Thursday, March 8, 2018

Thursday Icahns

 Literally a Mountain of Sh*t:

"Icahn denies he knew about Trump’s steel tariff announcement before dumping stocks" by Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Marwa Eltagouri Washington Post  March 08, 2018

WASHINGTON — Billionaire activist-investor Carl Icahn said Wednesday that he knew nothing about President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports before deciding to sell shares in a company that makes cranes for heavy construction.

‘‘We don’t generally comment on rumors, but the recent media speculation regarding our sale of Manitowoc stock calls for a response,’’ Icahn, a former Trump adviser, said in a short statement on his website.

‘‘We state for the record: Any suggestion that we had prior knowledge of the Trump administration’s announcement of new tariffs on steel imports is categorically untrue. We reduced our position in Manitowoc for legitimate investment reasons having nothing to do with that announcement.’’

Trump’s tariff decision March 1 took many by surprise — particularly investors, with the Dow Jones industrial average closing the day’s trading down more than 400 points, or 1.7 percent, at 24,608.

Icahn dumped roughly a million shares tied to the steel industry a week before the president announced 25 percent tariffs for foreign-made steel. A Feb. 22 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission showed Icahn sold off $31.3 million of his stake in the Manitowoc Co., a leading global manufacturer of cranes for heavy construction based in Manitowoc, Wisc., according to the company’s website. Icahn — who has had majority interest in several companies, including Motorola, Xerox, Family Dollar, and Pep Boys — sold his stock for about $32 to $34 a share, according to the SEC disclosure, which was first reported by Think Progress.

Manitowoc’s stock fell after Trump’s announcement last week, closing that day at about $26 a share. It has since rebounded slightly.

It was the first time Icahn had actively traded any Manitowoc stock since January 2015, according to regulatory filings.

A White House spokesperson on Friday dismissed the idea that Trump would feed Icahn information, according to NPR, and said Trump has been talking privately and publicly about imposing tariffs for a long time.

Trump and Icahn’s history is one of friends turned foes turned friends. It began in the early 1980s, when Trump tried to win over Icahn with a helicopter ride. In 1988, when Trump paid $11 million to host a heavyweight title fight between Mike Tyson and Michael Spinks in Atlantic City, Trump took Icahn, known at the time for his series of hostile corporate takeovers, backstage to meet Tyson. During the announcer’s roll call of famous guests, Icahn was called Trump’s ‘‘good friend,’’ according to the New Yorker.

In the early 1990s, Icahn headed the deal that allowed Trump to keep some of his power and ownership of his Taj Mahal casino during its first bout with bankruptcy. Trump’s share of the casino, about 50 percent, was a generous one, but Icahn suggested that investors could still boot Trump out. Many involved in the deal thought Icahn had outmaneuvered Trump, according to The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell.

By 2010, Trump Entertainment Resorts was flooded with debt, and Icahn pushed to take over, saying Trump’s brand had become a ‘‘disadvantage’’ that may no longer have been ‘‘synonymous with business acumen, high quality . . . and enormous success.’’

Tensions appeared to have eased by the time Trump ran for president, as he spoke fondly of Icahn, calling him one of the ‘‘great businessmen of the world.’’ In return, Icahn endorsed Trump, saying the country would be ‘‘lucky’’ to have him in the Oval Office, Harwell reported.

Though Icahn no longer advises Trump in a formal role, the two reportedly still talk. Icahn resigned from his position as a special adviser to Trump on regulatory reform in August, claiming he didn’t want to step on the toes of Neomi Rao, the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, and because he wanted to avoid conflicts of interest over regulations that would affect an oil refinery company he owns, CVR Energy.

Icahn’s resignation came 10 days before the New Yorker published an extensive profile on him, suggesting Icahn used his White House position — and access to government officials — to protect his investments. According to the article:

Icahn’s role was novel. He would be an adviser with a formal title, but he would not receive a salary, and he would not be required to divest himself of any of his holdings, or to make any disclosures about potential conflicts of interest. ‘‘Carl Icahn will be advising the President in his individual capacity,’’ Trump’s transition team asserted.

In the months after the election, the stock price of CVR, Icahn’s refiner, nearly doubled — a surge that is difficult to explain without acknowledging the appointment of the company’s lead shareholder to a White House position. The rally meant a personal benefit for Icahn, at least on paper, of half a billion dollars. There was an expectation in the market — an expectation created, in part, by Icahn’s own remarks — that, with Trump in the White House and Icahn playing consigliere, the rules were about to change, and not just at the EPA. Icahn’s empire ranges across many economic sectors, from energy to pharmaceuticals to auto supplies to mining, and all of them are governed by the types of regulations about which he would now potentially be advising Trump.

Before stepping down, Icahn had been trying to push a policy that would benefit his oil company. But the Environmental Protection Agency planned to reject that policy, which would alter regulations designed to promote ethanol use by requiring refiners to blend mandated levels of ethanol and other renewable fuels into gasoline.


