Six In The Morning Sunday 19 May 2019

2019 Australia election: Morrison’s coalition seeking shock majority

Final results are being counted in Australia where Prime Minister Scott Morrison hopes his victory in Saturday’s election will give him a majority government.

His conservative coalition has defied the polls and now needs to win three more seats to seal a shock majority.

“I have always believed in miracles,” Mr Morrison told supporters in his victory speech on Saturday night.

Exit polls had predicted a Labor Party win for the first time in six years.

Dalai Lama lets slip how India vetoed his meeting with China’s leader in 2014

President Xi appeared open to discussing Tibet but the Dalai Lama’s hosts in Delhi were not so keen, a book reveals

China’s President Xi Jinping agreed to meet the Dalai Lama during a state visit to India in 2014, but the plan was quashed by Delhi, the Buddhist spiritual leader has said.

The bombshell claim, which could signal that in the early years of his term Xi was open to the most radical shift in China’s Tibet policy in decades, was made during an interview for a book by Indian journalist Sonia Singh, an executive at the Delhi-based television channel NDTV.

The Dalai Lama appeared to let the detail slip casually in the November 2018 interview, according to an audio recording the Observer has heard.

AustriaThe Strache Recordings – The whole Story

In a secret recording from 2017 obtained by DER SPIEGEL, Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache of the far-right Freedom Party is heard discussing a deal with a purported Russian millionaire to trade state contracts for campaign support. By DER SPIEGEL Staff

A snow-white vacation house on a hill, a few kilometers from Ibiza Town. Three bedrooms, four bathrooms, an outdoor pool and a separate guest house with around 500 square meters (5,382 square feet) of living space for 1,000 euros a night.

The group mingling on the terrace on the evening of July 24, 2017, drinking champagne, eating tuna tartare and sushi, was discussing delicate topics: How could they make sure that a Russian investor was awarded contracts from Austrian businesses and the government?

Saudi Arabia calls urgent summit with Gulf and Arab League leaders

Saudi Arabia has called for urgent meetings of the regional Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League to discuss escalating tensions in the region, the kingdom’s official news agency said on Saturday.

The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said King Salman had invited Gulf leaders and Arab states to two emergency summits in Mecca on May 30 to discuss recent “aggressions and their consequences” in the region.

Tensions have soared in the Gulf, with the United States deploying an aircraft carrier and bombers there over alleged threats from Iran.

What are China’s naval goals? The West can’t wait to find out

By Carl Schuster

It’s no secret that China’s navy has experienced unprecedented growth, rapid modernization and an expanded range of operations over the past 15 years — and this has raised concerns about the country’s ultimate intentions.

At a conference earlier this month, more than 200 naval experts gathered at the United States Naval War College to discuss these concerns and the broader challenges posed by China’s expanded naval power.
One expert, the US Pacific Fleet’s former intelligence chief, retired Navy Capt. James Fanell noted that China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN for short, has commissioned nearly four times as many ships as the US Navy over the last decade.
A VIGILANTE MILITIA DEFENDS AN IMAGINARY BORDER

IS THAT WHAT we think it is?” gasped a woman on the Patriot Caravan. The MAGA- and Trump-hatted group of about 25 people were on a walking tour of the U.S.-Mexico border in the desert near El Paso, Texas. It was led by a large, garrulous man named Jim Benvie, a member of the Guardian Patriots, which used to be the United Constitutional Patriots, or UCP.

“Oh sh … It might be the coyotes bringing them in!” said another woman.

“It is what you think it is,” said Benvie. As he lectured about immigrants invading America to the caravan members and the livestream audience on his phone, Benvie gazed south, past parched hills and rocky outcrops, past an invisible line dividing the U.S. from Mexico.

Triple Crown: The Middle Child

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).

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 37 winners of both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes including the 13 Triple Crown winners.

Preakness Traditions

Winners don’t get the real Woodlawn Cup, which is rumored to be the most valuable in Sports, 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.

It is impossible to talk about the Preakness this year without mentioning the 2 major controversies. The first and most easily disposed of is the fouling at the finish of the Kentucky Derby. Clearly Maximum Security violated some arcane rule about shutting down racing lines during the stretch and it’s easy to see why that can create a dangerous situation because horses don’t crash very gracefully. On the other hand it’s very difficult to distinguish that from mere hard racing. My advice is to hire some veteran refs from the NHL who can distinguish between a Legal and an Illegal Check (NFL refs being clearly hopeless for the task).

