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By Robert A. Vella

Topics for this Tuesday include congressional testimony in the impeachment inquiry by former NSC advisor Fiona Hill, updates on Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria targeting the Kurds, several disturbing stories of right-wing extremism under the leadership of President Trump, a report on the geographical areas of the U.S. hit hardest by Trump’s trade war against China, the arrest of a white policeman in Texas who shot through a window and killed a black woman in her own home for no apparent reason, plus other news.

Impeachment

From:  Former Russia Adviser Testifies She Was Alarmed About Ukraine Pressure

Fiona Hill, who served on the National Security Council and left the administration in August, testified for about nine hours before three House panels as part of the impeachment inquiry examining the president, his administration and his allies’ dealings with Ukraine, including a July call in which he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Mr. Biden and other matters.

In her testimony, she detailed a July 10 meeting she attended with senior Ukrainian officials, then-National Security Adviser John Bolton, and other U.S. officials in which the U.S. ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, raised the issue of the investigations, the people said.

[…]

Ms. Hill described to lawmakers efforts by Mr. Giuliani, which circumvented typical government procedures for foreign policy, to press Ukraine to mount investigations into the Bidens, as well as possible 2016 election interference, the people said. Mr. Giuliani has said he worked in conjunction with the State Department.

Related stories:

White House tried to limit what former Russia aide Fiona Hill could say to Congress, letters show

Bolton Objected to Ukraine Pressure Campaign, Calling Giuliani ‘a Hand Grenade’

Exclusive: Trump lawyer Giuliani was paid $500,000 to consult on indicted associate’s firm

Syria

From:  U.S. Urges Immediate Cease-Fire in Syria as It Sanctions Turkey

The announcement is an effort to contain the damage from Trump’s decision to stand aside if Turkey entered northern Syria, essentially giving Erdogan a green light to carry out the operation. Erdogan says the offensive is necessary to push back Kurdish militants and resettle refugees, but the rapid advance into Syria has drawn international condemnation and accusations of war crimes.

The penalties would raise steel tariffs on Turkey back to 50%, the level before a reduction in May, and the U.S. would halt negotiations over a $100 billion trade pact, Trump said in a statement. The administration also sanctioned the Turkish ministers of defense, energy and the interior, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

Experts on sanctions say the administration could have imposed restrictions last week if they had wanted to, and that Trump’s talk of future sanctions is more messaging to satisfy frustrated lawmakers who may have a veto-proof majority to pass legislation and force the president’s hand.

Related stories:

Humanitarian crisis unfolds as violence escalates in Syria

Russia patrolling between Turkish and Syrian forces after U.S. troops withdraw

ISIS has been waiting for this very moment as Trump-fueled chaos in Syria helps it regroup

EU countries pledge to suspend arm exports to Turkey over Syria incursion

Allies believe Trump gave ‘green light’ to Turkey despite US denials

Trump: Let ‘Napoleon Bonaparte’ rescue Kurds

Right-wing extremism

From:  Violent Video Was Product of Right-Wing Provocateurs and Trump Allies

WASHINGTON — The creator of a gruesome video that showed a fake President Trump killing journalists and political opponents and that was played at a meeting of a pro-Trump group over the weekend is part of a loose network of right-wing provocateurs with a direct line to the White House.

The unidentified creator of the video operates under the name “The GeekzTeam” and has proclaimed on Twitter to be a “red blooded American with ZERO tolerance for the liberal agenda.” Like many in the online group, the person specializes in creating pro-Trump internet content, often by remixing the president’s image into clips from popular movies and television shows.

Another of the provocateurs, Logan Cook, who often has posted the videos on MemeWorld, his website, participated in a social media summit at the White House in July and took his children to meet the president in the Oval Office, accompanied by Dan Scavino, the White House social media director.

The connections underscore how the president’s escalating war on what he calls the “fake news” media has elevated people from the far-right fringe into allies who defend him with extreme language and images.

Related story:  Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s private meetings with conservative pundits

From:  Census Bureau seeks state data, including citizenship info

The U.S. Census Bureau is asking states for drivers’ license records that typically include citizenship data and has made a new request for information on recipients of government assistance, alarming some civil rights advocates.

