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|Alan Dershowitz and Ken Starr join Trump impeachment defense team
The legal team representing President Trump in his Senate impeachment trial will include some familiar faces, especially for regular viewers of Fox News.
POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 11:24 AM
|Khamenei: Iran gave U.S. 'slap on face', calls missile strikes 'day of God'
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a Friday sermon that Iran's missile strikes on U.S. targets in Iraq this month delivered a "slap on the face" to the United States, showing the Islamic Republic had divine support. During a spike in tension, Iran launched missiles at U.S. targets on Jan. 8 in response to a U.S. drone strike on Jan. 3 that killed Qassem Soleimeni, a powerful Iranian general who was close to Khamenei.
POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 3:54 AM
|US court dismisses suit by youths over climate change
A federal appeals court on Friday dismissed a lawsuit by 21 young people who claimed the U.S. government's climate policies and reliance on fossil fuels harms them, jeopardizes their future and violates their constitutional rights, potentially dealing a fatal blow to a long-running case that activists saw as an important front in the war against environmental degradation. The Oregon-based youth advocacy group Our Children's Trust filed the lawsuit in 2015 in Eugene on behalf of the youngsters. It sought an injunction ordering the government to implement a plan to phase out fossil fuel emissions and draw down atmospheric carbon dioxide emission.
POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 1:32 PM
|Why Russia Doesn't Like (Or Have) Many Aircraft Carriers
Not enough money?
POSTED JANUARY 18, 2020 7:00 AM
|Off-duty Hong Kong police officer arrested for supporting protests
An off-duty Hong Kong police officer was arrested along with seven other people on Friday as they tried to put pro-democracy posters on a footbridge, police said. It's the first known case of a police officer being apprehended for supporting the massive demonstrations that have led to more than 6,500 arrests in the past seven months. The officer, 31, and the seven other people aged 14 to 61, were arrested at 3:00 am on Friday in Tuen Mun, a district in northwest Hong Kong.
POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 1:41 PM
|The TSA apologized after an agent pulled a Native American passenger's braid and said "giddyup!" during a pat down
Tara Houska was going through security at the Minneapolis airport on Monday when she said an agent humiliated her by whipping her braids.
POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 12:43 PM
|Evelyn Yang, Andrew Yang's wife, said she was sexually assaulted by her OB-GYN during pregnancy
Evelyn Yang, the wife of 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang, says she was sexually assaulted by a doctor during her first pregnancy.
POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 8:11 AM
|Docs Show Parnas Helping Nunes Aide Set Up Interviews With Ex-Ukrainian Officials
New documents turned over to the House Judiciary Committee on Friday night include messages between Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas and Derek Harvey, an aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). The Daily Beast was first to report that Parnas helped arrange meetings and calls in Europe for Harvey in 2018 to help the lawmaker's investigative work, and it appears the practice continued into 2019.The exchanges between Parnas and Harvey, which span several months in early 2019, show the two arranging several meetings and phone calls to discuss two claims that have been central to Trumpworld’s dirt-digging mission in Ukraine and the president’s subsequent impeachment: supposed corruption by former Vice President Joe Biden and a plot against Trump by Ukrainian officials during the 2016 election. “We need to set a time for Skype w your four people,” Harvey wrote in an April 2019 message to Parnas, apparently referring to former Ukrainian officials claiming to have information on Biden. “It looks like we can get all the interviews set up for Tuesday or Wednesday whatever works better for you,” Parnas wrote back.“Wednesday would be best here,” Harvey wrote. “It allows me to prep a staff lawyer to assist. Any suggested line of questions? Full names of who we will interview?”Parnas responded, “Sounds good will put together there (sic) names and questions that I recommend.”Parnas then sent Harvey a list of names including several widely discredited former Ukrainian officials who were shown to be in close contact with Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, for a dirt-digging mission against Biden that is at the heart of the impeachment. In addition to setting up interviews and arranging meetings, the messages between Parnas and Harvey also show the two exchanging several news articles critical of Biden and his son Hunter. In another message in March, Harvey appeared to task Parnas with doing research on claims the Ukrainian government worked with Hillary Clinton’s allies in 2016 to find compromising information on then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, a conspiracy theory frequently espoused by Trump and his allies. Harvey also mentioned Parnas “working through (John) Solomon,” a former columnist at The Hill who had been in contact with Nunes, Giuliani, and Parnas. The Daily Beast reported that Solomon sent a version of his article last year to Parnas and Trumpworld lawyers Joe diGenova and Victoria Toensing before it was published on the The Hill's website.A lawyer for Parnas, Ed MacMahon, told The Daily Beast previously that his client aided Nunes in arranging meetings and calls in Europe in 2018. Congressional records show Nunes, Harvey, and two of Nunes' other aides went to Europe in late 2018 for four days, using over $63,000 of government funds for the trip.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 8:53 PM
|Was the Taal Volcano eruption large enough to influence the climate?