The other thing you can’t escape so easily are the deaths-

A horse died at Santa Anita on the same day another died at Pimlico
By Jacob Bogage, Washington Post
May 18, 2019

As horse racing reels from the shocking death of a horse on Friday at Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course that marred the weekend of the Preakness Stakes, another horse was killed training across the country at historic Santa Anita Park, thrusting the sport further into controversy during its most important period of the season.

Commander Coil, an unraced 3-year-old gelding, broke down of a shoulder injury during a routine gallop in training hours at the California racetrack. He is the 24th horse to die there since Dec. 26, and track executives still have yet to identify the underlying cause of the fatalities. One executive called the issues “multi-factorial,” but soil experts have not discovered anything unusual at the 84 year-old facility.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) has called for the state’s horse racing commission to halt racing until four full-time investigators conclude their work studying the horses’ deaths, and state legislators have pledged to hold hearings on the state of the track.

Officials halted racing there in March after 21 equine deaths in a three-month span, but another horse, 3-year-old filly Princess Lili B, was killed after breaking both legs at the conclusion of a timed workout the day after the track reopened. Two weeks later, 5-year-old gelding Arms Runner, broke down during a fall on the turf course.

Before Commander Coil’s death, Santa Anita had gone six weeks without a horse fatality.

The same day, Congrats Gal, a 3-year-old filly, collapsed of what veterinarians suspect to be a heart attack after the Miss Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

“The sickening collapse and sudden death of Congrats Gal at Pimlico are proof that the Maryland racing industry has not done enough to protect horses,” Kathy Guillermo, senior vice president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said in a statement. “ . . . We will be contacting the district attorney’s office, as we did in California, where the D.A. has appointed a task force to investigate training and veterinary practices.”

This happened just yesterday, Friday, less than 24 hours ago. The Stronach Group that owns Santa Anita also owns Pimlico Race Course.

No Triple Crown this year. Maximum Security will not be racing, nor will Country House. In the field only 5 of the 13 horses participated in the Derby. Joe Drape likes Anothertwistafate, Owendale, and Signalman. Melissa Hoppert picks War of Will, Bourbon War, and Improbable.

At least we won’t have to spend hours talking about idiotic hats. Post Time is around 6:48 pm ET on NBC.

Pin Lady

I hope Jill Wine-Banks is not offended I characterize her thus, it’s just that one of the hooks she uses to distinguish herself from all the other anonymous talking heads is she wears these large, mostly humorous or message oriented pins that are not cheap I’m told by someone who would know.

Anyway, along with some other authors she published a response in Just Security to Sydney Blumenthal’s An Open Memo: Comparison of Clinton Impeachment, Nixon Impeachment and Trump Pre-Impeachment..

The Balance Has Shifted: The Data on Impeachment Favor Moving Ahead
by Jill Wine-Banks, Just Security
May 18, 2019

Sidney Blumenthal’s opinion piece in Just Security has rightly provoked a lively conversation about the impeachability of President Donald Trump. More importantly, it solves the political conundrum at the center of the debate about how to balance the potential political impact of impeachment on the 2020 election with the moral and constitutional obligations of Congress to hold this president accountable in the face of the corruption and wrongdoing reported in the Mueller Report and the nightly news.

As one of the Assistant Watergate Special Prosecutors, I have first-hand knowledge of the evidence that proved President Richard Nixon’s guilt of obstruction of justice as set forth in articles of impeachment. I helped draft the Road Map that the House Judiciary Committee used to build its impeachment case against Nixon. I also closely observed my mentor at the Department of Justice, Chuck Ruff, who served as White House Counsel during the Clinton impeachment. Now, as an MSNBC Legal Analyst, I have had a front row seat to the mounting case against President Trump. For these reasons, I want to share my thinking and conclusions on this critical topic.

In my opinion, Blumenthal’s piece changes the balance to favor Congress acting now. His data decimate the major impediment to holding Trump accountable – the fear that this president would be strengthened by a House vote for impeachment with no conviction by the Senate. Contrary to popular belief, Blumenthal lays out a clear case that President Clinton did not benefit from impeachment and that comparisons to Clinton are highly misplaced. Clinton was at 66% approval before and after impeachment. Impeachment neither improved nor diminished his standing. He was popular before impeachment and just as popular afterward, whereas Trump’s approval ratings are at a stunningly low 39 percent and dropping. Indeed, Trump has never achieved even a 50% approval. This means that fears of holding Trump accountable via an impeachment inquiry are unfounded, leaving just the question of whether the evidence supports proceeding. The answer to that is a resounding, almost deafening, yes.

