Wasn’t this supposed to be a quiet week? Nope.

You would of figured with the US government on a holiday break that this would have been a quiet week. But nope!

Donald Trump says is battling to reduce regulations but the tax bill adds to it including new tax brackets.

Meanwhile, unlike corporations, the tax cuts will benefit households until 2025. Why would the cuts expire for households and not corporations? Hmmm. Republicans made individual tax cuts temporary so they could meet budget rules that let them pass their tax overhaul with no Democratic votes.

Republicans used a procedural tactic to avoid a filibuster, a maneuver that can only be used once every fiscal year.

In the lawn in front of the White House, Trump proclaimed it a win [definitely for him as it was his only major legislative win in his first year]. Talking to the media, Trump praised the people behind him who helped pass the bill – all Republicans – a sea of mostly older white males, a couple of females and one African-American [who is right near Trump].

Trump has made the rollicking year on Wall Street a centerpiece of his political message, repeatedly taking credit for the bull run, as if he personally steered the Dow Jones industrial average through a year of smashed record highs. We will see what happens if there is a “market correction” or the markets slowly fall. For him, I think he’d be celebrating even if the market was a single point over the amount when President Obama left.

Earlier this month House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a radio interview the House would be working to reform health care entitlements in 2018, calling them “the big drivers of our debt” and Medicare as being the “biggest entitlement that’s got to have reform.” But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he “would not expect to see” the Senate tackle entitlement reform next year.” We will see who’s right.

After reviewing scores of statements made by politicians this year, non-partisan PolitiFact.com, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking media outlet, has declared that the big winner of “Lie of the Year” for 2017 goes to one told by Trump! Trump said on NBC that “This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.”

Trump’s had threatened to cut off US funding to countries that oppose his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has raised the stakes in a UN vote sponsored by Egypt and sparked criticism at his tactics, which could be called bullying or blackmail. “We’ll save a lot. We don’t care,” he said, alluding to US aid. The Us lost the vote [128 countries voted yes] with a bunch abstaining. We will see how many [including Egypt] will lose aid.

US vetoed a resolution supported by the 14 other UN Security Council members that would have required Trump to rescind his declaration on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and not move the US Embassy there.

Many expected Trump, after first taking office at the beginning of 2017, to do some bipartisan legislation – something that both sides could [mostly] agree on. This would of given Trump the passing of a first piece of major legislation early instead of about 2 weeks before the end of the year.

Despite promising a $1 trillion infrastructure bill during the campaign, Trump’s plan is shaping up differently and set to be unveiled in the middle of January. The plan would propose spending at least $200 billion on infrastructure projects over the next decade, with the hopes of spurring an additional $800 billion in state and local funding. The plan will provide the administration’s principles for infrastructure reform that lawmakers can then craft into a bill.

In his first presidential budget, Trump proposed allocating the $200 billion over 10 years for infrastructure projects. But Trump’s budget cut infrastructure spending overall by $55 billion by slashing programs that write grants for highway renovation, Native American water facilities and rural airports.

Trump again took to Twitter to criticize the FBI, this time singling out two FBI officials. “How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?” Trump wrote in one tweet. In another tweet, Trump said McCabe “is racing the clock to retire with full benefits. 90 days to go?!!!” Trump also took aim at FBI general counsel James Baker, who is being reassigned, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

Trump is referencing donations to Dr. Jill McCabe’s campaign, something reported by the Wall Street Journal last year. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s political action committee made six contributions totaling $467,500 to McCabe’s campaign, the Journal reported. In addition, campaign records show that the state Democratic Party, over which McAuliffe has great influence, made two other payments totaling $207,788 in September and October 2015. These donations all occurred before McCabe took over as deputy director of the FBI and before he would have had any oversight into the Clinton email investigation. So again he tweets out fake news.

Trump said that he thinks special counsel Robert Mueller is “going to be fair” in his investigation into possible collusion between Trump’s team and Russian officials. His comments made during an interview with The New York Times come after Republicans and supporters of Trump had raised questions over Mueller and his investigative team.
Trump told the Times: “I have the absolute right to do what I want with the Justice Department. But for purposes of hopefully thinking I’m going to be treated fairly, I’ve stayed uninvolved with this particular matter.” A bit like a dictatorship.

