Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Beginning of the End

RelatedBo$ton No Longer the Hub

"Stocks fell for a fifth straight day Wednesday as investors remained on edge over trade, political turmoil, and economic growth. An afternoon respite from the selling sparked by British Prime Minister Theresa May clinching a Brexit deal with her cabinet gave way to a tumble into the close. Goldman Sachs’ woes continued, with the bank down 13 percent in four days to the lowest since November 2016. West Texas crude climbed above $56 a barrel after plunging for a record 12 straight days. Natural gas surged as unseasonably cold weather threatens the Northeast. Bitcoin tumbled to the lowest level of the year. PG&E plummeted as much as 32 percent after the company said it had exhausted its revolving credit lines to deal with wildfires. ‘‘There’s a lot of different factors that are weighing on risk assets,’’ said Mark Heppenstall, chief investment officer, Penn Mutual Asset Management. ‘‘From individual company concerns, to wildfires in California, to some very odd behavior in the price of oil and natural gas.’’

The “market is trying to find the bottom.” 

"Postal Service in red for 12th year as letter mail drops" by Hope Yen Associated Press  November 15, 2018

WASHINGTON — The US Postal Service Wednesday reported a financial loss for the 12th straight year, citing declines in mail volume and the costs of its pension and health care obligations, as the agency braces for an upcoming report ordered by President Trump to address its ‘‘unsustainable financial path.’’

Postal officials said they expected next year’s finances to be helped by a strong holiday season of package deliveries and a just-approved increase to the price of its first-class stamp, from 50 cents to 55 cents. It takes effect Jan. 27, but they pleaded anew for help from Congress to relieve the Postal Service of onerous health and pension prepayments and for help from regulators to grant the agency more flexibility to increase prices so it can return to profitability.

It's Congre$$ that applied the onerous requirements in the hopes of ruining the one good thing this government does. 

I know it's a separate service and like it's own corporation, but it is still a United States government organization.

‘‘Absent legislative and regulatory change, we cannot generate enough revenue or cut enough costs to pay off our bills,’’ said Postmaster General and CEO Megan J. Brennan. ‘‘The flawed business model imposed by law continues to be the root cause of our financial instability.’’

The Postal Service reported a loss of $3.9 billion for the budget year that ended Sept. 30, compared with a $2.7 billion loss the year before.

A nearly 7 percent increase in package delivery was unable to offset drop-offs in letter mail, which makes up more than 70 percent of total revenue. First-class mail volume fell by roughly 2.1 billion pieces, or 3.6 percent, as people in the digital age rely more on e-mail and online bill payments.

Revenue was $70.7 billion, compared with $69.6 billion last year, but there were higher transportation and labor costs from delivering more packages.

Trump in recent months has asserted without evidence that the Postal Service is ‘‘losing a fortune’’ and reporting annual losses because it is not charging higher shipping rates for online retailers such as Amazon, whose founder, Jeff Bezos, owns The Washington Post.

It has gotten to the point where if the pre$$ says Trump asserted something without evidence, it must be true. 

In April, Trump issued an executive order demanding a review of the Postal Service’s finances. That report, led by the Treasury Department and originally due in August, was expected to be released in the coming weeks.

Trump has often labeled the Post ‘‘fake news’’ after the newspaper reported unfavorable developments during his campaign and presidency and highlighted the Bezos connection by calling it the ‘‘Amazon Washington Post.’’ On Sunday, Representative Adam Schiff, a California Democrat and the expected next chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told Axios that Democrats will seek to investigate whether Trump sought to punish Bezos by pressuring the Postal Service to raise Amazon’s rates. 

They are going to turn every action he takes into a personal enrichment scheme or political attack. 

Bezos must have backed the Democrats big-time!

Package delivery has been a bright spot although its growth is slowing, and regulators have found its contract with Amazon to be profitable.

It could have been more profitable then. You guys apparently need the money.

Besides, Bezos just got a cool 2+ billion in tax loot from New York and Virginian.

The Postal Service, an independent agency, is trying to stay financially afloat as it seeks to invest billions in new delivery trucks to get packages more nimbly to American homes.

It would be sad if they were to go away.

To become financially stable, the Postal Service has been urging Congress to provide it relief from the mandate to prefund retiree health benefits. Legislation in 2006 required the Postal Service to fund 75 years’ worth of retiree health benefits, something that neither the government nor private companies are required to do. It is also seeking flexibility from regulators to increase stamp rates above the rate of inflation.

I refer you to my earlier comment.

To avert bankruptcy, the post office has defaulted on the multibillion-dollar health prepayments each year since 2012.....


You want to bet on whether they survive?

Major concert club planned for near North Station 

So we can have our own Las Vegas, Manchester, Orlando, or whatever the latest one out in California was, huh?

"Gillette has suffered its nicks and cuts amid a bloody war with the shave clubs, but the Boston razor maker, once the undisputed king of its industry, is finally on a path toward growth again....."

The bleeding appears to have been stanched, but their razors still suck. Must be using cheap metal.

MassChallenge is looking for a new CEO

And it is a..... challenge.

