Friday, December 13, 2019

Friday the 13th

Reading the Globe has become a horror show:

Appeals court questions whether Boston Marathon bombing jury was biased

Jake Kennedy has ALS. He will fight it with all his might

Every year he writes a column about Christmas in the City, and one can only hope it isn't made up.

"In N.H., Warren gives her most forceful attack yet on rivals as her poll numbers stall" by James Pindell and Victoria McGrane Globe Staff, December 12, 2019

(flip to below fold)

MANCHESTER, N.H. — With polls showing her momentum waning, Senator Elizabeth Warren traveled to the must-win state of New Hampshire on Thursday and launched an amped-up offensive against her chief rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination in an hourlong speech at Saint Anselm College.

The speech amounted to her most forceful attack yet, and it came as her once-hot momentum has cooled. Just a month ago, Warren led polls in Iowa, New Hampshire, and nationwide. On Thursday, just 53 days before the first votes in Iowa, she is in fourth in the Real Clear Politics average of polls, behind a trio of men. A month ago, she was leading at 21 percent in the same average.

She started dropping right after she noted Palestinian deaths during Israel's latest war criminal assault on Gaza.

New Hampshire is often viewed as a “must-win” for Warren, given that politicians from neighboring states historically win in the Granite State, which shares a media market with Boston. But a WBUR/MassInc poll of likely New Hampshire Democratic primary voters released on Wednesday placed Warren fourth, with 12 percent, behind South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (18 percent), former vice president Joe Biden (17 percent), and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (15 percent.)

They are the best bet to beat Trump.

Warren’s support nationwide among likely Democratic primary voters has been cut in half in just six weeks, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll, which found she had slipped from 28 percent support to 15 percent.....

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The expanded stump speech is a strategic reversal.

Related: Warren’s tax estimate misses mark

So says Bloomberg News (and here I thought they weren't investigating Democrats).

Also seeA court ruling boosts au pairs’ pay, but it puts families in a bind 

Liz has a plan for that.

The story behind Back Bay’s Santa Speedo Run

It began as a boozy lark born in a Beacon Hill bar at the start of the millennium.

The Nation

"House panel grinds through GOP objections to impeachment articles" by Nicholas Fandos New York Times, December 12, 2019

WASHINGTON — Amid Republicans’ cries of outrage, Democrats were poised to approve along party lines a charge that President Trump abused the powers of his office. They were also on track to adopt a second charge against Trump for obstructing Congress, based on an across-the-board defiance of their subpoenas. The only question was when the president’s defenders would sheath their swords for the day to allow the final roll-call vote to recommend the articles to the full House to go forward.

The The House Judiciary Committee vote would make Trump, whose unorthodox and polarizing presidency has preoccupied the nation like few of his modern predecessors, only the fourth president in American history to face impeachment by the House for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Though the charges allude to a pattern of past conduct, they do not explicitly mention his embrace of Russian election interference in 2016 or efforts to thwart a special counsel investigation of it.

The full House is expected to debate and vote on the articles next week, just days before Congress is scheduled to leave town for Christmas. Democratic leaders anticipate that a handful of their members — particularly more moderate lawmakers from districts Trump won in 2016 — may join Republicans in opposing one or both of the articles, but they expect the defections to be narrow.

Far from expressing remorse for the charges against him, the president once again declared his total innocence and raged against the Democrats leading the charge to impeach him. He turned to Twitter, his favored platform, to retweet dozens of allies who were defending his conduct and slamming the Democrats.

Thursday’s proceeding aired out all the pent-up bitterness of years of near existential political warfare. Democrats accused Republicans of turning a blind eye to misconduct by Trump out of reflexive loyalty to their party..... 

You know, the same thing Democrats did 20 years ago when it was Clinton being impeached.

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RelatedPentagon investigator to examine border wall contract awarded to GOP donor

Also see:

"House backs giving government more power to negotiate lower drug prices" by Sheryl Gay Stolberg New York Times, December 12, 2019

WASHINGTON — The House, delivering on one of the Democrats’ central campaign promises, on Thursday passed ambitious legislation to lower the rising cost of prescription drugs by empowering the US government to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Just before they leave town, huh?

The bill, known as HR 3 — a numerical designation that reflects its position on Democrats’ priority list — would make significant changes to the federal Medicare program, which provides health coverage to older Americans. It passed largely on party lines, 230 to 192, and includes provisions to create new vision, dental, and hearing benefits and caps out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries at $2,000.

It may be third on the list, but it is far down after impeachment, impeachment, impeachment, impeachment, and now the New York Times is crowing about this turd they shined up just before the Democrats skip town. 

Lowering the cost of prescription drugs is a huge priority for voters and politicians of both parties — including President Trump, who has made curbing their costs a central theme of his 2020 reelection campaign.

Trump has vowed to veto the Democratic bill, but its passage could put pressure on Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, to take up a bipartisan drug-price measure pending there or press senators to act on other bills.

SeeSenate recognizes Armenian Genocide

Drug makers strongly oppose both the House bill and a Senate bill drafted in the Finance Committee.

The central and most contentious provision of the measure that passed Thursday is its language enabling the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Medicare, to negotiate the price of up to 250 commonly used drugs. It would also require the manufacturers to offer the agreed-on prices to private insurers, and it would require pharmaceutical manufacturers to pay rebates to Medicare if the price of their drugs increased faster than inflation.

The Senate bill, sponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, and Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, does not contain those provisions, but like the House bill, it would cap out-of-pocket expenses and require drug companies to pay rebates to Medicare if they raised prices faster than inflation.

(Blog editor just shakes head at this filler crap)

Democrats say their bill addresses research and development concerns by allocating more than $10 billion to the National Institutes of Health for biomedical research, with the goal of advancing breakthrough cures.

Allowing Medicare to negotiate prices has been a long-sought goal of Democrats; because the program buys drugs in bulk, it can effectively set the prices for all insurers. It was a matter of intense debate in 2003, when the Republican-led Congress passed the bill creating Medicare Part D, which allows Medicare to pay for the cost of prescription drugs.

The debate is just like the wealth inequality issue. It's raised every four years, and after the election it is back to business as usual.

Although the bill passed Thursday is unlikely to become law in anything close to its current form, it will serve as a campaign document for the Democrats, to show voters what their vision is on prescription drugs and that they have the will to make a substantive change in the system, rather than tinker around the edges.

Are you tired of the political illusions yet, and if they want to make substantive change and not just tinker on the edges, why are they all criticizing and opposing Medicare-For-All?

At another moment, House passage might have also jump-started negotiations with the White House, but that is unlikely, given that Democrats are about to impeach the president.....

Meaning the entire article is nothing but a political placebo.

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Maybe the government should start treating the pharmaceuticals as a cartel as more Americans are dying at home.

"Jersey City shooting was ‘domestic terrorism,’ officials say" by Michael Gold New York Times, December 12, 2019

The deadly rampage that ended with one police officer slain and three bystanders killed at a kosher market in New Jersey is now being treated as an act of domestic terrorism, authorities said Thursday.

The developments came as residents of Jersey City, located across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan, were reeling from the chaos Tuesday, when a fierce firefight put parts of the city on lockdown.....

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Here is who is investigating the case:

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal spoke during a news conference in Jersey City, N.J., Thursday. Grewal said authorities believe the shooting in Jersey City was "fueled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs."
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal spoke during a news conference in Jersey City, N.J., Thursday. Grewal said authorities believe the shooting in Jersey City was "fueled both by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs." Seth Wenig/AP/Associated Press

Also see:

College freshman fatally stabbed near New York City campus

The Barnard College student’s parents live in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Three Alabama teachers suspended over text messages leaked online

They were sharing offensive text messages about students.

Mother wanted for crashing car into son’s barber turns self in

A San Francisco Bay Area mother was upset with her son’s haircut because it made the kid want to commit suicide.

Trump mocks Greta Thunberg, and she jabs back

WAAAA!

The World

"Exit polls show Johnson’s Conservative Party with a clear majority of parliamentary seats" by William Booth, Karla Adam and James McAuley The Washington Post, December 12, 2019

LONDON - Prime Minister Boris Johnson appeared to have won a large and powerful majority of parliamentary seats in Thursday’s election, according to an exit poll, as voters apparently delivered a decisive outcome that should allow Johnson to fulfill his plan to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union next month.

If the exit poll results hold when actual ballots are tallied overnight, Johnson and his Conservative Party will have achieved a smashing success — the largest win for the Tories since the days of Margaret Thatcher — while the opposition Labour Party and its hard-left leader Jeremy Corbyn will have suffered their worst defeat in four decades.

This was Britain’s third general election in a little more than four years, and reactions from Corbyn’s party were gloomy. Labour lawmaker Barry Gardiner called exit polls ‘‘obviously a devastating result for us.’’ He told Sky News, ‘‘And as the night goes on, we’ll know whether it’s as bad as it says or not. It’s a deeply depressing prediction.’’

Corbyn is expected to come under pressure to step down.

