Sunday :: June 17, 2018

Colombia Elects a New President

Update: With 54% of the vote counted, right wing candidate Ivan Duque has been elected President of Colombia. Really disappointing. Both candidates had a female running mate. Marta Lucía Ramírez will be the first female VP of Colombia. (Had Petro won, the VP would have been Ángela María Robledo. As of the results so far, Duque won in Medellin by 500,000 votes while Petro won in Bogota by 400,000 votes.

Original Post:

Colombia voted in the runoff election today for President. Their choice is right-wing Ivan Duque or leftist Gustavo Petro, a former M-19 rebel and Mayor of Bogota. Harvard-educated Duque, who has the support of evangelicals and ultraconservatives that reject gay marriage and adoption, as well as uber-right former President Alvaro Uribe, and is a huge proponent of escalating the war on drugs, is favored to win. It's seen as a classic fight between right and left. [More...]

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At the Border: Families Torn Apart

From Texas Monthly: "What's Really Happening at the Border" -- an interview with Anne Chandler, "executive director of the Houston office of the nonprofit Tahirih Justice Center, which focuses on helping immigrant women and children, she has been traveling to the border and to detention centers, listening to the parents’ stories." What they do:

We run the Children’s Border Project, and we work with hundreds of kids that have been released from ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement) care. We are not a legal service provider that does work when they’re in the shelters. To date, most of our work with that issue of family separation has been working with the parents in the days when they are being separated: when they’re in the federal courthouse being convicted; partnering with the federal public defenders; and then in the adult detention center, as they have no idea how to communicate or speak to their children or get them back before being deported.


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Saturday :: June 16, 2018

Rudy on the Prowl: Women First, Joe Biden Next

While third wife Judith insists Ruy is a "cheating liar" due to his relationship with Maria Ryan, which Rudy denies existed or occurred after their separation, Rudy is not deterred. In fact, Maria Ryan is so last week.

This week Rudy is pursuing yet another romance, with Jennifer LeBlanc, a Louisiana Republican fundraiser and former financial chair of Rudy's 2008 campaign. She is a widow, her husband died in a plane crash. At the time of her death, she and her husband were under criminal investigation. Neither were charged.

LeBlanc was the Louisiana finance chair for Giuliani's 2008 presidential campaign. She is a partner at LeBlanc & Associates, where she and her partner provide fundraising and consulting advice to clients in the state as well as to some prominent Louisiana officeholders in D.C.

...LeBlanc inherited substantial business assets after the death of her husband, Pat LeBlanc, a Lafayette, Louisiana businessman. He died in a plane crash at 53 while under investigation for an alleged bribery scandal for a Leblanc company that provided concessions services to Texas prisons. They proclaimed their innocence and were never charged. (my emphasis)

Rudy, who I would bet hasn't seen the inside of a state court in decades, last month entered his appearance in an auto insurance fraud case in Ft. Lauderdale where the defendant is Maria Ryan's daughter, who he said is his personal assistant.[More...]

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Thursday :: June 14, 2018

Thursday Open Thread

I haven't seen any news yet today, so here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Wednesday :: June 13, 2018

Ivanka's "Chinese Proverb"

Here's a tracing of the "Chinese Proverb" Ivanka used on Twitter.

The tweet said:

People Who Say It Cannot Be Done Should Not Interrupt Those Who Are Doing It

The NY Times reports China is confused by the tweet.

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Guiliani Jr.'s West Wing Security Access Revoked

Andrew Giuliani, all grown up now, got a job at the White House. After Donald Trump and Pappa Rudy had dinner, Trump promised Andrew a promotion to Special Assistant to the Pr*esident. And then, bang, Gen, John Kelly took it away.

According to Axios, Kelly and others believe that Andrew "subverts the chain of command." Kelly stripped Andrew of his West Wing access about two weeks ago, Axios reported, leaving him with a "green pass." That means he cannot enter the West Wing without an escort.

Donald Trump's nepotism and employment of children with no skills in government is remarkable.

Meanwhile, Secret Service spent Tuesday night parked outside Kimberly Gilfoyle's apartment because Don Jr. spent the night there. (One mistake in the article: Guildfoyle was never the District Attorney for San Francisco, which is an elected position. She was a deputy DA).

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Tuesday :: June 12, 2018

Michael Cohen Denies Report He Expects Imminent Arrest

According to Vanity Fair, Michael Cohen is expecting to be arrested within days. Neither Cohen nor Trump filed objections to the Special Masters' Report as to which documents it agreed were protected by the attorney client privilege and should not be turned over to prosecutors. (No link due to autoplay video ad):

Trump allies view the legal cloud hanging over Trump’s former attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, as at least as ominous as the obstruction investigation. According to a source close to Cohen, Cohen has told friends that he expects to be arrested any day now. (Reached for comment, Cohen wrote in a text message, “Your alleged source is wrong!”) The specter of Cohen flipping has Trump advisers on edge. “Trump should be super worried about Michael Cohen,” a former White House official said. “If anyone can blow up Trump, it’s him.”