Citgo sign closer to landmark status

"Bain is the latest Boston firm with a billion-dollar venture fund" by Andy Rosen Globe Staff  November 14, 2018

Bain Capital is the latest financial firm to arm itself with a billion-dollar checkbook to invest in startup companies.

The news comes as the largest venture firms are raising increasingly large piles of cash to compete for stakes in highly valued startups, allowing the startups to stay private longer. In Boston this year, for instance, General Catalyst raised nearly $1.4 billion for its latest investment fund, and Battery Ventures announced it had raised $1.25 billion in two funds.

I sure hope they are being charged the full mail rate.

Bain Capital Ventures recently launched a network for “angel investors” who provide some of the earliest money for fledgling startups. Bain wants to use those connections to get into companies at the very beginning, when the potential investment returns are at their highest — and other investors may not yet have caught on.....


What else is there to talk about other than this:

"The requests for high-dollar contributions come with promises of a “candlelight” dinner, “VIP access” to the governor’s “signature” inaugural celebration, and recognition on “all printed materials” for the planned events, according to documents obtained by the Globe....."

How much you wanna bet Bain gets a table?


Now to the top story:

"Can the Massport board look beyond the usual players as it hires a new CEO?" by Jon Chesto Globe Staff  November 15, 2018

Chief executive of the Massachusetts Port Authority is one of the highest-paying and most powerful public sector jobs in the state, and with Thomas Glynn’s retirement on Thursday, the race is on to fill it.

Already, Boston’s power-broker machine is in motion, floating a number of prominent names as possible contenders for the job of overseeing Logan Airport and a host of other major properties. So far those names most frequently mentioned are of older white men with political connections to match their resumes, but they’ve also made it clear they would prefer a candidate who knows the political players and the landscape in Massachusetts. Board members would almost certainly face criticism if they consider only white men to replace Glynn.

Massport has, for the most part, been run by white men over the years, and Glynn was no exception.....


They should just hang out a sign: No White Men Need Apply (unless you live in the Southwest).

"A plague of racist graffiti has Reading schools on edge" by Cristela Guerra Globe Staff  November 15, 2018

READING — On Facebook, area residents have debated how much attention should be brought to the incidents. On the Reading Patch website, William C. Brown wrote a letter to the editor on Nov. 6 warning against suppressing freedom of speech.

“Racial slurs, anti-Semitic or calling someone a ‘f**’ no matter how offensive or repulsive it may be is FREEDOM of SPEECH guaranteed by the FIRST AMENDMENT of the CONSTITUTION of the UNITED STATES,” he wrote.

I sort of said that yesterday, and you have never found any slurs on this blog. I've fastidiously avoided them.

At Tuesday’s select board meeting, Brown, 88, disturbed many in the room by saying that he would exercise “his Second Amendment right” if anyone tried to take away his first. After he made the comment, one woman with children immediately left the meeting.

Several people spoke out in response to Brown’s statements.

“Sir, I totally agree it is your right to hate anyone you love to hate,” said Boston resident Sherilla Lestrade, 42, who is black and whose 11-year-old son attends Parker Middle School. “But it is also other people’s right not to be discriminated against because of who they choose to love, what color they are, how they choose to praise whomever it is they praise or not praise.”

After the meeting, Brown said that he had been misunderstood. “I think I have the right by the First Amendment to say, ‘I hate you,’ ” Brown said. “Vandalism I do not condone at all, but do not take my First Amendment rights.”

In recent weeks, officials have emphasized the seriousness of the racist incidents and warned residents not to shrug them off.

At the discussion, Reading Memorial High School Principal Kate Boynton listened as a diverse group of 50 students shared thoughts on racism and anti-Semitism. Some didn’t think the vandalism was a big deal; others feared being targeted.

Police have been investigating for months, reviewing camera footage and interviewing potential witnesses, but there are still no suspects......


Looking more and more like some sort of self-inflicted agenda pushing for the usual narrative.

Don't want that happening again.


[flip to below fold]

House freshmen are tangled up in Democrats’ leadership fight

Now the rhetoric collides with a complicated reality for the "Prog Squad," as Pelosi deserves the job. 

Maybe they can clean up VA (or better yet, end the wars):

"Sleeping staff, disregard for safety found at Brockton VA nursing home" by Andrea Estes Globe staff   November 14, 2018

Officials at the Brockton Veterans Affairs Medical Center nursing home, rated among the worst VA facilities in the country, knew this spring that they were under scrutiny and that federal investigators were coming to visit, looking for signs of patient neglect.

Still, when investigators arrived, they didn’t have to look far: They found a nurse and a nurse’s aide fast asleep during their shifts. One dozed in a darkened room, the other was wrapped in a blanket in the locked cafeteria.

The sleeping staffers became a key focus of a scathing new internal report about patient care at the facility, sparked by a nurse’s complaint, according to a letter sent late last month to President Trump and Congress by the agency that protects government whistle-blowers.....



"Millions of American military veterans — more than 1 in 5, according to an American Legion survey — use marijuana to treat a medical ailment, but many of those veterans say the Department of Veterans Affairs, which provides health care to former service members, isn’t responsive to their needs....."

You're kidding?! 

What is left unsaid is the massive and scandalous neglect during Obama's tenure. 

