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Gender: Female
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Member since: Mon Dec 13, 2004, 02:55 AM
Number of posts: 10,438

Journal Archives

Putin meets with Le Pen in attempt to influence French election.


The meeting also shows that the Kremlin is not shying away from actions that could influence foreign elections, even after the storm over U.S. intelligence agencies' allegations that Russia tried to interfere in the U.S. presidential election to help Donald Trump win the White House.

Russia has denied trying to influence the U.S. vote, and has also dismissed allegations that Kremlin-funded media outlets are spreading "fake news" in an attempt to interfere in the French presidential race.

Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman, told reporters on a conference call that Putin and Le Pen had not discussed the possibility of Russia offering any financial help to her political party.

Her party took a 9-million-euro loan from a Moscow-based bank in 2014, and is actively seeking new sources of funding.

Hmm, I didn't know about that loan. I wonder how long and in what ways Putin has been helping her and her party. Going back for some time, it looks like.

Trump's endless campaign. $$$ for him and his, untold cost to us.

It's clear that Trump prioritizes making money for himself and his cronies. And he'll continue spending unprecedented tax payer dollars in travel to and from his privately owned properties to do this, combining paid access to him and his appointees with fund raising for his now never ending campaign.

Vanity Fair has a good article about Trump continuing this cash cow campaign.

A month after he won the election, Trump’s committees continued to spend as if he’s still campaigning, too. According to a Politico analysis of documents filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday night, Trump’s three committees collected $11 million in December, ending 2016 with $16 million in the bank. In total, the campaign spent $32 million in December in order to build its database, collect data, and pay for branding and key staff members. The committees, for example, laid out $728,000 on hats, likely for his “Make America Great Again” baseball caps, and another $2.4 million on mugs, stickers, T-shirts, and banners, Politico reports. They paid another $511,000 to Giles-Parscale, the Texas-based digital and online advertising operation run by Brad Parscale, who has been credited with propelling the campaign on a path to victory, bringing the total amount he has collected from Trumplandia to $88 million.

In addition to funneling money to his buddies, he continues directing money to his businesses. He has increased the membership cost to Mar a Lago to $200,000. In addition, he does pop-ins there to charity events, providing access to himself and his appointees, access by wealthy donors, many of whom likely want policy decisions to go their way.

An example from February:

John P. Cook, Governor Charlie Baker’s campaign finance wizard, created a lot of chatter within Massachusetts GOP circles when he was seen close to President Trump at a Mar-a-Lago charity fund-raising event last weekend.

Baker, a Republican, refused to endorse Trump in last year’s election. But his chief money-man was caught on camera just a couple feet from him, according to a photo snapped by the Palm Beach Daily News.
Cook, who is a financial adviser at UBS Financial Services in Boston, was apparently as surprised as anyone when the President took a seat next to him. But his explanation for their impromptu meeting helps solve the mystery as to why Trump was showing up to an event to raise money for Boston’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Surprised? Yeah, right.

Then this weekend, he went into overdrive.


Guests caught glimpses of Trump meeting with members of his team, including Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and Gen. John Kelly, head of the Department of Homeland Security.

According to press reports, they had converged on the ocean-to-lake compound, which Trump calls his “southern White House,” to hash out the fallout from continued revelations about Trump campaign officials meeting with Russian officials, including Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.


President Donald Trump is expected to head to Florida next weekend to address the Republican Party's top donors, according to several people familiar with the plans.

The party's biggest donors are gathering in Palm Beach for a retreat organized by the Republican National Committee, and the president has been announced as the featured speaker, according to people with knowledge of the plans. A number of senior administration officials will also attend the retreat, the people familiar with the planning said, a key draw for the donors.

Money and access are why he goes to his private properties instead of to Camp David. His transportation there is paid by us. He rakes in membership fees, event costs, lunch and dinner money and directed contributions to his unending campaign. And who knows what agreements start brewing during his many 'unofficial' meetings there.

Colbert's critique of Trump's speech



Trump met with Scott Walker and Rick Scott to 'fix' health care.

The worst of the worst of the worst.


Meanwhile, at the White House, Trump met with two Republican governors, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and Florida’s Rick Scott, and discussed “how best to solve the problems” of the Obama-era health law, with “special emphasis” on states’ role in health care, according to a statement by his press secretary.
The governors also listened to a consultant’s report about the fiscal impact of a Medicaid overhaul on states. The report, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, predicted that Medicaid reforms being proposed by House Republicans would result in tens of thousands of people losing their insurance coverage in an average-size state.

Inslee and Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia called the report “disturbing.” Republican Gov. Matt Bevin of Kentucky said if Democrats were disturbed, they haven’t been paying attention.

I would counter that "paying attention" is why they are disturbed.

So in Spicer's own words, gov't banning the press makes for a dictatorship.


In December, Spicer said barring media access is what a ‘dictatorship’ does. Today, he barred media access.
“Look, there’s a big difference between a campaign where it is a private venue using private funds and a government entity,” Spicer replied. “I think we have a respect for the press when it comes to the government. That is something you can’t ban an entity from.”

“Conservative, liberal or otherwise,” he continued, “that’s what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship. I think there is a vastly different model when it comes to government and what should be expected, and that’s on both sides.”

Mexico will not accept unilateral Trump immigration steps, foreign minister says

Source: The Guardian

Mexico has indicated it would not accept the Trump administration’s new US immigration proposals, saying it would go to the United Nations to defend the rights of immigrants in the US.

Luis Videgaray, Mexico’s foreign minister, was responding to Donald Trump’s plans to enforce immigration rules more vigorously against undocumented migrants, which could lead to mass deportations to Mexico, not just of Mexicans but also citizens of other Latin American countries.

