"Where you can find almost anything with A Click A Pick!"
Go to content














US Monthly Headline News September 2019 Page 6


Byben finley, associated press
Students at Liberty University in Virginia gathered Friday to protest in the wake of news reports containing allegations that school president Jerry Falwell Jr. improperly benefited from the institution and disparaged students in emails. Students jointed together at the private evangelical university known for being an influential hub in conservative politics and held up signs calling for accountability and an investigation. Elizabeth Books, a junior majoring in politics and policy, told The Associated Press by phone that a recent Politico Magazine story as well as a Reuters report prompted the protest at the school in Lynchburg. She said about 35 students were involved while many more watched.  "I couldn't stay silent anymore," the 20-year-old said. "I would like to see President Falwell address this himself and for there to be an investigation into the allegations to see whether or not they're true." The Politico story contained allegations that Falwell "presides over a culture of self-dealing" at Liberty that has improperly benefited him and his family. The story cited unnamed sources described as current and former officials or Falwell associates. Falwell told The AP on Tuesday that he wasn't going to "dignify the lies that were reported" in the Politico piece, calling the reporter for the story a "little boy." Falwell said he would ask the FBI to investigate. He also said Liberty has hired "the meanest lawyer in New York," whom he declined to identify, to pursue civil cases. Brooks said student protesters were particularly upset about quotes of emails in the Reuters story posted Thursday in which Falwell allegedly referred to one student as "emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded." David Corry, Liberty's general counsel, told Reuters that Liberty wouldn't respond "without knowing the details or seeing email chains in their entirety." more...

Trump talked about fake tax cuts while Democrats debated how to pay for their ambitious policies.
By Aaron Rupar
While the Democratic presidential candidates debated in Houston on Thursday night about environmental policy, the role of racism in American society, health care access, and other issues, President Donald Trump gave a speech to a House Republican retreat in Baltimore. The contrast between the president and the Democrats who are vying to take his job was remarkable. Perhaps the clearest distinction came as Trump resurrected his fake middle-class tax cuts while Democrats had a detailed conversation about how to provide affordable health care to more people without dramatically raising taxes — within minutes of each other. “We’re now working on a tax cut for middle-income people that is going to be very, very inspirational,” he told House Republicans, bringing up an idea he hyped just before last November’s midterm elections, only to forget about it as soon as it came and went. “It’s going to be something that I think it’s what everybody is looking for. We’ll be announcing it sometime in the next year.” While one can pick holes in the tax plans offered by Democrats, at least they’re coherent plans. Trump, on the other hand, is offering soundbites that he thinks will play well with voters without seemingly having any intention of following through. But Trump has a long history of this sort of thing. On Tuesday, for instance, he vowed that Republicans “will always protect patients with preexisting conditions,” despite the fact that two years ago he wholeheartedly embraced health care legislation that would’ve resulted in millions of people losing coverage. Trump even mocked the late Sen. John McCain during his speech for voting against it. That was par for the course in Trump’s more than hour-long speech, during which he made a number of outlandish and self-refuting claims. He began by bragging about the move his administration made earlier in the day to repeal an Obama-era rule meant to limit pollution in America’s rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands. But a short time later, he seemed to accidentally admit that rules of that sort have helped the country’s water remain relatively clean. “The Clean Waters act didn’t give you clean waters — by the way, today we have the cleanest air, we have the cleanest water that we’ve ever had in the history of our country,” Trump said, falsely, combining two statements that directly contradict each other.  more...   

By Brett Samuels and Morgan Chalfant
President Trump on Thursday said he'd prefer to reach a full agreement with China on trade, intellectual property and other issues rather than take a piecemeal approach, but did not rule out the possibility of the latter. "I’d rather get the whole deal done," Trump told reporters as he left the White House for a GOP retreat in Baltimore. "Look, if we’re going to do the deal let’s get it done," he added. "I see a lot of analysts that are saying an interim deal, meaning we’ll do pieces of it, the easy ones first. But there’s no easy or hard. There’s a deal or there’s not a deal. "But it’s something we would consider I guess, but we’re doing very well." The response came after Bloomberg reported that some Trump advisers were mulling an interim deal that would scale back some tariffs while U.S. and Chinese officials dealt with more complex aspects of negotiations. The president on Thursday touted the stock market gains that came after he announced the previous night that he would delay an upcoming increase in tariffs on $250 billion in goods from China by two weeks at the request of Beijing, calling it a "gesture of good will." Trump said Chinese officials had asked him for the delay because Oct. 1 — the day the tariffs were set to increase — is the same day the People’s Republic of China will be marking its 70th anniversary. The tariffs will now increase on Oct. 15, Trump said. more...   

Hawks, after all, are mighty birds of prey, while doves are just smaller, weaker pigeons.
By Tina Nguyen
The terms “hawks” and “doves” might have very specific meanings in the realm of international relations—hawks tend to be for strong military action as a way to promote America’s interests and values, while doves tend to believe diplomacy and negotiation are a better way to achieve the same ends—but in the most nonmetaphorical definition, hawks are mighty birds of prey, while doves are just smaller, weaker pigeons. No surprise, then, that Donald Trump, who struggles to think figuratively, is apparently growing frustrated with the media coverage surrounding John Bolton’s ouster, which has generally described the president as less warlike than the warmongering national-security adviser he recently kicked to the curb. “You know, John wasn’t in line with what we were doing, and, actually, in some cases, he thought it was too tough what we were doing,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday. He seemed visibly agitated by the reputation that preceded Bolton: “‘Mr. Tough Guy.’ You know, ‘You have to go into Iraq.’ Going into Iraq was something that he felt very strongly about,” he explained. The appearance of a power differential continued to irk Trump into Thursday, when he felt compelled, once again, to set the story straight. “In fact, my views on Venezuela, and especially Cuba, were far stronger than those of John Bolton,” he wrote. “He was holding me back!” more...    

By Max Cohen, USA TODAY
After calling out politicians for climate inaction on "The Daily Show" this week, teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg is protesting Friday outside the White House to demand the U.S. government address the affects of climate change. The 16-year-old Swede is joined by youth activists in the protest, which marks the start of Thunberg's six-day stay in Washington, D.C. Along with dozens of other youth protesters, Thunberg chanted, "Hey hey, ho ho, climate change has got to go" as the activists marched outside the White House. The students held a variety of homemade signs, including "Make Earth cool again," "Save the ice caps" and "If you did your job, we would be in school." Just before 1 p.m., Thunberg briefly spoke to a crowd that had swelled to more than 100. “I’m so incredibly grateful for every single one of you,” she said. “Never give up. We will continue,” she said amid loud cheers. “See you next week on Sept. 20!” Next Friday, Thunberg is organizing a worldwide climate strike that encourages students to step out of class to protest. New York City Public Schools has said it will excuse absences for students joining the protest with parental consent. In August, Thunberg captured global attention when she set off from Plymouth, United Kingdom, on a zero-emissions boat voyage across the Atlantic. Thirteen days later on Aug. 24, she arrived in New York City and went on to hold a protest outside the United Nations headquarters. more...

The FDA says this is the same cancer-linked chemical found previously in blood pressure medications.
By Erika Edwards
The Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that low levels of a cancer-linked chemical have been found in samples of the heartburn medication Zantac. The chemical is an impurity called NDMA, which has been linked to an increased risk for colorectal and uterine cancers. The FDA said that low levels of NDMA were found in samples of ranitidine, a drug used to treat and prevent heartburn by reducing stomach acid. It's sold under the brand name Zantac. It's unclear where the contamination originated. NDMA is the same chemical that lead to multiple recalls of blood pressure medicines this past year. Currently, there is no recall of Zantac or any medicines that contain ranitidine. The FDA said it's still evaluating whether the levels found in antacids would pose a health risk to the millions of people who take them, and has said people should not stop taking their heartburn medicine until more is known. Health officials in Europe announced Friday they, too, are investigating NDMA contamination in ranitidine. Other heartburn drugs on the market, such as Prevacid, Nexium and Prilosec, have different ingredients and are not included in this alert. more...

