Monday, April 24, 2017

French Figureheads

You don't have to speak the language to see it:

"Macron, Le Pen advance to French presidential runoff" by Alissa J. Rubin New York Times  April 23, 2017

PARIS — With 90 percent of votes counted, the Interior Ministry said former finance minister Emmanuel Macron had nearly 24 percent, giving him a slight cushion over far-right firebrand Marine Le Pen’s 22 percent. The mainstream right candidate, François Fillon, collected just under 20 percent, slightly ahead of the far-left’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon, at 19 percent.

Looks like they couldn't deny Le Pen. She probably won twice that, and that is in no way an endorsement of her. It's just the way elections are rigged.

Macron, a former investment banker, abandoned traditional parties a year ago to form his own movement with an eclectic blend of left and right views. Few analysts give Le Pen much of a chance of winning in the second round, however. Even before official results were announced, the political establishment was rallying behind Macron, warning of the dangers of a victory by Le Pen. 

What you realize there is Macron's movement and grass-roots support is non-existent compared to Le Pen. My pre$$ calls it an eclectic movement, ha-ha-ha!

Bernard Cazeneuve, the sitting Socialist prime minister, called Le Pen’s platform “dangerous and sectarian” and said it would “impoverish, isolate, and divide” the country.

“It will inevitably lead to the end of Europe and of the euro, and, eventually, to France’s relegation,” he said.

Then she will be staying on the same path you are?

For now, voters narrowly embraced Macron’s centrist calls for change over more strident appeals from the far left and the far right for France to fortify itself against immigration and globalization.

His success also suggests that despite multiple terrorist attacks in France recently, a message of outreach to immigrants and an acceptance of Muslims as well as of ethnic diversity have some currency.

Le Pen campaigned stridently against Muslim immigration, linking it to security threats, and she may have benefited from a final surge of support after a terrorist attack in Paris on Thursday.

During the campaign, Macron offered a vision of a tolerant and progressive France and a united Europe with open borders. But Le Pen — in an echo of Trump — crafted a ‘‘French-first’’ platform that called for closed borders, tougher security, less immigration, and dropping the shared euro currency to return to the French franc.

That is why she will not be allowed to win. Go back to the franc and the French economy will soar.

In his address to supporters as the returns were still being tabulated, Macron emphasized that he wanted to be the president of all France. But the results showed that the country remains deeply divided.

The fact that four candidates with markedly different views came within a few points of one another in the vote suggested that the fight about what vision of France will dominate the future is far from over.

Mélenchon refused to accept early projections that indicated his defeat. But Fillon conceded, saying that he had failed to “convince” the French. “The obstacles put on my path were too numerous, too cruel,” he said, obliquely referring to embezzlement scandals that swirled around his campaign.

Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon, who was far behind in Sunday’s results, quickly conceded defeat. Declaring ‘‘the left is not dead,’’ he also urged supporters to back Macron.

In Paris, protesters angry at Le Pen’s advance — some from anarchist and antifascist groups — scuffled with police.

Officers fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. They detained three people as demonstrators burned cars, danced around bonfires, and dodged riot police. At a peaceful protest by around 300 people at the Place de la Republique some sang ‘‘No Marine and No Macron!’’

After the results were announced, French politicians on the left and right urged voters to block Le Pen’s path to power in the runoff, saying her politics would bring disaster to France.

‘‘Extremism can only bring unhappiness and division to France,’’ Fillon said. ‘‘As such, there is no other choice than to vote against the extreme right.’’

Sunday’s voting took place amid heightened security in the first election under France’s state of emergency, which has been in place since gun-and-bomb attacks in Paris in 2015. About 50,000 officers were deployed to maintain security at polling stations.

On Thursday, a gunman killed a police officer and wounded two others on Paris’ iconic Champs-Élysées boulevard before he was fatally shot.

The absence in the runoff of candidates from either the mainstream left Socialists or the right-wing Republicans party also marked a seismic shift in French politics.

France is now entering unchartered territory, because whoever wins on May 7 cannot count on the backing of France’s political mainstream parties. Both Macron and Le Pen will need legislators in Parliament to pass laws and implement much of their programs....

And they currently have none.


"Defeating Trump’s French connection" April 23, 2017

FIFTEEN YEARS AFTER her father shocked the world by making the final round of the French presidential election, Marine Le Pen repeated the feat on Sunday, finishing second in a field of 11 candidates. If anything, the stakes heading into the run-off vote are higher this time, and the potential consequences of a Le Pen victory June 7 even more ominous.

When the elder Le Pen, a longtime right-wing crackpot, advanced to the final round of voting against Jacques Chirac in 2002, virtually the entire French political world rallied to Chirac’s side. So did the international community: then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell, without specifically urging a vote against Le Pen, tipped his hand when he said: “I’m pleased that the polls suggest he will be overwhelmingly marginalized and defeated by Mr. Chirac.”

The younger Le Pen has tried to project a more moderate image since taking control of her father’s political movement, even while keeping up the anti-immigrant scare-mongering that made her father such a notorious figure.

What has really changed, though, is the international context.

When Jean-Marie Le Pen ran in 2002, he seemed like a quirky throwback, never given a serious shot at victory. Marine Le Pen, though, is riding a wave of anti-immigrant populism in Western countries that has propelled once-noxious views into the mainstream.

Running against an opponent who has never held elected office, Emmanuel Macron, she stands at least an outside chance of victory.

In a sign of how much the world has changed, President Trump, himself a beneficiary of anti-immigrant populism, has barely concealed his support for Le Pen. A Le Pen victory in May would continue the trend that began with last year’s vote in Britain to exit the European Union as well as Trump’s election in November. She wants to take France out of the European Union, and rails against Muslims and immigrants.

Macron, 39, an ardently pro-European Union candidate, could hardly make a better foil for Le Pen. He even once worked at Rothschild, the bank whose very name is an anti-Semitic dog whistle in French politics. Left-wing protesters threw a temper tantrum on the streets of Paris Sunday night after none of the leftist candidates advanced, raising fears some might sit out the final vote. But just as French voters proved a willingness to put aside partisan differences to defeat one Le Pen in 2002, one hopes Macron can rally French voters to defeat another threat to decency and tolerance in May.


Clear on who you should vote for now?


"French minister resigns over inquiry over daughters’ jobs" Associated Press  March 22, 2017

PARIS — French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux resigned Tuesday a few hours after prosecutors opened an investigation into a report that he hired his two daughters for a series of temporary parliamentary jobs, starting when they were 15 and 16 years old.

President Francois Hollande said he had accepted Le Roux’s resignation after a meeting with Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve at the Elysee Palace.

France’s national financial prosecutor’s office opened a preliminary investigation Tuesday after TMC television reported Monday night that Le Roux employed his daughters as parliamentary assistants for a total salary amount of about $59,000.

The office said the preliminary investigation into the facts disclosed in the TV program is being led by the French police agency charged with fighting corruption and financial and tax wrongdoing.

While it is legal in France for politicians to hire family members, the TMC report suggests that Le Roux’s daughters did not perform all of the work.

Le Roux’s daughters, now 23 and 20, allegedly started working as parliamentary aides for their father over short vacation contracts when they were 15 and 16 and Le Roux was a lawmaker in the French National Assembly.

