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08 Sep

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

English Online International Newspapers

Nearly all of these are English-edition daily newspapers. These sites have interesting editorials and essays, and many have links to other good news sources. We try to limit this list to those sites which are regularly updated, reliable, with a high percentage of “up” time.

Recommended:

Irish Examiner>>

France 24>>

Spiegel>>

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Company offers to drop Stormy Daniels’ ‘hush-money’ agreement

Press Association

A company set up by Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer has agreed to rescind Stormy Daniels’ hush-money agreement and drop its planned $20m lawsuit against the porn actress for violating its terms.

A lawyer for the company, Essential Consultants, said in a court filing that the company wants Ms Daniels to repay the $130,000 she was paid as part of the agreement.

Ms Daniels claims she had an affair with Mr Trump in 2006, which the president denies. Essential Consultants was set up by Mr Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Donald Trump (Susan Walsh/AP)

The development could kill a plan by Ms Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, to try to compel the president to provide testimony under oath, if the agreement is rescinded and a judge agrees to dismiss the case.

Essential Consultants was set up by Mr Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty in federal court last month to campaign-finance violations and other charges.

Cohen told the judge that he and Mr Trump had arranged the payment of hush money to Ms Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election.

Michael Cohen leaves court in New York (Mary Altaffer/AP)

In addition to the offer to quash the agreement, Essential Consultants also agreed to back off its plan to fight Ms Daniels in private arbitration and will not pursue a lawsuit against her, Brent Blakely, a lawyer for the company said in a letter to Ms Daniels’ lawyer.

Cohen has said that Ms Daniels could owe 20 million dollars for violating the agreement.

Ms Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, told The Associated Press that Friday’s development is “a stunt by Michael Cohen trying to fix it so that Donald Trump is not deposed”.

Mr Avenatti said he did not have to accept the offer and would not settle the case “without the depositions,” which he said would include Mr Trump.

He believes the court should invalidate the agreement because it violated campaign finance laws, he said.

Ms Daniels is also suing Mr Trump and Cohen for defamation.

View Donald Trump’s visit will be a real test for Leo Varadkar

Cinema is one of the many mirrors we hold up to our world. That mirror sometimes shows dysfunction on a grand-opera, Tony Soprano scale.

Sometimes it reveals unnerving volatility and narcissism.

Daniel Day-Lewis’s Daniel Plainview in There Will Be Blood, Jack Nicholson’s Jack Torrance in The Shining, and Robert De Niro’s Max Cady in Cape Fear show how fickle emotional composure and rational functioning can be. Each was a psychopath but each had different simmering proclivities, had different exploding perversions.

It is a great tragedy for the West, and especially for America, that characters as noxious as Plainview, Torrance or Cady are now valid comparators for President Donald Trump, the successor of Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter, Bush father and son, and Obama.

The briefest overview of his unhinged, uninformed behaviour, his petulance and the responses of those closest to him over recent months will confirm that we are indeed living through the strangest, most unsettling American presidency of modern times.

As emigration is a bedrock reality of our culture the Trump policy of seizing children from immigrant families crossed a Rubicon. It may not have happened at a dusty railway yard in Eastern Europe but the comparisons are unavoidable.

In August, President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was jailed while his long-time personal lawyer Michael Cohen’s guilty plea ended months of speculation. Cohen faces a December sentencing hearing.

This Tuesday The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward published Fear, in which describes aides calling President Trump an “idiot” and a “liar”. It also claims aides removed papers from the Oval Office to prevent him breaking trade agreements. Among Woodward’s allegations is that chief of staff John Kelly described the president as an “idiot” who has “gone off the rails”. After a Security Council meeting on North Korea, an exasperated defence secretary James Mattis said the president had the understanding of a fifth or six-grader. On another occasion, Mr Trump apparently ordered his defence secretary to kill Syrian leader Basher al-Assad.

On Wednesday, The New York Times published an anonymous piece purportedly by a mandarin who claims to be part of a secret cabal trying to protect America and the world from the wildest impulses of the man-child now the commander-in-chief of a superpower army. Robert Muller’s investigation into Trump’s links with Russia seems a tightening noose. Though on a different plane, the decision by the Bush and McCain families to publically exclude President Trump from the Barbara Bush and John McCain funerals adds further disconcerting context.

