Friday, July 28, 2017

Fooli$h Friday

It's the need for coffee that $ucks me in:

"DC lobbyists ready for ‘Hunger Games’ of tax code reform" by Victoria McGrane Globe Staff  July 27, 2017

WASHINGTON — America’s corporate lobbyists have patiently sat out the GOP’s costly war over health care, which has resembled a Dunkirk-style retreat more than the triumph Republicans promised. Now US businesses are salivating over the next item on the Trump agenda: the biggest overhaul of the tax code in three decades.

The business community has been quietly shaping terms of the debate and building support behind the scenes for what they hope is a massive reduction in business taxes.

At the same time, individual tax lobbyists are watching their legions of Beltway competitors closely. To make up for all that lost revenue from cutting corporate tax rates, Congress will be looking to eliminate special-interest loopholes and breaks elsewhere in the byzantine code. That will create winners and losers in a high-stakes battle worth billions of dollars. It is the very sort of internecine conflict that has stymied previous tax-reform bids.

“One person’s loophole is another’s business model and entrenched interests will fight to the death — because tax reform is the corporate ‘Hunger Games,’ ” Chris Krueger, a policy analyst at the Cowen Washington Research Group, said in a recent note to clients.

That means only one survives.

The stated goal of Republicans is to improve the nation’s economy and make US business more competitive internationally by slashing their tax rates. Details of their plan remain scant, even after administration and Republican congressional leaders released a philosophical framework Thursday for drafting legislation.

President Trump has said he wants to reduce the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from 35 percent, but a drop to 20 to 25 percent has been the more widely reported target from Congress. Trump this week told The Wall Street Journal he might be willing to raise individual taxes on the wealthy, if it would pay for a middle-class cut.

I doubt it (more below).

Trump’s own previous outline for tax cuts would have heavily favored the rich, according to independent analysts. His latest statement might reflect a recognition that, with his agenda stalled in Congress thus far, any rich-versus-middle-class battle could play into Democrats’ hands.

In one sign of the upcoming lobbying frenzy, a high-profile tax lobbyist, Ken Kies, hosted a fund-raiser on Nantucket last week for House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has made rewriting the tax laws his highest priority. Politico reported that tickets for the shindig started at $2,500 and went up to $10,000, which included a photo with Ryan.

Kies, who did not respond to a request for comment, represents a high-powered roster of clients, including General Electric, which moved its headquarters to Boston.

The US Chamber of Commerce wrote an open letter this month to all lawmakers and congressional candidates urging Congress to redouble its tax effort, which has been shoved to the side while lawmakers grappled with their messy health care battle.

Was that all diversion!?

The health bill is on hold while the Senate moves onto other things.

Enjoying the "show?"

The chamber isn’t the only group gearing up. The political network run by the billionaire Koch brothers has pledged to spend millions of dollars to advance their vision for tax cuts. Also, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a trade group for small businesses, has a couple hundred of its members — including six from New England — flying in to Washington this week to talk up the need for tax reform with their elected representatives.

But all this activity and enthusiasm for lower corporate rates doesn’t make the path toward successful legislation any easier. No one wants to be the one whose favored loophole is closed or incentive ditched to help pay for a broader rate reduction. Costly corporate breaks in current tax code include the ability to shift profits overseas to avoid taxes, generous tax credits for research and development, and accelerated depreciation of machinery and equipment. 

The Congre$$ will let them keep those and they will reduce rates anyway.

“The business community remains very divided over whether — and how — to pay for it. Everyone says they want tax reform — until they’re asked to pay for it,” said Ken Spain, spokesman for the American Made Coalition, a group that has embraced Ryan’s blueprint for a new “border-adjustment tax’’ and includes major US corporations including Boeing, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, and Waltham-based Raytheon Co.

Ryan’s border adjustment tax would essentially tax imports while exempting exports. Ryan would use new revenues to slash the corporate rate to 20 percent.

Thursday’s joint statement with White House and congressional leaders indicated that Ryan has now backed off that tax. Retailers have spent millions lobbying against the proposal, teaming up with oil refiners and automakers to form a coalition, called Americans for Affordable Products. The group ran television ads in key districts slamming it as a sure-fire way to raise the cost of goods for consumers and small businesses, while top retail chief executives plan to meet with President Trump and criticize the measure. The Koch Brothers — whose wealth flows in part from oil interests that could be disadvantaged by the border adjustment tax — launched their own expensive and sustained attack campaign. 