I sense Trump is sincere in fixing it, but he can't be looking over the shoulder of every bureaucrat, especially being ensconced in the White House.


And he wants to break out:

"Trump endorses easing some mandatory sentencing laws" by Nicholas Fandos and Maggie Haberman New York Times  November 15, 2018

WASHINGTON — President Trump threw his support behind a substantial rewrite of the nation’s prison and sentencing laws on Wednesday, opening a potential but narrow path to enacting the most significant criminal justice overhaul in a generation.

Trump’s endorsement is considered critical to the success of the bipartisan compromise, which would invest heavily in antirecidivism programs and lower some mandatory minimum sentences.

“It’s the right thing to do,” the president said at an event at the White House, flanked by Republican lawmakers, law enforcement officials, and others who have lobbied for the changes.

He urged Congress to promptly send him a final bill to sign, and in a reference to the tough-on-crime policies embraced by President Bill Clinton, Trump touted that the legislation would begin to roll back portions of the “Clinton crime bill” that had a “very disproportionate and very unfair” effect on black Americans.

He's right, but people forget what the cities were like in the 1990s. 

There are still pockets of violence, often underprivileged and minority communities suffering from government neglect, but the vast majority of cities are much safer than 25 years ago.

Comes with the ever-advancing police state and total surveillance society.

His support could give political cover to Republicans wary of reducing some hard-line sentencing rules for drug and other offenses, and enable the legislation’s sponsors to assemble a coalition of moderate Republicans and Democrats in time to move a bill before the year’s end — and before the new, divided Congress is seated, but even with Trump on board, proponents must now compete with a rapidly narrowing window to move a complicated bill with broad implications for the US criminal justice system. As of Wednesday morning, many senators had not yet even seen a draft of the bill, and many conservatives were thought to be firmly against it.

“We don’t have a whole lot of time left,” Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, the majority leader, told reporters Wednesday. McConnell had previously pledged to take up the bill if it had at least 60 senators supporting it, but he added that given the date, he would also have to “see how it stacks up against our other priorities going into the end of our session.”

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and the leading advocate of the criminal justice package within the White House, presented the tentative deal to Trump on Tuesday. The president was initially noncommital but later offered a firmer yes, according to administration and congressional officials briefed on the meeting.

Remember the flap over Kardashian going to the White House and getting a pardon for the million-dollar cocaine dealer and money launderer Johnson?

I suspect this legislation will get passed into law, seeing who is behind it.

The tentative legislative package, called the First Step Act, builds on a prison overhaul bill passed overwhelmingly this year by the House by adding changes that would begin to unwind some of the tough-on-crime federal policies of the 1980s and 1990s — which have incarcerated African-American offenders at much higher rates than white offenders.

They probably need to do that, but counting on them to get it right strains faith.

The changes have attracted a broad and unusual group of supporters, such as the billionaire conservative brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch and the American Civil Liberties Union, who view similar changes on the state level as successful models for federal policy. Advocates on the right see an opportunity to begin to cut into the high costs of the nation’s 2.2 million-person prison population. On the left, the current sentencing laws are thought to have unfairly incarcerated a generation of young men, particularly African-American men, for drug and other nonviolent offenses.

It's all about the cost. Not your safety, etc. 

The Fraternal Order of Police, the country’s largest police organization, said last Friday that it would support the bill, and the National Sheriffs’ Association appeared to have dropped some previous objections, but powerful pockets of opposition remain among some law enforcement officials and conservative lawmakers like Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, who argue that sentencing changes like those proposed pose a risk to public safety. These opponents lost a powerful ally within the administration when Trump fired his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, last week. Sessions’ temporary replacement, Matthew Whitaker, has signaled that he is more open to the changes.

Also see: "Even as the Trump administration offered its most fulsome argument to date that Matthew G. Whitaker’s designation as acting head of the Justice Department was lawful, it continued to sidestep questions about whether ethics rules required Whitaker to recuse himself from overseeing the special counsel investigation by Robert Mueller into whether Trump’s associates conspired with Russia in its election interference. Whitaker has been an outspoken critic of the investigation, making clear that he has already decided that no Trump associates conspired with Moscow’s election disruption. He unsuccessfully interviewed in 2017 for the job of the White House’s top lawyer defending against the inquiry, and is friends with Sam Clovis, a witness in the investigation. On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocked two senators from bringing up legislation to protect Mueller’s investigation from any efforts by the Trump administration to thwart it....."

Their top priority is protecting Mueller.

Trump himself is leery of appearing weak on crime, and he has been susceptible to arguments from opponents of a sentencing overhaul that endorsing one could arm his critics. Still, Kushner has pressed the issue for months, and some of the president’s advisers say they think the effort could help improve his anemic standing with African-American voters, even if only marginally.

And yet it is higher than any Republican president since Lincoln.

Senator Chuck Grassley, Republican of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is expected to quickly introduce the legislation and ramp up his lobbying efforts.

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat, who has worked closely with Grassley on the issue, would be responsible for assuring Democrats that the bill’s sentencing changes were a deal worth accepting, despite some concessions from an earlier Obama-era effort. Those concessions could cost support from liberal lawmakers, who want to hold out for a more expansive sentencing rewrite.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, a vocal advocate of such changes, committed to putting the compromise on the House floor in a lame-duck session that began Tuesday if Trump endorsed it and it can clear the Senate.

