2018-07-01 00:00:00 ..
2018-09-07 15:16:19 UTC
2018-09-09 11:09:35 UTC
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A press release, dated 11 May, posted to the White House Web site (archived copy) announces (all links and party affiliations were added by the submitter):
[...] the issuance of an executive order forming the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Integrity. The President also named [Republican] Vice President Mike Pence as Chairman and Kansas Secretary of State [Republican] Kris Kobach as Vice-Chair of the Commission.
Five additional members were named to the bipartisan commission today:
Connie Lawson [Republican], Secretary of State of Indiana
Bill Gardner [Democratic], Secretary of State of New Hampshire
Matthew Dunlap [Democratic], Secretary of State of Maine
Ken Blackwell [Republican], Former Secretary of State of Ohio
Christy McCormick, Commissioner, Election Assistance Commission
The Commission on Election Integrity will study vulnerabilities in voting systems used for federal elections that could lead to improper voter registrations, improper voting, fraudulent voter registrations, and fraudulent voting. The Commission will also study concerns about voter suppression, as well as other voting irregularities. The Commission will utilize all available data, including state and federal databases.
Secretary Kobach, Vice-Chair of the Commission added: "As the chief election officer of a state, ensuring the integrity of elections is my number one responsibility. The work of this commission will assist all state elections officials in the country in understanding, and addressing, the problem of voter fraud."
Additional Commission members will be named at a later time. It is expected the Commission will spend the next year completing its work and issue a report in 2018.
According to Wikipedia's biography of Mr. Kobach (citation style changed by submitter):
Kobach has come to prominence over his hardliner views on immigration, as well as his calls for greater voting restrictions and a Muslim registry.[cite][cite][cite] Kobach regularly makes false or unsubstantiated claims about the extent of voter fraud in the United States.[cite]
As Secretary of State of Kansas, he has implemented some of the strictest voter ID legislation in the nation and has fought to remove nearly 20,000 properly registered voters from the state's voter rolls.[cite] After considerable investigation and prosecution, Kobach secured six convictions for voter fraud; all were cases of double voting and none would have been prevented by voter ID laws.
Kansas Secretary of State Finally Convicts an Immigrant of a Voting Irregularity
Former Colorado GOP chairman charged with voter fraud
Hundreds of Texans may have voted improperly
Donald Trump is Filling Out His Transition Team
Hacking Voter Registration Data in Indiana
Study Finds Texas Voter Photo ID Requirement Discourages Turnout
Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe Thursday rejected assertions by the White House that FBI employees had lost faith in James Comey and that the bureau's probe into Russian election meddling was one of its most minor concerns. "I hold Director Comey in the absolute highest regard. I have the highest respect for his considerable abilities and his integrity," McCabe told members of the Senate intelligence committee. He said Comey, who was fired by President Donald Trump on Tuesday, enjoyed "broad support within the FBI and still does to this day." He added, "The majority, the vast majority of FBI employees enjoyed a deep, positive connection to Director Comey."
Furthermore, he will inform the Senate of any interference with the Russia investigation:
Acting FBI director Andrew McCabe vowed Thursday that he would tell the Senate Intelligence Committee if the White House tried to interfere with the bureau's probe of possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election — though he asserted that there had "been no effort to impede our investigation to date."
Meanwhile, President Trump has undermined the White House's messaging on Comey's firing, saying that he planned to fire "showboat" and "grandstander" James Comey regardless of any recommendation from Attorney General Jeff Sessions or Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein. The President also insists that he is not under FBI investigation.
[Public News Service of West Virginia Reporter Daniel Ralph Heyman] has been arrested and charged with "disruption of government services" in the state capitol for "yelling questions" at visiting Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price and White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway.
[...] "The above defendant was aggressively breaching the secret service agents to the point where the agents were forced to remove him a couple of times from the area walking up the hallway in the main building of the Capitol," the complaint states. It adds Heyman caused a disturbance by "yelling questions at Ms. Conway and Secretary Price."
The misdemeanor carries a possible fine of $100 and up to six months in jail.
[...] The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia called the charges "outrageous" and said the arrest was "a blatant attempt to chill an independent, free press."
"Freedom of the press is being eroded every day, " it said in a statement. "We have a president who calls the media 'fake news' and resists transparency at every turn."
The statement said this is a "dangerous time in the country."
Price and Conway were in West Virginia to discuss opioid addiction in the state, which has the highest drug overdose death rate in the nation.
FBI Director James B. Comey has been dismissed by the president [...] a startling move that officials said stemmed from a conclusion by Justice Department officials that he had mishandled the probe of Hillary Clinton's emails.
President Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey:
President Trump has fired the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, the White House said Tuesday.
[...] Under the F.B.I.'s normal rules of succession, Mr. Comey's deputy, Andrew G. McCabe, a career F.B.I. officer, becomes acting director. The White House said the search for a new director will begin immediately.
I never liked Comey (see this cluster of stories), but I doubt there will ever be an FBI Director I like.
We're Stuck With Comey
Earlier in the day...
ProPublica reports that most of FBI Director James Comey's testimony to Congress last Wednesday related to Huma Abedin's mishandling of classified emails was inaccurate, and that FBI officials are privately acknowledging the mistake(s) but are still considering their next move:
FBI director James Comey generated national headlines last week with his dramatic testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, explaining his "incredibly painful" decision to go public about the Hillary Clinton emails found on Anthony Weiner's laptop.
Perhaps Comey's most surprising revelation was that Huma Abedin — Weiner's wife and a top Clinton deputy — had made "a regular practice" of forwarding "hundreds and thousands" of Clinton messages to her husband, "some of which contain classified information." Comey testified that Abedin had done this so that the disgraced former congressman could print them out for her boss. (Weiner's laptop was seized after he came under criminal investigation for sex crimes, following a media report about his online relationship with a teenager.)
The New York Post plastered its story on the front page with a photo of an underwear-clad Weiner and the headline: "HARD COPY: Huma sent Weiner classified Hillary emails to print out." The Daily News went with a similar front-page screamer: "HUMA ERROR: Sent classified emails to sext maniac Weiner."
The problem: Much of what Comey said about this was inaccurate. Now the FBI is trying to figure out what to do about it. FBI officials have privately acknowledged that Comey misstated what Abedin did and what the FBI investigators found. On Monday, the FBI was said to be preparing to correct the record by sending a letter to Congress later this week. But that plan now appears on hold, with the bureau undecided about what to do.
[...] According to two sources familiar with the matter — including one in law enforcement — Abedin forwarded only a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing — not the "hundreds and thousands" cited by Comey. It does not appear Abedin made "a regular practice" of doing so. Other officials said it was likely that most of the emails got onto the computer as a result of backups of her Blackberry.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has chosen to replace half of the members on one of its key scientific review boards, the first step in a broader effort by Republicans to change the way the agency evaluates the scientific basis for its regulations.
The move could significantly change the makeup of the 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors, which advises EPA's key scientific arm on whether the research it does has sufficient rigor and integrity. All of the members being dismissed were at the end of serving at least one three-year term, although these terms are often renewed instead of terminated.
EPA spokesman J.P. Freire said in an email that "no one has been fired or terminated," and that Pruitt had simply decided to bring in fresh advisers. The agency informed the outside academics on Friday that their terms would not be renewed.
[...] These moves came as a surprise to the agencies' outside advisers, with several of them taking to Twitter to announce their suspensions.
Members of EPA's Board of Scientific Counselors had been informed twice — in January, before Barack Obama left office, and then more recently by EPA career staff members — that they would be kept on for another term, adding to their confusion.
We cannot allow Beijing's air quality to beat ours.
Emmanuel Macron has been declared the President of France after early vote counts:
France has a new president. Emmanuel Macron – an independent centrist who has never held elected office – has won a resounding victory over far-right, nationalist Marine Le Pen in the most important French presidential race in decades, according to early vote counts by the French Interior Ministry.
In early returns, Macron had won an estimated 65 percent of the vote to Le Pen's nearly 35 percent, according to the French Interior Ministry. Le Pen has already called to congratulate Macron and conceded defeat to a gathering of her supporters in Paris.
From CNBC: Euro hits six-month high on Macron victory
CNN editorial: Why Macron's victory is reassuring ... and yet not
BBC has an article about Macron's potential choice of Prime Minister.
On college campuses, outrage over provocative speakers sometimes turns violent.
It's becoming a pattern on campuses around the country. A speaker is invited, often by a conservative student group. Other students oppose the speaker, and maybe they protest. If the speech happens, the speaker is heckled. Sometimes there's violence.
In other cases — as with conservative commentator Ann Coulter at the University of California, Berkeley last week — the event is called off.
Now, a handful of states, including Illinois, Tennessee, Colorado and Arizona, have passed or introduced legislation designed to prevent these incidents from happening. The bills differ from state to state, but they're generally based on a model written by the Goldwater Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Arizona.
The model bill would require public universities to remain neutral on political issues, prevent them from disinviting speakers, and impose penalties for students and others who interfere with these speakers.
