Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Tuesday's Truths

I've been saying it for the last two days, and now comes confirmation:

"Armenian protests force leader to quit; Step may bring shift in nation’s links to Russia" by Amie Ferris-Rotman Washington Post  April 23, 2018

MOSCOW — Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan stepped down Monday amid large-scale protests against corruption and his expanded powers, a move that could alter the former Soviet republic’s reliance on Russia.

Antigovernment demonstrations erupted almost two weeks ago against the pro-Russian Sargsyan when he was appointed prime minister after a decade as president, part of a transition of governance that expanded the role of the prime minister.

The new government system effectively tightened Sargsyan’s grip over the country in the South Caucasus.

Sargsyan, 63, was quickly replaced Monday by his close ally, First Deputy Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan, who previously worked for Russian gas company Gazprom.

It seemed unlikely that the elevation of Karapetyan would placate the protesters, who oppose the ruling elite as a whole.

In this case, it's good protesters against the establishment.

Opposition lawmaker Nikol Pashinian told an evening rally of tens of thousands of people at Republic Square in Yerevan that opposition activists want to meet with Karapetian on Wednesday to discuss a ‘‘peaceful transfer of power,’’ the Associated Press reported.

The opposition will push for an early parliamentary election to prevent Sargsyan from running Armenia from behind the scenes, Pashinian said.

Sargsyan was president from 2008 until term limits forced him out in March. His political opponents accused him of changing the law so he could effectively retain power into a second decade.

The protests, which drew about 100,000 people at their peak, including unarmed soldiers and clergy, paralyzed the center of the capital, Yerevan, for 11 consecutive days. A rally Sunday attracted about 50,000 people, and about 200 soldiers joined the protesters Monday.

And I've only seen articles the last three days as coverage has increased. I not only smell an agenda-pushing attempt at a coup, I'm smelling CIA destabilization at the very minimum.

They were led by Pashinyan, who was arrested along with hundreds of protesters a day earlier and released just hours before Sargsyan resigned.

‘‘The street movement is against my tenure. I am fulfilling your demand,’’ Sargsyan wrote to his country’s citizens on his official website. ‘‘Nikol Pashinyan was right. I was wrong,’’ he wrote.

Upon hearing of his resignation, protesters in Yerevan shouted in jubilation, car horns honked, and Armenian news outlets showed pictures of men dancing in the streets.

Russia appeared to cautiously approve Sargsyan’s resignation. ‘‘Armenia, Russia is always with you!’’ Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote.

Under Sargsyan’s rule, Armenia bought weapons from Moscow and joined the Eurasian Economic Union, a Russian-backed economic bloc designed to deter neighbors from trading with Europe.

Joining Russia’s trade bloc four years ago failed to bring a promised economic boost to Armenia’s 3 million people, about a third of whom live below the poverty line.

Unlike popular movements in other prodemocracy revolutions in recent years in Ukraine and Georgia, the opposition in Armenia has not said it wishes to be allied with Europe. But that could change.

It's a replay of the Ukraine.


Looks like Macedonia is next, and here is a piece of gold: they aren't telling you, but the driver of the van was an Armenian in what was the Canadian version of “Pikeocalypse.” It's all over the front page, and his motive was what Shania Twain said about Trump.


"The war over Airbnb regulations in Boston keeps escalating" by Tim Logan and Milton Valencia Globe Staff  April 24, 2018

Airbnb’s salvo last week against City Councilor Michelle Wu for her stance on short-term rentals surprised many. Even in the sharp-elbowed world of Boston politics, public attacks by an out-of-town company on a city councilor are rare, but it popped the lid off the simmering debate over Airbnb’s future in Boston as the council and Mayor Martin J. Walsh try to hammer out rules to govern the booming short-term rental industry. At stake are hundreds of millions of dollars, with powerful interests on both sides.

For two months in public, and in two years of quiet meetings before that, a vast array of interests has been wrestling over an industry that’s changing the way people visit Boston and — some say — turning too much of the city’s scarce housing stock into hotels for out-of-towners. It had been a largely civil debate — at least compared to lawsuits and loud protests over similar issues in cities such as New York and Los Angeles — until last week. Then, industry giant Airbnb sent an e-mail to thousands of Boston customers blasting Wu — who has pushed for tougher restrictions over short-term rentals — and saying she is “aligned with big hotel interests against the interests of regular Bostonians.” 

You have to know how to talk to people.

