Archive for October 8th, 2019

White House vows it will stop all cooperation in Trump impeachment probe – Global News

October 8th, 2019

The White House declared Tuesday it will halt any and all cooperation with what it termed the “illegitimate” impeachment probe by House Democrats, sharpening the constitutional clash between U.S. President Donald Trump and Congress.

2:35Second whistleblower intensifies scrutiny on Trump’s Ukraine call

Second whistleblower intensifies scrutiny on Trump’s Ukraine call

Trump attorneys sent a lengthy letter to House leaders bluntly stating White House refusal to participate in the inquiry that was given a boost by last week’s release of a whistleblower’s complaint that the president sought political favors from Ukraine.

“Given that your inquiry lacks any legitimate constitutional foundation, any pretense of fairness, or even the most elementary due process protections, the Executive Branch cannot be expected to participate in it,” White House Counsel Pat Cipollone wrote.

READ MORE: 2nd whistleblower may have fresh information for House Democrats

That means no additional witnesses under administration purview will be permitted to appear in front of Congress or comply with document requests, a senior official said.

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The White House is objecting that the House has not voted to begin an impeachment investigation into Trump. It also claims that Trump’s due process rights are being violated.

House intelligence committee Chairman Adam Schiff tweeted in response that Trump’s refusal to cooperate with the inquiry signals an attitude that “the president is above the law.”

READ MORE: Second whistleblower in Trump impeachment inquiry comes forward, lawyer says

“The Constitution says otherwise,” he asserted.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has insisted the House is well within its rules to conduct oversight of the executive branch under the Constitution regardless of a formal impeachment inquiry vote.

“Mr. President, you are not above the law,” Pelosi said in a statement Tuesday night. “You will be held accountable.”

The Constitution states the House has the sole power of impeachment, and that the Senate has the sole power to conduct impeachment trials. It specifies that a president can be removed from office for “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors,” if supported by a two-thirds Senate vote. But it offers little guidance beyond that on proceedings.

6:07Schiff decries Trump administration for blocking U.S. diplomat from testifying

Schiff decries Trump administration for blocking U.S. diplomat from testifying

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The White House letter marks the beginning of a new all-out strategy to counter the impeachment threat to Trump. Aides have been honing their approach after two weeks of what allies have described as a listless and unfocused response to the probe.

The president himself is sticking with the same Trump-as-victim rhetoric he has used for more than a year.

“People understand that it’s a fraud. It’s a scam. It’s a witch hunt,” he said on Monday. “I think it makes it harder to do my job. But I do my job, and I do it better than anybody has done it for the first two and half years.”

Early Tuesday, Trump escalated his fight with Congress by blocking Gordon Sondland, the U.S. European Union ambassador, from testifying behind closed doors about the president’s dealings with Ukraine.

READ MORE: Trump, Syria and Turkey — Here’s a look at what’s happening

Sondland’s attorney, Robert Luskin, said his client was “profoundly disappointed” that he wouldn’t be able to testify. And Schiff said Sondland’s no-show was “yet additional strong evidence” of obstruction of Congress by Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that will only strengthen a possible impeachment case.

The House followed up Tuesday afternoon with subpoenas for Sondland’s testimony and records.

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Trump is also bulking up his legal team.

Former Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy is being brought on as outside counsel, according to an administration official. Gowdy, who did not seek reelection last year, led a congressional investigation of former presidential candidate Hilary Clinton and the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

4:11Michael Moore talks Trump and what the Democrats need in 2020

Michael Moore talks Trump and what the Democrats need in 2020

The whistleblower’s complaint and text messages released by another envoy portray U.S. Ambassador Sondland as a potentially important witness in allegations that the Republican president sought to dig up dirt on Democratic rival Joe Biden in Ukraine and other countries in the name of foreign policy.

Pelosi said thwarting the witness testimony on Tuesday was an “abuse of power” in itself by the president.

The White House letter to Pelosi, Schiff and other House committee chairmen, though asserting a legal argument that Trump and other officials cannot cooperate, would not be likely to win respect in court, said Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas.

READ MORE: U.S. diplomats discussed Ukraine in text messages — here are a few takeaways

“This letter reads to me much more like a press release prepared by the press secretary than an analysis by the White House counsel,” he said.

The White House is claiming that Trump’s constitutional rights to cross-examine witnesses and review all evidence in impeachment proceedings extend even to House investigations, not just a potential Senate trial. It also is calling on Democrats to grant Republicans in the House subpoena power to seek evidence in the president’s defense.