Remember when inside trading used to be illegal?


"Two of Tesla Inc.’s largest shareholders are supporting a plan to award Elon Musk a compensation package valued at $2.6 billion, a show of confidence in the electric-car maker’s bid to keep its visionary CEO around for the long haul. The unprecedented pay package, which could significantly dilute shareholders, would likely have slim chances of getting passed at any other company. But Tesla isn’t a typical company and Musk, 46, isn’t a conventional chief executive officer....."

Never mind all the losses.

"Trump to sign tariff order, but some countries could escape them" by Ana Swanson New York Times   March 07, 2018

WASHINGTON — President Trump is expected to formally sign off on stiff and sweeping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports Thursday, capitalizing on the pending departure of his top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, who was the plan’s primary opponent.

That is not why he is leaving though -- or so I've been told.

Also see: Larger staff exodus feared in West Wing

But as advisers readied for an announcement, the White House appeared to open the door to making the policy less Draconian, saying Wednesday that close allies could be exempted.

“There are potential carve-outs for Mexico and Canada, based on national security and possibly other countries as well,’’ said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.

Trump initially said the tariffs would be same for all countries, but he and other administration officials have also said there will be exceptions for nations that meet certain tests.

The president plans to sign his order at noon Thursday, according to people familiar with the deliberations, but the measures may not go into effect immediately.

I'm tired of the illusionary imagery.

Under the statute that gives Trump authority to impose the measure, he has up to 15 days to take action. That period could give countries or companies a chance to submit input and try to sway the administration’s plan, the sources said.

The White House said the plan calls for tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports, but it has flexible language that would allow Trump to approve exemptions for certain countries.

‘‘He’s already indicated a degree of flexibility, I think a very sensible, very balanced degree of flexibility,’’ Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC. ‘‘We’re not trying to blow up the world.’’

The US trade deficit — the gap between what America sells and what it buys abroad — rose in January to the highest level since October 2008.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the deficit rose to $56.6 billion in January, up 5 percent from $53.9 billion in December and the highest since October 2008’s $60.2 billion trade gap.

The trade deficit has risen for five straight months.

The S&P 500 index ended the day little changed after falling as much as 1 percent during a session Wednesday. Investors spooked by the departure of Cohn appeared to take comfort from administration comments that the tariff policy has not been finalized.

While congressional Republicans and business groups have been warning against the effects of protectionist trade actions, some Trump advisers have urged the president to follow through with the protectionist pledges he made during his campaign.

Those advisers include Peter Navarro, a trade skeptic who had been sidelined by Cohn. He has been promised a promotion and made the rounds on Sunday talk shows to promote Trump’s trade policy.

They are polar opposites and need a moderator.

Others backing the policy are Ross, who oversaw an investigation that led to tariffs, and Robert Lighthizer, the US trade representative and a trusted adviser to the president.

Trump signaled that other trade actions might be in the works.

Business leaders continued to sound the alarm about the potential economic fallout from tariffs, with Tom Donohue, the head of the US Chamber of Commerce, raising the specter of a global trade war. That outcome, he said, would endanger the economic momentum from the GOP tax cuts and Trump’s rollback of regulations.

The president has said the tariffs are needed to reinforce lagging American steel and aluminum industries and protect national security. He has tried to use the tariffs as leverage in ongoing talks to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement, suggesting Canada and Mexico might be exempted from tariffs if they offer more favorable terms under NAFTA.

Lawmakers opposed to the tariffs, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, have suggested more narrowly focused approaches to target Chinese imports. But members of Congress have few means at their disposal to counter the president.....



"“What does it mean for trade?’’ That question continued to guide Wall Street Wednesday, leading stocks to a mixed finish after President Trump’s top economic adviser resigned after opposing the administration’s planned tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. Stocks fell in the morning as investors reacted to the departure of Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive who was seen as a proponent of free trade. The losses deepened after Trump suggested on Twitter that the United States may impose penalties on China as part of intellectual property disputes. The Dow Jones industrial average fell as much as 349 points. The market bounced back late in the afternoon after the White House said some countries, including Canada and Mexico, might be exempt from the tariffs. That suggested a lighter touch that won’t affect the global economy and corporate profits as much as a broader tariff would, and wouldn’t result in as much retaliation from other countries....."

"A senior US Treasury official said he wants to see a multiyear effort to narrow the federal budget deficit, as he warned the nation’s mounting debt is “troubling.” “I am troubled by the deficit and troubled by the national debt, and I think we need a three-year program to deal with it,” David Malpass, the Treasury’s undersecretary for international affairs, said Wednesday during an interview with Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business Network. “It’s a very challenging environment.” Malpass said President Trump’s administration doesn’t anticipate another government shutdown next month when the current short-term spending measure expires. He said there are government programs that “simply aren’t needed” and cited a “challenging” budget process on Capitol Hill. He was speaking ahead of the release of the 700-page Economic Report of the President, which he said will lay out White House priorities for the coming year on growing the US economy. He declined to “get ahead of the president” by laying out its specifics. “What we will see, I think, is spending that sprawls too widely,” he said."

