Saturday, May 26, 2018

How much do you know about Robert Mueller ?

Image result for picture of mueller 
More than half of Americans are not aware that special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election has uncovered crimes, according to a new survey from the progressive group Navigator.
The poll found that 59 percent of those surveyed by the left-leaning pollsters believe Mueller has not discovered any crimes, while 41 percent believe that he has. Mueller's investigation has issued 17 criminal indictments and has gotten five guilty pleas. Those who have pleaded guilty to crimes include former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump campaign aides Richard Gates and George Papadopoulos.
President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is among those who have been indicted. The poll also found that nearly all of those surveyed have at least heard of the Mueller investigation. Forty-nine percent said they've heard a lot about it, while 32 percent said they've heard some, 15 percent said they've heard a little, and just three percent said they've heard nothing about the probe. Trump has stepped up his attacks on the Mueller probe in recent days. He targeted rumors that there was a spy placed in his campaign in a tweet on Wednesday.
Donald J. TrumpVerified account @realDonaldTrump 
Look how things have turned around on the Criminal Deep State. They go after Phony Collusion with Russia, a made up Scam, and end up getting caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before! What goes around, comes around!
The president tweeted that the "Criminal Deep State" is "caught in a major SPY scandal the likes of which this country may never have seen before!" Trump tweeted. His tweets came after a meeting with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray, after Trump demanded an investigation into the surveillance of his campaign.
The Department of Justice earlier this week asked its inspector general to look into whether the FBI surveilled Trump's campaign.
The Global Strategy Group conducted the survey among a sample of 1,017 registered voters, including 200 independents, from May 11-16.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Impeachment may be Trump's finale

Presidential historian Jon Meacham said Monday that he thinks impeachment will be the "season finale" to President Trump's time in office.
Meacham told "Morning Joe" that Trump's vow to ask the Justice Department to investigate whether the FBI spied on his campaign is similar to former President Nixon's behavior ahead of firing special prosecutor Archibald Cox, and that his presidency is likely to end the same way as Nixon's.

Meacham said that the midterm elections present a likely opportunity for Democrats to impeach Trump.
"I would bet a good bit of money this is going to end up in the House with some kind of impeachment proceeding, and the makeup of that body and ultimately the reaction of the United States Senate, which is supposed to be the great deliberative check and the great final hammer on these things," he said. "I think ... that's going to be the season finale of this."

A majority vote in the House is required under the Constitution to impeach a president, which would be much more likely if Democrats retake the majority in this fall's midterm elections. Democratic leaders have been cautious in talking about impeachment, fearing it could become an election issue for Republicans to turn out their
In the Senate, a two-thirds majority vote is needed to win a conviction on impeachment - a high bar even if Democrats have a slim majority in the Senate.

Nixon was not impeached, but resigned after being told an impeachment vote in the House was unavoidable and that he would likely be convicted in the Senate.
Former President Clinton was impeached by the House in 1998, but was acquitted by the Senate in early 1999.
Meacham said that Trump's "obsession" with former President Obama and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton evokes Nixon.

"Both Nixon and Trump have an ongoing obsession with their former opponents in a way that I think shapes what they do in deleterious ways, to say the least," Meacham said. "He was always obsessed with what President Kennedy had gotten away with, in his view, and remember, of course, that's clearly true with President Trump."

Trump said Sunday that he would ask the Justice Department to investigate whether the FBI under Obama surveilled his campaign, after claiming several times without evidence that there was an FBI informant embedded in his campaign.
The Justice Department asked its inspector general to look into Trump's claims.
"If anyone did infiltrate or surveil participants in a presidential campaign for inappropriate purposes, we need to know about it and take appropriate action," Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement.
 C'mon Trump that is sheer paranoia. We all know Nixon was rife with paranoid delusions of conspiracies. He suspected everyone was out to stab him in the back. His most remembered refrain, " I am not a crook!"..... somehow evocative of , "There was no collusion".
Of course this could be another diversionary tactic or another attempt to delegitimize the Russian investigation. If you can make the entire justice system seem like criminals, you have to look good by comparison no matter what you have done.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Formal Wedding Photos

This photo released by Kensington Palace on Monday May 21, 2018, shows an official wedding photo of Britain's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, on the East Terrace of Windsor Castle, Windsor, England. Picture: Alexi Lubomirski/Kensington Palace via AP
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, surround by from left, back row, Brian Mulroney, Remi Litt, Rylan Litt, Jasper Dyer, Prince George, Ivy Mulroney, John Mulroney; front row, Zalie Warren, Princess Charlotte, Florence van Cutsem. (Alexi Lubomirski/Kensington Palace via AP)
 George and Charlotte smile sweetly
Wedding portrait. Pictured with Prince Harry and Meghan from left, back row, Jasper Dyer, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Doria Ragland, Prince William; centre row, Brian Mulroney, Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Charlotte, Prince George, Rylan Litt, John Mulroney; front row, Ivy Mulroney, Florence van Cutsem, Zalie Warren, Remi Litt. (Alexi Lubomirski/Kensington Palace via AP)

Informal Shots

Here Comes The Bride

That Veil

Twins On The Train 
Her train was held by twins

First Kiss!

It's In His Kiss

Hold On

The View From Above
Reception Time

Time for the fun second reception

A True Gentleman  

Glam Squad

Off They Go

Mommy And Me

Princess Charlotte Sweetness

Happy Family

Prince George

The Cake

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Randy Rainbow sings Rudy and the Beast


Randy is master of parody and political satire and gives it his own twist. I like how he nails people so precisely with their own words and deeds and turns it into a song.

