On September 9 — just last week — President Trump unveiled his shortlist of candidates to tap for the Supreme Court should a vacancy open up under his presidency.
With Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death Friday night, he now has that opportunity.
The Trump White House and his allies in the Senate have spent years preparing for the next Supreme Court vacancy.
Indeed, the judicial selection process may be the one professional and highly competent operation in this administration. Trump has filled the bench with fairly young, impressively credentialed ideologues who will reliably cast very conservative votes if appointed to the Supreme Court, and his Supreme Court shortlist reflects that work. Half of the names that Trump just announced are people he previously appointed to a lower court, and several more are individuals he’s appointed to non-judicial roles.
And it doesn’t actually matter all that much which specific name Trump chooses from his list — or whether he ultimately decides to go off-list. Though Trump has kept his promise to only name Supreme Court justices from a prereleased list, he frequently adds new names to it. Neither of Trump’s Supreme Court appointees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, was on the original list Trump first released in 2016, but were added in subsequent iterations.
What all the names on the list have in common — both old and new — is that they were vetted by Trump’s team (and often by the conservative Federalist Society) to ensure that they are reliable conservatives.
That said, there is one important divide among the names on Trump’s list.
Some, such as former Solicitor General Paul Clement or Fourth Circuit Judge Allison Jones Rushing, are solid conservatives who aren’t known for over-the-top, Trumpy rhetoric. Others, such as Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-MO), and Tom Cotton (R-AR) are politicians who spent their time in Congress flaunting their conservative bona fides and enraging Democrats. Still others, such as Fifth Circuit Judges James Ho and Kyle Duncan, are sitting judges who take the same trolly approach as Cruz, Hawley, and Cotton, but do so from the bench.
The biggest mystery, in other words, is not what the next potential Trump nominee to the Supreme Court might believe, it’s whether Trump would pick someone with a professional demeanor — or choose a professional troll.
Who is on Trump’s list?
The 20-name list Trump released last week augments an existing list of 25 names that he has released gradually.
Most of the names on both lists possess many of the elite credentials one would expect to find in a Supreme Court nominee. Close to half of the individuals on the new list clerked on the Supreme Court shortly after graduating from law school. And, though the lists include a few politicians like the three senators mentioned above and Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, both lists are dominated by sitting judges — including many Trump appointees.
Judge Amy Coney Barrett, of the Seventh Circuit, is a prominent Trump appointee on both lists. She was favored by religious conservatives for Trump’s previous Court pick, perceived as potentially more likely to allow restrictions on abortions than Brett Kavanaugh.
Because so many Trump appointees make the list, many of these judges have not served long enough to develop substantial records on the bench. But several of the names on Trump’s new list will raise deep concerns among Democrats.
Judge James Ho has spent his not even three years on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit writing opinions that read like something published by Breitbart. His very first judicial opinion was a sweeping attack on campaign finance laws — and it included an entirely gratuitous swipe at the Affordable Care Act. Ho argued that “if you don’t like big money in politics, then you should oppose big government in our lives,” and he cited the Supreme Court’s decision largely upholding Obamacare to drive home his point.
Ho has also railed against the “moral tragedy of abortion” in an opinion where he accused a fellow federal judge of retaliating “against people of faith for not only believing in the sanctity of life—but also for wanting to do something about it.”
Ho’s Fifth Circuit colleague Kyle Duncan, meanwhile, spent much of his pre-judicial career litigating against LGBTQ rights and the right to vote. As a judge, he’s best known for an opinion where he spent more than 10 pages explaining why he insists on referring to a transgender woman using masculine pronouns.
Ninth Circuit Judge Lawrence VanDyke is a particularly surprising addition to Trump’s list because VanDyke’s nomination to the federal bench was panned by the American Bar Association due to concerns that VanDyke is too lazy to do the job.
“Mr. VanDyke’s accomplishments are offset by the assessments of interviewees that Mr. VanDyke is arrogant, lazy, an ideologue, and lacking in knowledge of the day-to-day practice including procedural rules,” the ABA explained in a scathing letter deeming him unqualified for the federal bench. The ABA’s investigation found that VanDyke “lacks humility, has an ‘entitlement’ temperament, does not have an open mind, and does not always have a commitment to being candid and truthful.”
