Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Deconstructing America


Since winning the election, Trump has declared interpersonal war on a breathtaking list of targets: the Australian prime minister, an acting attorney general, seven predominantly Muslim countries, a "so-called" federal judge, Sweden, "Fake Tears" Chuck Schumer, Saturday Night Live, the FBI, the "very un-American" leakers within the intelligence community, and the city of Paris (it's "no longer Paris"). He's side-eyed Mark Cuban, John McCain, millions of protesters, Lindsey Graham, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Cuomo, the University of California at Berkeley, ratings "disaster" Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nancy Pelosi, the "TRAITOR Chelsea Manning," Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Barack Obama and the city of Chicago, among many, many others.

There is no other story in the world, no other show to watch.The first and most notable consequence of Trump's administration is that his ability to generate celebrity has massively increased, his persona now turbocharged by the vast powers of the presidency.

[...]

Worse, he is leader of a society incapable of discouraging him. The numbers bear out that we are living through a severely amplified déjà vu of last year's media-Trump codependent lunacies. TV-news viewership traditionally plummets after a presidential election, but under Trump, it's soaring.

[...]

Even the long-suffering newspaper business is crawling off its deathbed.

  Matt Taibbi
Apparently, even the press he constantly denegrates is profiting from his presidency.
But as the country is finding out, fame and governance have nothing to do with one another. Trump! is bigger than ever. But the Trump presidency is fast withering on the vine in a bizarre, Dorian Gray-style inverse correlation. Which would be a problem for Trump, if he cared.
I wish I could believe that it's withering.
It couldn't be that the presidency is just a puppy Trump never intended to care for, could it?
That might be the best-case scenario.
"I still don't have my Cabinet approved," he sighs. In truth, Trump does have much of his team approved. In the early days of his administration, while his Democratic opposition was still reeling from November's defeat, Trump managed to stuff the top of his Cabinet with a jaw-dropping collection of perverts, tyrants and imbeciles, the likes of which Washington has never seen.
I'm not sure I'd go that far - Washington seems to be where most of those types dwell.
Some appointees were less terrifying than others. Former ExxonMobil chief Rex Tillerson at least pays lip service to climate change and probably has enough smarts to complete one side of a Rubik's Cube. Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin would struggle to make a list of the 30 most loathsome Goldman Sachs veterans. These and a few others were merely worst-case-scenario corporate-influence types, industry foxes sent to man regulatory henhouses.

But the rest were the most fantastic collection of creeps since the "Thriller" video.

[...]

Trump's choice for EPA director, Scott Pruitt, was a climate-change denier who infamously zeroed out the environmental-enforcement division from the Oklahoma attorney general's office. For secretary of labor, Trump picked a fast-food titan who prefers robots to human workers (robots, he said, don't file discrimination suits!).

Trump put a brain surgeon in charge of federal housing, picked a hockey-team owner to be secretary of the Army, and chose as budget director a congressman best known for inspiring a downgrade to America's credit rating by threatening to default on the national debt.

[...]

CIA chief Mike Pompeo, a Jesus-humping conspiracist who embraces torture and once called politics "a never-ending struggle ... until the Rapture."

[...]

Trump's pick for energy secretary, Rick Perry, reportedly not only admitted that he didn't know what the Department of Energy actually does, but had called for that very agency's elimination as a presidential candidate (and forgot that fact during a debate). Moreover, Trump had brutalized Perry during the campaign as a dimwit among dimwits, whose "smart glasses" affectation didn't fool anyone.

[...]

[T]o send someone you're on record calling an idiot to run the nation's nuclear arsenal, that doesn't fit easily in any bucket: mischief, evil, incompetence – it's even a little extreme for nihilism.

[...]

"I think before, some people might have been saying, 'Somewhere in his heart [Trump] must love the country. We'll give him the benefit of the doubt," says [Senatory] Murray, stressing she herself never felt this way. "But after DeVos, everyone realized, you can't give him the benefit of the doubt."

[...]

Trump's lead adviser, the fast-talking Breitbart Svengali Steve Bannon, would ultimately explain the thinking behind Trump's appointments in front of the CPAC audience. "If you look at these Cabinet appointees, they were selected for a reason," he said. The mysterious figure described that reason as the "deconstruction of the administrative state."

[...]

One reporter tasked with covering the appointments says the staffing issue comes down to the same question we always have about Trump: Is this a scheme to destroy government, or cluelessness? "It's just so hard to tell," he says, "where this falls on the stupid-to-evil spectrum."
Read the entire article here.  Matt Taibbi is always a good read. He's at his best here describing the breathtaking appointments of idiots and destroyers to high government office, with the Democrats' acquiescence.

P.S. I don't know how I missed this one after Trump claimed Obama had spied on him:
Trump's senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, who will either be ambassador to Mars or in a straitjacket by the end of this presidency, followed up by suggesting the government may have used a microwave oven to surveil Trump Tower during the election.
Holy Jesus.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Get Ready for a Freakout

In a paper published Tuesday in the journal eLife, researchers in the lab of George Church at Harvard University seek broader guidelines to encompass characteristics of engineered embryo- and organ-like structures, which they refer to as “synthetic human entities with embryo-like features,” or SHEEFs.

The paper’s four authors recount how, in 2015, a scientist in the lab was working with adult reprogrammed cells, trying to grow them into brain “organoids.” [...] Even though the cells weren’t embryos, the lab wondered if this was in an ethical gray zone, says John Aach, a member of the lab and an author of the eLife paper.

The researcher was unable to replicate what he saw and moved on to another project, but the ethical questions lingered, says Dr. Aach.

[...]

“We have not crossed any recognizable red lines. There’s still time to talk.”

  WSJ
Aach.
In the U.S., guidelines limit research on human embryos past 14 days of development, or when the primitive streak appears—the so-called 14-day rule.

[...]

Dr. Brivanlou says the 14-day guidelines apply to human embryos and not to synthetic entities like what his lab created in that experiment.

“They are not embryos,” says Dr. Brivanlou. “They will never be implanted in a uterus.”
Famous last words.

