Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday Globe Special: A Day with the First Family

Globe shows you to your room first:

"Jared Kushner got his start as Somerville landlord" by Matt Viser Globe Staff  June 23, 2017

SOMERVILLE — It was the low-ball of all low-ball offers, insulting in the moment, laughable in retrospect.

Four Harvard grad students renting a first-floor Dimick Street apartment received word in the spring of 2002 that their new landlord wanted to renovate their unit and put it on the market as a condominium. The kitchen and bathroom work would be performed, the students were told, while they were still living there.

Dan Neafsey and his roommates took a break from doctorate work in evolutionary biology and scoured Somerville regulations and tenant law to discover their lease prevented such disruptive work. But they agreed to go along, if the landlord would give them a one-month break on their $1,850 rent.

Then came the counteroffer from their landlord, a baby-faced Harvard undergrad named Jared Kushner: He would give them a $100 break.

Steve Vollmer, another roommate, said, “It seemed like he was very young and amateurish.”

They barely gave their landlord another thought, until there he was at the right hand of the most powerful man in the world.

How is that Middle East trip on his own going anyway? 

Kushner’s clumsy bit of hardball typified his first foray into multiunit, residential real estate investing, according to Globe interviews with tenants, business partners, and a review of Somerville housing records. At 19, he was in the training-wheels stage of his career as a developer, learning as he went, making his share of mistakes, acquiring a landlord’s tough edge and cool calculus — traits he still manifests in the White House.


Learning to fix up and flip clusters of low-end apartment buildings, he used Somerville as his own private laboratory. And he passed the first key test — he made a profit.

Of course, he had a headstart. Much as Trump began his career of deals with a multimillion-dollar boost from his father, Kushner started out with his wealthy father acting as senior partner and offering crucial assistance — including helping secure $9 million in mortgage loans.

Charles Kushner wanted his son to learn by doing in the family trade. And there was nothing glitzy or glamorous about Kushner’s apprenticeship, coming long before he became chief executive of the Kushner family real estate empire, and well before he married into the billionaire Trump family.

A $2.5 million pledge

Kushner grew up in Livingston, N.J., the eldest son in a real estate family. As he was applying for college, his father wanted to make sure he got into Harvard.

He pledged $2.5 million to the school, and he also asked Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey to get Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts to lobby Harvard dean William Fitzsimmons, according to “The Price of Admission” by Daniel Golden.

When Kushner arrived in Cambridge in 1999, he plugged into campus life. He was active in the Harvard Chabad, a campus Jewish group; played junior varsity squash; and was a member of an exclusive social club called The Fly. He was also listed as the cooking editor of Current Magazine, a news and campus life publication that had started at Harvard a few years earlier.

So what was he reading during those years?

But while he was living in Kirkland House and getting a degree in government, his lot was very different from his fellow undergrads. He frequently left the brick and ivy of Cambridge and headed across the city line to Somerville, with its block upon block of working-class, wood-frame buildings.

In the fall of 2000, just before the start of Jared’s sophomore year, Charles Kushner came up to Cambridge with his son. It was time to get started on Jared’s extracurricular business education. They met on a Sunday afternoon with Michael Rubin, a local lawyer, and Charles Kushner began an interview of sorts.

“He said, ‘We’re in the real estate business and I want Jared to learn while he’s in college. He’s going to buy some properties and he needs guidance,’ ” Rubin recalled. “He was trying to get his feet wet. His dad really wanted him to see what it was like to experience some independence, instead of just being slotted in the family business.”

At the time, Kushner Companies, founded in 1985 by Jared’s father, owned and managed more than 20,000 apartment units, most of them in New Jersey.

Rent control in Massachusetts had ended several years earlier. The Kushners saw opportunities to swoop into Somerville, fix up apartments, and raise rents or convert them to condos.

“It was a good time to get in and spend some money and get a good return,” Rubin said.