What’s more, Blumenthal’s analysis shows the greater relevance of Nixon’s impeachment to the case against Trump. Elizabeth Holtzman, who as a freshman representative from New York served on the House Judiciary Committee during Nixon’s impeachment, added in her comments on Blumenthal’s piece, that not only is Nixon’s impeachment relevant to the House’s actions against Trump, but that Nixon’s impeachment was a political bonanza for Democrats in the subsequent midterms. They gained seats, in part because of the way Republicans mishandled a clear case of impeachable offenses.

I agree with Blumenthal and Holtzman that the more analogous case against Trump is Nixon’s impeachment, not Clinton’s. That is true because of the similarity and seriousness of the underlying wrongdoing and the acts of obstruction of justice in Watergate and Trumpgate versus the sexual misconduct and perjury charges that Clinton faced. Unlike Clinton, Nixon faced – as Trump does now – grave charges of abuse of power, ignoring Congressional subpoenas, obstruction of justice by misuse of government agencies, firing federal investigators, hush money payments, dangling pardons, perjury and subornation of perjury, witness tampering, and stonewalling Congress. As in the case of Nixon, Trump aides (plus Russians in the case of Trump) were indicted and convicted or pleaded guilty. No Clinton aides were ever indicted. It was not organized crime.

In fact, the case for impeachment of Trump is stronger because he has engaged in a broader stonewalling than Nixon ever did. Not only has he obstructed the investigations by Mueller, rejected the findings of all our national intelligence agencies while accepting the denials of President Putin, and suppressed the full Mueller Report and its underlying evidence from the public and Congress (despite Congress’ clear right to such material), he has gone even further with a long list of obstructive, immoral and illegal acts: barring Don McGahn, the former White House counsel, and other witnesses from testifying before Congress regarding the Russia investigation; barring testimony by DHS employees to prevent oversight of his immigration policies, which include putting children in cages; prohibiting witnesses to testify about the security clearance process called into question by his overruling the judgment of career employees who saw national security dangers in granting some clearances; withholding his tax returns despite a law that mandates they be produced; suing to prevent disclosure of his legitimately subpoenaed financial records; and much more. This systematic contempt of Congress combined with the well-established election interference of the Russians and Trump’s failure to take action to prevent its recurrence – or even to acknowledge it happened – is a deadly combination that threatens the role of the first branch of government as a foundational part of our democracy.

Like the evidence I saw against Nixon, the evidence already public against Trump unquestionably supports action against him. I and more than 900 other former federal prosecutors signed a letter that states flatly if the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel Opinion didn’t prohibit indictment of a sitting president, Trump would and should be indicted for obstruction of justice.

All that said, although Nixon’s impeachment is directly relevant, even it cannot be used to predict the reaction to or outcome of any proceeding against Trump. Almost everything about Trump is sui generis and unprecedented so that forecasting anything significant about him based on historic data is hazardous.

This is why I strongly believe the Democrats should work to forge a bipartisan coalition to hold Trump accountable, and that, if this proves impossible, they must act alone. The Republicans have joined with Trump to prevent any serious oversight investigation of him, but the facts laid out in the Mueller Report make clear that Trump has engaged in obstruction on a scale that cannot be ignored without peril to our democracy. Trump’s conduct demands that he be held accountable. It is Congress’ constitutional responsibility and a moral imperative to do so.

Regardless of the final outcome – whether or not the Republican-controlled Senate would ever vote to convict the president – Congressional Democrats must fully engage the process of public education that is a necessary prerequisite for action — either impeachment or removal by the voters in 2020. Public hearings would allow the public and the Senate to fairly judge the culpability of the incumbent. In the case of Clinton, as his 66 % post-impeachment approval ratings showed, the public didn’t believe the evidence presented to the Senate was sufficiently reliable or worthy of the price of removal from office. Nixon’s approval ratings, though, sank to 24 % as the articles of impeachment against him were voted, and he was forced from office in disgrace in lieu of assured conviction by the Senate.