(Do not take that to mean I object to this type of research.)
The Harvard researchers argue that research limits should not be tied only to the appearance of a feature like the primitive streak. Rather, they write that research limits should be set at the first condition “that directly raises moral concern.”
After all, we have so few?
“We are developing more capabilities for manipulating humanness,” says Sheila Jasanoff, a professor of science and technology studies at Harvard‘s John F. Kennedy School of Government and a member of the stem-cell oversight committee that considered the Church lab’s experiment. “We still do not know the right boundary line between permissible and impermissible research impinging on humanness.”
I'm not sure we've ever adequately established what humanness is.

And, can they use animals for the research if they can't use people?

Ethics are complex (and sometimes individual) aren't they?

h/t pourmecoffee

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

It's Not Over Til the Fat Lady Sings

An influential British think tank and Ukraine’s military are disputing a report that the U.S. cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has used to buttress its claims of Russian hacking in the presidential election.

[...]

The challenges to CrowdStrike’s credibility are significant because the firm was the first to link last year’s hacks of Democratic Party computers to Russian actors, and because CrowdStrike co-founder Dimiti Alperovitch has trumpeted its Ukraine report as more evidence of Russian election tampering.

[...]

The CrowdStrike report, released in December, asserted that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, resulting in heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists.

But the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) told VOA that CrowdStrike erroneously used IISS data as proof of the intrusion. IISS disavowed any connection to the CrowdStrike report. Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense also has claimed combat losses and hacking never happened.

[...]

IISS, based in London, publishes a highly regarded, annual reference called “The Military Balance” that estimates the strength of world armed forces.

[...]

VOA first contacted IISS in February to verify the alleged artillery losses. Officials there initially were unaware of the CrowdStrike assertions. After investigating, they determined that CrowdStrike misinterpreted their data and hadn’t reached out beforehand for comment or clarification.

In a statement to VOA, the institute flatly rejected the assertion of artillery combat losses.

[...]

VOA first contacted IISS in February to verify the alleged artillery losses. Officials there initially were unaware of the CrowdStrike assertions. After investigating, they determined that CrowdStrike misinterpreted their data and hadn’t reached out beforehand for comment or clarification.

In a statement to VOA, the institute flatly rejected the assertion of artillery combat losses.

[...]

“The vast majority of the reduction actually occurs ... before Crimea/Donbass,” she added, referring to the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

[...]

In a January post on LinkedIn, [Jeffrey Carr, a cyberwarfare consultant who has lectured at the U.S. Army War College, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and other government agencies] called CrowdStrike’s evidence in the Ukraine “flimsy.” He told VOA in an interview that CrowdStrike mistakenly assumed that the X-Agent malware employed in the hacks was a reliable fingerprint for Russian actors. “We now know that’s false,” he said, “and that the source code has been obtained by others outside of Russia."

  VOA
I can see how the Ukrainian military would be reluctant to admit it if they'd been hacked or lost over 50% of their weapons as the report stated, but with the IISS disputing the information, I have to still be extremely skeptical of CrowdStrike's dependability. It seems everyone has decided to take it as gospel that the Russian government hacked the DNC.  Certainly, they've accepted that as fact in the hearings and American press. I don't think that was ever proven.  I'm not saying it didn't happen.  I'm not praising the Russian government. I'm saying I don't believe the claim has been proven, and beyond that, the evidence still looks "flimsy".

Interestingly, this is an article in Voice of America, which is funded by the US government. Also, interestingly, there's an awful lot of RT bashing going on right now because of its funding by the Russian government, but those same people don't seem bothered by VOA. And, likewise, interesting is the fact that CrowdStrike was founded in 2011 by Dmitri Alperovitch, a Russian expatriate and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council policy research center in Washington, whose role is claimed by Global Research to be that of "securing the 21st century for NATO." (Previous concerns about CrowdStrike's report is in this YWA post and this Intercept article.)
CrowdStrike declined to answer VOA’s written questions about the Ukraine report, and Alperovitch canceled a March 15 interview on the topic.
...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Kaepernick Donations

Colin Kaepernick may be out of a job and he may have pledged to end his kneeling protest of the national anthem, but he continues his work to make the world a better place.

Kaepernick recently made twin $50,000 donations to Meals on Wheels America and the Love Army for Somalia, a social media campaign that’s trying to raise $2 million for food and water for starving people in that African nation.

[...]

While President Donald Trump, among others, continues to rip Kaepernick for kneeling during the “Star-Spangled Banner” (and recently presented a federal budget that aims to de-fund programs like Meals on Wheels), Kaepernick has worked to improve the lives of veterans, poor people, minorities, women and immigrants.

It makes you wonder, exactly, who is really working to Make America Great, and who is full of it.

  NY Daily News
...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Good God


Congressman links to Onion story
By MACKENZIE WEINGER 02/06/12   01:57 PM EST  
Updated 02/07/12   11:27 AM EST

Rep. John Fleming has deleted his Facebook post linking to an article in The Onion about a fictional Planned Parenthood “Abortionplex.”

[...]

The May 2011 Onion article details the opening of a “sprawling abortion facility that will allow the organization to terminate unborn lives with an efficiency never before thought possible.” The fictional Abortionplex includes more than 2,000 rooms dedicated to the procedure, as well as “coffee shops, bars, dozens of restaurants and retail outlets, a three-story nightclub, and a 10-screen multiplex theater — features intended not only to help clients relax, but to foster a sense of community and make abortion more of a social event.”

[...]

In a Facebook status on Friday, the Louisiana Republican alerted his followers to The Onion’s May 18, 2011 article, “ Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex” and wrote “More on Planned Parenthood, abortion by the wholesale.”

[...]

The blog Literally Unbelievable — which posts Facebook statuses from users who think Onion articles are real — picked up Fleming’s status before the congressman removed it from the social-networking site. Four users liked the post and eight left comments, with one person writing, “The Onion is satire. How exactly did you get elected?”

  Politico
...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Draining the Swamp - Part Whatever

Jay Clayton, Donald Trump's choice to head the SEC, is slated to appear before the Senate Banking Committee Thursday. In that hearing, he may be asked about some pointed questions about his personal holdings.

Clayton is already an unusual choice, given that he's slated to be a primary regulator of Wall Street while a chunk of his family income will continue to come from Goldman Sachs, where his wife Gretchen works.

  Matt Taibbi
Actually, as Republican administrations go, that's a typical choice, not an unusual one.
Although he will have to recuse himself from enforcement cases involving Goldman, he will not have to sit out of a broad range of other regulatory decisions that affect the company.

[...]

