Monday, April 2, 2018

Fooled Again

And I am ashamed.

Taking it from the top:

"Modest state aid increase leaves many school systems strapped" by James Vaznis Globe Staff  April 02, 2018

Governor Charlie Baker’s effort to boost local education aid would offer little relief to most school systems across Massachusetts that are grappling with escalating budget costs, according to a Globe review of the proposal.

Although Baker’s proposal increases aid by more than 2 percent overall, approximately 60 percent of school systems would receive an increase of less than 1 percent in general education aid, the review found. Two school systems under state receivership, Holyoke and Southbridge, would see aid increase by a mere 0.2 percent. Southbridge may have to cut 30 positions in the coming months.

The meager increases for next year reflect a recent trend of relatively flat state aid for many school systems under a funding formula widely criticized by educators for failing to adequately estimate the annual costs of providing a public education and accurately weigh a community’s ability to pay.

That flies in the face of the imagery and illusion surrounding the schools in this state. Have been told we are the best and brightest.

All the while, state data indicate that school spending has been increasing by nearly 4 percent annually.

As a result, the school funding crunch that has the urban districts of Brockton and Worcester considering a lawsuit against the state has also reached into the state’s suburban and rural areas, which are closely monitoring the potential legal showdown.

Many school systems say they find themselves in a constant budget-cutting mode as they attempt to keep spending down. They are increasingly relying on fees from families for buses, athletics, full-day kindergarten, and other programs to help fill in the gaps.

Maybe the teachers should go on strike. That's been promoted alongside the kids protesting the mass casualty events at the schools. 

What is truly uplifting is the families and parents stepping in with a good and giving heart; it's heartbreaking to see them so passive and complacent in the face of what literally amounts to state theft.

In some cases, school and town leaders have made the wrenching decision to ask voters to increase their property taxes beyond the state limit of 2.5 percent, a move that can pit neighbor against neighbor and can create lingering resentment regardless of the outcome of a vote.

Since when has asking for a tax increase been a wrenching decision in this state?

Maybe that is the point of underfunding, to get neighbors at each others throats will the corruption and looting continue.

Kristin Sullivan, a parent in the Dennis-Yarmouth school system, refers to a spate of budget cuts in recent years as “death by a thousand paper cuts.” Her school system would receive less than a 1 percent increase in state aid under the governor’s proposal.

“Public education is getting chipped away,” Sullivan said. “What is public education going to look like in 10 or 20 years if they don’t fix the funding formula? . . . It seems like almost every other year our towns need funding above and beyond the 2.5 percent limit because our state funding is lower than other districts.”

On Tuesday, two communities where tax override votes have failed in recent years will try their luck again.

What is it about the word NO that they do not understand? Acting like a bunch of little Weinstein's!

North Attleborough, near Rhode Island, is seeking to raise $6.5 million in an effort to avoid closing an elementary school and other drastic cuts to the schools and town services, while Reading, north of Boston, is looking for $4.15 million to save a middle-school foreign language program and stave off other cuts in the schools and services. 

“It really comes down to voter turnout,” as the state itself hands out $1b in corporate welfare never year. 

That is the problem with the "journalism" in the Globe. It presents every issue in a vacuum unless pushing the agenda calls for linkage.

Massachusetts Education Secretary James Peyser, who advises Baker on education policy, said “The state is committed to providing a minimum share of resources to all communities.”

Key word: minimum.

Yet even districts receiving big increases in aid are confronting problems. While state aid for Brookline schools is slated to go up 7.5 percent, voters this spring will consider a $6.6 million override, most of it for the school’s operating budget.

Isn't Brookline a wealthy area? 

So the school aid formula basically directs more money to the wealthy -- just as the entire $y$tem of governance in this country!!!

At least the kids are learning something!

The system has been grappling with the twin challenges of rising costs and enrollment, and a ballot-box defeat could result in larger class sizes, fewer services for students who need help with academics or their social-emotional well-being, and other cuts.

What health and pension benefits do the teachers need to give back then?

The varying increases in state aid come as the state has been stepping up its demands on local schools, which in turn requires them to spend more money.

For instance, districts have been buying textbooks, software, and other materials as they bring programs into line with new state standards for teaching English and math. Many districts also have been buying computers and upgrading their operating networks because the state is moving its standardized testing system from paper booklets to cyberspace.

All the while, school systems say they are dealing with a growing population of students experiencing anxiety, depression, and trauma — requiring a new set of services and instructional approaches — and a spate of national school shootings is prompting the need for more police officers in their schools.

The emotion troubles also come with being a sanctuary state for those poor kids, and are you acclimated to the police state yet, kids?

Three years ago in North Attleborough, voters rejected a $4 million override to support its school and town operating budgets — the second time in three years — forcing school officials to close an elementary school and reassign 900 students, among other cuts.

Now this bedroom community of 28,000 is facing the possibility of another school closing and other cuts if a $6.5 million override doesn’t pass Tuesday.

What if the citizens simply have no more money, what then? What if the tax base is screwed up and crumbling? I gue$$ you can get blood from a stone, 'eh?

“There’s only been one year over the last 10 years that we didn’t have to do layoffs,” said Scott Holcomb, North Attleborough superintendent. “Our moral imperative is to open as many doors as possible for children, but any town or city going through what we are with budget cuts . . . runs the risk of closing doors and opportunities.”

On the North Shore, the towns making up the Triton Regional School District will be holding overrides this spring to support the district’s proposed operating budget. Nerissa Wallen, a School Committee member, predicts that if the cutting continues, the district is one or two budget cycles away from experiencing the kind of class sizes becoming common in Brockton, with 30 or more students.....

I got stuck way in the back.


Let's put a head on the above the fold offerings:

"NIH rejected a study of alcohol advertising while pursuing industry funding for other research" by Sharon Begley  STAT  |  April 2, 2018

It’s rare for officials at the National Institutes of Health to summon university scientists from hundreds of miles away. So when Dr. Michael Siegel of Boston University and a colleague got the call to meet with the director of NIH’s Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, he said, “I knew we were in trouble.”

He never imagined, however, that at the 2015 meeting the director, George Koob, would leap out of his seat and scream at the scientists after their PowerPoint presentation on research the agency had eagerly funded on the association between alcohol marketing and underage drinking. “I don’t f***ing care!” Koob yelled, referring to alcohol advertising, according to the scientists.

Koob also made clear that NIAAA would pull back from such research, recalled Siegel and his colleague, David Jernigan of Johns Hopkins University, who described the previously undisclosed meeting in Bethesda, Md., in separate interviews with STAT. Shocked by the encounter, they retreated to an NIH cafeteria, asking each other what had just happened — and why.

It would take them three years to figure it out: In 2014 and 2015, Koob’s agency was quietly wooing the alcoholic beverage industry to contribute tens of millions of dollars for a study on whether drinking “moderate” amounts of alcohol was good for the heart. Those efforts were brought to light by recent reports in Wired and the New York Times.

You want to $ip it.

Now STAT has found that the ties between Koob, his agency, and the alcohol industry were deeper than previously known — and that he told an industry official he would quash “this kind of work,” to which the industry objected. Doing so would be a radical departure from the NIH mission, in which decisions about what research to fund are supposed to be based on scientific merit and public need.

It is important to note that this was under the neglectful rule of Obummer.

At the time of the 2015 meeting, no outsider was aware of NIAAA’s efforts to get industry funding for the very costly study of moderate drinking. With those revelations, Siegel said, “things finally made sense. If they’re soliciting money from industry, they wouldn’t want to do anything that would affect their chance of getting that money. Of course that will bias them toward intimidating researchers who study things [the industry doesn’t] like.”

Like the climate deniers who get government grants!

(Btw, it has been  snowing all morning)

Siegel and Jernigan remained puzzled about the meeting until the recent media revelations that NIAAA and academic scientists had, in 2014, pitched industry on a proposed study described as likely to provide enough evidence of the health benefits of moderate drinking for alcohol “to be recommended as part of a healthy diet.” NIAAA received $67 million for the study from industry, funneled through an NIH foundation, later in 2015.

