Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sunday Globe Special: Ya Gotta Believe!

I'm going to let you make the final determination:

"Trump, an untested leader, facing several key military crises" by Matt Viser Globe Staff  July 08, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Trump has packed his Cabinet with more generals than any president since World War II. One of his favorite movies is “Patton,” he owned a football team in the 1980s called the New Jersey Generals, and he’s often touted his relationship with the military brass.

When Nixon was melting down at the end he was watching Patton over and over.

But despite Trump’s deep affinity for the armed forces, he is a historically inexperienced commander in chief now dealing with an array of problems that have vexed each of his predecessors as well.

Wars in Syria and Afghanistan. Warlike talk coming out of North Korea, not to mention missiles. Nose to nose with Vladimir Putin on several fronts. And who knows what comes next.

Now North Korea.

“We are now at a point of peril that is difficult for us to imagine,” said Gordon Chang, author of the book “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World.” “I can’t think of anybody I have confidence in making the correct decisions. There’s so little margin for error. This is not Trump’s fault. But Trump is the president we have. And we all better hope he makes the right decisions.”

Trump so far has been vague and inconsistent, offering veiled threats but few specifics.

“We’ll see what happens,” Trump said on Thursday. “I have some pretty severe things that we’re thinking about.” A few hours later, Defense Secretary James Mattis offered clarification: War, he said, was not one of the things they were thinking about.

“I do not believe this capability in itself brings us close to war,” Mattis said, adding that the emphasis would be on economic and diplomatic avenues.

The topic was a constant theme during Trump’s two days of meetings at the Group of 20 conference that concluded Saturday in Hamburg. In meetings with South Korea and Japan, Trump assured leaders that the United States would support them. And during a meeting Saturday with President Xi Jinping of China, who has been reluctant to pressure his country’s North Korean ally, Trump stressed that “something has to be done.”

“It may take longer than I’d like, it may take longer than you’d like,” Trump said. “But there will be success in the end one way or the other.” 

I hope it takes an eternity if it means less war-mongering from and in my pre$$.

Following a lengthy face-to-face meeting with Putin on Friday, the Trump administration also announced an agreement with Russia for a limited cease-fire in southwestern Syria.

But the conference also put on display how isolated the United States has become under Trump, with other world powers now pursuing their own trade deals and agreeing to continue working together on climate change. 

I'm always flabbergasted by that stuff because I have been led to believe everyone is with us.

Even simple handshakes with longtime allies can now seem fraught.

I'm not even.... (sigh).

Watching Trump on the foreign stage can be jarring after eight years of Barack Obama.

I know you guys want him back, but c'mon. He's pigging out at the $pigot of former presidents while rubbing elbows with the elite cla$$ to which he belongs, and I haven't seen much of that tarni$h in my paper.

“If you have somebody who was steeped in foreign policy their entire lives and acting on their gut? Fine,” Chang said. “But you’re dealing with someone who is not a foreign policy guy and he’s making decisions on his gut.”

Then he is like George W. Bush.

Still, Chang said, Trump should be judged on results rather than how he does it.

Obama’s tenure was rocked by the Arab Spring and the dramatic shifts that upheaval introduced into the region. Libya descended into civil war, and Syria’s regime, fighting its own civil war, used chemical weapons on its own people.

He followed through on his promised Iraq draw-down, which many observers believe was premature and gave an opening to the Islamic State. But Obama achieved some military successes: He authorized the killing of Osama bin Laden and oversaw a large expansion of drone operations that took out terrorist plotters and insurgents.

What an absolute rewrite of history, or at best a distortion! The Arab Spring was USraeli-generated to overthrow stale dictators and install fresh faces, Libya was fine until Khadafy was overthrown, Syria is a regime change operation, he was sending troops to Iraq when he left, ISIS is a CIA creation, and the bin Laden stuff was bull.

Trump is relying heavily on his military advisers early in his administration and has shown in several instances that he is willing to engage more readily than Obama.

What does that mean? That Obama's hands are somehow less bloody?

“What we’ve seen is not the hesitation or reluctance to use military force that it seems sometimes plagued his predecessor,” said Mitchell Reiss, a former senior diplomat who held top State Department positions during the George W. Bush administration.

Shortly after taking office, Trump authorized a raid in Yemen in which a Navy SEAL was killed. Trump later went to Dover Air Force Base to witness the return of the remains of Senior Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens.

When criticism of the operation emerged, however, he seemed to put responsibility for the raid on his generals.

In early February, after Iran test-fired a ballistic missile, Trump’s administration responded aggressively, saying Iran was “on notice.” It won raves among his fans.

“That was confrontation,” said Retired Army General Jack Keane, who talked with Trump during his transition. “When he did that, at that point, the appeasement and accommodation policy of the Obama administration was over. He declared that he was going to confront our adversaries.”

