended a football jamboree -- a series of preseason scrimmages -- at the school with the two teens, CNN affiliate KMOV reported. Police officers already were in the area when the shooting happened, having started to clear crowds from the school grounds after fights were reported there, St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden told reporters.

By Faith Karimi, CNN
(CNN) - Lawmakers in Arkansas and Oklahoma are mourning the loss of two former state senators who were found dead in their homes within a span of two days. In Arkansas, this week's fatal shooting of former Republican state Sen. Linda Collins-Smith is being investigated as a homicide, authorities said.
In Oklahoma, former state Sen. Jonathan Nichols was found dead from a gunshot in his home in Norman, about 20 miles from Oklahoma City, according to police. Authorities have not provided additional details on the apparently unrelated deaths. Investigations are under way in both states. Collins-Smith's body was found Tuesday in her home in Randolph County, Arkansas. She'd been fatally shot, and her death is under investigation as a homicide, CNN affiliate KARK reported. Collins-Smith, who was a Democrat before switching to the Republican Party, was first elected to the Arkansas Senate in 2014 and lost her party's primary last year, the Little Rock TV station said. "She was a passionate voice for her people and a close member of our Republican family. We are praying for her loved ones during this difficult time," the Arkansas GOP tweeted.

John Fritze and Michael Collins, USA TODAY
BIARRITZ, France – President Donald Trump said Monday that Chinese officials called to restart talks amid an escalating trade war that sent markets spinning last week. Speaking to reporters at the G-7 meeting of world leaders taking place in France, Trump said that U.S. officials had received two calls from China. The president declined to say whether he had spoken directly with Chinese President Xi Jinping. "We've got two calls, very very good calls, very productive calls," Trump told reporters. "They mean business." Trump made the remarks hours before markets opened in the U.S. Those markets plunged Friday after China raised retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion in American made products. Later Friday, Trump responded by raising tariffs on $550 billion in goods. Trump said Friday he would raise from 25% to 30% U.S. tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese products and would increase from 10% to 15% new tariffs on a remaining $300 billion in goods – some of which are set to take effect next month. “I have great respect for the fact that China called and they want to make a deal," Trump said, during a G-7 meeting in which allies have pressured the U.S. to ease up on the trade war with China. "I have great respect for President Xi.” Trump said he expects to have a further statement on China, noting a scheduled press conference later Monday. Chinese officials did not immediately confirm the calls. But he declined to directly answer multiple questions about who called and what specifically was discussed. - The real questions is did China call or is Trump lying as usual?

In a news conference, Trump touted his resort and denied he was personally profiting from the presidency.
By Linda Givetash and Allan Smith
President Donald Trump defended the idea of hosting next year's G-7 summit at his Miami golf resort, extolling the amenities of his club and insisting he would not profit off the venture. "I'm not going to make any money," Trump said at a Monday news conference at the G-7 in Biarritz, France. "I don't care about making money." But the president, after saying his team surveyed a dozen possible sites for the summit, pointed to his golf club's "series of magnificent buildings." Trump said each member country "can have their own villa, or own bungalow" and praised some features like the "incredible conference rooms" and "great restaurants." Trump also repeated an assertion he made before a group of Pennsylvania workers earlier this month, claiming the presidency has cost him "$3 to $5 billion." He added: "At some point, I'm going to detail that."

President’s trade war order for U.S. companies to get out isn’t just impossible; it would sink the economy.
By David Fickling
Is President Donald Trump serious about forcing American companies out of China? His advisers talk like it. The president would have the authority for such a move, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economic director Larry Kudlow said in television interviews while their boss was at the G-7 – though there’s “nothing right now in the cards,” Kudlow added. Trump had suggested the policy in a series of Tweets capping a week marked by tussles with the Fed and China: “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.” There’s a difference, though, between what’s possible and what’s advisable – especially given the way the world economy seems to be teetering on the edge of a downturn. Ten-year Treasury yields fell to their lowest level since 2016 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped the most in nearly four months Monday as fears of a deeper trade conflict ramped up. The U.S. president has extraordinarily wide-ranging powers granted by the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act. There are around 29 national emergencies ongoing under the terms of the law, which was originally intended to ensure such decision-making didn’t get perpetually stuck in Congress. The powers were last invoked in May when Trump threatened tariffs on Mexico if it didn’t stop flows of migrants. The question now is whether Trump would follow through or, as in the Mexican case, fold. The likelier result is the latter because, as with the U.S. banking sector in 2008, the investments of American businesses in China are too big to fail.

Using nuclear weapons to destroy hurricanes is not a good idea, a US scientific agency has said, following reports that President Donald Trump wanted to explore the option. The Axios news website said Mr Trump had asked several national security officials about the possibility. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the results would be "devastating". Mr Trump has denied making the suggestion. Hurricanes typically affect the US east coast, often causing serious damage. It's not the first time the idea has been considered. Following reports of Mr Trump's suggestion, the hashtag #ThatsHowTheApocalyseStarted has been trending on Twitter. What effect would nuking a hurricane have? Mr Trump asked why the US couldn't drop a bomb into the eye of the storm to stop it from making landfall, news site Axios said. The NOAA says that using nuclear weapons on a hurricane "might not even alter the storm" and the "radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with the tradewinds to affect land areas". The difficulty with using explosives to change hurricanes, it says, is the amount of energy needed. The heat release of a hurricane is equivalent to a 10-megaton nuclear bomb exploding every 20 minutes. Even though the mechanical energy of a bomb is closer to that of the storm, "the task of focusing even half of the energy on a spot in the middle of a remote ocean would be formidable", it adds.

By Daniel Wolfe
Locally sourced Basque food prepared by Michelin-star chefs may have been on the menu, but that didn’t satisfy Donald Trump during a G7 summit dinner in Biarritz, France on Saturday night (Aug. 24). According to reporting by the Guardian, heated debates began when the US president demanded the group readmit Russia. Russia was removed by the previously named G8 after it annexed Crimea in 2014. During the seaside meal, French president Emmanuel Macron and European Council president Donald Tusk opposed Trump’s demands. A diplomat present told the publication that the evening was tense: “Most of the other leaders insisted on this being a family, a club, a community of liberal democracies and for that reason they said you cannot allow president Putin—who does not represent that—back in.” - Why does Trump continue to do Putin’s bidding?

By Sonam Sheth
President Donald Trump has suggested dropping nuclear bombs into hurricanes to stop them from causing damage to the US, Axios reported on Sunday. The report said that the president suggested the idea on multiple occasions to senior officials at the Department of Homeland Security and other national security officials. One source present at a hurricane briefing at the White House at an unspecified date told Axios that Trump suggested something along the lines of: "I got it. I got it. Why don't we nuke them? They start forming off the coast of Africa, as they're moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can't we do that?" - Donald J. Trump is the only person who can make rocks look smart.

By Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY
On Sunday, former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh addressed his role in stirring racist rhetoric in politics in the past while announcing his intentions of challenging President Donald Trump in the Republican primary. Walsh apologized for his past comments during an appearance on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" in which he said he had a role in Trump's ascension. “I helped create Trump, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. Walsh went on to offer his opinion of Trump: “He’s nuts, he’s erratic, he’s cruel, he stokes bigotry.” He also wrote in a recent New York Times op-ed that Trump “inspires imitators” but brought up his own “share of controversy.” “At times, I expressed hate for my political opponents. We now see where this can lead,” he wrote. “There’s no place in our politics for personal attacks like that, and I regret making them.” Walsh's past comments  In 2014, Walsh was pulled off the air during his radio show for using racist slurs. He also promoted the "birther" conspiracy during former President Barack Obama's time in office and said Obama was only elected because he is black.

By Samantha Putterman on Friday, August 23rd, 2019 at 9:30 a.m.
Did President Barack Obama make it "legal" for media outlets to purposely lie to the American public? No, Obama didn’t make it legal for propaganda to run amok in U.S. newsrooms and be presented as fact in broadcasts and reports to the American public. But a bill passed as part of H.R. 4310 — the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012 — instead reversed restrictions on news programs funded by the U.S. government.

By Michelle Mark
President Donald Trump publicly lavished praise on French President Emmanuel Macron, even as his aides fumed over France's handling of the G7 Summit, according to multiple reports. Though Trump boasted of his and Macron's " special relationship" during a private lunch at the start of the summit, his aides reportedly believe that the French organized the event in such a way as to antagonize the United States by focusing on "niche issues" at the expense of economic ones. Bloomberg News reported that US officials have privately accused Macron of trying to isolate Trump by focusing much of the discussions on climate change, a topic over which Trump is at odds with his fellow world leaders. The New York Times similarly reported that senior administration officials believe that Macron was appeasing his domestic audience by focusing on climate change, income and gender equality, and African development.

By The Associated Press
CHICAGO (AP) — Health officials said Friday that an Illinois patient who contracted a serious lung disease after vaping has died and that they consider it the first death in the United States linked to the smoking alternative that has become popular with teens and young adults. The Illinois Department of Public Health the adult patient was hospitalized after falling ill following vaping, though it didn't give other information about the person, including the patient's name, age, hometown or date of death. The state received the report of the death Thursday, said Dr. Jennifer Layden, the Illinois agency's chief medical officer. Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that 193 people in 22 states have contracted severe respiratory illnesses after vaping. However, they said a clear-cut common cause of the illnesses hasn't been identified and that they are being called "potential cases" that are still under investigation. All of the sickened have been teens or adults who had used an electronic cigarette or some other kind of vaping device. Doctors say the illnesses resemble an inhalation injury, with the lungs apparently reacting to a caustic substance. So far, infectious diseases have been ruled out. The illnesses have been reported since late June, but the total count has risen quickly in the past week. That may be partly because cases that weren't initially being linked to vaping have begun to be grouped that way.

By Amanda Macias
SAINT-JEAN-DE-LUZ, France — President Donald Trump said Sunday he was not happy after North Korea launched short-range ballistic missiles over the weekend but also downplayed the series of tests. “I’m not happy about it but again he’s not in violation of any agreement,” Trump said when asked about the recent string of tests during a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Group of 7 in Biarritz, France. “I discussed long-range ballistic and that he cannot do and he hasn’t been doing it and he hasn’t been doing nuclear testing. He has done short-range, much more standard missiles, a lot of people are testing those missiles, not just him. We are in the world of missiles folks, whether you like it or not,” he added. Trump’s comments came on the heels of what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles launched from North Korea’s east coast. Saturday’s launch is the latest in a series of tests in recent weeks amid stalled denuclearization talks. “Our position is very clear, the launch of the short-range ballistic missiles by North Korea clearly violates the relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” Abe said.

By Amanda Macias
SAINT-JEAN-DE-LUZ, France — President Donald Trump said Sunday he could declare the escalating U.S.-China trade war as a national emergency if he wanted to. “In many ways this is an emergency,” Trump said at the G-7 leaders meeting of the ongoing trade battle between the world’s top two economies. “I could declare a national emergency, I think when they steal and take out and intellectual property theft anywhere from $300 billion to $500 billion a year and when we have a total lost of almost a trillion dollars a year for many years,” Trump said, adding that he had no plan right now to call for a national emergency. “Actually we are getting along very well with China right now, we are talking. I think they want to make a deal much more than I do. I’m getting a lot of money in tariffs its coming in by the billions. We’ve never gotten 10 cents from China, so we will see what happens.” Trump’s comments come as he met with Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson kicking off Group of 7 meetings in the French seaside town of Biarritz.