The saga began in 2011.....


Remember all that the next time Liz Warren is extolling the NIH or some report comes out saying A, B, or C.

And that was just the alcohol industry. Imagine how much influence the pharmaceutical industry has over there.


Want to play some cards? 

"In staffing Springfield casino, MGM leaves little to chance" by Katie Johnston, Globe Staff April 02, 2018

SPRINGFIELD — Long before MGM Resorts International got the green light to build a nearly $1 billion casino and hotel downtown, it analyzed the local labor market to figure out what it would take to fill 3,000 jobs in a state new to gambling.

The socioeconomic snapshot that emerged became a road map for creating a workforce from scratch.

Census data and labor reports revealed a higher-than-average number of single parents and former offenders. So MGM Springfield added federally funded day care to the resort and lobbied to loosen a state law that restricts casinos from hiring people with criminal records. A lack of experienced blackjack and poker dealers in the area led to the creation of a gaming school.

We will get to class later.

Managers also fanned out to senior centers, veterans clubs, vocational high schools, even churches to talk up casino jobs. They pored over layoff data from the state, including from a Springfield hospital and a nearby Sam’s Club that had recently closed, to pursue workers who might be good fits.

In light of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal, where is the concern about PRIVACY?

Now, months before its scheduled opening in late summer, MGM Springfield is embarking on a major hiring spree to staff its hotel, restaurants, bowling alley, movie theater, spa, retail shops, and 125,000 square feet of gambling space, all of which take up three city blocks.

On Monday, the resort is set to announce openings for about 1,000 of its 3,000 jobs, mainly in food and beverage service. Just over 100 employees have been hired so far.

Overall, roughly 80 percent of MGM’s jobs will be full time, with the company helping to provide local training for many of them. Given MGM’s good relationship with organized labor at its other resorts, a fair share will probably have union protections.

Wynn Boston Harbor has been undertaking similar workforce development efforts, including analyzing demographics and partnering with nonprofits and community colleges, as it looks toward opening in Everett next year.

We all know about Wynn, but there is an elephant in the room: “for now we must proceed with the Everett project as planned and be thoughtfully mindful of the thousands of people whose jobs may be affected.”

MGM has committed to filling more than a third of its jobs with Springfield residents and natives. The company would not disclose entry-level wages, other than to say they are competitive and above minimum wage and the average annual salary will be $40,000.

The median household income in Springfield is nearly $36,000; statewide, it’s $71,000.

You would be better of working for Massport.

The company stresses its commitment to moving people up the career ladder, but service workers such as waiters and housekeepers typically don’t have much room to advance, said Tom Juravich, interim director of the Labor Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. That makes for a less reliable form of economic development.

“What I worry about is the large number of people who will be in low-wage jobs that really won’t go anywhere,” Juravich said. “This is not like bringing Amazon to town, or even traditional manufacturing or health care, because those jobs all have a much higher predominance of middle-wage and high-wage positions.”

It's better than no job, right?

Thuy Nguyen, the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, lived in Springfield until her parents lost their manufacturing jobs and moved to Maine. Nguyen, 26, came back to the city for college and turned an unpaid MGM internship into a job as a campaign organizer in 2013, when the resort was trying to woo voters in a city referendum. After stints at MGM resorts in Las Vegas and Maryland, Nguyen returned to Springfield last fall to work in employee relations.


Initially, she said, “My parents thought I was crazy to run back to Springfield, where they know there aren’t any jobs.”

Now, “they’re very proud.”

So far, however, even in a city with a 6.6 percent unemployment rate — well above the state rate of 4 percent — the gaming school is only at half capacity for dealer jobs, which pay around $45,000 a year, mostly from tips, in line with the national average.

What's the hourly wage or salary then because tips are fluid (ask any waitress)?

The school’s director speculates that the novelty of the industry in the area is holding people back. Math anxiety and mandatory background checks could also be roadblocks. And training isn’t cheap — $400 for a six-week roulette class — although everyone who completes two courses gets an audition for an MGM job, and those who are hired get reimbursed.

But the casino company is determined to breathe life into a city that has been ravaged by a decades-long decline in manufacturing and a tornado in 2011.

“We’re looking for a renaissance,” said MGM Springfield president Michael Mathis.

By bringing in money laundering outfits for organized crime because that is what are most casinos.

And here is the other thing to consider as you read this glowing, one-sided piece of promotion: the owners. Adelson, who is buying the US embassy to Israel, and Wynn are Jews, as are most of the casino owners. Trump is not; however, he has been enmeshed in their world to the point of blackmail if needed. Sort of explains a lot of what is happening in our world if you think about it, as well as this piece of promotional puffery.

On a recent day at the Massachusetts Casino Career Training Institute gaming school, on the ninth floor of MGM Springfield’s administrative offices, chips clinked and automatic card shufflers whirred as a few dozen students learned the ins and outs of blackjack. The students, ranging in age from their 20s to their 70s, all dressed in white shirts and black pants, took turns dealing while instructors leaned in to show them how to stack chips and where to put their hands to avoid suspicion.

A dealer drew an ace and a 10 of clubs for himself — blackjack — and raked in the bets from his fellow students.

“When you lose, the house is happy,” said Raymond Caporale, a retired phone company worker with a cane hooked over the table. Caporale, a 71-year-old Springfield native who likes to bet on horses, had always wanted to work in a casino. His daughter, a MassMutual employee, is also interested in a job.

“I have a knee issue,” he said. “But . . . you can just put that aside, take a couple of Tylenol, and we’re all set to go.”

Diane Garvey, who was recently laid off from a sales job, thought her background might help her become a dealer. “I have the gift of gab,” she said.

Just deal, will ya'!?

The gaming school is a collaboration between Holyoke Community College and Springfield Technical Community College, which are part of a statewide consortium that was formed after the state authorized gambling in 2011. MGM, which is providing the instructors and the gaming equipment, is looking to hire 450 table games dealers — for mini baccarat, roulette, craps, blackjack, and carnival games — and 100 poker dealers.

What more is there to say, really, about ejewkhazion in AmeriKa?

Instructor Angel Rivera, 45, a Holyoke native, will be a floor supervisor once the casino opens. After several decades as a dealer in Atlantic City and at Mohegan Sun, he has mastered the fine art of entertaining guests while dealing cards. Rivera had been working in security for Springfield Public Schools, but when MGM announced it was vying for a casino, he jumped at the chance to get back in the game.

“Even when there was nothing here, they had my resume,” he said.

Getting to know the local workforce is key, said Wanda Smith-Gispert, regional vice president of talent and workforce development for MGM. The best loss-prevention specialists, she has found, often have a background at Marshalls, the discount department store. Bank tellers make excellent cage cashiers, the employees who cash in players’ chips.

Why would they not still be working at the bank?

When Smith-Gispert saw the math scores of Springfield students, she met with the state’s education secretary to talk about how to better prepare potential employees. To make up for a shortage of culinary professionals in the region, MGM gave Holyoke Community College $500,000 to expand its cooking school, now named the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute. MGM also asked Cambridge College, which has a branch in Springfield, to teach its hospitality students the art of “luxury guest service” — saying, “It’s my pleasure,” instead of “You’re welcome,” for instance — and to drill students on the top 10 questions tourists ask in Springfield, including where to buy souvenirs and go leaf-peeping.

It's not like they are buying a curriculum or anything like the booze industry buying a study, right?

To open up jobs to even more people, MGM appealed to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission to change a state law that previously barred many former offenders from casino jobs. As a result, 800 of the MGM Springfield spots, including housekeepers, cooks, and front desk clerks, have been exempted from that restriction.

And all of a sudden things started to go missing.

MGM has also partnered with local agencies to secure scholarships for residents who can’t afford training. With help from organizations such as New England Farm Workers’ Council, which assists low-income residents from all walks of life, Yoly Carrasquillo was able to attend security and hospitality classes, and soon, the gaming school. The 25-year-old Holyoke resident, a former home health aide who lives in subsidized housing with her two children, has her sights set on a management role at MGM. For the first time, she can see a career path.

