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Geopolitics / Is Donald Trump a Coward, or Just a Fool?
« Last post by RE on Today at 01:40:46 AM »


Is Donald Trump a Coward, or Just a Fool?
10488 Views February 15, 2017 85 Comments

by Eric Zuesse

Ever since Donald Trump won the U.S. Presidency, the U.S. aristocracy (who control or outright own all of the U.S.-based international corporations and especially the weapons-firms such as Lockheed Martin, whose sales-volumes depend upon increasing the nation’s ‘defense’ spending — and that requires restoring ‘the Cold War’) have been trying to abort his Presidency in any and every way they can. Above all, they have been trying to portray Trump as being secretly a Russian agent, a traitor. On February 14th, they clearly conquered him and brought him fully into line (and not merely partially into line, as before, such as by his abolishing environmental and other regulations that reduce their profits). But did this happen because he is a coward, or instead because he is a fool? How did they conquer him? At the current time, this can be determined only by close examination of the way in which he capitulated. So, the February 14th event will be scrutinized here, in detail:

Trump made unequivocally clear, on February 14th, that the new Cold War between the U.S. and Russia will continue until Russia complies with two conditions that would not only be humiliating to Russia (and to the vast majority of its citizens), but that would also be profoundly immoral. One of these two conditions would actually be impossible, even if it weren’t, in addition, immoral. For Vladimir Putin to agree to either of these two conditions, would not only be a violation of his often-expressed basic viewpoint, but it would also cause the vast majority of Russians to despise him — because they respect him for his consistent advocacy of that very viewpoint. He has never wavered from it. The support of Russians for that viewpoint is virtually universal. (This article will explain the viewpoint.)


In order to understand the Russian perspective on the first of these two issues (which any American must understand who wants to understand the astounding stupidity of Mr. Trump’s position on this matter), which is the issue of Crimea (which had for hundreds of years been part of Russia, but was then suddenly and arbitrarily transferred to Ukraine in 1954 by the Soviet dictator — and the U.S. now demands that his dictat regarding Crimea must be restored), two videos are essential for anyone to see, and here they are:

The first video (click here to see it) (and no one should read any further here who hasn’t seen that video or at least the first twelve minutes of it, because it’s crucial) shows the U.S.-engineered coup that violently overthrew the democratically elected President of Ukraine in February 2014, under the cover of ‘a democratic revolution’, which was actually nothing of the sort, and which had instead started being planned in the U.S. State Department by no later than 2011, and started being organized inside the U.S. Embassy in Kiev by no later than 1 March 2013. The head of the ‘private CIA’ firm Stratfor, has rightly called it “the most blatant coup in history”.

The second video (click here to see it) shows the massacre of Crimeans who were escaping from Kiev during the Ukrainian coup, on 20 February 2014, and which massacre came to be known quickly in Crimea, as “the Pogrom of Korsun,” which was the town where the fascists whom the Obama regime had hired were able to trap the escapees and kill many of them. That’s the incident which — occurring during the coup in Ukraine — stirred enormous fear by Crimeans of the rabid hatred toward them by the U.S.-installed regime.

Finally on the issue of Crimea, all of the Western-sponsored polls that were taken of Crimeans both before and after the plebiscite on 16 March 2014 (which was just weeks after Obama overthrew the Ukrainian President for whom 75% of Crimeans had voted) showed over 90% support by Crimeans for Crimea’s return to being again a part of Russia. Everyone agrees that there was far more than 50% support for that, among the Crimeans. Furthermore, even Barack Obama accepted the basic universal principle of the right of self-determination of peoples when it pertained to Catalans in Spain, and Scotch in UK, and neither he nor anyone else has ever been able to make any credible case for applying it there and generally, but not in Crimea — especially under these circumstances.

So, on the first issue, Trump’s demand that Putin force the residents of Crimea to become subjects of the coup-regime that Obama had just established in Ukraine, it won’t be fulfilled — and it shouldn’t be fulfilled. Obama instituted the sanctions against Russia on the basis of what he called Putin’s “conquest of land” (referring to Crimea), but Russians see it instead as Russia’s standing steadfast for, and protecting, in what was historically and culturally a part of Russia not a part of Ukraine, the right of self-determination of peoples — especially after the country of which their land had been a part for the immediately prior 60 years (Ukraine), had been conquered three weeks earlier, via a bloody coup by a foreign power, and, moreover, this was a foreign power whom Crimeans loathed. Putin will not accept Trump’s demand. Nor should he.


The way that this demand was stated on February 14th was that Russia must “deescalate violence in the Ukraine,” referring to Ukraine’s invasions of its own former Donbass region, which broke away from the Obama-installed Ukrainian regime shortly after Crimea did, but which Putin (after having already suffered so much — sanctions, etc. — from allowing the Crimeans to become Russians again) refused to allow into the Russian Federation, and only offered military and humanitarian assistance to protect themselves so that not all of the roughly five million residents there would flee across the border into Russia.

Donbass had voted 90% for the Ukrainian President that Obama illegally replaced in his coup.

Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel, and Vladimir Putin, had established the Minsk negotiations and agreements, to end the hottest phase of the (Obama-caused) war between Ukraine and Donbass; and a crucial part of the Minsk-2 agreement was that Ukraine would allow the residents of Donbass a certain minimal degree of autonomy within Ukraine, as part of a new Ukrainian Federation, but Ukraine’s Rada or parliament refuses to do that, refuses to allow it, and the United States and its allies blame the residents of Donbass for that refusal by their enemies, and blame the Donbassers for the continued war, or, as Trump’s press secretary referred to it on February 14th, “violence in the Ukraine.” He’s demanding that Donbass stop the war, when Donbass is being constantly attacked by a Ukrainian regime that refuses even to fulfill a fundamental provision of the peace agreement that Hollande, Merkel, and Putin, had arranged, and that both Ukraine and Donbass signed. (Note: even Hollande and Merkel weren’t able to get the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Obama, to so much as participate in this effort for peace.)

A demand like that — for the victim to stop the fight — is impossible to fulfill. It’s like, in World War II, blaming the United States, Soviet Union, and UK, for their war against Germany, Italy, and Japan. It is a cockeyed demand, which requires only cockeyed credulous believers, for it to be taken seriously.

The way that Sean Spicer, President Trump’s press spokesperson, put this demand in his February 14th press conference, was:

President Trump has made it very clear that he expects the Russian government to deescalate violence in the Ukraine and return Crimea.  At the same time, he fully expects to and wants to be able to get along with Russia.

To some people, that combination sounds idiotic. In any event, it’s not merely unrealistic; it is downright impossible. It’s not seeking peace with Russia; it is instead reasserting war against Russia.

Spicer said, with evident pride: “The President has been incredibly tough on Russia.”