Look at the "experts" they are talking to.

The biggest action Trump has authorized was a strike on Syria in April, in retaliation for President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons. His administration also deployed the so-called mother of all bombs, a massive conventional weapon, on Afghanistan, although Trump would not say whether he personally authorized it.

“I think he’s very decisive, certainly making the decision to execute the strike in Syria was very decisive on his part,” Keane said. “He wasn’t vacillating.”

But the previous military options presented to Trump were far less risky than any scenario available for North Korea, which could easily retaliate with massive strikes aimed at South Korea’s civilian population.

“He’s following on a 25-year record of bipartisan failure on North Korea policy,” said Peter Feaver, who worked on the Bush administration’s National Security Council. “So far he seems on track to suffer a similar fate. And in fairness to Trump, it’s harder now than it was before. Obama had more options than Trump, Bush had more options than Obama, and Clinton had more options than Bush. The options have narrowed as time has gone on. It’s hard to criticize Trump alone without tarring his predecessors with the same brush.”

Another Bushie.

Some of Trump’s reactions have also been over-the-top, with bellicose language that he hasn’t been able to back up.

So, now what?

Robert Einhorn, a former US Department of State special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, said, “Trump has begun to understand that we have no viable option.”

The most likely direction for the new administration, Einhorn and others said, would be one of containment, putting an emphasis on developing capabilities to intercept any missiles while building up the defenses of key allies like South Korea and Japan. More pressure on China could be applied, while also increasing the number of sanctions on North Korea.

“We were able to deter the Soviet Union when they had 30,000 weapons,” said Reiss, who was a negotiator in the Korean peninsula. “You’re telling me we can’t deter an isolated, paranoid country that has maybe a dozen weapons?”

Why is Israeli being dragged into this?

In some cases Trump has yielded some of his authority — which supporters say empowers the military advisers who know best and critics worry could lead the country to unnecessary wars.....

Whadda ya' mean, unnecessary wars? I have been told all the wars were necessary in one form or fashion, and it continues as I type and you read.


And here is the “US isolating itself once again”:

"G-20 leaders pledge climate action, even without Trump" by Steven Eranger and Alison Smale New York Times  July 08, 2017

HAMBURG, Germany — The wording on climate change in the communiqué represented a much-needed victory for host Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, who played a major role in forging compromise language after France raised objections.

In most other respects, though, the summit meeting had to be a bitter disappointment for the chancellor. This summit meeting was always going to be primarily about Trump and his first meeting with President Vladimir Putin of Russia.

It has also been about efforts by most of the rest of the world to cajole Trump into softening his stances on global trade and the climate, with Merkel in a secondary role, trying to come up with compromises.

Her standing has also suffered as Germans have been shocked by violent protests by a small bloc of anarchists who saw the G-20 as a perfect platform for their rejection of capitalism and order.

The atmosphere around Hamburg has been that of an armed camp. Police arrested 143 people, and 122 activists were temporarily detained. Some 213 officers were injured since protests began Thursday.

Merkel expressly backed the 100,000 or so peaceful demonstrators who massed here in recent days and were marching Saturday.....

Oh, yeah, them.


"Putin says he thinks Trump accepted election hacking denial" by Joe Light Bloomberg News  July 08, 2017

WASHINGTON — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday that he believes President Trump agrees with his denial that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Such a conclusion by Trump would put him at odds with the conclusion of multiple intelligence and lawmakers.

And you just don't do that despite the history of lies, deceptions, and alleged incompetence. You have to take what US BS agencies say on faith, just as you must accept "climate change."

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who attended the meeting along with his Russian counterpart, said Trump decided to move on in the meeting because the disagreement seemed intractable. 

I did a long time ago.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Tillerson’s suggestion of giving equal weight to the US intelligence community and to Putin’s denials was a “grave dereliction of duty and will only encourage Russia to further interfere in our elections in the future.”

Schumer encouraged his congressional colleagues to toughen sanctions against Russia. 

Fine, Chuck, whatever.

At a press conference in Hamburg on Saturday, Putin said Trump raised the issue of Russia interfering in the election many times, but earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said reporters should “believe Lavrov” regarding differences in accounts of Friday’s meeting given by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Tillerson.

Trump, Putin, their top diplomats, and translators were the only people present during the long-anticipated meeting.

After the meeting, Lavrov told reporters that Trump agreed with Putin’s assurances that Russia hadn’t interfered in the election. “He accepts these statements,” Lavrov said of Trump — a contention that the White House denied vigorously.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that the Russian government helped direct a sophisticated effort to tilt the 2016 presidential election in Trump’s favor. Trump has been reluctant to accept that conclusion.

“It could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries,” Trump said during a news conference in Warsaw on Thursday. “I think a lot of people interfere. I think it’s been happening for a long time.”