“It’s a great opportunity for us single mothers,” she said, noting the resort’s on-site day care. “On break time we could run across the street and give our kids a few kisses.” 

Oh, now the casinos are also liberators of women, wow!!


I'm glad gambling isn't a problem or addiction or anything.

As for those addicted to money:

"If Democrats seize House, Massachusetts is poised to recapture some former glory" by Liz Goodwin Globe Staff  April 02, 2018

WASHINGTON — The once mighty Massachusetts delegation — locked out of power and languishing in the minority in Congress — may be poised to seize back some of its former glory.

If some political analysts are right and a “blue wave” of fired-up Democratic voters gives the party control of the House in the midterm elections, Representatives Richard Neal and Jim McGovern would likely become chairmen of two of the most powerful committees in Congress next January.

It's a rigged fait accompli.

Fresh-faced delegation members such as Representatives Joe Kennedy III and Seth Moulton often steal the headlines as rising stars, but it’s their more experienced colleagues who have quietly risen through the ranks.

Not old enough yet.

The article goes on to laud the alcoholic Tip O'Neill, deviant Barney Frank, and Ted Kennedy (John Kerry conspicuously absent).

In today’s gridlocked, highly partisan Capitol Hill, holding a chairmanship often is an exercise in frustration. Nonetheless, Neal and McGovern would be key players touching nearly every piece of significant legislation in a Democratic-controlled House.

I understand the feeling.

As Ways and Means chairman, Neal could direct attempts to roll back the Republicans’ tax reform package and any health care changes.

Then I will know whom to blame when it doesn't happen.

On the Rules Committee, McGovern would serve as the gatekeeper for all legislation, deciding which bills move forward to the House floor and which bills quietly die in committee.

Then I will know whom to blame when it doesn't happen.

In the US Senate, Democrats face a more difficult path for 2018, and most analysts say odds are high that it will remain in Republican control.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is expected to easily win a second term, and the NYT provides a totally different take on the Senate later (neither article tells you 25 Democrats are up for reelection against only 7 Republicans).

The potential upgrade of the state’s House delegation has old-timers seeing visions of the glory days once again.


“The Massachusetts delegation will be poised once again to deliver for their home state, just like they used to do in the golden years of Speaker O’Neill, Senator Kennedy, and others,” said Democratic strategist Jim Manley, who used to work for Kennedy.

He also worked for Harry Reid, and this nostalgia for the "golden years" is so delusional. 

It's all in$ide ba$eball down there and in the paper. No wonder the country is neglected and falling apart! All these f***ers are $elf-$erving $cum.

But Neal, who has seen the ups and downs of the delegation since first winning office in 1988, isn’t picking out curtains for the chairman’s plush office.

“I’m certainly confident, but I’m not overconfident,” Neal, 69, said of his chances to become chairman.

After Kennedy’s death in 2009, the Massachusetts delegation across both chambers lost nearly 200 years of seniority in the space of a few years, reaching a low point in 2015 of a paltry combined 93 years in office.

Frank retired in 2012 after 32 years in the House. Markey’s 37 years of House seniority were essentially erased when he became a freshman senator in 2013.

Also, Representative John Olver retired after 2012, leaving Massachusetts without a seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee until Representative Katherine Clark was appointed to one in 2017.

That made for the least experienced delegation since the 1960s — a big liability in an institution that runs on seniority.

“Well, it was a good lesson in humility,” Neal said. “There’s a rhythm to these things. And I think we’re on the right side of that rhythm at the moment.” 

Like being on the "right" side of history?

If he becomes chairman, Neal plans to seek a repeal of the state and local tax deduction cap put in place by Republicans last year. The cap hurts higher-income taxpayers in states and cities with steep local taxes, such as Massachusetts. Neal also wants to lower health care premiums and shore up pension plans.

And when he fails?

The Springfield politician considers himself a bipartisan dealmaker, an attitude that would come in handy if Republicans keep their Senate majority, as legislation must be approved by both chambers.

Time to take a knee.

McGovern declined an interview request through an aide.

That only helps him with this constituent.

While House speaker, O’Neill methodically spread out Massachusetts lawmakers across the best committees, hoping they would climb the ranks over time and deliver for their state. The delegation has tried to keep this tradition alive, even with diminished power to do so.

Massachusetts companies and industries are excited to perhaps soon have a direct line to chairmen pushing for a bigger piece of the funding pie for them and their interests.

Larry Rasky, a longtime lobbyist and CEO of Rasky Partners, said the promotions would make “an enormous difference in Massachusetts’ priorities being funded.”

He is talking about PORK! 

Yeah, despite all the arm-flailing in the pre$$, nothing has changed down there! It is bu$ine$$ as u$ual!! Musical chairs followed by what favored interest and connection gets a bigger slice of the pie!

Massachusetts lawmakers say they’re excited to potentially be power players again.

“There’s absolute certainty that with the seniority we have in the House, it will be a much more effective delegation than it’s been in a while,” said Representative Mike Capuano, who, if Democrats take over, could lead subcommittees of the transportation and finance panels.

Capuano said he would seek a bigger piece of the funding pie for Massachusetts if Democrats gain the majority, especially for transportation projects.

The slow machinations of the House and its levers of power often don’t translate to voters. Capuano is facing a primary challenge from Boston City Council member Ayanna Pressley, but he doesn’t plan to make his seniority an issue in his campaign by pointing out he would have more leverage in the chamber.

Other than that, there is no difference between them.

“Let’s be honest; the average person doesn’t know how the sausage is made,” he said.

OMG, finally an honest politician. How ob$cene. He must be mad.


Be careful driving home:

"Car damaged by a pothole? The city might pay you back" By Laura Crimaldi Globe Staff  April 01, 2018

Not all potholes are created equal — and some, such as a trio of teeth-rattling craters in Charlestown, have cost the city thousands of dollars in payments to drivers whose vehicles were damaged by the gaping cavities.

Just ask Agnes Viel, an Everett resident who struck a water-filled pothole on Rutherford Avenue three years ago as she was driving home. The city paid Viel, 49, $5,015 to repair her Lexus Gx460, the maximum allowed under state law.

“I was lucky. I got something,” said Viel, an accountant who claimed $8,000 in damage. “It’s their responsibility to take care of the road.”

And if they neglect it, the taxpayer will pay!

Viel was one of the three motorists who received the maximum pothole payouts from the city over the past five years, and they all suffered their damage in Charlestown. One of the three was driving a 2005 Lamborghini Murciélago, which carried a base price of $320,000 when it debuted.

A Lexus and Lamborghini, huh? 

The drivers took advantage of a little-publicized state law that requires municipalities to reimburse people for property damage or personal injury caused by problems with their streets. The law says drivers can recoup a percentage of their vehicle’s value up to $5,000.

Why is it little publicized, Globe? 

Who is in charge of publicizing things anyway? 

Isn't that what the MEDIA is FOR? 

So they publicize some things and others not so much, huh? 


So drivers with more expensive cars are eligible for larger payouts.

In some cases, the city also reimburses the $15 filing fee.

Serving the $elect few, as it has always been. Wow!

In Boston, motorists must file a claim within 30 days of sustaining damage. If the incident occurred on a state road, repayment is only possible if someone was injured. The maximum payout on a state road is $4,000, state law says.

From 2013 to last year, the average settlement in Boston was $560.

Twelve claims have been filed so far this year, including six from drivers who say their cars were damaged at the same place in the Back Bay: where Huntington Avenue runs under Massachusetts Avenue, records show.

That spot has cost the city nearly $23,000 in repayments in the last five years. One $4,990 payout went to the owner of a Bentley Continental GTC, who hit a pothole there in 2013. 

I wonder how much it would have cost to fix the pothole and not have it yawn while trapped in the bureaucracy.