In Clayton's absurdly baroque Form 278 financial disclosure – if you want to feel like your financial life is meager and uncomplicated, take a look at this staggeringly long list of income sources for the former Sullivan and Cromwell mainstay – he lists, under "other assets and income," a series of entries involving a company called WMB Holdings.

[...]

But WMB, and a company called CSC – with which it appears to have a connection – is a company of a very particular type, known well to white-collar investigators.

"It's a corporate formation company," says Jack Blum, an expert on white-collar crime and money laundering who is best known for his investigation of the BCCI scandal. "You call them up, and 20 minutes later you've got a Delaware corporation. I'm exaggerating, of course, but that's what they do."

[...]

The worst-case scenario is a string of shell companies that end in an opaque offshore haven. "That's when the trail becomes impossible to follow," says Blum. Investigators who try to follow money into offshore banking havens have almost no hope of getting answers there, he says.

[...]

"If you want to launder money, evade tax or hide assets from a spouse, you can do it."

Clayton's family seems to have a serious interest in this firm. He lists a series of family trusts containing WMB holdings, most producing high annual dividends.

[...]

The endnote claims Clayton has no beneficial interest or control in these holdings, but that his wife and/or children have a "beneficial interest."
And surely he can't benefit from his wife's or his children's benefits.
Even if WMB and CSC are completely above-board, it's a strange sort of investment for the top cop on the financial beat. It will be interesting to see if he sheds some light on his holdings when he's questioned this week.
...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Draining the Swamp

Benjamin Cassidy, installed by Trump as assistant secretary for legislative affairs, previously worked as a senior executive at Boeing’s international business sector, marketing Boeing military products abroad. Jonathan Rath Hoffman, named assistant secretary for public affairs, previously worked as a consultant to the Chertoff Group, the sprawling homeland security consulting firm founded by former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. The firm has come under fire for advising a variety of firms seeking government contracts, including for full-body scanners deemed invasive by privacy activists. Hoffman also led a state chapter of a neoconservative military-contractor advocacy organization during the 2016 presidential campaign. Neither position requires Senate confirmation.

[...]

Before their confirmations, Jim Mattis and John Kelly, the secretaries of the departments of Defense and Homeland Security, were primarily paid by defense firms.

[...]

Personnel from major defense companies now occupy the highest ranks of the administration including cabinet members and political appointees charged with implementing the Trump agenda. At least 15 officials with financial ties to defense contractors have been either nominated or appointed so far, with potentially more industry names on the way.

[...]

Defense firms have eagerly watched as Trump recently unveiled a budget calling for $54 billion in additional military spending next year, as well as an additional $30 billion for the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security for this fiscal year, which ends on September 31. About $15.5 billion of the $30 billion is slated to be spent on new military equipment.

[...]

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP has weaponized the revolving door by appointing defense contractors and their lobbyists to key government positions as he seeks to rapidly expand the military budget and homeland security programs.

[...]

In the White House, one of the newest members of the National Economic Council staff is Michael Catanzaro, formerly a registered lobbyist working for both Boeing and Halliburton.

[...]

The Trump administration is the “military-industrial complex personified,” said William Hartung, director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy.

  Lee Fang
Get the whole list here.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Touché



"That's not it's mission." - Sean Spicer, probably



Bernie 2020?

If you look at the numbers, Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America – and it’s not even close. Yet bizarrely, the Democratic party – out of power across the country and increasingly irrelevant – still refuses to embrace him and his message.

[...]

A new Fox News poll out this week shows Sanders has a +28 net favorability rating among the US population, dwarfing all other elected politicians on both ends of the political spectrum. And he’s even more popular among the vaunted “independents”, where he is at a mind boggling +41.

[...]

One would think with numbers like that, Democratic politicians would be falling all over themselves to be associated with Sanders, especially considering the party as a whole is more unpopular than the Republicans and even Donald Trump right now.

  Guardian
That should have been impossible, but they pulled it off.
Politico ran a story just this week featuring Democratic officials fretting over the fact that Sanders supporters may upend their efforts to retake governorships in southern states by insisting those candidates adopt Sanders’ populist policies – seemingly oblivious to the fact that Sanders plays well in some of those states too.

Sanders’ effect on Trump voters can be seen in a gripping town hall this week that MSNBC’s Chris Hayes hosted with him in West Virginia – often referred to as “Trump country” – where the crowd ended up giving him a rousing ovation after he talked about healthcare being a right of all people and that we are the only industrialized nation in the world who doesn’t provide healthcare as a right to all its people.
Democrats seem more than happy to put all the blame of the 2016 election on a combination of Russia and James Comey and have engaged in almost zero introspection on the root causes of the larger reality: they are also out of power in not the presidency, but both also houses of Congress, governorships and state houses across the country as well.

[...]

Sanders himself put it this way in his usual blunt style in an interview with New York magazine this week – when asked about whether the Democrats can adapt to the political reality, he said: “There are some people in the Democratic Party who want to maintain the status quo. They would rather go down with the Titanic so long as they have first-class seats.”

[...]

And Sanders’ supporters are already organizing primary challenges to incumbent Democrats who aren’t sufficiently opposing Trump. One thing’s for sure: Democrats who refuse to change do so at their peril.
...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Snowden's "Missing" 11 Days in Hong Kong

I thought I had followed the Edward Snowden story quite closely. Apparently not closely enough, because I missed (or forgot having seen) what was apparently a widely reported lie (as your president would say: FAKE NEWS!) : that Snowden could not - or would not - account for his whereabouts for eleven days in Hong Kong. This was purportedly reason to believe he is a spy for some enemy.

At any rate, here is an article by Glenn Greenwald laying out that whole scenario at length, as reported and claimed by numerous sources whom Greenwald names and quotes, and presenting documentary proof that Edward Snowden was never missing.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

UPDATE:



Regarding Trump Tweet During Hearing

During the Comey-Rogers hearing yesterday, Representative Nunes called out a Trump Tweet that I did not see on his Twitter account. I still don't see it, but there's a copy of one here.

It turns out that Trump has not one, but (at least) two Twitter accounts.  I don't know whether he posts on them both, or if - as I suppose - some staffer runs the @POTUS one, but I guess I'm going to have to start watching both.  Ugh.  The reason I assume some staff person is in charge of the @POTUS one, is because it seems more official and has more video clips and political postings and less unfiltered brain farts.  For those, it's definitely the @realDonaldTrump one.