OMFG, he tells us after the tax cuts and spending bills have passed!

"The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that whistleblower protections passed by Congress after the 2008 financial crisis apply only to people who report problems to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, not more broadly. The justices said that a part of the Dodd-Frank Act that protects whistleblowers from being fired, demoted, or harassed applies only to people who report legal violations to the SEC. They said employees who report problems to their company’s management but not the commission don’t qualify. People who report issues to their company’s management, to another federal agency, or to Congress are still protected against retaliation but under an older law, the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act. But the two laws differ in a number of ways, including how long people have to bring a lawsuit and how much money they can get in compensation. A person who wins a lawsuit under the Dodd-Frank Act’s whistleblower protection provision can get more money than someone who wins under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act’s provision. The justices were unanimous in agreeing that the whistleblower protection in the Dodd-Frank Act covers only people who report to the SEC. The SEC had interpreted the whistleblower protection in the Dodd-Frank Act more broadly, an interpretation the Supreme Court rejected. The court’s ruling comes at a time when the Trump administration has already laid out changes it wants to make to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which the administration believes went too far and has hurt economic growth. President Trump has repeatedly attacked the law as a ‘‘disaster’’ and has promised to do ‘‘a big number’’ on it. The Trump administration had nonetheless argued that the law did provide broad protection. Businesses had opposed that reading of the law."

What is forgotten is that the transparent president Obama prosecuted more whistleblowers than all the other presidents combined.

"American business confidence in the world economy has surged, adding to an uptick in overall optimism as US tax cuts and looser regulation improve the outlook for domestic growth, according to a new study. Some 69 percent of leaders from mid-size companies across the United States said they were optimistic about the global economy this year, more than double the 30 percent in 2017, according to the JPMorgan Chase & Co. survey released Wednesday. The latest results marked the highest share of confidence in the eight-year history of the report, which indicated small businesses are similarly upbeat. Some 76 percent of leaders from mid-size firms, up from 71 percent, said they plan to raise compensation, and 64 percent indicated they will take on more full-time help. Companies say they’re more concerned about a shortage of skilled workers as baby boomers retire. That will keep the skills gap wide as businesses compete for more experienced employees."

Fucking s**t excuses for the lack of jobs and totally contradictory with top talking point regarding debt. 

Of course, that was before the tariff announcement.

Also see:

Trade battles could lessen the need for the Fed to raise rates, official says

Warren cites Democrats backing effort to roll back banking rules

Treasury won’t ditch post-crisis plan for big bank failures

Republicans are not just attached to Trump — they’re his customers, too

Head of VA New England retires under pressure

But Shulkin is still there.


And today's top story

Police records on Winchester suspect detail odd, threatening behavior

I'm not looking back, sorry.


Fla. school shooting suspect indicted on 17 counts of murder

Stephen Colbert applauds Florida student activists

Georgia teacher fires gun in classroom; no one hurt

"A 17-year-old girl was killed and two other people were wounded Wednesday in a possibly accidental shooting at a Birmingham high school, police said....."

Another mind f***

At least we are not Norway.

Newly found documents show that recent storms were historically strong

RelatedWednesday Whiteout

Also see:

Brunt of snowfall in Boston happened overnight

Children’s Winter Festival wasn’t at all wintry


Crews used boats to help residents amid Midwest flooding
Flood shelters open as Midwest’s rivers keep rising
More flooding expected this weekend in Midwest

Where's the KKK when you need them?

Democrats, women candidates score big in Texas primaries For all the talk of renewed Democratic energy heading into 2018, Texas Republicans also set a new benchmark for turnout in a midterm election.

(Blog editor just shakes head at the blatant, one-sided agenda-pushing)


"For charter schools, recently it’s been bad news galore" by James Vaznis Globe Staff  March 08, 2018

For charter schools across the state, the news has been relentlessly bad in recent months: A Western Massachusetts principal fired after a drug arrest. A Dorchester school placed on probation amid allegations of financial mismanagement. Multiple unionization efforts. A record-breaking campaign finance penalty. Black students in Malden punished simply for wearing braided-hair extensions.

The steady stream of unflattering news, which seems to portray a movement in a tailspin, comes as charter schools are trying to recover from a crushing defeat in November 2016, when state voters overwhelmingly rejected a ballot question to accelerate charter expansion.

Paul Reville, a former state education secretary, expressed optimism that charters would rebound and noted that traditional schools also deal periodically with controversies. Charter schools, he said, need to focus on what they do best: improving student performance.

“It’s not a question of whether charters should abandon the field and go home,” he said.

Still, the atmosphere has become so charged that any proposal tied to charter schools appears to be almost radioactive.....