‘‘These temporary and official contracts, in accordance with the legal rules of the National Assembly, all corresponded, of course, to works actually carried out,’’ Le Roux insisted as he resigned.


Also see:

German nationalists elect top duo for general election

They want to drop the euro, and that won't be allowed.

"The Taliban hardly let up its campaign this past winter, repeatedly attacking strategic cities and towns in scattered regions, and gradually gaining influence or control over greater portions of the country...."

Looks like things are heating up on the western front, too.

"Pope Francis compares refugee centers to concentration camps" by Cleve R. Wootson Jr. Washington Post   April 23, 2017

WASHINGTON — The American Jewish Committee, which advocates for Jewish causes, released a statement saying it understood the pontiff’s sentiments but didn’t agree with his comparison.

‘‘The conditions in which migrants are currently living in some European countries may well be difficult, and deserve still greater international attention, but concentration camps they certainly are not,’’ AJC chief executive David Harris said on the group’s website.

‘‘The Nazis and their allies erected and used concentration camps for slave labor and the extermination of millions of people during World War II. There is no comparison to the magnitude of that tragedy.’’

‘‘We respectfully urge the pope to reconsider his regrettable choice of words,’’ Harris added.

According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there are 65.3 million forcibly displaced people across the world. Of the 21.3 million refugees in the world, half are children.

That's more than during WWII.

The Calais camp for migrants in northern France, nicknamed ‘‘the Jungle,’’ had cramped makeshift tents, vermin, contaminated water, and many inhabitants suffering from diseases, the Guardian reported.

In Greece, Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroublis, touring the Idomeni camp on the border with Macedonia, also compared it to a concentration camp. Idomeni was where a photo emerged of two Syrian parents washing their newborn baby, Bayan, in a puddle.

In Jerusalem on Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened Israel’s annual memorial day for the 6 million Jews systematically killed by Nazi Germany and its collaborators by saying the lessons of the Holocaust guide him daily and issuing a warning to Israel’s enemies not to test it.

The Nazis and their collaborators wiped out a third of world Jewry. The state of Israel was established just three years after the end of the war and hundreds of thousands of survivors made their way here."

And then proceeded to begin ethnically cleansing the area.


Yeah, somehow an article about the Pope and migrants turned into Israel and the Nazis.

So what military action is Israel preparing?

"North Korea is said to detain another US citizen" by Choe Sang-Hun New York Times   April 23, 2017

SEOUL — North Korea said Sunday it was ready to sink a US aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might, as two Japanese navy ships joined a US carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific, Reuters reported.

“Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike,” Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary. 

Don't say that; the next thing you know a false flag will be pinned on you.

The carrier USS Carl Vinson, which is heading toward the Korean Peninsula, began joint exercises Sunday with the Japanese naval ships in the Philippine Sea.

The Vinson, along with a US guided-missile cruiser and guided-missile destroyer, are continuing their journey north in the western Pacific Ocean, the Navy said.

Can we be sure of that?

The Vinson had canceled a scheduled visit to Australia to divert toward North Korea in a show of force, though it still conducted a curtailed training exercise with Australia before doing so....

The Times did a good job of clearing up that deception, 'er, misunderstanding.


I don't know about the most recent spy/defector they arrested; however, it can only be interpreted as a hostile act despite the assassination attempt that was cheered in some quarters.


Kim Jong Un’s half brother is reported assassinated in Malaysia
Malaysia arrests 2nd suspect in N. Korean’s death
N. Korea won’t accept result of autopsy on leader’s half brother
North Korean charged in slaying of Kim’s half brother
Malaysia seeks to question 7 in killing of Kim Jong Nam
North Korea says Malaysia can’t be trusted to investigate killing of Kim’s half brother The already sensational case is becoming more dramatic by the day.

Which is why it stinks to high heaven.

Malaysia: No cause of death yet for exiled North Korean South Korea’s spy agency believes North Korea was behind the killing, but has produced no evidence.

Yeah, well....

Suspects in N. Korean death coated hands with poison
Police say nerve agent found on Kim Jong Un’s slain half-brother
In Kim Jong Nam’s death, North Korea lets loose a weapon of mass destruction, a stark reminder of the North’s lesser-known weapons of mass destruction: a stockpile of chemical and biological weapons.

Here we go again!

Airport declared free of nerve agent
Poisoning of Kim caused paralysis, quick death, a well-planned hit by two women


N. Korean ministries organized Kim Jong Nam killing, the South says

Then you know where the blame truly lies.

N. Korea: Heart attack, not nerve agent, killed Kim Jong Nam Ri Tong Il, the former North Korean deputy ambassador to the United Nations, told the media that it made no sense to say the two women used such a deadly toxin without also killing or sickening themselves and bystanders.

Yeah, a lot of people on the web have pointed that out.

Malaysia, in major diplomatic break, forces out North Korean ambassador
North Korea, citing Kim Jong Nam dispute, blocks Malaysians from exiting

Tit for tat until the get the body back?

Malaysia says Kim Jong Nam’s body released to North Korea

Then the missile test got everyone on edge, and the end result benefited whom

White House reverses course, cancels North Korea talks

'twas the first of many reversals with this guy.

If he's going to do anything, he'll have to do it before the elections. Hopefully, China can cool things down before then.

Looks like the war has already begun.


This is not Brexit or Trump, so say au revoir to Marine Le Pen

From the same pre$$ who continuously claimed Clinton would win. Not only do they never learn, they continue peddling the same crap.

Related: The ‘Alt Right’ is Limited Hangout 

I knew that. Think of the political spectrum as a funnel.

"Few gave credence to the prospect that Le Pen could actually deliver on her radical promises. Even if she were to shock pollsters and win, her party would almost certainly fall well short of claiming a majority in the French Parliament after legislative elections in June. She would be relegated to figurehead status, with governing handled by a prime minister selected by the party in command...."

Siren wails as Israel marks annual Holocaust Remembrance Day

Not a word about Korea today?

Sunday Globe Special: Undermining UMass-Boston

After a good nights sleep I wanted to finish up yesterday:

"UMass Boston’s biggest challenge? Its own ‘Big Dig’" by Laura Krantz Globe Staff  April 22, 2017

The most gargantuan challenge facing UMass Boston is one you can’t see.

As the campus struggles to balance its budget, complete long-delayed construction projects, and find a new chancellor, it has yet to solve the most complicated, expensive, and risky problem on campus: fixing a dangerously unstable parking garage that sits beneath many buildings and the university’s central plaza.

The subterranean garage was built along with the rest of the campus in the 1970s, part of a misbegotten construction project that sent two state senators to jail in a corruption scandal.

Its concrete is crumbling, sometimes falling onto cars and natural gas lines. The structure is so deteriorated that a 2015 engineering report found it unsafe for firetrucks to drive onto the plaza for fear they might fall through.

In many ways, the dilemma of the underground garage illustrates the dynamics that plague the University of Massachusetts Boston and have led to its current budget troubles....


RelatedNo one wants to pay to fix this crumbling garage, and that’s telling

What led to all the trouble:

"Growth spree has the UMass Boston campus in a bind" by Laura Krantz Globe Staff  March 18, 2017

It was the autumn of 2011, and the future of UMass Boston seemed bright.

Four years into his tenure, Chancellor J. Keith Motley had just received the results of an ambitious report that would set in motion a decade of growth at the city’s only public research university.

