Aug 112017
 

Whoever says that there is no such thing as climate change is out of their gourd!  We here in Metro Vancouver have had higher temperatures than usual this summer.  This follows a snowy winter that left substantial snow packs to feed the reservoirs.  This has meant basic water restrictions, but nothing like last year’s stage 3 restrictions.  The winter was severe for Vancouver, and a lot longer.  That really gets Metro Vancouverites testy.  Of course then there are the wildfires in BC’s interior which are even worse than the 2015 fires, which is saying something.  There has been so much smoke that the mid afternoon sun is literally blood red.  Hopefully some of the smoke will clear out this weekend.  My eyes and throat sure would appreciate that.  I can’t even conceive of what the 47,000 evacuees must be feeling, although that number is down to about 7,000 for now.  Storms elsewhere are bigger and nastier.  As a planet, we owe it to each other to get our shit together.  Totally unrelated, today is my 46th anniversary of when I started in the banking industry.  Thank God I am now retired!

CBC — In a federal courthouse in Washington, D.C., between 16 and 23 citizens have reportedly been meeting in secret for weeks, tasked with deciding whether to bring charges in a probe of alleged collusion between U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Collectively, they’re known as a federal grand jury. And on Thursday, reporters learned they were “impanelled” — or brought together — by the all-star team of lawyers led by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Activating the grand jury is a sign Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation is heating up. Equipped with this tool, Mueller can request the issuing of subpoenas for documents and testimonies.

It marks the next phase in his investigation — “the most critical phase,” according to attorney Seth Abramson, an assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire.

“That’s because it’s the phase in which he doesn’t have to rely on voluntary production of documents or voluntary testimony from important witnesses.”

Any requested documents — which could include phone records, text messages, hotel and restaurant receipts and emails — get shared with the grand jury for consideration as evidence against a target of the investigation.
Subpoenaed witnesses must appear in front of the grand jury to be questioned by first Mueller’s team then the jurors themselves. Witnesses can plead the Fifth Amendment to invoke their right against self-incrimination.

Click through for the rest of this interesting, albeit long, article about this part of the US judicial system.  It may be that some know of the workings, but my guess is that many Americans do not fully understand it if knowledge of political issues are any indication.  Personally, being a Canuck, I found it very interesting and it is from a trusted source, not that the CBC does not make mistakes, but Matt Kwong is thorough.

Canadian Press — Six Americans have been charged with bringing handguns across the New Brunswick border so far this summer, as a Canadian prosecutor says it’s proving difficult to let otherwise law-abiding people know they can’t bring firearms on vacation.

“The offences continue to occur with alarming frequency during the summer months,” federal prosecutor Peter Thorn said from Hampton, N.B.

Five men — three from Florida, two from New England — pleaded guilty and were fined between $1,500 and $2,000, he said.

Thorn, who has prosecuted these cases for years, said most of the people caught are “respectful and law abiding citizens of the U.S.A.” who are unaware handguns are prohibited in Canada. [emphasis mine] …

That same day, a handgun was seized from a 64-year-old Jacksonville, Fla., couple at St. Stephen. It was found, undeclared, in the woman’s suitcase, where her husband had hid it without telling her, Thorn said.

“(The woman) stated that she specifically told her husband not to bring his handgun into Canada,” said Thorn.

I bring this to you because bringing hand guns across the US northern border into Canada is a no-no!  Canada is a sovereign nation and all must respect her laws.  Unfortunately, this happens all across Canada.  Many times, Americans driving to Alaska will bring their guns, sometimes declaring them, other times not.  With heightened surveillance, Canada Border Services are catching more people.  If you are caught, the weapon is confiscated and your entry into Canada is usually denied.  Leave your weapons at home!  It is cheaper.  And husbands, always listen to your wives!

Vancouver Sun — For the first of his 111 random acts of kindness, David McCann donated three works of art worth $1,400 to a Vancouver school for them to auction, with the proceeds going toward school supplies for the students.