“We are not going to accept it because we don’t have to accept it,” Videgaray said, according to the Reforma newspaper. “I want to make clear, in the most emphatic way, that the government of Mexico and the Mexican people do not have to accept measures that one government wants to unilaterally impose on another.”

The sweeping measures were announced in Washington on the eve of a visit to Mexico by the US secretaries of state and homeland security that had been aimed at salvaging bilateral relations, currently at their lowest point in at least three decades.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/22/mexico-trump-immigration-foreign-minister-luis-videgaray

Tillerson presides over abrupt shakeup at State Department


Washington (CNN)Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has reassigned a majority of the staff meant to work most closely with the top US diplomat in what career officials at the State Department fear is the start of a major reorganization.

The news sent shock waves through the agency and has left career officials on edge, in part because of its abrupt nature -- taking place before their assignments end this summer and replacements have been found -- and in part because these officials help the secretary, a government novice, work with policy experts throughout the building.

While Tillerson was on his first overseas trip at the G20 in Bonn, Germany, his aides told the entire staff in the offices of the deputy secretary of state for management and resources and the State Department counselor that their current assignments were prematurely coming to an end, according to senior aides.


The staff positions are filled by career foreign service officers and civil servants as opposed to political appointees who serve at the will of the President. The career postings come with a start and end date that traditionally transcend any change in administration.

So he waits until he will be away and has others do his dirty work. I guess we're seeing his managerial style.

I wonder about the real reason for this purge.

Looks like Stephen Miller is in charge of creating new travel ban order


Donald Trump’s controversial executive order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority countries is being tightened up to get around legal and constitutional objections with minimal input from the National Security Council, the Guardian has learned.

White House policy director Stephen Miller is at the helm as the process for refugee and immigration policy is going through the domestic policy council, which does not include most of the government’s foreign policy or security-related agencies.


More than 1,000 US diplomats have signed a dissent to the travel ban Trump issued last month, which is currently blocked by the courts, objecting on the grounds that it will have a deleterious impact on the US’s security and international reputation. Their signatures came before the current process of revision through the DPC, on which the state department does not have a seat.

Though sources cautioned that deliberations on the new order are fluid and ongoing, the initial discussions of the imminent order contradict the justice department’s promise to the ninth circuit court of appeals of a “substantially revised executive order”.


Something I'm not seeing reported about this is that the WA Solicitor General was having his team investigate discovery and depositions into the original travel ban as part of the court case in order to uncover who was involved in the decision and what their intent was.

I would guess that since the White House decided to drop the appeal, that won't happen now. I think it's likely that is a major reason why they aren't appealing. They knew their unconstitutional process would be entirely and legally exposed.

"German parents told to destroy doll that can spy on children"


Germany’s telecommunications watchdog has ordered parents to destroy or disable a “smart doll” because the toy can be used to illegally spy on children.

The My Friend Cayla doll, which is manufactured by the US company Genesis Toys and distributed in Europe by Guildford-based Vivid Toy Group, allows children to access the internet via speech recognition software, and to control the toy via an app.

But Germany’s Federal Network Agency announced this week that it classified Cayla as an “illegal espionage apparatus”. As a result, retailers and owners could face fines if they continue to stock it or fail to permanently disable the doll’s wireless connection.

Under German law it is illegal to manufacture, sell or possess surveillance devices disguised as another object. According to some media reports, breaching that law can result in a jail term of up to two years.

Since it is manufactured by a US company, I'd guess that it is sold here as well and would pose the same insecurity to privacy.

Interesting nuggets of info in articles about Tillerson at G20 and in decision making


When he flew to Germany, Tillerson took a small press pool with him but did not give it the opportunity to ask questions. At his first meeting on Thursday with the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, journalists were hustled out of the room before Tillerson opened his mouth, according to the Bloomberg news agency, rather than be allowed to stay to record the routine exchange of introductory platitudes. When Tillerson emerged, he delivered a very short statement, but refused to take questions.

Neither he nor his staff were consulted on the executive order imposing a travel ban on refugees and nationals of seven predominantly Muslim countries. A memo strongly dissenting from the policy has been signed by about 1,000 state department employees.


“What concerns me is that in the absence of any confirmed officials other than the secretary, they will not have the weight to make those educated voices heard as the White House makes policy,” said Thomas Countryman, former assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation and one of the senior staff who was suddenly sacked before Tillerson’s arrival.

“My nagging suspicion is that the White House is very happy to have a vacuum in the under-secretary and assistant secretary levels, not only at state but across government agencies, because it relieves them of even feeling an obligation to consult with experts before they take a new direction.”

And this from Deutschewelle:


Among the many meetings Tillerson had behind closed doors, one stood out in particular: the encounter he had with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov. Remarks by Lavrov suggested that the two men had seen each other before, but it was certainly the first time they shook hands since Tillerson took office. "The United States will consider working with Russia where we can find areas of practical cooperation that will benefit the American people," Tillerson told journalists after the meeting, which had addressed conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and Afghanistan - not exactly the kind of clarification many had hoped for after weeks of uncertainty over how close the White House and Kremlin will be working together.

While trying to establish a good working relationship with Lavrov, Tillerson at the same time had to soothe his European counterparts. They fear that the Trump administration is getting too close to Moscow, moving away from Western partners and alliances that have existed for the last seven decades. Tillerson did his best to relieve these doubts, declaring that "the United States remains steadfast in its defense commitments to its allies." Yet, "difficult" was a word that could be heard in the hallways of the Conference Center to describe US foreign policy. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault bluntly called the the US position on the Middle East peace process "confused and worrying" after meeting Tillerson.
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