By 2015, the campus would have more students, more tenured professors, its first-ever dormitory, new PhD programs, and an array of new buildings to replace many of the unloved, and crumbling, red brick buildings that have long defined the campus. The changes would bring not only first-rate laboratories and classrooms but, at long last, a view of Columbia Point’s sparkling waterfront. By 2025, it predicted, the campus would be transformed.

That vision, however, came with a huge warning: Those plans would be expensive, and without careful planning could saddle the university with a deficit of as much as $41 million by 2015.

The report’s authors cautioned administrators to watch every dollar, find efficiencies wherever possible. They would need to raise tuition, recruit more full-pay students from outside Massachusetts, and scrutinize the financial impact of each new program.

Now, five years later, the campus finds itself in a situation much like the one it was warned about. In its quest to rise from a commuter school to a top-tier research university, it followed through with the buildings, the programs, and the faculty while largely ignoring the warning that came coupled to those promises.

“I think what they became was kind of reckless,” said John Hess, a longtime English professor who served on the committee that wrote the 2011 report.

Despite a prediction last summer that it would generate a $2.3 million surplus this year, the campus instead faces a budget gap that could reach $30 million by the end of the fiscal year in June.

It is a body blow to the mission and image of a university that plays a critical role in a city known as a higher-education capital, offering undergraduate and graduate school opportunity to students with high aims but limited means. Tuition for in-state students is $13,400 and $32,000 for out-of-state students. Seventy-one percent of its 12,847 undergraduates receive financial aid. 

Hey, kids, have you noticed the wider world is all about illusion and imagery?

.  .  .

Administrators are scrambling to make ends meet, clean up construction debris, improve fund-raising, and reverse declining enrollment after it dropped by 183 students this year from last. Frantic attempts to cut costs have left professors demoralized and skeptical about whether administrators have faithfully shepherded the campus, according to interviews with faculty. 

Keep the $crambling in mind for later.

University of Massachusetts president Martin T. Meehan has hired a special administrator from the outside to assist Motley in righting the ship, but interviews with longtime professors and a review of university documents detailing the situation make it clear that the problems facing UMass Boston stem not from one person or one decision alone.

Get rid of them all then.


UMass Amherst raises $379 million, surpassing fund-raising goal

UMass president buys Hub waterfront condo for $975,000

He's on a mi$$ion.

Over the years — decades, even — a pattern of shrinking state support, ballooning maintenance needs, and at times chaotic management and lack of communication have combined to steer the school into an untenable situation that has left students to bear more of the cost, with tuition and fees up by 6 percent in the past year alone, according to campus financial documents and faculty and university officials.

This is absolutely mind-boggling to me when you consider the endless streams of self-aggrandizing articles that come from the Globe telling us how great the schools are here, best in the nation (ignore the lead-tainted water and leaking roofs), and that Deval was the education governor, and on and on and on!!

Once again the Ma$$achu$etts myth clashes with reality.

On the flip side, the increase in tuition and fees is to pay the debt interest. How's that for kids with student loans, 'eh?

“I do wish we had reacted sooner to stem the tide on our budget deficit at UMass Boston,” said board of trustees vice chairwoman Maria Furman.

Meehan said that when he took over in 2015, he began requiring quarterly reports from the campuses — and those reports offered a window into UMass Boston’s problems.

“It became clear that we had an issue that we needed to address at Boston,” Meehan said in an interview Friday. “To the extent there was a lack of attention, we are making adjustments.”

.  .  .

Furman said the change in board leadership, and in the UMass president’s office, slowed the board’s reaction to the problems. She said she is unhappy with some of the ways the campus has tried to cut costs.

For example, last summer the school sent notices to about 400 part-time faculty to say they might not be rehired in the fall, a notice required by union rules. It then rehired most of them.

More cuts followed last fall and this spring, including courses canceled, conference sponsorships ended, and office supply budgets curtailed.

Students and faculty worry more cuts will come as Barry Mills, the former Bowdoin College president who is Meehan’s pick to help run the campus, tries to balance the budget. They are also concerned about whether the university has followed through on certain cuts it promised.

For example, administrators instituted a hiring freeze in November but since then have hired 29 people, including four administrators with salaries of more than $100,000 apiece, records show. Earlier last year the school hired or promoted 10 other top administrators to positions that pay between $96,000 to $228,000, records show.


Meanwhile, faculty said they are left to cope with the results of a disorganized administration that has added many new programs while leaving others to languish.

As long as you get your check.... what's the problem?

The campus has added 22 new degree and certificate programs since 2014, according to records provided by the campus. They range from a new doctorate in global comparative public administration to a certificate program in “game-based teaching with technology.”

At the same time, some professors say that programs they have developed are ignored.

“We’ve built up these small areas of expertise and excellence but then the university doesn’t nourish them and people get disillusioned,” said David Levy, a longtime professor in the business school.

Levy said he helped pioneer a program that researches organizations and social change, and it became the first track in a PhD program in business administration. But the program lost its PhD administrator and cannot replace that person because of the hiring freeze and they were not able to admit new students this coming year, he said.

.  .  .

What remains unchanged at UMass Boston, however, is a deep sense of purpose.

Faculty believe serving their students, many of whom also work full time and raise families, is more important than the hurdles they now have to overcome to teach, even as the bureaucratic chaos has left them anxious and frustrated.

“People love it, despite everything,” Hess said.


Do I need permission to go to the bathroom in college?

Many faculty still recall the early days of the urban college. It was founded in 1964 as the state’s only public university besides the flagship in Amherst. Amid political turmoil and civil rights activism, a generation of baby boomers who couldn’t afford a private education, or didn’t want one, flocked to the school’s original location at 100 Arlington St. in the Back Bay.

Ann Withorn, a professor who taught at UMass Boston from 1977 to 2013, remembers the college when it was home to a group of idealistic, sometimes rowdy, academics who came of age in an era of protest and social change. The place has changed a lot since then, she said.

“But the students who want to go there are still very similar to the students who’ve always wanted to go there,” she said. “It always was the higher education for everybody.”

The last thing I want to do is sit in a classroom and listen to someone wax nostalgic about the past.

Today everybody includes many first-generation, low-income, minority, and immigrant students. The majority-minority campus is among the most diverse in the city and the most affordable. At the same time, its research prowess has increased, and it attracts top-quality faculty.

But because many of the students lack the financial stability of their counterparts at the private colleges just a few miles away, the campus’s financial distress has had an even larger impact on their studies. A recent restriction on photocopying, for example, is a big deal, because students must now often pay to print handouts elsewhere or access a computer to read them online.

Juan Pablo Blanco, an immigrant from Argentina who until recently was undocumented, works full time as a restaurant manager in Cambridge while he pursues an undergraduate degree in philosophy.

OMG! It's such an agenda-pushing paper from cover to cover.

Of course, no legal citizen would have wanted to manage a restaurant.

One of the biggest ways the budget cuts hurt students, he said, is that some course sections have been canceled, meaning students sometimes have to wait longer to graduate.

“It’s becoming a lot more tricky to figure out,” Blanco said.

“When am I going to take them, and how am I going to graduate on time?”

His partner is a master’s degree student who wasn’t sure if her teaching assistant job would be eliminated in the cuts. Instead she accepted a position that covered just three quarters of her costs, to make sure she would have at least some income, and took out loans to cover the rest.


