The cracks in the dike of Donald Trump against the world were more apparent last week, as one Republican senator from Arizona joined another from Tennessee in protesting that the disarray had gone far enough, and Barack Obama added his voice to the dissent—not to mention the first news from Robert Mueller’s investigation. But the staunch stand of the others who constitute a majority in the executive branch, the Congress and the courts, served notice that it would take more than public disapproval to restore the nation’s center. It’s only fall but it still looks like a cold winter.
We no longer have to wait for more bad news on the opioid crisis, which has now been proclaimed a public health emergency, or on poverty fronts everywhere, as this issue details wherever the disability checks run out and in Brazil, where millions face disaster. Not so China’s Xi Jinping, whose government has elevated him to a status next to the legendary Chairman Mao, and who in one distant province appears to be installing the apparatus of a police state.
This is Number 10 of New Times Always! The first was launched on June 1, and when this one emerges by October 31st it will mean a new number every 15.3 days. Of greater significance is that we will have reduced our frequency to almost weekly, the initial target. It will mean further that our publishing schedule will more closely match the rate at which the world is churning out change, with some time to spare for thoughtful consideration, But not, under the circumstances, for celebration.
Don West for New Times Always!
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Monday revealed charges against three former Trump campaign officials — including onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort — marking the first criminal allegations to come from probes into possible Russian influence in U.S. political affairs.
The charges are striking for their breadth, touching all levels of the Trump campaign and exploring possible personal financial wrongdoing by those involved, as well as what appeared to be a concerted effort by one campaign official to arrange a meeting with Russian officials.
One of the three charged, former Trump foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos, admitted to making a false statement to FBI investigators who asked about his contacts with foreigners claiming to have high-level Russian connections.
Manafort and longtime business partner Rick Gates, meanwhile, were charged in a 12-count indictment with conspiracy to launder money, making false statements and other charges in connection with their work advising a Russia-friendly political party in Ukraine.
The investigation, which the FBI began last year but escalated significantly with Mueller’s appointment in May, has taken a heavy toll on the Trump administration, repeatedly putting the president on the defensive as reports have emerged about the work the special counsel’s team is doing. With Monday’s revelations, a week that otherwise might have been spent with Washington focused on the Republican tax plan will have talking heads dissecting the criminal counts against former Trump campaign officials — and speculating about the next shoe to drop.
Papadopoulos’s plea agreement, signed earlier this month and unsealed Monday, described his extensive efforts to try to broker connections with Russian officials and arrange a meeting between them and the Trump campaign. Emails show that his offers were sometimes looked at warily, though more-senior campaign officials at least entertained them.
Manafort and Gates pleaded not guilty in a brief appearance in D.C. federal court Monday afternoon. A federal magistrate judge put the men on home confinement, and set a $10 million unsecured bond for Manafort and a $5 million unsecured bond for Gates.
That means the men would be in debt to the government if they failed to show up for court, though they do not have to put any money down. Both surrendered their passports to the FBI. The next hearing in the case was scheduled for Nov. 2 before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, a 2011 President Barack Obama appointee who previously worked as a federal prosecutor in the District. For their part, Trump, his spokeswoman and his lawyer sought to cast the charges as having nothing to do with the president.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders asserted that Papadopoulos had an “extremely limited,” volunteer role in the campaign and said that “no activity was ever done in an official capacity on behalf of the campaign in that regard.”
Read more at The Washington Post
THE BIG IDEA: Now Jeff Flake can listen to his conscience, not his consultants.
The Trumpists feel triumphant and emboldened after the Arizona Republican senator announced that he will not seek reelection. Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon quickly claimed Flake’s scalp as his own. “Many more to come,” he texted a Washington Post reporter last night.
But a much better outcome for President Trump would have been if Flake ran and lost in the primary. Public and private polls showed that he was deeply vulnerable to a challenge from anyone aligned with the administration.
Flake was building up a serious campaign apparatus, and his advisers were telling him that he had to be cautious. If he had decided to take his chances, the senator’s critiques of Trump would have been very measured. If he subsequently lost in a primary, it would be much easier for the president’s allies to dismiss future attacks as sour grapes from a senator scorned.