At the end of the day, globali$m is the only way.

The American Made Coalition, whose multinational and domestic manufacturing members liked the prospect of no taxes on exports, is now more focused on pushing a territorial tax system. Currently, the United States uses a worldwide system in which the federal government taxes all the income a US company makes, regardless of where it is made. A territorial tax system would mostly exclude foreign-earned income from taxation.

The lobbying effort thus far has been complicated, some say, by a lack of clarity on what exactly the Republican tax plan will look like.

“No one knows what we’re pushing for,” one lobbyist involved in the issue said. “We get zero guidance from the White House, we get zero guidance from Treasury. They’re not staffed up.”

The White House is talking with leaders from the House and Senate. Lobbyists report the talks are progressing, albeit slowly. None of the hard decisions have been made, these lobbyists said.

Plenty of observers in Washington harbor deep skepticism that Republicans will have any more success with taxes than they’ve had with health care.

“To me, it’s looking a lot like what happened with health care,” featuring an apparent lack of understanding about how to organize such a difficult undertaking, said Eugene Steuerle, a cofounder and fellow of the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center who was a key architect of the 1986 tax reform effort under President Ronald Reagan. Specifically, he said, GOP leaders haven’t articulated a clear set of principles that are guiding their effort, which is necessary to sell it both to business interests and the public more broadly.

But key business players remain optimistic.

“There is a recognition this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make big, fundamental reforms that are going to make us competitive,” said Neil Bradley, the chamber’s chief policy officer, in an interview. Businesses recognize they might have to give something up to get a broader tax cut, he said.

Chief executives are saying, “We’re willing to do this because the status quo is so unacceptable for everybody,” Bradley said. “We just need to remind ourselves and everyone else of that and we need to get it across the finish line.”

The $tatu$ quo is unacceptable?


And if they can't get it through Congre$$:

"US conservatism expands to final frontier: City Hall" by Nicholas Riccardi Associated Press  July 27, 2017

DENVER — For decades, a well-funded conservative group has helped state lawmakers across the United States write legislation to rein in unions, expand charter schools, and lower taxes.

Now, it’s expanding to the final frontier: normally nonpartisan city halls and county governments, which have become a bastion of liberal resistance to President Trump.

The American Legislative Exchange Council is one of the country’s most prominent conservative groups, and its annual convention in Denver last week drew thousands of state legislators and lobbyists for panels on school choice and marijuana legalization, and speeches from conservative luminaries like Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and former senator James DeMint.

But as attendees rubbed shoulders with the right’s elite, a few dozen crowded into a small conference room for the fourth meeting of the American City County Exchange, the conservative group’s new local government wing.

The city council project is the brainchild of Jon Russell, a councilman from the Virginia town of Culpepper, population 18,000. He was dissatisfied that the traditional, nonpartisan municipal groups, like the National League of Cities, seemed to constantly think more government was the answer to problems.

‘‘Now we can communicate with 2,500 elected officials across the country that we know share our values and push back against some of the progressivism that’s gotten into cities,’’ Russell said.

Though the group is still young, it’s notched some significant accomplishments — most prominently helping distribute model legislation to end the automatic deduction of union dues from paychecks that 12 Kentucky counties implemented in 2014 as a precursor to that state becoming the 28th ‘‘right-to-work’’ state.

The exchange also distributes model legislation on everything from a taxpayer bill of rights that would require a supermajority to raise property taxes to measures requiring that cities explore all available materials to build sewer pipelines.

An official at the city council project, Bruce Hollands, is head of the PVC pipe association.

At the Denver meeting, Hollands gave a presentation to the roughly three-dozen attendees on how cities often rely excessively on iron pipes without enough bidding from manufacturers of other types.

Representatives of telephone companies gave presentations on new types of cellular service — and the need for different cellular towers — coming online.

And lobbyists from Uber and Airbnb touted the virtue of the sharing economy and state legislation that would prohibit cities from regulating it.