This was supposed to be about preschool and neonatal home visits.
By Matthew Yglesias
Asked about the subject of slavery and reparations at Thursday night’s Democratic debate, former Vice President Joe Biden delivered an answer that confused many people, particularly his call to parents to “make sure you have the record player on at night.” Some of that criticism is simply ideological — many progressives have come around to a pro-reparations viewpoint, and Biden has not. He holds a much more traditional take on challenging disadvantage, advocating for investment in the education system. But some of the criticism reflects genuine confusion about a genuinely confusing answer. Biden did ramble, but his substantive points spoke to specific elements of his education program that are designed to ameliorate the effects of disadvantages facing poor children. It’s fairly well-established that low-income children start kindergarten already behind their more affluent peers. Whether or not you think these programs do enough to address the legacy of anti-black discrimination, they’re a pretty good idea. And whether or not you agree with Biden’s broad ideological worldview, he’s just not a very clear messenger.  more...

by Joey Garrison, USA TODAY
BOSTON — A federal judge sentenced actress Felicity Huffman to 14 days in prison in the nation's college admissions scandal, giving prosecutors a crucial win as they seek prison sentences for other parents charged in the historic case. U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani sentenced Huffman to prison time as well as a $30,000 fine, supervised release for one year and 250 hours of community service in the case's first sentencing of a parent – a defendant who is also one of the case's most famous. She was confronted in court by a prosecutor who argued for a prison term and said she had shown "disdain and contempt for the rule of law." But her legal team argued that she should not be treated "more harshly" because of her wealth and fame. Huffman also apologized again for her actions and reiterated her regrets to her family. "I take full responsibility of my actions and making amends with my crime," she said. "I will deserve whatever punishment you give me." She teared up recounting the story of how her daughter found out what she had done. "She said, 'I don't know who you are anymore, mom. Why didn't you believe in me, mom? Why didn't you think I can do it on my own?' I can only say, 'I'm sorry Sophia. I was so stupid and I was so wrong'. … I have done more damage than I could have ever imagined." About 45 minutes before the hearing, Huffman arrived with her husband, actor William H. Macy. A jostling mob of reporters and cameras focused on them as they got out of a black SUV. Wearing a black dress, she also was accompanied by her brother and an older woman, but her two daughters did not appear to be them. Prosecutors have recommended one month of prison for the former "Desperate Housewives" actress, who has admitted to paying $15,000 to have someone correct answers on the SAT exam for her oldest daughter. more...

By Amy Dobson
Most markets around the country are seeing homes sit on the market for slightly longer than usual and even former U.S. treasury secretary Larry Summers says there is a 50% chance of a recession in the next few years, so signs suggest there are most likely going to be some headwinds in housing coming soon. There isn’t a reason to panic, but it is a time to start paying closer attention to the signs of volatility. A recent analysis by Redfin looked at seven variables across all major metro areas to determine which cities would be the most at risk during the next recession. The variables include the usual suspects, like average home loan-to-value ratios, the ratio of household income to median sales prices and the historical volatility of sales prices. But researchers also looked at some of the fundamental underpinnings of a city’s economy, such as ‘diversity’ of local employment (or how many people are likely to have the same employer) and the percentage of the local economy dependent on exports. They also looked at the number of flip homes (ones sold twice within 12 months in different price tiers) and the percentage of local households headed by someone age 65 or older. The study paints a broad picture of the pieces that influence a local housing market and gives a solid indication of which cities are most at risk. Since foreclosures and short sales dominated the last recession, here are the cities in order from most to least at risk with the home loan-to-value ratios for each city. The chart on the Redfin report shows all seven variables, but for the sake of easier viewing I’m just including one variable here. more...    

By Amanda Woods
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. denigrated students and staff alike in several newly obtained emails dating back to 2008 — one in which he called a student “emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded,” according to a new report. The comments, contained in email exchanges with colleagues obtained by Reuters, range from labeling some students at the Lynchburg, Virginia, evangelical Christian university as “social misfits” to calling the school’s police chief a “half-wit.” “I talked to [name of student] today,” Falwell wrote in one email from 2010. “[He] is emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded. He is a nice kid but is an easy target for anyone who will give him a little attention. I feel sorry for [him] but he is not a leader among students.” In another, from 2011, Falwell allegedly called Ronald Sones, then the dean of the engineering school, “a bag of hot air” who “couldn’t spell the word profit.” Sones could not be reached be Reuters. He also branded campus police chief Richard Hinkley as “a half-wit and easy to manipulate” who shouldn’t be allowed to speak publicly. He, too, couldn’t be reached for comment. more...  


The tally represents the preliminary results of an Air Force review launched after POLITICO reported that an Air National Guard crew had stayed at Turnberry.
By BRYAN BENDER and NATASHA BERTRAND
The U.S. Air Force has lodged crews at President Donald Trump’s Scotland resort up to 40 times since 2015, a figure that is far higher than previously known. The tally represents the preliminary results of an Air Force review launched after POLITICO reported last week that an Air National Guard crew stayed at Turnberry in March. Congressional Democrats have also been investigating military stays at the property, but have yet to receive any information from the Pentagon. The figure does not indicate how many of the stays have occurred since Trump became president. But the Air Force has significantly ramped up its overnight stops in Scotland under Trump after signing a contract with the Prestwick Airport — situated 20-plus miles from Turnberry — in the waning months of the Obama administration. Since 2015, the service has lodged crews in the area 659 times, meaning up to 6 percent of those stays were at Turnberry. The figure also does not account for the total number of people the Air Force has put up at Trump Turnberry during those roughly 40 stays. POLITICO previously reported that Air Force crews of five to nearly 40 people have lodged at Trump's waterside property over at least four stays since September 2018. The Air Force has said the refueling stops at Prestwick — and all related overnight stays — are well within Pentagon guidelines. Prestwick frequently books the Air Force crews’ lodging at Turnberry, the airport acknowledged in a statement, and often arranges for their transportation to and from the resort. Officials have also said the Turnberry bookings fall within acceptable rates for military travel, as military members are charged a government rate as low as $130 per night. But the Air Force did concede that the appearance of staying at the president’s posh property might create a negative perception, and it has launched an internal review that will assess the “guidance associated with the use of civil airports and lodging selection for aircrew at en route locations,” according to a memo issued Monday. Still, the issue is the latest example of the intersection of Trump’s business interests and what used to be unremarkable government policies. Air Force crews have been lodging at Turnberry because of the increasing importance of Prestwick Airport for refueling military aircraft. In 2015, the Air Force made 95 stops there, lodging in the area 40 times. But through August of this year, the Air Force had made 259 stops at Prestwick, staying overnight nearby 220 times. The roughly 40 stays at Turnberry are likely to raise eyebrows among congressional Democrats, who have said the practice raises conflict-of-interest concerns and might violate the Constitution's domestic emoluments clause, which prohibits the president from receiving money from the federal government other than his salary. The House Oversight Committee has been investigating U.S. military expenditures at and around Turnberry since the spring, and has threatened to subpoena officials in an attempt to get more information from the Pentagon. more...   

By Jenni Fink
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani was praised for his handling of the attacks on September 11, 2001, but amid divorce proceedings, his wife, Judith Giuliani, criticized him for going from "hero" to "liar." After 15 years of marriage, the the Giulianis filed for divorce in April. They initially told Page Six they hoped to do it "as amicably as possible," with the former mayor saying there were problems "on both sides." However, The New York Times reported the couple's divorce has included fights over kitchen renovations, fountain pens, cigars and the dividing of their assets. They also argued over Rudy's income, which has decreased since he left a law firm to work for President Donald Trump pro bono. Now, the two have a trial date set for January and Judith told The New York Times that court was the only way she could prove his financial worth and receive what she was entitled to. "I feel betrayed by a man that I supported in every way for more than 20 years," Judith said. "I'm sad to know that the hero of 9/11 has become a liar." Rudy was first elected mayor of New York City in 1994 and was in his second term when two hijacked planes flew into the World Trade Center. As the city grappled with the developing attacks and the country watched it unfold on television, Rudy, a polarizing figure at the time, emerged as a unifying leader. "People tonight should say a prayer for the people that we have lost and be grateful that we are all here," Rudy said after the towers collapsed. "Tomorrow New York is going to be here and we are going to rebuild and we are going to be stronger from before." His actions on 9/11 earned him the title, "America's Mayor," and a spot as Time's Person of the Year in 2001. more...   

By Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, CNN
(CNN) - House Democrats who won Republican districts in 2018 are pushing back on the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment investigation effort, arguing that pursuing impeachment is a mistake and that they would vote against it. The resistance from Democrats in Republican-leaning districts comes as impeachment advocates hailed Thursday's Judiciary Committee's vote to formalize the rules of its investigation, and it helps explain why House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has avoided labeling the committee's probe as an impeachment inquiry. "The truth is impeachment will only tear our country further apart and we will see no progress on the enormous challenges we face as a nation," Rep. Max Rose, a New York Democrat, wrote Friday in an op-ed in the Staten Island Advance. "Impeachment will not fix our roads and bridges or lower the costs of drugs. Impeachment will not keep our kids safe from gun violence or end the opioid epidemic." The question of impeachment has swirled around House Democrats since they returned to Washington this week from a six-week recess, with the committee's vote prompting confusion and frustration over the question of whether the committee was conducting an impeachment inquiry.  House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, also a Democrat from New York, and other committee members said the panel was doing just that, but Pelosi and other Democratic leaders resisted labeling the investigation as more than the oversight that Democrats have been conducting since they took control of the House in January. The rhetorical divisions represented the larger split among Democrats on whether it is wise to pursue impeachment ahead of the 2020 election. While liberal Democrats are pushing for impeachment proceedings, frontline Democrats remain Rose are opposed to such efforts. There are 135 House Democrats who have publicly supported an impeachment inquiry, according to CNN's tally. A CNN analysis shows those Democrats represent districts won by Hillary Clinton by an average of 35 points, while the districts of those who have not come out for an impeachment inquiry shrinks to a margin of just 18 points. Freshmen Democrats on both sides of the impeachment inquiry question heard a range of opinions about the issue from their constituents while they were back in their districts during the August recess. Judiciary Committee Democrats say they are not yet going forward with impeachment, and the steps they are taking in the investigation are necessary to ultimately decide whether to introduce articles against the President. more...   

By Brett Samuels
A federal appeals court in New York on Friday ruled that a lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the Emoluments Clause can proceed after a lower court had thrown out the case. A panel of judges with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 in favor of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which has alleged that the president violated the constitutional clause by refusing to put his business assets in a blind trust while in office and profiting off the presidency. But the case had been dismissed by a lower court in December 2017. "Plaintiffs have plausibly pleaded that the President’s ownership of hospitality businesses that compete with them will induce government patrons of the hospitality industry to favor Trump businesses over those of the Plaintiffs so as to secure favorable governmental action from the President and Executive branch," Judge Pierre Leval wrote in the decision. CREW welcomed the reinstatement of the case. "If President Trump would like to avoid the case going further and curtail the serious harms caused by his unconstitutional conduct, now would be a good time to divest from his businesses and end his violations of the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution," Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in a statement. The ruling revives yet another lawsuit for Trump to defend against. He is also warding off legal challenges involving his tax returns, and his administration is facing numerous legal challenges of its policies on immigration, health care and other topics. Watchdogs have raised concerns about the president's decision not to put his company in a blind trust, noting that lobbyists, foreign officials and political insiders may frequent his businesses to earn favor with the administration. The issue has gained new urgency as lawmakers and watchdogs raise concerns about government officials' use of Trump properties. The president last month suggested he may host world leaders at next year's Group of Seven (G-7) summit at his Doral resort near Miami, and the Air Force is looking into its pilots habit of staying at Trump's property in Turnberry, Scotland, while refueling. more...

Andrew Chung, Jan Wolfe
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. federal appeals court on Friday revived a lawsuit alleging President Donald Trump violated the U.S. Constitution by profiting from foreign and domestic officials who patronized his hotels and restaurants, adding to the corruption claims against Trump. The New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set aside a lower court ruling that had thrown out the case because the people who sued could not prove they were harmed by Trump’s actions and his role as president. Friday’s ruling dealt with preliminary questions relating to whether the case should be heard, without directly addressing whether Trump violated the law. The lawsuit, initially filed by plaintiffs including the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, accused the Republican president of failing to disentangle himself from his hotels and other businesses, making him vulnerable to inducements by officials seeking to curry favor. The case alleged violations of the U.S. Constitution’s anti-corruption “emoluments” provisions, which ban the president from accepting gifts or payments from foreign governments without congressional consent. A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Trump, a wealthy real estate developer who as president regularly visits his own hotels, resorts and golf clubs, maintains ownership of his businesses but has ceded day-to-day control to his sons. Critics have said that is not a sufficient safeguard. Friday’s ruling comes in a lawsuit filed days after Trump took office in January 2017. The plaintiffs included a New York hotel owner, an events booker in Washington and a restaurant trade group that allege lost patronage, wages and commissions from clients who now prefer Trump’s businesses over theirs because of the ability to gain the president’s favor. The plaintiffs cite examples of foreign government entities, including the Embassy of Kuwait and a delegation from Malaysia, choosing Trump’s properties, such as the Trump International Hotel in Washington, over other venues. more...    

By Elliot Hannon
Beto O’Rourke was uniquely outspoken in his calls for gun control during Thursday night’s Democratic debate in Houston, Texas. The former Texas congressman, whose hometown of El Paso recently was the victim of a mass shooting at a Walmart, was asked if he’d take away assault-style weapons that are often used in mass shootings. “Hell yes,” O’Rourke responded. “We’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against a fellow American anymore.” It seemed inevitable that O’Rourke’s call to ban ownership of military-style weapons would rile up the guns=distilled liberty true believers online, but it was, perhaps predictably, an elected Republican official—from the state of Texas no less—that led the way over the cliff. Texas state Rep. Briscoe Cain tweeted a not-so-thinly veiled threat at the presidential contender, tweeting “My AR is ready for you Robert Francis,” calling O’Rourke, whose nickname is Beto, by his first and middle names. more...   


By Alexandra Hutzler
Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe said Donald Trump will have to "face the music" after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Friday revived a lawsuit alleging the president is violating the Constitution with his business entanglements. The three-judge panel ruled 2 to 1 to throw out a lower court ruling dismissing the lawsuit, sending the case back for further proceedings. The lawsuit argues that Trump failed to comply with the Constitution's emoluments clause by profiting from domestic and foreign officials who visit his hotels and restaurants. The plaintiffs in the case cite several examples of foreign government officials, like the Embassy of Kuwait, choosing to stay at Trump's properties over other venues while visiting the U.S. "It seems to me that now we're really cooking with gas in terms of holding the president's feet to the fire of the emoluments clause," Tribe told Newsweek on Friday shortly after the court's decision. Tribe is part of the legal team suing the president. The case was originally filed by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and other private groups. "This is certainly impeachable conduct of the sort that this president has engaged in from the very beginning," Tribe added. "He basically now has to face the music and I think that's terrific." CREW also applauded the court's decision to reinstate the case and said if the president wants to avoid the case going further he should divest from his business. Trump is the only president in modern history not to give up his business ties upon entering the Oval Office. "We never wanted to be in a position where it would be necessary to go to court to compel the President of the United States to follow the Constitution," Noah Bookbinder, CREW's executive director, said in a statement. "However, President Trump left us no choice, and we will proudly fight as long as needed to ensure Americans are represented by an ethical government under the rule of law." more...   

