Assange won’t hand over docs to US House Judiciary, attorney says

Source: Politico

“WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has declined to provide documents to the House Judiciary Committee’s broad inquiry into actions by President Donald Trump, his lawyer confirmed Thursday morning. ‘The First Amendment dictates that an inquiry by Congress should not begin by issuing requests to journalists for documents pertaining to its newsgathering,’ the attorney, Barry Pollack, wrote in an email. Assange has long parried criticism that he acted on behalf of Russia when he posted hacked Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee emails in 2016 by suggesting his actions were no different than journalists accepting and publishing confidential documents. But the U.S. intelligence community has [alleged] that WikiLeaks was an active participant in the effort to obtain and post Democratic emails, partnering with Russian propaganda outlets and acting as a tool of the Russian government. Assange has denied such claims. Assange, who has lived as a fugitive in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for years, was unlikely to cooperate with congressional investigators. He’s the latest of 81 people and entities to decline a Judiciary Committee request for documents.” (03/21/19)

UK: EU gives May another two weeks to avoid a no-deal Brexit


Source: Bloomberg

“European Union leaders staved off the threat of the U.K. crashing out of the bloc without a deal next Friday by giving Theresa May an extra two weeks to work out what to do. At a summit in Brussels on Thursday, the leaders told May that if U.K. lawmakers don’t endorse her Brexit deal next week, she’ll have until April 12 to decide whether to leave without agreement or request a much longer extension. The decision removes the immediate possibility of a no-deal Brexit in seven days’ time. It also gives May a powerful threat to issue to pro-brexit hardliners in her party: Back the deal or risk being trapped in the EU for much longer. May said she’ll put the unpopular accord back to parliament next week.” (03/21/19)

Trump signs executive order denying taxpayer money to colleges if speakers silenced

Source: ABC News

“President Donald Trump on Thursday signed an executive order that would deny colleges certain federal research and education grants if they failed to comply with free speech standards outlined by the administration. ‘Under the guise of speech codes and safe spaces and trigger warnings, these universities have tried to restrict free thought, impose total conformity and shut down the voices of great young Americans … all of that changes starting right now. We’re dealing with billions and billions and billions of dollars,’ Trump said, surrounded by student activists at a White House ceremony Thursday afternoon.” (03/21/19)

“Hundreds of millions” of user passwords exposed within Facebook

Source: The Hill

“Facebook announced on Thursday that ‘hundreds of millions’ of users’ passwords had been stored in unprotected plain text accessible by the company’s employees. In a blog post titled ‘Keeping Passwords Secure,’ the social media giant said it had found no reason to believe the trove of passwords had been abused by its workers or accessed by anyone outside the company. … Brian Krebs, a well-regarded cybersecurity journalist who first reported the news, reported Thursday that an internal investigation has found that anywhere between 200 million and 600 million users had their passwords exposed in a database that was accessible by more than 20,000 Facebook employees. According to Krebs, Facebook believes that some of the passwords had been stored in plain text as early as 2012.” (03/21/19)

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump use private accounts for official business, their lawyer says

Source: New York Times

“The chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee revealed information on Thursday that he said showed that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner used private email accounts and a publicly available messaging service for official White House business in a way that possibly violated federal records laws. A lawyer for Ms. Trump, President Trump’s daughter, and Mr. Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, told the committee late last year that in addition to a private email account, Mr. Kushner uses an unofficial encrypted messaging service, WhatsApp, for official White House business, Representative Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s chairman, revealed. That business includes foreign contacts, the lawyer, Abbe D. Lowell, told the committee. Mr. Cummings said Mr. Lowell also told the committee that Ms. Trump did not preserve some emails sent to her private account if she did not reply to them.” (03/21/19)

Trump endorses Israeli control of the disputed Golan Heights

Source: Washington Post

“President Trump on Thursday abruptly endorsed permanent Israeli control of the disputed Golan Heights, saying on Twitter that the area seized from Syria in the 1967 Arab war is ‘of critical strategic and security importance’ to Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pressed the United States to formally recognize Israel’s annexation of the land, including making a public appeal for U.S. help as he welcomed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Jerusalem on Wednesday. … Trump’s statement has no immediate practical effect, but it puts his administration on record as backing a key political priority of Netanyahu’s just three weeks before Israel’s national elections.” (03/21/19)

Former owner of spa embroiled in Kraft charges denies selling access to Trump

Source: CBS News

“The former owner of a massage parlor where Patriots owner Bob Kraft allegedly solicited prostitution, is denying that she ever sold access to President Trump. Cindy Yang told CBS affiliate WPEC-TV that she ‘never’ had any private conversations with the president. Her spa was one of several parlors suspected of involvement in human trafficking. The Miami Herald and Mother Jones magazine previously both reported that Yang created a business called ‘GY US Investments’ whose website, since taken down, offered clients ‘the opportunity to interact with the President, the [American] Minister of Commerce and other political figures.’ The company said it could arrange interactions including photos, roundtables and dinners with the president as well as access to the First Lady’s charity balls. Yang, who donated over $10,000 to the Trump campaign, came into the public spotlight after photos and videos of herself at a Mar-A-Lago Super Bowl party surfaced.” (03/21/19)

Venezuela is real socialism or real fascism

Source: EconLog
by Pierre Lemieux

“The more collectivist — socialist or fascist — is a society or, more precisely, the government that rules over it, the more incentives individuals will have to engage in proactive or defensive corruption. The common denominator of socialism and fascism is that they are founded on the supremacy of collective choices over individual choices and thus favor state power. They ignore the individual incentives of a large part of the citizenry. (The courtiers’, soldiers’, and policemen’s individual incentives are not ignored, though.)” (03/21/19)

Nasser Arrabyee on The Scott Horton Show

Source: Libertarian Institute

“Nasser Arrabyee gives an update on the war in Yemen, where thanks to U.S. support for the Saudis an entire country is being starved and women and children killed in air strikes. So little attention has been paid to the war by the American media, public, and politicians that it has been allowed to go on for four years.” [various formats] (03/19/19)

Can the president legally break the law?

Source: Fox News
by Andrew P Napolitano

“Trump once boasted that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue in New York in broad daylight and get away with it or pardon himself. I hope this was Trumpian comedic exaggeration. If not, it is the revelation of a dangerous Nixon-like mentality that the rule of law — which requires that no one be above the law’s commands or beneath its protections — applies to everyone but him. Can the president legally break the law? If he can, we will soon be back to the Nixon days. And we all know how they ended.” (03/21/19)