“Last Week Tonight” This Morning

The host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” John Oliver devoted his show to looking back at the week that was and quite a week it was:

(F)rom President Donald Trump leaking Israeli intelligence to Russian officials, to finding out a high profile member of the administration has been named as a person of interest in the Russia probe to the revelation that Trump called fired FBI Director James Comey a “nut job” to the aforementioned Russian officials.

But above all, Oliver said, this week will be remembered as the week that Anderson Cooper lost it on Jeffrey Lord and said one of the truest, funniest, most profane things ever said on cable news.

“He could take a dump on his desk and you’d defend it,” Cooper said.

“Yes!” said Oliver. “That is a professional journalist saying of the president, ‘If he took a dump on his desk, you would defend it.’ And, more importantly, Jeffrey Lord did not immediately answer ‘no.’”

 

The Breakfast Club (True Perversion)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy sign the ‘Pact of Steel’; Richard Nixon is the first U.S. president to visit the Soviet Union; Actor Laurence Olivier born; Johnny Carson hosts his last ‘Tonight Show.’

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

More people have been slaughtered in the name of religion than for any other single reason. That, my friends, that is true perversion.

Harvey Milk

Read the rest of this entry »

Rant of the Week: Seth Meyers – We Were Warned

The host of “Late Night” Seth Meyers reminds us the Donald Trump warned us about what he would be like as president, a small, vindictive man with little interest in actually governing. Seth takes a look at the start of Trump’s nine day, five country tour that began Friday under a cloud of suspicion.

Litterbox Liner

So TMC has kitties. I’m sure this shocking revelation surprises only our most casual readers.

Now kitties are wonderful companions and those who claim that they don’t show affection or are untrainable don’t know them very well, though it is fair to say that if they were bigger they would eat you. One of the best things about them is that they have their own thing happening and don’t constantly demand attention. On the other hand they have no comprehension why you concentrate on anything except pleasing them and catering to their every whim but they tolerate it since humans are like that.

Because they amuse themselves (and forget crushing your enemies, that is the most important thing) they are fairly low maintainance, fresh water, some food…

And a litterbox.

Cats only crap on your desk, or bed, or in your shoes for 2 reasons- either they are sick or they are making a point. Otherwise they discretely disappear. Litterboxes are enormously convenient (yeah, I’ve schlepped around with a baggie) and you only have to clean them every so often. If you don’t line them however the Bentonite can stick to the tray and not release properly into the garbage (ick).

TMC contends, and I agree, that there is nothing more suitable for lining material than the Sunday New York Times. The ink is Soy based and non-toxic and the paper good quality and sturdy. After you pitch the glossy sections there is plenty remaining, even for multiple litterboxes.

It’s the only reason she has a subscription.

Why Does ‘The New York Times’ Have So Little Respect for Its Readers?
By Eric Alterman, The Nation
May 18, 2017

What a way to bid adieu. In late April, as his final act overseeing the op-ed page, New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. made an appointment so awful that it led even the most sympathetic readers to wonder whether the paper respects their intelligence, or cares about them at all.

Why else would the Times consistently hire columnists that it knows will mislead readers about issues of crucial importance? In 2008, it offered a column to William Kristol, perhaps the most relentlessly wrong pundit in history, not long after he called for the paper’s editors to be jailed. Kristol’s first column required a correction; then he filed an optimistic brief for Sarah Palin’s prospects as a vice-presidential candidate, without informing readers that he had been instrumental in convincing John McCain to make that disastrous choice. The Times defended hiring Kristol on the grounds of ideological diversity: He was “a serious, respected conservative intellectual,” said Andrew Rosenthal, then the editorial-page editor. Critics were merely being “intolerant.”

Much the same language has been marshaled in defense of the Times’s recent poaching of Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens. Replying to angry readers, Sulzberger insisted that he and James Bennet, Rosenthal’s successor on the editorial page, “believe that this kind of debate, by challenging our assumptions and forcing us to think harder about our positions, sharpens all our work and benefits our readers.” Liz Spayd, who continues to make a mockery of the public editor’s job, chimed in with her support for “the general principle of busting up the mostly liberal echo chamber around here.”

