Sunday, April 15, 2018

Sunday Globe is Surreal

I don't know what to say.

The front page feature:

A rail safety system gone badly off track

It's the driver's fault.

"Pentagon says Syria strikes hit heart of chemical weapons program" by Helene Cooper and Ben Hubbard New York Times  April 14, 2018

WASHINGTON — Defense Department officials said Saturday that US-led strikes against Syria had taken out the “heart” of President Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons program, but acknowledged that the Syrian government probably retained some ability to again attack with chemical agents. 

That is taking it for granted the false charge that he has one.

President Trump, in declaring the mission accomplished, invoked a phrase made infamous by President George W. Bush in 2003, when he claimed success in an Iraq conflict that would end up continuing for more than eight years before US troops finally withdrew.

Before going back in as Obama left, and Trump really said that?

Russia’s military said Syrian air defense units downed 71 of the cruise missiles launched by the United States and its allies, and claimed that the damage was not extensive, the Associated Press reported.

That I believe.

Hundreds of Syrians took to the streets of Damascus on Saturday, celebrating and chanting to support Assad and defy the West’s effort to shake their nation’s resolve. The demonstrations were carried live on state TV, which urged people not to believe media reports that exaggerated the results of the airstrikes.

Who can blame them?

Beyond the immediate question of whether the new strikes actually accomplished the stated goal of diminishing Syria’s capacity to make and use chemical agents, the attack posed the risk of drawing the United States deeper into a conflict in which Russia and Iran have more invested than ever in keeping Assad in power.

The United States is “locked and loaded” to strike again if Assad is believed to renew his use of chemical weapons, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the Security Council on Saturday at an emergency meeting called by Russia.

The Security Council overwhelmingly rejected a Russian resolution calling for condemnation of ‘‘aggression’’ against Syria in a vote that reflected support for the allied airstrikes. But the meeting also demonstrated again the paralysis of the UN in dealing with Syria’s seven-year conflict.

I guess the U.N. has served its purpose, and with Bolton as NSA adviser now..... (sound of implosion and collapse).

Haley said Russia had failed to abide by a 2013 promise to ensure that Syria got rid of its chemical weapons stockpiles. 

It was the OPCW that certified they were clean, and none other than John Kerry celebrated it.

The Pentagon provided no immediate evidence that the sites that were struck were producing substances covered by the 2013 agreement between Russia and the United States to eliminate Syria’s chemical arms.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Friday that the US government was confident that Syrian forces had used chlorine in the deadly attack on civilians last Saturday in Douma, but did not provide evidence.

(Cue Twilight Zone music)

The White House has cited photographs and videos from Douma to make the case, and has dismissed alternative explanations from the Syrian and Russian governments. It said that the nerve agent sarin may have been used in addition to chlorine.

Then Trump is either a captive of the neocons (that's why the pre$$ has helped run out Flynn, Bannon, et al) or has betrayed the very people who have been out here watching his back. 

Chlorine, as a commercially available substance, was not included in the 2013 agreement. But the Chemical Weapons Convention, which Syria joined as part of the 2013 deal, prohibits the use of any chemical as a weapon.

Chlorine is used to treat water, and no modern nation can exist without it.

A group from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which had announced a fact-finding mission to determine if chemical weapons were used in the Douma attack, arrived in Damascus on Saturday, the group said.

They couldn't have waited until after they completed their work before they bombed?

A statement by the Syrian military said three people were injured in Homs. Videos from Damascus showed Syrian air defense missiles launching into a dark night sky, and the Russian military said that at one Syrian air base, all 12 cruise missiles that targeted the site had been shot down.

What is sad is we have reached a point where the "enemy" is the one telling the truth.

Defense Department officials batted down those claims, saying that the entire US-led operation was over and the targets were destroyed before Syria launched any of the 40 missiles it fired into the air.

Nice pun, and you got any evidence?

Assad may still be able to use chemical agents in the future. “I would say there’s still a residual element of the Syrian program that’s out there,” said Marine Corps Lieutenant General Kenneth F. McKenzie, director of the Joint Staff, during a news conference Saturday. “I’m not going to say that they’re going to be unable to continue to conduct a chemical attack in the future. I suspect, however, they’ll think long and hard about it.” 

Well, he wasn't dissuaded over the course of year if this rot is to be believed; otherwise, the only thing they are doing is laying the narrative for the next false flag fake to justify further military action.

In a statement, the British government said that Prime Minister Theresa May, President Emmanuel Macron of France, and Trump had agreed in separate phone calls that the military strikes had been a success, “sending a clear message that the use of chemical weapons can never become normalized.”

Unless, of course, it is the EUSraeli Empire using them.

But the limited nature of the strikes left some members of Congress and other observers underwhelmed.

So what blood pouring from the fangs scum did they dig up?

“I fear that when the dust settles, this strike will be seen as a weak military response and Assad will have paid a small price for using chemical weapons yet again,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, a member of the Armed Services Committee. “Assad has likely calculated a limited American strike is just the cost of doing business.”

Randa Slim, an analyst at the Middle East Institute, tweeted: “If this is it, Assad should be relieved.”

Who they?

(Among their donors are Chevron, Coca-Cola, Conoco, Phillips, ExxonMobil, Raytheon, Saudi Aramco, Shell, BAE, Boeing, BP, DynCorp, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin, Bank of Dubai, Occidental Petroleum, GE, General Motors, Halliburton, and Northrop Grumman)

Sure enough, early Saturday morning, Assad’s office posted a video that appeared to show him strolling into work in a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase as if nothing had happened.