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0:31Susan Collins says she hopes impeachment inquiry into Trump will be done with ‘seriousness’ it deserves

Susan Collins says she hopes impeachment inquiry into Trump will be done with ‘seriousness’ it deserves

Elsewhere in Washington, a federal judge heard arguments Tuesday in a separate case on whether the House has actually undertaken a formal impeachment inquiry despite not having taken a vote and whether the inquiry can be characterized, under the law, as a “judicial proceeding.”

That distinction matters because while grand jury testimony is ordinarily secret, one exception authorizes a judge to disclose it in connection with a judicial proceeding. House Democrats are seeking grand jury testimony from special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation as they conduct their impeachment inquiry.

“The House under the Constitution sets its own rules, and the House has sole power over impeachment,” Douglas Letter, a lawyer for the House Judiciary Committee, told the court.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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Drake Posts Instagram Story About His Father – Vulture

October 8th, 2019

Photo: Chris Polk/BBMA2017/Getty Images for DCP

Today in “celebrities oversharing on social media about conflicts we had no idea were even happening,” we have Drake telling the world via Instagram that his father “will say anything to anyone that’s willing to listen to him” and revealing that “it’s sad when family gets like this.” So, how did we get here? Some quick background: Drake loves to write songs about not having a stable father figure in his life, rapping on “Look What You’ve Done” about “my father living in Memphis now, he can’t come this way/Over some minor charges and child support.”

Drake has also spoken multiple times in interviews about his childhood on the mean streets of Toronto, telling Lebron James on HBO’s The Shop last year that “I was really hard on my parents for giving me sort of a childhood that I had to wrap my mind around as I grew.”

Drake’s father, Dennis Graham, responded to Drake’s claims earlier this month on Power 105 FM with Nick Cannon, saying, “I have always been with Drake. I talk to him, if not every day, every other day.” Graham went on to claim that Drake even admitted to him that his lyrics were false, saying, “We really got into a deep conversation about that… I said, Drake, why are you saying all this stuff about me? This is not cool. [He said] dad, it sells records.” Drake responded with the Instagram post below, specifically addressing the claim about his lyrics, saying, “every bar I ever spit was the truth.” We can only wish for peace for father and son, and perhaps a hiatus from interviews.


City Girls’ JT Released From Prison, Drops New Song “JT First Day Out”: Listen – Pitchfork

October 8th, 2019

In 2018, City Girls rapper JT turned herself into authorities following fraudulent credit card charges. Now, JT has been released, and to mark the occasion, City Girls dropped the new song “JT First Day Out.” Listen below.

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JT is one-half of the Florida rap duo alongside Yung Miami. City Girls released their debut album Period in 2018, followed by their sophomore LP G I R L C O D E later that year. G I R L C O D E included “Twerk,” the duo’s joint single with Cardi B. In June, ASAP Ferg dropped his City Girls-assisted track “Wigs.”


Epic Games Is Teasing “The End” of Fortnite –

October 8th, 2019

Apple’s first TV+ holiday special will star Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds – Engadget

October 8th, 2019

There’s no mention of when it might appear, although it wouldn’t arrive for holiday 2019 unless it’s effectively complete.

Apple has been rapidly expanding the list of shows and movies on TV+, but there’s still a lot of ground left to cover genre-wise beyond dramas and kids’ programming. It needs additions like this to cater to a variety of viewers, even if it’s just to give revelers something to watch after recovering from a holiday dinner.


Microsoft Issues Serious Windows 10 Upgrade Warning – Forbes

October 8th, 2019

Time to get a flu shot: 11 cases reported in Maryland – WTOP

October 8th, 2019

Flu season has come early to Maryland.

The Maryland Department of Health is already reporting 11 laboratory-confirmed cases since Sept. 1. State health officials said the onset of flu only emphasizes the need for a flu shot.

“Get your flu shot now. Don’t put it off,” said Maryland Secretary of Health Robert Neall, in a news release announcing the first flu cases of the season.

“It takes about a couple of weeks for the vaccination to be effective, and so that’s why we’re recommending people go ahead and get vaccinated starting now, just because we know there is flu around,” said Dr. David Blythe, the director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Outbreak Response Bureau with the Maryland Department of Health.

The health department said it is unclear if the early flu season is any indication of whether this will be a particularly bad season for flu.

“I wish we could predict from this what this means for the upcoming flu season, but we really can’t, unfortunately. But it does tell us that flu, as we speak, is here in Maryland, so it’s not too early to get vaccinated against flu,” Blythe said.