News flash: Every Times reader believes in healthy debate. The problem isn’t with Stephens’s politics; the paper’s own Ross Douthat is one of the most interesting and original columnists in the American press today. That’s because Douthat, a Catholic conservative, openly wrestles with his own preconceived notions as they collide with reality. Unlike Stephens, Douthat actually does contribute a fresh perspective that challenges Times readers to think anew. Stephens, by contrast, is an ideological hack. True, he doesn’t like Donald Trump, but he made his name at the Journal—and, disturbingly, won a Pulitzer Prize—as a climate-change
 denier and an incendiary Islamophobe. (Stephens has complained of “the disease of the Arab mind.” Would the Times hire a pundit who referred to the “Jewish mind” in the same way?)

Because Times readers are—let’s be honest—smarter and more sophisticated than the rubes who believe what they read in Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, they might have expected Stephens to dispense with such tricks. And to be fair, he has upped his game. But beneath the rhetoric, the play is the same as ever. Ignoring the consensus opinion of virtually all qualified climatologists, Stephens wondered about the “ideological intentions” of those who demand that we act before it’s too late. Offering no specific examples, he accused “the climate-advocacy community” of “convey[ing] the impression” that the steps required to avoid catastrophe are “not just necessary, but relatively straightforward and affordable.” In fact, as a 2011 International Energy Agency report explained, “for every $1 of investment in cleaner technology that is avoided in the power sector before 2020, an additional $4.30 would need to be spent after 2020 to compensate for the increased emissions.” (Needless to say, the Times could use a more rigorous fact-checking process.)

His next move was pure sophistry: because we can’t be certain of everything, we should act as if we’re not certain of anything. “History is littered with the human wreckage of scientific errors married to political power,” he observed. True, but in this case, as the Harvard historian of science Naomi Oreskes wrote in a letter to the editor, an extensive 2013 study found “that scientists had generally either been correct in their predictions, within error bars, or had underestimated the rate at which climate change would unfold.” The only uncertainty here pertains to Stephens’s honesty with regard to the known facts.

Publishing so committed an ideologue has little to do with helping Times readers expand their intellectual universe, unless the intention is to take them into the twilight zone of “alternative facts” and fake news. What it does is give Sulzberger and the people who work on the paper’s business side, especially the ad-sales staff, a ready-made answer when they’re confronted with the oft-repeated canard that the paper of record is biased against conservatives. (The Times’s puerile “Say Something Nice About Donald Trump” series serves the same purpose.) And, of course, the Gray Lady is hardly alone in taking this tack. How else to explain the recent hiring spree by MSNBC of Fox News rejects and refugees (including George F. Will), or The Washington Post’s addition of the right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt to its already conservative-heavy lineup? (And don’t even get me started on CNN.)

Ideological diversity is certainly a worthy goal, but any attempt to apply it to the punditocracy is bound to run into the brick wall of US conservatism, which has become so unhinged in recent years that adherents who do not traffic chiefly in bullshit can be as hard to find as healthy Mets pitchers. (Though why the Times did not choose David Frum remains a mystery to this reader.) And the issue cuts both ways. Times readers might just as well ask why the paper hasn’t offered a column to a single writer who shares the views of America’s most popular politician: Bernie Sanders.

The Breakfast Club (Giddens)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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AP’s Today in History for May 21st

Aviator Charles Lindbergh lands in Paris, completing the first non-stop solo flight across the Atlantic; The American Red Cross founded; Susan Lucci wins a Daytime Emmy; ‘Gypsy’ opens on Broadway.

Breakfast Tune Rhiannon Giddens – At The Purchaser’s Option

Something to think about, Breakfast News & Blogs below

Trump Admin. Now Deploying Controversial Surveillance Tool in Immigration Crackdown
Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams

As the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans continue to push for a harsher immigration crackdown, new reporting reveals that FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents employed a controversial surveillance technology known as Stingrays to hunt down undocumented immigrants.

According to Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Adam Schwartz, the The Detroit News report, based on a federal search warrant affidavit, marks “the latest sign of mission creep in domestic deployment of battlefield-strength surveillance technology.”

