Sunday, March 18, 2018

Not Making a Dent in the Narrative

"Retirement frees congressional Republicans to give some straight talk" by Paul Kane Washington Post  March 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — Republicans preparing to retire from Congress have found the freedom to speak their minds, both about President Trump and their congressional leaders.

How sad a statement is that, huh? 

I mean, what are we even talking about?

Many are placing the blame for what is wrong with the country on the president and GOP leaders, while most of their colleagues keep mum or offer outright support.

Within hours of last week’s release of a GOP report on Russian election meddling, Representative Thomas Rooney, Republican of Florida, broke with the party line to suggest that Trump was helped by Russia. He also criticized the partisan rancor of the congressional inquiry, saying, ‘‘We have gone off the rails.’’

After the Republicans’ humiliating performance in a special election in Pennsylvania, Representative Charlie Dent, a Pennsylvania Republican, said his GOP colleagues were foolish to blame the party’s candidate instead of the ‘‘very toxic environment’’ stemming from Trump’s tenure.

They keep going in and out with this phony baloney.

And Senator Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican, bemoaned ‘‘my party’s seeming amnesia’’ in a speech that condemned the way so many Republicans have embraced Trump’s bellicose style and America First agenda.

Rooney, Dent, and Flake all decided to retire at the end of this year.

Last week, Representative Trey Gowdy, a South Carolina Republican who led the House investigation into the deadly 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, said Russia was trying to undermine Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. That put him at odds with several of his fellow Republicans.

But Democrats get frustrated by the relatively small clutch of Republicans who voice outrage, either with leaders or toward Trump. They fear what the GOP caucuses will look and sound like next year when these internal critics are out of office.

‘‘I just tried to call them like I see them, and I guess I’m doing it a little more now,’’ Dent said in an interview. A leader of the House’s moderate Tuesday Group, Dent has regularly clashed with the most conservative wing.

Now, he’s advising Republicans in swing districts to do to Trump what Democrat Conor Lamb did in Tuesday’s special election — reject one of their own. Lamb distanced himself from House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, because the liberal lawmaker is deeply unpopular in southwest Pennsylvania.

‘‘The president goes off the rails — you need to call him out,’’ Dent said.

In many ways, these lawmakers are a throwback to a different era when there were plenty of conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans. Time, along with geographical and political realignments have left them without much of a political foundation.

They used to name office buildings after lawmakers who worked across the aisle to get a bunch of laws passed. Nowadays, ‘‘the fear of primaries’’ makes it difficult for a Republican to speak out against Trump, Dent said.

Flake found that out the hard way when he published a book last summer that was highly critical of Trump’s presidency — and even more critical of his fellow Republicans for not forcefully denouncing the president’s remarks about immigrants and other intemperate statements.

A few months later, he delivered a floor speech highlighting those same points — as he announced that he would not run for reelection because he couldn’t win unless he bowed to pressure and praised Trump. 

The print copy ended it there.

In Nevada, Republican Senator Dean Heller took the opposite path and is better positioned to win in November.

A longtime supporter of immigrants, Heller denounced Trump from the moment he announced his campaign almost three years ago by attacking some Mexicans as ‘‘rapists.’’ Heller never endorsed Trump, and last spring he announced his opposition to the effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Danny Tarkanian, a perennial conservative candidate, announced his challenge to Heller, and a super PAC run by Trump allies pounded the Nevada airwaves criticizing Heller for abandoning the president on his first major legislative initiative.

Within a few weeks, and after a few modifications to the bill, the incumbent reversed course and voted to repeal the ACA. On Friday, Trump threw his support behind Heller and guided Tarkanian out of the Senate race and into one of the House races in Nevada.

Faced with that political dynamic, Flake chose to retire. Dent was not facing a tough race at home but decided now was the time to get out..... 

Indeed, and I can see why the print copy cut it, what with the mixed messages and total torpedoing of the thesis and premise of the article.


Yeah, don't count them out too quickly:

"The Kochs have a message for Hispanics: Not all Republicans are like Trump" by Annie Linskey Globe Staff  March 16, 2018

ORLANDO — On an evening here last week, Allison Martin, a Florida-based staffer with one of the many organizations controlled by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, two of the wealthiest men on the planet, pitched Hispanic immigrants on the benefits of a $1.5 trillion tax cut President Trump signed into law last year.

She handed out worksheets. She calculated savings on a whiteboard. She even used a translator so her Spanish-speaking audience of 20 people could follow along.

It’s no accident that the Koch apparatus is targeting this audience: Hispanics who have recently arrived in Florida and have every reason to disdain the country’s harsh-on-immigration, paper-towel-tossing president. The Koch groups, in a subtle but shrewd tactical move, are trying to build a bulwark against the Trump-fueled erosion of support among Hispanics in key states like this one.

And they’re trying to prove that their key priority, the massive tax cut, should be popular with immigrant newcomers and the economically struggling. After funding the Tea Party movement that ushered in an era of complete Republican control of the federal government, the Koch groups spent millions of dollars lobbying for this tax cut.

Their privately held company has benefited from it to the tune of more than $1 billion a year, according to one estimate by a left-leaning group.

Now they’re going to extraordinary lengths to sell it, taking steps well beyond the typical TV and digital advertising used by most political groups, and sponsoring a host of town-hall-type meetings in Florida and in five other politically important states to inform people about the benefits of the tax measure.

You know, it wasn't such a concern to the pre$$ when it was Obama and the Democrats doing them to support Obummercare. 

It’s all an effort to stem the potential losses from a demographic that is peeling away from Trump in droves, and in a crucial state that could provide one of the keys to the 2020 election.

The guy is less than 14 months in office and the Globe reporter is already talking about 2020. Never mind the fact that this Koch effort is obviously more about 2018. 

They’re not just selling the tax cut, they’re providing a host of Spanish-language events infused with the free market, limited government philosophy the Kochs hope will appeal to Hispanics — and help them look past the many offensive comments made by the president.

It’s a case, in other words, of the wealthiest GOP benefactors looking for ways to mop up after the GOP president.

‘Trying to stay in the middle’

Over the course of several days on the ground in central Florida, there were some indications that the approach was making inroads. While there was near universal skepticism about Trump, many of the people interviewed were willing to consider voting Republican — at least someday.