“You would think the multiple claims in similar spots would generate notice,” said Samuel Tyler, president of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau, a fiscal watchdog.

Would you? I no longer do when it comes to neglectful, wasteful, $elf-$erving government. Been blogging about the Globe too long.

But Chris Osgood, Boston’s chief of streets, said that while motorists are encouraged to file claims for damage, those reports don’t drive decisions about which roads to repave. The city prioritizes repaving work, he said, based on reports to the 311 complaint system and engineering assessments.

“We do want to make sure people have a good safe experience on our roads,” Osgood said.....


Isn't that his job, to see which areas need repair, not waiting for public to tell him? 

How much is he being paid to be mouthpiece apologist for city neglect?


Maybe next time they will take a bus or the Silver Line.


"Trump vows ‘no more DACA deal’ and threatens NAFTA" by Katie Rogers New York Times  April 01, 2018

PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump unleashed a series of fiery tweets on Sunday, minutes after wishing the nation a happy Easter Sunday. 

New York Times even has to crucify him even on Easter Sunday.

The president, who has spent much of his holiday weekend golfing with supporters and watching television, was apparently reacting to a “Fox and Friends” segment on immigration that had aired minutes before.

They put a positive spin on it when it was Obama.

In his tweets, Trump referred to “caravans” of immigrants heading toward the southern border, a subject that was addressed on the Fox program.

A group of hundreds of Central Americans has been traveling through Mexico toward the United States, where the immigrants hope to seek asylum or sneak across the border. A reporter for BuzzFeed has been traveling with the group as it makes its way north.

Did you see who $tarted Buzzfeed?

(Blog editor just shakes head; they are behind or at the bottom of every single agenda and item in my paper, it seems)

The president’s tweets seemed at odds with some unifying steps taken last week by members of his administration: The homeland security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, met with President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico to discuss ways to work together on security and trade issues, according to a description of the conversation released by the Department of Homeland Security.

But Trump may have been hearing a different voice over the weekend. He was accompanied to his Palm Beach resort, Mar-a-Lago, by Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser who has shaped much of the Trump administration’s hard-line stance on immigration.

At least he wasn't hearing God's.

Trump’s tweets Sunday echoed remarks on “Fox and Friends” by Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, whom the president has praised in the past.

The president attended Easter services at the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, an Episcopal church near his Palm Beach home, joined by his wife, Melania, and his daughter Tiffany.

Sunday’s church visit was Trump’s first public appearance with his wife since CBS’ ‘‘60 Minutes’’ aired an interview the previous Sunday with Stormy Daniels, the adult film star.....

And into the gutter goes the NYT!


As for the rest of the family:

"For Kushners, redemption in the White House was mirage" by Sharon LaFraniere New York Times  April 01, 2018

WASHINGTON — Charles Kushner felt a sense of redemption last year when his son Jared was named senior White House adviser.

A dozen years earlier, a scandal stemming partly from a family falling-out had reduced the senior Kushner from real estate baron to an inmate at a federal prison camp in Alabama.

He was only there for 14 months before being transferred to a halfway house in New Jersey.

Now, with his son newly installed as a top aide to the president, Kushner even expressed hope, one close family friend said, that he might receive a pardon.

You know who prosecuted him? Chris ChristieInteresting considering the way he was treated by Trump, used and then tossed away to New Jersey.

Absolution, however, is not what the White House has conferred on the Kushners. For the patriarch and his family, the pinnacle of American political power has turned out to be a wellspring of trouble.

Jared Kushner is embroiled in the special counsel inquiry, including questions about whether he discussed the family’s business with foreign officials — a suggestion he has denied.

Except I hardly see or read his name regarding Mueller. I can only wonder why.

His younger brother, Josh, has opposed the Trump presidency, driving a wedge between the men in a family that prizes close ties.

The elder Kushner, his company, and his family are assailed by criminal and regulatory inquiries largely rooted in their newfound access to presidential power.

The family’s East Coast-based real estate empire is under a fiscal and ethical cloud, shunned by some investors who fear being dragged into the spotlight trained on the Kushner nexus with President Trump.

Two major Manhattan properties are on creditors’ watch lists, one after foreign investors backed out of a financing deal. 

Who are the investors, and why all the vagueness?

In a recent interview in his 15th-floor office at 666 Fifth Ave. — an aluminum-clad Manhattan skyscraper that has become a symbol of the family’s troubles — Charles Kushner brushed it all aside as false insinuations whipped into a publicity frenzy partly by political opponents.

Are all you ‘Trump Christians’ paying attention (as she further divides them by using identity politics!)?

Slender, silver-haired, and impeccably dressed, Kushner, 63, was by turns charming, blunt, and philosophical, an engaging contrast to Jared Kushner’s more stilted persona.

He made little effort to hide his contempt for the investigations of his business and family, saying that the stacks of records he has voluntarily given investigators rebut any suggestion of impropriety.

“Go knock yourselves out for the next 10 years,” he said. “We didn’t do anything wrong.”

A long list of investigators are testing that claim. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are studying whether one of Kushner’s daughters dangled White House influence before prospective Chinese investors. So is the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Brooklyn federal prosecutors also are investigating the terms on which Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest lender, refinanced a Kushner-owned property in Times Square.

State regulators in New York are examining Kushner loans from that bank and two others, including lines of credit to Jared Kushner. Jared Kushner’s White House meetings with lenders and partners of Kushner Cos. have raised repeated questions about conflicts between his official and personal interests.

Most recently, the head of the federal Office of Government Ethics informed a House member in a letter that he had asked the White House counsel to examine meetings in the White House last year between Jared Kushner and officials from two financial companies.

The companies later lent the Kushner Cos. more than a half-billion dollars.

Which companies, NYT?

The meetings were reported earlier by The New York Times; the letter was reported by CNN. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Tuesday that the counsel’s office was not investigating whether Kushner broke the law.

Charles Kushner described the loans as arm’s-length transactions that did not involve his son.

On top of all of this, the political prize at the root of those travails — Jared Kushner’s White House post — appears to be losing its luster. Although he remains Trump’s senior adviser, Jared Kushner, 37, was stripped of his top-secret security clearance in February for reasons that remain undisclosed.

It was McMaster that ran afoul of President Jared (they tried to blame Kelly), and you know what happened to him. 

Kushner, who friends say was taken aback by the decision, has avoided questions about how he will fulfill his once-sweeping White House duties without that privilege.

He is still giving advice and counsel to Trump, that hasn't changed.

Also seeOngoing inquiry delays Kushner’s security clearance 

Notice the perpetual shit-eating grin; he knows he is above it all and the investigations will go nowhere. He's of a certain chosen group of slumlords that are untouchable. Must be why he was taken aback.

He has also lost some of his closest allies: two aides, Reed Cordish and Josh Raffel, recently announced their departures, as did Gary D. Cohn, the president’s economic adviser.

See: Cohn and Cohen 

He was leaving anyway?

Still hoping to make an impact on global affairs, Kushner has turned his attention from the Middle East stalemate to US relations with Mexico.


Related: "Diplomacy on Mexico was being routed through the White House via the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner....."

No wonder Tillerson quit!

Charles Kushner is adamant that his family remains united in the face of their difficulties. But friends say Jared Kushner’s sister is distressed by investigators’ focus on her, and there are tensions between Jared and Josh over Trump.

Who cares?

That Josh Kushner, 32, has made no secret of the fact that he did not vote for Trump upset his brother, several friends said. Voting records show Josh Kushner did not vote in the 2016 presidential election. Josh’s spokesman, Jesse Derris, said the brothers “are just as close as ever.”

No concerns about privacy, Russia, or CA, huh?

And while Charles Kushner insists his bankers are loyal, investors are eager, and deals are plentiful, some business associates say the drumbeat of unflattering headlines is putting tremendous pressure on the family business.

Banks must assess the risk of any continuing regulatory or criminal inquiries before making loans; potential investors are worried that they could come under scrutiny or that projects will be delayed or fall apart.