The White House strongly pushed back on a report that Trump spoke about immigrants in a dismissive and demeaning fashion with top administration officials. The denial came in response to explosive reporting from the New York Times, which wrote that, according to two unnamed officials, Trump said during a meeting in June that people coming from Haiti “all have AIDS,” that recent Nigerian immigrants would never “go back to their huts” in Africa and that Afghanistan is a terrorist haven.

Trump claims he is ready to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA] with Canada and Mexico in a minute. He is claiming the US had a $17 billion deficit with Canada when a government office says in fact the US had a $12 billion surplus. Where does he get his fake facts from?

Puerto Rico authorities say nearly half of power customers in the U.S. territory still lack electricity more than three months after Hurricane Maria. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has said the entire island will have power by May – just in time for the next hurricane season.

Trump went after the US Postal Service because they charge too little to Amazon for delivering packages. USPS competes with FedEx and UPS to deliver parcels — but its rates are set by a commission appointed by the president, and almost every aspect of its operations are governed by Congress. But the USPS hasn’t been able to compensate for collapsing letter mail volumes due to a 2006 law that capped price increases at the rate of inflation and also limited the proportion of its budget that could be devoted to its parcel business.

Trump has sway over the Postal Service. He’s made four board nominations, who are currently awaiting Senate action. By law, it’s supposed to have 9 appointed members, and currently it has none. So in the end, Trump should blame himself. Trump went after Amazon because Amazon’s CEO is nemesis Steve Bezos.

Trump claimed that his approval ratings at this point in his presidency rival those of Barack Obama, citing a report from “Fox & Friends.” The three-day averages released on December 28, 2009 [the day Trump cited in his tweet] showed 51% approval for Obama with 43% disapproval. On December 28 of this year, Gallup released a three-day average showing 38% approval for Trump with 56% disapproval.

Trump has had the worst approval rating at the end of his first calendar year in the White House since the dawn of modern polling, sinking to a new low of 35% in a new CNN poll in December.

Trump tweeted on the day after Christmas that it is back to work. But he was seeing playing golf for part of the day.

May be not specifically targeting CNN, but an unmarked white truck was blocking CNN’s cameras from taking video of Trump playing golf this week. Every time Trump moved on the course, so did the truck. The truck was on a public road. Nice way for the truck driver to make a living.

Already at least one high speed rail station [not built yet], a renaming of a street in a Muslim area [this should set off fireworks], a park set to be open next year and a new street to be named after Trump as he pledged to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Guatemala is the only other country that announced that they will follow. The rail station will garner plenty of protesting as it goes near some holy sites [in addition to possible further issues if some archeological areas are uncovered].

A man claiming to be the person who delivered a gift-wrapped package of horse manure at the Los Angeles home of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he did it to protest the federal tax overhaul signed into law last week by Trump. Nice Christmas present!

For years, Apple CEO Tim Cook has called on Washington to make it less costly for his company to bring back the billions of dollars it holds overseas. As part of the tax bill signed last week by Trump, corporations like Apple (will enjoy a repatriation tax rate of 15.5% for returning money to the US from their overseas cash piles.

At the end of the most recent quarter, Apple had $268.9 billion in cash and marketable securities, more than $250 billion of which was held outside the US. The question is whether or not Apple will bring most or all the money back to the US and whether they will do something with the money. Apple has already committed to a $300 billion capital return program that includes buybacks and dividends for shareholders.

While visiting a fire station, in a speech, Trump said “We have signed more legislation than anybody — we broke the record of Harry Truman.” Nope! Trump signed 96 pieces of items in 2017 but almost all were Executive Orders and minor bills – not major legislation. Truman signed more than 250. He then got bored and talked about giving the police military style equipment. Why? Can’t he stick with fire station related comments? Some bills overhaul entire sections of US law while others rename post offices and other federal buildings.

While at his Mar-A-Lago, where the temperature was 72 degrees. “In the East, it could be the COLDEST New Year’s Eve on record. Perhaps we could use a little bit of that good old Global Warming that our Country, but not other countries, was going to pay TRILLIONS OF DOLLARS to protect against. Bundle up!” What Trump doesn’t seem to understand or maybe ignore is that “weather” and “climate” are not the same thing.

Oh. 8 of the warmest years on record in the US have occurred since 2008. So that is climate – not weather. From NASA: “Weather is what conditions of the atmosphere are over a short period of time, and climate is how the atmosphere ‘behaves’ over relatively long periods of time.”