The Taal volcano roared to life last weekend for the first time in more than 40 years, sending a massive plume of volcanic ash towering over the Philippines.This was the first time that Taal has erupted since 1977, an event that marked the end of an active period for the volcano that had begun in 1965. Taal did show signs of unrest periodically throughout the 1990s, but it did not erupt during that period, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.The eruption, which began on Jan. 12, 2020, has forced more than 125,000 people to evacuate the Philippine province of Batangas, where the volcano is located. A state of calamity has been declared for the zone surrounding the volcano, according to The Associated Press. People watch as Taal Volcano erupts Sunday Jan. 12, 2020, in Tagaytay, Cavite province, outside Manila, Philippines (AP Photo/Aaron Favila) During the height of the eruption, a large plume of searing hot volcanic ash blossomed approximately 50,000 feet, about 9.5 miles, into the atmosphere, with some materials making it into the stratosphere, according to observations from NASA. The eruption was accompanied by incredible displays of volcanic lightning, which made for breathtaking video footage, fountains of scalding lava and more than 400 earthquakes.The aftermath of the eruption had the country's president, Rodrigo Duterte, using no uncertain terms to describe the impact on the surrounding communities."It is now a no man's land," Duterte declared, according to Al Jazeera. "It's like heaven and earth fell on it."The fallout downwind of the eruption has blanketed areas dozens of miles away from the volcano itself, including Metro Manila, located about 101 km (63 miles) north of the eruption."Ash fallout to the ground can pose significant disruption and damage to buildings, transportation, water and wastewater, power supply, communications equipment, agriculture, and primary production leading to potentially substantial societal impacts and costs, even at thicknesses of only a few millimeters or inches," the USGS explains on its volcano hazards website. "Additionally, fine-grained ash, when ingested can cause health impacts to humans and animals. "The deteriorating air quality due to the ash has caused at least six people to be sent to a hospital in Tagaytay City in Cavite due to respiratory ailments, The Associated Press reported. One death has also been reported after a vehicle crashed on a slippery, ash-covered road.The abundance of ash in the atmosphere surrounding Taal snarled air traffic, causing more than 600 flights across the region to be canceled. If the fine volcanic ash enters the engines of an airplane, it can have disastrous results, endangering the lives of all those aboard the flight."Volcanoes do affect the weather, and some major ones affect the climate if you define climate as anything beyond a year or two," Dr. Joel Myers, Founder, President and Chairman of AccuWeather, said.In extremely powerful volcanic eruptions, the ash and aerosols released in the eruption can pass through the troposphere, the lowest layer of Earth's atmosphere, and penetrate into the stratosphere, the second layer of the atmosphere. If enough of the ash and other pollutants released in the eruption make it into the stratosphere, they can influence the climate around the globe. The boundary between the troposphere and stratosphere is about 6 miles (10 km) above the ground, a little higher than where commercial jets typically fly."The most significant climate impacts from volcanic injections into the stratosphere come from the conversion of sulfur dioxide to sulfuric acid, which condenses rapidly in the stratosphere to form fine sulfate aerosols," the USGS explained.These aerosols high in the atmosphere reflect light from the sun back into space, resulting in a cooling effect in Earth's lower atmosphere."There is no question that very large volcanic eruptions can inject significant amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere," scientists at the USGS say, but they also note that "the carbon dioxide released in contemporary volcanic eruptions has never caused detectable global warming of the atmosphere."Significant volcanic eruptions in the tropics can also have more of an influence on the global climate than those closer to the poles."Because of atmospheric circulation patterns, eruptions in the tropics can have an effect on the climate in both hemispheres while eruptions at mid or high latitudes only have an impact the hemisphere they are within," the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research explained. The time-series animation above shows the growth and spread of the volcanic plume from January 12-13, as observed by Japan's Himawari-8 satellite. (NOAA) The most powerful volcanic eruption in recorded history directly influenced temperatures around the globe for years and was responsible for what became known as the ‘Year Without a Summer.'"One of the most dramatic examples" of this phenomenon over the last few 100 years was the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815, Myers said. That eruption "caused