Facts and evidence matter. President Nixon won a landslide victory and an overwhelming popular vote in 1972, but as soon as the facts of his criminality surfaced, his support plummeted, even among his staunchest supporters. The Paul Manafort trial also shows the importance of facts. In that trial, juror Paula Duncan, a loyal Trump supporter who thought the Mueller investigation was a hoax and a witch hunt, nonetheless voted to convict Manafort on all 18 counts. Despite her bias, Duncan found the evidence overwhelmingly compelling.

The media landscape today deprives us of an agreed set of facts. Viewers of MSNBC see different facts than those who watch Fox. Without a common base for discussion, we can never reach consensus, but a public hearing could change that by letting the American people observe witnesses’ words and demeanors for themselves. The bubbles we all live in can be penetrated by such evidence, just as it was in the Manafort trial and the Watergate Senate and impeachment hearings.

This is why we must have public hearings. With the testimony of witnesses who can be evaluated by all Americans, I fully anticipate Trump’s support will further erode. Public hearings made a difference in the case of Nixon. As Blumenthal says, “the more the public knew of Nixon’s crimes through public televised hearings, the more rapidly Nixon’s poll numbers crumbled.” And, I’d add, the more bipartisan support for impeachment grew.

Not only will impeachment of Trump not hurt Democrats in 2020, it is essential to preserving Congress as a co-equal branch of government as our Founders intended and is essential to Congress fulfilling its constitutional and moral obligations.

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

Doctors Who Treat Gunshot Wounds Are Taking On The NRA

by Daniel Trotta, Politicus

A recent clash with the National Rifle Association (NRA) has shown some doctors who treat gunshot victims a way to heal their own trauma: through activism against gun violence.

With rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) on par with that of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, trauma surgeons have found that speaking out helps them cope with the hopelessness and anger that come from seeing gunshot victims repeatedly wheeled into the trauma bay.

“Working in advocacy is a way to deal with burnout,” said Dr. Jessica Beard, a trauma surgeon at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia.

The doctors’ clash with the NRA began in November after the American College of Physicians published a paper about reducing firearm injuries and deaths in the United States. The NRA answered with a tweet admonishing “self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane.”

That set off a viral response. Trauma surgeons around the country posted pictures of their blood-soaked scrubs and operating rooms after treating gunshot victims, punctuated with a defiant #ThisIsOurLane hashtag.

The movement has spread. In Pennsylvania, a group of doctors formed a coalition to urge policy changes to state legislators. North of the border, the Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns staged demonstrations in April, shortly after forming.

Experts have likened the doctors’ uproar to that of high school students from Parkland, Florida, who led nationwide protests after surviving a mass shooting that killed 17 people on campus in February 2018.

“What you saw in the postings from #ThisIsOurLane directly showed the impact of gun violence on trauma surgeons. That was our way to demonstrate the trauma that we experience in dealing with the victims of gun violence,” Beard said.

For many it was a call to action, to work scientifically or politically to fight gun violence.

Beard chose research, treating gun violence as a public health issue to reduce death and suffering. Her study published in April found Philadelphia’s three trauma hospitals receive the equivalent of a mass shooting every 2-1/2 months, when defined as four or more gunshot victims arriving in clusters.

Other doctors are more overtly political.

The American College of Physicians supported measures including “appropriate regulation of the purchase of legal firearms,” such as requiring background checks for gun buyers and greater checks on domestic abusers.

Dr. Zoe Maher, another Temple trauma surgeon, helped form the Coalition of Trauma Centers for Firearm Injury Prevention, which urges changes in public policy to Pennsylvania state legislators.

The coalition’s first campaign was to support a “red flag” bill that would enable authorities to take away guns from people legally deemed dangerous.

Maher said she was motivated because so many of the nearly 40,000 U.S. gun deaths each year were preventable. [..]

Medicine has long been affected by burnout, or what some doctors prefer to call “moral injury.” This is defined by feelings of being disconnected from oneself, emotional exhaustion and reduced personal accomplishment.

Other afflictions include vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue, which can affect any medical professional exposed to trauma, including nurses, other operating room personnel and first responders.

Some 40 percent of trauma surgeons showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and 15 percent met the criteria for a PTSD diagnosis, according to a 2014 survey by the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.

A similar 15.7 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans screen positive for PTSD, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Medical journals report that some 400 physicians of all types die by suicide each year, the equivalent of an entire medical school class.

While soldiers, journalists and other medical professionals have dealt more openly in recent years with the mental health effects of witnessing horrible events, trauma surgeons have lagged behind.

