Friday, March 31, 2017

So Now She Has a Problem with It

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

The New Yorker Artist Noticed, Too

Curiouser and Curiouser

This week it emerged that [House Intel Committee Chair Devin] Nunes had met his whistleblowers on the grounds of the White House. [...] Today [Thursday, March 30] we learned definitively that the whole performance was a charade.

The intelligence chairman’s sources, according to the New York Times, were a pair of Trump appointees: Ezra Cohen-Watnick, formerly of the Defense Intelligence Agency and now senior director for intelligence at the National Security Council, and Michael Ellis, an assistant White House counsel for national security affairs.


If the Times report is accurate, there seem to be two significant breaches of the rules governing classified information.


Three named officials—two Trump appointees and arguably his leading defender on the Hill—appear to have engaged in precisely the behavior that the president describes as the true national security threat posed by the Russia debate. Secrecy regulations, including SF312, the Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement, do not permit Ellis and Cohen-Watnick to distribute sensitive compartmented information through a back channel to Nunes.


That is the first apparent breach of secrecy rules. The second, of course, is the impromptu Nunes news conference. There is no unclassified way to speak in public about the identity of a target or an “incidentally collected” communicant in a surveillance operation.

Two more questions raised today look even more serious to me. [...] Under the intelligence community’s “minimization” rules, names of American citizens and green card holders are normally removed and replaced with some variation of “[MINIMIZED U.S. PERSON].”


There are well-established procedures for the “customers” of an intelligence report to request that the names of Americans be unmasked entirely. The governing standard is supposed to be that the names are essential to understanding the meaning or significance of the report.


If Nunes saw reports that named Trump or his associates, as he said, the initiative for naming names did not come from the originating intelligence agency. That is not how the process works. The names could only have been unmasked if the customers—who seem in this case to have been Trump’s White House appointees—made that request themselves. If anyone breached the president’s privacy, the perpetrators were working down the hall from him. (Okay, probably in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door.) It is of course hypocritical, even deceptive, for Nunes to lay that blame at the feet of intelligence officials, but that is not the central concern either.


[W]hy would a White House lawyer and the top White House intelligence adviser be requesting copies of these surveillance reports in the first place? Why would they go on to ask that the names be unmasked?

Were the president’s men using the surveillance assets of the U.S. government to track the FBI investigation from the outside?

  Barton Gellman
Hmmmmm.  How did they know there were any surveillance reports to ask that the names be revealed?  Did they just assume it because they knew of some Trump-Russia communications?  Did I miss something?

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

That's How You Answer That

Many Americans are understandably upset that state representatives voted against net neutrality, effectively allowing Internet Service Providers (like Time Warner Cable, Comcast, etc.) to sell our private data off to whichever company wants to buy it.


Perhaps they think, like NBC's Joy Reid, that they can hide their history by deleting it from their machines.

Alternatively, the browsers I use offer incognito browsing, but if you think that hides your history from your ISP provider or the website you visit, think again.  It doesn't.  It just keeps them out of the history your browser reports on your computer.  So, pretty much they hide your activity from your spouse.

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

WTF Is Up at State?

On his first three foreign trips, [Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson skipped visits with State Department employees and their families, embassy stops that were standard morale-boosters under other secretaries of state.


Many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly — or even make eye contact.


His distant management style has created growing bewilderment among foreign officials who are struggling to understand where the United States stands on key issues. It has sown mistrust among career employees at State, who swap paranoid stories about Tillerson that often turn out to be untrue. And it threatens to undermine the power and reach of the State Department, which has been targeted for a 30 percent funding cut in Trump’s budget.

Many have expressed alarm that Tillerson has not fought harder for the agency he now leads.

But surely they're not surprised. This is the entire Trump administration plan: put people in charge of agencies who don't want the agency to exist. That also seemed to be a George Bush II plan.
Tillerson remains the only Senate-confirmed official selected by Trump anywhere inside the State Department building. Weeks after the White House embarrassed Tillerson by rejecting the seasoned foreign policy hand he had selected for a deputy, Republican lawyer John J. Sullivan is the leading candidate. Sullivan held senior jobs in the George W. Bush administration but has no direct experience in the State Department.


Rep. Eliot L. Engel (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Tillerson called him after the proposed cuts were announced. Engel said Tillerson seemed to share Engel’s concern that the cuts are “draconian” and counterproductive. But Engel said Tillerson seemed to signal his acquiescence when he called them “a glide path to what was about to happen.”
But, ambassadors can't even make eye contact with him!? His orders or the Inflatable Rooster's?
Some diplomats have begun meeting with each other to swap notes on how to decipher the fledgling administration’s policies.


Tillerson’s political advisers have little foreign policy experience and little pull at the White House, current and former officials said. Their dealings with the department staff have sometimes been testy and unpleasant.


“We’re rowing against the current, and the current has a Twitter account,” a foreign diplomat posted in Washington said.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Trump Immigration Laws: No Exceptions

Trump's immigration/deportation policy is not only morally bereft, but puts many other people at risk. Consider this story of two surgeons from India who are about to be deported.
"There's been a technical error made here and our situation is completely an oversight, an error made in innocence," said Satija, wearing his surgical scrubs Thursday as he furiously juggled phone calls. "But taking me and Monika away from our patients right now jeopardizes so much for the citizens of this country. We understand we need to take care of this but that should allow them to give us some time."

