Trump moves embassy, Middle East takes a turn for the worse

While it has always been a US policy to keep the US Embassy in Tel Aviv so that it doesn’t increase tensions, Donald Trump’s decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem brought tensions higher. Just on the day of the opening of the “new” embassy in Jerusalem, clashes killed quite a few and many more injured.

“While presidents before him have backed down from their pledge to move the American Embassy once they were in office, this president delivered. Because when President Trump makes a promise, he keeps it,” Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner said. Actually few if any previous president promised to move the embassy knowing the problems it could bring. As for making a promise, it is one of the few election promises that he kept.

Trump said he remained committed to “facilitating a lasting peace agreement” except few believe this will actually help bring peace to the region and most think it will raise tensions. More than half the representatives from various countries did not attend the opening.

A minor woops. Ivanka Trump, with microphone in hand, she beamed her 100-watt smile and welcomed the attendees on behalf of “the 45th President of the United States on America” to the “new” US Embassy in Jerusalem. If you missed it, she said “on” instead of “of”. But aside from the goof, aside from the fact that the embassy was a actually a consulate upgraded to an embassy – and it still cost US taxpayers millions to “upgrade”.

Thousands of pages were released by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The voluminous testimony and exhibits pertaining to the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting tell us much about two key prongs of interest in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The first is attempted coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, and the second is possible obstruction of justice regarding the investigation into that potential collusion.

Mueller’s team has informed Trump’s attorneys that they have concluded that they cannot indict a sitting president – this according to Rudy Giuliani. That conclusion is likely based on longstanding Justice Department guidelines. The inability to indict a sitting president has been the position of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department since the Nixon administration and reaffirmed in the Clinton administration, but it has never been tested in court.

But Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, says he thinks Trump could be indicted, despite Giuliani expressing otherwise.

Giuliani said that Mueller has agreed to narrow the scope of a potential interview with Trump from five topics to two. Giuliani claims that the President has “complete discretion to fire anybody he wants.”

Giuliani said “he [a president] can [obstruct justice], but in the case of firing a subordinate who is going to be replaced by somebody else on an active basis immediately.”

A recent New York Times report that at least one government informant met several times with Trump campaign advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. But Giuliani said he didn’t know for sure if there were informants embedded with the Trump campaign who spoke to federal authorities. Trump’s lawyers “were told there were two embedded people in the campaign” but where did they get their information from. Trump tweeted about the “all time greatest political scandal.”

[Giuliani is always making comments that conflict (or not verified to be factual) with what others have said. The above are further examples.]

US officials said that the confidential intelligence source was not planted inside the campaign to provide information to investigators. The identity of the informant had been closely held at the highest levels of the FBI and intelligence community, and the individual has been a source for the FBI and CIA for years.

“Apparently the DOJ put a Spy in the Trump Campaign. This has never been done before and by any means necessary, they are out to frame Donald Trump for crimes he didn’t commit,” Trump said.

Trump blamed Democrats for immigration laws that force federal immigration agents to break up families during a roundtable to discuss California sanctuary state policies. “I know what you’re going through right now with families is very tough. But those are the bad laws the Democrats gave us,” Trump said during the meeting with California officials.

“We have to break up families,” Trump said. Interesting since Trump has undo many Obama era laws. So why not these? As well, an odd comment since getting rid of DACA will surely split up families, let alone deporting non-Americans from the US – the estimated 11 million.

The administration is using protocols described in a 2008 law designed to combat child trafficking that gave special protections to Central American children at the border. While the bill was authored by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, it unanimously passed both houses of Congress and was signed by Republican President George W. Bush as one of his last acts in office. A democrat authored law approved by Congress and a Republican president.

“These [MS-13 gang and other criminals] aren’t people, these are animals. And we’re taking them out of the country at a level, at a rate, that’s never happened before and because of the weak laws…” And yet he has done nothing in 16 months to fix those laws.

Trump acknowledged for the first time that he repaid his lawyer Michael Cohen more than $100,000 for expenses Cohen incurred during the 2016 presidential election, according to a financial disclosure form. The document did not explicitly state what the payments were for.

The Senate Intelligence Committee announced that it agreed with the Intelligence Community’s assessment that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 election to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton. Tell me something we don’t know…..

There goes Trump’s Nobel Prize. North Korea has threatened to cancel the planned summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, saying the US should carefully consider the fate of the upcoming meeting, in view of what it calls “provocative military disturbances with South Korea.” What they mean is the annual joint military drill conducted by South Korea and the US.

Trump reported on his financial disclosure, filed with the US Office of Government Ethics and released Wednesday, that his golf-related revenue made him about $67 million less in 2017 in comparison with 2016. Trump carries as much as $1.25 billion in mortgages that will mature in the next five to seven years for three of his golf courses.

A man who opened fire at the Trump National Doral Golf Club in Miami had been yelling “anti-Trump … rhetoric” there. The gunman is in stable condition after police shot him in an exchange of gunfire.