A reporter at the press conference challenged that statement: “To me it seems, and I think to a lot of Americans it seems that this President has not been tough on Russia.” Spicer answered by referring to the statement that America’s new U.N. Representative, Nikki Haley, had made. She said at the U.N. on February 2nd:

I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia. … The United States stands with the people of Ukraine, who have suffered for nearly three years under Russian occupation and military intervention. Until Russia and the separatists it supports respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, this crisis will continue. … The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea. Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.

So, Spicer said that,

with respect to Russia, I think the comments that Ambassador Haley made at the U.N. were extremely forceful and very clear that until —
Q    That was an announcement from Haley, not the President.
MR. SPICER:  She speaks for the President.  I speak for the President.  All of us in this administration.  And so all of the actions and all of the words in this administration are on behalf and at the direction of this President.  So I don’t think we could be any clearer on the President’s commitment.

Trump is continuing Obama’s war against Russia, although he had not given America’s voters to expect anything of the kind. Some voters (this writer is one) had voted for him because Trump alleged that he strongly disagreed with his opponent Hillary Clinton about that — he outright lied to the voters, on the most important thing of all. He applied mental coercion — deceit — in order to win. But as it turns out, he’s not really opposed at all to Obama’s coup in Ukraine. Perhaps he is so stupid that he’s not even aware that it was a coup, instead of a ‘democratic revolution’ (the cover-story). Maybe he’s so stupid, that he believes Obama’s lies.

At least Hillary Clinton was honest enough to make clear that she was going to continue Obama’s policies (only worse). But she was so stupid that she couldn’t even beat Donald Trump.

Anyway, all of that is water over the damn, now.

Initially, it had seemed that the only way in which Trump was aiming to satisfy the U.S. aristocracy (owners of the military-industrial complex, among other things) about increasing the ‘defense’ budget, was going to be a buildup against Iran; but, now, that war might end up playing second fiddle.

The war with Russia can only escalate, unless or until President Trump reverses course and states publicly, and provides to the American people and the world, the clear evidence of, his predecessor’s perfidy, both in Ukraine, and in Syria. Unless and until he comes clean, and admits that the problem between the U.S. and Russia isn’t Putin, but instead Obama, it will continue escalating, right up to World War III; and here is why:

When it escalates to a traditional hot war, either in Ukraine or in Syria, the side that’s losing that traditional war will have only one way to avoid defeat: a sudden unannounced nuclear all-out blitz attack against the other side. A nuclear war will last less than 30 minutes. The side that attacks first will suffer the less damage, because it will have knocked out some of the other side’s retaliatory missiles and bombs. If Donald Trump were intelligent, then one could assume that he knows this. He’s not, so he doesn’t. He plods on, toward mutual nuclear annihilation. Perhaps, like Hillary Clinton, he believes that the U.S. has ‘Nuclear Primacy’ and so will ‘win’.

It’s all so stupid. But, even worse, it’s evil. And I’m not talking about Russia or Putin here. The real problem — on this ultimate issue, of avoiding a nuclear winter — is my own country: the United States of America. To call this a ‘democracy’ is not merely a lie; it is a bad joke. The American public are not to blame for this evil. The American aristocracy are. It’s an oligarchy gone mad.

Trump was never a principled person. He never really resisted, at all. He caved after only three weeks on the job. Clearly, then, he’s not only a psychopath; he is a fool.

Trump promised to ‘drain the swamp’. Instead, he’s feeding the alligators.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

 California officials and the marijuana industry are ready to fight a federal crackdown

Patrons shop at Bud & Bloom, a Santa Ana marijuana dispensary. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Patrick McGreevy

Warned of a possible federal crackdown on marijuana, California elected officials and cannabis industry leaders said Friday they were preparing for a potential showdown in the courts and Congress to protect the legalization measure approved by state voters in November.

The flashpoint that set off a scramble in California was a news conference Thursday at which White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that the administration had no plans to continue the Obama administration's permissive approach in states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use.
From Our Partners: These States Just Legalized Marijuana

"I do believe that you'll see greater enforcement,” he said, adding that the administration would continue to allow states to regulate the sale of marijuana for medical use.

The latest development could force California officials and marijuana industry leaders into an unusual alliance against the federal government, with billions of dollars in profits for businesses and taxes for state coffers at stake.
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The state agency responsible for drafting regulations said Friday it was going ahead with its plans to start issuing licenses to growers and sellers in January.

“Until we see any sort of formal plan from the federal government, it’s full speed ahead for us,” said Alex Traverso, a spokesman for the California Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation.

In Congress, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) plans to introduce legislation that could blunt Spicer’s threat by preventing the Department of Justice from enforcing federal laws against the recreational use of marijuana in states that have legalized it, a spokesman said Friday.

And industry officials warn that any federal crackdown in California and other states will result in many growers and sellers continuing to operate, but on the black market.

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra says he is ready to safeguard the rights of the 56% of voters who approved Proposition 64, which allows California adults to possess, transport and buy up to an ounce of marijuana for recreational use.

“I took an oath to enforce the laws that California has passed,” Becerra said in a statement Thursday after Spicer’s comments. “If there is action from the federal government on this subject, I will respond in an appropriate way to protect the interests of California.”

State lawmakers also say California should do what it can to preserve Proposition 64.

“We will support and honor the laws that California voters have democratically enacted,” said Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), an author of legislation creating the licensing system for medical marijuana dispensaries.

Becerra would likely be joined in any defense of the state’s marijuana policy by attorneys general in other parts of the country. Recreational use has also been legalized in Washington state, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada, home to a combined 68 million Americans.

Washington Atty. Gen. Bob Ferguson, who has worked with Becerra on opposing President Trump’s travel ban, said he and Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee last week asked for a meeting with U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions to discuss how the recreational marijuana use system is working in their state.
Los Angeles may finally get cannabis right, and help minorities get a stake in the industry
Los Angeles may finally get cannabis right, and help minorities get a stake in the industry

California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a leading supporter of Proposition 64, took a similar approach, sending a letter Friday to Trump urging him not to carry through with threats to launch a federal enforcement effort.

“I urge you and your administration to work in partnership with California and the other … states that have legalized recreational marijuana for adult use in a way that will let us enforce our state laws that protect the public and our children, while targeting the bad actors,” the Democrat wrote.

If the Justice Department starts arresting licensed marijuana sellers, the multibillion-dollar industry would join forces with the states that issue permits to challenge the action in court, said Amy Margolis, an attorney whose law firm has more than 200 clients in the marijuana industry, including businesses in California.

“This industry is so mature and it’s so far along that I have no doubt that if the Department of Justice started true enforcement actions against cannabis businesses, that they would go to court,” Margolis said. “I see joint actions between the states and the industry hoping to prevent those type of actions.”

Margolis would argue that it is a states’ rights issue.

“The argument would be that this is a situation where the states have the right to regulate and tax an industry the way they want,” she said, adding that states are gaining tax revenue to pay for government programs.

Although federal law does not outline a medicinal use for marijuana, Trump administration officials have made public statements indicating they recognize that such a benefit exists, which could help the industry in a potential court case, Margolis said.

