Twitter, Facebook accuse China of using fake accounts to undermine Hong Kong protests

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Twitter, Facebook accuse China of using fake accounts to undermine Hong Kong protests

Both Twitter and Facebook are blocked in mainland China by the government but available in Hong Kong

WORLD Updated: Aug 21, 2019 09:35 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Anti-extradition bill protesters react as they watch a documentary protest video during a protest outside Siu Hong station in Hong Kong, China, August 20, 2019.
Anti-extradition bill protesters react as they watch a documentary protest video during a protest outside Siu Hong station in Hong Kong, China, August 20, 2019.(REUTERS)

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter accused China of using fake accounts to undermine Hong Kong protests. Beijing hit back, saying it had a right to put out its own views.

‘STATE-BACKED CAMPAIGN’

■ The crackdown was rare in the way that it involved a tip-off from one social media firm, Twitter, to another; Facebook.

■ Both said they took the action after observing a coordinated state-backed effort originating in China that undermined the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement in Hong Kong

■ Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher told reporters that the bulk of the Facebook accounts were created in 2018.

■ Both Twitter and Facebook are blocked in mainland China by the government but available in Hong Kong.

COMPARISON TO COCKROACHES

■ In examples provided by Facebook, posts described the protesters as cockroaches who “refused to show their faces.”

■ Examples of posts provided by Twitter included a tweet from a user pretending to be a Hong Kong resident with the comment: “…We don’t want you radical people in Hong Kong. Just get out of here!”

■ In another post cited by Facebook, the protesters in Hong Kong were likened to extremist Islamist militants

CHINA CRIES FOUL OVER CRACKDOWN

■ A Chinese minister said on Tuesday that China had a right to put out its own views.

■ Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, while declining to directly comment on the Twitter and Facebook actions, said: “What is happening in Hong Kong, and what the truth is, people will naturally have their own judgement. Why is it that China’s official media’s presentation is surely negative or wrong?”

ADS ROW

Twitter and Facebook have come under fire from users over showing ads from state-controlled media that criticised the Hong Kong protesters. Twitter said on Monday it would no longer accept advertising from state-controlled news media

First Published: Aug 21, 2019 09:29 IST

UK Do Yourself A Favor: Throw The Trump Mafia Out Of Your Country Now

UK Do Yourself A Favor: Throw The Trump Mafia Out Of Your Country Now

 

This article to you today is simply an opinion piece about our Coward in Chief visiting your country right now. If you have a different opinion of the man and his family that is fine, people have different opinions about everything that exist, this article is simply my opinion on our Piece of Trash President and his equally crooked family members.

 

The first thing that England did wrong was to allow his plane to land there at all, they should have never even allow him into their air space. I would like to be able to say “the man” but I do not consider him to be a man, just an immature slimy crooked to the core piece of human trash. Before he even landed he called one of the Princesses a fowl name, then he blasted the Mayor of London as a ‘stone cold loser’. Then he lands and he tells the Prime Minister that if he was her he would never pay the $50 billion ‘separation fee’ that it seems the EU is wanting to lay on the British people for the concept of them getting their freedom back from that block. Personally I am not even a little bit surprised that he would condone not paying a bill as this has been this crooks MO since he was a very young person. He has a major habit of having people work for him like outside contractors do, and then stiff them when it is time to pay them. Usually he will use the excuse of he is not happy with their work so he isn’t paying and if they wish they can sue him for it. He knows most all people, especially the ‘little people’ can not afford to do that so they don’t. Pay half up front, then never pay the rest, that is simply the way he operates. One of the funny things I noticed in the news today is how he is upset that he cannot watch Fox News while in the UK as the UK banned them many months ago labeling them as nothing but a ‘Propaganda’ Network. Personally I wish they would also ban Twitter being that Twitter has done nothing but give him a channel to propagate his ignorance to the masses. To me, Twitter and Trump belong together as they both constantly prove that they have no ethics or morals as long as they are making money. Okay, that is the end of my gripe for the day, I figure that probably about half of you got a good laugh as you agreed with me or you’re one of the other half who is pissed off at me because I have a different opinion about him than you do. That is fair, as long as you are being honest with yourself. Happy Monday everyone.

Fact-checking Trump’s flurry of lies Thursday morning

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Fact-checking Trump’s flurry of lies Thursday morning

Washington (CNN)One day after special counsel Robert Mueller publicly refused to exonerate President Donald Trump and hinted at potential impeachment, the President responded Thursday with an avalanche of widely debunked lies about the investigation and its findings.

Over a few hours Thursday morning, Trump spread several lies and falsehoods about the Russia investigation, Mueller’s findings, the cost of the probe, and the legal restrictions that Mueller faced when grappling with the possibility of a President who broke the law.
Here’s a breakdown of Trump’s comments.

Cost of the investigation

In a tweet, Trump said the Mueller probe cost “$40,000,000 over two dark years.”
Facts First: It’s not clear where Trump is getting his numbers. The latest information from the Justice Department goes through September and says Mueller-specific expenses were around $12 million. Mueller’s final price tag will be higher than that, but the data isn’t public yet.
The Justice Department spent another $13 million investigating Russian meddling, costs that would have been incurred even if Mueller weren’t appointed. That’s a total of $25 million, though the price tag will be higher because that doesn’t cover the last seven months of the probe. It’s unlikely that the final amount for Mueller will reach the $40 million figure claimed by Trump.