Previously, at the White House, Kelly Sadler, an aide to Trump “joked” that John McCain’s opposition to CIA nominee Gina Haspel was largely immaterial because “he’s dying anyway.” The Trump White House has refused to apologize for the remark. Now the White House is saying that is a secondary matter and are claiming that the real problem is that information was leaked from the meeting. Seriously? After how many days they came up with this excuse.

Then Matt Schlapp, the head of the American Conservative Union and husband of White House adviser Mercedes Schlapp, said on CNN’s “New Day” that Sadler is “a little bit of a victim here.” Yes. You read right. And still, she hasn’t apologized except to McCain’s daughter.

Christopher Wylie, a former Cambridge Analytica employee who blew the whistle on its alleged misuse of Facebook data, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the company offered services to discourage voting from targeted sections of the American population. He alleged that African-Americans were particular targets of Cambridge Analytica’s “voter disengagement tactics,.

“Mr. Bannon sees cultural warfare as the means to create enduring change in American politics. It was for this reason Mr. Bannon engaged SCL (Cambridge Analytica’s parent company), a foreign military contractor, to build an arsenal of informational weapons he could deploy on the American population,” Wylie claimed, referring to Trump’s former top political adviser Steve Bannon.

Cambridge Analytica is under investigation by the Department of Justice and the FBI. The probe into the firm has led to prosecutors querying its former employees and banks that handled its business dealings.

Andrew Hughes, 32, who is now serving in a powerful senior level position as chief of staff to HUD Secretary Ben Carson, is a former Uber driver who lacks any government, policy and relevant experience at the agency. The department’s deputy chief of staff, Deana Bass, is leaving in June. She was Carson’s press secretary for his badly failed 2016 presidential campaign.

Not really surprising because Carson himself is a medical doctor with no government experience prior to taking the reins of HUD. Meanwhile nominees for three key assistant secretary slots have not yet been confirmed – 16 months after the election.

Trump has characteristically taken to Twitter to announce that he has directed the US Department of Commerce to allow ZTE to operate again as there are mounting job losses in China. ZTE said it was ceasing “major operating activities” due to export sanctions placed on it by the US government, after the Department of Commerce said ZTE lied to the Bureau of Industry and Security about disciplinary actions supposedly enforced on senior employees relating to the illegal shipments to Iran and North Korea, and paid full bonuses to employees who had engaged in illegal conduct.

So Trump decides that what ZTE was doing wasn’t so illegal. On top of that Trump seems to be caring more about Chines jobs than US jobs. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in April “ZTE misled the Department of Commerce. Instead of reprimanding ZTE staff and senior management.” So that went out the window. The company was subsequently slapped with a ban on purchasing components and software from US manufacturers for seven years.

Bill Gates talked recently about when he first met Trump. In one case, Trump didn’t know the difference between HPV and HIV. In another case he left a horse show only to return 20 minutes later ” o make a grand entrance in a helicopter”.

While still pathetically low for a president, Trump’s approval ratings have actually went up slightly in 3 areas 50-64 year olds and oddly those who weekly attend church and those who seldom or never attend church. At 42% it is around the same percentage when President Obama had his two lowest approval ratings [2011 near shutdown and a 2013 shutdown] as well a President G.W. Bush [right after Hurricane Katrina].

The Washington Post’s Fact-Checker blog has been keeping a strict count of Trump’s many misstatements, untruths and outright lies. And, over the weekend at a rally in Michigan, Trump hit a milestone: He topped 3,000 untrue or misleading statements in 466 days in office. Averaging 6.5 per day, over the past 2 months he’s averaged 9 per day.

“Girls. We left open the first female President of the United States if you want it.” Kellyanne “The Witch” Conway said to pre-teen children at the White House during Easter. So the US could have to wait probably at least 40 years before the first female president?

Rachel Crooks, who alleged that Donald Trump kissed her without her consent in 2005 when she was working as a receptionist in Trump Tower, secured her primary bid for state office in Ohio.

 

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The two sides of Trump

{Nice with North Korea, nasty with Iran.]

Donald Trump: “When I make promises, I keep them.” [OK, you can get off the floor when you are finish laughing.]

So not surprising, Trump is killing the Iranian nuclear deal. He cited [as some of his excuses] the flawed and dated argument from Israeli prime Minister Netanyahu.

“Any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States. America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail.” And then “Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie,” Trump said. But the Director of National Intelligence, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense have all said in last two months they are complying with the deal.

Iran has stated that the US would suffer if the deal disintegrates. However, short of using nuclear weapons, they can’t do too much of their own. However, leaving the deal could cause oil prices to rise as well as affect other areas of the economy. [Even if the oil prices don’t rise much if any, local gas stations will jack up the price anyways. Gougers.]

At one point Trump said “It didn’t bring calm. It didn’t bring peace.” Of course not, the deal says nothing about Iran stopping buying or using non-nuclear military hardware.

Now there is talk that at least one Sunni Muslim country, Saudi Arabia, who now intend on building their own nuclear missiles. Saudi Arabia and Iran are considered enemies.

Sanctions could return within 90 days against Iran. Companies that deal with Iran [including for an example an $8 billion US deal with Boeing] are at stake. Trouble could hit companies based in other countries who signed the original deal which could cause some further issues. The remainder of the countries that were part of the deal are still trying to work with Iran.

