Sunday Reads: A world full of ignorant people is too dangerous…

 

A world full of ignorant people is too dangerous…

-Paul Verrall from Born Yesterday

 

 

Good afternoon…..

Now…

This is frightening:

 

Donald Trump Says He May Want To Be President For Life – News & Guts Media

Speaking at a GOP fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago Saturday afternoon, Donald Trump dropped a bombshell.  First, Trump talked about the 2016 election, which he won but still can’t get past.  He remains distraught over a “rigged system” and wonders why Hillary Clinton hasn’t been prosecuted, among many topics in a free-wheeling speech.

But his off-the-cuff remarks took a bizarre turn when he praised China’s President Xi Jinping for consolidating power and effectively making him president for as long as he wants.  It’s an appealing idea to Trump.

“He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great,” Trump said. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot someday.”

Pause and think about that for a second.  What would possess him to say this out loud?  This is scary territory.  The remarks were closed to the press but a recording was obtained by CNN.

What the fuck, right?

 

By the way, Flake: ‘There should be’ Republican challenger to Trump in 2020 – CNNPolitics

Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said he thinks President Donald Trump will and should have a Republican challenger in the 2020 presidential election.

“I do think the President will have a challenge from the Republican Party. I think there should be. I also think that there will be an independent challenge,” the Arizona senator said in an interview for David Axelrod’s show…
Uh…a challenger in 2020? How the hell these people still see that tRumphole in office in 2020 is beyond me…(I realize that he will more than likely get away with all this shit, but fucking hell.)

More Tweets of note:

 

I know a lot of you are like me, overwhelmed at all the shit. Who knows, maybe it is just that we are not meant to be up in the morning…Check this out: Can’t get to sleep early? Science is on your side. – Vox

We live in a world that worships the early riser. Think of everything we’re told on the virtues of waking up early:

”The early bird catches the worm.”

”Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man… “ (Ben Franklin’s most famous saying).

”Nice of you to join us today” (snarky dictum of teachers and bosses everywhere).

The message is clear: Starting early is the way to get ahead; lateness is ugly as sin.

In 2016, I reported on the science of chronobiology, which finds we all have an internal clock that keeps us on a consistent sleep and wake cycle. But the key finding is that everyone’s clock is not the same. Most people fall in the middle, preferring to sleep around 11 pm to 7 am. But many — perhaps 40 percent of the population — don’t naturally fit in this schedule.

There are night owls among us — whose whole circadian schedules are shifted later — and morning larks, who are shifted earlier. These traits are determined by genetics and are extremely hard to change. What’s more, the research is finding that if we fight our chronotypes, our health may suffer.

But most striking to me wasn’t the health implications of messing with your clock. It was the stigma late sleepers feel in a society ruled by early risers. Simply put: These late sleepers are tired of being judged for a behavior they cannot easily control. If they can’t change their sleep patterns, maybe society should become more accepting of them.

Then there is a story like this to just get you so pissed off….There’s No Such Thing as ‘Consensual Sex’ When a Person Is in Police Custody | American Civil Liberties Union

On the night of Sept. 15, 2017, Edward Martins and Richard Hall, narcotics detectives with the New York Police Department, pulled over an 18-year-old woman and her two male friends for being in a park after dark. After finding marijuana in the car’s cup holder, they handcuffed the woman and told her friends to leave. The woman says that the detectives then put her in their unmarked police van with tinted windows and raped her as she cried and repeatedly told them “no.” Semen collected in a forensic evidence kit matched the DNA of both men.

In November, Martins and Hall resigned from the NYPD and currently face rape and kidnapping charges. Both pleaded not guilty. Their defense against these allegations is almost as disturbing as the crimes they are accused of. They claim that they had consensual sex with the woman while she was in their custody.

And here’s the thing: This defense might actually work because New York state law allows it.

Read the rest of it at the link…

Tonight is the Oscars…will you be watching?

03/04/2018 Cartoon by MStreeter

“Statuette” (Mark Streeter/Savannah Morning News)

 

 

 

Hope everyone has a good day and evening…this is an open thread.

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Sunday Reads: The “Twits” are strong with this “Orange” dickhead.

 

The image above is from the Instagram of one of the survivors from the Valentine’s Day murders at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. It is just one of the victim reactions to the killings…another has been the vocal call outs and public outcries from many MSDHS students. They are not taking the “thoughts and prayers” bullshit. They want action. Take a look at what these brave student survivors are doing to stand up for their murdered friends and fellow children nationwide.

 

As many have pointed out, the out spoken nature of this reaction is different from the mass murders of before. Perhaps because the media is actually paying attention to them?

I don’t know. But as you can see, tRump has been busy this morning:

Fucking hell…

 

Parkland students are fighting back…

I only want you to realize that this is the world we live in….

 

And this is the pretender to the throne, the president that we have to serve as protector in chief:

 

 

This is an open thread…


Sunday Reads: “Kook” and Kremlin Spook

 

Yesterday evening Time Magazine broke a news story about Carter Page. Carter Page Touted Russia Contacts in 2013 Letter | Time

Apparently Page had written a book on his “academic” views of Russia, and in trying to get the book published…actually bragged about being a spy. However, in the last paragraph of the article, the editor who has remained anonymous summed up his opinion of Carter in very much the same way that most people view Carter:

“I just came to see him as a kook”

Yeah, I think that we all can agree about that…

From the link above:

Former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page bragged that he was an adviser to the Kremlin in a letter obtained by TIME that raises new questions about the extent of Page’s contacts with the Russian government over the years.

The letter, dated Aug. 25, 2013, was sent by Page to an academic press during a dispute over edits to an unpublished manuscript he had submitted for publication, according to an editor who worked with Page.

“Over the past half year, I have had the privilege to serve as an informal advisor to the staff of the Kremlin in preparation for their Presidency of the G-20 Summit next month, where energy issues will be a prominent point on the agenda,” the letter reads.

As anyone reading or watching the goings on with Page, it doesn’t take much to see how bumbling a fool he was…maybe that was the main attraction for the Russians? (That is my own question to ponder, as you know Putin wants to create chaos.)

As this excerpt from the book COLLUSION by Luke Harding  in Politico describes…the two Russian spies who recruited Page described him as an “idiot”:

Why Carter Page Was Worth Watching – POLITICO Magazine

As FBI wiretaps showed, the techniques for meeting with Buryakov were distinctly old-school. Typically, Sporyshev would ring Buryakov and tell him he had to give him “something”—a ticket, a book, a hat, an umbrella. The two would meet outdoors. This sometimes happened outside Buryakov’s bank office on Third Avenue—an inconspicuous brown tower with a 1960s abstract sculpture at street level opposite the foyer. They would exchange documents.

Sporyshev’s biggest headache was finding Americans willing to become intelligence sources for Russia. This was tough. He had approached two young women working in financial consultancy who had recently graduated from a New York university. Sporyshev told Podobnyy he was skeptical anything would come of it. Or, as he put it in chauvinist terms: “In order to be close you need to either fuck them or use other levers to execute my requests.”

The Russian spies, however, had one promising lead. This was a guy—an energy consultant based in New York City. Unlike the women, he was eager to help. And, it appeared, keen to make money in Moscow. There was a drawback: The source—whom the FBI called “Male-1”—was something of a dimwit.

