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US Monthly Headline News September 2019 Page 2

Within the bureau, there’s an asymmetry that even those who seek to play by the rules cannot ignore.
By Adam Serwer - The Atlantic
Former FBI Director James Comey influenced the course of the 2016 election, investigated presidential candidates from each party, and was fired by one of them for leading an inquiry into foreign interference with American democracy. So perhaps he found the chiding he received from Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz anticlimactic. The IG’s report did not conclude that Comey broke any laws but that his “retention, handling, and dissemination of certain Memos” documenting his interactions with President Donald Trump and Trump’s efforts to influence the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election “violated Department and FBI policies, and his FBI Employment Agreement.” The Trump administration promptly and baselessly accused Comey of being a criminal. Comey, who shares Trump’s appetite for dramatic public gestures that place him at the center of public attention, demanded an apology. Comey has never apologized for his role in placing Trump in office, but—like the president—he possesses a streak of self-righteousness that precludes reflection. Nevertheless, the sanction Comey received was absurd: The IG concluded that Comey, fired by a president who was publicly seeking to cripple an investigation into a foreign hacking-and-disinformation campaign that helped put him in office, should have kept silent. That standard would not only incentivize presidential corruption, but establish that government officials who witness such corruption should not warn the public and instead adhere to a Mafialike omertà. more...

By Jessica McDonald
Just as CNN was beginning its climate town hall event, President Donald Trump tweeted a list of “8 facts” boasting of the nation’s air quality and carbon emissions reductions. Several of his “facts,” however, are inaccurate or misleading. Contrary to the president’s claims, the United States — not China — is responsible for having released more carbon pollution than any other nation. Trump also erred when he said that no Americans live in regions with air pollution above the World Health Organization’s guideline level. The president’s counterprogramming arrived minutes after the first Democratic presidential candidate took the stage to talk about climate change. CNN dedicated seven hours to the event, which gave 10 of the top-polling candidates 40 minutes each to explain how they would approach the issue as president. In his Twitter thread, Trump began with carbon emissions before moving on to some of his favorite topics, including energy production and clean air and water. more...

The Guardian - In the Emmy-nominated virtual reality project, viewers are given an immersive historical experience on the depressingly topical dangers of being black in America. The theatre has luxurious red velvet upholstered seats, grand ceilings and gilded trimmings. The rows of chairs stretch back into the ostensible blackness, with light beaming from the projector room. Ahead, archival footage of stylish black travelers pack the screen as an unseen narrator discusses the hardships of mid-20th-century black travel. Enabled by modern technology but trapped by racist social convention, their trips were eventually greatly eased by the publication of the Green Book, which listed safe spaces for black people to sleep, eat and replenish. A car gradually appears next to the stage in black and white and a Green Book institution, Washington DC’s Ben’s Chili Bowl, comes into view. The seats have dissipated into a silent, empty U Street. For the next 20 minutes, the viewer will journey through the traumatic stories lent to Emmy-nominated virtual reality documentary Traveling While Black, which discusses the agony and trepidation of a people moving through a country that has not fully accepted them. Traveling While Black is the first virtual reality project by Oscar-winning documentarian Roger Ross Williams, in collaboration with virtual reality studio Felix and Paul Studios. Glued together by the deep terror of racism, the documentary relies on a collection of interviews and poetic cinematic recreations to tell the harrowing tale of the danger that comes with having black skin. Originally developed from a play as a multimedia project, someone suggested it might take better life as virtual reality project. Even so, its initial development was rocky. “It was tough figuring out the landscape because everything is so new,” Williams said. “At one point, this piece was going to be animated. At one point, we wrote a script and were talking to actors...” But all parties agree that the story works best told through documentary film-making. “Documentaries are a lot more immediately mature as a medium of virtual reality, as a genre, as a format than fiction. We saw that this was too sensitive of a shoot to be experimenting with,” said Paul Raphael of Felix and Paul Studios. “We really wanted to do the material justice. It’s not the kind of subject you want to approach and not be respectful of.” more...

By Steven Petrow
HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. — I can only guess that, in the deep silence of the night, a small caravan of cars left Pelham, N.C., home of one of the largest Ku Klux Klan groups in the country, and drove the 40-some miles to Hillsborough, where I’ve lived for six years. They arrived in the darkest hours of Saturday morning, fulfilling their promise to return to our town after a highly visible protest on Aug. 24. Driving up and down our sleepy streets, the Klansmen left their calling cards in mailboxes and on front stoops: “The clock is ticking, Wake Up White America. Join the Klan & Save Our Land,” read one flier. “AIDS Cures Fags. Gods Laws! Have You Forgotten!” said another. The citizens of Hillsborough awoke to what one of my neighbors called a “paper bombing.” Our town was ready. By first light, the Nextdoor email group was abuzz with news of the hateful fliers as well as final details about the March for a Hate-Free Hillsborough scheduled for noon that day. The Klan’s protest the week before, replete with white robes and wizard hats, hadn’t come out of the blue. For several years now we’ve been targeted by numerous Confederate-flag-waving protests, challenging the county’s banning of “Rebel” symbols in the schools, the removal of the words “Confederate Memorial" from the history museum, as well as a town decision to limit the size of flags after an enormous and intimidating Confederate flag had been hoisted on nearby U.S. 70. Two community organizations, Hillsborough Progressives Taking Action and the Hate-Free Schools Coalition, jumped into action, creating a flier for the anti-hate march that was posted on message boards and handed out by the light of day, calling for Hillsboroughians “to organize in bold opposition to this hate, violence, and intimation.” That flier, that message, that determination to resist — these elements form the kernel of decency at the very core of Hillsborough — a diverse town of about 6,500 adjacent to Durham and Chapel Hill — and, I believe, the seeds of victory over hate. The kickoff spot was the Old Slave Cemetery, across the street from my house, which is usually deserted in early morning. Saturday was different. As my dog and I watched from the front porch, police officers and their canines swarmed the cemetery and its perimeter. They were “doing a sweep for explosives,” as one lieutenant explained to me. As a journalist, I knew what to do: get out there and report on the unfolding story. But I’m also a local and I felt a mix of fear and pride. Believe me, it was unsettling to watch that sweep, especially since Zoe, my terrier, and I walk that perimeter every day. At the same time I was proud of our community leaders who had organized a rapid-response text network that alerts citizens to anti-hate actions, and this march. more..

By Kristine Solomon
An employee working the drive-thru window at a Mississippi restaurant was fired on Monday and is no longer allowed on the business’s property after printing a derogatory name on an African American customer’s receipt. Alexia Washington said she and a friend visited Who Dat’s on Friday and placed a meal order, but what they were served disgusted them. “Something told me to look at my receipt,” Washington said, according to WMC Action News. Printed on the receipt were the words “Black b*tches in silver car.” Washington said she immediately reported the inappropriate receipt to Who Dat’s manager, who made the employee apologize. But she was still disturbed by the restaurant worker’s hateful message, so she decided to post an image of it on Facebook. “My car isn’t silver, for one,” Washington wrote in the now-deleted post. “For two, I wasn’t rude. I didn’t have any type of hostility. He didn’t have any hostility with me.” Washington went on to explain her decision to share the message on social media, saying she "wasn’t going to say anything and [was going to] give them the opportunity to do right but nothing has been done,” according to the Clarion Ledger. She claims she had requested that the employee who printed the slur on the receipt be fired, as she felt “racially ridiculed and demeaned as a African American Female.” But when her messages to the restaurant’s higher-ups seemed to be ignored, she decided to go public. more...

