February 10th, 2020

dara

Today's News (2020/2/10)

"Barr acknowledges Justice Dept. has created ‘intake process’ to vet Giuliani’s information on Bidens" is particularly important, as is "The Trump Official Who Could Obliterate Public Lands," which is much worse than it looks, because what they're doing is giving actual legal credence to the Constitutionalist movement, a.k.a. the Sovereign Citizen movement, which is a conspiracy theory going back to the Art Bell days that if you say the right magic words, Federal law doesn't apply to you.

It's completely fucking insane and the same people who were big into that in the 90s were also big into chemtrails and UFOs.

That's where we are.

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How can the media earn back the trust of viewers? Stop playing by Trump's rules for coverage
Time for TV newsrooms to stop trying to win over GOP viewers. Stand up and band together for a free press instead

Melanie McFarland
February 8, 2020 8:30PM (UTC)

https://www.salon.com/2020/02/08/how-can-the-media-win-back-the-trust-of-viewers-stop-playing-by-trumps-rules-for-coverage/

Last Monday a group of political journalists showed up to a renowned seat of power to attend a press briefing. An aide to the nation's leader asked several journalists from within the group to stand on one side of a rug, according to a report, while security asked for the other journalists to remain on the other side.

After the separation, the aide told the group that wasn't on their list of invited reporters to leave. Upon hearing this, the rest of group joined their dismissed colleagues and walked out collectively.

Provided you've been keeping up with events, obviously this did not happen in the United States. Described above is British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's failed attempt to employ tactics that Donald Trump's administration has successfully used to bring the press to heel – failed, I should say, for the time being.

...

Republicans highly distrust political and election news from most media outlets except for, in order, Fox News (trusted by 65% of respondents who identify as Republican or Republican leaning), Sean Hannity's radio show (30%), Rush Limbaugh's radio show and PBS (both logging in at 27%), the Wall Street Journal which, like Fox News, is owned by the Murdoch family (24%), the BBC (21%) and Breitbart (12%).

The network that fares the best among Republicans, but is still distrusted (to the tune of 37%) more than trusted (33%), is ABC News.

Democrats and Democrat-leaning respondents, meanwhile, expressed a high level of trust in many more mainstream news sources than their Republican counterparts, with CNN (67%), NBC (61%), ABC (60%, CBS (59%) and PBS (56%) taking the top five slots.

All in all, Democrats expressed trust in 13 out of the 30 sources presented, with six trusted by at least 50% of those responding. In large, Republicans trust Fox News, ABC . . . and that's pretty much it.

How, exactly, is all of this a silver lining? For starters, provided journalists and their bosses wake up to the concept of defining fairness not in the framework of false equivalency or equal time but in the light of truth, they might rediscover their ethical backbone.

If the data is telling you that a certain sector of viewers will never trust you, stop trying to win them over by bending to the will of an unrepentant habitual and frequent liar bent on destroying fact-based reality.

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Schumer calls on 74 inspectors general to investigate witness retaliation after Vindman ouster
By Zachary Cohen and Paul LeBlanc, CNN
Updated 10:41 AM ET, Mon February 10, 2020

https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/10/politics/schumer-letter-retaliation-protected-disclosures/index.html

Washington (CNN)Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter on Monday to all 74 federal government Inspectors General requesting investigations into "any and all instances of retaliation" against witnesses who have made "protected disclosures of presidential misconduct."

The letter comes days after President Donald Trump fired two key impeachment witnesses, Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the top Ukraine expert at the national security council, and US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland. An adviser to Trump told CNN the firings of the major impeachment witnesses was meant to send a message that siding against the President will not be tolerated.

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Barr acknowledges Justice Dept. has created ‘intake process’ to vet Giuliani’s information on Bidens

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/barr-acknowledges-justice-dept-has-created-intake-process-to-vet-giulianis-information-on-bidens/2020/02/10/0fba553a-4c1e-11ea-bf44-f5043eb3918a_story.html

By Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett
Feb. 10, 2020 at 2:58 p.m. PST

Attorney General William P. Barr acknowledged Monday that the Justice Department would evaluate material that Rudolph W. Giuliani, President Trump’s personal attorney, had gathered from Ukrainian sources claiming to have damaging information about former vice president Joe Biden and his family — though Barr and other officials suggested Giuliani was being treated no differently than any tipster.

At a news conference on an unrelated case, Barr confirmed an assertion made Sunday by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) that the Justice Department had “created a process that Rudy could give information and they would see if it’s verified.”

Barr said he had established an “intake process in the field” so that the Justice Department and intelligence agencies could scrutinize information they were given.

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Sheldon Adelson to donate $100m to Trump and Republicans, fundraisers say

Billionaire casino magnate, a staunchly pro-Israel conservative, expected to give to Super Pacs and ‘dark money’ groups

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/10/sheldon-adelson-trump-donation-republicans-congress

The billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, an ardent pro-Israel conservative, is expected to donate at least $100m to boost Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election efforts and Republican congressional candidates this fall, say three Republican fundraisers familiar with Adelson’s initial plans.

Adelson’s hefty checks are expected to be written to several Super Pacs – political groups that have to disclose their donors – as well as “dark money” not-for-profit organizations that can keep their donors secret, say the fundraisers.

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Trump administration delaying arms transfers worth $30M to Ukraine: report
February 6, 2020

https://thehill.com/policy/international/foreign-aid/481871-trump-administration-delaying-arms-transfers-worth-30m-to

President Trump’s administration is delaying an arms transfer to Ukraine worth $30 million, BuzzFeed News reported Thursday.

At least six commercial sales of guns and ammunition have faced delays of at least a year and continue to remain frozen, three current Ukrainian officials and one former senior U.S. official told BuzzFeed News. Now, Ukraine is requesting its money back.

