Posted: January 1, 2022 Filed under: Afternoon Reads | Tags: Bernard Kerik, Betty White, caturday, conflicts of interest, coronavirus pandemic, Covid-19, Golden Girls, Happy New Year 2022, January 6 insurrection, Joe Biden, John Roberts, Major General Paul Eaton, Mary Tyler Moore Show, notable deaths 2021, SCOTUS, Ukraine, Unite the Right rally, Vladimir Putin
Well, 2021 is in the rearview mirror and 2022 lies ahead. Will this year be better than the last two? We can only hope. Every year, we look back at the notable people who have left us, and there were many of those last year. To cap a terrible year, the last living member of the Mary Tyler Moore Show and Golden Girls–Betty White–died yesterday.
The New York Times: Betty White, a Television Golden Girl From the Start, Is Dead at 99.
Betty White, who created two of the most memorable characters in sitcom history, the nymphomaniacal Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and the sweet but dim Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls” — and who capped her long career with a comeback that included a triumphant appearance as the host of “Saturday Night Live” at the age of 88 — died on Friday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 99.
Her death, less than three weeks before her 100th birthday, was confirmed by Jeff Witjas, her longtime friend and agent.
Ms. White won five Primetime Emmys and one competitive Daytime Emmy — as well as a lifetime achievement Daytime Emmy in 2015 and a Los Angeles regional Emmy in 1952 — in a television career that spanned seven decades and that the 2014 edition of “Guinness World Records” certified as the longest ever for a female entertainer.
But her breakthrough came relatively late in life, with her work on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” from 1973 to 1977, for which she won two of her Emmys.
As Sue Ann, the host of a household-hints show on the television station where Ms. Moore’s character worked, the bedimpled Ms. White was annoyingly positive and upbeat, but also manipulative and bawdy — the sexpot next door, who would have you believe she slept with entire Army brigades during World War II.
Once, when someone asked her how she was feeling, Sue Ann replied cheerfully: “I didn’t sleep a wink all night. I feel wonderful.”
She won another Emmy in 1986 for an entirely different kind of character: the naïve, scatterbrained Rose on “The Golden Girls,” which revolved around the lives of four older women sharing a house in Miami. Whereas Sue Ann knew everything there was to know about getting a man into bed, Rose got to the same place innocently, and by being just a wee bit off center.
Ms. White was the last surviving member of the show’s four stars. Estelle Getty died in 2008, Bea Arthur in 2009 and Rue McClanahan in 2010.
Read the rest at the NYT.
In 2021, we also lost Cloris Leachman (January 27, Gavin MacLeod (May 29), Ed Asner (August 29).
Read about more notable people who died in 2021 at The New York Times: Deaths in 2021: Headline Names Against the Backdrop of Pandemic.
In the news today, the pandemic rages on. CBS News: The world welcomes 2022 with muted celebrations as COVID-19 cases surge.
The world rang in 2022 with muted celebrations for another year, as the coronavirus pandemic — now fueled by the fast-spreading Omicron variant — continues to upset daily life across the globe. The new variant, which is now driving record case numbers in the U.S., forced many cities to tone down celebrations or cancel them altogether.
New York City’s Times Square still held an event, but it only allowed a small fraction of the typical crowd, and all attendees over the age of 5 who do not qualify for an exemption were required to be fully vaccinated and wear face masks. Cities such as Atlanta and San Francisco canceled typical celebrations.
In New Zealand, one of the first cities to kick off the new year, a light display replaced the traditional fireworks show. Australia proceeded with its seven-minute fireworks display over the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House, but limited access to downtown Sydney, the Associated Press reported.
Earlier this week, Dr. Anthony Fauci urged Americans not to attend large gatherings on New Year’s Eve.
“What I would suggest people do not do, is to go to very large 50-to-60-person parties where people are blowing whistles and all that sort of thing, and celebrating, and you don’t know the vaccination status of the people in that environment,” Fauci said.
President Biden spoke to Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Thursday night. The Washington Post:
WILMINGTON, Del. — President Biden said Friday that he warned Russian President Vladimir Putin in a call that there would be “a heavy price to pay” if Russia invades Ukraine again.
