• FBI Docs Reveal: "Flynn Was Not Lying Or Did Not Think He Was Lying"
    Authored by Sara Carter via SaraCarter.com, The Special Counsel’s Office released key documents related to former National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn Friday. Robert Mueller’s office had until 3 p.m. to get the documents to Judge Emmet Sullivan, who demanded information Wednesday after bombshell information surfaced in a memorandum submitted by Flynn’s attorney’s that led to serious concerns regarding the FBI’s initial questioning of the retired three-star general. The highly redacted documents included notes from former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe regarding his conversation with Flynn about arranging the interview with the FBI. The initial interview took place at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017. The documents also include the FBI’s  “302” report regarding Flynn’s interview with anti-Trump former FBI Agent Peter Strzok and FBI Agent Joe Pientka when they met with him at the White House. It is not, however, the 302 document from the actual January, 2017 interview but an August, 2017 report of Strzok’s recollections of the interview. Flynn’s attorney’s had noted in their memorandum to the courts that the documents revealed that FBI officials made the decision not to provide Flynn with his Miranda Rights, which would’ve have warned him of penalties for making false statements. “The agents did not provide Gen. Flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement under 18 U.S.C. 1001 before, during, or after the interview,” the Flynn memo says. According to the 302, before the interview, McCabe and other FBI officials “decided the agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed, and they were concerned that giving the warnings might adversely affect the rapport.” McCabe, who has since been fired for lying to the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General about leaking information to the media, also asked Flynn not to have his lawyer present during the initial meeting with the FBI agents. The July 2017 report, however, was the interview with Strzok. It described his interview with Flynn but was not the original Flynn interview. Apparent discrepancies within the 302 documents are being questioned by may former senior FBI officials, who state that there are stringent policies in place to ensure that the documents are guarded against tampering. On Thursday, FBI Supervisory Agent Jeff Danik told SaraACarter.com that Sullivan must also request all the communications between the two agents, as well as their supervisors around the August 2017 time-frame in order to get a complete and accurate picture of what transpired. Danik, who is an expert in FBI policy, says it is imperative that Sullivan also request “the workflow chart, which would show one-hundred percent, when the 302s were created when they were sent to a supervisor and who approved them.” He stressed, “the bureau policy – the absolute FBI policy – is that the notes must be placed in the system in a 1-A file within five days of the interview.” Danik said that the handwritten notes get placed into the FBI Sentinel System, which is the FBI’s main record keeping system. “Anything beyond five business days is a problem, eight months is a disaster,” he added. In the redacted 302 report Strzok and Pientka said they “both had the impression at the time that Flynn was not lying or did not think he was lying.” Information that Flynn was not lying was first published and reported by SaraACarter.com. Flynn was found guilty by Mueller on one count of lying to the FBI. Supporters of Flynn have questioned Mueller’s tactics in getting the retired three-star general to plead guilty to this one count of lying. In the report, the two agents describe Flynn as being very open and noted said Flynn “clearly saw the FBI agents as allies.” Flynn is described as discussing a variety of  “subjects.”  The report includes his openness regarding Trump’s “knack for interior design,” the hotels he stayed at during his campaign, as well as other issues. “Flynn was so talkative, and had so much time for them, that Strzok wondered if the national security adviser did not have more important things to do than have a such a relaxed, non-pertinent discussion with them,” it said. The documents turned over by Mueller also reveal that other FBI personnel “later argued about the FBI’s decision to interview Flynn.”
