Friday, November 17, 2017

Getting the Message

How could you miss it?

"House passes tax bill but faces skeptical public" by Victoria McGrane Globe Staff  November 17, 2017

WASHINGTON — The relatively smooth passage of the tax overhaul in the House Thursday, and accompanying GOP celebration, belies certain political realities: that despite the hard sell, Republicans haven’t persuaded the American people they want this plan, or even need it.

This from the people who are consistently wrong about political realities.

The economy is growing stronger, unemployment is very low, and Americans are just not sold on the idea that slashing taxes deeply for corporations is going to cure wage stagnation among the middle class.

The dearth of enthusiasm for Republicans’ latest legislative effort is documented in several recent polls. Most voters believe the wealthy would be the main beneficiaries.

The push for changes such as lower corporate tax rates, elimination of estate taxes, and more favorable treatment of business partnerships comes mostly from the “swamp’’ President Trump ran against in 2016: the corporations, GOP contributors, and conservative think tanks that drive Beltway ideology.

That's where you get stuck after all the smoke, sound, fury, and illusion of the pre$$.

Yet the lack of support among the public has proved barely a speed bump for Republicans, who — desperate for a legislative win and eager to fulfill longstanding party doctrine — are hustling the tax bill through Congress.

The vote Thursday, passing the House version of the tax bill 227 to 205, comes a mere two weeks after leaders unveiled its details, the latest example of Republican leaders sticking to their ambitious timeline and keeping the rank-and-file largely united behind the package.

Meantime, unlike with the Republicans’ ultimately unsuccessful effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act earlier this year, Democrats are having a harder time scaring voters about the tax bill.

Why do we always have to be scared into things? 

“It’s harder to see a kind of riled up, vocal, made-for-television opposition over taxes,” said Sarah Binder, a political science professor at George Washington University and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Even if many people believe the tax package won’t benefit them, or would even result in higher taxes, “it’s nothing compared to the optics — let alone the reality — of taking away health care benefits from a wide array of voters, many of whom voted for the president. You just don’t get that on taxes. Nobody’s mad as hell about tax cuts.”

Still, some strategists see political problems for the Republicans pushing a package that most people see as skewed toward the rich.

“It’s really befuddling to me, just politically speaking, that they would promote a tax bill in this environment that actually raises taxes on the middle class, that balloons the deficit, [and where] there’s serious debate that it will have any real positive impact on the economy,” said John Weaver, who served as top political strategist to Ohio Governor John Kasich’s 2016 presidential campaign.

“They are so out of touch with the average American,” Weaver said of congressional Republicans.

Who said that? Kasich's people? 

Then why didn't he win the nomination?

I'm smelling more dung.

He pointed to the big losses Republicans suffered in the Nov. 7 elections in Virginia and New Jersey as a reason to tread carefully with a tax cut that doesn’t obviously benefit the middle class.

That is to set the narrative for another "change" election and to give us the entertainment of impeachment.

The measure faces a tougher test in the Senate, where Republicans can afford to lose only two of their 52-member majority. One GOP senator, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, said Wednesday he would vote against the current Senate bill; several others have raised concerns.

See: "The tax bill Senate Republicans are championing would give large tax cuts to millionaires while raising taxes on American families earning $10,000 to $75,000 over the next decade, according to a report released Thursday by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’ official nonpartisan analysts....."

The Senate version includes a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated will cause 13 million people to drop insurance. That gives Democrats more ammunition and could prompt key Senate swing votes like Maine Republican Susan Collins to oppose the package.

Is that why there is talk of Steward Health moving out of Massachusetts?

Related "US health authorities announced plans Thursday to crack down on doctors pushing stem cell procedures that pose the gravest risks to patients amid an effort to police a burgeoning medical field that previously has received little oversight....."

House Speaker Paul Ryan has been touting that the average American family of four would save $1,182 under the House plan, even turning the figure into a hashtag on social media, as well as emphasizing that filing taxes will become much simpler.

“Passing this bill is the single biggest thing we can do to grow the economy, to restore opportunity, and to help middle-income families that are struggling,” Ryan said before the vote Thursday.

I don't believe him, sorry.

For complex legislation that affects an individual taxpayer’s pocketbook in multiple ways — fewer tax brackets, curbs on deductions, ending certain tax benefits for students, the sick, and others — many Republicans see this as the best argument leaders can make.

“These are the right tools to be communicating the benefits in terms of the middle class — more jobs and higher wages. That’s the winning argument for this kind of reform,” said Michael Steel, a veteran of former GOP House speaker John Boehner’s office and Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign. “I think you’re seeing generally the House, Senate, and White House all making the most compelling argument that they can.”

But the Republican message machine is competing with protests from a range of critics —armed with analyses by outside tax specialists — that the benefits for average Americans aren’t as great as they appear.

The tax cut Ryan cites so often, for instance, would turn into a tax increase by the end of the decade, according to New York University tax law professor David Kamin, a former Obama adviser. That’s partly because some of the breaks for average Americans are temporary in the package, while the corporate cuts are permanent.

Steadier message discipline has come from numerous conservative and business groups, an army of unified support that the Republicans have rarely enjoyed all year.

President Trump remains a wild card in the messaging wars.....

Did YOU get the "message," readers?

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So where is the money for the tax heist coming from?

"IRS starts to enforce health law’s rule that employers offer insurance" by Stacy Cowley   November 17, 2017

NEW YORK — As Republicans and the Trump administration continue trying to chip away at the Affordable Care Act, the Internal Revenue Service has begun, for the first time, to enforce one of the law’s most polarizing provisions: the employer mandate.

Thousands of businesses — many of them small or midsize — will soon receive a letter saying that they owe the government money because they failed to offer their workers qualifying health insurance. The first round of notices, which the IRS began sending late last month, are being mailed to companies that have at least 100 full-time employees and ran afoul of the law in 2015, the year that the mandate took effect.

They are scrounging around for all the loot they can get their grubby little hands on!

Large companies, defined in the law as those with 50 or more workers, are required to offer their employees affordable insurance or pay stiff tax penalties. The IRS held off for years on assessing those fines, saying that it needed more time, and money, to build its compliance systems.

Now, the agency says it is finally ready to go after scofflaws. “As the IRS has publicly stated, the agency is obligated to enforce the Affordable Care Act’s employer shared responsibility provision,” said Bruce Friedland, an agency spokesman.

Since when did government care about obeying the law?

Ten months ago, in his first executive order, President Trump directed government agencies to waive, defer, or delay carrying out as much of the law as possible. This week, the Treasury Department said that it objected to the employer mandate but was legally compelled to enforce it.

By whom?

“Treasury lawyers see no ground for the secretary to direct the IRS to not collect the tax,” the agency said in a written statement. “The ACA’s employer mandate unfortunately remains the law of the land.”

Senate Republicans plan to include a repeal of the law’s individual mandate in their tax bill. Eliminating that mandate, which requires people to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, would free up hundreds of billions of dollars that could be redirected to tax cuts. The IRS recently indicated that it would tighten enforcement of that provision as well.

The employer mandate, which would be unaffected by that proposed change, is lucrative for the government. It is expected to bring in penalty payments of $207 billion over the next decade, according to projections by the Congressional Budget Office.

So the ACA was about THEIR HEALTH, not YOURS, and a LOOTING SCHEME TO BOOT!

When the health law was passed, lawmakers feared that without an employer mandate, companies would cancel their insurance benefits and send large numbers of employees to the health care law’s insurance exchanges, where many people qualify for government subsidies. Employees who are offered health insurance through their jobs are ineligible for the subsidies.

Which turned out to be complete failures.

The law’s exact rules are complex, but businesses will generally incur fines of around $2,000 per employee (excluding the first 30) if they do not offer qualifying coverage to nearly all of those who work an average of 30 or more hours a week. The penalty is activated if at least one employee then buys insurance on the health law’s marketplace and receives a subsidy for it.

The per-employee fine increases each year, and can add up quickly: A company with 100 workers that ignored the law this year would owe a penalty of more than $158,000.

To prove their compliance, businesses are required to send the IRS a report on their employee head count and the health care coverage that they offered. The tax agency began requiring those forms two years ago, but it repeatedly ran into problems processing them.

That delayed efforts to identify, and fine, companies that did not offer their workers adequate insurance. The bottleneck largely came down to money, according to the agency.

Everything does when it comes from government or the ma$$ media and pre$$!

“For the past four years, the IRS has received almost no funding for implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” John A. Koskinen, then the agency’s commissioner, told Congress last year. (Koskinen’s tenure at the agency ended this month, but no change in the enforcement of the mandate is expected.)

A recent audit by the Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration found that the IRS had “delayed, not initiated, or canceled” crucial systems needed to enforce the employer mandate. 

Other systems “did not function as intended,” causing confusion both for the agency and for companies trying to comply with its reporting requirements. 

Who was paid to do that "work?"

Accountants and others familiar with the process say they are bracing for more problems....

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The order came from the Treasury, huh?

"Mnuchin bank’s former CEO confirmed to lead US watchdog" by Jesse Hamilton Bloomberg News  November 17, 2017

Former OneWest Bank Group chief executive Joseph Otting won Senate approval on Thursday to lead a key US bank regulator, further clearing the way for the Trump administration to roll back Wall Street regulations.

In heading the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Otting will be the chief overseer of banking units at giants such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp., and Citigroup Inc., plus hundreds of smaller lenders across the country. He’ll have a central role in efforts to reverse Volcker Rule trading restrictions, certain capital constraints, and tough supervision that lenders say reflect an overreaction to the 2008 credit crisis.

Otting will replace Keith Noreika, a bank lawyer who made waves at the OCC after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin installed him as temporary chief. The new comptroller will be reunited with Mnuchin, who was OneWest’s chairman when Otting was CEO. Their time at the bank, which rose from the ashes of crisis casualty IndyMac Bancorp Inc., was complicated by an OCC enforcement action targeting improper foreclosures.

Have you noticed how Mnuchin stays above the fray?

Noreika sent a resignation letter to Mnuchin on Thursday, saying that government service was an “exception to the norm” for him and that he intends to return to the private sector. The letter could resolve persistent questions about whether he might take over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau after Director Richard Cordray announced plans to step down. Noreika said he’ll leave the OCC after Otting is sworn in.

The road to confirmation was rocky for Otting, who faced criticism for his role in OneWest’s foreclosure practices and questioning of his credentials. At one point, the White House was forced to clarify his biographical information after Bloomberg News reported that Otting hadn’t attended Dartmouth College, as a reference to his being a “graduate of the School of Credit and Financial Management at Dartmouth College” seemed to indicate. In fact, it was only a management training course that used space on the school’s campus.

He lied, 'er, embellished his resume?

At his Senate confirmation hearing, Otting said he’s open to revising regulations, such as those established in the Dodd-Frank Act. He said oversight should be more certain and predictable, and regulators’ discretion should be “as constrained as possible.”

Would have been nice if they had actually written any regulations.

American Bankers Association president Rob Nichols said Noreika gave Otting an “excellent foundation” to build on, and Otting’s professional experience will mean he “understands the important role that banks play in promoting economic growth.”

If Trump were serious about change he would start with the banks. 

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Related:

"Shipbuilder Bath Iron Works wants to extend a tax credit for up to $3.5 million a year, which it says is needed to remain competitive. The Times Record reports that the Maine Legislature will consider a proposal to continue the tax credit that’s due to expire in 2018."

