Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Trump's Kept Promise

Globe didn't keep theirs:

"Trump moves to limit visa program for tech workers" by Curt Woodward Globe Staff  April 19, 2017

Returning to his campaign pledge to protect American workers, President Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday that could reduce the supply of entry-level foreign workers that many companies say they need to fill technical jobs.

Employers and immigration experts reacted warily to Trump’s order, praising some efforts at overhauling the technology industry’s favorite guest-worker program while worrying that the administration’s reforms could harm employers that use it fairly.

Trump’s action directs four federal agencies to propose reforms to the H-1B visa program, which lets employers hire skilled overseas workers to fill jobs in the United States. It also underscores previously announced plans by federal officials to crack down on abuse and fraud in the system.

The goal, Trump said, is to ensure that American workers aren’t supplanted by cheaper foreign labor, a common criticism of the H-1B program. Federal records show those visas are most often sought for workers from India, between the ages of 25 and 34, to fill jobs in the tech industry. The White House said that about 80 percent of H-1B workers are paid below the median wage in their industries.

Let's just stop kidding ourselves.....

“We are sending a powerful signal to the world: We’re going to defend our workers, protect our jobs, and finally put America first,” Trump said in a speech at Snap-on Inc., a Wisconsin toolmaker. “American workers have long called for reforms to end these visa abuses, and today their calls are being answered.”

But supporters of the program said they also would like Congress to lift the annual cap of 85,000 on H-1B visas, which has been higher in the past but was reduced to its current level in 2004.

“I’d hope that the further review of the system will lead to an increase in the number of such visas, as the demand is exponentially higher than the government-imposed limit,” said Christopher R. Anderson, president of the Massachusetts High Technology Council.

Trump’s executive order on H-1B visas follows a big legislative defeat in health care and legal setbacks on the administration’s proposed bans on some foreign travelers.

Overhauling the H-1B program could be an area of bipartisan agreement, with bills sponsored by lawmakers from both parties also proposing changes to the visas.

Trump’s order also directs federal agencies to maximize the amount of American goods they buy and minimize the use of waivers to skirt existing “buy American” rules.

Technology companies prize the H-1B visa program because it lets fast-growing employers fill jobs that they say can’t be satisfied by domestic workers. Critics of the program, however, say there is ample evidence of an untapped US workforce that could fill those jobs with better training, higher wages, or more welcoming work practices.

“The White House action should have a quite significant effect, both direct and indirect,” said Hal Salzman, a Rutgers University professor who has studied the H-1B program. “They’re signaling that they’re serious about reform in the system and addressing the abuse.”

White House officials said one major goal of the order would be replacing the lottery system currently used to determine which companies are awarded the H-1B visas.

Instead, officials said, the administration would like to institute a program that more heavily favors experienced, higher-paid foreign workers. Taking that step could reduce the number of American workers displaced by less-experienced guest workers who are paid lower wages, officials said. The details of how that program might work were not disclosed Tuesday.

“Right now, H-1B visas are awarded in a totally random lottery, and that’s wrong,” Trump said. “They should be given to the most skilled and highest-paid applicants and they should never, ever be used to replace American workers.”

Some tech employers and corporate immigration lawyers welcomed the idea of ending the lottery, which critics say can be gamed by outsourcing firms that flood the system with applications to increase their odds of winning a spot.

Meaning it is.

As a candidate, Trump said he would “end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program.”

He hasn't done that yet.

This spring, as employers were sending in thousands of applications for the limited visas, officials from the departments of Labor, Justice, and Homeland Security announced plans to more aggressively target abuse by employers.

As a result, immigration lawyers have been advising corporate clients to make sure that their H-1B paperwork is in order and to give extra management attention to their foreign-labor applications.

Trump’s attention to the H-1B system may already be dampening employer enthusiasm for the visas....

Actually, they were already on the wane.


Is going with the flow and trend considered the keeping of a campaign pledge?

Meanwhile, at the border:

"Patrolling the Border on Four Legs" by RON NIXON, APRIL 18, 2017

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the United States has spent over $100 billion on various border security technology, including ground sensors, video cameras, walls, layers of fencing and infrared cameras. But in the thicket along the river where smugglers can easily hide, the horse patrol unit plays an essential role in efforts to detect illegal activity.

At least the contracts made someone rich.

Just over two years ago, asylum seekers fleeing persecution in Central America swarmed the Rio Grande Valley, and many of them eagerly surrendered to Border Patrol agents.