By Hope Schreiber
A bar in Sacramento, Calif. is under fire for implementing a new dress code that some say is discriminatory and unfairly targets African-Americans. Barwest, a popular bar and restaurant in the city's midtown area, recently posted a new dress code outside of their bar in which sweats, chains, grills, baggy clothes, “gang colors” and solid color t-shirts are banned after 10 p.m. Some critics believe that the dress code is blatantly racist, and consider it a "Modern Day 'WHITES ONLY SIGN.'" Charlene Bruce, a woman who was eating next door at another establishment, was shocked by the sign. “I’m just trying to figure out, who they’re trying not to have come to their establishment,” Bruce told CBS13. “Just say that.” Sonia Lewis, a Sacramento Black Lives Matter leader, said that the sign is disappointing, as the chapter used to hold weekly meetings at Barwest, and spoke with the staff management regarding their service to people of color. “How could they be taking steps backward was my first reaction,” Lewis told the station. “Like I said, I’m not surprised. It’s very much indicative of the midtown experience.” more...

By Faith Karimi and Sheena Jones, CNN
(CNN) - The parents of six former and current African-American students are suing a Minnesota school district in federal court over allegations of racial discrimination. In a lawsuit against the Independent School District 112, also known as Eastern Carver County Schools, the parents accused some schools in the district of failing to address multiple cases of racial bullying. The guardians and parents sued on behalf of the students, most of whom are still minors. The alleged incidents involved students at elementary, middle and high schools across the district, CNN affiliate WCCO reported. Racist bullying was so rampant, the lawsuit says, a local news story in April started with, "Chaska, it happened again. Another racially charged incident" in the school district. Chaska is a city in Carver County. By acting indifferently to repeated discrimination complaints, the school district emboldened racist behavior, the lawsuit says. more...

A new book explores the false—yet oddly ubiquitous—belief that black men fought for the South during the Civil War.
By Rebecca Onion
Spend any amount of time talking about slavery on the internet, and you’ll eventually encounter the claim that there were “black Confederates” that fought for the South. “Over the past few decades, claims to the existence of anywhere between 500 and 100,000 black Confederate soldiers, fighting in racially integrated units, have become increasingly common,” writes historian Kevin Levin in his new book, Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth. “Proponents assert that entire companies and regiments served under Robert E. Lee’s command, as well as in other theaters of war.” Look, believers say (directly or subtextually): The Confederacy can’t have been so bad for black people. Otherwise, why would they have defended it? Levin’s book explains how this myth came about—while neatly dismantling it. We spoke recently about actual Confederates’ perspectives on black soldiers; why former “body servants” attended Confederate reunions during Jim Crow; and how the World Wide Web gave this story legs.  This conversation has been edited for length and clarity. Rebecca Onion: I can see from following your Twitter that you sometimes engage with people who believe in this myth. And you’ve been researching it for a decade or so. What are the major pieces of evidence that people most often bring to you as “proof”? Kevin Levin: If you’re browsing online, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of websites dedicated to promoting this myth. And on many of them, you’ll find photographs of enslaved men in uniform, which are easily interpreted as “proof” of the existence of black Confederate soldiers. Certainly there are plenty of newspaper accounts, mainly from Northern newspapers published during the war, that seem to suggest black men were fighting as soldiers. There are photographs taken after the war of some of these former “body servants” attending Confederate veterans’ reunions and monument dedications. Sometimes you’ll hear or read references to pensions given to black Confederate “soldiers,” which in fact were for former camp slaves or “body servants.” There are some bits of evidence that are straight-up faked, like a supposed photograph of the “Louisiana Native Guard,” which is actually of black Union soldiers. But in a lot of cases it’s not about fakery, and more that the social context surrounding the evidence isn’t being considered, right? Yes. The best example is on the cover of my book, which has a photo of Andrew and Silas Chandler: two men, both in uniform, one black and one white. They both appear to be heavily armed, and what more evidence could you possibly need for the existence of one black Confederate soldier? It’s an iconic photograph, one of the most popular photographs of the Civil War. more...

The moves, which critics called undemocratic, are the latest illustration of the president's total takeover of the GOP apparatus.
Four states are poised to cancel their 2020 GOP presidential primaries and caucuses, a move that would cut off oxygen to Donald Trump’s long-shot primary challengers. Republican parties in South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona and Kansas are expected to finalize the cancellations in meetings this weekend, according to three GOP officials who are familiar with the plans. The moves are the latest illustration of Trump’s takeover of the entire Republican Party apparatus. They underscore the extent to which his allies are determined to snuff out any potential nuisance en route to his renomination — or even to deny Republican critics a platform to embarrass him. Trump advisers are quick to point out that parties of an incumbent president seeking reelection have a long history of canceling primaries and note it will save state parties money. But the president’s primary opponents, who have struggled to gain traction, are crying foul, calling it part of a broader effort to rig the contest in Trump’s favor. “Trump and his allies and the Republican National Committee are doing whatever they can do to eliminate primaries in certain states and make it very difficult for primary challengers to get on the ballot in a number of states,” said former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), who recently launched his primary campaign against the president. “It’s wrong, the RNC should be ashamed of itself, and I think it does show that Trump is afraid of a serious primary challenge because he knows his support is very soft.” “Primary elections are important, competition within parties is good, and we intend to be on the ballot in every single state no matter what the RNC and Trump allies try to do,” Walsh added. “We also intend to loudly call out this undemocratic bull on a regular basis.” Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld said in a statement, “We don’t elect presidents by acclamation in America. Donald Trump is doing his best to make the Republican Party his own personal club. Republicans deserve better.” RNC officials said they played no role in the decisions. The cancellations stem in part from months of behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the Trump campaign. Aides have worked to ensure total control of the party machinery, installing staunch loyalists at state parties while eliminating potential detractors. The aim, Trump officials have long said, is to smooth the path to the president’s renomination and ensure he doesn’t face the kind of internal opposition that hampered former President George H.W. Bush in his failed 1992 reelection campaign. more...

By Jake Tapper
(CNN) - Fox News senior White House correspondent John Roberts had just finished his 3 p.m. live shot on Thursday when President Donald Trump beckoned him into the Oval Office. The President had one argument to make, according to an internal Fox email Roberts sent about the meeting provided to CNN. "He stressed to me that forecasts for Dorian last week had Alabama in the warning cone," Roberts wrote. "He insisted that it is unfair to say Alabama was never threatened by the storm." Roberts' analysis of the meeting was that the President was "just looking for acknowledgment that he was not wrong for saying that at some point, Alabama was at risk -- even if the situation had changed by the time he issued the tweet" on Sunday morning, in which he said the state "will most likely be hit." The President also provided Roberts with graphics to make his points. Roberts referred CNN to Fox News' public relations department when asked for comment, which did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment. The White House also did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment. Trump has defended his tweet multiple times throughout the day on Twitter, repeatedly slamming the media for covering his statements and his use of an apparently altered chart showing the storm's path extending into Alabama. "Just as I said, Alabama was originally projected to be hit. The Fake News denies it!" Trump tweeted on Thursday, along with graphics from the National Weather Service from last week -- days before his tweet -- showing Alabama had a small chance of experiencing some effects from Dorian. By the time Trump tweeted, those forecasts had changed. more...