Meanwhile, the kids are  walking out of class to go to a basketball game just as the teachers have returned!

Also see:

After ‘infamous’ party, Framingham creates task force to tackle Airbnb rentals

Kids are not Worthy of being by themselves.

Mass. students borrowing more to attend public universities

State board OK’s new sports leadership program at UMass Boston

Harvard, MIT join in to repeal endowment tax

"IRS agent indicted on charges of rape and strangulation of summer intern" by Shelley Murphy Globe Staff  March 07, 2018

An Internal Revenue Service agent, who was allowed to remain on the job for months despite allegations of sexually assaulting a summer intern, was charged Wednesday with raping and choking the woman in his government-issued car.

James R. Clarke, an agent in the IRS’s criminal investigations office in Boston, allegedly handcuffed and assaulted the 21-year-old college student at gunpoint in July, according to the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.

Indictments charge Clarke with aggravated rape, rape, strangulation, indecent assault and battery, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. He was not arrested but was ordered to appear in Suffolk Superior Court for arraignment on April 5.

Clarke has continued to work for the federal agency since the woman called 911 and accused him of placing a gun in her mouth and assaulting her, according to a person with knowledge of his work status.

The IRS declined to comment Wednesday on whether Clarke has been placed on leave since the indictments.

Despite allegations by an intern, a special agent in the Internal Revenue Service’s criminal investigation office in Boston has not been charged with any crimes.

The Globe first reported on the alleged assault in November, noting that Clarke had not been arrested and was allowed to continue working at the IRS despite the ongoing investigation.

See911 call: IRS agent put a gun in her mouth and sexually assaulted her

At least she didn't need an abortion.

The young woman, who was not identified in documents, worked for the IRS as an unpaid intern and investigative analyst, assisting agents working on criminal investigations.

Clarke, who turns 44 on Thursday, allegedly invited her for drinks after work on July 26. They met at the Kinsale, an Irish pub at Center Plaza, across the street from the IRS offices in the John F. Kennedy Federal Building, several people familiar with the investigation told the Globe in November.

The age difference bothers me. Why is the government staffed with perverts?

The indictments allege that Clarke offered the woman a ride to the train station, then handcuffed her while parked in his IRS-owned car in the Government Center Garage in Boston. He allegedly assaulted her with his government-issued handgun and “subjected her to sexual acts against her will,” according to the DA’s office.

The agent drove her to South Station and allegedly assaulted her again inside the car, according to authorities.

“She called police immediately afterward and was treated at a hospital,” according to District Attorney Daniel Conley’s office.

Attorney Michael Doolin, who represents Clarke, said the agent “adamantly denies these allegations.’’

“He’s cooperated with the investigation from the moment he was notified of it, and he looks forward to taking this case to court and being vindicated,” Doolin said.

Clarke, a lawyer who is married with three children, investigated financial crimes, including money laundering, identity theft, and tax evasion. He was assigned last summer to a Drug Enforcement Administration task force. The DEA dropped him from the task force in November after inquiries from the Globe.....

I'm told the decision not to arrest was not uncommon and “not unusual.”  I'm sure that makes the victim feel safe and secure.


Also see:

Mass. House to present report on sexual harassment

At the bottom of page B4 to boot!

They made a proposal and the Globe accepted!

WBUR gets record $5 million donation for its cultural events center

It won't change anything.

Universal Launches Plans for Third 'Jurassic World' Film

Seen one, basically seen 'em all.

Wendy Williams taking three weeks off for health

Rumors are drug abuse, and what's up with ABC?

Milan Fashion Week opens with #metoo moment of reflection

What's up with the Washington ComPost anyway?

Jennifer Lawrence tells critics of her Versace dress: ‘Get a grip people’

"Oprah Winfrey, who spurred a comeback at Weight Watchers International Inc. when she bought a stake in the company in 2015, is cashing in on the turnaround. Winfrey made $110 million this month by selling 2 million shares of the company, most of which came from exercising options, according to a regulatory filing. She also donated 361,000 shares to her charitable foundation, which sold them for $22.6 million. The billionaire media mogul unloaded the shares to diversify her investment portfolio and make the donation, according to a statement from the company Tuesday....." 

And she is supposed to be the American Everywoman that will be president.

Do you want the good news or bad news regarding the Motley Crue?

Tavis Smiley, fired from talk show amid sex harassment allegations, sues PBS

He's claiming racism and will finally have his day in court.

The story behind Natalie Portman’s ‘all-male nominees’ burn at the Golden Globes

Capitol Police officer files lawsuit alleging sex and disability discrimination

She suffered from anxiety and depression.

Police: Officer shot, killed intervening in domestic dispute

‘‘He stood his ground,’’ like Zimmerman.

Marshfield man arrested for threatening to kill police officers

Time to come out of the closet.

