Nel's New Day

October 18, 2022

News Bits – October 18, 2022

Deposed Donald Trump (DDT) is driving the media while President Joe Biden quietly works toward peace in the world. One of his recent accomplishments is negotiating an agreement between Israel and Lebanon to identify their maritime boundary. At war since 1948, the two countries have sometimes had military conflict, most recently in 2006, partly because of their lack of internationally recognized borders on land and on sea, a problem especially because of the large natural gas fields off their coasts. Progress was difficult because the countries’ officials refused to be in the same room, and Lebanon does no recognize Israel as a country.

Amos J. Hochstein, presidential coordinator for energy security, began diplomacy at the beginning of the year, commuting between Tel Aviv to Beirut through a third country because Israel and Lebanon have no direct air of road links.  He used the approach of how both countries could safeguard their vital interests, and both made concessions. Both sides called the deal “historic” as former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, trying to regain power in the November 1 election, said it was a “disgraceful surrender.” DDT’s former negotiator also attacked the agreement. With the countries at war, this agreement was more remarkable than DDT’s Abraham Accord in which three Arab states—the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco—recognized Israel because the three countries weren’t at war with Israel. Proof that diplomacy pays.

The federal website to apply for relief from student debt opened on October 17, an act that could directly help 43 million people in the U.S. and others connected to them as debt relief frees up family resources. Within a day, over 8 million people completed the application requiring five minutes.

Thanks to another Biden action, people can also save as much as $3,000 with hearing aids now available over the counter.

Earlier this month, Biden issued restrictions on selling semiconductors and chip-making equipment to China, blocking them from critical technologies from supercomputing to guiding weapons. The purpose is to delay Chinese military programs for nuclear blasts, hypersonic weapons, and surveillance. Companies selling advanced chips and chip-making equipment will need a special license given out on a case-by-case procedure.

After Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Hondo plans to build a $4.2 billion electric vehicle battery plant forty miles from Columbus (OH), creating 2,200 manufacturing jobs. Since Biden’s inauguration, the U.S. has added 620,000 manufacturing jobs. By August 2020, DDT had lost 237,000 manufacturing jobs among the total 3.1 million jobs that disappeared during his four years.

Republicans voted against Biden’s infrastructure bills, calling them “socialist,” but returned home to take credit for the funding given to their states. Biden’s response: “I didn’t know there were that many socialist Republicans.”

Fox network continually searches for ways to shame Biden. A recent one is Biden’s telling his son Hunter Biden that he loves him when Hunter was struggling with drug addiction. Sean Hannity played a private voicemail Biden left for Hunter in which Biden first expressed his love for his son and then said, “You gotta get some help. I don’t know what to do. I know you don’t either.” Hannity asked people to “imagine how the mob and the media” would cover the situation if DDT expressed the same sentiment. Maybe with some appreciation for the man?

Biden has never tried to hide his son’s addiction and isn’t embarrassed about loving his children. Yet Hannity whines about “attacks” on Herschel Walker, GOP candidate for Georgia’s U.S. Senate, the man who rejected his three illegitimate children, incessantly lied, considered killing a man in road rage, and threatened to kill his wife and another son. Oh yes, and denied paying for his girlfriend’s abortion and claimed not to know her, the mother of one of his children.

New discoveries about the past administration:

In its third installment, the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis report specified DDT’s administrative undermining “the scientific integrity of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) coronavirus response in an attempt to serve the former President’s political goals.” The first installment addressed DDT’s attachment to the deadly “herd immunity via mass infection strategy,” and the second gave evidence of his high pressure campaigns on the CDC COVID decision-making and change scientific reasons. Part of Chairman James Clyburn’s (D-SC) statement:

“The previous administration engaged in an unprecedented campaign of political interference in the federal government’s pandemic response, which undermined public health to benefit the former president’s political goals… President Trump and his top aides repeatedly attacked CDC scientists, compromised the agency’s public health guidance, and suppressed scientific reports in an effort to downplay the seriousness of the coronavirus. This prioritization of politics, contempt for science, and refusal to follow the advice of public health experts harmed the nation’s ability to respond effectively to the coronavirus crisis and put Americans at risk.”

The report contains details of the above statement as well as how DDT used the pretense of a virus spread to close the southern border in the Title 42 order and blackmailed CDC into wasting hundreds of millions of dollars from its budget for DDT’s celebrity vanity campaign leading up to the November 2020 election. CDC said that accurate scientific advice to the public would have stopped some of the COVID deaths.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/10/17/trump-secret-service-hotel-rates-records/     Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, has records proving the Trump Organization charged the Secret Service agents assigned to protect him “exorbitant rates”—up to $1,185 per night—to stay at his properties, amounting to $1.4 million over four years. DDT promised that federal employees traveling with him would stay at his properties “free” or “at cost,” but DDT’s business charged the Secret Service over the government rate at least 40 times from January 2027 to September 2021. Some of the charges were for DDT’s family as in the nightly rate of $1,160 at the Washington, D.C. Trump hotel to protect Eric Trump when he promoted a golf tournament at the Trump National Golf Club.

During his term, DDT visited his own properties over 500 times and continues to take security with him after he left the White House. (To make John Malone, DDT supporter and board member of CNN’s parent company Warner Bros, happy, CNN tried to show that Biden took off more time than DDT but deflated DDT’s days off work and playing golf without discussing DDT’s expenditures in the article.) 

Maloney wrote to Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle, demanding a full accounting of what taxpayers have paid DDT’s business in the past and continue to pay. Cheatle replaces DDT-appointee James Murray who retired under a scandal of missing text message during the January 6 insurrection when the 27-year veteran of the agency returned from her job as senior director at PepsiCo North America overseeing facilities, personnel, and business continuity. Since her return, over one million texts and cellphone messages appeared.

In another probe, the House January 6 investigative committee is asking Cheatle about contacts between Secret Service agents and members of the far-right Oath Keepers group. Court testimony has revealed that Oath Keepers, including leader Stewart Rhodes, claimed to be in contact with the agents before the rallies, one of them giving advice on what weapons they could take to the rally.

In the second and last trial by John Durham, the special counsel investigating the special counsel Robert Mueller probing Russian interference into DDT’s 2016 campaign, the defendant has been acquitted of lying to the FBI about his sources. Appointed by AG Bill Barr before the 2020 election, Durham’s claims about private researcher Igor Danchenko for the Steele dossier about DDT’s Russian connections lacked evidence. During the hearing, Durham became confrontational and aggressive with his own witnesses, FBI counterintelligence supervisor and agent, who described Danchenko as a trusted source of information on Russian influence.

Durham’s first trial led also to an acquittal, and no one else is charged from Durham’s probe, his grand jury is inactive, and Durham will likely be pressured to wrap up his work after failing to achieve DDT’s claim of discovering “the crime of the century.”

The FBI promised Danchenko he would be protected by keeping his identity secret, but DDT’s allies exposed him. A witness testified that AG Bill Barr damaged national security when he gave a declassified redacted report of his interview with Danchenko to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who shared it with the world in an attempt to prove the corruption of the Russian investigation.

New Jersey is suing five major oil and gas companies and a leading fossil fuel lobby group for knowingly lying to the public about the existence of climate change and the role their products play in exacerbating human-caused global heating as far back as the 1970s. Dozens of states and cities have already filed similar lawsuits against fossil fuel corporations. New Jersey’s lawsuit is on the tenth anniversary of Superstorm Sandy which killed 38 people in the state and caused about $30 billion in damage.

Two strange stories from last summer. Deutsche Telkom AG, parent company of T-Mobile, trademarked the color magenta, declaring ownership over them and banning any other business from using them, after making them synonymous with a brand. And only 1,867 solid Pantone colors exist, and pink is already taken by Owens-Corning followed by green-gold by Qualitex. Etc. Trademarks must be renewed every ten years. Ohio University has also trademarked the word “THE,” covering “clothing, namely, t-shirts, baseball caps and hats; all of the foregoing being promoted, distributed, and sold through channels customary to the field of sports and collegiate athletics.”

It’s a crazy world.

June 13, 2021

The Polarization of Religion

Until the last half century, Christian religions in the U.S. believed in the separation of church and state: they ran their religions and let government run the country. Until the 1970s, evangelical Christians focused on piety, but secular political activists began working with the rising generation of evangelical leaders such as James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, and Billy Graham. Their desire for power led them to support a twice-married man whose children were alienated instead of an evangelical progressive president for their next leader. Since then, conservatives calling themselves the “Moral Majority” have lost the meaning of “moral” and shrinking enough that the “majority” is disappearing.

These are some recent examples of how conservatives care nothing about morality if they can control the government. Their disregard for the following the ethics of Christianity, however, may be losing membership for conservative Christianity.

People of Praise, the small offshoot of the Catholic Church, is under investigation for sexual misconduct. DDT’s Justice Amy Coney Barrett is a member. In December, a woman reported to the police about her high school physics teacher at the religion’s school sexually assaulting her in 2001 when she was 17. She reported the assault to the school dean five years later. The teacher remained for another five years, despite the dean believing the girl and telling another school official, until the teacher was hired to lead a Phoenix (AZ) charter school, Great Hearts Academies, that didn’t ask for his employment record. He returned to the Minneapolis area in another four year and became headmaster of another Christian school. Last month, the school, Chesterton Academy of the Twin Cities, announced the teacher was taking an indefinite leave of absence because of the sexual assault allegation. Other former members of the religion have reported assault and physical abuse. After Barrett was nominated for the Supreme Court, they formed a private Facebook group. With a membership of 1,700, the People of Praise can’t afford to lose any members.