Biden said he “made it clear” that any further military action by the Kremlin would result in “severe sanctions” but did not go as far as to say that Washington would respond to Russia’s continued military presence near the border with Ukraine.
“I’m not going to negotiate here in public,” Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Del., where he is spending New Year’s Eve. “But we made it clear he cannot, I’ll emphasize, cannot invade Ukraine.”
Following his call on Thursday with Putin, Biden plans to speak by phone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday amid growing alarm over Russia’s military buildup near its border with Ukraine.
Biden will “reaffirm U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” according to a White House official, previewing the call to reporters on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the White House. Biden is also expected to review preparations with Zelensky for the upcoming diplomatic talks.
Senior U.S. and Russian officials will meet in Geneva on Jan. 9 and 10, before a meeting of the Russia-NATO Council on Jan. 12 and negotiations at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe in Vienna on Jan. 13.
Biden told reporters Friday that ahead of those conferences, Putin “laid out some of his concerns about NATO and the United States and Europe, and we laid out ours. And we said we’d begin to negotiate some of those issues. But I made it clear that they only could work if, in fact, he de-escalated, not escalated, the situation there.”
Party Cat, by Cindy Thompson
Chief Justice John Roberts issued his laughable year-end report. The New York Times: Chief Justice Roberts Reflects on Conflicts, Harassment and Judicial Independence.
Amid a drop in public confidence in the Supreme Court and calls for increasing its membership, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. devoted his annual year-end report on the federal judiciary on Friday to a plea for judicial independence.
“The judiciary’s power to manage its internal affairs insulates courts from inappropriate political influence and is crucial to preserving public trust in its work as a separate and coequal branch of government,” he wrote.
The report comes less than a month after a bipartisan commission appointed by President Biden finished its work studying changes to the federal judiciary. While that panel analyzed proposals like imposing 18-year term limits on justices and expanding, or “packing,” the court with additional justices, much of the chief justice’s report was focused on thwarting less contentious efforts by Congress to address financial conflicts and workplace misconduct in the judicial system. Both issues are the subject of proposed legislation that has drawn bipartisan support.
Gabe Roth, the executive director of Fix the Court, a nonprofit group that has called for stricter ethics rules for the Supreme Court, said the chief justice faced an uphill battle.
“Chief Justice Roberts is taking a page from his old playbook: acknowledging institutional challenges in the judiciary but telling the public that only we judges can fix them,” Mr. Roth said. “Yet the problems of overlooked financial conflicts and sexual harassment are serious and endemic, and there’s no indication they’re going away. So Congress has every right to step in and, via legislation, hold the third branch to account, which I expect to happen in 2022.”
Chief Justice Roberts addressed at some length a recent series of articles in The Wall Street Journal that found that 131 federal judges had violated a federal law by hearing 685 lawsuits between 2010 and 2018 that involved companies in which they or their families owned shares of stock.
“Let me be crystal clear: The judiciary takes this matter seriously,” the chief justice wrote. “We expect judges to adhere to the highest standards, and those judges violated an ethics rule. But I do want to put these lapses in context.”
Hahahahaha! I’ll take him seriously when he address the many conflicts of interest on the Supreme Court, beginning with Clarence Thomas and his wife.
We are approaching the anniversary of the January 6 Capitol insurrection. In the news today:
The latest Trump/Giuliani pal to release documents to the January 6 committee is Bernard Kerik. Politico: Bernard Kerik provides batch of documents to Jan. 6 select committee.
A key adviser to Donald Trump’s legal team in their post-election quest to unearth evidence of fraud has delivered a trove of documents to Jan. 6 investigators describing those efforts.
Bernard Kerik, the former New York City Police commissioner and ally of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, also provided a “privilege log” describing materials he declined to provide to the committee.
Teatime Cats, A Celebration! by Isabelle Brent
Among the withheld documents is one titled “DRAFT LETTER FROM POTUS TO SEIZE EVIDENCE IN THE INTEREST OF NATIONAL SECURITY FOR THE 2020 ELECTIONS.” Kerik’s attorney Timothy Parlatore provided the privilege log to the panel, which said the file originated on Dec. 17, a day before Trump huddled in the Oval Office with advisers including former Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, where they discussed the option of seizing election equipment in states whose results Trump was attempting to overturn.
