Report: Sessions Talked Policy With Russian Diplomat

July 25, 2017

Report: Sessions Talked About Campaign With Russian Diplomat

The Russian ambassador to the U.S. told his superiors that he discussed campaign-related matters, including policy issues, with Jeff Sessions during the 2016 presidential race, contrary to Mr. Session’s public assertions and sworn testimony, reports the Washington Post:

“Ambassador Sergey Kislyak’s accounts of two conversations with Sessions — then a top foreign policy adviser to Republican candidate Donald Trump — were intercepted by U.S. spy agencies, which monitor the communications of senior Russian officials in the United States and in Russia. Sessions initially failed to disclose his contacts with Kislyak and then said that the meetings were not about the Trump campaign.

One U.S. official said that Sessions — who testified that he had no recollection of an April encounter — has provided ‘misleading’ statements that are ‘contradicted by other evidence.’ A former official said that the intelligence indicates that Sessions and Kislyak had ‘substantive’ discussions on matters including Trump’s positions on Russia-related issues and prospects for U.S.-Russia relations in a Trump administration.

Sessions has said repeatedly that he never discussed campaign-related issues with Russian officials and that it was only in his capacity as a U.S. senator that he met with Kislyak.

‘I never had meetings with Russian operatives or Russian intermediaries about the Trump campaign,’ Sessions said in March when he announced that he would recuse himself from matters relating to the FBI probe of Russian interference in the election and any connections to the Trump campaign.”

— “Sessions discussed Trump campaign-related matters with Russian ambassador, U.S. intelligence intercepts show,” Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller, Washington Post

President Trump is hinting that he will fire Mr. Sessions and attacking him, but not for campaign collusion or for lying about it. Mr. Trump is upset that Mr. Sessions recused himself on the Russia investigation and isn’t persecuting his former political opponent, like they do in, say, Russia.

More:

“Sessions Discussed Campaign Matters With Russian Ambassador,” Aria Bendix and Adam Serwer, The Atlantic

“Sessions hires his own lawyer,” Rebecca Savransky, The Hill

Related:

“Ex-Bush ethics lawyer: Trump calling for Clinton to be prosecuted is an ‘impeachable offense,'” Aida Chavez, The Hill

“Russian envoy, at heart of U.S. investigations, ends tenure in Washington,” David Shepardson, Reuters

“Kislyak Leaves His Post With Russiagate in His Wake,” Griffin Connolly, Roll Call

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Summer Intern Speaks Outside White House

July 24, 2017

New Jersey youngster Jared Kushner spoke to White House reporters Monday, claiming credit towards his Citizenship Merit Badge. He’s a good boy, say his counselors.

Every summer well-connected, rich white American youths who can afford to work without pay descend upon the Nation’s Capital. They serve a vital function, staffing federal government offices while our elected officials are playing golf at their private clubs. Inevitably, the inexperienced and unsupervised young folks get into trouble. Everybody just shrugs.

More:

“Kushner’s damning account: At the very least, he’s in over his head,” Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

“Jared Kushner’s explanations on Russia reveal a man wholly unsuited to his job,” Ed Pilkington, The Guardian

“CNN analyst rips Kushner’s statement to shreds: He’s going to solve the Middle East but can’t fill out forms,” Eric W, Dolan, Raw Story

“Jared Kushner Blames Basically Everyone — Donny, His Assistant, His Tough Job — For the Russia Headache,” Emily Jane Fox, Vanity Fair

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Which Health Care Bill Will the Senate Vote On, Anyway?

July 24, 2017

Which Health Care Bill Will the Senate Vote On, Anyway?
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has called for a Senate vote on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), but it’s not clear just which GOP bill will be considered. Will it be:

One thing is clear: whether it’s Door #1, #2, or #3, the deal will cut taxes for the rich and increase premiums for anyone who still has health insurance.