The flare-up that followed, including frowns from City Hall and scathing criticism of Airbnb on social media, casts light on a debate with much at stake for the city and its property owners.

On one side are neighborhood groups, housing activists, and members of the city’s powerful hotel workers union, who generally advocate for tighter regulations. On the other side are Airbnb and its small army of “hosts,” along with a growing industry of short-term rental operators and service providers who worry they’ll be clobbered if the tougher rules on the table take effect.

In the middle sits Walsh and the City Council. There were standing-room-only hearings after Walsh filed new rules with the City Council in January. Unite Here Local 26, which represents hotel workers and had close ties to many city elected officials, brought its members out in force, but so did Airbnb, which encouraged hosts to come and talk about what renting on the service has meant for them.

Lesser-known — and less numerous — groups such as a coalition of short-term rental hosts have hired lobbyists and public relations experts to press their case. Even Stop Child Predators, a Washington, D.C.,-based group that lobbies for laws to protect against sex abuse, has been weighing in with press releases pushing tougher regulations, implying the risk unknown renters pose to neighbors.

Look at them pushing the fear there! A pervert is waiting to rent your kid a room!

Given the competing interests and complexities of regulating a new industry, Walsh pulled the bill before the Council voted on it, but his aides say he plans to file a new version soon.

Wu, meanwhile, called some of AirBnB’s claims “fake news,” and her supporters blasted the company for spreading misinformation to city residents.

There it is again!

This debate over short-term rentals has played out across the country as cities grapple with how to regulate the industry. Airbnb and the hotel industry have funded economic studies and fueled grass-roots political campaigns to push their vision of the industry’s future, and they have become experienced sparring partners, but every city has unique dynamics, said Will Burns, a former Chicago alderman who now directs public policy for Airbnb. That makes the rules, and the flavor of debate, a little different each time.

“It really depends on what city you’re in,” Burns said, noting that some cities are most worried about potential safety issues of short-term rentals, others quality of life, others housing supply. “All these cities have different concerns.”

In Boston, debate has centered largely on the impact short-term rentals are having on one of the nation’s priciest housing markets.....

Don't expect an oceanfront view.


I wouldn't expect much demand due to rising gas prices, and you may want to read the fine print on the lease.


Waffle House slaying suspect arrested after massive manhunt

He had exhibited delusional behavior for an extended time, including expressing a belief that entertainer Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone and Netflix account.

Hundreds mourn New Mexico woman killed in Southwest flight

National lynching memorial evokes terror of victims

Now H.W. Bush is in trouble.

"Clinton says free press is under ‘open assault’ in Trump era" Associated Press  April 23, 2018

NEW YORK — Hillary Clinton excoriated President Trump for his treatment of the media, saying in remarks on Sunday that press rights and free speech are ‘‘under open assault’’ in the current administration, which she compared to an authoritarian regime.

‘‘We are living through an all-out war on truth, facts and reason,’’ Clinton said at the PEN America World Voices Festival, in Manhattan.

For once I agree with her, but not in the way she thinks.

Clinton, who was delivering the festival’s Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture, began by discussing threats to press freedom and free speech around the globe, including in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, but she soon turned her remarks to the United States under Trump, saying that such freedoms are ‘‘in the most perilous position I've seen in my lifetime.’’

‘‘Today we have a president who seems to reject the role of a free press in our democracy,’’ she said of her 2016 opponent. ‘‘Although obsessed with his own press coverage, he evaluates it based not on whether it provides knowledge or understanding, but solely on whether the daily coverage helps him and hurts his opponents.’’

And she added: ‘‘Now, given his track record, is it any surprise that according to the latest round of revelations, he joked about throwing reporters in jail to make them talk?’’ The reference to revelations from memos by former FBI director James Comey was Clinton’s only reference to Comey, who was fired by Trump.

Please tell me she did not, NOT, cite the Comey memos. That thicket of obstruction and obfuscation on her behalf is the most powerful indictment one could have.

Beyond that, while Trump was joking the former AG under Obama, Eric Holder, actually did jail reporters to make them talk. He also used the law enforcement apparatus of this country to spy on them so he could discover their sources. He later apologized.

Of course, the same wheels of JU$TU$ were used to spy on the Trump campaign and transition team based on a piece of ridiculous political opposition research paid for by the Clintons and presented as legitimate by the FBI to get a FISA warrant. 