The value of states overruling city councils became something of a theme at the meeting, as liberals have hoped cities will pass measures to fight back against Trump’s administration.

With Republicans controlling 32 state legislatures, state houses have tried to prohibit cities from passing tax hikes, increasing the minimum wage or sheltering people who are in the country illegally.

That's Obama's true legacy: the complete destruction of the Democratic Party.


Koch's behind it and no mention of them?

"Scaramucci threats, insults inflame fierce White House fight" by Julie Bykowicz and Jonathan Lemire | AP July 28, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s new communications director exploded the smoldering tensions at the White House into a full-fledged conflagration Thursday, angrily daring Trump’s chief of staff to deny he’s a “leaker” and exposing West Wing backstabbing in language more suitable to a mobster movie than a seat of presidential stability.

A mob enforcer for the first Zionist crime boss president.

The mask has come off, huh?

In a pull-no-punches, impromptu CNN interview that he said was authorized by the president, Anthony Scaramucci went after chief of staff Reince Priebus in graphic terms. “The fish stinks from the head down,” he said. “I can tell you two fish that don’t stink, and that’s me and the president.”

Not even a week into his new job, Scaramucci accused unidentified senior officials of trying to sabotage him and committing a felony by leaking information. But the personal financial information that he said someone had “leaked” about him had simply been obtained through a public records request.

Then in an interview published by The New Yorker late Thursday, an angry Scaramucci used an expletive to accuse Priebus of being a “f------ paranoid schizophrenic” and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon of trying to burnish his own reputation.

Related: "Steve Bannon Pushing For 44 Percent Marginal Tax Rate On The Very Rich".  Only about half-way there, but still enough to cause a Koch heart attack.  Speaking of the Kochs, their ability to control the Republicans into walking a tightrope over American health care, with such profound and massive negative effects on millions of people of even one slip, is amazing.  I can't believe what I am seeing, but Americans seem to have accepted it as normal. -- xymphora

He also threatened to fire White House staffers who leaked about a dinner he had with the president.

“They’ll all be fired by me,” Scaramucci told the magazine. “I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus — if you want to leak something — he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.”

By day’s end Scaramucci sounded calmer, though not regretful.

“I sometimes use colorful language. I will refrain in this arena but not give up the passionate fight for @realDonaldTrump’s agenda. #MAGA,” he tweeted. The tag at the end stands for Trump’s “Make America Great Again.”

I used to use colorful language with descriptive metaphors. Now I never do. An occasional shit might slip through now and then, but that is hardly a swear word these days.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders referred reporters to the tweet.

The president’s senior counselor, Kellyanne Conway, had earlier speculated in a Fox News interview that unnamed forces were out to get Scaramucci, saying: “Somebody is trying to get in his way and scare him off.”

“There are leaks and then there are people using the press to shiv each other in the ribs,” she said.

Meanwhile, no one in the White House took up for Priebus — including Priebus himself.

He wants out but no one will take the job.

Scaramucci’s goading of Priebus came as Trump continued to fume publicly and privately about his attorney general, Jeff Sessions.


"MS-13 is an international criminal enterprise with tens of thousands of members in several Central American countries and many US states. The gang originated in immigrant communities in Los Angeles in the 1980s then entrenched itself in Central America when its leaders were deported....."

Some could say the same off the U.S. government.

Also see: 

"Warning of ‘‘holy hell’’ to pay if the president fires Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a top Senate Republican is working to prevent the potential end result, the dismissal of special counsel Robert Mueller. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is working on legislation that would block the firing of special counsels without judicial review. Democrats Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said Thursday they are among the senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee who are working with Graham on the effort. Despite a drumbeat of criticism from Trump, congressional Republicans have expressed strong support for former FBI director Mueller, who was appointed earlier this year to investigate allegations of Russian meddling in the US election and possible links to the Trump campaign. They have also rallied around Sessions, a former senator from Alabama who has become a daily target of critical tweets from Trump. Blumenthal said that the bill would protect Mueller, whose firing, he said, would precipitate a firestorm that would be unprecedented in proportions."

And that's all it will be, smoke, sound, and furry with no substance.