Is Trump playing with the lives of North Korea detainees? Last week, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s so-called lawyer but more like another spokesman who doesn’t know facts, claimed that three Americans detained [or taken hostage] by North Korea will be released that day. Two days later they still weren’t but he Giuliani said “there is a good chance” that three Americans detained in North Korea “will be released over the next several days.”

The question is whether Trump kyboshed the release so they can be released closer to when he is expected to have a meeting with Kim Jun Un in June. So are the three detainees being kept in a North Korean prison [which are probably far from being as nice as a room at the Trump Hotel in Washington] longer than they should? Just so that Trump an show he can make a “deal”? And if anything what is Trump giving up?

White House and State Department officials were still working to verify reports the three Americans had been moved from labor camps to a hotel in Pyongyang.

Trump, by making such a splash of the prisoners’ return, could be accused by critics of exploiting them as props for a presidency in crisis. Alternatively, Kim Jun Un could boast that an American president came to see him – something his father couldn’t do – and maybe use it for propaganda. Even with the three prisoners released, Un could say in North Korean media that Trump begged for their release.

Un has had various high profile American dignitaries come to North Korea before to seek release of American prisoners. Since all the prisoners were arrested and convicted on trumped [errr] up charges, Un could be taking prisoners in exchange of future public appreciation. Un took the hostages in order to release them later and to get rewarded for it. Trump himself thanked Un for the release – but as head of the country, it was probably on his orders to have them arrested.

Even though Trump has claimed there is an agreement for where and when to have his meeting with Un, all bets are off if Trump cancels the meeting.

Trump said at 3 AM, “I think you probably broke the all-time in history television rating for three o’clock in the morning.” Ummm. 3 AM? The administration probably did not notify US citizens when the prisoners would land on US soil. As usual, what ratings? You can’t get any ratings results at the same time you are at the location. There are ratings for TV shows and events that are announced. This isn’t either. Does he thinks this is like reality TV like The Apprentice? Trump has tweeted the word “ratings” 263 times since 2010.

Trump suggested that “angry Democrats” on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team could face legal action over alleged “conflicts of interest.” Trump did not provide proof of the alleged conflicts. Trump also suggested that the investigation was being dragged out so it could damage Republicans in the midterm elections.

Mueller’s investigators have questioned a Russian oligarch about hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments his company’s US affiliate made to Cohen, after the election. Viktor Vekselberg, chairman of asset manager Renova Group, is an oligarch close to Vladimir Putin, and last month the Trump administration placed him on a list of sanctioned Russians for activities including election interference.

The purpose of the payments, which predate the sanctions, and the nature of the business relationship between Vekselberg and Cohen is unclear. Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti alleged the $500,000 from Vekselberg went into the bank account for Essential Consultants, a shell company that Cohen set up before the election that was used to pay Daniels. Avenatti added that the payments occurred from January to August 2017.

The Russian was questioned as well about $300,000 in political donations by Andrew Intrater, Vekselberg’s American cousin who is the head of Columbus Nova.

AT&T confirmed that it paid President Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen in 2017 for “insights into understanding the new administration.” At the time, AT&T was seeking government approval for its acquisition of Time Warner.  A document released by Avenatti stated that “Essential received $200,000 in four separate payments of $50,000 in late 2017 and early 2018 from AT&T.”

Almost like a lobbyist, Cohen has been advertising him as the man who has Trump’s ear by saying “I’m the guy you should hire. I’m closest to the President. I’m his personal lawyer.” This is how over a period of time, he pulled in over $4.4 million from AT&T, Novartis, Korea Aerospace Industries, and others. Many were looking for supposedly information about Trump and his administration.

Even after he wasn’t offered a job in Trump’s administration after inauguration day or since, he nevertheless continued to portray himself as Trump’s go-to guy.

AT&T has claimed the company only paid Cohen to gain “insights” into Trump and that there was no legal or lobbying work. However, if it went farther than that, then there could be some legal issues. AT&T said they wish they didn’t do it.

As for Novartis, Cohen received $400,000 just before dinner Trump reportedly had with a Novartis executive in Davos, Switzerland. That could raise a few red flags. Novartis has regrets now.

Gina Haspel offered to withdraw her nomination as Trump’s pick to head the CIA after some White House officials raised concerns with her about her ability to get confirmed but she agreed to continue with her nomination. The White House has been concerned about her past involvement with the CIA’s controversial interrogation program.

Trump tweeted regarding Haspel “There is nobody even close to run the CIA!” And there is a possibility she won’t be approved!

“Our administration has provided more than a million documents; we’ve fully cooperated in it, and in the interest of the country, I think it’s time to wrap it up,” Vice President Mike Pence said in an interview. Can you say “obstruction of justice”? Two Republican senators replied that Pence has no decision making in the matter.

White House chief of staff John Kelly said he believes the vast majority of undocumented immigrants crossing the southern border into the US are “… not people that would easily assimilate into the United States into our modern society” because they are poorly educated.

At a rally, Trump claimed President Obama paid $1.8 billion for hostages from North Korea while he paid nothing. Where did he get that amount from? He didn’t say [as usual].