I wouldn't worry about it. I doubt we will see anything come of the investigations. It will just get buried -- unless there is a Zionist need to sacrifice the family.


Also see:

David Shulkin says he was fired as head of VA and did not resign

Who cares as long as that scum is gone?

"Firing Robert Mueller might not easily result in impeachment" by Nicholas Fandos New York Times   April 01, 2018

WASHINGTON — It is anything but clear that the long-speculated dismissal of the special counsel, Robert Mueller, would have the tectonic consequences that Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, and other Republicans and Democrats have spoken of — or any consequences at all.

Then WTF was all this? I was told it would be the beginning of the end!

The fallout on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers alone may decide what happens, would probably be far messier than the swift justice that Trump’s critics imagine.

For months now, Democratic leaders and their aides have gamed out crisis situations during planning meetings, talking through the implications for the potential firings of not just Mueller but also the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and his deputy, Rod J. Rosenstein.

Now the Democrats love those guys! Good God!

But as the minority, they have little recourse without Republican support. Whether they would get it could depend in large part on what Trump and Mueller have to say.


This is setting up the scenario whereby Democrats win the House and start impeachment proceedings. 

Hope you got your popcorn!

Any real repercussions for Trump may have to wait for the midterm elections, when voters decide whether to hand one chamber of Congress — or both — to the president’s opposition.

Little chance off them handing off both, NYT, but keep praying.

UPDATE: Florida’s governor set to run for US Senate

Democrats already down one.

“I hope that my colleagues would stand up and say, ‘This is the Saturday Night Massacre all over again; we can’t go there,’ ” Flake said in an interview, referring to the night Richard M. Nixon fired top Justice Department officials and the special prosecutor investigating him. “But I am more and more concerned all the time.”

Another WatergateOnly problem is Obama's spying on the Trump campaign was worse.  He didn't use a bunch of plumbers, he used the national security and justice apparatus to spy on him.

Trump has made no secret of his contempt for Mueller’s inquiry into potential ties between his campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election, and into possible obstruction of justice by the president himself. He ordered the firing of Mueller over the summer before backing down.

But more recently the president has shifted to a more aggressive, direct attack on the special counsel and the legitimacy of his inquiry.

Under current law, Trump cannot directly fire the special counsel. Even if he ordered the Justice Department official overseeing the case — right now, the deputy attorney general — to dismiss Mueller, he would have to cite good cause.

But Trump has proved willing to fire or push out other top FBI officials tied to the investigation, as well as his secretary of state and his national security adviser, and could choose to remove those who objected to the order.

An unleashed president has members of both parties nervous.

If Mueller were fired and the investigation disbanded, of primary importance would be preserving the evidence gathered by the special counsel’s investigation, aides in both parties say. Congress could leverage its control of the Justice Department’s nominees and purse strings to ensure its safekeeping while other matters were sorted out.

Relevant committees could then call for Mueller to testify, as they weighed a path forward legislatively.

But Mueller would have to be willing to share his knowledge. If he were inclined to disclose details of his investigation to Congress, many of which are not protected by grand jury secrecy, it would be difficult, if not impossible, for Trump to stop him, legal analysts said.

“If Mueller or members of his team are subpoenaed by Congress, and they’re willing to tell their story, then I think there’s a strong likelihood that the story gets told,” said Ross H. Garber, an expert in impeachment law who has represented several politicians in high-profile investigations.

Democrats say they also fear a less dramatic outcome: In lieu of demanding the firing of Mueller, the president could replace Sessions and Rosenstein as part of what has become regular turnover in a tumultuous administration.

A new attorney general could then declare that further investigation was unnecessary and dismiss Mueller on his or her own.

The end result would be the same, but it could give the White House the argument that the Justice Department made the decision independently of the president, making it harder to build support for Congress to act.

Without support for impeachment, Democrats say the most realistic path toward Republican cooperation would be an effort to get Mueller, or another investigator, reinstated.

Options under discussion include hiring Mueller as a special congressional investigator, passing a new independent counsel law that would restore him or another trusted law enforcement figure as an executive branch employee with explicit protections from Trump, or enacting legislation that would allow Mueller to appeal his firing to a panel of judges.

But none of those options are a sure thing.

By the time you finish the piece you realize it is nothing but speculative, agenda-pushing filler.


I didn't see Kushner's name in there, did you?

This could get Trump in trouble with his Zionist masters:

"US sides with PLO on damages suit" Associated Press  April 01, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is siding with the Palestine Liberation Organization in urging the Supreme Court to reject an appeal from US victims of terrorist attacks in the Middle East more than a decade ago.

The victims want the high court to reinstate a $654 million verdict against the PLO and Palestinian Authority in connection with attacks in Israel in 2002 and 2004 that killed 33 people and wounded hundreds more. An appeals court tossed out the verdict in 2016. It said US courts can’t consider suits against foreign groups over random attacks not aimed at the United States.

(Blog editor just shakes his head)

The victims say offices the Palestinians keep in Washington are sufficient to allow the lawsuit in a US court. The appeals court disagreed.

Theodore Olson, lawyer for the victims, said the appeals court decision would hurt US victims of ‘‘many acts of terrorism overseas.”

How is your wife, Ted?



"Israel rejects calls for probe into Gaza border deaths" by Loveday Morris Washington Post  April 01, 2018

No surprise there.

GAZA CITY — Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman of Israel on Sunday rejected international calls for an inquiry into the deaths of at least 15 Palestinians, saying that troops ‘‘deserve a commendation’’ for their response to protests at the Gaza border.

The ‘‘March of Return’’ to mark the anniversary of land appropriation by Israel in 1976 drew tens of thousands of Gaza residents to the border fence on Friday. Israel’s use of live ammunition to push them back triggered calls by the United Nations, European Union officials, rights groups, and Gaza families for an investigation.

Have you noticed that there has been not a peep of criticism from the administration or Congre$$?

The Israeli military said it adhered to rules of engagement during what it characterized as an attempt by Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, to break through the fence into Israel and endanger its security.

I've seen the videos of the protests, and at no time were Palestinians attempting to break through fences. That is just an outright Israeli lie, same as the stone-throwing.

The Palestinian representative to the United States, Husam Zomlot, accused Israel of ‘‘indiscriminate murder’’ and called firing on demonstrators ‘‘morally repugnant and a crime against humanity.’’

Lieberman told Israel’s Army Radio that only people who tried to approach the border fence had been shot. Israel’s military says its rules of engagement are confidential but comply with international law.

Yeah, if Israel says it, it must be true.

‘‘Under no circumstances will a commission of inquiry be established,’’ Lieberman said.

Israeli troops pulled out of Gaza in 2005, but the United Nations still considers it occupied territory because Israel has ‘‘effective control.’’

The movement of goods and people has been severely restricted since Hamas, which Israel and the United States consider a terrorist organization, took over Gaza 11 years ago. 

It's called a siege, and they didn't take over, they won election.

Honestly, I'm the fool for continuing to read this Zionist-skewed garbage.

Israel has fought three wars with Hamas; tensions have been building again recently as rocket fire from Gaza became more frequent after President Trump’s announcement the United States would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. 

I would hardly call them wars, and I see the false flag rocket fire by Jewish settlers provided the excuse.

A growing humanitarian crisis has fueled frustrations, with Palestinians in Gaza laying blame primarily on restrictions by Israel. The border with Egypt remains largely closed, while punitive financial measures leveled by the Palestinian Authority against rival Hamas have added to Gaza’s woes. 

It only matters in Syria, and who can blame Palestinians for thinking the whole world is against them?

No Israeli soldiers have been reported injured in the border demonstrations so far, but Israel has accused Hamas of attempting to use the protests as cover to carry out attacks.

At Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, administrative workers showed computer records that listed 283 people admitted with injuries sustained in the border demonstrations. Al-Shifa is the main medical facility in Gaza Strip but one of more than a dozen hospitals and clinics that took in casualties.

