SF Gate – National security adviser John Bolton met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday in a prelude to a long-anticipated summit with President Donald Trump that is looking increasingly likely.
Putin warmly greeted Bolton in a grand oval meeting hall at the Kremlin, flanked by statues of Russian czars set before lime-painted walls.
Putin opened the meeting by repeating to Bolton his frequent contention that U.S.-Russian relations are in a poor state in large part because of the domestic political environment in the United States.
“Your visit here to Moscow inspires hope that we will be able to take first steps to restore full-fledged relations between Russia and the United States,” Putin said. “Russia never sought confrontation, and I hope that today we will be able to talk about what we can do from both sides in order to restore full-fledged relations on the foundation of equality and of respect for each other’s interests.”
AP – – Washington’s chilly reaction to Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s election victory and consolidation of his presidential powers reflect expectations that no thaw in US-Turkish ties is imminent.
Erdogan’s position as Turkey’s leader remains strong, but his parliamentary majority now depends not just on his own AKP party but also on the nationalist MHP — no friend to America.
So in the medium term, despite opposition gains, he will have little room to compromise on the long list of issues that have hurt ties with NATO and with US President Donald Trump’s administration.
And in particular, Erdogan is now even less likely to bend on his key beef with Washington: Turkey’s determined opposition to the Pentagon’s continued support for Kurdish militia inside Syria.
AFP – French President Emmanuel Macron held an “intense” meeting with Pope Francis during his first official visit to the Vatican on Tuesday, discussing global issues including the fate of migrants coming to Europe.
U.S. News, Politics & Government
New York Times – he House resoundingly rejected a far-reaching immigration overhaul on Wednesday, despite a last-minute plea from President Trump, as internal divisions in the Republican ranks continued to hobble legislative efforts to protect the young unauthorized immigrants known as Dreamers.
The 121-301 votes was an embarrassment to both Mr. Trump and House Republican leaders, who had spent weeks trying to bring together Republican hard-liners and immigration moderates — and ended up alienating many in both camps. In the end, nearly as many Republicans voted against the bill as for it.
USA Today – Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring, giving President Trump and Senate Republicans an opportunity to create a solidly conservative court that could last for decades.
Kennedy’s long-rumored decision to step down July 31 will touch off a titanic battle between conservatives and liberals in the nation’s capital, on the airwaves, and in states represented by key senators whose votes will be needed to confirm his successor.
Kennedy, 81, has held the most important seat on the court for more than a decade: He is the swing vote on issues ranging from abortion and affirmative action to gay rights and capital punishment, often siding with the court’s more liberal justices.
Alternet – While Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was expected to do well, her remarkably strong showing will likely shock party leaders.
In perhaps the most dramatic example this cycle of the force of progressive politics, high-ranking Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) lost his primary race Tuesday night to the upstart Democratic Socialist candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The 28-year-old Ocasio-Cortez had been recognized as a strong candidate, but the conventional wisdom still favored Crowley, a longtime Queens lawmaker and the county’s part chair.
“This is shocking,” said New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman. Referring to the upcoming New York governor’s race, she said the upset “will leave Cuomo, who was already sweating Nixon, rattled.”
Todd Starnes – East Central University said they will remove crosses, Bibles and other religious symbols from a campus chapel to appease a bunch of out-of-town agitators.
It’s unclear when the Oklahoma school will commence with the Christian cleansing of the Kathryn P. Boswell Memorial Chapel. The chapel opened in 1957.
“We will continue to use the building as we always have, for all faiths,” ECU President Katricia Pierson said in a statement to the Ada News. “We do not want to presume to embrace one faith over another. We support all cultures and attempt to make them comfortable when they are here.”
The university’s president went on to say they are “looking at the feasibility of removing the cross on the steeple, but need to respond to the request for removal of religious icons from the chapel.”
“We are exploring options for preserving the items,” she said.
Breitbart – Twitter censored a call for bipartisan civility from former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, labeling it as “sensitive content.”
In response to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ expulsion from the Red Hen restaurant in Virginia, Fleischer posted, “I guess we’re heading into an America with Democrat-only restaurants, which will lead to Republican-only restaurants. Do the fools who threw Sarah out, and the people who cheer them on, really want us to be that kind of country?”