Jared Kushner — along with his father and his mother’s brother, Richard Stadtmauer — set up several different corporate entities in Massachusetts. Jared, often listed as vice president, was making decisions, but only after consulting with his father and his uncle back in New Jersey. 

I wonder who is he consulting now that he is in the White House.

“He wasn’t just given a check and say go knock yourself out. He was watched,” Rubin said. “He would do the analysis and consult with his dad or his dad’s people or his uncle before making decisions. He was usually pretty spot-on.”

As Jared was quietly buying up and renovating properties, his family was in a state of uproar, with Charles Kushner warring with his own brother, Murray. A few years later, Charles Kushner would be convicted of tax evasion, witness tampering, and illegal campaign contributions, and Jared would help run the family business.

What is interesting is it was Chris Christie who brought charges. Odd how he was the first of the primary candidates to jump on the Trump train, and how we was unceremoniously dumped for any role in the administration. All he is now is the governor of New Jersey again.

The drama that would be revealed in court papers later was weighing on Jared during his time at Harvard.

“It was a ton of stress on him,” Rubin said. “When the proverbial [stuff] hit the fan, he just got quiet.”

He had a case of the mumps is all.

Transient neighborhoods

Jared Kushner promptly set about making repairs and renovations, remodeling bathrooms and kitchens, refinishing hardwood floors, updating electrical work. All told, he poured at least $275,000 into the buildings, according to cost estimates provided in city work permits.

Most of his efforts went into converting 22 apartments to 16 condos in an expansive property perched on Prospect Hill. That yielded the biggest return: From an apartment building he’d purchased for $2.25 million he reaped $4.3 million in condo sales.

“These were very neglected buildings,” Kushner told the New York Sun in 2006. “And we turned them into places that people could go home and be proud of.”

Kushner had several people he relied upon for help, bumming rides from all of them.

“He had a lot of money, but no car,” said Roberto Santos, the property manager for Kushner’s buildings. “Even at the airport, I’d go pick him up.”

He couldn't drive because of too many tickets?

Nelson Oliveira, a contractor who did all the work on Kushner’s properties, used to pick Kushner up on campus about once a week. As they drove to job sites in Oliveira’s pickup truck, Jared would talk about his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor who started from scratch in the United States.

“He was very proud of his grandfather, the way he started from zero. He would say his grandfather was a hard worker. He believed in hard work, you know?”

But Oliveira concedes that construction work ran into delays on some of the projects, which drew Kushner’s ire.

“He did sometimes get angry . . . but he was polite about it,” Oliveira aid. “I never heard him use the f-word or anything like that. He never cursed.”

Good kid, clean cut.

They’d go to lunch at S&S, the longtime diner in Inman Square, or an Italian restaurant on Mass. Ave. Kushner would eat soups and salads or, sometimes, pizza.

“He was always watching what he ate. He always liked healthy food,” Oliveira said.

At least they have that going for them.

Oliveira took direction from Jared but was quietly made aware that the family was keeping close track and valued his work. Each year around the holidays the Kushner family would send him a gift, Oliveira said, including, one year, a winter coat.

That's the best gift he ever got? What it cost, $100?

Persistent issues with trash

Calm and considerate with Oliveira, Kushner appeared decidedly less charitable to his tenants.

The Globe reached more than two dozen of his former tenants, many of whom were surprised to learn that Kushner was behind the vague-sounding partnerships — Somerville Building Associates and the like — where they used to send their rent checks. Most complaints were handled by a management company; they rarely dealt with him.

Okay, he was what they call an absentee landlord and they also closed the health center.

One building had persistent issues with trash and overflowing dumpsters that triggered letters from the city and a local alderman.

Another property had several complaints about foul smells and insects that lingered. “Owner not responding to tenants living conditions,” the city wrote in August 2004. “Tenant will call exterminators.” Six months later, another complaint came in: “Strong sewage smell in apartment coming from basement.”

