Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Waiting by the Phone Wednesday


"President Trump ‘saw an opening’ to remove FBI director James Comey" by Michael D. Shear and Matt Apuzzo New York Times  May 09, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday fired the director of the FBI, James Comey, abruptly terminating the top official leading a criminal investigation into whether Trump’s advisers colluded with the Russian government to steer the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

It's about time. Should have fired him the first day.

The stunning development in Trump’s presidency raised the specter of political interference by a sitting president into an existing investigation by the nation’s leading law enforcement agency. It immediately ignited Democratic calls for a special counsel to lead the Russia inquiry.

I'll bet that call is answered. It will be one more lever against Trump should he stray.

Trump explained the firing by citing Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server, even though the president was widely seen to have benefited politically from that inquiry....


The same people that were screaming about him in November are now big backers, and it is nowhere near a Nixon (didn't he get the memo?). Globe is conveniently ignoring that Clapper, Yates, and the rest of the crew have admitted there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Either way, it's worth hoisting one:

"Bars and packies got free equipment to push Budweiser, state says" by Dan Adams Globe Staff  May 09, 2017

Massachusetts regulators Tuesday extended their crackdown on anticompetitive practices in the beer industry to the biggest target of all, Anheuser-Busch, saying the brewing giant gave illegal incentives worth nearly $1 million to hundreds of Boston-area bars and package stores to push sales of Budweiser and its other drinks while stifling those of other brewers.

The charge by the state Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission — and the large scale of the alleged “pay-to-play” scheme — buttressed complaints by small breweries that underhanded tactics are pervasive in the US alcohol industry as large brewers and distributors try to stanch the steady loss of market share to the craft beer movement.

Related: "Gillette’s dominance in the US shaving industry is eroding...."

The case also promises to be a complex and challenging enforcement action, targeting an international corporate goliath — Anheuser-Busch parent AB InBev, based in Belgium — and involving more than 400 smaller businesses that allegedly received the incentives....

I abstained from the rest.


RelatedCambridge may put anti-overdose drug in public boxes

Just wondering how low we are going to go before legalizing it all.

"Search for mental health care for children is often fruitless" by Liz Kowalczyk Globe Staff  May 09, 2017

Harvard researchers posing as the parent of a depressed 12-year-old called hundreds of child psychiatrists and pediatricians looking for appointments, and discovered what many actual parents know through bitter experience: Most of the time the calls were fruitless.

The group phoned 913 doctors listed as network providers by Blue Cross Blue Shield organizations in Boston, Chapel Hill, N.C., Houston, Minneapolis, and Seattle. After two attempts, they were able to get an appointment with a pediatrician 40 percent of the time and with a psychiatrist a meager 17 percent, according to the study published Tuesday in the International Journal of Health Services.

The obstacles began with the insurers’ online provider directories, which they tout as a tool to help consumers find doctors. But when researchers called the offices listed, they were often told that the doctor had retired or moved, or that the phone number was simply wrong. Even when the listing was accurate, a longstanding shortage of child psychiatrists meant that many practices were not taking new patients or had long wait lists....

They are just going “in circles,’’ and I know how they feel as a reader of the Globe.


"Tunnel collapses at Hanford nuclear waste site in Washington state, reports say" by Lindsey Bever and Steven Mufson The Washington Post News Service  May 10, 2017

Hundreds of workers at the Hanford nuclear waste site in Washington state were ordered to ‘‘take cover’’ after a tunnel collapse, according to local news sources.

The US Department of Energy said it has activated its emergency operations protocol in Hanford, a small agricultural community in south-central Washington, about 200 miles from Seattle.

Cleaning up radioactive materials at the Hanford site, a federal facility, has been one of the Energy Department’s priorities for years. Reactors located at Hanford produced plutonium for America’s defense program and uranium metal fuel for commercial reactors.

Workers were told to evacuate and, ‘‘as a precaution, workers in potentially affected areas of the Hanford Site have gone indoors,’’ according to the Energy Department officials statement....



"Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on Tuesday dropped his reelection bid for a second term after four men alleged he sexually abused them when they were teenagers, charges vehemently denied by Murray as an antigay political conspiracy aimed at derailing his campaign...."