But in the past few months, the number of immigrants caught illegally crossing here has plummeted to about 100 people a day from over 600. John F. Kelly, the homeland security secretary, has said the drop stems from aggressive enforcement, but migrant experts say improving conditions in the countries that people have been fleeing have also contributed to the decline.

Really? Where?

Border Patrol agents comb the area in trucks and on bicycles on main roads. Helicopters and blimps, known as aerostats, provide aerial surveillance, while boats keep watch over the waterways.

The horse patrol unit works close to the Rio Grande, where agents say a border crosser can slip through wooded areas and in a few minutes be in town or spirited away in a vehicle.

While the flow of migrants has slowed, drug smuggling remains constant. The signs are everywhere: Dozens of footprints, abandoned life jackets, swimming trunks and food wrappers appear along the riverbank.

The Border Patrol unit here has almost 40 horses, obtained from a wild mustang program run by the federal Bureau of Land Management. The agency catches horses and turns them over for basic training to inmates at the Hutchinson Correctional Facility in Kansas.

At least they aren't hor$ing around.

Horses have been used for border security since the inception of the Border Patrol in 1924. The horse patrol unit here was established in 2011, after the local chief of the Border Patrol realized that the animals were well suited for hard-to-patrol areas. Their keen sight and hearing are also useful, said Jeff Wiggins, an agent who oversees the training of horses.

A little over an hour after riding off into the bush, Mr. Torresmutt and another agent, David Garcia, return to the staging area.

Two other agents, Garrett Gremes and Kelby Forbes, are chasing a man who has made it past both the horse patrol and agents in vehicles.

As evening sets in and mosquitoes buzz, radio chatter signals that agents and local law enforcement officers have spotted drugs dumped on the Mexican side of the border.

While Mr. Torresmutt and his unit decide their next move, radio dispatchers report that agents have made dozens of roadside apprehensions.

A short time later, a dispatcher alerts the unit to a group of people who are crossing the river in a small raft. That information is being relayed from radar aboard an aerostat flying in the area.

Within an hour, an alert is sent to Mr. Forbes’s cellphone from a remotely operated camera system, known as Operation Drawbridge. The agent clicks on a link and is instantly given the coordinates to the areas where a camera has spotted the group.

Operation Drawbridge, which is run by the Texas Department of Public Safety, is a network of thousands of hidden wildlife cameras equipped with motion detection and lowlight capabilities. State monitors receive an alert each time a camera detects activity and provide agents in the field with round-the-clock images of possible illegal crossings....

You can go on the mission with them.


You start to wonder how they can get through at all, what with all the surveillance and everything. I mean, I know that article was a piece of NYT horse sh**. It was a public relations promotion piece for the government, the price of access I suppose.

RelatedThe Enemy Within: Bribes Bore a Hole in the U.S. Border

Yeah, I kinda thought that was how they were getting through.

As for those other promises, well....

"Policy advisers urge Trump to keep US in Paris accord" by Coral Davenport New York Times  April 18, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s most influential policy advisers are urging him to keep the United States in the landmark Paris climate accord of 2015, a move that would break one of his signature campaign promises and further downgrade the counsel of his senior strategist, Stephen Bannon.

Looks like Bannon was a threat to the bankers.

Trump plans to make a final decision on the fate of the Paris agreement before a meeting of the Group of 7 leading economies at the end of May, according to Sean Spicer, White House press secretary. A team of Trump’s principal advisers was scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon at the White House to discuss the decision with the aim of recommending a path forward, but the meeting was canceled after some of the planned attendees flew with Trump to an event in Wisconsin, according to a White House spokeswoman.

He flew to Wisconsin? What was the carbon footprint on that?

On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to “cancel” the climate deal, and his most politically conservative advisers, including Bannon, have pushed him to follow through. But Bannon’s influence has waned in recent weeks, while authority has risen for Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who advocate staying in the accord.

We were told Kushner would not be taking part in intelligence briefings, but that appears to have been another broken promise or lie since he sits in on NSC meetings.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, former chief executive of Exxon Mobil, has also spoken in favor of “keeping a seat at the table” in the climate pact, and in recent days, major corporations have stepped forward to embrace that position.

Doesn't that tell you something?

While Trump does not have the power to undo a multilateral United Nations accord, he could withdraw the world’s largest economy from the pact, weakening it substantially. Such a move would win cheers from the nation’s most powerful conservative political advocates, and give Trump bragging rights in coal country.

