It looks like there will be justice for immigrant soldier Lucas Calixto, who was among the estimated 40 immigrant recruits who had recently been discharged or fallen into “questionable” status by the government, with no explanation as to why. Following a lawsuit—an considerable public backlash—“the Army has reversed its widely covered decision ... in what his lawyer called an acknowledgment that the move was ‘improper.’” The discharge had blindsided Calixto, a 28-year-old recruit from Brazil, who had been “deemed to exhibit honorable service as recently as May and earned a recent promotion.” But, as Washington Post reporter Alex Horton tweeted, “there is evidence,” going back at least a year, that “the government is trying to strangle the immigrant recruitment program with bureaucracy.” Calixto sued in June, claiming “the Army violated its own policies by not explaining why he was separated or giving him a chance to respond. The Army’s discharge also violated constitutional protections of due process under the Fifth Amendment, the lawsuit claimed.” It’s not clear how much public reaction factored into the government’s reversal, but if that is the case, it wouldn’t be the first instance. Last March, the administration had to be publicly shamed into dropping deportation proceedings against Elia Crawford, the spouse of a special forces veteran. “After the Crawfords’ story published, Military Times was contacted by several other families also facing the deportation of a spouse.” What a heartfelt thanks to the thousands of immigrant service members, and immigrant loved ones of service members, who have been willing to sacrifice sweat, tears and blood for love of country. Meanwhile, the traitorous commander in chief shamelessly sides with an authoritarian who ordered an attack on the U.S., and will very likely attempt further attacks in the future. Horton also tweeted that the reversal is “one of few acknowledgements the military has violated its own policies when removing immigrants serving in uniform.” Calixto’s attorney agrees. “We are pleased that the Army recognized that Mr. Calixto’s discharge was improper,” Douglas Baruch said, “and will be revoked within two days. He and we know of no reason why the Army wouldn’t want him to complete his eight-year service commitment.” Others discharged like Calixto deserve their justice too.
Russian asset Donald Trump is still denying Russia's ongoing interference in our elections, and thus far Senate Republicans are doing little more than wringing their hands over it. House Republicans, however, are going along with it, refusing to allow a vote on a Democratic amendment to fund election systems protection on a spending bill that would end funding for grants that help states to protect their elections systems from cyber attacks and hacking. Just to make this clear: the Republican spending bill takes ends that grant funding AND they refuse to consider reinstating it. Democrats lined up on the floor to demand the funding. “News flash, Mr. Speaker,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., “I hope my Republican friends are listening: Russia was just caught meddling in our election. In fact, meddling is not strong enough. They attacked our country.” […] “The refusal to appropriate a dime for state defense against Russian interference really represents nothing less than unilateral disarmament,” said Texas Democrat Lloyd Doggett when he joined the parade of unanimous consent requests for a vote on the amendment sponsored by Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill. Republicans blocked that consent, which means they're basically siding with Trump on his fight with the entire U.S. intelligence community on Russian election interference. It also means states will have to find other funding to fight it.
Events from the last week have surfaced at a moment that seems almost too perfect. As reported in the New York Times … According to the complaint unsealed on Monday, Ms. Butina’s promotional activities for Russian political interests included attending the National Prayer Breakfast twice. Why was Butina, a covert agent of the Russian government posing as a representative of a pro-gun group connected to the NRA, there at the National Prayer Breakfast? Because that’s where the Republicans were. That’s where the Right was. Because: God, guns, and gays. The phrase “God, guns, and gays” is often falsely attributed to President Obama, or Nancy Pelosi, or Hillary Clinton. But that’s not where it originated. It came out of the 1994 campaign of Republican Senator Jim Inhofe—he of the snowball in the Senate, climate change-denying fame. The phrase “God, guns, and gays” wasn’t coined by Inhofe’s team as an insult. It was intended to focus Oklahoma voters on social issues, so they would ignore Republican economic and environmental policies that were ruining their towns and lives. It was a strategy. For Russians looking a way to upend American politics, it was a road map. For decades, the Republican Party had made taking a strong stand against Russia part of its core identity. After all, it was hard to position the GOP as the party of patriotism and defense, if it didn’t make a show of standing up to America’s greatest international opponent. But just as Gods, guns, and gays was a way to make a “shotgun wedding” of a supposedly charitable religion and an anything-but political party, Russia saw that it also offered a path to not just reconciling Republicans with Moscow, but making them as thoroughly owned by the Kremlin as the Religious Right is by the GOP. Maria Butina, though only a 22-year-old student, saw this clearly at least as early as 2011. So did her boss, Russian oligarch Alexander Torshin. In that year, Butina formed the faux pro-gun group “Right to Bear Arms,” not to actually champion the cause of gun rights in Russia, but as a way to reach out to the NRA and the right wing in the United States. Bolstered by money and praise from Torshin, the non-existent “group” became an almost overnight power on the American right. As the Washington Post documents, it took only months for Butina to secure connections within the NRA. Less than two years after she began, former Russia hawk John Bolton was recording what amounted to a commercial for her group. By 2014, both Torshin and Butina were at the NRA convention, where they were treated as celebrities.