They build warships.

"A massive defense spending bill sent Thursday to President Trump would make it illegal for the federal government to do business with Kaspersky Lab, a move that comes amid continued concern that its software has been compromised by Russian intelligence services. The measure, part of the $692 billion authorization for fiscal 2018, follows a September move by the Department of Homeland Security to ban executive agencies from using Kaspersky antivirus software. The company is based in Russia and has its US headquarters in Woburn. The company has denied wrongdoing, and has offered to show its source code to an independent reviewer to prove that it is safe to use. “Kaspersky Lab fully supports the goals of protecting federal information and federal information systems; however, we maintain that these provisions unfairly target Kaspersky Lab without any credible evidence of the risks presented by the company’s products,” the company said in a statement."

We don't need no stinkin' evidence, and that move will drive them out of business

Can't patch things up and get back to work, huh?

And the pen Trump will use to sign it? Made in China!

"A Rhode Island company that has supplied many of the pens used by President Trump and his predecessors to sign executive orders has been sold. WPRI-TV reports that A.T. Cross Co. was sold to Transom Capital Group, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm. The sale price was not disclosed. Transom confirmed that they are cutting some jobs, but did not say how many. A.T. Cross officials say it has provided pens to presidents at least since the Gerald Ford administration. It was once a major Rhode Island employer but now makes most of its pens in China. Previous owners Clarion Capital Partners bought the company in 2013 for $60 million."

Time to start writing some love letters:

"‘Al Franken kissed and groped me without my consent,’ Tweeden says; senator apologizes" by Amy B Wang, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Lindsey Bever The Washington Post  November 17, 2017

WASHINGTON — Broadcaster and model Leeann Tweeden said Thursday that Al Franken ‘‘forcibly kissed’’ and groped her during a USO tour in 2006, two years before the Minnesota Democrat’s election to the US Senate.

The allegations came two days after a stunning hearing in Washington, where lawmakers acknowledged sexual harassment is a pervasive problem on Capitol Hill — and amid mounting sexual misconduct accusations against Alabama Republican Roy Moore.

Sending it to the Ethics Committee where complaints go to die.

On a Thursday episode of the KABC radio show ‘‘McIntyre in the Morning,’’ Tweeden said she wanted to tell the world about the photo a decade ago but was worried about her career. ‘‘People are going to go, ‘Oh you’re a model. You’ve been on the cover of Playboy, you’re a lingerie model and a swimsuit model and you’re a sportscaster and you’re a girl in Hollywood’ — Tweeden said she finally decided to share her story because ‘‘the tide has turned.’’

‘‘I’ve wanted to tell this story because it’s bugged me for so long. It’s made me angry for so long. I’ve been humiliated for so long,’’ she said. ‘‘Now is the time . . . We’ve got to change the culture.’’

I saw her interview on TV and it was chillingly disgusting.

The allegations rocked the Capitol, prompting numerous senators, including more than a dozen Democrats, to call for an ethics investigation.

Senator Amy Klobuchar, Democrat from Minnesota, condemned her home state colleague’s behavior. Just last week, the Senate had unanimously approved a bill, which Klobuchar co-sponsored, that will mandate sexual harassment training for all senators and their staffs.....

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Also see
:

"It is not easy being Steve Kirby at the Berklee College of Music these days, but as it turns out, there were two Steve Kirbys at Berklee....."

He's the good one, and was inspired by James Taylor.

Statewide campaign encourages women to join construction industry

I'm told “they’re just as hard-working, or even more hard-working, than the men,” which is also what I'm told regarding illegal immigrants and their American counterparts.

Fidelity’s CEO physically moved her office so she could keep an eye out on harassment

Related: Time For Divorce

Call the police:

"Cambridge police are investigating an attempted assault and battery on a woman while she was walking near Harvard Square on Tuesday night. The woman was alone in the area of Putnam Avenue and Green Street around 10:15 p.m. when the suspect started following her, said Cambridge police spokesman Jeremy Warnick. “She felt the presence of someone behind her,” he said. “As she was turning around, a male suspect grabbed her shoulders and waist.” She managed to free herself and alerted police, Warnick said. “She was not injured, aside from being emotionally shaken up,” he said. Police are investigating the incident as an assault and battery, Warnick said. The woman said the suspect was a stranger to her. The suspect is described as a white man age 18 to 25 wearing a beanie with a thin build and a clean-shaven face, Warnick said. He is around 5 feet 10 inches tall and possibly has blond hair."

They eventually found him.

"The sexual harassment scandal that’s roiling Hollywood could have consequences for people who aren’t accused of anything. It’s unclear what effect the revelations about actor Kevin Spacey and filmmaker Brett Ratner, will have on pending projects. But given the seriousness of the allegations against them, neither seems certain to have a career in Hollywood anymore...."

Maybe they can get a book deal and live like the Obamas.

Back to the Senate:

"New Jersey senator’s bribery trial ends in a hung jury" by David Porter Associated Press  November 17, 2017

NEWARK — The federal bribery trial of Democratic Senator Bob Menendez ended Thursday with the jury hopelessly deadlocked on all charges, a partial victory for him that could nevertheless leave the case hanging over his head as he gears up for reelection to a sharply divided Senate. 

Time to resign, Bob, or are you addicted to the job?

US District Judge William Walls declared a mistrial after more than six full days of deliberations failed to produce a verdict on any of the 18 counts against the New Jersey politician or his codefendant, a wealthy Florida eye doctor accused of buying Menendez’s influence by plying him with luxury vacations and campaign contributions.

Prosecutors would not say whether they plan to retry Menendez. But on the political front, forces were already mobilizing against him, with GOP Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell immediately calling for an ethics investigation of him. Menendez is up for reelection next year.

Outside the courthouse, a choked-up Menendez fought back tears as he blasted federal authorities for bringing the case and thanked the jurors in the 2½-month trial ‘‘who saw through the government’s false claims and used their Jersey common sense to reject it.’’

It was Obama's Justice Department that investigated and brought the charges.

‘‘Certain elements of the FBI and of our state cannot stand, or even worse, accept that the Latino kid from Union City and Hudson County could grow up to be a United States senator and be honest,’’ said the 63-year-old son of Cuban immigrants.

Talk about diverting attention away from himself and blaming others!

Then he pulls out the Cuban card?

Jury member Edward Norris said 10 jurors wanted to acquit Menendez on all charges, while two held out for conviction.

Those jurors should be applauded and cheered then.

Norris said that after the prosecution rested, ‘‘in my gut I was like, ‘That’s it? That’s all they had?’’’

Menendez was accused of selling his political influence to Dr. Salomon Melgen for vacations in the Caribbean and Paris, flights on Melgen’s jet and hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to campaign organizations that supported the senator directly or indirectly.

In return, prosecutors said, Menendez pressured government officials on Melgen’s behalf over an $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute and a stalled contract to provide port screening equipment in the Dominican Republic, and also helped obtain US visas for the 63-year-old doctor’s girlfriends.

According to prosecutors, Melgen essentially put Menendez on the payroll and made the politician his ‘‘personal senator,’’ available as needed.

The defense argued that the gifts were not bribes but tokens of friendship between two men who have known each other for more than 20 years and were ‘‘like brothers.’’

Wow, that is a new one. 

Isn't nepotism illegal?

The jurors were instructed that they could find the men guilty even if they felt the prosecution didn’t match specific gifts to specific acts by Menendez.

Jurors needed more, according to Norris.

‘‘I just wish there was stronger evidence right out of the gate,’’ the juror said. ‘‘It was a victimless crime, I think, and it was an email trial. I just didn’t see a smoking gun.’’ 

Tell that to the underaged prostitutes.

The charges against the men included bribery, conspiracy, and honest services fraud, which was the most serious count of all, punishable by up to 20 years in prison. The senator was also charged with making false statements in failing to report gifts from Melgen on his financial disclosure form.

So he LIED?

In a statement, the US Justice Department said it will consider its next step.

After the hung jury, Menendez’s political adviser, Mike Soliman, said ‘‘all things indicate’’ the senator will run for reelection, and an announcement will probably be made in the coming weeks. Menendez, who has been under indictment for 2½ years, has raised more than $2.5 million this year.

Menendez himself warned outside the courthouse: ‘‘To those who were digging my political grave so they could jump into my seat, I know who you are and I won’t forget you.’’ 

Sounds like a THREAT!

The Republicans have a thin, 52-48 edge in the Senate as they try to push through President Trump’s agenda.

The jury deliberated most of last week, then restarted midway through with an alternate after a juror was excused for a long-planned vacation. The jurors first reported on Monday that they couldn’t agree on a verdict, but the judge asked them to keep trying.

This time, the jurors said in a note that that had reviewed all of the evidence in great detail and ‘‘tried to look at this case from different viewpoints,’’ but they were ‘‘not willing to move away from our strong convictions.’’ 

Despite the evidence.

Melgen is already facing the possibility of a long prison sentence after being convicted in April of bilking Medicare out of as much as $105 million by performing unneeded tests and treatments. 

Bob's brother wouldn't bilk health funds for poor people!

The last sitting senator convicted of a crime was Ted Stevens of Alaska, a Republican found guilty in 2008 of concealing more than $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts. His conviction was later overturned because of prosecutorial misconduct, and he died in a 2010 plane crash. 

I'm sure I could go find the previous articles on him, but that pretty much says it all. 

Died in a plane crash, huh?

The Menendez case was the first major federal bribery trial since the US Supreme Court in 2016 threw out the conviction of Republican former governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia and narrowed the definition of bribery.

Expanding it would bring down the entire $y$tem.

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Related
:

Deal to Bolster Gun Background Checks Is Reached by Senators

Older children quieted younger ones at California school as gunman fired

"A high school student charged with sending death threats to fellow students, teachers, and staff was kicked out of a required mental health program, federal prosecutors said in a court filing. Josiah Leach, 19, originally pleaded not guilty to e-mailing a ‘‘murder list’’ in April targeting 16 students and staff at South Burlington High School. The list led to three lockdowns and the cancellation of classes....."

I was told he escaped  during the concert before saying he was removed after college students have been throwing glass bottles at police officers, and the city and the state had to take action,"and they did.

Senate Judiciary panel: Kushner had contacts about WikiLeaks, Russian overtures he did not disclose

That could affect Homeland Security, 'eh?

"President Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, has been guided through her Senate confirmation process by a private consultant who represents companies seeking millions in DHS contracts, an arrangement that creates conflicts of interest, according to a government-ethics watchdog group as well as current and former national security officials. The consultant, Thad Bingel, is cofounder of the Command Group, a prominent lobbying and consulting firm that offers ‘‘full spectrum solutions related to safety, security, and intelligence’’ to clients ‘‘on six continents.’’ During presidential transitions, unpaid consultants often serve as ‘‘sherpas’’ to help steer a nominee through the confirmation process. But it’s almost unheard of once an administration has legislative political appointees in place whose job it is to perform that function, current and former DHS officials said. A DHS official referred questions about Bingel to the White House."

That's called passing the buck, and didn't she work in the W Bush administration?

Also see:

"A Republican appointee in charge of a Department of Homeland Security center for outreach to faith and community groups has resigned after a report that he said black people had ‘‘turned America’s major cities into slums because of laziness, drug use, and sexual promiscuity.’’ The Rev. Jamie Johnson’s resignation came swiftly after CNN published the comments on Thursday....."