Besides, it was decades ago.

Maybe he should have adopted instead.

"A back-of-the-bus human rights policy" by Jeff Jacoby Globe Columnist  May 10, 2017

The last time a Republican was in the White House, the “freedom agenda” was a key priority. Bush spoke of liberty often and eloquently, going out of his way to encourage pro-democracy dissidents, and devoting his Second Inaugural Address to the urgency of human rights abroad: “We will persistently clarify,” said Bush, “the choice before every ruler and every nation — the moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right.”

This from a guy who authorized torture. 


"We were terrible to animals," recalled Mr. Throckmorton, laughing. "We'd put firecrackers in the frogs and throw them and blow them up." When he was not blowing up frogs, young George -- always restless and something of a natural leader -- would lead neighborhood children on daredevil expeditions around town."

Who didn't see that coming, eh?

Under Barack Obama, there was no Freedom Agenda. In human rights as in numerous other areas, Obama pointedly reversed the Bush approach. Instead of seeking to embolden victims of oppression, he angled to cut deals with the dictators who oppressed them — from the sinister ayatollah in Tehran to the KGB-trained ruler in Moscow to the ruthless caudillo in Havana.

He was forced to cut those deals by AmeriKan corporations; otherwise, they would have been cut out of billions in revenues. I have my own beefs with Obummer (Libya, Syria, Yemen), but they are not those.

With the end of the Bush presidency, democracy promotion vanished as a priority. Obama was nothing if not consistent. As a presidential candidate more than eight years previously, he had sounded the same note, coolly declaring that not even “preventing a potential genocide” was a good reason to keep US troops in Iraq.

Obama chose secretaries of state who shared his back-of-the-bus approach to human rights. Hillary Clinton saw little point in raising human rights with China’s rulers, since “we pretty much know what they’re going to say.” John Kerry had argued for years that American foreign policy should downplay democracy and concentrate more on stability.

Tillerson’s speech at the State Department, in other words, was essentially a restatement of Obama administration policy....

Yeah, what a surprise. Tillerson finally admitted what is U.S. policy since Kennan rather than continue with the flowery allusions and propaganda regarding AmeriKa.


Other calls I didn't answer:

Aaron Hernandez is now not guilty in eyes of the state

Lloyd family attorney says lawsuit will proceed

It's New England's version of the O.J. case.

An unlikely football star hopes to break through barriers in another field

Anti-Muslim letter sparks soul searching in Shrewsbury

Diversity progress at elite exam schools is lagging, study says

Boston Latin School is pulled into Harvard race-bias suit

A hard lesson for historically black colleges and universities

Cardinal O’Malley said to disapprove of BC High admitting girls

They used to be winners. Now the champion resides in Quincy.

Investors target white male C-suite at TJX, a retailer praised for diversity

All of the top executives are white men and that’s not acceptable.

Maybe this will give you a lift:

"Steady job growth has left US employers with an increasingly shallow pool of unemployed workers to consider hiring, something that could lead to faster wage gains. The number of job postings for each unemployed person fell in March to its lowest level in more than 16 years, according to a report released Tuesday by the Labor Department. This means that businesses may face fewer qualified applicants for jobs and could choose to increase pay in order to attract workers — possibly causing wages to accelerate after several years of sluggish growth."

Maybe NOT

"Amazon is giving its voice-enabled Echo speaker a touch screen and video-calling capabilities as it competes with Google’s efforts at bringing ‘‘smarts’’ to the home. The 7-inch screen on the new Echo Show enables the speaker to supplement voice responses with visuals and other information displays, similar to the Echo-like features offered on the Fire tablets and Fire TV streaming devices."

Not only will they be able to hear everything in your home, they will now be able to see inside your home -- if they haven't already.

I'm just going to let it keep ringing, readers.


"Comey’s firing unleashes uncertainty in Washington" by Matt Viser Globe Staff  May 11, 2017

WASHINGTON — A deepening sense of uncertainty pervaded Washington as the White House on Wednesday struggled to explain President Trump’s sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey, who appeared to have been escalating his investigation of possible Trump campaign ties to Russia just days ago.