A video posted by Vanity Fair on their web site before Christmas which featured a handful of Vanity Fair staffers offering cheeky New Year’s resolutions for Hillary Clinton, didn’t get much attention when it was first published on December 23. But after complaints by pro-Clinton supporters a few days later, Vanity Fair sort of apologized.

That’s when Trump came into the picture by tweeting [as the issue was dying] “Vanity Fair, which looks like it is on its last legs, is bending over backwards in apologizing for the minor hit they took at Crooked H. Anna Wintour …. is beside herself in grief & begging for forgiveness!” Wintour is Vogue [same owner as Vanity Fair]. Vanity Fair’s previous editor, Graydon Carter, has had a famous public spat going on with Trump for years. Carter dubbed Trump a “short-fingered vulgarian.”

So Roy Moore [I don’t want to mention his title because he doesn’t deserve it] is using Trump’s playbook by claiming there were massive vote fraud in Alabama from out of state Hispanics and African-Americans. But the state didn’t take this crap and issued a report that there was none. Doug Jones was certified the winner. [I wish the state would charge Moore with something and pay for any recounts and the investigation.]

For the first time in more than two decades, a sitting President has missed the Kennedy Center Honors. The annual recognition of the arts — lauding luminaries from various fields, as they rub elbows with the Washington elite. Trump’s rationale was that by staying away, he would allow the attendees to celebrate without “political distraction.” Most [if not all] of the honorees are Democratic party faithful.

In her opening remarks, Caroline Kennedy said that would have normally sounded benign felt pointed in the current climate, as she spoke of her father’s commitment to “the rule of law, to religious tolerance and racial justice, to nuclear disarmament and scientific innovation.”

Singer Joy Villa, a Trump supporter, has filed a police report against former Trump presidential campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who she says sexually assaulted her at the Trump International Hotel in Washington on November 28. Villa says Lewandowski slapped her bottom hard twice while posing for a picture.

Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pennsylvania, said Republican candidates facing re-election would have to surpass challenging hurdles, among them Trump’s divisive nature as the figurehead of the party. He is retired when his term ends in 2018.

Remember how Trump [and Wisconsin governor] were ecstatic that Foxconn would build a huge plant there with $3 billion in incentives? Those incentives have grown to $4 billion. It will take until at least 2043 for the state to recoup that lost tax revenue. On top of that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is at a low 3.2%. This could be a problem in finding an estimated 13,000 jobs [at $53,000 per year] to fill the plant. Would have been better in a state with higher unemployment.

A White House senior adviser, Frank Wuco, at the Department of Homeland Security promoted several far-right conspiracy theories in past radio appearances. Wuco is a former naval intelligence officer and conservative talk radio host Among the conspiracy theories Wuco pushed were claims that former President Barack Obama’s memoir was ghost written by former anti-Vietnam War radical Bill Ayers, claims that former CIA director John Brennan converted to Islam and claims Attorney General Eric Holder had been a member of the Black Panthers.

Wuco pushed false claims during radio appearances that Obama was not born in the US, made disparaging comments about the LGBT community, and lamented what he called the “Zimbabwe-fication” of America.

According to a CNN poll, just 35% of Americans approve of Trump, meaning it is not politically risky for Democrats to stand opposed to him. Additionally, the base of the Democratic Party is unified around their opposition of Trump as 93% of Democrats disapprove of Trump’s handling of the job.



Fox News goes after Mueller

Both Donald Trump and his former chief political strategist Steve Bannon are urging Roy Moore to concede, as the defiant Republican Senate candidate refuses to admit defeat to Democrat Doug Jones in the Alabama senate election.

Fox News personalities truly seem more outraged at Robert Mueller than at the Russian government for attacking the US democracy. Sean Hannity declaring that Mueller and his team of investigators were an “utter disgrace.” Hannity then amped up the hysterics by claiming that this investigation poses a “direct threat to you, the American people, and our American republic,” as he called for Mueller to resign.

Fox’s Lou Dobbs proclaimed it was “time to kill the investigation.” Dobbs then bizarrely added that “the person who should be investigated is Barack Obama.” Why? Because the Russian interference “occurred under his administration.” Apparently he thinks that Obama helped Trump get elected so that Trump could try to dismantle every accomplishment of his presidency.