How come only him? Why not Al?

"The driver of a pickup displaying an expletive-filled message to President Trump and his supporters in the Houston area says she won’t remove the decal. Karen Fonseca says that she’s been stopped by law officers, but that they have no grounds to issue a citation. Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls said at a news conference Wednesday he supports freedom of speech but worried that profane messages could incite others and lead to confrontations that would disturb the peace he’s pledged to keep....."

That means he doesn't support freedom of speech, and I try to watch my language when it comes to profanity.

"A controversial free speech rally will go off as scheduled at noon Saturday on Boston Common no matter the weather, organizers said. In a statement posted late Wednesday night to Facebook, a group calling itself Resist Marxism, an umbrella organization putting on the event, said the “Rally for the Republic will take place on the Boston Common at noon. The perils facing our Constitutional Republic don’t slow down for the weather, and neither will we. Rain or shine.” The group didn’t immediately respond to a request for further comment. The organization will hold the rally despite being denied a city permit for the demonstration, which critics say will provide a forum for white supremacists, a charge the group adamantly denies....."

Do you hear a dog whistle?

*********

Time to drive away from Massachusetts as fast as you can:

"Your car is a big environmental nemesis, and Mass. is stepping in" by David Abel Globe Staff  November 13, 2017

Cars and other vehicles have surpassed power plants as the state’s largest source of greenhouse gases. 

So they say.

The Baker administration is considering sweeping measures that could transform the state’s transportation system, which is responsible for about 40 percent of emissions.

It’s a politically risky undertaking, and potential solutions — from raising the gas tax to increasing tolls to investing more in public transportation — could be expensive and unpopular. But without aggressive reductions in transportation emissions, progress on climate change can only go so far.

State Senator Michael J. Barrett, a Lexington Democrat who chairs the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy, said, “You can’t be serious about this issue without putting a price on carbon.”

Oh, THAT is what it is ALL ABOUT -- even if methane leaks are far worse (then the fracking and gas industries would have to pay, not you).

Barrett has proposed a bill, modeled after a similar policy in British Columbia, that would increase the tax on a gallon of gas from 8 cents to 36 cents over seven years. He describes the plan as a carbon fee, since the revenue would be returned to the public in the form of a rebate.

Then why take it in the first place if you are going to return it? 

Does he actually thing we buy that bull?

What is with these wasteful, greedy, money-hungry sex harassers on Beacon Hill anyway? 

It's not about the environment, it is about their LUST for LOOT!

Critics of his bill have noted that previous hikes in gas prices have only led to modest reductions in driving, and state officials said they oppose such efforts.

“The administration does not support implementing any additional ‘carbon tax’ that would adversely impact businesses’ and families’ utility bills,” said Brendan Moss, a spokesman for Baker.....

You better stick to that or you can kiss the governorship goodbye.

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That  agenda-pushing slop is a front page story while this is an A2 brief:

"Trans- Canada Corp.’s Keystone pipeline leaked an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil in northeastern South Dakota, the company and state regulators reported Thursday. Crews shut down the pipeline Thursday morning and activated emergency response procedures after a drop in pressure was detected resulting from the leak south of a pump station in Marshall County, TransCanada said in a statement. The cause was being investigated. Officials don’t believe the leak affected any surface water bodies or threatened any drinking water systems from the spill onto agricultural land, said Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist manager at the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources. ‘‘Ultimately, the cleanup responsibility lies with Trans-Canada, and they’ll have to clean it up in compliance with our state regulations,’’ Walsh said....." 

The thing hasn't even been open six months and there is already a leak?

Bottoms up but you first, 'kay?

"Authorities are looking for a trucker they say intentionally dumped 20 to 30 gallons of gasoline in a parking lot. A spokesman for the Springfield Fire Department says the driver apparently pumped gasoline into a diesel truck on Wednesday afternoon. He says when the truck started to run poorly, the driver pulled into a parking lot, bought a siphon kit from a nearby auto parts store, and siphoned the fuel onto the ground. Workers at an area pharmacy called authorities, but the trucker was gone by the time they arrived (AP)."

I oppose the waste of any resource.

"General Motors is recalling nearly 49,000 trucks worldwide to fix a fuel tank problem that increases the risk of a fire....."

I guess that means you won't be going home for Thanksgiving:

Thanksgiving travel expected to be at highest level in 12 years

Thanks for helping out with the greenhouse gas problem!

"Now the casual gatherings of the past have caught the attention of marketers, who see an opportunity to sell new outfits, more turkeys, extra decorations for holiday tables. Faux or no, Friendsgiving has real revenue potential. “Friendsgiving is approaching critical mass for retailers as a potential part of the holiday equation,” said Marshal Cohen, a retail analyst with NPD Group. Friendsgiving is a manifestation of a larger trend in holidays shifting from obligatory family affairs to celebrations with friends, Cohen said. The Friendsgiving origin story is not as well documented as its Plymouth forebear, but....."

They served that slop up right in front of you.

Just waiting by the phone for the next nuclear mishap.

**********
"An Uber driver is charged with selling heroin to undercover state troopers, prosecutors said Thursday. Ariel Pimental, 26, of Lawrence was arraigned Wednesday in South Boston Municipal Court on charges of distribution of a Class A substance and trafficking in heroin, Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley and Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett said in a joint statement. A not guilty plea was entered on his behalf, and the lawyer who represented him Wednesday had no comment. Pimental was ordered held on $60,000 cash bail. Prosecutors said investigators began monitoring him after receiving a tip over the summer that an Uber driver, later identified as Pimental, was selling heroin in the Boston area, the statement said. Troopers made six undercover purchases from Pimental through the fall after contacting him by phone, though not through the Uber app, according to authorities. In a statement, Uber spokeswoman Susan Hendrick said the company has a “zero tolerance policy for the use of drugs and alcohol.”

They took him to the Brockton where.....

"Three court officers at Brockton Superior Court were placed on paid leave, and a mother and daughter were charged Thursday as part of an investigation into an alleged heroin distribution ring at the courthouse, authorities said. Christine Lozanne, 54, of Norwood, and Tineisha Lozanne, 25, of Dorchester were arraigned in Brockton District Court on a handful of counts, including distribution of heroin and delivery of an article or drugs to a prisoner in jail. Each pleaded not guilty and were released on personal recognizance, according to the Plymouth district attorney’s office. They are due back in court on Jan. 18. The unidentified court officers will remain on leave, pending the results of an investigation, a court spokeswoman said. "

"Hoping to find an effective response to the opioid epidemic that has cost thousands of Massachusetts residents their lives, Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan and a Waltham think tank Wednesday launched a research effort they hope will keep people alive. The public-private partnership between the prosecutor’s office and the American Institutes for Research (AIR) is aimed at mining data collected by the government, the private sector, and addicts themselves about what has taken place. The research will focus on hospitals, treatment programs, and law enforcement response to the opioid crisis in Middlesex County, which Ryan’s office says has a mix of urban, suburban, and rural communities that make up the state as a whole. “This new initiative is a strategic approach that builds upon these existing resources and partnerships using data that will inform our future efforts and identify even more opportunities to combat this public health crisis,” Ryan said in a statement....."

Maybe you guys should start by looking in your own buildings, and it's marijuana that still generates the most outrage.

No wonder my hits have gone down; people simply don't understand satire in this politically correct tyranny that is being constructed all around us.

Red Sox prospect had a very rare, aggressive cancer, according to death certificate

At funeral, woman says Hudner, man he tried to rescue are ‘together in heaven’

In two Navy pilots — one white, one black — a parable for our times

"One was the son of a Mississippi sharecropper, the other a privileged New England prep school graduate....." 

"The Boston-born home robot known as among the 25 best inventions of 2017 for its ability to to interact with people in a more human-like way than personal assistants such as the Amazon Echo. The machine is based on the research of Cynthia Breazeal, an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It can perform functions that are now common to computerized assistants, such as provide a weather forecast or the latest news. It can also tell a joke or story on request. But unlike Echo, for example, Jibo uses speech and facial recognition to interact with members of a household. It can identify specific individuals and address them by name, rotate on its base to face someone who’s speaking to it, and shoot photographs on command. Jibo is priced at a hefty $899, compared to the Echo or Google Home, both of which have models that start as low as $50....."

All the better to spy on you with!

Thanks to a billionaire, 85-year-old can avoid the stairs

Warren Buffett is so wonderful!

Look who is towering over the North Station and looking towards the future:

Phone companies get new tools to block spam calls

"The Federal Communications Commission voted Thursday to allow a single company to own a newspaper and television and radio stations in the same town, reversing a decades-old rule aimed at preventing any individual or company from having too much power over local coverage. The Republican-led FCC eliminated the restrictions, known as a media cross-ownership ban, in a 3-2 vote along party lines....."

What difference does it make, really?

"Time Inc. is considering a sale to fellow publisher Meredith Corp., according to media reports. The New York Times initially reported that the New York-based publisher of Time and People is involved in a new round of negotiations with Meredith, the publisher of Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens. The report, based on anonymous sources, also says that billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch are backing Meredith’s offer with more than $500 million in equity....."

Wouldn't you rather get your news from Bezos?

Strong earnings from Wal-Mart, Cisco drive US stocks higher

"Surging online sales and strong food sales helped Walmart delivered its largest sales gain for established US stores in more than eight years. The company also raised its annual profit outlook Thursday after delivering third-quarter results that beat expectations. The report shows that Walmart’s aggressive discounting and its moves to spiff up its stores and increase online services are working to attract shoppers. It also underscores the efforts the discounter is making to narrow the gap between itself and Amazon."

"Siemens is planning to cut about 6,900 jobs and close at least two sites as Europe’s biggest engineering company attempts to turn around its struggling power and gas division after a sharp drop in orders. Half of the 6,900 jobs being eliminated will be in Germany, the Munich-based company said in a statement on Thursday. 6,100 of the jobs will be cut in the power and gas division, with the rest coming in the process-industries-and-drives and power-generation divisions." 

I'm glad they got the tax break then.

The Bo$ton Globe's Big Game Hunt

It's my front-page feature:

"Wildlife defender Jeff Corwin sued in hunting ground dispute" by Bob Hohler Globe Staff  November 17, 2017

Jeff Corwin is one of America’s most popular wildlife advocates and conservationists, featured on television embracing threatened species such as an orphaned spider monkey in Belize and a rescued Atlantic puffin in Iceland.

Yet in Norwell, where he grew up and still hunts to this day, Corwin — who has spoken to the United Nations on rainforest preservation — is accused of trespassing on an elderly couple’s property, chopping down woods to create a hunting ground, and hunting deer illegally.....

They bagged a hypocrite!

--more--"

"Trophies from elephant hunts in Zimbabwe were banned in the US; Trump just reversed that" by Darryl Fears and Juliet Eilperin Washington Post  November 17, 2017

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced late Wednesday that the remains of elephants legally hunted in Zimbabwe and Zambia can now be imported to the United States as trophies, reversing a ban under former president Barack Obama.

African elephants are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, but the US Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that large sums paid for permits to hunt the animals could actually help them ‘‘by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,’’ according to an agency statement.

We had to destroy the village in order to save it.