"An Arizona State University physics professor known for his work with the Doomsday Clock has been suspended from his job after sexual misconduct allegations. Lawrence Krauss issued a statement disputing the accusations initially reported by Buzzfeed last month. He accused the publication of distorting facts and the alleged offenses date back a decade and reportedly occurred both on and off campus....."

Allegations of employee mistreatment roil renowned Brookline trauma center

Accuser stands by claim against Boston Symphony Orchestra

Women and Massachusetts: A short history

And an embarrassing one at that!

Happy Birthday, ‘Fearless Girl’

UK police investigating Weinstein allegations by 10 women

Trump seems to have insulated himself from MeToo movement

And with that, the Fyre is Out.


"Sessions blasts California for ‘sanctuary’ policies, says he will move to stop them" by Matt Zapotosky Washington Post  March 08, 2018

WASHINGTON — Speaking before a crowd of law enforcement officials in a state he had just accused of violating the Constitution, Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday excoriated California and some of its state and local leaders for actions that he said obstruct immigration enforcement and put officers in danger.

In an unusually strident speech that emphasized the supremacy of the federal government by referencing Abraham Lincoln and secession, Sessions took particular aim at Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, a Democrat, for warning constituents last month about an impending raid by Immigration and Customs Enforcement — alleging her comments prevented authorities from making 800 arrests. And he said he planned to use the full might of the federal government to bring her state in line.

That's a switch from 150 years ago.

RelatedImmigration chief: 800 avoided arrest due to mayor’s warning

Also seeBoston police rebuffing ICE detainer requests

I wouldn't bank on legal pot if I were you.

‘‘California, absolutely, appears to me, is using every power it has — powers it doesn’t have — to frustrate federal law enforcement,’’ Sessions said. ‘‘So you can be sure I’m going to use every power I have to stop them.’’

The comments at the California Peace Officers Association’s annual gathering in Sacramento come a day after Sessions’ Justice Department sued the state of California, alleging that three recently passed laws that benefit undocumented immigrants are unconstitutional.

The suit, which seeks to block the laws, is an escalation of the attorney general’s crackdown on sanctuary jurisdictions, and it drew swift criticism from state leaders, who insisted their laws would pass legal muster.

Demonstrators blocked traffic on a busy street but were peaceful Wednesday as they protested Sessions’ decision to sue the state, the Associated Press reported.

Sacramento police say nobody was arrested in connection with the protests outside the Sawyer Hotel, where Sessions addressed the law enforcement officials.

Several Democratic elected officials joined demonstrators and spoke to the crowd with a bullhorn. Protesters with louder speakers angled for a more aggressive confrontation with Sessions.

Those the hotel audience clapped loudly when Sessions finished his speech.

In fiery remarks after Sessions’ speech, Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat said, ‘‘The Trump administration is full of liars,’’ and called on Sessions to apologize for ‘‘bringing the mendacity of Washington to California.’’

He called the Justice Department’s lawsuit a ‘‘political stunt,’’ and noted the irony of Sessions, who is from Alabama, talking about secession.

Brown suggested that the attorney general might be trying to get back into the good graces of President Trump, who has publicly voiced displeasure about him.....

He could have just approved the Trump in-laws application.



Under Trump, Border Patrol steps up searches far from the border An estimated 200 million Americans live within 100 miles of the border, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. At least 11 states — mostly in the Northeast — are either entirely or almost entirely in the 100-mile radius. Officials conceded that some of the searches — particularly those aboard Greyhound buses or Amtrak trains on domestic routes — had increased since the Obama administration.

This was a concern raised by truth bloggers years ago. Back then, the pre$$ wasn't interested and hurled insults at those suggesting some untoward motivations of authority and we were told it wasn't permanent

"Pope Francis has cleared the way for Archbishop Oscar Romero to be made a saint, declaring that the cleric murdered by El Salvador’s right-wing death squads for standing up for the poor and oppressed should be a model for today’s church....."

Easy for him to say. 

Trump again lashes out at Jeff Sessions, over alleged surveillance abuses Legal analysts say the president seems to be subverting the long-held principle that the Justice Department should be independent — especially when it comes to criminal investigations.

After the last eight years under Obama, they are joking. Right?


"Former Russian spy poisoned by nerve agent, British police say" by Richard Pérez-Peña New York Times  March 07, 2018

LONDON — A former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned by a nerve agent in Britain this week, British police said Wednesday, heightening suspicions that the episode was an assassination attempt ordered by Russia.

The development forces the British government to confront the possibility that once again, an attack on British soil was carried out by the government of President Vladimir Putin, which Western intelligence officials say has, with alarming frequency, ordered the killing of people who have crossed it.

Unlike say, the CIA. 

Looks like the NYT has already solved the case, huh?

Prime Minister Theresa May and her Cabinet ministers held an emergency security meeting Wednesday.

Mark Rowley, Britain’s chief police official for counterterrorism and international security, refused to say what chemical was used, or even whether investigators had identified it. Forensic investigators were still examining the scene Wednesday.