The Southern Baptist Church, with the largest denomination among Protestants, is suffering the same polarization as political groups—arguments about racism, requirements for political loyalty, etc. As in the government, conservatives fear the groups has gone too far to the left from the Bible’s strict authority as well as concern with racism and gender issues. They want to take over complete power at the upcoming week’s meeting of 16,000 Southern Baptist pastors and leaders in Nashville (TN). They expressed other concerns such as suitability of women giving sermons, treatment of sexual abuse, and the dangers of “critical race theory” allowing history and other information about racism.

The fight using leaked letters and whistle-blower recorders has continued for weeks. Relative moderates such as Russell Moore and (no relation) Beth Moore (no relation to Russell) have left, and conservatives rejoiced at their absences. The conservative campaign of “take the ship” is using T-shirts with the slogan and car flags with a pirate image. Southern Baptists are back to their “roots,” splitting from the Northern members in 1845 because of the SBC’s support for slavery. In the 1990s, the church tried diversification, and the current president, J.D. Greear, encouraged the church’s membership to assert “Black lives matter” in the past year. Ordaining women as staff pastors may have driven conservatives over the edge.

Conservatives urge their leadership to attend next week’s meeting and elect a conservative president. His election may drive off more members because conservatives can try to block any mention of CRT and ignore sexual abuse within the church. Two years ago, the Southern Baptists promised to address sexual abuse within its congregations, but nothing has changed. The conservatives’ choice for president has been accused of blocking attempts to root out abusers and stop “bullying and intimidation” toward sexual abuse survivors.

In a closed meeting, one of the conservatives said that their need to “preserve their base” overrides working against sexual abuse. The church’s “base” has shrunk for 13 straight years, down to 14.5 million in two years by 287,000 members, partly caused by conservatives worshipping the cult of DDT.  

This month, Pope Francis expanded rules in the Catholic Church against sexual abuse to criminalize sexual abuse of adults by priests and laypeople with power in the church. The Catholic Church has had difficulty adjudicating child abuse, but the sexual abuse against adults can be even harder. In the past, Church law considered sexual relationships between priests and consenting adults sinful but not criminal. Priests were rarely removed from their position.

Although the pope’s new rule appears to be positive, at least a dozen priests accused of abuse have been sent back to their parishes or to new positions within the Church, some of them after the Vatican overturned recommendations from local dioceses. Chicago priest Michael Pfleuger was reinstated after multiple accusations of sexual abuse. One of his accusers called it “a cover-up because of his popularity” and described Pfleuger’s abuse. Investigating boards claimed they found no evidence although they didn’t talk to the priests’ victims.

Texas has a new church, the “Rod of Iron Ministries,” for those who want to worship guns, preferably AR-15s. It plans to provide sanctuary for “patriots” from the war they believe will come from the “deep state.” The leader of the “Sanctuary Church,” is Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon, son of Sun Myung who founded the Unification Church. Their followers were nicknamed the “Moonies.” The younger Moon said the new church’s name comes from the Book of Revelation stating Jesus used a “rod of iron” to protect himself and others, which Moon took to mean the AR-15. Co-founder of the church is Moon’s brother, Kook-jin “Justin” Moon, the CEO of nearby gun manufacturing company Kahr Arms.

Former Moonies are horrified with the new church, saying “these people are just getting crazier and crazier… I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”  [Visual – Moon]  Follower Nicholas Skulstad was arrested last month for allegedly ramming his car repeatedly into a New York Department of Transport vehicle in Westchester, New York, smashing its window, and attacking officers at the scene. He screamed, “I’m Jesus Christ! You are going to die today! Are you ready to die?” His car contained a “List-to-Kill” of current and former public officials and other figures. Earlier he told people the COVID vaccine was the “mark of the beast” and talked about the coming “purge” to eradicate everyone who “commits evil, like pedophiles.”

Echoing Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been voted out of power, in his case after a 12-year rule. The event took two years and four elections, but the center joined the left in Parliament for a 60 to 59 vote. Unlike the U.S., violence has not yet erupted, but members of the ultra-Orthodox parties loudly heckled the new administration. Netanyahu promised to overturn the election, like DDT, and his loss of the office leaves him open to legal problems after being indicted for bribery and corruption.

While in office, DDT tried to restructure the Middle East under the control of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Netanyahu. The triad would overrule a 1994 peace treaty between Jordan and Israel that would force Jordan out of overseer of Jerusalem’s Christian and Muslim holy sites. Kushner deliberately ignored history to overlook religion of the past by creating an economic alliance. The plan has currently failed: DDT and Netanyahu are both gone, MBS is out of favor with the white House, and Jordan has regained power, visiting the White House this summer.  

Christian-nationalists believe that God’s will should control the U.S. and anyone not Christian in the “right” way or won’t conform to their agenda is illegitimate. Thus overthrowing an election is justifiable. Less than a year ago, 68 percent of white evangelicals believed that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were divinely inspired; the figure increased to 74 percent within six months. Another 68 percent believe that the January 6 insurrection was caused by Black Lives Matter and Antifa. According to a recent study, 27 percent of white evangelicals, more than any other religious group, believe QAnon beliefs are “mostly true.” And 67 percent of evangelicals think DDT’s loss was “not at all fair.”

Polling on QAnon believers from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Interfaith Youth Core:

By party: 23 percent of Republicans, 12 percent of independents, and 7 percent of Democrats support QAnon conspiracy theories.

Overall: 14 percent of Americans believe in QAnon, 46 percent reject it outright, and 40 percent are doubters but don’t rule it all out.

Specific questions increased the percentage to 15 or 20 percent:  A group of Satan-worshipping pedophile and child sex traffickers control the U.S. media, government, and financial worlds;  if a storm will soon sweep away the elites and restore the rightful leaders (20 percent); and true American patriots may have to resort to violence” to save America.

“Things have gotten so off track, true American patriots may have to resort to violence in order to save our country,” according to 28 percent of Republicans.   

Cicadas return every 17 years, flying around and sometimes landing on people. When one landed on President Joe Biden’s neck as he was leaving for the G7 summit, QAnon went crazier. The cicada was a secret sign about big things to happen.

Child (nymph) + underground + 17 = pedophiles operating an underground sex-trafficking ring because Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet.

It’s Sunday, and here is religion in the United States.  

May 21, 2021

U.S. Involvement in Israel/Palestine Combat

After 11 days of Hamas-fired rockets and Israeli shelling destroying much of Palestinian infrastructure and killing 232 Palestinians, an Egypt-brokered ceasefire stopped—at least briefly—firing on both sides. Israel’s security cabinet unanimously approved the ceasefire, and Hamas agreed “as long as the occupation is committed.” Twelve Israelis died from the rocketing in the 11 days, including two children; Israel killed at least 65 Palestinian children. 

Hamas said that Israel had granted concessions on several points, but Israel said it only agreed to stop military operations. Israel Defenses said that the 200 hours of bombardment had succeeded in degrading the Hamas’ capability in Gaza. Devastated electricity and water systems are producing a humanitarian crisis, and Israel blocked trucks carrying medical supplies and relief workers into Gaza to help injured Palestinians. (Israel blames Hamas attacks for blocking the trucks.) Shelling also damaged the health and sewage systems, closed schools for 600,000 students, and displaced almost 100,000 people from their homes. 

After defending Israel’s attacks, President Joe Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday that he “expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire.” The demand was a huge change from the previous administration giving Netanyahu anything he wanted. With a weak leadership in Israel’s parliament, Netanyahu is caught between needing the U.S. as an ally and the appearance of strength for his right-wing base. U.S. gives over $3 billion a year to Israel and is poised to sell Israel with $735 million of precision-guided weapons. Congress could block this sale, and members of Congress are pointing out that the U.S. knows its sale of billions of dollars of weapons to Israel will be used to displace and kill Palestinians.

Immediately after Biden asked Netanyahu for a “vital de-escalation,” Israel fired on a “variety of targets” in Lebanon. This past week Palestinian workers in Israel and occupied territories went on strike. Violence erupted in cities while stores were shuttered. Palestinians represent 20 percent of the Israeli population in a system of apartheid denying the same rights to Palestinians as to Jews.

Before the 11-day combat, unemployment in Gaza was about 50 percent, and everything going in and out of Gaza, including electricity and fuel, was controlled by Israeli and Egyptian governments. Israel also controls Gaza’s airspace, maritime access, and cellular data as well as restricts Palestinian access to farmland beside Gaza’s perimeter.

Journalists are targets for Israelis: an airstrike killed Palestinian Yusef Abu Hussein in his home and Reema Saad, four months pregnant, with her four-year-old son. Last weekend on the Jewish Sabbath, the military deliberately destroyed the building housing the Associated Press Gaza bureau and other news agencies. Israeli airstrikes damaged or destroyed the offices of at least 18 media outlets. For almost a week, Israel refused to process applications for journalists to cover the conflict, leaving them unsure of when news agencies not already on the ground of when they could be permitted entry. If the AP had not been in Gaza when its building was blown up, it could not get into the area. The AP can continue reporting, but its president described the effect of Israel’s destroying the building where the news agency had a bureau for 15 years:

“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today.”

Israel’s autocratic behavior mimics the attitude of media-freedom abuse from the previous U.S. administration, and Biden’s administration must now address a principle of free expression and the anti-media sentiment developed during the past four years.

