Bracing For The Impeachalypse
October 7, 2019
“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” – J.K. Rowling
A Little Oil Greases The Gears On The War Machine
Iran was undoubtedly behind the devastating September 14 attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, an act that elicited major threats from the Trump administration against Tehran. Ultimately, however, the president declined to retaliate militarily. That decision could have caused the Saudis to question America’s commitment to their security, and been the impetus for a determination to seek their own solution to ongoing Middle East conflicts.
According to a senior Pakistani official, who spoke anonymously, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman asked Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan to engage with Iran about the possibility of opening up talks. “I want to avoid war,” MbS was quoted as saying. No surprise, said the White House coordinator for the Middle East. “The worst outcome for the Saudis is to move to a confrontation with Iran expecting the U.S. to support them and find out they won’t.”
Iran has long sought to sever the Saudi’s alliance with the US and Israel. The mere prospect of indirect talks is a remarkable turnaround from growing tensions that have brought the region to the brink of war. Last week the speaker of Iran’s Parliament said his country “is open to starting a dialogue with Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region.” Such a dialogue could solve many of the area’s security and political problems, he added.
Trump had hoped to build an Arab alliance that would isolate Iran. But Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates also support outreach to Iran, causing one former diplomat to note: “The anti-Iran alliance is not just faltering, it’s crumbling.”
You May AND Can Use The Bathroom
- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared success last week for one of his 2014 campaign promises: to make the country free of open defecation by 2019. The PM had vowed to give almost half of India’s 1.3 billion population access to a toilet.
- On Wednesday he could finally say: “The world is amazed that [110 million] toilets have been provided to more than 600 million people in 60 months….” Modi really hopes people will quit relieving themselves in fields, bushes, forests, bodies of water, and other open spaces, and just use the darn toilets. (CNN)
They May Can Take Our Masks, But They Can Never Take Our Freedom!
- Last Friday Hong Kong authorities invoked a colonial-era emergency law banning face masks. Protesters defying the law face up to a year in jail. Police arrested scores of demonstrators, subduing them with pepper spray and batons, tying their wrists with cable, and unmasking their faces before placing them aboard buses.
- On Sunday rallies attended by tens of thousands of protesters, wearing masks and marching on Hong Kong island and across the harbor in Kowloon, remained largely peaceful until police moved in to disperse the crowds. Violent clashes erupted in several locations.
- “The anti-mask law just fuels our anger and more will people come on to the street,” said one university student wearing a blue mask. (Reuters)
- Hong Kong Protesters Defy Ban On Face Masks And Adopt A New Slogan (NPR)
- New Research: China Is Winning Some Health-Care Battles — And Losing Others (NPR)
- China Is Breeding Giant Pigs the Size of Polar Bears (Bloomberg, $)
Additional World News
- In Iraq, religious ‘pleasure marriages’ are a front for child prostitution: BBC investigation exposes Shia clerics in Baghdad advising men on how to abuse girls (Guardian)
- Six wild elephants die trying to save each other in Thai waterfall: Incident reportedly happened after baby elephant slipped over falls (Guardian)
- World’s Best-Run Pension Funds Say It’s Time to Start Worrying (Bloomberg, $)
- Welcome to Estonia’s Isle of Women: What would life be like without men? On this tiny Baltic island, it’s business as usual. But its colorful, folkloric way of life is threatened by a dwindling population. (NYT, $) and An Astronaut Who Built Paths to Space for Other Women: Janet Kavandi, who recently retired from a senior NASA post, went to space three times and added fairness to the astronaut selection process. (NYT, $)
Two Strikes, You’re Out?
- On Sunday lawyers for a second whistleblower reported that their client, an intelligence official, has come forward with direct knowledge of President Trump’s attempts to get the Ukrainian president to investigate a political rival. This second individual can corroborate allegations made in the first whistleblower complaint filed August 12, which triggered impeachment proceedings.