It’s unclear why Trump loyalists would want to see someone appointed to the Supreme Court who may lack the temperament and the work ethic to do the job well.
That said, VanDyke is an outlier on Trump’s list. For the most part, the nearly four dozen names Trump has suggested as possible Supreme Court nominees are diligent and highly talented lawyers. They just also happen to be lawyers who are eager to move the law sharply to the right.
The White House’s judicial selection process is the most professional operation in the Trump administration
To his many critics, “Donald Trump” is a name practically synonymous with goonish incompetence. But Trump’s judicial selection operation is nothing like that. It is both efficient and highly effective in identifying reliable conservative ideologues with sterling legal resumes.
In less than four years as president, Trump has appointed 201 lawyers to lifetime appointments on the federal bench, including 53 to powerful seats on the United States Courts of Appeal. By contrast, President Obama appointed only 55 appellate judges during his eight years as president.
One reason for this disparity is that Senate Republicans, led by McConnell, imposed a near-total blockade on appeals court confirmations during Obama’s final two years in the White House. That meant that Trump has effectively been able to fill all the appeals court vacancies that arose during his presidency, plus nearly all the vacancies that should have been filled in Obama’s last two years in office.
Trump’s judges, moreover, are quite young. “The average age of circuit judges appointed by President Trump is less than 50 years old,” the Trump White House bragged in November of 2019, “a full 10 years younger than the average age of President Obama’s circuit nominees.” And a large percentage of them have amassed impressive credentials such as Supreme Court clerkships and other government jobs of great influence.
All of this is a reason for liberals to be more afraid of Trump’s judges — and potential justices — than if Trump were picking undistinguished hacks to fill the bench. Judges of great ability are far more likely to find innovative ways to reshape the law than incompetents and mediocrities.
Moreover, Trump is filling the bench with some of the Federalist Society’s brightest minds at the very moment when the judiciary is gaining power relative to the other branches. As I wrote several months ago in a piece laying out Trump’s impact on the bench:
In an age of legislative dysfunction, whoever controls the courts controls the country. In the past decade or so — or more precisely, since Republicans took over the House in 2011 — Congress has been barely functional. You can count on one hand — and possibly on just a few fingers — the major legislation it has enacted.
Judges, by contrast, have become the most consequential policymakers in the nation. They have gutted America’s campaign finance law and dismantled much of the Voting Rights Act. They have allowed states to deny health coverage to millions of Americans. They’ve held that religion can be wielded as a sword to cut away the rights of others. They’ve drastically watered down the federal ban on sexual harassment. And that barely scratches the surface.
If Trump gets to replace a liberal justice, this practice of judicial policymaking will only accelerate. Environmental regulations are likely to be dismantled en masse. Voting rights will be hollowed out even more. Obamacare could be struck down. And, perhaps most significantly, purely partisan Republican arguments will gain even more purchase in the Supreme Court.
Anyone Trump names to the Supreme Court, if Trump’s allowed to do so, is likely to push the law relentlessly to the right.
NEVER-before-seen photographs capture Jeffrey Epstein’s life on his private Caribbean island with scantily dressed young women he allegedly demanded sex from several times a day.
Epstein is pictured driving a jet ski with a woman wearing a bikini hugging him to hold on.
Locals referred to Little St James as “pedophile” and “orgy” island because of Epstein’s perverted interactions with women there.
An anonymous source who went to the island claimed Epstein watched topless college girls on Girls Gone Wild while he exercised on a bike because they served as “inspiration.”
He was reportedly engrossed with videos of girls bearing their breasts at bars and clubs.
In one photo taken on the island, Epstein wears a white robe and appears to be doing work, while a blonde woman sits next to him.
Another shot shows Epstein going on a hike with three women who are not identified.
The woman photographed on the jet ski is Epstein’s associate Sarah Kellen, 41, who worked for him for a decade and was apparently “second in command” after the financier’s madam Ghislaine Maxwell.
Meanwhile, the woman sitting by his side while he worked is Yugoslavian model Nadia Marcinkova.
It is not known when the pictures were taken.
