Trump on tour (part 2)

And what a tour it was. This past week was probably the biggest [and craziest] week in this administration.

Trump defiantly defended his meeting with dictator Vladimir Poutine, saying his encounter with the Russian leader went “even better” than his summit with NATO leaders last week. Was he in the same country as Poutine?

Trump tweeted “While I had a great meeting with NATO, raising vast amounts of money, I had an even better meeting with Vladimir Putin of Russia. Sadly, it is not being reported that way – the Fake News is going Crazy!” What money raising? Kickbacks? Russia paying the US?

Trump also tweeted ” I had a great meeting with NATO. They have paid $33 Billion more and will pay hundreds of Billions of Dollars more in the future, only because of me. NATO was weak, but now it is strong again (bad for Russia). The media only says I was rude to leaders, never mentions the money!” Except the other NATO leaders did not agree to “paying” anything or even increasing their military spending budget.

While NATO’s European members and Canada have added an additional $41 billion in defense spending since Trump took office, many NATO members began increasing their defense spending prior to his taking office since it was agreed in 2014 [when President Obama was in charge] to increase spending.

House Speaker Paul Ryan contradicted several comments Trump made during his Helsinki news conference including saying that “There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, giving his support to the US intelligence community and saying “I’ve said a number of times and I say it again, the Russians are not our friends.”

Sen. John McCain said Trump’s comments were “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker said the President “made us look like a pushover” and that Putin was probably eating caviar on the plane home.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake said “I never thought I would see the day when our American President would stand on the stage with the Russian President and place blame on the United States for Russian aggression. This is shameful.”

Newt Gingrich, a Trump supporter, “Trump must clarify his statements in Helsinki on our intelligence system and Putin.” I don’t think you can clarify. Whatever has been said won’t change.

Other Republicans criticized Trump. Those who are Trump allies didn’t go after him directly but used a more neutral-ish phrases like “missed opportunity”. Obviously the Democrats pounced on this major blunder.

One Senator who is siding with Trump is Rand Paul. His career in politics could be over after his next election.

Trump tried to fix the mess but you can’t fix the damage that has been done even by saying “As I said today and many times before, ‘I have GREAT confidence in MY intelligence people.'” This after many times how he said he had little confidence in them and the Department of Justice.

A day after that infamous news conference, Trump attempted to clean up the controversy when he said he had misspoken during the news conference and affirmed that he has “full faith and support for America’s intelligence agencies.” But judging from his previous comments about them over the last 18 months, no one really believes him. He’s digging a bigger hole.

“I accept our intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election took place,” Trump said during a meeting with congressional members at the White House, before couching his comments with: “Could be other people also; there’s a lot of people out there.” So, he is still unsure if it was the Russians then.

Trump said he doesn’t believe Russia is still targeting the United States, contradicting U.S. intelligence assessments that Moscow is continuing its attempts to meddle in U.S. elections, but “Simpleton” Sanders later said his remark was misunderstood by the press.

Under intense political pressure, Trump went further in laying the blame on Poutine for the cyberespionage assault on the 2016 election than he had before in an interview. When asked if Poutine was responsible Trump replied “I would, because he’s in charge of the country.” Hmmm. “The” country and not “his” country. Is Poutine in charge of the US?

Trump’s hesitation to criticize Poutine will only add to growing questions — that were once whispered in Washington but now are being openly discussed — about whether the Russian government really does have compromising information on Trump.

“So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki,” Trump tweeted. Ummmm. Which intelligence? The community or as in IQ. I don’t think either approved.

Trump’s behavior raises questions about how top intelligence officials can remain in their posts after being so spectacularly thrown under the bus.

At a security forum in Aspen, Colorado, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats was stunned when a woman from NBC interviewing him announced in front of the audience and him that Poutine was invited to Washington for a visit in the fall. Obviously he didn’t know. “Say that again,” Coats said, doing a double take and laughing in disbelief at the absurdity of the latest episode in the Russia saga.

The reaction by Coats will surely make Trump upset as to embarrass him. Doesn’t the administration tell some of the most important people when there is a major visit?

“We can no longer completely rely on the White House,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told a newspaper – not saying the United States but the administration.

Even late night talk show hosts went after Trump including quotes like:

  • Jimmy Kimmel said Trump met with his “KGBFF, Vladimir Putin.”
  • Seth Meyers said “Seriously, Trump gushes over Putin like a flustered 12-year-old who just met Mickey at Disneyland.”
  • When some reporters had criticized Trump’s comments Stephen Colbert said “Those are the worst reviews I’ve seen since Titanic … And I don’t mean the movie.”

Hillary Clinton tweeted “Great World Cup. Question for President Trump as he meets Putin: Do you know which team you play for?” Later on she tweeted “Well, now we know.” During the 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton famously called out Trump, implying that he would be Putin’s “puppet.”

Among the newspapers’ comments from around the world:

  • London’s Daily mirror used the headline “Putin’s Poodle”.
  • A Finnish paper said ” Trump 0 – Putin 1″.
  • Swedish newspaper HBL went with “Putin: Trump is my favorite”.
  • Paris’ Le Monde topped its front page with: “Donald Trump, best of allies with Poutine.”
  • The New York Post went with a headline of “See No Evil” with “Prez gives big Bear hug to wicked BFF Vlad, jabs US intel.”
  • The Wall Street Journal, which is owned by conservative Rupert Murdoch, declared the news conference “a personal and national embarrassment,” asserting that Trump had “projected weakness.”