By Jonathan Marcus
US pre-eminence in the Pacific is no more. For a long time experts have been speaking about China's rapid military modernisation referring to it as "a rising power". But this analysis may be out of date. China is not so much a rising power; it has risen; and in many ways it now challenges the US across a number of military domains. This is the conclusion of a new report from the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney in Australia. It warns that US defence strategy in the Indo-Pacific region "is in the throes of an unprecedented crisis" and that Washington might struggle to defend its allies against China. "America no longer enjoys military primacy in the Indo-Pacific", it notes, "and its capacity to uphold a favourable balance of power is increasingly uncertain." The report points to Beijing's extraordinary arsenal of missiles that threaten the key bases of the US and its allies. These installations, it asserts, "could be rendered useless by precision strikes in the opening hours of a conflict". China is not a global superpower like the United States. Indeed it is doubtful if its military ambitions extend that far (though this too may be changing as it slowly develops a network of ports and bases abroad).

By Ed Pilkington
Top capital lawyers head to North Carolina as judges consider the cases of four inmates who faced ‘bleached’ juries
Death row inmate Marcus Robinson listens in court. Marcus Robinson, a death row inmate, listens in court. The dark secret of America’s death penalty – the blatant and intentional racial bias that infects the system, distorting juries and throwing inordinate numbers of African Americans on to death row – will be laid bare next week in North Carolina. Some of the country’s top capital lawyers will gather on Monday at the state supreme court in Raleigh. Over two days, they will present evidence that capital punishment is so deeply flawed and riddled with racial animus that it makes a mockery of basic principles of fairness and equal justice. The court’s seven judges will be asked to address a simple question. Will they allow men and women to be condemned to die despite powerful evidence that prosecutors deployed racially discriminatory tactics to put them on death row? “We are taking an unprecedented look at whether the courts will tolerate proven racial bias in the death penalty,” said one of the case’s leading lawyers, Cassandra Stubbs, director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) capital punishment project. “We’re talking about fundamental rights that go to the integrity of the courts and the entire criminal justice system.” At the heart of the case are four inmates facing execution: three African American men and a Native American woman. Over the past seven years Marcus Robinson, Quintel Augustine, Tilmon Golphin and Christina Walters have been on an extraordinary judicial roller coaster that has seen them taken off death row on grounds that their sentences were racially compromised, only to be slapped back on to it following a partisan backlash by the Republican-controlled state legislature. In all four cases, a review of their trials found racial bias had been an “overwhelming” feature of how death sentences were secured. In particular, the juries had been “bleached”.

by MARK OSBORNE - Good Morning America
The California sheriff's deputy who launched an expensive, citywide manhunt for the sniper who shot him in his own station's parking lot made up the entire incident, police said late Saturday. Angel Reinosa, who is still a trainee with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Lancaster station, said he had been shot in the shoulder of his bulletproof vest while making his way to his car Wednesday. He announced over his radio in dramatic fashion he had been shot by someone in the apartment building next to the parking lot. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department immediately mobilized a large-scale operation to look for the suspect, even flying in a helicopter with a police sniper patrolling the skies. It was all fake, L.A. County Homicide Capt. Kent Wegener said at a press conference. The 21-year-old Reinosa met with sheriff's department investigators on Saturday and confessed. "Reinosa admitted he was not shot at as he previously claimed," Wegener said. "He also told investigators he had caused the holes in his uniform by cutting it. There was no sniper, no shots fired and no gunshot injury sustained to his shoulder."

There is a rise of ecofascism as a core ideology of contemporary white nationalism
By Alexandra Minna Stern
This article was originally published on The Conversation. White nationalists around the world are appropriating the language of environmentalism. The white nationalist who allegedly massacred 22 people in El Paso in early August, Patrick Crusius, posted a four-page screed on the chatroom 8chan. In it, the shooter blames his attack on the “Hispanic invasion of Texas” and the impending “cultural and ethnic replacement” of whites in America. Crusius also refers directly to the lengthy manifesto written by Brenton Tarrant, who allegedly murdered 52 in March in attacks motivated by Islamophobia on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The Christchurch shooter called himself an “ecofascist” who believes there is no “nationalism without environmentalism.” The El Paso shooter titled his rant “An Inconvenient Truth,” apparently in reference to Al Gore’s 2006 documentary warning about the dangers of climate change. He also praised “The Lorax,” Dr. Seuss’ classic story about deforestation and corporate greed.

Biarritz, France — President Trump's only regret in hiking tariffs on China is that he didn't raise them higher, his press secretary said Sunday after the president had earlier signaled some remorse for an escalating trade war with China. Mr. Trump faced a tense reception from world leaders meeting amid mounting anxiety of a global economic slowdown at the Group of Seven summit in France. During a breakfast meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the president suggested he has qualms about the spiraling conflict. "Yeah. For sure," Mr. Trump told reporters when asked if he has second
thoughts about escalating the conflict, adding he has "second thoughts about everything." But hours later, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement saying Mr. Trump was "greatly misinterpreted," saying he only responded "in the affirmative — because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher."

By will steakin
Conservative firebrand former Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh announced Sunday with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on ABC's "This Week" that he's launching a long-shot Republican presidential primary challenge against President Donald Trump.  "I'm going to run for president," Walsh told Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview. When Stephanopoulos pointed out the massive uphill climb Walsh has in front of him in the primary thanks to Trump's overwhelmingly high approval rating within the party, the controversial former congressman argued that conservatives don't have an alternative to the president. "I'm running because he's unfit; somebody needs to step up and there needs to be an alternative. The country is sick of this guy's tantrum -- he's a child," Walsh said.  While Walsh has argued he plans to make a moral case against the president, Stephanopoulos asked the former congressman if he's the best person to make that argument given his long history of incendiary and controversial statements ranging from using racist slurs on Twitter to promoting falsehoods around former President Barack Obama's birth certificate and religion. "I helped create Trump," Walsh told Stephanopoulos, "and George, that's not an easy thing to say." The former Illinois congressman-turned-radio host was once a fervent Trump supporter who's become a fierce critic of the president. Walsh is just the second Republican to jump into the primary behind former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who announced back in April but has yet to gain serious traction.

It turns out that there are some actual political consequences for a congressman sounding off repeatedly about white supremacy and abortion.
By Lachlan Markay
As he gears up for a difficult re-election cycle, Rep. Steve King’s campaign is strapped for cash. Individual donations to the Iowa Republican are down considerably from past cycles and support from corporate donors and King’s own colleagues have vanished entirely. King has not received a single contribution this year from a political action committee associated with a sitting member of Congress. Corporate PACs and interest groups have also completely shunned him. Through the first six months of the year, King received just two contributions from third party political entities: $2,000 donations from PACs associated with two former members of Congress, Lamar Smith (R-TX) and the infamous Todd Akin (R-MO). It is a remarkable though not entirely unpredictable abandonment of a sitting member of Congress. Though he was always controversial and further to the right than most of his colleagues, King has burned virtually all his bridges in the party this year with outlandish comments about white supremacy and abortion. But while those comments have made King a pariah in the party—with House Republican leaders stripping him of his committee assignments—King has refused to leave office. Now, as he faces the toughest campaign since he was first elected in 2002, he is doing so with a potentially catastrophic lack of resources. The $18,365 that King’s campaign had in the bank at the end of June was the least cash on hand he’s ever reported after the first six months of a cycle.

Hours after China announced retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods on Friday, President Donald Trump ordered U.S. companies to “start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.” The stakes are high: U.S. companies invested a total of $256 billion in China between 1990 and 2017, compared with $140 billion Chinese companies have invested in the United States, according to estimates by the Rhodium Group research institute. Some U.S. companies had been shifting operations out of China even before the tit-for-tat tariff trade war began more than a year ago. But winding down operations and shifting production out of China completely would take time. Further, many U.S. companies such as those in the aerospace, services and retail sectors would be sure to resist pressure to leave a market that is not only huge but growing. Unlike China, the United States does not have a centrally planned economy. So what legal action can the president take to compel American companies to do his bidding? Trump does have some powerful tools that would not require approval from U.S. Congress:

By Emmanuel Ocbazghi
INSIDER's Manny Ocbazghi opines that Fox News pundits have been echoing white supremacist talking points during segments on immigration. These talking points are tied to a conspiracy theory called "The Great Replacement." The Great Replacement theory says that nonwhite populations around the world are maliciously marginalizing and deliberately replacing white populations. Manny: Ever since Fox News started in 1996, they have been on one. - And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white. - Poor families in America have, 99% of them have a refrigerator. - A fist bump, a pound, a terrorist fist jab? Manny: Recently though, Fox News opinion programs have been accused of something far more sinister. Tucker Carlson: How, precisely, is diversity our strength? Can you think, for example, of other institutions such as, I don't know, marriage or military units in which the less people have in common, the more cohesive they are? Jared Taylor: Diversity of the kind we're all supposed to be celebrating, whether it's religious or racial or linguistic or cultural, all of that, they are sources of tension and conflict. Manny: That's Jared Taylor, a popular white supremacist. If you're asking, "Why in the world does Tucker Carlson sound like that guy?" You are not alone. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Fox News opinion programs have been echoing white supremacist talking points to their millions of viewers...oh no, wait, that's exactly what I'm saying. Here's how they do it. By now, we all know what racism is. It's racist to assume that I'm good at basketball. It's true, but it's racist. White supremacists have a specific purpose, though. They believe in policies that will lead them to the ultimate goal: a whites-only society. That's because they believe that white people are inherently superior to other races, and, therefore, shouldn't coexist with them. However, that goal is threatened by what they call The Great Replacement.

Fox News figures have repeatedly warned of an immigrant “invasion”
Written by Courtney Hagle
The shooter who killed 20 people and injured dozens in El Paso, TX, over the weekend first posted online a document outlining the white nationalist “great replacement” theory to which he subscribed. Fox News has long mainstreamed this theory’s rhetoric. In a 2,300-word screed posted online, the El Paso gunman appeared to draw inspiration from previous terror attacks, including an attack on Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, which he cited. The perpetrators in these attacks were motivated by the white supremacist “great replacement” conspiracy theory that white people are being systematically “replaced” by people of color through mass immigration, possibly orchestrated by a globalist group that seeks to rule the world. Anti-Semites often hold people of Jewish faith responsible for this perceived globalist takeover -- during a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA, the protestors infamously chanted “Jews will not replace us,” referencing the theory. On Fox, the responsible group is typically the Democratic Party. The gunman in El Paso described immigrants as “invaders” flooding into the United States, which is rhetoric that both President Donald Trump and Fox News personalities frequently employ. Fox hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham, who both have a history of pushing white nationalism and bigotry on cable airwaves, blatantly push the theory that white Americans are being replaced through immigration to the benefit of Democrats. Variations of the white supremacist “great replacement” theory have also appeared on other Fox programs.

By Nicole Chavez and Hollie Silverman, CNN
(CNN)At least six people were injured after lightning struck a tree at the PGA Tour Championship golf tournament in Atlanta, police said on Saturday.
Five men and a girl who sought shelter under a tree during a storm at East Lake Golf Club were injured when lightning hit the tree, Atlanta Police Department spokesman James White said. They were taken to local hospitals "alert, conscious, and breathing, for further medical treatment," White said. PGA Tour said in a statement that those injured had been struck by debris from "a tree near the range/15 green/16 tee" and some of them were fans attending the tournament. The third round of the PGA Tour Championship was underway at the East Lake Golf Club on Saturday when organizers suspended play due to inclement weather, the PGA said.

By Jackie Smith, Port Huron Times Herald
MARYSVILLE, Mich. – Marysville City Council candidate Jean Cramer said she doesn’t have any plans to back out of the race despite coming under fire for racist comments she made at an election forum Thursday night. Mayor Dan Damman and other local leaders, however, have called for her withdrawal. “I would say that I probably came to the conclusion this morning,” he said Friday. “After the initial shock of what she said really sank in and (given) the deep-seated viewpoints that she has, I don’t believe that she is fit to serve as an elected official in Marysville or anywhere else.” Cramer, one of five residents vying for three council seats in November’s election, responded to a question at a city candidates’ forum about attracting foreign-born residents to the community with: “Keep Marysville a white community as much as possible.” After the forum, she expanded on her beliefs, particularly that people of different races shouldn’t get married.