By Chris Isidore, CNN Business
New York (CNN Business) - The Justice Department has opened an antitrust investigation into four major automakers who have rejected the Trump administration's relaxed air pollution and mileage regulations. The four automakers — Ford (F), Honda (HMC), Volkswagen and BMW — agreed in July to meet the tougher standards set by the California Air Resources Board rather than the Trump administration's rules, which would roll back standards put in place under former President Barack Obama. Although the California rules would require automakers to build more costly cars, they gave the companies an advantage: The automakers would have to meet only one national standard, rather than one weaker standard for most of the country and one tougher standard for California and 13 other states that follow its rules. Those 14 states account for about 40% of the US population.
The automakers also face even tougher emission rules from overseas auto regulators, some of which would require all cars to be electrified in the future. Those rules, and predictions that customers will move toward electric vehicles, has prompted all automakers to invest in expensive research and development, including efforts to build electric cars. But the deal between the automakers and California clearly angered President Donald Trump, who lashed out at the automakers in a number of tweets last month following their deal. n a series of other tweets, he suggested Ford founder Henry Ford would be "rolling" in his grave due to the "weakness" of auto executives agreeing to California's standards. more...

By Chris Arnold
At its heart, the new Trump administration plan for the home loan market aims to change the rules for the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The two companies are the bedrock foundation for home mortgages in the U.S. The government created them decades ago to provide a federally backed guarantee on loans to ensure that money would always be available for responsible, qualified homebuyers to get mortgages. They later became largely private companies but have been under government control since the financial crisis. Now the Trump administration says it wants to make Fannie and Freddie private companies again, make changes to the backstop they provide to the mortgage market, and introduce more competition from other private companies as well. Mike Calhoun, president of the nonprofit Center for Responsible Lending, worries that such changes would drive up costs for borrowers and that the administration could impose new rules on homebuyers that would be too strict, such as requiring bigger down payments to qualify for a government-backed mortgage. "For working class Americans who want to buy a house this could make it much more difficult to get a mortgage and make the mortgage much more expensive," Calhoun says. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin argues that the plan will "protect taxpayers and help Americans who want to buy a home." He said in a statement that "an effective and efficient Federal housing finance system will also meaningfully contribute to the continued economic growth under this Administration." more...

By Yun Li
Without the temporary hiring of Census workers, the disappointing August jobs report would have been even worse. The federal government hired 25,000 temporary workers in preparation for the 2020 Census in August, giving the overall jobs gain a big bump. Nonfarm payrolls increased by 130,000 last month, which fell short of Wall Street estimates for 150,000. Employment in federal government rose by 28,000 in total in August, the Labor Department said Friday. Private-sector employment was up by only 96,000, the lowest pace since February. The weakness largely came from the retail sector, which saw a net decline in workers of 11,100 in August alone. Trade, transportation and utilities also lost 11,000 jobs, and mining and logging lost 5,000 positions. more...

By Michael Hiltzik
Republicans in Congress have never been good at hiding their intentions to gut Social Security. In recent years, GOP luminaries from Senate Majority Leader Mich McConnell of Kentucky down through Sen. Marcio Rubio of Florida and former House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin have talked about the need to slash “entitlements” because, you know, the cost of programs such as Social Security and Medicare is driving the federal deficit, leaving so little room for tax-cut handouts to the wealthy. Now Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) has added her voice to the discussion, with an added fillip. During a town hall appearance in her home state over the weekend, Ernst said members of Congress should hold discussions about Social Security “behind closed doors.” Secrecy is essential, she said, “so we’re not being scrutinized by this group or the other, and just have an open and honest conversation about what are some of the ideas that we have for maintaining Social Security in the future.” A video clip of Ernst’s appearance was unearthed and published by Democratic operatives. (The clip can be seen below.) It’s proper to note that Ernst doesn’t explicitly call for benefit cuts or privatizing Social Security. She talks fairly blandly about how “we as Congress will have to address the situation” and “to make sure that we’ve shored up that system” and about having “an open and honest conversation about what are some of the ideas that we have for maintaining Social Security in the future.” more...

By luke barr
Authorities say an American Airlines mechanic based in Miami, Florida, has been charged with allegedly sabotaging a plane's navigation system just before take off because he was upset over stalled union negotiations with the carrier. "This is extremely serious and it is being handled by the authorities in that way. It is just the equivalent of trying to shoot an airplane out of the sky and murder everyone on board. And you can't take it as any less serious than that," said ABC News Contributor and aviation analyst John Nance. "This is extremely shocking to me because it is a tremendous breach of faith against all the other mechanics who would never ever think of doing something like this. And we trust them all the time for good reason," Nance said.  The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida on Thursday charged Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani with one count of willfully damaging, destroying and disabling an aircraft. Alani has a court hearing Friday. more...

By David Jackson and John Fritze, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – In the fifth day of a flap over the path of Hurricane Dorian, the White House released a statement from a homeland security adviser who said he briefed President Donald Trump about the possibility of heavy winds in Alabama from the storm hours before the president warned the state about rough weather. The statement from Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser Peter Brown followed a daylong series of tweets from Trump amid a spiraling controversy over the president’s knowledge about the path of the storm. Trump has defended a tweet from Sunday in which he warned Alabama despite predictions that, by then, had the storm turning north. "The president's comments were based on that morning's Hurricane Dorian briefing, which included the possibility of tropical storm force winds in southeastern Alabama," Brown wrote. Throughout the day Trump insisted that "certain models" of forecasting once showed that the storm at one point could have hit Alabama, though the trajectory predicted by the National Hurricane Center had changed well before the president began talking about the threat to the state on Sunday. more...

By Kate Gibson
A growing list of retailers is asking patrons to leave their firearms behind when shopping. CVS, Walgreens and Wegmans Food Markets on Thursday joined other large chains in requesting that customers refrain from openly toting guns in their stores, even if they live in states that allow the practice.  The moves follow similar changes in "open carry" policies earlier this week by Walmart and Kroger. Walmart, the world's biggest retailer by revenue, has been under intense pressure after separate shootings that recently killed 24 people in two of its stores within a week. In announcing the shift, company CEO Doug McMillon described multiple incidents of people "attempting to make a statement" by entering a Walmart wielding firearms, scaring workers and customers. Yet the retailers seem to be walking a fine line between trying to respond to the rash of mass shootings of late while not angering customers who support gun rights, experts said, noting that the new policies stop short of outright bans on firearms in stores. more...

Priorities include recapitalizing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and ending their conservatorship. The Trump administration’s vision for housing finance reform is now much clearer. The Treasury Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, in coordination, each released plans Thursday detailing how the two agencies believe the housing finance system should be reformed. The much-anticipated plans fulfilled President Trump’s request, made back in March through a presidential memorandum, directing Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to create a blueprint for housing finance reform. The Treasury Department’s plan includes a series of 49 recommendations focused primarily on ending the conservatorship of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while still guaranteeing support for single- and multifamily lending and affordable housing initiatives. more...