The source described the island as having the “best of the best” amenities for the women, including clothing, decor and food.
“The bedrooms were like your ideal Caribbean bungalow that you would find in a five star hotel suite.
The linens were crisp and thick. Super high end. Best quality everything,” the source told the Daily Mail.
The $7.95M home and the island were “paradise and idyllic,” the source said, “but then on the opposite spectrum the dark side was just as extreme.”
Surrounding the home were various hiking trails and the island had bungalows and cabins with beds
Until recently the biggest source of global conflict had to do with energy, oil, and gas resources, but today data is more valuable, and much more disruptive. The bits and bytes of the information revolution are, it turns out, are disruptive economically and geopolitically. In The Economist’s words highlighting this tectonic shift: “Data are to this century what oil was to the last one: a driver of growth and change.” That change is coming swiftly, and — in the coming years — violently.
Governments are slow to recognize this fact. It is nonetheless jumping out and slapping them in the face. Data can be captured, mined, processed and sold — it can also be routed, rerouted, ’listened’ to and stolen. Nord Stream 2 and the conflict between Russia and Europe gets all the attention, but there is another — digital — conflict between Russia and one of its smallest neighbors that is just as important and is getting nobody’s attention. The Regional Digital Hub connecting Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan and – through its Georgian properties — on to Europe is a transformational project creating hope, and potentially stability, in a troubled region. Russia is doing everything it can to block the project. Why? Because it allows five former Soviet States to bypass Russia with their incredibly powerful bits and bytes of data, connecting directly to Europe.
The project connects Europe with Kazakhstan, through Georgia and Azerbaijan, with a spur through Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. In bypassing Russia, the project gives the entire region data autonomy, and the opportunity of developing its own data businesses. Russia has identified the weakest spot in this data network, and prior to Georgia’s October 21st parliamentary elections, it is putting heavy pressure on Georgia’s National Communications Commission to annul the sale of Georgia’s assets to the developer of the project, NEQSOL Holding, a group from neighboring Azerbaijan that bought the Georgian properties with permission from Georgia’s government.
What role are the U.S. and the EU playing in protecting their ally, Georgia? As one local observer notes, “the U.S. government is MIA on this [issue].” He goes on to say “what is unique about this is that it isn’t just Georgia that suffers in this but every country involved in the deal.” By the way, the deepwater port of Anaklia, another large Georgian infrastructure project that threatened Russia — and that has U.S. investors — was also torpedoed by Moscow, without any condemnation from the U.S.
Two facts stand out. First, the U.S. has spent more than 20 years aggressively supporting Georgia and Georgian independence. Why back off now at such a critical moment, on an issue in which we have all the power and influence in the world? Second, in the emerging data economy the U.S. and the EU are superpowers, and Russia (along with North Korea and Iran) are spoilers, provocateurs. Shouldn’t the U.S. aggressively support the right of nations to develop this resource?
North Korea may soon conduct its first underwater-launched ballistic missile test in about a year, a top South Korean military official said Wednesday, amid long-stalled nuclear talks between the North and the United States.
In written remarks to lawmakers ahead of a confirmation hearing, Won In-choul, the nominee for chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said North Korea has been repairing recent typhoon damage at its northeastern Sinpo shipyard, a place where it builds submarines.
Shortly after the repairs are complete, there is a chance it will carry out a submarine-launched ballistic missile test, Won said. He said South Korea’s military is keeping a close watch on developments there, according to a copy of his remarks provided by a lawmaker, Kang Dae-sik.
In recent years, North Korea has been pushing hard to acquire the ability to launch missiles from submarines in what experts say is a worrying development because such weapons are difficult to detect before launch. A test of an underwater-launched missile by North Korea last October was the first of its kind in three years, and the most provocative weapons test since North Korea entered nuclear negotiations with the U.S. in 2018.
The nuclear talks have made little headway since the second summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump in Vietnam in early 2019 collapsed due to disputes over U.S.-led sanctions against North Korea.
Jung Changwook, head of the private Korea Defense Study Forum in Seoul, said North Korea could perform a submarine-launched ballistic missile, or SLBM, test to upgrade its nuclear attack capability and put pressure on Washington after the U.S. presidential election in early November.