— Flake’s decision to retire means that he gets to leave the Senate on his own terms and apparently that entails going full “Bulworth.”
“For the next 14 months, relieved of the strictures of politics, I will be guided only by the dictates of conscience,” he promises. “It’s time we all say: Enough.”
While some might sulk from the scene, Flake is flooding the zone. He was omnipresent and ubiquitous across media platforms last night and this morning, from CNN to NPR, warning in dire terms about the GOP’s retreat from Reagan-style conservatism.
“Here’s the bottom line: The path that I would have to travel to get the Republican nomination is a path I’m not willing to take, and that I can’t in good conscience take,” Flake acknowledged in an interview with the Arizona Republic. “It would require me to believe in positions I don’t hold on such issues as trade and immigration, and it would require me to condone behavior that I cannot condone.”
— As one of the most authentically conservative members of Congress, Flake has a level of moral authority rivaled by few others. He is the rightful ideological heir to Barry Goldwater, whose namesake institute Flake led before being elected to the House in 2000.
Read more at The Washington Post
The next Republican revolution began last week on a bright blue bus parked at a nighttime rally in Montgomery, Ala., days before a firebrand GOP candidate won the state’s Senate primary.
But unlike previous Republican revolutionaries, the hard-line figures who stepped out to cheers did not want to yank the party to the right on age-old issues such as taxes or spending. They wanted to gut it and leave its establishment smashed.
Fury infused these insurgents’ raw remarks as did a common theme: The Republican Party has failed its voters, and a national cleansing is needed in the coming year, regardless of whether President Trump is on board.
Longtime Republicans see a charged civil war on the horizon.
“There is an emotional component,” former House speaker Newt Gingrich (R) said of the frustrations of Trump’s core backers, who have grown increasingly vocal. “They want someone to kick over the table. And my advice to every Republican is: You better have an edge, or you become the problem.”
Read more at The Washington Post.
It was the night his supporters waited nine long months for. Barack Obama returned to the fray on Thursday with a fervent denunciation of Donald Trump in all but name, condemning the politics of division and rekindling the politics of hope.
The former US president earned deafening cheers at a rally ostensibly for the Democratic candidate in a gubernatorial election in Virginia. In championing Ralph Northam’s cause, Obama expressed his views on the state of the nation in the strongest terms since the inauguration of his successor and antithesis.
“You’ll notice I haven’t been commenting a lot on politics lately,” Obama told thousands of supporters in Richmond. “But here’s one thing I know: if you have to win a campaign by dividing people, you’re not going to be able to govern them. You won’t be able to unite them later if that’s how you start.”
Campaigning for fellow Democrat Hillary Clinton last year, Obama hammered Trump regularly during the presidential election but became more circumspect after the Republican’s shock win. He initially expressed a wish to follow the example of George W Bush, who refrained from commentary once he left the White House. He has also trodden carefully to avoid outshining the next generation of would-be Democratic stars.
Nevertheless, he has taken Trump to task in written statements for efforts to gut his signature healthcare law and reverse his immigration and environmental policies. He has also offered spare, pointed criticisms during public appearances. But on Thursday he returned to full campaign mode in New Jersey and Virginia, both of which elect governors on 7 November.
While not mentioning Trump by name, Obama delivered a withering critique of the president’s time in office. His polished style and elegant, erudite sentences contrasted with the bellicose, scattergun approach of his successor, as did the racial diversity of the crowd who queued for hours to see him.
“Instead of our politics reflecting our values, we’ve got politics infecting our communities,” said Obama, looking relaxed in a tieless blue shirt and suit. “Instead of looking for ways to work together to get things done in a practical way, we’ve got folks who are deliberately trying to make folks angry, to demonise people who have different ideas, to get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage.”
He continued: “The question now, at a time when our politics seem so divided and so angry and so nasty, is whether we can recapture that spirit, whether we support and embrace somebody who wants to bring people together,” Obama said. “Yes, we can.”
The crowd erupted in chants of the winning 2008 slogan, “Yes, we can!”