Trump ultimately opted against that strategy, but his consideration of the option is one of the key questions the panel is probing as part of its broader investigation into attempts to overturn the election.
It’s unclear whether the letter is related to the same plan and if Trump knew of its existence. Kerik withheld it, describing it as privileged because of its classification as “attorney work product.”
Another document provided by Kerik to the panel included emails between Kerik and associates about paying for rooms at the Willard Hotel. Kerik had been subpoenaed by the panel on Nov. 8 as part of its investigation into the so-called war room at the Willard Hotel, where Trump allies met to strategize about preventing Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s victory. The panel had originally sent a letter accompanying the subpoena that had incorrectly suggested Kerik was in the war room on Jan. 5, leading Kerik to demand an apology.
Read more at Politico.
More on Kerik from Raw Story: Trump’s Twitter and the Freedom Caucus were key to overturning the election: Bernie Kerik documents.
The House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol has obtained new documents showing how Donald Trump’s Twitter account and the far-right House Freedom Caucus could be used to help overturn the 2020 election.
“A key adviser to Donald Trump’s legal team in their post-election quest to unearth evidence of fraud has delivered a trove of documents to Jan. 6 investigators describing those efforts,” Politico reported Friday. “Bernard Kerik, the former New York City Police commissioner and ally of Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, also provided a “privilege log” describing materials he declined to provide to the committee.”
Kerik — who was pardoned by Trump 11 months before the insurrection — is not an attorney but has claimed his work under Giuliani was covered by attorney-client privilege. Giuliani has had his law license suspended in New York and Washington, D.C.
“Another 22-page document, titled “STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS PLAN – GIULIANI PRESIDENTIAL LEGAL DEFENSE TEAM,” describes a 10-day blitz aimed at Republican House and Senate members to pressure them to vote against certifying the 2020 election results,” Politico reported. “The document says its primary channels to disseminate messaging on these efforts included ‘presidential tweets’ as well as talk radio, conservative bloggers, social media influencers, Trump campaign volunteers and other media allies. A list of ‘key team members’ supporting the effort included ‘Freedom Caucus Members’ — a reference to the group of hardline House conservatives, some of whom backed Trump’s effort to overturn the election.”
Cats Birthday Party, by Andrew Osta
More January 6 news from Raw Story: ‘Unite the Right’ set the stage for Jan. 6 — and helped launch some of the biggest players in the Capitol riot.
Days after neo-Nazi James Fields Jr. murdered antiracist activist Heather Heyer in a horrific car-ramming attack in Charlottesville, Va., the Daily Caller, a website founded by Tucker Carlson, quietly removed articles by contributor Jason Kessler.
Kessler was the primary organizer of the Unite the Right rally, which saw neo-Nazis chant, “Jews will not replace us,” as they carried torches to the Rotunda at the University of Virginia on Aug. 11, 2017 and again the following day as they marched through Charlottesville.
More than four years later, the ideas that galvanized the Unite the Right rally are no longer considered too radioactive for mainstream conservative media. Carlson himself embraced the Great Replacement theory — responsible for fueling massacres in Pittsburgh; Christchurch, New Zealand; Poway, Calif.; and El Paso, Texas — on his Fox News show in April 2021. He accused Democrats of “trying to replace the current electorate” in the United States “with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World.”
There are distinct differences in messaging between Unite the Right, in which white supremacists used Confederate symbols and neo-Nazi aesthetics to nakedly promote white nationalism, and the Jan. 6 insurrection, in which Trump supporters filtered similar aims through QAnon, paranoid anticommunism, and a perverted version of patriotism.
Amy Spitalnick, executive director of Integrity First for America — the nonprofit that won the civil lawsuit against the organizers of Unite the Right — is among those who see distinct similarities between the two events.