The long-term impact of Trump’s extraordinarily rare action remained unclear. In addition to the original open question — did Trump’s campaign collude with Russia to influence the 2016 election? — there is now another: How much confidence can the American public have that federal officials will, in Comey’s absence, conduct a full and fair investigation of the matter?

More than they had with him there.

Calls rang from multiple quarters Wednesday for an independent counsel or a special congressional commission to take over the investigation, but with the Justice Department deeply involved in Comey’s firing and Congress mired in a partisan morass, there seemed to be no path to establishing those sorts of independent probes.

Trump’s decision to fire Comey at least temporarily eclipsed the rest of Washington’s agenda. Senate Democrats, in protest, ground routine committee work to a halt. Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the White House and chanted, “Shame!” 

These are the same people yelling that at Comey back in November.

On Capitol Hill, with a few exceptions, lawmakers retreated to their partisan corners.

As if the day couldn’t get more bizarre, the president’s only public activity on Wednesday was a meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and the Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. With the American press shut out of the meeting, the only images that emerged were those distributed by the Russian government.

Can he do that?

W. Virginia journalist arrested after asking HHS Secretary a question

Wasn't an official pre$$ conference, and I guess he can.

When is the corporate pre$$ finally going to stand up for the First Amendment, huh? 

For all of us, not just their own $elf-$erving variety??

Vladimir Putin, dressed in full hockey gear rinkside in Sochi, told CBS News that “We have nothing to do with” Comey. “Don’t be angry with me,” he added....


So who is the new guy?

"New Justice official is now in an intense political glare" by Annie Linskey Globe Staff  May 11, 2017

WASHINGTON —A little-known, Harvard-educated lawyer whose name is suddenly on everyone’s lips: Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.

Rosenstein, reached on his cellphone Wednesday morning, declined to discuss his memo or the dismissal of Comey. “I’m not going to talk about that,” said Rosenstein. “Are you surprised by that?”

The longtime prosecutor has a reputation as a straight shooter. He sailed through the Senate confirmation process as the No. 2 Justice Department official less than three weeks ago on a 94-to-6 vote. But now some of his allies are having second thoughts because of the role he played in Comey’s dismissal. At least one senator, Democrat Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, wants him to testify under oath about his involvement.

“I’ve known Rod Rosenstein a long time. I’ve always thought well of him. I was cheered by his nomination,” Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said on his Twitter feed. “I misjudged him completely.” (Wittes, through a spokeswoman, declined to comment further.)

Longtime allies say that Rosenstein should be given the benefit of the doubt — at least for now.

“He is committed to the pursuit of justice,” said Gregg Bernstein, a former state’s attorney in Maryland who has known Rosenstein for 15 years. He believes Rosenstein would resign before covering up wrong-doing. “If it comes down to a Nixonian scenario, I believe he will do the right thing,” added Bernstein, who is a Democrat.

Rosenstein is no stranger to controversy: He once worked for independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr and helped to investigate the Whitewater land deal that dogged the Clinton presidency.... 

In other words, he's another gatekeeper Jew like Feinberg placed in a strategic location.



"He arrives at the Justice Department with experience in politically freighted investigations, having earlier in his career been part of the Clinton-era Whitewater independent investigation. When he was a US attorney, his office also led the leak prosecution of Thomas Drake, the former National Security Agency official who pleaded guilty to a minor misdemeanor after more serious charges of mishandling documents were dropped. He more recently oversaw the inquiry on James Cartwright, the former Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman who admitted making false statements during a separate leak investigation and was ultimately pardoned by Obama. ‘‘It’s hard to imagine a more challenging environment in which to come in as the deputy attorney general than what we have now,’’ said Jason Weinstein, who served under Rosenstein in the US attorney’s office in Maryland. ‘‘Having said that, I can’t imagine a better person for the job right now than Rod.’’ 

He had wide respect just two short months ago, and those leaks have been plugged.

Republicans resist independent review after Comey firing

Senate panel subpoenas Flynn for Russia-related documents

The America I swore allegiance to seems to have disappeared

In Comey firing, the truth is in Trump’s tweets

Trump’s desperate efforts to protect himself

This is the worst abuse of presidential power since Watergate

I agree. Obama's spying on the Trump campaign is way worse.