U.S. Military Just Released This New Stunning Aerial Footage Of Hawaii Kilauea Volcano


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Trump admits Stormy hush payment

Trump and his fixer 

 Donald Trump has officially disclosed his reimbursement to his lawyer for a payment to a porn star to hush her claims of an affair.

The Office of Government Ethics found on Wednesday that Mr Trump ought to have revealed the payment in his previous financial disclosure.  The filing shows he paid back Michael Cohen for a 2016 expense of between $100,001 and $250,000.
Mr Trump previously denied knowing of the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels.
The White House stated in a footnote to the filing that it was listing the payment "in the interest of transparency", even though it contended it did not have to make the disclosure.
However, the head of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) wrote in a letter that "the payment made by Mr Cohen is required to be reported as a liability".
In his letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the OGE acting director says he is sending the president's latest financial disclosure and last year's one.
The ethics chief writes to Mr Rosenstein that "you may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing".
The deputy attorney general is overseeing the Department of Justice investigation into whether Trump aides colluded with alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
The Stormy Daniels payment is a potential legal problem for the president because it could be seen as an illegal campaign contribution.
Mr Cohen, whose records relating to the settlement were seized in an FBI raid last month, is now reportedly under criminal investigation.

Stormy Daniels with Donald Trump

Stormy Daniels says she had sex with Mr Trump at a Lake Tahoe hotel in 2006 . Does anyone believe she didn't have sex with Trump?

In April, Mr Trump said he was unaware Mr Cohen had paid Ms Daniels just before the 2016 election. Mr Trump's payment to Mr Cohen was first confirmed two weeks ago by Rudy Giuliani, another of the president's attorneys, in a television interview. Mr Giuliani said the transaction was to keep Ms Daniels quiet about her "false and extortionist accusation" that she had sex with Mr Trump, suggesting her claim could have damaged his candidacy.
Later that week, the president said the newly hired Mr Giuliani needed time to "get his facts straight". Also on Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee backed up the American intelligence community's findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 US election to help Mr Trump.
The panel's assessment contradicts a conclusion in March by the House Intelligence Committee rejecting allegations that the Kremlin had aimed to boost the Republican candidate's chances.

Grace Mahoney, 16 months, looks at a copy of 'The Art of the Deal' before the start of an event with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on October 15, 2016 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

 Mr Trump earned $100,000-$1m in royalties from "Art of the Deal" in 2017

What else did we learn?

The disclosure shows millions in 2017 income from rents, licences, book and television royalties, company shares, hotel management fees and golf courses, with interests that span the globe from India to Dubai.
The president even collected pensions, including $64,804 from the Screen Actors Guild. The report provides a glimpse of how the president's business fared during his first year in office, though comparisons are difficult since his prior disclosure covered 16 months.
His Washington hotel in a former Post Office building brought in more than $40m in 2017, its first full year in operation.His golf courses, including the president's Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Springs, did not appear to see major gains, despite frequent visits from the president.
Mar-a-Lago contributed $25m in income, compared to about $37m on the previous report. (Assuming the property performs evenly throughout the year, Mar-a-Lago would have brought in about $28m in 2016.)
The president reported royalties from his 1987 book Art of the Deal in the same $100,000-$1m range as he did last year - and sales for some of his lesser titles picked up.
Many of his shareholdings are in mutual and index funds, rather than the cross-section of American companies he once owned.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Melania Trump treated for benign kidney condition, in hospital

Thomson Reuters
May 14th 2018                 3:33PM
BETHESDA, Maryland/CHICAGO, May 14 (Reuters) - President Donald Trump's wife, MelaniaTrump, underwent a surgical procedure on Monday to treat a benign kidney condition and will remain at Walter Reed medical center for the rest of the week, the first lady's office said.

Spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham said in a statement that Mrs. Trump, 48, underwent an embolization procedure to treat the kidney condition.

"The procedure was successful and there were no complications," Grisham said. "The first lady looks forward to a full recovery so she can continue her work on behalf of children everywhere."

President Trump spoke with his wife of 13 years before the procedure and talked to the doctor after it was completed, a White House official said.
Trump later traveled by his Marine One helicopter to Walter Reed to visit his wife.

"Heading over to Walter Reed Medical Center to see our great First Lady, Melania. Successful procedure, she is in good spirits. Thank you to all of the well-wishers!" he tweeted.

An embolization is a minimally invasive procedure often used to block the flow of blood to a tumor or an abnormal area of tissue.

Dr. Keith Kowalczyk, a urologist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, said that based on available information it appeared that Melania Trump was treated for a benign tumor known as an angiomyolipoma.

"It's the most common benign tumor that's out there. It is a tumor, which means it's a growth. There's no worry for it to spread or metastasize. Once it's treated, it's treated," he said.

Kowalczyk said women in their mid to late 40s make up 80 to 90 percent of the cases of angiomyolipomas.

"It kind of all fits. But I don't know. Any time you are doing an embolization, it's because something might bleed. She's young and healthy and I can't really think of any other reason you would embolize someone like that."

Kowalczyk said angiomyolipomas are most commonly found by chance.

"Usually, with embolization there is over a 90 percent success rate," he said.

The Slovenian-born first lady last week rolled out an agenda for her White House work focused on helping children.

