A Political Gamble
September 30, 2019
“You never know beforehand what people are capable of, you have to wait, give it time, it’s time that rules, time is our gambling partner on the other side of the table and it holds all the cards of the deck in its hand, we have to guess the winning cards of life, our lives.” – José Saramago
“There is a lure in power. It can get into a man’s blood just as gambling and lust for money have been known to do.” – Harry S. Truman
Will The House Fold?
Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York and personal lawyer to President Donald Trump, is currently caught in the crosshairs of the first presidential impeachment inquiry in twenty years. Giuliani and President Trump have become the main focus of a recently opened impeachment inquiry, which was sparked by an anonymous whistleblower’s accusations that President Trump attempted to coerce Ukraine’s President Zelensky into aiding him in his own personal agenda.
Giuliani’s role in Ukraine began as early as November 2018, when he was first connected with a Ukrainian-American businessman in Florida, through whom he slowly began digging up information on potential corruption scandals between Ukraine and top Democrats while also building new connections with Ukranian politicians and officials.
During the past ten months, a series of conversations between Giuliani and top Ukranian officials within President Zelensky’s cabinet occurred, leading up to the fated phone conversation between President Trump and President Zelensky.
According to witnesses and correspondents, the majority of the conversations centered around two major conspiracy theories: former Vice President Biden pressuring Ukraine to halt an investigation connected to his own son and potential collusion between Ukraine and Democrats during the 2016 election. No credible evidence has been uncovered thus far.
Since the incident has come to the forefront of media, Mr. Giuliani has openly spoken with news reporters, including appearances on Fox News, and has been ravenously tweeting about Joe Biden, though they have done little to slow the impeachment inquiry, which has reached breakneck speeds.
- Democrats Predict Speedy Impeachment Inquiry Lasting Weeks, Not ‘Months’ (NPR)
- When Impeachment Meets a Broken Congress: The most essential branch of the U.S. government is collapsing before our eyes—right as it faces a historic showdown. (Politico)
- I Wrote About the Bidens and Ukraine Years Ago. Then the Right-Wing Spin Machine Turned the Story Upside Down. (The Intercept)
- Why Republicans Aren’t Turning on Trump: The Framers underestimated the extent to which a demagogue might convince his supporters that the president and the people are one and the same. (The Atlantic, $)
- The rough transcript is devastating. How could Trump not know that? (WaPo, $)
- Trump’s getting impeached? I defy you to convince anyone at this cursed truck stop. (WaPo, $)
- Pelosi Says Barr Has ‘Gone Rogue’: The House speaker says Attorney General William P. Barr should not have been involved in the handling of a whistle-blower complaint that named him. (NYT, $)
Houthis On The Rise
- Houthi rebels in Yemen are claiming that they have killed 500 Saudi soldiers, captured 2,000, and have taken a convoy of Saudi military vehicles captive. The Houthis announced this victory at a press conference on Sunday alongside pictures and video meant to back up their claims. The pictures and video did not fully corroborate the claims, and Saudi Arabia has not spoken on the matter.
- The Houthis are also claiming to have captured three Saudi brigades, consisting of thousands of soldiers, on Saturday and have also claimed responsibility for the recent attacks on Saudi oil fields.
- Saudi Arabia and a Gulf coalition are currently militarily involved in Yemen, where Houthi rebels are currently waging a civil war with the internationally-recognized Yemen government, led by President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi. Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia agreed to end its bombing of parts of Yemen in exchange for prisoners held by the Houthis.
- Formal negotiations between Houthi rebels and the Hadi government may be on the horizon as both sides and the international community are looking to de-escalate the conflict. (Guardian)
- Saudi Arabia Plans to Let More Foreign Tourists Have Visas (NYT, $) Let’s help their tourism board with advertisements: “See potential drone strikes at our major oil facilities, warzones, and make sure to avoid mentioning how our country’s leadership murdered a journalist.”
Celebrating Their Own Way
- The seventeenth week of pro-democracy protests began in the streets of Hong Kong, just a day before the Communist Party of China celebrates the 70th anniversary of its rule. Hong Kong police fanned out early, deploying copious rounds of tear gas in some of the most violent clashes the territory has witnessed.