He's stiffing his base these days so I wouldn't get your hopes up.

But withdrawing from the landmark accord that committed nearly every nation to take action against planet-warming emissions could create diplomatic blowback, while weakening US leadership in arenas far afield from energy and the environment.

Besides, keeping the United States’ name on the accord does not obligate the Trump administration to abide by the ambitious emissions-control pledges of Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama. At least one senior White House climate policy adviser, George David Banks, has advocated staying in the agreement while replacing the Obama plan with a weaker, more industry-friendly pledge.

If the Empire doesn't have to abide by the deal, then what is the big deal? The illusion and imagery of the media myth? WTF?

Btw, shutting down the war machine, the world's biggest polluter, isn't even in the discussion.

Not that it matters. There are handfuls of more serious environmental issues around, from nuclear radiation in the Pacific to the underreported befouling of our air, sea, and land. The reason climate change is flogged is to get you to favor a carbon tax on yourself. Wait until you have to weigh your pooh at the sh** pit.

Royal Dutch Shell, and BP, European companies with significant investments in the United States, have also endorsed the accord.

Doesn't that tell you something? Shouldn't you be against the deal then?

Regardless of his decision, Trump has already undermined the United States’ ability to meet its Paris pledge....

Despite now being at odds with his head of the EPA and powerful conservative political advocacy groups funded by the brothers Koch, that will be the myth promoted in the climate going forward. He's undermined the agreement no matter what he does.


Yeah, the pre$$ure began almost immediately but Trump had stood up to it until now.

As for undermining emissions:

"Remember that US carrier strike force steaming toward North Korea? It wasn’t" by Mark Landler and Eric Schmitt New York Times  April 18, 2017


Defense Department officials describe a glitch-ridden sequence of events, from a premature announcement of the deployment by the military’s Pacific Command to an erroneous explanation by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis — all of which perpetuated the false narrative that a U.S. armada was racing toward the waters off North Korea.

We call those lies now, and if not how scary is that? Pentagon doesn't even know what is happening with its own ships? I hope they don't fire off some missiles. Who the hell knows where they will land (I suppose it does explain the Syria misses, however)?


"Mattis warned that North Korea’s latest failed missile launch was a reckless act of provocation and assured allies in Asia that the U.S. was ready to work to achieve a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Mattis denounced North Korea’s attempted missile launch as he began a Middle East tour, telling reporters traveling with him to Saudi Arabia...."

I'm not going to argue about it, but why would anyone believe him? 

Btw, there is ABSOLUTELY NO EVIDENCE OF ANY MISSILE LAUNCH THIS WEEKEKEND other than U.S. GOVERNMENT CLAIMS, either! Chew on that one for a while. (Gulf of Tonkin, anyone? That's how they fooled you into the last Asian war, and the same pre$$ helped perpetuate a false narrative then. Then we had Iraq.... sigh)

By the time the White House was asked about the Carl Vinson on April 11, its imminent arrival had been emblazoned on front pages across East Asia, fanning fears that Trump was considering a pre-emptive military strike on North Korea. It was portrayed as further evidence of the president’s muscular style two days after he ordered a missile strike on Syria while he and President Xi Jinping of China were finishing dessert during a meeting in Florida.

How soulless is that? Order a missile strike, sit down to dessert.

The saga of the wayward carrier might never have come to light, had the Navy not posted a photograph on Monday of the Carl Vinson sailing through the Sunda Strait, which separates the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra.

Oh what a deadly web we weave.

The Carl Vinson is now on a northerly course for the Korean Peninsula and is expected to arrive in the region sometime next week.

Anyone know who the f*** is in charge over there?

Officials privately expressed bewilderment that the Pentagon did not correct its timeline, particularly given the tensions surging in the region and the fact that national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, was publicly answering questions about it....

Not me. They lied. What else is new?


Where McMaster was the past few days:

"US declines to specify damage from massive bomb in Afghanistan, but one voice has been filling the information vacuum in the region: Islamic State radio.

The Islamic State’s local radio outlet continues to broadcast into Jalalabad, the urban center in the east. The day after the bombing, it broadcast a call-in program in which voices of men who claimed to be fighters in the area could be heard between rhyming Islamic chants...." 


You gotta love NYT prop-slop sometimes!

A call-in radio show, huh? 

Well, zero in on that frequency and hit 'em! Certainly the NSA and telecoms are gobbling up all the data!! Sort of tells you who is really behind the "terrorists."