Might not want to call attention to such stuff.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Clinton’s remarks.....

Nor should they. The election is over, he is president, nothing is going to change it, and when is she and her ilk going to accept it and go away?


She fawns on the pre$$, and thus they look to rehabilitate her and keep her in the news.

Worrisome prediction about climate change may be coming true

Let me know when spring gets here, 'kay?

Rosenstein puts aside Russia inquiry to argue case at Supreme Court

Facebook now believes it has a responsibility over the content on its site, and said it already took action against fake ads (at the behest of Amazon). 

Cosby defense rests as sexual assault trial nears its end

I've already stopped paying attention.

"After late vote switch, Senate panel approves Pompeo for secretary of state" by Nicholas Fandos New York Times   April 24, 2018

WASHINGTON — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a late pivot Monday evening, approved the confirmation of Mike Pompeo to be the next secretary of state, after Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, bowed to pressure from President Trump and dropped his opposition.

For days, the committee appeared ready to deliver a historic rebuke. Since it began considering nominees in the late 19th century, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has never given a nominee for secretary of state anything but a favorable vote, according to the Senate historian.

It has been almost 30 years since any Cabinet nominee was reported to the full Senate with an unfavorable recommendation, but minutes before the committee convened, Paul, an ardent opponent of interventionist foreign policy, declared his support for Pompeo, the CIA director, to lead the State Department, securing approval from the committee.

“After calling continuously for weeks for Director Pompeo to support President Trump’s belief that the Iraq War was a mistake, and that it is time to leave Afghanistan, today I received confirmation that Director Pompeo agrees with President Trump,” Paul wrote.

“President Trump believes that Iraq was a mistake, that regime change has destabilized the region and that we must end our involvement with Afghanistan,’’ he said. “Having received assurances from President Trump and Director Pompeo that he agrees with the president on these important issues, I have decided to support his nomination.”

Can't end in involvement in Afghanistan, not yet. Must secure the elections(?).

Trump told reporters Monday afternoon that Paul has “never let us down” and that “he’s a good man.”

With two moderate Democrats signaling their support for Pompeo earlier Monday, the confirmation of the United States’ top diplomat by the full Senate this week was all but secured anyway.

Even Monday, it took a “present” vote by Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, to allow the nomination to move forward after Georgia Republican Johnny Isakson, a Pompeo supporter, failed to show up for the vote.

He didn't show up for an important vote like this?

Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, intends to move the full chamber to begin debate on Pompeo’s nomination as soon as Wednesday, with a final vote expected before senators leave Friday for a weeklong recess, but supporters of Pompeo feared that he would become the country’s 70th secretary of state with a bruised standing on the world stage after a Foreign Relations Committee rebuke.

I guess that means Kim Jong Un won the first round.

Also see: "China and North Korea share a lengthy border and a traditional friendship dating back to China’s military intervention on the side of the North in the Korean War. China remains Pyongyang’s largest trading partner, although commerce has dropped off by about 90 percent under United Nations sanctions. Thirty-two Chinese tourists and four North Koreans were killed late Sunday night in a traffic accident in North Korea, Chinese officials said Monday....."

The driver was stoned?

Related: "Vanguard Group amassed $5.2 trillion of client assets and revolutionized the US investment industry by offering low-cost funds to millions of Americans. Now it wants to do something similar in China, even if the strategy takes years to bear fruit....."

There ain't gonna be no war no more, there ain't gonna be no war!

“I understand the climate we are in. I understand the polarization we have as a nation,” Bob Corker of Tennessee, the committee’s chairman, said Monday. But Corker touted Pompeo as one of the most qualified secretaries of state in history, ticking through his resume.

That partisan environment had, in the end, provided Pompeo a lift. Democrats up for reelection in states Trump carried in the 2016 election broke the nominee’s way.

Senators Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and Joe Donnelly of Indiana pledged their support Monday, joining Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who declared her “yes” vote last week. Other endangered Democrats from Trump states are under pressure to also fall in line.

What happened to the blue wave?

Related"Americans overwhelmingly believe teachers don’t make enough money, and half say they would support paying higher taxes to give educators a raise. The findings of the new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research come amid recent teacher strikes and other protests over low pay, tough classroom conditions, and the amount of money allocated to public schools in several Republican-led states....." 

It's going to be teachers, the women, the gun control kids, and energized Democrats, blah, blah.

Paraguay a predictor of the fall?