The FBI intercepts record:

PODOBNYY: [Male-1] wrote that he is sorry, he went to Moscow and forgot to check his inbox, but he wants to meet when he gets back. I think he is an idiot and forgot who I am. Plus he writes to me in Russian [to] practise the language. He flies to Moscow more often than I do. He got hooked on [the Russian state energy company] Gazprom, thinking that if they have a project, he could rise up. Maybe he can. I don’t know, but it’s obvious he wants to earn loads of money.

SPORYSHEV: Without a doubt.

On a little more about Page:

In a blog post for Global Policy, an online journal, he wrote that Putin wasn’t to blame for the 2014 Ukraine conflict. The White House’s superior “smack-down” approach had “started the crisis in the first place,” he wrote.

Page’s rampant pro-Moscow views were at odds with the US State Department under Clinton and with almost all American scholars of Russia. After all, it was Putin who had smuggled tanks across the border into eastern Ukraine. Not that Page’s opinions counted for much. Global Policy had a small circulation. It was edited out of Durham University in the north of England.

His relationship with the journal fizzled out when he wrote an opinion piece lavishly praising a pro-Russian candidate ahead of the U.S. presidential election—Trump.

And then something odd happened.

In March 2016 candidate Trump met with the Washington Post’s editorial board. At this point it seemed likely that Trump would clinch the Republican nomination. Foreign affairs came up. Who were the candidate’s foreign policy advisers? Trump read five names. The second was “Carter Page, PhD.” Given Trump’s obvious lack of experience of world affairs, this was a pivotal job.

One former Eurasia Group colleague said he was stunned when he discovered Page had mysteriously become one of Trump’s foreign policy advisers. “I nearly dropped my coffee,” he told me. The colleague added: “We had wanted people who could engage in critical analysis of what’s going on. This is a guy who has no critical insight into the situation. He wasn’t a smart person.”

Read more at the link…some insight as to what Page spoke of while he was in Russia, and how

Page’s loyalty to the SVR was breathtaking. Podobnyy wasn’t an “imagined bogeyman” but a career operative working against the interests of the United States. And, moreover, one who had bad-mouthed Page behind his back, calling him “a bit of an idiot”.

Whatever Page’s motives were for helping Russian intelligence—greed, naivety, stupidity—his actions surely justified the FBI’s interest in him. There was a simple way of avoiding U.S. surveillance and a FISA court warrant. It could be summed up like this: Don’t hang out with Russian spies.

All this talk of Russia, it may be a good time to watch Stanley Kubrick’s classic, Dr. Strangelove….

Buried In Trump’s Nuclear Report: A Russian Doomsday Weapon : Parallels : NPR

The Trump administration released a report on the state of America’s nuclear weaponry on Friday. The assessment, known as a Nuclear Posture Review, mainly concerns U.S. nukes and missiles.

But buried in the plan is a mention of a mysterious Russian weapon called “Status-6.” On paper, at least, Status-6 appears to be a kind of doomsday device. The report refers to it as “a new intercontinental, nuclear-armed, nuclear-powered, undersea autonomous torpedo.”

“The radius of total or near-total destruction is the size of a pretty large metropolitan area, actually,” says Edward Geist, a Russia specialist at the Rand Corp. who has spent time looking at the weapon. “It’s difficult to imagine in normal terms.”

If it sounds somewhat familiar…the Status-6 has made an appearance before…

Status-6 made its first public appearance in 2015, while Russian President Vladimir Putin was visiting with his generals in the city of Sochi.

Russia state television reported on the visit. The camera shows Putin seated at a long table. Then it cuts to a shot over one of the general’s shoulders. He is looking at what appears to be a drawing of a new nuclear weapon called the Oceanic Multipurpose System Status-6.

Here is the main point:

Status-6 would launch from beneath a Russian submarine. It would shoot at a depth too deep to be intercepted and travel for thousands of miles. Upon reaching its target along the U.S. coastline, it would detonate, swallowing up whatever city happened to be nearby.

“The only possible U.S. targets are large port cities,” says Mark Schneider, a senior analyst with the National Institute for Public Policy, wrote in an e-mail. “The detonation of Status-6 in any of them would essentially wipe out their population into the far suburbs.”

“The detonation would cause a very large amount of radioactive fallout,” adds Pavel Podvig, an arms control expert who runs a blog called Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces. Podvig believes the weapon could potentially bathe the entire Northeast Corridor in radioactive soot.

Status-6 would probably be used as a “third-strike” weapon of last resort. If Russia fell under attack from the U.S. and couldn’t retaliate with its missiles, it might trigger Status-6: a doomsday machine. Or at least a doomsday-ish machine.

 

Did you all see the tweet from Paul Ryan before he deleted it yesterday?

Via Reuters: House Speaker Ryan deletes tweet praising $1.50 pay increase

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan deleted a tweet on Saturday cheering a $1.50 increase to a Pennsylvania school secretary’s weekly pay because of a $1.5 trillion tax cut after it drew criticism that he was out of touch with ordinary Americans.

Ha, no shit!

The Trump administration and Republicans have cast the massive tax cuts, which came into effect in January as creating jobs and boosting economic growth. But critics have argued that they benefited the rich and would blow up the national debt.

Some social media users accused Ryan of being out of touch, with California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom posting on Twitter that “Guess someone told Paul Ryan you shouldn’t go around praising yourself for giving a working person an extra $1.50 a week — because he deleted this tweet.”

Paul Ryan Removes Tweet Bragging About GOP Tax Bill After Widespread Mockery | Mediaite

On Saturday, Ryan tweeted a link to an Associated Press story with a summary that said, “A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, PA, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week … she said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for the year.”

Immediately after Ryan tweeted the story, many left-of-center critics pounced on the speaker for praising the minuscule raise — given that annual Costco membership are only $60 — while many corporate higher-ups have gained a much more substantial amount from the GOP tax bill.  The Wisconsin Republican was then pressured to delete the tweet.

Specifically, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed Ryan for the tweet. “Paul Ryan deleted his embarrassing tweet of a blatant admission because he and Republicans don’t want you to know the truth: the #GOPTaxScam is a gift to corporate America and the top 1% at your expense.

He also doesn’t want you to know he got $500.000.00 from the Koch family,” tweeted Pelosi.

 

There was a horrible racist attack in Italy: At least 6 people injured by far-right shooter in Italy – Axios

It comes as more ultra-right only white political parties become more popular in Europe.

Can Europe’s new xenophobes reshape the continent? | World news | The Guardian

Tensions high in Athens ahead of nationalist rally | Greece News | Al Jazeera

And for the last of today’s post, updates on the latest train wreck:

CBS News is reporting that the Amtrak train was on the wrong tracks….

Amtrak train crash today in South Carolina leaves 2 dead, 116 injured – live updates – CBS News

At least two people were killed and 116 others injured when a train traveling from New York to Miami struck a freight train Sunday morning, authorities said. The crash left thousands of gallons of oil spilled at the scene near Columbia, South Carolina.

The collision occurred in Cayce around 2:45 a.m. Sunday, Lexington County spokesperson Harrison Cahill said. He said the injuries ranged from scratches to broken bones.

The two people killed were later identified as Amtrak personnel, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said in a news conference Sunday. McMaster said the CSX freight train was on the right loading side track “where it was supposed to be” before the collision and the Amtrak train was “on the wrong side.” He did not elaborate.

There were approximately 148 people aboard the train, including 139 passengers and 8 personnel.

Amtrak Train Collision in South Carolina Kills at Least 2 and Injures 116 – The New York Times

The CSX train was stationary, Mr. McMaster said, and appeared to be on the correct track. “It appears that Amtrak was on the wrong track,” he said.

