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By Robert A. Vella

We kickoff this week with an official report on the risks to U.S. military facilities posed by President Trump’s diversion of Defense Department funding to build his border wall project, a New York Times story on how the FBI deliberately refused to investigate numerous sexual misconduct allegations against Brett Kavanaugh during his Senate confirmation hearings for the U.S. Supreme Court, a bankruptcy filing by the Sackler family owners of Purdue Pharma to limit their financial liability in the opioid crisis, a strike by General Motors (GM) union workers marking a resurgence of labor activism in this neoliberal era of rising economic inequality, the first round of presidential elections in Tunisia which indicate more anti-establishment sentiment in democratic countries, and an attack on Saudi oil facilities by Houthi rebels in Yemen that the Trump administration is exploiting in its geopolitical war against Iran.

The Wall

From:  Trump’s Wall Fund Diversion Risks Military Facilities’ Security, Report Suggests

President Donald Trump’s decision to raid military construction projects to pay for a wall along the southern border will leave a base that houses tactical nuclear weapons roughly 100 miles from Syria “vulnerable to hostile penetration,” according to a report issued by the Air Force on Friday.

Incirlik Air Base in Turkey reportedly houses dozens of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons as well as hundreds of American troops who continue to face threatening rhetoric from that country’s leader and potential terrorist attacks from groups operating nearby.

But among the projects Trump decided to raid was the repair of a broken gate at the crucial base.

The example is among dozens referenced in a previously undisclosed report compiled by the U.S. Air Force and obtained by NBC News documenting the security threats to U.S. military installations at home and abroad due to Trump’s decision earlier this month.

The Scam

From:  New reporting details how FBI limited investigation of Kavanaugh allegations [clarification by The Secular Jurist]

WASHINGTON — As Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh prepares for his second year on the Supreme Court, new reporting has detailed how the limits ordered by the White House and Senate Republicans last year constrained the FBI investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct when he was a college freshman.

[…]

[FBI Director Christopher] Wray has declined requests by this reporter to be interviewed about the bureau’s performance. Kavanaugh also declined to be interviewed.

[…]

The Judiciary Committee’s Republican majority gave the FBI a week and said agents could interview four people. The list was later expanded to 10 people at the insistence of the swing-vote senators.

Lawyers for Ford and Ramirez, however, sent letters to Wray that, together, named more than 50 individuals that the bureau’s agents should interview. Only nine were ever contacted — all of them from the list that the Republicans had submitted.

Related story:  Calls for Justice Kavanaugh’s impeachment are mounting. Here’s how it could work.

The Ploy

From:  Purdue Pharma, drugmaker accused of fueling the opioid epidemic, files for bankruptcy

Purdue Pharma, the drug manufacturer accused of triggering the nation’s epidemic of opioid addiction through its sale of the profitable but highly addictive painkiller OxyContin, filed for bankruptcy Sunday.

The Chapter 11 filing is expected to lead to the ultimate demise of a company that sold a fraction of the opioid prescriptions in the United States but nonetheless is most closely identified with the epidemic because of its pioneering role in the sale of narcotic pain pills. The company used aggressive, allegedly misleading, sales tactics to push physicians to prescribe millions of doses of its dangerously addictive pills.

The company’s move to seek financial shelter, part of a tentative settlement with thousands of litigants, will shift the focus to new wrangling over how potential proceeds will be divvied up by communities reeling under the burden of addiction and overdose deaths.

The bankruptcy also will raise the stakes on legal sparring over how much of the personal fortunes of the billionaire Sackler family, which owns Purdue, will be available to compensate plaintiffs. Multiple states that have rejected the proposed settlement have accused the family of improperly stripping billions of dollars out of the company’s coffers in the past decade to protect the cash from expected court judgments.

The Strike

From:  GM workers will go on strike, the latest stoppage in a global trend of large-scale labor action

At least 46,000 hourly General Motors employees will take to the picket line at midnight Monday, according to representatives from their union, United Auto Workers (UAW), as a result of stagnating contract negotiations with the Detroit-based automaker. This will be UAW’s first nationwide strike in 12 years.

Representatives for GM and UAW have been meeting for contract negotiations since July in order to hammer out details on wages, healthcare, benefits, profit sharing, and job security for both permanent and temporary workers. The union was also pushing for GM to reconsider the proposed closures of four facilities. Throughout, leaders on both sides expressed hope that they would reach an agreement, according to the Detroit News.

[…]

Tonight’s UAW strike is the latest in a recent series of worker walkouts across the globe. It comes just days after British Airway cancelled all flights for two days as its pilots went on strike.

But as Vox’s Alexia Fernández Campbell has reported, the recent uptick in strikes are a small part of a significant increase in American labor action as a whole. American workers are participating in organized action in record numbers, Fernández Campbell writes, as a result of mounting anger about income inequality:

The Election

From:  Outsider leads after divisive Tunisia presidential poll

Political outsider Kais Saied was leading Tunisia’s election with just over a quarter of votes counted, the election commission said Monday, in the country’s second free presidential vote since the Arab Spring.

[…]

The initial signs point towards a major upset for Tunisia’s political establishment, in place since the 2011 uprising that ousted dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

It could also usher in a period of immense uncertainty for the fledgling north African democracy, the sole success story of the Arab Spring revolts.

Tunisia’s electoral commission (ISIE) reported low turnout at 45 percent, down from 64 percent in the country’s first democratic polls in 2014.

The Attack

From:  Houthi rebels threaten more attacks on Saudi facilities

Yemen’s Houthi rebels are threatening additional attacks on Saudi oil facilities after claiming responsibility for drone strikes that disrupted Saudi Arabia’s crude oil output, the group’s al-Masirah TV reported Monday.

[…]

Oil prices surged worldwide following the attack.

The Houthis have been locked in a long-lasting war with a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen since claiming the country’s capital in 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeohas accused Iran of being behind the attacks. Tehran has denied the allegations.

8 thoughts on “Monday Kickoff: The Wall, the Scam, the Ploy, the Strike, the Election, and the Attack

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