"The son of a former dictator’s top aide won the presidential election in Paraguay on Sunday, helped by a booming economy under his party. Both candidates are conservatives, and the election was closer than the 20-point edge that opinion polls had given Abdo going into the election....."

Democrats to be left broken-hearted again?

On Monday, White House officials trained their fire on Senate Democrats, who they said are stonewalling the president’s nominees without good cause.

Trump, writing on Twitter, labeled those voting against Mr. Pompeo “Obstructionists” and said he needed more Republicans in office in their place.

Trump did not include Paul in his criticism. The president said last week that Paul was “very special guy” who had “never let me down.”

Committee Democrats stood by their opposition.....

Tim Kaine “doesn’t want to vote for people who are anti-diplomatic to be the nation’s chief diplomat.”

Isn't that a bit.... (gulp).... undiplomatic?



"Macron will urge Trump to keep Iran nuclear deal" by Peter Baker and Julie Hirschfeld Davis New York Times   April 24, 2018

President Trump, Melania Trump, Brigitte Macron, and French President Emmanuel Macron, arrived Monday for dinner at the estate of George Washington in Mount Vernon, Va, The Macrons will be feted with a state dinner on Tuesday.
President Trump, Melania Trump, Brigitte Macron, and French President Emmanuel Macron arrived Monday for dinner at the estate of George Washington in Mount Vernon, Va. The Macrons will be feted with a state dinner on Tuesday (Andrew Harrer/POOL/EPA/Shutterstock).

The photo is the same; however, my printed article (rewritten and reedited, of course) had the byline Darlene Superville and all the Globe got was a copy of the menu (when you consider the ages, shouldn't they swap wives?).

WASHINGTON — President Trump will come under increasing pressure from visiting French and German leaders this week not to scrap the nuclear agreement with Iran next month as US and European negotiators make halting progress toward toughening the limits on Tehran.

President Emmanuel Macron of France arrived Monday at the White House for the first state visit of Trump’s presidency, intent on using his unusual bond with the US president to try to persuade him to preserve the Iran deal, at least for now. While not as close personally to Trump, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany will follow Friday to reinforce the message.

The back-to-back visits come weeks before a May 12 deadline set by Trump to “fix” the Iran agreement or walk away from it. Under the agreement, signed in 2015 by Barack Obama, Iran has curbed its nuclear program in exchange for relief from crippling international sanctions, but Trump and other critics have assailed it because it begins to expire after a decade and does not block Iran’s missile development or stop it from destabilizing the region.

In recent weeks, US and European negotiators have generally come to a shared position on measures to constrain Iran’s ballistic missile program, according to people briefed on the talks, but negotiators remain divided over how to extend the restrictions of the original agreement that otherwise will lapse starting in 2025.

The Europeans want assurances that if a supplemental agreement is reached, the United States will stay in the deal — a hard commitment for US officials to make given Trump’s mercurial nature, but European leaders hope they can persuade him to hold off by showing enough progress in negotiations that he can claim he is making the deal better.

“I suspect that this will be a very difficult conversation,” said Wendy R. Sherman, the former top State Department official who negotiated the Iran deal for Obama. “I’m sure that Macron will say how important staying in the deal is to a strong trans-Atlantic relationship in all things, particularly security. I think Merkel will deliver the same message on Friday.”

Even so, the White House signaled Monday that Trump enters the talks with one set impression: “He thinks it’s a bad deal — that certainly has not changed,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.

If Macron and Merkel can persuade Trump to stick by the Iran agreement for now, it could influence the president’s forthcoming meeting with Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader who already has a small nuclear arsenal. Whatever its flaws, US officials understand that canceling the Iran deal days or weeks before that meeting might complicate Trump’s chances of making an agreement with Kim.

If he bails on Iran, the meeting should be called off. It would mean the U.S. president's signature on an internationally-negotiated deal is worthless. Why would Kim bother talking to him then?

Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, implicitly made that point Monday by noting that the negotiations that led to the nuclear agreement between his country and six world powers involved give and take by all sides.

“And now the United States is saying, ‘What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable. But whatever I gave you, now I want it back,’ ” Zarif said in an interview with The National Interest, a Washington policy magazine. “Who would, in their right mind, deal with the US anymore?”


Trump faces conflicting positions among his own advisers as he reconstitutes his national security team. John R. Bolton, his new national security adviser, has long advocated simply ending the Iran deal, while Mike Pompeo, set to become secretary of state, is open to keeping it if strong new provisions can be negotiated.

