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By Robert A. Vella

Boris Johnson, the American-born right-wing nut who may try to undermine democracy to force a hard Brexit, will become the next U.K. prime minister tomorrow replacing Theresa May.  The political turmoil in Puerto Rico is escalating with judicial retribution against the leakers who exposed Governor Ricardo Rosselló.  FBI Director Christopher Wray has issued another warning about Russian interference in the 2020 election which coincides with a report linking Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani to Ukrainian officials.  Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller will testify publicly before two House committees tomorrow as another House committee will vote on holding White House counselor Kellyanne Conway in contempt of Congress.  America’s breadbasket, i.e. the Great Plains and agricultural Midwest, has already suffered multiple catastrophes this year and now vital crops are baking under an extreme heat wave linked to climate change.  President Trump, who makes a habit of angering world leaders with his maniacal behavior, is really on a roll this week by causing diplomatic uproars simultaneously in numerous countries.  At home, his administration is ramping up plans to deport undocumented residents and to slash poor people from the Food Stamp program.

Boris wins

From:  Boris Johnson elected new Tory leader

Boris Johnson will become Britain’s next prime minister after being elected leader of the Conservative party, defeating Jeremy Hunt in the party’s leadership contest.

[…]

Johnson has faced a furious internal revolt even before arriving in Downing Street, with several key cabinet ministers, including the chancellor, Philip Hammond, saying they will resign rather than serve under him.

They have been alarmed by Johnson’s insistence that he is willing to countenance leaving the European Union without a deal on 31 October, rather than postpone Brexit once again – even if that meant proroguing parliament.

[…]

Johnson is likely to embark on fresh negotiations with EU leaders and key Brussels decision-makers as soon as possible, with a view to securing changes to May’s deal in time for the Halloween deadline.

But with no secure majority, and Labour determined to demand a referendum on any deal he brings back from Brussels, many MPs believe he could be forced to call a general election within months in order to win a mandate for his plan.

Related story:  Boris Johnson: Britain’s New PM Was Born in New York City and Was a U.S. Citizen for Decades—Until the IRS Caught up With Him

P.R. roils

From:  Puerto Rico judge issues search warrants in case of leaked chats that sparked protests

A Puerto Rico judge has issued search warrants for the cellphones of government officials tied to an online chat that has sparked a political crisis in the U.S. territory.

Territorial Justice Department spokesman Kelvin Carrasco told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the warrants were approved overnight and were issued for those who have not yet turned over their phones. He did not name the officials and declined further comment because the investigation is ongoing.

The warrants follow massive protests demanding the ouster of Gov. Ricardo Rosselló, who participated in an offensive, obscenity-laden online chat between him and his advisers that was leaked and triggered the crisis. The group also insulted women and mocked constituents, including victims of Hurricane Maria.

FBI warns

From:  FBI Director Wray: Russia intent on interfering with U.S. vote

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Russia is determined to interfere in U.S. elections, despite sanctions and other efforts to deter Moscow, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday.

“The Russians are absolutely intent on trying to interfere with our elections,” through a foreign influence campaign, Wray said during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

From:  Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report

Two operatives reporting to President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani established a back channel between him and Ukrainian officials, according to a BuzzFeed News report.

Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman met with top figures in Ukraine and set up meetings for Giuliani in an attempt to gather information to use in the 2020 presidential election, according to the publication.

House moves

From:  House Oversight schedules Thursday vote to hold Kellyanne Conway in contempt

The House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday officially scheduled a vote for later in the week to hold White House counselor Kellyanne Conway in contempt of Congress after she failed to comply with a subpoena to testify about her repeated Hatch Act violations.

Crops bake

From:  ‘It never stops’: US farmers now face extreme heat after floods and trade war

Nationwide, farmers are expected to harvest the smallest corn crop in four years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA in June lowered soybean and corn production estimates, and after widespread planting delays this spring, will release a report in August with updated plantings figures for corn and soybeans.

The extreme weather also heaps more pain on an industry that has suffered from years of low crop prices, and the U.S.-China trade war that slowed down agricultural exports. In May, tariff from China on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods targeted a wide range of agricultural products.

[…]

A study published Tuesday in Environmental Research Communications found that the frequency of extreme heat in the U.S. is projected to increase significantly, even if greenhouse gases are kept below standard levels.

Trump angers the world

From:  Fury in India as Trump claims Modi asked for Kashmir mediation

India’s foreign minister issued a strenuous denial to an infuriated opposition in parliament on Tuesday, after US President Donald Trump said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited him to mediate in the bloody conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir.

While Pakistan has often sought third-party mediation in the decades-old dispute which has cost tens of thousands of lives, the idea is anathema to India, which has always insisted the issue can only be resolved bilaterally.