The influenza virus is spread through coughing and sneezing, as well as contact with infected people or contaminated surfaces or objects. Common symptoms include fever, body aches, fatigue, coughing and sore throat. Although most cases are mild, influenza can lead to serious complications and even death.

Most of the 11 cases reported so far are influenza A (H3N2) with a few influenza B. The vaccine protects against both.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends influenza vaccine for everyone six months of age and older.

Find out where to get a flu shot near you

“Getting the flu shot is particularly important for people who are at risk of getting [flu-related] complications and for those people who are caring for or live with those people who are at risk of getting complications,” Blythe said.

Those at high risk for influenza-related complications include:

  • Children 6 months through 5 years old
  • People over 50 years old
  • Adults and children who have chronic pulmonary, cardiovascular, renal, hepatic, neurological, hematologic or metabolic disorders
  • People who are immunocompromised
  • Women who are or will become pregnant during the flu season
  • Children and adolescents who are receiving aspirin- or salicylate-containing medications and who might be at risk for Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection
  • Residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
  • People who are extremely obese (body mass index more than 40 for adults)

“We’re urging everybody in Maryland to get their flu shot as soon as they can,” Blythe said.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

© 2019 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.


1 dead in Vancouver Island apartment fire –

October 8th, 2019

One person has died in an apartment fire in the small Vancouver Island community of Merville.

Three other people were injured in the blaze, which broke out just before noon on Tuesday in a wood-framed apartment building in the Comox Valley community.

It’s suspected the fire started on the second floor of the building, then quickly spread to other units.

Fire crews from Courtenay and Oyster River knocked down the fire. The cause is still under investigation.

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Snoop Dogg reacts to Kansas concert backlash: ‘When you pay for Snoop Dogg, you gon’ get Snoop Dogg’ – WGN TV Chicago

October 8th, 2019

Editor’s note: The story below contains some profanity, included in a direct quote. 

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Rapper Snoop Dogg is reacting to backlash over his performance last week at Kansas University Friday that included pole dancers, a money gun and profanity.

This prompted an apology from the KU’s Athletics Director Jeff Long:

“We made it clear to the entertainers’ managers that we expected a clean version of the show and took additional steps to communicate to our fans, including moving the artist to the final act of the evening, to ensure that no basketball activities would be missed if anyone did not want to stay for his show.”

I take full responsibility for not thoroughly vetting all the details of the performance and offer my personal apology to those who were offended. We strive to create a family atmosphere at Kansas and fell short of that this evening.”

Now, Snoop Dogg is speaking out about the incident, telling radio host Howard Stern that he thought the fans enjoyed themselves.

“The audience enjoyed that s**t,” Snoop said. “I don’t know what the f**k they talking about.”

Snoop also said he had a lot of love for the university and didn’t want to talk badly about them.

“I think it was more the publicity of what I did,” the rapper said. “They had to cover it up. I respect them, and I wasn’t gonna put no smut on their name and say they did anything wrong because they invited me to come do what I do.”

But he did say he’s always going to be himself.

“And when you pay for Snoop Dogg, you gon’ get Snoop Dogg,” he said.


Extinction Rebellion says it will escalate protests following Monday’s blockades – Toronto Star

October 8th, 2019

VANCOUVER—The Vancouver chapter of Extinction Rebellion, a global environmental action network, says it plans to continue its protests until its demands are met.

The group in Vancouver started about six months ago, and is part of the global Extinction Rebellion that started in the United Kingdom last year. It made headlines Monday as chapters in major cities across the world blockaded bridges stopping only after police arrested some of the activists. In Canada, chapters in Toronto, Edmonton, Halifax and Victoria also set up blockades.

“Escalation is definitely the name of the game, this is not a one-time thing,” said Maayan Kreitzman, a member who helped co-ordinate the occupation of Vancouver’s Burrard Street Bridge.

The larger movement, also known as XR, now has chapters in about 50 countries. The group said the protests Monday were taking place in 60 cities worldwide.

“We can’t afford to lose time anymore with just one-off marches, and going home and everybody forgets about it. Extinction Rebellion is about sustained organizing as well as mass mobilization and that’s what’s going to bring us success,” said Kreitzman.

In Vancouver, the occupation of the Burrard Street Bridge lasted about 15 hours, and shut down traffic on the bridge connecting the downtown core to Vancouver’s west-side and its beaches.

In what Kreitzman called a “rebellious celebration of life,” 10 people were arrested at the end of the demonstration.

“We’re feeling really positively overwhelmed by it. We’re feeling really happy about it,” Kreitzman said. “It ended in a really beautiful way. The 10 arrests that we had were accompanied by ceremony and song.”