Tim Bale, a politics professor at Queen Mary, University of London, said Labour has ‘‘a lot of very hard thinking to do, particularly with the leader it now chooses.’’

He said that if the party selected its next leader in Corbyn’s image, it would be in ‘‘trouble.’’

Under Corbyn, the party swung hard to the left, calling for the nationalization of rail, mail, water, and electricity, alongside a four-day work week and free university tuition, and heavy taxes on corporations and the wealthy.

Looks like Trump is a shoo-in for 2020.

While Brexit was dominant in many voters’ minds on Thursday, it wasn’t the only issue.

Sarah Duncan, 71, a lifelong Conservative voter, was up first thing to her London polling station, not far from the River Thames. She said this election ‘‘was particularly important, because I’m very frightened of far-left-wing government and what Jeremy Corbyn could do for this country.’’

Duncan confessed in the June 2016 referendum, ‘‘I voted to stay, I didn’t vote for Brexit, but I do feel that because the country has voted for Brexit, it’s a democratic country, and we should do what the majority said and we should leave,’’ she said.

Nick Symes, 53, a yacht broker, standing in the rain, said he voted for the Labour Party because, ‘‘it’s socialist, it’s why I like it, it’s redistributive, and it’s not Boris Johnson.’’

In Brussels, EU leaders who had gathered for a planned summit were preparing for a late night of election results-watching. Several said they just wanted to get Brexit over with.....

That's the way I feel about blogging these days, and British voters ‘‘gift-wrapped an oven-ready’’ Brexit for Chri$tma$.

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RelatedFrench president suggests he will change his pension overhaul plan

Also see:

Ex-Turkish prime minister forms party challenging Erdogan

The emergence of parties led by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan allies-turned-rivals is a move that represents a challenge to Erdogan’s government as it grapples with an economic downturn and high unemployment.

"An angry mob killed a 16-year-old and strung up the corpse by its feet from a traffic pole after the teen shot and killed six people Thursday, including four anti-government protesters, Iraqi officials said. Dozens of people pointed their cellphones at the body dangling high above them in a central Baghdad square. Videos circulating on social media showed the young man being beaten and dragged across the street. The violence underscored the growing fears and suspicions swirling around the 8-week-old protest movement, which engulfed Iraq on Oct. 1, when thousands took to the streets to decry government corruption, poor services, and scarcity of jobs. A string of mysterious acts of bloodshed by unknown groups has put antigovernment protesters on edge and eroded their faith in the ability of state security forces to protect them. In recent days, abductions and assassinations of high-profile civil activists have stoked paranoia among demonstrators. Protesters largely blame Iran-backed militias for the attacks and see the violence as a campaign to instill fear and weaken their peaceful movement. The exact circumstances of Thursday’s bloodshed were not clear, with different versions circulated throughout the day......"

What you are looking at is something akin to Salvador Option or what happened on the Ukraine Maiden.

Pakistan charges 250 lawyers for treason in hospital assault

They were part of a mob that stormed a hospital.

New Zealand trying to recover bodies on volcanic island

Protests grow in India over religion-based citizenship bill

The protests quickly turned violent, but the government show of force only seemed to enrage protesters further.

"As Myanmar genocide hearing closes, focus is on trapped Rohingya" by Hannah Beech and Saw Nang New York Times, December 12, 2019

BANGKOK — Half a world away from the elegant confines of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, where Myanmar is being accused of genocide in a landmark case that opened this week, a Rohingya Muslim man was preparing to die.

It was, he said by phone Thursday, going to be a slow demise. His village in Rakhine state in far western Myanmar had been attacked in recent weeks. The rice had been ready to harvest, but Buddhists had stolen the crop. Aid from international groups had ceased. People were hungry, sick, and desperate.

This week’s dramatic opening in The Hague saw agonizing testimony about the mass slaughter and rape of Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar’s military and local mobs, followed by strenuous denials from Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is Myanmar’s de facto civilian leader, that there had been any orchestrated persecution of the Muslim minority, but the three days of hearings this week have a narrower objective than deciding whether Myanmar’s treatment of the mostly stateless minority group constitutes the gravest of international crimes. A determination of whether Myanmar, a mostly Buddhist country, is guilty of acting with genocidal intent could take years to make.

The point of this week’s legal proceedings, instead, is to determine whether judges need to issue an emergency order to protect the Rohingya still in Myanmar from what United Nations investigators say is an ongoing genocidal campaign.

Over the years, about 1 million have fled to neighboring Bangladesh. Others survived perilous passages by boat to work as migrant workers elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Thousands more toil in Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia.

In testimony presented to the court this week, lawyers for Gambia, the West African country that has brought the case against Myanmar in the International Court of Justice on behalf of other Muslim-majority nations, said that the Rohingya in Rakhine are facing mounting pressure, even the risk of starvation.....

How are they doing in Yemen and Gaza, btw?

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Related:

North Korea berates US for criticizing its missile tests

That was during a United Nations Security Council meeting, and speaking of North Korea.....

UN chief warns against ‘survival of the richest’ on climate

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned Thursday that failure to tackle climate change could result in economic disaster that would allow only the “survival of the richest.”

How is that different from now, and where is Liberty Mutual in the climate fight?

Trump’s US Space Command will bring Earth’s battlefields to the stars

Weaponizing space will benefit humanity.

If you believe that, then I have a vape cartridge to sell you:

Mass. marijuana stores given OK to resume sales of some vaping products

'Tis the $ea$on......

(flip to below fold)

Boston officials unveil safety recommendations for bars and patrons

It's about making the city’s night life safer (I didn't know there was a concern).

You will have to find your own way home:

Critics say the T needs more money. So why did lawmakers then give it less?

Trial begins for IRS agent accused of raping college intern

He literally did what they do to all of us.

Dartmouth College celebrates 250th anniversary

This 1835 Maine lighthouse lens is missing...have you seen it?

It's lost to history.

Baker, Walsh offer details on 2020 NAACP convention in Seaport

Chihuahua attacked by coyote in South Boston

Ala. inmate charged in rape, death of 19-year-old woman in Boston in 1980

Get ready for a new cellmate. 

Maybe he can help you with your taxes.

Partners HealthCare is launching a $100 million digital health initiative

Why not lower drug prices instead?

Brookline women’s clothing shop closing after 40 years

They are going to leave you naked.

US, China settle on outline of elusive phase one trade deal

Stocks are now at record heights as hopes build for a trade deal, and the fact that unemployment is at a two-year high is not a talking point.

Colliers is picked to market the Hynes, but it could be a tricky assignment

Senate confirms Stephen Hahn, an oncologist, as FDA commissioner

His first hurdle will be clearing mushrooms as a treatment for depression.

Looks like the show is over, folks.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Thursday's Whitewashes

It's the front-page lead:

"Withering criticism of FBI as watchdog presents Russia inquiry findings" by Charlie Savage and Adam Goldman New York Times, December 11, 2019

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s inspector general on Wednesday painted a bleak portrait of the FBI as a dysfunctional agency that severely mishandled its surveillance powers in the Russia investigation, but told lawmakers he had no evidence that the mistakes were intentional or undertaken out of political bias.

While Democrats emphasized that the inspector general, Michael E. Horowitz, had debunked President Trump’s accusations that the FBI conspired to overthrow his presidency, Horowitz insisted that his report was no exoneration — citing the serious errors, omissions, and misleading statements he found in court wiretap filings.

“It doesn’t vindicate anybody at the FBI who touched this, including the leadership,” Horowitz told members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

While Democrats and Republicans clung to their political talking points, lawmakers on both sides also agreed that the surveillance problems Horowitz uncovered were severe. Several suggested that Congress should amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, to tighten permissions for national-security wiretapping.

Since it was released Monday, Horowitz’s report has largely been interpreted through a political lens. Because it debunked Trump’s conspiracy theories and concluded that investigators had a legitimate and lawful basis to open the inquiry. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and chairman of the committee, opened the hearing by acknowledging that the government of Russia — not Ukraine — sought to interfere with the 2016 election, and he did not quarrel with Horowitz’s finding that the FBI had a legitimate basis to open a full counterintelligence investigation into links between Russia and people associated with the Trump campaign, but he portrayed the wiretapping of Page as dubious and said it should have stopped after January 2017.....

Where I'm going to stop it because other than a mention that "FBI officials working on the investigation, called Crossfire Hurricane, omitted that Page had told the CIA about some of his meetings with Russians through the years,"there is nothing there. 

That means Page was a CIA plant inserted into the campaign to provide the basis for a for a warrant based on the dossier of unverified claims by Christopher Steele, the British former intelligence agent. There is your interference, Lindsey, and it wasn't Russia.