The first engine of the freight train was torn up, he said, and the engine of the Amtrak train, Train 91, was “barely recognizable.”

“It’s a horrible thing to see — to understand the force that this involved,” Mr. McMaster said.

In a statement earlier Sunday morning, Amtrak said the lead engine and some of the passenger cars had derailed.

It was the second major crash involving an Amtrak train in less than a week. On Wednesday, a train carrying Republican members of Congress to a retreat in West Virginia hit a garbage truck in rural Virginia, killing a passenger in the truck.

 

 

More updates on the train crash in the comments below…this is an open thread.


Wednesday Reads: Splat!

Demasiado miedo a la vida o Plaf (1988) Film poster by Eduardo Muñoz Bachs (Cuba)

The quick storyline of the film which this poster above is portraying is spectacular:

A superstitious middle-aged woman falls in love with a taxi driver, while trying to learn the identity of the unseen person tossing eggs at her.

Honestly the plot to, Too Afraid of Life or Splat, seems to make more sense than the reality we are experiencing now…

Tabio’s screwball soap opera takes us into the lives and loves of a family in the middle-class suburbs of Havana. It’s tacky, it’s wacky, it’s, well, serious too. Widowed Concha (Granados) distrusts the alliance of brawn and brain when her beloved baseball-player son marries a girl engineer with her own ideas (about bureaucratic impedimenta, the role of women, and Concha). Concha has problems enough: made wary of men by the philandering of her dear departed, she distrusts the charms of taxi-driver Tomas, so is forced to take comfort in the spells of a Santeria-cult priestess. When the young marrieds move in, splat! – eggs start to fly. Tabio leaves no doubt that this is farce, not so much admitting the presence of the camera as flaunting it. Every mirror reveals the camera crew, props are thrown onto the set, the film cranks to a halt for apologies about missing scenes. The sight gags, absurd histrionics and hyperbolic use of sound communicate an infectious sense of fun, but the film can’t quite hide a deathly conventional morality which, sadly, hauls it back into sanity and nauseating good faith.

If only there was a mirror to reveal the true farce behind the facade…meaning that this past year is all just some crazy ass twisted fraud of a disaster film that has been in production…simply to run out of money.

Now we are at an end, with the reality finally at hand; that it is over…sorry about the missing scenes, especially the last act that included the impeachment.

(Honestly, I still thing the asshole will get away with it.)

But, on with the cartoons:

Oh, and please…why hasn’t it happened yet!

Again, many of these cartoons above are foreign press.

CHIP RESTORED: 01/23/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - CHIP RESTORED

DEAL MAKER: 01/22/2018 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - DEAL MAKER

The following is exactly what the GOP wants you to believe:

Untitled: 01/23/2018 Cartoon by Bob Gorrell

Cartoon by Bob Gorrell - Untitled

01/23/2018 Cartoon by David Horsey

Cartoon by David Horsey -

01/18/2018 Cartoon by David Horsey

Cartoon by David Horsey -

01/23/2018 Cartoon by Lisa Benson

Cartoon by Lisa Benson -

Nick Anderson cartoon: 01/23/2018 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson - Nick Anderson cartoon

Empowered Women: 01/23/2018 Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - Empowered Women

Monster Larry Nassar: 01/19/2018 Cartoon by J.D. Crowe

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - Monster Larry Nassar

Cartoonist Gary Varvel: Congress’ continuing resolutions: 01/23/2018 Cartoon by Gary Varvel

Cartoon by Gary Varvel - Cartoonist Gary Varvel: Congress' continuing resolutions

01/23/2018 Cartoon by MStreeter

Cartoon by MStreeter -

01/21/2018 Cartoon by MStreeter

Cartoon by MStreeter -

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 01/23/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 01/21/2018 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

Hannibal Trump: 01/23/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Hannibal Trump

Great Power: 01/21/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Great Power

GOP Health: 01/19/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - GOP Health

Wretched Refuse: 01/18/2018 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Wretched Refuse

01/23/2018 Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies

Cartoon by Jimmy Margulies -

Applause: 01/23/2018 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - Applause

01/23/2018 Cartoon by Joe Heller

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

01/23/2018 Cartoon by Joel Pett

Cartoon by Joel Pett -

01/24 Mike Luckovich: Travel ban! | Mike Luckovich

01/23 Mike Luckovich: Miller time. | Mike Luckovich

01/21 Mike Luckovich: Tummy ache. | Mike Luckovich

01/19 Mike Luckovich: Dealmaker. | Mike Luckovich

01/18 Mike Luckovich. full disclosure form. | Mike Luckovich

01/18 Mike Luckovich. Weight of the Presidency. | Mike Luckovich

I had to end it with Luckovich…fucking awesome.

This is an open thread!


Sunday Reads: Human Chains Bring Awareness to #EndChildMarriage

 

 

 

 

 

 

An estimated 5 million people (5 crore) came together to create a #BiharHumanChain2018 in the Indian State of Bihar to bring awareness against child marriage and dowry.

Bihar joins hands against dowry, child marriage; Dy CM thanks people

 

Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi, on Sunday thanked the people of Bihar for participating and forming the largest human chain against child marriage and dowry practices.

Earlier in the day, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar shared a message on Twitter, saying that collective effort is required to eliminate practices of dowry and child marriage in the country and a human chain event will be organised to to show our commitment towards the cause.

Bihar forms world’s longest human chain against dowry | GulfNews.com

Millions of people from all walks of life, age groups and professions joined hands on the streets across Bihar on Sunday to form what officials claimed was the world’s longest human chain against dowry and child marriages — the twin social evils gripping Indian society.

Authorities said more than 40 million people came out on the streets in the bone-chilling cold and stood in queues for about 30 minutes Sunday to demonstrate their resolve against the two social evils. The participants included schoolchildren, college students, teachers, officials, social activists, common men and politicians.

 As with most things…this important issue is being overshadowed by politics.

However, two main opposition parties in the state, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress, boycotted the initiative, claiming the programme was simply a ploy to help chief minister Nitish Kumar boost his image. They said they could not show solidarity with a man who had brutally “misused the people’s mandate” by going back to partner the BJP and form a new government with its support, while the mandate was given to the erstwhile ruling Grand Alliance comprising the RJD, Congress and the Janata Dal United (JD-U) headed by Nitish Kumar.

Kumar who was the man behind the idea refused to comment on the boycott by the main opposition parties, but said the programme was against social evils in which participation of everyone was solicited. “There are already laws in place yet the twin evils continue and our purpose is to make the people aware about them,” the chief minister told the media on Sunday.

Just a few more links on this human chain…

 

Bihar sets record through human chain

Bihar set a record of sorts when around five crore people joined hands to form a 13,668-km long human chain in here on Sunday.

The human chain, in which Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi also participated, was formed to spread awareness about two social evils – child marriage and dowry.

Apart from ruling party legislators and bureaucrats, lakhs of school and college students, teachers, lawyers and academicians took to the streets, where they lined up forming a human chain from 12 noon to 12.30 pm.

The entire event was captured by 40 drone cameras. A documentary film about the human chain will be shown in 127 cinema halls across Bihar.

This human chain has broken the record set in January 2017, when a human chain of 12,417 km was formed by around four crore people in support of the prohibition implemented by the Nitish regime.

RJD, Cong absent

The only stark difference this year was the absence of RJD and Congress leaders from the event. Only one leader from the parties – Congress MLC Ram Chandra Bharti – attended the event, making Nitish’s former partners in the Grand Alliance conspicuous by their absence.