However, the states may find their hands tied legally if they try to keep federal agents from raiding and shutting down marijuana growing and sales operations, according to Adam Winkler, a professor at UCLA School of Law.

“I imagine that California will mount a legal challenge to any crackdown on recreational marijuana,” Winkler said. “Yet there is not much California can do. Federal law is supreme over conflicting state law. Federal agents are entitled to enforce federal law anywhere in the country, including California.”

He said there are limits to federal power, but the courts have held that the federal government does have the authority to enforce federal drug laws.

Aaron Herzberg, an attorney for the industry, agreed that the state would face a tough fight. He cited the 2005 case Gonzales vs. Raich, in which the U.S. Supreme Court found that under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Congress may criminalize the production and use of homegrown marijuana even if states approve its use for medical purposes.

“Let's face it: If the federal government wants to shut down recreational marijuana they could quite easily accomplish it using federal law enforcement and taxation tools,” Herzberg said.

Others say one basis for legal action would be an argument that enforcing laws against marijuana would damage states that have put regulations in place and are depending on hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to pay for government programs.

States are too far down the path of regulating, licensing and taxing those who are making big investments in the sanctioned marijuana industry to pull the rug out now, said Richard Miadich, an attorney who co-wrote Proposition 64.

Updates from Sacramento »

“Given the strict regulatory structure set forth in Proposition 64, that medical and adult-use regulations are being developed in concert, and that public opinion is squarely on the side of states’ rights on this issue, I think it is impractical for the federal government to reverse course now,” he said. “Not to mention the potential for great harm to individual states.”

Supporters of Proposition 64 say there is also a potential political solution.

In recent years, Rohrabacher and Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel) won congressional approval of a rider to the federal budget that prohibited federal funds from being used to prosecute medical marijuana businesses that are in compliance with state laws.

Rohrabacher plans to introduce legislation that would expand the protection to businesses that comply with state laws allowing the growing and sale of marijuana for recreational use, according to spokesman Ken Grubbs.

The congressman is planning the legislation “because recreational use is an issue of individual freedom and should be dealt with legally according to the principle of federalism, a bedrock conservative belief,” Grubbs said.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) is also “reviewing options to counteract whatever the Trump Administration’s plans” are for state marijuana laws, said Lieu senior advisor Jack d’Annibale.

Another option, though a long shot, would be for Congress to attempt to change the federal Controlled Substances Act to decriminalize the use of marijuana nationally.

Herzberg said reinstituting federal raids would be “a major setback for the industry.”

But the state could still go ahead with a licensing system for medical marijuana growing and sales in spite of a federal crackdown on recreational use, according to Hezekiah Allen, head of the California Growers Assn.

“A vast majority of California growers and cannabis business owners would choose to participate only in the medical marketplace if given the option, and some would choose to avoid licensure entirely if they were unable to distinguish themselves from adult-use businesses,” Allen said.

Because Spicer did not provide details on what an enforcement effort might look like, many in the industry hope it will focus on the illegal exporting of marijuana to other states, leaving alone state-licensed firms that grow and sell pot.

“The biggest crackdown we may see is on the increase of cannabis being illegally exported out of recreational states,” said Nate Bradley, executive director of the California Cannabis Industry Assn.

State Sen. Mike McGuire (D-San Rafael) said any change in federal enforcement policy on states that have legalized recreational use would be misguided.

“You can’t put the genie back into the bottle — marijuana regulation and enforcement can’t and shouldn’t go backwards,” he said.
Doom Psychology / Why women tend to orgasm less — and how to fix it
« Last post by RE on Today at 12:47:35 AM »
Unfair Orgasm Distribution!  March on Washington April 15th Tax Day to assure equitable distribution of orgasms!

We need to take from the Rich in Orgasms and Give to the Poor in Orgasms.  Socialize the Orgasms and Privatize the Venereal Diseases!


Why women tend to orgasm less — and how to fix it
Published February 24, 2017

If you’re in a heterosexual relationship, you’ve likely experienced the so-called “orgasm gap” between men and women.

And now, a new study offers more evidence that straight women have fewer orgasms than men, or lesbian and bisexual women.


The research, published in the February edition of the Archives of Sexual Behavior, found that 65 percent of heterosexual women orgasm regularly, while heterosexual men were the most likely to say they usually always orgasmed during sex (95 percent reported doing so). The other groups fell somewhere in the middle.

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Researchers from Indiana University, Chapman University and Claremont Graduate University said oral sex was linked with more orgasms in all groups except for in straight men.


But fear not if you’re on the giving or receiving end of said problematic orgasms. After analyzing orgasm patterns in a sample of nearly 53,000 American adults, researchers identified some simple solutions to increase the likelihood of heterosexual females orgasms.

Communication, foreplay, wearing sexy lingerie, sexting, anal stimulation, and trying new positions were all linked to more orgasms, researchers found.


"We consider sociocultural and evolutionary explanations for these orgasm gaps,” researchers wrote. “The results suggest a variety of behaviors couples can try to increase orgasm frequency.”
Geopolitics / The Deadly Cost of Turning Back the Immigration Tide
« Last post by RE on Today at 12:24:31 AM »
Can't WAIT until Mexicans start Bulldozing sections of the $30B fence right after they go up.  ::)

What a pork barrel boondoggle.


The Deadly Cost of Turning Back the Immigration Tide
Fear is spreading in Mexico and in the United States as Trump’s immigration crackdown continues. For some, death is better than deportation.

Andrea Noel
02.24.17 8:13 PM ET

TIJUANA, Mexico—Guadalupe Olivas Valencia was deported to Mexico on Tuesday morning. He was handed the last of his possessions in a clear U.S. government-issued plastic bag, and dropped off in Tijuana, at the international border dividing the United States from Mexico.

Less than an hour later he was dead.

Olivas was deported for at least the third time in his troubled life on Tuesday morning, but this time it would be his last. He leaped to his death from a pedestrian bridge at the international border, landing in a concrete river bed a stone’s throw from the metal fences meant to keep people like him out of San Diego, out of California, and out of the United States.

Hospital authorities said he was pronounced “dead on arrival” at 9:26 a.m. And witnesses told local media outlets that he appeared distressed in his final moments of life.

His mother said she last saw Olivas on Sunday. But on Monday, he crossed the border seeking asylum, which was promptly denied. U.S. authorities said in a statement that he “was found to be inadmissible.” So, on Tuesday morning he was repatriated to Mexico.

He telephoned his mother just moments before his death on Tuesday “to say goodbye.” And on Wednesday, she tearfully collected his corpse.

“His three children—who are 11, 19, and 21—are so sad, and his mother is devastated,” said Olivas’s aunt, Irma Delgado, during her nephew’s wake on Thursday night.

His three children arrived yesterday from their home town of Los Mochis, in the cartel stronghold of Sinaloa, from which Olivas’s mother came 30 years before with his six siblings to look for work.