By Chantal Da Silva
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has accidentally revealed the whereabouts of a future "urban warfare" training facility that is expected to include "hyper-realistic" simulations of homes, hotels and commercial buildings in Chicago and Arizona. On Tuesday, ICE published an acquisition form for the procurement of "hyper-realistic training devices" for a new training facility for its expanding Special Response Team (SRT) program on the Federal Business Opportunities (FBO) website. The immigration agency had sought to redact the location of the new training facility, but failed to do so properly. The agency, which has made this kind of mistake previously, appears to have a systemic information-security problem. In this case, Newsweek was able to simply copy and paste the document's contents into a word processor and quickly establish that the facility would be built at the Office of Firearms and Tactical Programs' (OFTP) Tactical Operations Complex (TOC) at Fort Benning, Georgia, a U.S. Army post used to prepare soldiers for combat. In addition to revealing Fort Benning as the location of the training site, ICE also failed to properly redact information indicating that the Army post would be getting an expansion, with up to 50 buildings expected to be added to the site. "A Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) vehicle will be competed among GSA Federal Supply Schedule holders for additional training buildings and interior/exterior outfitting in the first quarter of Fiscal Year 20," ICE states in a portion it did not attempt to redact from the document. In a following partially redacted line, it states: "OFTP plans to expand the Training Site at Ft. Benning to include up to 50 additional buildings and add additional U.S. city layouts and designs." Throughout the document, areas that were meant to be withheld were not redacted properly, including signature lines at the bottom of the document. Instead of names, these would-be redacted lines contain what appears to be placeholders, such as "ijunynyhhjhjhjjjjjjj," "hnjumgfrdddfffffff" and "BHMKKOOOOOO." more...

By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration is moving forward with a plan to revoke California’s authority to set its own vehicle greenhouse gas standards and declare that states are pre-empted from setting their own vehicle rules, three people briefed on the matter said on Thursday. President Donald Trump met with senior officials on Thursday at the White House to discuss the administration’s plan to divide its August 2018 proposal to rollback Obama era standards through 2025 and revoke California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act to set state requirements for vehicles, the people said. The meeting included Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and acting Office and Management and Budget director Russell Vought, the sources said. The White House and the agencies declined to comment. On Tuesday, Wheeler told reporters the administration had not made a final decision to divide the rule into two parts. Following the meeting, sources said the administration plans to move ahead in coming weeks to divide the final regulation and finalize first the portion dealing with preempting states before issuing the new yearly standards. The EPA in August 2018 proposed revoking a waiver granted to California in 2013 under the Clean Air Act as part of the Trump administration’s plan to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards. Under Trump, federal regulators backed freezing emissions requirements for new cars and trucks at 2020 levels through 2026. Administration officials say its final regulation will include a modest boost in annual efficiency requirements but far less than what the Obama administration set in 2012. The Obama-era rules called for a fleetwide fuel efficiency average of 46.7 mpg by 2025, with average annual increases of about 5%, compared with 37 mpg by 2026 under the Trump administration’s preferred option to freeze requirements. Last week, Reuters and other news outlets reported the U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether the decision of four automakers in July to reach a voluntary agreement with California to adopt state emissions standards violated antitrust law. more...

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large
(CNN) - Beto O'Rourke's best moment on Thursday's Democratic presidential debate -- which also doubled as his best moment in the 2020 campaign to date -- came when ABC's David Muir asked whether he supported a mandatory buyback of assault weapons.
"Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47," O'Rourke said to raucous applause from the crowd in Houston, Texas. "We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore." The former Texas congressman defended that stance in an interview on CNN's "New Day" Friday, insisting the issue would not hurt his party. "It's not a concern of mine and that's in part informed by listening to people in conservative parts of America," he said. "And folks are saying, 'Look, I would give up that AR-15 or that AK-47. I don't need it to hunt, don't need it to defend myself in my home.' They recognize this is a weapon designed for war, to kill people as effectively, as efficiently, and in a great a number as possible." Which, well, count me skeptical that O'Rourke's idea will gain widespread political support. Here's why. For decades, the National Rifle Association -- and its Republican allies in Congress and now in the White House -- have used the idea of confiscation to win the gun debate. If Democrats were in control, they'd come to your house and take your guns!, the argument goes. It's why gun purchases soared in the immediate aftermath of Barack Obama's election in 2008, for example. "It depends on if Democrats want to take your guns away," President Donald Trump said in response to questions Thursday about whether some sort of gun control measure might be passed by Congress this fall. "If this is a movement by the Democrats to take your guns away, it's never going to happen." more...   

By John Haltiwanger
The Trump administration is planning to provide the identity of a Saudi official who allegedly helped the 9/11 hijackers to family members of victims of the terror attacks that occurred 18 years ago. The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday. The victims' family members have been pressuring the Trump administration to release the information. In a recent letter to President Trump, they called on him to "instruct Attorney General Barr not to invoke privileges and to give us the FBI documents so that we can finally learn the full truth and obtain justice from Saudi Arabia." The FBI said they would release the identity of the Saudi official the victims' families most wanted, according to The Journal's report, citing the "exceptional nature of the case." Other information the families were after will not be released.  The name of the Saudi official will be released to lawyers representing the family members but will not be disclosed publicly for now, CNN reported. Barr made the final decision to release the name. This is linked to a lawsuit from the family members against Saudi Arabia that alleges it was involved in the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001. The vast majority of the hijackers who carried out the 9/11 terror attacks — 15 out of 19— were from Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government has repeatedly denied any involvement in the attacks. more...   

By Bill Chappell
Utility giant PG&E has agreed to a second large settlement over devastating Northern California wildfires, saying it will pay $11 billion to resolve most insurance claims from the wine country fires in 2017 and massive Camp Fire in 2018. "These claims are based on payments made by insurance companies to individuals and businesses with insurance coverage for wildfire damages" in those catastrophic blazes, PG&E said in announcing the deal. The utility says the tentative deal with a group of insurers covers about 85% of claims from those fires. While the $11 billion sum is large, it's far smaller than the roughly $20 billion that the insurance companies wanted, after paying out billions to California wildfire victims. The settlement will require the approval of a bankruptcy court, as PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January and recently entered into a Chapter 11 reorganization plan. In a statement about the outcome, the insurance companies — which banded together as the Ad Hoc Subrogation Group — said that while their initial claim wasn't fulfilled, "we hope that this compromise will pave the way for a plan of reorganization that allows PG&E to fairly compensate all victims and emerge from Chapter 11 by the June 2020 legislative deadline." more...

By Jacob Pramuk
President Donald Trump signaled Thursday that he would consider an interim trade deal with China, even though he would not prefer it. The president told reporters he would like to ink a full agreement with the world’s second largest economy. However, he left the door open to striking a limited deal with Beijing. “If we’re going to do the deal, let’s get it done,” he told reporters as he left for a congressional Republican retreat in Baltimore. “A lot of people are talking about it, I see a lot of analysts are saying an interim deal — meaning we’ll do pieces of it, the easy ones first. But there’s no easy or hard. There’s a deal or there’s not a deal. But it’s something we would consider, I guess.” Trump’s statements add to confusion sparked earlier in the day about what the White House would accept in its ongoing negotiations with China. U.S. stock indexes initially climbed on a report that the Trump administration talked about crafting an interim agreement. A White House official then said the U.S. is “absolutely not” considering such a deal, causing markets to give up some of those gains. Asked to clarify if Trump’s position had changed from earlier in the day, White House spokesman Judd Deere emphasized the president’s comment that he would prefer a complete agreement. Trade negotiators from the world’s two largest economies plan to meet next week as they continue efforts to salvage a trade pact and end a widening conflict. The trade war between the U.S. and China has led to concerns about hurt for U.S. consumer and helped to fuel fears of flagging global economic growth. On Wednesday, Trump said he would hold off on hiking tariff rates on $250 billion in Chinese goods until Oct. 15 instead of Oct. 1. He called it a “gesture of good will” because of “the fact that the People’s Republic of China will be celebrating their 70th Anniversary.” As the trade war rages, Trump has downplayed its effects on American consumers and the U.S. economy. The president has said he is fine to leave tariffs in place, arguing China has taken a bigger hit from the duties than the U.S. (American businesses bear much of the cost of Trump’s tariffs). more...