For his 71st such act, McCann on Friday delivered 2,000 Roger’s chocolates to the main station of the Vancouver Police Department, enough for all the officers and staff, his way of saying cheers.

“It’s a thank you for the VPD’s willingness to change over the past 50 years in how they view and deal with the Vancouver gay community,” McCann said. “In particular, how they have and continue to provide security so we can enjoy a safe and wonderful Pride celebration and parade.”

McCann pledged to carry out 111 random acts of kindness in honour and memory of his 111-year-old friend, Mary, his partner’s grandmother who died recently.

This is one of those “feel good” pieces — how one man performed 111 random acts of kindness and why.

The Intercept — If you ask Steve Bannon how he got the idea that Muslims in the Middle East are a civilizational threat to America, he will say that his eyes were first opened when he served on a Navy destroyer in the Arabian Sea. At least that’s what he told the journalist Joshua Green, whose new book about President Donald Trump’s senior counselor is a best-seller.

“It was not hard to see, as a junior officer, sitting there, that [the threat] was just going to be huge,” Bannon said. He went on:

“We’d pull into a place like Karachi, Pakistan – this is 1979, and I’ll never forget it – the British guys came on board, because they still ran the port. The city had 10 million people at the time. We’d get out there, and 8 million of them had to be below the age of fifteen. It was an eye-opener. We’d been other places like the Philippines where there was mass poverty. But it was nothing like the Middle East. It was just a complete eye-opener. It was the other end of the earth.”

That’s Bannon’s version. There are a few problems with it, however.

Read on for some of the problems that were unearthed.  And this is a trusted White House senior adviser?  He does not know the truth nor where he was at! I do not buy the idea that Bannon was a confused young naval officer.  Tell me again why Drumpf would have him as an adviser.  Oh, right — two racist peas in a pod.

Bloomberg — Mueller’s team of investigators has sent subpoenas in recent weeks from a Washington grand jury to global banks for account information and records of transactions involving Manafort and some of his companies, as well as those of a long-time business partner, Rick Gates, according to people familiar with the matter.  …

As prosecutors gather many years of information about his financial affairs, Manafort could be dragged deeper into any number of legal disputes. He has a history of doing business with oligarchs and politicians in Ukraine and Russia that predates his political work for President Donald Trump, with payments routed through foreign banks and investments in U.S. real estate.  …

As a practical matter, the blitz of recent subpoenas to global banks poses a challenge to Manafort’s ability to continue his day-to-day business activities as a consultant and investor, said one of the people familiar with the matter.  …

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan were investigating Manafort earlier this year, examining allegations that he laundered money from eastern Europe into New York properties, according to two people familiar with the earlier inquiry. The Southern District of New York handed off their work to the special counsel’s team once Mueller was appointed, the people said.

This is a follow-up to the piece that TC wrote about on 09 August 2017 Open Thread – 8/9/2017.

If I were Manafort, I’d watch my back because the Russian oligarchs are known to not play well with others when the game gets derailed.  Mueller’s investigation is broadening and the cast of characters seems to be growing.  When Drumpf was asked about the raid, he said “I was surprised to see it.  I’ve always found Paul Manafort to be a very decent man.”  I only have one question though, or more correctly, one statement . . . I’d like to know Drumpf’s definition of “decent”.  I doubt it is the same as mine.

Daily Kos — Popular vote loser Donald Trump’s sabotage of the Affordable Care Act isn’t limited to making threats and causing uncertainty for health insurers. He and his administration are taking active, destructive measures to wreck the law they were elected, and in the case of HHS Secretary Tom Price confirmed by the Senate, to uphold. The latest action by the administration is to halt federal outreach to Latinos, one of the communities that has the highest rate of uninsurance.  …

That labor of love included sending cabinet members to Latino communities, translating all the materials for enrollment into Spanish, working with Latino civil rights groups like LULAC and National Council of La Raza (now called Unidos), having townhall televised on Spanish-language channels, as well as an extensive advertising campaign in all forms of Spanish-language media. As a result of all the Obama administration’s efforts, the Latino population saw the largest decline in its uninsured rate of any ethnic community.  …

None of these groups has heard a peep out of the Trump administration about efforts to promote enrollments in the new plan year.