After his funeral on Saturday, Olivas’s youngest daughter will return to Sinaloa to live with her maternal grandmother, taking her father’s ashes with her.

“His wife died three years ago. He couldn’t find work, or opportunity, and he felt so much desperation,” Delgado explained. “I don’t want to blame the president of the United States. I don’t want to blame him, he is just taking care of his country, but this does send a signal to immigrants in the U.S. and it is cause for worry.”

Even Olivas’s aunt, who has a visa that allows her to cross the border, was worried about whether news of her nephew’s suicide would affect her visa. “I hope they don’t try to take it away from me now,” she said.

As reports of Olivas’s death spread on social media this week, dozens of comments began to appear online. Those left in Spanish overwhelmingly lamented his passing. But in English, response to the news was mixed, with many variations on the theme, “Why didn’t he just get in line and cross the border legally like everyone else?”

“My dad’s immigration process took 14 years,” one California resident I spoke to said on Thursday. “Y'all literally don’t know what you’re talking about when you say just become a citizen.”


News of Donald Trump’s proposed plans to increase deportations spread throughout the United States, leaving thousands on edge, regardless of their legal status. Memos released last week outline the Department of Homeland Security’s plans to enforce President Donald Trump’s executive order to deport as many undocumented immigrants as possible. The result has been a wave of fear.
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For Trump, illegal immigration “presents a clear and present danger to the interests of the United States” and is therefore a number one priority now as it was during the campaign. His Jan. 25 executive order calls for increased measures to keep “those who illegally enter” and those who he deems “a significant threat to national security and public safety” out, and would focus on those he claims “seek to harm Americans through acts of terror or criminal conduct.”

The new guidelines will expand the use of “expedited removal” deportation procedures —previously reserved for those detained within 100 miles of the border, like Olivas. Now it will apply nationwide, which means that now immigrants can be removed without going before a judge or being allowed a court hearing.

The memos point out those who will be targeted first will be immigrants previously convicted of or charged with a crime. But, it would also include those who have not been, yet could be, like those who have knowingly misrepresented themselves—immigrants who use others’ social security numbers to seek employment. Caught up in the broad sweep would be any undocumented immigrant who has received public benefits, and more broadly still, anyone who “in the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.”

On this last point, the plan is to deputize local and state law enforcement officials, allowing them to serve in the spirit of immigration enforcers nationwide.

Fears have peaked as word of broad and unreasonable searches and detentions have been reported, like that of a Salvadorian woman in Texas, who while awaiting emergency brain surgery to remove a tumor was forcibly relocated by federal agents to a detention center on Wednesday. Or the dozens of passengers on a domestic flight to New York on Wednesday whose documents were reviewed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents while they searched for an immigrant who did not board the plane but had been scheduled for deportation on criminal grounds.

In the wake of the crackdown, several agencies have already stepped up to express their discontent, clarify their role, or outright refuse to comply with federal laws.

The Boston transit police tweeted on Thursday, “Transit police officers do NOT enforce Federal Immigration laws. We are here to serve everyone,” adding that they will continue to participate in counterterrorism efforts. The city of New York, a “sanctuary city,” tweeted the following reminder: “NYPD will not ask about the immigration status of New Yorkers seeking help or reporting a crime. Period.”

But rebelling against Trump’s orders will be costly business, and subject so-called sanctuary cities to massive cuts in federally allocated funds. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said in January that his city would be putting $250 million a year away in reserves, citing the “huge amount of uncertainty” the city will be facing. But New York is not alone in its dissent. Chicago, Los Angeles, Detroit, San Francisco, Boston, and Washington, D.C., are just a few of the cities whose funds will be at risk.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly traveled to Mexico City to meet with officials and discuss the changes to come.

Mexico’s foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, said during a joint press conference on Thursday alongside Tillerson, he was “grateful” for the visit, adding that it comes at a “complex moment for the relationship between the United States and Mexico” when Mexicans have grown “worried” and “irritated” at the recent changes in immigration policy.

“We have expressed our concern to Secretaries Tillerson and Kelly over the respect toward the rights of the Mexicans in the United States, in particular their human rights,” Videgaray said. He rejected the idea that one government—the U.S.—would be “making unilateral decisions” that would affect the other.

“We don’t have to” accept these decisions, he said. “It is not in the interest of Mexico.”

But Videgaray responded to the attacks against Mexican immigrants, by partially deflecting the blame further south, addressing the two countries’ “shared responsibility” to resolve the Central American migration that impacts them both—in particular migration stemming from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador—and said that “steps in the right direction” were taken during Thursday’s meeting.


“Mexico has been a close neighbor,” Tillerson said, following Videgaray’s prepared response. “In a relationship filled with vibrant colors, two strong sovereign countries from time to time will have differences.”

Tillerson placed particular emphasis on the Unites States’ and Mexico’s “joint commitment to maintaining law and order along our shared border by stopping potential terrorists and dismantling the transnational criminal networks moving drugs and people into the United States.” He also spoke of the “importance of stopping the illegal firearms and bulk cash that is originating in the United States and flowing into Mexico,” an often disregarded point on the United States’ role in the violence affecting Mexico’s most embattled regions.

But while these important issues were discussed, both countries failed to speak about the comprehensive immigration reform that would be necessary to put an end to the illegal immigration that the U.S. has made its primary concern.

Under current policy, Mexican citizens may pursue one of three legal pathways to entry, each with high hurdles to overcome.

Migrants may be allowed in if a U.S. employer sponsors them, which would require them to have somehow lined up a job in the U.S.—and one for which they are uniquely qualified, which cannot be filled by someone already in the U.S. This policy, by design, bars immigrants who have not had educational and economic opportunities in their home country, and caps are placed on how many visas for skilled workers are granted each year.

Caps are also placed on how many immigrants are allowed in who are not closely related to a legal U.S. resident—only children, spouses, and parents are exempt. But even when closely related, immigrants may not come in if their sponsor family in the U.S. still earns an income that is below the poverty line.

The poor and the undereducated are overwhelmingly left without legal migration opportunities by this policy, by design.

The best shot that migrants fleeing lack of opportunity, poverty, and violence in their home countries have is to apply for humanitarian asylum, like Olivas did on Monday, the day before his suicide.

But, like Olivas, many of those who seek asylum are denied entrance outright, and often even denied access to the authorities tasked with making the call.


Back in October, before President Trump took office, in an interview with The Daily Beast, Elida, a mother of eight children, described her attempt at seeking asylum in the U.S., after her husband was kidnapped by cartel members in the violence-afflicted state of Michoacan.

She was living in Tijuana then, in a migrant shelter for women in children, having arrived just days after cartel members shot down a government helicopter in her hometown, La Huacana. The cartel, she said, “were coming back for my daughter, so they could use her for themselves.”