Russia announced it was ready to pursue agreements reached by Poutine and Trump “in the sphere of international security,” though the White House and Pentagon would not confirm any agreements had been made or offer any details. Trump and Putin met for about two hours during their summit in Helsinki with only translators present. It is still not clear what the two men discussed or agreed to during their meeting.

When asked what he and Poutine discussed in their meeting, Trump said Syria, Israel, North Korea and Iran. Nothing about any military agreements. Then, later, Trump claimed that “I let him know we can’t have this. We’re not going to have it. And that’s the way it’s going to be.” Problem is that the meeting was private [except for the translator]. So there is no way of knowing if he said this or anything else.

After 12 Russians government hackers were indicted, Trump continues to say that he believes Poutine over his own Department of Justice. Isn’t that almost treason? Not surprisingly the Russian government laughed at the indictments, but of note, they used very similar phrases that Trump has used in supporting Russia.

When asked in an ABC interview whether he would ask Poutine for the 12 indicted to be sent to the US, Trump said “I haven’t thought of that.” Seriously?

Trump tweeted “These Russian individuals did their work during the Obama years. Why didn’t Obama do something about it?  Because he thought Crooked Hillary Clinton would win, that’s why. Had nothing to do with the Trump Administration, but Fake News doesn’t want to report the truth, as usual!” Let’s see. President Obama’s term was winding down and the hacking wasn’t known yet. That first line sounds almost like an admission that the hacking happened by Russia.

The White House said it was entertaining a proposal raised by Poutine to interrogate 11 Americans in exchange for assistance in the ongoing US investigation into election interference, putting the White House at odds with the State Department.

The Americans wanted for questioning by Moscow include Michael McFaul, the former US ambassador to Russia, and American-born British citizen financier Bill Browder, who successfully lobbied the US government to impose new sanctions on Moscow. Russia claimed Browder never paid any taxes in Russia or the US. So throwing Americans under the bus to help Russia.

Then later, the administration finally rejected the Russian proposal.

Not surprising, the White House had rejected calls to cancel the summit after 12 Russian military intelligence officers were charged with hacking into Democrats’ computer networks and emails during the 2016 presidential race. [Why would they – it was the Democrats who were hacked and Trump doesn’t believe it was the Russians anyways.]

Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders, parrot [and sometimes White House press secretary], claims all along that the administration believed Russian hacked the 2016 elections. [Please stop laughing. OK?] She also blamed previous administrations for doing nothing. But, there was no clear indication that there was any hacking [by Russia] prior to the 2016 election.

Ahead of his “meeting” with Poutine, Trump said “We have 90% of the nuclear – and that’s not a good thing, it’s a bad thing.” Hmmm. By one interpretation, Trump would rather have many countries with nuclear weapons then.

Trump declined to endorse the US intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the election, saying Putin was “extremely strong and powerful” in his denial. Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it agrees with Trump’s comment that relations between the two countries have never been worse as a result of “US foolishness” and the “witch hunt.”

Not surprising, two Republican senators that aren’t fans of Trump, Senators Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake weren’t happy with Trump siding with the Russians against Americans – aside from the Democrats. Former CIA Director John Brennan just tweeted a strongly worded reaction to Trump’s news conference, saying it “was nothing short of treasonous.”

Time and time again over his nearly 18 months in office, Trump has resisted saying anything bad about Poutine. His critics say that’s particularly odd given that Russia conducted a broad and deep attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election – which Trump has denied. In fact, Trump has praised Poutine 11 times – so far.

A video released by the Russian government touting his country’s potential future weaponry and its supposed ability to strike Florida filled Trump with rage.

Poutine says the “so-called Russian interference” in the US 2016 presidential election was brought up by Trump during their summit in Helsinki. Hmmmm. Doesn’t that sound staged?

Three reasons why Trump wanted a private [as it turns out] 90 minute meeting with Poutine:

  • Trump requested alone time to better personally assess Poutine and develop a leader-to-leader relationship.
  • Trump has previously expressed anger at leaks coming from his meetings with foreign leaders and told aides he doesn’t want sensitive information leaking from his meeting with Poutine.
  • Trump doesn’t want aides, who may take a harder line on Russia, undercutting or interrupting him in his conversation with Poutine.

You know the summit between Trump and Poutine could be interesting when the temperature in Helsinki hit 30 degrees Celsius (That’s 86 degrees Fahrenheit). Helsinki averages around one 30°C day every decade, according to the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

Trump’s Helsinki press conference with Poutine, and his endorsement of Poutine over his own intelligence services, has fed outrage and concern about Trump’s motivations, as well as what transpired during the closed-door session. Those concerns are now yielding calls in Congress for Trump’s translator to appear before lawmakers.

Trump went after just about every former heads of all the intelligence agencies, blaming them for allowing the hack, etc.

Trump claims that those politicians who are against him are being pushed by the [fake] media to do so.