“Some things in Trumplandia are inexplicable,” an exasperated Shep said Thursday.
Justin Baragona
With President Donald Trump continuing to double down on his bizarre false claim that Alabama was at one point in the path of Hurricane Dorian, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith took the president to task on Thursday afternoon for his days-long obsession of insisting he’s right over obviously inaccurate information. “Some things in Trumplandia are inexplicable,” Smith noted during Thursday’s broadcast of Shepard Smith Reporting. “The president said that Alabama was at risk from Hurricane Dorian. It wasn’t. Maybe he made a mistake. Maybe he was confused. We don’t know. But he was wrong.” Noting that the president has since spent days using “fake visual aids” to prove he was right all along, Smith then pointed out that the whole kerfuffle began on Sunday morning when the president erroneously said on Twitter (and in comments later that day) that Alabama was in danger of getting hit by the storm. “That was wrong,” Smith stated, explaining that Trump’s goof was serious enough to warrant a correction by the National Weather Service at the time. The Fox News anchor, who is known for his methodical fact-checks of the president, went on to highlight Trump’s refusal to admit his mistake which climaxed with him flashing a doctored hurricane map during a White House briefing on Wednesday. “Why would the president of the United States do this?” Smith wondered aloud. “He decries fake news that isn’t and disseminates fake news that is. Think China pays the tariffs. The wall is going up. Historic inauguration crowds. The Russia probe was a witch hunt. You need an ID to buy cereal. Noise from windmills causes cancer. It’s endless!” more...

Even West Point and schools for kids are impacted.
By Alex Ward
A National Guard readiness center in Puerto Rico. A hazardous material storage building on a US military base in Germany. A training facility for special operations forces working to deter Russia in Europe. Upgrades at the US Military Academy in West Point, New York. Those are just some of the 127 affected military construction projects that will be defunded and delayed so President Donald Trump can build roughly 175 miles of wall on the southern border. In total, construction efforts in nearly half of all 50 states — as well as 19 countries, three US territories, and some classified locations — will have their funding diverted to pay for the barrier. The Trump administration announced last February it would find $3.6 billion from previously approved military construction projects to fund the wall effort. But it wasn’t until Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s letter outlining the funding diversions was released to the public on Wednesday evening that the full scope of the financial diversion became clear. In Esper’s telling, the move will help the military better provide support to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) efforts to patrol the border. “These projects will deter illegal entry, increase the vanishing time of those illegally crossing the border, and channel migrants to ports of entry,” he wrote in a letter to Pentagon colleagues dated September 3. “In short, these barriers will allow [the Pentagon] to provide support to DHS more efficiently and effectively. In this respect, the contemplated construction projects are force multipliers.” more...

For two-plus years, the fawning vice president merely made a fool of himself. But after he stayed at Trump’s Ireland hotel, he’s much worse than that.
By Margaret Carlson
Until Vice President Mike Pence chose to stay at a Trump hotel 180 miles from where his meetings in Ireland were taking place, he fell somewhere in the middle of vice presidents: those who did so little to distinguish the office no one remembers them—Elbridge Gerry, Hannibal Hamlin, Dan Quayle—and those who did so much to disgrace the office—Calvin Coolidge, Spiro Agnew, Dick Cheney—that we can’t forget them. Pence has moved from the first category to the second, not for dismissing claims that Trump paid off a porn star as baseless. It’s because rather than impose his Bible-thumping religion, with its commandment “Thou shalt not steal” on Trump, he has let Trump corrupt him. A glance at Trivago would reveal numerous hotels smack dab in the middle of where Pence’s meetings were taking place, and yet when Trump said, according to Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short, “Why don’t you stay at my place?” he said yes.  more...

Even West Point and schools for kids are impacted.
By Alex Ward
A National Guard readiness center in Puerto Rico. A hazardous material storage building on a US military base in Germany. A training facility for special operations forces working to deter Russia in Europe. Upgrades at the US Military Academy in West Point, New York. Those are just some of the 127 affected military construction projects that will be defunded and delayed so President Donald Trump can build roughly 175 miles of wall on the southern border. In total, construction efforts in nearly half of all 50 states — as well as 19 countries, three US territories, and some classified locations — will have their funding diverted to pay for the barrier. The Trump administration announced last February it would find $3.6 billion from previously approved military construction projects to fund the wall effort. But it wasn’t until Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s letter outlining the funding diversions was released to the public on Wednesday evening that the full scope of the financial diversion became clear. In Esper’s telling, the move will help the military better provide support to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) efforts to patrol the border. “These projects will deter illegal entry, increase the vanishing time of those illegally crossing the border, and channel migrants to ports of entry,” he wrote in a letter to Pentagon colleagues dated September 3. “In short, these barriers will allow [the Pentagon] to provide support to DHS more efficiently and effectively. In this respect, the contemplated construction projects are force multipliers.” more...

Unearthed emails showed a Treasury official directing a Fox employee to use his preferred wording on a story. Democracy Forward wants the IG to see if that broke a federal law.
By Maxwell Tani
A left-leaning advocacy group is putting pressure on the U.S. Department of the Treasury to investigate whether the agency violated federal law in its interaction with conservative media outlets. Last month, advocacy group Democracy Forward released emails between Treasury officials and Fox Business Network employees after obtaining the messages through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The emails underscored the often cozy relationship that exists between Fox News or Fox Business and the Trump administration. On Tuesday, in a new letter exclusively shared with The Daily Beast, Democracy Forward called upon on the Treasury’s inspector general to look into whether some of the actions unearthed in that FOIA deep-dive violated a relatively obscure federal law prohibiting government agencies from spreading information without disclosing its origin. In a specific instance cited by Democracy Forward, a Treasury communications official directed a Fox Business Network employee to make changes to an article about a trip taken by Treasury Sec. Steve Mnuchin. The official crafted specific alterations for the article and Fox staff acquiesced to the official’s preferred headline and article text wording. While lobbying for changes in a news article is common for flacks at both government agencies and private companies, Democracy Forward argued that the emails show Treasury officials “exerting substantial influence over FBN’s coverage and raises troubling questions regarding Treasury officials’ compliance with the covert propaganda ban.” “This extremely close coordination between Treasury officials and Fox News suggests that the Trump administration may be violating federal law that prohibits government-sponsored propaganda,” Democracy Forward’s press secretary Charisma Troiano said in a statement. “This kind of cozy, behind-the-scenes interaction between government employees and members of the media raises alarm bells, and such direct intervention could be illegal.” The group also announced Tuesday that it will attempt to see if other agencies have similarly influenced coverage at right-wing outlets behind the scenes. Democracy Forward will file FOIA suits against the Department of Justice, and Health and Human Services, among others, in order to review correspondence between officials and right-leaning media outlets including Fox News, Breitbart, The Daily Caller, The Daily Wire, NewsMax, and One America News Network.

The Pentagon is taking money from 127 projects in 23 states and three territories to build Trump's long-promised wall along the southern border.
By Dareh Gregorian, Mosheh Gains and Alex Moe
President Donald Trump is building his wall, and Puerto Rico is going to pay for it. The Department of Defense released a list of 127 military construction projects that are being delayed as the agency moves $3.6 billion to pay for construction of fencing along the southern border, and the U.S. territory is one of the hardest hit by the move. The department said it was holding off on over $400 million in funding for ten construction projects on the island, including a power substation and a National Guard readiness center. A senior Defense official downplayed the potential impact of the move and noted that most of the projects on the island — which is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017 — weren't slated to begin work until Sept. 2020 at the earliest. "We don't see ourselves delaying those projects. We're fully committed to that recovery," the official said. The U.S. territory of Guam — which was threatened with a missile strike by North Korea in 2017 — is set to lose $250 million in construction projects, the agency said. The diversions also hit 23 states, with New York and New Mexico— both represented by Democrats— taking the brunt of the blow.- Why should the American taxpayer pay for the wall? What happen to Mexico paying for the wall? This is the greatest bait and switch ever pulled.