Trump set off a political storm in India by claiming during a meeting in Washington on Monday with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan that Modi had asked him two weeks ago to mediate in the Kashmir dispute.

From:  Afghan government seeks clarification of Trump’s remarks on ‘wiping out Afghanistan’

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghanistan’s government called on Tuesday for clarification of U.S. President Donald Trump’s remarks that he could win the Afghan war in just 10 days by “wiping out Afghanistan from the face of the earth”, the presidential palace in Kabul said.

From:  Trump threatens Guatemala with penalties over migration

President Trump on Tuesday threatened Guatemala with tariffs, remittance fees and other penalties one day after the two countries issued a joint statement touting “important progress” on addressing migration.

The president’s ire toward the Northern Triangle nation came as he claimed it “decided to break the deal they had with us on signing a necessary Safe Third Agreement.”

From:  State Department yanks crime data on U.S. tourists harmed in Jamaica

At a time when tourism fears have escalated in the Caribbean, the State Department has stopped publishing crime data involving Americans harmed in Jamaica — but it won’t say why.

From:  Trump administration to expand quick deportations anywhere in US

Under current policy, immigration officials can apply expedited removals to speed deportations of people apprehended within 100 miles of the border and for those who’ve been in the country up to two weeks. Those who arrived in the U.S. by sea, rather than at U.S. land borders, can be subject to expedited removal for up to two years.

Under the new policy, officials will be empowered to use the fast-track procedures anywhere in the U.S. and for anyone who cannot show “to the satisfaction of an immigration officer, that they have been physically present in the United States continuously for the two-year period immediately preceding” arrest, regardless of how they arrived, according to the notice published Monday.

[…]

The new deportation policy is the second major effort by the administration this month to aggressively expand its power to try to keep migrants out of the U.S. or remove them if they enter. Last week, the administration moved to curb asylum in the U.S. That rule effectively eliminated almost all asylum claims at the U.S. southern land border by rendering ineligible any asylum-seeker who’d transited at least one other country prior to arriving.

From:  Trump administration pursues rule that would remove 3.1 million people from food stamps

CHICAGO (Reuters) – The Trump administration on Tuesday will propose a rule to tighten food stamp restrictions that would cut about 3.1 million people from the program, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials said.

Currently, 43 U.S. states allow residents to automatically become eligible for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, if they receive benefits from another federal program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, according to the USDA.

13 thoughts on “Turbulent Tuesday: Boris wins, P.R. roils, FBI warns, House moves, crops bake, and Trump angers the world

  1. Never a dull moment, I guess. It gives me little pleasure, or even reassurance, to observe that the UK is not the only nation embarked on a nasty, inward looking, old fashioned authoritarianism. While I will spend much of tomorrow (Wednesday 24th) watching England play Ireland at cricket, I will be interested to hear what Bob Mueller has to say; even more interested in the tack taken by the Democrats in questioning him.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is definitely not a good time to be a farmer. As Alex Jones, climate division director at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, warns: “The one key message is this is the new normal — and it’s only going to get worse.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Indeed, I recently informed a commenter that the agricultural problem is in reality quite bad and will only get worse with time. I suppose most people can’t yet grasp the severity of climate-induced food shortages while their grocery store shelves remain well stocked; but, this situation will change dramatically in the years ahead.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Borris is actually quite moderate on all subjects, excluding Brexit, which I think he originally only championed because (believing it would fail) would do wonders for his public imagine (A true Brit!) as he manoeuvred for PMship. It’s hard to even call the Tories right-wing these days, certainly not by current US standards. They swing like a pendulum.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate the nuance of your point, and it’s true that Boris’s political career has been more opportunistic and pragmatic than ardently ideological. But, I think the “moderate” label is a stretch. Boris has always been philosophically libertarian, elitist, and nationalistic even though he rhetorically rejects such characterizations. Any politician who embraces the anti-government sentiment of libertarianism can’t be moderate in my view, and many Brits would agree. I suspect that had Boris stayed in the U.S., he would be a Trump ally right now.

      Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a very sad state of affairs to know that this “deadline” will come and go (and the results thereof) without any changes being made on the part of those who are in control.

      It’s “unfortunate” that MONEY is more important than the lives of the people who live on this planet.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Egads! From the article:

      Do you remember the good old days when we had “12 years to save the planet”?

      Now it seems, there’s a growing consensus that the next 18 months will be critical in dealing with the global heating crisis, among other environmental challenges.

      Last year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that to keep the rise in global temperatures below 1.5C this century, emissions of carbon dioxide would have to be cut by 45% by 2030.

      But today, observers recognise that the decisive, political steps to enable the cuts in carbon to take place will have to happen before the end of next year.

      The idea that 2020 is a firm deadline was eloquently addressed by one of the world’s top climate scientists, speaking back in 2017.

      Liked by 1 person

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