“Nitish is one chief minister who spends crores in image-branding,” said RJD vice president Shivanand Tiwary.

Congress spokesperson Prem Chandra Mishra demanded a white paper on the exorbitant expenses incurred in organising such an event.

This year, the main function was organised at Gandhi Maidan in Patna, where Nitish flagged off the event.

Similar human chains were formed in the 38 districts of the state.

Bihar government’s human chain against dowry system and child marriage a ‘super flop’: Opposition | Patna News – Times of India

Bihar’s two main opposition parties -RJD and Congress – on Sunday said that the state government’s much-trumpeted human chainagainst dowry system and child marriage turned out to be “super flop” as participation of common people could not be seen anywhere across the state.
“Only school children who were called by opening their institutions despite being Sunday, their teachers and a section of state government employees were seen standing in the human chain that remained broken here and there. Common people didn’t turn up anywhere to participate in the chain. Participation of common villagers could not be seen anywhere,” RJD’s state president Ram Chandra Purbey said, adding, “The non-participation of common people shows that CM Nitish Kumar has lost peoples’ faith.”

Last year, the same chain was formed in awareness of the campaign to ban alcohol. Only there was cooperation from among all sides of government. I have not followed the situation enough to fully grasp the entire nuance of the political climate…but I wonder just how much the actual subject of this year’s campaign…being tied to an issue like child marriage and dowry, could be a reason for the lack of full support.

Bihar has it’s problems with child marriage. Human Chain 2.0: After Battling Liquor, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar Sets His Sights on Dowry – The Wire

A look at the statistics from Bihar prove just how serious and deep-rooted these issues are. According to the 2011 Census, around 3% of girls get married before the age of 14. Figures for under-age marriages from the National Family Health Survey 4 say that 39% of girls become child brides. When it comes to atrocities against women, the state ranks 26th in India, but is no. 2 in dowry-related crimes.

Between 2000 and 2015, out of total 1,15,374 dowry death cases registered in India, 17,257 cases were registered in Bihar. Beyond just cases that pertained to deaths, 18,462 cases were registered under the Dowry Prohibition Act during the same period.

The root of the problem

A complex relationship between child marriage and dowry exists in the state. Among well-to-do families, there is a growing emphasis on educating girls and letting them work. As awareness of social ills continues to grow in these circles, cases of child marriage have dropped drastically, but dowry continues to be a problem. In fact, not only is it still followed, the sums exchanging hands are astronomical at times.

Among financially weaker sections, instead of investing to educate girls, families save to pay dowry. Then, in order to not pay a heavy dowry, they opt to marry off their girls early. There is an added problem that arises from this practice: if underage brides become pregnant, there’s a heavy risk of death during the delivery of both mother and child.

More than that, there is also a market opportunity here. Every year, when the wedding season swings around, advertisements spring up everywhere indirectly indicating what would make for a good dowry present. In fact, as Geetanjali Mukherjee wrote in her book Dowry Death in India, published in 1999, advertisements even advise families on how to save on dowry. The book noted that “until recently, billboard advertisements in Bombay, for instance, made an unabashed appeal to pregnant women to take the expensive and somewhat risky amniocentesis test. It importuned them to spend 500 rupees now on the test in order to save 50,000 rupees in future on a daughter’s dowry”.

In contrast to Nitish’s earlier campaign against liquor where the administrative and legal measures worked quite well, in the case of dowry, there is not much space for the police to act proactively. Data from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) tells us that approximately 60% of the dowry-related cases which reach the police are those where there has been a death. This means that most victims avoid going to the authorities, which is why despite strict laws against this practice, dowry-related crimes continue unabated, be it in Bihar or India. The number of cases of dowry deaths in India stood at 6,851 in 2001. That figure jumped to 7,634 in 2015. The same trend was observed in Bihar. During the same period, cases in Bihar increased from 859 in 2001 to 1,154 in 2015.

According to the article in The Wire, unlike the banning of alcohol…the issue of ending child marriage must deal with changing the mindset of people…

More than a law, what is required is changing personal opinions.

Nitish appears to have understood that this is the battle that matters. His campaign against dowry and child marriage will see him act more like a reformer working to swing a big changes in the opinion of the masses more than a chief minister taking the administrative route to fix the state of affairs. This is why he is personally visiting the homes of those who are getting married without the dowry angle. Along with Nitish Kumar, Sushil Kumar Modi, the deputy chief minister, used the marriage of his eldest son to set an example of a dowry-free marriage.

Nitish has undoubtedly taken on a herculean task, but there are certain doubts in the minds of the public. Is this another tactic to keep cadres busy, much like the plantation drive?

With assembly elections just a year away, there is little scope that the anti-dowry campaign will bear any electoral fruits. But if Nitish’s latest battle bears even some fruit, it’s still a step ahead in the fight for gender justice.

 

All the same, I feel that bringing awareness to the crisis of child marriage goes far in helping create a dialogue about an issue that will not go away any time soon.

Here are some tweets with images of the day, #BiharHumanChain2018 :

 

 

 

Last week Human Rights Watch came out with their  World Report 2018: Fighting for Rights Succeeds | Human Rights Watch

Abdul Kareem, a Rohingya Muslim, carries his mother, Alima Khatoon, to a refugee camp after crossing from Burma into Bangladesh on Sept. 16, 2017.

Abdul Kareem, a Rohingya Muslim, carries his mother, Alima Khatoon, to a refugee camp after crossing from Burma into Bangladesh on Sept. 16, 2017.

 © 2017 Dar Yasin/AP

 

In the 643-page World Report, its 28th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in more than 90 countries. In his introductory essay, Executive Director Kenneth Roth writes that when leaders push back strongly against politicians who demonize minorities, attack human rights, and undermine democratic institutions, they can limit the advance of populists. But where mainstream politicians capitulate to a message of hate and exclusion, the authoritarian populists flourish.

“The past year showed the importance of pushing back against the threat posed by demagogues and their abusive policies,” Roth said. “As we mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 2018, the best way to honor its principles is to vigorously defend them against those leaders who seek political advantage by depriving marginalized groups of the rights guaranteed for all.”

Please go to this link World Report 2018 | Status of Human Rights Around the World to read more and to look up how each of the 90 countries square up…

You may find the United States quite interesting:

World Report 2018: United States | Human Rights Watch

The strong civil society and democratic institutions of the United States were tested in the first year of the administration of President Donald Trump. Across a range of issues in 2017, the US moved backward on human rights at home and abroad.

Trump has targeted refugees and immigrants, calling them criminals and security threats; emboldened racist politics by equivocating on white nationalism; and consistently championed anti-Muslim ideas and policies. His administration has embraced policies that will roll back access to reproductive health care for women; championed health insurance changes that would leave many more Americans without access to affordable health care; and undermined police accountability for abuse. Trump has also expressed disdain for independent media and for federal courts that have blocked some of his actions. And he has repeatedly coddled autocratic leaders and showed little interest or leadership in pressing for the respect of human rights abroad.

The individuals most likely to suffer abuse in the United States—including members of racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, children, the poor, and prisoners—are often least able to defend their rights in court or via the political process. Many vulnerable groups endured renewed attacks on their rights during the year. Other longstanding US laws and practices—particularly related to criminal and juvenile justice, immigration, and national security—continued to violate internationally recognized human rights.

Lots and lots more at the link…reading it is like going through an abbreviated list of shithole actions taken by a shithole president.