Cooperation with the probe

In a tweet, Trump said Mueller had “unlimited access, people, resources and cooperation.”
Facts First: The White House largely cooperated with the investigation, but it’s wrong to say there was “unlimited” cooperation. Trump repeatedly refused a sit-down interview with Mueller’s team. Some Trump campaign associates “deleted relevant communications” or gave conflicting information. Others lied to investigators and were charged with obstruction offenses.
Trump submitted written testimony about Russian meddling but refused to answer any questionsabout obstruction. Mueller made it clear that Trump’s responses were “incomplete” and insufficient. The President’s son, Donald Trump Jr., also declined an in-person interview.
At least three Trump associates were charged with lying to investigators, which is an obstructive act, and two others were charged with lying to congressional inquiries about Russian meddling.

Mueller’s conflicts of interest

In a tweet, Trump said Mueller was “highly conflicted.”
Facts First: Mueller did not have conflicts of interest, and Trump knows it. The Justice Department cleared Mueller of any conflicts when he took the job in 2017. Trump’s top aides told him that these perceived conflicts were “ridiculous” and were not considered true conflicts.
Trump has long claimed that Mueller was conflicted for a few reasons: Because he once sought a refund from a Trump-owned golf course, because he interviewed to be FBI director after Trump fired James Comey in 2017, and because his old law firm represented key figures in the investigation.
When Trump raised these concerns with his top aides, they “pushed back on his assertion of conflicts, telling the President they did not count as true conflicts,” according to the Mueller report. These White House aides included former chief strategist Steve Bannon, former chief of staff Reince Priebus and former White House counsel Don McGahn, according to the report.

Legal constraints on Mueller

In a tweet, Trump said, “Robert Mueller would have brought charges, if he had ANYTHING, but there were no charges to bring!”
Facts First: This is the opposite of the truth. Mueller’s hands were tied by longstanding Justice Department guidelines that a sitting President can’t be indicted. In his public comments this week, Mueller specifically said charging Trump was “not an option we could consider.”
Mueller made it clear in his public comments on Wednesday that the guidelines had a significant influence on the investigation, tying his hands from the very start from even considering whether a crime had been committed. Trump is therefore creating a false narrative by asserting that Mueller “would have brought charges” if there was evidence Trump broke the law.
In fact, Mueller’s report presented substantial evidence that Trump obstructed justice on a few fronts. But Mueller didn’t offer a conclusion on whether Trump should be prosecuted, because he was bound by Justice Department guidelines that stopped him from even considering it.

Fairness of the investigation

In a tweet, Trump called the Mueller probe a “witch hunt,” a label he has used for two years to suggest that the investigation was unfairly targeting him and would bring him down at any cost.
Facts First: If the investigation really were a “witch hunt,” things might have been very different. But Mueller said that the facts didn’t lead him to a collusion conspiracy, and he repeatedly declined to use hardball tactics against Trump, like issuing a subpoena for his testimony.
First, Mueller went to great lengths to be fair to Trump and said there was not a collusion conspiracy. He didn’t play hardball and subpoena Trump’s testimony, and he followed the rules that restrained him from charging Trump. If this was a “witch hunt,” it wasn’t a very good one.
In his comments, Mueller stressed how it would be unfair to Trump to accuse him of a crime without Trump having a legal venue to clear his name, because he couldn’t go on trial while in office. Mueller even said it’s “prohibited” to seek a sealed indictment of Trump for later on.
Many of Trump’s top appointees and associates, like FBI Director Chris Wray and former White House lawyer Ty Cobb, have broken with the President and publicly rejected the “witch hunt” label. Even Barr rejected the term during his Senate confirmation hearing earlier this year, specifically saying that Mueller wouldn’t be involved in a witch hunt.

Concerns about Russian meddling

In a tweet, Trump said “Russia has disappeared” from the public debate because the Mueller investigation did not establish a conspiracy of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.
Facts First: The topic of Russian interference is still at the forefront of national politics.
Mueller zeroed in on Russian meddling during his public comments, solemnly saying, “I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments, that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election. And that allegation deserves the attention of every American.”
Top US intelligence officials have warned about Russia’s continued efforts to undermine American politics. Democratic presidential candidates are bringing it up on the campaign trail, and lawmakers are asking about it at Congressional hearings with administration officials.
Trump’s handpicked chiefs to lead the US intelligence community have continued to raise the alarm about persistent Russian meddling. And many of the Democratic candidates for president, including frontrunner Joe Biden, feature their positions on how to counter Russia on their websites.

