Headlines: December 7, 2018
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A credible case of voter fraud has finally emerged and Republican Party lawmakers and President are largely silent about it. Republican Mark Harris won the Congressional race in North Carolina’s District 9 beating his rival Democrat Dan McCready by less than a 1,000 votes. Now it has been revealed that hundreds or more of questionable absentee ballots were filed in the race and that a political consultant working for the Harris campaign may have tampered with ballots. Election officials have delayed their certification of the vote and an investigation is underway. McCready withdrew his concession in the race on Thursday. Republicans, who have made it part of their election strategy to curb voting rights alleging voter fraud are largely silent on the North Carolina story, despite the fact that officials knew something was amiss when Harris won the primary last May. Robert Pittenger, who lost the primary to Harris by just a few hundred votes believed he too had been victim of voter fraud. Party officials apparently ignored his claims.
The New York Times on Thursday published a bombshell article centered on the story of an undocumented immigrant who worked as a hotel maid at the Trump Golf Course in New Jersey since 2013. “Victorina Morales has made Donald J. Trump’s bed, cleaned his toilet and dusted his crystal golf trophies. When he visited as president, she was directed to wear a pin in the shape of the American flag adorned with a Secret Service logo,” writes reporter Miriam Jordan. The piece cites that there were several undocumented workers at Trump’s resort and interviewed a second woman named Sandra Diaz who was undocumented when she was hired but now has legal status. Trump has made it a central part of his campaign and his presidential tenure to demonize undocumented immigrants and even assert that his businesses have never hired them. Morales, who is from Guatemala, currently has an asylum application pending. She told the Times, “We are tired of the abuse, the insults, the way he talks about us when he knows that we are here helping him make money. We sweat it out to attend to his every need and have to put up with his humiliation.”
The House and Senate on Thursday passed a stopgap funding measure to keep the federal government funded for two weeks and postpone a political battle over funding for Trump’s border wall. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi who is seeking the position of House Speaker next year, spoke to reporters about the wall calling it “immoral.”
Trump has decided on the next US Ambassador to the United Nations – and it’s a person with barely a year of diplomatic experience. Heather Nauert, who spent the majority of her career as a Fox News anchor, joined the State Department last year, and will now be the US’s top diplomat at the world body. While her predecessor Nikki Haley also lacked foreign policy and diplomatic experience, she did run a state as Governor of South Carolina. Haley announced her resignation earlier this year, joining the long line of Trump administration officials that have left their positions prematurely. According to the Washington Post, “Nauert is the latest transplant from Fox News to be appointed to a senior Trump administration job, following the addition of Fox News executive Bill Shine as a top communications adviser. White House national security adviser John Bolton also worked as a Fox News contributor.”
News also emerged Friday morning that former Attorney General William Barr who led the Justice Department under President George H. W. Bush, has emerged as Trump’s choice to replace Jeff Sessions. Sixty-eight year old Barr will be among the few experienced appointees that Trump has picked, having already served in the office of Attorney General decades ago. But he has made comments in the past questioning the independence of the Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which may raise concerns among Democratic Senators. Trump confirmed Barr’s nomination on Friday.
Mother Jones magazine published a report on Thursday showing that the Trump Presidential campaign and the National Rifle Association (NRA) may have violated federal election laws. The two used the same set of political consultants for the same ad strategy in 2016. In fact the NRA spent $30 million to help elect Trump – the largest contribution by any single organization. Both Trump and the NRA turned to a firm called Red Eagle Media during the campaign. Larry Noble, a former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission explained to Mother Jones, “This is very strong evidence, if not proof, of illegal coordination…This is the heat of the general election, and the same person is acting as an agent for the NRA and the Trump campaign.”
Two reports in California published on Thursday show that more Catholic priests face accusations of sexually abusing children than previously thought. According to the Associated Press, “Advocates for survivors of child sex abuse compiled a list of 72 priests they say served in the Diocese of Orange and have been accused of abuse. That’s many more than the 14 such clerics listed by the diocese in 2016.” Some of the incidents took place in the 1950s and 60s and several of the priests are now dead. The Catholic Church has been mired in a scandals involving rampant pedophilia among its priests for years now all across the US.
In international news, German leader Angela Merkel’s rule has come to an end. After 18 years she is stepping down as a conservative party picked the country’s new leader on Friday in Hamburg. The Christian Democratic Party on Friday chose Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to replace Merkel. Merkel’s final speech got an 11-minute standing ovation.
And the United Nations refugee agency has released a grim tally for Yemen, saying that 123 civilians on average, are killed per week as the US-Saudi war in that nation continues. The numbers were released as Yemen’s Houthi rebels and the Saudi backed government are in their second day of peace talks in Sweden.