Six weeks later, reports of “mold, smell of dead animals, infestation of insects.” The city ordered extermination of the apartment and repairs to windows throughout. Within a few weeks, the city deemed the issue resolved.

A large Kushner-owned 15-unit building on Waldo Avenue had reports of no heat at times in the winter, and then a broken thermostat that would push hot air into the rooms in the fall and spring. A city inspector wrote in a report that it was 95 degrees in one apartment.

Residents reported being told by property managers to just open the windows.

One tenant wrote in 2004 that the renters had “landed . . . in the middle of an unbelievably distressing situation with a slumlord who refuses to fix the heat.”

Now that is strong stuff!

“We had the misfortune of being the first tenants to fight a landlord as vindictive and crooked as Kushner Companies,” they wrote, saying the problem had gone on for at least three years.

A few doors down, other tenants had similar issues.

“We went a whole winter without any heat,” recalled Rachel Marks, who relied on residual heat from the two floors below, which helped but did not offset the subzero temperatures that winter. “We were going back and forth complaining all winter. We were cold.”

Marks — who said she had paid $632.40 to fill the oil tank outside in preparation for winter — raised alarms with the property manager, and later with Kushner headquarters in New Jersey.

Property managers claimed the problem was with a gas line, even though the home was heated by oil.

In another instance, when Nick Hildebidle and his two roommates moved out of an apartment on Waldo Avenue, the management company refused, without citing a reason, to return their security deposit.

Hildebidle, a 23-year-old with no legal background, cobbled together the paperwork to file a small claims case in Somerville District Court. No one from Kushner’s company showed up for the appointed court date and Hildebidle won the case by default. Nearly a year after they moved out, they got their $1,550 security deposit back, with interest.

Thank you, Judge Milian!

“My impression of him as landlord was he didn’t know what he was doing,” said Jennifer Douglas, who had spent eight years in her Waldo Avenue apartment before Kushner took over and doubled her rent. “He wasn’t out to be a slumlord or harm somebody deliberately. But he didn’t really care about tenants either. It was just, ‘This is my building now. I want to do condo conversions.’ ”

“I was unable to negotiate with that guy,’’ she said. “He was just unbending.”

Doesn't bode well for the Middle East I suppose, although there is always the possibility that the Globe found some disgruntled people and decided to grind the ax.

But Kushner never converted that building on Waldo Avenue to condos. “My sense of things was he poorly judged what constituted a high-cost condo in that market at that moment,” Douglas said. “It was like a 12- or 15-unit building and it had no style. The moment wasn’t right.”

He was young kid. You think you know everything, but you don't know nothing(sic)!!

And let me tell you, as an older person, you don't know everything then, either. Even when you think you do, you find out something else. It's cliche, but I learn something new every day. I hope I helped you.

Kushner’s only successful condominium conversation was the building on Prospect Hill. And within four years, once he had been out of Harvard for a year, he was ready to get out of Somerville.

I can empathize with that feeling.

‘He was humbled’

Marc Resnick was going to buy all of Kushner’s properties in what would be one of the biggest purchases he’d made in nearly 20 years in real estate.

When he met the 23-year-old Kushner, he thought the same thing people still think to this day: He’s got a lot of responsibility for someone so young and inexperienced.

“He was pretty confident for such a young kid,” Resnick said.

They had a purchase and sale agreement in place for all of Kushner’s remaining properties. But when Kushner sent him the loan documents, Resnick quickly realized that one of the loans came with more complicated terms that would result in a $200,000 penalty if Kushner wanted to get out of the loan a year early.

“The truth is that he didn’t understand his own loan,” Resnick said. “So I explained to him that if he sold me the property he was going to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in a prepayment penalty. He listened to me. He hung up, and then he called back a few days later and asked if we could meet.”

Kushner arrived alone at Resnick’s office in Brighton, sharply dressed in a suit and without his father or attorney.

“He was humbled,” Resnick said.

Kushner paid Resnick $50,000 to break the purchase and sale agreement. It was the first time in at least 500 transactions that Resnick had experienced such a thing.