Under the Obama administration, elephant hunting trophies were allowed in countries such as South Africa but not in Zimbabwe because Fish and Wildlife decided in 2015 that the nation had failed to prove that its management of elephants enhanced the population. Zimbabwe could not confirm its elephant population in a way that was acceptable to US officials, and did not demonstrate an ability to implement laws to protect it.

Just another lever to use against Mugabe.

The Fish and Wildlife Service’s new statement did not specify what had changed in that country — where the African elephant population has declined 6 percent in recent years, according to the Great Elephant Census project — to allow hunting trophies. A spokeswoman said an explanation will be published in the Federal Register on Friday.

The shift in US policy comes just days after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke established an ‘‘International Wildlife Conservation Council’’ to advise him on how to increase Americans’ public awareness of conservation, wildlife enforcement, and the ‘‘economic benefits that result from US citizens traveling abroad to hunt.’’

‘‘The conservation and long-term health of big game crosses international boundaries,’’ Zinke said in a statement announcing the group’s creation. ‘‘This council will provide important insight into the ways that American sportsmen and women benefit international conservation from boosting economies and creating hundreds of jobs to enhancing wildlife conservation.’’ 

Look at him sling the elephant dung!

Safari Club International, a hunting advocacy group that has consistently opposed any restrictions on importing trophies from abroad, broke the news of the rule change a day ahead of Fish and Wildlife. Its statement included a detail that the agency omitted: A Fish and Wildlife official made the announcement at a forum the Safari Club cohosted in Tanzania, from which elephant trophy imports remain banned. An agency spokeswoman declined to confirm that account.

A representative of the group, along with several other hunting activists, joined Zinke in his office on his first day as he signed one secretarial order aimed at expanding hunting and fishing on federal lands and another reversing an Obama-era policy that would have phased out the use of lead ammunition and tackle in national wildlife refuges by 2022.

This week’s rule change applies to elephants shot in Zimbabwe on or after Jan. 21, 2016, and to those legally permitted to be hunted before the end of next year. A similar rule has been put into place for Zambia. Zimbabwe is currently in turmoil, with President Robert Mugabe under house arrest as a military coup unfolds.

In criticizing the decision, the Humane Society of the United States called the ban on Zimbabwean elephant imports reasonable because Zimbabwe is ‘‘one of the most corrupt countries on Earth.’’ The organization noted that Mugabe celebrated his birthday last year by dining on an elephant.

More on him in the article below.

‘‘It’s a venal and nefarious pay-to-slay arrangement that Zimbabwe has set up with the trophy hunting industry,’’ said Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society.

‘‘What kind of message does it send to say to the world that poor Africans who are struggling to survive cannot kill elephants in order to use or sell their parts to make a living, but that it’s just fine for rich Americans to slay the beasts for their tusks to keep as trophies?’’ Pacelle added.

I don't give a f*** what kind of message I'm being sent anymore. I've stopped receiving the mind-manipulating garbage, sorry.

Safari Club International president Paul Babaz said in a statement, ‘‘These positive findings for Zimbabwe and Zambia demonstrate that the Fish and Wildlife Service recognizes that hunting is beneficial to wildlife and that these range countries know how to manage their elephant populations.”

How absurd.

--more--"

"Zimbabwe military is discovering that removing Mugabe may not be so easy" by Kevin Sieff Washington Post  November 17, 2017

HARARE, Zimbabwe — On Thursday, President Robert Mugabe, 93, entered into talks with both the military commanders who placed him under house arrest, and officials from neighboring South Africa. His motorcade streaked through the city without any army escort, indicating he had at least some freedom of movement. In a photo from Thursday’s talks released by the government newspaper, he was smiling with his arm around the army commander responsible for the military takeover, appearing untroubled.

One wonders how he can do that when he is such a feeb

I'm inclined to believe the U.S. is behind the coup attempt, but others are saying something different.

For the 37 years he has ruled Zimbabwe — from independence to near-economic collapse — Mugabe has outwitted his opponents at every turn, using intimidation, electoral fraud, and purges of his own party. Now Zimbabweans are wondering: will he find a way to survive a coup?

By Thursday night, there were hints that Mugabe had at least bought himself some time. In meetings with a high-profile Zimbabwean Catholic priest and with military commanders, Mugabe resisted requests to step down, according to interviews with officials and press reports.

Many people would be happy to see him leave office. Mugabe has become deeply unpopular at home due to his repressive tactics and the country’s steep economic decline during his rule. Abroad, he has been criticized for his authoritarian rule and his seizure of farms owned by the white minority. He has regularly denounced the West for many of his nation’s ills.

And yet the military’s role in detaining Mugabe has become a flash point for a region that has attempted to enshrine democratic values in its charter.

Zimbabwean military leaders were aware of the sensitivities; after troops detained Mugabe and took over the state television station, a top general said early Wednesday morning that it was ‘‘not a military takeover.’’ The military leaders were prompted to act after the former vice president and one-time defense minister Emmerson Mnangagwa was fired earlier this month, paving the way for Mugabe’s wife, Grace, to succeed him.

Where is she now?

At least publicly, the military has said it won’t push Mugabe to leave — even though it effectively took control of the government.

‘‘The elephant in the room is the constitutional issue,’’ said Ibbo Mandaza, a well-known Zimbabwean academic, referring to the illegality of the military takeover. ‘‘This is a region where coups are not tolerated.’’

See why I titled the post as I did?

While some countries in southern Africa have evident democratic shortcomings, there have been few coups in recent decades. Many are still led by the parties that fought for independence from colonial rule.

The Southern Africa Development Community, a regional body of 15 nations, met in Botswana on Thursday to discuss the situation and seemed to tilt toward Mugabe, and against the military takeover.

In an outline of issues discussed in the meeting, the body described the ‘‘unconstitutional removal of democratically elected governments.’’

The African Union also has taken a hard line against unconstitutional changes of government. Its bylaws require it to sanction countries that have undergone a coup and bar them from participating in the organization’s activities.

Further complicating the situation is the question of who might succeed Mugabe.

Many of those close to the military are hoping that Mnangagwa becomes the head of a transitional government once Mugabe resigns. That prospect is worrying for many Western observers, who consider Mnangagwa to be corrupt and abusive. He was sanctioned by the United States in 2003 as one of several officials ‘‘who undermine democratic processes and institutions in Zimbabwe.’’

On Thursday, 115 civil society groups called on Mugabe to step down and a range of opposition leaders, including Morgan Tsvangirai, once considered his main political rival, said it was time for Mugabe to go.

As Zimbabweans debated their country’s future in conversations and on messaging apps, Mandaza offered his own prediction: he expected Mugabe to resume the work of the presidency within days....

--more--"

Related(?):

"China says it hasn’t dropped its plan for Korean de-escalation" by Simon Denyer The Washington Post  November 16, 2017

BEIJING — China said on Thursday it will stick by its ‘‘freeze-for-freeze’’ proposal to de-escalate tensions in the Korean Peninsula, contradicting a suggestion by President Trump that it had turned against the plan.

The apparent Chinese contradiction of Trump’s statement, coming just two days after the president’s return from his East Asia trip, highlights the lack of coherent policy put forward by the United States to actually usher North Korea along the path of denuclearization.

James Acton, co-director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the Trump administration deserved credit for raising the profile and urgency of the issue, and for pushing China to impose stricter sanctions than in the past, but he said there was a lack of unity and clarity coming from the US administration itself, over what actions from North Korea might open the door to negotiations, what an acceptable path was to de-escalation, and even whether its ultimate goal was still regime change.

It is a ‘‘question of preconditions.’’ 

Yanmei Xie, an expert on China and North Korea at Gavekal Dragonomics, said China’s announcement Wednesday that it is sending a special envoy to Pyongyang to brief the North Korean leadership ‘‘appears to give the lie’’ to Trump’s assertion that he had convinced Xi to use his influence to press Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons, but a spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry said Beijing insisted that dialogue was the only solution.

That is pretty strong stuff.

The plan has been rejected by Washington for a number of reasons, experts said: partly because it would undermine South Korea’s defenses at a time when the threat is higher than ever and potentially spook a key ally, partly because a similar idea was tried in the early 1990s and failed, and partly because it implies some kind of moral equivalence between the actions of the United States and those of North Korea.

Didn't stop them from reintroducing bilingual education here. 

Maybe we should all be learning Chinese, huh?

The proposal also lets China off the hook, and plays into its attempts to portray the issue as solely a problem between headstrong governments in Washington and Pyongyang. Experts say the risks of backtracking are also asymmetrical: the United States might cancel its annual military exercises, but if North Korea reneged on its side of the deal in subsequent weeks or months, those exercises would be very hard to reschedule.

China is the main economic backer of the North Korean regime, accounting for more than 80 percent of its official foreign trade.

It says it is strictly implementing sanctions agreed to by the United Nations Security Council, but experts say it is unwilling to go further, refusing to take action that might destabilize or bring down the regime, or simply turn a nuclear-armed Pyongyang into an enemy of Beijing.....

--more--"

China just found another ally in the region:

"Cambodia’s Top Court Dissolves Main Opposition Party" by Julia Wallace   November 17, 2017

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Cambodia’s highest court on Thursday dissolved the main opposition party, eliminating the most popular and viable challenger to the country’s authoritarian leader before elections next year.

Human rights groups and the United Nations said the decision to shutter the Cambodia National Rescue Party, or CNRP, would render the country essentially a one-party state, ending its post-Khmer Rouge experiment with pluralistic democracy.

The ruling followed a lawsuit filed last month by the government against the opposition, asserting that it was involved in a US-backed plot to overthrow the Cambodian People’s Party and its leader, Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Naaaaaah, we never do that!

In announcing the ruling, Dith Munty, the chief judge of the Supreme Court, said, “It is a serious crime, so the party will be dissolved according to Article 38 of the Law on Political Parties.” The judge is also a high-ranking member of the governing party and a close associate of Hun Sen.

There is no right to appeal.

The decision, which will see scores of opposition officials barred from politics and their party stripped of its parliamentary seats, was the culmination of a crackdown in which the opposition leader was jailed, media outlets closed, and activists harassed, with a particular focus on groups linked to the United States. 

Looks like everyone is catching on to the CIA cover organizations, 'eh?

The International Commission of Jurists, a nongovernmental rights group, said the hearing and Munty’s role in it made “a mockery of justice.”

“The Supreme Court is irreparably interfering with the rights of potentially millions of Cambodians to freely choose their political representatives and vote for them in the upcoming elections,” said Kingsley Abbott, the group’s senior legal adviser in Southeast Asia.

The United Nations’ special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, Rhona Smith, warned last month that the dissolution of the opposition would be a dangerous move toward one-party rule, saying it “would affect Cambodians’ voice and choice at all levels of government.”

The opposition has insisted that the charges of sedition are spurious, and that its activities have been aimed only at winning national elections and forming a legitimate government. It did not send a lawyer to Thursday’s hearing, saying that there was no use contesting what appeared to be a foregone conclusion.

Hun Sen has spent the past month publicly boasting about the opposition party’s imminent elimination. In an address last week, he set odds of 1 to 100 that the CNRP would be dissolved, and urged Cambodians to place cash bets.

The push to eliminate the opposition has also coincided with a turn away from the West, which had long kept the Cambodian government in check with aid that carried conditions for democratization.