Trump commented that he would like to actually withdrawal the right for some journalists from reporting at the White House. Of course these are those who [in Trump’s mind] are anti-Trump. Of course this goes against the First Amendment.

Rudy Giuliani continues to be possibly big mistake in hiring when he left open the possibility that Cohen might have doled out payments like the one he made to adult film star Stormy Daniels to other women. When asked if there were other women paid, Giuliani said “I would think if it was necessary, yes.”

A reminder that Trump has also been accused by at least 15 women of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, sexual harassment and lewd behavior. Trump has denied all the allegations, and at one point during the 2016 campaign, threatened to sue his accusers, although he has yet to do so.

Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen got into a lengthy, heated argument during a Cabinet meeting focused on immigration. Trump was furious with Nielsen, telling her he didn’t think she was doing enough to secure the border. Nielsen told colleagues she was close to resigning after the incident.

The Trump administration has decided to refer every person caught crossing the border illegally for federal prosecution, a policy that could result in the separation of far more parents from their children at the border. The move would also mean that even if immigrants caught at the border illegally have valid asylum claims, they could still end up with federal criminal convictions on their record regardless of whether a judge finds they have a right to live and stay in the US.

At least eight alt-right website domain names were registered to Columbus Nova, the company that paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen.

Within hours of assuming his new post, Trump appointed Richard Grenell triggered harsh criticism in Germany when he said “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately.” The timing and tone struck some German politicians, journalists and business executives as a threat, offensive and inappropriate. The criticism was echoed by top officials elsewhere in Europe including Luxembourg’s Foreign Minister. Grenell claimed this was the “exact language” that the White House told him to use.

Trump continues to go after Amazon because he claims that the US Postal Service got a bad deal for shipping Amazon packages. Problem is that the deal hasn’t been publically disclosed [if it can be]. So we can assume that Trump is over blowing another issue. That and he dislikes Amazon owner Jeff Bezos who owns The Washington Post who aren’t a fan of Trump.

Trump’s luxury golf resort in Turnberry, Scotland, has banned the sale of Irn-Bru on the premises. The ban came to light after guests asked for Scotland’s favourite non-alcoholic beverage to be supplied at an event but were refused because staff were concerned about potential spills.

Trump tweeted “Thought he [James Comey] was terrible until I fired him!” So Comey was great after he was fired?

Trump urged voters in West Virginia to reject controversial Republican Senate candidate Don Blankenship in the state’s primary. Blankenship’s campaign — from its nativist tendencies to its use of conspiracy theories — takes many cues from the President’s 2016 playbook.

Blankenship is a former CEO of Massey Energy and who until recently was serving a year-long sentence for a misdemeanor conviction over his involvement in the deadliest US mine explosion in four decades. But Democrats have also tried to boost Blankenship. A super PAC linked to Democrats has been running ads in West Virginia attacking the two other Republicans nominated for weeks. In the end Blankenship came in third.

Ailing Senator John McCain is said to requested that Trump should not attend his funeral. He also has requested that George W Bush and Barrack Obama to deliver eulogies.  Wonder if Trump will comment about it on Twitter. Oh he probably will.

Trump tweeted “Five Most Wanted leaders of ISIS just captured!” Wow! All 5! Does that mean ISIS has no leadership? Not. Resolve Army Col. Ryan Dillon tweeted originally “5 key” – not “5 Most Wanted”. So Trump blows things out of proportions again. #FakeNews

Trump told reporters “Everyone thinks so, but I would never say it” when asked if he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for his involvement in the warming of relations with North Korea, the only prize he wants is a victory for the world. Wait until there is actually what could be described as peace before claiming your prize! In the meantime, is he forgetting Iran? He just killed a nuclear deal which has heightened tensions in the Middle East.

Could be something, or nothing. According to Senator Tim Kaine, the 4 American soldiers killed in Niger in 2017 were at least partially on an unauthorized mission when they were ambushed and killed by ISIS in a village. They were searching for a high value target, a mission they were not authorized, trained or equipped to conduct. They later reverted to an advisory capacity with the Nigerien forces they were working with.

 

Issues plague Windows 10 update

If you are thinking of not waiting for the notification and decided you want to get the latest feature update to Windows 10 [i.e. build 17134 or v1803 or Redstone 4 or April 2018 Update], you may wish to hold off for a bit.

There are a serious number of issues that are affecting some users.

Among them are: mouse problems, microphone problems, problems with Microsoft Office, problems with Cortana, problems with Edge and problems with Google’s Chrome browser. There may be others.

Microsoft says these issues will be fixed with the first big update coming this Tuesday [on Patch Tuesday]. There has already been two small updates since the release this past week.

Personally, I may wait at least two months. Windows 10 Pro editions allows delays of feature updates.

[Update 2018/05/10:] While the update for Patch Tuesday has supposedly fixed some issues, there are reports that some are getting a black screen for a lengthy amount of time after installing the update and rebooting.

Adding to the issues of the update [going from v1709 to v1803] are issues with Intel SSD 600P series and 600P Pro series. They could be others but these two series are known to have issues.