Former Speaker of the House and Fox News political contributor Newt Gingrich, who had praised Mueller when he was first appointed in May as a “superb choice” whose reputation was “impeccable for honesty and integrity,” said on air this week that “Mueller is corrupt. The senior FBI is corrupt.”

Trump tweeted “Despite thousands of hours wasted and many millions of dollars spent, the Democrats have been unable to show any collusion with Russia – so now they are moving on to the false accusations and fabricated stories of women who I don’t know and/or have never met.” Can you tell if he’s talking about the FBI’s man hours and money or those of the Democrats? If you do not know them, you usually never met them!

Trump claimed that he didn’t know or had never met the [fifteen] women accusing him of sexual harassment and assault, despite evidence to the contrary. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders qualified the comment during her daily press briefing, saying Trump was only referring to the three women who appeared at the news to reiterate their accusations against Trump. That’s despite the fact Trump’s tweet made no such specification. [I wonder if anyone takes Sanders seriously.]

Trump did not dismiss the idea of pardoning former national security adviser Michael Flynn after he pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to the FBI about conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the US.

While Trump continues to go after FBI, claiming it needs to be reformed, but then he told some FBI students that he has “their backs.” Doesn’t seem like it if you are going after the department you belong to.

It is, however, a well-known [but hushed] fact that the FBI tends to lean towards the right. So Trump’s constant bickering about the FBI doing the Democrat’s work is nonsense.

Trump tweeted “Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!” Trump’s standard type tweet: attack one and then attack someone at the end who have nothing to do with the first person attacked.

Trump attacked Gillibrand who has called for his resignation after multiple women renewed their sexual misconduct allegations against him. When he said she was a “lightweight” who would “do anything” for campaign contributions. Trump didn’t explain further what he meant.

“This is the same sentiment the President has expressed many times before,” Sanders said during the daily briefing. “The system is clearly broken and it’s clearly rigged for special interests. This President can’t be bought and it’s one of the reasons he’s President today.” [Are you laughing?]

According to Federal Election Commission documents, Trump donated $4,800 to Gillibrand for Senate in 2010 and $2,100 to Gillibrand Victory Fund in 2007. Trump went to her campaign office – she didn’t go to his office.

USA Today editorial board bashed Trump as “a president who would all but call Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand a whore is not fit to clean the toilets in the Barack Obama Presidential Library or to shine the shoes of George W. Bush” after Trump’s tweet against her.

Omarosa Manigault Newman, Trump’s Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison, who is also an African-American, will leave her. Initially it was said that she resigned but reports say she was fired – escorted out of the White House. If so, she would be a two time fired person as he fired her on The Apprentice.

But Manigault Newman repeatedly denied reports of a dramatic confrontation between with White House chief of staff John Kelly, to ask Trump about her dismissal or physically escorted her out of the White House. Supposedly, both Kelly and former chief of staff Reince Priebus wanted to let Manigault Newman go, adding that many in the White House had little idea what she did.

Sanders could not give an actual account of the number of non-whites in the Trump administration. In fact when Manigault Newman leaves, there will be 2 in senior positions.

Trump will authorize the acting NASA administrator Robert M. Lightfoot Jr. to “lead an innovative space exploration program to send American astronauts back to the moon, and eventually Mars”. [I have a suggestion of who should be first to go…]

After Trump announced that the US would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol and it would help with the peace efforts, UN ambassador Nikki Haley repeated what Trump said. Meanwhile, probably all Muslim countries consider the efforts dead and/or cannot trust the US to mediate.

A Trump judicial nominee, Matthew Spencer Petersen, who currently serves as a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, struggled to answer basic legal questions posed to him by a Republican senator, including his lack of experience on trial work, the amount of depositions he’d worked on and more. He was asked [among others] how many depositions Petersen had worked on [less than five], federal trials [no], state trials [no] and the last time he had read the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure — he said he couldn’t remember. He should of recused himself instead of wasting time.

With Disney buying a big chunk of 21st Century Fox which owns various Fox Trump was worried what would happen to his [precious] Fox News even though the deal already said that Fox News would not be sold off. Does he read?

“The Coca Cola company is not happy with me–that’s okay, I’ll still keep drinking that garbage,” said Trump in 2012. But he drinks 12 cans of Diet Coke a day.