Carlos Hernandez, a 51-year-old who brought his family to Orlando from Venezuela about eight months ago, was there for the tax-cut town hall, but he’s enjoyed many of the free events offered, from a resume-writing class to English courses. “You build a network,” he said, adding that he and his family appreciate the friends they’ve made at the Koch-backed seminars.

How is Venezuela holding up against the U.S. sanctions and covert coup efforts designed to make them scream anyway?

The tax courses focus on savings the new law offers. But the curriculum steers clear of the concerns other pro-Hispanic organizations have identified. UnidosUS, which is one of the oldest Hispanic advocacy groups in the country, has called the tax cut a “historically bad” piece of legislation that will drive up the cost of health care and trigger cuts to programs like food assistance that Hispanics use.

But for the Koch-funded Libre groups, the tax town halls serve multiple purposes. They help make good on a promise by the Koch groups to sell the tax plan to the public. And they’re a fresh installment of Hispanic-friendly programming that Koch-aligned groups are producing to woo the rapidly growing voting demographic.

Kochs can play identity politics, too!

The Koch groups also hold seminars for Hispanics on how to write resumes, with the aim of helping them get jobs. They offer English-language classes as part of a “Welcome to Florida” program geared specifically to Puerto Ricans who are descending on Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria — and, of course, arrive as US citizens with voting rights. They hosted a recent town hall on immigration issues to explain the efforts that the Kochs have made to support changes that would make it easier for people to immigrate to the United States. 

They bring up Puerto Rico which, again, I don't know what kind of situation the island is in because that's the first time I've seen Puerto Rico in print in some time. Down the old memory hole as it were.

Maybe some of those Koch billions could go towards getting the power back on?

This is an area where the Kochs and Trump hold different views. And Libre has funded digital ads pushing Congress to protect so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought here as children. Trump initially said he’d protect them but threatened to veto legislation that would have delivered that promise. The Koch networks have also been critical of Trump’s call to end chain migration — where family members join those already settled here — saying they don’t support what they call “arbitrary” caps for legal immigrants.

The tax town halls are new — and will also be held in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, North Carolina, and New Mexico.

Meanwhile, in Boston.....

“We’re here to talk about tax reform,” said Martin, who led Monday night’s tax town hall. “How do you feel about taxes?”

Tax calculation

She passed out a worksheet showing the old and new tax brackets, and then led the class through a detailed discussion of tax deductions and credits, and how they’ve changed under the new law. Then she had the class calculate how much a person making $35,000 a year would pay in taxes under the old law, and then again under the new law.

Her conclusion: $1,050 in savings thanks to tax reform, a figure that’s similar to other nonpartisan analyses. “If you’re noticing an increase in your paycheck, this is why,” she said. “That is one thing the tax reform did.”

Making people do math seems like a tortured way of selling the plan, but the audience reacted with delight. Omar Santiago, 26, said he was skeptical of the tax cut because he’d heard it largely benefited the wealthy.

I wonder where he heard that, and what an odd choice of words considering the recent nomination of Haspel (another memory hole item, banished to the black sites one might say).

“We are definitely getting more money in our pockets,” Santiago gushed afterward. “That is one thing that stood out. Because who doesn’t want more money in their pockets?” 

Well, actually, you are not supposed to lump it in with other addictions but, you know.....

The Libre Institute is careful to stay away from partisan politics, as its work is being done via a tax-exempt branch of the network. But the locations the group has picked tell a different story. Libre’s hosting tax workshops in five politically important states that have had close elections. There’s no Libre effort in Puerto Rico. There’s also none in California or New York, two states with a large numbers of Hispanics.

Obama's IRS would be investigating.

Libre also does not register people to vote, but it is invested in keeping track of the people who come to events, ostensibly to build a deeper relationship with them. The staff makes sure to collect personal information from everyone in the room, passing around an iPad where attendees enter their names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses.

Oh, yeah?!!?

The small-government philosophy sets the group apart from the Hispanic outreach in Florida that is done by groups that are more aligned with liberal organizations. That includes UnidosUS, which has 15 affiliated groups in Florida that reached at least 100,000 in the last year. They work with local groups that help connect Hispanics with affordable housing, education programs, and health care.

The Kochs are swimming upstream in this effort to woo swing-state Hispanics and are contending with a Republican Party and a president that have shown little interest in this group. Trump has labeled Mexicans “rapists,” he insulted a Venezuelan beauty queen by calling her “Miss Housekeeping,” and he tweeted a photo of a taco bowl on Cinco de Mayo, a day when Mexican history is honored.

GOP fears paying the price

Republicans are growing increasingly worried that they’ll pay a political price among Hispanics. Trump won Florida by about 120,000 votes in 2016, powered largely by running up massive margins in the suburbs and among white voters. But after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in August, tens of thousands left the island and came to Florida; one estimate pegs the number as high as 300,000.

Puerto Ricans are a particularly important group of Hispanics because, as American citizens, they can vote in US elections. So the Koch effort, at the very least, offers the possibility of a welcoming haven amid a Republican coalition that is largely walking in step with Trump.

The guy is supposed to be so unpopular politically and yet everyone is afraid of his influence.

“The Kochs are doing it part out of ideological conviction and part out of political necessity,” said David Jolly, a Republican former member of Congress from Florida. “We know in Florida what a 1- or 2-point swing among any demographic can do.”

Jolly said he’s “very concerned” that Trump is alienating Hispanics from the party for years to come.

And he should be concerned. There was little affection for Trump among the attendees at a variety of Koch-backed events last week.

“He wants to separate families,” said Mayia Belloli, a 38-year-old from Colombia who attended a Koch-sponsored English class on a recent Monday night. She scrunched up her nose in disgust with the president but was clear that her view doesn’t necessarily extend to all Republicans. “They hold more family values,” Belloli said.

Well, if you just wait a while and pray.... 

This effort is being eyed with some measure of concern among Democrats in the state.

“It makes our math harder,” said Steve Schale, a Democratic strategist who spearheaded former president Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns in Florida. “The way you win Florida, it’s all about managing the margins.”

How torturous!

Trump’s victory in 2016 probably showed the ceiling of white support for a Republican, he said, so as the state becomes more diverse, the GOP is going to have to find other groups willing to support their candidates.

“If they can chip our 70-30 advantage [with Hispanics], it just means we have to find votes elsewhere,” Schale said. “The Koch brothers have the ability to play the long game.”

They have given up on whites?