The author of the model bill argues that the neutrality stipulation is necessary for public institutions funded by tax dollars, "who shouldn't be forced to subsidize speech that they disagree with." In response to the legislation, a Democratic North Carolina legislator criticized the bill as an unnecessary "regulation of a constitutional right." The story also mentions that "Critics say this kind of legislation could hinder a university's ability to regulate hate speech on campus," but the bill author responds that hate speech is "not well-defined in the law."
Although the proposed legislation varies by state, the model bill linked above recommends a number of initiatives, from clear campus policies on protecting free speech to severe disciplinary actions for students who interfere with that right. Perhaps the strongest section of the model bill would require that "Any student who has twice been found responsible for infringing the expressive rights of others will be suspended for a minimum of one year, or expelled" (Section 1.9).
In other free speech news, USA Today reports that the FCC is launching an investigation into an "obscene" joke by Stephen Colbert concerning Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, which caused a Twitter firestorm and led to a trending #FireColbert hashtag. While the joke was sexually explicit, the offensive word was bleeped in broadcast. CNN has argued that the FCC is merely doing its job in investigating "a number" of complaints, but Slate notes the high legal threshold that would be necessary for a fine in this case, given the late hour of the broadcast and the three-pronged test for obscenity.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey appeared before a U.S. Senate panel on May 3rd to defend his agency's conduct under his leadership during the 2016 elections:
Comey acknowledged that the realization the bureau could have affected the election's outcome left him feeling "mildly nauseous." But, he added, "honestly, it wouldn't change the decision." Comey has been transformed into an unusual kind of political celebrity over the past year, his decisions coming in for sharp criticism from almost every point of the political spectrum.
News reports have cited anonymous sources within the intelligence community casting him as too fond of the spotlight, despite his repeated insistence to the contrary. Whether he sought it or not, Wednesday's Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing was yet another center-stage moment for the FBI director. Cable networks carried virtually uninterrupted coverage of his testimony from the moment he took his seat before a scrum of news photographers.
Comey explained his reasoning behind the decision to inform Congress about Clinton emails discovered during an investigation into Anthony Weiner, and said that he had made the right choice. One event that factored into the decision and his earlier July 2016 announcement about the Hillary Clinton investigation was Bill Clinton's meeting with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch. At Wednesday's hearing, Comey faced criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike on topics including the FBI's delay in disclosing an investigation into the Trump campaign and the decision to not charge Huma Abedin for mishandling classified information. On the day before the hearing, Hillary Clinton blamed the FBI Director for her loss, while President Trump tweeted that "FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!"
Comey appeared to confirm that the FBI is investigating whether its agents leaked information to Rudy Giuliani, a Trump ally. He also took the time to denigrate WikiLeaks by calling it "intelligence porn", and alleging that WikiLeaks acted as a "conduit for the Russian intelligence services or some other adversary of the United States just to push out information to damage the United States". Here's what Julian Assange had to say in response. Comey did not confirm whether or not the government is planning to charge Julian Assange with crimes related to his organization's recent activities. CNN reported in April that the U.S. is preparing to charge Assange with... something, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo recently called WikiLeaks a "non-state hostile intelligence service".
Submitted via IRC for Runaway1956
Guns are not a part of the culture of my homeland, except perhaps for the occasional Bollywood movie in which the bad guy meets his demise staring down the wrong end of a barrel.
My childhood in India was steeped in ahimsa, the tenet of nonviolence toward all living things.
The Indians may have succeeded in ousting the British, but we won with Gandhian-style civil disobedience, not a revolutionary war.
I grew up not knowing a single gun owner, and even today India has one of the strictest gun laws on the planet. Few Indians buy and keep firearms at home, and gun violence is nowhere near the problem it is in the United States. An American is 12 times more likely than an Indian to be killed by a firearm, according to a recent study.
It's no wonder then that every time I visit India, my friends and family want to know more about America's "love affair" with guns.
I get the same questions when I visit my brother in Canada or on my business travels to other countries, where many people remain perplexed, maybe even downright mystified, by Americans' defense of gun rights.
I admit I do not fully understand it myself, despite having become an American citizen nearly a decade ago. So when I learn the National Rifle Association is holding its annual convention here in Atlanta, right next to the CNN Center, I decide to go and find out more.
[...] Confederate generals P.G.T. Beauregard and Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy [...]
The other monument
[...] was erected in 1891 to honor the 16 members of the White League who died during an insurrection against the integrated Reconstructionist government in Louisiana, which was based in New Orleans at the time.
Various news outlets are reporting that the latter monument, an obelisk, has been dismantled at the behest of the city government, and that the others are also set to be dismantled.