Lexington businesses denounce Red Hen owner Stephanie Wilkinson Fellowship of the Minds – On Friday night, June 23, 2018, The Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, VA, became infamous when its co-owner Stephanie Wilkinson — who is also the director of Main Street Lexington, a civic organization that promotes the city’s businesses — booted out White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who was accompanied by her in-laws.
Historic Downtown Lexington Virginia (HDLV) Formal Statement:
We do not condone the actions of Stephanie Wilkinson owner of the Red Hen Restaurant and Director of Main Street Lexington.
She has embarrassed our town and has given Lexington a bad reputation. So many people are upset and the negative impact and nasty backlash towards our little community is downright appalling.
Our town is actually a wonderful place. Please do not condemn us for one persons [sic] action.
On Tuesday, June 26, Stephanie Wilkinson resigned from her role as Executive Director of Main Street Lexington.
The Gateway Pundit – Liberals call Trump and conservatives who support him “Nazis” and “Hitler.” Which as I pointed out in my last column is wrong, reckless, and bordering on insanity. Hitler and the Nazis killed 6 million Jews and tens of millions of others in WWII. Nothing compares to Hitler or Nazis. To make that comparison is obscene.
But it is ironic that Democrats and liberals are the ones who are closest to acting like Nazis. If not Nazis, they sure are acting like the mafia. Or murdering street thugs. Or “domestic terrorists.” Take your pick.
Liberals are purposely demonizing, intimidating and persecuting people whose politics they disagree with. They are inciting violence. And this is no joke: They are going to get someone killed. Whether it’s a Republican politician, or an ICE agent, or just a conservative in the wrong place, at the wrong time, wearing a red Trump MAGA hat. As sure as I’m sitting here, someone is going to kill a conservative based on this violent rhetoric.
Paul Joseph Watson – According to University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Harlan Reynolds, civil war in America has “already begun”.
In an op-ed for USA Today entitled Is America headed toward a civil war? Sanders, Nielsen incidents show it has already begun, Reynolds argues that the actions of Hollywood and the left in general signify that such a scenario is already “well underway.”
“Hollywood has basically turned its products, and its award shows, into showcases for “the resistance.” Americans are already sorting themselves into communities that are predominantly red or blue,” writes Reynolds.
He adds that White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders being kicked out of a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, “because the owner and employees disliked her politics,” would have been “largely unthinkable a generation ago.”
“Will it get worse? Probably. To have a civil war, soft or otherwise, takes two sides,” writes Reynolds, before predicting that mobs of anti-Trump protesters will become increasingly violent as peaceful civil society is eroded.
USA Today – A Texas deputy was treated at a hospital and then released on Tuesday after she touched a flyer suspected of being laced with fentanyl, a potent and potentially deadly opioid.
The sergeant found a flyer on her windshield, removed it and soon began feeling light-headed, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.
She went to the hospital for treatment, according to Gonzalez. A Tuesday afternoon tweet from the sheriff’s office said the deputy was treated for possible fentanyl exposure and released from the hospital.
An investigation revealed that the flyers had been placed on more than 10 vehicles, and one of the fliers tested positive for fentanyl, Gonzalez said.
The positive fentanyl test did not come from the flyer on the sickened sergeant’s vehicle, but all flyers are currently being tested, a spokesman for the Harris County Sheriff’s office told USA TODAY in an email.
The Daily Caller – A federal judge in California ordered the Trump administration to end its migrant family separation policy within 30 days late Tuesday.
U.S. District Court Judge Dana Sabraw of San Diego issued the preliminary injunction, finding the practice likely violates the Constitution. The decision is not a ruling on the merits of the dispute.
“Asylum seekers like Ms. L. and many other class members may be fleeing persecution and are entitled to careful consideration by government officials, particularly so if they have a credible fear of persecution,” he wrote. “We are a country of laws, and of compassion. We have plainly stated our intent to treat refugees with an ordered process, and benevolence, by codifying principles of asylum.”
“The government’s treatment of Ms. L. and other similarly situated class members does not meet this standard, and it is unlikely to pass constitutional muster,” he added.