There has been speculation that North Korea may test such a missile before the anniversary of the founding of its ruling Workers’ Party on Oct. 10. Jung said that is possible, but stressed that North Korea is aiming more at pressuring the U.S. rather than celebrating its state anniversary.
Some experts say it’s unlikely that North Korea will conduct any major weapons test soon because it is grappling with multiple crises, including typhoon damage, the coronavirus pandemic that led to the closure of its border with China — its biggest trading partner — and harsh U.S.-led sanctions.
Foreign experts say past North Korean underwater-launched missile tests were conducted from a submersible barge with a single launch tube, not a functioning submarine. In July 2019, North Korean state media said Kim inspected a newly built submarine which observers said appeared to be the North’s most sophisticated model with several launch tubes.
Jung said the possible upcoming test would also be made from the barge, not the new submarine, to not provoke the United States too much.
According to 38 North, a website specializing in North Korea studies, recent satellite images of the Sinpo shipyard show the repositioning or departure of the submersible test barge. It said the barge’s location “may signal an impending SLBM test though conducting such a launch on the heels of a destructive typhoon seems unlikely.” It said the barge may have been moved somewhere for repairs.
Jung said a missile fired from the barge would have a potential range of 300-500 kilometers (185-310 miles), thus posing no direct threat to the U.S. mainland. Despite the deadlocked nuclear talks, North Korea hasn’t conducted nuclear or long-range missile tests in an apparent bid to keep chances for a resumption of diplomacy alive.
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The director of hits like “Knocked Up” and “Anchorman” sat down for an interview for MSNBC’s “Mavericks with Ari Melber” in which he briefly touched upon the “chilling” idea that corporations linked to the filmmaking industry are so reliant on capital from markets like China that they’re unwilling to allow anything critical of the country to make their way onto the screen.
“For me what I perceive as more chilling is a corporate type of censorship that people don’t really notice, which is a lot of these giant corporate entities have business with countries around the world, Saudi Arabia, China, and they’re just not going to criticize them and they’re not going to let their shows criticize them or they’re not going to air documentaries that go deep into truthful areas because they just make so much money,” he explained. “So, while we’re all going, ‘can we say this joke or not say that joke?’ on a much bigger level, they’ve just completely shut down critical content about human rights abuses in China. And I think that’s much scarier.”
Apatow was recently one of the vocal critics of Disney’s “Mulan,” which caught backlash after it came to light that parts were filmed in the Xinjiang province, which has been the epicenter of a debate about how China treats its Muslim minorities. Many Uighur residents have been detained in internment camps where they are reportedly subject to forced political indoctrination, forced labor and forced sterilization.
“It is shameful that no US companies and very few politicians speak up about concentration camps in China,” he tweeted shortly after “Mulan” was released on Disney+. “The United States has abandoned the world when it comes to human rights.”
In his MSNBC interview, Apatow went on to accuse studios of killing stories critical of China or other countries where business is done with U.S. corporations in the pitch phase.
“‘Hey I want to write a movie about the concentration camps in China, and the Muslims in concentration camps. I want to write a movie about someone who escapes,’ no one would buy the pitch,” he explained. “Instead of us doing business with China and that leading to China becoming more free, what has happened is a place like China has bought our silence with their money.”
The seven “comrades” — including wealthy Upper East Sider Clara Kraebber — had their mugshots tweeted out by the NYPD early Wednesday, days after their arrests for smashing storefront windows in the Flatiron District.
They were cuffed during a protest organized by the Panthers and the Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement groups condemning the death of Daniel Prude, who was killed while in custody of the Rochester Police Department in March.
Aside from Kraebber, the redhead daughter of an architect and a child psychiatrist with a second home in Connecticut, five of the others arrested appear to also come from privileged backgrounds — leading one police source to call their actions “the height of hypocrisy.”
Frank Fuhrmeister, 30, of Stuyvesant Heights, charged with rioting and possession of a graffiti instrument, is a freelance art director who’s designed ads for Joe Coffee and has also worked for Pepsi, Samsung and The Glenlivet, among other high-profile brands, his LinkedIn profile and portfolio show.