The bad blood stems from Scaramucci’s view that Priebus was insufficiently supportive of Trump at the end of the election campaign and his belief that Priebus persuaded the president to keep him out of the White House in January. Six months later, Scaramucci’s close relationship with the president trumped the opposition of Priebus and Bannon.

Scaramucci’s arrival in the West Wing last Friday marked the first in a series of falling dominoes that seemed to be leading toward Priebus. Press secretary Sean Spicer, a close ally of Priebus, resigned last week. Scaramucci then forced out another communications aide close to Priebus.

Scaramucci then tweeted that someone had illegally leaked financial information about him, conspicuously mentioning Priebus’ Twitter handle. Scaramucci later deleted that tweet and said he had only mentioned Priebus to show that all senior leaders are taking leaks seriously.

“In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info which is a felony, I will be contacting @FBI and the @JusticeDept #swamp @Reince45,” his since-deleted tweet read.

Scaramucci’s financial disclosure form wasn’t leaked at all. It was released after a public records request by a Politico reporter.

That's where my print copy ended it.

In the CNN interview, Scaramucci said he’d be reaching out to his “buddies” in the FBI about the matter.

If Scaramucci tries to direct the FBI to conduct a leak investigation, that could brush up against the Justice Department’s obligation to function independently from the White House, said Mark Zaid, a national security lawyer in Washington.

“It starts to potentially smell and approach an inappropriate line,” Zaid said.

Brad Gerstman, a New York lobbyist and public relations executive, said it probably doesn’t matter to Trump that Scaramucci and Priebus don’t get along. Gerstman has done projects for the Trump Organization and is a neighbor and longtime friend of Scaramucci’s.

“In my experience, he’s of the belief that sometimes a little friction in the ranks is how you surface the best ideas,” Gerstman said of Trump.

But another rule of thumb in Trump’s inner circle is that it’s never wise to outshine the president.

Trump has reacted angrily when certain aides — including Bannon and, briefly, son-in-law Jared Kushner — received outsized media attention.

Ari Fleischer, who served as press secretary under George W. Bush, said, “Ask Steve Bannon what happens if you get too much publicity and go too far.”

“It reminds me of Icarus flying too close to the sun.”

I'm melting!


What a nest of snakes, with all apologies due to snakes.


Alaska senators get called out

I'd be a little worried.

Trump honors first responders

Now that's loyalty!

The Globe's web version was a WaPo pos, and even the Globe staff had something to say.

Also see:

"White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said on CNN that President Trump may veto a bill designed to restrain his ability to roll back sanctions against Russia, despite the very strong likelihood that lawmakers will have the votes to override it. Congress has approved an unprecedented oversight role for itself in the Russia-focused portion of the sanctions bill, which also stiffens punitive measures against Iran and North Korea....."

That a fluke or is there a new king in town?

US-backed Syrian fighters now control almost half of Raqqa

You would be foolish to read these thinking you will find some answers.

Look who they deployed

"Top officer says transgender policy unchanged for now" by Robert Burns Associated Press   July 27, 2017

WASHINGTON — By late Thursday, the Pentagon still had nothing more to go on than the tweets, a highly irregular circumstance that put Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and others in the chain of command in a position of awkward unease, if not paralysis. A commander in chief normally works out policy changes of this magnitude in advance in order to preserve order and morale.

President Trump’s tweets drew quick, sometimes scathing criticism from many lawmakers, both Democratic and Republican, as well as many military troops and retirees. But social conservatives applauded. Protesters demonstrated in several cities as well as outside the White House.

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an internal memo to all military service chiefs, commanders, and enlisted leaders: ‘‘I know there are questions about yesterday’s announcement.’’ He said nothing would change until the president’s direction had been received and developed by Mattis into written ‘‘implementation guidance.’’

‘‘In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect,’’ Dunford wrote. ‘‘As importantly, given the current fight and the challenges we face, we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions.’’ That last statement appeared to reflect a concern that confusion over Trump’s tweets might distract troops, who are engaged in dangerous operations around the world, including wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said guidance on how to ‘‘fully implement this policy’’ is still to be worked out. Asked whether Trump realized he could not change the transgender service policy via Twitter, Sanders said, ‘‘I think he was making the announcement of the policy change,’’ even though no specifics had been worked out.