The Associated Press
HAMPTON, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Saturday a new state commission to review educational standards for teaching black history in the state, as officials observed the arrival of enslaved Africans to what is now Virginia 400 years ago. Northam, who noted “we are a state that for too long has told a false story of ourselves,” spoke at the 2019 African Landing Commemorative Ceremony in Hampton. The event was part of a weekend of ceremonies that are unfolding in the backdrop of rising white nationalism across the country and a lingering scandal surrounding Northam and a blackface photo. Northam said he signed a directive to create the commission to review instructional practices, content, and resources currently used to teach African American history in the state. “We often fail to draw the connecting lines from those past events to our present day, but to move forward, that is what we must do,” Northam, a Democrat, said. “We know that racism and discrimination aren’t locked in the past. They weren’t solved with the Civil Rights Act. They didn’t disappear. They merely evolved.” In February, Northam faced intense pressure to resign after a racist picture surfaced from his 1984 medical school yearbook page. He denied being in the picture but admitted to wearing blackface as a young man while portraying Michael Jackson at a dance party in the 1980s. On Saturday, Northam said he has met with people around the state over the past several months to listen to views about inequities that still exist, prompting him to confront “some painful truths.” “Among those truths was my own incomplete understanding regarding race and equity,” Northam said. “I have learned a great deal from those discussions, and I have more to learn, but I also learned that the more I know, the more I can do.”

By Sarah Ewall-Wice
Joe Biden's presidential campaign is accusing President Trump's campaign of poaching online donors. In a fundraising email sent to supporters Thursday, the Biden campaign pointed out that if someone types "donate Joe Biden" into a Google search, the first link to appear is one that directs them to donate to Donald J. Trump for President. Here's what the search turned up Friday morning: "Trump's campaign is paying money to run ads online so that their donation link is the first thing you see when you search 'donate Joe Biden,'" the email read. "But, listen, here's the thing: We can't stop them because we're out of money to run online ads for the rest of the month." "Trump's campaign is paying money to run ads online so that their donation link is the first thing you see when you search 'donate Joe Biden,'" the email read. "But, listen, here's the thing: We can't stop them because we're out of money to run online ads for the rest of the month." While the Biden campaign is calling out President Trump's reelection campaign, it's not immediately clear who exactly is behind the ad making the Trump campaign page appear above Biden's in the search. The Trump campaign has not yet confirmed that it purchased the Google ad, which was purchased on Google's pay-per-click keyword advertising platform. The Trump campaign ad appears after a search of the specific words, "donate Joe Biden," in that order. It doesn't come up if users type "Joe Biden donate" or "donate Biden" in the search field. It's also unclear whether these efforts have affected the attempts by Biden supporters to donate to the former vice president's campaign. Because there is a host of requirements for advertisers running Google ads that mention political candidates, it seems likely that the Trump campaign is responsible for the digital ad, according to Bully Pulpit Interactive, a digital marketing and strategy firm.

By Favour Nunoo
African American Obadele Kambon has never looked back since moving to Ghana in 2008. He vowed to quit the US for West Africa after being the victim of what he believed was a racially motivated arrest. Mr Kambon has now built a successful life in the place that was once at the heart of the slave trade, and enjoys the freedom which, he says, was denied to him in the US, his birthplace. He says he no longer looks over his shoulder, worrying that police will pull him over or, worse still, kill his son. This was the a fate that befell 12-year-old Tamir Rice who, was shot dead in a park in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2014 while playing with a pellet gun that police said they thought was real. Wrongly arrested. The young boy's death sparked protests in Cleveland, and became a focal point for the Black Lives Matter movement. Mr Kambon says the turning point in his life came in 2007. He was arrested and put on trial in Chicago - where he lived - after being accused by police officers of having a loaded firearm under his car seat and intending to commit a drive-by shooting. In fact, he had an unloaded licensed gun, used earlier to secure a campsite, in his car boot.

Analysis by Nic Robertson, CNN
Biarritz, France (CNN)This weekend, Boris Johnson is making his leadership debut as on the world stage at the G7 in the French resort of Biarritz.
It is a moment the UK Prime Minister has cherished since childhood. And, in the eyes of many Brits, he has gambled the UK's future to achieve it.
Since becoming PM, Johnson has had one goal: to get the UK out of the European Union, a message he has hammered home this week in meetings with France's President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In Biarritz, he will also meet with US President Donald Trump, Japan's Shinzo Abe, and Canada's Justin Trudeau. Johnson's moment in the sun will come when, if as expected, he and Trump unveil their much-hyped steps to a post-Brexit trade deal. It will be a handy trophy of sorts, which is intended to dazzle British voters and convince them that, despite the advice of the government's own civil servants and experts, Brexit will benefit the British economy. All of which will soon be hugely important as Johnson faces a looming challenge to his leadership and a general election. While Brexit is the talk of diplomats and business leaders the world over, little mention is being made of his apparent bet on America, the presidency of Trump, and all that entails. To side with America rather than the EU, as Johnson has been showing recently, risks committing the UK to far more than Brexit. Johnson is a risk-taker: while his gamble on Trump might benefit him today, it also risks breaking Britain, splitting the four-nation Union, and potentially putting it on the wrong side of emerging geopolitical fault lines. The reasons are relatively straightforward: the world has changed a lot since the Brexit vote in 2016. Indeed it is a very different place than it was when former prime minister David Cameron promised a referendum on EU membership in 2013. However while the world has moved on, Euroskeptics have not.

By Amy Sherman
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden accused President Donald Trump of backtracking on expanding gun background checks after mass shootings in Parkland, Fla., and more recently in Texas and Ohio. In a video released Aug. 21 about Trump’s "broken promises," the Biden campaign lines up clip after clip of Trump speaking about background checks following attacks, with broadcasters and news headlines showing his reversal. The video ends with this statement: "Joe Biden has beaten the NRA twice and will do it again," a reference to a 1994 bill he moved in the Senate to ban assault weapons, which has since expired, and the Brady handgun background check bill in 1993. Generally, Biden’s highlight reel is on point: Trump did speak in favor of stronger background checks immediately following those mass shootings, only to amend his position later. It’s a challenge, though, to declare Trump’s outright position. His promises to strengthen checks are vague, lacking details about what "weaknesses" he wants strengthened. Then it seems he’s moved on from the idea, highlighting instead "very strong" requirements under current law and the mental health of shooters — only for him to mingle both positions in the same breath days later.

By Brett Molina, USA TODAY
Online retailer Overstock.com is searching for a new, permanent CEO.
On Thursday, Patrick Byrne announced he was stepping down from the top role at Overstock.com, following a bizarre statement about the "deep state" and his potential involvement in an FBI investigation. "While I believe that I did what was necessary for the good of the country, for the good of the firm, I am in the sad position of having to sever ties with Overstock.com, both as CEO and board member," wrote Byrne in a statement. In 1999, Byrne founded Overstock.com, which has since grown into a $2 billion business, according to a bio on the company's website. Here's what we know so far about Byrne's resignation: Why is he resigning? In his statement, Byrne cites his involvement in "certain government matters" for his resignation. The company statement did not elaborate on details of the government matters Byrne referenced. What's this about the 'deep state'? On August 12, Overstock.com issued a press release titled "Overstock.com CEO Comments on Deep State, Withholds Further Comment," during which Byrne said he somehow became involved in the "Clinton investigation" and the "Russian investigation" starting in 2015. He also discusses helping "the Men in Black," which he says he had done previously to help in the case of a friend who was murdered and to "shake up Wall Street" a decade ago. "Unfortunately, this third time turned out to be less about law enforcement and more about political espionage conducted against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (and to a lesser degree, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz)," Byrne said. Overstock.com’s shares fell 36% in the two days after the statement was made public.

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump claimed he has the "absolute right" to "order" US companies to stop doing business with China that would involve using his broad executive authority in a new and unprecedented way under a 1977 law.
On Friday, China unveiled a new round of retaliatory tariffs on about $75 billion worth of US goods, the latest escalation in an on-going trade war that's putting a strain on the world's two largest economies. In response, Trump wrote on Twitter later Friday: "Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China including bringing ...your companies HOME and making your products in the USA."
When leaving the White House for the G7 summit in France, Trump told reporters, "I have the absolute right to do that, but we'll see how it goes." He later explained that he was referring to the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), and in a Friday tweet wrote: "For all of the Fake News Reporters that don't have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977. Case closed!" Trump's latest comments again raise questions as to how far the President's authority goes under the IEEPA. In May, Trump threatened to slap Mexico with punitive tariffs unless it slowed the passage of migrants from Central America to the US. The IEEPA, according to the Congressional Research Service, has never been invoked to impose tariffs, and Trump ultimately drew back at the last minute. The IEEPA, passed in the wake of Watergate and Vietnam, gives Trump "broad authority to regulate a variety of economic transactions following a declaration of national emergency," according to an analysis by the CRS. Those presidential powers can be used "to deal with any unusual and extraordinary threat....to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States." Under the IEEPA, the President has to consult with Congress before invoking his authority and, after declaring a national emergency, send a report to Congress explaining why. This authority has been used frequently; there have been 54 national emergencies, 29 of which are ongoing. In the first use of the IEEPA, during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, President Jimmy Carter imposed trade sanctions against Iran, freezing Iranian assets in the US, according to CRS. Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas and a CNN legal analyst, told CNN in May that what Trump wanted to do under the law with Mexico may have been within the authority given to the White House by Congress -- though it might not have been what Congress ever intended.

By Ephrat Livni
Much is unknown about space. But one thing is sure: The laws of Earth still apply to astronauts who leave the planet’s bounds.For astronaut Anne McClain, this notion became a stark reality when she became what appears to be the first person ever to be investigated for a crime alleged to have taken place in space. McClain is a decorated NASA astronaut, and the allegations against her are unrelated to her work. She is accused, however, by her ex-wife Summer Worden, of identity theft. The alleged crime, according to Worden, took place while McClain was on a six-month mission aboard the International Space Station. Worden filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Her family lodged a similar claim with NASA’s Inspector General’s Office, and now investigators are trying to get to the bottom of this novel situation, the New York Times reports. McClain’s accusers say that she improperly accessed Worden’s bank accounts while aboard the International Space Station, using NASA technology to meddle with her ex’s finances on Earth. The astronaut acknowledges accessing the account but denies any wrongdoing. She was simply managing the couple’s finances as she had always done to ensure there were sufficient funds to pay bills and care for the boy she had been raising with Worden, she argues. No funds were moved from the account or used in any way. McClain was interviewed under oath by NASA Inspector General investigators this month and is reportedly cooperating.

By Carolyn Droke
Death Row Records, the iconic record label founded in 1991 by Suge Knight, The D.O.C., and Dr. Dre, has changed ownership. At its peak, the record label once signed iconic rappers like Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg, but after its heyday the record label became embroiled in controversies, lawsuits, and the imprisonment of co-founder Suge Knight. Death Row Records filed for bankruptcy in 2006 and was quickly picked up by an entertainment agency. But the record label’s ownership has changed hands: It is now owned by the Hasbro, the worldwide toy and board game company. The deal followed Hasbro’s acquisition of Entertainment One, which it just attained in a deal for $4 billion, according to Deadline. Hasbro’s most popular games and toys are the well-known Monopoly, G.I. Joe, Transformers, and My Little Pony. They were interested in the deal in order to gain the rights to Entertainment One’s brands like Peppa Pig, but they also ended up with the Death Row catalog as part of the purchase.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah
The Daily Show puzzles over some of Donald Trump’s most baffling attempts to explain how the world works, including his takes on 5G, windmills, trade deals and more.