Condemnation of the strikes from Syria’s allies was swift.

“The United States and its allies continue to demonstrate blatant disregard for international law,” said the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vasily A. Nebenzya, on Saturday.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, called the strikes “a crime” and the leaders of the United States, France, and Britain “criminals.”

Exhibit A:

A Syrian soldier filmed the damage at the Barzah Research and Development Center near Damascus after the airstrikes.
A Syrian soldier filmed the damage at the Barzah Research and Development Center near Damascus after the airstrikes (Hassan Ammar/Associated Press).


RelatedPrevious US airstrikes in Syria

War crimes all.

"‘Mission accomplished,’ but what is the mission?" by Peter Baker New York Times News Analysis April 14, 2018

WASHINGTON — On the morning after, President Trump declared success. The surgical strike against chemical weapons facilities in Syria had been executed perfectly, he said Saturday. “Mission Accomplished!” he wrote on Twitter.

That’s a phrase presidents and politicians have studiously avoided since President George W. Bush’s ill-fated aircraft carrier visit prematurely declaring success in the Iraq War. But aside from the curious choice of words, it raised the essential question regarding Syria going beyond the one-time strike: What exactly is the mission?

For most of Trump’s presidency, it has been to defeat the Islamic State and then get out. But Trump finds himself in a position not all that different from that of his predecessor, President Barack Obama, and with no easier answers. 

Took a year, but they finally maneuvered him into position.

The strike brought home Trump’s competing impulses when it comes to Syria — on the one hand, his manful chest-thumping intended to demonstrate that he is the toughest one on the international block, and on the other, his deep conviction that US involvement in the Middle East since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has been a waste of blood and treasure.

He reflected the contradictions of a US public that is tired of trying to solve other people’s problems in the Middle East yet recoils at the haunting images of dead children choked by gas. Many veterans of Washington policymaking in the Middle East offered conditional praise for Trump’s restrained approach to the strike, if not necessarily his rhetoric.

That's not it at all. We are not tired of trying to fix other peoples problems, we are tired of being lied into wars for the Zionist cause.

In hitting three sites associated with Assad’s chemical weapons capabilities, limiting it to a single night, and conducting it in conjunction with Britain and France, they said it sent a message while avoiding a deeper involvement and minimizing the risk of provoking Syria’s patrons, Russia and Iran, into retaliating themselves.

Meghan O’Sullivan, who oversaw the Iraq War as Bush’s deputy national security adviser, said, “In theory, there is not necessarily an inconsistency between a targeted, multilateral strike against chemical weapons sites and the withdrawal of troops that have been fighting ISIS. But the strike does really call into question the wisdom of pulling back American forces now in highlighting the question of what our objective really is in Syria.”

First they turn to the oil and defense companies, now they turn into a Bush flunky for expert analysis, and the objective is the same as it ever was: regime change!

Others argued that the strike was a waste that accomplished little and, in the process, exceeded the president’s authority as commander in chief since he did not obtain authorization from Congress first.

I have been thinking about that, and he doesn't have to get it for a strike. He has 60 days under the War Powers Act before needing authorization from Congre$$.

Of course, we have been in Syria for so long that one wonders why is Congre$$ finally making a fuss (I'm sure it is because it is Trump and for their own images).

Critics said that if Trump was truly moved by humanitarian concern over the victims of last weekend’s attack, he should reverse his policy of banning virtually all Syrian refugees.

You guys never quit, do you?

“The ongoing bloodshed and war crimes in Syria are a stark reminder that Syrian civilians need our support now more than ever,” Noah Gottschalk of Oxfam America said.

I think Oxfam has its own crimes to worry about (and down the memory hole it went).

By most accounts, the strike essentially left in place the status quo on the ground. It did little if anything to weaken Assad beyond any chemical weapons stores it destroyed, leaving him to continue waging war on his own people through conventional means.

It did nothing to exact the “big price” Trump promised to impose on Russia and Iran for enabling Assad’s chemical attacks.

Indeed, Trump has shown little interest in trying to steer Syria to a resolution of its civil war, eschewing the sort of Geneva diplomacy that consumed Obama’s last secretary of state, John F. Kerry, to little apparent effect.

Trump sees Syria in two boxes — the fight against the Islamic State, in which he has declared near victory, and the multisided civil war that he wants no part of, saying as he did just days ago, “Let the other people take care of it now.”

But that is an artificial bifurcation in a country torn by violence on all sides. The civil war affects the ability of the Islamic State to operate and vice versa.

Not a civil war, it's an attempted overthrow from the outside.

Trump may have opted for the more cautious approach urged by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis instead of a more crippling attack that may have been favored by his new national security adviser, John R. Bolton, but he did not settle the larger question.

Good cop, bad cop, worst cop.

Related: "Bolton, the neoconservatives and the Israeli interest that they represent will go to work on Mattis and the dissenting generals. Leaks will appear in the presstitute media that are designed to discredit Mattis and to foment Trump’s distrust. The neoconservatives will advance military men more in line with the neoconservatives’ aggressiveness to positions on the Joint Chiefs....."

Asked Friday before the missiles began flying to explain the United States’ strategy in Syria, Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman, demurred. “I’m not going to get ahead of the president,” she said.