“I joke all the time, if you give me $50,000, I’ll gladly not buy any property you’d like,” he said. “ ‘What else would you not want me to buy?’ ”

After graduating cum laude from Harvard, Kushner left for New York and began law school.

By 2005, he had sold all of his real estate in Somerville. The next year, he paid a reported $10 million to buy the New York Observer in 2006. Soon, he would started dating Ivanka Trump. He was on his way.

‘‘All You Need Is Love’’

And by the time his classmates were submitting notes for their 10th year reunion at Harvard, his was one of the shorter entries. He listed little else beyond his updated address: 666 Fifth Ave., which his company had purchased for $1.8 billion.

Man, is that ever an in-your-face something! For those who believe, even for those who do not. You can't fail to not know the symbolism of that number.

Kushner did not respond to requests for an interview.....


So you kids had to move, huh (talk about self-absorbed, wow. Covered pages A10-12 in print)?

"As Melania Trump keeps lower profile, son draws interest" by Darlene Superville Associated Press  June 23, 2017

WASHINGTON — Even the smallest details of every recent Barron Trump sighting have drawn interest as the family returned from a Father’s Day weekend retreat at Camp David.

See what Kathy Griffin started! 

Oh, Happy Father's Day, btw.

First Lady Melania Trump told ‘‘Fox and Friends’’ this week that she’s enjoying White House life so much that she doesn’t really miss New York. Barron is ‘‘all settled’’ and ‘‘loves it here,’’ she said.

In her first lady role, Trump has played host to her counterpart from Panama for a lunch upstairs in the private quarters of the White House.

She also accompanied President Trump to the hospital to visit a Louisiana congressman and others who were shot at baseball practice, and helped plan a picnic for members of Congress on the White House lawn.

She’s also preparing to accompany the president to Poland and Germany after the Fourth of July.

Will she hold his hand this time?

Questions remain, though, about what kind and how social a first lady Trump will be.

Will she dine out at the city’s trendiest restaurants? Pedal up a sweat at SoulCycle spinning classes? Try to go incognito on a Target shopping run?

Do I care?

Even the president has described his third wife, a 47-year-old former model and native of Slovenia, as more happy at home than working the social scene. ‘‘She would go home at night and didn’t even want to go out with people,’’ Trump said of his wife’s life in New York.

She said during the campaign that she would work to combat cyberbullying as first lady. She has made no further announcements about her plans.

He's still tweeting, right?

The first lady also has to hire more staff, including a lead curator to help chronicle White House history and preserve its artifacts. She filled the chief usher’s position last week with an employee from the Trump hotel down the street.

So when does the investigation begin?

Like some presidents, first ladies complain about the constraints of White House life even as they try to cope with Secret Service agents guarding them around the clock.

Michelle Obama once jokingly described the mansion as a ‘‘really nice prison.’’ But it’s much easier for first ladies than presidents to venture out in public because they travel with far less security and staff.

Hillary Clinton said she walked around town wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses, and sweat clothes, and required the members of her security detail to try to blend in with tourists. Laura Bush would go shopping in Georgetown.

Michelle Obama was often seen dining at the city’s hottest restaurants with President Barack Obama and once made a Target run hiding behind dark glasses and a baseball cap.....


Good to see them holding hands, and does Baron play basketball?


Getting ready for work tomorrow?

"Raji Alatassi watched a video clip of the recent Cabinet meeting in which the top officials took turns heaping worshipful praise upon their leader. He felt he had seen it before: paternal leaders whose families dominate the power structure; policies and language harking back to a glorified and oversimplified past....."

(Return to top of post)

Small plane strikes day-care building

W Bush kept reading, though. 

Depp's 'assassin' comments the latest in celebrity anger

He gets into his characters too much.

"In 1973, former White House Counsel John W. Dean began testifying before the Senate Watergate Committee, implicating top administration officials, including President Richard Nixon as well as himself, in the Watergate scandal and cover-up....."