Some of the emergency workers who went to the scene of the mall in Salisbury, a quiet cathedral town, also became ill, and one police officer has been hospitalized in serious condition, Rowley said.

Time and again, foes of Putin have died suddenly in Britain, under suspicious circumstances. In the most notorious case, Alexander V. Litvinenko, a former Russian agent who was harshly critical of Putin, was fatally poisoned in 2006 with a rare radioactive metal, and an inquiry later concluded that he was assassinated by Russian operatives, probably with Putin’s approval.

The British government has been accused of being less than eager to get to the bottom of those deaths, or to hold anyone responsible, but political and security analysts say this time is likely to be different.

Yeah, war with Russia is nigh.

Given the government’s sensitivity to that criticism, and the worldwide attention on the Skripal case, a thorough investigation is probably unavoidable, they say, and if Russian involvement is found, an aggressive response may be inevitable, too.

What are they suggesting, that the government would cover it up?

The resources and expertise involved in producing and using a nerve agent suggest the involvement of a military or intelligence agency, as in two highly publicized episodes last year: Syrian government forces used sarin gas, a nerve agent, against a rebel-held village; and the North Korean government is believed to have been behind the assassination of the half brother of the country’s leader using another nerve agent, VX.

OMG, they are using those false flags to accuse Russia of this!

“We can’t say for sure right now, but the more sophisticated and the rarer the poison, the more likely it is to come from the Russian state or elements within it,” said Ben Judah, a biographer of Putin who has also researched the lives of Russian expatriates in Britain.

But the evidence of state sponsorship is not conclusive, security and political analysts said. In 1995, a religious cult killed 12 people in the Tokyo subway by releasing sarin, made by some of its adherents.

Experts also cautioned that even when evidence points to Moscow, it is hard to determine whether the attacks were ordered by Russian oligarchs or organized crime bosses whose interests are aligned with the Putin government’s, elements within Russian intelligence acting on their own, or the Kremlin itself.

“Certainly, a nerve agent is not something an ordinary person can get their hands on,” said Vladimir Ashurkov, a Russian dissident living in Britain who is allied with the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

“But whether it’s sanctioned by the state,” he said, is still unproved. “It may have been a decision from Mr. Skripal’s colleagues who he betrayed rather than from the highest circles of Russian power.”

In 2006, a Russian court convicted former spy, Sergei V. Skripal, 66, a former colonel in Russia’s military intelligence, of selling secrets to the British. In 2010, he was released from prison and sent to Britain as part of an exchange of imprisoned spies.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the attack.....


RelatedMueller files new charges in Manafort case

None of them even remotely related to Russian interference in the 2016 election in a massive rebuke of Mueller.

Also seeMother Russia crashes the Oscars 

OMG, they just jumped the shark!! That must be why they got the lowest ratings ever!

The trolls are unleashed. What are social media companies doing about it? Surely the geniuses at Facebook can apply a few simple tests: Are the claims in the article attributed? Can they be verified? What is their source? Are the sources named, and are they themselves independent and reliable?

OMG! That is amazing! She is criticizing the exact behavior of her workplace and I'm burned out on the slop.

As Twitter moves to purge fake accounts, conservatives say they are being targeted

No surprise there.

"Turkey asks US to stop Kurds from shifting fighters to western Syria" by Anne Barnard New York Times   March 07, 2018

BEIRUT — The Turkish government took the extraordinary step Wednesday of asking the United States to stop Kurdish commanders from diverting their forces from areas of eastern Syria to the fight in Afrin in the west.

The request followed an announcement from the Kurdish forces, which are allied with the United States in the fight against the Islamic State, that they intended to send 1,700 fighters from the strategically important eastern province of Deir El-Zour to the fight against Turkey in Afrin, a Kurdish enclave.

Ibrahim Kalin, a spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, said his country had taken “the necessary steps” through official channels and “expected from the United States that it should absolutely step in” to prevent the movement of the Kurdish forces from Manbij to Afrin. “This is our most natural right,” Kalin added.

It was not clear why Kalin had referred to Manbij, a city at the westernmost point of the Syrian territory held by the Kurds, though it might have been cited as a way station for the troops as they moved toward Afrin.

There was no immediate US response to the request by the Turks, a US ally and NATO member that invaded Afrin in January and threatened to drive the Kurds from the entire Syria-Turkey border. But the Turkish assault has since bogged down.

The fighting in Afrin is creating problems for the United States. The transfer of personnel from the Kurdish-led, US-backed militia known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF, is a blow to Washington’s effort to stamp out the last vestiges of the Islamic State.

This is such crap. It is Washington and their terrorist proxies that are continuing the fighting.

On the diplomatic front, the Americans have insisted that while they are allied with the SDF in eastern Syria, they have no affiliation with the group in the northwest and will not aid any of its operations there.