I wonder what Morris has to say about it.

Nonetheless, Hun Sen has expressed a personal affinity for President Trump that seems to transcend his antipathy for the United States. On Monday, at a summit in Manila for Southeast Asian leaders, the two posed for a photograph — Trump giving a big thumbs-up — and Hun Sen gave a gushing speech in which he said, “I don’t know if you are like me, or I am like you.”

Hun Sen also praised what he called Trump’s lack of interest in human rights and interventionism, and suggested that the State Department and the US Embassy in Phnom Penh, were not appropriately implementing the Trump “policy line.”

--more--"

Makes you forget all about Duterte, huh?

Time to catch the train to Japan:

"Japanese Train Leaves 20 Seconds Early. Cue the Abject Apologies" November 17, 2017

TOKYO — It may have been the most profusely regretted 20 seconds in history.

Living up to Japan’s reputation for being precise as well as contrite, a train company in Tokyo delivered a formal apology Tuesday because one of its trains left a station 20 seconds early.

In a country where conductors will beg forgiveness when a train is even a minute late, the Metropolitan Intercity Railway Co. posted an apology on its website Tuesday for “the severe inconvenience imposed upon our customers” when the No. 5255 Tsukuba Express train left Minami-Nagareyama station in Chiba, a suburban prefecture east of Tokyo, at 9:44:20 a.m., instead of as scheduled at 9:44:40 a.m.

According to the statement, the train arrived at Minami-Nagareyama on time, at precisely 9:43:40 a.m. But when it came time to leave, the overeager crew closed the doors prematurely and pulled out of the station ahead of schedule. According to Metropolitan Intercity, no passengers missed the train or complained about the jump-start.

The effusive apology was in keeping with a culture where an ice cream company ran a television advertisement to express regret for raising the price of an ice cream bar by 10 yen last spring.

As foreign media began to cover the news Thursday, observers abroad expressed envy on Twitter at the trainspotting exactitude.

The Japanese were bemused by the foreign fascination.

--more--"

Also see:

"Indonesian farmers work in a field as Moung Sinabung volcano spews thick smoke in the background in Karo, North Sumatra on November 16, 2017. Mount Sinabung roared back to life in 2010 for the first time in 400 years, after another period of inactivity it erupted once more in 2013, and has remained highly active since."

That was the photo on page A3 of my printed paper.

*********

"Russia, Iran, Turkey to meet over Syria amid US tensions" by Henry Meyer and Taylan Bilgic Bloomberg News  November 16, 2017

Russia, Turkey, and Iran will hold summit talks on Syria next week as Ankara threatens a possible attack on US-allied Kurdish forces and tensions rise between Moscow and Washington over the future of the war-torn state.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will host his Turkish and Iranian counterparts, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani, on Nov. 22 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi to discuss Syria and regional developments, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news service said Thursday. The three powers are key players in Syria, where they’ve spearheaded a cease-fire initiative and are now cooperating on a political settlement.

As the battle to defeat ISIS nears its end, Russia is stepping up criticism of US military involvement in Syria after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said this week that American forces could stay on to ensure a political transition in the country. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Thursday branded the US-led coalition as ‘‘practically occupying forces’’ because they’re operating in Syria without the agreement of the government in Damascus.

Meaning U.S. forces are there illegally.

Putin, whose military campaign in Syria since 2015 has reversed the course of the civil war and shored up his ally, President Bashar Assad, is at odds with US policy that calls for the Syrian leader to leave power eventually as part of any peace agreement. Iran is also a major supporter of Assad, deploying troops and sending Iranian-backed militias to fight in Syria against opposition forces.

Thus the goal is still REGIME CHANGE, and so much Trump being different.

With the end of the campaign against Islamic State, which the United States and Russia fought on separate fronts, disagreements over the future of Syria are taking center stage as the Trump administration seeks to hang onto territory as a means of influence, said Elena Suponina, a Middle East expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, which advises the Kremlin.

‘‘Moscow believes that the Syrian government should get control over the entire territory of that country and then there should be political reforms,’’ she said by phone. ‘‘But it seems that the US, even after achieving its goal of smashing Islamic State, isn’t planning to leave Syria.’’

Putin and President Trump agreed in a joint statement at last week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam to support a political reconciliation in Syria with the participation of Assad. The United States doesn’t see a future for Assad in Syria at the end of the process, a State Department official said.

Turkey, which backed rebels seeking to overthrow Assad, warned this week that it may undertake a military operation against Kurdish forces in the northwestern Syrian town of Afrin, who are allied with the United States against Islamic State. ‘We’ve discussed joint steps with Russia,’’ Erdogan said before flying to Sochi on Monday for talks with Putin.

The three leaders are to discuss the efforts to reduce violence and to see what they can do to help the UN-led talks on a political transition in Syria, Erdogan’s spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said according to Anadolu.

Turkish relations with Russia plunged into crisis after its air force downed a Russian fighter plane on the Syrian border in November 2015. The two countries have since repaired ties and have grown increasingly close, with Putin and Erdogan meeting five times already this year.

‘‘Russia, Turkey, and Iran are cooperating very effectively and this summit will demonstrate that they will pursue their cooperation,’’ said Suponina. ‘‘The three countries have set out a road map for Syria.’’

How come peace always gets lost even with a road map?

--more--"

Related:

"Lebanon’s absent prime minister has accepted an invitation for an official visit to France, French and Lebanese diplomats said Thursday. The announcement added another layer of mystery to the circumstances of Hariri’s shocking decision to quit his post earlier this month....."

Also see:

"Suicide bomber strikes Kabul political gathering, killing at least 12" by Sayed Salahuddin and Pamela Constable The Washington Post  November 17, 2017

KABUL — A suicide bomber detonated a blast Thursday near a political gathering of supporters of one of Afghanistan’s most powerful factional leaders, killing at least 12 people in the latest attack in the country’s capital.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility in a statement carried by its Amaq News Agency, but the group often asserts links to attacks without offering proof. The Taliban denied any role.

LOOK WHO IS TALKING!!

Was there any TV coverage (not that I would believe it anymore)?

The bomber triggered explosives on his body after police stopped him outside the entrance of the hotel where the Jamiat-i-Islami party members were meeting, police said. The gathering was called to show support for a senior party member, Atta Mohammed Noor, a former militia leader and longtime governor of northern Balkh province. 

Isn't that Hekmatyar's party?

Oh, no, that's the Hezb-e Islami.

Atta has criticized the National Unity Government led by President Ashraf Ghani. Abdullah Abdullah, the government’s chief executive, is a senior member of Jamiat.

Atta was not at the hotel and had not been expected to attend the function, party officials said. He has made many enemies and been accused of abuses, but he commands a loyal following in the north.

He's one of the brutal warlords that the U.S. supports.

Hours later after the attack, Atta appeared on his private TV channel to say that ‘‘some circles within the government’’ were behind the attack. He did not elaborate.

Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN representative for Afghanistan, called the attack totally unacceptable. It was ‘‘an act of terror and a serious violation of international law,’’ he said in a statement. ‘‘The use of explosive weapons in civilian-populated areas must stop.’’

A number of former Jamiat militia commanders and a former cabinet minister, Abdul Sattar Murad, were at the event. It was not immediately known whether senior party officials were among those killed.

A security official said the death toll was at least 12. A spokesman for Kabul police said the dead included police officers and civilians, but he gave no figure.

--more--"

The U.S. may not be behind the coup in Zimbabwe, but they are certainly involved in destabilizing Venezuela:

"Ousted Venezuelan prosecutor seeks probe into Maduro" Associated Press  November 17, 2017

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Venezuela’s ousted chief prosecutor on Thursday asked the International Criminal Court to open an investigation into President Nicolas Maduro and four other senior officials for alleged crimes against humanity.

Luisa Ortega visited the Hague-based court accompanied by aides carrying large files of papers. She said she turned over to the court more than 1,000 pieces of evidence — including forensic reports, witness interviews, and expert testimony — linking security forces to more than 8,000 murders since 2015.

‘‘Nicolas Maduro and his government should pay for these crimes against humanity just as they must also pay for the hunger, misery, and hardship they’ve inflicted on the Venezuelan people,’’ she told reporters outside the court.

Ortega said she was taking her complaint to the international tribunal because ‘‘it’s not possible to punish these people’’ in Venezuela, where she said the judiciary has been taken over by the ruling socialist party.

Venezuela is one of more than 120 nations that have ratified the treaty creating the International Criminal Court. It is not certain the court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, will take up Ortega’s request. Bensouda’s office receives hundreds of such filings each year.

The prosecution office has received communications alleging crimes by Venezuelan authorities against political opponents since 2002. In 2006, prosecutors declined to open an investigation but added that the decision ‘‘can be reconsidered in the light of new facts or evidence.’’

More than 120 people were killed and hundreds more jailed and injured during months of antigovernment unrest that rocked Venezuela earlier this year.

--more--"

He's the biggest game in this hemisphere as far as the U.S. is concerned.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Globe's Family Juuls

Took a long drag:

"‘Juuling’: The most widespread phenomenon you’ve never heard of" by Beth Teitell Globe Staff  November 16, 2017

A new front has opened in the never-ending game of cat and mouse between teenagers and adults — over Juuling, a discreet form of vaping that is the most widespread phenomenon you’ve likely never heard of.

(Blog editors coughs violently at the self-internalized war terminology)

In some high schools, the “Juuling in the bathroom” problem has gotten so intense that administrators are sending home e-mails warning parents about the dangers of e-cigarettes in general — and, in particular, about a brand called Juul, which makes sleek devices that are easily concealed and often mistaken for thumb drives. 

What (cough)?

In Newton, an Oct. 31 e-mail to parents showed a cop-show-style evidence photo with a dire caption: “Here is a Juul device disguised as a Sharpie Pen.”

The e-mail also schooled parents who may be unfamiliar with the whole vaping trend. “Electronic cigarettes are devices that utilize stored electricity to heat a liquid into vapors, which are then inhaled by the user,” the letter read. “The liquid can be anything from a flavored water-type mixture to liquid nicotine to THC, the principal active element of marijuana.”

Where did you get this stu .... oh.

The letter warned that recent studies “suggest e-cigarettes are the latest ‘gateway’ to harder drug use.”

A psychologist who sees patients in Boston’s upscale western suburbs told the Globe that every teen he treats now uses a Juul. One patient, a student at a prestigious local private school, secretly used his parents’ credit cards to buy thousands of dollars of Juuls online, and then turned around and sold the devices and flavored pods to other kids at a profit.

It really is a richers paper, and it is nice to see the kids learning capital$m.

He was eventually expelled, said the therapist, who requested anonymity to protect his patients’ privacy. 

Oh. 

He's now attending UMass?

Beyond the fact it can get them in trouble, many kids think there’s nothing wrong with vaping or using a Juul. But John Ross, a hospitalist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital who contributes to the Harvard Health Blog, said long-term safety data on e-cigarettes do not yet exist.

On the positive side, he wrote in a 2016 post, “E-cigarettes are almost certainly less lethal than conventional cigarettes. Now the bad news. Nicotine in e-cigarettes may have several negative health effects. Chronic nicotine exposure may lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. . . . Inhaled nicotine increases heart rate and blood pressure. Nicotine is highly addictive in its own right, and it may lead to changes in the brain that increase the risk of addiction to other drugs, especially in young people.”