No, we don't want that, either.

"Trump leaves McConnell to handle Senate bill on health care" by Andrew Taylor Associated Press  June 24, 2017

WASHINGTON — The White House is putting its faith in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to deliver a legacy-defining victory.

Meaning if the bill fails it is by definition a defeat.

The strategy follows Trump’s seat-of-the-pants approach on health care. Trump’s team failed to score major wins in last month’s wrap-up spending bill, as lawmakers blocked funding for his border wall.

After a shaky start, the White House hopes the Senate debate will allow Trump to turn the page on health care and get a fresh start on rewriting the tax code, a plan to rebuild roads and bridges, and his promise to strengthen the military — none of which will prove easy to accomplish.

Military will be easy to accomplish. There is not one bleat from either side of the aisle regarding the escalation of wars.

See: You’ll Never Guess What Losing Democrats All Have in Common”. A hint for politicians – No More Wars For The Jews is a proven and guaranteed election winner. That is, if you actually want to win rather than sit back and add to your shekel collection. -- xymphora

On taxes, a working group of four top lawmakers is meeting weekly in hopes of coming up with a unified GOP tax plan for a vote this fall.

While health care is still unfinished, Trump took pride on Friday in signing a bill to make it easier to fire workers at the much-criticized Department of Veterans Affairs. He took to Twitter to boast of passing 38 bills thus far.

‘‘I’ve done in five months what other people haven’t done in years,’’ Trump said in an interview that aired Friday on Fox News Channel’s ‘‘Fox & Friends.’’

House GOP leaders say Trump was a big asset in getting the health care bill passed. ‘‘He’s more engaging, which means he has more personal relationships,’’ said No. 2 House Republican Kevin McCarthy of California.

‘‘He will tell you from the health care experience that he’s talked to almost every single member,’’ McCarthy said. “If he sees somebody on TV and he thought they did something good, he’ll pick up the phone and just call them directly.’’

In contrast to who?

But the Senate is even more complicated and Trump’s lack of interest in the nitty-gritty details of legislation is a liability.

When Trump suggested on Twitter in late May that Republicans should change the Senate rules to a simple majority vote to speed up the process, McConnell told the president to leave Senate business to him, according to three people familiar with the conversation. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private calls.

He still needs Mitch, but watch out when he does not.

During a White House meeting last week with 13 Republican senators, Trump said the House version was ‘‘mean’’ and urged the senators to make it more generous. That message was at odds with Trump’s Rose Garden celebration after the bill cleared the House, when he told lawmakers it was a ‘‘great plan.’’

Probably why I'm pretty much tuning out the guy already.

But Trump didn’t articulate what improvements he wanted to see in the Senate bill, even as the comment ruffled feathers in the House.

Shortly after the Senate bill was released on Thursday, the challenges that lie ahead in the Senate came into view. If three of the Senate Republicans’ 52 members oppose the bill, it will fail.

Four conservative Senate Republicans — including onetime Trump presidential rivals Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas — said they could not support the plan because it looked too much like President Barack Obama’s law.

Others, like Senators Dean Heller of Nevada, Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Rob Portman of Ohio, have pointed to concerns about the proposal’s cuts to Medicaid.

Trump helped House leaders corral votes, but his ability to move more difficult-to-influence senators is untested. Several of them felt his lash during last year’s campaign or, like Portman and Susan Collins of Maine, have kept their distance from Trump.

The health care bill could underscore the perils of the president’s poor job approval ratings, which have hovered around 40 percent this year. Some of the GOP senators he’ll need to persuade have built their own separate political identities in their home states and may be less inclined to embrace Trump..... 

Probably as high as he is going to go, even with a dirty bomb in a US city.


"Supreme Court decisions near on travel ban, religion" by Mark Sherman Associated Press  June 24, 2017

WASHINGTON — The biggest news of all, though, would be if Justice Anthony Kennedy were to use the court’s last public session on Monday to announce his retirement.