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  • Mueller Scrubbed Messages From Peter Strzok's iPhone; OIG Recovers 19,000 New "FBI Lovebird" Texts
    The Justice Department's internal watchdog revealed on Thursday that special counsel Robert Mueller's office scrubbed all of the data from FBI agent Peter Strzok's iPhone, while his FBI mistress Lisa Page's phone had been scrubbed by a different department, according to a comprehensive report by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released on Thursday.  After Strzok was kicked off the special counsel investigation following the discovery of anti-Trump text messages between he and Page, his Mueller's Records Officer scrubbed Strzok's iPhone after determining "it contained no substantive text messages," reports the Conservative Review's Jordan Schachtel.  So Mueller's team wiped ALL of the data off of Peter Strzok's iPhone after determining "it contained no substantive text messages." Given what we know about Strzok, this smells like quite the coverup. Time for Congress to step in?https://t.co/mOgpBbDVO4 pic.twitter.com/9w2mEPK64C — Jordan Schachtel (@JordanSchachtel) December 13, 2018 Mueller's team was unable to locate Page's iPhone, however the DOJ's Justice Management Division (JMD) similarly scrubbed her phone - resetting it to factory settings.  I'm sure you're all super shocked to find out that Lisa Page's phone was also scrubbed pic.twitter.com/NWV9GQbBTc — Jordan Schachtel (@JordanSchachtel) December 13, 2018 * Strzok texts he'll "stop Trump" * Strzok texts that NYT is upset about WaPo scoop. * Strzok texts Page re "insurance policy" * Mueller then smashes their phones with a virtual hammer. Go on how you're concerned about corruption, obstruction of justice, and collusion. https://t.co/6267rsEahS — Razor (@hale_razor) December 13, 2018 Meanwhile, the OIG recovered approximately newly found 19,000 Strzok-Page texts from their Galaxy S5 phones. The messages span a "gap" in text messages between December 15, 2016 and May 17, 2017.  OIG digital forensic examiners used forensic tools to recover thousands of text messages from these devices, including many outside the period of collection tool failure (December 15, 20 I 6 to May 17, 2017) and many that Strzok and Page had with persons other than each other. Approximately 9,311 text messages that were sent or received during the period of collection tool failure were recovered from Strzok's S5 phone, of which approximately 8,358 were sent to or received from Page. Approximately 10,760 text messages that were sent or received during the period of collection tool failure were recovered from Page's S5 phone, of which approximately 9,717 were sent to or received from Strzok. Thus, many of the text messages recovered from Strzok's S5 were also recovered from Page's S5. However, some of the Strzok-Page text messages were only recovered from Strzok's phone while others were only recovered from Page's phone. -OIG Report  Wow, 19,000 Texts between Lisa Page and her lover, Peter S of the FBI, in charge of the Russia Hoax, were just reported as being wiped clean and gone. Such a big story that will never be covered by the Fake News. Witch Hunt! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 15, 2018 Thousands of text messages between Strzok and Page were recovered by the OIG, many indicating that both agents in charge of investigating Donald Trump absolutely hate him.  In August 2016, Strzok and Page discussed an "insurance policy" in the event that Trump won the election which many believe to be in reference to operation Crossfire Hurricane - the DOJ's counterintelligence investigation into Trump and his campaign.  "I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy's office - that there's no way he [Trump] gets elected - but I'm afraid we can't take that risk." wrote Strzok, adding "It's like a life insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40."  In the home stretch of the 2016 US election, Strzok is fuming at Trump - texting Page: " I am riled up. Trump is a f*cking idiot, is unable to provide a coherent answer." He then texts "I CAN'T PULL AWAY, WHAT THE F*CK HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY (redacted)??!?!," to which Page replies "I don't know. But we'll get it back." Strzok/Page texts 10/20/16 PS - I am riled up. Trump is a f*cking idiot, is unable to provide a coherent answer. PS - I CAN'T PULL AWAY, WHAT THE F*CK HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY (redacted)??!?! LP - I don't know. But we'll get it back. ... — Shannon Bream (@ShannonBream) December 13, 2017 Strzok/Page texts LP – And maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace. (links to NYT article) PS – ... I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps — Shannon Bream (@ShannonBream) December 13, 2017 More than two years later, the anti-Trump FBI agents may not have gotten their country back - but the special counsel's office continues to cast a shadow of doubt Trump's legitimacy.
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  • New Jersey becomes first state to ban use of wild, exotic animals in circuses
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  • Patreon tolerates calls for violence from leftists
    (Breitbart) Patreon, a website which allows users to submit donations to independent creators and projects on a monthly or one-time basis, has attracted a reputation for banning right-wingers from the platform for dubious reasons. Meanwhile, it tolerates open calls for political violence from the extremist left. Research by Far Left Watch, which monitors left-wing extremism, found numerous examples of pro-violence left wing groups and individuals that have active Patreon accounts. Because Patreon takes a cut from donations processed via the platform, the crowdfunding site directly profits from these pro-violence accounts. The post Patreon tolerates calls for violence from leftists appeared first on WND.