Then toke up, kids!

A Juul “starter” kit costs $49.99 if you buy it online from the company. It includes a re-chargeable Juul device, a USB charger, a warranty, and a four-pack of the flavored Juul pods. On its website, the company promises a “powerful vapor experience” and says the nicotine in one pod is approximately equivalent to a whole pack of cigarettes, “or 200 puffs.”

A banner across the top of the website clearly states that its products are for those 21 and older, and would-be purchasers are alerted that an adult must sign for delivery.

Juul pods come in kid-friendly flavors, but in a statement e-mailed to the Globe, the company emphasized its position that its products are intended for those 21 and older.

“JUUL Lab’s mission is to eliminate cigarette smoking by offering existing adult smokers with a better alternative to combustible cigarettes,” the statement read. “We strongly condemn the use of our product by minors, and it is in fact illegal to sell our product to minors. No student at any high school should be in the possession of a Juul product.

Even so, kids are managing to score what they need — one high schooler says Juul starter kits can be purchased on the resale market for around $80. Students are Juuling in the boys and girls rooms, hallways, and even in class, where they take a hit and then swallow the vapor or exhale it into their hoodies when the teacher isn’t looking.

One high schooler described why teens like it: “It gives you a head rush,” he said. “The flavors are good. You can do tricks with it. You can ghost it” — breathe the vapor out and then back in. “It looks cool.”

Although many parents have never, or only recently, heard of Juuling, every student approached by a Globe reporter in multiple suburbs not only was familiar with the product, but had a story.

“In history class today, a kid pulled something out of his pocket and a Juul fell out,” said a junior girl in Needham.

When you walk into the bathrooms, she added, you can hear the faint but distinct crackling sound the liquid makes. “It’s usually fairly obvious.”

It was the same deal in Newton. “People are [openly] charging them at school,” said a freshman girl hanging out at Rancatore’s ice cream after school.

“On Snapchat, I’ve seen people Juuling in class,” said her friend.

In Needham, high school principal Aaron Sicotte said the devices are so benign-looking that “we’ve had situations where [a Juul] has fallen out of a bag and a teacher has handed it back to them not knowing what they were giving back.”

He described the challenges of catching a student in the act: Because Juul pods come in flavors (including mango and crème brulee), the sweet odor “can almost be attributed to a light perfume,” Sicotte said.

“It can happen so fast,” he added. “A student can step in a bathroom stall or in a hallway and take a quick hit. It’s opening up a whole new set of options that students haven’t had in the past.”

Wellesley High School catches about two kids a month vaping, most using Juuls, according to principal Jamie Chisum. “We have a lot of suspicions about students selling cartridges here too.”

The school is planning an educational night in March for parents, and in the meantime, officials have increased monitoring of bathrooms.

PERVERTS!

In Braintree, Juuling has gotten so popular that two broadcast journalism students made a news-style video about it, complete with a female Juuler whose voice is changed to conceal her identity as she describes where she partakes.

“In the girls bathroom,” she says in a strange techno-voice, “and sometimes in class,
and I blow it into my sweat shirt.”

Like a lot of teenagers, Emily Linskey — the video’s cocreator and on-screen reporter — was surprised to learn that Juuls contain so much nicotine.

“I thought it was a way healthier choice than cigarettes — it won’t give you as much cancer,” she told the Globe. “But finding out that one pod is equivalent to one pack of cigarettes was shocking.”

It is! The doctor on the blog above said so! 

WTF is the reporter smoking?

Meanwhile, even as kids are Juuling to be cool, doing it the wrong way can backfire, at least that’s the word from two Needham High athletes.

Seniors confident in their social rank, they sat parked outside the school and criticized freshmen who are so inexperienced they huddle around a Juul and then try to look innocent when someone walks in on the action.

“If you know what you’re doing,” one of the boys said, “you go in a stall.”

A wealthy stall, that is.

--more--"

What if you don't speak the language?

"Mass. lawmakers approve bilingual education" by James Vaznis Globe Staff  November 15, 2017

In a move to boost the academic performance of more than 90,000 Massachusetts students who lack fluency in English, the state Legislature Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a measure that would allow local schools to teach students in their native tongue.

The House and Senate votes, which came within hours of each other, would effectively overturn a 15-year-old ballot measure that largely requires schools to teach students with language barriers only in English. Massachusetts is one of the few states nationwide with such a law.

Yeah, screw the will of the people when the globalist agenda is at stake and the state is a sanctuary for illegals. 

And you wonder why they come here?

Several legislators said English immersion is a one-size-fits-all approach to instruction that doesn’t work for all students, especially new immigrants who arrive in high school with no knowledge of English and have to study advanced concepts in trigonometry and biology in a language they do not understand.

“English language learners,” as students with language barriers are officially called, are one of the fastest growing populations in the state’s public schools, representing nearly 10 percent of all students.

“This is great day for the children in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Sal DiDomenico, an Everett Democrat who sponsored the bill, noting that bilingual education works when done right. “I grew up in the City of Cambridge. I saw the benefits and the great work done by our teachers and the learning happening in the classroom with immigrants from around the world.”

Another elite scum. 

Any sexual harassment or domestic abuse there?

The bill now heads to Governor Charlie Baker for his signature, but it remains unclear if he will support the measure.

“The governor will carefully review any legislation that reaches his desk,” said Brendan Moss, a spokesman, in a statement.

The bill, however, passed by veto-proof margins. Just one member of the House — Representative James Lyons, an Andover Republican, voted against it, while the Senate approved it unanimously.

The votes cap off years of lobbying by advocates of linguistic minorities who have long argued that the English-only approach was not working for many students. Across the state, English language learners as a group have among the lowest graduation rates and standardized test scores, although many immigrants eventually flourish academically and graduate as valedictorians.

When voters passed the ballot question 15 years ago, supporters argued that students would learn English faster if they were fully immersed in the language in all their classes. Teachers are allowed to use a student’s native language only sparingly to check for understanding. The law does allow for some limited use of bilingual education, such as programs that allow English-speaking students and non-native speakers to learn one another’s languages.

Advocates of bilingual education hailed Wednesday’s passage of the new legislation.

“We are very excited about this change for our students and their families,” said Helen Solorzano, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Teachers of Speakers of Other Languages, in a statement. “Teachers have long recognized that many English learners were falling through the cracks under the current system. With the passage of the . . . bill, we will be able to tailor programs to help all our students succeed academically.”

Who is going to pay for all this?

But Rosalie Porter, a Western Massachusetts resident who fought for passage of the English-only law, said she thinks it is a mistake to bring bilingual education back.

“I don’t have a good feeling about it,” said Porter, who is chairwoman of ProEnglish, a Washington, D.C., organization that advocates for laws that make English the official language. “The reason we got so much support for getting rid of bilingual education programs is because they were a failure.”

Oh, that has been forgotten because it was so long ago. Now you have to buy the political dogma, who cares about facts, prior results, etc, etc, etc. You have to believe in the illusion; otherwise, it all falls apart.

Then it is back to the Globe's applause.

--more--"

(FLIP)

"The man running against Roy Moore is pitching a New South in Alabama" by Annie Linskey Globe Staff  November 16, 2017

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Doug Jones already has a place in Alabama’s layered and, at times, traumatic history. His name appears in the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute for prosecuting two members of the Ku Klux Klan who murdered four black girls in a church bombing.

The exhibit on the 1963 bombing, which he pursued more than three decades after the fact, is titled: “Birmingham: The World Is Watching.”

Now it feels as if the world is watching again as Jones takes on another long-shot mission: campaigning for a US Senate seat as a Democrat in a state that President Trump won with 62 percent of the vote.

His chances of becoming the first Democrat in a quarter-century to capture a Senate seat from Alabama have dramatically improved since accusations emerged against iconoclast Republican Roy Moore in the last week of inappropriate sexual behavior with teenage girls.

Those allegations mean Moore is soaking up nearly all of the national attention leading up to the Dec. 12 special election to fill the Senate seat that was held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Many Senate Republicans have cut ties with Moore, saying they do not want him in the Senate. If he wins, some are saying they would try to expel him.

Jones, meanwhile, is buoyed not only by the salacious allegations against Moore, who has long been divisive, but also by his own strong standing as a law-and-order candidate with some cross-over appeal to Republicans.

Translation: the vote has been rigged, the narrative is being applied, and to hell with you.

The Democrat is betting that the voters, especially the younger generation living in the suburbs, have changed with the times and are willing to turn away from the state’s past and its legacy of divisive leaders such as segregationist Governor George Wallace, who ran for president three times from 1964 to 1972. 

OMG, they are dragging him out of the grave. 

Can you get anymore pathetic or desperate?

His message to them evokes the concept of a New South willing to exorcise racist “demons” — a word Jones uses.

They were exercised about 35 years ago, actually. Atlanta is the most cosmopolitan and diverse city in America.

Jones, 63, has a family story that straddles the two major industries that created Birmingham: One grandfather was a coal miner, the other a steel worker. He stayed in state for college and law school and then spent a year early in his career in Washington working on the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee for Democratic Senator Howell Heflin of Alabama. There he cemented a relationship with young Delaware Senator Joe Biden, who has stumped for Jones.

Jones is running what can best be described as a stealth campaign.....

Didn't work for Hitlery, and the Globe puke then flogs the Birmingham church bombing, the KKK, and even goes so far back as to cite the Civil War!!!! 

--more--"

Related:

‘Come Meet a Black Person’ says the invitation to a Georgia networking event

Race was like two months ago. The agenda has been driven to gender now, sorry.

Wrongfully Convicted Man Freed After 45 Years

That was the photo on page A2, and it turned out to be too good to be true.

"Berklee president confirms another misconduct case" by Kay Lazar Globe Staff  November 16, 2017

And up comes the breakfast.

She grew up in Taiwan, where stepping forward to accuse a professor of sexually inappropriate behavior — of forcing her to hug him before each piano lesson, and demanding she remove her jacket so he could scrutinize her dress — was not something young women do.

But after escalating e-mails from her piano teacher, Bruce Thomas, seeking a closer relationship, the Berklee College of Music junior reported him to school officials in the fall of 2015. She brought all of Thomas’s often bizarre late-night messages as evidence.

Still, it would take Berklee officials another year — despite mounting evidence brought to administrators of similar behavior by Thomas toward at least four other Asian students — to fire the 35-year veteran of the school.

Berklee president Roger Brown, in an interview Wednesday, acknowledged that Thomas was one of 11 faculty members terminated since 2004 for sexual misconduct. Brown defended how administrators at the famed music school have handled allegations of sexual impropriety.

The PR problem must be massive if he is granting interviews to the Globe.

Wednesday night, Brown sent a message to thousands of Berklee alumni noting the “impassioned and vigorous dialogue on campus” regarding sexual misconduct and predicted “it is likely that more details of abuse will emerge in the media.” He encouraged alumni who experienced sexual misconduct while at Berklee, or knew of someone who had, to report it to the college.

It's called DAMAGE CONTROL!

Brown and his administration have been under fire since the Globe reported last week that at least three faculty members had been quietly let go after students accused them of assault or harassment.

Hundreds of students walked out of class on Monday and attended a forum, led by Brown, at which he acknowledged that the problem was greater still, involving at least 11 faculty members over the past 13 years.