The months-old rumor must be true, and at the very least it will draw tons of attention away from other happenings.

To be sure, Kennedy has given no public sign that he will retire this year and give President Trump his second high court pick in the first months of his administration. Kennedy’s departure would allow conservatives to take firm control of the court.

They haven't already?

But Kennedy turns 81 next month and has been on the court for nearly 30 years. Several of his former law clerks have said they think he is contemplating stepping down in the next year or so. Kennedy and his clerks were gathering over the weekend for a reunion that was pushed up a year and helped spark talk he might be leaving the court.

‘‘Soon we’ll know if rumors of Kennedy’s retirement are accurate,’’ one former Kennedy clerk, George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr, said on Twitter on Friday.

Maybe he has a health problem.

In his short time on the court, Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, has already paired up four times with Justice Clarence Thomas — the court’s most conservative member — in separate opinions that dissent from or take issue with the court’s majority rulings.

While the sample size is small, the results show Gorsuch’s commitment to follow the strict text of the law and a willingness to join Thomas in pushing the envelope further than the court’s other conservatives.

The talk is that Roe is the next to go, and I'll believe it when I see it. Would sure rip open another gash in the social discord that is being used as distraction. I'm not saying the issues of race, gender, sex, and the rest are unimportant; what I am saying is that the banksters looted them as well as everyone else, and family members of all types are dying in these wars based on lies.

Gorsuch was picked by Trump to be a reliable conservative in the mold of the late Antonin Scalia. But the question after his confirmation hearings was how far to the right he would be.

The early trend of Gorsuch and Thomas acting together has pleased those who hoped Gorsuch would continue Scalia’s legacy and be another intellectual beacon for conservatives.....


Related: Supreme Court Ab$olves Bush of Torture

That's good news for Trump.


"On Thursday, Reina Rodriguez was found dead inside a hotel room at the Hyatt Place Boston/Braintree. Investigators have called the 19-year-old’s death “suspicious,” but have released no information about how she died. On Saturday, Braintree police Chief Paul J. Shastany said officials would not be discussing the case. He declined to answer questions about whether anyone was with Rodriguez at the hotel the day she died....."

Seems like just yesterday, or don't you remember?

Think they will they be able to solve it?

"A 53-year-old woman was arrested Friday night in Brockton following the fatal stabbing of her boyfriend in their Maguire Road home earlier in the day, according to a statement from the Plymouth district attorney’s office. Kirsten Smith is charged with murder in the death of 52-year-old Scott Benoit, after she allegedly stabbed him in the chest at approximately 1 p.m. Friday, according to the statement. Emergency responders pronounced Benoit dead at the scene. Benoit’s family said in a statement Saturday that they are still in shock over the news....."

They caught her red-handed, and if I find anything else I will let you know.

"A 22-year-old Roslindale man suffered serious injuries Friday evening when he got out of his overheating car on Interstate 95 in Needham and was struck by a passing vehicle, State Police said in a statement. Officers are looking for a suspect who allegedly failed to stop after striking the man. The victim was traveling south on I-95 around 10 p.m. when he pulled over his vehicle near Exit 19. After he got out of the car, another vehicle struck him and continued traveling south, the statement said....."

"A woman died after she was ejected from a car in a single-car crash Friday night, police said. Sandra McAndrews of Lancaster was driving a 2003 BMW 235 IT when it rolled over at about 8 p.m....."

"Police say four malnourished horses may have been locked inside a New Hampshire barn for more than a year....."

No need for a horse to be beneath you.

"Mayor Martin J. Walsh, the incumbent, who is white, holds a commanding 31-point lead over his closest rival, Councilor Tito Jackson, in a new Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll. With 14 weeks to go before the Sept. 26 preliminary contest, Jackson, who is African-American, remains a virtual unknown....."

Call it the Everett syndrome.