Playing the long game is exactly what the Kochs, with their tangle of nonprofits, super PACs, and politically oriented nonprofits, are attempting to do. Libre’s most popular programs are its free English-language classes, which the group offers several times per week.

About 100 people showed up to an English class last Monday evening, including about 40 new students. It was too many people to fit into Libre’s modest offices, so the group used space owned by the Casa Roca Orlando church. The Libre staff added a temporary banner to each classroom emblazoned with the slogan “Freedom drives progress.”

“Many of you from Puerto Rico understand the big debt that government can pile up,” Juan Martinez, the Orlando field director at Libre, told the group in Spanish. “In Venezuela, you’ve had a similar situation.”

Anyone hear a dog barking?

He went on to explain that here, at the Libre classes, students would learn how they can avoid making those kinds of mistakes in their personal lives.....

It's okay if government does it for a big old tax cut, though.


I wonder what the Globe agreed not to tell us?

"Consultants for Trump exploited Facebook data of millions" by Matthew Rosenberg New York Times  March 17, 2018

LONDON — As the upstart voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica prepared to wade into the 2014 US midterm elections, it had a problem.

More influencing of elections?

The firm had secured a $15 million investment from Robert Mercer, the wealthy Republican donor, and wooed his political adviser, Stephen K. Bannon, with the promise of tools that could identify the personalities of US voters and influence their behavior. But it did not have the data to make its new products work.

It's okay when Democrats use the same tools. The pre$$ applauds it even.

So the London-based firm harvested private information from the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission, according to former Cambridge Analytica employees, associates, and documents, making it one of the largest data leaks in the social network’s history.

The breach allowed the company to exploit the private social media activity of a huge swath of the US electorate, developing techniques that underpinned its work on President Trump’s campaign in 2016.

An examination by The New York Times and The Observer of London reveals how Cambridge Analytica’s drive to bring to market a potentially powerful new weapon put the firm — and wealthy conservative investors seeking to reshape politics — under scrutiny from investigators and lawmakers on both sides of the Atlantic.

After reading the front-page piece about the Kochs, one wonders what is all the excitement?

Christopher Wylie, who helped found Cambridge and worked there until late 2014, said of its leaders: “Rules don’t matter for them. For them, this is a war, and it’s all fair.”

“They want to fight a culture war in America,” he added. “Cambridge Analytica was supposed to be the arsenal of weapons to fight that culture war.”

Details of Cambridge’s acquisition and use of Facebook data have surfaced in several accounts since the business began working on the 2016 campaign, setting off a furious debate about the merits of the firm’s so-called psychographic modeling techniques.

But the full scale of the data leak involving Americans has not been previously disclosed — and Facebook, until now, has not acknowledged it.

Interviews with a half-dozen former employees and contractors, and a review of the firm’s e-mails and documents, have revealed that Cambridge not only relied on the private Facebook data but still possesses most or all of the trove.

Cambridge paid to acquire the personal information through an outside researcher who, Facebook says, claimed to be collecting it for academic purposes.

During a week of inquiries from the Times, Facebook downplayed the scope of the leak and questioned whether any of the data still remained out of its control. But on Friday, the company posted a statement expressing alarm and promising to take action.

“This was a scam — and a fraud,” Paul Grewal, a vice president and deputy general counsel at the social network, said in a statement to the Times earlier on Friday.

He added that the company was suspending Cambridge Analytica, Wylie, and the researcher, Aleksandr Kogan, a Russian-American academic, from Facebook. “We will take whatever steps are required to see that the data in question is deleted once and for all — and take action against all offending parties,” Grewal said.

I knew it, I knew it!

Alexander Nix, the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica, and other officials had repeatedly denied obtaining or using Facebook data, most recently during a parliamentary hearing last month.

But in a statement to the Times, the company acknowledged that it had acquired the data, though it blamed Kogan for violating Facebook’s rules and said it had deleted the information as soon as it learned of the problem two years ago.

I hope they aren't behaving like the Mass DOR, and speaking of this $tink $tate:

Saturday afternoon, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced that her office would investigate the matter. “#BREAKING: Massachusetts residents deserve answers immediately from Facebook and Cambridge Analytica,” Healey tweeted. “We are launching an investigation.”


The attorney general’s office confirmed that it was opening a civil investigation and had been in touch with Facebook already.

Quit grandstanding and start investigating this state's corruption so the feds don't have to, please.

In Britain, Cambridge Analytica is facing intertwined investigations by Parliament and government regulators into allegations that it performed illegal work on the Brexit campaign. The country has strict privacy laws, and its information commissioner said on Saturday that she was looking into whether the Facebook data was “illegally acquired and used.”

In the United States, Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah, a board member, Bannon, and Nix received warnings from their lawyer that it was illegal to employ foreigners in political campaigns, according to company documents and former employees.

Congressional investigators have questioned Nix about the company’s role in the Trump campaign. And the Justice Department’s special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has demanded the e-mails of Cambridge Analytica employees who worked for the Trump team as part of his investigation into Russian interference in the election.

While the substance of Mueller’s interest is a closely guarded secret, documents viewed by the Times indicate that the firm’s British affiliate claims to have worked in Russia and Ukraine.

Until his office leaks them to the pre$$.


Would you believe what that guy says?

And now they want your pictures!!

"Trump lawyer calls for immediate end to Russia inquiry" by Carol D. Leonnig Washington Post  March 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — A lawyer for President Trump called on the Justice Department to immediately shut down the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, in the wake of the firing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe.

Attorney John Dowd said the investigation, now led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was fatally flawed early on and ‘‘corrupted’’ by political bias. He called on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees that inquiry, to shut it down.

‘‘I pray that Acting Attorney General Rosenstein will follow the brilliant and courageous example of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and bring an end to alleged Russia collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt dossier,’’ Dowd said in an e-mail.

Yeah, pre$$ dropped the dossier like a hot potato. Why? Because it shows actual collusion to influence the election -- with the Clinton campaign  using Russian sources to dredge up the cup of urine that the Obama administration then used as the basis to get a FISA warrant and spy on the Trump campaign and transition team. That's why the pee-stained dossier has been flushed down the memory hole. Don't go near that stink! Close the door!

Dowd told The Washington Post on Saturday that he was speaking for himself and not on Trump’s behalf.

Isn't he the guy that investigated Pete Rose's gambling?

Then his integrity is beyond question!