His tweet included a 51-second video clip of the hearing, which lasted more than five hours. The video clip shows Comey and Rogers confirming they have no evidence indicating that Russia altered vote tallies on Election Day in swing states like Florida, North Carolina and Ohio.

But vote tallying is only one aspect of the electoral process, and it’s not the only aspect of the campaign that Comey and Rogers talked about.

Comey and Rogers said they believe Russia meddled in the race leading up to Election Day, chiefly by cyber-infiltrating the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations. Contrary to Trump’s tweet, they also said the intelligence community did not assess whether Russia’s actions actually had a measurable impact on the election outcome or public opinion.

Because Trump sent out his tweet before the hearing ended, Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., was able to ask Comey and Rogers about it.

"We’ve offered no opinion, have no view, have no information on potential impact because it’s never something that we’ve looked at," Comey said.

  Politifact
P.S.  When Comey responded to Nunes, he said, "I'm sorry, I haven't been following anybody on Twitter while I've been sittin' here."

This Can't Help the Trump-Russia Case

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to skip a meeting with NATO foreign ministers next month in order to stay home for a visit by China's president and will go to Russia later in April, U.S. officials said on Monday, disclosing an itinerary that allies may see as giving Moscow priority over them.

[...]

Tillerson intends to miss what would have been his first meeting of the 28 NATO allies on April 5-6 in Brussels so that he can attend President Donald Trump's expected April 6-7 talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, four current and former U.S. officials said.

  Reuters
WTF is wrong with the White House? It costs taxpayers a bundle for him to always be going to Mar-A-Lago. Also, is the security going to be any better than it was with the Japanese PM?

Jesus Christ.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

The New Fascists at Work

Donald Trump's government published for the first time Monday a list highlighting the nationalities of immigrants who were charged or convicted of crimes but were released by local authorities.

The report puts pressure on so-called sanctuary cities, highlighting jurisdictions that release immigrants who might be subject to deportation instead of transferring them into the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The report, called the " Weekly and Declined Detainer Outcome Report," lists 206 declined “detainers,” or immigrants who were marked by ICE for possible deportation but who were released by law enforcement between January 28, 2017, and February 3, 2017. That’s out of a total 3,083 detainers issued throughout the country during that same period.

[...]

Nearly 70 percent of the immigrants on the list are from Mexico. More than 95 percent are from Latin American countries.

[...]

Most detainers have only been charged with a crime, not convicted: of the 206 on the list, 116 are pending charges.

  Univision
So these people might not even be guilty of any crime.
Among common criminal charges are domestic violence, driving under the influence of alcohol, assault, robbery and sexual assault. There are also immigrants on the list charged with drug possession, resisting an officer and prostitution.
Something, as we all know, only Latinos do.
Travis County, Texas, home of the city of Austin, accounted for 142 (nearly 70 percent) of those charged with crimes and released.

On Monday, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott called the report “deeply disturbing” and highlighted the “urgent need for a statewide sanctuary city ban in Texas.”

Last month, Abbott pulled state funding for Travis County programs after Sheriff Sally Hernandez, a Democrat, said that she would only honor detainer requests from ICE agents on a limited basis.

[...]

“Texas will act to put an end to sanctuary policies that put the lives of our citizens at risk,” Abbott wrote in a statement Monday.
And Texas will no longer be plagued by DUIs, assaults, robberies, prostitution and drugs.  Won't that be wonderful?

Making America Great Again!

First Lady Ivanka

As I've said before, it's not Melania, but Ivanka who is the de facto First Lady.
Although Ivanka Trump will not become a government employee, she is set to have an office on the West Wing’s second floor, with access to classified information and government-issued devices.

Ivanka will not be sworn in or have a salary. The first daughter does not have an official title or position. Rather, her attorney, Jamie Gorelick, told Politico that Ivanka will serve as the president’s “eyes and ears.”

[...]

“While there is no modern precedent for an adult child of the president, I will voluntarily follow all of the ethics rules placed on government employees," Ivanka said in a statement, according to the New York Times.

  RT
And while you're at it, could you ask your father to do the same?

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

What the??

Shaquille O’Neal revealed his belief about the shape of the planet Earth speaking during a show on an internet radio station.

“It’s true. The Earth is flat. The Earth is flat. Yes, it is,” he said speaking at podbay.fm show.

The 45-year-old has referred to his traveling experience when explaining the belief.

“I drive from coast to coast, and this s*** is flat to me. I’m just saying. I drive from Florida to California all the time, and it’s flat to me. I do not go up and down at a 360-degree angle.”

  RT
Good God, Man.
“This is not even a conspiracy theory. The Earth is flat,” four-time NBA All Star [Kyrie] Irving said on another podcast, published on February 17.
Jesus wept.

Who Gets the Last Laugh?

In the wake of comments by Trump and his administration expressing scepticism bordering on hostility about the effectiveness of Nato, Cameron cautioned: “We should treasure Nato, not undermine it. We won’t make American great by making eastern Europe weaker again.”

[...]

On Monday, in remarks that reportedly drew laughter and applause from the audience, Cameron weighed in on the row between Trump and almost everyone else – British spy agency GCHQ, the FBI and Barack Obama himself among them – over whether the president was, as he claimed without evidence, “wire-tapped” by his predecessor.

There was one plus point of his departure from politics, Cameron – who was previously labelled “a dummy” by the then Apprentice host – joked: “I don’t have to listen any more to the wiretaps of Donald Trump’s conversations.”

[...]

[He added] swiftly, perhaps for the benefit of the Twitter-happy president: “Just to be clear, that’s a joke.”

  Guardian
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi joked to President Trump during an Oval Office meeting on Monday afternoon that his country was not involved in the alleged wiretapping of the GOP candidate's campaign last fall.

A reporter asked Trump about "wiretaps" that the president has claimed his predecessor ordered. Trump did not respond to the question, but al-Abadi chirped in.

"We had nothing to do with the wiretap," al-Abadi said, grabbing Trump's arm as he made the joke.