Read more at The Guardian.
The man does not perspire. I discovered that on 12 September, on the island of Saint Martin, a French territory in the Caribbean that had been devastated a few days earlier by Hurricane Irma. Uprooted trees, roofs ripped from houses, streets blocked by mountains of debris: for three hours Emmanuel Macron, president of France, has been walking through what remains of the village of Grand Case in the sweltering, clammy heat amid the strong odour of burst sewage pipes – or in other words, of shit. Everyone accompanying him, including the author of these lines, is dripping with sweat, literally soaked, with large circles under their arms. Not him. Although he hasn’t had a second to change or freshen up, his white shirt with elegantly rolled-up sleeves is impeccable. And so it will remain until late in the night, when the rest of us are exhausted, haggard and reeking, and he’s still as fresh as a daisy, always ready to shake new hands.
Every interaction with Macron follows the same protocol. He turns his penetrating blue eyes on you and doesn’t look away. As for your hand, he shakes it in two stages: first a normal grip, and then, as if to show that this was no ordinary, routine handshake, he increases the pressure while at the same time intensifying his gaze. He did the same thing to Donald Trump and it almost turned into an arm wrestle. Then, with his other hand, he clasps your arm or shoulder, and when the time comes to move on, he relaxes his grip while lingering almost regretfully, as if pained to cut short an encounter that meant so much to him. This technique works wonders with his admirers, but it’s even more spectacular with his enemies. Contradiction stimulates him, aggression galvanises him. To those who complain that the state took its time bringing relief, he explains calmly and patiently that the state does not control extreme weather conditions and that everything that could be anticipated was anticipated. At the same time – and we’ll come back to this “at the same time” – he never stops repeating, just as calmly, just as patiently: “I came to Saint Martin to hear your anger.”
And it’s a good thing, too, because up comes an angry woman named Lila, who bars his way and accuses him of not giving a damn about the victims’ suffering, and of coming “just to perform” before the TV cameras in his ironed shirt and plain tie that doesn’t look like much but must have cost a fortune. She’s so vehement that the group of islanders who have gathered around them start booing and jeering and saying that’s no way to talk to the president. Anyone else would have taken advantage of the situation and said: “You see, the people are behind me.” Not Macron. For him, Lila is a challenge. He takes her hand and his face divides in two – something I’ve often seen it do: the right half, brow creased, is determined, grave, almost severe, giving you the feeling that whatever he does, he’s doing it in the eyes of history. The left half, meanwhile, is cordial, optimistic, almost mischievous, giving you the feeling that now he’s there, things will be all right.
Read more at The Guardian.
The newly installed Sackler Courtyard at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is one of the most glittering places in the developed world. Eleven thousand white porcelain tiles, inlaid like a shattered backgammon board, cover a surface the size of six tennis courts. According to the V&A’s director, the regal setting is intended to serve as a “living room for London,” by which he presumably means a living room for Kensington, the museum’s neighborhood, which is among the world’s wealthiest. In late June, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was summoned to consecrate the courtyard, said to be the earth’s first outdoor space made of porcelain; stepping onto the ceramic expanse, she silently mouthed, “Wow.”
The Sackler Courtyard is the latest addition to an impressive portfolio. There’s the Sackler Wing at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which houses the majestic Temple of Dendur, a sandstone shrine from ancient Egypt; additional Sackler wings at the Louvre and the Royal Academy; stand-alone Sackler museums at Harvard and Peking Universities; and named Sackler galleries at the Smithsonian, the Serpentine, and Oxford’s Ashmolean. The Guggenheim in New York has a Sackler Center, and the American Museum of Natural History has a Sackler Educational Lab. Members of the family, legendary in museum circles for their pursuit of naming rights, have also underwritten projects of a more modest caliber—a Sackler Staircase at Berlin’s Jewish Museum; a Sackler Escalator at the Tate Modern; a Sackler Crossing in Kew Gardens. A popular species of pink rose is named after a Sackler. So is an asteroid.
