By Robert A. Vella
Although the results of Israel’s parliamentary elections haven’t quite been finalized yet, it looks like Benjamin Netanyahu is in trouble. His Likud party is trailing in the vote count (due in part to higher Arab turnout), his right-wing coalition partners are defecting, and he’ll lose immunity from criminal prosecution (on corruption charges already filed) if he is ousted as prime minister. “Bibi” also happens to be one of two major allies remaining for U.S. President Trump in the Middle East (the other is Saudi Arabia), so this election could have significant geopolitical consequences for the region and beyond.
Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski “testified” before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday in heated proceedings which put on public display the blatant obstruction campaign being waged by the White House and which also elicited threats of contempt charges from the chairman.
An impeachment resolution has been filed in the House of Representatives against U.S. Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh after previously unreported sexual misconduct allegations, and details of the FBI’s refusal to investigate other allegations, were published by the news media.
The Trump administration is attacking California for its environmental leadership via today’s announcement revoking the state’s waiver under the 1970 Clean Air Act which had allowed for stronger vehicle emission regulations than the now-denuded federal standard.
In more news, Greta Thunberg is leading a massive Global Climate Strike this Friday protesting against government and business inaction on climate change, President Trump’s maneuvers to undermine the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) have allowed the growth of substandard health insurance policies which are harming American families, violence against abortion clinics and providers is on the rise across the nation, a New York judge was forced to resign for mimicking Trump’s hostile rhetoric against his political opponents, a federal judge has thrown out a ridiculous lawsuit filed by a group of Trump supporters against the city of San Jose, California, Trump has purged another Department of Homeland Security official presumably for not vigorously following his anti-immigration agenda, and finally another Republican congressman has decided not to seek reelection next year.
Bibi in trouble
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – After failing to secure a clear election victory for the second time this year, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must wait days – or more likely weeks – to learn if he can stay in office, or whether he must step aside.
With Israeli media reporting more than 90 percent of votes counted in Tuesday’s election, the bloc led by Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party was almost neck and neck with the centrist grouping led by his chief rival, the former general Benny Gantz.
Netanyahu’s bloc looked poised to control 55 of parliament’s 120 seats, with 56 going to Gantz’s Blue and White Party, and his natural partners. Both fall short of a majority government of 61 lawmakers.
JERUSALEM — Israel’s election was still too close to call Wednesday afternoon, with neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor his chief rival, the former army chief Benny Gantz, a centrist, immediately commanding enough support to form a majority coalition, according to partial results and exit polls.
But Mr. Gantz’s Blue and White party appeared to have come out ahead of Mr. Netanyahu’s conservative Likud, giving a small third party the power to decide the outcome. And his avowed desire to force a unity coalition including both their parties made it likely that, if the projections held, Mr. Gantz would be given the first chance of forming a government.
With about 63 percent of the ballots counted, Blue and White had 25.8 percent of the vote, slighty ahead of Likud, with 25.1 percent. The murky outcome itself was a humiliating blow to Mr. Netanyahu, 69, the nation’s longest-serving prime minister, who forced the do-over election when he failed to assemble a coalition in May, rather than let Mr. Gantz have a try.
Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski battled with Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday over his refusal to answer questions about his conversations with President Donald Trump, saying he was only able to speak about what was in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.
Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., dismissed the White House claim that the conversations between the two were covered by executive privilege, noting Lewandowski had never worked in the executive branch.
After more than five hours of combative questioning, Nadler threatened him with contempt.
As the hearing got underway, Nadler also rejected the White House argument made Monday blocking two former senior aides to the president from testifying before the committee at all — former White House staff secretary Rob Porter and former deputy chief of staff Rick Dearborn — claiming they had “absolute immunity.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) told CNN on Tuesday that “it’s deeply disturbing” for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh to have “this many allegations” against him, explaining she had filed an impeachment resolution against him in order to “get to the truth.”
Trump attacks California
The formal abolishment of one of California’s signature environmental policies — tailpipe pollution is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States — will be announced Wednesday afternoon at the Washington headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency, according to two people familiar with the matter. Mr. Trump at the time will be traveling in California, where he is scheduled to attend fund-raisers in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley.
Lawyers said the action takes the administration into uncharted legal territory in its battle with the state, which has vowed to fight the change all the way to the Supreme Court.
“This is unprecedented and a tremendously big deal,” said Richard L. Revesz, a professor of environmental law at New York University, noting that no administration has ever revoked a state’s authority to regulate its own air quality in the past.
Young people from around the world are leading a massive coordinated strike from school on Friday, September 20, to protest government and business inaction on climate change. It is likely to be one of the largest environmental protests in history.
The Global Climate Strike comes just before countries will gather at the United Nations for the Climate Action Summit on September 23. It’s a meeting ahead of the UN General Assembly where countries are supposed to ramp up their ambitions to curb greenhouse gases under the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
The Diazes’ plan was nothing like the ones consumers have come to expect under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which bars insurers from capping coverage, canceling it retroactively, or turning away people with preexisting conditions. But the law includes an exemption for short-term plans that serve as a stopgap for people between jobs. The Trump administration, thwarted in its attempts to overturn the ACA, has widened that loophole by stretching the definition of “short-term” from three months to a year, with the option of renewing for as long as three years.
Fewer than 100,000 people had such plans at the end of last year, according to state insurance regulators, but the Trump administration says that number will jump by 600,000 in 2019 as a result of the changes. Some brokers are taking advantage, selling plans so skimpy that they offer no meaningful coverage. And Health Insurance Innovations is at the center of the market. In interviews, lawsuits, and complaints to regulators, dozens of its customers say they were tricked into buying plans they didn’t realize were substandard until they were stuck with surprise bills.
The National Abortion Federation has been tracking violence against abortion providers and clinics since 1977.
In 2017, violent acts against abortion providers more than doubled from the year prior, according to data compiled by NAF. The group recorded 1,081 violent acts, the most since the group began tracking these incidents.
Last year, the group recorded another new record high: 1,369 reported violent acts, including 15 instances of assault and battery, 13 burglaries, 14 counts of stalking and over a thousand episodes of illegal trespassing.
A judge in upstate New York was forced to resign after posting an image of a noose on his Facebook page with a caption claiming people must be punished in order to “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN,” officials said Tuesday.
Kyle R. Canning, 29, who served as a justice for the Altona Town Court about 175 miles north of Albany, submitted his resignation in June after the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct charged him about a month earlier with “conveying racial and/or political bias” on Facebook.
“IF WE WANT TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN WE WILL HAVE TO MAKE EVIL PEOPLE FEAR PUNISHMENT AGAIN,” the post in question stated, echoing President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan.
(Bloomberg) — Donald Trump fans who accuse police of not protecting them at a 2016 presidential campaign rally that turned violent failed to convince a judge that they should be able to sue on behalf of thousands who attended the event.
The 20 rally-goers brought civil rights claims against San Jose, California, and a handful of police officers saying that everyone at the event was put in danger and should be part of the lawsuit. On Tuesday, a federal judge rejected the request.