A CNN/SSRS poll found last week that Melania was viewed favorably by 57 percent of Americans, up from 47 percent in January. Her husband's job approval rating lags behind hers at 50 percent or less.

(Reporting by Steve Holland in Washington and Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago; editing by Jonathan Oatisand Leslie Adler)

A very  speedy recovery ...........Shadow &  Witchy

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Obama calls Trump's Iran announcement 'misguided,' decision to withdraw a 'serious mistake

GEOBEATS            May 8th 2018 
Former President Barack Obama has weighed in on President Trump’s announcement that the U.S. will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

“There are few issues more important to the security of the United States than the potential spread of nuclear weapons, or the potential for even more destructive war in the Middle East,” Obama wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “That’s why the United States negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the first place.”

“The reality is clear. The JCPOA is working – that is a view shared by our European allies, independent experts, and the current U.S. Secretary of Defense,” Obama added.

The former president further called Trump’s announcement “misguided” and a “serious mistake.”

“Walking away from the JCPOA turns our back on America’s closest allies, and an agreement that our country’s leading diplomats, scientists, and intelligence professionals negotiated. In a democracy, there will always be changes in policies and priorities from one Administration to the next. But the consistent flouting of agreements that our country is a party to risks eroding America’s credibility, and puts us at odds with the world’s major powers,” Obama noted.
Barack Obama
 There are few issues more important to the security of the US than the potential spread of nuclear weapons or the potential for even more destructive war in the Middle East. Today’s decision to put the JCPOA at risk is a serious mistake. My full statement: 
There are few issues more important to the security of the United States than the potential spread of nuclear weapons, or the potential for even more destructive war in the Middle East. That’s why the United States negotiated the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in the first place.

The reality is clear. The JCPOA is working – that is a view shared by our European allies, independent experts, and the current U.S. Secretary of Defense. The JCPOA is in America’s interest – it has significantly rolled back Iran’s nuclear program. And the JCPOA is a model for what diplomacy can accomplish – its inspections and verification regime is precisely what the United States should be working to put in place with North Korea. Indeed, at a time when we are all rooting for diplomacy with North Korea to succeed, walking away from the JCPOA risks losing a deal that accomplishes – with Iran – the very outcome that we are pursuing with the North Koreans.

That is why today’s announcement is so misguided. Walking away from the JCPOA turns our back on America’s closest allies, and an agreement that our country’s leading diplomats, scientists, and intelligence professionals negotiated. In a democracy, there will always be changes in policies and priorities from one Administration to the next. But the consistent flouting of agreements that our country is a party to risks eroding America’s credibility, and puts us at odds with the world’s major powers.

Debates in our country should be informed by facts, especially debates that have proven to be divisive. So it’s important to review several facts about the JCPOA.

First, the JCPOA was not just an agreement between my Administration and the Iranian government. After years of building an international coalition that could impose crippling sanctions on Iran, we reached the JCPOA together with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia, China, and Iran. It is a multilateral arms control deal, unanimously endorsed by a United Nations Security Council Resolution.

Second, the JCPOA has worked in rolling back Iran’s nuclear program. For decades, Iran had steadily advanced its nuclear program, approaching the point where they could rapidly produce enough fissile material to build a bomb. The JCPOA put a lid on that breakout capacity. Since the JCPOA was implemented, Iran has destroyed the core of a reactor that could have produced weapons-grade plutonium; removed two-thirds of its centrifuges (over 13,000) and placed them under international monitoring; and eliminated 97 percent of its stockpile of enriched uranium – the raw materials necessary for a bomb. So by any measure, the JCPOA has imposed strict limitations on Iran's nuclear program and achieved real results.

Third, the JCPOA does not rely on trust – it is rooted in the most far-reaching inspections and verification regime ever negotiated in an arms control deal. Iran’s nuclear facilities are strictly monitored. International monitors also have access to Iran’s entire nuclear supply chain, so that we can catch them if they cheat. Without the JCPOA, this monitoring and inspections regime would go away.

Fourth, Iran is complying with the JCPOA. That was not simply the view of my Administration. The United States intelligence community has continued to find that Iran is meeting its responsibilities under the deal, and has reported as much to Congress. So have our closest allies, and the international agency responsible for verifying Iranian compliance – the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Fifth, the JCPOA does not expire. The prohibition on Iran ever obtaining a nuclear weapon is permanent. Some of the most important and intrusive inspections codified by the JCPOA are permanent. Even as some of the provisions in the JCPOA do become less strict with time, this won’t happen until ten, fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years into the deal, so there is little reason to put those restrictions at risk today.

Finally, the JCPOA was never intended to solve all of our problems with Iran. We were clear-eyed that Iran engages in destabilizing behavior – including support for terrorism, and threats toward Israel and its neighbors. But that’s precisely why it was so important that we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Every aspect of Iranian behavior that is troubling is far more dangerous if their nuclear program is unconstrained. Our ability to confront Iran’s destabilizing behavior – and to sustain a unity of purpose with our allies – is strengthened with the JCPOA, and weakened without it.

Because of these facts, I believe that the decision to put the JCPOA at risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake. Without the JCPOA, the United States could eventually be left with a losing choice between a nuclear-armed Iran or another war in the Middle East. We all know the dangers of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon. It could embolden an already dangerous regime; threaten our friends with destruction; pose unacceptable dangers to America’s own security; and trigger an arms race in the world’s most dangerous region. If the constraints on Iran’s nuclear program under the JCPOA are lost, we could be hastening the day when we are faced with the choice between living with that threat, or going to war to prevent it.