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I'm going to skip the flip below the front-page fold for now and proceed to my A2 National lead:

Judiciary panel takes first steps toward impeachment vote

It is sheer political madness, and here is the brief proof right next to it:

"The House on Wednesday passed its annual defense policy measure, which combined a $738 billion Pentagon price tag with legislation to provide federal employees with 12 weeks of paid parental leave. The sweeping 377-48 vote followed weeks of arduous House-Senate negotiations that finally yielded a traditionally bipartisan measure, stripped of many add-ons sought by Democrats controlling the House. The result came over outnumbered protests by some of the chamber’s most liberal members, who said Democratic negotiators should have fought harder for House-passed liberal policies. They are also unhappy about the spiraling defense budget. The compromise between the Democratic-controlled House and the GOP-held Senate broke free after Republicans agreed to accept a Democratic demand — endorsed by President Trump in end-stage negotiations — for the landmark parental leave provision. Negotiators also endorsed Trump’s call for a new “space force” — a provision previously backed by the House on a bipartisan basis. Trump has said he’ll sign the measure, which is expected to pass the Senate next week at the latest (Associated Press)."

That's a quarter of the way around the clockwise track so..... 

"A Georgia man apologized on-camera for slapping a female reporter’s rear end on live TV after the video clip garnered outrage among millions who viewed it online and prompted police to investigate the case as a possible sexual battery. WSAV-TV reporter Alex Bozarjian was doing a live broadcast from a road race Saturday in Savannah when one of the passing runners swatted her from behind. The video shows the stunned woman stop talking for a moment and stare. “You violated, objectified, and embarrassed me,” Bozarjian said on Twitter. Thomas Callaway of Statesboro soon stepped forward as the man who slapped Bozarjian. He went to the TV station to give an on-camera apology. “It was an awful act and an awful mistake,” Callaway said (Associated Press)."

He should have kept on running and be run out of town.

"An administrator for a Florida school district was suspended for seven days because she went to work on Halloween dressed as a flasher. The Broward School Board decided at a meeting Tuesday that Mary Coker’s decision to wear the costume didn’t warrant a demotion from her position as director of procurement and warehouse services. Superintendent Robert Runcie had recommended demoting Coker from her $154,286-a-year job. Coker, 46, apologized to the school board, the Sun Sentinel reported....."

Maybe someone should give her a drug test. She sure could afford it.

Moving north now:

"A North Carolina school district apologized for an assignment that asked middle school students to compare the value of slaves and white people....."

Page A3 reverses direction twice:

"Gunman in Florida base shooting may have embraced radical ideology years before arriving in US, Saudi report says" by Missy Ryan Washington Post, December 11, 2019

The Saudi aviation student responsible for a shooting that killed three US sailors on a Florida base last week appears to have embraced radical ideology as early as 2015, well before he arrived in the United States for training, a Saudi government analysis has found.

The Saudi government says it is working with the United States and other allies to determine what motivated the shooter and improve screening procedures for military personnel and students being sent overseas.

Uh-huh.

Officials have scrambled to piece together limited information about Ahmed Mohammed al-Shamrani, who arrived in the United States in 2017 as part of an extended program to become a weapons systems operator. The 21-year-old was shot dead by a sheriff’s deputy after opening fire in a classroom. Eight people were wounded.

A few hours before the attack, a manifesto was posted on Shamrani’s Twitter feed decrying what he said were ‘‘crimes against Muslims,’’ citing the presence of military troops in Muslim nations, the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and US support for Israel......

Thus anyone who criticizes such things must be an extremist terrorist, etc, etc. You can see the agenda behind this mass casualty event for perception management purposes, casting even more doubt on its veracity. 

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The pre$$ narrative is always that of the poor, persecuted Jew:

"Weinstein and his accusers reach tentative $25 million deal" by Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor New York Times, December 11, 2019

After two years of legal wrangling, Harvey Weinstein and the board of his bankrupt film studio have reached a tentative $25 million settlement agreement with dozens of his alleged sexual misconduct victims, a deal that would not require the Hollywood producer to admit wrongdoing or pay anything to his accusers himself, according to lawyers involved in the negotiations.

The proposed global legal accord has gotten preliminary approval from all the major parties involved, according to several lawyers.

More than 30 actresses and former Weinstein employees, who have accused Weinstein of offenses ranging from sexual harassment to rape, would share in the payout — along with potential claimants who could join in coming months. The deal would bring to an end nearly every such lawsuit against him and his former company.

The settlement would require court approval and a final signoff by all parties. It would be paid by insurance companies representing the producer’s former studio, the Weinstein Company.

Because the business is in bankruptcy proceedings, the women have had to make their claims along with its creditors. The payout to the accusers would be part of an overall $47 million settlement intended to close out the company’s obligations, according to a half-dozen lawyers, some of whom spoke about the proposed terms on the condition of anonymity.

Representatives for Weinstein declined to comment. Lawyers did not respond to requests for comment for board members and other parties.

Meanwhile, Weinstein’s bail was increased from $1 million to $5 million on Wednesday over allegations he violated his pretrial release conditions by mishandling or disabling his electronic ankle monitor.

Judge James Burke warned the disgraced movie mogul that he’ll face jail if other issues crop up. Weinstein, 67, leaned on a walker as he came and went from a New York City courthouse for the bail hearing, looking as frail and pained as he did at a court appearance last week.

The poor rapist!

Weinstein’s lawyer said he is having back surgery Thursday to relieve pain from an August car crash and that he will recover in time for the Jan. 6 start of his trial on rape and sexual assault charges.

Weinstein is scheduled to be tried in New York in early January on charges of sexual assault involving two women. While his criminal prosecution has drawn public attention, the largely hidden negotiations over civil claims have been far more consequential for many of his accusers.

Yeah, it's all about the $$$$!

More than $12 million — one-quarter of the overall settlement package — would go toward some, but not all, legal costs for Weinstein; his brother, Bob; and other former members of their company’s board, the lawyers said. The board members would be insulated from future liability, and the alleged victims would drop their claims against Weinstein and other executives.

That will have some people blowing their stacks, and you will have to wait and see what the judge says.

The settlement would resolve lawsuits filed by dozens of women since 2017, when The New York Times exposed allegations of sexual harassment and abuse by Weinstein.

(Blog editor is aghast at how the New York Times toots its own horn with that myth of a conventional narrative! They are as bad as the FBI applying for a FISA warrant, making themselves sound better than they are! 

The simple fact of the matter is the New York Times sat on the Weinstein story for 13 years! They only published because the New Yorker forced their hand; however, according to the revisionist New York Times, they are now the ones who exposed it.

How anyone anywhere can believe anything that is in that paper is beyond me. It is at best distortions, at worst lies)

Although the producer’s accusers include some of the highest-profile women in the entertainment world, such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, and Salma Hayek, none have joined the proceedings.

A lawsuit by actress Ashley Judd, who has said she intends to take Weinstein to trial, would not be part of the deal.....

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RelatedChild predators target of sex offender bill

Nothing about Epstein in there.

Time to leave the United States for the World lead on page A4:

"Aung San Suu Kyi, former democracy icon, defends Myanmar against genocide allegations" by Michael Birnbaum and Shibani Mahtani Washington Post, December 11, 2019

THE HAGUE — In an extraordinary appearance at the International Court of Justice on Wednesday, Myanmar’s civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, categorically rejected charges of genocide leveled against her country and maintained her government’s longstanding denial of culpability.

The former democracy icon and Nobel laureate is the first recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize to be called to account for grisly crimes such as rape, murder, the burning of babies, and the large-scale removal of an ethnic group.

Maybe Obama will be someday? 

Her decision to appear in court put her in the position of defending military leaders she battled during her 15 years of house arrest, but the move appeared to reflect a calculation that taking matters into her own hands would boost her at home ahead of elections next year.

Her appearance underscored what would be Myanmar’s main defense: that Gambia, which brought the case, does not have sufficient evidence to warrant the charges of genocide, one of the worst crimes under international law, and that the military was simply responding to a security threat.

She conceded that military officials may have crossed a line in responding to attacks by militants and used ‘‘disproportionate force,’’ but she said Myanmar’s justice system was addressing these allegations......

It's what is known as the Israeli defense as the Zioni$t War Pre$$ press brings up the refugee camps in Bangladesh, where almost a million ethnic Rohingya were forced to flee, while ignoring the decades of Palestinian refugees.

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Briefly below:

"As their negotiators resumed peace talks with US diplomats, Taliban militants set off a car bomb Wednesday and penetrated a medical facility attached to Bagram Airfield, the largest US military base in Afghanistan, killing at least two people and wounding at least 73, officials said. The daring attack on the base — which President Trump visited recently — lasted nearly 12 hours, and it was bound to complicate the negotiations. After a year of talks, the two sides had been on the verge of announcing an agreement in September when Trump called off the negotiations, citing a Taliban bombing that killed an American, a NATO soldier, and nearly a dozen Afghans. In the attack Wednesday, a vehicle laden with explosives targeted the southern part of the base, the site of a medical facility that was under construction. Several attackers then entered the base, engaging in a firefight with Afghan and coalition forces, Afghan officials said. Soon after the initial attack, a spokesman for the US-led NATO mission said the assault had been repelled, but later Wednesday, nearly 10 hours after the first explosion, the spokesman said that some fighters were still holed up in the medical facility. He said the air base defenses were not breached. Talks between the chief US peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Taliban negotiators have been underway in recent days in Qatar after they were restarted by Trump in November. Officials say that both sides are talking about ways to decrease violence, reach a possible cease-fire, and pave the way for talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government (New York Times)."

