Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Last Call For The War On Women, Con't

The party of Trump has truly made America special indeed, as for the first time America makes the top ten nations in the world...that are the most dangerous to be a woman in.

The United States has been ranked for the first time among the ten nations deemed to be the most dangerous for women by experts in the field. A survey by the Thompson Reuters Foundation of about 550 experts in women's issues around the globe labelled the U.S. the 10th most dangerous nation in terms of the risk of sexual violence, harassment and being coerced into sex. 
Reuters said the U.S. placement on the dubious list was down largely to the #MeToo and Time's Up campaigns increasing awareness of sexual violence and intimidation of women in the U.S. in the wake of the criminal allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein
"People want to think income means you're protected from misogyny, and sadly that's not the case," Cindy Southworth, of the Washington-based National Network to End Domestic Violence, told Reuters. "We are going to look back and see this as a very powerful tipping point... We're blowing the lid off and saying '#Metoo and Time's Up'."

We're number ten!  And topping the list?  The half-billion plus women living under the government of Trump's friend Narendra Modi.

According to the survey, which was last carried out in 2011 and did not then rank the U.S. among the top 10 most dangerous nations, India is the most perilous country for women right now. 
The survey noted that Indian government data shows reported crimes against women were up 83 percent between 2007 and 2016. During that year, there were an average of four rapes reported every hour in India. 
India has seen a series of horrific attacks on women in recent years, the most recent example being five female activists working to raise awareness of human trafficking who were gang-raped at gunpoint in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand just last week.

Rounding out the list: Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen, Nigeria, and of course, the United States.

It's really saying something that under Trump, the US is more dangerous for women than say, China under Xi's increasingly one-man rule,  Russia under Putin's regime, Turkey under re-elected strongman Erdogan, or even Cuba, Venezuela or the Philippines, all under authoritarian control.

And the elephants in the room, Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon

It's less dangerous to be a woman in Iran today than in America.  The one good thing is that now everyone is aware of just how bad the problem in this country is.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

The Mueller probe is moving into the endgame as the investigation closes in on Trump and his inner circle, and possibly Trump himself.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing to accelerate his probe into possible collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russians who sought to interfere in the 2016 election, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Mueller and his team of prosecutors and investigators have an eye toward producing conclusions -- and possible indictments -- related to collusion by fall, said the person, who asked not to be identified. He’ll be able to turn his full attention to the issue as he resolves other questions, including deciding soon whether to find that Trump sought to obstruct justice. 
Mueller’s office declined to comment on his plans.

Suspicious contacts between at least 13 people associated with Trump’s presidential campaign and Russians have fueled the debate over collusion.

Some of those encounters have been known for months: the Russian ambassador whose conversations forced Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation and led Michael Flynn to plead guilty to perjury. The Russians who wangled a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower in July 2016 after dangling the promise of political dirt on Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Other encounters continue to emerge, including a Russian’s chat with veteran Trump adviser Roger Stone at a cafe in Florida.

Signs of suspicious Russian contacts first surfaced in late 2015, especially among U.S. allies who were conducting surveillance against Russians, according to a former official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. 
By the spring of 2016 the frequent contacts set off alarm bells among U.S. intelligence officials, according to James Clapper, who was director of national intelligence at the time. The FBI’s Russia investigation officially began that July. 
“The dashboard warning lights were on for all of us because of the meetings,” Clapper said in an interview this month. “We may not have known much about the content of these meetings, but it was certainly very curious why so many meetings with Russians.”
On three occasions, Russians offered people associated with Trump’s campaign dirt on Democrat Clinton -- all before it was publicly known that Russians had hacked the Democratic National Committee and Clinton’s campaign chairman. 
Mueller has interviewed or sought information about many of the people known to have met with Russians during the campaign. But it’s not known publicly whether the barrage of Russian contacts was instigated or coordinated by the Kremlin. Trump, for his part, has repeatedly denied any such plotting, tweeting on June 15, “WITCH HUNT! There was no Russian Collusion.”

The article goes on to list the folks under Mueller's sights:

  1. Michael Cohen
  2. Paul Manafort
  3. Michael Flynn
  4. Jared Kushner
  5. Erik Prince
  6. Rick Gates
  7. J.D. Gordon
  8. Carter Page
  9. Roger Stone
  10. Michael Caputo
  11. Donald Trump Jr.
  12. George Papadopoulos
  13. Jeff Sessions
The question: how many of these Dirty 13 are headed for prison?  We know that Gates, Papadopoulos, Prince and Flynn are talking, Manafort and Cohen are looking at spending the rest of their lives in a box if they don't cooperate, Gordon and Caputo have most likely already flipped to get bigger fish, and that Kushner, Sessions, and Don Jr. are currently sweating it out.