Another bug ids that you can’t upgrade if the installation detects an empty drive. Yup. As well, you got ALT+TAB is slow while gaming. Disabling all the options from Focus Assist seems to fix the issue.

Additionally NVIDIA GPU settings are unavailable and finally some audio settings may be lost. I have encountered the reset [or loss] of audio settings after every upgrade.

Legal issue and bad advisors plague Trump

Watch the White House Correspondent’s Dinner? Main even Michelle Wolf made some zingers – both positive and negative. Maybe a bit over the line for a few.

Donald Trump said the annual correspondents’ dinner was “an embarrassment.” He called comedian Michelle Wolf’s stand-up act “filthy.” He should know about filthy. Remember that tape of him for Access Hollywood. “Everyone is talking about the fact that the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was a very big, boring bust … the so-called comedian really ‘bombed.'” According to you maybe.

White House Correspondence Dinner President Margaret Talev says she’ll work with the next president on “the format of the dinner going forward.” I guess she won’t work with Trump then.

Trump did not attend the annual correspondents’ dinner as he was doing an election style rally in Michigan. There, Trump told supporters during a 90 minutes speech that if Congress did not meet his funding demands for border security, he may support a government shutdown this fall. Despite his campaign pledge to make Mexico pay for his proposed wall on the US-Mexico border, Trump has demanded that Congress fund the project.

In March, he signed a bill that funds the government through September that included $1.6 billion for border security, but not the wall. For the leader of the nation, where his part has majorities in the House and Senate, he has really done nothing.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is interested in asking Trump a variety of questions related to the 2016 campaign and people who have figured in Trump’s personal life, business interactions and administration, according to Mueller’s list of questions for Trump obtained and reported on by The New York Times. Trump couldn’t wait to tweet “So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were ‘leaked’ to the media. No questions on Collusion.”

In the nearly 50 questions “leaked”, there were about a dozen questions related to collusion and yet after the leak, Trump tweeted “There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap).” I guess he doesn’t know the definition of collusion. The questions were compiled by Trump’s lawyers during negotiations with Mueller’s investigators earlier this year over the prospect of a presidential interview.

There was talk as far back as March where Mueller’s team would decide to subpoena Trump as part of the investigation, he could still fight it in court or refuse to answer questions by invoking his Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination.

Trump said that his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was paid via a monthly retainer and flatly denied that any campaign money was used to reimburse Cohen for the hush agreement with Stormy Daniels. But just a month ago when the payment first appeared, Trump said he knew nothing about a $130,000 payment.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is one of Trump’s personal lawyers, told Fox News that Trump paid back Cohen the $130,000 that was used to pay off Daniels. Giuliani said Cohen was “definitely reimbursed” and was “not campaign money”. [That’s one heck of a monthly retainer!] Trump had repaid Cohen over several months, indicating the payments continued through at least the presidential transition, if not into his presidency. No debt to Cohen is listed on Trump’s personal financial disclosure form, which was certified on June 16, 2017.

“Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford [Daniel’s real name], and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” Cohen said in February 2018. He notably did not include the president personally.

Trump is probably changing his mind when it comes to Giuliani after he said “he’ll get his facts straight.” Aside from Giuliani opening his mouth regarding the $130,000 payment to Story Daniels which contradicted Trump’s early claims, Giuliani then announced that three US prisoners would be freed from North Korea, but the day after no administration officials were confirming that. Now Giuliani says he was given the wrong information and assumed some of the facts.

Cohen gained access to lines of credit worth as much as $774,000 as Trump’s campaign entered the primaries. Exactly why does he need lines of credit?

Ethics watchdogs, federal auditors and congressional committees are conducting nearly a dozen inquiries into Administrator Scott Pruitt’s actions at the Environmental Protection Agency. The latest has Pruitt taking a trip with a known lobbyist to Morocco. Pruitt maintained that the state purpose of the Morocco trip was to discuss a free-trade agreement, and that American liquefied natural gas exports were brought up by ambassador of Morocco. Democrats argue that the “issue [free trade] that does not fall within the jurisdiction of the EPA.”

Pruitt paid himself nearly $65,000 in reimbursements from his two campaigns for Oklahoma attorney general. This goes against two campaign finance rules: transparency about how campaign funds are spent and ensuring campaign funds are not used for personal purchases.

According to Trump’s former physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, Trump himself wrote his own hyperbolic prose. The language he used was eerily similar to the style preferred by Trump in the 2015 letter. An example is “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.”

Trump called for Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester to resign over his opposition to White House physician Ronny Jackson’s nomination for secretary of veterans affairs, saying some of the allegations against Jackson “are proving false.” Tester had raised concerns about allegations against Jackson, including that he loosely handled prescription pain medications, was intoxicated during an overseas trip, and created a toxic work environment. Good luck there Donnie.

Meanwhile, reports say Jackson will not return to his role as Trump’s personal physician.

Vice President Mike Pence’s physician privately raised alarms within the White House last fall that Jackson may have violated federal privacy protections for a key patient — Pence’s wife, Karen — and intimidated the vice president’s doctor during angry confrontations over the episode. Memos from Pence’s doctor suggested White House chief of staff John Kelly was aware of the episode.