Related21st-Century Pentagon Papers

I would say airlift the patients to Pakistan but..... 

"Hundreds of Pakistani lawyers, angered over alleged misbehavior by some doctors toward one of their colleagues, stormed a cardiology hospital in the eastern city of Lahore on Wednesday. The assault set off scuffles with the facility’s staff and guards that caused three deaths and left heart patients unattended for several hours, police said. Authorities said tension had been brewing between the city’s lawyers and doctors since last month....."

At least it's being reported here, right?

"China is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world this year, according to a press watchdog group. Turkey was second, and after Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the biggest jailers are Eritrea, Vietnam, and Iran. It is the first time in four years that Turkey was not the world’s top jailer....."

You can hide, but you can't run:

"On the final day of election campaigning in Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was accused of hiding in a refrigerator in an attempt to dodge an interview with TV anchor Piers Morgan....."

Gave him the cold shoulder, huh?

Time to warm up:

"As a New Zealand island volcano vented more steam and mud, authorities announced that Monday’s eruption sent a tower of steam and ash an estimated 12,000 feet into the air....."

All that spew will result in cooling, not warming.

"Danish police have arrested some 20 people suspected of involvement in Islamist terrorism in a series of raids across the country, authorities said Wednesday. No details were given as to what the target was or when an attack would take place....."

After the full-page ad for the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet on page A5 comes:

Thunberg accuses leaders of ‘creative PR’ at climate talks

I say she and her friends end the environmentally-destructive and polluting wars first and go from there.

So when is she going to China to protest?

‘Les Mis’ soothes, breaks Hong Kong hearts

I'm told "spectators mentally and physically drained from six months of prodemocracy protests that have convulsed the city wept, wiping away tears and dabbing their eyes with big tears rolling down."

China scolds US over legislation

It made the Chinese snowflakes melt. 

Israel heading for third election in less than a year after politicians fail to form government

The Washington Post says ‘‘the current political stalemate has left Israel’s parliamentary system and government paralyzed for nearly a year (thus the status quo remains and they are not so paralyzed as to forgo the bombing of Syria or the shooting of Palestinian protesters) and there is a national need for a breakthrough that will unite the people of Israel.’’

What would that be, a war against Iran?

They will have at least one ally:

"India passes controversial citizenship law excluding Muslim migrants" by Joanna Slater and Niha Masih Washington Post, December 11, 2019

NEW DELHI — Lawmakers in India enacted a fundamental change to its citizenship law to include religion as a criterion for nationality for the first time, deepening concerns that a country founded on secular ideals is becoming a Hindu state that treats Muslims as second-class citizens.

Like you-know who.

The new law creates a path to citizenship for migrants who belong to several South Asian religions but pointedly excludes Islam, the faith practiced by 200 million Indian citizens.

The measure was approved by a majority of the upper house of India’s parliament in a final vote late Wednesday. Its passage marks the latest political victory for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a strident nationalist in the mold of other right-leaning populist politicians around the globe.

Since winning a landslide reelection victory in May, Modi has moved swiftly to implement his party’s agenda of emphasizing Hindu primacy in India, a diverse democracy home to more than 1.3 billion people.

Hindu nationalist ideologues view India’s history as a series of humiliations — centuries of rule by Muslim kings followed by British colonialism — that must be redressed.

They despise the secularism embraced by India’s founders, who sought to create a country where all faiths were treated equally, and they accuse India’s previous leaders of pandering to religious minorities, especially Muslims, in search of votes.

Now, in just months, Modi has achieved some of their top objectives. In August, he reversed seven decades of policy in Kashmir, stripping the Muslim-majority state of its autonomy and instituting a crackdown that endures to this day. Last month, India’s Supreme Court greenlighted the construction of a grand Hindu temple at the site of a 16th century mosque illegally razed by Hindu extremists in 1992.

The government has also engaged in increasingly harsh anti-migrant rhetoric. The country’s powerful interior minister has called migrants who entered the country illegally ‘‘termites’’ and pledged to expel them. Earlier this year, Indian authorities completed a byzantine process aimed at identifying migrants in the northeastern state of Assam. Nearly 1.9 million people were left off the final list of citizens, raising the risk that they could be rendered stateless or deported.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill, which was passed by both houses of parliament this week, is another priority. It is effectively an amnesty for all Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians (as well as adherents of three smaller religions) who illegally entered the country before 2014 from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.

The citizenship bill is ‘‘the first legal articulation that India is, you might say, a homeland for Hindus,’’ said Pratap Bhanu Mehta, one of India’s most prominent political scientists. Mehta believes the measure violates the Indian constitution, which guarantees equal rights before the law to all people within the country.

Modi and his second-in-command, Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah, have said the measure is necessary to offer refuge to persecuted religious minorities. Proponents say India owes a moral responsibility to such communities who have faced severe hardship and even violence, but the law does not provide any relief to members of oppressed religious minorities — mostly Muslims — from other neighboring countries such as China and Myanmar......

And with that, my printed paper's World section has come full circle.

--more--"

Meanwhile, back in the U.S.S.A.:

Congress criticizes how Coast Guard investigates harassment

Biden proposes immigration overhaul in shadow of Obama era

He is still in the shadow of Obama, and if I had to rank the Democratic candidates I would probably say Sanders, Warren, Williamson, Gabbard, and that's about it. There are some I would never vote for as their presence is only there to distort the outcome. The only thing they will do is help deliver the election for Trump and with the deadline coming the Democrats better make some moves fast.

The second half of the A-section begins with these two articles above the fold:

Jersey City shooting suspect linked to Black Hebrew Israelite group

Looks like they banished Ali to New Jersey, and the above event is starting to stink of a self-inflicted, staged and scripted event for usual reasons.

Pretty soon, you won't even be able to question the received wisdom from on high:

"Trump order aids Education Department’s crackdown with wider definition of Judaism" by Erica L. Green New York Times, December 11, 2019

WASHINGTON — An executive order signed Wednesday that extends civil rights protection to Jews is likely to strengthen the hand of President Trump’s Education Department, where the department’s civil rights chief has been investigating some of the nation’s most elite universities for anti-Jewish bias.

Trump on Wednesday evening opened the door on a case-by-case basis to essentially defining Judaism as a race or national origin, not just a religion, under the Civil Rights Act. His order will also expand the definition of anti-Semitism to include some anti-Israel sentiments. Both moves have been pushed by Kenneth L. Marcus, head of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, for years.

A Jewi$h caliphate is of no concern, and this proves Trump is in the pocket of Israel.

Even before the order, Marcus was already deeming Judaism a “national origin,” like Italian or Polish, to strengthen a campaign against what he sees as rampant anti-Semitism in higher education. At both the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University, Marcus has opened “national origin” investigations to determine whether qualified applicants were rejected because of their Judaism.

In the University of Pennsylvania case, the rejected applicant claimed he had the “full support of the vice provost in addition to having multiple-generation legacy status,” yet was passed over for a student of a different gender, race, and religion.

In separate cases against New York University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Marcus has investigated whether administrators have allowed their campuses to become hostile environments for Jewish students by coddling anti-Israel sentiment. Last year, he reopened a long-closed case brought by a Zionist group against Rutgers University, saying the Obama administration had ignored evidence that the school allowed a hostile environment for Jewish students.

You have to jump through hoops and bend over backward for the chosen ones.

Marcus’ efforts come at a time of rising anti-Semitic attacks. An assailant involved in a deadly shooting on Tuesday at a Jersey City, N.J., kosher supermarket was found to have published anti-Semitic posts online, a law enforcement official familiar with the case said Wednesday, but Marcus’ approach has prompted criticisms that he is infringing on free speech and the rights of other minority groups while extending civil rights law well beyond its intent.

Yeah, that shooting event helped put a point on it all.

Those charges will grow louder with Trump’s executive order and its embrace of an expansive definition of anti-Semitism, one already used by the State Department, that labels as anti-Semitic “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination,” by, for example, “claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

Ever notice that their border wall is never an issue?

Jewish groups were largely supportive, with some liberal organizations opposing it. Palestinian rights groups were incensed.

Last month, in a resolution agreement responding to an anti-Semitism complaint, the Education Department required the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to revise its anti-discrimination policy to include “anti-Semitic harassment.” It was also required to describe in its policy how such anti-Semitism could manifest itself on campus. The changes have to be approved by Marcus’ office.

“The Department of Education is effectively strong-arming universities into adopting policies that would chill criticism of the Israeli government’s consistent and well-documented violations of Palestinian rights by falsely conflating it with anti-Semitism,” said Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, which opposes Marcus’ actions.

Also last month, the Office for Civil Rights opened a national-origin discrimination case against New York University that stemmed from an episode last year when pro-Palestinian groups were accused of disrupting a pro-Israel dance party.