  Washington Examiner


Actually, that IS funny. George W was the same - perhaps for different reasons. What's not funny is that we elect dangerous buffoons to the presidency.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Doonesbury Creator Garry Trudeau on T-Rump's Hair

Whenever I sit down to make sense of it, it never fails to engage. It’s an unknowable triumph of weaving, laquering and taxidermy, and I’ll never quite get it right. The coif is my Moby Dick.
Garry Trudeau
Trump used to have medium brown hair, which everyone knows turns a lovely shade of strawberry blond as one ages. Well, actually, I didn’t know that, but it’s been fun to observe.
Garry Trudeau

Fox Forced to Fix Fake News

Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano is being kept off the air indefinitely amid the controversy over his unverified claims that British intelligence wiretapped Trump Tower at the behest of former President Obama.

[...]

The former New Jersey Superior Court Judge, citing unnamed sources, said that the British foreign surveillance agency, the Government Communications Headquarters, “most likely” provided Obama with transcripts of Trump’s recorded calls.

“By bypassing all American intelligence services, Obama would have had access to what he wanted with no Obama administration fingerprints,” Napolitano wrote in a column on FoxNews.com.

[...]

White House press secretary Sean Spicer cited Napolitano’s charge last week when asked why President Trump continues to stand by his initial claim.

[...]

[A sharp] rebuttal [by the British spy agency] did not stop President Trump from citing Napolitano as a source again when he was asked about the wiretapping claims at a Friday news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“You shouldn’t be talking to me; you should be talking to Fox News,” said Trump, who described Napolitano as “a very talented lawyer.”

[...]

Napolitano said on one program that "Fox News has spoken to intelligence community members who believe that surveillance did occur, that it was done by British intelligence.”

Fox News, however, did no such thing, forcing its anchors to walk back Napolitano’s statement.

[...]

People familiar with the situation who could speak only on the condition of anonymity said Napolitano is not expected to be on Fox News Channel any time in the near future. Napolitano was not available for comment.

  La Times
I bet.

Matt Taibbi Notes on the Hearing

Matt Taibbi published a few notes on the hearing in Rolling Stone, including this:
[B]oth Comey and Rogers are  [...]  allowing members of both parties to make speeches and ask their suggestive questions, while giving them next to nothing.

[...]

Except for very rare occasions when mega-careful witnesses like Comey and Rogers decide to give up tidbits, for the most part these hearings are held so that House members can ping-pong talking points off witnesses, and then circulate clips of themselves asking questions to which they already know the answers.

  Rolling Stone
And that's pretty much what they did rather than ask actual questions, and most of those were answered with "I can't answer that."  Even if you didn't know the person asking the questions, you could almost always tell what party that person belongs to just by what he or she felt the need to point out.

And this:
Comey is a very, very slick witness, difficult to read.
That he is. That he is.  It's actually quite entertaining to watch the man being questioned.

You might want to read the whole article of notes.  Taibbi has a good eye and ear for this kind of thing.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

It's Way Past Time for DiFi to Sit Down and STFU

Dianne Feinstein suggested the President would quit before he was potentially forced out of office after anti-Trump protesters in Los Angeles demanded to know why more wasn’t being done by Congress to remove him from office.

[...]

Hinting she might know more than she is able to let on, Ms Feinstein, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, replied: “We have a lot of people looking into this. I think he’s going to get himself out.”

  UK Independent
To spend more time with his family? Ha.

That would be wonderful, but I won't hold my breath.

But this is the bit that concerns me...
She went on to cite several potential conflicts of interests surrounding the Trump business empire, but she declined to say whether she thought the President had done anything that was worthy of impeachment.

“I can’t answer that right now,” she said.

[...]

Referencing recent trips to Dubai by Mr Trump’s sons, Donald Jr and Eric, where they opened a new golf club, she said: “I think sending sons to another country to make a financial deal for his company and then have that covered with Government expenses, I believe those Government expenses should not be allowed."
And was it? It looks that way:



Add that to the cost of keeping Melania and Barron in New York, and you can see why we have to cut Sesame Street and Meals on Wheels.

..but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

We All Know Ivanka Is First Lady

According to a widely reported pre-inauguration estimate, New York City was spending $1 million a day on police assigned to keeping the Trumps and Trump Tower safe. In November, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he would “begin the conversation with the federal government shortly on reimbursement for the NYPD for some of the costs that we are incurring.” But is it right for federal tax dollars to go to accommodating the first lady’s choice to renounce her usual duties and live in a different city from her husband? Melania and Barron are probably better off, psychologically, not living with Trump—but it’s not taxpayers’ responsibility to foot the bill for their choices.

[...]

If Trump is so personally wealthy, let him reimburse New York City for the police who are keeping his estranged wife and son safe. Whatever arrangement Trump and Melania have made regarding how their marriage works, the rest of the United States has no part in it.

  Slate
Also, what's the additional cost to taxpayers for T-Rump weekending at Mar-A-Lago? And running around the country holding campaign rallies for his next run? The "Thank You" tour.

Can't wait to hear - and by hear I mean read - the whining he's going to do in Kentucky about the Comey/Rogers hearing.

No wonder he has to cut Meals on Wheels.

Twitter?

One of the hearing panel just read what he claimed was two tweets by Trump during this hearing that he had just been given.

Don't know what's going on there, because neither one of them show up on the Trump Twitter account I'm lookoing at.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

UPDATE:

Aha, here is the answer.

What's the Outcome of the Hearing?

Considering all the Russia-bashing, it seems one of the main outcomes will be an increased tension between the USG and the Russian government. That should disturb everyone.

Also, sore butts.  I've been watching for 2 hours, and I'm starting to feel sorry for Comey and Rogers.  Who would have thought that possible?

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

UPDATE:  Matt Taibbi published a few notes on the hearing, including this:

[B]oth Comey and Rogers are  [...]  allowing members of both parties to make speeches and ask their suggestive questions, while giving them next to nothing.

[...]

Except for very rare occasions when mega-careful witnesses like Comey and Rogers decide to give up tidbits, for the most part these hearings are held so that House members can ping-pong talking points off witnesses, and then circulate clips of themselves asking questions to which they already know the answers.

  Rolling Stone
And that's pretty much what they did rather than ask actual questions, and most of them were answered with "I can't answer that."  Even if you didn't know the person asking the questions, you could almost always tell what party that person belongs to just by what he or she felt the need to point out.

And this:
Comey is a very, very slick witness, difficult to read.
That he is. That he is.  Actually quite entertaining to watch the man being questioned.