The combat was triggered by Israel’s refusal to permit Palestinians into Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque and its eviction of Palestinian families from their area in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Israeli law allows Jews to reclaim property they or families owned in Jerusalem before the division of the city into quarters before 1948 if they can prove their ownership, yet 750,000 displaced Palestinians cannot claim rights to property in Jerusalem or other parts of Israel, even if they prove ownership. Thus non-Jewish families are being evicted. Most countries do not recognize Israel’s sovereignty in East Jerusalem and claim that evictions violate international law.

Israeli security forces confronted Palestinian civilians on the most important night of their religious celebration of Ramadan, Laylat-al-Qadr, causing clashes at the Noble Sanctuary, the Temple Mount sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Surrounding countries—Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates—all made official statements of concern or condemnation. Yet the Arab countries all want continued diplomatic, commercial, and security cooperation with Israel.

U.S. presidents generally avoid the issue of Israeli settlements. President George H.W. Bush tried to stop loan guarantees to Israel if the country didn’t stop building settlements, and President Barack Obama pushed Netanyahu into a hiatus of settlement building. Yet, neither Bush nor Obama took action to bring Israel’s growing annexation, violating international law, to any end.

Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) assigned his son-in-law Jared Kushner to make peace between Israel and Palestine. Six months before DDT left the White House, he announced peace in the Middle East with the Abraham Accords agreement between Israel and four Arab countries—but no input from Palestine. The announcement of the deal in August 2020 promised the end of Israel’s annexation of Palestine’s West Bank, but the arrangement was only a business transaction to give Netanyahu everything he wanted.

The United Arab Emirates would invest in Israeli hi-tech firms, manufacturing, healthcare, and agriculture while cooperating on military production. Bahrain and Sudan also benefit, and the agreement causes problems in violating international law and diplomacy by recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara in opposition by the people of that territory. The arrangement also complicates U.S. relationships with Algeria, which supports Western Sahara’s right to self-determination, and North Africa. Palestine, however, is left to the mercy of Israel’s systematic ethnic cleansing while Israel expels Palestinians from their homes and ignores the needs of the other countries in the agreement. Close connections between Kushner and his family with Jewish investments guaranteed favoritism for Israel.

U.S. citizens are large donors to the non-profit Central Fund of Israel funneling money to the Israel Land Fund, which purchases land in Palestinian neighborhoods throughout occupied East Jerusalem to sell to Jewish settlers. These donors receive tax deductions to promote apartheid in the West Bank, giving over $220 million from 2009 to 2013 to Israeli settler organizations. The movement of Jewish settlers into Palestinian land is part of the plan to create Jewish dominance over Palestinians and destroy any hope of a Palestinian state with a capital in part of Jerusalem.

While in the White House, DDT favored not only Netanyahu but also all efforts to destroy Palestine. He removed any financial aid from Palestinians while declaring Jerusalem, belonging to different countries, the “capital” of Israel by moving the U.S. embassy there. He supported Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and provide aid to Israel. Over a year ago, DDT exhibited how much he was willing to give Netanyahu with his “deal of the century” between Israel and Palestine: Israel wins and Palestine loses in a deal with no Palestinian input.

A February decision by the International Criminal Court (ICC) could cause problems for Israel with a ruling that ICC has jurisdiction over war crimes in Palestinian territories committed by Israel and Hamas. Netanyahu rejects the jurisdiction, but Palestinian officials welcome the news. Israel could face charges for the Gaza Strip blockade, settlement policies in which Jews occupy Palestinian land, and the number of Israel attacks against the Palestinians.

For the first time in a conflict between Palestine and Israel, the Democratic party is not acting in concert to support Israel. An authority in the continuing battle between Palestine and Israel, Sahar Aziz, explains that the change comes from the growing understanding in the U.S. of systemic racist oppression from the Black Lives Matter movement, particularly among the younger generation. Like Blacks, Native Americans, and Muslims, Palestinians have been demonized and dehumanized with impunity.

Between 2001 and 2011, over 50 percent of people in the U.S. had sympathies toward Israel compared with under 20 percent for Palestinians. The percentage began to equalize at 25 percent among Democrats in 2018 although Republican voters’ sympathy for Israel stayed at 79 percent. DDT’s xenophobic rhetoric along with the increasing videoed murders of unarmed Black men by police officers pushed a progressive, anti-racist movement among Democrats. By last March, 53 percent of Democrat wished the U.S. government to pressure Israel into compromising about Palestine.

On May 13, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), the first Palestinian elected to Congress, said, “We must with no hesitation demand that our country recognize the unconditional support of Israel has enabled the erasure of Palestinian life.” Twenty-one House members now co-sponsor the bill “Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation.” It would create more oversight and restrictions on Israel’s use of U.S. foreign aid. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) succinctly explained the bill’s objective:

“Not one dollar more of US military aid can be used to demolish Palestinian homes, annex Palestinian lands, and torture or kill Palestinian children.”

Traditionally, such statements are associated with anti-Semitism, but an anti-racist movement is developing an understanding of Palestinian oppression in at least one U.S. political party.

April 15, 2021

Biden’s Foreign Policy, Domestic Terrorism

While Republicans complain about President Joe Biden’s inaction and lack of lying bombast exhibited by Deposed Donald Trump (DDT), Biden is quietly strengthening U.S. foreign policy.

Today Biden sanctioned 40 Russian groups and individuals for the Russian major cyber espionage operation, operations to elect DDT in the past two presidential elections, the massive Russian buildup on the Ukrainian border, and Russia’s ongoing occupation and “severe human rights abuses” in Crimea. He blocked U.S. financial institutions from purchasing bonds from Russia’s Central Bank, National Wealth Fund, and Ministry of Finance after June 14 and from lending money to these institutions. Biden also expelled ten people from Washington’s Russian diplomatic mission and considers sanctions on Russia’s sovereign debt. He now proposes a summit where the U.S. and Russia can discuss these problems.

Republicans yell and whine about election fraud, but reports show DDT’s 2016 campaign manager in frequent, covert contact with a Chinese intelligence officer, once his business associate. Paul Manafort passed internal polling data to the operative who asked him to support a proposal to allow Chinese success in the South China Sea territorial disputes. Biden sanctioned the operative Konstantin Kilimnik, identified as a “Russian and Ukrainian political consultant and known Russian Intelligence Services agent implementing influence operations on their behalf.” Manafort promoted the lie, still pushed by GOP congressional members, that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election on DDT’s behalf. The FBI has a reward of $250,000 for Kilimnik’s arrest. DDT pardoned Manafort and freed him from prison. 

Kilimnik’s information from Manafort went through a secret pipeline, perhaps used throughout DDT’s four-year term, directly to Russian intelligence to defeat Hillary Clinton. A Senate Intelligence Committee report, endorsed by Republicans, marked him a “grave counterintelligence threat.” Secretary of State Antony echoed the Senate report by repeating the U.S. intelligence report that Russia “presents one of the most serious intelligence threats to the United States.”

This week, Biden also gave September 11, 2021, as the deadline for removing the last 2,500 U.S. military members from Afghanistan. He selected the 20th anniversary of the foreign terrorist attack on U.S. soil killing 3,000 people which led George W. Bush to start the “military mission” in the Middle East costing U.S. taxpayers almost $7 trillion. Biden said he will not pass the war to a fifth president and is following DDT’s agreement with the Taliban to withdraw troops.

Today Secretary of State Antony Blinken followed Biden’s announcement with a surprise visit to Afghan leaders in Kabul and repeated the U.S. commitment to helping their government. He emphasized counter-terrorism cooperation and “protecting the rights of women and girls,” according to a department announcement.

Biden has also sent an unofficial delegation to Taiwan as “an important signal about the U.S. commitment to Taiwan and its democracy,” according to an official. Last week, the USS John S. McCain went through the Taiwan Strait, and the carrier Theodore Roosevelt went to the South China Sea for “routine operations.” China typically protests the U.S. being in those international waters, especially with its support for Taiwan.

Biden plans to meet Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, hoping for a joint statement supporting Taiwan and discussing China’s treatment of Muslims in Xinjiang and influence over Hong Kong. Japan and the U.S. have not had a joint statement about Taiwan for over 50 years. The meeting prefaces one in May with Biden and South Korea’s President Moon Jae about managing China’s rising power and that of North Korea with the help of the Quad—Australia, India, Japan, and North Korea.

A U.S. negotiating team in Vienna led by Robert Malley is working with Iran representatives to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement. Initially, they are working on the over 700 sanctions imposed by DDT to permanently destroy the deal. In efforts to scuttle any deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed pleasure when opposing Israelis reportedly bombed an Iranian nuclear facility. If Biden succeeds in redeeming the agreement, he plans to “expand and strengthen” the pact by covering Iran’s militant activities and missile program to obtain support from congressional opposition. Iran may hold off until after their elections in June.

Today, Inspector General Michael Bolton testified before the House Administration Committee about the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and argued for a campus security overhaul. He said a deputy assistant chief of police told officers not to use any weapons including stingballs and 40mm launchers, weapons that could have helped them protect the Capitol. Thus far, one task force and over one-half dozen congressional committees have started investigations into why law enforcement failed to prevent the insurrection when hundreds of DDT’s supporters invaded and vandalized the Capitol building to stop the certification of Biden as the legal president.