More:

“Everyone is confused about the health care vote — including Republican senators,” Tara Golshan, Vox

“The Republicans Have Three Health Care Bills And No Clear Paths Forward,” Anna Maria Barry-Jester, FiveThirtyEight

“Senate GOP: Knowing Health Care Plan Is ‘Luxury We Don’t Have,’  Joe Williams and Lauren Clason, Roll Call

“Ahead of key vote, details of GOP health bill still unknown,” Hope Yen, Associated Press

“Senate Republicans don’t know what’s in their health bill or what it would do. They’re voting anyway.” Dylan Scott, Vox

“Trump makes veiled threat to GOP on Obamacare,” Rebecca Morin, Politico

Related:

“Parts of Senate GOP Health Care Bill Break Rules, Parliamentarian Says,” Mary Ellen McIntire, Roll Call

“Mixed signals from Trump White House on health care strategy,” Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Ken Thomas, Associated Press

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Le Vent Nous Portera

July 23, 2017

“Le Vent Nous Portera (The Wind Will Carry Us),” by Noir Désir, 2001. Video by Alexandre Courtes and Jacques Veneruso, featuring actor Rebecca Hampton.

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Each Day

July 23, 2017

“Each Day,” by Sister Wynona Carr, accompanied by Austin McCoy and His Combo. The “boys in the band” responses are her “Amen Corner,” a nice touch.

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Learned A Lot

July 22, 2017

Amos Lee performs “Learned A Lot” at Dominion NY, 2011.

“Late at night I sit and listen to the freeway
Rolling like a river on a distant shore”

Amos Lee website

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Polarity

July 22, 2017

“Polarity,” by Seventeen Evergreen (Caleb Pate and Nephi Evans). Music video by Terri Timely (Ian Kibbey and Corey Creasey).

Seventeen Evergreen website

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Party Seacombe

July 22, 2017

“Party Seacombe,” by George Harrison, from the Wonderwall soundtrack. Recorded by Mr. Harrison and friends, principally The Remo Four.

Note to Yanks: Seacombe is a place in the UK on the Wirral Peninsula in Merseyside.

More:

“Macca’s banjo, Mellotron and a Monkee: the story of George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music,” Graeme Thomson, The Guardian

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Bummer, Dude. Global Warming Will Swallow Good Surfing Beaches.

July 21, 2017

Bummer, Dude. Global Warming Will Swallow Good Surfing Beaches.

“It may seem that stronger storms and swells would be a boon to surfers. But as with many aspects of living in a changing climate, the outlook is far more complicated.

As a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey predicts, by 2100 many of Southern California’s most popular surfing spots could be subsumed beneath rising seas. Others could simply wash away.” 

— “California May Lose Popular Surfing Spots to Rising Seas,” Marissa Fessenden, Smithsonian

West Coast surfers will have to hit the beaches of North Carolina, where sea level change is against the law.

More:

“Will Climate Change Wipe Out Surfing?” Sam Kornell, Pacific Standard

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GOP Bill Destroys Health Coverage for 32 Million

July 20, 2017

GOP Bill Destroys Health Coverage for 32 million

Next week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will bring his Affordable Care Act Repeal bill up for a vote after all. If passed, the bill would repeal the ACA (aka ObamaCare) in two years, but doesn’t provide a replacement. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimate that, if the bill passes, 17 million Americans would lose health coverage next year, 32 million by 2026. CBO estimates that average insurance premiums would rise 25 percent next year, 50 percent by 2020, and double by 2026.

Worried insurers would probably start leaving the individual insurance market in the next few months or hike rates sharply.

President Trump threatened Senate Republicans with political retribution if they don’t vote for the homicidal bill. He’ll probably tweet them from the golf course this weekend to make sure they’re working on it [Update: Yes he did].

More:

“CBO Makes It Clear Repealing Obamacare Without a Replacement Would Be a Disaster,” Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine

“Here’s what health care looks like if Republicans’ Obamacare ‘repeal and delay’ plan succeeds,” Max Ehrenfreund, Washington Post

“H.R. 1628, Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act of 2017: Cost Estimate,” Congressional Budget Office

Update:

“Parts of Senate GOP Health Care Bill Break Rules, Parliamentarian Says,”Mary Ellen McIntire, Roll Call

Related:

“Trump can’t make a health care deal because he doesn’t understand health care,” Ezra Klein, Vox

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