Trump’s role in Russian meddling

In a tweet, Trump said, “I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected.”
Facts First: The Mueller investigation did not establish a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Russians. But Trump’s tweet ignores his role in promoting the fruits of Russian hacks during the 2016 campaign, which he embraced and amplified at his rallies and on social media.
To be completely clear: Mueller never accused Trump, or any Trump aides, or any Americans for that matter, of criminally conspiring with the Russian government to influence the election.
But that doesn’t mean Trump played no role whatsoever, even if it wasn’t criminal. Instead of denouncing Russia for intervening in US politics, Trump embraced their actions and used his platform, and his campaign apparatus, to amplify Russian meddling. He regularly cited the emails that Russian hackers stole from Democrats and gave to WikiLeaks for publication.
In his tweet, Trump seemed to accidentally acknowledge for the first time, that Russia tried to help him defeat Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016. (This is the assessment of Obama-era intelligence officials and Trump’s handpicked appointees.) But later Thursday morning, Trump walked back this part of his tweet, saying “Russia did not help me get elected.”

Mueller’s findings on obstruction

In a tweet, Trump said, “Mueller didn’t find Obstruction either.”
Facts First: This is patently false. Mueller did uncover substantial evidence of obstruction by Trump and the report detailed how Trump’s actions crossed the legal threshold on several key episodes. But Mueller said he was prohibited from recommending criminal charges and struggled with “difficult issues” of investigating a sitting President. Instead, he alluded to Congress’ role in holding a president accountable.
The report details a few incidents with “substantial evidence” that Trump obstructed justice, including his efforts to fire the special counsel and have McGahn lie about it to the press, as well as Trump’s efforts to influence the cooperation of several key witnesses in the investigation.
“Our investigation found multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations,” the report said.
Regarding the obstruction inquiry, Mueller said Wednesday, “if we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.” Mueller submitted his report to Attorney General William Barr, who announced in March his conclusion that Trump didn’t break the law. Trump’s tweet would have been accurate if he cited Barr instead of Mueller.

This story is being updated

If Twitter had any decency about them

IF TWITTER HAD ANY DECENCY ABOUT THEM
(THIS IS JUST THE OPINIONS OF AND OLDPOET)

As you probably know by now, today Facebook banned a few bad apples from their platform and Donald Trump took exception to the company doing that.  The Moron-n-Chief then got on twitter and bashed Facebook for doing that. Those that they banned were ‘hate’ speakers, ones they considered to be ‘far right’. Twitter had rules that should have banned Trump from the day he was born yet they have proven that to them money is far more important than having any morals. Pretty much everything the idiot tweets is either ignorant or just plain hate speech. Instead of banning this Moron they doubled the key strokes allowed for the purpose of giving this one man more ease in spreading his hate filled, ignorant rants and pure B.S.. Maybe the Twitter executives should be held accountable when hate crimes are committed because of the poison and ignorance that spews out of this person’s mouth. In my opinion Trump and the Twitter main bosses are made for each other, total sell outs for a dollar bill.

Trump’s Advisers Struggle to Explain Deal He Says He Cut With Xi

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

 

Trump’s Advisers Struggle to Explain Deal He Says He Cut With Xi

 Updated on 
  • President hails ‘extraordinary’ dinner with Chinese leader
  • Kudlow says China made ‘commitments’ to ‘presumably implement’

President Donald Trump left his top advisers scrambling on Monday to explain a trade deal he claimed he’d struck with China to reduce tariffs on U.S. cars exported to the country — an agreement that doesn’t exist on paper and hasn’t been confirmed in Beijing.

In the day after Trump announced the deal in a two-sentence Twitter post, the White House provided no additional information. At a briefing in Beijing, a spokesman for the foreign ministry declined to comment on any changes to car tariffs.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40%.

45.8K people are talking about this

Questioned about the agreement on Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, dialed back expectations and added qualifiers.

Larry Kudlow speaks to members of the media outside the White House.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

“I’ll call them ‘commitments’ at this point, which are — commitments are not necessarily a trade deal, but it’s stuff that they’re going to look at and presumably implement,” Kudlow told reporters at an official White House briefing that followed TV interviews and informal briefings by him and Mnuchin earlier in the day.

The apparent move on auto tariffs was part of a broader trade truce struck by Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping during a dinner in Buenos Aires on Saturday night. As part of that the U.S. said it had agreed to hold off on raising tariffs Jan. 1 while negotiations took place. Kudlow initially said that the Chinese had 90 days from Jan. 1 to come up with “structural changes” regarding intellectual property protections, forced technology transfer and other issues.

The White House later corrected him to say that the 90 days actually began on Dec. 1, Saturday.

Trump’s tweet, which moved stocks of automobile companies across the globe, followed the dinner at the Group of 20 summit in Argentina. There, all sides agree, the American president agreed to postpone an increase in tariffs on Chinese imports to 25 percent from 10 percent, which was scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, in exchange for negotiations on broader economic disputes.

Steven Mnuchin

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

“I think there is a specific understanding that we are now going to turn the agreement the two presidents had into a real agreement in the next 90 days,” Mnuchin told reporters at the White House on Monday. “I’m taking President Xi at his word, at his commitment to President Trump. But they have to deliver on this.”

He didn’t say precisely what China committed to do.