“Having to pay money out of pocket is a huge hit for us,” Blanco said.

.  .  .

While tuition increases can be painful for students, costs appear to have risen at the slowest pace of several scenarios outlined in the report to fund the new programs and buildings. Costs for in-state students have risen about 18 percent since 2012.

That's con$idered $low in this era -- we are told -- of nearly zero inflation?

The number of out-of-state students has grown, but not at the rate needed to keep up with costs. There were 2,641 out-of-state students in 2012 and 3,538 last year, according to a 2017 bond prospectus from the university. The report suggested adding as many as 3,000 per year.

Do they have a cour$e on frying the books?

Motley, the campus chancellor, did not respond to a request to be interviewed for this story. Neither did Provost Winston Langley.


Amid its growing pains, one of the university’s biggest challenges has been the uncertainty of financial support from state government. In 1985 state funding made up 75 percent of the campus’s operating budget, the report said. Today it makes up 29.5 percent, including benefits the state pays for some UMass employees, according to UMass officials.

Your "public" colleges are ALREADY PRIVATE!

The 2011 report warned that the school should advocate for more support but not count on it.

“This means engineering a major paradigm shift,” the report said.

“Adopting new financial models that reflect the new reality of public funding.”


A cornerstone of the 2011 report was a suite of new buildings that would be the first since the original structures went up 40 years ago.

In 1968 school leaders announced the move to Columbia Point, a 100-acre site formerly home to a landfill and cow pasture. But the opening of that campus in 1974 proved as much a curse as a blessing.

Shoddy construction began to crumble long before it should have. Giant chunks of concrete fell from the ceiling of an underground parking garage, so it had to be closed in 2006. In 1977, two state senators were jailed for extorting payments from a consultant that oversaw the project; the company itself was later accused of taking money for services it never performed.

NOTHING HAS CHANGED! Corruption and shoddy workmanship just like the Big Dig debt hole.

The 2011 report forecast that by 2014, the school’s 50th anniversary, there would be a “dramatic new UMass Boston,” with a dormitory, new classrooms, higher retention and graduation rates, and expanded research programs.

While some benchmarks have been met, and some projects completed, many lag significantly behind.

A new science complex opened two years behind schedule and cost $28 million more than expected. A new classroom building was delayed a year and ran $17 million over budget.

Thus the rise in fees and tuitions.

Another mammoth project on campus is one that ultimately won’t be seen. The university is in the midst of a utility and roadway project to install water, sewer, and electrical service underground.

That project stalled for a year because asbestos was found in the soil. That and other setbacks mean it is now set to cost $233 million instead of $142 million. The state has agreed to pay $75 million toward that project.

.  .  .

As UMass Boston nears its self-imposed debt cap, it has looked to private developers to finance projects like the $126 million dormitory, set to open in 2018 instead of 2014, and a $71 million parking garage. That dormitory project stalled for years amid opposition from the surrounding neighborhoods, state officials, private universities, and some students and professors themselves, who believed it would divert the school from its roots as a place for locals. 

THow about calling back all those tax subsidies going to Hollywood, GE, et al? 


Why would the university embark on so many construction projects at once when it knew the debt it would incur?

Phil Johnston, a UMass trustee who was chairman of the UMass Building Authority when many of the projects were built, said university officials believed they were imperative to the campus’s success.

The buildings “were bad to begin with, and then they deteriorated to the point where they had an impact on enrollment,” said Johnston.

But perhaps as much as the buildings, it’s the little things that matter to UMass Boston students, like how frequently the shuttle buses run from the JFK/UMass T station to campus. One set of budget cuts proposed reducing the frequency of those shuttles.

Janine Massicotte, 47, commuted for two and a half years from Worcester to UMass by public transportation. For five hours a day, several times a week, she took a city bus to the commuter rail to the T to that shuttle, and if it were to come less often, she said, she could miss her class.

Massicotte returned to school later in life, after she cared for her ailing father, and is one class shy of a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she said.

Now she worries the budget cuts will threaten the small class sizes that made it exciting to learn, and the diversity of classmates who taught her as much as the textbooks.

“It’s just going to be like any other school,” she said.

“And I think that’s too bad.”



What a mess, huh?


UMass Boston was warned of financial crisis years earlier

Memos were sent in 2012, 2014, and 2016, and they were warned that they were  “running out of money” in 2014. 

Could $22.3m budget gap threaten UMass Boston’s growth?

That was last December, and don't worry:

UMass receives sound bond ratings, with a caution on debt

More important than $tudents.

Enrollment at UMass reaches a new high


And they are still having money problems?

UMass Boston professors upset by cut in funding for library

UMass labor center loses director, some funding

UMass board is providing plenty of political theater

It's past the point of being funny.

UMass students decry changes in Africana Studies

And the very next day racist fliers appear? 

C'mon, kids (or professors?), that's a bit too obvious.

The knife in Motley's back?

"Man is stabbed at party at home of UMass Boston chancellor" by Laura Krantz and John Hilliard Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent  January 15, 2017

STOUGHTON — A 20-year-old man was stabbed during a party at the home of University of Massachusetts Boston chancellor J. Keith Motley early Sunday morning, according to local police and a statement from Motley.

My first thought was underaged drinking.

Motley was traveling at the time of the incident, according to a statement he released Sunday. He was rushing back home Sunday to learn more about what happened, he said, and he would have more to say later.

“I have learned about an incident that occurred at my residence last night and am very concerned about it as well as the health of the young man who was injured,” he said in the statement.

Motley was on vacation with his wife in Jamaica, according to two people with direct knowledge of his whereabouts.

Stoughton police said they received a 911 call at 2:48 a.m. Sunday reporting the stabbing.

At Motley’s Stoughton home, attorney Joseph Feaster answered the door Sunday afternoon and told a reporter the family had no statement. He said the stabbing victim is a friend of the family and that he was in stable condition.

“We are praying for him, and he is OK,” Feaster said.

Feaster said police have yet to interview family members.

“We haven’t had any conversations yet . . . no detectives have been by,” said Feaster.

About a half-dozen vehicles were parked around Motley’s home Sunday afternoon.

Neighbors contacted by a Globe reporter declined to go on the record but described the family as well-liked in the neighborhood. One neighbor said Motley hosts a Christmas party for neighbors each year.

Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to call the Stoughton police investigative unit.

I don't post addresses or phone numbers, sorry.

Motley has been chancellor of UMass Boston since 2007. He and his wife, Angela, have two daughters, one in college at UMass Amherst and the other in high school. Motley also has an older son.

A message left on Motley’s cellphone was not returned Sunday....


I'm told there were chaperones:

"Adults present at party where man was stabbed, UMass Boston chancellor says" by Nicole Fleming and Steve Annear Globe Correspondent and Globe Staff  January 16, 2017

STOUGHTON — University of Massachusetts Boston chancellor J. Keith Motley said adults were at his home early Sunday morning when a 20-year-old man was stabbed at a party there.

During a press conference Monday afternoon in front of his home, Motley, who was vacationing with his wife at the time of the incident, said he would never leave his children unattended and that “extended family” was present the night of the stabbing. which occurred outside the house.

“They had their friends here, but they also had lots of other folks here — family,” said Motley, who has two daughters, ages 17 and 20, as well as an older son. “They were watching the [Patriots] game and doing what young people do.”

And what is that exactly?