The two approaches, documented by The Associated Press, come amid President Donald Trump’s efforts to make citizenship a key aspect of federal information-gathering in the run-up to the 2020 Census, despite this year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that a specific citizenship question can’t be included in the 2020 Census questionnaire.

[…]

In Illinois, Secretary of State Jesse White denied the request.

[…]

Other states are weighing what to do. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles has received the request but hasn’t responded, spokeswoman Beth Frady said.

From:  The Medicaid Experiment in Arkansas: Thousands Lost Coverage, Few Gained Jobs

Mr. Ellis is one of more than 18,000 people who were cut from the Medicaid rolls after Arkansas embarked on a closely watched experiment in June 2018, when it became the only state to fully implement a work requirement for program recipients. The outcome in Arkansas could help shape the future of Medicaid, a state-federal program for low-income and disabled people that covers one in seven adults across the U.S. President Trump and Republicans promote the mandate as a way to rein in safety-net costs and increase employment.

In a blow to the GOP, a federal judge in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in March blocked Arkansas’ Medicaid work requirement, saying federal officials didn’t adequately consider its potential to cause recipients to lose coverage.

The federal government appealed the decision, and oral arguments over the Trump administration’s legal authority to approve Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas and Kentucky took place in appellate court Friday. The same lower-court judge also has ruled against Medicaid work requirements in Kentucky and New Hampshire.

Trade war

From:  These two maps show how the trade war with China is hurting ‘Trump country’

The costs of the trade war with China are being borne most heavily in parts of so-called “Trump country” that are expected to be key battlegrounds in next year’s presidential election.

The Upper Midwest and swing states are hit the hardest, Michael Waugh, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, and the author of one of the new studies, told MarketWatch. “These results suggest that Chinese retaliation is leading to concentrated welfare losses in the U.S.,” he wrote. Waugh describes those states as or “Trump country.”

Policeman arrested

From:  Murder charge follows resignation of Fort Worth officer who shot woman in her home

FORT WORTH, Texas — A Fort Worth police officer was arrested and charged with murder in the shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson on Monday evening, hours after he resigned.

Aaron York Dean, 34, of Arlington, resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department on Monday morning. Early Saturday morning, he shot and killed Jefferson, 28, inside her home while responding to a call from a neighbor about doors at the house being open, police said.

Dean was listed as an inmate in the Tarrant County Jail as of 6:50 p.m. Monday, according to records.

Other news

Daily protests are paralyzing Haiti. Here’s why.

Mozambique votes in tense election after violent campaign

Swiss glaciers shrink 10 percent in five years: study

10 thoughts on “Tuesday Topics: Impeachment, Syria, right-wing extremism, trade war, policeman arrested, other news

  1. RE: your Right-Wing Extremism part Robert,

    Those are the byproducts and derivatives of a past Constitutional democracy—with a supposed, intended, equally balanced and functioning 3-Branched federal government—being BOUGHT by wealthy private-sectored corporations and highly affluent individuals of the same private-sectors wielding their 2010 purchase (and now imbalanced 3-Branch Constitutional democracy for Citizens United in Red) and all subsequent royalties from their legislative and political impacts and partisan interests, i.e. Super PAC’s. Now some 13+ Red states have raised their campaign contribution dollar limits. So…

    Who do you think has benefited from this overhaul and hijacking of a pure Constitutional democracy by 3 equally functioning Branches? What socioeconomic ethnic class and political party has reaped HUGE rewards, even as a declining MINORITY American class!? HAH! Would saying “Told-cha so” by scholarly American Constitutionalists who fully understand democracy, freedom and liberty FOR ALL U.S. citizens be accurate? Would that response fall on deaf ears?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, greed and the influence of big money (i.e. corporatism) always pose a threat to democracy. But, the stories I linked here today under “right-wing extremism” (i.e. utilizing propaganda and coercion to incite violence against perceived enemies, and using the institutions of government for hostile intent) are even more nefarious which I see clearly as fascism. Robert H. Jackson, who was the U.S. chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, said this in an unrelated case years later:

      “Men are more often bribed by their loyalties and ambitions than by money.”

      For more of this perspective, I recommend the highly acclaimed 1961 film Judgement at Nuremberg starring Spencer Tracy, Burt Lancaster, Richard Widmark, Maximilian Schell, and Marlene Dietrich.

      Liked by 1 person

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