He may need to scrap it to keep the dogs at bay, if you know what I mean.

Macron arrived in Washington to a festive welcome: US and French flags flew on Pennsylvania Avenue as he and his wife, Brigitte Macron, arrived at the White House and were greeted by Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump. The Macrons will return to the White House on Tuesday morning for a pomp-filled arrival ceremony on the South Lawn, complete with members of all five branches of the military in formal uniforms. The presidents will hold meetings and conduct a joint news conference. In the evening, the Trumps will host their first state dinner, featuring rack of spring lamb and Carolina gold rice jambalaya cooked New Orleans style.

I'm glad they are eating good.

Trump, 71, and Macron, 40, have forged an unlikely friendship, despite their political differences over the Iran deal, international trade, climate change, and other issues, but while Europeans consider Macron their envoy to Trump, he has had mixed success influencing the president. The leaders teamed up to launch airstrikes against Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack, but when Macron publicly said he had persuaded Trump to keep US troops in the country “for the long term,” the White House quickly rebutted him.

The negotiations with European officials, led by Brian Hook, the State Department’s director of policy planning, have found some common ground, according to people briefed on the talks.

Negotiators have agreed on measures to impose sanctions on Iran if it tests long-range missiles, but are still divided on how to respond to testing of short- and medium-range missiles. They have agreed that Iran would be sanctioned if it blocks international nuclear inspectors from military sites. And they have made progress in defining a trigger for reimposing sanctions — if Iran were found to have expanded its nuclear program enough to allow it to develop a weapon in less than a year, but negotiators are divided over what would happen then. The Trump administration wants sanctions to be imposed automatically if Iran trips that wire, while the Europeans want a reassessment to determine whether the expansion is consistent with Iran’s civilian nuclear program.


Did they ask Macron about the police shooting in Paris?


"Hundreds of ISIS militants are holed up in Hajar al-Aswad and Yarmouk, a Palestinian refugee camp that resembles a residential neighborhood. Rebels from other factions hold the nearby suburbs of Yalda, Babila, and Beit Sahem. ISIS agreed to give up its last pocket of Damascus on Friday but has yet to begin surrendering to government forces and relocating to ISIS-held areas elsewhere in the country....."

Holding there positions until the Saudi-sponsored and trained force takes over? 

Here is a preview:

"Saudi-led airstrike at Yemen wedding killed at least 20" Associated Press  April 24, 2018

SANA, Yemen — An airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition hit a wedding party in northern Yemen, killing at least 20 people, health officials said Monday.

Harrowing images emerged on social media of the deadly bombing, the third to hit Yemeni civilians since the weekend.

Khaled al-Nadhri, the top health official in the northern province of Hajja, said most of the dead were women and children who were gathered in one of the tents set up for the wedding party in the Bani Qayis district. He said the bride was also among the dead.

A Saudi-led coalition has been battling Iran-allied Shi’ite rebels known as Houthis since 2015 in a stalemated war that has killed more than 10,000 people.

Later Monday, the rebels said that the official considered the head of state for the territories under their control was killed in a coalition airstrike. The rebels’ Supreme Political Council said Saleh al-Samad was killed in the coastal Hodeida province on Thursday.

‘‘We consider the so-called forces of aggression, especially America and Saudi Arabia, responsible for killing of Samad and all the consequences of this crime,’’ Abdul-Malek al-Houthi, the leader of the rebels, said.

He said Samad was killed on a road with six companions after meeting with local officials. Mahdi al-Mashat, a former fighter who until now directed al-Houthi’s office, was elected as the group’s successor.

Made you forget all about the weddings, didn't it?


And Trump is indifferent to it.

"Russian says secret Cold War lab developed poison used in England" by Vladimir Isachenkov Associated Press  April 23, 2018

MOSCOW — Kremlin leaders and the military were ambivalent about the chemical weapons program and eventually came to see it as burdensome and costly, and the Soviet Union’s collapse could have led to the lethal poisons falling into the hand of unscrupulous persons.

Russia has argued that the United States, Britain, and other Western countries acquired the expertise to make the nerve agent after the Soviet collapse. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an international watchdog group that analyzed samples in the Skripals’ poisoning, confirmed British conclusions about the identity of the toxic chemical but not its origin.