Yeah, it was likely from the now deceased Seth Rich (add him to the Clinton body count), and why did the DNC never hand over the servers?

The US agencies concluded that Russian hackers stole and released e-mails of officials in the Democratic National Committee with the intent to damage Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and help Trump. 

Repeated as if true even with zero evidence, and it is not the first time I've read a lying narrative in my pre$$.

Since the election, there have been fresh reports of breaches or attempted breaches of other computer systems in the United States, many of which are suspected to be tied to Russia.

Then why was Russia also a victim? 

The only ones who escaped essentially unscathed were Israel and the United States.

Putin on Saturday said the United States and Russia could start restoring relations if contacts continue in the same way as Friday’s conversation. He also denied that Russia would attempt to interfere in other elections around the world, including in Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel is running for reelection in September.

I'm not holding my breath, and now all the globalist pukes can holler Russian interference if they lose, or they can claim redemption after a rigged vote.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said Trump “knows” Russia interfered in the 2016 election, but didn’t respond directly on whether the president, in Friday’s meeting, accepted Putin’s assurances to the contrary.


“President Trump still knows that they meddled. President Putin knows that they meddled, but he is never going to admit to it. And that’s all that happened,” Haley said in a taped interview for CBS’s “Face the Nation” scheduled to be broadcast on Sunday. The network provided a partial transcript of Haley’s comments.


Since when did the ma$$ media Sunday BSers start leaking interview material ahead of schedule? 

Ratings really that bad (my TV is off right now and has been all morning)?

On whether Russia would face consequences for interfering, Haley said “You’re going to have to ask the president.”

In a separate interview to air Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Haley said “everyone knows” Russia meddled in the US election.

And if you repeat it often enough, you will convince everyone you are a damn tool, I mean, fool.

“They’re doing this across multiple continents, and they’re doing this in a way that they’re trying to cause chaos within the countries,” Haley said, according to a transcript from the network. 

They have a CIA, too?

One Russian tabloid called the meeting “historic,” and there was a general sense that the talks could halt the decline in relations and lack of contact between the two countries.

Ah, tabloid! Like what I read.

This meeting “opened the way to a second, a third, a fourth meeting, where meaningful decisions will be made,” Sergei Markov, a political commentator close to the Kremlin, wrote on Facebook.


What is often overlooked is that the degradation of the presidency began under Bill Clinton.


"Poland’s former president Lech Walesa, a democracy hero, has been hospitalized with heart problems in his Baltic coast home city of Gdansk, his son said Saturday. The 73-year-old Walesa on Thursday attended a speech by President Trump in Warsaw. He was booed by many in a crowd that supported the current government in Poland....."

You broke his heart with the boos. 

"Firefighters and police in Italy on Saturday pulled the eighth and final body from the rubble of a five-story apartment building that partly collapsed in Torre Annunziata, a seaside town south of Naples. The digging through the debris for victims ended more than 24 hours after the building collapsed in the early morning. About 80 firefighters worked alongside police and other crews through the night."

Also see:

Lack of equipment hobbled firefighters
6-year-old English soccer fan dies of cancer

That cast a shadow over the kingdom.

Acrobat plummets to death in rock music festival in Madrid
American gored at Pamplona bull run promises to run again


Trump has seen the enemy, and they are..... 

"Trump, Asian allies seek counter to North Korean ‘menace’" by Ken Thomas Associated Press  July 08, 2017

HAMBURG, Germany — Wrapping up his second European tour, President Trump and Asian allies searched for consensus Saturday on how to counter what the president called the ‘‘menace’’ of North Korea after its test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

‘‘Something has to be done about it,’’ Trump said as he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. In a separate meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said the two were tackling ‘‘the problem and menace of North Korea.’’

The White House said after the meeting with Abe that the United States is ‘‘prepared to use the full range of capabilities’’ in defense of Japan.

Trump and Abe committed, the White House said, ‘‘to redoubling their efforts to bring all nations together to show North Korea that there are consequences for its threatening and unlawful actions.’’

The Trump administration has tried to pressure Beijing to rein in North Korea, a major trading partner, to halt Kim Jong Un’s development of nuclear weapons before they have the ability to threaten the US homeland. Trump has voiced his frustration in recent days that China hasn’t done more.

But during his meeting, Trump told Xi, ‘‘I appreciate the things that you have done relative to the very substantial problem that we all face in North Korea.’’

Xi must be rolling his eyes knowing the two-facedness of this guy.

Trump’s extensive slate of sideline meetings with Abe, Xi, British Prime Minister Theresa May, and others came on the final day of the Group of 20 summit. Trump also had a brief, unscheduled meeting with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan about the war in Syria.

Yeah, Turkey on the sh** list now.