Mattis has been on vacation this week and has been publicly silent. Sanders has said Trump informed Mattis of his decision after he made it on Tuesday. It was Trump’s judgment, she said, that transgender individuals are an unacceptable cost and distraction for the military and should not be allowed.

Dunford was not aware that Trump was going to announce the ban, a US official said. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter and so spoke on condition of anonymity.

The top Air Force officer, General David Goldfein, sent a note internally to his entire force Thursday citing Dunford’s memo and saying that he and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson ‘‘emphasize that all airmen will be treated with dignity and respect as we work through the potential policy changes’’ coming from the White House.

Together, the Dunford and Goldfein notes illustrate that military leaders did not equate Trump’s tweets with legal orders.

General Mark Milley, the Army chief of staff, made similar points during a speech at the National Press Club.

Trump’s announcement caught the Pentagon flat-footed in a way rarely seen in the recent history of civil-military relations. The Pentagon has not released data on the number of transgender people currently serving, but a Rand Corp. study has estimated between 1,320 and 6,630, out of 1.3 million active-duty troops. 

One in a thousand and yet all this pre$$!

Trump tweeted that he had consulted with ‘‘my generals and military experts,’’ but the White House has not identified them and none have come forward. Just last week, when asked about the transgender issue at a Senate hearing, Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, ‘‘I am an advocate of every qualified person who can meet the physical standards to serve in our uniformed services to be able to do so.’’

Transgender service members have been able to serve openly since 2016.....



"The Department of Justice has filed court papers arguing that a major federal civil rights law does not protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation, taking a stand against a decision reached under President Obama. The department’s move to insert itself into the New York case was an uncommon example of top officials in Washington opining directly in the courts on what is an important but essentially private dispute between a worker and his boss over gay rights issues. Civil rights advocates immediately criticized the filing not only for the arguments it advanced but also for having been made on the same day that President Trump announced on Twitter that transgender people would be banned from serving in the military....."

Incredibly, even China treats their LGBT soldiers better (fortunately, a job just opened up in the police department).

"Boy Scouts apologize for Trump’s remarks at jamboree" by Liam Stack New York Times  July 27, 2017

Facing an angry backlash from parents and former members, the chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America apologized on Thursday for political remarks made by President Trump at the organization’s national jamboree this week, during which the commander-in-chief crowed over his election victory, attacked the news media, and criticized Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama.

Michael Surbaugh, the organization’s chief, said in a statement Thursday that it was “never our intent” for the national jamboree to become a venue for partisan political attacks.

“I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree,” he wrote. He added, “We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program.”

Speaking to a crowd of some 40,000 Scouts, volunteers and others in West Virginia on Monday, Trump attacked the “fake media” and celebrated his “incredible” election victory.

“Do you remember that incredible night with the maps?” he asked the crowd of mostly under-voting-age attendees. “And that map was so red it was unbelievable, and they didn’t know what to say.”

Trump mocked Clinton for losing Michigan in the election, and many in the crowd booed her name. He regaled the Scouts with stories from a New York cocktail party. And he drew attention to the fact that Obama had declined to attended the National Jamboree during his years in office. (Obama stayed away from the event over the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay and transgender Scouts and scoutmasters, which has since changed.)

At one point, the crowd erupted into chants of “We love Trump!” and booed Obama.

I'm sure it was just a fluke.

Trump’s remarks prompted an immediate and scathing backlash against the Boy Scouts, which are suffering from a steep decline in membership and cultural relevance after a yearslong period in which it drew national headlines mainly for its hostility to the prospect of openly gay or transgender members.

Brian Alexander, who earned the Eagle rank as a teenager in Ohio, told The Times in an interview this week that he considered Trump’s remarks on Monday “a disgrace.”

Print stopped it there, and what is clear is that perverts that are leadership are out of touch with rank-and-file.

“Based on my experience with Scouting, the point is you’re supposed to grow up to be someone not like Donald Trump,” he said. “You’re supposed to grow up to be someone like John McCain or Barack Obama.”

What a piece of partisan junk!