Their lawyer, Gordan Quan, said the dilemma illustrates not only the black-and-white view the Trump administration has taken on immigration matters, but the harshness of the system, the complexity of which most Americans who urge legal immigration don't understand.

  Houston Chronicle
Read it and weep.

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

Venezuela Court Coup?

That's what all the Western media, needing socialist governments (and especially those with vast oil reserves) to be deemed dictatorships, would like us to believe.

As usual, it's not that simple.
Venzuela‘s Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) reported that it will begin a process of control that will define the limits of the immunity for the deputies of the nation’s National Assembly.


With the application of this ruling, the Supreme Court may annul any action of the National Assembly that violates Article 200 of the Constitution, which indicates that the deputies of the National Parliament “shall enjoy immunity in the exercise of their functions.”

Also, the ruling in question could lead to the prosecution of deputies for “treason to the mother country” in military courts, analysts report.


The Supreme Court argues that the actions of the deputies of the National Assembly violate the constitutional order and could create a state of commotion.

  PanAm Post
I don't doubt there are some serious social and political problems - even democratic ones - in Venezuela, but this sounds to me like a simple ruling of a nation's Supreme Court that it can step in when and if the nation's Congress or Parliament (in Venezuela's case, National Assembly) tries to enact something that the court deems unconstitutional.

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

 UPDATE 4/1:

 The court, at Maduro's request, reversed its decision.

The Russia Connection

The vast and pernicious sheer scale of electronic surveillance means there is no longer such a thing as secrecy, certainly for those close to power. Someone somewhere will be listening in. That is why fake news, that ancient phenomenon, is such a nonsense. A lie can barely go viral before being savaged by the bloodhounds of truth. For a foreign power, even an enemy, to dabble in someone’s election is hardly a surprise, least of all in the home city of the CIA. What is new is how quickly we all know about it.

It is clear – or surely soon will be - that dealings between the Trump organisation and Moscow were close. That is no surprise in the world of dodgy finance. What is not known is whether these dealings were merely over dodgy finance, or strayed into winks and nods over policies that might be adopted by Trump in power.

Vladimir Putin’s Russia is generally regarded as America’s mightiest enemy, however idiotic this might be.


The irony is that resetting the west’s relations with Putin’s Russia was one of Trump’s few refreshing pledges when he was running for the presidency. He refused to hurl the statutory abuse. He was clearly sceptical of western sanctions, which have strengthened Moscow’s kleptocracy and driven Putin’s potential opponents to emigrate. There even seemed a hope that the recent, crazy resumption of an east-west arms race might go into reverse. Sanity beckoned.

In vain.

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

Politics at Its Worst

The Inflatable Rooster's tweet yesterday about changing the libel laws to snag the New York Times was no doubt instigated by a reading of yesterday's NYT.
Last week, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Devin Nunes, announced dozens of intelligence reports that inappropriately included details on President Donald Trump's transition. This week, he told me that his source for that information was an intelligence official, not a White House staffer.

It turns out, he misled me. The New York Times reported Thursday that Nunes had two sources, and both worked for the White House.


By misrepresenting how he obtained information worthy of investigation he has handed his opposition the means to discredit it.


Nunes is leading a double investigation of sorts. His committee is probing ties between the Trump campaign and Russia's influence operation against the 2016 election. It's also looking into whether Barack Obama's White House inappropriately spied on Trump's transition.

The chairman told me Thursday that elements of the Times story were inaccurate. But he acknowledged: "I did use the White House to help to confirm what I already knew from other sources."

  Eli Lake @ Bloomberg
Other sources being inside the White House, too, perhaps. Or maybe just inside his head.
This is a body blow for Nunes, who presented his findings last week as if they were surprising to the White House. He briefed Trump, after holding a press conference on Capitol Hill.


The sources named by the Times work for the president. They are political appointees. It strains credulity to think that Trump would need Nunes to tell him about intelligence reports discovered by people who work in the White House.
Everyone and everything in and about this administration strains credulity. But there's another issue that makes this whole thing problematic.
Ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden disclosed top-secret documents to the Guardian and the Washington Post, civil liberties advocates, progressives and libertarians have raised alarms about the ability of U.S. eavesdroppers to circumvent the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. This is through what is known as "incidental collection," when a U.S. person is on the other end of a communication that is legally monitored by the U.S. government.

Until now, that issue has not had much traction in Congress. Republicans and Democrats -- with few exceptions -- have voted to reauthorize the law without making it harder to collect and disseminate the names of U.S. persons caught up in this surveillance.


[L]ike most government activities that are shrouded in secrecy, this snooping is prone to inevitable abuse.


The Wall Street Journal reported at the end of 2015 that members of Congress and American Jewish groups were caught up in this surveillance and that the reports were sent to the White House. This occurred during a bitter political fight over the Iran nuclear deal. In essence the Obama White House was learning about the strategy of its domestic political opposition through legal wiretaps of a foreign head of state and his aides.


Nunes has sought to investigate whether something similar happened with regard to the Trump transition. So far, he has not provided any evidence.


Now Nunes says he has seen intelligence reports that contained details about Trump's transition that were distributed widely inside the government, including to the White House.


The distribution of details about incidentally wiretapped Americans has certainly had political effects, and appears politically motivated.
Congress is expected to decide in the fall whether to reauthorize or amend the FISA law.
If we had a Congress.