  • Vimeo shuts down religious group's messages
    Vimeo is described as a web platform that allows users to create accounts for hosting, sharing and streaming videos. Unless the videos are not politically correct. That’s according to Church United, a non-profit in Newport Beach, California, whose Vimeo page was abruptly shut down because some content dealt with the issue of counseling people who want to overcome same-sex inclinations. “Conversion therapy” has been banned in California, 13 other states and the District of Columbia. California came close recently to classifying it as consumer fraud. Church United said in a Facebook post that its founder, Jim Domen, received an email from Vimeo stating his organization had only 24 hours to download its videos, because the account was being closed permanently. “Out of the 89 uploaded videos, the problem (according to Vimeo) was with five videos that spoke of SOCE (Sexual Orientation Change Efforts), with a primary focus on Assembly Bill (AB) 2943,” Church United said. The reference was to the California bill, ultimately dropped, that would have made such counseling consumer fraud. “Under Vimeo’s community guidelines, videos that support such efforts are in violation of the ‘Community Agreement’ and subject to termination. In direct communication with Domen, Vimeo stated, ‘Your account has been removed by the Vimeo Staff for violating our Guidelines. Reason: Vimeo does not allow videos that harass, incite hatred, or include discriminatory or defamatory speech,'” Church United said. “However, none of Church United’s videos do what Vimeo Staff claimed. They only happen to share a different opinion on such matters.” The report explained the videos shared personal stories of transformation and content regarding the California bill. The legislation would have “banned any person, non-profit, or business from receiving funds for unwanted same-sex attraction therapy, books, materials, and/or counseling,” Church United said. The non-profit said it is researching its options. Vimeo did not respond to an email request from WND for comment. The non-profit legal group Liberty Counsel is battling laws and ordinances in court that ban or restrict conversion therapy. “These counselors provide life-saving counsel to minors who desperately desire to conform their attractions, behaviors, and gender confusion to their sincerely held religious beliefs,” Liberty Counsel said. “The sacred trust between counselors and clients establishes a unique relationship that permits the clients to inform the counselors of their goals and receive counseling consistent with those goals.” The restrictions and bans, Liberty Counsel said, are “invading the private space of counselors and clients, forcing the government into the therapeutic alliance, and violating the privacy and fundamental rights of counselors and clients.” The post Vimeo shuts down religious group's messages appeared first on WND.
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  • Hawaii: Gun-carry ban legitimate because it's century old
    Hawaii is arguing before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that its ban on the open carry of firearms is constitutional because it’s been around so long. But Gun Owners of America, GOA has filed a friend-of-the-court brief pointing out that for most of the century and a half of the law’s existence, Hawaii either was a monarchy or a constitutional monarchy. The brief argues Hawaii’s claim to be in a similar situation as New Jersey in a previous case fails, because New Jersey has been a state for 231 years and was a colony before that. The dispute is between George K. Young Jr., who is challenging the state’s latest version of a ban on the public carry of weapons, and the state. A panel at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the state, and officials petitioned for another hearing. Lawyers Herbert Titus, Robert J. Olson, William J. Olson and others with William J. Olson P.C. filed a brief on behalf of Gun Owners of America, the Heller Foundation, Virginia Citizens Defense League, Conservative Legal Defense and Education Fund and others opposing the state’s demand for another hearing. “Hawaii’s petition for rehearing triumphantly declares that ‘Hawaii has regulated the public carry of firearms for over 150 years,’ pointing to various enactments in 1852, 1927, and 1934,” the brief explains. The state argues such restrictions have been widespread and longstanding. “This is quite an assertion. … For most of Hawaii’s history, the island nation had no republican form of government – rather, it was a monarchy, ruled by kings and queens. Even after later transitioning to a constitutional monarchy, the Kingdom of Hawaii Constitution of 1940 did not recognize a right of the people to bear arms.” “The Hawaii stranglehold on arms was easy to accomplish, since native Hawaiians had no experience with firearms prior to the arrival of Europeans in the late 1700s. Indeed, traders and settlers selectively doled out firearms in order to ‘unite Hawaii’s eight main islands into a single kingdom [under] Kamehameha 1.’ “This is hardly a noble pedigree to apply when determining the right of a sovereign people to keep and bear arms as a bulwark against tyranny,” the brief explains. Hawaii became a U.S. territory in 1898 and a state in 1959. “Hawaii’s antiquated firearms regulatory scheme should be rejected out of hand – a relic of history, not unlike the sovereign prerogatives of King George, against which this country’s Second Amendment was designed to protect,” the groups argue. The groups point out the Second Amendment states the right to bear arms “shall not be infringed.” And they note that the U.S. Supreme Court already has affirmed the right of individuals to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment Foundation also has opposed Hawaii’s petition. “The 9th Circuit panel ruling was proper recognition that the right to bear arms extends beyond the confines of someone’s home,” noted SAF founder and Executive Vice President Alan M. Gottlieb. “Clearly, anti-gunners in Hawaii do not want that to stand, so they’ve requested an en banc hearing before a full panel. “This case is one of many in recent years that looks at the carrying of firearms in public for personal protection,” he continued. “It is of great interest to SAF members and supporters all over the country, because the Second Amendment right to bear arms is no less a right than any of the other rights enumerated and protected by the Bill of Rights. After all, nobody would argue that a citizen’s First, Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights stop at the front door of their home.” The Hawaii Firearms Coalition also pointed out that the state’s vast rural land areas create regions that have dangers, yet police response times are measured in hours, not minutes. They said that means the safety of one’s family and friends is up to the individual. The post Hawaii: Gun-carry ban legitimate because it's century old appeared first on WND.
  • California sued for keeping DNA of innocent people
    California is being sued for maintaining the DNA of people who are arrested but never convicted of a crime. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is representing the Center for Genetics and Society and the Equal Justice Society along with one individual, Pete Shanks, in the case. “One-third of people arrested for felonies in California are never convicted,” explained Marcy Darnovsky of the Center for Genetics. “The government has no legitimate interest in retaining DNA samples and profiles from people who have no felony convictions, and it’s unconstitutional for the state to hold on to such sensitive material without any finding of guilt,” she said. California long has collected DNA from people convicted of felonies. In 2009, the state began requiring DNA collection for anyone charged with a felony, including those later determined to be innocent. Giving a DNA sample is not optional. Refusal can be punished by a year in prison, and officers are authorized to use “physical force” to obtain a sample. “The intimate details that can be revealed by a person’s DNA only increases as technology develops, exposing plaintiffs to ever heightening degrees of intrusiveness,” EFF said. “After collection, the DNA is analyzed and uploaded to the nationwide Combined DNA Index System, or ‘CODIS,’ which is shared with law enforcement across the U.S.” One problem is that cases have shown DNA samples can implicate innocent people for crimes, “ranging from crime-lab sample mix-ups and sample contamination by forensic collectors, to subjective misreading of complex mixtures containing genetic material from multiple donors, to selective presentation of the evidence to juries.” Racial profiling is another problem, the critics say. “The failure to promptly expunge profiles of innocent arrestees exploits and reinforces systemic racial and socio-economic biases,” said Lisa Holder of the Equal Justice Society. “We want the court to recognize that California’s DNA collection and retention practices are unfairly putting already vulnerable poor communities and people of color at even greater risk of racial profiling and law enforcement abuse.” While the state allows people who are not convicted to request that their records be expunged, it is a lengthy process with uncertain results. An estimated 750,000 people qualify for that program, but only about 1,300 have been successful with their requests, EFF said. “The indefinite retention of thousands of DNA profiles from people who are acquitted or never charged violates the California Constitution, which affords both a right to privacy and a right against unlawful searches and seizures that are specifically aimed at protecting people from the government’s overbroad retention of personal information,” said EFF. “Our DNA contains our entire genetic makeup – private and intensely personal information that maps who we are and where we come from,” noted EFF lawyer Jamie Lee Williams. “It’s time for the state to start honoring the privacy rights guaranteed to all Californians.” The post California sued for keeping DNA of innocent people appeared first on WND.