Abe, speaking through a translator, noted that the security situation in the Asia Pacific region has become ‘‘increasingly severe’’ due to North Korea’s push to develop its ballistic missile and nuclear program. Abe said he wanted to ‘‘demonstrate the robust partnership as well as the bonds’’ between Japan and the United States on the issue.


"The death toll from heavy rain and flooding in southern Japan this week has risen to 15, officials said Saturday, as rescue workers reached isolated villages where at least 14 others are missing and feared dead. Heavy rain warnings were still in place for parts of the southern island of Kyushu, days after Typhoon Nanmadol struck, triggering floods and mudslides." 

A typhoon -- along with a North Korea launch! 

And he didn't return home?

North Korea’s successful test launch of an ICBM was a major milestone in its long-term effort to build a missile that could carry a nuclear warhead to attack the United States.

That's actually a lie.

The issue was a frequent topic of discussion at the summit, and the White House said earlier that the United States, South Korea, and Japan were pressing for more measures against North Korea to demonstrate the ‘‘serious consequences’’ for its latest provocations.

The three nations have been calling for ‘‘early adoption’’ of a new UN Security Council resolution and additional sanctions to demonstrate to Pyongyang the price of its actions.

Bringing China on board is a key part of the plan. The administration wants China to fully enforce international sanctions intended to starve Pyongyang of revenue for its nuclear and missile programs. But Trump has been dissatisfied with China’s response.

Earlier in the week, he vented on Twitter that trade between China and North Korea had grown nearly 40 percent at the start of 2017. ‘‘So much for China working with us — but we had to give it a try!’’

I'm sure the Chinese got a CC.

Trump officials said later that the president hadn’t given up on the relationship.

Even though we have kind of given up on you.

This guy is low on the pole regarding who is really running the show. Kushner gets the orders and Cohn holds down the fort.

US military officials said two American bombers flew to the Korean Peninsula to join fighter jets from South Korea and Japan for a practice bombing run in response to North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

They described the Friday mission as a defensive show of force and unity from the three allied nations. ‘‘North Korea’s actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland,’’ said General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, US Pacific Air Forces commander. ‘‘Let me be clear: If called upon we are trained, equipped, and ready to unleash the full lethal capability of our allied air forces.’’

The two Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam conducted a 10-hour mission with South Korean and Japanese fighter jets.

What was the carbon footprint on that me$$age?



Do you believe the beheading videos?

"Al-Shabab extremists from neighboring Somalia beheaded nine civilians in an early-morning attack on a village in the southeast, Kenyan officials said Saturday, as concerns grew that the group had taken up a bloody new strategy. The attack occurred in Jima village in Lamu County, according to security agencies combating al-Shabab. The Al Qaeda-linked group has vowed retribution on Kenya for sending troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight insurgents."

Not really new, just trying it again, and one of those killed was Joseph Nkaissery, 67, Kenya’s interior minister.

"The United States on Saturday announced more than $630 million in aid for Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria, where conflict has helped to cause what the United Nations calls the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in more than 70 years. ‘‘This is truly a life-saving gift,’’ said David Beasley, head of the UN’s World Food Program. The United States is the world’s largest humanitarian donor, but President Trump has proposed deep cuts to foreign aid."

They got more than the ladies:

"Trump pledges $50 million to help women entrepreneurs" Associated Press  July 08, 2017

HAMBURG, Germany — President Trump said Saturday the United States would contribute $50 million to a new World Bank fund conceived by his daughter that aims to help women entrepreneurs access capital and other support.

Ivanka Trump joined World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim on the sidelines of the Group of 20 world leaders’ summit in Hamburg to launch the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative.

Kim said the fund had raised more than $325 million so far for projects and programs to support women and women-led businesses by improving access to capital and markets, providing technical assistance, training and mentoring, and pushing public policy. The fund grew out of conversations between Ivanka Trump and Kim early in Trump’s administration.

‘‘This is not a cute little project,’’ Kim said during a panel discussion, arguing the effort would spur real economic growth.

President Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke at the event, where Trump said the fund would help eliminate barriers for women to launch businesses, help transform ‘‘millions and millions of lives,’’ and ‘‘provide new hope to these women from countless communities all across the world.’’ 

Exempting, of course, the ones that have been killed by the airstrikes or forced to migrate from their ancestral lands.

‘‘The critical investments we’re announcing today will help advance the economic empowerment of women around the world,’’ he said. 

I'm tired of women being waved at us. These do-gooders are part of the 1%and this push is diversion and distraction to create division as we all get $crewed by the ruling cla$$.

Trump also took the opportunity to praise Ivanka Trump, who at one point Saturday was spotted sitting in her father’s seat at an official G-20 event after he had left the room. 

Maybe someday, 'eh, ladies?