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

Why Does Flynn Need Immunity?

Historic proportions. Bigger than Salem maybe.

Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, has offered to be interviewed by House and Senate investigators who are examining the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia in exchange for immunity from prosecution, according to his lawyer and a congressional official.

But the congressional official said investigators were unwilling to broker a deal with Mr. Flynn — who resigned last month for misleading White House officials about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the United States — until they are further along in their inquiries and they better understand what information Mr. Flynn might offer as part of a deal.


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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

XL Pipeline Lawsuit Filed Today

Environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Bold Alliance and the Sierra Club, filed suit against the federal government on March 30, seeking to stop the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The suit, filed in federal district court in Montana, where the pipeline will cross the U.S.-Canadian border, claims the State Dept. illegally approved a presidential permit on March 24 that will allow the 1,200-mile TransCanada pipeline to be built.


The lawsuit follows one filed March 27 by the Indigenous Environmental Network in the same court that also challenged the State Dept. permit.

Both suits claim the March 24 decision to proceed is deficient because it is based on old information — a 2014 supplemental environmental impact statement.


In addition to the court battles, TransCanada will have to win approval for the pipeline in Nebraska, where the $8-billion line doesn’t yet have an approved route. The state’s public service commission is expected to take until September to review a revised route. TransCanada submitted the revised route application in February. If approved, the pipeline operator would have to initiate eminent domain proceedings against the 10% of landowners who have refused to work with the company. An earlier court decision prohibits TransCanada from taking that action before September.


Jesus Christ

I missed this. Probably because I never listen to the Idiot, but I didn't see it printed either.

When Trump announced his permit to continue the TransCanada XL Pipeline, he said it this way:
Today I'm pleased to announce the official approval of the Presidential permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. It's gonna be    [pause]    an incredible pipeline     [pause]    greatest technology     [pause]     known to man     [pause]     or woman.
What an elegant orator.

Listen to Jeremy Scahill talk with Naomi Klein about the disaster of the Trump administration's policies on the environment.

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

UPDATE:  Lawsuits filed to stop the pipeline.

Trump's NYT Crusade Continues

Sure, why not?  Then we can cover your smears against Mexicans as rapists, among other shit that constantly comes out of that piehole of a blow tube that serves as your mouth.

UPDATE 3/31:

Aha. This must be what brought on that little fit:
Last week, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Devin Nunes, announced dozens of intelligence reports that inappropriately included details on President Donald Trump's transition. This week, he told me that his source for that information was an intelligence official, not a White House staffer.

It turns out, he misled me. The New York Times reported Thursday that Nunes had two sources, and both worked for the White House.


Human Rights Are So Overrated

Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has decided to lift all human rights conditions on a major sale of F-16 fighter jets and other arms to Bahrain in an effort to end a rift between the United States and a critical Middle East ally, according to administration and congressional officials involved in the debate.

Mr. Tillerson’s decision is likely to be welcomed by the Republican majority on Capitol Hill. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, said in an interview on Wednesday that he applauded the move to lift the human rights restrictions. He said arms sales should be decided by American strategic needs, and not be mixed with pressure on allies to change their domestic behavior.


Mr. Tillerson, the former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, has taken on much of the diplomacy with the Gulf Arab states himself, often bypassing American ambassadors and other American officials in the region. A Trump administration official said Mr. Tillerson knew many of the regional players from his time at Exxon Mobil.


Exxon Mobil has close connections with Qatar’s national oil company, and has joined with Doha to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on the Gulf of Mexico coast that is designed for importing gas and possibly for exporting it as well. As a result, the company had a strong interest in keeping the shipping lanes in the region open — for which cooperation with Bahrain is key.

At the core of the decision, however, is the Trump administration’s growing determination to find places to confront Iran for its activities in the region.

Which, of course, has nothing to do with American oil comopanies, right?

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

The Ever Brilliant JoyAnn Reid Advises Her Audience

If there's one thing Americans can be sure of, it's that we're easily and highly misinformed.

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


It's Sunday

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Never Ending Whine

But they can't because it's a secret?

"Foiled" Terror Attack in Garland, Texas

CBS' 60 Minutes conducted a revealing investigation of the supposed terror attack in Garland, Texas, May 2015. What they found will surprise only those who haven't been paying attention.

At least the program publicizes what the FBI has been doing to "prevent" terror attacks in the US.

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

Flint Water Lawsuit

A federal judge has approved an $87 million settlement requiring the state of Michigan to pay the city of Flint to identify and replace at least 18,000 unsafe water pipes running into homes and other properties by 2020.

Six thousand lines made of lead or galvanized steel will be replaced with copper piping by January 1, 2018. A further 6,000 lines are to be replaced in each of the following two years at no cost to homeowners.


The agreement doesn’t require door-to-door bottled water delivery, but residents will be able to call the city’s 211 number and receive free water deliveries within 24 hours.

I suspect there will be an appeal.

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

Whatever Happened to GOP's Devotion to States' Rights?

The US state of California is moving ahead with tough fuel standards, defying new White House policies.

Regulators in the state have voted to extend vehicle emission rules until the end of 2025.

Environmentalists hail the decision as a big win, but it may not last.

President Donald Trump is promising to cut regulations after car makers said they are unreasonable.

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

Who Could Have Guessed?