"More bad news for Trump: His poll numbers hit new lows" by Aaron Blake The Washington Post  May 10, 2017

Whether people trust him or the media more for the truth: 57 percent media, 31 percent Trump (even 17 percent of Republicans pick the media over their president)


They just destroyed the credibility of their own poll!

Interestingly, the reason the numbers have ticked down appears to be the group that elected Trump in the first place: white, working-class voters. Whites without college degrees approved of Trump 57 percent to 38 percent in the mid-April Q poll and 51-39 in late March/early May; today they are split, with 47 percent approving and 46 percent disapproving. 

It's because of the escalation in foreign interventions.

Republicans still haven’t deserted him, which means it might take some doing before his approval rating drops much lower. But there certainly seems to be some slight cracks in Trump’s base. And you have to wonder whether the Comey decision - which even congressional Republicans are criticizing - might pry those cracks open just a bit wider....

The Washington Post pleadingly hopes anyway.


Is it just me, or is their BS wafting through the air?

"In a surprising victory for former president Barack Obama’s environmental legacy, the Senate voted Wednesday to uphold an Obama-era climate change regulation to control the release of methane from oil and gas wells on public land. The methane rule was one of a suite of environmental regulations put in place by Obama as he sought to use his executive authority to tackle climate change across the economy. While methane vented from oil and gas wells accounts for only a small portion of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution, environmental advocates urged Obama to tackle the emissions because methane is more than 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in trapping heat in the earth’s atmosphere...."

But they want to put a tax on carbon instead.

That all pales in comparison:

"Mishap puts focus on risks of atomic waste" by Nicholas K. Geranios and Manuel Valdes Associated Press  May 11, 2017

RICHLAND, Wash. — The collapse of a tunnel containing radioactive waste at the Hanford nuclear weapons complex underscored what critics have long been saying: that the toxic remnants of the Cold War are being stored in haphazard and unsafe conditions, and that time is running out to deal with the problem.

At the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, which opened in the 1950s and produced plutonium and tritium, the government is laboring to clean up groundwater contamination along with 40 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste stored in tanks that are decades past their projected lifespan. The job is likely to take decades.

At Hanford, in addition to the tunnel collapse discovered on Tuesday, dozens of underground storage tanks, some dating to World War II, are leaking highly radioactive materials.

The problem is that the government rushed to build nuclear weapons during the Cold War with little thought given to how to permanently dispose of the resulting waste.

What a waste of money the whole thing was, other than making some war-profiteers rich.

Safely removing it now is proving enormously expensive, slow-going, extraordinarily dangerous, and so complex that much of the technology required simply does not exist. The cleanup has also been plagued with setbacks both political and technical.

Related: Dumping Nuclear Waste

The Department of Energy spends about $6 billion a year on managing waste left from the production of nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, at Hanford, officials said they detected no release of radiation and no one was injured in the collapse. The cause of the collapse was not immediately known. The Energy Department plans to fill the hole with 50 truckloads of dirt.

They don't want to cause a panic, and they are going to put dirt on top of it?

Hanford, a 500-square-mile expanse in remote interior Washington about 200 miles from Seattle, was created during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb.

Hanford made most of the plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons, including the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. It now contains the nation’s greatest volume of radioactive waste left over from the production of weapons plutonium.

The cleanup there has cost $19 billion to date and is not expected to be finished until 2060, at an additional cost of $100 billion.

I suppose it's worth it. Has to be done.

The most dangerous waste at Hanford is 56 million gallons in 177 underground tanks. Some have leaked. Plans to embed the toxic stew in glass logs for burial have floundered. Construction of a $17 billion glassification factory has stopped because of design and safety issues.

What if the glass breaks?

The plan is to bury the glass logs at a nuclear waste dump carved inside Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, a project that has been on the drawing board for three decades but has run into resistance from Nevada politicians, including former Senator Harry Reid....



"A mass casualty event at a scene unlike any he had ever witnessed. Birds fly into buildings fairly regularly, but as many as 1 billion birds die in collisions with glass in the United States each year, according to American Bird Conservancy, second only to death by cat.’’ 