Fox – MSNBC continued its never ending Trump derangement syndrome broadcast Tuesday, with one analyst in particular declaring that President Trump has ‘fulfilled’ Osama Bin Laden’s vision for America, and that the US is now a worse place to live than Venezuela and Cuba.
Former GOP strategist Steve Schmidt, who quit the party last week, exclaimed that “Today was a fantastic fulfillment of Osama bin Laden’s vision by Donald J. Trump,” in reference to the Supreme Court decision ruling Trump’s travel ban to be constitutional.
What Osama bin Laden hoped to provoke was a war of civilization. A war between the West and one billion Muslims. And so what Donald Trump and this Muslim ban signal to the world is that Muslims are not welcome here,” Schmidt said.
“Whether the conservative justices say that, in fact, this is about executive power, the president’s clear intent was to impose a religious test,” Schmidt said.
It has been termed the ‘Muslim ban,’ regardless of the fact that those countries, most on the verge of becoming failed states, account for only 8% of the world’s Muslim population, and are known to be harbingers of hardcore terrorists and enemies hostile to the US.
“The only force in the world that has the power to defeat extremist Islamic radicalism is moderate Islam. And moderate Islam was dealt a big setback today by this shortsighted, dangerous policy,” Schmidt argued, nevertheless.
Earlier on Morning Joe, Schmidt also declared that the US is a worse place to live than Venezuela and Cuba because those countries don’t have “internment camps for babies and toddlers.”
Judicial Watch – Judicial Watch today sent a hand-delivered letter to the chairman and co-chairman of the House Office of Congressional Ethics calling for an investigation into whether Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) violated House ethics rules by encouraging violence against Trump administration Cabinet members.
Rep. Maxine Waters addressed a rally in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 23, telling a crowd:
“If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them! And you tell them that they are not welcome, anymore, anywhere.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1Fu3g1MGHY
In today’s letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics co-chairman, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton writes:
In encouraging individuals to create “crowds” who will “push back” on President Trump’s Cabinet members at private business establishments and in seemingly trying to prevent these Cabinet officials from obtaining basic necessities without fear of assault and violence, Rep. Waters seems to be violation of House rules, specifically:
A Member, Delegate, Resident Commissioner, officer, or employee of the House shall conduct himself at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House. [House Rule 23, clause 1.]
We hereby request that the Office of Congressional Ethics conduct a preliminary investigation into whether Rep. Maxine Waters violated House Rules in encouraging attacks on Cabinet officials.
“Rep. Maxine Waters incited violence and assault against members of President Trump’s Cabinet,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is urgent that the House Ethics Office quickly acts to hold her accountable for this dangerous incitement.”
Washington Examiner – The immigration compromise the House plans to vote on Wednesday would provide the biggest amnesty ever, turning 2.2 million undocumented and illegal immigrants into citizens, according to a new analysis of the package from House Speaker Paul Ryan.
“If the bill were enacted it would be the largest amnesty in more than 30 years, despite President Trump’s campaign promise of ‘no amnesty’ and after multiple GOP congressional leaders expressed opposition to amnesty for any illegal aliens,” according to Jessica M. Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies.
CNN – A federal grand jury indicted the suspect behind last summer’s deadly vehicle incident in Charlottesville, Virginia, on federal hate crime charges Wednesday.
James Alex Fields, Jr., who was arrested in Charlottesville last August, was indicted on 30 counts, including a hate crime resulting in death and bodily injury, and racially motivated violent interference with “federally protected activity” of using public streets.
The indictment adds a new federal civil rights dimension to the case that captured the nation’s attention when supremacist groups descended on the Virginia city and violent clashes erupted.
The Jackson family patriarch had been battling terminal pancreatic cancer and was “not doing well” as of late, a source previously told PEOPLE.
Economy & Business
Fox – In a major legal and political defeat for big labor, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Wednesday that state government workers cannot be forced to pay so-called “fair share” fees to support collective bargaining and other union activities.
The conservative majority said a union’s contract negotiations over pay and benefits were inextricably linked with its broader political activities, and concluded workers had a limited constitutional right not to underwrite such “speech.” The case specifically examined union fees paid by non-members.