The uncertainty underscored the risk entailed by Trump’s eagerness to strike deals without nailing down details in advance. The confusion was exacerbated by the absence of a joint statement from the U.S. and China following the dinner. Financial markets were left struggling to digest talks that the White House portrayed as a major victory for the president.

“That’s what happens when you don’t have the detailed negotiations going into the summit” and end up with the “broad swath of a 35,000-foot deal,” said Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “It’s risky. There’s certainly no guarantees that it will produce the outcomes that we want.”

Donald Trump, Xi Jinping, and members of their delegations during their bilateral meeting on Dec. 1.

Photographer: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo

Officials in Beijing did not respond to requests for an explanation and neither did the Chinese embassy in Washington.

Trump nevertheless praised himself for the dinner, and abandoned nuance in claiming on Twitter that China had agreed to immediately buy more U.S. farm products, in addition to dropping car tariffs. Mnuchin, in an interview with CNBC on Monday, put a $1.2 trillion price tag on China’s additional trade commitments, but emphasized the details of how they get there still need to be negotiated.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Farmers will be a a very BIG and FAST beneficiary of our deal with China. They intend to start purchasing agricultural product immediately. We make the finest and cleanest product in the World, and that is what China wants. Farmers, I LOVE YOU!

35.4K people are talking about this

China imposed a retaliatory 25 percent tariff on imports of cars from the U.S. over the summer in response to Trump’s own tariffs. That’s added on top of a 15 percent tariff that Beijing charges for imports from the rest of the world, leaving U.S. auto exporters facing a 40 percent levy at the Chinese border.

In his briefing with reporters, Kudlow said he assumed that the Chinese would eventually drop their auto tariffs altogether. Such a change would have to apply to all countries under World Trade Organization rules.

“We don’t yet have a specific agreement on that,” Kudlow said, apparently contradicting Trump’s tweet on the matter. “But I will just tell you, as an involved participant, we expect those tariffs to go to zero.”

Asked why the auto tariffs weren’t mentioned in statements the U.S. and China issued after the dinner, Kudlow inexplicably insisted that they were. “I don’t agree with that,” he said.

— With assistance by Shannon Pettypiece, Alyza Sebenius, and Jennifer Jacobs

(Updates with White House correcting Kudlow’s remarks, beginning in fifth paragraph.)

Immunity Backs Lebanese Politicians’ Frantic Tweeting

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Immunity Backs Lebanese Politicians’ Frantic Tweeting

Wednesday, 19 September, 2018 – 09:15
Beirut – Sanaa el-Jack
Taking to Twitter in service of their own ends, Lebanese politicians use the platform to expose secrets previously kept exclusive to political echelons. But unlike the average citizen, Twitter-active politicians enjoy immunity.

Maj. Gen. Jamil al-Sayyid said that posting on Twitter was a simple daily habit he practiced with no expectations whatsoever for his account to pick up a following of over 300,000.

“In the past, I was obsessed with the notion of expression, and made frequent contacts with televisions and newspapers to convey my stances,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“But with Twitter, it’s like I have my own radio podcast, television broadcast and a newspaper right at home. It takes one sentence to make an impact,” he added.

In another muscle flexing Twitter spat, Environment Minister Tarek Khatib scolds Lebanese journalist Charles Ayoub over the latter’s prodding around affairs of the caretaker Foreign Minister, Gebran Bassil.

In an Arabic tweet, Khatib tells Ayoub that his “harassment of great warriors will not take him any higher, and that Gebran Bassil will not stoop down to his level and grant him the privilege of response.”

“You need a mental hospital,” Khatib slams Ayoub.

Sociology Professor Dr. Talal Atrissi deplored double standards practiced in Lebanon that see to politicians getting off scot-free with blasting rivals, while the average citizen is dragged into investigations.

A politician posts whatever comes to his mind on Twitter with minimal accountability.

Unlike interviews and debates that are moderated by journalists, social media does not constrain the politician, Atrissi criticized.

“The Lebanese see Twitter as an escape, and simply don’t care about filtering what they say because they do not personally know the reader or responder,” he added.

“But if we assume that politicians are leaders and a role model for the public, then hearing an official cursing and using denigrate language makes way for others doing the same,” Atrissi said on the poorly, at times rudely, phrased tweets.

Atrissi remarked that a politician is responsible whenever he or she speaks, explaining that an elected representative is not an ordinary person that can act freely and in an unbalanced manner.

On social media, Lebanese politicians have not been shy in expressing hostility, brazenly lambasting their rivals.

“The issue with Lebanese behavior is facing each other edgily and aggressively on Twitter– as if there is hostility harbored against anyone who is not me,” Atrissi added.

“We need a lot of time to change this culture of resentment, through deliberate steps that contribute to eliminating provocation.”

Trump is powerless as his legal fate spins out of his control

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Trump is powerless as his legal fate spins out of his control

(CNN)President Donald Trump may no longer control his fate, a plight that helps explain his increasingly volcanic Twitter eruptions.