By Matt Zapotosky and Spencer S. Hsu
Justice Department prosecutors were authorized to seek an indictment alleging former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe lied to investigators, and on Thursday he was told one of his last bids to persuade them not to had failed, people familiar with the matter said. But with the green light to proceed — and a grand jury summoned back after a months-long hiatus to consider the case — the day came and went with no public charges being filed. Grand jurors were sent home and McCabe remained in limbo, waiting to see whether the investigation that began more than a year ago would end with a fight to stay out of prison. The flurry of activity kicked off around noon, when a top official in Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen’s office notified McCabe’s team that his appeal to Rosen to abandon the case had failed. “The Department rejected your appeal of the United States Attorney’s Office’s decision in this matter,” the official wrote, according to one person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the private communication. “Any further inquiries should be directed to the United States Attorney’s Office.” McCabe’s team had been told last month that line prosecutors recommended charges and later that U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu of the District of Columbia had endorsed that decision, a person familiar with the matter said. McCabe’s team had then appealed to Rosen in what was considered one of his final chances to persuade officials not to move forward and seek an indictment from a grand jury. The legal team had been waiting for a response. The notification was notable in its own right but particularly suggestive that charges were imminent, because a federal grand jury investigating McCabe was suddenly recalled this week after a months-long hiatus. But the panel was released Thursday with no immediate signs of an indictment. That could be a sign they balked, though it is also possible they have filed a determination under seal or could be asked to return later. more...    

By Shannon Van Sant
The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report on the boat fire which killed 34 people earlier this month off the coast of Santa Cruz island in California. The report confirms that all crewmembers were asleep when the boat caught fire. The 75-foot Conception was owned by Truth Aquatics, Inc., and was on a three-day diving trip when it caught fire at anchor early in the morning on Sept. 2. "Five crewmembers were asleep in berths behind the wheelhouse, and one crewmember was asleep in the bunkroom," at the time of the fire, according to initial findings. If true, that would be a violation of regulations requiring one crewmember to be awake to monitor the vessel throughout the night. Lisa Novak, public affairs officer for the U.S. Coast Guard, said in an email to NPR that "according to its certificate of inspection, the passenger vessel Conception was required to have a roving watch." Truth Aquatics, Inc., declined to comment on the NTSB's findings. According to the report, all of the passengers and one of the crew were asleep below deck, where they became trapped by the flames. Crewmembers above deck say they were unable to reach them because a ladder to the sleeping area was engulfed with fire. The victims include 21 women and 13 men, ranging in age from 16 to 62 years old, and officials suspect all died of smoke inhalation. Investigators will be looking at key issues including whether passengers had been informed of safety procedures on board. They will also be looking carefully at an escape hatch which was to have provided an alternative route out of the sleeping area. more...   

By Michael Wayland
DETROIT — A regional director with the United Auto Workers union was charged Thursday with embezzling union funds and other corruption charges as part of a widening federal corruption probe into the union. Federal prosecutors say UAW Region 5 Director Vance Pearson, a member of the union’s highest governing board, conspired with other union officials to embezzle hundreds of thousands of dollars in union money “for their own personal benefit along with other crimes.” Pearson, 58, of St. Charles, Missouri, was arrested Thursday and faces charges of embezzlement of union funds, money laundering, aiding and abetting, conspiracy, mail and wire fraud, and filing and maintaining false union reports to the government. The charges come as the union negotiates new contracts with the Big Three Detroit automakers and two weeks after FBI and IRS agents raided Pearson’s home and office in Missouri. They also raided the homes of UAW President Gary Jones and former UAW President Dennis Williams, among other properties. Jones and Williams have not been charged with any crimes. more...  

Chris Grant was honored for his "courage" in a ceremony at the White House, but police say video evidence "does not support Mr. Grant’s assertions."
By Elisha Fieldstadt
A Texas man who was honored by President Donald Trump for his "courage, character, and strength" on Monday was "inaccurate" when he told a reporter he had bravely tried to thwart the shooter at an El Paso Walmart last month, according to police. "I did what any good man would have done," Chris Grant told CNN's Chris Cuomo from his hospital bed, following the Aug. 3 shooting that left 22 people dead. He said when he heard the shots, he shielded his mother as he ushered her to safety and then decided to confront the shooter. "I started throwing random bottles at him," he said. "I'm not a baseball player, so one went this way, one went that way." But he said one of the bottles hit the shooter, who then targeted and shot him. Grant was wounded, but El Paso Police Department spokesman Enrique Carrillo told NBC News that "Mr. Grant provided an inaccurate account of the actions he took." Carrillo said that hours of surveillance footage reviewed by detectives "does not support Mr. Grant’s assertions." "We are not demeaning his reaction, which are of basic human instincts, but they amount to an act of self-preservation and nothing above that," Carrillo said. Grant was honored by Trump in a Medals of Valor and Heroic Commendations ceremony at the White House Monday. In the East Room ceremony, Trump honored six police officers who responded to the Dayton, Ohio, shooting that left nine people dead, and five El Paso residents "who displayed tremendous bravery" during the shooting there a day earlier. more...    

Fixed-income-investing notable sees neither Trump nor China as willing to agree to a trade deal
By Steve Goldstein
Jeffrey Gundlach on Thursday struck a pessimistic tone, saying there was a 75% chance of a recession before the next presidential election as he warned that the corporate bond market is a crisis waiting to happen. Gundlach, the outspoken chief executive of DoubleLine, mockingly delivered a presentation called the “Greatest Economy Ever,” an allusion to President Donald Trump’s characterization, which the famed bond investor doesn’t share. Gundlach, to a London audience, outlined a number of worrying signs, including declines in purchasing indexes, which peaked at right about the same time the U.S. and global stock markets SPX, +0.29% did. Gundlach said neither Trump nor China would be willing to agree to a trade deal, with the Chinese side waiting for the possible electoral defeat of the White House incumbent. He also pointed to a New York Fed model showing a rising likelihood of a U.S. recession but did concede that jobless-claims data have been indicative of a strong labor market, even if jobs growth has slowed. more...    

By Aram Roston, Joshua Schneyer
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In emails to his colleagues over the years, Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr has denigrated students and staff at the Christian university he runs, referring to one student as “emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded” and calling the school’s police chief a “half-wit.” The barbed comments, contained in email exchanges reviewed by Reuters, emerge as the evangelical political leader is seeking to stem a rash of news reports about his stewardship of the Virginia-based university. Falwell said this week he has asked U.S. federal authorities to investigate whether former board members and employees at the nonprofit university may have broken the law and divulged internal school documents to journalists. The request came after recent reports by Reuters and Politico describing how Falwell has managed Liberty. Falwell told the Associated Press on Tuesday that he had contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and that the email disclosures constituted an “attempted coup” aimed at securing his ouster from Liberty, where he has served as president since 2008. The FBI declined to comment. As he complains of being targeted by critics, Reuters has found that Falwell himself was disparaging Liberty students, staff and parents for years in emails to Liberty administrators. The several dozen emails reviewed by Reuters span nearly a decade-long period starting in 2008. In the emails, Falwell insults some Liberty students, calling them “social misfits.” In others, he blasts faculty members and senior Liberty staff:  more...    

Jerry Falwell Jr. Called Liberty University Student ‘Physically Retarded’ in Email: Report
By Audrey McNamara
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. mocked the school’s students, parents, and faculty for years in emails to school administrators, Reuters reports. The evangelical leader and prominent supporter of President Trump wrote in one email that a student at his Virginia-based Christian university was “emotionally imbalanced and physically retarded,” and called the school’s police chief a “half-wit.” The disparaging emails, which span for nearly a decade-long period, follow numerous reports on Falwell’s questionable, and potentially criminal, behavior. more...