In a dangerous world, America must be able to rely in part on strong, principled diplomacy to secure our country. We have been safer in the years since we achieved the JCPOA, thanks in part to the work of our diplomats, many members of Congress, and our allies. Going forward, I hope that Americans continue to speak out in support of the kind of strong, principled, fact-based, and unifying leadership that can best secure our country and uphold our responsibilities around the globe.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Whatever Happened to Josef Mengele ... The Angel of Death ??

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Josef Mengele,  AKA ' The Angel of Death', did a pretty smart thing—he did not try to leave Germany right away, as other highly placed Nazis were doing. The border patrol caught most of those people right away. He began to wear his hair differently, grew facial hair and wore rough clothing—as though he was a farmer. He got a job on a farm and for almost 3 years he worked on the farm as a laborer. He mentioned later to friends that he did not know if the farm couple recognized him or not. They did not let on that they did, and they seemed to trust him to be responsible with the crops and the animals. And he was. The whole point was to hide in plain sight until he could arrange to get out of Germany and Europe all together under the name he was using while being a farm-hand.
His goal was Argentina, which had a government that was pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic. There were many German ex-patriots living in Argentina, and he knew he could make friends there and probably live quietly. There was some thought that he wanted to be a part of a strong neo-Nazi group so that Germany could ‘rise again’. This did not happen. After about 3 years on the farm, he had money to leave—his father and grandfather were owners of a big farm-machinery plant in Northern Germany, and they were probably sending him money. He walked a great deal to get to train-stations, and kept his clothing simple and his hair arranged the way it was on the farm. He used a rural German dialect—not proper German.
He did not relate to anyone in a social or educated manner while working his way west. Over a period of weeks, using the train system and walking when he had to, he was able to board a ship for Argentina. Argentina changed over the years that he lived comfortably there—it became less anti-simitic and began to help the organizations who were trying to find escaped Nazi officers.
Thus, with his family’s money and contacts dwindling away, himself aging, he moved to Paraguay. I believe he was living in Paraguay but visiting the beach in Brazil when he drowned in 1979. He was a strong swimmer but it is believed he had a stroke while some distance from shore. He was buried, under the name Wolfgang Gerhard, in the Nossa Senhora do Rosario cemetery in Embu.
Older Mengele ... The eyes of purest evil
Bounty hunters and Nazi hunters continued searching for the former Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp doctor for many years after his death. Even after his skeleton was found in grave number 321 in Embu, the hunt continued. Skeptics suspected that the Mengele clan in his hometown of Günzburg had invented the story to detract from Mengele's real whereabouts. It is now clear that this is almost impossible, after a DNA analysis of genetic samples taken from Mengele's remains produced a 99 percent match with samples taken from his son Rolf.
"Angel of Death" Diary Shows No Regrets
A diary and letters written by Mengele that recently surfaced in police archives in Sao Paulo, Brazil, show that the infamous concentration camp mass murderer remained a dyed-in-the-wool Nazi until his death. He regretted nothing.
He treated prisoners like laboratory rats during the Nazi era, and surgically removed people's hearts while they were still alive and sliced newborns into pieces --

The diary, as well as 84 other documents and a hand-written life history, were found in two cardboard boxes in the records department of the Brazilian federal police in Sao Paulo. Investigators found the documents in 1985, together with books and personal mementos, in the Sao Paulo home of the German couple Lieselotte and Wolfram Bossert, as well as in their beach house at Bertioga. At the time, however, they paid little attention to their find.
Almost everything was still in perfect condition: the library that included works by Goethe, Goebbels, Erich Fromm und Siegfried Lenz, medical literature about soft tissue rheumatism, an Olympic souvenir placard, a package of "Olla" brand condoms.
In some respects, the find from the eleventh floor of the federal police headquarters building in Sao Paulo is sensational. The letters and diary contain many new details about the life in exile of Auschwitz's "angel of death." They provide sudden insight into Mengele's paradoxically bourgeois character, into his ability to repress memories, into the incomprehensible contradiction between his bestial approach to science and his weakness for the beauty of art.

The letters are addressed to Mengele's son, Rolf, and Wolfgang Gerhard, an Austrian former Nazi who took in Mengele for a few years and moved from Brazil back to Austria in 1971. When he left Brazil, Gerhard gave his friend Josef his identification papers and his identity.
 Mengele may have escaped justice in the eyes of his surviving prisoners and most people of scruples and conscience...but he lived the life of a fugitive, always running, always looking over his shoulder.
He had almost no friends and trusted very few people. I doubt he slept well and he probably saw Nazi hunters around every corner. He knew that, if caught, he would be executed for the atrocities, carnage and crimes against humanity that he was responsible for. Not a very enviable life and if there is a hell, he is burning there, eternally.
All that is left of Josef Mengele, disinterred with his false dentures in place