Before I end with pictures and tweets from yesterday’s marches…

After a year of Trump, women expect less from men – but demand more – The Globe and Mail

One year ago Sunday, the largest single-day protest in U.S. history took place. The Women’s March, which followed the inauguration of Donald Trump, consisted of over 650 marches of roughly five million participants. The organizers were women, most protesters were women, and the targets were the misogynists of the Trump administration and their repressive policies. Protesters warned of the new government’s autocratic tendencies and planned persecution of the marginalized. Their warnings were not heeded by pundits clinging to the illusion of “checks and balances” or the “presidential pivot,” but they were right.

One year later, women remain the backbone of the opposition to President Trump, and those opposing him comprise the majority of the electorate. You would not know this from reading many U.S. media outlets, which focus disproportionately on Trump voters, with papers like the New York Times even surrendering an op-ed page to them. On Saturday, an enormously popular second women’s march caught the country by surprise, as there was little media attention to it paid beforehand despite the massive amount of preparation and participants involved.

I wanted to show you this little bit of the anti-women’s march protest going around today:

Nazis March In Tennessee Today. Last Time That Happened, I Ended Up With Antifa In A High-Speed Car Chase | HuffPost

Heimbach’s Nazis are returning to Tennessee to protest the Women’s March taking place in Knoxville on Sunday. The Nazis plan to attach themselves to a competing anti-abortion “March for Life” rally. How this will pan out for the fascists is anyone’s guess, but back in October, things didn’t go well for them in the Volunteer State. Heimbach’s crew started a fight with a biracial couple in a Brentwood pub. And their two rallies only put a spotlight on the weakness of their movement and the strength of their opposition. The second event, in Murfreesboro, was a total flop. Heimbach’s Nazis bailed, scared off by hundreds of counter-demonstrators who descended on Murfreesboro’s main square.

It makes me sick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is an open thread…what are you reading about today?

 

 

 

 

Cross-posted / Human Chains Bring Awareness to #EndChildMarriage – Empower Dialogue


Friday Reads: My Country has Dysfunctional Family Dynamics and one mean drunk Father in Charge

Just when you think it’s safe to turn the TV on …

Thursday night went out with another Dumpfster Fire Interview that is sure to cause us all to crawl back into our safe space.  Kremlin Caligula gave an unsupervised interview to the NYT  and it’s a doozy.  I don’t know if any of you ever grew up in a family with one parent who was almost always angry, given to spontaneous fits of temper, and generally could say something to make you feel smaller than a grain of salt but this is the only way I can describe our country’s relationship with its current placeholder in the White House.  He’s the mean drunk, angry father. We’re the family that knows the outbursts are at least daily events and they get worse. We have no idea how to make it go away we just hope some nice law enforcement official puts him away eventually before he kills some one.

Of course, the interview contained lie upon lie upon lie.  The Toronto Star counted 25 of them. That’s 1 false claim per half hour.  He’s still obsessed with the election and he is scared as shit about the Mueller investigation.

The Star is keeping track of every false claim Trump makes as president. As of Dec. 22, Trump had already made 978 false claims; adding the Times interview, the tally will pass the 1,000 mark in the next update.

Here’s every false claim Trump made in the interview:

1) “But I think it’s all worked out because frankly there is absolutely no collusion, that’s been proven by every Democrat is saying it … Virtually every Democrat has said there is no collusion. There is no collusion.”

Democratic members of Congress have not said en masse that they are convinced that there was no collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Some have acknowledged that they have not seen evidence of collusion, but they have pointed out that the investigation is ongoing.

2) “And you’re talking about what Paul (Manafort) was many years ago before I ever heard of him. He worked for me for — what was it, three and a half months? … Three and a half months.” 

Manafort worked for the Trump campaign for just under five months, from March 28, 2016 to his resignation on August 19, 2016.

3) “I saw (Democratic Sen.) Dianne Feinstein the other day on television saying there is no collusion.” 

Trump appeared to be referring, as he has in the past, to a November CNN interview with Feinstein — in which she did not declare that there is no collusion. Feinstein was specifically asked if she had seen evidence that the Trump campaign was given Democratic emails hacked by Russia. “Not so far,” she responded. She was not asked about collusion more broadly, and her specific answer made clear that she was referring only to evidence she has personally seen to date, not issuing a sweeping final judgment.

4) “She’s (Feinstein) the head of the committee.” 

Feinstein, a Democrat, is not the head of any committee: Republicans control Congress and thus lead the committees. She is the ranking member — the top Democrat — on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

5) “So, I actually think that it’s turning out — I actually think it’s turning to the Democrats because there was collusion on behalf of the Democrats. There was collusion with the Russians and the Democrats. A lot of collusion … starting with the dossier.” 

The word “collusion” — in common language, a “secret agreement or co-operation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose” — simply does not apply to the dossier produced by a former British spy about alleged ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia. Trump’s administration, seeking to turn the “collusion” allegation around on its opponents, has argued that the dossier, which was funded in part by the Clinton campaign, amounts to the “Clinton campaign colluding with Russian intelligence.” This is absurd on its face. Russian intelligence favoured Trump and tried to damage Clinton, U.S. intelligence agencies say; the British ex-spy was simply using Russian sources — who have not been identified — to attempt to figure out how Trump’s campaign was linked to the Russian government. Such research is not illegal or deceitful, and it does not come close to qualifying as the type of possible “collusion” investigators are probing with regard to the Trump campaign: coordination with the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the election.

6) “ … it’s very hard for a Republican to win the Electoral College. O.K.? You start off with New York, California and Illinois against you. That means you have to run the East Coast, which I did, and everything else. Which I did and then won Wisconsin and Michigan. (Inaudible.) So the Democrats. … (Inaudible.) … They thought there was no way for a Republican, not me, a Republican, to win the Electoral College … The Electoral College is so much better suited to the Democrats (inaudible).” 

This claim that the Electoral College is tilted in favour of Democrats — and that “they” think it is impossible for a Republican to win the election in 2016 —- is obvious nonsense. Six of the last nine presidents, all of whom except for Gerald Ford had to win an Electoral College election, have been Republicans.

7) “They made the Russian story up as a hoax, as a ruse, as an excuse for losing an election that in theory Democrats should always win with the Electoral College.” 

Democrats, of course, did not invent the “Russian story” for electoral purposes, nor is it a “hoax.” U.S. intelligence agencies say that the Russian government interfered in the election for the purpose of helping Trump win; that Russian interference was the original story, and Democrats were talking about it well before Election Day. Perhaps Trump is correct that there was no illegal collusion between his campaign and the Russians, but this matter is being investigated by a special prosecutor appointed by his own deputy attorney general, not “Democrats,” and many senior Republicans believe the investigation has merit.

8) “They (Democrats) thought it would be a one-day story, an excuse, and it just kept going and going and going.” 

This is simple nonsense. Democrats did not think that the question of Russian interference in the election on behalf of Trump, or the question of the Trump campaign’s relationship with those efforts, would be a “one-day story.”

Of course, that list goes on so go read it!

Axios presents evidence that Trump will be unchained in 2018. Heaven help all of us with PSTD!

If you ask some close to President Trump what worries them most about 2018, it’s not Robert Mueller’s probe. It’s that establishment guardrails of 2017 come down — and Trump’s actual instincts take over.

Next year will bring “full Trump,” said one person who recently talked to the president.
Trump has governed mostly as a conventional conservative — on tax cuts, his Supreme Court pick, and rolling back regulations. Most of his top advisers are fairly conventional conservatives, so that makes sense.