"In Moscow, a sense of relief after a limited attack in Syria" by Neil MacFarquhar New York Times  April 14, 2018

MOSCOW — Moscow met the limited US-led airstrikes against Syria before dawn Saturday with plenty of bluster and heated rhetoric, starting with an uncharacteristically quick response from President Vladimir Putin condemning the attack and accusing the United States of aggravating the humanitarian situation.

But there was also a palpable sense of relief.

The sun was barely up before the Defense Ministry, not famous for speedy reactions, pumped out a statement underscoring that none of the thousands of Russian troops garrisoned in Syria had been threatened by the United States, British, and French attack and that none of its air defense systems had been mobilized.

“It looks like both sides were playing according to their prescribed roles and managed to limit the harm from this kind of confrontation,” said Alexander M. Golts, an independent Russian military analyst and deputy editor of Yezhenedelny Zhurnal, an online current affairs magazine. “Syria will not be the starting point for some kind of global confrontation.”

It will be, for prophecy says so and neocons never give up, but what is more disturbing is that "BOTH SIDES WERE PLAYING THEIR PRESCRIBED ROLES." 

Then WHO are the DIRECTORS?

The US ambassador to Russia, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., released a statement on Facebook on Saturday confirming that the two sides had taken steps before the assault to make sure they stayed out of each other’s way.

“Before we took action,” he said, “the US communicated with the [Russian Federation] to reduce the danger of any Russian or civilian casualties.”

Did Israel?

Of course, the latest attack binds Russia more closely than ever to President Bashar Assad of Syria. The fact that there was no immediate Russian reaction to President Trump’s scathing remarks about that alliance suggested that the Kremlin has accepted the costs involved.

Assad has become something of a “human shield” limiting Russia’s options, noted Vladimir Frolov, an independent foreign affairs analyst and columnist for, “but it was a choice that Moscow made.”

Putin often waits for days before weighing in on an international crisis, so his issuing a statement within hours of the attack indicated that the Kremlin considered it a critical situation.

Putin called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Saturday to discuss the attack, but he was not able to persuade the body to condemn the action.

Otherwise, he has limited himself to repeating Russian claims that no chemical attack had taken place to warrant the onslaught, and that Washington was only worsening a dire humanitarian crisis.....


"Local Syrians express hope, wariness after US missile strikes" by Jeremy C. Fox Globe Correspondent  April 14, 2018

President Trump’s decision to launch missile strikes in Syria is political theater, said Yasser Munif, an assistant professor at Emerson College who grew up in Syria.

Actors playing their proscribed roles.

“I think it’s just a way for Trump to differentiate his politics or policies from [those of former president Barack] Obama,” said Munif, 46, who studies revolutions in Arab countries. He said Trump wants to demonstrate that “unlike Obama, he doesn’t really believe in diplomacy with thugs like Assad and Iran. He means business.”

Other local Syrian-Americans voiced a range of reactions, from optimism to resignation, as they discussed the Friday night airstrikes by US, British, and French forces on suspected Syrian chemical weapons facilities.

Nadia Alawa, founder of the Windham, N.H.-based humanitarian organization NuDay Syria, said the missile attacks accomplished little on their own — she believes the targets had already been emptied of troops and materials — but the action could signal a turning point of increased US intervention under Trump.

“I do believe that he feels pain when he sees children suffering, and I am 100 percent convinced that he will do something that has significant, long-lasting effects,” she said.

Alawa and Munif both have relatives living near the sites of the missile strikes who were unharmed, they said, and they have heard no reports of civilians being injured or killed in the strikes.

Apparently no one did, and thank God for that.

Seeing the resilience of Syria’s children, many of them too young to remember a life without war, humbles and inspires her, Alawa said.

“I have to feel hopeful,” she said. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to run a nonprofit in a country like Syria.”

Others were less confident that Friday’s attacks signaled a lasting change in US policy, but several agreed it was necessary to take action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose suppression of his opponents has left hundreds of thousands of Syrians dead.

“It’s always tough for any Syrian actually to cheer or to celebrate strikes,” said Mohamad Al Bardan, 30, a Syrian activist and engineer who lives in Cambridge. “However, they are like surgery when it is necessary. There have to be consequences for the Assad regime.”

Al Bardan and other Syrians said the United States and its allies need to follow their action on chemical weapons with penalties for the use of conventional weapons against civilians and with diplomatic pressure.

Western governments, Al Bardan said, must “push Assad to sit at the negotiation table and be serious on a political transition.” He wants to see free and fair elections held in Syria, with monitoring by the United Nations, he said.

They had them and Assad won.

Al Bardan said he opposes Trump’s policies on immigration, especially regarding Muslims and refugees, as well as many of his domestic policies, but maintains hope that the Trump administration will increase US intervention in Syria.

“Obama totally ignored and abandoned Syria during the second term of his administration,” Al Bardan said.

Who wants to step in sh*t?

Omar Salem, chairman of the Karam Foundation, which provides aid to Syrian families and educational opportunities for Syrian refugee youth, said leaders in the West focus too much on chemical weapons, even as “barrel bombs are dropping indiscriminately on neighborhoods, killing civilians and ending whatever is left of the civil society that we have in Syria.”

“I don’t see how what took place last night is going to help going forward to get to the peace that all Syrians want,” said Salem, 43, of Canton, who lived in Syria until he was 22. “You’re basically telling the war criminals not to use chemical weapons anymore, but you can stick to conventional [weapons].”

Salem said he is concerned that Friday’s intervention is little more than saber-rattling.