Bolton, who may have the most complete examination of problems permitting the Capitol Police to be overrun by “deficiencies,” will continue the probe for several more months. He has already provided Congress with two interim reports about the lack of security clearances, personnel, equipment, and training to respond to these attacks. Calling for a “cultural change,” Bolton said law enforcement at the Capitol must move from the “traditional posture of a police department” to “a protection agency” focusing on preventing events like the January 6 riot. Preparation of a supplemental spending package for reforms of campus security will also use an evaluation from retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré requested by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA), in addition to Bolton’s recommendation to invest funding in training. That activity would include gathering, analyzing, and assessing intelligence for responses to future threats.

Following TheDonald.win before the Capitol attack would have made the high danger of violence on January 6 obvious. Participants covered ways to bring guns into D.C., quantity of ammunition, legal weapons such as stun guns and small knives, methods of attacking police officers with flagpoles and other objects, the best type of zip ties to use on congressional members certifying Biden’s election, and discussions of building the most effective gallows for use on disloyal congressional members according to the attackers. “Camarokirk” preferred a guillotine because it’s “more scary.” A dissenter brought up the problem of how “to get that big blade into town,” and the gallows the insurrectionists actually built, intended for VP Mike Pence, cost only $200. Many of the violent ideas on the website came to fruition on January 6 with right-wing domestic terrorists disrupting the presidential vote certification.

DDT encouraged the violence as shown by this tweet on December 19: 

 “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!”

Website users traded maps, travel information, money, hotel recommendations, and organizations of cross-country caravans. Also available on the website were diagrams of the tunnel systems below the Capitol complex and ways of creating a “wall of death” by pushing the mob forward, forcing police to give up their positions.

A recent report shows that DDT, who told his conservative terrorist Proud Boys to “stand by” in his first presidential debate with Biden, is completely wrong in his obsession about the “left-wing problem” of domestic terrorism. Asked at the debate about white supremacists and fringe militia groups, he saw them as political allies and then pushed the far-left menace as being the danger. According to information from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the new highs of domestic terrorism events are chiefly driven by white-supremacist, anti-Muslim, and anti-government extremists on the far right. The surge is the worst since the 1990s. The WaPo reported:

“Since 2015, right-wing extremists have been involved in 267 plots or attacks and 91 fatalities, the data shows. At the same time, attacks and plots ascribed to far-left views accounted for 66 incidents leading to 19 deaths…. More than a quarter of right-wing incidents and just under half of the deaths in those incidents were caused by people who showed support for white supremacy or claimed to belong to groups espousing that ideology, the analysis shows.”

The most common targets in these far-right events are mosques, synagogues, Black churches, abortion clinics, and government buildings, which have been “threatened, burned, bombed and hit with gunfire over the past six years.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Mark Warner (D-VA) announced his panel would do a “significant dive” into domestic anti-government extremists, including radicalized groups’ possible connections to foreign allies. Earlier, Biden officials announced an overhaul of the government treatment of domestic terrorism with a “comprehensive threat assessment” by intelligence agencies. Former DHS officials from both parties agreed DDT’s failure to focus on “the rise of domestic threats” was among the agency’s problems. According to the NBC News report, these officials agreed:

“[I]t was the four years of inadequately monitoring and communicating the rising threat of right-wing domestic extremists that ultimately led to DHS’ failure to prevent [the Jan. 6 attack at the Capitol].”

The New York Times reported that DDT’s administration “diverted” federal law enforcement and domestic security agencies, pressuring officials to “uncover a left-wing extremist criminal conspiracy that never materialized,” even as “the threat from the far right was building ominously.” It added that the FBI, “in particular, had increasingly expressed concern about the threat from white supremacists, long the top domestic terrorism threat, and well-organized far-right extremist groups that had allied themselves with the president.” DDT did not find these issues at all concerning. 

Time to “Build Back Better.”

July 29, 2020

Reopening Schools? Think Twice

Every week, my local newspaper publishes News on the Views, responses to a concern regarding an issue in the community. Today, the topic was reopening schools. Although some of the responses expressed general problems with reopening schools during the pandemic, others wrote that children would not be in danger because of the myth that children have complete immunity—a myth communicated to millions in the United States by conservative media.

One indication children are at risk from COVID-19 infection comes from the plethora of closing summer camps, both sleep-away and day-only, because both youth and their counselors test positive for the coronavirus. Children may not commonly suffer from the more serious symptoms, but no one knows the long-term effects and the extent of infecting others. And as more children contact the virus, the more children have severe symptoms. Lara Shekerdemian, chief of critical care at Texas children’s Hospital in Houston, reports that “in the last three or four weeks our numbers have gone up significantly. The vast majority do really well. There is a proportion who do become sicker than that. Some require life support in the ICU, so there is a whole spectrum.” She also said asymptomatic children have “the biggest danger [because] we don’t know the transmission rate.”

Florida, a state with surging COVID-19 infections, is requiring schools to reopen. The number of children ages 17 and under who test positive for the virus rose from 23,170 on July 16 to 31,150 on July 24—an increase of 34 percent in eight days. At the same time, hospitalizations for children jumped from 246 to 303, a 23 percent increase. Yet children are ordered to return to school in two weeks.

Israel opened schools in May with classes up to 40 as well as no masking or social distancing rules. COVID-19 outbreaks infected 1,335 students and 691 staff in two months; since May, these outbreaks caused Israel to close 125 schools and 258 kindergartens.

Doubting people who talk about reopening schools cite a low death rate among children as a reason for sending them back to school. They ignore potential long-term effects: neurological problems, heart damage, muscle problems, kidney injury, limited lung capacity, blood clots—the list seems endless. No one knows how long these health issues will last or if hey will ever go away.

Teachers are also at risk from returning to school. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in 4 teachers in the U.S.—almost 1.5 million people—are at increased risk for serious illness by becoming infected. They might be able to protect themselves with social distancing, but working in crowded schools with children crowding around will make this procedure difficult. Because of staff at schools, even more people will be at risk, and 3.3 million adults 65 or older live with school-age children.

From Leana S. Wen comes this perspective of how reopening schools could look:  

“The novel coronavirus is spreading uncontrolled in more than 20 states. https://www.covidexitstrategy.org/  Let’s say that the prevalence of the virus in a community is 1 in 100. A school with 1,000 students could have 10 people walk in on day one who are unknowingly infecting others.

“Many who favor on-time reopening cite a recent large study from South Korea that found that children younger than 10 are half as likely to spread the coronavirus as adults. But half of a lot of transmission is still a lot. And the same study found that kids older than 10 transmit the virus at the same rate as adults. If one person spreads it to two or three others who then spread it to contacts at school and at home, there will almost certainly be outbreaks within a matter of weeks.

“How would these outbreaks be detected? Asymptomatic cases wouldn’t be — a concern because https://www.sciencealert.com/40-of-people-with-covid-19-don-t-have-symptoms-latest-cdc-estimate-says   40 percent of people with covid-19 don’t have symptoms. Yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), asymptomatic people are 75 percent as infectious as those with symptoms.

“Let’s say that a student does show symptoms — perhaps he develops a fever while at school. The right protocol is to promptly isolate and test him. If he tests positive, everyone he has recently had close contact with should quarantine and get tested, too.

“The problem is multifaceted: Given the backlog of testing, results could take 14 days. Should his entire class stay home for two weeks while awaiting this one student’s test result? Symptoms for covid-19 include cough, diarrhea, headaches, runny nose and sore throat. If any of these symptoms prompts testing and quarantining, multiple classes could be out simultaneously while awaiting test results.

“This prompts additional questions: Will kids truly quarantine at home, especially if this scenario were to recur again and again? Would their siblings also need to stay home? What about their parents — how can they return to work with this much uncertainty? If parents are also asked to quarantine, will some break protocol because they need to earn a living?

“At some point, school administrators may decide that there isn’t enough testing to go around. Children don’t get that sick even if they’re infected, the reasoning would go, so we can’t close down for every sniffle. This thinking, combined with limited contact-tracing capabilities, could mean that outbreaks aren’t detected until numerous adults — teachers, cafeteria workers, janitorial staff, and parents and other relatives of pupils — fall ill.

“I’m worried about schools taking shortcuts in an effort to reopen quickly. Reducing classroom capacity, limiting student mobility and wearing masks can substantially reduce risk. Yet President Trump has bemoaned how the CDC guidelines are “very tough,” and Vice President Pence has said that the guidelines should not prevent schools from reopening. Never mind the backward logic here (the problem is not the guidelines themselves but the inability to meet them). The issue is whether school administrators will buckle to political pressure and neglect critical safety measures, just as many governors did in cutting corners to reopen their states.

“Steps can be taken now to avoid this dystopian scenario. States where infections are escalating need to revert to an earlier phase and close bars, restaurants and other indoor gathering spots. As for schools, they should begin instruction virtually and hold off on in-person plans until October; it will take at least three to four weeks for the new restrictions to have an effect and a few more weeks to ensure that the trend holds.

“States with fewer infections may be able to proceed with in-person instruction if they implement proper safeguards. Many districts have thoughtful plans to bring back younger students and children with special needs first, while providing full online instruction. What about those unable to take online classes from home or who depend on schools for food and other social needs? https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/20/opinion/coronavirus-reopen-schools-economy.html   Setting up “safe centers for online learning” in schools and other empty community spaces, as some have proposed, could be useful.

“Nationally, it is beyond time to have a testing strategy that ensures that rapid tests are widespread and accessible. The CDC must also provide far more explicit guidance, including exact criteria that communities need to meet to be considered low-risk: such as test positivity of less than 5 percent, 80 percent of tests returned within 48 hours and a 14-day decline in number of cases. And Congress needs to pass an emergency education package that gives local jurisdictions funding to upgrade buildings, buy personal protective equipment and make other necessary changes.