“The four years in between have shown us how much of this extremism has moved into the mainstream,” she said. “If you look at the tools and tactics, there are many, many parallels, from the use of social media to plan the violence to explicit discussion of the use of free speech instruments like flagpoles as weapons, to the immediate finger-pointing to ‘antifa, blaming them for the violence that far-right extremists were responsible for to even some of the ideology.
“While Charlottesville was explicitly white nationalist with holocaust imagery, and with KKK and Nazi paraphernalia like the tiki torches that are meant to evoke dark periods of our history, on January 6th when you think about ‘stopping the steal,’ it also speaks at its core to this same idea: There’s a plot to steal the country from largely white Christians,” Spitalnick continued. “That idea that Jews will not replace us is at the core of Unite the Right, but it’s also at the core of Jan. 6. We’ve seen how these ideas have been mainstreamed, from Tucker Carlson giving replacement theory a home on Fox News every night to Republican politicians talking about it.”
Read the rest at Raw Story.
Major General Paul Eaton issued a chilling warning in an interview with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly: Retired general warns the U.S. military could lead a coup after the 2024 election. (Eaton co-authored an op-ed at The Washington Post with two other retired generals that warned the military to prepare for another insurrection in 2024). Some exerpts:
How could a coup play out in 2024?
The real question is does everybody understand who the duly elected president is? If that is not a clear-cut understanding, that can infect the rank and file or at any level in the U.S. military.
And we saw it when 124 retired generals and admirals signed a letter contesting the 2020 election. We’re concerned about that. And we’re interested in seeing mitigating measures applied to make sure that our military is better prepared for a contested election, should that happen in 2024.
How worried is he on a scale of 1 to 10?
I see it as low probability, high impact. I hesitate to put a number on it, but it’s an eventuality that we need to prepare for. In the military, we do a lot of war-gaming to ferret out what might happen. You may have heard of the Transition Integrity Project that occurred about six months before the last election. We played four scenarios. And what we did not play is a U.S. military compromised — not to the degree that the United States is compromised today, as far as 39% of the Republican Party refusing to accept President Biden as president — but a compromise nonetheless. So, we advocate that that particular scenario needs to be addressed in a future war game held well in advance of 2024….
What should the military do?
I had a conversation with somebody about my age, and we were talking about civics lessons, liberal arts education and the development of the philosophical underpinnings of the U.S. Constitution. And I believe that bears a reteach to make sure that each and every 18-year-old American truly understands the Constitution of the United States, how we got there, how we developed it and what our forefathers wanted us to understand years down the road. That’s an important bit of education that I think that we need to readdress.
I believe that we need to war-game the possibility of a problem and what we are going to do. The fact that we were caught completely unprepared — militarily, and from a policing function — on Jan. 6 is incomprehensible to me. Civilian control of the military is sacrosanct in the U.S. and that is a position that we need to reinforce.
Sorry this post is so long and so late. I hope you all have a nice, relaxing weekend.
Posted: January 12, 2017 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: conflicts of interest, Donald Trump, ethics, press conference, Russia, Vladimir Putin
Where to begin? Each day since the 2016 election brings with it more insanity, more chaos, more despair. What are we to do with a president-elect who is utterly unqualified for the office as well as shockingly dishonest and seemingly mentally incompetent? We are headed into dangerous waters in a ship with no captain.
Yesterday Donald Trump held his first press conference since last July, and it was a doozy. Dan Balz at The Washington Post: After an aggressive news conference, questions linger about Trump’s readiness.
President-elect Donald Trump’s first news conference in six months was a vintage performance. He was self-assured, aggressive, combative, at times willing to offend and at times trying to sound conciliatory. What it added up to was a reminder of the challenges he will face in gaining and maintaining full public trust once he is sworn in as president.
No president in memory has come to the brink of his inauguration with such a smorgasbord of potential problems and unanswered questions, or with the level of public doubts that exist around his leadership. Though he dealt with the issues directly on Wednesday, what he could not answer — what he cannot answer until he is in the Oval Office — is whether he can avoid having these kinds of questions plague and possibly debilitate his presidency over the next four years.