“This procedure violates the First Amendment and cannot continue,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the majority opinion. “Neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay.”
WSJ – Comcast Corp. is exploring tie-ups with other companies or private-equity investors that could provide additional cash as the cable giant pursues a costly acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets, according to people familiar with the situation.
The Guardian – Believe it or not, there is a way for Donald Trump to unite the country – by saving the famous Route 66, which has been placed on a list of America’s most endangered historic places.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a heritage charity, has placed the famed highway on its 2018 list of the 11 most at-risk sites. The Trust highlights architectural and cultural spots it deems in danger from development or neglect.
Route 66 is up for designation as a national historic trail, which the Trust says would bring “recognition and economic development” to historic sites along the famous road. In order to declare the road a national historic trail, and therefore officially protected, the US Senate would have to pass legislation and Trump would have to sign it.
But time is running out: Trump must sign any bill – something surely everyone could get behind in these divided days – before the end of the year.
Energy & Environment
Mirror – The army has been called in to help tackle an ‘unprecedented’ blaze on Saddleworth Moor with flames reaching 20ft high and terrified residents evacuated from their homes.
The massive fire, which has been burning since Sunday, is now visible from space.
More than 100 firefighters on a total of 29 engines from the Greater Manchester and neighbouring areas are trying to bring the fire under control.
Facemasks are being handed to nearby residents and officials are looking into the possibility of using an RAF Chinook to get waters to areas the fire is burning the most intensely.
ABC – A notorious African flamingo, who escaped from a zoo in Kansas in 2005, was spotted on a Texas coast bend Monday afternoon.
The flamingo was enjoying a sunny day near Lavaca Bay in south Texas, when Texas Parks and Wildlife snapped a picture of No. 492 and posted it on Twitter.
The sneaky flamingo has made its break from the Kansas zoo after keepers failed to clip its wings.
No. 492 has reportedly been spotted in several states since his escape.
Science & Technology
Bloomberg – On Feb. 6, Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched its largest rocket into the blue Florida sky. Onboard was “Starman,” a dummy strapped into the billionaire’s cherry red Tesla roadster. Minutes later, fans cheered as Musk topped himself by nailing a simultaneous landing of the Falcon Heavy’s boosters. It was arguably a turning point for the commercial space age.
Airlines were somewhat less thrilled. On that day, 563 flights were delayed and 62 extra miles added to flights in the southeast region of the U.S., according to Federal Aviation Administration data released Tuesday by the Air Line Pilots Association, or ALPA.
Sputnik – A giant asteroid is heading toward planet Earth and it is now so close that it can be seen by the human eye.
Amazingly the giant asteroid named 4 Vesta is four times bigger than United Kingdom and it can be seen from both the Earth’s hemispheres.
Newsmax Health – Recent blockbuster research from overseas confirms that garlic can reduce inflammation in the body thereby tackling the No. 1 killer in our country. And the good news is that it can even help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in chronically obese people.
A three month study in Poland suggests that aged garlic extract supplementation reduced cardiovascular risk better than a placebo in lowering inflammation, one of the key markers in heart disease.
They found that the study participants who took the garlic extract also had decreased stiffness in the arteries which reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke even further.
Natural Health News – Replacing potatoes or rice with pulses can lower your blood glucose levels by more than 20%, according to new data.
Researchers from Canada’s University of Guelph found that swapping out half of a portion of these conventional starchy side dishes for lentils can significantly improve your body’s response to the carbohydrates.
Replacing half a serving of rice with lentils caused blood glucose to drop by up to 20%; replacing potatoes with lentils led to a 35% drop.
“Pulses are extremely nutrient-dense food that have the potential to reduce chronic diseases associated with mismanaged glucose levels,” said lead researchers Prof. Alison Duncan, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences. Yet very few Canadians eat lentils, she added. Indeed this is a picture repeated in many developed nations where diseases like diabetes run rife.
“Canada has a huge production of lentils, but we export most of it and only 13% of Canadians eat them on any given day,” said Duncan. “We are hoping this research will make people more aware of the health benefits of eating pulses.”