a few years of cold weather, some of it extraordinary," he explained. "This includes 1816, the Year Without a Summer, when frost occurred in New England in every month of the year - affecting crops and on one July day when snow flurries were reported in Long Island Sound."AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said that scientists are also unsure that the Tambora eruption was the sole factor behind the Year Without a Summer. Kottlowski, who is also AccuWeather's chief hurricane expert, said, "There are potentially other factors that couldn't be measured at the time or weren't understood at the time that could've been contributing factors to the unusual weather in the Northeast that year. "A more recent example of a volcano having a direct correlation with a decrease in the global temperature took place in the early 1990s following the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.The eruption of Mount Pinatubo was more powerful than that of Mount St. Helens, sending an enormous plume of volcanic ash and aerosols as high as 28 miles (40 km)."Nearly 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide were injected into the stratosphere in Pinatubo's 1991 eruptions, and dispersal of this gas cloud around the world caused global temperatures to drop temporarily (1991 through 1993) by about 1°F (0.5°C)," according to the USGS.Pinatubo's eruption was orders of magnitude larger than that of Taal's eruption earlier this year, so any impacts on the global climate through the balance of 2020 and into 2021 from the eruption are likely to be minimal or negligible.However, if the early January eruption of Taal is followed up by a series of larger eruptions that disperse large quantities of aerosols into the stratosphere, then the probability of the volcano influencing the global climate would increase.Taal has spewed smaller ash and steam explosions throughout the week, and as of Friday, it was still under alert for a hazardous eruption, The Associated Press reported. Officials have warned that "life-threatening" subsequent eruptions remain a real possibility.
POSTED JANUARY 17, 2020 2:56 PM
|The Hole in the Impeachment Case
Thought experiment No. 1: Suppose Bob Mueller’s probe actually proves that Donald Trump is under Vladimir Putin’s thumb. Fill in the rest of the blanks with your favorite corruption fantasy: The Kremlin has video of the mogul-turned-president debauching himself in a Moscow hotel; the Kremlin has a bulging file of real-estate transfers through which Trump laundered racketeering proceeds for Putin’s favored mobsters and oligarchs; or Trump is recorded cutting a deal to drop Obama-era sanctions against Putin’s regime if Russian spies hack Democratic accounts.Thought experiment No. 2: Adam Schiff is not a demagogue. (Remember, this is fantasy.) At the very first televised hearing, when he alleged that President Trump told Ukrainian president Zelensky, “I want you to make up dirt on my political opponent . . . lots of it,” Schiff was not defrauding the public. Instead, impeachment’s Inspector Clouseau can actually prove that Trump was asking a foreign government to manufacture out of whole cloth evidence that Vice President Biden and his son were cashing in on the former’s political influence (as opposed to asking that Ukraine look into an arrangement so objectively sleazy that the Obama administration itself agitated over what to do about it).What do these two scenarios have in common, besides being fictional? Answer: If either of them were real, we’d already be talking about President Pence’s upcoming State of the Union address.This is the point that gets lost in all the endless chatter over impeachment strategy and procedure. Everything that is happening owes to the fact that we do not have an offense sufficiently grave for invocation of the Constitution’s nuclear option. If we had one, the machinations and the posturing would be unnecessary — even ridiculous.Why are we talking about how Chairman Schiff, Speaker Pelosi, and House Democrats rushed through the impeachment inquiry without making a real effort to interview key witnesses?Why was the Democrats’ impeachment gambit driven by the election calendar rather than the nature of the president’s offense? Why were the timing of hearings and the unreasonable limits imposed on Republicans’ ability to call witnesses dictated by the frantic rush to get done before Christmas recess -- to the point that Democrats cynically vacated a subpoena they’d served on a relevant administration witness, fearing a few weeks of court battles that they might lose?Why did Democrats grope from week to week in a struggle over what to call the misconduct they accused the president of committing – campaign finance, extortion, quid pro quo, bribery? How did they end up with an amorphous “abuse of power” case? How did they conclude that an administration that goes to court rather than instantly surrendering potentially privileged information commits obstruction?Why such tedious recriminations over adoption of Senate procedures that were approved by a 100–0 vote the last time there was an impeachment