As the scandal continues to unfold, Brown said Wednesday that the school will seek guidance from a nationally renowned consultant on federal sexual abuse and harassment laws to help Berklee figure out its next steps.

Maybe HE SHOULD BE FIRED, huh?

In the interview, Brown declined to disclose the names of the 11 terminated faculty members — one of several demands made by students during Monday’s emotional forum — but acknowledged the three already identified by the Globe in last week’s article. 

Then he is STILL PROTECTING THEM and this WHOLE UPROAR regarding sexual harassment is not really changing a damn thing, huh? It's being used as a political cudgel, that's all. 

Your cause, your movement, your concerns, have been coopted by the same cla$$ of people that harass you, ladies!! WOW!

“If we terminate someone and release their name, their impulse is to blame the person” who reported them, increasing the chances the student’s name would be revealed, Brown said.

Yeah, he's protecting everyone's privacy (as the total surveillance state collects all data).

The Globe’s story last week noted that some cases of alleged sexual abuse at Berklee were quietly resolved with financial settlements that included confidentiality agreements, barring all sides from discussing the cases.

With all due respect to the victims, your acceptance of such things constitutes consent. You've discredited yourself!

Brown said that in the cases of the 11 faculty members fired for sexual misconduct, none received more than the amount promised in their employment contracts, which often ran three or more years.

“In most cases they were paid less, or sometimes a lot less,” he said.

Brown declined to elaborate further on the financial settlements offered to the faculty’s victims.

At Berklee, men predominate in sheer numbers, accounting for 68 percent of students and faculty, according to the school. That imbalance was cited during the Monday forum by faculty and students as contributing to a culture that, they said, has long tolerated sexual misconduct.

For the Asian woman who stepped forward to report Thomas’s behavior, the anxiety was as much about her family as it was the overwhelming male presence on campus.

“My family was against me reporting him, because it’s really a cultural thing,” said the woman, who graduated in May and asked to remain anonymous for fear of professional repercussions. “They think I have no chance to win this because he is an old American teacher and I am no one, so he can take revenge.”

In a series of e-mails and Facebook postings to the woman, Thomas wrote of his longing to see her after she stopped taking his classes, and noted that he was searching for her at various local concerts. The woman shared those e-mails and Facebook postings with the Globe.

After the woman reported Thomas in the fall of 2015, the college issued a written warning to him, according to Berklee. He had already received a verbal warning about his behavior toward another women, the college says.

She said she became aware of at least two other Asian women who had fended off similar behavior from the piano teacher. She said that in the spring of 2016, she brought copies to Berklee officials of e-mails he sent to those women. But she said Berklee officials told her they could not take action unless those two other women, who were too fearful to speak out, agreed to step forward.

Then in July 2016, another Asian woman complained to Berklee about Thomas’s aggressive and increasingly strange behavior.

Oh, he had a thing for the young Asian girls, huh? 

Whatta sickie!

Finally, in November, he was fired, according to the termination letter.

Brown defended his administrators’ actions, saying the woman must have misunderstood what Berklee officials told her when she brought evidence of Thomas’s misconduct toward two more students in 2016.

OMFG, did he just BLAME the VICTIM?

“If the message was interpreted that we can’t do anything if they do not come forward, that’s not true,” Brown said.

“We said, can you encourage someone to come forward, but we can do investigations whether someone comes forward or not.”

With all due respect, he's full of shit.

Berklee enrolls students from 151 countries, according to Brown. After the Globe’s story last week, one faculty member said she had heard from nearly four dozen students about concerns for foreign students.

“My students are telling me the vast majority of students who are preyed upon [by faculty] are international students who are afraid of losing their scholarship and student visas” if they speak out, said the faculty member who asked that she not be identified for fear of professional reprisals. “I didn’t hear this from one student, I heard this over, and over, and over, again.”

But he was in love, ah-hunh!

--more--"

************

Notice how love of money is never considered an addiction?

"GOP senator says he won’t support tax bill" by Alan Rappeport and Thomas Kaplan New York Times  November 15, 2017

WASHINGTON — Democrats attacked Republicans for inserting a repeal of the health care law’s requirement that most people have health insurance into the tax bill and for imposing a 2025 expiration date for individual tax cuts, while making the corporate tax cuts permanent.

Repealing the health law’s individual mandate allows Republicans to save more than $300 billion over 10 years under their plan. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 13 million fewer people would be insured after a decade without the mandate and health insurance premiums would rise by about 10 percent.

Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, chairman of the finance committee, downplayed the move to make the individual tax cuts temporary, not mentioning that change in an opening statement in which he defended his party’s right to undo the mandate. He later suggested that Republicans would be unlikely to resist if Democrats wanted to help them make the cuts permanent after they expire.

First of all, it looks like that Sachs guy was right after all. This bill is turning into the greatest heist of loot in history

The second thing is the disingenuousness of Hatch. Sure looks like he will be retiring if he is pushing that line.

Hatch and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, raised their voices and spoke over each other as they clashed over the injection of health care into the tax debate, with Hatch at one point demanding that his leadership of the committee be respected.

Good. One of these days I would like to see them start throwing fists. Then we would know it is no longer phony-bulloney smoke, sound, fury, and illusion.

The third day of debate over the tax bill in the Senate Finance Committee comes before an expected vote by the panel Friday. The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill after Thanksgiving while the full House is expected to vote on its bill Thursday.

Another Senate panel, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, voted Wednesday to approve legislation that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas drilling.

That legislation is to be merged with the tax bill, which Republicans are planning to pass using special procedures that protect against a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. Under that strategy, the drilling measure would share the protection from a filibuster.

Oh, I see!! They are going to lump all the things they couldn't get on their own into this.

Allowing drilling in the wildlife refuge, known as ANWR, is a longtime goal of the energy committee’s chairwoman, Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska.

This summer, Murkowski was among the Republicans to vote against repealing the health care law, making her a closely watched figure as the Senate plunges back into a debate over health care.

Asked Wednesday about the repeal of the individual mandate, she showed no eagerness to discuss the subject. “My whole focus this week, you’re going to be shocked to know, has been ANWR,” she said.

With President Trump having returned from Asia on Tuesday night, the administration has been actively pressing members of Congress to put any differences aside and get behind the bill..... 

More on that below.

--more--"

RelatedBC janitor who put five kids through college among those who would suffer under GOP tax plan

He's on page B12, and much less of a concern than the endowments of the elite that were featured on the front page yesterday.

Also see:

Former model accuses Al Franken of kissing, groping her during USO tour

NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

"The trial is in its 11th week. Democratic Senator Bob Menendez and Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen are charged with running a bribery scheme between 2006 and 2013 in which Menendez lobbied government officials on Melgen’s behalf in exchange for luxury vacations and flights on Melgen’s private plane....." 

Obviously, he is not Roy Moore despite the underaged hookers. 

I say go ahead with the verdict.

Over on the House side:

"Handful of House Democrats introduce impeachment articles against Trump" by Kevin Freking Associated Press  November 15, 2017

WASHINGTON — A half-dozen Democrats on Wednesday introduced articles of impeachment against President Trump, accusing him of obstruction of justice and other offenses, in an effort that stands little chance in the Republican-led House.

Indeed, the large majority of Democrats seem intent on having nothing to do with the effort either, as lawmakers await the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Democratic leaders have argued that the impeachment campaign riles up Trump’s GOP base, a critical bloc in next year’s midterm elections.

The five articles accused the president of obstruction of justice related to the FBI investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, undermining the independence of the federal judiciary and other offenses.

What this does it get them ready to go after the 2018 midterms when the rigged vote will deliver Congre$$ back into the hands of the Democrats (don't worry, the tax bill will be law by then).

‘‘We have taken this action because of great concerns for the country and our Constitution and our national security and our democracy,’’ Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee, said at a news conference to announce the effort.

Cohen said he understands that Republicans hold the majority in the House and are unlikely to allow hearings on the impeachment articles. He said the group will hold occasional briefings to explain each of the five articles of impeachment and where they believe Trump ran afoul of the law or committed misdeeds that warrant impeachment.

Well, they are holding them regarding Trump's nuclear authority, so..... ????

The obstruction of justice allegation stems from Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, which the lawmakers say was designed to delay and impede an investigation. 

What about Comey, who was a liar, leaker, and protector of the Clintons?

The articles of impeachment also charge that Trump has accepted without the consent of Congress emoluments from foreign states and from the US government. Finally, the articles of impeachment allege he has undermined the federal judiciary and the freedom of the press. 

The emoluments never mattered until now!

Cohen and other leaders of the impeachment effort disagreed that their effort could hurt Democrats in next year’s congressional elections. ‘‘I think the Democratic base needs to be activated. The Democratic base needs to know there are members of Congress willing to stand up against this president,’’ Cohen said.

When are you going to stand up to Israel, Steve?

Other representatives who have signed on to the resolution are Luis Gutierrez of Illinois, Al Green of Texas, Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Adriano Espaillat of New York, and John Yarmuth of Kentucky....

--more--"

Yeah, they are really flogging Russia today, and quite frankly I am sick of the steaming swirlies being served up by the JYT (we've lost Poland?) and WaCompost (front lines now in Germany?).

What a bunch of hypocritical conspiracy clowns, huh? 

HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!

They have lost ability to provide the narratives that undergird their lies and they are crying about it! 

They are squealing like stuck pigs and I'm crying tears of joy, folks! 

So when does the U.S. start to look like Zimbabwe?

**********

"Police: ‘Miracle’ more weren’t shot by rifle-toting man" Associated Press  November 16, 2017

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. — It’s a ‘‘miracle’’ more people weren’t hurt when a man dressed in camouflage, wearing body armor, and armed with two rifles sprayed a retail store with bullets, wounding one man, before being tackled by police, authorities said Wednesday.

Police in Cheektowaga, near Buffalo, said the gunfire erupted around 2:45 p.m. Tuesday outside a Dollar General store. The gunman fired repeatedly at the store’s entrance from outside while several customers and employees were inside, police Chief David Zack said.

When police arrived, witnesses pointed out the gunman, who attempted to run away after being hit by a bystander’s vehicle before being tackled by officers.

Police identified the suspect as Travis Green, 29, of Buffalo. His mother said her son and his wife had recently broken up.

A pump-action, AR-15-style rifle was used to fire at least 20 rounds during the shooting, police said Wednesday.....

They want to ban the AR-15s in light of las Vegas. 

What coincidental timing, huh?

--more--"

Miracle? Or more staged and scripted BS to nudge the agenda along?

Related: 

"The gunman, identified by the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office as Kevin Janson Neal, killed his wife, shot neighbors, attacked an elementary school and drove through the small rural community, firing at motorists Tuesday morning. He killed a total of five people and injured 10, including seven children, before he was killed by the police. One child who was shot at the school was in critical condition Wednesday; other children suffered less serious injuries from flying debris. Phil Johnston, assistant sheriff of Tehama County, told reporters Wednesday that investigators had reviewed video from the school’s security system that showed the gunman walking the hallways and entering a restroom, but appearing to get frustrated that the classroom doors were locked. The school went on lockdown at the sound of gunfire, Johnston said. Johnston said that before the shooting, the sheriff’s office had Neal was under surveillance by police, but....."

Another Sandy Hook scam, but why way back on A9? 

Is it because it involves domestic violence, much more of a danger to women then the grab-ass fest I read every day?