In his statement on Thursday, Surbaugh said the Boy Scouts have invited sitting US presidents to address the national jamboree regularly since 1937. Such invitations should not be construed as “an endorsement of any person, party or policies,” he said.

“While we live in a challenging time in a country divided along political lines, the focus of Scouting remains the same today as every day,” he wrote. “In a time when differences seem to separate our country, we hope the true spirit of Scouting will empower our next generation of leaders to bring people together to do good in the world.”




"Hillary Clinton is calling her new book ‘‘What Happened’’ and promising unprecedented candor as she remembers her stunning defeat last year to Donald Trump. Simon & Schuster said Thursday that Clinton’s book will be a highly personal work that also is a ‘‘cautionary tale’’ about Russian interference in last year’s election and its threat to democracy. ‘‘What Happened’’ is scheduled to come out Sept. 12 and has evolved since first announced, in February. Clinton’s loss has already been the subject of the best-selling ‘‘Shattered,’’ a highly critical book by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, and a more sympathetic account, Susan Bordo’s ‘‘The Destruction of Hillary Clinton.’’ 

She is still in denial and doesn't realize we all want her to go away.

“She lays out how the 2016 election was marked by an unprecedented assault on our democracy by a foreign adversary,” the publisher said a statement. “By analyzing the evidence and connecting the dots, Hillary shows just how dangerous the forces were that shaped the outcome, and why Americans need to understand them to protect our values and our democracy in the future.” Don’t feel too bad for Clinton. Though the amount of her advance has not been made public, her husband, Bill Clinton, was paid $15 million for his memoir, “My Life,” and then-Senator Clinton got $8 million for her previous memoir....."

She is like a Jerry Springer guest, taking no responsibility whatsoever for what happened, and Chelsea got how much for her book?

Charlie Gard will be moved to hospice, judge says

A worldwide debate over end-of-life rights is coming to an exhausting and emotional end, and he will soon be forgotten.

RelatedDiver recounts dramatic rescue of boy after boat capsized in Buzzards Bay

It's a thrilling account of how they pulled him out in record time.

"The Waltham fire, coming less than a month after an 83-unit building burned in the Ashmont section of Dorchester, highlights the concerns about an increasingly popular style of housing in Greater Boston: putting four or five stories of lightweight wood framing above a concrete ground floor. Fire officials warn that such tall wooden structures are especially vulnerable to fire during construction. That risk could be lessened, some say, with proactive fire-safety plans. Such plans were recently written into state fire codes and are beginning to be required from builders by cities and towns....."

Going to have to rede$ign the plans.

"French firefighters have tamed one of the fiercest blazes to break out during four days of wildfires in the country’s southeast Mediterranean coast. The fire in the seaside town of Bormes-Les-Mimosas in the southern Var region calmed Thursday because of a drop in the wind — but despite the progress, authorities feared there would be flare-ups.  In the meantime, evacuees are being housed in makeshift shelters. One displaced French camper, Stephanie Reiny, who slept at the sailing club, was upbeat on learning that the firefighters were making progress. ‘‘I will go straight away to the camping site for sure. . . . I’m not scared anymore,’’ she said. Some 3,000 firefighters have been deployed to contain the flames that broke out Monday in the southeast of France and on the island of Corsica....."

Now the tourists know what it feels like to be a migrant.

Update: Macron declares martial law

Couldn't happen here:

"Drought conditions worsened in several states over the past week from extreme heat and weeks with little rain, raising the prospect that grocery staples such as bread and beans could cost more as the region that produces those commodities is hardest hit. Drought conditions have begun to stress corn, soybeans, wheat, and livestock in some areas, according to the weekly US Drought Monitor released Thursday by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln....."

Or could it?

"How Hingham police say a fatal standoff unfolded" by Jenna Russell Globe Staff  July 28, 2017

HINGHAM — Incident reports released by local and regional law enforcement agencies this week revealed new details about the 10-hour standoff that brought dozens of police officers and heavy equipment to a quiet neighborhood here late at night on July 8, and ended with the suicide of a 26-year-old man at his family’s home.

According to reports by Hingham police and the Metro Law Enforcement Council — a regional consortium of 48 local police agencies that sent added manpower and specialized equipment to the Hingham call — the episode began when the young man, Austin Reeves, threatened to kill himself and his former girlfriend’s new boyfriend.