When asked if the party involved underage drinking, Motley declined to comment and said that’s something that “needs to be investigated.”

That's a crime in some places, or at least parents can be charged.

Motley said his children are “very responsible” and that his biggest concern was their emotional stability in the wake of a traumatic event.

“Someone whom they love was injured outside my home,” he said.

Oh, now it is outside and the only reason he can say that is the guy was found 1/2 a mile down the road bleeding in a car. 

Becoming emotional toward the end of the press conference, Motley stressed the importance of being a father first, and a chancellor second, in emergency situations like the one that pulled him away suddenly from the trip with his wife.

“ ‘Chancellor’ is a title,” he said, his voice wavering slightly. “ ‘Dad’ is an honor.”

He played the Dad card?


Globe says just fine the kidsWhat kind of message is that sending?

Mr Fix-It:

"UMass Boston chancellor’s authority is diluted amid campus financial woes" by Laura Krantz Globe Staff  March 14, 2017

Concerned about persistent financial problems at UMass Boston, the university board of trustees has significantly diluted chancellor J. Keith Motley’s authority in the day-to-day running of the institution.

Trustees have allowed Motley’s contract to expire and have hired former Bowdoin College president Barry Mills to oversee the nuts-and-bolts operation of the urban campus. On Monday, officials also named a new campus budget chief, replacing the longtime chief financial officer, who was fired in January.

The campus faces a deficit of up to $30 million, declining enrollment, overdue construction projects, and weakening fund-raising, according to UMass officials.

Adjunct professors have been laid off and research databases have been discontinued in an attempt to cut costs. In the history department, there’s even a prohibition on photocopying, the department chairman informed professors last week.

Mills, who will earn $250,000, said the new arrangement will allow Motley to continue as the public face of the university while Mills addresses its challenges. Mills said he is not interested in becoming chancellor.

This guy is getting a quarter-million to come in while they can't afford photocopies in history department!

Motley, who was paid $422,213 last year, was until recently the only African-American chancellor in the state university system, and many on the majority-minority campus, and in the city of Boston, look to him for inspiration.

That's almost half-a-million dollars! You halve that and it's 10 or so tuition for year!

In an interview with the Globe, Motley said UMass Boston is simply in a period of growth and transition, pointing to the many new construction projects underway. It is trying to juggle financial realities with the need to expand and update facilities in order to attract new students, he said. Motley said he welcomes Mills’s help and does not plan to leave.

That's going under kind of talk.

The financial concerns at UMass Boston have escalated in the past year. University officials have known for at least three years that they needed to address a budget gap. This year trustees grew increasingly alarmed that the campus administration was not moving fast enough to deal with the fiscal problems, according to interviews with three board members.

Last month the board was told the campus’s reserve in fiscal 2016 was less than half what it was in 2014, according to a copy of a report it received.

What kind of endowment do they have?

In addition, the operating margin at UMass Boston has grown from a $20 million surplus in fiscal 2010 to a deficit that could reach $30 million this year, according to a presentation campus officials gave last spring and new information from the central UMass office.

Campus officials, meanwhile, believe they can shrink the deficit to below $15 million by the end of the fiscal year in June, according to a campus spokesman.

The latest in a series of budget cutting measures were announced Thursday in a memo from the provost that said the reductions are necessary because other planned cuts have not happened yet.

The memo from provost Winston Langley called for the elimination of nonessential travel and a reduction in the number of summer courses, among other cuts.

Mills, who has advised UMass system president Martin T. Meehan over the past year on other UMass matters, is acting in a new role of deputy chancellor and chief operating officer.

Mills’s contract gives him the same powers as the chancellor. He reports to Motley but is in close contact with Meehan and the board. He has hired Robert Connolly, the former longtime UMass spokesman, to help him navigate the political landscape on campus.

“It’s a compliment to Keith that he recognized that he needed someone to help him with some of the details and the complexities that the campus has,” said Rob Manning, chairman of the trustees.

Mills’s contract does not include other pay and perks that college presidents typically enjoy.

Motley’s three-year contract expired in January and, in an unusual move by trustees, has not been renewed, according to the central UMass office. Typically, contract renewals are negotiated six months before the agreement expires.

The chancellor said UMass Boston is simply in a period of growth and transition. The campus is building its first-ever dormitory that will house 1,000 students starting in 2018.

“This allows for us to continue to work hard, but it also allows for me to have a partner internally to connect some of the dots that we need to connect that I can’t do by myself,” Motley said Thursday as he prepared for a fund-raising trip to Florida.

(Blog editor snorts)

At Bowdoin, Mills is credited with increasing the school’s endowment by $1 billion to $1.4 billion, replacing student loans with grants for all students on financial aid, doubling minority enrollment, and increasing campus sustainability.

Mills’s skills could be welcome at the Boston campus, where the endowment is $74.4 million and fund-raising has declined in recent years, from $14.7 million raised in fiscal 2013 to $10.5 million last year. In May, the campus’s chief fund-raising official, Gina Cappello, died in a car crash.

Enrollment at UMass Boston declined from 17,000 in the fall of 2015 to 16,800 last fall, and in the nursing program, a signature of the Boston campus, it dropped from 1,500 to 1,300, according to the school.

Motley and other trustees say one main reason for the enrollment decline is the major construction projects that have ripped up the campus and made it difficult to navigate, much less park. The projects are delayed and have cost more than expected.

It's a chicken-or-the-egg thing!

The cuts have demoralized faculty as they try to pursue research and teaching. The library discontinued its subscription to many online databases, especially those used by the humanities department, according to professors in that department.

Actually, the article that would come about five days later would say they are still loving it despite all the hardships.

Recently, departments have been asked to return money they had already been allocated. History department chairman Tim Hacsi wrote to his staff on March 6 to say the administration had requested $6,000 be returned. He asked professors to refrain from making photocopies for class unless absolutely necessary.

(Blog editor just shakes head)

Hacsi said he understands the school is facing hard times and needs to make cuts, but he would like it if administrators would communicate more clearly. “Any transparency would be a big plus,” he said.... That's the new buzzword to deflect all criticism.

We are TRANSPARENT -- whatever that means.


He's got quite a challenge ahead.

Also seeBaker urges UMass Boston not to make cuts that hurt students

I think it's too late.


Baker will commit $78 million to UMass Boston garage project

Here are some of the gargantuan projects dubbed ‘The Big Dig’

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sunday Globe Special: The $hirt Off Tom Brady's Back

"As Brady prepares to guide the Patriots against the Atlanta Falcons Sunday in his record seventh Super Bowl start, it seems like a lifetime ago that he arrived in New England as a fourth-string quarterback...."

Now he's a legend:

"Tom Brady gives much to Best Buddies, but has taken millions for his own charitable trust" by Bob Hohler Globe Staff  April 22, 2017

.... Charity watchdogs said it is not unusual for nonprofits to pay celebrities to help raise money, and they did not dispute that Best Buddies International, a nonprofit dedicated to helping intellectually and developmentally disabled people, has realized an enviable return on its relationship with Tom Brady, but nonprofit watchdogs said the arrangement could diminish Brady’s charitable image. 

I don't think so, not around here. That guy is as close to God as you can get.