It's fine for Zionists to disrupt pro-Palestinain events though.

“The department is deeply concerned about the rampant rise of anti-Semitism on campuses across this country,” the agency said in a statement Tuesday. “Free speech and civil rights are not competing values; they are both essential.”

The new executive order targets schools’ federal funding, mirroring the threat made by Trump in March when he signed an order protecting the right of conservative speakers to challenge “rigid, far-left ideology” on campuses.

Well, there is free speech and then there is free $peech.

For years, as the head of a Jewish civil rights organization, Marcus lobbied the department to extend national-origin protections to Jewish students because it does not have jurisdiction over religious discrimination. He unsuccessfully filed several civil rights complaints with the office, and in 2017, complained that the department had “found countless civil rights violations against women and against African Americans, but when it comes to anti-Semitism on campus,” he added, “the agency has been paralyzed.”

Now on the inside, Marcus has divided the Education Department. Last fall, the department had to walk back Marcus’ assertion that it was using the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism to re-examine a seven-year-old case against Rutgers University. The department said it would determine whether anti-Semitism cases fell under its jurisdiction “on a case-by-case basis.”

Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, has condemned “boycott Israel” activists as “bullies,” and this year, she called the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — or BDS — movement “one of the most pernicious threats” on campuses, but she has also prided herself on interpreting existing laws narrowly: The department has rescinded a number of Obama-era guidance documents that relied on flexible interpretations of federal laws, even as Marcus has asserted a Jewish “national origin” by fiat, but behind Marcus’ agenda is the weight of the White House. The anti-Semitism executive order repeatedly refers to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which extends protections on the basis of race, color, or national origin, then states, “Discrimination against Jews may give rise to a Title VI violation when the discrimination is based on an individual’s race, color, or national origin.”

Last weekend, Trump touted the NYU investigation as proof of his administration’s pro-Israel bona fides. In remarks to the Israeli-American Council National Summit that included a series of anti-Semitic tropes, Trump invited Adela Cojab, who filed the complaint against NYU, to speak. “My university failed to protect its Jewish community from ongoing harassment, from attacks on social media, to resolutions on student government, to boycotts, flag burnings, and physical assault,” Cojab said.

President Trump greeted Sheldon Adelson, left, and his wife, Miriam, at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Hollywood, Fla., last week.
President Trump greeted Sheldon Adelson, left, and his wife, Miriam, at the Israeli American Council National Summit in Hollywood, Fla., last week.T.J. Kirkpatrick/NYT

I thought Adelson was gravely ill.

--more--"

Related:

"Patriots owner Robert Kraft was invited by President Trump to share a few words at a White House event Wednesday celebrating Hanukkah and Trump’s signing of an executive order aimed at combating anti-Semitism; however, in introducing Kraft, Trump seemed to unknowingly rub in that the Patriots have fallen from the top seed of the American Football Conference. “As usual, his team is mired in first place. Have you ever been in second place?” Trump asked Kraft as the Patriots owner made his way up to the podium. In fact, the Patriots have ceded the top spot in the AFC to the Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots sit in second place right now, with 10 wins to the Ravens’ 11 with three weeks of the season left to play. The Patriots do, however, still lead their AFC East division. While introducing Kraft, Trump also called him a “friend” who has been “a tremendous success in so many businesses,“ noting that the public knows his name “because he signs Tom Brady’s check every week.” Trump also mentioned the late Myra Kraft, who died of cancer in July 2011. “His wife, Myra, passed away a longer time ago than we think, Bob. That was a big tough time for you and for me, too, and for Melania.” Trump also said Kraft is a “special friend of Israel”: “Nobody is closer to Israel than Bob Kraft.” Kraft, for his part, praised the executive order when he took the podium’s microphone in brief remarks, calling it “a bipartisan issue.” “My wife, bless her memory, would be smiling now,” Kraft said."

He also thanked Trump for “working very hard to serve the best interests of the country,” and you know which one he meant.

As I flip the page to see the front-page turn-ins, my interest is on life support and I'm losing my breath.

It's one last gasp and..... 

"People’s comfort levels with AI seem to be growing as they become more exposed to it. Is it any wonder that we’re starting to think it might be OK if the machines take over?

You can "trust it more."

I guess that is the end of newspapers, huh?

The truth is self-evident and there can be no compromiseTime to move on from the Baron

Maybe this will help kill the pain as you commemorate 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge with a brief ceremony regarding this day in history

It's a bridge to the past as you look to the future, and I wish you well with the prescription for Vivitrol. I hope it is a stabilizing influence for you that leads to greater and greater heights.

Goodbye.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

21st-Century Pentagon Papers

What is odd is "The Post" doesn't mention one word of that long ago leak by Ellsberg (the Globe won the bronze):

"Documents reveal misleading public statements on war in Afghanistan" by Thomas Gibbons-Neff New York Times, December 9, 2019

WASHINGTON — Thousands of pages of documents detailing the war in Afghanistan released by The Washington Post on Monday paint a stark picture of missteps and failures — and those assessments were delivered by prominent US officials, many of whom had publicly said the mission was succeeding.

The US military achieved a quick but short-term victory over the Taliban and Al Qaeda in early 2002, and the Pentagon’s focus then shifted toward Iraq. The Afghan conflict became a secondary effort, a hazy spectacle of nation building, with intermittent troop increases to conduct high-intensity counterinsurgency offensives — but, overall, with a small number of troops carrying out an unclear mission.

Even as the Taliban returned in greater numbers and troops on the ground voiced concerns about the US strategy’s growing shortcomings, senior US officials almost always said that progress was being made.

The documents obtained by the Post show otherwise.

(Blog editor heaves a sigh of resignation with a heavy heart. It's a massive deja vu, and the costs in human lives, on the environment, and the outgrowth of policies resulting from the reason we are there in the first place is astronomical. Perhaps this is simply preparing the way for official withdrawal, but the truth is it won't be fast enough. Should have happened years ago. In fact, we never should have been there at all)

“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” said Douglas Lute, a retired three-star Army general who helped the White House oversee the war in Afghanistan in both the Bush and Obama administrations.

“What are we trying to do here?” he told government interviewers in 2015. “We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.”

(It fills one with dejection. We've been lied to for so long. The "conspiracy theorist" bloggers and dissidents have been right all along)

The 2,000 pages of interviews were obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and years of legal back-and-forth with the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, according to the Post. Formed in 2008, the office has served as a government watchdog for the war in Afghanistan, releasing reports quarterly on the conflict’s progress, many of which publicly depicted the shortcomings of the effort.

In one interview obtained by the Post, a person identified only as a senior National Security Council official said that the Obama White House, along with the Pentagon, pushed for data that showed President Obama’s announced surge in 2009 was succeeding.

Oddly enough, on this day in history President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize with a humble acknowledgment of his scant accomplishments and a robust defense of the United States at war amid the admiration of the press, and I understand how hard it is to break up with the office skank.

“It was impossible to create good metrics. We tried using troop numbers trained, violence levels, control of territory, and none of it painted an accurate picture,” the official told interviewers in 2016, according to the Post. “The metrics were always manipulated for the duration of the war.”

In 2010 this pressure trickled down to troops on the ground, as they answered to commanders eager to show progress to senior leaders, including General Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of all US troops in Afghanistan, but the facts were that the fledgling Afghan military performed poorly in the field and that the United States’ “clear, hold, build” counterinsurgency strategy had little hope of succeeding.

Maybe "success" wasn't the point. Instability and chaos in the country provides a reason to continue occupation.

Maybe the troops should take a tip from Christ and take up woodworking instead.

“Afghans knew we were there temporarily, and that affected what we could do,” Marc Chretien, who served as the senior State Department adviser to the Marines in Helmand province, said in one interview. “An elder in Helmand once told me as much, saying: ‘Your Marines live in tents. That’s how I know you won’t be here long.’”

It's been 18 years already, and we have had troops in Germany and Korea for over 65 years. Methinks he underestimates the staying power of U.S. war planners and the foreign policy establishment. Both Obama and Trump said they were going to get us out of Afghanistan and Iraq, and we are still there. Still in Syria despite the conventional narrative of the pre$$. And on and on. We never leave. Heck, we were screwing around in Afghanistan back during the Carter days, using "Al-CIA-Duh" to give the Soviets their Vietnam.

How sad that American empire builders fail to learn from history, 'eh?

The tension between rosy public statements and the reality on the ground has been one of the enduring elements of the war. Now, 18 years in, the US-led mission in Afghanistan has all but cut off outside access to US troops on the ground in an attempt to execute their mission in near-secrecy.

What is the saying, truth is the first casualty?

That would take you back to 9/11, wouldn't it?

Since 2001, more than 2,200 US troops have been killed in Afghanistan, along with hundreds from allied countries that have contributed forces to the war. Since 2014, after the Pentagon officially and euphemistically ended “combat operations,” putting the Afghan military in the lead, more than 50,000 Afghan security forces have died, and the military effort has cost the United States more than $1 trillion.