“All of these steps are hard. They require strong leadership and substantial resources. But if we don’t take these actions and schools reopen prematurely, we will effectively have an uncontrolled experiment with students and teachers as the guinea pigs. Banks and airlines have been bailed out. Surely, we can dedicate the necessary resources to help our schools, too.”

David Von Drehle wrote:

“The United States had a chance to get covid-19 under control. Other countries are doing it. But with transmission unfettered and the traditional start of school drawing near, it looks as if we’ve blown the opportunity and failed our kids. Their anger and depression will be justified if their classrooms are empty again this fall. I only hope they learn a lesson from our failure.”

The U.S. now has a total of 4,568,037 cases, 66,921 in the past 24 hours. Adding to the 153,840 deaths from COVID-19 are the 1,485 from the past 24 hours, almost double that of several days ago. While Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is declaring martial law and pushing fake fixes for COVID-19, his lack of leadership is killing people.

 

June 13, 2020

DDT: Week 177 – Beyond Well-Publicized Disasters

While Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) worries about re-election—his only focus—he has Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to protect him from the International Criminal Court.

Afraid the International Criminal Court will discover U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, DDT signed an national emergency executive order allowing him to threaten economic sanctions and visa travel restrictions on its staff. That includes any foreign person in human rights organizations researching and reporting on criminal activity if it is used by the ICC, for example a Netherlands-based group investigating rape and torture by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and at CIA interrogation sites. Unlike most allies, the United States is not part of the Rome Statute creating the ICC, but Afghanistan is. The U.S. could handle torture internally but has not tried any “rendition program” cases. The current CIA chief, Gina Haspel, ran an agency black site using “interrogation techniques” such as waterboarding. An analysis from David Scheffer, first U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues:

“The argument essentially boils down to the contrarian view that U.S. forces and intelligence personnel can commit atrocity crimes inside any of the 123 states parties of the Rome Statute (including all but one NATO ally, every country of the European Union, all of South America, and much of Africa, East Asia, Central America, and the Caribbean) without accountability before the ICC.”

DDT coordinated the sanctions with Israel during Pompeo’s visit to Jerusalem last month after ICC’s prosecutor opened an investigation about Israel’s alleged crimes in the West Bank and Gaza. Although briefings did not mention the plot, Israeli officials leaked the information. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought Yuval Steinitz, leader of the team countering the ICC investigation, to the meeting, and the two countries continued the secret coordination on the issue since Pompeo’s visit.

Federal officials are hiding information about their distribution of $511 billion taxpayer monies to “small businesses” despite promising in mid-April to make the information public. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin called the data “proprietary” and “confidential information” during a Senate hearing and did not require any proof for need and eligibility from applicants. Eleven news organizations are suing for information about amounts and recipients. 

Congress assigned three bodies to oversee the $2.3 trillion law: a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR); the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee with inspectors general from the agencies involved in the bill  under the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency; and a congressional oversight commission. After an agreement to the oversight, DDT made a signing statement erasing it in a claim that it violated the separation of powers and the rights of the president.

Often accused of no empathy, DDT’s accusation about the police brutality toward a 75-year-old peace activist went as viral as the police assault on Martin Gugino. DDT got falsehoods from the evidence-free right-wing, Russia-related One America News Network after two police officers in Buffalo shoved the man to the sidewalk and left him bleeding from the head. DDT’s tweet:

“Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN  I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?”

Gugino approached a police officer with his cellphone in his right hand, and police yelled, “Push him. Push him.” After nine days, Gugino is out of the hospital but can’t walk because of his skull fracture. The two officers are facing assault charges. Russian national Kristian Rouz, author of the false story, also writes for the Kremlin-owned news outlet Sputnik. Rouz puts Kremlin propaganda into his articles without explaining the “allegations” are hoaxes from Vladimir Putin and associates. 

Vincent D’Andraia, facing multiple charges including misdemeanor assault and menacing against a woman, became the first NYPD officer arrested for police brutality in the protests. The woman said she was peacefully protesting when D’Andraia told her to get out of the street. When she asked why, he pushed her and called her a “stupid f—— b—-” before he hit her cell phone out of her hand and violently shoved her to the ground and into the curb. The woman was hospitalized and treated for a seizure and concussion. Afterward, D’Andraia, his lieutenant, and several other officers who were watching kept on walking.

Minnesota’s Department of Safety and the Anoka County Sheriff’s office admitted troopers and deputies slashed tires on cars during protests in Minneapolis after presented with video reports. The state spin:

“State Patrol troopers strategically deflated tires … in order to stop behaviors such as vehicles driving dangerously and at high speeds in and around protesters and law enforcement.”

Several journalists found their tires slashed, including Andrew Kimmel, a Los Angeles TV and documentary maker, with cut tires on his rental car. Officers promised to watch the car of New Yorker writer Luke Mogelson. He returned to find his tires cut and the officers “laughing” with “grins on their faces.”

Posts from Lt. Robert Gamin, president of the Brevard (Florida county) Fraternal Order of Police, promoted more police brutality recruiting law enforcement members suspended, fired, or arrested for violent behavior. He deleted the posts and “apologized,” saying he was frustrated.

Congress gave Customs and Border Protection funding for food and medicine after migrants kept dying. The agency spent the funding on dirt bikes and ATVs before trying to conceal it in the wrong budget categories.

Failing to react to DDT’s acceptance and even promotion of police brutality, most GOP legislators use the same policy as the willful blindness from the mythical three monkeys: hear no evil; see no evil; speak no evil. Reporters, tired of legislators expressing ignorance of anything DDT says, printed out DDT’s tweet about Martin Gigino to show Republicans. Most of those asked for responses refused to look at the post and declined to answer as they dashed away.  

Yesterday’s spike in the stock market replaced over one-fourth of its plunge from the day before. Investors bought after Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, said he’s “not the health expert” but “there is no second spike …. No second wave” of COVID-19. Roughly half the states show significant spikes. My own small county on the Oregon coast went from ten cases less than three weeks ago to almost 200 by today partly from an outbreak from fish processing plant Pacific Seafoods—workers, friends, family, etc. Fourteen months before the current recession starting in February—before COVID-19 hit—Kudlow said he couldn’t see a recession. Kudlow isn’t an economist either. Back in the time of George W. Bush, Kudlow Kudlow denied the housing bubble and said at the beginning of Bush’s recession, “There’s no recession coming.” In early March this year, Kudlow also said the virus was “contained” and the economy “looks sound.” Kudlow isn’t an economist either.

Because of COVID-19, DDT shut down four of his five top-earning hotels and resorts, leading to laying off or furloughing 2,800 employees with the loss of tens of millions of dollars. Revenues weren’t good before the virus, and he couldn’t even pay $20,833 per month rental fee for his golf club in Pine Hill (NJ). The new COVID-19 law keeps him from making up revenue from the government, but Great Britain plans to give him an almost £1m tax rebate for his Scottish golf courses. Both resorts avoided corporation taxes because of heavy losses’ reports, supposedly £155m in 2018. Democrats in the House asked for documents regarding loans and other funds by May 21 regarding the bailout funds as a possible gift from a foreign government but received no responses.

The latest Trump book covers Melania. Among other topics, Mary Jordan’s The Art of Her Deal: The Untold Story of Melania Trump explains the First Lady waited to move into the White House to negotiate her prenup. Her marital problems are no business of anyone else except for the exorbitant cost to taxpayers. Flights on Air Force jets during the first three months of her 2017 sequestration in New York cost $676,635, and security at Trump Tower expenses averaged between $127,000 and $146,000—a day. Melania didn’t move to the White House for almost five months, and Secret Service received an additional $60 million to protect DDT’s family. A WaPo article describes Jordan’s view of Melania Trump’s mythmaking the media has swallowed, debunked through over 100 interviews with her associates. Jordan said, “She is . . . much more like DDT than it appears.”

Frustrated by CNN’s polling and disappointed by ones from Fox, DDT went to evidence-free OAN promising him one that “looks as though it will be in favor of” the president. After using loaded questions to move approval to DDT, the poll came out a perfect 50-50 split in Florida, a statistical improbability. It also gives a lead to DDT among undecided voters—which makes Joe Biden a lead among decided voters. The poll came out with an article accusing the “deep state” working with Democrats to create polls demoralizing GOP voters.

On June 13, another 25,000+ COVID-19 cases for a total of 2,142,224 with 117,527 deaths.

 

February 10, 2020

Week 159: Beyond Impeachment

The impeachment trial, the outrageous speeches of Dictator Donald Trump (DDT), and Democratic candidates in Iowa and New Hampshire have consumed most of the media. Yet DDT keeps wreaking havoc in other ways. 

The “peace plan” that Jared Kushner orchestrated for Israel without any Palestinian input is not going smoothly. In a spike of violence, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian teenager in the contested West Bank that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened to illegally annex, the fifth killing in the West Bank and Jerusalem since DDT tried to give Palestinian territory to Israel. Two Palestinians were killed during a protest against the Israeli’s demolition of a Palestinian house. Israeli police prevented Palestinians from worshipping at the Al-Aqsa Mosque at the Jerusalem location which Jews call the Temple Mount.

A week ago, at the Arab League headquarters in the Egyptian capital Cairo, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas announced to its members that Palestine would immediately cut ties with the U.S. Palestine Authority’s security forces have long joined Israel to police the occupied West Bank under Palestinian control. The PA also has intelligence cooperation agreements with the CIA which it is stopping at this time. [Right: Abbas shows the Arab League how Palestine has lost land in the last century.]