A photo on Twitter showed Ivanka Trump sitting at her father’s place, between Chinese President Xi Jinping and British Prime Minister Theresa May. One official who was watching the session said she took her father’s place at the table on at least two occasions Saturday but did not speak.

Trump said he has been proud of her since ‘‘day one,’’ and offered a rare, self-deprecating assessment of the challenges he’s added to her life.

‘‘If she weren’t my daughter, it would be so much easier for her,’’ he said with laugh, adding: ‘‘That might be the only bad thing she has going.’’

Officials stressed that Ivanka Trump will not have an operational or fund-raising role with the fund, which will be run by a governing committee of contributors.

The commitment to the World Bank fund comes as the Trump administration has proposed dramatic cuts to diplomatic and development funding in line with the president’s ‘‘America First” foreign policy doctrine.

His proposal would cut money for the State Department and US Agency for International Development by more than 31 percent in the budget year beginning in October. 

AID = CIA, so good. Should eliminate it.

He has also banned federal dollars from going to international groups working on issues such as HIV, AIDS, and maternal and child health if they perform abortions or even provide information on the procedure.

The president has been criticized for crude remarks he’s made about women over the years, including a recent tweet focusing on a television news host’s appearance. Trump’s senior staff is dominated by men, despite the influence of Ivanka Trump, who serves as a senior White House adviser. 

As long as he isn't fooling around.

In addition to the United States, Germany, and Canada, the new fund has also received contributions from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Australia, China, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, and South Korea. 

Sort of like the CGI, huh?

During his 2016 campaign, Trump frequently criticized rival Hillary Clinton’s ties to her family’s Clinton Foundation, which received millions in donations from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and several other Mideast nations for charitable work.

But this is the World Bank and Ivanka will not have anything to do with it. It's a $5 spot that probably would have been given anyway.


Nice to see the family looking good.

"Trump team met with lawyer linked to Kremlin during campaign" by Jo Becker, Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman New York Times  July 08, 2017

Two weeks after Donald Trump clinched the Republican presidential nomination last year, his eldest son arranged a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with a Russian lawyer who has connections to the Kremlin, according to confidential government records described to The New York Times.


The previously unreported meeting was also attended by Trump’s campaign chairman at the time, Paul Manafort, as well as the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, according to interviews and the documents, which were outlined by people familiar with them.

While Trump has been dogged by revelations of undisclosed meetings between his associates and Russians, this episode at Trump Tower on June 9, 2016, is the first confirmed private meeting between a Russian national and members of Trump’s inner circle during the campaign. It is also the first time that his son Donald Trump Jr. is known to have been involved in such a meeting.

Representatives of Donald Trump Jr. and Kushner confirmed the meeting after The Times approached them with information about it. In a statement, Donald Jr. described the meeting as primarily about an adoption program. The statement did not address whether the presidential campaign was discussed.

US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian hackers and propagandists worked to tip the election toward Donald Trump, and a special prosecutor and congressional committees are investigating whether his campaign associates colluded with Russians. Trump has disputed that, but the investigation has cast a shadow over his administration for months.

At this point I realized this is -- once again -- more NYT rubbish!

The Trump Tower meeting was not disclosed to government officials until recently, when Kushner, who is also a senior White House aide, filed a revised version of a form required to obtain a security clearance.....

Kushner’s lawyer is Clinton loyalist Jamie Gorelick, who also participated in the 9/11 cover-up (she was the one protecting the Clintons).


Did Obama or the Clintons ever meet with the Russians? Ever?

Also see:

Harlem bristles at rebranding attempt

Believe it or not, they are claiming it is Trump's fault!


A battered ISIS returns focus to insurgency

New conflicts provided new opportunities!

"UN says truce deal in southern Syria will help peace talks" Associated Press  July 08, 2017

DAMASCUS — The United Nations on Saturday welcomed the agreement struck between the United States and Russia for a cease-fire in southwest Syria, saying it would support upcoming peace talks.

The UN’s deputy special envoy to Syria, Ramzy Ramzy, said he hopes the agreement announced a day earlier in Hamburg, Germany will lead to similar arrangements elsewhere in Syria to reduce the violence.

‘‘The UN is always seeking to reduce tension and escalation in fighting, and I think this is a step in the right direction,’’ he told reporters in Damascus. ‘‘All this is obviously support for the political process.’’

The cease-fire goes into effect Sunday at noon, Damascus time, with no end date, according to US officials and the Jordanian government, which is also involved in the deal. Russian officials said Russian military police would monitor the new truce, but US officials say the details are still under discussion.

Earlier in the week, Syria’s military said it was halting combat operations in the southern provinces of Daraa, Quneitra, and Sweida for four days, in advance of a new round of Russian-sponsored talks in Kazakhstan. The Syrian government extended the unilateral cease-fire, which is now set to expire Saturday.