Jackson and the White House have continued to deny allegations of misconduct, and Jackson’s defenders in the White House said that the episode involving Mrs. Pence was simply a dispute between two doctors with a strained relationship and that he had acted appropriately.

Not surprising, Trump spoke at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in Dallas. It will be one right wing love fest. Trump’s fourth year bin a row speaking and even though Pence would also be speaking.

Trump at one point floated raising the age of purchase for certain guns to 21 and proposed expanding background checks, including proposals opposed by the NRA. But after meeting with the NRA’s leaders, including its top lobbyist, he ultimately backed only modest proposals that the gun lobby supports. The NRA spent more than $30 million to help elect Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Among the things Trump said:

  • “Senator John Cornyn, been with me right from the beginning.” Actually Cornyn revealed that Trump wasn’t his first choice for the GOP presidential nomination.
  • “Your Second Amendment rights are under siege, but they will never, ever be under siege as long as I’m your president.” Actually, the Democrats never have said this but Trump likes saying it as if they would pull it.
  • “Kanye West must have some power because you probably saw, I doubled my African-American poll numbers. We went from 11 to 22 in one week.” This was taken by a pollster than is unreliable according to most.
  • “And they voted for me, and we won.” Nope. Trump won 8% of the African-American vote in 2016.
  • “Can you imagine, if we ever called for a rally in Washington, DC? There wouldn’t be enough room.” Just as big as his inauguration.
  • “We are going to have to outlaw, immediately, all vans and all trucks, which are now the new form of death for the maniac terrorists. Right?” In addition to his second amendment foolishness, he is now saying the Democrats will ban vans and truck. Seriously.
  • “President Obama was very nice to us, because he left us a lot of judges.” Actually, McConnell blocked many of Obama’s nominations which left many openings – some are still open.
  • “Ninety-eight percent of mass public shootings have occurred in places where guns are banned, just so you understand.” Coming from a questionable research but includes shootings where people bring in guns to banned areas.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he accepts the decision by the Rev. Pat Conroy, the House chaplain, to rescind his resignation. Some suggested a non-Catholic priest was needed.

You’re out! [Sorry had to add this.] White House lawyer Ty Cobb is leaving his position. Cobb has been discussing his retirement for several weeks and let chief of staff John Kelly know he would be retiring at the end of May. Supposedly Cobb was uncomfortable with Trump’s tweets against Mueller. He was not going to be “part of a mud-slinging campaign.”

Emmet Flood, who represented then-President Bill Clinton during his impeachment process in the late 1990s, is expected to join Trump’s legal team at the White House.

Trump is planning a trip to Britain, his first since taking office. On July 13th. It will not be a state visit.

A group of Trump’s most ardent supporters in the House of Representatives have sent a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, formally nominating the President for a Nobel Peace Prize. [You can stop laughing now.]

There are already extreme 6 Republicans trying to win the nomination for the party. These 6 have [among other things] one or more of felonies, anti-LGBTQ, white supremacist, anti-black, Holocaust denier, neo-Nazi, conspiracy theorist, anti-immigrant and anti-Latino.

 

What has been killed in Windows 10 v1803

[Also known as Redstone 4 or April 2018 Update.]

With every new feature update to Windows 10 comes depreciated and removed features. Some few used or care but there is always a surprise as well. Among those that are depreciated or removed are:

Deprecated

  • Windows Help Viewer: Not a surprise but interesting since for the last few versions prior to Windows 10, Microsoft made available an update to use it and in Windows 10, it was included. If you search a bit, there are various was around this.
  • Phone Companion: This has been replaced by the Phone page in Settings.

Removed

  • HomeGroup: This is probably the surprise since it was [when working correctly] the easiest way for computers on a small network could communicate without the mess of setting things up. Great for novices. To share files, folders and printers, you will have to go back to the old ways which is still around.
  • Groove Music Pass: Groove Music Pass has been discontinued. Instead Spotify has been promoted.
  • XPS Viewer: This was Microsoft’s failed attempt to compete with Adobe’s PDF beginning with Windows Vista. Over time, Microsoft had even released documents in PDF format. It isn’t installed by default If you really desperately need it, is still unfortunately  available from the Apps and Features in the Control Panel.

 

More dumb comments from Trump at his rally

Donald Trump, at his Michigan “rally” [instead of the White House Correspondence Dinner], is still boasting [536 days later] that he won the election. Among his other comments:

  • “Cars are coming back to Michigan.” Actually employment numbers have dropped. So have cars manufactured.
  • “Chrysler is moving back to Michigan from Mexico.” According to whom? Their head office must of been scrambling to figure out who made that decision only to find out it was another lie.
  • “The Democrats don’t care about our military. They don’t. They don’t care about our borders or crime.” Democrats don’t care about the military or the border or crime? Really?
  • “We are getting rid of Obamacare. Some people would say that we have essentially gotten rid of it.” Who? It’s still mostly there.
  • “The open border policies of the Democratic Party are not just wrong, they’re dangerous, and they’re in fact deadly. They’re deadly.” I don’t think the Democrats have “open border policies” [I will assume that anyone can try to cross] and exactly how are they deadly if they were?
  • “Be careful of your 2nd Amendment. OK, be careful. Be careful of your 2nd Amendment if they get in.” Trump regularly floats this idea that Democrats, if they gain control of Congress, will work to abolish the 2nd Amendment.
  • “There were 32,000 people. I finished speaking at 1:00 in the morning on Election Day. Thirty-two thousand people.” A Grand Rapids on the night before/early morning of Election Day where 4,200 showed up – not 32,000.
  • “They were saying, ‘What you think President Trump had to do with it?’ I will do you what. How about, everything — I will tell you what. How about, everything?” He’s taking full credit for the talks between North Korea and South Korea over the past week.
  • “And the laws are so corrupt, they are so corrupt” 15 months in office and he hasn’t fixed it.
  • “You remember Jon Lovitz? A liar. Comey’s worse. He is a liar and a leaker.” What did Lovitz do?
  • “I was supposed to cut the ribbon,” for the new US embassy in London. He then blamed the embassy deal on the Obama and Bush administrations. It was actually decided by the Bush administration because the building was harder to secure and the US didn’t own it.
  • “We are higher now than we were on Election Day. We are higher now.” Is that in polls? {Nope.] Or maybe from the drug? [Maybe.]
  • “Nobody in the first year of office has done what we have done.” And how do you measure this “done”?
  • “We are at the top of the charts. And they are talking about it all over the world.” Charts? A pop group?
  • “When the President of France came in to see me, President Macron, wonderful guy. We like to shake each other’s hand.” Most leaders of countries usually do.

 

Fired or resigned? In this WH, nobody knows

Former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin has repeatedly insisted that the White House fired him from his job at the department. The White House says Shulkin resigned. If he resigned, the White House should have his resignation letter.

When Donald Trump announced on Twitter last week that Shulkin would depart the agency and that a Defense Department official, Robert Wilkie, would serve as acting secretary, he side-stepped Shulkin’s deputy, Thomas Bowman, who was next in the line of succession. Given the lengthy process for Senate confirmation, Wilkie could serve in an interim capacity for months should Wilkes want the job permanently.

Trump nominated White House physician Ronny Jackson to become the VA’s next secretary, but lawmakers and veterans’ groups have raised questions about whether or not he has the right experience to lead the government’s second largest bureaucracy. [Will the chief janitor at the White House be the next secretary in charge of infrastructure?] There are allegations about nominee Jackson’s questionable behavior including excessive drinking [even on the job], overprescribing drugs and a “toxic” work environment under his leadership. Hearings into Jackson’s appointment has been delayed because of the allegations.

Jackson drunkenly banged on a woman’s hotel door on an overseas trip and was known as “the candy man” inside the White House, according to a senator.

White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders defended Jackson’s experience calling him a “very highly qualified, highly respected person in the military and the medical community.” Sanders suggested that Jackson’s current position as the White House physician meant that he had been more thoroughly vetted than other Cabinet nominees.

But in the end, Jackson withdrew his nomination. Jackson slammed allegations of improper behavior leveled against him as “completely false and fabricated.”

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee have voted against Mike Pompeo to be the next secretary of state which would lead the committee to report out his nomination without a favorable recommendation. Pompeo may still have enough votes to barely get approved for the position as one Democrat had agreed to vote in his favor.

Trump tweeted “Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people, including the Ambassador to Germany. They are maxing out the time on approval process for all, never happened before.” Hello. There is something called democracy. What Trump is saying is vote for someone who may or may not be appropriate for the job.

Remember the individual who as seeking some legal job in the government and yet never tried a case or knew some basic terminology?

Trump’s pick to replace Pompeo leading the CIA, Gina Haspel, isn’t scheduled to have her confirmation hearing until May 9, but late last week the agency declassified an internal memo that absolves Haspel of responsibility for destroying videotapes showing the waterboarding of terrorism suspects in 2005, an issue that’s been a key sticking point for senators weighing her confirmation.

In the end, the Senate approved Pompeo’s nomination as the next secretary of state on Thursday, installing the former CIA Director as the nation’s top diplomat at a time when several high stakes negotiations are underway around the globe. With a 57-42 vote, Trump can’t whine about the lack of Democrats approving. Just days before Trump tweeted [of course] “Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people….”

Trump twice gave James Comey an alibi for why a salacious report about the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow couldn’t be true: He never even spent the night in Russia during that trip, Trump told the former FBI director, according to Comey’s memos about the conversations. Trump said the Moscow trip was so quick that his head never hit a pillow — even for one night.

Trump flew to Moscow on a Bombardier Global 5000 private jet owned by Phil Ruffin, his partner in the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Las Vegas in the morning of November 8, 2014 and landed at Vnukovo airport early morning. He attended a birthday part of Miss Universe pageant’s host and developer Aras Agalarov followed by the pageant and after-party. Trump even tweeted “I just got back from Russia-learned lots & lots. Moscow is a very interesting and amazing place!”

Trump acknowledged for the first time that his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is representing him with regards to legal matters involving Stormy Daniels, the porn star who says she had an affair with Trump. The revelation came after Cohen asserted his Fifth Amendment rights in the matter. Cohen filed court papers indicating he would assert his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination in the Daniels case. The case has been put on hold for 90 days.

