Links for 8-15-2017

Links for 8-3-2017

  • National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster fired three National Security Council staffers sympathetic to the Steve Bannon faction of the White House, and he’s preparing to fire more:

    The Trump staffers fired by McMaster had repeatedly clashed with career government staffers and holdovers from the Obama administration on issues as diverse as military strategies for Syria and Afghanistan, whether to tear up Obama’s landmark Iran deal, the controversial détente with Cuba, the U.S. role in confronting Islamic radicalism, and the Paris Climate Accord, according to these sources.

    More purges are said to be on the way, according to multiple insiders who described a list of at least four other senior NSC officials McMaster intends to target. Other sources confirmed the likelihood of more purges, but disputed some details on that list.

    The fired NSC employees opposed Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, which McMaster supports:

    NSC officials such as Cohen-Watnick, Harvey, and others had been making the case that Trump should scrap the Obama administration’s 2015 nuclear deal over increasingly aggressive Iranian ballistic missile activity and mounting evidence Tehran is breaching the accord. McMaster, as well as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and top Obama-era State Department officials who worked on the deal, have aggressively urged maintaining it.

    McMaster allowed his predecessor, Susan Rice, keep her security clearance despite suggestions that she abused her power to unmask the names of Americans who were caught in the NSA’s dragnet.

  • Transcripts of Donald Trump’s phone conversations with the presidents of Mexico and Australia were circulated among NSC staffers — perhaps including the staffers fired by H.R. McMaster — and now they’ve been leaked to The Washington Post.

  • Robert Mueller impaneled a grand jury to investigate Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election and that grand jury is issuing subpoenas. Mueller also inherited a grand jury that’s investigating Michael Flynn.

  • Four American soldiers were wounded in the suicide bomb attack that killed two soldiers in Afghanistan yesterday.

  • The U.S. Senate approved 65 of Donald Trump’s nominees after Democrats agreed to stop obstructing them. Two of the confirmed nominees, Jessica Rosenworcel and Brendan Carr, are headed to the FCC.

  • The inspector general for the Department of the Interior is investigating Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke over reports that he threatened Senator Lisa Murkowski over her position on ObamaCare repeal. The inspector general is doing this in response to a complaint filed by two House Democrats. In the meantime Zinke and Murkowski became drinking buddies.

  • The Center for Medical Progress asked the U.S. Supreme Court to lift the gag order that prevents it from publishing additional Planned Parenthood videos.

  • West Virginia Governor Jim Justice switched from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. There are now only 15 Democratic governors.

  • Actor Robert Hardy passed away at age 91. He played Siegfried Farnon in All Creatures Great and Small and Cornelius Fudge in the Harry Potter movies, among many other roles.

  • Matthew RJ Brodsky writes on the problem with Qatar:

    The list of problem areas is long. Qatar’s financial and political support for such a wide array of militant Islamist movements is unrivaled in the region and has been particularly overt, egregious, and brazen in recent years. Through a combination of the ruling Al Thani family or wealthy Qatari financiers, the oil-rich state backs al-Qaeda affiliates, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, Hamas, and others on the Sunni side of the ledger. Meanwhile, they continue to use their state-backed Al Jazeera network as a worldwide loudspeaker to promote the most radical Islamist propaganda, preaching hate and fomenting instability throughout the region.

    This support undermines and unnerves its neighbors, poisons the minds of the next generation of Arab youth, prevents any Palestinian moderation, and lessens the likelihood that Israel will see peace with more of its neighbors, much less in the wider region. Moreover, it serves to nurture only radical Islamist alternatives to take the place of the Islamic State once it is defeated on the battlefield.

  • Venezuela’s state prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into vote counting irregularities during the Sunday’s constituent assembly election.

Links for 8-1-2017

Links for 7-22-2017

  • Donald Trump helped commission the aircraft carrier USS Ford. Unfortunately the Ford won’t be ready for operational deployment for years.

  • Donald Trump is bypassing the State Department and assembling a White House team to make the case that the U.S. shouldn’t certify Iran’s compliance with Barack Obama’s nuclear deal. The Trump administration has certified Iran’s compliance twice, and the next deadline is the end of October. Supposedly Trump asked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to lay the groundwork for withholding certification, and Tillerson didn’t do it.

  • The co-founder of Fusion GPS, the company that created the largely false “Trump dossier,” refused to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The committee chairman, Chuck Grassley, then subpoenaed the co-founder, Glenn Simpson. Simpson’s lawyer says he’ll plead the Fifth.

  • Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort negotiated private interviews with Senate Judiciary Committee members and staff. The committee reserves the right to subpoena them in the future.

  • The Senate parliamentarian doesn’t think defunding Planned Parenthood can be included in the “Better Care Reconciliation Act.”

  • A Department of Labor whistleblower, Stephen Silbiger, claims the department delayed paying compensation to people who worked in nuclear weapons plants and became sick:

    Under the law, the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA), qualified workers or their survivors who were diagnosed with certain types of cancer or other diseases from exposure to toxic substances at covered facilities are entitled to between tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation to help pay medical bills and loss of wages due to their illnesses, with a cap of $400,000.

    However, Silbiger and other critics say government officials often purposely thwarted workers’ attempts to seek the compensation by writing regulations that made qualification much more stringent than Congress intended, failing to disclose all the application rules, changing eligibility rules midstream, and delaying compensation for years until the sick workers died.

  • David Andrew Weinberg delivered interesting testimony to a House subcommittee explaining how Saudi school textbooks incite violence against non-Muslims:

    I will then endeavor to present everything we know about incitement in the latest edition of Saudi Arabia’s official textbooks. Examples of such incitement include: (1) directives to kill people in response to their non-violent personal life choices, (2) messages that are undoubtedly anti-Semitic or anti-Christian, (3) lessons that are intolerant toward adherents of non-monotheistic religions as well as implicitly toward Shiite and Sufi Muslims, and (4) several other passages encouraging violence.

    I will explain how Riyadh regularly oversells the success of its textbook reforms. I will then argue for why U.S. policy in this regard needs to change urgently. Next, I will refute some common counterarguments by those who claim that U.S. pressure cannot have a positive impact on the Saudi curriculum. Finally, I will conclude by offering a list of policy recommendations for Congress which could help encourage the Saudi government to address this issue in a more effective and timely manner.

  • Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau resigned at the request of Mayor Betsy Hodges. This happened in reaction to the police shooting of Australian immigrant Justine Damond, who called the police to report an incident outside her home, only to be killed by one of the police officers who responded.

  • A Palestinian man murdered three Israelis in a West Bank settlement yesterday. Israeli forces raided the attacker’s home and arrested his brother.

Links for 7-17-2017

Links for 6-28-2017

Links for 6-21-2017