OH, COME ON! Mohammed bin Salman's security chief Saud al-Qahtani SKYPED IN to the attack on Jamal Khashoggi? Reuters reports,
According to one high-ranking Arab source with access to intelligence and links to members of Saudi Arabia's royal court, Qahtani was beamed into a room of the Saudi consulate via Skype.
He began to hurl insults at Khashoggi over the phone. According to the Arab and Turkish sources, Khashoggi answered Qahtani's insults with his own. But he was no match for the squad, which included top security and intelligence operatives, some with direct links to the royal court.
A Turkish intelligence source relayed that at one point Qahtani told his men to dispose of Khashoggi. "Bring me the head of the dog", the Turkish intelligence source says Qahtani instructed.
And then they took Khashoggi's clothes, pasted a fake beard on the body double, and sent him out the back door to wave at cameras all over Istanbul. Meanwhile the autopsy expert, who had packed his lucky bone saw and loaded up his dissection playlist for the trip from Saudi Arabia, got to work. Because Qahtani, MBS's top aide, had asked for Khashoggi's actual head. And pissing off MBS can be really bad for your health. Just ask the dozens of royal cousins who left their fingernails at the Ritz Carlton Riyadh while being convinced to turn assets over to the government. Or the women's rights activists rotting in jail. Or the former Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, who pissed off MBS by failing to sufficiently stand up to Iranian-backed factions in his own country. MBS had him kidnapped and beaten until he agreed to resign on national television. Or ask the prince's own mother, Princess Fahda bint Falah Al Hathleen, who has been kept under house arrest to keep her from warning his father King Salman to rein in his ambitious heir before it's too late. NBC reports that the aging king has been prevented from seeing his wife for two years at least.
A new lawsuit claims Facebook knew damn well what it was breaking, and didn't care.
Recently unveiled documents suggest Facebook was blowing smoke up everyone's ass when it was bragging about the "pivot to video" back in 2016. A small group of advertisers, who already filed a suit against Facebook for unfair business practices, have added a claim of fraud now that internal documents show how badly Facebook was screwing its customers. They accuse Facebook of a "mentality of reckless indifference" that caused businesses to spend more money based on phony reports, even after Facebook's own engineers knew something was broken. It's too bad Facebook already cashed their checks.
They were only trying to make the world a better place ... again ...
Citing anonymous military officials, The New York Times reports the Myanmar military has been using Facebook to push anti-Muslim sentiments that encouraged the country's Buddhist majority to rape and murder the Rohingya people. Facebook admits the military used its platform to kill hundreds of thousands of people in a campaign the UN has called "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing," but Facebook says it was only trying to make the world a better place. Oops.
There were 16 shots and a cover up.
Yesterday, a jury found Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke guilty of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm in the fatal 2014 shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Though the trial only lasted a month, it's a case that has left Chicago fractured for years. Activists responded to the verdict by marching downtown during rush hour, snarling traffic and scaring the crap out of tourists. After weeks of awful headlines, for once there's some good news.
They are talking about Donald Trump and his fraudy old dad!
STOP THE PRESSES! Donald Trump and his entire family are a pack of cheating grifters!
Okay, that's hardly news to anyone with an IQ above slime mold. But when the New York Times accuses the sitting president of tax fraud on a massive scale -- and doesn't call it, say, "skilled and lawyerly manipulation of a vague tax code" -- you know they've got the receipts. Here's the first line:
President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found.
GAME ON! Trump's asshole lawyer Charles Harder -- the one who shut down Gawker for Hulk Hogan and sued the Daily Mail for Melania -- can shout about defamation, and the family can shed crocodile tears about the honor of their dear, sweet, dead relatives.