In a Saturday afternoon tweet, Trump reiterated his claim that there was ‘‘no collusion’’ between his campaign and Russians, and bemoaned what he described as ‘‘leaking, lying and corruption’’ in federal law enforcement agencies. But he stopped short of echoing Dowd’s call for an end to the Mueller inquiry.

Trump tweeted: ‘‘As the House Intelligence Committee has concluded, there was no collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. As many are now finding out, however, there was tremendous leaking, lying, and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice, and State. #DrainTheSwamp.’’

And like a lamb being led to slaughter.....

Sessions late Friday night fired McCabe, a little more than 24 hours before McCabe was set to retire — a move that McCabe alleged was an attempt to ‘‘slander’’ him and undermine the ongoing special counsel investigation into the Trump campaign.


"With our political world in chaos, who could have imagined this malevolent, thoughtless man would accidentally become an unlikely bulwark protecting Mueller, the Russia investigation, and the sanctity of our democracy....." 

Yeah, who da thunk it?

McCabe said the firing was an effort to undermine his credibility as a potential witness in the Mueller investigation.

McCabe kept personal memos describing interactions with the president that are similar to the notes compiled by Comey, the dismissed FBI chief, the Associated Press reported. It was not immediately clear whether any of McCabe’s memos have been turned over to Mueller.

Although the precise contents are unknown, the memos could help substantiate McCabe’s assertion that he was unfairly maligned by the White House. They probably contain, as Comey’s memos did, details about encounters between the Trump administration and FBI.

Like I'm going to believe his accounting or forgeries regarding the events?

Sessions announced his decision to fire McCabe just before 10 p.m., noting that both the Justice Department inspector general and the FBI office that handles discipline had found ‘‘that Mr. McCabe had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions.’’

He lied under oath, huh?

An inspector general raised questions about McCabe’s discussions with reporters about a case related to Hillary Clinton. McCabe came under scrutiny over an October 2016 news report that revealed differing approaches within the FBI and Justice Department over how aggressively the Clinton Foundation should be investigated.

Were they tapped and was anyone threatened with jail for refusing to divulge their sources like when Holder was AG?

If Dowd’s statement reflected Trump’s legal strategy, it would represent a significant shift in the president’s approach to the Mueller investigation.

I'm tired of seeing the words if, probably, but, etc, in my "news reports," sorry.

Trump’s lawyers and spokesmen have long pledged that he and his White House staff would cooperate fully with Mueller’s inquiry. The White House has responded to requests for documents, while senior officials have sat for hours of interviews with the special counsel’s investigators.

Asked Thursday whether the special counsel’s subpoena of documents from the Trump Organization regarding its dealings with Russia crossed a red line in the view of the president, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said it did not.

‘‘As we’ve maintained all along, and as the president has said numerous times, there was no collusion between the campaign and Russia,’’ Sanders told reporters. She added, ‘‘We’re going to continue to fully cooperate out of respect for the special counsel.’’

If they do not, expect to hear screams of obstruction of justice.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, said Saturday that there will be ‘‘severe consequences’’ for both Democrats and Republicans if Trump and his legal team take steps to interfere with or end Mueller’s inquriy.

‘‘Mr. Dowd’s comments are yet another indication that the first instinct of the president and his legal team is not to cooperate with special counsel Mueller, but to undermine him at every turn,’’ Schumer said.

I wish he'd stuck to his instincts, but..... that's where the print copy ended. They have fully cooperated and Schumer claims they are still undermining. Chuuuuuck, hellooooooo!

Trump tweeted early Saturday morning, ‘‘Andrew McCabe fired, a great day for the hardworking men and women of the FBI — a great day for democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!’’

The decision to fire McCabe drew immediate criticism from an array of Trump critics.

“When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history,’’ former CIA director John Brennan said of Trump in a Twitter message. 

He's actually speaking about his former boss.

McCabe became entangled in presidential politics in 2016 when it was revealed that his wife, during her unsuccessful run for state Senate in Virginia, received campaign contributions from the political action committee of then-governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat and a longtime Clinton friend.

The FBI has said McCabe received the necessary ethics approval about his wife’s candidacy and was not supervising the Clinton investigation at the time..... 

Pre$$ doesn't make much of that -- if they even let you see it!


Also seeThe First Lady’s current hobbies

No, not Hillary Clinton's.

You know what AmeriKan politics remind me of?

"Russian voters pressured to give Putin a big win in presidential election" by Nataliya Vasilyeva and Angela Charlton Associated Press  March 17, 2018

YEKATERINBURG, Russia — Vladimir Putin’s victory in Russia’s presidential election Sunday isn’t in doubt. The only real question is whether voters will turn out in big enough numbers to hand him a convincing mandate for his fourth term — and many Russian workers are facing intense pressure to do so.

One day he will take his rightful place as a admired statesman in the annals of history. 

Yevgeny Roizman, the mayor of Russia’s fourth-largest city Yekaterinburg, said in a recent video blog that local officials and state employees have all received orders ‘‘from higher up’’ to make sure that the presidential vote turnout is over 60 percent.

‘‘They are using everything: schools, kindergartens, hospitals — the battle for the turnout is unprecedented,’’ said Roizman, one of the rare opposition politicians to hold a significant elected office.

A doctor at one of the city’s hospitals told how one kind of pressure works.

The doctor, who gave her name only as Yekaterina because of fears about repercussions, said she and her co-workers were told to fill out forms detailing not only where they would cast their ballots, but giving the names and details of two ‘‘allies’’ whom they promise to persuade to go vote.

‘‘It’s not something you can argue about,’’ she said. ‘‘People were indignant at first, said ‘They’re violating our rights’ . . . but what can you do?’’ 

I know how you feel.

Yekaterina said she isn’t sure what she’ll do with her ballot, musing that ‘‘maybe I’ll just write ‘Putin is a moron.’ ’’ But she understands that not showing up at the polling place Sunday will not only endanger her job but will reflect badly on her boss, whom she likes.

The Russian doctor said she wouldn’t go to vote if she wasn’t forced to.

‘‘What’s the point? We already know the outcome. This is just a circus show,’’ she said.

The eight presidential candidates were barred from campaigning Saturday, but the message to voters was clear from billboards celebrating Russian greatness — a big theme of Putin’s leadership — and Kremlin-friendly media coverage.

