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Posts from — May 2017

Clueless Politicians

Trump’s use of private cellphone raises security concerns:

U.S. President Donald Trump has been handing out his cellphone number to world leaders and urging them to call him directly, an unusual invitation that breaks diplomatic protocol and is raising concerns about the security and secrecy of the U.S. commander in chief’s communications.

Trump has urged leaders of Canada and Mexico to reach him on his cellphone, according to former and current U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the practice. Of the two, only Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken advantage of the offer so far, the officials said.

Oh, yes, let’s try to set up secret backdoor communications with the Russians, but put the rest of the world on the modern version of the ‘party line’. At least he doesn’t want a private e-mail server 😈

The UK has its own problems – Ex-Ukip politician calls for death penalty for suicide bombers:

A former Ukip politician has demanded the death penalty be introduced – for suicide bombers.

Janice Atkinson, who stood for Ukip in Folkstone and Hythe before becoming an independent politician, made the comments following the Manchester terror attack which claimed 22 lives on Monday night.

Someone should give Ms Atkinson the OED definition of “suicide”.

Two weeks ago Theresa May and the Conservative Party were looking at a landslide win in the UK elections but the 31 May YouGov seat projection shows a drop to less than a majority. Apparently after reading what the Tories were planning on doing, people didn’t want to vote for them anymore.

May 31, 2017   9 Comments

Back Channels

Governments using back channels is not unusual. Governments who don’t have formal diplomatic ties will use back channels to deal with common problems. They are also useful for dealing with difficult negotiations that neither side wants their own people to know about until a possible agreement has been reached that can be officially discussed by the leaders of of the governments involved.

Back channels can be as simple as two people meeting in a park and feeding ducks while exchanging information designed to avoid an over-reaction to some future act, but most take the form of lower ranking diplomatic personnel for the governments involved holding meetings in a neutral country.

If all of that is true, why are people going ballistic over the activities of Jared Kushner? The obvious point is that back channels are the province of governments, and Kushner had no standing other than private citizen when he was asking for the Russian embassy to establish an encrypted direct line to the Kremlin. The counterintelligence guys got really upset when the meetings were not disclosed on the appropriate forms by Kushner, and then they found out what the unreported meetings were all about.

If Kushner had waited until he was actually part of the government, people might have been annoyed, but it would have been legal. Private citizens don’t get to make foreign policy under US law.

May 30, 2017   7 Comments

Billy Bowlegs Festival

Jolly Rogers

In order to generate “local excitement” [sell stuff] the chamber of commerce is once again annoying people with the Billy Bowlegs Festival. This year the unavoidable part runs from Friday, June 2nd and finishes up on Monday. The really obnoxious parade on Monday screws up traffic and sends a lot of noisy people through my neighborhood.

Almost as bad as the parade traffic jam are the Friday fireworks. I know a lot of people enjoy fireworks, but they probably have not seen what loud noises and flashes of light can do to people and aircraft – I am definitely not a fan.

With luck it will rain the rest of the week… 😈

May 30, 2017   No Comments

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Memorial DayThis is a picture from one of the columbariums at the Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place of many of those who served the United States since the middle of the 19th century.

That is my Father’s marker. He didn’t know those located around his marker, but they all shared service to their country as part of their life.

The country continues to ask for service and people still respond to that call. As you think about the sacrifices represented by Arlington and other cemeteries, ask yourself if you have done what you could to prevent misuse of the willingness of some to serve.

It is rather for us the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

May 29, 2017   Comments Off on Memorial Day

Oh, Great

From the BBC – Merkel: Europe ‘can no longer rely on allies’ after Trump and Brexit

Europe can no longer “completely depend” on the US and UK following the election of President Trump and Brexit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says.

Mrs Merkel said she wanted friendly relations with both countries as well as Russia but Europe now had to “fight for its own destiny”.

Her comments come after Mr Trump refused to re-commit to the 2015 Paris climate deal at the G7 summit.

Mrs Merkel is on the campaign trail ahead of elections in September.

“The times in which we could completely depend on others are on the way out. I’ve experienced that in the last few days,” Mrs Merkel told a crowd at an election rally in Munich, southern Germany.

You can’t take him anywhere without him causing a scene. He doesn’t understand what NATO is, and keeps talking about members owing the US money. He doesn’t believe what his eyes show him about climate change in Mar-a-Lago and New York City. He is a schmuck who is making enemies wherever he goes.

May 28, 2017   Comments Off on Oh, Great

Not A Suspect?

He’s not a suspect, but Jared Kushner Under Scrutiny in Russia Probe, Officials Say. He is “a person of interest” who is “helping the authorities with their inquiries” because he is a good citizen.

He suffers from the same problem as his father-in-law, too many failed project to attract investment from domestic sources, so they reach out for “alternate sources of financing.

May 26, 2017   9 Comments

DON’T PANIC!

Towel Day

You do know where your towel is?

May 25, 2017   4 Comments

Not So Great Speech

Semaphore STFU

Manchester attack: US leaks about bomber irritating – Rudd

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said she is irritated with the US for releasing information about the Manchester bomber before UK police would have liked.