Veteran journalist Carl Bernstein, who was one of the two reporters who broke the Watergate scandal which eventually led to the downfall of President Nixon, says that the US has never seen Democrats and Republicans so openly question “the loyalty of the President” to the country. He said even with Nixon, the country didn’t see this behavior.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson said that other countries, such as Mexico, have been more successful in doing so. He says that Mexico “is routinely interfering in our elections by packing our electorate.” Of course he has no real proof.

Trump doesn’t seem to care about the Royal protocols but most likely he didn’t read up on protocols – like he generally doesn’t read anything prior to any meeting:

  • He walked in front of the Queen when reviewing the honor guard.
  • He had her wait 10 minutes [he arrived late]. Protocol is to show up early when meeting the Queen.
  • He told the London paper, The Daily Mail, about what she supposedly said about Brexit to him in private.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has revealed the suggestion Trump gave her last week that he claimed she found “too brutal.” “He told me to sue the EU,” May told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. “Not go into negotiations, sue them.”

As if Trump doesn’t have enough, Trump has wrongly claimed that Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II reviewed her honor guard for the first time in 70 years during his visit to the United Kingdom last week. The Queen — who has been on the throne for 66 years, not 70 — regularly reviews a guard of honor from the Household Division.

In April last year it was widely reported that Trump requested a ride down to London’s Buckingham Palace in one of the Queen’s gold-plated carriages. The US Embassy and the British security services talked him out of that one — anticipating the fierce protests.

Noticed that none of the royal family other than The Queen met Trump. None seem to like him. Prince Harry’s new wife, American Meghan Markle, called Trump “misogynistic and divisive.” When President Obama came to London 2 years earlier, all the [top] royals came to meet Obama including Prince George.

Trump tweeted “So funny! I just checked out Fake News CNN, for the first time in a long time (they are dying in the ratings), to see if they covered my takedown yesterday of Jim Acosta (actually a nice guy). They didn’t!” Not true. It was on CNN’s front page of their web site as well as internationally. This was when Trump refused to take the reporter’s question which the next one went to Fox News.

Then the White House canceled national security adviser John Bolton’s appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union” after Trump’s tense exchange with Acosta at the press conference.

Trump named the European Union, Russia and China as foes to the United States during an interview at his golf club in Scotland. “I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.” He says this cowardly after leaving London and the NATO meetings.

Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, secretly made a recording of his conversation between himself and Trump discussing payments to former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, who has alleged an affair with Trump. The recording — which was made shortly before the presidential election — was seized during an FBI raid on Cohen’s office in April. This contradicts Trump’s claim that he didn’t know her.

In August 2016, McDougal signed an agreement with American Media Inc., which owns The National Enquirer, Us Weekly, Men’s Journal and several other publications. She believed at the time the contract was a work agreement that would allow her to be photographed for and write pieces that would run in the companies’ publications.

McDougal later realized she could face a financial penalty for speaking to the media about her story. AMI never released anything of hers which effectively kept her quiet about talking about the affair.

In April, she reached a settlement with AMI that allows her to discuss the alleged affair. The publisher of AMI is a good friend of Trump. Did Trump ask AMI to pay on his behalf? Trump could now be investigated for using campaign money [if that’s where it came from] for other reasons.

New York is a “one-party” consent state, meaning that as long as one participant in the conversation gives permission to record, it is legal. There has been some hints that Cohen could be willing to seek a cooperation agreement with the US attorney’s office.

“Inconceivable that the government would break into a lawyer’s office (early in the morning) – almost unheard of,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “Even more inconceivable that a lawyer would tape a client – totally unheard of & perhaps illegal. The good news is that your favorite President did nothing wrong!” Of course did he comment about the “break” in from April? Probably not. And it wasn’t a “break in” but warrants were issued. He never heard of a lawyer taping conversations? And I think he did something wrong.

Trump has waived privilege on the recording. The recording had been deemed privileged by a former federal judge, known as a special master, adding that Trump’s lawyers asked the special master to withdraw the privilege. This gives the government access to the recording as part of the US attorney for the Southern District of New York investigation into Cohen. That part is a bit surprising.

Even with all that has happened in the past month [Scott Pruitt’s “resignation”, NATO, Helsinki, Supreme Court nomination], there has only been 4 White House press briefings.

Why did it take so long? It took a good part of a week before it was announced that a 42-year old United States Secret Service agent [protecting national security adviser John Bolton] died after suffering a stroke while supporting Trump’s trip to Scotland over the weekend. As of this time, no acknowledgement or even a condolence tweet from Bolton [or Trump].

Advertisements

April 2018 update of Windows 10 butchered my system

There was some talk that when this [v1803] feature update first came out, there was drivers issues. Seems it wasn’t fixed.

I upgraded last Saturday night. Seems fine. Upgrade was maybe 35 minutes. No complaints about incompatible updates.

Was fine for the past few days. Didn’t really notice much.

Then I noticed the lock screen was some horrible background – not the one I previously used. Couldn’t change it back. Searched for fixes and none worked.

Tonight I wanted to capture the audio off my cell phone to my computer but my audio features on my computer wouldn’t work. Audio capture application would crash after hitting 20% of the CPU. OK. Tried the web cam and it wouldn’t function. And yet, the Device Manager showed no issues. Even my point and shoot camera wasn’t picked up.