Trump’s persona — in politics, business and life — relies on his self-image as the guy who calls the shots, closes deals and forces others to react to the shock moves of a master narrative weaver.
But as a legal web closes around the President, he’s in a far weaker position than he would like, a situation especially underlined by the bombshell revelations that White House counsel Donald McGahn has spent 30 hours in interviews with special counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump reacted to a media frenzy over the McGahn revelations in characteristic fashion: by launching a new Twitter assault on Mueller, taking new shots at his new nemesis John Brennan and diverting attention with newsy comments on the Federal Reserve.
But sources told CNN on Monday that the President was unsettled that he didn’t know the full extent of McGahn’s testimony and had remained agitated through the weekend, believing the latest developments made him look weak.
McGahn’s conversations with Mueller are not the only drama that is leaving Trump waiting on events, rather than dictating them.
Prosecutors and jurors over whom he has little control, the legal exposure of some of his top former associates and the surprising constraints of the most powerful job in the world and those who serve him are leaving him — for once — struggling to control his own story.
Trump is on tenterhooks, for instance, as a jury — now entering its fourth day of deliberations — weighs tax and fraud charges that could send Paul Manafort, his onetime campaign chairman, to jail for life.
New reports on Sunday that Michael Cohen is close to being charged in his own multimillion-dollar alleged fraud case ignited fresh speculation over whether the President’s former personal lawyer could do a deal with prosecutors to testify against his former top client.
Then there is his duel with Mueller himself, who may be the most inscrutable, immovable foe Trump has ever faced.
The President has often raised fears that he could try to have Mueller removed or otherwise interfere with his investigation. But the consequences of derailing a criminal probe into the conduct of his own campaign would cause a crisis of governance in Washington and could so shift the political terrain that even Republicans who have given the President a free pass could be forced to confront him.
Still, on Monday Trump was still mulling the idea of a shock move — or at least he wanted the special counsel, his own supporters and other Americans to think he might try something unthinkable.
“I’ve decided to stay out. Now, I don’t have to stay out, as you know. I can go in and I could … do whatever, I could run it if I want,” Trump told Reuters in an interview, speaking about the Mueller investigation.

Trying to get back in control

After the McGahn news detonated, Trump — as he often does when apparently caught off guard — took pains to create an impression that he was in control.
He tweeted on Sunday that he had engineered McGahn’s testimony because he had nothing to hide and rejected commentary that the White House counsel may have turned on him.
Of course, the President could be completely genuine in his comments if he has done nothing wrong. But many legal analysts saw the new details over the length and extent of McGahn’s discussions with Mueller as a serious development that could have all sorts of implications down the road.
“I think the White House should be very concerned about it,” CNN Legal Analyst Ross Garber said.
“The notion that the White House counsel — the senior lawyer for the presidency — was in cooperation with federal investigators and that the President and the chief of staff and others around the President don’t know what he said — that is troubling.”
Powerless to do much else, Trump fired off wild tweeting sprees, in deflection mode, accusing Mueller of perpetrating McCarthyism and taking new swipes at Brennan.
“He won’t sue!” Trump predicted in a tweet that branded Brennan “the worst CIA Director in our country’s history,” days after stripping him of his security clearance.
And on Monday the President tweeted: “Disgraced and discredited Bob Mueller and his whole group of Angry Democrat Thugs spent over 30 hours with the White House Councel (sic), only with my approval, for purposes of transparency. Anybody needing that much time when they know there is no Russian Collusion is just someone … looking for trouble.”
But it’s becoming clear that Trump’s immediate and ultimate destiny cannot be dictated by a tweet storm or by taking vengeance against an enemy like Brennan — a tried and trusted tactic in a political arsenal that often relies on elevating and then dismembering a foil.
Other than wielding pre-emptive pardons for former aides that could ignite a constitutional showdown or launching purges of top judicial authorities handling various cases that are drawing him into a deeper legal morass, there is not much the President can do to help himself.
That’s partly down to Mueller.
For all his increasingly poisonous insults, claims by his lawyer Rudy Giuliani that the special counsel is “panicking” and the assault by his allies in conservative media, Trump has failed to draw the tight-lipped special counsel into the kind of confrontation that favors him.
And for all Giuliani’s demands for Mueller to release his “report” and the political jockeying by Trump’s legal team over a potential interview of the President by the special counsel, the taciturn investigator appears to hold all the cards.
No one, least of all the President, can be sure exactly what Mueller knows about key issues like the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, the events that led up to the departure of indicted former national security adviser Michael Flynn or obstruction of justice allegations.
And given the tight clamp the special counsel has imposed on his probe, it is anyone’s guess whether Mueller will file a report, what it will say and when he might make his conclusions public.
While Trump’s team appears to be trying to make the probe a midterm election rallying call for his political base, it’s also unclear whether the special counsel will make any new indictments, issue a subpoena for the President’s testimony or take any other significant steps before November.
All that is a serious disadvantage for Trump’s legal and political team as it games out a possible defense.