In a series of frantic and lengthy cable news interviews Thursday, the just-resigned CEO of Overstock.com wove a tale of intrigue, misconduct by federal “men in black” and fear of being “ground into a dust” by a political forces who he said wanted him quiet. In interviews on Fox News, Fox Business Network and CNN, Byrne told his complicated story, casting himself as a lowly security clearance holder who provided information on alleged Russian agent Maria Butina, with whom he said he had a relationship. The extent to which Byrne’s claims are true remains an open question. “The FBI has no comment,” Bureau spokesperson Carol Cratty told TPM in an email, presented with the businessman’s claims. Byrne’s bizarrely public interjection into the Trump-Russia story began with an Aug. 12 press bulletin, “Overstock.com CEO Comments on Deep State, Withholds Further Comment.” He claimed that starting in 2015 he’d been an unwitting source of information for “political espionage conducted against Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (and to a lesser degree, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz).” In the days after the press release, Overstock’s share price plummeted. In two articles by Fox News contributor Sara Carter for which Byrne served as a source, one in July and one on the day of his Overstock press bulletin, Byrne claimed he’d had a relationship with the alleged Russian agent Maria Butina, rekindling it in mid-2016, he said, at the request of “men in black” who were aware that Butina was a foreign agent. Byrne also alleged that he had shared exculpatory information about Butina with the government, which it then withheld from Butina’s defense team. He also claimed to have told his story to the Justice Department — which he’s celebrated as having returned to “rule of law” under Attorney General Bill Barr. “I ended up in the center of the Russian and the Clinton investigations,” Byrne told Fox Business host David Asman on Aug. 12. “I have all the answers. I have been sitting on them waiting for America to get there.”

by Spencer Kimball
They brew beer, make musical instruments, publish children’s books and design headphones. Their industries are diverse, but they all have something in common: They represent American small and medium-sized businesses that rely on China either for production or essential equipment. And they are dreading President Donald Trump’s latest round of tariffs in a trade war that reached new intensity on Friday. The trade fight erupted more than a year ago, but past rounds of import duties have mostly affected parts and components that are not obvious to the average U.S. consumer. It’s this latest round that could impact everything from the craft beer you drink on the weekend to the musical instrument you play or the book your kid reads. While some industries were granted a reprieve until Dec. 15 in the midst of the holiday shopping season, others will face higher tariffs as soon as Sept. 1, just before Labor Day. Trump said on Friday that he “hereby ordered ” American companies to find an alternative to China and make their products in the United States. The president also raised the tariff rate on $300 billion of Chinese imports from 10% to 15% in response to Beijing imposing tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods. Small and medium-sized companies are now scrambling to adjust their business plans in response. ‘It’s an unjustified tax’ Adrian Sawczuk has a passion for beer. He’s been a home brewer for a decade now, so when he and his wife, Dara, decided they wanted to open a business together, a brewery was a natural fit.

By Richard Gonzales
The Trump administration is making changes to the agency that operates the nation's immigration court system, a move immediately denounced by the immigration judges' union as a power grab. The agency is called the Executive Office for Immigration Review and it is an arm of the Justice Department. Under the interim rule announced Friday, the agency's director will have the power to issue appellate decisions in immigration cases that have not been decided within an allotted timeframe. It also creates a new office of policy within EOIR to implement the administration's immigration policies. The head of the immigration judges' union accused the administration of trying to strip power away from judges and turn the immigration court system into a law enforcement agency. "In an unprecedented attempt at agency overreach to dismantle the Immigration Court, the Department of Justice, Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) today published a new interim rule, effective next Monday, which takes steps to dismantle the Immigration Court system," Judge Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said in a statement. "DOJ's action ends any transparency and assurance of independent decision making over individual cases."

They are endangering both American citizens and American ideals at large.
By Garrett Epps
I haven’t seen Justice Hans Linde in more than a decade, but I thought of him last Saturday, when I found myself locked in a science museum with frightened parents and children while neofascist thugs marched by. Hans was a child in Weimar Germany; I suspect he would have known how I was feeling. The museum was the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, in Portland. The occasion was a rally organized by the Proud Boys, an all-male group that exalts “Western values” and promotes Islamophobia. Other affiliated groups joined in—a loose conglomeration of racists, chauvinists, and just plain thugs. Some of them were connected to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, two years ago, at which a right-wing marcher drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a woman named Heather Heyer. The Proud Boys aren’t from Portland, but they have selected the Rose City as the site for their rallies, threats, and clashes with local “antifa,” or antifascist activists. The rally Saturday was nominally to demand that Portland suppress the antifa groups so that the Proud Boys can march unopposed whenever they choose. As a washed-up reporter who covered 1960s street protests, I felt the impulse to watch what happened when the Proud Boys confronted both police and a mix of local groups, some seemingly violent and others committed to overwhelming the occasion with harmless absurdity. (Some dressed as bananas, others in unicorn costumes.)

The story of William Belknap provides a way forward for Democrats.
By Garrett Epps
On July 21 and 22, 1864, Confederate soldiers under John Bell Hood went on the offensive in an attempt to blunt William T. Sherman’s advance toward Atlanta. Union artillery forces dug in behind fortifications at a place called Leggett’s Hill, east of the city. A Confederate battalion charged the hill. Encountering withering fire, many of the rebels died, and others fell back. Though their commander, Colonel Harris Lampley, was wounded as well, he refused to retreat, and loudly cursed his troops as cowards. At this point, a Union colonel jumped over the earthworks, one Iowa volunteer later recalled. The officer seized Lampley by the collar, spun him around to face his decimated rebel force, and shouted, “Look at your men! They are all dead! What are you cursing them for?” Lampley ended the day as a Union prisoner; Hood’s offensive failed, and Atlanta fell on September 2. The daring Union colonel was named William W. Belknap. By war’s end, his heroism and skill had earned him the brevet rank of major general; after the war, President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him secretary of war. In that office, he earned one ignominious distinction: He is the only Cabinet secretary in American history to be impeached.

Former narcotics officer Gerald Goines was charged with two counts of murder, while his former partner Steven Bryant was charged with tampering with a government record.
By Doha Madani and David K. Li
A former Houston police officer was charged with two counts of murder for allegedly lying to justify warrants for a January drug raid that killed two people and wounded five officers, prosecutors said Friday. Former narcotics officer Gerald Goines allegedly fabricated information in order to obtain the search warrants on the belief that suspects in a home were dealing black-tar heroin. The raid resulted in a shootout that killed the house's two occupants, Dennis Tuttle, 59, and Rhogena Nicholas, 58, and their dog. Goines was charged with two counts of murder, while his former partner Steven Bryant was charged with tampering with a government record, Harris County prosecutors said. "Under Texas law, if, during the commission of one felony, in this case tampering of a government record, a person commits an act clearly dangerous to human life ... that causes the death of another, in his case two deaths, it's first degree murder," Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg told reporters. "We call that felony murder. Today, we charged Gerald Goines with two counts of felony murder." Both men turned themselves in Friday afternoon, NBC affiliate KPRC of Houston reported. Prosecutors will ask for $250,000 bail for Goines and $100,000 for Bryant, Ogg said. Police documents say the warrant for the Harding Street home was justified by claims that a confidential informant bought heroin there and saw a weapon. Investigators trying to find that informant were given two names by Goines, who was one of the five officers wounded in the raid. Both informants denied working on that case or buying drugs at that address. Goines later admitted there was no confidential informant and he was the one who purchased the drugs, according to prosecutors.

By Jackie Smith, Port Huron Times Herald
MARYSVILLE, Mich. – A city council candidate in Marysville stunned an election forum Thursday night with racist comments that she later doubled down on when answering a question about diversity. Much of the night focused on city development and park improvements, but that thread was momentarily marred with shock following a racist statement from political newcomer Jean Cramer. “Keep Marysville a white community as much as possible,” said Cramer, one of five candidates vying for three open council seats in November. Cramer and the candidates were asked, “Do you believe the diversity of our community needs to be looked at, and if so, should we be more aggressive in attracting foreign-born citizens?” It’d come more than an hour into the forum, and Radio First Station Manager Scott Shigley, who moderated the event, had cited population growth across the Great Lakes region between 2000 and 2015, half of which he said were foreign-born residents. Cramer’s response, however, was the first of the group, and a brief guffaw fell over the council meeting room at City Hall before forum attendees heard from the other candidates. After the forum, Shigley said the question was intended to spur talk over how the city markets itself and attracts talent. Marysville is about 50 miles northeast of Detroit.

By Nina Totenberg - NPR
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has just completed three weeks of radiation treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, the U.S. Supreme Court disclosed Friday. The radiation therapy, conducted on an outpatient basis, began Aug. 5, shortly after a localized cancerous tumor was discovered on Ginsburg's pancreas. The treatment included the insertion of a stent in Ginsburg's bile duct, according to a statement issued by the court. Doctors at Sloan Kettering said further tests showed no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body. The treatment comes just months after Ginsburg was operated on for lung cancer last December. The 86-year-old justice has been treated for cancer in various forms over the past 20 years. "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg today completed a three-week course of stereotactic ablative radiation therapy at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City," a statement from the Supreme Court read. "The focused radiation treatment began on August 5 and was administered on an outpatient basis to treat a tumor on her pancreas. The abnormality was first detected after a routine blood test in early July, and a biopsy performed on July 31 at Sloan Kettering confirmed a localized malignant tumor.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - President Donald Trump has a lot of power to make things happen in this country. He can move economic markets with a single tweet. He can destroy a Republican's political career on a whim (see "Flake, Jeff"). He can declare national emergencies -- even if they aren't actual national emergencies. But being president does have its limits. The job is president, not dictator, after all. And again on Friday morning, Trump showed he doesn't totally grasp that crucial difference -- as he took to Twitter to protest $75 billion in new tariffs imposed by China. Tweeteth Trump (bolding is mine): "Our Country has lost, stupidly, Trillions of Dollars with China over many years. They have stolen our Intellectual Property at a rate of Hundreds of Billions of Dollars a year, & they want to continue. I won't let that happen! We don't need China and, frankly, would be far better off without them. The vast amounts of money made and stolen by China from the United States, year after year, for decades, will and must STOP. Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing our companies HOME and making your products in the USA. I will be responding to China's Tariffs this afternoon. This is a GREAT opportunity for the United States. Also, I am ordering all carriers, including Fed Ex, Amazon, UPS and the Post Office, to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!). Fentanyl kills 100,000 Americans a year. President Xi said this would stop - it didn't. Our Economy, because of our gains in the last 2 1/2 years, is MUCH larger than that of China. We will keep it that way!" The language Trump used sounds pretty official, right? "Hereby ordered!" It makes me think of a king reading a proclamation off of a long scroll! Here's the thing: Donald Trump can't order American business to do anything. There's a reason the business world is known as the "private sector" -- because it's not owned or controlled by the government (aka the "public sector.") We don't have state-run industry (or media). The President of the United States can't "order" privately held business to do, well, much of anything. Now, that doesn't mean that Trump can't have any influence. Every CEO will be apprised of Trump's tweets -- if they haven't already been -- and some, in an effort to cozy up to Trump or because they agree with him about the threat posed by China, will look for ways to divest in the country. But that's very different than companies having to look for alternatives to China because the President said so. They, uh, don't.