A legal expert told the AP Falwell's claims were "totally insane."
by Kate Cox
High-profile evangelical conservative Jerry Falwell Jr., a staunch Trump supporter and president of Liberty University, wants the FBI to investigate current and former university employees for... forwarding emails. Falwell claims to have evidence that employees "improperly shared" emails belonging to the university, the Associated Press reports. Falwell said the communications were shared as part of a "criminal" smear campaign and "attempted coup." Falwell told the AP he contacted the FBI before the story was published, when he learned reporters were reaching out to Liberty employees about the "stolen" emails. "I am going to the authorities and I am going to civil court" over the shared documents, Falwell said. [D]etailed other instances of Falwell's behavior that they see as falling short of the standard of conduct they expect from conservative Christian leaders, from partying at nightclubs, to graphically discussing his sex life with employees, to electioneering that makes uneasy even those who fondly remember the heyday of the late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr., the school's founder and Falwell Jr.'s father, and his Moral Majority. Reuters this week also published a selection of emails in which Falwell used insulting or disparaging language to describe Liberty University students, staff, and parents to other administrators. "I'm not going to dignify the lies that were reported yesterday with a response," Falwell told the AP, but he said he hired "the meanest lawyer in New York" to pursue civil cases against sources who shared communication with Politico. "Liberty owns every single one of those emails. It's our property. They were working for us when they used our server," Falwell told the AP. "Our policies make it clear every email sent on our server is owned by Liberty, and if anybody shares it with anybody outside Liberty, it is theft. And so that's the underlying crime." Employees who spoke with Politico apparently anticipated this kind of response from Falwell: "Everybody is scared for their life. Everybody walks around in fear," said a current university employee who agreed to speak for this article only after purchasing a burner phone, fearing that Falwell was monitoring their communications. The fear is not limited to Liberty's campus. Several people who lack any tie to Liberty but live in the school's hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia, refused to go on the record for this story, fearing Falwell would take revenge upon them and their families. "Fear is probably his most powerful weapon," a former senior university official said. more...

The justices effectively blocked asylum claims at the southern border, for now.
By Nicole Narea
The US Supreme Court left the future of the US asylum system uncertain Wednesday night by allowing the Trump administration to proceed with its plan to bar most asylum seekers at the southern border while a lawsuit over the rule makes its way through the courts. The justices’ decision effectively reinstated a Trump administration rule that prevents migrants from applying for asylum if they passed through another country other than their own before arriving in the US. That means that asylum seekers from any country but Mexico will now be ineligible for asylum if they show up at the southern border. There are limited exceptions to the rule: those who apply for asylum in another country, but are rejected may bring their claims in the US. Victims of human trafficking and migrants who traveled through countries that are not parties to certain international human rights agreements are also exempt. But for the most part, it effectively closes the door on seeking asylum at the southern border. The Court did not rule on whether the Trump rule is legal — just that the administration has the right to impose it temporarily. A case about the legality of the rule itself is still making its way through the courts and the justices are expected to eventually weigh in. But in the meantime, the Trump administration is moving forward to use it to block most asylum seekers’ cases. The decision outraged immigrant advocates: It represents a “massive reversal of American leadership to protect the most vulnerable people fleeing extreme violence and persecution from around the world,” Todd Schulte, president of the immigrant advocacy group FWD.us, said in a statement. more...  

Rolling Stone - Vape pens are increasingly the go-to choice for cannabis consumers, both in states with legal cannabis, and on the still-thriving black market. However, as Rolling Stone reported in 2017, the scariest thing about the health effects of using oil-filled weed vape pens is how little we know. more...

IVANKA TRUMP and Jared Kushner are one of the US’ most prominent couples – but they actually split up temporarily back in 2008, a book has revealed.
By Abbie Llewelyn
Ivanka and Jared are both senior advisers to President Trump, for women’s issues and strategic planning respectively. Their appointments led to accusations of nepotism, and Ivanka being dubbed the First Daughter, a title she reportedly likes. However, this power couple has not always been so strong – they split for several months in 2008 after a year of dating. The break-up was partly due to Jared’s parents, Charlie and Seryl Kushner, apparently being “horrified” by the match. According to 2019 book ‘Kushner Inc’, they were concerned that Ivanka was not Jewish and were aghast that Jared was considering marrying outside the faith. more...

By ANNIE SNIDER
The Trump administration on Thursday announced the repeal one of the Obama era's most sweeping environmental rules — a set of pollution protections for small streams and wetlands that had riled up opposition from coal miners, home developers, farmers and oil and gas drillers. The action creates instant doubts about the legal status of myriad seasonal or isolated wetlands and thousands of miles of waterways, including vast swaths of the arid West. And it clears the way for the Environmental Protection Agency to finish a follow-up regulation in the coming months that could leave most of the nation's wetlands without any federal safeguards. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed the repeal at the D.C. headquarters of the National Association of Manufacturers, one of the industry groups that had opposed the Obama administration's Waters of the U.S. rule. That 2015 regulation, also known as the Clean Water Rule, had cemented federal protections for headwater streams, Western rivers and nearby wetlands, in an effort to resolve questions raised by two muddled Supreme Court decisions. The repeal "removes an egregious power grab" by the Obama Administration, Wheeler said. "When President Trump took office he immediately set into motion a process to remove and replace regulations that were stifling economic development," he said. “This climate of regulatory certainty is breathing new life into local economies around the country and today’s action is a perfect example.” Environmental groups vowed to challenge the rollback, arguing that it jeopardizes drinking water supplies for 117 million Americans. Jon Devine, director of federal water policy for the Natural Resources Defense Council, defended the Obama administration rule in a statement, saying it "represented solid science and smart public policy." more...

By Chris Mills Rodrigo
Gregory Cheadle, the black man singled out by President Trump as "my African American" at a rally, is leaving the Republican Party and pursuing a congressional run as an independent, PBS News reported Thursday. The 62-year-old real estate broker told the outlet that he sees the GOP as pursuing a “pro-white” agenda and using black people like him as “political pawns.” The moment that convinced Cheadle to leave the party was when many Republicans did not condemn Trump's tweets telling four congresswomen of color to back to their countries and defended Trump's attacks on Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Baltimore. “President Trump is a rich guy who is mired in white privilege to the extreme,” Cheadle, who switched from being an independent to a Republican in 2001, told PBS. “Republicans are too sheepish to call him out on anything and they are afraid of losing their positions and losing any power themselves.” He said that after the two attacks from the president, many of his Republican friends defended Trump. more...

House Republicans head to an annual retreat Thursday with few wins.
By MELANIE ZANONA
A parade of Republican retirements. Red flags about the economy. President Donald Trump’s approval ratings under water. A nail-biter race in a GOP stronghold. House Republicans are grappling with a string of ominous warning signs from over the past month that could spell doom for the party’s chances of clawing back power in 2020, an unsettling prospect for the GOP conference as it prepares for its annual retreat in Baltimore on Thursday. And while Tuesday’s narrow victory in a North Carolina special election provided a sorely needed bright spot for the party, the big picture for Republicans remains dim. Even some of Trump’s top allies on Capitol Hill recognize that it’s going to be an uphill climb in flipping the 18 seats they need to win back the House. “I see an easy path for 12 pickup seats. It’s the last six that will be tough, and that actually runs through California,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), head of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. “If we don’t pick up any in California, it will be virtually impossible.” When Trump gathers with House Republicans for their three-day retreat, the party will at least have a fresh pair of victories to rally around: Republican Dan Bishop narrowly beat out Democrat Dan McCready on Tuesday to represent North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, a race that was widely seen as a test case for 2020. Bishop benefited from a swell of GOP support among rural voters, suggesting Trump’s appeal is still strong with a central pillar of his base. more...   

The commercial dive boat burst into flames off Santa Cruz Island early on Sept. 2, but the flames were so intense, no one below deck could be saved.
By Jason Wells
The fire that killed 34 people on a commercial dive boat off California started while all crew members were asleep, federal investigators said Thursday, confirming the lack of a "night watchman" whose job it is to look after the vessel overnight. The 75-foot commercial dive boat, the Conception, burst into flames off Santa Cruz Island early on Sept. 2, but by the time five crew members above deck noticed, the fire was so intense that no one below could be saved. Officials say initial examinations indicate the 33 passengers and a member of the crew died of smoke inhalation before being burned. Only the five crew members above deck were able to escape the flames. The last body was recovered by divers on Wednesday. According to its preliminary report, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that five crew members were asleep in upper-deck berths at the time of the fire, as was the crew member who died in the bunkroom. Investigators are still working to determine the cause of the fire, and it could be more than a year before the NTSB releases its final report. more...   