The trillion bucks spent is bad enough; however, what is left out of their death toll is the countless thousands, perhaps millions of Afghani civilians who no one has been interested in counting or calculating. 

Of the $133 billion that the United States has spent on reconstruction programs in Afghanistan, about $83 billion went toward training the Afghan army and police forces, according to the inspector general.

“If you look at the overall amount of money spent in Afghanistan, you see a tiny percentage of it went to help the people of the country,” Robert Finn, the US ambassador to Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003, told investigators. “It almost all went to the military, and even most of that money went for local militia and police training.”

The "reconstruction" is chump change in comparison with operations, but even that amount was funneled through war-contractors such as Bechtel, Halliburton, and Dynacorp before ending up in bank accounts in Dubai.

Finn also described how Afghan society has long been dominated by tribal leaders and patronage networks, and engendered its own form of corruption.

“When you are in power, you are expected to take care of your own,” Finn told investigators. “They come to him because the sister-in-law needs an operation, or want a new car, or want electricity in their house.”

Then the war is a $u¢¢e$$ after all! We have brought American democracy to the "tribal" society! Mission accomplished! I wonder what is their version of the Biden family!

Oh, right, that was a separate war criminal aggression by the same president.

The Post published its report just as talks between the United States and the Taliban have restarted for another round of peace negotiations in Doha, Qatar. In September, President Trump abruptly called off months of the talks after a suicide blast in Kabul that killed a US soldier and 11 others.

During a trip to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan over the Thanksgiving holiday, Trump said the United States would stay in Afghanistan “until such time as we have a deal, or we have total victory, and they want to make a deal very badly.”

He's actually projecting U.S. desires on the Taliban. Since 2001, the Taliban have never been stronger and appear to be able to fight forever. It's Trump that wants a deal very badly -- especially with his Korean initiative cratering.

In one 2003 memo cited by the Post from Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary at the time, he declared, “I have no visibility into who the bad guys are.”

Ah, one of the lead war criminals of the Bush regime.

--more--"

That report comes on the heels of Esper saying "we are making good progress in Afghanistan."

Must be an old JEDI mind trick:

"Amazon said in a legal complaint unsealed Monday that it had lost a multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract with the Pentagon because President Trump used “improper pressure” to divert it from the company to harm its chief executive, Jeff Bezos. The Defense Department reviewed outdated submissions from the company and overlooked key technical capabilities, Amazon claimed, saying those errors tipped the scales in favor of Microsoft, which won the contract in October. Amazon had been considered the front-runner for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project, known as JEDI, in part because it had built cloud services for the CIA. Its Amazon Web Services, or AWS, business is also the country’s biggest cloud computing provider, but Trump said publicly that other “great companies” should have a chance at the $10 billion contract. Trump said he would take “a very strong look” at the JEDI contract, noting that companies including Microsoft, IBM, and Oracle had complained about the award process. Trump has openly criticized Bezos, who owns The Washington Post. The president has accused the paper of spreading “fake news.” In its complaint, filed in the US Court of Federal Claims in Washington, Amazon said that Trump attacked the company behind the scenes to hurt Bezos, “his perceived political enemy.”

Ding-ding-ding! 

In the corner to my left......

Democrats expected to draft two articles of impeachment against Trump, one on abuse of power, the other on obstruction of Congress

The web gave you the Washington Post while my print copy carried the New York Times version. No great loss either way, but what was noteworthy was the House Judiciary Committee's Democratic Counsel, Barry Berke, saying it's a big deal and “President Trump did what a president of our nation is not allowed to do,” and that it was Daniel Goldman, a lawyer who led the Intelligence Committee's Ukraine investigation, was the one testifying. He was the one summing up the case for impeachment.

My takeaway from each is that you are allowed tell lies in furtherance of wars of aggression, sign of on torture, and commit mass murder on the basis of those lies with drone strikes and the like while stealing others resources and occupying them for extraction purposes. That's okay, not a "big deal," and what a president is supposed to do! Got it.

The second observation is emphasized by the article directly below:

AG criticizes report’s finding of no bias in FBI Russia inquiry

It's the New York Times, and the Globe really has me hopping today because my print version carried a piece by AP:

"Inspector General Michael Horowitz identified 17 “significant inaccuracies or omissions” in applications for a warrant and later renewals from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to monitor the communications of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. The watchdog found that the FBI had overstated the significance of an ex-British spy named Christopher Steele’s past work as an informant and omitted information about one of his sources who he said “may engage in some embellishment.” Those errors, the report said, resulted in “applications that made it appear that the information supporting probable cause was stronger than was actually the case.” Republicans have long criticized the process since the FBI relied in part on opposition research from Steele, whose work was financed by Democrats and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and that fact was not disclosed to the judges who approved the warrant. The document’s release, coming as a House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing centers on the president’s interactions with Ukraine, brought fresh attention to the legal and political investigations that have entangled the White House from the moment Trump took office....."

That sure looks criminal to me despite the whitewash, and now Trump says he is more eager for the report of John Durham. I hope he is prepared to be disappointed again. 

What really appears to have happened, however, is this: Steele was initially contracted by the Jeb Bush campaign. After he flopped, they passed the stuff along to the Clinton campaign who contracted FusionGPS to continue the compilation of "evidence." They then funneled the "dossier" to key contacts within the law enforcement and intelligence agencies, with the likes of John Brennan forwarding it to Harry Reid and John McCain, who then forwarded it to Department of Justice to provide the basis for the warrants meant to spy on and infiltrate the Trump campaign. It is without a doubt the biggest political scandal in American history, dwarfing Nixon who simply used the law enforcement and intelligence agencies to try and cover  it up, and thus must be buried lest the $y$tem it$elf collapse.

Related:

"Prosecutors in Sicily are investigating suspected embezzlement by a mysterious Maltese academic who has been linked to a US probe of hacked e-mails. Agrigento Prosecutor Salvatore Vella said by telephone Monday that his office is investigating Joseph Mifsud for suspected embezzlement of at least $110,000 in connection with his role at a local public universityMifsud apparently disappeared in 2017. US prosecutors have alleged that a campaign adviser to President Trump had learned from Mifsud about stolen e-mails that figured in the FBI’s probe into alleged hacking by Russia. A Sicily-based newspaper, Giornale della Sicilia, reported that Mifsud had run up huge phone bills for calls made while in Russia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. The academic had made numerous voyages to Russia, Malta, Libya, the United States, Lebanon, and Bulgaria, it said......"

They have been unable to locate the US intelligence asset, and who remembers Halper, 'eh?

I suppose there is no chance of a mistrial so see you in court:

"Appeals court judges expressed skepticism Monday that members of Congress as individuals have a legal right to sue President Trump to stop his private businesses from accepting payments from foreign governments without lawmakers’ consent. Even as the judges seemed troubled that Congress may have no other viable way to enforce the Constitution’s anticorruption ‘‘emoluments’’ provision, they did not seem prepared to allow the lawsuit from more than 200 Democratic lawmakers to move forward and suggested the Supreme Court would have the final word....."

You will have to US Supreme Court stay your tongue after that.

"Tentative deal reached on North American trade pact" by Andrew Taylor and Lisa Mascaro Associated Press, December 9, 2019

WASHINGTON — House Democrats have reached a tentative agreement with labor leaders and the White House over a rewrite of the US-Mexico-Canada trade deal that has been a top priority for President Donald Trump.

“We’re close. We’re not quite finished yet. We’re within range,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday night. “We’re at a moment of truth,’’ Pelosi said.

Yes, she understands power and how to use it, and believe it or not, she says progress is being made in Afghanistan.

Representative Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, credited Pelosi for building consensus among Democrats for the looming agreement, which could be announced as early as Tuesday.

Details still need to be finalized and the US Trade Representative will need to submit the implementing legislation to Congress. No vote has been scheduled.

The trade agreement is one item of many of the congressional to-do list, including a government-wide funding package and an annual defense policy measure that has been broadened to include a new 12-week parental leave benefit for federal employees.

“We’re trying to move everything along. We have a lot to do before we leave,” Pelosi said as she left the Capitol Monday. “And appropriations is the central thing.’’

You would never know it given the spectacle of impeachment!

The new, long-sought trade agreement with Mexico and Canada would give both Trump and his top adversary, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a major accomplishment despite the turmoil of his likely impeachment.

Oh, the $tring-pullers behind the smokescreen of impeachment will be getting everything they want, huh?

Weeks of back-and-forth, closely monitored by Democratic labor allies such as the AFL-CIO, have brought the two sides together. Pelosi is a longtime free trade advocate and supported the original NAFTA in 1994. Trump has accused Pelosi of being incapable of passing the agreement because she is too wrapped up in impeachment.

Democrats from swing districts have agitated for finishing the accord, in part to demonstrate some accomplishments for their majority.....

What, a blatantly political impeachment isn't enough?

--more--"

As for our  corporate OverLORDsinflation is no longer a scourge thanks to Paul Volcker and Marvin Goodfriend, men with enormous decency and humanity -- even as Morgan Stanley is cutting about 1,500 jobs globally, including several managing directors, as part of a year-end efficiency push.