  • Most of those in his current decision-making circle — even if they’re not mainstream Republicans — are defending mainstream Republican principles like free trade and an internationalist view of foreign policy.
  • But top officials paint a different portrait of Trump when it comes to what he really wants on trade, immigration and North Korea — but has been tamped down by skeptical staff and Cabinet officials.

In private meetings:

  • Trump keeps asking for tariffs — on steel and aluminum, in particular. He wants a trade war, and has for many years. His economic and diplomatic advisers persuaded him to delay trade actions in 2017.
  • Those advisers recognize that the day of reckoning will come in 2018, regardless of whether economic adviser Gary Cohn and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — who advocated restraint — stay or go.
  • Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin successfully persuaded Trump not to do anything rash while tax reform was being negotiated.
  • Trump also saw the advantage of trying to use that as leverage with China to get help on North Korea. He said yesterday in an interview with the N.Y Times: “China’s hurting us very badly on trade, but I have been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war. O.K.?”
  • And he tweeted yesterday, in response to Chinese ships secretly delivering oil to North Korea: “Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!”
  • NEW: Look for Trump to take action on trade in the next month. It probably won’t be next week, so as not to disrupt the afterglow of the tax cut. But nothing is final.
  • Trump still wants his wall, and tighter restrictions on legal immigration. He’s a true believer on this stuff, and knows intuitively that it keeps his base stoked.
  • Trump seems most interested in discussing military options on North Korea in these meetings. He is surrounded by advisers who share his concern about the rogue state, but not his fixation on a military strike.
    • And some top officials have told us Trump’s belligerent rhetoric on the subject makes them nervous.
    • There is a reason the harshest assessments of Trump usually leak after North Korea meetings.

This interview basically let Trump be Trump.  He just wandered all over the place but always returned to the idea that Russia is a Democratic plot against his win but even if it did exist it’s no big deal and definitely not a crime.  I’ve seen toddlers with a better grasp of a logical argument.

President Trump in a new interview denied any collusion between his 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, adding “even if there was, it’s not a crime.”

Speaking to The New York Times Thursday, Trump praised lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who has argued that Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey was not obstruction of justice because Trump has the right to fire the head of the bureau.

“I watched Alan Dershowitz the other day, he said, No. 1, there is no collusion, No. 2, collusion is not a crime, but even if it was a crime, there was no collusion,” Trump told the newspaper. “And he said that very strongly. He said there was no collusion. And he has studied this thing very closely. I’ve seen him a number of times.”

“There is no collusion, and even if there was, it’s not a crime,” he continued. “But there’s no collusion.”

Trump also blasted special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, saying it “makes the country look very bad.”

“It puts the country in a very bad position,” Trump said. “So the sooner it’s worked out, the better it is for the country.”

More like the sooner he’s out of office, the better it is for the country.  Charles Pierce says it all “Trump’s New York Times Interview Is a Portrait of a Man in Cognitive Decline.”

On Thursday, El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago sat down with Michael Schmidt of The New York Times for what apparently was an open-ended, one-on-one interview. Since then, the electric Twitter machine–and most of the rest of the Intertoobz–has been alive with criticism of Schmidt for having not pushed back sufficiently against some of the more obvious barefaced non-facts presented by the president* in their chat. Some critics have been unkind enough to point out that Schmidt was the conveyor belt for some of the worst attacks on Hillary Rodham Clinton emanating from both the New York FBI office and the various congressional committees staffed by people in kangaroo suits. For example, Schmidt’s name was on a shabby story the Times ran on July 23, 2015 in which it was alleged that a criminal investigation into HRC’s famous use of a private email server was being discussed within the Department of Justice. It wasn’t, and the Times’ public editor at the time, the great Margaret Sullivan, later torched the story in a brutal column.

Other people were unkind enough to point out that the interview was brokered by one Christopher Ruddy, a Trump intimate and the CEO of NewsMax, and that Ruddy made his bones as a political “journalist” by peddling the fiction that Clinton White House counsel Vince Foster had been murdered, one of the more distasteful slanders that got a shameful public airing during the Clinton frenzy of the 1990’s. Neither of those will concern us here. What Schmidt actually got out of this interview is a far more serious problem for the country. In my view, the interview is a clinical study of a man in severe cognitive decline, if not the early stages of outright dementia.

Over the past 30 years, I’ve seen my father and all of his siblings slide into the shadows and fog of Alzheimer’s Disease. (the president’s father developed Alzheimer’s in his 80s.) In 1984, Ronald Reagan debated Walter Mondale in Louisville and plainly had no idea where he was. (Would that someone on the panel had asked him. He’d have been stumped.) Not long afterwards, I was interviewing a prominent Alzheimer’s researcher for a book I was doing, and he said, “I saw the look on his face that I see every day in my clinic.” In the transcript of this interview, I hear in the president*’s words my late aunt’s story about how we all walked home from church in the snow one Christmas morning, an event I don’t recall, but that she remembered so vividly that she told the story every time I saw her for the last three years of her life.

In this interview, the president* is only intermittently coherent. He talks in semi-sentences and is always groping for something that sounds familiar, even if it makes no sense whatsoever and even if it blatantly contradicts something he said two minutes earlier. To my ears, anyway, this is more than the president*’s well-known allergy to the truth. This is a classic coping mechanism employed when language skills are coming apart. (My father used to give a thumbs up when someone asked him a question. That was one of the strategies he used to make sense of a world that was becoming quite foreign to him.) My guess? That’s part of the reason why it’s always “the failing New York Times,” and his 2016 opponent is “Crooked Hillary.”

In addition, the president* exhibits the kind of stubbornness you see in patients when you try to relieve them of their car keys–or, as one social worker in rural North Carolina told me, their shotguns. For example, a discussion on health-care goes completely off the rails when the president* suddenly recalls that there is a widely held opinion that he knows very little about the issues confronting the nation. So we get this.

He’s obviously obsessed with Mueller too  and of course, with Hillary, always with Hillary. Aaron Blake of WAPO focuses on some of his more bizarre thoughts on the Justice Department and the Mueller Investigation.

 

1. On special counsel Robert S. Mueller III: “It doesn’t bother me, because I hope that he’s going to be fair. I think that he’s going to be fair. … There’s been no collusion. But I think he’s going to be fair.”

This might have been the newsiest bit from the interview. Trump seemingly contradicts many of his supporters by saying he thinks Mueller will be fair. Conservative media and Republicans in Congress have spent much of the past few weeks attacking the credibility of the Mueller investigation. Trump hasn’t really joined in that effort publicly, but he has attacked the FBI and the Justice Department.

2. “I have absolute right to do what I want to do with the Justice Department. But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.”

And here’s the other side of the coin. In this quote, Trump seems to buy into what those same supporters have been arguing about his authority to control the Justice Department. This is a rather remarkable assertion of power, even as it’s not terribly surprising from a president who clearly has some authoritarian tendencies. It seems Trump is suggesting he can do things like fire Mueller if he wants to, even as he says he thinks Mueller is being fair and as the White House denies that is even being considered.

3. “I don’t want to get into loyalty, but I will tell you that — I will say this: [Eric] Holder protected President Obama. Totally protected him. When you look at the IRS scandal, when you look at the guns for whatever, when you look at all of the tremendous, ah, real problems they had — not made-up problems like Russian collusion, these were real problems — when you look at the things that they did, and Holder protected the president. And I have great respect for that, I’ll be honest, I have great respect for that.”