 

A Trauma Surgeon Who Survived Gun Violence Is Taking On The NRA

Terry Gross, NPR

For trauma surgeon Joseph Sakran, gun violence is a very personal issue. He has treated hundreds of gun wound victims, comforted anxious loved ones and told mothers and fathers that their children would not be coming home.

But Sakran’s empathy for his patients and their families extends beyond the hospital. Sakran knows the pain of gun violence because he is a survivor of it; when he was 17, he took a bullet to the throat after a high school football game.

Maybe that’s why he felt the need to do something when the NRA tweeted on Nov. 7, “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane,” in response to the American College of Physicians’ position paper on reducing firearm injuries and deaths.

“My first reaction was kind of incensed,” Sakran says of the NRA’s tweet. Then, he sprang into action, creating the Twitter account @ThisIsOurLane and encouraging other medical professionals to share their experiences treating victims of gun violence.

Some of the responses have been graphic, but Sakran, who is director of emergency general surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, says that helps drive home the point: “By seeing a lot of these photos of bloodstained scrubs or by seeing an operating room floor full of blood or an empty waiting room, it’s made it real.”

When it comes to gun violence, Sakran says, “a lot of times people talk about statistics and numbers, but I think it’s so important to move beyond that, because these aren’t just numbers — these are people. These are fathers, mothers, members of the community that we interact with day in and day out.”

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House

There are those who may think my playlist a little dark.

Only if you listen to it.

Nightmare – Halsey

Dear Society – Madison Beer

Go – The Black Keys

The Breakfast Club (Thermostat)

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 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) 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.

 photo stress free zone_zps7hlsflkj.jpg

This Day in History

Mt. St. Helens erupts in Washington State; The U.S. Supreme Court upholds racial segregation; Pope John Paul II born in Poland; Movie director Frank Capra born; ‘Les Miserables’ ends its Broadway run.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

Man is now in charge of the thermostat for the globe. Tom Udall

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Six In The Morning Saturday 18 May 2019

Finland is winning the war on fake news. What it’s learned may be crucial to Western democracy

By Eliza Mackintosh, CNNVideo by Edward Kiernan, CNN

On a recent afternoon in Helsinki, a group of students gathered to hear a lecture on a subject that is far from a staple in most community college curriculums.

Standing in front of the classroom at Espoo Adult Education Centre, Jussi Toivanen worked his way through his PowerPoint presentation. A slide titled “Have you been hit by the Russian troll army?” included a checklist of methods used to deceive readers on social media: image and video manipulations, half-truths, intimidation and false profiles.

Another slide, featuring a diagram of a Twitter profile page, explained how to identify bots: look for stock photos, assess the volume of posts per day, check for inconsistent translations and a lack of personal information.

US pastor runs network giving 50,000 Ugandans bleach-based ‘miracle cure’

Revealed: group led by Robert Baldwin and part-funded by Sam Little claims toxic fluid will eradicate HIV/Aids and other diseases
AAmerican pastor from New Jersey backed by a British former clairvoyant is running a network that gives up to 50,000 Ugandans a “miracle cure” made from industrial bleach, claiming drinking the toxic fluid eradicates cancer, HIV/Aids, malaria and most other diseases.

The network, led by pastor Robert Baldwin and part-funded by Sam Little from Arlesey in Bedfordshire, is one of the most extensive efforts yet to distribute the “miracle cure” known as MMS, or “miracle mineral solution”. The Guardian has learned that poor Ugandans, including infants as young as 14 months old, are being given chlorine dioxide, a product that has no known health benefit and can be extremely dangerous.

Baldwin, 52, is importing bulk shipments of the components of MMS, sodium chlorite and citric acid, into Uganda from China. The two chemicals are mixed to produce chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleach used in the textile industry.

‘The point is to overturn Roe v Wade’: How a quiet Republican effort to limit abortion rights has blown up into a full scale attack on women’s rights

‘The primary purpose is to save human life. But we’re not going to shy away from it going to the Supreme Court with the intention of overturning Roe v Wade’
 
 

Back in February, as the United States obsessed over whether Donald Trumpwould force a second government shutdown, Ohio state senator Kristina Roegnerquietly introduced a bill that is now part of a flood of laws threatening the right to an abortion all across the country.

