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Gender: Female
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Member since: Mon Dec 13, 2004, 02:55 AM
Number of posts: 10,434

Journal Archives

Is Trump using his shadow cabinet to test repressive measures?

Trump has been installing a shadow cabinet to to report back to him and to control actions at departments. These are people who don't have to go through confirmation hearings and are political cronies from his campaign. They don't have expertise in the agencies they're assigned to, just the willingness to support Trump in every way.

By having his unappointed flunkies introduce directives, Trump can obfuscate where these originate and implement or pull back on these as needed, all the time maintaining their officials aren't the ones producing the orders. And of course the flunkies will willingly do this as part of what they're been hired to do.

The White House is installing senior aides atop major federal agencies to shadow the administration's Cabinet secretaries, creating a direct line with loyalists who can monitor and shape White House goals across the federal bureaucracy.
Two people involved in the transition said the new advisers are expected to maintain constant contact with the White House and the agencies and sign off on major decisions. The liaisons will also give the White House a window into agencies where Trump is not as personally close to the Cabinet secretaries, said a source close to the transition. Some of the senior White House advisers in the agencies have frequently met with their respective secretaries, who didn't pick them for the post.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he modeled his own government that way, with a handpicked senior aide installed in every agency. "I told my commissioners when I was mayor, you're going to have a spy in your agency,” Giuliani said. “I'm going to want to get two different perspectives of what's going on."

The jobs have rattled Obama administration political appointees, who have been surprised at young campaign hands having such authority at federal agencies. The advisers at each agency will not face Senate approval, like more than 1,200 other federal government positions, including deputy secretaries and administrators.

An example that hits closest to the Pacific Northwest: On Monday it was revealed that Trump is assembling a “shadow Cabinet” of right-hand men to oversee his new plans for various sprawling government agencies.

And his choice for the nation’s clean air, water and wetland-protection agency is a textbook case of party-patronage cronyism.

Trump tapped Don Benton, a former state senator from Vancouver and Trump’s Northwest campaign manager, to be his senior liaison to the Environmental Protection Agency. What’s shocking about this isn’t Benton’s anti-green views. It’s that he has an almost perfect track record of failure and interpersonal conflict, often resulting in legal or disciplinary action, at every public position he’s held.

There are a number of stories now noting directives that were given by some unspecified person, then were pulled after backlash.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Wednesday added a layer of confusion to reports that the Trump administration directed a communications crackdown on a handful of federal agencies.

“That’s nothing that’s coming from the White House,” Spicer told the press during his daily briefing. “They haven’t been directed by us to do anything.”

The comments by Spicer – who has proved himself capable of delivering falsehoods from the press briefing podium – are at odds with a report from the Associated Press that employees at the Environmental Protection Agency were expressly banned from tweeting, issuing press releases or speaking with reporters by the administration.

Over the administration’s first few days, at least five federal agencies including the EPA and Department of Agriculture (USDA) were reportedly directed to cut down on their publishing of public content, specifically to Twitter. The departments of health and human services (HHS), transportation (DoT) and interior (DoI) also received restrictive guidance.

Trump starts offensive against Democratic cities

The new directive to strip federal funds from sanctuary cities and the launch of an investigation about so-called illegal voting are both targeting Democratic cities.

Let's call these decisions what they are - moves against Democratic cities designed to defund them and repress voting.

Lying about illegal voting is cover for election manipulation

It redirects the focus from the many tactics used to manipulate the election - purging; gerrymandering; providing too few working machines, having fewer polling places in college areas, poorer districts, and those with higher numbers of people of color; placing barriers to registration; and hacking by a foreign country.

It is an attempt to change the conversation from the above to one about whether or not illegal voting occurred. As with their other lies, they don't care about needing or even trying to prove this. They only care about redirecting the the topic.

New resource countering Trump. https://presterity.org/

Just read about a new resource countering Trump called https://presterity.org/
This looks like it could be a good resource to have at hand.


Local techies launch fact-focused Trump wiki site

Jan Miksovsky was worried about how citizens will be able to keep up with the Donald Trump administration.
The longtime Seattle software engineer, who spent 16 years at Microsoft before founding two Seattle startups, helped gather the crew of developers and writers behind Presterity.org, a web portal pitched as a Wikipedia-like chronicle of the Trump administration.
The aim isn’t nonpartisan.
“We’d like to create what you might call a reference desk for people to try to resist the damages of the Trump administration,” Miksovsky said.

From the Presterity site:



This is a collectively authored reference site about the Donald Trump administration.
This work is produced by a partnership of concerned citizens, journalists, politicians, and watchdog organizations. Our mission is to document the Trump phenomenon, and ideally, limit the damage that can be caused by this unprecedented assault on facts, civil liberties, civil rights, and norms of public and political behavior.

Every march met or exceeded attendance today! Updating with numbers as people post them.

Wish I could be out there, but unfortunately came down with a bad cold.