So I did a recovery back to v1709. Suddenly everything is reverse. My lock screen is back, the audio works and my web cam works.

I have the Pro edition of Windows 10, so I can stop v1803 from installing again and delay v1809 [when out this fall] if I need to.

So be warned.

Could this happen in November?

I can see this happening after the mid-term elections: After devastating loses, Vice-President Mike Pence groups his henchmen and backers and say enough is enough. He now has a good excuse now to drop Donald Trump. He let Trump be in office long enough and will finally side with the Democrats to toss Trump out by either impeachment, maybe even treason or maybe something even more serious.

How else would politicians such as Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell stick with Trump after Trump went after them during and after the primaries? Just look at the comments Trump made at Ted Cruz’s father? And yet Cruz is still backing Trump – for now.

All this so that Pence could have 2 full years and he hopes for 8 additional years as the new dictator/president of the US.

Pence knew with Trump’s instability he could get into the Oval Office faster than an election after primaries. Also it’s cheaper. He’s not paying loads of cash if he was running an election. [He wasn’t doing well in the cash department before he became Vice-President.]

Aside from a Vice-President salary, you get to live in a place paid by the government. You don’t have to worry about food, electricity, cable, security, Internet, … And the added bonus of kickbacks!

Trump on tour (part 1)

Donald Trump capped off his tumultuous two-day visit at NATO headquarters by boldly declaring that all NATO members agreed to increase their defense spending after he told them he was “extremely unhappy.” Trump came up empty when pressed to detail the new financial commitments he had secured, offering only that member countries “agreed to pay more and they agreed to pay it more quickly” and pointing to spending increases over the last year.

Trump claimed that all countries said that all the countries have agreed to reach 2% before the 2024 deadline. Of course he is giving himself credit for this. Problem is that the other countries did not agree on reaching the target before 2024. He called himself in a hasty called news conference “stable genius”.

French President Emmanuel Macron said “There was a communiqué released yesterday it was very detailed and I invite you to read it … It shows the measures approved by all the member states. This communiqué is clear, it reaffirms a commitment to 2% in 2024. That is all.” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said spending will go up slowly over the next few years to reach at or near 2% GDP by the deadline.

Meanwhile Trump said that “everybody in that (NATO) room got along”. And yet Germany’s Angela Merkel wasn’t happy with Trump’s comments about her country and others when Trump called them “delinquents” for not paying their share.

Trump said he believes he “probably” could withdraw from the NATO alliance without congressional approval – but said that was “unnecessary.” Seems Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Does he ever read the legal information before he opens his mouth.

So another hussy fit from Trump? Threatening to leave NATO. One reason why NATO was created was to counter any aggression from the Soviet Union. Little has changed as it’s now Russia and Russia grabbed Crimea in 2014. Experts believe that without NATO, smaller Baltic countries are at risk for an invasion from Russia.

Trump has previously said that Russia grabbing Crimea wasn’t necessarily a bad thing as there are plenty of Russians living there. The same can be said about many countries formerly part of the Soviet bloc. The Soviet Union did it on purpose – moving Russians into those countries while occupying them.

Trump previously has told allies that if they don’t meet higher spending targets, they should leave the alliance and go it alone on military matters. Is he the NATO Secretary General? Nope. NATO police? Nope. NATO CFO? Nope.

“Frankly, many countries owe us a tremendous amount of money for many years back, where they’re delinquent, as far as I’m concerned, because the United States has had to pay for them.” Paying what? NATO requires that a percentage of the countries’ GDP be used for the military – not to pay NATO [unlike the UN]. Maybe he should cut back on his military spending [and the $7 per screw] and maybe help his citizens.

Trump released a letter he recently received from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and praised the “great progress” being made in talks with Pyongyang. Trump also touted his meeting with the Kim Jong Un while at NATO, calling it “an amazing meeting” and saying the two “established very good relations.” And yet….

North Korean officials did not show up to a planned meeting with US officials at the demilitarized zone, where they were expected to continue discussions on repatriating the remains of Americans killed during the Korean War. Trump has touted the return of remains as one of the successes of his historic June 12 summit with Kim Jun Un in Singapore.

In England, Trump has already caused problems by claiming that UK Prime Minister Theresa May has “wrecked” the country’s exit from the European Union [Brexit] and likely “killed” chances of a free-trade deal with the United States. The audio was recorded and clearly showed him criticizing May even when he told reports that listen to the recording think that he didn’t say it. Forgetting things already?

Then Trump denied that he criticized May, the day after a British tabloid published an interview with him in which he did just that. He dismissed the interview, conducted by a Rupert Murdoch-owned publication [which are right wing leaning], as “fake news” saying it didn’t include his comments praising May. He also questioned her competence.

Trump said his comments came after he “read some reports” that suggested the United Kingdom would not be able to make a free trade deal with the US and said after he did apologized to May.

He also praised one of May’s political rivals, former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who resigned from her government in protest this week – which is against protocol. He said Johnson would make a good Prime Minister and later back peddled by saying May is one.

He does think that the British like him a lot and yet demonstrators showed signs that said “Dump Trump,” “Lock Him Up,” and “There Will Be Hell Toupee.” The largest demonstration in years happened in London happened before Trump visited the Queen. A large giant balloon that flew over Parliament on Friday depicting him as a cell-phone-toting angry baby in a diaper.