Not so powerful after all

As a zealous litigant during his business career, Trump was used to having lawyers ready to jump at his barked commands.
But he’s found that things are different for a president, a reality underscored by the McGahn episode.
Because McGahn serves as White House counsel, his primary duty is not limiting Trump’s legal liabilities but to the office of the presidency itself, a distinction that has left some experts wondering why the President did not invoke executive privilege to delay or limit McGahn’s testimony.
Even then, there might not have been much Trump could have done, given the realities of McGahn’s role and the fact that he is not the President’s personal attorney.
“He works for the people of the United States, and there is a very limited scope to the confidentiality of his discussions with the President, especially when they involve conduct that might be legitimately the subject of criminal investigation,” Paul Rosenzweig, a former senior counsel to Bill Clinton independent counsel Kenneth Starr, told CNN’s Brooke Baldwin.
“He simply has that obligation as a servant of the American people who works for us, in effect.”
Trump’s frustration over the constraints of his role and the obligations of those who serve him has long simmered in his relationship with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Trump has repeatedly slammed the former Alabama senator for recusing himself from the Russia probe; in other words, protecting not the President but his duty to justice and good governance.
It may not be much longer before Trump feels the same way about McGahn.
The President is also all but powerless in another legal drama that has huge implications.
Like the rest of Washington, he was back in a waiting game as the jury in the Manafort trial in Alexandria, Virginia, slogged through a third day of deliberations Monday. Should it return a guilty verdict, it would hand a first, significant victory to Mueller’s team and deal a symbolic blow to Trump, offering new evidence to critics who say he surrounded himself with corrupt characters from his former life.
The President, despite repeated warnings from his cheerleaders on Fox News opinion shows that the Manafort trial has nothing to do with him, has shown by a string of tweets that he is watching the trial closely.
But he cannot do much more than hope that it turns out well for Manafort, though on Friday he did call the trial “very sad” and his former campaign chairman “a very good person” in comments seen by some legal experts as an effort to influence a jury that was not sequestered.
Until the jury returns its verdict, the depth of Cohen’s legal woes becomes clear and the inscrutable Mueller makes a significant move, Trump can only wait. And tweet.
He is going to have to get used to not being in control.

NBA players defend LeBron James after President (THE DUMB ASS) Trump tweet

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(DONALD ‘THE DUMB ASS’ TRUMP SHOWS ONCE AGAIN THAT HE IS THE MOST IGNORANT MAN IN AMERICA!)

 

NBA players defend LeBron James after President Trump tweet

LeBron James hasn’t responded to a shot about his intelligence from President Donald Trump, but Hall of Famer Michael Jordan and other fellow NBA players took to Twitter to defend him.

Trump took aim at James in a tweet on Friday night, days after an interview with CNN’s Don Lemon aired in which the Los Angeles Lakers star said he felt that Trump was “using sports to kinda divide us.”

“Sports has never been something that divides people,” James told Lemon. “It’s always been something that brings someone together.”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!

Trump also appeared to take sides in the LeBron vs. Jordan debate, saying, “I like Mike!”

Jordan, who owns the Charlotte Hornets, issued a statement Saturday backing James.

“I support LJ,” Jordan said in the statement. “He’s doing an amazing job for his community.”

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who was at the league’s NBA Africa Game on Saturday in Johannesburg, South Africa, commended James for his work on and off the court.

“LeBron James is one of the all-time greatest NBA players and one of the most accomplished athletes,” Silver told USA Today. “He runs a very successful media company. He’s sent hundreds of students to college and just opened a school in Akron where at-risk students will receive free tuition, meals and transportation.

“I greatly admire his intelligence and business acumen and have enormous respect and appreciation for what he does in his community.”

Other players from around the league, including Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell, came to James’ defense on social media after Trump’s tweet.

Karl-Anthony Towns

@KarlTowns

So let me get this straight: Flint, MI has dirty water still, but you worried about an interview about a man doing good for education and generations of kids in his hometown? Shut your damn mouth! Stop using them twitter fingers and get stuff done for our country with that pen.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!

Donovan Mitchell

@spidadmitchell

A sign of an insecure human being is one who attacks others to make themselves feel better… im just sad that young kids have to see stupid tweets like these and grow up thinking it’s okay… forget everything else Donald your setting a bad example for kids😑 our future 🤡

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!

Stephen Curry

@StephenCurry30

Keep doing you @KingJames! 💪🏽

CNN

@CNN

LeBron James says he thinks the President is using athletics, and athletes, to divide the country — and that’s something he “can’t relate to” https://cnn.it/2M2wutB 

View image on Twitter

Jared Dudley

@JaredDudley619

He’s gotta go!

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!

Anthony Tolliver

@ATolliver44

I’ve been silent about ALL of the DUMB stuff this man has tweeted but THIS is attacking the NBA brotherhood and I’m not rollin’! What an embarrassment…

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!

Bradley Beal

@RealDealBeal23

Tired of you!

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

Lebron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made Lebron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!

Lakers owner Jeanie Buss said the franchise “could not be more proud to have LeBron James as part of our Lakers family.”

“He is an incredibly thoughtful and intelligent leader and clearly appreciates the power that sports has to unite communities and inspire the world to be a better place,” Buss said in a separate statement Saturday. “Those efforts should be celebrated by all.”

Lemon, who conducted the interview with James, also weighed in.