"A wildfire menacing a southern Utah ski town for nearly a week flared again, doubling in size and torching more homes after residents fled the flames. The blaze was one of several burning in the West as extreme heat challenges firefighters....."

It has also sparked a new round of discussions about how the religion handles LGBT issues.

"California adds more states to its travel limits" by Peter Holley Washington Post  June 24, 2017

WASHINGTON — California has added an eighth state to its list of places where state government employees are barred from traveling.

That state’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, announced last week that the state will prohibit travel to Texas on grounds that it has enacted laws that discriminate against LGBT individuals and their families.

They consider that a hate crime.

Governor Greg Abbott of Texas recently signed a controversial bill that allows child welfare providers — including faith-based adoption agencies — to refuse adoptions to hopeful parents based on ‘‘sincerely held religious beliefs.’’

California previously banned official travel to Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee because of similar laws in those states that it considers discriminatory.

‘‘Our country has made great strides in dismantling prejudicial laws that have deprived too many of our fellow Americans of their precious rights,’’ Becerra said. ‘‘Sadly, that is not the case in all parts of our nation, even in the 21st century.”

The travel restrictions were started by former attorney general Kamala D. Harris.

Becerra has the power to implement the ban under a state law that went into effect at the beginning of 2017. It prohibits publicly-funded travel to states with laws that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The measure was created in response to North Carolina’s notorious ‘‘bathroom bill,’’ a measure that required transgender people use bathrooms that aligned with the gender on their birth certificate, according to the Los Angeles Times.

I'm holding it in.

The law led to an outpouring of anger nationally and prompted business to leave the state and numerous entertainment events to be canceled.

‘‘There are consequences to discrimination,’’ Becerra told reporters at a news conference Thursday in San Francisco, according to the Times. ‘‘Restricting state-sponsored travel is a consequence.’’

The decision to ban state-funded travel is far-reaching, according to the attorney general’s office, and applies to ‘‘state agencies, departments, boards, authorities, and commissions, including an agency, department, board, authority, or commission of the University of California, the Board of Regents of the University of California, and the California State University.’’

Becerra’s decision to increase the number of states affected by the ban from four to eight drew praise from Rick Zbur, the executive director of Equality California.....



"The owner of a Winooski gay bar is changing the name after months over controversy. Craig McGaughan was subjected to criticism when he announced in March he was naming the bar ‘‘Mister Sister.’’ McGaughan saw the term as inclusive but some critics contended it’s a slur historically used to disparage transgender women. The new name is ‘‘The Bridge Club.’’ The Burlington Free Press reported that McGaughan posted on Facebook that he hopes people see humor in the new name and a nod to the historic Winooski Bridge (AP)."

Just planting the seeds of social engineering, or is that the wrong word?

"This is how lewd David Ortiz’s roast was" by Mark Shanahan Globe Staff  June 23, 2017

NESN cameras were rolling during Thursday’s roast of former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz because the network had plans to air it this weekend. That won’t be happening.


The roast, featuring comedians Bill Burr, Lenny Clarke, and Sarah Tiana, among others, has been scrubbed from NESN’s schedule, the network announced Friday. It won’t be broadcast this or, it’s safe to say, any other weekend because much of the humor was wildly vulgar and profane. Beyond ribald, most of the jokes were NSFW to the extreme and had many in the crowd squirming in their seats.

Not things you would say in front of your wives or Megyn Kelly, right?

The audience, which had been warned at the outset by ESPN’s Jonathan Coachman that the language would get rough, nonetheless groaned several times during the evening, notably when comics made jokes about former Patriots player Aaron Hernandez.

That's not funny, I don't care what you think of him.

There were also jokes — and a lot of them — about sex and body parts and cringe-worthy cracks about race and ethnicity.

“Anthony [Mackie] is here because we needed someone to be racist to and Adam Jones had a game tonight,” said Tiana, referring to the Orioles outfielder who was subjected to racial slurs from a fan during a recent game at Fenway Park.

