Nel's New Day

August 9, 2019

DDT: Week 133 – All about Him

Although Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tried to hide his “performance” during the trips to Dayton and El Paso this past week, leaks continue. On Air Force One, he shouted at aides because he claimed they didn’t defend him, and he ranted about how much larger his audience in El Paso was than the protest one with “crazy” (DDT’s word) Beto O’Rourke. DDT lied about the rally which he hasn’t paid for–$569,204.63—when O’Rourke was followed by thousands of people. And the rally when he falsely claimed that he needed the wall because El Paso’s crime rate is so high. In fact, the crime rate in the city is less than half of the national average, and the annual homicide rate has been less than the number killed by a young white supremacist from the Houston area last weekend. 

DDT insisted that an infant, whose parents were both killed by the El Paso murderer, be brought back to the hospital for a photo op. Note DDT’s happy thumbs up in the shot. The orphan’s fingers were broken when the mother tried to protect him from the shooter. 

Staffers agreed with the public that DDT’s Wednesday visits were not successful because he spend his time attacking local officials. Although DDT gave a positive front about his day, he was furious with the results behind the scenes.

DDT said later that the shooter was a coward because he surrendered and “just gave up.” Among those confused about his statement was the one who asked if DDT wanted to “encourage the next right-wing terrorist to increase the body count and not be taken alive.”

This  article describes AG Bill Barr’s blood-curdling ideology in his equating the concept of justice with vigilante revenge when he talks about the satisfaction people find in movies such as Death Wish and Dirty Harry. The plots revolve around a “hero” executing petty thieves in New York and another “hero” torturing a serial killer. Barr follows DDT’s statement that “we need quick justice and we need strong justice,” which is actually revenge. The figure representing justice is blindfolded to illustrate that the system should be based on facts and evidence but Barr follows DDT’s need to judge everything on feelings. Revenge comes from the belief that violence is the only response to feeling powerless. The criminal justice process, however, follows accurate identification of responsible individuals, fair adjudication, retribution, deterrence, rehabilitation, and restoration. For that reason, justice protects people who are innocent until proved guilty, again requiring rules and limitations—several of them in the Bill of Rights. Barr’s open support of operating outside the law follows the actions of his boss.

Barr may be trying to keep DDT’s financial documents from Congress, but the banks—including Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America—are turning them over to House committees. Some of them, especially Deutsche Bank, are cooperating with the New York investigation of the Trump Organization.

DDT’s senior DOJ officials told senior prosecutors investigating problems with Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland to reduce settlements so that the government would get less money. Former AG Rod Rosenstein instructed that charges be changed from criminal to the less serious civil ones in cases that the banks misled buyers of residential mortgage-backed securities before the 2008 financial crisis. Mortgage losses for RBS securities of $54 billion destroyed customers’ investments. The $2 billion settlement was far less than staff prosecutors had sought in what they considered strong cases. Dictates from DOJ officials in Washington toward U.S. attorney offices are rare.

The arbitrary removal of two research agencies, the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, may be illegal because DDT lacks congressional approval, according to the Agriculture Department’s inspector general. The department may not have the authority to appropriate funds for the move and have violated the Antideficienty Act prohibiting government employees in contracts of obligation of payments before an appropriation.

DDT is still trying to take over Venezuela; during the past two months, he diverted about $30 billion in Venezuelan assets with about $1 billion moved into the accounts of opposition leaders. The confiscation of money from banks at DDT’s request was coordinated by DDT’s choice for president, Juan Guaidó, if DDT’s coup had been successful. Guaidó was assisted by key aids Leopold Lopez and Roberto Marrero. In his goal to starve Venezuela, DDT put new sanctions on the country this week. He also has more plans to get the nation’s legally elected president, Nicolás Maduro, out of power, including an embargo or even a blockade of Venezuela’s coastline. National security adviser John Bolton has threatened retaliation to any country that does business with Maduro. DDT still favors big business: Chevron has a three-month exemption so that it can keep drilling for oil in Venezuela. Guaidó lacks support to seize power, and Maduro maintains support, using the U.S.’s imperialistic meddling as a frequent talking point. 

North Korea has increased leverage over negotiations with the U.S. because DDT refuses to acknowledge the four missile tests from North Korea in two week. As North Korea fires more test missiles, Japan and South Korea continue to feud despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s jovial attempt to mitigate the problems between Taro Kono, Japan’s foreign minister and Kang Kyung-wha, his South Korean counterpart (left). Conflicts developing from other a century ago about Japan’s colonial occupation of Korea and reparations for forced labor and sexual slavery came to a head with Japan’s threats to slow down vital exports for South Korea industries. U.S. needs both countries as protection against China and North Korea but doesn’t want to mend the rift. If tensions escalate and fire on each other, U.S. ships between the two countries could be in danger. 

DDT wants to find Iranian mines in the Persian Gulf to fuel his propaganda against the country, but sonar on the Navy ships is so inadequate that it identifies dishwashers, crab traps, and cars as potential bombs under the water. Companies making spare parts for the ship’s aging sonar equipment are gone, and the Navy moved its priorities to “cool” new equipment, according to one officer. Sailors are not always trained to use the old equipment.

The G7 summit later this month will be tense after DDT falsely accused French President Emmanuel Macron of inviting Iran’s president to the event. DDT also objects to Macron communicating with Iran.

DDT said he’s not ready to make a deal with China about his trade war, and the stock market went down again. He also announced that he’s cutting ties with telecom giant Huawei, the business he blacklisted in May and then reinstated in July. The Dow is down 250 points for the week.

July was the hottest month ever recorded since the record-keeping began over a century ago:

  • Officials in Switzerland and elsewhere painted stretches of rail tracks white, trying to keep them from buckling in the extreme heat.
  • Wildfires raged across millions of acres in the Arctic.
  • A massive ice melt in Greenland sent 197 billion tons of water pouring into the Atlantic Ocean and raised sea levels.
  • Alaska saw startling amounts of greenhouse gases.
  • Germany lowered autobahn speed limits to avoid high-speed motorways.

Rising temperatures are also killing U.S. soldiers, at least 17 during the last decade. Heat strokes or heat exhaustion among active-duty service members went from 1,766 in 2008 and 2,792 in 2018.

Puerto Rico has a new governor, the third in less than a week. The first one resigned, the second one was declared unconstitutional because he hadn’t been confirmed by the Senate, and the third, unpopular former Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez Garced, may stick. After Ricardo Rosselló was caught in a chat room with offensive messages about his opponents and Hurricane Maria victims , Rosselló  pushed Pedro Pierluisi into the next in line secretary of state as a replacement for Luis Rivera Marín who resigned for the same reasons as ? Only the Puerto Rican House approved Pierluisi before he was sworn in as governor last friend, the day that Rosselló’s resignation took effect. They thought that their action was legal because of a 2005-approved law of succession, but Puerto Ricans and the Senate protested. The Supreme Court sided with the Senate, ruling that the 2005 amendment was unconstitutional. Pierluisi’s law firm represents the financial board, headed by his brother-in-law, that oversees the island’s struggling finances. Now top officials from Vázquez’s party is considering a replacement for her. 

DDT’s promise to lower drug prices was popular with both parties, and he’s in full campaign mode working on success in this area. Now conservatives are accusing DDT of socialism in his support to decrease prices by importing drugs from Canada and ban Medicare from paying more than other countries for prescription drugs with an international pricing policy. DDT’s opposition to “global freeloading” has caused him to aim for capping U.S. payments for expensive drugs. Ads from the conservative Freedom Works complain about “socialist-style price controls” and “socialist European drug prices in America.” As usual, opposition from GOP establishment wants no legislation that Democrats would support.

June 2, 2019

Catching Up on the Last Few Weeks

Looking through my files, I see information about events that has fallen through the cracks. Here’s a bit of “catch up” with links for readers who want to read more about the subject. 

Tariffs/Taxes:

Solar energy, responsible in 2016 for 43 percent of employment in electric power and twice as much as the fossil fuel industry, has lost almost 20,000 jobs since DDT’s inauguration, much of the loss from tariffs.

Increasing tariffs to 25 percent on some Chinese goods could annually tax a family of four $767 and destroy over 934,000 jobs. Tariffs on all Chinese imports, as DDT threatens, would annually tax families $2,294. The combined $72 billion for all DDT’s tariffs constitute one of the biggest tax increases since 1993, and that amount doesn’t include his new tax on all goods from Mexico. People, not companies or countries, pay for tariffs making them a tax increase, the equivalent of a ten-percent increase in Social Security tax for an average family. DDT plans to annually cost every family $100 annually and add to health problems and death rates with enhanced pollution by erasing efficiency standards for light bulbs and causing LED bulbs to be much more expensive. Since President Obama’s action, LED bulbs, which last ten years, dropped 90 percent in price to about $1.