He studied fine arts with a concentration in photography at Florida State College in Jacksonville, according to his LinkedIn, and his most recent address is a stately home on Reed Island Drive in the city’s tony Beacon Hills and Harbour Neighborhood, public records show.
Calls to Fuhrmeister went unreturned.
Adi Sragovich, 20, is a student at Sarah Lawrence College from Great Neck, LI, according to police and her family.
The young activist lost her phone during the rowdy weekend protests and promptly called up her mother, who “made arrangements” to replace the cellphone right away, her mom told The Post.
“She hasn’t been terribly in touch, she’s been off doing her own thing,” said Sragovich’s mom, Susan Jacobowitz, an English professor at Queensborough Community College.
“I kept thinking I would get a call from the hospital or she’d get arrested because it seems like it’s just dangerous times right now,” Jacobowitz, who didn’t know her daughter was arrested, told The Post.
“At least she’s not on Rikers!” she said.
Before joining the protest, Sragovich was an accomplished musician who spent time performing in local theater groups and at the Sea Cliff Yacht Club, according to the Great Neck Record, which photographed her during a 2017 show.
The article quotes her teacher saying “how impressed she was” with Sragovich, who performed “from her extensive repertoire of jazz numbers.”
In 2018, while a senior at Great Neck High School, Sragovich organized a walkout at the school following the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, according to The Island Now.
“It really invigorated me. I feel like my generation is finally coming into its moment,” Sragovich told the outlet at the time. “Unfortunately, that power comes from the fact we’re the ones being hunted and killed.”
Most recently, Sragovich in July was at Occupy City Hall, where she spent time fixing sandwiches and plastic bags of granola for breakfast, according to the New York Times, which interviewed her.
Sragovich has been charged with rioting and did not respond to a request for comment.
Claire Severine, 27, who lives in Washington Heights and was charged with rioting, appears to be a signed model with the We Speak agency who had the ability to jet among Montreal, Quebec and Dublin, Ireland, before settling in the Big Apple to “pursue a career in acting,” according to a modeling profile with the same name.
“Claire has always had a profound respect for nature and enjoys hiking, photographing these hikes, and trying to get other people excited about our wonderful planet!” her modeling profile gushes.
“She believes beauty can be found everywhere and in everybody, if you just look around.”
Severine, who lives on Audubon Avenue, could not be reached for comment.
Etkar Surette, a 27-year-old from Brooklyn who summered in Europe as a kid, is charged with rioting and possession of a graffiti instrument.
When approached for comment at his Prospect Park South apartment Wednesday, Surette barked, “I don’t want to talk to you. You can go away,” and slammed the door in a reporter’s face.
Elliot Rucka, a 20-year-old from Portland, Oregon, charged with rioting, is the son of famed comic book writers Greg Rucka and Jennifer Van Meter, according to his father’s online bio.
Greg penned the comic book series “The Old Guard,” which he then adapted for a Netflix film of the same name — and co-created the “Stumptown” comic series that ABC optioned into a TV show last year.
Calls to Rucka and his family went unreturned.
Joaquín ‘El Chapo‘ Guzmán admitted the only addiction he ever suffered from was ‘women’ and that he was the father of 23 children.
The revelations were made during a tell all interview with renown criminologist Mónica Ramírez Cano after Mexican security forces had captured the fugitive co-founder of the Sinaloa Cartel.
Ramírez Cano, who in the past profiled some of Mexico most infamous drug lords, shared a five-second clip of the interview session that was recorded in 2016.
She sat across from El Chapo and asked ‘what have you liked the most Joaquín?’ before the recording came to an abrupt end.
The complete interview session was never uploaded.
Ramírez Cano, who posted the video on social media Monday, said she asked El Chapo ‘what are you addictions?’ to which the jailed drug lord then replied, ‘none, my only addiction are the women.’
The 63-year-old reportedly has been been married four times.
He first got married in 1977 to Alejandrina María Salazar Hernández, with whom he had four children, including César, Iván Archivaldo, Jesús Alfredo and Alejandrina Giselle. He then married bank clerk bank clerk, Estela Peña, but did not have any children with her.