What I can do is applaud the many people who went today - to rally, to march, to stand on sidewalks and overpasses to cheer and support.

I want to give an especially thankful shout out to our many DU sisters and brothers who attended today.

You rock!

I'll update this post with attendance numbers as I see them. Feel free to reply and I'll be glad to add in the OP.

500,000 or more in Washington DC.
3 miles of marchers in Seattle 120,000 - 150,000 (1st estimate was 50,000
(Thanks LisaM and ismnotwasm for updates)
Over 5,000 in Boise, Idaho and 6,000+ in Reno, Nevada (Thanks sage). Updated to 10,000+ in Reno, NV (Thanks rollin74)
250,000 in Chicago - so many they had to continue the rally instead of marching.
100,000 in London.
10,000 in Olympia, WA (had expected @ 2,000)
over 75,000 in Madison, WI (Thanks jodymarie)
8,000 - 9,000 in Lansing, MI (Thanks LAS14)
40,000 in Austin (Thanks Eleanors38). Updated 50,000 (Thanks Ananda)
20,000 in Naples, Fl - had expected 500-1,000. (Thanks martigras)
15,000 in Atlanta (Thanks littlemissmartypants) Updated 60,000 (Thanks Dulcinea)
100,000 - 200,000 in Denver, CO -had expected 40,000 (Thanks meadowlark5)
Fargo: 1000, Grand Forks: 304, Bismarck: about 800 (Thanks Qanisqineq for ND numbers!)
10,000 - 15,000 in Pittsburgh (Thanks littlemissmartypants). Updated 25,000 (Thanks TimeChaser)
100,000 or more in Boston (Thanks littlemissmartypants). Updated 150,000 (Thanks NotThisTime)
20,000 in Nashville (Thanks Tanuki)
750,000 in Los Angeles (Thanks unitedwethrive) and WOW!
100,000 in Portland, OR
Over 50,000 in Philadelphia (Thanks BumRushDaShow)
350-400 in Florence, OR (Thanks CanonRay)
15,000 - 20,000 in Portland and August Maine (Thanks LAS14)
2,000 in Victoria, BC (Thanks BBG)
3300 in Sioux Falls, Rapid City 1000 + (Thanks Dakotacrat)
20,000 in St Louis Missouri (Thanks The Polack MSgt)
15,000 in Tucson, AZ (Thanks ArizonaGOBlue)
350 Woodstock, Va (Thanks jcboon)
400,000 plus in NYC
20,000 in Phoenix (Thanks kairos12)
17,000 to 20,000 in Raleigh, NC and 300 in little Hillsborough, NC. (Thanks ncgrits)
25,000 in Des Moines, IA (Thanks efilon)
1,500 - 2,000 Friday Harbor, WA - people ferried from various San Juan islands to join there.
60,000 in Oakland, 25,000 in San Jose, 33,000 in San Francisco (Thanks BumRushDaShow)
Updated to 100,000 in San Francisco (Thanks Hell Hath No Fury)
And updated to 100,000 in Oakland (Thanks Fresh Start)
11,000 in Ann Arbor, MI (Thanks CalCarpenter and BarackAmerica)
6,000 in Santa Fe and 10,000 in Albuquerque (Thanks burrowowl). Updated to 10,000 in Santa Fe (Thanks burrowowl)
90,000 - 100,000 in St. Paul, MN (Thanks snacker)
7,000 Colorado Springs (Thanks uncle ray)
5,000 in Birmingham, AL (Thanks LAS14)
10,000 in New Orleans -goal was 3,000 (Thanks fleur-de-lisa)
10,000 - 15,000 Vancouver, BC
10,000 - Houston (Thanks Bucky)
6,000 in Asbury Park, NJ (Thanks DarknStormyKnight)
5,000 in Lexington Kentucky (Thanks Liberal Jesus Freak)
Over 3,000 in Anchorage, Alaska - in bitter cold (Thanks littlemissmartypants)
15,000 + in Tallahassee - expected 1,500 - 2,000 (Thanks csziggy)
1,000 in New Smyrna Beach FL (Thanks DrDan)
2,500 - 3,000 in Buffalo, NY (Thanks jodymarie)
Mexico City - haven't seen an estimate, but NPR wrote "march was so large, the crowd of demonstrators stretched from one landmark to the other."
Over 4,000 in Detroit (Thanks Cal Carpenter)
5,000 - 10,000 in Fort Worth - organizer initially thought 20 might show (Thanks Horse with no Name)
25,000 in St. Petersburg, FL (Thanks LAS14)
1,500 in Duluth, MN. They were expecting 400. (Thanks trailrunner)
10,000 in Santa Cruz, CA (Thanks Caliman73)
20,000 in Sacramento, 5,000 in Santa Rosa and 10,000 in Walnut Creek - expected 600 there (Thanks Fresh Start)
12,000 - 14,000 in Omaha, NE -expected 2,000 - 4,000 and at least 2,000 in Lincoln, NE (Thanks DallasNE)
Around 200 in Vallejo, CA (Thanks dianne in sf)
2,000 in Fresno California (Thanks onecaliberal)
30+ in Antarctica (Thanks world wide wally)
Over 500 in Melbourne, FL (Thanks Pacifist Patriot)
Glens Falls, NY: 1,500 - expected 150 (Thanks nuxvomica)
500+ in Oneanta, NY and 200+ in Otswgo, NY (Thanks bettyellen)

