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Live Blog

Here is your live blog for the day.

This is certainly worth watching in the weeks ahead:

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has been inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London since the summer of 2012, is back in the news. Last week, word of a sealed federal indictment involving him leaked out. The news came out in a strange way, via an unrelated case in Virginia. In arguing to seal a federal child endangerment charge (against someone with no connection to Wikileaks), the government, ironically, mentioned Assange as an example of why sealing is the only surefire way to keep an indictment under wraps.

“Due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case,” prosecutors wrote, “no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.” Assange’s lawyer Barry Pollack told Rolling Stone he had “not been informed that Mr. Assange has been charged, or the nature of any charges.”

Pollock and other sources could not be sure, but within the Wikileaks camp it’s believed that this charge, if it exists, is not connected to the last election. “I would think it is not related to the 2016 election since that would seem to fall within the purview of the Office of Special Counsel,” Pollack said.

If you hate Assange because of his role in the 2016 race, please take a deep breath and consider what a criminal charge that does not involve the 2016 election might mean. An Assange prosecution could give the Trump presidency broad new powers to put Trump’s media “enemies” in jail, instead of just yanking a credential or two. The Jim Acosta business is a minor flap in comparison.

Although Assange may not be a traditional journalist in terms of motive, what he does is essentially indistinguishable from what news agencies do, and what happens to him will profoundly impact journalism.

Matt Taibbi makes a good point about Assange here: is there a material difference between mainstream journalists soliciting, acquiring and exposing national-security information and what Assange's Wikileaks did with the material provided by traitor Bradley Manning? And if so, what is it? The Pentagon Papers decision settled the question of prior restraint, but left open possible legal consequences for having published classified information.

For those espousing the notion that the United States should somehow force a diplomatic rift with (the admittedly loathsome) "Kingdom" of Saudi Arabia over the Kashoggi incident, I have four words for you:

 

The cowardly RINOs of the Senate, who fled the scene rather than stand for re-election, are now sitting up on their haunches and roaring impotently at the president:

President Donald Trump may have poked a congressional bear with his repeated refusal to condemn Saudi Arabia for its role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.Lawmakers have until now done little to push back against Trump's approach to foreign policy – standing aside as he launched a trade war, picked fights with long-time U.S. allies and embraced dictators from North Korea to Russia.

But the Khashoggi killing has riled Republicans and Democrats alike, sparking a nascent legislative rebellion that promises to escalate when Democrats take control of the House in January. A clash over Trump's handling of the journalist's murder – and his broader embrace of Saudi Arabia – could unfold as early as next week, when Congress is set to reconvene.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has requested a classified briefing from top Trump administration officials – including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis – on Khashoggi's murder as well as the U.S. support for a Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen.

In that closed-door session, tentatively set for next week, lawmakers are expected to grill Pompeo and Mattis about the CIA's reported conclusion that Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman, ordered Khashoggi's Oct. 2 murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The journalist had gone into the diplomatic facility to get documents he needed for his upcoming marriage to a Turkish woman.

A few small points: Kashoggi was neither an American citizen nor a practicing journalist. He was, however, a friend of Osama bin Laden. Why his murder in Islamic Turkey at the hands of murderers most likely from Islamic Saudi Arabia is any concern of ours is beyond me.

This is so profoundly stupid it's unbelievable, except that of course it's totally believable:

"Sounds crazy"? It is crazy:

Scientists are proposing an ingenious but as-yet-unproven way to tackle climate change: spraying sun-dimming chemicals into the Earth's atmosphere. The research by scientists at Harvard and Yale universities, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, proposes using a technique known as stratospheric aerosol injection, which they say could cut the rate of global warming in half.

The technique would involve spraying large amounts of sulfate particles into the Earth's lower stratosphere at altitudes as high as 12 miles. The scientists propose delivering the sulfates with specially designed high-altitude aircraft, balloons or large naval-style guns.

Does the technology exist to do such a thing? Luckily, no:

Despite the technology being undeveloped and with no existing aircraft suitable for adaptation, the researchers say that "developing a new, purpose-built tanker with substantial payload capabilities would neither be technologically difficult nor prohibitively expensive." They estimate the total cost of launching a hypothetical system in 15 years' time at around $3.5 billion, with running costs of $2.25 billion a year over a 15-year period. The report does, however, acknowledge that the technique is purely hypothetical.

Let's keep it that way.

Meanwhile, President Trump is pushing the lame-duck Congress to do something about the border. Shouldn't he have pushed this right from the jump, rather than waiting until Paul Ryan had declared Mission Accomplished and delivered the House over to the Democrats?

Instead of exhorting the do-nothing outgoing Congress to, you know, do something, wouldn't Trump be better off simply defying the latest federal judge to countermand the commander-in-chief on matters of national security, pointing to the Supreme Court's definitive decision in the "Muslim ban" case, and proceeding with his enumerated constitutional powers?