The bill, known as a “heartbeat” abortion bill, received little national press. But, when it was signed into law in April, it made good on a near seven-year effort to restrict abortions in the state to six weeks, before many women even know their pregnant.

“The point for me, for this heartbeat bill, and all the pro-life legislation, is to save the unborn,” Ms Roegner told The Independent this week of the bill, which has been introduced in every legislative session in the state since at least 2011. “It’s to save innocent life.”

Syria intercepts projectiles from Israeli territory, state media reports

Syrian air defenses have shot down drones and projectiles fired towards the capital and the Hmeimim airbase, Syrian TV reports. Israel has previously targeted Iranian and Hezbollah sites in the war-ravaged country.

Syria’s Hmeimim airbase — which is operated by Russia — responded to projectiles and drones fired by militant groups inside Israeli-controlled territory, Syrian state television said on Saturday.

One person was killed and several others were wounded in the attacks close to the southeastern coastal city of Latakia, it added.

The state-run news agency SANA said the base’s aerial defenses “targeted luminous objects coming from the occupied territories (Israel), shooting down a number of them.”

 

Sri Lanka marks war anniversary with thousands still missing

Still reeling from the Easter terror attacks, Sri Lanka commemorates this weekend 10 years since the end of a bloody civil war that killed at least 100,000 people, from which the scars are still not healed.

Security was tight in the north of the island, home to Sri Lanka’s minority Tamils, ahead of solemn ceremonies on Saturday.

Sri Lanka’s government and top military brass were due to hold their own commemoration in Colombo on Sunday.

On May 18, 2009 government forces brought their no-holds-barred military offensive to an end at a lagoon in the northern coastal district of Mullaittivu with the killing of Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the rebel Tamil Tigers.

Australian election enters final hours
By Anna Jones, Jay Savage and Frances Mao
Indigenous woman hoping to make history in NT

Henry Jacobs

BBC News, Sydney

Polls have also closed in the Northern Territory, a sparsely populated federal territory that is home to Uluru/Ayers Rock and thousands of square miles of desert.

The key seat of Lingiari covers 99.99% of the region, with the exception of Darwin city, and also includes the Commonwealth Territories of Christmas and Cocos (Keeling) Islands.

Labor MP Warren Snowdon has held the seat since its inception in 2001 and is being challenged by the Country Liberal Party’s Jacinta Price – the first Indigenous woman to contest the seat for a major party.

The Russian Connection: Yes, There Are Tapes

On Thursday in a Washington DC courtroom, previously redacted documents from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team regarding the cooperation of former Trump Nation Security Adviser General (ret.) Michael Flynn.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn told investigators that people linked to the Trump administration and Congress reached out to him in an effort to interfere in the Russia probe, according to newly unredacted court papers filed Thursday.

The court filing from special counsel Robert Mueller is believed to mark the first public acknowledgement that a person connected to Capitol Hill was suspected of engaging in an attempt to impede the investigation into Russian election interference.

“The defendant informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could’ve affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation,” says the newly revealed section of a sentencing memo originally filed in December.

Flynn even provided a voicemail recording of one such communication, the court papers say.

Prosecutors did not identify any of the people who reached out to Flynn, but said the special counsel’s office was in some instances “unaware of the outreach until being alerted to it by the defendant.”

While prosecutors didn’t identify any of the callers, we may soon find out who it is on those tapes. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, on Thursday, ordered the Department of Justice to make public the transcript of the Flynn voicemail, as well as transcripts of Flynn’s conversations with Russian officials. He also ordered that the actual tapes be released.

Tapes make a big difference, as they did in Watergate when Watergate committee majority counsel Sam Dash asked former deputy assistant to the president Alexander P. Butterfield this question:

“If one were, therefore, to reconstruct the conversations at any particular date,” Mr Dash asked, “what would be the best way to reconstruct these conversations, Mr. Butterfield, in the President’s Oval Office?”

“Well, in the obvious manner, Mr. Dash,” Mr. Butterfield answered. “To obtain the tape and play it.”

We know what happened after that.

MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow shares new details from newly unsealed court documents in the Michael Flynn case which show new details about what help Flynn gave to prosecutors, including with the investigation of potential efforts to interfere with or obstruct the Mueller investigation. She further discusses the order by the Judge Sullivan, ordering the Flynn-related redactions in the Mueller report to be removed, even as the Trump administration continues to fight Congress to keep further details of the investigation concealed.