Seattle Council Mike O'Brian chairs meeting wearing pink 'pussy' hat

Sydney Brownstone

PS here is @CMMikeOBrien chairing a meeting while wearing a pussy hat. pic.twitter.com/KAZEHNECn4
2:29 PM - 20 Jan 2017


Looks like he's gearing up for tomorrow's march

Meanwhile, Canada's Health Minister advocates lowering their Pharma costs

While we in the United States are caught up in how much our health care is about to be cut and in arguing about votes on bills whether or not to import Canada's marginally lower priced pharmaceuticals, Canada has moved on to seeking how to lower their drug prices to bring them more in line with other countries.

I was flipping channels the other day and caught a small segment of a Canadian program in which their Health Minister was speaking about the need to lower their drug prices.

I searched for more information and found some in this article.


Patented drug prices in Canada are regulated by comparing what we pay to the average price paid by seven other countries. As long as our prices are in line with that average, no action can be taken.

The problem, Philpott said, is the United States is one of those seven countries, which skews the average high because the United States has the highest drug prices in the world.

She wants to remove the United States from that list and replace it with a country like New Zealand, which has some of the lowest drug prices in the world.

"We are going to be introducing some of this work in the coming months," she told the fifth estate.

What's stunning to me is that we are so far behind the curve in the United States on having affordable health care which should include the cost of necessary medication that we have to fight about small measures to allow importing/reimporting drugs from the 2nd most costly nation.

Meanwhile Canada is seeking to bring their costs down in line with other countries that have more comprehensive coverage/care and the debate there is whether they keep their current system and reform it as above or change to adopt a system closer to New Zealand's which provides lower prices for its citizens.

Note that I am not blaming our Representatives for trying to at least mitigate costs by working on legislation to allow us to import from Canada. I'm glad they are trying to effect that small change even as they are not in full agreement on how to accomplish it. I'm just shaking my head at the American exceptionalism that has created this situation in the first place.

"James Comey Cannot Be Trusted With a Trump-Russia Investigation"


This matter requires an unquestionably independent investigation because the outstanding questions go to the heart of our democracy and to the legitimacy of the Trump presidency. They include:

• Did Trump campaign officials – or intermediaries such as Roger Stone – have knowledge of the Russian government’s campaign to hack the email accounts of Democratic party officials and release the information through Wikileaks?

• Did Trump campaign officials, including former chairman Paul Manafort – who once worked for a Putin-backed autocrat in Ukraine – change the party’s platform at the behest of the Russian government?

• What are the extent of Trump’s business dealings in Russia, and is there any truth to the allegations the Russian government is sitting on information with which it plans to blackmail him?

• Did Trump campaign officials such as incoming national security advisor Michael Flynn, a paid contributor to the Kremlin-financed RT television network, participate in the official Russian propaganda campaign to elect Trump that the intelligence community described in its public report?

Russia waging information war against Sweden, study finds

Source: The Guardian

Sweden’s most authoritative foreign policy institute has accused Russia of using fake news, false documents and disinformation as part of a coordinated campaign to influence public opinion and decision-making in the Scandinavian country.

The Swedish Institute of International Affairs said in a comprehensive study that Sweden had been the target of “a wide array of active measures” aimed at “hampering its ability to generate public support in pursuing its policies”.

The study said Russia had used misleading reports on its state-run news website Sputnik, and public interventions by Russian politicians in Swedish domestic affairs, as well as more covert methods.

These included forged documents and fabricated news items that appeared in Swedish media and were subsequently picked up by Sputnik and “other sources of Russian public diplomacy” and broadcast to an international audience, it said.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/11/russia-waging-information-war-in-sweden-study-finds

Dutch trains become 100% wind-powered

Source: Agence France-Presse in The Hague

All Dutch trains have become 100% powered by electricity generated by wind energy, the national railway company NS said yesterday.

“Since the first of January, 100% of our trains are running on wind energy,” said NS spokesman, Ton Boon.

Dutch electricity company Eneco won a tender offered by NS two years ago and the two companies signed a 10-year deal setting January 2018 as the date by which all NS trains should run on wind energy.

“So we in fact reached our goal a year earlier than planned,” said Boon, adding that an increase in the number of wind farms across the country and off the coast of The Netherlands had helped NS achieve its aim.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/10/dutch-trains-100-percent-wind-powered-ns
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