The Arab League foreign ministers said the U.S.-Israel plan would not lead to a comprehensive and just peace and the League will not support its implementation. It does not meet Palestinians’ minimum aspirations. The foreign ministers affirmed that peace requires a future Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as capital and based on borders before Israel captured land in the 1967 Middle East War.

David Friedman, U.S. ambassador to Israel, said that Israel cannot annex the West Bank without U.S. permission. He didn’t mention Palestinian’s rights to keep their land. Most of the world sees Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank as illegal. Netanyahu has temporarily backed down, possibly endangering his chances for reelection on March 2.

DDT’s assassination of Iranian leader Qasem Soleimani won’t go away: Iraqi officials are now saying that ISIS is responsible for the rocket attack that DDT used to justify the murder. Soleimani was fighting ISIS.

A former Air Force drone operator called the U.S. military “worse than Nazis” in the atrocities that they inflict in the Middle East. From a small room near Las Vegas, he remotely fired missiles over 7,000 miles way. He said his breaking point was killing a child in Afghanistan that his superiors said was a “dog.” He quit the military and spoke against the drone program after directly killing 13 people while his squadron fired on 1,626 targets that included women and children. In his training, he was told to “kill people and break things.” Superiors kept him in line with punitive measures and mockery. He wants people to understand how the drone program dehumanizes the operators.

DDT has a plan for “Making Federal Buildings Beautiful Again” in an executive order requiring Greek and Roman architectural style for all federal buildings costing over $50 million in Washington and throughout the U.S.  His goal is supposedly to “inspire … respect for our system of self-government.” Smithsonian-funded museums will escape the order. The “inspiration” comes from the “National Civic Art Society” that argues contemporary design in buildings is “dehumanizing.” All designs will be subject to White House approval.

For Architect of the Capitol, DDT nominated J. Brett Blanton, an engineer in airport operations and construction management who is not a licensed or practicing architect and was confirmed in mid-January by a voice vote on the day that the impeachment trial began. Blanton also served as a transportation engineer for the military. His first project will be overseeing the renewal project for the 111-year-old Beaux-Arts office building Cannon House Office Building (left), designed by architects for the New York Public Library and other early 19th-century buildings. Only one senator, Rules Committee Chair Roy Blunt (R-MO), appeared at Blanton’s hearing.

After DDT praised Super Bowl victors, the Kansas City Chiefs, for represented the “Great State of Kansas,” Fox & Friends hosts defended the geographically challenged man in the Oval Office despite the Chiefs’ location in Kansas City, Missouri. It’s not his first gaffe

  • At a UN luncheon with African leaders, he praised the health care in the non-existent country of Nambia.
  • He told his foreign policy advisers that Nepal and Bhutan are parts of India, instead of separate countries. [He also called them Nipple and Button.]
  • He also doesn’t know that Ireland isn’t part of the United Kingdom.
  • When talking to Indian Prime Minister Narenra Modi, he said, “[I]t’s not as though you have China right on your border.” [The India-China border is 2521 miles.]
  • He announced that he is building a border wall in Colorado, 1,193 miles from the Mexico border.
  • He thinks that Belgium is a “beautiful city” instead of a country.
  • Paris is still in Germany instead of France, according to DDT.
  • In talking to people from the Baltic states, he thought he was talking to the Balkans. This explains the difference.
  • When DDT bombed Syria, he thought he was bombing Iraq.
  • Recently at Davos, he thought he was talking with a Syrian Kurd when he was having a conversation with the president of Iraqi Kurdistan.
  • He announced that his call from South Korea was from North Korea.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may keep a map without names for the countries to educate DDT. Pompeo used it after he lost his temper with NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly, walked out of his interview, and swore at her in private before he demanded she identify Ukraine on his unmarked map. She had no trouble complying because of her education, but Pompeo tried to make it appear as if she didn’t. DDT was delighted with Pompeo’s lying, rudeness, and swearing by calling it “impressive.” He added, “I think you did a good job on [the reporter].”

In retaliation against Kelly, Pompeo removed NPR reporter Michele Kelemen from his trip to Europe and said in an interview in Kazakhstan that revoking her press credentials for the trip sends “a perfect message about press freedoms” to the world. He added that the State Department only grants press credentials when it believes reporters are “telling the truth and being honest.” [Pompeo’s altercation was with Kelly, not Kelemen.] Despite his behavior, Pompeo said that journalists are allowed to ask him anything they want. Kelly’s brilliant response to the Pompeo debacle in a NYT op-ed explains the substance of the interview that got lost after Pompeo’s temper tantrum and how his personal attack on her is “not the point.”

On his tour, Pompeo ironically praised Kazakhstan for taking in refugees fleeing persecution and said:

“The protection of basic human rights defines the soul of a nation.” 

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross likes the novel coronavirus sweeping China that has killed over 1,000 people And affected another 40,000+. He said:  

“I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America.”

DDT told states and local officials that they could block refugees, Texas took him up on it, people got riled at the governor, and a judge told states they couldn’t block refugees. A Maryland U.S. District judge called DDT’s policy “unlawful” and “does not appear to serve the overall public interest. [It] flies in the face of clear Congressional intent.” Although 42 states and over 100 local governments agreed to acceptance refugees, seven states were thus far noncommittal. DDT already lowered the annual national refugee cap to 18,000, down from 110,000 in 2016.

DHS has put non-violent protesters who committed acts of civil disobedience on its “extremist” list of white supremacists and mass killers.

DDT’s Labor Department, run by the son of former Justice Antonin Scalia, has changed rules so that workers will have a harder time suing for wage theft and other violations.

DDT’s tariffs will hurt everyone in the nation. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reduces the average family’s real income by $1,277 in 2020 by reducing the GDP level and raising consumer prices. The projection is over double that of last year’s $580 report.

On the campaign trail, DDT said, “If we don’t win, your farms are going to hell.” DDT had told farmer that they might have some “pain” from his trade wars, but he didn’t warn them about the eight-year high of farm bankruptcy rates that spiked 20 percent in 2019. Earlier in a campaign speech in Warren (MI), DDT declared that F-35 jets are literally invisible.

Another lie from the SOTU: Wooing black voters, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) gave a “scholarship” to fourth-grader Janiyah Davis to let her escape from a “failed government school.” She already attends one of Philadelphia’s most sought-after schools, Math, Science and Technology Community Charter School III, a public school.  Last year, she moved from a Christian school with tuition. Janiyah and her mother were invited to the SOTU after the principal in he former school was asked for names for youth who might want scholarships. No one checked to see where Janiyah attended school, explained why they were invited, or warned them that they would be in the spotlight. After the SOTU, Janiyah’s mother said:

“I don’t view MaST as a school you want to get out of at all. I view it as a great opportunity.”

DDT was angry with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf for vetoing tax credits for students in private religious schools.

January 29, 2020

Israeli, DDT ‘Peace Plan’ Lose-Lose

In an attempt to avoid bad publicity from his impeachment trial, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) has announced his “deal of the century” between Israel and Palestine that he claims will create peace between the long-time adversaries. The “deal,” supposedly written by DDT’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner but covered with Israeli fingerprints, has these provisions:

Israel would annex 30 percent of the Palestinian West Bank occupied by Israel with illegal Jewish-only settlements since 1967, Arab East Jerusalem, and the Jordan Valley.

Palestinians would have limited autonomy in primarily urban enclaves surrounded by Israel acquisitions.

Israel would control Palestinian borders, immigration, security, airspace, and aquifers.

Jerusalem would be Israel’s “undivided” capital with a possible Palestinian capital to the northeast of Jerusalem.

Palestine would be compensated with desert land near Gaza that would be linked with the West Bank by high speed rail.

Palestine might receive a sort of statehood with no army and Israel control in some areas.

Hamas, which governs Gaza, would be dismantled before Palestinian independence.

Israeli citizenship may be stripped from tens of thousands of Arab Israelis who live in 10 border towns.

Palestinian refugees would have no “right of return” to homes lost to Israel in previous conflicts.

Resembling South Africa during its apartheid when it created “reserves” for blacks, the “deal” had no Palestinian input and violates UN resolutions forbidding nations from using military force to expand their territories. The Fourth Geneva Convention also bans occupying powers from moving civilian populations onto these territories taken by military force, and the UN has applied the Geneva ruling onto Israeli-occupied territories. The International Court of Justice does the same in a 2004 decision.

DDT’s plan also requires that Palestinians “dismiss all pending actions” in the International Criminal Court, meaning that the Israeli government cannot be held to account for anything. Jared Kushner’s solution for Palestinians who disagree is to “take a cold shower” so that they don’t “screw up” like with “every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.” The plan states that Palestinians must take “no action, and shall dismiss all pending actions, against the State of Israel, the United States, and any of their citizens before the International Criminal Court” and other tribunals.

Over a century ago, Palestinians were not consulted when Britain adopted the 1917 Balfour Declaration that gave geographical Palestine to the Jewish people for their “homeland.” DDT is following that pattern in drawing other nations’ borders and dictating political lives of people in foreign countries. He follows his pattern of subordinating “browns” to “whites,” as Israelis are largely regarding to people in the United States.

