Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Trump Reigns Supreme

"Supreme Court allows much of Trump travel ban to go into effect" by Michael D. Shear and Adam Liptak New York Times  June 26, 2017

WASHINGTON — Based on the dissent, those three justices are likely to vote in favor of the Trump administration. The court’s four-member liberal bloc — Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan — are likely to vote against it.

That leaves the ultimate fate of the ban in the hands of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy.....

I guess he is staying.



Judge considering national freeze on Iraqi deportations

In Massachusetts, concern over ban lingers

Harvard Divinity students walk alongside unauthorized immigrants

At the border, ‘deterrence’ becomes a death sentence

It's not like he is sending them to the moon.


States must aid some church programs, justices rule

"In other matters Monday: The Supreme Court reaffirmed its 2015 decision recognizing a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, agreed to hear an appeal from a Colorado baker with religious objections to same-sex marriage, and declined to hear a Second Amendment challenge to a California law that places strict limits on carrying guns in public..... The Supreme Court agreed to consider the reach of an anti-retaliation provision in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law in a case that could insulate publicly traded companies from some whistle-blower lawsuits. The justices will hear an appeal from Digital Realty Trust Inc., which is fighting a lawsuit by a former company vice president who was fired after complaining about alleged violations of federal securities laws. Digital Realty contends that Dodd-Frank authorized whistle-blower lawsuits only by people who had reported the alleged misconduct to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The fired employee, Paul Somers, lodged his complaint internally. Lower courts are divided on the issue."


"Last year, the US Supreme Court issued its strongest defense of abortion rights in a quarter-century, striking down 5-3 Texas’ widely replicated rules that sharply reduced abortion clinics in the nation’s second-most-populous state....."


Susan Collins says she doesn’t support GOP health bill

She is now part of a small but potentially decisive GOP rebellion.

Feds looking into Bernie Sanders’s wife over real estate deal

He's there to talk about health care and they drag that up?

CBO says Senate health bill picks your pocket

Charlie Baker could lead on health care debate

264,000 Mass. residents would lose health coverage under Senate bill, Baker says

You can thank the nurses for that.


"Top Republican presses for $705 billion defense budget" by Richard Lardner Associated Press  June 27, 2017

You will have to give me a moment; I need to find my eyeballs that are rolling around on the floor somewhere.

WASHINGTON — An influential House committee chairman pressed his case on Monday for a $705 billion defense budget in 2018, more military spending than at any point during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a level even a number of his Republican colleagues don’t support.

Representative Mac Thornberry of Texas, who heads the Armed Services Committee, said the sharp increase is badly needed to repair a military that’s been at almost continuous combat for a decade and a half.

Then the future budgets are only going to be bigger because not only is there no end in sight, they are being escalated as I type.

He unveiled a blueprint that proposes $37 billion above the $603 billion than President Trump requested for core Pentagon operations along with another $65 billion for war-fighting missions, but conservatives who dominate the Budget Committee agreed last week on a budget outline that promises $620 billion for the core military budget that pays for weapons, training, and troop salaries. That’s $20 billion less than Thornberry wants. 

$20 billion to them is like $20 dollars to you, so..... it's $en$ele$$ quibbling.

Meanwhile, for contra$t, they need a secret health bill to cut the costs of health care. Yeah, I know its a rotten $y$tem and I know it's rife with fraud, but still.... war machine is even wor$e! No cost overruns-plu$ in health care, unless it's paying the CEOs.

The two committees, along with senior GOP members of the appropriations panel, have been meeting behind closed doors in hopes of breaking the impasse.

And they called it democracy!

Thornberry said he is willing to accept a lower number, but only if he’s assured the Pentagon will no longer be hamstrung by a herky-jerky budgeting process that leaves the armed services unsure of how much they’ll get each year and when the money will arrive.


Thornberry criticized Trump’s maiden Pentagon budget as inadequate, but he refused to blame the president for the shortcomings. The defense budget sent to Congress last month was essentially what former president Barack Obama would have proposed, he said. 


‘‘There wasn’t anybody at DOD to write a Trump budget request,’’ according to Thornberry, yet the Trump administration is almost entirely responsible for the skeleton crew at the Pentagon. There are dozens of top-level jobs that require Senate confirmation before they can be filled, but Trump, in office since late January, has nominated just 20 so far. Six have been confirmed while a dozen or so others await approval, according to figures maintained by the Senate. 

No wonder we are losing and the wars are spinning out of control.

Thornberry’s blueprint recommends an increase of just over 18,000 active-duty troops for the Army, Air Force, and Navy. The Army, with 10,000 new members, would be the largest beneficiary of the boost. The plan envisions a full-time fighting force of 1.3 million. 