The tweets captured the president's frustration as his escalating trade war with China heightens the risk of a recession in an election year.
By CAITLIN OPRYSKO
President Donald Trump lobbed firebombs at China, U.S. companies and his handpicked Federal Reserve chief as he warned of an unspecified action against the world’s No. 2 economy coming later Friday — a reflection of Trump’s rising anxiety about an increasingly troubled economic picture at home. Trump responded with fury after taking a pair of blows Friday morning when China announced a fresh round of tariffs and Fed Chairman Jay Powell did not explicitly pledge aggressive interest rate cuts as the president has demanded. Erupting on Twitter, the president vowed a yet-to-be-announced counterattack against Beijing, ordered U.S. companies to find an alternative to doing business with China and suggested Powell could be a “bigger enemy” than the country’s communist leader. It was unclear exactly what Trump meant with his directive to the U.S. companies or whether he plans additional action to execute the order, but the tweets captured the president's frustration as his escalating trade war with China weighs on the economy and heightens the risk of a recession during an election year. "Our Country has lost, stupidly, Trillions of Dollars with China over many years. They have stolen our Intellectual Property at a rate of Hundreds of Billions of Dollars a year, & they want to continue," Trump wrote. "I won’t let that happen! We don’t need China and, frankly, would be far better off without them." He continued, "The vast amounts of money made and stolen by China from the United States, year after year, for decades, will and must STOP. Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA. I will be responding to China’s Tariffs this afternoon. This is a GREAT opportunity for the United States."

By Kathryn Watson
As President Trump departs for France to represent the U.S. at the G-7 summit of world leaders, the memories of the insults he has leveled against key U.S. allies will still be fresh, and he'll be interacting with some of those same leaders over the next few days. In recent weeks, the president has lashed out at some of the United States' steadfast friends, while offering glowing words for strongmen like North Korea's Kim Jong Un and Russia's Vladimir Putin. In recent days, Mr. Trump has revived his suggestion that Russia should be reinstated into the group of seven leaders of major advanced economies, blaming former President Obama for allowing Russia to annex Crimea. Mr. Trump sometimes suggests America's friends treat her worse than her enemies, particularly on trade, a worldview and approach to international politics that critics say sends the wrong signal to a watching world. "Our allies take advantage of us far greater than our enemies," the president told his audience at a manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania earlier this month.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN)The death of David Koch on Friday -- and the broader retreat he and his brother made from politics since the 2016 election -- brings an end (if not the end) to one of the most influential (and controversial) chapters in modern American politics. Like them or hate them -- and almost no one feels indifferently about David and Charles Koch -- it's impossible to overlook the impact they have had on our current political culture. Prior to the Koch brothers' entrance into the political space, which began in a major and concerted way with the founding of Americans for Prosperity in 2004, most outside groups were the equivalent of pop-up stores. They'd emerge from nowhere during the heat of an election -- usually a presidential one -- spend millions of dollars (from a handful of wealthy donors) and then disappear. From one election to the next, there was very little continuity in these groups and, as importantly, no repository for data collected or lessons learned. What David and Charles Koch did starting in the mid-2000s was the equivalent of building not just one permanent store but an entire block of them. In this, they were helped -- mightily -- by the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling in 2010 that allowed political actors like them to spend more freely on efforts to directly advocate for their preferred policies and politics. Rather than throwing their considerable wealth -- they are both billionaires -- at fly-by-night political operations, they built their own from scratch, with an eye not toward short-term gains but to affecting longer-term changes in the culture. So, it wasn't just a single quasi-political organization. There were think tanks to incubate libertarian ideas that the Koch favored. There were various foundations to influence public policy outside of the context of campaigns. It was a one-stop political and policy shop, a sort of shadow Republican Party but crafted in the libertarian molds of the Kochs and entirely controlled by them.

By Faith Karimi, CNN
(CNN) - In March 2016, a man claiming to be a US Army captain stationed in Syria reached out to a Japanese woman on an international site for digital pen pals. Within weeks, their relationship grew into an internet romance with the man sending daily emails in English that she translated via Google. The man who called himself Terry Garcia asked for money -- lots of it -- from the woman identified as FK in federal court documents. Over 10 months, she sent him a total of $200,000 that she borrowed from friends, her ex-husband and other relatives to make her love interest happy. But in reality, Garcia did not exist. It was all an international online scam ran by two Nigerian men in the Los Angeles area with the help of associates in their home country and other nations, federal officials say. And Thursday, US prosecutors charged 80 people -- mostly Nigerians -- in the widespread conspiracy that defrauded at least $6 million from businesses and vulnerable elderly women. Of those, 17 people have been arrested in the US so far and federal investigators are trying to track down the rest in Nigeria and other nations. "We believe this is one of the largest cases of its kind in US history," US Attorney Nick Hanna said.

By Jason Lemon
A Republican strategist on Fox News apparently thought that individuals who use marijuana inject the drug into their bodies. During a segment of the Fox News program Outnumbered on Thursday, David Avella, the president of GOPAC, discussed a new resolution put forward by San Francisco officials to refer to former prisoners as "formerly incarcerated person" or former "justice-involved" person or "returning resident" when they complete their sentences. Avella suggested that this kind of approach was somehow leading to other issues, such as people pooping in the streets of the California city. "California has tried to clear out their prisons and yet every year they continue to have overcrowded prisons," the Republican strategist said. "And the focus ought to be on a society that follows the law, not allowing people to defecate in the streets, not allowing individuals to lay on the street having just shot up with marijuana – or heroin and having a needle sticking out of them." Although it's unclear whether Avella simply misspoke or actually believes that individuals inject themselves with marijuana, some were quick to point out the gaffe on Twitter. Marijuana, also known as cannabis, is generally ingested through smoking or eating edibles that have been prepared with cannabis oil. It is not "shot up" or injected into the bloodstream.

House Democrats say a federal employee has given them evidence of "inappropriate efforts" on Trump tax audit
by Igor Derysh
A federal employee turned over “credible” evidence to House Democrats of possible “inappropriate efforts to influence” the IRS presidential audit process, House lawyers said in a court filing Tuesday. In July, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., sued Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin after the latter rejected the panel’s request for six years of Trump’s tax returns. On Tuesday, House lawyers cited the new evidence in a motion asking a federal judge to rule without trial that the Treasury Department is required by law to turn over the president’s tax returns.  The motion included a letter from Neal to Mnuchin revealing that the committee in July received an “unsolicited communication” from a federal employee “setting forth credible allegations of ‘evidence of possible misconduct’ — specifically, potential ‘inappropriate efforts to influence’ the mandatory audit program,” Politico reported. In a response two weeks later, Mnuchin rejected Neal’s request for records related to the matter and urged him to take it up with the IRS inspector general. House lawyers said in the motion Tuesday that the new evidence has heightened the need for the committee to receive Trump’s tax returns. The IRS is required to audit the president and vice president each year. Democrats argue that the new evidence requires them to see Trump’s tax returns to ensure the IRS audit process is legitimate. “The Committee needs the requested information to evaluate the integrity of the IRS’s existing program for auditing Presidents’ tax returns — a need only heightened by the Committee’s receipt of whistleblower allegations about improper influence in that program,” the attorneys said. Attorneys for Trump did not address the allegations but submitted their own filing asking the judge to delay any decision on the House motion, arguing that significant legal issues still needed to be worked out. The administration has argued the tax return request serves no legislative purpose. "All told, it took the Committee 180 days to bring this suit (and still another 49 days after that before moving for summary judgment), with little to no explanation for its leisurely pace," the Trump attorneys said in their filing. "The Committee’s purported desire to consider legislation regarding the Presidential audit process does not require that the Court suddenly bring these proceedings to a gallop." But the House filing said that the new evidence shows that “time is of the essence,” Reuters reported. Neal would not allude to what the evidence was but offered to provide it to the court.

From an ill-fated attempt to purchase Greenland to God comparisons, the past three days have been a lot.
By Aaron Rupar
President Donald Trump repeatedly threatened to release ISIS fighters in Europe as a form of punishment for countries like Germany and France; said he’s strongly considering trying to change the Constitution by executive order (it doesn’t work that way); indicated he hasn’t ruled out trying to illegally serve more than two terms; rewrote history during comments about Russia’s expulsion from the G8 that framed the situation in the most pro-Kremlin manner possible; and, despite five draft deferments, joked about giving himself the Medal of Honor. That was Wednesday. And that’s an incomplete list of all the outlandish stuff Trump said on that day alone. Any of the aforementioned statements would’ve generated major scandals coming from the mouth of any other president. But given the week Trump has been having, they arguably didn’t even make the cut of the five most WTF things he’s said since his New Jersey vacation ended on Monday. Even in the context of a presidency that has regularly veered into surreal territory, the 72-hour period from Monday through Wednesday stood out. From a silly, ill-fated attempt to purchase Greenland that turned into a diplomatic row to amplifying a conspiracy theorist who compared him with God, Trump seems to be out there more than ever before. Here’s a chronological rundown of just some of the lowlights.

WASHINGTON — Hours after Beijing said it would increase tariffs on American goods in response to President Trump’s latest round of Chinese levies, the president ordered companies in the United States to stop doing business with China and warned of additional retaliation. In a series of angry Twitter posts, Mr. Trump said “Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing our companies HOME and making your products in the USA.” The president also said he was ordering the United States Postal Service and private American companies like FedEx, Amazon and UPS to search packages from China for the opioid Fentanyl and refuse delivery.

By Mark DeCambre
U.S. stocks hit session lows on Friday as President Donald Trump appeared to mandate in a tweet that U.S. companies make their products at home and said he would hold a conference in the afternoon to discuss the matter. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -1.54% fell 500 points, or 1.9% at 25,759, the S&P 500 index SPX, -1.63% fell 2% at 2,865, while the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, -2.02% declined 2.3% lower at 7,806. Trump said "our great American companies" to "immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA." The losses erased weekly gains for the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq while the Dow was off 0.1%. The Trump statement comes after the Chinese ministry indicated that it was preparing to raise tariffs in two batches on $75 billion in U.S. imports on Sept. 1 and Dec. 15, which would coincide with the dates that the U.S. is slated to increase tariffs on some $300 billion in China goods.

By Sawsan Morrar
A doctored screenshot of a Sacramento-area high school website created a buzz on social media Thursday, and prompted an investigation by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI. The image circulating on Facebook and Snapchat of what appeared to be a screenshot of Rio Americano High School’s website was titled, “District-wide High School No Black people policy,” with additional racist slurs in the message. But the photo is fake, according to San Juan Unified School District officials, and was never on Rio Americano High School’s website.

Seventeen people arrested after unearthing of 'one of the largest cases of its kind in US history'.
US authorities have announced charges against 80 people, most of them Nigerians, in a wide-ranging fraud and money laundering operation that netted millions of dollars from victims of internet con jobs. American authorities on Thursday unsealed a 252-count grand jury indictment charging those people in an operation that procured at least $46m from victims of internet scam jobs. Seventeen people were arrested and taken into custody in Los Angeles and other cities in the United States. The investigation began in 2016 with a single bank account and one victim, said Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles office. The suspects used a variety of scams to allegedly target the elderly, individuals seeking romantic relationships, and small and large businesses, to convince them to send money online.

By Ben Gilbert
Amazon's digital marketplace sells everything from diapers to tiny homes, much to the delight of millions of customers around the world. In its effort to offer such a wide variety of items, Amazon's storefront is open to third-party sellers — and sometimes those third-party sellers offer items that wouldn't pass the muster of federal regulators. In fact, in a recent investigation from The Wall Street Journal, somewhere in the realm of 4,100 items were found for sale on Amazon's storefront that had "been declared unsafe by federal agencies."  Worse: Of those 4,100-odd items, The Journal said, "at least 2,000 listings for toys and medications" were missing standard health-risk warning labels, and at least one of the children's products tested exceeded acceptable standards for lead, which can lead to major health issues in children. Following the investigation by The Journal, Amazon altered or removed thousands of listings.