Even though the Democrats won't choose their nominee to take on Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey until Aug. 28, Politico reports that the Republican Governors Association (RGA) is launching a $1 million ad campaign targeting two hopefuls, Arizona State University professor David Garcia and activist Kelly Fryer. So far at least, the RGA appears to be ignoring state Sen. Steve Farley, the third candidate in the contest. Both spots try to argue that the Democrats want to abolish ICE and put Arizonans in danger, a theme we’re almost certainly going to see a whole lot more of both here and in other races across the country. However, as we’ll explain, Democrats have a good model to follow to push back and prevent Trump and his allies from caricaturing them this way. Both the RGA’s anti-Garcia and anti-Fryer ads are almost identical. The narrator in each case declares that even though ICE officers are guarding against gangs and keeping the country safe from drugs, as well as rescuing young girls from sex trafficking, the Democrat being attacked «and other radicals demand we abolish ICE.» The only real difference between the two spots is that the anti-Garcia ad features a clip of him saying, «ICE is committing some historic atrocities,» while there is no comparable footage of Fryer. However, Fryer recently said at a debate that she has wanted to abolish ICE for years, adding that Trump’s family detention policies won’t end “until we dismantle ICE—and the racist, fear-based culture that led to its formation in 2003, allowed it to continue under Obama, and has given it horrific powers now under Trump.” By contrast, Farley said he favors fixing the agency rather than scrapping it. Garcia, who’s decisively led in recent primary polling, has said the United States must «rebuild our immigration system top-to-bottom and start by replacing ICE with an immigration system that reflects our American values.» However, Garcia has argued that the issue is too complex to be reduced to a simple debate about whether or not to abolish ICE, saying, “It’s a false choice between Trump’s cruelty towards families and towards separating children and Ducey enabling that cruelty and this open borders discussion." Of course, as these ads and about every other Trump tweet will tell you, the GOP very much wants to frame this election as a referendum between guarding the border or allowing drugs and crime to flourish. And while it's not clear why the RGA is airing ads against two of the Democratic candidates this far from the primary rather than just waiting to train their fire on whomever wins the primary in six weeks, it's very possible they're hoping to caricature them early.
Last week, in an official after-action report, FEMA admitted that it botched the response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Among things cited in the report were an acknowledgement that the agency had too many inexperienced personnel, too few supplies, difficulty in coordinating logistics and in working with local government on the island. And as more information comes to light, we are learning the full extent of the government’s negligence and ongoing failure in supporting Puerto Ricans through this crisis. In addition to its initial emergency response, FEMA has also been working with homeowners over the last ten months to provide assistance in repairing the damage caused by the hurricane. But this too has proven to be a bureaucratic nightmare. Hundreds of thousands of homeowners were initially denied aid by FEMA and appealed—only to be left waiting indefinitely for a decision. So far, 79 percent of the appeals have been denied or not answered. FEMA has already denied more than 335,000 applications. And, to date, out of 43,000 appealed cases, only 7,500 have been approved and more than 34,000 have been deemed ineligible. One of the significant challenges that Puerto Ricans have encountered in applying for FEMA aid is in proving ownership of the homes that they live in. This is because many people do not possess the required formal documentation due to a long-standing tradition on the island of illegal construction in low-income areas, combined with people inheriting land and building on it which is then passed down through generations without paperwork. Estimates suggest that more than half of the island’s infrastructure has been informally built and these are cultural practices that have existed for decades without much issue. In the meantime, FEMA says that there are alternatives for proving ownership such as demonstration of payment of property tax or maintenance of the residence. But advocates for Puerto Rican homeowners say that FEMA is remarkably inconsistent with how it denies or grants aid. Moreover, there are questions about FEMA’s verification process with some island residents saying that FEMA claim inspectors didn’t actually complete their jobs. Complaints range from inspectors not speaking Spanish, to not entering homes to complete an inspection and not returning to homes if the homeowner wasn’t present. Given FEMA’s lack of efficiency, the Puerto Rican government has now turned to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help them develop a disaster recovery plan which could help to rebuild neighborhoods. So far, HUD has invested $20 million into Puerto Rico’s recovery.