Presidential Immunity?

The president’s private attorneys made the case in a legal filing in New York this week intended to halt the litigation against Trump by by Summer Zervos, who sued Trump days before his 20 January inauguration. Zervos was one of more than a dozen women who came forward before the November election to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct following the release of a decade-old Access Hollywood recording in which Trump bragged about groping and kissing women without their consent.

Very interesting. Not a contesting of the claims, but a claim that you can't sue him because he's the president. And as he so inadvertently but clearly told the world, he can do whatever he wants to women.
Trump’s lawyers cited a 1997 supreme court ruling to say the lawsuit should be barred as it held the potential to distract the president from performing his public duties. The ruling in question, Clinton v Jones.


The supreme court ultimately ruled in that case that presidents are not immune from civil litigation while in office.
So why are they citing that case? Sounds like the opposite of what they want. Do they know what they're doing?
There were as many as 75 private lawsuits against Trump when he assumed the office of the presidency, according to an investigation in USA Today. A decision in Trump’s favor would thus have far-reaching consequences.
Jesus Christ. Seventy-five?

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

The Trump Wall

The government’s initial pre-solicitation notice for the border wall asked for 30ft-tall “concrete wall structures”, but when the request for proposals was published on 17 March, the scope was expanded to allow for “other” proposals. So while some companies will move ahead with reinforced concrete, others can put forward ideas for alternative materials.

All proposals must meet some baseline standards, including being “physically imposing in height” with “anti-climb” features and “aesthetically pleasing” color on the north side. Non-concrete walls are also required to have a “see-through component” to increase “situational awareness”.

Matt Kaye of Integrated Security Corporation plans to submit a proposal with a group of other companies that calls for two chain-link fences with a “no man’s land in between” and his company’s intrusion detection systems in place. Kaye described the concept as a “typical correctional type fence” (his company has contracted for federal, state and local prisons) and said it would be “far less expensive and far less intrusive” than a concrete wall.

So, how is that pleasing on the North side?
Steve Speakes, the president and CEO of Kalmar Rough Terrain Center, has an alternative idea for that physical barrier: shipping containers.


“That is a very reasonable way to build a wall,” he said, noting that there is a surplus of containers available now due to a slowdown in global commerce.
Sounds like a whole lot of ground leveling required.
Liz Derr, the founder and CEO of artificial intelligence company Simularity, is proposing an “invisible or virtual wall” that uses AI software to analyze satellite and surveillance imagery to identify unusual activities.
Which makes a whole lot more sense than a physical barrier.
Notably absent from the list of interested contractors are any of the large, multinational corporations that would probably have the capacity to carry out the 1,000-mile, $21bn project.

Such companies may be put off by toxic politics surrounding the project (62% of Americans oppose building the wall, according to a February poll by the Pew Research Center), and the difficult path to actually funding it. The lack of name-brand bidders and challenge of getting the wall through Congress have led some to speculate that the San Diego prototype pageant will be as far as the project ever gets.

“The wall was a campaign promise,” said Phil Ting, a state assembly member from California. “The administration is probably trying to do the absolute minimum to gain the maximum press. I can see why they’d want to cause the biggest possible splash, and then go quietly away.”
The Trump Doctrine.

We may have to build walls around individual states if we keep going this way.  Don't throw away your plans if you don't win the Trump Wall competition.
“We don’t want a single California cent going toward building this wall,” Ting said of the Resist the Wall Act, which would require the state’s two giant pension funds to divest from any companies that take part in building the wall. Ting compared the measure to the divestment campaigns against Apartheid South Africa.

Lawmakers in other states, including New York, Illinois and Arizona, have proposed barring any involved companies from receiving state contracts. The city of Berkeley, California, has already passed a boycott measure, and other municipalities are considering following suit.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

They're Finally Doing It

[UK prime minister Theresa May] took to her feet [in parliament] minutes after the European council president, Donald Tusk, confirmed that he had received notification, declaring that “the UK has delivered Brexit” nine months after a bruising referendum campaign.

“We understand that there will be consequences for the UK of leaving the EU. We know that we will lose influence over the rules that affect the European economy. We know that UK companies that trade with the EU will have to align with rules agreed by institutions of which we are no longer a part, just as we do in other overseas markets. We accept that,” she said.


“This is an historic moment from which there can be no turning back. Britain is leaving the European Union. We are going to make our own decisions and our own laws. We are going to take control of the things that matter most to us. And we are going to take this opportunity to build a stronger, fairer Britain – a country that our children and grandchildren are proud to call home.”


The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, responded by promising that the government would be “held to account at every stage of the negotiations”.


He promised to oppose any threats to turn Britain into a “low-wage tax haven”.


May was heckled when she declared that she would fight for the “liberal, democratic values of Europe.”

Maybe they can form a union with Trump's America.
The prime minister stressed her desire to strengthen the “union of the four nations” of the UK.
Possibly three by the end of the two years if Scotland's referendum takes them out of the UK. Maybe two if Northern Ireland doesn't settle back down.

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

Are They ALL Breitbart?

Out of solidarity.  Haha.

I'm calling bullshit.  If they all really don't go, it's because they don't want to lose their already tenuous chairs in the press room.

Pretty much the level of governance we're experiencing these days.