Unfortunately, biotech and technology companies are scrambling to fill open jobs because colleges aren’t doing enough to prepare students for life-science jobs despite the opioid epidemic and even as Bo$ton is a rare winner in tech job growth

Also see:

"Federal agencies have pushed back against criticism that they entrapped hundreds of foreigners who enrolled in a fake school the agencies opened in an effort to fight visa fraud, saying that those who enrolled knew they weren’t signing up for a real school and that they only wanted a way to stay in the United States. The undercover operation that targeted students at the University of Farmington in Farmington Hills was legal and helped combat visa fraud, the US attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan and head of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s investigative division in Detroit said Friday in statements to the Detroit Free Press. The students arrived in the United States legally, primarily from India, and were on F-1 student visa programs when they enrolled at the university that was covertly staffed by undercover agents and had a fake website. Nearly 80 percent of the 250 students who were arrested have voluntarily left the country, according to ICE. Lawyers for the students have said they believe their clients were entrapped and did not know the school was fake when they enrolled....."

The story drew widespread attention and several political leaders raised questions, including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who tweeted that it was ‘‘cruel and appalling to deceive and entrap them, just to deport them.’’

Related(?):

"India took a major step toward the official marginalization of Muslims on Tuesday as one house of Parliament passed a bill that would establish a religious test for migrants who want to become citizens, solidifying Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist agenda. The measure would give migrants of all of South Asia’s major religions a clear path to Indian citizenship — except Islam. The bill passed in the lower house, the Lok Sabha, a few hours after midnight, following a few hours of debate. The vote was 311-80. The measure now moves to the upper house, the Rajya Sabha, where Modi seems to have enough allies that most analysts predict it will soon become law. Muslim Indians are deeply unsettled. They see the new measure, called the Citizenship Amendment Bill, as the first step by the governing party to make second-class citizens of India’s 200 million Muslims, one of the largest Muslim populations in the world, and render many of them stateless. “We are heading toward totalitarianism, a fascist state,” said Asaduddin Owaisi, a Muslim lawmaker, who Monday dramatically tore up a copy of the bill while giving a speech in Parliament. “We are making India a theocratic country.” With the new citizenship bill, Modi’s party says it is simply trying to protect persecuted Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians (and members of a few smaller religions) who migrate from predominantly Muslim countries such as Pakistan or Afghanistan......"

India looks more like Israel every day, to the point where they may even "build a new temple over the ruins of a demolished mosque and make it easier to incarcerate and deport Muslim residents, even those whose families have been in India for generations, if they cannot produce proof of citizenship as anti-Muslim sentiment has become blatantly more mainstream and overt displays of Hindu piety and nationalism have become central in pop culture and politics --  a danger to India’s democracy."

Liz is also hyper (I thought she was given a clean bill of health) regarding the fight to save Minor League Baseball, and so with this ring do I thee wed because one vote could make all the difference.

Also see:

"Federal authorities are investigating a cyberattack on the city of Pensacola, home to the naval air station where a Saudi flight student killed three sailors and wounded eight others on Friday. Mayor Grover Robinson on Monday said it’s not yet clear whether the two incidents are related and he asked for patience in a community still grieving over the shooting at the Navy installation, a central part of the local economy and public life. “We are a little bit hampered through this,” the mayor said during his weekly briefing with local news media. City officials became aware of the cyberattack at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday, many hours after the shooting, said city spokeswoman, Kaycee Lagarde. She expressed caution about linking the two incidents — although city officials were not prepared to outright dismiss any connections. ‘‘As a precaution we have reported the incident to the federal government,’’ Lagarde said, acknowledging the deadly violence at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. ‘‘It’s too early to confirm or dispel,’’ Lagarde said. “That would be a question for the federal agencies.” Ransomware cyberattacks on government systems have been on the rise in recent years, with some crippling services for long periods of times. In May, a cyberattack hobbled Baltimore’s computer network and cost the city more than $18 million to repair. City officials refused to pay demands for $76,000 in bitcoin. During the summer, two Florida cities — Riviera Beach and Lake City — paid hackers more than $1 million combined after being targeted....."

They ‘‘don’t want to get into too many specifics and just might have to do some things a little bit old-school, with pen and paper.”

Remember, it's Iran that is the threat:

"Iran is ready for more prisoner swaps with the United States, the Cabinet spokesman said Monday even as he reiterated the Iranian leadership’s stance that there will be no other negotiations between Tehran and Washington. The remarks by the spokesman, Ali Rabiei, were the first after a prisoner exchange over the weekend saw Iran free a Chinese-American scholar from Princeton who had been held for three years on widely criticized espionage charges. Saturday’s exchange was negotiated indirectly and took place in Switzerland, which looks after US interests in Iran as Tehran and Washington have no diplomatic ties. The swap raised hopes of other similar actions and was seen as a rare diplomatic breakthrough between Tehran and Washington after months of tensions, but it was unclear if it would have any effect on Iranian-US relations....."

Don't hold your breath.

Or do:

"North Korea calls Trump a ‘heedless and erratic old man’" by Choe Sang-Hun New York Times, December 9, 2019

SEOUL — North Korea called President Trump a “heedless and erratic old man” Monday, after the US leader warned that the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un, could lose “everything” if he resumed military provocations like nuclear or long-range missile tests before next year’s US elections.

Kim Yong Chol, a hard-liner who speaks for the North Korean military, issued a statement criticizing Trump hours after the US leader warned on Twitter on Sunday that Kim Jong Un had “far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way.”

Trump also warned that the North Korean leader should not “void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November” by resuming hostile acts.

His tweets came after North Korea announced Sunday that it had carried out a “very important test” at its missile-engine test site. Analysts said the test probably involved a new type of booster engine that could be used to propel a satellite-delivery rocket or an intercontinental ballistic missile.

They got rockets and “nothing more to lose.”

Trump has also revived his old taunting remarks of Kim in recent weeks, calling him a “rocket man.”

On Thursday, North Korea’s first vice foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, said that Trump’s use of the “rocket man” moniker was a sign of “the relapse of the dotage of a dotard.”

Last week, while urging North Korea to keep its promise to denuclearize, Trump warned that the United States would use military force if it had to.

In their statements of recent weeks, North Korean officials have also become increasingly frosty toward Trump. Kim Jong Un himself has not revived his personal insults against Trump, but that could change if Trump reiterated his threatening remarks, North Korea said Monday.

On Monday, Kim Yong Chol warned that the United States should be ready to be “surprised.”

--more--"

Here is a surprise:

"Russia, Ukraine to revive peace process amid little progress" by Vladimir Isachenkov, Sylvie Corbet and Yuras Karmanau Associated Press, December 9, 2019

PARIS — The presidents of Ukraine and Russia agreed Monday to revive the peace process on the bloody separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine and exchange all prisoners, but they failed to resolve crucial issues such as a timeline on local elections and control of the borders in the rebel-held region.

At the first meeting between new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the two leaders failed to find a compromise to bring an end to the five-year-old war that has killed 14,000 people, emboldened the Kremlin, and reshaped European geopolitics, but they did agree to try again in four months to find new solutions, said French President Emmanuel Macron, who mediated the talks along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and called them “fruitful” in that it brought all four leaders together.

UH-OH!

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (left), French President Emmanuel Macron (center), and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived Monday for a working session at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (left), French President Emmanuel Macron (center), and Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived Monday for a working session at the Elysee Palace in Paris.Alexei Nikolsky/Sputnik/Kremlin Pool via AP/Pool Sputnik Kremlin via AP

Even worse, Germany is on the move again.

Putin said they agreed that the 2015 accord has no alternative, and he emphasized that Ukraine should quickly extend a law giving wide autonomy to the rebel-held regions in line with the deal and also approve a legislation granting amnesty to the rebels. He added that in addition to the prisoner swap, agreement was reached to continue pulling back troops in other areas in in the east, clear mines there, and remove fortifications.

“I would very much like our people to get back home and spend the New Year’s holidays with their families,’’ Zelensky said.

Macron and Merkel said they agreed to intensify the monitoring by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which is now only active for 12 hours a day and conduct it 24 hours a day.

The summit was the biggest test yet for Zelensky, a comic actor and political novice who won the presidency this year in a landslide — partly on promises to end the war. Macron praised the courage and determination of Zelensky, adding he made ‘‘gestures’’ that allowed peace talks to be relaunched.

A major breakthrough at the Paris talks had been seen as unlikely, and Ukrainian protesters in Kyiv had put pressure on their new leader not to surrender too much to Putin, who has been in office nearly 20 years, but the fact that Putin and Zelensky met at all was a significant step after years of war. Putin and Zelensky faced each other across the table, flanked by Macron and Merkel.