How many times have we heard Drumpf say that Obamacare was “bad” and it was “imploding”.  Drumpf said that he would replace it with something better and cheaper.  “You’re going to love it,” he said.  The numerous attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare fell flat, and rightfully so.  Imploding?  This is not the case.  Sure it has its faults, what plan doesn’t?  But when you look at the numbers of citizens covered by medical insurance now that previously had none, I call that success.  Well it looks like the Drumpf administration is going to assist in the decline of Obamacare — sabotage it — which is what I figured he’d do, one way or another.  It is time to show Drumpf and the Republicans the door out!

My Universe

You know that fishing trip you went on with your dad, way back when?  The cat went on his own fishing trip!

 

 

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Jul 312017
 

Eye torture day.  I’m in a big rush.  I’ll comment when I return, if I can.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:18 (average 4:32).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From NY Times: A little more than a year after the Russian effort to interfere in the American presidential election came to light, the diplomatic fallout — an unraveling of the relationship between Moscow and Washington on a scale not seen in decades — is taking its toll.

President Vladimir V. Putin bet that Donald J. Trump, who had spoken fondly of Russia and its authoritarian leader for years, would treat his nation as Mr. Putin has longed to have it treated by the West. That is, as the superpower it once was, or at least a major force to be reckoned with, from Syria to Europe, and boasting a military revived after two decades of neglect.

That bet has now backfired, spectacularly. If the sanctions overwhelmingly passed by Congress last week sent any message to Moscow, it was that Mr. Trump’s hands are now tied in dealing with Moscow, probably for years to come.

House and Senate Republicans got their quid, when the Fuhrer took the White House. They don’t care if Putin [R-RU] gets his quo. Trump [R-RU] signed the bill, only because he knew Congress would override a veto. Passing sanctions helps Republican legislators hide their seditious participation in covering-up Trump’s Treason. RESIST!!

From Washington Post: Even if they weren’t able to snuff out Obamacare, Republicans appear determined to ensure its marketplaces accelerate their meltdown.

Over the weekend, President Trump castigated the Senate for failing to pass multiple versions of legislation repealing parts of the Affordable Care Act, despite a marathon health-care debate that spanned four days last week. The president has few options left at this point, but he does have power over one crucial part of the ACA marketplaces: payments covering cost-sharing discounts (or CSRs) that insurers must offer to the lowest-income customers. These payments are estimated to total $7 billion this year — making up about 15 percent of all federal subsidies on which marketplace plans are counting.

At this moment, it’s up to the administration whether to make the monthly CSR payments to insurers. So far, it has delivered them around the 20th of each month. But the president tweeted on Saturday that he’s considering withholding the next batch (presumably in August), if Republicans don’t find a way to mov past their seemingly insurmountable gridlock on health care:

Click Through. I would hope the insurers could sue the Reich. Howl, Protesters! Howl! RESIST!!

Cartoon:

0731Cartoon

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Jul 302017
 

Wendy left a short time ago, and I desperately needed destinking.  Portland entered an excessive heat warning starting yesterday and extending through the entire week.  Today is only 89° (60% humidity).  Thursday is forecast at 109°.  ARGH!  Tomorrow I have my semi-annual eye torture by Alison, my eye cancer surgeon, to make sure there has been no recurrence.  Ultrasound on the eye is like scratching a chalk board inside your head.  I’ll be gone most of the day and will be fully dilated and useless when I return, so please expect no more than a Personal Update.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:07 (average 4:45).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From YouTube (RWW Channel): RWW News: Rick Joyner Says Chaos Is Proof Trump Is An ‘Extraordinary Leader,” Just Like Jesus

Barf Bag Alert!!

What a crock from this Republican Supply-side pseudo-Christian. However, Trump is just like Republican Supply-side Jesus (the exact opposite of the Real Jesus). So where is Supply-side Judas when we need him? RESIST!!