Syrian opposition activists reported low-level violence in Daraa on Saturday, following weeks of intense fighting in the divided province. Nabaa news media and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a woman was killed when government helicopters dropped barrel bombs on a village in northeastern Daraa.

The observatory said a total of 16 such bombs were dropped in the area, wounding several.

Previous cease-fires in Syria have collapsed or failed to reduce violence for long, and it was unclear whether the latest deal would fare any better.

I expect it will collapse within minutes, but.... ya' gotta believe!

The deal is separate from an agreement that Russia, Turkey, and Iran struck earlier this year to try to establish ‘‘deescalation zones’’ in Syria.

The United States, wary of Iran’s involvement, stayed away from that effort. Follow-up talks this week in Kazakhstan were unable to produce agreement on finalizing a cease-fire in those zones.

A new round of UN-sponsored peace talks is to be held in Geneva on Monday. Those talks, aimed at forming a transitional government and combating terrorism, have made little progress since they resumed earlier this year.

In Iraq on Saturday, commanders said their forces are just a short distance away from defeating the Islamic State in Mosul, a day after a major counterattack by the militants. “Not much is left before our forces reach the river,’’ the government’s Joint Operations Command said.

How small is the patch of land now?

The new truce for southern Syria is meant to help allay growing concerns by neighboring Jordan and Israel about Iranian military ambitions in the area, including fears that Tehran plans to set up a disruptive long-term presence there.

Nothing in this world gets done without them.

Such apprehensions were stoked by recent movements of Shi’ite Muslim militias — groups loyal to Iran and fighting alongside Syrian government forces — toward Jordan’s border with Syria, and to another strategic area in the southeast, close to where the two countries meet Iraq.

The advances are part of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s push to regain territory from rebel groups, some backed by the West, in the southern Daraa province, and from Islamic State extremists in the southeast, near the triangle with Iraq.

But Syria’s neighbors suspect that Iran is pursuing a broader agenda, including carving out a land route through Syria that would create a territorial continuum from Iran and Iraq to Lebanon.

Yeah, the real reason for the never-ending war and chaos.

The cease-fire for southern Syria, set to start at noon Sunday, is meant to keep all forces pinned to their current positions, said Jordan’s government, which participated in the talks.

This would prevent further advances by forces under Iran’s command, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia.

The truce is to be monitored through satellite and drone images as well as observers on the ground, a senior Jordanian official said Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss details with reporters. Syria ally Russia is to deploy military police in the area.

And if they are attacked? Killed in an airstrike? Uh-oh.

Information on truce compliance could be shared and discussed in different locations, including Jordan, the official said. Israel did not participate in the truce talks, but was presumably briefed by the United States, the Jordanian official said.

Israel is expected to watch for truce violations.

Oh, they will be screaming them left and right, true or not.

Israel has repeatedly said it will not allow Iran to set up a permanent presence in Syria. Israel has carried out a number of airstrikes in Syria against suspected shipments of ‘‘game-changing’’ weapons bound for Hezbollah.

‘‘The question and concern is of course if it will be exploited by the Syrian regime, Hezbollah, and Iran to create new facts on the ground,’’ said Chagai Tzuriel, director general of Israel’s Intelligence Ministry.



"Lost in a circle of lies" by Evan Allen and David Armstrong Globe Staff | STAT  July 08, 2017

Tell me about it.

Drug users, desperate to break addictions to heroin or pain pills, are pawns in a sprawling national network of insurance fraud, an investigation by The Boston Globe and STAT has found.

They are being sent to treatment centers hundreds of miles from home for expensive, but often shoddy, care that is paid for by premium health insurance benefits procured with fake addresses.


No wonder it is being encouraged by authority!

Patient brokers are paid a fee to place insured people in treatment centers, which pocket thousands of dollars in claims for each patient. They often target certain Blue Cross Blue Shield plans, because of their generous benefits and few restrictions on seeking care from out-of-network treatment programs.

The fraud is now so commonplace that brokers use a simple play on words to describe how it works: “Do you want to Blue Cross the country?”

Patients from across the United States have been taken in by these profiteers capitalizing on the surge in opioid addiction.

I'm glad someone is benefiting.

For Peter SanAngelo, hopeless and homeless after a decade of heroin use, the promise of free insurance and luxury rehab in another state was a lifeline. A patient broker used a phony address to enroll the Massachusetts man in a Pennsylvania Blue Cross plan and bought him a plane ticket to Florida. He was even promised money for cigarettes.

Three months later, the 33-year-old died of a drug overdose.

“This whole thing began from a place of deception,” said SanAngelo’s cousin Samantha Herring. “Peter had an honest desire to get better, and they had an honest desire to make money.”