Michael Waldman, the president of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and a frequent Trump critic on policy, sounded optimistic about the legislation.

“It’s a strange and ironic twist to have the president’s support push it over the finish line,” he said.....

He's just trying to save his own ass, right?


"A White House aide picked a fight with Melania Trump; the first lady won" by Anne Gearan, Josh Dawsey and Emily Heil Washington Post  November 15, 2018

WASHINGTON — A transoceanic personnel crisis that engulfed the National Security Council this week is partly rooted in a bureaucratic dispute over the seating arrangements aboard first lady Melania Trump’s plane to Africa last month during her maiden solo trip abroad.

That seat thing has to be a cover story.

As the East Wing prepared the flight manifest for the marquee trip, deputy national security adviser Mira Ricardel became angry that seats on the first lady’s government jet were assigned to a larger-than-usual security entourage and a small press corps with none for Ricardel or another security council staffer, according to current US officials and others familiar with the trip and its aftermath.

Policy experts from the security council and State Department were advised to fly separately and to meet the first lady’s party on the ground, a practice the State Department had often used, but Ricardel objected strenuously, those people said. She threatened to revoke security council resources associated with the trip, meaning no policy staff would advise the first lady during her visits to Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, and Egypt.

Bad blood between Ricardel and Melania Trump and her staff continued for weeks after the trip, with the first lady privately arguing that the security council’s number two official was a corrosive influence in the White House and should be dismissed, but national security adviser John Bolton rebuffed the first lady and protected his deputy, prompting the first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, to issue an extraordinary statement Tuesday effectively calling for Ricardel’s firing.

Maybe Bolton will resign in protest!

After an uncomfortable day of limbo, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced Wednesday that Ricardel was leaving the White House.

‘‘Mira Ricardel will continue to support the President as she departs the White House to transition to a new role within the Administration,’’ she said in a statement.

The first lady’s decision to publicly advocate for the ouster of a senior member of her husband’s staff shows a new willingness on her part to weigh in on White House operations.

Anita McBride, who was chief of staff to first lady Laura Bush, said Melania Trump’s move was a dramatic show of power. ‘‘If anyone had questions about her willingness to exert her influence, they got their answer,’’ she said.

Ricardel’s dismissal also serves as a rebuke of Bolton, who refused for weeks to fire his hand-picked deputy and worked to protect her.

Soon after the first lady’s office issued its statement Tuesday, surprised senior White House aides walked to Ricardel’s office to see whether she was still there. She was, albeit confused.

Bolton, who was awakened in Asia in the middle of the night and told of the dustup, was soon on the phone, telling Ricardel to remain at her post, administration officials said.

The White House was trying to find a soft landing place for Ricardel, but agencies including the Commerce Department, where she worked in the first year of the Trump administration, are hesitant to take her on because of her reputation, senior administration officials said.

Melania Trump and Ricardel have never met, according to people familiar with each of them, but the first lady viewed the conservative operative, who was among the most senior women in the West Wing, as a toxic influence in the White House.

A senior White House official said the first lady believed Ricardel was spreading false rumors about her office, including a misleading story that aides had arranged a $10,000 hotel stay in Egypt.

So that's how the New York Times was getting its stuff.



"Michael Avenatti, who skyrocketed to fame as a critic of President Trump and the lawyer for porn actress Stormy Daniels, was arrested Wednesday and booked on a felony domestic violence charge, Los Angeles police said. The alleged victim in the case had visible injuries, according to Officer Tony Im, a police spokesman. Avenatti called the allegation ‘‘completely bogus’’ and ‘‘fabricated and meant to do harm to my reputation’’ in a statement released by his law firm. Avenatti, who has said he’s mulling a 2020 presidential run, posted $50,000 bail and was released about four hours after he was arrested Wednesday on the same block where he lives in a skyscraper apartment. Police declined to provide any details about the alleged victim, including that person’s relationship to Avenatti. As he left the police station Wednesday, Avenatti said he had never hit a woman and said he’s been an advocate for women’s rights his entire career. Avenatti became famous as Daniels’s lawyer and pursued the president and those close to him relentlessly for months, taunting Trump in interviews and baiting him and his lawyers in tweets."

I believe the woman, and what a prick.

"A 69-year-old registered sex offender is on the run after he attempted to rape a friend then fatally shot an unarmed security guard and a female resident at the low-income senior housing complex where he lives, Detroit police said Wednesday. James Fleming and a 30-year-old woman were using cocaine in the complex late Tuesday when he tried to sexually assault her, police said. The woman, whose name was not released, escaped her attacker and pulled a fire alarm. Firefighters arrived but left after finding no fire. Police said Fleming apparently left the building and retrieved what police believe was a .38-caliber revolver from a vehicle parked outside. He walked back through the building’s front door and shot the 50-year-old security guard who was working his first day on the job and a 66-year-old female resident who ‘‘wasn’t even looking’’ at the gunman, police said. Fleming fled in a dark blue 2001 Chrysler Town and Country minivan with Tennessee plates....."