Vladimir Uglev, the 71-year-old former researcher, and Leonid Rink, another top scientist in the Soviet program, had conflicting theories. While Uglev said the nerve agent could have come directly from Russia, Rink echoed the Kremlin line, alleging that British intelligence might have used a less-lethal substance and then faked the evidence to implicate Russia. Britain has denied that. 

That is looking like the likely scenario here. They traced it to a Vertex lab, because the royal family may be in danger.

Both scientists agreed, however, that it might never be possible to determine the nerve agent’s source.

There you go!

The Skripals’ improved health indicates they only got a minuscule dose and might have mitigated its effect by washing their hands, Uglev said.

Or it wasn't even what they are saying it was.

The Soviet program to design a new generation of chemical weapons began in the 1970s to counter the United States, Uglev said. The Soviets wanted the equivalent of US binary weapons — nerve agents made up of relatively harmless components that turned deadly when mixed.

The main research lab was in Shikhany, a town in southwestern Russia that the KGB sealed off to outside visitors. The research was dangerous: Contact with just a few milligrams — the weight of a snowflake — were enough to kill within minutes. Uglev recalled once getting a tiny amount of a Novichok-class agent on his hand. ‘‘I rinsed my hands with sulfuric acid and then put them under tap water,’’ he said, adding it was the only way to survive.

Another researcher who was contaminated in 1987 died of multiple illnesses five years later. By the end of the 1980s, scientists developed a host of nerve agents and various precursors for binary weapons that the military collectively dubbed ‘‘Novichok,’’ which means ‘‘newcomer,’’ but the effort was only partly successful, Uglev said. While some nerve agents were deadlier than the US equivalents, the main goal of developing feasible binary weapons wasn’t achieved, he said.

And although Soviet leaders wanted to counter the Americans, they weren’t enthusiastic about chemical weapons in general, seeing them as excessive, when compared with Moscow’s massive nuclear arsenal.

When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in 1985, his reforms and closer ties with the West led to cuts in many military programs and arms control agreements. The Novichok-class agents were only only in lab quantities and never entered mass production, Uglev and Rink said.

Uglev estimated that 200 pounds were made for research and military testing. Samples were shared with other Soviet labs, and Rink said some could have ended up abroad after the Soviet Union’s demise.

Russia joined a treaty banning chemical weapons and said last year it had fully destroyed its Soviet chemical arsenals under foreign oversight.

That was the OPCW with beaming smiles.

Rink, who worked in Shikhany until 1997, said US experts made sure that even small quantities of military-grade nerve agents and their precursors were destroyed. The United States, however, couldn’t prevent the expertise from spreading.....


They never mentioned the Swiss lab finding the BZ.

Oh, there are still those who believe in make believe!


State Police payroll head struggled with debt before alleged theft began

Not to excuse her theft, but all the guys who resigned, etc, over the altered arrest reports or those caught pocketing overtime they never worked, there are no charges and they are picking up pensions. I wouldn't blame her for screaming sexism.

Supreme Court hears case involving Brazilian immigrant who lives on Martha’s Vineyard

I'm sure they will strike it down.

Senate pays $230,000 to firm investigating former president Stanley Rosenberg

Mu$t be the going rate.

Democrats challenge Charlie Baker’s record on environment

That's their road map to winning office

Looks like we are staying red.

"Prosecutors have dismissed the four most serious charges against a teenager accused of plotting to shoot up his former Vermont high school and cause mass casualties in a case that has led to new restrictions in the state's gun laws. A ruling by the state Supreme Court has made the prosecution against 18-year-old Jack Sawyer "untenable," Rutland County State's Attorney Rose Kennedy said. The state was dismissing charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault with a weapon, Kennedy said in a notice released Monday. Kennedy said she would proceed with two lesser charges of criminal threatening and carrying a dangerous weapon. Sawyer has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He had been held without bail following his arrest on Feb. 15, a day after the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting massacre that killed 17 people, but the judge in his case set his bail at $100,000 last week. Prosecutors say Sawyer kept a diary called "The Journal of an Active Shooter" in which he made detailed plans for a shooting at Fair Haven Union High School, in Fair Haven, and said his goal was to kill more people than in any other school shooting. Authorities were alerted by a friend of Sawyer's, who turned over some Facebook messages in which Sawyer outlined the plot. Sawyer's defense team contended that he didn't take any concrete steps toward committing a crime that under state law would justify the charges. While Sawyer had moved from Maine back to Poultney and had bought a shotgun and ammunition as part of his planning he had not visited his former high school or even visited the town where it's located. The Supreme Court ruled that "preparation alone" did not prove an attempt at aggravated murder so he could not be kept in jail without bail..... (AP)."