  • WATCH: Festival of the Bonfires kicks off in St. James Parish
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  • Grand jury indicts WBR deputy following Investigative Unit reports on alleged sexual misconduct
    WEST BATON ROUGE PARISH - A grand jury has indicted West Baton Rouge sheriff's deputy Ben Arceneaux after a series of reports by the Investigative Unit uncovered a number of sexual misconduct allegations against the officer.On Friday, a grand jury unanimously indicted Arceneaux on malfeasance charges. Prosecutors have asked that a felony warrant for Arceneaux be issued.In a statement released later that same afternoon, Arceneaux's attorney James Manasseh said the deputy plans to resign his position as a sheriff's deputy. When asked if there were plans to fire Arceneaux, the sheriff's office said it would "get back to" us on that.“He is accepting the decision of the grand jury. He is apologetic of his actions and those who had trust in him," the statement from Arceneaux's attorney read. "Ben has been cooperative and hopes to put this behind him.”The allegations against Arceneaux first surfaced earlier this year after the WBRZ Investigative Unit spoke with several of his alleged victims. One of those women claimed Arceneaux demanded oral sex from her during a traffic stop.Station attorneys had to get involved for the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office to release their report about the incidents. That report revealed Arceneaux was disciplined earlier this year after being moved to the jail and that he was unpaid for a period of time.Hours after the indictment, Arceneaux resigned.Following WBRZ's stories, Sheriff Mike Cazes placed Arceneaux on unpaid leave and called in Louisiana State Police to investigate.A grand jury had previously met in November, but jurors sought to reconvene in December so more information on the case could be presented.A trial date has not been announced at this time.Permalink| Comments
  • Grammy Award-winning singer Nancy Wilson dies at 81
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  • California considering text message tax – but iMessages would be exempt
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  • Trump Slams Cohen: "I Never Directed Him To Break The Law"
    One day after President Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison for a variety crimes, Trump took to Twitter to address alleged campaign finance violations Cohen says he engaged in at Trump's direction.  Cohen flipped on Trump after federal agents raided his office and home in April, later making the remarkable claim that Trump directed him to pay off two women who claimed to have had affairs with the president in order to prevent their allegations from influencing the 2016 US election. The payments included $130,000 to porn star Stephanie Clifford (Stormy Daniels), while Cohen also orchestrated a $150,000 payment to a former Playboy playmate through the National Enquirer's parent company, American Media Inc. (AMI).  Trump, who initially denied knowing about the payments but later acknowledged that he had known about them, insisted this week that they were "a simple private transaction," and not related to the election - and therefore would not be subject to campaign finance laws.  On Thursday, Trump took to Twitter to defend himself and lash out at Cohen in a three-part tweetstorm - claiming Cohen had an obligation to know the law, and that his former personal attorney had pleaded guilty in order to embarrass him and receive a reduced sentence. "I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law," Trump said. "He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law. It is called “advice of counsel,” and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid. Despite that many campaign finance lawyers have strongly stated that I did nothing wrong with respect to campaign finance laws, if they even apply, because this was not campaign finance. Cohen was guilty on many charges unrelated to me, but he plead to two campaign charges which were not criminal and of which he probably was not guilty even on a civil bases [sic]. Those charges were just agreed to by him in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did-including the fact that his family was temporarily let off the hook. As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me!" I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law. He was a lawyer and he is supposed to know the law. It is called “advice of counsel,” and a lawyer has great liability if a mistake is made. That is why they get paid. Despite that many campaign finance lawyers have strongly...... — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2018 ....stated that I did nothing wrong with respect to campaign finance laws, if they even apply, because this was not campaign finance. Cohen was guilty on many charges unrelated to me, but he plead to two campaign charges which were not criminal and of which he probably was not... — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2018 ....guilty even on a civil basis. Those charges were just agreed to by him in order to embarrass the president and get a much reduced prison sentence, which he did-including the fact that his family was temporarily let off the hook. As a lawyer, Michael has great liability to me! — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 13, 2018 Hours after Cohen's guilty plea, American Media Inc. admitted responsibility for its role in a $150,000 "catch-and-kill" hush money payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, which Cohen negotiated, to keep the story out of the public sphere "and prevent it from influencing the election."  According to AMI's cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors, Cohen and another campaign official met with AMI Chairman and longtime Trump friend David Pecker about the payment around August 2015.  The company initially said they paid McDougal $150,000 for two years' worth of her fitness columns, magazine covers and exclusive life rights to any relationship she has had with a then-married man, only to walk that back Wednesday afternoon. 