The president's brother, Robert Trump, issued a statement on behalf of the Trump family:
"Our dear father, Fred C. Trump, passed away in June 1999. Our beloved mother, Mary Anne Trump, passed away in August 2000. All appropriate gift and estate tax returns were filed, and the required taxes were paid. Our father's estate was closed in 2001 by both the Internal Revenue Service and the New York State tax authorities, and our mother's estate was closed in 2004. Our family has no other comment on these matters that happened some 20 years ago, and would appreciate your respecting the privacy of our deceased parents, may God rest their souls."
But Times reporters David Barstow, Susanne Craig, and Russ Buettner got their hands on a whole stack of of Fred Trump's shady books, and they're stabbing a knife in whatever's left of Trump's nonsense about being a financial wizard who built a real estate empire using just his own Big Brain and Very Best Words.
You should read the article for its brilliant takedown of the myth of Donald Trump, Self-Made Billionaire. And Showtime has a documentary on the piece airing Sunday. But let's break down some of the more complicated financial bits here -- because Yr Wonkette is service-y like that.
Aunt Lydia ain't think to write no sci-ump-tific questions.
Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee did a pretty good job of rigging today's hearing on Christine Blasey Ford's allegations against SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh. No other witnesses, no subpoena for Mark Judge, nothing but the nominee and the accuser answering questions. Of course, they appear to have forgotten that Dr. Blasey brought her own expert witness with her: Dr. Christine Blasey Ford of Stanford and Palo Alto University, whose master's thesis was on the links between trauma and depression, and whose entire research career has focused on survivors of trauma and their resilience. So it should be no surprise that Dr. Blasey brought the science in her testimony today.
Don't go quietly, Mr. Rosenstein!
Is Rod Rosenstein about to get You're Fired when he meets with Donald Trump on Thursday? Well, since Axios and The Times are in timeout for the Rosenstein beat -- and they know what they did, Mister -- we're going with The Post, which predicts Mr. Peepers stays put until after the midterms. Which means that Jeff Sessions's chief of staff Matthew Whitaker can quit looking at carpet samples to redecorate Rod's office for a hot second.
Well, Whitaker is the guy slated to take over as acting Deputy Attorney General when Rosenstein finally gets the boot. And if we had to guess, Whitaker's the one who started all the trouble on Monday.
ENOUGH OF THIS BULLSHIT!
Gather 'round, kids! Let's talk about how institutions like Yale Law School spin a protective cocoon around powerful men like Judge Kavanaugh, forming mutually beneficial relationships to reinforce everyone's power and prestige.
Meet Amy Chua, professor at Yale Law School and author of the bestseller Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, in which she repurposes her own childhood trauma and sells it to Americans as this ONE WEIRD TRICK to ensure that your kids play at Carnegie Hall and go to an Ivy League college.
Spoiler alert, more than 16 people died!
Donald Trump really hates George Washington University's Hurricane Maria mortality report. Well, maybe not the report, because lord knows the orangutan with the mushroom dick didn't read it, like I did! It's 69 pages, he ain't got time for that! Pendejo hates the 2975 that is flashed all over the place as the official death toll. The fact is, the number is an estimate, not an actual count of for sure people who died because of the hurricane. Still, if he'd bother to read the report, rather than spend his time dyeing his Yeti pubes all night, he'd see that while it's an estimate, it's a pretty solid analysis. Shall we delve into the report, amigos? Claro que si!
We were always at war with East Asia.
On Wednesday the Trump administration issued an executive order announcing its intent to impose sanctions against any country caught screwing with US elections, and warned of additional sanctions over Russia's apparent use of chemical weapons. In response, a Russian troll farm laughed and wiped its ass with Trump's orders. This comes amid new reports that Russia made blazie threats of nuclear war to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis over a military buildup throughout Eastern Europe. Hopefully whoever wrote THE OP-ED doesn't have an itchy trigger finger.
Come for the Micro-Pig. Stay for SCIENCE.
