2019-01-01 00:00:00 ..
2019-05-18 18:06:00 UTC
2019-05-19 12:21:38 UTC
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President Donald Trump appears to have changed his story about a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower that is pivotal to the special counsel's investigation, tweeting that his son met with a Kremlin-connected lawyer to collect information about his political opponent.
[...] That is a far different explanation than Trump gave 13 months ago, when a statement dictated by the president but released under the name of Donald Trump Jr., read: "We primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children that was active and popular with American families years ago."
TechCrunch has written about the FCCs pre-emptive reaction to the new inspector general report regarding an alleged attack on the FCC comment system last year which the FCC had long alluded to concerning the net neutrality debate. The FCC now admits that the attacks never actually took place, after a report from its inspector general found a lack of evidence supporting the idea. Chairman Ajit Pai immediately turned around and blamed both the previous CIO and ... wait for it ... Obama.
Pai's statement was issued before the OIG publicized its report, as one does when a report is imminent that essentially says your agency has been clueless at best or deliberately untruthful at worst, and for more than a year. To be clear, the report is still unpublished, though its broader conclusions are clear from Pai's statement. In it he slathers Bray with the partisan brush and asserts that the report exonerates his office
TechCrunch is still waiting to hear back from the FCC and its Office of the Inspector General for more information, including the report itself.
Abortion rights advocates are exploring how technology might preserve or even expand women's access to abortion if the Supreme Court scales back Roe v. Wade. A nonprofit group is testing whether it's safe to let women take abortion pills in their own homes after taking screening tests and consulting with a doctor on their phones or computers. Because the study is part of an FDA clinical trial, the group isn't bound by current rules requiring the drugs be administered in a doctor's office or clinic.
The group, called Gynuity Health Projects, is carrying out the trial in five states that already allow virtual doctors to oversee administration of the abortion pill, and may expand to others. If the trial proves that allowing women to take the pill at home is safe — under a virtual doctor's supervision — the group hopes the FDA could eventually loosen restrictions to allow women to take pills mailed to them after the consult. If FDA took that step, it could even help women in states with restrictive abortion laws get around them, potentially blurring the strict boundaries between abortion laws in different states if — as is likely — the Senate confirms a high court justice who is open to further limits on Roe.
[...] Right now, even in states that allow a licensed provider to administer the abortion pill by video hookup, the provider must watch, in person or by video, as a woman takes the first medication in a clinic or other health care setting. The drugs abort the fetus without surgery but are safe and effective only in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. If the group's study shows it's safe for women to administer the drug themselves after an online consultation with a health care provider, it will petition the FDA to lift the requirement.
Or: Get a drug printer, download drug plans, print desired drug.
In related news, CBS News notes that "while the White House can act on its own, those changes could always be undone by future administrations" while reporting that members of Congress have prepared several bills which would revise the Endangered Species Act.
The California Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked a proposal that would split the state into three from the November ballot.
The court wrote that it took the step "because significant questions have been raised regarding the proposition's validity and because we conclude that the potential harm in permitting the measure to remain on the ballot outweighs the potential harm in delaying the proposition to a future election."
Last week, an environmental group sued to have the measure removed from the ballot. To substantially alter the state's governance under the California constitution, the group argued, a constitutional convention would need to be called -- and that requires a supermajority of both houses of the state's legislature. A ballot initiative, the group said, was constitutionally insufficient.
Asked if he would continue fighting for the measure, Draper said in an email to Bloomberg News that "the same six lawyers are going to make the decision. What would be the point? They have just proven that California has a runaway government and the people have no say."
Draper, a venture capitalist, sought the initiative because he said the world's fifth-largest economy is "nearly ungovernable" under the current system. Asked if there was anything else he planned to do to make the government more accountable, he said he was "still recovering from the shock."
Against the constant warnings of a bipartisan group of senators, the U.S. has finalized its deal with Chinese telecommunications giant ZTE, lifting its April ban.
The Commerce Department announced the decision to lift the ban on the Chinese-linked company after it completed its side of the terms of the deal by placing $400 million in a U.S.-approved escrow account. ZTE paid a $1 billion fine and replaced its board of executives as well.
“While we lifted the ban on ZTE, the department will remain vigilant as we closely monitor ZTE’s actions to ensure compliance with all U.S. laws and regulations,” Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross wrote in a statement, Reuters reported.
A bipartisan group of senators led by Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, are vocally opposing the White House’s deal. Other senators opposing the agreement include Democrat Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Republican Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Democrat Mark Warner of Virginia, and Republican Roy Blunt of Missouri.
The bipartisan group of senators wrote an open letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees asking them to make amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that includes provisions against ZTE.
“We strongly oppose the June 2018 deal with ZTE negotiated by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to lift the seven-year ban against the export of U.S. parts and components to ZTE,” the senators wrote.