The export license for the “most critical” of the pending sales was submitted in November 2018 for $10 million in ammunition, two Ukrainian officials told the news outlet. The five other sales, which include products like lethal weapons and amount to about $20 million, were prepaid between January and March 2019.

The officials have said the Trump administration has not provided any reasoning about why the commercial orders are being delayed. U.S. sales between companies and foreign buyers need licensing approved by the State Department, which typically takes about two months, according to BuzzFeed News.

“It might be wise for the Ukrainians to look for other sources,” the U.S. official told BuzzFeed News, saying White House and State Department officials have told him the sales are still being “evaluated” even though Ukraine has already made payments on them.

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Appeals court tosses Democrats' emoluments lawsuit against Trump
CNN Digital Expansion 2018 Katelyn Polantz

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

Updated 12:19 PM ET, Fri February 7, 2020

https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/07/politics/emoluments-lawsuit-trump/index.html

Washington (CNN)A federal appeals court on Friday dismissed a lawsuit by congressional Democrats alleging President Donald Trump violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution by refusing to allow lawmakers to review and approve his financial interests.

The ruling is a major triumph for the President, who's intensely sought to keep his business affairs in private, just days after the Republican-held Senate voted to acquit him on impeachment charges for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The case's dismissal effectively kneecaps one of several attempts Democrats have made to dig up more information about Trump's business holdings.

Before Friday's ruling the lawsuit was paused just as Democrats began subpoenaing the Trump Organization.

This emoluments case was one of three ongoing constitutional challenges to Trump and his business, alleging that the President is violating the anti-corruption emoluments clause. Two other emoluments cases attack Trump for his alleged competitive advantage at the Trump-branded real estate empire. Those cases are still moving through the court system.

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The Trump Official Who Could Obliterate Public Lands
Bureau of Land Management Director William Perry Pendley believes the oil and gas industry should be allowed to plunder the country's natural resources.
By Christopher Ketcham
February 3, 2020

https://newrepublic.com/article/156376/trump-official-obliterate-public-lands

It’s a natural fit for an administration as chaotic and corrupt as President Donald Trump’s that William Perry Pendley, who loathes America’s public lands, was picked last September, and reappointed in January, to manage them. The Bureau of Land Management, which Pendley now directs, oversees more acreage of the public domain than any other federal agency. Thus far, protests from outraged environmentalists—who view the move as “akin to naming a notorious arsonist as chief of the local fire department,” in the words of Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C.—have failed to disrupt his tenure.

...

In an op-ed published last November in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Pendley stated it is now policy that BLM law officers will defer to self-proclaimed “constitutionalist” county sheriffs who have vowed not to enforce federal environmental laws on public lands. Pendley’s Review-Journal piece was “a dog whistle to the extremists of the anti-public-lands movement,” wrote Erik Molvar, executive director of the Western Watersheds Project, an environmental nonprofit in Idaho. That’s in part because of the belief system of the “constitutionalist” sheriffs, not mentioned in Pendley’s piece. The Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, which Pendley has long claimed as an ally, declares on its website that “federal agencies now claiming control of land within a state should be drastically downsized and/or dismantled. County sheriffs in these states should take their rightful position and use their authority to assist in the transfer of control of the land.”

There’s also a more immediate reason to be worried about the new BLM position. “That stuff Pendley said about being subservient to sheriffs is downright dangerous,” John Freemuth, the Cecil Andrus endowed chair of Environment and Public Lands at Boise State University, told me. “When you’re a BLM ranger out there in the middle of nowhere, and you run into these crazy public lands people, like the followers of the Bundys, I wonder what’s going to happen when they say, ‘Your boss says you’re subservient, and I’m going to do whatever I want, and you’re not going to stop me.’ It’s one of the most irresponsible things I’ve seen in public lands management.”

The risk of physical conflict isn’t merely hypothetical. In a study published last May, Zoe Nemerever, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego, found counties run by constitutionalist sheriffs were 50 percent “more likely to have violence against BLM employees than other counties, even when controlling for other factors.” The decisions and pronouncements of elected and appointed officials, Nemerever wrote, “may promote political violence against federal employees.”

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Over 100 US troops have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries following Iran strike
Barbara Starr-Profile-Image

By Barbara Starr, CNN Pentagon Correspondent

https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/10/politics/traumatic-brain-injuries-iran-strike/index.html

(CNN) Over 100 US service members have been diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injuries in the wake of the January 8 Iranian missile attack on the al Asad military base in Iraq, according to a US official with knowledge of the latest information.

Later on Monday the Pentagon released a statement confirming that 109 service members had been diagnosed, an increase of 45 from the end of January when they said 64 service members had been suffered injuries.

The statement added that nearly 70% of the injured service members have returned to duty.

"We are grateful to the efforts of our medical professionals who have worked diligently to ensure the appropriate level of care for our service members, which has enabled nearly 70 percent of those diagnosed to return to duty. We must continue to address physical and mental health together," Pentagon press secretary Alyssa Farah said in a statement.

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Exclusive: Justice Department anti-human trafficking grants prompt whistleblower complaint
Sarah N. Lynch
February 10, 2020

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-justice-grants-exclusive/exclusive-justice-department-anti-human-trafficking-grants-prompt-whistleblower-complaint-idUSKBN20425G?il=0

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Justice Department anti-human trafficking grant program is facing internal complaints, after two nonprofits were denied funding in favor of two less established groups whose applications were not recommended by career DOJ officials.

The awarding of more than $1 million total to the two groups, Hookers for Jesus in Nevada and the Lincoln Tubman Foundation in South Carolina, has triggered a whistleblower complaint filed by the Justice Department’s employee union to the department’s Inspector General.

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