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FRIENDSHIP. Wonkagenda For Wed., March 20, 2019

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Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.


Robert Mueller's team asked a federal judge for more time to respond to a WaPo request to unseal documents in Paul Manafort's criminal case, citing a "press of other work." Oh, really! What kinds of "OTHER WORK," HMMM?

Rod Rosenstein says he's going to stick around the DOJ for awhile, at least until Robert Mueller finishes his "OTHER WORK." How interesting!

BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! One of Mike Flynn's former business partners, Bijan Kian, is facing charges of lying to the feds and conspiring to avoid registering as a foreign agent, and Flynn's lawyers REALLY don't want anyone to see what kinds of legal advice Flynn's old firm was giving to people, and they sure as hell don't want Kian knowing what Flynn told prosecutors. RUH-ROH [Morning Maddow]

A federal appeals court seemed to give a frowny-faced emoji to arguments from DC and Maryland AGs that Trump was violating the emoluments clause. The judges pressed the AGs on whether the case was a backdoor to IN PEACH, which they denied, arguing the emoluments clause "covers any profit, gain, or advantage." In response, Trump's DOJ said the president was super-extra "unique," and thus, "he gets absolute immunity." Upon seeing the Republican president appointed panel, the Maryland AG reportedly slapped his forehead.

Facing scrutiny that he may have inadvertently caused the Ethiopian Airlines crash due to his incompetence, Trump will reportedly nominate Stephen M. Dickson, a pilot and Delta suit, to head up the FAA.

Trump's piece of shit FCC chair Ajit Pai just admitted IN COURT that it has no way of knowing who's commenting on its electronic commenting system, so it has no way of saying who is and who isn't a bot. This REVELATION comes as the New York Times fights the FCC for internal logs it cited as the basis for rolling back net neutrality. The FCC says releasing the logs would violate personal privacy and be totally illegal, but legal nerds say this is laughable bullshit while techies argue this is Pai trying to cover his ass.

Trump sat down with the "Trump of the Tropics," Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, and it didn't take long for the racist, gay-hatin' misogynists to start calling reporters fake news for asking mean questions about their affinity for other dictators. Last night on Fox News (natch), Bolsonaro proudly declared his homophobia, then immediately insisted he had nothing against gay people or women, declaring himself not to be a "xenophobe."

The WSJ reports Joe Biden has been calling around asking megadonors for cash IF he decides #HesRunning. Biden reportedly wants a kickass cash haul in the first 24 hours of his seemingly inevitable 2020 announcement, like Bernie and Beto, so that he's seen as a serious contender in the so-called "money primary." Politico notes that behind the scenes US allies have been begging Biden to run for months, citing his decades of experience dealing with Not America as his greatest asset.

Anybody running for the Democratic ticket in 2020 has to get 1 percent, or find 65,000 individual donors, or in polls. The latter has become the de facto way to weed out garbage candidates in the Democratic primary, so some have become obsessed with getting new donors rather than winning the so-called "money primary."

A new CNN poll shows California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris with an eight point jump, putting her behind Biden and Bernie's 28 and 20 percent, respectively. The early polls also show four in 10 voters are "extremely enthusiastic" about voting in 2020, dwarfing previous early election reads.

2020 Democratic candidate Sen. Cory Booker will hold a town hall with CNN's Don Lemon next week as Booker booms across South Carolina. Booker is expected to talk about criminal justice reform, and smoking reefers.

Former Starbucks CEO and superrich Ross Perot wannabe Howard Schultz hasn't announced #HesRunning, but Fox News is holding a town hall with him anyway. You COULD argue that this is Rupert Murdoch throwing a tantrum after the DNC told them to fuck off, and you (probably) wouldn't be wrong.

Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel tweeted he's "considering" running in 2020, and will make an announcement soon. Back in the olden timey days, Gravel used political jujitsu to get the Pentagon Papers into the public record, but then went kind of nuts during his failed 2008 presidential run. #GravelterSkelter

News outlets across California have joined forces to shine a light on police misconduct thanks to a new transparency law signed by former Governor Jerry Brown. The LA Times has a running list of all the crooked crap dirty cops have been trying to hide. Some of the highlights include covering up DUIs for local sheriffs, embezzling $100,000 from a church, covering up an officer's sexual assault, and an officer who was fired for repeatedly sexing civilians while on duty.

The San Diego Union Tribune has a brilliant report on how concertina wire the Trump administration has been installing on the Tijuana border is being stolen by local Mexicans and used to re-enforce area homes amid a massive crime wave.