“They see a little girl and say, ‘Come here chiquita, open your legs’,” she said. “Of course, we had to leave.”

But when she arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana, as perfect a candidate for asylum as there ever was, with no criminal record, a disappeared husband, nothing left to her name, and credible fear for her life, and the life of her daughter and remaining children, she was denied asylum, detained for three days, locked inside “the freezer”—an over air-conditioned detention cell—with her minor daughter, and sent back to Mexico, where volunteers gave her clothes and a bed to sleep in.

“I thought the americanos would help,” she said. “But instead they said that I’m now deported and can’t come back.”

Because she sought asylum, she has been flagged as a criminal, and blown her only chance at humanitarian asylum in the U.S.

“I didn’t jump over a fence or swim across a river,” she added. “I was just asking for help.”

Speaking last week to Tijuana-based immigration attorney Nicole Ramos—who was featured in a recent VICE News segment “Asylum Seekers Are Being Turned Away Illegally At U.S.-Mexico Border,” in which secretly recorded video showed a Central American migrant being denied access to asylum authorities at the border—Ramos explained to me that she almost always faces trouble with U.S. authorities at the border, and is often forced to read them sections of federal code while demanding her clients’ rights.

Nicole shared stories of several recent interactions that she has had with border officials while accompanying clients—clients who have been turned away at the border, denied credible fear interviews, and directed back into Mexico to visit with Mexican officials.

One of her clients said that in the days following Trump’s order to enact a partial Muslim travel ban, a Mexican female asylum seeker was turned away at the border and reminded that there are people from “other countries where Christians are being persecuted and killed” seeking asylum.

“Those are the people that we’re taking in. Not you people,’” according to Ramos, who was repeating what CBP officers told her client, who was illegally denied access to an asylum interviewer. “I think that was directly related to the executive order—the travel ban. But they don’t have the authority to do that.”

“They are making judgment calls that are not within their authority, instead of redirecting these cases for asylum interviews. CBP is pretty aggravated with me, because I do a lot of these cases pro bono, so they aren’t used to people coming in knowing what their rights are,” she said. “They claim I’ve been coaching my clients to lie to the authorities.”

Ramos recalled recently being threatened by CBP authorities, in the days following Trump’s executive orders, with authorities claiming they will have her processed for removal. Ramos explained that roughly 20 asylum seekers come to her for consultation each month. “This number has picked up since the election, because people are concerned that the border is going to close for them,” she said.

“CBP states publicly that everyone is being processed in accordance with the law, and that no one is being denied a ‘credible fear’ interview and that everything is running smoothly, but that’s just not true,” she said. “When I’ve brought people they have tried to turn them away, even in the presence of an attorney.”

Other asylum seekers have been processed by officials who’ve improperly filled out their processing forms, claiming that they claim no credible fear if they are returned to their home countries, she noted.


The day we spoke, Ramos had just returned from the border, where she accompanied two unaccompanied Colombian minors, who should be entitled to special protections under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. There, she was told that the children had to go meet with Mexican authorities first.

“What happens if you present a minor to Mexican authorities is you run the risk of them being placed [in child welfare protective custody in Mexico] and then potentially being deported,” Ramos said, adding that she refused to turn in the children, and demanded to speak to a supervisor.

“The pattern of basically telling asylum seekers to kick rocks has been ongoing, and they’ve become more aggressive in turning asylum seekers away in recent months,” Ramos said, adding that many of her clients—like Central American migrants who are not necessarily in Mexico legally—are put at risk by being blocked at the border and told to visit with Mexican immigration authorities first, at an office conveniently located right next to the Mexican immigration detention center.

“I think that the changing climate politically is emboldening these officers to take specific actions and to do things that they maybe used to do less blatantly,” she said, adding that Trump’s stance on immigration “gives border authorities more freedom to practice their racism more openly.”

“Since January I’ve had three Mexican asylum seekers turned away and told categorically ‘Mexicans do not qualify for asylum at this point in time,’” Ramos noted.

So, the current, unreformed immigration policy denies those seeking entrance reasonable access to the mythical “line” they are supposed to get into, which would allow them to emigrate legally.

Worse, it does so on the grounds that they are too poor, too undereducated, and indeed “too Mexican” to deserve the opportunities that the government and right-wing pundits claim they would have access to, if only they would try pursuing entrance legally.

The U.S. government, under President Donald Trump, has made the focus of its administration the building of a monstrous wall. But, so far, it has not proposed a gateway to entrance.

But those among us who do not understand this discrepancy continue to demand “they should just get in line like everyone else,” without considering the fact that—for those most in need—once they reach the front of the line, all they will see is more of the same wall they convinced themselves not to jump over.
Economics / JCPenney's store closures could push hundreds of dying shopping malls over the e
« Last post by RE on February 24, 2017, 08:06:02 PM »
At least there will be plenty of space for Homeless Squatters!  :icon_sunny:


JCPenney's store closures could push hundreds of dying shopping malls over the edge

    Hayley Peterson

The Canton Centre Mall in Canton, Ohio, is boarded up and vacant.Nicholas Eckhart

JCP JC Penney Rg
6.46 -0.40 (-5.80 %)
Disclaimer Get real-time JCP charts here »
M Macy's Rg
33.17 0.73 (+2.30 %)
Disclaimer Get real-time M charts here »
SHLD Sears Holdings Rg
7.74 -0.17 (-2.10 %)
Disclaimer Get real-time SHLD charts here »

A tidal wave of store closures is about to hit the US, experts say, and the result could be catastrophic for hundreds of lower-tier shopping malls.

JCPenney announced Friday that it would close up to 140 stores in the next couple of months.

That follows decisions by Macy's and Sears to close a collective 218 stores in the first half of the year. Other mall-based stores including American Apparel, The Limited, Bebe, BCBG, and Payless have also recently announced that they are shutting down all or most of their stores.

The rate of closures is higher than in previous years, signaling a new reality for the retail industry that consists of far fewer stores and, ultimately, fewer shopping malls.

"The signal sent by this [JCPenney] announcement: retailers are going to continue aggressively culling stores to appease Wall Street," said Ryan McCullough, a senior economist for the commercial real-estate firm CoStar Group.

Most of the stores that close will likely be located in lower-tier shopping malls — those referred to in the industry as B-, C-, and D-level malls. These shopping malls are already struggling, and many contain storefronts that have already gone dark.

About 338 malls in the US, roughly 31% of all malls, are rated C-quality or lower, according to the real-estate research firm Green Street Advisors.

The loss of department stores like JCPenney, Sears, and Macy's will likely plunge many of these malls further into distress and put some out of business. That's because department stores, also known as mall anchors, take up the large, multistory buildings at shopping center entrances that are responsible for large portions of mall traffic and rental income.

"These B- and C-level malls are going to get increasingly dark and less appealing because they don't have as much to offer," said Mark Cohen, the director of retail studies at Columbia Business School. "That creates a cycle of lack of investment, and eventually they will turn dark and dingy. Some mall owners will try to redevelop, and others will go into default."