Looks like Iran needs to be occupied by some ground forces as is its neighbor to the west, or you are heading to what the Nazis called the Eastern Front, kiddos.

The plan provides a 2.4 percent pay raise for the troops, which is slightly higher than the wage hike the Pentagon had proposed.....

Let's hope they don't call them back like the bonuses for enlisting.



"US stock indexes closed mostly higher Monday, snapping a four-day losing streak for the Dow Jones industrial average on a day of largely listless trading. Investors got some discouraging news on the economy from the Commerce Department, which reported that orders for durable goods, items meant to last at least three years, slid 1.1 percent in May. That was the second straight decline and a bigger drop than analysts were expecting. That made high-dividend stocks favorite buys for many investors seeking income....."

RelatedAmerican Cities and Towns

Where do you think the military is going to get its fodder, 'er, foot soldiers?

Unless you are in the cultured cla$$:

"Huntington Ave. tower and theater plans revealed" by Malcolm Gay Globe Staff  June 26, 2017

The development group that purchased the BU Theatre complex, longtime home of the Huntington Theatre Company, filed plans Monday for a gleaming 32-story apartment building that would transform Huntington Avenue and the theater that bears its name.

The tower, which could house as many as 426 apartment units and provide ample retail space, is being proposed by developers QMG Huntington LLC in a deal that would give full ownership of the 870-seat playhouse to the Huntington Theatre Company.

It's a “win-win for everyone.” 



Is this the last chance to create open space in booming Seaport?

Tall Ships’ visit to Boston deemed a success

I told you they would say that, but the article reads like a flop. Where are the expected 3 million visitors?

"The Coast Guard called off a search for a possible missing person late Monday morning after a fisherman found a lime green kayak floating with no one on board around 4 a.m. The Coast Guard searched 29 square miles by both boat and helicopter and found no trace of a missing kayaker, officials said. No missing person’s report has been filed for a kayaker in the area, Coast Guard officials said. The search was conducted by a 29-foot Coast Guard boat from Scituate, a Coast Guard helicopter, and the harbormasters from Plymouth and Scituate, according to Petty Officer Nicole Groll, a Coast Guard spokeswoman. The kayak was overturned when it was spotted by the fisherman early Monday morning, Groll said....."

"Boston police are investigating the discovery of possible human remains in Roxbury, officials said. Construction workers performing work at 20 Kearsarge Avenue found the possible remains about 1:50 p.m. and notified police. Boston Police spokeswoman Rachel McGuire said the homicide unit is on scene investigating the discovery....."

Also see:

Michael McCarthy found guilty in death of 2-year-old Bella Bond

The verdict was unexpected but just sayeth the Globe.

8-year-old may have bullet lodged in shoulder for the rest of her life

"Three men and a woman were arrested on Sunday morning following a break-in on Pires Street in Wareham, officials said. The home security system alerted the homeowner to the break-in around 6 a.m., authorities said. The home was unoccupied at the time, Wareham police said in a statement. The two officers who reported to the scene heard “crashing noises, then observed three males jump out of a window at the rear of the house and run from the property,” police said. Police identified the three men as Alan Tieu, 23, of Fall River; Keylin Hall, 24, of Brockton, Toan Nguyen, 25, of Dorchester. Police caught one man hiding not far from the home, officials said. The other men ran a quarter of a mile to Narrow’s Crossing Restaurant and Lounge, authorities said. The pair ran inside the restaurant, where patrons were enjoying breakfast, and then ran out the back door when they saw the officers, police said. A police officer and his K-9 partner arrested the two men not far from the restaurant, authorities said. Yolanda Graustuck, 28, of Dorchester was sitting in a parked car, but then ran from the scene when she saw police, officials said. Officers found two guns in the trunk of the vehicle, according to the release. Police found Graustuck disheveled and shoeless walking along Indian Neck Road, authorities said....." 

Off the top I'd say drug addicts looking for something so they could get their fix.

"Police in New Orleans announced Monday they had arrested a 21-year-old man in connection with the assault and robbery of two Massachusetts men over the weekend. On Saturday, four assailants attacked the two men from behind in the 200 block of Bienville Street, shortly before 9 p.m., police said. They knocked the two men to the ground and robbed them, police said. Both victims are from the Boston area, police said. One of the victims was listed in critical condition; the other in stable condition, police said. On Monday night, New Orleans police announced they had apprehended one of the suspects, identified as Dejuan Paul, 21. Paul is charged with second-degree robbery, according to the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office website. “As investigation into the incident progressed, detectives were able to develop Paul as one of the individuals responsible for the robbery,” police said. Michael S. Harrison, superintendent of the New Orleans police, said in a message posted to Twitter that the remaining suspects will be located. “We’ve made our first arrest in this case, not our last,” Harrison said. “We know who you are, we’re bringing you in.”