El Chapo’s third marriage came in the mid-1980s when he tied the knot with Griselda López Pérez, the mother of Édgar, Joaquín Jr., Ovidio and Griselda Guadalupe.
His fourth and last marriage came in 2007 when he said yes to former beauty queen Emma Coronel, who in August 2011 gave birth to the couple’s twin daughters, Maria Joaquina and Emali Guadalupe.
According to Infobae, Ramírez Cano possesses a ‘normal IQ’ although he proved to be utterly astute in carving out a successful yet illicit career as the mastermind behind a criminal syndicate whose influence stretched out across the globe.
‘He is a respectful person, takes great care of manners, cordial, kind, very reserved, but when you establish trust you can talk with him in an extraordinary way, which allows you to know how his mind operates,’ Ramírez Cano said.
During the interview, El Chapo opened up about how he opposed the kidnapping tactics used by many a cartel, which he considered to be the worst crime that could be committed.
Guzmán also said that people became drug user because they simply wanted to do it.
El Chapo, who is serving a life sentence at a supermax penitentiary in Colorado, reportedly made $12.6 billion as the cartel’s chief, money which federal New York prosecutors stressed should be turned.
‘He is not a psychopath. He has psychopathic traits and narcissistic traits that are reflected in a need for admiration, to feel unique and special,’ Ramírez Cano said.
‘What he has is a very important strategic capacity. He knows who to put in the right place, who to remove and how to move his pieces, like in a chess game.’
An appeal filed on last Friday argues that a judge made rulings allowing a jury to hear faulty evidence at Guzmán’s trial.
It also cites reports that before reaching a guilty verdict, some jurors sought out news accounts about sex abuse allegations against him that were barred from the trial.
‘Chapo Guzmán’s prosecution was marred by rampant excess and overreach, both governmental and judicial – needless resorts if he was really the kingpin extraordinaire his adversaries insisted,’ Guzmán’s lawyers said in the 245-page appeal, which was presented to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York.
Iran said it had warned U.S. aircraft to keep away from military drills its holding over three days in a large maritime region reaching from the Persian Gulf to the northern Indian Ocean.
Military spokesman Commodore Shahram Irani said foreign manned and unmanned aircraft had been cautioned on Wednesday to avoid the exercises taking place over 2 million square kilometers of ocean, state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
The area lies to the east of the Strait of Hormuz, a major choke point for oil shipments.
Iran and the U.S. are locked in a dispute over Tehran’s nuclear program and regional role. The Trump administration left the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions two years ago, raising tensions that have on occasion sparked fears of another war in the region, including over attacks on Gulf shipping.
Irani said Iran’s military had witnessed increased activity by U.S. drones in the exercise area, and the aircraft had “changed their behavior” after receiving the warning, IRNA said.
The drills will involve warships, submarines, aircraft and a domestically produced drone, the Tasnim news agency said.
In a separate report, it said Iran would also join military exercises in southern Russia later this month, along with forces from China and several other countries.
The Pentagon is planning a 2024 showdown between an F-16 piloted by a human and one controlled by artificial intelligence, a man versus machine matchup that military officials believe could represent a key turning point in technological development.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the 2024 contest during a speech on AI development Wednesday at the Pentagon. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, already has held numerous combat simulations between human pilots and machines.
In the most recent round, officials said the AI-controlled system easily defeated the human.
“The AI agent’s resounding victory demonstrated the ability of advanced algorithms to out-perform humans in virtual dogfights,” Mr. Esper said. “These simulations will culminate in a real-world competition involving full-scale tactical aircraft in 2024.”
AI development is central to the Pentagon’s 21st-century battle plan. While it may be frightening to see machines top highly trained pilots, military officials argue that China and other global competitors are pouring billions of dollars into their own AI development programs, and the U.S must keep pace.
Still, Mr. Esper stressed that machines cannot and will not fully replace flesh and blood.
“To be clear, AI’s role in our lethality is to support human decision-makers, not replace them,” he said. “We see AI as a tool to free up resources, time, and manpower so our people can focus on higher priority tasks, and arrive at the decision point, whether in a lab or on the battlefield, faster and more precise than the competition.”
R. Kelly’s appeal to be released on bail ahead of his trial was denied by an appeals court Tuesday.