According to a report, people who report drinking artificially sweetened beverages end up at higher risk than non-diet soda drinkers for lots of negative outcomes, including type 2 diabetes, hypertension and stroke, as well as dementia. Some research suggests that artificially sweetened drinks can increase one’s appetite and the desire for sweets.

A Boston University School of Medicine study from this year found that people who reported drinking at least one can of an artificially sweetened soft drink each day were almost three times as likely to have a stroke caused by a blood clot, compared with those who avoided these diet beverages. One-a-day diet soda drinkers were nearly three times as likely as those who never drink diet soda to be diagnosed with dementia, as well, the researchers found.

Trump signed into law legislation that bans the use of Kaspersky Lab within the U.S. government, capping a months-long effort to purge the Moscow-based antivirus firm from federal agencies amid concerns it was vulnerable to Kremlin influence.

Sean “Garlic” Spicer is writing a book called The Briefing, to be release next summer by a “prominent” conservative publisher. Don’t expect anything revealing about Trump. Even then, it will be checked out by government officials to make sure nothing of national security will be mentioned. So it will be boring as hell and will be in the high discounted bins within a few months of release.

A former Fox News anchor Juliet Huddy said that Trump tried to kiss her in an elevator in “2005 or 2006,” which she said surprised her but did not make her feel threatened. It’s unclear whether Trump was married at the time since she  does not recall the exact date. “He took me for lunch at Trump Tower, just us two. He said goodbye to me in an elevator while his security guy was there; rather than kiss me on the cheek he leaned in to kiss me on the lips.”

The FCC has killed net neutrality rules. The rules required [among other things] all traffic has equal strength. One ISP cannot limit the traffic speed [example Netflix] while allow others [for example their own services] to get a regular or higher speed. Not surprisingly, Trump wants the net neutrality rules killed as he wants to kill as much regulation.

Congress has 60 legislative days to act once the rule is submitted. The Senate will have to enact the resolution by a simple majority and the President has veto power. Democrats are against removing the regulations.

After the FCC repealed the Obama-era net neutrality rules, Trump held a press conference to claim that more than 1,500 regulatory actions have been delayed or canceled by his administration in 2017.

Sanders said the administration “supports” the decision to repeal net neutrality – and the idea of a “free and fair internet.” Well not really free and it isn’t fair if an ISP restricts the traffic speed from a competitor while giving their own services more speed. If you are using [for example] Amazon’s Prime video service and your ISP is throttling the speed, you would probably want to switch to another ISP. I know I would.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he will sue to stop the “illegal rollback” of Net Neutrality following the Federal Communications Commission’s vote to repeal it.

Trump was all happy when he announced that one poll had his approval rating at 46%. But his disapproval rating was 51%. I think most leaders would not be advertising that more than half of the country disapproves him.

Trump still is boasting his election win. “And we didn’t get to 270; we got 306,” he declared, according to a transcript of his remarks, which the press was not permitted to view. “That’s even better, right? So we had an amazing time.” He’s forgetting the loss in various elections including in Alabama this past week.

Russian hacker Konstantin Kozlovsky testified to carrying out attacks at the request of the Russian FSB (the KGB-successor). The testimony is a first-hand account of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election that directly contradicts Putin’s denials of any involvement. Now will it lead anything to Trump or his team.

One wacky week with wacky Trump

Warning: It is a nutty week. This blog is “extended today”.

In a signed letter, Donald Trump informed [former] FBI Director James Comey that he was “hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately,” explaining that he reached the conclusion that Comey is “not able to effectively lead the bureau.” Trump was praising Comey during and after the election. 5 months later, Trump had a change of heart?

The White House said that Comey was fired based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In a separate letter, Rosenstein laid out the reasons for Comey’s firing, arguing that it was his transgressions over the Clinton email investigation that were the cause of his dismissal. Errr. Trump didn’t even meet him. Comey was in Los Angeles.

In his letter to Comey firing him, Trump thanked him for telling him three times “that I am not under investigation.” The FBI has not confirmed that Comey ever made those assurances to the president. Former FBI agents said such a statement by the director would be all but unthinkable.

Comey reportedly thought his removal was a prank. Trump had been planning to oust Comey for at least a week Attorney General Jeff Sessions had been charged with finding a good pretext.

Then Trump tweeted “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press.”