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

Can't Get It Out of His Mind

I'm not sure this crusade won't backfire. He only has so many rabid followers. Does he think he can single-handedly drive the New York Times out of business? Or does he realize only his rabids follow him on Twitter and, like the schoolyard bullies small cadre, he likes to show off for them and keep them feeding off his nastiness?

So insecure.  Get over it, man. You won.

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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

"Fake News"

Among the many horrible things that a Trump presidency is bringing to the world is his promotion of Fox News as being the only non-Fake News in America.  

That Was Quick

About 7 hours it was available apparently.

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

Jews Vs. Israeli Policy

The organization [Jewish Voice for Peace] doesn’t simply endorse boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel: it enthusiastically embraces the tactic, working actively to encourage its spread throughout the United States in a range of institutions. JVP’s local chapters advocate a full-on boycott of all Israeli bodies (commercial, cultural or academic) that, directly or indirectly, contribute to the ongoing occupation and oppression of Palestinians.

The organization also demands the cessation of U.S. military aid to Israel until the occupation ends.


When will it be okay for non-Jews to do these things without being labeled anti-Semitic?

And the Timing?

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

UPDATE:  They've pulled it again.

CrowdStrike's Revised Story

U.S. cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike has revised and retracted statements it used to buttress claims of Russian hacking during last year's American presidential election campaign. The shift followed a VOA report that the company misrepresented data published by an influential British think tank.


The company removed language that said Ukraine's artillery lost 80 percent of the Soviet-era D-30 howitzers, which used aiming software that purportedly was hacked. Instead, the revised report cites figures of 15 to 20 percent losses in combat operations, attributing the figures to IISS.


The company also removed language saying Ukraine's howitzers suffered "the highest percentage of loss of any ... artillery pieces in Ukraine's arsenal."


Finally, CrowdStrike deleted a statement saying "deployment of this malware-infected application may have contributed to the high-loss nature of this platform" — meaning the howitzers — and excised a link sourcing its IISS data to a blogger in Russia-occupied Crimea.


"This update does not in any way impact the core premise of the report that the FANCY BEAR threat actor implanted malware into a D-30 targeting application developed by a Ukrainian military officer," Dmitrova wrote.

It makes the whole report suspect, though, doesn't it?

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


Looks Like Scotland Will Be Getting That Do-Over

The Scottish Parliament has backed Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a second independence referendum, in a landmark vote that could see Scotland leave the UK.

This time, they'll be voting to break ties with England. Last time, it was to break ties with the EU. And...
An oil exploration company has hailed the “largest undeveloped discovery” of oil in UK waters, to the west of Shetland in Scotland. The find could influence the outcome of a second Scottish independence referendum.

Hurricane Energy said the discovery, from which an estimated 1 billion barrels could be extracted, is significantly larger than the average findings of 25 million barrels in recent years.

That seems like an easy call to make.
The news comes after oil prices plummeted to a three-month low, sparking questions over whether an independent Scotland could financially manage on its own if it chose to split from the UK.
Looks like they just got a boost. And sustainable energy just got another sock in the eye.

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

Mosul War Crimes

The recent spike in civilian casualties suggests the US-led coalition in Iraq is not taking adequate precautions to prevent civilian deaths as it battles Isis alongside Iraqi ground forces, according to a report by [Amnesty International] on Tuesday.

The coalition has acknowledged that the US military was behind an airstrike on 17 March that hit a western Mosul neighbourhood. Residents have said at least 150 civilians were killed. US officials have not confirmed that there were civilian casualties but have opened an investigation.


Amnesty International’s report quoted survivors and eyewitnesses of airstrikes that have killed civilians: “They did not try to flee as the battle got underway because they received repeated instructions from the Iraqi authorities to remain in their homes.”


Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response adviser at Amnesty International, said: “The fact that Iraqi authorities repeatedly advised civilians to remain at home, instead of fleeing the area, indicates that coalition forces should have known that these strikes were likely to result in a significant numbers of civilian casualties.


US investigators are also looking at the apparent bombing of a school in Mansura near Raqqa, Syria on 21 March, and a building next to a mosque on 16 March in Al-Jineh, in Aleppo province.


On Monday, Iraqi forces said they had launched new assaults in Mosul’s Old City after the high civilian death toll appeared to prompt a change in tactics.

Iraq’s federal police chief, Lieutenant General Raed Shakir Jawdat, said new advances, supported by air power, were being aided by “precise targeting of selected positions” provided by intelligence. “Our advance aim is to protect civilian lives, infrastructure and private properties,” he was quoted by state TV as saying.

  The Guardian
"I'm taking bids on that bridge," he may have added.

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

Pot Meet Kettle

What's on the front page today?

Oh, Oh...He's reading a New York Post column!

Terror Charges?

Not sure I get the terror charge. They added that to the first charge of a hate crime. Does it have to do with him wanting to kill black men, not a specific black man - even though he turned himself in after killing the one?  I didn't know that he turned himself in.  Seems like that would have some bearing on the charge.

Or was it the fact that he said he went to New York so it would get more media attention than in Baltimore? He also apparently told police his original plan was to kill someone in D.C.
James Harris Jackson, 28, spoke with a reporter for the Daily News at New York City's Rikers Island jail complex.

He said he envisioned a white woman thinking: "Well, if that guy feels so strongly about it, maybe I shouldn't do it."