Trump begins this quote by saying, “I don’t want to get into loyalty,” but then he goes on to unmistakably suggest that Attorney General Jeff Sessions hasn’t been loyal enough to him — or at least that he hasn’t been as loyal as then-Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was to President Barack Obama. Add this to the list of quotes showing just how upset Trump remains with Sessions.

Kremlin Caligula has a most unAmerican viewpoint of these things that it’s almost difficult to believe he was ever schooled on American soil. Where does one get such blatantly unConstitutional notions? Oh, and that’s 3 of 11.

I have to agree though, the idea that he still thinks he’s running a nationally syndicated TV show in lieu of a nation is the most curious of all the quotes.  This is a man that simply is delusional and dangerous.  This is number 4.

4. On 2020: “Another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there. Because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes. Without me, the New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, ‘Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.’”

I’ve long thought Trump believed this, but it’s remarkable to hear him say it out loud. It’s almost like he’s making a case to the media for why it should help him win reelection in 2020 and/or not be too tough on him. And it’s not the first time that he’s said something that seems to misunderstand the media’s role in American governance. Reports have long suggested Trump thought his media coverage would improve once he was elected president.

There’s seven more of these too go so check them out.  It’s just really a fall down a rabbit hole.  Is he the Mad Hatter or the March Hare? As always, Twitter rules the response to the Demon God of Twitter.

Thursday evening brought a surprise New York Times interview with President Donald TrumpTimes reporter Michael Schmidt was able to speak to the president at Trump’s golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida. In an impromptu, free-wheeling, 30-minute conversation following Trump’s latest round of golf, the president insisted numerous times that there was no collusion with Russia while also maintaining that he feels Special Counsel Robert Mueller can be fair to him.

With the Timesposting excerpts from the transcript of the interview, Media Twitter had a field day posting their favorite bits from the president rambling off-the-cuff. Let’s face it — there are fewer things reporters and journalists love more than unchained Trump.

 

 

So, I really don’t want any one to lose their lunch and appetite for life because we obviously have a severely disturbed president in charge of our nuclear arsenal. But it is what it is, and he is what he is, and this is a blog that’s always been focused on policy and politics.

We are indeed a family that needs to uplift each other before this man destroys the lot of us and drives away all of our friends.  I suppose it has to be reiterated that Republicans are enabling all of this to oversee the looting of the USA by the donors. I also wonder what kind of kompromat that the Russians have on them through their hacking of the RNC and likely, other places.  I certainly think that the RNC must be worried.  I definitely think both Sessions and Graham must have dossiers filled with stuff and now I’m thinking Orin Hatch must be more of a wascally wabbit than any of us every supposed.

Try to stick to local happiness while we can.  I’m even finding that to be difficult given that the same enterprising rapers after our National Parks and Treasury have been at it with my neighborhood.  My property takes just went from an annual bill of about $750 to over $2000. I have no doubt that I have Air BnB to thank for that.  Pretty sure those idiots that still live here and are now renting rooms have had a similar experience.  There’s just something about the sound of stupid ass white people slitting their own throats that just endlessly appalls.

So, I’ll see you on New Year’s Day.  Let’s lift our prayers to all the Wisdom Energy in the Multiverse so that it sweeps over this nation like a Renaissance of Rational Thought. Resist!

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Monday Reads: I’m Tired! So Tired!

Good Afternoon Sky Dancers!

This is later than usual and I’m sorry. This is the third time to the Vet these last few days with Miles this morning and I seriously had to take nap.  My hope is that he’s stabilized and will continue to mend some so we can figure out if he has any underlying problems other than his diabetes.  He’s been keeping me up at nights with a routine like a newborn so I feel like I’ve been through the ringer.

BB has helped me out this morning with some enlightening and freaky things going on with the Russian Collaboration investigation.  Foreign Policy reports on “How Jared Kushner’s Newspaper Became a Favorite Outlet for WikiLeaks Election Hacks.”  It appears that his paper, “The New York Observer, owned by Trump’s son-in-law, was a friendly outlet for the 2016 Russian hackers.”

In the fall of 2014, Julian Assange, the embattled head of WikiLeaks, was meeting with a steady stream of supportive journalists in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had taken refuge to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges. Among those seeking an audience with Assange was a freelancer working for the New York Observer, the newspaper owned and published by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and key advisor, Jared Kushner.

Ken Kurson, the newspaper’s editor in chief — along with a freelance writer he’d hired — helped arrange a “no-holds-barred” interview with Assange that October.

I can’t see how there isn’t a building amount of evidence that Kushner and Trump, Jr. didn’t actively coordinate with Russian Assets. It’s also evident that the Justice Department is now providing any evidence of Trump’s motivations in the Comey Firing.

Special counselRobert Mueller‘s team investigating whether President Donald Trump sought to obstruct a federal inquiry into connections between his presidential campaign and Russian operatives has now directed the Justice Department to turn over a broad array of documents, ABC News has learned.

In particular, Mueller’s investigators are keen to obtain emails related to the firing of FBIDirector James Comey and the earlier decision of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the entire matter, according to a source who has not seen the request but was told about it.

Issued within the past month, the directive marks the special counsel’s first records request to the Justice Department, and it means Mueller is now demanding documents from the department overseeing his investigation.

Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein played key roles in Comey’s removal. And Sessions has since faced withering criticism from Trump over his recusal and Rosenstein’s subsequent appointment of Mueller.

Mueller’s investigators now seek not only communications among Justice Department staffers but also any of their communications with White House officials, the source said. Before this request, investigators asked former senior Justice Department officials for information from their time at the department, ABC News was told.

The latest move suggests the special counsel is still digging into, among other matters, whether Trump or any other administration official improperly tried to influence an ongoing investigation.

I love this OP ED in the NYT entitled: “We’re With Stupid”.  Maybe love isn’t  quite the right word here.  I continually wonder what on earth brings a group of supposed Christians into the fold of such a lying huckster.

The Russians also uploaded a thousand videos to YouTube and published more than 130,000 messages on Twitter about last year’s election. As recent congressional hearings showed, the arteries of our democracy were clogged with toxins from a hostile foreign power.

But the problem is not the Russians — it’s us. We’re getting played because too many Americans are ill equipped to perform the basic functions of citizenship. If the point of the Russian campaign, aided domestically by right-wing media, was to get people to think there is no such thing as knowable truth, the bad guys have won.

As we crossed the 300-day mark of Donald Trump’s presidency on Thursday, fact-checkers noted that he has made more than 1,600 false or misleading claims. Good God. At least five times a day, on average, this president says something that isn’t true.

We have a White House of lies because a huge percentage of the population can’t tell fact from fiction. But a huge percentage is also clueless about the basic laws of the land. In a democracy, we the people are supposed to understand our role in this power-sharing thing.

Nearly one in three Americans cannot name a single branch of government. When NPR tweeted out sections of the Declaration of Independence last year, many people were outraged. They mistook Thomas Jefferson’s fighting words for anti-Trump propaganda.

Fake news is a real thing produced by active disseminators of falsehoods. Trump uses the term to describe anything he doesn’t like, a habit now picked up by political liars everywhere.

But Trump is a symptom; the breakdown in this democracy goes beyond the liar in chief. For that you have to blame all of us: we have allowed the educational system to become negligent in teaching the owner’s manual of citizenship.

