The battle of the man babies: Trump vs Un

Donald Trump, his arms crossed and his expression dour, warned “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” But his new chief of staff, John Kelly, sat across the table stone-faced. Some hoped Kelly could reign him in but that’s not happening Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had to dial back some of Trump’s comments about North Korea to slow things down. This after North Korea warned that it would carry out pre-emptive military strikes against the US, including the Pacific territory of Guam. Of course, North Korea [a bit like trump!] have a history of rhetoric talk but no “action”.

Critics have always said that Trump’s temper and lack of diplomacy – either in person or on Twitter – could escalate issues and/or be taken the wrong way.

Kelly spoke with Trump in his first week on the job about his use of Twitter, which Trump has fiercely defended amid attempts by other confidants to moderate his voice. Trump has said [exaggerating] that Kelly will be one of the best chief of staff’s ever. Sure, if you want someone who won’t object to anything Trump does.

Trump tweeted “My first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before….” But nothing was ever completed.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has insisted that diplomatic efforts to contain the threat posed by North Korea are working, and remain the favored means for solving the crisis.

As if Trump doesn’t have enough things to get into, he has called Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a dictator and had slapped sanctions after a July 30 vote that allowed the President to replace the opposition-held National Assembly with a new 545-member Constituent Assembly filled with his supporters.

H.R. McMaster, Trump’s National Security Adviser, said earlier this month that military intervention from any outside source was not a possibility. But Trump now says there is a possibility. For a guy who said he didn’t want to butt into other nations’ business [that didn’t affect the US directly], he is thinking of using the military?

Crucial divisions in the American government remain topped by vacancies and are currently run by temporary officials in only an acting capacity — including several pivotal to relations with North Korea. A major Defense Department slot — the Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs — is still vacant, currently run by a temporary fill-in. Meanwhile, a key State Department position called the Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs is also without a nomination. The ambassadorship to South Korea also remains vacant as Trump has not nominated anyone for the post yet.

FBI agents searched a home of Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on July 26 , the day after Manafort met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate intelligence committee. The incident happened without advance warning before dawn.

Scratching your head time: Vladimir Poutine wants to expel 755 Americans in retaliation for a recent sanctions against Russia. Unsure if he was joking but Trump commented that the government will save money. Maybe save some money for the costs of having these people livening in Russia but unless they are fired, they will be getting a salary back in the US. In addition some are people who worked on visas as well as business transactions. So less Russians will visit the US [tourism drops] and less or delayed] business deals.

Five active duty transgender service members filed the first lawsuit against Trump’s directive announced on Twitter to prohibit transgender individuals from serving in the armed forces. The service members, who are not named, all say they have relied on the Defense Department’s current policy permitting open service by transgender service members and argue Trump’s ban, which may result in early termination or failure to renew their contracts, is unconstitutional.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson said that he thinks that Sen. John McCain’s brain tumor and the early morning hours may have affected McCain’s no vote on the Senate bill to repeal Obamacare. Johnson believed [from what he interpreted] McCain would vote yes but in the end voted no.

Trump resumed his public feud with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over his party’s failure to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, a sign of the fraught relationship between two branches of government that are both controlled by Republicans. McConnell said Trump had “excessive expectations” for the legislative process and suggested there was a false perception that Congress is underperforming in part “because of too many artificial deadlines unrelated to the reality of the legislature, which may have not been understood.”

Anthony Scaramucci says the profanity-laced phone call that preceded his ouster as White House communications director was recorded by a reporter without his permission. Scaramucci insulted White House aides using vulgar language during the interview with New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza.

In an odd bit of news, former White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, may have a cameo appearance on a fall episode of Saturday Night Live.

Apple supplier Foxconn, which has announced a $10 billion investment in Wisconsin to build a LCD flat screen factory, has been hailed by Trump as “one of the truly great companies of the world.” But Foxconn has had plenty of issues related to poor working conditions. These aren’t high paying jobs that Trump has boasted. The plant will create 3,000 jobs with the potential to grow to 13,000 and should be completed by 2020. A factory in China cut 60,000 jobs last year thanks to automation.

In 2012, New York-based China Labor Watch found children as young as 14 were forced to work in Foxconn factories by technical colleges or they would not graduate. In 2011, 2.7% of the workforce of Foxconn Group consisted of interns, an average of 27,000 interns per month. An announcement in 2013 by Foxconn of plans to build a $30 million plant in Pennsylvania that have so far not come to fruition.