Putin urged Russians on Friday to ‘‘use their right to choose the future for the great Russia that we all love.’’ He warned that failure to cast a ballot would mean that ‘‘this decisive choice will be made without your opinion taken into account.’’

They holler that at us every four years, too.

While Putin has seven challengers on the ballot, none is a real threat. The last time he faced voters in 2012, he faced a serious opposition movement, but since then he has boosted his popularity thanks to Russian actions in Ukraine and Syria.

It stands at something like 80%, which makes AmeriKan politicos envious!

More than 1,500 international observers are joining thousands of Russian observers to watch the vote. The government wants to ensure that this election is clean after ballot stuffing and fraud marred the last presidential election in 2012.

This time the outcome is so certain that authorities are investing in massive get-out-the-vote efforts to ensure a decent turnout that would embolden Putin domestically and internationally.


A Russian election monitoring group said Saturday that it has registered an ‘‘alarming’’ rise in complaints that employers are forcing or pressuring workers to vote.

Grigory Melkonyants, cochairman of the independent Golos center, said Saturday that the group has recorded smaller complaints, including gimmicks like discounted potatoes for people who vote, or schools holding special performances on Election Day to lure parents to an onsite voting station. 

Isn't that interference in the vote?

He said his own group has come under increasing pressure as the election approached, and warned that independent observers may be targeted by some kind of ‘‘attack’’ on voting day. He didn’t elaborate.


As US authorities investigate alleged Russian interference in President Trump’s 2016 election, Moscow has warned of possible meddling in the Russian vote.

Turnout-boosting efforts have been the most visible feature of the campaign — and all come from taxpayers’ pockets. In Moscow alone, authorities are spending $870,000 on balloons and festive decorations at polling stations.

In Moscow, first-time voters will be given free tickets for pop concerts by some of Russia’s most popular artists who have campaigned for Putin. Older voters can get free cancer tests at selected polling stations.

Election observers and media have reported threats and coercion of voters to reregister at their place of work and report later that they have voted.

Ella Pamfilova, chairwoman of the Central Election Commission who was appointed to clean up Russia’s electoral system, vowed to respond to complaints about being coerced to vote.



"Opinion | Stephen Kinzer"Trump is gutting the National Endowment for Democracy, and that’s a good thing" b

Thank you, President Trump! Finally you have made a foreign policy recommendation that is logical, overdue, and in the long-term interest of the United States. Congress will probably reject it, but you deserve credit for making the effort.

Trump’s budget for the coming fiscal year proposes to gut the National Endowment for Democracy by cutting two-thirds of its budget. The endowment is one of the main instruments by which the United States subverts and undermines foreign governments.

President Ronald Reagan established the program in 1983, following years of scandals that tarnished the Central Intelligence Agency. Soon it took over many of the tasks that the CIA used to perform. When the United States wanted to interfere in the Italian election of 1948, for example, the CIA did the job. Decades later, when Washington sought to push its favored candidate into the presidency of Nicaragua, our instrument was the National Endowment for Democracy. More recently, it has sought to influence elections in Mongolia, Albania, Bulgaria, and Slovakia. “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA,” one of the organization’s founders explained during the 1990s.

By its own account, the Endowment is “on the leading edge of democratic struggles everywhere,” donating money to “groups abroad who are working for democratic goals.” Its central principle is that the only proper way to run a country is the American way. Governments that disagree become its targets.

Because its job is to shape the course of other countries, the Endowment has become a darling of Washington’s regime-change crowd. Shortly after ordering invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, President George W. Bush pushed to double its budget. That made sense, because bombing and organizing “peaceful” revolutions are two ways of achieving the same goal: forcing countries to bend to our will. Both reflect our insistence on judging foreign governments, deciding which may survive and which must be attacked.

Leaders of the Endowment include some of our country’s most militant interventionists. One of its board members is Elliott Abrams, who helped direct anti-Sandinista projects in Nicaragua during the 1980s and was later convicted of lying to Congress about the Iran-Contra affair. Another is Victoria Nuland, who as assistant secretary of state in 2016 flew to Ukraine to encourage protesters to overthrow their government.

Many grants are funneled through two sub-groups that reflect the bipartisan Washington consensus favoring intervention in foreign countries. One, the International Republican Institute, is run by a board headed by Senator John McCain, who never saw a war he didn’t like and salivates at the thought of deposing unfriendly regimes. Its counterpart, the National Democratic Institute, is headed by Madeleine Albright, who famously pronounced the principle that the United States should guide the world because “we are the indispensable nation, we stand tall and we see further than other countries.”

She also said the death of half-a-million children was worth it, but because she's a woman.....

Abrams, Nuland, McCain, and Albright exemplify the interventionist mindset that has brought the United States and the world so much pain and grief. The National Endowment for Democracy is one of their cherished projects.

American politicians and news outlets are howling about Russian interference in our last presidential election. Against this background, the National Endowment for Democracy seems more glaringly hypocritical than ever. Promoting democracy is a wonderful idea. We should begin at home. If we want other countries not to meddle in our politics, we should refrain from meddling in theirs.....


As for that possible attack:

"Russia expels 23 British diplomats, escalating dispute over ex-spy’s poisoning" by Andrew E. Kramer New York Times   March 17, 2018

MOSCOW — Russia on Saturday ordered 23 British diplomats to leave the country within a week, and the Russians also ordered the closing of the British Council, a cultural and educational organization, in Russia, and revoked permission for the British consulate general in St. Petersburg.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry cast Russia as the aggrieved party, asserting that Russia was acting “in response to the unfounded accusation against the Russian Federation for what happened in Salisbury.” It added, “The British side is warned that, in the case of further actions of an unfriendly character toward Russia, the Russian side reserves the right to take other answering measures.”

The Kremlin delayed its response for three days until a day before national elections on Sunday, for which President Vladimir Putin has campaigned while casting himself as a defender of Russia against Western aggression.

The case has roiled relations between the two countries, with Britain announcing that in addition to other measures, no ministers or members of the royal family would attend the World Cup hosted by Russia this summer.

No great loss.

Britain’s swift response seems to have played into the hands of Putin in domestic Russian politics.

Putin has cast himself as the protector of a country besieged by outside forces. In interviews last week, he described previously undisclosed decisions he had made in tense moments during his long tenure as commander in chief.....


Wish it could be like Saudi:

"Saudi Arabia cultivates a new resource: entertainment" by Ben Hubbard New York Times   March 17, 2018

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — The recent production of “Antar and Abla” was part of a new, large-scale push by the Saudi government to create — virtually from scratch — a vibrant entertainment sector for its 29 million people.