In the days before the standoff, he had texted a photograph of a black handgun to the new boyfriend, and on the night of the standoff, his girlfriend told police he made additional threats to harm himself and the boyfriend, according the reports.

Concerned about his state of mind, his former girlfriend called police and asked them to check on him.

The robust police response that followed included a regional SWAT team with armored vehicles, a K9 unit, and multiple trained negotiators who spent hours trying unsuccessfully to establish a dialogue with the distraught young man.

They spent hours trying to talk to a dead man.

Police ultimately sent robots and remote-controlled cameras into the house on Edgar Walker Court to find him; they eventually discovered him dead in a bedroom. Reeves’s father, Russell Reeves — whose contentious history with Hingham town government spans years of legal conflict — has publicly criticized the police response to his home as heavy-handed.

He told The Boston Globe police ignored his pleas to leave his son in peace and said he believed the aggressive show of force caused his son to feel cornered and kill himself.

Hingham police previously declined a Globe request for an in-depth interview or detailed records of the incident, citing an ongoing investigation by the office of the Plymouth district attorney — routine in such cases — to confirm the cause of death was suicide. On Thursday, Hingham police Chief Glenn Olsson defended his department’s response, calling it “100 percent appropriate” under the circumstances but said the focus of concern should be the loss of Austin Reeves’s life.

“My focus is that a 26-year-old’s life was lost here, and I don’t want to lose that fact,” Olsson said. “I feel horrible for the family, and I don’t want this to be an us-versus-them situation. I’m confident in the way we handled the situation — the focus should be on helping the family grieve.”

Yeah, don't ask questions just grieve for the loss of life (just a fluke). I'm sure the lawyer I linked loves seeing that.

The newly released reports describe progressive efforts by police to determine whether Austin Reeves had a weapon; to contact him as he remained upstairs in his parents’ home; and to determine his location in the house. According to the Hingham police incident report, officers speaking to his parents “continued to emphasize that the goal in mind was to have Austin removed from the home safely and transported to the hospital for an evaluation.”

That right there might have been enough to set him off, and did it need to take such a massive police response for that?

“It was our firm stance based on our training, experience, and the information at hand that had officers ‘rushed in’ we could have potentially forced a suicide by our presence,” Hingham police wrote in their report. Instead, local officers called for backup from the regional team and its trained negotiators. The police records were first reported this week in the Quincy Patriot Ledger.

The Hingham police chief said Thursday that the decision to call for a regional response stemmed partly from the small number of local officers available, and the need to be prepared for a range of possible outcomes and developments — and other unrelated law enforcement needs elsewhere in the town.

Again, the reaction to a guy holed-up in his room.... sigh. 

And why is the city of Hingham so understaffed with police?

Early in the standoff, while they were speaking with his parents outside the house, police reported that Reeves briefly exited the home through the front door, only to turn and flee back inside when he saw police in the yard. A few minutes later, according to the Metro Law Enforcement Council incident report, a Hingham police officer heard a sound inside the house. “The officer did not believe it was consistent with a gunshot, but all three officers on scene did hear it,” the report noted.

Early in the standoff, huh?

All efforts to communicate with Reeves were unsuccessful. 

Because he was already dead -- and while the parent's were being ferried around on some goose chase. 

After the arrival of the Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad, around 2:30 a.m., squad members sent an advanced technology robot, known as a “throwbot,” into the home to determine Reeves’s location, but the team lost contact with the robot. A later search with a remote-controlled camera detected a motionless figure on the floor in an upstairs bedroom just before 7 a.m.; police then sent a trained “entry team” of officers into the house to confirm that Reeves was dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The world of AI is going to be great, ain't it?

On Thursday, a little more than two weeks after his death, Reeves’s former girlfriend said she, too, is focused on the loss and not the circumstances.

“Austin was a very deep person, so smart and hardworking, and he had so many plans and ideas for the future,” Tanya Buzzi-Ames said. “He could have done anything — I told him that all the time. But I don’t think he ever saw his own light, or held himself in the same regard that everybody else did.”


The message: police are always justified.