In the interview, [saying he didn't know his victim was elderly] Jackson said in retrospect, he would rather have killed "a young thug" or "a successful older black man with blondes ... people you see in Midtown. These younger guys that put white girls on the wrong path."


"The white race is being eroded. ... No one cares about you. The Chinese don't care about you, the blacks don't care about you," he said.

Seems a little far afield from terrorism. Seems like insanity.
Jackson, who was raised in what was described as a churchgoing, liberal family in a Baltimore suburb, said his ideal society is "1950s America."
Make America Great Again.

Perhaps there's more he told the police that they didn't reveal to the public about his motives.
Jackson, 28, faces a sentence of mandatory life in prison without parole if prosecutors are able to convince jurors that he murdered Caughman as an act of terrorism — with intent to coerce a civilian population, influence government policy through coercion and affect the conduct of a unit of government.

He would face a minimum of 20 years to life if convicted of murder as a hate crime without that enhancement, the district attorney’s office said, and was also charged with three misdemeanor counts of criminal possession of a weapon.


“James Jackson prowled the streets of New York for three days in search of a black person to assassinate in order to launch a campaign of terrorism against our Manhattan community and the values we celebrate,” Vance said.

Intent to influence government policy seems closer to a terrorism charge.  What "unit of government" are they talking about?

Or maybe the intent to kill blacks is now going to be seen as terrorism. I'm not arguing it shouldm't be. Just wondering if this is going to change all hate crime charges.

I'm sure this will get lots of discussion, and we'll see how the charges stick when he's tried.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer sidestepped questions Monday over the murder of Timothy Caughman, using questions over the heinous slaying to defend people on “the right” he said were blamed too quickly for a recent wave of anti-Semitic threats.

Just hours before James Jackson was charged with murder as an act of terrorism for fatally stabbing Caughman in Midtown, Spicer was asked during his daily press briefing Monday to condemn the race-driven attack and speak about the rise of hate crimes that has beset the nation in recent months.


Instead, Spicer dodged and weaved, claiming that President Trump “wanted to unite the country,” citing the commander-in-chief’s recent sitdown with the Congressional Black Caucus, and stating broadly that “hate crimes and anti-Semitic crimes of any nature should be called out.”


He then launched into a diatribe against the media for “immediately jumping” on “people on the right” regarding a wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers.

  NY Daily News
Why, no, this administration is not racist, why do you ask?

Do Not Worry

Hmmm....I think they just got one.

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

Monday, March 27, 2017

He's Still Not Dead

In a wide-ranging speech at the Economic Times' Global Business Summit, former US Vice President Dick Cheney spoke unequivocally about Russia's meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Cheney cited a "rising number of threats" in the world that beyond national security, "even pose a threat to the globalization movements you're here to talk about today."


"There's no question that there was a very serious effort made by Mr. Putin and his government, his organization, to interfere in major ways with our basic fundamental democratic processes," said Cheney. "In some quarters that could be considered an act of war."

  Business Insider
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Dire Straits in Yemen

What we are providing them is air strikes.

Trump Charge: Deport Those Criminals!

March 26, 2017 - Early this morning Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents picked up Francisco J. Rodriguez Dominguez without a warrant at his home in southeast Portland. Rodriguez Dominguez, 25, has been part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program since 2013.


Rodriguez Dominguez arrived in the United States at the age of five from Morelia Michoacan, Mexico. He has lived in the Portland metro area since then.


Rodriguez Dominguez works for Latino Network, a community organization, where he coordinates a food pantry for low income families at Reynolds Middle School in partnership with the Oregon Food Bank and Multnomah County SUN Community Schools initiative. He also coaches a soccer team at Glenfair Elementary.


Dominguez Rodriguez is an active member and volunteer at Holy Cross Episcopal Church where he provides IT support and works on communications for the church.


In December 2016, Francisco entered into a DUI diversion program. He quickly completed nearly all of the requirements of this program, attended all his court dates and required meetings.

“Despite Francisco’s best efforts to make good on his mistake, ICE has taken the position that even a misdemeanor DUI eligible for diversion is enough to end DACA status.


"A judge had already determined that he wasn’t a danger to the community or a flight risk. So, why is ICE showing up at his house early on Sunday morning?"


[F]amilies can call the Portland Immigrant Rights Coalition hotline at (888) 622-1510 or the ACLU of Oregon immigration hotline at (971) 412-2258 if they encounter ICE agents.


“If ICE shows up at your door without a warrant signed by a judge, you don’t have to open it to answer questions. If ICE claims to have a warrant, you should ask agents to slip it under the door or hold it up to a window.”


[G]roups are calling on ICE to release Rodriguez Dominguez and have asked community members to call ICE on his behalf at (503) 326-3302.

Deinitely don't want a dangerous man like this inside our borders.

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

Gasoline on the Flames

US Vice President Mike Pence has confirmed that Donald Trump is thinking about moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

"The US will no longer allow the UN to be used as a forum for invective against Israel or the West,” the vice president added.

Hmmmm...that sounds like a threat.

Still, I wouldn't count on Trump actually doing everything he claims he's going to do.  And if he's only "thinking about it" - he gets easily distracted.
In July of 1980, Israel passed a law that declared Jerusalem the united capital of Israel. The United Nations Security Council responded with a resolution condemning Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem and declared it a violation of international law.


In 2006, Costa Rica and El Salvador were the last to move their embassies out of Jerusalem, joining the rest of the world in locating their embassies in Tel Aviv.