More efficient than in Missouri:

"Castile family reaches $3 million settlement with Minnesota city" by Mitch Smith New York Times   June 26, 2017

NEW YORK — St. Louis officials said a white police officer shot and injured an off-duty black officer who had been trying to help with an arrest in the city last week. 

The Wild West stuff ricocheting on them?

The St. Louis shooting took place at about 10 p.m. June 21 when officers tried to stop a car that had been reported stolen, Lawrence O’Toole, the interim police chief of the Metropolitan Police Department said.

Three people in the car opened fire at the officers then fled on foot when the vehicle crashed. After an exchange of gunfire with the police, one of the suspects was shot in an ankle.

The off-duty officer, a 38-year-old black man with 11 years of service, was inside his home nearby when he heard the commotion. Taking his police-issued weapon, he went outside to help, the statement said.

So what are they going to do, make the cops leave the gun at the station? 

I'll tell you this: I'm against gun control of the citizenry for the obvious reasons (government resists oppression when the populace is armed. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao are the greatest gun-control advocates in history); however, I am not, I repeat, NOT for disarming the police. 

Otherwise we are England. As Robin Williams (may he RIP) used to say, "In England, you don't have a gun and they don't have a gun. So the cop yells "Stop!" -- or I'll yell "Stop!" again." Must be why they are having so many traffic accidents.

When he approached the scene, two of the officers told him to get on the ground but then recognized him and ordered him to walk toward them. But another officer who had just arrived, a 36-year-old white man with more than eight years of service, did not recognize the black officer.

That officer, “fearing for his safety,” the police statement said, fired a shot. The black officer was hit in the arm; he was treated in hospital and released, the police statement said. 

Imagine if we all did that? I think person A is going to hurt me so I will preemptively attack person A. Where could they have ever gotten such a dumb idea I'll never know, but consider further: I don't a weapon, thus I'm not as secure in myself, whereas the authority figure has a weapon and a distinct advantage. Should feel less threatened.

So did you wing him or.... ???

Neither officer’s name has been released.

In a separate development Monday.....


At least it isn't Illinois.

"Also this month, the family of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager killed by police in 2014, reached a settlement with Ferguson, Mo., reported to be worth $1.5 million. Cleveland agreed last year to pay $6 million to the family of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old fatally shot while playing with a replica gun. Also in 2016, the Village of Pleasantville, N.Y., agreed to a $6 million settlement in the fatal shooting of Danroy Henry Jr., a black college student."

Hu$h money?


"New study of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage says it costs jobs" Associated Press  June 27, 2017

SEATTLE — Seattle’s $15-an-hour minimum wage law has cost the city jobs, according to a study released Monday that contradicted another new study published last week.

A University of Washington team studying the law’s effects found that the law has boosted pay in low-wage jobs since it took effect in 2015, but that it also caused a 9 percent reduction in hours worked, The Seattle Times reported . For an average low-wage Seattle worker, that’s a loss of about $125 per month, the study said.

Somehow they just can't get right the wealth distribution. While the upper-cru$t elite $wim in the $tuff you can't even get a real raise. 

Maybe it is time to junk the economic pooh-bahs running the whole $how and do something different.

‘‘If you’re a low-skilled worker with one of those jobs, $125 a month is a sizable amount of money,’’ said Mark Long, one of the authors. ‘‘It can be the difference between being able to pay your rent and not being able to pay your rent.’’

There would be about 5,000 more low-wage jobs in the city without the law, the study estimated.

It's all about building a $lave cla$$.

Seattle was one of the first US cities to adopt a $15 minimum wage law, and its experience is being closely watched as other cities have followed suit and as advocates push for a higher federal minimum wage.

The city’s law is raising the minimum to $15 for all businesses by 2021.

In the years covered by the study, 2015 and 2016, the minimum wage was at most $13, depending on business size, worker benefits, and tips. The current minimum wage in Seattle ranges from $11 to $15, and unemployment is at a historically low 2.6 percent, thanks in part to the booming tech sector. Seattle has added about 40,000 jobs overall in the last few years.

Last week, a review by University of California Berkeley economists found the law raised pay without hurting jobs in the restaurant industry. An author of that report, Michael Reich, criticized the University of Washington team’s methodology.

The University of Washington effort compared economic data from Seattle with economic data from other parts of Washington state — a statistical model referred to as ‘‘synthetic Seattle’’ — for which economic trend lines were previously similar to Seattle. By comparing the ‘‘synthetic Seattle’’ where no minimum wage increase took effect with Seattle itself, the researchers tried to figure out the minimum wage law’s effect on Seattle’s economy.