Trump distanced himself from his personal attorney, whom Trump said has overseen “a tiny, tiny little fraction” of his legal work. If so, the President may have inadvertently boosted the arguments of prosecutors who have said that communications between the two men shouldn’t be considered confidential under attorney-client privilege provisions.

Prosecutors have argued in federal court that because Cohen has few clients and has done little legal work, there wouldn’t be a lot of privileged information in documents seized by the FBI earlier this month.

Trump insists he “won’t be involved” in any attempt to interfere with the investigation into Russian election meddling but “I may change my mind at some point, because what’s going on is a disgrace.”

Trump is increasingly relying on his personal cell phone to contact outside advisers as Trump returns to the free-wheeling mode of operation that characterized the earliest days of his administration. Part of chief of staff John Kelly’s job was to restrict who Trump contacts and who contacts him. Now by using his cell phone, he is bypassing Kelly. Maybe even to push Kelly out or at least Trump doesn’t want Kelly to know who he’s talking to.

Trump said North Korean dictator “Kim Jong Un, he really has been very open and I think very honourable from everything we’re seeing.” The same man he berated by calling him “Little Rocket Man”. Honorable? Him and his father have consistently broke deals that were approved by all parties. Trump has threatened to deliver “fire and fury” upon North Korea and taunted Kim Jung Un on Twitter that his nuclear “button” was larger than the one in Pyongyang.

Sanders said that the US goal was the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea would probably accept not developing any new nuclear weapons but not accept losing the weapons they currently have.

Republicans won the special election in Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, but once again Democrats have over performed in a deep red district, in another sign the national environment is in the their favor. Republican Debbie Lesko won over Democrat Hiral Tipirneni by about a 5-point margin. But in 2016, Trump won by a 21 point margin.

Trump tweeted “Congratulations to Republican Debbie Lesko on her big win in the Special Election for Arizona House seat. Debbie will do a Great Job! Press is so silent.” Press wasn’t silent – more like Lesko was expected to win in a safe seat. Was only a big win because she could of easily lost if there was a scandal [like Roy Moore] but she was clean.

Trump tweeted ” Arizona, please get out today and vote @DebbieLesko for Congress in #AZ08. Strong on Border, Immigration and Crime. Great on the Military….” That sounds like what he wants, not what she is running for. Surprised no Trump Wall mentioned or it would be obvious it was what he wants.

Is Trump plagiarizing himself? In another tweet, he said “@MarshaBlackburn is a wonderful woman who has always been there when we have needed her. Great on the Military, Border Security and Crime.” Look at the previous tweet quote.

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration must resume DACA, a program that has shielded hundreds of thousands of young immigrants from deportation. It would also require the administration to accept requests from first-time applicants for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

After Kanye West launched an ongoing series of tweets about his admiration of Donald Trump calling him “my brother”, he sort of retracted by saying “I don’t agree with everything Trump does.” However, he did get his hat signed. Trump then tweeted “Kanye West has performed a great service to the Black Community.” Like what service?

Trump tweeted “The U.S. has put together a STRONG bid w/ Canada & Mexico for the 2026 World Cup. It would be a shame if countries that we always support were to lobby against the U.S. bid. Why should we be supporting these countries when they don’t support us (including at the United Nations)?” Maybe either because of your comments or the fact that sporting events and politics shouldn’t mix or maybe because soccer [football] is bigger elsewhere.

Trump tweeted “Kim Strassel of the WSJ just said, after reviewing the dumb Comey Memos, ‘you got to ask, what was the purpose of the Special Counsel? There’s no there there.’ Dan Henninger of the WSJ said Memos would show that this would be one of the weakest obstruction cases ever brought!” Are they [practicing] lawyers? Probably just Trump loving reporters.

Trump admitted on Fox News that he’s been too busy to get a birthday gift for his wife, first lady Melania Trump, who turned 48 years old this week. Trump added that he did get the first lady “a beautiful card and some beautiful flowers.” [Of course actually bought by someone else. Did he actually pay?]

Trump tweeted “I would rather deal just with France. The [European] Union is very tough for us. They have trade barriers that are unacceptable.” Is there anything acceptable to him?

As part of the fallout from Trump’s tariff increases on steel and aluminum, prices for everything from razor blades to pop/soda will be increasing up to 30% this year.

A former Cambridge Analytica director claims that during the 2016 election campaign, the company had exclusive access to user data from breitbart.com – former chief of staff Stephen Bannon’s web site.

The Washington Post reported that only two companies still sell Trump-branded products, down from 19 listed by Trump in 2015. A Trump cologne, one of his few remaining items, costs $9.99 an ounce, marked down from $42.

Canadian singer Shania Twain “apologize to anybody I have offended in a recent interview with the Guardian” where she said she would of voted for Trump if she was an American.

“I can die happy now with Trump Job performance,” stated Mary Matalin and tweeted by Trump. “A great overall President, stunning!” Of course she works with the Republican Party. If he was doing so well, wouldn’t these comments be more often?