Not so funny:

"Airstrikes in northern and eastern Syria reportedly kill 20" by BASSEM MROUE Associated Press  April 18, 2017

BEIRUT — An overnight airstrike likely carried out by the US-led coalition struck an eastern Syrian town held by the Islamic State group, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens, opposition activists said. Another airstrike, this one during the day, hit a rebel-held village in the northwest on Tuesday, killing a woman and nine children. 

The babies!

The activists said the late Monday strike on the town of Boukamal near Iraq was similar to raids carried out by the coalition, which has been targeting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Airstrikes by the coalition have killed dozens of civilians over the past several weeks as the battle against the extremists intensifies.

The ISIS-linked Aamaq news agency said the strike of Boukamal killed six people and wounded 15 — all of them women and children. It did not say whether any militants were also killed.

OMFG! I'm fake news; they aren't!

The US military’s regional command, CENTCOM, said in response to a query that it was aware of the reports and was looking into them.

As if the ISIS-linked news agency was reporting real news, huh?

Activists gave different casualty tolls. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Boukamal strike killed 15 civilians, including women and children, as well as three Iraqi Islamic State fighters.

Opposition activist Omar Abu Laila said militants cordoned off the area and cut all telecommunications after the strike, which heavily damaged at least four buildings.

Coalition forces have been facing criticism from Human Rights Watch over a strike in northern Syria last month, in which dozens of people were killed.

Was that the airstrike at the mosque?


The pre$$ is still complaining about the Turkish vote, too.

Did you see how much was missing?

No fooling around in the back, though:

"Ivanka Trump’s global reach, undeterred by a White House job" by Danny Hakim New York Times  April 18, 2017

LONDON — Ivanka Trump has been her family’s leading globalist — doing deals around the world in her father’s name and her own. Even since her father took office, her own fashion brand has continued to look abroad, filing four new trademarks in Canada and the Philippines, according to a New York Times analysis of trademark records.

The continued activity is tricky territory for Trump’s new job as White House adviser. While she has stepped down from both her own fashion company and from the Trump Organization and put her brand in a trust, she has not given up her financial control, an unusual situation to navigate now that she is subject to federal ethics rules on conflicts of interest.

Even though many of her trademark applications were filed long before she took her government job, they could be decided on by foreign governments while she works in the White House, creating ethical issues with little precedent. While trademarks do not directly confer financial gains, they protect the use of logos and other intellectual property, making them valuable tools for companies looking to build new ventures or expand existing operations.

Trump has long been conducting a corporate two-step, trying to build her own global brand as she has helped push her father’s name into new parts of the world. Trump’s previous role as an informal adviser to President Trump had already raised questions. She has been afforded prime seating at meetings with a who’s who of foreign leaders.

Rumor is she is the one who convinced Trump to let fly in Syria.

Now such issues become more complex. While presidents are exempt from federal conflict of interest law, Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, another senior White House aide, are not. They are barred from making decisions in government that could benefit their financial holdings, which are worth as much as $740 million, according to recent filings. They are also covered by the Constitution’s emoluments clause barring federal officials from accepting “any present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince or foreign state.”

Whether trademarks run afoul of such rules is a matter of debate.

That's a good way of slowing things down and allowing the $tatu$ quo to operate.

Jamie Gorelick, a Washington ethics lawyer who is acting as an independent adviser to Trump’s trust, said....

Why is a Clinton crony and member of the 9/11 Cover-Up Commission advising Trump's blind trust?


Time to protest:

"A new Silicon Valley perk: Paid time off to protest Trump" by Abha Bhattarai Washington Post  April 18, 2017

WASHINGTON — Silicon Valley companies have long been known for offering a litany of employee perks: home-cooked lunches, free massages, climbing walls, and dog-friendly offices.

Now some are adding yet another incentive to attract and retain workers: paid time off to protest.

More phony bulloney gra$$ roots.

Fauna, a San Francisco database startup, recently began allowing its 13 employees to take unlimited paid leave to participate in rallies, vote, write letters to elected officials, and take part in other civic activities. Before February, employees could take time off on an as-needed basis. But the political polarization following President Trump’s inauguration called for more defined measures, said Amna Pervez, director of recruiting and retention.

‘‘Since there’s been such a divide in our country, we felt we should be very explicit about our policy,’’ Pervez said, adding that the company also provides unlimited vacation time. ‘‘We want our employees to know that we absolutely support the betterment of our country. People can take whatever they feel like they need to make a meaningful difference.’’