Campaign Action Brett Kavanaugh, Russian asset Donald Trump's pick to join the nation's highest court of law, has some problematic views on executive power. Those views are made even more problematic given the current executive, who just happens to be under criminal investigation for possible conspiracy with a foreign adversary in the 2016 election. And those problems just ratcheted up with video dug up by CNN of an appearance by Kavanaugh at the American Enterprise Institute in March, 2016. He was asked what case he would overturn if he could, and at first played it cagey, because of course he knew he was on a number of short lists for the Supreme Court should a Republican win the White House. If you're on that list, you don't say controversial stuff out loud. But he just couldn't resist on this one. «Actually, I'm going to say one. Morrison v. Olson. It's been effectively overruled, but I would put the final nail in,» according to a video of the event What's Morrison v. Olson? It was a Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of provisions creating an independent counsel under the 1978 Ethics in Government Act. The independent counsel law expired in 1999 and was replaced by the somewhat weaker Justice Department's special counsel regulation. That's what Robert Mueller is now operating under. But Kavanaugh wants to put the «final nail» in it, ending any possibility of Congress's power to investigate the president. Which is kind of interesting, since Kavanaugh was on Ken Starr's team that hounded then-President Bill Clinton with a broad array of conspiracy theories. Since then, Kavanaugh has changed his tune, because now he believes a president should be beyond Congress's reach. Kavanaugh's belief, argued in an article that he authored in 2008 for the Minnesota Law Review, that «the President should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office» is well-known. He argued there that the executive basically can't be indicted, sued, or even investigated. Because he (and it will probably always be «he» in Kavanaugh's world) is president. Period. He proved just how much he means that just two years ago, in those remarks to the AEI. In a normal world, that would be something the Senate would want to examine very carefully since it's their very power he wants to curtail. But this isn't a normal world. Senate Republicans will have no problem ceding that power, but it's enough on its own for any Democrat to reject Kavanaugh.
NHTSA agreed with some, but not all the recommendations the DOT's Inspector General offered.
We're about to get an eargasm of stand-up specials.
The CEC has said allowing pellet export would generate more demand for ore produced in Karnataka
Sinclair isn't giving up yet as it tries to close the $3.9 billion deal to buy Tribune.
This probably isn't something you can knock out on your lunch break.
Its owner has a thing for the color green, if you couldn't tell.
At $250, the Essential Phone was arguably the best deal of Amazon Prime Day. Which is saying a lot. But no matter how you slice it, 50 percent off an Android flagship is a pretty tough deal to beat. I know of at least one TechCruncher who couldn’t resist the lure of that kind of […]
There’s a special place in hell for people who think it’s funny to rape a 7-year old girl’s avatar in an online virtual world designed for children. Yes, that happened. Roblox, a hugely popular online game for kids, was hacked by an individual who subverted the game’s protection systems in order to have customized animations […]
The New York City Council has voted in favor of a new law requiring Airbnb and similar companies to share data on their users. The company has fought the law tooth and nail, but city authorities say it's basically common sense for the local government to be informed of the number and nature of residents using the service.
Hmm. Well, after Coinbase confirmed to Bloomberg (and us) that they had received regulatory approval for some acquisitions that would let it eventually usher in trading tokenized securities on its exchange, the company is now walking back which agencies it received approval from. While a Coinbase spokesperson had initially indicated that the company had received […]
When plants fight back, the results can be pretty painful.