As the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has explained, the devices, obtained by police to purportedly tackle terrorism,

typically mimic the cell phone towers that your phone connects to. They trick cell phones within their range into thinking they are a legitimate cell phone tower and force phones to connect by masquerading as the strongest nearby cell signal. This enables the user of the cell site simulator to identify phones in the area, the location of their possessors, and in some cases to intercept metadata and/or actual content of cell phone transmissions (including data, calls, or text messages). Even if law enforcement is targeting a particular phone or person, it will incidentally collect sensitive information from all other phones in the area that connect to it. In some cases, this may also prevent nearby bystanders from making calls. So, the use of this technology compromises the privacy and safety of large numbers of ordinary people.

In this case, The Detroit News reported, the

secret device [either a Stingray or an upgraded version of them known as Hailstorm] was used in March by a team of FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Metro Detroit to find Rudy Carcamo-Carranza, 23, a twice-deported restaurant worker from El Salvador whose only brushes with the law involve drunken driving allegations and a hit-and-run crash.

“Few law enforcement spying technologies are a greater threat to digital liberty: by their very nature, [cell site simulators or] CSSs seize information from all of the people who happen to be nearby. So government should be barred, for example, from using CSSs to hunt down traffic scofflaws, petty thieves, and undocumented immigrants,” Schwartz wrote. …

U.S. DRONE STRIKE IN YEMEN KILLED MEN WHO HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH AL QAEDA, ACCORDING TO RELATIVES
Shuaib Almosawa, Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept

ON THE AFTERNOON of April 23, an American drone flying over the remote Al Said area of Yemen’s Shabwah province observed a group of men gathering to eat lunch at a security checkpoint.

Mansoor Allahwal Baras, a former Yemeni Army lieutenant in his late thirties, was chief of the checkpoint, and his younger cousin Nasir, 23, was also stationed there. Khalid, another cousin Nasir’s age, was home on vacation from Malaysia, where he was studying English and aiming for his bachelor’s degree. A car full of five others joined them — local militants, but familiar to the Baras men — and they sent someone else to fetch lunch.

As the drone hovered over them, the men did not panic or flee. For many in the region, the buzzing sound of American drones in the sky has become part of the rhythm of daily life.

But then the drone unleashed its payload of missiles, and in an instant, the impromptu gathering was transformed into a nightmare of heat, smoke, and shrapnel. All eight men were killed. …

Planned Parenthood to close four Iowa clinics after cuts
Chris Kenning, Reuters

Planned Parenthood said on Thursday it would shutter four of its 12 clinics in Iowa as a result of a measure backed by Republican Governor Terry Branstad that blocks public money for family planning services to abortion providers.

Health centers in Burlington, Keokuk and Sioux City will close on June 30 and one in Quad Cities soon after as a result of losing $2 million in funds under the new measure, said Susan Allen, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. The four clinics served 14,676 patients in the last three years, she said, including many rural and poor women.

“It will be devastating,” Allen said.

The closures marked the latest fallout from a continuing push by Republicans, including President Donald Trump, to yank funding from Planned Parenthood. Many have long opposed the organization, some on religious grounds, because its healthcare services include abortions, although it receives no federal funding for abortions, as stipulated by federal law. …

Rebellious Shell shareholders to vote for new climate change goals
Adam Vaughan, The Guardian

Shell shareholders including the Church of England, European pension funds and Dutch activists will send a signal to the board of the Anglo-Dutch company this week by voting for it to set new climate change goals.

The challenge comes from a Dutch group of retail investors, who have tabled a resolution for Shell’s annual general meeting on Tuesday, asking the company to establish carbon emission reduction targets.

“A large group of institutional investors will make their dissatisfaction with the company’s position evident by voting for this resolution,” said Mark van Baal of Follow this. The Church of England is among investors supporting the proposal, along with several European pension funds.

“I’m not expecting that it will pass but the resolution is well-worded and we support its intent – it’s something the board should be taking note of,” said Adam Matthews, head of engagement for church commissioners at the C of E. …

Something to think about over coffee prozac

GOP Lawmaker Told To ‘Duck Off’ After Griping About Duckling Ramp

A Republican lawmaker ruffled some feathers this week when he attacked the ramps that were put in place at the U.S. Capitol Reflecting Pool to help Washington D.C.’s beloved ducklings get in and out of the water in areas with a concrete barrier.

Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) griped that the ramps were examples of government waste:

The office of the Architect of the U.S. Capitol released a statement this week saying four “broods” ― or families ― of ducks live in the pool, including their newly hatched ducklings. The two ramps were installed as part of a collaboration with City Wildlife, a local nonprofit. The group’s president, Anne Lewis, told The New York Times that the ducklings could die without the ramps.

“Ducklings get into the water ― often helped there by visitors ― and then can’t get out because of the high curb at the water’s edge,” Lewis told the newspaper. “They will drown from exhaustion or die of starvation unless they have a way to get out of the water.”

It seems to have worked. The ducklings, who have become social media sensations, are already using the ramps:

It’s not clear how much work went into the ramps or what they cost, but Walker’s comments received some 2,500 replies. Here are some of the insults Walker is now ducking as a result of his tweet:

Triple Crown: The Middle Child

I was wrong, this is the most racist theme song of the Triple Crown-

Maryland, My Maryland

The despot’s heel is on thy shore,
Maryland!
His torch is at thy temple door,
Maryland!
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Hark to an exiled son’s appeal,
Maryland!
My mother State! to thee I kneel,
Maryland!
For life and death, for woe and weal,
Thy peerless chivalry reveal,
And gird thy beauteous limbs with steel,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not cower in the dust,
Maryland!
Thy beaming sword shall never rust,
Maryland!
Remember Carroll’s sacred trust,
Remember Howard’s warlike thrust,-
And all thy slumberers with the just,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Come! ’tis the red dawn of the day,
Maryland!
Come with thy panoplied array,
Maryland!
With Ringgold’s spirit for the fray,
With Watson’s blood at Monterey,
With fearless Lowe and dashing May,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Come! for thy shield is bright and strong,
Maryland!
Come! for thy dalliance does thee wrong,
Maryland!
Come to thine own anointed throng,
Stalking with Liberty along,
And chaunt thy dauntless slogan song,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Dear Mother! burst the tyrant’s chain,
Maryland!
Virginia should not call in vain,
Maryland!
She meets her sisters on the plain-
“Sic semper!” ’tis the proud refrain
That baffles minions back amain,
Maryland! My Maryland!

I see the blush upon thy cheek,
Maryland!
For thou wast ever bravely meek,
Maryland!
But lo! there surges forth a shriek,
From hill to hill, from creek to creek-
Potomac calls to Chesapeake,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not yield the Vandal toll,
Maryland!
Thou wilt not crook to his control,
Maryland!
Better the fire upon thee roll,
Better the blade, the shot, the bowl,
Than crucifixion of the soul,
Maryland! My Maryland!

I hear the distant thunder-hum,
Maryland!
The Old Line’s bugle, fife, and drum,
Maryland!
She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb-
Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!
She breathes! she burns! she’ll come! she’ll come!
Maryland! My Maryland!

So, basically an anthem calling for sedition and treason in support of slavery and the violent overthrow of the duly and democratically elected government of the United States (and the assassination of the President).

And… wait for it… it’s the Official State Song of Maryland!

But it’s ok. They don’t sing the racist parts anymore (it’s all racist).

I know horse people. They say that they’re like big dogs you can ride, only smarter. I wouldn’t claim even to be an amateur myself, though I have ridden in more than a sad circle around a carny. Thoroughbreds are insane and fragile because of the inbreeding, so in some ways it’s like saddling up Caligula or Akhenaten (or if you prefer Amenhotep IV).

Did I ruin your experience?

The race was now getting a frenzied response as Dust Commander began to make the running.  Bangles and jewels rattled on suntanned, wobbling flesh and even the pillar men in suits were now on tip-toe, creased skin under double-chins stretched to the limit into long furrows that curved down into tight collars.

Mouths opened and closed and veins pulsed in unison as the frenzy reached its climax.  One or two slumped back as their horses failed, but the mass hysteria rose to a final orgasmic shriek, at last bubbling over into whoops of joy, hugging and back slapping.  I turned to face the track again, but it was all over.  That was it.