A number of other startups, including Turbine Labs, Buoyant, and Jelly Industries, do the same. The new policies come as technology and other companies take a stand against the Trump administration’s plan to tighten restrictions for foreign workers. On Tuesday, Trump was expected to sign an executive order that would impose new restrictions on H1-B visas, a type of temporary work permit often used to recruit and employ highly skilled workers.

‘‘If you’re a tech company, taking a pro-immigration stand is not exactly a bold move,’’ said Peter Cappelli, a management professor at the Wharton School. ‘‘When there’s a tight labor market and companies are fighting for programmers, this is a way to say, ‘See? We’re here to support you.’ ” 

Let me get this straight: Does the policy only apply to this one issue? What if you are a pro-Trump employee? What if it is a different protest or cause? Or is this just a way of the firm shaking down employees for agenda-pu$hing political purposes?

Facebook, for example, is allowing employees to take time off to participate in pro-immigration rallies on May 1. The company, which relies heavily on foreign workers, informed employees and contractors last week that they would not be penalized for missing work to protest, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday.

‘‘At Facebook, we’re committed to fostering an inclusive workplace where employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and speaking up about issues that are important to them,’’ a company spokesman said in an e-mail. ‘‘We support our people in recognizing International Workers’ Day and other efforts to raise awareness for safe and equitable employment conditions.’’

This as they censor news on their websites!!!

Facebook could be particularly hard-hit by any changes the Trump administration makes to H-1B visa policies. More than 15 percent of its employees used temporary work visas last year — a higher percentage than at Google, Apple, Amazon, or Microsoft, according to a Reuters analysis of Department of Labor filings. 

Oh, Facebook likes to contract out for cheap immigrant labor, 'eh?

At Atipica, a software start-up in San Francisco, four of the company’s five US-based workers are immigrants. Founder Laura Gómez, from Mexico, said it was a ‘‘no-brainer’’ to give workers paid leave to make their voices heard.

See: A No Brain(tree)er

‘‘At this point in our political reality, it’s really, really important to allow my employees to do something that not only affects them, but also the direction of our country,’’ she said. ‘‘This is what democracy looks like: people having the freedom to stand up for what they believe in.’’ 

It won't change a damn thing, but you can do it.

There are some ground rules, though: no violence, or activities that make others feel threatened.

That means pro-Trump feelings are out.

‘‘We will define this as we grow,’’ Gómez said. ‘‘But my hope is that policies like this become the norm. When Google began giving out free lunches, everyone else followed. Why should this be any different?’’

Gómez said she plans to participate in a pro-immigration march on May 1.

‘‘I’ll be out there,’’ she said. ‘‘And hopefully the rest of the company will, too.’’

Not me.


Well, I've kept my promise for the day.


The Trump administration has deported a ‘dreamer’ for first time, advocates say

US VP Pence warns North Korea: ‘The sword stands ready’

US aircraft carrier revelation leaves South Koreans feeling cheated

Oh, they don't like being deceived either?

Ongoing U.S. coup attempts:

Turkey Arrests Dozens Over Referendum Protests

Trump plans to meet the Turkish president next month

Teenager killed as Venezuelans march against government

And now Tillerson is threatening Iran.

Breaking my promise today, readers:

Runoff in Georgia House race could test Trump, opposition

Alabama Supreme Court upholds Chief Roy Moore’s suspension

Marijuana advocates vow to smoke pot and get arrested on steps of U.S. Capitol 


2 Arkansas inmates hit roadblocks in bid to stop executions

Another nearby planet found that may be just right for life

When can I get there?

Managers of damaged dam made series of errors

Justices express sympathy for church excluded from Missouri program

Lawsuit Accuses Alt-Right Leader of ‘Terror Campaign’ Against a Jewish Woman

Violence erupts at Auburn after federal judge stops school from canceling speech by white nationalist

We know what this is all about. Shut down those blogs, too!

Sheldon Adelson gave $5 million for Trump’s inauguration

That kind of free $peech is okay. 

You know, after a while.... sigh.

Chaffetz, powerful House Republican, won’t run in 2018

So what dirt does the Deep State have on him, or was he and his threatened?

Almost 40 candidates sign up to seek city office in Boston

‘Rattlesnake island’ proposal is suspended after public response

Suspended? Not terminated? 

What's Baker's stand on it? 

Looks like I won't be getting to the business section at all, sorry.