Thursday, May 03, 2018

NAFTA Still Blowing in the Wind

US President Donald Trump (R) and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau
 Donald Trump has given Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau much to think about
Donald Trump has been keeping Canada on its toes since he became US president at the start of last year. When it comes to matters of trade, Mr Trump has been resolutely hawkish, vowing repeatedly to put "America first". As the US is far and away Canada's largest trading partner, this has inevitably caused concern north of the border. And given that Mr Trump has repeatedly threatened to tear up the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) between the US, Canada, and Mexico, alarm in Ottawa has been somewhat justified. Especially as Donald Trump's administration has already hit Canadian softwood lumber with import tariffs of more than 20%.
Mr Trump hasn't pulled the US out of Nafta, despite having once called it "the worst trade deal ever made". Instead talks have taken place since August of last year between US, Canadian and Mexican trade representatives to agree a new deal. While a deadline of 1 May to sign a new agreement came and went, a new one has been set for 1 June, and face-to-face talks are due to resume on 7 May. In Ottawa there is renewed optimism that a decent deal can be agreed.
"There is positive momentum, but as we all know it won't be done until it's done," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Monday.
Yet despite key voices south of the border backing Canada's call for a positive new Nafta agreement, such as the US Chamber of Commerce, some Canadian industries remain nervous.

"There's a lot of worry," says Francois Dumontier, spokesman for the Milk Producers of Quebec organization. Donald Trump wants the US dairy industry to have improved access to the Canadian market.

A farmer worker in Wisconsin
Donald Trump wants the US dairy industry to have improved access to the Canadian market

Dairy farms in Quebec and across Canada in general are concerned about the talks because of Mr Trump's strong opposition to Canada's dairy supply management system. The long-running scheme, which is undeniably protectionist, offers Canadian farmers a guaranteed price for their milk, and puts high tariffs on dairy goods from abroad. Donald Trump has demanded an end to the system, arguing that it is unfair on American farms and shows that Canada has "disregard" for its trade obligations.

Given that it has already been hit by large US tariffs the Canadian lumber industry is another sector concerned about the details of any new Nafta deal. The US government's complaint is that Canada is improperly subsidizing its lumber industry.. This is a longstanding American frustration, and dispute over the issue has flared up repeatedly between the two countries over the past 30 years.
In December, the US International Trade Commission ruled that Canadian lumber was being sold in the US at less than a fair price, which had "materially harmed" the industry in the US. Canada denies this.
Susan Yurkovich, from the British Columbia Lumber Trade Council, says the industry is coping with the tariffs because demand from the US is currently so high.
"[But] if we were in a down market, it would be very different," she says. The burden of tariffs could break the back of the industry.
Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz has said that uncertainty over the Nafta deal is weighing on the Canadian economy, with investments being postponed or diverted south of the border.
Other companies told the bank they were hopeful their American subsidiaries would benefit from US tax cuts, or were optimistic about reaping benefits from strong economic growth in the US over the coming months.
Last year trade between the US and Canada in both directions totalled $674bn according to the Office of the US Trade Representative.

To help secure a favourable new Nafta deal, Canada has launched a charm offensive in the US. Mr Trudeau and his cabinet ministers have been beating a path down to Washington and to US states with strong economic ties to Canada.
In addition to the prime minister and his colleagues, provincial premiers, big city mayors, and former prime ministers have all also been making the case to American lawmakers to avoid protectionism and embrace Canada-US trade.

They are helped by numerous allies in the US who also want a decent new Nafta agreement, such as the US Chamber of Commerce. This powerful lobbying group has called some of Mr Trump's Nafta demands "highly dangerous", and have urged the president to protect Nafta's economic benefits.
Pro-trade US Republican governors have called on the president not to withdraw from the deal.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes a selfie with steel workers at a steel plant in Canada 
Canada's steel workers, such as these visited by Prime Minister Trudeau, hope that a new Nafta deal will secure their future

Until a deal is signed, Canada's steel and aluminium industries are two other sectors of the Canadian economy that remain  very nervous. They want a new Nafta agreement to give Canada permanent exemptions to US tariffs on metal imports. The issue is particularly pressing in Hamilton, Ontario, the largest steel manufacturing city in Canada, where 10,000 direct jobs depend on the product, and supply chains are heavily integrated with the US and Mexico.
 The president  of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, was in Washington DC recently, and says although he was encouraged at what seemed to be reinvigorated talks.
"We just have no idea how this will end up," he says.


The president’s new lawyer can’t keep his story straight.
BY ABIGAIL TRACY              MAY 3, 2018 
Donald Trump’s decision to hire Rudy Giuliani as his personal attorney appeared to backfire spectacularly on Wednesday night as the former prosecutor veered off script during an interview with Sean Hannity, as Giuliani undercut the president’s public statements on several issues, including his relationship with his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen and the ouster of former F.B.I. Director James Comey. But the most startling disclosure was Giuliani’s assertion that Trump not only knew about Cohen’s $130,000 payment to buy the silence of adult-film star Stormy Daniels about her alleged affair with the president, but that he reimbursed Cohen for the hush money—potentially implicating Trump in a violation of campaign-finance laws.

Giuliani offered the admission unprompted, in response to an unrelated question about the status of the ongoing Trump-Russia investigation. The payment to Daniels, he asserted, would “turn out to be perfectly legal” because the money came out of Trump’s own pocket. “Sorry, I’m giving you a fact now that you don’t know,” he continued. “It’s not campaign money. No campaign-finance violation.”

When Cohen first acknowledged the payment in February, his insisted that the president had no knowledge of it. “I used my own personal funds to facilitate a payment of $130,000 to Ms. Stephanie Clifford,” Cohen said in a statement. “Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly.” In March, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that she has conversations with Trump about hush money and “There was no knowledge of any payments from the president.” When Trump himself was asked whether he knew about the $130,000 sum, his response was terse: “No,” he said, adding, “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen.”