XR Vancouver’s main demands are that governments tell the truth about the climate crisis, that they act immediately to prevent extinctions and the loss of biodiversity, that they reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025, and that they take direction from and help establish citizen’s assemblies.

Extinction Rebellion’s founding philosophy is based on specific theories of social change, heavily inspired by a book called “Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Non-Violent Conflict.”

The willingness to get arrested is one of the movement’s principals of social change. One of its founders, Roger Hallam, wrote in a May 2019 Guardian Op-Ed that “only through sacrifice – the willingness to be arrested and go to prison — do people take seriously what you are saying.”

Before blocking the bridge, protest organizers called for roughly 20 volunteers who were “willing to be arrested.” Organizers found they had more volunteers than necessary and it appeared some were turned away. Those selected as willing to be arrested were taken aside and given special instructions about how to safely be taken into custody.

Aside from the willingness to be arrested, there are two other key components of XR’s theory of change. One is that it’s necessary to disrupt the day-to-day operations of society, the other is that the actions are respectful to fellow activists, the police and the public, in order to win over anyone who opposes the movement.

“The sky is the limit, the proportions of this catastrophe that we are barrelling into are unprecedented in human history and it touches everybody,” Kreitzman said.

“The more that people are waking up to this, the more people that will be willing to put themselves in the way of business as usual, which is driving us towards disaster.”

In May, a collective of people of colour penned a letter to the global XR movement, criticizing the movement’s failure to adequately acknowledge and include people who experience racism, classism, ableism and other structural oppression.

A group called The Wretched of the Earth — which describes itself as “a grassroots collective for Indigenous, black, brown and diaspora groups and individuals demanding climate justice and acting in solidarity with our communities, both here in the UK and in Global South” — wrote the letter, and about 50 grassroots and civil society groups, many based in the UK, signed on. It was first published in “Red Pepper,” a left-wing political magazine.

Among the feedback is a critique of XR’s strategy of arrests. Many people of colour “live with the risk of arrest and criminalization,” and while the groups agree that the focus “is a valid one,” it should be accompanied by “an ongoing analysis of privilege as well as the reality of police and state violence.”

“XR participants should be able to use their privilege to risk arrest, whilst at the same time highlighting the racialized nature of policing. Though some of this analysis has started to happen, until it becomes central to XR’s organizing it is not sufficient,” reads the letter.

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“To address climate change and its roots in inequity and domination, a diversity and plurality of tactics and communities will be needed to co-create the transformative change necessary.”

Three days later, XR organizers in the U.K. replied with an open letter of their own, thanking the groups for their feedback, and committing to address the critiques.

But as a global movement, not everyone reads every critique of its organizing strategies. Kreitzman said she had heard about the letter, but hadn’t read it herself.

“XR is brand new in Vancouver, we’ve only been in existence for less than six months or so.”

However, she understands and has read criticisms that the environmental movement, and XR, doesn’t take the positions of marginalized groups seriously enough.

“We take that really seriously,” she said.

“Indigenous people have been on the front lines for a long time and this is nothing new for them. I think a lot of Canadians and people, you know, in white North America and Europe, are now realizing much later things that Indigenous people around the world have known for a long time, which is that our societies are brutalizing ourselves and our planet.”

Vancouver’s group of about 50 organizers is mostly white and “white-passing,” she said, and made up of people from all walks of life, ranging from teenagers to seniors. Kreitzman, 32, said the person sitting next to her when she was arrested Monday evening was 19, but one of the event’s main organizers is in her 60s.

“We’ve made real strides to connect with Indigenous communities here in Vancouver, the mountain protectors in particular,” she said, referring to members of the Tsleil-Waututh nation who’ve built a watch house to monitor the Trans Mountain tank farm terminal on Burnaby Mountain.

“We’re only starting to do that work, but I think that if you look at the videos from yesterday the Indigenous community showed up there, and sang and spoke and drummed and did ceremony, in many different parts of the day, from the very beginning to the very, very end.”

“The policies that we would need to rapidly decarbonize our economy and regenerate ecosystems and biodiversity would be up to that citizens assembly to decide. We’re not dictating … what those solutions need to be,” Kreitzman said.

The practice of holding up traffic and bridges in urban centres has been gaining steam as a popular method of civil disobedience for the environmental movement overseas. In the United Kingdom, more than 1,000 climate protesters were arrested, and 53 charged, in April for paralyzing traffic in London to relay a similar message.

With files from Jesse Winter and Hamdi Issawi

Tessa Vikander

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