“I’m not very optimistic,” he said. “The international community must put more pressure on the countries that are helping the dictator, and that’s the Russians and the Iranians. . . . I don’t think that’s going to happen. At least, it’s not going to happen now.”

Munif had a similarly dim view of the present but said his research gives him hope.

“The short term is very depressing,” he said. “I think we really need to focus on the long term.”

Munif is writing a book about the Syrian political resistance that is building a society underground — both figuratively and literally — to survive Assad’s brutal regime. He sees promise of a renewal of Syrian society in the efforts of everyday Syrians who have built hospitals, schools, Internet cafes, movie clubs, and even playgrounds beneath the rubble of their shattered cities.

Is it a book or a plan?

The old idea that dictators are all-powerful and cannot be toppled is dead in the Middle East of today, he said.

“It’s just a matter of time,” he said, “and people have learned a lot, and I think will be better prepared for the future.”


Has anyone told them Assad has won the war?

"The US doesn’t even care about Syria — but we keep the war going" by Stephen Kinzer April 12, 2018

During seven devastating years, war in Syria has killed at least 150,000 people, turned more than ten million into refugees, and reduced once-thriving towns and cities to rubble. Finally it is winding down. Syria now has a chance to begin rebuilding. The country can be reunited, its economy can start to function again, and a measure of political stability can return. None of that, however, is likely to happen. American military and security planers are determined to prevent it as long as President Bashar al-Assad is in power. The specter of a peaceful and prosperous Syria under Assad’s leadership terrifies them. They believe that until he is gone, it is in America’s interest to keep Syria divided, unstable and impoverished.

Much of Syria’s water, much of its oil, and much of its best agricultural land lie in regions controlled by US-backed rebel factions. This gives the Americans a magnificent opportunity. We could encourage our Kurdish allies and other rebel groups to negotiate a peace accord with Assad, who seems likely to remain in power for years to come. That would lay the foundation for a stable Syria—which is why we are unlikely do it.

That explains so much -- especially the position of the Middle East Institute!

According to the logic behind American strategy in the Middle East — and the rest of the world — one of our principal goals should be to prevent peace or prosperity from breaking out in countries whose governments are unfriendly to us. That outcome in Syria would have results we consider intolerable. First, it would signal final victory for the Assad government, which we deluded ourselves into thinking we could crush. Second, it would allow Russia, which has been Assad’s ally, to maintain its influence in Syria. Most frighteningly, it might allow stability to spread to nearby countries. Today, for the first time in modern history, the governments of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Lebanon are on good terms. A partnership among them could lay the foundation for a new Middle East. That new Middle East, however, would not be submissive to the United States-Israel-Saudi Arabia coalition. For that reason, we are determined to prevent it from emerging. Better to keep these countries in misery and conflict, some reason, than to allow them to thrive while they defy the United States.

War in Syria began as civil conflict — a dispute among Syrians. Soon after it turned violent, outside powers rushed in. Iran and Russia sided with the government. The United States supported rebel groups, including several that were part of the Al Qaeda and Nusra Front terror networks. Turkey also sent weapons to terror groups, but then changed course, became friendlier to the Assad government, and turned its fire on the Kurds. Syria has become an arena for big-power conflict. It can no longer shape its own fate.

At least he admits the terrorists are created, funded, and directed by the U.S. and its allies.

The United States is hardly the only outside power that is more interested in scoring points against perceived rivals in Syria than in stopping bloodshed. But our role is now crucial because our sway over mostly-defeated rebel groups allows us to push them toward either war or peace. From Washington’s perspective, peace in Syria is the horror scenario. Peace would mean what the United States sees as a “win” for our enemies: Russia, Iran, and the Assad government. We are determined to prevent that, regardless of the human cost.

Governments often make strategic calculations that place their own geopolitical interest ahead of humanitarian concerns. In this case, though, our determination that Syria not be stabilized under its present government is shortsighted. Stability in the Middle East is in our long-term interest. If we promote policies that allow strong middle classes to grow in Syria and nearby countries, those countries will be less warlike, and may even evolve toward democracy. The strategy we are pursuing will have the opposite effect. Poverty — not ideology or religion — is the main force driving young men into the ranks of terror groups. By keeping Syria poor, we provide those groups with an endless supply of recruits.

Why would this government that has presided over soaring wealth inequality at home want to bring egalitarian economics to the rest of the world?

In Washington, this is considered an acceptable price to pay in order to prevent our rivals from racking up a “win.” In fact, though, our national security does not depend on how much influence various countries have in the Middle East. We wildly exaggerate that region’s importance. Our security will not be decisively affected by whether or not a gas pipeline is built from Iran to Syria’s Mediterranean coast, or how the political jousting between Iran and Saudi Arabia unfolds. These are Middle East issues and should be resolved by the people and governments of that region.

That and the land bridge from Beirut to Tehran.

President Trump has declared repeatedly in recent weeks that he wants to pull American troops out of Syria. “We’re going to be coming out of there real soon,” he told a rally in Ohio. Later he trenchantly assessed the balance of our 21st-century misadventure in the Middle East. “Seven trillion dollars over a 17-year period,” he said. “We have nothing — nothing except death and destruction. It’s a horrible thing.”

Yeah, the timing of that alleged gas attack really stinks.

Trump’s instinct is based on common sense. That same instinct led him to declare that he would pull troops out of Afghanistan — until his generals persuaded him to send more instead.

And that guy was fired.

The security imperatives that keep us in Syria are fantasies of fevered military minds. We should stop trying to turn Syria into an American protectorate, and look for ways to withdraw our troops rather than justifications to keep them there forever.


