The Papadopoulos indictment appears to prove that Trump campaign officials were in continual contact with Russian agents
On Monday, an unsealed indictment revealed President Trump's former foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, was charged with making false statements to federal agents and impeding the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Because federal investigations like Special Counsel Robert Mueller's tend to work inwards towards central figures, Papadopoulos' indictment is particularly of note because it includes references to other yet-unnamed campaign aides who were involved in conversations with Kremlin agents.
The timeline begins in early March 2016, when Papadopoulos signed on as a Trump campaign adviser. "Based on a conversation that took place on or about March 6, 2016, with a supervisory campaign official (the 'campaign supervisor'), defendant Papadopoulos understood that a principal foreign policy focus of the campaign was an improved U.S. relationship with Russia," the charges claim.
Later, after being offered "dirt" on Hillary Clinton by a character referred to as "the Professor," Papadopoulos emailed a "senior policy adviser" to say that there were "some interesting messages coming in from Moscow about a trip when the time is right." Then, in conversation between Papadopoulos and another "high-ranking campaign official," Papadopoulos wrote: "Russia has been eager to meet Mr. Trump for quite sometime and have been reaching out to me to discuss."
The official forwarded Papadopoulos' email to another unnamed campaign official and wrote: "Let's discuss. We need someone to communicate that DT is not doing these trips. It should be someone low level in the campaign as not to send any signal."
Another passage claims Papadopoulos attempted to arrange an "off the record" meeting between at least one campaign representative and "members of President Putin's office and the [Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs]." Papadopoulos also sent an email with the subject line "New message from Russia" to a high-ranking official.
Papadopoulos was arrested in July 2017 and has reportedly been cooperating with the FBI. Jeva Lange
Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who is accusing him of attempted rape at a house party in the early 1980s, Christine Blasey Ford, are both scheduled to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday — or at least that was the plan before The New Yorker published a second allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, this one from freshman year at Yale. In any case, Kavanaugh plans to give the Judiciary Committee calendars he kept in the summer of 1982, The New York Times reports, citing someone working for his confirmation.
The calendars "do not show a party consistent with the description of his accuser," the Times reports, but they also "do not disprove Dr. Blasey's allegations, Judge Kavanaugh's team acknowledged. He could have attended a party that he did not list." The calendars from June, July, and August show he was at the beach or with his parents many weekends, went to the movies, and did other teen activities, the Times says.
In 1982, Kavanaug was 17 and Ford 15. "Unusual for a teenager, Judge Kavanaugh seemed to keep track of his days even during summer vacation," the Times says. Some observers were confused that someone who kept such fastidious notes and held on to them for 36 years had such a poor memory and records about so many topics in his confirmation hearing. Lisa Birnbach, author of The Official Preppy Handbook, had a different problem with this new wrinkle:
Here is my ruling: Keg parties are too last- minute to have noted in a calendar. Calendar would have provided unwanted evidence of underage drinking for parents. Also no self-respecting 17 yr old preppy boy kept a calendar.
— Lisa Birnbach (@LisaBirnbach) September 23, 2018
"Sensitive to the potential backlash over questioning the credibility of a woman alleging sexual misconduct," the Times says, Kavanaugh "will not challenge her account of being assaulted but will argue that it was not him." Peter Weber
"Facebook has been in the news a lot recently over concerns about everything, from privacy to fake news to Russian trolls, but tonight we're actually going to go in a different direction," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight: Facebook's "behavior overseas." More than half of Facebook's revenue and 80 percent of its users now come from outside the U.S.
Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, have aggressively pushed the "utopian" idea that connecting billions of people around the world is an unvarnished good, Oliver noted, but "it's important to remember that when it comes to the internet, a certain number of those people are then going to say 'Jews control sharks who did 9/11!' and you really have to think that through. Unfortunately, thinking things through has never really been Facebook's strong point." In fact, he said, Facebook "has made some hugely consequential mistakes overseas, and that's what tonight's story is about."
Oliver pointed to a few examples but focused mostly on Myanmar, where Facebook is ubiquitous on smartphones — and the company has been very slow in policing its posts for violence-inciting posts against the minority Muslim Rohingya community by military leaders, politicians, and especially a Buddhist monk so hateful he's been called the "Burmese bin Laden." One teacher in Myanmar compared Facebook to a toilet, but Oliver said that's unfair, because "there is a purity and integrity to toilets that Facebook seriously lacks."
Until Facebook fixes this, he said, "it is painfully obvious everyone should be treating everything on their site with extreme skepticism and see Facebook for what it actually is: A fetid swamp of mistruths and outright lies interspersed with the occasional reminder of a dead pet. That's it." While his audience gasped, Oliver played his own version of a Facebook commercial. There is NSFW language throughout, plus mildly disturbing verbal imagery about Care Bears and sex. Watch below. Peter Weber
Brett Kavanaugh is historically unpopular, and more voters believe Christine Ford, Fox News poll finds
Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nominator wasn't very popular before Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that he tried to rape her in high school in the early 1980s. Now, half of all voters oppose his confirmation while only 40 percent want him elevated to the highest court, according to a new Fox News poll. (In the previous Fox News poll, Aug. 19-21, voters were split, 46 percent opposing, 45 percent in favor.) The 50 percent opposition is the worst number for a Supreme Court nominee in Fox News polling dating back to 2005.