Trump and his advisers have dismissed much of the pre-inaugural controversy as part of an effort to delegitimize his election victory and undermine his presidency even before he takes office. Still, the questions swirling around him as he came to the lobby of Trump Tower were an unprecedented mixture of the personal, the financial and the substantive.
Has he been compromised by the Russians, the most explosive and newest of allegations? (He denied all as fake news.) Are he and his party in conflict over U.S.-Russia relations? Will he truly separate himself from his sprawling business empire in a way that avoids conflicts of interest? Can he and Congress find common ground on repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act? Will he live up to the promises he made as a candidate?
The news conference put on display everything the country has come to recognize in Trump from the presidential campaign….Right from the start, he swung back hard against salacious and unsubstantiated claims of personal misbehavior contained in a document prepared by a former Western intelligence officer and now in the hands of the federal government. He aggressively chastised BuzzFeed for publishing the entire document online and CNN for promoting the story about its existence (though CNN did not publish the document).
BTW, Trump referred to Buzzfeed as a “failing pile of garbage.” The site is now selling T-shirts and limited edition trash cans bearing Trump’s words.
Think Progress: Trump shouted down CNN’s Jim Acosta as ‘fake news’ then took a question from Breitbart.
One of the stranger moments in Wednesday’s deeply strange Donald Trump press conference came when the president-elect got into a shouting match with CNN’s Jim Acosta, who was trying to ask him a question.
Earlier in the presser — his first one since July — Trump had attacked CNN for disseminating “fake news” because it broke the story that both the sitting president and the president-elect had been briefed on allegations that Russia has “compromising personal and financial information” regarding Trump.
“Since you’re attacking us, can you give us a question?” Acosta asked during a Q&A portion of the presser. Trump replied, “Not you, not you, your organization is terrible.”
“I am not going to give you a question,” the president-elect said. “You are fake news.” ….
Shortly after he successfully shouted down Acosta, Trump took a question from Breitbart News — a website closely associated with the white nationalist “alt-right,” and an avid promulgator of misleading or inaccurate information that supports hard-right beliefs. Trump’s top adviser, Steve Bannon, is the former chairman of Breitbart.
I have to assume there won’t be many more press conferences from this thin-skinned wannabe dictator.
Quite a few reporters who gloatingly published unverified hacked emails from the DNC and John Podesta condemned Buzzfeed for publishing the salacious dossier of supposedly compromising information the Russians may have on Trump. But the prestigious Columbia Journalism Review disagrees: BuzzFeed was right to publish Trump-Russia files.
EARLY TUESDAY EVENING, spurred by a CNN story, BuzzFeed published a 35-page dossier on Donald Trump’s alleged long-term relationship with Russia. The documents contain references to compromising information the Russians purportedly gathered about the president-elect and accusations that Trump’s campaign was in regular contact with Russian officials. Within hours, The Guardian,The Washington Post, and The New York Times, among many others, slammed the digital powerhouse for its decision, while pointing out that they, too, had seen the documents but declined to make them public.
BuzzFeed explained that it was publishing the dossier “so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government.” But the Post’s Erik Wemple countered that “Americans can only ‘make up their own minds’ if they build their own intelligence agencies, with a heavy concentration of operatives in Russia and Eastern Europe.” The Guardian, meanwhile, complained that BuzzFeed’s “decision…forced other media outlets to repeat the allegations or ignore a story that lit up the internet.” That writer was quick to note that his paper, too, “had obtained and reviewed the documents in recent weeks but declined to publish because there was no way to independently verify them.”
The media’s full-throated condemnation of BuzzFeed is both self-righteous and self-serving. BuzzFeed noted up front that the documents contained “explosive—but unverified—information,” and Editor in Chief Ben Smith convincingly defended the decision in a staff memo, arguing that the dossier was being read and talked about “at the highest levels of American government and media. It seems to lie behind a set of vague allegations from the Senate Majority [sic] Leader to the director of the FBI and a report that intelligence agencies have delivered to the president and president-elect.”
I think that was supposed to be a reference to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s letter to James Comey in October. CJR argued that Buzzfeed has now made itself a strong candidate to receive future leaks.