By Zachary Cohen and Ryan Browne, CNN
Washington (CNN)The Pentagon's announcement that it will divert $3.6 billion in military construction funds to help fund President Donald Trump's border wall has sparked bipartisan anger from lawmakers who learned Wednesday that their states will be impacted by the decision. Domestically, just under $1.8 billion is being shifted away from projects in 23 states and three US territories. Additionally, the Pentagon will defer more than $1.8 billion in military construction projects overseas to free up over $3.6 billion in funds for 11 wall projects on the southern border with Mexico, according to a complete list obtained by CNN Wednesday. In total, 127 domestic and overseas projects are being put on hold to help fund the wall that Trump initially promised would be paid for by Mexico. Among the sites affected are facilities used to store hazardous waste, repair Navy ships and conduct cyber operations, that had been identified as being in need of repair or additional construction. Puerto Rico was among the hardest hit of all US states and territories as it will see more than $400 million in funding for planned military construction projects diverted to the wall under the Pentagon's plan. Trump has consistently sparred with Puerto Rican officials while he's been in office following 2017's Hurricane Maria. "Most of the projects in Puerto Rico were a result of Hurricane Maria," a senior US defense official told CNN. "We've got a rebuild effort that we have ongoing here and I mentioned these projects aren't scheduled to award for more than a year. These are projects that we have on the list something we can use now and backfill, we've got time to do that." Overseas, $771 million in projects at various locations in Europe will be impacted. These projects, including airfield upgrades and staging areas in Eastern Europe, are meant to improve the defense of US allies from Russian threats. "All these projects are important to us but we also have to respond to the emergency we've been directed to respond to on the southwest border," the senior US defense official said Wednesday. - Why should the American taxpayer pay for the wall? What happen to Mexico paying for the wall? This is the greatest bait and switch ever pulled.

By Ken Meyer
A new report says that John Kelly intends to write a tell-all about his time as White House chief of staff, and it might come out faster than expected if President Donald Trump ever decides to attack him.
CNN reports that in one of Kelly’s last meetings with Trump before leaving the administration, the president asked him if he intends to write a book someday. Sources say that Kelly told Trump he did plan on writing a memoir, but would wait until Trump was no long president before he publishes. There was a catch, however: “The former general’s guarantee came in terms more reminiscent of a military ceasefire than an employee separation agreement: Kelly told Trump he would hold his fire as long as Trump didn’t attack him first.” Trump has attacked former aides who’ve criticized him after leaving his administration, and its possible that Trump would not approve of Kelly’s book if it talks about the negative turn their relationship took before they parted ways. Trump has yet to comment on the most recent statements from former Defense Secretary James Mattis, but he did recently attack Omarosa Manigault again while presenting a legal threat to Madeleine Westerhout if she keeps talking to reporters.

By Christina Zhao
After President Donald Trump displayed a map on Wednesday of Hurricane Dorian's path altered to include Alabama in the storm's trajectory, NBC political analyst Elise Jordan compared the incident to "a 13-year-old that doctors their report card." While discussing early National Weather Service forecasts of Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Trump displayed a map that appeared to have been altered with a Sharpie marker to include Alabama in the storm's trajectory. "We got lucky in Florida, very, very lucky indeed," he told reporters. "We had actually our original chart was that it was going to be hitting Florida directly... And that would have affected a lot of other states." Later, during a segment on MSNBC, host Chuck Todd discussed the doctored visual with Jordan and two other guests. "This is the part where you're just like, 'what did we disrupt?' This is the disruption you want?" Todd said, apparently in reference to the U.S. citizens who voted for Trump to disrupt Washington. "Exactly. You get the full display of President Trump's ignorance and his obstinance and his complete inability to tell the truth — and also his lack of basic geography," Jordan said. "I think that a 13-year-old who doctors their report card, their parents usually can tell. They don't do that good of a job. Actually, I'm showing my age right now, the day when we had handwritten report cards. But still." "I remember a dumb third grade version of myself trying to trace my dad's signature," Todd interrupted. "Guess what? I got caught." "You get caught. He got caught," Jordan said, referring to Trump. "This is the level that he's operating, he's not smooth and savvy enough to even not tell just absolutely ridiculous dumb lies," she added.

By Cristina Cabrera - Talking Points Memo
With the White House becoming a revolving door for staffers over the past two-and-a-half years, President Donald Trump and his remaining aides had to create a system to keep the fleeing staffers from writing embarrassing tell-alls, according to a new CNN report. CNN reported on Wednesday that the White House has several strategies to keep a departing aide with a soured relationship with Trump from running to the nearest publisher: Meet with the President to mend fences and agree not to attack each other, create a “soft landing” for the staffer, or threats of legal action. For example, Trump was reportedly privately furious at his now-ousted personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, for gossiping about his daughters to the press, even though he publicly stated that she was a “very good person” and that he “fully” forgave her. According to CNN, Trump only did so after his staffers coaxed him into allowing Westerhout to leave on good terms, and now the White House is looking to plant her somewhere else in Trumpworld. Trump also reportedly met with former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, with whom he’d been clashing for months before Kelly announced his resignation, and asked him about any potential plans to write a book on his experiences in the White House. Kelly reportedly promised not to do so — unless Trump decided to go on the offensive. If Trump’s relationship with the outgoing aide is damaged beyond repair, the White House’s fallback is the NDA Trump has employees sign, though it’s unlikely such agreements are legally enforceable.

By Mark Joseph Stern
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in 2019’s Rucho v. Common Cause was a painful setback for voting rights advocates. By a 5–4 vote, SCOTUS slammed the federal courthouse door on partisan gerrymandering claims, ruling that they cannot be brought under the U.S. Constitution. But Rucho had a silver lining in Justice Elena Kagan’s powerful dissent, which showed state judges how to kill off the practice under their own constitutions. Her dissent served as a blueprint for the North Carolina court that invalidated the state’s legislative gerrymander on Tuesday. That decision charts a path forward for opponents of political redistricting. Every state constitution protects the right to vote or participate equally in elections, and state courts can take up Kagan’s call to arms to enforce those protections under state law. The brilliance of Kagan’s dissent lay in its clarity: She laid out the precise harms inflicted by partisan gerrymandering and explained how they can be measured and remedied. Kagan identified two distinct but intertwined constitutional violations: Warped maps “reduce the weight of certain citizens’ votes,” depriving them of the ability to participate equally in elections; they also punish voters for their political expression and association. These dual injuries, Kagan concluded, implicate fundamental principles of both equal protection and freedom of speech.

By Nicholas Wu, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON – In a statement released Wednesday following controversy over Vice President Mike Pence's stay at a Trump property in Doonbeg, Ireland, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office called President Donald Trump's properties a "cesspool of corruption" and accused Trump of "prioritizing his profits over the interests of the American people." Pelosi's office singled out Pence for criticism, arguing "Pence is just the latest Republican elected official to enable President Trump’s violations of the Constitution," in reference to Pence's stay at the Trump International Golf Links and Hotel in Doonbeg during the vice president's trip there over the weekend. Pelosi's office also presented a list of alleged corruption at Trump Organization properties, which are held in a trust managed by Trump's sons Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Organization trustee Allen Weisselberg. It is unknown what degree of involvement Trump still has with the organization. According to Pelosi's office, Trump's properties violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, allow influence-peddling in government, charge American taxpayers for Trump's golf and Mar-a-Lago visits, exploit undocumented workers, and pose a potential national security risk.