But with its Kurdish coalition allies now streaming to join the defenders in Afrin, that posture will be increasingly difficult to maintain. As a result, in Afrin, the Trump administration is finding itself awkwardly on the opposite side from Turkey.

Egypt now an enemy, too.

For six weeks, Turkey has mounted a campaign to wrest control of Afrin from the YPG, an offensive that has displaced some 10,000 people and killed several hundred civilians and 41 Turkish soldiers. Erdogan said this week that 159 Syrians belonging to the Free Syrian Army, which is fighting alongside Turkish armed forces, had also died.

Syrian civilians.

The YPG has responded with cross-border shelling, leading to civilian deaths in Turkey.

Adding to the complications, the YPG, which has carved out a zone of de facto autonomy from the Syrian government within Afrin and in a larger swath of northeastern Syria, last week allowed some pro-government militias to enter its territory to help the fight against Turkey.

The militias did not include formal army troops, but they flew the Syrian government flag. State television in Syria said the militias were aiding in the defense of the country’s borders but made no reference to Kurdish aspirations.

Turkey’s incursion came soon after the United States said that it would continue to support the SDF even after the fight against the Islamic State ends and that it would help the group form a border force to protect the long frontier its territory shares with Turkey.

Now, the movement of troops away from Deir El-Zour threatens two US objectives there: preventing a resurgence of the Islamic State; and curbing the growing influence of Iran, which sponsors militias that fight for the Syrian government.

In another crisis point in Syria, negotiations Tuesday between the government and Jaish al-Islam, the rebel group that controls the northern and eastern parts of the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta, went nowhere.

Despite mass civilian casualties and major territorial losses, the armed groups in the enclave refused to withdraw, according to anti-government activists.


RelatedBombing blitz of Damascus suburbs overwhelms hospitals

Palestinian kids nowhere to be seen, U.S. bombs pffft! Yemen? 

"Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin suggested Russia would not ‘‘endlessly tolerate’’ the situation in the area known as eastern Ghouta. Russia ordered a five-hour daily humanitarian pause to allow civilians to exit the region; that started Tuesday. But no humanitarian aid has gone in, and no civilians have left. Residents said they do not trust the truce, and United Nations and aid agencies criticized the unilateral arrangement, saying it gave no guarantees of safety. On Wednesday, the European Union demanded Russia, Iran, and Turkey take responsibility for ensuring the fighting stops and that a real 30-day halt be respected....."

Now you know why Russia has been resurgent in my war pre$$.

Also seeSomeone Forged a Nomination of Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize. Twice.

Just ignore the expanding a campaign of airstrikes in Afghanistan like the pre$$.

Bahrain activist gets 5-year sentence for ‘insulting’ tweets

The repression has presented Washington with one of the most awkward conflicts between its professions of support for human rights and its military commitments in the Persian Gulf. 

Proving human rights is a fig leaf used to wage wars.

"Netanyahu warns Israel may face early elections" Associated Press  March 08, 2018

JERUSALEM — Israel may face early elections due to a coalition crisis, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned during a visit to the United States on Wednesday, as he lashed out against police for drafting state witnesses against him in a corruption case at home.

Speaking at the Economic Club in Washington, Netanyahu said he wants his government to complete its term in November 2019. He later took to Facebook to lash out at the ‘‘state witness industry.’’

So I get a report from the Economic Club while the Globe was silent on the AIPAC conference.

‘‘They take people whom they claim committed some crime, they place them under detention, terrify them, tell them: ‘Your life is over, your family’s lives are over, we will take everything from you including your freedom. You want to get out of this? There is one way only, smear Netanyahu. It’s not important if you tell delusional lies as long as you smear Netanyahu,’ ’’ he said..... 

In other words, they behave just like the federal government.



"The UN Human Rights Council is due to vote this month on whether to monitor Iran’s conduct in repressing political dissent. Council members voiced outrage recently when Iran’s minister of justice, Seyyed Alireza Avaei, appeared at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva at the start of its main session this year. Avaei was a prosecutor during Iran’s Islamic revolution and oversaw the arbitrary execution of thousands of opponents....."

Also seeSupreme Court sides with Chicago museum in terror case 

The judgment was against Iran for a Jerusalem suicide bombing. 

US Holocaust museum revokes award to Suu Kyi

Who cares?

"A prominent Jewish-American foundation based in Boston removed a video from YouTube that had sparked outrage in Poland and beyond on Wednesday with its provocative use of the historically inaccurate term ‘‘Polish Holocaust’’ to protest a controversial new Polish law criminalizing some comments about the Holocaust. The private Ruderman Family Foundation also launched a campaign calling for the United States to sever its ties with Poland, an ally in NATO where the US has recently deployed troops. The foundation put out the video on Wednesday in reaction to the new Polish law, which criminalizes falsely attributing the Holocaust crimes of Nazi Germany to Poland. The measure has angered Israel, where it is seen as an attempt to whitewash the actions of Poles who killed Jews during World War II. The provocative use of the term ‘‘Polish Holocaust’’ in the video was seen as hugely offensive to many in Poland. Many of Nazi Germany’s death camps, like Auschwitz, were located in German-occupied Poland. Poles had no role in operating them but accounted for the largest number of victims, after Jews. Multiple attempts by The Associated Press to reach the foundation by phone were unsuccessful. But Jonathan Ornstein, director of the Jewish Community Center in Krakow, told the AP that he explained to the president Jay Ruderman how troubling the video was and was assured that the video would be removed. Later in the evening the video was taken down (AP)."