Just stay off the playground.

"A wedding reception at a New Hampshire hall has turned chaotic, with gunshots fired and a deliberate car crash outside. The Concord Monitor reports police officers arriving at the Bektash Temple in Concord on Sunday found numerous fights breaking out among more than 300 people attending the reception. Police say shots were fired and someone intentionally crashed a car into another vehicle as it tried to leave the scene. Police say no one was hurt by the gunfire but one person was injured in the car crash. Four men from Tennessee, Ohio and Pennsylvania have been arrested and charged with felony riot. Two of the four also have been charged with reckless conduct with a firearm."

It sure didn't make the headlines like what happened in Canada and Tennessee; however, sometimes the supremacism alerts you to things you wouldn't have otherwise seen. 

How ironic is the above, huh?

A mom is stabbed to death in Maine.

Her son and 2 teens from Ashland are accused of killing her because the teen was resentful of the move to Maine and wanted to go back to Massachusetts.

May God have mercy on their souls.


"US softens stance on Rusal sanctions; aluminum plunges" by Jack Farchy, Yuliya Fedorinova and Saleha Mohsin Bloomberg News  April 23, 2018

LONDON — The US softened its position on sanctions against Russian metals giant United Co. Rusal, sparking a record plunge in aluminum prices.

Sort of puts all the phony bulloney to the war drumming, huh?

For the first time, the US Treasury discussed a path for lifting the sanctions on Rusal, saying it would provide relief if Oleg Deripaska relinquished control. It also extended the deadline for companies to wind down dealings with the Russian aluminum producer by almost five months.

So the U.S. government is attempting to dictate who runs the Russian metals company?

Rusal petitioned to be removed from the sanctions list and Treasury granted the extension while it considers the appeal, according to a statement from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “Rusal has felt the impact of US sanctions because of its entanglement with Oleg Deripaska, but the US government is not targeting the hard-working people who depend on Rusal and its subsidiaries,” Mnuchin said. Aluminum plunged in response as traders speculated that supply disruptions could ease.

Washington’s clarification follows two weeks of chaos in global metal markets. Aluminum shot to multiyear highs as manufacturers raced to secure supply. A German lobbying group said European plants may be forced to close and carmakers could face supply shortages.

Rusal’s wind-down operations can include debt payments in US dollars through Oct. 23, a Treasury spokesman said in response to questions. The US statement also adds pressure on Deripaska as he tries to save the company without surrendering control. Oleg Petropavlovskiy, an analyst at BCS Global Markets, said by phone, “Changing ownership structure would be a solution for the company.”

Deripaska was targeted as part of a sanctions package that hit dozens of Russian tycoons, companies, and key allies of President Vladimir Putin. While analysts have suggested that nationalization may be the only solution, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters Friday that Rusal was not on the list to be nationalized.

Rusal produces about 6 percent of the world’s aluminum and operates mines, smelters, and refineries across the world from Guinea to Ireland, Russia to Jamaica. “It should calm things down,” said Daniel Briesemann, an analyst at Commerzbank AG. “It looks as if there was a lot of pressure from the US aluminum downstream industry.”

At Russia’s request, Mnuchin met with Siluanov during International Monetary Fund meetings in Washington last week. The Russians were seeking “clarification” on US sanctions, Mnuchin said to reporters Saturday, without elaborating. “Mnuchin’s statement about the de-listing signals that this is more than just getting an extra few months to stop business with Rusal,” said Brian O’Toole, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council who previously worked in Treasury’s sanctions unit. “It shows that Rusal is trying get off the list.”

The sell-off in aluminum after the Treasury announcement spread through other commodity markets on optimism the United States isn’t likely to impose further sanctions on Russia’s metals and energy companies.....

That leaves Nikki Haley twisting in the wind.



"Investors once again focused on corporate deals as aluminum producers tumbled after the Treasury Department moved to ease sanctions against Russian aluminum company Rusal. A Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research survey of fund managers concluded that investors will start buying bonds while selling stocks....."