You might want to read the whole article of notes.  Taibbi has a good eye and ear for this kind of thing.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Tweet Storm to Come

Terri Sewell, a black, female Democrat from Alabama is questioning Comey in a tone that makes obvious her disdain (yea, anger) toward Mike Flynn (specifically his contact with Russian officials and his lies) and Russia. I'm expecting T-Rump to go off on Twitter.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Comey Refuses to Confirm

Comey was just asked by Rep. Trey Gowdy if he could assure the American public that the leaking is being investigated. He said no. Not that it is or isn't, but that he won't confirm it. He's pretty much telling everybody that the FBI is taking everything very seriously, but he won't speak to anything having to do with any specific person.

He then answered every question about specific events by saying he can't comment.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Comey Speaks

This must be what has T-Rump's bowels in an uproar this morning:
FBI Chief James Comey said publicly for the first time Monday that his agency is investigating alleged links between Russia and the Trump campaign and whether any crimes may have been committed during last year's election campaign.

"That includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts," Comey said in his opening statement to a dramatic hearing before the House Intelligence Committee.

[...]

Comey is also expected to publicly reject President Donald Trump's claims that he was wiretapped by his predecessor, Barack Obama.

[...]

Republican Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes [...] said the hearing would seek information about who has leaked classified information linked to the issue or Russian election interference.

  CNN
McCarthyism, Mr. Trump?


...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

People's Climate March April 29


...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

But His Vocabulary Is Astounding

US President Donald Trump on Sunday criticised North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, saying he was "acting very, very badly" hours after Pyongyang tested a new type of high-thrust rocket engine.

Trump made the comments to reporters as he departed his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, where he spent the weekend. Trump said administration officials had meetings over the weekend about North Korea, among other issues.

"Had meetings on North Korea. He's acting very, very badly. I will tell you, he's acting very badly," Trump said.

  alJazeera
...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Still Hasn't Had that BM





...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

UPDATE:  Aha!  This is what has his bowels in an uproar this morning.

500 Years of Distortion Fixed in Boston


When Boston public schools introduced a new standard map of the world this week, some young students’ felt their jaws drop. In an instant, their view of the world had changed.

The USA was small. Europe too had suddenly shrunk. Africa and South America appeared narrower but also much larger than usual. And what had happened to Alaska?

[...]

It is an “equal-area” map, distorting the shape of countries as a two-dimensional visualization of a three-dimensional globe but accurately scaling surface areas.

[...]

Individual schools in the US have used the Peters maps, Scott said, adding: “We believe we are the first public school district in the US to do this.”

[...]

“This is the start of a three-year effort to decolonize the curriculum in our public schools,” said Colin Rose, assistant superintendent of opportunity and achievement gaps for Boston public schools.

The district has 125 schools and 57,000 students, 86% of whom are non-white, with the largest groups being Latino and black. After changing the maps, Rose said, educators plan to look at other subjects and shift away from presenting white history as the dominant perspective.

[...]

 The decision, he said, was made internally and not put to public consultation.

  Guardian
Expect Westboro Baptists in your neighborhood.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

I should like to see an atlas based not on land mass, but on military funding. We'll be giants.

Not the Onion

Christopher Columbus Rides Again

Cholera, a waterborne bacterial scourge that can cause acute diarrhea and fatal dehydration if not treated quickly, has killed nearly 10,000 people and sickened nearly 800,000 in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country, since it was introduced there in 2010 by infected Nepalese members of a United Nations peacekeeping force. This year, as of late February, nearly 2,000 new cases had been reported, amounting to hundreds a week.

[...]

Studies have traced the highly contagious disease to sloppy sanitation that had leached fecal waste laced with cholera germs from latrines used by the Nepalese peacekeepers into the water supply.

[...]

When the leader of the United Nations [Ban Ki Moon] apologized to Haitians for the cholera epidemic [...] he proclaimed a “moral responsibility” to make things right.

[...]

Since then, however, the United Nations’ strategy to fight the epidemic, which it calls the “New Approach,” has failed to gain traction. A trust fund created to help finance the strategy has only about $2 million, according to the latest data on its website. Just six of the 193 member states — Britain, Chile, France, India, Liechtenstein and South Korea — have donated.

Other countries have provided additional sources of anti-cholera funding for Haiti outside the trust fund, most notably Canada, at about $4.6 million, and Japan, at $2.6 million, according to the United Nations. Nonetheless, the totals received are a fraction of what [was] envisioned.

[...]

[UN Secretary General António] Guterres has not stated publicly whether he intends to push for a mandatory assessment in the budget negotiations now underway at the United Nations. Privately, however, diplomats and United Nations officials said he had shelved the idea, partly because of strong resistance by some powerful members, including the United States.

[...]

Mr. Trump’s new United Nations ambassador, Nikki R. Haley, who has called the cholera crisis “nothing short of devastating,” did not respond to requests for comment about the funding problem. But in her Senate confirmation testimony in January, Ms. Haley said, “We’re going to have to make this right with Haiti, without question, and the U.N. is going to have to take responsibility.”

[...]

The fund-raising effort has been further complicated by the Trump administration’s intention to cut spending on foreign aid.

  NYT
Making it a little harder to "make this right."

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

He's Not Done Yet

Something is obviously stuck in his craw this morning.  Or maybe he's not had his bowel movement.





...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

UPDATE 8:19

Still hasn't had that BM


UPDATE 10:20

This is what has his bowels in an uproar this morning.

Overtime for Arkansas Correctional Institute

The state government of Arkansas plans to execute eight men over a period of 10 days in April because one of the key drugs in their lethal injection protocol is set to expire at the end of the month.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson set the dates between April 17 and 27 and will require the state's department of corrections to execute two men per day with a few days between each lethal injection.

  NBC
That'll tie Arkansas with Texas for the number of people executed in one month. But they beat that state out by doing it in only ten days. Arkansas tops the charts at last.
No state has used this particular "cocktail" of drugs to execute two in one day, either.
Two time winner.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Good Lord, What's Fox News Airing This Morning?







...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

UPDATE 7:35 am

Something is up his butt or stuck in his craw this morning, for sure...


UPDATE 8:20 am

Still hasn't had his morning BM


UPDATE 10:20

This is what has his bowels in an uproar this morning.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

There Goes Another Ally

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson denied reports in South Korean media outlets that he did not dine with the country's officials due to "fatigue" on a leg of his Asia trip, according to an interview published Saturday.