Trump acknowledged feeling unwelcome in the city, and blamed that in part on Mayor Sadiq Khan, who gave protesters permission to fly the baby Trump balloon. Trump also blamed recent terrorist attacks there on Khan, who is Muslim. The president claimed Europe is “losing its culture” because of immigration from the Middle East and Africa.

It is also customary for anyone visiting The Queen to show up early. Trump showed up 10 minutes late.

With a news conference on and cameras “rolling” and in front of May, Trump refused to take an interview question from a CNN reporter saying CNN is a fake news network and instead took a question from Fox News.

Trump again blamed President Obama for Russian aggression in Crimea. Trump at times drew laughs from some British reporters, who jeered his criticism of the media and openly laughed at his numerous boasts. Finally, he defended his beliefs that immigration has damaged Europe.

US cable networks began cutting away to cover the Russian indictments. And calls from Congress grew louder for Trump to cancel the meeting in Helsinki with Poutine, whom Trump has previously declined to challenge on 2016 election meddling.

Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh to join the US Supreme Court, setting the stage for a dramatic confirmation battle over a stalwart conservative who could shape the direction of the court for decades to come. He has never expressed outright opposition to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal nationwide, and similarly has no record on gay rights and same-sex marriage, but he will face tough questions from Democrats on both issues.

“If confirmed by the Senate, I will keep an open mind in every case,” Kavanaugh said at the White House. Which will probably mean voting for all right leaning causes. The White House is hoping the Senate moves quickly to confirm Kavanaugh before the midterm elections in November threaten to unfurl the narrow Republican majority in the chamber.

Attention will quickly shift to two moderate GOP senators, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, who are supportive of abortion rights. Trump also hopes to pressure several Democrats into voting to confirm his nominee as three Democrats up for re-election in states Trump won by double digits.

Kavanaugh’s career path led him from doggedly investigating one president to later on arguing for more legal protections for presidents — after working for another one.

Despite Trump’s insistence that he didn’t consider the nominee’s political views, the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation, which provided the president with suggested appointees, did. Kavanaugh’s conservative ideology is compatible with these two interest groups and Trump’s most recent ideological posture.

Trump said that he has not brought up the issue of abortion with Kavanaugh. Sure Donnie. Will anyone believe that comment with your history of lies.

Democrats and a few key Republicans in the Senate have said that they will not support a Supreme Court nominee who does not view the Roe v. Wade decision as a settled issue.

Former Republican Presidential nominee, Rick Santorum, said that Trump “bowed to the elite in Washington” – the same people Trump said he would drain from the swamp.

A reminder that during the election of 2016, Trump had said that picks for any Supreme Court nominee would be a vote to end Roe v. Wade, criminalize abortion, and thus punish women. According to a 2016 survey, nearly seventy percent of Americans believe abortion should remain legal in this country.

A federal grand jury indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking offenses related to the 2016 presidential election, the Justice Department. The grand jury indictment, part of Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe, alleges intelligence officers of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) hacked into the computer networks of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, and attempted to penetrate voting systems across the country.

The indictments could make things difficult for Trump as he meets Russian dictator Vladimir Poutine next week. He had previously said he didn’t want to offend the Russians but he claims he will ask Poutine flat out whether there was any hacking or other illegal activities. You expecting Poutine to say yes? And pigs will fly.

Of course, the chance of the 12 ever being prosecuted is very unlikely as the US has no extradition treaty with Russia. Trump, meanwhile, continues to be criticized for being reluctant to speak publicly about Russian interference into the campaign.

Trump expressed a remarkable opinion. Democrats “want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our Country, like MS-13,” he tweeted, referring to the international gang.

During their trip to Moscow recently, an all-Republican delegation of U.S. lawmakers met with at least two Russian sanctioned Russians. Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama spoke with Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, who has been sanctioned since 2014 for Russia’s “illegitimate and unlawful” activities in Ukraine. The group also heard from Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Konstantin Kosachev, who complained about the latest round of U.S. sanctions against Russian individuals. Kosachev was sanctioned in April over Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election and other “malign activity.”

The Trump administration is preparing another round of tariffs on Chinese goods worth $200 billion, ramping up the US-China trade war. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Tuesday released a list of thousands of additional goods that could face 10% tariffs after a public comment period. It includes fruit and vegetables, handbags, refrigerators, rain jackets and baseball gloves.

The move comes after the United States imposed 25% tariffs on Chinese goods worth $34 billion. Beijing immediately responded with its own tariffs on US goods worth $34 billion.

A one-year-old child who was separated from his father at the southern US border appeared in immigration court. The child is one of several toddlers who have had to appear in court without their parents present. Meanwhile, five pregnant women in immigration detention said they were denied adequate medical care while they were obviously miscarrying. ICE and Customs and Border Protection guards were either unwilling or unable to respond to medical emergencies.

The goal of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s latest trip to Pyongyang was to negotiate the details of the nuclear agreement Trump signed along with Kim. North Korea criticized Pompeo’s “gangster-like” demands in negotiations and said the “attitude” of the US was “regrettable”, while Pompeo signaled “progress” in the talks between the two nations.