By Jason Murdock
As speculation mounts that the U.S. could soon find itself in the grips of a recession, economists warn the federal budget deficit is plotting an "unsustainable" course. The director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has said the estimate for the 2019 deficit has spiked by $63 billion since May, the month of its last projections. Long-term deficits are expected to be larger than previously projected, the office noted in a report published yesterday, as its economists confirmed that the projection of the cumulative deficit over the 2020–2029 period is now predicted to be $809 billion larger than it was in May. The federal budget deficit is the shortfall of government income, and occurs when the nation's expenses exceed its revenue. At the basic level, a recession is a sustained period of economic decline when economic activity significantly shrinks over two consecutive quarters. Federal debt held by the public is now projected to grow from 79 percent of GDP in 2019 to 95 percent in 2029, the highest level since just after World War II. By the next fiscal year, which starts October 1, the deficit will exceed £1 trillion, CBO reported. The federal budget deficit averages $1.2 trillion between 2020 and 2029 and, over the coming decade, deficits will "fluctuate between 4.4 percent and 4.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)," the CBO report notes. That figure is well above the average over the past 50 years. "The nation's fiscal outlook is challenging," said CBO director Phillip Swagel, the same day as president Trump continued to play down recession fears via his Twitter profile.

By Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY
David Koch, the billionaire businessman who built a conservative political empire with his brother Charles, died Friday at age 79, according to Koch Industries. The company said his death comes "after many years of fighting various illnesses." In a statement, Charles Koch announced his brother's death "with a heavy heart," praising his "giant personality and passion for life." "Twenty-seven years ago, David was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and given a grim prognosis of a few years to live," the statement said. "David liked to say that a combination of brilliant doctors, state-of-the-art medications and his own stubbornness kept the cancer at bay. We can all be grateful that it did, because he was able to touch so many more lives as a result." The brothers, who ran a family oil, chemical and textile conglomerate, are known for the conservative empire they funded aimed at promoting conservative policies. David Koch also made a bid as a Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate in 1980. Koch retired from his position as executive vice president of Koch Industries and was named director emeritus after reporting unspecified health issues in 2018. At the time, Charles Koch said in a statement to Koch employees that David Koch’s health had been decline since 2016. Koch also stepped down from the board of the Americans for Prosperity, a libertarian political advocacy group, in 2018. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Koch "a compassionate philanthropist, successful businessman, and a proud American."

By Marina Pitofsky
A union for immigration judges alleged that the Department of Justice sent an email to all immigration court employees that included a link to an article from a white nationalist website that “directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs,” BuzzFeed News reported Thursday. The National Association of Immigration Judges said the DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) sent court employees a link to an article from VDare, a white nationalist website, in its morning news briefing Monday that included anti-Semitic references to judges.  The emails are sent to court employees on weekdays, and they include links to news articles about immigration. The blog post in question includes reporting about the DOJ taking steps to decertify the immigration judges' union, and it allegedly includes pictures of some judges with the label “Kritarch” before their names, an anti-Semitic slur. “The post features links and content that directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs and the label ‘Kritarch.’ The reference to Kritarch in a negative tone is deeply offensive and Anti-Semitic,” union chief Ashley Tabaddor wrote in a Thursday letter to James McHenry, the director of the EOIR. “VDare’s use of the term in a pejorative manner casts Jewish history in a negative light as an Anti-Semitic trope of Jews seeking power and control,” she continued.  

"The Department of Justice condemns Anti-Semitism in the strongest terms,” the spokesperson said.
By Dareh Gregorian
The Justice Department on Thursday said an email sent to immigration court employees this week should not have included a link to a white nationalist website. The email, which included links to daily stories involving immigration news, included a link to a blog post on VDare, a white nationalist site, Buzzfeed News reported. The blog post “directly attacks sitting immigration judges with racial and ethnically tinged slurs,” the immigration judges' union complained in a letter to DOJ that was obtained by Buzzfeed. “Publication and dissemination of a white supremacist, anti-Semitic website throughout the EOIR is antithetical to the goals and ideals of the Department of Justice,” the letter said. NBC News has not independently obtained the letter or the email, but the Justice Department's Executive Office of Immigration Review acknowledged there had been a mistake.

By David Williams, CNN
(CNN) - Authorities are trying to figure out how bricks of cocaine worth more than $1 million wound up in banana shipments delivered to three grocery stores in Washington state. The drugs were found Sunday at Safeway stores in Woodinville, Bellingham and Federal Way.
Produce workers at the Woodinville store were putting the bananas out on the sales floor when they saw something strange, said Sgt. Ryan Abbott with the King County Sheriff's Office. "One of the boxes had brown paper in it, which caught their attention and then they looked further and found these bricks," Abbott said. "They called the police and we went out there and it ended up being 22 kilos of cocaine with a street value of $550,000." That's almost 50 pounds of cocaine. The cocaine was surrounded by ordinary boxes of bananas, which were stuck together for shipment, Abbott said. "We're still trying to determine where it all came from. That's under investigation. We do know it was all shipped from a central warehouse, but we don't know where it originated yet, so that's a work in progress," he said. Bellingham Police Lt. Claudia Murphy told CNN affiliate KOMO that 23 kilograms (50.7 pounds) of cocaine were found hidden in a box of bananas at a Bellingham Safeway. "I know that Safeway has been great and they went through every single box in their warehouse and all of their stores just to make sure there's no other issues," Abbott said. He said he's never heard of anything like this happening -- especially not at three stores on the same day. "We see cocaine out here, but we don't see this large amounts and we don't see it in Safeway and we don't see it in banana boxes," he said.

By Sarah Jones
“I am the chosen one,” Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday. He looked up to the heavens as he said this, CNBC reports, so perhaps he truly believes that God anointed him to win a trade war with China, which he also started. This analysis is supported by two uniquely cursed presidential tweets, which he unleashed before he spoke to reporters. In them, he quoted remarks by conservative commentator Wayne Allyn Root, who has assigned Trump a lofty and troubling designation.

By Adam K. Raymond
Last May, Rudy Giuliani threw a very public temper tantrum when he was pressured into canceling a trip to Ukraine, where he was planning to urge the incoming government to investigate Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. At the time, the Mueller Report was hot off the presses and much of America was focused on Russia’s attempts to swing the 2016 election in Donald Trump’s favor. Even Giuliani could see that the timing was not right for his efforts to push Ukraine into helping Trump in 2020. But now it is. The New York Times reports that Giuliani, who is still serving as Trump’s personal lawyer, has “renewed his push for the Ukrainian government to pursue investigations into political opponents of Mr. Trump.” The former New York City mayor has recently had conversations, over the phone and in person, with representatives of Volodymyr Zelensky, the newly elected president of Ukraine who ran on an anti-corruption message. His goal is to ensure Zelenky’s administration probes two issues that could benefit Trump’s chances to serve another term. The first issue is the Ukrainian government’s efforts to help Clinton in 2016. A Politico article from early 2017 sums up the allegations:

By Jonathan Chait
The possibility that Democrats might win the presidency and the Senate in the next election, and then actually pass some laws, is concerning enough to Mitch McConnell that the Senate majority leader is trying to talk them out of it. McConnell has an op-ed in the New York Times, a venue selected to speak to Democratic Party elites, urging them not to eliminate the Senate’s legislative filibuster. McConnell would obviously love to have the power to stymie the next Democratic agenda. Why, though, would Democrats allow McConnell to do this to them, when it lies within their power to change the Senate rules? McConnell offers several contrived explanations. First, he says Senate Democrats made a mistake by eliminating the filibuster on judges in 2013. Here he is recycling a familiar taunt. Under the Bush administration, Senate Republicans made clear that they would not permit Democrats to filibuster judicial nominations except in the most rare circumstances. Then, under the Obama administration, McConnell undertook a complete blockade of several judicial vacancies. Democrats carried out the rule change Republicans had threatened under the previous administration, eliminating the judicial filibuster and filling the slots. When Republicans regained the Senate, McConnell reimposed the blockade. He has since used his majority powers to fill the vacancies he created. McConnell’s argument is that Democrats allowed him to appoint all of these judges. “This is the legacy of the procedural avalanche Democrats set off: Justice Neil Gorsuch, Justice Brett Kavanaugh and 43 new lifetime circuit judges — the most ever at this point in a presidency,” he gloats. But if Democrats had allowed McConnell to maintain his blockade under Obama, there would have been even more judicial vacancies for McConnell to fill. And the idea that Democrats would have the power to block the vacancies is silly.

The FBI is investigating ways to prevent what it calls sextortion, when an adult coerces a minor online into sending explicit photos as blackmail. NBC’s Savannah Sellers takes a look at how authorities are trying to stop them and ways to protect your kids.

Morning Joe
Joe Scarborough: ‘Donald trump yesterday embraces the title of the King of Israel’ and ‘the second coming of God’. The Morning Joe team put together a little mash in response to Trump’s outlandish claims.

Analysis by Zachary B. Wolf, CNN
(CNN)There's been a change in President Donald Trump. He used to say he had accomplished more than any other President, a debatable claim. But now he's using messianic language about himself. "I'm the chosen one," he said Wednesday about what he claims is a singular, and still only hoped-for, trade deal with China. That was after he quoted a conspiracy theorist who described him, literally, as being like the King of Israel and said Jews "love him like the second coming of God" - -- also known as the Messiah. Then Trump joked in front of a group of veterans about giving himself the Medal of Honor -- an award that recognizes the highest levels of military valor. "Is this real life?" asked the New York Times Editorial Board on Wednesday in a piece about Trump's decision to cancel a visit to Denmark over its Prime Minister's cool reaction to his idea that the US should buy Greenland. (She was given the designation "nasty" on Wednesday, joining other prominent women who have crossed Trump.) The Times wasn't arguing that the idea of buying Greenland was a bad one but that Trump's decision to go diplomatically nuclear with Denmark -- a tiny country that has been a steady military ally -- over a perceived slight involving a real estate offer that wasn't even officially made is surreal. And that's the point. Trump's reality -- where countries can be bought and sold and where it's worth spending a day rhetorically fighting Denmark -- is different from other people's. His amazingly thin skin, his combative foreign policy, his complete rejection of diplomacy, his demand for complete loyalty all come at a very real public cost. He continues to pursue nuclear talks with a regime run by an infantile strongman with whom he feels he has a good relationship despite most diplomats saying he has enabled anti-US propaganda.

In business, Trump could paper over his bankruptcies, flops, asinine remarks, and failed cons. The presidency is different.
By Rick Wilson
At this moment, on another Earth, a man is locked in a padded cell, nodding to the gibbering chorus of voices in his head and smearing out his manifesto on the grimy walls of the asylum using a jagged fingernail and his bodily fluids. This chorus tells him things, you see. They warn him of the many hands posed to strike him, and demand revenge for every slight. They praise him, stroke his ego, and feed his rage. On this Earth, the asylum is the bedlam of 1600 Pennsylvania, the inmate is the President of the United States, and instead of managing this dangerous patient, the staff sings his praises and encourages his worst behaviors. The recognition that Donald J. Trump—President of the United States, Commander in Chief of the U.S. armed forces, leader of the Republican Party and now King of Israel and Chosen One—is, to use the psychiatric term of art, batshit crazy is dawning even on the slowest members of society. Also, that there’s not a damn thing we can do about it until November of 2020. The big cons of the first term haven’t just been embarrassing flops but concatenating failures putting our economy and security at existential risk. The tax bill blew out the debt and deficit to unimaginable depths. North Korea’s serial humiliation of Trump proved to Kim Jong Un that he could pants the President of the United States and move the DPRK closer to full nuclear capabilities to threaten our allies and even our own shores. The cruel nostalgia of Trump’s promises to restore coal, steel, and auto jobs are shattered on the altar of President Bigly Negotiator's moronic shitshow of an unwinnable trade war. The fact that he was spanked by Denmark, a country the size of Delaware, after his absurd “Buy Greenland” campaign was just one more humiliation of a President who clearly likes having his ass handed to him by bijou nations.