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  • Taxypayers Off the Hook for Sex Harassment Settlements in Congress: Reason Roundup
    Time's up for lawmakers who count on taxpayers to pay for their bad behavior. Members of Congress will have to start covering the costs of sexual harassment and retaliation settlements themselves. An agreement yesterday paved the way for this new policy—the first major change to congressional sexual harassment rules for more than two decades. Right now, harassment and retaliation settlements "are paid through taxpayer-funded accounts members use to pay for office salaries and expenses," explains NPR. Yesterday's agreement worked out differences between House and Senate versions of the update. The Senate version would have capped how much lawmakers themselves had to pay, while the House version would have set no limits. The compromise version does not set limits in sexual harassment lawsuits but does in cases of court-ordered damages (at $300,000). "The deal comes after nearly a yearlong standoff between the House and the Senate over member liability and other issues in the bill," reports NPR. But now "Senate rules committee Chairman Roy Blunt, R-Mo., the chief GOP negotiator in the Senate, says he expects the bill will pass the Senate this week." The legislation also edits other aspects of how harassment and retaliation claims against lawmakers will be handled, with an aim to make the process less complicated and more transparent: The deal provides legal counsel for House staff who file complaints and legal assistance to Senate staff. It would also eliminate a mandatory 30-day "cooling-off period" before someone can file a complaint. All settlements and awards involving members would be made public at the time of the settlement, and an annual review would be released to the public. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) is vowing to pass additional reforms next year. FREE MINDS Congressman would "love" to regulate speech. Talk about saying the quiet parts loud: In a TV interview yesterday, Rep. Ted Lieu (D–Calif.) said he "would love to regulate the content of speech," but is prevented from doing so by the First Amendment. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA): "I would love to be able to regulate the content of speech. The First Amendment prevents me from doing so..." pic.twitter.com/2LYevmIqrT — Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) December 12, 2018 Lieu was being questioned about and criticizing complaints from House Republicans about alleged anti-conservative bias in Google search results. Facing post-interview criticism, Lieu insisted that his intent had been to defend free speech by explaining that the First Amendment didn't allow for things House Republicans wanted to do. Maybe, but in the process he positioned himself as someone whose censorious impulses are curbed only by the Constitution. FREE MARKETS Good news for hemp, not for much else in new Farm Bill. The legislation cleared Congress yesterday and is on its way to President Donald Trump for approval. "Many of the headlines about the farm bill have focused on the inclusion of a provision that will legalize industrial hemp—a form of cannabis that contains very low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in marijuana. Industrial hemp has a wide range of uses that includes making clothing, as a substitute for plastics, and as a additive to food and drinks," writes Reason's Eric Boehm. But aside from that, Boehm says, this iteration of the perennial farm bill "somehow manages to suck even more than most." Why? Among other things, it widens "an agricultural subsidy program that's already been widely criticized for sending benefits to people who, by most measures, would not count as farmers." More on that from the R Street Institute's Caroline Kitchens here. It also came, in the House, with a resolution that ends debate on invoking the War Powers Act to stop U.S. funding of Saudi monstrosities in Yemen. That resolution was tucked into a procedural vote, which passed 206–203, with 18 Republicans voting against it and five Democrats for. The procedural vote cleared the way for the House to approve the final farm bill later in the day. FOLLOWUPS • Former Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison for tax evasion and facilitating illegal campaign contributions. In related news, National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. admitted to its part in brokering a $150,000 hush payment from Trump and Cohen to model Karen McDougal. The company entered into a non-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors. • Yesterday's vote of no confidence in the U.K. Parliament wound up OK for Prime Minister Teresa