From Daily Kos:

Senate Republicans failed in their latest attempt to take health coverage from 16 million people with so-called “skinny repeal.” So how’s Donald Trump responding? By lamenting the failure and promising to do what he can to blow up the system so that at least a few million people lose coverage:

 

Very presidential. So populist. What a champion of working people. After sleeping on it, Trump expressed the deep thought that “If Republicans are going to pass great future legislation in the Senate, they must immediately go to a 51 vote majority, not senseless 60”—after a 51-49 vote.

What an idiot!! RESIST!!

From NY Times: President Trump’s admonition that the police should not be “too nice” while transporting suspects drew laughter and cheers from a crowd of officers on Friday, but police officials swiftly made it clear they did not find the words funny.

From New York to Los Angeles, law enforcement authorities criticized the president’s remarks. Experts worried that his words could encourage the inappropriate use of force. A defense lawyer even signaled that he might use video of the speech in court.

The criticism online started shortly after Mr. Trump’s comments, which came at an event in Brentwood, N.Y., which was intended to support the police in their fight against La Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, a gang that has been accused of several murders on Long Island.

After calling for more immigration officers to help arrest the gang members, Mr. Trump told officers, “Please don’t be too nice.”

“Like when you guys put somebody in the car, and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put your hand over” their head, he said, putting his hand above his head for emphasis. “I said, ‘You can take the hand away, O.K.?’”

To the best of my knowledge, no President has ever publicly called for criminal police brutality. But the Fuhrer is a Resident, not a President. RESIST!!

Cartoon:

0730Cartoon

Redux time!

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Mar 252017
 

Yesterday my doctor gave me Prednisone and too little Oxycodone.  I’m still quite ill, but the Prednisone seems to be helping.  I slept six hours last night.  I’m enclosing video’s today, because tomorrow is a Wendy day, and she is bringing her sister.  Wendy will be in Colorado next weekend to help a life-long friend move to Portland.  Her sister will be filling in for her then, and tomorrow we teach her how, so I’ll be busy.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:07 (average 5:02).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short TakesThe Truth Of Trump’s “I Alone Can Fix It” Canard | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann

 

The magic stone under the Fuhrer’s skin is a turd. His followers are deplorable, not because they are evil, but because they are so gullible that they think and do what they are told. For years, I have called that Republican trait, InsaniTEA. RESIST!!

Monologue: Repeal and Disgrace | Real Time with Bill Maher

 

I have been quite irritated by the flood of SPAM from left wing organizations taking credit for defeating RepubliCare and telling me to give them money because of it. What shameless BS! Republicans defeated it themselves. RESIST!!

New Rule: Trump and the Long Con | Real Time with Bill Maher

 

Spot on! RESIST!!

Cartoon:

0325Cartoon

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Mar 252017
 

I had a very busy day yesterday being out of the house from 1130 hours until 2000 hours.  I was pooped and as a result, slept in this morning.  Now I can't sleep, but I tried!  Argh!!!

Short Takes

Washington Post — Republican leaders abruptly pulled their overhaul of the nation’s health-care system from the House floor on Friday, a dramatic defeat for President Trump and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan that leaves a major campaign promise unfulfilled and casts doubt on the Republican Party’s ability to govern.

The decision leaves President Barack Obama’s chief domestic achievement in place and raises questions about the GOP’s ability to advance other high-stakes priorities, including tax reform and infrastructure spending. Ryan (R-Wis.) remains without a signature accomplishment as speaker, and the defeat undermines Trump’s image as a skilled dealmaker willing to strike compromises to push his agenda forward. 

In an interview with The Washington Post, Trump deflected any responsibility for the setback and instead blamed Democrats. “We couldn’t get one Democratic vote,” he said.   …

But the White House and House leaders both saw the key bloc as the House Freedom Caucus, a group of roughly three dozen hard-line conservatives who made numerous demands of the bill since January — including a flat repeal of the ACA, a major reworking of the GOP bill’s tax incentives and new Medicaid restrictions.