3.6 million Americans will lose food stamps under a regulatory maneuver nobody in Congress likes. 1.9 million of them live in Trump country.
By Alan Pyke
President Donald Trump’s latest attack on working families will hit especially hard in the states that voted for him: More than half of the people who are set to lose access to food stamps under regulations proposed this summer live in states that went for Trump in 2016. One in every twelve people who receives food stamps nationwide will lose them under the policy — some 3.6 million people, according to new analysis by Mathematica, the private policy analysis firm the Department of Agriculture (USDA) has relied upon for the past 40 years. “I was surprised by the extent of the impact in some of the southern states, such as Texas,” Mathematica senior research programmer Sarah Lauffer said. The impact was always going to be severe in states that apply the current rules in the most generous fashion, but southern states have generally not extended their eligibility lines quite as far. Despite that, Lauffer said, her team found “34% of elderly Texans receiving benefits will lose them through this rule.” Almost 400,000 people in Texas currently receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits would lose them. Another 328,000 in Florida, 200,000 in New York, 97,000 in Georgia, and 176,000 in Washington state face cuts, to name just a few standouts. Almost one in five Wisconsin households currently getting help with their groceries will lose the benefit, as well as 16% of such households in Oregon, Nevada, Iowa, and Delaware. Two of every 13 SNAP households in Minnesota and Texas will have to find food money elsewhere. The administration plans to slash benefits by ending a popular, bipartisan policy known as broad-based categorical eligibility (BBCE). That policy protects low-wage workers from a quirk of poverty-assistance law known as the “benefits cliff,” whereby earning or saving slightly too much money can trigger a low-income family’s eviction from public assistance programs. Ending the expanded eligibility system for SNAP will also boot roughly half a million kids out of free school meal programs nationwide. The administration has insisted those kids could all hop right back in by filling out application forms currently mooted by the BBCE system, but experts have warned it doesn’t necessarily work that way. more...

By Ewan Palmer
President Donald Trump has been widely mocked after he displayed a map showing Hurricane Dorian's projected path in the Oval Office which appeared to have been altered with a marker pen to falsely show it was expected to hit Alabama. Thousands of people have tweeted using the #Sharpiegate hashtag (alluding to the famous marker pen brand) following the bizarre moment in the White House in which Trump attempted to pass off a doctored National Hurricane Center map showing Dorian's projection as genuine in order to back up his previous claims that Alabama could be affected by the powerful storm. The map, dated from August 29, has what appears to be a black marker pen line added on to show Dorian could hit south-east Alabama by Tuesday morning (September 3). When a reporter in the Oval office asked whether a Sharpie was used to add the black loop into the corner of Alabama, Trump replied, "I don't know, I don't know." The original NHC map, without the black line, is still available to view online. Social media users ridiculed Trump over #Sharpiegate, with many saying it is another example where the president has openly made false claims, exaggerated or attempted to mislead the public. "This is probably the stupidest story since his crowd size on inauguration day....And I am here for every minute of it because this thin skinned petty man can't let it go and keeps making a bigger and bigger fool of himself," wrote Travis Bone, executive producer of The Stephanie Miller Show. more...

The vice-president’s comments on Brexit while visiting Ireland and his stay at his boss’s golf course did not go down well
Missteps during Mike Pence’s visit to Ireland that included controversial praise of the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, have led to accusations of betrayal and “humiliation”. One Irish Times columnist concluded that the vice-president, a “much-anticipated visitor”, turned out to have “shat on the … carpet”. Pence’s problems started with his decision to stay for two nights at Donald Trump’s golf resort in Doonbeg, County Clare, more than 140 miles from Dublin, necessitating costly and logistically complex travel. The move quickly drew fire from ethics experts and political rivals. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, called Trump’s properties a “cesspool of corruption” and accused the president of “prioritizing his profits over the interests of the American people”. “Pence is just the latest Republican elected official to enable President Trump’s violations of the constitution,” she said. A spokesman for the vice-president said the decision was partly based on the president’s suggestion Pence stay there, and partly on secret service concerns about costs and logistics. Questioned about the decision on Wednesday, Trump claimed he had “no involvement, other than it’s a great place”. But that was only the start of the controversy. more...

By John Bacon, Eric Connor and Jordan Culver, USA TODAY
CHARLESTON, S.C. – Parts of historic Market Street were under a foot of water and gusting winds blew rain sideways Thursday as Hurricane Dorian continued its unrelenting advance on the U.S. coast, days after devastating parts of the Bahamas. Hundreds of thousands of coastal residents of the Carolinas were packing up to flee their homes or were already gone. More than 220,000 homes and businesses across the state already were without power. The historic storm, which dropped slightly to Category 2 status, was about 65 miles southeast of here at noon Thursday with maximum sustained winds at 110 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. “It is the water that kills people,” Gov. Henry McMaster said. “Water is the real danger. And it’s clear that we are going to have a lot of water.” The center warned the storm "continues to lash the coast of the Carolinas" and hurricane conditions are likely over portions of the area later Thursday. The center of the storm was forecast to move closer to the coast of South Carolina through the day and then move near or over the coast of North Carolina overnight and Friday. more...

By Donald Judd, CNN
(CNN)Pete Buttigieg said Thursday he feels "sorry for the President" after Donald Trump used an apparently altered National Weather Service map to vindicate his erroneous claim Hurricane Dorian would affect Alabama, calling the President's comments "literally pathetic." In an interview on "New Day," the Democratic presidential hopeful called the doctored map, "an embarrassing moment for our country," telling CNN's Alisyn Camerota, "I feel sorry for the President, and that is not the way we should feel about the most powerful figure in this country, somebody on whose wisdom our lives literally depend." On Wednesday, Trump displayed an outlook map with what appeared to be a storm path extended over Alabama after he had erroneously claimed multiple times over the course of the storm's development that Alabama had been in the storm's path. The claim got pushback from weather experts, including the Birmingham, Alabama, branch of the National Weather Service. "I don't know if he felt it necessary to pull out a sharpie and change the map, I don't know if one of his aides felt they had to do that to protect his ego. No matter how you cut it, this is an unbelievably sad state of affairs for our country," Buttigieg told CNN. "Look, when the presidency has been reduced to this, all of us are diminished because the presidency is supposed to be something we all look up to, even if we disagree with the President... what we're seeing there is literally pathetic," he continued. "It makes you feel a kind of pity for everybody involved, and that's not how I want to feel about a president whether it's for my party or the other." more...

Alaska may crush public sector unions by treating them like abortion clinics.
By Mark Joseph Stern
The aftershocks of the Supreme Court’s blow to organized labor continue to reverberate. Janus v. AFSCME, the court’s 2018 5–4 decision, granted public sector employees in every state a right to reap the benefits of union representation without paying for them. Backers of the litigation intended to weaken unions’ bargaining power and drive them into financial ruin. Many workers seized upon this opportunity to free-ride: After the ruling, at least 210,000 workers who previously paid fair share fees (also known as agency fees) to cover the cost of collective bargaining stopped paying a penny to their unions. AFSCME, the union at issue in Janus, lost a staggering 98 percent of its fair share fee payers. But what about public sector employees who want to retain union membership and pay dues? On Tuesday, Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson announced a plan to make it more difficult for the state’s employees to pay for union membership even if they want to. Clarkson’s scheme would place onerous new burdens on union membership in the name of free speech, using the power of the state to effectively dissuade workers from bargaining collectively. It goes so far beyond Janus that it creates First Amendment problems of its own.