I can see a subpoena from the House Judicial Committee in Michael Flynn’s future.

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Charles P. Pierce: I No Longer Believe House Democrats Will Uphold Their Constitutional Duty

And, as a result, the president*’s chances of reelection are better than anyone thinks

As John Mitchell, realizing that he was busted, once said to Carl Bernstein:

“Good god.”

From CNBC, via the Washington Post:

Nadler, who would preside over impeachment proceedings in the House, also expressed frustration with Attorney General William P. Barr during the interview with CNBC, at one point calling him “just a liar” and alleging that Barr mischaracterized the special counsel’s findings on coordination between Russia and Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election.

Nadler, whose committee is planning hearings with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III and key witnesses in his investigation, was asked by CNBC’s John Harwood about the timing of any potential impeachment proceedings that might follow. Some Democrats have argued that Trump obstructed Mueller’s probe and should be held accountable.

“It depends on what comes out,” Nadler said. “It depends where the American people are, whether they want to go that way or not. I don’t want to make it sound as if we’re heading for impeachment. Probably we’re not.” After Harwood noted that he’s heard from other House Democrats who think impeachment proceedings will be launched eventually, Nadler said: “Maybe. It’s hard. I don’t know.”

Will the Democrats ever learn a) how to message and b) that the press, no matter what conservatives say, is not their friend? [..]

For the first time, I find myself siding with those people who believe that, ultimately, the House will chicken out of its constitutional duty and, because of that, I find myself siding with people who believe that the president*’s re-election chances are better than anyone thinks.

Elizabeth Holtzman: The Nixon Impeachment—a Blueprint for Today

Too many Americans oppose impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump, focusing on the failed impeachment against President Bill Clinton without fully considering the impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon. As a result, they claim impeachment is too divisive, that there are not sufficient votes in the Senate to convict, or that it would be bad for the Democrats in the next election.

But the impeachment process against Nixon worked—the only one involving an American president that ever did. The House Judiciary Committee’s vote for three Articles of Impeachment led within weeks to Nixon’s resignation. The committee’s evidence was solid and convincing, the proceedings fair and serious, and the vote bipartisan. (More than one-third of Republicans on the committee voted for impeachment—even before the “smoking gun” White House tape was released showing that Nixon personally orchestrated the cover-up.)

Americans supported the committee’s determination. Rather than dividing the country, the impeachment process brought it together—most Americans agreed that more important than any president or party were the rule of law and the Constitution. Nixon was permanently disgraced—and the committee’s work has never seriously been challenged. [..]

If impeachment proceedings commence, they need to be conducted fairly, and in a bipartisan manner to the fullest extent possible. During the Nixon impeachment, the Democratic majority picked a Republican as the Committee’s chief counsel, and the Republicans picked a Republican as their counsel. Our inquiry was guided by two Republicans, another fact helping to demonstrate that the process was fair. The Judiciary Committee chair understood that a partisan process would not be accepted by the American people.

What is at stake is protecting our democracy, which is why it is so important to look carefully at the Nixon impeachment process.

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The Russian Connection: McConnell and Deripaska, A Love Story

While everyone has been fixated on the Trump’s current temper tantrum and fight for abortion rights, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Putin’s “favorite industrialist”, Oleg Derispaska are having an affair in Kentucky.

Kentucky might be going into business with the Russian mafia.

Not the rough-and-tumble “Godfather” crowd with the bent noses and such names like Tessio, Barzini and Luca Brasi.

If all goes according to plan, by the middle of the year, we’ll be in business with Oleg Deripaska, a buddy of Vladimir Putin.

He could be sending $200 million — if you believe media reports — in what could very well be mobbed-up money to northeastern Kentucky to build a $1.7 billion aluminum plant on an old strip mine there.

The United States government, according to the New York Times, has long believed that Deripaska has deep ties to Russian organized crime — the Bratva — so much so it has limited his travel here and prohibited him from doing business in this country.

The 51-year-old billionaire emerged as a powerful businessman following the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union after a bloody fight for control of Russia’s aluminum industry.

Last November, the New York Times quoted Mikhail Khodorkovsky, another Russian billionaire, saying he stayed out of that battle and urged those he worked with to do the same because of the ruthlessness of the fight. “There were so many murders, I refused to go into this business,” Khodorkovsky said.

According to the Times, many have claimed that Deripaska “engaged in theft, intimidation, bribery and even murder, notably of a Russian banker in 1995,” but that none of those claims has been substantiated.

