Sunday :: January 22, 2017

Kushner Cleared to be Presidential Advisor

Donald Trump has been given the green light for son-in-law Jared Kushner to serve as his advisor.

Here's the legal opinion of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

(My opinion: Forget Mike Pence. Apparently, America elected Jared Kushner. Trump, who has no clue how to govern, little inclination to learn and even less of an attention span thinks his son-in-law will figure it all out. If not, he can always seek Ivanka's opinion.)

In addition to bringing peace to the Middle East, Superman Kushner is expected to handle "government partnerships with the private sector and matters involving free trade." [More...]

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Border Agents Refused Entry to Canadians Who Wanted to March

The Washington Post reports that U.S. Border Patrol Agents refused entry to Canadians who were coming to the U.S. to join the Women's March:

U.S. border agents asked what they planned to do in the United States. “We said we were going to the Women’s March on Saturday and they said, ‘Well, you’re going to have to pull over,’ ” Dyck told the Guardian. Agents then searched their car and examined their cellphones, according to Dyck. Each member of the group was fingerprinted and had their pictures taken.

Finally, after two hours, the agents told Dyck and his friends to turn around. “They said, ‘You’re headed home today,’ ” Dyck told the Guardian. Officials warned that they’d be arrested if they tried to cross at a different spot this weekend, Dyck said. “And that was it, they didn’t give a lot of justification.”


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SNL On Trump Inaugural

Don't miss SNL's cold open (Vladimir Putin on Trump's inauguration) and the opening monologue by guest host Aziz Ansari excoriating racism and bigotry against immigrants by Trump supporters, whom he calls the “lowercase k.k.k." Both are terrific.

Fast forward through the skit called "Conway" -- it's as lame as the person it's named for. What a waste of air time. Ansari said all that needed to be said about her when he said her inaugural outfit made him wonder if she was moonlighting as a doorman at FAO Schwarz.

Weekend update was also very funny. Video below: [More...]

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Saturday :: January 21, 2017

Cake Gate -- Trump Inaugural Orders Replica of Obama's Inaugural Cake

How lazy or shady are Trump staffers working on his Presidential Inaugural Committee? The organizers of the Salute to Our Armed Services Ball couldn't be bothered to come up with even an idea for Trump's Inaugural cake, so they picked out a local bakery and brought them a photo of Obmama's inaugural cake and asked for an exact replica -- no deviations.

“They came to us a couple of weeks ago, which is pretty last minute, and said ‘We have a photo that we would like to replicate,’ ” MacIsaac told The Washington Post by phone. Her bakery tried to encourage the client to use the photo as “inspiration,” as they do with many others, she said.

“They said, ‘Nope, they want this exact cake. It’s perfect.’ And we said, great,” MacIsaac said. Neither she nor her spokeswoman revealed who placed the order.

Duff Goldman (one of the judges on Food Network's kids baking show) who owns a bakery in Baltimore made Obama's cake. He noticed the similarity and tweeted photos of both cakes with a statement he made Obama's cake but didn't make Trumps.

What kind of bakery copies another baker's design and doesn't give credit until after being confronted with the copying? Duff, however, is
now cool with it and congratulated the copycat bakers on their efforts.

The copycat bakers, having been exposed, are now crediting Duff's great design and trying to make amends by donating their profits to Human Rights Campaign.

The copycat bakers' amends do not excuse the laziness or shadiness of the Trump Inaugural employee who placed the order.

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Day 2, 1,381 Days to Go

The ACLU is ready on Day One. It's filed its first lawsuit demanding documents on Donald Trump.

Photo belongs to ACLU

The public deserves to know if the new president bases any of his decisions on personal gain. So we've taken legal action, demanding Trump documents related to actual or potential conflicts of interest.


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So Many Protesters, Not Enough Room in the Streets

Photo from Washington Post

This is truly mind-boggling. More than 5 million people participated in 673 marches in 75 countries around the globe today for gender rights, human rights, immigrant rights and justice, and in opposition to the positions espoused by Donald Trump.

More than 5 million people around the world took to the streets in peaceful demonstrations on all seven continents, launching a new movement for human rights, women’s rights and justice.
500,000 turned out in Washington, so many that there wasn't enough room in the streets to let them march to the White House.


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Friday :: January 20, 2017

Trump's Shameful Inaugural Speech

Donald Trump never ceases to disgust me. That's my personal view, which I'm entitled to, and I'm sticking to it. No unity shtick here.

Conservative columnist David Brooks, in the New York Times, gets the first part of his column today right:

“We’ve never had a major national leader as professionally unprepared, intellectually ill informed, morally compromised and temperamentally unfit as the man taking the oath on Friday. So let’s not lessen the shock factor that should reverberate across this extraordinary moment.”

Brooks blows the rest of column with his statement that we have no need to fear "the rise of fascism, a new authoritarian age" with Trump.

From Niall O'Dowd at Irish Central News: Trump's inaugural speech was everything but a Sieg Heil. [More....]

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Friday Open Thread

I've not read one thing about today's UnFestivities.

Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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"El Chapo" Press Conference in Brooklyn

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is quite the rock star -- to the female inmates at MCC New York who repeatedly chanted out his name as he arrived in their midst.

The press conference this morning began with typical government hyperbole:

“In short, he is a man who has known no other life than one of crime, violence, death and destruction.”

The truth is that he is also a husband, father, and son who is loved by his mother, wife and children. He is someone who is respected, not just feared, in his part of Mexico.

Did the prosecutor mention when discussing that his "associates dug a tunnel from a home a mile away directly into his shower" that it would not have been possible but for corrupt jail and political officials, many of whom are now locked up? Without the corruption among Mexico's police, politicians and army, there would no cartels as vast as those that exist in Mexico. The drug lords are but a part of the equation.

The Government filed a 56 page brief in support of detention pending trial (no bail.) It's filled with photos of boats that big loads of drugs were seized from. [More...]

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Thursday :: January 19, 2017

Thursday Open Thread

It feels like one day till Doomsday.
I wonder whether protesters will outnumber supporters. I can't think of anyone I would stand in the rain without an umbrella for in 40 degree weather just to see take an oath -- let alone someone I only feel ridicule for.

I'm tuning out Trump. And most American news.
I have lots of backups of Caribbean Life and House Hunters International on HGTV I haven't seen yet, and I'm behind on my episodes of El Chema and James Corden. I should be able to sail through Monday and the Unfestivities without reading or watching a single thing about the UnPresident.

Reading news from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, China Mexico and Latin and South America is actually interesting -- it's a much more productive, educational and less angst-ridden way to spend my time than watching the most unprepared, emotionally immature, bizarre person ever take charge of our country.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Wednesday :: January 18, 2017

Obama's Final News Conference

President Obama gives his final press conference.

Most of the West Wing staff is will move out tomorrow.

Obama's approval ratings are now very high. The UnPresident Elect's are the lowest of an incoming President in 4 decades.

The Obamas will attend the swearing in ceremony and leave on vacation before settling into a new home in D.C.

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Down to the Wire for Two Gitmo Detainees

Ten more Guantanamo detainees have been transferred. They were accepted by Oman. (I don't think they are Oman citizens, as the Oman Government's press release refers to them being accepted for temporary residence on a humanitarian basis. ".... considering their humanitarian conditions, 10 people who have been pardoned arrived to the Sultanat".

[Added: Their identities have now been released. 8 are from Yemen and 2 from Afghanistan. Two were victims if mistaken identity.]

They were among the final 19 cleared for release. That means 9 detainees remain who are cleared for release. Of them, 3 are expected to leave this week, one each to the UAE, Saudi Arabia and possibly Italy. If all 9 are transferred, that would leave 36. Of these, 7 are set for military tribunals, 3 have been convicted, and 26 are determined to be too dangerous for release and subject to indefinite detention.

But there are two that have been cleared for release who weren't included on Obama's last notice to Congress. Their fate is up in the air.

Why? Probably an unfortunate bureaucratic lapse. Their lawyers filed habeas actions this past week in the District of Columbia. [More...]

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Tuesday :: January 17, 2017

Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning Sentence (And 200 Plus More)

President Obama has commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning. Manning will only have to serve four more months --She will be freed May 17.

Manning was one of 273 people granted clemency or pardons today, according to the White House.

His totals: 1,385 grants of clemency and 212 pardons.

With today’s 209 grants of commutation, the President has now commuted the sentences of 1,385 individuals – the most grants of commutation issued by any President in this nation’s history. President Obama’s 1,385 commutation grants – which includes 504 life sentences – is also more than the total number of commutations issued by the past 12 presidents combined. And with today’s 64 pardons, the President has now granted a total of 212 pardons.

That's what you call change. Thank you, President Obama. [More...]

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Monday :: January 16, 2017

Turkey Arrests Suspected Shooter in Reina Nightclub Attack

Update: The Governor of Istanbul now says the suspect Masharipov has confessed and was definitely acting for ISIS. No mention of an outside intelligence agency being involved.

Turkish police and intelligence agents arrested the suspected shooter in the New Year's Eve massacre at the Reina nightclub. He is Abdulgadir Masharipov, a native of Uzbekistan. Police have had him under surveillance for the past 5 days.

Here's the weird part. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmuş today said the Reina nightclub shooting was not just an ISIS attack, but a coordinated intelligence attack using a paid ISIS terrorist (Masharipov). He said the shooter was motivated by money, not ideology. Police recovered $150,000 at the scene of the arrest, which they believe is the amount he was to be paid. [More...]

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Critics of Trump Get Blunt and Blunter

I try to avoid name-calling and personal attacks on this site, even when it comes to my opinion of public figures. With Donald Trump, it's hard, because most words that come to mind when I think of him are not words that I would publicly write.

Some critics don't self-restrict. Here's Richard Cohen in the Washington Post -- the first paragraph says it all. The rest is on admittedly unlikely scenarios of how to remove him from office.

But at the end, even Cohen retains some hope that at least part of the Trump disaster will be avoided because a few of his cabinet picks are "good people." [Really? Who?] [More...]

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