I hate to say it, but that is also the same thing the Nazis did.

Saudi Arabia has long been known as one of the world’s most conservative places, where bearded religious police enforced strict social codes and women cloaked their bodies and often covered their faces in public. Concerts and theater were largely banned, and even the notion of fun was often frowned upon as un-Islamic.

Now the kingdom is lightening up with comic book festivals, dance performances, concerts, and monster truck rallies.

So the NYT is running PR for the House of Saud now, huh?

New Age music guru Yanni performed there in December, as did US rapper Nelly (for an all-male audience). Egyptian pop star Tamer Hosny is set to perform this month, although his fans will be barred from dancing and swaying.

Cirque du Soleil will make its Saudi debut this year (with less racy outfits than it uses elsewhere). And international companies are signing deals to operate movie theaters across the country.

Where are the calls for boycotts?

These are among the changes Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman intends to showcase when he arrives in the United States this week for a multicity tour aimed at courting US investors.

Mohammed, the brash, 32-year-old heir to the Saudi throne, is seeking to reorient the economy away from oil while making life more enjoyable for Saudis. Officials say entertainment will help on both fronts.

Yeah, diverting the masses away from their problems and sufferings always helps.

The thinking is that Saudis who spend billions of dollars each year on entertainment abroad will instead stay in the kingdom to have fun, creating much-needed jobs.

The push is also useful politically. Since emerging into the public eye three years ago, Mohammed has rocketed to the top of the Saudi power structure, while chipping away at the traditional pillars of society.

One might even say there was a coup in the House of Saud.

He has cut down the religious establishment by stripping the religious police of the power to arrest people and by silencing clerics who oppose his social reforms. He also led a recent purge of princes and prominent businessmen, eliminating potential rivals and angering members of the royal family.

At the same time, Mohammed has courted youth as a new constituency to support his programs.

This is so like that guy with the mustache who has been on the AHC all morning long.

“I love him,” said Ibtihal Shogair, 25, who was eating miniburgers with a friend at a food fair supported by the government’s entertainment arm on the lawn of a luxury Riyadh hotel.

They have sliders in Saudi Arabia?

Only time will tell how much the entertainment push will create jobs, bolster an economy suffering from low oil prices, and offset the new taxes that have hurt family budgets.

As the world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia is hugely dependent on oil. It funds the government jobs that employ the majority of working Saudis. But the drop in oil prices since 2014 has sucked cash from the state’s coffers, meaning there are fewer jobs to offer the hundreds of thousands of youths entering the job market every year.

Mohammed hopes to compensate by bolstering the private sector in areas like health care, mining, and entertainment.

“In opening up the public space, they are allowing more breathing space for young people to gather to interact, both men and women,” said Kristin Diwan, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. “But they are going to have to provide jobs as well.” 

This is getting frightening!

Conservative Saudis who see cultural imports such as jazz, cinema, and ballet as threats to what they consider the country’s unique Islamic identity have mostly stayed quiet. So the government is pressing ahead, betting that those looking for fun outnumber opponents.

The changes have been a boon for companies that struggled under the old system.

Ameera Al-Taweel, chairwoman of Time Entertainment in Saudi Arabia, said it used to take months to get permits for events and required negotiating with the police and government ministries. That left time for only a few events per year.

Now, the entertainment authority grants permits within a few weeks, and the company’s events have doubled each year, she said. It has 28 events planned for 2018, including Cirque du Soleil, Saudi Fashion Week, a jazz festival, and the opera “Antar and Abla.”

Women used their cellphones at Al-Jenadriyah, a cultural festival in Riyadh, last month.
Women used their cellphones at Al-Jenadriyah, a cultural festival in Riyadh, last month (Tasneem Alsultan/New York Times).

A picture is worth a thousands words, isn't it?


So how goes the battle in Yemen?

"Syrian government forces on Saturday captured a major town east of the capital Damascus and parts of another. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said troops took Kafr Batna and large parts of nearby Saqba. The advance squeezed rebels into a small corner of eastern Ghouta. The Russian military said more than 30,000 people fled the besieged region on Saturday alone (AP)."

Meanwhile, next door in Lebanon:

Emily Nasrallah, 86, Lebanese novelist and activist 

Any relation?

"At least 16 people died Saturday when a boat sank off a Greek island while smuggling migrants, and a search was underway to locate others believed missing. The wooden boat was carrying about 21 people when it sank off the coast of the eastern Aegean island of Agathonisi (AP)."

Btw, did you know there were Jews who believed Israel should have never been created?

"Key ally of China’s Xi elected vice president" by Simon Denyer Washington Post  March 17, 2018

BEIJING — China’s rubber-stamp congress elected Wang Qishan, a key ally of President Xi Jinping, as vice president on Saturday, a move that breaks with tradition but will bolster the president’s authority.

That will be changing soon.

As vice president, Wang is expected to play a role in trying to manage China’s increasingly testy relations with the United States.

Wang’s reputation is based on his role in tackling corruption as well as addressing problems stemming from the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s and the 2003 outbreak of SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome). He later ran the economic track of the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue under President Hu Jintao and during the Obama presidency.

Kerry Brown, a professor of China studies at King’s College, London, said Wang was ‘‘very necessary for Xi’s type of politics,’’ where strict loyalty to the president is demanded and enforced.

‘‘He has shown himself to be a very capable politician, and he is still relatively young, so it makes sense for him to stick around,’’ Brown said.

Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said Wang would probably take charge not only of the trade relationship with the United States, but also the broader relationship with Washington.

If Wang does play that role, it would be a very welcome development for many Americans, said Evan Medeiros, who met him several times when serving as senior adviser for Asian affairs in the Obama administration.

That mean no war?

‘‘He is the rare senior Chinese official who has credibility in both Beijing and Washington,’’ said Medeiros, who now leads the Eurasia Group’s coverage of the Asia-Pacific. ‘‘Both American business leaders and policymakers welcome his expertise and frank style of negotiating; he is a trusted interlocutor.’’

But Wang would not be inheriting an easy task. Xi’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, and his top economic adviser, Liu He, made trips to Washington last month in a bid to defuse tensions, but failed to ward off a looming storm over trade.....


I'm told "soldiers goose-stepped up to the podium," but something got lost in the translation; I'm sorry, please say again?