"The European Union’s trade chief said the bloc’s two most powerful leaders will tell President Trump to back off on plans to impose steel and aluminum tariffs when they visit Washington this week. French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet separately with Trump and are bent on safeguarding trans-Atlantic unity to face common challenges, from Iran to North Korea and beyond. Both will insist that unity would be threatened if Trump starts imposing punitive tariffs on key EU industries. Last month, Trump imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum, but granted the EU a temporary exemption until May 1. The United States also temporarily exempted big steel producers Canada and Mexico — provided they agree to renegotiate a North American trade deal to his satisfaction."

That may backfire. 

You gotta suck up to him like the Mexicans:

"NAFTA ministers set to meet again amid intensified push for deal" by Eric Martin Bloomberg News  April 23, 2018

Senior trade officials from the United States, Canada, and Mexico will meet again in Washington in an intensified push to reach a Nafta agreement in the next few weeks.

Talks will pick up on Tuesday, after Cabinet-level members vowed on Friday to keep up the momentum following consultations with their technical teams over the weekend. Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said last week that ‘‘my negotiating team is practically living in Washington.’’ Still, major differences remain over key US demands.

Mexico scored a separate commercial victory over the weekend with a deal in principle to update a 17-year-old free-trade agreement with the European Union. Guajardo jetted to Brussels to help close the deal.

Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s minister for foreign affairs, said Friday that North American Free Trade Agreement negotiators have been making good progress on updated rules for cars, which she said will be at the heart of any eventual updated Nafta.

She told reporters on the steps of the US Trade Representative’s office ‘‘we are making good progress.’’

This week’s talks are set to be the broadest and biggest since the final official negotiating round in Mexico City in early March, according to a preliminary agenda obtained by Bloomberg. Topics include automotive rules, agriculture, and legal and institutional matters such as dispute settlement mechanisms.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto traveled to Germany over the weekend to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Hannover Messe, a huge industry show where Mexico is the chosen partner country this year. Deepening ties with the EU is part of Mexico’s push to diversify beyond the United States, the destination for 72 percent of the nation’s $435 billion in exports last year. Pena Nieto said he’s optimistic he’ll have good news to announce from the NAFTA talks.

The EU is an attractive target for export expansion for Mexico, in part because many countries in the bloc have consumers with comparable wealth and spending habits to those of the United States.

Trump’s negotiators, led by US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, have been pushing for a deal by early May. That would meet US timelines for having an agreement approved, at the latest, by the lame-duck session that will follow mid-term congressional elections in November, said two people familiar with the negotiations.....

That's how they are going to $tick it to you, huh?


The big question is will they be able to save Sears?

"The former wife of Steve Wynn, who is also the biggest shareholder and cofounder of Wynn Resorts, is seeking the removal one of the company directors overseeing an internal investigation into sexual misconduct allegations against the casino magnate. Elaine Wynn said in a filing Monday with US regulators that John Hagenbuch is allied too closely with Steve Wynn. She asked shareholders to reject his reelection. Steve Wynn resigned as chairman and CEO and later sold his company shares after The Wall Street Journal reported that several women said he harassed or assaulted them and that one case led to a $7.5 million settlement. He denies the allegations. He has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Associated Press for its reporting on a separate allegation made to police. Elaine Wynn also raised the issue of executive pay at Wynn, which she said is not tied to performance. She said Hagenbuch was serving on Wynn’s compensation committee when Steve Wynn’s pay was called into question in 2015. She also criticized a recently approved $24 million pay package for CEO Matthew Maddox, calling it ‘‘exorbitant for a first-time untested public company CEO.’’ Wynn said she is not seeking a seat on the board for herself or anyone else and urged shareholders to withhold votes for Hagenbuch at the annual shareholders meeting on May 16. "

She can't lo$e for Wynning.

Time to stop playing around:

"The demise of Toys “R” Us Inc. took a toll on Hasbro Inc. last quarter and that isn’t likely to abate until later this year. Hasbro posted declining sales in all business areas in the quarter, sending its shares down Monday by the most in more than two months. The toymaker said the drop was a result of the Toys “R” Us liquidation, as well as “uncertainty” in some operations and excess inventory in Europe. The retailer, one of Hasbro’s largest customers, filed for bankruptcy protection in September, had a terrible fourth quarter and then announced the liquidation of several divisions. This has presented another hurdle for toymakers that were already dealing with slowing growth and concerns that the success of making so many products based off an ever-growing slate of entertainment for kids is waning."

Yeah, now the kid is asking for Celtics season tickets and ‘‘I don’t like to be taken advantage of.’’