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  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
Protesters demonstrate in opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Monday.
Protesters demonstrate in opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Monday. (Michael Reynolds / EPA / Shutterstock)

Barring a thunderclap revelation at Thursday’s scheduled Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, senators are heading toward a confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh that will put members in an incredibly uncomfortable position.

Two women will have leveled serious allegations of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh in his youth, with one of them, Christine Blasey Ford, potentially giving the details under oath of an alleged sexual assault by the nominee. Kavanaugh, for his part, has denied the allegations unconditionally and called the one made by a former Yale classmate a “smear.” 

The committee is set to hear from just Ford and Kavanaugh on Thursday. Given the circumstances — Ford said she told no one of the assault until about six years ago, when she confided in a therapist — the result is likely to be two irreconcilably different accounts of an event that did or did not happen more than three decades ago.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
The Milky Way arches over Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park.
The Milky Way arches over Joshua trees in Joshua Tree National Park. (Los Angeles Times)

It makes sense when you think about, but a new study reports that the United States’ national parks are enduring more stressful changes in climate from global warming than the rest of the nation. 

Climate change affects the entire globe, obviously, but the researchers argue that the most extreme environments are suffering the most extreme changes, from melting in Glacier National Park and the Arctic to reduced rain and increased heat in the Southwest deserts. And that’s where most of the nation’s parkland happens to be, such as Denali National Park in Alaska, Yosemite National Park here in California and the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. 

In fact, researchers warn that 90% of Joshua trees may be gone by the end of the century as their high-elevation habitat becomes too warm for them. The stress already has had a significant impact, with younger trees not sprouting and older trees dying out.

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  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • The Witch Hunt
A combination of two photos showing President Trump, left, and Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein, both in Washington, D.C.
A combination of two photos showing President Trump, left, and Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein, both in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb, Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Just how much is Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein going to enjoy his next three days at the office?

Monday opened with the news that Rosenstein — the Justice Department official who oversees special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation — was heading to the White House to turn in his resignation. By mid-day, though, the story had changed, with Rosenstein scheduled to meet with President Trump on Thursday to discuss his fate.

“Because the President is at the United Nations General Assembly and has a full schedule with leaders from around the world, they will meet on Thursday when the President returns to Washington, D.C.,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained.

  • Opinion
Google's search engine has captured more than 90% of the global market, according to StatCounter.com.
Google's search engine has captured more than 90% of the global market, according to StatCounter.com. (Google)

Republicans who fear that Silicon Valley’s tech titans are actively suppressing conservative voices and ideas have focused their suspicions lately on Google, the internet’s dominant search engine. The Wall Street Journal gave them more ammunition on Friday, reporting that leaked emails from inside Google showed employees discussing ways to “tweak the company’s search-related functions to show users how to contribute to pro-immigration organizations and contact lawmakers and government agencies” in the days after President Trump announced his travel ban.

This story comes about a week after Breitbart News published a leaked internal video showing upset Google executives and employees commiserating about Trump’s surprise victory in November 2016. According to Breitbart, the video “reveals an atmosphere of panic and dismay amongst the tech giant’s leadership, coupled with a determination to thwart both the Trump agenda and the broader populist movement emerging around the globe.”

Google insists that its search results remain unaffected by the opinions of the people who work on the technology, however strong or uniform they may be. In a statement to the Journal, the company declared, “Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology — not in the current campaign season, not during the 2016 election, and not in the aftermath of President Trump’s executive order on immigration. Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies.”

  • Opinion
  • We're All Doomed
  • Rule of Law
 Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington on Sept. 5.
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington on Sept. 5. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / Associated Press)

With friends like this, Judge Brett Kavanaugh needs no enemies.

My colleague Mike McGough just outlined the idiocy of President Trump’s tweets in support of Kavanaugh on Friday. Meanwhile, a key member of the judge’s nomination-support team, Ed Whelan of the conservative Ethics and Public Policy think tank, offered a profuse but partial apology Friday for a series of tweets that accused one of Kavanaugh’s high school classmates by name of committing the alleged sexual assault that Christine Blasey Ford has claimed that Kavanaugh committed against her 36 years ago.