Ben Silverstein wrote:

“About 5 million stateless Palestinians live under Israeli military occupation (the Palestinian West Bank) or under Israeli military siege (the Gaza Strip). Some 400,000 stateless Palestinian refugees in Lebanon are from families that were expelled from the British Mandate of Palestine by militant Zionist militias. Another 400,000 stateless Palestinians in Syria are from families expelled from the British Mandate of Palestine by Zionist militias. About 40,000 stateless Palestinians in Jordan are from families . . . That is, About 6 million stateless Palestinians are being kept without basic human rights by Israel’s refusal to allow them to return to their homes and by Israel’s refusal to allow the Palestinians to establish a genuine state to which the refugees could return.”

War crimes in the plan:

A flood of 400,000 of Israeli citizens who have stolen Palestinian land on the West Bank attack Palestinian villages and sabotage Palestinian orchards and other agriculture in opposition to the Fourth Geneva Accord of 1949 to present war crimes like those by Nazi Germans.

The annexation of 30 percent of the West Bank is an act of aggression by Israel that is taking the land by calling these lands “annexed.”

Depriving Israeli citizens of Palestinian heritage is denaturalization into statelessness by giving them “citizenship” in an unrecognized “state” (aka a “reserve”) where they have no rights over their property.

The disarmed Palestinians will have no right of self-defense in opposition to Chapter 7, Article 51, of the UN that requires “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.”

Palestinians in Israeli-mandated enclaves will have no right to self-determination and be dependent on Israel’s goodwill for every part of their lives, including politics and building development.

With a third election looming and three criminal indictments, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised DDT’s “deal.” With no ratification of the “plan,” he announced that he will ask his cabinet for approval of the annexation this Sunday. He may lose a few votes, however, because the “peace plan” brought criticism from both the left and right wings in Israel. Although Palestinians lose 30 percent of their land, leaders of Israeli settler groups stated that they cannot support a plan that allows Palestinians 70 percent of the area. The settlers called the creation of a Palestinian state “an existential threat to the State of Israel.”

Emily Meyer, co-founder of the Jewish group If Not Now issued this statement:

“This is a political ploy by both leaders to distract from their abuse of power, designed to help Netanyahu win the election in less than six weeks. The plan itself is a plan for permanent Israeli military occupation and control, not a plan for peace. It is simply a continuation of Trump’s strategy since entering office: to disenfranchise Palestinians and deny their rights, their agency, and even their identity.”

Activist groups such as the Islamic Action Front called for a “mass protest” at the U.S. Embassy in Amman. Jordan, home to a large Palestinian population, stated its commitment to a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders and rejects any Israeli unilateral move such as immediate annexation. Both Egypt and the EU cautioned Israelis and Palestinians to carefully study the plan. Saudi Arabia’s King Salman called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to promise Saudi commitment to Palestinian rights.  Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that DDT’s plan “will not serve peace and resolution” in the region and that it will “ignore the rights of the Palestinians and legitimize Israel’s occupation.”

Other Arab countries were disturbed that none of their representatives could see the final version of the plan before its unveiling. They will be even more upset if Netanyahu carries through with a plan for annexation this weekend before both parties support.

The UN supports pre-1967 borders. Most of the international community view the West Bank as the future Palestinian independent state and east Jerusalem as its capital while DDT sides only with Israel by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, closing Palestinian diplomatic offices in Washington, and cutting funding to Palestinian aid programs.  

Benny Gantz, Netanyahu’s competition for prime minister, said he will propose the plan for approval next week in the Knesset (Israeli parliament). Abbas dismissed the plan as “nonsense” and vowed to resist it through “peaceful, popular means.” Abbas added:

“We say 1,000 no’s to the Deal of the Century. We will not kneel and we will not surrender.”

Israeli settlers in the West Bank may be worse off with the proposed annexation. According to Ghaith al-Omari, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad were present at a meeting that Abbas convened, and both groups will push for violence in the West Bank, creating destabilization from terror and giving Hamas more power. Al-Omari surmises that DDT’s plan strengthens hardliners and weakens diplomats.

The plan that DDT hoped would bail him out of his impeachment problems is now seen as a “lose-lose” situation.

January 3, 2020

DDT: Week 154 – WWIII?

“Our president will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate. He’s weak and he’s ineffective, so the only way he figures that he’s going to get reelected, and as sure as you’re sitting there, is to start a war with Iran.”

That’s what Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) said about President Obama in 2011. Immediately before the 2012 election heralding President Obama’s second term, DDT tweeted, “Don’t let Obama play the Iran card in order to start a war in order to get elected — be careful Republicans!” Now DDT may avoid publicity about his extortion of Ukraine and a false investigation of his political opponent with his assassination of Qassem Soleimani that can “start a war with Iran.” The strike against Soleiman is far worse than earlier assassinations because it attacked a state leader, unlike the other U.S. killings of leaders in the Middle East. The U.S. made no attempt to arrest Soleimani in Iraq before he was killed.

The murder of Solemani, leader of the elite Quds force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and second most powerful leader in the country, in a preemptive strike on the Baghdad International Airport had no congressional authorization. Repercussions are not certain, but the killing makes a U.S. presence in the Middle East far more dangerous, and U.S. people may be targeted around the world. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) tweeted:

“The question is this – as reports suggest, did America just assassinate, without any congressional authorization, the second most powerful person in Iran, knowingly setting off a potential massive regional war?”

To block DDT from illegally starting a war with Iran, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) plan legislation to “prohibit any funding for offensive military force in or against Iran without prior congressional authorization.” An earlier measure to amend the National Defense Authorization Act for a similar purpose passed the House in July but was dropped in December. Instead of waging a new war, Khanna said, the United States needs to “get out priorities right” about its “crumbling infrastructure,” desperate housing needs, and “the existential crisis of climate change.” Sanders tweeted that “it’s the working-class kids who will … fight and die in a disastrous new Middle East conflict – not the children of billionaires.” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) has introduced privileged legislation—meaning Republicans cannot block the bill from the Senate floor—banning any hostilities with Iran not explicitly authorized by a congressional declaration of war or a specific authorization for the use of military force.

Echoing George W. Bush’s statements about his preemptive attack on Iraq, DDT said earlier this week that a war with Iran “would go very quickly.” Dan Spinelli disagrees and gives details. The same “quickly” comment was made about World War I, which instigators claimed would last a couple of weeks. World War I killed over 20 million people, and W.’s war in Iraq has lasted almost 14 years. And just like W.’s mythical “weapons of mass destruction,” vague descriptions of Iran’s “developing plans” and future attacks are intended to foment fears. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has already replaced Soleimani with Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani, Soleimani’s deputy commander. Khamenei also warned of a “harsh retaliation” for Soleimani’s killers. Ghaani said that “any military action against Iran will be regretted.”

The U.S. also reportedly killed Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in yesterday’s strike. In retaliation against the killing of one U.S. military contractor, the U.S. killed 25 Iraqis who were able to breach the most secure U.S. embassy in the world. Iraq’s deputy parliament speaker it is time to put an end to “US recklessness and arrogance”; an emergency parliament session for Saturday will discuss the U.S. airstrike in Baghdad killing the Iranian and Iraqi leaders. The session will work on taking “decisive decisions that put an end to US presence inside Iraq.” About 5,000 U.S. members, supposedly to protect and train Iraqis, are stationed in Iraq. The country’s prime minister Adel Abdel Mahdi stated, “The assassination of an Iraqi military commander in an official post is an aggression against the country of Iraq, its state, its government and its people” and “could spark a devastating war.”

Like killing the head of the CIA, the assassination of Soleimani is ”an explicit act of war,” as an Al Jarzeera journalist wrote.

VP Mike Pence, one heartbeat from being U.S. president, is already spreading disinformation—or ignorance—when he falsely connected Iran to the 9/11 attackers and couldn’t even remember the number of those attackers when he said that 10 of the 12 attackers on 9/11 were linked to Iran. Of the 19 (not 12) 9/11 attackers, 15 were from Saudi Arabia, 2 from the UAE, and 1 each from Egypt and Lebanon.  

Before the assassination, thousands of supporters of Iraqi’s Kataib Hezbollah militia attacked the 104-acre U.S. embassy in Iraq. Media almost universally used the term “Iran-supported” without mentioning that the attackers are Iraqi. The event came after U.S. airstrikes in Iran killed 24 people, largely civilians, because an Iraqi militia rocket strike killed U.S. military contractor (aka mercenary). Protesters backed off the attack after the group claimed it received guarantees from Iraqi Prime Minister Mahdi to work toward passing a law calling for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country. The militia gained influence after it worked with the U.S. to drive ISIS out of Iraq. DDT has lost all leverage in controlling Iran after he dropped out of the anti-nuclear agreement and returned to imposing sanctions on Iran.

The U.S. won’t have allied support for a war with Iran: only Israel stands behind the U.S. in its unilateral war. Germany warned against further “dangerous escalation,” and the UK stated that more conflict is “in none of our interests.” DDT failed to inform European partners, and the UK said, “The purpose of having allies is that we can surprise our enemies and not each other.” The Conservative chair of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee expressed concern about the “pattern” of the U.S. not sharing with the UK. France criticized the U.S. for “playing their game in an unpredictable manner” and said that the assassination has made the world “more dangerous.” Last week, Vladimir Putin said he will no longer cooperate with sanctions against Iran and said about Soleimani’s death, “We express our sincere condolences to the Iranian people.” China stated it “has always opposed the use of force in international relations,” urged the U.S. “to remain calm and exercise restraint to avoid further escalating tensions,” and called for respect for Iraq’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

While keeping allies and Congress in the dark about his plans, DDT gave Israel advance warning about killing Soleimani. In addition to other preparedness for the attack’s backlash, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came back early from his visit to Greece. Netanyahu is running for reelection in March, despite his three criminal indictments, in the third election for the country’s prime minister. He is asking Israel’s parliament for immunity.