Patient brokers, some of whom are themselves in recovery from drug addiction, are paid by marketers working for treatment centers eager to sign up patients with private insurance plans. For them, the most attractive plans to exploit are PPOs — which stands for preferred provider organizations. These plans often impose few limits on where people with addiction can seek treatment and often actually pay more for rehab provided out of their coverage area.

HMOs and government insurance plans like Medicaid are shunned by treatment centers engaged in patient brokering because they either limit where treatment can be provided or pay much less than PPOs.

The patients are often enrolled through, the online insurance marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act that connects patients to insurers in dozens of states.....

Obummercare enabled fraud, and the Globe traces it all the way to Florida.


Of course, the haze of the top story obscures most of that:

"Mass. towns balking at pot shops as Beacon Hill weighs tighter local approvals" by Dan Adams and Matt Rocheleau Globe Staff  July 08, 2017

At least 103 cities and towns — nearly one-third of all Massachusetts communities — have placed outright bans or other restrictions on marijuana businesses since voters legalized the drug for recreational use in November, according to a Globe analysis.

And another 47 municipalities are actively considering restrictions, the review found, as local elected officials express unease about the state’s venture into legalized recreational marijuana.

Most of the restrictions are temporary, intended to allow local officials time to consider where marijuana shops should be allowed to operate in their communities — if at all.

But residents of 29 municipalities have gone much further, voting to bar all types of recreational cannabis businesses.

Seventy communities enacted temporary moratoriums of varying lengths on recreational marijuana businesses. Of those, local officials in 39 municipalities imposed moratoriums even though voters in those communities supported the marijuana ballot initiative. In some cases, local elected leaders adopted the freezes at sparsely attended meetings with minimal public debate.

The findings, based on news accounts and data collected by the lobbying group for local governments, suggest that recreational marijuana businesses could encounter considerable friction across much of the Commonwealth.

At least that will provide a light.

If there is significant pushback, proponents of legalized marijuana warn that consumers will be unable to legally buy recreational pot in broad swaths of the state — especially if a legislative proposal giving local officials even greater power to block marijuana businesses is signed into law.

Say goodbye to all that tax loot you were already spending.

“If people have to drive 40 miles to get legal marijuana, they’re just going to drive 2 miles to get illegal marijuana,” said Jim Borghesani, who directed communications for the group that sponsored the ballot measure. “We’re going to see the criminal market stay in business, and we’re going to see tax revenue lost. It simply doesn’t make any sense.”

It does if you never wanted legal weed in the first place.

The municipalities that have adopted temporary or permanent restrictions range from small communities such as Ashby, which is north of Fitchburg, to cities such as Springfield, and include many suburbs that ring Boston.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who had opposed the ballot initiative, has since warned that bans by surrounding communities could unfairly concentrate pot commerce in Boston.

The question of who should control marijuana shops at the local level has become a major point of contention on Beacon Hill, where state lawmakers are negotiating changes to the new law before recreational sales begin in July 2018.

Governor Charlie Baker on Thursday expressed support for the House approach that would let elected municipal officials — not voters — enact those limits unilaterally, noting in an interview with WGBH’s Boston Public Radio show that local officials manage the location of alcohol licensees and “are on the hook to the people in their community.” 

Thanks for practicing Ma$$achu$etts democracy, Chuck.

The Massachusetts Municipal Association pushed the House provision, arguing that the rollout of sales next year comes too late for local voters to weigh in at their usual spring elections.

The association said the ballot law also fails to spell out precise procedures for organizing votes on pot rules, and robs town and city officials of customary powers they hold over most other businesses.

Since when did state or federal governments care? They override you enough with the unfunded mandates! 

And not the terminology: the ballot law voted in "robbed" officials of power. As if it was theirs and not something bestowed on them by the public, whom they are supposed to serve.

The state’s approach to municipal restrictions will profoundly shape the development of the nascent cannabis industry and, in turn, the drug’s availability to consumers. But after weeks of meetings aimed at producing a compromise by June 30, House and Senate negotiators remain deadlocked over local control, as well as the new tax rate on legal pot.

The impasse threatens to further delay the debut of dispensaries, which lawmakers previously pushed back six months to July 1, 2018. In Nevada, which also legalized recreational marijuana in November, the first pot shops have already opened. 

I'm sorry, what happened in Nevada? Voted on it last November and it's already up and running? Must not have had to give themselves a pension-fattening pay raise over there! 

So, other than same-sex marriage, Ma$$ lags last again.

Members of the cannabis industry called municipalities’ fears overblown, arguing that the law as written gives local officials sufficient oversight and that tightly regulated marijuana companies will cause neighbors few problems. 

I don't care; I like to buy into the total hysteria of fear from every corner these days. I am afraid of everything now.

“At the town level, decisions are made more on emotion and irrational fear,” said Jon Napoli, who runs a hydroponics shop in Boston and cultivates cannabis for a medical dispensary in Brockton. “If local officials can just obstruct and obstruct, Massachusetts could easily lose this golden opportunity to be the first place” with recreational sales on the East Coast.