Good thing to keep in mind in Arkansas:

"The operator of an eastern Arkansas emergency shelter for juveniles where a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed by police Tuesday night is asking for prayers but saying little else about the episode. No one has said why police were called or whether they felt endangered. Aries Clark’s mother, Vicky Clark, told Memphis television station WMC that the family had been seeking help for her son because he was being disruptive. ‘‘I never expected not to see my son again,’’ Vicky Clark said in a tearful interview. ‘‘I had saw him that Thursday, and we were trying to figure out how we were going to do therapy and things to get him help.’’ No one would say why Clark was at the home. Marion Police Chief Gary Kelley declined to release any details about the ‘‘ongoing investigation.’’  East Arkansas Youth Services is a nonprofit that ‘‘provides positive alternatives to institutionalization’’ for at-risk children, according to its website. Boys and girls ages 8 to 18 receive services there, but only boys can live there....."

That doesn't read right, but I'm sure Tom Brady will make all your wishes come true.

Senate approves bilingual education measure

don't understand them.

"Two women and a man from Revere were arrested in New Jersey on Wednesday on charges of forcing a 23-year-old victim into prostitution in Atlantic City, authorities said. The suspects were identified by the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s office as Jovana Jensen, 37, Laraza White, 24, and Galen Spriggs, 39. They were identified by New Jersey authorities as residents of Revere. All three are charged with human trafficking, first degree; and promoting prostitution, third degree, according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office. Jensen and White are expected to appear in court Thursday for detention hearings while Spriggs is scheduled for next Tuesday, the prosecutor’s office said. The 23-year-old victim was rescued and provided services by the New Jersey Dream Catcher program, which helps victims of sex trafficking return to their community. The three were arrested after investigators received a tip about alleged human trafficking from the Atlantic City Police Department, officials said. No further information is currently available."

"A man who has been convicted eight times for groping women on Massachusetts public transportation has been sentenced to more than four years in prison for doing it again. Dane Mullin, a former Salem resident who is now homeless, was arrested last September after authorities say he groped a female passenger on the MBTA Red Line. The Salem News reports that the 31-year-old Mullin admitted Wednesday he violated his probation ordered after a similar crime in 2013. He and his attorney, Meredith Reeves, have agreed to a deal under which he would serve four to five years in prison for violating his probation. Mullin is a sex offender who has been repeatedly arrested for indecent assault and battery since he was 17."

Says he was drunk.

" founder and Washington Post owner Jeffrey P. Bezos on Thursday briefly became the richest person in the world, displacing Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Bezos’ rise to number one followed a surge in shares Thursday ahead of the online retailer’s earnings report due later in the day. The company’s shares have been on a tear over the past year, passing the $1,000 mark and hitting $1,082 around noon on Thursday, propelling Bezos, 53, to $90.6 billion, compared with Gates’s $90.1 billion. Gates, 61, who built his fortune through Microsoft, has long been among the world’s richest and had held the top spot since May 2013. By midday, however, Amazon shares gave up much of the gain, and Gates reclaimed the top spot on Forbes magazine’s real-time measure of the fortunes of the world’s wealthiest people." — WASHINGTON POST

How intere$ting since I just commented yesterday how sick I am of the rich man's paper. Turns out it is literally coming right from the top.

Wells Fargo forced unwanted auto insurance on borrowers

can't see the fine print but I'm sure it's all clean.

"With the US political class glued to their Twitter feeds — or just one Twitter feed, in particular — it should be a great time for the social network. But after getting an election bump last quarter that many analysts tied to President Trump, the social network is actually losing American users, according to its monthly active user numbers. Twitter just isn’t growing as much as investors would like to see. That’s the main takeaway from the social network’s latest quarterly earnings report..... — WASHINGTON POST

Twitter is nothing but elites talking to themselves -- which is why it is so prevalent in the ma$$ media.

Verizon adds more than 350,000 phone subscribers

Apple to drop two of cheapest iPods

Immelt on list of candidates to become CEO of Uber

GE to cut 575 locomotive jobs in Pennsylvania

He got off that train just in time.

"More Americans applied for jobless aid last week, though the number of people seeking benefits remains near historic lows, pointing to a healthy job market, the Labor Department said Thursday....."

That is a recording.