Jewish advocacy group IfNotNow condemns Trump: "This rhetoric from the president is going to get Jews killed"
By Jake Johnson
Progressive Jews accused President Trump of blaring "straightforward anti-Semitism" after he said from the Oval Office on Tuesday that Jewish Americans who vote for the Democratic Party are either ignorant or disloyal. The smear — which sparked widespread outrage and the trending hashtag #DisloyaltoTrump — came after Trump once again baselessly accused Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., of hating Jews and Israel. "Where has the Democratic Party gone?" Trump said. "Where have they gone where they're defending these two people over the state of Israel? I think that any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty." IfNotNow, a youth-led progressive Jewish advocacy group, quickly hit back, condemning the president for once again deploying the kind of hate-filled rhetoric that has fueled recent anti-Semitic attacks in the United States. "This is an explicit dual loyalty charge wielded by the president of the United States against 80 percent of American Jews who voted against him," the group said in a statement to Newsweek, alluding to 2018 midterm election data from the Pew Research Center. "It is not merely an anti-Semitic dog whistle — it's a bullhorn to his white nationalist base," said IfNotNow. "American Jews and Democratic voters know full well the impact of the racist policies of Netanyahu and the Israeli government on the Palestinian people. This is why an overwhelming majority ... oppose those policies, like unchecked settlement expansion."

By Ben Winck
A handful of President Trump's favorite economic indicators are turning sour less than a year after he bragged about their performance. Just 11 months ago, the administration briefed the press with several charts that showed the economy was performing well under Trump. Nearly all of the indicators now show a downward trend, with some falling just after the September briefing, New York Times reporter Jim Tankersley first wrote on Tuesday. That hasn't stopped the White House from continuing to praise the economy. Trump lauded it as "incredible" on Tuesday before revealing his administration was considering "various tax reductions" to stimulate consumer spending. The president stressed that any tax cut wouldn't represent an effort to invigorate a slowing economy.  "I've been thinking about payroll taxes for a long time," Trump said. "Whether or not we do it now, it's not being done because of recession." Here are four indicators that might suggest otherwise, and what their downward trend means for the US economy:

By QUINT FORGEY
President Donald Trump claimed to laughter on Wednesday that he sought to give himself a Medal of Honor, but decided not to after being counseled against the move by aides. The offhand remark from the president came during his address to the 75th annual national convention of American Veterans, a volunteer-led veterans service organization also known as AMVETS.  At the event in Louisville, Kentucky, Trump singled out for praise WWII veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams. “Thank you, Woody. You’re looking good, Woody. Woody’s looking good,” Trump said. “That was a big day, Medal of Honor. Nothing like the Medal of Honor,” he continued. “I wanted one, but they told me I don't qualify, Woody. I said, 'Can I give it to myself anyway?' They said, 'I don't think that's a good idea.'”

It took Trump two weeks to go from saying he wanted to do something to trying to justify doing nothing.
By Aaron Rupar
On August 7 — days after gunmen using semiautomatic weapons killed 31 people in separate shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio — President Donald Trump told reporters he intended to respond to the latest outburst of deadly gun violence with new background checks legislation. “I’m looking to do background checks,” Trump said, without providing any details. “I think we can bring up background checks like we’ve never had before ... [Congress is] getting close to a bill.” “We have to have very meaningful background checks,” he added. What a difference two weeks makes. During a Q&A session with reporters on Wednesday, Trump completely reversed himself, saying, “We already have strong background checks.” He also portrayed the National Rifle Association — which spent $30 million to elect him — as something akin to a co-equal branch of government, and echoed NRA talking points by expressing concern that any new gun control measures would be “a slippery slope.” Pressed by a reporter on how his talking point about “a slippery slope” mimics the NRA’s preferred language on gun control, he added, “No. It’s a Trump talking point ... we have a Second Amendment and our Second Amendment will remain strong.”

President Donald Trump said again he was looking "very seriously" at ending the right to citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil.
Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Wednesday he was looking “very seriously” at ending the right to citizenship for babies born to non-U.S. citizens on American soil. Trump spoke to reporters as he departed the White House for a speech in Louisville, Kentucky. He said birthright citizenship was “frankly ridiculous.” “We’re looking at it very, very seriously,” he said. This isn’t the first time Trump has claimed he’d do away with it — he said something similar in October. But the citizenship proposal would inevitably spark a longshot legal battle over whether the president can alter the long accepted understanding that the 14th Amendment grants citizenship to any child born on U.S. soil, regardless of a parent’s immigration status. James Ho, a conservative Trump-appointed federal appeals court judge, wrote in 2006, before his appointment, that birthright citizenship “is protected no less for children of undocumented persons than for descendants of Mayflower passengers.”

The decision could give a single elector the power to decide the outcome of a presidential election — if the popular vote results in an apparent Electoral College tie.
By Pete Williams
A federal appeals court ruled late Tuesday that presidential electors who cast the actual ballots for president and vice president are free to vote as they wish and cannot be required to follow the results of the popular vote in their states. The decision could give a single elector the power to decide the outcome of a presidential election — if the popular vote results in an apparent Electoral College tie. "This issue could be a ticking time bomb in our divided politics. It's not hard to imagine how a single faithless elector, voting differently than his or her state did, could swing a close presidential election," said Mark Murray, NBC News senior political editor. It hasn't been much of an issue in American political history because when an elector refuses to follow the results of a state's popular vote, the state simply throws the ballot away. But Tuesday's ruling says states cannot do that. The decision, from a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, is a victory for Micheal Baca, a Colorado Democratic elector in 2016. Under state law, he was required to cast his ballot for Hillary Clinton, who won the state's popular vote. Instead, he crossed out her name and wrote in John Kasich, a Republican and then the governor of Ohio. The secretary of state removed Baca as an elector, discarded his vote and brought in another elector who voted for Clinton. In a 2-1 decision, the appeals court said the nullification of Baca's vote was unconstitutional. When voters go to the polls in presidential races, they actually cast their votes for a slate of electors chosen by the political parties of the nominees. States are free to choose their electors however they want, Tuesday's ruling said, and can even require electors to pledge their loyalty to their political parties. But once the electors are chosen and report in December to cast their votes as members of the Electoral College, they are fulfilling a federal function, and a state's authority has ended. "The states' power to appoint electors does not include the power to remove them or nullify their votes," the court said. Because the Constitution contains no requirement for electors to follow the wishes of a political party, "the electors, once appointed, are free to vote as they choose," assuming that they cast their vote for a legally qualified candidate. - It is time to scrap the Electoral College; it no longer resent the will of the people.

By Greg Sargent - Opinion writer
A series of mass shootings carried out by deranged men animated by white nationalist ideology — along with the arrests of others allegedly hellbent on carrying out their own carnage — has raised two critical questions. First, does the Trump administration have a comprehensive plan to combat the rising threat of white supremacist and white nationalist terrorism? And second, to what degree does President Trump’s regular trafficking in racist and white nationalist language and tropes — and his tacit winking at such activity — fuel the threat? House Democrats are set to hold hearings this fall that will intensify the focus on these questions, by posing them to officials in Trump’s own administration who are grappling with the rising menace of white nationalist violence. In an interview with me, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said that Democrats are planning to bring in senior national security officials to question them about these matters.

President outdoes himself in new press conference as he attacks the Danish prime minister, Jewish Democrats and the press Donald Trump started off precisely on-message. Strolling to the end of a White House driveway on Wednesday ahead of his departure for a veterans event in Kentucky, the president began speaking while still walking toward a crowd of waiting reporters. “So the economy is doing very, very well,” he said. With fears of a recession stirring and public confidence in the health of the economy dropping for the first time in Trump’s presidency, it was a sound message to project to a skittish nation. But that was as good as it got. What followed might have swept away all previous Trumpian benchmarks for incoherence, self-aggrandizement, prevarication and rancor in a presidency that has seemed before to veer loosely along the rails of reason but may never have come quite so close to spectacularly jumping the tracks. The latest major Trump resignations and firings Over an ensuing half-hour rant, Trump trucked in antisemitic tropes, insulted the Danish prime minister, insisted he wasn’t racist, bragged about the performance of his former Apprentice reality show, denied starting a trade war with China, praised Vladimir Putin and told reporters that he, Trump, was the “Chosen One” – all within hours of referring to himself as the “King of Israel” and tweeting in all caps: “WHERE IS THE FEDERAL RESERVE?”

By Annie Palmer
Overstock CEO Partick Byrne resigned from the e-commerce company Thursday, 10 days after making comments about his role in the “deep state.” Shares of Overstock popped as much as 17% after being halted for the news. Shares were up 7% later in the afternoon. “In July I came forward to a small set of journalists regarding my involvement in certain government matters. Doing so was not my first choice, but I was reminded of the damage done to our nation for three years and felt my duty as a citizen precluded me from staying silent any longer,” Byrne said in a statement. “Though patriotic Americans are writing me in support, my presence may affect and complicate all manner of business relationships, from insurability to strategic discussions regarding our retail business.” “Thus, while I believe that I did what was necessary for the good of the country, for the good of the firm, I am in the sad position of having to sever ties with Overstock, both as CEO and board member, effective Thursday August 22,” he added. Byrne, who founded Overstock 20 years ago, has been in hot water since he responded to claims of his involvement in the federal government’s investigation into the 2016 election. The announcement sent Overstock’s shares tumbling more than 30% over the following days. In a statement titled “Overstock.com CEO Comments on Deep State, Withholds Further Comment,” Byrne referred to federal agents as the “Men in Black” and said he assisted in investigations related to the Clintons and Russian interference. In an interview with The New York Times published three days later, Byrne claimed he was romantically involved with Maria Butina, the Russian operative who used her National Rifle Association activism to infiltrate American politics. She was later sentenced to 18 months in prison.

By Yaron Steinbuch
At least eight jail staffers were aware that strict instructions had been given not to leave Jeffrey Epstein alone in his cell — but the order apparently was ignored in the 24 hours before he hanged himself, according to a report. Investigators looking into the apparent failure to follow instructions were shocked that so many Federal Bureau of Prisons staffers — including supervisors and managers — were aware of the directive, people familiar with the matter told the Washington Post. The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to identify the eight staffers. Investigators suspect that at least some of these staffers also knew that the accused sex trafficker had been left alone in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center before he died — and they are seeking to determine the extent of the knowledge, the sources told the paper. But they cautioned that the apparent failure to follow instructions does not necessarily rise to the level of criminal conduct — and could be the result of bureaucratic incompetence. The Bureau of Prisons declined to comment to the Washington Post.

By Oliver Darcy, CNN Business
New York (CNN Business) - Former White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has joined Fox News as a contributor, the network announced on Thursday. It is the latest sign of the revolving door relationship between Fox and the Trump administration. Sanders, who exited the White House in June, will make her debut before a live studio audience episode of "Fox & Friends" on September 6. She will provide political commentary across Fox News' on-air and digital properties. In a statement, Sanders praised Fox News and said she was "beyond proud" to join the network. As White House press secretary, Sanders had a tenuous relationship with the press. Under her tenure, the White House effectively eliminated the daily briefing with the press.