Also see

"Taiwan on Saturday cheered a new US law that encourages expanded contacts between officials from Washington and the self-governing democracy that China claims as its own and has sought to isolate diplomatically. President Trump signed the Taiwan Travel Act on Friday. China said the law violates US commitments not to restore official contacts with Taiwan that were severed when Washington recognized Beijing in 1979 (AP)."

The planes are warming up on the runways:

"The Vatican has removed the suspended Guam archbishop from office and ordered him not to return to the Pacific island after convicting him of some charges in a sex abuse trial. Church officials didn’t say what exactly Archbishop Anthony Apuron had been convicted of, and the sentence was lighter than those given other elderly prelates found guilty of molesting minors. It amounts to an early retirement (AP)."

Well, you're not in Kansas anymore.

"Crack on Florida bridge was discussed in meeting hours before collapse" by Patricia Mazzei New York Times   March 17, 2018

MIAMI — Hours before the collapse of a pedestrian bridge at Florida International University on Thursday, the engineering company for the bridge met with the construction manager and representatives from the university and the Florida Department of Transportation to discuss a crack on the structure, the university said Saturday.

The engineering company, FIGG Bridge Engineers, delivered a technical presentation on the crack, the university said, and “concluded there were no safety concerns and the crack did not compromise the structural integrity of the bridge.”

The meeting was held two days after FIGG’s lead engineer on the project left a voicemail message for the Transportation Department about “some cracking that’s been observed on the north end” of the bridge, according to a statement from the department.

The Transportation Department said the message was not heard until Friday but did not mention that the crack was discussed at the meeting its representative attended Thursday.

Why must governments always disassemble at first?

At no point during their communications, the department said, “did FIGG or any member of the FIU design-build team ever communicate a life-safety issue.”

Whether the cracking contributed to the collapse, which killed at least six people in their cars on the street below the bridge, remains a key question in the investigation.

I think it is safe to say that it didn't help!

On the Florida International University campus, Joseph Smitha was walking around in a daze. His niece, Alexa Duran, was presumed dead in her car, which remained under the debris of the bridge a block away.

Smitha, a 55-year-old auto parts manager, had spent the night in his truck after making the four-hour drive from Palm Harbor, Fla., fitfully mourning Duran, an FIU freshman.

“Her mom is a wreck,” he said. “I’ll never hear her say, ‘Hi, Uncle Joe’ again. I know it’s not going to bring my niece back, but how did this happen?”


Did you know that air bags in some Hyundai and Kia cars failed to inflate in crashes and four people are dead?

Time to stop selling cars?

Remember, don't drink and drive:

"Industry funds US study examining alcohol’s benefits" by Roni Caryn Rabin New York Times  March 17, 2018

NEW YORK — It was going to be a study that could change the American diet, a huge clinical trial that might well deliver all the medical evidence needed to recommend a daily alcoholic drink as part of a healthy lifestyle.

That was how two prominent scientists and a senior federal health official pitched the project during a presentation at the luxurious Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., in 2014. And the audience members who were being asked to help pay for the $100 million study seemed receptive: They were all liquor company executives.

The 10-year government trial is underway, and Anheuser Busch InBev, Heineken, and other alcohol companies are picking up most of the tab, through donations to a private foundation that raises money for the National Institutes of Health. 

I just vomited.

The NIH, a federal agency, is considered one of the world’s foremost medical research centers, investing more than $30 billion of taxpayer money in biomedical research each year. The vast majority of the funding goes to scientists outside the NIH, which manages the grants and provides oversight.

The alcohol study is overseen by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one of 27 centers under the NIH.

Time to quit cold turkey and get into rehab. Let the useless bureaucracy dry up (WhereTF is all the money going anyway?)

The lead investigator and NIH officials have said repeatedly that they never discussed the planning of the study with the industry. But a different picture emerges from e-mails and travel vouchers obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, as well as from interviews with former federal officials.

In other words, THEY LIED!!!

The documents and interviews show that the institute waged a vigorous campaign to court the alcohol industry, paying for scientists to travel to meetings with executives, where they gave talks strongly suggesting that the study’s results would endorse moderate drinking as healthy.

Is that a good use of taxpayer money?

An NIAAA official, now retired, said she followed up after the presentations with appeals for money, telling industry executives the research could not be done without their support.

The meetings in late 2013 and early 2014 included a “working lunch” at the Beer Institute convention in Philadelphia, and two meetings at the Washington headquarters of the Distilled Spirits Council, a liquor industry trade group, as well as the presentation at The Breakers.

During the Obama time, and think of this the next time Liz Warren hollers for dumping more money into the NIH.

Dr. Kenneth J. Mukamal, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and now lead investigator of the study, and Dr. John Krystal, a Yale University neuroscientist, argued that a long-term randomized controlled trial could dispel lingering doubts about the benefits of moderate daily drinking.

“A definitive clinical trial represents a unique opportunity to show that moderate alcohol consumption is safe and lowers risk of common diseases,” said one slide in the scientists’ presentation at The Breakers. “That level of evidence is necessary if alcohol is to be recommended as part of a healthy diet.”

“We have strong reason to suspect so,” said another slide, referring to the large number of studies suggesting that moderate alcohol may be linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

And you wonder why I don't believe a damn word that comes from them?

The fund-raising may have violated NIH policy, which prohibits employees from soliciting or suggesting donations, funds, or other resources intended to support activities. At the least, the campaign is bound to raise more questions about the independence of the investigators and the scientific integrity of the huge trial.

No, I think they have all been answered.

The presentations gave the alcohol industry an opportunity to preview the trial design and vet the investigators. Indeed, the scientist leading the meetings was eventually chosen to head the huge clinical trial.

Sort of like the Dick Cheney committee to search for Bush's VP, huh?

They also made the industry privy to pertinent details, including a list of clinical sites and investigators who were “already on board.”

Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor of community health sciences at Boston University School of Public Health who was shown slides from the scientists’ presentation at The Breakers by the Times, said the study “is not public health research — it’s marketing.”

“This must have seemed like a dream come true for industry. Of course they would pay for it,” he said. “They’re admitting the trial is designed to provide a justification for moderate drinking. That’s not objective science.”

That's the last thing I can remember before passing out.

At a cost of $100 million, the new trial aims to resolve a persistent medical conundrum. Though excessive drinking is harmful and problem drinking is on the rise in the United States, many observational studies have found that moderate drinkers outlive abstainers and have less heart disease.