"They never invited us for dinner, then at the last minute they realized that optically it wasn’t playing very well in public for them, so they put out a statement that we didn’t have dinner because I was tired," Tillerson told Independent Journal Review's Erin McPike.

[...]

"The host country decides whether we are going to do things or not," Tillerson told McPike. "We didn’t decide that."

[...]

Tillerson also cited a transitional government in Seoul — following the recent impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye — as a reason for lesser contact with officials there.

  Politico
...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Council for National Policy

Longtime Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Bannon, [...] have been members of the secretive Council for National Policy (CNP).

[...]

The CNP is an intensely secretive and shadowy group of what The New York Times once described as “the most powerful conservatives in the country.” It is so tight-lipped that it tells people not to admit their membership or even name the group. Revealing when or where the group meets, or what it discusses, is also forbidden. The organization, which can only be joined by invitation and at a cost of thousands of dollars, strives mightily to keep its membership rolls secret.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which publishes Hatewatch, obtained a copy this spring of the CNP’s 2014 membership directory, a closely held document. It shows that Conway was a member of the CNP’s executive committee that year, and that Bannon was a regular member. It is not known if they remain.

[...]

The CNP is not controversial so much for the conservatives who dominate it [...] as for the many real extremists who are included.

They include people like Michael Peroutka, a neo-Confederate who for years was on the board of the white supremacist League of the South; Jerome Corsi, a strident Obama “birther” and the propagandist hit man responsible for the “Swift boating” of John Kerry; Joseph Farah, who runs the wildly conspiracist “news” operation known as WorldNetDaily; Mat Staver, the Liberty Counsel leader who has worked to re-criminalize gay sex..."

  Southern Poverty Law Center
...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Transgender Youth Project


Somebody in Phoenix Doesn't Like the Donald

Somebody with money.



That somebody is Beatrice Moore, who owns this billboard sign.  She says it will stay up as long as Trump is president.  I hope she also has enough money to deal with a lawsuit.

..but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

How Would He Know?

He gets his information from the TV.
Donald Trump said on Saturday that Germany owed “vast sums of money” to Nato and the US, even though the alliance does not stipulate payments to America.

[...]

Trump, who was at his Mar-a-Lago estate for the weekend and spending the morning at Trump International Golf Course.

  Guardian
Speaking of owing money...how much does it cost the US government to follow T-Rump around Mar-a-Lago every weekend?
Ultimately, members’ contributions are based on each nation’s capability. Therefore, Nato member nations do not “owe” or have to compensate any other country.

[...]

Trump’s tweets on Saturday suggested a misunderstanding of the way Nato is funded. According to Nato’s official guidelines, member nations are expected to spend at least 2% of their country’s gross domestic product (GDP) on defense. However, only a handful of the 28 members actually meet that target.

At a 2014 summit in Wales, members pledged to increase their military spending to 2% of GDP by 2024, a goal some have said is unachievable and unrealistic for several member states.

[...]

On Saturday Ivo Daalder, who was permanent representative to Nato from 2009 to 2013, respond to Trump in a series of tweets.

“Sorry, Mr President, that’s not how Nato works,” he wrote. “The US decides for itself how much it contributes to defending Nato. This is not a financial transaction, where Nato countries pay the US to defend them. It is part of our treaty commitment.

“All Nato countries, including Germany, have committed to spend 2% of GDP on defense by 2024. So far five of 28 Nato countries do. Those who currently don’t spend 2% of their GDP on defense are now increasing their defense budgets."

[...]

Daalder added that the “large military commitment” of the US to Nato was “not a favor to Europe” but was “vital for our own security”.

“We fought two world wars in Europe, and one cold war,” he wrote. “Keeping Europe whole, free, and at peace, is vital US interest.”

[...]

In [a Feb. 17] interview with the New York Times editorial board, Trump implied that US defense of a Nato ally would depend on whether the country was contributing proportionally to the alliance’s defense spending. Asked whether the US would provide military defense to Baltic countries if Russia were to attack, Trump said: “If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes.”
...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

It's Sunday


And, FYI...



Saturday, March 18, 2017

Jesus, Indeed


Heating Up a Cold War

The first of 800 UK troops being sent to bolster Nato defences in the Baltic have arrived in Estonia.

[...]

British Challenger 2 tanks, AS90 self-propelled guns, and armoured vehicles are en route to Estonia, having been loaded on to a ferry in Germany and will arrive next week.

[...]

The 120 soldiers from the 5th Battalion The Rifles will set up a UK headquarters in the country before the remaining troops arrive in April.

The defence secretary said they would deter "Russian aggression".

  BBC
They don't really think that's what it will do, do they?
Captain Gav Dunlop said that he felt the troops were trained for every eventuality.

He added: "There's obviously a credible threat just over the border but I think we're a credible deterrent so it just brings everything more to life."
Odd choice of words.
Russia has described the positioning of Nato forces near its border as a threat.
I have to say at this point, I agree with them.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

He's Seen the Morning's News








...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

UPDATE: That's not how NATO works.

Grooming Ivanka




Ivanka Trump called in the big guns ahead of her meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany on Friday, with the First Daughter's glam squad spotted arriving at her $5.5million DC mansion early that morning.

This time around Ivanka decided to try something new, opting for minimal looking make-up and a half-up/half-down coif that was the perfect blend of volume up top and bouncy curls below. Ivanka also went with a very conservative look for the meeting, choosing a dark blue dress that had long sleeves and a turtleneck.

She livened up the dress a bit by pinning a giant US flag over her heart, while also wearing a pair of starfish stud earrings from Tiffany & Co. - just days after the news broke that her company would be ending the production of her fine jewelry collection.

  Daily Mail

Looking for your first female president?

I missed that bit about Tiffany's cancelling Ivanka jewelry.  Why hasn't T-Rump tweeted about it?

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Criticize Israel at Your Own Risk

The head of the United Nations' West Asia commission, Rima Khalaf, has resigned over what she described as the pressure to withdraw a report that was critical of Israel.

The report accused Israel of imposing an apartheid regime on Palestinians. Lebanon-based Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), which comprises 18 Arab states, published the report on Wednesday and said it was the first time a UN body had clearly made the charge.

[...]

"The secretary-general issued his orders to me yesterday morning to withdraw the report. I asked him to review his position, but he insisted," she said. "Therefore, I submitted to him my resignation from the UN."