May, who has been under fire from many sides for bungling Brexit. QUICK HITS • Trump's latest immigrant targets are Vietnamese people who came to America as refugees from the Vietnam War and its aftermath: Exclusive: The Trump administration has decided that Vietnamese migrants who arrived before the establishment of diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Vietnam are subject to standard immigration law—meaning they are all eligible for deportation. https://t.co/njUnvAjm8x — The Atlantic (@TheAtlantic) December 12, 2018 • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) will stop blocking the sentencing reform bill known as the FIRST STEP Act from a Senate floor vote. "Under pressure from the White House and a number of his fellow Republicans," McConnell said he'll bring the bill "for a vote as early as the end of the week," reports Reason's C.J. Ciaramella. • As in so many areas, people's support for mandatory paid-leave policies drops the more they have to pay for it: 74% of Americans Support Federal Paid Leave Program When Costs Not Mentioned—60% Oppose if They Got Smaller Pay Raises in the Future https://t.co/Hf0kfdi2Ya via @CatoInstitute — Christina Sandefur (@cmsandefur) December 12, 2018 • Las Vegas is one of a number of cities where opioid-related harm reduction methods are growing: The first time you come in for needles we give you this card- show this to the police if they question you about carrying clean needles. This will let them know that it's legal for you to have them! #KnowYourRights #Vegas pic.twitter.com/JhXhsTLSrW — Trac-B Exchange- Las Vegas (@tracbexchange) December 12, 2018
  • Navarro Affirms Arrests Of Canadian Citizens In China Was "Retaliation" For Huawei CFO
    With US stocks set to open higher on Thursday, traders' blood pressure probably spiked when they saw headlines from an interview with White House trade advisor Peter Navarro hitting the tape (who can forget his infamous comments two week ago when he chided traders and Wall Street banks for pushing for a trade detente, warning that talks with China hadn't yielded any progress). Fortunately for equity bulls, stock futures remained in the green as Navarro offered a mix of bullish and bearish commentary during a brief chat with Fox Business's Maria Bartiromo, where the notorious China hawk discussed the Trump administration's goals in its negotiations with its trade war rival, and advised traders to "focus on March 1" instead of trying to read too deeply into every report "on the front page of the Wall Street Journal" (comments that, on the surface, would seem to undercut the impetus for yesterday's rally). "Investors shouldn't get hung up on the day to day...Just focus on March 1 when we'll have a complete offer from China that will be negotiated behind closed doors not on the front pages of the Wall Street Journal." However, Navarro's comments weren't all bad: He affirmed that China had restarted purchases of US soybeans, and that Beijing is making an effort to ease trade tensions with the US. This shouldn't come as a surprise, Navarro said, because if China doesn't buy our soybeans "they get inflation...they get riots in Tiananmen Square." Instead of focusing on trade policy, Navarro suggested that traders should focus instead on the Federal Reserve and its plans for raising interest rates. In terms of the administration's goals for its trade negotiations, Trump is trying for two objectives: pushing China to improve market access (buy more stuff and let us enter markets without forced IP transfer) and - more importantly - implement 'structural' reforms like ending cyberintrusions, state-directed investment and intellectual property theft that have been the target of the Section 301 trade investigations launched by the White House. Moving on to a discussion of national security issues, Bartiromo moved on to the security topic du jour: China's motives in arresting two Canadian nationals. Asked whether these arrests constituted retaliation for the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, Navarro responded that "it is." That marks the first time a Western official has directly acknowledged what everybody already suspected. Watch the full interview with Navarro below: Chinese officials have accused the detained Canadians' of threatening national security and insisted that the arrests weren't motivated by politics. Hu Xijin, editor of the state-backed Global Times, a nationalistic tabloid, said on the Weibo social media platform the Chinese government would never concede that the Canadians’ detentions were related to Meng’s case. "But the use of a complete set of laws to prove the rationale for arrest is one and the same as what the U.S. and Canada did to Meng Wanzhou," he said.
