By Robert A. Vella
Insanity is all around us, folks. It’s enough to turn any sane person into a quivering mass of goo. Unfortunately for the world today, sanity is not a prerequisite for leadership in government, in business, or in any other of our social institutions. Indeed, madness seems to be on the rampage wherever positions of power reside. It is like a pandemic spreading across the globe from capitol to capitol, from headquarters to headquarters, and from man to man. Still, there are voices urging restraint and trying to reassure people that the rational center will prevail; however, those voices are fading with time. More and more, the realization is settling in that humanity is rushing uncontrollably towards some fateful event which will define our destiny. This may sound apocryphal and apocalyptic to some, and perhaps it is. Time will tell, I suppose.
In another example indicating that President Trump and his Department of Justice are deeply worried about what former members of Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel office might reveal in upcoming congressional testimony, the DOJ under Attorney General William Barr has issued “instructions” to these individuals which appear to be nothing less than intimidation tactics. Trump has won one of the court cases (on technical grounds) accusing him of violating the U.S. Constitution’s emoluments clause, but his move to replace the DOJ’s legal team in his failing efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census was rejected by a federal judge. In the U.K., the fight between parliament and the likely replacement (Boris Johnson) for outgoing prime Minister Theresa May is intensifying over the Brexit fiasco. New concerns about rising retail prices and a global economic downturn are increasing as the practical realities of Trump’s trade war with China are becoming evident. Russia has been identified as the culprit behind the fake 2016 controversy over the death of Democratic National Committee (DNC) staffer Seth Rich.
Tensions between Iran and the U.K. are heating up over the seizure of an oil tanker. The British ambassador to the U.S. has resigned after leaked diplomatic memos revealed his criticism of Trump. A consumer boycott of Home Depot is being threatened after its co-founder Bernie Marcus announced he would make campaign contributions to Trump’s reelection effort. Trump’s 4th of July celebration cost at least $1.2 million. Trump has issued an executive order on medical procedures involving kidney dialysis and organ transplant. Former National Security Advisor to President Trump and now convicted felon, Michael Flynn, continues to anger the judge responsible for his upcoming criminal sentencing with erratic and inconsistent behavior in his case and a related case. The House Intelligence Committee said that former Trump business partner Felix Sater, who played a prominent role in the aborted 2016 Trump Tower project in Moscow, was uncooperative in his congressional testimony. Migrant children in Arizona claim they were sexually assaulted by U.S. Border Patrol agents. Hawaii has decriminalized marijuana.
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is seeking to discourage Robert S. Mueller III’s deputies from testifying before Congress, potentially jeopardizing an agreement for two of the former prosecutors to answer lawmakers’ questions in private next week, according to two government officials familiar with the matter.
The department told the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees last week that it was opposed to the testimony and had communicated its view to the two former members of Mr. Mueller’s team, Aaron Zebley and James L. Quarles III, according to a senior congressional official familiar with the discussions. A Justice Department official confirmed that account and said that the department had instructed both men not to appear.
Both Mr. Zebley and Mr. Quarles have left the Justice Department and are now private citizens, meaning that the department most likely cannot actually block their testimony. But the department’s view — depending on how strongly it is expressed — could have a chilling effect on two longtime employees and give them cover to avoid testifying.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday won the dismissal of a lawsuit against him by Maryland and the District of Columbia that challenged payments made to his Washington hotel by foreigners while he has been in the White House.
A three-judge panel in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in a decision said that Maryland and D.C. “do not have Article III standing to pursue their claims against the president” that he violated the emoluments clause of the U.S. Constitution.
A federal judge in New York on Tuesday denied a bid from the Justice Department to replace the team of lawyers on the census citizenship question case, writing that its request to do so was “patently deficient.”
The department had earlier this week announced its intention to swap out the legal team on the case — without saying exactly why. A person familiar with the matter said the decision was driven in part by frustration among at least some of the career lawyers who had been assigned to the case about how it was being handled, though the department wanted to replace those in both career and political positions.
(Bloomberg) — Members of Britain’s Parliament delivered a sharp warning to the country’s next prime minister: they will not allow him to pursue a no-deal Brexit without a fight.
In a dramatic result Tuesday evening, MPs narrowly passed a measure aimed at stopping the U.K.’s future leader forcing the country out of the European Union without an agreement, against their wishes. The result sets up another potential crisis in British politics in the weeks and months ahead as the U.K.’s leaders grapple with the intractable tensions of Brexit.
Minutes after the vote, the two men vying to become prime minister clashed on television over the same issue that dominated the debate in the House of Commons: whether they would be willing to close down Parliament in order to deliver Brexit — with or without a deal — by the deadline of Oct. 31.
Boris Johnson, the front-runner in the leadership contest, refused to rule out suspending Parliament if it’s the only way to complete Brexit on time, while his rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, rejected the idea.
The world’s largest supplier of consumer goods says China’s factories are getting “urgent and desperate” as worried U.S. retailers accelerate a move out of the country amid heightened trade tensions.
China will see more factory shutdowns as the trade war that’s roiled the global supply chain exacerbates an exodus, said Spencer Fung, chief executive officer of Li & Fung Ltd. The company, which designs, sources and transports consumer goods from Asia for some of the world’s biggest retailers including Walmart and Nike, is being pushed by American clients to shift production out of China.
“U.S. clients are definitely very, very worried,” Fung said in an interview with Bloomberg. “Everyone is making razor-thin margins already and most people have a huge percentage in China. So if the biggest source increases the price by 25%, they are worried,” he said, referring to the scale of tariffs threatened on all Chinese imports to the U.S. by President Donald Trump.
WASHINGTON — In the summer of 2016, Russian intelligence agents secretly planted a fake report claiming that Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was gunned down by a squad of assassins working for Hillary Clinton, giving rise to a notorious conspiracy theory that captivated conservative activists and was later promoted from inside President Trump’s White House, a Yahoo News investigation has found.
Russia’s foreign intelligence service, known as the SVR, first circulated a phony “bulletin” — disguised to read as a real intelligence report —about the alleged murder of the former DNC staffer on July 13, 2016, according to the U.S. federal prosecutor who was in charge of the Rich case. That was just three days after Rich, 27, was killed in what police believed was a botched robbery while walking home to his group house in the Bloomingdale neighborhood of Washington, D.C., about 30 blocks north of the Capitol.