Trump confirmed that he plans to give a copy of the Elton John hit song “Rocket Man” to the dictator of North Korea. Wonder if it would be just the song [maybe illegally ripped?] or a legitimate copy of Honky Château [from where the song first originated].

Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is working with foreign clients as he continues to advise President Donald Trump on the Russia investigation, which raises conflict of interest and federal ethics issues. Giuliani told The Washington Post in interviews that he maintains clients in Ukraine, Brazil and Colombia. [Is this guy an actual lawyer? Seems to know little about law.] Giuliani has not registered with the Department of Justice for his work, arguing that it’s not necessary because Trump isn’t paying him for his counsel and he does not directly lobby the US government. White House officials told the Post they cannot be sure of Giuliani’s claim that he never discusses his clients with Trump.

Trump tweeted “The U.S. is working very closely with the Government of Thailand to help get all of the children out of the cave and to safety. Very brave and talented people!” And no comments from him about the supposedly other 900+ people involved.

A federal judge in California flatly rejected the Justice Department’s attempt to modify a decades-old settlement agreement that limits the length of time and conditions under which US officials may detain immigrant children.

Trump’s former personal driver of more than 20 years has filed a lawsuit against the Trump Organization alleging that he was forced to work “thousands of hours” of overtime without fair compensation. The driver, Noel Cintron, claims in the lawsuit that he worked an average of between 50 and 55 hours a week for Trump without fair compensation. He is asking for more than $200,000 in unpaid overtime wages over the past six years. Noel Cintron received two raises in 15 years, but had to give up his Trump Organization health insurance in order to get a $7,000 pay increase.

Trump tweeted “Public opinion has turned strongly against the Rigged Witch Hunt and the “Special” Counsel….” I’d like to see that poll Donnie!

According to a Washington Post poll, 65% of women said they disapproved of Trump’s job as president, while 32% said they approved. 54% of men say they approved of Trump, while only 45% said they disapproved.

Trump tweeted “The Rigged Witch Hunt, originally headed by FBI lover boy Peter S (for one year) & now, 13 Angry Democrats, should look into the missing DNC Server, Crooked Hillary’s illegally deleted Emails, the Pakistani Fraudster, Uranium One, Podesta & so much more. It’s a Democrat Con Job!” [I’m wondering if he writes on a calendar when he should make the same comments over and over again.]

The Hudson’s Bay store chain in Canada has stopped selling anything from Ivanka Trump’s products due to poor sales online and phase the merchandise out during the fall. The chain didn’t say if any of the boycotts were the reason. However Shoes.com, Zulily, and Nordstrom stopped selling her products.

Issues already with this week’s Windows updates

That didn’t take long… Again. [A broken record it seems.]

Microsoft has blocked this week’s Windows OS updates for all supported operating systems – at least for those on a domain – for two issues [one for clients].

“Some devices running network monitoring workloads may receive the 0xD1 Stop error because of a race condition.” This applies to all versions.

“After installing this update on a DHCP Failover Server, Enterprise clients may receive an invalid configuration when requesting a new IP address. This may result in loss of connectivity as systems fail to renew their leases. ” This applies to servers with DHCP Failover Server enabled only.

Microsoft is expected to release an update in “mid-July” to fix the issues.

You can still manually download and install the update.

 

Trump at the NATO meeting – recipe for disaster

When NATO was created, they included Article 5, which states that a country that attacks one of its members is like attacking all 29. In other terms, if a country is attacked, the remaining 28 countries are to assist in fighting back.

So when Donald Trump attacks NATO members, is that against Article 5? 😊

Trump tweeted “By some accounts, the U.S. is paying for 90% of NATO, with many countries nowhere close to their 2% commitment. On top of this the European Union has a Trade Surplus of $151 Million with the U.S., with big Trade Barriers on U.S. goods. NO!” It was decided a long time ago that contributions would be done by GDP. As the US is the largest country by the economy, it is expected for them to pay the most. But judging by the “By some accounts” reference, I’m sure it is nowhere near 90% – experts say maybe 70%. Second, trade surplus has nothing [directly] to do with the GDP.

Trump suggested NATO leaders increase their defense spending to 4% — doubling the 2% target that many NATO countries have yet to meet. Trump said the US, “in actual numbers,” is spending 4.2% of its GDP on defense. However, according to numbers just released by NATO, the US is expected to spend an estimated 3.5% of the GDP on defense in 2018.

Here is one reason why Trump wants NATO countries to spend more money on their military: Name the country that exports over a third of the military hardware last year?

[Hint: A narcissist is the “leader” of the country.]

Trump tweeted “Why are their only 5 out of 29 countries that have met their commitment? The U.S. is paying for Europe’s protection, then loses billions on Trade. Must pay 2% of GDP IMMEDIATELY, not by 2025.” [Note he tweeted “Their” and not “there”.] Ah the master of tweeting nonsense and then adding barely related nonsense.

Increasing spending would benefit the US economy as it is one of the largest military exports and of course NATO members wouldn’t be buying from China or Russia.

“I have NATO. I have the UK, which is in somewhat turmoil. And I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all,” Trump said at the White House. Not surprising since he has alienated NATO and the UK [let alone the political mess the UK is at now]. That and some think that Vladimir Poutine pulls his strings.