Recognizing that Giuliani had made a potentially damning admission, Hannity offered the former presidential candidate an opportunity to clarify his comments about the payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. But Giuliani didn’t take it. “The question there was, the only possible violation there would be: was it a campaign-finance violation? Which usually results in a fine, by the way, not this big stormtroopers coming in and breaking down his apartment and breaking down his office,” Giuliani explained. “That was money that was paid by his lawyer, the way I would do, out of his law firm funds or whatever funds—it doesn’t matter—and the president reimbursed that over the period of several months.” (Giuliani later told The New York Times that the repayment had been made in $35,000 installments, over several months, totaling “$460,000 or $470,000”—an amount, he said, that included “incidental expenses.”)

In a series of tweets Thursday morning, Donald Trump described these payments as “a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign.” But legal experts were immediately skeptical of the idea that the arrangement would not have constituted an illegal, “in kind” campaign contribution. According to Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, a “contribution” is defined as “any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office.” Notably, the money does not need to come from a campaign’s coffers. “If Trump knew that Cohen was advancing him a $130,000 loan for campaign purposes, that would have to be reported by the campaign, as would the payments Giuliani said Trump made in installments to Cohen. These would be campaign expenditures that the committee has to keep track of,” Richard Hasen, a professor of election law at the University of California-Irvine, wrote for Slate.

It’s also an incredibly high-risk legal strategy, given that federal agents recently raided Cohen’s properties, giving prosecutors for the Southern District of New York access to thousands of documents potentially related to the investigation. As Hasen notes, the argument that “Trump did not know the specifics of what Cohen was doing; just that Cohen was the fixer taking care of things just like Giuliani said he did for his clients,” is a “defense that could well be corroborated or rejected based on what’s in the seized Cohen materials.”

Trump and Giuliani may have drawn inspiration from a similar scandal involving former Senator John Edwards, who was indicted after it was revealed that his donors paid his pregnant mistress during the 2008 presidential election. Ultimately, prosecutors were unable to convince a jury that the donors sought to influence the election, rather than simply hide the affair from Edwards’s wife. If Trumpworld can convincingly muddy the waters about what Trump knew, and when he knew it, any legal exposure may be limited to Cohen.

Giuliani, however, is a loose cannon, and is already struggling to keep his story straight. In a follow-up interview with Fox & Friends on Thursday morning, Trump’s new lawyer appeared to undermine his own position. “Imagine if that came out on October 15, 2016, in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton?” he asked, suggesting that the payment was, in fact, related to the presidential campaign, and not simply a personal matter. “Cohen made it go away,” he added. “He did his job.”

Even if Trump can pin the blame on Cohen, he could still be on the hook for not reporting the repayment as a campaign expense. “It seems that Trump in effect received a loan from Cohen that he later paid back, yet Trump apparently did not disclose that loan on the financial disclosure for 2016 that Trump filed in 2017,” Kathleen Clark, an ethics and law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, told me. “Failing to disclose that loan might constitute a false statement to the federal government, a criminal violation.” According to Federal Election Commission guidelines, “If a candidate obtains a bank loan for campaign-related purposes, the committee must report the loan from the candidate as a receipt and repayment of the loan to the candidate as a disbursement.”

Daniels’s attorney Michael Avenatti said that he was “stunned” and “speechless” in the wake of Giuliani’s disclosure. “If this is accurate, the American people have been lied to and deceived for months. And justice must be served,” he said. Paul S. Ryan, the vice president for policy and litigation at the government watchdog group Common Cause, also argued that Giuliani had increased the president’s legal liability. “Giuliani seemingly thought he was doing President Trump a favor—but instead made Trump’s legal problems much, much worse,” he told the Times.
Witchy sez : As a lawyer's wife , a lawyer of Giuliani  status should know a slip of the tongue is no favor ... this may be a way to get even  with tRUMP  for ignoring him in the past  
The tide is turning  .....HeHe

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Really Donald ??

 CaMUNSIF VENGATTIL        May 2nd 2018 4:05PM
Cambridge Analytica, the data firm embroiled in a controversy over its handling of Facebook Inc user data, and its British parent firm SCL Elections Ltd are shutting down immediately, the company said on Wednesday.

SCL Elections and Cambridge Analytica will begin bankruptcy proceedings, the firm said, after losing clients and facing mounting legal fees in the controversy over reports the company harvested personal data about Facebook users beginning in 2014.

"The siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the Company’s customers and suppliers," the company's statement said.

"As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business, which left Cambridge Analytica with no realistic alternative to placing the company into administration."

Allegations of improper use of data on 87 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by President Donald Trump's 2016 U.S. election campaign, has hurt the shares of the world's biggest social network and prompted multiple official investigations.

"Over the past several months, Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of numerous unfounded accusations and, despite the company’s efforts to correct the record, has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas," the company's statement said. 

The firm is shutting down effective Wednesday and employees have been told to turn in their computers, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier.

Cambridge Analytica is a part of SCL Group, a government and military contractor that says it works on everything from food security research to counter-narcotics to political campaigns. SCL was founded more than 25 years ago, according to its website.

Cambridge Analytica was created around 2013 initially with a focus on U.S. elections, with $15 million in backing from billionaire Republican donor Robert Mercer and a name chosen by future Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon, the New York Times reported.