The Trump administration thinks the court is its personal fixer. The court isn’t doing much to disabuse it of this idea.
By Ian Millhiser
Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a brief but pointed dissent Wednesday evening from a Supreme Court order that effectively locked nearly all Central American migrants out of the asylum process. Asylum allows foreign nationals who face certain forms of persecution to seek refuge in the United States. The Court’s order is temporary, and it only allows the asylum ban to remain in effect while the case is working its way through the courts. It stays a lower court decision that blocked the ban. Though this litigation will continue to percolate in lower courts, other judges are likely to read the Supreme Court’s order as a sign that a majority of the justices will ultimately uphold the ban. As is often the case with such temporary orders, there was no majority opinion — and thus no explanation of why the Court ruled the way it did or even how each member of the Court voted. We only know that Sotomayor voted against the stay, and that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Sotomayor’s dissent. The sharpest part of Sotomayor’s opinion may be its final paragraph, which accuses a majority of her colleagues of bypassing the Court’s ordinary procedures in order to bail out the Trump administration.     [G]ranting a stay pending appeal should be an “extraordinary” act. Unfortunately, it appears the Government has treated this exceptional mechanism as a new normal. Historically, the Government has made this kind of request rarely; now it does so reflexively. See, e.g., Vladeck, The Solicitor General and the Shadow Docket, 133 Harv. L. Rev. (forthcoming Nov. 2019). Not long ago, the Court resisted the shortcut the Government now invites. I regret that my colleagues have not exercised the same restraint here. I respectfully dissent. To translate this paragraph a bit, a “stay pending appeal” is an order that suspends a lower court’s decision while the case is working its way through an appeals court. On Wednesday, the Supreme Court granted such a stay of a lower court order that blocked a Trump administration policy preventing most Central American migrants from seeking asylum. As Sotomayor notes, the Supreme Court rarely granted such stays in the past, and for good reason. Because the Supreme Court is the final word on any legal dispute, it typically likes to hang back for a while as lower court judges wrestle with new legal questions. If a lower court hands down an erroneous order, and the Supreme Court does not take immediate action, then the erroneous order may remain in place for months. But a lower court decision will eventually work its way through the appeals process and can be reversed by the Supreme Court if it is wrong about the law. more...   

By Ed Oswald
The vape industry used to view May 2020 as a time of reckoning: it’s when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would require applications for any flavored e-liquid, with products taken off the market until they gained approval. But nothing prepared makers and fans of e-cigarettes for the events of Wednesday, when President Donald Trump dropped the gauntlet some eight months early by announcing his administration would ban flavored e-cigarettes. “I said ‘oh shit, is this for real?” Jai Gyorfi, better known as ‘Jai Haze’ on YouTube, said of learning of the e-cigarette flavor ban, which takes effect within a matter of weeks. Haze, who runs a vape shop in New Jersey, has nearly 170,000 subscribers on his vaping-oriented YouTube channel. After the announcement, a bewildered Gyorfi hosted a livestream with nearly 2,000 viewers who were blindsided by the news. more...   

They love the president, and appear at Trump rallies in their favorite merch. Now believers in the mega-conspiracy theory are posing a challenge to their idol’s re-election.
By Will Sommer, Asawin Suebsaeng
In late August 2018, Lisa and John Welch weren’t feeling great about the future of QAnon, the ludicrous conspiracy theory that posits that Donald Trump is engaged in a secret battle with pedophilic elites in Hollywood, big banks, and the Democratic Party. Lisa had bought into the theory first, then convinced her husband to sign on. But none of the mysterious Q’s predictions in anonymous internet forums had come to pass nearly a year after it started in October 2017, and QAnon believers were starting to lose faith. After yet another Q prediction failed to materialize in 2018, an armed, crazed QAnon fan allegedly shut down a bridge near the Hoover Dam with an improvised armored truck. The Welches decided they needed some way to show how many Trump supporters believed in the mega-conspiracy theory, which has pulled in Pizzagate and a wide range of other conspiracy theories. They printed up T-shirts and signs that said “We Are Q” and passed them out at a Trump rally in Tampa, Florida. “We took ’em to the rally and handed ’em out, and the rest is history,” Lisa Welch told a crowd of roughly 100 QAnon believers who gathered to rally across the street from the White House on Wednesday. The Welches’ signs and T-shirts, along with other QAnon-related signs and “Q” cut-outs, were unavoidable in cable news coverage of the rally. Suddenly, people all over the country were asking what why a segment of Trump fans adored the letter Q, and QAnon believers were invigorated. “By the time the rally was over, they didn’t have any choice but to put us on [TV],” said John Welch. The Tampa rally wasn’t the first time QAnon believers had appeared among Trump’s faithful, but it did show QAnon fans that showing up to the rallies with Q signs and clothes could have a real world effect. more...   

By Bart Jansen, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors have recommended bringing criminal charges against Andrew McCabe, the former deputy director of the FBI and a frequent target of criticism by President Donald Trump, according people familiar with the decision Thursday. McCabe was fired from the FBI just before his retirement in March 2018 after the Justice Department's internal watchdog concluded that he had improperly authorized a leak about a federal investigation into the Clinton Foundation in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. Investigators also concluded that he displayed a lack of candor when asked about the leak. The U.S. Attorney in Washington, Jessie Liu, recommended moving forward with unspecified charges against McCabe, according to people familiar with the situation who were not authorized to comment publicly. McCabe's lawyers appealed that decision to Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, who rejected their request, one of the people said. McCabe's lawyers were informed of that decision Thursday. The decision clears the way for McCabe to face a criminal charge. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington declined to comment. The recommendation that McCabe be charged is the latest fallout from the FBI's handling of investigations around the 2016 presidential election, when agents were investigating both of the major-party candidates. Those investigations – into Russian meddling to help Trump win the presidency and Democrat Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server – inserted the FBI into the center of fraught political controversies. more...

By Julie Mazziotta
A sixth person in the U.S. has died of a severe lung illness related to vaping, Kansas health officials confirmed Tuesday. The Kansas resident was female and over 50, and had other health issues. However, officials said that her quick death was due to vaping. “She had some underlying medical illnesses, but nothing that would have foretold the fact that within a week after starting using e-cigarettes for the first time, she developed full-blown acute respiratory distress syndrome and died,” Dr. Lee Norman, secretary for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, told NBC News. This is first recorded death related to vaping in Kansas. The previously confirmed deaths occurred in Indiana, Minnesota, California, Illinois and Oregon, primarily in middle-aged adults. Along with the sixth deaths, the Centers for Disease Control are also investigating over 450 reported cases of severe lung illness linked to vaping from U.S. residents of all ages. On Friday, the CDC said that the number of reported cases had more than doubled in the last week to 450, from just over 200. The federal health organization urged Americans to stop using e-cigarettes while it — along with the Food and Drug Administration and state officials — investigate the respiratory problems that have impacted residents in 33 states and one jurisdiction. “While this investigation is ongoing, people should consider not using e-cigarette products,” says Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman, incident manager of the CDC’s response to the vaping-related lung injuries. “People who do use e-cigarette products should monitor themselves for symptoms, for example, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea and vomiting — and promptly seek medical attention for any health concerns.” more...    

By Dan Mangan, Kevin Breuninger
Former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe has failed in his efforts to convince the Justice Department not to file potential criminal charges against him for allegedly lying to federal agents, NBC News reported Thursday. Lawyers for McCabe, who has not been charged in the case, reportedly met last month with a top Justice official the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and in what were believed to be talks seeking to dissuade then from filing criminal charges. The Washington Post reported last week that federal prosecutors for months have been using a grand jury to investigate McCabe, a critic of President Donald Trump. McCabe, 51, had served as acting director of the FBI after Trump fired James Comey in 2017. McCabe himself was fired by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions in March 2018, a day before his planned retirement. His termination denied him a full pension. The Justice Department has said he was fired because he broke FBI rules by improperly disclosing information to journalists related to an investigation into Hillary Clinton.  A Justice Department inspector general report later found McCabe had “lacked candor, including under oath” in describing those disclosures to investigators. McCabe has dispute the report’s conclusions. The Justice Department and a lawyer for McCabe did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment Thursday. more...  