Trump came out brawling in his first public comments ahead of NATO’s annual summit, accusing Germany of being “a captive of Russia” and all-but ordering members of the alliance to increase their defense spending “immediately.” This is because Germany gets 37% of its natural gas from Russia. But other NATO countries require more – in particular the countries closest to Russia.

Later Trump said that Russia would soon control Germany and the amount of natural gas Germany would use would only increase.

The Senate vote 97-2 to support a motion of support for NATO, this after some of the US’s closest allies have come to question the US commitment to collective self-defense. Two GOP senators, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, voted against the measure. Paul tends to vote sometimes against Trump – so siding with him is odd.

“Dear America, appreciate your allies,” European Council President Donald Tusk said. “After all you don’t have that many. Money is important but generating solidarity is more important.”

Among NATO defense officials, there were quiet questions about how long US Defense Secretary James Mattis — a former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and strong believer in alliances — could stay on in Trump’s administration.

[Vladimir Poutine must be laughing in his army boots.]

Trump thinks NK deal still alive, meanwhile Pruitt departs

Donald Trump tweets that “All of Asia is thrilled” that North Korea has halted missile testing and only the “Opposition Party” Democrats, including the “Fake News” is complaining. Halt testing missiles but judging by the recent satellite photos, they are still doing work on them. How does the media doctor photos from his own administration and display them?

Trump also claims “If not for me, we would now be at War with North Korea!” Let’s see. If anything the US and North Korea were closer to war than probably any of the past few administrations. Did North Korea fire missiles towards Japan or elsewhere prior to this administration? Or fire missiles that often?

Experts say there is no proof North Korea’s halt of nuclear and missile tests means the North will take concrete steps to give up such weapons. They also say the U.S. has an unrealistic approach to North Korea’s denuclearization.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned [or maybe he was fired] amid ethics investigations of outsized security spending, first-class flights and a sweetheart condo lease.

Pruitt, at one point, directly appealed to Trump this spring to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and let him run the Department of Justice instead. In an Oval Office conversation with Trump, Pruitt offered to temporarily replace Sessions for 210 days under the Vacancies Reform Act, telling Trump he would return to Oklahoma afterward to run for office.

Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal industry executive, will assume the acting administrator position. Poor guy. He was a lobbyist and a lawyer.

The federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 gives the President the authority to temporarily fill a vacancy at a federal agency if the official “dies, resigns, or is otherwise unable to perform the functions and duties of the office.” Obviously Sessions didn’t die or resign and is able to do his functions and duties. So good luck there Scott!

With the way Pruitt has handled his own department [see below] – let alone his own life – I am sure Trump did the right thing [for once] and turned him down. Hopefully after Pruitt left, trump had a good laugh. I know I would of.

Meanwhile, Pruitt and his aides have kept “secret” calendars and schedules to overtly hide controversial meetings or calls with industry representatives and others, according to a former EPA official who is expected to soon testify before Congress. A review of EPA documents found discrepancies between Pruitt’s official calendar and other records.

Everything that was spent by him during his tenure hit over $4 million.

Trump had told Republicans in Congress recently to stop wasting their time on immigration until after November’s elections, but now Trump is insisting that Congress “FIX OUR INSANE IMMIGRATION LAWS NOW!” Then he said “When people, with or without children, enter our Country, they must be told to leave … just as they would if they were standing on your front lawn.”

At a rally, Trump mocked the #MeToo movement as he repeatedly attacked Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren over her heritage by saying “I want to apologize. Pocahontas, I apologize to you. I apologize to you. To you I apologize,” he said. “To the fake Pocahontas, I won’t apologize.” He has called Warren Pocahontas a few times previously. And if she won the Democratic nomination for 2020 he would ask her to take a DNA test to prove she has Native American blood in her. Like a true racist he used the word “Indian” in his further comments.

Not surprise, Trump also defended Republican candidate Rep. Jim Jordan against allegations he overlooked sexual abuse during his time as a wrestling coach at Ohio State University.

Trump continued a long running fight with California Rep. Maxine Waters by saying “… honestly she is somewhere in the mid-60s.”

Trump then attacked, without naming him, Arizona Sen. John McCain for voting against Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act and he mocked President George H.W. Bush’s slogan during his rally.

Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club has applied for permission to hire originally 40 foreign workers to serve as waiters and cooks during the winter social season in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump’s club has asked to hire another 21 who would be cooks from overseas and employ them from October to May.

The postings show that – despite Trump’s insistence that immigration is holding down wages and crowding out native-born American workers – his club believes it cannot find any Americans in South Florida who are qualified to hold two very common restaurant-industry jobs. Mar-a-Lago’s pay for cooks starts at $13.31 per hour, down 3 cents from the year before. The base salary his club is offering to waiters is higher in 2018: It rose from $11.88 per hour last year to $12.68 per hour this year.

Trump appeared to rely on a dubious Fox News report to unleash an attack on his predecessor, accusing President Barack Obama, without any real evidence, of granting citizenship to 2,500 Iranians as part of nuclear deal negotiations. Fox News’ website cited an Iranian news agency that cited an Iranian newspaper that quoted the single Iranian cleric who is also a member of the country’s parliament.