Facebook built a fancy new app for people to read local news (inside Facebook!) but the app is useless thanks to Facebook brutally murdering local news outlets throughout the world. Facebook says it's found "news deserts" are predominantly in the Midwest, Northeast, and the Southern US, and it's created an organization to dole out cash for grants or support for local news projects in an effort make its stupid app work. The move to unfuck problems it created comes amid another announcement that Facebook will also overhaul its micro ad targeting system by withholding gender, age, and zip codes when advertisers peddle credit and job opportunities on Facebook's ad platform -- a system tech and social justice advocates have called racist as hell for its propagation of redlining.

For the third time in three years, Google has been fined $1.7 billion by EU regulators, this time for violating antitrust laws with its search and advertising business.

DJTJ has an op-ed in the pro-Brexit UK rag, The Telegraph, where he brags that his dad could swing his baby dick and fix the whole Brexit mess, just like he did with the DEEP STATE! DJTJ then declares, "democracy in the UK is all but dead." In other Brexit news, Politico reports Theresa May will not ask the EU for a "long extension" on Brexit so that Parliament can strike a new deal, thus avoiding the "no deal" deal that nobody wants.

The Miami Herald reports the then-16-year-old girl who was basis for Jeffrey Epstein's shady plea deal with federal prosecutors didn't even know her case was considered as part of the deal that kept Epstein from having to register as sex offender. According to the Herald, prosecutors chose to use the 16-year-old over the younger girls who claim they were Epstein's victims in order to avoid calling him a fucking pedophile in court. What's more, prosecutors secretly claimed the woman was a prostitute, and never bothered to list the ages of victim(s), the circumstances surrounding Epstein's case, or submit a probable cause affidavit during his sentencing. Emails from the then-Assistant US Attorney show they preferred "not to highlight for the judge" how many victims there were -- which the Herald notes "was almost three dozen girls, ages 13 to 17" -- so that Epstein could be given immunity by Trump's now Labor Secretary, Alex Acosta, instead of going to jail for life.

Fearing a hostile takeover, former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has been added to the board of new Fox. The move to add Ryan as a "poison pill" to ward off vultures hoping to snap up cheap stock comes as Disney takes control of Fox's entertainment division for $71 billion Ameros. WaPo notes Ryan's appointment may also be a move to curb Trump's shitposts criticizing the news division's barely critical coverage of his administration.

Diamond and Silk have appeared in a bootleg video for Trump's re-election campaign. The video shows the two blowhards being "interviewed" by the WASPy Lara Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan. Unlike all the times Sean Hannity appeared on stage at Trump rallies (and in that 2016 Trump campaign video), Fox says that there's nothing ethically compromising here since the dumbass duo aren't under any contract with Fox, adding that Fox's web-only streaming service merely buys footage from the paid Trump shills.

Some Fox News dingus thinks the US should "get more credit" for ending slavery. She later tried to walk her dumbass and factually incorrect comments back, but nobody bought it.

Self-described 2020 candidate and crazy asshole John McAfee has been ordered to hand over $25 million for the death of his old neighbor in Belize. We'd tell you more, but the only trusted source for this story is behind a paywall, and McAfee isn't worth the effort this early in the morning.

An Italian anti-vaxx politician who bitched about mandatory chickenpox vaccinations has SHOCKINGLY contracted the chickenpox. Thanks, Jesus.

And here's your morning Nice Time! CUMLORDU! MASUTA INU! BANZAI!

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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or lying in a gutter taking photos.

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Well, goddamn it, a wonderful person we'd never heard of until last night is dead. Lyra McKee was 29, an investigative journalist who specialized in looking at the legacy of "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland. She was murdered by someone shooting at police during rioting in Derry, or perhaps Londonderry, depending on who you want to piss off by using either name for the city. The rioting broke out after police "started carrying out searches in the area because of concerns that militant republicans were storing firearms and explosives" in advance of attacks planned to mark the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. Police are blaming the violence and McKee's death on the "New Irish Republican Army," a radical republican group formed a few years ago from several smaller groups. Despite the name, the group has no ties to the old Provisional Irish Republican Army, which renounced violence and disarmed in 2005 following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which was supposed to have brought peace to Northern Ireland, and kind of did, at least much of the time.

McKee is being remembered by colleagues and readers as a promising journalist who was expected to go far. A year ago, McKee signed a two-book deal with Faber & Faber; the first of the books, The Lost Boys, an investigation of eight young men who disappeared in Belfast during the Troubles in the '60s and '70s, will be published next year. A 2016 Forbes profile said "McKee's passion is to dig into topics that others don't care about." For instance, CNN reports, McKee spent five years investigating a story about the only rape crisis center in Northern Ireland and its long struggle to regain funding after the government eliminated it.

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