Days before he was fired by Trump, Comey requested more resources to pursue his investigation into Russia’s election meddling and the possible involvement of Trump associates, U.S. officials say, fueling concerns that Trump was trying to undermine a probe that could threaten his presidency. That same type of action help bring down Richard Nixon.

Trump said that he was going to fire Comey with or without Rosenstein’s memo criticizing the director. Meanwhile White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said “…the rank-and-file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.” Sure Sarah. Took a poll?

Seems Trump was also jealous that Comey was getting more of the spotlight than him saying he was a show-off, agreed about Obama’s surveillance and would not exonerate him in the Russia mess. White House officials said Trump’s confidence in Comey had been eroding for months and Trump was persuaded to take the step by Justice Department officials and a scathing memo, written by Rosenstein, criticizing the director’s role in the Clinton investigation.

Andrew McCabe, top deputy to ex-FBI Director Comey, could be a contender for the Director’s role. He is now acting director. But McCabe’s actions are among the decisions being scrutinized in an ongoing Justice Department inspector general probe of the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. One issue is whether McCabe should have recused himself from the Clinton case after his wife [running for senate] received large campaign contributions from the political action committee of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a close Clinton ally.

As well, Trump may kill the press briefings [what will Sean “Garlic” Spicer do?] by releasing press releases to keep the answers accurate. This maybe because deputy WH press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders contradicted some things Trump said.

Garlic literally hid in the bushes to avoid press after Comey was fired. Didn’t know what to do. Maybe unrelated, Spicer is spending his week at the Pentagon for Navy reserve duty for the rest of the week. Huckabee-Sanders replaced him.

“When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?” Trump tweeted. Clapper, however, qualified his remarks by saying he had been unaware of an FBI investigation into the matter until Comey announced it to the public at a House hearing in March. So Trump using more outdated information.

President Barack Obama warned then-President-elect Trump in November against hiring retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as his national security adviser during their Oval Office meeting on November 10, former Obama administration officials confirmed to CNN.

Trump’s travel ban is back in the spotlight with a high-stakes legal battle in front of a dozen federal judges in Richmond, Virginia. Normally, such an appeal from a district court’s decision would be heard by a randomly assigned panel of three judges, and the losing party may ask for it to be reheard by the full court. Yet in this case, the judges on the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals decided it should be heard by the full court — otherwise known as “en banc” — in the first instance. Ten of the 15 active judges on the court are either Clinton or Obama appointees.

“Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care,” said Raul Labrador, the Republican congressman in response to a statement by a woman that the “lack of health care was essentially asking people to die.” The Democrats confirmed with this quote that they are out of touch with the average person and simply don’t understand (or don’t care) about the real-world implications of their policy proposals.

Canada may retaliate against Trump’s softwood [a.k.a. house] lumber by either adding stiff tariffs to Oregon plywood, wine, flooring, wood chips and packaging materials [a congressman from there was one of the hawks in the lumber tariffs] or maybe coal from Washington state [which is shipped through harbors in British Columbia] to Asia [Trump wants to increase coal productivity. Another option is to lean heavily on 35 states that trade quite a bit with Canada. While none of the tariffs would affect Canadians as much, it would affect 2 US industries. The Trump administration says it won’t be pressured by trade threats from the Canadian government. I guess they don’t care who gets hurt.

Several American companies that rely on Canadian softwood say thousands of American jobs are at risk unless the U.S. Department of Commerce exempts them from hefty duties imposed on imported softwood lumber.

In an interview, Trump said “Oh, at some point I’ll release them. Maybe I’ll release them after I’m finished because I’m very proud of them actually. I did a good job.” This won’t stop him for being prosecuted if he said something that contradicted his tax returns such as owning property in Russia.

Revelations that the sister of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, promoted a program offering a path to U.S. citizenship to Chinese backers in a Kushner family project bring new scrutiny to a foreign investor visa program. Marketing materials for the event promoted Nicole Kushner Meyer as Jared’s sister, and cited the Kushner family’s “celebrity” status. Yes, celebrities like in one of Trump’s shows. The project promoted by Meyer in Beijing is a 79-story apartment building called Kushner 1.

As part of such deals, investors typically accept below-market investment returns to qualify for a visa, allowing the developer to pocket the savings on financing costs. After as little as two years, participants can apply for a fast-track green card and later U.S. citizenship.