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  • Trump Warned Not To Interfere With Prosecution Of Huawei CFO
    President Trump angered senior officials in his Justice Department and Democratic lawmakers this week when he told Reuters reporters that he wouldn't hesitate to intervene in the prosecution of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou - who is at the beginning of what's expected to be a lengthy extradition process - if it would improve the president's chances of striking a trade deal with China. His comments elicited indignant replies about Trump turning what should be a purely criminal proceeding into a political bargaining chip. And in a sign of just how badly Trump upset the federal law enforcement community with his comments, members of the "deep state" community of federal intelligence and law enforcement agents and president Trump's advisors are engaging in the time-tested practice of trying to walk back controversial comments made by the president by leaking a story to WSJ claiming that the president has been warned that any intervention in the Huawei case would "break with longstanding tradition" and that Meng's arrest was "out of his hands." Despite President Trump’s statement that he might intervene in a criminal case against the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co., such a move would break from longstanding tradition and advisers have warned him that his options are limited, according to people familiar with the matter. When news broke last week of the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, threatening the president’s trade talks with China, he asked for options, according to one person, and advisers told him the arrest and potential prosecution of Ms. Meng was essentially out of his hands. The arrest was a Justice Department matter, they said, and the White House should stay out of it for now, this person said. There are no immediate plans to intervene in the matter, officials added. The timing of this leak is incredibly inconvenient (it follows two possible trade-war victories: China restarting purchases of US soybeans and considering the scrapping of its "Made in China" 2025 plan"). Furthermore, it risks harming the fragile market rally as WSJ's sources insinuated that Trump's comment about intervening in May's detention was purely intended to prop up stocks. The matter arose when Mr. Trump returned to Washington last week optimistic that his trade talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping had made headway. But stocks didn’t respond as well as he had expected, and on Tuesday Mr. Trump told Reuters he would be willing to intervene in the case against Ms. Meng if it meant securing a strong agreement. "If I think it’s good for the country, if I think it’s good for what will be certainly the largest trade deal ever made, which is a very important thing - what’s good for national security - I would certainly intervene if I thought it was necessary," Mr. Trump said. "It’s also possible it will be a part of the negotiations," he added. And while the story goes on to quote several experts who seemed to suggest that Trump wouldn't dare interfere with the DOJ (because his administration has always shown such unshakable respect for precedent), it also points out that - constitutionally speaking - there's nothing stopping Trump from absolving Meng. Former Justice Department officials said that while Mr. Trump’s intervention in the Meng case would be a departure from the norms against White House involvement in criminal cases, there is nothing in the Constitution that bars it. Such actions are more common - though still unusual - if the action is framed as a national-security matter. While the circumstances were different, President Obama pushed the Justice Department to drop cases against several alleged Iran-sanctions violators while negotiating a plan for that country to curb its nuclear program. "In this trade negotiation, the economic and national-security concerns are increasingly indistinguishable, as is the case with so much of what the U.S. and China are in conflict over at the moment," said Robert D. Williams, executive director of the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School. It's hardly surprising that "deep state" figures would try to undermine Trump's trade talks. But, for now, all they can do is orchestrate damaging leaks. They don't have the authority to stop Trump from using Meng as a bargaining chip - if that's what the president believes is in the best interest of the nation.
  • Tribune Publishing reportedly paid $2.5M to cover up ex-chair’s anti-Semitic slur
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  • Arizona newspaper publisher uses his publication to accuse wife of poisoning attempt - NBCNews.com
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  • Chinese Christians Vow to ‘Stand Strong’ Under State Persecution
    Despite ongoing arrests and torture of Chinese Christians after a raid on an independent church Sunday, the faithful are vowing not to bow to the Communist party “even if it means death.”
  • Trump willingness to ‘intervene’ on Huawei case leaves Canada in tough spot over ex-diplomat’s arrest
    Donald Trump's declaration that he could intervene in the extradition of a top Chinese corporate executive from Canada is raising new questions about Canada's role in the growing tensions between two superpowers.