[...]

A UN spokesman on Friday claimed the issue with Khalaf was not the content of the report but as a result of her failure to follow the necessary procedure before the publication.

"This is not about content, this is about process," said UN chief Antonio Guterres' spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

  alJazeera
Right. Which is why she resigned rather than "follow the necessary procedure."
In fact, most news organisations were invited to the press conference that was held around 24 hours ago where this report was released and members of the media were also given an embargoed advance look at this report.

So it is very curious that the UN is now saying that the official procedures hadn't been followed, that they were not aware of the language inside the report, when even many in the media were aware of its publication and its contents.

Donnie and the Chancellor



A picture worth a thousand words.
Merkel, who addressed the media through an interpreter, said: “It’s always better to talk to one another than about one another.”

[...]

A German journalist challenged Trump over his potential to weaken the EU and his criticism of “fake news” in the media. Trump said sarcastically: “Nice, friendly reporter.”

[Merkel] acknowledged that immigration and integration “have to be worked on” and said refugees should be given the opportunity to “shape their lives where they are”. These were issues that she and Trump had an “exchange of views” about, she added. Trump cut back in to say: “All I want is fairness. Germany’s done very well in its trade deals with the United States and I give them credit for it.”

  Guardian
Trump code for: They have been screwing us.
[H]e said Nafta has been a “disaster” for the US and promised: “We are going to be a very different country. We’re going to have great values … Our trade deals are going to be good solid deals, not deals that lead to closing plants and tremendous unemployment.”

[...]

Throughout his campaign, the US president had criticised the German leader’s handling of the refugee crisis, saying her behaviour was “insane” and that she was “ruining Germany”.

[...]

[T]here was an awkward moment in the Oval Office before the press conference when the two leaders sat for photographers, who shouted a request for them to shake hands.

Merkel turned to Trump and asked: “Do you want to have a handshake?” The president ignored her and kept looking straight ahead, his hands clasped together.
I guess not.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

What's Good for the Goose


Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) on Thursday said Congress needs to consider whether Russia's cyber campaign during the U.S. presidential election was an act of war.

  The Hill
Does she want it to be?

Dems working our way to warm up a cold war with Russia because they lost the election.

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Friday, March 17, 2017

More Making America Great Again

Days after a report on federal student loans revealed a double-digit rise in defaults, President Trump’s administration revoked federal guidance Thursday that barred student debt collectors from charging high fees on past-due loans.

The Education Department is ordering guarantee agencies that collect on defaulted debt to disregard a memo former President Barack Obama’s administration issued on the old bank-based federal lending program, known as the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. That memo forbid the agencies from charging fees for up to 16 percent of the principal and accrued interest owed on the loans, if the borrower entered the government’s loan rehabilitation program within 60 days of default.

[...]

The action does not affect any borrowers whose loans are held by the Education Department, according to the department. It could, however, impact nearly 7 million people with $162 billion in FFEL loans held by guarantee agencies.

  WaPo
Let's ask Jason Chaffetz: They should have bought an iPhone instead of an education?

...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.

Trump Is in a Contest with Brazil's Temer

To see who can have the most corrupt cabinet.
Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was removed from his post by the Trump administration last week, was overseeing an investigation into stock trades made by the president’s health secretary, according to a person familiar with the office.

Tom Price, head of the Department of Health and Human Services, came under scrutiny during his confirmation hearings for investments he made while serving in Congress. The Georgia lawmaker traded hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of shares in health-related companies, even as he voted on and sponsored legislation affecting the industry.

[...]

In December, the Wall Street Journal reported that Price traded more than $300,000 worth of shares in health companies over a recent four-year period, while taking actions that could have affected those companies.

[...]

Another transaction that drew scrutiny was a 2016 purchase of between $1,001 and $15,000 in shares of medical device manufacturer Zimmer Biomet. CNN reported that days after Price bought the stock, he introduced legislation to delay a regulation that would have hurt Zimmer Biomet.

[...]

Bharara was one of 46 U.S. attorneys asked to resign after Trump took office. It is standard for new presidents to replace those officials with their own appointees. But Bharara’s firing came as a surprise because the president had met with him at Trump Tower soon after the election. As he left that meeting, Bharara told reporters Trump asked if he would be prepared to remain in his post, and said that he had agreed to stay on.

  Pro Publica
And then....

T-Rump Very Troubling - No End in Sight

In late January President Trump requested a new plan from the US military to tackle ISIL, in which he called for “recommended changes to any United States rules of engagement and other United States policy restrictions that exceed the requirements of International law regarding the use of force against ISIS.”

[...]

“From what we’ve seen publicly, this administration is still finding its footing, and we don’t yet know exactly how it will respond to incidents of civilian harm,” Marla Keenan, senior director of programs at the Center for Civilians in Conflict told Airwars. Keenan added that it may be difficult to know if and when policy guidelines are officially changed. But President Trump – who during the campaign promised to “bomb the shit” out of ISIL – has indicated a willingness to escalate US airstrikes around the world, including most recently in Yemen, where the US launched more than 40 attacks in a five day period.

[...]

“The question that’s out there is to what extent has any relaxation of rules of engagement or restrictions based on civcas been put in place by the new administration,” they added. “I don’t know – clearly we have reporting on an increase in civcas [in Iraq and Syria]. To some extent that’s going to be driven by high-op tempo in urban areas – but the US also has a very long history of doing that kind of stuff very well in Afghanistan with minimal civilian casualties – so it begs the question, what is different?”

There are signs elsewhere – in the US’s unilateral campaign against alleged al Qaeda linked targets in Syria – that a higher tolerance for civilian casualties may be emerging. As Airwars first reported on March 16th, US aircraft bombed what was described as an al Qaeda “meeting place” – adjacent to what officials knew to be a mosque in rural western Aleppo. At least 42 people, mostly civilians, were killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Parts of the mosque were also destroyed.

[...]

In a letter dated March 10th more than 30 former US officials wrote to US Defense Secretary Mattis, encouraging him to ensure continued civilian protections similar to those set out by the Obama administration.

[...]

Initial data for March provides further evidence that civilian casualty allegations are both becoming more common under President Trump, and are likely to outrun Coalition efforts to track and investigate them.

  Airwars
...but hey, do what you want...you will anyway.