The US has never had its embassy in Jerusalem. It has always been in Tel Aviv.


In 1989, Israel began leasing to the US a plot of land in Jerusalem for a new embassy. The 99-year lease cost $1 per year. To this day, the plot has not been developed, and it remains an empty field.

In 1995, the US Congress passed a law requiring America to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Proponents said the US should respect Israel's choice of Jerusalem as its capital, and recognize it as such.

Every president since 1995 -- Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama -- has declined to move the embassy, citing national security interests.

Not that it would be a good idea, but if Congress passed the law...WTF? I would think Trump would be more adamant about moving the embassy, citing the law as reason.
If the United States moved the embassy to Jerusalem, it would mean that the US effectively recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. That would overturn 70 years of international consensus, and, many argue, would effectively signal the end of moves to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians.


Palestinian leaders are adamant that an embassy move to Jerusalem would be a violation of international law, and a huge setback to peace hopes. President Mahmoud Abbas has turned to other world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Jordan's King Abdullah, to help pressure Trump to change his mind.
Well, that complicates things for the Trumpster, doesn't it?  Not that he ever seems to be bothered about details and complications.

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

What Climate Change?

You never hear anything about it on the news, so it must not be real.
Media Matters for America has published its annual review of American evening newscast climate coverage for 2016, and the results are stunning:
In 2016, evening newscasts and Sunday shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as Fox Broadcast Co.’s Fox News Sunday, collectively decreased their total coverage of climate change by 66 percent compared to 2015
In all of 2016, these news programs spent a combined grand total of 50 minutes talking about climate change. More than half of that come from CBS Evening News, which nevertheless only spent half as much time talking about climate change in 2016 as it had in 2015.

It’s certainly not as though 2016 lacked newsworthy climate stories. We learned in January that 2015 had smashed the record for hottest year, previously set just a year earlier. And 2016 just kept getting hotter, with nearly every month setting a new heat record. In September, the US and China agreed to formally ratify the Paris climate agreement. The list goes on and on, with newspapers like The Guardian constantly publishing important climate-related news throughout the year.


Unfortunately, climate change was rarely raised in the primary debates, and never in the general election debates.


Only after the election did news networks finally examine what a President Trump would mean for the Earth’s climate.

And it's not good. It's good for corporations who don't want environmental regulations in their way, though.
With so little news coverage on the subject, it’s also unsurprising how confused Americans are about climate change – just 49% of Americans realize that most scientists think global warming is happening, and only 53% understand that humans are causing the problem.


PBS was the oasis in this desert of climate news coverage. PBS NewsHour was the only show that examined what impact a Trump or a Clinton presidency would have on climate-related issues and policies before the election.
Of course, the proposed Trump budget cuts funding for PBS.

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

Same Old Story

New Jersey real estate developer Charles Kushner had pledged $2.5 million to Harvard University in 1998, not long before his son Jared was admitted to the prestigious Ivy League school. At the time, Harvard accepted about one of every nine applicants. (Nowadays, it only takes one out of twenty.)

I also quoted administrators at Jared’s high school, who described him as a less than stellar student and expressed dismay at Harvard’s decision.

“There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,” a former official at The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey, told me. “His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.”

Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for Kushner Companies, said in an email Thursday that “the allegation” that Charles Kushner’s gift to Harvard was related to Jared’s admission “is and always has been false.”

Of course. And I imagine Harvard keeps track of uber wealthy families with children who are about to graduate high school for its donation drive purposes.  The old two-way street.  This will never change.

You know damn well the GOP is going to run Ivanka Trump for president in the near future.  And THEY'LL have the first woman president.

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

But Without the Outrage

Not just officials, but one presidential candidate after another.

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

Good Material for His Comedy Routine

So, forget about that Trumpcare fail.

But wait - you mean, whatever General Kelly is doing at the border is enough?  Will he next be saying we don't actually need a wall?

Funny, but the couple of pundits/TV commentators (including Newt Gingrich on the whole three minutes of Sunday Fox I could stand) that I read/saw yesterday were saying that now what he needs to do to move on from the health care bill is pivot toward the border wall and taking on ISIS - things he can actually do.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Good On Them

On Sunday, hundreds of mostly young, American Jews rallied in Washington, D.C., during the first day of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee 2017 Convention, to protest the expansion of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“We’re protesting [AIPAC] en masse as Jews to say that to be Jewish in America at this moment doesn’t mean to support Israel unconditionally,” said 25-year-old Yonah Lieberman, one of the co-founders of the anti-settlement group IfNotNow, which spearheaded the protest in Washington D.C.

Lieberman described Sunday’s march as “the biggest ever Jewish-led protest of AIPAC.”


Try, Try Again

In the wake of the Republican failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act on Friday, leading figures in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party are rallying behind a single-payer health insurance and a raft of other bold reforms.

These lawmakers and grassroots leaders have long believed that the problems plaguing the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, are rooted in the original health care law’s attempt to accommodate, rather than gradually replace, the private, for-profit health insurance system.

“We have got to have the guts to take on the insurance companies and the drug companies and move forward toward a ‘Medicare for all,’ single-payer program,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on MSNBC’s “All In with Chris Hayes” on Friday night. “And I’ll be introducing legislation shortly to do that.” Sanders added on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that he would “absolutely” seek President Donald Trump’s cooperation on expanding Medicare and lowering prescription drug prices.