The Wisconsin governor is to give an incentive package that would award Foxconn $3 billion over 15 years in mostly cash incentives and waive several state environmental reviews. Included is that Foxconn can receive up to $200 million per year in refundable tax credits, capped at $2.85 billion if meets capital and employment compensation targets. It can also avoid paying $150 million in sales taxes on building materials, equipment and supplies. The government may use up to $253 million to rebuild part of Interstate 94 to accommodate the new plant.

Then presidential candidate Trump revealed a little-known episode of personal heroism from his youth, telling an Iowa audience that he narrowly avoided capture in Vietnam by remaining in the United States for the duration of the war. “The Cong were after me,” Trump said, visibly stirred by the memory. “And then, just in the nick of time, I got my deferment.” The Cong were after him? In New York or Florida? Coward.

In a poll, nearly half of Republicans (47 percent) believe that Trump won the popular vote. 68% of them believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted and 73% believed that voter fraud happens somewhat or very often. 52% said that they would support postponing the 2020 election and 56% said they would do so if both Trump and Republicans in Congress were behind this. [Of course, postponing the 2020 election could result in chaos and probably rioting in the streets – if it can even be done legally.]

70% of Americans believe the federal investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election in the US should be able to look into President Donald Trump’s finances, according to a new poll conducted by SSRS. 60% of those polled view the probe as a serious matter that should be fully investigated, and a significant minority, 38%, view it as an effort to discredit Trump’s presidency. By a roughly two-to-one margin, those polled disapprove of the way Trump is handling the Russia probe (59% disapprove, 31% approve).

38% say they approve of Trump’s handling of the presidency, according to a new poll conducted by SSRS, with 56% saying they disapprove. 38% is the lowest ever for a newly elected president since modern polling began. Dropped 6% since April. 47% say they strongly disapprove of Trump’s handling of the job, 24% approve.

Among Republicans, strong approval has dropped from 73% in February to 59% now. Among whites who do not have college degrees, a core component of Trump’s base, just 35% strongly approve, down 12 points since February. At the same time, strong disapproval among Democrats has held steady around 80%.

24% say they trust all or most of what they hear in official communications from the White House, while 30% say they trust “nothing at all” that they hear from the President’s office. (Even among Republicans, only about half say they can trust most of what they hear from the White House.) Americans feel things in the country are going well (53% say so), a number that’s held roughly steady since April. He gets a mixed 48% approve to 47% disapprove rating on national security, and Americans are also divided on his handling of the economy at 47% disapprove to 45% approve.

The majorities disapprove of Trump’s work, including on health care policy (62%), foreign affairs (61%), immigration (55%) and helping the middle class (54%). Nearly half (48%) disapprove of his handling of taxes while just 34% approve.

Six in 10 don’t consider Trump honest and trustworthy. Just 30% say they admire the President, and 34% say they are proud to have him as president. 55% say he has lowered the stature of the office of the president.

52% say his tweets are not an effective way for him to share his views on important issues, and 72% say they do not send the right message to other world leaders. Seven in 10 say they too often seem to be in response to TV news the President may have seen, and 71% that they are a risky way for a president to communicate. Six in 10 say they are easy to misunderstand, 63% that they too often turn out to be misleading.

Another poll said that only a third of those surveyed having confidence in Trump’s ability to handle the situation with North Korea.

Putin says don’t butt in our affairs, but he can for others

I’m really wondering if Vladimir Putin [or in French Canada’s press, they call him “Vladimir Poutine”] went to the same school as North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. [I guess Putin was held back a number of years if you go by the difference of age.]

While he hasn’t gone as far as the real hostile threats that Kim Jong Un has uttered, he still has hinted it.

This week, Putin updated the country’s military doctrine where Russia could use nuclear weapons in retaliation to the use of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction against it or its allies, and also in case of aggression involving conventional weapons that “threatens the very existence” of the Russian state.

This came after Ukraine’s parliament dropped the nation’s nonaligned status recently, possibly paving the way for a bid to join NATO in defiance of the Kremlin’s wishes. Putin whined that this isn’t a good thing to do.

Funny. Putin can complain about Ukraine’s decision to change the nation’s nonaligned status [possibly join NATO], but dislikes when the west interferes in Russia’s economy because of the sanctions. He didn’t seem to blame OPEC for dropping the oil prices to almost half of what it was a while ago.