First an anecdote from the early days of my biotech career. Sherman, set the way-back machine to the year 1999. Shakespeare in Love wins best picture. Napster debuts and so does the Euro. Back then I worked for one of the few "big" biotechs of that time and was part of the team that brought potential drug or company acquisitions to the executives for their review. This one particular time, we were pitching a drug that helped cystic fibrosis patients with their frequent infections. It didn't treat the underlying disease at all, but helped manage it. Everyone on the executive team thought it was a good drug to bring to our company, except for one of the founders. His comment was, "Cystic fibrosis? Gene therapy will cure it in five years!" We were one of the early companies looking at gene therapy to cure disease and had a fairly advanced program using gene therapy to target hemophilia. Guess what? It's 2018 and gene therapy hasn't cured cystic fibrosis. However, to paraphrase a certain cancer-causing company's ad, we've come a long way, baby.
So, what IS gene therapy? I'm glad you asked!
Gene therapy is a catch-all bucket for various technologies used to manipulate genes in various ways. The "therapy" part is when it's used to try and treat genetic diseases, but the techniques can be used in other fun ways! More on that later, but the headline IS a bit of a spoiler. Let's talk approaches first and then we can do a greatest hits of current targets for the approaches. Yes, there will be micro-pigs, or "marranitos."
What do you mean this isn't normal? Seems like everyday behavior these days.
So, some interesting developments in Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing, eh? It just looks like maybe Democrats on the Judiciary Committee have kind of caught him out in a few little instances of perjury in his 2004 and 2006 confirmation hearings for the DC Court of Appeals, his current job. Lying to Congress used to be kind of a major deal, but then, that was a long time ago, and the Republicans really, REALLY want to get this new guy on the Supreme Court so he can end abortion (and birth control!) and also investigations of Donald Trump, so let's not get too excited about the idea of a Supreme Court Justice who probably committed perjury, OK? Heck, they were only little lies about questions asked to him under oath, and surely we can overlook a bit of dishonesty in the name of Justice, huh? It's not like any of the lies involved his penis, after all. As far as we know.
Upholding the law by completely ignoring it.
The Trump administration has an exciting new plan to free itself from the oppressive hand of judicial oversight: All it has to do is write some new regulations and then it can detain entire migrant families forever! But wait, you might say, doesn't that Flores settlement say migrant children can only be held by ICE 20 days, and then they have to be released to family members or a sponsor? Well, sure it does, but there's a beautiful catch that might allow the New Cruelty to do whatever Stephen Miller wants, just maybe. After all, being in power means you can never be held responsible, doesn't it?
Are we all dead? Did Trump murder us with embarrassment?
Before we get down to making dick jokes about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), let's remind ourselves of the ground rules.
- Rule Number 1: Donald Trump thinks he's the yuuuuuugely bestest dealmaker in the world.
- Rule Number 2: Donald Trump is actually shit at negotiating deals.
"See if you can make a deal with Mexico," Trump barked.
Could at least be interesting to see how Trump mangles Afrikaans.
Within 48 hours of Paul Manafort's conviction and Michael Cohen's guilty plea -- which implicated Donald Trump in a felony -- Trump denied Cohen had even committed a crime. Then, yesterday, he jumped on the Distraction Express, dragging another bizarre obsession of the racist Right into national politics. This time it was South African land reform, or, as neo-Nazis like to frame it, the imminent threat of white genocide. So it makes perfect sense that Donald Trump's newest foreign policy priority is a talking point that literally has crossed over from Stormfront into the mainstream, because we are all living in hell now. Perhaps you noticed.
No health, no humanity, no service
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar took to the Washington Post's op-ed page Thursday to shill for Donald Trump's exciting new junk insurance plans that won't cover much of anything, but will have very low premiums. It's a load of bullshit, of course, but it sure has a nifty lying headline: "Obamacare forgot about you. But Trump didn't." All hail the Great Man for selling us "insurance" that insures very, very little -- it's the perfect coverage for people whose idea of "buying a car" is having an undrive-able hulk up on cinder blocks in the front yard.
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