Notwithstanding the support of the influential groups for the proposal and ― according to a May 2016 Gallup poll ― even a majority of the American people, Medicare-for-all legislation is a non-starter in the current Congress. Single-payer health insurance still lacks support from many, if not most, Democrats, let alone from the Republican lawmakers who control both chambers.


In the meantime, [...] by adopting a position that is considered extreme by contemporary standards, politicians and activists can make more attainable policy goals start to seem reasonable by comparison.

That phenomenon already seems to be working in progressives’ favor.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), the only one of Sanders’ Senate colleagues to endorse his presidential bid, discussed the possibility of lowering the Medicare eligibility age or empowering Medicare to negotiate drug prices in his statement on the Republican bill’s collapse.


“There are plenty of ideas already on the table that would make health care more affordable for working families, from a public option, to prescription drug negotiations, to offering older Americans the chance to buy into Medicare,” Merkley said on Friday. “I’m happy to work with anyone, from either side of the aisle, to explore these or any other ideas that would improve health care for working Americans.”
Wouldn't it be nice to see Congress go into a budget huddle thinking about what programs to cut back and what taxes to levy in order to make sure every American has good health care, a good education, and a place to live?

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

How Sanctions Work

Iran has announced sanctions against 15 American companies, alleging they support terrorism, repression and Israel's occupation of Palestine, in retaliation for sanctions earlier announced by the US.

A Foreign Ministry statement carried by the state-run IRNA news agency on Sunday said the sanctions barred companies from any agreements with Iranian firms, and that former and current directors would not be eligible for visas into Iran.

It also said any of the company's assets in Iran could be seized.

  al Jazeera
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Uber Trouble

Uber has suspended its fleet of self-driving cars while it investigates a crash in Arizona involving one of its vehicles.

Photographs posted online show the car lying on its side next to another badly damaged vehicle. There were no serious injuries as a result of the incident.

The Uber Technologies car – a Volvo SUV – was carrying two engineers in the front and no backseat passengers but it is not yet clear whether the car was in self-driving mode at the time of the crash.

The incident is the latest blow for the car-hailing app which has been left reeling by a series of setbacks in recent weeks including the departure of its president, Jeff Jones.

Initial police reports suggest the collision was caused by a person who failed to give way to the self-driving car rather than a malfunction by the Uber vehicle.
Isn't that what a self-driving car is supposed to avoid?

And what's this with a self-driving fleet? Wasn't Uber supposed to be the Great White Hope of jobs providers?

And, just wondering, but how many accidents will self-driving cars be allowed? Surely we're not expecting them to have none. Shouldn't it be determined by a comparison to person-driven vehicle accidents?

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

Ohhhh, Somebody's Unhappy

Smiling Democrats are the worst kind, aren't they?

NRDC Anti-Pipeline Pledge

Click here

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

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Just Keep Your Focus on Him

No, I don't know where "all of the Trump Rallies" were today.

I Think He Means Implode

A bit of a comedown from "I'm going to take care of everybody" by repealing and replacing Obamacare with something so wonderful you won't even believe how good it is.  You're going to be begging him to please stop because you can't take any more greatness.  You're gonna get tired of winning.

And now he's advertising Fox shows. Is that allowed?

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


Should companies like Comcast be able to sell your internet browsing history without your permission? Most Americans would say “no,” yet the Senate voted to allow just that.

A resolution, passed by a thin margin of 50-48 in the Senate, could overturn rules developed by the Federal Communications Commission last year, which required most internet service providers (ISPs) to get your consent before using and selling your web browsing history and other sensitive data. The resolution also prohibits the FCC from issuing rules that are substantially the same in the future.
The House still has to vote.  Don't pin all your hopes on them.

And in related news...
Broadband industry lobby groups are celebrating a Federal Communications Commission decision to prevent enforcement of a rule intended to protect customers' private data from security breaches.

The data security rule that was scheduled to take effect today [March 2] would have required ISPs and phone companies to take "reasonable" steps to protect customers' information—such as Social Security numbers, financial and health information, and Web browsing data—from theft and data breaches. The FCC issued a stay of the rule yesterday, and Chairman Ajit Pai said he wants to shift authority over data security and privacy entirely to the Federal Trade Commission.


ISPs and the FCC's Republican members have consistently argued that broadband providers should not face stricter rules than website operators like Google and Facebook, which are regulated separately by the FTC.


Internet users would be confused by having two different sets of rules for ISPs and website providers, they argued.

  Ars Technica
No they wouldn't, because most users have no idea what the rules are for either. They just log on and drive.  And by now, surely most understand that they really don't have privacy online unless they take their own specific measures to ensure it with complex software programs.
The data security rule that was prevented from taking effect today said that telecommunications providers "must take reasonable measures to protect customer PI [proprietary information] from unauthorized use, disclosure, or access." Instead of requiring specific data security practices, the FCC rule would have let each ISP choose how to protect customer data.
And THAT's the weakness of the rule.
The most well-known portion of the privacy order requires ISPs to get opt-in consent from consumers before sharing Web browsing data and other private information with advertisers and other third parties. The opt-in rule is supposed to take effect December 4, 2017, but doesn't seem likely to survive long enough to be implemented.
And you think we consumers are not already confused?

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