That's all right with me. I thought this would be good public policy, but I was wrong.

Municipal leaders said many of the restrictions were intended to buy time to draw up zoning rules for marijuana businesses, and to reassure nervous constituents that they won’t let dispensaries open in town without permission.

In many cases, the moratoriums appear to be purely symbolic, as they expire around the time pot businesses can finally apply for licenses in April.

“We didn’t necessarily buy ourselves much more time than the state regulations allow anyway, but it sent a clear policy message,” said Adam Chapdelaine, the town manager of Arlington, where Town Meeting members in April implemented a moratorium on recreational pot operations until next June, or until the municipality enacts marijuana bylaws. “We wanted every resident to know that we will have a planning process and public discussion about whether or not to have recreational facilities in town.”

Yeah, now just shut up and pass the damn joint!

About 56 percent of Arlington voters supported Question 4. Chapdelaine acknowledged the moratorium appeared to be at odds with residents’ votes, and that public awareness of the freeze wasn’t widespread. But he recalled that in 2012, an overwhelming majority of Arlington voters supported legalizing medical marijuana, yet there was still stiff resistance when a dispensary subsequently sought to open in town.

The great thing about the overwhelming majority that voted in favor? 

They don't remember and won't remember when is the meeting, and if they did, they are too stoned to work their way out of the couch.

“We found ourselves facing some extremely angry residents,” Chapdelaine said. “Even though people in Arlington voted for it as a policy for the state, it wasn’t clear to them that they wanted one in Arlington.”

It's a NIMBY, and for once the state is reacting to anger right off and doing what people want.

It's a bad characteristic and quality when you oppose in any way political orthodoxy or officially received wisdom, but when people are all riled up about pot.....


The great thing is when you turn to the back page of the first section of today's Sunday Globe, page A16, there is a full page advertisement for Total Wine (and more).


"A flight attendant broke a wine bottle over the head of a man who lunged for an exit door and fought with other passengers during a Delta Air Lines flight from Seattle to Beijing, the FBI said. Joseph Daniel Hudek IV, 23, of Tampa, Fla., appeared in US District Court, with a bruise below his right eye. He was arrested Thursday night after causing the disturbance that prompted the plane to return to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, authorities said. (AP)

If you will now excuse me, I need to go show compassion for the heroin addict whose gateway was prescription pharmaceuticals and whose habit is abetted by drug-smuggling intelligence agencies in the furtherance of bank bottom lines via the money laundering -- with the proceeds, of course, to be plowed back into more covert-ops and false-front operations.

Also see: José Luis Cuevas, 83, dark master of Mexican art

The latest drug war casualty.

"Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was released from prison and placed under house arrest Saturday after more than three years in military lockup, a stunning reversal that fueled hopes for a broader amnesty for dozens of jailed activists as the country slides ever deeper into political turmoil. Venezuela’s Supreme Court said it had granted Lopez the release for health reasons and “serious signs of irregularities” in the handling of his case."

Madero still hanging on, hallelujah!


Illegal cellphone, drone aided S.C. inmate’s escape

New trial weighed for former officer

Sorry to cop out on that.

Teen bicyclist dies after crash

Everett man arrested for road rage

Community groups seek to aid Boston’s victims of violence through basketball

What is this, the 1990s?

Thousands turn out for a festival that ‘unites through pizza’

Sometimes the human race comes up with a great idea, and pizza makes the top ten.

Tom Brady’s book advance was at least $5 million

That's about what, $100,000 a word?

CambridgeSide has found a formula for success

That's one of the joys of Boston in the summer.

Anything else you should know?

"Police said a Facebook argument between two 18-year-old men led to a 14-year-old girl being killed by a stray bullet fired into her home. Mackenna Kronenberger was in the bedroom of her home in Dayton when she was killed early Wednesday. Police said Jason Tidwell and Dylan Angel are being held on murder charges. Police said the men were fighting when Tidwell got a gun in the house and began firing at Angel, who pulled a gun from his car. (AP)."

"A 48-year-old Burlington man is facing a hate crime charge that he threatened the state’s Democratic Party chairman, who is Muslim. Christopher Hayden has been charged with disturbing the peace by electronic means, with a hate crime enhancement, Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George told Vermont Public Radio. Hayden has been released on conditions. Faisal Gill, believed to be the country’s first Muslim chairperson of a state political party, says he received three threatening e-mails in May. The messages are peppered with racial and religious epithets, and call Gill an ‘‘agent for creeping sharia law’’ who should ‘‘get out (of Vermont) or we will make you wish you did.’’ (AP)"

Better keep your thoughts to yourself from now on, and it looks like this journey is truly at an end. 

But what if..... ??