Schumer was able to make an amendment to the Senate’s version of the NDAA that includes that keeps in place[sic] the provisions against ZTE.
Common Dreams reports
Hundreds of thousands of anti-Trump demonstrators took to the streets of London and in separate protests across the U.K. on Friday [July 13] in a massive and historic show of opposition to a sitting U.S. president.
After Donald Trump was greeted with angry protesters as he arrived in London on Thursday to meet with U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May, a 20-foot-tall Trump baby blimp took flight over the city early on Friday as the massive "Carnival of Resistance" protests--which are slated to last through the weekend--kicked off.
[...] Several of the events have been organized by the Stop Trump Coalition, which played a key role in Trump's previous canceled trips and [who] warns that "Trumpism directly threatens steps towards tackling" several issues including inequality, peace and disarmament, climate change, fighting discrimination--"particularly against already marginalized groups like migrants and Muslims"--and corporate greed. The Trump administration's family separation policy has further fueled widespread outrage and opposition to his visit.
 I'm not crazy about their page construction, but WOW! are they ever organized otherwise.
Metro News notes
A dozen Russian intelligence officers have been charged with conspiring to hack Democrats during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to a new indictment in the probe led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.
The 12 were members of Russian military intelligence, known as the GRU, and are accused of engaging in a sustained effort to hack the computer networks of Democratic organizations and the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein detailed the new charges at a mid-day press conference. Mueller, as has been his practice, did not attend the announcement. Court records show a grand jury Mueller has been using returned an indictment Friday morning.
The announcement comes days before President Trump is due to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland. Rosenstein said he briefed Trump earlier this week on the charges
[...] Rosenstein said the suspects worked to "hack into computers, steal documents, and release those documents with the intent to interfere with the election."
The Center for American Progress reports
Patagonia will continue its record of encouraging its workers and customers to be politically engaged by closing its doors on Election Day 2018, the Washington Post reports.
Citing low voter participation and its own history of advancing environmental causes, the outdoor retailer decided giving its workers a chance to vote was the right thing to do. Company spokeswoman Corley Kenna told the Post, "What's the most impactful thing we can do in an election? That's to get people to vote."
This isn't the first time the outdoor retailer has made Election Day a holiday for its workers. The company also closed its doors on Election Day 2016 as part of its "Vote Our Planet" campaign. Patagonia again cited low voter turnout across the country as the basis for its decision and said that "America needs strong leadership to confront the fundamental threat of climate change."
[...] During the 2016 election, it hosted political events in its own stores, inviting customers to talk environmentalism and the role of politics in keeping the planet healthy.
Patagonia also used the opportunity to help customers register to vote. Its "Vote Our Planet" campaign was aimed at turning out environmentally conscious voters in races at every level of government.
President Trump announced his selection of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be his second Supreme Court justice Monday night. Speaking in the East Room of the White House, the president said that what mattered to him was "not a judge's political views, but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require."
"I am pleased to say that I have found, without a doubt, such a person," he said in announcing Kavanaugh's nomination. "There is no one in America more qualified for this position and no one more deserving," the president also said. The D.C. Circuit Appeals Court judge "has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications, and aproven commitment to equal justice under the law," the president continued. He's "a judge's judge, a true thought leader among his peers. He's a brilliant jurist with a clear and effective writing style, universally regarded as one of the finest and sharpest legal minds of our time."
Kavanaugh thanked the president for the nomination, and in anticipating his coming meetings with senators on Capitol hill tomorrow, said, "I believe that an independent judiciary is the crown jewel of our constitutional republic." He promised, "If confirmed by the Senate, I will keep an open mind in every case and I will always strive to preserve the Constitution of the United States and the American rule of law."
Within a few days of Justice Anthony Kennedy's announcement that he would retire from the court this summer, Mr. Trump had narrowed the field to four: Judges Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Thomas Hardiman and Raymond Kethledge -- all young and all viewed as conservative. Ultimately, the president settled on Kavanaugh, the establishment favorite.
On the issue everyone wants to know about:
Kavanaugh has stated that he considers Roe v. Wade binding under the principle of stare decisis and would seek to uphold it, but has also ruled in favor of some restrictions for abortion.
In May 2006, Kavanaugh stated he "would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully" and that the issue of the legality of abortion has already "been decided by the Supreme Court". During the hearing, he stated that a right to an abortion has been found "many times", citing Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
In October 2017, Kavanaugh joined an unsigned divided panel opinion which found that the Office of Refugee Resettlement could prevent an unaccompanied minor in its custody from obtaining an abortion. Days later, the en banc D.C. Circuit reversed that judgment, with Kavanaugh now dissenting. The D.C. Circuit's opinion was then itself vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Garza v. Hargan (2018).
Previously: SCOTUS's Justice Anthony Kennedy to Retire