- Participants of the riot sang “Glory to Hong Kong,” the anthem of their movement, and chanted, “Fight for Freedom, Liberate Hong Kong” whilst marching through the main streets of Hong Kong island, leaving a scene of destruction and street fires behind.
- Beijing had initially hoped things would stay quiet leading into “National Day,” when the Chinese government could highlight the country’s achievements, but protesters planned on upstaging official events by highlighting months-long calls for democratic reforms.
- When asked what the “National Day” anniversary meant to citizens of Hong Kong, many protests responded, “Nothing, because we lack the sense of belonging to China.” (NPR)
- Tanks, Missiles and No Pigeons: China to Celebrate 70th Birthday of the People’s Republic (NYT $)
- Major Clashes Erupt in Hong Kong Ahead of China’s National Day (NYT $)
- A Father-Son Split on Hong Kong Protests Shows City’s Generational Divide (NYT $)
- Hong Kong protests bring chaos to city’s shopping districts: Police use teargas and rubber bullets and activists respond with bricks and petrol bombs (Guardian)
Additional World News
- Syria Demands Immediate Withdrawal of U.S. and Turkish Forces, Again (NYT $)
- ‘We have to get along’: Japan’s Korean residents at sharp end of diplomatic row. Worsening relations between the two countries now affecting trade, security, tourism and day-to-day life (Guardian)
- Nigeria warned it risks humanitarian disaster by expelling charities: Aid agencies strongly deny Nigeria’s claims they are diverting funds to Boko Haram (Guardian)
- Why Botswana Is Lifting Its Ban On Elephant Trophy Hunting (NPR)
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Online And Under The Radar
- In 2018, tech companies reported that a record 45 million photos and videos of child sexual abuse were uploaded to the internet. Over a decade ago, that number was less than one million.
- The huge increase in child sexual abuse media on the internet comes despite the combined efforts of tech companies, legislators, and law enforcement, including legislation targeting the problem starting in 2008.
- Agencies in charge of targeting online child sexual abuse were left underfunded and understaffed, and the Justice Department failed to support their efforts. The Justice Department failed to create their mandatory monitoring reports, and also did not place a senior-level official to oversee the efforts. Congress regularly funds only half of the $60 million that state and local governments are supposed to receive in their anti-child pornography efforts. Despite a huge increase in reports of online child pornography since the $60 million allocation was set, the funding has remained the same for almost a decade.
- While some large tech companies have stepped up their efforts to stop the sharing of such media, moves toward encrypting services create a conflict of interest in regards to monitoring for child pornography.
- Victims of the online abuse live in fear of being recognized from any media they may be in years after they are uploaded, and have no means to control the spread of any media with them in it. Pedophile circles operate in the dark web, where encrypted images are shared to websites with hundreds of thousands of users.
- Preying on Children: The Emerging Psychology of Pedophiles (NYT, $)
- Soldier Assigned to Mar-a-Lago Sentenced for Lying in Child Pornography Case: Staff Sgt. Richard Ciccarella was sentenced on Friday to three years of probation for making a false statement to a federal officer, court documents said. (NYT, $)
Additional USA News
- U.S. Justice Department Charges 35 People In Fraudulent Genetic Testing Scheme (NPR)
- Federal Judge Blocks Trump Move To Fast-Track Deportations (NPR)
- Trump Slashes Refugee Cap to 18,000, Curtailing U.S. Role as Haven (NYT, $)
- NRA Was ‘Foreign Asset’ To Russia Ahead of 2016, New Senate Report Reveals (NPR)
- State Dept. intensifies email probe of Hillary Clinton’s former aides (WaPo, $)
I Fund You To The Moon And Back
- Elon Musk introduced a spacecraft that has been tailored to carry supplies and a crew to the moon, Mars, and potentially unlimited locations in our solar system. The announcement was made on the 11th anniversary of a SpaceX rocket reaching orbit for the first time.
- The ship will be able to land back on Earth perpendicularly.
- Musk announced on Saturday that the Starship is aimed to launch in one to two months and reach 65,000 feet before landing back on Earth.
- Musk voiced his belief that space travel is crucial to expanding consciousness outside of our planet. (Guardian)
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