- One of the lawyers confirmed that his firm represented multiple whistleblowers in connection with the underlying August 12 disclosure to the Intelligence Community Inspector General that Trump had withheld $400 million in aid in order to secure a promise from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.
- The emergence of more witnesses should make it harder for the president and his Republican supporters to dismiss the complaint as politically motivated hearsay. (Reuters)
Bracing For The Impeachalypse
- President Trump’s blatant attempts to pressure a foreign power to investigate a domestic political rival have driven Republican lawmakers into a bunker, where they brace for an extended battle being waged by an innately disloyal and wildly unpredictable leader.
- Even as polling shows an uptick in national support for Trump’s impeachment, his command over the Republican base is undeniable and a stark warning to any official who dares to cross him. “Nobody wants to be the zebra that strays from the pack and gets gobbled up by the lion,” a former senior administration official said in assessing the current consensus among Senate Republicans.
- Meanwhile, Trump, his allies on talk radio, Fox News Channel and elsewhere in conservative media continue to wail about a “deep state” coup attempt and House Democrats corrupting the impeachment process, and GOP senators continue to offer flaccid defenses and shrugged shoulders. (WaPo)
- ‘Peculiar, irrational, self-destructive’: Trump’s week of impeachment rage – As the walls of an impeachment inquiry closed in, Trump’s incoherent statements renewed fears about his fitness for office (Guardian)
- Barr and a Top Prosecutor Cast a Wide Net in Reviewing the Russia Inquiry: The attorney general and a veteran prosecutor, John H. Durham, have charted an unusual course that could bolster President Trump’s pet theories about the Russia investigation. (NYT, $)
- If Republicans Ever Turn On Trump, It’ll Happen All At Once: It’ll feel inevitable, but only in hindsight. (538)
Additional USA News
- Will fake news wreck the coming general election?: Have the social media giants cleaned up their act since the scandals of 2016? We give the big names a healthcheck (Guardian) and Microsoft Says Iranians Tried To Hack U.S. Presidential Campaign (NPR)
- Desperate to fill teacher shortages, US schools are hiring teachers from overseas (CNN) and Trump Bars Immigrants Who Cannot Pay For Health Care (NPR)
- The Gulf Of Maine Is Warming, And Its Whales Are Disappearing (NPR)
- US unemployment rate falls to 50-year low of 3.5% (BBC) and The Best Economic News No One Wants to Talk About: Something’s happening to wages that neither Democrats nor Republicans care to acknowledge. (Atlantic, $)
- U.S. Nuclear Talks With North Korea Break Down in Hours (NYT, $)
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Sex Spa
- “You Won’t Believe What Happened”: The Wild, Disturbing Saga of Robert Kraft’s Visit To A Strip Mall Sex Spa, as only Vanity Fair reporter May Jeong can tell it.
- Everything you ever wanted to know about why a man worth $6.6 billion would risk getting a $59 hand job at a strip mall massage parlor, and more, including, as Jeong explains: “On the island, there were only two preordained roles for a young woman of Asian descent. Being a reporter was not one of them.” (Vanity Fair)
- ‘Harvey Weinstein Told Me He Liked Chinese Girls’: Why it took me more than 20 years to tell my #MeToo story. (NYT, $)
- A 60,000-year-old cure for depression: Traditional healers have been entrusted with the well-being of indigenous Australian communities for as long as their culture has been alive – yet surprisingly little is known of them. (BBC)
- Why aren’t we living longer?: For the best part of two centuries people’s life expectancy has been improving at a pretty rapid and consistent rate. (BBC)
- ‘Once they’re gone, they’re gone’: the fight to save the giant sequoia: A conservation group plans to buy the largest privately owned sequoia grove as the climate crisis threatens the species’ future (Guardian)
- A Texas Ranger got a prolific serial killer to talk. This is how (LA Times)
- What is addiction and can it be successfully treated? (BBC)
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” – J.K. Rowling
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