The Sackler name is no less prominent among the emerald quads of higher education, where it’s possible to receive degrees from Sackler schools, participate in Sackler colloquiums, take courses from professors with endowed Sackler chairs, and attend annual Sackler lectures on topics such as theoretical astrophysics and human rights. The Sackler Institute for Nutrition Science supports research on obesity and micronutrient deficiencies. Meanwhile, the Sackler institutes at Cornell, Columbia, McGill, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Sussex, and King’s College London tackle psychobiology, with an emphasis on early childhood development.
The Sacklers’ philanthropy differs from that of civic populists like Andrew Carnegie, who built hundreds of libraries in small towns, and Bill Gates, whose foundation ministers to global masses. Instead, the family has donated its fortune to blue-chip brands, braiding the family name into the patronage network of the world’s most prestigious, well-endowed institutions. The Sackler name is everywhere, evoking automatic reverence; the Sacklers themselves, however, are rarely seen.
Read more in Esquire to learn source of all their wealth.
Driving or taking a bus to a neighboring town, you’d hit checkpoints where armed police officers might search your phone for banned apps like Facebook or Twitter, and scroll through your text messages to see if you had used any religious language.
You would be particularly worried about making phone calls to friends and family abroad. Hours later, you might find police officers knocking at your door and asking questions that make you suspect they were listening in the whole time.
For millions of people in China’s remote far west, this dystopian future is already here. China, which has already deployed the world’s most sophisticated internet censorship system, is building a surveillance state in Xinjiang, a four-hour flight from Beijing, that uses both the newest technology and human policing to keep tabs on every aspect of citizens’ daily lives. The region is home to a Muslim ethnic minority called the Uighurs, who China has blamed for forming separatist groups and fueling terrorism. Since this spring, thousands of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities have disappeared into so-called political education centers, apparently for offenses from using Western social media apps to studying abroad in Muslim countries, according to relatives of those detained.
Over the past two months, I interviewed more than two dozen Uighurs, including recent exiles and those who are still in Xinjiang, about what it’s like to live there. The majority declined to be named because they were afraid that police would detain or arrest their families if their names appeared in the press.
Read more at BuzzFeed.
GRUNDY, Va. — Five days earlier, his mother had spent the last of her disability check on bologna, cheese, bread and Pepsi. Two days earlier, he had gone outside and looked at the train tracks that wind between the coal mines and said, “I don’t know how I’m going to get out of this.” One day earlier, the family dog had collapsed from an unnamed illness, and, without money for a veterinarian, he had watched her die on the porch. And now it was Monday morning, and Tyler McGlothlin, 19, had a plan.
“About time to go,” said his mother, Sheila McGlothlin, 57, stamping out a cigarette.
“I’m ready,” Tyler said, walking across a small, decaying house wedged against a mountain and strewn with dirty dishes, soda cans and ashtrays. They went outside, stepping past bottles of vodka his father had discarded before disappearing into another jail cell, and climbed a dirt path toward a housemate’s car.
He knew his plan was not a good one. But what choice did he have? He had looked inside the refrigerator that morning, and the math didn’t add up. Five people were living in the house, none of whom worked. It would be 17 days before his mother received another disability check and more food stamps. And the refrigerator contained only seven eggs, two pieces of bologna, 24 slices of Kraft American cheese, some sliced ham and one pork chop.
It had to be done.
Tyler would hold a sign on the side of the road and beg for money. He would go to a town 30 miles down the road and stand at one of the region’s busiest intersections, where he prayed no one would recognize him, to plead for help from people whose lives seemed so far removed from his own.
To Tyler, the collapse of the coal industry had left two kinds of people in these mountains. There are those who work. And there are those who don’t: the unemployed, the disabled, the addicted, and the people who, like his family, belonged to all three groups. Those who work rarely mix with those who don’t, except in brief encounters at the grocery store, at the schools or, for Tyler, along the side of the road, where he knew he was likely to encounter acts of generosity as well as outbursts of resentment.
As he walked toward the car and got inside, he had so many hopes in his head. He hoped he would get enough money to feed his family. He hoped the cops wouldn’t arrest him. But most of all, he hoped he wouldn’t run into a man named David Hess.
Read more at The Washington Post.