Russia’s main economic output is oil. If OPEC drops prices, Russia has to follow. At last check, Russia owes $185 billion to non-Russian banks and that amount is growing.

Even the KHL, Russia’s professional hockey league, has major problems where some players haven’t been paid [or much] for months and some are dumping the higher salaries [usually foreigners].

The Interview or not The Interview

[The title is a take on To Be or Not To Be.]

Well, Sony surprised a few after the backlash first by announcing a couple of small chains [last I checked] would show the movie The Interview. Then it was announced that the movie would be available to watch [but pay for] on various outlets in the US including YouTube, PlayStation, XBox and others.

So now, it has been released. What are people thinking.

The popular IMDB web site started with 9.8/10 for reviews and has since dropped to 8.8/10 which is still very good. I’m wondering if some Americans are doing their “patriotic duty” and giving the movie a 10/10.

Those who had a hand in the movie such as James Franco and Seth Rogen, of course, are giving it thumbs up, hyping it, etc. Sony has three PR firms helping them as well.

But I’m not sure if they can help the film. Most have given it an average rating. Some gave it above average. Some tanked it [no one stars though].

So I started to watch it. Unsure about you, but I could never get into any comedy that had Seth Rogen – even if he is Canadian.

Yes it is a comedy. It is supposed to be funny, but I don’t. I’ve seen some of the best comedies out there [just about any Monty Python movie, Blazing Saddles, MASH, Animal House, …] and this isn’t comedy. More like a movie infested with dumb jokes – usually half to do with someones anatomy parts.

I do have to admit that I stopped watching at about 45 minutes [almost half way] and it was 45 minutes of my life that I’ll never get back.

And stressing while it is a comedy [or supposed to be one], I stopped watching right after we have Seth Rogen’s character in the middle of a field trying to retrieve an object that was sent in by the CIA meanwhile have to fend off a tiger. What is a tiger doing there? No fences? Nobody noticed this object falling? The North Korean military couldn’t detect some type of rocket propelled object over their land? Where is the security – especially after Rogen’s character screeches in the middle of the field.

Why does he screech? Well, to hide the object that he retrieved [thicker than a corn dog] in a place where he wouldn’t be searched. You guessed it and I won’t say where.

The object bonked and killed the tiger in the head. Aside from a PETA issue [I’m sure they’ll complain], would security investigate how the tiger’s head has this huge hole in it?

Yes I know it’s a comedy.

I missed the parts where the Kim Jong Un character does whatever he does in the movie that caused the real one to p?ss him off.

President Obama was one of the many who were roasting Sony for refusing to show the movie. So I am wondering if Sony sent him the movie and whether he watched it. Or more like me, he saw the first part of the movie and then turned it off thinking how he just wasted part of his life.

More on the Sony hack and North Korea’s Internet going out

Seems the Sony hack front has turned a bit in different directions.

First, Sony announced that two small independent chains in the US will be showing The Interview, that movie that has driven North Korean to go ballistics. The chains aren’t huge but it shows that Sony has decided to give in after banning the movie. The movie still [at last check] has no openings in various other countries.

Both US President Barack Obama and a number of high profile celebrities [most of them who vote for the Democrats] have come out saying that Sony made a mistake.

At one point there was though of a straight to video release [but I’m wondering what the North Koreans would think about that].

Interesting to note that Sony’s world headquarters is in Tokyo but they didn’t seem to be threatened. I guess the US is the worse of two evils.

Flipping the coin, it was reported that North Korea got hit with a 9.5 hour blackout. According to a report, North Korea has for cable links for the Internet all going through China – a friend of theirs. But President Obama asked China if they could investigate to see if the Sony hack originated on their soil. I guess China is caught between two upset “friends”.

Unsure what North Korea would do as they threatened to do to the US a thousand times what any retaliation on them.  Problem is that the links go through China. So unless China cut them….

Also wondering what kind of redundancy they have as all four lines dropped.

Interesting to note that in a CNN report, as little as 4-5 years ago, North Koreans connected to the Internet by using dial-up modem into a Chines network. Wow.

Even now, the Internet is restricted to senior government officials and their cronies, those paid bribes, etc. North Korea has a country wide Intranet with a reported 5000 sites but they are strictly controlled.

Sony breach will end messy

I’m wondering if we will ever find out who actually got into Sony’s network.