He's fine as far as he goes; however, he never mentions is the reason we are there: the Zionist Lobby and Israel.


And after all that:

"In the era of Donald Trump, New England’s biggest GOP donor is funding Democrats" by Annie Linskey Globe Staff  April 15, 2018

Boston hedge fund billionaire Seth Klarman lavished more than $7 million on Republican candidates and political committees during the Obama administration, using his fortune to help underwrite a GOP takeover of the federal government, but the rise of Donald Trump shocked and dismayed Klarman, as did the timid response from the Republican-controlled House and Senate, which have acquiesced rather than challenge the president’s erratic and divisive ways.

So, in an astonishing flip, Klarman, at one point New England’s most generous donor to Republicans, is taking his money elsewhere: He’s heaping cash on Democrats. Klarman, in a prepared statement to the Globe, said, “For the good of the country, the Democrats must take back one or both houses of Congress.”

Klarman said he’s financing his new political donations using his share of the $1.5 trillion tax cut Trump signed into law late last year.

That's rather ironic, and he's pushing issues like gun control, the environment, and the rule of law.

Many traditional Republican donors have privately expressed concern over Trump and the direction he’s taking the country, yet they’ve largely decided to keep their views quiet and their giving patterns unchanged. Some want to work with the administration on some pet issues, or they fear antagonizing the president. But as Trump has become increasingly isolated and unpredictable, chatter about defection is growing.

See #160 in your program.

“These guys, a lot of them, are fiscal conservatives, and the only thing they see coming out of Trump is the daily crazy tweets,” said Rick Wilson, a Florida Republican who does not support Trump. “The contempt for him is profound among the donor community.”

Then he must be doing something right.

It will be hard to know if Klarman, in his dramatic shift, is an outlier or part of a larger trend until more federal campaign contribution data become public in coming months.

Libertarian billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, whose millions have financed much of the rising influence of the far right in the GOP party structure, occasionally issue statements criticizing Trump on particular issues where he is not in line with their philosophy, but thus far, they have continued to financially support the Republicans who back Trump.

I don't understand what they are talking about.

Klarman has never identified as a Republican, and is a registered independent, but his support for small government and bolstering the military has put his philosophy in line with Republicans in recent years.

Klarman’s money comes from investing. He’s the CEO of Boston’s Baupost Group, a hedge fund with $30 billion in assets that is run from his 17th-floor office in the Back Bay. The firm specializes in value investments — snatching up shares of underperforming companies with an expectation that they’ll do better in the long term.

That has included buying up Puerto Rican debt, which has prompted an outcry at Harvard University, including organized protests at a speech Klarman recently gave at the business school. About $2 billion of Harvard’s $37 billion endowment was invested with Baupost-controlled funds as of January of this year, according to Hedge Clippers, a New York group that scrutinizes hedge funds. 

He is one of the creditors that insisted they get paid in full as the island was in shambles?

Though Klarman isn’t well known outside finance circles, in part because he almost never gives on-the-record interviews, he has a dedicated following among top investors.

The Economist has nicknamed him “the oracle of Boston,” putting him in the same elite class as investor Warren Buffett. And his currently out-of-print book, “Margin of Safety: Risk-Averse Value Investing Strategies for the Thoughtful Investor,” was selling for $873 on Amazon last week. Because of the steep price, some investment shops pass Xerox copies of the manual from staffer to staffer.

And he is the Democratic $avior!

Klarman also is a part owner of the Fenway Sports Group, the Boston Red Sox parent company that is led by principal owner John Henry. Henry is also owner and publisher of The Boston Globe.


How ince$tuous!

Trump was never Klarman’s candidate. Klarman wrote six-figure checks during the 2016 campaign to super PACs supporting then-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. There are no federal limits restricting giving to super PACs.

Once Trump became the party’s nominee, Klarman donated $5,400, then the federal maximum, to Hillary Clinton.

After Trump prevailed in November, Klarman included a lengthy screed against the new president in his annual letter to investors.

“Personally, I’m troubled by Trump,” he wrote in a January 2017 letter to investors, that was first reported by The New York Times. “I’ve taken the view that each of us can be bystanders, or we can become upstanders. I choose to be an upstander.”

So do I.

He started his larger shift in giving early in 2017, giving to support Democrat Jon Ossoff, who ran unsuccessfully in a June special election to fill a vacant House seat in Georgia. He also backed Doug Jones, the Democrat who won a special Senate election in Alabama after his Republican opponent was accused of assault by multiple women.

He also sent about $34,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which is aimed at electing a majority of Democrats to the House of Representatives. For context, in 2016, Klarman gave nearly $200,000 to the Republican National Campaign Committee, which is geared toward electing Republicans, and none to the comparable Democratic committees.

His philosophy, as gleaned from his recent letters to investors, is more focused on finding ways to check Trump than a wholesale embrace of the Democratic Party.

“Democracies are fragile and cannot be taken for granted,” Klarman wrote to investors in the January 2017 letter. “Democratic norms are crucial for the perpetuation of democracy. Political stability depends on the rule of law and adherence to precedent.”

He kept up the drumbeat this year. “Governing is not a joke or a farce, and it is certainly not a reality show,” Klarman wrote in his more recent letter wrapping up 2017, portions of which were obtained by the Globe and haven’t been previously reported. “Tragically, Donald Trump has displayed few of the character traits required in a US president, and no aptitude for or interest in developing them.”