Florida’s bitter recount battle lurches toward deadline

Meanwhile, problems continue to arise in Palm Beach County, where ‘‘the machines are old.’’

Run 'em until you get the result you want, huh?

"Monica Lewinsky opens up in new documentary about Clinton scandal" by Allyson Chiu Washington Post  November 14, 2018

If Monica Lewinsky were to ever come face-to-face with Hillary Clinton, she knows exactly what she would do: apologize.

‘‘I know that I would summon up whatever force I needed to again acknowledge to her — sincerely — how very sorry I am,’’ Lewinsky wrote in an essay published by Vanity Fair on Tuesday.

Apologizing to Clinton again — the first time was in a 1999 interview with Barbara Walters — was one of several topics Lewinsky addressed in an essay that went beyond explaining her decision to participate in a new A&E documentary series, ‘‘The Clinton Affair,’’ which delves into the events leading up to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

Lewinsky, 45, also discussed the power dynamics that protected the president and led to her public excoriation, as well as whether she believes he owes her a personal apology.

The series, Lewinsky wrote, is titled ‘‘The Clinton Affair’’ for a reason.

Lewinsky, then a 22-year-old White House intern, became the center of global attention for her affair with Clinton that nearly brought an end to his presidency. He lied about it before a grand jury led by special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, an act that led to impeachment proceedings. Widely vilified and slapped by Clinton and his supporters with the unforgiving moniker of ‘‘That Woman,’’ just one of many unflattering epithets, Lewinsky took herself out of the public eye, reemerging only a few years ago.

Because of the taunting Lewinsky endured, she has since taken on the cause of antibullying. In the past, she has been reluctant to publicly address questions about the scandal, but now she is opening up about the infamous relationship in what may be her most expansive interview to date.

Unlike her last interview in Israel.

In one teaser clip released Tuesday, Lewinsky said she still feels ‘‘uncomfortable’’ talking about the affair, which didn’t stop her from doing so.

Pun not intended?

‘‘It’s not as if it didn’t register with me that he was the president,’’ she said. ‘‘Obviously it did. But I think in one way, the moment we were actually in the back office for the first time, the truth is that I think it meant more to me that someone who other people desired, desired me. However wrong it was, however misguided, for who I was in that very moment at 22 years old, that was how it felt.’’

She was taken advantage of by a sexual predator.

In the series, Lewinsky recounted the crush she began developing for Clinton and how ‘‘flirtatious encounters’’ soon escalated, Fox News reported.

At a birthday party for a staffer in November 1995, Lewinsky said she realized that the top of her underwear had been showing, according to People.

‘‘I thought, ‘Well, I’ll up the game,’’’ she said. ‘‘I knew [Clinton] was walking out of a room, and instead of putting my trousers up, like I would have done in any other instance, I didn’t. It was unnoticeable to everybody else in the room, but he noticed.’’

Then, Lewinsky said she remembered Clinton talking to her and asking her questions, adding, ‘‘I don’t think at that point in my life my heart had ever beat as fast.’’

‘‘I blurted out, ‘You know, I have a crush on you,’’’ she said. ‘‘And he laughed and smiled and then asked me if I wanted to go to the back office. And I did.’’

The office, Lewinsky recalled, was dark, and Clinton ‘‘eventually asked’’ to kiss her. She said yes.

Later that evening, Lewinsky said she was the only person in the office when Clinton came in and told her if she wanted to meet him in the ‘‘back study’’ she could. Lewinsky did, ‘‘and it became more intimate from there,’’ she said.

The rest of the story was described in what’s been called a lurid report to the House that led to Clinton’s impeachment on two articles, lying under oath to a federal grand jury and obstructing justice. After a trial, he was acquitted by the Senate on Feb. 12, 1999.

In the aftermath of the affair, facing questions from the FBI and unable to escape public scrutiny, Lewinsky contemplated suicide.

‘‘There was a point for me somewhere in this sort of first several hours [of being interviewed by the FBI] where I would be hysterically crying and then I would just shut down,’’ Lewinsky said in another clip released Tuesday. ‘‘I remember looking out the window and thinking that the only way to fix this was to kill myself, was to jump out the window.’’

Crying again as she spoke in the documentary, she added that she felt ‘‘terrible.’’

She criticized the power disparity that contributed to her public humiliation, suggesting that Clinton emerged from the scandal relatively unscathed.

Clinton’s position of power continued to benefit him, Lewinsky said, pointing out how the former president was rarely asked in interviews to directly address the scandal.

‘‘If you want to know what power looks like, watch a man safely, even smugly, do interviews for decades, without ever worrying whether he will be asked the questions he doesn’t want to answer,’’ she wrote, but now, in the #MeToo era, things appear to be changing. Clinton faced widespread backlash earlier this year when he said in a June interview with NBC News ‘‘Today’’ correspondent Craig Melvin that he did not think he owed Lewinsky an apology. Clinton said he had already given multiple public apologies and would not handle the accusations any differently today.....


Some people just can’t take a hint.

Scientists acknowledge key errors in study of how fast the oceans are warming

The hypothermic turtles and early arrival of winter didn't help the cause. 