Don Lemon

@donlemon

Who’s the real dummy? A man who puts kids in classrooms or one who puts kids in cages? https://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2018/08/02/lebron-james-i-promise-school-akron-ohio-don-lemon-cnn-tonight.cnn 

LeBron James launches new ‘I Promise’ School – CNN Video

The LeBron James Family Foundation, in collaboration with the Akron Public Schools system, has launched a new school for at-risk 3rd and 4th grader

cnn.com

The LeBron James Family Foundation and the Akron (Ohio) Public Schools on Monday opened a new elementary school for at-risk children in his hometown.

The I Promise School is the culmination of nearly a decade of work by James’ foundation, with its focus on educating children from challenging situations or backgrounds. The school will begin with two grades, third and fourth, with plans to expand in the coming years.

For those who complete the program, which has been operating for years, James has arranged for free tuition to the University of Akron starting in 2021. He also created a program for parents of the at-risk children to return to complete their high school educations, and he has planned an institute to help prepare high-school-age students for college.

In all, James and his foundation leaders hope that more than 1,200 children will pass through the program and into college by 2029.

First lady Melania Trump, in a statement issued Saturday by her spokesperson, would be open to visiting the I Promise School.

“It looks like LeBron James is working to do good things on behalf of our next generation,” the statement issued by Stephanie Grisham said, “and just as she always has, the First Lady encourages everyone to have an open dialogue about issues facing children today.”

President Trump traveled to Ohio on Saturday for a campaign rally.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Donald Trump’s G7 temper tantrum

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Donald Trump’s G7 temper tantrum

(CNN)President Donald Trump’s views on foreign policy — and, really, everything — are surprisingly simple: He likes people who are nice to him and do things he wants and he doesn’t like people who aren’t nice to him and don’t do things he wants.

So, his views on any given issue or foreign leader are largely informed by how that person has treated Trump in their last interaction — and how much of what he wants that they are willing to give him.
That worldview is important to keep in mind as Trump travels to Canada to attend the G7 summit on Friday, a trip which he has already tried to wiggle out of, is cutting a day short and, if Twitter is any indication, is assuming will be a total and complete disaster.
“The European Union treats us very unfairly,” Trump said as he left the White House Friday morning to head to the G7. “Canada [treats us] very unfairly.”
That’s the latest in a series of increasingly frustrated and angry comments coming out of the White House over the past few days, as its become more and more clear that leaders Trump thought were his friends — French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — have pushed back on his demands, particularly on tariffs.
Trudeau and Trump had a reportedly contentious phone call late last month as the Canadian leader expressed his unhappiness with the United States imposing tariffs on its neighbor to the north for “national security reasons.”
And Trump has repeatedly antagonized Trudeau in the run-up to the G7 meeting.
“Prime Minister Trudeau is being so indignant, bringing up the relationship that the U.S. and Canada had over the many years and all sorts of other things…but he doesn’t bring up the fact that they charge us up to 300% on dairy — hurting our Farmers, killing our Agriculture!” Trump tweeted Thursday night.
He kept up that drumbeat Friday morning, tweeting: “Canada charges the U.S. a 270% tariff on Dairy Products! They didn’t tell you that, did they? Not fair to our farmers!” (It’s slightly more complicated than that.)
Even Macron, the world leader with whom Trump appeared to have the warmest relations, has come under fire from the President’s Twitter account.
“Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers,” Trump tweeted. “The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.”
That tweet came after — stop me if you’ve heard this one! — a heated phone call between Trump and Macron earlier in the week in which the French President expressed his unhappiness with Trump’s policies on immigration and trade.
Trump expected more capitulation from the likes of Trudeau and Macron because, well, they had been nice to him. They had, of course, done that out of a (mistaken) belief that praising Trump and playing to his desire to be venerated would make him more malleable to their policy wishes.
When he didn’t get the full support of Macron and Trudeau for policies that, well, they don’t support, Trump pouted. Publicly.
“Even as late as Thursday afternoon, Trump was questioning why he would attend a G7 meeting where he’s outnumbered on key issues like trade and climate change. As a series of combative tweets from Macron began emerging late in the day, Trump again raised the prospect of scrubbing all or part of his visit to Canada, asking advisers what the point of attending the summit would be, according to a person familiar with the conversations.”
This my-way-or-the-highway (or take-my-ball-and-go-home) approach is what Trump promised as a candidate for president. Past holders of the office had made terrible deals for the US — Trump would make good ones. He alone knew how to talk to world leaders to get them to do exactly what he wanted. It was all in the art of the deal.
Campaigning is easy. Governing is hard.
And it turns out that simply telling other countries to, say, pay for a border wall (and enjoy it!) or renegotiate broad and complex trade deals isn’t as easy as firing someone on a reality TV show.
That reality makes Trump mad. And when he gets angry, he tweets. Watch his Twitter feed over the next 24-48 hours.

Turkish Journalists Sentenced to Life in Prison

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

‘They Fear Pens, Not Guns’: Turkish Journalists Sentenced to Life in Prison

Demonstrators on World Press Freedom Day in Turkey, 2013. Image by Amnesty International Turkey.