Brady launched his Boston-based Change the World Foundation Trust, whose giving has focused almost entirely on causes tied to Brady’s personal interests, including his high school alma mater, his children’s private schools, and charities operated by his football friends, in 2005, after he signed his first big deal with the Patriots: a six-year, $60 million contract. He has since amassed personal wealth estimated at $180 million, while the net worth of his wife, Gisele Bundchen, is about $360 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth, a website that tracks such things.

In other words, he's just like the rest of the 1%, doling out money to family and friends. That's how the $y$tem works.

Brady, the sole trustee of his private charity, initially funded the nonprofit with a donation of $490,000 in 2005. Since then he has not made a significant financial contribution, according to tax reports through 2015, the most recently available.

Instead, Best Buddies has almost entirely funded Brady’s foundation. Through 2015, nearly 98 percent of Change the World’s total contributions of $2.3 million since Brady’s initial donation were $2.25 million in grants from Best Buddies. Including Brady’s donation, the percentage is about 80%.

And where did the money go? From 2011 through to 2015, Change the World gave grants of $55,000 to Best Buddies, after donating a total of $80,000 over the previous three years.

Otherwise, from 2011 through 2015, Change the World distributed nearly $1 million to more than 30 nonprofits. The largest beneficiary was Brady’s alma mater, Junipero Serra High School, in San Mateo, Calif., at $250,000.

The next largest grants, $100,000 each, went to Santa Monica Catholic Community, where Brady and Gisele Bundchen were married in 2009, and the TB12 Foundation, a charity Brady formed in 2015 to support clients of his Foxborough-based TB12 fitness and nutrition company.

Ohio State University received a $50,000 donation in honor of Ed Razek, a former Victoria’s Secret executive who is said to have helped launch Brady’s romance with Bundchen by setting them up in 2006.

Others getting $50,000 were Brady’s college alma mater, the University of Michigan, for cancer research; as well as Dana-Farber Cancer Center, Mission of Hope Haiti, and the Navy SEAL Foundation.

A charity honoring Tom Martinez, Brady’s longtime personal coach who died in 2012, received $37,800. And $30,000 went to a nursing facility in Minnesota that cared for Brady’s grandfather before he died in 2016.

In addition, Change the World donated $10,000 to Saint David’s School in New York City and $20,000 to the Apple Orchard School in Brookline, both of which Brady’s children have attended.

Nonprofits created by Brady’s former teammates also benefited, with grants of $25,000 going to Vince Wilfork’s charity, $10,000 to Deion Branch’s, and $5,000 to Wes Welker’s.

The entire arrangement has stirred concerns among some nonprofit watchdogs....

By the end of the article you will not have one, and besides, there was nothing illegal done.


I gue$$ Brady and the Globe are no longer best buddies. Not hard to figure out why (hint, hint, hint, hint, hint, hint). 

Maybe he can sell the shirt:

"Man suspected of stealing Tom Brady’s jersey ID’d as Mexican journalist" by Jim McBride, Globe Staff  |  March 20, 2017

This time maybe you really can blame the media.

What do you mean "this time?"

The mystery of Tom Brady’s missing Super Bowl LI jersey was solved Monday when the NFL and Houston authorities announced it had been recovered in Mexico with the help of Houston police, the FBI, Mexican law enforcement, and the Patriots.

I'm glad they didn't have more important matters concerning them, like drug smugglers and such.

The suspect was identified as Martin Mauricio Ortega, formerly of the Mexican tabloid La Prensa. Ortega, who has not been charged, allegedly used his press credentials to enter the Patriots’ locker room and take the jersey.

La Prensa released a statement Monday afternoon offering an apology for the “unfortunate events” and condemning Ortega’s alleged actions. The publication said Ortega had offered his resignation more than a week ago but it did not know of the allegations against him until Monday.

Ortega told the paper he was offering his resignation because he was going through some difficult personal problems related to the health of close family members.

Houston police chief Art Acevedo said the jersey had been turned over to the NFL and the FBI, after what he described as “outstanding work” by his police department.

“You don’t come to Texas and embarrass us here on our home turf,’’ Acevedo said. “It was not our highest priority, but the only blemish on our Super Bowl was the theft of the jersey.’’

In an interesting twist, it was revealed that a second Brady jersey, this one from Super Bowl XLIX, also was recovered. It had not been previously reported that that jersey, from the win over the Seahawks in 2015, had been stolen.

Additionally, Fox Sports reported that authorities also recovered the helmet and cleats worn by Denver’s Von Miller in the Broncos’ Super Bowl 50 win....

All taken by this one guy, huh? 

How did he slip out with a helmet and cleats?


RelatedHow Tom Brady’s jersey was taken — and found

His favorite target:

"Julian Edelman grows up" by Mark Shanahan Globe Staff  February 03, 2017

HOUSTON — Julian Edelman has begun to explore, with increasing intensity, his Jewish ancestry.

Organized by Boston-based Combined Jewish Philanthropies, a nine-day trip to Israel in 2015 with 12 other young adults from Boston included stops at Independence Hall, where in 1948 David Ben-Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the state of Israel; Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem; the gravesite of pioneering Zionist Theodor Herzl, and a visit to the Western Wall, where Edelman wandered away from the group and said a prayer.

“He approached a rabbi who helped him with it,” said Dan Seligson, the CJP staff member who led the tour. “It was just something he decided to do. We didn’t take him there to do it. He was inspired to do it.”

Seligson said Edelman was also fascinated by the street art in Tel Aviv’s hip Florentin neighborhood, particularly images depicting the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

“I remember he asked about the effect of the assassination on the psyche of young people,” Seligson said.

Assaf Swissa, cofounder and creative director of the Boston marketing firm Superdigital, documented the Israel trip in a video that burnished Edelman’s image as a spirited — and sensitive — guy.

“I said, ‘Alright, if you’re going to go, let’s make a video that makes Israel look like Vegas,’ ” Swissa said.

Today Edelman, who once said in an ESPN interview that he considers himself “Jew-ish,” appears sincere about his faith. In texts to his Jewish friends, he’ll often type “Achi” (the Hebrew word for “my brother”), he attends Shabbat dinners, and he sometimes wears an Israeli and American flag pin on his hat on the sidelines.

He hasn’t talked about it in Houston this week, though....

I don't want to talk about it, either.


What about Brady's roots?

As for the rest, you know what happened. It's history.

That should settle the score once and for all -- or should it?

"How can fans make sense of the Trump-Kraft relationship?" by Yvonne Abraham Globe Columnist  April 22, 2017

Robert Kraft stood on the South Lawn of the White House, heaping praise upon a president who is the antithesis of much the owner of the New England Patriots stands for.

He spoke of Donald Trump’s resilience and his work ethic, drawing parallels between the president’s win and the Patriots’ come-from-behind victory in this year’s Super Bowl.

“It’s a distinct honor for us to celebrate what was unequivocally our sweetest championship with a very good friend and somebody whose mental toughness and strength I greatly admire,’’ said Kraft, who also donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration.

RelatedSheldon Adelson gave $5 million for Trump’s inauguration

Over the years, Kraft, taking up the mantle of his late wife, Myra, has funded efforts to improve the lives of many people who are now terrified in Trump’s America. He has helped expand access to health care; funded services for refugees and immigrants, including Muslims; supported arts organizations, and institutes for Jewish studies and inter-religious understanding; championed gay, lesbian, and transgender rights; and backed programs to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault. Kraft’s support goes beyond money: He actually shows up.