By Jessica Kwong
A well-known former supporter of President Donald Trump joined in on the "Moscow Mitch" criticism of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with an open letter telling the Republican, "if you don't like this nickname, do your job." David Weissman, who also previously backed McConnell had harsh words for the senator in an open letter published Wednesday by The Times of Israel. Critics started calling McConnell "Moscow Mitch" since the leader blocked election security bills in July, despite evidence Russian interfered in the 2016 elections. Weissman's letter came a day after various Moscow Mitch hashtags trended on Twitter after McConnell complained about the nickname. "Sir, we are living in troubled times," Weissman started, and brought up racism, hate crimes, mass shootings and easy access to guns and military-style assault rifles. The Army veteran wrote that Democrats and Republicans have come up with several pieces of legislation "for common sense gun reform that majority of Americans are begging for" but that "these bills sit on you desk, ignored." "You are failing the people that elected you to act as Senator, but instead you act as [a] Russian puppet," Weissman wrote. "You have also blocked bipartisan bills that would protect elections in our country. This gives Russia more opportunities to interfere in our elections."

Trump Says Dow Would Be 10,000 Points Higher Without Trade War
By Josh Wingrove
Donald Trump said his trade war with China has hurt the performance of the U.S. stock market, but that he had to confront the country’s economic practices. “Let me tell you, if I wanted to do nothing with China, our stock market, our stock market would be 10,000 points higher than it is right now but somebody had to do this,” the president told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. “It was out of control and they were out of control.” The Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 26,332 as of about 1:00 p.m. in Washington, up less than 1 percent for the day. Trump increased tariffs on Chinese imports this week to try to elbow Beijing into resuming talks on a far-reaching trade deal. “We’ll see what happens, if they want to make a deal, they’ll make a deal, if they don’t want to make a deal, that’s fine,” he said. Trump declined to say whether Chinese negotiators will visit Washington this month. Trump has placed tariffs on some $360 billion of Chinese imports since the start of the trade war more than a year ago. On Sunday, he enacted a 15% duty on about $112 billion of Chinese products, mostly electronics and other consumer items. An existing 25% tax on about $250 billion of goods is set to rise to 30% on Oct. 1. A separate batch of about $160 billion in Chinese goods, including laptops and mobile phones, will be hit with 15% tariffs on Dec. 15 -- meaning that virtually every Chinese import will have a tariff levied on it. Trump has previously said the Dow would be 10,000 points higher if the U.S. Federal Reserve hadn’t raised interest rates last year. Trump routinely criticizes Fed Chairman Jerome Powell.

Soft-landings and Twitter shame: How the White House handles ex-aides with stories to tell
By Pamela Brown, Jeremy Diamond and Kevin Liptak, CNN
(CNN) - President Donald Trump's relationship with his chief of staff John Kelly was beyond repair when he announced last December that Kelly would be stepping down.
So before Kelly could leave, Trump asked the retired four-star general the question that often consumes him when a top aide leaves his side on bad terms: Did he plan to write a tell-all book about his time in the White House? Kelly assured Trump in one of their final Oval Office meetings that while he did plan to eventually write about his tumultuous tenure in the White House for history's sake, he wouldn't publish a book until after Trump was gone, two sources briefed on the conversation said. But the former general's guarantee came in terms more reminiscent of a military ceasefire than an employee separation agreement: Kelly told Trump he would hold his fire as long as Trump didn't attack him first. A source close to Kelly said the exchange was amicable and not contentious. Neither Kelly nor the White House responded to CNN's request for comment. Eight months later, the non-aggression pact has largely held up, but the stream of jilted aides filtering out of the White House has not abated. Now Trump is facing the departure of yet another official whose proximity to power and messy departure brings the threat of a damning tell-all account. The abrupt exit of Madeleine Westerhout, who sat outside the Oval Office for two-and-a-half years as executive assistant to the President until last week, once again sent Trump and his advisers into damage control mode as book agents and publishers began circling the waters, floating a possible six- or seven-figure book advance. "While Madeleine Westerhout has a fully enforceable confidentiality agreement, she is a very good person and I don't think there would ever be a reason to use it," Trump tweeted. "She called me yesterday to apologize, had a bad night. I fully understood and forgave her!"

Trump had erroneously stated that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama.
By Matthew Cappucci and Andrew Freedman
On Wednesday, it appears the White House attempted to retroactively justify a tweet that President Trump issued over the weekend in which he warned, erroneously, that Alabama would be affected by Hurricane Dorian. In a White House video released Wednesday, Trump displays a modified National Hurricane Center “cone of uncertainty” forecast, dated from 11 a.m. on Aug. 29, indicating Alabama would in fact be affected. The graphic appears to have been altered with a Sharpie to indicate a risk the storm would move into Alabama from Florida. “We had, actually, our original chart was that it was going to be hit — hitting Florida directly,” Trump said as he displayed the graphic from Aug. 29, which now includes an added appendage extending the cone into Alabama. “That was the original chart,” Trump said. “It could’ve, uh, was going towards the Gulf,” Trump explained in the video. Asked about the altered hurricane forecast chart at a White House event on opioids Wednesday afternoon, Trump said his briefings included a “95 percent chance probability” that Alabama would be hit. When asked whether the chart had been drawn on, Trump said: “I don’t know; I don’t know.”

The president has claimed for days Hurricane Dorian was projected to hit Alabama. Forecasters said it was not.
By Allan Smith
After days of claiming without evidence that Alabama was projected to be hit by Hurricane Dorian, President Donald Trump displayed an apparently doctored map in the Oval Office on Wednesday that showed Alabama to be within the storm's path. The map Trump displayed was the same as a model produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week showing the hurricane's projected path cutting through central Florida — with one key difference. Where the original projection ended, a smaller, black circle that appeared to be drawn in Sharpie was produced to include Alabama in the model. "We had actually our original chart that it was going to end up hitting Florida directly," Trump said, holding the map as he sat in the Oval Office Wednesday alongside Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan. "It was going to be hitting directly, that would have affected a lot of other states. But that was the original chart. It was going to hit not only Florida, Georgia, it was going toward the Gulf [of Mexico]. That was what was originally projected. And it took a right turn and ultimately, hopefully we're going to be lucky."

The case was about whether he made false statements to investigators about year-old work for Ukraine’s government.
By Andrew Prokop
Greg Craig, who served as White House counsel early in President Barack Obama’s administration, was found not guilty by a Washington, DC, jury Wednesday after a trial stemming from the Mueller investigation. Craig had been charged with making false statements in a Justice Department inquiry into whether his law firm Skadden Arps should have registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) because of its work for the Ukrainian government. His prosecution was spun off from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s extensive investigation of Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair who came under scrutiny in the Russia investigation. Craig’s trial, which lasted about three weeks, boiled down to the question of whether, back in 2013 and 2014, he tried to mislead the Justice Department about what, exactly, he did for Ukraine, in hopes that DOJ would conclude he didn’t have to register as a foreign agent. Prosecutors argued that Craig tried to mislead the government about his contacts with journalists regarding a report that his firm had put together for the Ukrainian government. Their theory was that, because admitting to doing “public relations work” — rather than just legal work — could have led to a finding that he had to register under FARA, Craig misled DOJ about his contacts with the press. The defense argued that, while Craig indeed didn’t want to register as a foreign agent, he genuinely didn’t think he needed to. Craig himself took the stand to testify that any inaccurate statements to DOJ were accidental, and that he was talking to the media for his and his firm’s interests (rather than to help Ukraine).