Expect something boring, short, and futile unless someone puts an eye out. Then it will just be fun (or tragic like Oedipus and Gloucester).

Pimlico may be on it’s way out after 145 years. The track is kind of run down and there is another, Laurel, nearby. There are only 12 race days this year compared to 28 in 2016 and 37 the year before.

Preakness Trivia

  • Actually 2 years older than the Kentucky Derby.
  • Shortest in distance (1/16th shorter than the Derby).
  • Only the Derby has a larger attendance.

There have been 36 winners of both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes including the 12 Triple Crown winners.

Preakness Traditions

Winners don’t get the real Woodlawn Cup to keep, but a half size replica (oh, and the Woodlawn Racing Club is defunct).  Black Eyed Susans don’t bloom until 2 months after the Preakness.  No Black Eyed Susan has ever been used, currently it’s painted Chysthanthemums.  The Old Clubhouse was destroyed in a fire in 1966.  They paint the winner’s racing silks on the weathervane.  No one on the internet knows why it’s called the Alibi Breakfast.

Official Website

I need a drink-

Black Eyed Susan Recipe
(Official, but without the brand names)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 oz. Bourbon (20% of Early Times is aged in used barrels)
  • 3/4 oz. Vodka
  • 3 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix
  • 2 oz. Orange Juice

Preparation:

Fill a highball glass with shaved ice, add the liquors first, then top off with orange juice and sweet and sour mix. Stir and garnish with an orange slice, cherry, and stirrer.

Oh, the race. The track will be cool and dry (as opposed to the mud of the Derby). The New York Times has provided this helpful handicap sheet (Ice Cream! Get your Tutsi Fruitsi Ice Cream!). Melissa Hoppert likes Classic Empire, Always Dreaming, and Cloud Computing, in that order. Joe Drape prefers Classic Empire, Conquest Mo Money, and Always Dreaming.

At least we won’t have to spend hours talking about idiotic hats. Post Time is around 6:45 pm ET on NBC.

Get your score cards!

Can’t tell the players without a score card!

This summary is extensively re-written but it’s based on Recapping a stunningly bad two weeks for the Trump White House by Philip Bump of the Washington Post.

12 Days In May

Monday, May 8– Former acting attorney general Sally Yates testifies before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee that she told White House counsel Don McGahn on Jan. 26 and 27 she believed that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn could be compromised by the Russian government and that his private statements contradicted what Vice President Pence had said publicly.

Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein tasked with finding excuses for James Comey’s dismissal based on his handling and statements regarding the Clinton email server investigation.

Tuesday, May 9– Trump fires FBI director James Comey. Trump’s letter explicitly mentions that Comey had told him three times that he wasn’t under investigation. Sean Spicer ‘hides’ in the bushes finally giving an off camera press conference where he asserts that the firing was spurred by Rosenstein’s memo, which was “all him”.

Wednesday, May 10– Trump meets with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office. This meeting took place at the personal request of Vladimir Putin and while the U.S. press was barred the Russian news agency TASS is there. Transcripts later revealed Trump said-

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off. I’m not under investigation.”

From the Post

Later in the day, The Post reports that Rosenstein threatened to resign after seeing how his memo was used against Comey. This memo, deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders says, left Trump “no choice” but to fire Comey. But she also contradicts Spicer, saying that the memo followed a meeting between Trump, Session and Rosenstein on Monday.

The White House releases a timeline that indicates that Trump wanted to remove Comey after his congressional testimony the prior week — not because of the memo.

Thursday, May 11– In an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump undercuts everything that had been said previously, arguing that he was going to fire Comey regardless of the memo — and that when he decided to do so, “I said to myself, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.”

According to two people who heard Comey’s account of a dinner that he had with Trump the day after Yates warned the White House about Flynn, Trump asked Comey whether or not he would pledge his loyalty to the president. Comey demurred, promising only his “honesty.”

The other embarrassing story of the day? Trump’s claim that he invented the phrase “priming the pump”.

Friday, May 12– Trump threatens Comey-

James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!

Spicer refuses to say if Trump is recording Oval Office conversations.

Saturday and Sunday the 13th and 14th– Nothing much happens.