DDT also referred to his plans to people staying at his Mar-a-Lago resort. Five days before killing Soleimani, he wandered his private resort, dropping hints that he was working on a “big” response to the Iranian regime that they would be hearing or reading about very “soon.” These comments went much farther than his New Year’s Eve tweet about the “big price” Iran would pay for damaging the U.S. embassy in Iraq. Two sources said that he talked about his contact with national-security and military advisers about an imminent aggressive action. One of them said that DDT kept repeating, “You’ll see.”

This afternoon, DDT claimed that his escalating tensions with Iran were to “stop a war” and told the attacked Iranians to immediately end “aggressions in the region.” Then he initiated another airstrike that killed five Iraqis in a convoy for a medical unit of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces near Baghdad. 

State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo said that the U.S. action created no danger for Americans in the region, but his agency asked U.S. citizens to immediately leave Iraq and suspended all consular operations. On Sunday, Pompeo tried to play down any problems in either Iraq or North Korea, but the Pentagon had blocked any government travel to Iraq or Syria, including by U.S. lawmakers and their staffers, because of regional instability. Pompeo is removing 28 percent of diplomatic staffing in Iraq by the end of May 2020, removing 114 positions in the Baghdad embassy alone, in a retraction on diplomacy and oversight.

Senior government officials continue the spin that killing Soleimani was intended to “advance the cause of peace.” The rest of the world has the opposite vision. On Twitter “WWIII” is the top trending term worldwide. People curious about DDT’s timing may consider that he bragged about the killing in his big speech to evangelicals today. And that Iran is hacking into DDT’s re-election campaign in opposition for his possible second term.  

December 22, 2019

Week 152 – World, Domestic Affairs

World and domestic affairs beyond impeachment affect the United States through decisions that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) makes.

DDT stayed silent during violent protests from India’s attempt to eliminate secularization. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a conservative re-elected in May, the parliament permits citizenship for undocumented migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who moved to India before 2014 and belong to one of six religious minorities, excluding Islam. Modi claims that the law protects persecuted religious groups, much like DDT said about his executive order protecting only Jewish people. India is now trying to control protests by shutting down phone and internet access in parts of the country.

Shortly before DDT was elected, Russian interference helped an anti-immigrant movement in Britain pass Brexit, a separation from the European Union. After agonizing over the process for over three years, the Brits elected Boris Johnson as prime minister to finish the process, much to the possible detriment of almost everyone in the country. Like DDT, Johnson is connected to corruption and sexual misconduct. The UK will leave the EU by the last day of 2020 no matter how disastrous, and the UK may have to pay the EU up to £39 billion. Northern Ireland stayed with the EU and will have a customs and regulatory border with Great Britain; Scotland voted to stay with the EU and may separate from the UK.

DDT, close friends with the autocratic Turkish president Recip Tayyip Erdogan, rejected the congressional votes to recognize that the Ottoman’s killing of Armenians in 1915-16 to support Germany in World War I was genocide. In retribution for the congressional resolution, Erdogan threatens to shut down Incirlik air base where the U.S. stores nuclear warheads. DDT called resolution criticizing the killing of 1.5 million Armenians “worthless” and the “biggest insult” to Turkish people. Erdogan also tried to prevent sanctions against Turkey after its military offensive in Syria by threatening to close the Kurecik radar base. Following DDT’s wishes, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) tried to block the resolution. On December 12, the Senate unanimously passed the resolution after the House did so with only one no vote. Because resolutions do not have the weight of law, they do not require a president’s signature. 

Israel is headed for its third election in less than a year after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to put together a winning coalition but plans to stay prime minister. The national election to determine the Israeli prime minister is next March, but on December 26, 100,000 Likud party members, Netanyahu’s party, vote for their leaders. Gideon Sa’ar is challenging Netanyahu to represent Likud; the winner is in line to become prime minister.Christians in the Gaza Strip are banned from visiting holy cities such as Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Nazareth for Christmas. Last year, almost 700 Gazan Christians received permits to travel the holy cities.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor is investigating Israeli war crimes allegedly committed in the Palestinian territories. Netanyahu claims that the ICC has jurisdiction only for sovereign states and denies any Palestinian state. He plans to illegally take over the Jordan Valley, composing one-fourth of the West Bank. In the ICC, Palestine is suing the U.S. for DDT’s moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Two courts, one in the EU and the other in Canada, have also decided that Israel “an occupying power” and “not … a sovereign entity” in determining labeling of products from Jewish settlements in the West Bank.   

The end of the year means tax preparation. Last year the 2017 tax cuts hurt a large percentage of people in the U.S., but large corporations are making out like bandits from their 40-percent tax rate cut. Approximately 400 of the largest corporations in the U.S. paid an average federal tax rate of about 11 percent on their profits last year, roughly half the official rate set by the tax law and half the rate that they averaged between 2008 and 2015. In 2018, corporations averaged 11.3 percent in taxes, the lowest level in over 30 years, while the deficit hit $984 billion, unusual in a supposedly strong economy. There is no evidence of the GOP claim of lower taxes’ cut causing economic growth and boosting business investment. The unemployment rate has stayed low in some areas, but higher wages are largely caused by blue states increasing the minimum wage rate.

In the Fortune 500, 91 corporations earning $101 billion paid no federal taxes last year. Amazon paid no taxes on $10.8 billion in profits and got a $129 million rebate. Firing 800 people, Activision Blizzard made $447 million and received a tax rebate of $243 million, giving them a -54.4 percent.

Overturning the Affordable Care Act would give the wealthy and pharmaceutical companies a huge tax break. The top 1,400 highest-earning taxpayers would receive $3.8 billion, and pharmaceutical companies would pay $2.8 billion less in taxes. People on Medicare would pay more for prescription drugs, and U.S. drug costs are already the highest in the developed world. Twenty million people would lose health insurance, and the poverty rate would increase. Causing a crack in the ACA, a state judge overturned the individual mandate in the ACA despite a Supreme Court ruling that accepted it.

DDT plans to reduce aid to the 39.7 million people in the United States living in poverty by allowing sports stadiums and arenas to use opportunities designed to meet the needs of middle- and low-income people. The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act requires financial institutions to meet the credit needs of all communities where they do business so that they can’t refuse to serve people based on income level and demographics rather than credit worthiness. Under DDT’s plan, investors can delay taxes or reduce tax payments on their capital gains while building stadiums that displace people of color. 

Eating pork may be dangerous under DDT’s new rules, according to Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors Jill Mauer and Anthony Vallone, who filed whistleblower disclosure forms. A pilot program for over 92 percent of U.S. pork plants will provide fewer inspectors who must stand at a distance while untrained plants’ employees check carcasses and still try to maintain line speeds. Defects can include feces, sex organs, toenails, bladders, and unwanted hair—think Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Beef processing may suffer from the same MO.  

The U.S. Forest Service is permitting Canada’s Midas Gold to write the environmental report necessary to obtain approval for mining in Idaho after a “collaborative” meeting that included Midas. In that way, Midas can avoid habitat restoration work to protect the surrounding area.

In a software failure, Boeing’s Starliner, intended to fly NASA astronauts to space, didn’t get to the right orbit. A few days earlier, Boeing announced it was stopping the production of the 737 Max that killed 346 people in two crashes and demonstrated multiple other problems. The planes have been grounded since March 11, pending approval for planes being built. Almost 400 737 Max jets at the Renton (WA) facility are costing the company about $4.4 billion every three months for production, storage, and maintenance. Although Boeing may not have any work stoppage, hundreds of other U.S. manufacturers in its supply chain may be forced to lay off workers. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that Boeing’s problems had taken 0.4 percent off the GDP for the year.

For years, the FAA allowed Boeing to perform its own inspections. High level Boeing officials knew about the planes’ problems and lied to the FAA. Earlier this month, the FAA fined Boeing $3.9 million for “knowingly submitted aircraft” to the agency for safety certification even after learning that crucial wing components “could not be used due to a failed strength test.”

State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo not only fired Bill Taylor, acting U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, but also told him to get out of the country early because he didn’t want to be photographed with the highly respected career diplomat. Pompeo urged Taylor to take the job, and Taylor then testified to the House Intelligence Committee about DDT’s attempts to extort Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Taylor believes his obligation is to the country, not DDT, and Pompeo wants to be the senator from Kansas.

Another of DDT’s circle of associates is now heading for prison, but Rick Gates, associate of DDT’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, gets only 45 days after evading taxes and concealing millions of dollars representing pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine after Gates’ cooperation. Manafort, DDT’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, and DDT’s first national security adviser are in the slammer. George Papadopoulos, DDT’s former campaign adviser on foreign policy, and Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who worked with Manafort and Gates, have finished their prison sentences. Roger Stone, longtime DDT adviser and confidant, awaits sentencing. DDT’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani faces a criminal investigation. Others connected to DDT include Richard Pinedo, who has a prison sentence for fraudulently trying to hurt Clinton’s campaign; Sam Patten and Maria Butina, who were charged with being unregistered foreign agents; and those on this long list of indicted Russian individuals and entities. 

New Jersey’s Rep. Jeff Van Drew switched from Republican to Democrat and swore “undying support” to DDT—until someone asked him about it. He said he didn’t say “undying.” Republicans don’t want him.

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