Related:

"Paris commuters inched to work Monday through massive traffic jams as strikes against retirement plan changes halted trains and subways for a fifth straight day — with the prospect of a tougher day ahead. French President Emmanuel Macron girded for one of the toughest weeks of his presidency as his government prepares to present a redesign of the convoluted French pension system. Macron sees melding 42 different retirement plans into one as delivering a more equitable, financially sustainable system. Unions view the move as an attack on the French way of life even though Macron’s government is not expected to change the current retirement age of 62. Paris police girded for a huge pension protest march on Tuesday, similar to the one last Thursday when more than 800,000 people across France took part. Fearing possible violence on its fringes, police warned they would mobilize significant resources immediately to stop violence. All restaurants and shops along the march route were ordered closed....."

Must be Russian interference, right?

Despite the 2015 peace agreement, Ukrainian soldiers and Russia-backed separatists have continued to exchange fire across World War I-style trenches along a front line that slices through eastern Ukraine.

While Zelensky still enjoys broad public support, he has been embarrassed by the scandal around his discussions with President Trump that have unleashed an impeachment inquiry in Washington. The United States is an important military backer for Ukraine, which is hugely out-gunned by Russia.

While the United States was never part of this peace process, US backing has strengthened Ukraine’s overall negotiating position with Russia in the past. Now that support is increasingly in doubt, after the Trump administration froze military aid earlier this year and is increasingly focused on Trump’s reelection bid. With US influence waning around the world, many in Kyiv see one clear winner: Russia.

The AP apologizes for that, and don't forget China.

--more--"

There is a bear in the woods......

US officials will review whether grizzly bears have enough protections across the Lower 48 states
US officials will review whether grizzly bears have enough protections across the Lower 48 states (Frank van Manen/United States Geological Survey via AP/File 2019/The United States Geological Survey via AP).

Yeah, I'm heading downhill and the other way after shitting my pants, but not before turning back and taking a second look at that cute little guy! 

How adorable!

Time for a $moke break outside the building:

"Add the cigarette break to the instances where men may be gaining an advantage over women in the workplace. Male smokers switching to a male manager who also smokes are promoted faster than those who do not share this habit with their boss, according to a paper released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The results are part of a broader study that showed men benefit from having a male manager, while women have about the same promotion rate regardless of the gender of their boss."

Just be careful where you throw the match.

"Walmart removed several pieces of holiday merchandise from its Canadian website after customers took offense to a line of risque Christmas clothing. The retail giant also issued an apology over a sweater offered by third-party seller FUN Wear that featured an image of a bug-eyed Santa Claus seated in front of three white lines that appeared to be cocaine. The sweater’s tagline: ‘‘LET IT SNOW.’’ For those who weren’t quite sure what the sweater might be suggesting, its product description read: ‘‘We all know how snow works. It’s white, powdery and the best snow comes straight from South America. That’s bad news for jolly old St. Nick, who lives far away in the North Pole. That’s why Santa really likes to savor the moment when he gets his hands on some quality, grade A, Colombian snow.’’

That brain-dead idea gets you full circle and back to the front page:

Pete Frates, who raised millions for ALS research by championing the Ice Bucket Challenge, dies at 34 The former Boston College baseball star popularized the Ice Bucket Challenge on social media as a way to focus attention on ALS, from which he suffered.

Dan Shaughnessy
As a ballplayer and a person, Pete Frates hit it out of the park The onetime Baseball Beanpot star for BC became a real-life hero, turning a huge negative into a huge positive.

He's a Boston legend now.

Hundreds of scholars protest Harvard’s decision to deny tenure to Latinx studies professor The decision to deny Lorgia García Peña tenue demonstrated a “refusal to recognize the invaluable contributions of [work in her field] to the larger academic community,” the scholars said in a letter.

She is an ethnic studies professor!

(flip below fold to go underground)

Safety ‘is not the priority’ at the MBTA The MBTA’s intense focus on tightening its budget while speeding the pace of capital projects has been “detrimental” to the operations of the agency, and it’s helped foster a culture where safety is not the priority, a panel of experts found.

Just like the DMV, and “changes to the culture are going to take a long time.” 

I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.

MBTA’s new fare system will be years late, and cost a lot more money The MBTA’s focus on tightening its budget while speeding up capital projects has been “detrimental” to operations and has helped foster a culture in which safety is not the priority, a panel found.

The Globe says trucks are the problemand it's enough to make you blow your top as the latest battle over culture comes after actors and opposition activists said Prime Minister Viktor Orban was pushing for communist-style censorship.

No wonder global television advertising had its steepest drop in a decade and CBS may be forced to put its iconic NYC headquarters up for sale.

NEXT DAY UPDATE:

It is going to be a quick one because I shouldn't have even bought it. I was hoping to find something that wasn't there.

Taking it from the top:

Democrats formally call for Trump’s removal, citing abuse of power and obstruction of Congress

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California unveiled two articles of impeachment against President Trump, flanked by

They are on track and claim that “President Trump abused the powers of the presidency by ignoring and injuring national security and other vital national interests to obtain an improper personal political benefit [and] has also betrayed the nation by abusing his office to enlist a foreign power in corrupting democratic elections.”

Forget the long historical record of the U.S. CIA interfering in elections, I'm wondering where were -- at the very least -- the articles of impeachment were for Dick Cheney after awarding all the no bid war contracts to Halliburton?

The charge would also seem to implicate former VP Biden regarding Burisma and his son. Remove the prosecutor or you're not getting the billion dollars. Well, god damn, the prosecutor was fired and they replaced him with someone solid.

Related (from pages B6 and B8):

For Richard Neal, a steady focus on new trade deal

He drags his heels on Trump's tax returns, but joined House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in announcing the new trade deal that Pelosi declared a ‘victory for the American worker.’

(below fold)

At Trump rally in Pa., loyalists say ‘the Democrats are helping us’ by pushing impeachment

Man is found guilty of murdering two doctors in South Boston condo

Bottom of page:

Bengals are said to be ‘livid’ over Patriots’ illegal videotaping

Page A2 National lead:

Trump and Barr criticize FBI director over report on Russia inquiry

The Globe says there was only mismanagement and low-level wrongdoing at the FBI, no grand conspiracy, as they stick with their absurd story.

Co-lead:

FTC reaches $191 million settlement with University of Phoenix in deceptive-advertising probe

The web version replaced the shooting in Jersey City with the Houston police chief ripping Mitch McConnell so you might want to Czech the hospitals.

Pentagon inspector general will examine if southern border operations follow US law

Another IG, and further south a Mexican ex-security chief took bribes from a cartel.

He's lucky he wasn't found in a ditch.

Page A4 World lead:

Fallen rights icon appears in UN court for Rohingya genocide case

It looks to me like they turned on her after she chose her country over other concerns. No doubt recognizing reality and improving relations with China is at the bottom of the rights charges. When I see the war-criminal EUSraeli leaders before the UN I will sit up and take notice.

Greenland’s accelerating ice losses are now in line with highest sea-level scenario, scientists say

It's so bad that the reindeer are starving and Greta is very concerned about the world's ailing oceans.

Finland gets world’s youngest prime minister

She is a 34-year-old woman, and you can toast her with the full-page Total Wine ad on page A5.

Or, if you prefer, a mixed drink:

Trump considers former chemical industry executive to lead Consumer Product Safety Commission

Some don't drink and are offended by it:

Navy suspends flight training for Saudi military students in Florida

Related:

US bars Saudi diplomat over killing of Jamal Khashoggi

Hollywood’s disdain for women journalists

The reality of being a woman journalist is unwanted touching, catcalls, awkward hugs, and forced kisses, but at least they didn't chop you up with a bone saw.

On to the welfare state as it exists today:

In UK campaign, online disinformation abounds

The New York Times says it is often spread by the politicians themselves (pot-kettle syndrome), and Facebook is going to clean it all up.

Holiday rom-com ‘Love, Actually’ inspires UK election memes

It means there are fewer wild cards this year.

MBTA’s struggle to address safety at same time it rebuilds system may come down to money

Fixing the T will take more than just tightening our belts

Thus the Globe's recent focus is exposed as a money grab.

St. Guillen concedes City Council election that ended in a one-vote difference

(stink below the fold)

Kim Janey claims votes to be next Boston City Council president

Boston may look to eliminate disputed hair drug tests for police

Ban on vape sales in Massachusetts ends Wednesday

The Globe tells you what happens next so don't lose your breath.

Romans brought wood from 1,000 miles away to the Eternal City, study says

Boston couples celebrate 50-plus years of marriage at annual Golden Anniversary Celebration

AG charges Melrose couple with running a tech support scam targeting seniors

This paper is almost history.

Beth Israel Lahey expands orthopedic surgery care, using Baptist Hospital as model

At Massport, new CEO is ready for change

Her first big test as the head of Massport is the smooth rollout of the new ride-hail rules at Logan Airport, and I suppose we should all be glad it isn't under MBTA or DMV jurisdiction.

Amid lawsuits, Bayer mounts campaign to defend weedkiller

An a$pirin a day, right?

Big biz group makes strides with board diversity

US stocks dip as weekend deadline on trade looms

The obituaries get me back above the front page fold and to Frates before saying farewell.