And now Kraft is closely and publicly tethered to a president who has demonized immigrants and Muslims, endangered the health insurance of 24 million people, emboldened racists and anti-Semites, and boasted of his own sexually predatory behavior. For some who thought they knew what Kraft stood for, including some of the people working on the causes he supports, that has been unsettling.

They still taking the checks?

What gives? Through a spokesman, Kraft declined an interview request. But his son Josh was happy to explain. “It’s pretty simple,” said Josh Kraft, who heads the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston. “They’ve been friends for years. The worst time in my dad’s life, this guy was there for him.” After Myra died in 2011, Robert was devastated. Trump traveled up here to be with him, and called Kraft constantly for a year after that, checking on him.

“Friendship trumps politics, for lack of a better term,” Josh Kraft said. “You might not agree with what your friend believes, but why let that ruin a friendship?”

Because political correctness demands it!

It’s clear that although Robert Kraft disagrees with Trump on some things, he doesn’t see him as the disaster for women, minorities, immigrants, and poor Americans that many others do, including me. To my eye, this isn’t just a friendship between people on different sides of the aisle: Trump isn’t Jeb Bush, or Mitt Romney. He has said and done inexcusable, dangerous things, as a candidate and president. But clearly, his old friend views him through another lens. He might even think he can moderate Trump’s extremism.

“Maybe even, when the time is right, he can share some of his insights with [Trump],” Josh Kraft said.

It is admirable that Trump was supportive in Bob Kraft’s darkest hours. But it seems like Trump has the better end of the bargain now. During the campaign, he repeatedly bathed in the football team’s glow, touting support from Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady on the trail.

On Wednesday, he was at it again, turning the Pats visit into another glory-grubbing campaign rally.

Whether Kraft agrees with him or not, he is helping to advance Trump’s fortunes, and thus his destructive agenda. In so doing, Kraft imperils an important piece of his own legacy....

5 Super Bowl trophies overrides everything else, sorry.


Haters gonna hate, hate, hate....

RelatedKraft, Belichick, and Brady — all the president’s men

I wonder how the relationship is now.

Also see:

Jury felt a heavy burden in Aaron Hernandez case

Hernandez funeral set for Monday in his Conn. hometown

I covered the trial and after events in great detail, and there will be fallout for years.


Lawyer: Notes may help Hernandez kin separate truth from rumor

As if the Bo$ton Globe would help you separate them. HA!

Mourners gather in Aaron Hernandez’s hometown for funeral

Sunday Globe Special: Room at Rikers

Latest Rikers brutality case fuels debate over jail’s future

It's the Rodiny Calypso case that is the latest.

When you get out:

"N.Y. to give jobs to released inmates" by Tom Hays Associated Press  April 22, 2017

NEW YORK — The jobs will last up to eight weeks, with hourly wages covered by taxpayer money rather than coming out of the pocket of the employers.

The program, expected to be in place by the end of the year, is part of a broader effort to drive down the city’s inmate population to the point where the city could build smaller jails to replace Rikers.

The shutdown of one of the nation’s largest jails could take years, so the mayor is pitching shorter-term remedies to ease the chronic violence and corruption at the sprawling facility.

SeeNo charges, but harsh criticism for

Political corruption? 

And he was supposed to be the voice of the di$enfranchi$ed.

Supporters say transitional jobs — kitchen, construction, and other jobs paying minimum wage — are a good investment because research shows that inmates who get them would be less likely to break the law again and go back to Rikers, where the costs of housing each prisoner can top $200,000 a year.

I'm not doubting it, but you have people without records looking for jobs, too.

The economics make it ‘‘in everyone’s interest to do this because otherwise they pay in the end,’’ said supporter Martin Horn, a Department of Correction commissioner under then-mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Well, we saw who pays.

But the plan has come under fire by critics that include another former city jails boss, Bernard Kerik, who served his own prison term for tax fraud and lying to the White House during his vetting process for Homeland Security secretary.

Don't these scum ever go away?

Related: Taking a Trip to Rikers Island

I was told there was a big shake-up after that with a U.S. lawsuit on the way.

Part of the focus is on winning the trust of employers who risk hiring criminals trying to go straight, said Stanley Richards, a former convict who serves as the organization’s executive vice president.

‘‘It can be a tough sell,’’ Richards said. ‘‘We’re dealing with stereotypes of the formerly incarcerated. So what we’re saying to employers is, ‘We’re concerned about your business, because we’re helping to build new lives.’ ’’

Some have held steady employment at a large commercial kitchen in Queens shared by caterers and bakers.

‘‘In the food industry, they want to know if you can cut 50 potatoes in five minutes, not whether you served time,’’ said Seth Bornstein, who runs the facility as part of the Queens Economic Development Corporation. ‘‘A few of them are less reliable than others, but no more than the general population.’’

So elitist. 

So KP is now the way to a promising future?


Looks like you get a more compliant worker, too.

Maybe he can buy a home now:

"Scams push foreclosure fraud to limit, taking victims’ homes" by Matt Sedensky Associated Press  April 22, 2017

NEW YORK — Around the United States, deed theft has emerged as one of the most sophisticated and devastating frauds ever to menace homeowners. Foreclosure ‘‘rescue’’ scams that have stolen thousands of dollars from individual homeowners in the years since the housing collapse have been pushed by savvy perpetrators to their limit. They use lies to convince the desperate to sign over their titles, then force them into homelessness or a years-long legal battle.

‘‘The scammers are no longer content with stealing $5,000. Now they want the whole house,’’ said Dina Levy, who heads the Homeowner Protection Program in the New York attorney general’s office, which has spread word about deed theft and prosecuted culprits.

Deed theft has been reported around the United States, from San Diego, where prosecutors recently netted a guilty plea and six-year prison sentence for a man involved in deed thefts of at least 15 homes, to Detroit, where the register of deeds hopes to expand his fraud unit to keep up with a crush of cases.

It has been most severe in gentrifying neighborhoods quickest to rebound from the housing crisis, nowhere more so than ever-pricier blocks of New York.... 

Maybe not.


Better try renting an apartment.


"A former Rikers Island guard was convicted Thursday of violating the civil rights of an ailing inmate who died after he was repeatedly kicked in the head while restrained on the floor outside a jail doctor’s office...."

I think I'll ignore today's spew.

Sunday Globe Foreign To Me

I'm sure it would read better if I were one of the elites of Bo$ton or New England.

Coverage began on page A13:

"As the French go to the polls, uncertainty is the only sure bet" by Alissa J. Rubin New York Times   April 22, 2017

PARIS — .... A majority of French voters have traditionally supported parties with established ideologies, either mainstream left or right. But traditional left-right allegiances are breaking down all over — in Europe, as they appear to have in the United States — as polarization grows.

Globalization is a stark dividing line, with candidates on both the extreme left and right crusading against it, and more centrist candidates embracing it.

Voters are looking to get away from politics as usual. That appears to have helped one of the leading candidates, Emmanuel Macron, a former economy minister who has formed a new party with a platform that combines pro-business, pro-European Union, and pro-social welfare elements — a novelty in contemporary France.

With allegiances to existing parties diminishing, some French voters find themselves torn between candidates who are diametrically opposed.

A good example was Pierre Haux, a teacher at a technical school, who went to a rally last week in Lille of the mainstream conservative candidate, François Fillon, who is under the cloud of a nepotism scandal that has led to claims of embezzlement. 