Ms Rudd said the British had wanted to control the flow of information to “keep the element of surprise”.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme she had been very clear with Washington “that it should not happen again”.

They shared the identity with the US to see what information, if any we had on the bomber while they searched for his possible collaborators. They didn”t want his associates to be aware that the authorities knew who the bomber was. Of course this administration blabbed it to impress people with how much they knew.

They are “led” by a fool that tells sensitive information to all and sundry: from Reuters: Trump tells Duterte of two U.S. nuclear subs in Korean waters. The New York Times obtained a transcript of a telephone conversation at the end of April between Trump and Philippines President Duterte that included the general location of two US nuclear submarines.

The normal procedure is for the officers of a nuclear sub to be the only only people who know exactly where the boat is at any time after receiving general orders when they leave on a patrol. They make periodic contact with their headquarters, but the ‘WiFi’ sucks under water. An important part of their strategic value is being invisible.

May 24, 2017   4 Comments

Great Speech

If you have any interest in the ‘unpleasantness’ that occurred in the United States in the 1860s, listen to New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu speaking on “the significance of removing New Orleans’ Confederate monuments”.

There has been a concerted effort to revise American history to clean up the image of the Confederacy. Mayor Landrieu isn’t having it and speaks truth to bigotry.

May 23, 2017   6 Comments

In Other News

Trump asked DNI, NSA to deny evidence of Russia collusion

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump called two top intelligence community figures to request that they deny in public any evidence of collusion between his campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 election, multiple current and former US officials with knowledge tell CNN.

Trump’s requests to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers came after then-FBI Director James Comey publicly revealed before the House intelligence committee on March 20 that the FBI had an investigation into collusion to influence the 2016 election.

More witnesses for Robert Mueller to interview on obstruction of justice.

Meanwhile a Sinkhole opens at Trump’s Florida retreat:

A sinkhole has opened at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago golf resort in Florida.

The town of Palm Beach, where Mr Trump’s retreat is located, tweeted a traffic alert on Monday morning about the 4ft by 4ft (1.2m) road cavity.

City officials tweeted that the hole had formed “directly in front of Mar-a-Lago” and was close to a newly installed water main.

City construction crews were to carry out “exploratory excavation” of site.

Less than nice people on the Internet want to know the exact time that Trump stuffed his prayer into the Western Wall to compare it to the appearance of the sinkhole.

May 22, 2017   4 Comments

Manchester

Manchester Arena blast: 19 dead and about 50 hurt

Nineteen people have been killed and about 50 injured in a suspected terror attack at Manchester Arena.

Police were called to reports of an explosion at the venue at about 22:35 BST following a pop concert by the US singer Ariana Grande.

The cause of the blast is unknown but North West Counter Terrorism unit is treating it as a possible terrorist incident, sources have told the BBC.

First reports indicate that an explosion went off at the end of the concert near the box office causing the reported deaths and injuries. Paramedics described the injuries as being caused by shrapnel.

May 22, 2017   Comments Off on Manchester

I Don’t Think So

Donald Trump slams appointment of special counsel as ‘single greatest witch hunt’ in US history. He knows that’s not true because his first consigliere was Roy Cohn, who as Joseph McCarthy’s chief counsel in the largest “witch hunt” in US history.

Regarding his complaint about being “the most unfairly treated politician”, historians suggest “more unfairly” treated politicians than Trump.

Trump needs more naps, less sugar, and more exercise. If that doesn’t work, time-outs are certainly indicated.

May 18, 2017   2 Comments

Not Me…

From Crooks & Liars – DOJ Appoints Special Counsel In Russia Investigation:

Here’s your breaking news for Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel on the Trump-Russia investigation.

In a written statement, Rosenstein said,”In my capacity as acting attorney general I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter.”

After the way the White House handled the Comey firing Mr. Rosenstein got the feeling that he was being set up, so he handed off the problem. The Toddler-in-Chief will probably be upset, but Mueller won’t care, and Rosenstein can bail out while he still has his law license.

Even David Brooks has given up on Trump.

The trip to Israel should be interesting. Trump may be met by tourist officials as the intel he passed to the Russians came from Israel and now Russia will pass it along to Iran. Trump didn’t know this, but then he doesn’t know too much of anything. I can’t see Israel passing any more information to the US while Trump is President.

May 17, 2017   3 Comments

SNL Writers Meeting

They can lead with a homage to Franz Kafka: a reporter is told that if the name of a city is included in the article on why you can’t take your laptop on a plane, well, people will die as it reveals sources of intelligence. However it is perfectly OK if the President tells representatives of a foreign power what the name is, because it isn’t classified. When the reporter checks to see if the name of the city can now be mentioned, he is told, of course not, it would compromise sources.

Next a little skit showing how even someone who has been involved with the legal system for years can forget that law enforcement officers are taught to take notes of their interaction with the public to refresh their memory if called upon to testify.

May 16, 2017   Comments Off on SNL Writers Meeting