The ‘‘dark cloud does have a silver lining,’’ so fly away little birdie, fly fly fly.

IRS classifies white-nationalist groups with orchestras, planetariums and zoos Some white nationalists make use of anti-Semitic themes and supporters often give Nazi salutes.

Globe makes sure they return it several times, and that's when I hit the Roof.

Fourth person dies in Billerica auction crash

Could the opioid epidemic be easing?

I would say no:

"A teenage girl is facing gun and drug charges after a shooting in Lowell that left a 14-year-old boy with a graze wound to the head Tuesday. The 17-year-old girl is charged as a juvenile with heroin trafficking, drug possession with intent to distribute and illegal possession of a gun and ammunition, according to a news release from Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Lowell Police Superintendent William Taylor. Police came to a home on Mead Street at about 3:45 a.m. Tuesday, and they found the injured boy “conscious, alert and talking.” The boy was taken to a hospital in the Boston area, and authorities said they expect him to survive. Police searched the home and allegedly found a gun, heroin, and suspected drug packaging materials in the girl’s bedroom. The news release said authorities are still investigating the chain of events that led to the shooting of the boy."

"Brockton foresees painful school cuts, teacher layoffs" by Michael Levenson and Johanna Seltz Globe Staff and Globe Correspondent  May 10, 2017

The Brockton School Department, known for boosting the academic performance of its poor and heavily immigrant students, says a major budget shortfall will force it to issue 344 pink slips Friday, including 189 to teachers.

School officials warned the cuts will result in larger classes and the elimination of after-school programs and middle-school activities such as band, chorus, drama, athletics, and intramural sports. Technology upgrades will be shelved across the district, bus service will be cut, and no new textbooks purchased, the officials said.

“This is very troubling — the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Aldo Petronio, the school budget chief, who blamed the shortfall on changes in the state school aid formula....


Also see:

At UMass Amherst: Two sets of triplets, one graduation

Harvard releases earliest known voice recording of JFK

"The winning projects include UrSure Inc., an HIV prevention company; Lightmatter, an artificial intelligence software development company; and Upsolve, a non-profit that assesses if an individual should file for personal bankruptcy. The grand prize teams each received $75,000 to fund their ventures. “We focus on inputs and not outputs,” said Jodi Goldstein, managing director of Harvard Innovation Labs. “Our real focus is to nurture and support students as they turn their ideas into business proposals.”

I think I'm going to be $ick.

Old City Hall has new landlord

Time to move.

TripAdvisor stock jumps after pulling back on instant booking

Can't even rent a car for it, but they will give you something to suck on while you wait.

Barclays CEO apologizes for handling of whistle-blower complaint

Louder, can't hear you.

Aetna to finalize exit from ACA exchanges

Who will take care of the children?

House passes bill to protect pregnant workers

That is their first born this term.

Now who is paying the bill?

"Investors didn’t react much to President Trump’s surprise decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. US stocks also had little reaction to the French presidential election on Sunday...."

There would have been a jolt had the right won.

Whole Foods names Panera CEO to board as it faces down Jana

I already had breakfast and, OMG, it's already time for lunch:

"Pizza Hut has apologized and fired an advertising firm responsible for an Israeli Facebook ad that mocked the leader of a mass Palestinian hunger strike. The ad on Israel’s Pizza Hut Facebook page was deleted and the parent company said in a statement on Tuesday that the Facebook post was ‘‘completely inappropriate.’’ After Israel Prison Service released a video claiming to show Marwan Barghouti secretly snacking, Pizza Hut Israel published a Facebook post with a pizza box superimposed on Barghouti’s prison cell, asking if he would rather have broken his hunger strike with pizza. A representative of Grass Pink, the Israeli advertising company behind the ad, said it ‘‘didn’t mean to offend anybody.’’ Prisoners are an emotional issue for Palestinians after decades of conflict. Some threatened to boycott the chain."

I was taught not to talk with my mouth full.

Every now and then, the Zionist supremacism shows through. The fact that they are ignorant of it makes the matter worse. 

And about that barbecue outside the prison....