Related: ‘‘I think the president has come to realize that we have a Constitution and a Supreme Court.’’

I guess he is all of a sudden reasonable when he backslides on immigration -- because ‘‘his hands are tied’’ -- and yet some people are still unhappy with him.

He is particularly concerned about Trump’s attack on institutions that are fundaments of democracy, like a free press, an independent judiciary, the legitimacy of elections, and the importance of honesty.


This includes a gift to United to Protect Democracy, a newly formed organization led by former Obama administration aides, which funds legal battles related to perceived presidential overreach. Part of that effort involved filing a brief expressing concern that Trump’s dislike for CNN is motivating his Justice Department to block a merger between AT&T and Time Warner., CNN’s parent.

They keep turning up like a bad penny.

“Many say reflexively that America and its institutions are strong, so strong that they will survive a Trump presidency. And they probably will,” Klarman wrote in his 2017 year-end letter. “But democracy must never be taken for granted.”



Fragments of tragedy, and of our best selves


Tight security set for Boston Marathon, officials say

They “anticipate a great day,’’ but not in Yarmouth.

Heading to the Marathon? Leave these things at home

Make sure you read the fine print.

Five years later, we feel the grief like a sixth sense

Maybe you should choose not to run

Don't bring a bicycle, either, kids.


"Tens of thousands of antigovernment protesters marched Saturday in the Hungarian capital, demanding a new election and a new electoral system. Prime Minister Viktor Orban was reelected for a fourth term last week and his right-wing populist Fidesz party won a supermajority in the national assembly. Opposition supporters are upset that electoral rules gave Orban’s party such a large majority when it won only about 50 percent of the vote (AP)."

I see the hand of $oro$.

"Militants wearing explosive belts blew themselves up Saturday as they tried to infiltrate a military base in Egypt’s central Sinai, killing eight soldiers and wounding 15 others. The clashes at dawn left 14 militants dead. The assailants were armed with rifles and grenades, according to the military. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but it bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State (AP)."


"A lawmaker from India’s ruling Hindu nationalist party was arrested on a charge of abducting and raping a teenage girl last year. Kuldeep Singh Sengar was arrested Friday by authorities in Lucknow, the capital of northern Uttar Pradesh state. He denies the allegation. The teen also accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party of shielding the lawmaker (AP)."

The beginning of India's #MeToo movement?

"At least four children were killed after a rocket fired by an insurgent hit their house in southern Helmand province. Another child was wounded in the attack Friday night in the Nad Ali district. No one claimed responsibility, but Taliban insurgents are in control of most of Helmand districts. In Fallujah province on Friday, two police officers were killed after insurgents attacked their checkpoint (AP)."

Who would want to claim responsibility for that?


I asked where the Globe would place the gun rights marches in contrast with the bullhorn they gave the kids, and the result left me speechless.

Page A10:

"Gun rights advocates rally at state capitols across US" by Randall Chase Associated Press  April 14, 2018

DOVER, Del. — Gun rights supporters — many carrying rifles and ammunition — gathered at state capitols across the country on Saturday to push back against efforts to pass stricter gun control laws that they fear threaten their constitutional right to bear arms.

From Boston to Wyoming, hundreds gathered at peaceful protests to listen to speakers who warned that any restrictions on gun ownership or use eventually could lead to a ban on gun ownership, which is guaranteed under the Second Amendment.

‘‘If you have a building and you take a brick out every so often, after a while you’re not going to have a building,’’ said Westley Williams, who carried an AR-15 rifle as he joined about 100 people in blustery weather in Cheyenne, Wyo., for a gun-rights rally in front of the state Supreme Court building.

Saturday’s protests were planned in dozens of state capitols less than three weeks after hundreds of thousands of people marched in Washington, New York, and other cities to demand tougher gun laws after the February school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17.

Organizers of those protests demanded a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and called for universal background checks on potential gun owners.

In Boston, 75 progun activists gathered on the steps of the State House on Saturday afternoon in a show of solidarity on gun rights.

Members of the Massachusetts chapter of the Three Percenters, a national gun-rights movement, made up about two-thirds of the demonstrators who turned out in Boston. The group gets it name from the percentage of Colonists who joined the Continental Army during the American Revolution.

As opposed to the Two Percenters of Zionism.

The Boston rally had no set program, and some attendees seemed confused by the lack of organization. The crowd dispersed after about two hours.

Proof it was a real, grass roots protest and not some controlled opposition effort.

During an Atlanta rally, more than a quarter of the 180 participants carried weapons, as well as flags and signs saying ‘‘Don’t Tread on Me’’ as they listened to speakers talk about the right to bear arms.

A few people wearing ‘‘Black Lives Matter’’ T-shirts showed up at the Atlanta rally and made videos, but didn’t interact with the participants.

Dave Gulya, one of the organizers of a rally in Augusta, Maine, said about 800 people turned out there to make the point that ‘‘we are law-abiding.’’

The coalition behind the rallies describes itself as a collection of patriotic groups that ‘‘come from all walks of life, including Three Percent groups and local militias.’’

The Three Percent movement is made up of groups who vow to resist any government that infringes on the US Constitution.

Such groups generally lack the following of more mainstream Second Amendment advocates, such as the National Rifle Association.

A group called the National Constitutional Coalition of Patriotic Americans spread word of the rallies on social media.....


The chief public defender in Broward County, the scene of the Feb. 14 mass shooting in Florida, is Howard Finkelstein?