That doesn't sound GDPR-compliant ...
Brave, the budding privacy-focused browser with its own native cryptocurrency, has alleged that Google is using hidden web pages to feed personal data of its users to advertisers, reports Financial Times. The evidence, now in the hands of the Irish data regulator, reportedly accuses the Big G of allowing users (and their browsing habits) to be profiled, resulting in targeted advertisements. It’s claimed that these actions circumvent EU privacy regulations that demand user consent, as well as transparency from tech giants like Google. Remember: Google is Brave’s number one competitor According to Financial Times, Brave‘s chief policy officer Johnny Ryan discovered Google‘s alleged secret web pages after tracking his data as it was traded on Google‘s advertising exchange Authorized Buyers, formally known as DoubleClick. Ryan’s evidence reportedly shows Google had “labelled him with an identifying tracker that it fed to third-party companies that logged on to a hidden web page.” That web page allegedly showed no content, but contained a “unique address” that linked directly to Ryan’s browsing activity. After one hour of browsing the web using Google Chrome, the report said that Ryan found six separate pages had sent his identifier to at least eight adtech companies. Brave then reportedly commissioned an adtech analyst to reproduce Ryan’s findings. They recruited “hundreds of people” to test Google over one month. Financial Times states that investigation confirmed Google‘s alleged ‘secret web page identifiers’ were indeed unique to each user. Analysts found they had been shared with multiple advertising companies to boost the effectiveness of targeted advertising. The outlet also reported that a Google spokesperson had said: “We do not serve personalised ads or send bid requests to bidders without user consent.”

By Seth Doane
Pope Francis on Wednesday said it's an "honor" to be criticized by Catholic conservatives in the United States. He made the comments while on a 10-and-a-half hour flight from Rome to Maputo, Mozambique, where he begins a week-long tour of three African nations.  It's customary for the pope to come to the back of the plane to greet journalists traveling with him. Roughly 60 journalists are accompanying Francis on the journey and generally each one has a few moments to have an informal conversation with the pope. Usually the conversations are innocuous small talk and don't make headlines. But, on this flight, a French journalist who covers the Vatican, handed Pope Francis a book he'd written titled, "Comment L'Amérique Veut Changer de Pape" or "How America Wants to Change the Pope." The book includes criticism from conservative American Catholics who dislike Francis for issues ranging from immigration to climate change, and would like to see a new pope elected. Seneze covers the Vatican for the French Catholic newspaper La Croix.

The blundering conservative operative faces one charge of unlawfully selling securities in California.
By Will Sommer
Conservative operative Jacob Wohl is wanted on a felony arrest warrant in California, a development that could hamper his spree of bizarre, blundering political schemes. Wohl and former business partner Matthew Johnson were both charged with the unlawful sale of securities in a Riverside Superior Court criminal complaint filed on Aug. 19. Wohl has not been arrested yet on the charge, according to the court docket. Prosecutors recommended $5,000 bonds for both Wohl and Johnson. The allegation that Wohl and Johnson unlawfully sold securities centers on one of Wohl’s financial companies, Montgomery Assets. A warrant application filed by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office notes that the three-year statute of limitations on the case was set to expire at the end of August 2019, meaning prosecutors had to file by the end of last month if they wanted to pursue charges. “In 2016 Jacob Wohl and Matthew Johnson represented themselves as members of a company called Montgomery Assets,” the warrant application reads. “On July 27, 2016 through August 27, 2016 Jacob Wohl and Matthew Johnson offered for sale unqualified securities in violation of California Corporations Code 25110 which has a three year statute of limitations and must be tolled by the issuance of an arrest warrant.”

By Brian Fung, CNN Business
Washington (CNN - Business)Google has agreed to pay a record $170 million penalty to settle accusations that YouTube broke the law when it knowingly tracked and sold ads targeted to children, the Federal Trade Commission and the state of New York said Wednesday. The settlement involves the largest-ever penalty under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which YouTube allegedly violated by collecting user information from kids to fuel its behavioral advertising business. And it could affect the strategies of all creators of children's videos on YouTube, including large companies such as Mattel (MAT) and Hasbro (HAS), according to federal officials. The announcement marks the second time in two months that the FTC has slapped a big tech company with a major fine, after the commission announced a $5 billion settlement with Facebook (FB) and its privacy lapses in July. And it highlights the enormous power of digital advertising and personal data, the combination of which have made Google (GOOG) and Facebook two of the most dominant players in the marketing economy. Google's $170 million payment reflects less than 1 percent of the company's quarterly advertising revenue. "We know how important it is to provide children, families and family creators the best experience possible on YouTube and we are committed to getting it right," Google said in a blog post about the settlement. Google also said in its blog post that it will use machine learning algorithms to proactively identify children's content on the platform and that beginning in four months, data collected from all children's content will be treated as though it were coming from a child viewer.

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson posted and then deleted a tweet Wednesday morning that suggested the "power of mind" could deter Hurricane Dorian from slamming into the US. "The Bahamas, Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas...may all be in our prayers now. Millions of us seeing Dorian turn away from land is not a wacky idea; it is a creative use of the power of the mind. Two minutes of prayer, visualization, meditation for those in the way of the storm," her now-deleted post read.

By Tom Krisher, Associated Press
DETROIT – A government report says the driver of a Tesla that slammed into a firetruck near Los Angeles last year was using the car’s Autopilot system when a vehicle in front of him suddenly changed lanes and he didn’t have time to react. The National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday the driver never saw the parked firetruck and didn’t brake. Apparently the man’s 2014 Tesla Model S didn’t brake either. The report raises further questions about the effectiveness of Tesla’s system, which was in operation before several other crashes including two fatalities in Florida and one in Silicon Valley. Tesla warns drivers that the system is not fully autonomous and drivers must be ready to intervene. The NTSB report didn’t state a cause of the crash. The agency will issue a final report Wednesday. The driver in the Jan. 22, 2018, firetruck crash on Interstate 405 was not hurt. But the NTSB report says he did not have his hands on the steering wheel at the time of the crash.

By Pete Norman
Fake news and social media posts are such a threat to U.S. security that the Defense Department is launching a project to repel “large-scale, automated disinformation attacks,” as the top Republican in Congress blocks efforts to protect the integrity of elections. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants custom software that can unearth fakes hidden among more than 500,000 stories, photos, video and audio clips. If successful, the system after four years of trials may expand to detect malicious intent and prevent viral fake news from polarizing society. “A decade ago, today’s state-of-the-art would have registered as sci-fi — that’s how fast the improvements have come,” said Andrew Grotto at the Center for International Security at Stanford University. “There is no reason to think the pace of innovation will slow any time soon.” U.S. officials have been working on plans to prevent outside hackers from flooding social channels with false information ahead of the 2020 election. The drive has been hindered by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to consider election-security legislation. Critics have labeled him #MoscowMitch, saying he left the U.S. vulnerable to meddling by Russia, prompting his retort of “modern-day McCarthyism.”

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