Note here what Whelan isn’t apologizing for: airing an elaborate and wholly speculative explanation pointing the blame for the alleged assault away from Kavanaugh. Whelan’s string of tweets, which have since been deleted, offered floor plans of a house that he said matched the description Ford offered of the site of the assault. He also noted the resemblance between Kavanaugh and the classmate who lived at the house — and included pictures of them to underline this point.

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The government has arrested 41 would-be guardians of migrant children in places like Florida's Homestead Temporary Shelter.
The government has arrested 41 would-be guardians of migrant children in places like Florida's Homestead Temporary Shelter. (Susan Stocker / Sun Sentinel)

The federal government has a problem. Each month several thousand unaccompanied minors show up at the southern border and turn themselves in to Border Patrol agents hoping to make the case that they deserve sanctuary. The government usually turns those children over to the Department of Health and Human Services within 72 hours (or at least it’s supposed to), which then tries to find family members or other guardians to take them in while the deportation cases proceed. Often the children wind up in foster care.

As of Thursday, the government was holding 13,000 migrant children in detention centers, according to CNN. Yes, 13,000. It’s an indictment of the nation that it abides the incarceration of children who come to the door seeking help. And enriches private prison companies in the process.

  • Trump
  • Opinion
  • Rule of Law
President Trump speaks to the press on the South Lawn of the White House on Sept. 19.
President Trump speaks to the press on the South Lawn of the White House on Sept. 19. (Getty Images)

It was a mystery that left political reporters scratching their heads: Why was President Trump being so restrained in his comments about Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were high school students?

The president’s comments about the accusations were amazingly … presidential. As late as Thursday, he told a rally in Las Vegas: "Brett Kavanaugh — and I'm not saying anything about anybody else — but I want to tell you that Brett Kavanaugh is one of the finest human beings you will ever have the privilege of knowing or meeting.” He later added: "So we will let it play out, and I think everything is going to be just fine."

That was then, this is now. On Friday morning Trump tweeted this:

  • Opinion
  • Plastic Trash
A plastic straw and pieces of a red balloon were found inside this dead shearwater bird.
A plastic straw and pieces of a red balloon were found inside this dead shearwater bird. (Denise Hardesty / via Associated Press)

Gov. Jerry Brown just signed a law that does very little, yet may actually affect more Californians than any other piece of legislation this year.

It has to do with disposable plastic straws, untold millions of which are used by Californians every day.

The new law, AB 1884 by Assemblyman Ian Calderon (D-Whittier), requires that food service providers hand out a single-use plastic straw only when someone asks for one. It’s not a ban, although it will certainly be characterized as one by plastic makers and their allies.

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Activists hold up signs as the L.A. City Council votes Tuesday to ban the sale and manufacture of fur products within city limits.
Activists hold up signs as the L.A. City Council votes Tuesday to ban the sale and manufacture of fur products within city limits. (Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles City Council members unanimously voted Tuesday to start the process of driving fur sellers out of the city, a move that delighted animal-rights activists while accomplishing, well, not much. 

The motion by Councilmen Bob Blumenfield, Paul Koretz and Mitch O’Farrell declares, “The fur industry is one that has consistently been associated with inhumane practices,” both in terms of “deplorable” living conditions and the shocking methods used to kill them without marring their pelts. It adds, “By eliminating the sale of new fur products, Los Angeles has the opportunity to promote a community awareness of animal welfare and to continue to lead in the field of progressive animal welfare reform.”

The city attorney will now draft an ordinance prohibiting businesses in the city from manufacturing or selling new garments, accessories and other products made from fur. That ordinance will then go to the council for review and, if passed, on to Mayor Eric Garcetti for his signature.

President Trump said the declassified material would reveal 'Big Stuff.'
President Trump said the declassified material would reveal 'Big Stuff.' (Alex Wong / AFP-Getty Images)

In announcing that President Trump had ordered the declassification of several documents related to the investigation of possible ties between his 2016 campaign and Russia, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders made it sound like there was no politics involved. 

The disclosures were designed, Sanders said, “for reasons of transparency” and to accommodate requests from Congress.

But Trump himself said the quiet part out loud. On Tuesday he approvingly tweeted a quote from Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y): “What will be disclosed is that there was no basis for these FISA Warrants, that the important information was kept from the court, there’s going to be a disproportionate influence of the (Fake) Dossier. Basically you have a counter terrorism tool used to spy on a presidential campaign, which is unprecedented in our history.”