Meanwhile, after seeing advertisements for what was described as a “Kushner event featuring Jared’s sister,” in Beijing a Canadian reporter decided to attend. Then she was asked to leave. The Beijing-based correspondent for the Washington Post, was seated apart from her colleague, who faced similar resistance from the hosts. Some of her colleague’s video and audio was deleted by the event organizers on the Chinese side. “I later heard from another reporter — who tweeted a picture — that there was indeed a picture of President Trump … on a slide that said ‘key decision makers.'” Seems that Nicole Kushner Meyer has now been removed of her duties.

In signing an omnibus bill, Trump said in a statement: “My administration shall treat provisions that allocate benefits on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender … in a manner consistent with the requirement to afford equal protection of the laws under the Due Process Clause of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.” This could be code wording for “Unlike previous administrations, I won’t give historically black college financing, Native American housing block grants and minority business development anything more than what is required by law.” [i.e. Bare minimum.] I am assuming someone wrote this because I’m not sure how much of the constitution he knows and it doesn’t sound like him.

Maybe Trump finally did something right. The recently signed cybersecurity executive order requires federal agencies to adopt the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (Cybersecurity Framework; the agency heads have 90 days to prepare a report describing how they will implement the Framework. The previous administration had encouraged adoption of the framework, but did not make it a requirement.

Don’t you just love Trump? “[Former Director of National Intelligence James] Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows- there is “no evidence” of collusion w/ Russia and Trump.” Except Clapper said that he was unaware of evidence suggesting there was any.

Then he said “Biggest story today between Clapper & Yates is on surveillance. Why doesn’t the media report on this? #FakeNews!” Except the idea that the surveillance story is a bigger deal than Russia having compromising information about the national security adviser is nonsense.

Steve Munoz, a political appointee hired by the Trump administration for a significant State Department role was accused of multiple sexual assaults as a student several years ago at The Citadel military college. Five male freshmen alleged that Munoz used his positions as an upperclassman, class president and head of the campus Republican Society to grope them. So he fits in well with Trump’s crowd.

Ivanka Trump was reportedly reduced to tears by her father after he refused to issue a full apology for his comments about groping women. But according to the New York Times [one of the “fake news” outlets – so Papa will not accept it!], Ivanka repeatedly attempted to convince him to offer a full apology for the comment, but he had only agreed to say sorry for any offence he caused.

Another court loss for Trump: A US federal court has declined to rehear a case in which telecommunications companies seek to overturn net neutrality rules established during the Obama administration by the FCC.

If Trump were an officer in the Air Force, with any connection to nuclear weapons, he would need to pass the Personnel Reliability Program, which includes thirty-seven questions about financial history, emotional volatility, and physical health. (Question No. 28: Do you often lose your temper?) “There’s no doubt in my mind that Trump would never pass muster,” said a researcher.

Ivanka Trump, at a Berlin conference on women called W20 Summit, drew scattered groans and hisses for describing Trump as “a tremendous champion of supporting families.” “Some attitudes toward women your father has publicly displayed in former times might leave one questioning whether he’s such an empoweree for women,” said the moderator of the summit. Ivanka responded saying the media continues to bring that up. Then she said “I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and my own tenacity.” Of course, if you are a daughter of a billionaire, there are few barriers.


FBI cracks terrorist’s cell without Apple’s help

As you may have read, the FBI used a security company called Cellebrite [if the story is true] to break into the iPhone used by the San Bernardino terrorist. So an anticipated showdown between Apple and the FBI have been put on hold.

If you recall, it had FBI claiming that they needed to get into the iPhone to see if there was any evidence [but they don’t know if there was any] and Apple claiming a privacy issue – not for the dead terrorist but in future battles like this.

Because of these actions, Magistrate Sheri Pym won’t be ruling on whether a centuries-old law, known as the All Writs Act, provided legal authority for compelling Apple’s assistance.

Some in the tech industry believe at one point the FBI will go after a smaller company that doesn’t have the legal army and money that Apple has, get a favorable ruling and then go after Apple or others.

If the case would of moved forward, Apple would have to rewrite its iPhone software that would make all iPhones less secure and open the door to more demands from government authorities, both in the United States and other countries [especially some that don’t have the proper laws and “checks” that the US has].