Click through to read about the spin being put on the health care debacle by Republicans.  Lyin' Ryan did a little bit of a Republican mea culpa but it rings very hollow.  When he says he wants the best for the people, don't believe it.

YouTubePRESIDENT TRUMP'S FULL STATEMENT AFTER GOP HEALTHCARE BILL IS PULLED 3 24 17  

NY Times — Mr. Trump blamed the failure of the G.O.P.’s health care bill on the Democrats.

This is misleading. Democrats have been united in their opposition since the beginning of the fight to repeal and replace the health law. But Republicans did not need Democratic support to pass their legislation.

Republicans needed 215 votes in the House to pass the bill. They have 237 out of the 435 seats, meaning they could afford only 22 party defections. Before the bill was pulled, 33 Republicans were opposed.

The White House did not immediately respond when asked if Mr. Trump ever tried courting Democratic members in the House.

Always fact check Drumpf!  But then, we already know that!

YouTube — The Truth Of Trump’s “I Alone Can Fix It” Canard | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann | GQ              

It seems that Drumpf was unable to fix the health care bill.  So much for his promise for better and cheaper health care for all.

The New Yorker — An able-bodied senior citizen who refuses to do anything but watch television receives three free government meals every day, according to reports.

The senior, who has three piping-hot meals wheeled up to him each day, reportedly has no intention of working and prefers to fill his hours watching cable news.

Even more outrageous, the recipient of the meals spends most weekends in Florida, where the flow of free government food continues without interruption.

Harland Dorrinson, the executive director of the Center for Benefit Reduction, a think tank that focuses on reducing federal benefits, called the individual’s consumption of free government meals “the worst abuse of the system I’ve ever seen.”

Why is it that this buffoon gets "Meals on Wheels" when other seniors won't because the Republicans are cutting Meals on Wheels from their proposed budget?

My Universe — This video is longer than most, but I found it funny.  Fortunately, I don't have this problem with my cats!

 

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Kochs Want YOUR Health Care

 Posted by at 12:41 pm  Politics
Mar 062017
 

The Koch Brothers are pleased that the Trump Reich is following their father’s lead in dealing closely with a Russian autocrat, but just as disappointed that their long-term efforts to repeal the ACA have not borne fruit.  Now they’re even more worried that the pressure constituents have been exerting has legislators fearful for their jobs, so the evil twins are turning up the heat.

0306kochfamily

Saying their patience is at an end, conservative activist groups backed by the billionaire Koch brothers and other powerful interests on the right are mobilizing to pressure Republicans to fulfill their promise to swiftly repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Their message is blunt and unforgiving, with the goal of reawakening some of the most extensive conservative grass-roots networks in the country. It is a reminder that even as Republicans control both the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade, the party’s activist wing remains restless and will not go along passively for the sake of party unity.

With angry constituents storming town hall-style meetings across the country and demanding that Congress not repeal the law, these new campaigns are a sign of a growing concern on the right that lawmakers might buckle to the pressure…

From <NY Times>

Fortunately, there is also a push from the other side.

GOPVoting

Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act have encountered a new obstacle: adamant opposition from many older Americans whose health insurance premiums would increase.

AARP and its allies are bombarding congressional offices with objections as two House committees plan to vote on the Republicans’ bill this week.

If the law is repealed, the groups say, people in their 50s and 60s could see premiums rise by $2,000 to $3,000 a year or more: increases of 20 percent to 25 percent or higher.

Under current rules, insurers cannot charge older adults more than three times what they charge young adults for the same coverage. House Republican leaders would allow a ratio of five to one — or more, if states choose… [emphasis added]

From <NY Times>

Although I an glad that AARP has mounted this campaign, I so wish they had not been so positive to Republicans before the election.  It’s a shame that so many seniors who voted for Trump and his Republican fascists are going to get screwed because they did so.  I feel sorry for them , but I feel far sorrier for those among us who did the right thing and are getting screwed anyway.

I recommend reading the rest of both articles.  Then

RESIST!!

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