Monday, May 15– It turns out Trump’s conversation with Lavrov and Kislyak also revealed highly classified information- that Daesh is developing undetectable bombs that look like Laptops. This information came from the Mossad and Trump even named the location it came from, bragging about how good his intelligence was. This was so classified that the White House put CNN (which had the story) under prior restraint and asked other news organizations to withold the Israeli sourcing when reporting on Trump’s leak. It’s all part of the public record now except the Daesh location (which I imagine they know since they’re the ones building them, but is too sensitive for U.S. citizens).

Spicer must have been hiding in the bushes again because they sent out General McMasters, the National Security Advisor to issue a non-denial denial-

The story that came out tonight as reported is false. The president and the [Russian] foreign minister [Sergey Lavrov] reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation. At no time — at no time — were intelligence sources or methods discussed and the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. Two other senior officials who were present, including the secretary of the state, remember the meeting the same way and have said so. Their on the record accounts should outweigh those of anonymous sources. And I was in the room. It didn’t happen.

Until that whopper he had been generally well respected. The key point is that it was never alleged that Trump disclosed “sources and methods” or discussed “military operations”, so it’s a flat out Strawman Fallacy.

Tuesday, May 16– Trump tweeted that he had the “absolute right” to share information with the Russians. The Israeli sourcing is reported widely. Trump meets with Turkish President Erdogane. Afterward, Erdogan heads to the Turkish ambassador’s where his bodyguards beat up protesters. The White House offers no comment.

It turns out Comey made contemporaneous memos detailing his conversations with Trump, including one in which Trump appeared to ask for the FBI to drop its investigation into Flynn.

Wednesday, May 17– Robert Mueller is appointed Special Counsel by Rosenstein. The White House releases a conciliatory statement obviously not written by Trump, who is livid with rage.

It turns out Flynn reported he was under investigation to the Transition Team in early January. Also Elijah Cummings had warned as early as November 18th that Flynn was lobbying for Turkey. Pence puts on his Schultz Pickelhaube and pretends to know nothing, NOTHING! In addition Flynn’s objections led to the cancellation of a military operation by Kurdish forces (the Turks consider them terrorists) against Daesh in early January in the fading days of the Obama Administration.

Thursday, May 18– It is reported the Trump campaign team had at least 18 contacts with Russian interests that hadn’t been disclosed.

Rosenstein tells senators that he knew Comey would be fired before he wrote his memo.

The Post

This, amazingly, constituted the best day of the week for the White House.

Friday, May 19 (Yesterday)- Trump leaves (and there is much rejoicing).

It is revealed that “a senior White House official” (someone working closely with Trump right now) is under investigation. There is wide speculation that it’s Trump’s son-in-law, Ivanka’s husband, Jared Kushner.

Rosenstein informed House members that the investigation into Russian meddling now included an assessment of whether or not there had been a coverup.

* * * * *

Today I’ve been busy so I don’t know if there have been any more bombshells, but if you’ve been under a rock (and who wouldn’t want to be?) that should catch you up.

“(T)his is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Gazette‘s Health and Fitness News weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

 

John Oliver on kidney dialysis, Taco Bell and death

By Amy B Wang, Washington Post

During the three years that HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” has aired, host John Oliver has skewered one political absurdity after another.

But the late-night comedian has also used his platform to delve into more complicated issues — the debate over net neutrality, for example — often with comical and significant results.

On Sunday, Oliver once again turned his attention to a topic that he admitted would risk prompting viewers to “push the button on your TV remote marked ‘Dear God Literally Anything Else.’”

Kidney dialysis.

Oliver explained dialysis as a process in which a person is hooked up to a machine that removes blood out of the body, cleans it, then returns it to circulation. “Think of it as a Brita pitcher for your blood,” he said.

And he urged people to learn about the for-profit dialysis industry, however boring it may seem, because an increasing number of people in the United States suffer from kidney disease and rely on the “exhausting process” of dialysis to stay alive.

Kidney disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Oliver also cited a 2010 ProPublica investigation that revealed the United States “continues to have one of the industrialized world’s highest mortality rates for dialysis care” despite spending more on it than other nations, by some accounts.