According to DDT’s Commerce Department, the $891 billion merchandise trade deficit last year is the largest in U.S. history, and the trade deficit with China hit a record high of $419 billion after DDT’s tariffs. The 19-percent jump from November and December 2018 to $59.8 billion made the highest monthly trade deficit in 10 years.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), ready to declare war on Iran, told farmers that they’re making far less sacrifices by losing their farms from tariffs than soldiers “in Arlington” make. DDT calls farmers losing everything from his tariffs as “patriot farmers.” Did they know that they were signing up for the war by growing food? Meanwhile, GOP senators up for re-election in agricultural states are getting nervous.

DDT’s tariffs are closing down a South Carolina plant that assembles televisions using Chinese parts with a loss of 126 jobs.

Climate/Pollution:

Earth’s concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) has reached 415 parts per million ( ppm). The first 280 ppm took 5,000 years until the Industrial Revolution; the last 5 ppm took two years. Ninety percent of all global fuel emissions have been released in the past 85 years. Excess carbon dioxide is causing men’s testicles to shrink from shortage of sperm. (Chemicals are also shrinking penises.)

The U.S. is one of two nations out of 189 to control movement of its waste across national borders, leaving the U.S. no place to send contaminated and plastic waste without other countries’ consent. 

Of the world’s 425,000 electric buses, China has 421,000. The U.S. has 300.

DDT may be able to escape any climate change penalties on the federal level, but New York is levying millions of dollars against his business because of pollution from DDT’s buildings. Without making improvements, DDT will pay annual fines of $2.1 million from 2030.

Not only has DDT failed to create more coal jobs, but he’s also losing the ones that existed when he was inaugurated. One-thousand jobs are at risk as the third-largest coal company declared bankruptcy because of a weak market, and over 50 coal plants closed under DDT’s leadership. A court ruling voided union contracts for another coal company, and lack of federal funding jeopardizes pensions of $600 a month for almost 100,000 workers. Transition to other jobs is highly problematic because coal workers aren’t well enough to work after leaving the mines.

Data:

DDT’s attempts to control the census by asking about citizenship isn’t the only way that he plans to skew information: poverty and pollution in the U.S. will be less severe once he changes all the numbers. After the EPA reported that DDT’s new energy policy to replace President Obama’s Clean Power Plan kills an additional 1,400 people, DDT ordered the number to be fixed.

DDT will allow oil and gas industry to drill places not within the safe drilling margin through the draft of guidelines that weren’t included for public comment last year.

Legislation:

DDT and the GOP hate net neutrality, which keeps prices lower for internet use, but love the idea of 5G wireless phones to speed up all those tweets. The result may be a 30-percent inaccuracy of weather forecasts because of interference, taking predictions back four decades. That means fewer days to prepare for hurricanes and incorrect tracking of storms’ paths to land. NOAA reported that the proposed 5G system would lose 77 percent data from its satellite’s passive microwave sounders. The FCC continues to auction off wireless spectrum, already making almost $2 billion.

Without legislation, Congressional Republicans will cause these catastrophes: lack of disaster aid; budget caps starting on September 30; not raising the debt ceiling resulting in calamitous financial crisis by the end of summer; government shutdown without passage of 12 appropriation bills by October 1; continued disintegration of infrastructure; no funds for Violence against Women Act which expired three months ago; no defense authorization or flood insurance which depends on the disaster bill; and lack of surveillance from sunsets on gathering metadata on domestic text messages and “roving” wiretaps—which might not be too bad.

DDT doesn’t think his ideas to use public-private relationships for infrastructure improvement “will work.

When the House passed the Equality Act, 173 Republicans voted in favor of discriminating against LGBTQ people. Only 21 states and the District of Columbia explicitly prohibit discrimination in employment and house, and one of those states permits public accommodation discrimination. One Republican legislator compared LGBTQ people to Nazis.

IRS:

Every year, the IRS loses hundreds of auditing agents, so they pursue the poor rather than the wealthy. In 2018, millionaires were 80 percent less likely to be audited than in 2011, but the 43 percent of people receiving the earned income tax credit are audited at a higher rate than anyone except the richest. Highest audit rates are in poor, rural, mostly black, and Southern counties.

 Over 1.3 million college students on scholarships are taxed at higher rates than billionaires, including DDT, thanks to the new GOP “tax cut” law. High tax rates have also hit tribal funds paid to Native American youth for education or living expenses. Republicans have not only fixed the problem but seemed to have deliberately created it.

Education Department:

Republicans plan to renew investigations into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for her emails although she recorded all of them. The GOP will undoubtedly ignore Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s use of personal email accounts for government businesses and her failure to properly save the messages. The practice is common for Republicans, and DDT fails to preserve public records.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reported that the Education Department is blocking efforts to police the student loan industry and costing borrowers thousands of dollars for those who owe over $1 trillion in these loans by refusing to share information.

As DDT wants to increase the charter school budget, the Network for Public Education reported how charter schools have scammed the federal government for over $1 billion in nonexistent or short-lived schools. With no adverse consequences, one in three schools that have received $4 billion closed, never opened, or hadn’t yet opened. Other charter schools fall short of the charter program’s promise of “high-quality” schools for disadvantaged students.

Ignorance/Bigotry:

Fifty-six percent of people reject the idea of teaching “Arabic numerals”—like 56.

DDT:

DDT likened himself to Hungary’s far-right authoritarian leader Prime Minister Viktor Orbán because of his being “respected all over Europe” and doing a “tremendous job.” 

At this time, 138 nominees are awaiting confirmation in the Senate, and another 132 positions have no nominees. The reason comes from overwhelming turnover in the past two years.

Condo sales in Trump Tower have plummeted, some of them as much as 20 percent, compared to 0.23 percent of Manhattan homes. Occupancy rates dropped even with lower than average rents; net income is 26 percent below banks’s expectations in 2012. DDT still made $434 million last year, especially from the D.C. hotel.

DDT said that he will not use any campaign dirt on his opponents from foreign companies—if he gets the opponents he wants.

DDT’s trial balloon of getting another two years with no election because he was treated “unfairly” has failed: 77 percent of the people don’t agree. Only seven percent of respondents think that he should ignore the 2020 election if he loses, and 90 percent believe that the “peaceful handover of power after elections” and “both parties respecting the results of elections” were essential for the “healthy functioning of American democracy.” Large majorities agree that DDT “does not respect the customs or traditions of the Presidency” and “the laws of the United States.”

February 1, 2019

DDT: Week 106 – Mass Shootings, Corruption

Filed under: Donald Trump — trp2011 @ 9:25 PM
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The shutdown is on hiatus, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gets to escape the White House this weekend for a retreat to Mar-a-Lago. DDT spent his week causing making Venezuelans people to suffer while gifting Vladimir Putin by lifting sanctions and encouraging him to make as many nuclear weapons as he wants by removing a treaty. Little noticed by the media, however, is the ongoing slaughter of people in the United States by young white men. Three 21-year-olds each murdered at least three people in three different mass shootings last week:

  • Five women killed in a Sebring (FL) SunTrust bank.
  • Three people shot in a Pennsylvania bar, two of them killed, and an elderly man shot dead in a home where the suspect crashed his car and killed himself.
  • A young woman killed with her brother and father before the murderer shot and killed his parents in their nearby Louisiana home.

Media focus on mass shootings now seems to come only from a location such as a school or religious institution and/or massive numbers of dead. Largely ignored in the first month of 2019 were 32 mass shootings—the shooting of at least four or more people. As the media writes about how ISIS radicalized its recruits, it skips over how young white men in the United States are radicalized and committing more and more mass shootings.

Back, however, to the actions of the nation’s tweeter-in-chief who promotes violence in the United States. Before DDT left for his weekend getaway, he gave an 85-minute interview to the New York Times, which he claims to hate, in which he said that he would proceed with “wall” without congressional negotiations because they were a “waste of time.” About House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), DDT said, “I’ve actually always gotten along with her, but now I don’t think I will any more.” He also denied that he worked on his Moscow skyscraper through his election, saying that former fixer Michael Cohen was lying. According to DDT, outgoing deputy AG, Rod Rosenstein, told his lawyers that DDT was not a target of special investigator Robert Mueller.

In a reversal from his temper tantrums how his intelligence leaders had contradicted him, DDT claimed that they told him that the media misinterpreted the testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee. “They said, ‘Sir, our testimony was totally mischaracterized,’” DDT said. “I’m happy with Dan Coats.”

In his intent to take over Venezuela, DDT looks to help from Brazil where 13 Brazilian investors, involved with DDT in a Rio de Janeiro hotel project until 2016, have been arrested and charged with diverting pension money into the scheme. DDT bailed just after his election and just before a criminal investigation into the funding process.