‘‘Most of them were direct gunshots to the lower limbs,’’ said Ayman al-Sahbani, head of Al-Shifa’s emergency department. He said the injured included 70 children under 18.

At one point on the border near Gaza City there was a gunshot injury every few minutes. Gunfire continued in consistent bursts throughout the day, as did the use of tear gas, sometimes dropped from drones.

Oh, look, the WaComPo finally recognized Israel's chemical weapons use by drone!

All injured people observed by The Washington Post over the course of the day appeared to have been shot in the legs.

That somehow minimizes snipers opening fire on unarmed protesters, huh?

Palestinians should consider themselves lucky. U.S. cops never do that.



"Security forces responded by putting the town and other suburbs under siege, bombing hospitals and residential areas, and blocking the entry of food and medical relief."

See what I mean?

"In world of war, pope finds cause for hope" Associated Press  April 01, 2018

VATICAN CITY — On Christianity’s most joyful day, Pope Francis called for peace in a world marked by war and conflict, beginning with Syria and extending to Israel, where 15 Palestinians were killed on the Israeli-Gaza border two days before Easter Sunday. 

Francis reflected on the power of Christianity’s core belief — that Jesus rose from the dead following crucifixion — in his formal ‘‘Urbi et Orbi’’ Easter message delivered from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica to a packed square of some 80,000 faithful below.

The pope said the message of the resurrection offers hope in a world ‘‘marked by so many acts of injustice and violence.’’

So that is the answer.

‘‘It bears fruits of hope and dignity where there are deprivation and exclusion, hunger and unemployment; where there are migrants and refugees, so often rejected by today’s culture of waste, and victims of the drug trade, human trafficking, and contemporary forms of slavery,’’ the pope said.

I used to find hope in the Pope's call for peace. That was before I realized he and the Church are part of the problem. His bank launders drug money, the child pedophilia is trafficking, and the way the nuns are treated is akin to slavery.

In Jerusalem, hundreds of Christians marked Easter by flocking to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built on the site where they believe Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected. Worshipers prayed and sang hymns in the church and viewed the edicule, the chamber believed to mark Jesus’ tomb.

A historic restoration of the chamber was completed last year, aimed at reversing the effects of years of exposure to water, humidity, and candle smoke. The limestone and marble structure stands at the center of the church, a 12th-century building on a 4th-century foundation.

Amid the clashes in Gaza, Jews marked the Passover holiday Friday evening and Palestinians observed Land Day, which commemorates the events of March 30, 1976, when Israeli forces killed six Arab citizens of Israel during protests over the government’s seizure of Arab land in northern Israel.

In his message Sunday, Francis called for a ‘‘swift end’’ to the seven years of carnage in Syria, demanding that aid be delivered to the war-torn country’s needy and calling for ‘‘fitting conditions for the returned and the displaced.’’

The pope also urged reconciliation in Israel, a place ‘‘experiencing in these days the wounds of ongoing conflict that do not spare the defenseless.’’

Turning to Asia, Francis expressed hope that talks underway could bring peace to the Korean peninsula, urging ‘‘those who are directly responsible act with wisdom and discernment to promote the good of the Korean people.’’

The pope also urged more steps to bring harmony to divided Ukraine, called for peace in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and appealed for the world not to forget victims of conflict, especially children.

The ashy remains in Siberia smell like a CIA plot based on the news coverage, but that is for another time.

Cruiser hits woman then drives off during Sacramento protest of police killing

Is the pre$$ blaming Trump for it?

The church’s first pontiff from Latin America also cited the problems in Venezuela. He said he hoped the country would ‘‘find a just, peaceful, and humane way to surmount quickly the political and humanitarian crises that grip it.’’



Thousands gather for Castle Island sunrise Easter Mass

Memorials arise in Dorchester to remember two dead in Easter weekend shootings

British royals go to Easter service without Prince Harry and Meghan Markle

Was too long a walk to get there.

"Costa Ricans split over gay marriage vote for next president" Associated Press  April 01, 2018

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — An evangelical pastor who has capitalized on opposition to same-sex marriage was in a tight presidential race in Costa Rica on Sunday against a novelist and former Cabinet minister.

Fabricio Alvarado went from also-ran to leading candidate after he came out strongly against a call by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for Costa Rica to allow same-sex marriage.

His opponent, Carlos Alvarado of the governing Citizen Action Party, has openly backed allowing gays to wed.

Recent polling showed the candidates — who are not related — in a statistical tie heading into the vote. They were the top vote-getters in a first-round election in early February.

The two share similarities beyond that last name. Both have backgrounds in journalism and both have recorded music: Fabricio Alvarado as a gospel star and Carlos as a college-age rock ‘n roller.

Though lacking major party backing, Fabricio Alvarado enjoyed high name recognition, especially in evangelical circles, and for working on one of the country’s main TV newscasts.

Carlos Alvarado is a novelist and former labor minister.

Both candidates have opted for economic advisers who take a conservative approach to economics, maintaining the free market, and reducing the size of government. 

All this social stuff is meant to take your attention away from the real power dynamics running the $y$tem. Must be why the CIA didn't interfere in the election.

Rodrigo Lopez, 45, said Fabricio Alvarado would be his choice because Costa Rica should maintain its traditional values and he is tired of the ruling party’s corruption.

Maria Rodriguez, 32, said she supports Carlos Alvarado because she rejects his rival’s homophobic discourse and does not believe he is qualified to be president.

In Mexico on Sunday, front-running candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrado opened his campaign for the July 1 presidential election in Ciudad Juarez, the border city that launched some of Mexico’s key resistance struggles.

Lopez Obrador depicts his third run at the presidency as a historic battle against corruption and entrenched elites, on a par with the resistance to the French invasion of 1862-1867 and the 1910-1917 revolution. Ciudad Juarez served as a base in both.

Ruling party candidate Jose Antonio Meade launched his campaign Sunday in the colonial city of Merida, the capital of a state his Institutional Revolutionary Party hopes to retain, with nine governorships at stake.


At least the Guatemalans can say Bon Montt:

"Efrain Rios Montt, 91, Guatemalan dictator convicted of genocide" by John Otis Washington Post  April 01, 2018

WASHINGTON — Efrain Rios Montt, the Guatemalan military dictator who was charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for atrocities committed by his troops during the country’s long-running civil war, died Sunday. He was 91.

The retired brigadier general, said to be suffering from dementia, spent the last several years of his life consumed by legal battles stemming from his short but barbarous reign as the country’s leader. His lawyer Jaime Hernandez told the Associated Press he suffered a heart attack.

Then there is some justice in this world.

General Rios Montt assumed power March 23, 1982, in a coup staged by junior officers. Guatemala was long familiar with rule by military strongmen and human rights abuses. But during General Rios Montt’s 17-month reign, repression by state security forces reached new levels of brutality. 

I'll bet he had help.

A United Nations-sponsored truth commission found that nearly half of all the human rights violations during the 36-year conflict occurred in 1982, a year when General Rios Montt was de facto ruler of Guatemala for nine months. More than 200,000 Guatemalans perished during the civil war’s violence, according to the UN commission, and government forces were responsible for the vast majority of deaths.

An evangelical Christian and part-time lay preacher, General Rios Montt befriended televangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Robertson extolled the Guatemalan leader, the lone Protestant head of state in Latin America, as the only alternative to ‘‘the oppression of corrupt oligarchies and the tyranny of Russian-backed Communist totalitarianism.’’ To his fiercest critics, the general was known as ‘‘the born-again butcher.’’

Initially, General Rios Montt enjoyed broad support by vowing to bring order to a nation where, as in much of Central America during the Cold War, Marxist guerrillas had risen up against military regimes. His draconian plan called for depopulating rebel strongholds to deny the guerrillas civilian support.

‘‘The guerrilla is the fish. The people are the sea,’’ General Rios Montt declared shortly after taking power. ‘‘If you cannot catch the fish, you have to drain the sea.’’