“So we’re spending the most to essentially get the least,” Oliver said. “We’re basically paying for a fully loaded Lamborghini and receiving a drunk donkey on roller skates.”

Oliver recounted the history of how the country’s for-profit dialysis industry came to be — the result, he said, of good intentions mixed with “bad incentives, poor oversight and profiteering.”

In 1972, President Richard Nixon signed a bill into law saying the government would pay for dialysis for anyone who needed it.

“Essentially we have universal health care in this country, for one organ in your body,” Oliver said. “It’s like your kidneys, and only your kidneys, are Canadian.”

At the time, only about 10,000 patients needed coverage, but over the past four decades, the rise of diabetes and high blood pressure has led to nearly half a million people requiring dialysis, Oliver said. The cost of covering dialysis now accounts for 1 percent of the federal budget, he added.

As a result, a network of outpatient dialysis clinics sprung up around the country to accommodate these patients’ needs. Two large companies own 70 percent of these clinics, Oliver noted: Fresenius Medical Care and DaVita. [..]

Oliver ran through other complaints that have been made against DaVita, including questionable doctor referrals and accusations that the company purposely wasted drugs to be able to bill the federal government more.

“If it’s beginning to feel like DaVita is being run like a volume business …” Oliver started, before cutting to a clip that showed Thiry comparing his management of DaVita to that of Taco Bell. (Before the show ended, Oliver would apologize — to Taco Bell.)

Toward the end of his segment, Oliver emphasized that problems with the for-profit dialysis industry were not limited to DaVita.

He also called for better government oversight, as well as improved incentives for kidney transplants and health care “to keep out of dialysis in the first place.”

Oliver also praised those who were willing to donate one of their two kidneys while still alive.

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The Breakfast Club (Hold On)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Charles Lindbergh begins his trans-Atlantic flight; Amelia Earhart starts her trek across the Atlantic; Freedom Riders attacked in the South; Explorer Christopher Columbus, comedienne Gilda Radner die.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.

Honore de Balzac

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The Russian Connection: It Doesn’t Stop – Friday Night News Dump

Trump is on his way overseas for a nine day tour that, hopefully, will exhaust him. That doesn’t mean that another shoe on the centipede hasn’t dropped. Two reports came out late this afternoon at the New York Times and Washington Post.

In the Times article, Trump, not only revealed highly classified intelligence to the Russian Foreign Minister and ambassador, but once again admitted that he fired Comey to end the investigation into his campaign’s connections to the Russian interference with the election last year.

Trump Told Russians That Firing ‘Nut Job’ Comey Eased Pressure From Investigation

By Matt Apuzzo, Maggie Haberman and Matthew Rosenberg

President Trump told Russian officials in the Oval Office this month that firing the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, had relieved “great pressure” on him, according to a document summarizing the meeting.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

Mr. Trump added, “I’m not under investigation.”

The conversation, during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Mr. Comey — reinforces the notion that Mr. Trump dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives. Mr. Trump said as much in one televised interview, but the White House has offered changing justifications for the firing.

The White House document that contained Mr. Trump’s comments was based on notes taken from inside the Oval Office and has been circulated as the official account of the meeting. One official read quotations to The Times, and a second official confirmed the broad outlines of the discussion.

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, did not dispute the account.

It’s the Washington Post article that is going to make Trump’ long flight to Saudi Arabia really miserable.

Russia probe reaches current White House official, people familiar with the case say

By Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky

The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.

The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official.

The revelation comes as the investigation also appears to be entering a more overtly active phase, with investigators shifting from work that has remained largely hidden from the public to conducting interviews and using a grand jury to issue subpoenas. The intensity of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks, the people said.

The sources emphasized that investigators remain keenly interested in people who previously wielded influence in the Trump campaign and administration but are no longer part of it, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Flynn resigned in February after disclosures that he had lied to administration officials about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Current administration officials who have acknowledged contacts with Russian officials include President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as well as Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The article further states that this may or may not lead to criminal charges. I guess they didn’t want to get our hopes up. Republican strategist and vehement Trump critic Anna Navarro said it in a tweet, “Folks, Trump’s best defense is dementia.”

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