"Brexit withdrawal deal: Theresa May gets cabinet approval for her draft agreement" by William Booth The Washington Post  November 15, 2018

LONDON — After a five-hour meeting with her cabinet ministers, and months of struggle and delay, Prime Minister Theresa May emerged from 10 Downing St. and announced that her ministers had given a unanimous nod of approval to her Brexit withdrawal plan.

It marked the end of a remarkable day in British politics — a true cliffhanger, with social media and the airwaves filled with speculation about whether May’s deal would survive the day.

At noon, May was in Parliament, where she heard the roar of her own backbench, as fellow Conservative Party members heaped derision on a deal they had not yet seen — but that they feared contained too much compromise.

Arch-Brexiteer Boris Johnson, who quit his job as foreign secretary over May’s proposals in July, said, ‘‘It’s vassal-state stuff. For the first time in 1,000 years, this place, this Parliament, will not have a say over the laws that govern this country.’’

A Conservative member of Parliament who opposes Brexit, Anna Soubry, said Wednesday that British voters should be offered another chance to cast a ballot on whether to support May’s deal or remain in the European Union.

Sammy Wilson, a Parliament member for Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which May needs to prop up her minority government, told TalkRadio that May’s plan ‘‘is not so much a deal as a double-cross.’’

Outside Parliament, Nigel Farage — top Brexit campaigner and a member of the European Parliament — called May’s withdrawal agreement ‘‘the worst deal in history.’’

Did they read the fine print?

Former Conservative Party leader William Hague urged May’s ministers to consider the ‘‘big picture. If what you want is to deliver on leaving the European Union, and have frictionless trade in goods at the border for the next few years until a future free trade agreement comes into force, and have control of our own immigration policy, and keep the United Kingdom together, all at the same time — well, then, a deal is going to look pretty much like this one seems to look like. It isn’t going to be dramatically different from that.’’

The next step is a Brexit summit attended by leaders of the EU’s remaining 27 member states at the union’s Brussels headquarters later this month, with Nov. 24 and 25 penciled in as possible dates.

Following approval by the European leaders, the treaty would go to the British Parliament, where it would face an uncertain fate.

Whatever happens, this deal is just the first stage of the lengthy process of ratifying Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. To follow are negotiations over Britain’s future trade, security, and economic relations with Europe— including side deals about immigration levels.

For the past two years, the greatest debate over Brexit has not been waged between Brussels and London, but within May’s fractious Conservative Party, composed of ‘‘leavers’’ and ‘‘remainers.’’


"Israel’s hawkish defense minister resigns after government agrees to cease-fire" by Isabel Kershner   November 14, 2018

JERUSALEM — Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s hard-line defense minister, stepped down from his post Wednesday after the government agreed to a cease-fire with Hamas to end two days of clashes in Gaza, in a surprise move that could prompt early elections.

The decision by Lieberman to withdraw his hawkish Yisrael Beiteinu party from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition will decrease the number of seats held by the government from 66 to a precarious 61 in the 120-seat parliament.

Lieberman also called for early elections, saying the lack of clarity over the country’s security policy must be brought to an end.

It takes at least three months to prepare for elections in Israel. The current government’s four-year term is scheduled to run out a year from now.

It was not immediately clear who would replace Lieberman as defense minister after the resignation comes into effect in 48 hours.

The announcement, made at a news conference in parliament, came a day after the right-wing government agreed Tuesday to the cease-fire with Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, ending an outburst of intense, cross-border violence.

In Gaza, there were celebrations about what the Palestinians viewed as a rare victory over Israel. Many Israelis, including residents of the south who had been under heavy barrages of rocket fire, censured the government for what they called a humiliating surrender after militant groups fired some 460 rockets and mortars from Gaza into southern Israel.

The bombs bursting in air.

Explaining the timing of his resignation and appealing to his right-wing constituency, Lieberman said that he considered the cease-fire to be a “capitulation to terror,” and he listed a number of other recent policy decisions with which he disagreed.

“What we are doing now as a state is buying short-term quiet at the price of serious damage to national long-term security,” Lieberman said.

The battle to replace Lieberman may precipitate the beginning of the end of this Netanyahu government.

I will believe it when he is out of office.

Various parties, including Netanyahu’s conservative Likud, Lieberman’s ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu, and Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s pro-settlement Jewish Home are all vying for the right-wing vote.

That kind of nationalism is okay, isn't it?

Bennett, who frequently espouses bellicose positions, is likely to demand the defense job, but Netanyahu will not be eager to give it to him, according to Israeli political analysts.

A legislator from Bennett’s party, Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, said that if Bennett was not appointed defense minister, Jewish Home would also pull out of the coalition, a move that would bring down the government.....

Imagine they will stay in there then.


