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'Trump is the man': Emails reveal secret back-channel between Tom Barrack and Middle Eastern nations
Prosecutors presented emails showing the former chairman of Donald Trump’s inaugural committee was secretly working to establish a relationship with his administration with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Tom Barrack, a longtime friend of the former president, communicated in 2016 with then-campaign manager Paul Manafort about a speech on energy policy, and one email shown at his federal trial for allegedly operating as a secret foreign agent shows his displeasure that an early draft didn't even mention the UAE or Saudi Arabia, reported the Associated Press.
“Wow. I’m just stunned by how bad this is,” Manafort said in one email.
Manafort responded by saying, “Send me an insert that works for our friends.”
Trump eventually gave a speech that touted “our supportive Gulf allies” and their role in fighting terrorism in the region, and Barrack received an email afterward praising him for doing a “great job.”
Other emails show Barrack indicating that he had urged Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner to elevate Manafort to campaign manager, and additional emails reveal Manafort assuring their Middle Eastern associates that Trump would back off his anti-Muslim rhetoric and promising to set up face-to-face meetings between the candidate and leaders from the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Prosecutors say those nations invested millions of dollars in businesses operated by Barrack as he pressed Trump to embrace the policies they preferred.
“Trump is the man,” Barrack said in another email, suggesting “HH” could pack his bags.
Prosecutors say "HH" refers to "His Highness," or UAE ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and additional emails show Barrack trying to set up a meeting between him and Trump.
'The name of the game is delay': Legal expert accuses Judge Cannon of 'calling every ball in Trump’s favor'
Responding to news that Judge Aileen Cannon has once again interceded on behalf of Donald Trump by slowing down the work being done by special master Raymond Dearie, former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance accused the judge of assisting the former president with his legal delay game.
On Thursday, NBC reported that the Trump-appointed Cannon ruled the former president doesn't have to submit a sworn statement wherein he would be compelled to identify what documents he claims the FBI planted at his Mar-a-Lago resort almost two months ago as they sought stolen government documents.
Since the search ordered by the Department of Justice, Trump has alternately claimed he declassified all of the documents while also telling his supporters that he is being framed.
With special master Dearie giving Trump's attorneys a deadline to provide documentation to back up Trump's claim, Cannon, who chose Dearie on the recommendation of Trump's legal team, jumped into the fray and with a ruling that will drag out the proceedings.
According to NBC, "The decision by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon effectively overrules a directive from the special master she named to review evidence the FBI seized in the search Aug. 8. The special master, Senior U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie of New York, last week ordered Trump’s team to submit a “declaration or affidavit” about whether anything on the FBI's list of items removed from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach had not been “seized from the Premises,” meaning items that were put there by someone else."
Taking to Twitter, Vance linked to the report and added, "If Judge Cannon was going to continue calling every ball in Trump’s favor, I’m not at all sure why she felt the need to appoint a special master to review the documents the government seized from Mar-a-Lago."
She then continued, "No real surprises here. The name of the game is delay. Judge Cannon countermanded Judge Dearie’s streamlined schedule & helped Trump advance his usual delay game in litigation. That means it could be late December before DOJ can use documents it recovered from Mar-a-Lago."
She then shamed the judge by writing, "Judge Dearie told Trump’s lawyers, '[m]y view is, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.' But apparently that doesn’t hold for Judge Cannon."
Mercury is a toxic heavy metal. When leached into the natural environment, it accumulates and builds up through food chains, ultimately threatening human health and ecosystems.
In the last century, human activities have increased atmospheric mercury concentrations by 300-500% above natural levels.
However, in some parts of the world, humans have been modifying the mercury cycle for thousands of years. This anthropogenic (human-caused) mercury use has led to mercury entering places globally it wouldn’t otherwise be found, such as in lakes or soils in remote locations.
One region with an especially long (but poorly documented) history of mercury use is Mexico and Central America. Early Mesoamerican societies such as the Olmec had been mining and using mercury in southern Mexico as early as 2000 BCE.