In a whacky bit of news, at a meeting in August 2017 in the Oval Office to discuss sanctions on Venezuela was concluding, Trump turned to his top aides and asked an unsettling question: With a fast unraveling Venezuela threatening regional security, why can’t the US just simply invade the troubled country? The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have since left the administration.

Breaking with their House Republican counterparts, the Senate Intelligence Committee said that the intelligence community properly concluded in January of last year that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to help Donald Trump when Moscow meddled in the 2016 election.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is tapping additional Justice Department resources for help with new legal battles as his year-old investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 election continues to expand. He is making more use of career prosecutors from the offices of U.S. attorneys and from Justice Department headquarters, as well as FBI agents — a sign that he may be laying the groundwork to hand off parts of his investigation eventually.

Mueller and his team of 17 federal prosecutors are coping with a higher-then-expected volume of court challenges that has added complexity in recent months. The special counsel’s charter, issued by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, includes investigating whether Trump or associates colluded with Russia and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”

The White House announced that former Fox News president Bill Shine has been appointed as the White House’s new Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications. Shine was one of Roger Ailes [the former chairman of the Fox News Channel] deputies for years. When Ailes was accused of sexual harassment by numerous women in 2016, Shine was accused of covering up the alleged misdeeds.

Trump is demanding that Norway ramp up its defense spending as a NATO partner, according to a letter he wrote to Prime Minister Erna Solberg. The letter was one of a series that Trump sent to NATO allies, including Germany, Belgium, Canada and others, demanding they boost spending and threatening to shift the US military presence in Europe if they do not.

According to a report, a draft of a bill from the Trump administration would propose having the US abandon key World Trade Organization principles and offer Trump significantly more discretion over US trade policy. The proposal would give Trump the authority, based on the administration’s assessment of trading policies between nations, to renegotiate or apply tariffs as he sees fit to push individual countries on trade.

White House press secretary Sarah “Simpleton” Sanders says that Trump is always seeking “good trade deals”. Imposing tariffs is not the right way of doing this. She, meanwhile, also said that during the G7 summit in Canada that Trump proposed that Canada remove all tariffs and subsidies. Of course he said nothing about removing all of the US tariffs imposed on Canada.

She also said that “the US is very nice to Canada” and that Canada took “advantage” of the US. Sure Sarah.

Trump said the World Trade Organization treated the US “very badly”. Hmmm. If you impose tariffs and other trade issues that are imposed for no real reason, what do you expect when you lose probably every trade dispute. By leaving the WTO he doesn’t have to worry about any court cases.

With a new Mexican President, Trump couldn’t wait to say that he had already talked to Mexico or but the Mexican president mentioned nothing about bilateral trade deal.

Unsure if Trump wants a NAFTA trade deal or not. First he wanted to wait until after the Mexican election this past weekend. Now he says he could wait until after the mid-term election which actually could make sense if he thinks he can get a large majority in the Senate that he has now. Good luck there.

July 1st was Canada’s 151st birthday. So the US Ambassador to Canada, Kelly Craft, decided to have a party in Canada’s honor. But no senior government official will attend. The opposition Conservative Party will have maybe 2 senior party members. Why? Protesting against the US tariffs imposed on Canada. In the end, while previous parties usually had 4,000 [!!!] invitations, this one had about 1,000 and excluded a chunk of Ottawa’s [Canada’s capitol] elite.

Canada through $13 billion US tariffs at the US on July 1st. Like the European Union, the tariffs were aimed at specific states where Trump is more popular. More than 40 US steel products attract tariffs of 25%. A tax of 10% has been levied on over 80 other American items including toffee, maple syrup, coffee beans and strawberry jam.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar now estimates that under 3,000 kids who may have been separated from their parents are in government custody — a figure far higher than his department released just recently. HHS had previously reported that it had 2,047 children from separated families in its care. Approximately 100 children under the age of 5.

Trump told space industry notables that he was directing the Department of Defense to create a Space Force, a sixth branch of the military that sounds straight out of a sci-fi movie. But retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly — a former Navy pilot, combat veteran, four-time space-flyer — doesn’t support it, and some members of Congress are also voicing their distaste for the idea. “This is a dumb idea. The Air Force does this already. That is their job. … What’s next, we move submarines to the 7th branch and call it the ‘under-the-sea force?'”

Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s official Twitter page mocked Trump over misspelling “pore” in a tweet where Trump was bragging about his writing ability.

Write if you can get work like this: Trump’s 27 year old assistant’s salary was $95,000 last year [matching President Obama’s last assistant] and is now at $135,000.

Michael Cohen dropped the reference “personal attorney to President Donald J. Trump” from his Twitter biography recently.

A new Quinnipiac University poll has a striking result: 49% of people said they believe Trump to be a racist while 47% believe he is not.

Trump ordered American flags to be lowered to half-staff for less than a day or to honor of the victims of deadly shooting at an Annapolis, Maryland, newspaper recently. The city’s mayor said the request was initially denied. Trump has repeatedly called journalists the “enemy of the people.”

I guess you can call this good news: The current version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes provisions that place restrictions on the president’s authority to direct generals to launch cyberattacks. NDAA in its current form also requires the president to develop and abide by a cyberwarfare strategy document that describes which activities merit cyber retaliation. It also could limit retaliatory attacks by the military without a certain level of confidence in attribution.