"A 19-member legislative committee on Friday recommended passage of a bill in Massachusetts that would authorize courts to prevent people from owning guns if they are deemed dangerous. “It is abundantly clear that the people want their legislators to create a meaningful mechanism for intervention when a gun owner is determined to pose an extreme risk to themselves or others. We look forward to continuing to work with state legislators to move this bill forward to a House vote in the coming weeks,” coalition cochairwoman Janet Goldenberg said in a statement. The extreme risk protection order bill gained momentum after the February school shooting in Parkland, Fla......" 

I'm told there was "no dissent."

Right next to them was a photo that has been banished down the memory hole with this caption: 

"Demonstrators gathered Saturday on Cambridge Common to urge repeal of the tax overhaul that was successfully pushed through by Republicans in Washington (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)."

One of the posters says "17 years of war$ on borrowed $" with a creature that looks like an orc behind it.

What other protests are they missing?

"William Gross, Superintendent-in-chief for the Boston Police Department, said he hopes King’s words remain a guiding force. “It is instrumental that we still live by those words,” he said. “If people didn’t exercise their First Amendment rights to protest, I wouldn’t be here as the first African-American chief, and... I think that’s in the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, sending the message that racial inequality, prejudice, injustices won’t be tolerated.”

Tell it to Gaza and the Uber driver.

"In his speech, King spoke of the vast economic disparity between whites and blacks, a gulf that persists today, said former city councilor and mayoral candidate Tito Jackson. “In a city that a white family is worth $247,500 and a black family is worth $8, we have to have that conversation,” he said. Children who read King’s speech came from across the Boston area. Destiny Hartgrove, a 9-year-old from Randolph, was chosen because she often speaks before her church. Even though it was a big crowd, she wasn’t nervous. She had her church friends there with her, she said. “Dr. Martin Luther King is the best man around because he helped civil rights,” she said. “He’s a really cool man.”

Which speech was that?

At MLK event, Holder says age of bullies, bigots not fully over 

Says he is targeting bias, and this is the same guy who spied on reporters and jailed a couple while investigating whistleblower leaks? The name Chelsea Manning ring a bell? 

"MLK honored as thousands march to ‘keep the dream going’" by Errin Haines Whack, Adrian Sainz and Kate Brumback Associated Press  April 04, 2018

MEMPHIS — Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the ‘‘apostle of nonviolence’’ silenced by an assassin 50 years ago, was gunned down on the balcony of the old Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968. He was 39.

Small-time criminal James Earl Ray pleaded guilty to the killing and quickly recanted, claiming he was set up. The conviction stood, and Ray died in prison in 1998.

The pre$$ isn't interested in investigating any further, even now.

Marking the anniversary of the assassination, President Trump issued a proclamation in honor of the slain leader.

The president has been the target of veiled criticism by some speakers at King commemorations in recent days as they complained of fraught race relations and other divisions since he was elected.

The problems of race and division predate him.

Observances marking King’s death were planned coast-to-coast. In New York, the Dance Theatre of Harlem planned an evening performance in his honor. Another march was scheduled in Yakima, Wash.

In Montgomery, Ala., where King first gained notice leading a boycott against segregated city buses, a commemorative event brought a symbol of transformation: The daughter of King’s one-time nemesis, segregationist Governor George C. Wallace, paid tribute to the slain civil rights leader.

Before the Memphis march, the rapper Common and pop singer Sheila E had the crowd dancing and bobbing their heads.....

He's been turned into an excuse for entertainment?


Atlanta marks 50 years since King’s funeral services

This is as close as they get to his antiwar stance:

"King had envisioned the Poor People’s Campaign in Washington as a way to speak out against economic injustice, as he shifted his focus from civil rights to human rightsBut...."

That's as close as they get to any antiwar sentiment as his name and legacy have been usurped.

Also see:

Baseball glove once used by Barack Obama

So what else is new?

Yawkey Way name change decision is postponed 

City panel delays vote Yawkey Way name change at request of Red Sox

What would Jackie Robinson have thought?

Red Sox Nation, let’s stand up and lead again.”

I wouldn't travel there if I were you.

"Lawyers lure women into often-unneeded surgery" by Matthew Goldstein New York Times  April 14, 2018

NEW YORK — Jerri Plummer was at home in Arkansas, watching television with her three children, when a stranger called to warn that her life was in danger.

The caller identified herself only as Yolanda. She told Plummer that the vaginal mesh implant supporting her bladder was defective and needed to be removed. If Plummer didn’t act quickly, the caller urged, she might die.

Plummer, 49, didn’t ask many questions. Her implant was causing her discomfort, and she was impressed by how much Yolanda knew about her medical history. She was scared.

At least Cambridge Analytica didn't harvest her Facebook profile.

“It was like I had a ticking time bomb inside of me,” she said. Yolanda assured Plummer that all her expenses would be covered and that she would be set up with a lawyer to help her sue the mesh manufacturer, Boston Scientific.

I'm not liking where this is going.

Days later, court records show, Plummer was lying on an operating table in a medical office in a shopping mall in Orlando, Fla.

Better than being in a gay night club, I guess.

Just like that, she had stumbled into a burgeoning industry that makes money by coaxing women into having surgery — sometimes unnecessarily — so they can then be plaintiffs in lucrative lawsuits against medical device manufacturers.

Lawyers building such cases sometimes turn to marketing firms to drum up clients. The marketers turn to finance companies to provide high-interest loans to the clients that have to be repaid only if the clients receive money from the case.