The committee approved guidelines for its impeachment probe, while the speaker avoided the issue at a news conference.
By ANDREW DESIDERIO
The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the parameters for its impeachment investigation into President Donald Trump — Democrats’ most significant step to date on the issue, even as Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeatedly sidestepped the i-word at a news conference. The party-line vote came as House Democrats have struggled to articulate a unified message on impeachment, with senior party leaders avoiding the term even while the Judiciary Committee embraces it. A visibly frustrated Pelosi refused to answer reporters’ questions about the impeachment probe, beyond saying that she supports “what is happening in the Judiciary Committee because that enables them to do their process of interrogation and investigation.” Pelosi — who has signed off on court filings and press statements that explicitly mention the panel’s impeachment investigation — avoided the word “impeachment,” later adding: “I’m not answering anymore questions on this subject.” The Judiciary Committee’s vote was largely symbolic, but it represents Democrats’ first legislative action on one of Congress’ weightiest responsibilities — even if they can’t agree on what to call it. “Some call this process an impeachment inquiry. Some call it an impeachment investigation,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said, arguing that a House vote is not necessary. “There is no legal difference between these terms, and I no longer care to argue about the nomenclature.” more...  

By Christina Zhao
Ex-U.S. attorney Joyce Vance told MSNBC on Wednesday that President Donald Trump could be facing an "unpleasant" jail sentence after reports indicated that his former personal attorney Michael Cohen is cooperating with the New York district attorney's office as part of its probe into the Trump Organization. Prosecutors with the New York district attorney's office recently interviewed Cohen for their investigation into the Trump Organization's handling of hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, sources familiar with the probe told CNN. The interview reportedly took place at Otisville federal prison, where Cohen is currently being held on a three-year sentence after pleading guilty last year to various crimes including campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud. NBC News also cited an anonymous source in reporting that Cohen struck an agreement with the prosecutors to "provide information about the president's business operation." NBC's source also confirmed that a meeting took place between Cohen and officials from the DA's office at Otisville prison last month. more...   

The likely Israeli spying efforts were uncovered during the Trump presidency, several former top U.S. officials said.
By DANIEL LIPPMAN
The U.S. government concluded within the last two years that Israel was most likely behind the placement of cell-phone surveillance devices that were found near the White House and other sensitive locations around Washington, D.C., according to three former senior U.S. officials with knowledge of the matter. But unlike most other occasions when flagrant incidents of foreign spying have been discovered on American soil, the Trump administration did not rebuke the Israeli government, and there were no consequences for Israel’s behavior, one of the former officials said. The miniature surveillance devices, colloquially known as “StingRays,” mimic regular cell towers to fool cell phones into giving them their locations and identity information. Formally called international mobile subscriber identity-catchers or IMSI-catchers, they also can capture the contents of calls and data use. The devices were likely intended to spy on President Donald Trump, one of the former officials said, as well as his top aides and closest associates -- though it’s not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful. President Trump is reputed to be lax in observing White House security protocols. POLITICO reported in May 2018 that the president often used an insufficiently secured cell phone to communicate with friends and confidants. The New York Times subsequently reported in October 2018 that “Chinese spies are often listening” to Trump’s cell-phone calls, prompting the president to slam the story as “so incorrect I do not have time here to correct it.” (A former official said Trump has had his cell phone hardened against intrusion.) By then, as part of tests by the federal government, officials at the Department of Homeland Security had already discovered evidence of the surveillance devices around the nation’s capital, but weren’t able to attribute the devices to specific entities. The officials shared their findings with relevant federal agencies, according to a letter a top DHS official, Christopher Krebs, wrote in May 2018 to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). more...    

By Arden Farhi
The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce Thursday that it has finalized a repeal of the Obama-era clean water rule that spells out protections for large and small bodies of water, according to two congressional aides familiar with the plans. The EPA will then write a new rule to replace the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) regulation, which was established in 2015. The Trump administration rule is expected to cover fewer waterways than the current one and weaken existing protections. Soon after he was inaugurated, President Trump signed an executive order directing the EPA and the Army to "review and rescind or revise" the regulation. The order said that it's in the nation's interest to keep waterways free of pollution, while still promoting economic growth and cutting regulatory uncertainty. Many businesses have opposed the WOTUS rule, arguing that it was overly broad. The National Federation of Independent Business sued the Obama administration over the rule, complaining that it gave the federal government "jurisdiction over seasonal streams, ponds, ditches, and even depressions fields that are dry through most of the year." The federation also took issue with the fact that business owners could be fined $50,000 per day for violating the rule. In December 2018, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler unveiled the Trump administration's revision of the rule, touting it as one that would provide states and landowners with greater clarity and "certainty" about protected bodies of water. "For the first time, we are clearly defining the difference between federally protected waterways and state protected waterways," Wheeler said in a press release at the time. "Our simpler and clearer definition would help landowners understand whether a project on their property will require a federal permit or not, without spending thousands of dollars on engineering and legal professionals." more...

By Randall W. Forsyth
President Donald Trump now wants the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates to zero or below. But he should consider the minuses of negative rates, which have failed to spur strong growth in Europe and Japan and would likely cause a firestorm among U.S. savers. Stock-market investors, meanwhile, should note that this month’s rally has come while bond yields have reversed part of their recent sharp declines. In his latest broadside against the central bank, Trump tweeted Wednesday: “The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less, and we should then start to refinance our debt. INTEREST COST COULD BE BROUGHT WAY DOWN, while at the same time substantially lengthening the term.” The president concludes by calling the Fed “boneheads” for not following other central banks to negative rates. That’s the view of the self-proclaimed King of Debt. “As a highly leveraged property developer, Trump is thinking about negative rates from the perspective of a borrower,” writes Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics. But the Fed has been lukewarm at best about such a possibility, “partly because officials know that it could cause outrage among savers and drag the central bank into a political maelstrom,” he adds. Money-market funds also could see large-scale outflows, which could disrupt short-term funding for businesses, banks, and perhaps even the Treasury. Moreover, the record of negative rates in the euro zone, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, and Japan has been mixed, Ashworth continues. While bond yields have fallen below zero, banks been reluctant to impose negative rates on depositors, resulting in a squeeze on their profits. Trump thinks the U.S. deserves to have subzero interest rates since it has “a great currency, power, balance sheet.” In fact, negative interest rates reflect the economic torpor in Europe and Japan. By contrast, U.S. interest rates were at their peak in real terms (that is, after adjusting for inflation) when it was “Morning in America” in the mid-1980s. more...   

Courts in New York have long ruled that if a car smells like pot, the police can search it. But now, a backlash is mounting. Joseph Goldstein
By Joseph Goldstein
Police officers can often justify a search with six words: “I smelled an odor of marijuana.” Courts in New York have long ruled if a car smells like marijuana smoke, the police can search it — and, according to some judges, even the occupants — without a warrant. But in late July, a judge in the Bronx said in a scathing opinion that officers claim to smell marijuana so often that it strains credulity, and she called on judges across the state to stop letting police officers get away with lying about it. “The time has come to reject the canard of marijuana emanating from nearly every vehicle subject to a traffic stop,” Judge April Newbauer wrote in a decision in a case involving a gun the police discovered in car they had searched after claiming to have smelled marijuana. She added, “So ubiquitous has police testimony about odors from cars become that it should be subject to a heightened level of scrutiny if it is to supply the grounds for a search.” It is exceedingly rare for a New York City judge to accuse police officers of routinely lying to cover up illegal searches, but Judge Newbauer’s decision does exactly that. Her decision also shows how marijuana’s status as contraband remains deeply embedded in the criminal justice system, even as the police and prosecutors have begun to wind down arrests and prosecutions for marijuana. more...   


Back to content