Otherwise, they become Sri Lanka:

"A majority of Sri Lankan lawmakers voted Wednesday to remove Mahinda Rajapaksa as prime minister, saying that his appointment last month was illegal. Rajapaksa is considered the strongman of Sri Lankan politics, a wealthy, powerful former president who has been accused of grave human rights abuses. The country has been tied in knots since late last month when President Maithripala Sirisena abruptly fired the previous prime minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and appointed Rajapaksa to the post. It was a rambunctious, unruly few hours in Parliament. Lawmakers allied with Wickremesinghe walked into the chamber wearing black sashes that read “For democracy.’’ The gallery was packed with journalists, diplomats, and everyday citizens. Lawmakers allied with Rajapaksa did whatever they could to block a vote of no confidence. Some yelled, while others tried to grab the ceremonial mace, the parliamentary symbol of power. Some even called the speaker of Parliament a “mad fool,” but a majority of lawmakers were determined to hold the vote. Rajapaksa then walked out. When the ayes were counted, 122 out of 225 said they wanted Rajapaksa gone. “This is a historic day,” a triumphant Wickremesinghe said. It is unclear what will happen next. Sri Lanka has a slightly unusual leadership structure in which executive powers are vested in both the president and the prime minister. Sirisena, the president, seems to have backed himself into a corner and miscalculated the intensity of the resistance to his appointment of Rajapaksa. The prime minister he fired, Wickremesinghe, was less popular than Rajapaksa before this crisis started. Many Sri Lankans saw Wickremesinghe as aloof and ineffective, numb to the economic troubles that have begun to pile up around them as this island nation slides deeper into debt. Rajapaksa had seemed well-entrenched as president until Sirisena defied the odds and beat him in the 2015 election."

Another president who defied the odds:

"French President Emmanuel Macron said France and the United States must respect each other, in a response to a flurry of critical tweets by President Trump. Trump lit into Macron Tuesday over his suggestion for a European defense force, French tariffs on US wine, and even Macron’s approval ratings. Earlier Wednesday, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux suggested that the US president lacked ‘‘common decency’’ by launching his broadside on a day when France was mourning victims of the November 2015 attacks in Paris....."

It's not like he threatened to chop off his head or blow up his car.

Once again, the ethnic cleansing comes on the back page:

"First Rohingya are to be returned to Myanmar killing grounds" by Hannah Beech New York Times  November 14, 2018

BANGKOK — The United Nations doesn’t want it to happen. Dozens of rights groups say they are shocked. Even the people who will be affected the most, Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, are upset that their future, once again, is being decided without their input.

On Thursday, a few of the more than 720,000 Rohingya who fled slaughter, rape, and village burnings in their homeland last year are due to be repatriated to Myanmar from Bangladesh. It is a process that has been repeatedly delayed, and one that few, apart from the Myanmar and Bangladesh governments, seem to think is a good idea.

On Tuesday, the UN high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, warned that forcing the first batch of about 2,200 Rohingya living in refugee camps in Bangladesh to return to ground zero of mass violence against the minority Muslim group would be a “clear violation” of core international legal principles. The United Nations estimates that at least 10,000 people were killed last year in the outbreak of ethnic cleansing.

“The human rights violations committed against the Rohingya in Myanmar amount to the worst atrocities, including crimes against humanity and possibly even genocide,” Bachelet said. “With an almost complete lack of accountability, indeed with ongoing violations, returning Rohingya refugees to Myanmar at this point effectively means throwing them back into the cycle of human rights violations that this community has been suffering for decades.”

That was where my printed paper slammed the concentration camp door shut.

The United Nations has recommended that top military leaders in Myanmar be put on trial for crimes that include genocide. In September, the International Criminal Court, which rules on war crimes and crimes against humanity, opened an initial inquiry into some of these “crimes of persecution and other inhumane acts.”

As Bangladesh and Myanmar have pursued various iterations of repatriation agreements, UN officials have repeatedly said they were not involved adequately in the process. Rohingya Muslims, too, have complained about being isolated from decisions about their fates.

It is not clear whether the Thursday deadline will be met, given previous missed targets for repatriation.

In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, now home to the world’s largest refugee camp, one of the people who found her name on a repatriation list said she had no idea how she was picked to return. The woman, whose name is not being used for her protection, said she had no wish to return to Myanmar.

The UN said that at least two elderly men in the refugee camps had attempted suicide rather than face the possibility of returning to the site of crimes against the Rohingya.

Repatriations to Myanmar are supposed to be safe, voluntary, and dignified, according to a bilateral agreement, but Myanmar officials have repeatedly rejected reports of mass violence committed against the Rohingya, who are Muslims in a majority Buddhist country.

If only they were Israeli. Then the U.N. wouldn't bother.

Two reporters for Reuters who documented a mass grave in Rakhine state, where the Rohingya are from, are now in prison, sentenced to seven-year terms. 

Put there by Eric Holder?

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Vice President Mike Pence had told Myanmar’s leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, that the United States demanded better press freedoms in the country and that the persecution of the Rohingya was “without excuse.”

Someone better get CNN on the phone to see this.

Given the reluctance of officials in Myanmar to admit to any systematic violence committed by the military, which ruled the country for nearly half a century and still wields considerable power, international human rights groups have expressed concern about the future well-being of any potential returnees.

The United States usually gets status of forces agreements that absolves them of liability, but if they don't get, they just ignore any legal repercussions.

A coalition of 42 humanitarian and civil society groups has deemed the repatriation process “dangerous and premature.”

“Most of all, refugees tell us that they are afraid,” said a statement from the International Rescue Committee, one of the nongovernmental organizations that signed the joint protest of the upcoming repatriation, but Dr. Win Myat Aye, the social affairs minister of Myanmar, said in an interview that there would be no harm inflicted upon any repatriated Rohingya, 150 of whom would be processed each day.