Those loans are then used to pay for surgery performed by doctors who are often lined up by the marketers.

Interviews with dozens of patients, lawyers, finance executives, and marketers, as well as a review of court records and confidential documents, indicate that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of women have been sucked into this assembly line-like system. It is fueled by banks, private equity firms, and hedge funds, which provide financial backing.


All I can think of is all the lawyer TV ads that run during the day regarding vaginal mesh. If you are having problems, call.

The profits are immense. So are the costs to women. Some suffer physical problems from the surgery. Others say they have become depressed or unable to work. Still others have to get mesh reinserted.

Plummer’s brush with the industry left her incontinent.

The industry of providing financing to law firms involved in litigation is not new. In recent years, it has expanded into a diverse array of businesses. Many companies, such as an outfit in New York City named Law Cash, have popped up to provide up-front cash to plaintiffs hoping for big legal settlements.

The litigation surrounding mesh implants is a profitable niche. These mass tort cases, some of which began six years ago when problems with the implants started to arise, encompass claims brought by tens of thousands of women who say they were harmed by the products.

Millions of women worldwide received mesh implants. They are used to correct a condition called pelvic organ prolapse, which occurs when a woman’s organs fall and press against her vagina because of weakened pelvic muscles. That causes urinary and other problems. The mesh reinforces the pelvic wall.

But many women have complained that the implants cause problems such as bleeding and discomfort during sex.

Litigation against the implants’ manufacturers, including Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson, proliferated. There are more than 100,000 plaintiffs in federal court alone. Many more are involved in litigation at the state level or outside the United States.

Aren't they in trouble for cancer-causing talcum powder?

Representatives of Boston Scientific and Johnson & Johnson say they stand by the quality of their products. The mesh manufacturers have set aside more than $3 billion to cover potential mesh-related settlements.

Not all plaintiffs are equal. Some law firms — which are paid a percentage of any settlements — realized that women with the implants still in their bodies tended to receive smaller settlements than those who had them taken out.

“Defendants have offered next to nothing to settle cases involving mesh products that have not been removed,” Plummer’s lawyers at McSweeney Langevin, a small Minneapolis personal injury firm, wrote in a letter advising her to get the implant taken out.

Plaintiffs’ firms turned to marketers to recruit clients. Women with mesh implants soon started receiving unsolicited phone calls, some from overseas. They said they didn’t know how these marketers had found them and seemed to know their medical histories.

Women who took the marketing bait were connected to doctors willing to perform the mesh-removal surgery.....

Like you are $ome $ort of guinea pig.


Look on the bright side, you can always go to Argentina to get an abortion. 

Don't try to get one in Chile, though.

3 killed as storm blasts nation with snow, ice, and wind

So much for ‘fact-based governance.’ 

Still working on what is going on in Gaza, and I have yet to see a moralizing Globe editorial about it


"A memorial in a remote corner of Massachusetts that marks a 1969 UFO sighting has been ordered moved, but one man who experienced a close encounter is objecting. The 5,000-pound memorial in Sheffield was installed in 2015, but was moved about 30 feet a few weeks later when it was discovered it was on town land. Now, Sheffield Town Administrator Rhonda LaBombard tells The Berkshire Eagle it has to be moved again because it’s on a town right-of-way easement. That’s not sitting well with Thom Reed. He was 9 years old when he, his mother, grandmother and brother saw what he described as a “self-contained glow” that flooded their car with an amber light....."


"Art Bell, a radio host best known for a paranormal-themed nightly show syndicated on hundreds of stations in the 1990s, died at his home in southern Nevada, authorities said Saturday. Mr. Bell hosted the popular radio talk show ‘‘Coast to Coast AM’’ before he left the airwaves in 2002. The program focused on Mr. Bell’s conspiracy theories and his fascination with the paranormal and unexplained phenomena such as UFOs and crop circles....."

Looks like ‘Two Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ and I wonder what he had to say about Waco.

"Actress Asia Argento speaks at Harvard about Weinstein backlash" by Mark Shanahan Globe Staff   April 14, 2018

One of the first women to speak publicly about alleged abuse suffered at the hands of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein said there’s been a painful backlash, but she doesn’t regret coming forward.

Vaginal mesh?

Actress/director Asia Argento, who last fall told New Yorker writer Ronan Farrow that she’d been sexually assaulted by Weinstein in the 1990s, spoke about the fallout Friday, telling an audience at Harvard that she’s been mocked and humiliated in her native Italy since sharing her story.

“It was worse than the rape, the revictimization,” Argento said.

In part, she blames Farrow for “misrepresenting” and “simplifying” what happened to her, which has caused some in her country to question if she may have been complicit.

Argento said she received death threats — and a bullet in the mail — after the story was published, sending her into a months-long spiral of depression.

“But speaking to other victims, this is what saved me,” she said. “Talking to other women. It was like a spiritual moment, in the best sense.”

As personally difficult as it’s been, Argento said she is gratified to be a part — perhaps even the catalyst — of the MeToo movement. And she’s not going to let her critics intimidate her, or prevent her from supporting other women.

“The more I speak, the more they’re angry, and the more they’re angry, the more I have to continue speaking,” Argento said. “The reason why the movement started [in the States] is because people were ready for it. The door was ajar and we gave it a little push. In Italy, it’s impossible. There are 1,000 locks we have to break to open the door.”

Isn't that incitement?


At least you'll live longer, especially if you get married

That's the image the Globe wants to project.