I must be crazy, right?

"Employees of a Hawaii psychiatric hospital will be placed on unpaid leave for 30 days while authorities investigate how a patient who was tried and acquited on a murder charge escaped and flew to California over the weekend....."

Was after he tried to swim?

**********

Forget the small arms fire:

"Trump gives himself high marks on foreign policy, Asia trip" by Michael D. Shear   November 16, 2017 

Why has the news org byline of New York Times has been scrubbed?

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday boasted that nearly 10 months of his “America First” foreign policy has restored strength and respect to the United States on the world stage after years of what he deemed failed leadership under his predecessors.

Hours after returning home from a 12-day, five-country excursion to Asia with few concrete announcements, Trump nonetheless declared the trip a success in uniting the world against North Korea and insisting on reciprocal trade from Asian nations. 

The NYT has obviously declared it a failure.

“America’s renewed confidence and standing in the world has never been stronger than it is right now,” he said. “This is exactly what the world saw: a strong, proud, and confident America.” 

In the personification of him?

Announced with little notice and delivered in the early afternoon from the Diplomatic Room of the White House, the president’s speech was designed to offer a sweeping and positive assessment of his own performance as the nation’s commander in chief and top diplomat.

Implying narcissism?

“America is back,” he said.

That assertion flies in the face of critics who say Trump has abandoned the United States’ status as a global superpower by retreating from trade agreements and backing out of the Paris climate accord. The president’s political rivals accuse him of straining relationships with allies in NATO and elsewhere while embracing despots, including President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.

But Trump used his Wednesday speech to rebut that charge, noting his efforts to rally Arab nations to fight terror financing during a trip to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in the spring. 

Yeah, remember that and look at the region now!

The president boasts his tough talk with NATO allies has led those longtime partners to increase their commitments to the common defense of the alliance, a demand that Trump had been making since he was a candidate.

In talking about his own foreign policy achievements, Trump has often bragged about the personal relationships he has forged with his counterparts in China, the Middle East, and elsewhere. 

It was okay when other presidents did it. It was considered a foundation of their diplomatic report, remember?

But in Wednesday’s speech, Trump tried to highlight what his advisers believe were three successes during the just-concluded trip to South Korea, Japan, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines: uniting opposition to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions; strengthening economic alliances; and insisting on fair trade.

Critics of Trump’s foreign policy have hammered him on all of those fronts.

They argue that the president’s use of childish names for Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, has deepened the possibility of a nuclear crisis, not reduced tensions. And they say Trump’s retreat from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement has robbed the United States of influence in the region.

In fact, Trump ended his Asia trip without appearing to conclude any of the one-on-one trade deals with individual nations that he often said would be the hallmark of his administration.

What about the billions worth of deals he signed in China? 

You forget that because of the jet lag?

Despite that, Trump hoped to use the midafternoon speech to galvanize public opinion behind the idea that his leadership on foreign policy is restoring a new sense of optimism about the United States around the world.

--more--"

Related:

China Will Send Envoy to North Korea, Likely to Urge Nuclear Talks

Point, Trump!

Tillerson tells Myanmar leaders to investigate attacks on Rohingya

There they go again, waving kids at you to support the larger geopolitical goals of empire. 

So when will the jew$paper start waving around Palestinians, 'eh?

Gunmen kill 19 in southwestern Pakistan

Also see:

"The top US counterterrorism official is leaving the federal government at the end of the year, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats said Wednesday. When President Trump took office in January, administration officials asked Nick Rasmussen to stay on as director of the National Counterterrorism Center through the transition. More recently, Rasmussen decided to end his 27 years of government service, including three years as director of the center and more than two years as deputy director. Russ Travers, the deputy director of the counterterrorism center, will be acting chief until Trump nominates a successor. Rasmussen has not publicly disclosed his future plans."

So when is the next false flag inside job anyway?

"The Senate has confirmed President Trump’s choice for Army secretary. Senators voted, 89-6, Wednesday to approve the nomination of Mark Esper, defense giant Raytheon’s top lobbyist, for the Army’s top civilian post. Massachusetts senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren voted against Esper’s nomination. Warren cast her vote out of concern for the number of Pentagon appointees to senior leadership positions coming from the defense industry, a spokesperson said. Trump’s first pick for the job, Vincent Viola, dropped out in early February because of financial entanglements. Mark Green, Trump’s second choice for Army secretary, stepped aside in May amid criticism over his remarks about Muslims and LGBT Americans....."

Look at the bipartisanship, huh?

"As I have written in the past, more than two-thirds of the 400 voters I speak with weekly share a frustration: They are both disappointed in Trump and discouraged by the Democratic Party and its message of “no.” The political extremes are hijacking our narrative. We hear a white supremacist say something hateful and some of us imagine that it reflects racist and hateful views of all Trump supporters. An antifa activist screams that violence is necessary against our authoritarian president, and some imagine that it reflects a liberal will to remove Donald Trump by any means necessary. In reality, we agree on more than you think....."

The rest is crap to reinforce the agenda and push it along. Don't believe a word of it.

Yes, all we need is a hero to save us!!

That would be Charlie Baker, wouldn't it? 

I mean, he is pro-woman -- whatever that means in this degenerate state!

**********

"US restarts nuclear testing facility in Idaho after 23 years" by Keith Ridler Associated Press  November 16, 2017

BOISE, Idaho— Federal officials have restarted an eastern Idaho nuclear fuel testing facility amid efforts to boost the nation’s nuclear power generating capacity and possibly reduce concerns about nuclear power safety.

‘‘It went well and as expected.’’

The Energy Department proposed resuming operations at the Transient Reactor Test Facility in 2013 as part of former president Barack Obama’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by generating carbon-free electricity with nuclear power. Nuclear power currently produces about 19 percent of the nation’s energy.

I have been told Trump wanted to wipe away his legacies. WTF?

Energy department officials hope the testing facility will help researchers create fuels that leave behind less nuclear waste, that are harder to turn into weapons, and that are less likely to lead to a reactor core meltdown.

The United States has no permanent nuclear waste repository, which means the waste is often stored at the same sites where it is produced — often near large cities.

Remember that false flag inside job I was asking about?

Accident-tolerant fuels could help to avoid the type of reactor core meltdowns that occurred at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania in 1979 and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan in 2011.

How are things over there anyway?

‘‘Trying to save the nuclear industry is sort of a fool’s errand,’’ said Wendy Wilson, executive director of the Idaho-based Snake River Alliance, a nuclear watchdog group. ‘‘We’re going to spend taxpayer money to save an industry that is dying due to economic reasons.’’

And that can kill us with all its waste!

 John Bumgardner, director of the laboratory’s Transient Testing Program, said Wednesday with global warming and a desire for non-carbon sources of energy, nuclear power has become for some an attractive alternative.....

(Blog editor can only shake his head at the insanity of such a proposal, regardless of how you feel regarding global fart mist)

--more--"

So what is the problem with solar?

"While severe storms prompted the flooding, analysts said the devastation may have been exacerbated by the illegal construction of homes on the fringes of Athens. The two towns hit hardest by the floods — Mandra and Nea Peramos — are known to have shoddy infrastructure. In September, the regional authorities allocated European Union funds to build a new irrigation network for Mandra, though the construction had not begun. On Tuesday, authorities in the Aegean island of Symi, known for its colorful neoclassical houses and picturesque harbor, declared a state of emergency after rainstorms pummeled the area. On Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras declared a day of national mourning. “This is a very difficult time for Greece,” he said in a statement....."

Iceberg, right ahead!

It's a “a sure sign of winter in New England,” even if winter is 5 weeks away (sigh).

"A famous Arab singer will stand trial next month in her native Egypt over a video clip in which she advises a concert fan against drinking from the Nile River, officials said Wednesday. The clip shows Sherine Abdel-Wahab, widely known by her first name, saying ‘‘You are better off drinking Evian,’’ a reference to a French brand of mineral water. Sherine now faces a host of charges, including incitement and harming the public interest. The remark, clearly made in jest, set social media ablaze, with some users calling it an insult to Egyptian national pride and others saying the real culprits are those who pollute the river....."

Here, have a Scotch instead -- and don't expect any help from the Iranians.


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"Dartmouth professor accused of groping two women in 2002" by Deirdre Fernandes Globe Staff  November 16, 2017

One of the Dartmouth College psychology professors at the center of a criminal investigation into sexual misconduct is accused of groping two women 15 years ago. In one case, college administrators were aware of the accusation, yet soon after gave him a teaching award and promoted him.

That's crazy!

Dartmouth College officials and the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office have said very little about the current allegations against professors Todd Heatherton, Paul Whalen, and Bill Kelley. All three are popular and prolific scientists who have brought millions of dollars in research funding to the school. They have been on paid leave this semester, awaiting the outcome of the investigation.

But a former Dartmouth professor and a graduate student have in recent days recounted two separate allegations of inappropriate touching by Heatherton.....

--more--"

RelatedCaught in a financial crisis, UMass Boston begins to cut jobs

No, they are not cutting the several politically connected people who have been hired at UMass Boston in recent years, while budget woes forced cutbacks in class offerings and even office supplies. Amid an unprecedented financial crisis, the university has hired at least seven people with connections to state government and politics as administrators with salaries between $81,000 and $222,000 in the past year and a half, records show. The hires include the former head of the state Democratic Party, a former legislative aide, and a former state commissioner of environmental protection....."

Yeah, the budget cuts have come at the expense of students, instead of from the offices of administrators with six-figure salaries

Turns out government is nothing but a system of political patronage! That's your lesson for today!

At least there hasn't been any sexual harassment there, right?

Now take it off, take it all off (Jerry, Jerry, Jerry!) 

You need to dump that zero and get yourself a hero!

"Vermont woman who shot and killed 4 sentenced to life in prison" Associated Press   November 16, 2017

BARRE, Vt. — A Vermont woman who shot and killed a state social worker and three of her own relatives as revenge for losing custody of her then 9-year-old daughter was sentenced Wednesday to life without parole.

Vermont Superior Court Judge John Pacht announced the sentence at the end of three-day hearing for 43-year-old Jody Herring.

Herring shot and killed Lara Sobel, a social worker as she was leaving work at the state’s Department for Children and Families in Barre on Aug. 7, 2015. Police later discovered that she also had killed her two cousins, sisters Rhonda and Regina Herring, and an aunt, Julie Falzarano, in their Berlin home.

The shootings rattled the small state of Vermont, which has been among the safest states in the country, and led to fears among social workers, threats against them and changes in security measures at state office buildings.

‘‘The case had consequences far beyond the severe damage it has done to the four individuals who were killed and their extended families,’’ said Matthew Levine, an assistant state attorney general who helped prosecute the case.

--more--"

It looked cathartic to me.

"Canton-bred comedian Bill Burr is being criticized for comments he made on his podcast about Louis C.K., Burr went on to say that he could tell his own “sexual misconduct” stories involving women, adding, with laughter, “. . . It was never any of the young ones. It was always these middle-aged [expletive] women, couple glasses of red wine, oh God, and they’d come at you with their va-va-va-voom energy. . .”

Is that how she got Macron?

Btw, the racist statue needs to be removed and buried in Maine.

Makes me so angry -- but only for a brief moment.

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What is there to left to talk about?

Think I will go get a cup of coffee and call it a day as the darkness descends.