Under General Rios Montt’s command, the armed forces destroyed nearly 600 villages in the northern highlands and killed thousands of innocent civilians, according to the UN truth commission report published in 1999. Most of the victims were Mayan Indians who make up about half of Guatemala’s population.

Entire hamlets were uprooted and forced into ‘‘model villages,’’ many of which functioned as army-controlled re-education camps. Thousands of families fled to Mexico. Fueling the upheaval was a program that conscripted young men into self-defense patrols that often committed their own atrocities.

Guatemala under General Rios Montt, said former foreign minister Edgar Gutierrez, ‘‘was like Cambodia under Pol Pot.’’

The general brushed off the bloodshed. ‘‘I was not a police officer. I was a head of state,’’ he told the Los Angeles Times in 1995. ‘‘I am the one responsible, I recognize that, but I am not the guilty party.’’

He turned the tide in the war. The country’s four main guerrilla groups suffered massive losses and never recovered. They disarmed under a 1996 peace process that ended the war.

Although his brutality was condemned by many foreign governments, General Rios Montt had Washington on his side.

Yeah, you can bury Washington's complicity along with him.

Keen to help crush Cuban- and Soviet-backed insurgencies in Central America, President Ronald Reagan channeled military aid to Guatemala and praised General Rios Montt for being ‘‘totally dedicated to democracy.’’

I'm not surprised, and it shows you how absurd things are now as then.

Within Guatemala, doubts about the dictator were growing.

General Rios Montt upset civilian leaders by banning political parties and becoming increasingly vague about leaving power. He also angered the military brass by ignoring hierarchy and promoting officers who belonged to a Guatemalan offshoot of the Gospel Outreach Church of Eureka, Calif., an evangelical Protestant sect that the general had joined.

General Rios Montt was ousted in a coup led by his former defense minister on Aug. 8, 1983. 

I'll bet they had help, and how fitting.

Years later, as the war wound down and the country returned to an elected government, Guatemalans complained of street crime and corruption by traditional politicians. Their frustration opened the door for General Rios Montt, who had formed a populist party that stressed law and order and individual responsibility.

Sound familiar, America?

With support from many of the Mayan regions that had been ravaged by his troops, General Rios Montt was elected to Congress in 1990 and eventually rose to become president of the legislature.

In fact, polls at the time indicated that he stood a strong chance of returning to the National Palace had it not been for a constitutional provision banning people who had participated in coups from running for president.

In a 1991 essay, David M. Stoll, a Middlebury College anthropologist, tried to explain the general’s enduring attraction. He wrote: ‘‘The authoritarianism which foreigners so hold against Rios Montt appeals to the many Guatemalans . . . who, shaking their heads at the latest outrage, are willing to say: ‘We need a strongman to control us.’ Here is, they say, a just military man, even as they fear and despise the army for all the killing it has done.’’

Support for General Rios Montt collapsed in the early 2000s when President Alfonso Portillo — who belonged to the general’s party and was widely considered his stand-in — was accused of corruption and money laundering.

By then, General Rios Montt had also become the target of lawsuits accusing him of war crimes and genocide, including one filed by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Rigoberta Menchu, a Mayan Indian activist whose parents and brother were killed by Guatemalan security forces.

The legal cases languished, in part, because General Rios Montt enjoyed immunity as a member of Congress. But on Jan. 27, 2012, shortly after the general’s retirement from Congress, a Guatemalan judge ruled that he bore chain-of-command responsibility for massive violations and must stand trial.

On May 10, 2013, he was found guilty of the slaughter of 1,771 members of the Mayan Ixil indigenous group. It marked the first time a former head of state had been convicted of genocide within his or her country.

Addressing the packed courtroom, Judge Yasmin Barrios, who presided over the trial, said General Rios Montt ‘‘had full knowledge of everything that was happening and did not stop it.’’

Thinking Israeli leaders now.

However, 10 days later, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court threw out the conviction on a technicality. After much legal wrangling, a three-judge panel in 2015 ordered a retrial. By then, General Rios Montt was reportedly suffering from dementia and, if convicted, was to serve his sentence at home or in a hospital.

Never served time in prison, huh?

He leaves his wife, the former Maria Sosa Avila; two children; and several grandchildren, according to the Associated Press.

I'm sure they are proud.


So when is the U.S. going to apologize to Guatemala for the hell it put it through?

"15 killed as anti-India protests erupt in Kashmir" Associated Press  April 01, 2018

SRINAGAR, India — Massive anti-India protests erupted in several parts of the Indian-controlled portion of Kashmir on Sunday, and fierce fighting between rebels and government forces left at least 12 militants and three army soldiers dead, officials said.

At least four civilians were killed and dozens injured in the latest round of anti-India protests.

The clashes broke out after Indian troops launched counterinsurgency operations targeting mainly the southern parts of disputed Kashmir, where new-age rebels have revived militancy and challenged New Delhi’s rule with guns and effective use of social media.

Kashmiris might as well be Palestinian.

In recent years, Kashmiris, mainly youths, have displayed open solidarity with anti-India rebels and sought to protect them by engaging troops in street clashes during military operations against the militants. Thousands of Kashmiris hit the streets on Sunday.


"Amid skepticism on thaw, N. Korea’s Kim sees pop stars from South" by Choe Sang-Hun New York Times  April 01, 2018

SEOUL —The appearance by North Korea’s leader on Sunday at a concert by South Korean musicians in Pyongyang was all the more unusual because his authoritarian government has been struggling to stave off what it sees as an infiltration of the South’s pop culture among his isolated people.

More NYT ax-grinding, and I'm sick of it.

The two-hour show at the East Pyongyang Grand Theater was part of a political détente between the neighboring countries as relations have thawed. It was the first time a North Korean leader watched a South Korean musical performance in the North’s capital.

Just a day earlier, the United Nations announced new economic measures against North Korea, blacklisting 27 ships, 21 shipping companies, and one individual accused of helping the North evade previous international sanctions.

See: "The United Nations Security Council announced new measures against North Korea, blacklisting 27 ships, 21 shipping companies, and one individual accused of helping the North evade sanctions. The move increases pressure on the regime ahead of planned summit meetings with South Korea and the United States. The oil tankers and cargo ships were banned from ports worldwide, and other entities face asset freezes (New York Times)." 

That is what is getting him to the table, right?

The UN move is intended to increase pressure on North Korea ahead of planned summit meetings between Kim Jong Un and the presidents of South Korea and the United States.

US officials are also keeping the pressure on the North. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said Sunday that he is glad John Bolton will serve as President Trump’s national security adviser going into the talks with North Korea because of his ‘‘very healthy skepticism.’’

Remember back when Graham was joined at the hip with John McCain and Joe Lieberman?

Really tells you all you need to know; Graham also blackmailable because he's gay.

Hopes have been raised that Kim may be willing to discuss his nuclear weapons program with Trump, and other measures to reduce the threat of war — possibly in exchange for security guarantees and an easing of the sanctions that have severely pinched the already struggling North Korean economy.

Graham said he had dinner with Bolton a couple of nights ago and the hawkish former ambassador to the UN expressed fears that North Korea is ‘‘just buying time’’ as it seeks to develop a nuclear-armed missile.

‘‘He sees these negotiations as a way of buying time. That’s what they've done in the past,’’ said Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Bolton will replace Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster on April 9.

That's a U.S. tactic, sorry.

The South Korean troupe flew to Pyongyang on Saturday with great fanfare. Its show occurred just weeks before Kim is scheduled to meet with South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, at a border village on April 27, and before a planned summit meeting with Trump in May.

They were the first South Korean singers to perform in North Korea in more than a decade. Their visit reciprocated a North Korean art troupe’s performances in South Korea during its Winter Olympics in February. Moon watched one of the North Korean performances.

Kim and Ri, a former singer, were among hundreds of North Koreans who filled the 1,500-seat theater to watch the South Korean singers, including older crooners, rockers, and K-pop starlets.

On Sunday evening, thunderous clapping erupted when Kim and his wife entered the concert hall and seated themselves in a second-floor balcony, according to pool reports from South Korean journalists and officials.