The returnees could even return to their original homes, provided they still existed, Win Myat Aye said.

“It’s safe for them to live here,” he said. “They can live here for the long term.”

Just wondering when the Palestinians will be able to return to their homes.

Most of the remaining Rohingya in Myanmar have been herded into bleak camps or have been prevented from leaving their villages. Education and health care are severely limited.

Much like the Palestinians.

Of course, in this case the jew$paper is carrying the torch for Muslims (because Myanmar is getting to cozy with China).

Win Myat Aye said Myanmar authorities had vetted an initial list of returnees submitted by the government of Bangladesh and found that 65 were “terrorists” who were not welcome back. The Myanmar government says that any violence last year was related to clearance operations against Rohingya insurgents, who launched coordinated attacks on police posts and an army base in August 2017.

The military-led pogroms against the Rohingya, aided by Buddhist civilians, killed thousands and left hundreds of villages razed by fire, according to international rights monitors. The mass violence followed decades of persecution of the Rohingya, who were stripped of their citizenship by a xenophobic military junta.

They are looking more like Israel all the time.

Waves of Rohingya fled to Bangladesh during previous bouts of repression. Some returned home, only to escape again last year when the frenzy of violence reached a crescendo.

“The history of the Rohingya in Myanmar is one filled with repeated episodes of violence, flight, and return,” Bachelet said. “We need to speak with one voice to stop this cycle from repeating itself again.”


They have been offered asylum in Sweden:

"Those opposing the coalition said it would give influence to the anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats — the third-largest party but considered a pariah by many — because the government would be dependent on that party’s support. Wednesday’s vote was the first of a possible four before Speaker Andreas Norlen must call new elections. The September election produced a hung parliament with the left-leaning side and the center-right bloc securing about 40 percent of the vote each, leaving neither with a majority and paving the way for months of uncertainty and complex coalition talks....."


Bishops ignore Vatican, pledge to strengthen accountability

I'm glad I excommunicated myself a long time ago.

"Community responds after Muslim girl, 10, receives hateful letters at school" by Travis Andersen Globe Staff  November 14, 2018

FRAMINGHAM — A 10-year-old Muslim girl is frightened after being called a terrorist and receiving a death threat in letters found in her cubby at school, and her family hopes “this doesn’t happen to any other child at this age,” her uncle said Wednesday.


“She’s scared,” said Jamaal Siddiqui, 29, the uncle of the fifth-grade student at Hemenway Elementary School, during a news conference across the street from Hemenway. “She has all the right to be scared.”

Though unsettled, Siddiqui said, his niece is “hanging in there. She’s a strong girl, but at the end of the day, she is a 10-year-old.”

Earlier, Framingham Public Schools officials and local faith leaders denounced the letters and said authorities are working to identify the perpetrator. The notes were discovered in the girl’s storage bin Friday and Monday.

“I honestly am heartbroken,” Hemenway principal Liz Simon said. “My staff is devastated that this happened at our school.”

Simon said she informed students Friday that the girl received a “very upsetting” note that said “you’re a terrorist.” The second letter discovered Monday said “I will kill you,” officials said.....

This follows up on the heels of yesterday's FBI warning, and the mind warping psych job was placed on page B1. 

Looks like a framing(ham) of the narrative, and how sad is it that Muslims play into it, too. 


They ended up closing the school and sending the girl to a good school with a new academic building.


Child with special needs left in van for 4 hours en route to Revere school

The abuse of the disabled needs to end, and did you notice the police response?

"Civil rights group demanding outtakes from ‘The Apprentice’ to prove Trump is racially biased" by John R. Ellement Globe Staff  November 14, 2018

In a move they believe will strengthen their challenge to the Trump administration’s halt on temporary protected status, a Boston civil rights group is demanding outtakes from the reality show “The Apprentice” they allege contain President Trump using racial and ethnic slurs.

One would have thought they would have been out by now.

The group Lawyers for Civil Rights is participating in the lawsuit pending before US District Court Judge Denise J. Casper and as part of that litigation, the attorneys subpoenaed MGM and a Trump-related company, Trump Productions LLC.

In a statement, LCR attorney Oren Nimni said one former producer for the reality television show, which made Trump nationally known before his run for office, has previously indicated that Trump made racially charged comments.

Nimni also noted that former “Apprentice” and Trump White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman has also insisted that Trump was recorded making racially derogatory comments while the show was in production.

She already had her 15 minutes of fame.

Trump and his aides have denied any such recordings exist, but Nimni said that the tapes, if they exist and are located, could have a significant effect on the litigation in Boston and a similar challenge filed in federal court in San Francisco.

If they exist? 


And if not, what will they do, forge them (and that was 20 years ago!)?

Trump is being sued individually in Boston, according to Nimni.

“Trump’s racially biased views are central to our TPS case in which the President is a named Defendant,’’ Nimni wrote. “Access to these videotapes will help further demonstrate that Defendant Trump holds racially-biased views that impact his policy- and decision-making.”


They are going to pick over those remains of the show to see if they can dig up something.

That reminds me, what is Megyn Kelly up to these days anyway?