But Reich took issue with how University of Washington team compiled its ‘‘synthetic Seattle.’’ It was based on areas that ‘‘do not at all resemble Seattle,’’ Reich warned in a letter to the city Monday .

By contrast, the Berkeley study compared Seattle to a statistical model based on areas around the country — not just within the state — and was thus a ‘‘more representative’’ comparison, he said.

The University of Washington report excludes ‘‘multisite businesses,’’ such as large corporations, restaurants, and retail stores that own their branches directly. Single-site businesses, though — which are counted in the report — could include franchise locations that are owned separately from their corporate headquarters.

Reich said multisite businesses employ a large percentage of Seattle’s low-paid workers. That meant workers who left single-site businesses to work at multisite businesses were counted as job losses, not job gains in the UW study, he said.

Are you $ufficiently confu$ed now?

Jacob Vigdor, a public policy professor and one of the authors of the new report, stood by the team’s findings. He noted that his team’s study actually corroborated Berkeley’s conclusion, finding zero impact from the minimum-wage law on restaurant employment — when taking into account jobs at all wage levels within the restaurant industry.

But for low-wage restaurant workers, the law cost them work hours, the new report said. If the minimum wage law hadn’t been in effect, those workers would have seen an 11 percent increase in their hours, the report said.

‘‘When we perform the exact same analysis as the Berkeley team, we match their results, which is inconsistent with the notion that our methods create bias,’’ he said.


Yeah, but what is your credit score?

"It’s tourist season, and here come the monks" by Brian MacQuarrie Globe Staff  June 26, 2017

In recent weeks, a gaggle of Buddhist monk impersonators has descended on several of the city’s leading tourist spots in hopes of cajoling “donations” from unwitting Bostonians and gullible out-of-towners, much to the chagrin of business owners on the downtown waterfront and nearby historic areas.

The pious-looking panhandlers have bedeviled others in New York, San Francisco, and across the globe from Canada to Australia. Now, for the second straight summer, they are on the streets here, targeting Boston’s rich supply of tourists.

Thanks for the heads-up, even if it contained some unconscious anti-Asian bias(?).

They dress like Buddhist monks, with shaved heads and ankle-length robes for the men. Women are involved, as well, but while they have the trappings, it’s all a trap. The ploy is simple. Approach a visitor, hand out a plastic bracelet or shiny medallion, then ask for a donation of a few dollars, said Joe O’Malley, general manager of Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

If the target balks, the items are usually taken back — sometimes snatched right off the wrist in a burst of angry hectoring.

“That’s what their hook is,” O’Malley said. “They’ll try to shake you down for money.”

When the too-big-too-jail..... ah, never mind!

Authorities in New Zealand have traced the scammers in that country to a Chinese crime syndicate that outfits them with monk’s clothing and helps arrange for immigration visas and overseas accommodations.

Oh, yeah. They and Russia seem to be at the bottom of all our ills.

Last summer, the monks eyed Faneuil Hall’s teeming crowds as a potential pot of gold. But when the mall put up warning signs and alerted their security officers, the monks moved along, O’Malley said.

The crackdown at Faneuil Hall Marketplace has apparently nudged the fake monks to other spots.

On a recent afternoon, one of the monks approached a Globe reporter near the Aquarium to offer a bracelet and a medallion, inscribed with the words “work smoothly” and “lifetime peace.”

In broken English, the gray-robed man said he was from Thailand, bowed, and clasped his hands in prayer. But when the reporter balked at a $2 donation, his smile turned to a scowl, and the reporter was quickly separated from the trinkets.

The scam is building a massive cloud of bad karma for the fake monks, said Sean Gonzalez, director of the Kurukulla Center for Tibetan Buddhist Studies, based in Medford. As a result, he said, the public should feel sorry for them.

Using a religion for personal gain creates heavy negative karma,” Gonzalez said. “Therefore, those engaging in these practices are creating much great suffering for themselves in the future, and that is a reason for us to feel much compassion for them.”

Wow. That causes me to reflect on a lot of things. 

Boston police did not respond to requests for comment, and city officials offered only an obligatory warning.

“The city reminds residents and visitors to be cognizant and use good judgment when solicited for money or donations,” said Samantha Ormsby, a spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

To be sure, trying to clamp down on the monks amid large summertime crowds is a challenge, particularly when more serious concerns take priority.....

Then why is it on the front page?


They are calling them the “Monk Mafia,” and I suppose “even a patient man [like me] has his limits.”

Did you see the agenda for the day?

US mayors back plan for cities to use only renewable energy

The streets are clogged so he's going to hop a train home.