Just a few weeks ago Taoiseach Leo Varadkar impressed when he made a fair but firm speech welcoming Pope Francis. He did not shirk difficult issues. President Trump is to visit Ireland and that will present Mr Varadkar with an even greater challenge. President Trump must be welcomed as the leader of America’s 325m people but his behaviour cannot be ignored. David must find the courage to criticise Goliath — silence and the tacit approval that implies is not an option.

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More On The Environment:

World Politics

United States

Trump’s US supreme court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is certainly competent at dodging difficult questions. In his confirmation hearing in Congress this week, he was asked for his opinion on Roe v Wade, the supreme court case that legalized abortion nationwide. His answer was that it’s “an important precedent. It has been reaffirmed many times”. But will he reaffirm it? He won’t say – even in light of leaked emails that suggest he doesn’t think Roe is settled law at all, and that the US supreme court could overturn it.

That slipperiness should be enough to reject him as a justice, but there are other reasons, too. The United States is perched on the edge of a constitutional crisis, led as we are by an unstable wannabe authoritarian who is at the center of a web of criminality, and is himself under investigation – and not for a petty matter, but for potentially selling out American democracy to a hostile foreign power.

This president is now in a position where he is selecting one of the judges who may eventually judge him – a clear conflict of interest if there ever was one. It’s a highly unusual situation, but it is a crisis. And it means that Kavanaugh’s confirmation – any confirmation to the supreme court – must be put on hold.

This is the point made in a recent paper by legal scholars Laurence Tribe, Judge Timothy Lewis and Norman Eisen in a paper for the Brookings Institution. They rightly point out that the body that could wind up adjudicating some of the most crucial issues of the Trump investigation is the same one Trump is currently hand-picking a judge for. The president is under criminal investigation. Do we really think that same president should be picking a judge who may ultimately decide, for example, whether the president can pardon himself?

The three men who wrote the Brookings paper “have either been before the Senate for confirmation, worked on supreme court or other confirmations, or both”. And this confirmation process, they say, is a frightening outlier, coming from a White House that has already shown total disregard for political norms and fair processes. “We have never,” they wrote, “seen anything like this hurried and defective process for such an important nomination.”

If the president asked Kavanaugh to recuse himself from any cases involving the current investigation or other alleged Trump (and Trump family) wrongdoing, and Kavanaugh agreed, this would be a different conversation. But we know Trump would never do that, because he explicitly selects toadies and sycophants who he hopes will offer him cover.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation – any confirmation to the supreme court – must be put on hold

That’s why he’s so upset with his attorney general, Jeff Sessions. Sessions’s proper decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation has enraged Trump, who believes he did Sessions a favor with the appointment, and it’s not being properly returned. These are certainly the rules of sleazy New York real estate – you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. These are not supposed to be the rules that govern supreme court appointments and decisions.

The fact that this appointment process has also been hasty and opaque, with too much information dropped at the last minute and too much still obscured, does not lend it confidence. Supreme court hearings have become increasingly farcical, as ambitious young lawyers who then become judges spend their whole careers side-stepping controversy in order to be a palatable higher court pick. That’s why you get Kavanaugh making simple factual statements in lieu of answering crucial questions.

While Kavanaugh is side-stepping questions on abortion rights and about his other opinions and likely decisions on topics of vital importance to millions of Americans – for example, the power of a president to pardon himself, which has become worryingly relevant – he’s not offering any more transparency about what he’s actually done in his career. As a George W Bush administration staffer, he may have weighed in on some of the country’s most critical legal matters, from torture to executive power. But we don’t know, because more than 100,000 White House documents were withheld as privileged; tens of thousands more were unceremoniously dropped by representatives of the Bush White House the day before his confirmation hearings in a classic document dump.

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‘These are dangerous times’ Obama speaks out against Trump and attacks ‘politics of fear and resentment’>>

Trump-Russia investigation George Papadopoulos: ex-Trump adviser jailed for 14 days for lying to FBI>>

Key moments Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings>>

Immigration Outrage over Trump’s ‘sickening’ plans to detain migrant children indefinitely>>

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