Besides, we need the Poles in the war against Russia.

Also seeEthiopian Jews threaten mass hunger strike over Israel move

Never mind the Khazar racism. 

Tillerson aims to show US cares despite Trump’s Africa slur

He can ask about the political turmoiladoptions and protests while he is there. too.

50 girls missing from Nigerian town after Boko Haram attack

There must be some sort of false flag and hoax rolodex out there somewhere.

S. Korean president says talks won’t ease pressure on North

That broke the calm.

In Taiwan, Young Protesters and Ex-Presidents Chafe Against China And Chiang Kai-shek, the generalissimo who fled to Taiwan after losing China’s civil war to the Communists

US lawmakers say it’s time to restore staff at Cuba embassy

Ireland tells state-run schools to stop steering pupils to religion class

EU rejects UK trade demands, says Brexit means losing out


Is Amazon’s Boston expansion a sign of something bigger to come? 

It never ends.

Phone call from Galvin adds heat to a primary race

City names remaining members to Community Preservation Committee

Hundreds of sunfish found dead in pond

This phenomenon is common?

Cyber threats are ‘coming at us from all sides,’ FBI director says

Finally infected an ATM:

"A Wichita bank is trying to get money back from a woman accused of making more than 50 withdrawals from an ATM that was spitting out $100 bills in place of $5 bills. The Central National Bank sued Christina Ochoa to get her to return about $11,600 plus interest, the Wichita Eagle reported. The bank alleged Ochoa quickly realized the ATM wasn’t working properly and with her daughter made repeated withdrawals late at night. The Ochoas have denied any wrongdoing. Christy Ochoa said her daughter made that many transactions to craft a “money cake” of $5 bills for an acquaintance who just had a baby. The bank kept the money that was in Christina Ochoa’s checking account and now wants to confiscate two cars the Ochoas bought during the time. Christy Ochoa alleged the vehicles were paid for with student loan proceeds and settlement money from a car wreck."

You need to steal more to get away with it.

FDA panel favors approval of new hepatitis B vaccine

Took a long time to get it.

Health care providers brace for confusion as new Mass. Medicaid rules are rolled out

Time to move to Connecticut.

Ousted Vineyard hospital chief lands job in Alaska, but legal fight with Partners isn’t over

I'm not going to get hyped up about nothing but talk, sorry.

Time to get out of here:

"Needham-based travel website TripAdvisor is partnering with Boston startup Toast to help its fledgling TripAdvisor Ads business. Under an agreement announced Wednesday, restaurants that have Toast’s technology platform — which integrates online payments, loyalty programs, and point-of-sale services — also will be able to purchase advertising on TripAdvisor. The partnership will allow restaurants that use Toast to drive customer traffic directly to their TripAdvisor listing via TripAdvisor Ads, which promotes sponsored content on search results pages. The deal also gives TripAdvisor another way to generate revenue. In addition, registered business owners on TripAdvisor who aren’t yet Toast customers can receive a $500 credit for TripAdvisor Ads, or six free months of the company’s TripAdvisor Premium service. “Partnering with Toast will allow us to bring their customers new products to help them better showcase their business to prospective diners,” said Evan Becker, TripAdvisor’s head of restaurant commerce, in a press release."

Don't forget to leave a tip.

Weren't they cited for sexual harassment or something?

Maybe they should change their name.

Rubius collects $100 million in latest round of fund-raising

Big whoop.

GE continues its slide

Housing market starts 2018 like it ended last year: with higher prices, fewer homes for sale

"Google’s voice-activated assistant is branching out to Nest’s deluxe security camera in an expansion that may amplify the privacy concerns surrounding Internet-connected microphones. The virtual assistant is being offered to owners of the Nest Cam IQ in a free update rolling out Wednesday. Google’s assistant already can be used to control Nest’s cameras and Internet-connected thermostat through its Internet-connected speaker, Home, and smartphones running on its Android software. This will be the first time that people will be able to interact with the digital concierge through a security camera. The assistant is supposed to be activated only with keywords such as ‘‘OK, Google,’’ although there have been instances when the Home speaker has been caught listening when it was supposed to be turned off. Even if Google’s assistant doesn’t eavesdrop, its presence on an indoor security camera is likely to focus more attention on the handling and protection of the data collected through internet-connected devices." 

Criminal hackers would know no one home, right?