More voters believe Ford, 36 percent, than Kavanaugh, 30 percent, with 34 percent unsure who to believe, the poll found. There is a significant gender gap: Women believe Ford over Kavanaugh by 10 percentage points, and suburban women by 17 points, but men also believe Ford over Kavanaugh by a narrow 1 point. There's also a predictable partisan split, and a stark divide by education level: Voters with college educations believe Ford by a 14-point margin and those without a degree believe Kavanaugh by 17 points.
Support for Kavanaugh has dropped across the board, Fox News' pollsters found: 12 points among independents, 11 points among suburban women, 5 points among men, 4 points among Republicans, 10 points among voters under 45, and 11 points among voters in counties where the 2016 margin between President Trump and Hillary Clinton was 10 points or less.
Democratic polling firm Anderson Robbins Research and GOP pollsters Shaw & Company Research jointly conducted the Fox News poll Sept. 16-19, contacting 1,003 registered voters by phone. The poll has an overall margin of sampling error of ±3 points, and ±4 points for items related to Ford's allegations, polled Sept. 17-19. Peter Weber
Scrabble just got a little easier, with the addition of 300 new words to the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.
Merriam-Webster is releasing the sixth edition of the dictionary on Monday, with emoji, facepalm, ew, OK, twerk, sheeple, sriracha, and yowza among the new words. Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large at Merriam-Webster, told The Guardian "OK is something Scrabble players have been waiting for, for a long time. Basically two- and three-letter words are the lifeblood of the game."
Another game-changer is qapik, a unit of currency in Azerbaijan. "Every time there's a word with q and no u, it's a big deal," Sokolowski said. "Most of these are obscure." Merriam-Webster updates the official dictionary every four to eight years, and this time, the lexiconographers checked with the North American Scrabble Players Association on the words they thought should be included. Catherine Garcia
Cody Wilson, whose controversial company sells blueprints for 3D-printed firearms, was booked into Harris County Jail in Houston on Sunday and is being held on $150,000 bond on charges that he had sex with a 16-year-old girl in Austin, the U.S. Marshals Service says. Police in Austin say Wilson, 30, fled to Taiwan after being tipped off by a friend of the girl that police were investigating the incident. He was arrested in Taiwan on Friday. "We are glad that Cody is back in Texas again where we can work with him on his case," Wilson's lawyer Samy Khalil said Sunday night. "That’s our focus right now."
Police say Wilson paid the underage girl $500 for sex after meeting her on the website SugarDaddyMeet. If convicted of sexual assault, Wilson would, among other things, be barred from possessing firearms. Peter Weber
They don't call Bob Williams of Long Grove, Iowa, the "Candy Man" for nothing.
Every day, the 94-year-old retired high school teacher and World War II veteran passes out Hershey's chocolate bars to people he meets around town. He got the idea 15 years ago, after reading in the newspaper about random acts of kindness and paying it forward. He has always eaten half a chocolate bar every day, and started buying a few extra to hand out to people he comes across during the day. Over the last 15 years, Williams has given out more than 6,000 candy bars. "You'd think I'd given them keys to a new car," he told the Des Moines Register. "Honest to God, these people were thunderstruck."
Williams keeps his refrigerator stocked with the candy bars and also buys two cases a week. His wife of 69 years, Mary Elizabeth, died six years ago, and he visits her memorial bench every day, where he always hands out a chocolate. Over the years, just three people have declined his gift, he told the Register. "One was a little girl in the store with her dad," he said. "On the way out, I complimented her father for training her right — to suspect old men." Catherine Garcia
On Sunday evening, just as The New Yorker published an article by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer with a second allegation of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Democratic lawyer Michael Avenatti said on Twitter he represents a third "woman with credible information regarding Judge Kavanaugh and Mark Judge," Kavanaugh's high school friend and alleged witness to what Christine Blasey Ford says was an attempted rape in the early 1980s. Avenatti dropped some clues about the ugly and salacious nature of the allegations on Twitter and said he has "specific evidence" that Kavanaugh and Judge "would participate in the targeting of women with alcohol/drugs" for sex in high school. He did not provide any proof.
Avenatti told Politico he represents a group of individuals who can corroborate allegations involving Kavanaugh and Judge, but he would describe just one of his clients as a victim. "I represent multiple clients, they are witnesses" to events "not out of character from what Dr. Ford said," Avenatti told Politico. "They went to schools in the same general areas. These house parties were widely attended." Kavanaugh and Judge have denied or said they have no recollection of specific allegations and general sexual misconduct.
Does Avenatti really have the goods? For what it's worth, he kicked things off with a pre-emptive warning: "I do not bluff. I deliver." Which, whatever you think of Avenatti, he mostly has in the showdown between his client Stormy Daniels and President Trump and his former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Peter Weber