Links for 3-5-2018

  • John Kerry has been working with Iran’s ambassador to the U.N. and others to rescue the Iranian nuclear deal:

    With the Iran deal facing its gravest threat since it was signed in 2015, Kerry has been on an aggressive yet stealthy mission to preserve it, using his deep lists of contacts gleaned during his time as the top US diplomat to try to apply pressure on the Trump administration from the outside. President Trump, who has consistently criticized the pact and campaigned in 2016 on scuttling it, faces a May 12 deadline to decide whether to continue abiding by its terms.

    Kerry also met last month with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and he’s been on the phone with top European Union official Federica Mogherini, according to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal the private meetings. Kerry has also met with French President Emmanuel Macron in both Paris and New York, conversing over the details of sanctions and regional nuclear threats in both French and English.

    This is about as blatant a violation of the Logan Act as you’ll find, but Dan McLaughlin argues Congress should repeal the Logan Act.

  • The Guardian reports that the Trump administration hired an Israeli private intelligence company to investigate two Obama administration officials, Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl, whose work was instrumental on the Iran nuclear deal. The Guardian treats this an unacceptable, but of course was OK for the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to hire a former MI6 agent (Christopher Steele) to investigate Donald Trump and his campaign, relying on Russian sources for information.

  • Andrew McCarthy argues that Rod Rosenstein and Robert Mueller need to publicly state whether there’s a criminal case against Donald Trump and the nature of that case:

    In every other independent-prosecutor investigation in modern history — Watergate, Iran-Contra, Whitewater/Lewinsky — the president and the public have known exactly what was alleged. The prosecutor was able to investigate with all the secrecy the law allows, but under circumstances in which we all understood what was being investigated and why the president was suspected of wrongdoing.

    After two years, we are entitled to nothing less. The president should direct Rosenstein to outline, publicly and in detail, the good-faith basis for a criminal investigation arising out of Russia’s interference in the election — if there is one. If he can’t, Mueller’s criminal investigation should be terminated; if he can, Mueller should be compelled to explain (unless Rosenstein’s disclosure makes it clear) why he needs to interview President Trump in order to complete his work.

    If Rosenstein and Mueller are reluctant to do that, it can only be because they’ve decided that not only their investigation but also their desire for secrecy take precedence over every other consideration, including the president’s capacity to govern domestically and conduct foreign policy in a dangerous world. But secrecy is not the nation’s top priority. It’s long past time to lay the cards on the table.

  • Two of James Comey’s allies within the FBI, James Baker and Lisa Page, quit their jobs yesterday. Baker is joining the Brookings Institution.

  • The Trump administration plans to end Temporary Protected Status for 86,000 Hondurans who happened to be in the U.S. when Hurricane Mitch hit their home country in 1999. Mark Krikorian writes that Congress needs to reform this program so presidents stop abusing it.

  • Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed a fetal heartbeat bill into law, which means Iowa is now the state with the tightest restrictions on abortion. Of course implementation of the law will be blocked while it’s challenged in courts for years.

  • A magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit Hawaii’s big island after Kilauea erupted and sent lava flowing through a housing subdivision.

  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and more 1,000 other protesters were arrested ahead of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration.

Links for 5-3-2018

  • All nine crew members of the Puerto Rico Air National Guard C-130 that crashed in Georgia died.

  • American Green Berets are helping the Saudis along their border with Yemen:

    A half-dozen officials — from the United States military, the Trump administration, and European and Arab nations — said the American commandos are training Saudi ground troops to secure their border. They also are working closely with American intelligence analysts in Najran, a city in southern Saudi Arabia that has been repeatedly attacked with rockets, to help locate Houthi missile sites within Yemen.

    Along the porous border, the Americans are working with surveillance planes that can gather electronic signals to track the Houthi weapons and their launch sites, according to the officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the mission publicly.

  • Chinese military personnel at a base in Djibouti have been firing lasers at American pilots flying out of a nearby U.S. base. The U.S. filed a diplomatic protest with China over the incidents.

  • The death of Alfie Evans marked the death of natural rights:

    This is a view of the state that would tend to make self-government impossible, for it removes the ground of the difference between freedom and obedience to authority. Theoretically, such a state cannot be legitimated by the consent of the governed, because it does not secure their rights, starting with the right to life. It is legitimated instead by its expert and orderly administration of rules of its own making. Theoretically, the state has assumed control of human life and the definition of its limits—death, ultimately. The state has secured passive consent, so that if it does not face a revolution, there’s nothing to worry about.

    Kate James and Tom Evans, Alfie’s parents, argued for their freedom, and for their right to decide for their child. They obviously thought, in taking their child to the hospital, that they had certain rights as subjects of the sovereign and certain duties to their child. Had they let him die, which was what the state would later insist on doing, they might have been prosecuted for neglect. They acted freely, but at the same time compelled by necessity. They sought to match their own moral virtues with the intellectual virtues of the doctors, for the National Health Service is a public institution. This turned out to be impossible.

    Later:

    To some extent, British authority is now a suicide pact, to borrow the phrase of Justice Robert Jackson, who insisted that the U.S. Constitution was not one. Something very important has been lost if the right to life depends on circumstances ascertained by experts and decided on by judges. And if British hospital and police personnel are willing to enforce such decisions, the loss seems coextensive with the British state. It is not an exception, but the new rule.

  • The law professor that James Comey used to leak a memo to The New York Times, Daniel Richman, worked for the FBI as a “special government employee”:

    Sources familiar with Richman’s FBI status said he was assigned to “special projects” by Comey, and had a security clearance as well as badge access to the building. Richman told Fox News in an email last week that he was working as an SGE on an unpaid basis.

    Later:

    During this time, a review of media reports between July 2015 and February 2017 shows Richman gave multiple interviews defending Comey’s handling of the Clinton email case, including the controversial decision to reopen the probe shortly before the presidential election. He was typically identified as a law professor, and sometimes as a policy adviser to Comey.

  • Amazon booted Alliance Defending Freedom from its AmazonSmile program because the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled it a “hate group.” AmazonSmile enables you to donate a small percentage of your purchases to a nonprofit group.

  • Federal prosecutors indicted the former CEO of Volkswagen, Martin Winterkorn, over the company’s diesel emissions cheating scheme.

  • A Russian Su-30SM fighter crashed after taking off from a base in Syria, killing both pilots.

  • Moldova sentenced eight of its citizens to prison for fighting in Ukraine on Russia’s behalf.

Links for 4-27-2018

  • The first meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un was long on photo ops and handshakes, but short on details regarding how North Korea will give up its nuclear weapons. Stories have been circulating to the effect that North Korea’s nuclear test site is unusable, damaged beyond repair after the country’s last test. American intelligence agencies believe the test site is still usable, and North Korea’s announced closure of the site could be quickly reversed.

  • David Catron explains why Alfie Evans will never escape Britain’s National Health Service alive:

    Though his [Tom Evans’] case was simple — set my son free to seek treatment elsewhere — and though he was granted hearing after hearing with “red judges” like Mr. Justice Hayden and legal luminaries like Sir Andrew McFarlane, the answer was always the same. Acquiescence in the pleas of Alfie’s parents wouldn’t have cost the NHS or the British taxpayer a farthing, yet Alfie’s doctors and the hospital didn’t even consider releasing him. Even when the Pope interceded and transportation was provided to move him to an Italian hospital that was ready to admit him, it somehow continued to be in “Alfie’s interest” to remain hostage to the NHS.

    If you don’t understand why the NHS and British courts refused, you don’t get socialized medicine. It is not, nor has it ever been, about health care. It’s about power. Once a government — any government — takes control of your health care, they own you and your children. Alfie’s parents and the British public had for months demanded Alfie’s release just to seek treatment by doctors competent enough to figure out what was wrong with him. But, for a socialized system, that’s dangerous.

    Later:

    By yesterday afternoon, they had Tom Evans dutifully tugging his forelock, and he was given multiple pats on the head by the British Ministry of Truth as well as the government organs on our side of the pond, all of which commended him for “working with the doctors.” British Member of European Parliament Steven Woolfe will introduce “Alfie’s Law,” which will certainly help his career. And where is Alfie himself? He is exactly where he was when all this started, in the iron grip of the NHS, a third-world socialized medical system from which no force can get him released — except of course for the grim reaper.

  • The Italian priest who has been at Alfie Evans’ bedside was booted out of the hospital because he kept reminding the staff that God is watching them and judging their sins against Alfie’s life.

  • Bethany Mandel writes that Alfie Evans is the reason Americans have the Second Amendment.

  • The House Intelligence Committee released its report on Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election, and it contains a curious detail: it was former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper who told CNN that James Comey briefed Donald Trump on the Steele dossier, which sparked the Russian collusion narrative in the media. When Congress questioned him about this in July 2017, Clapper denied talking to the media about the Comey briefing; Clapper has since changed his tune. Clapper is also the person who instructed Comey to brief Trump on the dossier, which makes the whole thing look like a setup. To top it off, Clapper is now a CNN contributor.