Meanwhile, BBC News reporter Paul Wood says there is more than one source claiming Russia has compromising information on Trump. BBC News: Trump ‘compromising’ claims: How and why did we get here?
I understand the CIA believes it is credible that the Kremlin has such kompromat – or compromising material – on the next US commander in chief. At the same time a joint taskforce, which includes the CIA and the FBI, has been investigating allegations that the Russians may have sent money to Mr Trump’s organisation or his election campaign.
Claims about a Russian blackmail tape were made in one of a series of reports written by a former British intelligence agent, understood to be Christopher Steele.
As a member of MI6, he had been posted to the UK’s embassy in Moscow and now runs a consultancy giving advice on doing business in Russia. He spoke to a number of his old contacts in the FSB, the successor to the KGB, paying some of them for information.
They told him that Mr Trump had been filmed with a group of prostitutes in the presidential suite of Moscow’s Ritz-Carlton hotel. I know this because the Washington political research company that commissioned his report showed it to me during the final week of the election campaign….
And the former MI6 agent is not the only source for the claim about Russian kompromat on the president-elect. Back in August, a retired spy told me he had been informed of its existence by “the head of an East European intelligence agency”.
Later, I used an intermediary to pass some questions to active duty CIA officers dealing with the case file – they would not speak to me directly. I got a message back that there was “more than one tape”, “audio and video”, on “more than one date”, in “more than one place” – in the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow and also in St Petersburg – and that the material was “of a sexual nature”.
Read the rest at the link.
The other news from the press conference was Trump’s ludicrous plan to deal with his massive conflicts of interest. A good start would be to release his tax returns, but he reiterated yesterday that he’s not going to do that. Instead he had his lawyer make a bizarre presentation that did nothing to deal with the problem.
For this I’m going to turn to Deadspin, a sports website that seemingly is not as fearful of the incoming tin-pot dictator and some mainstream outlets: This Is Why You Don’t Kiss The Ring, by Hamilton Nolan.
Today we saw a “press conference” by our incoming president at which he put forth a farcical plan to allow his own sons to continue running his vast business empire while he is president, and spoke at length about his belief that as president it is impossible for him to have meaningful conflicts of interest, which is why he felt comfortable presenting his decision to turn down a $2 billion business deal with a Middle Eastern real estate mogul as something noble, rather than as an obvious decision that would be made as a matter of course under a normal presidential administration. He dismissed serious reporting that reflected poorly on him as “fake news,” and promised to retaliate against news outlets that displeased him. These things are not normal. These things are not okay. These are actions that flout well-established ethical and civil norms. Admittedly, there is something thrilling about watching him do this. What will he do next? It always keeps us tuning in, in the same way that a violent alcoholic father will always keep his children on his toes. But we should not fool ourselves about what is happening in front of our eyes. We are all coming to realize that our civil society institutions may not be strong enough to protect the flawed but fundamentally solid democracy that we thought we had. We are witnessing the rise to power of a leader who does not care about norms. Since these norms were created to prevent political, social, economic, and cultural disasters, we do not need to wonder how this will end. It will end poorly.
Please go read the whole thing.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of today’s news, but I’m out of space and I’m still very tired from moving on our new office with moving companies houston. I’ll leave it to you to post your own links in the comment thread below.
Posted: December 20, 2016 Filed under: morning reads, U.S. Politics | Tags: conflicts of interest, corruption, Donald Trump, terrorism
AP photo of Assassination of russian ambassador in Turkey
So . . . It’s Tuesday
As usual these days, the news is not good. tRump will be POTUS in one month, and it’s very hard to imagine how our country survives as a democratic republic. All I can do is cling to hope that something will prevent this monster from becoming Hitler 2.0. It also looks like instability is going to keep rising around the world, and that too is a reaction to tRump–either directly or indirectly.
I’m also dealing with my housing situation and I’m basically paralyzed with fear and anxiety. I can’t recall the last time I felt so overwhelmed. It was probably back when I was at the worst of my drinking. I’m trying my best to focus on one day at a time, but it’s not easy. I am going to move into the apartment I told you about, but the money I will have to live on is going to be more limited than it was for me where I am now. I’m feeling a lot of shame about being so poor. But I really have no choice about doing this. I will have to be very careful about what I spend on food. I’m feeling so emotional right now; I keep crying out of the blue. I guess it is the shock of having to move after all these years and not really knowing how I’m going to manage it.