Now there is talk that Apple, Google, Microsoft and others will make it even more difficult to hack into a smart phone the way Cellebrite did.

One does wonder regarding some smartphone data as most data is either synced with the cloud or also stored on the manufacturer’s or carrier’s servers [who and when called, search information, etc.].

The US [and other countries] also need to modernize some of the laws such as the All Writs Act which was out long before any modern technology was available.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors have appealed a court ruling that said Apple doesn’t have to help them extract data from another iPhone in a New York drug case. In at least a dozen pending cases, the government has cited the same All Writs Act as legal authority to compel Apple’s co-operation.

A slippery slope between Apple and the FBI

The US government are at odds with Apple. The FBI got a judge in the Federal District Court for the District of Central California to order Apple to bypass security functions on an iPhone 5c used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who was killed by the police along with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, after they attacked Mr. Farook’s co-workers at a holiday gathering in December 2015.

The judge ordered Apple to build special software that would essentially act as a skeleton key capable of unlocking the phone.

But Apple CEO Tim Cook announced Apple’s refusal to comply citing to protect the privacy of its users – even terrorists. [You can’t cherry pick them.] First there will be this issue, then there will be others. When will it stop.

The FBI says that by withholding access to the phone’s information, it is hampering the continuing investigation. Police and prosecutors want the companies to build what would be considered a master key that can be used to get around the encryption.

The Justice Department had secured a search warrant for the phone, owned by Mr. Farook’s former employer, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health.

Blackberry was in the same dilemma but with foreign countries such as Pakistan where Pakistan wanted a master key to unencrypt any conversation or mail between two parties.

One needs to wonder whether Pakistan would go after solely what they would describe as terrorists or maybe even after those the government consider subversive such as protesters.

The same could apply in this Apple case – but hopefully at least the US government can be a bit more open.

In 2014, Apple and Google announced that they had re-engineered their software that encrypts the devices used by their operating systems, and therefore could no longer unlock their own products as a result.

[I had this issue with my Android phone about a month ago. Don’t ask me why, but my boot encryption password didn’t working after 2+ years. I had to force a device wipe.]

Not surprising, Republican Presidential nominee is in favor of the master key concept. [Wonder how he would like it if the FBI investigated him and asked for his phone.]

Known treason tech guy, Edward Snowden, has asked why Apple is policing something the FBI should be doing.

This is going down a slippery slope. If Apple is forced to hand the FBI the keys to the castle, when will it stop? Clearly Mr. Farook was a terrorist, but can a warrant be issued to look at the phone of a politician? A celebrity? The person across the street?

If Apple [and Google] are forced to put something in future operating systems, will consumers ignore upgrading to the operating systems that the government can access?


Freedom of speech or illegal

A man from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania has his case going to the US Supreme Court because whether it is free-speech rights of people who use violent or threatening language on Facebook and other social media.

The man was sentenced to nearly four years in prison for posting graphically violent rap lyrics on Facebook about killing his estranged wife, shooting up a kindergarten class and attacking an FBI agent.

His wife feared for her life after seeing the comments on Facebook. A female FBI agent went to his home to investigate and after she left he posted violent comments about the agent.

Some may say comments on Facebook, Twitter and other social media can be hasty, impulsive and easily misinterpreted. They point out that a message on Facebook intended for a small group could be taken out of context when viewed by a wider audience. But to do so on multiple occasions?

The man said he was just venting his anger over a broken marriage and never meant to threaten anyone. Lawyers for the man argue that the government must prove he actually intended his comments to threaten others. The man also claims that rapper Eminem also used similar language in his songs.

A jury convicted the man of violating a federal law that makes it a crime to threaten another person. A federal appeals court rejected his claim that his comments were protected by the First Amendment.

The Supreme Court has said that “true threats” to harm another person are not protected speech under the First Amendment – but distinguished between this type of speech and protected speech.

If I am corrected about US law, if you utter a death threat to someone directly, what would be the difference between that or saying the same thing on Facebook or twitter – where way more people could see the threat.

Interesting to note that in Quebec, a politician threw his hat into the ring recently. Shortly after he received what was considered by some as a death threat from a man on Facebook and Twitter. Provincial police are investigating. Canadian laws do differ from the US. We’ll see what the outcome of this one is.

But clearly the man from Bethlehem is not “playing with a full deck” [i.e. missing a few screws].