Dying mall Regency SquareA vending machine and temporary wall cover the former entrance of a shuttered Macy's store in Regency Square Mall in Richmond, Virginia.Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Meanwhile, A-level malls, which are home to higher-end department stores like Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue, are enjoying some of the highest occupancy rates and healthiest sales productivity in years.

The losses hitting lower-quality malls will likely have little to no effect on the highest tier of shopping centers.

"The polarization between good and bad centers is intensifying," McCullough said.

In rare cases where A-quality malls have been hit with closures, the mall owners are often able to find even more productive replacement tenants, like restaurants, movie theaters, or other retailers.

But the same can't be said for lower-tier malls.

"Class B and C malls have not been as successful replacing the anchors and are resorting to non-retail tenants to prop up cash flows," McCullough said. "We expect that there will be a lot more attrition in the B/C mall segment over the coming years."

Cohen said the announcements from JCPenney, Sears, Macy's, and others are just the beginning of what could be an onslaught of additional closures this year.

"I think there are going to be hundreds and hundreds of stores closings that haven't been announced yet by these department stores for the rest of the year," Cohen said. "There's going to be an endless train of announcements."
Energy / Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
« Last post by RE on February 24, 2017, 07:52:38 PM »

February 24, 2017
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory

by Jeffrey St. Clair

If there ever was the sound of a doomsday clock chiming midnight, the signal moment probably occurred last fall, though the alarm went almost unnoticed by the press. In October, major observatories across the world simultaneously recorded that atmospheric carbon levels globally breached what has long been considered the “redline” of 400 parts per million and are likely to keep rising inexorably for the foreseeable future. The 400 parts per million mark has long been considered, even by climate optimists, a fatal tipping point, beyond which there is little hope of return.

One person who probably did take note, however, was Exxon’s CEO Rex Tillerson. I don’t know if Tillerson cracked an evil grin at the time, but I’m sure he must have felt that this grim milestone validated his strategic thinking for the past ten years as mastermind of the world’s largest oil conglomerate.

Despite what you may have heard from the Sierra Club, Rex Tillerson is not a climate change denier. He is something far more dangerous. Tillerson knows climate change is taking place. He was in position to possibly do something about it, evaluated his options and coolly chose not to change course.

Rex Tillerson took over Exxon in 2006, at a fraught time for the oil giant. Its longtime CEO, Lee Raymond, had just stepped down, handing the keys to the kingdom to his protégé, a star player on what the company called the “upstream” team, scouting and securing new oil fields to plunder. During his 12-year term as head of Exxon, Raymond ran the company with a dictatorial and dogmatic hand. He was hostile towards environmentalists and unflinching in his dismissal of climate science. Raymond sluiced tens of millions in company money into anti-environmental front groups, pro-oil politicians and industry-friendly scientists. But by 2005, there was a mini-rebellion brewing inside Exxon’s corporate headquarters in Irving, Texas. Like the French Revolution, this revolt was led by lawyers. (See Steve Coll’s definitive Private Empire: ExxonMobil and American Power.)

The company’s attorneys feared that through Raymond’s belligerence Exxon was making itself vulnerable to a legal attack for covering up and distorting the threats posed by climate change. The concern here wasn’t from lawsuits by outside groups, such as Greenpeace, but from the company’s own shareholders and investors who might claim that Exxon had concealed a looming financial risk to the company’s bottom line.

One of the big problems confronting Tillerson the day he took over the reins was the fact that the very scientists at MIT and Stanford who had been cashing Exxon’s checks for decades to churn out white papers questioning whether fossil fuel emissions were a driving force beyond climate change, had begun to change their tune. In fact, in 2003 MIT’s Global System Model, largely underwritten by Exxon, forecast a 2.4-degree-centigrade rise in global temperatures over the next hundred years. By 2006, those same scientists had more than doubled that estimate. Exxon faced the prospect of being betrayed by their own bought science.

Organizationally, Exxon changes course about as quickly and adroitly as its Valdez tanker did while trying to navigate Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound.  But Tillerson is a pragmatist. A Texas boy, Tillerson idealized the Boy Scouts and when he became head of the Exxon behemoth he began handing out merit badges to company executives who met their production quotas. He set to work with an Eagle Scout’s pious determination to quietly recalibrate the company’s position on climate change. It was, in Tillerson’s mind, a concession to reality.

During the early days of the Iraq War, Exxon set up a special team to run war games on how the invasion would affect the oil industry in terms of pricing, supply and distribution networks. It sent the results of these scenarios to Dick Cheney through Cheney’s factotum Douglas Feith, and so war planning and oil development proceeded in harmony. Tillerson was familiar with the Iraq war gaming and decided to use a similar technique to help chart the company’s new climate change strategy.

Tillerson wanted his secret squad of climate change gamers to answer four questions: 1. Is climate change real? 2. Is the threat serious? 3. Are there any effective actions that can be taken to halt or reverse climate change or mitigate the damage? 4. Are the world’s leading carbon emitters likely to impose binding limits on emissions in time to prevent runaway climate change? The answer to the first two questions was “yes”. The answer to the third question was “maybe” and the fourth “no”.

The lesson Tillerson took from this assessment was that climate change is a serious threat and no government has the will or perhaps even the means to confront it. Thus, the only responsible thing to do for the shareholders of Exxon was to push forward aggressively with exploration and development of new oil fields and ventures, from Amazonia to Russia, before some other company captured the reserves. Internally, this became known as the “end game” scenario.

As CEO of Trump’s foreign policy enterprise, Tillerson seems likely to impose this cynical template on the world at large by forging new alliances with old rivals in kind of a Pax petroliana, where the body count of hot wars will be replaced by the hidden, slow deaths caused by an atmosphere gone lethal.

* * *

Roaming Charges

+ Rarely has a political drag queen come off as such a whiney bore as Milo Yiannopoulos. But Milo’s fleeting moments of fame melted faster than a Hollywood snowflake, losing his book deal, speaking slot at CPAC and editorial gig at Breitbart all in a few short hours. Then he suffered the added humiliation of having the equally boorish Bill Maher seize credit for his downfall, when it was, in fact, a case of manufactured suicide, as Milo hung himself on his own quest for the outrageous.

Give Milo a little credit, though, he finally showed us where Republicans draw a red line: Koran-burning, pussy-grabbing, school shootings, rallies by Swastika-wearing goose steppers, all just good old American fun. But they won’t tolerate jokes about the sexual molestation of 13-year olds. Finally, some clarity. Thus we say farewell to one of the most rancid media curiosities of our torpid times.

As a final salute to Milo, President Trump signed an Executive Order overturning Obama’s rule on transgendered bathrooms. No word on whether Trump adorned himself in a single strand of Melania’s pearls for the occasion.

+ Trump: “We’re getting really bad dudes out of this country … it’s a military operation.” Military Operation, eh? So much for Posse Comitatus Act, which Bill Clinton incinerated at Waco.