She was a late addition because Curt Schilling couldn't attend.

When the crowd booed, Tiana laughed.

“[Expletive] y’all,” she hissed.

She thought she was a member of the elite club, and she still does. Maybe she still is. I doubt this is the kind of thing that would get you kicked out permanently.

As anyone who’s watched similar roasts on Comedy Central knows, the roasters typically attack each other as well as the guest of honor. So it was Thursday night. Burr sprayed venom across the dais, calling Clarke “a Boston institution — like gout and racism.”


Burr also mocked Patriots star Rob Gronkowski, another of the evening’s wags.

“Do you ever turn anything down, Gronk?” said Burr. “You would [expletive] spike a flaming cross at a Klan rally if they promised you travel and some buffalo wings.”

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia was teased, over and over, about his height — there were comparisons to Frodo from “The Lord of the Rings” — but the cruelest taunts were reserved for Ortiz, who sat alone on a white couch and smiled through the pain.....

Time to get out of the batter's box.


So where in the world was Tom Brady

Looking for Matthew Slater and Malcolm Mitchell?


Heading towards Late Night now, and I gave up on that self-promoting shill a long time ago. I heard that Oliver Stone really zinged him.

"War on truth: US interferes in our affairs, says Russia after being accused of hacking and meddling; Russian officials say what is at stake now are Russia’s 2018 presidential and national elections

South China Morning Post
25 June, 2017

When it comes to accusations that Russia hacked or otherwise interfered in last year’s US presidential election, the Kremlin has consistently denied any involvement.

Now, some Russian officials are pointing the finger at Washington, saying it’s America that is meddling in Moscow’s domestic affairs. In fact, Kremlin officials say, the US has been doing it for years.

Hacking? The Kremlin’s website is attacked daily “from within US territories,” Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, said this month.

Information warfare and fake news? Washington-funded media outlets like Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America have long run what the Kremlin sees as an anti-Putin propaganda campaign aimed at supporting the Russian opposition.

A report prepared by a committee of the Russian parliament said American media outlets engaged in biased and “anti-Russia” coverage of Russian parliamentary elections in 2016. Radio Free Europe, Voice of America and CNN in particular were criticised for their stories, which the report claimed unfairly “questioned the democratic nature of the electoral system in Russia.”

“It is difficult to deny that during last year’s parliamentary election campaign, these radio stations that are being financed from the United States were using journalism as a cover to spread one-sided propaganda and disinformation on the Russian electoral process,” said Leonid Levin, a parliamentary deputy who presented the report to the parliament in May.

Russian officials say what is at stake now are Russia’s 2018 presidential and national elections. They said the government must act swiftly to counter any attempts by the United States and its allies to interfere.

In particular, Kremlin officials have pointed to the activities of US-funded organisations such as the National Democratic Institute, the US Agency for International Development and the International Republican Institute.....


Actually, it is way worse than electoral interference.

"Note that WaPo carefully avoids explicitly saying who stole the DNC emails, although the way the paragraph begins (“outlines of the Russian assault”) implies the Russians did. In other words, the reporters erase the possibility of insider threats, for which there is at least prima facie evidence. (I said “prima facie,” not “proven.”) It’s almost as if the reporters are pushing a particular narrative, isn’t it? And airbrushing inconvenient possibilities away? Now, just because WaPo’s story exhibits formal characteristics of a carefully crafted work of fiction — in this case, serialized in the press — doesn’t mean it is fiction. I’m doing a media critique, here, nothing more. However, if we’re going to depose a President who took the oath of office after getting a majority of the votes in the electoral college — and that has been the goal of the torturers, perjurers, and entrapment artists who are the sources for this story since the “faithless electors” effort after November 8, 2016 — we need to demand evidence, not claims about evidence. And I think anybody who remembers the Iraq WMD debacle should give consideration to making the same demand....." -- nakedcapitalism

Also see: "The World Is Going Down With Trump" 

Looks like this is the end of today's posts.