It seems illiteracy in all things democratic and Constitutional has broken our Republic and led to Trumpism.  We’re six months into the Mueller investigation and a little over ten months into Kremlin Caligula’s rule of kleptocracy.  How are those within the White House dealing with the pressure.  WAPO has an interesting read on this in a piece titled ” ‘A long winter’: White House aides divided over scope, risks of Russia probe.”

Some in the West Wing avoid the mere mention of Russia or the investigation whenever possible. Others take solace in the reassurances of White House lawyer Ty Cobb that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III will be wrapping up the probe soon and the president and those close to him will be exonerated. And a few engage in grim gallows humor, privately joking about wiretaps.

The investigation reached a critical turning point in recent weeks, with a formal subpoena to the campaign, an expanding list of potential witnesses and the indictments of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates. Some within Trump’s circle, including former chief of staff Reince Priebus, have already been interviewed by Mueller’s investigators, while others such as Hope Hicks — the White House communications director and trusted confidant of the president — and White House counsel Donald McGahn are expected in coming weeks.

One Republican operative in frequent contact with the White House described Mueller’s team “working through the staff like Pac-Man.”

“Of course they are worried,” said the Republican, who insisted on anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “Anybody that ever had the words ‘Russia’ come out of their lips or in an email, they’re going to get talked to. These things are thorough and deep. It’s going to be a long winter.”

Upcoming witness Hope Hicks may have the keys to many of the big answers. The larges of these is the obstruction charge because that would go to the heart of removing this usurper child from the Oval Office.

A report from Politico this week, which found that the special counsel Robert Mueller is gearing up to interview the White House communications director, Hope Hicks, indicates that one of the many threads of the Russia investigation is probably moving into its final stages.

Hicks has long been one of President Donald Trump’s most trusted advisers, and she was present during some events that are key to the special counsel’s investigation.

Mueller’s investigation includes multiple components. In addition to looking into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow to tilt the 2016 election in Trump’s favor, the special counsel is also investigating Trump on suspicion of obstruction of justicerelated to his decision to fire James Comey as FBI director.

As part of that investigation, ABC News reported on Sunday, Mueller has asked the Department of Justice for all emails connected to Comey’s firing.

Mueller has also requested documents related to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal from the Russia investigation. Sessions announced his recusal in March after it emerged that he had failed to disclose contacts with Sergey Kislyak, then Russia’s ambassador to the US, in his Senate confirmation hearing in January.

Despite his recusal, Sessions played a prominent role in Comey’s firing, as did Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Hicks was also a key presence during several critical moments leading up to Comey’s dismissal.

Comey was spearheading the FBI’s Russia investigation when he was terminated as FBI director in May. At first, the White House said he was fired because of his handling of the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct government business as secretary of state. But Trump later told NBC’s Lester Holt that “this Russia thing” had been a factor in his decision

The most compelling Trump Russia read of the day is this from The Daily Beast. “Roman Beniaminov, a Low-Profile Real Estate Exec Turned Pop Star Manager, Knew About Russia’s ‘Dirt’ on Hillary.”

Days before the infamous Trump Tower meeting in June 2016, a low-profile real estate figure with ties to powerful Russians alerted a meeting participant that the topic of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton could come up, The Daily Beast has learned.

That figure, Roman Beniaminov, didn’t attend the meeting himself. But he had close ties to several figures in and around it, including Emin Agalarov, the Azeri-Russian pop star who helped set up that Trump Tower confab and whose father is an ally of Vladimir Putin.

Ike Kaveladze was one of the participants in the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between Jared KushnerPaul ManafortDonald Trump Jr., and Kremlin-connected attorney Natalia Vesilnitskaya. Kaveladze told Congressional investigators that when he was first invited to participate, he was under the impression that he would just be there as a translator and that the meeting would involve discussion of Magnitsky Act sanctions.

Scott Balber, Kaveladze’s attorney, told The Daily Beast that before Kaveladze headed from Los Angeles to New York for the meeting, he saw an email noting that Kushner, Manafort, and Trump Jr. would all be involved. He thought it would be odd for them to attend the meeting, so he called Beniaminov before heading to New York. Both Beniaminov and Kaveladze have worked with the Agalarov’s real estate development company, the Crocus Group.

Balber said that Beniaminov told Kaveladze that he heard Rob Goldstone— Emin Agalarov’s music manager— discuss “dirt” on Hillary Clinton. It’s never become completely clear what kind of “dirt” the Russians were talking about.

According to Balber, Beniaminov was the only person to give Kaveladze any information about the meeting’s purpose.

“That was the only data point Ike had, which was inconsistent with everything else he had heard, which was that the meeting was about the Magnitsky Act,” Balber said.

I still take Trumpzilla’s word for it but I guess they may need more than that given his history of lying and braggadocio.  Trump still could fire Mueller but it doesn’t look imminent.  This is mostly because they all think it will be over shortly. Like, it will be done after this weekend or at least a by Christmas.

A source close to the administration tells the Post that Mueller is running “a classic Gambino-style roll-up” that “will reach everyone in this administration.” When you read histories of the more successful presidential administrations in American history, a phrase you don’t usually come across is “Gambino-style roll-up.”

However, in the face of this mounting evidence and the warnings of some allies, Trump has remained — by Trump’s standards — fairly calm. Obviously, by the standards of a normal president, he is acting like a complete lunatic. But given Trump’s patterns of spewing indiscriminate rage and abuse and lashing out at his enemies in wildly counterproductive fashion, he has conducted himself with notable restraint. Despite his barely concealed impulses, Trump has refrained from mass pardons or attempting to fire Mueller.

The apparent reason for his serenity is that his lawyer, Ty Cobb, has placated Trump with promises that Mueller’s probe would be over soon. “The president himself, however, has warmed to Cobb’s optimistic message on Mueller’s probe. Cobb had initially said he hoped the focus on the White House would conclude by Thanksgiving,” the Post reports.

Thanksgiving. It will all be over by Thanksgiving.

By this point, three days before Thanksgiving, it should be relatively clear Mueller’s work is not going to be completed before the turkey is served. The Post notes that Cobb “adjusted the timeline slightly in an interview last week, saying he remains optimistic that it will wrap up by the end of the year, if not shortly thereafter.”

If you want an excellent read letting you know just how low Trump can go try this one by  It’s an exciting little thriller about “Trump’s ‘Great Relationship’ With A Homicidal Drug Warrior.”

When Maximo Garcia heard that he was on a list of local drug suspects in Mayombo, he tried to clear his name with the police chief, explaining that he no longer used drugs and had never sold them. Four days later, the Philippine news site Rappler reports, a masked gunman shot up Garcia’s house as he and his family were eating lunch, wounding him and killing his 5-year-old granddaughter.

So it goes in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, which has claimed somewhere between 7,000 and 13,000 lives since he took office in June 2016. Although Duterte’s bloody crusade has drawn international criticism, Donald Trump evidently did not think the subject was worth broaching during his meeting with Duterte in Manila on Monday.

Trump, who, this week, bragged about his “great relationship” with Duterte, had previously praised his Philippine counterpart’s “unbelievable job on the drug problem.” Trump meant that as a compliment, but the viciousness of Duterte’s anti-drug campaign does beggar belief.

“If you know any addicts,” Duterte told a crowd of supporters after taking office, “go ahead and kill them yourself, as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.” A few months later, he likened himself to Hitler, saying “there’s 3 million drug addicts” in the Philippines, and “I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

Well, I’m working right now and I’m still Miles go for everything nurse.  You can see I love him like a kid since every one these photos are of him.  He’s also a cat of many talents.

 

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?  Have a great week!!!