These studies don’t prove that moderate drinking is the reason these people live longer, however. The new trial, called the Moderate Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health Trial, is intended to answer that question.

Is the $100 million dollar question worth it?

You already know the an$wer.


The whole article collides with the full page Total Liquors ad on page A3 that tells me to get with my squad (with a diverse cast of millennial, I might add).

"A top executive at the investment firm led by billionaire investor Steven A. Cohen has stepped down a month after a female employee sued the firm over accusations that it underpaid female employees and fostered a hostile work environment. Douglas D. Haynes resigned as president of the firm, Point72 Asset Management, on Friday, according to five people briefed on the matter but not authorized to speak publicly. Haynes, a former executive at McKinsey & Co., is named as a defendant in the suit (New York Times)."

I wonder how long they sat on that one.

The culture still needs to change as there is a dark cloud over the gilded, 'er, golden dome (you can tend to it after breakfast).

"Five New York City doctors have been charged with accepting bribes and kickbacks from Insys Therapeutics Inc., an Arizona-based pharmaceutical company, to prescribe large volumes of a highly addictive painkiller. They pleaded not guilty Friday in Manhattan federal court to conspiracy and other charges. Prosecutors said the doctors collected tens of thousands of dollars over a four years for prescribing a fentanyl-based spray (AP)."

So stop calling!

Well, you are not supposed to lump it in with other addictions but, you know.....

New Hampshire program helps treat pregnant substance abuse users

Lawmakers should heed Baker on fentanyl, designer-drug fixes

Man arrested for breaking into elderly woman’s home in Ashby Officers followed footprints in the snow to a vacant house next door, where they found Andrew D. Grace, 30, of Shirley, in the basement.

See what you do when on drugs?

Roslindale man struck by falling tree branch during nor’easter and left paralyzed

Watertown dedicates square to fallen firefighter

"Coyote spotted relaxing on MIT lawn" by Samantha J. Gross Globe Correspondent  March 17, 2018

MIT had an unexpected visitor on campus Friday.

A coyote was spotted at 2 p.m. on the Cambridge campus, basking in the afternoon sun near a science building.

The school’s police officials alerted the Massachusetts Environmental Police, who told them that the coyote looked young, healthy, and was not a threat as long as it was left alone, according to Kimberly Allen, a spokeswoman for MIT. The environmental police told them the coyote would likely leave on its own after dark, she said.

Kind of like a Russian bear.

MIT police officers monitored the animal until midnight to make sure no one touched it. When a officer returned Saturday morning to check on the animal, it was gone.

Cambridge police said they received a call at 7:30 a.m. Friday reporting a coyote running down Memorial Drive, but could not confirm whether it was the same coyote spotted on MIT’s campus.

Marshall Hansberry, who was visiting his girlfriend at her office in the school of science Friday, said it was the first time he had ever seen a coyote on campus.

Hansberry, who tweeted a photo of the animal, said officers from the state agency taped off the area to redirect foot traffic and stood by to monitor the coyote. The coyote did not move, and they left without touching the animal, he said.

“It was super adorable,” said Hansberry, 30. “But people were worried it was unhealthy because it was way too comfortable in a very public spot.”

The Brighton resident added that he recently saw one near his home on Chestnut Hill Avenue.

“It was maybe three or four weeks ago,” he said. “That’s the only other one I ever saw.”

Theresa Cummings, who works in the math department, said she saw the coyote from her office’s window. She has seen coyotes nearby, she said, but never on campus.

“I saw one a month ago on Memorial Drive, closer to the river,” she said. “This one was so close.”

Cummings said she was surprised by how still the animal was and thought it might be hurt.

“It really wasn’t moving, given the amount of people staring at it,” she said. “I thought it was either hurt or just terrified.”

Shannon Larkin, an academic adminstrator in MIT’s humanities department, snapped photos of the coyote from her window.

“It was a very chill coyote,” she said. “It really was incredibly cute. The ears looked soft and not aggressive, it looked well-fed and healthy.”

Larkin said she and her colleagues have seen turkeys, red-tailed foxes, and rabbits on campus, but never a coyote.

“It was just really sweet to see,” she said. “And it was hard not to try and get up close.”



"After a month of rehabilitation and rest, New Hampshire juvenile harp seal Merrimack — Mack for short — is scheduled to be released back into the wild Sunday evening, officials said. Mack is now “fit, fat, and ready to return to the wild,” the Seacoast Science Center Marine Mammal Rescue unit said in a Facebook post....."

Also seeLatin middle schooler wins Boston bee

I'm told she has a healthy vocabulary.

Almost forgot the most important thing, you kids:

"Struggling Brockton schools may sue the state" by James Vaznis Globe Staff  March 17, 2018

BROCKTON — The opening of school here in September almost had the feel of a memorial service.

Teachers from across the city descended on the high school where 80 yellow ribbons had been fastened to seats throughout the auditorium. Superintendent Kathleen Smith, in a grim voice, told everyone to look to the left and to the right: Each ribbon represented a colleague whose position had been cut over the summer in a painstaking effort to plug a $16 million budget gap.

Many teachers, though, needed no symbolic reminders of the departed: Years of painful cuts have left many of them with more students in their classrooms than they ever imagined, in many cases far exceeding acceptable levels in the affluent suburbs. Resources are running thin, too.....



"Brockton has increased security at the city’s six middle schools after a 13-year-old student was jumped by her classmates earlier this week, officials said. Mayor Bill Carpenter ordered police to be present outside of the schools upon dismissal starting Friday, said Brockton City Councilor Winthrop H. Farwell, Jr. The eighth grader was dragged by her hair to the ground and kicked around by a group of her classmates as she was leaving South Middle School Monday, said her mother, Kristen Kenney, who shared a video of the alleged attack on Facebook. The video shows nearby students standing by, screaming, and swearing — and nobody stepping in to help. The school’s administration and school police are investigating the attack, officials said. Brockton Superintendent of Schools Kathleen A. Smith also urged parents to monitor their children’s social media interactions “to ensure that their use is appropriate and responsible,” and asked Brockton families to attend a community safety and security forum on March 27, which will go over challenges presented by social media use....." 

Better check the kid for lice while you are at it.

Also see: Teenager arrested in Mattapan for illegal gun

So what do you want to be when you grow up?