+ This just in from CPAC, during a speech by the American Conservative Union’s Dan Schneider who denounced “the alt-right is a hateful left-wing fascist group.” Chew on that, Muchachos.

+ For years, the Washington Post toiled in the service of John Podesta. Now the Post is returning the favor. Jeff Bezos’s rag has just hired Podesta as a columnist. Let’s hope he focuses on his two favorite topics: food and (space) aliens. I’m up for some new risotto recipes and perhaps Podesta will be able to link aliens to the abduction of those Pizzagate kids.

+ Nathaniel St. Clair and I spent a fascinating hour with Oliver Stone at his offices in Los Angeles this week. Our talk ranged from the deflating spectacle of the Left’s incessant Russia-bashing to the deplorable state of the mainstream media, particularly the daily treacle streaming from the New York Times. Stone reprimanded me for my “questionable taste in movies.” I took his punch like a big boy, staggered but not floored. Then I counterpunched by saying how much I admired a couple of his lesser known films, especially Heaven and Earth, a movie which tells the story of the Vietnam War from a Vietnamese point of view. Stone concurred, still somewhat aggrieved that American film-going audiences had little interest in hearing about the experience of the Vietnamese people themselves. Deténte was established between us.

Stone is a true American auteur. Most of his projects are his from conception through execution. Some films are more successful than others, but none fail to be intriguing on some level, largely because they are projections of a coherent sensibility. Stone comes at film primarily as a writer, but he rarely lets the words overwhelm the movie. Film is, after all, a visual medium. I watched Platoon again a couple of weeks ago and it remains the best American film on that merciless exercise in imperial brutality. If you watched Platoon and Kubrick’s Full-Metal Jacket, you’ll learn more about the real experience of Vietnam than you’ll get the 18 platitudinous hours that the insipid Ken Burns is about to inflict upon the unsuspecting viewers of PBS. (One can only hope that Trump cuts off funding for CPB by September to spare us from having to endure Burns’s banal boilerplate.) More and more, I’ve come to think that Nixon stands as Stone’s greatest achievement. Shorn of the high-octane conspiracies of JFK, Nixon moves at a deliberate pace over the course of three hours, a deep character study of an enigmatic and malevolent mind, as it sinks into darkness and dread.

Stone’s recent film, Snowden, is equally vital. Snowden is not only one of the year’s best films, it is also perhaps the most important, a film that should be mandatory viewing in every American high school, especially those under the supervision of Betsy DeVos. Stone said Snowden took three years to research, digging that was all the more demanding because of the computer science and math. Stone doesn’t do math. I sympathize fully.

It’s no surprise that Snowden was largely ignored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But Stone’s fellow writers appreciated how well he told that complex story of surveillance, government criminality and courageous resistance and tapped him for the Laurel Award for best screenplay. His acceptance speech is an unsparing critique of the savageness of American foreign policy.

+ Net immigration from Mexico ended years ago, now more people are returning to Mexico than entering the US. Is Trump’s wall really designed to keep people in?

+ To the tune of the “Gorka Waltz“…

If you’re unable
to tell if they’re unstable
as they’re blabbing away on cable
just look for that Nazi label…
They praise it loudly
They wear it proudly
So look for their fascist tell–
Right there
on their

+ Speaking of Hitler, Trump’s new science advisor, William Happer, the Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics at Princeton University, is a 77-year old climate change denier with a predilection for Teutonic metaphors. Happer claims that carbon has been “demonized” by Nazi-like greens, as if the harmless little molecules were “poor Jews under Hitler.” He sees himself as the Oskar Schindler of fossil fuels…

+ Three Texans go on a hunt near the Mexican border: a guide and his two clients. Paranoia sets in. The guide suspects that someone has hijacked his truck and is hightailing it to the Hill Country. He fires his gun. The people in the truck return fire. Two are wounded. Turns out they are his clients, who had, for some reason probably involving alcohol consumption, commandeered his ride.

A cover story is concocted.

When the sheriff arrives, the men claim they encountered a trio of Mexican interlopers, of the undocumented variety, who tried to hotwire their truck. These were some very bad hombres and a gun battle ensued resulting in minor casualties on both sides. In the end, the heroic Texans prevailed and the invaders scattered back toward the border having learned a harsh lesson about messing with our boys.

Lamentably, this tall tale soon unraveled and the truth emerged, followed by charges of the legal kind. But no doubt these three gallant specimens of Texas manhood will be deputized by ICE upon their release from prison….

+ Perhaps this was the “Swedish Incident” that got Trump so fired up?

+ Time spent on the golf course (25 hours and counting) is time not spent ordering ICE raids on grandmothers and toddlers…

+ Trump just appointed Lt. Gen. HR McMaster–a Russia-hating, Cold War-loving, neocon hawk–as his National Security advisor. Will the Prez get the endorsement of the MSDNC crowd now?

+ Thank Gaia for fake news, so we don’t have to fret about the fact that the crippled and not yet-perhaps never to be-fixed Fukushima nuclear plant is now more radioactive than at any point since the triple-core meltdown in 2011. Over to you, George Monbiot.

+ Bono the Banal met with Mike Pence, hailed him  as the “2nd busiest man on the planet.” Achtung Baby!

+ Betsy DeVos’s brother Eric Prince, the mercenary entrepreneur,  is setting up two private army bases in China. Unarmed. Or so he claims. His track record in the veracity department is a little shaky.

+ No charges in Anaheim. I was down in Long Beach, Cal., sitting in a Mexican bar last night watching this unfold on Univision. Even though my Spanish is limited, I knew exactly what the police union rep and police chief were saying, the same thing they always say when they are covering up for an act of violent madness by one of their own.

And this from my old stomping grounds in Baltimore, a 16-year-old student, who was being threatened by a knife-wielding girl, was “rescued” by the cops in the following manner….

So, yeah, Fuck da Police, RAtM-style...

+ “You play with my world like it was your little toy….”

Sound Grammar

What I’m listening to this week…

Charles Lloyd and the Marvels: I Long to See You
Delbert McClinton: Prick of the Litter
Tift Merritt: Stitch of the World
Nicholas Payton: Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
Courtney Pine: House of Legends

Booked Up

What I’m reading this week…

Timothy B. Tyson: The Blood of Emmett Till
Michael Hudson: J is for Junk Economics
Ian Rankin: Rather be the Devil

Consciousness of Guilt

Assata Shakur: “If you are deaf, dumb, and blind to what’s happening in the world, you’re under no obligation to do anything. But if you know what’s happening and you don’t do anything but sit on your ass, then you’re nothing but a punk.”
Join the debate on Facebook

Jeffrey St. Clair is editor of CounterPunch. His new book is Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence (with JoAnn Wypijewski and Kevin Alexander Gray). He can be reached at:
Geopolitics / Trump White House Bars News Organizations From Press Briefing
« Last post by RE on February 24, 2017, 07:18:15 PM »
The mark of a real Libertarian!  Shut the doors to the newz crewz you don't like!  ::)

SNL should have a field day with this one.  I can see Spicey in the conference room with ONE reporter from Breitbart. :icon_mrgreen:


Trump White House Bars News Organizations From Press Briefing
“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” said New York Times editor Dean Baquet.