A group called the Guardians of Peace [GOP] claimed that they were responsible. Prior to this huge hack, nobody heard of them [at least not publically].

A bit of a strange name for a group – an oxymoron – considering this same group hacked into the network to cause so much damage – not only to Sony but current and past employees – but then to threaten the New York premier of the movie The Interview that some claimed started this because the North Koreans were offended by the movie.

In the movie, Seth Rogen and James Franco star as television journalists involved in a CIA plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Speculation about a North Korean link to the Sony hacking has centered on that country’s angry denunciation of the film. Over the summer, North Korea warned that the film’s release would be an “act of war that we will never tolerate.” It said the U.S. will face “merciless” retaliation.

Lawsuits against Sony are starting to pile up. Two former employees are claiming that Sony took too long to notify ex-employees that data such as medical records, salaries and personal information was leaked. The two are claiming that they have already been contacted by individuals trying to scam them. Others are complaining about the network security.

Already leaked as something like 5 finished movies, thousands of Emails [some making unflattering remarks about various people in the business, release schedules, movie costs, casting decisions, royalties, unreleased new products, etc.], scripts [like the next James Bond movie SPECTRE which just went into filming].

The name GOP itself is a bit odd. It’s like North Korea’s actual name: People’s Democratic Republic of Korea. There isn’t anything democratic there.

As for whether North Korea was involved, who knows. Except at the government level, few North Koreans have the technology or bandwidth or even access to the Internet outside of North Korea. If not them, it could be some North Korean sympathizers or maybe just some group taking this movie issue to their advantage.

The movie itself is losing premiers and already one US chain has pulled it. It was supposed to open Christmas Day but the way it look, it may not even open up in many cinemas in the US [or elsewhere] and could end up in a direct to video option. Even that could cause problems as these GOP crackpots may disrupt sales there as well.

Watch out for the crackpot from the North

Unsure if you heard about this one.

Current dictator for life/despot of North Korea has been making plenty of noise since he took over as chief nutcase of North Korea. He put the world on alert with his ramblings about nuking various countries [of course the US at the top of the list even though a missile from North Korea can’t hit the US]. Even [fairly] friendly countries to North Korea [and there are very few] such as China were dumb struck.

Now the word is out that 12 North Korea were executed in August by machine gun for supposedly violating laws against pornography.

What is interesting is that included in the twelve is dictator Kim Jong Un’s ex-lover, who was part of the same “patriotic” band as Kim Jung Un’s wife. Most of the band [which includes singers, dancers and musicians] itself was also executed as well as another band.

They were also found to have bibles and treated as political dissidents. Some others believe that Kim Jung Un’s ex-lover and others were executed because they may be supporting a rival faction in North Korean politics.

Family members of those who were executed were forced to watch the executions before they themselves were sent off to labour camps.

It seems Kim Jung Un’s father, Kim Jung Il, disapproved of the relationship with his ex-lover [they met about ten years ago] and Kim Jung Un’s wife may have pressured him to get rid of her to make sure she had him to herself. Nice.

It is up there as some of the nastiest things he has done such as dumped his step-mother from her post as senior officer in a party department or executed a vice-minister of the army by blowing him up with a mortar so that no trace of the vice-minister would be found. The vice-minister was reportedly drinking as well as “carousing” during the official mourning period of Kim Jong Il.

This is reminding me of Cambodia all over again.

Welcome to the crackpot convention

No not the Republican National Convention in Tampa but the so-called “non-aligned nations”. And it is being held in crackpot central – Tehran.

With exceptions, this is a week-long convention of something like 120 nations and representatives. Aside from Iran, North Korea is probably the next “biggest” country with the biggest chunk coming from African and Eastern Europe countries.

Of course, Iran started the ball rolling complaining that the five permanent UN Security Council members have too much clout. Hmmm. They didn’t complain much for the past 65 years. One of their friends [an ally may be too much], Russia, may not be too thrilled with that.

And Iran suggested that nuclear weapons should be wiped off the world map by 2025 but still denies they have nuclear weapons capabilities and still complain that their foes still do. Meanwhile, their allies from North Korea have capabilities but left the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

And Iran blamed three recent car bomb blasts on “agents” of the Great Britain and the United States as well as the killing of various nuclear scientists in the past couple of years. Of course, they still don’t offer any proof.

I’m sure over the remaining days of the conference, Iran and fellow despots, nutcases and your typical dictators will be spewing out more garbage.