  • A federal district court judge tossed Paul Manafort’s lawsuit challenging Robert Mueller’s authority.

  • Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-PA) resigned and said he would repay the U.S. Treasury the money he used to settle a former staffer’s sexual harassment claim.

  • The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals finally approved Texas’ photo voter ID law. The state’s original photo voter ID law was quickly challenged, and the legislature modified it in 2017 to address the Fifth Circuit’s complaints.

  • Israeli troops shot and killed three protesters along the border fence with the Gaza Strip.

Links for 4-13-2018

Links for 2-12-2018

Links for 12-15-2017

Links for 9-2-2017

  • Andrew McCarthy argues that it wasn’t former FBI Director James Comey’s decision to exonerate Hillary Clinton before the FBI investigation was over, but Barack Obama’s decision:

    This was the start of a series of Justice Department shenanigans we would come to learn about: Cutting off key areas of inquiry; cutting inexplicable immunity deals; declining to use the grand jury to compel evidence; agreeing to limit searches of computers (in order to miss key time-frames when obstruction occurred); agreeing to destroy physical evidence (laptop computers); failing to charge and squeeze witnesses who made patently false statements; allowing subjects of the investigation to act as lawyers for other subjects of the investigation (in order to promote the charade that some evidence was off-limits due to the attorney-client privilege); and so on. There is a way – a notoriously aggressive way – that the Justice Department and FBI go about their business when they are trying to make a case. Here, they were trying to unmake a case.

    Knowing all these things, as we now do and have for a year, I’m baffled by complaints that Comey allegedly made “his” decision not to charge Clinton before key witnesses were interviewed. The main issue is not that witnesses hadn’t been questioned; it is that by April 2016, restraints were already in place to ensure that witness interviews would be fruitless, and that any incriminating information they accidentally turned up would be ignored or buried.

  • The Obama administration used a loophole in federal immigration law to put beneficiaries of the DACA program on the path to full citizenship:

    The House and Senate Judiciary Committees revealed that more than 45,000 DACA recipients were approved for “advance parole,” which is permission to leave and reenter the U.S. despite not being in permanent legal status here.

    But under a quirk of law, those granted advance parole can then ask to adjust their status and gain legal residence — and eventually citizenship — as long as they have a qualifying relationship.

    The Obama administration had seemed intent on keeping the data secret, refusing to answer requests from Congress. The Trump administration complied.

  • Politico reported that the Department of Homeland Security labeled Antifa a domestic terrorist threat, and at least some of its members are on terrorism watch lists:

    Federal authorities have been warning state and local officials since early 2016 that leftist extremists known as “antifa” had become increasingly confrontational and dangerous, so much so that the Department of Homeland Security formally classified their activities as “domestic terrorist violence,” according to interviews and confidential law enforcement documents obtained by POLITICO.

    Later:

    Previously unreported documents disclose that by April 2016, authorities believed that “anarchist extremists” were the primary instigators of violence at public rallies against a range of targets. They were blamed by authorities for attacks on the police, government and political institutions, along with symbols of “the capitalist system,” racism, social injustice and fascism, according to a confidential 2016 joint intelligence assessment by DHS and the FBI.

    Later still:

    The intelligence assessments focus less on guns than handmade weapons used by antifa, with photos of members brandishing ax handles and shields, often with industrial-sized bolts attached to create crude bayonets. A senior state law enforcement official said, “A whole bunch of them” have been deemed dangerous enough to be placed on U.S. terrorism watch lists.

  • Imran Awan was arraigned in federal court on four felony fraud charges. He asked that his GPS monitoring bracelet be removed in case he needs to “attend to an emergency with his children.” His wife and children are in Pakistan.

  • ExxonMobil began restarting its Baytown, Texas refinery after repairing damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. The refinery is the second largest in the U.S.

  • Donald Trump announced more than 40 nominations on Friday night, including Jim Bridenstine to head NASA and Richard Grenell to be ambassador to Germany.

  • The U.S. and South Korea agreed to amend a treaty that restricts South Korea’s ability to develop ballistic missiles. Donald Trump also gave “conceptual approval” to South Korea’s plans to buy billions of dollars of military equipment from American companies.

  • The “sonic weapon” attacks on American diplomats in Cuba continued through last month.

  • Turkey has taken up the habit of arresting Germans, effectively holding them hostage. Turkey is now holding twelve German citizens on political charges.