Cambridge Analytica marketed itself as providing consumer research, targeted advertising and other data-related services to both political and corporate clients.

After Trump won the White House in 2016, in part with the firm’s help, Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix went to more clients to pitch his services, the Times reported last year. The company boasted it could develop psychological profiles of consumers and voters which was a “secret sauce” it used to sway them more effectively than traditional advertising could.

One unanswered question in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether there was any collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia is whether Russia’s Internet Research Agency or Russian intelligence used data Cambridge Analytica obtained from Facebook or other sources to help target and time anti-Hillary Clinton, pro-Trump and politically and racially divisive messages during the election.

Bannon was a former vice president of the London-based firm, and Mueller has asked it to provide internal documents about how its data and analyses were used in the Trump campaign, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

(Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Patrick Graham and Bill Rigby) 

Monday, April 30, 2018

Trump's Hated Migrant caravan ... Just Frightened Homeless People Looking for a Little Compassion

Protesters gather at the US-Mexico border fence at a beach in Tijuana, Mexico, 29 April 2018
                 The caravan of Central American migrants arrived at the border town of Tijuana on Sunday

With many tears and much trepidation, the migrants prepared to set off on foot for the final short stage of their long journey to the US border. The patience of the many children among their number was striking - although perhaps weariness was the real explanation.
One little girl stood quietly as a woman fixed the child's hair for an interview at the border which could determine the direction of her life. A small boy in an oversized checked coat sucked his fingers and gazed around at the crowd as he sat on a man's shoulders. A baby in a blue onesie and a little girl clutching a doll were also watching and waiting.
President Donald Trump says these families are putting the United States in peril. The migrants themselves insist they are fleeing danger, not bringing it with them.
A mother and her sleeping son in the Mexican border town of Tijuana, 29 April 2018
"Anna", 25, says she escaped Guatemala with her two-year-old son because she feared the boy's father was going to kill him.
"It was hard," she told me in Spanish. "We suffered on the way."
She trembled as she spoke and tears ran down her face. Her little boy squirmed in her arms.
"Thank God we're here," she said. "Many people have supported us, have helped us - but it hurts to leave my country."
That is a common sentiment among the migrants. There is pride and patriotism here, tinged with regret and distress. The blue and white stripes and stars of the Honduran flag were proudly on display and the national anthem of Honduras was proudly belted out.
"My country is beautiful," says Maritza Flores, 38, from El Salvador. "Beautiful places, but there is a lot of crime.
"We leave our countries under threat. We leave behind our home, our relatives, our friends."
Ms Flores has been with the caravan since it set off from the southern tip of Mexico. She is travelling with her daughters, aged six and three.
"We had to bury some of our relatives before we left," she says, wiping a tear from her face.

A woman and two children pose for a photo near the US-Mexico border, 29 April 2018
                                       Maritza Flores says her father was killed before she joined the caravan

After a long pause she adds: "My father was one of them. He was tortured."
"Many people think we left because we are criminals. We're not criminals - we're people living in fear in our countries. All we want is a place where our children can run free - where they're not afraid to go out to the shops."
This has been a journey beset with trauma. It has also been a long one, with the section through Mexico alone covering 2,000 miles (3,200km) from Tapachula on Mexico's southern border to Tijuana in the north. "Anna" and her son had already travelled for three weeks before joining the caravan.

Months in detention

On a breezy Sunday afternoon some 200 of the migrants, including dozens of children, were driven in buses to the beach for a final rally before they decided whether or not to head for the busiest port of entry in the US and try to seek asylum. This is not an easy decision, despite President Trump's assertion that the caravan members come to the border "because they know that once they get here they can walk right into our country".
This did not prove to be accurate.

Protesters gather at the US-Mexico border fence at a beach in Tijuana, Mexico, 29 April 2018

Protesters gathered at both sides of the border fence on the Pacific coast

Nor is it the experience of many Central Americans seeking asylum. Most have their claims rejected. They often spend months in detention. They risk being deported to the country from which they are fleeing. Parents are terrified of being separated from their children, although the US authorities say that only happens if a crime like child trafficking is suspected.
On the beach in Tijuana, where a metal fence separating California and Baja California runs into the foaming Pacific Ocean, protesters rallied on both sides on Sunday morning, determined to drown out the words of Donald Trump. At the sea-washed gates of the world's most-powerful nation, the president's opponents said they wanted to see a United States built on compassion not hostility.
"Regretfully, this president doesn't have a heart," said one of the protesters, Christina Felipe Ramirez, 67.
"This president is the devil. He is a president descended from immigrants but he won't put his hand on his heart and understand that we immigrants also have the right to be here. Because we are more from here than he is, because he is not from this continent, we are from this continent."

An uncertain fate

By the time the rally was over and the migrants were preparing to take the final few steps to the border, word was seeping through that there was a problem.