He was sued in Delaware in 2004 in a case that portrayed him as a “member of a criminal gang that seized control of an iron-ore mining complex in the Ural Mountains in the late 1990s,” the Times wrote.

“The previous manager claimed that at a meeting attended by Mr. Deripaska, a mafia leader and five armed thugs, he was told to transfer a majority share or ‘this is the last time you will leave here alive.’”

Deripaska denied the claims. The Delaware case was dismissed in 2007 because the American court didn’t have jurisdiction.

Now Deripaska could be bringing his aluminum acumen to Kentucky.

That plant in which he and his company is investing is the Braidy Industries aluminum plant that Gov. Matt Bevin poured $15 million of your money into in 2017.

When he announced the planned aluminum mill, Bevin hailed it as possibly the “most singularly transformative economic development decision that has ever been made in the commonwealth of Kentucky.”

But the plant has had trouble getting off the ground, in part because Braidy was forced to move the planned construction site from South Shore to Ashland when it was learned the original location couldn’t support the weight of the plant.

And money was a problem.

Enter Rusal, a Russian aluminum company that until just three months ago was barred from doing business in the United States in part because of its ties to Deripaska.

The Trump administration lifted the sanctions in January after Deripaska agreed to reduce his ownership stake in the Moscow-based company, the world’s second-largest aluminum manufacturer, from 70% to less than 45%.

And that came only after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell backed that decision despite large numbers of Republicans and Democrats who objected to allowing Rusal and its parent company En+ Group into the United States.

The House voted to keep the sanctions 362-53, but the Senate fell three votes short of the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster. McConnell, along with Sen. Rand Paul, voted against the resolution.

Get ready for borscht and vodka in Ashland.

The deal is that Rusal will own 40% of the mill and will supply it with its reserves of aluminum from a smelter under construction in Siberia. Braidy will roll it flat so it can be used to make car parts here in the United States.

Deripaska is supposed to have been sidelined. But who really believes that? He’s a Russian oligarch. He does what he wants.

So, why would you go into business with a guy like this?

Craig T. Bouchard, the CEO of Braidy Industries, has lagged behind in raising money to build the plant, and has repeatedly extended the fundraising deadline.

And Bouchard and his new best buddy, Matt Bevin, need to get this operation moving, and they could only do that after getting hundreds of millions in loans. And they couldn’t do that until they had private investors putting up approximately $500 million.

The plant, which at 2.5 million square feet — roughly the size of 14 super Walmart stores —would be one of the largest buildings in the world, is supposed to be fully operational in 2021.

There’s not a lot of time left.

But maybe, more importantly, Bevin faces reelection in November, and there has been an air of suspicion surrounding the Braidy project as it has dragged on.

The question being asked: Is this project really going to happen?

Even Bevin’s fellow Republicans have expressed doubt.

Now, according to the New York Times reporting, some House Democrats in charge of some strategic committees, have requested that the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin review the deal.

A group of Democratic lawmakers with top roles on committees overseeing the Treasury Department sent a letter on Thursday to Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, saying they were “deeply alarmed” by Rusal’s investment in the Kentucky mill.

“Given that EN+ is a company substantially owned by individuals and entities with close ties to the Russian government, we believe the proposed transaction warrants immediate review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States is an interagency panel led by the Treasury Department that can block foreign investments in American companies on national security grounds.

The panel rarely discloses the existence of reviews, and a spokesman for Mr. Mnuchin declined to comment on the potential Rusal investment. The companies say the deal is expected to close before the end of June, and the plant is expected to be operational by 2021.

Craig Bouchard, the chairman and chief executive of Braidy Industries, rejected the notion that the deal could be blocked by the committee, citing a provision in the regulations excluding from review start-ups or so-called greenfield investments, such as building a plant.

Rusal’s investment is only in the new mill, he said in a statement. “It is not an investment at the parent company level.”

And you thought that it was just the Trump crime family that was deep into the Russian mob.

 

 

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The Breakfast Club (Missing)

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 10:00am (ET) (or whenever we get around to it) 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

Brown vs. Board of Education ends separate but equal; Watergate hearings begin; NYSE is born; First Kentucky Derby.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

That’s what we’re missing. We’re missing argument. We’re missing debate. We’re missing colloquy. We’re missing all sorts of things. Instead, we’re accepting. Studs Terkel

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