By Justin Wise
A Republican group is calling on a contingent of GOP senators to ensure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) allows debate on bipartisan election security legislation. Republicans for the Rule of Law on Wednesday released a series of 30-second advertisements separately targeting Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), co-sponsors of bills the group says will "help protect America’s elections." The group also targets Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee who has said that he will not bring up the legislation for a vote in committee. The advertisements are set to run almost daily on "Fox & Friends" in the senators' home states for the remainder of the August recess. The ads will also air on "Fox News Sunday" and "Meet the Press." The television spots come as part of a larger campaign from Republicans for the Rule of Law to pressure McConnell to take up election security legislation in the Senate.

“This is the last act of Epstein’s manipulation of the system, even in death,” said attorney Jennifer Freeman, who represents child sex abuse victims.
Associated Press
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The will that Jeffrey Epstein signed  just two days before his jailhouse suicide puts more than $577 million  in assets into a trust fund that could make it more difficult for his  dozens of accusers to collect damages. Estate lawyers and other experts say prying open the trust and  dividing up the financier’s riches is not going to be easy and could  take years. “This is the last act of Epstein’s manipulation of the system, even  in death,” said attorney Jennifer Freeman, who represents child sex  abuse victims. Epstein, 66, killed himself Aug. 10 in New York while awaiting trial  on federal sex trafficking charges. The discovery of the will with its  newly created 1953 Trust, named after the year of his birth, instantly  raised suspicions he did it to hide money from the many women who say he  sexually abused them when they were teenagers. By putting his fortune in a trust, he shrouded from public view the  identities of the beneficiaries, whether they be individuals,  organizations or other entities. For the women trying to collect from  his estate, the first order of business will be persuading a judge to  pierce that veil and release the details.

The Long Beach, California, police chief said the person who was arrested "had clear plans, intent and the means to carry out an act of violence."
By Phil Helsel
A mass shooting may have been prevented when a co-worker reported that a disgruntled employee had threatened to shoot other workers and customers at a California hotel, police said Wednesday. The man, who had several high-powered weapons and hundreds of rounds of ammunition at his Los Angeles-area home, was arrested Tuesday, police said. Rodolfo Montoya, 37, who was arrested at his home in nearby Huntington Beach, communicated the threat to someone he worked with at a Marriott hotel Monday evening, Long Beach Police Chief Robert G. Luna said. The chief hailed the worker who helped get police involved, saying the warning likely saved lives. "Thank God that employee decided to bring that information forward," Luna said at a news conference Wednesday. Police said they seized high-powered firearms, including one described as an assault rifle, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, 38 magazines that hold 30 rounds each and what was described as tactical gear from Montoya's home. Montoya "had clear plans, intent and the means to carry out an act of violence that may have resulted in a mass casualty incident," Luna said.

By Pamela Brown and Caroline Kelly, CNN
(CNN)Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that he had spoken with a Ukrainian official about Joe Biden's possible role in that government's dismissal of a prosecutor who investigated Biden's son. The move shows the former New York mayor is making a renewed push for the country to investigate President Donald Trump's political enemies. Giuliani, who serves as Trump's personal attorney, has long lobbied Ukraine to investigate the former vice president's call in 2016 to remove the country' top prosecutor, who at one point had been investigating a Ukrainian natural gas company connected to Biden's son, Hunter. Other Western governments also called for that prosecutor's dismissal, and no evidence has indicated Biden's move was inappropriate.
The New York Times first reported Giuliani's talks with the official. Giuliani told CNN that the State Department informed him that Andriy Yermak, who he called the lawyer for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, wanted to meet with him. Yermak was appointed as an aide to Zelensky in May, according to local media reports. The two spoke twice over the phone, with Yermak offering to come to the US to meet with Giuliani before the two agreed to meet in Madrid last month, Giuliani said. Giuliani claims that Yermak asked him questions and that he didn't ask the Ukrainian lawyer to do anything because he "didn't need to." The focus of their conversation was on Biden's possible role as then-vice president in the prosecutor's dismissal and how Ukraine may have tried to damage Trump's campaign, Giuliani said. Giuliani said he wasn't worried about how the meeting would be received. "I wouldn't do an unethical thing in my life, I'm a really good lawyer," Giuliani said. "I'm proud of what I did."

New Mexico's commissioner of public lands said she's on a mission for justice as details emerge about Jeffrey Epstein's alleged sex abuse at his ranch in the state. In an exclusive interview, she revealed her office is fully cooperating with investigators and has turned over 400 pages of Epstein's property records to investigators – documents that may contain names of his alleged co-conspirators. As investigators begin to interview women who said they were abused at Epstein's ranch, New Mexico Public Lands Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard told CBS News' Mola Lenghi she hopes taking this step will inspire more alleged victims to come forward because "there is a story to be told in New Mexico." "To say that it was heart wrenching and sickening to see this man's signature on state land office documents is an understatement," Garcia Richard said. Epstein's compound, called Zorro Ranch, partially rests on land he leased from Garcia Richard's office. As with his homes in New York, Palm Beach and the Virgin Islands, the convicted sex offender is alleged to have sexually abused young girls on the sprawling, nearly 10,000-acre property. For Garcia Richard, it's difficult to imagine what may have been happening on the New Mexico property. "They name folks that were ranch managers, and so you just kind of wonder who knew what when at the time that these activities were taking place," she said. State property records newly obtained by CBS News show that in addition to a main house, Epstein's property has a pool, firehouse, offices, a log cabin and guest house among other amenities. Garcia Richard said the property also features an airstrip, an antique railroad car and train tracks.

By Dominick Suzanne-Mayer
As food trends go, it’s difficult to argue that anything has caused a bigger sea change so far throughout 2019 than the arrival of plant-based “meats.”A-list fast-food chains have embraced the alternative options, major production companies are moving past chicken nuggets and burgers into even more complicated food replication, and the products are even finding some of their greatest success among meat-eaters. The existing substitutes from Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat have tended to be vaunted as a healthier alternative to beef. But while that may be true as it pertains to things like cholesterol (Beyond and Impossible burgers contain none) or their overall environmental impact, some are preaching caution when it comes to assessing how healthy they may be. Among them: Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, who reminded consumers in a recent CNBC interview that even a plant-based burger is still a highly processed food. Mackey, who’s kept a vegan diet for over 20 years, preached caution around the overall public perception of such products: “The [brands] who are capturing the imagination of people—and I’m not going to name these brands because I’m afraid I will be associated with the critique of it, but some of these that are extremely popular now that are taking the world by storm, if you look at the ingredients, they are super, highly processed foods.” He went on to suggest that “I don’t think eating highly processed foods is healthy. I think people thrive on eating whole foods...”—ooh, good job working that brand name in, John!

By Jordan Weissmann
Anti-Semitism is really a wonder to behold, because of how it manages to adapt to the times. Back in the good old days, the line was that Jews couldn’t be trusted because they were loyal to a foreign power. In 2019, we can’t be trusted because we’re disloyal to a foreign power. That is the viewpoint Donald Trump decided to lay out this week. On Tuesday, while talking to reporters about Israel’s decision to bar two Muslim American congresswomen, Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, he said: “I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation. Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they are defending these two people over the state of Israel? I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” At first, there was a bit of confusion over whether Trump was accusing Jewish Democrats of disloyalty to Israel or the United States. On Wednesday, he clarified. “If you vote for a Democrat, you’re being disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel,” Trump said. (About 70 percent of Jews broke for Hillary Clinton in 2016.) This is not the first time Trump voiced such sentiments, though in the past he hasn’t been quite so explicit. Speaking before a group of Jewish Republicans in April, the president referred to Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of Israel, as “your prime minister,” as if he were talking to a room full of foreigners. Nor is Trump the first right-winger to suggest that Jewish Democrats are somehow selling out their kin. The conservative writer and vlogger Ben Shapiro once memorably tweeted that, “The Jewish People has always been plagued by Bad Jews, who undermine it from within. In America, those Bad Jews largely vote Democrat.” Iowa congressman Steve King told an interviewer a few years back that he didn’t “understand how Jews in America can be Democrats first and Jewish second. ” And in the wake of the president’s comments on Tuesday, a number of supporters rushed to back him up, from his friend and lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who seemed to think that the disloyalty charge was OK because Trump was talking about Israel, to popular conspiracy theorist Wayne Allyn Root and troubled pastor Greg Locke.*

By Jared Hayes, Policy Analyst, Scott Faber, Sr. VP of Govt. Affairs, Dave Andrews, Ph.D., Sr. Scientist and Audrey Lothspeich, GIS Analyst
At least 475 industrial facilities across the nation could be discharging the toxic fluorinated compounds known as PFAS into the air and water, according to an EWG analysis of government data. EWG analyzed two online databases from the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as data from a survey by the state of New York, and identified 475 unique industrial sites that are known to produce or use PFAS, or which are suspected of using PFAS. Independent scientific research has linked low doses of some PFAS compounds to weakened childhood immunity, cancer, kidney and thyroid disease, and other serious health problems. EWG’S analysis and interactive map identifies many industrial facilities that could be discharging PFAS. Some have already been confirmed as a source of drinking water contamination, but tap water near other listed facilities may not have been tested.

By QUINT FORGEY
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday issued a forceful defense of the legislative filibuster, the Senate's 60-vote threshold that Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates have expressed a new willingness to abolish. “The legislative filibuster is directly downstream from our founding tradition. If that tradition frustrates the whims of those on the far left, it is their half-baked proposals and not the centuries-old wisdom that need retooling,” the Kentucky Republican wrote in a New York Times op-ed. “No Republican has any trouble imagining the laundry list of socialist policies that 51 Senate Democrats would happily inflict on Middle America in a filibuster-free Senate,” McConnell wrote. “In this country, radical changes face a high bar by design. It is telling that today’s left-wing activists would rather lower that bar than produce ideas that can meet it.” Some 2020 Democrats have said on the campaign trail that they would be open to killing the filibuster, with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren remarking that “everything stays on the table.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer recently echoed that sentiment when asked whether Democrats would abolish the filibuster if they reclaimed the chamber in 2020.

By NATASHA KORECKI
CHICAGO — Joe Walsh, the flame-throwing conservative radio show host and former Illinois congressman, is moving toward challenging President Donald Trump in a Republican primary, calling the president an “unfit divider in chief” and claiming the party is craving an alternative. Walsh told POLITICO on Wednesday he is confident he could secure the resources and support to mount a challenge against the president, and that if he ran, he would announce in short order. While Walsh would not confirm he would enter the primary, two sources who spoke to him said he was privately confirming he would announce his presidential bid this weekend. “If I’m to do it, it’s going to happen soon,” Walsh told POLITICO on Wednesday. “I’ve been really surprised by the amount of anxiousness from people across the spectrum who want this president to have a challenge, because there’s just a real concern that he’s absolutely unfit.” Walsh has little chance of posing a genuine threat to Trump, who’s light-years ahead in fundraising and whose favorability ratings remain strong with Republicans in poll after poll.

By Stephanie Pagones
The NYPD’s top cop spoke publicly Thursday for the first time since announcing his decision to terminate embattled Officer Daniel Pantaleo — firing back at a police union boss who called the department “rudderless and frozen.” “I have all the confidence in the world in the men and women of the NYPD, that they’ll continue to do their job,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said on “CBS This Morning.” “The reason why they took this job is to make a difference, to keep people safe,” he continued. “They didn’t do it for the sense of appreciation — they certainly didn’t do it for the amount of money they are getting paid.” O’Neill announced Monday that he would follow NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Trials Rosemarie Maldonado’s decision to fire Pantaleo for his involvement in the chokehold death of Eric Garner on July 17, 2014. He acknowledged at the time that if he were still an officer, “I’d probably be mad at me.” Later that day, Police Benevolent Association president Patrick “Paddy” Lynch furiously shot back, calling for a union “no confidence” vote in O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio.


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