Three of DDT’s children—Ivanka, Eric, and Don, Jr.—are being sued for their endorsement of a fraudulent scam promoted on DDT’s reality show, The Apprentice. The Trumps received millions of dollars in secret payments from 2005 to at least 2015 from ACN persuading people to sell a “doomed” desktop video phone service. The video phone, which connected calls among only ACN customers, lost to Skype and smart phones.

Three House committee chairs have asked for documents surrounding Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s lifting sanctions from Russian companies, giving Vladimir Putin’s oligarchs millions of dollars to spend on election interference. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) has also asked about Mnuchin’s possible conflicts of interest with his ties to the oligarchs because he refused to recuse himself from the sanctions discussions.

When Mnuchin took his current government position, he sold his shares in RatPac-Dune Entertainment for $25 million to Len Blavatnik and Oleg Deripaska. Blavatnik co-owns Sual Partners with another sanctioned oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, and Sual “is a major shareholder” of Rusal, one of Deripaska’s companies that benefited from Mnuchin’s lifting the sanctions. Blavatnik, who donated $1 million to DDT’s inaugural fund, formerly served on Rusal’s board. SUAL will own 22.5 percent of Rusal after the restructuring, and the rise in Rusal’s stock price with the lifting of the sanctions increased the value of SUAL Partners’ holding in the company by about $800 million. When questioned earlier about lifting the sanctions, Mnuchin testified in a House committee hearing that legislators should just “trust” DDT.

Part of the agreement to lift the Russian sanctions was for the Rusal to change its board of directors. Now one of DDT’s presidential transition team, Christopher Burnham, sits on Rusal’s board. Burnham is a former official at Deutsche Bank, the financial institution involved in money-laundering scandals with strong ties with DDT’s funding for his projects. The sanctions were quietly lifted last Sunday as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) announced her presidential candidacy to a crowd of over 20,000 in Oakland.

Russian oligarchs support U.S. Christian fundamentalists in their fight to make the United States a theocracy. As the keynote speaker for the 2014 National Organization for Marriage gala, Ben Carson mixed with such notables as Alexey Komov, fascist-supporter, anti-Semite, and key employee of sanctioned Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeev. In his speech, Carson said that Marxists were “using LGBT rights to destroy American unity and impose the ‘New World Order.’” The process of “Making America Christian” includes partnering with U.S. homeschool organizations and working closely with Christian movie reviewers. Malofeev funded eastern Ukrainian pro-Russian “separatists” who are believed to shoot down Malaysian Air Flight MH17 and kill all 283 passengers and 15 crew members.

Campaign groups connected to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY), instrumental in making sure the sanctions were lifted, received $7 million to elect Republicans, starting with $3.5 million to a PAC connected to McConnell. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also received hefty donations.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), chair of the Armed Services Committee, received $1,000 in “unused campaign funds” from former Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) on the day that a McKeon associate met with an Inhofe staff on behalf of the Saudi Arabians. The Saudis paid McKeon $450,000 three days after they killed U.S. resident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The House has also directed the Pentagon to complete a report on climate change that ommitted requested details such as specific cost estimates to protect or replace the ten most vulnerable bases from each of the military services. The Pentagon report already released expressed security concerns about climate change although it listed no Marine Corps installations. Four months before the release of the report, Hurricane Florence cost Camp Lejeune, the biggest Marine base on the East Coast, over $3 billion in damages. Also omitted was Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida where Hurricane Michael destroyed 95 percent of the buildings. Patrick Shanahan, former Boeing executive, became acting DOD Secretary after Jim Mattis left.

DDT is sending thousands more troops to the border with Mexico because of the “caravans” coming from the south, and he agrees with the majority of people that a physical barrier will not stop the migrants. Told that the border for much of Texas is the middle of the Rio Grande River, DDT agreed that people just had to “touch the land.” He was wrong when he said that criminals “are released into our country.”

A caravan of millions is actually crossing the Mexico border for health care—but it’s going south. In just Yuma (AZ), 6,000 people cross into Los Algodones every day for healthcare, especially dental care. In the U.S., 74 million people, one-fourth the population, have no dental insurance, and most people with that insurance are not covered beyond regular checkups and filings that have a cap of $1,500. Getting dental work in Mexico saves people between 67 percent and 80 percent. One reason for less cost is lack of student debt: dentists pay the government for tuition with one year of free service. [Below: U.S. cars heading into Tijuana.]

More people are going to need healthcare with DDT’s plans to weaken regulations for beryllium exposure, causing lung cancer and symptoms such as difficulty breathing/shortness of breath, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, joint pain, cough, and fever. The disease also leads to disability and death.

DDT may be watching too many Star Trek reruns on television. He offered NASA unlimited funding if they can put the U.S. flag on Mars by 2020. An astronaut surprised DDT by reminding him that DDT had already set the timeline for the 2030s. Unhappy with that revelation, DDT suggested that NASA drop all other priorities and focus on a trip to Mars, which is 200 times farther than the moon. Even private efforts for a Mars journey were set back last week after a storm flipped the test vehicle SpaceX in progress at Boca Chica (TX). In his new book Team of Vipers, Cliff Sims described a conversation in the White House when DDT was pushing for a trip to Mars in the coming year.

The Senate passed nonbinding bipartisan legislation objecting to DDT’s withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Syria. Women in Afghanistan fear control by the Taliban who may subject females to forced marriages, domestic violence, inability to leave their homes without a male relative, and mandatory full-length burqas that cover their faces.

To keep DDT happy, his campaign team used Republicans to poll 10 GOP-leaning House districts that Democrats took in 2018 and supposedly found that a plurality of voters endorsed DDT’s wall. The purpose is to convince DDT that he has a good chance of being re-elected. Unfortunately for DDT’s peace of mind, 56 percent of people say they would “definitely not vote for him.” Majorities of independents (59 percent), women (64 percent), and suburbanites (56 percent) said they won’t support DDT for a second term. It is early to determine his chances, but another shutdown won’t be good for his reputation.

January 30, 2019

The U.S. National Crisis – DDT

The United States has a national emergency—and it’s Dictator Donald Trump (DDT). Yesterday, the government released its annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment,” and three intelligence leaders— National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray—testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. These are some conclusions from the 42-page report and the expert testimony:

The U.S. has no “security crisis” at the U.S.-Mexico border which DDT has described as a national emergency, but the nation has much more to fear.

U.S. trade policies and “unilateralism,” straining alliances, have prompted former foreign partners to find other relationships. The growing cyberthreat from Russia and China, now “more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s,” threatens U.S. infrastructure with their capability of destroying the U.S. electric grid with malware and cutting off natural gas pipelines. Foreign enemies want to weaken the U.S. to control the country. Russia’s latest “disinformation” campaign to distort information from Robert Mueller’s investigation works to protect DDT who will support Vladimir Putin at all costs. Russia and China’s goal is to gain military and technological superiority over the United States. Russia also intends to interfere with politics (aka elections) with “information warfare” largely on social media.

North Korea is “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities,” which the country’s leaders consider “critical to the regime’s survival.” Its government “is committed to developing a long-range nuclear-armed missile that would pose a direct threat to the United States.”

ISIS, a still-formidable organization, will continue “to stoke violence” in Syria. With eight branches and over a dozen networks, it has thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria and attracts thousands of supporters from around the world. ISIS is also capable of attacking the United States.

Iran is not trying to build a nuclear weapon and is in compliance with the international agreement that DDT rejected before he reinstated U.S. sanctions on the country.

Climate change remains a national security threat, according to Coats. Two weeks ago, the Defense Department reported that climate change is a global security threat.

The officials punted when asked why staffers such as DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner received security clearances that would block personnel in other administrations from access to classified information. In all other ways, they declared that DDT’s world view is wrong.

DDT spent today ranting against his intelligence leaders. He described them as “extremely passive and naïve” about Iran and exclaimed about the three who testified, “They are wrong!” Although the DDT didn’t watch the testimony, he responded to clips shown on television and delivered opinions based on nothing. “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!” he indignantly tweeted.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote Coats asking him, Wray, and Haspel to perform an intervention with DDT. Schumer called DDT’s criticism “extraordinarily inappropriate and undermines public confidence in the U.S. government’s efforts to protect our national security and preserve U.S. power and influence abroad” before he said that Coats “cannot allow the President’s ill-advised and unwarranted comments today to stand.” Schumer continued:

“I believe it is incumbent on you, Director Wray and Director Haspel to insist on an immediate meeting with the President to educate him about the facts and raw intelligence underlying the Intelligence Community assessments, and to impress upon him how critically important it is for him to join and the leadership of our Intelligence Community in speaking with a unified and accurate voice about national security threats.”

DDT has joined Russia and China in trying to weaken the United States. The fear of nuclear weapons from a half-century ago has returned as DDT plans a withdrawal from Ronald Reagan’s Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty on February 2 and an irrational man is in charge of pushing the button on nuclear war. DDT gets his information and advice from Vladimir Putin, including a secret meeting in Buenos Aires at the G20 summit where the only other person from the U.S. present was DDT’s wife, Melania. Earlier DDT had said that he wouldn’t meet with Putin because Russia had not returned captured Ukrainian ships and sailors. Two months after Russia’s seizure of three ships and 24 sailors in international waters, DDT has said nothing about Putin’s unwillingness to release them.

If the thought of DDT allowing China and Russia to destroy natural gas and electric sources in the United States, allow ISIS terrorists to overrun the country, and blow up the world with nuclear weapons, consider Venezuela. This week, DDT seized assets from state-owned oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PdVSA)—a primary source of income and foreign currency for the country—by placing sanctions on them in a de facto embargo with exemptions only for Chevron and two large oil services providers Halliburton and Schlumberger. He gave control of the remaining assets to his appointed Venezuelan president, Juan Guaidó. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claimed that corruption was the reason for the U.S. action, but he isn’t bothered by Russia’s corruptions and sham elections. The United States will block Venezuela’s access to credit and stop debt restructuring until Guaidó replaces legally elected President Nicolás Madura. National security adviser John Bolton again threatened military action (aka invasion) toward Venezuela.

With the biggest oil reserves in the world, Venezuela has become president of OPEC for the upcoming year with the ability to threaten the U.S. dollar with a push for oil payments in non-dollar currencies or in cryptocurrencies. The country also has the second largest gold reserves alone with diamonds and other minerals such as coltan used for electronic devices. DDT’s doctrine, as expressed about Iraq in 2016:

“To the victor belong the spoils. You have to go in and take the oil.”

DDT started looking into taking over Venezuela the day after his inauguration because of these oil reserves, and an invasion also fits his doctrine. He has told the CIA and the Pentagon that he sees no problem in civilian casualties and celebrated the dropping of “the mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan. With plummeting ratings and problems in the United States, DDT is searching for help politically, not caring that his embargo and invasion would greatly increase the suffering of Venezuelans. To DDT, people are just commodities but of less value than oil.

Reasons against DDT’s Venezuelan coup:

Venezuela has a legitimate voting process, far better than in other countries such as the United States and Russia. International observers concluded that “the elections were very transparent and complied with international parameters and national legislation.”

Outside interference caused the dire economic situation in Venezuela from an economic war by the U.S., declining oil prices, and the government’s economic sabotage. Large inflow from foreign currency for oil raised the value of the country’s currency which made its other products less price competitive and resulting in more imports. U.S. sanctions in the past six months cost Venezuela $6 billion.

Much of the violence in the country has been caused by the opposition to the elected president Maduro from violence, murders, and destruction of public and private buildings and vehicles. The National Assembly, declared in contempt by the country’s Supreme Court in 2017 because of electoral fraud, granted amnesty for the opposition’s crimes since 1999—felonies, terrorism, and undermining the economy—and described the crimes by the opposition.

To compound problems, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and DDT appointed an extremist as a “special envoy” to Venezuela. Pompeo extolled Elliott Abrams’ “passion for the rights and liberties of all peoples,” but Abrams defended Guatemalan dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt in the 1980s as he oversaw a campaign of mass murder and torture of indigenous people in Guatemala. Ríos Montt was later convicted of genocide. Abrams was also convicted for lying about his involvement in the Iran-Contra affair and escaped prison only when George H.W. Bush pardoned him to save his own skin.

DDT’s sidekick in ousting a duly elected president, Brazil’s far-right Jair Bolsonaro, has his own problems. Like the corrupt DDT, Bolsonaro campaigned on eradicating corruption and crime, but his son, recently elected senator Flávio Bolsonaro, reportedly employed both the mother and wife of Adriano Magalhães da Nóbrega, leader of a Rio de Janeiro death squad called the Escritório do Crime (The Crime Bureau). Nóbrega is supposedly on the run, and law enforcement suspect the Crime Bureau of assassinating Rio councilor Marielle Franco. Fabrício Queiroz, a longstanding friend of Brazil’s president pictured socializing with Jair Bolsonaro in a photo where both men appear topless, allegedly recommended the two women to Flávio Bolsonaro, who is also facing other damaging accusations about his financial dealings. Like DDT, the Brazilian president could face blackmail.

Now DDT faces his State of the Union speech this coming Tuesday. Prepare yourself for defensive statements presenting his fictional views of the world—and his fantasy stories about women with duct tape covering their mouths, smugglers with “unbelievable vehicles,” and Muslim prayer rugs in the desert along the southern U.S. border—straight from the fictional movie Sicario: Day of the Soldado.

January 7, 2019

Sue Hardesty: Sea Stars Gradually Disappear

Filed under: Sue Hardesty — trp2011 @ 8:55 PM
Tags: , , ,

When I was young, these creatures were called starfish. The name was changed in the United States during the past five decades to sea stars because they are echinoderms, not fish, and closely related to sea urchins and sand dollars. No matter what the name, they are disappearing because of environmental problems. This Sea Grant video shows how scientists at the Oregon Coast Aquarium are developing a blood panel for ochre sea stars to help treat them before they die off from Sea Star Wasting Syndrome.

Below, Sue Hardesty’s Facebook entry about the gradual extinction:

I want to talk about my favorite sea thingy, that wondrous little creature, the sea star, that’s nearly impossible to kill. Until now. September 18, 2016, I posted on my Facebook. “Spent yesterday morning walking the tide pools on my favorite beach, looking for my favorite ocean friends, the sea stars. There should have been hundreds. I found three. All sick. They all had bubbling and swelling in their centers and the curling limbs, eventually turning into a smearing mess. This is the fourth year. How much longer before they are all gone?” So, I went looking.

The tragic fact is that we are presently witnessing the largest wildlife die-off in recorded history—and we don’t know why. It is suspected they are another victim of global warming, but the research is still sketchy. Even though this little sea creature has no fins, or brain, or teeth, or even bones, and circulates sea water through their systems instead of blood, they are still tough little guys of wondrous colors and shapes, and, remarkably, they have eyes at the end of each arm, can produce millions of eggs at one time, replace lost arms, and change gender from male to female at will. They can even create glue with their feet. Did I mention how beautiful they are, dressed up in all kinds of colors and shaped with many arms? The loss of the sea star is a true disaster because, unlike the 80 or so extinct mammal species whose demise we are already responsible for, this little guy is one of our major keystone species.

When a major keystone species becomes extinct, its habitat and the living creatures in it are seriously affected and often simply disappear. What makes the sea star a keystone species is that it eats sea urchins which have the bad habit of “clear-cutting” kelp beds destroying cover as well as oxygen and food for many other species, including prawns and fish. Sea stars also eat mussels which, if left unintended, clean the water so well no food is left for the small fishes. Other examples of keystone species presently in danger are bees whose pollination is critical for plant survival, and, in turn, provide food and shelter for bugs who are eaten by birds. Then there is the predator such as bears, lions, tigers, wolves, cougars, and good ol’ man who keep the population of various species in check.

A new report from the Coastal Ocean Research Institute, November 26, 2018, has cited a disease called the “sea star wasting syndrome” as the killer of millions of sea stars from Mexico to Alaska. Like the perfect storm, this disease could be a combination of elevated sea water temperatures with an imbalance of microbiome, or just as likely several microbe pathogens.” The report also discussed the 2014/2015 “unusual boom” in juvenile sea stars of several species which gave so many of us hope. “Unfortunately, the abundance was short-lived,” wrote Schultz. “The juveniles disappeared over a period of weeks to months, and no evidence of their abundance has so far been reflected in adult populations…it’s not uncommon at all to observe a sea star healthy one day and in pieces and near death the next morning,” said UVM co-author Melanie Lloyd. “If this disease was happening in humans, it would be the making of a Stephen King novel.”

 

Sources:

https://www.eeb.ucsc.edu/pacificrockyintertidal/data-products/sea-star-wasting/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181107130255.htm

https://www.opb.org/news/article/despite-glimmers-of-hope-starfish-are-still-wasting-away/

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180320141317.htm

 

January 1, 2019

Sue Hardesty: Crabbing on the Oregon Coast

Filed under: Sue Hardesty — trp2011 @ 8:50 PM
Tags: , ,

On the first day of 2019, I am planning to add a blogger to Nels New Day. My partner of almost 50 years, Sue Hardesty, began a series of commentaries, complete with photographs, on her Facebook page. I enjoy her posts and want people who don’t participate in FB to enjoy these entries. You can follow Hardesty here.

We live in a fishing town that lands the 11th highest quantity of commercial fish in the country. An important part of that product is the Dungeness crab with the harvesting typically beginning on December 1. Our house is above the bay, and we watch the boats loading crab pots, leaving in the middle of the night, and bringing back the take a few days later—many times in the stormiest weather of the year.

In some years the fishing for crabs is delayed because of either the crabs’ low meat or their toxins–or both. This year, the boats couldn’t to out until the end of December, leaving on New Year’s Eve. The lack of sales over the busy Christmas vacation on the coast dearly cost the people in the fishing industry. Fortunately, they were able to get out in good weather. A video of crabs filling the pots.

From Sue Hardesty:

Through all the years that I have lived above docks filled with fishing boats, I have always enjoyed the beginning of crab season the most. Starting in early November, I watch the boats fill to the rafters with crab pots that are stored on the banks of the river waiting to be needed. Although they cannot crab until midnight of December first, they are allowed to drop their pots 64 hours before the first. You can imagine the exodus of nearly two hundred boats. Suddenly, over a few hours the docks are empty and, like a string of ants, the boats have all gone to claim a place to drop their pots. Just as suddenly they are home again, waiting for midnight, December 1st. Then they are gone again. During the next three months I can see their lights far out to sea as they head for home with (hopefully) a full belly in their hold. Then the unloading begins with bags of ice and huge crates in a semi-circle for the crane, unloading the boats, to fill.

Even though a crabber needs a commercial fishing license, a Master license, U.S. Coast Guard licensure, and first aid/CPR certificate, along with special equipment like boots and gloves, crab fishing is one of those jobs that the main qualification is a strong back rather than a whole lot of education. Along with getting up at 4:00 a.m. and not stopping for thirteen or more hours, wild and crazy storms with swells 20 feet or higher, bitter cold weather and sideways heavy rain slapping you in the face, crab pots that weigh as much as 800 pounds pulled up over and over dumping up to 150,000 pounds of crab in the hold, living the life is a snap. And the pay ain’t bad either.  $25,000 to $100,00 salary for three months work, depending on experience and crabs caught which can wholesale for around $2.00 or more a pound. Do the math. That’s $300,000.00 a load. Usually boats fill their hold several times during a season.

This year, however, Christmas is upon us and the crab boats are still tied up to the docks with very few filled with pots because the crabs are too small. I’m beginning to think it’s time for crabbers to find another job, especially for those who like to live on the sharp edge. Like one crabber described, “It’s one of the last things where you can wake up in the morning and you have no idea what’s going to happen,” he says. “It’s the last cowboy-ish thing to do.” Or he could drive a truck on ice roads. The average pay is $2,000 for round-trip taking about 20 hours driving during which you cannot stop or rest because sinking through the ice is as real as it gets. Or if you don’t like driving on ice, you could be a storm chaser and get a TV station to pay $500 for storm footage and, if you want company, passengers will often pay as high as $3,500 for the trip. I think I would forget about the filming and hire a bus. So many fun choices.

So, Huston, we have a problem, and the problem is not with the crabs.

I have heard several reasons for the poor quality of crab such as the greedy fishermen have over-crabbed. Or the polluted run-off from farm caused deadly domoic acid in crabs. Then there are always the conspiracy theorists who say a small group of rich men is controlling the whole coast and calling all the shots. Or the one I agree with—global warming of the ocean waters has caused low oxygen which is now striking a big swath of “hot spots” off the West Coast causing extreme hypoxia, killing the crab and anything else. Even scarier is that low oxygen is no longer just at the seafloor; it has climbed up to half of the water column. Or so the NOAA Coastal Hypoxia Research Program has reported. One crabber dropped 120 pots and brought up four live crabs. Another pulled up gobs of dead crab and a few miles away pulled up gobs of healthy ones. This phenomenon has become so common in the last few years we now have a hypoxia season. Fire Season, Hypoxia Season, what’s next? Annihilation Season?

There is hope. As NOAA researches the effects of hypoxia, OSU Hatfield Center is dropping 40 “dissolved oxygen” sensors on crab pots to determine how rapidly hypoxia develops, and where. There is also a bill (H.R. 6267) in Oregon Congress attempting to deal with ocean acidification. And a lawsuit was filed in San Francisco County Superior Court where commercial crabbers in Oregon and California are suing 30 fossil fuel companies, accusing them of raising ocean temperatures and causing algal blooms that have shortened the crab season the past three years that will likely will continue to do so. “We believe it’s a substantiated claim that harm has been done by one industry to another and the industry that caused that harm should pay,” said Noah Oppenheim, the association’s executive director. He went on to say that “climate science has advanced to the point that the connection between fossil fuel use and domoic acid closures is “crystal clear.” Crab is the most valuable single species commercial fishery in Oregon, with an average harvest of 16 million pounds per season, all caught with Oregon’s fleet of 424 boats.

 

Information:

https://today.oregonstate.edu/news/2018-one-worst-low-oxygen-years-ocean-oregon-which-now-has-%E2%80%9Chypoxia-season%E2%80%9D

https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/tech/science/environment/2018/11/26/oregon-crabbers-sue-oil-companies-climate-change-industry-impact/2073140002/

Photos by Sue Hardesty.

October 19, 2018

DDT: Week 91 – Violence against Reporters Acceptable

After passing a tax cut for big business and the wealthiest, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) decided that the ballooning deficit is “disturbing.” The GOP solution is to reduce “entitlement programs”—the ones that taxpayers funded and the Republican legislators siphoned off to pay for the military and huge tax cuts for the wealthiest. Voters might want to consider this plan when they vote.

DDT has threatened to protect the Mexican border with military and overturn his shiny new trade agreement with the country if they don’t stop a caravan of Honduran immigrants crossing Mexico. He also plans to cut off foreign aid to Honduras, saving the United States a grand $127 million, equivalent to about a year of DDT’s weekend getaways. The differences of opinion in the White House led to a fight between Chief of Staff John Kelly and National Security Adviser John Bolton when Bolton dared to criticize DHS director Kirstjen Nielsen’s inability to keep immigrants from crossing the border.

Jamal Khashoggi, a U.S. resident and WaPo reporter, wrote about the importance of freedom of the press, the Saudis murdered him, and DDT is protecting Saudi Crown Prince MBS. After denying his death for weeks, Saudi Arabia claimed that he got in a “fist-fight”—presumably with the 15-person death squad sent with a bone saw into the Saudi embassy—and sadly died. DDT called the assumption “credible.” Photos show that members of the murder squad have close ties to Mohammed, including four of them who served as his guards during his visit to the U.S. last March–this 59-year-old man against 15 strong men possessing a bone saw. Here is the piece of trash that Saudi Arabia released. DDT lamented, “This one has caught the imagination of the world, unfortunately.” Everytime he is asked about Khashoggi’s death, DDT says that he doesn’t want to lose $100 billion of arms sales. Now one of the murder squad of 15 has mysteriously died in a car crash.

DDT has restricted access to any information about the murder of Khashoggi by refusing to share any of this information with the Senate. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) described the situation “disappointing.” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was derisive about the Saudi story, but most Republicans are covering for DDT by smearing Khashoggi’s reputation using conspiracy theories spread by the radical right-wing press that falsely accuse him of being sympathetic to Islamic terrorism. The GOP support for Saudi Arabia has even erased their memory that 15 of the 19 hijackers attacking the U.S. on 9/11 were Saudis. Saudi Arabia went so far as to claim that 9/11 was an Israeli plot.

Only after Saudi Arabia delivered $100 million to DDT as support for stabilization in northeastern Syria, did DDT agree that Khashoggi was probably dead. The State Department denied any relationship between the money and Mike Pompeo’s discussions with the Saudis about Khashoggi. Saudi Arabia has followed a pattern for paying off countries to support its foreign policies, and it may pay off Turkey for a joint investigation into the murder. Saudi Arabia is looking more and more like ISIS

In his rally this past week, DDT entertained his audience by praising Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT) for his physical assault on a Guardian reporter. For the first time, DDT openly cheered a violent act against a journalist in the United States when he expressed his approval of Gianforte because he “body-slammed a reporter.” Gianforte pled guilty to the charge of assault and was sentenced to four days in jail which was changed to 40 hours of community service and a mandated anger-management course. The Guardian US editor, John Mulholland, said:

“The president of the United States tonight applauded the assault on an American journalist who works for the Guardian. To celebrate an attack on a journalist who was simply doing his job is an attack on the first amendment by someone who has taken an oath to defend it.

“In the aftermath of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, it runs the risk of inviting other assaults on journalists both here and across the world where they often face far greater threats. We hope decent people will denounce these comments and that the president will see fit to apologize for them.”

A bizarre continuing story this week focused on the Interior Department where the IG, in the midst of four separate investigations into its secretary, Ryan Zinke, seemed to be fired. HUD Director Ben Carson emailed information about her replacement with Suzanne Israel Tufts, one of his own employees who is a DDT political appointee with no experience in government work. After a report was released showing that Zinke violated his department’s policy on travel, White House officials said they knew nothing about these personnel transactions. Interior Department spokeswoman said that Carson’s email “had 100 percent false information” and the long-term IG is staying.

Zinke permitted his wife to travel in government vehicles while she was assisting in a campaign for a political candidate, tried to make her a “volunteer” to justify his actions, told the department’s top lawyer to lie to the public about the situation, and ordered his security detail to drive an associate to the airport. His decision to take an unarmed security detail on his overseas vacation cost taxpayers $25,000. Other investigations include Zinke’s involvement in a Montana land deal and two Connecticut tribes’ application to open a new casino. Interior Department officials also objected to the new political appointee as the Interior’s IG.

The story didn’t end there, though.  HUD said that the information was just a “mistake” and that Tufts had a job interview for IG elsewhere in the government. She didn’t show up for the appointment and then resigned her HUD position. Although she hadn’t come to her HUD job for the past two months, she had been regularly paid. All of this drama and revelation in less than a week.

More drama came from the First Lady’s self-pity party when she called herself “the most bullied person” in the world during an interview. In 2009 Minnesota GOP Senate candidate Karin Housley compared then-First Lady Michelle Obama to the chimpanzee from 1951’s movie Bedtime for Bonzo. And Michelle Obama did not parade in a cheap “I really don’t care” jacket like Melania Trump did. The GOP has a decade-long record of describing the Obama family as simians. (BTW, Trump also said that her jacket was a putdown on the press.)

Senate Democrats have again learned that they cannot trust their GOP counterparts. They agreed to quick confirmation of 15 more DDT judicial nominees so that they could recess for campaigning. Republicans stayed in Washington to hold hearings on more nominees and claimed that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) had agreed to these hearings. She didn’t. The handful of Republicans attending Wednesday’s hearing moved them forward.

Last Sunday, DDT’s 60 Minutes interview addressed the people he does and does not trust. Here’s a summary:

Asked about climate change, DDT again dragged out his Uncle John and their conversations to prove that he knew best. John Trump, who died in 1985, worked in electronics and X-ray machines. DDT said that he didn’t talk about his uncle about climate change, but he has “a natural instinct for science.”

Farmers—DDT’s base—have a better instinct about climate change, and they are concerned. They may not need to worry about tariffs stopping them from shipping soybeans; almost a foot of rain has turned their crops into a bog. Their fertilizer is running off into the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico to create a dead zone the size of New Jersey that destroys the shrimping industry. Soil is annually disappearing at two to three tons an acre but regenerates at only a half-ton each year. Less soil means less protein in a kernel or pod, and corn becomes higher in starch. Corn yield can also drop by one half within 50 years. Des Moines Water Works faces $100 million in improvement costs because of toxic agricultural chemicals. Minnesota crops are either washed out or weedy. Kansas now requires 100 acres of prairie grass for a calf instead of 40 acres. The huge Ogallala Aquifer, vital to cattle feedlots, is down 150 feet at Dodge City in a little over a half century and may be gone in 20 years. Corn can’t be grown in western Kansas because of the heat.

More people in North Carolina are accepting the fact of climate change after two overwhelming hurricanes in rapid succession. While DDT hosted an insane rant from Kanye West in the Oval Office, needy people are without food, water, and electricity. FEMA director Brock Long told them to be patient, and Florida’s governor Rick Scott, running for U.S. Senate, said that “everyone just needs to help each other.”

Once again, the Republicans have failed, and midterm elections are 18 days away.

September 29, 2018

DDT: Week 88 – His Very, Very Bad Time

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) had another really bad week. It started with members of the UN General Assembly openly laughing at his opening statements on Monday and ended with the failure of his Supreme Court nominee to get the confirmation after a crying, hysterical, weak, bullying Brett Kavanaugh performed badly at the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. In addition, a federal judge ruled that 200 congressional Democrats can sue for violating the U.S. Constitution because of illegally doing business with foreign governments while he is in office. Attorneys general of Washington, D.C. and Maryland had a similar lawsuit also accusing him of violating the constitution’s emoluments clause. And Robert Mueller continues the investigation of the Russian scandal.

(Photo By Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)

Thursday, the ten-hour hearing with accuser Christine Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh was a dismaying visual of what Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) called a representation of “we the ruling party” instead of “we the people.” DDT spoke the truth when he said that Kavanaugh’s performance, full of white man’s rage, was “incredible”—because the word means “unbelievable … unconvincing … implausible … highly unlikely.” He also said that it was “something we haven’t seen before,” another accurate statement because the hearing was a low point in U.S. history. Despite smears against Democrats by Republicans and temper tantrums, most notably by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a plea from Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) led to a one-week hiatus before the floor vote despite the fury of some GOP senators while the FBI investigates the evidence against Kavanaugh. [GOP Sens. Orrin Hatch (UT) and Chuck Grassley (IA) flank Kavanaugh.] Alexandra Petri has an excellent column on the Kavanaugh situation.

UN representatives laughed at DDT when he bragged about already having accomplished more than nearly every other U.S. president.  During his campaign, DDT called President Obama “a laughing stock to the entire World.” The rest of his speech, focusing on U.S. sovereignty, sounded like a subdued version of his campaign rallies, something not well received by that audience. He said that the U.S. will not “tell you how to live and work and worship” so long as “you respect our sovereignty in return” but attacked several countries.

DDT praised India for reducing poverty, Israel for “vibrant democracy,” North Korea for “courage,” Poland for “standing up” for freedom, and Saudi Arabia for its “bold reforms.” He celebrated Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-supported war on Yemen where over 60,000 people have died in only two years, many of them civilians dying in war crimes. Attacks focused on China for unfair trade practices, Germany for its pipeline deal with Russia, and Venezuela for socialism. He also called on the world to isolate Iran, hours after Europe, Russia, and China agreed to a payment deal to circumvent U.S. sanctions on Iran. DDT also endorsed a strict dependence on fossil fuels.

Some of DDT’s vitriol—and lies—were saved for the International Criminal Court, a concern to DDT because of the investigation into U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan and Israeli crimes in Gaza. National security advisor John Bolton has been outspoken in his criticisms of the ICC, perhaps because he could be tried for duping the U.S. into the 2003 preemptive war on Iraq that has brought disaster to both countries for the past 15 years. French President Emmanuel Macron said that his country will not enter into any trade deals with countries that have not signed onto the Paris climate agreement. Since every nation signed, the United States is unique in asserting that it is pulling out of the agreement, something that it cannot formally do until November 4, 2020.

WaPo listed 14 of DDT’s lies in his speech, including his inflation of success in legislative acts, economy improvement, jobs creation, tax cuts, building a wall (which he hasn’t), military expenditure. He falsified the trade deficit, North Korea’s secret nuclear production, Iran’s military spending, U.S. foreign aid, China joining the WTO, and rising oil prices that came from DDT’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord and new sanctions, not OPEC and OPEC nations. Dana Milbank wrote that between his lies and his outrageous claims, DDT “spoke as though he had accepted a dare to see how much of the world he could offend in the span of a 35-minute address.” DDT “dissed” “90 percent of the world’s population.”

During the U.N. Security Council meeting, DDT first claimed that China “has been attempting to interfere in our upcoming 2018 election” before he bragged a few hours later about the great respect he receives from Chinese officials:

“Mr. Pillsbury, the leading authority on China, was saying that China has total respect for Donald Trump and for Donald Trump’s very, very large brain.”

Conservative author Michael Pillsbury frequently appears on Fox network. DDT added that the Chinese “are doing studies on Donald Trump.”  China’s state-run media characterizes DDT as a clownish buffoon with many reasons to ridicule him. DDT made no mention of Russia’s interference in the election.

DDT failed to meet his self-imposed deadline to persuade Canada to join his new trade deal with Mexico. Both GOP lawmakers, including Sen. John Cornyn (TX), and businesses are critical of his failure. The deadline was set to allow current Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, to sign it on his final day in office, November 30, for fear that the new president will not sign the deal. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shows no interest in accepting DDT’s terms with Mexico, including the increased percentage of vehicles qualifying for duty-free treatment to 75 percent from 62.5 percent and require that much of the vehicle being made by workers with a wage of at least $16 an hour. After the signing, the International Trade Commission has 105 days to evaluate its likely consequences. Congress must approve the new trade deal, and Republicans are very skeptical of a two-country arrangement.

“Trump Effect”:  A 2017 study of middle schools in Virginia found that both teasing and bullying was significantly higher in schools located where a majority of people voted for DDT. No differences were noted in 2013 and 2015. Details here.

The Brett Kavanaugh stories covered the media stories about DOJ Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein possibly being fired because of a NYT story that he had suggested taping DDT, contradicted by people at the meeting who said he was being sarcastic. House Republicans wanted to talk to Rosenstein this coming week, but the House, worried about mid-term elections in early November, is in recess until November 13. Before they left, they kept the government open—without money for DDT’s wall—but failed to agree on the farm bill. Permanently authorized and funded programs such as food stamps aren’t affected but 39 other programs had now lapsed.

DDT’s new plan to reduce the number of legal immigrants is to kill them through starvation and lack of health care. A proposed rule will consider public benefits like food stamps, Medicaid, and Section 8 housing vouchers as “heavily weighted negative factors” in green card applications. The government will give people the choice to die or be deported. Despite claims of a good economy, wages stay low, with one-third of the work force—40 million people—earning less than $12 per hour with no benefits. The rule doesn’t require congressional approval and can go into effect after a 60-day public review period.

Hurricane Florence damaged over 51,000 homes, 11,000 of them by sea level rise. Seas have risen by at least six inches since 1970. The projected 15-inch sea rise by 2050 will double the impact with the same storm surge. At the same time, climate change is making all storms much stronger and wetter. Projected costs by Florence for the National Flood Insurance Program can be as much as $1.2 billion to make a total of $2.8 to $5 billion insurance losses. Seventy percent of the homes hit by Florence were not insured. FEMA flood maps are out of date, encouraging people to re-build or repair in vulnerable places.

Two weeks after Florence hit, thousands of residents still could not get power from coal-fired utilities while solar installations were running the day after the storm.

South Carolina native Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show, is raising money for organizations working with hurricane victims, specifically the Foundation for the Carolinas, The One SC Fun, the North Carolina Disaster Relief Fund, and World Central Kitchen with a new children’s book featuring DDT’s comments about the disaster, including his comment to a survivor about the boat shipwrecked on his property:

“At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.”

Whose Boat Is This Boat? Comments That Don’t Help in the Aftermath of a Hurricane by Donald Trump (accidentally), featuring an image of the boat on the cover, comes out November 6.  [visual]

DDT’s administration reported that the world will be seven degrees hotter in the next 80 years and parts of Manhattan and Miami would be underwater. DDT is not concerned about climate change: the EPA is dissolving its Office of the Science Advisor who works to ensure that the highest quality science is integrated into the agency’s policies and decisions.

The government lost another 1,488 immigrant children in addition to the 1,475 migrant children separated from families and subsequently lost. DHS said that the government is no longer responsible after they place the children with sponsors. According to recently released memos, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen also lied to Congress and the public when she said that the government had no policy of separating families at the border.

DDT started his five-city campaign rally tour in West Virginia where the poverty level increased 12 percent to almost 20 percent. There, he told the crowd that Kim Jong-Un wrote him “beautiful letters” and “we fell in love.”

April 4, 2018

Scott Pruitt – Is He the Next To Go?

With more bad news about the Stormy Daniels’ and Russian scandals, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) needs another distraction. Firing his EPA secretary might be the solution, especially since Scott Pruitt is causing a number of scandals on his own. Pruitt came into the job lying at his confirmation hearings about private emails and then taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from taxpayers for massive security expenses although no one can track serious threats; and construction needs to hide away from his staff. DDT kept him on because he was following DDT’s direction by polluting the nation and killing people with dirty air and water which saved money for DDT’s business friends; and high costs for personal and business travel, sometimes first class, because he is afraid of his constituents. He spent $120,000 to attend the G7 climate conference with seven aides and several security staff where he went to only one meeting.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to postpone Pruitt’s hearings until thousands of emails were released. The day after his confirmation, the emails showed Pruitt’s collusion with the fossil fuel industry bribing him to falsify information supporting fracking. Thousands of concealed emails were released the day after his confirmation showing the his collusion with the fossil fuel industry that bribed him to build cases in favor of fracking companies and electric utilities.

In the last eight months of 2017, 770 EPA employees left the agency. Pruitt is so paranoid that employees may not take notes at meetings or talk about environmental issues. His security cost $830,000 for the first three months, the secret phone booth was $42,000, and special locks were $6,000 each. At the same time, the EPA budget dropped by over 30 percent in one year.

Pruitt’s latest scandal, however, is something that DDT may not be able to bear because it won’t go away. Pruitt’s expensive trip to Morocco regarding liquid nitrogen gas exports last December, something that has nothing to do with the EPA, caused great interest in the media when journalists found that he got a condo rental for $50 per night—when he stayed in—in an area that usually costs up to $5,000 a month for rentals. Pruitt’s renter is the wife of energy lobbyist J. Steven Hart who not only may receive an LNG deal for Pruitt’s cheap rent but also was awarded a huge pipeline expansion for Enbridge although EPA had previously fined the company $61 million for a 2010 pipeline disaster sending “hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan and other waterways,” according to the New York Times. The fine was the second largest in almost half a century just behind that for the Deepwater Horizon tragedy.  

The most recent scandal about Pruitt surrounds Millan Hupp, the 26-year-old staff member with the 33-percent raise who spent both office and personal hours in an extensive search for a house for Pruitt. Her work on this project constitutes a violation of federal rules that prevents federal officials from asking subordinates to do personal tasks. The White House refused to approve huge salary increases for both Hupp and another staffer, so Pruitt employed them under the Safe Drinking Water Act, permitting Pruitt to hire up to 30 people without White House or congressional approval. These employees do not have to sign ethics pledges about lobbying activities and other conflicts of interest. Pruitt signed off on their employment, but he denied it in a Fox interview today.

The Fox network, usually easy on Pruitt, was more harsh today. Asked about the additional $84,000 in salary for just two staffers, Pruitt said he knew nothing about it until this week. Interview Ed Henry said, “You run the agency. You don’t know who did this?” Until now, Pruitt managed the media by catering to conservative outlets and avoids environmental reporters. By withholding information, such as his schedule, Pruitt he kept out of trouble, especially because he threatens reporters with police removal at his events.

Pruitt began his first year running the EPA by vastly shrinking the agency and trying to destroy any regulations. Because he stopped enforcing civil penalties for companies breaking limits for hazardous chemicals, the amount of fines dropped drastically, about one-fifth of President Obama’s last year.

Pruitt has damaged children’s health and neurodevelopment by returning banned pesticides into the food supply, weakening standards to toxic metals, allowing corporations to release pollutants that increase asthma, permitting implementation of chemicals even if they can be dangerous, and closing an office that tests the effects of chemical exposure.

Pruitt’s drastic attempts to repeal the Clean Power Plan is opposed by a diverse population of coal miners, Missouri grandparents, and Wyoming healthcare workers.

A way for Pruitt to restrict environmental regulations is his proposed policy that all raw data must be made public, and that means personal health information that people want kept private if they participate in studies. Pruitt’s policy will result in narrow, incomplete research. He also ruled that scientists receiving EPA grants may not serve on the agency’s advisory board which blocks expertise about current science. Over 200 scientists left the agency last year. Over 200 scientists left the agency last year.

Pruitt told agency scientists that they cannot speak about climate change. Over 200 scientists left the agency last year. He replaced half the members on a key scientific review board that determines the quality of research.

Last week, Pruitt sent all employees his eight approved talking points about climate change stating that the level of human impact on changing climate is “subject to continuing debate and dialogue.” It added “clear gaps” about the role of human activity “and what we can do about it.”

The EPA programs on climate adaptation and the one that studies effects of chemical exposure on children have been closed, and Pruitt recommends no funding for ones that deal with rising seas and warming temperatures. He also erased climate change from websites.

Pruitt is saving utilities from $31 million and $100 million annually by eliminating rules that tightened restrictions on disposal of coal ash from coal-fired power plants. The toxic heavy metals seep into the groundwater, and living with a mile of a storage pond causes a greater health threat than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Coal ash is the second greatest toxic pollution threat in the U.S.

Pruitt eliminated the policy requiring polluters such as factories and power plants to be designated “major source” after they emit more than 10 tons of hazardous materials or 25 tons of combined dangerous materials in a given year.

Pruitt’s hires are highly questionable. Albert Kelly, banned from working in the banking sector for life, gets $172,000 from the EPA as senior adviser. He has no experience, but he loaned Pruitt money to buy a home and a minor league baseball team when he was an Oklahoma banker. Superviser for superfund cleanups, Kelly has had—and may still have—stocks in Phillips 66, one of the major polluters. Staffers at the EPA also have permission to keep their political consulting side jobs.

Pruitt suggested that global warming—which is causing floods, drought, famine, and war—might be helpful. He also said, “Science should not be something that’s just thrown about to try to dictate policy in Washington, D.C.”

Pruitt has been useful to DDT’s interest in big business and may save his job that way. This past week, he rolled back gas emissions regulations and just signed an executive order giving himself authority to determine regulations near streams, ponds, and wetlands, determining any possible negative environmental effects for projects such a coal refineries and power plants.

In 2016, Pruitt said, “I believe that Donald Trump in the White House will be more abusive to the constitution than Barack Obama and that’s saying a lot.” Pruitt became complicit in DDT’s crimes, but he may be on his way out. Asked about Pruitt yesterday, DDT said, “I hope he’s going to great.”

(If you’re not disgusted yet, Google Scott Pruitt. There’s a lot more, including his history while in Oklahoma.)

January 23, 2018

How DDT Claims to Make U.S. Safe

More news from the last week of Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) of his first year:

DDT’s request for more foreign workers at his winery could benefit from Rep. Bob Goodlatte’s (R-VA) proposed bill deporting all immigrant workers and replacing them with migrant workers who can be exploited by removing benefits such as housing and transportation, gutting protections and drastically lowering wages. Employers could withhold ten percent of wages to deposit them into a U.S. embassy or consulate in the workers’ home countries.

DDT has stopped a program to help health workers and families identify effective substance abuse and behavioral health programs.

Republicans reauthorized the warrantless surveillance act of Section 702 and added warrantless searches of millions of Americans’ online and phone communications. The bill almost failed when DDT heard Andrew Napolitano tell Fox & Friends that Section 702 was responsible for accusing DDT of Russian collusion, and DDT tweeted against it. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) spent 30 minutes on the phone explaining the bill to DDT.

Immigrant-hater Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK), favored by DDT, is threatening dissenting constituents with police action even for written communication.

The Pentagon took climate change from its National Defense Strategy, added in George W. Bush’s 2008 report. The term also disappeared from the list of threats in the National Security Strategy. A 1990 U.S. Naval War College report found that its operations could be greatly affected by global climate change. The world’s largest naval base, Naval Station Norfolk, has routine flooding, even on sunny days, with no plans to fix the problem.

With his new sycophant Mike Mulvaney in charge of the consumer bureau, DDT plans to let the $40 billion payday lending industry prey on the poor after the industry paid $8 million to GOP legislators and part and $1,275,000 to DDT’s inauguration. Mulvaney’s piece to drop payday lending rules got him $55,000 in campaign donations. The Community Financial Services Association of America’s annual conference is scheduled at the Trump National Doral resort in Miami.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) did even better from the new tax bill; he got $1 million–$500,000 from the Koch brothers for saving them 40 percent of their tax bill a special deduction for oil and gas investors and another $500,000 from five other businessmen.

The Supreme Court declared that the redrawing of North Carolina’s GOP-oriented gerrymandered districts on hold during an appeal. In a state with a bare majority for Republicans, they took ten of thirteen House positions in the last election.

A month ago, DDT congratulated the LGBTQ  Log Cabin Republicans on their 40th anniversary and declared them “equal” under the law and the constitution. This week, he continued his persecution of LGBTQ people by promoting the discriminatory practice of healthcare workers denying treatment of LGBTQ patients for moral or religious reasons through a new division of the civil right office. Before President Obama, an ambulance driver’s refusal to take a transgender woman to a hospital led to her death, lesbian couples were denied fertility treatment, and children of same-gender couples were denied health care. The Department of Education is already refusing to hear civil rights complaints from transgender students.

The new guidelines can discriminate against other people, including denying access to abortions, “assisted suicide,” sterilization, in vitro fertilization, contraception, and other “certain health-care services.” Some people have access only to Catholic-based healthcare, which controls over 14 percent of the hospitals in the United States and 40 percent of the hospitals in five states.

The investigation into Russian involvement with DDT still moves forward.

The National Rifle Association is now involved in the Russian connection after the discovery that Russia gave them money in their work to elect DDT. Other suspicious activities are connected to financial activity with Russia during crisis times for that country in Ukraine.

Steve Bannon so infuriated the House Intelligence Committee by saying that the White House wouldn’t let him answer questions that they slapped him with a subpoena on the spot. Only a president can use executive privilege to not answer questions; anyone else must use their 5th Amendment rights. Bannon did slip up and admitted that he talked to Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, and Mark Corallo about Donald Trump, Jr.’s June 2016 meeting with Russians in the Trump Tower. Bannon’s lawyer was on the phone with a White House official during the testimony, possibly an obstruction of justice. Special investigator Robert Mueller also subpoenaed Bannon to testify before a grand jury. Bannon dressed up for his House appearance.

The week’s maybe most bizarre story fits into a thriller novel. Jared Kushner, DDT’s son-in-law, was warned a year ago about his friendship with Wendi Deng Murdoch because she might be using him to promote China’s business interests. Wendi Deng is the ex-wife of Rupert Murdoch, divorced after a purported affair with UK’s former prime minister Tony Blair, and a close friend of Kushner’s wife, Ivanka Trump. Wendy Deng lobbied for a $100 million Chinese garden fewer than five miles from the Capitol and the White House that included a tower tall enough to be used for surveillance. The Wall Street Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch, broke the story.

Appointments:

The good news! Because of his vicious racist, sexist, and homophobic statements, Carl Higbie has resigned as nominee for chief of external affairs for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) that manages programs such as AmeriCorps and other volunteer services.

Kenneth Marcus’ nomination to head up the Office for Civil Rights will have a full vote after the party-line vote of the Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee. Over 200 civil rights organizations opposed his confirmation after his statement that he could not think of any situation in which he would disagree with DDT’s positions on women’s rights or civil rights. Marcus opposes affirmative action and equal opportunity, stating that evidence of racial disparities in student discipline, i.e., black students suffering harsh discipline at much higher rates than white students, comes from paperwork errors. He also supports the reversal of guidance on campus sexual assault and opposes the Commission on Civil Rights’ investigation of human rights violations against the LGBTQ community. The Office for Civil Rights is responsible for protecting students from discrimination.

Ten of 12 members of the National Park Service Advisory Board quit after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke failed to meet with the committee. Created in 1935, the board helps preserve American heritage by designating historic or natural landmarks. Zinke previously disbanded the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council and the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science.

Sexual Misconduct:

Another woman, Alana Evans, has claimed that DDT offered her money to “party.” Recent revelations of cover ups show that DDT is willing to lie about his sexual affairs (a given), making him vulnerable to blackmail and extortion. DDT’s lawyer Michael Cohen paid porn queen Stormy Daniels through a shell company that he created in Delaware.

The Missouri GOP governor in trouble for blackmailing a woman after having an affair with her and then taking nude photographs of her under duress is in more trouble. Eric Greitens refused to resign, despite bipartisan pressure, and used a state-paid lawyer to try to make the problem go away. A GOP state senator tweeted, “Stick a fork in him.”

Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) has been removed from the Ethics Committee after it was reported he used thousands of dollars in taxpayer money to settle a misconduct complaint by a decades-younger former staffer. The Ethics Committee will investigate Meehan.

Tennessee megachurch pastor Andy Savage chuckled through his description of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old congregant and called it consensual and “flirtatious.” His congregation had previously applauded his “confession,” but his publisher pulled his book and he’s on a leave of absence from his pastor position.

Almost 140 girls and women have given testimony against Larry Nassar, USA Gymnastics medical coordinator, in a sentence hearing about his sexual assaults conviction. Nassar, 54, already has a 60-year federal sentence for a child pornography conviction and pled guilty to several state sexual assault charges. An NCAA investigation is exploring why Michigan State refused to address repeated reports of sexual abuse by their former university faculty member and practicing physician at the school’s sports medicine clinic from 1997 until he was fired in 2016. A cross country runner was told that he “knew what he was doing” when he penetrated her vagina for a hamstring “treatment.” All other complaints were dismissed.

The GOP supporting “family values” has gotten rid of one “bad hombre”: Jorge Garcia, brought to the U.S. involuntarily 29 years ago, is married to a U.S. citizen, has two U.S. citizen kids, and has no criminal record. He regularly reported to his ICE check-in and spent $125,000 trying to legally stay in the country. This week ICE deported him on Martin Luther King Jr Day. And he’s not the first in that situation to be separated from his family.

Another loss is Lukasz Niec, 5 years old when his parents brought him and his sister legally to the United States from Poland in 1979, two years before the country’s authoritarian communist government declared martial law. He is married to a U.S. citizen and has visited Poland only once when he was a teenager. With a green card, Niec became a legal permanent resident and a doctor, like both his parents. ICE arrested the 43-year-old man at his home and detained him in a county jail. As a teenager, he had two misdemeanor convictions of malicious destruction of property under $100 and receiving and concealing stolen property over $100. The second offense had been expunged from his criminal record.

DDT: Make our country safe.

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