Stone I think is the real prize that's shifted Mueller towards the focus on collusion.  He knows way too much about the WikiLeaks/DNC hack connection, but doesn't have the personal protection of Trump like Kushner, Junior, and Sessions does.  Mueller only went after Stone in the last month or so too, when it became clear that he couldn't keep his mouth shut.

Now don't get me wrong, Cohen, Kushner, Flynn, Erik Prince and Paul Manafort are all going to cough up what they know.  But I think it's funny that Roger Stone's discount Batman '66 Penguin self could be the guy that actually brings down Trump.

Stay tuned.

The Supreme Time Of Year Again

The last week in June always means the biggest, most consequential US Supreme Court decisions of the term, and this year has been no exception for the Roberts court.  Monday, we got a massive decision on race and gerrymandering, and the fact that it was a 5-4 decision authored by Justice Samuel Alito should be enough to infer the disaster that awaits the country.  SCOTUSblog's Amy Howe confirms that the decision in Abbott v. Perez is a near-total victory for the GOP on the subject of redistricting with the intent of suppressing the minority vote.

Alito then turned to what he characterized as the main question on the merits of the state’s appeal: whether the district court was wrong “when it required the State to show that the 2013 Legislature somehow purged the ‘taint’ that the court attributed to the defunct and never-used plans enacted by a prior legislature in 2011.” According to Alito, the district court’s analysis was exactly backward: Even if a state has been found to have discriminated in the past, he observed, there is still a presumption that it acted properly in drafting later redistricting plans. This means that the plaintiffs challenging a redistricting plan still have to show that the legislature intended to discriminate when it enacted the current plan.

Alito acknowledged that the intent of the Texas legislature when it enacted the 2011 plan was something that a court could consider, and he added that the mere fact that the 2013 plans largely mirrored the 2012 interim plans adopted by the court did not immunize the 2013 plans from a challenge. But when all of the evidence is considered together, Alito concluded, it does not show that the legislature intended to discriminate against minority voters. If anything, Alito stressed, the available evidence suggests that the legislature did not intend to discriminate, but instead adopted the 2013 plans because it had been advised that doing so was the best way to end the “expensive and time consuming” litigation over the redistricting plans.

The majority’s holding that the district court had applied the wrong test resolved almost all of the case in Texas’ favor, leaving only four districts that the district court had invalidated for reasons other than discriminatory intent. Here the majority reversed the district court’s holding that three of the districts diluted the votes of minority voters, but it upheld the district court’s ruling that a state legislative district in Tarrant County was the product of racial gerrymandering. The legislature had “substantially modified” the Tarrant County district in 2013, and the state contended that it had done so to comply with the Voting Rights Act. But the reasons that the state cited to justify its decision to focus on race in drawing the district were “simply too thin a reed to support the drastic decision to draw lines in this way,” Alito concluded. The court therefore sent the case back to the lower court, presumably for it to apply the correct test to the districts that it had previously struck down.

In other words, after five years ago when the Roberts court blew a hole in the Voting Rights Act's Section 5 by throwing out pre-clearance rules in Section 4 of the law, Alito all but finished the job by effectively neutering Section 2.

It basically makes it impossible to bring a redistrcting challenge based on race, because Alito basically says that state legislatures that draw districts must be given the benefit of the doubt and they can't be racist.

Think about that.

In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor ripped Alito a new one.

In a blistering final paragraph that closed with the phrase “I dissent,” rather than the “I respectfully dissent” often used by the justices, Sotomayor protested that today’s ruling “does great damage to” the right “to equal participation in our political processes.” “Not because it denies the existence of that right, but because it refuses its enforcement. The Court intervenes when no intervention is authorized and blinds itself to the overwhelming factual record below. It does all of this to allow Texas to use electoral maps that, in design and effect, burden the rights of minority voters.”

Understand that if Republicans are still in charge of your state when redistricting rolls around in 2021, minority voters are going to be gerrymandered into oblivion.  The VRA's protections for minority voters have been fully dismantled.  Trump will never sign a new VRA into law, even if Democrats somehow manage to win back the House and the Senate and get something passed.

It was bad five years ago.  It's worse now.  It will be exponentially worse in 2020, 2022, and 2024.


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