July 17, 2018

A new reason for unveiling Trump's tax returns

Boomberg - In case you've forgotten about them, President Donald Trump's personal income tax returns still matter. So do the Trump Organization's business relationships and finances. If you ever doubted either of those things, consider the president's meeting in Helsinki on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

During their press conference, the subject of "compromising" information arose at the very end of their briefing.

"Sir, do you — does the Russian government have any compromising material on President Trump or his family?" Jonathan Lemire, an Associated Press reporter, asked Putin.

Trump shook his head and smirked, gazing down at his lectern. Putin chuckled.

"Yeah, I did hear these rumors that we allegedly collected compromising material on Mr. Trump when he was visiting Moscow," Putin replied, before noting that it was impossible to gather intelligence on the multitude of Western businesspeople who visit Russia. Trump was never important enough in his pre-presidency days to warrant the Kremlin's attention, he added.

"Well, it’s difficult to imagine utter nonsense on a bigger scale than this," Putin said. "Please disregard these issues and don’t think about this anymore again."

Trump then chimed in: "I have to say if they had it, it would have been out long ago." He added that the Justice Department's investigation of possible collusion between Trump's campaign and the Kremlin during the 2016 presidential election was a "total witch hunt." Then he called an end to the briefing and walked away with Putin.

Word: Trump and Putin

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman writes that Trump“is either an asset of Russian intelligence or really enjoys playing one on TV.”

Activists seek congressional support against airline's seat legroom abuse

Telegraph, UK - The US Senate is under pressure to back legislation which would set a minimum size for airline seats.

Airlines have been relentlessly cutting seat size and pitch as they try to boost their bottom line.

Now FlyersRights.org, the main passenger advocacy group in the US, has said enough is enough, warning that the trend is posing a health and safety risk.

It wants Congress to prevent airlines shrinking seats even further and establish a minimum seat size. A measure has passed the House of Representatives but still needs Senate approval.

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Latest indictment involves direct Russian collusion

Daily Beast - It’s the first time the Justice Department has explicitly claimed that a Russian spy working to influence the 2016 campaign had deliberate assistance with her efforts from a U.S. citizen. On Monday, the DOJ arrested and charged a Russian national who courted the NRA and the Republican Party with secretly working as a foreign agent.

The criminal complaint already has geopolitical implications, with the Russian Embassy calling for access to the alleged spy. And its implications for domestic politics also could be tectonic: The case is as close as it gets to collusion. According to the Justice Department, at least one American helped her with her influence operation.

How we helped to create Donald Trump

A quarter century ago, your editor wrote a piece - "Global Dumbing - The Politics of Entropy" which raised a little noted issue that helps to explain how we ended up with Donald Trump as president. As noted below, national entropy "is there in the increasingly childish rhetoric of our campaigns and in our own passivity in the face of it. And it is there in the increasingly likely possibility that we will have to choose between a Republican who doesn't know where he's going and a Democrat who doesn't care where he's going . . .


July 16, 2018

U.S. judge suspends deportations of reunited immigrant families

Definition of treason

18 U.S. Code § 2381 - Treason

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 807; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(2)(J), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)

 

Putin pet Trump more critical of FBI than of Russia

BBC - After face-to-face talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Trump contradicted US intelligence agencies and said there had been no reason for Russia to meddle in the vote.

Mr Putin reiterated that Russia had never interfered in US affairs.

The two men held nearly two hours of closed-door talks in the Finnish capital Helsinki on Monday.

At a news conference after the summit, President Trump was asked if he believed his own intelligence agencies or the Russian president when it came to the allegations of meddling in the elections.

"President Putin says it's not Russia. I don't see any reason why it should be," he replied.

US intelligence agencies concluded in 2016 that Russia was behind an effort to tip the scale of the US election against Hillary Clinton, with a state-authorised campaign of cyber attacks and fake news stories planted on social media.

MSN - Putin later confirmed that he did want Trump to win in 2016, “because he talked about normalizing relations” between Russia and the United States.

Best and worst big cities in which to buy your first house

Wallet Hub

Best big cities in which to buy your first house
  • Tampa
  • Colorado Springs
  • Raleigh
  • Columbus
  • Pittsburgh
  • Phoenix
  • Denver
  • Minneapolis
  • Las Vegas
  • El Paso
Worst big cities in which to buy your first house
  • Santa Ana
  • Houston
  • Boston
  • Los Angeles
  • Washington 
  • Miami
  • New York City
  • Oakland
  • San Francisco
  • Detroit

Tax cuts of $111 billion went to top one percent

NY Times -- The top-earning 1 percent of households — those earning more than $607,000 a year — will pay a combined $111 billion less this year in federal taxes than they would have if the laws had remained unchanged since 2000. That’s an enormous windfall. It’s more, in total dollars, than the tax cut received over the same period by the entire bottom 60 percent of earners, according to an analysis being published today.

The new confederacy

Hit & Run - An investigation into a false arrest has uncovered a former Florida police chief's scheme to boost his department's clearance rate by arresting innocent people.

The authorities are charging former Biscayne Park Police Chief Raimundo Atesiano and two officers, Charlie Dayoub and Raul Fernandez, with conspiracy to violate civil rights. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Atesiano's department arrested a 16-year-old citizen for a series of burglaries, without evidence, all "to maintain a fictitious 100 percent clearance rate of reported burglaries." If convicted, the trio faces a maximum sentence of 11 years in prison.

How the young could decide elections from now on

Not often discussed, but one of the biggest political divisions in our country is age. The voting age population under 50 years old is 55% of the nation's total. While that may seem slim, the division on issues is much greater, meaning that the young have far more potential influence than is generally realized. For example a recent Politico poll in Arizona found voters under 50 were 22% less likely to approve of Trump and 14% less likely to vote for a GOP candidate for the House. They are also 9% more likely to accept refugees.

The problem is that the young are less likely to vote, as this Election Project chart shows.
 
Thus a major goal for coming elections is to find ways to get more of the young to vote. 

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Word: Putin's pet

Jim VandeHei. Axios: “At today’s Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, you have an American president huddling alone with an enemy of the United States who infiltrated our election system.”


“They’ll do it on the first weekday after the president’s own government indicted a dozen Russian intelligence agents for carrying out the cyberattack. Also Friday, Trump’s top intel official declared that the current danger of more Russian cyberattacks is akin to warning signs before 9/11, when 3,000 were killed and terrorism reshaped the core of our country and lives.”

“You have an American president who publicly shrugs at the threat, and claims most of the coverage is fake — even as it echoes the precise warnings and conclusions of his own government officials.”