Protesters holding a Spanish banner, which reads "diversity without borders", Tijuana, Mexico, 29 April 2018
                          There was a final rally before some migrants entered via the San Ysidro border crossing

The US authorities were arguing that they didn't have the room, didn't have the resources to handle the asylum claims. Defiant, desperate, the migrants pushed on anyway. As they neared the frontier, the organizers of the caravan placed those they deemed the most vulnerable at the front of the queue: women, children and transgender people.
And then they were off - disappearing into the bright tunnels and white corridors of the San Ysidro border crossing, the busiest in the United States, their fate uncertain.
Something of a stalemate followed. The handful of migrants who had made it through the Mexican side of the border vanished from sight, the others were left to hunker down on the concrete.
And so this day in the caravan ended like so many others - with nothing more than American dreams.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Koreas make nuclear pledge after historic summit

Shaking hands across the border between North and South Korea 
 A bit of Korean pomp and ceremony
The leaders of North and South Korea have agreed to work to rid the peninsula of nuclear weapons, after holding a historic summit.
The announcement was made by the North's Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in of South Korea after talks at the border. The two also agreed to push towards turning the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953 into a peace treaty this year.
The summit came just months after warlike rhetoric from North Korea.
Speaking at a banquet after Friday's talks, Mr Kim hailed the progress he said had been made.
"We bade farewell to the frozen relationship between North and South Korea, which was a nightmare. And we announced the beginning of a warm spring to the world," he said.

What is in the agreement?

Details of how denuclearization would be achieved were not made clear and many analysts remain sceptical about the North's apparent enthusiasm for engagement.
An issue for the North is the security guarantee extended by the US, a nuclear power, to South Korea and Japan and its military presence in both countries.
Previous inter-Korean agreements have included similar pledges but were later abandoned after the North resorted to nuclear and missile tests and the South elected more conservative presidents.
Mr Kim said the two leaders had agreed to work to prevent a repeat of the region's "unfortunate history" in which progress had "fizzled out".
"There may be backlash, hardship and frustration," he said, adding: "A victory cannot be achieved without pain."

Apparently there were some lighter moments
Other points the leaders agreed on in a joint statement were:
  • An end to "hostile activities" between the two nations
  • Changing the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that divides the country into a "peace zone" by ceasing propaganda broadcasts
  • An arms reduction in the region pending the easing of military tension
  • To push for four-way talks involving the US and China
  • Organizing a reunion of families left divided by the war
  • Connecting and modernizing railways and roads across the border
  • Further joint participation in sporting events, including this year's Asian Games
The commitment to denuclearization does not explicitly refer to North Korea halting its nuclear activities but rather the aim of "a nuclear-free Korean peninsula".
The two countries have also agreed to seek international support to reach this goal, the joint statement says.

Signing the joint Declaration


What do China and the US say?

China later praised the political determination and courage of both leaders and said it hoped the momentum could be maintained.
US President Donald Trump also welcomed the news, tweeting that "good things are happening".
Mr Kim is due to meet Mr Trump in the coming weeks. Speaking in Washington, Mr Trump said the meeting would take place in one of two countries under consideration and vowed he would not be "played" by the North Korean leader.
"We will come up with a solution and if we don't we'll leave the room," he said.
New US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo - who earlier this month travelled secretly to Pyongyang to meet Mr Kim - said his impression was that Mr Kim was serious about reaching a deal.
"The economic pressure put in place by this global effort that President Trump has led has led him to believe that it's in his best interest to come to the table and talk about denuclearisation," he said, speaking at a Nato meeting in Brussels.

How did Friday's summit unfold?

The leaders were met by an honour guard in traditional costume on the South Korean side. The pair walked to the Peace House in Panmunjom, a military compound in the DMZ.
Mr Kim then invited the South Korean president to step briefly across the demarcation line into North Korea, before the pair stepped back into South Korea - all the while holding hands.
It was an apparently unscripted moment during a highly choreographed sequence of events.
            Mr Kim and his wife Ri Sol-ju (L) sat with Mr Moon and his wife Kim Jung-sook (R)

The two leaders spoke together during a session broadcast live on South Korean TV.
Mr Kim jokingly apologized to Mr Moon for repeatedly forcing him to get up early because of the North's missile and nuclear tests.
"I heard you [President Moon] had your early morning sleep disturbed many times to attend National Security Council meetings," he said. "I will make sure that your morning sleep won't be disturbed."
"Now I can sleep in peace," Mr Moon replied.
Mr Kim also acknowledged that the North's infrastructure lagged behind that of the South.
"I'm worried that our transport situation is bad so it may discomfort you, it may be embarrassing [for me] if you visit North Korea after living in the South's environment," he said.

After separating for lunch, the two leaders took part in a tree-planting ceremony using soil and water from both countries.

Mr Kim travelled in a car surrounded by jogging bodyguards

They later attended a banquet where Mr Kim was expected to be served the Swiss potato dish rösti - a nod to his time studying in Switzerland - along with the North's signature dish of cold noodles, and a North Korean liquor.
Mr Kim was accompanied for the symbolic discussions by nine officials, including his powerful sister, Kim Yo-jong. So far there has been no mention of the summit's outcome on North Korean TV.

How did we get here?

Few had predicted a development like this, as North Korea continued its nuclear and missile tests and stepped up its rhetoric through 2016 and 2017.  The rapprochement began in January when Mr Kim suggested he was "open to dialogue" with South Korea.
The following month the two countries marched under one flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, held in the South.
South Koreas react while watching images of the inter-Korean summit
South Koreans celebrate

Mr Kim announced last week that he was suspending nuclear tests.
Chinese researchers have indicated that North Korea's nuclear test site may be unusable after a rock collapse.
 Wait ... what ?? Was it a rock slide that brought on this sudden change of heart? Who knows what goes on in the mind of megalomaniac ? Don't forget he poisoned his own brother for some obscure reason. This good guy, peacemaker image does not sit well over the war mongering dictator image we have always known and hated.. Time will tell his real intentions.

Guess who's taking credit for the summit ?