Anyway, sorry to burden you all with my problems. Since I already shared what is happening, I felt I had to provide an update. I hope in time, I’ll be feeling a lot better about all this. This will be mostly a link dump, because I have to go sign my lease and deal with other stuff today.
The events that took place yesterday in Turkey and Germany are incredibly disturbing, because we will have an insane POTUS dealing with these kinds of attacks. And that follows on the incident with China a few days ago which was very likely a response to tRump’s foolish phone call with Taiwan and his ridiculous twitter comments. Here’s the latest.
The Washington Post: An assassination and a gunman’s final words put Turkey on edge.
MOSCOW — A team of Russian detectives arrived in Turkey on Tuesday to join the investigation into the slaying of Moscow’s ambassador by a Turkish police officer — an act portrayed by both countries as an effort to rupture a rapprochement between the two regional powers backing opposite sides in Syria’s civil war.
The attack Monday also touched off sweeps across Turkey as authorities hunted for clues in the life of the 22-year-old gunman, who decried the violence in Syria after pumping several bullets into the ambassador at a photo exhibit.
Russia is a key ally of Syria’s government while Turkey has been a stalwart backer of rebel factions, although both nations have worked together on a plan to evacuate civilians and opposition fighters from their last enclave in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo.
Officer Mevlut Mert Altintas gunned down Ambassador Andrei Karlov as the diplomat spoke before an exhibition of Russian photos at an art gallery in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
After killing the ambassador, Altintas, an officer with the riot police, denounced Russia’s role in the Syrian war, screaming: “Don’t forget Aleppo! Don’t forget Syria!” He was later killed in a gun battle with the police.
Truck plows into crowded Christmas market in Berlin
NBC News: Berlin Truck Attack: Pakistan Migrant Is Christmas Market Suspect.
BERLIN — A migrant from Pakistan was identified Tuesday as a suspect in a truck attack on a crowded Christmas market in Germany’s capital, but police said it was still unclear if he was the main perpetrator.
The man was arrested not far from the scene of Monday night’s carnage, which left 12 people dead and wounded nearly 50 others.
He entered the country last year and had applied for asylum, Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said, adding that other people may be involved.
The suspect in custody has denied responsibility.
Berlin police chief Klaus Kandt told reporters: “We are not sure if the suspect in custody is the right man … in fact, in my view it is still not certain whether he really was the driver.”
A temporary accommodation center for migrants was raided overnight by special operations police, but no further arrests were made.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has faced political pressure over open-arms policy for refugees, earlier said it would be “hard for us all to bear” if the perpetrator “was someone who sought protection and asylum.”
Of course tRump will see this as ammunition for his war against immigrants.
On the corruption front, tRump’s conflicts of interest get worse and more frightening by the day.
Think Progress: Under political pressure, Kuwait cancels major event at Four Seasons, switches to Trump’s D.C. hotel.
The Embassy of Kuwait allegedly cancelled a contract with a Washington, D.C. hotel days after the presidential election, citing political pressure to hold its National Day celebration at the Trump International Hotel instead.
A source tells ThinkProgress that the Kuwaiti embassy, which has regularly held the event at the Four Seasons in Georgetown, abruptly canceled its reservation after members of the Trump Organization pressured the ambassador to hold the event at the hotel owned by the president-elect. The source, who has direct knowledge of the arrangements between the hotels and the embassy, spoke to ThinkProgress on the condition of anonymity because the individual was not authorized to speak publicly. ThinkProgress was also able to review documentary evidence confirming the source’s account.
In the early fall, the Kuwaiti Embassy signed a contract with the Four Seasons. But after the election, members of the Trump Organization contacted the Ambassador of Kuwait, Salem Al-Sabah, and encouraged him to move his event to Trump’s D.C. hotel, the source said.