By Michael Calderone

The White House blocked several news outlets from attending a closed-door briefing Friday afternoon with press secretary Sean Spicer, a decision that drew strong rebukes from news organizations and may only heighten tensions between the press corps and the administration.

The New York Times and CNN, both of which have reported critically on the administration and are frequent targets of President Donald Trump, were prohibited from attending. The Huffington Post was also denied entry.

Both the Associated Press and Time magazine, which were allowed to enter, boycotted out of solidarity with those news organizations kept out.

Spicer said prior to the start of the administration that the White House may skip televised daily briefings in favor of an off-camera briefing or gaggle with reporters. But Spicer has continued doing televised daily briefings except when traveling, making Friday’s decision an unusual one that led to frustration among journalists kept out.

“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” Times executive editor Dean Baquet said in a statement. “We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”

Trump’s presidential campaign blacklisted nearly a dozen outlets through part of the 2016 election. However, Spicer said in December the Trump White House would not kick news organizations out of the briefing room over critical coverage. During a panel discussion that month with Politico, he said you can’t ban news organizations from the White House. “That’s what makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship.”

CNN suggested in a statement the Trump White House was retaliating against certain news outlets over their coverage.

Politico editor-in-chief John Harris and editor Carrie Budoff Brown said in a memo to staff after also being excluded that the newsroom’s management plans “to very vigorously assert and defend an independent media’s right to cover the institution of the Presidency.”

“Selectively excluding news organizations from White House briefings is misguided and our expectation is that this action will not be repeated,” they wrote.

Jeff Mason, a Reuters correspondent and president of the White House Correspondents Association, said the organization’s board “is protesting strongly against how today’s gaggle is being handled by the White House.”

“We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not,” Mason said. “The board will be discussing this further with White House staff.”

The gaggle included members of Friday’s White House press pool, which is a rotating group of journalists covering the president’s movements for the larger press corps. It also included journalists from major networks like NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News.

The White House also invited journalists from conservative outlets such as Breitbart News, The Washington Times and One American News Network, sparking concerns that the administration was playing favorites with certain politically aligned outlets.

“We had invited the pool so everyone was represented,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told HuffPost. “We decided to add a couple of additional people beyond the pool. Nothing more than that.”

Hours earlier, the president continued his attacks on the “fake news” media, which he dubbed an “enemy of the American people.”

Lydia Polgreen, editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, said she was “deeply disturbed” by the White House’s decision to bar HuffPost from the briefing and “heartened that other members of the White House Correspondents Association decided to protest the gaggle in solidarity.”

“We hope that the White House will recognize the vital importance of including all credentialed media outlets when briefing reporters on matters of undeniable public interest,” Polgreen said.

BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith also weighed in on his outlet being left out of the briefing. “While we strongly object to the White House’s apparent attempt to punish news outlets whose coverage it does not like, we won’t let these latest antics distract us from continuing to cover this administration fairly and aggressively,” he said.

Though a reporter from the Wall Street Journal attended, the paper said later it would not do so again under such circumstances.

“The Wall Street Journal strongly objects to the White House’s decision to bar certain media outlets from today’s gaggle,” a Journal spokesman said. “Had we known at the time, we would not have participated and we will not participate in such closed briefings in the future.”

This story has been updated to include comment from the Wall Street Journal, Buzzfeed, Politico and The Huffington Post.
Environment / Re: Standoff at Standing Rock
« Last post by RE on February 24, 2017, 06:40:56 PM »
If "impossibilist" was a word, I'd not be one of those.  But The Diner is populated mostly with impossiblists.

I'm not an impossibilist.  As I said, I fund the SUN☼ Project and I write all the time about how to survive collapse, including the latest Chapter 16 of How I Survived Collapse:icon_sunny:

You just don't like the possibilities I offer up.

Environment / Re: Standoff at Standing Rock
« Last post by JRM on February 24, 2017, 06:14:16 PM »
RE and I agree about the future mostly.  I'm sure there are some things we disagree on, and if there aren't then I'm sure we can come up with some shit to disagree about with regards to the future.  But all and all I think his assessment if pretty right on.

JRM, I appreciate your optimism.  Somebodies got to be optimistic.  I've long called myself an "optimistic pessimist."  If you are a Diner regular than I have no idea how you can be on the optimistic side of things.  I think the best we can do here is optimistic pessimism.  That being the case, I would put you, JRM, on the far optimistic side of that pessimistic place.  One more click and you'd click over to pessimistic optimism. 

The truth is that there is not a whole lot to be optimistic about with regards to a lower energy per capita future.  I see solar panels popping up like mushrooms.  Duke has partnered with some company locally, and if you have Duke power than you can get your house outfitted with solar panels at no cost to you.  You then pay the solar panel company for your power.  Solar panels require a lot of infrastructure, and never mind that they are servicing a retarded way of inhabiting the landscape to being with.  Modern stick built housing requires fossil fuels...period.  No way around it.  I mean you slap solar panels on top of asphalt shingles?  Are you kidding me?  How fucking stupid is that? 

Anyways, this is the Standing Rock thread, and I don't want to drift to far away from the topic.  I've said from the beginning that the Black Snake was going to cross the Missouri no matter what.  Well...I was right. 

Keep being the most optimistic Diner JRM.  Somebodies got to do it.  It is an important function that you play...lest we be accused of the accursed "group think."



1. a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.

2. the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.

3. the belief that goodness pervades reality.

4. the doctrine that the existing world is the best of all possible worlds.

As I keep saying, over and over through the years, I'm no optimist.

If "opportunist" wasn't defined as "a person who exploits circumstances to gain immediate advantage rather than being guided by consistent principles or plans," I might be one of those.  I'm interested in opportunity, "a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something."

That is, I'm interested in possibilities.

If "impossibilist" was a word, I'd not be one of those.  But The Diner is populated mostly with impossiblists.
Geopolitics / Re: The 3 Pillars of Deep State Must Be Knocked Down Post Haste
« Last post by luciddreams on February 24, 2017, 06:09:08 PM »
The only conspiracy IS >>>>>>>> Bill Hicks is Alex Jones.

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You could argue that Bill Hicks was a better comedian than George Carlin.  I'd love to hear a routine from both of them that's up to date.  I can't imagine what either would have done with the past election.  They both made the world a better place IMO.  At least they gave us some intellectual shit to laugh about.  I think Bill Burr is probably the best comic out there right now.  His shit's not always funny, but it's very entertaining, and he's even telling the truth about shit.  Especially population:

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

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