This map of Mexico and Central America shows sites where liquid mercury has been found, known geological sources, and Maya sites with elevated soil mercury.
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fenvs.2022.986119/full, Author provided
In our research, published in Frontiers in Environmental Science, we review the ways the Maya used mercury, the mystery of how they sourced it, and the environmental legacy of past mercury use.
Our present mercury problem has a deep legacy. Understanding its origins will also help us understand the trajectory of humanity’s fascination with, use of – and abuse of – this mercurial element.
Cultural and creative importance
Archaeologists have been finding mercury at archaeological sites in Mexico and Central America for more than a century.
The most common form reported is cinnabar (mercury sulfide, or HgS), a bright red mineral used extensively by the ancient Maya for decoration, craft, and ritual purposes such as burials and in tombs.
The Maya used cinnabar in burials, identifiable by its distinct red colour. Maya Gallery, National Museum of Anthropology/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY
It has been far less common to find liquid (elemental) mercury. There are only seven occurrences of liquid mercury at Mesoamerican sites that we are aware of.
But it’s feasible there may have been many more – and that it’s simply invisible in today’s archaeological record. Liquid mercury from 1,000 or more years ago could have evaporated or oozed away into the environment through time.
Exceeding toxic levels
Most Maya settlements were great distances from known mercury sources located in Mexico and Honduras, and perhaps Guatemala and Belize. This means the production, trade, and use of mercury would have been highly valuable and logistically challenging – especially for managing toxic liquid mercury!
Over the past two decades, scientists working on Maya archaeological projects have tested artefacts, soils, and sediments for their chemical properties, including for mercury, to better understand past human activities.
They test soils and former Maya areas excavated from far below today’s ground surface, which tell us about mercury levels during the Maya’s time.
Rob Griffin sampling sediments for mercury near the bottom of the Corriental reservoir in Tikal, Guatemala. (Nick Dunning)
Combined data from these tests show most Maya sites have some amount of mercury enrichment in buried soils. Specifically, seven out of ten sites were found to have mercury levels that equal or exceed modern benchmarks for environmental toxicity.
Locations with elevated mercury are typically areas the Maya occupied, including domestic patios, dating to the Late Classic (600-900 CE). Mercury also made its way into some drinking water sources including central reservoirs at Tikal.
While the appealing red cinnabar ore is the likely culprit of mercury pollution, the equally appealing and shimmering liquid mercury is another possible source of persistent pollution in some locations, such as Lamanai in modern-day Belize.
Mercury, also known as quicksilver, occurs naturally and is the only metallic element that stays liquid at room temperature. (MarcelClemens/Shutterstock)
At more complex sites, elevated mercury levels may be the result of both modern and ancient inputs. For example, it’s not clear if the mercury detected at the island Maya settlement of Marco Gonzalez (also in Belize) is from ancient or modern times.
Our work reveals a rich history of mercury use by the Maya and challenges the idea that pre-industrial societies didn’t have noteworthy impacts on their environments.
But there is much we still don’t know. Where and how did the Maya obtain mercury? Who mined it, traded it, and transported it by foot over hundreds of kilometers across present-day Central America?
Then there’s the question of whether the Maya were affected by mercury exposure. The next step will be for geochemists and archaeologists to track down the source of mercury at key sites and, if possible, scrutinize archaeological and human remains for signs of past mercury exposure.
We also need to find out what forms mercury takes in the environment today, so we can better understand where it came from, and provide guidance on what precautions (if any) need to be taken when working with legacy mercury.
Finding clues on early mercury use is crucial to understanding the interaction between legacy mercury and current mercury contamination in the environment today.
Duncan Cook, Associate professor, Australian Catholic University; Nicholas Dunning, Professor, University of Cincinnati ; Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Centennial Professor of Geography and the Environment, The University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts; Simon Turner, Senior Research Fellow in Geography, UCL, and Timothy Beach, Professor, The University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts