Nel's New Day

May 17, 2020

Sunday of Week 173 – A Time for Good News

DOJ’s AG Bill Barr use of a request to drop charges against convicted Michael Flynn as a distraction from the failed leadership of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) continues to have twists.  To smear Joe Biden, DDT’s new incompetent acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell made public (unmasked) the names of people in the Obama administration who asked for unmasking the people in intelligence reports related to Flynn. Biden was one of the names although his request was not illegal or inappropriate.

The “unmasking” could make Flynn’s situation worse because of “unmasking” his illegal activities, including his unauthorized conversations about President Obama’s sanctions on December 29—while Barack Obama was still president—with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. Earlier in December, Flynn’s illegal negotiations involved NATO, Syria, Turkey, and UN Ambassador Samantha Power. 

  • December 1, 2016: Flynn’s and Jared Kushner’s meeting with Kislyak at Trump Tower, concealed for over three months, to arrange a back channel with Moscow and set up cooperation with Russia’s diplomatic facilities to cooperate militarily in Syria.
  • Mid-December 2016: Flynn’s acting as a paid lobbyist for the Turkish government, something he lied about, when Barack Obama was still president, and Flynn’s meeting with senior Turkish officials asking to be paid for secretly carrying out directives from Ankara.
  • December 22, 2016:  Flynn’s call to Kislyak at Kushner’s request to undermine U.S. policy by asking if Russia would delay or defeat an upcoming UN Security Council resolution vote condemning Israel’s building of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Grenell is proving charges against Flynn shouldn’t be dropped.

The DOJ did a bit of accidental unmasking.  After hiding the name of a suspected tie to the 9/11 plot for years, the DOJ inadvertently named Saudi official Musaed al-Jarrah in a court filing. Survivors and families of victims wanted the name for their suit against the Saudi government for complicity in the attacks, but Barr refused. Jarrah’s name and other information was redacted in a 2012 document indicating that Jarrah arranged for two other Saudis to help the first two Qaeda hijackers after they arrived in California in early 2000.

A Miami federal judge ordered ICE to release hundreds of detainees at three South Florida detention centers, citing “cruel and unusual punishment” and “deliberate indifference” to the detainees. She demanded a report within three days about a plan to cut the non-criminal and medically vulnerable populations by the hundreds, twice-weekly reports, and masks for all detainees, replaced weekly, within two days. She also wrote:

“Social distancing at Krome is not only practically impossible, the conditions are becoming worse every day. Further, ICE has failed to provide detainees in some detention centers with masks, soap and other cleaning supplies…. Accordingly, there is sufficient evidence in this record to determine that the present conditions at the three detention centers constitute a violation of the Petitioners’ Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights.”

The Miami-Herald reported that ICE segregated up to 100 detainees exposed to COVID-19 with no masks, sanitizer, and possibility of social distancing. Only staff had PPE. A concern is that ICE will transfer detainees to other detention centers to avoid the judge’s orders as the agency started to do when the lawsuit was filed on April 13.

In late April, a federal judge ordered ICE to announce measures expediting the release of parents at family detention centers because facilities lack hygiene and social distancing standards. At that time, about 620 family members, including 285 children, were at three Texas and Pennsylvania facilities. ICE has until tomorrow to identify how many family members and staff tested positive for COVID-19 and why detainee haven’t been released or transferred. The judge also required descriptions of policies and practices to protect infected people from serious illness or death. Four days ago, 943 people out of 1,788 detainees tested for the virus—over half—have tested positive.

A federal judge in Washington, D.C. ordered the White House to give her 20 emails this week directly relating to DDT’s decision to withhold congressionally appropriated military aid from Ukraine. Judge Amy Jackson will review the documents herself to decide whether the plaintiff will receive them.

The full 4th Circuit Court ruled 9-6 that an emoluments case against DDT, accusing him of accepting foreign government money through his Washington hotel, may continue. Only the Supreme Court can rescue DDT from the case proceeding. A judge in the majority accused dissenters of ignoring precedent and procedure with their opinion that they disagree with the case.

DDT’s campaign has paid over $16 million on legal and compliance services for DDT’s lawsuits and cease-and-desist orders, about ten percent of campaign spendings, between the 2018 and 2020 election cycles.

A federal judge upheld his April 15 ruling that rejected permits vital for Keystone XL and other pipeline projects to cross streams and wetlands. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineer cannot use a blanket water-crossing permit to approve new oil and gas pipelines without considering their impacts on endangered species.

Nine states are suing DDT’s administration for the EPA decision to suspend environmental regulations during the coronavirus pandemic, called the “license to pollute” and violates federal pollution laws and the EPA’s duty to protect the environment. The new guidelines have no end date. The lawsuit states that the EPA lacks legal authority to waive laws and failed to demonstrate the need for its changes. The nine states are California, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Virginia.

After two decades, the Ashaninka indigenous group won its case over illegal tree logging in Brazil. The community will receive $3 million in compensation and an official apology. The judgment may serve as a legal precedent for other indigenous and environmental lawsuits in Brazil.

A DDT-appointed judge ruled against a defamation lawsuit by Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-CA) family against Esquire’s report that the Nunes farm had moved from his congressional district to Iowa. For campaign purposes, Nunes claimed that he is a dairy farmer, but his farm is halfway across the continent. Nunes’ suit wanted $77.5 million in damages, and the Nunes family wants $25 million. The judge determined that the suit did not explain inaccuracies and allowed for an amended complaint. Nunes, DDT’s pet who leaked information to him when chairing the House Intelligence Committee, has a large number of lawsuits, but no one knows who is paying for them.

Even a few Republicans are upset about DDT firing another inspector general, State Department’s Steve Linick, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) claims that it attacks democracy. That’s not as much a surprise as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) saying DDT’s reasoning for firing Linick is “simply is not sufficient.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who IG Linick is  investigating for sending his security detail on personal errands for himself and his wife, asked the White House to fire Linick. Grassley said the Congress requires written rationale for firing and “a general lack of confidence simply is not sufficient detail to satisfy Congress.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told CNN’s Jake Tapper that a conversation with DDT made him very comfortable about Linick’s firing but wouldn’t explain what was said. Maybe something about DDT protecting Johnson from charges of selling his stake in his family’s privately held company for millions after Johnson learned from classified briefings about the COVID-19 crisis. 

After calling DDT “evil” during his campaign, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has done a complete 180-degree return to approve of everything that DDT does. One of his major donors disagrees with Graham. Richard Wilkerson, former chair and president of Michelin’s Greenville (SC) North America operations, is supporting Graham’s opponent, Democratic Jamie Harrison, in the 2020 election. Wilkerson commented on Graham’s support of DDT despite DDT’s attacks on former Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):

“What is the character of a man who will not defend his best friend? If he won’t defend John McCain, why would I expect him to defend any of us in South Carolina?”

Wilkerson also wrote about Graham’s endorsing divisiveness, supporting tax cuts for only the wealthiest, attacking public safety, and opposing expansion of unemployment benefits for people losing their jobs from GOP incompetence.

The USDA will spend $470 million to buy surplus foods—vegetables, dairy, seafood, and meat—for distribution to low-income people, keeping the products from being destroyed. The agency finally took action after weeks of complaints about the food being plowed under and thrown away in other ways. In April, the USDA gave $19 billion for the agricultural industry to help food producers–$16 billion of direct payments to farmers.  

Much to the delight of his Florida neighbors, DDT has withdrawn his request for adding a dock to his property because only residential owners can get docks in the interior south Florida waterways. He still has another problem: in 1993, he signed an agreement that Mar-a-Lago would not be his residence when he bought it for a club, and now he’s using the club as his voting address. It’s called voter fraud. To fix the problem, he has to close the club.

October 11, 2019

DDT: Week 142 – For Those Tired of Impeachment News

A public radio program complained today about endless talk about impeachment, which of course comes from the media. Here’s some non-impeachment news about Dictator Donald Trump (DDT).

DDT lost three cases today:

Last week, DDT signed an executive order for a health care mandate—but only for immigrants. He ordered all immigrants who couldn’t pay for their health insurance or didn’t have the insurance to be blocked from entering the U.S. This week, a federal judge followed the Supreme Court ruling against a mandate by temporarily blocking DDT’s “public charge” linking immigrants legal status to use of public benefits. According to DDT’s rule, any immigrant who receiving at least one designated public benefit such as Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, or public housing for over 12 months within three years will denied a green card. The judge ruled that DDT likely exceeded its authority and failed to justify the action. He wrote, “The rule is simply a new agency policy of exclusion in search of a justification.” All U.S. citizens are left to getting their health care through GoFundMe sites, forgoing medications, and sometimes just die.

In Texas, a federal judge ruled DDT’s proclamation of a national emergency on the southern border is illegal and blocked his diversion of funding for a border wall. The judge gave El Paso standing to sue DDT and his Cabinet because their acts and rhetoric caused the county to suffer “reputational and economic injuries.”

A third federal decision in a third state ruled that DDT’s accounting firm must turn over his financial records requested by the House Oversight and Reform Committee. The one dissenting person on the three-person appeals court said that the House should impeach DDT to get the records, demonstrating approval of the impeachment process in contradiction to DDT’s legal team. The dissenting judge was appointed by DDT.

The cases follow an earlier decision this week declaring that DDT doesn’t not have total immunity and that he’s not above the law.

Three important people resigned today:

DDT’s Fox polls regarding impeachment looked very bad for him, AG Bill Barr talked to owner Rupert Murdoch, and chief news anchor Shep Smith left his job within 36 hours after 23 years with Fox. Hmm.  

After being acting DHS Secretary for fewer than six months, Kevin McAleenan left in the same way that his predecessor, Kirstjen Nielsen, did in April. DDT used the “more time with his family” excuse, but DDT, worried about McAleenan’s “loyalty,” has been unhappy him and not appointed him for a permanent position. A replacement might be Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, who has a contentious relationship with the Senate, making confirmation difficult.

Michael McKinley, senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is also gone because of consistently deteriorating moral in the agency from Pompeo’s refusal to support his personnel. McKinley has had a wide range of diplomatic posts in South America, Asia, and the Middle East. Talking about professional blocked from “doing the right thing,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said, “[People] are not going to put up with this anymore and can’t look the other way.”

After DDT pulled out 50 service members protecting Kurds from Turkey, claiming to stop the U.S. from “senseless wars,” he sent 1,800 military members to protect Saudi Arabia, supposedly to deter Iranian aggression. Another 14,000 U.S. service members have been sent to the Middle East since the spring, including over 6,000 part of a naval strike group led by the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. Defense Secretary Mark said he may send more troops. He said that U.S. troops were removed from Syria to keep them from a dispute between Turkey and the Kurds.

In another stupid military decision, DDT considers withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty: participating countries must notify other nations 72 hours before an observational flight and give the “host country” one day to respond. Russia and the U.S. joined 32 countries for this treaty promoting transparency.

After a 30-month investigation, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan report about Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and its ongoing efforts to control the current one. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has consistently fought to allow this continuing interference. For DDT’s second presidential campaign, Mark Zuckerberg is allowing lies on Facebook—this time with DDT-paid attack ads against Joe Biden—aimed at electing DDT. The campaign is also paying millions of dollars for anti-impeachment ads, again with falsehoods.

DDT and new Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia want wait-people to keep their $2.13 minimum wage, compared to $7.25 for other people, while doing duties that keep them from getting enough tips to make up the difference between the two wage levels.

Conservative abstinence-only policies and DDT’s defunding of free test clinics combined to raise cases of STDs—syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia—to a record high last year. With the 71-percent increase in syphilis cases since 2014 came a 22-percent raise from 2017 in newborn deaths related to congenital syphilis.

An eight-year-old girl climbed a replica of DDT’s wall that he called “virtually impenetrable” in less than a minute using only a belay designed to catch a falling climber. An adult went over the wall in 40 seconds. The video is here

DDT has given the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, to former AG Ed Meese, who makes current AG Bill Barr look honest. Meese barely survived confirmation because of accusations of poor ethical standards and failure to enforce civil rights laws. Before his seven years in Ronald Reagan’s administration, he was known for arranging jobs for those who did him financial favors and receiving special treatment from government agencies in his business affairs. He participated in the Iran-Contra scandal when the U.S. sold weapons to Iran as a way to finance Nicaraguan Contra rebels. In his investigation Meese failed to notify Congress about his investigation, failed to protect National Security Council documents, and failed to take notes during his interviews. No charges were filed after an investigation into his possible involvement of a coverup.

Other investigations concerned filing a false tax return, bribing the Israel Labor Party to not destroy a $1 billion pipeline from Jordan to Iraq, and having stock in a telephone company while reviewing telecommunications policy when AG. Meese was also involved in a scam about the allocation of U.S. military contracts to a New York company called Wedtech. As AG in 1985, he opposed the 1966 Miranda ruling that allowed a suspect’s right to remain silent and have an attorney during police questioning. The medal was awarded on the same day that DDT violated the law by blocking all House-issued subpoenas for himself and everyone else.  

The mass school shooting last year in Parkland (FL) caused CEO Edward Stack of Dick’s Sporting Goods to stop selling firearms to anyone under 21 and banned the sale of military-style rifles because the Dick’s had sold the killer a shotgun. Now Dick’s is destroying $5 million worth of assault weapons, turning them into scrap metal. The father of Stack, a staunch Second Amendment supporter, started Dick’s as a fish-and-tackle shop in 1948.

Last year, after the Republicans passed a massive tax cut for the wealthy and big businesses, the nation’s richest 400 billionaire families paid a lower tax rate than the working class, according to The Triumph of Injustice  by economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman. The ultrarich paid 23 percent, over one full percent less than the 24.2 percent paid by the bottom half of U.S. households. The study compares the totality of taxes paid—not only federal taxes but also corporate taxes, and those paid at the state and local levels, and “indirect taxes” such as licenses for motor vehicles and businesses. The top 400 families have more wealth than the bottom 60 percent of households, while the top 0.1 percent own as much as the bottom 80 percent.

As if the national debt didn’t take a big enough hit from the 2017 tax cuts for the wealthiest, DDT wants to remove regulations that allow corporations to pay less tax by sending profits overseas. The scam is to inflate foreign profit, frequently taxed below the current 21 percent U.S. tax.  Former Goldman Sachs banker and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin calls the repeal of regulations “business-friendly.” At the same time, DDT wants to cut food stamps to save money.

The 2017 tax law capping federal deductions for state and local property and income taxes at $10,000 a year and elimination of some mortgage interest deductions have dropped house prices by about four percent. That means house owners have less equity in their homes, and 80 percent of the people in the U.S. are paying higher taxes to give to the rich.

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