By Robert A. Vella

There is a lot of news to cover today, so we’ll get right to it.


From:  Giuliani associate asks court to release material for impeachment inquiry

An attorney representing Rudy Giuliani’s indicted associate, Lev Parnas, asked that materials seized during his client’s arrest be released to the House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Joseph Bondy, the lawyer for Parnas, asked a federal court in Manhattan on Monday for an update on discovery in his client’s case, specifically referring to additional electronic devices that were seized in court-authorized searches following Parnas’ arrest at the Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. in October.

Federal prosecutors described the material seized from Parnas and his three co-defendants to be “voluminous” including at least 29 electronic devices.

From:  Ukraine Knew of Aid Freeze in July, Says Ex-Top Official in Kyiv

KYIV, Ukraine — As deputy foreign minister, it was Olena Zerkal’s job to read incoming diplomatic cables from embassies around the world. One from Washington caught her eye back in July, she recalled: It said the Trump administration had frozen military aid for Ukraine.

“We had this information,” Ms. Zerkal said in an interview. “It was definitely mentioned there were some issues.”

The timing of when Ukraine knew of the hold on the military aid is a critical question in the impeachment hearings in Congress. Democrats are trying to build a case that President Trump pressured President Volodymyr Zelensky by withholding the aid and a White House meeting — at the same time he was pressing for a public announcement that Ukraine would investigate his political rivals.

From:  Senate panel cleared Ukraine of election interference

With the impeachment inquiry charging forward, President Donald Trump’s allies have defended his demand for political investigations from Ukraine by claiming that the government in Kyiv tried to sabotage his candidacy and boost Hillary Clinton in 2016.


But the Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee thoroughly investigated that theory, according to people with direct knowledge of the inquiry, and found no evidence that Ukraine waged a top-down interference campaign akin to the Kremlin’s efforts to help Trump win in 2016.

Court rulings

From:  Appeals court refuses to block House subpoena for Trump’s financial records

NEW YORK — A federal appeals court has sided with House Democrats seeking to obtain President Trump’s private financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One, stating that “the public interest favors denial of a preliminary injunction.”

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit came in the ongoing legal battle Trump has waged over access to his private business records — including two cases that have already reached the Supreme Court.

The New York-based appeals court upheld Congress’s broad investigative authority and ordered the two banks to comply with the House subpoenas for the president’s financial information. The case pre-dates the public impeachment proceedings in the House.

From:  Judge denies DOJ request for stay on Don McGahn testimony

U.S. District Court Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, in a 17-page opinion, rejected the Justice Department’s request to put a long-term stay on her earlier opinion requiring Don McGahn, the former Trump White House counsel, to appear before the House Judiciary Committee.

Jackson also decided to lift an earlier administrative stay she’d issued that had put her decision briefly on ice while the case moved up to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

“This Court has no doubt that further delay of the Judiciary Committee’s enforcement of its valid subpoena causes grave harm to both the Committee’s investigation and the interests of the public more broadly,” Jackson wrote.

From:  U.S. appeals court denies Trump administration request to resume federal executions

WASHINGTON, Dec 2 (Reuters) – A U.S. appeals court on Monday dealt another setback to plans by President Donald Trump’s administration to resume the death penalty at the federal level after a 16-year hiatus, denying a Justice Department bid to pave the way for four scheduled executions.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied the department’s request to overturn a judge’s decision that at least temporarily stalled plans for executing four convicted murderers. The first was scheduled to die on Dec. 9.

U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan last month issued a stay putting on hold the planned executions until a long-running legal challenge to the department’s lethal injection protocol can be resolved. The appeals court found that the administration had “not satisfied the stringent requirements” to block Chutkan’s ruling.

From:  New congressional maps in North Carolina will stand for 2020, court rules

WASHINGTON — The new congressional maps passed by North Carolina state lawmakers last month can stand for the 2020 election, a three-judge panel ruled Monday.