After spending just over a year behind bars without charge, Turkish-German journalist Deniz Yucel was released from a Turkish jail on February 16. Just hours later, six other journalists in the country were issued a life sentence for “or attempting to overthrow the constitutional order”.

With 155 journalists serving jail time because of their work, these days of highs and lows are beginning to feel routine for Turkey’s embattled independent media community.

BBC described Deniz Yucel’s imprisonment as a long-standing “irritant” in the relations between the two countries. His release came shortly after Turkish PM’s visit to Germany this week.

Deniz Yucel was arrested exactly 367 days ago on suspicion of “inciting the people to racial hatred and enmity” and “spreading the propaganda of a terrorist organization”.

Soon after his release was announced, crowd gathered outside the jail, where Yucel joined his wife who was waiting for him:

But the ordeal is not yet over. Yucel was charged and indicted upon his release, with the prosecution demanding that he be sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Same court that ordered ‘s release has apparently accepted an indictment calling for up to 18 years imprisonment.

Not quite clear what is going on, but a key issue is whether he is being allowed to travel abroad.

In ordering Deniz Yücel’s release, the court also accepted his newly issued indictment. He faces 4 to 18 years in prison. https://twitter.com/cyberrights/status/964462592331796480 

While colleagues and friends celebrated the news of Yucel’s release, another court decision came down, this time affecting the fate of a different group of journalists.

A Turkish court has jailed for life journalists Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Nazli Ilicak & Fevzi Yazici & one other defendant for seeking to “overthrow the constitutional order” in alleged coup plot http://www.haberturk.com/nazli-ilicak-ve-altan-kardeslerin-yargilandigi-davada-karar-bekleniyor-1840173 

Esas hakkındaki savunmalar tamamlandı

Haberin detayları için tıklayın

haberturk.com

Awful news coming in from Silivri jus now. & faced a trial in which no credible evidence was presented beyond their words. This verdict does not pass the test of international human rights law. https://twitter.com/rsf_eeca/status/964478858996146177 

Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan, Nazli Ilica, Yakup Şimşek, Fevzi Yazıcı and Şükrü Tuğrul Özsengül were handed a lifetime prison sentence after being convicted of involvement with Turkey’s 2016 coup, despite a lack of direct evidence.

Five of the six defendants are journalists and intellectuals all had strong ties with opposition news outlets in the past. Ahmet Altan is the former editor-in-chief of Taraf newspaper and his brother, Mehmet Altan is an academic and journalist who once wrote for Hurriyet. Nazli Ilıcak has written for Hurriyet, in addition to other newspapers, and briefly served as an MP for the Virtue party.

Yakup Şimşek and Fevzi Yazıcı worked with Zaman newspaper, which was one of Turkey’s largest independent daily newspapers until 2016, when the government seized its operations, alleging that the outlet had ties to Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen.

Anadolu Agency reported that six people were convicted for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and of having communicated with associates of Gulen, whom Turkey blames for the July 2016 failed coup.

In addition to facing legal threats, all of these journalists have been subject to extralegal harassment. One year ago, President Erdogan called Yucel a terrorist in one of his televised speeches.

Bu konuşmayı tam 1 yıl önce çekmiştim. Deniz sonunda özgür. Darısı Alman vatandaşı olmayan gazeteci arkadaşlarımızın başına.

I filmed this speech one year ago. Deniz is finally free. I wish the same for the rest non-German citizen journalists friends of mine.


Video clip translation:
 They are hiding this German terrorist, this spy at the embassy. They hid him for a month. And German Chancellor asked him from me. She said to release him. I told her we have an independent judiciary. Just like your judiciary is independent so is mine. It is [the judiciary] objective. That is why I am sorry to say, you won’t take them from us. Finally, he was brought to court. He was arrested. Why? Because he is spy terrorist. Who cares he is a German citizen. It doesn’t matter whose citizen you are, if you are spreading terror in Turkey, if they are secretly spies, they will pay the price.

Supporters in Turkey and around the world tweeted their shock at the decision:

Today’s verdict & sentences of life without parole for , & mark an apex of the disintegration of the in . Judge ignored a binding Turkish Constitutional Court decision. The European Court of Human Rights must act.

As Ahmet Altan, Mehmet Altan and Nazlı Ilıcak are given “aggravated life sentences”, it is worth remembering what that sentence is.

It is life without parole, with up to 23 hours a day in solitary confinement. Forever and ever, amen.

On February 12, both Ahmet and Mehmet Altan were thrown out of the courthouse, for demanding to read the constitutional court decision which ruled for their releasein January. The two brothers demanded that the decision which was overturned within 24 hours by the ruling of the 27th High Court is put on the record.

The next day, on February 13, speaking from high-security prison via video link, Ahmet Altan in his defense said the following:

Those in political power no longer fear generals. But they do fear writers. They fear pens, not guns. Because pens can reach where guns cannot: into the conscience of a society.

When the verdict was handed to Altan brothers today, one observer said cries and screams filled the courtroom.

Meanwhile, there are at least four other German Turkish citizens behind bars in Turkey, while the total number of imprisoned journalists and writers since the coup has now surpassed 150.

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