Facebook wants to expand your Messenger contact list with a little help from Instagram. The company has launched a feature in Messenger that pulls in your contacts from Instagram, if you opt to connect your account. The option appears in Messenger’s “People” tab, alongside the existing option to sync your phone’s contacts with Messenger. The […]
Twelve years ago, the Aston Martin DB5 that was used in Goldfinger went for a cool $2 million at auction. Thanks to Lego, you can now get your hands on one for a […] The post Lego Reveals James Bond Aston Martin DB5 appeared first on Geek.com.
BIG SUR, Calif. (AP) - A scenic stretch of Highway 1 in a popular tourist area along the California coast reopened to traffic Wednesday, more than a year after it was blocked by a massive landslide, officials said. The newly built, two-lane stretch of road in Big Sur opened two ...
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - A fast-moving grass fire fueled by gusting winds in the Pacific Northwest has forced dozens of households to evacuate and prompted Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to declare an emergency Wednesday. The flames near the city of The Dalles started Tuesday and expanded overnight to more than ...
What’s better than a Super Mario Bros. lamp? More than one Super Mario Bros. lamp! If you love the red-and-blue maybe-plumber and need light to function in your home or workplace, ThinkGeek offers […] The post Geek Pick: Jumping Super Mario Question Block Lamp appeared first on Geek.com.
DENVER (AP) - Visitors appear to be steering clear of some U.S. national parks or cutting visits short because of pollution levels that are comparable to what's found in major cities, according to a study released Wednesday. Researchers at Iowa State and Cornell universities looked at more than two decades ...
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin rocket company has shot a capsule higher into space than it's ever done before. The company's New Shepard rocket blasted off Wednesday on a test flight from West Texas. Once the booster separated, the capsule's escape motor fired, lifting the spacecraft ...
The NASCAR Cup Series has not raced on a dirt track since 1970 in North Carolina, but Cup drivers such as Chip Ganassi Racing's Kyle Larson have calendars that include racing on dirt tracks in sprint cars.Full-time Cup driver Ryan Newman will drive in Wednesday's Eldora dirt track race, an increasingly popular event since Stewart bought the circuit in 2004.It will host the third-tier ... Keep reading
FRR announced Wednesday that 5-Hour Energy, which served as the primary sponsor on Truex’s No. 78 Toyota in 14 races this season and a co-primary with Bass Pro Shops in 30, is ending its NASCAR involvement at the conclusion of the 2018 season.The energy shot company joined Furniture Row in 2017, serving as primary sponsor on the No. 77 Toyota with rookie Erik Jones, as well as a ... Keep reading
It’s no secret that LeBron James wants to own an NBA team after his playing days are over, but that doesn’t appear to be the only sport he has an interest in.According to James’s business partner Maverick Carter, the Los Angeles Lakers forward has already looked into football ownership as well as part of his future plans.“He does like football and he’s looked at football ownership, so he’ll be owning a basketball team and running it,” Carter told Variety’s Audrey Cleo.James has openly said his ambition in retirement is to own and run an NBA franchise. His NFL aspirations are new. Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise. We already knew LeBron loves the sport, because nobody would watch it the way he does if they didn’t.
BALTIMORE (AP) Buried in the AL East cellar and well on their way to a second straight losing season, the Baltimore Orioles enter the so-called second half with this unavoidable realization: It's time to break up the band.
The most fascinating part of the Kawhi Leonard for DeMar DeRozan deal isn’t about Leonard wanting out of San Antonio, it isn’t about DeRozan wanting to stay in Toronto and it sure as hell isn’t about what this means for the Lakers — it’s about this idea of workplace happiness and how neither of the stars included in this blockbuster trade will have it for the foreseeable future.It’s been reported that Leonard has no desire to play in Toronto, and everything suggests that he still has his heart set on Los Angeles once his yearlong stint in Canada is over. DeRozan expressed through Instagram stories that he isn’t happy about the move to Texas and feels like he was lied to by the Toronto front office. With both narratives overlapping, the general public can’t decide whether the player forcing his way out or the team shipping the player away is more troubling, and searching for the right answer to such a dynamic question could be upsetting to anyone.With two disgruntled players swapping franchises, there is going