The previous maps gave Republicans a 10-3 advantage in the U.S. House of Representatives. Under the new maps, Democrats are expected to pick up two seats, cutting it down to an 8-5 Republican edge.

Democrats, however, had said the new maps still weren’t fair and needed to be redrawn again. But the judges hearing the case — two Democrats and one Republican — unanimously disagreed.

Mueller investigation

Highlights from the newly released FBI Mueller investigation notes

Appeals court refuses to revive Carter Page lawsuit

‘I’m done being quiet’: Ex-FBI lawyer Lisa Page slams Trump’s ‘sickening’ attacks in first interview

More news

From:  State lawmakers acknowledge lobbyists helped craft their op-eds attacking Medicare-for-all

Montana state Rep. Kathy Kelker (D) and Sen. Jen Gross (D) acknowledged in interviews that editorials they published separately about the single-payer health proposal included language provided by John MacDonald, a lobbyist and consultant in the state who disclosed in private emails that he worked for an unnamed client.

Gross said MacDonald contacted her on behalf of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a multimillion-dollar industry group founded in 2018 and funded by hospitals, private insurers, drug companies and other private health-care firms.

Additionally, an aide to Ohio state Sen. Steve Huffman (R) confirmed in a brief interview that the lawmaker’s op-ed criticizing Medicare-for-all was written with the help of Kathleen DeLand, an Ohio-based lobbyist.

From:  Almost half of Americans work in low-wage jobs

America’s unemployment rate is at a half-century low, but it also has a job-quality problem that affects nearly half the population, with a study finding 44% of U.S. workers are employed in low-wage jobs that pay median annual wages of $18,000.

Contrary to popular opinion, these workers aren’t teenagers or young adults just starting their careers, write Martha Ross and Nicole Bateman of the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, which conducted the analysis.

Most of the 53 million Americans working in low-wage jobs are adults in their prime working years, or between about 25 to 54, they noted. Their median hourly wage is $10.22 per hour — that’s above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour but well below what’s considered the living wage for many regions.

From:  Smart TV you just bought may be spying on you, FBI warns

Those Black Friday and Cyber Monday super sales are not only a boon for your bank account, but may also reap serious rewards for cyber criminals intent on causing harm, according to the FBI.

In a pre-holiday message to consumers, an FBI field office is warning that “smart TVs” — televisions equipped with internet streaming and facial recognition capabilities — may be vulnerable to intrusion.

In addition to outlining how new advanced technological features risk allowing television manufacturers and app developers to snoop on consumers, the bureau says malicious cyber actors can also take control of unsecured smart TVs and potentially wreak havoc on unsuspecting owners.

From:  Putin approves law targeting journalists as ‘foreign agents’

Vladimir Putin has signed a law that will allow Russia to declare journalists and bloggers as “foreign agents” in a move critics say will allow the Kremlin to target government critics.

The vaguely worded law would apply to Russians and foreigners who work with media declared foreign agents or distribute their content and receive money from abroad, potentially exposing journalists, their sources, or even those who share material on social networks to foreign agent status.

The move has been described by journalists and human rights activists as a scare tactic to further stem criticism of Putin’s government.

From:  Cracks in the Greenland ice sheet are producing massive waterfalls, raising scientists’ concerns for sea level rise

A cerulean lake consisting of glacial meltwater on the surface of the Greenland ice sheet, located about 18 miles from where the Store Glacier meets the sea in west Greenland, briefly became one of the world’s tallest waterfalls during the course of five hours in July 2018.

The waterfall, like many others on the ice sheet’s surface, was triggered by cracks in the ice sheet. In the case of this one meltwater lake that scientists closely observed in July 2018, the water cascaded more than 3,200 feet to the underbelly of the glacier, where the ice meets bedrock. There, the water can help lubricate the base of the ice sheet, helping the ice move faster toward the sea.

The observations of scientists, armed with aerial drones and other high-tech equipment, of the partial lake drainage that resulted could help researchers better understand how surface melting of the ice sheet could affect its melt rate, and improve global sea level rise projections.

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