trial? Why all the kvetching over whether witnesses will be called when those procedures provide for the calling of witnesses in the likely event that 51 senators — after hearing nearly two weeks of presentation and argument from both sides -- want to hear from one or two of them?Why, with Election Day only ten months away, would Speaker Pelosi stoke an impeachment vote that could be perilous for many of her members, on the insistence that Trump was such a clear and present danger she could brook no delay, but then . . . sit on the impeachment articles for a month, accomplishing nothing in the interim except to undermine the presidential bids of several Senate Democrats, who will be trapped in Washington when they should be out campaigning with Iowa’s caucuses just two weeks away?None of this would have happened if there had been a truly impeachable offense.Adam Schiff is a smart guy. He did not idly dream up a “make up dirt” parody. He framed it because he knows that’s the kind of misconduct you would need to prove to warrant impeachment and removal of a president. In fact, Schiff could never prove that, but he figured parody is good enough for 2020 campaign purposes — and that’s what this exercise is all about.If collusion with Russia had been fact rather than farce, Trump would never have made it to an impeachment trial. He’d have had to resign, Prior to November 8, 2016, Republicans were not the ones in need of convincing that Russia was a dangerous geopolitical threat. If it had been real collusion that brought Democrats around to that conclusion, the votes to impeach and remove would have been overwhelming.And the timing would have been irrelevant. If Americans had been seized by a truly impeachable offense, it would not matter whether Election Day was two years, two months, or two weeks away. The public and the political class would not tolerate an agent of the Kremlin in the Oval Office.If there were such egregious misconduct that the public was convinced of the need to remove Trump, such that two-thirds of the Senate would ignore partisan ties and do just that, there would be no partisan stunts. Democratic leaders would have worked cooperatively with their GOP counterparts, as was done in prior impeachments. They would have told the president: “Sure, you can have your lawyers here, and call whatever witnesses you want.” There would be a bipartisan sense that the president had done profound wrong. There would be a sense of history, not contest. Congressional leaders would want to be remembered as statesmen, not apparatchiks.If there were a real impeachable offense, there would be no fretting about witnesses at the trial. Senate leaders would be contemplating that, after hearing the case extensively presented by both sides, there might well be enough votes to convict without witnesses. But if there were an appetite for witnesses, witnesses would be called . . . as they were in Watergate. And just as in Watergate, if the president withheld vital evidence of appalling lawlessness, the public would not be broadly indifferent to administration stonewalling.If there were an obviously impeachable offense, the garrisons of Fort Knox could not have stopped Nancy Pelosi from personally marching impeachment articles into the Senate the second the House had adopted them -- in what would have been an overwhelming bipartisan vote (of the kind that Pelosi, not long ago, said would be imperative for a legitimate impeachment effort).The Framers expected presidents to abuse their powers from time to time. And not just presidents. Our Constitution’s theory of the human condition, and thus of governance, is that power is apt to corrupt anyone. It needs to be divided, and the peer components need to be incentivized to check each other. The operating assumption is that, otherwise, one component would accumulate too much power and inevitably fall prey to the tyrannical temptation. But as Madison observed, men are not angels. Separation of powers arms us against inevitable abuse, it does not prevent abuse from happening. Abuse is a given: Congress uses lawmaking power to encroach on the other branches’ prerogatives; judges legislate from the bench, presidents leverage their awesome powers for political advantage. The expectation is not that government officials will never overreach; it is that when one branch does overreach, the others will bring it into line.That is the norm: corrective action or inaction, political pressure, naming and shaming, power of the purse, and so on. We expect to criticize, inveigh, even censure. We don’t leap from abuse to expulsion. We don’t expect routinely to expel members of Congress or impeach presidents and judges. That is reserved for historically extraordinary wrongs.On Ukraine, nothing of consequence came of President Trump’s bull-in-a-china-shop excesses. Sure, they ought to be a 2020 campaign issue. Democrats, instead, would have us exaggerate them into historically extraordinary wrongs. For that, you need gamesmanship. If there were real impeachable misconduct, there would be no time or place for games.
POSTED JANUARY 18, 2020 6:30 AM