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426 posts
  • Opinion
  • Guns and Ammo
Mourners visit a memorial to a shooting victim at the Silver Lake Trader Joe's -- part of the nation's daily drumbeat of gun violence.
Mourners visit a memorial to a shooting victim at the Silver Lake Trader Joe's -- part of the nation's daily drumbeat of gun violence. (Los Angeles Times)

Today is my first day back at work after more than two weeks of vacation — my time off started July 4, fittingly enough (a few weeks of independence beginning on Independence Day). The news, of course, doesn’t go on holiday when we do (nor, evidently, do President Trump’s efforts to destabilize everything he comes in contact with).

Now that I’m back, I thought I’d check in with the Gun Violence Archive to see whether gun violence took a holiday too. It didn’t, of course. Our fellow Americans continued to kill themselves and others with abandon, from toddlers shooting siblings to violent criminals killing police officers.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
Cattle are prepared for showing at the Iowa County Fair in Marengo, Iowa, on July 12.
Cattle are prepared for showing at the Iowa County Fair in Marengo, Iowa, on July 12. (Scott Olson / Getty Images)

It doesn’t take a degree in economics to suspect that making something more expensive will put a crimp in its sales. That might not be true for a Ferrari or a Picasso, but it’s certainly the case for a commoditized item that has many potential substitutes.

Like, say, the cuts of beef coming out of U.S. factory farms. Or the chicken breasts. Or the pork chops.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the nascent trade war that President Trump has ignited with the rest of the world is already having an effect on U.S. meat producers. That’s because as the administration slaps tariffs on foreign steel, aluminum and other products, our trading partners are slapping retaliatory tariffs on our top exports, most notably agricultural goods.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Part of Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which President Trump wants to slash in half.
Part of Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which President Trump wants to slash in half. (Douglas C. Pizac)

Three months into his reign of error, President Trump ordered a review of more than two dozen national monuments — federal land excluded from various uses — with an eye toward reducing the amount of protected land and loosening the management plans covering what activities would be allowed where. Environmentalists (and The Times editorial board) warned that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s subsequent analysis and recommendations seemed framed more by a desire to increase exploitation of public lands than by a desire to preserve them. And now an errant release of internal emails shows the environmentalists were right.

The Washington Post reports that Interior officials, responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, mistakenly sent journalists and activists thousands of pages of internal emails that reveal government officials cherry-picked data to justify reducing the scope of some monuments while ignoring 99% of 2.7 million public comments against changing the designations. The president ultimately reduced the 1.35 million acre Bears Ears National Monument, designated by President Obama in 2016, by 85%, and the 1.7 million acre Grand-Staircase-Escalante, designated by President Clinton in 1996, by about half. Other proposals are still on the president’s desk, though there has been little indication whether he intends to act on them.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
President Trump, left, on July 22, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Feb. 6.
President Trump, left, on July 22, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Feb. 6. (AP Photo)

President Trump drew a red line of sorts with Iran on Twitter late Sunday night, echoing the belligerence of his early tweets about North Korea.

Trump was responding to a speech by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose remarks to Iranian diplomats on Sunday were reported (not in shoutcaps) by the Iranian government news agency. And as was the case with North Korea, Rouhani wasn’t threatening unilateral action against the United States — he was telling Trump that there would be a high price to pay if the United States messed with Iran.

Here’s the money quote from Rouhani, per Reuters: “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”

  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wants to see documents from Brett Kavanaugh's time in the White House.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) wants to see documents from Brett Kavanaugh's time in the White House. (Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press)

After President George W. Bush nominated John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court — initially as an associate justice, later as chief justice — reporters pored over musty documents from his days as a lawyer in Ronald Reagan’s administration. I was among them.

In an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on July 28, 2005, I analyzed papers from Roberts’  time as a special assistant to Atty Gen. William French Smith. They suggested that when the  young lawyer joined the administration he was “a true believer in Reagan’s views about the need for judicial restraint.”

Almost 13 years later, it’s Judge Brett Kavanaugh who is up for confirmation to the high court, and Senate Democrats are insisting on spelunking through records of his time in the Bush White House.

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Sen. Kamala Harris speaks with Senate Democrats in front of the Supreme Court on July 10.
Sen. Kamala Harris speaks with Senate Democrats in front of the Supreme Court on July 10. (Al Drago / Getty Images)

With the cost of rent hitting record highs in California and many big cities across the country, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) proposed this week one possible way to ease the burden on renters: a tax credit.

Harris unveiled The Rent Relief Act, which would create a refundable tax credit for tenants paying more than 30% of their gross income on their rent and utilities. The credit would be limited to households earning less than $100,000 (or $125,000 in high-cost areas like California’s urban centers) and would cap the amount of rent that could be claimed.

People who spend a third of their income on housing costs are considered “rent burdened,” and they may not have enough money left each month for other necessities, such as transportation, food, healthcare or savings. 

  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Almond, rice, hemp, coconut and soy milk
Almond, rice, hemp, coconut and soy milk (Los Angeles Times)

Is there any consumer of almond milk who believes that the beverage they are enjoying is cow’s milk flavored with almonds? For that matter, how many consumers choose soy milk because they crave the taste?

Perhaps the odd person is confused about this, but it is widely understood that any milk that comes with such a description is derived from plants and has nothing to do with the lactation of an animal. In fact, that’s generally why people buy the stuff.

Why then, does the Food and Drug Administration think consumers need protection from faux-milk beverages?

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, shown meeting Monday in Helsinki, plan another summit in the fall.
President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, shown meeting Monday in Helsinki, plan another summit in the fall. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)

We should start a regular feature here on Enter the Fray: Take a Walk Back with President Trump.

This week alone, the president and his aides had to “clarify” (read: contradict) his remarks at a news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki that gave equal credence to U.S. intelligence agencies and Russia’s murderous strongman on the issue of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential race. 

Then he and other administration officials had to “clarify” his statement to reporters that Russia wasn’t still targeting the United States.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Witch Hunt
Maria Butina in an undated photo
Maria Butina in an undated photo (Press Service of Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation / EPA/Shutterstock)

Short of conclusive proof to back up the Steele dossier, it’s hard to imagine anything that fits more perfectly into liberal fantasies than the allegations against Maria (code name: Mariia) Butina. 

The case features a young Russian woman who prosecutors say tried to infiltrate U.S. conservative political, religious and gun-rights groups while being steered by people close to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Prosecutors also accuse her of using or trying to use sex to gain access to these groups and to obtain a job with one of them that would let her stay longer in the United States.

Yet the things missing from the story so far prevent Butina from truly being the smoking gun that the anti-Trump crowd so desperately craves. (And for the record, Butina’s lawyer denies the allegations and says she has been trying to cooperate with federal investigators.)

Harvey Weinstein is escorted in handcuffs into State Supreme Court in July for arraignment on sex crime charges.
Harvey Weinstein is escorted in handcuffs into State Supreme Court in July for arraignment on sex crime charges. (Spencer Platt/ Getty Images)

Movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s contention that he had a “bargain” with actress Ashley Judd that he could touch her after she won an Academy Award should be laughed out of court.

The ridiculous argument was part of a motion by Weinstein to dismiss the defamation suit Judd brought against the Hollywood power broker. Judd claims in her lawsuit that Weinstein “torpedoed” her acting career after she turned down his sexual advances.

In court documents, Weinstein contends not only that he struck an agreement with Judd, but that he “attempted to live up to his part of the bargain by trying to cast Plaintiff in as many roles as possible that could earn her an Academy Award.”