Kuwait has now signed a contract with the Trump International Hotel, the source said, adding that a representative with the embassy described the decision as political. Invitations to the event are typically sent out in January….
The apparent move by the Kuwaiti Embassy appears to be an effort to gain favor with president-elect through his business entanglements, and it appears to show Trump’s company leveraging his position as president-elect to extract payments from a foreign government. The latter, according to top legal experts, would be unconstitutional and could ultimately constitute an impeachable offense.
NPR Morning Edition: Trump’s Doral Golf Course Highlights His Conflicts Of Interest.
President-elect Donald Trump has financial stakes in hundreds of companies. But one line of business is particularly important to him: golf courses.
He owns more than a dozen courses, which provide the Trump Organization with major streams of revenue and bolster his “luxury” brand image.
But they also created conflicts of interest. As president, he will be able to steer environmental and labor policies that could boost the income from his golf courses.
Take Trump National Doral. It’s a huge luxury resort near Miami, and it provides a good example of how Trump’s role as president and as businessman will come into conflict….
But at Doral, and for clubs and golf courses around the country, new labor regulations promoted by the Obama administration are having an impact on how they do business. And many course owners aren’t happy.
Brad Steele explains why. He’s the general counsel with the National Club Association, a trade group that represents country clubs and golf courses. Steele says the recession was tough on golf courses, and the recovery hasn’t been easy. “The last eight years have been relatively difficult for… the private club industry,” he says.
Among the labor rules Steele and his members are most concerned about is one that greatly expands the number of workers eligible for overtime pay. It’s been criticized by business groups and Republicans in Congress, and was recently put on hold by a federal judge.
It’s a rule that Steele thinks will be targeted by the new administration. “We are excited that now there’ll be an administration that starts to look a little more … critically at the impact that these kinds of things can have on business,” he says.
Read the rest at the link.
And then there are the gobsmacking cabinet appointments.
Catherine Rampell at The Washington Post: Trump’s OMB pick seems poised to ignite a worldwide financial crisis.
Over the weekend, President-elect Donald Trump tapped Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) to be his director of the Office of Management and Budget. This Cabinet-level post is responsible for producing the federal budget, overseeing and evaluating executive branch agencies and otherwise advising the president on fiscal matters. It’s a position with tremendous, far-reaching power, even if the public doesn’t pay much attention to it.
Which is why it’s so concerning that Trump chose Mulvaney, who seems poised to help Trump ignite another worldwide financial crisis.
Mulvaney was first elected to Congress in 2010 as part of the anti-government, tea party wave. A founding member of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, he is among Congress’s most committed fiscal hawks. He has repeatedly voted against his own party’s budget proposals because they were insufficiently conservative.
All this will presumably put him at odds with Trump’s plans to balloon federal deficits through a $7 trillion cut in individual and corporate income taxes, another half-trillion in infrastructure subsidies and other major spending expansions.
It’s unclear how Trump’s fiscally profligate platform meshes with Mulvaney’s preference for penny-pinching. He might push back on Trump’s most expensive ideas. Maybe he’ll employ accounting gimmicks and magic asterisks to force Trump’s numbers to add up. Trump’s campaign advisers have already been doing this, disingenuously claiming that his policies will pay for themselves through unrealistic economic growth.
Or maybe Mulvaney’s job will simply be to convince the rest of the Freedom Caucus to stay mum when deficits explode.
Read the rest at the WaPo.
More news, links only:
Mother Jones: Trump’s Budget Director Pick Spoke at a John Birch Society Event.
Politico: Gingrich: Congress should change ethics laws for Trump.
The Hill: Gingrich suggests Trump pardon advisers who break the law.
Media Matters: Alex Jones Warns Trump That The CIA Is Trying To “Assassinate” The President-Elect.
Talking Points Memo: GOP Rep’s Vision Of Post-ACA World: You Wait To Treat Your Kid’s Broken Arm.
Center for Public Integrity: Donald Trump’s sons behind nonprofit selling access to president-elect.
Haaretz: With Donald Trump, Netanyahu Sees Opportunity for ‘Historic Changes’ for Israel.
What stories are you following today?