Attention was focused on how Kim would react to the pop singers, particularly Red Velvet. The five-member girl group is typical of South Korean girl groups — known for their chirpy, bubble-gum harmonies and sexy choreography.

Their tunes are so infectious that the South Korean military has broadcast them across the border in a psychological war against North Korean soldiers. The North used to threaten to direct its artillery at the loudspeakers, warning of an “all-out war” if the South didn’t turn them off.

But things have changed.

South Korean officials said the North did not attempt to reject any of the South Korean song lineup or change the pop stars’ lyrics or risqué dance moves.

“Please tell President Moon how good this kind of exchange is. I know there has been attention to whether I will come and see Red Velvet,” Kim was quoted as telling South Korean officials. “I thank you for bringing this gift to Pyongyang citizens.”

Kim Yerim, a Red Velvet member who is known as Yeri, was quoted as saying, “The audience clapped loudly and even sang along.”

Sort of a Kumbaya moment, huh?

The South Korean culture minister, Do Jong-hwan, told reporters in Pyongyang after the show that Kim “showed much interest during the show and asked questions about the songs and lyrics.”

Kim’s acceptance of Red Velvet and South Korean pop culture was striking because his government has expanded a crackdown on DVDs and computer thumb drives containing South Korean pop songs, movies, and TV dramas smuggled from China.

So it's more than just oil, huh?


Defunct Chinese space lab mostly burned up

Xi Has a New Signup for China’s Pollution Fight: Walmart

China imposing new tariffs on US meat, fruit, other products

Does that include lobster?

It has called for establishing “mosquito nets” to keep out “decadent capitalist influence.”

Defectors from the North have said that those who were caught selling or watching South Korean K-pop music videos could be sent to prison camps.

The South Korean singers now in the North will hold a joint concert with North Korean performers Tuesday at an indoor stadium in Pyongyang.

South Koreans will see a recorded version of the concert later this week, according to local news media. It is unclear if, or when, ordinary North Koreans will be allowed to see it.

In the past week, Kim traveled by train to pay a stealth visit to President Xi Jinping of China in Beijing.

Yeah, Globe followed it the whole way.

Other gestures from the North to foster the détente have included sending athletes, cheerleaders, and an art troupe to the South during the Winter Games in February.....



Did you know the Massachusetts Senate is an institution on the edge?

UPDATE: Because of Stan, and did you see who the next Senate president is married to?

"State’s long-promised health-costs website is now due to arrive this spring" by Priyanka Dayal McCluskey Globe Staff  April 01, 2018

“There’s a whole bunch of things that could be wrong with the site, including that nobody ever comes,” said Ray Campbell, executive director of the state agency, known as CHIA. “But the biggest danger that we confront is confusing people.”

Given the history of web site rollouts in this state, I wouldn't expect much.

The website, which has been tested by industry insiders over the past two months, shows payments to physicians and health care facilities for hundreds of outpatient medical services. The numbers represent the total amount an insurance company paid for a service, plus the amount paid out of the consumer’s pocket. So if a particular service was $250, for example, that could include $200 paid by the insurer and $50 by the consumer.

The figures provide a snapshot of the sometimes wide cost difference for the same service at one health care provider versus another.....

Nothing about Partners charging 3x as much for the same procedures -- and they run MassHealth now.


Related: Recalling the flu pandemic of 1918

They planning on releasing one this coming week, are they?

"A Fairhaven man was in police custody Sunday afternoon following an hours-long standoff with local police and a regional SWAT team in a residential neighborhood. The incident ended peacefully and there is no threat to the community, according to a statement from Fairhaven police. At 8:38 a.m., a 49-year-old man living at 18 Winsegansett Ave. turned away Fairhaven officers who tried to make contact with him and “then barricaded himself inside the home,” the statement said. The man was alone inside the house, and officers had reason to believe he was armed with a knife, the statement said. Fairhaven police were joined by a SWAT team from the Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council. Police found three knives inside the home when the man was taken into custody around 12:30 p.m., a police spokesman said."

I wonder why they were there, but think about that for a minute. 

I'm told the police tried to make contact, he didn't want to (forget the disproportionate response that seems common these days; budgets and tyranny must be justified, I guess), and then I'll bet one of the guys standing around said "I'll bet there is a knife in there." Did they find them in a kitchen drawer? 

Elon Musk sends April Fools’ tweets joking of Tesla bankruptcy

Except he was not joking.

With a mouse click, pot licensing will kick off

No concerns about hacking or privacy, huh?

Data breach hits Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor stores

Boston’s rents are starting to rise again

You would be a fool to live there.

First woman to publicly accuse Larry Nassar of assault coming to Harvard

Turns out Michigan State is rife with sexual scandal, including Nasser's boss

Seems more systemic than anything else. When you throw the name Sandusky in there, it starts to look like wolves in folds with the educational system turned a child procurement service for perverts!

"The president of the motion picture academy is denying he engaged in sexual misconduct. In a memo sent to staff of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, President John Bailey said an allegation that he attempted to touch a woman inappropriately a decade ago on a movie set is untrue. Media reports linking him to misconduct are false and “and have served only to tarnish my 50-year career,” Bailey, a cinematographer whose credits include “Groundhog Day,” “The Big Chill” and “As Good as It Gets,” said in the note. A person with knowledge of the memo said it was sent to academy staff Friday. The academy itself has refused to acknowledge the existence of the investigation....."


"Steven Spielberg has found his way back to the top of the box office with the action-adventure “Ready Player One,” while Tyler Perry has scored again with “Acrimony.” Studio estimates on Sunday say Spielberg’s virtual reality-focused film earned a solid $53.2 million in its first four days in theaters from 4,234 locations since opening Wednesday night, with $41.2 million of that coming from the three-day weekend. Not adjusted for inflation, it’s Spielberg’s best opening in a decade following “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” which launched with $100.1 million in 2008. Based on Ernest Cline’s popular novel and chock-full of references to 1980s pop culture, including some nods to Spielberg’s own films, “Ready Player One” is a return to the popcorn filmmaking that he became known for. “It’s great to be in the Steven Spielberg business,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ president of domestic distribution. “We always believed that this movie itself would carry the day and that’s really what happened. We’ve seen all around the globe that the word of mouth is really propelling it.” Goldstein said while advance ticket sales were solid, the walk-up business was particularly robust on Friday and Saturday. ComScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian said the performance of “Ready Player One” should be judged in the context of the marketplace, which is down significantly (24.1 percent) from last March and has seen nearly every film since “Black Panther” open in the “middling to good range.” “None of them have set the world on fire,” Dergarabedian said. “We’re living in a world where a $52.3 million gross for the first four days is a really good number.” “Tyler Perry’s Acrimony” took second place. Driven by an overwhelmingly female audience, the film starring Taraji P. Henson grossed $17.1 million over the 3-day weekend, followed by “Black Panther” in third place with $11.3 million. With $650.7 million in domestic grosses, “Black Panther” is poised to pass “Jurassic World’s” $652 million to become the fourth highest grossing domestic release of all time....."

There have been rumors about him, but taking down moguls like him and Geffen would ruin Hollywood's name. 

As for the skewing of the numbers regarding the crap Hollywood has been trolling out? They speak for themselves with their adjustable standards. Anything looks good then.

"It took six weeks, but "Black Panther" has finally been unseated as the top film at the North American box office. The monsters vs. robots science-fiction sequel "Pacific Rim: Uprising" dethroned the superhero sensation with $28 million in ticket sales over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday. And even though "Black Panther" slid to second place in its sixth weekend, with $16.7 million, Ryan Coogler's film notched another box office milestone. It's now the highest-grossing superhero film ever in North America, not accounting for inflation....."

But what does that mean in light of declining audiences?

RelatedRussell Simmons Accused of Rape in New Lawsuit

He's no Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Or Steven Bochco, for that matter.

At least there was a night to celebrate successes on domestic violence, and you know who got the ball rolling regarding that issue, right?