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Gender: Female
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Member since: Mon Dec 13, 2004, 02:55 AM
Number of posts: 12,232

Journal Archives

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.

Trump plans a rally. Meanwhile, Tillerson to meet Russians at G20 and Pence to meet with Merkel

At Munich Security Conference.


Washington (CNN)Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford meet face to face with their Russian counterparts Thursday, as the Trump administration evaluates the future direction of US-Russian relations.

Tillerson, a former oil executive who was confirmed as Secretary of State two weeks ago, departed Wednesday for a G-20 ministerial meeting in Bonn, Germany -- his inaugural international trip as the United States' top diplomat. He'll be joined in Bonn by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and representatives from the world's other major economies.
The Russian Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday that Tillerson and Lavrov will meet on the sidelines of the conference on Thursday. It will be their first such meeting since Tillerson took office.

Also this week, Trump's Vice President, Mike Pence, plans to address the Munich Security Conference over the weekend and meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The meeting will be Merkel's first in-person encounter with a member of the Trump administration since the inauguration last month.

Edit to add that Dunford is apparently going to Azerbaijan to meet with his Russian counterpart.

The more I think about this, the more I think Trump is doing a "look over here, not over there" move. How much media time will focus on his circus rally instead of these meetings? The article notes the Dunford one was just announced. I wonder if that's partly because of the Flynn debacle.

"Russia brushes off Flynn resignation, looks to Rex Tillerson for negotiations"


After defending Flynn amid the controversy, Russian lawmakers are now signalling a turn toward U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in improving ties.


The Russian establishment has not harboured any illusions about the Trump administration’s pro-Russia stance for some time now, said Alexei Makarkin at the Moscow-based Center for Political Technologies.

“This infatuation with Trump in Russia is over, and Flynn as a person who has contributed to this infatuation stopped being perceived as a figure who can have a real impact on the U.S. foreign policy,” Makarkin said.

The nomination of Tillerson, former chief executive at ExxonMobil, showed the Russians that he, not Flynn, would be doing the negotiating, Makarkin said.

A few thoughts on this:

- Tillerson has long standing ties to Russians and a mutual interest in extracting as much oil as possible, especially in the Arctic region.

- I wonder how much intel Flynn already gave them.

- Hmmm - Center for Political Technologies.
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