It is as I predicted yesterday.

Haux said he was also weighing voting for the far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon, but worried that he was “a one-man show.”

Also-ran will finish 5th; no way they are letting him near a run-off. He's hardly gotten any coverage at all.

In France, as elsewhere, the election may be decided in the provinces, in smaller and midsize towns and rural communities. Rural areas have proved especially unpredictable in recent votes, like Britain’s so-called Brexit vote to leave the European Union and Donald Trump’s election in the United States.

That would seem to help Le Pen like it did Trump.

In addition, the trend lines — whether a candidate appears to be steadily gaining votes, losing them, or remaining flat — are of little help. Most recently they have shown the third- and fourth-place candidates, Fillon and Mélenchon, gaining ground, while the two in the lead, Macron followed closely by the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, have remained flat or lost ground.

For French voters, who are facing 10 percent unemployment, with levels closer to 25 percent for young people, the most pressing issues are economic, but even those can lead in multiple directions.

Some voters attribute France’s economic ills to poor leadership, others to globalization, and still others to an influx of immigrants into the country.

Unlike in other years, nothing in the current election has followed old patterns.

It is a cliché of French politics that voters follow their hearts in the first round, choosing the person they most want, but follow their heads in the runoff, choosing one less likely to do damage.

That equation may no longer apply.

Because the race is so close, voters may try to vote strategically from the beginning and not risk an outcome in which two extremist candidates reach the second round.

On the other hand, if tradition holds true, and voters do follow their hearts, it is not impossible to foresee a final round where voters must choose between two candidates at the extremes, Le Pen on the right and Mélenchon on the left.

Significant numbers of voters also appear likely to abstain or to cast a blank piece of paper to show their dissatisfaction with all of their choices. That, too, would seem to favor the nonestablishment candidates, whose supporters are more motivated to go to the polls....


I'm sure the results have already been fixed.

"140 soldiers killed in Taliban attack on Afghan base, official says" by Mujib Mashal New York Times   April 22, 2017

KABUL — A day after a lethal Taliban assault on an army base in northern Afghanistan, an official said on Saturday that at least 140 soldiers had been killed, making it the single deadliest known attack on an Afghan military base in the course of the long war.

A war with no end in sight, and my take on this is twofold:

First of all, we have no way of knowing if this event even took place, and if so, we have no reason to believe war pre$$ accounts.

Secondly, what I see here is propaganda laying the groundwork for troop increases and increased military action. You see, after having observed the war propaganda for so long you begin to see a pattern with the shifting narrative. At times we are winning, their is success, so no time to get out, right? Then there is the we are losing line, and thus an increased effort must be waged.

In either case, there is no talk of withdrawal, no talk of ending the wars, no talk of the duplicitous funding and arming of the very terrorists they claim to fight. Even though the narratives seem contradictory and truthful -- ha-ha-ha -- on the surface, they reinforce the overall War on Terror meme that is not to be questioned.

The soldiers, most of them unarmed, were shot while eating lunch or emerging from a Friday Prayer service at the headquarters of the Afghan army’s 209th Corps in Balkh by assailants in military uniforms who entered after another attacker had detonated explosives at a check post. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault.

I'm told the Taliban claimed responsibility, but that could be a catchall term for whomever (that was back when I was full of anger, fire, and vinegar).

The Taliban released the names and a picture of 10 men who they said had taken part in the assault. All were dressed in Afghan military uniforms, down to helmets and kneepads. A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the assailants had been led inside the base by four soldiers who had long been working for the militants.

What, do they have their own "news service," too? 

Now I am not doubting there are infiltrators into U.S.-trained oppressors; that's a problem that has been going on since the Vietnam days with this equipping of puppet armies as we "leave." This event may well have happened; however, you will have to go outside me and the BG to find out.

The attack came weeks after militants entered the Afghan army’s main hospital in Kabul, the capital, and killed more than 50 people in a siege that lasted nearly seven hours. The Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, claimed responsibility for that assault. The militants had inside help in that attack, security officials said.

Aaah, ISIS, ISIL, whatever, claimed responsibility for that one. A-ha. Inside job you say?

That was reported through SITE Intelligence (who is Rita Katz?), meaning it was likely a complete fiction or a false flag, and the fact that is being flogged again is damn near a confirmation.

The Taliban remain the biggest security threat to the country. Such a major security breach in Balkh, even before the start of the insurgents’ spring offensive, is a major concern to Afghan forces who are already struggling in the fight against the Taliban.

It wasn't always that way.

In 2016, 6,700 Afghan service members were killed in battle. The ability of a few militants to cause tremendous bloodshed in secure areas was an especially troubling sign....

Yup, better hustle the troops there as our Afghan proxies are mowed down (6700 of them?).


"North Koreans go back to work at nuclear site, analysts say" by Choe Sang-hun New York Times  April 22, 2017


SEOUL — In their previous study of satellite photos, taken last Sunday, the analysts noted several teams at the test site playing volleyball, a popular sport in the North. That left observers wondering whether the North Koreans were engaged in some sort of deception or were simply taking Sunday off. 

That is what I was wondering about the war-pushing New York Times here. 

Remember the satellite photos that showed Iraq forces massed at the Saudi border? Babies thrown out of incubators? 

Who knows what the North Koreans are going to do? What I do know is I no longer believe the account that comes to me in the form of my pre$$. Period.

If the North tests another nuclear device, it would be a major show of defiance by Kim Jong Un, coming after President Trump’s repeated warnings against his country. Speaking Monday in Seoul, the South Korean capital, Vice President Mike Pence said North Korea would do well not to test Trump’s “resolve or the strength of armed forces of the United States in the region.”

On Saturday in Sydney, Australia, Pence said that a US naval strike group led by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson was expected to be in the Sea of Japan, which borders the Korean Peninsula, by the end of April....

Yeah, except they lied about where it was before!!


Why would you believe anything that was said in there? 

That was a New York Times triple play. 

Now for a brief one from AP:

"Missiles struck a medical center in Syria’s northern rebel-held province Saturday, putting the underground facility out of service and killing at least three staff members as well as a person in the vicinity, opposition activists said. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that airstrikes seriously damaged the medical center in Abdin village, in Idlib. International medical charities say Syrian government forces target hospitals, clinics, and ambulances in opposition-held areas." 

Notice how the U.S. slaughter of civilians has quickly gone away.

"Two top drug traffickers were killed in predawn shootouts Saturday with federal forces in the northern Mexico border state of Tamaulipas. Julian Loisa Salinas was killed in the border city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas. He reportedly led the Gulf cartel there. The leader of the rival Zetas cartel in Ciudad Victoria was killed in a shootout farther south. He was tentatively identified as Francisco Carreon."

"A Russian soldier serving at a military base in Gyumri was killed in a knife attack Saturday at a store near the base, a regional prosecutor said. Local news reports said a suspect was arrested. Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti, citing the military’s southern command, said preliminary indications were that the attack was sparked by a domestic dispute."

RelatedThe anti-gay purge in Chechnya must be stopped

What is this about vietnamese-villagers-release-officials-held-hostage-land-dispute?

UPDATE: In House of Murdoch, sons set about an elaborate overhaul

Fox to become like CNN and MSNBC (not that it really matters)?

I used to like James, but now I don't know. We'll see.