Cohen responded that VF's source was wrong.

CNBC has this summary with additional sources and a copy of the Special Master's Report.

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Friday :: June 08, 2018

R.I.P. Anthony Bourdain

Three suicides by hanging in one week: First Kate Spade, then the sister of the Queen of Holland and now Anthony Bourdain.

I wasn't a frequent watcher of Bourdain's show, although I've seen several of them. He's someone you had to be in the mood for. I liked his shows on Asia. A few weeks ago I saw the episode of him eating with President Obama in Vietnam. But the episode that has stuck with me the most was one filmed in Miami a few years ago with a segment featuring Iggy Pop. Bourdain has explained he was an absolute fanboy of everything Iggy. Bourdain wrote at the time the show was about to air (in 2015):[More...]

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Thursday :: June 07, 2018

Thursday Open Thread

I'm off to the jail in the mountains and won't be back until after dinner. It's a beautiful day for the drive though.

In the news, Argentina has charged Pablo Escobar's widow and son with money laundering. I tried to read the 57 page order in Spanish, but all I got was the investigation was started due to information received from our holy global warriors, the DEA, in conjunction with Colombia, who passed it on to Argentina. At first there wasn't enough evidence to charge them, but the court now believes there is. They will both remain free pending the outcome.

The charges seem to be that they invested money with a drug trafficker in Colombia named José Bayron Piedrahita Ceballos, who worked with the "Office of Evigago" and Cali Cartel who also managed investments in Colombia and Argentina. He was arrested last year and is awaiting extradition to the U.S. on bribery and obstruction of justice charges in the Southern District of Florida. The Indictment is here. (He allegedly bribed an ICE agent.) [More...]

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Wednesday :: June 06, 2018

Trump Commutes Alice Johnson's Sentence

Donald Trump has commuted the life sentence of Alice Marie Johnson, who came to his attention through Kim Kardashian, who learned of Johnson on Twitter.

As Kevin Drum writes at Mother Jones, while Johnson should have her sentence commuted, Trump is not due any praise for this.

Just in case anyone is tempted to praise Trump for this, please don’t. Sure, Johnson deserved to have her sentence commuted in some way, and I’m happy for her personally. But Trump has turned the pardon power into a cynical PR tool and this is just more of the same. The pardon power isn’t meant to be a lottery played out at the whim of a man-child in the White House who’s discovered a shiny new toy.


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Mexico Imposes Tariffs on U.S. Exports

Mexico has carried through with its threat to impose tariffs on some items the U.S. exports to Mexico.

With its presidential election 26 days away, Mexico’s government imposed a 20 percent tariff on U.S. pork, apples and potatoes and 20 to 25 percent tariffs on cheese and bourbon. Mexico tailored the list of retaliatory duties to hit states governed by senior Republicans, such as the bourbon produced in the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).

Donald Trump: The art of the deal, he is not. Not only is Mexico not paying for his wall, now U.S. manufacturers of these goods will suffer. According to Quartz, Trump's steel tariffs will cost Americans 400,000 jobs.

Here is an NPR article from 2015, How NAFTA changed American (and Mexican) Food Forever, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's May 31, 2018 quarterly report, Outlook for U.S. Agricultural Trade.

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Tuesday :: June 05, 2018

Trump Blames Jeff Sessions... Again

Donald Trump today blamed Jeff Sessions (yet again) for the Russia "witch hunt, writing on his Twitter account:

The Russian Witch Hunt Hoax continues, all because Jeff Sessions didn’t tell me he was going to recuse himself...I would have quickly picked someone else. So much time and money wasted, so many lives ruined...and Sessions knew better than most that there was No Collusion!

Trump is becoming predictable in his attempts to steer the headlines away from the alleged ongoing malfeasance of so many people connected to him. Paul Manafort is now accused of witness tampering while on bail for which the government is seeking to modify or revoke his release order. A hearing will be held next week. [More...]

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Monday :: June 04, 2018

Monday Open Thread

We haven't had an open thread in a while. Here's a new one, all topics welcome.

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Trump Claims He Has Authority to Pardon Himself

The Trump and Giuliani show continues. Donald Trump today said he absolutely has the right to pardon himself, but he has no reason to do so because he has done nothing wrong.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)responded on Twitter, disagreeing and citing an Office of Legal Counsel memo written four days before Nixon resigned. He quotes from the memo:

“Under the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case, the President cannot pardon himself,”

His tweet continues:

I know you have attention span problems, but it’s the first sentence: [Memo link]

The memo further explains:[More...]

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Supreme Court Rules Against Gay Couple in Wedding Cake Case

In a 7 to 2 ruling, the Supreme Court sided with the baker who refused to take an order for a gay wedding cake. From the opinion, available here.

....religious and philosophical objections to gay marriage are protected views and in some instances protected forms of expression.

The Court's ruling seems to be a limited one, turning on the Court's finding the Colorado Civil Rights Commission was prejudiced against the baker. [More...]

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